“You’re a gay?!”
“No, Grandpa. I said, ‘I’m okay!’” Gene said as he picked himself up from the floor.
“Oh. Cause you know how I feel about gays. They’re nothing but perverted whackos. A bunch of damn hippies!”
“Oh God,” Henry said to himself as he sheepishly stuck another piece of bread in his mouth.
“So what’s this big thing you wanted to tell us, Hank?” Gene said as he sat back down in his chair.
“Um … huh! It’s the funniest thing. For the life of me I can’t remember.” Henry said.
“What? Are you sure?”
“We should castrate them all!” Grandpa declared.
“Yeah. Pretty sure,” Henry said, stuffing more bread in his mouth.
“Come on, Hank! You invite Grandpa and me all the way to this nice restaurant saying that you have to tell us something important. You can’t have forgotten. What is it?”
“I knew one once,” Grandpa said.
“What are you talking about?” Gene exhaled.
“A homosexual. His name was Sterling Goodman. He was a damn fool too. Always talked about hoopskirts. You could tell he was a fairy just by looking at him.”
“Grandpa, could you be quiet a minute? Hank is trying to tell us something.”
“Well hold on a second. I gotta pee.”
“Can’t you wait? Hank is about to tell us his piece of news. Right, Hank?”
“No that’s fine!” Hank blurted out, reaching for another roll and not realizing that he had eaten the rest. “I can wait till you’re done.”
“Good, cause I can’t hold it,” Grandpa said.
Then he rose from his seat. His cane wobbled as he shuffled to the restroom. Henry waited until he could see that his grandfather was well inside the restroom.
“Okay, what I wanted to say was this: I’m gay,” he said to Gene.
Gene was slightly taken aback.
“You— uh, how long have you known?”
“Since eighth grade. Now do you see why I couldn’t say anything before?”
“Well, yeah, but why did you invite Grandpa if you don’t want him to know?”
“Well, I do want him to know. I just got cold feet when he started going off on his rant. I’ve known for nine years, and now I’m finally comfortable with who I am. I want my family to know.”
“Are you crazy?” Gene said.
“You can’t tell Grandpa! He’s the most narrow-minded loudmouth on this side of the Mississippi! Didn’t you hear him before?”
“I know! But it’s just— I am me and now I know it. I’m proud of it. It’d be wrong to be ashamed of that. You’re my brother, Gene. You and Grandpa are all I have left. I need you guys to know this.”
“This is really important to you?”
“Wait. Is this why you spent a lot of time with Sid from 4C?”
“I just need help telling him.”
“You should just spit it out. Like ripping off a Band-Aid. You know? Just get it over with.”
“Just do it.”
Henry’s heart began to pick up speed when he saw his grandfather walk back from the restroom.
“I can’t stand those damn faucets! They never work! You have to wave your hand around it for an hour before it gives you water. So what is this big announcement that you want to tell us?”
Henry hesitated. Then he spat out, “I’m gay.”
His anxiety stretched out the following second into sixty.
“Well of course you’ll pay!” he said. “I sure as hell ain’t paying for this trout! It tastes like a goldfish!”
Henry was stunned. Gene let out a snicker.
“Where’s that waitress?” Grandpa demanded. “I’ve got to be home before my show’s on.”
This story was originally published under the penname Polar McCoy.