The daily serial fictional based on Chicago's Boystown neighborhood: Boystown series by Danny Bernardo

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25. Too Late

Charlie sat in panicked silence as he waited to be called into the school board hearing. Ben sat beside him, holding his hand. "Do you want me in there with you?" Ben asked. "Part of me feels it'd be unprofessional. I'd be holding your hand the whole time. But most of me is thinking, fuck it.

25. Too Late
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Charlie sat in panicked silence as he waited to be called into the school board hearing. Ben sat beside him, holding his hand.

"Do you want me in there with you?" Ben asked.

"Part of me feels it'd be unprofessional. I'd be holding your hand the whole time. But most of me is thinking, fuck it. I have nothing left to lose. It's hopeless." Robbie's dad approached the door, glowering at Charlie. Ben straightened up and clenched his fists but Robbie's dad entered the room without provoking them further.

"Everyone you love is on their way to support you," Ben said reassuringly. "They'll be waiting out here and are here for you, no matter what happens."

Charlie's union delegate came out. "Charlie, they're ready for you."

"Where do you want me?"

"Out here," Charlie said. "With everyone else I love."

Ben kissed him. "Good luck."

Charlie put on a brave face as he marched into the firing squad. "Oh and thank you, by the way," he said, stopping at the doorway.

"For what?"

"For never once asking if the accusations were true."


He dreamt of prom. Four years of high school culminating in one magic night. He dreamt of milestones that he'd be live through. He dreamt that he was wearing a crisp, black tux and not the sweat stained t-shirt and jeans he'd been wearing for a week. He dreamt that he was there with the Boy of His Dreams, a boy that had Mr. Parker's kind face and Alex's sense of humor. He dreamt that as he searched the whole gym that the dance floor parted and in a soft blue spotlight, the Boy of His Dreams was there. Waiting for him. He dreamt that as they walked to each other, as the music slowed as they took each other into each other's arms to dance, that his classmates smiled. Then they all took each other in each other's arms, boy and girl, girl and girl, boy and boy, and they all dance. Everything was normal. Robbie dreamt.

"Rule one: when you get south of Chinatown on the Red Line, you should probably keep your eyes open. Especially you little white boy." Robbie heard a strangely familiar voice as if from another world. "HEY! Wake up!"

Robbie's eyes shot open and he saw LaTrice sitting next to him. He abruptly shot up, looking for an escape, but LaTrice pushed him back down by the shoulder. "Where you gonna go, boo? We at 95th, you don't wanna be running around the South Side all scared and alone, they'll eat you up."

"How'd you find me?"

"You think you're the first one that's lived on the streets? That's how we all do at first. It was just a matter of going back and forth between the cars to figure out where you were. Switching lines."

"How long were you... ?"

"All night. So you know this shit's important. You gotta come with me. You gotta make things right."

"You know?"

"Tyler told me. I don't know a lot in this world, little butt, but I do know this: you only get one shot at a second chance. And that's what you got. A chance to make things right. How could you live with yourself knowing that you didn't take it?"

"But... my dad... "

"... is going to keep scaring the fuck out of you as long as you let him. You gotta make a stand, little butt. Who has been there for you more when you needed them? Your dad or Charlie?"

"Mr. Parker. He fought for me. He's always there for me."

"And you're gonna let him down?"

"I'm scared, LaTrice."

"I know. I know. But doing the right thing is scary. And that's what you wanna do, right?"


The picture of the kiss was presented.

"Mr. Parker... can you identify the people pictured in this image?" the school board president asked.

Charlie cleared his throat. "Myself. And a student. Robert Pittman."

"And what act are you engaging in in this picture?"

"Kissing, sir."

"And do you find this behavior appropriate between teacher and student?"

"Not in the slightest, sir. But, to be fair, I didn't initiate the kiss."

"You lying faggot!" Mr. Pittman screamed, shooting up from his seat.


LaTrice pulled Robbie along as they ran up Clark Street to the building that housed the Chicago Public Schools' office.

"What if we're too late?" Robbie panicked.

"We wouldn't be if you'd hurry up. Damn, bitch, I'm running in heels, what's your excuse?" They reached the security desk. "We need to get up to CPS. The board meeting."

"Y'all gotta sign in," said the security guard. "ID's?"

Robbie turned pale. "I don't have one."

"He's just a kid," implored LaTrice. "And it's really important that we get up there. It's a matter of life and death!"

"Nobody's getting up there without an ID."

"Look, sir," LaTrice began, unable to control the increasing volume of her voice. "I know you tryin to do your job, but I told you, if we don't get up there, someone's life is going to get seriously fucked up. So PLEASE! Can we just once, just this once, turn a blind eye and let us pass?"

The security guard clenched his jaw and rolled his eyes. "Not without an ID."

LaTrice dropped her purse on the ground. "See, look, I tried to reason with you, but now... " A police officer approached.

"Is there a problem here?" he asked.

And LaTrice knew that it was over.


"That deviant is perverting my son! He's using this subversive group of his to seduce young men and my boy was his latest victim."

"Mr. Pittman, would you please sit down!" The school board president demanded.

Mr. Pittman begrudgingly acquiesced. "The proof is right there," he said gesturing to the picture.

The school board president sighed. "He's not wrong, Mr. Parker. I'm afraid the evidence against you is overwhelming."

"But he didn't do it!" came a voice from the back. All heads turned to find Robbie standing at the doorway, with LaTrice close behind him.

"Robbie!" Mr. Pittman cried out, with equal parts relief and outrage.

Robbie hesitated. "Go ahead, boo," LaTrice said. "Be strong. Not for Charlie, but for you."

Robbie took a breath and looked his dad dead in the eye. "It was me. I kissed him."

"Robbie, you're confused. You don't know what you're saying," Mr. Pittman pleaded.

"I'm not dad. I'm gay. No matter how many times you try to beat it out of me, it won't stop being true. Mr. Parker didn't do anything but be a good teacher and a good mentor. I thought that meant he liked me and... I kissed him. But he pushed me away and told me it was wrong. Mr. Parker didn't do anything wrong. It was me." Robbie turned tearfully and looked at Charlie. "I'm so sorry."


Steve closed down the back bar of The Pitstop specifically so they could keep the drinks flowing and celebrate Charlie's victory.

"What's going to happen to Robbie?" Tyler asked as Hunter filled everyone's glasses with champagne.

"He's with Child Protective Services," Charlie said. "With the physical abuse going on at home, it was deemed too unsafe for him to return."

"I hope he doesn't get lost in the system," Edward said. "The foster care system in this city can get tricky."

"I'll see if I can't do a follow up," Tyler said. "I can't believe LaTrice found him. She looked all night."

"I can't believe they made it in time," Charlie said.

"Thankfully, they had their own police escort," Hunter said, putting his arm around Fitz.

"The one time I'm actually thankful for traffic," Fitz chuckled. "I wouldn't have recognized that kid if it hadn't been for that missing flier your other student brought to the station."

"Yeah," said Charlie. "I guess that little shit's good for something."

"Alright, enough of this mush," Eddy said, having already downed her glass of champagne and refilling it. "My brother is officially not a pedophile. Though if you would've seen some of the tricks he brought home from Market Days last year... "

"Ahem," Charlie glared, holding Ben's hand

Eddy raised her glass. "To Chuck. You are one lucky fuck."

They all toasted and drank. Charlie smiled at everyone around him and remembered yet again how truly lucky he was how many people cared about him. It was odd that the Davids weren't there and Becka was still in self-exile in the burbs, but everyone he loved in Chicago was in that room: Hunter, Ben, Tyler, Steve, Edward, Eddy, Tristan. Fuck. Tristan. He'd had plans with Tristan.

Steve assured him that the party would be going as late as Charlie wanted and with the booze flowing, there was no danger of any of his family leaving. He promised his bar bestie a dinner; they could catch up over a quick bite then head to the party. Charlie couldn't help but smile as he walked up Halsted on the way to Tristan's. It was six o'clock and the sun was just barely beginning its descent into the horizon. After all the shit he'd been through, Charlie finally felt that everything was going to be alright. That his life was starting fresh..

Someone was coming out of Tristan's building as he came up, so they held the door open for him. He walked up the stairs to the third floor and knocked on 317. The door came open.

"Tristan?" Charlie called out. He peeked his head in. As the TV blared mindlessly, Tristan lay on the floor lifeless in a pool of his own blood.

That does it for Volume 6! We'll be posting recaps all next week but be back here on March 25 for the launch of Volume 7!

Volume 1 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Volume 2 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Volume 3 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Volume 4 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five

Volume 5 -
Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four, Week Five


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