Kay Doyle spends a lot of time feeling plain and unworthy. Due to his father's debilitating illness, Kay lives with his mom's best friend, Kaleb Xander, who raises Kay as his own. Unfortunately, Kaleb can't keep Kay from feeling unwanted by his family. In senior year, Kay meets Johnny Collins, an enigmatic rebel. Johnny yanks Kay out of his shell and he discovers his wild side. When Johnny pulls Kay into a dark, little world of sex and hardcore drugs, Kay has to find a way out. More importantly, he wants to help Johnny find salvation from the harsh reality he lives in.
CONTENT ADVISORY: As part of a series, this title contains a HFN ending.
Kay quickly learned what a typical Friday night at the Doyle household, settled off Fifth Street in the heart of Los Angeles, represented. His family would call it 'quiet' but that term was relative. His parents' house had so much ambient noise going on--the TV blaring, the old refrigerator humming in the background, the beeping of his father's medical equipment, on top of his mother, Sid, and his sister, Melody, chattering back and forth about the Steve Wilkos show--and the sheer amount of noise made him withdraw from the current scenario.
Kay's parents' house had a big, open living room with a blue and white floral patterned, overstuffed couch that fit three comfortably. A dark green armchair once stood proudly in the blank spot to the left of the couch, but had been relocated to the garage. Sam, Kay's father, now used the space for his wheelchair. Too many photos made the painted beige walls look congested; pictures of the family, Kay's and Sid's drawings, and, tucked in a small corner, Sam's law degree hid modestly among splashes of overt creativity.
His mother and twin sister were settled in the middle of the sofa with Kay sitting in the corner of the couch near a drafty window, drawing a small animation in the corner of his sketchbook while his father was still at physical therapy. He poked his tongue out from the corner of his lips, flipping the pages to perfect the movement of the little figure, and focused on anything but the boredom and faint sense of discontent that stirred inside him. His mother and sister were watching a trashy talk show that Kay had no interest in, but Sid insisted he stay in the living room, regardless. Mel always begged him to stick around, and even though she kept trying to get him engaged, it usually didn't work, but he did enjoy her sweet, bell-like laugh.
Melody had been an awkward kid with longer limbs than she'd known what to do with, but she'd grown up to be a pretty teenage girl. She had straight blonde hair that fell past her shoulder blades and she got their father's hazel-green eyes.
His mother and sister made a running commentary about the images passing on the TV screen in front of them, but Kay felt disconnected in the worst way. At the age of five, when his father had been diagnosed with late onset muscular dystrophy, he'd gone to live with his mother's best friend, Kaleb. Sid hadn't been able to take care of both twins and their father. Maybe that was why he didn't fit into the wholesome family dynamic. Growing up with Kaleb was different than growing up in a typical family environment. Kay kept glancing to the screen to see what all the fuss was about, but all he saw were people scrambling for a moment in the spotlight with their concerns.
Now, he had no doubt that these peoples' problems were legitimate, but the idea of needing to go on a talk show to fix them was cowardly to him. Maybe he didn't understand because he'd never had anything like that going on but he didn't see the appeal of 'help, my son's gay; what do I do?' There were much worse issues in the world.
"Mom, what if I were gay?" Kay asked when the show went to commercial.
Sid glanced in his direction, her brown eyes widening in surprise. His mother had a solid, stubborn jaw, high cheekbones, arching eyebrows and a sweet slant to her lips that softened her hard facial structure. Her eyes were framed by short lashes that were as dark as her natural hair color. She had a small and petite frame, proud posture, and a perpetually curious look on her face. Her pink hair was beginning to fade and Kay couldn't help but think that it was time for a re-dye. Her roots were starting to show and it was beginning to look tacky.
"Aren't you a bit young to be considering that?"
He'd entered his teens, though, so he was curious. Desperately so, in fact. "I dunno. Maybe. But still, what if I told you I was? What if Mel was? Would you make a big deal out of it like this lady is?" Kay put his sketchbook down and nodded to the TV.
"I didn't know you were paying attention, Kay!" Melody said happily, leaning her head on his shoulder and looking expectantly at their mother alongside Kay. "It's a good question, Mom." Sid looked at a loss for words for a moment, likely because she'd never actually stopped to consider it. "I... I don't know how I'd react, but I wouldn't do this," she said, motioning to the TV. "It's not like it's a bad thing to be gay. It'd catch me off-guard, especially you, Mel."
"Because I live with two gay guys and Mel doesn't, right?" Kay asked.
Sid stuttered over her answer as if he'd sounded offended. "Well... yes."
"Also because I'm always talking about boys and I never ever hear you talking about girls," Melody piped up. Kay laughed and hugged her around the shoulders affectionately. "I'd be okay if you were gay, bro."
"Thanks, Mel, but I don't think I am," Kay replied, though he honestly had no idea at this point--probably because he was too young to put a label on it. "I dunno. Maybe. Never really thought of it."
"I'm home!" Sam announced as he wheeled through the door.
Kay's family had put a ramp up the front steps and it clattered every time Sam arrived. The sound of his wheels clunking as he rolled over the threshold grated on Kay's nerves. His father's wheelchair always gave him such mixed feelings, and a fiery spark of resentment rose up at the sight. That had been what had fractured his family. Kay watched his mother and sister jump up to meet Sam. For his part, Kay smiled and waved awkwardly at his dad.
"Kay! Hey buddy, how are you?" Sam asked, guiding his highly-powered wheelchair to sit beside him. Not too long after he'd been diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, he'd been confined to the wheelchair. Luckily, his speech hadn't been affected yet, but his posture had and it slumped, his shoulders sagging around the weight of his upper body and his spine curving under intense stress. He looked a thousand years old, lines creasing his face and feathering around his eyes. It was hard for Kay to look at him, because the grim and terrifying reality of what was happening paired with selfish resentment and hostility he felt toward being ostracized at such a young age created an explosive response that made his chest tighten like it would implode.