The Hunting Trip – What Really Matters
A teenager makes a painful confession to his father
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The Hunting Trip – What Really Matters
Matt was out on a hunting trip with his dad Bob, and the day was coming to a fantastic end. His dad had bagged a big doe, and he’d shot a couple of rabbits. They were just sitting around in the last glow of the day. His dad had cracked a few beers and they were shooting the breeze before hauling their harvest back to the pickup. Matt loved spending time with his dad more than anything. His friends were really great, but when his dad took him hunting or fishing, it was something else. At 15, Matt was the youngest of three brothers, and they all spent a lot of time together, but as the older two got jobs, and spent time with their girlfriends, it left more time for him and his dad. It would be fair to say that Matt worshipped the ground his dad walked on. His dad was a real tough, rugged guy, but he was fair and very loving to his family.
“So Matt,” his dad said, “got your eye on a girl for the freshman prom?”
“No, not really,” Matt replied.
“Leaving it late and playing the field huh?” Bob said.
“Nah, I’m probably not going.”
“Not going! Matt, a prom is great chance to get to second or third base. You’d be crazy not to go!”
“I’m not really interested in that stuff,” Matt answered quietly.
“What do you mean you’re not interested?” Bob asked.
Matt looked at the ground nervous. He’d never once lied to his dad, and he wasn’t about to now, and even though he’d prepared himself for the conversation, he’d dreaded this moment. It was a pity it had to come at the end of such a great day.
“I’m not interested in girls dad.”
His dad paused a second.
“Oh. Well I guess some guys mature later than others. I’m sure you’ll start to notice them soon.”
“No dad. I don’t think I will.”
His dad paused for a good ten seconds, and his brow furrowed deeply.
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying Matt?”
“I like boys dad.”
“Get the fuck out of here!” Bob said standing to his feet.
Matt didn’t answer, but he looked at his dad with big, nervous eyes.
“Are you telling me that you’re a homo?” Bob demanded.
Matt looked up at him and said in a small voice,
Bob reached down and roughly lifted his son to his feet by the lapels of his camouflage jacket.
“Get the fuck up on your feet and tell me that again. Are you telling me that you’re a goddamn faggot?”
Matt was feeling really distressed. He looked at his dad through nervous eyes, and he felt incredibly emotional. Still he answered honestly.
His dad gave him a massive two-arm shove that sent him flying backwards, falling over the log he’d just been leaning against, rolling to a stop five feet beyond. Before he was back onto his feet, his dad had leapt the log, hauled him to his feet, and thrown him another ten feet.
“My own son – a goddam faggot. I just can’t fucking believe it. God-fucking-damn it Matt. Why don’t you just rip the fucking heart out of me and be done?!”
Matt was laying shocked on the floor, but he quickly scurried back to his feet, this time with enough distance between him and his dad, so that he wouldn’t get caught by surprise again. He wore an expression of anguished shock. In an emotional voice he said,
“Daddy, it isn’t my fault. I didn’t choose to be this way, it just happened.”
“Just fucking happened? What, it just happened that you like dicks instead of poon like any normal kids?”
His father let out a primal half-scream, half grunt.
“Ahhhh ahhhh!” He stepped forwards, his hand raised to his shoulder in a fist, and Matt cowered terrified. “Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.” Bob made as if to hit Matt but at the last moment, he swung his hand away.
“Shit fuck dammit!” He reached over and picked up his beer can, but instead of drinking from it, he threw it into the woods in a rage. Then he tore the cap from his head, threw it to the floor, and stomped on it, grinding it into the dirt with his boot. Matt stood watching, horrified, but not completely surprised by his dad’s reaction. He knew that his dad hated “fags” and “queers”, but he had hoped against hope, that when it came to his own son, that he might somehow be more tolerant.
“Fuck it Matt, you have well and truly fucked up a great day. Let’s get the damned pickup loaded and get out of here.”
Matt helped his dad to load the deer into the back of the pickup, along with the cooler and their hunting gear. As the boy went to climb into the passenger seat beside his dad, Bob said,
“No, don’t sit there. I don’t think I can fucking bear to look at you. Get in the back with the deer.”
Matt looked at his beloved father and his face crumpled with grief. He knew better than to start crying, but he felt devastated, like the most important part of his world had totally collapsed around him. Wordlessly, he turned and clambered ungracefully into the back of the truck.
Bob drove home at breakneck speed, feeling furious and heartsick himself. Although he loved all of his sons, as the youngest, and the one he spent the most time with, he’d always had a special bond with Matt. The other two were almost ready to fly the coop, but Matt was still dependent for a good few years yet. He couldn’t believe that tough, manly, brave, sweet Matt – the kid who hunted, wrestled and rode dirt bikes, was fucking queer. He felt like all of his hopes for his son’s future, and his vision of how the family would be structured as he got older, were just evaporating.
Now that Matt was out of sight of his dad, he bawled like a baby. If his dad’s reaction had not been a clear enough indication of his mood, his reckless driving told Matt all he needed to know. His dad was usually a safe, even conservative driver. It took them 15 minutes to cover the 25 miles back to their house, and Bob took every corner without slowing down. In the back of the truck, Matt was thrown all over, and he spent every second of the journey feeling like his entire life was over.
They arrived at the front of their house, and Matt climbed out of the truck. He picked up the guns and took them inside. His mother heard him get home, and she asked him how the trip went. With head hung low, he didn’t answer her, instead he walked back outside. Looking at the floor, he dutifully waited to help his father to unload the deer. His dad said,
“Forget about that, just get your damned sorry ass inside to your room and stay there. If I see a sight of you any more today, I think I’m gonna be sick.”
Matt was hurting so badly, it almost crippled him, but in spite of that, he tried desperately to remind his dad what was really important. He looked at his father and said,
“Dad, I love you.”
His dad jumped at him, and using his hand to wrap around Matt’s face he half threw, half pushed his son towards the door and said,
“Shut up, and geeet in there.”
Matt pushed through the door and headed straight to his room. His father stormed through to the living room where his wife and the other two boys were. Matt started to remove his boots, and as he did so, he could hear his dad shouting to his mom about the fact that he was a goddamn faggot. His father let loose a tirade of anger that went on unabated for ten full minutes. Matt could hear his mom in a quieter voice, asking questions, and trying to calm his dad’s anger. He even heard his brothers, who probably had as great a hatred of gays as his dad, trying to bring some reason into the conversation, but Bob was uncalmable. Matt sat on his bed alone, listening to his father telling everyone how he didn’t even want to be in the same house as him, how he had been pretending to be someone he wasn’t. All these years he was a damned ass fucker. His mother tried to point out that he’d only started puberty a year ago, he probably had never even been with anyone, but his father just kept on getting more and more outraged, his disappointment driving him on to greater and greater anger. Matt sat on the bed in his hunting gear, hunched, and in anguish. His heart was aching so badly, but his spirit was shrivelling to nothing. He could see only one solution.
All four people in the living room heard the gunshot from Matt’s room. Surprisingly, it was his eldest brother Jonathan, who was the first to react. He leapt up and ran through to his brother’s room. As soon as he arrived he shouted,
“Oh shit no Matt. Daaaad come quick, he’s shot himself!”
His mom Jennifer, ran to Matt’s room, followed by his father and middle brother Mark. They burst into Matt’s room to find him lying on the floor by his bed. His .243 lay beside him, and there was blood running out from beneath his head. His tear-reddened eyes were half open. His hands were twitching as the electrical activity in his brain fired off in random bursts.
Jennifer took one look and screamed, then she sent Mark to phone an ambulance. He ran off to do as he was told, and she dropped to her knees to work on Matt, joined by Jonathan.
Bob stood watching silently, a scowl on his face and his hands on his hips. He saw that Matt was clutching a framed photograph up to his face. It was taken a few months ago. It showed Bob and Matt standing side by side in hunting gear. Bob had his arm around Matt’s shoulders, and Matt looked so unbelievably happy to be with his dad. Bob looked at his son’s body on the floor. He was wearing the exact same hunting gear, but now he was dying because he’d put a bullet in his own head. Because his father had turned his back on him. His fucking dumb idiot father who was more concerned about what turned his kid on, that what a fantastic kid he was. A million memories of their time together flooded into his mind, and in every single one, it didn’t matter a fuck about who his kid thought about to jack off.
Bob saw that Matt had left a note on the bed. It simply said,
“Im so sorry that Im not the son you wanted I love you forever dad matty”
Bob grabbed the note,
“But you are the son I wanted Matty. You’re exactly the son I wanted. You’re all exactly who I wanted.”
Jennifer looked up at him with tears streaming down her face. She hadn’t seen the note, and she didn’t understand that Bob was answering his son. Bob was clutching the note and looking on with wet-eyed horror. He screamed at his son,
“Please don’t go Matty. Please stay. I’m sorry I was a jerk. Nothing matters just you. Please don’t leave us.”
But Matt didn’t hear him, and then the ambulance lights were flashing through the window…