PrologueSean Quinn sat in his father’s kitchen; a student at the NYU Institute of Fine Arts, he was one semester away from completing his masters and was about to tell his father he was gay. He knew his father would go crazy as soon as he uttered the word. Tom Quinn made his living as a local cop and this was a corner of the Bayshore that knew no tolerance for gay men. Sean would be celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday in October and figured the time had come to stop lying, take Aunt Nellie’s legacy, and leave for good. With the remainder of his aunt’s money, if his father disowned him, he could still finish his last semester and have money left over to live on while he apprenticed to a master potter.
Tom Quinn, a big, burly, redhead, had worked his way up to sergeant in the small Keansburg Police Department. A mean drunk, he got worse after Sean’s mother died and Sean knew enough about his father’s moods to be apprehensive. But this was something he had to do to maintain his self-respect. I made Dad his favorite meal. Maybe I’ll get lucky and he won’t stop for a few at the local bar and I’ll get out of here with my money and my person intact.
Sean heard the sound of a car door close and looked out the window. His father’s Buick sat in the driveway. The old man seemed to be walking straight; but he could hold his liquor well; so that did not rule out a bender. His father was always drinking; it was just a matter of degree. In fact, Sean preferred it when his father was falling down drunk. In that state he would throw a few punches, generally miss, and fall asleep on the couch. In the rare case when he came home sober, he wasn’t reasonable, but at least he wasn’t violent. Sean often wondered how his father made it home after an evening at the bar without running the Buick up a street lamp.
Sean managed college with his aunt’s money, a scholarship, student loans, and a job in a small art gallery in SoHo. With this patchwork of funding; Sean was able to eke out a living paying for the apartment he shared and a ramen noodle diet with an occasional hamburger from the dollar menu at Mickey D’s.
He heard his father at the front door and braced himself. I can do this.
Tom Quinn, for once, didn’t stagger into the house. He put his hat on the coat rack and Sean heard the jingle of his keys and change as they hit the small table in the front hall.
“Where are you boy? Is supper ready? It better be, you need to do something to earn your keep.” Tom’s heavy footsteps pounded down the hallway.
Sean worked at the pharmacy all day delivering prescriptions to the residents of the burg, so his father’s snide comment about earning his keep wasn’t fair; but then Tom rarely was fair. Sean gave his father most of his wages when he came back to Keansburg for the summer. He had to come home because he couldn’t afford the cost of an apartment alone for the months he didn’t have roommates to contribute toward the rent. He spent his holidays alone in the city because the holidays brought out the worst in Tom. Sean’s mother had passed on Christmas Eve eight years before and his father spent the twelve days of Christmas in a stupor.
Sean set the table and brought the shepherd’s pie straight from the oven and put it out on a potholder in front of his father. Once his father finished his dinner and the ever-present beer, Sean steeled himself for the conversation to come.
Sean took after his mother, small but strong, blond and green-eyed. He’d competed in gymnastics throughout high school and disappointed his father with his choice of NYU rather than taking a sports scholarship to one of the other schools that offered him a free ride. Tom already called his son a pansy for his looks and interest in art. Sean figured his announcement wouldn’t be met with much surprise.
He brought out an apple pie he purchased for the occasion. While Tom dug into the pie Sean attempted to start “the conversation.”
“Dad, I have to tell you something.”
“I guess it’s better to come straight out and say it. I’m gay.”
“Are you telling me you’re a queer?”
“That’s one way of putting it.”
Tom jumped up from his chair and let loose with a sucker punch straight to Sean’s chin. He continued punching Sean until he hit the floor and curled up into a ball to avoid Tom’s fists. Tom started to kick aiming between his legs. This wasn’t the first time he took a beating; however Tom was more vicious than usual.
“You little bastard, your mother came to me with a brat in her belly and I accepted you because I loved her.”
Sean lay on the black and white linoleum and stared up at him in shock. “I only kept you here for the sake of her memory, but now, I want you out of my house by morning. You’ll get no more from me. You can forget Nellie’s legacy because I control that until you turn twenty-five and I’ll make damn sure I spend every dime.”
“That’s my money.” Sean countered as he attempted to get up from the floor.
“But I have power of attorney and I say you get nothing.” Tom looked at him with pure loathing.
“I can take you to court.” Sean shouted.
“Try it, you faggot. By the time you pay for a lawyer, it will be gone. Get out of my sight and be out of here by morning. Be grateful I’m allowing you to pack your stuff.”
Sean crawled up the stairs and threw his few possessions into a large backpack. He took his laptop and cell phone, purchased with his own money, and readied himself to leave the house before his father got up in the morning.