No-Accounts: Families

When I was taking care of AIDS patients, I watched as families reacted. Some were accepting and helpful, but too often they rejected the patient and refused to have anything to do with him.

In No-Accounts, I portrayed both reactions in a single family. Peter, the gay protagonist dying of AIDS, at first conceals both his illness and his sexual orientation from his mother and father. Then, when he’s in the hospital and close to death, they come to visit him and he tells them the truth.

His mother, an alcoholic, refuses to believe him. She is sure he’s not gay and doesn’t have AIDS. She stalks out of the hospital in high dudgeon certain that Peter is lying to her for reasons she can’t imagine.

Peter’s father takes her home but returns the next day. He’s brought candy. He tells Peter that his mother collapsed after the visit and is now under the care of the Sisters of Charity. Then . . .

Roger gave him a weak smile. “All right if I sit down?”

“Sure.”

Roger pulled a chair to the side of the bed.

“I didn’t think you’d come back,” Peter said.

Roger tightened his lips and nodded.

“Didn’t expect to see you again,” Peter said.

“Guess not.”

“I thought I might never see you again.”

Roger clasped his hands. His throat made a grating noise. Tears dripped irregularly down his cheek to his chin and dropped into his lap.

“Peter?” he said in a strangled voice, without raising his head, “I’m sorry.”

“Dad—”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

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