Read an Excerpt
From Never Been To Memphis by Grant Devereaux
"Perry is gay?" Margaret echoed.
"Tiffany is just being nasty," Constance insisted. "Perry is no such thing."
"Yes, Mother, I am. I'm a homosexual. I always have been, at least as far back as I can remember. I'm glad it's finally out in the open. Most of Little Rock knows already."
"Oh, Constance, you poor, dear!" Margaret said in mixed tone of sympathy and gloating. "That reminds me, did I tell you my Harold and his wife are expecting their third child this spring?"
"How courageous of them after the first two," Constance snapped. "I guess some people never quit trying for a pretty child."
Margaret flushed red as a beet. "Constance!"
"Shut up, Margaret, and go on in the house. I'm sure you're dying to tell everyone your new piece of gossip. I know just how you feel. I can't wait to tell your husband about the new tennis pro at Little Rock Country Club. I believe you call him Baby Blue Eyes?" Constance raised an eyebrow; satisfied she had made her point.
"Constance!" Margaret replied with distress.
"Just so we know where we stand, Sister Dearest," Constance added. "You keep my secrets, and I'll keep yours."
Constance turned to her son and asked with concern, "My God in Heaven, Perry, when did this happen?"
Perry smiled, a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "There are conflicting theories on that. Some say it happens in the womb�"
"Nothing happened in my womb!" Constance protested.
"Others say it's from an overbearing mother," Perry continued.
"Oh, no. You're not laying this on my doorstep. You just turn back straight right this minute, Perry Marshall. Do you hear me?"
"Of course, I think I really knew for sure at summer camp in 1984. His name was Drew. I was fourteen, and he was sixteen�"
"You only went to military camp," Constance interrupted. "How could it have happened there?" She shook her head, chasing the image from her mind. "It doesn't matter. No son of mine is going to be a queer."
"Gay, Mother. I'm gay."
"Gay, black, Afro-America, Native American," Constance almost shouted, throwing her hands up in the air. "When are people going to stop changing their names?"
"Maybe when you stop calling us names," Perry countered.
Constance stared at her son, her face pinched with anger. "We'll just have to get you into therapy."
"I am in therapy, Mother."
Constance's face eased with the hopeful words. "What does he say?"
Perry pulled the trays from the back of the Navigator and shut the door. "He said to ignore my mother."
Constance's face flushed with anger. "He did not! Answer me, Perry. What does he say? Is there any hope for a cure?"
Perry smiled and went past his mother on his way to the house. "He said he didn't think so, but if I could get you on Prozac, it may help," he called back.
Constance grabbed her husband by his coat sleeve. "Warren, are you going to let him talk to me like that?"
"Actually, I was just wondering who his therapist was. He sounds pretty good."
"Warren, you realize this is your fault," Constance said with disgust.
"Yes, Dear. I figured eventually it would end up being my fault."
"Well, aren't you going to say something to your son?"
Warren shouted after his son. "Perry, if you really are gay, don't you realize you'll miss out on all your mother and I have?"
From A Promise To Jake by Loree Lough
"It ain't alive, is it?" I teased, pointing at the box. " 'Cause if it is, Miss Germane will beat your ass for sure."
A little smile lifted one corner of his mouth. "Y'all oughtn't say cuss words, Homer. Cussin' is a sin, y'know."
"Y'all," I echoed. "Where are you from?"
"Geez. How'd you get from there to here?"
"When my maw died, there weren't no other blood kin to take me in, so I was sent to live with her sister, my Aunt Cassie, up here in Jersey. And when she passed...." Jake shrugged and quickly added, "An' to answer your question, if'n the thing in the box was alive there'd be holes in the top, so's it could breathe, now wouldn't there?"
He made a good point, but I wasn't about to tell him so. "What's in the box?" I pressed.
Jake inhaled and said on the exhale, "This here's an angel."
"Yessir," he answered plainly, "an angel."
"Hey, you ain't one of those sissy boys?"
His brow furrowed. "What's that?"
I rolled my eyes. "Don't you know nothin'?"
"If keepin' a Christmas angel in a box makes a feller a sissy boy," he said through clenched teeth, "then I reckon I must be a sissy boy."
Well, when he put it that way, it didn't make any sense to me, either. "What you gonna do with a Christmas angel in a place like this?"
Jake looked at the bouncing boys and the gray walls and the hard wood floor. He was staring out the window across from me when he said, "I seen worse places."