“Let’s just say," Dean replied, "if my father had his way, we’d be sitting on either side of him and mom when he preaches his hatred. It was bad enough when I decided to go halfway across the country to school. He couldn’t understand why any upstanding young man would want to study art, which is what I did for starters before switching majors.”
“And yet, despite his misconceptions, he still believes you’re straight?”
“Thanks to Carrie. She is an actress. She knows how to play it to convince him I’m this macho stud who can’t get enough of the women.” Dean chuckled softly. “She told him, all on the hush-hush of course so mom wouldn’t find out, that I’m in theater because that’s where all the good-looking chicks are, and I get to ‘play’ with them while I’m making their costumes.”
“Good God, he bought that?”
“Apparently so, because after that little talk he pretty much stopped trying to get me to come home.”
“When was the last time you were home?”
“I haven’t been back since I left for college, so… eight years give or take a month.”
Kirby got a thoughtful look in his eyes. “You know, there are a lot of pro-gay groups that would love it if you joined them and then came out. It would be a big coup for them.”
“Sorry, but I value my life. If you know about the CVA you know radical isn’t only their middle name, it’s how they respond when they feel they’ve been betrayed. They wouldn’t out and out kill me. They know better than to do that. But there are other ways of destroying a person, physically and mentally.”
“Can I ask why you haven’t changed your name? It seems to me that would have been the logical first step.”
“It’s not as easy as it sounds to do that and keep it a secret, if someone’s really looking for you. Or at least so I’ve read.”
“Witness Protection does it for people all the time.”
Dean snorted. “First off, I’m not Witness Protection material. Secondly, from what I’ve heard, even their record for doing it successfully isn’t one-hundred percent.” He paused when the waitress came over to say they were closing. “Sorry, I didn’t realize it was that late,” he told her. “I guess we got involved in our discussion.” He stood, waiting for Kirby, and they headed out of the coffee shop into the thinning late-night pedestrian traffic.
“Are you parked close-by?” Kirby asked.
“Around the corner, yes.”
“Okay.” Kirby chuckled. “That was my not so subtle way of finding out if you needed a ride.”
“No. But thanks.”
“Welcome. Look, if you’d like to continue what we were talking about…”
“Not tonight. I have an early call. It’s the last full rehearsal tomorrow, before opening night on Friday.”
“Okay, I’ll let you go but I meant it, if you want to talk again…”
“I…might. Can I call you?”
“Sure.” Kirby took out one of his cards and scribbled his private cell and home phone numbers on the back before handing it to him.
After pocketing it, Dean thanked him then headed down the street.
Kirby watched him, and again realized he was seeing him as an interesting man, not the subject of an on-going murder investigation. Never happen, he chided himself and he turned in the opposite direction to go to his car. But it could be interesting if it did.