Of all the strange phone calls I've received from my mother over the years, the weirdest was at 7:00 am one Saturday morning in November 2014.
"When you're in Washington, DC for your conference next weekend, why don't you drive down to Norfolk to visit your nephew? He lives there now."
What nephew lived in Norfolk? Last I heard, my sister's son was in Indianapolis, and Kenny's sons were all in Rock Island. Except Frank, who lived somewhere in Tennessee or...Virginia. "Is it Frank?"
"No, it's Robbie."
I can't be blamed for not recognizing his name. I'd forgotten about Kenny's stepson Robbie.
Kenny's first wife died of cancer in January 1993, leaving him 29 years old, working night shifts at the factory, with four kids, aged 10, 9, 7, and 5. The grandparents helped out a bit, but everyone gossipped that he remarried less than five months after the funeral to get free childcare.
His new wife, Angie, scandalized the Nazarene Church. She was a heathen Baptist! Eight years older than him! And divorced -- nearly the unpardonable sin! Plus she had three kids of her own: two girls, ages 13 and 10, and a boy, Robbie, age 15, nearly as old as Kenny!
I saw Robbie at the wedding, at Christmas dinner in 1993, when Kenny and his family took me out for pizza in the summer of 1994, and at Christmas dinner in 1994. He was a cute teenager with black hair and glasses, pale, soft, and quiet. I don't think we exchanged more words than a "how's California?" and "how's school?"
By the summer of 1995, Robbie was living somewhere in Ohio or Pennsylvania with his grandparents. I don't know why.
Maybe he didn't like his new role as "big brother" to his stepbrothers and stepsister.
Maybe he didn't like living in the big, rambling house downtown, in a "bad" neighborhood.
Maybe the Nazarene rules seemed oppressive.
Although Ken adopted him, so he was technically part of the family, he cut off all contact with the Davises (he did sometimes call his sisters). As far as I knew, neither Ken nor Mom and Dad had heard from Robbie in 20 years.
How would Mom even know where he was, let alone want me to visit?
"He doesn't talk to your brother, but he talks to the girls [Ken's step-daughters], and they talk to me. They even had us over when he flew out to visit a couple of years ago." She paused. "It wouldn't hurt for you to go see him."
It wouldn't hurt. I could ask him why he left so abruptly.
Besides, I love Norfolk. It reminded me of my old West Hollywood friend Alan, and his boyfriend Sandy. Beautiful Colonial architecture, the Chrysler Museum of Art, lots of gay nightlife, 50% black population.
So I called -- it took Robbie a moment to remember that "Oh, yeah, Ken had a brother." He invited me down for a visit.
On the Saturday of the conference, I drove down to Norfolk and got a hotel room -- no need to press my luck. Then I stopped by an antique store to buy a gift, and drove to Robbie's house.
It was way on the north side of town, in Ocean View near the military base.
There was a teenager trimming the hedges with a weed wacker. Probably 18 or 19, blond hair, scruffy blond beard, blue eyes. Shirtless, even though it was in the 60s outside: broad shoulders, smooth chest, lightly tanned, firm but not massive, pinprick nipples, tight abs with an innie belly button.
"Hi! I was hoping to finish before you got here. We were trying to spruce up the place."
"Oh, everything looks fine, believe me," I said, looking him up and down.
"You must be Boomer. My name is Beau." We shook hands. "Robbie's inside -- he's a little nervous." He wrapped a buffed arm around my shoulders. "Come on, let's do the reunion."
Calling him by his first name -- Robbie must be gay! Beau must be a boyfriend!
He led me into the house and yelled "The victim for the human sacrifice is here!"
The uncensored post, with nude photos, is on Tales of West Hollywood.