Sunday, January 21, 2018

Character Profiles ~ Desi

Desi is one of my favorite Crawdad characters. He's loosely based on a kid my daughter met at a Panic at the Disco concert. A little bit emo, but kind and generous with what little he has.  Desi is every kid who's ever been rejected by their parents for not being whatever it is their parents thought they should be. Desi has the misfortune of being born gay in a strict religious family. For every kid that comes out and finds acceptance, there are many more that don't. Many find themselves homeless or worse. It's an ugly truth.

~Meet Desi~

My head slammed into the door frame as I fell into my bedroom. The pain screamed in the back of my head and for a second I saw stars. I didn’t expect Louis to lash out as me and I hadn’t managed to dodge in time. Louis was my mother’s third husband. The one after she found God. Louis kept telling me to call him dad, but I never did. I could tell from the beginning he didn’t really mean it. Usually he yelled a lot, but the punch was new. I suppose he probably wanted to punch me all along. Me kissing Andrew was just the excuse he needed. Now, he stood over me quivering like a freaking psycho. He wasn’t a big guy, kinda bald. It was hard for him to get aggressive. Now that he was hyped up on adrenaline his nasty streak got real obvious.
“Are you gay, Desmond?” he shouted, his voice breathy. I hated him when he called me Desmond. I’m Desi. I have blue hair I dyed myself. I pierced my lip. I’m getting a tattoo as soon as I have the money. I am not a Desmond.
“What do you think?” I muttered as I rolled over, holding my head. I pulled myself up to my knees, but I couldn’t quite stand I was so woozy.
“Huh?” Louis demanded. “Cause if you are, you can take your shit and get out of this house. We don’t want no abomination here.”
“What?” My head was still fuzzy from that whack. It didn’t help that Louis always used the biggest words he could ‘cause he thought he was smart. At least, he wanted you to think he was.
“I said get out!” I didn’t think he could yell any louder, but he surprised me.
“You aren’t my mom.” 
“This is my house and I say you’re out. Get your shit and go!”
“What for?” I forced my head up and faced him, too angry for tears now.
“For being a faggot, that’s why.” Louis had his hands on his hips now, staring at me like he was God’s right hand man. You’d never know he’d missed church a month of Sundays. Righteous asshole.
My little sister Kitty bounced on the couch in the living room.
“Desi is a faggot…Desi is a faggot,” she teased, too young to even understand what she was saying. Mom walked in the door unnoticed by Louis, just back from work.
“Shut up!” I yelled at Kitty.
“No, you shut up!” barked Louis. “She lives here. You don’t.”
“What’s going on?” asked Mom, but the lines on her face said she was too tired to really care. Kitty climbed into her arms.
“Daddy says Desi’s a faggot,” she told Mom.
“No, he’s not,” Mom said to Kitty. “Don’t let me hear you talk like that again.”
“As a matter of fact, he is,” said Louis. “I told him to get out.”
Mom turned to me, her face a mixture of sadness and shock. I never wanted to tell my mom, but some part of me always thought she wouldn’t care, that she’d love me anyway. Your mom’s supposed to love you, no matter what, right? That’s not what my mom’s face said. Her expression said I’d crushed all her dreams to dust forever.

“Is it true, Desi?” she almost whispered, like it was too horrible to even imagine. I think my heart made a sound loud enough to hear when it cracked open just then. It’s always easier to rage so I cut loose.

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