Johnson hesitated for a moment, but then nodded somberly. He had expected this as well.
“I thought as much. I don’t think I’ll ever see it again, and I can only worry what will happen to it now. You probably gave it back to him for nothing, since you view protecting his secrets as more important than protecting yourself… or even what you believe in. You’re a good kid, Zach, you love with all you’ve got. If I had a friend like you in high school, who knows…” his voice drifted off.
“Back when I was your age, I strongly believed in a greater moral order. When injustice happened, I believed that someone would come and make it right. And when nothing happened, I thought life would end. But life didn’t stop for me; it doesn’t stop for anybody. My son… I realized early on what he is; that he is a homosexual. I tried my best to be a father to him, but I don’t think he ever accepted me. We have our differences, but I don’t and simply can’t hate him for the way he’s born. He’s my son.”
“He’s your son, and you raped him.”
“I understand I can’t change your mind.” He released the breath he'd been holding and leaned forward on his elbows, “I guess I could have been there for him more when I had the chance, when he first got involved with that older boy. Things got out of hand after that, but judging this isn’t as simple as deciding what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad.’ I have my problems, Zach, and he has his. Two problems was all it took, and it’s what keeps us from healing and being the family we could be. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just how it is. I’m getting help, but he still needs to admit that he needs it.”
Zach shifted uncomfortably, and Johnson coughed. He leaned over to his computer, clicked a few keys, then leaned back as the printer began to buzz. He took a sip of water from the mug on his desk, then affirmatively said,
“I’m going to give you a copy of your grade transcript. Are you aware that you currently have a B+ in literature?”
“… No.” Zach said, startled, “I didn’t know.”