Beyond the Wind is the story of two boys who stumble upon a conspiracy to prevent an AIDS awareness program from being introduced into Nebraska schools. Chris and Kyle become players in this political thriller after witnessing the shooting of Senator Landan, who opposed this program due to its alleged “gay agenda.” Ironically, they are thrown a lifeline by Senator Ash, an AIDS Activist involved in the fight against the virus which has taken the lives of millions.
To complicate matters, Kyle is sent to a mental institution where he tests positive for HIV.
Beyond the Wind was published by Haworth Press and InsideOut of New York in 2003, and sold over 10,000 copies. It is based on the real-life experiences of a boy who not only contracted HIV at the age of 14, but died of AIDS complications when he was19. He lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. The author worked with him as a Family Support Worker in 1987.
Out of the Storm continues the story of Chris and Kyle.
The following is a sample chapter from Out of the Storm:
Chris sat there in the courtroom wanting to dissolve into a puddle like the comic book hero, the Mercury Man.
He glanced once in the direction of the jury seated on one side of the courtroom, simply wanting to drizzle down through the floorboards beneath the witness stand.
County Attorney Bud T. Lyle then asked the question again: “Did you have sexual relations with Kyle Taylor after you discovered he had tested positive for HIV?”
Chris quietly said, “No.”
Beefy Bud Lyle toyed with the ends of his mustache, looking to the ceiling in exasperation. “Would you repeat your answer, so that the rest of us might hear it?”
“No,” Chris repeated.
There was a snake-like glare in Bud’s dark eyes. Those eyes of his warned, Don’t even think about screwing with me, kid!
Chris couldn’t help but look away then. How could a 15-year-old kid stand up to a lawyer with twenty years trial experience? He imagined he looked quite pathetic seated there, a scrawny, shaggy-haired kid dressed in faded blue jeans and white dress shirt. A young kid trying to answer the questions posed to him without incriminating himself.
Bud Lyle grinned like a weasel. “Why?”
“Huh?” Chris responded.
He knew what he was asking, but he was not up there on the stand willingly.
His best friend, 15-year-old Kyle Taylor, was on trial for not only sexual assault, but for Knowingly Infecting another boy with HIV. Kyle was facing a felony charge, and Chris was thrown into the mix to be mauled to pieces about their prior relationship. Chris was being forced to talk about personal, private matters, and his life and his orientation were being dissected before the eyes of the world, and his parents who were there in court to support him. Chris was afraid that if he spoke truthfully about sex between Kyle and him, that even his parents would want to disown him.
Bud T. Lyle, prosecuting attorney for the State of Iowa, was known in legal circles as a “bulldog.” He had placed scores of the accused behind bars, and was determined to crucify Kyle. To obtain a guilty verdict, Chris was certain he wanted to place nails through his wrists and ankles, as well. He was warned before trial that Bud considered his sexual orientation an abomination.
Hooking his thumbs behind his cowboy buckle, Bud asked, “After you discovered Kyle Taylor was infected with the virus that causes AIDS, why did you stop having sex with him?”
Chris glanced over at Kyle seated between his two attorneys. His long, blond hair was neatly combed and he wore a suit, complete with tie and cuff links. Dressed up for court, he didn’t seem like the same boyhood friend Chris had known all his life.
Chris thought, His attorneys shouldn’t have made him wear that suit. It makes him look too grown up, instead of appearing like a kid on trial for such a serious crime.Kyle’s face was blank. His piercing blue eyes met Chris’s for a fleeting moment. He then looked away, as if he didn’t care how he answered. He had given up coming out of this trial in one piece, and radiated hopelessness.
Chris wanted to scream, He has HIV for God’s sake! He’s just a kid and he’s tested positive for HIV! Can’t you all just leave him alone? Why drag him through this? Don’t you know the stress alone could kill him? It’s gonna be bad enough, eventually. Now, you want to add a criminal charge to his life, making him suffer before he . . . dies?
Bud sneered. “Answer my question. Upon discovering that Kyle had tested positive, you refused to continue sexual practices with him because you were afraid, correct? Don’t dodge the bullet, son. Just answer out loud. You were afraid, yes or no?”
“Yes,” the word slid slowly out of Chris’s mouth.
Bud said, “Afraid, because someone you had numerous sexual encounters with in the past was now diagnosed with having an incurable virus, is that correct?”
Chris glanced at his own defense attorney, who had mysteriously remained silent throughout the thorough grilling by Bud Lyle. She offered him a slight smile.
What the hell! Chris thought. Before I took the stand, she promised she would intervene if Bud’s questions even came close to embarrassing me about sex with Kyle. But, so far, she just sits there, letting this asshole walk all over me!Connie Noel, his court-appointed public defender, offered him a thumbs up sign.
Bud pounced back in front of Chris. “Tell us, son, why you were afraid? What were your fears based on?”
Chris asked, “What do you mean, based on?”
Bud smiled as he moved back to his table. He was pleased. Chris had evidently crossed some invisible line. He heard the old familiar words from the Law and Order show on TV: A good attorney never asks a question he doesn’t know the answer to.
Bud said, “In earlier testimony, Kyle claimed he informed you he had participated in unsafe sex with numerous partners, that he might be infected with any number of sexually transmitted diseases. Herpes. Gonorrhea. Syphilis. You stated, that by engaging in sex with Kyle that you, too, could become infected. How did you know about STD’s? You’re only 15! Why would you arm yourself with this kind of knowledge, and where did you do so?”
Chris answered, “The Internet.”
Bud nodded. “And this made you aware that Kyle’s unsafe practices could put you at risk if you engaged in sexual relations with him, correct?”
Bud snorted irritably. “Out loud, if you will, please.”
“Yes,” Chris responded.
“So with this information HIV, you were afraid that Kyle might be infected and that he might pass it on to you?”
Chris said, “In Health class at school, they talk about HIV being a killer virus and that it’s incurable. But, they don’t explain about transmission between homosexuals or heterosexuals. Mr. Hefner told us he’s not allowed to talk about the subject because parents object to that stuff being taught to their kids.”
Bud smiled. “But resourceful as you are, you conducted your own research on the Internet about the AIDS epidemic, and thus formed your own prevention plan. Is this true?”
“Yes,” Chris answered.
Bud smiled again. “Impressive. So young to be conducting your own personal research regarding such a serious matter.”
He paused, then added, “Impressive, Christopher Talbot.”
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