Monday, December 31, 2012

Unfortunately Not Fiction

New Years Eve marks a very sad anniversary. Two years ago tonight, Kendal Owens took his life when, high on drugs and despondent over the drastic downturn his life had taken over the preceding months, he felt he had nothing to live for. He had lost his boyfriend, he’d lost his daughter, and he hated himself.

You can’t find the Kendal stories on Literotica anymore, but I read them so often I’ve committed them pretty much to memory. There are still a lot of holes in the timeline that the main characters aren’t around to fill, but I’m going to try.

First of all, Kendal and Emery weren’t their real names. It wasn’t until Emery’s suicide last July that several of us who had grown close to him discovered he had been using an alias. Most likely this was due to realizing he was going to follow Kendal in death at some point, and anyone who had his real name would have the tools to try to stop him. It hurt that he hadn’t trusted those who were close to him, but we knew how private he was. I chalked it up to one of his quirks and let it go. In my mind, they will always be Kendal and Emery.

They met in the fall of 2007 when Kendal was a high school junior and Emery was an incoming freshman, both new students. Yeah, in Lit, Emery wrote that they were eighteen. That was due to attempts at posting the story the year before under a different author name, and somehow their real ages slipped by the censors until several chapters in. So to comply with Lit standards, he lied.

Prior to meeting Emery, Kendal had had a horrendous life. His mother was a prostitute and his father was drinking himself to death. When Kendal was very young, I think around ten, his father started forcing him to watch porn. The child already was feeling stirrings that he might be gay, so you can guess what happened. Enraged that Kendal was more interested in the men than the women, his father began to abuse him sexually.

In order to cope and noticing how his mother was able to ‘shut off’, Kendal started stealing her pills and used them until he got caught by his parents two years later. By then he was addicted, and when they kicked him out of the house he gravitated towards harder drugs like cocaine and heroin and a group of kids who were always high. He was homeless until he was taken in at fourteen by the family of one of his friends, Kyle, who had met him in a park late one night when he was bloody, bruised and wasted. A year later he went to live with a man named James who became his surrogate father, and Kendal managed to temporarily jettison the drugs.

Emery was facing equal difficulty in his life. The family lived in Pennsylvania when he was a child but his father died when he was quite young. Some of the only memories he had of his early years was cringing in the dark with his older sister as his parents fought violently. At some point after his death, his mother moved the two children to Louisiana where she worked as a waitress. Emery was on his own a lot and was attracted to drug use too because all his friends got high. He knew he was gay by his early teens.

In the home of James, described as a cardiologist in the story, Kendal settled into sobriety and began to thrive. He was musically inclined so James paid for violin and piano lessons, and he readily picked up instruction on both instruments. Kyle had introduced him to BMX biking and he was so proficient that he could have been sponsored and gone professional. Kendal was a natural baseball player. He had always been very intelligent, and he felt he had something to prove so he applied himself in school and began to get good grades.

He was a throwback to an earlier age. He could riff with the best on his guitar and enjoyed indie music, but he loved classical too. His favorite television programs were documentaries and PBS, and he’d rather read a book on real subjects he could learn about than fiction. He liked to collect things which he called artifacts and saved maps, always wanting to know about different places that he might be able to visit some day. He made it a point to learn new words and their meanings so he could use them. He was fascinated by archeology and hoped to become a nurse.

Kendal was handsome, he had a sweet, trusting personality and he was popular. By the time he met Emery, he seemed like a normal all-American kid. But see, so few children manage to get through a childhood like Kendal’s unscathed. Sexual and physical abuse, drug addiction, the lack of bonding with parents and homelessness caused irreparable harm and made him unstable. He was bipolar and even on medication went through long periods of time where he was figuratively holding his breath, waiting for the ceiling to cave in. He had terrible self-esteem and loathed himself, believing that if others knew the real Kendal they would want nothing to do with him. He would get depressed and angry and lash out at people.

As for Emery, he was just trying to get by. He used drugs recreationally, but he had no goals or dreams. His friends were much like him, kids to hang out and get in trouble with. They would ditch class to get high under the football bleachers, and he let them pick on him. Maybe he felt he deserved it. Two of his friends were physically abusive, and behind his back they made fun of him for being gay.

When the two met they were already in relationships. Kendal was going out with a boy named Alex who seemed to treat him like some kind of prize rather than a flesh and blood human being. Due to his sexual abuse, Kendal naturally had problems with trust and intimacy, but either he was afraid of telling Alex or the other kid didn’t care. Alex pressured him and set up a series of tests for Kendal to follow to prove he really liked him. When the qualifications were met, Alex threw him over anyways. Kendal tried to kill himself.

Emery was with Taylor. He was only fourteen, but with youth it’s almost expected that any relationship that lasts longer than a couple of days means sex. Taylor was also massively into drug use which changed his personality from one day to the next, and he became abusive. Sadly, Emery’s mother had mental issues and latched on to this kid, refusing to relinquish a dream that Taylor and her son would end up together. It would lead to tragedy later.

Here is the first point where the timeline gets skewed a bit. Like I said, Emery and Kendal met in 2007 a couple years after Kendal moved into James’ house. Also living there was James’ toddler daughter, Samantha, and a girl named Skye who was a housekeeper. In the story she is described as being in her late teens, but she was there to cook and keep an eye out on the child. James’ wife had died some four or five years before.

Skye is the mother of Kendal’s daughter, Addie, who was born in 2007, meaning she was conceived in 2006 when Kendal was fifteen. Supposedly, he accepted a dare and got hurt, breaking two of his fingers. He was in a lot of pain. Skye got him drunk and he got her pregnant.

In the story Addie’s birth takes place later, way after Emery and Kendal started dating, so I’m not sure if Kendal and Skye kept the paternity a secret or it was always known and not important until after Kendal became an adult. It definitely set up a chain of events by the time Addie was three where Kendal would end up giving up so much for her. Not that I blame Addie- I don't.

A year later, his son, Jayden, was born by an unnamed woman who was heavy into drug use and they supposedly kept in contact until Kendal’s death. Emery and Kendal were together part of that time, so Jayden must have known him too. There is no mention of this boy in Emery’s stories, and Emery led us to believe that Jayden was his son. We didn’t find out otherwise until after Emery’s death, but the truth makes a lot more sense than his version.

Emery said that the mom got caught up in a raid on a meth lab and he was notified early in 2012 when she went to jail that Jayden had been born and needed a home. This must have been handled outside of legal channels because I don’t see any way the authorities would give a preschooler to a man his age without Social Services getting involved. I also have no idea why he sought to hide Jayden’s paternity, but I find something admirable in a person who would raise another man’s child simply because he loved him. That’s just me; you don’t have to agree.

Once Kendal became Emery’s friend he introduced him to James and Skye and to his friends, Kyle, Kevin, Gary and Shiloh. By then Emery was already secretly in love with Kendal, having broken up with Taylor because of the physical abuse. Emery first met the four boys at a piano concert that Kendal participated in, and later he learned that Kevin and Kendal were dating. It made him very jealous. This event most likely took place at some point in the early part of 2008.

Several months later Kendal was trying out for the varsity baseball team at the high school, and Emery and Kevin showed up to cheer him on. When Kendal made the team, he and Kevin went out to celebrate and then ended up getting into an argument. They broke up. Emery spent the next week witnessing Kendal castigate himself for his oversensitivity and fall into a depression when Kevin refused to stay in contact with him, but he did his best to try to cheer up his friend.

The night that Emery finally lost patience with the whole mess, he expressed an opinion that if Kevin was truly worthy of Kendal's love, he'd fight to get him back. Kendal picked up the non-spoken clues, and Emery was forced to admit to him that he was in love with him. Caught off-guard, Kendal got mad and kicked him out. Emery was totally crushed because his admission cost him a friend too.

Three days later Kendal came to him and begged for forgiveness, saying that he’d been harsh and admitting to liking Emery. He said he wanted to start dating, and Kendal eventually fell in love with Emery.

The two boys were completely different in almost every way. Where Kendal watched educational television, Emery preferred sitcoms. He listened to rap which Kendal despised. They didn’t like the same foods. Kendal and Emery didn’t trust each other’s friends; they got after each other about the drug use even though it was a pot and kettle situation. They had, literally, nothing in common but they laughed at their petty differences.

What wasn't so funny was that they fought constantly. It has only been recently that Emery’s immaturity has come to light, and he was very cruel to Kendal. The older boy idolized him and was co-dependent on Emery. That, unfortunately, is another byproduct of growing up in a home where nobody loves or wants you. People who don’t like themselves usually go one of two ways. You eventually fall in love and some will do anything to keep the person they adore from leaving, even if that means letting themselves be abused. Many believe they deserve the mistreatment, setting themselves up to be bullied. Emery took his own anger and depression out on Kendal.

But the two stayed together more or less. Kendal graduated from high school in 2009 and tried a job and college part-time. Emery was still in high school so they couldn’t live together but he let his boyfriend’s brilliance wash over him and made the determination to try harder in school. Kendal’s friend, Kyle, was still in the picture which was a constant source of jealousy, and equally as bad, Emery continued to get high with his ex-boyfriend.

At some point after Kendal turned 18 James went to him and told him it was time for him to step up and be more of a father to Addie. She and Skye were still living in the house, and James not only knew Kendal was gay, he also knew that he and Emery were boyfriends. But he told Kendal that if he wanted to continue to live in his home he had to break up with Emery and ‘settle down’.

Kendal tried to be obedient, but he devastated Emery by abruptly splitting up without giving a reason why. He also cut all ties. Unable to stand being apart, Kendal crawled back to him a week later and told him the truth. They decided to sneak around to see each other and keep their relationship secret. This probably went on for about eight or nine months.

When James eventually found out he kicked Kendal out of the house. He had nowhere else to go, so after an absence of six + years he moved back home. Kendal thought after all that time his parents had changed and would love him. He thought he was strong enough to deal with any problems that came up and they would be grateful for him sharing his paycheck with the family. At least now he didn’t have to hide being with Emery.

Nothing he dreamed of came to pass.

Emery had continued to use drugs throughout their relationship, and he got them from Taylor who still felt a proprietary right over him. It was easy enough to get Emery high and take advantage of him. After Kendal moved in with his parents it happened again, but this time Emery felt so guilty that he told Kendal and they argued over it. Emery was very harsh, making fun of Kendal’s sense of betrayal, and they broke up.

The subsequent months were awful. Kendal’s parents put horrendous pressure on him to support the family- neither of his parents worked, but it was okay for Kendal to try to hold down two jobs at a time. He was being sexually abused by his father again as well as physically mistreated by him and Kendal’s younger brother. Without Emery around to prop him up emotionally, he fell apart. He dived back into drug use and started cutting on himself. He slept with anyone who would accept him, mostly women. Symptoms of schizophrenia began to surface.

As for Emery, he stayed angry with Kendal for a very long time. It wasn’t until close to Kendal’s 19th birthday in October when he accidentally shopped at the store Kendal worked at and he saw the damage done up close. Bone thin, needle tracks and scars on his arms, and dead eyes. Emery knew he should stay and try to talk to Kendal, to find a way to help, maybe even get back together but he allowed his friends to convince him to leave.

Ever punishing, James wouldn’t let Kendal see Addie. At times his dwindling friends, led by James’ nephew, Danny, would set up visits just so he could hold his daughter, but as the abuse at home began to overwhelm him, he was too ashamed to admit what was going on. He stopped hanging with his buddies so that outside of his family the only people he was around were his drug contacts and the people he worked with. The more time that went by, the more he loathed what he’d become.

Therapy wasn’t helping. He had nobody. Incredibly, not one person seemed to notice that he was wasting away and disintegrating before their eyes. He actually believed that everyone would be happier if he was gone, and he felt he had nothing to live for.

On December 31 he showed up at Kyle’s place, drunk and high on methamphetamine. They argued briefly and he got violent, threatening Kyle. But Kendal was at the end of his own road. He slit his throat on a piece of broken mirror and died, a gumball ring Emery had given him as an engagement ring in his hand.

Emery was only seventeen at the time.

I have read some of Emery’s diary entries from the subsequent months after Kendal’s death. He had to find out from, of all people, Taylor. Taylor who laughed over it and teased him about his “little faggot friend killing himself” while Emery broke down in front of him in hysterics. He began to frantically contact anyone he could think of to get answers. Nobody who knew would initially talk to him because they blamed Emery, but he finally learned the truth. Kendal was dead.

Emery blamed himself too. He knew he had treated Kendal badly and neglected him, making excuses not to speak to him or try to understand the pain he was going through. Kendal had written his thoughts down in journals, positive and negative. When Emery read how much Kendal cared for him and fixated on what was left of their love for each other, it was a huge burden. The more he learned, the more positive Emery became that he was the reason Kendal was dead.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that from the first second of learning of his boyfriend’s suicide, Emery made the decision that he was going to die too. He felt such guilt over abandoning him and letting him deal with all that pain alone. Kendal refused to disclose the amount of suffering he was going through at the hands of his father and brother. Emery also took the responsibility there, knowing if they had been together Kendal would not have been living at home. At least he would have fought harder and had someone to confide in and give him advice. But more than anything, Emery reflected back on all the times Kendal had been there to listen and comfort him and knew he’d never given back in the same way. And now it was too late.

In the months that followed there were a few brief times Emery thought he could beat the sadness, but they never lasted. He took the inspiration that Kendal had given him and applied himself grade-wise, graduating the spring of 2011 with plans to go to college. Jayden’s mother got in trouble and turned over custody of him which provided the impetus for a time to clean up his act and become a surrogate father. I know he loved Jay with all his heart and the child loved him. He got mostly clean of the drugs in the end and he tried to get away from the abuse. But his mother adored Taylor so much more than she loved her own son, she virtually blackmailed them into staying together until Emery almost died.

Kendal had once said, and Emery quoted, “I don't believe in forgive and forget. Remembrance is what makes forgiveness such a beautiful thing.” It wasn’t original (I frankly don’t know where it comes from) but for a short while Emery let himself believe it.

It must be hard to surround yourself with memories and mementos of a person you are close to, letting yourself steep in sadness until you can’t stand it. He had Kendal’s writings, his music, his clothes. He became keeper of his artifacts and a binder where all the good stuff Kendal had saved was locked away. He remembered all their special days like the Fourth of July when Kendal had surprised Emery with a cruise on James’ yacht and they made love for the first time. He visited the places they used to go, although he couldn’t force himself to travel to New Orleans which had been a destination for a special date. It all swirled around him like a mist, never letting him forget that this amazing boy had loved him and given up his life, thinking Emery would be happier without him.

I think writing the stories for Literotica and dredging up all their history was cathartic for Emery. He liked hearing from the people who got in contact with him to tell him how motivating he was to them. He let people like me in, and those of us who stayed in contact by e-mail and Facebook did our best to encourage him. But he had the same problem that Kendal did. He never realized how unique and wonderful he was. He wouldn’t let himself be loved in any way except from a distance and he used his own self-loathing as a filter to remind himself that he was worthless.

Emery’s frame of mind frightened the hell out of me. I know when I first read the last chapter, Tonight and Forever, I was compelled to contact him because I could tell he was very depressed and probably suicidal. The brief respites from the grief were just that, short-lived, and they left him even more sad and lonely. He was obsessed with Kendal. He let himself be raped and beaten just like Kendal and he sank deeper into his own battle with drugs. He set up plans where he could find his own end without interference so when the time came he would be free to move on them. More and more he became despondent until he only saw one way out.

Last July he took it.


  1. I remember that the news of Emery's death was one of your first blog entries, and it really struck me how much of ourselves we put into our work, but still how much we hold back. I read the Kendal and Emery stories on Lit., and when I read that entry, I cried. It seems like you used their story as a basis for Dax, and if so, it's a wonderful tribute. Every time I read your work and see Kendal and Emery's pictures, I shake my head and wonder how many other kids are going through similar situations. Such heartache.

    1. That was the wildest coincidence. I didn't even know Emery when I began writing Dreaming of Dax nor had I read his original Kendal stories which went up on Lit beginning in the spring of 2011. I only read the single-chapter version last March. Emery was reading me though and left a couple comments on my story, including how realistically I portrayed Dax's drug issues. He told me he started reading because one of his friends nicknamed him Dax and he was curious. He saw so much of himself in the Michael character and how he betrayed Dax because that's what he did to Kendal. He liked my story for giving my characters the happy ever after he wanted for the two of them.

      Emery was in such pain at the end. Last 4th of July was very scary. He had finally moved out of his mom's house where she was allowing Taylor to rent a room and he was abusing Emery and had hurt Jayden in the process. The move didn't give him the peace he expected. I tried to tell him to do something fun with Jayden and make new memories for the day, but he wanted to celebrate it remembering Kendal. He told me (an apparently everyone else he was close to) not to worry if we didn't hear from him for awhile. That was impossible- we always worried where he was concerned. My last contact with him was on the 6th and ten days later he was dead. I still miss him so much.

  2. Man, reading that was heart wrenching. Those poor boys. It's hard to say anything else about it because it is so sad. I wish teachers or the school counselors would be.more aware of students who look like they are struggling through life. I mean they both did hard drugs and from what you said about their changing appearances, some teacher or counselor should have noticed and tried to help or something. It just sounds like tbey were so alone with no one to go to for help. I have been out of high school for 10 years now, and I hope things have gotten better for kids that are enduring a fucked up home life.

    I hope that others read this story, and if they are also in a difficult situation... maybe this true story will inspire them to seek help before they get to the point where they think taking their life is the only option left.

    Great post. I hope writing about this has maybe helped exorcise some of your bad memories of what happened. Can't wait for your next post. Happy new year too!

    Katie []

    1. Thank you. I have never understood how a person can change so drastically in the space of a few months and nobody would take the time to go up to them and ask if they're okay. Neighbors, teachers, bosses... Kendal was rapidly falling apart before their eyes, and they ignored it. Emery too in some fashion.

      Emery was not allowed to attend the funeral by Kendal's friends who all blamed him, and yes, maybe his cheating played a part in Kendal's decision to kill himself. Even James blamed him- James who Kendal had idolized until he basically told him to "stop being gay", give up his boyfriend and settle down into a hetero lifestyle and raise Addie with Skye. Had James shown the least amount of compassion to him, Kendal never would have moved home. When he and Emery split up, Kendal would have had stability to fall back on and probably would still be alive. Instead, after he died, all the adults decided to make a teenager the scapegoat for their own blindness and failings and left Emery to flounder under the weight of his guilt. To this day James takes no responsibility for his part. It all makes me so angry.

    2. Yeah. You know with all those people he living d with or saw day to day(well this goes for both of them), those people just acted blind to their issues and were so selfish and wrapped up in their own weird selves tgat they seem like they never batted an eye to these poor teens problems. The families and the boyfriend's. In my opinion all sounded like they were nuts and fucked in the heads.

      They just didn't have anyone to go to or even a place to stay where they were safe. I hope the friends and family felt bad and maybe a little responsible, but from whst you wrote about them, I highly doubr it. Fuckers. At least Emery found you guys when he started writing on Lit. He hzd a few people who felt for him and loved him and tried to offer support like you did. It breaks my heart though that he was in that much pain that taking his life was his only way out.

      I'm glad he had you as a friend and loving supporter even though it was only for a little while. Even though tbe families and boyfriends were a bust, I hope that those two up in heaven found each other and that tbey know that at least some us us love them, even if it's from afar. Agai.girl, great post.

      Katie []

    3. Geez! Sorry my grammar is so bad. I wrote all this on my cell phone and I wrote so fast I guess my fingers hit tbe wrong keys. I'm not a moron lol! There is just no spell check on my cell pho.e and I'm to lazy to edit my posts before I post them. Just wanted to explain that a little.

      Happy new years day!

      Katie []

    4. I had the privilege to talk to Kyle, Kendal's friend, via MySpace last summer. Kyle was there when Kendall committed suicide, and when I first told him that Emery was dead he was glad. He told me how badly Emery had treated Kendal while he was alive and said he deserved to die. Then I explained how Em had taken full responsibility for his actions and died believing it was all his fault, and Kyle calmed down. He shared some of the good times he witnessed, and it made him feel better to know that Emery loved Kendal so much and didn't blame him for what happened. Kyle is still one messed-up kid over it because he was in love with Kendal too.

  3. I remember reading those stories and, later, hearing the story behind them. They were disturbing and heartbreaking and, although I don't remember details, the essence of the stories stayed with me. They left me with such a feeling of helplessness and sorrow. I don't know if I believe in an afterlife but, if there is one, these two boys surely deserve to be happy and together there.

    1. They certainly do. Emery described himself as an atheist, but he was seeking answers after Kendal's suicide. I am a Chistian, and my biggest, most far-reaching regret is that I never told him how much he was loved by God, as damaged as he was. It haunts me.

  4. This is so sad, I hope those two boys have found some kind of peace in their afterlife.
    I am very sorry for your loss, I've lost a close friend to suicide and I understand how awful the grief is.
    RIP Emery & Kendal <3

  5. It is so sad to live in a world with so many freedoms but the freedom to love who you want is judged. My heart cries for these boys and anyone going through the same circumstances. I hope they found each other where ever they are now and can finally have the happiness they deserve.