The Private Life and Public Death of Frank Koury
Even as he lay dying of AIDS, Albert Frank Koury was intent on being a Southern gentleman. It was the way he was brought into the world, 40 years before in New Orleans, and, as much as he had a say in such things, it was the way he intended to leave it.
In late June 1993, nearly five years after he was diagnosed with the HIV virus, Koury was admitted to Park Plaza Hospital with pneumonia. Though he didn't think it was his time to die, he summoned his lawyer, Randall Lamb, to the intensive care unit to discuss a revised draft of his last will and testament. Later in the week, Lamb returned with his secretary to witness the signing of the document that would tell the world Frank Koury's last thoughts. On that second visit, Lamb noticed that Koury appeared much sicker. His oval, olive-toned face was pale and bloated behind an oxygen mask; a respirator tube tapered down his throat.
Still, Koury was well enough to pick up a pen and write a short message on a pad of computer paper. Lamb smiled as he read the first line: "You sure look nice." It was the sort of charm, effortless even in extreme circumstances, that people had come to expect from Frank Koury. Lamb read on: "I reviewed [the will] upon receipt but would prefer to be cleaned up etc. and sit down like gentlemen in a few days. It's not pneumocystis so I think we can wait a few days. Is that OK?"
Lamb left Park Plaza with the will unsigned. Then, a few days later, on July 6, he received a phone call from the hospital. Koury's lung had collapsed. He rallied briefly, but died of heart failure shortly after 7 p.m.
Professionally, Frank Koury died fulfilled. He had a coveted partnership at Fulbright & Jaworski, one of Houston's illustrious Big Three law firms, a comfortable, six-figure salary and an enviable estate. He also had a valued reputation as a "lawyer's lawyer." But if his professional life seemed beyond dispute, his personal life was another story. In Frank KouryÕs death, the question of who he really was became an issue that would tear into his family, his friends and his memory.
It was the will, left unsigned, that caused Koury's personal life to come to the fore. The will led to an embarrassing court battle over his estate that ended this April with a bewildering jury verdict. From that case emerged a puzzling story of an ambitious and seemingly self-assured man blessed with an immediate and aristocratic grace, who tried to strike a balance between being a gay man, an ideal member of a prominent law firm and the perfect son. It is the story of a man who, for all his accomplishments, could never quite reconcile these distinct images of himself.
The will reflected that confusion. Signed, it would have left the bulk of Frank Koury's estate to a man who had lived with him for years, a man he referred to as his spouse. To sign that will would have been to admit to the world at large that he was, indeed, gay. That he didnÕt sign the will has left those who loved Frank Koury -- chief among them Sam Templeton, Koury's live-in lover -- confused about just who Koury was. Was the unsigned will simply the unfortunate result of a death that came a day, an hour, a minute too soon? Or was it a tragic sign of the lengths Koury was prepared to go to rewrite the record of his life? There was a time when understanding Frank's conflicted life didn't much matter to Sam Templeton. But since then, he has discovered that Frank Koury was HIV positive Ñ and well aware of it -- during the years that the two of them were having unprotected sex. With his own death from AIDS imminent, Templeton has begun to wonder about the man he once thought he knew so well. He has fixated on the illusive, unknown chapters of Frank Koury's life. They haunt him, for how these chapters are pieced together will validate or destroy his memory of their relationship.
"Was it that he really didn't care about me at all?" Templeton says. "Was I just a concubine hired on to help Frank Koury get through his illness?
"If there is an afterlife, I'll get an answer from Frank. "Who shot JFK?" -- that'd be the first question. Then I'd say, "Why didn't you sign the will?" I'll get an answer and it better be a good one."
Sam Templeton is not the only one who has been seeking answers. So has George Koury, Frank's father, and the man who, for two miserably wet days in early April, engaged in legal conflict with Templeton over what Frank intended to do with the fruits of his labor. More than mere wrangling, the trial was a coming-out party of sorts, but one in which there was little to celebrate.
It had been late evening in Southern California when George Koury received the news of his son's death. George had moved from New Orleans to Escondido, near San Diego, in 1984 with his former secretary, Jacqueline. George had married Jacqueline in 1982, seven months after the death of Frank's mother, Eleanor. His father's remarriage so soon after the death of his mother upset Frank and his two older sisters, Pam and Michelle. Frank never visited his father in Escondido. He only saw him when George passed through Texas on his way to New Orleans on business, or during visits to Dallas, where Michelle lived with her family.
George was a successful businessman, savvy and well-educated, but with the dogged work ethic of a self-made man. He had four college degrees, one of which he earned by attending night school for nine years. In the Crescent City and beyond, George was in high demand as a consultant. Indeed, he was busy: CEO of Pantasote, a large plastics firm; a member of Franklin Printing's board of directors; consultant for a number of clothing manufacturers -- Botany, Bonnie Francis, Elliance, Sans Souci (which he eventually bought in 1979). Somehow, George managed to find the time and energy to start his own clothing operation, Quality Manufacturing.
At home, George had a powerfully patriarchal way that commanded respect and struck a neat, old-world balance with Eleanor's china-and-lace propriety. Raising a family was not unlike running a business. Problems were expedited and swiftly stashed away. Reflection was a useless commodity. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things, and doing things with emotion was always the wrong way.
But there was no way to prepare for the phone call George Koury received on July 6, 1993, from Carol Butner, a colleague of Frank's at Fulbright & Jaworski. "I am one of Frank's best friends and his law partner," Butner began. "I would give anything in the world if I didn't have to make this phone call, but Frank is dead."
"Is this some kind of a sick joke?" George responded. "Who are you? My son is working on a big case."
"I wish it was a joke," Butner replied. "But it isn't."
George dialed Frank's number in Houston, but got only the answering machine. Soon after, he received a call from a man who asked George when he was coming to Houston. "I'll pick you up at the airport," the man said.
On the flight to Houston, George shuffled memories of his boy and settled uneasily on those ones that make death so hard on the living. Frank was a good kid who loved crawfish and the New Orleans Saints. He was a dutiful son to Eleanor and a typical little brother to Pam and Michelle. At age 10, while his friends slung newspapers onto the porches and lawns of New Orleans, Frank helped his dad do the payroll for George's apparel factory. In church, Frank prayed hard alongside his devout family, studied the catechism and learned to take hope from the Lord's message.
At New Orleans' Jesuit High School, a private school Frank attended at his father's insistence, and later at Tulane and the University of Texas, Frank was clean-cut and popular. He excelled in the classroom. Even then, long before he came to Houston, it was apparent that Frank Koury would learn his lessons well and, therefore, find success. It was all part of his destiny -- as imminent, it seemed, as a pretty wife and fine children of his own.
There were other memories for George Koury to reflect upon. But as the jet flew east from San Diego, out of the cool California evening into a hot July night in Houston, these were the thoughts he massaged repeatedly in his mind. He was grateful for them, and for the old, familiar pride they rekindled. Frank, George would later testify in court, was "everyone you wanted in a son."
Waiting for George at the airport was Sam Templeton, a tall, red-headed man with a powerful build and a strong, angular face. Sam's own grieving mind replayed memories of Frank Koury that, as George later put it, were "antithetical to everything my son ever learned."
Sam and Frank met in the summer of 1987 at Birdwatcher's, then a club on lower Westheimer in the heart of Houston's gay community. Sam, 29 at the time, was born in South Houston and had lived in the area his entire life. His parents divorced when he was young and he had a troubled relationship with the man his mother later married.. Sam's interest in art and music received little encouragement, and after being graduated from high school in 1977, he took a job as a pipefitter's helper. He eventually became an electrician's apprentice at Houston Lighting & Power and, though he had long wondered about his attraction to men, he settled into a relationship with a woman. It wasn't until the relationship seemed headed for marriage that he accepted that he was gay, broke up with his girlfriend and quit HL&P to strike out on his own as a freelance recording engineer.
A sense of loss and a persistent disenchantment hover about Sam Templeton. Even before he left home, Sam nurtured a self-imposed exile from his roots. In Frank Koury, Sam found the source of sophistication and refinement that always seemed beyond his reach. As soft-spoken and unassuming as he was good-looking, Sam was attractive to Frank in a way that the confident, hard-driving men and women in the Houston professional world weren't. Sam was new to the gay scene; there was a sincere, almost sweet naivete in his approach to the lifestyle. Frank was considerably more experienced. Still, he had grown weary of the club scene, and welcomed meeting someone who viewed it with equal ambivalence.
Their first date came soon after at a small dinner party at a friend of Frank's. Within a couple of weeks, they were spending nearly all their free time together. At Frank's urging, Sam enrolled at the University of St. Thomas as a business major. In September, they had an informal private ceremony at Transco Tower, where they exchanged vows written by Frank. Sam then moved into Frank's townhouse on Birdsall Street, a dozen quiet blocks off Memorial Drive.
Frank's small circle of friends, mostly gay men, were relieved. Frank had never been one to openly discuss his sexuality. He appeared reluctant to have a real gay relationship, as if by doing so, he would be admitting something he wished to deny. Instead, to the concern of his friends, he slipped in and out of the shadows of the gay culture. "He would grab at the attention whenever he could get it," said one friend who had known Frank since 1982. "Other than that all he did was work."
One night in 1986, Frank had grabbed for the attention in the wrong place. He brought a man back to the townhouse on Birdsall. A few hours later, the building was in flames. When firefighters and police arrived, they found Frank tied to the bed. They also found cocaine. The drug charge was adjudicated and Frank received two years probation in addition to paying a $1,000 fine. He also checked into a substance abuse clinic for a spell.
"I think he put himself in that situation numerous times," said the friend. "I think it's common with people who are real closeted to do stuff like that. It set him up to get hurt. I feel certain that's all Frank did until he met Sam."
The incident, with its kinky undertones, threatened Frank's career at Fulbright & Jaworski just as his shot at partnership was approaching. Not surprisingly, he was passed over. But he hung onto his associate position in large part thanks to David Beck, a senior partner at Fulbright and Frank's mentor. According to one former Fulbright associate, Beck managed to ward off the press and "get Frank the help he needed."
According to friends, Frank was devastated. Since college, he had dedicated himself to someday making partner at a big firm in Houston. Like all top candidates from the UT law school, Frank was courted by the best Houston firms. But there were really only three options: Fulbright & Jaworski, Vinson & Elkins and Baker & Botts -- the city's Big Three.
Getting a job with one of these firms is to become a part of the city's establishment, as well as its well-paid defender. In return for prestige and better-than-average salaries, associates are expected to turn their lives over to the firm. They work grueling hours, putting in time at the office seven days a week. Competition is intense and fear of failure is a driving force. A covenant of conformity and the utmost discretion is agreed upon: dress, social and political agendas, even office decor are to meet the standards and tradition of the firm. Though Fulbright & Jaworski has a reputation for racial and ethnic tolerance -- they were the first of the Big Three to hire Jewish and African-American clerks and associates -- homosexuality was another matter when Frank arrived in 1980. Houston was not nearly as tolerant then as it seems today. Police raids on gay clubs were common. There was little political or social support for gays, and it behooved professionals to remain as far back in the closet as they could get.
Until his death, Frank was obsessed with meeting the ideals of Fulbright & Jaworski, perhaps to the point where he overcompensated to avoid scrutiny. "With Frank, everything had to be right," said one friend. "He was enamored with Fulbright. He worked incredible hours, like he could never prove worthy of what he was doing."
And the longer he hid his sexuality from the firm, the harder it became to step forward. "It's much more difficult to change in midstream and say, 'Oh, by the way, here's something you didn't know about me,' " says Chris Bacon, a former associate at Vinson & Elkins who heads the Gay & Lesbian Bar Association. "It's very risky. The fear is, 'Will I lose it all?' So you go to great pains to create a life that really isn't yours."
The circumstances of the townhouse fire destroyed Frank's secret at the firm, but he chose to continue to play the game. Carol Butner, who described Frank at the estate trial as her "dearest friend," testified that she knew Frank was gay, but not because he ever came right out and said it. "It was just something I knew," she said.
The rigid personal standards of Fulbright dictated Frank's life away from the office, too. He was always on edge when out in public with Sam, fearful that a partner or another associate would see them together. He refused to have dinner out with his lover because he thought people would assume two men dining together were gay. Sam never set foot in Fulbright's offices during business hours and never met any of Frank's colleagues, including Carol Butner. Sam was forbidden to answer the phone at the townhouse; when he called Frank at work, he used a fake name.
Frank was keeping his sexuality a secret from his family as well. Before his mother died in 1981, Frank used to make regular trips to Louisiana, showing up on Friday nights in New Orleans with a bucket of crawfish. After Eleanor Koury died, Frank never made another trip to New Orleans to see George. At one point, George thought his son was going to marry a woman in New York. But Frank explained to him that neither he nor the woman were willing to alter their career paths.
After that, George heard little about his son's private life. He supported Frank's effort to reach partnership and attributed the infrequency and limited scope of their conversations to tunnel vision. He was instructed to call Frank at the office and, as often as not, when he tried to make plans to stop in Houston for a visit, Frank told him he would be gone or busy working on a case. "It was a total surprise to me," George testified in court about his son's lifestyle. "I didn't know what to think. I couldn't understand. I kept thinking what did I do wrong, how could I have prevented this?"
Sam seemed to understand that he had little choice but to participate in Frank's double life. He wished they were able to do more things together, but he loved Frank and was willing to play by his rules -- the same way Frank played by the rules set down by Fulbright & Jaworski. He was busy enough himself with school and, besides, they had talked of someday getting a house together. The strongest show of his commitment was to stand by quietly until Frank made partner, when, perhaps, everything could be put out in the open.
"I think everybody that knew Frank thought he was a single workaholic," Sam says. "What was really important to him was making partner. It wasn't so much the money as the acceptance. That these people, these colleagues would accept him and make him one of their own."
There were moments, however, when Frank was able to forget he harbored a secret. Whenever he could, Sam dragged Frank to his favorite museum, the Menil Collection. On their birthdays, they celebrated with lunch at Tony's or Cafe Annie. Until AIDS decimated their social circle, they enjoyed the company of their gay friends. They traveled -- Mexico, Los Angeles, ski trips to Santa Fe.
Asked what drew them together, one friend replied: "It was the financial part for Sam. He'd never had anything. And Sam provided Frank with a home and stability, something he hadn't had. Frank became a lot calmer, more laid-back about being gay after he met Sam. He had a home, rather than just a place to sleep."
Then one spring evening in 1990, Sam was looking through Frank's briefcase for a pencil when he found some pills. The next day, he called a pharmacy and learned the medication was AZT, at the time the only FDA-approved treatment for AIDS.
Sam was shaken. He and Frank had always had unprotected sex, but they considered themselves responsible, intelligent men and it just didnÕt seem possible that AIDS could invade their life. Frank had told Sam once that only gay men into leather and S&M contracted AIDS. When Sam confronted his lover that evening, Frank broke down and said he had just recently discovered he was HIV-positive. "I wanted to tell you," Sam remembers him saying. "I just didn't know how."
A month later, tests revealed that Sam was also HIV-positive. By this time, Sam was beginning to feel suffocated by the pressures and secrecy of the "whole Fulbright & Jaworski lifestyle." He was angry and
anicked by the prospect of a future filled with horrible sickness and loss. He tried to leave, but Frank wouldn't let him.
They decided they would beat the disease. Their doctors told them that someone was sure to find a cure soon and, if they could take care of themselves, they would live long enough to see the day. "We were hopeful," Sam said. "We were still building for the future. I was going to graduate, start a career. Frank was going to be a partner. We were going to build a house. What else is there to do, roll over and die?"
But by December 1991, when Sam received his degree in business administration, the effects of Frank's HIV were beginning to show. His weight loss and fatigue were exacerbated by his near-maniacal pace at work. Still, he wouldn't think of retiring, not while he was still an associate.
As partnership time approached once again, Sam, whose HIV was still dormant, was pounding the pavement looking for work. Frank bought Sam several thousand dollars worth of recording equipment to begin a home studio. On a spring evening in 1992, Frank walked through the door of his townhouse and said, "I made it." He danced around the house like a child and reveled noisily in a long-awaited satisfaction. The next day, he returned to his 12-hour workdays, intent on assuring Fulbright & Jaworski that they had done right by making Frank Koury one of their own.
Sam urged him to retire, to make the best of the time he had left. "How can you ask me to do that?" Frank replied. "They just made me partner. I can't just up and quit now."
But within a year, he had no choice. His drive was as potent as ever, it seemed, but his body could no longer meet the demands of a Fulbright attorney. He took to coming home from work and going right to bed. He finally took disability retirement in April when his T cell count fell to a dangerous level. Retirement only added to Frank's misery. His bitterness was too much and all he could do was sit and brood. "He was just sick and tired of being sick and tired," Sam said.
Frank's family still had no idea what was going on in Houston. Frank had last seen his father in 1991 and hadn't talked to him since April. Then on June 3, his sister Michelle called to invite Frank to join her on a trip to New Orleans, "to do the town."
"He declined," she would say later in a deposition. "He said he was in the middle of a stressful case." By the end of June, Frank was in pain, feverish and having trouble breathing. On Saturday, June 28, Sam almost had to drag him to the hospital. But it was too late. Frank had nothing left with which to defend himself. He gradually slipped away and died 10 days later.
"In Sam's eyes, Frank could do no wrong," says a friend. "Frank told him he'd be OK. But if he had been to the hospital a week earlier, he would have probably lived. But there's a lot of fear of going to the hospital, like if you go to Park Plaza, you've got AIDS. Well, big fucking deal. There are no horrible secrets. We all have them. But if you're open and honest about it, then you really get a chance to live. Frank didn't do that."
Sam Templeton didn't know what to expect when he first met George Koury. In the six years Sam had known Frank, George didn't seem to occupy much of a role in his son's life, and when Frank did speak of him, it was with ambivalence. He had heard Frank say -- as all Frank's friends had heard him say -- that his mother had loved him too much, his father not enough.
When Sam looked at George Koury, he saw Frank's vaguely sleepy eyes, his broad nose, his thick eyebrows. At 72, George's presence still summoned the 38 years he spent in and out of a naval officer's uniform. But cancer of the prostate and the despair over his son's death had stolen his once-considerable strength. Sam knew George had no idea what his relationship was to Frank. He wondered when he would get the chance, and -- considering the lengths Frank had gone to keep his existence a secret -- the courage to tell him. But when George said he wanted to go immediately to the townhouse to look over his son's important papers, Sam had to speak up.
"You're welcome to stay at the townhouse while you're in town," Sam said. "You'll be more comfortable in the bedroom. I can sleep on the couch." George looked at Sam. Sam continued, choosing his words carefully: "I have lived with your son for the past six years. I'm his spouse."
Nine months after that first meeting, Sam Templeton and George Koury met again in downtown Houston, in Room 9F of the U.S. District Court. The circumstances were no more ideal, though there was nothing to bind them as their sorrow once did. George testified that he had come to Houston in July 1993 to "straighten out my son's affairs, give him a good Christian burial and to say goodbye, not to pass judgment."
Sadly, none of his good intentions have been realized. The awkwardness of Sam and George's first meeting has degenerated into a vicious clash of personality and culture. They have disagreed on just about everything the other has said. They have accused each other of greed, of hatred, and of trying to destroy each other and the memory of Frank. Though Frank is dead more than a year now, it has been impossible for either man to truly say good-bye to him. Too much of his legacy of shame and denial remains.
The days after Frank's death were grief-stricken attempts at compromise and understanding. Sam wanted to be mentioned in the obituary, a request George considered out of the question. Sam and Carol Butner told the family that Frank didn't want a funeral mass.
The decision apparently had little to do with religion: Frank just couldnÕt stand the idea of his gay friends and the people from Fulbright & Jaworski gathering at the same place. Frank was cremated and laid to rest at a private memorial service attended by the family, Sam and Carol.
Meanwhile, Sam was carrying the burden of a horrible discovery. Digging through a trunk in the townhouse garage the night after Frank's death, he came across a manila envelope. Inside were medical records that showed Frank Koury was diagnosed with AIDS in August 1988 -- almost two years before Sam found the AZT in Frank's briefcase. "I felt betrayed," Sam says. "I thought, 'Who was this person? I thought I knew him pretty well.' "
While Sam digested this shock, George was dealing with the question of who this polite, red-headed man was and what he meant to Frank. George had overcome his surprise over meeting Sam enough to show him a degree of kindness, comforting himself with the idea that someone, at least, was there for his dying son. But by the time he met Sam in court, he had formed a different opinion.
Fulbright & Jaworski, hoping to head off a courtroom airing of a former employee's problems, had recommended that Sam and George contact former Fulbright associates to work out any differences they might have. For Sam, that associate was Marc Grossberg, a tax attorney and unabashed liberal; for George, it was Don Fizer, a specialist in trusts and wills.
Their services were required because of a meeting that took place the afternoon of Frank's memorial service. In an effort to help Sam get back on his feet, George had drawn up a document outlining the disposition of Frank's assets. He suggested that Sam get half of what remained after payment of debts and several other stipulations outlined in Frank's unsigned will. The deal, which George said was "from the goodness of my heart," amounted to about $350,000 for Sam doled out over a seven-year period. He gave Sam 48 hours to accept or reject the offer.
Though it would have amounted to less than the $7,500-a-month trust Frank had outline for Sam in his unsigned will, Sam accepted. But before George left Houston, the agreement fell apart. At a meeting with Fizer, he was told that since he would be seen as giving away his money, rather than Frank's, the proposal could affect how much George could leave his remaining children without the IRS taking a large chunk of the inheritance. So George notified Sam that the deal was off.
In response, Sam wrote George the first of what continues to be a steady stream of letters between the two men. "Why are you doing this to me?" he pleaded. "... I don't want to embarrass Fulbright & Jaworski or Frank's colleagues and partners by fighting this out in court." George testified that he took Sam's letter as a threat. Over the next few months, George made at least two offers to Sam, both significantly less than his initial proposal. Grossberg advised Sam to consider the offers. Sam refused. "I'm prepared to sleep on the streets," he told his attorney. In September 1993, he sued George for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
In court, Barry Flynn, a crack trial attorney hired by George, tried to portray Sam as a gold-digger who took advantage of Frank in order to live in high style. George testified that, upon meeting him at the airport, Sam specifically asked about his "inheritance." According to his testimony, George found "tremendous bills, for amazing things." He said he found numerous checks written to Sam for as much as $6,000. He figured that Sam had withdrawn $30,000 from Frank's bank account. One calculation had monthly expenses for Frank and Sam as high as $50,000 a month. George even recalled a conversation where Sam bragged that he wore $16 socks. And he testified that when confronted with the expenses, Sam replied that he didn't think there was a limit to what he could spend.
Sam vigorously denies George's characterization of him. In his testimony, he said George made an offer in a parking garage near Fulbright's offices the day after he arrived in Houston. George allegedly told him, "Sam, here's what I'm thinking -- $500,000 to you, and the condo." Sam said he and Frank were married and that Frank brought home the bacon while he kept the house. They had separate bank accounts; Frank gave him what he needed of his own free will. Sam admitted that he had more than $14,000 in the bank when Frank died, but that the money was earmarked to complete a home recording studio so he could start a business.
The entire affair was sad and unseemly, and contained at least one moment of high drama. Grossberg fought Flynn's strenuous objections to have one last piece of evidence entered in the case: a handwritten will Frank prepared before he had cosmetic chin surgery in 1990. "Sam Templeton has been my significant other for four years," the document said. Frank went on to stipulate that if he should die in surgery, Sam should receive the townhouse, half the proceeds of two insurance policies and have his debts paid off.
Testimony in the case took two days; the jury deliberated twice that long before coming back with a seemingly paradoxical verdict. They agreed that the document George drew up the day of Frank's memorial constituted a contract with Sam. However, the jury somehow decided there was no breach of that contract and that, despite Frank's obvious intentions, Sam was to get nothing.
There is, of course, an irony in Frank Koury's secrets being exposed in a public dispute over his money. Everyone involved agreed that he would have despised watching his loved ones squirm over the life he led. But it was apparently something to which he gave little thought while he was alive, when his private struggle consumed him.
October 3, 1993, was declared A. Frank Koury Day in the city of Houston. Mayor Bob Lanier, members of Frank's family and representatives of Fulbright & Jaworski came together to honor Frank as a good man and a fine attorney. It was a brief respite in the war George and Sam continue to fight to this day over Frank's memory. It is a war of attrition, with each letter and phone call an attempt to claim a tiny piece of Frank's memory.
George is 73 years old now, sick with prostate cancer and still waiting for the courts to tell him what's left of Frank's entangled estate. In the meantime, he has concerned himself with what material possessions Frank left behind. His letters to Sam invariably warn him not to remove or damage any furnishings in the townhouse, including the recording equipment Frank bought for Sam. He seems to be trying to reconcile his feelings about Sam, even as he slips into denial about what he represented in his son's life.
"I am trying to have some compassion for your situation," he wrote on June 18. "I recognize that you may have given my son some companionship during the period that you knew him but you enjoyed a very expensive lifestyle and made no contribution thereto."
Sam Templeton figures he has a year to live. To date, he has managed to avoid pneumonia and other threatening conditions, but he knows from tending to the few friends he has left who have AIDS that it is only a matter of time.
Sam is surviving on $700 a month in social security; George has sent him a couple of checks totaling about $2,700. Still, Sam awakens in the townhouse each day, knowing that George could show up before it's over and order him out. He has accepted the fact that the cure for AIDS will not arrive in time. He has not, however, accepted the circumstances under which the end will come.
"I'd like to think I helped Frank by just being here," he says. And then, a little later, he adds, "Sometimes I get pretty damn pissed at Frank."
As the legacy of one man's personal turmoil, such conflicting emotions come naturally. Sam suspects that the truth of his lover's life, the answer to the question of who Frank Koury really was, will probably always elude him. But for now, with so much of his own life tied up in the answer, there seems no more appropriate question to consider.
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