What follows is a work of fiction. It will include explicit descriptions of consentual sexual encounters between high school aged male children. If this offends you, tough.
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CONTROL and KAOS
When they look back to the years of exploration and discovery, to the first crush, the first dalliance, the first romance, the first entanglement, they see joy and embarrassment and humor. They see naiveté dance with desire. Yes, those things are there for us too. We, too, were foolish and hopeful. We, too, were hysterical and hysterical. But when we look back, we, too frequently and too acutely remember another emotion as unwanted as it was inappropriate. There it is, interwoven with the memories of laughter and drama, of endless moments passing in an instant and instants that lasted an eternity. There, lurking below the brazenness, the silliness, the joy and the pain is shame. They had the self-doubt born of youth. We had the self-doubt born of ignominy.
If it had been different? If we had grown in a world that judged us for what we did rather than what we were? Can such a world be imagined? Such is the stuff of fantasy.
Join me, then, in a story of beginnings in this world of fantastic construction, where epithets and slanders have no place, where the natural is unquestioned and the full range of human experience is never denied. It will be a story of discovery and folly and longing and triumph. It will not be a story with shame. Here, instead, is a story set in a world where shame has no footing.
EJ's posture reflected the seriousness of the conversation. He was seated with his feet planted widely apart, his long frame bent forward so that his elbows rested on his knees. His forearms angled back toward center to where his large hands clasped each other in front of him, creating a diamond of limbs. His brown eyes focused on his forefingers. The sides of his mouth curled slightly down and in.
Topher, too, was serious. But where EJ's stance pointed forward, Topher's was closed. An ankle crossed over a knee, he sat back with his elbows protectively in his lap and played with the little blond hairs that covered his shin and calf. They were, somewhat unexpectedly, in the same boat now.
That they had both recently found themselves single left a void that neither of them quite knew how to fill. Rabbit's graduation had left EJ, in his words, "squeezeless." Now he was a senior and back at square zero on the boyfriend front. He'd never really had to find a boyfriend before. The Rabbit had discovered him when he was a sophomore, and life had been an endless, happy fuck since then. It wasn't that he didn't think he could find someone -- he knew he could. He was as gifted on the field as he was off, and he was, he knew, way hot. Between him and Topher, you pretty much had the top two catches in the school that year. No, it wasn't that he wouldn't be able to find someone, it was that the process of looking was such a pain in the ass. All that work just to find a void to fill!
Topher was in worse shape. They had seen the loss of the Rabbit coming, at least. What they hadn't seen coming -- or rather, what Topher hadn't seen coming -- was being dumped by Lise. He had been burned bad. To his credit, EJ had never once used the word "pussy-whipped" throughout the six months that Topher and Lise had gone out. Since then, of course, he had amply made up for it. Topher didn't like it, but he couldn't argue with it either. He had been pussy-whipped and was still reeling from it. He wasn't quite sure how or when it had happened, either. So when the final shot came, it was a broadside. He was still listing.
That was why EJ had suggested he switch to boys -- at least for the next one. Girlfriends were great, EJ had said, but they were very high-maintenance, and this was a year that was too busy to be worrying about stupid shit like that. They were seniors. This year was supposed to be fun!
"Boys would probably be easier," he had said. "Make them cum and they're happy." Topher laughed at this, pointing out that he was much the same. "That's the whole idea," said EJ. "You don't have to spend all your time worrying about what they're thinking or what they want. Girls are fucking baffling."
This was an argument in which Topher could find no flaw. Girls were baffling. They clearly liked sex as much as he did, but everything was always such a battle. Why do you spend so much time with the guys? Why can't we ever see the movies I want to see? How come you never say, I love you? Why can't you be more romantic? Why do you think farting and holding my head under the covers is funny? Everything was a fucking issue. A boy would be easier.
But he still found himself thinking about Lise all the time. Her smile, her smell, the way she squirmed when he was boning her and she was just about to cum. She made this little squealing sound. Maybe if he apologized for...for...for whatever the hell he had done to piss her off, she'd reconsider.
"I can't really argue with you, dude," Topher said, "but I'm not there yet. My head's still too messed up. I think I'm just going to take some time off."
"Yeah," allowed EJ, "she fucked you up good. Maybe you should."
"Anyway," Topher went on, "who? And how would you find him?"
EJ thought about this for a while. "Well," he said finally. "I don't know. I'll look around."
Seth was engaged in Serious Business. As Theo looked on trying his best not to laugh audibly, Seth inched the grape closer to the barrel in front of him. They were sitting next to each other in band, passing the time in their favorite sport: pissing off Amy Neuman. While the director busied himself haranguing the trombones, Seth was trying to see if he could lodge a grape in the barrel of Amy's flute without her noticing. It wasn't so easy. While she sat with the flute in her lap so that its barrel pointed out and back -- toward Seth who sat behind her -- she spent most of her time chatting with Jen, her stand partner. That put her in a position that made Seth's movements plainly visible out of the corner of her eye. Seth had to time it perfectly. He needed the moment after she turned to look left, but before she repositioned the resting instrument. A particularly vehement invective from the music director caught her attention and Seth made his move. He brought the grape to the end of the flute in a quick, fluid motion. It wouldn't go in, and if he pushed, Amy would feel the pressure and turn to see what was happening. He beat a hasty retreat.
"Fuck!" he mouthed to Theo. "Missed it by that much!" Theo, still trying not to laugh out loud, reached into the baggy of grapes in his knapsack and found a smaller candidate. He traded with Seth, popping the returned grape into his mouth. In the meantime, Amy had turned back to talk with Jen. Unfortunately, while this should have delayed a second assault, Seth had been paying too much attention to trying to make Theo laugh and not enough to his own battle plans. Without noticing that she had turned back he mashed the smaller grape into the end of the flute while she looked on in stunned horror.
"What the fuck?!" she said in disbelief. Alas, it was during one of those spontaneous silences that sometimes occurs in a crowded room. The look on her face was so precious Theo lost it. The grape he was about to swallow blew from his mouth like a cruise missile, landing in Jen's thick black hair just as the music director's gaze came to rest on the poor unfortunate who had decided to interrupt his rehearsal by audibly swearing.
By now the entire woodwind section was in an uproar. All were laughing hysterically except Jen who was feeling around the back of her head trying to figure out what had hit her, and Amy who was doing her best to defend herself to the music director by trying to implicate Seth. Her best efforts and highest indignations were of no avail, though, and she was ejected, unceremoniously, from the room.
Unlike Amy, Jen was a trooper. Finding the partially masticated grape in her hair, she pursed her lips, quietly palmed it, turned and grinned evilly at Theo. He would be finding it somewhere on his person by the end of the day.
Seth was having a hard time keeping his laughter to silent, unreleased spasms. Theo punched him on the thigh to get him to stop, but this only served to increase the pressure building up in his diaphragm. Tears began to form in his eyes. Having disposed of Amy, the director's attention had turned back to rehearsing the bones, which gave Seth time to try to calm down. But every time he looked at Theo, the need to explode in hysterical fits just grew. He turned away from his best friend, and cast his gaze on the other side of the band in an effort to compose himself. That's when he saw something that made him instantly and completely forget the whole Incident with the Grape. There, staring intently back at him, was Saxyguy.
Seth and Theo had their own private names for pretty much everyone who intersected their little world. There was the Oaf and the Hobbit, there was Velveeta Stretchmark and Unibrowboy. There was the girl whose name was the sign of holding three extended fingers up from the forehead to signify her impossibly large hair. These weren't people Seth and Theo knew, per se, just ones they saw all the time. These were people who deserved mention, but not real names. High school is rife with this kind of anonymous familiarity.
There were all sorts of reasons Seth and Theo wouldn't know Saxyguy's real name. He sat on the other side of a hundred-piece band, and in high school, friendship is synonymous with proximity. He was a senior and they were sophomores, which meant that, according to the Indisputable Laws of the Universe, they had nothing in common. And every Friday he wore a football jersey indicating he was on some kind of team (Theo suspected it meant he was on the football team, though he could not be entirely certain) and they were drama geeks. All these forces conspired to keep him nameless. He merited a nickname in Seth and Theo's world for one reason alone: he was stunningly gorgeous.
Tall, both lanky and muscular, he was Mediterranean in tone and Viking in stature. His medium-short brown hair was covered by an ever-present light blue and white UNC Tarheels cap. His wide, square, slightly dimpled chin could easily sport a beard if he didn't shave every day. He had a straight nose and deep brown eyes and when he played his sax his jaw muscles flexed in an enticingly evocative way. He dressed casually to the point of distraction -- one was left wishing the shirt were just a little more open, the pants just a little lower.
"86," Theo whispered, following Seth's gaze.
"Yeah, 99?" Seth responded, still caught in Saxyguy's stare.
"Don't tell me Saxyguy is checking you out!"
"Saxyguy is checking me out," Seth said, turning back to Theo with a knowing smile.
"I asked you not to tell me that," Theo said, finishing the routine.
EJ and Topher sat on Topher's front porch, tossing a ball back and forth and enjoying the last light of the September evening. The kid was way cute, EJ explained, and just his type. Little and blond. And he seemed like he was okay -- at least from a distance.
"He's a sophomore?" Topher asked, throwing EJ the ball.
"You're going to date a sophomore?"
"I'm not going to date him, guy," EJ said, rolling his eyes. "This isn't about dating. This is about fucking. I'm going to fuck him. Wasn't that the point? Fucking without the shit?"
"You know he likes getting fucked?"
"Pretty sure," EJ replied, throwing the ball back in a perfect, easy spiral.
"How do you know he wants to get fucked by you?"
"Oh, he wants me," EJ said laughing. "He's interested. And if he isn't, I can make him interested."
Topher pursed his lips, considered this answer for a few moments, nodded, and threw the ball back. Yeah, he probably could. EJ could get pretty much anyone to do pretty much anything.
"But why a fucking sophomore? I mean...what'll...what if...a fucking sophomore?" Topher did his best to articulate his concerns when he had them. He was not, however, always successful.
"Look, what are you worried about?" EJ said, putting the ball down and beginning a patient explanation. "He's younger. That's a good thing. That's a good thing for a whole bunch of reasons. You worried that people will give me shit for doing a sophomore? No one's going to give me shit. First of all, if they give me shit, I'd fucking kick their balls in -- or you would."
Topher nodded. That was true.
"Second, why would they give me shit? Because I'm with a sophomore? Its not like I'm going to be hanging out with him -- I tell you, dude, I just want someone to fuck regularly. It's not like he's coming to our parties, or anything."
Topher considered this second point, and, in his time, acceded to it as well.
"Besides," he added, "I was a sophomore when I started doing the Rabbit. He was a year older than me."
"Yeah," said Topher, "but a year ain't two years."
"Look," said EJ, trying to find the words that would sway his friend, "it's good that he's younger because...well, I just want this one to be easy, you know?" EJ let the thought hang unsaid between them. When he realized that Topher wasn't getting it, he sighed, resigning himself to having to say it out loud.
"If I find someone younger, I can turn him into what I want. I can teach him. I won't have to go through all the shit you went through with Lise."
"I got it," said Topher. Lise had, indeed, put him through a lot of shit.
EJ picked up the ball and tossed it back across the porch to Topher.
"What if you're wrong about him?" Topher asked, turning the ball in his grip. He tossed the ball back to his friend, who caught it and spun it, balancing it on his finger.
"I'm not wrong about him." He stopped the ball from spinning, held it vertex-up from the bottom in one hand and punched it back to Topher with the other hand as if he were place-kicking it. Topher caught the ball and put it down on the wooden decking of the porch before voicing his real concern.
"Won't...won't the Rabbit be really pissed off?" The question hung in the air with the cricket chirps as the boys read each other's faces for a few seconds.
"So what?" EJ finally said. "Rabbit ran. I'm over him."
EJ tried to look at Topher with new eyes. They had known each other practically from birth and had been best friends as far back as either of them could remember. Try as he might, though, he couldn't see his friend as he was without also seeing him as he had been. He couldn't see the small bump on the bridge of Topher's nose without also seeing what it looked like before it got broken in that scrimmage two years ago, the way it swelled to the point where his eyes shut while in the hospital as they waited for him to be seen, the way they made fun of him for weeks until his two black eyes faded, the way his nose used to be upturned and pug before he went through his growth spurt in middle school. He couldn't see Topher's coarse blond hair without also seeing his head shaved when their summer soccer league team won the title, the time they decided to grow it long and he ended up looking like a yellow Brillo pad, or the time that chick convinced him to cornrow it.
"What?" asked Topher, suddenly self-conscious.
"What?" echoed EJ, pulled from his thoughts.
"You're staring at me. Something wrong?"
EJ laughed. "No. Shit, man, we've been friends a long time, haven't we?"
"Yep," Topher replied, picking the ball back up off the decking and tossing it back. "A long time."
They no longer spent all of their time together like they used to. Topher was the most loyal, most dependable guy EJ had ever known and that was why they had stayed such good friends. If there was a war and they were fighting together, Topher would jump on the grenade to save him. But what Topher had in loyalty, in athletic prowess, in sportsmanship, in trustworthiness the really important qualities, EJ thought he lacked in the ability to concentrate on tough ideas. They were split apart in middle school as classes started becoming leveled; EJ was always put in honors classes, Topher some levels below.
At first, it was difficult for them. They both felt like EJ was being punished for something. But over time they both began to trust the fact that while EJ was really smart, that wasn't going to get in the way of his being a good guy. They also both began to understand that it would be EJ who would be the problem solver between them.
In the beginning, when a really difficult problem arose, Topher would make suggestions. EJ would entertain the idea seriously and they'd discuss the benefits and drawbacks of Topher's approach. Invariably, it was Topher himself who admitted it was probably a bad suggestion. EJ was never condescending about it, and Topher never felt like it was wrong for him to have made the suggestion in the first place. But after time, it started becoming clear that EJ always had the better ideas, and that if for no other reason than to save time, it made sense just to go directly to EJ's plans.
If you were to ask either of them if Topher was a follower, they'd both laugh at the suggestion. Topher was one of the strongest guys in school, was completely respected by the coaching staff and kids alike, and was enjoying his second year as varsity quarterback. Quarterbacks aren't followers. Quarterbacks are leaders. It wasn't that Topher followed EJ, they'd say. It was just that EJ could think through things faster. You don't put a 300 pound kid at wide receiver. If guarding is what the kid can do, you let him guard. Thinking was one of the things EJ could do real well, and so Topher let him.
So if EJ said he was over the Rabbit, he was over the Rabbit. And if EJ said that his doing a boy would be better, then his doing a boy would probably be better. It wasn't that Topher understood why, or trusted, even, that it was true. What he did trust was EJ.
"Anyway, I am over the Rabbit. Just like you're over Lise, right?" EJ asked, interpreting the silence that hung between them.
"Yeah, sure," said Topher in a voice that left his friend completely unconvinced. "Just like that."