|Far From Home|
Authors Note: Standard disclaimers apply here... If it illegal to read about homosexuals and any physical expression thereof, then go away (though there isn't any sex yet... so if that is what you are looking for, then it might be best to move on). This is my first time writing fiction, and I appreciate feedback.
from last time...
"So Charlie," Sam said, breaking the silence, "It's `later'. Have you given any thought to what you're going to do next semester?"
"Well, I already know that I don't want to go back to Penn. But that is about all I know."
"Lucky for you that we've been giving this more thought." She looked at me with a devious smile. "How's this for a plan: We're going back on the 3rd, which is a Sunday. On the fourth, you and I are going to Drive to Penn and fill up the Suburban with all your stuff from your dorm room. Then we're going to withdraw you from classes and do any other paperwork to get you out of there. Then we'll drive back on Tuesday or Wednesday. We'll go by your house and pick up any of your stuff you need and then you come live with me in Atlanta.
"Its too late to get in this semester to Tech, but you can go ahead and get the paperwork started to go in the Fall. You can live with Stacey and I. We've got two extra bedrooms in our house that neither of us want to fill because we haven't had good luck with other roommates.
"I even got Stacey to check with her boyfriend's company and they have a few positions that sound like they would be perfect for you."
In case you haven't figured it out by this point, Sam doesn't play around.
So there you have it. The next little bit of my life decided by three moderately stoned people on the back porch of a house just outside of Nowheresville, TN.
The next several days breezed by. The sun came out and the snow and ice melted. Seth had to leave earlier than we did, so we followed him and his rental car to Nashville so we could see him off.
We waited at the gate until it was time for him to go. As they announced the boarding of his flight, he got up to give everyone a hug. I was last in the line.
"Thanks Seth," I told him.
"No problem kid. You know you can call me if you ever need anythingor just to talk." He ruffled my hair and left to board his plane.
We had dinner in Nashville before returning to Jones Valley. Just a few short days later it was time for us to make our departure. I thanked Sam's grandparents profusely for their hospitality.
"Charlie, its not hospitality when its family," said Sam's Grandma. "It's called love. Your welcome back here anytime. Perhaps when you move to Atlanta you can convince our granddaughter to visit us more often."
And with that, we left Tennessee. We pulled into town just after dusk. I would be lying if I said I didn't have butterflies as we passed my neighborhood. We pulled into Sam's house and unpacked the Suburban.
"Sam, go upstairs and make sure that Charlie's room has everything it needs." That's why I loved Sam's mom. It wasn't the guest room... it had become my room already.
Sam and I monopolized the washing machine for the next several hourswe were leaving for Pennsylvania the next day and I had no clean clothes... remember that I only had the contents of my suitcase with me. We finally got to bed around 2 a.m.
So it came as a big shock to me when Sam was jumping on my bed at 7 a.m. the next morning. God how I hate morning people. I sat up in my bed and began spewing obscenities like Linda Blair in the Exorcist. Sam got the idea. She returned five minutes later with coffee. I could now face the world.
"Now get your ass out of bed. I want you to take me out to lunch once we get to Phili."
Thankfully Sam drove yet again. Perhaps "pilot" would be a better word than "drive" when referring to Suburbans. Maybe one "guides" the Suburban where you want it to go. "I don't see how you drive this thing, it is absolutely massive."
"You just have to get used to it Charlie. It's a lot bigger than your car." True... My Subaru was pretty small.
"Hey, the Impreza may be small, but it is quite nimble, and can outmaneuver this Barcalounger on Wheels.... But then again, the Titanic could probably outmaneuver this boat."
"Good, but I think that in a crash, we'd fare better than the Titanic. I think the other car would just bounce off us. Either that or we'd run over it."
We made it to Philadelphia in record time. I think it had something to do with inertia. Once you get something as big as a Suburban moving, it doesn't want to stop.
I treated Sam to a cheese steak at my favourite greasy spoon. After lunch we did all of the typical tourist traps, like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. We then headed to my dorm.
We got some empty boxes out of the back of the Suburban and made our way to the side entrance. I slid my access card through the reader and we were buzzed in. We climbed the stairs to my room on the third floor. I put my key in the lock and jiggled the handle to open the door.
"I guess Justin is still at work." My roommate waited tables at a local restaurant. He was working through Christmas break to save money for spring vacation.
"Did you ever call him and let him know you're moving out?" questioned Sam.
"No, I forgot. I'm sure I'll see him tonight though."
"Let's go ahead and get some of the big stuff down first before we start packing," suggested Sam.
"Yeah. Let's get my computer." I picked up my computer and a bag of cords and software. Sam grabbed my monitor and we made our way to the stairwell.
The stairs proved to be a bad choice. An errant shoelace got in the way and I tripped. I toppled down a few stairs and dropped everything I had. I caught myself against the railing but my computer wasn't so lucky.
"Charlie!" Sam yelled. "Are you alright?"
I hurt. I really did. But I think I was probably okay. "Nothing broken, but I bumped my head and the rest I can probably walk off." I looked at my computer in pieces on the landing below me. "I don't think my PC fared so well."
Sam put the monitor down and went with me to inspect the damage. "Can you fix it?"
"No, the motherboard is cracked and the hard drive looks like it has seen better days. I can scavenge a few parts though."
"I'm sorry Charlie," said Sam in her most consoling of voices.
"No, its okay. I had everything important saved on zip disks, and I had upgraded this piece of junk as far as it could go. I want to get a Mac anyway. Let's get this cleaned up." We took the majority of my computer to the dumpster and loaded the monitor in the car. On the way back up we ran into Justin on the stairwell.
"Dude, someone broke into our room. They took your computer!" he exclaimed.
It was at this point that Sam began laughing hysterically. I quickly scolded her. "Don't worry Justin, that was us. I'm moving out." He got a peculiar look on his face when I said that. I stared at him for a second before Sam butted past me.
"Hey Justin, I'm Samantha, Charlie's friend from home."
"Oh... uh... Hey. Um... listen, I was going to run to the 7-11 for some cigarettes and a coke, can I bring you back anything?"
"Yeah, get us a couple of Cokes." I said. I went for my wallet when he brushed me off.
"Don't worry about it Charlie. I'll be back in a few minutes." Justin quickly darted past us and headed out the door. We walked back to my room and Sam closed the door behind us.
"Someone's got a crush on my little Charlie!"
"What? Sam will you"
"Oh open your eyes Charlie, he is so gay. Did you see the look he gave you when you told him you were moving out? Its like someone licked all the red off his candy." She paused, "Are you sure you've never licked his candy?"
I turned ten shades of red. "Sam! Don't be so crass. He is not gay. He played high school football for pete's sake. He's from Alabama. They don't make gay people in Alabama. He's too... well... too NOT GAY."
"I'll prove it to you." She walked over to his CD collection. "Okay, I count one, two, three, four Madonna CDs... and oh! What's this? Pet Shop Boys?" She smirked at me. "Charlie, he is certifiably pink."
"Will you get off it and help me pack?"
We emptied drawers and cleaned shelves, and in a few minutes, Justin reappeared with refreshments.
"So Justin, said Sam. "Tell me a little about yourself." I shot Sam a look that could have frozen Lake Erie.
"Um... I'm from a small town in Alabama"
"Really, where?" Sam interrupted.
"Anniston. It's a little less than two hours from Atlanta. I wait tables at an Italian restaurant in town, and I'm an engineering major."
"And how long have you liked boys?" I've known this girl a long time. There is just no trying to control her. Leos are like that. They will do their own thing, whether you like it or not. Apparently she viewed being pushed out of the closet as therapeutic.
"Sam!" I looked over at Justin, who had a "deer in headlights" look on his face. "Justin, I'm sorry. Don't pay her any attention." I went to pull her away but she moved away from me and sat next to Justin on his bed.
"Never told anyone before have ya?" Justin dumbly nodded, still too shocked to speak. "Well have I got a story for you! My senior year of high school... I'm on the roof of the finest hotel in town after the prom. Charlie and I are sipping on wine, and then this dork asks me why we were always good friends and never went out. I looked him straight in the facemind you, I was a little tipsy at this pointbut I looked at him straight in the face and said, `Cause you like boys.'"
"You should have seen the wine shoot through his nose. It was truly a sight to behold. He took off and hid in a Janitor's closet. It took me fifteen minutes to find him. It was choice." She was almost cackling by this point.
I glared at her. "And, I would think you might have learned a little tact in that time, but I can see that I'm wrong."
Justin's mouth was hanging open. He just looked at me, then back at Sam, then back at me.
"Justin boy! Close your mouth or you'll catch flies," said Sam.
"Sam! Jesus, will you lay off? Justin, I'm sorry. Had I known..."
"No, um... that's okay I guess." He was quite nervous. "I've known for a while but I've never told anyone before. It's just a little weird. So you're...?"
"Oh." He looked a little sad. "But why are you moving out then?"
"Well, I sort of let the cat out of the bag with my parents andwell I'm not living with them anymore."
"But they don't pay for your school, do they? I thought you had a trust fund set aside for that."
"Oh, no. That's not the problem. I can still afford school, but this whole thing has given me a chance to step back from it all and reassess my life. I'm not really happy here, and I don't really have anywhere else to go, so I'm moving to Atlanta with Sam. I'm going to enroll at Georgia Tech next fall."
"Oh..." He looked a little crestfallen. "It would figure that the only person who knows I'm gay is moving away!"
"Don't worry Justin," said Sam. "You can come visit us in Atlanta next time you go home." He perked up a little at the mention of that.
"You guys need help packing?"
"Definitely," I declared.
We were done in a few hours. We loaded most of it in the car and decided to get the rest later. "Justin, we're going to head to the Hotel, we'll call you tomorrow, okay?"
"Yeah Charlie, no problem. Are you all leaving tomorrow?"
"Nope, the day after."
"Cool. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
We walked out to the Suburban. Sam's mother had apparently managed to get us a suite at the Westin in downtown Philadelphia. She wanted her kids traveling in style apparently. My mom would have been more partial to the Comfort Innand that is only if she was feeling ritzy.
"Remind me to thank your mother for the opulent accommodations," I said. "Linda would have never sprung for something like this." Somehow it seemed appropriate to refer to my parents by their first names. Sam's parents were more like "mom" and "dad" to me now.
"Are you sure you wouldn't rather be staying with Justin tonight," she teased.
"Oh come on Charlie. He has a thing for you. You have to be blind not to see it. He's kinda cute too."
"I guess, in an oafish kind of way."
"What does that mean?" Sam questioned.
"He towers half a foot over me!"
"Charlie, you're only 5'7". I tower over you. Most of the free world towers over you." That earned her a pillow in the face. "They grow `em big in Alabama I guess."
"Enough! I'm going to my room to get some sleep. I'll see you tomorrow."
Sam and I spent the following morning running around campus filling out paperwork and meeting with advisors. By noon it was official: I was a college dropout.
Justin managed to get the day off work, so we met up with him for lunch. We actually ended up hanging out most of the day. I felt like I was finally getting to know the person who I'd shared a room with for the entire semester. Leave it to me to make a friend on my last day at Penn.
We invited Justin out to dinner as well but he declined, advising that he wasn't feeling well. I was kind of disappointed that he didn't come with us, and the ever-observant Samantha picked up on it.
"He's a nice guy Charlie."
"Yeah. He is."
"Cute too." She got a devilish look in her eyes.
"Sam, stop it. He was my roommate." She stared me in the eye for what seemed like an eternity. Finally I relented. "OKAY OKAY, so he is kind of cute." I paused for a laugh. "Its funny how getting to know someone makes them more..."
"Yeah..." I stared off into space.
"Okay, get that dreamyness out of your eyes mister, your dinner is getting cold."
The alarm buzzed far too early the next morning, but I had to get up. We were headed back to Virginia this afternoon. On our way out of town we stopped by my dorm to pick up the last of my things. Justin had apparently just gotten out of the shower and put on his uniform.
"I thought y'all had left without saying goodbye," he said.
"We wouldn't do that Justin. Oh! I need to give you my address in Atlanta so you can come visit Charlie and I when you head down our way." There was a flurry of DayRunners and Palm Pilots as addresses and phone numbers were swapped. I let Sam handle all of that because I knew I'd misplace it. I was never one to carry an organizer anywayI'd lose it too easily.
"Justin, it was so nice to meet you, and I was serious about visiting." She shook his hand and gave him a peck on the cheek. "Charlie, I'm going to go start the car. Hurry up." And with that she was out the door.
What followed can only be described as an awkward silence. "Um, well, I guess I had better get going." I managed to say.
"Yeah. Oh, don't forget your book bag."
"Oh, yeah. Thanks." I slung my book bag over my shoulder. I started to walk towards the door. I had gotten my hand on the knob when I heard Justin call me.
"Hey Charlie?" I turned around and saw him standing there. And then it happened.
He kissed me. Justin Delaney kissed me.
And I kissed him back.
I guess I could be all cheesy here and say something like "It was the kiss to end all kisses," or "If I never kissed anyone again I would still be happy." I'm not quite that sappy.
But I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy it. I felt a bit of tingling in my toes truth be told. It was quite a kiss, and it did leave me a bit dumbfounded.
He broke the kiss and moved away from me a bit. "I've always wanted to do that. Have a safe trip back to Virginia." He smiled at me and opened the door.
I don't really remember walking back to the car, but I suppose I must have given the fact that I was sitting in the passenger seat next to Sam. "Charlie... Charlie... HELLO?" She nudged me a little and I came back to the planet Earth.
"He kissed me," was all I managed to say.
"I wondered if he was gong to get up the nerve. He talked about you every time you were out of earshot yesterday. I told him to go for it." She had a look of accomplishment on her face. "So...?"
"I'm just shocked. I mean, it is a little weird having your roommate slip you some tongue, you know?"
"Come on. We had better hit the road. We've got things to do once we get home." She put the Suburban in drive and we were back in Virginia by dinnertime.
Again, no big cliffhanger this time... but I'm really happy with this one. It would have been out sooner, but a friend was making revisions for me and he kept it longer than he was supposed to... so blame him for the delay--just kidding... he did me a favour and I really appreciate it.
I've got about 10 different directions that things can go now... I've got an idea of where the next 2 chapters are headed, but beyond there, who knows?
Thanks SO MUCH to all the people who have emailed me. I really appreciate hearing feedback from those of you who take the time to read the story. Also, check out the website for more info on the story. Hope to hear from you soon...