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Note: Thanks to Tim and Rock for feedback on the draft chapters. I owe a special thanks to Robb for doing the final proofreading and catching all those silly little errors I missed.
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Finding out that Derek's grandfather had been my father's first love really blew me away. I don't remember much of the rest of that day. I know I went to work at Tarricone's, but I sure couldn't tell you anything about what happened there that day. I know I went home to Daddy and Scott, but again, I couldn't tell you what we talked about. I was sort of operating on autopilot.
Over the next couple of days I came to realize that the love Daddy and Derek's grandfather had shared some forty-eight years earlier was something that was a private affair between the two of them. Daddy had shared the secret with me only to let me know that he understood my being attracted to men.
It finally dawned on me that Daddy had to know that Derek was his former lover's grandson, and old Mr. Jackson had to know who my father was. It must be kind of awkward for Daddy to have Derek out at the house so much, and for Mr. Jackson to see me over at Derek's, yet neither had ever given any sign of discomfort around Derek or me. I admired their composure. I'm not sure I could be as calm as they seemed to be.
School started. It was hard to believe that we were high school seniors! At the start of freshman year graduation had seemed so far away. Now it seemed frighteningly close. I had to make certain I had top grades to improve my scholarship opportunities, and I had to figure out which college I wanted (or could afford) to attend. It was neck and neck between Derek and me as to which one of us would be class valedictorian.
While the academic leadership was undecided, Derek was the undisputed leader of our football team. He was the obvious choice for captain...so it really floored me when the coach announced that Derek and I were going to be co-captains.
I said something about it to Derek after our first game, which we won 49 to zip. We were up in my room stretched out on our beds in our boxer shorts shooting the breeze. I was also sort of checking him out since the fly of his boxers was gaping a little, and I could catch an occasional glimpse of his dick.
"You were the obvious choice for team captain this year, but I sure don't understand this whole co-captain bit."
Derek got up and came over to sit on the edge of my bed, something he'd done only rarely since I'd told him I was gay.
"Listen, white bread, you are every bit the leader of the team as I am. I may be a little flashier than you are, and I'm definitely better looking, but you're a leader, Brett. Don't you ever forget that. I'm proud to be your co-captain. Now you can just stop all that turning red in the face blushing bullshit."
"Do you think there were really some college scouts at the game tonight? Coach said something about it in the locker room."
"I heard that, too. PawPaw and Dad both told me that they wouldn't be surprised by it. Guess the state championship brought some attention to old Fenokachee County High School."
"I'll bet you get a bunch of scholarship offers."
"Bet you get some, too."
"I don't know about that. Besides, I'm not sure I want to play football in college. I'll need to make sure I get good grades if I'm going to get into a med school, and football would take a lot of time away from studying."
"When you get an offer, you need to take it. The scholarship would pay for your schooling, man. You can't pass that up. Hey, wouldn't it be neat if we ended up playing together on the same college team?"
"It would be, but I don't know if college football is the best place for a guy like me."
"You mean because of the gay thing?"
"Man, just be cool about it. How many people know you're gay? Just your dad, brother, and me, right?"
"I think so. You're the only ones I've ever told."
"Then just keep it that way, and you won't have any problems on a college team."
"Derek, think about this. You can go out on a date, man...I can't."
"I see your point. Still, it's a way for you to get most, if not all, of your college expenses paid for."
We won our game the next Friday night also. This one wasn't as much of a walk-away as the first game had been. We only won 28 to 7.
The third game was a little tougher. We won that one by just one touchdown. The score was 21 to 14.
Our fourth game was against our major rival. Even when they didn't have a good team, they were always up for the game with us. We expected it was going to be a tough one.
Thursday before the game, Derek and I had a test in our AP Calculus class that was taught by Mr. Langdon, who had become my favorite teacher. He was the one who had started the accelerated math program, so I'd had him for math all the way through high school. He was about an inch or two taller than me, making him six foot three or four, with a lanky basketball player's build. He had dark brown hair, a strong-featured face that just missed being handsome and clear blue eyes. It was his fifth year at the high school, so I figured that he was in his late twenties or there about.
Mr. Langdon was usually pretty talkative before class, but that day something was chewing on his shorts. He was almost scowling, and he passed out the exams without saying more than two words to anyone.
We found out the reason for his ill mood at the end of the period.
Mrs. Moore, the guidance counselor, came into the class just as Mr. Langdon collected the test papers. He then turned to face the class.
"Class, I'm sure you all could tell that I'm kind of upset today. Here's the reason. When I came into the room this morning, it was obvious that someone had been in here after I left last night. The lock on my desk drawer had been jimmied open, and one copy of the exam I'd prepared was missing."
The class was stunned.
"I made out a new exam this morning. I am very angry about this. I've contacted the principal, and he is investigating. If we find out who took that exam, I'll make certain that person is never in one of my classes again.
"While you have been taking the test, all of your lockers have been searched. Before you leave this room, Mrs. Moore and I will inspect your book bags.
Almost noiselessly we lined up to let Mr. Langdon and Mrs. Moore look into our book bags and backpacks as we filed out of the room.
As Derek and I were walking to the physics class for our next period, he remarked, "Man, I'd sure hate to be the one who took that test paper. When Langdon finds out who did it, they're going to be dead meat."
I had English right after physics. I'd just settled into my desk and was talking with one of the girls in the class when Mrs. Moore came into the room.
She walked over to me and said, "Mr. Privette, you need to come with me. Bring your books with you; I don't think you'll be back before the end of class."
Stunned, I gathered my things and followed her out of the room.
We walked toward the principal's office.
"Mrs. Moore what's this about? Is something wrong with my father? My brother?"
"You'll find out."
We walked into the school office.
Mrs. Moore indicated one of the chairs along the wall. "Sit there, and don't move."
"Mrs. Moore, am I in some kind of trouble? What's going on?"
"Don't play innocent with me, Brett. We found the missing test in your locker."
I only waited in the chair about fifteen minutes, but it was the longest fifteen minutes of my life.
Finally Daddy hurried into the office.
"Brett, what's this about a missing test?"
"Daddy, I don't know anything about it."
Just then the principal's door opened. Mr. Longworth, the principal, looked at Daddy and me over the tops of his half glasses and motioned for us to come into the room.
Mrs. Moore and Mr. Langdon were already in there. Mr. Langdon wouldn't look at me.
Mr. Longworth motioned for Daddy and me to take seats, then he began, "I trust you know why you're here, young man."
"No, sir, I don't."
"Oh, come on now, Brett. We found the missing calculus test in your locker. Why did you take it? Mr. Langdon tells me that you're the best student in his class. Have you done this before?"
"I didn't take that test. I wouldn't do that."
"Don't lie to us, Privette. We've got the proof."
"I didn't do it."
"Then how do you explain the copy of the exam in your locker?"
"I can't. I just know that I didn't take it." I was close to tears.
Mrs. Moore joined in, "Brett, do you realize what this will mean for you. By taking that exam, you have thrown away any hope you had of getting an athletic or academic scholarship. This is a black mark that will stay with you for the rest of your life."
"I didn't do it."
Mr. Longworth sneered at me, "I don't know what makes me angrier, Privette, the fact that you cheated, or the fact that when caught you have no remorse. You're suspended for two weeks. That means you will not be allowed to come to classes, nor will you be allowed to make up any work that you miss during the suspension. You may not be aware of this, but a student who is suspended cannot participate in any school sports. As of this moment, you're off the football team. I will not tolerate cheaters in this school. You may leave."
Daddy was on his feet, "My son said that he doesn't know anything about that exam. I believe him."
"Well, then you're the only one. This meeting is over. If the two of you are not off school property within the next five minutes, I'll call the police and have you charged with trespassing."
"Come on, Brett. We're leaving, Longworth, but you haven't heard the last of this. My son has never lied to me. When this is all settled, I hope you'll have the good manners to apologize. Think back to what happened in your senior year here at this same high school, Frankie."
I hadn't thought it possible, but Mr. Longworth was suddenly even redder in the face than he'd been before.
"You...you...you son of a bitch! Get out of my office!"
"My, my, Frankie. I didn't think you allowed foul language like that on school property. Didn't you get in trouble for doing that one time? I think that was when you were a junior, right?"
Mr. Longworth was now even redder. I was afraid the man was going to stroke out right there in front of us.
"Get out! Now!"
Daddy and I walked out with our heads held high. The school secretaries and two students who were in the outer office as we left just stared after us. I'm sure they'd heard most of the last words from Mr. Longworth's mouth. He had been shouting pretty loud at that point.
I held it together until we got into Daddy's car. Then I lost it.
I put my head in my hands and started crying. "What's going to happen?"
"I don't know for certain, son. Right now, you and I are going to go home. Then you're going to tell me everything that happened, and we'll work from there."
Daddy drove. I sat beside him thinking that my whole life had just gone down the tubes.
Daddy said he believed me that I didn't know anything about how the copy of the test had gotten in my locker. It looked like he was the only one.
(To be continued)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Some of the characters who play parts in this story were previously introduced in "When Love Comes" (last posted in the College section on Sept. 6, 2001), "Love of a Lifetime" (last posted in the College section on May 19, 2003), "Finding Family" (last posted in the College section on June 5, 2008), or "Construction Job" (last posted in the College section on July 24, 2008). While not necessary, readers may find it useful to read the earlier stories posted on this site. All of the Adams State/Carterville stories listed above as well as my other stories are also posted at www.crvboy.com.
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