Three Roads: Chapter 41: Please Excuse My Dear Ghost Sallie
Almost two months into the school year, the Pride Center had been a major success. Many queer students who had been looking for friends and acceptance somewhere on campus had found it through the various events that the Pride Center held. Even if they did not participate, students appreciated that they had a place not only where they could feel safe, but a place where they could be themselves. On this particular day however, very few people had come into the Pride Center. Normally, that would have upset Joey as his favorite part of everyday was interacting with the various students that came in. Today though, he didn't mind that there was only one other person in the center, especially because of who it was.
"So I was thinking maybe we should set this up for sometime after the Thanksgiving break but before Christmas," Chase started, "There usually aren't too many assignments during that time because people are finishing papers and studying for finals. We could do it on a Thursday night. Lots of people don't have Friday classes so they are more willing to come out for Thursday night events. Plus that will give us an opportunity to advertise over the next several weeks."
"Are you listening to me?"
"Yes, yes I am. Sorry I'm just tired. It's been a long week." Joey lied. He really had been staring at Chase's full red lips daydreaming about what it would be like to kiss them.
"We can do this later if you want."
"No, I'm good. Everything sounds great, but if we're doing it at night, where are we going to have it?"
"At the gym. I figure that if Dr. Taylor can't get it to us for free, our clubs can split the cost."
"Your club has money?"
"I didn't mean it like that," Joey backtracked, "I just wasn't aware of it is all."
"Funny, don't you guys blame Christians for that kind of thinking too?" Chase laughed, "I'm just kidding man, I don`t even know what that means."
Joey could feel his heart melting as he watched the object of his affection laugh, "He can make jokes."
"I think it's the first time you've made a joke. You're always very quiet and straight to the point."
"It's how I usually like to conduct business; that way there's no misunderstanding."
"I think it's amazing that you're not afraid to walk in here. There are so many straight guys that would rather die than come in here and be thought gay."
"I've never been one to be afraid of many things." Chase said looking in Joey's eyes.
"I'm sure there must be something. Even a good Christian athletic guy like you has to be afraid of something."
Joey noticed that the pencil that had just a few minutes ago been still in Chase's hand suddenly began to be twirled quite quickly between his fingers. Joey also noticed that suddenly he seemed to be obsessively interested in the piece of paper below him, "We're all afraid of something."
"What is it for you?"
"Going to hell." Chase said as he looked at Joey.
Joey laughed at what he thought was a joke, but abruptly stopped when he saw that Chase was not laughing, "Oh, you're serious."
"Of course I am."
There was a bit of an awkward pause between them before Chase cleared his throat and started to speak once again, "Anyway, I'm thinking five on five basketball, a mix of guys and girls, and we can have a couple of other people sitting on the benches who can come in and alternate."
"That sounds like a very good idea. I think that will be a lot of fun."
"What do the other members of your club think?" Joey asked.
"Doing this game with us."
"They're fine with it."
"Is it so hard to believe that we can practice our faith and also be fine with the gays...I mean queer community?"
Joey smiled, "You've learned."
"With everything going on in the world it's just rare to see I guess." Joey shrugged.
"Then that shows the sad state of things."
"Knock knock." Cooper said as he walked into the Pride Center.
"Hey," Joey smiled, "What's up?"
"Uhhh, tell me you didn't have me walk all the way over here for nothing," Cooper said, "I could be at home asleep!"
"Oh, right, we're supposed to hang."
"Yeah, you called me whining about not getting to spend enough time with me or something." Cooper smiled.
"Is this your boyfriend?" Chase asked.
"He wishes," Joey said. Cooper began to make gagging sounds like he was throwing up. Joey rolled his eyes and looked to Chase, "Besides he's in love with someone else."
Cooper immediately stopped and gave Joey a dirty look, "You must want to die tonight."
"I'm the one driving so you need to be nice to me. By the way, when are you getting your license? Don't you have egg rolls that need to be delivered somewhere?"
"I would ask you to teach me how to drive but I'm not sure you can see over the steering wheel."
Chase laughed, "You guys are really mean to each other."
"He knows I love him." Cooper said pursing his lips out as if he were going in for a kiss.
"I have to head out. I have to be to work in half an hour," Chase said as he stood, "We should meet up again."
"Sounds good." Joey smiled.
As soon as Chase left the room, Joey pretended to faint on his desk, "My god, he is sooo fuckin hot."
"He's not bad."
"Not bad?! He is just...words cannot describe."
"He's a little too big for me," Cooper said, "I wouldn't want to be with anyone that might be able to kick my ass."
"I thought you had skills." Joey teased.
"Oh, I do. But I'm a lover not a fighter."
"I wish he was gay." Joey said staring at the doorway just in case Chase walked by again.
"You know my motto the biggest guys are the biggest bottoms."
"So then how does that explain you being an insatiable bottom?"
"If I remember correctly, you were the one who was begging me to do it harder."
Joey smiled and closed his eyes, "Good times."
"So how is everything going with Mike?" Joey asked as they got out of the car and made their way to the Java City downtown.
"That's it? That's all I get?"
"What else do you want me to say?"
"You guys have been on two dates now, you know what the third date means...sex!" Joey smiled.
"We haven't done anything besides good night kisses." Cooper said as he held open the door for Joey. Joey had stopped moving and was now about two to three steps behind Cooper. Cooper turned around to see what was holding Joey up, "What?!"
"You guys have been on two dates and all you`ve gotten are two good night kisses?! What the hell is wrong with you?"
"They`ve been really good kisses." Cooper said defensively.
"You know ever since you became a love sick puppy dog over Eric who have really lost something."
"I swear I'm about to give you a roundhouse kick right to the face." Cooper said bouncing on the heels of his feet.
"Oh my God!" Joey whispered loudly as he crossed the threshold of the coffee shop, "Chase works here!"
"I didn't know that."
"I can't just go up there and order a hot chocolate! He'll think I'm a loser."
Cooper smiled, "You look so cute all riled up like that and you are a loser."
"Shut up, this isn't funny. You order first." Joey said as he began to push Cooper towards the counter. Chase looked up at smiled, "Cooper right?"
"Hi Joey." Chase said as he moved his head to bring Joey into his eyesight.
"Hi, I didn't know you worked here."
"Yeah, mainly on Friday nights and the weekends."
"Good to know."
"What can I get you guys?"
"I just want a white hot chocolate with whip cream." Cooper said.
"Ok," Chase said punching it in on the register, "And for you?"
"Umm...I think I'll go with my usual of an upside down caramel macchiato with a shot of espresso and a splash of green tea, vanilla, and hazelnut."
"Ok." Chase said not exactly sure how he was going to make that.
"Oh, And a rice crispy treat." Joey added. It was all Cooper could do not to burst out in laughter, but he held himself together so that he would not embarrass Joey.
"Hey, I got it for you right here." Chase said looking beyond both Cooper and Joey.
They turned around and Cooper smiled, "Kevin! What are you doing here?"
"Hey buddy. Not much, just picking up some coffee from my roomie here."
"Wait, your roomie?"
"Yeah, me and Chase here are roommates." Kevin said.
Cooper and Joey exchanged looks before Cooper turned back to Kevin, "You're shitting me?"
"No, why do you guys know each other?"
"No, but him and Joey do."
"What a small world," Kevin shrugged, "I'll catch you guys later."
"Wait wait wait," Cooper said, his right hand pausing in mid air, "How do you two know each other?"
"Didn't we meet in a class a few years back?" Chase asked his roommate as he handed Cooper his hot chocolate.
"Yeah, we did. And that's pretty much the story."
"I never remember you talking about a Chase before." Cooper said.
"Uhhh...why would I talk about him?"
"He's right," Joey said to Cooper after finally recovering from the somewhat awkward situation, "I certainly don't let people know me and you are friends unless there is a gun to my head."
Chase laughed and handed Joey his concoction, "Here's what you ordered...I think."
"Thanks." Joey said. He took one sniff of the drink and scrunched his nose. He was sure that he would be throwing this away as soon as he and Cooper left.
"Whatever," Cooper said throwing Joey a nasty look, "You can't stop thinking about this sexiness right here."
"Ok then," Kevin said throwing Chase an exasperated look that neither Joey or Cooper saw, "I got to run, but it was good seeing you Cooper. You too Joey, and I'll see you at home Chase."
"Wow, it really is a small world." Cooper said staring in the direction of the exit that Kevin had just gone through.
"You'd be surprised." Chase said as he wiped down the counter.
"I guess so."
"You want to sit for a little while?" Joey asked.
"Yeah, that's fine."
"Chase, we'll be in one of the booths if you need us." Joey said.
"Um ok." Chase said a bit confused.
"Don't you find it interesting that they live together?" Joey said excitedly as soon as he and Cooper sat down.
"I guess. I just didn't know they knew each other."
"No no not that. I mean Kevin's questionable right?"
Cooper knew that Joey was talking about Kevin`s sexuality, "Not if you ask him. To be honest, I don't know what to think, I don't want to think about it."
"I guess you'll find out soon enough." Joey smirked.
"What's that mean?"
"I just mean if he's still interested in getting his dick sucked he'll probably come running to you sooner or later."
"That's not happening anymore," Cooper said firmly, "It was great while it lasted I guess, but I'm passed that. Plus I have Mike and that's going well."
"Ok, anyway," Joey huffed not really believing Cooper, "Kevin at the very least doesn't mind getting some from a guy...you think him and Chase might have fooled around?"
"They interacted like they were roommates. I doubt it."
"It was only like 2 minutes!" Joey countered.
"Well you're the one trying to create a wet dream from all of this." Cooper smiled.
"All I'm saying is that it's not impossible."
"Now that is true."
"Hey," Toby said as he saw Cooper come into the living room, "Where have you been?"
"Hanging out with Joey. What are you guys watching?"
"Haunted houses." Eric said looking up at Cooper.
"Is our house featured?" Cooper smiled as he joined his roommates on the couch.
"That's not funny."
"It's Halloween time," Toby shrugged, "they always show these kind of programs.
The three boys watched as an early 30-ish mother of three and recently new mother recounted her experience with a ghost in her house, "I remember being so jealous when all of my friends would tell me how their houses were haunted by ghosts and I so wanted a ghost of my own and it was sort of neat at first."
"What a stupid bitch!" Cooper yelled at the television. Eric shushed him and they continued to listen. The announcer went on to tell the viewers how the situation had turned from a "pleasant haunting" to a more frightening one. When their new baby arrived, suddenly the ghost become violent and began attacking the husband whenever he'd go near the baby. The husband would be fine one minute, and then doubling over in pain the next. He had several unexplained scars on his abdomen and on his lower back that could not be explained. The camera panned in as the husband lifted up his shirt to show that there indeed were several scars that had been left over his body.
"This is insane." Toby said with his mouth open.
"Yeah, I wonder how she's liking that ghost now that it`s kicking her husband`s ass." Cooper laughed.
Through city records that were available to the public, the family found out that a little eight year old girl named Sallie had lived in the house over fifty years ago. Sadly she died under mysterious conditions just a few months after her family moved into the house.
"I guess she just wants to make sure my baby is ok." the woman said.
"This is so ridiculous," Eric started, "I'm not sure if I really believe this."
"Really?" Cooper said looking over at him.
"I have to agree with Eric," Toby said, "I mean I believe in spirits and angels and stuff, but this eight year old ghost is messing with a husband to protect a baby? It sounds like cheesy writing."
"I agree." Eric said.
"Hey, you never know; it could happen." Cooper said.
"I bet you had an imaginary friend when you were little huh?" Toby teased.
"Haha," Cooper yawned, "I don't think it's that far fetched."
"Well until I see it I don't believe it." Eric said turning off the television.
"Be careful what you wish for." Cooper said dramatically.
"What is Sallie going to come visit us?" Toby laughed.
"Sallie can come visit me as long as she doesn't wake me up," Cooper said as he walked with the boys into the hallway that held their various rooms, "cause then I will have to set it off."
"Good if she comes to visit tonight I'll tell her to stop by and see you." Eric said.
"That's fine." Cooper said as he stretched his arms above his head.
"You're a crackhead." Toby laughed, "Good night."
"Night." Both Eric and Cooper said in unison before closing their respective doors.
Toby tossed and turned wondering how long he had been asleep. He glanced at his alarm clock and saw 2:35 displayed across the face in bright red.
"You've got to be kidding me." He whispered to himself. He pulled back the covers and could feel the sweat dripping off his body. After a few more minutes of being severely uncomfortable, Toby jumped out of bed and grabbed his fan that had been sitting in the corner of his room for the past few weeks. The weather had started to slowly but surely change from summer to fall and he no longer needed the fan to be comfortable at night, tonight was different though. He plugged it in and turned to nozzle on the fan to its highest level. He breathed a sigh of relief as he felt the cool breeze from the fan hit his face. Little did he know that across the hallway that one of his roommates was also having a rough night.
Eric had always considered himself a light sleeper and it took him a few nights after moving into the new house to get used to the various sounds outside and that the house made. He hadn't had a problem in months, but tonight he would swear that he was continuously hearing sounds that he had never previously heard before. The latest noise had made him sit up in bed and look around just to be sure that no one was in his room. He thought about getting up to turn on his light, but the light switch was on the other side of the room and though he would never admit it, he wasn't all that eager and a little bit afraid to walk the distance in the dark. He tried to calm his nerves and even thought about saying a quick prayer, but he dismissed the idea. He was being silly and he needed to stop creeping himself out and just go back to sleep. He laid back down and tried to quiet his thoughts that seemed to be spinning out of control. He was able to do just that and right when it seemed he was on the brink of falling back to sleep, he heard a loud crash that he was sure was not created by his imagination. He grabbed his comforter and a pillow and as fast as he could ran out of his room. He ran into the living room and was surprised to find another set of sheets and a pillow on the couch. He turned towards the kitchen and saw that the light was on. He stood in the doorway to the kitchen and saw Toby in nothing but a pair of black boxer briefs gulping down a glass of water.
"Jesus!" Toby yelled turning around, "You scarred the shit out of me."
"Sorry," Eric said sincerely, "why are you awake?"
"I am so incredibly hot," Toby said looking at his own body, "I don't even sweat this much when I play tennis and look at me; I'm like drenched."
"It looks really uncomfortable."
"It is. Why are you awake?" Toby said in between glasses of water.
"Don't make fun of me, but I'm like really creeped out right now. I keep hearing all these weird noises like...something or someone was in my room. I thought it was just my imagination at first, but something got knocked over and I just couldn't take it anymore."
"That's strange...really strange. I'm sure I'm being stupid, but you don't think it has anything to do with what we were watching tonight do you?"
"What," Eric said, trying to think back to what they watched, "You don't mean the thing about the ghost do you?"
"Yeah," Toby hesitated, not really believing what he was about to say, "You don't think it could have been because of her do you?"
Eric laughed, "I doubt it."
"Both of us have experienced some really weird shit tonight. Why couldn't it be possible?"
"Cause...that's so dumb. Besides Cooper would be out here too."
"I bet it was that asshole." Toby said immediately.
"Now that I could believe." Eric said. Toby took one more swig of water and then motioned for Eric to follow him. They slowly crept through the living room and into the hallway. Toby pointed to the floor as they entered the wood hallway. Eric knew that he was referring to the spot in the hallway that made the floorboard creek so Eric was sure to avoid it as they made their way to Cooper's room. Toby quietly put his hand over the doorknob and held up one finger, then two, and then they both bolted into the room. It took a few moments for their eyes to adjust to the darkness, but it was clear to see that Cooper was asleep and by the looks of it he had been asleep for quite a while.
"Alright then." Eric said as they closed Cooper's door again.
"Do you want to go see what fell in your room?"
"Uhh..."Eric said as he glanced at his room door, "No. We can wait until sunlight."
"Ok," Toby tried to shrug nonchalantly but he was glad that he wouldn't have to accompany Eric to his room.
Around noon the next morning, Cooper strolled out of his bedroom wide awake and in a good mood. He could hear that the television was on in the living room and decided to go see what his roommates were up to.
"Morning chicos." Cooper said as he sprawled out on the floor.
"Hi Cooper." Eric said suspiciously.
"Yeah, hi Cooper." Toby said in the same tone.
"How did you sleep last night?" Toby asked as if he already knew the answer.
"Fine...how did you guys sleep?"
"Not good." Eric said crossing his arms.
"Well it's not my fault if you guys toss and turn all night because you can't stop thinking of me."
"Right." Eric said.
"Seriously man be honest," Toby started, "did you play any practical jokes on us last night."
"No, honest. I swear on my dick." Cooper said grabbing his crotch over his boxers.
Eric rolled his eyes, "As ridiculous as that just was, I actually believe him."
"So do I."
"What exactly happened?"
Toby and Eric recounted their stories and their uncomfortable night. Cooper's smile got wider as he listened to them talk until finally Toby stopped mid sentence and asked, "What the hell is so funny?"
"You guys were denying Sallie's existence and it looks like she came and proved it to you guys."
"Who the hell is Sallie?" Eric asked confused.
"The ghost from the show last night." Toby said.
"You're an idiot." Eric said to Cooper.
"All I know is I slept good as always and the two people who said they didn't believe in ghosts or that Sallie wasn't real had a horrible night. I suck ass at math, but I can still put two and two together."
"Whatever." Eric smirked.
"Yeah, bullshit." Toby said crossing his arms.
"I'd change my attitude if I were you two," Cooper said heading towards the kitchen, "You don't want to end up sleep deprived and crazy like Mariah Carey."
"After you." Tim said as he held open the door for Brian.
"I love this place." Tim said as he deeply inhaled the air around him.
"It's just an ice cream shop." Brian said looking around trying to figure out what Tim liked about it so much.
"Why does everyone say that? Have you no imagination either?"
"It's my dream to own this place one day. It's just so beautiful." Tim said taking in the shop.
"Are we going to get ice cream or what?" Brian said a bit impatiently.
"Ok, so I ask for forgiveness in advance, but we're not her to buy ice cream." Tim said.
"That's what you said when you called me."
"I know," Tim said defensively, "but we are really here to get me a job."
"So all that stuff about spending time with me wasn't true?" Brian asked a little hurt.
"No no it was...it's just that we can kill two birds with one stone by doing it this way."
"I'm sure...but why did you bring along to help you get a job here?"
"Because you're here for moral support. Plus, I think Jon works here and I might need you to restrain me from leaping over the counter and strangling him when I ask for an application."
"Shouldn't being on parole be enough of a deterrent?" Brian said looking at Tim sternly.
"See this is why I have you around; you're my sanity." Tim said patting his friend on the shoulder.
"Hi," Tim said as he approached the counter. He smiled widely at the teenage girl behind the counter and was relieved not to find Jon anywhere in sight, "Do you guys have any applications?"
"We do," the girl said as she looked behind her, "I don't know where they went. Let me ask the manager ok?"
"Sure that'd be great."
"I really want some ice cream you promised." Brian said mimicking the voice of a little girl.
Tim turned around and smiled, "I almost forgot you can do voices. You really should make money doing that."
"You're right. What the hell am I doing in college?" Brian said in his normal voice.
"Be thankful some of us don't have that option." Tim said seriously.
"Well that's what happens when you break the law." Jon said from behind them.
Tim closed his eyes tightly in trying to get his composure, "Are you the manager Jon?" Tim asked already knowing what the answer will be.
"You better believe it. Unfortunately, since I'm on the clock I have to be nice to you, but for the record I still don't like you very much."
"Believe me that's fine."
"So why are you here?"
"I wanted to know if there were any job openings?" Tim said.
"Sure there are, would you like an application?"
"Look I'll be straight with you," Jon said, "We really need someone to work mornings. Most of the students can't because they have classes or they want to be able to recover from their late night hangovers. So if working from like nine to three with two days off a week at $9.50 an hour sounds good to you, we can schedule an interview for tomorrow."
"Would the two days off be weekends?"
"Sometimes, but the two days off would most likely change every week."
"Hmmm...would you be the one conducting the interview?" Tim asked skeptically.
"It depends, but come on; I may think you're not worth the space you take up, but that doesn't mean I can't be fair." Jon said with the slightest hint of a smile forming at the corners of his mouth.
"I guess if I got the job, I could always sue for harassment or something if you get on my nerves enough." Tim said returning the same amused expression.
"Go ahead...you and the justice system are friends anyway right?"
"Ok look," Tim started. Brian stepped up quickly to Tim and whispered in his ear, "You're on parole and you need this job."
The wide smile returned to Tim's face, "Thanks for the application and yes I'm interested."
"Ok, cool. The store manager will be here tomorrow from noon to four, come between then and I can introduce you and we can do an interview."
"Thanks, you've actually been very helpful." Tim said surprised.
"It'll be nice to boss you around. Have a good day!" Jon smiled before disappearing behind the double doors.
"What an asshole!" Tim yelled.
"He is sorting of giving you a job." Brian reminded him.
"So what he's still a jerk face."
"You better get all of that out of your vocabulary because if you get this job you have to be nice to him or he'll fire you. Oh and buy me ice cream!"
"Damn, what took you so long?" Melinda yelled as soon as she opened the door.
"Patience is a virtue." Richard smiled as he walked into her apartment.
"Well my time is important; I'm skipping class for this."
"Are you really?"
Melinda laughed, "I was going to skip class anyway, but this gave me a good excuse."
"Nothing is more important than education."
"I disagree." Melinda said as she removed her robe.
Richard could feel himself getting aroused though it seemed decidedly different from if he were seeing a guy naked.
Melinda motioned with her finger for Richard to come near her. He hesitated for just a moment before taking a deep breath and walking towards her, "Here goes nothing." he thought.