Three Roads Chapter 50: Visitors
Richard continued to hammer, the noise bouncing off into the early morning air. He gave a loud grunt for good measure to make sure it was in all the way. He stepped back, joining Bliss a few feet away, as they both admired his work, "What do you think?" he asked smiling.
"They look great."
"I still think we should re-do yours."
"No, it's good the way it is." Bliss once again admired the large poster that had been stapled onto the wooden stake that Richard had driven mercilessly into the ground. She was in a gray business suit, her thumb and her pointer finger resting on a pair of glasses that to only the keenest observer would reveal had no lenses in them. She was sitting on top of a desk with a slight smile on her face. Some would think she was trying to be seductive and others would think that she was trying to show that she was indeed an intelligent and attractive woman, others would ignore it all together simply because of the small symbol located in the lower right corner of the poster.
"I like yours a lot," she said playfully bumping Richard in the shoulder, "You look really hot."
Richard appraised the poster of himself. He was in a grayish blue collared shirt with a matching tie and a pair of black slacks. His arms were crossed and he had an inquisitive look on his face as if to say, What's out there?
"I'm not trying to look hot, I'm trying to look strong...but approachable."
"Mmmm...you look like those things too, but the first thing that comes to mind is hot."
Richard shrugged and his gaze went down to the lower right hand corner of his sign where a small, but noticeable rainbow stood.
"You think it's too much?" Richard asked.
"Not at all. I think it's important for students to know that there are gay and gay friendly students on campus who want to make sure all students get the services they need, including the queer ones."
"Wow," Richard said looking at Bliss surprised, "That was really good."
"I know this is important to you, so I've been practicing, but I also really believe it. Do you really think we can win though?"
"Yes," Richard said immediately, "I do."
"Well lookie here." A voice said from behind them. Both turned to see Melinda standing behind them, her arms were crossed and she looked at the two in front of her with an accusing look.
"Hey Melinda." Richard said a little nervous, not sure how she and Bliss were going to respond to each other, "What are you doing on campus so early?"
"Just scouting out the competition." She said throwing Bliss a nasty look.
"What competition would that be? Skankiest slut at Sunnydale!" Bliss yelled.
"You are so lucky that I am a lady or I would have to cut you right here on campus."
"Are you guys still fighting?" Richard asked.
"No, we're just not speaking to each other," Melinda started, "If it was a fight there'd only be two hits. Me hittin her..."
"And then the silicon in your fake breasts exploding." Bliss said. It took all of Richard's self control to keep from laughing, but he knew he'd probably be in mortal danger if he did. He decided to try and steer the conversation elsewhere.
"You said scouting out the competition are you running for office too?"
"I sure am." Melinda smiled.
"Well you can forget being vice President cause I'm winning that." Bliss said proudly.
Melinda laughed, "Vice President? I got bigger fish to fry. I'm running for President."
"With who? Richard asked.
"You don't know him, but you can best believe come the end of the school year, you'll know him as your Vice President."
"We'll see about that." Bliss said staring back at Melinda.
"I guess we will."
"Where are your posters?" Richard asked curiously, "Almost every other candidate has their's up. You're already behind."
"Uh, my posters are all over campus. I didn't want to waste my time putting them here. The residence halls aren't important."
"There's a thousand people over here." Richard reminded her.
"Yeah and none of them ever do anything worthwhile."
"I'm running so that's changing." Richard said confidently.
"We'll see about that." Melinda said as she walked away.
Tim could hear the knocking, that seemed to be more and more insistent, and he was hoping it would go away so that he wouldn't have to climb out of bed. When he was sure that the knocking wasn't going to stop, he climbed out of bed and cursed all the way to the door. He opened it and saw a smiling Jack standing in front of him, "What?"
"That's not a nice way to greet someone. Especially when I have housewarming gifts." Jack said as he fished through his backpack. He pulled out a small box and handed it over to Tim, "it's a matching salt and pepper shaker. I figured you didn't have one."
"That's very nice of you." Tim said still trying to clear the morning cobwebs, "Wait a minute what time is it?"
"Why aren't you at school?"
"You always ask me that." Jack said a little offended.
"That's cause you never seem to be in school."
"I'm a senior in high school. I can do whatever I want...so who's that in your bed?"
"Yes there is. I can see them."
"It's just Jon. We drank a little and he was too drunk to go home so he slept over."
"And he had to sleep in your bed?"
"In case you haven't noticed I don't have much space here. Where else was he going to sleep? Why am I defending myself to you anyway? We're not together and I have a hangover."
"Can I come in?" Jack asked abruptly.
"No. Another time."
"Fine...well...I guess I'll just go then."
Despite the hangover, Tim began to feel bad over the way he had treated Jack so far. Despite his immaturity and flare for the dramatic, Tim did like the boy, "Hey Jack?"
"Yeah?" he said turning around, hopeful that Tim would let him in.
"Why don't you call me tonight and we can arrange for a time when you can come over."
Jack smiled widely, "Ok, will do."
"Knock kno...oh...sorry, I thought you were someone else." Chase blushed.
"Who were you lookin for?" Richard asked, assuming that this were a closeted student who had "accidentally" stumbled upon the Pride Center.
"He doesn't usually work this early in the morning, but I can let him know you stopped by. What was your name?"
Richard smiled. He remembered the conversation that he, Joey, and the rest of their friends had regarding Chase at Toby's party, "Oh yeah, he's mentioned you a few times."
Chase smiled and got a warm feeling inside, "Hopefully, only the good stuff."
"I'd say it was more interesting than anything else. He said that you were the leader of one of the Christian clubs on campus."
"That's kind of cool."
"Really?" Chase asked skeptically.
"I'm not a big fan of religion myself, but it has it's good points."
"Why aren't you a big fan of religion?" Chase said sitting down.
Richard smiled, "Where do I began? I think it's hypocritical. Plus, with me being gay and all they seem to be two polar opposites."
"Lots of people seem to feel that way."
"I can't imagine why." Richard said sarcastically, "I remember you now. You're the guy who called Joey a faggot that day."
Chase immediately became defensive, "He said some pretty shitty stuff to me too."
"That doesn't make it right."
"I know that's why I apologized to him. I don't owe anyone else an apology."
"I guess we all deserve a second chance."
"Hey," Richard began, following a random thought that just popped into his head, "You plan on voting in the school elections?"
"I never do."
"If I knew who to vote for I probably would."
Richard smiled. That's exactly what he wanted to hear, "You should vote for me."
"I've been set up." Chase laughed.
"A little bit, but you should hear me out."
"Ok, what you got?"
"God, this shit is so good." Cooper said as he bit into his Chipotle burrito.
"Remember back when you said you wouldn't like this place?" Eric asked.
"No, I think it was more like, `I don't like Mexican food. I don't want to go there.'" Toby said in a very high pitched voice.
"I only sound like that when I get fucked." Cooper said.
"Does he?" Toby said looking at Eric.
Eric blushed and looked at his burrito as if it were the most interesting thing in the world, "I wouldn't know."
"I didn't think you guys had had sex yet. I probably would have heard it."
"And been jacking off to it while you listen to us through the walls." Cooper winked.
"Ok, let's talk about something else." Eric said.
Toby laughed, "Is this making you uncomfortable?"
"Because sex is private and should be between the two people."
"Bullshit! We're all friends. I had sex with Richard on my birthday."
"We already knew that." Cooper said nonchalantly.
Toby was a little disappointed. He had hoped this would come as a bigger shock to both of his friends, but they both looked like he had said the most causal thing in the world, "How did you guys know?"
"You mentioned it every thirty seconds at the club." Eric said.
Toby smiled, "Was I that drunk?"
"You even grabbed my ass a few times." Cooper said taking another big bite.
"Liar. I could never be that drunk."
"You did...cause you grabbed mine too." Eric said, again looking down at his burrito.
"Did I really? Damn...I don't even remember it."
"You're lucky I have to live with you or I would have had to open up a can of whoop ass over you touching my man." Cooper said.
"So..." Eric said loudly, "Are Richard and you starting up again?"
"Let's hope not." Cooper said.
"What does that mean?" Toby said crossing his arms.
"Come on, you and Richard are fine when you're not together, but as soon as you guys get together it becomes this massive bitch fight and you guys are just unhappy, but too stupid to break up with each other. And worst of all we have to listen to you guys fight endlessly...God this burrito is fuckin orgasmic!" Cooper said as he bit into it again.
Toby stared at Cooper with slight contempt before turning to Eric, "I don't think so. I mean we're a little confused."
"I don't know...Plus there's Brian, he's always around."
"He's just trying to be friendly." Eric said.
"Oh, I'm sure."
"Is that why you slept with Richard?" Cooper asked, "As a message to Brian?"
"No. I did it mostly because I really just couldn't imagine not having some kind of sex on my birthday and I told Richard that. But the whole sending a message was an added bonus for sure."
"I would think if Richard wanted Brian he would have made a move by now." Eric said.
Toby shook his head, "You don't know him like I do. He did the same thing he's doing with Brian that he did with me when we first met."
"What is that exactly?" Eric asked curiously.
"Another time. I don't feel like going down memory lane."
"Yeah, and I don't feel like vomiting while you recall memories." Cooper said.
"You're being an asshole today." Toby said.
"No, it's more like I'm reverting back to my old self. The honeymoon period is pretty much over for me and Eric and he's still here, which means I can go back to settin people straight."
"Uh...ok." Eric said.
"It's good news for you too," Cooper smiled as he looked at Eric.
"Oh, you'll see."
The following night, Chase found himself in the center of the noisy Sunnydale University Union. Students were laughing loudly, others were huddled together gossiping about the people walking by, but Chase was using the time before his weekly Christian club meeting to catch up on some studying. Like most students, Chase always had a hard time focusing when it was time to study, but once he was focused, he was able to block everything else out and focus on the task at hand, which is why he didn't notice Jon approaching him.
Jon moved back the seat opposite Chase and dropped his backpack to the right of his chair. Chase looked up at him and wasn't sure what to do or say. Jon situated himself and for a moment Chase thought he was crazy, because Jon was behaving as if he hadn't noticed Chase sitting there.
"Uhh...Can I help you?"
"No, you can't."
"I'm Jon." Jon said extending his hand.
"Chase." Chase put out his hand reluctantly, "Did we have a class together or something, cause I really don't think I know you."
"Oh, you don't."
"I'm really confused."
"It's ok." Jon said as he searched his backpack. Chase looked down nervously, afraid of what Jon might pull out, "Do you want the rest of my trail mix?" Jon asked innocently.
"No, I'm good." Chase said now contemplating if he should just get up and walk away, but Jon beat him to it.
"Ok," Jon said throwing the bag holding the trail mix back into his backpack, "It was nice talking to you.
Chase watched Jon walk into one of the many study rooms located on the first floor and had half the mind to follow him just to try and figure out what had just happened. He shrugged and closed his book, knowing that he would not be able to continue studying and he decided to head to his meeting a little early.
"You're back already?" Joey whispered loudly when he saw Jon walk back into the room.
"Yep, that's how good I am."
"He's gay and he's got an eight inch dick."
Joey looked at him in amazement, "How can you do that?"
Jon shrugged, "Some of us are just blessed."
"So he's gay huh?"
"Yep. I'd actually bet that if you just talked to him, he'd tell you, fairly easily."
"You think so?"
"I know so."
"What makes you so sure?"
"Besides the brilliance I just displayed for you? Honestly though, isn't that what everyone in the closet wants? That one person to tell and to trust not to say anything. No one really wants to carry that burden around, it's just that a lot of people feel they have no choice."
"You're probably right. This just got so more confusing."
"Well you said you wanted to know and if anything this makes your job easier. Now you know he's probably paying attention and your efforts won't be wasted. I`m surprised by you. I`d think you`d jump all over this info."
"I guess," Joey said, "Now I wish I didn't know."
Jon laughed, "Why not?"
"Because now it's like...I'm going after him or something. I know something about him that I'm not supposed to...unless you're wrong."
"Nope, I'm 100% correct. You're making this way more complicated than it should be. I know we don't know each other all that well, but I'm going to give you some tough love. Stop your bitchin and go after what you want. He's a big boy...literally and figuratively, so you have no excuses, but your own for wanting to sabotage yourself."
"Thanks." Joey said still sulking.
"It's fine," Jon said as he patted Joey on the shoulder, "it's what I do."
As one of the members of the club lead the evening prayer, everyone had their eyes closed, that is except for Lucas Mathias. This wasn't an exception for him, he found it to be his personal duty to look around the room while everyone was taking in the prayer and having their own time with God, to spy on them to see who, for whatever reason, didn't have their eyes closed. As he looked around the room, only two people didn't have their eyes closed. Lucas wasn't surprised that the new guy, who had mysteriously and quietly been sitting in the back of the room, didn't have his eyes closed; he thought it simply a matter of being not as comfortable. He did make a mental note to go and introduce himself at the end of the meeting. But when Lucas saw that Chase did not have his eyes closed and seemed to be staring into space, Lucas smiled maliciously as if he had just discovered a big secret.
"Amen!" most everyone in the room had said. Chase immediately snapped back to attention and cleared his throat.
"We'll start off with announcements and I'd like to star. I'm sure you've noticed our guest in the back of the room."
Everyone turned to see Richard smiling back at them.
"His name is Richard Channing and he's student coordinator of the Pride Center here on campus...uh yes Lucas?"
"The Pride Center?"
"Yeah, it's for all students, but primarily for gay, lesbian, bisexual...help me out here."
"Intersex, transgender, queer, questioning, and allied students on campus." Richard finished.
"Oh," Lucas said as he looked between Richard and Chase, "I see. Well why is here?"
"I was getting to that. Anyway, he's running for President and he wanted to reach out to a multitude of student groups to give a more personal account of his goals and aims should he be elected. You should listen with an open mind. I think he has a lot of good things to say. You want to come up to the front?"
"Yeah." Richard said as he made his way up to the front. He was surprised by how nervous he felt. He didn't quite think he was in enemy territory, but he knew that this was going to be a hard sell to make.
"Hi everyone." Richard waved lamely, "Um...like Chase said my name is Richard and I'm running for President along with my good friend Bliss, and I really just wanted to talk to you guys, um...well let's just be honest, as far as groups on campus go we seem to have the least in common. There are very few people on campus who would consider joining both and believe me I'm not one of them. But despite that, we have a lot in common. I think the very best leaders are the ones that can honestly say they have the best interests of all the people they represent at heart. So many times here on campus or even on a grander scale in politics, people only support the issues and causes that they personally believe in. There's nothing wrong with that, cause I believe I am a man lead by my convictions, but we also need to realize that there is so much more out there. And for every issue we deem unimportant or silly or just plain wrong, there is a person attached to it, that would say otherwise. I'm saying all of this to say, that I think we need to change the way our student government works. It shouldn't be about what I want, or what the Pride Center wants, or what any of the religious clubs, or sports clubs want, we need to think collectively, so that every student feels like they have a place to call home here at Sunnydale. Thank you."
There were mild applause when Richard finished. He could tell that they weren't being rude, many of them still seemed confused as to why he was there. Richard looked around to Chase, a bit confused as what to do next. He was happy with what he said though.
"Does anybody have any questions or anything?" Chase asked. Lucas' hand shot up immediately and Chase nodded in his direction.
"It's not a question, it's a statement. I had planned on waiting a few more weeks to announce, but little did I know that we'd be...infiltrated. I'd like to announce my candidacy for student body President. I know I can count on everyone here for support." Lucas made sure to look directly at Richard as he finished his sentence.
"I had no idea you were running." Chase said dryly.
"Like I said, I hadn't planned to announce for weeks."
"What are your goals?" Richard said abruptly. It was one thing if the group didn't feel like he had said anything worthwhile, but he felt like Lucas was trying to show him up and he didn't appreciate.
"Um...like I said I hadn't planned on telling everyone this soon about my plans, so not everything is finalized, but you can rest assured that I plan on being lead by my moral obligation to oppose anything that any true Christian would not stand for. Frankly, I'm disappointed that we were not made aware of your...visit beforehand, unless I missed the e mail."
Chase had never liked Lucas much, but had always been able to tolerate him, but he knew that Lucas was purposely being condescending in an effort to make both Richard and Chase look bad. Pride began to swell up in Chase, as he silently reminded himself that he was the one in charge of the club, "You know there wasn't an e mail. I asked Richard to come because I thought he had a lot of good to say. If I had known you were running, I probably wouldn't have invited him. You decided to keep that information a secret which is your right to do, but as they say, the early bird catches the worm."
"That's all good and fine..." Lucas started but Chase cut him off.
"You've had your time to speak. We're moving on now. Thank you Richard for you time. I'll be seeing you soon."
"Thank you guys for taking the time to listen."
Lucas stayed quiet. He knew he didn't have the ammunition to challenge Chase directly and so openly yet. But he took comfort in the fact that he knew he would be provided with what he needed soon. After all, The Lord had always provided for him before, why would this time be any different?
"Dad!" Tim yelled when he opened the door. He threw his arms around his father and could feel through the strength of the hug that his father was just as happy to see him, "Come in."
"It was hard finding this place." Tom Henderson said as his son closed the door.
"Yeah, it can be if you've never been here before. I bet you've never been on this side of town before." Tim said with a smirk.
"You're right about that."
Tim saw that his dad looked confused as to where to sit, "You have to sit on my bed. I need to get a couch, I just haven't done so yet."
"I don't know if I'm staying long. I just wanted to make sure you're ok."
Tim sighed deeply. He could already feel the tears welling up in his eyes, but he didn't want to seem weak in front of his father. Tom Henderson had never been the kind of guy who believed in traditional masculinity, but Tim still felt uncomfortable exposing that side of him to his father, "I'm ok."
"Are you really?"
"Yeah," Tim said turning his back to his father, "It isn't so bad. How's Tathiana?"
"She's good. I swear she grows more and more everyday...your mother is doing well too."
"I didn't ask about her."
"Tim, she's your mother."
"Who kicked me out!"
"You chose to leave."
"She didn't give me much of a choice."
"Do you at least see why she's upset?" Tom asked his son.
"Yes, I get it very clearly. She's upset that she can't control me anymore. And instead of accepting the fact that I'm not seven anymore she has to fly off the handle and make this situation so much more than it is."
"That's your mother, you know that."
"And I'm tired of it. You should be too." Tim said now looking directly at his father.
"I didn't come here to fight. I came to make sure my son is ok."
"You should have never let her throw me out."
"You're like her in many ways you know, especially when it comes to being stubborn."
"I have good reason to feel the way I do. I mean I get the fact that doing what I did for Toby was stupid. I really get it because everyone at school was saying it. I don't need my own mother telling me the same thing. She should be there to support me not tear me down like everyone else tried to."
"She was disappointed. So was I."
"I was disappointed in myself. But we're having a level headed conversation, that's impossible with her. She talks to everyone as if they have to answer to her. She does it to you too."
"Well, I see that you're alright. You sure you don't need any money or anything?"
Tim could tell that he had hurt his father's feelings and he immediately felt bad and wished he hadn't been so insistent on casting his mother in a negative light, "No, I'm ok."
"Good, I love you and you know where to find me if you do."
"I really want to come home."
"I want you home too, but not now. You know your mother. She'll calm down and all will be forgotten."
"See you soon."
Tim watched his dad leave and wanted to run after him, but again, he wanted to be strong. He shut the door and debated over whether he should call Jon or not. He really didn't want to be alone, but at the same time he really didn't want to make this thing, whatever it was with Jon, a regular thing. He looked around his small, crowded place and sighed again. Maybe this wasn't so bad after all, maybe it was exactly what he needed.