Three Roads: Chapter 51: A Throwback
"Yes!" Toby screamed as he pumped his fist as hard as he had ever done so. He ran to the net and shook the limp hand of his bitterly disappointed opponent. Toby knew he had been lucky to get out of the match as he had found himself down 3-5 in the final set. Kyle ran up to him and gave him a hi five, "How the hell did you get out of that?"
"Team inspiration." Toby said slyly.
"Whatever it is, I need some of that. Good shit man, you sucked ass for most of the match and still found a way to win!"
"I don't know whether to laugh with you or punch you in the face."
Kyle look confused, "Why?"
"Was that a backhanded comment?"
"No, it was a compliment."
"Ok, good." Toby smiled. Kyle walked away to go talk to his other teammates and Toby sat and tried to catch his breath. He had been well on his way to losing just twenty minutes ago when he heard loud yells and cheers from a court further down. The noise had surprised Toby and caused him to miss an easy shot into the net. He held his hands up in frustration and thought about giving his racquet a good toss, but decided against it. He looked down the row of courts to see what had caused the commotion and realized that Brian was smiling widely. Brian had won after finding himself behind by a seemingly insurmountable margin. Toby knew then and there that he couldn't lose. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath and decided he simply wasn't going to miss anymore balls, and it worked.
He saw Coach Williams approaching him an thought he would get the same sort of congratulations that he had received from Kyle, but he was mistaken.
"What was that?"
"What do you mean?"
"That was terrible." Coach Williams said bluntly.
"But I won."
"You were lucky to win. You played brainless tennis. You were hitting the ball as hard as you could without much thought."
"I know that's what it looked like, but it was clear in my mind. Look at me Coach, I'm a big guy and I spend so much time running around and defending, I should be more aggressive and making things happen."
"If you wanted a game style change you should be working on that in the off season, not mid season. What were you doing this off season?" Coach asked already knowing the answer.
"I know I know," Toby said with an embarrassed smile, "but seriously I know what I'm doing."
"I hope so, because the way you played today won't win you any championships."
Tim involuntarily rolled his eyes when he heard the knock on his door. He slowly walked towards it, accepting the inevitable. He took a very deep breath, knowing that he would need to be patient today. He opened the door and put on his best smile.
"Jack, come in!"
"Thanks for inviting me over. I have to admit I thought when you said you would invite me over on another day you were just saying that to get rid of me."
"Why would you think I'd do something like that?"
Jack shrugged, "I guess I should have known better. I really like your place."
"Really?" Tim said looking around trying to find something that Jack would find appealing.
"Yeah. It's great, having a place of your own," Jack said walking around the cramped space, "I can't wait until I turn eighteen and can move out. I'll be able to do whatever I want."
"Trust me becoming an adult isn't just about being able to do what you want." Tim said seriously.
"Yeah, but there's no one to tell you what to do."
Tim wanted to respond, but thought it best to leave it for now, "How's school going?"
"Good." said Jack sitting on Tim's bed.
"No more trouble with that guy you punched?"
"He gives me dirty looks whenever he sees me, but as long as he doesn't say anything to me, I don't care. Who says violence doesn't solve anything?"
"It doesn't," Tim said sitting on the opposite side of the bed so that he was facing Jack, "it just gives the illusion that it does."
"I should have threatened to murder him." Jack said as if he hadn't heard Tim's previous remark.
"Oh yeah, that would have solved everything." Tim said rolling his eyes.
"Think about it. If I kill him, then he's not there to bother me anymore, problem solved." Jack smiled.
"You better be joking."
"Of course I am." Jack laughed, "You think I'm a murderer now? You always think the worst of me."
"No, I don't."
"What do I have to do to prove to you that I'm a good person?"
"You don't have to prove anything to me."
"Too bad my dad doesn't say that."
"What do you mean?" Tim asked confused, "You guys are still not getting along?"
"We hardly ever talk. The only time he says anything to me is if he wants me to do something for him. At least I have my driver's license now so that I don't have to be at home all the time."
"Shouldn't this be good for you, you guys not talking, I thought you hated him."
"I do." Jack said unconvincingly.
"I still don't get it, but whatever."
"Umm...if someone was responsible for your mom's death, would you want to be nice to them?"
Tim smiled mischievously, "This is not the time to ask me that question."
Jack returned the smile, "But seriously, my father drove her to do it."
"You haven't told me what exactly happened," Tim said slowly, not sure if he was overstepping his bounds, "What did happen?"
Jack shrugged, "I came home from school one day, and my mom was usually home, but I figured that she was at the university doing something with my dad. So I went to the kitchen and there was a turkey and cheese sandwich sitting on the table and there was a note from my mom that said `enjoy!'"
Tim noticed that Jack had started to smile as if he was remembering a happy memory.
"Anyway, I went to my room and I was surprised because my mom was in there laying on my bed. I tried to be quiet cause I didn't want to wake her. I went around to the bed to get to my computer and I realized her eyes were open and I just got like this chill. Then I saw the blood and the gun and...yeah."
"Your mom killed herself in your room?" Tim said with an abhorrent look on his face.
"Sorry, but that`s incredibly sick."
Tim held his hands out in disbelief, "Jack, are you kidding me? Your mother killed herself in her child's bedroom, that is just...there isn't even a word for it."
Jack shook his head rapidly, "No you don't get it. That and her note was her way of letting me know she was thinking of me. It makes me feel comfort to know that in her last minutes of life she was thinking of me."
"I don't even know what to say to that."
"Neither did my dad. After I realized she was dead I closed her eyes but I got some blood on my clothes and I freaked out and ran into the living room and took off all my clothes. I tried to call my dad at work, but I couldn't remember his number. It's strange cause I had dialed that number millions of times before and since then my dad's number has changed, but I can still recite that old number now."
"You were in shock."
"I guess, but yeah my dad came home, saw me naked and asked me what was wrong. I couldn't say anything I just pointed to my room and he picked up this fire poker and I was thinking, it's just a dead body not a robber. I knew when he saw it because he screamed so loud, I've never heard my dad or anyone else make that sound. He told me to dial 9-1-1 but I couldn't move and plus it didn't make sense, she was already dead. Why are you crying?"
Tim hadn't even noticed that tears had started to fall from his eyes. He used the back of his hand to wipe his eyes and face, "Why didn't you ever tell me?"
"It's not something I usually like to talk about, but you deserve to know." He said smiling kindly at Tim.
"I'm not trying to question you or anything, I just don't understand why you blame your dad so much."
"A few weeks after she died, I was having these dreams. I'd be in this park that we used to live across from and it'd be dark outside and my mom was dressed completely in black and her arms would be stretched out to me like she wanted to hug me. I would run towards her and realize that she was wearing all black and she had like this...deathly expression on her face. I'd always wake up scared shitless and one night I was so scared and I woke up my dad and asked him to pray with me. And he told me to go back to bed because he had to get up and work early in the morning. You're crying again."
"Cause it breaks my heart to hear what you're saying, especially because you're so stoic."
"I've been through it numerous times." Jack said nonchalantly.
"Still..." Tim was sniffling while he wiped his eyes, "It sounds like you're mad at your dad because he wasn't there for you when you needed him, not because he was responsible for your mother's death."
"She loved me, I know she did. So what else would drive her to kill herself if it wasn't his fault?"
Despite assurances from Tim that he would not say anything to Richard, Toby was still feeling guilty about what he had done. He had a nagging voice in the back of his mind that was telling him that honesty was the best policy and the longer he waited to say something, the worse it would be. But Toby would always push those thoughts out of his mind, he would never tell Richard what happened, because it didn't matter to him, it was a mistake, a big one, but a mistake, and he would never even think about being with another man as long as Richard was by his side. Still, Toby felt he needed to do something nice and spontaneous for Richard. He quietly got out of bed, and put on a sweater and some track pants, which proved to be quite easy. Toby was sure that he could move around, even if slowly without the crutches now, but he thought it best to wait until he could talk with the trainer; he didn't want to risk missing anymore of the tennis season. Toby had decided he was going to pick up breakfast for both him and Richard from a small restaurant just a few blocks away. They'd have breakfast in bed and then Toby would have some desert as he serviced Richard to the best blowjob he could give. Toby was not surprised to see the lobby totally deserted, it was quite early on a Sunday morning. He saw a man standing outside of the lobby doors holding a bouquet of flowers.
Toby laughed as he opened the door to let the man in, "Late valentine's gift?"
"You wouldn't believe how many poor suckers forget it. This cheap piece of shit," the man said waving the bouquet, "cost fifty bucks."
"Ouch, and he's still not going to be forgiven." Toby started to leave the man to find the room he was looking for, but for some reason felt like he shouldn't leave the man alone.
"Hey!" Toby yelled at the top of his lungs, "Where are you going?"
An evil smile spread across the man's face, "It's too late to play the hero and follow the rules, I already did it."
Toby's eyes opened and it took him a few seconds to realize that he was in his own bed at home. He looked at the clock and realized he had been asleep for a few hours. He was always really tired after going on away trips for the tennis team. He sat up in his bed trying to shake that dream from his conscious. As he stood up and exited his room, he had a fleeting thought that he hoped the dreams wouldn't continue.
"Hey sunshine!" Richard smiled.
"Hey." Toby said wiping the sleep from his eyes, "What are you doing here?"
"Just hanging out."
"Were you asleep?" Eric asked.
"Lazy ass." Cooper said as he watched television.
"When did you get back?"
"A few hours ago." Toby said taking a seat next to Eric on the couch.
"How'd it go? Did you win?" Richard asked.
"Of course." Toby smiled.
"Someone's cocky." Cooper said.
"Someone's going to get a punch in the face." Toby said.
"My man will protect me." Cooper said nonchalantly.
Toby and Eric stared at each other for a minute and Toby raised his eyebrow as if challenging Eric. The staring contest was broken when they both laughed.
"Put me out to slaughter." Eric said playfully bumping Cooper with his shoulder.
"You know I love you." He said playfully punching Eric in the arm.
"Ow, that hurt." Eric said rubbing his shoulder, but Cooper had already returned his attention to the television.
"He's right though," Richard started, "You are cocky."
"No I'm not, just confident."
"That might be true, but it can come off sometimes as cocky." Eric said as kindly as possible.
"The truth shall set you free." Cooper said.
"Are you even paying attention to the conversation?" Toby asked.
"I can tell you from experience that Toby wasn't always the cocky individual that we now have the pleasure of knowing." Richard said with a smirk.
Toby picked up the couch pillow that his back had been resting on and flung it across the room at Richard, he caught it fairly easily.
Richard chuckled, "I know all about your past."
Toby smiled, "What are you talking about?"
"I'm talking about when we first met in middle school, you were like a little nerd." Richard said.
"You're such a fuckin liar." Toby remarked.
"I have to say I find it hard to imagine Toby any other way than the way he is now." Eric said.
"Thanks," Toby smiled, "I think."
"I want to hear this story," Cooper said now fully paying attention to his friends, "Did Toby get punked?"
"There isn't any story asshole. Richard is making stuff up."
"No, I'm not," Richard started, "You don't remember?"
An eleven year old Toby was sitting on the grass underneath a large shady tree with his favorite G.I. Joe toys surrounding him waiting for Richard to come out of the cafeteria. Toby was wearing a purple button down shirt and jean shorts that were cut off well above the knee. He had matching purple socks that reached half way up his leg.
Even though the rule was that students were only allowed to eat in the cafeteria, Toby regularly hid beneath the big tree and ate his sandwich and chips on a daily basis. He had confided in his new friend, Richard, that he didn't like going in the cafeteria because that's where all the big kids hung out. Toby knew that they were nothing but trouble and he thought it best to put as much distance between him and them as possible. He silently admired Richard's bravery that he could go into the cafeteria without even the slightest concern. But that's how Richard was. He walked around the campus like he owned the placed, just confident like he knew no one would mess with him; he was even friends with some of the older kids.
"Are you playing with toys fag?" A mean looking eighth grader said to Toby. Toby was going to respond with his own insult, but saw that the kid was surrounded by two of his friends. Toby thought it was best to stay quiet.
"Do you hear me talking to you fag?
Toby still didn't say anything, but he stood up just in case he needed to make a run from it. There was no way he was even going to try and take three big eighth graders. The eighth graders started to approach Toby and he wanted to run, but he didn't want to leave his G.I. Joes unattended. Someone might steal them or worse break them.
"Only little boys and fags play with toys." The eighth grader said as he and his friends got closer.
"But they're G.I. Joes." Toby said lamely.
"I don't care." The boy said now directly in front of Toby. Toby looked at him, even beginning to shake a little bit as the boy looked down on him with contempt. He pushed Toby to the ground and Toby immediately curled into a ball to protect his head and face. The boys snickered and were about to kick Toby wherever they could land blows when Richard came running up behind them.
"What the fuck are you guys doing?" Richard yelled.
"What does it look like we're doing?," the eighth grader said, "teaching this fag a lesson."
"Get up." Richard said helping Toby off the ground, "You better not bother him again!" Richard yelled.
The other two boys had backed off and we're looking as if they wished they had never followed their friend in picking on Toby, but the leader wasn't worried, "Or what are you going to do?"
"I'll kick your ass, that's what," Richard said as he got in the boy's face, "we can go at it right now if you want."
The boy smirked, but Richard could see the confidence in his eyes deflating by the second, "Yeah, that's what I thought. Now get out of here."
The three boys ran off and Richard turned with a concerned look on his face to Toby, "Are you ok?"
"Yeah," Toby said brushing the grass off his body, "Thanks for saving me."
"It was nothing. You have to learn to stick up for yourself."
"I never know what to do in situations like that." Toby said looking down to the ground.
"Don't worry. I'll always be here and I'll protect you."
"Thank you," Toby said as he gave Richard a hug, "You're my hero!"
"There isn't a person in their right mind who would believe that bullshit you just spat out of your mouth." Toby said glaring at Richard.
"I believe it." Cooper said immediately.
Richard was laughing, "Don't be embarrassed Toby. Seriously, you guys would have loved the high ass socks he would wear. Just one look at those and I knew he liked dick. I knew it before he did."
"You are such a liar, I can't believe you would lie that blatantly." Toby said.
"And I can't believe you would lie just to try and save face," Richard said still smiling, "Maybe that was such a painful memory you blocked it."
"Or you're such an asshole you would make up such an unbelievably false story."
"Like Cooper said Toby, the truth shall set you free."
"Is that so?" Toby said maliciously, "then maybe it's time for our friends here to know a little about your past."
Toby and Richard sat next to each other both excited, but nervous to get their tests back. Their favorite middle school teacher, Miss Beffa, who taught science for seventh graders, passed out their tests and gave her usual message of encouragement, despite the low grades, to her students.
"How do you think you did?" Richard nervously asked Toby. Toby rolled his eyes. Richard always did this. He was always the last person finished with the test, despite knowing all the answers and he always received the highest grade, yet he pretended as if he didn't know how smart he was. It also didn't help, that he was the favorite in every class. Toby would never admit it, but sometimes he joined the other kids in calling Richard "a teacher's pet." Richard always stayed after school to help out whenever he could. Whenever Toby wasn't able to pull Richard away to hang out at his house, Richard could be found either helping a teacher prepare for the following day or reading several chapters ahead in one of their many school textbooks.
"I don't know, I think I did ok." Toby said.
After a long pause, Richard looked over to Toby, "Aren't you going to ask me how I think I did?"
"No, cause I already know how you did. You probably got a hundred percent and a few extra credit points too."
"Don't jinx me!" Richard whispered loudly as he pushed his glasses more firmly on his nose, "I didn't study enough. I was reading Emma by Jane Austen and just couldn't put it down."
Toby stifled a laugh, "Are you serious?"
"Yes, it is. It's such a beautiful coming of age story."
"Speaking of cumming..." Toby motioned down to his crotch.
Richard looked down without thinking and noticed that Toby was massaging himself through his pants, "What are you doing?!"
"Do you know what jacking off is?" Toby said quietly, keeping an eye out for Miss Beffa.
"Of course I do," Richard scoffed as he stalled for time to try and remember where he heard the term before, "is that when mountainous ranges are created by the shifting tectonic plates of the Earth?"
"Wow," Toby said, "You need to get a life. No jerkin off is like when you rub your dick. It feels really good."
"I don't know if it's wise to spend time doing that. It sounds dumb."
"You only say that cause you didn't know about it." Toby whispered. He quickly removed his hand from his pants as the teacher passed by and placed their tests face down. Toby picked his up and smiled when he saw a bright red B circled at the top of his paper. He looked over when it sounded like Richard's breath had caught in his throat. Toby looked over and saw the A circled at the top of Richard's paper and couldn't figure out what the issue was until he saw that Richard had missed one question on the test.
"You're kidding me right? It's one question." Toby said.
"Miss Beffa?" Richard said raising his hand. She turned and began to walk back to him.
"What was the answer to number seven?"
She looked at the key to the exam, "It was C."
"That's what I put and you marked it wrong." Richard smiled widely.
She looked at his test to clarify, "Oh, I'm sorry. Another 100% for you! I will change it in my grade book immediately!" Before she walked away, she ruffled Richard's hair and whispered, "You are my favorite student."
Toby rolled his eyes, but Richard sat there beaming, as if he had just received the best news.
"That was a pathetic attempt at making up a story." Richard said, his face with much the same look on it that Toby had on his just a few minutes ago.
"No, it's the truth. Knowing you, the worst part is that now these guys know you wear contacts and that your eye color is a boring brown, not blue, like you pretend."
"I can't believe you were in the seventh grade and didn't know what jerking off was." Cooper said looking at Richard.
"That story isn't true!"
"I didn't know about jerking off until high school." Eric said.
"Well you've made up for lost time, right Toby?"
Toby looked caught off guard, though he knew what Cooper was referring to, but Eric did not, "What does that mean?"
"No, I want to know what you meant." Eric said not backing down.
"Toby told me that when you guys were roommates you used to jerk off to his body all the time." Cooper said.
"I didn't say it like that!" Toby said immediately.
"I can't believe you said it all! What are you talking about?" Eric said wildly confused.
"If I remember correctly," Cooper said, "He said one morning you woke up, he was in his underwear, and you practically died from horniness and then you jacked off. He also said he wanted to jack off too, I think."
"OK that's a lie." Toby said.
"But everything else is true?" Eric said glaring at Toby.
"I might have said some of that other stuff," Toby said quietly.
"Finally some truth." Cooper said.
"Since you love the truth so much, everyone should know that you have jerked off to lesbian porn before." Eric said with evil satisfaction.
"I told you that in confidence!" Cooper said, actually blushing.
Toby and Richard were both laughing, "You should have denied it," Richard said, continuing to laugh, "I would have never believed it."
"I swear, it was a long time ago and there was like a virus on my computer or something and all I could see were," his whole face contorted like he was in agony beyond words as he recalled the memory, "these two naked women. I was repulsed, disgusted, wanted to vomit...but I was so horny and I needed something visual. So I went with it. It wasn't the worst thing that has ever happened...I'm not bisexual or anything," Cooper said quickly as if it were something bad, "I just...I was wrong I know it. And you're an asshole for making me recall a painful moment in my life."
"Sorry, all is fair in love and war." Eric smiled.
"Hey." Richard smiled the next morning when Brian walked into the Pride Center.
"Hey." Brian returned the smile, "I feel like it's been a while."
"Yeah it has been. Have we not talked since Toby's birthday?"
"We talked for a few minutes last week when we randomly ran into each other on campus." Brian reminded him.
"Oh yeah that's right. I'm sorry I've just been really busy. The campaign has been taking most of my attention."
"I thought it had to do with Toby." Brian said quietly.
"Uhhh...that's part of it."
"I thought so. I'm not blaming you or anything, but I want to know what's going on, I don't want to be lead on."
Richard couldn't help but smile, "So you so like me?"
"I didn't say that...yes, I do." He paused making sure he had what he wanted to say worked out, "I think it's time we stopped playing games or someone will get hurt. I may be selfish, but I don't want it to be me."
"It's not selfish, what do you want to know?"
"I want to know if you like me too for starters."
"I think I do."
"I'm just confused," Richard said, "I like you and I obviously have feelings for Toby. I just hoped that all this could wait until after the campaign to be honest. I don't want to be distracted."
"Sorry to be a distraction."
"I didn't mean it like that."
"Then how'd you mean it?"
"I don't know."
"That means you pick Toby."
"It's not a case of me picking one over the other."
"Yes it is. We've been flirting for months and out of nowhere you're thinking about getting back with Toby. I feel a little cheated to be honest."
"Cheated? We never had any agreement or anything." Richard said.
"It was going somewhere. Or so I thought."
"I'm sorry if you feel I mislead you, but...I don't know what you want me to say."
"I want you to make up your mind. If you want to be with Toby then fine, just tell me so that I can get over it and move on and we can be friends."
"I wish you had been this forward before."
Brian shrugged, "Me too. I thought I had time. This isn`t easy and I`m not trying to be an asshole or anything. I`m just trying to figure out what the next step is."
"I understand." Richard nodded.
"I feel like I should go." Brian said abruptly.
"You don't have to, I wouldn't mind if you stayed." Richard said honestly.
"I think I've said everything I needed to say and I think you did to."
"It was weird," Tim continued, "he was telling me about it and I could tell he was back in that moment as he was talking, but he hardly reacted."
"What do you mean?" Toby said as he took a handful of popcorn from the bowl in Tim's lap.
"I cried just hearing about it. I can't imagine what it would have been like to actually live through something like that, but he showed no reaction whatsoever."
"Are you sure he wasn't lying? He's not exactly shown himself to be the most honest or trustworthy person has he?"
"That's true, but...that would be a very crazy thing for someone to make up. He was pretty detailed, I doubt he was making it up on the fly." Tim said confidently.
"I don't know. From what you told me in the past, he seems like someone who might just do something like that."
"But why?" Tim said completely unconvinced, "He doesn't have any reason to do that."
"To get sympathy or to make sure he gets in good with you. I don't know I'm not a crazy person." Toby laughed.
"Don't say that. Hearing that story made a lot of sense. He's a person with a warped sense of reality sometimes. Like it's clear to me his mother was cuckoo, no one that loved you would kill themselves in your room, especially a child's. But he doesn't know how to deal with it so he's made his mother a saint and vilified his father. It makes me feel bad for him."
"See, it's what I just said," Toby said sitting up, "He made you feel bad for him. Now he's got someone to defend him because you feel he's been wronged by the world. Lots of people do it, it's called manipulation."
"If you had been here when he talked about it, you'd know he was telling the truth." Tim said firmly.
"Alright, I'm just saying be careful. Don't underestimate him just because he's a kid."
Thanks for reading this chapter! All comments, suggestions, and constructive criticisms can be sent to email@example.com.
1. Toby wins match
2. Jack and Tim talk
3. Toby has a nightmare about the girl that leads to convo
4.Throwback (Richard's version)
5. Throwback (Toby's version)
6. Eric and Cooper talk about their pasts
7. Richard and Brian talk
8. Toby talks to Tim