I walked into the house and tossed my backpack in the corner as I kicked off my shoes. Joel was marching right behind me at the time, and I tried to look everywhere that I could to avoid making eye contact. Eye contact means 'questions'. And I don't think I could really handle 'questions' right now. Unfortunately...Joel wasn't one for just leaving things alone. Finally, he stopped me and said, "So, are you gonna talk to me or what?"
"There's nothing to talk about. Chris was just being a jerk, and he's gone now. End of story." I said, and walked into my bedroom, wishing that Joel would just let it go.
"That's hardly an 'end' to anything, Derrick. It's not even a beginning." He said, coming into the room with me. "What the fuck is going ON with you? Tell me."
"Just leave it alone, Joel. Alright? It's no big deal."
"No big deal? What are you TALKING about? Do you think he's just gonna leave you alone after that? If you walk away from that he's gonna get worse than ever. It'll be open season on you all day." He said. "Look, if this guy is a problem for you, just say the word and I'll handle it. I've been anxious to mash up that fucking pretty mug of his anyway! I'll find him after school tomorrow and beat him within an inch of his fucking life!"
"It's...arrgh...it's not that simple, ok? You don't know what's going on."
"I'm asking you to TELL me what's going on, but you won't talk to me." He said, watching me struggle with an apparent checkmate in Chris' favor. "Dude...what IS it? Just tell me! Why are you backing down from this faggot?"
Why does he always have to SAY shit like that? Why is it that everyone who's lame, or weak, or abnormal, have to be a 'faggot'? Why does he have to call them a 'homo', or a 'queer', or a 'fudgepacker'? Can he really be THAT fucking homophobic? "Joel...I just need you to stay out of this, ok? I mean it. Let me handle this my way."
"Your way is stupid, Derrick. I mean, no offense, but you're opening yourself up to be this guy's bitch, and you're acting like that's ok."
"That's not what this is about. You just...fuck, Joel, you don't know ANYTHING!"
"So TELL me, already! Jesus! Tell me!"
I was so angry, infuriated by the fact that I was almost ready to give up the biggest secret of my life in anger. And even more frustrated by the fact that my common sense seemed to tighten its grip on my throat to the point where it silently 'choked' the words right out of me. "Fuck it. You're being an asshole." I said, ducking my head and rushing for cover like I always do.
He wasn't even phased by the insult. He just became more curious about the missing piece of the puzzle here. "So you're not gonna tell me?"
"I CAN'T tell you, Joel!"
"WHY NOT???" Our eyes connected for a moment, and neither one of us said a word. He was waiting for an answer, and...out of pure rage...I almost gave him one. I was SOOOO ready! So CLOSE! I could literally feel the aggravated confession crawling up the back of my throat, strained and constricted, ready to burst. It took very last ounce of energy I had to bite my tongue, keep my lips tight, and just swallow it back down again. When I didn't say anything, Joel shook his head. "So you're just gonna sit back and take whatever this fucker dishes out to you, huh?" He said. "Alright. Fine. Go be his little bottom bitch for as long as you want to. I don't give a shit. I just thought you had bigger balls than that." He said, and walked out of my room with his hands up.
How the fuck is Joel gonna judge me when he doesn't understand what the hell is going on? Who is HE to make any comments on my fucking life? Like HIS existence is so clean and honest! He can't even go HOME! He has to come here and sponge off of me and my mom. So he should keep his mouth shut and just be happy he's not sleeping on the fucking STREET right now! Whatever...I'm not gonna let this bother me. I know what I'm doing. I just...I know what I'm doing.
I stayed closed up in my room...watching the seconds tick by on the wall clock. Every 'click' was a moment closer to whatever horrible punishment Chris had planned for me this time. He said 7 o'clock, and not a minute after. I'd have to take the bus, and I'd have to leave almost an hour early just to make sure that I got to my stop a bit early. That was the only way to insure that I'd make it on time. I couldn't be late. I just...I couldn't. Chris had nothing to lose at this point. After all that he had put me and Tanner through over the past to weeks...I was almost certain that he'd up the ante without so much as a flinch.
Did I contemplate the idea of not going? Of not letting him bully me any further, and just calling his bluff once and for all? Of course I did. I thought about it. But I started shaking so bad that I thought I was gonna be sick. I mean...what if he does it? What if he 'tells' somebody? This is my whole LIFE we're talking about here. Not just my class, not just high school, not just some teasing in the halls. He threatened to tell my MOM! My MOM! The one person who always believed in me, and was ever truly proud of me. She works soooo hard, to the point of exhaustion, just so I can GO to this dumb school and have people make fun of me all day long. To have her find out that her son is...'abnormal'...that would just be a slap in the face. It would be a betrayal to all the time she put into trying to give me all the things she never had. And I couldn't do that. I refuse.
I know that everybody says that their parents will understand. Everybody thinks that everything will eventually turn out great once they get over the initial shock. And...I guess that makes sense. I mean, I can't really see my mom kicking me out of the house or anything drastic like that. But...
..When it comes right down to actually making the decision to tell someone...it's never that easy. My faith isn't just 'shaken'...it's nonexistent. I wish I didn't feel that way. I wish I could just ignore a million sources of anti-gay 'everything' and trust in my mom and my friends and my family to just...accept me as I am, and understand. But I can't. Deep down, I know that Joel would hate me. My mom would be disappointed in me. My classmates would laugh at me...once they got through beating me up. I wouldn't even be able to go back to my home town again without the whispers deafening me from every corner of the street. Chris has the ability to crush my whole social identity with just a few whispered words in the right direction...and he knows it. So what other choice do I have?
I just hope there's enough love for me left in his heart somewhere to give me a break.
Tick tock, tick tock...it was maddening. I was tapping my foot at the desk in my bedroom. I attempted to do some homework to get my mind off of things, but couldn't stop tapping my pen on the desktop long enough to write anything down. Not that I could concentrate. I tried to stop watching the clock, but I was so scared of losing track of the time, that my eyes flittered over to the numbers every few seconds. My breath was getting shorter by the minute, my chest constricting until I could hardly get any oxygen in at all. And when 6 o'clock rolled around, I couldn't sit still any more.
I got up and began to pace back and forth. This was the moment of truth. If I was gonna go, I was going to have to leave now. I couldn't miss that first bus. If I did, the next one would get me there late. I had to go. Had to go. Had to GO!!!
I was nearly shaking myself to the point of tears, my fingers fumbling helplessly with my shoelaces as I tried to get ready to go. I checked my pockets five times to make sure I had keys and bus money. Everything was together, everything was ready to go. And yet, it took me another minute or two before I could actually get my feet to move towards my bedroom door.
I heard Joel watching TV in the living room, and when he heard me enter the room, he looked back at me over the back of the couch. Our eyes connected, and despite our recent argument...he was still slightly concerned. He put the TV on mute and asked me, "Derrick...dude...do you want me to come with you, or what? Just SAY it, and I'm there. You know I am."
It was one time that I wish I could have depended on his help. It really was. But instead...I shook my head slowly. "I'll handle it." I said, barely convincing myself, much less Joel.
He sighed to himself, then turned the volume back up on the TV, not offering any more help. So I opened the front door...and I headed out towards whatever lie waiting for me on Chris' doorstep.
The walk to the bus stop was stressful. The five minute wait for the bus to actually arrive was nerve-wracking. And the trip out to Chris' house...well let's just say that it was a miracle that I hadn't bitten my nails down to the SKIN by the time I got there.
The place loomed over me as I walked up to his front door. The sun was setting behind it, and the house cast an unimaginably dark shadow on me as I got closer to the front steps. I was shivering like I was cold, so tempted to turn tails and run. But I kept going. And after taking a deep breath, I closed my eyes, raised a shaky arm...and rang the doorbell.
It took a minute or two before I heard footsteps approaching the door. Ok..this is it. You can do this Derrick. Just...look him in the eye, and get through this the best you can.
I heard a lock click, and then the door opened up. Chris was standing there in front of me, in nothing but sweatpants and a t-shirt. I don't think I had ever seen him look so....'casual' before. He had a somewhat glazed look in his eye, and I noticed that he had a drink in his hand. A 'short glass', as my mom would put it. "Well, well, well...look who's here. I wish I could say that I was surprised, but let's be honest...you really didn't have much of a choice now, did you?"
"Yeah...well...I'm here. So...now what?" I asked, trying not to look scared out of my wits.
"Come in. Make yourself comfortable." He said, stepping aside as I entered his house. It was hardly the luxurious palace of gold that I expected from the way he seemed to look down on me and my 'shabby' house all the time. Still, it was nicer than anything I'd ever have. And while Tanner's house was definitely bigger, it looked like Chris' dad spent some major dough on the stuff inside. Chris closed the door behind me, and then he turned to look me up and down. "Gee, all this time I've been practically begging you to come over and spend some time with me...and all I had to do was bait you with a life altering threat."
"Don't make a game out of this, ok?" I said. "What do you want?"
"I want you to relax." He said, a sneer lacing his voice. "You want a drink?"
"Aww, come on. I'm sure you want a little something. A little sip to loosen you up a bit?" He said, taking a swig of his own drink. "Don't worry. My ad won't even miss it. He doesn't even notice the bottle levels of alcohol in this house any more. He's never here. So I figure I'm entitled." Chris smiled at me. "And my guests are entitled. If they want it."
It was a building humiliation. I could feel it. Chris was reveling in the fact that he had me locked in an inescapable checkmate, and it showed in the particularly wicked tilt of his grin. "No thank you." I said quietly, wishing he would just get this over with.
"Suit yourself." He drank some more, and he was obviously intoxicated. Not 'drunk', but not sober either. "Why don't we go down into the basement for a while? Play some music?"
"I can't...stay long..."
"You'll stay for as long as I tell you to stay. Trust me...you've got nowhere to go. Come on. I'll show you the basement. I think you'll like it." He walked over to open a door, with a flight of steps leading downward. "Come on...don't just stand there." He coaxed me, and I felt my shoulders fall as I dutifully obeyed his command.
The basement was fully furnished, with dark brown wooden paneled walls, a full bar, a pool table, and a television big enough to see from SPACE! I couldn't help but marvel at the look of it, wondering what it would be like to just...have this awesome 'space' right underneath my house. A place that I could go to whenever I wanted to. Jesus, I wish me and my mom could have shit like this.
Chris walked behind the bar, and tilted his glass back until there was nothing left but a few wet cubes of ice. He promptly grabbed a bottle of Jack Daniels, some Cherry Coke, and a second glass...filling them up. "Sit down anywhere." He said. He used a remote behind the bar to turn of the TV, and started some background music for us as he mixed the drinks. "Here we go. One for you, one for me." He walked around to hand me the drink, but I didn't want it. "Derrick...who's party is this? It's MY party, right?" He asked, and he held the glass up for me to take...which I did so, reluctantly. "Alright then." He smiled, and raised his glass for a toast. "To us. And to Derrick finally finding the 'courage' to come over and enjoy my company for a little while." He clinked the glasses, and took a healthy sip. He saw that I wasn't drinking, and gently used his fingers to raise the glass to my lips. "Come on now, it's not a proper toast if you don't drink." I took in some of the liquid, and it tasted AWFUL! It stung and it burned and I had a hard time swallowing it. I coughed a bit and it made Chris giggle with delight. "Thatta boy. Don't worry, you'll get used to it. I did." I watched as he walked over to the wall, and dimmed the lights a little bit, changing the music with the remote to something a bit slower. He smiled at me, slightly swaying from one foot to the other. The he said, "You know...despite the fact that I hate you and all..you're still awfully pretty to look at. You know that?"
"Please don't talk. Alright? Spare me the senseless ramblings and just...relax."
"I don't know..what you're trying to do. But...I meant what I said before Ok?"
"You meant what you said before?" He asked. "You mean, the part where you said you didn't mean to break my fucking heart in half? Or what you said earlier today...about me being the furthest thing from your mind when you're with...him?" His gaze dropped to the floor for a moment, his smile fading slowly...but it only lasted a moment. He quickly looked back up and took another sip of his drink, returning a healthy smirk to his lips.
"I didn't mean...you just pissed me off, ok?"
"I'm sure I did." He said, and he came closer to take me by the hand. "Come on. Dance with me for a second."
"Jesus, Chris. What are you doing?"
"I'm spending time with my favorite blond haired sweetheart." He said, pulling me closer while I gently resisted. "I'm finally getting a fair shot here. That's all I ever wanted, Derrick...the chance to show you who I am. And what I had to offer you." He swayed with me for a moment, with moving as little as possible, looking for an opportunity to snatch my free hand back from his grip. "But you were always too 'busy'....running off to Tanner's house for smooches, weren't you?" His smile was so...wicked at that moment. I don't think I had ever seen him like this before. "So what do you two do...when you're together? All alone."
"Chris, why are you even..."
"What? We're talking. I'm making conversation. You and me...we never get to just talk any more."
"Maybe I've been too busy making up work that I miss out on while sitting in detention." I replied.
He giggled a bit to himself. "I can make that go away, you know? For both of you. It's getting tiresome anyway. I kinda like seeing you in the halls every once in a while. Or maybe in a pair of skimpy gym shorts? Hehehe.."
"This isn't funny."
"Geez, smile a little bit, will ya? You're so uptight. I just want to share the same space with you for a little while, that's all. Loosen up." He told me. "Drink. Have another gulp or two, it'll help." I didn't even look him in the eye, and he seemed to sigh a bit in frustration. "I'm NOT trying to fucking HURT you, Derrick! Ok? Why can't you just...ugh..I'm trying to tell you that things don't have to be like this between us That's why I asked you to come over here."
"You FORCED me to come over here." I said defiantly, this time staring right into his eyes as I saw him getting increasingly angry.
But he did his best to swallow the emotion, pretending to be unaffected by my comment. He quickly changed the subject as he tried to get me into slowly dancing with him. I refused. "So, my father is opening another restaurant in Seattle this weekend. His plane left a few hours ago, which means that we've got the whole weekend to party, if you want to stay."
"I don't." I said quietly.
"You're not enjoying yourself, are you?" He said with a raised eyebrow.
I gave him a harsh look and said, "Whatever it is that you think you're doing...it's pointless. So why don't you just let me go home?"
His smile dimmed considerably. "You're acting like I put a gun to your head to get you over here."
"You practically did."
"Nobody 'dragged' you here. I gave you a choice."
"Which was barely any choice at all..."
"Well, that's what happens when keep secrets, Derrick." He said, pain creeping into his tone. "That's what happens when you play with somebody else's emotions."
"I was NOT playing with your emotions! And if you hadn't THREATENED me, I wouldn't be here right now."
"And yet, you're convinced that your fucked up attitude has somehow given you the upper hand in this situation?" He sneered. "I'm still holding all the cards here, so I suggest you watch how you fucking talk to me, Slug!" He then softened his voice, "I mean...Derrick." He let go of my hand, and moved forward to let his hand rest on my hip. His touch disgusted me. And I was almost angry enough to smash him in the face with my fist and storm out of there. But...he was still in control for the time being. So I attempted to keep still. "You know...I used to dream about this." He said, with a dreamy smile. "I always pictured that...I'd get you something nice, a gift or a nice dinner...and you'd be so overwhelmed by the gesture that you'd come over. We'd...talk for a while...I'd drink a little bit..." He took a sip. "...You'd drink a little bit..." He gently lifted my glass to my lips, and I took another tiny sip, but barely enough to even taste. "...And I'd put on some music, just so we could...enjoy the moment, you know?" He let his hand slip further down on my hip, and he pulled me closer. "I figured that you'd resist a little bit..you being...STRAIGHT and all." He grinned sarcastically. "But then, we'd be so close, and so into the moment...that you'd let that whole gay, straight, garbage go and just...sighhhh...you'd just think about it. You'd think about what it would be like to kiss another boy. And what it would be like to hold one in your arms, and have him touch you, and gently kiss the inside of your thighs, and lick you for hours on end. I mean, who would turn down hot passionate sex for something as trivial as your partner being the wrong sex, right?" He looked me in the eyes. Deep. So deep. "But...that little fantasy isn't so farfetched now, is it? In fact, you might actually be into it."
"No, Chris...I wouldn't." I said, and a flash of aggravation flashed on his face.
"Can we just...put ourselves in the moment here? Huh? I mean...you're so busy thinking about getting out of here that you can't even appreciate what I'm trying to DO for you here. Just ENJOY it, ok?" He told me, but I couldn't. I just wanted to go home. "You know, that night at Tanner's party...hehehe...I was so in love that I could hardly breathe while I was in the same room with you. You were such a brat, and I kinda LIKED that. I tried so hard to forget about you, but...every few minutes, I felt like I just had to see you again. So I'd go looking for you, and you'd give me that adorable roll of your eyes like always. I gave you a lot of friction, but you gave it right back to me. And that excited me. It felt like we were just...a perfect fit, you know?" The song on the cd player changed, but he changed it back to the slow song, and put it on repeat. "You totally freaked me out in the limo when you started being nice to me though. That...that was a smart move. I felt like my guts were turning inside out, and if I hadn't kissed you when I did, I probably wouldn't have survived until the next morning. Ever since that night...every breath I've taken has been held for the moment when I get to truly tell you that I love you." He leaned forward and whispered in my ear, "I love you, Derrick."
"I love Tanner." I said, trembling inside as I made a lame attempt to make a stand.
Chris gritted his teeth. "Stop thinking about him. You're with me now."
"No, Chris...I'm not."
"Tell me you love me."
"I love Tanner."
Chris got even angrier. "Don't TEST me! I'm trying to be a better person. I'm doing all of this, going out of my way, to tell you how I feel. I'm doing this for you. For us."
"You're doing this for yourself, Chris. And if you cared about me at all..you'd let me go." I said. He fell silent. "Chris, please...let me go."
He took three big swallows of his drink as he took his hand off of my hip and walked over to the cd player. "We should change the music. This one isn't right. I've got more. Just give me a second."
"It's not...it's not the music, Chris. It's..."
"No wait, seriously...I'll find something better. Just hold on."
I sighed, wishing that he could just take the fucking hint and get it through his head that I'm not going to suddenly fall in love with him over liquor, conversation, and a little music.
He found another slow song, and came back over to drape both of his arms over my shoulders, his drink loosely held in his right hand. He started swaying gently again, as though we were at some mushy 8th grade dance or something, and he tried to inspire a smile out of me with one of his own. "Isn't this better? This song is much better than the last one."
"I told you, it's not about the..."
"This is nice. Being here with you." He told me. "You smell good. You always smell good. You know...I almost can't believe that you're here. Call me crazy, but none of this even seems real right now." I looked away from him. He wasn't going to listen. "You never answered my question, you know?"
"About you and Tanner. What does he do for you that you think is so impossible for me to match? Huh?" I didn't even dignify that with an answer. "Does he kiss you every day and tell you he loves you? I can do that. Does he buy you nice things? Ride you around town? Whisper sweet nothings in your ear at the movies? I can do that too." He said, trying to look me in the eyes while I worked to avoid his stare. "Is he a hot fuck? Is that it? I know Tanner's cute...he's fucking gorgeous, so I don't blame you. But if you're looking for some hot loving, I'll worship every inch of you day and night until you beg me to stop. I'd suck you to sleep every night just so I could have the pleasure of sucking you awake again the next morning. Tell me what you want. Quit playing with my heart and just..just give me the chance I need to make you happy, Derrick."
Chris stepped a little closer to me in our embrace, and I put my hands on his hips to sort of keep him back. But somehow, I think he took it as a sign of affection.
"When are you going to learn to keep those blond bangs out of those pretty eyes of yours, Derrick?" He reached up to brush them away, and he leaned in to kiss me as I jerked back from him. I turned my head to avoid his searching lips, and he ended up kissing me on the cheek instead. He kissed me again and again, his lips moving closer to my mouth until I eventually pushed him off of me. "WHAT?!?!" He snarled through gritted teeth. "What IS it with you? Huh? I mean, what the FUCK do I have to do to get some fucking attention from you? Huh?" His voice was soooo angry. Sooo painful. It was intimidating, to say the least. But more than anything...I just wanted him to stop hurting so much over this. I really hated to see him so dead inside. "What do you want from me?" He got fed up, and I saw him angrily throw his glass of alcohol against the wall, shattering it into a million pieces. "ANSWER ME!!!!"
"You can't just force me to love you, Chris. You just...you just can't." I said quietly, as tears built up in both of our eyes.
"You wanna know something? I was willing to fucking forget everything, if you would just give me a chance! I was gonna call the dogs off and let things go back to the way they were. But you won't let me! You won't play fair!"
"I don't want this to hurt as much as it does, Chris. I care about you, but..."
"**NO**!!! DON'T you stand there and tell me you CARE about me! You DON'T care about me! That's a fucking slap in the face every time you say that!"
"You know that's not true, Chris! I'm trying SO hard not to hurt you more than I already have! But THIS? Chris...I can't do this?"
"You can't do this for ME, you mean! But you sure as hell can do it for Tanner though, can't you? You've got no problem being his bitch, but you're too good to be mine, is that it?"
"I can't believe you made me come over here for this. I'm going home. I'm sorry." I said, and I put down my drink and walked towards the steps.
"You're not going anywhere until I TELL you to go! You HEAR me???" He shouted, but I only gave him a momentary look of pity before I started walking again. "STOP! Ok then...fuck it!" He reached in his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. "555-7098..." He said. "...That's the number to your mom's diner, isn't it? I can double check if I have to. I'm sure I've got a take-out menu or two upstairs. Since you're not gonna stay...I might as well pop on over there and get a bite to eat with some friends. What do ya say? You want me to bring you back a milkshake or something?"
"FUCK YOU, CHRIS!!! Why are you trying so hard to HURT me???" I screamed.
"You KNOW why!"
"No, I don't! I don't have any fucking clue at all! I understand that I fucked up, and you got hurt! But, JESUS, Chris...haven't you had enough of punishing me for what happened yet???"
"It's not ABOUT punishing you, Derrick..."
"Well what IS it then???"
And that's when Chris shouted, "I am going to do whatever it fucking takes to NOT lose you! Do you understand? I will burn this whole fucking world down to keep you close!!! Even if it means fucking your life up so bad that I'm ALL you've got left to come back to!" Tears began to drip from his eyes, but he was too angry to pay them any attention. "I've invested...all that I have...all that I AM...in the possibility of you feeling what I feel. And I can't just go back to looking at you from across the room anymore. I just....I can't. I WON'T. I won't lose you." He began to sniffle, and through my rage...I think I began to understand what all this was about. "Is that what you wanted to hear? HUH??? Are you happy?"
I saw him step back from me a bit, almost as if in a drunken stagger. But looking closer, it was more of a momentary emotional collapse. One that he struggled to recover from before I could notice it too clearly. He leaned back against the bar, and reached back behind him to grab the bottle of whiskey closest to him. This time, there was no glass involved. He just swigged it straight from the bottle. "You're...you're not gonna 'lose' me, Chris. Not if you don't want to." I said softly, hoping I would be able to reason with him a bit through his haze of intoxication. But my attempts only seemed to make him more stubborn. More determined than ever to not be the weak one in all this.
"Don't give me that bullshit! FUCK YOU!!!" He shouted. He stomped his way over to me, grabbing me by the back of the neck, and tried to kiss me on the lips. I pushed my hands out, keeping him away from me, and we struggled for a moment while he tried to make contact. Then he let go. "FINE!!! You wanna play it that way, we'll play it that way!" He marched up the stairs and locked the door, coming back down to push me into the center of the room. His face was twisted up into such a look of utter rage, but warm tears stained his cheeks in thin rivers...revealing more pain and desperation than hostility. It was then that he sat down at the bar, and said, quite simply..."Strip."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My mind wouldn't allow me to process it a first. But as I saw Chris grab himself another glass, and fill it up until it spilled over the sides, wave of fear washed over me instantly, causing me to tremble visibly in front of him. "Wha..wh-what?"
"You heard me." He took a sip of his drink, spilling some of it down the front of his chin. And then he looked up at me as I stood frozen in my tracks. "What are you waiting for, Slug? I SAID STRIP!!!"
"No..." I said, my bottom lip quivering as I took a step towards the stairs.
"I you're thinking about running out of here...go for it. I don't care." He said. "But I guarantee you, come Monday morning...your whole life as you know it is going to be over. No more games. No more secrets. Trust me..if you think high school was hard before, you ain't seen nothing yet." That's when he added something that hurt me even more. "And that goes for Tanner too. I'm pretty sure his family isn't going to take too kindly to having yet 'another' abnormality in their perfect little family. Not after his cousin Jackie. I'm pretty sure that he's gonna get the worst of it in the end. Would you really want that to be all your fault? Hmm?"
"You son of a bitch..." I sobbed, but he seemed unphased. "I'm NOT doing it!"
"I can wait all night. Take your time. I've been waiting a long time to see what it's like to admire your body without having to take little peeks at you in the gym locker room. Not that I didn't get my fair share of eye candy...being so close to you and all." He smiled as he stood up from the barstool, and stumbled a second before steadying himself. "If you taste even half as good as you look...I might just make you stay overnight."
I sniffled, feeling a tear run down my cheek. "Chris...."
"Shhhhh...save it for later. Right now, I just want you to strip. Start with your shirt." He stepped closer, a bit of a growing bulge in his sweatpants. "C'mon...how bad could it be? You give me a little of what I want, and you get to go home, wash it off in the shower, and if you're lucky, I might just let you scurry back to your little secret in peace. That's fair, isn't it? Hmmm?"
"None of this...is going to mean anything. So why even do it? Why don't you just let me go home?"
"No...see that's where you're wrong. This is going to mean a LOT. To me, anyway. You've been smiling in my face, and giggling, and hugging, and being adorable for a long time now. All I'm asking is that you make good on your temptations. That's all. Who knows? You might even enjoy it."
"You have no idea what telling people about me is going to do to me. Or to my life. Or to Tanner's life...please! Just stop this right now!"
"You're not stripping, Derrick..."
"I'm NOT gonna strip for you!" I said louder, but Chris just walked behind me with a smirk. I felt my whole body tighten up as he wrapped his arms around me. "No...stop it!"
"Shhhhh...you know you're not gonna leave. And you know you're not going to talk me out of this either. So why waste the tears, huh? Just relax...and let me make you feel good, ok?" Chris slowly slid his hands under my shirt, and my skin began to crawl as he rubbed softly over the surface of my stomach. He affectionately rested his chin on my shoulder, and I could smell the alcohol on his breath as he whispered in my ear. "Now isn't this nice. Two old friends, getting to know each other a little bit better than before. This has been a long time coming, you know? It was going to happen eventually. I mean...I was telling you the truth when I said that I wanted you. I've had feelings for you ever since I first learned your name. Heh...it used to give me chills just to say it. 'Slug' seemed to be a bit easier for me."
I felt his lips kiss my cheek softly, and he sighed from the contact. I don't know if it was the fear of what was happening, or if a part of me was aroused' by any of this, but I felt myself very slowly beginning to harden against my control. I closed my eyes and wished for it to go away, but Chris' slow moving circles on my skin only made it worse.
He sucked my earlobe into his mouth for a second, and said, "Why don't we get this shirt off? Lift your arms up." He tried to pull my shirt up, but I kept my arms down at my sides defiantly, more tears running out of my eyes. Chris gnashed his teeth, and gave me a harsh pinch on my side. "I said LIFT YOUR ARMS!" I lowered my head, but did as he said. I raised both arms, and Chris marveled as he lifted the fabric over my head and left me standing there shirtless in the middle of his basement. It was as if he had fallen in love all over again. "My God, you're beautiful." He whispered, running his hands over my soft shoulders and down the length of my arms. He moved closer to kiss the nape of my neck, and then wrapped his arms around my flat stomach again, pulling me tight up against him.
"Chris....? What about your Dad?" I whimpered, hoping that it would somehow keep this from going any further. It was a lame attempt, I know...but..I had to do SOMETHING besides just stand there.
"Let's not talk about him right now, ok, honey?" He moaned, kissing my collarbone lovingly.
"No...I mean...what if he comes home?"
"He's not coming home."
"How do you know?"
"BECAUSE..." He said angrily, but then tried to hold back from shouting. "...I just know. Ok? He's not coming home. He never comes home. He never STAYS home. He never IS home. Alright? So just...don't spoil this for me."
Keep pressing that nerve, Derrick. Maybe he'll forget all about this and send me home. "Maybe he'll come back early. Maybe he'll catch you down here with me, and you'll be in big trouble...kissing a boy in the basement."
"He's NOT coming back early, and we're going to do a lot more than kiss down here. Believe me." Chris reached for my belt and began to undo it as he kissed me behind the ear and started to push his hips into me. I could feel him...hard and pulsing, pushing into my ass again and again through our pants. He was already breathing hard, almost panting, and he was just so hungry to finally get a real taste of me at last. "Jesus, Derrick....mmmmm...."
"I'm just saying...it would be hard to explain, you know...if he walked in...and..." Chris suddenly let go of me, and I felt a harsh shove from behind, almost knocking me flat on my face.
"WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST SAY???" He screamed. "I know what you're doing, and it's fucking pathetic! Things were just starting to get interesting, and you had to go and screw it all up!"
"I'm...I'm not trying to screw things up, Chris, I just thought..."
"No, shut up!" He growled. "Very cute. Very clever. You want to get my mind all twisted around something else so I'll leave you alone, right? Huh?" He grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back to where I was standing before. "Well it's not gonna work, you hear me? You're wasting your time. Now take off the rest of your clothes. EVERYTHING! Pants, shoes, socks, boxers, every last shred! NOW!" He walked in a slow circle around me as I very timidly reached to finish undoing my belt buckle. "Slow around all you want, I've got all night. And you're not going anywhere until I'm finished 'using' you to feel good the way you used ME to feel good."
Was I seriously doing this? Was any of this worth it? When I thought about it all, it seemed to be completely illogical that I would allow Chris to practically rape me against my will. But...it wasn't really against my will, was it? Chris was giving me a very clear and open choice. All I had to do was let go of the secret. All I had to do was tell the truth, and come clean about who I really am, to everyone I care about. In the end, the ones I care about and who care about me are the only ones who matter, right? It should be an easy decision. It should be a choice that requires no hesitation at all.
And if that's so....then why am I still undoing my pants? Why am I lowering the zipper? Even through tears, I stood there trembling helplessly as I began to shimmy my way out of my pants...letting them puddle at my feet I stopped, standing in my boxers, a fear induced tent jutting out in front of me.
Chris waited a moment, and then with an evil smirk, he said, "Keep going. Don't stop now, we're just getting to the good parts."
"Chris...I'm begging you...please don't make me do this?" I sniffled.
"Oh? Now you want to talk? You want to 'bond'? We can talk. You know how I just live for your conversation, cutie pie." He walked around me and placed the palms of both hands on my ass. "Mmmmm...this feels soooo much better when you don't have any pants on." He gave my cheeks a squeeze, and then continued. "So....while we wait for you to finish your little 'striptease' here...what should we talk about? Hmm?" He snapped his fingers and said, "I know. Since you brought up the subject of Dad's...where's yours, huh?"
"Well, I mean...your mom is obviously your only guardian. No signs of a father figure in your house anywhere. So...where is he?"
"I'll do what you want, Chris. There's no need to be mean."
"Mean? Me? Oh come on now...you got to ask me. Now, I'm asking you" I didn't speak, but as old thoughts and emotions flooded my mind, the warm tears began to pour out of my eyes with a vengeance, and I couldn't hold them back anymore. I held my breath, trying my best to hold it in...but the truth is...those memories always made me weak inside. Too weak to stand, too weak to fight, too weak to even speak. Chris was standing behind me, leaning against the wall, and when he didn't hear an answer from me, he said, "It's either talk about your dear old dad...oh it's back to the strip show. I'm anxious for either one."
I closed my eyes, wishing this would al go away. "......Chris...." I said, barely above a whisper.
"So where is he? Do you even know who your father is? Were you some late night 'accident' between a waitress and a customer who was hungry for more than a slice of cherry pie at the diner?" He was pushing every button he could, hoping to humiliate and hurt me as much as possible before taking me, body and soul. And I just....STOOD there! "Did they get married? Did he walk out on your mom before you were born? After you were born? Did he find another family? Did he get shot robbing a bank? What happened? Where is he now? Huh?" Chris grabbed the back of my shoulders, and kissed the back of my neck, enjoying his petty tortures. "Huh? Where is Derrick the Destitute's deadbeat dad these days?"
"He's dead." The words had escaped my lips so softly, so silently, that I didn't even realize that I had said them until I felt Chris' grip loosen ever so slightly on my shoulders. There was a long pause, an eternal moment of silence, and my throat burned with the involuntary confession. I don't know if it was anger, or disgust, but I went further. I never talk about my father, to anyone...but since he wanted to open the floodgates, here it is. "He got sick. We don't know when, we don't know why. But by the time doctors found it...it was too late to do anything about it. It was....maybe 8 months...give or take...and I watched him get smaller and smaller. Until, eventually, he had to go and live at the hospital."
Chris was quiet for a moment, his smile all but gone from his face. And he said, "Derrick...I didn't know that..he...."
"No...you DIDN'T know, did you?" I snarled, turning around to look him in the face. "You never took the time to know anything about me. Ever. You don't know what it was like to see your own father hooked up to a machine day after day. Or what it's like to worry that every time you hug him, it might be the last time. And you'll NEVER know what it's like to hear the doctor's say, 'oh...we're sorry, but your insurance doesn't cover this.' And no money, means no help...because they're not PAID enough to give a shit about the suffering of another human being. No, Chris..I'll just BET you didn't know!" The more I spoke, the more tears came rolling out in buckets, but I clenched my fists, and I stared him right in the eyes until he was almost pressed into the paneling of the wall. "But I can tell you one thing...my father died two years ago...and the settlement he left behind...he left for ME. Me and my mom. And he made her promise that I would have the best of everything someday. That I would get the best education possible...and MAKE something of myself so I don't HAVE to get sick. And I don't HAVE to sleep on the couch any more. And I don't HAVE eat cold cereal for three meals a day. And I DON'T have to sit there and let some rich doctor tell me he can't use what he knows to fucking HELP me until I've gotten my bank account and insurance papers in order!!!" I shouted. "So....yeah. He's gone. My father is gone. And every penny that he left behind...was spent on sending me to a bullshit school...with bullshit teachers...way from ALL of my friends back home! JUST so that I could have the 'wonderful' opportunity to get laughed at, bullied, teased, and beaten up, but wealthy little brats like you who can't STAND not having everything they want when they want it! My mother works her ASS off...almost very day to the point of exhaustion...JUST so she can keep me there, and maybe buy me some new clothes every once in a while, or take us out for pizza just ONCE a month! I watch her ache and moan and pass out in front of the TV every night, and drive a piece of shit car back and forth to work, and hide her sad eyes from me every time an unpaid bill comes in the mail. JUST so I can exist in the same fucking building with people like you...who whine and cry about how I don't deserve to be there. Well, I worked my fingers to the BONE to prove that I'm worthy of being there! And I'm NOT gonna let a single ONE of you assholes break me! Because I'm not DOING it for you! I'm not even doing it for ME any more! It's because my father gave everything he had to give me a fighting chance in a world that doesn't care about what's in a person's heart, as long as what's in his wallet exceeds it. And I'm gonna take it. I'm gonna take whatever I can get. And one day I'll be bigger than ALL of you! One day, my mom is going to be able to take the whole fucking summer off and never leave the comfort of her living room couch! And one day, I'm gonna buy my dad an actual tombstone...instead of trying to find some tiny little bronze plaque in the ground." With that said, I took a good look at what I was doing, and I made my choice.
I pulled up my pants, and started fastening them up as fast as I could, my hands shaking. Chris said, "Hey...wait...what are you doing?"
"What does it look like? I'm leaving."
"Derrick...don't go. Ok? Forget what I said, just...stay for a while."
"Fuck you. I'm not doing this. Find yourself a pillow to hump."
Chris saw me pick up my shirt and slip it back over my head. He said, "Fine. But you know what happens when you leave."
But it had no effect. Not this time. "Do what you want. I don't care any more. Tell the whole school. Tell the whole fucking WORLD, I'm gay! Just don't expect me to ever talk to you again, because I'm not. You really crossed the line this time. So...I just hope all this was worth it."
Impact. My words...my actions...they had finally done some damage. And I saw a few tears drip out of Chris' eyes as I headed towards the stairs. "Derrick..." He sobbed softly, "All I ever wanted was a fair chance. All I ever wanted was for you to want me back."
I saw him standing there, slumped against that wall, and even after all he had done to us...my heart still went out to him. I guess you could say that I've been where he is now. I told him, "I know. But I'm just not yours to have." I had to leave, and I knew that I was taking a chance on ruining the rest of my life by not giving into Chris' demands...but this had already gone way beyond what it should have been. I started walking up the steps, but made sure to look back to say, "I'm sorry if you got hurt, Chris. I really am. I meant every word I said when I told you that I care about you. And I always will, no matter what." The words only made his tears worse, and he tried to wipe them away, to no avail. "I hope you get your heart back. And I hope you give it to someone special someday. They're really gonna be blown away by you...I guarantee it." Then I told him, "Goodbye Chris."
The finality in that moment seemed to make us both rather emotional over the situation, but if I didn't start walking away now, I doubt I'd be able to. Not with him being left so....devastated. But I didn't look back, and I didn't pay attention to his sniffling either. I simply unlocked the basement door...found my way to the front of his house...and left.
It had gotten considerably dark outside, and I swear that my walk from his doorstep back to the bus stop was one of the longest in history. But you want to know something strange? The further away I got from his house..the more 'freedom' I felt inside. What if he does get on the phone and tell everybody? What if he does show up at my mom's job and blab to her and her co-workers? What if I go to school on Monday, and I've got the word 'fag' spray painted on my locker, and I'm getting spit on in the halls? They were questions that I had asked myself a million times before...
..But for the first time, I thought..."So what?"
If anything, I'd be liberated out of this fucked up emotional 'prison' that I had been building for myself ever since my first hormone self activated and started searching for another boy to kiss on the cheek. What if he told...and Tanner and I could finally walk down the high school corridors hand in hand? What if I could kiss him in the halls, or in the lunch cafeteria, just because I felt the urge and wanted to express my love for him at that particular moment? What if my mom was ok with it, and understood...supporting that part of me like she's supported every part of me so far? As I walked back to that bus stop, the night air surrounding me with its cool grasp...I began asking myself a entirely different set of questions for the first time in my life. And at that moment, I was almost hoping that he'd go through with it. I was almost hoping that Chris would set me free.
I got on the bus and traveled home, my mind lost in a daze, but not the miserable fog of confusion that one would expect from being blackmailed, threatened, and exposed. No...this was different. And it might be wishful thinking at this point...but I think everything is going to be ok.
I really think everything is going to be ok.