This story is work as tribute to an old friend who passed away before he could finish his story. Let me know what you think. Feedback is always welcome. I want to make this as perfect as I can. I hope to be able to revise and finish some of his other stories as well. If someone would like to proofread and edit I'd be most appreciative.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

jayasgreen@gmail.com

 

For Green.

 


A HERO IN THE HALLWAYS

By Jay as Green
Part One: Synergy

 

Prologue

 

I could always sense when there was something wrong with Craig. He always retreated into himself. When something really troubled him he couldn't focus. I knew he wouldn't tell me what was wrong if I asked. All I could do was wait for him to tell me.

 

"It's all over," I reassured him. "She's gone now. We can finally live our lives."

 

He smiled and the cloud over his face disappears. "I know," he told me and he takes my hand. "I'm gonna miss you is all."

 

"I'll be back in a couple of weeks," I tell him as he grabs my bag. I follow him to my car. "Then you have me all to yourself." He puts my bag in the Trunk and leans against the car.

 

I know he's worried about me. We had been through so much the two of us. Craig was my salvation and I would never let him go again. He loved me and that's all I could ask from him, but he gave me more and I wouldn't let him forget it.

 

"It's just this is so sudden," Craig said. "Why can't you just send them your manuscript?"

 

"Because they already have it. They need me to go over some contracts and they also want me to take some photographs for the cover." A publishing company had optioned my book. It was my story and I couldn't be happier. I could share all I've been through in my voice. "Come on we have to go or I'll miss my flight."

 

What I didn't tell Craig was that I wouldn't be back for more than a couple of days before I would have to leave again. I wasn't ready to have that conversation. My publishers wanted to take me on tour to promote my book to movie studios that might be interested in optioning the rights.

 

If I was honest with myself I was terrified. I could feel the anxiety creeping across my body. Two weeks away seemed like a lifetime but to leave Craig again I worried that he would be very mad at me.

 

"Come on I'm driving," Craig nodded as I get into the drivers seat. Craig walked around and sat in the passenger's seat next to, me grabbing my hand. "When you see me next I will be a published author and you can be proud of me."

 

I kissed him on the cheek and he smiled. "I'm always proud of you," He said. "I'll always be here." I pulled the car into the road. We were going to be ok.

 

Craig and I were finally on track and we were free to be everything to one another. We lived through one year of hell and loss but we made it out of the other end fine. Bruised and battered but we were fine. I promised myself that I would never let anything come between us again. My Books release would mark a happy end to all the trouble we had been through.

 

The car that rammed into me had other ideas. He hit us hard forcing my car to lurch sideways then it flipped. Craig held me in place then he wasn't in the car anymore. A second later I heard a distant beeping sound. Something is attached to my face. I struggle to pull it off wondering where I was. I was in a white sterile room. The machine I was attached to beeped every other second. I was in a hospital bed.

 

"It's hard to say Mr. Williams. We won't know the extent of this until your son wakes up," I heard someone say. It sounds like they're near but I couldn't see where. I barely open my eyes when I feel the pain on the side of my head. It's throbbing.

 

A nurse walks into the room she checks something in a binder then notices that I'm awake. She hurriedly walked out of the room. A doctor and two other people walked into the room a second later.

 

"Jonathan," he said as he approached my bedside. "How are you feeling?" He shined a light in my eyes.

 

"Who is Jonathan?" I asked.

 

Chapter One

 

"How different the world can look from the top of a building," I said to Arthur. "Everything is small, insignificant, and yet so full of life. People move in and out of cars and buildings, they shop, they talk and live out their lives." People are oblivious at the beauty our world gives us as the clouds in the sky slowly move away and the sun takes away the light. It's so unlike my life. I stand still when everything moves.

 

They said I had a car accident that took my memory. They said I was a gifted writer and that I had written a novel based on my life before the accident. Everyone wanted me to remember who I was. I've lived two years in the shadow of someone I would never know.

 

"John you are distracted again," Arthur said trying to hide the annoyance in his voice. I'm always distracted. Always in a cloud as I search for meaning and connections to the world around me. Part of me wanted to remember. The other part of me wants to distance himself as far away from this supposed past I wasn't sure belonged to me. Arthur is my literary agent and he wants me to sign away that past. "Think of your future," he said.

 

I turned away from the window and tried to focus on what he was selling me on. "This time next week you could be living in a high rise just like this one John." Arthur said handing me a folder.

 

Hallway Hero, my novel was a smash hit. A best seller on it's fifth week at number one. Boosted by my memory loss and everyone wanted a piece of it and me. Three movie studios wanted the rights to the novel. Two Broadcast networks want to make movies based on it. Another wanted to produce a TV series inspired by it. At the same time, I am being pulled from interview to book signing, to store signing. Someone I wrote about in the novel is claiming that I wrongfully portrayed him in my writing, and wants restitution. It was all taking a toll on me.

 

"I'm not sure if I'm ready Arthur," I told him and he frowned no longer trying to hide his annoyance.

 

"At least let me go through these with you," Arthur said. For the next hour I listened struggling to wrap my mind around what he is saying. "This contract states that you have the right to write the screenplay. If you decide that you don't want to write it, then you have final say on the screenplay they produce. However the contract also states that they have the right to produce any future novels you might write. I don't think we should limit ourselves just yet."

 

I was a prisoner to my past. It completely owned me, and I found it so foreign. Arthur continued to speak about numbers and counter offers but I was already lost to him.

 

"John, this is going to make you a very wealthy young man. You cannot postpone a decision any longer," Arthur said. "The Publishers are getting ready to take action against you. Look them over and call me with your decision by Monday. And John read the damn book already."

 

I grabbed my bag and placed the folder in it. Arthur was angry with me. I knew he worked hard and I knew I was being unfair. He was just doing his job. I also knew he was going to call my parents as soon as I left.

  

I walk out of the office building and I head towards the subway. Most days I'm no one here in New York City. Nobody knows more than I do and nobody seems to care. I liked it that way. I was just another guy riding the subway, like millions of other people.

 

Sometimes I saw a person reading my book. Some looked at me, and then back at the dust jacket, and think that maybe, just maybe, I was the smiling boy in the cover. Some were too shy to ask but they would wonder for long after I got off at my station. Others would look at my somber face and see no trace of that boy. They would pass by me and feel silly for ever thinking that I could be him. Every time I remind myself that I knew I wasn't that guy.

 

On the train platform a street musician was playing a slow tune. A tune I knew I've heard before. A strange feeling overtakes me and I feel my heart beating faster. The musician's song is somber and slow. I listened closely, wondering how I could know that song. The word Love comes to mind as he plays. "Love," I whisper. "Why Love?"

 

There is a girl holding a copy of my book. She smiles at me when she sees me looking. "Have you read this book?" She asked me. I shake my head, saying no. "I love this book. I've read it three times."

 

"Wow, is it that good?" I ask but I'm not ready for an answer.

 

"Oh yeah. You should read it. Here, have my copy. I have another at home." She hands me her copy.

 

"Do you have a pen?" I ask.

 

"Um, sure," she says, looking through her purse. "Here, but why do you need a pen?"

 

"So I can autograph the book for you." Her eyes open wide when she recognizes my face.

 

"Oh my God, I can't believe it." She thanked me a million times before I left the train.

 

"Some people think that everyone's a celebrity," said a man from behind me. I smile as he walks pass me.  I guess there is no harm in making someone happy.

 

Was I ever happy? I wonder. Do I want know who I am or rather who I was? That part of me that wants a connection answers me by making me walk toward the big bookstore Chain.

 

The bookstore had a two story banner advertising my book as a New York Times best seller. The banner has a picture of me standing at a podium. In the picture I looked happy. There is confetti all around me. In the photo I looked so full of life.

 

The store had three floors. I took the escalator to the top floor. There were copies of "Hallway Hero" everywhere. I grab a paperback copy from one of the tables and paid for it at the counter.

 

The coffee shop on the second floor was almost empty except for a woman sitting by the window. I ordered a cup of tea and sat at a back table, and for the first time I could remember I opened my book to page one.

 

Chapter Two

From Hallway Hero

 

They were just hallways, hollow spaces between class periods that really shouldn't have mattered. I didn't know then but they were going to become the scariest and the most destructive part of my life. You see I used to think that no one could take me down, that I was always one step ahead. As far as I was concerned I was untouchable. Blinded by popularity and social status, but at Lakeside High a whisper could destroy you.

  

"I am not afraid of change and neither should you. I am afraid to go to a school that is afraid of change. Why don't we make our education that much easier? Do you need more time to get from class to class? Do you want more time to study?  I `m the person that can help give you that. Trust in me to carry you through our junior year. Vote for me. I'm pathetic." I read from my speech. Michael was listening as I read.

 

"So you care a little. How is that pathetic? Helene's going to shit when she hears your speech." Michael said as we turned into the main hallway.

 

Michael was my best friend and always supportive. He and I were inseparable since our first day of freshman year when he stopped some football meathead from landing on me during gym class. I watched as he tied back his long black hair. Part of me always felt safe around him.

 

"Look at me, every day I try something new. I join the student government, I do charity work, I help around the school and I'm on the basketball team. I'm trying to change something that I know won't change. With all that I do, I have no time for my friends. Soon I won't have any."

 

"And what do you call me," Michael said pretending to be hurt which seemed odd from a six foot tall muscular guy.

 

"I said soon," I said and ignored his made-up pain. "You can never have enough friends."

 


"Right, listen I have to go to peer mediation," he said dismissing my comment.

 

"Why?"



 

"They're thinking that me and Charlie are going to fight again because of that small argument we had in homeroom."

 

"You mean that small argument where you almost hit him with a desk," I said, remembering how mad they both were. It was like two jacked roosters in a cockfight. Every one just slowly walked away from them. I had to pull Michael away before they killed each other. They've had it in for each other ever since I could remember. No one really knows why but at least once a month tempers flare and I always get to play the peacemaker. Not a role I'm particularly fond of since they're both bigger than me.

 

"Hey, It's not my fault that he's a dick," he said, putting his hands up.

 


"Well, just make sure you don't deflect your anger towards me," I said. "Now come on we're going to be late."

 

The main hallway was where Lakeside High's popular crowd gathered. It was our turf. Come in uninvited and bear the consequences. Some less thick-skinned kids would risk being late to class than pass through here. I witnessed the slaughter on many occasions.

 

Near my locker a group of four guys I called the all American dream team were snickering at something no doubt dumb. They reminded me of the cheap lights my grandmother used on her Christmas tree. Take one out and the rest go out. They were all the same person really. I mean they all play football, they have cheerleader girlfriends and they all live on the same block. Jason, Tray, Drew and have course Charlie all noticed me as I approached.

 

Michael tapped me on the shoulder and made his exit. "See you in class," He yelled back leaving the hallway.

 

"Hey John what's up," said Charlie, they all followed suit.

 


"Nothing much, just reciting my speech," I said. Jason was the Dream teams leader. His six-foot muscular frame towered over me and I tried to ignore the stirring in my pants.

 


"I can't believe you have the guts to do this. You know half the school hates you," said Charlie.

 

"Yeah?" I asked. "It doesn't matter. The other half likes me and that's all that matters." Which caused them all to laugh.

 


"Yeah, they're nobody, but you know you got my vote," Charlie said and they the rest of the guys grunted in agreement.

 

THEY WERE NOBODY. How could anyone get away with saying that? I wanted to smack Charlie. I Put on a smile and said, "Cool, thanks guys, I have to go practice my speech."

 

A few lockers down from the Dream Team, amongst the cloud of body spray and squeaky talking, stood the cheerleaders. I loved them all, and they loved me. They were all self absorbed, shallow, and conniving bitches, but that's what they were supposed to be. I mean they were cheerleaders. I respected them on a different level then their boyfriends. They were also smarter so I had to keep up appearances. No one wanted to be on a cheerleader's bad side.

 

"Hi John!" Christina, Jen and Stephanie yelled.

 


"Hi girls," They all smiled as I passed them.

 

"He's so cute," I heard one of them say.

 

"I wish he would just ask Mel out. She has it so bad for him," said another. I wondered if they know how loud they could be when they tried to whisper.

 

"Girls! Girls! I am still within hearing distance from you," I yelled back. They all giggled and continued with their conversation.

 

To the popular group I am just like them. It bothered me sometimes but this is high school and being part of something was easier than not being part of something. I guess you could call me a hypocrite, but why would anyone willingly make his or her own life more difficult? Nobody made fun of us, not to our faces at least, with the exception the punks, but no one cared about them. Everyone wanted to be like us. Everyone wanted to be invited to parties and wanted to wear the nicest clothes. The foremost disadvantage being that you had an image to maintain.

 

I walked further down the hallway, right by the preps and those that fall into our group by default because their parents are rich. Nobody particularly liked them, but they were a part of our crowd nonetheless. They all waved at me and gave me thumbs up.

 

"You guys are going to vote for me right?"

 


"Sure," they all said in random order.

 


"Thanks guys."

 

At the end of the hallway one of the punks was mocking me while the others laughed. "What, you guys aren't voting for me?" I asked. I mean, what were they doing here anyways. I felt a hand on my shoulder.

 

"We'll take care of this," Charlie said as he pulled me aside. I watched as the dream team chased the punks out of the hallway. Charlie looked back at me and flashed me a smile.

 

The auditorium was decorated with red, white and blue with streamers and stars. On the stage the podium was also decorated. I walked closer to it and I clicked a button turning the microphone on. I tapped the microphone took a deep breath before reciting my speech.

 

It wasn't always like this. I had a simpler life before Lakeside High took over me. In seventh grade I had Craig. He was everything to me. He loved me and I loved him. Best friends since forever.  I still remembered his Green eyes and the way he always seemed so far away when he was thinking.

 

As I finish my speech someone in the back row was clapping.

 

"Who's there?"

I asked. I couldn't see anyone past the first few rows.

 

"I like your speech," the person clapping said.

 

"Who are you?" A kid I've never seen before stepped into the light. "What are you doing here?"



 

"Hi, Jonathan."

 

"Do I know you?"

 

"No."


 

"Then how do you know my name?" I asked.

 


"Well, you just said it at the end of your speech," he said, as he approached me.

 

He was beautiful. If I weren't so deep into acting straight so my whole social, educational, and personal life wouldn't collapse, I would have been all over this guy.

 

"What are you doing here?"

 

"I was sitting over there waiting for my cousin when you walked in. You looked determined to finish your speech, so I didn't bother you."

 

I barely heard what he said; his gorgeous grey eyes had me transfixed. "Who is your cousin?" 



 

"Helene Mayer," he said, causing me to freeze.

 

Helene Mayer is one of the other candidates against whom I was campaigning. She had hated me since fourth grade, when I accidentally tripped over her at lunch and my meatball sandwich landed on her, forever labeling her Meatball Mayer. She was a total bitch. Or should I say the total bitch. I have seen her make freshmen drop out of school because they were terrified of her.

 

"You are Meatball Mayer's cousin?" He looked confused.

 


"Meatball Mayer?" he asked. "Yeah I guess I am." He laughed really loudly.

 


"So I guess I don't have your vote."

 


"Now, I didn't say that."

 


"So you are going to vote for me over your cousin?"

 

"Well, technically I can't vote."

 


"Why not?"

 

"This isn't my high school. I would if I went here. I would always vote for a cute guy like you." I blushed a deep shade of red just as the auditorium doors burst open. Meatball stormed in with a disgusted look on her face.

 

"I see you met the bastard. Don't talk to him Dominick, he's an asshole," She bellowed from the back.

 

"Bye Dominick, Later Meatball," I yelled, walking away. The anger that manifested on her face was a mixture of hate and outrage potent enough to burn the devil.

 

"Fuck you!" she yelled back as I reached the door. Dominique grabbed my arm and put a piece of paper in my shirt pocket.

 

"Call me later," he said.

 

Gossip is like a heat seeking missile that is directed at you whether you like it or not. Many had fallen to its power here at lakeside. Luckily, I had become adept at avoiding it. I went through great lengths to make sure everyone liked me. I made appearances at parties, flirted with the cheerleaders, joined the yearbook committee all to keep up the guise of me I wanted them to see. At the same time I never let myself get too close to anyone. Never dated, never took anyone to parties. If they asked I told them I was dating someone at another school and left it at that. As much as I hated myself it's just the way it was.

 

 

"Hey," said Michael as I walk by the main office. He was sitting in a corner looking through his cellphone.

 


"How did it go?" I asked.

 


"It went."

 


"What do you mean?"

 


"Well, I'm not supposed to talk about it, but he thought I was going to kill him for." He hesitated then leaned closer.

 


"For what?"

 


Michael looked around and quietly said, "John, he's gay."

 


"No shit! Are you serious?" I asked a little too loudly.

 

"Shh John you can't tell anyone. If you do, I'll get in trouble."

 


"But he's the captain of the football team."

 

"Yeah so? He can play. I don't care if he's gay. I just don't like him. He's always talking shit about Mel. I mean, I didn't really mean it when I called him a fag earlier but he thought I was going to tell the school."

 

"Are you sure you are all right with this?" I fished for answers. If he were all right with Charlie being gay, then he would be fine with me being gay.

 

"Since when are you a homophobe?"

 

"I'm not, it's just that he's the first to... you know? He's a part of our group." I thought about myself and wondered how different it would be if Michael knew about me. Would he hate me and never talk to me again?

 

"Yeah, just keep that quiet because it means my ass and if I'm going down you are coming with me." I nodded and we headed towards English class.

 

Charlie was just like me and that's all I could focus on. I wondered if he ever thought about me. I needed to find a way to get close to him. My fantasies took hold and I didn't notice the door, smacking hard into it. I bounce and hit the ground.

 

"Hey are you OK?" Michael asked as he pulls me up. "You walked right into the door. That must be some speech."

 

"Huh, what?" I noticed that I still had the speech in my hand. "Yeah, I'm just nervous."

 

"Don't be you'll win," Michael stated as a matter of fact.

 

My English class was like a reunion of sorts for the juniors in our group. I always sat with Michael in the back and everyone piled in around us. Whoever wasn't in our group sat in the front closer to the teacher and the recipient of countless flying projectiles from the dream team.

 

"Hi John." said Melissa Browning.

 


"Hi Mel," I said as I sat behind her.

 

Mel was one of those people you could always feel at ease around. The most beautiful girl in the school and I always found a way to let her down. Michael was completely smitten with her and worshipped the ground she walked on. He became a big gooey mess when she was around. Part of me always hoped she noticed.

 


"Are you taking anybody to the dance?" she asked. I could see the yearning on her face. I also felt the stare death stare Michael was giving me.

 


"You know, I don't know if I'm going."

 


"Well, I would like you to go," She said barely audible.

 

I instantly felt bad and I had to think fast. "You know my buddy Michael here," I said and Michael kicked me under the desk. "Ow!"

 

Mel Looked at Michael like she hadn't noticed he sat next to me. I could see the smile spread on Michael's face. I could barf. He had it bad.

 

"Michael are you without a date for the dance?" Mel asked him and I could sense some gooeyness coming from her too. He would thank me later I was sure.

 

"Would you like to take me?" She asked and he stood up almost knocking the table over.

 

"Hey man if you break this I'm not helping you pay for it," I said but I could have been yelling at him from another planet because his only focus was Mel.

 

"Mel I would love to take you to the dance," Michael said and leaned in to take her hand. "I would be honored." I watched in utter disgust as he kissed her hand.

 

"Then it's a date," Mel said and turned back to her seat. Every few moments she would glance back at him.

 

Charlie walked in, sitting next to me. Michael stared straight ahead ignoring Charlie but Mel was the only person on his mind now. I was happy for him. I tried to keep my composure but he turned towards me and said, "Hi john."

 


"Hey," I replied, nervously quietly hoping to play it cool.

 

"Do you have a minute after class?" he asked me.

 


"Sure but you have to make it quick. I have to give my speech," I answered.

 

The class dragged on for what seemed like ten hours before the bell rang. I waited for Charlie outside the classroom. Some of my classmates greeted me, wishing me luck as they left the class. Charlie was the last to come out.

 

"Hey, let's talk in here," he said, before he pulled me into the classroom.

 

"So what do you need to talk about?" I asked, wondering why he wanted to talk to me.

 

"Well, I just wanted to say good luck with your campaign. You have my vote."

 


"Thank you Charlie, but is that all you want to talk to me about?"

 

"Well, John."

 

"Charlie?" I was getting anxious and I could sense the nervousness in him. He was struggling with what he wanted to tell me.

 

"I like you John."

 


"I like you too."

 


"No John I mean like a boy likes another boy," he whispered then kissed me.

 

Chapter Three

 

The ring of my cell phone tore me away from the book. I hit answer on the screen. "Hello mom."

 

"Hi honey, how did the meeting go?" My mother asked.

 

"It went," I tell her. I wasn't ready to tell her more and I knew my mother would respect that. She always waited for me to tell her anything. Never prying and I loved her for that. It always made it easier to tell her what was going on with me when I was ready.

 

"Well honey, you do what you think is right."

 

"I can't do it, not without knowing what I'm selling."

 

"I can understand that. It's your life. Dad I want you to be happy with whatever you decide."

 

My parents had been nothing if not supportive of me since my accident. They never read the book out of respect to me. They said that I had asked them not to before my memory loss. After reading that first chapter I guess I'm kind of glad they didn't.

 

"I just finished reading the first chapter."

 

"Oh john, that's great. I'm glad you've finally got around to reading it."

 

"Mom, I have some questions."

 

"I would imagine that you would," she says and I sense apprehension in her voice.

 

"Well, I guess the first question is where is this guy Michael? It seems like we were good friends before. How come he hasn't been around?"

 

She hesitated before she spoke again. "Well honey I think you should finish reading the book before we talk about him."

 


"Why, mom? I just want to know where he is."

 


"It's for the best dear, I promise. Sometimes you need to discover things on your own and not hear it from us," she told me. "You read the book first and I promise that I will answer every question you have."

 


"I see." I was frustrated. I guess on a logical level I understood why she wouldn't answer me. It's just that, when you couldn't remember a thing, you fed on all the information you could get. The fact that I was living a reclusive life wasn't lost on me.

 

"In time john. Answers will come." She reassured me. "That novel will tell you, in your own words, more than I can tell you."

 

"Mom, I have to go. I have an interview tonight."

 

"OK honey. Please call Mel, she's in the city for school."

 

My apartment was a couple of blocks from the bookstore. I moved there a year before. I wanted to tell myself that it was easier than going back and forth every time I had an interview or a meeting with my agent. In reality I had to get away from Lakeside. I needed to be me however lonely that left me.

 

"Hello, Mr. Williams," said Randy the doorman when I reached my building. Randy was the buildings chief doorman. I liked Randy. He always made me smile every time you see him, even when you have a bad day. He had worked there for thirty-five years. He told me once that I was the only tenant one who ever said hello to him.

 

"Hi Randy, how was your day?"

 

"Just fine, just fine. A beautiful girl came by for you today. She said her name was Melissa and that she would be by later."

 

"Randy, if she comes by again please just send her up."

 

"Consider it done, Mr. Williams," he said with a smile as he held the door open for me.

 

My apartment was a cold lonely place. Sometimes I felt like there could be more life in it but its what I wanted. When I left Lakeside I took the first thing available and part of me was glad I did. I didn't belong in Lakeside and if a cold empty apartment is what got me away then so be it.

 

"You have three new messages. First message," the automated voice on the answering machine said when I pressed the play button.

 

I listen for the first message: "Hi john this is Mel. I just got to the dorms and I was wondering if we could go out for dinner or something. If I don't hear from you before three, I'll come by your apartment."

 

The answering machine clicked, "second message."

 

"Hi John this is Mel again, I was at your apartment but you weren't home. Please call my cell phone. I'll try to contact you again."

 

The machine clicked again, "third message."

 

"John this is Arthur. Please read over those contracts. We have a conference call with publishers on Friday. They want to go over them, too, before we sign. And John, I trust you remember that you have an interview tonight. Call my office tomorrow for next week's Schedule."

 

I shut the machine off cutting Arthur's message short then headed to my bedroom. Glad that my clothes had been delivered from the cleaners, I looked over my wardrobe. I picked out a shirt and a sports jacket. I also picked out a nice pair of jeans with white sneakers. I take a shower and brush my teeth. The phone rang as I leave the bathroom.

 

"Hello."

 

"Hi John. God you're hard to locate. I've been to your house and your door man said you were out."

 

"I'm sorry Mel I had a meeting with Arthur."

 

"Anything to celebrate?"

 

"I don't know yet."

 

"Oh, well, I just called to see if you wanted to meet me for dinner tonight?"

 

"Oh Mel, I can't do dinner," I told her.

 

"God, are you still avoiding people," she said. "Stop shutting me out."

 

"No. Mel, I would love to meet you, but I have an interview at seven. Maybe you could meet me at the studio."

 

"Sure. I'll meet you there, I just have to get settled here then I'll head over there."

 

I wanted to talk to Mel. She could give me the answers I was desperate to hear. Maybe it was unfair to meet her with ulterior motives. I felt guilty.

 

 "I'll send a car for you."

 

"Great. See you later."

 

The studio had an assistant show me to the green room. She made sure I had everything I needed, and introduced me to the producers of the show. It would be an hour until I'd be interviewed on air.

 

There are several other people in the greenroom. There is a man that I recognize from the news. He is a politician who ran his election campaign on an anti gay platform. I don't smile at him. He notices who I am, and immediately turns away.

 

Further in the room a stunning woman was chatting with a makeup artist about her make up. She smiled at me as I passed her. I thought she was an actress but I couldn't be too sure.

 

"Hey, I know you," The lady said. "You wrote Hallway Hero right?"

 

"Uh, Yeah." I answered, very embarrassed that I did't know her name.

 

"I love your book. It's great," She said as her assistant handed her a hard cover copy of Hallway Hero. She pushed it towards me. "Do you mind signing my copy?"

 

"Of course," I say, taking her copy. "Whom should I sign it for?"

 

"Sign it to Sandra," She says. "I can't assume everyone knows who I am. That is really refreshing actually."

 

I liked her. She wasn't offended and gladly took her copy back. "I'm sorry, I don't really follow a lot these days."

 

She smiled. "I understand. You have a big movie coming up I guess that keeps you plenty busy."

 

"Yeah I haven't signed on it yet," I let her know, wondering if she was one of the actresses the studio was considering.

 

"They're always trying to screw writers out of their material."

 

"No, actually they have been very generous. I just don't know if I should sell my story when I can't remember it."

 

"Oh yes, that's right. You lost your memory. Well, don't let them get to you. You do what you feel is right."

 

"Thank you," I said, noticing that the politician is looking at me.

 

"Sure, who knows maybe I'll have a part in the movie," she said as she's called out to her interview. I smiled as she winked at me. I watched as she followed the production assistant out of the green room.

 

"Make sure I'm not seen with him when we leave," The politician said to his aide. I rolled my eyes and I sat in a chair by a window on the opposite side of the room from the politician. I pulled out my paperback copy and lost myself in my words again.

 

 

Chapter Four

From Hallway Hero

 

I won the junior class election. I was president. Michael gave me a thumbs-up from the audience and the Dream Team cheered louder than the cheerleaders. I caught glimpses of Dominick as he sat next to Meatball, who wasn't happy with my being called for the president's position. He smiled at me, and I waved back. Meatball punched him hard in the side.

 

Charlie stood near the back clapping but he looked scared and uncomfortable. When he kissed me I panicked and ran away. I guess he probably thought I was straight and I would tell the whole school. I panicked because I liked it. I fell into my own insecurities and I ran.

 

Michael ran up on stage and gave me a hug. "You won, dude. I knew you could do it."

 

"Thanks, I was so nervous," I said.

 

"Yeah, I saw you," He said smugly. "I think Helene is going to murder you."

 


"I know," smiling as Mel approached us.

 

Mel won the vice president's spot. "I'm so happy we got elected," she said, giving me a hug. "God, did you see Meatball's face when you won? Did you see her face when they called her name as treasurer? She was so pissed."

 

"I know. I think she hates me more now than ever before. If that's even possible."



 

"Aw, don't let it get you down buddy," Michael said, as we stepped off stage.

 

Several students and teachers shook our hands as we made our way out of the auditorium. I nodded to Dominick as we passed him and his now furious cousin, Meatball, who was cursing something as we passed.

 

"Listen asshole I hate you. You took away from me one more thing I wanted, but you're going to pay. I'm going to be like your shadow from now on. So, if you fuck up, I'll be the first to know. Pray that I don't find out anything about you. You hear me you little fuck? Pray, fucking pray that I don't find out any little secrets you might hide," she said with her finger in my face. A teacher saw her cursing at me and reprimanded her.

 

"Hey, I'm sorry for my cousin. I never thought she would hate you so much," said Dominick. 
"It's a long story really. I just never let it faze me."

 

"She always takes it personal when she hates people. I mean she once beat me up `cause I got the game she wanted for Christmas. She still hates me. But she cuts me some slack because I'm family."

 

"Wow, and here I thought that her evil was just directed towards me."

 


"So would you like to tell me this story? Maybe over dinner?"

 

Wow, this guy was forward. I really wanted to go with him, but I was being given the eye from Melissa and Michael and I had a party to throw. Charlie was also glaring at us from across the auditorium. I needed to talk to him. He looked like he wanted to hurt Dominick.

 

"Um I can't, I kind of have plans with my friends tonight."

 

He gave a grumpy look that was totally adorable. "OK maybe some other time just call me OK. I really would like to get to know you Jonathan."

 

What was I doing? I could never go out with him. As much as I wanted to say yes this was never going to be a possibility.

 


"Thanks, I will. Bye, Dominick," I said hoping this would be the end of this.

 

I searched the auditorium for Charlie. I didn't see him, so I walked closer to Michael and Mel. I noticed how close they were standing. Did this really happen that quickly?

 

"Who was that? He was cute," Melissa asked.

 

"He's Meatball's cousin, Dominick. He wanted to apologize for Meatball's tantrum."

 

"Really? You should have invited him to the party," Michael said.

 

"Hey, have you seen Charlie?" I said dismissing his suggestion. I didn't want them to know how much I wished I did invite him.

 

"No. I haven't seen him," Michael said.

 

"I saw him leave a few minutes ago," said Melissa. "I think he went that way. He seemed upset."

 

"Shit. I need to talk to him." Michael looked pissed. Melissa gave me a questioning look.

 

"Why do you need to talk to him?" Melissa asked.

 

"I think he needs someone to speak to," I said, really hoping that I would get a chance to speak with him.

 

"I can't believe you, John." Michael shook his head and walked away. He was mad at me but he had it all wrong.

 

"What's up with him?" Mel asked.

 

"Melissa I can't tell you, OK? But I think Charlie really needs my help. I'll see you later at the party," I said, and I ran after Michael.

 

"Michael, wait."

 


"I can't believe you," he said and punched a locker.

 


"What?"



 

"I told you to keep quiet about Charlie," he yelled at me.

 


"I didn't say anything! You have to believe me you have this all wrong."

 


"Yeah, but just talking about him."

 


"Mike, he told me he liked me."

 


"He what?" Michael asked.

 

"After English class he wanted to talk to me. He told me he liked me then he kissed me."


 


"Shit man what did you do?" He asked his tone changing.

 


"I just walked away."

 


"Why, don't you like Him?"

 


"Huh?" the blood drained from my face. Michael knew. "Michael I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not."

 

"John I know you like him. I know you're like him and it doesn't bother me."

 


"Mike I'm not . . ."

 

"What, you're not gay? You have the hottest girl in school practically on your nuts and you never try anything."

 


"Mike I just likes her as a friend."

 


"Sure, and you weren't just literally jumping on Meatball's cousin's head back there."

 

I was now scared of what he just said and getting sick fast. "I need air." I jogged away from Michael. Iran until I found an empty classroom. It was coming and it was coming fast. I nearly reached the garbage can when it all came out. I heard the doors slam behind me, someone held me as I threw up.

 

"Let it go, you'll be alright," his deep voice said, as I vomited. When it stopped, he helped me over to a bench. It was Charlie. "I'll go get water." I watched him leave. He helped me, when I thought he needed my help.

 

Michael knew and he was fine with it and all I could do was run away. Yet again something amazing happens to me and all I could do is run. I felt sick again.

 

Michael and Melissa found me sitting on the floor. "Man I'm sorry I didn't mean to," Michael started but Charlie returned with a cup of water.

 

"It's all right we can talk later," I said To Michael.

 

"Here, drink this John," said Charlie but he was glaring at Michael. He handed me the cup of water and held my head as I drank. "I saw him run out, and he looked sick, so I chased after him to make sure he was all right."

 

The door burst open again and Meatball came into the room. "What's going on here? Is that asshole sick?"

 

"Shut up Helene," yelled Michael, Charlie and Melissa.

 

"Hey, it's a free country. I just wanted to know if he was suffering." I couldn't be there anymore. This whole situation was too hard to deal with. So I left again. At this point I should try out for the cross-country team.

 

I ran to my car and drove shakily to the cliffs at the edge of town. It's the place I go to think, the only place I can be myself.

 

When I was younger, I had somebody I could tell anything to. We were close and our friendship we knew it was special. We were just kids, but deep down we knew we were meant for each other. His name was Craig and we were inseparable. Everything would be different if he was still here.

  

He said he was coming back in a year, and everything would be the same. He told me that when we were twelve, and I waited for a year, but he never came back. I even rode my bike by his house to see if he was there. I missed him. I wished he were there with me. I felt like I was always waiting for him here every time I returned.

  

I recovered and somewhere down the line I guess I gave up hope. I met new people, made new friends and somehow I began to live without him. The pain he caused just faded away. If he would have stayed I'm sure I wouldn't be a part of the group I am now, but I'd be happy.

 

I learned one thing from this; things will never stay the same no matter how much we want them to, no matter how much we try. He would never come back and I would have to move on.

 

"Hey I thought I'd find you here," said Michael.

 


"How did you know?"

 


"You used to always come here when you were mad," he said. "Look I wanted to apologize. I didn't mean to hurt you John. You're my best friend."

 


"I hate living like this," I said.

 

"I know you do, but it comes with the territory. Trust me I know."

 

"I remember when I used to come here and just be happy."

 

"We can't always get what we want." He said. "But you live your life regardless. Come on, we have a party to get to."

 

I smiled, and we both headed away from the cliff. That time in my life was over. Maybe it was time for me to be happy. There was no need for me to come back to it. I wanted the memories of that cliff to die that day.

 

The party was apparently in full swing. My parents greeted me at the door with kisses and hugs. Inside the dream team stood around each other drinking from cups I knew my parents hadn't provided. I made my way over there and grabbed Jason's cup.

 

"What's in here Jason?"

 


"Just Coke."

 

"Coke and a little additive, or should I say a lot," I said. The rest of the Dream team smiled. "I want some." Jason smiled and handed me a cup that I drank like juice.

 

I made my way around to the cheerleaders. I wanted to make sure they knew their boyfriends were drinking. They were all staring at some girl I'm sure they hated, who would soon be hit by the rumor missile. They all squealed as I approached them.

 

"Hey John congrats. I knew you'd win," Amy said.

 

"Thanks Amy."

 

"Yeah, like God, did you see Meatball? She was like ready to go gun ho on your ass," Tiffany added.

 

"Yeah she already swore death for me."

 

"Don't worry, we'll take care of her for you," said Catherine.

 

"Sure, and speaking of taking care of somebody, who is tonight's victim?"

 


"Oh It's Sheryl Riley. She's been flirting with Jason and I am going to teach that bitch whose man she's fucking with," Amy said.

 

"I laughed feeling the warmth of the alcohol making its way."

 


"Well, just take it easy," I never involved myself with their past time I just let them indulge themselves.

 

"Sure I will," replied Amy.

 


"Well girls I have to make my rounds so have fun, please look after your boyfriends until my parents leave. They're drinking."

 

They all nodded and I made my way to Charlie and Mel they were sitting on lawn chairs in the patio. "So I hear that you might have a new love interest in your life."



 

"I might."

 

"Why do I always fall for gay guys?" Asked Mel. We all laughed. The alcohol was now fully integrated in my system. I looked around to see if I could find more.

 

"I need to find myself a real man."

 

"Any prospects?" I asked.

 

She looked over at Michael. "You know Michael Isn't half bad. He's kind of cute." We all laughed as she made her way towards him.

 

"They are going to be a cute couple," Charlie said as we watched her hug Michael. I think that's the nicest thing I've ever heard him say about Michael.

 

"What about us? Are we a cute couple?" I asked. Where did that come from?

 


"Yeah I think we are. Come on let's go somewhere more private," Charlie said. I followed him but now I was feeling the dizziness the alcohol had provided. I felt the whole world spinning.

 

"Whoa," Charlie said holding me up. "You need to take it easy with those. Their not for light weights."

 

"Who are you calling a light weight?" I asked.

 

Charlie laughed and handed me a bottle of water. He led me near the pool. I spent a good part of the night just talking to him. The more we talked the more I liked him. He was funny, interesting and very adorable. Again I realized every one could see us, which was a shame because I really wanted to kiss him. I was glad that he led me to the far side of the patio behind a pool shed. We sat at the edge of the pool putting our legs in the water. The water reflections were making beautiful patterns on the wall.

 


"So you had a crush on me huh?" Charlie asked.

 


"Yeah a slight crush."

 

"I used to follow you around in the hallways just so I could look at your ass," Charlie said. I blushed.

 


"Stop your making me blush," I said.

 


"No, I'm not kidding I really do like your ass."

 

"Well, I used to stay late after basketball practice to watch you shower." I was being brave now. I felt my very crafted persona slipping away and it was great.

 

"I know and I used to take just a little longer. I knew you were looking."

 

"So are you going to kiss me now?" I was a new man and my brain had turned itself off.

 


"Not until you brush your teeth. You vomited, remember?"

I brushed my teeth and then we headed back to the party. Sometime at the end of the night, when everybody left, I walked him to his car. We kissed again.

 

"Mmm, minty fresh," he said as we parted.

 

"You're lucky I brushed."

 

"I'm lucky I have you," he said and he took my hand.

 

"God, you're so sappy," I mocked but he was pulling me closer into him.

 

"Better to be sappy than not having me at all," He whispered into my ear.

 

"OK, it's time for you to go," I said, shoving him away from me.

 

"What had enough of me already?"

 

"No just saving a little for later," I said. I smiled and pulled away. I watched Charlie drive away with a smile on my face.

It was a perfect moment. It was too bad someone was about to ruin it.