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Author's Note

Thanks again to everyone who emailed me with encouragement or ideas. Sorry this chapter's taken such a long time to post.

I agree.

…And Dream My Dreams of You

by Jay B.

Chapter 4

The first thing I thought was that something had crawled into my mouth and died in the night. That’s how bad the taste was. The world was a dull grey blur when I first opened my eyes, but gradually everything slid into focus. A window was open to the morning and a tree branch hovered just outside, a few wet, red leaves still clinging to it. Rain dripped quietly from a flat, washed-out sky but there was still enough light to send sharp threads of pain shooting right to the top of my head. I grunted and rolled over, running my tongue along my teeth and wondering how they actually managed to feel slimy. The presence of a back brought me up short. Right there, laying in what I suddenly realized was not my bed (which was, itself, sitting in what I suddenly realized was not my room) was a naked back. Attached to this was a head of short blonde hair. And then I remembered. It wasn’t immediate, but almost. My mind, poised like a roller-coaster at the moment before that first descent, was carried forward by the momentum of the unfamiliar surroundings and rushed off into a thousand places that I definitely did not want to go right then. Confused images gradually resolved themselves into some sort of order, a reverse chronology of the night before: kissing Phillip in this bed, puking in Allan’s bushes, kissing Phillip at the party, Liz trying to dance with me and falling down, laughing on the floor as I suddenly realized I was probably going to throw up, the soft plink of a whiskey bottle in the grass. But the roller-coaster, whatever momentum it had, was completely derailed by the face of Jake Benningfield, the boy I’d loved, in whose eyes tears were welling and who looked at that moment, as though someone had…

Ugh. Too much to even think about with the world’s worst headache and the taste of last night’s vomit still in my mouth. Just go back to sleep, I told myself. This will all be here when you wake up.

When woke again, I felt vaguely troubled as though something bad had happened while I slept. Had I dreamt? I shivered and pulled the sheet over my bare chest. The bed was empty now. I got up with some effort—the hangover was bad, but not as bad as I thought it might be—and wobbled over to a mirror in Phillip’s bathroom: not a pretty sight. I turned on the shower and sat down on the floor of the bathtub and let the water run over me for a while, my forehead resting on my knees. Fortunately Philip had an extra toothbrush that I used and an extra towel I wrapped around my waist when I was done. When I came back into his room, Philip was there, eating a bagel and watching TV. He had on a t-shirt and a pair of athletic shorts. His legs were pretty nice, I noticed, muscular and a little hairy. The hair was the same color as what was on his head: blonde. He smiled at me and looked me up and down carefully. Does he like what he sees? I wondered.

“Want a bagel?” he asked.

“Hell no. Got any coffee?”

“Kitchen. C’mon.” He jumped off the bed and started to leave the room.

“Wait a sec. Let me get some clothes on.”

“Nah dude, keep the towel,” he said and laughed. “You look fuckin’ hot in that thing.”

“Yeah? Well let’s see if your parents agree with that.”

“They left this morning, went to see my aunt. They won’t be back till this evening.”

“Do they uh…you, know…do they know I slept here?”

“I told ‘em you were in the guest room,” he said.

I eyed Phillip warily. Damn. Here I was with the hangover from hell, confused about what I wanted from him, and pretty ashamed of how fucked up I'd gotten the night before. And despite all this, as he watched me, I suddenly felt hyper-conscious of every sensation in my dick. I hoped to god I wasn’t going to get hard, but this (along with my wish that, once I’d hit eighteen, the ridiculous awkwardness of adolescence would finally disappear) was clearly unrealistic. Phillip glanced down and smiled a little.

“Sorry,” I mumbled.

“That’s all right,” he said and chuckled.

“No, I mean, really I’m…”

He shushed gently me and took a step forward

“…totally embarrassed,” I finished. He took another step, then one more and was standing directly before me. His hand grazed the line of my jaw, then lay on the back of my neck and pulled me into a kiss. It was a forceful, intense kiss and a little overwhelming. Somehow we ended up on the bed, one hand running over my chest, the other still cradling my neck. He didn’t stop kissing me, even as his hand went lower, caressing my abs, my belly and finally coming to rest, through the towel, on the my dick.

“Holy shit, that feels good,” I whispered.

“Mmm,” he grunted and continued to kiss me, moving his hand simultaneously up and down in a slow, steady motion. Finally, he drew back, but didn’t stop what he was doing with his hand. He looked me up and down appraisingly, then smiled.

“Damn, I’ve wanted to do this with you for such a long time,” he said.

“Well, what took you so long?” I asked.

He looked at me oddly and his hand was suddenly still.

“It was a joke,” I offered. A second passed by, then the look was gone and he smiled again.

“Well good,” he said and laughed, “cause I was gonna say…”

Say what? I wondered, but his hand started moving again. With the other hand, he untucked a corner of the towel. I stopped him before he could pull it off and placed his hands down on the bed next to me. I slid his shirt over his head and ran a finger down his body, leaving an imaginary line that neatly divided his torso in two equal, very nicely developed halves. He shut his eyes and let his head fall back on the bed. His skin was smooth, although when the light from the desk lamp hit right, a hundred short, feathery golden hairs stood out on his arms. I kissed him: on the lips, on the pale expanse of his throat, his right pec, then the left. I ran my tongue over his nipple and he moaned.

“Damn Paul,” he said and made for my towel again.

Before he could pull it off, I stopped him with the question that kept nagging me: “What did you mean, about...well, a minute ago?”


“I get the feeling there’s something I’m missing here.”

“What do you mean?” he asked. I slid up to a sitting position.

“I mean how come you never said anything if you wanted to get with me for so long? Did you not know if I was gay, or something? Or did you just want to wait ‘till I was drunk? ‘Cause we’ve been drunk at parties before.”

He looked at me like I was crazy again. “I mean, it’s not a big deal,” I hurried on, “I was just, you know, curious.”

“Well, Paul, I didn’t make a move on you before because you weren’t available,” he said very deliberately, like he was explaining something that should have been completely obvious to me.

“What are you talking about?” I asked. “I broke up with Leah like, four months ago. We were never serious or anything. It was just, like, a thing.”

His eyes narrowed. “Okay, whatever,” was all he offered.

“There wasn’t anyone else, Phillip, believe me.” Phillip had been laying next to me, relaxing on one elbow, but then he sat up. Does this mean he’s not gonna blow me? I wondered, and immediately realized it was my own fault for asking stupid questions.

“Okay, I get it,” he said. “Look, I already figured it out. You don’t have to protect him or anything. Tim Matthews told me he was gay.”

“Tim? What? Wait, who is this he you’re talking about?”

“Uh, Jake?” he said.


“Yeah, me and Tim—who’s gay too, obviously—we were always joking about how awesome it’d be if you and Jake ever broke up,” he said with a sly smile. “I mean not that I wanted that to happen, but since it has…”

I shook my head. Damn, was I really that obvious? But why would they think Jake was gay? “Yeah, well the joke’s on you guys. Jake and I were never an item,” I said.

“Yeah, whatever,” he laughed.

“No, dude, Jake’s not gay. That’s the whole reason he stopped talking to me,” I said.

Philip looked confused. “I don’t understand. I thought you guys were secretly a couple or something. I mean, you’re always around each other, you’re so…”

“No way! He found out I’m gay and flipped out,” I told him. “We got in a big fight especially when…well, when he found out I had a huge thing for him. He was a total asshole about it. That’s why he won’t talk to me”

The smile faded from Philip’s face. “But that can’t be right.”

“Well it is,” I insisted.

He searched my face and must have seen I was serious.

Jake, Jake, Jake…” he muttered and rolled his eyes. He looked at me nervously. “Umm, Paul…” he said slowly.

“What?” I asked.

He was quiet again and then shook his head. “Never mind,” he said and got up to put on his shirt. I sat on the edge of the bed and watched him start picking clothes up off the floor.

“Phil. Just tell me, Okay?” I couldn’t hide the exasperation that crept into my voice.

“I don’t know how to do that, exactly. Well, um, you see it’s like this…Jake is gay, babe.”

“No, he’s definitely not, Phil. Trust me, you should have heard the shit he said to me,” I said.

Phil watched me for a while, seemingly unsure of what to say.

“Damn. This is fucked up,” he muttered, then sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed again and looked at me sadly. He reached up and brushed the hair from my forehead. “Paul, Jake might say he’s not gay, he might even think he’s not gay, I don’t know. But I know for a fact that he’s hooked up with a guy. With Tim Matthews, to be exact. If he’s not gay, he sure could have fooled Tim. They got together once back in June. Tim told me himself.”

My throat suddenly felt hot and dry. “What?” I rasped.

“Yeah. I don’t think Tim would lie about something like that and he told me. They messed around, Paul. “

“No way. No way that happened, Tim’s gotta be wrong,” I insisted.

“I don’t think so Paul. Jake’s gay, or bi, or something. “

“What? I don’t get it…I mean, what the fuck!” I felt a horrible feeling in my gut. “Oh, God. That mother fucking…when did he do this? “

“It was at Liz’s party. You were away on vacation in California…” he trailed off. “So wait? You guys weren’t going out?”

“I don’t feel so good,” was all I could manage to say. He must have thought I was going to cry or something, because he pulled me into a tight embrace. But that just made it worse.

“Philip, no, please let me go,” I said more harshly than I meant. He dropped his arms and backed away, looking hurt.

“I didn’t mean it like that, Phil I just feel like I’m gonna puke or something,” I said and sat down on the floor, pulling my knees up to my chest while I waited for the nausea to pass. All those years of pent-up frustration, wanting what I truly believed I could never have. And then, last night, what I’d done…what I’d said to him. In a flash it was all that back: the fear, the desire all whirling around inside my head, more powerful and more overwhelming then I’d ever known it to be. What the hell was going on? I had closed my eyes, but I felt Philip sit down beside me. I waited for the feeling to pass, for my heart to slow. After a minute or two I stood up shakily and Philip followed me to his feet. He looked concerned, thoughtful, as he rubbed my back softly. My breathing slowed and I figured I was safe from puking at least.

“You really love him don’t you?” he finally asked.

“Yes,” I answered miserably, “I did. I…I still do and I hate it. God, now what do I do?”

“Talk to him.”

“Yeah, right. He’s lucky I don’t beat the shit out of him, that fucking fag.”

Phil sighed. He watched while I quickly got dressed in last night’s clothes, then came back and sat next to me.

“Paul, let me tell you something. Just because you two are inseparable…”

“…were inseparable,” I muttered.

“…were inseparable,” he allowed, “that wasn’t the only reason Tim and I figured you guys were a couple. Tim said the next morning—when they woke up—Jake was flipping out about what happened. He was pretty drunk the night before…”

“I’ll bet.”

“But the thing he kept saying most the next day, kept practically begging Tim not to do was tell you or anyone who might let it slip to you what had happened. He wasn’t so much scared that everyone at school could find out, Paul, he was scared that you would know.”

“So what?” I asked.

“Well, Tim figured that was because he didn’t want you to find out he was cheating…but since you guys were never even together, it must have been something else”

“Obviously.” I said.

“So why, I wonder, would he be so freaked out that you might find out?”

I thought for a second. “Look, I know where you’re going with this, but you’re wrong. He didn’t do it because of some big secret crush on me. He probably just figured I was a fucking homophobe or something.”

“I’m not so sure,” Philip said. “Maybe it was both of those things.”

“Well, I don’t give a shit, anyway. I don’t need this kind of problem. I don’t need to deal with some confused—probably bisexual—asshole, hypocrite. He had his chance and he fucked it up. I told him so last night when he tried to apologize. Then I told him to go to hell.”

“He tried to apologize?” Phillip asked. I nodded. “And you wouldn’t forgive him?”

I shook my head. Phillip was silent for a little while.

“You know what I think, Paul? Jake’s not the only guy who’s confused around here.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded. Phil didn’t answer. “Hey, I know who I am. I don’t lie about it.”

“Oh. So you told Jake you were gay?” he asked, quietly.

“Well, no. He found out.”

“Were you planning on telling him?”

“Fuck you.”

Philip looked at me coldly. “Not anymore,” he replied. “Maybe you ought to go home now.” He got up and sat down at his desk, flipped on the TV and watched it fiercely, refusing to look at me. I sat on the bed a moment more, then got up and turned the TV off.

“Look, Philip, I’m sorry, okay? I shouldn’t have been that way to you, man. I’m really, really sorry,” I said, “And I appreciate what you’re trying to do. This is just fucked up and I don’t understand it and I don’t know what to do.” Philip looked at me finally, and his eyes flashed.

“You don’t get it, do you?” he said. “All you can see is your own problems, Paul. But you need to get your head out of your own ass. Tim knew why Jake was begging him to keep quiet to you, same as me, ‘cause even before that, Jake’s deal was pretty obvious: he’s fucking in love with you, same as you are with him. Hell, I should have my head examined for thinking I could get you. It’s pretty clear where your heart is, and I guess you were just to busy pining away over him to notice he was doing the same to you: the way he watches you when he thinks no one is looking, the way he knows everything…everything about you. You say ‘jump,’ he says ‘how high?’” Philip laughed ruefully. “God, the straight kids even make jokes about it, just being stupid, but I used to get a big kick wondering what they’d all say if they new the truth. I should be so lucky to have someone like that in love with me. I’d show them I could love them back.”

“But why did he have to act like such an ass? Why did he stop being my friend?”

“He didn’t stop being your friend, Paul. He fucked, up. He’s not cool with being gay, that’s probably why he hooked up with Tim. He knows all about Tim, and he knew it would just be a one time thing and that Tim would never say anything. He knew it would never go any farther than a hook-up. He’s scared. I know his dad; I’d be scared too. Mr. Benningfield is a nice guy and all, but I don’t know how far that will go if he found out his son was gay; much less what a huge fucking problem it might be at school if everyone found out. So he was scared, he did the wrong thing and pushed you away. And I watched it eating him up inside for a week. He kept screwing up at practice, he didn’t have his head in any classes—failed his calc test— and he looked like a zombie from not getting any sleep…”

“…and last night he tried to apologize,” I added quietly.

“Yeah, I figured he would. He always comes around and does the right thing eventually. Maybe he’s a little slow, but his heart was in the right place.” Phillip shook his head. “And I thought I might have a chance with you after that but …” Philip looked away from me. “You, on the other hand, will never admit you’re wrong,” he said fiercely.

“Yeah, so I’ve been told,” I said.

We were silent for a long time. Philip sat down next to me again, but kept his hands in his lap this time.

“So what now,” I wondered aloud, “after the shit I said to him last night…” I shuddered.

“Drama queens,” Philip said, and smiled weakly. “Well, you both did your best to hurt each other. Now you try to fix it, if you can.” Philip’s composure seemed to vanish for a moment and he looked downright sad. I realized I’d hurt more than just Jake.

“I’m sorry Philip, if I led you on. I didn’t mean to. I guess I didn’t know how things were with Jake…”

“Just…let’s not talk about it. I like you Paul, I think we’d be nice together, but it’s obvious you two have some crazy star-crossed lovers thing going on. So do what you have to, and I’ll deal, all right?”

I nodded. “Friends? I know it’s not much…”

“But it’s something,” he said. “Friends.”

When I got home later that morning, I expected there would be hell to pay, but there wasn’t. My dad was out weeding the front sidewalk. I said hi, and he returned my salute, a little coldly. He seemed concerned that I might have driven drunk, but when I told him Philip drove me, he seemed satisfied that no more needed to be said and went back to weeding. I guess this was what being an adult felt like. I went upstairs to my room to shower. At that moment, I had no idea what to do. I thought about talking to my dad, but I realized this was something I needed to sort out for myself. It seemed as though I should have been happy: the one thing I'd wanted most had happened, so why did everything feel so wrecked and broken? I wanted to fix things with Jake, but I wasn’t sure if I could and I had no idea where to start. The funny thing was, in the end, the decision was made for me.

There were messages on my phone: three of them, and eight missed calls. I’d forgotten to bring my cell to the party and it seemed weird that that many people would have called me in the last twelve hours. For a moment my pulse quickened as I scanned through the list, looking for Jake’s name but it wasn’t there. Why would it be, after what I’d said? The first three were from Liz, and started around two o’five, about an hour after I’d left with Phil, then one from Alan, one from another friend named Rob, then another two calls from Liz and finally, one from Philip from just five minutes ago. I dialed my voice mail.

Paul, it’s Liz. You won’t believe what happened. It’s…well, just call me when you get a chance, OK?”

Paul, it’s me again. Where the hell are you? Why don’t you answer? It’s uh…nine thirty on Sunday morning. Not sure where you are, but I really need to talk to you. Call me. Bye.”

Liz is a bit of a drama queen and normally I would expect that she just had some stupid piece of gossip to tell, had she not sounded worried rather than elated.

Hey, uh Paul. It’s Phil. Look, I know we saw each other half an hour ago, but I just got off the phone with Tim who told me some stuff about last night. It’s about Jake. He…well, just call me. We should definitely talk.”

Something felt tightly knotted inside me, and it was with a sense of dread I was about to dial Phillip's number when my Dad peeked in.

“Liz calling for you,” he said and handed me the house phone, then ducked out.

“Hey, Liz.”

“Where the hell have you been? And where did you go off to last night?”

“Good to see you too,” I said. “What the hell is going on?”

“Seriously, I called you like ten times.”

“You and everyone else. I left my cell phone at home. So what’s up?”

“Where did you sleep last night? Did you go home with Kelly?”

“Doesn’t matter. No. Now what’s so fucking important?”

“OK, so last night, like maybe and hour after you left, there was a huge fight at the party. Some guy from another school and his buddies who showed up were in it. And Jake.”


“Yeah, I guess it was the one guy and Jake at first, then his buddies jumped in, then some of Jake’s friends. Finally, the football team—that is, those that weren’t in the fight already—helped break it up.”

“Was Jake OK?”

“Yeah, mostly. Hurt his shoulder or something when three guys piled on top of him, but he kept saying he was all right.”

“What the hell happened?”

“I don’t know exactly, no one does. But the guy kept talking about how Jake was a fag, and all this crap. Said Jake came on to him. Wouldn’t shut up about it and his buddies backed him up. And Jake just stood there, Paul. He looked mad enough to kill those guys, but he didn’t deny it either. He just…Paul, you okay over there?”

“Fine,” I croaked. “‘he just what?”

“He just told the guy he was a coward for bringing his friends into it and walked away. God, I can’t believe Jake, of all people, could be gay. It’s not possible. But why was the guy saying it? And why didn’t Jake defend himself?”

“Maybe you should ask him.”

“I tried, but he took off right after that. Wouldn’t talk to anyone, wouldn’t say where he was going. It was fucked up.”

I was at a loss for words. Liz, for a change, was too.

“So…you gonna say anything?” she asked after awhile.

Like what?.

“Paul…you gotta say something! Is this why you guys got in a fight?”

“Liz…I just can’t…”

“Is this why, Paul? What, did he come out to you? Are you laughing?”

I was. I couldn’t help it. It was just too crazy.

“This isn’t funny, you asshole. Is that why you won’t talk to him?”

“If it was, what would you say?” I asked.

“I’d say ‘I’m gonna hang up now.’ I don’t like gay-hating, even if it’s a good friend that’s doing it. Hell, that makes it even worse.”

“Liz, I think we need to talk. It’s too complicated to explain now, but I promise you I’m not a homophobe. Just trust me on this, okay?”

Seconds ticked by.

“Liz?” I asked.

“What’s going on, Paul? I wanna know.”

“And you will, but not right now. That’s all I can say. Look, whatever happens just promise me you’ll watch out for Jake, allright? Don’t let him face this alone. Don’t abandon him.”

In the silence that followed, even with several miles of distance between us, I felt that certain things had become abundantly clear to both of us at that moment. When she next spoke, Liz wasn’t Liz anymore, at least not exactly. Her voice was quiet, but something in it—some hidden and almost threatening intensity—made the phone shake a little in my hand.

“Paul, I’m not the one who’s job this is. He doesn’t want to hear a pep talk from me or anybody else and you know that.”

“I…I know.” Silence. “I’ll try…” I said.

“I’d do better than that, if I were you, Paul.”

“You don’t understand. Not everything….”

“Well, I only know what people tell me.”

“Point taken. We’ll talk, I promise.”

“Good. I’ll see you later,” she said and hung up.

I wondered if this wasn’t the first time Liz had ever voluntarily ended a conversation, then lay back on the bed and groaned.

Copyright 2006. Email Jay B.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs2.5 License.

Thanks for reading. Chapter 5 coming soon…