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Another Day In Paradise
Chapter The First: Tibor and Bam-Bam
©2003-2006, WriteByMyself, All Rights Reserved.
Any duplication, in whole or in part, is expressly prohibited without the written consent of the author.
REVISION DATE: 26 July2006
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Tibor was not a typical teenager. He was pale and his strawberry blond hair made it even more noticeable. This was further enhanced by the fact that he liked to wear black pants, though his shirts varied widely: sometimes they were plain black and other times they were Hawaiian style. Pale he was, but he’d never be mistaken for an albino because he had just enough color to confuse the casual observer.
Although he had a sturdy build, Tibor was certainly not fat coming in at under 130 pounds. At just around five-and-a-half feet tall, a person isn’t normally considered imposing, but Tibor was imposing, at least when he wanted to be. With his short, spiked, skater hair-cut he had that certain “something” about his looks and personality that indicated he wasn’t someone whose wrong side you’d want to be on. He was famous for his “stare” which would put fear into anyone’s heart, but that wasn’t really Tibor’s style.
Tibor was an only child, but he wasn’t born that way. His older brother was now dead, an event Tibor tried to keep from his mind. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, he had a well-developed and devious sense of humor. Although his brother’s death certainly caused him to withdraw, he still had a fair amount of friends. At least that would be what the casual observer would think. People often characterized him as gregarious, not knowing him very well.
He was well into his fourteenth year, and that isn't an easy age. His teachers really didn't pay much attention to him because he did well in school, though if they realized how little work he put into their classes while still maintaining a B average, they would have been appalled. Sure, they wondered about the crowd he was hanging with sometimes. Skaters were often looked down upon, but as long as he was doing well, they didn't care. Not being much trouble at home, there wasn't a lot of interference from that side either. The trouble was, like most teens, what you saw on the outside wasn't necessarily related to what was happening on the inside.
Everyone thought they were his crowd, but they weren't. He liked them better than most kids only because, as a group, they were more open-minded and relaxed. He had enough going on in his mind without the stress of having to put on a performance for people. He knew he could probably fit in with any of the cliques in school, but he didn't want to pretend to be someone else. He wasn't like that.
To his mind, however, there was a notable difference between being yourself and letting people see all of you. Tibor didn't pretend to be something he wasn't, however nobody saw much below the surface. People saw the real Tibor, but only the small part he wanted them to see. Tibor kept it that way on purpose. He had secret fears and secret desires, but he couldn't express them. Actually, he probably could, but he didn't want to and more importantly he didn't have anyone to express them to, and thus he kept them all inside.
Tibor wheeled into the park braking to a stop just inside the fence. He was the first one here, as usual. He was always on-time. His skater friends made fun of him because they all knew he was anal-retentive about time. They were much more lax about the time and would drift in eventually. It drove Tibor crazy, but he never said anything and only smiled at the good-natured ribbing they always gave him about it. They probably didn't realize it actually hurt him a little. Sure, he loved to rip on his friends as much as they liked to rip him. But Tibor was careful not to assail anyone's character and that's how he took it. He believed that an agreement should be honored even if it was as simple as being on time.
Finally, one of his friends arrived. He stood up, put a smile on his face, and walked over. "Hey, Ern! 'Sup?"
"Not much, really. Sorry I'm late, but I just put some new wheels and bearings on," said Ernie while wildly gesturing at his new bright neon wheels. Ernie was ready to extol the virtues of his new bearings when a flash of red hair sped by, stopping a good ten feet past where they were standing.
"Damn! I just have to learn how to stop better," said Brandy.
"God, Bran, you're such a good skater. I don't know why it takes you 100 miles to stop. The rest of us can do it. Are you retarded?" said Ernie.
"Yeah, almost as retarded as you, shit-breath."
Anyone listening would have thought a fight was in the works, but they were always like this.
Tibor was getting ready to inject his own blend of deadly sarcasm when something hit him on the back of the head. He didn't even bother to turn around when he heard the laugh that accompanied it. It was definitely Shane. Nobody else on the planet laughed like that. And it was a good thing because it was irritatingly grating.
Shane came around, turning his wheels slowly. "Hey Babe, what's up?" he muttered leaning forward to kiss Brandy. It was certainly not the sort of kiss their parents would have approved of. Ernie and Tibor made rude cat-calls causing Brandy to blush. Shane was without shame and there was no chance of a blush as evidenced by his shit-eating grin.
The scene irritated Tibor for reasons he couldn't quite put together. Public displays of affection bothered him. He thought something so intimate meant less if it was put on public display.
A very tall guy skated in next. He looked to be around twenty, though he was a teen like the rest of them, having just turned sixteen a few days earlier. He was six and a half feet tall, had a mohawk and a goatee. He dressed like the heavy-metal, goth stereotype. He had metal-studded leather bands around his neck and wrists. His clothes were all black. He had multiple piercings. Nobody remembered his real name, or even if he had ever told them. He was called Bam-bam, named inappropriately after a character in the Flintstones. His friends called him that, his parents called him that, and even his teachers called him that. His good friends shortened it to Bam.
They were all there except Diego. Diego would be late if he even bothered to show up. Diego was part of their group and he was not part of their group. That is to say, he'd be there at every meeting for months then vanish for six. He was not in the same school as they were, so they didn't know much about him. Diego was currently on hiatus, and the odds on him showing were slim to none.
They all started skating down a walkway in the park. In the middle of the park was a concrete jungle. It was the abandoned site for the park's maintenance facilities. As usual, another unfinished government project due to lack of funding.
Although it was morning, Shane and Ernie had already started in on a joint. If Diego were there, he'd have been in on it too. Brandy didn't mind, but drugs weren't her thing. Tibor actively disliked them, because he hated smoking the most. He didn't care if it was cigarettes or pot. He started drifting back from the front pack.
He was about ten feet back when he accidentally cut into Bam's board, knocking them both over. That caused everyone to stop, and look back. They did what comes naturally and burst out laughing, not bothering to see if anyone had actually been hurt or not.
"Nice, Tibor. Ever skate before?" taunted Brandy.
"Hey, Bam, I knew you liked guys, but why did you have to fall for Tibor?" said Ernie with a laugh. Shane joined in with his irritating laugh and everyone cringed.
"Aw, blow it out your ass, fuckwit. You're just jealous," but Bam was bothered because it was way too close to the truth.
"Ok, that's enough," said Tibor, being just a little uncomfortable. Although he was outwardly friendly, he definitely didn't want to be the center of attention. Knowing his moods, his friends let it go.
They resumed skating towards the site. Arriving, they realized there had been a change. A large fence greeted them; a fence that hadn't been there a week before. Although no more progress on the job had been made, their improvised skate park was now closed to them.
"Fuck!" they said almost in unison.
"What do we do now?" asked Brandy.
Shane bent over and whispered in her ear for a moment. Brandy blushed and slightly nodded her head.
"Um, guys, since it looks like skating is out, we're going to go, ok? Besides, it doesn't smell too good around here today."
"Whatever," said Ernie.
"Yeah, go ahead and screw each other senseless," interjected Bam. He wrinkled his nose. The air didn't smell quite right.
"I don't know how you can afford so many condoms," added Ernie, hoping to goad a response. Ernie didn't notice any untoward smells. Then again, Ernie wouldn't have noticed a bad odor if he was in the city dump. That was probably because every day he generated quite a malodorous group of farts on his own.
Brandy started to protest, but she didn't have the words and just turned a deeper red. Shane just smiled a classic shit-eating grin, put his arm around Brandy, and skated off. The others simply smiled and rolled their eyes as the pair skated off. They'd been like this since they were twelve. It was generally assumed they'd be together forever. Sometimes there is a perfect couple and Shane and Brandy fit that bill.
"So, what's the plan now?" asked Ernie looking back and forth between Tibor and Bam.
"Man, I dunno. Diego would think of something. He's good at that. But nobody's seen him for weeks," offered Tibor.
"I think he's on the runaway list again," said Bam "He did this last year, too. Vanished for two weeks and reappeared. He does it to torture his parents. I'd do it, but my parents would be happy and we can't have that."
Neither Tibor nor Ernie was sure if Bam was joking or not. They didn't ask, knowing full well Bam would answer. Bam would answer any question. If you didn't want an answer, you definitely shouldn't ask Bam a question.
"We could break in," offered Bam.
"No," stated Tibor matter of factly.
"Well, they do have that awesome chunk of curved concrete," offered Ernie.
"No," repeated Tibor.
"I wanna skate, and it's looking tempting," insisted Bam.
"Word," said Ernie. "Let's do it."
"I'm gone," said Tibor. "That ain't what I'm about."
"S'cool," said Bam.
"Whatever," said Ernie.
Tibor boarded off, just a little bit pissed. He'd get over it quickly though, since he wasn't the type to hold a grudge. Tibor bounded through the park, skating around, working his way back out to the street. Tibor went home and decided to take a nap. He skated down the street, and as he neared his house he heard lots of sirens in the distance. Another accident, he surmised. Once home he decided on a nap, and went right to his room, leaving his board by the door so it would be ready when he left later.
His phone rang awakening him. He was a bit groggy and his eyes had trouble focusing on the clock.
"What?" he mumbled, somewhat incoherently.
"Dude. Man. It's so fucked up."
"Huh?" muttered Tibor, recognizing Bam's voice. He wasn't at his best when he first woke up. "What's wrong?"
"You don't know?"
"You just woke me up, dude. Of course I don't know."
"Can we talk?"
"I'll be there in ten minutes."
Tibor went to the bathroom, relieved himself, and splashed some water on his face in an effort to look a bit more alert. He wasn't one to wake up easily and the water might help. He checked around the house, but he was alone. He went into the living room to wait for Bam-Bam.
Sure enough, a knock at the door announced the arrival of Bam. Tibor opened it without looking to see who was there. He wasn't surprised as it was, indeed, Bam. "Come on in, dude."
"Thanks. Before we start, can I have a Coke or something?"
"Sure. No problem," said Tibor, his curiosity getting a hold of him now. He hurried to the kitchen, coming back with a Coke in one hand, and handed it to Bam before joining him on the couch.
"So, Bam, what's wrong with you? You're looking pretty thrashed. I mean it's been like three hours and you look like you were out all night."
"Yeah. I guess I need to tell you."
"Tell me what?"
"Well, you remember me and Ernie went in to skate?"
"You remember it smelled bad?"
"Fucking rancid was the word."
"Diego was there. Dead."
"Dead?" Tibor asked, disbelieving. "That ain't funny, dude. Don't joke about friends being dead. Not cool. Not funny. Not appreciated."
"Dead, Tibor. The cops kept me and Ernie for over an hour."
"Wait, this isn't making sense. Just tell me from the top."
"OK. We went in, and we noticed the smell getting worse as we got closer. Even Ernie noticed it. So, we go next to that big curved concrete -- you know the sewer pipe section -- to put our stuff down, and we see this guy sleeping under the side of it." Bam paused, wiped away a tear, and took a sip of his Coke. Tibor noticed but said nothing, knowing he wouldn't get the whole story if he stopped Bam.
"Anyway, we've got all our shit down, and we're getting ready to start when I notice that Diego's board is next to the sleeping guy. So I go over to see what that's about. Ernie follows me. Well the sleeping guy is Diego, I can see as we get closer." Bam stopped, clearly trying to regain his composure.
"The closer we get the worse it smelled. Real bad. I could hardly keep from puking. Even Ernie's noticing it. He ran ahead of me, and kicked Diego in the side but Diego didn't move. Diego was dead. There was this pool of dried blood, surrounded by flies, and it smelled like shit and death."
Tibor began tearing up and started to say something, but Bam waved him off, "Let me finish. So Ernie calls the cops on his cellular. Then it gets even more fucked up. They get there and start the investigation. It's pretty clear he fell asleep in the shade of the concrete curve and the cops think it must've rolled and crushed him. Then, the cops ask us what we were doing there." Bam stopped and took a sip of the Coke.
"We told them we were there to skate. They busted us for trespassing. When they searched us, they found some pot on Ernie, so they popped him for that too. Then they questioned us more about why Diego was in an odd position. Ernie mentioned that he had kicked him a bit in the side to wake him, and then they added a 'disturbing the evidence' charge. He tried to explain that he didn't know Diego was dead. The cops told us Diego had probably been there for a few days just 'cause of the smell."
Bam's tears were flowing freely, but he continued. "I got cut loose after an hour. They interviewed us separately, and I guess they figured I was harmless. But Ernie's still in for the other charges."
"That's fucking harsh," said Tibor. He realized he had never seen Bam cry before. He noted with some surprise that it didn't make him uncomfortable. He wasn't sure what he should or could do for Bam. He felt a bit saddened by Diego's death, but he wasn't really connected so it wasn't a sense of overwhelming sorrow.
Tibor put his arm around Bam, and that made Tibor feel awkward. He knew it was the right thing to do, but it also definitely was uncomfortable for him. He chastised himself for being so stupid. Bam was his friend, and the fact that Bam was gay shouldn't really matter. But it did because Bam loved him. Tibor realized that it was his problem and did his best to hide his discomfort. "Bam, is there anything I can do?"
"No. It's just really bugging me. I never saw a dead person before. It's not a simple thing, Tibor. He was dead. There was blood. It wasn't pretty. And it smelled bad. Real bad. He shit himself. The cops said that the last act of a dead person is to release their bowels. So much for dignity, right?"
"Um, yeah, I guess." Tibor didn't know what to say. He'd never thought about death before. He knew it happened; he knew it existed; he just never had to pay attention to it before. Now, he did. Even so, he knew that Bam-Bam was the one going through the real ordeal, not him. "Maybe I should call your boyfriend for you or something? Would that help?"
That caused Bam to go from crying to near hysterical paroxysms of tears and sobs. Tibor was at a loss, and out of his element. "Bam, what is it, dude? Talk to me."
"I... Don't... Have... a... Boyfriend...." sobbed Bam between breaths and sobs. "Just you," added Bam.
That statement freaked Tibor out a bit, but he knew now was not the time to react. He wouldn't let his friend down.
In reality, Tibor had no idea about Bam's romantic life since Bam refused to even acknowledge if he had one. Although he acknowledged his orientation, he never was willing to discuss it in detail and that aspect of Bam's life was a mystery to all.
Tibor thought the whole situation was terrible, although it pleased him on one level: he actually had someone who needed him, came to him in a time of crisis. That part felt good. It's just that he felt woefully inept in dealing with the situation now that it had arisen despite the fact they had been through this same situation a number of times since Bam came out.
Tibor held Bam tightly around the shoulder. Bam's crying had become softer now. "Tibor, do you love me?"
"Yeah, I do," said Tibor, before realizing in Bam's case it needed some explanation. "But not in the way you want me to. I'm not gay. I've told you that before. I can't love you the same way that you love me. You have to understand that. I'm not the one for you. I'm sure somewhere there is the right person for you. There's the right person for everyone. It's just not me."
"But Tibor, I'm in love with you," said Bam, wrapping his arms fully around Tibor and drawing him in to a tight bear hug.
"We've been over this before," said Tibor, trying to breathe through the hug.
"I know. I know. But you're so nice to me."
"I'm nice to all my friends. You came to me for help, and I'm trying to help you. You're getting this old problem mixed in with your new one. You have to separate it. They aren't related. Maybe we should get you some professional help to deal with what you saw?"
"No fucking way am I going to a shrink! Never," he insisted with determined finality in his voice.
"You should. You'll lose your mind otherwise. God only knows there isn't much left to lose," shot Tibor, hoping the humor would be helpful.
"Never, ever, zing someone who has you wrapped in their arms," said Bam squeezing as tight as he could without hurting Tibor.
"Can't... Breathe...." wheezed Tibor.
Bam let go. "I don't care what you say, Tibor, I'll always love you. You are the one for me. You just don't know it yet." Before he could react, Bam leaned over and kissed Tibor.
Tibor was shocked. He always was ok with gays, but he didn't like anyone kissing him without permission. He felt violated, and if it had been anyone else he'd have gone ballistic. He knew Bam wasn't thinking clearly.
"Bam, you should go now. I'm not gay. Really. I like girls. They're cute, they're soft, and they're fun to be around."
"Come on, Tibor, two out of three ain't bad, right?"
"Look, if I decide I'm gay, you'll be the first person I call, ok?"
"Ok. I'm going now. Thanks. I love you."
Tibor rolled his eyes. Unrequited love sucked. He was glad he wasn't on the giving end. Bam-Bam walked out the door. Tibor smiled and shook his head ruefully. Too bad school was starting Monday. He certainly wasn't looking forward to High School.