- Hit the send button already. Just...just tap it. I can't believe that I've been sitting here for 20 minutes or more, trying to decide whether or not I wanted to send this one stupid email. I tried typing it out, I tried 'fixing' it, I tried erasing it and starting all over again from scratch...but I just didn't quite know how to say what I needed to say to Lee tonight. I'm letting my head mess me up again. Sighhh...it's exhausting to think this way sometimes.
Anyway, while I'm stalling to make a decision on sending this email or staying silent, I figured I'd write something in this book to get my mind clear. (And to postpone things for as long as humanly possible, of course.)
I need the break from reality. It's been an 'interesting' day to say the least...and I don't mean that in a totally good way.
I saw Jimmy LaPlane today. He actually came looking for me, in fact. Now...I don't know if I should really be giving this situation any more thought than I already am, but I have to admit that it kinda stung my heart a little bit, and then turned me into a basket case for the rest of the afternoon. So I'm just hoping to get this straightened out soon.
Jimmy was quick to welcome me home again, even though he sees me all the time at school. Like I said before, I guess I've been distant with just about everybody around here since I moved in with my dad. It was good to be back with my friends. But after some small talk, he was kinda like, "Hey, Billy...you got a minute or two to talk about something? It's kinda important."
I was like, "Yeah. I'm just going to study hall after this. What's up?"
His face got a bit more serious, and he asked me, "Is Sam...like...is he alright?"
It was a weird question for him to ask, but I told him, "As far as I know, he is. Why do you ask?"
Jimmy says, "Well, he's been really really down lately. He's starting to worry me. I figured maybe you were like....keeping an eye on him or something. Since you live right around the corner from him and all." Keeping an 'eye' on him? What the hell is THAT supposed to mean??? What's wrong with my Sam???
I told him, "He's...uhhh...I think he's just really in bad spirits because of the break-up with Joanna. That's all. He's been miserable lately, but I don't think it's really that bad. I just think he needs some time to heal."
Jimmy sorta nodded slowly, but he wasn't really convincing in his agreement with me. He was like, "Are you sure? Because I've talked to him a couple of times in the past few days, and every day he seems to get worse. He even cried over the phone last night. He was so broken up that he was literally sobbing. I didn't know WHAT to do. Billy, he sounds really 'dark' right now. I don't like some of the things I'm hearing him say lately."
I was baffled completely. I was like, "Wait...what? Sam cried talking to you?" It was probably the most selfish feeling in the world, but the first thing that crossed my mind was 'why is Sam talking to Jimmy LaPlane and not to me'? I'm his best friend, aren't I? Whenever he talks to me he acts like everything is fine. Then...a different feeling settled in. One of near panic. I was like, "What did he say to you?"
Jimmy said, "A lot of stuff. But one thing that stood out while he was crying was..." Jimmy stopped for a second, and then he said, "...He said he wanted to disappear. Just...disappear."
I'm like, "Disappear? He said that?"
Jimmy lowered his voice, like, "Yeah. More than once. I don't wanna worry you, Billy, but...I remember what that pain feels like. And I know what words like that can lead to. Or have you forgotten?" Jimmy looked down at the faded scars on his wrists...and the panic inside of me grew to a level so strong that I nearly fell back against the lockers. Jimmy's like, "Look, just...if you can, Billy...can you just talk to him? Please? You know him a lot better than I do. Maybe it'll make him feel a little better if it came from you. You know?"
Funny thing...I really did think I knew him better, but that seems to be changing pretty fast these days. I just talked to him on Sunday, and he never seemed like he was on the verge of 'tears' or anything like that.
I agreed to do what I could and promised him that I wouldn't let on that he told me. I guess so he wouldn't feel awkward about Jimmy sharing that with me. The second my study hall let out and lunch time rolled around, I went searching the halls to meet up with him. I found him by his locker, and he's like, "Hey, what's up?" I mean...with a half smile and everything. What's up? What does he MEAN, what's up? He was just bawling his eyes out to Jimmy on the phone, and the most I get is what's up?
I'm like, "Hey..." And then I asked him, "...So...what's going on?"
And he barely looked me in the eye. He was talking to me as though it was just another day. He's like, "My bio homework is killing me. It hardly leaves me time for anything else."
I didn't say anything but...not only was I a bit worried, but I was hurt. Sam was talking and making chit chat and even joked around a bit. Why was he suddenly hiding from me? I mean...I wish I had a subtle way to maybe ask him how he was feeling, but...I didn't know how to approach it. Not at all. I kept staring at him, listening to his every word, and the strange thing was...he never once gave me any indication that he would just want to, as Jimmy said...'disappear'.
I think that scared me more than anything. I mean...really SCARED me. Because I couldn't help but to think back to Jimmy and how flawless his mask was around me and everyone else. I thought about how I missed every hidden signal, every final preparation, every spoken clue. And when all was said and done, I didn't know what Jimmy was feeling until he was already in the hospital. What if I'm missing something with Sam? What if...I lose the best friend I've ever had...because I wasn't there?
I spaced out for the rest of the day. It was really hard to think about anything else. It was hard enough just to keep my hands from trembling. I tried again to call Sam on the phone to see if...maybe he could open up a bit more. But he just didn't say much more than he did in school. Even when I mentioned Joanna, he said, "Yeah...well, it still hurts like a bitch. But whatever. I've gotta get over it eventually, right?" Which hurt even worse. It felt like an outright lie. Sam never shut me out like this before. I just...I don't understand.
But I'm going to be the biggest pest in the world to him until I figure out what's going on. There won't be any accidents happening this time around. Not MY Sam.
Anyway, as shaken as I was, I kept my word and went to Randall's house after school. I didn't plan to stay long. Now I'm too terrified to leave Sam alone by himself. I'm sure Jimmy was just concerned about him, but now my head is full with the horrifying idea. I'll talk to him more tomorrow. I don't care if I have to walk over and bang on his bedroom window. He's gonna talk to me.
Luckily, Randall was a little bit late coming home after school, because I had trouble finding his place again. It had been a while, and when I left the last time, I was hardly in any position to remember my surroundings. I did recognize a particular mailbox, though, because my mom had to pull over so I could throw up next to it. Randall got off of his bus and invited me in. He's just as cute as Lee is in that school uniform. But unfortunately, he wasn't as 'free minded' about changing in front of me as Lee was. He offered me a snack and a root beer in a glass bottle while he went up to his room to change. I didn't even know what this was all about, but I patted my hands on my thighs as the uncomfortable silence pounded against my eardrums with a fury.
Randall came back down in a pair of jeans and a lightly ripped Miles Davis t-shirt. He grabbed himself something to eat and drink from the fridge, and then he sat down in one of the easy chairs in the living room while I sat on the couch. He turned the TV on for background noise, I guess, but I don't think he really cared what was on.
We didn't really say much of anything for the first few minutes. Nothing more than some friendly conversation. But he could tell that I was uncomfortable. I barely knew him. He barely knew me. Why was I even there, you know? So then he stops talking, and he's like...'looking' at me. I asked him what was up, and he says, "Well...I guess that I'm just trying to find a 'tactful' way to say this..."
I'm like, "What...what do you mean?" He smiled a little bit, and tried to look for just the right words.
Then, he takes a deep breath, and he's like, "Soooo...you and Lee, huh?" I literally turned WHITE with fear when he said that!
I'm like, "What do you mean, me and Lee?" I tried to act calm, but this was the SECOND near heart attack that I had today.
Randall rolled his eyes and his smile widened. And he's like, "C'mon, Billy...you know what I mean." I wondered if maybe he was just bluffing or trying to figure things out. He's not supposed to know about me. He's not supposed to know about Lee. He's CERTAINLY not supposed to know about me *AND* Lee! I shuffled a bit and told him that I didn't know what he was talking about, but he's just like, "Dude, it's ok. I get it. Hehehe, trust me. I get it." I was speechless. Once again...I've been 'spotted'. What the hell, am I wearing a big 'I'm Gay' sign on my back somewhere that I don't know about? I was afraid to confirm his suspicions any further...but I was kinda scared to deny them either, since it only seemed to make me sink deeper. He told me, "Don't sweat it. I know. I've always known, from the first time Lee introduced me to you, it was obvious."
I said, "You did?" Letting it slip before having the common sense to stop myself. Arrrgh! Great going, Billy.
He's like, "You were waaaay too cute to just be Lee's random buddy from another school. C'mon, honestly. You wouldn't be the first closeted gay boy to have a REALLY hot 'friend' to hang around with. Lee attracts them like kittens to a bowl of milk. Hehehe!" I guess he saw the look on my face change, because he said, "He's not running around with all of them, if that's what you're thinking. He's a loyal guy. It's just...Lee's a really special person. And people notice. They can't help but notice."
I was starting to think that this was one of those things that I didn't want to know. But as the feeling in my stomach got worse, I asked him, "So...does that mean that...that you and Lee are....?"
He looked down and he grinned a bit. He said, "Hehehe, more like a were. And that was...a long long time ago. We're just friends now. Good friends. No benefits. I swear. I hope that doesn't bother you."
Did it bother me? I don't think the shock has really worn off completely for me to say for sure. I guess it had been in the back of my mind for a few weeks now that Randall and Lee were kinda...beyond friendly. And a part of me knowing that really hurts inside, but Randall didn't seem to be laying any claims to his heart or anything, so...I told him that it was ok. Confusing.
There was an awkward pause between us, and finally he said, "You know, Billy...I don't know if you realize it, but I think he really likes you. He doesn't think I know about you two, but I know Lee well enough to know when he's crushing on somebody." Then he's like, "He talks about you, ya know?"
I'm like, "Does he? I can't imagine."
Randall's all like, "I'm serious. He does. He's a little freaked out right now. He's kinda worried that you were getting bored of him or something when you stopped talking to him."
There was no more need for me to worry about keeping up the hetero act, so I just said, "When *I* stopped talking to him? He's the one who stopped talking to me. He went a whole week without so much as an email to say hi to me. I wasn't 'bored' with him, I was hurt."
Randall gave me this concerned look, and he got up to come sit by me on the couch. He put his hand on my knee and said, "There's something that you should know about Lee..." He was like, "Lee...ummm...he can be one of those boys who's just...really eager to please, you know what I mean?" Ummm...I didn't. Randall told me, "He's fun, and he's awesome to be around, and he has the biggest heart of anybody that I've ever known...but it hits him pretty hard to think that anybody could be upset with him or could find a reason to dislike him. So you won't find him saying 'no' to much of anything you ask of him. Not if he thinks it'll anger or offend somebody. He can be a bit funny that way. The first time I fell for him and noticed it, I started to wonder if he was just pretending to be gay just to make me happy. I wouldn't have been surprised if he had actually gone that far just to keep me close. It can be...flattering, but it takes some getting used to."
I felt my heart sink a bit, and I asked him, "So is this all just...some weird thing that he doesn't want and I just bullied him into, or...?"
And he's like, "No, no way. Dude, that's not what I mean at all. It's just...you have to kinda understand the way his mind works sometimes."
I'm like, "How do you mean?"
He said, "Well...there are these really amazing times when Lee is thinking about you, and he's such a sweetheart that you feel like you're standing on top of the world. Every moment of your life is full of giggles and sunshine and everything is overwhelmingly awesome, you know? But then...there are those other times when...Lee is not thinking about you. It's not something you're ever really prepared for. You notice it right away, and that sudden absence can feel like a thousand heartbreaks all at once. Trust me, I know. It takes a dagger to your self esteem, and you wonder if everything before it was just a 'fake', because nobody could just turn off their emotions like that if they were real. The second Lee started worrying about you, I could already recognize the signs. I've been there. But it's not what you think. It's just how he is sometimes."
I asked him, "But why? How can he just...not care? I don't get why he would do that to me."
He's like, "That's just it, Billy...he's not really 'doing' anything. It's not that he stopped caring. Don't ever think that, because he does. His focus is just elsewhere for a little while. And while I know it brings a lot of heartache, jealousy, and excruciating pain to people like you and me...the truth is, I don't think Lee even realizes that he's hurting you. He certainly isn't doing it on purpose. I've known him for some years now, and he's simply incapable of being heartless. I think somewhere in his mind, he's just enjoys whatever time he spends with you...and just when you're getting used to the attention, he goes happily bouncing off to enjoy his life elsewhere without you, and expecting you to just kinda...'be there' for more cuddling when he decides to get back to you again. It's not something to take personally."
I pouted slightly, like, "How can I not take that personally? He doesn't want to spend time with me. I didn't want to chain him up in the basement and hold him hostage, I just...I thought he'd want more, you know? It just...it sucks."
He's like, "I know. But believe me when I say that he's completely unaware of what it feels like to have to live without his own beauty for a day or two. I don't know that he'll ever fully understand it. But he's one of the sweetest boys you're ever gonna be lucky enough to meet on this planet. And if you just kinda...try to understand 'his' side of things ever now and then, it helps to take some of the sting off when it happens...again. And again. And again."
I said, "And again."
He smiles and says, "Now you're getting it." Adding, "He's not a bad guy, Billy. I just don't think he gets emotionally 'attached' to things as strongly as we do. Or at least, not in the same way. I don't think he sees a need for the constant maintenance. Hehehe, we must look so crazy from his point of view."
Who knows? Maybe I made up more of this fiasco in my head than I thought. It was hard to tell. Who has perfect judgement when they're hurting?
I thought it over, and then looked at Randall who was staring at me again. I asked him, "Why are you telling me all this?"
And he says, "Because Lee is a terrible liar. And I'm sick of hearing him tell me that he's ok when he's not. It's just embarrassing for us both on some level. Hehehe! Besides, if Lee drops the ball on this one, I'm gonna start hitting on you, BIG time and take you for myself." He said it, but then he put a hand on my shoulder and instantly laughed it off. Like, "Just kidding." Was he?
It made me look at him for a moment. Hs eyes...his build...his lips. I wondered for a few seconds about it as he blushed a little bit in front of me. Or maybe he was just turning pink from giggling. Whatever it was, I remembered that he was still on my list, and I didn't dare miss the opportunity to ask him the million dollar question...because there wasn't much chance that I'd be back over here any time soon. So, I got up some courage, and I asked him, "Um...Randall? Do you...remember the birthday party you let me have here about a month ago?"
He's like, "Remember it? It was like one of the best parties we've ever thrown here. I had blast."
I didn't know exactly what angle to come from with this question, so I just did my best to be straightforward. I said, "Um...did you...?" I thought for a second, and I didn't want to say 'did you kiss me that night'. Instead I asked, "...Did you...put me to bed that night?"
He seemed a bit puzzled. Like, "What do you mean?"
I'm like, "That night...or...the next morning...I woke up in your bed. You know...?"
Randall smiled and said, "Yeah. Don't worry about it, dude. It's cool that you crashed. You were in no shape to go home that night. I didn't mean to get you in trouble with your mom or anything...but letting you sleep in my bed was no biggie."
Grrrrr! I tried again. "No, I mean...did you actually, like...physically put me to bed that night?" Waiting for an answer was killing me. Those few seconds felt like an eternity to me.
Then he's like, "Um, nope. Wasn't me." I didn't know if I was relieved that he hadn't been the one to kiss me that night or disappointed that I'd now have to keep looking. He thought about it for a second, and he said, "I sorta remember some cute boy that you were talking to asking me about you, though. That I remember because I sorta raised an eyebrow over the whole thing. He said he wanted to make sure you were 'taken care of'."
My ears perked up instantly. I'm like, "Do you remember WHO?"
And Randall shrugged his shoulders. He said, "I didn't really know him. Just thought he was a cutie pie. He had like...these cute little twisted dreads in his hair. Kinda slim, sexy eyes..." TRACE??? Was it TRACE???
I don't know if it was really him or not, but it was probably one of the best leads that I've had since this whole 'Kiss Mystery' thing began! Something I'm DEFINITELY going to investigate the second I see him tomorrow. The hunt begins again!
I stayed at Randall's for about an hour more, maybe less. He's not such a bad guy once you get to know him. I just remember when I was getting ready to go, he tells me, "Hey, Billy? Do us all a favor...put the poor boy's mind to rest and let him know you're still interested. Lee's a delicate one for torture. Emotionally speaking, he bruises easy." He gave me a smile and a hug, and I left.
And now, here I am...sitting at my computer, worried about Sam, thinking about Trace, and staring at an email screen with Lee's address on it. Like I said...I had no idea where to begin, and no idea where to stop. So...I just typed out one sentence...three words long. And now that I'm done stalling for tonight, I'm just gonna go ahead and hit send. Why not, right?
One sentence....three words...
"I'm not mad."
I've gotta get some sleep. I have a big day ahead of me tomorrow. And it's gonna start with me choking the living shit out of Sam if he doesn't snap out of it and TALK to me so he can get back to normal. Enough is enough, and this is getting dangerous now. I care about my best friend...and I'm gonna fight to keep him with me.
(Wow....what if it's Trace? What if it's really Trace? I don't even know what to think about that....)
::Scratching Randall Off Of My Suspect List::
|The "Kiss Mystery" List|