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Be sure to keep on reading "Billy Chase"...
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*(Previous Statement May Not Be True)
- When I went into work today, Robin seemed like a completely different person. A happy person. He was seriously grinning from ear to ear for most of his shift this morning, and he had an added skip to his step that, normally, would have been a delight to see in a boy so sweet. But the truth is...it wasn't.
It was just...'sad'.
I don't have another word for it. None that fit. I know that he got together with AJ last night. And I know exactly what happened afterward. Don't get me wrong, I certainly can't hate on anybody for getting laid...but Robin's heart was instantly tangled up in him again. I could see it in his eyes. He was soooo infatuated. Smitten beyond belief. And once AJ gets enough of what he wants from him, he's going to tear that poor boy's heart to shreds.
Then again, am I really any better? After what I did to Jimmy LaPlane, after the excruciating pain that I've introduced into his life...who am I to look down on AJ fucking, yet another, cute boy for kicks? Maybe AJ was right. Maybe we're not so different after all.
The difference is...I realize my mistake. I know that what I did was despicable and wrong. And I'm going to fight to be better than that. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I didn't spend my life using people and destroying their lives for my own entertainment.
No. When I draw my last breath on this Earth, I'm going to do it as a good man. With as few regrets as possible. That's what my mom and dad would want. That's what my friends would want. And that's what I want. Period.
Robin kept smiling at me. Kept trying to start some kind of conversation. But I didn't really want to indulge him today. Not about this. After a couple of not-so-subtle tries to gush over AJ and tell me how 'amazing' he is...I gave in. I don't know if I did it out of pity, or just out of the frustration of having to avoid talking about it. It wasn't as bad as I thought. I mean, they met up and had sex with each other. Big 'shocker' there. The rest was just him bragging about how tender and sweet AJ could be when they just laid together on that basement couch. He seemed to swoon over the idea of AJ kissing him on the lips. He had turned AJ's every word, every touch, every smooch on the cheek, into something of supreme romantic value.
But I had been there before. I knew AJ's game. And half of the 'sweet nothings' that Robin told me he had whispered in his ear....were the same things he had told me when we first 'dated'. And I use the term 'dated' loosely. It was almost word for word. I'm sure he had used the same tired routine to get whatever he wanted out of countless boys before me, Robin, and Jimmy, came along. Rehearsed. Stale. Manipulative. But a breath of fresh air and a blinding burst of sunshine to a boy like Robin who wanted to believe in it sooooo badly.
Who needs 'reality' when the illogical path of your dreams is so much more entertaining? Dreams are flawless. They're perfect. You can make them to be whatever you want them to be, and there's no one else around to challenge you on their design. It's the most fun that a person can possibly can have in this life.
Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that illusions shatter fast, lost time can never be recaptured, and nobody can really 'dream' with their rational brains working and their eyes open. Way it goes, I suppose.
Besides, I remember what sex was like with AJ. And while it might have been all stars and fireworks for my first time out...I've had better. Hehehe! I guess my heart was more into it.
Garrett has taking a rather strange liking to me all of a sudden. I can't really understand why. He still doesn't talk much. Still gets extremely bashful at the drop of a hat. He's like that with everybody. But ever since I took a chance and actually tried to reach out to him, he seems to be making an actual effort to reach back. I don't think I really expected that. He seems friendly enough. Like he actually wants to be a part of things around work. And yet....he holds back. It's like he talks himself into believing he's unwelcome. I like him though. He's sweet.
I made sure to have all of my work done at least fifteen minutes before it was time for me to go. I didn't want anything to delay me or hold me back. I even went to Scott and asked if there was anything else that he needed from me before I left. And everything went off without a hitch. Dizzy was coming in to relieve me, and he gave me a big hug as he punched in for the evening. I told him about the party I was going to, and he said, "Well be sure to gulp down some much needed nectar for me too. Got it?"
I sorta giggled at the idea, but...I don't think I'll be doing any drinking tonight. I've got Brandon in my life again. I think that's about all the intoxication my heat can take right now.
I hurried out of that place and ran after the first bus that could take me home! Quick bite to eat. Nice, hot, shower. A bit of extra time in the mirror to make sure my hair was fixed and my teeth were white. I went to my bedroom and laid out a few outfits to see what would look best on me this evening. I mean...I'm NOT saying that this was a date just yet. But...just in case, you know?
Maybe it'll turn into one if I jazz myself up enough.
I also put out some clothes just to hang out for a while. We probably weren't going to head out to the party for another four or five hours at least. But I didn't want to wait that long. I wanted to see Brandon. I needed to see Brandon. And I knew exactly where to take him.
I was lucky to see Sam this afternoon on my way back from the bus stop. He came out of his house to catch up to me and say hello. Mostly, though, he was like, "Dude, I know how you are, and I know you get a little freaked out about stuff like this, but Jimmy is still ok. I talked to him for nearly an hour and he seems to be making an effort to deal with things a little bit better."
The sound of it saddened me a bit, but I was like, "Good. That's good to hear." Sam lightly bumped my shoulder with a grin, and I'm like, "No, seriously. I'm glad Jimmy is ok. I was...really worried." Then I asked him, "Is he still super pissed at me?"
Sam said, "Uhhh....let's just say that you're not one of his favorite people in the world right now."
It hurt. It really did. I said, "Gee...well, that's comforting."
But, optimistic as always, Sam told me, "I wouldn't sweat it too much. I think I underestimated his feelings for you, Billy. That boy is crazy about you. He might be sullen and angry for a while...but I doubt he could stay away from you if he tried." Then, as we were walking up to my house, Sam asked, "What about you? Are you ok?"
I sorta shrugged my shoulders and told him, "I guess so."
Sam was like, "Me and Michelle thought about sticking around the house tonight, just to chill or whatever. You wanna come over?"
I said, "Psh! Right. Me and your gay bashing girlfriend all snuggled up on the same couch. Thanks, but no thanks. Besides, I told you...I'm going to a party tonight."
Sam cringed. He said, "Right. I remember. Tell that Jamie asshole to fuck off for me. He can take Joey with her if he wants."
I'm like, "Annnnd, I will NOT be telling them any of that. Hehehe!" I know Sam was still a little raw about the situation, but I didn't press the issue. Instead, I gave him a bit of a smirk and I said, "I sorta kinda asked somebody to go with me."
That definitely got Sam's attention. He was like, "WHO?"
And with a blush, I said, "...Brandon..."
Sam literally threw both of his hands in the air and shouted, "FINALLY!!! Sweet JESUS, it took you FOREVER!!!"
I'm like, "WHAT? I was waiting for the right time to..."
But he burst out with, "You weren't waiting for shit! You were running away. And when you weren't running, you were hiding. And when you weren't hiding, you were trying to play some weird little mind game. FINALLY, you decide to just TALK to the guy and tell him what's on your mind! You could have fixed this months ago and could be having long afternoons of kinky monkey sex by now!" He giggled.
I just told him, "Whatever. I did it. I asked him out to the party, and as soon as I shower and get ready, I'm taking him out to the Hill. Just to talk for a while."
Sam seemed impressed. He's like, "Look at YOU! You've grown a little hair down there now, is that it? Little Billy acting all grown up?"
I sighed to myself with a grin and shook my head. Sam gave me the cutest smile, and I said, "You know, I wouldn't have to go through all of this if you liked boys instead of girls. Why can't you just...not be straight, so we could be a couple already? Hehehe!"
Sam said, "I dunno. Probably for the same reason you'll never ever fall head over heels in love with Beyoncé. It just can't happen." Then he winked at me, and he was like, "But if it's any consolation...it was fun to 'pretend' to be a couple for a little while."
I said, "Only because your girlfriends suck. Or don't suck, as the case may be." I thought for sure that I'd get a slug in the arm for that one. But he just gave me a little shove instead. He doesn't really defend Michelle the way he did Joanna when they went out. Sometimes I have to wonder if he keeps her around for any other reason than he wants to have somebody around. She's far from being someone like AJ, but...I guess we all look for someone to hold onto. It's comforting just to know that they're there.
Sam was like, "Well, I'm not going to hold you up. You go get all squeaky clean and pretty and go AFTER that boy like you mean it! You've almost wasted a whole third of the Summer already. And he was right. I know it. If I want Brandon...then I'm going to go after Brandon. I think he might just say yes.
I won't lie, it was a scary feeling...standing there in the shower, thinking about what to say to him. What not to say to him. What I might have to explain about the time we've been apart. But instead of feeling just full on terror about it...I felt a certain anxiety that just wanted me to get it over and done with. It would be a huge relief. Sam was right, as always. I had been running and hiding and ducking and dodging for so long that I didn't know how to do anything else anymore. And as sweet and awesome as it is to be able to just spend time with Brandon again...there's always going to be that one dark cloud hovering over my head. Keeping us apart. Making me nervous. I just want it gone, you know? He'll either embrace me again...or he won't. But at least I'll know that I gave it a shot.
So I got out of the shower, dried my hair, and I called him up. My heart was pounding, my stomach fluttering with nerves, but I didn't hesitate. I just wanted to do it before I came up with another excuse not to.
When he said hello...I melted. I know, it seems silly at this point, right? But he gets straight to the center of my heart every time. And all he said was 'hello'. Hehehe, and I don't know why I thought this was so cute, but he just casually asked me, "How was work today?"
Hehehe, that still makes me giggle. I don't know why I thought that was so insane cute, but...I don't know...it was just so...adorable. Like, I could almost imagine myself coming home with a bag of groceries, and having my husband, Brandon, greet my with a kiss on the cheek. Just to ask me how work was. He makes the weirdest things glow with this amazing light that just....wow. He fascinates me sometimes.
I got around to asking, "So...do you want to maybe go somewhere for a little bit. You know, hang out and talk? Maybe over at the Hill?"
Brandon grinned. He was like, "The Hill...wow. I haven't been there in forever." He said, "Um...well, yeah. You know, I kinda figured we would hang out for a little while before the party anyway. It'll be cool to talk before we get surrounded by all that excess noise and stuff. When do you want to meet up?"
I said, "Well, I'm just going to throw something on and maybe make myself a quick sandwich or something and head out."
Brandon was like, "Well, I've got to wait for some laundry to finish drying, but it should be done in like fifteen minutes or so. Meet you there?" I felt myself getting really excited and told him that it was a plan and I'd be waiting. I asked him if he remembered how to get there, and he was like, "I'd never forget something like that."
Which, again...was so cute it just made me feel all squishy inside. Hehehe! God, I'm such a nerd.
The time was set, I stressed out over what I was going to wear for a few minutes more, and put a little body spray on. Because...you know...can't hurt, right?
Hehehe, as if Brandon is gonna think, 'God, I should punch him in the FACE after what he put me through! But...dammit! He just smells so GOOD!'
I went out to the Hill and nearly shook myself to pieces waiting for Brandon to show up. I took my usual spot by the tree at the top and looked down on the rest of the park, hoping to catch sight of Brandon before he was right on me so I had some time to brace myself.
Ten minutes pass.
I started to get a little bit worried, but then...there he was. Pretty as ever. Not my 'first' love....my only love. Even from a distance, he takes my breath away.
He was like, "Sorry, it took a little longer than I thought it would. My clothes were all wrinkled up something awful. I had to iron them out." He walked up the hill and instantly gave me a hug. Something about Brandon's hugs just felt like 'home'. You know?
There was never anything awkward about our conversation. It started the moment we met and didn't stop until we departed. Today was no exception. He was so easy to talk to. He listened. He responded unselfishly. He made jokes to keep me smiling. But that dark cloud was still hovering overhead. And while I could have put it off for another day, and just relaxed into our usual pattern of friendly chit chat and giggles...I began looking for a way to bring up the subject of...you know...what happened.
The pressure of it was building. The need to finally be free of it was unbearable. And that's when Brandon said, "I've been trying to get Stevie out of the house more. He's being a total recluse this Summer and I know that if I don't actually show up on his doorstep and drag him outside, he won't go."
I'm like, "I thought Stevie was doing good with that whole thing."
But Brandon said, "He was for a little bit, but those jerks from school that hurt him...it's like they show up everywhere. You'd think this town would be big enough where you could go out to the store and not have to look one of those bastards in the face. Stevie says it doesn't matter, but...I know it's getting to him. At least in school he had some form of organized protection. Just walking the streets around here? Anything could happen."
I said, "Well...it's good that you guys are still friends."
He said, "I worry sometimes. I care about him." Just hearing him say that made things all the more difficult. There was a moment when I thought I might have misread Brandon's intentions in getting back in touch with me. But I dismissed those thoughts. No way. That's what I always do. I start making up these weird little scenarios in my head and I start feeling small and insecure and then I turn chicken and run off in the opposite direction. I'm not going to do that this time. Not today.
So, I took a moment to gather my thoughts, and I said, "Brandon? I mean...well, like...I don't want to wreck the mood or anything, but...I kinda wanted to talk to you about something."
Brandon saw how concerned I was and said, "Yeah. Dude, what's on your mind?"
It almost hurt to look at him, but I made sure to force myself to look him in the eye. Those big, pretty, eyes. And I was like, "You know...it seems like forever ago, but...when I did what I did...you know, to ruin everything between us...I feel like I never really got the chance to tell you how truly sorry I am for everything that happened. I feel like...I've been holding onto it for SO long, and it's been eating away at me like a cancer ever since..."
Brandon suddenly retreated from our eye contact, and instead looked down at the ground. His fingers started to randomly pluck and pull on the blades of grass between his legs. It was a nervous habit that I remember from when we first started dating. Bashful and evasive...something he always did to avoid the intensity of whatever it was he was feeling at that moment. Heh...it's been so long since I've seen him do that. Again...it was something that just felt like 'home'.
He said, "You know...whatever. Don't worry about it, Billy. What's done is done. It's all in the past." And while it would have been easy for me to take that quick sentence and use it as a way to avoid this conversation altogether...I didn't feel like it was enough."
I'm like, "No. Brandon...it's not 'done'. It just isn't. And...you didn't deserve to be hurt like that." I noticed that Brandon was uncomfortable with this, but as long as I got the ball rolling...I was like, "I was an idiot. Ok? I was a total asshole for what I did, and I know that there aren't enough apologies in the world that will ever make up for it. But...I wanted you to know that I've regretted it every day since it happened, and I'm sorry."
I think Brandon got a little misty eyed, looking the other way to avoid me seeing him in any distress. With a shaky voice, he said, "It's ok. I mean...I get it. Bobby was there. I wasn't. What else were you supposed to do? It's my fault for not being what you needed me to be, when you needed me to be it."
I was like, "No. It's NOT your fault. God, Brandon...I just...UGH!" I didn't have the words. None. But as the first tear fell from Brandon's eye and he wiped it away, my heart broke. Instantly. Completely. I found myself having to fight back tears of my own. I said, "Bobby was a mistake. The biggest mistake that I've ever made. And that's saying something considering the mistakes I've made since then. I was just being...selfish, you know? Greedy. I was all 'me, me, me,' and what I want and trying to have it all...no matter who I hurt in the process. And I suck for that. I do." Brandon sniffled, and I wiped my eyes as I tried to keep going. Say it all, Billy. Lay it all on the line while you still have a chance. "But I should have used my head. I should have followed my heart. Because losing you is one of the worst things that's ever happened to me and I pay for it every time I look at myself in the mirror."
Brandon was quiet for a moment, but then he said, "It hurt. It hurt for a long long time. But the truth is, I missed you, Billy. I missed everything about you. But I was afraid of getting hurt like that again. I was afraid of being set up for another downfall. I didn't know what to do, so I just...I didn't do anything. I guess I stayed away from you because I was afraid of the response I would get from you. Maybe you'd be angry. Maybe you'd be sad. Maybe you wouldn't care at all. All I knew was that once I realized that you were gone, I felt like my whole world fell apart. And I was just too tired and too hurt to waste time putting it back together again. I don't think I even saw the point of it anymore." I noticed the laughter of a couple of little kids on the other end of the park and quickly used my sleeve to wipe the tears off of my face. But Brandon didn't. He let them stay right where they were. He was like, "With Stevie...I think I just wanted to prove to myself that I didn't need you nearly as much as I thought I did. Part of me wanted to make you jealous. Part of me just didn't want to be alone. It hurt sooooo much when I was alone." I leaned over to hug Brandon from the side, and much to my surprise...he leaned in my direction until our heads lightly rested against one another. He sniffled and told me, "I just want to disappear. I just didn't want it to matter anymore. But every time I saw you in the halls or on the front lawn...I felt that 'pull' all over again. It wouldn't ever go away. I don't think it ever will go away." That's when he sat up, and his watery eyes met mine, and he whimpered, "I love you, Billy Chase. I always have."
And the emotion that welled up within me was so quick and so intense that I just started to sob uncontrollably and I reached for Brandon's neck to hug him tight and whisper, "I love you too. I always have."
It might have seemed a bit strange, two boys crying and holding each other on a hill in the middle of the park...but we didn't care. Brandon didn't budge, and I didn't either. And it was then that I finally let out a deep breath...and I felt that lingering dark cloud finally float away. My body relaxed in a way that I haven't felt since the first time Brandon kissed me in my bedroom. Was it gone? The pain? The guilt? The anger and the regret? I don't know for sure. I still had a lot to tell Brandon about the life I've lived since we broke up. From Bobby Jinette, to Lee, to Randall, to AJ and Robin, and now...Jimmy. I may even have to come clean about the few sexual encounters I had with Sam. But as I held him in my arms...I realized that he could have it all. All of it. I wanted Brandon to trust me. To believe in me again. I wanted him to love me.
Looking back at the last few months...I wasted SO much time. And I've got NOTHING to show for it. Nothing at all. Just a few notches on the bedpost and a couple of wicked memories that I'd much rather forget than hold on to.
No...this...this right here...this is what love feels like. This is what I've been missing. This is the hole in my life that Jimmy LaPlane told me about. And I've been trying to fill it with parties and sex and alcohol and every kind of distraction imaginable. Not a single one of them took the place of knowing that someone I loved, truly loved...loved me back.
There's no substitute for that. Not one.
Heh, you want to know what the craziest part of my night was? Brandon and I actually sat there talking until the sun went down. The streetlights came on, everybody left the park...and it was just him and me...sitting there in the dark.
Brandon smiled at me after a short silence, and he said, "You know...it's almost nine o'clock."
I smiled back and was like, "Is it? Oh. Hehehe, I hadn't noticed."
So he says, "If we're going to get any mileage out of this party you told me about, we should probably get going, don't ya think?"
I looked at Brandon's pretty eyes, and his kissable lips...a gentle wind blowing his hair ever so slightly. And then I thought about the party. About the noise and the music and the drinking and the shouting. I thought about Jamie Cross making out with my best friend's favorite girl. And then I thought about this one quiet moment...right here, right now...shared with someone who means more to me than I ever gave him credit for. And I said, "...There'll be other parties..."
And as if it couldn't be held back for a single moment longer...we both began to lean in...and for the first time since the night I ripped Brandon's life apart while simultaneously destroying my own...our lips made contact.
Right out in the open. No regrets.
I had forgotten. I had completely forgotten just how electric a kiss from Brandon could be. I felt dizzy. So disoriented. And when our lips parted again...everything felt right with the world again. I just let go. I just let my spirit fly.
Did this one night solve everything? No. It didn't. Did it promise anything? No. It didn't do that either. But I can't remember the last time I felt so overwhelmed by life itself.
I don't know why I'm crying right now as I write this. Tears of joy, I'm guessing. It's hard to tell. But I'm glad that I made the right choice. I'm glad I skipped a major party to be with the boy of my dreams. And I'm glad that I finally took all of those massive bricks of shame off of my shoulders...and simply set them down. Leaving them there for the next teenage boy with a hardon who makes the same mistake.
He can have 'em. I won't be needing them anymore. I've learned what I needed to learn this time. Just like my mom said...life isn't always about solving problems. It's about facing them. I faced mine today. And let me tell you...it was worth it.
One day, I'm going to look back at this journal entry and wonder why it didn't end with some steamy sex romp with me and Brandon getting naked and putting our mouths to work, doing more than sharing a single kiss in the dark. And I hope that I'm still wise enough to remember the answer...
...Because it didn't have to. I got everything I needed and more.
I've gotta go. I'll write more tomorrow. And dry my eyes before my mom thinks I'm going bonkers on her. Until then...smile for me.
And I'll smile for you too, Future Self. :)