The Dark Side of the Moon

Chapter 8


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From the previous chapter:
“ Fuck, I wish I had a video of that! But anyway even before Dad springs the joke on Connor I realized how fucked up what we were doing was and then when Dad sprung it I thought, “Why the fuck did you listen to him?” “So Connor storms out and he tries to drag me with him but I just couldn’t. Dad is goin on about how the most important thing is that we’re all a family and how you really need us now and Jimmy is sittin there looking like he’s expecting me to do the stupid thing. It just hit me how right Dad was.” Chase rubbed my stomach. “I realized too that there was no fucking way that you’d be to blame for those guys doin that shit. I also realized that I didn’t give a flyin fuck if you were gay or not. I mean how did it affect me? Like not at all, that’s how.”

“Robbie, I wish there was some fucking way that I could make myself look like I was something other than a total asshole but there isn’t. This wasn’t not the coolest week of my life but I get it now and I fucking swear that from now on I’ll never not be on your side about this.”

The Dark Side of the Moon 8

I jerked on the door handle with all of my strength and the door came flying open and banged against the concrete wall with a noise that seemed to echo throughout the school. My throat was burning from trying to get enough breath into my lungs and my heart was pounding so hard I couldn’t imagine it continuing to keep beating. It occurred to me that maybe I should let it happen let the damn thing explode and be done with it but then the big guy lunged for me and instinct took over and I took off running. Just as I started to think that I actually had a chance to get away the other guy somehow sprang out of the doorway ahead of me and I almost ran into his arms. I twisted my body in a wild attempt to keep him from getting me and I lost control and my body spun around twice before I smashed hard into the concrete block hallway wall.

I sat up gasping in bed but it felt like my throat had swollen shut, like someone was strangling me and then I felt something cold and wet on my forehead and it registered that someone was holding my shoulders as I bent forward trying to breathe. My tee shirt was soaking wet and plastered tight to my body.

“It’s okay, Robbie, it’s okay, just take it easy, it was only a dream, Baby.” Karen voice was soft and soothing but also worried. One of her hands moved to my back and rubbed it while the other hand held a cool washcloth to my face. She squeezed my shoulder. “Are you awake yet, really awake? It was only a dream, Robbie, you’re here at home.” My body shuddered as the dream slowly faded. A dream about going back to school like I was gonna do today.

I was getting so much help now, I knew that but still I couldn’t see the path back to where I had been, back to what used to be me. I felt like the real me was hiding out someplace while this other me, this me that was better able to cope stayed here and tried to make it thru. The thing was that I didn’t think the me that had run away would ever be back, not ever.

I was beginning to feel cold and I pulled the sheet up tight around my neck. “I’m okay now. Did I yell or somethin?”

“No, Hon. I came to remind you that I was driving you to school today. I knocked but when you didn’t answer I peeked my head in and you were kinda rolling back and forth and you looked scared. I figured it was a nightmare. You sure you’re okay now?” Karen more and more seems like a mom in training. She’s even beginning to sound like mom.

I nodded yes. “I’m okay now, really. I just gotta figure out what to wear and take my shower. I’ll be okay.” I would really like to ask my dad if life is like this even when you get older cause if it is I’m not sure that I’m that tough. I can’t believe that even he feels like this when he gets up to go to work in the morning. Course, they don’t have the same shit to deal with that I got.

As soon as Karen leaves I get up and pull together some clothes. I figure that the best thing is to not stand out, not too dorky or too cool and after a ten minutes I’m as close to that as I’m gonna get so I go listen by the door to try and figure out where everybody is. The last thing I want is to run into Connor. There’s no Karen sounds and I can hear Connor talking downstairs so I slip out of my room and walk the four steps to the bathroom. It’s a mess like it is every morning, wet towels on the floor, shaving cream, toothpaste and dirty underwear are everywhere. Karen’s got her own bathroom and refuses to even come in here. The testosterone given off by my brothers is almost running down the walls and I can get a hardon just by throwing their dirty underwear in the hamper. The weird thing is that it’d actually be easier, well almost easier, for them to throw their crap in the hamper than on the floor but it never happens. I wonder if they ever wonder who picks it up. I scoop it up and dump it, like every morning. I guess being gay also means being neat and if that’s true the three of them are totally straight.

The one thing that’s gotten dramatically better is the whole dizziness thing which is almost totally gone and I move my head around to test that. It’s pretty good. I can kinda feel that if I whipped it around I might be in trouble but otherwise everything is okay.

Just as I’m pulling my back pack outta my closet Karen pokes her head around corner and yells, “Robbie!” I like jump a freakin foot while she laughs and finally says, “You ready?”

I stammer a, “Yes.”

She hugs me and says, “You’re adorable when you’re nervous.” Great, that’s what I need to hear. Adorable will really get me thru this. The thing that’s beginning to sink in is that Karen and maybe even my mom and dad think that this is pretty much over and that now everything is gonna go back to normal and I know that that’s not true. I know that in a lot of ways maybe the worst is yet to come.

All the way to school Karen is talking non-stop about trivial bullshit and I’m wondering if I were to open the car door and jump and roll if I’d survive it or not. I decide that it ultimately wouldn’t help anything cause they’d just get me and make me do this all over again so I put it outta my mind. I figure this is how those guys in prison that are scheduled to be executed feel. You must just get to a point where you figure that the easiest thing for everybody is if you just shut up and let em kill you.

When we get to the school and I see all the kids just walking around like normal it’s almost surprising cause in my head it almost seems like there should be a big sign up front that says, “HERE COMES THE RAPED GUY!” And maybe a little one that says, “WE KNOW HE LIKED IT!!!!” And maybe even a little bit smaller one that says, “IT’S ALL HIS FAULT!!” The trick here is gonna be to be as invisible as possible and I start thinking I gotta make no waves.

Right outta the box three people I know come running up to me as I’m trying to sneak into the building but fortunately they’re all girls. They’re pretty much talking at once but they all wanna know the same thing, did it happen. I can’t make myself say it. The words just won’t come out so I lie and tell em that I just got beat up. I tell em this even knowing as I do it that it’ll only make things worse when they’ve had a chance to compare notes with the rest of the school. But I’m not thinking long term, I’m just trying to get by one minute at a time and right now the most important thing is for me to get em outta my face.

As soon as I can break away from them without it seeming too weird I take off for my locker and when I get there Carl is standing at his locker which is right next to mine. It’s the best friend thing. There are swarms of kids around us and lockers are being opened and slammed shut but if they’re dying to know about my life they’re keeping it hidden.

He glances around then says to me, “You almost look normal. Well…except for that bruise. Did they pound on ya?” Carl is only marginally less nerdy than I am so on some level I’m sure he can see that this coulda been him.

I nod yes and it makes me a little dizzy. “Yeah.”

Carl makes a pained face and says, “Did it hurt?” I think, “Fuck no, Carl, it felt wonderful!” But I don’t say that cause I probably woulda asked the same stupid question if I had been him.

“Kinda…but ya know, it wasn’t as bad as you might think. When it’s happening it’s like overwhelming and it’s like you’re brain doesn’t process everything, like it kind a rations thing out. Whatever it thinks you can handle.”

Carl is unconvinced. He shakes his head. “I woulda fuckin died.”

“You’d be surprised, Carl.”

“I saw ya talking to Melanie and her crew. They wanna know what happened?”

I nodded yes and again the dizziness. “I couldn’t tell em, Carl. I just told em I got beat up.”

“They’re gonna know…they probably already do.”

I’m staring at the floor. “I know…I just couldn’t do it.”

Carl looks at me conspiratorially and says, “Well, fuck em! They just gotta fuckin know everything! They’re probably wishin they coulda got some dick.” He instantly knows that he shouldn’t have said that and he looks stricken. I don’t let on that I got it and I cover for him cause I don’t want him to feel bad.

I grin and say, “You’re probably right, it’s what they all need.” But I can feel that my face isn’t saying the same thing, that my expression is showing that it got to me and we’re both pretending. He’s pretending that he didn’t say it in the first place and I’m pretending that it didn’t bother me. I guess the adult thing would have been to just acknowledge it and move on but we’re not nearly adults, we’re just kids. So it’s one more stupid little hurt that gets put in my memory book of stupid hurts and even now, while it’s still fresh, I know that I’ll take it out tonight when I’m alone in bed and relish it.

The first bell rings and Carl takes off for his first class. I don’t have to run because my first class is English and it’s like twenty feet away. I look at my watch and decide that the best thing to do would be to wait until just before the final bell rings and slip into class. A lot less chance of getting trapped answering questions. I stare at my watch and count down the seconds, when there’s fifteen left I slide thru the door and take my seat. The bell rings just as I sit down. Nobody says anything including hello. Out of the corner of my eye I can see a couple of guys in the back of the class watching me but they don’t look one way or the other but I have this odd feeling that doesn’t quite make sense to me. It’s just this funny little “something is different” feeling but when I try to think what, I come up with nothing.

Mr. Limbach, the teacher, has decided that this would be the perfect time to assign us the, Tell Us What’s Unique About You, essay and I can feel myself blushing so hard it feels like my face is gonna melt because I figure everyone knows what’s unique about me but I tough it out and pretend nothings happening. Now I’m praying, literally praying that he’ll just shut up about it now that he’s assigned it but I don’t have that kind of luck and he goes fucking on and fucking on. If I was an adult I could just say fuck this shit and walk out but that’s not an option that they give to kids and so I’m stuck wondering how bad you gotta blush before it turns into a stroke or something, which would really be a relief anyway. If my body hit the floor maybe fucking Mr. Limbach would finally figure it fucking out that he oughta just shut his fucking mouth but I know as soon as I think it that he’d just say something like, “He shoulda just come up to my desk and told me!” The asshole! Meanwhile I’m holding my arms tight to my body so that hopefully no one will see that I’ve sweated thru my shirt. It’s pretty hard to pretend that nothings bothering you if sweat is running down your face and your clothes are soaked. I wonder for like the millionth time why it has to be this way. It’s almost like they won’t let you get to adulthood unless you somehow manage to survive high school. It’s like having to cross a huge desert with terrible heat and rattlesnakes and scorpions and shit just so that you can get to the cool green oasis where everybody’s having a good time.

Anyway, it finally…finally ends and the bell rings and kids are streaming outta the door to get to their next class. I hold back and pretend that I’m arranging my books and shit because I don’t want anyone seeing what a fucking mess I am with the sweating and all. I get my shit together slowly and move out into the hall that’s totally crammed with kids trying to get to where they need to go and it’s like some crazy expressway but without any cars just with people. But on this expressway there’s also a lot of yelling and talking and running, it’s chaos. I get bumped and jostled but I really don’t think anything of it cause it’s always happening but I also realize that the thing that seemed odd to me, the thing that I couldn’t figure out isn’t something that’s happening but something that isn’t happening. No one is talking to me. It’s not that I usually have some huge crowd of people trying to get me into a conversation but there’s usually someone trying to say something but not this morning, not yet anyway. I decide that maybe it’s just coincidence.

I survive a couple more classes and finally make it to lunch. Lunch is a funny time because it oughta be the most relaxing time. I mean all we gotta do is eat, right? Except it’s more complicated than that and in it’s own way it’s more intense than the rest of the day. For one thing the kids that have close supervision the rest of the time are pretty free to get away with shit. Not that there aren’t adults watching cause there are but it’s like three adults for this huge fucking cafeteria and I think about all the times on TV when the guy in the penitentiary gets knifed when all the convicts are eating. They just come up behind him and shove a shiv into his back and he makes this gross gurgling sound and his face falls into his food. It makes me wish my brothers were around but they eat the next period. The freshman and sophomores eat first and then the juniors and seniors. I guess they figured cause we were younger we got hungry sooner but even when I think it I’d be willing to bet that one of those old ladies in the office just flipped a coin.

When I look up I see Carl headed my way. He stops at another table to say hello to someone and they talk for awhile and it almost looks like it turns into an argument but then Carl straightens up and walks over to my table and sits down across from me.

He’s shaking his head. “That Jeff is a fucking asshole.”

“That guy you were talking to?”


“What did he want?” I knew as soon as Carl sat down I was gonna have to ask this question and I tried to think of a way not to but came up with zilch. See I’m pretty sure that the discussion was about me. I dunno, maybe I’m just being paranoid.

“I dunno, just some shit.”

“Was it about me?”


I was still eating and tryin to seem really casual like I really didn’t care what the answer was to any of these questions because after all this was just high school and all kids are nuts anyway. But at the same time I also knew that I hadn’t really tasted any of the food I was eating. For the life of me even now I couldn’t tell ya what it was. I know it was kinda brown and there was like, gravy. Of course, even without the drama it might have remained mystery food.


“The kid that lives next to him is friends with one of the guys that they arrested.” He doesn’t offer more and I don’t have to guts to ask so I stare down at my food and then when I look up I see this guy. He’s standing six feet behind Carl and he’s got a tray of food in his hand and he’s looking around. He looks so familiar to me like somehow I know him. He’s pretty tall and he’s got dark brown hair and one of those builds that even though you can’t see it all you just know that he’s an athlete. Finally he glances at me then looks away and the quickly looks back, you know, like a double take. Then he kinda smiles but not so much at me but more like he’s just answered a question in his head.

Then someone yells, “Dean!” and the guy whips his head around, looks relieved and walks off.