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`My secrets cry aloud.
I have no need for tongue.
My heart keeps open house,
My doors are widely swung.
An epic of the eyes
My love, with no disguise.
My truths are all foreknown,
This anguish self-revealed.
I'm naked to the bone,
With nakedness my shield.'
Open House (Theodore Roethke, 1941)
"Jesus, I need to get out of here!" said Jaye finally, throwing down his script pages
in frustration. Three solid hours of walking through blocking changes with Ms.
Robi, John, Trey and several other Techies correcting and critiquing was enough to
test the patience of a saint. Anthony laughed and tossed his down, too. Jenny,
tonight's flame-haired Titania, snickered and looked to Ms. Robi, who sighed and
took off her glasses, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She looked up.
"Okay, cast takes an hour break for dinner and crew can go in shifts but check with
Trey for your turn. Don't be late and don't go far." she said.
Yells and whoops met this announcement as most of the cast jumped up, ready to
eat, ready to do anything that meant respite from the stress of waiting for the eight
o'clock curtain. Bobby looked to Angel who nodded.
"Burgers?" asked Angel. Bobby shrugged. Doug and Camille walked over and
stopped, while Camille knelt down to tie her shoes.
"Whatever, anything, I need a break." offered Doug.
"Let's hit Wendy's." said Joey.
"Anything! Let's just go!" Jaye interjected with a grin, dancing from foot to foot.
"Shit, Jaye, calm the fuck down." said tiny Camille, standing up from her
sneakers. They all laughed and started off in twos and threes, organizing rides.
Walking through the student parking lot, the groups broke up to find cars. Over
half the lot was empty but a number of cars remained; drama wasn't the only group
working late. A group of vans and trucks were parked close to the Ag section and
another group near the P.E. Building. Several teenagers stood around those last,
leaning and talking into car doors; most wearing school jerseys or
jackets. A few looked up as the drama kids flocked across the lot, cutting a swath
of sound and color against the concrete. The early evening sun hung red and low.
Angel and Bobby walked together towards the late model Mustang where Jaye
already stood waiting, motor running. He waved impatiently. Looking past the
two drama boys, Jaye saw three of the jerseyed athletes start in
their direction, moving to intercept. His eyes narrowed. The five met
thirty feet from Jaye. Two of the newcomers walked around
Angel and Bobby and into their path. They stopped and turned. Jaye couldn't
hear to know whether they were talking. He frowned and reached back into his
Mustang to cut off the engine.
Angel eyed the approaching, bigger boys and angled to go around them.
Two of them moved to stand directly in front of him and Bobby. The other stood
to the side, leaning against a parked car, face expressionless. Angel recognized him
from class, his name might or might not have been Michael, varsity wide receiver.
The six-foot, broad-shouldered blonde in front of them spoke first. Ryan was the
first-string varsity quarterback, popular across campus though somewhat deficient in personal charm.
"Going somewhere, Angel?" Ryan asked, his eyes raking up and down them.
Angel frowned and moved to the right, reaching for Bobby's arm to keep them both in motion, an unconsciously protective impulse. God, I hate jocks, Angel told himself.
Ryan's companion, a brown-haired boy who almost looked too big and hairy to be in high school, stepped forward and put his hand flat against Bobby's chest. Bobby stopped moving, startled, and looked to Angel then back into the face of the jock in front of him. He wasn't a small guy himself but this one outweighed him by maybe a hundred pounds. What the fuck, thought Bobby. He couldn't think clearly, his brain muddy. He could feel the heat of the other boy's hand against his tee shirt. What was left of the sun threw a kind of golden glow across the lot, sparking red reflections from windshields and casting shadows against the concrete.
"Look, we're just leaving." said Angel in what he hoped was a calm voice. His hands were shaking slightly. It was still light out but the campus was almost empty and no adults were near the parking lot. The last time something happened with Ryan, Angel had needed three stitches to close the gash from a class-ringed fist.
"Hey, Ryan," called his buddy, "Angel looks sooo pretty with all that makeup. Maybe we should let him go on, maybe he's got a date."
Ryan laughed. The jock in front of Bobby reached his hand up, tilting Bobby's chin. "Maybe this faggot is his date, guys." he snickered.
Bobby pulled back sharply.
Angel looked over the two boys in front of him. Swaggering, unsupervised, and seriously large jocks. Angel thought he smelled alcohol. Glancing to his left, he saw that Michael was gone. Ryan leaned in closer and Angel felt beer and sweat come off the boy in a wave of heat. Helpless anger welled up from somewhere in his stomach, making his hands shake harder and his jaw clench. Fucking morons. Angel felt slightly sick. Flutters in his stomach.
"Angel, you wear more makeup than my girlfriend," sneered Ryan.
Something tight burst in Angel's chest and his head cleared.
"That's not the only thing I do more than your girlfriend, Ryan," hissed Angel "when was the last time you got laid?"
Bobby sucked air in through clenched teeth. Ryan's response was more direct. He grabbed Angel's shoulders.
"What the fuck is going on here?" called a powerful voice.
All four turned and saw Gene, drawing close from the direction of the Drama Building, crossing the concrete in those long strides he was famous for, black eyes locked on the four.
Ryan let go of Angel and stepped back.
Gene, poised like a fencer, stopped beside them and after glancing across four faces, fixed on Ryan.
"Sellers, I asked you a question. What's going on here?" Gene's voice was low, eyes flinty.
Ryan looked at the debater, then at his friend, and shrugged. The tension already seemed to ebb.
It was amazing what Gene could get others to do, thought Angel numbly. Gene was considered the smartest guy in school and a champion at something strange and esoteric: cross-examination debate. He was cool and collected in every situation; he'd never been seen to sweat. Exactly why this gave him authority with the whole school, no one really knew but it did. Gene could stand up and walk out of any class without being questioned by the strictest teacher and he could command the attention, if not always the obedience, of the most brain-dead athlete. Now and then, this was useful.
"Well, Sellers?" Gene demanded.
You really had to have a cold patience to debate in Gene's league, thought Angel.
"Nothing." Ryan said reluctantly. He pushed his friend, hand to shoulder. "We were just leaving." The two turned towards their parked cars.
Frowning, Gene took a step towards them.
Angel put his hand on Gene's shoulder. He jumped at the contact, turning to look into Angel's black eyes.
"Please. Don't." Angel said flatly, meeting his eyes. Angel was very conscious that the other two were varsity jocks and somehow jocks got away with things, he'd seen it before. Whatever Gene was planning to do wasn't likely to end well. For even Gene to follow these guys over to their friends was a bad idea, almost as bad as whining to their coach or the principal. Northside football players walked on water. Sometimes right across the pond and into the Drama Club. Like just now.
Gene sighed and the muscles under Angel's hand relaxed. Angel dropped his hand, and then slid it around Bobby's tense waist. As they watched the two athletes rejoin their friends, Jaye rushed up, out of breath, from the direction of the drama building.
"Everything okay?" asked Jaye, breathing hard and looking from face to face.
Bobby stood beside Angel, strangely quiet, gray eyes blank. He seemed to have just gone somewhere else in his head, thought Jaye. Bobby didn't `do' conflict well under the best of circumstances.
Angel shrugged and took a deep, shaky breath. Bobby didn't change expression.
Gene was studying Angel, his head to one side and eyebrow raised. Angel avoided Gene's gaze and looked at Jaye.
"Hey, I thought you were hungry, Jaye. Let's go." Angel said in a flat voice and walked toward the white Mustang.
Jaye, after a moment's hesitation and a glance at Gene, followed a silent Bobby in Angel's wake.
Gene stood there in the parking lot, car keys now in hand, and looked after them thoughtfully. He retrieved his briefcase from the concrete and went looking for his car. The sun went fully down as he unlocked it, dimming all colors down like a spotlight easing a stage into black.
"Now it is the time of night,
That the graves, all gaping wide,
Every one lets forth his sprite,
In the church-way paths to glide:
And we fairies...
Following the darkness like a dream...
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended—
That you have but slumber'd here,
While these visions did appear..." Midsummer's Night Dream (Act V)
Angel spoke those closing lines to a hushed, full house, walking lightly back and forth across the orchestra pit, sometimes crouching with the grace of a cat. His black hair was artfully mussed and filled with forest leaves glinting in the blue spotlight that followed him. Behind Puck and filling the darkened stage with verdant growth, the magical forest stood tree-filled and mossy, glimmering with fairie light. Behind all this was a silken scrim painted with a delicate, low hanging summer moon. The spot dimmed, as the curtain smoothly fell, and all went dark.
Slowly, the audience woke from their three-hour Dream. The applause started light and rose quickly, beating at the baffled walls of the theatre, growing ever louder. It was a lapping noise like water that washed across the stage to the velvet curtain which opened to reveal the principal cast members standing side by side in the forest. They linked hands to the sound of seven hundred pairs of hands clapping and as one, bowed low.
The audience was on their feet at once, the clapping, lapping, susurrus of sound overwhelming them all in a tidal wave of noise and love.
In a deep red light, a naked Angel entered the crowded shower, feeling other boys brush against him like rough ghosts, touching and then gone. Hard bodies moved under the water, glistening wet and feral, making and breaking contact; boys moaning low in the throat, growling, grunting. Points of heat where they touched gave off sparks into the mass of gleaming, glowing flesh. Boys of summer, muscled, gold-crowned and sun-darkened, faces hidden, twisted and gleamed, smooth and wet. His eyes closed in delicious agony; he groaned into the hot mouth against his.
Angel's bare skin felt like flame where nameless boys touched it; a thigh brushing his, a hand on his face, a tongue drawing slow across his chest. His cock was hard and straining against his belly; fingers stroked up his thigh and into the tender crevice between his cheeks, teasing across his hole and then pressing against it, into it, thrusting. A sudden mouth he couldn't see engulfed him to the root, igniting a fire that pushed him over the edge. He gasped and arched his hips, thighs locked tight, as he felt the exquisite fire erupt and shoot out in a white-hot electric arc.
He opened his eyes and screamed. Blood!
Blood sprayed wild from the faucets, covering his skin with ruby red fluid, coating the bodies he could see in the dim light. Boys fell to the floor and were trampled in the crushing movement, standing bodies still writhing in desire and release as others slid lifeless to the floor, slick dicks shooting as their owners died on the tiles. Blood turned the water dark and murky, skin showed white between rivulets of red under the showerheads. Blood and cum and water mixed at his feet. A falling hand struck him as its owner fell into the swirling muck. Was that Bobby? The golden boys of summer, now ruddy with death and blood, dropped down in the dark as the water turned cold and the light died. Angel screamed yet again, a shrill shriek, as he felt himself falling.
Light was pale in a quiet night forest. The moon hung low. Moss dragged roughly down from branches into soft leaves and shadows. A bright young man stood naked in the moonlight and beckoned. Tall and dark-haired with a crown of starlight. Angel walked toward him, feeling the grassy earth under his bare feet. The forest was silent under the white moon: soft and safe and soothing.
He stood before the man, who looked at him and touched a tender finger to Angel's lips while drawing his other hand around Angel's waist. Angel relaxed into those strong arms and felt himself pulled close, the man's skin warm in the cool air. The young man drew his hand gently down Angel's face and leaned in to touch their lips together. Angel moaned and closed his eyes. Their kiss grew hot, tongues touching, mouths growing greedy. Angel felt the man hard against his naked thigh, his own cock erect and leaking.
The man gently pressed Angel down into the moss and leaves, trailing fiery kisses down his chest, licking at his nipples, drawing a tongue down his belly. The young man then pulled up and smiled at Angel in the moonlight; his hair gleaming with starlight, his face shadowed. Angel pulled his knees to his chest and apart, erection flat against his stomach.
The man knelt between Angel's legs and licked him in his most secret place, sucking at it and sliding his tongue inside. Angel writhed and moaned and pleaded, pulling his legs wider. The young man leaned over him, covering Angel with his body, sliding between Angel's legs to press against him, pushing into him. Angel groaned aloud and thrust his hips upward. He felt the hot hard length penetrating, filling him in a single, slow motion of exquisite pleasure. He cried out joyfully and reached for the man's shoulders, pulling him closer, deeper.
The man thrust, first pulling out all the way and then sheathing himself fully only to slide out yet again and return over and over. Angel cried out, begging, and the thrusts grew faster, harder, pounding against him, igniting him over and over again. There were stars in the man's hair and stars in Angel's eyes as he twisted in the leaves, grasping at the moss, his mouth open to release guttural sounds that he couldn't control.
Pleasure finally overwhelmed him and he climaxed without touching himself, spurting against his own chest as he felt the other impale him and hold still, body arcing in the moonlight. He leaned in to kiss Angel, his face very clear and very close. Angel gasped, jerking back.
The black eyes looking into his were Gene's.
Angel lit another cigarette after stamping out his third into the grass alongside the back entrance of the drama building. He squinted against the sunlight and tried not to think. He felt as if he'd stayed up the whole night. His neck and shoulders ached and his thoughts felt fuzzy.
Jaye leaned against the wall beside him, untamed blonde hair falling across his eyes as he smoked and studied his friend.
Angel's skin looked a little pale, dark under the kohled eyes, and Jaye could see a shimmer of something reddish on those lips. He looked slender in snug jeans and a tight white tee shirt of some material that seemed soft to the touch. A slim gold hoop hung in one ear. Angel even looked good when he was a mess.
"Have you seen Bobby today?" asked Angel finally.
Jaye started and then relaxed.
"He's not here. He wasn't in Math." Jaye answered.
They stood there, not talking further, while they smoked. Finally, Jaye ground out his cigarette and walked back to the drama room. Angel lit another and closed his eyes, more tired than he cared to be. He heard someone else exit the building, heard a lighter flick very close. There was a pause and the other person exhaled slowly.
Angel opened his eyes to find himself looking into the face from his starlight dream. Gene the Machine stood with perfect posture, cigarette in hand, coolly appraising Angel.
"You look tired." Gene said.
Angel searched for his voice, not finding it. He stared at Gene, senses overwhelmed again with the feel of last night's dream forest, so like the paper-mache Dream Forest where he'd spent weeks rehearsing. Trees. Moon. Gene's bare skin against his. He was annoyed to find himself breathing a little heavier. Gene gazed at him impassively, putting the cigarette to his mouth.
Angel stared at the filter tip against the other boy's lips and felt his groin tighten. He wanted to brush his fingers across that that smooth skin, touch the hollow of the other boy's throat. What the hell is wrong with me? I can't stand Gene and he's not even cute. Gene's features were average at best and his whole manner seemed polished and artificial, like those androids in the movies, something synthetic. Worse, he always seemed to know more than he should about what Angel was really thinking.
"Bad day, long night, not much sleep." said Angel with uncharacteristic brevity. He shifted his hips against the wall, needing to reach down and adjust the front of his jeans but not wanting to attract attention to the fullness there. Damn him. I should be grateful, though, about last night in the parking lot. But not as damn grateful as I was in that double-damned dream. Angel couldn't suppress a nervous snicker. Gene raised a Spock eyebrow and cocked his head to the side to look Angel up and down.
"You know, Angel, that if you didn't run around looking like some hollywood harem girl, the football team might leave you the hell alone," Gene drawled out slowly, eyes on Angel's.
If Angel were a cat, he'd have hissed. He wasn't, so he just glared and clenched his jaws.
"You're a shit, Gene."
"I'm serious.," offered Gene gently, with an almost imperceptible smile. "I didn't say you look bad, Angel, I'm saying why wave a red flag in front of a bull?"
Angel sighed. The resultant pause was a little longer than comfort allowed. Finally, Angel answered him.
"Look, Gene, this is me, this is who I am. I'm not gonna change something about myself just because I'm scared. Even so, I'm careful when I'm anywhere but the drama building." Angel paused and let out a long breath. "And let me tell you, being careful is really exhausting. You just get so tired. And when you're that tired..." Angel's voice trailed off. He watched a group of gray drama ducks walk along the side of the pond.
Gene took another drag from his cigarette and looked away.
"You were wonderful last night as Puck." Gene said without inflection, grinding out his cigarette with the toe of his loafer. Then he was gone.
Angel finished his cigarette alone.
Trig class was endless. The small room with fluorescent light beating down onto the scuffed desks felt confining and close. Angel slumped in his seat, arms curled around the textbook, pen in hand. He hated to work in pencil. The other students leaned into their desks, working problems from the board. Angel felt his head throb with the beginnings of a migraine. He had to redo yesterday's work, he'd gotten almost all of them wrong but still wasn't sure why. Angel frowned at the page.
Someone sat down in the empty desk next to him, book hitting the desk with a thump in the quiet of the room. Angel didn't look up. Whoever it was coughed lightly. Angel glanced over, out of the corner of his lowered eyelids, and saw the sneakers and muscular jeans-clad thighs of his neighbor. Angel raised his eyelids to find himself looking into impassive green eyes. It was that Michael-something, the jock. Angel frowned and turned eyes back to his book. He felt the other's eyes still on him.
"You looked amazing onstage last night, Angel," said the boy in a voice just loud enough to be heard. Angel looked at him sharply but he was smiling, green eyes steady. Angel hesitated, and then answered slowly.
"Thanks. Um, sorry, I'm not sure what your name is. Are you Michael?"
The boy raised his eyebrows and nodded.
"Angel, we have three classes together this semester and you don't know my name?" he asked Angel.
He seemed to be teasing; his voice was light and his smile steady. Angel felt confused. Three classes? I guess that's typical, he thought, everyone knows who the drama fag is but I don't know them. What's going on here? I can't remember the last time I talked to a jock that was smiling at me. Maybe never. And what about yesterday, in the parking lot? Michael had been there but then he disappeared. Should I ask?
"Michael, that was you last night in the parking lot with Ryan. I know what you guys think about me so why are we talking, what do you want?" Angel asked.
Michael brows had drawn together when Angel mentioned the parking lot and his bright smile thinned out and was gone.
"I'm sorry about that, Angel. The guys were a little toasted and when I saw what was up, I went to find a friend of mine. He's pretty good at solving problems and is always working after school. I saw him head out your way so I hung back and watched. It looked okay from there so I went on home." Michael paused and seemed to hunt for words. "I decided to talk to you today."
Angel stared at him, puzzled. Michael blushed.
"I mean, I've wanted to for a long time. Nothing ever really came up, though. So I just, um, decided to... sit down and talk." Michael said.
Michael's teeth bit into his lower lip as he finished speaking. It seemed unconscious. Was he nervous, Angel wondered? I don't get this, it almost feels as if he's...interested.
Michael was watching Angel's face closely. Michael was handsome in a quiet way: brown hair in a military cut, broad-shouldered with a lanky muscularity and a gentle, worried expression on his face.
"I don't understand." Angel said quietly. His Trig book had slipped down to the desktop.
Michael hesitated, glancing down and back up.
"Um. Angel? I'd like to study with you after practice. I know you're not, ah, doing well in Trig and I've got a decent grade. I like tutoring; it helps me keep my own grades up. I could...come over to the drama building after football practice. If you want. After the play is over. We could study at my house. Or yours. Or...wherever. I mean, if you think it'd be okay. If you want to." Michael wound down and went silent, looking worried, eyes locked to Angel's.
Angel reached around in his mind and couldn't come up with a single, solitary thought. This guy, this jock, wants to study with me. Study? Wasn't he Ryan Sellers' friend? Angel couldn't think clearly. Michael's eyes never left his, was he holding his breath? Maybe I'm reading too much into this. Or maybe I just need to stop thinking. Angel couldn't remember Michael ever speaking to him before, at any time, in any year.
Those green eyes never wavered. Angel felt himself flush. How had he never noticed those intense eyes before? He took a deep breath.
"Okay." Angel said simply.
Michael's eyes widened and he grinned, lighting up his face. Damn, thought Angel. Just what's going on here? Angel couldn't help himself and smiled back, shaking his head. He chuckled and reached for pen and paper. He wrote down his phone number and email address in a curly script and signed his name, `Angel', with a halo over the `A', in a flourish of glitter gel ink. He handed it to Michael, who folded it away into his back pocket, still smiling into Angel's eyes.
The bell rang. Jesus, God, thought Angel, blushing furiously, I can't stand up right now. He gathered his papers into his backpack slowly as Michael stood up and moved as if to leave then turned back to Angel, green eyes dancing.
"Angel? Thanks." Michael said and was gone.
Angel wasn't able to leave until the warning bell rang, and even then, he had to hold his math book in front, as he walked through the hall. This was ridiculous. He had a jeans problem over a football jock, of all things, a guy he'd never noticed before today. Angel laughed at himself. He concentrated on thoughts of swimming in cold water, chemistry class and his crazy Puerto Rican grandmother. In that order. It helped, but just barely. God, this was one fuck of a weird Friday.
After school, Jaye and Angel drove over to Bobby's house to pick him up for rehearsal. He'd missed the whole school day and hadn't returned any of their calls. They walked through the house after knocking at the door, getting no answer, and turning the knob to let themselves in. The house was dark and quiet. Angel wondered how Bobby's parents were taking things now, since last week's revelation. Bobby said very little but Angel knew he hadn't been sleeping. He'd had nightmares, he said. Angel could relate to dream problems. They made for circles under your eyes the next day and a tendency to jump like a cat when startled.
Bobby's bedroom door was ajar. They both paused and looked in before entering. Bobby lay across the bed in front of the television, face down asleep against his folded arms. Jaye walked to the TV and pushed the power button off. Angel sat down beside Bobby's head, reaching out to touch his curls. He didn't move.
Angel leaned down to kiss Bobby's neck when his eye caught something on the table, among the bedside clutter. It was the large bottle that had been in the bathroom for over a year, since that time Bobby had been unable to sleep at the start of their freshman year. He'd only taken a few back then, saying they made him feel groggy and stupid the next day. The almost full bottle had joined the other medicine cabinet kibble, alongside the aspirin and Maalox.
The bottle was empty.
[End of Chapter 4]
Thanks again for your support! I'm still learning and all of you are helping me even if it's just by reading Drama Club or joining the list, but the emails really keep me going TragicRabbit11@aol.com
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