By Martin Clement
Unless otherwise noted, this story is Copyright © 2006 by Martin Clement for Clement & Boule Associes. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, published, distributed, displayed, performed, copied or stored for public or private use in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process, including electronically or digitally on the Internet or World Wide Web, or over any network, or local area network, without written permission of the author.
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You know, I didn't need a lot to be happy. No need of a brand new sport car. No need of being popular. No need of a lot of friends who would stab me in the back, nor fans, nor cash, nor anything that superficial. I already had two friends in Mike and Federico. I didn't need more. I had gotten my mother back. Oh! there was still a lot of work to be accomplished between me and her. But with the discussions we had this last week-end, I thought we were on a good way to understanding each other. Jeez! I was finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Did that mean I was on my way to recovery? I couldn't be so sure, but I could certainly hope.
Realizing that somebody had painted back my locker to its old original colour was almost bringing tears to my eyes. I know it was just a locker, but the pink colour brought a symbolic I didn't want to have. This meant I was different. But I was not different. I was human. Black or Jewish or Arab or gay, who fucking cares! Because who I preferred didn't mean who I was. Being gay was not who I was. I didn't want to fit in any stereotype. Because I was so small, I should have been acting girlish? Because I was not good at sports meant I was weak? Because I was shy, I had to be a sissy? I was not the only small guy in my school. I was not the only one who was not good at sports. I was certainly not the only introverted kid either. And I was surely not the only gay guy in the school. Trust me, I had read about it. I was just a teenager trying to fit with the others.
The difference in colours between my locker and everyone else's just meant that I was different. In medieval times, during the plague epidemic, they used to paint red crosses on houses' doors where people were infected. So my pink locker was my own personal red cross on the door.
So it was my father who had painted my locker in green, and I knew exactly when he did it. I didn't know what to think of it. Before last Thursday, I hadn't heard my father talking to me for five years. Hell! I always thought he had even forgotten I was still living under his roof, the way he was ignoring me. But Thursday, my father had told me he was sorry for not being a good enough father. He had recognized it. And in front of Federico, by the way!... Federico... Yeah, he was right. Sometimes, even if we were not the responsible of what happened to separate people, when the others had made the first steps, it was ours to meet them halfway, if we considered having them back in our lives. Oh! it didn't mean that I had to forget all about the pain my father caused me. It didn't mean I had to jump to his neck and tell him I loved him unconditionally either. But I could just do as I had done with my mother. She walked half way to me with mugs of coffee as white flags, and I had met her at the doorway. We had been able to talk. I had been able to tell her how hurt I had been and still was. She didn't try to kiss the pain away. We both did it.
Maybe I could repeat the experiment with my father, since now he seemed eager to be able to talk to me. Maybe it could work. Now, with my locker gone green again, I knew he had tried to meet me halfway. He took all the steps my way he could and now, he was waiting for me to decide if I wanted to retract myself or walk his way. I used to love him, the same way I used to love my mother. He hurt me. Yes, it was true. But what happened to Federico's advice of living in the now instead of trying to change the past? Maybe I could try. I could lose nothing more by it. Yes, I would do it tonight, if he would let me.
It had happened the same between me and Mike. We had talked. He had met me halfway. He didn't try to make me like him. He simply wanted to tell me he was sorry. So there he stood, waiting to see if I would come back and talk to him. He was there to hear me telling him I hated him. He never moved since last Thursday. Oh! he made a single mistake, but I could say that he made up for it Thursday night, when we closed the bookstore, and later, when he simply held my hand the whole night. He had gained the right to call himself my friend. But with the simple act of replacing my notes by copying his, now he had won back his own title of best friend to me.
The day went by with me flying on cloud nine. Everybody kept looking at my as if I had grown an arm in the middle of the face, but I actually preferred them looking at me that way than the way they used to do... with disgust.
At lunch time, I wanted to head to the cafeteria where Mike would be waiting for me, but not before making a quick stop at my locker. Yeah... life was really nice to me that day. I didn't really need anything from it, since that afternoon was Computer Science. But I just wanted to take a look at it again. So I walked down to the hall and into my locker row, and stood in front of my locker... My green as every other one locker. Yes, my father's gesture had really made my day. For the first time since I was in high school, I could say I was proud. I was proud of that first beautiful day, but mainly, I was proud of Mike and my father.
"Hey, poof!" This day was going too good... I tried to ignore Matthew Harris as he leaned on the locker next to mine. But he couldn't bear to be ignored like this. "Hey, poof! I'm talking to you!" he said again, and I could feel the smirk on his face. "Nice locker, isn't it, faggot?"
"Please, leave me alone..." I whispered.
"What? I didn't understand what you said." He snorted, then grabbed me by the collar and slammed me in the locker. I was starting to become afraid. "So you're a poof and also a fucking rat, aren't you?" He slammed me again and I felt blood flooding from my nose. "So you told Howell it was me who poured syrup in your locker, huh?" He tackled me with an arm behind my neck, then grabbed a handful of my hair and pulled me so he could spit in my face before slamming it again. "Answer me!"
Now his face was red. He was enraged. I felt weak in the knees. The metallic taste of my own blood finding its way to my mouth made me nauseous and I gagged once. He kicked me in the back with his knee, tossed me to the floor and left, saying "Peace of shit!"
I must have stayed there on the floor, holding my nose, for about five minutes. Rare persons passed me by but nobody stopped to even ask me if I was alright. That hurt almost as much as my nose. Some jocks even laughed at me. I made my way to the nearest washroom to clean myself, but when my eyes met my reflection in the mirror, I couldn't help but start crying. I was a mess. I had blood all over my shirt. My nose was still bleeding and my eyes were starting to darken. But the worse was not the physical pain I was in. No. That day had been too perfect! Too fucking perfect! So was this how it was supposed to be? What was it with everybody trying to make me feel better? A fucking plan? A plan to hurt me more? Now that the fucking faggot looked almost unattainable, people had to find a way to torn his life apart?
So I left the washroom and headed for the doors leading outside. Mike would be waiting for me in the cafeteria by now, but I couldn't face him right then. When he asked me in the morning if he could join me for lunch, I was almost skipping in the parking lot of the school. I had eaten all alone as the looser I was, back in the corner, with the noise coming from the vents in my ears. I didn't care much about the noise, since it kept mostly everybody far enough from this area of the cafeteria for me to have some peace and eat. But I was always alone. It wouldn't have been that bad if I had been all alone in that cafeteria, but every single day, seeing all these people seeming to have so much fun chatting together was killing me softly. I never stayed very long, eating fast enough to get away early and find my way to the library on the second floor, where during lunchtime, I would really be almost alone.
I didn't stop. Instead, I started walking faster. It seemed as Mike had preferred waiting for me on a bench near the stairs instead of going to the cafeteria right away. Maybe he had gone but realized I was late and came to check on me. Maybe he was on Matthew's side, after all... No. I couldn't think that. He had been too nice to me for the last couple of days.
"Lucas! I'm here!" he said.
I continued walking and went outside. I knew Mike was following me, cause he was constantly calling my name. At this point, I was running. I couldn't face him. I was such a mess and I didn't want him to see me that way. I couldn't let him see that all the good time I had with him had been destroyed in an instant. I couldn't let him see how upset I was when all I wanted to show him was how happy he made me by helping my father rebuilding my dignity in the school. I had to go away. I had to hide until I could show him how proud I was of him. Now was not the time. Maybe it would never be.
So I ran faster, Mike still following me and calling after me, telling me to stop... And I did. I stopped, not because Mike had told me too, but because I felt trapped. There, walking my way on the sidewalk with a can of soda in his hand, maybe a hundred feet in front of me, was Matthew Harris. It didn't take long for Mike to join me. And when he took a look at my blood stained shirt, then at Matthew, his whole face went red with anger.
"Tell me!" he told me. "What happened?" he asked, pointing at my shirt. But I couldn't respond. "Lucas, who did that to you? Is it Harris, again?" I was frozen. I only wanted to get away and cave... why wouldn't they let me? "Lucas, answer me, please!"
I simply nodded. I knew being a rat would just get me to more trouble, but I was tired of being Harris' personal punching ball. I was sick of it. I didn't even need to be a rat to get a beating from him. I couldn't count how many times in my life he had made my life a living hell. So I nodded. That was the worst mistake I had made in my whole life, and I realized it when Mike started running his way and punched him in the face.
"Michael! Please! Don't do it! Come back here, Michael! It was nothing, I promise!" I pleaded for him to stop fighting.
Oh! I wasn't that scared for Matthew's safety, since he was as big as Michael. And actually, he could have gone to hell! But I was afraid for Mike. I didn't want him to risk being hurt. I didn't want him to make things worse. I had always hated fights. They always lead to more harm to no avail. It had always rivals become enemies, cultures go to war, religions to claim their supremacies, people to kill and torture. Nothing good had ever come out from fights. And I was sure it would all be the same today, as I was witnessing Mike and Matthew rolling on the sidewalk, punching each other in the face, trying to be the very one winner of this fight that would just make their hate for one another grow.
"Mike! Stop that, please!" I yelled, trying to get him off Matthew. But my grip on his shoulder did nothing to retain him. So they both continued to fight.
"You son of a bitch! Won't you fucking leave him alone?" Mike yelled, finally releasing his grip from Matthew.
Mike must have used more strength than usual, or maybe Matthew had been unprepared to confront him. May was it because they never had fought together, but when Matthew had gotten free from Mike's grip and lifted himself from the sidewalk, he was a little disoriented. Had I been sadistic, I would have laughed. But I didn't. Nothing in this fight had been very funny. I even felt a shiver going down my spine, thinking at how it could have all ended.
Matthew still looked confused when he started walking backward, looking me in the eyes, not so sure about what had just happened. But when he started backing on the street, that's when I yelled at him
Seeing as Matthew was turning too slowly, I knew then I didn't have much time. So I charged him and tossed him on the other side of the road. He was safe.
These were the last words I heard before my legs were hit hard and I was lifted from the street and my head smashed in the windshield. There were tire screeches on the asphalt, shattering glass, I thought I could even hear screams as my body rolled back to the road. When they say you see your whole life passing through your head, it is just a whole bunch of bullshit. Then my body stopped moving in its chaotic way and the noises stopped. There was a door slamming and a woman crying. I couldn't move. There was a minute of silence just for me.
"Lucas! Answer me! Lucas!" I heard Mike yelling.
"Don't touch him!" the woman's voice said. "You might hurt him more. I'm calling an ambulance! Look in the car, there is a comforter. Just cover him with him. But be sure you don't move him! It might kill him! Understand? You! Come and help him!"
I felt the comforter over me. I felt like sleeping. That day had been so eventful..."
"Lucas, stay with me." I heard Mike's voice. I felt nothing.
I lost conscious.
To be continued...
Sorry to leave you on that note here, but Chapter 8 is over. I know it might seem cruel, but well... I like to leave on that kind of cliff-hangers just to make sure you'll be back for next chapter. He, he. Don't forget that constructive comments are always welcomed and that I'll try to answer all your messages. Not bad, until now, I have answered all of them. Don't forget to write the word Hate in the subject line for being sure it doesn't risk to join the Spam in my delete box.
I'm working on Chapter 9 right now. Will Lucas live? Will he die and become a martyr? You know, it could happen! four more chapters to come before it's over. I still hope you like the story so far and that you'll like the rest of it.
As for now, stay tuned!