Sometimes, I feel so very alone. I sit in my bedroom and stare out the window. I look out upon the world; I wonder why I'm here, and what the purpose of my life is. Am I the only one like me? Will I ever meet someone like me? What am I going to be when I grow up. It's a constant nagging feeling that overcomes me; it's a feeling of uncertainty.
I must be the only one that feels the way I do, because when I look around at others in my classes, or in my school, they all seem so happy, so confident. Will I ever meet another? One, whom I can love, and one who will love me back? Will I ever meet a true soul mate? Someone, I can trust with all my heart? I ache from the pain I feel.
I had a best friend. We met in school, his name is Carl, and his nickname is Buddy. I loved him, I really did.
I'll never forget when I first met him, he walked into the auditorium, it was more of a saunter, or confident stride. His dark brown eyes tore into me; they seemed to rivet into my being. I immediately felt a pang of guilt, and my body shuddered. Guilt, because he was a guy, and so was I, these feelings I had, weren't supposed to be. No my feelings were wrong. Wrong, according to most, wrong according to what I had been taught.
I caught him staring back at me; I looked the other way. He sat down right beside me. I held my breath, the fear welled up inside of me like a huge wave coming into the shoreline, and it surrounded me, it crashed against the inner walls of my body. Was he going to say something? Did he notice me gawking at him? `Oh my god, I hope he didn't see me looking at his crotch,' I thought silently to myself, as he shifted in his seat and looked directly at me.
"Hey dude, my name's Carl, but most people call me Buddy," he said, as he extended his right hand to me.
I felt the soft warmth of his skin press against my own flesh as I took his hand in mine. I gently shook hands with him.
"Hey," was the only response I could seem to muster.
"I've seen you around the halls and shit. Aren't you friends with Grizzly?" His voice sounded so friendly, so comforting, it actually pierced my thoughts and brought me places I'd never knew existed.
"Yeah, he's a friend of mine," I managed to put a few words together, as I sat there breathless, and frightened.
"So, do you have a name, or what?" He smiled at me, his teeth looked so perfect, and his lips so thin, yet puffy. His skin looked so smooth, and tanned. His looks transfixed me.
"Umm? Oh, yeah, my name is Joe."
I thought about Grizzly, and wondered how Buddy knew him. Grizzly was a quiet kid, much like me. He wasn't one of the `In Crowd.' Grizzly, was a `transfer in kid,' he came from the Catholic school. I'd known him most of my life, he was my next door neighbor. I wondered how Buddy knew him, because most of the transfer kids were only known by the other `transferred ins'. His real name was Gerard, but we all called him Grizzly, `cause he looked like a grizzly bear. He was robust, and had long hair; his arms were short for his body, as were his legs.
Grizzly and I had hung around since I moved here, when I was in second grade. His parents had built their house; my parents bought the one we lived in. His house was one of the first built on the street, ours was one of the many built during a building boom. He was in third grade, only a year older than I was, but also, the only other boy in the neighborhood that was around my age. We both got bikes the same Christmas, and it was our bond. It was my first Christmas in Mayfield.
My family had lived in Chesterfield, a small city that was becoming over run by street gangs. We had lived in a two-family house; we rented the second floor. My mother worried about my sister and I, ever since a little girl got shot walking home from school. It was a drive-by, and as far as I know they never caught the shooter. She worried so much; she finally told my stepfather that if we didn't move, she'd leave him. To be honest, I wished she had.
I remember the first day at our new house, Grizzly was in his driveway staring at us as we unpacked the trailer and car of all our worldly possessions, and moved them into our new home. My mother called him over and asked him his name; she encouraged me to go play with him. I was totally embarrassed, or as embarrassed as seven-year-old could feel. I reluctantly followed my newfound playmate to his yard. We didn't really talk, it was more like a forced meeting, and I think he was as uncomfortable as I was.
"Yeah, I've known Griz for while now, he works with me," Buddy said, startling me back to reality.
I quickly remembered where Grizzly worked, the Cinema, a place I'd come to know and love. He had worked there since the summer before, and because he worked there, he got free movie passes. I had been to see a movie a week since. It suddenly dawned on me that I'd noticed Buddy at the theater, he was one of the ushers. He looked different in his `street clothes.' I hadn't really recognized him until I thought about it. There had been something about him. Something that attracted me, the many times I had noticed him in his black tuxedo pants, white shirt with the black bow tie. Something I couldn't quite seem to put my finger on, but a feeling of familiarity seemed to come over me whenever I'd seen him collecting tickets. Yes, the memories of his smile flashed in my mind.
"You used to come every Friday, I've seen you lots," he continued, his voice so soothing.
I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I was so afraid, so awfully afraid of my feelings. I looked around the vast room, I saw all the other kids chattering away and not paying a bit of attention to us. What was I so afraid of? `He's just another boy,' I thought in an attempt to console myself. I felt my 'wave' subside, I eased out a slight breath.
"Yeah, now I remember seeing you around."
He flashed me another smile. My body seemed to be wrapped in some sort of warmth, as his eyes searched mine. I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. My mind raced with thoughts of hope; thoughts, that he was like me. Or were they only wishes? Was I caught up in some fantasy, some daydream filled with illusions? I decided in that brief second that I'd be careful. As much as I seemed drawn to Buddy, and as much as I wanted to become closer to him, I'd only do so with the utmost candor.
"So Joe, what do ya know?" He mused.
I laughed at his attempt of humor. I'd heard that joke so many times in my sixteen years, but when he said it, it was like the first time ever. I felt my stomach churning, I swear to God, I heard it rumble. At the same time, I seemed to hear a comfort in his soothing voice; it relaxed me and aroused my curiosity. I felt as if I needed to get to know him, a desire to have him in my life overtook my conscious thoughts.
"Not too much, Buddy."
"Oh, I see you're a man of many words. It's Ok, we have lots of time to get to know each other."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"I don't know too many other kids in here, and you're the only one I recognized," he explained, his voice seemed somewhat defensive.
I was drawn back to the study hall, and realized he was just as nervous as I was. In that quick revelation of himself, he seemed like me. Afraid of people he didn't know, and unsure of himself. Perhaps it was the uncertainty his voice held, and that perplexing look his face took on as he explained his purpose for sitting next to me. It was the kind of thing only I would notice. The subtleties of others are almost like a fixation of mine, as I search for someone like me. It has been something I have done since I was about fourteen. Watch other people, mostly guys, to see if I could find some hidden clue. A clue that would tell me they were like me.
"Well, it is the first day of the semester, and I guess we'll be here every Tuesday and Thursday until mid January, if that's what you mean by lots of time." I don't know why I was trying to be so elusive, or distant.
"I'm sorry, man, if I'm bothering you. Would you like me to move?"
"Nah, it's Ok. I didn't mean anything, I'm just in a weird mood."
"Cool," he said, and then he flashed another of what was becoming his famous smile.
"So, how well do you know Grizzly?"
"Not really enough to chill with, but I know him from work."
Just as he said it I felt someone push their way by me. I looked up and saw Debbie Dunster, she had a huge grin on her face as she plowed her way through the aisle and sat down in the seat on the other side of Buddy.
"Carl," her voice forcefully raised, and sounding radiant.
I felt like a distant ship, somewhere off in the ocean, alone. My hopes seemed to be dashed. I reached down to my feet, where I kept my book bag, and took, out my English book. `Might as well review my homework,' I thought silently to myself.
"So, do you know Joe?" I heard Buddy ask.
"He's in my homeroom. Hey Joe!" She said all friendly like.
I looked at her and put on a half smile. I mean, I'd known her for most of my life, but never really talked to her. Debbie Dunster was too popular for me; at least that's the impression I always got. I had never paid her much attention, and don't think I even liked her. She was way too fake for me, always trying to be someone she wasn't, or acting like she was more important than she was. Maybe it was because she was a girl, and I don't have many interests in girls. I tried to have them, but they never seemed to come to me naturally. I tried to force them, but couldn't seem to connect with girls, the way that was expected of me. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like girls, and have lots of friends that are girls, but it's only girls that I'm like. Or, should I say `girls that are like me?' The kind of girls that are honest with themselves, and others, the kind of people who aren't afraid of revealing who they really are, the ones who seem totally in their own skin. Those are the kinds of people I like most, and am most like.
I looked over my English book, but I didn't see any of the words on the pages. My mind flurried with thoughts of Buddy. I hadn't known him until a few minutes ago, and now, he was all I wanted to know. I half listened, as Debbie went on and on about something or other. I looked up from my book at one point and caught Buddy looking at me; he shot me a glance and rolled his eyes. I smiled at him. Then, he moved his head in the direction of the door. In an instant, I knew he was talking to me, he was telling me he wanted to leave the room with me. I nodded my head in agreement.
"Hey Joe, did you still want to get them passes to the movies? `Cause if you want them, we have to get them out of my locker now."
I felt a little power come over me, it was like we had a secret, one that only he and I knew. I knew he really didn't have any tickets for me, but I also knew he wanted to get away from Debbie, and he wanted to do it with me. I don't know why, but for some reason I was totally drawn in, and ready, willing, and able to follow along.
"Yeah, I really did need them. Gee, Deb, it was good seeing you."
I felt like I'd known him forever as we walked out of the auditorium. I walked behind him as we left the study hall; I walked with a sense of pride. I was happy to have been noticed by him, and even happier to be seen walking with him, as his friend. I couldn't help but watch his butt, as he strutted ahead of me, he had a definite wiggle to his walk. I wondered if it meant anything, or was it just the way he moved, and I hoped it was a clue to who he really was. I hoped he was like me.
Time would tell, and I had time, like Buddy said, we had lots of time.
To be continued---
If you liked what you just read, and would like to read more of this story, please e-mail me. My e-mail address is Justin69SK@aol.com