The next few days seemed to blur together. I was totally infatuated with Buddy, and he was practically all I could think about. We had spent all of our free time together; having what he liked to call "C-C's," short for candid conversations.
He had told me about his family, the Maynards, it seemed they were pretty screwed up. His father had remarried, after his mom had a nervous breakdown and was committed to a mental hospital. His step-mom brought her two daughters into the folds. From things he told me, the two stepsisters could do no wrong. Buddy and his real sister were treated like second class people, and weren't even allowed to sit at the dinner table. Apparently, the table was only big enough to seat four, so Buddy and his sister, Betty, had to sit in the living room and eat off of television trays. He had also told me, that he and Betty had to sleep in makeshift bedrooms in the basement. It all sounded horrible, and it made me love him even more.
We were in study hall, sitting next to one another, having one of our deep conversations, when Debbie Dunster pushed her way by me, like she had a few days earlier, and sat down on the other side of Buddy. I could feel my heart pumping the blood through my veins. My temples began to throb with each pulsation.
"Hey Carl," she said, her voice oozing with sexy innuendo, and invitation.
I caught her smiling at him, and batting her eyes, it sickened me. I sat numb in my seat waiting to see what would happen next. I sat silently, hoping he'd excuse himself, and call me with him, as he had the last time Debbie interrupted us. I held my breath as I waited for his response; time froze for an instant.
"Debster," he said, in the soothing tone I'd become so familiar with, then he smiled his infamous smile.
I got lost somewhere in their giggles, and whispering. It was like I wasn't next to him any longer; it was like they were all alone. I sat in my seat motionless, and speechless.
`What was happening?' I wondered too myself. I wanted to scream it out loud. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. It hurt; it hurt so damn much to see him flirting with her, and hurt me even more to see him responding to her in such a positive manner. I was so confused, I'd been so infatuated with him, and I hadn't given it thought, that he wasn't like me. I was so sure that he was, but I never did broach the subject. I reached down for my book bag, and quickly got up to leave before they saw my tears, the ones aching to come.
"Where you going, Joe?" I heard his sweet voice.
I didn't turn around; I couldn't let him see my face. "Boys room."
I practically ran out of the auditorium, not once looking back, I couldn't bear to see him with her. Tears were streaming down my face; I didn't see the leg that tripped me. I fell on top of my book bag, sprawled out on the cold tile floor, tears soaking my cheeks. I looked up and saw a familiar face through my clouded vision. I had tripped over Shelly's foot; she had it sticking into the aisle. I was glad it was her. I'd known Shelly since we were kids. She was one of the girls like me, one of the girls I liked.
"Joe, are you alright?" She asked, with the utmost concern.
"Yeah, I'm ok," I kind of mumbled.
"You don't look ok. Where you going, you want me to come with you?"
She quickly grabbed her things and followed me out of the study hall. I felt better just having her with me. Shelly and I had been friends since my first year in Mayfield. We were in the same classes with each other until Junior High. Every school year, for five years, we had the same teachers, and always ended up sitting side by side, because our last names both began with letters from the beginning of the alphabet. I don't know if they do it in every grammar school, but in Mayfield, the teachers sat you alphabetically. The teachers started out every year saying the same thing, "I'll seat you alphabetically so I can get to know your names better, then you can move around." Shelly and I never changed our seats; we liked being next to each other. Besides Grizzly, Shelly was my only other real friend.
Shelly loved to play piano, and sing, I loved to sing. So once we both got into Junior High we joined the Chorus and Drama Club. We would spend hours at her house singing around the Caplan, family piano. Mrs. Caplan, Shelly's mom was a professional singer, she sang in many area nightclubs. A lot of times Shelly and I would just sit in her bedroom listening to CD's. We both liked Jewel, especially her `Pieces of You.'
"So what's wrong Joe?" Shelly asked, as we walked down the corridor.
"I don't know, I can't really explain it. I'm trying to be best friends with Buddy Maynard, we were talking, and then Debbie Dumpster comes along and moves right in. God I hate her so much." I rambled, between my sobs.
"Yeah, I don't like her much either, you know that."
"She's such a stuck up bitch."
"Yeah, but Joe, I don't think you have to worry about loosing Buddy as a best friend. He may like her, but you can still be his best friend," she reasoned.
I didn't want only to be his best friend. I wanted to be his boyfriend, but my sexuality was something that I had never discussed with anyone. Even though she was trying to comfort me, and doing her best, she didn't know how hurt I still was. I felt so alone.
"Yeah, you're right, I just can't stand Debbie, that's all."
I hid all my emotions and put a smile on my face. We kept walking aimlessly around the hallways, Shelly and I, not really saying much else. I felt good having her beside me, I knew people saw us together, and assumed we were a couple. I always felt good when I was next to Shelly. Finally the bell rang, I was calmed down, I escorted her to her next class and decided to skip the rest of the day. I walked home.
It was a chilly morning, just before noon, somewhere in November. The leaves had pretty much been stripped off the trees, the ones strewn on the sidewalk crunched below my feet as I walked. I could hear the wind whipping through the naked branches of the huge Elms and Oaks that lined Mayfield Street. The sky had a grayish color, with wisps of blue, and shades of black, clinging around some clouds. I figured it might snow, it had that look and certainly was cold enough.
I finally reached my house, I was freezing, and I was tired. I walked into my bedroom and flung myself onto my bed. I buried my face into my pillow and cried. I hated the way I was I wanted so badly to be normal. I screamed out, I beat the shit out of my pillow. `Why, why, why,' I wondered to myself, `why was I gay?' `...pretty girl, do you hate her `cause she's pieces of you... you say he's a faggot, are you afraid you are just the same, are you afraid he's pieces of you...' Jewel's words swam in my head. Over and over again I kept hearing the song in my head. I pulled the pillow over my head, and held it to both my ears with my hands, trying to make it stop. I cried harder, and finally fell into a deep sleep. I was startled out of my slumber by the phone ringing. I moved as quickly as I could to my parent's bedroom, where we kept an extension line, and answered it.
"Hello," I groggily said.
"Joe, is that you?"
I recognized his voice immediately; my heart began to pound in my chest. All of a sudden I was stricken with fear. I slowly reasoned in my mind I had nothing to be afraid of. It wasn't as if Buddy knew why I had ran from the auditorium crying, or even knew why I would have been. I took in a few quick deep breaths, cleared my throat, and relaxed.
"Yeah," I uttered into the mouthpiece, my voice still sounding like I'd been in a deep sleep.
"Did I wake you?"
"Yeah." I wanted to keep my conversation brief because I feared I'd start crying.
"Did you leave school or something? I didn't see you after study. Are you sick?" He sounded so sweet, and I could hear the concern in his voice.
"Kind of," I answered him, melting inside.
It was right then, that moment; I started to think to myself, that if I really wanted him as my best friend, and my boy friend, I'd have to tell him how I felt. I'd have to tell him I was gay. I had listened to him for the past few days; so many times he seemed to drop subtle hints. I had watched him closely, for other subtleties, ones I was certain that gave away his real self. I had heard him say more than once, "I'd try anything once, and if I liked it twice," and his "Always forward, never straight," line several times. The cryptic kinds of things he'd say that I certainly seemed to understand. I watched the way he'd put his hand flat under his chin, limp wristed, holding his head up and smiling at me. I'd studied the way he swished when he walked. I'd observed the way he dressed, his clothes always color coordinated. He had to be gay like me; he just had to be.
"Do you want some company?"
`Perfect timing,' I thought to myself, as I said, "Yeah, come on over."
"Cool, `cause I got something to tell you. I'm so excited, Joseph Thomas Andrews."
"And I got something to tell you Carl Douglas Maynard, Junior."
"Eww, I hate it when people call me that, just call me Buddy."
"I'll call you Buddha, instead."
"That's cool, I'm a God," he quipped, and then chuckled.
"Sees you in a few."
"I'm out!" I heard him say, before the phone went dead.
Just what I needed, more confusion did he mean he had come out, or was he just saying he was out, like out the door? I hung up the phone, and decided I needed to splash some cold water on my face. I was nervous as hell. There was no turning back now; I had told him I had something to tell him. So this was it, this was going to be my day of reckoning. I walked into the kitchen, stood in front of the sink, turned on the water and filled my hands with cold water, then splashed it on my face. After a few times of doing that, and feeling completely awake, I looked at the clock, it was just about 3:30, my mom would be home in a half-hour. `Shit,' I thought to myself, `we're going to have to go somewhere so I can tell him.'
I walked into the living room sorting out my thoughts, and trying to figure out where we could go. I flopped into my favorite chair, my step dad's recliner, reached for the television remote and clicked on MTV, `TRL' was half over, but I didn't really pay any attention to it. I was busy thinking of how I could tell him my deepest secret, and hoping Buddy would get to my house before my mother got home. Finally it came to me; I'd just leave a note saying I went to the mall. I'd walk up the street to the corner, and wait for Buddy, if he didn't show up in the next ten minutes. I looked at the clock on the cable box; it read 3:35.
I sat in the chair, my hands clenching to themselves, trying to watch TV, but my mind was a flurry of thoughts. I wondered what I'd say, and how I'd say it. I mean it wasn't like I'd ever done this before, tell someone I was gay. I had a hard enough time admitting it to myself, but I had to tell him, I loved him, I loved everything about him.
`Always forward, never straight,' I thought to myself, as I waited...
To Be Continued.
If you liked what you've read so far, and would like to see more, e-mail me. My address is Justin69SK@aol.com