I had waited ten minutes, he hadn't shown up, my heart began to sink, sadness tugged at me. My body felt as if I was being squeezed tightly, as if a vice had surrounded my being. A rush of thoughts ran through my mind; `was he going to show, what was taking him so long, what am I going to say to him?' I turned off the television, grabbed my jacket, wrote a quick note letting my mom know I had gone to the mall, and headed out the door.
A burst of cold air slapped me in the face and stripped my breath away as I opened the door. Tiny balls of ice being whipped around by strong gusts of wind pelted my cheeks as I stepped onto the porch. They felt like tiny, red-hot, needles poking into my soft skin; stinging me so badly it brought tears to my eyes. A snow squall had taken hold while I had been napping. `No wonder he's late,' I comforted myself thinking. My body pushed on, and I walked against the wind towards the corner. The early season storm had already managed to dump a couple inches of snow and freezing rain onto the ground. The sky had become darkened with sort of a tinge of pink illuminating from the grayness of the late afternoon sun.
I waited silently at the corner, noticing there wasn't much traffic. In the distance I saw only one set of headlights coming in my direction, from where Carl would be traveling. They excited me, as I hoped it would be him, and suddenly I felt fear take hold of me. `What exactly am I going to say to him,' I wondered to myself. My heart began to beat faster in my chest as the car neared me; my hopes became spirited as I recognized the car was Buddy's. My lips began to smile uncontrollably, and a familiar warmth came over my body, as I waved my arms over my head. I was so excited to see him. I just can't explain how seeing him, or being near him drove me crazy. His car slowed and he pulled to the side of the road. My moment of truth was upon me, suddenly as I got into the car my excitement became replaced with a deadening fear.
"Hey Joe, what do ya know?"
I took my seat in the warm vehicle, looked at his gorgeous face for a brief second, and smiled what felt like a huge, goofy, smile. I felt so awkward, with an inability to control my feelings, or facial expressions. At the same time I was wracked with guilt over my extreme feelings of love for him. It was like whenever I thought about, or was with him, I wanted to do everything at once. I wanted to sing, I wanted to dance, I wanted to shout, I wanted to scream, I wanted to run, and I wanted to hide. He made me feel like nothing else could, or has ever made me feel. My attraction to him was like a shear adrenaline rush, totally beyond those of my mere words.
"I could have picked you up at your house," he said in that soothing voice I'd become so familiar with.
"Nah, I wanted to get out alone with you, and my mom is due home any minute."
"Oh, you want to be alone with me. Cool, `cause I wanna be alone with you too."
Oh man, he always does that, says things that add to my confusion. I sat in his car now thinking to myself, `does he want to be alone, ALONE, or just alone?' I know which alone I wanted to be with him, and it was ALONE! I wanted to be next to his naked body, feel his smooth skin against my own. I wanted to fondle him gently, and have him kiss me all over. I wanted those thin lips of his to touch my own. Yes, I wanted to be ALONE, with him.
I looked over at him as he drove his car on the ice and snow covered roads. I thought to myself how serious he looked. His dark brown eyes seemed to bead down on the road ahead of us, his black eyebrows squinching together causing lines in his forehead. There was no mistaking his determination to keep the car under control. I loved him even more for it. He made me feel so important, so safe, I was happy to be in his care and company. I was able to relax a little.
"So, where you wanna go?" His voice cut through my thoughts.
"How about the mall?"
"Good place to be alone," he kind of chuckled as he said.
"No one will be there in the middle of this storm," I defended my stance.
"Ok, the mall it is. Your wish is my command."
His words made it even more so, my feelings of attachment to him. I thought about my wishes being his command. I ached to be held in his arms and hear him whisper it in my ear. I wanted him so much, I wanted to be a part of him, and him a part of me. I was convinced, the moment he said it, that he was like me, I was convinced he was gay.
I felt so important in his life. I'd known him a little less than a week, but my feelings for him were so strong, strong enough that I felt better about myself. It was like he had these magical powers over me. Like then, at that moment, while he was driving with such care, it made me feel like he was totally concerned about me and my safety. I was hooked, hooked on another boy, and couldn't control my feelings no matter how wrong they were supposed to be.
He maneuvered his car expertly into a parking space and we slowly walked into the mall. I desperately wanted to hold his hand. I wanted to feel one of his arms around me as we walked towards the building. The fear began building inside of me, as I knew there was no turning back. I was going to tell him I was gay.
The short walk through the parking lot into the mall seemed to take less time than it normally did. I found myself sitting on a bench, my legs straddling it so I could face him. He did the same, and faced me. The mall seemed deserted, as I knew it would. It was as if we were the only two people in the building. Once we sat down, time seemed to freeze. I could feel my heart racing, my anxiety level raising, and the palms of my hands sweating. The moment had arrived.
"Buddy, I have something I want to tell you."
He looked me right in the eye. That same serious look came over his face, the one he had while driving the car in the storm. He didn't say a word, just nodded his head.
"This is hard. I've never done it before. I don't know quite what to say."
"Are you ok, Joe?" His voice full of genuine concern,
"Yeah, I'm ok, it's just that what I have to say is something I've never said to anyone before.
"It's ok man, I'm here for you. Whatever you want to tell me will stay with me. You know, one of our `CC-s," he seemed to want to assure me, as if he knew what I wanted to tell him.
I started slowly, and went through a tirade of thoughts. I told him about how I found him fascinating, I confessed to him about how I had thought about other boys in a sexual way. I asked him if he ever had. He admitted that on a few occasions he'd given it some thought; it was just what I had needed to hear.
"I'm gay, Buddy, and I love you." I had ended the charade. I had made my toughest confession in my entire life, and there was no going back.
I watched for his reaction, I hoped for a smile or an embrace; neither came. Instead, he looked at me, his eyes became intent, and his face took on a more serious expression than I had ever seen. I held my breath as I waited for his response.
"I'm flattered, Joe. I am, and I love you too."
I could feel it coming, and at the same time I could hear the `but,' before he uttered it.
"But, I don't think I'm gay. As a matter of fact I wanted to tell you about Debbie. I asked her out today. Oh, and I also wanted to ask you to come to the movies tomorrow night. Bill, another guy that I work with wants to go out for pizza after work, and I thought that since you come every Friday, you'd come with us." His words fired at me like bullets out of a machine gun.
`Did he hear me?' I wondered to myself, but decided to let it go. Maybe it wasn't the right time. That thought was replaced with my sudden realization that he had just told me he was going out with Debbie, Debbie Dumpster. I looked at him, and gave him a faint smile.
"Yeah, cool. I'll go with you guys tomorrow night."
I sat on that bench looking at the guy I had just told I loved, and ached. I felt so alone. I wanted so much for him to take me in his arms and say he loved me too. I wanted so much for him to tell me he was just like me. Instead, he bowled right over my words, and ignored my feelings. That sweet embrace I longed for wasn't to be. I consoled myself in his admission he had had similar thoughts about other boys, and convinced myself; eventually I would win him over. It was all I could do to keep going.
"Let's get out of here. I got to work tonight, I don't have much time." His words cut through me like a skillfully sharpened razor cutting through tissue paper, as he quickly dismissed whatever importance I had placed on the moment.
He took me home; we barely spoke the entire ride back to my house. Just as we turned onto my street he started rambling on about how he had asked Debbie out, and how she had said yes. He sounded so excited, I didn't interrupt him, and I just listened and ached inside. It was Debbie this, and Debbie that, it was Debbie, Debbie, Debbie... `What about me? What about what I said?' I wondered to myself as he prattled on about Debbie. I hated her more now than I had ever before. I was thankful when we reached my driveway; I didn't know how much longer I could have sat without screaming out.
"See you tomorrow in school. Drive carefully." I called to him as I closed the car door.
"Yeppers, you be safe," I heard him say as the door slammed shut.
I watched him as he backed the car out of the drive. I waved to him as he turned his head to look at me before he drove away. I gave him a faint smile. It was all I could do to keep myself from crying. The conversation played itself over and over, again and again, in my head as I slowly went in my house and headed straight to my bedroom.
"Dinner is in fifteen minutes," Mom called to me, as I closed the door to my room.
I sat at my computer desk, stared out the window at the dark sky, and listened as the hail lightly tapped at the glass. I blindly gazed out into the world, and wondered why God was fucking with me. I also began to worry about whether Carl would tell anyone about my secret. I quickly dismissed my paranoia, and remembered how we had promised each other that whatever we talked about in one of our Candid Conversations was to be kept between only us. I felt strongly that he would be loyal to our promise. I felt so alone.
To be continued:
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