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I was glad to see last week end. The next week was a little better, but to be honest, I kept thinking about Dr. Walker putting me on meds. I wasn't going to let him.
The filing deadline for junior class president was Monday and I waited until the very end of the day to talk to Mr. Lynch, the student activities director. He was also the GSA advisor and wanted to know how I was doing.
I stood in front of his desk. "I'm getting along ok. Wasn't sure if I should run for junior class president after all the stuff that's gone on. I'm not sure anyone will vote for me. I'm not even sure if I want to run."
"I noticed that you haven't been quite yourself lately." He pointed toward the hallway. "You walk down the hall like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders."
"Sometimes I feel that way."
He leaned in on his desk, supporting himself on his forearms. "Want to tell me about it?"
"Thanks, Mr. Lynch. But I'm fine."
"For someone who's fine, you sure don't look fine."
I sat down in one of the student desks in front of him. "I hate losing."
"Hey, we all have to lose sometime. Life is kind like a roll of the dice. You have to take the good with the bad."
I started to cry. "Sometimes we make the bad in our lives. There's no luck involved."
He started to get out of his chair I think to come over and comfort me, but then thought better of it. "Do you want to share it with me?"
"This is between you and me, but I'm seeing a shrink."
A look of surprise crossed his face. I knew he wanted to say, why in the hell would Matt Spence need a shrink. He's the guy that has everything together, but he didn't. "Is it about being gay or about all the information that came out at Dillon Burke's trial?"
"Not really. But I thought you should know. Well, maybe it is a little about being gay but more about what came out at Dillon Burke's trial and a few other things, but it's not what you think." I paused. "What do you think about me running for class president? Do you think it's a good idea after everything that's happened?" I was praying he'd say don't run.
"Matt, you are well respected. Most of the kids at school don't care if you're gay or straight. None of that is going to make a difference."
I hung my head. "I guess you're right. So you think I should run?"
Mr. Lynch shuffled some papers on his desk. "It's not for me to say. You have to do what you think is right."
"I told my parents I'd run."
"You don't have much choice then, do you?"
"I guess not." I felt like a bear caught in a trap.
He smiled. "Look, Matt. Run. It will be a good experience for you. And if you lose, so what? You're a junior, you can always run next year."
I got up out of the desk. "I appreciate you taking the time to talk to me."
He didn't say anything as if he expected me to go on. I couldn't bear the silence. "There was a time when I had my life all planned out. I was going to be sophomore class president, junior class president, and then run for student body president. Now look at me. I don't know what I want anymore."
He hesitated. "Is that why you're going to therapy?"
Hearing him ask that question made me feel weak and lost. "It's a bunch of things."
"It's none of my business. That's what the counselor is for. Sorry I asked."
I forced a smile. "Thanks, Mr. Lynch. I appreciate it. I guess I'll give it my best shot."
I was wheeling down the hall in my wheelchair when this kid, Jason Settles stood in front of my chair and forced me to stop. "Can we talk?"
He still had that scared look on his face as he had the first time he talked to me. He hadn't joined the GSA, but I pretty much figured he was gay and in the closet.
"I've got class."
He bent down and squirmed. "I know. Not now. Later."
"What's a good time for you?"
"Lunch. Catch me in the lunchroom and we'll go out and talk."
He squirmed some more. "People will see us."
He leaned in closer. "I think I'm gay, but I don't want anyone to know it. It's between you and me."
I wanted to laugh. "Okay, it's between you and me. But you could have joined the GSA club and acted like a straight guy and hung around with all of us. Why didn't you do that?"
He continued to whisper. "Because everyone would know."
I started to move toward my next class. He ran after me and got in front of my chair again. A bunch of kids did a double-take.
I shook my head. "Don't you think you're being a bit obvious?"
"Oh, I hadn't thought of that."
"I can meet you at lunch. Take it or leave it."
"Okay, but why don't you meet me out by the gym? You're a semi-retired injured reserve jock and you could just say you're talking to me about football or basketball."
He was a thin kid about 5'10" and could maybe have passed for a basketball player, but not a football player. Despite that, he didn't look like a jock at all. He dressed well and from what I could tell he was a good student. But hell, Matt and I didn't think tall skinny Alan would make it, so you just never know. "Are you planning on playing football or basketball?"
"Well, no. But it'll be our cover."
I smiled. "Okay. Get out of my way. I have problems of my own to deal with."
He moved out of the way, I headed on to class, and he just stood there because I guess he didn't want it to look like we were friends. I couldn't help but think what a dumbass. What did he think everyone was going to think when they saw him talking to me and getting in front of my chair? He'd come to get my help. It was like he had a hard-on he didn't want anyone to see. I should have been flattered, and probably wouldn't have been such an ass if I didn't have problems of my own.
Randy attended school on a hit and miss basis. He had other thing he thought were more important. After what happened to Andy, Derrick watched over him like a dad, but also asked for more of a cut. That helped. After one of their group sessions with some college dudes, Derrick asked Randy to wait in the room after they left. He surprised him with this: "How would you like to be in a movie?"
"Damn straight! Are you serious? That would be the coolest. How much money are we talking about?"
Derrick smiled. "I think they pay a lot for kiddie porn."
"Fuck you. I'm no kid."
He patted Randy on the butt. "It's going to cost you a little of that if you want to be a movie star."
Randy wiggled his ass and pointed at it. "That ass has made both of us a lot of money."
"You're right. But this is going to be even better. Last week, one of our rich clients, who lives in some fancy gated community, asked me to come to his place to talk. He lives in this huge house with a swimming pool, pool room, and who knows how many bedrooms. He has a movie studio in the basement. He suggested we ply our trade at his place. He has a few other guys my age, but no one your age. I'm still pissed that we lost Matt and Andy."
"Go on. I want to hear everything."
"This is the deal. I think he would kind of like to make his place into a gay whorehouse. But, I'm not into selling myself, and while you don't seem to mind, making movies would be a better deal. I told him I'd talk to you."
"I'm in, but I don't want to be one of his whores in some whorehouse."
A big grin crossed Derricks face. "This is what I have in mind. I'll tell him that you and I are a package deal, and if he wants you, then he has to take me, and we'll only make movies. That way I won't have to babysit you anymore and we can rack in some easy dough. What do you think?"
Randy patted Derrick on the back. "You are a smart man. I don't know how in the hell I managed to hook up with someone as cool as you."
"Matt and Andy, that's how."
"Well, they're going to miss out on some good shit and easy money. I can't believe it. I'm going to be a movie star."
"We are going to be movie stars. And don't forget we are partners in this. That way you and I can both get out of the prostitution business and get into, well, you know, I was going to say a legitimate business, but I guess kiddie porn isn't legit."
Randy gave Derrick a shove. "Knock that shit off. I'm not a kid."
"Take it easy. I'm just joking. Anyway, we're invited over to his place Saturday for lunch. His first name is Noland. I'm not sure if you remember him, but he's in his mid-50s and has this big ass diamond ring on his right hand. No last name for now. We need to decide on how much we want per movie. I'll pick you up on Saturday around 11:00 and we'll talk about it."
"Damn, I'm going to be a movie star." He patted Derrick on the back again. "Yeah, a movie star costarring my dad, Derrick Gonzalez."
Derrick laughed. "Yeah, old on young porn."
I talked to Andy, and he shared some of the same feelings with Dr. Walker as I did. The big difference was that he wanted to put me on drugs and he just told Andy to give school his best effort for the next week. I'm not sure why he didn't tell me the same thing. Maybe it was because he gave it more thought after talking to me. Who knows?
Even though Dr. Walker didn't give me the same advice he gave Andy, I decided to try to do my best the whole week. It was better than having to go on drugs. You'd think that with all the talk about teens not taking drugs, they wouldn't be so quick to prescribe so many to them. Having Andy on the football team would have really helped. It surprised me to see how a little change of attitude made a big difference. Frank Kutcher noticed immediately.
"So gay boy, you seem different today. What's up?"
"Fuck off, Kutcher."
"You sure talk a lot about fucking. Speaking of fucking. Fuck any boys lately?"
I wanted to lay into him. "You're lucky, Kutcher that I don't plan to sit on the bench again this week. Otherwise, I'd kick the shit out of you again. In fact, your face still looks like someone did a job on it." I paused. "Oh, I forgot, your face always looks like that."
"Fuck you, Spence." He walked off as Kealan Williams came up to me and patted me on the back.
"Ignore that ass. You completed quite a few passes to me last year when you were only a sophomore, and I know you're going to make me look good now that I'm a senior."
"Kealan, there's nothing that I'd like to do more than make us both look good. But I gotta make it through this week. I can't take anymore of Kutcher's smartass remarks and cockiness."
I picked up a football from the ground and pointed downfield. "Run a post pattern."
Kealan ran a smooth easy pattern up field about ten yards before making a quick forty-five degree cut toward the goal post. I was right on. Kutcher snuck a quick peek.
Coach let me quarterback the scout team, the team that runs our opponent's plays against our defense. Kutcher only played offense so he was on the sidelines with a concerned look on his face. I gotta tell you, I was on, and we made our defense look bad.
Coach came up to me afterward. "Matt, I like what I saw today. You looked a bit sick last week, and then of course there was the fight. I'm not sure what got into you."
"Just had a bad week, Coach. I'm trying to have a better attitude this week."
He winked at me. "I can tell. Keep it up. I'm expecting great things out of you. And, by the way, no more fighting. Got it?"
"Got it, Coach."
Kutcher was starting Friday, but his ass was on the ropes by Wednesday. Coach called me into his office after Wednesday's practice. "I'm starting Frank because he's been trying pretty hard. You helped him out quite a bit by fighting last week, but your attitude is much better this week. I guess there's hope for you yet."
"I'll make sure you get some playing time. We need two quarterbacks who know what they're doing because you never know when someone might get hurt."
I just nodded.
He leaned his butt against his desk. "Is there anything you'd like to talk about?"
I shook my head.
"You sure? Something's been eating at you."
"I'm sure. Anyway, thanks, Coach. I gotta get home."
Coach Gilbert patted me on the back as he opened the door and I walked out. The front of the office was all glass, and I noticed Frank staring at us. He was worried. He was starting, but my hope was that he'd let his guard down.
I met Jason Settles out by the gym at lunchtime. Few guys were around because it was a cold fall day and not many kids came out to the gym during lunch.
Jason was pacing back and forth. "What took you so long?"
"I'm in a wheelchair."
"Oh yeah. Sorry."
I moved the back of my wheelchair next to the wall of the gym. "What do you want to talk about?"
He stopped pacing, but didn't look at me. "What was it like when you came out?"
"I see you get right to the point. I'd like to say that I had a choice. But all that crap came out at Dillon's trial and I didn't have a choice. I told my parents before all the shit with Dillon and they were okay with it. They weren't exactly happy, but I found out they really loved me. That meant a lot. Matt already knew I was gay long before anything happened between us. He ended up not having any choice either. But you know, other than those narrow-minded religious fanatics, it's gone pretty well. Why do you ask?" I knew, but I wanted to hear what he had to say.
"Well, uh. Well, uh. I was just wonderin'."
"Just wonderin'. There has to be more to it than that."
He started pacing again and wringing his hands. "Well, I think I might be gay, but I'm afraid."
"Quit pacing. You're driving me crazy."
"It's normal to be afraid. That's why you should join the GSA. It is called the Gay-Straight Alliance, so if you belong, you are just showing that you accept gay people for who they are. It doesn't mean you're gay. But I'm only suggesting you start there. Make friends with some gay and straight kids in the club and move on from there. You're only a sophomore and you're going to be in school for another three years, including the rest of this year, so it's a good start."
"My parents wouldn't allow it."
"Have you talked to them about this?"
He looked like he was going to cry. "No. They'd disown me."
"Are you sure?"
"Well, not exactly, but they're always making remarks about you guys and how disgusting it all is. They're not religious or anything. They just don't like gay people."
I wasn't sure what to say next. "Well, uh. Uh. Would they kick you out of the house if you told them?"
"I don't know. Andy, what would you do?"
"I wish I could answer that, but I'm not the one to talk to. You should talk to Mr. Lynch. He's the GSA advisor and the student activities director, so you can just ask to see him and no one will know what you came to see him about. I think he can give you better advice than I can. One thing for sure is, you don't want to be out on the street turning tricks to survive."
He smiled at that. If he only knew.
He started pacing again. "Can Mr. Lynch keep a secret?"
"Do you think I'd be suggesting it if I didn't? We all need a tolerant adult who will listen." I had Dr. Walker in mind.
"I'm not sure I could look him in the eye. It's embarrassing."
"For crap sake. He's the GSA advisor. He's cool, and might even be gay for all we know. He's the one to talk to."
He stopped pacing and stood in front of my chair. "Well, if he's gay and didn't come out, then I should just do the same."
"I didn't say he was gay. I said he might be. All that counts is that he'll listen to you and give you far better advice than I can."
A disappointed look came over his face. "I was hoping you'd help me."
"I wish I could. But I'm not a counselor. I could give you advice, but what if it's all wrong? I'd feel bad and you'd feel even worse. You need to talk to an adult. I should have done it more often myself. Matt too."
He squinted his eyes. "I don't understand."
"No need to. Just see Mr. Lynch. I'm going to check to make sure you do."
He started pacing back and forth in front of my chair while squeezing his hands together and staring at the ground. "You don't have to do that. I don't want you to."
"Well, you don't have any choice. You came to me for advice. I've given it, and I expect you to follow it."
"What if I don't?"
"Trust me. If you don't talk to him, then you're going to get a send slip one day in class because I'm going to talk to him."
He stopped and glared at me. "You're an asshole. You're no help at all."
"Calm down. Look, no one knows about this but you and me. Mr. Lynch isn't going to say anything and after you've talked to him, we'll talk again. Okay?"
There was a long silence. "Well, you don't give me much choice."
I moved my chair toward him. "That's the idea. I think they call this stuff tough love."
"Damn tough if you ask me."
I felt helpless. "Yes, but you'll be happy you talked to Mr. Lynch when it's all over. Trust me. I've had some experience at this."
"Never mind when. Just know that the advice I'm giving you comes from experience, and while they say experience is the best teacher, I'm not sure I agree. But I have gained some wisdom thanks to a few adults in my life. Matt too. Like I said, we'll talk again after you talk to Mr. Lynch. Do we have a deal?"
He hung his head, and slowly said just like a little boy, "I guess so."
"Good. Do it before the week is out. Okay?"
"I guess so."
I moved my wheelchair to go. He stood in front of me. "Are you sure everything will be okay?"
"You didn't pay me enough to make any guarantees. But trust me, you're going to feel a hell of a lot better after talking to Mr. Lynch. That's all I have to say. I gotta go."
I moved my chair and he moved out of the way.
"I hope you're right."
I didn't say anything to him as I wheeled off to class. But these words traveled through my mind: I sure hope I am too.
I haven't lived a perfect life. I have regrets. But that's from a lifetime of taking chances, making decisions, and trying not to be frozen. The only thing that I can do with my regrets is understand them. - Kevin Costner
The best thing to do is stare it in the face and move on. We have to face our fears and plow through. I think taking chances takes a lot more courage than staying stagnant and doing what's safe and comfortable. - Terri Clark
When you're doing what you love to do, you become resilient. You create a habit of taking chances on yourself. If you do what's expected of you, and things go poorly, you will look to external sources for what to do next, because that will be your habit. You will be standing there frozen. If you are just filling a role, you will be blindsided. - Dick Costolo
If you like this story, please write a review, click like, and follow me. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I answer all emails.
I'd like to thank Lisa for taking the time to edit Knots 1, 2, & 3. As the author, I take final responsibility for all parts of the story, including any errors.
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author's imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locales, is purely coincidental and no slanderous intent is implied.