Colt and Thomas came over to talk to Andy and me after I finished talking with Coach Gilbert.
"I'm in deep shit," Colt said. "My parents figured out what we did."
"You mean you told them?" Andy asked.
"Hell no. Do you think I'm stupid? I told them we'd watched Mission Impossible 3 on Netflix and then got into the hot tub. Only problem, Andy, was they didn't believe that stupid story of yours about wanting to keep our clothes warm."
I poked Andy. "Yeah, even I agree that was a stupid answer."
"Okay, it was stupid, but you guys didn't say anything. Someone had to answer. Anyway, what happened next?"
"They gave me the third degree; they checked to see if we'd rented the movie, and when they saw I hadn't, they knew something was fishy. So they gave me a choice, either tell them the truth or they were going to call all your parents. So I threw myself under the bus, and now I'm grounded for two weeks."
"Are they going to call our parents?" I asked.
"No. Like I said, I took a bullet for you guys."
"I thought it was a bus," Andy said.
"Who gives a shit? Just be happy they aren't calling your parents."
I patted Colt on the back. "You're a stand-up guy, Colt. Thanks."
"You're welcome. But they don't want any more foursomes. If we do and they find out, then I don't know what they'll do, but I imagine we won't get off this easy next time. But then, I didn't really get off easy at all. But it could have been worse."
"I'm more worried about the kids at school finding out than my parents," Andy said. "My parents wouldn't like it; they would ground me, and make me keep my door open when Matt's over, but at least they wouldn't be in our faces and act like we're perverts like some of the kids at school would. Even though a lot of them probably wish they were doing the same thing." "Can we can trust your parents?" I asked Colt.
"Yeah. My dad's never lied to me. They were hurt over the whole thing. But they know we're gay. I really don't see what the fuss is all about. They should just let us be. Although, maybe they got their hopes up after I went out with Zoe."
Thomas finally spoke. "I had my doubts about this from the beginning, and this is one of the reasons why. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, but my parents would probably be twice as pissed as yours, and they'd probably ground me until I graduated. Maybe we should just all lay low for a while."
"Matt and I agree," Andy said. "Let's lay low. No one ever died from not having sex. Although I think my dick might."
Everyone had looks of relief on their faces except Colt, who, like he said, had taken a bullet for us. "Maybe we should buy your lunch for a week for throwing yourself under the bus," I said.
"Lunch for a week?" he asked incredulously.
Andy said, "Okay, two weeks?"
"That's better, but I also suggest you guys come to my house and apologize to my parents."
"You gotta be kidding!" Andy said in a raised voice.
"You don't have to, but they'd be impressed."
Thomas and I shook our heads.
"I agree with Andy," I said. "It's better to let sleeping dogs lie. I don't think I could look your parents in the eye, never mind apologizing."
"I think we should send your mother flowers and give your dad a coffee mug with his name on it," Thomas offered.
"Great idea," I said. "Why don't you do that, and we'll pay you for it. It might be kinda lame, but it's better than having to face them."
"Do I have to?" He looked at the three of us. "This foursome was your idea."
"We're like a team," Andy said. "We were all a part of it. The flowers and mug were your idea, so you're the lucky guy that has to take care of it. Just let us know how much they cost. The three of us will split the cost, and you won't have to pay anything. How's that?" Andy looked at Colt and me. "Do you guys agree?"
We both nodded.
Thomas smiled. "That seems fair."
I made a point of finding Jason Settles because Matt and I agreed to start helping others. Jason was the boy who had come up to me when he was a freshman to talk to me about being gay. He was now a sophomore, a bit taller and thinner, and still walked around like everyone might be thinking he was gay. He was standing at his locker. "Hey, Jason. How are things going?"
"Okay, I guess."
"What do you mean, you guess? Either they're going okay or they're not."
"I'm still alive, but there are nights where I think I might want to..."
"I don't know. I'm so confused and so in the closet. Why can't I be like you?"
"You can be."
"Easy for you to say. Anyway, I don't want to talk about it right now."
"Let's talk later then."
He closed his locker. "If people see me with you, they might think I'm gay."
"You are gay," I said in a low voice.
He gave me a dirty look. "Keep your voice down."
"If you don't want to talk here, how `bout meeting me out at the baseball field at lunch. It's cold out, so no one will be there. We can sit in the dugout."
"Why all this interest in me all of a sudden? You acted like I didn't exist and you didn't know me."
"Been busy. I have a life of my own, and you're aren't exactly a part of it. But Matt and I were talking about the GSA and a few other things, and I thought of you. I apologize for not talking to you more."
He closed his locker. "I gotta go to class."
"Meet me at the bleachers at lunch. Okay?"
"Maybe. Let me think about it."
He tore out of there like I had the plague.
I sat in the dugout freezing my ass off, but Jason never showed. He pissed me off, so I went back into the school to look for him and found him in the bathroom crying. "If you were going to cry, why didn't you come out to the baseball field and do it. We could talk about it."
"Well, this is the last place to come if you're scared." No sooner had I said that when Mel Jacobs, Tim Garcia, and a couple of other assholes slammed the bathroom door open. They were talking loud but stopped when they saw Jason and me. "What's going on here?" Mel asked in a suspicious voice.
"We're talking, Mel. Is that okay with you?"
Tim lifted Jason's chin and looked at me. "Looks like you made the boy cry. What's wrong? Wouldn't he put out for you?" He looked at the other guys for approval. "We know you're a queer, and this skinny fucker looks queer too. I think you two came in here to suck each other off. Am I right?"
"Fuck you, Tim. I saw Jason earlier. He looked upset, so I came in to see what was wrong and see if I could help. So if you don't mind, fuck off and leave."
"What are you, his boyfriend? Why do you care if he's upset? I think it goes deeper than that. Let's see if we can help." Mel grabbed Jason, ripped off his shirt, and threw it in the toilet. Fortunately, it didn't have anything but water in it. Fear spread across Jason's face. He wrapped his arms around his thin body
"This is what you were getting ready to do, wasn't it, Andy?"
I wanted to kick his ass, but there were four of them. "Mel, we were just talking. Leave us alone and get out of here before this gets more serious."
"More serious? It seems like you want us to leave so you two can get more serious."
Jason's cry had become a wail. He squeezed his arms tighter across his chest and was shivering I think more from fear than the cold. I grabbed his shirt out of the toilet and rung it out, then handed it to him. "Put it on." I turned to the four idiots. "Get out of here, now."
Tim pulled the shirt out of Jason's hand. "We want to see a little action. Maybe we should strip you both."
I wasn't sure what to do. I could be brave and stupid and try fighting our way out of there, but that would be an obvious loss. The other choice was to just walk out. I grabbed Jason by the arm and pulled him toward the door. He was half naked, so he hesitated, giving Mel and the others a chance to block the door.
"You're not getting away that easy, Gibson. You've always been a smartass as well as a queer. It appears you're like that pervert Dillon Burke; you like the younger ones."
I couldn't take it anymore. I punched Mel in the chest as hard as I could to get him to move back. I took advantage of their surprise by latching onto Jason, running to the door, and yelling for help. They grabbed Jason and me from behind. I started yelling, "Help! Help! We need help!" I felt like a coward, but I didn't know what else to do. All I could hope for was that Dax or one of the other hall monitors would hear me.
Tim put his hand over my mouth to shut me up. The others grabbed my arms. Mel was getting ready to hit me when all of us noticed Jason lying on the floor, passed out. There was blood on the floor where his head had hit the ground. The guys let go of me and ran out of the bathroom as fast as they could.
I rushed to Jason who was laying on his side. I rolled him on his back and rubbed his thin, bare chest. "Jason, wake up. Are you all right?" He didn't move.
The bathroom door opened, and it was Dax, whose eyes were filled with suspicion when he saw the half-naked Jason, and me rubbing his chest. "What's going on in here?"
"We were attacked." I explained the situation, and he got on his walkie-talkie to call for help. He gave the other hall monitors the names of our attackers.
"Why's his shirt off?"
"I told you. They ripped it off and made all kinds of accusations about us doing sexual things in here."
That kinda pissed me off. "No! Jason was supposed to meet me for lunch so we could talk. When he didn't show up, I looked for him and found him in here crying."
"I know you're a stand-up guy, Andy, so I'm going to take your word for it for now. But we'll have to do an investigation. Is Jason all right?"
"I don't know. He passed out and hit his head on the floor."
Dax wet his hands in the sink and then patted Jason on the face with the cold water.
Jason opened his eyes with a confused look. "What happened?"
I held his head up. "You passed out."
He looked around and then realized he didn't have his shirt on and began to panic. He glanced at Dax and then me. He started flailing around looking all over the bathroom for his shirt. "Where's my shirt?" He sat up and saw it on the floor, grabbed it and slipped the cold, wet shirt over his thin frame. He began to shiver.
Dax grabbed him under the arms and pulled him up. "Are you all right?"
"I think so, but I feel a little weak."
We had a `saved by the bell' moment, because the bell that signaled the end of lunch rang, and everyone headed back to class. Jason would have probably passed out again if Dax had tried walking him out of the bathroom with me.
"Dax, we need to get him another shirt. I'll go to my gym locker and get my shirt from PE. He can wear that."
"Good idea. I'll stay here with him."
Dax must have locked the door with one of those special keys to keep anyone else from coming in, because when I returned, the door was locked. I knocked. "Dax, it's me, Andy."
Jason was still shivering when I entered the bathroom.
"Take your shirt off." I handed him mine. "This should warm you up a little."
Jason nodded sheepishly as he took his wet shirt off and slipped my t-shirt over his head. I'm not big, but my t-shirt hung on him like a tent.
Jason shook his head and frowned. "I knew something like this was going to happen."
What could I say? He didn't want to be seen with me in the hall or even in the dugout, so being seen with me in the bathroom had to be even worse.
"It's going to be all right," Dax assured him.
"No it isn't. All those guys are going to think I'm gay now, and I'm not."
"Who gives a rat's ass what they think?" I asked.
"I do. You're gay, and you don't care if everybody knows it. But I don't want anyone to think I'm gay. You heard what they said; they said I looked gay. This is going to be all around the school. Even though nothing was going on, those guys are going to say something was."
"Jason," Dax said. "We'll take care of that. Those boys are going to be suspended if everything you guys said is true."
"Big fucking deal," he responded.
Hearing Jason say that shocked the shit out of me.
He went on. "Once the rumor gets started there isn't a damn thing you can do, and then I'm fucked. Everyone'll think Andy and I were in here doing things, and we weren't."
Dax tried to reassure him, but even I knew what Jason said was true. He'd gotten screwed when all I'd been trying to do was help. It had been a part of Matt's and my new attitude, reaching out to help others. Unfortunately, like they say, "No good deed goes unpunished." That's kind of cynical I know, but it was just the way things went. I couldn't be faulted for trying to talk to Jason. If he'd have just come out to the dugout, everything would have been fine, but his fear got in the way, and then the shit hit the fan.
Mel, Tim, and the two others were in the office when we got there. They gave Jason and me a hard stare as if we'd been the assholes. Mel whispered in a low voice. "Queers!"
Dax said, "You're already in enough trouble. I suggest you keep your mouth shut."
Normally, we'd have talked to the vice-principal, but Mr. Evans had been made aware of the situation and had Jason, Dax, and me come into his office. Evans pointed to the chairs in front of his desk. "Sit down and get comfortable, so we can talk."
We told him what happened except for the Jason-may-be-gay part. Evans asked me why I wanted to talk to Jason, and I said it was personal. "Everything you say in here is confidential. It would be helpful if you told me."
"I can't, Mr. Evans. Jason trusted me. He'll have to tell you."
He turned to Jason. "Are you willing to tell me what this is about?"
Jason rubbed the bump on the side of his head, and when he removed his hand, there was blood on the tips of his fingers.
Evans stepped from behind his desk. "You're bleeding. Let me look at that." He gave Dax a quick glance. "Have you been to the nurse?"
Jason shook his head. "No, I'm fine. It's just a small bump."
Mr. Evans looked at it. "Have that checked when we're through here." He went back to his desk. "Jason, do you want to tell me what happened?"
Jason looked down at the floor. "No."
"It would help."
I stepped in and hoped I wasn't going to make as big an ass of myself as I'd done with Colt's parents. "Mr. Evans, I saw Jason crying at his locker earlier in the day." That was a lie of course, but sometimes you have to lie to smooth a situation like this out. "I asked him if he wanted to talk. He didn't want to talk to me in the hall because I'm gay, and he was afraid other people would think he was gay too, so I suggested we go and talk in the dugout of the baseball field during lunch. When he didn't show, I found him in the bathroom by the art room. We never had a chance to talk. You know the rest of the story."
That seemed to satisfy him. He wrote out a hall pass and handed it to Jason. "Go to the nurse, and have your head checked."
"I'm fine. I'd rather go home if that would be okay."
Evans nodded and grabbed the phone. "What's your phone number?"
"What are you going to tell my parents? They won't understand and will think the worst."
"I'm going to have to call them sometime."
I jumped in. "I don't think that's a good idea."
Shit, no one can ever make anything easy. "He was with me in the bathroom with his shirt off, and his parents probably won't understand."
"Understand what?" he asked.
"Jason being half naked with a gay student."
"Oh, I see," Evans replied with a bit of an ah hah response.
"How about I call them to tell them you passed out, hit your head, and will be coming home?"
Jason responded quickly. "Yes, Mr. Evans. That would be fine."
Mr. Evans talked to Jason's mom, who was concerned that he'd passed out, but was never the wiser because I was long gone by time she got to the school to pick Jason up.
Mr. Evans had Mel, Tim, and the other two come into his office to get their side of the story. They told Mr. Evans they'd come into the bathroom and found Jason with his shirt off and Andy in the process of taking his off.
"Were they in a stall?" Evans asked.
"No, they were doing it right there in the middle of the bathroom."
"Are you sure? I'd think that if they were going to be doing anything, they'd go into a stall and lock the door. Doesn't that make more sense?"
"Mr. Evans," Mel said, "Andy doesn't always think. All we can tell you is what we saw."
"So you're saying you didn't rip Jason Settles' shirt off and throw it in the toilet?"
"Right!" Tim responded.
"So why was it wet? Are you trying to tell me that Andy or Jason threw it in the toilet?"
"Well, uh...uh...we're not sure how it got wet. We're not gay. Who knows what they had in mind? Maybe a wet shirt was some kind of a turn on."
"Let's assume that it was. Why would they get the shirt all wet in the middle of the school day? Jason had to go back to class. Wouldn't it be strange if he went to class with a wet shirt?"
"Mr. Evans, you seem to think that these gay guys think clearly. Maybe they were so turned on they didn't think of that."
Evans grinned. "And you're expecting me to believe the crap you're telling me. Just so you know, I don't. I think the story they told is true because your story doesn't make any sense and theirs does. The question is, what am I going to do about it?"
"Nothing," Mel said. "Everything's cool."
"Maybe as far as you're concerned, but it's not cool with me. Jason was so afraid, he passed out and got a nasty bruise on his head. What if he has a concussion? He had nothing to wear to class and had to go home because he was too afraid to deal with the rumors you four probably started."
"We had nothing to do with his passing out. We'd left by then," Tim said.
"I see, but whether you left or not, you scared the poor boy and implied he was gay, when there isn't any indication that he is, and it's my best hope you didn't do as Jason feared and been spreading rumors about how you saw him and Andy having sex in the bathroom."
The guys glanced at each other.
Mr. Evans shook his head. "So you have been talking?"
"We might have told a few people."
Evans would have liked to kick the shit out of all four of them right then and there, but the die had been cast, and all he could do was try to clean the mess up. "This is what's going to happen: First, you go out and tell anyone you talked to that you guys were just fooling around and lied about the whole thing. I'm not sure it will do any good at this point, but you may have already fulfilled the greatest fear Jason has, and that's that students or his parents would think he is gay, when he's not. Talking to Andy Gibson doesn't make him gay. Plus, it's really none of your business. You're going to be suspended for five days, and when you return, you will join the GSA Club and attend at least three meetings. There's a meeting scheduled just after you return from your suspension. Maybe that'll give you a little more perspective. In case you don't know, GSA stands for Gay Straight Alliance. I'm assuming you are not gay, so you will be straight members, and let's see how your friends react. We'll see how you like it if they find you guilty by association just like you did with Andy and Jason."
"You can't do that," Mel said. "My parents won't allow it. They'll be down here to talk to you about this. It's not going to happen."
"That's fine, Mel. But I don't think your parents would want to see you arrested for assault and see you boys spend some time in jail and in court. Plus, it might make the papers. Andy's already a celebrity."
"Yeah, a fag celebrity," Tim put in.
"I don't approve the use of that word, but no matter how you put it, I think this whole thing would get a lot of coverage. If you want that, then fine. For now, I'm going to write up the suspension saying that you belittled and bullied two boys in the restroom. I'm going to attach a note to each of your suspensions documenting everything that happened. What happens after that is up to you and your parents. Do you understand?"
"That's blackmail," one of the other thugs said.
Mr. Evans smiled. "Yeah, legal blackmail."
It's very easy to be judgmental until you know someone's truth. - Kate Winslet
Sometimes, people can be extraordinarily judgmental and closed-minded to anyone different or special, which is why it's so hard for young people in this day and age to be comfortable enough in their own skin to not listen to the people picking on them. - Ariana Grande
There are different ways that kids who are gay take on
the rejection and alienation they feel.
The way I dealt with it was to say, 'You know what? You're imposing judgments on me and
condemnations, but I don't accept them.
I'm going to instead turn the light on you and see what your flaws are
and impose the same judgmental standards on you.' - Glenn Greenwald
If you like this story, 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, 4, and 5. 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.