Life In A Northern Town
Morning came in its usual wondrous colors, making the drop of dew clinging to the needles of the tree outside my window sparkle like gems in the new day. I stood behind the thin curtains that separated me from the day, those gauzy curtains allowing me to see out but making the reverse a bit challenging, as had become my custom. I waited for my love to open his window, my New York love. I watched as the drapes were withdrawn from the window across the street, like large eyelids revealing the soul of some huge slumbering beast, and he was revealed to me. He turned from the window and laid back on his bed for a moment, then sat to put socks on. I find that people act much different when they believe themselves to be alone, you see more of the true person. He was all fluid motion, all the grace and beauty I had come to identify with him. If he only knew how good he really is. He glanced out the window, peace on his face. Then the door opened...
The alarm was going to die.
It was only a matter of time before I just broke the damn thing. I groaned a little as I forced myself across the room and silenced the evil machine. I pulled boxers from the drawer and padded to the bathroom for a shower.
Afterward I felt close to human again, although my feeling towards that vile mechanization hadn't changed! I pulled on a white undershirt and a short sleeved white button up, and cream colored khaki's. I pulled my sneakers from their resting place under the bed and grabbed socks. I then opened my drapes to reveal a morning that shouldn't have been wasted on a school day. Dew clung to the cars and shrubbery all about. The tree in front of my house had droplets everywhere, and the pine across the street looked like it had been dusted with diamonds. I laid back on my bed for a moment looking at the blue azure in the sky, then sat up and pulled on my socks, glancing out the window from time to time and feeling at peace with the day. Then he entered without so much as a knock.
"Adam are you...Oh, you're up. Do you want a lift to school?" Bernie asked.
"I don't know where you were brought up, Bernie, but we usually knock here before walking in on someone's private space."
His face stiffened and he slammed the door shut. I could hear his retreating steps down the stairs and the ensuing bitching he made to my mother. Great, a new lecture on being respectful to him after he was disrespectful to me. I steeled myself and then descended the stairs for breakfast.
I entered the kitchen and found just my mother sitting at the table looking worn. I kissed her cheek and gathered a bowl of cereal together. She sat quietly smoking, which actually seemed to make things worse. I sat quietly, eating cereal with my appetite waning. She smoked in silence, crushed out the butt and inserted a new cigarette in her mouth and lit it, beginning the cycle again. I couldn't take it anymore.
"Mom, I'm sorry I got pissed at Bernie. But he should know better!" I said quickly.
She sat unhearing and nonplussed by my statement. Then suddenly she grabbed the candle from the table, ensconced in its small glass container, and threw it across the room, missing my head and shattering against the stove.
"Why can't you just be a man?" She intoned, "Why can't you just stand up and be a real man? You little motherfucker, are you trying to ruin everything for me? Just like your father!" Her voice reached a shattering crescendo, and then silence.
I sat stock still, shocked into stillness. Then I got up quickly and grabbed my backpack on my way out the door.
I stepped outside my front door and sat heavily on the steps. This was how things were going lately. My mother had turned into a basket case, Bernie was just weird. Randy kept looking at me funny. In fact, he looked at me like he knows something I don't. About my mother or something equally deep.
Anyway, he and Nick have been spending a lot of time together, and that has cut into my time with Randy, 'cause I don't trust myself around Nick anymore. In the few weeks that I have known him, I have become a focal point of desire and frustration. I have admitted to myself that I'm gay, at least in a roundabout way. I mean, I can appreciate a pretty girl, even lust a bit. But in the end, I'd much rather date her boyfriend, nine times out of ten. Well I do have SOME standards.
But all I think about is his face, his laugh, his walk. Nothing else fits, my mind is ruled by thoughts of Nick. And that's the problem. See, Randy looks awesome, but he's like this untouchable. I don't think I could even if he wanted to, cause he's like my brother, and, well, Eww. Nick, though, that's different. All I do is dream about his lips and what it might feel like to be kissed, how it must feel to be held in those arms, and how unfair it is that I can't even tell him. I guess in the past month, I have realized that being his friend isn't enough and I have pushed him away. In fact, I have not answered the phone when the caller ID says it's his number, and the sick part? I don't even know where he lives. Do you have any idea how much worse this would be if I could look at where he slept? Touch those sheets, inhale from his most private and inner sanctum? These thoughts have kept me up nights, literally and figuratively. I sometimes get up and write on the computer about my feelings just to get them out in the open somewhere.
I got up and started down the street to walk the three blocks to the bus stop. As I headed for the street corner, I was joined by Nick's car rolling up beside me.
"Hey, you want a lift?" came the soft southern breeze from the open window. I turned to see him, and was once again struck by the gentle features and quiet power that seemed to envelop him, as I was each time I saw him.
"Sure, thanks." I said, automatically opening the passenger door and wondering why I was doing this to myself. I sat quickly, all the while my mind turning about my thoughts for this fellow next to me. I had never thought about someone in those terms, really. I mean Randy was attractive as hell, but he was attractive to everyone, I think. Just one of those lucky people, blessed with such good looks that the only people that weren't attracted were the insanely jealous. But this guy, well, I was continually noticing small things, like his smile. And eyes like deep wells that I think I could drown in happily. I was daydreaming a bit that Nick had stopped for me, when he turned right and headed up to Randy's place. I suddenly realized that he must have been coming up for Randy and just happened to see me and thought to stop. Well, doesn't that just suck the wind from your sails!
We pulled up and Randy came trotting down the walk, exuding coolness. I opened the door to allow him in, and I was about to hop in the back seat when he placed a hand on my shoulder to hold me in place, while he climbed in the back himself. I sat down somewhat reluctantly in the front seat, a now familiar tension in my body. Randy and Nick supplied the bullshitting, while I didn't trust my tongue to keep these strange emotions under control. I looked out the window at the passing scenery, houses built seemingly so close to the next that it appeared like a giant had butted one house against the other. I thought about where Nick might live, what his room would look like, what he'd look like in gym shorts...What? Gym Shorts?
I turned and looked right at Nick, who was looking at me, with a look of...expectation. Uh oh, while my mind was wandering, a question had been asked and he was waiting for an answer.
"Helloo, earth to Adam, please respond!" Randy needled me from the backseat.
"Ah, I am sorry, my mind was..."
"In someone's pants, no doubt." Randy finished. I blushed mightily.
"What was the question?" I asked.
"No question," Randy chirped happily, "I just stated the fact that you like to hump water buffalo. That's all, just nod your head in agreement." I turned quickly and slapped him square on the forehead.
"You weren't supposed to tell!" I hissed in mock anger as he rolled back in his seat howling.
"I was asking if you guys wanted to come hang at my house on Saturday," Nick stated.
My mind froze.
"Maybe, I kinda promised mom I'd help around the house, so we'll see how much she dumps on me," I said.
"I'll come over and help you, then we can meet at Nick's around noon. Cool?" Randy asked Nick.
What the hell? I had just been roped in without so much as a 'What do you think?'
"Mr. Castle, are you with us this morning?"
I started, shaken from my thoughts by an instructor that wanted my attention. Go figure.
"I'm sorry, what was the question?" I asked quietly.
"The question has to do with the Conference of Vienna and it's ramifications across Europe, do you think you can enlighten us?" Mr. Bater asked. We all called him Master Bater behind his back, and he also had a habit of falling asleep in class. Fortunately, history is a favorite of mine, so the question was easy enough.
"The Conference of Vienna was an effort to step back in time to a more feudal system of Government, in effect a power play by those who were losing power."
Bater raised an eyebrow. "Very good, Mr. Castle."
Class continued and I faded into the background again. So what was going on? I had the feeling I was being set up here, but why? Was I just being paranoid? I mean, no one knew about my little lusting after Randy, and certainly no one knew about Nick. Ah, Nick, that sweet boy. So beautiful and he looks soft to the touch as well. I sighed.
I trudged to my locker at the end of class, with my emotions slowly unraveling, fear eating around the very edges of my soul. I smiled, am I melodramatic or what? The question remained about what exactly I should do, however.
This is how my days are going, and now my plan of just avoiding the whole thing has backfired since Randy decided to open his big mouth. And what was my mother talking about this morning? What had she meant about my father, and why was she being so damned weird? I decided to walk home that day, even though it's a few miles, I just didn't feel like I could stand the bus with it's screaming and idiot posturing today.
I grabbed my book bag and walked out the back door, turning up towards the north. Following the numbered streets. As I reached the third corner, the football team went by doing their running drills. One dropped from the back of the pack and returned to me walking on the sidewalk.
"Dude, why are you walking?" Randy said.
O Jesus, could this day get any worse? My mind bent just then, I think I felt it tearing away from it's underpinnings in reality and rushing through cold air, headlong towards madness. I looked into Randy's eyes and opened my mouth, but no sound issued forth.
"Proctor! Get your candy ass over here!" came the voice of Coach Canfield. It seemed to be the shot of reality to bring me back a bit.
"Just felt like walking, Rand. That's all," I whispered and tried to continue on. Randy placed a restraining hand on my arm.
"Hang on, I'll go with you. Walk back with me so I can get my stuff."
"PROCTOR! Goddamnit, get your ass over here! What the hell do you think this is social hour?"
"Coach Canfield, kiss my ass. I quit," Randy replied, and turned with an arm around my shoulders, and walked me back to school.
"You can't talk to me like that! Get over here! PROCTORRRR!"
We caught the late bus home, and I kept my silence. We walked to my house with Randy trying his best to allow me to speak when I was ready. We walked in together to find my mother dressed but obviously still in the same state.
"So you came back." She paused. "You had better get a few things straight, you little faggot. I will not have filth and perversion in my house, do you hear me? Bernard filled me in on your defending that other fag at school, that political brat, and you WILL NOT act that way in this house!" She took a deep breath before continuing.
"Your father was shit. I am sure you got this from him. Do you know how he died? I'll fucking tell you, Adam, he died handcuffed to a bed in Greenwich Village with a man FUCKING HIM. He was bent over getting BUGGERED while his family was home waiting for him to come back from a business trip. Put that in your fucking family history, buddy boy." She crushed out her cigarette and promptly lit another.
"Are you two fucking now?" She gestured to Randy, "or are you still having a fight with your precious Nick? You know, Bernard sees this shit all day, more than you think. He knows you have the hots for this kid, you fucking piece of TRASH!"
Each word was like a physical blow, and I felt my mind bending again.
"You want to know what else, buddy boy? I found that shit on your computer, all that crap you write about that kid, how you can't trust yourself around him. Maybe I should call his parents and warn them to keep their son safe from you," she ended with a mutter.
Randy spun me on my heels and propelled me back out the door and forced me up the hill to his house. Not that I was resisting, at least not that I remember. He sat me on his bed, and that was when I became conscious of the tears that were streaking down my cheeks, and of the growing wet spot on my shirt where my tears had found a resting place. Randy reappeared with his mother who dabbed at my cheeks and made all the appropriate coos for the scene, before retreating back downstairs. An argument ensued, but it must have been on the phone because no one was yelling back at Mrs. Proctor.
Randy sat next to me and placed an arm around me and then drew me in to rest my head on his chest, tucked under his chin. I drew a long hitching breath and then started to cry as never before, tears of loss, frustration, rage, and pain. I cried until I no longer was conscious.
I woke in Randy's bed at about nine thirty. I sat up slowly, feeling empty and cold. The dimly lit room revealed Randy and Nick on the floor playing at doing their homework.
"So what's wrong with Adam? C'mon Randy, you already know how I feel, it's not fair to hold back. I want to be there for him too," Nick said quietly. " I love him."
"I know, but that's not my call, dude. I told you that. If he wants you to know, he'll tell you."
"But I don't understand why he's pushing me away. Have I done something?"
"Not that he's said to me, but we don't see each other as much as we used to, and that has to change. I mean, we used to hang all the time, and this really scares me, cause I had no idea it was coming."
"What was coming?"
"I can't," Randy said quietly. "It's not my place, Nick. Please understand, it's his private affair and it just wouldn't be right."
"Ok. I guess I understand. But if I can help, you know."
"Yeah, I know, man. Thanks."
"Yeah, so I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Yeah, dude, I guess so."
I saw Nick's form rise and throw his pack on his back, and then he walked next to me. I faked sleep and felt his gentle touch push the hair from my brow. I drew in a sudden breath and reached for his hand. He tried to draw back, but I held his hand to my forehead, and then to the tears that were escaping my eyes once again. I drew his hand to my lips and whispered the words, I set them free to his ears.
"I love you too, Nick"
His breath stopped. He sat next to me and breathed slowly. Randy stood behind him with his arms wrapped around him. I motioned him to me, and he approached and sat on the other side. I held their hands and felt complete for a moment, at peace. And I slept.