Chapter 1. Playing the Pawns

It is my supposition that the universe is not only queerer than we imagine. It is queerer than we can imagine.

--J.B.S. Haldane

Excerpt from Kyle's Diary: Monday, Feb 2:

Tommy is always ready to protect me, but sometimes I think maybe it's really not necessary. Like today, we were walking around the lunch court talking, and Tommy was holding my hand in his. I used to be scared to do stuff like that, but I always feel safe with Tommy. When I hold his hand, it's like I can feel his strength. like energy just from his touch, you know? So we walked by this one table, and I could see a couple of the football guys and their friends were looking at us. One of them started to yell something, and Tommy turned that way. I could see his muscles tensing (which is always very sexy!) as he looked to see who was harassing us. It was just stupid words, and not really worth the effort, I thought. Anyway, the guy shut up right away. I hadn't seen him around before.

The spooky thing was that Simon, the guy who Tommy and I had that problem with back in November, was sitting right at the next table, He was staring at us, and it's obvious that he still hates Tommy and me. He creeps me out. He's the sort of guy who'd be wearing a black trench-coat if it weren't against the rules.

When football season was over at Jefferson High, Chuck and Mouse would ‘hold court’ with their hanger-on buddies during lunch. Usually this just meant making loud comments about everyone who went by: a bumptious compliment to a hot chick; a loud greeting to a friend; or rude insults to the ‘geeks’ who might unfortunately get into their line of fire. For the last week or so, they'd been joined by Rocky, a big guy who looked like he should play ball himself. He had just been transferred from Adams High for some kind of discipline problem; Rocky didn't seem to want to talk much about it.

They were having a pretty good time that Monday, and Rocky was getting the full low-down on who were the cool chicks to know, which jocks were good guys and which were losers, and so on. Along about half way through lunch, two freshmen walked by. They were both about the same height — less than five and a half feet tall — but one of them was obviously more solidly built than the other: his shoulders were broader, and his chest and arms filled his sweater more visibly than his slimmer friend. Friend? Shit, he thought, these guys aren't just buddies, they're fuckin' asshole buddies. Look at the way they're holding hands, those fucking perverts aren't even ashamed of themselves.

Hey, you little queers!” he shouted, “Bet you'd like one of us to stick … Hey! What was that for?” he finished, as Chuck got his attention by punching him roughly in the shoulder. “You going to let those faggots just prance around like that?

We just let those guys alone,” Chuck explained, with kind of an embarrassed look on his face. “The blond guy? His name is Tommy Boyd, and he is a lot tougher than he looks. If you get in his face about him being queer …”.

… or even look funny at his little faggot boyfriend …” added Mouse.

He goes completely psycho, and he can really hurt you! Listen. Back around the beginning of the season, I was getting lunch in the cafeteria, and there's this guy from our class — everyone knows he's a fag — who's sitting at the only table with empty seats, and this Boyd kid is sitting across from him, but they're not talking or anything. So, I have to sit down next to this fag kid, which is really disgusting, not even noticing the freshman kid there. So I'm having some fun with the fag, you know, the usual stuff? Just loud enough so that everyone else can hear, right? Got some good laughs. Then I take a muffin or something off his plate and drop it on the floor. When he leans over to pick it up, I'm like, ‘Yeah, bending over is what you guys do best, isn't it?’ I thought it was pretty funny, Then all of a sudden, I'm being grabbed from across the table by this guy, who's looking absolutely furious! I swear, he pulled me right across the table like it was nothing, and he stands me up and shoves me really hard! I mean, like, my feet left the ground! And bam! I go crashing against the table behind me, and everyone gets stuff spilled all over the place. Well, I figure, this guy is psycho, and I just leave. The kid is really strong, man, and he's crazy. I think he's on juice or something. Just leave him alone.

So, you let this little freshman push you around? No wonder you guys were last in the division,” Rocky smirked. “Back at Adams, nobody would let a frosh faggot get away with that kind of shit.

Mouse was shaking his head. “You still don't get it. This isn't just some little queerboy. And whatever you do, don't fuck around with his fag boyfriend, I think his name is Kyle. Back in October, I saw Kyle always leaving the classroom next to mine at the end of third period, and just knew he had to be a faggot. So every time I saw him I would tell him what a faggot he was, you know, the usual shit. And a couple of times when nobody was around, I'd have a little fun using him for a little light punching, knocking his book-bag around, just stuff like that, you know? I mean, these guys ask for it, right? So, like, after maybe a couple of weeks of this, me and my buddy are walking down the street after school and we see Kyle and Tommy walking ahead of us. I tell my buddy about sweet little Kyle and his faggot boyfriend, and he giggles. Suddenly, Tommy turns around and he's all, ‘Are you the guy who's been giving Kyle trouble?’ I'm like, sure, and he asks me how come. ‘He's a faggot,’ I say, ‘that's reason enough!’ So he says that he is gay too, like that's a big deal or something, and I shrug, and he's all, ‘Kyle is my friend, so you should just leave him alone.’ Well, I go, fuck that, I'll do what I like. ‘I'll give you a chance to apologize to him,’ he says, so I just say, well, fuck both of you faggots. And all of a sudden this guy grabs me right in the armpits and shoves me, really hard against a wall! Still holding on, you know? So I try to pull his hands off, and shit, they won't come off! The damned kid just squeezes harder and just won't let go! And then, I swear, he lifted me right off the ground, maybe a foot up, holding me against the wall. I tried to kick him in the gut but that didn't do anything, and he starts squeezing really hard! I've never felt anything like it, I swear to God! So then he tells me to apologize, and I don't say anything. So he drops me to the ground, but he's still pinning me to the wall with one hand, and then wham! the sonofabitch sucker-punches me in the gut. Then he grabs me again, this time around my biceps, you know? And he pushes me to the wall again and just squeezes my arms. I held out for a while, but you can't believe how much it hurt — it was like having my arms in a vise. Finally I can't stand it any more and I have to give up. Then he goes and lifts my buddy and bangs him against the wall too and then lets him down. So then the faggot showoff, he like flexes his bicep in my face and makes me put my hand on it and makes me promise to leave his boyfriend alone. I'm telling you man, he may not be a big guy, but his bicep is like steel or something. Anyway, just listen, and don't fuck around with his boyfriend, or I swear, he'll tear your arms off!

Rocky's face wore an odd expression, as though he didn't know whether to laugh in Mouse's face or spit in disgust. “Jesus fuckin' Christ,” he finally shouted. “You guys are actually afraid of this little homo! How can you stand to let him get away with this shit?! Isn't there someone here who's got the guts to put this faggot in his place?

The embarrassed silence that followed was broken by a reedy, nasal voice from the next table “Yeah. I've got the guts to deal with Tommy Boyd. And I know just how to do it, too.

All eyes turned to see who was speaking. It was a thin-faced junior in a black shirt, black Levi's, black boots, and spiked collar, with long stringy black hair surrounding his pale face. They'd all seen this goth-wannabe around, but hadn't considered him worth their attention. Chuck looked him over and sneered. “You do, do you? And who the hell are you supposed to be?

Simon. And I hate those faggots more than any of you guys. That Tommy guy is strong, and he's nothing but a thug. Back in November, I was in the bathroom in the Math building to smoke a j… well, I was in there, and I hear these two guys in the next stall. I open the door, and I see Tommy all undressed, and his fagboy getting ready to … well, let's just say that he was on his knees, and he wasn't there to look for his contact lenses. I should have gone right to the principal and had these guys suspended, but I didn't get away fast enough. Before I know it, Tommy has me pinned to the wall, and he punches me in the stomach. He says something like, ‘If you tell anyone, so help me this will seem like a little love-tap!’ And then he hits me in the face. That queer gave me a fat lip for a week! I know you guys think I'm a wimp, but I was terrified! I've been thinking how to get even, and I think I know how to really make him sorry he ever touched me. But I can't do it unless you guys help me.

Chuck and Mouse and their hangers-on all looked curiously, perhaps even almost respectfully, at this weird guy who, at any rate, seemed to have a plan. “What did you have in mind?” asked Chuck, still with a bit of a sneer.

This is un-fuckin-believable!” spat Rocky. “You mean to tell me that you are going to let this little creep tell you how to handle some 14-year-old faggot? I give up!” With that, Rocky walked off shaking his head, as Simon began to outline his plan. He strode, fuming, across the lunch court in the same direction that Tommy and Kyle had followed, and saw them sitting at a stone table. He could just imagine the sickening conversation they must be having. Well, he'd show this Tommy guy that there was someone new on the scene who wasn't scared of him.

Excerpt from Kyle's Diary: Monday, Feb 2: (continued)

Just a few minutes later, Tommy and I were sitting and talking, when that guy who had yelled at us walked up to the table. He looked at Tommy and said, “ Are you Tommy Boyd?” Tommy looked up at him, I thought kind of suspiciously. “Yes, that's me.” The other guy, who has to be a senior and must weigh like 200 pounds, said, “I hear you're supposed to be pretty strong. Think you're stronger than me?” I couldn't help it: I said, very matter-of-factly, “Tommy is the strongest guy in the school.” He didn't even look at me, he just sort of sneered at Tommy and said, “Yeah, right.” Then he sat down at the table and put his arm up in challenge; everyone always wants to arm-wrestle Tommy; it's like he's a gunfighter in the Old West or something.

Well, Tommy just gave that little modest sort of shrug that he has (I just love that), and put his arm on the table. I was going to count to three, but as soon as Tommy clasped his hand, the other guy started to push, which is kind of cheating. Tommy's arm went back a bit, and then the other guy smirked and pushed his arm back some more. When his hand was maybe an inch off the table, the guy said, “Is that all you've got?” Now Tommy smiled, and said calmly, “Well, actually, no, not really,” and suddenly the guy's hand stopped moving down. You could see that hard round bicep on Tommy's arm right through his sweater — it was beautiful. It didn't take more than five seconds for Tommy to finish the job, and as he sometimes does, he held the guy's hand down on the table, squeezing it, for a few seconds. “Yeah, well,” the guy said, “my arm's been feeling a little sore all day.” Tommy just looked at him, and in, I swear, an absolutely perfect imitation of his voice, just said, “Yeah, right.

Well, this guy got really pissed off by that, and stood up and took a swing at Tommy, but Tommy just dodged out of the way. Well, that just made the guy even madder, and he tried to grab Tommy by the biceps and lift him or something, but that didn't work, so he just started to shake Tommy around. So Tommy reached up and grabbed his forearms and put on that amazing grip of his, until the guy let go. Then Tommy punched him in the stomach. He grabbed his stomach and fell to the ground. Tommy and I just walked away.

After a few minutes, Rocky came back to the table where Chuck, Mouse, and Simon were all talking animatedly. He sat down heavily, his hand still over his stomach. “OK,” he sighed. “What's the plan?