The Maxwell Thomas
By: Eric Case
To those whom it may interest, this story, and all my others - some of which
won't be on nifty - are available at my website "The BookCASE", so you
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http://thebookcase.tripod.com/ - The BookCASE
"Look I'm sorry Max!" I said as the tears sprung from my eyes running down my face, which was sure to be pummeled any second now, and Max just took yet another step towards me. "It's not something I chose okay? It's just what I am. I didn't wanna be gay," I said flinching as he reached out and grabbed me by the shoulders. He pulled me closer and slid his hands up to each side of my head. His thumbs slid forward under my eyes and he wiped my tears away soothingly. Leaning forward, he rested his chin on the top of my forehead.
"Don't cry Jarred," he said wrapping his arms around my shoulders pulling my face into his chest and hugging me tightly. "It's gonna be okay. Shhhh.... come on, calm down little dude."
"You mean you're not," sniff, "gonna beat the hell outta me?" I asked still a little unsure in a quivering voice.
"No Jared, I'm not gonna beat anything out of you," Max said squeezing me a little tighter. That was it, the burden I had felt, and been feeling for the last couple years seamed to suddenly lessen like the fear you feel before you write an exam leaves after you have aced it. I felt as if I could easily jump off the Empire State Building, and float to Toronto landing on the CN-Tower. A deep wave of joy swept over me, I buried my face in Max's muscular chest and sobbed. He had accepted me, knowing the one true secret about me that I had never told anyone about. He knew. He knew now that I was gay, and he hadn't beat me up, he hadn't laughed at me, belittled me, run away, or even frowned. He gave me a hug, and that hug meant more to me than possibly any other before or since. It was in that one single act that I knew even though I was little, and even though I was gay, Max was still willing to be my friend. This Adonis with the build of Zeus himself, Maxwell Thomas, the pinnacle of manliness and strength in our school, accepted me for who I was.
"So I guess you know I'm gay now huh?" I asked between sniffles after turning my head to the side resting my ear and the side of my face against Max's tear-stained shirt.
"Yeah I know. I sort of suspected from before anyway," Max said in a soothing voice.
"You suspected from before?" I asked a little worried. Maybe it showed on my face or in the way I walked.. maybe everyone knew!
"You sort of looked at me in a funny way in the locker room when we were changing. I mean I chalked it up to mere admiration," Max said with a chuckle, "but I figured maybe.. anyways it doesn't matter Jared. It doesn't change anything. 'Gay' may be what you are, but it is not who you are."
BAM that was it, and not what you're thinking. Yeah what Max said had a deeper meaning and all, and I appreciated that, but when he said that was pretty much the moment when I fell for him. I liked him before this point in time, but I definitely loved him after that statement. "Are you gonna tell my parents?" I asked him as he let me go and I sat down with him on my bed.
"Nope," he answered without much emotion. It was a pretty flat, matter-of-fact tone of voice and I couldn't help but giggle a little. He smiled at this and added, "it's really not their business until you decide to tell them. I mean I think your folks would probably be cool with it anyway, or as cool as parents get, but it is up to you if, and when you will tell them, not me."
"You know Max, I don't usually like to swear but you're a cool fuckin guy you know that?" I said smiling.
Max burst out laughing at this. "Ahahaha yeah.. well.. it just wouldn't have had the same meaning without the extra choice word in there huh?" I smiled a nod back at him. "You're pretty cool yourself Jared, and you've picked quite the adorable picture for your desktop wallpaper too," Max said glancing back to the computer monitor which still proudly displayed the picture of Kevin smiling, and Max gave me a gentle shot in the arm.
"Are uh... I mean you're not.. like.."
"No I'm not gay," Max answered my question simply. It wasn't a defiant, or defensive answer, and it wasn't an excited or agitated answer either; it was the same matter-of-fact tone he used moments earlier.
My shoulders slouched a little. I mean it was, in a way, letting some air out of my sails since that was a sort of fantasy that I had been fueling but hey, I could still have my fantasy right? "Just supposing if you were.. and uh.. that you and me hung out like we do, would you ever consider uh.."
"Jared if I were gay, you would have been one of my first choices in a partner. The boy on the screen doesn't even compare to you," Max said smiling at the huge grin he got from me. "Your secret is safe with me Jared, and not just because I'm living in your house right now." Max said laughing, and silencing one of the annoying subconscious thoughts that was probably brooding in the back of my mind.
With one more quick hug, we changed the subject to other matters like who would win the super-bowl, and what sport was the best sport. Of course we both quickly decided that football was definitely number one towering over all since it was my favorite to watch and Max's favorite to play. The toss up was in the second best since I called it as hockey, and Max called it as baseball. Finally Max said "fine, if we can't settle on one of those two, let's just call the number two sport as golf and be done with." This, although we both knew it wasn't true, set us both at a state of peace, and we started nattering away about other stuff.
What amazed me was the depth of subjects Max thought about. The range of topics he could talk about was surprising for someone who many pegged as a "dumb jock". I mean most people figured he was a pretty cool guy, but I had never considered with any seriousness that he could possibly have opinions on things like the significance of Boris Yeltsin's retirement to Russia and subsequently the rest of the world! He had opinions on everything we talked about, and for every opinion he held, Max had factual information he could back it with. He even knew biblical references fresh off the top of his head, and quoted them easily when I brought up the whole issue of homosexuality. Then he had a different way of looking at things, and as I found out talking to him later on in our friendship, that he could easily blow the lid off your thinking leaving you stunned and in shock. lol All in all, we covered about seven or eight major topics of discussion in a 4 hour period.
Finally, though, my dad interrupted us when he knocked on the door. We were now seated on the floor with our backs against the bed. Dad opened the door and smiled. "Hey guys. Jared, your mother and I are going out for a bit, and picking up the pizza so we'll be back in about a half hour."
"Okay dad," I said happily.
"Are you fealing a bit better now Maxwell?" My dad asked.
"Much so, thanks Mr. Matthews," Max said standing up.
"Are you the same Maxwell Thomas who's always mentioned on the news after the football games?" My dad said frowning in thought.
Max laughed, "yeah I'm the one they're always hyping up on the news."
"Nooo," dad said drawing the word out. "I've seen you play, and the praise is pretty well deserved. I've only just now made the connection.. Well it's nice to finally have met you," dad said smiling. He closed the door and I heard him walking down the stairs.
"You have a game on Friday right?" I asked standing and then sitting down on the edge of Max's bed.
"Yeah.. big game. We had the bi-week this week going into the playoffs."
"Cool. You're gonna win right?"
"Of course," Max said chuckling. He walked over to the dresser where his bag was and unzipped the top pulling out a sleeveless shirt with the school logo on the back. He stripped his shirt off and pulled the other shirt on. This shirt showed off his big shapely arms that I couldn't help but admire. I now knew, though, that Max's strength wasn't just physical strength, but it came like everybody said, from someplace inside of him. The exterior was simply there to compliment it, and the more I learned about Max, the more I wanted to know more.
"Are you gonna play offense or defense this week?" I asked. "I read in the school paper where you said you didn't want to play both ways any more a couple weeks ago."
"Yeah I said that then, but coach and I had a long talk about it. Now he's promising to take me out some of the time so I can get a breather. I hate playing full games never leaving the field. It's not fair to me, or the guys behind me in the line-up who come to practice every day of every week."
"So you're starting both ways?" I asked.
"Yeah probably if that's what the coaches want," Max said rooting through his bag. He opened the side pocket and let out a nervous laugh.
"What's up?" I asked standing up and walking over to where Max was looking in his bag.
"My Kirk Franklin CD," Max said smiling. His eyes were moist and he looked about ready to cry. "Dad bought this for me when my step mother moved away cause I really wanted it and didn't have any money. Every time the one song came on the radio I'd turn it up so he just came home with it one night." He stood silently looking at it a moment then laughed nervously again. "It sounds stupid I know cause it's just a CD, it was just somethin that's always meant a lot to me."
I didn't know what to say so I just smiled half-heartedly. "Hey you mind if I grab a shower before dinner?" Max asked.
"Sure, I'll go get you a towel... one or two?" I asked.
"Two always," Max said smiling.
"Okay," I said smiling and went to grab Max a towel outta the linen closet. I went back to Max's room but he'd already gone to the bathroom so I turned around and went to the bathroom. "Here you," I started but never finished. Max was standing there in his boxer shorts folding his pants and his shirt. I mean it was nothing major I guess, it's just I wasn't expecting to see him wearing so little and Max is quite a sight to look at know what I mean?
"'Go' was the next word," Max said smiling inwardly. Man he was cute. For all that he had that great build, he still had a cute face just bordering on the older teen look.
"Actually I was thinking 'here you are'," I said trying to hold my goofy grin inside.
Nothing much else happened that day besides dinner and sleep. Max got out of the shower and came out of his room dressed and ready for some food just as my parents got back. My mom thought it best if we had a less formal meal on Max's first night in the house, so we ate in the family room watching tv. My parents did most of the entertaining during dinner since they wanted to talk about things like school as well as lay down a few ground rules. My parents are pretty easy going and from the look on Max's face, I could tell his rules at home were probably more strict than the ones at my house. Yeah things were gonna be just great; with Max as a friend, and living at my place, now things would be perfect.
Okay so there was no hospital scene.... if you actually read the foreword then it mighta thrown you off for the first few seconds lol. If I can't have a cliffhanger ending to the chapter, I'll have a stupid foreword designed to throw ya off the trail lol :) Take care and thanks for reading guys,