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
can check it out and let me know what ya think. Oh and if ya go puleeaaze sign
the guest book! :)
http://thebookcase.tripod.com/ - The BookCASE
The rest of the weekend passed pretty "uneventfully". I'd put it in quotation marks since it was obviously really cool having Max living with me! As far as major events, though, nothing much happened besides our going to the gym on the Sunday. It was pretty much just the gym the way Max and I had been on our first night working out together. I was still trying to come to grips with the fact that Max was really living with me, knew I was gay, and was still probably my best friend in the world.
Sunday night we said goodnight and before I knew it, it was Monday morning again. A few days before I had been dreading this morning, but now it didn't seem like as big a deal anymore. I didn't really expect Max to stick up for me, but I figured he'd at least be there for me afterwards and I was happy enough with that. I woke up early as usual to get ready to take the bus and was already dressed when Max was just up cleaning his teeth. "What's the rush for Jared?" He asked me puzzled.
"I gotta be ready to catch the bus in a ten minutes," I said gathering my books.
"The bus? Don't you wanna ride with me in the Jeep?" Max asked sounding almost hurt. I had never even considered the possibility of me riding with him.
"Oh!" I exclaimed. "You want me to ride with you?" I asked showing my surprise. "You usually have a Jeep full of football players.
"Of course I want you to ride with me," Max said combing his hair. "We have one free seat so you can come too. I'll keep you up front with me so you don't get squashed in the back," Max said with a half smile.
I smiled back. "Okay then! I guess I can relax for a bit then.. What time Are we gonna leave?"
"Well school starts at 8:30 and it's a fifteen minute drive with picking everyone up, so I guess we'll leave at around ten after eight." I looked at Max and groaned. "What's up?"
"I coulda slept another twenty minutes!" I exclaimed.
"Yeah," Max laughed. "You could have just woken up like me."
Either way I was still happy getting to actually ride to school with him in the Jeep. It was a lot better than the bus. My parents had left early for work that morning so Max and I had to fend for ourselves as far as breakfast went, so we sat down at the table and wolfed down some cereal and orange juice, and were out the door by nine minutes after eight. We motored across town to pick up two other guys. The first was Charlie Averman who played Defensive Back for the football team. Then we picked up Leonard "Power-house" Jones. He was one of the only players with more of a build than Max. The 6'3'' 240 pound monster sauntered down the driveway with his duffel bag over his shoulder. The sun reflected off of his dark-skinned forehead and his braided hair as he drew closer to the car. He opened up my door expecting me to jump out so he could ride up front but Max motioned with a flick of the head to hop in back.
"Ride in the back?" He asked incredulously in his southern twang. Leo was from Texas and a good ole guy Max had said on our way over to pick he and Charlie up.
"Yeah J-man's got shotgun," Max answered simply.
"You mean you gonna let the lil' kinder..." Leo began but Max shot him a look and Power-house shut up quick.
"I told you about calling Jared names on Friday. None of that shit you got it Jones?" Max said sternly.
Leo nodded looking like a puppy that had been scolded by its master. I was a little taken back seeing that even Leo respected Max and looked up to him the way everyone else seemed to. "Sorry man," Leo said looking at me almost bashfully from under his eyebrows and held out a hand.
"No problem," I said trying to sound as cool as humanly possible.
"Alright squash this sentimental friendly shit we got a game on Friday, let's jam wit' the system and hit em up!" Charlie said from the seat behind Max. He reached forward and pushed play on the cd-player and turned the volume up. I smiled and listened as "Hit Em Up," by 2pac started to play, then Charlie yelled "Hit em up baby hit em up!"
"What's up with Bull-Rush?" Max asked over his shoulder.
"Aaaw shit man he's out.. Academic probation," Leo answered shaking his head after sucking his teeth.
"That means I'm gonna hafta cover the whole middle now," Max said gritting his teeth making his jaw muscles bulge a few times. "Hey Leo.. can you be in the north wing at the end of lunch today?"
"Yeah sure why?" Leo asked looking puzzled.
"You'll see.. it'll be fun," Max said smiling nodding to the beat of the music.
We pulled into the student parking-lot and Max quickly found his parking space and we all jumped out. I started walking slowly towards the school and was a little shocked when the three varsity football players took up positions to my left, right, and behind right of me as if I was running the show or something. When we got into the school I turned to look at Max who said he'd meet me by the cafeteria after school to go home. I smiled and said I'd see him there and turned to go to my locker feeling like Alexander the Great or Napoleon must have during the apex of their rule.
I walked to my locker and grabbed my books for class shoving them into my bag and headed to first period. The morning seamed to fly by and before I knew it lunch time had rolled around. I got my lunch money from my locker and headed to the cafeteria. I bought my food and was headed to the "geek table" where all the school rejects sat when Nancy Harrison called me over. Nancy was the most popular freshman in the school.
"Hey you're Jared Matthews right?" She asked smiling at me. I smiled back and nodded. "Wanna sit down?" She asked sliding over on the bench making room for me. I set my food on the table and sat down next to her a little more than "slightly unsure".
"Uh thanks," I said timidly.
"I saw you come into school today with Max Thomas," she said after taking a sip of her pop. I nodded unsure of what to say. "So how do you know him?" She asked smiling.
I started questioning my homosexuality as I looked at her smile. She really was a beautiful girl and was in a couple of my classes and seemed like a pretty nice person. She wasn't the usual popular ditsy cheerleader type, she was intelligent and though she was attractive enough to win any guy in ninth grade, as well as half the guys in tenth grade, she wasn't even remotely conceited. "Well he sort of lives at my house right now," I said slowly.
"He lives with you??" She asked. "That's so cool. What's he really like?"
"Um.." I began slowly. "He's cool," I said not wanting to say much. Max had worked hard to build up his reputation and seemed to like the mystery surrounding him so I didn't want to mess thing up for him.
"So why does he live at your house," she asked firing another awkward question at me.
"I'm not really supposed to talk about it," I said slowly. "I promised him I wouldn't start airing out all his personal stuff."
Nancy smiled. "That's cool," she said and took a bite out of her sandwich. I figured that was a sign that I was dismissed and started to get up.
"Where are you going?" She asked quickly.
"Oh I was gonna go eat at my table.." I said in the same awkward tone, then my voice cracked on table and I blushed bright red. She grabbed my shirt sleeve and pulled me back down into my seat.
"Eat," she said simply. "I don't know if you've noticed or not.. but the people you eat with don't say much." I looked over at the usual table and then back to her with a stupid clueless expression on my face. Nancy giggled and smiled that heart-stealing smile at me again. "You're so cute! Stay here and talk to me okay?"
"I.. uh.. you want me to sit here for real?" I asked still a little unsure.
"Of course," she said easily. "Why not?"
"Well because I'm sorta a geek," I said looking across the table nervously. No one else seemed to be paying any attention to us.
"Nonsense," she said happily. "I think you're adorable and if you leave it'll hurt my feelings," she said pouting then breaking into another smile.
I smiled shyly back and agreed, so we sat there side by side for the next forty minutes eating and then talking. Nancy had gone to a different elementary school to mine and we swapped stories about the other students we'd gone to school with. Nancy had her elbow on the table with her head resting on her hand giving me her undivided attention when I realized I needed to get to my locker and grab my books before Jack showed up. I looked up at the clock and looked down in an almost surrendering fashion. "What's up?" Nancy asked.
"I gotta go grab my books outta my locker before the lunch period ends or I'm gonna get dunked in a toilet," I said laughing nervously.
Nancy frowned then her face brightened. "Things will be okay, you'll see," she said smiling. "See you in class?"
"Yeah," I said smiling as I stood up. "Thanks Nancy, I'll see you in class."
I quickly made my way to my locker hoping to get my books for the afternoon classes and leave before Jack showed up. I tied up my knapsack and tossed it over my shoulder and closed my locker when I heard him. "Worrrmsshiiit," he said in the voice like fingernails on a blackboard. "Did you bring our money today?"
"Nope," I said imitating the common Maxwell Thomas cool demeanor.
"What to you mean 'nope'?" Jack asked incredulously. "You wanna get dunked?"
"I'd rather use your face for a toilet, but whatever's easiest for you!" I said in as cocky a tone as I could muster.
"Oh you're gonna fucking get it!" Jack said grabbing me along with his two goons who were standing there chuckling like a pair of idiot book-ends. That's when Max came around the corner the same way he had on Friday. "Maxwell," Jack said smiling like Max was his best friend. "Wanna help me dunk the worm-shit here?"
"Dunk the worm-shit?" Max asked stopping and looking at us. "You know what? Yeah.. Yeah let's go dunk the worm-shit Jack, that sounds like a great plan!"
My mouth dropped open as Max came over to us and rested a hand on my shoulder leading me down the hall towards the bathroom. I was sweating bullets and shitting bricks now since this was a completely unexpected turn of events. I mean I was Max's project right? He was working with me at the gym to help me get built to stick up for me.. I was his training partner. He wouldn't ever help Jack and his boys dunk me would he?