Chapter 4: An Enigma
I got thoroughly interrogated the next day. We were sitting out in the sunshine on our back lawn, Jeremy attacked me from each and every angle. Not satisfied with a recapitulation of events, he wanted my own thoughts and comments on everything. In the end he summed up his view of Alex.
"Man, that's a kind of cold way to treat you. Since you're gonna be fuck-buddies, he should've been nicer. Want me to beat him up for you?"
"Beat him up?" I ignored the rest of his comment. "What good would that do?"
"Well, I could knock some sense into him. It's obvious he's too dumb to love you like you deserve."
"You're not beating up my brother, you hear?"
"Hear ya. But I think he might need it."
"Besides, he'd probably knock your skull in."
"Hah! You said he was as small as you. And I can wipe the street with you any day. So our boy-watching days are over, eh?"
"Well, either you and he... you know..." He made an obscene gesture with his index finger and his closed fist. "Or else you'll just sit around moping about him. Like with that swimmer, Jason."
"Jim. And Alex and I aren't getting together. We're becoming family for Christ's sake!"
"Davey baby, you are soo in love. A blind horse could tell."
"Jer, are you jealous?" I decided to abandon the defensive approach. "Can't take it that I look at other guys?"
"Well, I'd do you any day, honey, just say the word!"
"Dave, back off!" I advanced on him, trying my best to look menacing. Which was hard since I was grinning the whole time. "I mean it, man, stay back!"
I pounced him, and we rolled around on the lawn, laughing and giggling like crazy. In the end he pinned me. Like he had said, he could wipe the street with me any day. Once he had me trapped, he proceeded to tickle me until I had to threaten him I'd pee all over us. He let me up, and I bolted for the bathroom. Once I was back outside, he was grinning smugly.
"So you admit I won our argument?"
"Our wrestling game, more like it. I'm not going to fuck Alex." Jeremy raised his eyebrows and opened his mouth to speak, but I beat him to it. "Or getting fucked by him. Damn, man, you have a one track mind!"
"One track, derailed." He laughed. "You do know I'm only pulling your leg, right?"
"Really?" I let my voice ooze with sarcasm. "I hadn't noticed you did such things."
"Oh yes, it happens. Every now and then." He grinned at my sour face. "Dave, you should get out more. You're turning into a sour old maid."
"I'm still in the closet, remember? It's not like I'm going clubbing."
"I guess so. So when's the wedding? Am I invited?"
"Of course you are. The date's not set yet, but I've got a feeling mom'll want something big."
"From what you tell me, that guy Ron's quite a stud..."
"Oh give it a break!" I elbowed him in the ribs, grinning to show him I wasn't sour. "I know teenagers are supposed to be horny, but you're way over the top!"
"Oww!" He rubbed his sore side, pouting. "I just happen to think sex is fun, what's wrong with that?"
"Your psychiatrist must have a field day, trying to tell you the difference between a hobby and an obsession." I pushed him over, then threw myself on top of him, pinning him down. "Besides, you know empty barrels rattle most, eh?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Laughing, he tossed me off of him like I had weighed nothing, then sat down on my back, pushing my face into the grass. "Better watch your mouth or I'll tickle you again. Without stopping this time."
"I'm saying it's a lot of sex talk coming from one who's still a virgin."
"I am not!" I managed to squirm around just in time to catch a glimpse of his reddened face. "I've had sex!"
"Yeah, with your right hand. And no doubt with that teddy bear you still sleep with."
"You cheeky little fucker! Like you've ever had sex!"
"Well, at least I don't go around talking like I had." Pushing with all my strength, I managed to roll out from underneath him. Like always when we're wrestling, I had sprung a boner. "While you try to sound like some fucking expert."
"Dave, is that jealousy I hear?" He grinned, and got ready to pounce me again. "Remember Karla? Or Jenny? I went out with them."
"Went out, yes, but don't try to tell me you actually scored with them!" He lunged at me, and I let out a yelp, running as fast as I could to get away from him. "You're not gonna convince me you're a ladies' man by chasing a boy, you know."
"Gotcha!" He took us both down with a flying tackle, then pinned me to the ground. "You're a real shithead, you know, playing on people's weaknesses like that."
"So you are a virgin? I was just teasing."
"I'm fourteen, for crying out loud! My folks thinks I'm too young to be kissing."
"You really are a virgin!" I laughed at his sudden blush. "Wait until I tell all our friends!"
"Do that, and I'll tell them you wet your bed until you were twelve, and only stopped because your mom tied your pee-pee into a knot!"
"That's not even true!"
"Who do you think will care? They'll laugh at you anyway." He let me up and we sat there for a while, just laughing at each other. "And as far as everybody else is concerned, my maidenhood isn't true either, right?"
"All right. If you're lucky, I just might forget to tease you in private, too."
"Any time!" We laughed. "Thanks, Jer."
"For not threatening me with my biggest secret."
"Hey, I'd never do that!" He got a serious look on his face. "Some best friend I'd be then, eh?"
"I guess... But thanks anyway."
"You're welcome." He grinned. "Although I don't really understand why you're not coming out for good. You're a popular guy, Dave, I don't think anybody'd put down on you."
"Just because you're cool doesn't mean everybody else is." He got up, then pulled me to my feet. "Thanks."
"You know, coming out might even improve your love life."
"Maybe." I have to admit, that thought had crossed my mind a time or two. "But I still don't think I'm ready for the big step. From inside, the closet is quite cozy."
"Fine. But people are gonna start talking anyway, you know, once you start dating that brother o'yours."
"First of all," I sighed, shaking my head, "he's not my brother yet, and second, I'm not gonna date him."
"Details. Once your hormones realise you're sleeping in the same room as another guy, you'll ravish him in no time."
"So how come you survived all our sleep-overs?" I pretended to be in deep thought for a moment. "I know, it's because you're so ugly your mirror wears a blindfold!"
Needless to say, I had to run for my life after that. We're a lot like that, Jeremy and I, constantly pestering each other and bickering all the time. It usually ends in short wrestling matches, with me pinned down. This time was no exception, and once more he tickled me until I had to threaten him I'd wet myself. It was just about lunch time, so he soon trotted off while I went inside to see if mom had started cooking. She hadn't, and judging from the half-whispers coming from her bedroom, she was on the phone with Ron. Grinning to myself, I rummaged the fridge for some chicken breasts, then brought out the old frying pan. By the time she got off the phone, I had made us some chicken sandwiches, and she gladly accepted one, drenching it in mayonnaise.
"Ron's asked me out for dinner tonight," she said, blushing slightly at my coy grin. "I think he's going to propose to me."
"I thought all that was decided already."
"It is, but he's kind of big on gestures. I'll leave you some money for a pizza or something."
"So you think you'll be late?"
"Stop grinning, you awful boy!"
"I'll take that as a yes, then."
She was growling by then, and I felt a bit uncertain as to whether I should say something or just quietly back out of the kitchen. The phone saved me, and I put down the last bit of my sandwich to hurry up and answer it. I also made a mental note to myself to keep my teasing mom to a minimum. I wasn't entirely sure she thought I was too old to get spanked.
"Hi Dave, it's me, Alex." It took me a second or two to realise that I was talking to my brother-to-be. He sounded way more cheerful than he had last night. "Listen, are you very busy today?"
"Not really, why?"
"I just thought that, since your mom and my dad are going out, maybe we could get together. You know, catch a movie or have a pizza or something. Get to know each other a little."
"Great!" My jaw must have hit the floor. Was this the same guy I'd had to drag words out of the night before? "I... I'd love to! What time? And where?"
"Well, I could hitch a ride with dad when he picks your mom up. About five, I think."
"Sounds great." I've never been much of a conversationalist over the phone. Put me in the same room as anybody, and I won't shut up, but I hate it when I can't see the one I'm talking to. "There's a mall a couple of blocks away, maybe we could hang out there."
"Sure. See you later then, little brother."
"Yeah, see you."
That afternoon, I had very little on my mind except for Alex. I was really looking forward to spending some more time with him, and mom had been absolutely delighted when I told her. Clearly, this was nothing planned, but something he had come up with on his own. I had feared that Ron had made him call me or something, but on the other hand, he had sounded genuinely cheerful. Try as I might, I couldn't wrap my head around it. First he'd been withdrawn and shy, and now he seemed to be quite outgoing. Oh well, maybe I'd find out more during the evening. Mom handed me some extra cash so I could afford to both eating out and catch a movie, then she vanished into her room to make herself ready. I did the same thing. The afternoon progressed at a murderously slow pace, but as it ticked up to five I found myself really looking forward to seeing Alex again. True, he wasn't the kind of athlete I'd usually go for, but I caught myself remembering his smile from when we had been watching the stars. I wanted to see that smile again. If nothing else, I wanted to be a good brother to him, and maybe a good friend as well. At five, mom and I were dressed to kill, and even though we were both nervous, we still grinned at each other, wishing each other luck. The door bell rung at the stroke of five, and mom let Ron and Alex in. She kissed Ron, and the two of them quickly said good bye and were off. I was left with the Alex I knew from yesterday. He had dressed up well, wearing black jeans and a nice blue, short-sleeved shirt, but he seemed as sullen and as shy as he had been the other night. I waited for him to say something, but the silence just seemed to stretch out until it nearly drove me nuts. He had sounded so cheerful just a couple of hours ago! I gritted my teeth, deciding I'd solve the mystery Alex even if it killed me.
"So, should we get going? There's a couple of films showing at six, we can decide what to see when we get there."
"Okay." He met my eyes for a second, then looked away, but I got another good look at that smile of his. "Then dinner's my treat, okay?"
"Sure. Let's go."
I locked the door behind us, and we started walking down the street. We talked a little along the way, and he slowly seemed to open up. My mouth was working pretty much on automatic by then, because my mind was busy elsewhere. It kept returning to that oh so brief eye-to-eye contact, and the killer smile that accompanied it. I stole a glance at Alex every now and then, whenever he was looking another way. I hadn't really seen it the day before, but now it slowly dawned upon me that when he wasn't sulking, Alex was really good-looking. Really, really good-looking.
Well, the busiest two months of my life are over, and I've finally got both time and energy to write again. Sorry to keep you waiting, but hopefully postings will be more regular in the future. Any thoughts or comments, or just a friendly hello, most welcome to email@example.com.