The Moon in Your Eyes
Disclaimer:The following story and subsequent submissions may contain scenes of sexual activity between males. If it is illegal for you to read such material in your locality or if you find such material offensive, you are advised to read no further. This story is fiction; it did not happen. Any similarity between characters and events portrayed in this story and real life is purely a coincidence. Do not copy this story or submit it to any forum without the permission of the author.
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The Moon in Your Eyes
"The school-boy, above all others, is not the simple being the world imagines. In that young bosom are often stirring passions as strong as our own, desires not less violent, a volition not less supreme. In that young bosom, what burning love, what intense ambition, what avarice, what lust of power, envy that fiends might emulate, hate that man might fear."
Benjamin Disraeli, Coningsby, 1844
"Gooooood Moooorrrrrning! Its another beautiful day here in America's Heartland, but its going to be a scorcher for the first day of school. The high today should reach one-oh-two in the city, one hundred in the suburbs. Remember, it IS the first day of school, so speed zones are active at the school crossings and the police WILL be out to enforce speed limits today. Speaking of traffic, another slowdown this morning inbound on the Central Expressway...."
Mother turned the radio off as we sat at the corner, waiting for a break in the traffic so she could turn onto Twenty-fourth Street. I was fidgeting on the passenger's side; I couldn't sit still.
"You're excited, aren't you?" She asked with a rare smile as she glanced at me.
"Yeah, I guess so," I replied with a grin.
She pulled out into a break in the traffic.
"I'm so proud of you."
"What?" I asked. I wasn't certain I had heard her properly.
"I'm proud of you. You look like such a gentleman in your jacket and slacks. Just think. You're starting a new life today at the best school in the state. You won a scholarship! You passed the tests! You're going to St. Stephen's!"
I smiled. "Yes," I replied softly.
"You should be so proud of yourself. I know your father would have been proud."
I looked down at my lap as we stopped in the left turn lane at Franklin Avenue. Any mention of my father, now dead for two and a half years, always made me emotional. Mother noticed and as we began to move through the intersection and head south on Franklin, she added, "Fred's proud of your, too."
"Yeah, right. Fred hates me."
"He does not. He just doesn't understand you."
We were silent until we came to the light at Thirtieth. Mother changed lanes and turned right. In front of us was a line of Lincolns, Caddies, and Mercedes, all of which appeared to be new seventies or seventy-ones, pulling up to the front of St. Stephen's School. My heart began to race. I was so excited; and, so scared.
"Well, here we are," she said as we waited to pull up.
"Why don't I get out here and walk the rest of the way so you don't have to wait," I suggested. It really wasn't because I was ashamed of our sixty-eight Chevy, but....
"OK," Mother replied. She leaned over and kissed my cheek. "Now try not to make any mistakes this time."
My heart sank.
"Try to fit in. Try to be just like all the other guys and you'll do just fine."
"Just do it." She paused again. "I am proud of you."
It was so rare for me to hear those words come out of her mouth. I sat for a moment and tried to forget the other comments that had accompanied them. Then, I leaned over, kissed her on the cheek and opened the door. I stood on the sidewalk, holding my notebook, and waived at Mother. She waived back and pulled out into traffic.
I sighed and smiled as I turned. There, before me, a block away, was the red-brick fake Gothic facade of the main building of St. Stephen's School. In just moments, I would begin the eighth grade. In just moments, I would begin a new era in my life, when I would be going to a school full of smart kids, kids who wouldn't laugh at me for being smart. I would finally be in a school where I fit in, where everyone would like me, where I would have friends. Where I could be happy. I smiled and began walking.
As I crossed Norfolk Avenue and stood on the corner looking up at the imposing structure, a yellow Ford station wagon with wood panels pulled up next to me. The door opened and another boy climbed out. He was blond, quite blond, a little shorter than me, dressed identically in the regulation grey slacks and blue blazer. The boy glanced at me blankly for a second and then walked on ahead toward the building. He looked familiar; and, then, I realized he was the boy who had moved in up the street from us over the weekend. This was great! Not, only was I starting at a new school where everything would be wonderful, I also had a schoolmate just up the street from me, as well! Life was finally going to be what it should be!
I was about to call out to him when I heard someone shout, "Hey , Plebe!"
I saw the boy turn with a nervous expression on his face and look to my right. A look of relief came over him and he turned away and resumed walking, though just a bit faster than before. I turned to my right and saw a group of three boys, also in the same grey slacks and blue blazer, looking at me. A moment of fear passed through me, programed from two years at Franklin Park Middle School. However, I quickly dismissed it as unnecessary. Things would be different now.
"Hey, you!" One of the boys said, a bit menacingly now. I was confused.
"Yeah," he replied as his group approached me. He was a little taller than me, dark blond hair, a little longer than I thought was permitted by the school. His tie was lose and his shirt tale hung out to the side below his blazer. And, he was smoking a cigarette, as were the other two! Perhaps, I did have some small reason for concern, after all.
"Who the fuck are you?"
I was a bit taken aback by his tone, not expecting this. Flashbacks of my first day in the sixth grade at Franklin Park came back and, suddenly, my stomach constricted.
"Scott Forrester," I replied, as strongly and confidently as I could.
"You new here?"
OK. So that's all this was. Just the usual razzing of new kids. I felt better and smiled.
"Yeah, this is my first day. So what's your name?" I held out my hand.
The two sentries at the boy's side snickered. Their leader looked at me with contempt.
"You don't need to know what the fuck my name is."
This was not going the way I expected it to, so I turned and began to walk away. The boy and his entourage followed.
"Where the fuck do you think you're going?" the jerk continued. "I'm not finished with you!"
"Yes, you are, Mr. Baldwin."
The deep, older voice startled me as, apparently, it did my welcoming committee. I turned to find an older man in his forties, wearing a tweed jacket and carrying an old-fashioned attache case, walking rapidly past.
"Hey, Mr. G! How's it going?" the jerk responded heartily.
Mr. "G" merely grunted as stomped past me. I gratefully followed him as discreetly as I could.
"How was your summer, Mr. G?" "Mr. Baldwin" continued, undeterred.
"Altogether too short, now that I have the depressing evidence before me that you have failed to be arrested by the authorities and will resume haunting my until now peaceful and serene world."
"Good to see you, too, Mr. G!"
Another grunt from ahead of me and as I hurried to remain with the safety of Mr. "G"'s sphere of influence.
As I walked quickly up the diagonal walk toward the front door and the crowd milling about in front, I told myself that this incident was nothing more than the typical hazing one expects in a new school. This was not a harbinger of things to come. Everything would be OK.
I approached the front door of the school. To my left, a group of maybe a half dozen girls my age, perhaps a little older, stood chattering and giggling. They were wearing the regulation dress for girls at St. Stephen's, blue cardigan, white blouse, blue plaid skirt. They all seemed to appraise me as I walked past. I smiled and nodded and felt my cheeks burn as they giggled. Well, perhaps, things really were going to go well!
That thought, however died as two more boys stepped in front of me and blocked my way to the steps.
"So, who's the new plebe?"
The one who spoke was a bit taller than me, with dark thick curls over his ears and approaching his collar, once again longer than I was expecting at St. Stephen's. His face was adorned with several rather large and pustulent pimples and his breath was revolting.
I wasn't certain how to respond this time. Deciding to play it off as a joke, I smiled and laughed.
"I'm the Man Without a Name," I said with a wide-eyed, crazed grin.
"Oh, a comedian," my new assailant responded. His friend, a bit shorted and chunkier, laughed and said, "He's still a plebe. Where the hell did you get those clothes?"
What was wrong with my clothes? I was wearing the same jacket they were. And the same tie. I had grey slacks just as they did, and brand new black loafers. Mother and I had spent all Saturday morning at Sears getting my new school clothes. I looked just like them!
"I'll bet he got `em at Sears!" said the first one.
My eyes grew wide and I felt my face burn. My chest began to constrict and my stomach began to produce gallons of acid as I stood there in horror. There were others watching and I heard snickers.
This was not happening. Mother had spent over a hundred dollars on my clothes so I would look just as nice as the other boys, so I would fit in. I hadn't even been on campus three minutes and already it was starting. No, it could not be. God could not be so cruel. I had spent all summer praying that my new school would give me a new life, begging him to let me escape the cruelty, the jokes, the torment of my old school, my old life.
"Oh, my God! He did get `em at Sears! Look how he's blushing!"
"What a plebe!"
I saw my neighbor standing in the doorway looking back and watching with a blank expression. Around him were dozens of other kids and all of them were either snickering at the situation or grinning.
I brushed past them and entered the building. This was not happening. This was not happening. I kept repeating that to myself as I walked automatically through the lobby and past the office to the hallway that would lead to my first hour class. The headmaster had shown me the way to the Civics classroom the day I had enrolled. He had been so polite and friendly, so enthused to have another scholarship student. He had kept telling me how pleased he was I was here and how much everyone would welcome me. This was not happening. Everything would be Ok. That was just the usual hazing and teasing.
The crowds were getting thicker. People looked at me as I passed. I tried to smile and look like a perfectly normal kid in a private school, but I could hear snickers. They were laughing at me. They were laughing at me! They were LAUGHING at me! Why? Why were they laughing?
I found room 128 as I desperately tried to keep my emotions in check. I walked in and found the room half full and stood in the doorway surveying the class, not sure where to go or where to sit.
"Hey, Plebe! Move it!"
Another boy, behind me, shoved me rudely out of the way. I hadn't realized I was blocking the door. Once again, I cringed. This was not happening.
Forlornly, I began to walk toward the back of the class. Uncertain as to what I should do, I took a seat in the last row and sat watching the others enter. I suddenly felt so hot in my blazer. I needed desperately to loosen my tie; I had seen several others do it, but I remembered what my father had told me. A gentleman never loosened his tie in public. I sat.
The class filled up as the others in my first hour Civics class entered and looked at me either skeptically or with amusement and took their seats. Just as the bell tolled at eight o'clock, in walked Mr. "G," the man who had rescued me from my first harassers.
Slowly, ominously, he walked to his desk. Gently placing the attache case down, he turned and cast his eyes over the silent class.
"My name," he began in a stentorian voice, "is William Robert Gordon the Third. You will call me Mr. Gordon."
My eyes were locked on Mr. Gordon. I was too frightened to look anywhere else.
"I am an alumnus of this fine establishment and I have the most profound respect for its reputation and honor. My father was a bishop in the Episcopal Church and a significant patron of this school. My grandfather was this school's third headmaster. I do not intend to allow anyone in this class to besmirch the honor of this school. You WILL learn in this class to be model citizens of our country. This is Civics."
I didn't know about anyone else, but I was certainly a believer.
There, was, however, a snicker coming from somewhere near me in the back of the room. I looked to my left; but, just as I did, I heard Mr. Gordon ask in a booming voice, "Who dared laugh in my classroom?!"
The room was deathly silent. His eyes roamed over every face in the room. I was terrified. His eyes landed on me and Mr. Gordon bellowed, "YOU! Did you dare laugh in my class?!"
I thought I might pee in my new Sears slacks. I wanted to die. Everyone in the class was staring at me.
"NO, SIR!" I barked.
Mr. Gordon raised his head upward, but peered downward at me through narrow slits. He paused a moment and said, "No, you didn't laugh. BUT, YOU DID!"
Suddenly, as this second statement was fired off from the howitzer that was Mr. Gordon's mouth, all eyes turned to the new object of his attention.
"Stand, Mr. Baldwin. Stand and allow us all to bask in the glory of your ignominy!"
To my left, a boy who looked like a younger version of the "Baldwin" who had accosted me before school stood with an insolent grin on his face, apparently enjoying the attention.
"Ah, the torch of chaos and rebellion is passed to a new generation. And, the war against ignorance and the forces of evil continues unabated. I had the misfortune and displeasure of finding your brother this morning still among our matriculants. I had SO hoped the authorities would have rectified this overlooked opportunity to make our city safe for democracy."
Mr. Gordon rolled his eyes.
"I see the Baldwin gift for monosyllabic communication was successfully passed on to you. Come, boy. Stand before the class in your shame, stand in the corner and contemplate your place in the New Order."
Baldwin swaggered up to the front of the room as Mr. Gordon removed a fish bowl from a shelf and held it out to him.
"Before you grace us with your punishment, Mr. Baldwin, please be so kind as to remove a slip of paper from the bowl."
The boy did so and then proceeded to the corner, but not before giving the class a triumphant grin.
"Now," declared our teacher as attention shifted back to him. "Should any other miscreants choose to violate and profane the sanctity of the Valhalla that is this Civics class, be assured the punishment meted out to you will be swift and sure."
This had to be an act. NO one could actually speak and think this way. I began to relax as I thought that maybe this experience will work out; and, be entertaining in the process!
After a quick, but obviously thorough reconnaissance of the room, Mr. Gordon held the fish bowl out.
"Now, each of you will approach and take a slip of paper from the bowl and stand at the side of the room."
As we all stood to approach the "sacred" fish bowl, I noticed that the blond boy from my neighborhood was in my class. I was both embarrassed and hopeful to find him here. He hadn't seemed to notice me. Indeed, he didn't seem very interested in anyone in the room. He walked quietly up to Mr. Gordon, didn't even look him in the eye, and removed his slip of paper. I followed behind two girls and took my place at the back of the room.
We had received numbers and Mr. Gordon announced that he felt it better for us to sit in random order than to leave seat assignments up to our own choice, this class, he explained, not having yet achieved democracy.
To my surprise, the boy was number two and I was number three. Mr. Gordon announced his name as Jeff Robinson. Jeff and I took our seats in the far row by the windows. He paid no attention to me as we took our seats. I, however, was mesmerized by his hair. Sitting less than three feet behind him, I could smell its freshness and the cleanliness, I could gaze at the soft, shiny hair as it came down over his ears and near his collar. I could watch as it seemed to fall and sway with every movement of his head, making my heart skip, my stomach tighten, and my penis grow.
Yes, I knew I was gay even when I was just thirteen. It had been the bane of my existence and further evidence of God ignoring me. It wasn't enough that I had lost my father, the only person who had ever really and truly nurtured and supported me. It wasn't enough that my mother waited less than a year to remarry. It wasn't enough that my evil stepfather found fault with almost everything about me. On top of it all, I had to go and crash through puberty at the age of twelve and pop a boner in the shower, in front of Coach and the entire gym class, on the first day of seventh grade. It had been a source of consternation to me for nearly two years now. However, there had also been moments of transcendent joy as well as I lay by myself and reveled in the richness of my fantasies.
So, for the rest of the hour, as Mr. Gordon guided us through all the paperwork and the assignment of lockers, I sat behind this truly astounding boy and fantasized about our becoming friends, about our getting it on, about our becoming boyfriends. It was with great trepidation, at the end of the hour, that I looked at the class schedule Mr. Gordon handed me and found that PE was my second hour class. So soon?
I swore that I wouldn't allow anything to happen in this gym class; and, I was beginning to feel a bit more confident and relaxed as I seemed to negotiate that hallways to the gym without incident. The fifty boys in second hour PE all gathered in the gym and milled around, joking with and insulting each other. I stood to the side looking as tough and serious as I could, a facade which seemed to succeed in deflecting any abuse or ridicule. Nonetheless, I was relieved when Coach entered from his office.
He stood in front of the window to his office and handed out more forms for us to sign and when we completed this Sisyphian task, (would we be filling out paperwork in every class?), he began to call us up individually to give us each our gym clothes and locker assignments.
Another boy approached me. He was stocky and looked as if he might be a football player, though he was probably fourteen.
"Hey, Plebe! Who the fuck are you?"
Was the "f" word the primary staple of the St. Stephen's vocabulary? I tried to bluster my way through again.
"Scott Forrester," I said with a hearty smile in my voice and on my face.
"Yeah? Where you from?"
"No, I meant, where'd you go to school last year?"
Innocently, I replied, "Franklin Park."
He burst out into hysterical laughter and, once again, my heart sank. Nonetheless, I kept a stoic smile on my face.
"Hey, guys! This plebe's from Franklin Park!"
"Yeah, he looks like a plebe!"
"Shit! He reeks like a plebe!"
I had no heart left to sink as I looked at the ringleader and said, with puzzlement in my voice, "I don't get it. I'm dressed the same way as you! What's wrong with the way I'm dressed?"
"Where'd you get those slacks and those shoes?"
I hesitated to say Sears, but I took a deep breath and did so. My inquisitor laughed again.
"Mine came from Harriman Brothers."
That was the most expensive men's clothing store in town! He was just a kid!
"Yeah!" contributed another. "Everyone at St. Stephen's gets their clothes at Harriman Brothers."
A third guy added, "Everyone except plebes!"
I gave up. There was no way out of this. I was lost. All I had left were my pride and dignity. And, my curiosity.
"I have a question," I said in an even voice to the ringleader. "What's a plebe?"
Snickers erupted throughout the crowd that had gathered to watch my humiliation. My tormentor stood back, for effect, as the crowd of boys watched expectantly for what they apparently expected would be my absolute humiliation. He declared, "Its Latin. The patricians were the ruling class. We..." and here he swept is arm around, "are the patricians. The lower classes were the plebeians. You are a plebeian."
He came right up to me, placed his face just inches from mine, and pressing his index finger into my chest for emphasis, answered in a slimy voice, "White trash."
I was taken aback. As laughter exploded through the crowd, I decided to fight back.
"I am not white trash! I live in a good neighborhood!"
"Where?" my tormentor guffawed.
With as much dignity as I could muster without looking ridiculous, I replied, "Twenty-first and Berkshire.
This time, the laughter was uncontrolled.
"He's north of Twenty-fourth!" screamed my tormentor hysterically.
I stood looking about me, observing the laughter and sneering. This was worse than my erection in the shower in seventh grade. That was simply laughing at the sort of thing that happens to everyone. This was fundamentally different. This was deeper and far more hateful.
Completely dejected, I softly muttered, "But, I won a scholarship."
Laughter started to erupt again, but suddenly, silence crashed down up the crowd. I looked up and saw all eyes trained to my left, looks of fear and shame on all the faces save one, a face that remained defiant.
My tormentor stood at lax attention.
Coach strode angrily out of the office and stood just to my left.
"What are you doing?"
Spenser laughed. "We were just..."
"I know what you were doing. Drop and give me twenty."
Spenser held his arms out in bewilderment.
"Coach, we were just...."
"Coach! What the fuck..."
Spenser gave me a withering look that told me this was not the end of the confrontation, dropped to the floor, and began doing pushups. Coach counted them off by fives and when he reached fifty, he barked at us to stand in line at attention until we had each received our clothes and lockers.
This was worse than terrible. Now, after coach's intervention, I would be seen as a rat and hated even more by the other boys, and particularly by Spenser. This experience at St. Stephen's, which I thought would be the most glorious day, had become the worst day of my life since the death of my father.
And, then, I wanted to die; for, standing at the far right end of the line, was Jeff. He was looking at me with the same neutral, blank look before turning away.
When the hour ended, Spenser came up to me and stood blocking my way out the main door of the gym. He said nothing, just stared me down and then nodded, a malevolent smile on his face.
Third hour Science was a blur. I remember filling out more forms and receiving my textbook. No one spoke to me, though.
Lunch was equally strange. After going through the line, I sat at the end of a corner table, alone. I saw Jeff doing the same at the opposite side of the cafeteria. Our eyes met for a brief moment and then he was looking elsewhere. I simply ate my lunch and melted into the background.
No one spoke to me as I left the cafeteria. I saw several kids who had witnessed either my first or my second humiliation and almost all of them either averted their eyes or smiled with embarrassment. As I crossed the courtyard between the main academic building and the Science Pavilion, I realized that probably not all the students at St. Stephen's were laughing at me. Not everyone was a jerk. But, enough were to guarantee that life was not going to be appreciably different from what I had known for the last two years.
At the east end of the courtyard, I stood facing Norfolk Avenue. The late August heat was already in the nineties. I still had twenty minutes until fourth hour History, so I took my jacket off and strolled over to the church. St. Stephen's Parish was the patron of the school and its rector was our chaplain. It was encouraged that students attend the church on Sunday's and become involved in its youth activities. As I strolled around the fake Norman facade, I decided that perhaps I needed to get involved in the church again. Perhaps if I were a better boy, God would lift the crosses off my shoulders that I was forced to bear. Perhaps, people would stop tormenting me. Perhaps, people would like me. Perhaps, I wouldn't be gay anymore. Perhaps, just perhaps, I might learn to like myself.
I had crossed to the back of the chapel and found myself facing the courtyard again. There were fewer students wasting away the lunch period in its sunshine; I glanced at my watch and found I had five minutes to make it to History. As I looked up, Jeff was standing at the south side of the church, watching me. He immediately turned, when I looked up, and began to quickly walk toward the main building, ignoring me. I followed.
After more forms were filled out, fourth hour degenerated into bedlam as the teacher, Mr. Ostrander, allowed us to debate the merits of the Vietnam War. I tried to pay attention to the discussion, but the majority of the students simply started chatting with one another and Mr. Ostrander just didn't seem too concerned with discipline. He had longish hair and his tie was a wild, psychedelic affair which most definitely did not fit in with the image of the St. Stephen's faculty.
To my delight and consternation, once again, Jeff was in my fifth hour French I class. We sat on opposite sides of the room and I never once saw him look at me. Nonetheless, I basked in the beauty of the boy as Mme. Brouchard struggled to be understood by the class as she tried to explain, in French- with no English, how to fill out yet more forms.
In a nostalgic throwback to my two years at Franklin Park Middle School, I was un-ceremoniously shoved into a locker by an older assailant during my walk to sixth hour English; and, as luck would have it, Jeff was witness to the entire incident, including the laughs of the perpetrator and his friends as they strolled down the hall.
Jeff was not in my sixth hour and so I was neither distracted from the required forms or entranced by his beauty. We were told that we would read short stories by O. Henry, poetry by the classic American and English poets, and would be writing a paper on the John Knowles book, A Separate Peace, which I had already read. English would be easy.
When the final bell rang, I took a deep breath as I wondered if it would be possible to escape from school with minimum loss of blood and dignity. I would be walking home, as Mother wouldn't have time to pick me up in the afternoon. I had become an expert at avoiding after-school confrontations when I was a prisoner at Franklin Park. I was now in new territory , however, and I realized I would need new skills to survive the Terra Incognita of St. Stephen's after class.
Placing my English book in my locker, I decided the safest way to avoid the most dangerous of confrontations was probably to exit out the side door and escape in front of the church on Norfolk Avenue.
I had planned to head up Norfolk to Twenty-fourth and over to Berkshire, certain this would enable me to escape most of the crowds of students escaping to their homes, or where-ever they escaped to after school, and it probably would have worked if one of the older students at the school, probably a junior or senior hadn't honked the horn on his red Cadillac convertible as he passed the church. This caught the attention of a group of kids on the corner which included Mr. Spenser, my tormentor from Gym.
"Hey, White Trash!" he called as he took off after me.
I decided that it would be worse if I ran. I knew I was about to get the crap beaten out of me, but I would stand up for myself. I stood in front of the steps to the church and awaited my punishment for living.
"Look," I started as he approached, "I don't want to fight you. I don't understand why everyone hates me and they don't even know me. I didn't mean for Coach to give you those fifty pushups this morning. I just want to be left alone. I just want to go to school."
"You're breakin' my heart, White Trash. You stay out of my way here, you understand? You don't fuck with Jack Spenser. You got that, White Trash?"
With each point, he jabbed me in the chest. I was getting angrier and there was nothing I could do about it. I knew that if I hit him, he would easily break every bone I had. Plus, the authorities would blame me as I threw the first punch. There was no way I could come out of this a winner.
"I think he understood everything you said, Mr. Spenser."
We both turned at these words to find a priest standing in the great door to the church. He was tall and imposing, with a head of thick black hair. His arms were crossed and his face bore a bemused expression.
"Hey, Father Parker. How's it goin'?"
Father Parker stared at Spenser for a moment until the insolent smile on his face began to fade. Then, he answered, "Not well, Mr. Spenser. Not well, at all. In fact, Mr. Spenser, you are the only person who can help me. Come inside, young man and allow our new friend the opportunity to go home unmolested by the savages who rule this school."
"Shut up, Mr. Spenser and come inside."
And, thus, I was left alone on the sidewalk with yet another reason for Spenser to hate me.
I don't remember much of the walk home. I know I passed many huge homes with huge lawns and huge trees. These were the homes where the "patricians" lived. I didn't belong here. I didn't belong anywhere. The kids at Franklin Park Middle School hated me because they thought I was a snob. The kids at St. Stephen's hated me because they thought I was "white trash." My brother and sister hated me because I was the oldest and I was smart. My stepfather hated me because I wasn't a "real" boy. My mother hated me because she thought I was an inconvenience. There was just no one who loved me or respected me anymore. Except my grandparents and even they kept telling me I wasn't trying hard enough or putting in enough effort. Nothing I did was good enough for anybody.
The Plan. That was it. The Plan. Maybe it was time for the Plan. Maybe all the options had run out. Maybe I didn't really have a choice. Maybe it was time to put the Plan into action.
Before I realized it, I had crossed Franklin, reached Berkshire, and was about to run across Twenty-fourth when a city bus stopped in front of me. The door opened directly by me and... Jeff emerged. He froze on the bottom step as our eyes met. And, then, his eyes dropped to the ground as he stepped onto the sidewalk.
"Hi," I said awkwardly.
I barely heard his whisper. He turned toward the street and waited for the bus to move on.
"So you ride the bus home," I commented lamely.
There was a break in the traffic and Jeff took off across the street without warning. I quickly followed. Once on the other side, Jeff looked back nervously at me and started walking up Berkshire toward our street.
I was so lonely and depressed at that moment that I would do anything to have someone friendly to talk to. Jeff certainly didn't seem to be in the mood to talk with me, however. Nevertheless, I was determined.
"So," I said as I caught up with him. "Where do you catch the bus?"
He sighed. "Thirtieth and Franklin." Then, after a moment of silence, he added, "Its safer than walking."
That was an interesting comment. Did this mean that he had personal experience with the sort of thing I had faced today? Or, did he just see what I had gone through and offered the suggestion out of pity for me? Either way, I wasn't certain how to respond, so I merely followed a step behind him.
At Twenty-third Street, I took a deep breath and said, "My name is Scott."
"I know," he replied softly. And, then, a moment later, he added, in almost a whisper, "Jeff."
I took a few more steps and then ventured a little further into the strange and murky world of conversations with Jeff.
"So, how long have you been at St. Stephen's?"
A pause, and then, softly, "Two years."
"Do you like it?" I asked.
He heat was incredible coming up from the asphalt of Berkshire Avenue and we had both taken off our blazers. Jeff was carrying his slung over his shoulder. A hot breeze tossed his silky hair about his head and I could see patches of sweat up his arms as he walked ahead of me. His grey slacks were almost too small for him and his plump butt was nicely outlined, with a slight, enticing swing as he walked. His black loafers looked a little scuffed under the flared cuffs of his slacks, but even that seemed to add to his attraction. He was almost painfully cute.
I needed to keep this conversation alive, as it seemed Jeff wasn't about to make the effort. I was considering asking why he didn't like St. Stephen's when finally he spoke.
"Uh, do I what?"
He stopped in front of me and turned with a look of slight exasperation.
"St. Stephen's. Do you like it?"
I was a bit taken aback by his abrupt question.
"Well, its not exactly what I was expecting."
Jeff started walking again, this time with a bit more vigor, as if he were getting worked up.
"You thought it was going to be a paradise, didn't you? You thought you were going to go to a school full of smart, beautiful kids who would welcome you and everything was going to be a lot better than Franklin Park, where they beat you up everyday. Is that what you expected?"
I was stunned. I felt as if he had slapped me. How did he know?
I just stood there as he proceeded on. When, Jeff reached Twenty-first, he turned and looked at me, half a block behind.
"Welcome to St. Stephen's," he called and turned up the street toward his house.
Slowly, I began to walk on toward my house. When I reached the corner, I stopped. I looked up the street toward Jeff's house. All I saw was a row of two story Colonials built in the fifties, and no Jeff. I turned toward the northwest corner and my house. My little sister, six years younger than me, was sitting in the grass with two of her friends. She made one of her usual bratty comments designed to get me to respond angrily so she could tattle to Mother. I ignored her and trudged into the house.
Mother was in the kitchen standing behind the ironing board. Apparently, she hadn't taken her medication. She looked up at me with an irritated expression.
"How was your first day?" she asked, sounding as if she were trying not be a bitch.
"It was great," I said with sudden enthusiasm. "Everyone was really nice to me and I think I'm going to fit in just fine!"
She grunted as she ironed a pair of my stepfather's slacks.
"Well, it's about time. Just don't mess this up. Go call your grandmother and tell her.
My heart sank at the prospect of describing my day to my grandmother. She was like the grand inquisitor and could get anything out of anyone.
The call had gone less than thirty seconds before the lecture started.
"Now, listen, Scott. You are an intelligent boy and it doesn't matter if some boys mock you. That is just part of life. You know you're smart and you know that you earned your way into that school. So, you work as hard as you possibly can and get everything you can out of this experience. Don't get so down in the dumps, like you always do."
Feeling oh so much better about life, I left the kitchen, went to the utility room in the back and climbed the stairs to the makeshift bedroom my stepfather had created for me in the attic. I was so grateful that he had decided it wasn't healthy for a non-athletic, intellectual boy to room with a younger brother. Mikey got to keep his room downstairs and I gladly took the west end of the attic. I turned on the small air conditioner beside my bed, stripped out of my clothes and lay naked, hot, and sweaty on my bed.
The welcome by my mother was not as painful as I had expected. Her mood swing was not so bad today. But, every time I spoke with my grandmother, I felt, somehow, that I had let her down, that somehow, I was a disappointment to her. Today's conversation had been no different and now, as I lay on my bed and the full impact of the day hit me, the shattered dream, the realization of my solitude, the seeming rejection of the cutest boy I had ever seen, the knowledge that I was a pervert, a gay pervert, and nobody loved me, this all overwhelmed me and I cried.
At some point in my cry, I had opened the night stand beside my bed and removed my Boy Scout knife. I was laying on my right side, holding the knife open in my right hand. Slowly, I moved the tip of the blade across my left wrist, pressing down into the flesh and across the various veins and arteries, feeling the pain and knowing that with just a few ounces more of pressure, I could end my nightmare. It wouldn't take much and it would all be over. And, then, I went to sleep.
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