The following contains mild descriptions of sexual acts between young people. It is an original work of fiction and has no basis in reality.
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The author retains Copyright © 2004 to this story. Reproducing this story for distribution without the author’s permission is a violation of that copyright.
Getting out of bed the next morning was a painful experience. Every joint in my body ached, but it was worst in my arms, chest and gut. I forced myself to do some stretches and even a few toe touches before taking a long, hot shower--my fourth in the last twenty-four hours.
Despite our unexpected and highly emotional encounter last night, I felt incredibly self-conscious in class all morning, knowing that Morgan had seen my private parts in such intimate detail, front and back. It was such a different feeling than I had about Jesse, who had also seen, felt, and tasted just about every part of my body. But Jesse was special beyond anyone I had ever met before. It was an honor to have him suck my dick. He was beautiful, warm, talented, funny, and...okay, I couldn’t say he was perfect, because he had lived a rough life and had made some poor choices, but he was perfect for me, that much had become as crystal clear as his beautiful sky blue eyes over the past several months. But this whole thing with Morgan felt so wrong. After a ferocious internal battle, he now seemed content to label himself as bisexual. He wanted me to accept the feelings he had, and I had committed myself to helping him in any way I could. But I took no comfort in any of it.
At lunch, Jessica kept stealing concerned glances at me from her table, apparently able to read the distress on my face despite my best efforts to mask it. I eyed with a certain amount of envy, the table where Tom sat with Derek, Reggie, and a couple of other seventh graders, just laughing with their mouths full, playfully nudging each other, their facial expressions changing by the second as the conversation jumped from one topic to the next with barely a breath in between. The scene at our table was markedly less congenial, not just because of me, but with Jesse and Morgan both looking glum and guilty. Only Gene munched contentedly on his sandwich, blissfully ignorant of yesterday’s wild events.
“What’s with all the long faces?” he asked.
“I didn’t sleep too well last night,” Jesse admitted.
“Yeah, same here,” Morgan concurred.
“Worried about the game tomorrow?” Gene asked, taking both boys’ comments at face value.
“I always worry. That’s my job,” Morgan informed him humorlessly. “Um, Jess, can we ah...talk for a minute?” he asked, as he popped the last of his sandwich in his mouth.
Jesse looked at me uncertainly, so I decided to stick my nose in. “You guys go ahead. I never get any one on one with Gene anymore.”
Morgan got up immediately, but Jesse lingered.
“Go on--if Deanna attacks, Gene’ll protect me,” I assured him with a playful wink.
“You bet,” Gene replied with only a slight grin.
Jesse relucantly got up and followed Morgan toward the wooded edge of the campus.
“Do you know what’s buggin’ ’em?” Gene asked curiously.
“Morgan’s been acting kinda weird lately,” Gene noted. “I mean, ever since I heard about his big blow up, he seems...different somehow.”
“He was really embarrassed about that,” I explained.
“I’ll bet. But there’s something else. It’s like he’s always on pins ’n’ needles or somethin’.” Gene casually tossed his empty lunch bag in a nearby trash bin. “And sometimes, there’s somethin’ about the way he looks at you.”
I had a sudden sinking feeling and was beginning to regret letting Jesse go.
“I mean, sometimes, it almost looks like he’s scared of you.”
“Get outta here!” I laughed.
“Okay, maybe not scared. But...worried, maybe? I mean, I don’t know.”
“Nah, it’s nothing like that,” I assured him. “I mean, Morgan and me are tight. I think sometimes he feels...you know, responsible for me or something.”
“Yeah, I get that,” Gene said. “I’ve been kinda worried about you too, since that rummage sale business. It’s not like you’re a weak little geekling or anything, it’s just that...I dunno, you’re too nice sometimes, and I do worry about you getting hurt or somethin’. And now it turns out Deanna’s Goreski’s cousin, and she’s all over your ass too. I mean, shit, it ain’t really anything to joke about.”
“It just seems like some people don’t know how to do anything but be bullies.”
Gene nodded in agreement. “Yeah. I guess I’ve been pretty lucky on that account, being a big guy and all. And when I was younger, there was always Georgie.”
My face lit up. “Yeah, I’ve been wanting to ask you about George. How is he?”
“He’s doin’ great,” Gene assured me with a gentle smile. “Just great. He’s having a bitchin’ season on the JV at Miami U. He’s in the starting line up. He’s got friends. No one’s hassling him.”
“Did they used to hassle him?” I asked.
Gene’s smile dimmed a little. “Well, you know, it ain’t easy being...being what he is,” he said in a quieter voice, glancing cautiously around the lunch area. “I mean, high school can be rough for anybody, no matter who you are or how big.”
“So there were guys who picked on George cuz he’s...like that?”
“Well, sure, there were some problems,” Gene admitted uneasily. “I don’t know everything that went on with him comin’ out and all. It’s not like Georgie made a school-wide announcement or anything. The main thing was they--he and his uh...friend--wanted to tell their parents what was going on, so they could have a little more freedom, ya know? I mean, not having to sneak around and stuff. But I guess word did sorta get out at H.T., rumors at least, and both of ’em had to deal with some shit. That might’ve had somethin’ to do with their breaking up.”
Gene shrugged. “It’s always hard when you’re different. But look at you, dude. You’re a perfectly normal, mind your own business kinda guy, and look at the shit you have to deal with.”
“Well, yeah, I guess.” Actually, I was more concerned for Gary than for myself. He was the one in the line of fire so to speak, having to go to school everyday with that bunch of creeps. I did have Deanna to contend with, but somehow, I didn’t feel all that threatened by her. Maybe it was because she was a girl, or maybe it was because Jesse had so effortlessly put her in her place the other day, and thankfully, it had been in front of Gene, Morgan, and Tom as well. Chances were that she didn’t have any real support around here, except maybe for Dana, who despite her sometimes eccentric fashion choices, didn’t seem like the violent type.
“Is there somethin’ else, Per?” Gene asked.
“What do you mean?”
“It’s just that, you seem really concerned with Georgie, and that’s cool. He really liked you--likes you. Always asks about you. But I mean, he ain’t here and you’re not...like that, so I’m just wonderin’, I guess.”
“Well, that’s all it is,” I said. “I mean, he really saved my ass that day at the mall, and he just...I dunno...made an impression on me.”
Gene nodded uncertainly. “Per, you don’t uh...know someone...someone around here, that’s...like that?” he asked with measured concern.
“No!” I answered way too quickly. “I mean, gees, it’s nothin’ like that. I mean, dude, what’re you thinking?” I chided him, stumbling over my words even as I tried to mask my shock with an awkward laugh.
Gene shrugged, but didn’t look fully convinced by my denial. He scrutinized me a bit longer and I had to turn my eyes down to the table so he couldn’t get a clear reading.
“I mean, if you did know someone like that,” Gene went on, choosing his words carefully, “I can understand you not wanting to blab it around. It’s just that, well, I’ve had some experience, ya know? So if you ever need to talk, or this oth--”
“Gene!” I said loudly. “Stop. You-you’re drawing the wrong conclusion, okay?”
He nodded slowly. “Sure, Per. I guess, having a brother who’s like that, it just makes me more aware, ya know?”
“I guess. But this’s a small school. What are the chances that anyone we know is like...like that?”
“Well, they say that about ten percent of the total population is like...well, not straight, and that it could be even higher than that. So, if you take that figure and just apply it here, there could be like two or three right in our own class.”
“Well, Morgan thinks that Deanna--”
“Yeah, I know. And he may be right. Or it may be just what we were saying before, that she’s a bully. But even if she is....”
“There could be more,” I finished uneasily.
“It sure seems possible. Of course, at our age, I don’t think everyone even knows exactly what team they’re playing on yet!” he laughed.
“Yeah, people can get confused, huh?” I asked. “Kids, I mean.”
“Yeah, they can,” Gene said in a pointed way. But I was scared to press him because I think I was beginning to get the picture. “I mean, I know I’m straight,” he pointed out confidently.
I smiled, seizing the opportunity to steer the conversation away from Morgan. “Does that mean you have a girlfriend?”
He shrugged and then nodded awkwardly, managing a healthy blush on his big round face.
“Who is it?” I asked, not recalling ever seeing Gene interact with any of the girls in our class.
“Aw, just some chick, some gal from my neighborhood. I mean, we sorta grew up together, ya know? She’s pretty good with a football, but man, she’s queen of the fuckin’ volleyball court!”
That figured that the kind of girl that would draw Gene’s attention would be athletically inclined.
“Cool! When do I get to meet her?
“Gees, Per. I didn’t even mean to mention her. I mean, we’re just pals at this point, but....” He let his voice trail off modestly.
“Okay, but sometime, we should--”
“Hey, you guys wanna shoot hoops til the bell rings?” Morgan asked, looking slightly better than he had ten minutes ago. Jesse was right behind him, still looking uneasy.
“Absotutely!” I said, getting quickly to my feet. I was about to announce that Gene had a girlfriend, but I realized that would be childish, and that for whatever reason, he didn’t seem real comfortable talking about her or their relationship.
That afternoon, we had our last practice before the game. Morgan seemed determined to squeeze every last ounce of performance out of the guys, drilling us over and over again, going over plans and counterplans, strategies and counter-strategies, and Coach Riegert seemed very pleased with it all. And why not? For a school as small as St. Boniface to have taken the top slot in the regional league, would give him bragging rights for years to come.
By five o’clock, we were dead on our feet, but it seemed that Morgan, despite being soaked to the skin with perspiration and red-faced, could go on for another six hours straight. After yesterday’s unexpected exertions, I was ready to curl up in a ball and die right there on the court. Some of the parents and older siblings, including Morgan’s sister, Ally, had already gathered around the court, glancing impatiently at their watches.
Finally the coach blew his whistle, but Morgan insisted on one last huddle. He told us that we absolutely had to win tomorrow’s game against St. Joe’s for the honor of the school. We had to get vengeance for St. Joe’s victory over our football team last week and he warned us that he would hold each and every one of us personally accountable, if anything went wrong. That was unnerving, and we all exchanged uneasy glances. It was the first time I could recall Morgan actually threatening us to perform. Again, Coach Riegert seemed in complete agreement with his team captain, and had little to add to Morgan’s dire ultimatum.
As we were dispersing, I heard Artim snort. “What’s he gonna do if we fuck up, come to our houses and strangle us in our sleep?” he joked to Eric.
Morgan was on him in a flash, grabbing him by the arm and glaring at him. “You got a problem?” he asked through gritted teeth.
Artim was shocked by Morgan’s violent reproach, and quickly shook his head. Morgan saw that I was also watching, and just gave me a quick, unreadable glance, before storming off to pick up the equiptment. When Artim was sure that Morgan wasn’t looking, he spun his finger around in front of his ear, the universal sign for: that dude’s plum loco!
I had the sinking feeling that everything we had gone through yesterday had been for nothing. I had allowed Morgan to dominate and humiliate me for his own sexual pleasure, hoping that he would somehow be able to purge all that craziness from his mind. But his visit last night suggested that this wasn’t a condition that was going to disappear overnight just because we wished it so.
After a long shower and a light dinner, I launched my IM.
bbplayer125: can you tell me what u and morgan talked about at lunch?
Jerrinheimer: he was concerned about your well-being.
bbplayer125: that’s all?
Jerrinheimer: it seems that he had a bad dream last night.
bbplayer125: no shit!
Jerrinheimer: of course he feels guilty for what happened yesterday. and to make things worse, he was very sexually aroused by the whole business as well.
bbplayer125: what about you?
Jerrinheimer: i love you and i let you down, so of course i couldn’t sleep.
bbplayer125: i’m sorry.
Jerrinheimer: you’re sorry that i couldn’t sleep because i watched you get stripped and humiliated and didn’t do anything to stop it?
bbplayer125: did morgan say what his dream was about?
Jerrinheimer: just what you’d expect. reliving the things that happened in mr. kipner’s office. you getting hurt. him getting carried away, losing control. feelings of shame and frustration.
bbplayer125: in other words, we’re right back to square 1.
Jerrinheimer: no. morgan’s convinced that he’s bisexual now, and that’s some kind of relief to him. i think now, he’s trying to get over the shock of how abusive he was to u and how he’s gonna make it up to u. if he even can.
bbplayer125: i think maybe it has something to do with his dad.
Jerrinheimer: could be. he’s never really talked about his relationship with his dad.
bbplayer125: i think maybe mr. kipner is...you know, like rough with morgan and derek.
Jerrinheimer: it’s better to stay out of that.
bbplayer125: even if their dad is hurting them?
Jerrinheimer: you can’t solve everybody’s problems.
bbplayer125: not everybody’s. just the people who are important. our friends.
Jerrinheimer: everybody’s your friend.
bbplayer125: lol i wish! i hardly have any friends, but i don’t want to lose the ones i have, ya know?
Jerrinheimer: of course.
bbplayer125: while you were talking with morgan, gene and i were talking.
Jerrinheimer: about what?
Jerrinheimer: oh, that’s enlightening.
bbplayer125: i mean, he talked a little about his girlfriend.
Jerrinheimer: really? kewl. i didn’t know he had one.
bbplayer125: he seems really shy about it.
Jerrinheimer: understandable. gene doesn’t seem like the kind to kiss and tell.
bbplayer125: i’d kiss and tell if i could.
Jerrinheimer: and then we’d never see each other again.
bbplayer125: i hate all this stupidness about being gay or straight or whatever.
Jerrinheimer: i used to think the same thing until i met you.
bbplayer125: yeah, what we have is great. but the thing is, gene was asking a lot of questions about why morgan’s been acting so weird.
bbplayer125: and i think gene thinks that morgan might be gay.
bbplayer125: yeah, i was pretty shocked too, but i tried not to show it. you know, gene’s brother is gay, so that makes him more on the lookout for that sort of thing.
Jerrinheimer: does he suspect me too?
bbplayer125: no, of course not. you’re really good at playing a straight guy.
Jerrinheimer: thanks...i guess.
bbplayer125: it’s just that, what if gene talks to morgan about that stuff?
Jerrinheimer: well, that’s between morgan and gene then. we can’t do anything about that.
bbplayer125: i know but, it’s just that I want to see morgan be happy and
Jerrinheimer: there is NO such thing as normal. there’s just people.
bbplayer125: But some of those people are our friends.
Jerrinheimer: THAT’S the problem!
“Perry, could you be a dear and stop by the office when you have a chance?” my mom asked as we drove to school.
“Mrs. Scott has a recipe for Butterscotch Gingerbread Men that sounds just wonderful. I’d love to make them for the party Friday night.”
“Gees, mom. Why doesn’t she just email it to you?”
“Well, for one thing, it’s in a book and I didn’t want her to have to write out the whole thing.”
“Why can’t she just scan it and email it?”
My mom glanced at me with mild annoyance. “She said there are some wonderful photos--and I don’t even know if she has a scanner.”
“Maybe they have a website and you could just check out the pics there.”
“And she said that I might also see something else in the book I might like to bake. Good enough?” she asked with just a pinch of impatient sarcasm.
“Sure, mom. Get the recipe book from Mrs. Scott--got it!” I assured her with a massive wink.
English was the last class before lunch, and with the rumor of a school-wide pep rally tomorrow, it was likely that this would be the last substantial session we would have with Mrs. Rutherford before the Christmas break. It was clear as we all filed in past her desk that the large stack of stapled papers on her desk were the short stories we had submitted on Monday. I could see various markings and notations made with a thin red marker on the top paper even though it was turned print side down. Apparently, she had already gone through the whole pile and was ready to return them and show us our grade for this important project.
I felt nervous and self-conscious as she slowly moved along the rows, putting papers on each student’s desk, face down. I noticed she smiled sweetly at Jessica and gave Dana a very strange look as she returned their work. “Very nice, Mr. Espinoza,” she said, and Tom gave her a rather uncomfortable smile in return. Finally, she reached Jesse and me at the back of the room. She handed me my story face up and gave me a very warm smile. She was a beautiful woman, petite with smooth, olive-brown skin, large green eyes, and a prominent nose. I think her family was orginally from New Delhi, but she herself had been born here and had no sign of the thick and distinctive accent of our neighbors, the Chandigars. She often wore her long, jet black hair loose, with just a couple of clips to keep it in place. Today, she was wearing a jasmine perfume that reminded me of the emotional afternoon Jesse and I had spent in my backyard opening our hearts to each other for the first time.
After handing me my paper--I got an ‘A–’ (not too original but thoughtfully done)--she leaned in and whispered in Jesse’s ear. I watched as he resolutely shook his golden blond head, but Mrs. Rutherford patiently smiled a smile of straight white teeth that contrasted boldly with her olive-brown skin. She whispered again in his ear and finally, after giving it some more thought, shrugged his shoulders.
“Thank you, Jesse,” she said out loud. Then she strode quickly to the front of the room, the low heels of her hard soled shoes clacking authoritatively as she walked.
“I must say that overall, I was very impressed with the quality of work in this class,” she said with a sincere smile. “I am glad to see that unbridled imagination and passion are still alive in the younger generation. Of course, there were some unfortunate but unsurprising exceptions.” She glared pointedly at Artim and Manny. Artim gave that dumb, ‘who, me?’ smirk that he had perfected during a year and a half in the eighth grade. “And there were those that were extremely abstract and yet remarkably evocative.” She glanced approvingly at Dana, who showed no outward sign of acknowledgement to the teacher’s compliment. “And then there was Kyle,” she said, accusing the smug jock right in front of the whole class, “whose printer apparently ran out of ink before he could complete his exciting story of the high school quarterback who was drafted into the NFL and was apparently on the verge of winning the Super Bowl single-handedly.” She finally had to smile, realizing the absurdity of the situation, and Kyle held his arms above his head making the referee’s signal for a touchdown. Eric, Artim, and some of the other boys snickered approvingly at Kyle’s silliness.
“And there was one in particular,” she said, still grasping one student’s work in her hand, “that was so moving, so eloquently written, that it actually moved me to tears.” Manny and Artim started the snickering on this one, which spread through most of the boys and even to Deanna and Dana. But she ignored the uncomfortable laughter in the room, realizing that a teenager’s natural instinct was to mock anyone who showed, or even discussed, genuine emotion in public. “And I would like, with the author’s permission, to read this out loud. I have every intention of submitting this into the archdisocese literary competition later this semester.”
And with that announcement, she began to read the story. It took about twenty minutes because she spoke slowly, sometimes pausing dramatically, adding excitment, tension, or wonderment to her voice in all the right places, and ending with the room absolutely quiet--a rare occurence indeed.
“Thank you, Jesse,” she finally concluded, emotion thickening her voice as she walked to the back of the room and handed the seemingly unremarkable pile of stapled paper to my beautiful angel.
It was really astonishing how effective the story had been, simple, direct, almost naive in some ways, but intentionally so, with a shocking and heart-rending plot twist and a hushed, but magically poignant ending. I realized I was overcome with emotion, and wished I had my old mop of shaggy brown hair to help cover my features. As it was, I had to pretend that I was rubbing my tired eyes to wipe away the small pools of moisture that had collected there. I glanced cautiously around the room and noticed some of the girls: Katy, Soon-Ji, Regina--actually had tears running down there cheeks and several others were clearly on the verge.
The boys of course, were much more careful to mask their response, but I could see that Tom, Morgan and Gene were clearly moved. Surprisingly, it was Artim who suddenly announced, “Kick-ass story, Taylor--you rock, dude!” Of course he got a detention for saying ‘kick-ass’ but it was a nice sentiment nevertheless. The other boys quickly joined in until the room was filled with a cacophony of whoops and whistles. Kyle, who sat directly to Jesse’s left, offered a raised palm, looking for some skin, but my blond friend was just staring down at the front of his desk.
“I’m very grateful that you decided to show us what you can really do, Jesse,” Mrs. Rutherford said with a warm smile. “I sensed that you were a specially gifted boy the moment you walked into my class. You were quiet, but I could see the intelligence and depth of feeling in your lovely eyes. I’ve already shared this with several faculty members; you make me very proud to be a teacher--your teacher.”
I decided it was time to show Jesse a little more respect than just whooping and high fiving, so I began applauding. Tom quickly picked it up, and then Morgan and Gene, and then the whole class. When Mrs. Rutherford finally calmed us all down, all eyes were on the handsome blond youth from Evanston. Of course, I could only see the back of his head from my point of view and decided that some time later in the day, I would show him in a much more personal way just how much I appreciated his talent and depth of feeling--maybe with my tongue!
“May I be excused?” Jesse asked in a timid, quivering voice. He didn’t sound quite like himself and I could only guess that all the attention had been more than he could take. For some reason, Jesse hated being in the limelight. “I need to...uh....”
“Of course, Jesse,” Mrs. Rutherford concurred. She quickly scribbled him a pass and I noticed, as Jesse walked to the front of the room and then headed for the door, that his cheeks were beet red. He hung his head as if he was ashamed of himself as he made a quick exit. My first impulse was to follow him, but I knew that would look more than a little suspicious, and maybe Jesse really did just need a few minutes to pull himself together.
Mrs. Rutherford started writing page numbers on the board, and the whole class groaned in unison as she announced the assignments she expected us to finish over the Christmas break. I would have to remember to pack my textbook for NYC.
I had to make a pit stop before heading to my locker to dump my morning books and get my lunch, so when I finally did arrive, I was surprised to see a cluster of girls gathered around our lockers. I couldn’t even tell, until I got right up close, that Jesse was actually in the middle of all this. They were all cooing about how wonderful his story had been, and how did he ever come up with such an unusual idea, and was it based on a true story, and how long did it take him to write that, and could they see anything else he had written? I smiled to myself: Yeah, girls, check this one out. It’s called “Mall Encounter,” heh-heh....
Finally it was Katy who began shooing the others away. She gave me a sweet smile and then gave Jesse a peck on the cheek before strolling off, looking fresh and pretty as always. I felt a twinge of guilt, knowing that I had inadvertantly come between her and Morgan. She deserved better, or at least, she deserved Morgan’s full and undivided attention. I hoped that they’d have a chance to spend some time together while I was gone. It would be truly wonderful if when I got home, Morgan was once again the perfectly straight, confident, gracious, driven athlete I knew he really was deep down inside.
Jesse was still standing there, not looking at me. “Hey, let’s go--they won’t hold our table forever!” I joked, as I pulled out my bag lunch.
“Perry...” he whispered so softly I could barely hear him over the distant lunch-time chatter. He was facing his locker with his head bowed in that way that let his long blond locks dangle in front of his face.
“You okay?” I asked. “You didn’t sound so good when you left class.”
“I cheated,” he stated quietly.
“What? Cheated? On what?” I asked confusedly, recalling that there hadn’t been any tests or quizzes this morning.
“That story...I never imagined Mrs. Rutherford would make such a big fuckin’ deal out of it.”
“Hey, that’s okay!” I said cheerfully. “You know you’re a great writer. What’s so bad about a teacher actually recognizing that fact?”
“No, Perry,” he said dismally. “It wasn’t my story.”
He was still facing his locker, and I missed seeing his beautiful blue eyes. “You mean, you copied it from somewhere?” I asked disbelievingly.
He nodded, and then hesitated, and then shrugged. Finally, he looked up at me. His eyes were wet but it didn’t look like he had actually been crying. “It was Bobby’s....”
“Bobby’s?” I repeated dumbly.
“Bobby Cohen...It was one of the stories I read at his house.”
I felt my heart sink, not only at the revelation that the powerful story Jesse had submitted wasn’t his own, but the memory of that frail boy, forever frozen in time as a seventh grader, locked away in some dim, forgotten room with tubes and monitors, in that limbo between life and death.
“You mean...you copied it...word for word?”
Jesse shrugged. “Well, not exactly. I mean, his was more like a poem--like verses. I turned it into prose of course, and kinda had to make it more like, eighth grade sounding.” Actually, the writing had seemed much more mature than the average eighth grader could produce. There was a long pause, as his eyes again dropped to the floor. “The ending was mine though.”
“You mean the little kid didn’t--”
“That part’s the same,” Jesse assured me. “But the last scene...that was mine. The angel was supposed to look like you--in about four years.” He finally managed a slight smile.
“But in the story, the angel had brown eyes.”
“Well, I didn’t want it to be too suspicious...Good thing I didn’t give him hazel eyes, considering that Mrs. Rutherford decided to read it to the whole class!”
I nodded in agreement. “So you feel bad that you’re getting credit for someone else’s story?”
“Of course,” he answered humbly. “But I honestly only meant it to be a...a tribute to him, ya know?”
“Yeah, that was a good idea.”
Jesse shrugged. “Yeah, great idea,” he mumbled sarcastically.
“And you did change some things, and the writing style was your own. I know that for sure,” I added.
“Yeah...I guess it wasn’t an exact rip off. It’s just that, I know where it came from, and it didn’t come from me.”
“And now Mrs. Rutherford is going to send it out for that contest.”
Jesse sighed. “Yeah, I suppose I should tell her what the deal is before the shit hits the fan.”
“I bet she’ll still want to submit it,” I conjectured. “You don’t give yourself enough credit. You don’t write like a kid. I told you that before. It’s an amazing gift you have--like Tom’s drawing.”
“I guess if I could add a dedication to Bobby,” Jesse mused out loud.
“That’s a great idea. You could tell a little about him.”
“Except for the gay stuff,” Jesse added quickly.
“Yeah, except for that...but maybe about how he’d been in an accident and went into a coma and stuff.”
“Oh...Perry...I did an awful thing!” He was clearly on the verge of a huge emotional display and I realized this wasn’t just about the story anymore.
I stood a little closer, hoping to block any curious eyes from seeing his distress. “Hey, I got a great idea!” I offered quickly. “Why don’t we take our lunches up the hill? You know, to our secret place.”
Jesse sniffled and dabbed the moisture from his eyes. “I...I dunno,” he said, his voice still trembling with barely contained emotion.
I wanted to hold him in my arms, but I knew I couldn’t do that here.
“I brought something special for lunch,” I offered instead.
I nodded and licked my lips. “A tongue sandwich!”
Well, there had been some frenching, and some impassioned hugging, but it had really been a quiet time for us up in our secret place, a chance for Jesse to get his emotions under control. He felt awfully guilty and I didn’t want to take advantage of his weakened state. Shortly before the end of the period, we ended up seeking out Mrs. Rutherford and telling her everything, only leaving out the parts that would suggest that Jesse and Bobby were gay. But she was still enthusiastic to submit the story to the contest and for possible inclusion in an annually published book of Catholic Youth literature (even though Jesse had pointed out that he was pretty sure Bobby was Jewish). She and Jesse agreed that he would write a brief paragraph about Bobby, and explain where he had gotten the idea for the story. I was pleased that Mrs. Rutherford could tell as clearly as I could that the writing style was all Jesse.
After school, he came by and patted me warmly on the shoulder before heading for the bus stop. I felt a bit of a warm glow, grateful that I had been there to support him today during an emotional and awkward situation. And we’d gotten a little kissy face time in to boot! I was determined that somehow tomorrow night, at the Bainbridge’s, we’d find a chance to sneak off together for at least a little bit of alone time. It was a big house, and it shouldn’t be that hard to find some nook or cranny hidden from public scrutiny. I was still dreading spending all afternoon at the Bainbridge’s, and not looking forward to the lavish, formal party that would take up the whole evening.
And then something tickled my brain instead of my dick for a change. What else was there about Jessica’s party that I was supposed to remember?
Shit! The recipe book! My mom would be pulling up any minute so I dashed back to the office, barely glancing at Tom’s souped-up portrait of a clueless kid named Perry J. Thompson still boldly displayed on a large easel in front of the counter. Mr. Cardoza was there, talking to a little boy who looked moderately upset about something. Mrs. Scott was nowhere to be seen.
“Um...Mr. Cardoza, have you seen Mrs. Scott?”
“Hello, Perry,” he smiled pleasantly from under his bushy mustache. “Mrs. Scott? She may have gone to the supply room for a moment. You can wait--”
“I...uh...really don’t have much time. She has something for my mom.”
“I see. Well, she might be back in the supply room,” he suggested. “You can go ahead and look, if you like.”
“Thanks, sir!” I said, before letting myself in by the half door at the end of the counter. I’d only been in the supply room once before. That had been last year when I’d helped Sister Mary Luellen carry some art supplies back to her room. I passed quickly through the small and empty teacher’s lounge, flashing on my strange dream within a dream over the weekend. As absurd as it seemed, that dream actually felt more real to me now than the weirdly erotic one I had about Derek Kipner. And if nothing else, my fantastical meeting with my older self had resulted in me getting an ‘A–’ on my English assignment. Maybe that was why we were meant to meet like that! There were definitely some things about that dream that bothered me though, something about Jesse, but that wasn’t surprising since I always felt that I wasn’t really deserving of the love of such a beautiful and profound human being. Not surprising that my insecurities would manifest themselves in my dreams.
The door to the supply room was closed, which indicated that it wasn’t very likely Mrs. Scott or anyone else would be inside, but I was in a hurry, so I decided to check anyway. The light was off but there was some dispersed illumination coming through a set of thin, frosted windows near the ceiling. I thought I heard a gasp, and then definitely heard someone moving around.
“Damn!” Kyle’s head suddenly popped up from behind the battered, wooden work table. He had a sort of wild, unfocused look in his eyes and his light brown hair was messed up and he seemed to be perspiring a lot more than the moderate temperature of the room would seem to justify. “Perry?” he asked in some sort of dazed bewliderment.
I didn’t know what to say or do. It wasn’t that shocking to see another kid in here--it wasn’t like this was a high security area or anything, but the way he looked.... That’s when it dawned on me that he wasn’t alone in here. I could hear someone else breathing heavily and moving around behind the same table.
“Hey...so Per, what’s up? Anything I can do for ya?” Kyle asked with a sheepish grin. My eyes had now adjusted enough to the diffused light to see that there was stuff around Kyle’s mouth.
“Lipstick?” I heard myself asking out loud.
“Oh...hehe....” Kyle laughed awkwardly as he began furiously wiping his mouth with his bare forearm. “Naw, it’s just...ah...one of those yogurt bars, ya know? Uh, strawberry flavored...or cherry...or...somethin’.”
Whatever was going on in here, I was beginning to suspect that it had nothing to do with handy, take-along snacks. He zipped up his fly and began fumbling with his belt.
“Oh!” I said in the most stupid way imaginable.
“Hey, Per...It’s ah...not what you think,” Kyle stammered as he finished buckling his belt. Only then did he realize that his polo shirt was untucked, so he quickly undid his belt again and began furiously stuffing shirt tails into his black Dockers.
“You...and...Melissa?” I said unintentionally out loud.
Kyle froze and stared at me like a department store mannequin. He looked down and then grinned at me. “Yeah, me and Melissa. That crazy bitch--Yeow!” he exclaimed as something hit his leg. “That girl, she just can’t keep her hands off me--ain’t that right?”
It didn’t surprise me that Melissa wouldn’t answer under such embarrassing circumstances nor did it surprise me that she was keeping a low profile. Still, it was none of my business after all.
“You guys haven’t seen...uh...Mrs. Scott, have you?” I asked quickly, empathetically feeling some of Kyle’s unease.
“Mrs...?” Kyle asked dumbly as he buckled his belt for the second time in less than a minute. “Nah...no Mrs. Scott in here...Right...uh...Melissa?”
Again, there was no response and I realized I had more than outstayed my welcome. “Okay then...I’ll just be going,” I explained as I started to back out.
“Hey, Per?!” Kyle called in a hoarse whisper.
“Could you like, close the door on your way out?”
“Um...sure...I’ll see you guys...I mean, like tomorrow...or-or whatever....” My hand trembled as I grasped the doorknob and carefully shut the door. I looked around nervously, but the teacher’s lounge was still thankfully empty. Damn! What the heck were those two horn dogs doing in the supply room? I mean, anyone could’ve walked in on them...Mrs. Scott, Mr. Cardoza...Sister Mary Luellen! Unbelievable. And to think of all the trouble Jesse and I went through, clambering up to our secret spot on the hillside, just to do a little frenching.
As I reentered the office, I was nearly scared shitless.
“Oh, there you are!” a loud voice proclaimed, and it was Mrs. Scott. “I was just going to come in and look for you. Mr. Cardoza said you were here looking for me!” she noted in a cheery fashion, totally oblivious to the youthful sexcapades that were going on only a few yards from where we were standing.
“Oh...uh...hi, Mrs. Scott. My...uh...mom--”
“Yes, the recipe book,” she said, pulling out a large tome from under the counter. She handed it to me and it must’ve weighed fifty pounds.
“Gee, thanks. My mom’ll really like to check this out,” I assured her.
“Oh, there’s so many wonderful recipes in there. Really, she should give me a call when she has a chance and I can point out a few of my favorites. I just love talking to your mother, Perry, really I do. She’s the sweetest person--just like you! And that’s just what you need around the holidays--sweetness. It just doesn’t seem like there’s enough of that going around these days, what with all the craziness going on in the world. Oh, it just makes my head spin, honestly! I mean, especially around the holidays. Personally, I just love the holidays--Christmas especially. Definitely my all-time favorite. Only problem is, I have a teensy tiny bit too much to eat,” she tittered, patting her plump stomach.
“Uh...yeah...same here,” I assured her, my head still reeling from my supply room encounter. “Gees, thanks though. I gotta run. My mom’ll be out there waiting for me!”
“Okay, Perry. You’re very sweet to come pick that up for her. Tell her I said so!”
“Um...sure, Mrs. Scott. Bye!” And I was never more glad to be out in the fresh, cool, December air. Something nagged at me though, as I got into the Lexus, proudly displaying the cookbook and showing my mommy how responsible I could be. It wasn’t until supper, when we were digging into the rotisserie chicken my mom had picked up on the way home that it occurred to me. As she wiped her mouth on a napkin, leaving a bright red smear, it dawned on me that the girls at St. Boniface were only allowed to wear a minimum amount of make-up, and definitely...no lipstick!
edited by blue.
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