Later that afternoon, the three of us
were playing basketball together in the driveway. It took about an hour
for Ryan and Toby to teach me how to dribble, with a fair amount of
bickering between the two as to what the best way to teach me was.
Eventually I got the hang of it, and we messed around for a while,
getting all hot and sweaty like teenage boys should do when they're not
at school. I wish I could say that I turned out to have a natural
talent for basketball, or that I had at least learned to hold my own
out there, but the sad truth is that I sucked. I don't think a
single one of my shots even came close to going in the net ... come to
think of it, I don't think a single one even came close to the
At first, I was scared of getting the reaction that I got in
P.E. class last year when I couldn't catch a baseball or football, or
got hit in the head with a tennis ball. The ribbing and teasing I
took from the other kids was merciless, and I thought I would just die
from embarrassment. But Ryan and Toby never made a single snide
remark, never teased me even one iota for my lack of coordination or
absolute athletic ineptitude. Rather, they patiently tried to help me,
and encouraged me when they thought I was getting the hang of it.
After we were thoroughly exhausted from playing basketball, we all went
in and took showers, then plopped down on Ryan's bed again to watch a
DVD. This afternoon's selection was Dead
Man Walking. It was quite moving, and toward the end, I had to
fight back a few tears. Unlike the day before, Toby maintained a
neutral distance from me, which was good for the time being, although I
admit that I kind of missed the closeness. I knew I would miss it even
more when I had to go home. I had felt so good all day. I was just one
of the guys, goofing off with them and
occasionally even joining in the joking banter between them.
Maggie came home from work at about five o'clock and busied herself
with preparing dinner. Ryan and I helped to set the table while Toby
was off doing his own thing. As Maggie began putting the food on the
table -- lasagna, a Caesar salad, steamed vegetables,
and garlic bread -- it came to me that the next day was Monday, which
would mean going back to school, and back to my old life. I felt as
though I'd slipped out of my "real" life for a few days into some kind
of paradise, a place where I was accepted, wasn't teased, wasn't
beaten, and was loved. It was a place I wanted to remain in forever,
but I knew that I couldn't.
Now that these depressing thoughts had
crept their way into my mind, I knew I couldn't hide what I was feeling
for much longer, so I thought it best that I get home sooner
rather than later. I was pretty sure they'd let me stay another night
with them, but even though I really wanted one more peaceful night's
sleep wrapped up in either Ryan or Toby's arms, I didn't want to
overstay my welcome, nor did I want my depressive mood to wear off on
everyone else. So, once again, I resigned myself to my fate.
"Ummm ... Dr. McCor ... I mean, Maggie ... I think I'd better get going
home in a little bit," I said as we were clearing away the dinner table.
"You know you're more than welcome to stay the night, hon," she said.
"The boys love having you here, and Ryan could drive you all to school
in the morning. If you're worried about clothes, Toby has
plenty that you could borrow."
"You might even be able to find some underwear without yellow stains on
the front," she added, with a wry grin.
As tempting as the offer was, I knew that I couldn't. The sooner I
left, the easier it would be to accept, I figured.
"Thanks, ma'am, but my mom is gonna be wondering where I am, and I have
school stuff at home and all that I need to pick up."
"Okay, then. But I want you to know that you're always welcome here.
Don't make yourself a stranger, you hear?"
"Yes, ma'am." I definitely wanted to spend more time over here, but at
the same time, I was afraid the more time I spent with them, the more
they would learn about me. I didn't want them to have to experience
my world, even if it was just experiencing it second-hand through me
and dealing with my emotional turmoil.
"It looks like we're all finished up in here, so why don't you go and
watch TV with the boys for a little while, and then Ryan can take you
I nodded in agreement and walked into the living room where Ryan and
Toby were watching a football game. Ryan must have noticed the sullen
look on my face, and patted the place next to him on the sofa. I
glanced over at Toby, who was sitting in
one of the recliners, totally engrossed in the game. So, I walked over
and plopped down on the sofa next to Ryan.
"How ya doin' there, bud?" he asked.
"I'm fine. I've had a really great time this weekend, but I'm gonna
need to go home in a little bit. Do you think you could give me a ride?"
His expression sort of dropped, and I could tell that he was
disappointed. Part of me just wanted to hug him, but another, darker
part of me wanted to tell him that maybe being friends with me would
just bring a lot more disappointment and hurt to his life. I came with
a lot of baggage, and I didn't want that to affect him. In my mind,
their perfect little family was like a pristine section of rainforest,
untouched by the horrors of the outside world.
They had a loving home,
a wonderful mother, and everything they wanted, not to mention their
amazingly caring and compassionate dispositions. I didn't want to
pollute that with my pain, suffering, and overwhelming insecurities.
Nevertheless, my own selfishness prevented me from telling him that. I
desperately wanted to keep them all in my life, and I didn't want to
let go. But I knew, for now, I needed to get back to my old life before
I became too accustomed to this paradise.
"Are you really sure you have to go?" he asked.
He really did look sad now, and I started to feel guilty.
DAMN!!! Why did this have to be so
hard?!?! Ryan, can't you just see that I'm not good enough for
you? I thought to myself.
"Yeah, I'm sorry. But I need to get ready for school tomorrow, and I'm
getting a little homesick too, I guess."
HA! What a lie! And a lie that
I felt guilty about to no end.
"Okay, I understand. As soon as the game is over I'll drive you home,
"Sure, Ryan. Thanks." I managed a small smile for him.
For the next couple of hours we sat there in near silence, except for
Toby's whoops and cheers when his team scored, and his curses and boos
when the other team got the upper hand. I thought his reactions were
really cute. By this point, after everything that had happened, I'd
pretty much figured he was probably gay. When we were together,
there was so much feeling, so much passion in his embraces. But seeing
him sitting there like that, enjoying a football game, as well as
watching how competitive he was playing basketball earlier, was a stark
contrast to what I had imagined gay people were like. Like everyone
else, I suppose I held the same stereotypes in my mind of effeminate
guys who liked to talk about clothes, go shopping, and discuss interior
decorating and styling hair. I definitely had some more thinking to do,
especially since I had realized that I had feelings for Toby ...
and also for Ryan, feelings that may even go beyond friendship. Thinking ... definitely lots and
lots of thinking to do.
As Ryan got up to get his jacket and his car keys, I realized that it
was time to go. I went upstairs to get my backpack, and when I came
back downstairs to the foyer, Maggie and Toby were both there with us
to say goodbye. I got long hugs from both of them.
When Toby hugged me, he whispered into my ear, "Thanks for everything,
Connor. I'm really glad I met you. I'll look for you in school
I didn't say anything in reply, just squeezed him tighter and gave him
a soft, quick kiss on his neck.
Maggie reminded me that I was always welcome to come over anytime I
wanted, and that I could talk to her if I was having any problems. The
look she gave me let me know that she was serious. Part of me just
wanted to cry in her arms and tell her everything and let her make it
all better, but I knew she couldn't do that. So I just nodded and
headed out the door, with Ryan a few steps in front of
As we drove off, the fear of going back home grew stronger and
stronger. Just that morning I was so happy, and now I
was miserable. It was like I'd been given a slice of heaven, a little
piece of the
life I'd always wished I'd had, and now it was being taken
away from me. Sure, I'd be able to see Ryan, Toby, and Maggie again,
and I was hopeful that my relationship with them could grow. But I knew
that I'd also have to continue to go through hell at home, and
eventually, I was afraid, I would bring that suffering
into their lives as well, and then they wouldn't want me around
anymore. I was sure of that. I just had to enjoy the few moments of
happiness while I could.
The car ride was mostly quiet, except for me giving a few brief
directions to Ryan on how to get to the trailer park where I lived. I
would have been embarrassed, but he already knew that I was poor, and
there was nothing I could do about it ... and I knew he didn't care at
all. That's what made him even more special to me. When we pulled up in
front of my trailer, I noticed that my mom's car was there and there
was a dim light on inside.
"Well, here we are," Ryan said, breaking the silence.
"Yeah," I sighed. I just stared blankly in front of me, not anxious to
get out of the car and walk inside. I could just hope my mom was passed
out drunk so I wouldn't have to deal with her.
"You know, Connor," Ryan said, turning to look at me, "you can come
over anytime you want. We all really like you ... especially me. This
may sound kinda sadistic, but a part of me is really glad I hit you
with that ball on Friday, otherwise I wouldn't have gotten to meet you."
The look on his face was so sincere as he said this, and his deep green
eyes looked as though they were staring directly into my soul.
God, Ryan, don't you realize what you're
doing to me?
"Thanks, Ryan, for everything," was all I could say as he continued to
look right into me, and that sudden urge to express my feelings with a
kiss came gushing back.
The mood was suddenly broken when he changed topics.
"So, when do you work?" he asked.
"Uhhh ... I have to play on Wednesday and Friday nights this week. I
usually do one show during the week and one on the weekend," I replied.
"Yeah, it's not bad. I only have to play for an hour, and I love doing
it. It's like it's not even work," I said.
"So, can we ... uhhh ... like hang out a little bit at school and
stuff?" he asked.
I managed a small smile. "Sure, Ryan, I'd really like that."
With that, I finally got one of those big grins of his that I loved so
I finally said goodbye to Ryan, but before he let me out of the car, he
grabbed me in a big hug, even running his fingers tenderly through the
hair on the back of my head. It felt both wonderful and painful at the
same time, being in his arms at that moment. Wonderful because of how
good he made me feel, and that safe, comfortable scent of Irish Spring
and strawberries ... and painful because I knew that in just a few
seconds, it would be gone, and I didn't know for how long.
After clinging to each other for a good five minutes, I told him I had
to get going and hopped out of the car. I waved to him as he backed out
of the driveway, and then turned to face the trailer ... my "home."
The first thing I noticed when I walked into the dingy, musty smelling
trailer, standing in the doorway, was my mother lying unconscious on
the tattered couch, buck
naked and spread-eagled ... definitely not a "Kodak moment." The next
thing I saw was an extremely large, bearded man on the old recliner
next to the couch, his grossly
distended pot belly covered in hair, and like my mother, as naked as
the day he was born, penis flaccid and lying across his upper thigh.
the floor were several empty bottles of Southern Comfort, and an almost
empty bottle of pills was lying on the coffee table. I would have
assumed they were dead were it not for the rhythmic motion of their
chests inhaling and exhaling, and the occasional snort coming from my
mother's latest "beau."
Although I was thoroughly disgusted at the sight, I was glad that they
were out cold so I wouldn't have to deal with either of them, and also
that Ryan hadn't asked to come inside with me. If he had seen this
sight, he certainly would have rethought whether or not he wanted to
get involved with someone like me. Disgusted as I may have been at the
pitiful sight of my mother, the woman who had brought me into this
world and was supposedly entrusted with the task of raising me, I could
certainly say that I was not shocked. It was an image I had seen far
too many times.
After quietly picking up the empty bottles and some other trash from
the floor and depositing them in the garbage, I plodded off to the
bathroom and hopped into the shower. Seeing that vision of my mother
and the latest sleaze that she had picked up and probably fucked until
they were both blue in the face and foaming at the mouth, made me feel
incredibly dirty. So I took an extra long time standing under the hot
water, hoping to let that feeling, and those images, wash away from my
As I stepped in front of the mirror to brush my teeth, I saw the
image of a lonely, pathetic boy staring back at me. Examining the
thick, curly mop of dark blond hair sitting on my head, the large blue
eyes that lacked the sparkle I envied so much in Ryan's eyes, and
the baby face that made me look younger than my fifteen years, I
wondered what two incredible people like Ryan and Toby could possibly
see in me ... not only as a potential lover (at least in Toby's case),
but even as a friend.
Even though people occasionally commented that I
had a "cute" face (I personally didn't think so), if they'd seen my
body like I was seeing it now, they would certainly change their minds.
I was incredibly thin, not even a trace of muscle,
practically hairless save for a tiny amount under my armpits and a
small bush above my circumcised penis, and just a smattering of peach
fuzz on my legs. As for the "family jewels," I wasn't blessed in that
department either. When fully erect, I measured a measly five inches.
There was nothing attractive about Connor Matthews, I thought.
Completing my ablutions in the bathroom, I walked into my tiny bedroom
and closed the door. After spending the weekend in Ryan's and Toby's
bedrooms, it struck me hard how little I really had. There were no
decorations on the wall, no fancy furniture, no television or computer,
just a dirty old mattress lying on the floor, my tattered, second-hand
clothes lying in several piles, and a cardboard box full of some of my
I looked at the digital alarm clock that lay on the
floor next to my bed and saw that it was already ten-thirty. Since I
had to be awake at six o'clock the next morning to get ready for
school, I figured I should try to get to bed. Unfortunately, I wasn't
very tired, and I could sense that tonight would be one of those nights
filled with restless tossing and turning. So many disparate thoughts
were writhing around in my brain, thoughts of Ryan and Toby, thoughts
of my wretched life, thoughts of what was going to happen during the
upcoming school week ... yep, sleep was going to be a long time coming.
I suddenly remembered the prescription Maggie had given me for those
pills. They relaxed me and made me sleepy, but I'd forgotten to get
them from her before I came home, so that was out .......... WAIT! What
about those pills that were lying on the coffee table? With that in
mind, I crept back out into the living room and looked at the bottle.
The label said it was "valium," and I recognized the name. These would
definitely help me sleep. So I took two pills, leaving a few in
the bottle, quickly downed them with some water from the tap in the
kitchen, then walked back to my bedroom. After lying down on my
mattress (I couldn't even call it a bed), I soon felt the relaxing
effects of the valium taking hold of me, and I fell into a deep sleep.