by Julien Gregg
Edited by Bruce
© Copyright 2005 Julien
All rights reserved.
No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author. This story is almost all fiction. Almost all of the characters depicted in this story exist exclusively in the imagination of the author. Any resemblance to an actual person, living or dead, is, sometimes purely coincidental. For a list of my other stories, original and fan fiction, please visit my personal website.
Before anyone sends me any hateful emails about this chapter, I want to address its subject matter a bit here. I have nothing against any religious group or faith. I didn't single out the Baptists out of hatred or malice. This subject matter merely reflects something that happened in my personal life recently, and the minister that decided to verbally pull my hair happened to be Baptist. So, naturally, I would use his particular faith as subject matter here. I hope that puts everyone at ease.
"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
It was written on our locker with bold black ink the next morning when Steve and I went to school. For a moment, I just stood there. I instantly knew where it had come from, and I even knew which verse of the Bible had been quoted. Not being a church going Christian didn't mean that I was ignorant of the Bible and how it could be used to hurt someone. This wasn't the slap in the face that I had received from Jason and his friends two years ago. This was far more personally in nature, and it angered me even more.
"I see you guys have the same decorator that we have," said
Mark as he and Rick walked up to us while we stared at our locker door.
"This same thing was written on your locker?" Steve asked. I still had not recovered my voice enough to speak without an angry timbre.
"Not exactly the same," said Rick. "Close enough, though."
"This is stupid," sighed Steve, and I felt his arm go around my waist. "I thought we were past all of this."
"Apparently not," replied Mark. "There are always small minded fools in the world. Some of them just hide behind a Bible."
"Three guesses as to who this small minded idiot is," said Mark, and Rick and Steve chuckled.
I, on the other hand, found nothing to laugh at in this situation. I remembered far to well the fear that we'd lived under when Jason and his cronies had been allowed to roam the halls of the school at will, leaving behind death threats and personalized messages for each of us on our lockers. This was not a pleasant reminder, and I didn't know if I would be able to keep from hurting Leo when I saw him. I thought that if he had a self satisfied smile, I would certainly want to wipe that smile off of his face with force.
"Boys," said Mitch's voice from behind us, and only that snapped me out of my violent thoughts. I turned to face him. "Your possessions have been removed from your lockers and are waiting for you in the office. We'll be painting the lockers today, and I promise you that we'll find the person responsible for this."
"Thanks, Mitch," said Steve as he guided me, by his arm around my waist, to the office.
I said nothing as they all talked to Mitch about who they thought was responsible. Of course each of them believed it was Leo. No one seemed to notice my silence, so I was left to wrap myself in it as I collected all of my books and headed off to my Analysis class. Wendy looked at me funny when I didn't say anything as I walked into the classroom, but the bell sounded soon afterward, so everyone got quiet.
I spent the hour battling with myself mentally. I couldn't decide if I really wanted to remain in school now. I had enough credits to graduate, and it wasn't as if I couldn't afford to go to college without a scholarship. What was I really doing there? I'd wanted to graduate with the rest of my friends, but I didn't want to be in a place where hate and ignorance could touch me. Was staying in school for the whole year really worth it?
I don't know how I managed to answer questions when I was called upon, but I must have given correct answers, because Ms. Sprick didn't spend much time talking to me. I even wrote down notes about the assignment somehow. I wasn't really focused on the class at the time. I could feel Wendy's eyes on me, but at that time, I was too busy trying to figure things out to worry about what anyone else thought.
Unlike the meek side of me, the other side was outraged
that I would even think about leaving the school because of a bigot. I hadn't
let Jason and his friends drive me away, even when my mother and Vince were
scared to death that something would happen to either me or Steve. Why would I
let Leo Hartman run me away? He was the one being childish and stupid. I
didn't have to force myself to suffer for it. Besides, they were only
words. By the end of the hour, I was more angry than anything else, but I
wasn't going to leave school. No one would ever have the satisfaction of
running me off.
"What's up with you this morning?" Wendy inquired as we walked out of class.
"I was thinking," I replied. "I'm done thinking now. I'm ready to knock the shit out of Leo Hartman."
"You think he's the one who defaced your locker?"
"After what he said yesterday in the computer lab, I'm convinced," I said. "Besides, he's the only religious person that we know."
"Oh, he isn't the only religious person we know," she corrected. "A few of the teachers are very religious, too. They just know better than to bring their religious views out in the open in school."
I thought about that for a moment. If Leo had been the one to write those words on my locker, wouldn't he be in trouble for more than just defacing school property? Religion had no place in public school, so wouldn't that mean something? After all, it had been a Bible verse he'd scrawled on my locker. I wasn't completely sure about the law about religion in public schools at that point, so I couldn't raise that argument. However, I could argue that it was harassment.
"Teachers wouldn't be stupid enough to do something like this," I said finally. "I'm sure they'd be fired for something like this."
"Oh, they would be," she agreed. "I was just saying that
Leo Hartman isn't the only religious person that we interact with on a daily
"True," I admitted.
"Oh well," she shrugged. "See you later. I have to get to the other side of the building."
"Love ya," I said as she turned to go.
"Mean it," she threw over her shoulder as I watched her walk off.
My second period class was only four doors down from my first, so I wasn't all that worried about being late. Rick was suddenly beside me as I walked toward my Psychology class. He was like that sometimes. He could be the quietest person on the face of the Earth, sneaking while not actually trying to. I smiled at him when we faced each other.
"Steve's worried about you," he informed.
"I'm fine," I replied. "Just had to think about a few things."
We walked into the classroom and found Jeremy already seated next to Phillip. The two smiled at us as we walked in and took our seats behind them. We talked a bit about what was written on our lockers, but Jeremy told us that the lockers had already been painted. We would be able to use them again the following day. Deciding that I wouldn't be as immature as whoever it was that had decided to deface my locker, I put it out of my mind. I wasn't so sure how I'd feel about it when I saw Leo in Study Hall, but for the moment, I wanted to pretend that everything was fine.
Leo wasn't in Study Hall that day, so I didn't have to
worry about what I would actually say to him. I wondered why he wasn't there,
but there was no way for me to find out, so I just started to go over my
Analysis assignment while talking with Jeremy and Nick. The hour went by
fairly quickly, and before I knew it, I was headed for the gym with Steve
"You all right?" He asked with concern.
"Fine," I replied, smiling at him. "I just had to think about a few things. I'm sorry for making you worry."
"Hey, as long as you're all right, then I'm fine," he said, smiling back.
In Gym that day, we had to choose our activities. Steve and I chose the weight room. We'd already decided that we would before school started. That way, we could cut back on our workouts at home and concentrate on school work while we had use of the weight room at school. I'd thought that Mark and Phillip would join us, but they both headed for the basketball group.
Steve and I wasted no time getting involved in a workout routine that had us both sweating. Mr. Davidson, the supervisor of the weight room, cautioned us to go slow. We laughed as we explained that we weren't doing half of what we did almost every morning at home. He asked about our workouts, and while we lifted weights, we explained exactly what our home workouts entailed. He seemed impressed, but he watched us for the entire hour.
We'd had to let go of karate when the week before school started. With so many responsibilities, we just didn't have time for the classes any longer. Dave said that it wasn't as if he had much more to teach us, so we didn't feel too badly about that decision. That left us free to be at our GSA meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we both worked Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday nights. Steve had found a new job after being let go at Santucci's. He was now working at Shop-N-Save as a stocker.
I'd really thought I could put the words written on my locker behind me, but in the showers after gym, I was nervous all over again. It almost felt like the first time I'd ever showered after gym class. I was afraid that I'd embarrass myself and much worse. I hated Leo Hartman for making me feel that way. I knew it was silly, but I couldn't shake it. I was very happy when I was dry and dressed again, walking beside Steve to lunch.
Leo and Noah weren't in the cafeteria when we arrived, and I sighed a sigh of relief. I was still angry about my locker and the feelings that it had reignited in me, no matter how hard I tried to tell myself I wasn't. Seeing him in the cafeteria might have been a bad thing. Instead of brooding about it, I followed Steve through the lunch line to get something to eat.
"Your lockers have both been repainted," said Wendy when Steve and I joined the table. "My dad says that he's going to talk to the school board about installing cameras in the halls."
"That's a good idea," said Mark. "I'll try to get the GSA to back that decision."
"Well, it might take more than my dad and the GSA," said Wendy. "The school board is very strict on student privacy. They wouldn't let teachers search lockers to find drugs, so I don't know if they'll be happy about putting cameras in the halls."
"Its all stupid," I sighed as I opened my juice. "Ignorance and intolerance are never going to stop."
"Easy, Bud," said Steve, patting my thigh. "It was just words."
"Right," I said. "This time its words, but how long do you think it will be before words become actions? We've seen it before, Steve. It started last time with verbal words and escalated into violence."
"Tommy, I didn't know you were this upset about it," he said, looking at me seriously.
"I'm just tired of small minded idiots," I sighed. "How would they feel if we started writing things on their lockers about heterosexuals? Not that it would make much difference, but if they had some kind of personal problem or secret that we uncovered and plastered all over the walls of the school, how would they feel?"
"You're still operating on the assumption that Leo did
this," said Rick. "Leo and Noah aren't even in school today."
"It doesn't matter if it was Leo or someone else," I insisted. "The fact is that we're back to Sophomore year all over again. All we need is an idiot like Jason Cox or Bobby Sherman to cap this off. It has to stop somewhere."
They all looked at me for a moment, and even I was surprised by what I'd said. Two years ago, I had been terrified of coming out to anyone. Now, I wanted acceptance, and I wasn't prepared to deal with those who offered only condemnation. It was a long stretch from who I was two years before, but now that I was out and finally proud of who I was, I wasn't about to let anyone tear me down again.
"Tommy, if you're that worried about it, then maybe you
should talk to my dad," said Wendy.
"I'm not worried about it, Wendy," I insisted. "I'm furious about it. How many times do we have to go through this? How many idiots with small minds are left in this school?"
"Tommy, there are always going to be people that don't accept us for what and who we are," said Rick. "Getting mad about it isn't going to solve the problem."
"I just don't see why we're expected to sit back and put up with this," I said quieter. "If it were one of us attacking another minority group in the school, action would have been taken immediately."
"Are you suggesting that my dad isn't acting on this?" Wendy asked with wide eyes.
"No," I said, shaking my head. "I'm suggesting that no matter what your dad does, the board will try to either stop it completely or tone it down. That's not acceptable."
"You sound like an activist," said Jeremy, startling
"Maybe I should become one," I said seriously. "Maybe all of us should become more active in promoting tolerance and acceptance. Isn't that why the GSA was started? We haven't done much to promote anything though it."
"What are you suggesting?" Mark asked. "I'm open for promoting tolerance and acceptance. But you're wrong to say that we haven't promoted anything through the GSA, Tommy. We've promoted awareness. Now, it seems that we're pissing someone off. That means that we're pushing buttons. They may not be the right ones, but someone is paying attention to us."
"I'm not suggesting anything, yet," I replied. "I have to think about this some more first. Just understand that I'm nowhere near done with this issue."
"I think we're all well aware of that," he said. "You think about whatever is on your mind for the GSA, and then we'll all sit down and discuss it. If its a viable idea, then we'll back it and make sure that whatever you decide is implemented quickly."
The bell sounded then, and we all prepared to leave the
cafeteria. Steve kept looking at me, but I assured him that I was just fine. I
really did have something in mind for the GSA, but I wasn't sure exactly what
it was just yet. I had to think on it a little longer, but I hoped that Mark
was serious about backing it. If the bigots wanted to have a voice, then we
Literature class wasn't fun for us, either. Ms. Tull made a crack about the fact that we were on time when she had expected us to be late. She said that since our lockers were of no use to us at the moment, she had thought we would be scampering to share with our other friends. The way she'd said the word "friends" and the smug look on her face was enough to set my anger to boiling. If it hadn't been for Steve sitting beside me, I would have said something back to her.
It was nice to be in the computer lab without Leo, though. Mr. Branch and I spent most of the hour going over what he planned to teach while the rest of the class worked on basic strings of programming. Mr. Branch said that he was very upset over what had happened to the lockers, but I assured him that we'd discuss that at the GSA meeting. By the end of the hour, we had the entire semester mapped out, and I had assured him that I was, in fact, taking the next course after this one. Since Mr. Branch was the only advanced teacher for computers at Storyville High, he assured me that he would be instructing me in that class as well. He also told me that the assistant position for that class was mine if I wanted it.
After school, I had a few minutes of alone time while everyone went to their lockers. Mitch allowed me and Steve to put our books back in our locker, and after we'd done that, Steve went off in search of Wendy to discuss what they had planned for the afternoon's GSA meeting. I thought more about what I wanted to do through the GSA, too. So far, what I'd come up with was another event that would be sponsored by the GSA, but I needed to talk to Vince about it.