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.
In that instant, I was terrified. If the second explosion
had come from Mark and Rick's locker, one or both of them could be hurt. I
looked at Steve, and we both headed against the onrushing crowd of students.
We didn't stop until we nearly ran Rick down as he and Mark were trying to get
away from the debris of their locker. I was never so happy to see two people
in my life.
"Today's not a good day for classes," said Mark as Steve and I turned and followed him through the throng of students.
"Do you think they'll approve metal detectors now?" Rick asked as we passed Ms. Tull. She was trying to get Leo Hartman to put his hands down and let her look at his face.
"Leo, please," she said as we continued to walk past.
We could hear the sirens of the police cars and ambulances as we reached the quad. Mitch and all of the office staff were standing near the door, trying to usher the students out quickly but calmly. They were failing miserably. Everyone was running for the doors at once, and Mitch was doing more of trying to make sure that he didn't get smashed by the on comers than restoring order.
"I guess that exit's out," said Steve, who had seemed to pick up Mark and Rick's tactic of trying to make fun of the situation. I, on the other hand, was still angry.
"Everyone, please!" cried Mitch over the excited and fearful voices of his student body. "Two at a time!"
"That's not going to work," said Ben, as he and Wendy caught up to us. "What the Hell happened?"
"Our lockers blew up," said Rick.
"Another nasty Bible quote was written on ours," said Mark, looking at me and Steve.
"Ours, too," said Steve. "Then it blew."
"I think someone doesn't like us," said Mark.
Even I couldn't help laughing at that one. He was definitely stating the obvious though. Someone had tried to kill us. Jason Cox was still incarcerated, so I knew he wasn't behind it. That meant that we had a new enemy. That only made me feel worse. Someone had planted bombs in our lockers to try to kills us, and we didn't have a clue who it was.
It surely wasn't Leo Hartman. He'd been hurt by the explosion. I just couldn't see him planting a bomb and then staying near enough to the scene to get hurt when it exploded. That meant someone else. There were so many people in the school, and not all of them were students or teachers. Any one of them could have done this. To search for the person would be like looking for a needle in a hay stack.
"I'd just like to know who that someone is," I mumbled as we finally made it out of the school.
The parking lot was a sea of terrified students. Teachers weren't being effective. They were just as scared as the students. None of us were stupid enough to head for our cars, though. If someone could plant bombs in our lockers, then what would stop them from planting bombs in our cars? Paranoid, yes, but its better to be scared than dead, right?
We headed for the other side of the parking lot as far from the school building as we could get and still be on school grounds. There was a row of ten stone benches on the other side of the bushes there. Only after we were all sat down did any of us ask the others if they were all right. The first thing that we'd wanted was to get out of the building.
"We hadn't even had a chance to open our locker yet," said Mark when Steve asked him if he was all right. "We were still talking about the message."
"We were doing something else when the locker exploded," said Steve, looking at me.
"I thought it was Leo," I said quickly as they all turned to look at me. "He was smirking about the message written on the locker, so I punched him. Then Ms. Tull said something stupid about my filthy hands, and I said something to her that got me sent to Mitch's office. We were walking there when the locker exploded."
"How strange is that?" Mark asked with a smirk. "You have to feel grateful to Ms. Tull for saving your butt."
"Something like that," I mumbled, looking down at my hands.
"All right," said Rick. "None of this helps us in any way. I mean if it wasn't Leo Hartman, then who put the bombs in our lockers."
"You're assuming that there aren't more of them in other areas of the school," said Wendy.
"Come on, Wendy," said Steve, looking at her hard. "You know better than that. Is it supposed to be a coincidence that only two lockers in the entire school have been defaced? Is it also a coincidence that those same two lockers were once more defaced and bombs were planted in them? Do you really think that there are more bombs in the school?"
"If there are any more, they're probably under our cars," I said more to myself than to my friends, but they all looked at me with wide eyes.
"You don't really think that someone put a bomb under your car, do you?" Phillip asked.
"I wouldn't have believed that anyone would put a bomb in my locker, but they did," I replied.
We were all silent after that. I guess none of them had thought about the possibility that there could be bombs under our cars. Maybe I was the only one who was thinking on the outside of the fact that someone had tried to bomb Storyville High School. It wasn't the school that they were after. It was me, Steve, Mark and Rick: their gay students. It was only logical to suspect that the person responsible would also wire our cars with explosives. They certainly wanted us dead, and the bombs in our lockers must have been set on timers, because none of us had opened either locker before it exploded. In fact, the bomb went off just five minutes before the first bell. That meant that someone had expected us all to be getting things out of our lockers at that time.
They couldn't have counted on that, though. So, that would mean that it was very possible that they would do something to the cars as well. Although if the cars were wired with explosives, they had to be wired while they were sitting in the school parking lot that morning. We'd each driven to school in our cars that morning, and nothing had exploded. The thought that someone wanted to kill us so badly that they would rig our cars to explode in the twenty minutes since we'd arrived at school was almost enough to make me run and hide in fear.
The police, ambulances, firemen and four vans labeled "S.B.S." arrived then. We watched them drive into the parking lot. As I turned around to watch them drive through the parking lot, I noticed that most all of the student body was now outside of the school. There were groups of them all over the parking lot. Teachers and faculty were gathered in other clusters, and Mitch was headed straight for us.
"Are all of you boys all right?" Mitch asked as he walked up to the bushes.
"We're fine," replied Mark. "None of us were actually near our lockers when they exploded."
"That's good to hear," he said. "Tommy, Ms. Tull said that you punched Leo Hartman in the stomach and then said something very inappropriate to her."
"That's right," I said, looking at him levelly. "With Leo, I believed that he was the one responsible for writing the message on my locker. He said something about me sinning and someone getting me back for it, so I punched him without thinking. Ms. Tull told me that I might need to talk to you about keeping my filthy hands to myself."
"She said that?" He looked stunned.
"Mitch . . . Mr. Benson," I corrected myself, "Ms. Tull does not like any of us. She constantly makes remarks that are almost prejudicial but not enough to get her in real trouble, she has already said that I shouldn't expect to pass her class, and she looks at us like we're vermin when she sees us in the halls. I know that you said that none of the teachers were allowed to express their opinions about what they thought of homosexuality in the school, but she's made hers crystal clear. I'm never going to get along with her."
"She's been the same way with all of you?" Mitch asked, looking from Steve to Mark and Rick.
"Pretty much exactly the way Tommy said," replied Rick.
"Sometimes, she just completely ignores us," said Mark. "She even does that in class."
"I'll get to the bottom of this," said Mitch. "Tommy, you really shouldn't have punched Leo Hartman. I understand that he's caused you some trouble in the past, and you believed that he was the culprit behind the messages on your locker, but physical violence isn't the answer."
"I know that, and I'm sorry," I replied, but there wasn't really anything else I could say about it. I got angry, and I lashed out. Again.
"We'll discuss that a little later," he said, looking back to where the police cars were. "The police will want to talk to the four of you, I'm sure. Why don't you all come back up to the upper lot?"
We got up and followed Mitch back through the lower parking lot and into what was known as the upper lot where the police cruisers were parked. There were kids and teachers everywhere, but not too many of them were actually talking. They were all watching the building very closely, though. I think they all expected it to blow up at any moment.
The policemen asked us several questions. I told them about the messages on our lockers, and I also told them about the incident involving me, Leo Hartman and Ms. Tull. They seemed especially interested in that. One of them wrote down everything that each of us had to say, but he seemed to write a lot more than what I said when it was my turn to talk.
We were told that the bomb squad was now running a sweep of the entire school, and we would know very soon if there was anything else to worry about. Mitch assured them that all classes would be canceled for the remainder of the day. He even said that there would likely be no school for the next few days. I wondered why that would be, but I supposed they didn't want anyone poking around the lockers.
"All clear," said a tall man dressed in a black body suite with the letters S.B.S. printed across his chest and back. He had close cropped dark hair and gray eyes.
"That means that your cars are safe," said the policeman who was writing everything down. "You're all free to leave the school grounds. I have your information, and I'm sure we'll be calling on each of you again very soon. Thank you for your honesty, boys."
Steve, Nick, Jeremy and I headed for Steve's car without looking back. I know that Mark and Rick headed for Mark's car, too, and the rest of our friends headed to theirs. There were several students leaving the school, and I knew that it was going to be no easier to get out of the parking lot than it had been to get out of the building. This wasn't a good day at all.
"So do you think he did it?" Jeremy asked as Steve eased his car into the line of others waiting for one of the four exits from the parking lot.
"Who, Leo?" Steve asked in reply, craning his neck to look into the back seat at Jeremy and Nick.
"Yeah," said Jeremy. "Do you think he bombed your lockers?"
"Not a chance," I replied for Steve. "Leo stayed too close to our locker for him to have been the one to put the bomb in it. Why would he stay close enough to get injured?"
"That makes sense," said Nick. "I know if I was going to do something like that, I'd get my ass out of there."
"Well, someone put a bomb in our locker," said Steve. "If it wasn't Leo Hartman, then who was it?"
"No clue," I sighed. "I guess we aren't as well liked as we thought."
"None of that," he said quickly. "This is somehow connected to Leo. It has to be. He and Ms. Tull are the only people in Storyville High that give any of us any shit. I'm telling you, if he didn't do it, he knows who did."
"The police sure seemed interested in your fight with Leo," said Jeremy.
"Well, they were only interested when I told them of our history and the messages on our locker," I replied.
"That also makes it sound like Leo at least would know something about what happened today," said Nick.
"Look, I believe he's behind the messages on our locker and Mark and Rick's, but I don't think the boy's even smart enough for a bomb," said Steve. "Ms. Tull would be a more likely candidate."
"Oh, get real!" cried Jeremy. "Tull's a teacher. No way would she plant a bomb in the school she teaches in."
"Crazy people will do almost anything," said Nick.
"Oh, I don't think she's crazy," I replied. "Stupid, narrow-minded, prejudiced and hateful, yes, but she's not crazy."
"I didn't know you had such a high opinion of Ms. Tull, Tommy," laughed Nick. "I'd hate to hear what you have to say about your friends."
"Oh, you guys are safe," I laughed. "You don't actively try to kill me or make me want to kill myself."
"Not funny," said Jeremy.
"No, it isn't," agreed Steve.
That was when we made it to the front of the line we were in and finally out of the parking lot. We were silent for a while as Steve drove us home. I was mentally kicking myself for my last statement. Everyone took me too serious when I said things like that since my bout with exhaustion following my mother's death. I hated that they even thought that I might actually try to hurt myself intentionally. I had to admit that I would probably think the same thing after my past behavior, but it still sucked.
"Easy, Bud," said Steve when he felt my hand stiffen in his as he drove. "No one believes that you'll hurt yourself. It just isn't great to hear you talk like that. We love you, Tommy."
"I love all of you, too," I replied. "I just wish everyone would stop worrying about me so much all of the time."
"Friends, Tommy," said Nick. "Friends worry about friends for all sorts of reasons. I don't think you'd ever try to hurt yourself, but I don't like to hear you talk like that, because I know that you sometimes hurt yourself without even realizing what you're doing."
I had to admit, he had me there. I had hurt myself without intending to on more than one occasion. Running myself to death was one way that I'd hurt myself, and it was the most recent event in my stupidity. But that was almost two years ago, and I wished that they would just let me live it down. Even Tom and Shirley still checked in on what I was eating, how often I was working out or running with Steve and how much I was working out or running. It was all too much for me. I don't think they realized that all of that was just a tad too overprotective. It also made me angry from time to time.
Being silent was only one thing that I did when I was a little more than unhappy with something that was done to, or for me, or said to me. I'm sure they all knew that they'd stepped over the line with the protection vibe, but I was too angry about everything that had happened that day to let them off the hook. With the messages on my locker, punching Leo and the slight confrontation with Ms. Tull, not to mention the bomb in my locker, the last thing I needed was over protective friends breathing down my neck about every little thing I said.
Yeah, I could have watched every little thing I said or did, but why should I have to do that? I mean, I hadn't done anything to hurt myself at all since the exhaustion I'd brought upon myself after my mother's death. I'd accepted that my mother was gone and not coming back, I'd found other ways to vent my grief and anger over that, and I'd even agreed to stay in school one more year than was required so I wouldn't be thrown into college too soon. I made sure to eat at least one helping of every single thing that was prepared for meals at home, even when I didn't like what was in front of me. I didn't work out nearly as much or as often as I did before I started running myself to death, and I only ran on Sunday mornings now. I was doing everything I could to keep them off of me, and they still jumped when I said anything they found to be wrong. Were they my friends and family, or were they my warden and trustees?
The story will continue soon . . . .