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.
"I just thought you'd like to know what to expect tomorrow
morning, Tommy," said Mitch's voice on the telephone Sunday night. He'd called
to tell me about the security measures that were being taken at the school.
Things would be different on Monday morning, but Mitch had given me the
impression that things wouldn't necessarily be better.
We talked about what he thought would be the best way to make the school secure. When he told me that the school board wasn't interested in metal detectors, I nearly had a fit. He said that the board didn't feel it was necessary to spend so much money on security when it was only a hand full of students that were causing the problem. That's what they said: we were causing the problem.
"What do you mean they think we're the problem?" Steve asked when I tried to explain the details of my conversation with Mitch later that night. "We didn't do anything to anyone, Tommy. They came for us."
"I know that, and Mitch knows that," I replied. "The board just doesn't seem to think we're really in danger."
That wasn't exactly what I thought they believed, though. I was sure that they knew the danger was real, but did they care? It didn't seem that they did. If Mitch was right about what they'd actually said, then they really believed that we simply weren't worth protecting because we were homosexuals. That really had me wanting to scream, but I didn't know for sure that Mitch had understood them correctly. I was trying so hard to believe that the school board wasn't as homophobic as they had caused Mitch to believe.
"Bombs going off in our lockers make us completely safe," he said sarcastically.
"Are you starting to feel as sick about this as I am?" I asked him.
"Tommy, what is it that you aren't telling me?" Steve asked. "I mean, this is kind of upsetting, but nowhere near as upsetting as you seem to think. What else did Mitch tell you?"
"He told me that the school board thinks that we're the cause of this," I replied slowly. I knew that his reaction wouldn't be a good one, but I didn't expect him to blow up or anything. Still, caution was always warranted when bearing bad news.
"They think that we're the reason that everyone is in danger of bombs?" His eyes were wide, and his mouth just sort of stayed slightly open after he'd asked that question. I didn't know exactly how to tell him what I believed the school board meant by what they said.
"Look," I sighed, "the school board thinks that we are the only reason that anything bad has happened at all, Steve. In other words, they think that we don't deserve as much protection as heterosexual students do."
"That's your opinion?"
"Well, what's your opinion? I've told you exactly what Mitch said about the board, Steve. What does it sound like to you?" I asked.
"I know what it sounds like, Tommy," he admitted. "I just don't like to think that our school board is comprised of a bunch of homophobic idiots."
We talked well into the night about what we both believed the school board was saying. We agreed that it sounded like they didn't want us in school, but neither of us knew what to do about it by the time we went to sleep. I just hoped that I'd figure out what to do before I got to school the next day. I couldn't stomach sitting in classes with everyone when I thought that I really wasn't wanted there.
* * *
"Well, we're here," said Rick as we all walked up to the
main entrance of Storyville High. There were two armed police officers at the
door, checking bags. We'd each been informed that we'd need our school
identification badges to be permitted to enter the building, and we were all
wearing them on our shirts.
This was only part of the security that Mitch had told us about on the telephone the night before. There were more police, two each at three different entrances to the school building. All other entrances were locked and would remain that way until further notice. Security cameras were now active in the locker bays and more would be installed before the end of the school year. He said that he had asked for metal detectors at the doors, but the board had scoffed at the idea. It seemed that bombed lockers were just not enough to make the board understand that the students of Storyville High were in danger.
"We'll be late for first hour at this rate," said Mark.
The lines of students were moving very slowly. It did seem that we would be late if they didn't figure out a way to speed us up a bit. I knew that security was necessary, but why didn't they have more than two officers at each entrance that was allowing students passage? It seemed like a vague attempt at security, but it was also a hindrance. Standing outside the entrance in the line of other students, I didn't feel exactly safe. With the way that they all kept looking at the four of us and whispering to each other made me uncomfortable. They undoubtedly knew that we were the reason for this time eating security measure.
"There are teachers headed from the office to help now," said Steve, pointing at the floor to ceiling windows next to the entrance doors. Sure enough, six teachers were now standing beside the officers, taking bags to check. The line began to move faster.
I still didn't think this was real security. I couldn't believe that the school board didn't take the threat to us seriously. I knew that they believed that only a select group would be in danger. This made it seem that protecting us wasn't high on their list of priorities. That thought made me even more angry than the actual bombings and the window breaking bricks. To think that the school board thought that we were less deserving of their protection than other students simply because we were gay. This wasn't a choice, though I'm sure they all believed it was. Homosexuality, though not completely scientifically proven, was most probably genetic. It wasn't something any of us chose to be.
"All right, Bud?" Steve asked, squeezing my hand. Evidently I had stiffened or something as I thought about the board's blatant prejudice.
"I'm all right, Steve," I replied coldly, "but I'm not going into that school today."
"What do you mean?" Rick asked, shocked. "You were the one that said that you wouldn't let them win, Tommy. Now you don't want to go in because of the police taking their time?"
"That isn't why I won't go in," I said slowly. "If you guys will come to our house, I will explain why I won't go into the school. I think, once you've heard me out, you will agree that this isn't giving in to threats. This is making a statement. I fully prepare to talk to someone about what I believe is happening."
"What's happening, Tommy?" Steve turned to face me as he asked that. He was looking into my eyes, and I stood firm and looked right back into his.
"We'll talk about it away from the school," I replied. "For now, let's just get out of here."
They all followed me as I walked back toward the upper level parking lot. We'd parked side by side having only brought two cars: one for Rick and Mark and the other for me and Steve. I said nothing more as I got into the passenger seat of Steve's car. I was still thinking of how to make them understand why I had come to the conclusion that I had. I was right. There was not a doubt in my mind about it.
Steve didn't let go of my hand all the way home. He glanced at me from time to time as he drove, but I still wasn't ready to talk. I was seething with anger over the entire thing. The taunting from Ms. Tull, Leo Hartman and his blubbering about indecency, the bombs in our lockers and the bricks thrown through our windows were now joined by a bigoted school board. Perhaps leaving the school permanently was the right thing to do. If they weren't going to take our safety seriously, then why should we be there at all?
Andy and Vince were sitting in the dining room when we entered through the side door of the house. They looked at us with puzzled expressions until their eyes settled on my face. I saw something on their faces then that made me even more angry, but I decided that I had bigger things to worry about. I gave both of them cold looks and took a seat across the table from them. Steve sat beside me, and Rick and Mark took the ends of the table.
"Why aren't you in school?" Vince began, but I cut him off before he could say anything else.
"Why would I be in school when they aren't taking the threat seriously?" I demanded. "Two police officers and security cameras in only the locker bays aren't good enough. Mitch asked for metal detectors and they practically laughed at him. The school board isn't taking security seriously, because they don't really want to spend time making sure that gay students are safe."
"Tommy, you don't know that," counseled Andy. He sat forward in his chair and placed his hands flatly on the table.
"I do know that," I insisted. "Think about it, Andy. We were assured by the police that every measure available would be taken to ensure that we were kept safe at school. Why then are there only police officers at the entrances? Why wouldn't there be more of them strolling the halls? I was told last night that their only function is to check bags at the entrances of the school to ensure that illegal items didn't make it into the school. They installed cameras, but only near the locker bays. Now you might think that's because of the bombs, and it is. But why only the locker bays? Do they seriously think that lockers are the only place that can hide a bomb? Do they think that anyone who has a bomb to plant will proudly stroll by the cameras so they can apprehend them?"
"Where did you get all of this information?" Vince asked.
"From Mitch," I revealed. "Last night, I talked to him after he had told you and Andy what was being done at the school to ensure student safety. When I talked to him, he said that he was surprised at how hard it was just to get that much done."
"This is unreal," said Mark with a sigh, slumping in his seat. "I see why you didn't want to go inside the school today, Tommy. I'm glad you stopped the rest of us."
"So if something had happened at the school, the board would have said that they'd taken every cautionary step to avoid it, yet they hadn't done much of anything at all, because we're gay?" Rick asked, wrinkling his brow. "Heavy."
"The question we should be asking is what do we do about it?" Steve asked. "We can't just skip school forever."
"No we can't," I agreed. "But there have been reporters all over town just begging for an interview with any of the four of us. I say, after we talk to the school board, we give them an interview. In the mean time, I think we should have our work collected and keep up with it."
"Well you certainly seem to have this worked out, Tommy," said Andy. "I'll call my dad to make sure that he calls the school for you. Vince, you'll have to call for Steve, and I assume that you two," he looked from Rick to Mark and back, "will have your parents on your side."
"We will," said Rick as Mark nodded.
"I'll just go call Dad," said Andy as he got up from the table and headed for the kitchen.
"Tommy, I'm proud of you," said Vince, shocking me to no end. "You thought this through, all be it in a short amount of time, and came to the right decision. Maybe its time we stop watching you so closely."
"Thank you, Vince," I replied in a measured voice. "As for watching me so closely, I really wish everyone would back off some. Its really irritating."
"We love you, Tommy," he said, and I could clearly see that it was difficult for him to say that in front of the others. Vince was never good with expressing his feelings at the best of times. "Naturally we worry about you. You gave us a very big scare, Tommy. You had to know we'd be watching for any sign that things were bad for you again."
"Look," I sighed, "I appreciate that you all worry for me, and it shows me how much you all care about me. I just wish everyone would trust me. I did what I did out of grief, Vince. I've dealt with that grief. I'm not saying that I don't still miss my mother, because God knows I'll miss her until my last day on Earth. I just don't have to hide from that anymore."
"I believe you, Tommy," he said sincerely. "I won't be breathing down your neck anymore. You've shown me that you're fine now."
"Thank you," I said, looking down at the table.
I was fine in that regard. That wasn't a lie. My mother's death still hurt like nothing I'd ever known before, but I wasn't going to run myself into the ground to hide from the pain anymore. It wasn't so hard to remember her without breaking my heart anymore. I just tried very hard not to remember the day she died at all. That was the darkest day of my life. I was sure that there would never be a darker day in my future.
What I wasn't fine with was the fact that someone wanted me, and my lover, dead. Someone who hated us simply because of who and what we were. Then there was the fact that the school board didn't seem to care. It seemed that the only reason that they even made the attempt at security that they had was because they knew that failing to do so would cast a bad light on them. It wasn't fair, and I wasn't going to stand for it.
"Mark," I said as an idea hit me. "Can you get in touch with every member of the GSA easily enough?"
"I have all of their information, but Tommy, that's nearly a hundred people," he said with wide eyes.
"I'll help you," said Rick, smiling at his lover.
"We need to have a meeting," I said. "I know that if we aren't in school, we can't have the meeting there, but we need to get together as soon as possible."
The story will continue soon . . . .