The following is fiction. It contains some scenes involving sex. If reading such material is against the law, please do not read this. The author expressly requests all laws be obeyed and does not encourage illegal behavior.
I have been enormously gratified by my readers’ response to my first two stories, 8th Grade and Prom. Your comments to me have been exceedingly generous and deeply appreciated. Many of you were kind enough to send along story ideas, and some of these ideas have been incorporated in Tim. I cannot thank you enough for your interest and suggestions, even if I cannot acknowledge your participation by name. There are too many of you and I used bits and pieces of what was suggested to the extent even I am confused!
Some gay sex is included in this story as it is a visceral part of and helps illuminate the whole. The story is not principally about sex, and if your interest lies in reading about sexual activity, you will find this story disappointing and uninteresting in the extreme.
Those of you that have read my first two stories know that I like writing romantic tales of young boys learning who they are. This story has a somewhat darker and more troubling theme, and may have a message that is objectionable to some. I think the majority of you will enjoy it.
This story is copyrighted by the author. His permission must be secured before any copying or use of this story is permitted.
I love hearing from readers. It’s the reward I get for writing these stories. Any comments will reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
T I M
Terry was standing at the front of the cafeteria line again the next day when I got there. He smiled at me, then simply turned around without saying anything and we walked to the same table we’d used yesterday.
After we sat down and had our lunches arranged, Terry asked me, “Did I scare you, what I said when I was leaving your house yesterday?”
“Yes you did. I thought about it, too. You want the truth, I know. So here it is. Yes, I’m scared. And yes, I want to be your friend, and I’ll tell you when to back off. OK?”
“Not OK, perfect! That’s very brave of you Tim. I can see in your eyes you’re worried, but I see courage there, too. You don’t need to be worried. This is going to work out, and you’re going to be happy. Now, let’s talk about your story.”
Uh oh. If he saw worry in my eyes before, he could probably see terror now. The thing was, only my father had ever read any of my stories. He said they were great, but he was my father. He had to say that. No one else had read any of them. And I guess you could say, I really cared about my writing. I don’t think anything else mattered to me as much. I spent a lot of time with it and tried hard to do it well. As well as I possibly could. So someone talking about it, that was scary because they could hurt me really badly. What if he didn’t like it at all? What if he told me it was silly or juvernile or badly conceived or poorly written?
I had written the story he’d read about a month ago. Not surprisingly, it was a little autobiographical, which so many stories are. I’d read somewhere that if you’re going to write, you ought to write about things you know about because the stories will have more reality in them, and reality is interesting. People can relate to real events, real motivations, real emotions more than fake or made up ones. I tried to do that. This time, I’d written about a boy about my age coming to a new town in the middle of the school year and no one noticing he was there. He found it strange that no one seemed to see him, hear him when he spoke, notice him at all. He sort of just accepted it, thought the other kids were snobs or something, and just went to class, laid his homework on the desk with everyone else, brought his lunch from home and ate it outside under a tree every day by himself. He kept doing this until one day, he raised his hand in class, but the teacher never called on him. He started to realize, he actually was invisible. No one could see him. So he tried some things. He tried to interrupt conversations, he tried jumping up and down in class, he tried several other antics and nothing worked. Then he thought to bump into someone, and he walked right through them. And so, slowly, he realized what the problem was. He was dead. No one had told him so, he hadn’t realized it, but he’d died some time back. The story ended with him realizing this, and just sitting at his desk at school as all the other kids left the classroom.
I thought I’d written it pretty well, but it was certainly a dark and unhappy story, and I wondered if Terry, a happy and fun-loving kid, had been disturbed by it.
“Tim, I read it last night. I couldn’t put it down. I read it, then I went back and read it again. You know, it was amazing! I can’t believe you wrote that! You got the mood just right. It started out just normal, just a kid going to a new school and how he felt nervous and all, and then as the story progressed and began to get creepier, you changed the lighting in the building, the days began getting colder, you just changed the entire atmosphere to keep with his feelings. But subtly. I had to read it again to notice it. As it moved along, the story began to get really edgy. You knew something was wrong, and it just kept getting more and more wrong. I was actually getting goose bumps. Then, when he figured out he was dead, you did the perfect thing. You just ended it! You didn’t go into a lot of talk or thinking or explaining or anything, you just pulled away from the scene and left him sitting there, knowing he was dead. I was really impressed. I can’t believe how good a writer you are!
“I got to thinking, afterwards, how I’d have ended that story. I know what I’d have done. I’d have tried to take it further, explained things, come up with a resolution for the kid, you know, taken the edge off. But you didn’t! You left it all to the reader to work out. You seemed to know what I was thinking, and ramped up the tension at just the right time, then left it hanging there. I had all these emotions in me at the end! How did you know what I was feeling? Damn, man, you’re just really, really good!”
He was looking at me with his eyes filled with admiration, and if I read it right, something that looked like pride! Like, he was feeling proud of me! I felt like crying, the emotion he evoked in me was that strong! His praise was almost more than I could take. I was expecting him to tell me I needed to see a psychiatrist, and he was telling me I was a good writer instead! He couldn’t imagine in 100 years how good that made me feel.
He had something else in his eyes, too, something a little vaguer than the other two emotions I could read, but I couldn’t define it, and I was too happy over his praise to wonder much about it anyway.
I blushed. Then I said, “I guess you liked it then?”
He burst out laughing, and then so did I. I felt the best I’d felt in, well, I didn’t know when. This was wonderful. I really couldn’t remember when I’d last laughed like this.
He was well liked at school, and I mean by everyone, and his laugher drew people to him. Very soon there were a number of kids around the table, wanting in on the joke, wanting to share his happiness with him, probably really just wanting to be close to him. What did he do? He sort of nonchalantly and sociably brushed them away without them even being aware of it. Within a couple of minutes of stopping laughing, we were alone again. I still can’t figure out how he did it. I could never do that.
“Tim, that story was remarkable,” he said when we were alone again. “You have a great deal of talent. But you know what?” He reached down into his bag and pulled out the story, then handed it to me. “It’s your story. I’m not going to even suggest you do anything with this. It’s yours. I’m honored you let me read it, but it’s yours to do with as you wish. Thank you for letting me read it.” He met my eyes. Whatever I’d thought I might have seen in them before was no longer there. I took the story from him and put it in my backpack.
“Could I ask you for a favor?” I looked up at him. He was asking me for a favor? That was odd.
“Sure, Terry. But I can’t imagine what favor I can do for you.”
“Well, see, I don’t like to ask, we’re still just getting acquainted, but you know, we’re going to get together again this afternoon aren’t we?” I nodded, he nodded back in confirmation, then continued, “I’d really appreciate it if we could go to the park today, and you’d let me bring a friend of mine along.” He must have seen my expression change, because he rushed ahead, somewhat apologetically. “I know I’m imposing, but I can promise you I won’t say anything at all that will embarrass you or anything like that. It’s just that I usually get together with this guy every week today, and I sort of forgot about that. Tim, I really think you’ll like this guy, and it would mean a great deal to me. Can I bring him along?”
He was right. I immediately froze up a little. I felt like he was imposing. I felt something else, too, and thinking about it, I realized what it was. I was feeling jealousy. I didn’t what to share him. Why was he doing this, anyway? We were suppose to be getting together so he could ask me questions, get to know me, write a report on me. He couldn’t very well do that if someone else was tagging along. I thought I ought to clear that up.
“How are you going to ask me the questions you need to ask if someone else is there?”
“I thought maybe I wouldn’t ask you anything else today. Maybe you needed a rest? No?” My false smile and then a slow shake of my head seemed to be telling him I wasn’t buying it. “OK, so maybe I just want you to meet John. I told you I’m friendly with lots of people, friends with only a few? He’s one of my friends. One of my very best friends. He’s this great guy, you’re this great guy, but that isn’t really it. There’s something else, and I’m not going to tell you. But there’s something else. You have to trust me again.”
He was having me trust him a lot, but so far, so good. He hadn’t disappointed me yet, and I was a very wary critic. This time, I thought it likely he’d be wrong, that I probably wouldn’t be enthralled with this guy, that after meeting him I’d be feeling annoyed that it wasn’t just Terry and me. I was pretty sure of that. But he was asking me, letting me make the decision, and he had requested it as a favor. I thought it would be churlish of me to deny it. But I didn’t need to seem happy about it, either.
“Terry, if you want me to say yes, OK, yes. You can bring him along. I can’t tell you how I’ll react when I meet him because I haven’t met him yet. But you know, you know, how I am with people. You’re the one who gave me the spiel about how I’m alone all the time. You did stop to think that maybe I like it that way, didn’t you?”
“You’re uncomfortable with this, aren’t you? I shouldn’t have mentioned it. I’m sorry, Tim. Why don’t we forget it. I’ll just tell John I can’t make it today. He’ll understand.”
“Now you’re making me the bad guy here!” I said with my voice raised a little. I was all ready to get angry when I looked into Terry’s face. He had a hangdog grin. Then it changed into a smile. A Terry smile. All teeth and happy and sunshine. I tried, believe me, I tried. But I couldn’t help it. I smiled back.
“Aw, Tim, you’re cute when you smile, you know that? You should do it more often.”
“Shut up. I’m trying to be mad here.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have smiled. I hate it when I’m trying to be mad and someone smiles at me. Kicks my mad all to hell. Damn, that pisses me off!”
He grinned at me, and I grinned back. Well, so much for getting mad at him. He had this interpersonal relationship stuff down a whole lot more pat than I’d ever hope to. I didn’t have a chance with him. He could get me to do whatever he wanted, and we both already knew that.
“So we can meet at the park after school? How about 4 o’clock. Can we meet you there then? By the bridge again?”
I told him that would be fine, trying to regain a little dignity and reserve, which was really hard against his persistent grin.
I rode home after school thinking about meeting Terry and John later. I had plenty of time to go home, have a snack, change into shorts, and ride to the park. I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about it. It was hard to be mad at Terry. I was coming to the understanding he really did have my best interests at heart. I was growing more attached to him than I liked, more than I had allowed myself to with anyone in quite a while, more than I had told myself I would ever again.
I got to the bridge a little before four and they were waiting for me. I got a shock, too. I knew who John was as soon as I saw him. He was the kid in the wheelchair I had frequently seen Terry high-fiving.
Terry was sitting on the bench we’d used when we’d first met here and John was in his chair in front of it. They were talking together and it didn’t look like John was all that happy. It looked to me like Terry was trying to be about as persuasive with him as he’d been with me at lunch. Well, that would give me something to think about. Terry had given me the impression he had a weekly meeting with John and John would be disappointed if he didn’t show up. Now I had the distinct impression John wasn’t very happy about something, and I had to think maybe it was meeting me. Or was John perhaps just as disgruntled sharing Terry’s time with someone else as I was? Was that possible? Or were they just discussing something else I had no idea about and that had nothing at all to do with me?
I got off my bike at the bridge and walked it over to the bench. By the time I was there, Terry was smiling at me. John was just looking at me. This was the first time I’d seen him up close. He was blond, which I’d already known, but he was also very good looking, which I hadn’t. In fact, I’d have to say he was even more than that. He had the sort of looks that made you pause when you looked at him, that made you heart pound just a little bit faster. My first thought was, what’s a kid that looks like that doing in a wheelchair? Then I felt bad for thinking that.
“Hey Tim, hi.” That was Terry. He stood up when I arrived. I leaned my bike against the back of the bench, then turned around.
“Uh, hi guys.” I sort of mumbled. I hated being shy. I hadn’t been in the past.
Terry was Terry, not a bit awkward, no matter what the social occasion. “I guess you guys don’t know each other. John, this is Tim, and Tim, this is John. Before either of you say anything, I want to say something.” He looked at both of us, as though daring either of us to say anything.
I glanced at John and he glanced at me and neither of us spoke. Terry watched us, seemed satisfied, and continued.
“First, I want to thank you both for coming when neither of you wanted to. You already have something in common: neither of you wanted to meet the other. OK, now you both know. There’s something else you both know, and that’s something about me. You both know, I hope you know, that you can trust me.”
He stopped and took a deep breath. He looked at me for a moment, and I eventually dropped my eyes. Then he did the same with John. Except John just stared back at him, some defiance showing in his look. Terry sighed.
“You guys, both of you, are important to me. Don’t take this as condescending, I don’t mean it in a bad way at all, but, I want to help you both. I’ve promised you both things, and those promises are sacred to me. So, I’m not going to do what I want so badly to do. I want to tell you, John, all about Tim, and I want to tell you, Tim, all about John, and you know what I’m going to do? I’m not going to do either of those things. Instead, I’m going to go for a walk in those woods over there. I’m going to come back in a half hour. What you guys are going to do, I don’t know. One thing I suppose is you could do is think up names to call me when I come back. But I will tell you both this—you two have more in common than you can imagine.”
Then he turned around and walked off. We both sat watching him. Pretty quickly, he’d reached the woods, and then he was out of sight.
What the fuck!? I just sat there looking at the spot Terry had disappeared into. I sat doing that for a couple minutes. Then I realized John wasn’t saying anything to me, any more than I was saying anything to him. And I remembered he’d been arguing with Terry when I arrived. I suddenly realized something that should have been clear all along: he was as unhappy with this situation as I was. Which was saying something.
I turned to look at him. He was sitting in his chair, a scowl clouding his handsome face, looking at me. Even scowling, he was gorgeous.
Who’d speak first? I thought there might be some advantage in being first, so I said, “I imagine you’ve known him a lot longer than I have. Does he pull crap like this all the time?” I tried to keep my tone very neutral, tried not to show any of the mixed feelings I was experiencing. I was never good with new people or new situations, and this was both, in spades!
At first, I didn’t think John was going to answer. He just kept staring at me, and kept scowling. When the silence had become a little embarrassing, about when I was wondering if I should grab my bike and just leave, he relented. “No,” he said. He looked at me some more without speaking for a couple minutes, then said, “He told me all about you, you know.”
It felt like someone had just sucker punched me, hit me hard square in the gut. I don’t think my mouth dropped open, but it might have. Terry had told him all about me? All that I’d said to him? What I’d said to him in private? Like I spent my time all alone, like I ate lunch with someone that I never spoke to, like I spent time alone writing? Stuff like that? Terry had told me he could keep secrets. He’d told me the stuff I told him was between just us. He’d told me he was my friend and I could count on him? What was this, then? What was, “He told me all about you?” Terry knew I was a private person. He’d told me he recognized this. How then could he betray me like this? I’d trusted him! After I told myself over and over never to do that again.
As I realized all this, as the full impact hit me, I felt tears come to my eyes. I’d trusted Terry. Against my best judgment, I’d trusted him. I felt almost sick. I was shaky. I turned around, almost stumbling, grabbed my bike, and started walking, then running toward the path. As soon as I reached it, I jumped on and started pedaling as fast as I could.
It was difficult to see, riding home, pedaling with a fury and an inner ache that was filling my soul and tears filling my eyes, but I managed. I dropped the bike in the back yard and ran up to my room. There, I didn’t know what to do. I sort of looked around, almost dazed. How could he do this? How could he? That thought kept running through my mind, and I never had an answer for it. How could I trust someone so instinctively and be so wrong? What was wrong with me, anyway? I could answer that one. I was a loser. A dumb, fucking loser.
I was so upset, upset with Terry but mostly with myself for being so weak and trying to open up to someone, anyone, upset for being so needy, for needing to trust someone, that I didn’t know what to do. My room was too small to pace in, and I suddenly realized I was sort of just standing in the middle of it slowly turning in circles. I stopped, frustrated, alone again, hurt, and then did what I always did when I was upset.
I don’t know how much later it was, but I became aware of a hammering noise coming from the front door. Then I heard my name being called, over and over. Terry. Well, fuck him. FUCK HIM!
The hammering finally stopped. Then, a minute later, I heard the back door crash open, my name being called again, then footsteps racing up the stairs. And suddenly he was outside my room, gasping for breath, one hand on each edge of my door frame, leaning against it, holding himself up, looking in, sweat rivering down his face.
He just looked at me and I looked back from my desk, my journal spread open in front of me.
I jumped to my feet. “What the fuck are you doing here?” I asked him angrily. “Get out. Get out of here. I don’t ever want to see you again. Get out! Now!”
He didn’t move. He leaned against the door frame, his chest heaving, trying to breathe. Then, slowly, he backed off the frame, backed all the way across the hallway outside my door till his back hit the wall there, then slid down the wall till he was sitting on the floor with his back against it. His hands were on the floor beside his hips. He looked a picture of complete and total dejection. I stood in my doorway looking at him, some of my anger abating as the sight of a very defeated Terry seemed to sap some of my hostility. Some. Not all by a long shot.
“What are you doing here? Why did you come?” I asked in a more measured tone of voice, still angry but with less outrage.
It was apparent, with his continual gasping for breath, that he really couldn’t talk much. He looked up at me with his expressive eyes, however, and then managed to gasp out two words. “Your story.”
I just stared at him, puzzle, and then suddenly I understood. I knew what he meant. The panic in his eyes and voice when he’d run up to my room suddenly made sense.
I thought back to lunch today when we’d been discussing my story. He’d handed it back to me after telling me how much he admired it. But thinking back, he’d told me I was a good writer, that my skill in writing the story had blown him away, but he’d never actually said he’d liked it. And, I remembered the look in his eyes that I couldn’t quite understand. Thinking about it now with him slumped against the wall, I realized it could have been some sort of agitation or worry. Maybe the subject of the story, the content of it, disturbed him, as I’d thought it might. Maybe while praising me, raising my spirits, he was also worried about what the story said about my state of mind.
Now I pictured him at the park, walking out of the woods after I’d already left and seeing John alone. He surely would have asked John where I’d gone. Had John told him what he’d said to me? If he had,could Terry have guessed how betrayed I might have felt, how it would have affected me? If so, he would have been afraid, maybe even terrified, about what I might do, if he’d felt that I’d been thinking about being dead when I wrote the story. What if I’d been thinking about that for some time? What if Terry really had figured me out and realized how fragile I really was?
It made sense. After John told him why I wasn’t there any longer, after he told him what he’d said to me and how I’d left, my emotions showing, Terry had thought I’d gone home thinking about killing myself.