Green Room II
Chapter 19

Graham failed to arrive Wednesday. He had swim training all day. I fooled around with the boxing bag for a while but it wasn't the same without him. Finished homework in my room, then phoned Melanie. I needed to. "Melanie? It's me."

"So I hear."

"I need to speak to you. What is the problem that we can't communicate any more?"

"You know what the problem is, Stuart. It's you. You think you're God's gift."

"Not true, Melanie. C'mon, we had something really special not so long ago."

"What is it, Stuart? Graham got a plug up his ass and now you want me?"

"Where the fuck did that come from? Is that what you think?"

"If you scream I'll hang up."

"Don't ... don't do that. Where did that comment come from?"

"If you hurt him, Stuart," she said through obvious tears, "I'll make sure you get the same. You always get your own way. What do you want from him?"

"Don't cry, Melanie, please."

"He's a little boy. What is it you want from him? Tell me!"

"Because he's Kyle."


Suddenly, I realized the profundity of what I'd said, and the real reason I needed Graham so much. "C'mon, Melanie, we've all seen it. Graham is Kyle. He's exactly the same as Kyle was. Why have you hung onto him? We're all looking for Kyle right now, and Graham is him. I know you've see that too. Stop the tears, girl. Can we meet somewhere? Maybe for coffee or a beer?"

I got a ride to within a block of her house, where she waited. She's still as spunky as ever, G. Kyle's girl. Her eyes were still red from tears.

We walked to a small beachside café. I had expresso while she chose capuccino, with the froth on top. She cradled her chin in her hand, and stared at the cup. I took her other hand in mine. My face still looked pretty hectic so I understood why she avoided my eyes.

"Hey, I'm not Stuart. I'm Quasimodo, the lover in the tower." That raised a smile, at least. "That's better, babes. I'm glad I'm not the only one who suffers these kind of days."

"He told me we would have a house full of little Kyles one day." Tears immediately sparkled in her eyes. "Every minute I knew him was special. There's a message in a bottle in my closet. I found it floating in the pool on my birthday last year. `I will be by your side forever, Melanie. And I will love you forever. Your friend and lover, Kyle'. I've had heaps of boyfriends but Kyle was the first I fell in love with, and finally discovered what love was all about."

"Got anyone now?" She shook her head. "Look, Melanie, I've been a real prick and I'd like to make it up to you--to be friends again, just friends. If it goes further, it'll be because it's mutual. For the moment, I'm desperate for friends. Graham visited this week to show me how to use the boxing bag. The little prick enjoys beating me up as well." That remark amused Melanie. "I can see why Kyle loved you. When you smile you get those little dimples like he did. And your eyes light up."

"I'm not ready to go out with you, Stuart. In a minute you could be back into the drug scene, and the shit will start all over again. You don't realize what you look like when you're stoned or tripping."

Her words hit me like a bombshell. "Give me a chance, Melanie. I've come this far. Please?"

She dissolved into tears once more. "Look at me," she sobbed angrily, "do you get the impression I'm ready to be hurt all over again? Fuck you!"

"Just friends," I insisted quietly. "Just friends, no commitment, nothing more."

"Check your face, Stuart. You look like you were stoned just five minutes ago."

She was right. I felt the anger build inside me but I did well to control it. I paid for the coffee, then walked her home in silence. At her front gate, she thanked me for the coffee. My eyes pleaded with her to give me a chance. I leaned forward and kissed her tenderly. "Thanks for listening, Melanie. Cheers."

Fucking hell, G, am I that bad? What does Graham see when he visits my house? A weak, pathetic loser? Is that why he takes such delight in beating me? I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing by letting him take charge in the gym.

Thursday: Graham arrived, which pleased me. I  worried about my intrusive behavior on Tuesday. Apparently, it wasn't a problem with him.

He is seriously into the gym kit at my house. I can't believe people like my folks have so much stuff in one place. Graham has a swim comp next week, and invited me to attend. It means I gotta get off school early or maybe take the day off. I'll see what happens.

Graham coerced me into working my guts out in the gym again. But it was cool. He punches the crap out of me at every opportunity but I managed to reciprocate a few times. *EVIL GRIN*. I don't think he felt them too much but he made sure I felt his! Hahahaha!

When we were done, I asked if he wanted to swim in the pool. "Can't stay too long, but I'll take a quick dip."

He wore his army camouflage briefs again. When wet, they crawled into his ass crack and outlined his schlong. He might as well be naked, I thought, but kept my comments to myself.

I wore black Speedos as I joined him. We wrestled for a while, and laughed and played while I tried valiantly to avoid any action that might freak him.

After five or so minutes, he exited the pool. I watched him as I treaded water. He toweled himself and shook his hair, which I discovered to my surprise was not completely jet black. It featured streaks of brown. "You coming again tomorrow?" I asked.

"I need to check. I'm supposed to go to the movies with friends. And I want to catch a wave after school. You want to be there?"


Each time Graham leaves, I wonder when I'll see him again--or if. I phoned Bob and visited his house. He was busy recording CDs so I laid on the bed and thumbed through a mag. I was glad he was busy--all I really wanted was company.

I pretended to read the mag while I observed him stuffing around with the CDs. His body is in such good shape. He's much shorter than I but perfectly proportioned. When he works, his forearm muscles perform an erotic dance, almost resembling a shark's muscular body. His tight top showed off his prominent pecs, and how his torso narrowed to a flat stomach. Even his obliques were clearly visible.

"You're looking good, Bob."

"Thanks, man," he smiled.

On the walk home, I enjoyed a warm feeling about Bob. Why don't I get more involved? He's very good looking with a body to match. But he doesn't want any heavy emotional involvement. We don't really connect at school due to his drug dealing. Despite that, with all his shit, he's such a cool mate.

I think your meeting with Melanie was a fine thing. It may seem a small step, but I believe it was a major stride. At least she's aware of your effort to quit. As Brett said, it takes time.

What I really want to discuss is you and Graham and your fear of losing him again. If you allow all those negative thoughts to gain root, you can be sure he won't return. He knows how much you love him, but if your feelings overwhelm him, and he feels unable to return them, he'll back off.

You're handling the situation quite well by gathering new and old friends. Melanie is slowly returning to the fold. The more friends you make of that calibre, the easier it will be to put Graham in proper perspective. Kyle and Graham were as thick as thieves, but they each led separate lives. There was no pressure, no possessiveness. When they were together they were together because that's what they both wanted. When they were apart, they filled their time with other pursuits and friends. Neither felt `owned'.

By your own admission, you admit to allowing paranoia and jealousy to dominate your thinking. You should be expert at recognizing the symptoms. Each time a negative thought threatens, tell it to piss off. Do that often enough and it becomes second nature.
Inexplicably, humans have a predilection for thinking the worst. It's as though we're programmed to self-destruct. Not long ago, you convinced yourself that you were the most despised person on the planet. Then you found me, and began to rise from the ashes. It's only a matter of time before you strut your stuff again.

When you're tempted to lean on someone, remember that others need someone to lean on too. Melanie falls into that category right now. You're asking to lean on her, but how about inviting her to lean on you? Ha! What a joke! Lean on Stuart? He'd fall apart. Is that true, Stuart? Are you a taker and not a giver? Are you so focused on yourself that you can't empathize with others?

Here's the deal. I want you to be strong. People admire strength, and are attracted to it. The gym gives you physical strength, exercising your mind will give you mental and emotional strength. The way to exercise your mind is to welcome positive thoughts and banish the negative.

I can see you now; tall, strong and dependable, earning Graham's admiration and respect. What's that negative little voice in your head saying now, Stuart? That G's fulla shit? Don't believe it. I know what I'm talking about, and I know your potential.

You once told me you couldn't understand why I wanted to write your story. Are you beginning to now? I think you are. I'm very proud to be your friend, Stuart.

I spent three hours in the surf on Friday. It was crowded so I stayed to one side. Graham was there with his dopey mates. He said `hi' at one stage, but then paddled back to his gang. It was good to get back into surfing, and I did pretty well. Normally, I hang at the beach but not this time, not now. There's still too much crap going on.

Saturday night I attended a house party. Bob accompanied me. A queen took a liking to me and made a bloody fuss all night. Bob got jealous. He became so angry he cried. At one stage, he grabbed me and asked me to leave with him. He'd discovered that most of the party guests were snorting coke. I was unaware at the time, and wondered why everyone was so damn high. I totally lost the plot and did a few lines, G. I'm sorry. I also drank too much. As soon as Bob found out he was onto me, and treated me like a little kid. I was ready to smack him.

Eventually, he took me home. I don't remember much of what happened, only that I woke at Bob's place. As soon as I opened my eyes he told me to fuck off from his house.

"What's your case?"

"You! I'm sick and tired of you using me. You go on and on about coming clean, and you see one little line of coke and can't wait to snort it."

"So? I'm sorry. Get a life, okay?"

"Listen to yourself, bigshot. That's what happens when you get wasted. Stop using me as a crutch."

"What? Stuff you! Who do you think you're talking to? You probably supplied that party with coke."

Bob sent a stinging backhand across my face, then continued with a verbal assault. "That party was your turf when you were dealing. Now I got the problem of covering your slack ass."

"If you hit me again I'll fuck you up."

"Like you did with big bro at the beach? Gimme a break for Christ sake! Maybe if I was five years younger and 20kg lighter."

"Jesus! You're just like them."

He apologized immediately, and raised his hands palm side up as a sign of truce. "I don't know where that came from. You make me so crazy, I say stupid things. I'm sorry, sorry, sorry. I didn't mean any of it. Okay?"

I remained silent for a while as I fumed. The situation had already reached a knife-edge stage that jeopardized our friendship.

"You can't do that," he pleaded, breaking the silence. "You can't just go back to drugs whenever the opportunity arises. You need to walk away."

"Saint fucking Bob! Hey, I couldn't help it."

"That's the problem--you'll never walk away. I'll made a deal with you. Why? Because I thought you were gonna die last night when I dragged you home."

"I'm not good at deals."

Then came Bob's big surprise. "I'll stop dealing if you stop using."

"Oh, yeah? Now who's the big shot? They'll kill you if you stop selling."

"They won't. Too much attention."

"You won't handle it, Bob--not what I went through."

"I already spoke to a guy who's connected to the syndicate. He thinks it's possible because they're pissed at the kids at school who think it's all a game. He says it's possible, and I should just handle the damage if it comes down. I can handle anything, right?"

"You won't handle what the synicate deals out. And what about losing all that cash income?"

"I get more cash from my folks than I know what to do with. I don't need extra. I sold because I enjoyed the rush. So did you in the beginning."

"Was I really that bad last night?"