Green Room II
Chapter 20

Bob won't handle his punishment from the syndicate if he quits selling. He's not a user, so what happens if they spike him with H or even worse? I dare not try to persuade him either way. If he's lucky, they'll beat him into an emergency ward and leave it at that.

I think the pressure from taking over my turf gets to him as well. It's just too much, like a permanent job, hustling every night and dealing at school. His anger at me has more to do with quitting and getting his life back together than me snorting a few lines. We both know that.

He's right about controlling myself. He says I should avoid house parties and clubs because the stuff is too easily available.

There was a lot of talk at school about me and the party. I was obviously way over the edge for a lot of people's comfort. I discovered that the queen's hands were in my pants. I didn't realize it (or can't remember). That's probably what angered Bob so much.

Well, you're mad at yourself, which is a good sign. Another good sign is that you wrote and told me what happened. A friend of mine was in rehab once and told the nurse, "this is a helluva way to die." She responded with, "looks like a helluva way to live."

Am I disappointed in you? Nope. Hey, I've skinned my knees plenty of times. You have every right to be mad at yourself, as I have so often been at myself. It's a good sign. You showed great courage in telling me the truth about the party, and what followed.

As to your avoidance of Graham's mates in the surf, that's the price you pay for past mistakes. I don't know how long it will take for that situation to resolve itself but it will eventually if you continue to head in the right direction. Graham needs to prove he did the right thing by befriending you again, and you need to help him achieve that end.

A while ago I decided to write all the stuff that happens and mail you three times a week. So why am I writing today? I never wanted to write a novel about my life but I enjoy writing, and that's one of the pleasures Kyle and I shared. We wrote stories together, and argued about characters and plots. It was cool.

Sometimes I re-read stuff I send you before I make the decision to send it or trash it. I ask myself will this piss off G or what? Sometimes I wonder if I should include certain details, such as telling you on a Friday that I intend to party go clubbing.

It must seem that Kyle affected the whole of Byron and the Gold Coast, and that the whole joint is gay. Fact is, most of the stuff that happens in pubs is macho, like when guys rub another guy's crotch as a joke. I've seen it often.

I wasn't involved in my current scene when I met Kyle. One of the first convos I had with him was when I asked if he was gay because of the way he looked at me. That was the first time he openly spoke to me about you, G, and some of what you wrote him. I told him then that I thought I was gay because of my attraction to him.

Kyle never kissed a guy before I came along. At least, that's what I think. He kept his mouth firmly shut when I tried to poke my tongue in there. I don't know why I did that, but I told him I was in love with him. Back then, I was not the type to admit that to a guy. No way! It's just that Kyle made it so easy for me to express my feelings.

Damn, I totally missed the point here. What I want to say is that, apart from a few guys, my scene is limited to a small circle of friends. I'm sure Brett and Fingers think I'm more straight than not. Brett knows I loved Kyle, but the love guys had for Kyle was much different to anything gay. I don't want to be outside my close circle. The more people I know, and who get to know the real me, the wider that circle becomes. It will spread like a web and increase the number of people who know me for what I am. Then the shit hits the fan, and I would not be able to deal with that situation. I just need you to know that, G ... like connecting with some of the people you suggested. They all have their own friends, and the circles are intertwined.

I don't think I would enjoy the traditional gay scene. I've seen a few at parties, teens who behave like fairies. I feel like slapping them for acting so over the top.

The guys I organized to beat Kyle that time would not think twice about reducing me to pulp if they knew about the relationship I had with Kyle. They'd beat the crap out of me, then ensure that I never lived it down.

Graham arrived here yesterday, which was cool, if only for a short while. We hit the bag then sparred. He knocked the crap out of me again. It must be some kinda control thing with him. He knows I want him and he taunts me. Each time I show any sign of pain, he tells me I fight like a girl, or that I'm useless.

He did pay one compliment, though. He was impressed with my surf session the other day. Sean told him I surfed like a grommet, so Graham told Sean to shut the fuck up. Hahaha!

"What is it with you and Sean, anyway?" I asked as we sparred. "He's a little prick."

"Don't start! Kyle used to go on and on about Sean this and Sean that. You don't know him. He's cool."

Graham turned aggro, and wore a look of hate on his face as his fists flew. I did my best to avoid them. "I don't want to fight with you," I reasoned. "Sean caused a lot of shit between you and me."

"So now it's his fault that you were slaughtered?"

"Whoa, boy! I'm sorry I mentioned it." Then he sent one helluva shot that rocked my head. He dropped his guard for a second, which allowed me to respond with a punch that brought tears to his eyes. "Something in your eye?" I asked.

"Fuck off," he muttered, then untied his laces and removed his gloves.

"What's the prob? Am I getting too good for you?"

"Shut up, Stuart."

"Oh, so it's okay for me to get clobbered but not you?"

"It wasn't that hard. A lucky punch. I've gotta split, that's all."

"I guess I shouldn't hit you any more because you'll spit the dummy and sulk."

"Stuff you! I've gotta jet."

I grabbed his shoulders and shook him. "You're not leaving here pissed at me. Okay? You're coming back here tomorrow so I can give you a real hiding."

He shrugged my hands off his shoulders and collected his bag. His cheek was bright red from my punch. I almost felt guilty ... almost. However, after he left, depression took control again.

I'm reminded of the message Kyle used at the bottom of his emails: "Everyone has the right to be respected for their differences, and the responsibility to respect others for theirs." Kyle understood the meaning of those words, which helped him be true to his individuality. Mind you, he also projected a public persona in order to be accepted by his peers and others. However, I believe he understood the difference between an image and what lies beneath it.

Graham wants you to be like Kyle. He'll taunt you until you're better than he is. He wants you to toughen up; he wants a hero. When he and Kyle wrestled, Kyle inevitably won. Graham cussed and complained but he loved his big bro's dominance. Kyle was also kind and gentle, and massaged Graham's ego when necessary. There was a balance. Graham wants the doubting Thomases in his group to eat humble pie.

You both need a Kyle clone, but that ain't what you're gonna get. You'll get a Graham and he'll get a Stuart. That's okay. If you were both good enough for Kyle, you're good enough for each other.

Graham was here again yesterday, on an up because he did well at swim training, and was selected for all his age group races. I asked if he felt like a late surfing session.

"Can't. I'm surfing with Sean and Joe, you don't like them and they don't like you."

"I thought we could spend some time in the surf together, but it's cool."

"Has to be cool, huh?"

"Can't you stop treating me like a prick now?"

"Drop the `tude, and stop being a tryhard. I treat you the same as always."

"You're not, you know ... not since I quit drugs."

"Can't help that because I don't know if I feel differently now."

"Okay, so maybe you wanna sleep over here Friday or Saturday night?"

"I'll need to check with my folks."

"Just to hang out. Nothing else, I promise. I won't touch you."

"Stop sounding so damn desperate! That is so lame!"

"It's just that I'd like to spend some time with you, that's all."

"If you tried anything," he said in all seriousness, "I'd fuck you up."

"What happens one day when I beat the shit out of you?"

"Won't happen."

"Will you lighten up, for Christ sake?"

I get so down at the thought of him slipping away. I've waited for the phone call to let me know it's okay for him to sleep over. He's so independent now. He used to rely on Kyle for everything. And now? Now he relies on nobody. I know it's more paranoia but I can't help it. Waiting, waiting, waiting. I'm tired of walking on eggshells when he's here, and apologizing for everything I say. I'll try what you suggested in your email, G. The problem is he's not receptive to whatever I say.

All of a sudden, a lot of people are discovering Kyle's passing and, when I answer the mail, I relive the whole incident over and over. It tears me to pieces.

You need to take a leaf from Kyle's book. Graham was always the one to breeze into Kyle's room like he owned it. If Kyle was busy with homework or whatever, Graham laid on the bed and read a mag. There was never any pressure. When Graham started high school, he stuck to Kyle and Brett like glue. After a while, he joined the rugby, swim and cricket teams and made his own friends. He became independent.

When Kyle graduated from high school, Graham was devastated. But how far did the grommet drift away? Not far at all. And then, despite his many new friends, he slowly drifted back.

Graham is disappointed in you and your lack of leadership. Kyle is gone and there remains a vacuum he wants you to fill. But you fill it with apologies and lame statements like `I won't touch you, I promise'. Kyle would never say anything like that. You're acting like a masked man who walks into a bank and tries to convince the tellers he's not there to rob the joint. Methinks you protesteth too loudly.

Sean and Joe look up to Graham; he's their hero. But heros need heros too, and there's no way a fellow grommet will fill those shoes. He wants you, but you let him down. He remembers the time you were king of the waves, and he wants that guy back. He pushes you, but you crumble, and he's disappointed. Don't you think he's also worried about you slipping away?

I'm almost as frustrated as Graham is. I know your potential, and it pisses me off that you don't recognize it.

Meanwhile, Sunshine, hold your head high and don't let the dickheads get you down. The only power they have is the power you give them. It really is that simple.