Green Room II
Chapter 32

G'day Stuart. I've not read all of Kyle's emails yet, either, but what I have read so far is like he's still here talking to me. I stared at his photos on the mantle yesterday. Every time I asked him where he was he replied, "Here". The great bulk of Kyle's mail was written early mornings in the school comp lab before classes. After he graduated, the volume of mail decreased significantly because he relied mostly on a local internet café. If he'd lived, he would no doubt take advantage of the comp lab at university.

The convo you had with Kyle on the mountain fascinated me. I wondered when you'd get around to visiting his special place. His room and the surf are his special places too, but Wollumbin was where he searched his soul. He had much to say during his young life, and I was fortunate enough to be on the receiving end. Life would have been very different for both of us if we hadn't met. The same can be said for you.

I know you get the guilts when you read about the crap you dished out to Kyle, but you need to remember you were not the only one. Practically all of Kyle's friends gave him grief at one time or another, even Graham. When a friend of mine experienced a similar situation with his mate over drugs, he asked his dad what he should do about it. "You need to make a choice, son, do you want a friend or an enemy?" Kyle often asked the same question in relation to you and his answer was always `friend'. When you apologized to Kyle after the Melanie fiasco, your answer to the same question was also `friend'. Seems to me that you can ask the same question about your dad. What do you want from him? We both know the answer to that one, so go get it.

Think yourself lucky that you and Kyle were friends and lovers before he died. If he'd died during one of your fights, you would never forgive yourself. Anyway, it's too late now to `make everything right'. It's a good lesson to keep in mind as you continue life's journey. You can't go back but you can go forward.

Yep, Kyle wasn't afraid to kiss. He even planted one on Graham for his birthday, which shocked the hell outta the grommet. Kyle's turn to be startled was when Brett planted one on him during their soul talk on the mountain. Brett's excuse was that Kyle was the kinda guy who attracted that sort of affection. Hmmmm. I've never seen anyone dance the tango solo.
Two hours in the gym, huh? If I tried that you'd be sending me get-well flowers.

Anyway, I'm glad you snooped and read Kyle's email. He may have been talking to me but now he's talking to you. He's not there to haunt you; he's there to help you. And, as a result, you're doing a lot of soul searching. Be careful not to judge yourself too harshly. We all make mistakes and, hopefully, learn from them. Kyle learned from his mistakes and Brett did likewise. You're learning from yours. And, you can be there for Graham when he inevitably stumbles.

When I told my dad that I was gay, his response was, "Where did I go wrong?". He referred to his parenting, not my sexuality. If my dad went `wrong' it was because he was a lousy communicator. That wasn't his fault. Maybe your dad is asking himself the same question. He housed you, fed you, clothed you and educated you. Is the rest up to you? As you know only too well, lack of communication leads to negative consequences. And communication is a two-way street.

Kyle solved a lot of his problems and heartache by communicating with me. Although he kept secrets from his folks and friends, including you, there was at least one person with whom he could share them. I was his safety valve, his mentor, and he knew that his life was as important to me as it was to him. Some people choose God as their dumping ground. But for Kyle, the Aussie fossil was preferable because he REPLIED in writing!
Never underestimate the value of Kyle's legacy to us. We are two of the luckiest blokes alive to have known that youthful sage. And, might I say, he was also lucky to have known us. As Mr. T told you, Kyle was thrilled to bits when he met the blond bombshell grommet named Stuart. You arrived at a time in his life when he desperately needed a friend and confidant.

And that hole in your heart? It ain't a hole, mate. It's another of Kyle's special places, and you better believe it.

Home alone: that's me. I've been given a position of trust while my folks are in Europe and the staff enjoys a week's break. I spoke to Bob about the situation: "Hey, mate, I'm scared to be home alone."

"Yeah, right. The only thing that scares you is starving to death."

"That too. Wanna stay here for a couple of days? Pleeeeeeeease?"

I was exhausted after those few days. Go figure. Actually, I was buggered anyway because of all the recent activity, such as visiting Kyle's special place on the mountain. I slept for four hours after that, then Julie and I hit the town. That's when THE DRAMA STARTED!

Julie and older bro's girlfriend were good mates, something I discovered at the pizzeria. Julie and I sat at a table, eating pizza and drinking beer, when older bro Craig, of `demolish Stuart' fame, walked in with his chick. The two girls were all over each other with a bunch of `howzits' and shit. Older bro Craig gave Julie a kiss because they were also friends. By that stage I was boiling!

Craig ignored me which was cool. I couldn't stand the creep. And I couldn't understand why Kyle had been friendly with that asshole.

Julie invited them to our table. Craig knew I wouldn't spark any aggro because he'd flattened me on two previous occasions. He initiated a three-way convo between him and the girls, which left me feeling like a spare prick at a wedding. From time to time, Julie attempted to involve me in the convo, but Craig continually manipulated the chat back his way. Eventually, I suggested to Julie that we should move. "I'm becoming claustrophobic." Why? Because I was sick and tired of listening to that pumped-up gorilla talk about himself.

Craig's face turned crimson, but I felt safe. No way would he try anything in the pizzeria. But Julie said she preferred to remain with her friends. I'd had enough at that point. "Okay, suit yourself and stay." I left the table and walked out of the restaurant.

As I headed down the road, hoping to catch a ride home, I felt a fist connect with the back of my head. It was you-know-who. The moment I turned to face him, he threw another punch. Thankfully, I ducked. But he planted me again in the breadbox. I felt my knees weaken, and I couldn't stand. A wave of nausea overwhelmed me.

Craig went berserk, cussing and warning he would fuck me up if he ever saw me again.
"Julie invited you to our table, not me," I insisted. "Why the fuck don't you just stay out of our way, huh?"

"You're still a bloody chickenshit," he snarled, and used his dancing hands as a signal to engage in combat. "Why don't you just come and take me out of your way, huh?"

"And give you an excuse to beat the crap out of me? No way."

He about turned and fumed his way back to the restaurant. Julie phoned later and blasted me for embarrassing her. Apparently, she was unaware of the roadside confrontation, and I chose not to mention it.

Anyway, G, I've had enough of her. She treats me like a kid, and I can't handle that. If I want a virgin I'll find a nun.

I phoned Melanie and organized a rendezvous for coffee. She was pretty cool on the phone and said she was between boyfriends at the moment. Did that mean...? Nah, perish the thought of a threesome.

I really like Melanie, and I know a hundred reasons why Kyle loved her. So it was cool. I suspected she might tell me to piss off when I called, but no. I figured she'd had time to calm down. Besides, I'd been ... sort of clean.

The morning I wrote G, I cruised around the house. Got out of bed about 10am, and made toast with cheese. Yes, I can do that, smartass. G is a bit of a gastronome in the kitchen.

Graham was expected to return from his rugby tour on Sunday or Monday, probably the latter. That meant the two of us could surf out the remainder of the school vacation. It was also Graham's birthday in a month or so and I needed to check the date--some time in August.

Meanwhile, I was pretty sure my relationship with Julie belonged to the past. Next day, I met with Melanie for cappuccinos. SHE SMOKES! That was a new one. She started on Dunhill Ultimate Lights about four months ago. She's still beautiful, G, just as she was when Kyle was here. What didn't we speak about? Well, we didn't talk about us going steady or anything. Actually, we kinda touched on it, but no talk of sex. Well, not really. And we didn't discuss Julie. Oops, yes we did; I called her a bitch. Melanie reckons I probably used that same word to describe her as well, and she laughed.

"Any girl you can't screw is a bitch, Stuart. Get used to it. The woods are full of them."

"So, is Melanie a bitch?"

"What would you say?" she smiled.

"What if I said I want to go out with you?"

"Think you could step into Kyle's shoes, Stuart? I was spoiled by him, and the way he treated me."

"Don't ask me to do that. Just let me be me. There's no one who could step into those shoes, and you know it. But it's time for all of us to stop hiding, Melanie. I was lost in my own self-pity, and during the past week a million things dawned on me about what a shit I've been."

"How about we just start as friends?"

"Then I can't screw you, Melanie. Damn!"

She laughed her tits off at my remark, and seemed that Kyle was sitting there with us. It was the same laugh she laughed when she was with him, and it was just so damn good to hear. "It's called love making, Stuart, and yes we can--when we're both ready."

"I'm ready, I'm ready!"

"You're horny ... nice, but horny."

"I'm pulling your chain, babes. I realize we both need time. But I need someone next to me I can talk to, and tell things to. I'm not comfortable with Julie like I am with you."

She took my hand in hers, which I appreciated as a wonderful gesture. "I'm not sure, Stuart. I think I love you but I'm not certain. I've always had a soft spot for your looks, even when Kyle and I were dating. But you were always so egocentric, like no one mattered except you. Then again, you've changed since the last time we spoke, and maybe it's because we all needed some time out. I think I'll always love Kyle, and to contemplate what might have been."

Melanie totally knocked my socks off when she confessed her feelings toward me.
After coffee, we chatted in the drizzle on the beach for a while, just holding hands and talking. She even let me kiss her before I walked her home.

I'm not sure how much Melanie knows about Kyle and me. I'd gone through Kyle's mail with a fine tooth comb searching for anything he might have said to Melanie about his relationship with his mates, particularly me. But if she did know, or suspect, then it appeared that Kyle never wrote about it. Maybe he wasn't sure either.

And Julie? I phoned and told her how I felt, that it was over between us. At first, she screamed and cussed--went totally ballistic. Then the anger turned to tears which rattled my brain big time. She begged to give our relationship another chance, but I declined. That scene at the pizzeria was a total stuff up, and showed me a side of her that I found unacceptable.

With all the kerfuffle this past week, I'm looking forward to Graham's return. I can't wait to hear all about his rugger tour, and hope he enjoyed himself. I miss that little grommet and his cheeky grin.