I arrived home to the sound of screaming kids. Luke, unsurprisingly, was the main culprit but Amy was his willing accomplice. She was becoming increasingly unruly since the arrival of Alex’s mischievous and often uncontrollable younger sibling. Luke had recently been moved upstairs to the tiny spare room to ease the burden on Alex, but his proximity to Amy’s bedroom was having a detrimental effect on my little sister.
Don and Sue would never admit it, but it was clear they had bitten off more than they could chew with the Baker boys and particularly with the youngest. I had no say on the matter but I didn’t like the changes I was seeing in Amy, and although I enjoyed having Alex there, I was beginning to wish they hadn’t offered to take them in.
I was in the kitchen with my head in the fridge, when an exhausted-looking Sue came downstairs after putting the kids back to bed. She was surprised to see me home so early but wasn’t slow to capitalize on an unexpected opportunity to dig for information.
“How well do you know Alex’s girlfriend?”
“Not that well, why?”
“He went to see her tonight, I just wondered what the situation was between them.”
I was confused. “What do you mean, situation?”
“How well do they know each other?” She wasn’t making much sense, but my mind was understandably elsewhere. I stared blankly, forcing her to talk to me like I was an adult. “Are they having sex?”
“Why didn’t you ask me that in the first place? They were, so I guess they still are. Why do you wanna know?”
“I’m just curious, dear. We’re trying to help him but he’s going to have to help himself a little as well. He may have to start choosing better friends. Some of them are. Well, let’s just say they’re not the most trustworthy of characters.” If I hadn’t felt so bad I probably would have found that funny.
“What do you mean, some of them? They’re all losers, including Jenny.” She must have been surprised to hear me agree with her, but my scything statement alerted her to a problem much closer to home. Her interest in Alex soon faded as she watched me sit at the breakfast counter holding my head in my hands. I suppose I took precedence, now I was officially one of the family and it would have been impossible not to notice something was wrong.
“What’s the matter, dear?”
“Nothing’s the matter.”
“Don’t lie to me, what happened?”
“I had a bad night, that’s all.” I rubbed my head. “A very bad night.”
“In what way?”
‘How do I tell her? Do I even want to tell her’?
I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do or not, but I needed to speak to somebody. I simply couldn’t keep it too myself. That would have been torture, and I was certain Nathan would have already told Ginny.
“We had an argument. I mean, I had an argument with Nathan.” She looked relieved, maybe she was expecting worse. “I’m not gonna see him anymore.”
“Oh, I see.” She studied my sullen face for a while before offering me a smile and covering my hand. “There’s not much I can say that’s gonna make you feel any better. It’s something we all go through in our teens. You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but if you feel the need, then I’m happy to listen. You know that?”
I didn’t know that. She had never been comfortable talking to me about my relationship with Nathan, and I got the distinct impression she would rather I used someone else’s shoulder to cry on. I should have known better than to expect any genuine concern when it came to this aspect of my life. All she did was make me feel even worse.
The sound of someone running along the upstairs hallway, accompanied by Luke’s high pitched voice alerted Sue to a more urgent concern. She looked up at the ceiling with a weary frown.
“That boy is pushing me to my limits tonight. He will not go to sleep.” She looked close to the breaking point, so I decided to take my problem elsewhere.
As I stood up, Sue ruffled my hair. “Why don’t you go downstairs and I’ll bring you something to eat. You’ve got the basement to yourself tonight, Daniel’s staying at Doug’s house.”
I had been complaining about a lack of privacy and time on my own for ages. I suppose it was sod’s law. Now it was available, I no longer wanted it. An empty bedroom for once wasn’t a very welcoming sight, and I didn’t bother switching on the light or shutting the door before collapsing on top of my bed.
There was a knock on the door frame. I thought it was Sue and rolled over onto my back, groaning. When the light came on, I was startled by the sight of Nicola standing over me. She had an evil grin on her face and was holding up a banana.
“Where do you want this?” she said.
I frowned at her bawdy humour, but for once, I was pleased to see my sister, even if the banana was a little off-putting. “Can you put that thing down, please?”
She smirked and dropped it on the bed, along with an orange and a pear. “Mom told me to give you these. She said they’ll help you feel better. Are you sick or just feeling fruity?”
“Neither. What are you doing here anyway?”
“I live here, remember?”
I groaned and sat up, holding my head. It was unusual to see her in her pyjamas this early on a Friday night. “I thought you were out with Jimmy.”
“He’s just started a new job and has to work nights.”
“That’s a bummer.”
It may have been inconvenient for her but I welcomed her unexpected presence with the best smile my defeated face could muster. It didn’t work; she had already spoken to her mom.
“What’s your excuse?”
“I just broke up with Nathan.”
“I know that, but why?”
She was looking at me like she was expecting me to sum it up in a single sentence.
‘If only it was that easy’.
“It’s been on the cards for a while.” I tried to play it down knowing Nicola wouldn’t accept it. She sat down next to me on the bed looking concerned. It was a totally different approach from her mother.
“You shouldn’t have told mom.”
“It’s okay, you probably needed to talk to someone, but you should’ve waited for me.” I was surprised by her comment. It was still rare for us to discuss personal matters, although she was never shy of offering her advice. “I thought you guys were long term. What went wrong?”
“I dunno but he’s been acting all weird lately. It’s like he doesn’t want to be with me anymore. Tom told me Nathan was looking to fool around and now I’m starting to believe him.”
“Not yet but I think he will.”
“Robbie. People don’t usually break up because they think their partners are gonna fool around. So what’s the problem?”
“He flirts with everyone but now it’s got really bad, and it’s embarrassing for me. He’s always busy and doesn’t find any time for us anymore. He doesn’t want to do anything.” Nicola looked a little bored with my feeble explanations. I think she was expecting something juicier.
“That’s bullshit. Didn’t you just go to see a movie?”
“Yes, but he doesn’t want to do anything else.”
She laughed. “Ah, you mean sex?”
“Shush, your mom will hear us.”
“Like she doesn’t already know what you guys are doing.” She pulled a face but I wasn’t amused, so she leaned into me and put an arm around my shoulder. “I’m sorry, I know you don’t like talking about stuff like that.”
“I don’t mind, just not with you.”
“Why not, that’s what I’m here for. You're supposed to tell me stuff like this.”
“Of course, you are. Who else do you have to tell?” I had to think about it for a moment. I wouldn’t usually feel the need to talk to anyone, but breaking up was a new experience for me. A few months ago, I would rather have walked over hot coals than divulge any personal information to Nicola. Things had changed. I didn’t even mind her hugging me. It was actually quite comforting and when I didn’t push her away, she knew it was serious and was quick with her prognosis.
“Boys don’t just go off sex. So if he’s not getting it from you. Someone else his banging him. Trust me, I know.”
While I never doubted her experience in this field and appreciated her honesty, I wasn’t sure if I liked her direct approach, and I definitely didn’t like what she had to say.
“I think he’s got a little bored with me. I know he wants to do it someone else because he told me. He’s never been with anyone else.”
“I wouldn’t bank on that if I were you. But he’s got a lot of nerve telling you that. I would go nuts if a guy said that to me.” She shook her head despairingly and rubbed my knee.
“It’s not what you think, I don’t think he wanted to cheat on me.”
“Robbie, you are so naïve. Just because he tells you about it first, doesn’t mean he’s not cheating on you. I’ve known Nathan for years, and he’s almost like family to me, but he’s no angel and I’ve known him to lie. I’m not saying he’s a bad person and he probably doesn’t want to hurt you, but when people get horny, they do all kinds of weird shit.”
“He wanted us to do it with someone else.”
My sister looked genuinely shocked. “You mean, a three-way? Oh my God, Nathan is totally up for it. The horny little shit. I knew he would be into stuff like that?”
I don’t know why, but I was expecting her to disapprove of Nathan’s rather unusual request, not endorse it. She folded her arms like her mother and smiled at me.
“Who was it?”
“No one. He only asked me, that’s all.”
“Oh, I see. But you agreed to this, right?”
“NO! Of course, I didn’t.”
I could see her jaw drop. “You told him, no? I don’t know of any guy who would turn down an offer of a three-way.”
“Well, you do now!” I got up and stormed into the living room, pushing her arm away as she tried to stop me. I should have known better than to tell her something so sensitive. Now I was certain she would tease me about it forever.
I was expecting her to follow me, but she went back upstairs instead, leaving me wondering whether my original reluctance to embrace Nathan’s fantasy had sown the seeds of our break-up.
‘That was when things started to go wrong. I shouldn’t have been so negative. Nicola thinks I’m weird. Maybe she’s right’.
* * *
After a restless night, filled with dreams of my ex-boyfriend, I woke up on my own in a cold sweat. I was beginning to realise that giving up Nathan would have serious repercussions. I was already in withdrawal and struggling to resist the temptation to call and apologise. When I checked my phone, there were no missed calls, messages, or texts.
“Good,” I said. “I’m glad. I hope I never have to see his face again!”
To counteract the symptoms of my addiction, I opted for the closest substitute. I needed someone of equal beauty to take my mind off Nathan, so I called my golden-haired, feminine friend, Rory. I figured he would want to watch the Premier League clash between Arsenal and Chelsea, and persuaded him to come with me to Jamie’s house. He was already expecting me, and for the third time in as many weeks, I spent my Saturday morning watching my beloved football with my very excitable young friend.
Jamie always made me feel better, although I often wrestled with my conscience to understand why. He was a boy who quite obviously had it much worse than me, but that wasn’t my motive for wanting to befriend him. Jamie didn’t want pity or plastic friends who were only there because they felt sorry for him. I did feel sorry for him, of course, but I also enjoyed hanging out with him. He was funny, and intelligent, with a pragmatic view of the world, which at times was almost macabre. Sometimes when he talked, it was difficult not to choke up, but I didn’t dare show any emotion in front of him, because it wasn’t meant in that way.
It made him compelling company and I reassured myself with the belief that I never visited him because I felt I had to, or because it was the right thing to do. He was a friend who I would have wanted to hang out with even if he wasn’t dying. It was his illness, however, which defined his character and made him the person he was. The thing that would one day kill him also gave him a zest for life like no one I had ever seen.
That day, I was pleased to see him looking a little better. He was back at school and even getting homework, which he showed to us with a disgruntled frown. He was still a year away from starting high school, but when he did, he would be going to Stephenson like us. Rory and I would be in grade twelve by then, and I was looking forward to playing a big brother role.
The previous week, his mom told me as I was leaving that Jamie looked up to me. I didn’t know what to say, but it was a huge compliment and one which I probably didn’t deserve. If anything, it was actually the other way around. I couldn’t help but admire this kid who had drawn such a short straw in life but was always the happiest boy in the room.
When Jamie asked me about Nathan, I told him the truth except for the bit about us splitting up. I shouldn’t have bothered trying to cover it up, he noticed straight away that something was bothering me. For someone who you would assume knew very little about relationships, he seemed remarkably in tune with what was happening and picked his way delicately around a difficult subject.
It was Rory who told him about Nathan doing a TV commercial, which Jamie thought was great. “It’s cool. I’m gonna have a friend who’s on TV,” he said. “That’s pretty neat, don’t you think?” My response was a little too transparent and confirmed his suspicions. “He’s not your boyfriend anymore, is he?”
“No, but it’s okay. We’re still gonna be friends. Poor Rory looked like he had seen a ghost. I hadn’t got around to telling him yet.
I wondered whether Nathan would have time for Jamie if we weren’t together. I was pretty sure he would. Just like I was sure he would still see Daniel although he probably wouldn’t want to visit our house anymore. I didn’t like the idea of losing Nathan, but I liked the idea of losing the people around him even less. Like his parents, Morgan and Liz, and his sister Karen. People who I genuinely liked and needed in my life, but who probably didn’t need me.
‘Could we still be friends’?
I wasn’t sure how it worked. They didn’t teach useful things like this in school.
I spent the journey home explaining to Rory what happened with Nathan while trying to leave out any talk of sex. The bus was busy with eavesdroppers, but I edited my story more for Rory’s benefit than to keep it from the gossip-hungry townsfolk. Naturally, without this ingredient, it made little sense but at least he knew the final result and accepted my offer to spend the rest of the day at my house, where he was now a familiar face.
We were greeted by an unusually cheerful Nicola who pulled me aside in the kitchen to whisper in my ear.
“Didn’t take you long, did it?” She winked at me, but it took me a while to work it out. The gay tag would inevitably follow Rory around until he managed to find himself a girlfriend and even then there were no guarantees.
“Very funny,” I said before grabbing my friend’s arm and leading him to the stairs. “Come on Rory, let’s go to my room. There’s something I wanna show you.”
Nicola nearly choked on her coffee as she smothered a laugh.
‘Two can play at that game’.
The basement resembled a madhouse. Luke and Amy were literally running circles around Alex, who was laid out on the couch with a towel over his face. He looked as if he was asleep but I don’t know how. With the kids on the warpath, the family room was off-limits, so I opened the bedroom door and pushed Rory inside before we were attacked by Luke.
Daniel was sitting on his bed playing the Xbox.
“Nathan called me,” he said. My ears pricked up but I shrugged my shoulders as if I didn’t care. They were supposed to be best friends, after all. “He wanted to know if you were okay.”
“He could have called me to find out.”
“That’s what I told him. He was concerned about you. He said you're not well.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” It sounded to me as if Nathan was saying I was crazy. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” I snapped.
“Look, whatever’s going on between you two. I don’t wanna get involved. It’s not fair on me.”
“I’M NOT FUCKING ASKING YOU TO GET INVOLVED!”
“FINE! I knew this would happen.” He threw his control pad on his bed and stormed out, leaving me scratching my head.
“What’s up with him?”
“You need to relax,” said Rory and then covered his ears to protect them from a particularly loud scream from Amy. “But I can understand that it’s not easy in this house.”
Rory was an only child, the same as me originally and at that moment, I would have gladly swapped places with him.
“Luke is driving us all crazy,” I said. “There’s just too many people in this house.”
Rory looked deep in thought. “If you want, you can sleep over at my place for a couple of nights. I’m pretty sure my parents won't mind.”
He had tried to get me to sleepover in the summer, but the subject was dropped after I told him I was gay and I never mentioned it after that. I had the feeling at the time that he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea.
I studied his face and he looked hopeful like he wasn’t just saying it to be polite. “You don’t mind. I thought…?”
“No, it’s cool. If your parents are okay with it. I know you're not gonna try to jump me in the night.” He gave me a cheeky little smile and casually flicked the blond strands from his delicate face.
‘I wouldn’t bet on it’.
In my mind, for a few depraved seconds, I was on top of him pushing my dick in his mouth.
“Are you okay?”
“Huh? Yeah, of course. I was just daydreaming.”
“You need to get Nathan out of your head and think about something else.” He laughed as I wiped my brow.
‘Who the fuck’s Nathan’?
* * *
The next time I saw my ex-boyfriend was on Monday at school. First in the corridor, when he completely ignored me and then at lunch when he acknowledged me with a simple nod of the head, but nothing else.
It set the tone for the rest of the week with neither of us prepared to break an unofficial silence. It was childish behaviour which only made things more difficult and upsetting. We needed to talk if only to clarify our positions. I hadn’t actually told him I was breaking up with him, and neither had he so everything was left in a kind of limbo. When I was asked by others, I couldn’t really say for certain who was dumping who. It was abundantly clear though that we were no longer an item and it hurt.
It was a fight to keep Nathan out of my head and a battle I couldn’t win. I doubt if anyone else could have had such a huge impact on my life in such a short period of time. Replacing him was going to be a monumental task, yet I wasn’t sure if I could manage anymore on my own. I was beginning to realise how important he had been in my everyday life, things I hadn’t considered when I decided to walk away from him. I was giving up much more than a boyfriend. He was my escape mechanism, my closest ally, and confidant. My advisor, mentor, and psychological punching bag. Someone who would regularly absorb the worst that anyone could throw at me and somehow turn it into something positive.
It was one of his many talents which I never really gave him enough credit for. I suppose it was easy to lose sight of these attributes, hidden behind multiple layers of bling and brightly coloured spandex, yet to ignore them would be doing him a grave injustice.
I was trying hard to disguise it, but life without him was proving a struggle. It was a difficult few days which seemed to get worse as the week wore on. At school, I received more abuse than I had done in all the previous weeks put together. The homophobes were out in force, perhaps realising that I was now an easy target.
As the walls gradually closed in on me, it was inevitable something would break and on the Friday before Thanksgiving, I snapped, lashing out at a boy in the main corridor. He was in Nathan’s class but bit didn’t really matter, it could have been anyone. It was just his misfortune that his fairly innocuous insult was the one that finally pushed me over the edge. I was standing by my locker at lunchtime, waiting for Rory, when the kid approached me with a couple of his friends.
He wasn’t a bully but I guess he must have seen me as an easy target for a quick laugh. I heard him refer to me as Nathan’s ex-boyfriend and as he walked past me he asked if I wanted to suck his dick instead. I reacted by punching him in the mouth and knocking him to the floor. His friends managed to drag me off him but not before I had connected with several more punches in a one-sided, frenetic attack.
Once again, I had no control over my actions, but on this occasion, my inability to control my temper brought serious consequences. It marked the beginning of a new and dangerous phase which could no longer be ignored. The incident was caught on closed-circuit TV and I was summoned to the vice principal’s office.
I picked the wrong day to get into trouble. Mr Andrews was off sick and the matter was handled by his understudy, a man who I had long suspected of being a homophobe. He had always been suspicious of my family ties with the principal and must have been rubbing his hands together with glee after I presented him with a perfect opportunity to take me down.
He followed the letter of the law, and I was promptly suspended from school for a week. He told me that the kid I hit, had to go for emergency dental treatment after my initial punch dislodged two of his teeth. He wasn’t interested in hearing my side of the story though, and as far as I was aware, he never interviewed any of the witnesses.
The school notified Don, and I was sent home after lunch with instructions to report back to school a week on Monday.
“It’s the first time any of my kids have been suspended from school,” said an exasperated Don later that evening, but I suspected he was more annoyed at having to miss his Friday night out. “It’s another blot on your copybook.” I wondered what the first one was.
‘Oh yeah. I remember now’!
My first mistake was being born queer, my second was sticking up for myself when faced with verbal bullying. Few saw it that way though, and according to Don, my behaviour reflected badly, not just on him, but on the entire family.
“I didn’t start it,” I said, but the only marks that I had were on my knuckles where I had punched him, and all the evidence suggested otherwise.
“If you were provoked, then you should have reported it to a teacher, not try to take the law into your own hands.” He seemed particularly concerned with his own image. He was on the school board of governors and had been very vocal on the need to clamp down on bullying. “This is going to look great,” he said. “Especially if the boy’s parents want to press charges.”
I was grounded until I was allowed back to school, but I managed to keep a lid on my emotions and quietly accepted my punishment while trying to block out anything hurtful. I was becoming tougher and more immune to his hatred. An attitude which he didn’t understand and wasn’t comfortable with.
Later, Don called the boy’s parents to apologise and offered to pay for his dental costs, but I was reluctant to show any remorse.
“He was the one who started it. He asked me if I wanted to suck his dick.”
“Robbie, please. Not at the dinner table.” Sue wasn’t impressed with my language but I considered it necessary to explain. At least Alex was proud of me. He beamed a congratulatory smile from across the table.
“Do you wanna know what they’re calling you at school, Robbie?”
“Not really, but I’m sure you're gonna tell me.”
“The tooth fairy!” Nicola and Daniel thought it was amusing and laughed with Alex. “Do you get it. Tooth because you knocked his teeth out and fairy because you're queer.”
“I get it, Alex,” I snapped as the laughter quickly fizzled out.
“It’s not a laughing matter, Alex,” said Sue and Alex smiled at me from across the table. I knew he was only trying to cheer me up, but it was Nicola proved to be the hero with a hard-hitting question for her dad.
“It’s total crap,” she said. “What if it was me instead of Robbie? What would you say if some guy asked me if I wanted to suck his dick? You would be demanding he was suspended, not offering to pay his dental fees. I know you wouldn’t have grounded me no matter how hard I hit him. You always told me to stick up for myself against this kind of thing. Robbie should be allowed to do the same. Come on, Dad. You're not being fair.”
Her comments scored a direct hit. Even Don couldn’t deny that the outcome may have been different if I was a girl. If it was a boxing contest, the referee would have stopped the fight immediately. He was already on the ropes and reeling when Alex finished him off.
“She’s right. He’s the one who should be saying sorry. The kid got what he deserved. Robbie stands up for himself and ends up getting grounded. That’s rough justice if you ask me.”
“Alex, dear. You're not helping,” said Sue and I turned to look at her in amazement.
‘Why don’t you just shut the fuck up’.
It was Sue’s inability to think for herself that irritated me even more than her husbands misguided rhetoric. At least Don had principles, even if they were more akin to Nazi ideology than common sense.
I was proud of Alex for sticking up for me over something he felt strongly about. He added weight to Nicola’s argument, and Don was forced to reconsider and ultimately withdraw his rather hasty punishment.
“I’ll have a word with Mr Andrews when he gets back,” he said. “It does seem a bit harsh, but your punishment was for punching the boy. If you hadn’t lost your temper, you would have had a good case. However, I agree that you’ve probably been punished enough. You don’t deserve to be grounded as well.”
He couldn’t quite bring himself to say sorry and likewise, I steadfastly refused to show him any gratitude for rescinding an unjustified penance.
“The little jerk should’ve been suspended too,” said Nicola.
“It wasn’t his fault,” I said. “It was nice of him to offer and he was kinda cute. If he had been a little more discreet about it, who knows, I probably would have dragged him in the washrooms.”
There were a few moments of deathly silence as Don worked out what I had said, before my punishment was reinstated and I was sent downstairs.
* * *
“After all my efforts to get you off the hook. What made you say that? You know he hasn’t got a sense of humour.” Nicola was pacing the family room, venting her frustrations at my failure to accept Don’s offer of leniency. I was doing my best to ignore her but she kept standing in front of the TV to get my attention. “You are so annoying. Doesn’t it bother you, being grounded?”
“No. Why would it. I’ve got nowhere to go anyway. It doesn’t affect me at all.” As far as I was concerned, seeing the look on Don’s face, more than justified what was sure to be no more than a minor inconvenience. “Besides, I needed to remind him that I still like sucking dicks.”
I knew my comment would get a reaction from an unusually quiet Daniel. He was lying face down on the couch opposite my armchair, reading a book. “Yuk, that’s disgusting. I don’t know how you do that.”
“It’s easy, do you want me to demonstrate?”
“NO! keep away from me!” He was smiling though as he sat upright and tossed a cushion in my direction. “I will never put someone’s dick in my mouth.”
“You don’t know what you're missing.”
“Yes, I do. A mouthful of sperm.” It was unusual for Daniel to be so explicit and he was reprimanded by his sister. She accused me of teaching him bad habits before weighing in with her own crude attempt to embarrass him.
“Actually,” she said. “It doesn’t taste all that bad.” There spoke a voice of experience and I was happy to bow to her superior knowledge.
“It’s an acquired taste,” I added.
“You get used to it,” she said sharing a laugh with me, as Daniel covered his ears.
“Arrgh, you two are totally gross!” He stood up and marched into the bedroom slamming the door behind him.
‘I suppose that was something else he picked up from me’.
When we were alone, Nicola sat on the arm of my chair and put her arm around me in a suffocating hug.
“You're probably the most stupid person I have ever met and definitely the most stubborn. But we need to get you some help before you self-destruct.” She pushed my hair off my face and kissed me on the forehead. “I mean it, Robbie. You need help.”
We were disturbed by Alex sneaking down the stairs.
“Don’t mind me, this is cool. Can I watch? I like the occasional bit of incest.”
Nicola gave him the finger and stood up to go upstairs. “Let me know if you need anything, Robbie.”
Alex put his hand up. “I need something. What’s wrong, Nicola. I’ll show you a good time.”
“Looks like you blew out this time,” I laughed as his eyes followed my sister up the stairs.
“Your temper’s gonna get you into trouble, you know.”
“I’m already in trouble.”
“No, you're not. But you will if you don’t find a way to control it. Are you allowed in the garden or are you under house arrest?”
“I mustn’t leave the property,” I said, and laughed as I followed him outside. The damp decking was partially lit by solar-powered lights but the rest of the garden was in total darkness. “Where are we going?”
“I wanna talk to you.” He flashed me a lopsided smile, which put me at ease. “Relax, I’m not gonna have a go at you. You’ll probably beat me up.”
We stopped at the end of the decking and he reached into his pocket to pull out a joint and a lighter. Then carefully shielded it from the breeze, lit it, and took a long drag.
I looked nervously towards the house, expecting to see Don’s burly frame standing in the doorway. If we were caught, I would probably have been grounded for the rest of my life.
“Can I?” I reached over to take the joint out of his hand, which surprised him. If I was going to risk the wrath of Don. I wanted to make it worth my while. I took a couple of drags followed inevitably by a series of coughs.
It made him laugh. “Save some for me, you jerk.” Then he nudged me in the side and giggled. “I wish I had seen you hit that kid. I’m proud of you, you know that?”
“I can fight when I have to.”
“I know that. I’m only joking when I called you the tooth fairy. If he tries to make trouble for you though, I’ll be jumping all over him.”
“NO! Please don’t do that, Alex. I don’t want you getting into trouble.” I gave him a wry smile. “Not unless you wanted to jump all over him, that is.”
“Don’t sweat, I’m used to it. I’ve already been suspended twice. One more strike and I’m out. Now, you're officially a member of the club, which makes you a cool kid. It means you can hang out with me at school and smoke weed.”
“Thanks, Alex. That means a lot to me.”
“Well, it shouldn’t because only losers do that. And what do you mean, unless I wanted to jump all over him?”
“You’re the one I wanna jump all over, but I guess you already know that.” He left me standing on the decking as he headed back to the house.
Our friendship had cooled a little after Nathan told me about Alex’s attempts to seduce him. It was enough to remind me who I was dealing with, but not enough for me to change my opinion of him. I already knew what he was capable of, but I kept coming back for more, captivated by a side of him which he doggedly refused to show to anyone else.
The thought of Alex jumping all over me though, was enough to put a smile on my face ahead of what promised to be an eventful Thanksgiving.