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10,655 I Should Own Stock In This Place

About Aceinthehole

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  1. Aceinthehole

    Who is Your Favorite Gay Icon?

    That was so sweet! Always inspiring to see. Also love the recognition of writers on this site! Lady Gaga has an absolutely beautiful voice. IMO she's one of the best modern day singers.
  2. Aceinthehole

    Who is Your Favorite Gay Icon?

    I love Elton John as well! So many meaningful songs from him! They're actually making movies on both Freddie and Elton. Freddie's includes the story of Queen, and is coming out next month. Elton's doesnt have a date yet, but theres a trailer for it which looks great. I actually just found out about RuPaul last year. I've watched a few of his shows, and I love his personality. Rock make up as much as you want! I'm sure you kill it! The man's a classic! I've never heard of Larry Kramer. I'll have to look into him! Sounds like a very accomplished guy! Very well said. I love Bowie! Another guy who was confident and brave in the face of so much adversity. His courage paved the way for many different people. Plus his music speaks for itself. I honestly have never heard of her. Huge respect for an Ally that would put her career at risk for what she believed in. At one of the lowest points of the American LGBTQ+ community she seemed to have been a rock for us, that is very worthy of gay icon status in my book! I'll have to look up videos of her pushing back against Bush. Not to get too political, but we could use people with that backbone to step up today.
  3. Aceinthehole

    Who is Your Favorite Gay Icon?

    Or perhaps just an LGBT+ person you look up to in general. They don't even have to be famous. Sometimes it's important to recognize people within our own community. My choice is Freddie Mercury of the British rock band Queen. I've listened to Queen from a young age, but it wasn't until I discovered my sexuality that I found a new respect for the flamboyant front man. Even in the face of HIV AIDs, Freddie's confidence never seemed to fade. He was unapologetically himself, and racked up fans by the millions, even at a time when being part of the LGBT+ community wasn't accepted.
  4. Aceinthehole

    Xbox One vs PlayStation 4 vs Switch

    As someone who also has all 3 consoles I really agree with your breakdown. Although, I have to say I'm disappointed with these next gen consoles. They sold it as a 'skies the limit' kind of concept, but I can't say we've really seen many ground breaking games. The ones we have gotten seem to have just came out, and the launch day consoles struggle to handle them! My PS4 sounds like its about to combust whenever I play God of War or Spider-man! My favorite of the bunch is easily my switch. It's not exactly a powerhouse, but it's quick and easy. Last winter break I would play Breath of the Wild until 3 am, go to bed, wake up and pick up right where I left off. My friends practically had to drag me out of the house! Plus portability and the fact the joycons could be 2 controllers made it so easy to play with friends. You can also buy a controller adapter on Amazon for about $25. It lets you use either a PS4 or Xbox one controller with the switch. Like you said the pro-controller's price is ridiculous, so I found this to be the best option.
  5. Aceinthehole

    The Letters

    Thank you both! It's definitely an easy fix, just something we wanted to make sure we get right. We definitely appreciate it!
  6. Aceinthehole

    The Letters

    Happy Birthday! Glad I could help make it even better!
  7. Aceinthehole

    The Letters

    I honestly hadn't thought of it like that. That's a great point.
  8. Aceinthehole

    The Letters

    Chapter 22: The Letters The longer we spent looking at pictures, the more in my own head I seemed to fall. I’m working on it all, but tonight, well, I might have to take one step forward and two steps back. Sure, looking at these pictures brings back good memories, but it also makes me miss my mom so damn much. Even now I still just feel so, so, blindsided. It was like one minute she was here and the next she was gone. “Time for a new picture.” Dizzy announced in an attempt to snap me out of my mind. “Right Adam?” “Yeah.” Adam quickly agreed. “We need something to hang up around here.” “Alright.” I accepted, forcing a smile as Dizzy pulled out his phone. He quickly snapped a group picture before taking a step back and taking one of me and Adam. “Alright Adam, what’s your number?” Dizzy teased with a smirk. “I’ll send it to you.” “I’m not giving you my number.” Adam quickly shot down. “Then I guess you’re not getting the pictures.” Dizzy giggled, swiping back and forth between them. “That’s a shame too, they look good.” “Don’t be stupid.” Adam warned in a stern voice. “Uh oh Artie, Adam’s getting strict again.” Dizzy encouraged, trying his hardest to get me to lighten up. “Just send them to me and I’ll send them to him.” I exhaled as I slowly rose to my feet. “Alright,” Dizzy accepted in a cautious breath. “and where are you going?” “Call Sadie and get ready for bed.” I explained as I started to walk towards the stairs. “Oh, okay.” Dizzy accepted, quickly looking over to Adam. Adam glanced over to me before looking back to Dizzy and signaling that it would be okay. “You really should give me your number though.” Dizzy began once more. “Why should I do that?” Adam asked, redirecting his attention to the T.V. as he turned it on. “Well I’m staying here for a little bit aren’t I?” I heard Dizzy begin to argue as I reached the top of the stairs. “So, what if something goes wrong?” “Nothing will go wrong.” Adam dismissed, but I reached the top of the stairs before I could hear any more of their conversation. As I shut my bedroom door behind me, it took everything in me to stop tears from falling. I have to keep it together. This, it’s not what my mom would want from me. She wouldn’t want me sitting around feeling bad for myself. I know she wouldn’t. I took another deep breath before taking out my phone and quickly calling Sadie. “Hey Artie.” She happily greeted as the call connected. “How are you doing?” “I’m good, I, we just got the envelope you sent.” I explained, trying my hardest to straighten out my thinking. “Oh good!” She exclaimed in an up-beat voice. “There were so many! I forgot just how many pictures Mary actually kept!” “Yeah.” I exhaled, thinking it all over once more. “You alright?” Sadie asked as concern began to enter her voice. “Yeah, I just miss her is all.” I confessed in a sigh. “Me too.” She tried to comfort. “Today I went to the shops for the first time without her, and it, it just didn’t feel the same, you know?” “Nothing feels the same.” I agreed in a quiet voice. “She’d want us to keep our heads up though.” Sadie reminded me. “It’s okay to feel sad, just remember that.” “I do.” I forced out. “I think Adam was really surprised she still had pictures of him.” I began, eager to shift the topic elsewhere. “Yeah, I guess I was a little surprised at first too. But looking back, I guess she never stopped missing him.” Sadie admitted, talking openly about their relationship for the first time in my life. “Then why didn’t she reach out?” I couldn’t help but ask. I noticed Sadie hesitate as she struggled to find the words. “It wasn’t that simple.” “To reach out to him?” I pressured, tired of being left in the dark. “My Mom loved writing letters, she couldn’t’ve found him and wrote him one?” “Artie,” Sadie began but paused once more. “the whole thing is just complicated.” “Why?” I continued to question. “That’s her brother, if she missed him she could’ve reached out to him! Just because he’s gay doesn’t mean you have to exile him! How can you say she missed him if she never spoke about him?!” “Because she did reach out!” Sadie finally snapped. “What?” Was all I could manage out. “Look,” She sighed. “I’ve already said too much. It’s not my place to tell you, if you really want to know, well you can ask him.” “He’ll never tell me.” I exhaled in a defeated voice. “For once I just want answers.” Sadie let out a deep breath as she heard the distress in my voice. “It was a little while after she had given birth and he had been kicked out.” She confessed. “She tracked down the place he was staying at and sent a couple of letters, I’m pretty sure she even sent a picture of you.” “And?” I led, eager to know what came next. “That’s it.” She replied, unsure how much more to tell me. “He never wrote back.” “Why not?” I asked without thinking. “That’s something you’ll have to ask him.” Sadie answered, not willing to share any more. “Maybe he never got the letters.” I tried to excuse. “Maybe,” She repeated. “but Mary was pretty confident she had found him.” “Oh.” I exhaled, unsure what to be feeling about the new information. “He misses her a lot too.” “I’m sure he does.” Sadie said as she thought something over. “He’s taking good care of you, right?” “He made me try sushi tonight.” I complained in a sigh. “But yeah, he’s been good at this whole thing. He’s always there for me when I need it.” “Good.” Sadie quickly replied. “Because if he’s not I’ll come over there and kick his butt!” “What do you think of him?” I forced out without thinking. “Aside from him being gay. What do you honestly think of him?” “Well, he teased us a lot growing up, but I guess that’s just what little brothers do.” She complained. “But when we became teenagers, I don’t know.” As her silenced filled the air I felt a million questions hit my mind. “You don’t know what?” I pressured, eager to hear more. “He just changed.” She hesitated once more. “He was always there for people. If you were bored and wanted to talk, everyone knew you went to Adam Price. He always had some crazy idea that he could go on about for hours,” She explained as a smile began to cross my face. “or he’d want to go on some adventure that’d always get everyone involved in trouble.” “You were friends with him, weren’t you?” I asked in a surprised voice. “We grew up together.” She answered, side stepping the question. “And because he’s gay, you guys let that all fall apart?” I couldn’t help but question. “You know how serious that is.” Sadie tried to remind me. “I’m starting to worry you’re losing your faith.” “I’m not.” I confidently answered. “I’m just gaining a new understanding.” “Now you sound like him.” She complained in a sigh. “But that wasn’t the only reason. He was just too, too, outspoken. Always talking about what God should be, always questioning His existence. Sunday school with Adam was a nightmare. It all just turned him off to us.” “And who’s us?” I asked once more. “You, my Mom, and that other guy from the picture?” “Other guy?” Sadie repeated as she thought it over. “There was a picture of you guys outside some barn, and there was another guy with you.” I quickly explained, eager to get my answer. “Oh him, he’s no one.” Sadie quickly answered in a lie. “Just someone we grew up with.” “Then what’s his name?” I pressured in a serious voice. “That’s really not important.” She insisted. “Why don’t you ask Adam about this? Maybe he’ll be able to give you a better answer.” “I thought he was no one. Why does Adam have a better answer about no one?” I continued to question. “Adams rubbing off on you in all the worst ways.” Sadie complained, but I froze as a soft knocking began on my door. “Can I come in?” Adam asked as the knocking stopped. “Uh, yeah.” I accepted, nervous about how much he had overheard. “Oh, sorry,” he apologized as he pushed the door open. “I didn’t realize you were still on the phone.” “Yeah, I-I can put it on speaker if you want.” I offered. I could tell they both went to reject the idea, but I clicked the button before either could say anything. “Say hi Adam.” “Artie,” Adam clicked his tongue. “I don’t think this is really necessary.” “Why? Can’t say hi to an old friend?” I provoked, seeing how he would react. “What have you done to my sweet Artie?” Sadie finally spoke up. “He was so well mannered when he was here.” “That good old school Texas repression wore off.” Adam teased as he took a seat on the edge of my bed. “Don’t fill his head with that.” Sadie warned. “You had a great upbringing Artie. Nothing was wrong with what we taught you here.” Adam rolled his eyes and made a face, causing me to let out a short laugh. “Adam!” She exclaimed. “What?” He groaned. “I didn’t say anything.” “I know you made a face!” She called him out. “You haven’t changed!” “Neither have you.” Adam shrugged. “Sadie was always scared when we did anything.” “Because you always got us in trouble!” She pointed out, but I could tell she wasn’t taking it too seriously. “You always needed the push.” Adam smirked as he thought back to his past. Sadie let out a small laugh before catching herself. “You better be taking care of him.” She warned in the strictest voice she could manage. “He’s a special kid. He was near the top of his class here.” “He’s alright.” Adam teased, looking over to me. “Got a smart mouth though.” “Not my Artie.” Sadie defended. “Maybe he just doesn’t like you.” “That’s probably what it is.” I played along, finally starting to ease up. “See!” Adam exclaimed. “I’m gonna wash your mouth out with soap.” “You already did that with sushi!” I exclaimed drawing another laugh from Sadie. “You’re such a whiner.” Adam remarked with a playful smile. “As much as I would love to hear you guys fight I think I should let you both go.” Sadie interrupted, having had enough for one night. “Make sure you call me again soon, alright Artie?” “I will.” I answered, turning off speaker phone and pulled the phone back up towards my ear. “Good, I love you Artie.” “I love you too.” I replied, before clicking off the phone and looking back to Adam. “Feeling better?” Adam asked as our eyes connected. “Yeah.” I swayed my head. “It’s alright to be upset every now and then over it,” Adam began to comfort. “but if you don’t talk to us, we can’t help.” “I just needed some space this time.” I shrugged, not wanting to get into it. “Alright.” Adam slowly nodded. “I can respect that.” I fell quiet as I struggled to build up the courage for my questions. “If that’s all then I’ll let you get ready for bed.” Adam instructed as he went to stand. “Why are you keeping secrets again?” I finally forced out, drawing his gaze right back at me. “What secrets am I keeping?” Adam asked, letting his weight fall right back down to the bed. “Just, stuff.” I hesitated, unsure on how much to push. “Is this because Sadie told you we were friends or something?” He groaned. “Because I didn’t think that was too much of a secret. We grew up together after all.” “With her amongst other people.” I tried to pressure. “Artie, if you have something to say you should just say it.” He instructed in a strong voice. “Nothing in particular.” I lied as I noticed Dizzy approach the open doorway. “Do you have anything about your past you think I need to hear?” “Me and your Mom used to go to early morning mass so we wouldn’t have to be seen with our parents.” Adam shrugged. “I guess that’s a fun old story.” “Gee,” I sighed as he danced around the topic. “thanks.” “Anytime.” He remarked, standing up and approaching the door. “You sure you don’t have anything to say.” “Positive.” I let out, but we both knew I was lying. “Alrighty then.” He shrugged, redirecting his attention to Dizzy. “You have five minutes up here, then I expect you right back downstairs. And the door stays open!” “We got it, we got it. Dizzy dismissed as he took a few steps inside. He hesitated for a few seconds but as he heard Adam start descending the stairs took a long look at me. “You’re never going to get answers from him that way.” “I know.” I complained. “I just want him to share because he wants to, not because I’m forcing him to.” “And you think that’ll work?” Dizzy asked, taking a seat where Adam had just been. “I don’t know.” I answered, struggling to put a solid plan together. “It’d just be nice for him to let me in for once. It feels like every week I find out he’s hiding more and more from me.” “Maybe it’s for a good reason.” Dizzy suggested as he began to move closer to me. “So now you’re taking his side?” I complained, breaking eye contact and looking over to the pictures on my nightstand. “I’m not taking any sides,” He quickly tried to clarify. “just thinking out loud. Maybe he’s waiting for you to be in a position where you could understand it better, or when you’re a bit more, stable.” “Stable?” I repeated, quickly looking back over to him. “Maybe that’s not the best word for it.” Dizzy let out as he thought it over. “I’m just trying to say, you’ve been through so much these past couple of months. Maybe he wants things to calm down before he starts throwing more curveballs at you.” “Maybe,” I agreed, carefully running through it in my head. “but then he could tell me that.” “That’s true.” Dizzy nodded. “What do you want to know anyway?” As I hesitated I felt Dizzy start to lean against me. “Come on, you share and I’ll share.” “Well Sadie told me my Mom reached out a little after they both got kicked out.” I began in a heavy breath. “He never wrote back to her. But what if he did? What if he did and he talked her into moving out here? Then maybe, well, forget it.” I backed off as a blush started to form on my face. “She’d still be here?” Dizzy asked in a brave breath. “Yeah.” I admitted as I broke eye contact. “Not that I’m putting that on him, it’s not his fault, just, what if?” “What if he wrote back and they didn’t get along?” Dizzy provoked as he tried to regain eye contact. “What if Adam wasn’t in a good place and they started fighting. What if that made her put custody of you with her parents.” “Yeah.” I let out as it all began to race around in my head. “I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying what if is a slippery slope, you know?” He asked, finally sliding up enough to where I could lean my head against his shoulder. “I’m sure Adam has a good reason for not writing back, and I’m sure he’ll tell you when he’s ready.” “Yeah.” I let out once more. “He’s also keeping that old picture a secret.” I complained. “The one of him as a teenager. Sadie wouldn’t tell me who that other guy was either.” “Well maybe there’s a good reason for that too.” Dizzy tried to support. “I know what you’re thinking, but do you really want to know?” “If that’s my dad?” I asked, finally saying the idea out loud. “Yeah.” Dizzy exhaled, put off by the idea. “I want to know.” I nodded my head. “I’ve always wanted to know.” I quietly admitted. “Careful, he might not be what you expect.” Dizzy warned in a serious voice. “You’re lucky with Adam. He, he’s such a good guardian.” “I am.” I quickly nodded my head, not wanting to seem ungrateful. “That’s why we’re still going through with that dinner plan, right?” “Have you called Lindsay yet?” Dizzy asked, already knowing the answer. “I’ll do that tomorrow, today was just too crazy.” I lied, knowing it had completely slipped from my mind. “Anyway, what were you going to share?” “Eh, it’s not too important, it’ll just make you forget to call Lindsay again.” He teased with a smile. “Come on!” I pressured in a whine. “Alright,” He sighed. “I’m worried I was a little too hard on Ky.” He confessed. “Not that what he said to you was okay.” He quickly clarified. “I get it.” I nodded my head. “He was just worried about you.” “Yeah.” Dizzy thought it over once more. “He just has to learn to accept your role in my life. That I’m not going to go to him to fix everything anymore. That’s kind of what I like about you.” “That I fix things?” I asked, not understanding his point. “No,” He quickly rejected. “that you’re so thoughtful, and sweet, and you treat every problem like it’s your own. You just always get where I’m coming from and I don’t know, it makes me only want to go to you.” “Then maybe you should tell him that.” I encouraged. “Just not exactly in that way.” “That’s the hard part!” Dizzy exclaimed. “My best friend still has feelings for my boyfriend! And anything I say just makes it feel like I’m rubbing that in his face!” “I know.” I supported, trying to keep a calm voice. “It’s a hard conversation to have, but you have to have it. Even if it feels like you’re rubbing it in his face. He has to know you’re taken care of.” “Will you be upset if I go hang out with him for a little while after school?” Dizzy asked in a cautious voice. “You don’t need my permission.” I couldn’t help but laugh. “Besides, I have baseball practice.” “Maybe we’ll come watch.” He teased with a smirk. “Alright boys!” Adam called out from down the hall. “It’s time for Dizzy to come back downstairs.” “But we haven’t even spoken about important stuff yet.” Dizzy complained in a groan. “Like what?” I asked as he slowly pulled away from me. “Like how you were acting before.” He forced out. “It, it was concerning.” “I just needed some space is all.” I shrugged. “It’s all still kind of hard for me.” “I know.” Dizzy accepted as he gently grabbed my hand. “You can talk to me about it whenever you need.” He offered in a caring voice. “I will.” I quickly nodded my head. “Good,” He forced a smile. “and no checking on me tonight. Get an actual good night’s sleep, we have school tomorrow.” He complained. “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.” I swayed my head. “Dizzy!” Adam shouted again. “I’m coming! I’m coming!” Dizzy yelled back as he finally crawled off my bed and to the hall. “He may be a good guardian, but he hates fun.” Dizzy groaned as he disappeared out of my doorway. I smiled at his words before eventually getting up and ready for bed, making sure to stop downstairs to give Dizzy a proper goodnight. Something that Adam made sure to loosely monitor from the kitchen. He can put on the strict act all he wants, I know he’s thrilled with me and Dizzy. I know he’s happy to have Dizzy staying here. To have someone who cares so much about me around. --- --- That night sleep came easy, but the dream I had, well it left me stunned. There I sat in the passenger seat of our old jeep, driving through the empty Texas desert with my mother. Reliving one of the last few memories with her I had. “So,” I began as I watched our small town starting to disappear in the distance. “where are we off to?” “I don’t know.” Mom tried to play dumb. “You tell me.” “Dallas?” I guessed with a hopeful smile. “You’re finally taking me into the city?” “You wish.” She laughed, glancing over to me then back to the road. “I’m not sure you’re too ready for a big city.” “Yeah.” I accepted in a sigh. “But soon?” “Soon.” She nodded her head. “For now, we’re going to go enjoy nature.” “So the mountains then.” I guessed in even more excited voice. “Something like that.” She smiled. “I promise it’ll be worth the trip out.” “Alright.” I accepted, looking down at the book I was holding. “Why didn’t we bring Sadie?” “You know she’s not a big fan of the outdoors.” Mom pointed out. “Besides, I like spending the evening with my best friend.” “Me too.” I agreed as I felt my smile grow. I noticed her watch me out of the corner of her eye as I played with the book in my hands. “I still don’t understand how you don’t get car sick from that.” She observed as I found my place in the thick novel. “What can I say? I’ve got an iron stomach.” I teased in a laugh. “That’s such a lie.” She shook her head. “You can barely handle anything remotely spicy!” “That’s because your food either doesn’t have any spice, or it only has spice!” I jokingly complained. “That stuff should come with a warning!” “You’re a southern boy.” She shrugged her shoulders. “You need to learn how to handle your spices.” “No thanks.” I shot down as I made a disgusted face. “I’m good with the whole farming thing for now.” “You do really like that.” She nodded her head. “Think you’ll be a farmer when you grow up? You are really good with animals.” “Maybe.” I swayed my head. “But I, I think I want to teach. I could even teach biology and stuff, I could teach about animals.” “Arthur Price I think that’s a fantastic idea.” She encouraged in an excited voice. “Don’t rule out teaching English either. Imagine getting to read books with your own class.” “That’d be so much fun!” I exclaimed as I caught onto her excitement. “And I could always just keep a chicken coop of my own or something like that.” “I’ll even help you build it.” She supported. “So long as you stay around here. Don’t let no pretty girl pick you up and whisk you away from me.” “Never.” I quickly agreed. “Even the prettiest girl in Texas?” She asked, glancing over to me. “Even the prettiest girl in the country.” I nodded my head. “Besides, I don’t want a girl that would make me leave my Mom. What does that say about her?” “I don’t know,” Mom answered with a proud smile. “but I think it means I’ve raised you right.” “You did an alright job.” I played along before looking down and finally starting to read. “Woah, Woah,” Mom called out. “You know the rules, if you’re going to read around me, you’re going to read out loud.” “Yes Ma’am.” I happily agreed before starting to loudly read the words off the page. Time seemed to fly by from there. It’s funny, I know she doesn’t care for fantasy books, but not once did she stop me. Mom let me read as much as I want, for as long as I wanted. Until finally, we reached an open field near the mountain she wanted. “You’re taking me star gazing again, aren’t you?” I asked as we pulled into a dark field. “You know it.” She cheerfully answered. “Why? Disappointed?” “Not at all!” I exclaimed as she threw the car in park. As we both went to get out she made sure to hand me the bag she had tried her hardest to keep secret from me. “Set it up little man.” She encouraged, eager to see if I would do it right. I froze up a bit at first, before snapping into action and setting up the blanket the way I had seen her a thousand times before. First the lantern on the ground, then the big old tattered blanket and finally the bug spray and radio! “You’re forgetting something.” She provoked, gesturing back towards the bag. “Am I?” I asked, reaching back in to find a plastic container at the bottom. “Of course.” I couldn’t help but smile as I pulled out a package of chocolate chip cookies. “You’re favorite.” She smiled, taking a seat on the blanket. “Thank you.” I couldn’t help but let out as I took the seat next to her. “You deserve it.” She supported but hesitated as she saw the short sleeve shirt I was wearing. “Did you bring a jacket like I told you?” “I’m alright.” I lied as the cool night air began to take over. “You’re so full of it.” She shook her head, before pulling me in close. “I guess I’m stuck keeping you warm.” “I guess so.” I shrugged, comfortably laying into my Mother. “I love you.” “I love you too.” She said without hesitation as we looked up to the star filled night sky. We both grew quiet as she turned on the radio, but I never bothered to scoot away from her. Most boys my age wouldn’t be caught dead this close to their mother, but not me. She’s always been there for me, and I’ll never be embarrassed of that. Besides right now, well, it’s like heaven. --- --- “Time to wake up!” A voice shouted, ripping me out of my dream as the bed under me began to shake. “No!” I exclaimed in a panicked voice, before I could even piece together what was happening. “No!” I grumbled, as my body started to force me awake. “No.” I exhaled one more time in a defeated voice. “Woh,” Dizzy backed off as he heard the pain in my voice. “you alright?” I stayed quiet as I looked over to the hand drawn picture of me and my Mom then buried my face back into my pillow. “Come on Artie,” Dizzy tried to encourage. “talk to me.” I took another few moments before finally picking my head back up. “There’s nothing to talk about.” I dismissed as I slowly sat up in my bed. “It doesn’t feel that way.” Dizzy said, watching me closely. “Was it a bad dream?” “Something like that.” I mumbled, getting to my feet and heading over to my dresser. “You’ve got to give me something here.” Dizzy pleaded as his concerns began to take over. “Or, or I’m calling Adam.” “You’re going to tell my uncle on me?” I asked in an unamused voice. “I don’t want to.” Dizzy argued, trying his hardest to force eye contact. “But if I have to, I will.” “It was just a dream alright?” I began to snap as I finally looked at him. “For once could you just give me a little space?” “I, yeah,” Dizzy hesitated as he took a few steps back. “sorry, I’m, I’m just gonna go sit downstairs and wait for you.” I let out a deep breath as he quickly made his way out of the door and down the hallway. My dream seemed to haunt me as I got changed while guilt slowly dripped into my mind from yelling at Dizzy. Good job Artie, way to take it out on one of the people that have been there for you since you got here! I made sure to take a few more minutes to calm myself down before finally making my way down the stairs. “Sorry.” I began as I saw Dizzy quietly sitting and staring off. “I didn’t mean any of that, I’m just, overwhelmed.” “It’s alright.” He quietly let out. “I get it.” “No, seriously,” I began to insist. “I really didn’t mean that.” “It’s fine I can be a lot,” He started to put himself down. “I’ll work on it.” “Don’t.” I comforted, taking a seat on the coffee table across from him. “That, it’s what I like about you. I like always having you around. I just, I took something out on you I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.” “Can you at least tell me what it was?” Dizzy asked, looking up into my eyes. “I had a dream about my Mom.” I finally confessed. “But I really don’t want to talk about it.” “I understand.” He nodded and rose to his feet. “We should leave before we’re late.” “Wait.” I let out, before quickly standing up and pulling him in close. “I’m sorry.” I repeated once more. “I’m really sorry. I really like you. Everything about you.” “It’s okay.” He accepted as he held me tightly. “Sometimes I forget this all just happened to you. You just seem to take it so well most of the time, that I guess I don’t realize you could use some space.” I nodded and let my head rest on his shoulder for a few moments. “I wish you could’ve met her.” I finally spoke. “I do too.” He agreed as he slowly pulled away and grabbed my hand. “We should get going though, I don’t think she would want you to be late for school.” “You really want to go to school today.” I teased as I grabbed my bag with my spare hand. “I really don’t want detention today.” He corrected. “Besides, how would your coach take it if you missed practice for detention?” “Good point.” I accepted as we both began to move a little faster. Yet, as we walked through the park we both couldn’t help but slow down. We fell quiet and just let the city speak for us. --- --- When we finally made it to school we had a few minutes to spare. Sometimes I really don’t know what would happen if I didn’t live right around the corner! As we walked through homeroom I noticed Ky’s head immediately shoot up. “Sorry.” He began before anyone could say anything. “It’s alright.” Dizzy accepted, taking a seat next to him as I sat with Charlotte. “I’m sorry too, I, we were all just on edge.” “Way too on edge.” I agreed, turning back to look at them both. “We shouldn’t be taking this out on each other.” Dizzy lectured in a confident voice. “So, we’re sorry too.” “Let’s all just forget about it?” Ky asked with a hopeful look. “Yup.” I happily accepted. “Why don’t we hang out after school?” Dizzy asked as he focused his attention on Ky. “Just us.” “Yeah?” Ky asked, caught off guard by the question. “Artie can come too if you guys want.” “Eh, he get’s annoying after a while.” Dizzy teased, lightly pushing my seat forward with his foot. “You guys have a nice afternoon to yourselves.” I encouraged. “I have baseball anyway.” “So, then I get left alone?” Charlotte complained as I looked back over to her. “You really want to put up with them?” I asked, knowing exactly what the answer would be. “Shut up Artie.” She playfully dismissed. I went to say something but had to flash her a wink as Ms. Mowry started homeroom. She doesn’t know everything that’s happened over the past couple of days, but I’ve texted her enough to piece it together. Don’t get me wrong, I totally respected Dizzy’s privacy, but I needed someone to vent to! Besides, she probably just thinks he fought with his mom and needs a place to stay for a bit. Out of all my school days so far, somehow this one seemed to be the calmest. A few people asked Dizzy about the bruises on his face, but he just turned it into a joke. At first, he told people he got a little too handsy with me, but I shot that one down before it could get around! Eventually he settled on the story he had originally told me and Adam. He was out tagging and ran into the wrong people. Just as I had thought, no one questioned it, and honestly, I don’t think anyone actually cared. They’re all too concerned with their own appearances to be worried about Dizzy Armstrong’s. When baseball rolled around it was a welcomed change. I left everything behind and just practiced. The dream about my Mom, snapping at Dizzy, Adam keeping secrets, none of it seemed to matter when I was out on that field. The only thing that was on my mind was getting better. When Jose talked me into joining the team he said it was just for fun, but that’s not how I see it now. We may not be that great a team, but I want to win! It’s a huge longshot we’ll make it to the state championship, but if we could at least qualify for the playoffs I’ll be happy! --- ­--- I took the walk home from practice a little slower than usual. I’ve needed some quiet time to really think things over, and I guess this is my best chance! Yet even then, I just couldn’t keep my thoughts straight. I know I was thinking a lot about my Mom last night, but did I really have to dream about her? As if this hasn’t been hard enough, my head has to go and make it even harder? “Hey,” Adam greeted as I finally made it home. “how was practice?” “Fine.” I answered, looking at him then away. “Dizzy’s not home yet?” “No, should he be?” Adam asked, as I watched him slowly grow concerned. “He’s with Ky.” I shook my head. “I just didn’t know how long they were hanging out for.” “Oh, that’s good.” Adam nodded. “Everything with you okay?” “Yeah,” I cautiously answered, worried that Dizzy had actually reached out to him about this morning. “why?” “You just seem more worn out than usual.” He observed, starting to watch me closely. “Why don’t you come hang out for a little while?” “I should probably shower and start some homework.” I exhaled, trying to find the best excuse possible. “Just come sit for a little bit.” Adam insisted, keeping his eyes on me. “I have something I want to talk to you about.” “Alright.” I reluctantly accepted, finally looking into his eyes. “Still mad at me?” He asked with a small smile as I took my usual seat on the couch. “I’m not mad.” I shrugged. “I just don’t know why you’re still keeping secrets.” “And I don’t know why you won’t just ask what you want to know.” He pressured, but I stayed quiet. “Because that’s kind of what I’m hoping to get to the bottom of right now.” “Then that’s up to you.” I replied, refusing to give in. He let out a deep breath as he continued to watch me. “I’m not a mind reader.” He finally began. “I can’t just magically predict what you want to know, and last time I waited for you to come forward with stuff. Well you kind of had a breakdown.” “I didn’t have a breakdown.” I lied, looking away once more. “And it’s not like I didn’t ask stuff before that. You just refused to answer.” “I know, and I’m trying to learn from that. So, here’s your chance.” He explained, but I stayed quiet. “So, then what’s the plan here?” He asked, refusing to let up. “Sulk around here angry at me for questions I don’t know?” “It’s been a long day,” I began in an unamused voice. “and you’re really pushing my buttons right now.” He let out a short laugh as I grew serious with him for the first time, but quickly covered it up. “I’m sorry, I just,” He paused to think it over. “I don’t say anything, and you get mad at me. I give you the chance to ask things and you still get mad. It’s like I can’t win with you right now.” “Fine,” I grumbled as I looked back up at him. “it’s shitty that after we had that whole big talk about letting each other in, that you left me on the outside again. That it even had to get to this point for you to finally let me ask things.” I began to rant. “I mean you always tell me about how everyone in Texas left me in the dark, but here you are doing the same thing!” “That might be the first time I’ve heard you curse.” He observed as my words bounced around his head. “Forget it.” I groaned, but as I went to stand up he reached out to grab me. “Sit.” He instructed, finally starting to take me seriously. “You’re mad that I wasn’t up front with you about something right away?” He asked as I nodded my head. “I’m sorry,” He apologized. “but you have to understand that’s just how I am. It wasn’t anything personal, and it’s not like I don’t trust you. I just, I want to keep you safe, you know?” “Yeah.” I finally began to relax but kept my eyes down. “From now on, when you feel you’re ready, come to me and I promise I’ll be more open. I mean it this time too.” He insisted but let out a deep breath as he thought over his next few words. “If I had to guess what your question is about, it’s about that old picture of me and your Mom outside that barn.” “So you did know the question?” I asked, looking back up at him. “I had a feeling.” He confessed. “But I wanted to hear you ask about it before I said anything.” “Why?” I couldn’t help but let out. “It’s just a big question I guess.” Adam stalled as he began to anxiously tap his fingers against the couch. “I mean, I’m amazed Sadie even included that picture in the first place. I don’t know if she didn’t see it or what, then again I could’ve been less obvious about the whole damn thing.” “Stop stalling.” I warned, just wanting my answer already. “Who was that man with you?” Adam hesitated, but as I finally looked up locked eyes with me. “He’s your dad.” Adam confessed. “His name is Ezra, and we all grew up together.” “Oh.” I exhaled, getting the answer my mind had already come to. “What was he like?” “He was a good guy growing up.” Adam swayed his head. “Could be a little manipulative from time to time, but he and I were pretty close.” I nodded my head but stayed quiet. “He showed his true colors when he found out Mary was pregnant though. Said he’d stick around then just up and left with no warning.” “You hate him for that?” I couldn’t help but ask. “Yeah.” He confessed, breaking eye contact with me. “He left you and Mary when you guys needed him the most. I can never forgive him for that.” I gulped hard as it all raced around in my head. “I don’t think I can either.” I finally spoke up. “You have every right to feel that way.” He supported as he looked back at me. “Would you have been there if she asked you to?” I forced out as my heart began to race. “If I could’ve been.” He nodded his head. “Then why didn’t you write back?” I asked, finally speaking the words that had really been bothering me. The truth is, I only cared about learning who Ezra was. I always knew what my feeling about him would be. I always knew, name or not, I couldn’t forgive him for abandoning us. But Adam not writing back after my Mom reached out? It just makes me feel, betrayed. “What?” Adam let out, shocked by the question. “When my Mom wrote to you,” I managed out in a shaky voice. “why didn’t you write back?” “Who told you she wrote to me?” He asked, but I refused to answer. “Artie, I, is that why you’ve been mad at me?” “I meant it when I said I didn’t like you keeping secrets,” I explained as my eyes fell once more. “but this, I, it’s just bothering me.” I exhaled. “Like, a lot.” “Okay.” He quietly said but grew silent as he leaned back in his seat. “I shouldn’t’ve’ asked.” I started to back off as I saw how hard the question was hitting him. “Just, forget I said anything.” “No, it’s alright.” He replied, trying his hardest to snap out of the spell he had suddenly fallen under. “I just, I forgot she sent letters I guess.” “You forgot?” I repeated, surprised by what I was hearing. “Yeah.” He confirmed in another soft voice. “When I got those letters, I, I wasn’t the brother she knew.” He began to explain, trying his hardest to phrase it the best way possible. “I was changing, a lot. I had just moved in with the Rites, and I, I just wasn’t doing good.” He finally confessed. “Everything sucked. Sure, I wanted out of Texas, but I was getting thrown out. It just, wasn’t easy.” “You don’t have to…” “It’s okay.” He interrupted. “I want to answer your question.” He insisted, starting to finally find his rhythm. “Because I felt rejected from my family, and that meant by Mary too. When I got the letters I expected an apology, and I guess I kind of got one, but she also told me I could still change. She insisted I could still be straight if I found God again, and I, I just couldn’t keep hearing that.” He exhaled in a heavy breath. “I never stopped loving your Mom, but I needed space from her thinking. Just until I could find who I was again.” He explained, now confident in his words. “And when I finally got there, I just figured she was too busy with you to want to hear from me.” “She wasn’t.” I shook my head, fighting off all the emotions swirling around within me. “Hindsight is twenty-twenty.” He said, now trying his hardest to keep eye contact with me. “I’m sorry if you feel like I ignored your Mom, or if you feel like I ignored you. I just, I had to focus on myself for a while.” “I shouldn’t’ve doubted you.” I decided as I began to piece it all together. “I, I’m sorry she rejected you.” “Don’t be.” He quickly dismissed before I could say anything else. “She was the only person from Texas to reach out and see if I was okay. Everything she did was out of love, and that’s how I got you. I don’t know if she made peace with my sexuality or not, but she trusted me with you, and that’s the most love she ever could’ve shown me.” I nodded but struggled to fend off yet another question. “How soon after getting kicked out did you leave Texas?” Once more he took a moment to think. “I only had to stay a day or two, but it was enough for word to get around.” He clarified. “I’ll never forget that. Everywhere I went, people just gave me the most disgusted looks. Stores and restaurant wouldn’t even let me in. The only reason the hotel did was because they needed the money.” “How did you handle that?” I let out without thinking. “Not well at first,” He shook his head. “not well for a while actually. But eventually you have to make an important decision. Are you living your life for them, or for yourself? They can judge me all they want, this is my life, and I’m going to live it how I want.” “I’m sorry,” Was all I could think to say as I realized how hard it must’ve been. “and thank you, I, I don’t know where I’d be without you.” “Well I don’t know where I’d be without you.” He reflected as he forced a smile. “I’m sorry you felt like I don’t trust you. I,” He let out a nervous laugh as once more he found himself hesitating before he spoke. “I don’t exactly let people in easy, but you, you broke down that wall faster than anyone else in my life.” I nodded my head as I realized just how close we had grown in just over a month. I know I just met him, but I’d be completely lost without him. “Well you picked me up when I was at my lowest,” I began, growing nervous myself. “I owe you so much for that.” “You really have to stop saying that.” He shook his head. “You don’t owe me a damn thing.” He rejected, standing up and stepping forward to give me a hug. Without hesitation I accepted. It’s funny, a few weeks ago we were so awkward about hugging one another, but right now it feels, it feels like what my dream felt like. If I thought I was going to give him a good dinner with Mason before, well now I’m going to give him the best of his life! Because he deserves to be happy. He deserves a good boyfriend. He deserves to be taken care of, instead of taking care of everyone else.
  9. Aceinthehole

    A Night In

    Chapter 21: A Night In As our night carried on I couldn’t help but watch Adam closer than usual. Today the world fell on his shoulders, but you would never know by the way he’s acting. His parents trying to fight for custody, Dizzy’s sensitive state, it’s become his weight to carry, and somehow, he’s forcing his way forward with a smile on his face. “So what are we doing for dinner?” Adam asked as he noticed me and Dizzy beginning to fall into our own heads. “Pizza?” “We always have pizza.” I whined, not even bothering to look up from the book in my hands. “Sushi?” Adam asked, finally getting me to look up, but all I could manage was a disgusted face. “You don’t like it?” “There’s no way he’s ever had it.” Dizzy interjected, watching my expression closely. “It doesn’t matter if I’ve had it or not.” I complained, looking back down at the pages in my hand. “I’m not eating raw fish.” “At least try it,” Adam pressured. “there’s a great place right around here I can go pick up from.” “Would that great place be the bay?” I asked in a sarcastic voice. “I mean if we’re going to eat raw fish, we might as well catch it ourselves!” “There’s that Texas ignorance I love so much.” Dizzy teased, nudging my foot with his. “At least try it, it’s totally safe.” “I’ll get dumplings too,” Adam decided in a confident voice. “but you’re trying sushi.” “I’m not.” I insisted in a quiet mumble. “What about you Dizzy?” Adam asked, shifting his attention to the teen next to me. “What kind of rolls do you like?” “Oh I,” Dizzy paused, not knowing what to say. “you don’t have to worry about me. I can go out and get food for myself.” “Don’t be ridiculous.” Adam dismissed before Dizzy could say anything else. “We’ll have enough food to go around. Now what kind of rolls do you like?” “Really I,” Dizzy began, but hesitated as their eyes connected. “spicy tuna or dragon.” He finally answered. “But I, I’ll pay you back.” “No you won’t.” Adam rejected as he stood up and walked towards the front door. “Don’t worry Artie, I’ll get you some rolls you like.” “I don’t even know what that means.” I groaned as the front door opened then quickly shut behind him. “Like sushi rolls.” Dizzy clarified as I rolled my eyes. “Oh come on, sushi is good.” “Easy for you to say.” I complained in a sigh. “Oh please, if we were in Texas I’d be trying all sorts of food.” He argued, slowly moving closer to me. “That’s because we cook our food there.” I protested, trying my hardest to ignore his advances. “What are you going to do? Complain about brisket or chicken fried steak?” “No, but my doctor will.” Dizzy swayed his head. “It’s amazing Texans even make it past twenty!” “We have healthy foods too.” I replied, finally looking up at him. “We just cook them.” “You’re really hung up on this raw thing.” Dizzy giggled, but I simply looked right back down at my book. “Come on Artie,” He begin to whine. “what’s wrong?” “Nothings wrong.” I lied. “It’s just been a long day.” “At least talk about it.” He insisted, leaning his body against mine. “It’s not good to keep it all inside.” I let out a sigh, knowing he had a point. “I just don’t get why my grandparents feel the need to try and get me back.” I finally answered. “Did they not make me miserable enough in their two days with me?” “Was it that bad?” Dizzy asked as his smile quickly faded. “It was a nightmare.” I answered, looking back down at my book. “But you don’t need to hear about that right now. You have your own problems.” “So what?” He shrugged without any hesitation. “Your problems are my problems, and my problems are your problems.” I put my book down as I heard those words and looked back over to him. “If that’s true then I’m getting a bad deal.” I finally eased up. “Oh yeah.” Dizzy played along. “You have no idea how much trouble I create for myself in a given week.” “What are we going to do?” I finally asked as our eyes connected. “Exactly what Adam told us to.” Dizzy confidently answered. “Look at the positive side of life. He’s got us both covered.” “Yeah” I agreed before falling quiet for a moment or two. “We have to make it up to him somehow.” “Already racking my brain for ways.” Dizzy happily agreed. “What if we order a male dancer to come,” “No.” I rejected before he could finish the sentence. “No.” I repeated as he went to open his mouth once more. “Fine,” He conceded, making sure to fake disappointment. “then what’s your bright idea?” “Well,” I began to think it over. “we could cook dinner for him and a date.” Dizzy slowly nodded his head. “I’m listening.” He encouraged. “Well there’s this waiter we met that gave Adam his number,” I began in an excited voice. “and I’m like ninety percent sure that Adams been sneaking around and hanging out with him.” “Certain enough to invite him over to surprise Adam?” Dizzy asked with a cautious look. “If you’re wrong we could really mess this up for him.” “I’ll check with Lindsay first.” I decided, knowing he had a good point. “But I’m pretty certain.” “Alright,” Dizzy shrugged. “then that’s the plan.” “Yeah.” I agreed as a smile began to grow on my face. “I’m noticing you’re very good at planning romantic things for other people, but not with me.” Dizzy teased with a smirk. “Oh please, who else did I plan something romantic for?” I asked in a giggle. “People.” He answered in a quiet voice. “Then let me make that up to you.” I teased, leaning in and letting our lips connect. Yet before we could get too comfortable I heard a knocking sound come from the door. “You’ve gotta be kidding me!” Dizzy protested in a sigh. “Who could that be?” “I don’t know.” I shrugged. “Maybe your Mom got worried again?” “Well go get rid of her.” He instructed, jumping off the couch and heading back towards the hallway. “We only have so much time before Adam gets back.” “Because that’s the big concern here.” I rolled my eyes before standing up and heading towards the front door. “Ky?” I asked in surprise as I pulled the front door open. “Where is he?” Ky exhaled with a concerned look. “Who?” I tried to play stupid. “My Uncle?” “Dizzy.” Ky answered with an intense look. “I just got off the phone with his Mom, and she said you insisted he’s not here.” “Because he’s not.” I shrugged, but kept my ground as he tried to take a step inside. “Then where is he?” Ky asked, not believing anything I had said. “Who knows. Dizzy comes and goes as he pleases.” I reminded him in a confident voice. “But he’ll be back?” Ky dug, keeping the intense look in his eyes. “Maybe.” I swayed my head. “Or maybe he’ll spend the night at your place, or Charlotte’s.” “This isn’t a game.” Ky warned as he forced eye contact. “If you know where he is you should just say it.” “I already told you, I don’t.” I insisted, starting to match the intensity in his voice. “Then can you at least tell me what the hell is going on?” He questioned, refusing to go away easy. I lightly shook my head and let out a deep sigh. “It’s not my place.” “Don’t give me that crap.” He quickly rejected. “What’s going on with him?” “I get you’re worried,” I began in a calm voice. “but I promise you he’s fine. When he’s ready to tell you what’s going on, he will.” Ky rolled his eyes and let his stare grow even more intense. “I’m not playing these games with you Artie.” “I’m not playing any games.” I shrugged, starting to get annoyed myself. “I’ve told you everything I could. If you’re mad about that you can take it up with Dizzy when you see him.” “You’re trying to help, and that’s great.” Ky began in a pissed off voice. “But you’ve only known Dizzy for a month. You should really let me handle this.” “I’m not the one deciding who gets to handle what.” I explained as the impact of his words began to hit me. “But for the record, I think I’ve got it covered pretty well. I’ll make sure to let you know if I need any help though.” “So what? You know him better than me now?” Ky began to grill me as his temper got the best of him. “Parts of him.” I swayed my head, too annoyed to take him seriously. “So that’s how it is?” Ky asked as I nodded my head. “Well you’re not the only person in the world to suck his dick, you’re not even the only one in our friend group! So how about you actually help him, and tell me where he is!” I went to say something, but found myself speechless by how fast his attitude changed. “I’d say you’ve helped enough.” Dizzy called out from the living room. “Dizzy,” Ky began, but hesitated. “I don’t want to hear it.” Dizzy shut down as I stepped aside to allow him in the doorway. “I mean this is how you talk to Artie? This is how you talk to my boyfriend?” “Look I just,” Ky paused once more. “I was worried and just, what happened to you?” I noticed Ky’s focus lock onto Dizzy’s black eye. “That’s all you have to say for yourself? My Mom was worried, and she didn’t attack Artie for it.” Dizzy warned, trying his hardest to keep a calm tone. “So forget what happened to me, what happened to you?” “I’m sorry I just, I don’t know, alright? You go missing for a day or two, and then your Mom comes to school all worried. I panicked. I just want to know you’re okay.” Ky managed out as it all began to overload his mind. “Well I’m doing just fine.” Dizzy forced out, unimpressed with Ky’s answer. “So if you don’t mind, Artie and I have enough to handle right now. We don’t need you to give us more shit.” “Artie I didn’t mean to,” “Just go.” Dizzy interrupted, done with the conversation. “It’s better that way.” “I’ll see you both tomorrow?” He asked but got no response as Dizzy pulled me out of the doorway and began to shut the door. “I’m sorry.” Dizzy quickly began as the door clicked shut. “I had no idea he would say something like that to you.” “It’s fine.” I shook my head. “It’s nothing I didn’t already know.” “You knew all of that?” Dizzy gulped as we sat back down on the couch. “Well yeah, you’ve told me about the people you’ve dated in the past.” I began to explain. “And then Charlotte’s told me you and Ky have hooked up before.” “When did she tell you that?!” He demanded in a loud voice. “Like the second day I was here.” I shrugged, not sure why he was so surprised. “That girl can’t keep a secret!” He complained in a grumble. “It wasn’t anything serious, we were only like fourteen, maybe even younger. Plus, it was only once, so that should go to show you what I thought of it.” “I’m not worried about you cheating on me with Ky.” I shook my head. “Are you worried about me cheating on you at all?” He asked in a quiet voice. “No.” I quickly rejected. “Should I be?” “Not at all.” He answered in a confident voice. “But you knowing that,” He began as he fell back into his own head. “it doesn’t make what he said to you okay.” “He’s really worried about you.” I tried to rationalize. “He was just looking for answers anyway he could get them.” “That doesn’t make it right.” Dizzy insisted. “I know.” I agreed in a nod. “Just don’t be too mad at him.” “Why? You’re not mad at him?” Dizzy asked in a surprised voice. “No, I am.” I clarified as I began to lay against him. “But I know he can get a little,” “Hot headed?” Dizzy finished for me as I nodded my head. “It’s only when he cares a lot about something. Like when he lost you to me.” “You just had to bring that up, didn’t you?” I asked as a bashful smile began to form on my face. “Of course.” Dizzy happily answered. “Because he can yell at you all he wants, deep down I know part of it’s still anger over losing you.” “Well that anger is only making me more and more confident in my choice.” I decided in a sure voice. “Oh yeah?” Dizzy asked as he leaned in and connected lips with me. I could feel my confidence growing as our kiss grew more and more intimate. I don’t care who Dizzy’s been with, he’s started a new leaf with me, and I’ll double down on that choice anytime. “Boys!” Adam shouted as he pushed the door open. Dizzy quickly jumped off of me and to the other side of the couch as he heard my Uncle’s voice. “That’s the last time I leave you two alone.” “Sorry.” Dizzy forced out through a proud grin. “Yeah,” I managed as a blush coated my face. “sorry.” Adam rolled his eyes and continued walking into the kitchen. “No you guys aren’t, you’re just sorry you got caught.” “Yup.” Dizzy confirmed with a nod. “Dizzy!” I yelped, quickly looking over at him. “What are we going to do?” He shrugged as his smile grew. “Lie?” “It’s fine.” Adam dismissed in a sigh. “I was a teenager once too. Just, no more make out sessions on the couch.” “Understood.” Dizzy nodded, jumping up and walking over to offer Adam help. “You’re a weird kid, you know that?” Adam teased as he watched Dizzy set the table. “How’s that?” Dizzy wondered, making sure to flash me his smile. “One minute you’re breaking all the rules, the next you’re helping out.” Adam replied as he began to place the small boxes of sushi and dumplings on the table. “Maybe good and bad just isn’t that black and white.” Dizzy pointed out as he took a seat next to me. “Oh please, like your bad is even that bad.” I rolled my eyes. “How would you know? You’ve only known me for a month!” Dizzy let out through laughter. “You’d better check with Ky!” “That’s not funny.” I dismissed with a shake of my head. “Nope,” Dizzy continued to laugh. “but watching you eat sushi will be!” “No, it won’t,” I rejected as a serious look overtook my face. “because I’m not eating any.” “Yes, you are.” Adam interrupted. “You’re going to try at least one roll.” “You can’t do that.” I insisted as he reached over and forcefully dropped one onto my plate. “Oh yes I can.” He proudly replied. “As your guardian it’s my job to push you to try new things. That includes food.” “Well I’m not eating it.” I declared as I crossed my arms. “Then you’re not leaving the dinner table.” Adam decided in a confident voice. “What?” I asked in disbelief. “That’s not fair!” “Yup, poor you, having to eat sushi.” Dizzy teased, happily placing some in his own plate. “You should call the police and let them know.” “Whose side are you on?” I asked, shooting him an annoyed look. “Adam’s.” He quickly answered. “The faster you try sushi, the faster you’ll like sushi and the faster we can go on sushi dates.” “What’s the matter with you?” I sighed, but he simply shrugged his shoulders and began to eat. “Fine.” I muttered, forcing my fork into the small roll. “Arthur Uriah.” Adam warned as he noticed me playing around with it in my plate. “Uriah.” Dizzy repeated in a giggle. “It’s biblical.” I warned him, happy to have another distraction. “Yeah, yeah, and it means God is my light, now eat.” Adam spoke up, putting as much pressure on me as he could. “Fine.” I groaned, before holding my breath and forcing it into my mouth. At first all the flavors began to overload my mouth as a combination of spicy and sweet took over, but as the roll fell apart and the texture began to change I couldn’t help but make a face. The raw fish began to taste like gelatin in my mouth and I couldn’t help but quickly force it down. “Why would you do that to me!” I shouted in a disgusted voice. “Oh don’t be overdramatic.” Adam shook his head as Dizzy began to laugh. “Come on,” Dizzy tried to comfort. “it couldn’t have been that bad.” “It was like really bad jell-o!” I insisted, struggling to get the taste off my tongue. “I’ve never heard anyone say that.” Adam sighed, but I could tell he was fighting off a smile. “Just eat your dumplings.” “I will.” I stubbornly decided, scooping food I actually liked into my plate. “And you can take Dizzy on sushi dates from now on.” “Yeah!” Dizzy exclaimed through more laughter. “Why would you say that?” Adam groaned as he leaned back in his chair. “Because it’s good to try new things.” I mocked with a smile. “Sure.” Adam rolled his eyes. “But now we actually have to talk about something important. You’re both going to school tomorrow.” “I know.” I nodded my head as Dizzy shot Adam a concerned look. “I don’t know about that.” Dizzy began. “I’m not going in and dealing with twenty questions about my face.” “Most people won’t even notice.” Adam tried to lie, but received a fed-up look from Dizzy. “Alright, they will, but you don’t have to answer any questions.” “Just turn it into a joke like you always do.” I tried to comfort. “Everyone likes you anyway, so no one will think twice about it. Besides, I’ll be with you almost the whole time.” “I don’t like this.” Dizzy muttered as he began to push around his food. “You don’t have to.” Adam replied, forcing eye contact with him. “But if you’re going to stay here you’re going to listen to my rules.” “I understand.” Dizzy sighed. “I don’t like strict Adam that much.” “Me neither.” I complained as we both stared at him. “Good.” Adam happily nodded. “It’s about time you boys listened to me.” “We listen to you.” I tried to argue, but he simply shook his head. “For the most part.” “I listen to you more than anyone else.” Dizzy shrugged. “He’s not kidding!” I encouraged as Adam let out a short laugh. “Well you two help clean up and then I have something for you Artie.” Adam instructed as he slowly rose to his feet. “Actually, why don’t you go watch T.V..” I decided, looking over to Dizzy. “Yeah,” He quickly nodded. “You relax, we’ll clean up.” “Why?” Adam cautiously asked. “Did you guys break something while I was gone?” “No.” I replied, taking the plate from his hands. “We just want to thank you.” Dizzy explained. “Is that so unbelievable?” “Hmm.” Adam nodded his head. “Maybe I should be strict more often.” “That’s not the lesson here!” Dizzy yelped as he reached the sink. “It could be.” Adam teased as he wandered over to the living room. Every now and again he would glance over to make sure we were actually cleaning up, but for the most part he seemed to really appreciate our small gesture. “Alright,” I exhaled as we finally wrapped up and headed back towards the living room. “what do you have for me?” “More sushi!” Dizzy teased in a laugh. “I wish.” Adam happily played along as he stood up and walked over to the T.V. stand. “This came in the mail today.” He announced as he opened one of the cabinets and pulled out a thick long envelope. “From Sadie?” I asked as he tossed it over to me. “Yup.” He nodded as Dizzy shot me a curious look. “She was my Mom’s best friend.” I explained as I excitedly opened it up. I held it over the coffee table and slowly began to tilt it as picture after picture seemed to fly out. “Woh.” I exhaled as what appeared to be dozens and dozens of pictures now sat on the coffee table. I reached into the pile and quickly pulled out the short letter sticking out. “Dear Artie, As promised here are all the pictures I was able to find. I stumbled upon one of her old picture books, so there’s a lot! Leave it to Mary Price to still use one of those! There are a bunch of digital ones I was able to get from her phone as well. Just tell me your email and I’ll send them as soon as I can. Behave and call me when you get the chance. Sadie Barnes “ “Geez, Sarah must’ve really gotten into photography.” Adam exhaled, taking a look at all the pictures piled up on his table. “On and off.” I swayed my head. “Sometimes she wouldn’t leave home without a camera, other times she insisted that cameras were bad because they take away from the moment.” “Sounds like Sarah.” Adam laughed as he reached in and picked up one of the more recent pictures of me riding a horse. “Look at that Dizzy, what do you think?” “Looks like a different Artie.” Dizzy laughed as he shook his head. “But I like this one.” He teased, pointing to one of a much younger me in a Halloween costume. “What were you? The Mad Hatter?” “Me and my Mom really liked Alice in Wonderland when I was little.” I shrugged as a blush overtook my face. “I just liked reading! Blame her for the book choice!” “Hey, I like it.” Dizzy giggled as his smile grew. “Wait a minute,” I paused as I reached in and found a much older photo. “I’ve never seen this one! Oh my God!” “What?” Adam asked as I quickly flashed it to Dizzy. “Woh!” Dizzy laughed as he took a closer look. “See! I told you, Adam’s just a time traveling version of you!” “What is it?” Adam insisted as I finally showed him the picture. Yet he seemed to freeze as he got a good look at an old picture of him and my mother. It looked to be a first day of school picture, but the family resemblance was as clear as day. “No way.” He gasped as he took it from my hand. “She sent this?” He asked in disbelief. “Yup.” I answered, watching him closely as the moment slowly hit him. As the surprise faded I noticed him trying his hardest to fight off his emotions. “You alright?” I asked as our eyes connected. “Yeah,” He nodded as he let a smile take over his face. “I, I had no idea Sarah had pictures like this.” “Well here’s another.” Dizzy announced, pulling out another old picture. “Nice jean jacket!” Dizzy giggled as he handed me the photo. “Looking good!” I couldn’t help but tease as older versions of Adam, Sadie, my Mom and another man were all lined up outside a barn. They couldn’t have been too old, but I got the feeling it was one of the last pictures before Adam got kicked out. “Who’s that?” I asked as I pointed to the man. “No one.” Adam shook his head as he looked at the photo. I went to push but as I looked into his eyes, immediately let it go. I let my eyes fall back down to unknown man in the photo until finally Adam pulled it out of my view. “Look at this one!” Adam quickly changed the subject as he found one of my baby pictures. “You were so cute!” “Awww!” Dizzy encouraged. “You were a chubby little one!” “What’s that mean?” I asked looking over to him. “You were fat!” He laughed as he looked through more of the pictures. “But apparently you lost that weight fast!” “Price men can never keep on weight, it’s a blessing and a curse.” Adam lectured but stopped as he found a picture from just a few months ago. “This was Christmas?” He asked. “Yeah.” I slowly nodded my head. I felt Dizzy’s arm wrap around me as he looked at it. “Now that one’s my Artie.” He announced, drawing a smile from me. But just like Adam, I found myself having to fight off all the emotions stirring around my head. This is something I should’ve been able to do with her. She should’ve met my boyfriend, and showed him all my baby pictures. She should’ve been here to laugh about all the old pictures, and smile at the new ones. Yet before I could fall too far into my own head I felt Adam reach over and pat me on the arm to show me and Dizzy another photo. If she can’t be here, well, I’m glad he is. I know I’ve said it a million times, but he’s filled that void so well. He’s been everything I need and then some! I forced another smile as I noticed him watching me closely once more. I know he’s worried, but I’ll be okay. Slowly but surely, I’m making peace with all of this. And I know it’ll only worry him more, but I need to know who that man was. I understand if Adam wants to keep his past a secret, but he can’t keep mine one too. Right now, well I get a feeling that man had a bigger role in my past than Adam wants to admit.
  10. Aceinthehole


    Chapter 20: Storms Holding Dizzy that night, I never wanted to let him go. I’ve never seen anything like this, I’ve never felt anything like this. Is it worry? Is it guilt? Should I have just let him spend the night here? I know I wanted to spend time with Adam, but I still could’ve let him come over after. I had no idea his home life was so, rocky. When I finally pulled it together enough to let him go, I looked back at Adam but saw only a determined look. He’s working something over in his mind. Like some type of super computer, he’s taking everything in, and slowly analyzing every last detail. He gave me a supportive nod before leaning back against one of the kitchen counters. “I think you two should go to bed,” He suddenly announced. “and I’m sorry, but I, I still can’t have you boys sharing a bed.” “But this is different,” I began to protest. “you really think we’d do anything right now? I mean,” “It’s fine.” Dizzy interrupted, looking back at me. “Let’s not push our luck tonight.” “Alright.” I gulped, hearing the exhaustion in his voice. “So, it’s pretty late,” Adam began to think over. “and I’d say you guys don’t have to go to school, but I don’t really have the power to do that with you Dizzy.” “You don’t need it,” Dizzy exhaled, looking back at him. “they’ll call my Mom tomorrow asking where I am, and she’ll just say she forgot to call. It happens all the time.” “Oh.” Adam nodded his head. “Does she know you’re here?” He asked, but as he saw Dizzy’s hesitation began to lock up. “I’m sorry, I, I shouldn’t have asked that right now. That’s a question for tomorrow.” “She doesn’t know I’m here.” Dizzy answered in a sigh. “But she doesn’t need to. She, she should stay away for a little while.” I looked back towards Adam with a panicked look, but felt his hand drop on my shoulder to calm me down. “Why don’t you go grab Dizzy a pillow and extra blankets from the hall closet?” “Yeah.” I quickly nodded, rushing up the stairs. As I reached the hall I could hear some muffled talking from downstairs. It didn’t sound like anything substantial, but I could tell Adam had earned a new respect from Dizzy tonight. It was like up to this point Dizzy only saw Adam as a friend, but now, well now he sees Adam the same way I do. “You’re sure I can’t spend the night with him?” I asked Adam as I walked back down the stairs and reluctantly handed Dizzy the bedding. “It’s fine.” Dizzy answered for him. “I promise, I’ll be lying right here when you wake up in the morning.” “Alright.” I sighed, feeling Adam’s hand lightly hit my shoulder one more time. “Good night boys, I’ll see you both in the morning.” Adam dismissed, allowing us to have a few moments alone. “Good night.” We both let out in unison as we patiently waited for him to disappear up the stairs. “Stop looking at me like that,” Dizzy finally spoke when he was sure we were alone. “I’ll be okay.” “Sorry, I, I’m not sure I can look any other way.” I stuttered, unable to stop staring at the discoloration on his face. “I’m sorry I didn’t let you spend the night here. I should’ve, I, I just,” “Stop.” Dizzy dismissed, throwing on his usual calming tone. “None of this is your fault. I had to stay a night at home eventually.” “Yeah but,” “But nothing.” He finished for me. “Nothing short of going to my house and beating up Trevor would’ve stopped this from happening.” He let out a small laugh as he saw a combination of anger and reflection beginning on my face. “He’s a big guy, don’t be getting any ideas.” I let out an embarrassed laugh but couldn’t find any words to say. “Why don’t you go to bed?” Dizzy suggested. “We can talk about everything tomorrow, it, it’ll all be okay. I promise.” “Alright.” I slowly nodded. “I, I like you a lot Dizzy.” “I like you a lot too.” A smirk began on his face, but quickly faded as he winced in pain. As I walked up stairs I couldn’t help but keep looking back at him. What kind of animal attacks a teenager? What kind of monster do you have to be to take your day out on your girlfriend and her son? Back in Texas some parents spanked their kids, but I never saw anything like this. It was never this, barbaric. The rest of that night I could barely sleep. I just couldn’t get the image of Dizzy out of my head. Every now and then I would get out of bed and check on him in the living room. I just needed to know that he was staying put. That he was safe. A few of those times he even heard me and smiled as he caught me watching from the stairs. Even now, he’s trying his hardest to keep his normal high spirits. He’s a warrior, there’s no doubt about it. -- -- When the sun finally rose, I could feel the questions from last night starting to rise with it. There was so much Adam and I both wanted to know. So much we needed to know to make sure Dizzy was safe. “Good morning.” Adam greeted as we both stepped out of our rooms. “Morning.” I replied, watching him closely. “How long are you staying home for?” “However long I need to.” Adam shrugged. “Lindsay’s got the shop handled.” “You sure you believe that?” I teased, trying my hardest to lighten the heavy mood. “Nope.” He played along, leading me downstairs to find a wide-awake Dizzy staring at the ceiling. “Did you sleep at all last night?” I whined, noticing the bruises on his face had only grown worse. “What is sleep?” Dizzy asked with a small smile. “I kept my eyes closed and rested for a while, does that count?” “Why can’t you ever just answer a question?” I complained, taking a seat at his feet. “I answer questions.” He shrugged. “Sure, with other questions!” I yelped, helping him to relax into the moment. “Speaking of questions,” He began in a brave voice. “I’m sure you have a few.” His eyes focused on Adam’s as he took a seat on the other side of the couch. “You could say that.” Adam slowly nodded his head. “But I’ll wait for you to be ready.” “I’m ready now.” Dizzy explained. “But first I have a question of my own.” Adam’s gaze turned confused, but he nodded allowing Dizzy his moment. “How much damage were you actually going to do with Artie’s baseball bat?” “Oh my God!” Adam rolled his eyes. “I thought this was going to be a serious question!” “It is!” Dizzy happily exclaimed. “What if an intruder has a gun? You’d be shot before you even got into swinging range!” “I had to do something.” Adam defended, trying his hardest to take the conversation seriously. “Plus, I played baseball as a kid, my swings pretty good if I do say so myself.” “I’m sure it is.” I teased in a sarcastic voice. “We could,” “Don’t say get a gun.” Adam finished for me. “Get a gun.” I let out anyway. “No.” Adam quickly shot down. “This isn’t Texas Artie. There are no guns allowed in this household.” I clicked my tongue but let it go as I saw how serious Adam had grown. “If people want to own guns, that’s fine, I respect that, but not in my household. Especially not with you and Dizzy crawling around here.” “What do you think we do?” I defensively asked. “Rummage through your stuff?” “Like a pig through mud.” He nodded staring me down. “We don’t touch any of your stuff!” I insisted as a troubled smirk took over Dizzy’s face. “Except your bong.” He cackled with mischief in his eyes. “Artie!” Adam yelped in a strict voice. “Your what?” I asked as a blush filled my face. “What’s a bong?” “It, it’s nothing.” Adam nervously stammered. “You have a bong?” Dizzy giggled to himself. “I, no, Dizzy, I don’t own a bong.” Adam continued to stutter, but it was clear Dizzy had caught him. “What’s a bong?” I asked once more in a loud voice. “It’s a sex thing.” Dizzy nodded drawing a bright red blush from my face. “It is not a sex thing!” Adam yelped as he began to lose control over the room. “It’s not a sex thing.” Dizzy laughed, clearly loving every second of the moment. “It’s a filtering thingy you smoke weed out of.” “Adam!” I gasped in shock. “I knew I smelt something the other night!” “Oh please, like you even know what weed smells like.” Adam rolled his eyes. “I do, because I smelt it the other night before I fell asleep!” I insisted, beginning to stare him down. “I’m so sorry.” Adam sarcastically replied. “Would you like a warning next time?” “So you did smoke!” I yelped, beginning to enjoy the chaos flying around the room myself. “Can I join you next time?” Dizzy excitedly asked. “What? No! Why am I still entertaining this conversation?” Adam asked, reminding himself he was the one in charge. “What I like to do in my free time, is up to me.” “Of course.” Dizzy happily nodded. “You’re getting awfully defensive about smoking. We’re both fine with it.” “I don’t know.” I began to sway my head. “I’m not sure how to feel about this.” “Okay, correction, one of us doesn’t care, the other is undecided.” Dizzy continued drawing my eye contact. “I think you should be a fan though. It’s actually kind of fun.” “Really?” I asked with a smile. “Yeah, it’s totally relaxing and kills anxiety,” He explained. “and based on how wound up Adam’s getting from this conversation, well I think he could use a smoke right now!” “Would you stop glorifying drugs to my nephew!” Adam warned in a loud voice. “We have actual important things to talk about!” “I change my answer.” I decided, ignoring Adam’s words. “I’m okay with you smoking weed for now.” “Artie!” Adam yelped. “Stop fueling Dizzy and focus!” “Geez, sorry for accepting you.” I teasingly rolled my eyes. “Next time you smoke I’ll just call the police.” “It’s legal in California genius.” Dizzy explained, looking back over to Adam with a proud smile. “Oh my.” I exhaled as I began to think it all over. “In fact, doesn’t The Price is Right sell a certain fun donut?” Dizzy continued to push, but this time received only a stern look back. “Alright, alright, we’ll drop it.” He giggled, drawing more laughter from me. Adam rolled his eyes, but I could tell he was glad all the tension in the room had been broken. After all, it’s not like I’m all that shocked he smokes weed. Like I said, I smelt it the other night, and when I first moved in the place was practically buried in beer cans! I guess he just eats and lives like a college student! Dizzy took a deep breath as silence filled the air and nodded. “Whatever you want. Ask it.” “Whatever?” Adam repeated as Dizzy nodded once more. “Alright,” He exhaled a heavy breath. “was this honestly the first time you’ve been abused?” “Yeah.” Dizzy replied, letting his eyes fall to the coffee table. “I mean, my Mom takes swings at me, but I wouldn’t really call that abuse. Just her being my Mom.” “And her boyfriend,” “Trevor.” Dizzy clarified. “Trevor.” Adam repeated. “How long have they been dating?” “Like a year and a half.” Dizzy swayed his head. “But she’s usually had guys coming around. They’ve just never been as scummy as this one." Adam took a second to process Dizzy’s answer before drawing enough courage the ask the next question. “Has Trevor always been abusive towards your Mom?” Dizzy hesitated before only nodding his head. “Physically or verbally?” “I don’t know.” Dizzy let out a heavy breath. “I’ve heard verbally a few times, but I, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was physical too.” “Do you know if she’s thought about leaving him?” Adam asked but Dizzy quickly shook his head no. “It’s not that simple, is it?” Adam continued, understanding the thoughts racing through the young teen’s head. “Never is.” He replied before falling quiet once more. “What about you,” Adam began once more, capitalizing on the moment the best he could. “why don’t you want to press charged against him for abuse?” Dizzy stayed quiet for a few moments, but as I gently grabbed his leg for support he looked back up at us. “He makes my Mom happy.” He finally answered. “I don’t want her to have to choose between the two of us.” “But he’s the one forcing her to choose!” I couldn’t help but interrupt. “He’s the one starting the problems, not you.” As he looked back up at me I couldn’t help but be frozen by the cold look in his usual lively eyes. “It’s just not that simple.” He exhaled, repeating Adam’s words from a few moments ago. I let out a deep breath but stayed quiet as I noticed another question forming in Adam’s eyes. “What did you mean when you said your mom should stay away for a little while?” He shrugged his shoulders as he carefully thought over his next few words. “Because she just let me walk out of the front door without checking on me.” Dizzy finally answered in a quiet voice. “I get she was scared, but she just let me go. She didn’t chase after me. She didn’t call for me. She just let me go.” “And you’re angry?” Adam poked, trying to get a good idea of the emotions swirling around inside of Dizzy. “No.” He exhaled, trying his hardest to hold back his emotions. “I’m, I, I’m crushed.” He managed out, but this time I could tell that was his last answer. Adam gave Dizzy a few minutes to recollect himself as I slide closer to him, letting him rest against my shoulder. “I’m not going to push this too hard,” Adam broke the silence. “but I think you should take pictures of your injuries just in case something else happens.” “Something else?” I repeated in a concerned voice. “Nothing else is going to happen.” Dizzy whispered to me before looking up at Adam. “It’s a good back up to have.” He tried to explain. “Kind of like a plan B.” “Alright.” Dizzy nodded, having enough trust in Adam to not say no. “And maybe you should call your Mom?” Adam squeaked out as he moved closer to take a few photos. “Or not.” Adam quickly dismissed as he received nothing but a cold and angry look from Dizzy. As I watched Adam take picture after picture of Dizzy’s bruises I couldn’t help but feel my mind start to race. How could anyone do this to family? What kind of man is that? Is that what awaits me back in Texas? Is that what’s going to happen to me if my grandparents win custody? Is everything starting to fall apart at once, or is that just what I’m telling myself? It’s like things were going so well for so long, but now the house of cards is starting to crumble! Like everything I’ve build is being threatened to fall apart! “Woh.” Dizzy let out as he heard my breathing start to grow quicker and quicker. “It’s alright Artie, I promise it doesn’t even hurt anymore.” “And Dizzy can stay here whenever he wants.” Adam tried to comfort. “We’re not letting him go back to a place where he’s in danger.” I shook my head but kept quiet, not wanting to feed Adam problem after problem. “It’s alright.” Dizzy insisted, but as he moved closer and our eyes connected he saw right through me. “It’s not alright, is it?” “No.” I finally managed out. “Sadie called a few nights ago, and she, she said your parents are trying to get custody back.” I confessed, looking over at Adam. “I know I should’ve told you earlier, but, but there was so much going on, and I know you have your own issues. There’s so much getting thrown your way at once, and it’s like you’re stuck trying to clean up after everyone else. You didn’t ask for this, so,” “Stop.” Adam commanded in a loud voice. “How many times do I have to tell you, you’re not a burden on me at all, and you never will be Artie.” “But still, there’s just so many bad things happening at once.” I shook my head as Dizzy held me tightly. “There’s also so many good things happening.” Adam corrected as he forced a smile. “Your first baseball game. Your birthday party. Our trip to Chinatown. You and Dizzy dating. Mason giving me his number. It’s just all about how you look at it. It’s all about perspective.” “And that goes for you too Dizzy.” Adam shifted his gaze. “I know, this is really hard for you, but life’s not out to get us. We’ll work all of this out, I promise we will.” “So then what’s the plan?” Dizzy asked, looking from me to Adam. “I guess you should wait for your house to calm down a bit, and maybe sit down with your Mom and talk about everything. I know it won’t be easy, but it’ll be something you have to do.” “No.” Dizzy interrupted as Adam began to rant. “What’s the plan to keep Artie here?” “Plan?” Adam asked as his mind began to tackle one problem after another. “I feel like we don’t really need a plan. My sister’s will clearly states I’m his guardian. I’ve signed all the custody forms, and so has the attorney and judge. If my grandparents force this issue, they’ll just have us flying to Texas for a trial that will never happen.” “How can you say that so confidently?” I asked as my anxieties started to get the better of me once more. “Because, I’m never letting anyone take you from me.” Adam explained in a strong confidence voice. “Plus, when they hear you’re gay they’ll drop the custody suit all together.” “They hate gay people that much?” Dizzy asked, watching me closely. “They hate anyone different from them, no matter how minor it is.” I exhaled a deep breath, knowing Adam was right. I hate to think like that, but the second they hear I’m gay, well I’ll be shunned forever! I just wonder how Sadie will react. “You teach a person to hate and it’s all they’ll ever do.” Adam lectured, keeping his voice as strong as possible. “But I’ve had enough talking about serious things for one day, why don’t we watch something?” “Or play something?” Dizzy excitedly suggested. “Maybe even teach Artie how to play?” “Alright.” Adam accepted with a growing smile. “Wait,” I began as Adam tossed me a controller. “I never agreed to this.” “For me?” Dizzy asked as his smile continued to grow. “Fine.” I sighed as I rolled my eyes. “But if I don’t like it I’m stopping.” They both let out a short laugh as they began to run through the controls with me. I could tell it was something they had both been waiting for for a while. It was like I was finally entering their weird nerdy world! Eventually I was able to get the hang of it, but I was nowhere as good as the two of them. I’m not even sure I liked it that much, but it was a good distraction from the weight of our day. Like we were all able to just forget our problems for a while and just have fun together. Pretty soon the three of us were shouting and laughing along with one another. As the clock ticked away and the sun began to set I heard a loud knocking beginning on my front door. “Ughh.” They both groaned, not wanting to get up. “Who is it?” Dizzy grumbled, looking towards the door. “Probably just Charlotte.” I shrugged, slowly getting to me feet. “Probably here to tell us what homework is due tomorrow or something.” “Wait,” He let out, quickly jumping up off of the couch. “I don’t want her seeing me like this.” “Why?” I groaned in a sigh. “I just don’t want her worrying, and I don’t know, I, I’d rather what happened last night stay between the three of us.” He shrugged. “I understand.” I nodded, letting him dart into the hallway before I pulled the door open. Yet who I saw standing there nearly made my heart stop all together. “Mrs. Armstrong.” I called out loud enough for Dizzy to hear. “What a surprise, can I help you ma’am?” “Look, Artie, I-I don’t need the act.” She nervously began. “Can you just tell me where Dizzy is? I’ve been looking for him all day, and Ky said he’d probably be here.” “I don’t know.” I lied, trying to keep as straight a face as possible. “I haven’t seen him all day.” “I know you both cut class today.” She began to plead with me. “Can I please just see him? Even for a few minutes?” I let out a deep sigh before motioning her out of the door way. I felt my heart begin to race as I stepped outside and shut the door behind me. “He’s not here.” I lied once more. “But he was here before. He, he’s perfectly safe.” “Do you know where he slept last night?” She asked as worry engulfed her face. “Do you know where he’s going to sleep tonight? Do you know if he’s eaten?” “I promise you everything is taken care of.” I answered, trying not to give away too much. “You must think I’m the worst mother in the world.” She shook her head as the heaviness of the situation began to show in her eyes. “I don’t,” I quickly tried to reject. “I, I get it, it’s not that simple.” “It’s not.” She tried to emphasize. “Trevor, he’s the only stable income we have. We already live off of food stamps as it is, and my unemployment ran out a month or two ago. San Francisco is just so expensive, it’s like he’s my only option here.” “I, I think this is a conversation you need to have with Dizzy.” I gulped as she began to show me the weight on her shoulders. “I want to, but I, I’m worried it’s too late.” She let out a heavy breath. “It’s not.” I tried to comfort. “We’re talking about Dizzy after all. You, you’re the most important person in his life. He just needs some time and space, you know?” “I guess.” She nodded her head. “If you see him, just tell him I’m sorry. Tell him Trevor’s sorry, and that it, it’ll never happen again.” “Alright.” I hesitantly agreed, knowing that was nothing but a lie. “I promise I’ll keep him safe for now.” “Please, please do.” She pleaded, afraid to put her full faith in me. “And if you see him, tell him to call me or come home, or just, something. Anything but this silence.” “Okay,” I agreed, but as she went to turn around reached out. “If I, if I could maybe help you get a job, would that help?” “How would you do that?” But as I stayed quiet she nodded her head. “Anything helps.” Before I could say anything else the door behind me opened. I froze but relaxed as I felt a familiar large hand rest on my shoulder. “Adam Price.” The man let out, extending a hand towards Mrs. Armstrong. “Colleen Armstrong.” She greeted, shaking back. “I recognize you.” Adam nodded his head. “You’re a regular at my shop.” “Yeah, I guess I am.” She replied, still too worried about Dizzy to think about it. “I know you’re probably worried about Dizzy,” Adam began once more. “but I promise if he’s here, he’ll be safe.” “You’ll take care of him?” She asked as their eyes locked. “Like he’s my own.” Adam quickly answered. “Why?” She shook her head in disbelief. “Because I understand what he’s going through more than most.” Adam cryptically replied. “Just give him time, he’ll be back before you know it.” “Can I, can I at least give you my number?” She offered as she scanned Adam up and down. “Just so, just so you can keep me updated if something happens.” “Of course.” Adam quickly took the phone out of his pocket and offered it to her. “I’ll text you so you have my number, and if you need anything, don’t be afraid to reach out.” “Thank you.” She nodded as she handed the phone back to him. “Thank you.” She repeated, not knowing what else to say before turning around and walking down the stairs. “She knows he’s staying here.” Adam sighed as he forced the door open and led us back inside. “Is that a good thing or bad thing?” I asked in a gulp. “Good thing.” Adam forced a smile. “Now she at least knows he’s safe.” “Yeah.” I agreed as Dizzy slowly walked out of the hallway. “She’s worried about you.” “I know.” He exhaled. “But I, I still need some space.” “You can have as much as you need.” Adam encouraged, waiving him back to the couch. “Now where were we?” He asked, tossing Dizzy the controller. He really does understand where Dizzy is right now. He knows what it’s like to feel rejected and alone, and he won’t let that happen to anyone else. We’ll all work this out. Soon all our problems will pass and things will go back to normal. I just have to keep a good perspective. I just have to keep focusing on the good things. Mom watch over us. We’re going to need you.
  11. Aceinthehole


    Chapter 19: Pride I guess it’s easy for me to forget just how new to parenting Adam is. He’s just been such a natural at it so far, it’s hard to imagine him having trouble. But it’s barely been a month! This life that’s started to seem so normal, it’s still just begun! And through it all, Adam’s been my rock, but right now, I can see him doubting himself. One way or another I’m going to dismiss those doubts, I know I will. “So,” Dizzy began with a smirk as he led me away from everyone. “what are we doing tonight?” “I don’t know what you’re doing, but Adam and I are going to spend the night together.” I smiled, seeing surprise fill his face. He let out an overdramatic groan before forcing eye contact. “And after that?” “I’m going to bed.” I shrugged, seeing a smirk beginning to form on his face. “Alone.” “You sure about that?” He asked, letting the smirk take over. “Yup.” I insisted, holding my ground. “You heard Mrs. Mowry, one more late day and we’re both getting detention.” “You can’t actually be mad at me for that?” He complained as his face grew serious. “I mean we got out of it, and besides, I remember this morning’s activities being your idea.” “Says the guy who climbed on me.” I played along, letting my smile grow to show I wasn’t actually upset. “I just need some time with Adam. He’s a little, off today. And I can’t risk him catching on and thinking he’s screwing up.” “Goody two shoes.” Dizzy teased with a roll of his eyes, but I could tell he understood. “So where are you going?” “I don’t know,” I began to think it over. “I guess maybe the Tavern again. That guy he likes might be working tonight.” “Boring!” Dizzy exclaimed, loud enough to draw stares. “You play it too safe, go somewhere new tonight.” “Like where? I want to surprise him again, and I’m not exactly Mr. San Francisco.” I complained, knowing Dizzy had a point. “China Town.” Dizzy shrugged. “It’s far, but not too far and he’ll never see it coming.” “I don’t know how to get there.” I complained, noticing Adam starting to watch us closely. “Just take the twenty-two to the one, you’ll know when you get there.” He explained, but hesitated as he saw confusion grow on my face. “I’ll text you the directions, and worst case you could just use your phone or something.” “I don’t know,” I gulped, feeling my anxiety starting to get the better of me. “what if I get us lost?” “You’ll be with Adam, what are you worried about?” Dizzy asked, freezing me even more. “Besides, getting lost is half the adventure!” “Maybe you should come,” I began instantly drawing a shake of his head. “I’m getting the vibe Adam’s not the only one doubting himself today.” He analyzed, taking a deep look into my eyes. “You’re smart and brave and strong and just,” He caught himself before he started to ramble. He went to say something else, but before he could leaned in and stole a kiss from my lips. “Just relax, you and Adam could use an adventure together.” “This whole month has been an adventure.” I complained, but simply got a shrug from Dizzy. “And how much you’ve grown from when I first met you.” His smile grew as he led me back towards the group. “Ky, what are you up to tonight?” He began, immediately trying to find plans for the night. “I guess nothing,” Ky hesitantly began. “but you’re not sleeping over! My Mom’s already mad enough at me!” “Because you got a B on that computer science test?” Dizzy teased. “No, be-because my Dog keeps having accidents in the house.” Ky corrected, but it was obvious he had come up with it on the spot. “Because you got a B on that test.” Dizzy insisted, glancing back at me. “Good night Artie.” “Good night.” I replied as my smile continued to grow. “And what about me!” Charlotte yelped, noticing she was being left out of their plans. “You can come over too,” Ky shrugged, looking over to her. “and Artie too of course.” “I’m hanging with my Uncle tonight.” I explained, drawing a look from Adam. “You’re leaving me with them?” Charlotte sighed, glancing back to me but as our eyes connected she could tell there was a reason why. “Text me?” “Already sent.” I smiled as the three of them began to walk away. “So,” Adam began as we watched them disappear into the crowd. “what are we doing tonight? You can go hang out with your friends if you want.” “I have a surprise for you.” I explained, as we began the short walk back home. “I just need to shower first.” “Oh thank God.” He exhaled as I shot him a serious look. “What? You smell.” He laughed, trying his hardest to return to his normal self. “Gee, thanks.” I complained, looking straight ahead. “Dizzy kissed you anyway.” He shrugged. “Not that I was watching!” “You’re such a creep.” I couldn’t help but tease. “Maybe don’t be kissing boys in open fields.” Adam shrugged, giving me a light push. “Only the cute ones.” I played along drawing a laugh from him. The rest of the evening I noticed Adam watching me a little bit closer than usual. I could tell he was still thinking everything over, still trying his hardest to figure out how to be the best role model he could. But I don’t think that’s something you intentionally do. I think it’s something that comes from the little things, from your words and your actions. And Adam, well he’s been acing that since I met him. I just need to show him that! -- -- “Alright,” Adam began as we walked out of our front door. “where are we going tonight? The Tavern?” “You’ll see.” I shrugged, leading him to the bus stop. “The Tavern.” He nodded his head, but as we got on an unfamiliar bus I could see him starting to think it over. “Not the Tavern.” He decided, falling into thought. “Do you even know where we’re going?” “Yeah.” I nervously let out. “I, I’ve got this.” “That’s the confidence I wanted to hear.” He teased, but as we passed a big brick building he couldn’t help but excitedly point it out. “Now that!” He exclaimed. “That’s where I have to take you!” “What is it?” I asked, thrown off by his sudden excitement. As I took a closer look I noticed a music store on the ground floor and a big LED screen near the top. Part of the sign read The Fillmore while the flashing LED screen kept changing. “That’s The Fillmore.” He happily explained. “Lindsay took me there like my second or third week here, and just, live music, there’s nothing like it.” He said, barely able to contain his excitement. “I’ve got to take you to your first concert!” “Well maybe that’s the band we should see.” I pointed out as the LED screen focused on a certain band. “Messiah - May 25th, 2018 Get Your Tickets Now!” “I’ve never heard of them, but it sounds like Christian rock.” I shrugged. “That could be a happy middle ground for us.” “Trust me, they’re not Christian rock.” Adam laughed, letting himself fully ease up. “it’s hard rock, so I’m pretty sure that show would kill you. Their singer is around your age and is some kind of gay activist though. He’s got a lot of talent too, just a nasty drug problem that’s already starting to hurt his name.” “How do you fall into drugs that early?” I shook my head as the smile fell from my face. “Guess he had a lot of tough breaks and no one to show him the way.” Adam shrugged, not fully knowing the band’s history. “I guess so.” I nodded my head. “Well, I’m glad I have someone.” I forced out, causing Adam to keep his eyes looking out the window. I could tell my words caught him off-guard because he grew quiet and watched the passing buildings closely. “I think we have to transfer now.” I finally broke the silence as the bus came to a stop. “Onto, the, the one?” I explained, trying my hardest to decipher the directions Dizzy had texted me. “Where are you taking me Arthur Price?” Adam teased as we got off the bus. “I’m not sure.” I nervously laughed as another bus immediately pulled up. “Towards the bridge?” Adam tried to guess. “Because this is a weird way to go about that.” “You’ll see!” I insisted as we both sat down once more. “One of the piers?” He continued to guess but I simply shook my head. “Union Square?” He guessed again, but once more got no answer. “A Giants game?” “Yes Adam.” I began to giggle. “With all my money, I bought us tickets to go see the San Francisco Giants on short notice.” “I don’t know what you do.” Adam shrugged. “Besides, you’ve been a little secretive lately.” “Have not.” I lied, trying to hide a blush that was beginning to grow on my face. Does he know Dizzy’s been sneaking in? Does he know what we’ve been up to in my room? Am I that bad at hiding things?” “There!” I suddenly pointed out, seeing a row of lights in the distance. I went to say something else, but the site froze me where I sat. “China Town.” Adam finally exhaled. “Good surprise Artie.” I nodded my head, but was far too captivated by the sights. Giant signs in foreign languages covered the buildings as stings of paper lamps seemed to crisscross from wall to wall. If you’d have blind folded me and taken me here, well, I would think I was actually in China! “Cool right?” Adam asked, seeing the amazement on my face. “Yeah.” I managed to say. “You know what restaurant you want to go to?” He asked but I simply shook my head. “I’ll take it from here.” “I’ve never even had Chinese food.” I finally spoke. “Well, I’ve had crappy Texas take out Chinese food, but that’s it.” “And let me guess, your Mom barely ordered it because she hates Chinese food.” His smile began to grow. “Yup.” I caught his smile as I looked up at him. “Do you like it?” I nervously asked, realizing I hadn’t even put that much thought into Dizzy’s suggestion. “I freakin’ love it!” He happily nodded, pulling the line above us to get the bus to stop. As we got off and started to roam through the streets I was left in a state of amazement. Crowds of people rushed past us as the glowing lights above us lit up the streets. It’s funny, when I first got here this all would have terrified me, but not anymore. Now this, this is thrilling! And when I do get overwhelmed, well I know I have Adam right here with me. When we had finally had enough site seeing Adam led me to his favorite Chinatown restaurant. The outside didn’t even look like a restaurant, just a door in the middle of a wall with a green cube above it! But as we went inside I started to wonder if we were even dressed nice enough to eat there! “You had no idea what you signed up for when you took me here, did you?” Adam teased, seeing the excitement still covering my face as we sat down. “Nope.” I shook my head. “Dizzy suggested it, and it sounded fun.” “It was a good idea.” Adam happily nodded his head, before starting to fall quiet. I noticed him uncomfortably fidget as he thought over his next few words. “You know I meant it before when I was talking about how proud I am of you, right?” “I know.” I quickly nodded my head. “It was just, it was so amazing getting to watch you play baseball.” He froze as the words started to get caught up in his throat. “I know Sarah would’ve loved it to, and maybe, maybe that’s part of the reason why this conversation is so hard for me.” He explained. “Sure, because of my Dad I’m not too sure how to talk about this stuff, but it’s hard that she’s gone. It’s hard that she’s gone when I know she would’ve loved every second of today.” As I noticed a tear forming in his eyes I had to fight to keep the water out of my own. “If you cry, I’ll cry.” I warned in the strongest voice I could manage. “Sorry,” He shook his head. “I’ve just really been missing her today.” “Why?” I couldn’t help but ask. “I don’t know, maybe it started with seeing you asleep on the couch.” He took a deep breath as he paused to think it over. “You just remind me so much of her, especially in the little things you do. She’d be so proud of everything you’re becoming.” I nodded my head as a smile began to form on my face. “She would’ve been so proud of you too.” I reminded him. “The same way I am.” I forced out. “I-I feel like you’re doubting yourself today and I, I don’t want you to. I want you to know what an amazing job you’re doing.” “Artie,” He tried to interrupt. “No, I’m serious.” I insisted. “I was such a shy kid when I got here and you, you pulled me out of my shell.” “Dizzy pulled you out of your shell.” He tried to argue. “Dizzy helped, but you’re the one who took me here. You’re the one who showed me around on our way home. You’re the one who convinced me to give this life a chance.” I shook my head. “It just, it felt like I was so broken when I first got here, but you, you’re putting it all back together.” “For telling me not to cry, you’re really trying your hardest to make me.” He teased, trying his hardest to ease the moment with a joke. “When you first got here you called us a team, and, I-I wouldn’t want anyone else on my team.” “Me neither.” I happily agreed as she shared a smile before looking back down at our menus. The rest of the night was just as amazing as when we first got there. The food was amazing! And the sights, well they continued to take my breath away! Most importantly, the bond between Adam and I seemed stronger than it ever had. It was like we were just on the same page, like we had finally broken down whatever barrier was left between us. I mean, I thought coming out had done that, but I had no idea just how close we could be, and I get the feeling this is just the start. -- -- When we finally left China Town and got back home Adam made sure to throw on a movie. I couldn’t stay awake for long, between exploring China Town, school and my baseball game I was totally wiped out! For some reason it felt just as peaceful as sleeping on the couch last night did. I just felt, protected. And nothing was a stronger reminder of that then when I heard a crash coming from the kitchen that immediately woke both me and Adam up. “Who’s there?!” Adam shouted before I could even fully wake up. I noticed his silhouette reach down for my bag and grab the bat out of the side. “Who’s there?!” He repeated, taking a few steps towards the kitchen and slamming the lights on. But as soon as I saw the young skinny figure I jumped up from the couch. “Dizzy?” Adam asked, slowly starting to lower the bat. “I-I’ll take this.” I nervously exhaled, taking the weapon from his hand. “What the hell are you doing?” Adam asked in an irritated voice. “How did you even get in?” Dizzy stayed quiet and shrugged as he kept his hood tightly over his head and his eyes down. “Are you okay?” I asked, noticing a few stray pots he had knocked over. “Fine.” He finally forced out in a quiet voice. “Dizzy.” Adam called out in a strong voice. “What the hell are you doing?” Adam repeated, but once more Dizzy stayed quiet. “Are you high, or drunk or,” “No, I-I’m sober.” Dizzy shook his head, but kept his face hidden. Adam glanced to me, as we tried our hardest to silently piece together what was happening. Did he try and sneak in even though I told him no? Did he get thrown out of his house? I know he usually thinks this is a game, but he’s not exactly acting like that right now! “It’s three in the morning, if, if you don’t want me to call the police I need you to start talking.” Adam warned, taking a few steps forward. But as Adam grew closer Dizzy took a few steps back. “Adam!” I warned in a concerned voice. “You’re not calling the police!” “What else am I supposed to do?” Adam asked, looking back towards me. “He broke into our house.” “I didn’t break in.” Dizzy exhaled. “Your spare key just isn’t hard to find.” “Well now it will be.” Adam shook his head. “And I’m serious, you better start talking.” As Dizzy fell quiet once more I noticed the irritation on Adam’s face beginning to grow. “Dizzy! Talk to me!” He shouted in a tone so stern I almost didn’t recognize his voice. The second his words hit the air Dizzy jumped, then moved back even further. “You’re not okay, are you?” I asked, starting to grow closer, until finally I was standing right next to him. At first when I reached out he pulled away, but as I reached out a second time he let me pull his hood away exposing a fresh black eye and bruised lip. “Dizzy.” I exhaled in concern. “What happened?” “I just, I was out tagging and I messed with the wrong guys.” He lied, immediately pulling the hood back over his head. “What kind of guys?” I asked, too worried to see through his words. “Gang members I guess.” He shook his head. “I was hired to do a memorial piece and I guess they didn’t want to pay me, but I tried to force the issue and,” “Stop lying.” Adam interrupted, watching him closely. “I’m not lying.” Dizzy tried to insist. “Just stop.” Adam warned, pulling out a chair at the table. “Sit down.” He instructed. As I led Dizzy to the seat I noticed Adam reach into the freezer and grab an icepack. “Here.” He offered, but Dizzy refused the help. Instead I grabbed it from him and held it to Dizzy’s eye, making sure to pull down the hood once more. “Now what happened?” Adam asked, dragging a chair across from Dizzy and taking a seat. “I was telling the truth.” Dizzy shook his head. “I just can’t go home and have my Mom worrying about me. “Well I, I’m going to have to call your Mom and talk to her no matter what.” Adam threatened. I could tell he had a rough idea of the real story, but wanted to hear it from Dizzy first. “So please, just give me the truth.” “It’s just me and Adam,” I reminded Dizzy. “you can tell us stuff.” Dizzy stayed quiet for a few moments before I noticed water starting to fill his eyes. “I just, I spoke up.” Dizzy shook his head. “And I guess, I don’t know,” he began to unravel. “people always tell me I don’t know when to stop, and I guess I don’t, but I-I had to say something!” “Relax,” Adam tried to comfort as I rested my spare hand on Dizzy’s shoulder. “just start from the beginning.” “I-I got home from Ky’s and, and my Mom’s boyfriend was just on a rampage.” He finally began. “He was just, he was saying so much crap about her.” The tears began to fall faster from his eyes as the truth began to come out. “I-I-I had to do something, right? I just had to.” “And he hit you?” Adam offered, trying to spare him the words. “I just, I stood up for her and he lost it.” Dizzy’s eyes fell back down to the floor. “He just started hitting me and I-I don’t know!” He yelped, but this time I pulled him in close as tears began to fall from my own eyes. Adam let out a heavy breath and let us have a few moments to calm down before he motioned for me to let Dizzy go. Adam slowly inched closer and grabbed Dizzy’s closed hands before he could push away. “Hey,” Adam let out, forcing eye contact with him. “you’re safe here. You’re safe here.” He insisted as Dizzy tried to break free. “I promise you that.” Adam took another second to recollect himself as Dizzy finally began to calm down. “I-I’m so sorry about what happened to you, and you, you can stay here as long as you need.” Adam offered. “You’re such a brave kid.” He tried to comfort. “And you’re right, you don’t know when to stop, but that’s your strength.” “Sticking up for your mom, taking the beating for her, that’s what a man does.” He explained. “And it’s not right, it’s not right at all. But you know what? Your Mom’s boyfriend is scared of you. He’s scared of what you were saying, that’s why he hit you. Small minds, they just can’t handle people like you.” “People who say too much?” Dizzy exhaled as he shook his head. “No,” Adam quickly rejected, finally letting him go. “people who speak the truth. You still have the spare key?” Adam asked, drawing a faint nod from Dizzy. “Good.” Adam remarked as Dizzy offered him the key. “Keep it.” He instructed. “You let yourself in whenever you need to. It should work for the front door too. And we, we’ll talk about this more in the morning.” “Thank you.” Dizzy exhaled in shock. “Thank you.” He repeated, lunging forward and wrapping himself around Adam. When I was proud of Adam before, well, that pride had barely scratched the surface compared to now. Adam easily could’ve called the police and had them deal with it. This isn’t his kid, this isn’t something he has to deal with, yet he is. Before he was trying his hardest to be a good role model, but like I said, it’s something he just knows how to do. I’m scared to tell him about the custody issue, but now I know he’ll have a plan. Now I know he’s strong enough to handle it.
  12. Aceinthehole


    -Part 2- Chapter 18: Surprises As my surprise birthday party carried on I couldn’t help but fall quiet and watch everything unfold. We didn’t need the T.V. or music to entertain us. Instead we sat around my couch, just, talking. Okay fine, shouting, but still, you get the idea! “You alright?” The blond haired teen with crystal blue eyes next to me asked. “You’re getting kind of spacey.” “I’m fine.” I forced a smile and pulled myself back into reality. “Just still a little surprised is all.” “It’s been a good three hours.” Charlotte pointed out with a skeptical look. “I know, but, I’ve never had something like this happen to me before.” I shrugged as a light blush began on my face. “I guess I’m just trying to appreciate it is all.” “Call me crazy, but the best way to do that might be by staying right here in the moment not up in outer space.” Dizzy began to tease. “I’m not up in space.” I hid a smile as our eyes connected. “That doesn’t even make sense!” “Cut him a some slack.” Ky tried to defend. “How would you like it if we all hid in your house?” “Depends on where in my house.” He playfully winked towards Ky. “The kitchen, kind of bored, but now my bedroom,” “Dizzy.” I warned as Adam rolled his eyes from across the couch. “Yes, space cadet?” His smirk grew wider as he turned back to me. I let out a deep breath and looked towards Charlotte for help but only got a shake of her head. “That’s your boyfriend. It’s up to you to control him.” I noticed Ky’s face change as he heard those words. In his world we were still just fooling around with one another, but now, now he knows its official. “I know, but a little help is always nice.” I began before forcing eye contact with Ky. “How’d you put up with him for so long?” “A lot of Advil.” He teased with a fake smile. “But in a way it’s nice, sure, he turns everything into a joke, but at least you know he’s always being genuine. He doesn’t hide much.” “Aside from his art.” I pressured, looking back towards the teen next to me. As our eyes connected he quickly raised his eye brows twice and let his smile turn sincere. “You are my Art.” He let out, drawing a groan from the group. “Get it, because your name is Arthur?” “And with that, I’m out.” Charlotte announced as she rose to her feet. “No!” I whined, I went to stand up but Dizzy grabbed me and held me before I could. “It’s a school night.” She reminded me. “And don’t you have your first baseball game tomorrow?” “Maybe.” I mumbled, looking over to Ky who had now joined Charlotte in standing. “You can’t leave too!” I protested. “Sorry, but she’s got a point.” He shrugged. “Don’t worry Art, I’m still here.” Dizzy continued to joke. “Don’t call me that.” I warned as I tried to manage a serious look. “Sorry, I know you prefer space cadet.” He giggled as I pulled away from him and stood up. “You guys are leaving me with this.” I pointed out as I hugged Charlotte and Ky goodbye. “Didn’t make you date him!” Charlotte playfully yelped as they quickly made their escape and I fell back down into my seat. “Adam,” Dizzy began, shifting his attention to the only other person left in the room. “If you want to sleep over, you can sleep on the couch.” Adam cut off, not even bothering to hear what else Dizzy had to say. “And I’m only making an exception because it’s Artie’s birthday.” “Really?” I excitedly asked, nearly jumping right back out of my seat. “Yes, but this is one time only.” He warned as he stood up. “But what if the couch gets lonely?” Dizzy whined drawing a strict look from Adam. “Don’t push it!” I scolded Dizzy, turning back towards my Uncle. “Thank you!” “Thanks.” Dizzy echoed as their eyes locked. “Don’t even think about sneaking up to his room either.” He continued in the strictest voice he could manage. “I get up before the sun, so I’ll know who’s sleeping where.” “Alright, alright, message received.” Dizzy sighed as Adam headed towards the stairs. “Good night boys, I’ll see you at your game Artie.” Adam forced a tired smile. “Thank you.” I accepted, mirroring the smile on his face. “Happy Birthday buddy.” He forced out once more before disappearing up the stairs. “I thought he’d never leave!” Dizzy teased in a loud voice. “It’s just us. You can drop the act now.” I offered, more for my sake than his. “Sure thing Art.” His smile grew as he rose to his feet. “I’m serious, don’t call me that.” I exhaled, watching him walk around the couch and to his backpack. “Sorry, I know, I know, its space cadet.” He continued, digging deep into his bag. “That joke’s overplayed now, and it wasn’t even that funny in the first place, Ryan.” I played along, as he let out an exaggerated breath at my words. “Ouch.” He let out. “You hit hard Artie Price, I don’t even know if I want to give this to you now.” He shrugged, showing off a gift wrapped rectangle in his hands. “I warned you.” I smiled once more as he took his seat. “I understand if you want to break up with me.” “You’re not getting rid of me that easy.” He giggled, but hesitated as he went to hand me his gift. “You actually don’t want to give it to me!” I shouted, figuring he was turning the joke into a game. “No, I, it’s not like that.” He began to stutter, still not handing it over. “Then what’s it like?” I provoked in a flirtatious voice. “It’s like, you’ve never seen any of my real art and maybe, maybe I am ready to show you it.” He exhaled, finally handing it over and lightly kissing me on the cheek. “Happy Birthday Artie.” I took a deep breath, but as I went to open the gift I was surprised to feel Dizzy’s nerves spread to me. “I didn’t have long to work on it,” He suddenly began to defend, before I could even see it. “and I usually only work with spray paint. Pencil drawings, they’re just something I do for fun. I don’t even show them to people, let alone give them as gifts.” As I finally began to pull at the paper he quickly leaned over once again. “Plus, I didn’t have any references. I had to work completely off memory. I, you can even ask Charlotte, that’s not an easy thing to do.” He continued to ramble. “Not that I’m trying to pat myself on the back or anything here, just, just trying to explain why it’s not that good.” As I finally ripped the paper away I found a black picture frame that held a drawing which froze my heart. Dizzy continued to speak, “That sounds like an excuse, well, I guess it is an excuse. Maybe I’m not that good is what I’m trying to say. I guess.” “Stop talking.” I finally forced out, unable to remove my eyes from a drawing of my mother hugging me. My head was laying on her shoulder as she was pulling me in close. “I’m sorry,” He anxiously began as he saw the first tear drop fall from my eyes. “I was worried it’d be too soon, and maybe, maybe I didn’t know you well enough to draw that. But I could tell how much she meant to you and I figured you didn’t have enough pictures with her.” He gulped. “Plus I meant it when I said she was beautiful, and I like drawing beautiful people. I actually have a few sketches of you from the bridge when we first met, maybe that sounds creepy. I-I’ll stop talking now.” “Dizzy,” I finally managed, trying my hardest to stop my tears. “this, this is the most meaningful gifts anyone’s ever given me. “You don’t have to be nice.” He sighed, staring down at his feet. “I’m not, I just,” I paused before reaching out and forcing his head up. “I need you to stop doubting yourself for a second, and just, Thank you!” I exhaled, putting the picture down and pulling him in close. “Of course.” He replied, caught off guard by my reaction. “And for the record, you’re a great artist.” I encouraged. “I’d love to see those other sketches of me one of these days.” As he heard those words I felt him pull me in even tighter. There wasn’t much more that needed to be said that night. We just enjoyed each other’s company, until finally we both passed out on the couch. -- -- “Come on,” I heard a tired voice sigh as I was shaken awake. “you don’t have to wake up, you just have to get to your bed.” “What?” I groaned as I finally began to open my eyes. “You guys fell asleep on the couch I guess,” Adam sighed, taking another look at both me and Dizzy. “but I get the feeling you’d be a lot more comfortable in your bed.” “What time is it?” I complained, forcing myself up to my feet and grabbing the picture off the coffee table. “A little after five, you still have a couple more hours to sleep.” He explained, helping lead me up to my room. “In an actual bed this time, your body will thank you.” “You couldn’t’ve just let me sleep?” I whined. “You never said I couldn’t spend the night on the couch.” “If I don’t start enforcing rules now, your boyfriend will never take them seriously.” Adam warned as we finally reached my room. “Fine.” I accepted, knowing he had a point. Adam watched closely as I placed the frame on my nightstand before crawling into bed. “Where’d you get that?” He asked, taking a long look at it. “Dizzy drew it for my birthday.” I forced out in a tired breath. “It, it’s really nice.” Adam began to smile. “Dizzy, he, well, you’ve found a good one.” “Then maybe next time you can just let us sleep in a bed!” I protested, too tired to watch my words. “We’ll talk about that when you turn eighteen.” He laughed, before starting to shut the door. “Now go back to sleep, I’ll see you after school.” “Yeah, yeah.” I muttered before closing my eyes and letting myself slowly fade back into unconsciousness. -- -- This time when I was woken up it was because Dizzy had jumped into my bed. “Good morning!” He shouted, already awake and ready to go. I let out a long groan before feeling him crawl on top of me. “Adam woke me up at like five and forced me to come upstairs.” “Was he pissed?” Dizzy asked, pulling back until he got his answer. “Not really.” I swayed my head. “I think he just wanted to make a point.” “Well that’s stupid.” Dizzy teased before starting to shake the mattress around me. “Either way it’s time to wake up!” “Stop.” I complained as he began to laugh. “How do you have this much energy already?” “Cocaine.” He shrugged with a smile. “Not funny.” I rolled my eyes. “But, maybe we should put that energy to good use.” “Yeah?” His smile began to grow. “Yeah, otherwise you won’t be able to pay attention in class.” I continued to provoke him. “Can’t argue with that.” He giggled, and just like that our morning took a more, excited, turn. I never imagine this would’ve been me, staying in bed late to mess around with the person I was dating. But I’ve grown a lot this past month! For better or for worse, this is me now. I bend some rules and try to have some fun, is that such a crime? That is, until I realized we were going to be late for school! Dizzy tried his hardest to calm me down, but I could tell he kind of enjoyed watching me freak out. It was his chance to take care of me, to show me he’s got my back. When we got to school the back doors were locked, but he texted Ky and just like that we were in the building. “Mr. Iwata,” Mrs. Mowry began as she shot us a skeptical look. “you went to the bathroom and found Mr. Price and Mr. Armstrong there?” “Well Dizzy fell in and Artie was just trying to help him out, thank God I came along to help.” Ky joked, drawing laughter from the class. “Ky!” Mrs. Mowry scolded, shocked at his joke. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.” Ky sighed. “This is your second time in two weeks being late.” Mrs. Mowry began. “It’s my fault, Dizzy came to pick me up this morning, but I accidently slept past my alarms.” I suddenly interrupted. “He was just being a good friend.” Mrs. Mowry watching me closely as I tried my hardest to match my words with the expression on my face. She took a breath before quietly nodding her head. “I’ll let it go this time for your honesty, but next time it’s detentions for all three of you, understood?.” “Yes Ma’am.” I quickly accepted. “Thank you.” “Thank you.” Dizzy and Ky echoed. “I totally had it taken care of.” Dizzy whispered as we took our seats. “Then why didn’t you say something?” I teased. “Wanted to see what would happen.” He shrugged. “Sure.” Ky rolled his eyes. “You’re lucky Artie spoke up, or I totally would’ve kicked your ass.” Dizzy nodded his head and glanced over to me. “You’ve become quite the trouble maker, haven’t you?” “I’m just full of surprises.” I shrugged before Charlotte shot us all a serious look. “Would you three shut up before you get in even more trouble!” She scolded. “It’s like you’re trying to get detention!” “Sorry.” We all mumbled as she forced us back in line. The rest of the day we made sure to keep our heads down the best we could. I don’t know if it was our early morning activities, or the fact that I was the one that saved us from detention, but Dizzy seemed a lot more into me than usual. Not that I’m complaining! It’s nice to have his attention. The guy who amuses everyone, all to myself. Maybe that’s why we get along so well. He likes to put on a show and well, I like to watch. But when school ended we found ourselves in two opposite roles. He was in the bleachers, eagerly waiting for the game to start while me, I was in the dugout, trying my hardest to keep my lunch down. “Don’t look so nervous Artie.” One of the guys tried to comfort. “You’ve been practicing with us for weeks. You’re ready for the season.” “I know.” I forced a nod. “Then show us.” Jose spoke up from the other side of the dugout. “Like we keep telling you, this is all for fun. We’re usually the worst team in the High School league anyway, so just enjoy getting to play.” “I-I kind of want to win though.” I nervously spoke up. “Then lead us there.” Jose encouraged, waiving the rest of the team to take the field. I followed his instructions and found my spot between second and third base. I could feel my heart racing in my chest the whole half inning but did my best to make the plays I could. I was even able to manage an assist on one of the outs. “Alright kid, you lead off.” Jose began as we changed innings. “Just have fun with it. You’re a smart player. Use that to your advantage. No one’s expecting Babe Ruth to show up at the plate.” I forced a smile and grabbed my bat and helmet before heading towards the plate. It took everything in me to keep a straight face as I heard my name over the loudspeaker followed by a country song the team had picked out for my walk up. Once more my heart began to race in my chest, but I did everything I could to stay focused. I wouldn’t call my first at bat good by any means, but before I knew it I found myself in a full count. I tried my hardest to focus, but as a breaking ball came in, I panicked and took an errant swing. Yet before the Ump could even make a call I noticed the ball bounce down into the dirt before the catcher’s glove and started to run. Everyone watched me in confusion until finally the pitcher started to scream at his catcher, causing him to bobble the dropped ball even more! It was still close, but I made it! Leaving some of the crowd confused at the play. “Now that’s what I’m talking about.” The first base coach laughed as I tried to catch my breath. “I knew you were a grinder Artie.” “I shouldn’t’ve swung at that.” I shook my head. “Forget about that.” Coach dismissed. “The important thing is you hustled your ass off after making a mistake. You made a smart hardworking play. Exactly what I would expect from a Texas baseball player.” He encouraged drawing a proud smile from my face. “I wouldn’t want any other at bat to start the season. Keep setting the bar like that and you’re going to go far kid.” I nodded and let my smile fade as I began to focus on the next at bat. Every now and again I would look over to Adam, Artie, Ky and Charlotte for support, but for the most part I tried to keep my eyes on the game. I wouldn’t say it was the best game I’d ever played, but I made sure to work my ass off every chance I could. I want to make a name for myself on this team. I want everyone to look at me the way our first base coach did when I got there. For everyone to know I don’t let up until the game is over. We wound up losing by a run, but I could tell the attitude in the dugout was changing. I could tell things were taking a more serious turn. “You weren’t kidding when you said you wanted to win.” Jose began as we threw our bags over our shoulders. “Nope.” I shook my head as he took a long look at my dirt stained uniform. “Good,” He nodded his head. “we’ve needed that attitude around here. Your hard work keeps everyone accountable. “I don’t know about that.” I nervously laughed. “I just…” I paused, not knowing what to say. “You just don’t quit all game. It’s annoying.” He teased. “But as long as you don’t take any breaks, no one else will.” “Oh,” I exhaled, trying to hide another proud smile. “well I wouldn’t expect any breaks soon.” “I don’t.” He laughed as I noticed my group of friends starting to approach. “You’ve got a good attitude Artie. You’re going to be one hell of a leader one day.” “I um, I don’t know…” I began but he kept walking as my friends stopped me in my tracks. “That was amazing!” Charlotte shouted as she gave me a quick hug. “You were so good!” “My little baseball player.” Dizzy teased, quickly swapping places with her as she let me go. “Ew! You’re all dirty and sweaty!” “Good game man.” Ky encouraged, ignoring Dizzy’s words. I nodded and let them keep talking about the game, but noticed Adam keeping his distance from the group. “Excuse me.” I slipped away as their conversation drifted from baseball. “What’d you think?” I nervously asked as I walked up to Adam. “Good, really good.” Adam nodded his head. “You okay?” I pried, noticing how odd he was acting. “Yeah.” He answered, falling distant once more. “You don’t have to come to games if you don’t want to.” I forced out, not knowing how to take his behavior. “It’s not that.” He shook his head. “Oh.” I exhaled. “Then um, what is it?” He shrugged his shoulders but forced himself to look into my eyes. “I, I’m proud of you. I know Sarah would be too, you have her spirit, you know that?” “Oh.” I repeated. “I just played the way she raised me to.” “It showed.” He tried to encourage but as he fell quiet once more I shot him a strange look. “I’m being weird, aren’t I?” “Oh yeah.” I finally began to smile. “I’m sorry, I just, I’m so proud of the way you played today Artie.” He shook his head. “And I, I’m trying to find the right words to make you understand that. But my Dad, he, I just never had a good example of how to show that I guess.” “I think I understand.” I nodded. “I really really hope you do.” Adam forced out. “Because I, I’ve never been so proud of anything in my life. Not even my own business! You just, you kicked ass! It’s like every day you find a new way to surprise me. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m so lucky to have you living with me.” “I’m so lucky you took me in.” I let out, before forcing a hug. At first he wasn’t sure about the public affection, but gave in and hugged me back. I really do understand what he was trying to say. It’s hard enough for us to show affection inside the privacy of our own home, let alone in public! His Dad never told him he was proud, kissed him goodnight, or gave him hugs. But Adam, he wants to be different than that, he just doesn’t fully know how. But even then, he’s doing a great job. His lack of words, well that told me all I needed to know about what he was thinking. The conversation about Sadie’s call can wait until tomorrow. Tonight, well I want to help Adam understand I hear him loud and clear.
  13. Aceinthehole


    Chapter 17: Family I once read that if you change how you look at the world, the world around you will change. Honestly, when I first read it I rolled my eyes. It just makes change sound so easy. But the reality is change isn’t easy, and we all know that. These past few weeks, they’ve been fun, but it took everything in me to survive them. It took everything to get through the nights I cried myself to sleep, but I stuck with it and now, well now I’m falling asleep with Dizzy in my arms. When I woke up the next morning I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. Sure, last night was a big night for me. But todays a big day for me too! It’s my birthday! It’s not like I expect a big celebration or anything, but I don’t know, I guess I’m just turning sixteen in style! “Good morning.” Dizzy forced a smile as he woke up in my arms. “How are you feeling?” “Amazing.” I smirked, holding him tightly. “I wonder why that could be.” He provoked, falling quiet and letting me hold him for a little bit longer. “Today’s just a special day I guess.” I finally spoke, breaking the temporary silence. “Then let’s start it right.” He teased, breaking from my grasp and turning back over. Just like last night our bond seemed to strengthen as we lay together. This time there was no nervousness or hesitations. We’ve crossed the last barrier between us, and now we’re closer than I ever could’ve hoped. When we finally made it downstairs I couldn’t help but let out a sigh as I saw a note on the kitchen table. I knew he was going to go to work today, but I don’t know, it would’ve been nice to have him around. “You know the drill. Have a good Saturday and text me if you go out. I’ll be home later. - Adam “ That’s it? That’s all he wrote? I guess he doesn’t know what today is. I mean, why would he? He just took me in. Plus he has a lot going on, between work and Bradley, I guess he’s focusing on getting himself back on track. “What’s wrong?” Dizzy asked as he noticed the look on my face. “Nothing.” I forced a smile. “Just zoned out for a second there.” “Weirdo.” He teased, before jumping on the couch and turning on the X-box. “Game of Thrones?” “Set it up!” I encouraged in a loud voice before sitting close to him. “You sure you’re alright?” He checked as he pulled me onto him. “Just fine.” I answered with a forced smile. “You can talk to me if somethings bothering you.” He offered as our eyes met. “I know,” I nodded my head. “but nothing’s wrong.” “You’re such a bad liar.” He groaned, but started the episode anyway. We spent the whole morning and afternoon just watching T.V. and talking. It really is interesting to see what he has to say. It’s like his mind works so different from anyone I’ve ever met. He doesn’t wonder about things the way I do, he just takes action. Yet no matter how much we talked, I never told him about my birthday. I just don’t want it to become this whole big thing. Besides, I can give up one birthday. The world doesn’t revolve around me! “Alright,” Dizzy finally stood up as the afternoon began to tick away. “I better get home before my Mom starts freaking out.” “She worries?” I asked in a curious voice. “Every minute of the day,” He complained, leaning in and planting a kiss on my lips. “but she’ll be happy to hear I was just with you.” “She likes me?” I pried, nervous what his answer would be. “I think so.” He happily nodded. “But it could just be because you brought her donuts.” “That’s alright. I think that’s why you like me too.” I teased as he raised his eyebrows. “It’s just an added bonus.” He smirked, making sure to slow his pace as he approached the front door. “She really does like you though.” “Good.” I felt my smile grow. “So then I get to see her again soon?” “We’ll see.” He swayed his head. “We’ll see?” I repeated in a laugh. “That’s my Momma you’re talking about.” He warned, not putting too much thought into his words. “You know where I’m coming from.” “I guess,” I shrugged. “you just take protective to a whole ‘nother level.” “She’s had enough people hurt her in her life.” He explained in a serious voice. “She doesn’t need anymore.” “Is that why you don’t like her boyfriend?” I dared to asked but got a blank stare back. “I’ll see you tomorrow Artie.” He forced a smile as he pulled the door open. “Not tonight?” I teased. “Maybe tonight.” He admitted in a sigh before shutting the door behind him. I sat in silence for a few moments before finally pulling out my phone and texting ‘S.O.S.’ to Charlotte. I made sure to tell her it wasn’t a real emergency, but she insisted on coming by as soon as possible anyway! Before I knew it a fast paced knocking sounded out from the front door. “What’s going on?” She demanded as I pulled the door open. “Are you okay?” “I’m great.” I shrugged as I led her to the couch. “Then what’s S.O.S.?” She asked in a concerned voice. “I told you it’s nothing bad.” I couldn’t help but giggle as I saw the intense look on her face. “You’ve been spending too much time with Dizzy!” She whined. “This is just cruel!” “Alright, Alright.” I tried to comfort. “I, I slept with Dizzy last night.” “Slept like, sex?!” She exclaimed in a loud voice. “Yeah.” I felt a blush overtake my face. “Is he as crazy as everyone says?!” She asked, nearly jumping on top of me in excitement. “I don’t know,” My blush grew. “I don’t kiss and tell.” “Well you just told!” She shouted. “So you better explain!” “He’s a little crazy,” I admitted in a giggle. “but he took it slow.” “How did you feel about it?” She prodded, knowing there was no barrier to how much I would share with her. “It was good, but this morning was better.” I teased, causing her to jump in the air. “That’s my best friend!” She encouraged as I began to open up. I tried my hardest not to share too much, but deep down we all knew I would tell her, Dizzy included! She was just as supportive as I hoped she would be. She even told me about her first time with a guy! It was a few months ago with an ex-boyfriend that goes to another high school, or so she says! Yet as Adam walked into the front door our conversation immediately stopped. He gave us a weird look but didn’t say anything. “Charlotte, right?” He finally spoke, breaking the silence. “Yup.” She forced a quick smile. “It’s nice to actually meet you Mr. Price.” “You can just call me Adam.” He dismissed, walking over to the stairs and dropping his bag. “Dizzy’s not here?” “Believe it or not, I don’t spend all of my time with him.” I defended, looking back at him. “Sure you don’t.” Adam played along. “So you won’t be hanging out with him tonight.” “Probably not.” I shrugged, not knowing what the night held. “Actually,” Charlotte began. “I was going to ask if you wanted to sleep over at my house tonight.” “Can I?” I excitedly asked, looking back to Adam for permission. “I don’t know,” He hesitated. “it’s nothing personal, I’ve just never met your parents and I don’t know where you live or,” “Come on Adam.” I began to pressure. “It’s just Charlotte, it’s not like I’m straight!” “Yeah, but, I don’t know.” He stuttered, trying his hardest to think it over. “I live right over in the Lower Pacific Heights, it’s just like, ten minutes away.” Charlotte began to work him over. “My Dad’s a financial advisor and my Mom’s a therapist. I can call them if you really want me to.” “No, I, its fine.” He finally caved. “You can sleep over.” “Yeah?” I asked with a wide smile. “Yeah.” He exhaled. “Go pack your backpack or whatever you want.” “I’ll tell my Mom we’ll be home in time for dinner!” Charlotte exclaimed as I jumped to my feet. “Mind if we leave soon?” She asked looking over to Adam. “Go for it.” He tried to encourage, but I could tell it was bothering him. I’ve slept over at few friends’ houses before, but never with a friend as close as Charlotte, and never with a girl! But considering how I spent last night, well, a sleepover with Charlotte is probably something Adam should be rooting for! When I finally packed my bag and headed downstairs I couldn’t help but feel my heart begin to beat faster. “Alright, I, I’ll be home tomorrow morning I guess.” I forced out as Adam locked eyes with me. “Okay, text me if anything changes, or if you forgot anything,” Adam began to ramble. “or if you just want to come home. I don’t care what time it is, just, text me if you need something.” “I will.” I nervously accepted. “I, if you want me to come home tonight, you can text me too.” I offered as he nodded his head. “But you should maybe have Lindsay over for some drinks, or just go out and maybe, maybe invite Mason.” “Maybe.” He repeated before falling quiet and just staring into my eyes. “Behave, remember your manners,” he finally began once more. “and don’t stay up too late.” “I won’t.” I forced a smile as I finally began to walk towards the door. “I love you Artie.” He forced out, surprising both of us. “I love you too.” I replied, trying to fight off a wide smile. I noticed Charlotte watching me closely as we left the house and made our way to the bus stop. “I didn’t realize you two were so close.” She finally said. “We’ve just spend a lot of time together since he took me in.” I admitted, staring straight ahead. “I don’t know, it might be kind of hard not to be with him tonight.” “It’s alright,” She tried to comfort. “you’ll be with me, and I guess, if you do get homesick I can have my brother drive you home.” “Thank you Charlotte.” I forced a smile as the bus pulled up. It didn’t take long to get to Charlotte’s house, but when we pulled up I was surprised to find a house very different from Dizzy’s. It was a similar style to my own, but a bit wider and sat on top of a large garage. As she led me up the stairs I felt nerves sweep over my body. How much has Charlotte told her family that they’re okay with me sleeping over? I mean sure, I’m gay, but they don’t know that’s the truth! For all they know I’m lying to spend the night with Char! “Mom!” Charlotte called out as we walked through the front door. “Artie and I are home.” “Okay,” A female voice responded. “go wash up, dinner should be ready soon!” We did as instructed and before I knew it I was entering the dining room of Charlotte’s home. It all really was like my own. The only difference is that they seem to have a lot more space! I couldn’t help but gulp hard as two men nearly half a foot taller than me walked by. “Artie, this is my Dad and brother Jamaal.” Charlotte happily introduced us as they turned to look at me. “Good to meet you sir.” I greeted as we shook hands. “Nice to meet you too,” He reciprocated. “especially after hearing about you nearly every day for weeks.” “It’s almost like you’re more than friends.” Jamaal couldn’t help but tease, taking the chance to push his sister’s buttons. “Don’t be stupid.” Charlotte warned with a serious look. “We’re just friends.” I tried to defend. “Trust me, I-I’m not into girls.” Mr. Charles nodded his head, but I could tell he had some suspicions of his own. “Leave him be.” A woman who looked like an older version of Charlotte warned. “He doesn’t have to defend himself to you Jamaal.” “Mom, this is Artie.” Charlotte happily began once more as her Mom entered the room. “He is cute.” She remarked as our eyes connected. “No wonder Dizzy’s crazy over him.” “Mom!” Charlotte hushed, as I began to see just how much she shared with her mom. “Woh, woh,” Mr. Charles began. “you’re dating little Ryan Armstrong?” “You know he hates that name.” Charlotte warned in a serious look. “It’s his God given name.” The man shrugged. “He’s sixteen years old, I think it’s time to leave silly nicknames behind.” “it’s more than a nickname.” She continued to argue. “It’s fine.” I forced a smile. “Dizzy’s my boyfriend.” I confirmed. “Then God bless you.” The man remarked. “He’s a sweet guy.” I shrugged, trying my hardest to fight off a blush. “Yes, he is.” Mrs. Charles agreed. “Well I know his wild side.” Mr. Charles complained. “Because there’s no way Charlotte got a few detentions from her own actions.” Jamaal rolled his eyes. “No, there’s not.” Mr. Charles warned. “She was covering for Ryan. I know she was.” “She’s been covering for that boy since they could walk, and so has Ky.” Mrs. Charles dismissed. “That’s what you do for family.” “Preach Mama.” Charlotte encouraged, leading me to the dinner table and pulling out a chair for me. “Besides, Artie’s changing Dizzy. He’s actually starting to calm down for a change.” “I’ll believe that when I see it.” Jamaal chuckled, making sure to look me up and down once more. “Me too.” Mr. Charles agreed, taking a seat at the head of the table. “Enough about Ryan.” Mrs. Charles tried to dismiss. “I hear you’re an athlete Artie.” “Yes ma’am.” I nodded, happy with the change in conversation. “I’m on the school baseball team.” “You know Jose?” Jamaal quickly asked, drawing another nod from me. “That’s my boy right there.” “He’s really cool.” I agreed as a smile began on my face. “Jamaal played baseball growing up, but moved onto basketball when he entered High School.” Mr. Charles explained as his wife left the room to retrieve dinner. “A real man’s sport.” Jamaal couldn’t help but tease. “Don’t be a jerk.” Charlotte warned. “I’m just playing around.” Jamaal defended with a smirk. “I’ll tell Jose to look out for you.” “How about you look out for him?” Charlotte pressured with a serious look. “I will.” Jamaal nodded. “I see you guys around school from time to time.” “I, uh, why do I need people to look out for me?” I nervously asked. “Just good to have people in your corner.” Charlotte forced a smile. “Plus you’re an athlete now, so it’s like a stupid guy thing to root one another on.” “It’s not stupid.” Mr. Charles cautioned as he shot his daughter a serious look. “They’re building a team across all sports.” “We get the picture.” Mrs. Charles silenced as she reentered the room with a tray of what looked like pork ribs. “Now Artie, I hope you like barbeque. My husband has spent all afternoon grilling these up.” “Nice and slow.” He proudly bragged. “I love barbeque.” I confessed with a smile. “I’m from Texas.” “Well I don’t mean to toot my own horn,” Mr. Charles began. “He does.” Charlotte interrupted. “but I’m a pretty good cook.” He continued, staring down his daughter once more. “You’ll have to let me know how it compares to Texas barbeque.” “Gladly.” I accepted as Mrs. Charles passed around some ribs. “You a religious man?” Mr. Charles asked me once we all received our food. “Yes sir.” I answered with a proud nod. “Well then why don’t you lead us in prayer.” He offered as everyone around me began to connect hands. I nodded once more and held their hands as I began to pray the way my Mom had taught me. For the first time since I left, it felt like I was right back at home. Like God was with us as we prayed. “You know Artie,” Mr. Charles began. “If you’d like you can join us in church tomorrow morning.” “You don’t have to do that.” Charlotte tried to offer me a way out. “I want to.” I quickly accepted. “Thank you sir.” “Of course.” The first real smile all evening began on his face. “You’re welcome to join us every Sunday.” “I might just have to take you up on that.” I teased, surprising Charlotte even more. The rest of the night went a lot easier than the start. Sure, Mr. Charles and Jamaal still gave me a hard time every now and again, but it was only because they cared about Charlotte. They wanted what’s best for her, and I really can’t blame them for that. After we helped them clean up Charlotte’s parents let us go hang out in her room for a while. It was a lot girlier than I initially expected, but flashes of who Charlotte really was proudly showed along her walls in the form of her artwork. Just like at my house we spoke about everything and anything until finally I fell quiet for a little while. “Alright,” Charlotte sighed, sick of my one word answers. “What’s going on? Do you want to go home?” “No.” I shot down with a quick shake of my head. “Okay, then what’s wrong?” She asked with a serious look. “Nothing.” I lied as the weight of the day began to hit me. I know I said it’s not a big deal, I know I said I could pass on one birthday, but I don’t know. I guess I did want to celebrate it a little bit. It would’ve been nice to have cake with Adam and my friends. I don’t even want presents! I just want, well, to be a normal kid again. “Artie,” She pressured as she moved closer to me. “do you want Jamaal to drive you home?” “No.” I tried to reject. “I’m good here.” “Then tell me what’s on your mind.” She insisted. “So help me God I’ll text Dizzy.” “It’s my birthday.” I finally confessed in a sigh. “What?” She asked as shocked filled her face. “It’s my birthday.” I dejectedly repeated. “Why didn’t you tell me?!” She exclaimed, reaching over and grabbing my hand. “Is that why Adam didn’t want you sleeping over?” “He didn’t know.” I shook my head. “No one did.” “I’m so sorry Artie.” She apologized as our eyes met. “I, let’s do something tomorrow. You, me and Ky.” “No.” I tried to reject. “It’s fine, I, I’d rather leave it be.” “Artie,” She began once more. “I’m serious.” I insisted. “Besides, I am doing something for my birthday, I’m hanging out with you.” “And you got some birthday sex this morning.” She tried to encourage. “And I got some birthday sex.” I began to smile. “Happy Birthday Artie.” She reached out and hugged me. Something about that embrace just helped the night to go on a lot easier. It reminded me just how close the two of us were. That she was more than just a friend. That she had become family. The next morning I got a strong reminder of that as I sat next to the Charles’ in mass, they even took me to lunch after! Mr. Charles is strict and disciplined, but behind it all was a big heart for his family. He wanted what was best for his kids, and for the friends they hung out with. In a lot of ways he reminds me of the country men I grew up around. Just a lot more, friendly. There was something special about that morning and afternoon. Something about renewing my faith with my best friend. Somehow I swear it pulled us even closer. It was as though it was what God had wanted for me. Whether I believe that or not, well, it was a powerful thing. “Alright Artie,” Mr. Charles began as we pulled up to my house. “I’ll see you next Sunday for mass?” “Yes sir.” I happily agreed. “It was nice having you last night.” Mrs. Charles encouraged. “You’re welcome over whenever you’d like.” “Thank you for having me.” I smiled as I slowly got out of the car. “I’ll be home later.” Charlotte suddenly explained as she followed me. “It’s a school night,” Mr. Charles began to warn. “Let her go.” Mrs. Charles argued with a smile. “The years almost done.” “Be home early.” Mr. Charles warned as she joined me on the curb. “Are coming in?” I asked as she shut the car door behind her. “I just need to talk to you about something.” Charlotte shrugged, happily following me up the stairs to my house. “We’ve been non-stop talking since yesterday.” I began to laugh. “Well I think a lot.” She dismissed, but as we reached the front door I heard some hushed talking from the other side. “I know they’re here!” I heard Adam quietly shout. “No stop before they hear us.” “I’m not the one talking!” that sounded like Dizzy arguing back. “What’s going on?” I skeptically asked as I forced my keys into the door. “Nothing’s going on.” She smirked as I finally got the door open. “Surprise!” A group of Adam, Ky and Dizzy shouted as I turned the lights on. “Happy Birthday!” Dizzy shouted out as our eyes connected. “I, what,” I paused, looking over to Charlotte. “What’d you do?” “I just texted Dizzy that maybe we missed your birthday yesterday.” She shrugged. “He took care of the rest.” “I knew something was bothering you.” Dizzy teased as he walked over and pulled me in close. “Happy Birthday babe.” “Thank you.” I exhaled holding him close. As I pulled away from him I felt Adam pull me in close. “Happy Birthday Artie.” He began. “I am so sorry I forgot.” “It’s alright.” I quickly tried to comfort him before he could feel too bad. “It’s not.” He rejected. “You deserve better than that. I need to be better for you.” “Don’t say that.” I insisted in a strong voice. “I promise you’re doing an amazing job.” “Well just in case I’m not,” He let me go and reached behind the couch. “Happy Birthday!!” As he pulled out a baseball bat and glove I couldn’t believe my eyes. “This is what you wanted, right?” He asked as I stood there speechless. “I saw you looking at a few on your phone, and Dizzy said he did too.” “I, they, they’re perfect.” I finally let out, taking a long look at the glove as he handed it over to me. Without warning I reached out and pulled him in for another big hug. It’s not that I wanted presents. It’s not that I was looking to get anything. It’s that Adam cares enough to remember the little things. That with a day’s notice he could remember what I was looking at on my phone screen and try his hardest to track it down. Now I know he didn’t forget my birthday, he just never really knew it. And that, well it’s something he’ll never do again. I just know it. -- -- My little party was full of playing around and laughter. Just like at the Charles’, I felt nothing but love. Adam tried to give us as much privacy as possible, but would come down and spend time with us every now and then. Dizzy tried his hardest to make Adam feel welcome, but I could tell a group of sixteen year olds wasn’t exactly Adam’s scene. Finally I received a phone call that pulled me away from the party for a little while. “Sadie?” I asked as the call connected and I slipped up to my room. “Happy late birthday Artie!” She shouted from the other end of the phone. “I’m sorry I couldn’t get through to you yesterday.” “Thank you, it’s alright, I was sleeping over at my friend’s house.” I explained but paused as a few different thoughts raced in my head. “Did you have time to think about what I said to you the other day?” “Yes.” She responded in a sigh. “If it means I get to keep my relationship with you, I, I’ll accept Adam, but that doesn’t meant I’ll like him.” “Why not? He’s a good guy.” I insisted in a whine. “He was a jerk when we were kids! He ripped the head off of one of his sister’s dolls on Halloween!” She explained, trying her hardest to hold back a laugh. “That does sound like Adam.” I giggled. “Well that aside,” She began once more. “I dug up more photos of you and Sarah. I shipped them a few days ago so keep your eyes open, okay?” “I will, I, thank you Sadie.” I let out, trying my hardest to keep away my emotions. “It’s no problem, if I find any more I’ll send them.” She cheerfully let out, but suddenly I could feel her breathing turn serious. “There’s uhm, something else.” “What?” I asked in a nervous voice. “I heard that your grandparents, they’re, well they might be pursuing a lawyer for custody.” She began, drawing a small gasp from me. “But don’t worry. I’m doing what I can to discourage it.” “But how can they do that?” I asked as my voice began to tremble. “I don’t know, something about what the hospital told them.” She tried to recall. “But that doesn’t mean they’re right. Her will said you belong with Adam, and if that’s what you want there’s no way they’ll take you from him.” “It is what I want.” I answered without hesitation. “Then I promise you, you have nothing to worry about.” She tried to comfort. “Just make sure you let Adam know, okay?” “I will.” I accepted. “Thank you Sadie.” “Of course,” She replied. “I’ll keep you updated the best I can. I love you Arthur.” “ I love you too.” I let out before the call disconnected. My Grandparents can try whatever they want, I’m not going anywhere. This is where my Mother wanted me. This is where I want to be. No one will take me away. No matter what anyone does. No one will take me away.
  14. Aceinthehole

    Tips for flirting with someone still in the closet

    That's good advice. Unfortunately he's not at work this week, so I'll have to try next week. Fingers crossed I don't accidentally cross a line!
  15. This is a bit of an odd topic but hear me out. Recently I made a new friend at work. Based off some subtle moments of catching each other staring and prolonged conversations, I'm pretty sure he's interested in something more. However, I'm very sure he's still closeted (we live in a religious area, and both grew up going to catholic schools). I'm only 22, but I haven't flirted with a closeted guy since High School. To be honest I've lost the art of subtle flirting and could use some tips to get me back on track! Any advice is welcome!

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