- Today was not...I mean... it didn't go quite the way that I expected it to go.
Honestly, I don't think anything really went the way that it was supposed to. Not today.
You know, when I got to school today...... heh... it was the strangest thing. Stevie had just finished locking up his bike. I guess he wasn't down for taking the bus today. I mean.... he could do either one if he wanted to. So.... you know... whatever....
Sorry. I'm babbling. And I don't have a whole lot of pages left in this book to do that. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I'm going to use the last few of them up tonight after the mistakes that I've made today.
Call it a flashback to who I've been for the last few weeks. Call it a retaliation for being let down to my lowest point. Or maybe I should just call it the indulgence in the most selfish of desires. But...I may have just put the last few nails in my coffin needed to seal me in once and for all.
Anyway... again, I'm babbling...
So I saw Stevie at the door, and we kinda exchanged a glance between us. A really cautious one. I don't think either one of us knew what to expect from the other. A friend? An enemy? A truce? A trick? Who knows. But he actually held the door open for me today. I thought it was kinda sweet of him to do that, and I was like, "It's ok. You go ahead."
But Stevie was like, "No, you first. It's cool."
We went back and forth a few times, and then we both broke out into a smile. Any other time, we would have rushed in and slammed the door in the other's face. Something about us being courteous to one another made us laugh. I said, "We can't start getting all friendly with one another. You know that, right? It's against the rules."
And with a really cute smile, he replied, "Well, you're the one who started it, ya dork. Hehehe! Just... go. Ok? Don't make me get rough with you."
Looking him up and down, I told him, "Dude, no offense, but there's nothing rough about you, Mr. Rainbow bracelet."
It was a temporary moment of camaraderie. One that I didn't expect to last, but I was kind of getting used to. We walked into the building, and didn't say anything else to one another as we went our separate ways. And yet, as we both kinda looked over our shoulders at each other, I found it weird that we ever built up so much animosity towards one another in the first place. I mean, I thought back to the first few times that I met Stevie... and he was really nice. Then Brandon became an issue, and I moved in to try to take him back and keep him for myself... which caused Stevie to fight for his boyfriend....
.... Wow. Maybe we were both taking things to extremes where they didn't need to be during that time, huh? I don't know.... maybe he's not so bad. He just... got on my evil side, that's all. It's hard for me to see the good in anyone in someone when they're on my evil side.
That was before....
So, I saw Brandon this morning at his locker. It was right after second period.... and I was...I was sooooo scared to talk to him. I didn't know if I really wanted him to see me or not. After what I wrote to him in that email.... all of that mushy garbage about how I missed him and just wanted us to be able to talk the way we used to....I was such a wuss about it all. I should have stood my ground and just kept my distance. I mean, a little while longer and he might have come to me instead, you know?
Anyway, he happened to look over at me while I was fighting with myself over whether I should talk or run for my life. Having him see me kinda forced my hand in that one. If I ran, he might think that I didn't mean what I said. And I DID mean it! I just....I didn't know if I should... arrrgh! Whatever. It's not like it matters now, anyway. :(
So I went to his locker, like, "Hey...."
Brandon was already blushing. He looked almost as nervous as I was at that moment. He said, "Hey..." Then there was, like... this eternal pause between. I mean, like... it was the most awkward, most uncomfortable moment that we've ever shared. I didn't offer another word. He didn't offer another word. But we were trying. Ugh! Even my breathing rhythm was off. It was just weird.
Brandon got what he needed out of his locker, and then he shut the door and locked it. Did he even get the email? Did he read it? Did he like it? What happened?
He lingered for a minute. He seemed to have trouble looking me in the eye, and for a moment, I was certain that I had just made the biggest mistake of my life. He started to talk and I started to apologize at the same time, our words jumbled up into this inaudible mess of words. I couldn't understand why this was so hard. But there I was, once again, exposed. The little opening that I gave him, that vulnerable chink in the armor, I was willing to allow him access. Brandon, and Brandon alone, could get a peek at my unguarded heart if he wanted to. I just...I needed him to say something. I needed a sign that it was ok.
Finally, after another long pause, I quietly said, "I sent you an email last night." I was physically trembling at the time, but I had to know.
Brandon looked down, turning even more red in the face. He's like, "Yeah. I got it. I mean, I read it. Last night."
I was like, "Oh. Ok. Good." Then... nothing. We squirmed and fidgeted for a few seconds more, and finally, as I felt my heart beginning to tear itself apart inside of my chest, I figured that it was best if I just made a hasty escape. I said, "I've gotta go to class. So, like... whatever..."
I started to walk away from him, but Brandon fought through the fear and the discomfort, and he closed his eyes as he called out to me, like, "Billy?"
I'm like, "Yeah?"
And then... with the sweetest look in his big brown eyes... Brandon said what he always says when he's too scared to speak the words out loud. He said, "I do too..."
My chest filled itself up with a ticklish energy that nearly caused me to burst out laughing with joy. I held it back with a GIANT smile instead though, and I rushed right back over to him, fighting the urge to wrap my arms around his neck and hug him until we both couldn't breathe anymore. I had to lean against the locker to keep myself steady, my heart speeding out of control. My hands got to be extremely clumsy as I tried to shove them in my pockets. It was the only thing that I could do to keep them from flopping around without purpose.
Brandon saw my giddy smile, and as expected, he couldn't help but to give me one of his own. The sensation I felt.... wow. I haven't been that anxious since I was little and was trying to force myself to sleep on Christmas Eve. I just...I found myself bouncing on my heels and had to keep reminding myself to stop it. I knew I could count on Brandon. My Brandon. Hehehe... it felt great...
Well.... at the time it did.
I asked him, "So... um... you know, I'm not doing anything after school today. I mean... well... why don't we go somewhere? Let's just... go to the mall or something. Have a couple of iced coffees and just...'talk'?"
Bandon blushed a bit, and he giggled flirtatiously as he rolled his eyes. "You know, I think I could go for some coffee. Sure. Why not?" He told me, "I've got to drop off an art project after the last bell, but you catch the first bus, and I'll meet you there right after. K?"
I'm like, "Ok. Ok, GREAT! So...I guess I'll see you later."
And he said, "Yeah. Definitely." And we traded a few bashful goodbyes before leaving. I thought that being away from him would keep those giggly tremors in my stomach at bay, but they didn't. Not only did they stick with me for the net hour and a half, but I felt a certain craving for more of them. I was truly convinced that Brandon and I had a shot at starting all over again.
Trace was still attempting to 'stay off the radar', as he put it, by coming to school and going to classes. He didn't seem to be wavering at all from his plan to run away from home this weekend. I thought about asking him to stay with me and my mom, but that would buy him, what? A day? Maybe two? My mom wouldn't go more than 48 hours before she started badgering me with questions. She's not the kind of mom who would harbor a 'fugitive' under her roof. Anything more than two sleepovers, and she'd be demanding to speak to his parents to find out what was going on. But I'll think of something before Friday. I just need some time to think.
The thing is... and I'm still not really sure how he meant it... or maybe it's just a severe case of denial on my part... but Trace said something to me today that just... it really hurt, you know?
Maybe I'm thinking too much. Or maybe I put too much into things between us from the very beginning. The blow was even harder to my heart due to the fact that Trace was being really 'sweet' when he said it. I just...I wasn't prepared for it. So it kinda blindsided me out of nowhere.
Trace actually apologized to me for being so distant lately. He said, "I wasn't really upset with you or anything, ok? I just don't want to leave things on a bad note when I go. Not with you. We actually had some really good times, you and me. It was fun." But then he said..... he says...."It's just, with my mom being so crafty and all about trying to steal Mikey away, and my dad being a total loser, I may have to be the defining factor in where Mikey gets to stay. I just didn't want to look like I was.... like I was...you know..."
I gave him a weird look. I was like, "No. You didn't want to look like you were what?"
And he looks right at me, and he says, "You know... like I was queer, or something." At that moment, I think my heart decayed, shriveled up, and almost vanished completely. I can't explain the sting of it. It wasn't just an emotional pain. I literally felt a physical ache in the center of my chest.
I sadly looked down at my shoes, and I said, "..... Oh. I see."
He was all like, "Not that I'm saying that you're queer or anything. Hehehe! It's just, you know... two boys, hanging out alone all the time, getting all cozy on couches and rooftops and stuff... it just looks kinda gay. And if a jury thinks my dad is a raging alcoholic on top of his big brother being a homosexual teen... they'll take him away for sure. Juries don't understand that kinda shit. Like I said, my mom doesn't have any visible proof that she's totally crazy. So if you and me look like we're too close... she comes out looking like the mother from the Brady Bunch, and me and my dad come out looking like the Manson family. You understand that, don't you? It's for Mikey."
Why am I so hurt? I....I have Brandon back, right? I don't know. Maybe Trace isn't gay. Maybe he never was. But... hey, you win some, you lose some. Am I reading too much into his statement? Is he telling me that he's not gay, or that he doesn't want to look gay? I thought back to his 'faggy' Peter Pan comment, and I tried to see how it might give me a clue as to what was going on with him. But for every time I found some evidence that Trace was straight as an arrow, I found two instances of extreme affection and closeness that gave me the opposite impression.
Who knows? I just..I don't know what to think anymore. About anybody.
Then... just before my last period class....
I had to fight through a lot of extra congested 'people traffic' in the hallways, and found that there was some commotion going on by the front office.
I couldn't see what everybody was staring at, nor could I make out the rumbles of whispers and gossip going on between the onlookers closest to the scene. But once I got to the head of the line, I saw a few familiar boys being escorted out of the building by police officers. They were actually in handcuffs. I didn't know the boys personally... but I know that I had seen them around before. I thought that maybe it was a prank that went too far or something, and now they were paying the price for it. It's happened before.
I saw the officers open the door to take the handcuffed boys out of the building, and there was a paramedic van outside. And shortly after, I saw a boy being quickly wheeled by me on a stretcher. Blood soaking through a wrapping of bandages on his forehead. Bruises, in excess. And I wouldn't have recognized him at such a quick glance.....
.... If it weren't for the rainbow bracelets on his wrist....
I don't know WHAT the fuck those boys did to him... but Stevie was hurt. And he was hurt bad. The paramedics were shouting at people to clear a path, and they rushed him out of the school, leaving everyone in shock. It was so surreal. I had just spoken to Stevie a few hours ago. How could this happen? How?
And that's when I remembered where I had seen those other boys before. They were the ones who had been bullying Stevie the worst. The ones I turned my back on. The ones who were laughing in the halls about what they'd do to him if they ever caught him alone. This whole situation had been a long time coming... and I didn't do anything to stop them. Nothing. I didn't stand up for him. I didn't report it. I didn't even have the decency to warn Stevie, himself, about it. I just remember having something close to a full blown panic attack when I realized... this might be all my fault!!!
I was trying hard to catch my breath in that crowd of people, and as my eyes wandered the room, I happened to catch a glimpse of Sam standing among the other students. And he was holding Stacey in his arms as she turned to look away from the brutality of the moment. He was actually holding her. Close. Rubbing her shoulder as he tried to protect her from it all.
And when his eyes met mine, he turned away, and her took her down the hall, and out of my sight.
I could have done without that.
The last hour of school was pure torture. I didn't know if I wanted to run or to cry or to try to stay normal, or what? I just...I felt myself getting confused again. I was soooo exposed. Too exposed. This hurts. It hurts soooo much! I couldn't bear suffering like this. People were talking about Stevie and making comments about how he was cornered and beaten up and how he might not even make it through the night... and I just....I couldn't take it. I had to excuse myself from class at one point to go to the bathroom and get myself together so I wouldn't burst into tears. I held my breath, I wiped my eyes, and I forced myself to straighten up. But the hurt was still there.
Even for a....a weasel like Stevie.... the hurt was still there....
No! I'm not gonna do this! I'm not gonna think or feel bad about him. I HATE him! I don't care about Stevie! He had to have done something to provoke them, right? Something?
Yeah...I don't buy that excuse either.....
But once I got out of school, I galloped through those school hallways and out to the bus stop before the rumors of what happened to Stevie drowned me in more misery than I could stand. I didn't WANT that in my life right now. I wanted my Brandon. I NEEDED my Brandon. No more pain. Please, God.... forgive me. I just didn't want any more PAIN!!! I wanted to feel good. Feeling good was the only thing that was going to keep my world from devouring what was left of my wounded spirit and letting me go on for another day.
Brandon was my only hope. He was my last defense against the turbulent storm building around me...
And you wanna know something....?
When I needed him most, my love, my angel....
Brandon simply wasn't there.
I went to the mall, and I held off on getting anything to eat or drink, because I wanted to save it for Brandon. I figured that busses ran every ten minutes at this time of day. So I waited by the door where the bus let everybody off so I wouldn't miss him. He promised me that he'd come. He promised me that he'd be there. My emotional foundation felt so weak at that moment. So fragile. I watched three or four busses stop, let off their payload of passengers, and then keep moving. And Brandon wasn't on a single one of them.
I kept telling myself that he'd be on the next one. Or the next one. Or the next one. But in the fading afternoon light... it became clear to me that he simply wasn't coming. And that was just a finishing blow to what was left of my so-called strength. My one salvation in all this... had abandoned me.
I thought about my rooms with Sam, and with Lee, and with Randall...
I thought about Jimmy giving me a lecture, and Bobby being pissed enough at me to turn over a tray of food in some kind of surprise tantrum...
And I thought about the idea of Stevie being hurt. About my dad leaving me to move elsewhere. And about wasting sooooo much of my time thinking about Trace. And I suddenly felt my breath getting short as I attempted to block it all out at once. I shouldn't have done this. I was HAPPY! What happened? I was finally finding a way to think about me, and only me. And now I've been polluted by the problems of the rest of the world all over again!
I didn't need this. No. I needed to feel good. I needed to feel loved. It couldn't wait another minute.
And that's why I... did what I did.
I was heartbroken, ok??? I just...I stopped waiting for Brandon to come and 'save' me. So I walked around the mall by myself, and I was lonely and feeling bad about myself. So...I kind went to the food court to get a soda or something... and I sat down at one of the tables, feeling all pathetic and dumb. I feel like so much of the last few months have been a total lie. Even my best friend won't talk to me. He'd rather date some girl he hardly knows than spend any time with me. Maybe I deserve it. Maybe God feels like I deserve to be punished. There's no mercy and forgiveness in that. Just jealousy and hatred and loathing for some poor kid who's just trying to find a way to be happy. Fine. Fuck you too. Now we're both miserable people. I hope He's happy.
So I'm sitting there, feeling my spirits sinking lower and lower by the second.... and lo and behold, I actually see someone I know in the mall. But it's not a face that I welcomed. Not at all.
It was AJ. And he was there with another really cute boy, no doubt working his magic on him as usual. This boy was... he was REALLY cute, you know? Tall, and really slim, with an emo fringe haircut, but it was a really light blond. And a small waist, that caused his pans to sag, even thought he had his belt cinched as tight as it could go. A few inches of his black boxer briefs were visible over the top of his tattered jeans, and the tight cleft of his round cheeks could clearly be seen behind him. Even from a distance, his light blue eyes were gleaming with a gaze of innocence. Something, I'm sure, AJ targeted the second he saw him. Something about the boy reminded me of Sam. I don't know what it was. I guess it was a subliminal thing.
They sat not far from me, and I lowered my head, wondering if I should just leave or wait for them to leave first. AJ was definitely flirting. I remember that smile. I remember that laugh. He was my first, after all. I can't deny him that.
There was a part of me that wanted to get up and warn this other boy. To just... tell him to run for the hills and never look back. But that's when AJ's eyes met mine. And he gave me the most sinister smile from across the food court. I looked away and just decided to mind my own business. But every time I looked up, the son of a bitch was looking back at me. Almost taunting me for sitting there, so alone. It was just like I told Jimmy before. Here I am trying to be nice and do the right thing by everyone around me.... and I end up miserable while he gets to rest easy and look down on me like I'm some kind of idiot for taking the high road. It was just stupid. I actually felt myself getting frustrated with the idea of him looking at me at all.
Finally, after about ten minutes of this subtle torment, I saw the other boy he was with get up to go to the bathroom or something. I was going to leave it alone, but AJ was staring at me with this super annoying, ultra smug, grin on his face. And as he giggled at the very sight of me sitting there.... abandoned...I reached a boiling point. Enough was enough. I got up, and I walked right over to his table, and I said, "You know, I really don't care what you think about me. I hope you know that."
AJ snickered, and he said, "Dude, I have no idea what you're talking about. I just thought that it was good to see you wandering the halls of the local mall again. That's all."
I'm like, "So...I see that you've tricked some other boy into buying your bullshit."
He says, "What bullshit?" He's like, "I happen to think he's really cute. He happens to think I'm really cute too. Now, we can go through the pretense of cotton candy and midnight phone calls... or we can cut through all of that weirdness... go back to my house, and fuck each other's brains out. It's that simple."
I said, "That's stupid. There's nothing meaningful or proper about that at all. You're just using him to get off."
AJ was like, "Isn't that what everybody does in a relationship?"
I said, "No! And I don't envy your position, AJ! Because.... because I've got people who actually CARE about me! People who will continue to care about me, even when I'm not screwing them."
AJ looked over my shoulder, then all around the food court. Then he's like, "Really? Are they invisible? Because the only person I see standing at my table... is you."
That only added insult to injury for me, and at that moment, I almost pulled a Bobby Jinette move and turned his fucking tray of food right over on top of him. But I got control of my emotions instead, and I said, "Listen... you can grin at me all you want. But you know what? I'm better than you. I'm always going to be better than you. You may think you're hot shit, but people like me? We just don't care."
He's like, "Then why are you over here with me instead of entertaining your loneliness elsewhere?"
Ugh! I can't STAND him!!!! I said, "I'm not! I'm leaving. I just wanted you to know that there's nothing special or interesting or 'sexy' about you. That's all."
But AJ smiles, like, "Hehehe! That's funny... because there is a REALLY hot gay boy in the bathroom right now who says different." It was an argument that I really didn't have an answer for. What was I gonna say? How could I dispute his methods when they obviously work for him, flawlessly, every... single... time? He says, "Remember when that scared little closeted boy used to be you, Billy? So excited? So aroused? So ripe for the picking. And my oh my, look how you've grown since then. But, I know you miss that feeling. I know you realize how easy it can be to get it back, too. Is it right for you to deprive him of the pleasure you felt the first time you and I got together. Do you think he'll listen to you if he comes back and you tell him to walk away. I'm willing to bet that he won't." I was stuck for something to say, and really just wanted to shake my head and stomp off to get on with the rest of my life. But something inside of me didn't want him to have the last word. However, before I could leave or say anything in response, AJ was like, "You know what? If you want... there's some room at our table. To be honest, I sorta miss your company. Why don't you come and sit down and just join us for a little while."
I'm like, "Fuck you, AJ...."
But he says, "Hey hey, now... no need to be nasty. I'm being serious right now. You seem to be all alone, that friend of mine you saw me talking to is all alone and looking for some discreet action, so we were talking about having a little bit of 'fun' tomorrow afternoon while my mom is away... why don't all three of us take the cards we were dealt today and try to make the best of them? I mean, you know what they say... two's company, three's a party. Right?"
There was a part of me that was disgusted by the idea. Just...totally turned off in every possible way. But... there was also another part of me that couldn't block out what AJ was saying to me. A part of my defenses that was still longing to feel good, and was once again left to dangle by the people I trusted to be there for me. An ache that was looking for a soothing salve to heal it. And while AJ may be a cheap cure for what ails me.... he was a cure, nonetheless.
I said, "I'm not falling for one of your stupid tricks again. You hurt me..."
He's like, "And what? Can you honestly say that you've never hurt somebody else by not submitting to their every wish and command? Come on, Billy, grow up. We both know the world doesn't work like that." I stopped talking for a moment, and he reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. He's like, "Look, here's my new cell phone number. Tomorrow, me and the boy you saw, Robin... we're going to get together for a really hot time tomorrow. We'll be alone at my house for HOURS, and I am going to show that hottie tricks that he's only dreamed of. We are going to have a long, hard, sex-fest after school.... and it's gonna be hot, with or without you. But it would be much hotter with you. So what do you say? Give me a call. We'll hook up." I was stuck. The answer should have been so easy... but it wasn't. I just...I don't know. Things only got harder when AJ said, "C'mon, Tasty Boy... don't you want to feel good? Take it. Call me. You know you want to."
He was right. God, help me.... he was right. I wanted to feel good. I wanted to.... let go of this pain and just be filled up with something else. Maybe Jimmy was right. There was an emptiness inside of me at that moment. And when I thought of getting another taste of AJ after all this time... not to mention the new adventure of maybe getting to be naked and hard with this super gorgeous new boy of his... to actually have my very first threesome, a fantasy that I've been secretly entertaining since Jimmy first told me about it...
I don't know....
I fought the feeling at first. But thinking about it... how is Brandon any different from Bobby Jinette with Ian, right? I mean..I tried to connect with him, right? He had his shot. And he blew it. He really did.
'I do too.'..... that's the stupidest thing that I've ever heard.
I don't know...I'm just...I'm hurting. I'm REALLY hurting. And Brandon couldn't be bothered to give a shit. NONE of my friends could.
I just....I figure that...a little 'fun' with AJ and this Robin boy... it might be cool. You know? So...I cursed him a few more times, and he responded with a knowing smile. The same smile that got me to follow him home the first time I met him. And I...I took the number.
I'm NOT saying that I'm going to use it tomorrow. I'm just saying... the option is open for me. When Sam, Brandon, Trace, Lee, Randall, Jimmy, and Bobby, don't care about me... there's always somebody else. Somebody who just wants to make me feel loved, if only for a little while. And there won't be any hang ups with AJ, right? I mean, that was the whole point of the last few weeks. Not being attached. Discovering pleasure without the hurt. Without the vulnerability.
Maybe.... maybe this is where I should be going. Maybe the idea of snuggling up with Trace and falling back in love with Brandon is all... bullshit.
I was right. Nobody cares about anything other than themselves. I think that I'm the one who needs to grow up.
I'm not giving up, Jimmy. I'm just taking a different road.
This world hurts too much to let it in fully. Better to wear my armor at all times.
This entry.... my last entry in this book... it's a lot more depressing than I thought it would be. I had this hope that the last few pages of my birthday present from Brandon would be full of giggles and kisses and a fresh new start. I guess two out of three isn't bad, huh?
I'm putting AJ's number in here. I think I'll try life from his point of view for a while....
Well, I'm running out of room. This is the last page. After this, I'll place this journal back in the arms of my cute little 'Billy Bear', where it will undoubtedly collect dust as I put it back up on the top shelf of my closet. So I should end this here.
I miss you, Brandon. I miss you soooo much. And I wish you could have been there today. I don't know if I'll ever really be able to count on you again. That hurts most of all.
The end to another journal. And the beginning of another life... in the world of Billy Chase.