The good news. I'm going home today! I can't wait to get out of here.
The bad news. I thought I was going back to school next Monday, after the Thanksgiving weekend. I must have misunderstood, because I’m not going back until the following week, when the cast comes off and I have a special boot. The doctor told me the real reason for waiting the extra week was my ribs. I didn’t understand fully until the physio-guy arrived.
I had a crash course in ‘crutches 101’ from him. Walking on crutches with a cracked rib is not fun! It’s a lot of pain and you can’t breathe. I’d never be able to do this for long, especially navigate around the school.
After that, the doctor followed, issuing ten thousand instructions. I have an appointment for Monday, Dec. 8 to have the cast removed and replaced with the boot …if I follow all those instructions and everything is OK. Then I can go to school.
The week after Thanksgiving I’m gonna be bored as shit. I’ll need someone to get all my homework assignments and a good book to read.
Around lunchtime, I received a call from Grampa!
“How is my grandson doing?”
“Great! I go home today!”
“Your aunt has been keeping me up to date with everything. She’s driving me crazy!” But he was chuckling. Grampa is always like this. I love him more for it.
“Aw come on Grampa, Aunt Sarah is nice. I’ve always liked her.”
“She’s got you fooled too, huh? Anyway, I didn’t want to bother you before I knew you were well enough to go home. So this is my last chance.”
“A call from you is never any bother Grampa!”
“That bunch of bastards who messed with you, are there any others on the loose?”
“I guess the police arrested Burch and the two kids who swung bats at me. I knew Burch and one of the kids but only saw the other one at church. There’s nobody else I know about. Of course Enos Johnson has run away, but he’s with a person who will be his personal Hell. hehe.”
“Don’t worry about any of those people. They can’t hurt you again. I hope your experience with that nutty sect doesn’t keep you away from a decent church. Aunt Sarah went to a loving church where she lived. Have her help you find a good place. You need to feed your spiritual side, David. It keeps you balanced. End of lecture. You're smart, you’ll figure it out. Just keep an open mind, otherwise those guys will have won.”
“Funny you should mention that. I was going through similar thoughts. Not about a church, but about hate. I’m trying to purge hate out of my life.”
“I said you were smart, didn’t I? Let us old people take care of the hate. We’re much more efficient at it. hehe.”
“Grampa, you’re such a kidder. I can’t wait to see you again next summer. You should visit for a longer time. Things are nicer around here now.”
“I agree. Maybe I’ll stay a week. I’ve got to go now and you have to get ready to leave. According to my daughter’s last pestering call, your father is on his way.”
“OK. Goodbye Grampa. I always love talking to you.”
Shortly after, around two, my father showed up to take me home. Alex walked in with him!
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to help take you home.”
“Why aren't you in school?”
“Nothing happens on the day before Thanksgiving ...you know that.”
While Alex rode shotgun, I sat/lay in the back with my cast up on the seat. When we got home, she helped me navigate with the crutches up the front stoop and then through the door, where Aunt Sarah was there to meet us. Shit that hurt! I had to pause and catch my breath. When I started to introduce her, Aunt Sarah said, “Oh Alex has been here all day, we're old friends now!”
I love Alex (I'm pretty sure) but I don't think I like her doing this end-run with Aunt Sarah. I think Alex noticed my momentary resentment (she's so damned smart) and immediately apologized to me.
“I'm sorry David, I should have told you! It just happened spur of the moment. When I knew you were coming home, I saw we were just wasting time in every class. I left before lunch thinking I'd come over and be here to surprise you when you got home. Your father asked me to come along to help. I hope you're not mad at me.”
How could I ever be mad at Alex? So I just said, “It's OK.” I gave her a little kiss.
Aunt Sarah explained she had a prescription of pain killers, and asked if I needed one. She wouldn’t give me the container. I guess the doctor doesn’t trust it with a kid. Anyway, I can only have like two a day or I’ll die or something. I refused her offer. If more than two a day can kill me, I don’t even want to guess what even one a day will do to my body. I can tough out a little pain.
Alex helped me ‘crutch’ up the stairs to my room. Shit! I don’t want to do that very often! I had to rest and catch my breath again.
“I didn't look in your room ...honest! If you'd rather I don't come in, I'll understand. I know some people think of their room as a private place. I have two older brothers, so I know.”
“No, don't be silly. Come on in.”
I entered and sat on my bed, putting the crutches up against the wall. I did a quick scan and found Tommy had done a fantastic job of exorcising my room.
“I like your room, David. It's orderly and uncluttered, just like your mind.”
Ha! ...she should see my mind sometimes! Then she sat on my bed next to me and held my right hand. She turned and our gazes met and we shared a tender kiss. Then she rested her head on my shoulder and sighed.
“This is absolutely perfect. I could stay here like this forever.”
“I like you, Alex. I like you here.”
She gave me a big smile and a soft kiss.
I noticed the time, so I spoke.
“Well, things might change now that school’s out. Maybe we’ll have a visitor or two.”
She kissed me hard and soon our tongues were cavorting with each other. It was starting to get a little hot when she suddenly broke the kiss.
“Let's go downstairs. I don’t think I want to share your room with anyone.”
So I crutched downstairs, which was tricky and painful. We were sitting on the couch when Gary, Sam and Nels dropped in to welcome me home. Alex was right next to me and holding my hand. Gary spotted it right away.
“Um ...is it official yet?”
At first it didn’t register – what he was saying. I didn't say anything for a minute as my mind grasped the implications of his question.
When I turned to Alex, she was looking at me expectantly. Shit. What else could I do? Not that it was repugnant. I simply hadn’t thought it all through yet. I always work out major decisions in my mind, considering the pros and cons. Well, I figured, what the hell. For once in my life, I’ll act on instinct.
“Will you be my girlfriend?”
She answered that little question by throwing her arms around me and giving me a long, loving kiss. Then the gang congratulated us and Alex got up and gave them each a hug.
“You guys are important to David, so you're important to me! I hope we can all be good friends.”
Hehe ...smart and diplomatic, too!
After about fifteen minutes Sam came up to me.
“David, you've inspired me. I think I'm going to go visit Deena right now.”
Shortly after that, the gang all left. Alex rested her head on my shoulder again and sighed. We were comfortably doing nothing. A few minutes later Twoey and Erik came in holding hands.
Alex was smooth. She didn't miss a beat.
“Well Twoey, who is this hunk you've got there?”
Twoey and Erik froze.
I'll bet they saw the gang leave and figured I was alone. They dropped their hands like they were on fire. But Alex jumped right over to them and grabbed those same two hands and put them back together.
“Don't you ever do that in front of me again. Be yourselves, I'll never out you to anyone. My older brother is gay and I got really pissed when he and his boyfriend had to hide when they were in high school!”
She pushed them into the other two-seater sofa and we began a long conversation about each other. We did not cover the little campaign I just fought against Johnson, and we did not cover the shooting with the Twoey-Danny connection, but everything else was pretty much out on the table. I discovered Alex has two older brothers, Ricky whose 20 and gay and Rudy who's 22. Both are in college. Twoey explained his bad experience in Syracuse and the reconnecting with his best friend Mike. Erik shared the fact his parents have been divorced most of his life and he never sees his father. He also described how difficult and lonely he felt growing up, always being more than a year older than his classmates. This was something I had been completely oblivious to. He even explained how he and Twoey's relationship sort of developed very slowly over the weeks since school started, when they were paired in PhysEd. It grew until he couldn't stand to be away from him in the last few weeks. Maybe I was being too hard on Erik in my mind.
“One day it just hit me like a ton of bricks! I was in love with this guy!”
We had just finished this very personal conversation when Tommy walked in. He lit right up when he spotted me.
“You’re home! This is great!”
I introduced him to everybody but his eyes were stuck on Alex. When Alex leaned into me a little and brushed my cheek with a light feather of a kiss, his face just brightened into a huge smile. “Are you two ...?”
Alex grabbed my hand, smiled at Tommy and just nodded. He came rushing over and hugged me almost too tight.
“OMG! That's so FANTASTIC!”
He was so exuberant, I had to guard my hand cast from him. Then he looked at Alex and hesitated a minute, but she drew him into a close hug and kissed his cheek. Then he ran up to his room.
“He's the cutest kid I've ever seen! He loves you, you know!”
“We love each other. We always get along. He's been there for me when I've been depressed. Tommy always has my back and tells me when I'm being stupid.”
Then I related the story about Mark at the miniature golf game and she really laughed. Twoey and Erik didn't join in the laughter though. Maybe it was in a little bad taste, for them. I'll have to deep-six that little anecdote.
Erik showed me his car and we wished him a happy 17th birthday. Then he and Twoey left. I asked Alex how she was getting home, but she said my father would drive her home after dinner.
“You're eating dinner here?”
“Isn't it OK? Your aunt invited me.”
“Alex, I don't have a problem that you're eating here. I have a problem that you're eating here.”
She gave me a confused look. I leaned over and gave her a soft kiss, and then whispered, “I’ve never eaten anything Aunt Sarah cooked. I don’t even know if she can.”
Just then Liz and Greg walked in. Greg looked at us and asked, “It's true?” He waggled his finger back and forth between the two of us.
OMFG they’ve gone and told the whole fucking town! They did it before I even asked Alex. How did they know? Tommy was probably the only person in Daleville who didn't know. Greg and Liz are going to be having dinner with us too. I can just see the headlines tomorrow: ‘Entire family wiped out by food poisoning!’
Anyway, I got one of those rare kisses from my sister.
So 6:00 arrived and I guess it was show off David and Alex time. We sat around the actual dining room table this time. Out came a beef roast with gravy, baked potatoes and carrots with zucchini slices. I cannot frickin’ believe this! Nothing was overcooked. The gravy wasn't salty. The carrots were bright orange and the zucchini skins were bright green and the roast was even pink inside. Did she have this catered? Does Aunt Sarah actually know how to cook? Well whichever, I'm going to turn the page. I have a smart and gracious girlfriend and as soon as I'm healed, my life has got to get easier.
It's got to! The Gods owe me!!!!
That night when I went to bed, I simply lay on top, throwing a quilt over me and my cast. I picked up the phone and paused for a second. I knew I was going to call Alex, but I was debating whether or not to call Twoey. He's got a boyfriend and I've got a girlfriend. Maybe calling him isn't such a good idea anymore. I know we had this other connection, but the phone call always had a little sexual tension to it.
I chose not to call him. He’s Erik’s now.
Instead I talked to Alex for about a half-hour until I was too sleepy to go on. I had a full day!