Not again. It’s only 6:15 in the morning and my mother and brother are already in the kitchen screaming at one another. As usual, Butch, my older brother, has just staggered into the house after one of his all night drinking binges.
You’d think a guy at 23 would be out of the house and on his own. Not Butch. He’s got it too good around here. If you can call it good. He has never held a job in his life. He sleeps during the day, and then he goes out and drinks and screws whores at night.
“I’m going to kick your fat ass out of here!” Mother screamed.
“Do it and I’ll burn this fucking place down!” Butch threatened.
I put the pillow over my head in an attempt to drown out their voices. I hate it here. My life sucks. We live in a run-down duplex. My room consists of a bed and a tattered arm chair I found in an alley last year. Most of the furnishings have been sold to support my brother’s drug habit. He got hooked on crack three years ago and sold anything in the house that wasn’t nailed down.
My mother’s not much better. She’s a waitress in a greasy spoon a few blocks away. She’s hardly ever home. She comes in occasionally to get a few clothes. Then she’s back out, probably heading to the home of the latest jerk she waited on that morning. One good thing, she never brings them here. She’s probably embarrassed about this crappy place we call home.
“Go wake your brother up. He goes back to school today,” she yelled at Butch. I don’t know how she knew that I started school. She hasn’t remembered my birthday since I was about seven.
“You probably already woke that fag up with your goddamned screaming,” he hollered back.
That’s a word I’ve heard a million times over the past few years. I don’t think he remembers my real name anymore. It’s always fag or cocksucker. He caught me sucking off one of my friends when I was twelve, and now I’ve been a curse to both of them ever since.
My mother hates me. She says I’m just like my old man- a no-good son of a bitch. Her words, not mine. He left home when I was three and no one’s heard from him since. Can’t say I blame him. They never married, so it was easy for him to just walk away.
Things have never been easy for me, though. We’re always moving from one place to another. She usually falls behind in the rent, and then we get evicted. We’ll live rent free for three months until the sheriff comes knocking on the door. You have no idea how embarrassing it is to come home from school and find everything you own out on the sidewalk.
I heard Butch stomping angrily down the hall, and then he threw my door open. “Mom says to get your faggot ass up.” He reached down, picked one of my shoes off the floor and tossed it at me. He’s never hit me with his fists, though. Neither has my mom. Right after he caught me sucking that kid’s dick, he came home drunk one night and tried to get me to suck his.
It was after two one night when he staggered into my room. I pretended to be asleep, but I could hear him taking off his clothes beside my bed. He climbed naked into my bed and tried to stick his hard dick in my mouth. I hit him in the balls as hard as I could. He jumped off and threw up all over the floor. I told him if he ever tried that again, I would go to school, tell a counselor and have him arrested. Since then, he’s been afraid to touch me. He knows I will do it. Although, it’s never stopped the verbal humiliation.
“Did you hear what I said?” He tossed the other shoe.
“Yeah, I heard you,” I replied angrily. “Now get out.”
“Make me, Fag,” he muttered before closing the door.
God, I hate him. He’s a worthless human being. I’ve tried to find some redeeming quality about him, but I swear I can’t. He’s fat, ignorant, bigoted and repulsive. I can’t imagine a girl sleeping with him. That’s why he’s always with a whore. They’ll have sex with anyone, as long as they get paid.
As far as my sex life, zilch. Who would want me? One look at where I come from and they’d head about as far away from me as they could. Growing up has been rough. I’ve been branded white trash all my life. My clothes are passed down to me from my brother when he outgrows them. By then, they’re usually well-worn and smelly. I have to wash them several times just to get his foul body odor out.
The only time I’ve ever had anything new was at Christmas when I was in the sixth grade. One of my teachers felt sorry for me and she brought me some new clothes. I hugged her and then took them home. The first time my brother saw me wear them, he looked at me suspiciously. The next day they were gone from my dresser. He probably sold them for some drugs.
Today’s one of the most horrible days of my life- the first day at another new school. It is always the same. I’ll be the new outcast. Kids will look at me, size me up and then realize I don’t fit in their world. The only thing that keeps me from being the school punching bag is the fact that I was born with decent looks. I don’t look like some nerd screaming out, “Hit me, I’m a wimp!”
I have a pretty good body. I spent most of the summer down at the beach working out on the free exercise equipment they have available. I’m not Charles Atlas, but I do look all right. The thing most people notice about me first is my blue eyes. Then they notice the rags I’m wearing, and they quickly lose interest.
Some people look like they were born with a silver spoon in their mouth. They get immediate respect. Others look like they were born with plastic spoons. They get laughed at. That’s me.
Suddenly the door flew open again. “Timothy, get your ass out of here. Don’t you have to go to school today?” my mother screamed. She was stumbling, so I knew she had already had her liquid breakfast.
“Yeah, Mom. I’m going,” I responded. If I had not been running late, I would have taken a swig from one of her bottles. Since I was about fourteen, I found that I could forget my miserable existence if I had a few drinks. I guess it runs in the Somerset genes. All of us find solace in a bottle. Alcohol around here is not difficult to find, either. Between my mother and my brother, there’s usually a forgotten bottle around somewhere. My mother likes gin. My brother prefers whiskey. Me? Whatever I find hidden around.
I’m not a heavy drinker, but I’m a lonely drinker. We make the worst kind. Most people get drunk with friends and have a good time. Many times their drinking ends in forgotten sex with a nameless person and a well deserved hangover.
Me. I drink alone. A couple drinks and I’m the epitome of the self-pitying loser. I also cry a lot when I’m drinking. It’s really not a pretty sight. That’s why I drink alone. Most of my crying is focused on one thing- I need someone to love me. I’m sixteen years old and no one’s ever held me and told me they love me. Of course, mix into the equation the fact that I’m gay, and the odds of that ever happening become astronomical.
I heard my mother leave the house on her way to the filthy place she calls a job. My brother was snoring loudly in the next room, passed out as usual.
I headed to the kitchen to try and find something to eat. Nothing. Not even a piece of bread. The fridge is filled with cold beer, but nothing to eat. I considered downing a couple of cold ones, but since it was the first day of school, I decide against it. That’s all I needed was to start feeling sorry for myself and then begin crying in one of my morning classes.
I did mention that I hate my life, didn’t I?
It’s about a forty minute walk to school. I don’t even consider asking my mother for bus fare. She’d just laugh at me. So I walk. It wasn’t a bad day out, so the walk was kind of comforting. I hate to think what it’ll be like this winter. If I had a winter coat, my brother would just sell it.
I approached Dwight D. Eisenhower High School. It’s a large school. I’ll just be one of the forgotten multitudes, if I’m lucky. If not, I’ll be harassed by students who think they have a right to pick on anyone who doesn’t fit into their little social world.
I had all ready visited the school the previous week. My mother sobered up long enough to bring me in and register me for classes. I was given a brief tour, while my mother fell asleep in the main office. I know I’ll never find my way around. This place is large and meanders around in different directions.
I headed toward the cafeteria. I recalled the counselor telling me that is where we would get our schedules. I was hungry, but since I hadn’t received my free lunch card, I couldn’t get anything to eat. I hope they have a lot of kids here on the free lunch program. If not, I’ll really be an outcast. People will know my social status immediately. At least with large numbers, I’ll be less noticeable.
I stood in line in the Sophomores Q-T and a kind woman, probably a teacher, handed me my handwritten schedule. Since I had just registered, it wasn’t in their computer system yet. I looked it over and it didn’t mean anything to me. The names were just words on a piece of paper.
I overheard two cute guys standing next to me talking. One was complaining about a teacher named Watson. He called her a bitch. I quickly looked down at my schedule. Drats. I have her third period.
The other was moaning about a Toupee Tommy, whoever that is. I looked down, examined my schedule and then started laughing to myself. Of course, a teacher is really named that. He suddenly raced off, leaving his friend standing alone.
I realized I didn’t have a clue in which direction to head. I looked around and still saw the guy standing with his back to me. I decided to ask him.
“Excuse me, can you help me?” At first I thought he was ignoring me, but then I figured that he probably didn’t hear me. I tapped him on his shoulder. He turned and suddenly just stared at me. He didn’t say anything, he just stared. We were standing face to face and looking into one another’s eyes.
“He’s got the prettiest green eyes,” I thought to myself. This guy was definitely good looking. He had blonde spiked hair, and he was dressed in a green shirt that made his eyes appear even greener. He didn’t seem to be arrogant, like you would expect someone who looked like him to be. Instead, he seemed nervous.
We finally broke the stare when he asked me what I wanted. I asked him where Room 212 was, and again he stared at me. It was my turn to get nervous. I knew he was sizing me up. Poor white trash. Yep. I didn’t have a chance of making a new friend with him.
He surprised me when he grabbed my schedule and looked it over. He handed it back to me and smiled. “Yeah, Timothy. Actually we have first period together. You can walk with me.” I couldn’t believe it. He wanted me to join him.
However, he called me Timothy. I hate that name. I’d adopted the name TJ after my mother told me my father’s name was Timothy. I certainly didn’t want to carry around his name all my life. Since my full name is Timothy James, I began to insist that everyone call me TJ. Everyone did, except my stubborn mother. She hates my father, but she still calls me by his name.
“TJ,” I informed him.
“What?” He looked at me questioningly.
“My name’s TJ. Only my mother calls me Timothy.” I felt embarrassed correcting him, because Timothy coming from his mouth sounded sweet. I knew I was going to like him; that is, if he didn’t cast me aside first, like everyone else.
We started to walk away when suddenly a very pretty girl walked up and stood beside us. She took one look at me, grabbed his arm and wrapped it around hers. “Girlfriend,” I thought disappointedly.
“Hey Randy,” she said cooed. Now this guy finally had a name. He still had never introduced himself to me. We had just started talking and I forgot to ask him. She maneuvered her body around him so that she stood between us like a protective mother hen.
“Hiya, Deanna,” he said somewhat unenthusiastically. Then he looked at me and rolled his eyes. Maybe she wasn’t a girlfriend after all.
“Who’s this?” she asked, wrinkling her nose. I was beginning not to like her. She seemed to have already grown a dislike for me, and we had not even been introduced.
“This is TJ,” Randy informed her. “He’s new here. We have first period together. I’m going to take him to class.” She looked at me again and gave me a fake smile.
“Hello, TJ. I’m Deanna, Randy’s good friend.” She said good friend, not girlfriend. That was encouraging. But I’m sure with this guy’s good looks, there was a girlfriend somewhere.
“Where are you from?” She asked politely, but seemed uninterested.
I felt very uncomfortable with the way she was looking me over. Poor white trash. I could see it in her eyes. That’s what she was thinking. She was very pretty and appeared to be one of the popular ones. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was a cheerleader.
“We moved into town this summer. I haven’t really had a chance to get to see the city yet.” I was trying to be vague. I didn’t want her to know anything about my background.
“We just moved here because we got evicted from our last house. It’s the sixth place we’ve lived in the past three years.” I wonder how she would have reacted if I told her the truth. I would have, but I was beginning to like Randy. I didn’t want to lose him as a friend, if I could even call him that.
“I see,” she said condescendingly. Her eyes scanned my body, and then she met my eyes. She looked up at Randy, then back at me. It was as if she was telling me to back off. Her gesture unnerved me because I hadn’t even considered Randy as anything more than just a friendly person who had volunteered to help me out.
I instantly found the whole situation pathetic. If anyone knew anything about pity, it was me. I recognized her hopeless situation immediately. She loved Randy, but he didn’t feel the same way. She realized it, but refused to accept it. I suddenly felt sorry for her. I wondered how long she would play out this charade, pretending that Randy was her boyfriend.
I also felt sorry for Randy. He seemed to be a great guy, and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. I sensed that they had been playing this game for a while now. Randy spoke, tearing me away from my thoughts.
“Come on, TJ. Let’s get to class.” He grabbed me by my elbow and started leading me away.
“Wait, Randy! Let me see your schedule.” Deanna snatched it from his hand. “Do we have any classes together?”
Her smile faded when she noticed that none of their classes were the same. Then she reached out and grabbed mine. At first I considered snatching it back, but I didn’t want to make a scene the first day. I figured that she was probably just a snotty girl used to having her way. She quickly scanned our schedules, then she handed them back.
“You guys have three classes together?” She seemed disappointed. I thought, “Yeah, eat your heart out.” She gave me another of her signature dirty looks. Instead of looking away, I stared back challengingly. I wasn’t about to let her intimidate me. She broke the stare, sighed dejectedly and then walked away. I heard Randy let out a short breath of air, as if he had been holding it in for some time.
“Girlfriend?” I asked. I already knew the answer, but I thought I’d let him try and explain the situation.
“No,” he replied. “Sister of my best friend. Actually, she’s his twin sister.”
“She seems to really like you.” I was trying to explore.
“That’s her problem, not mine.” He sounded angry. “I’d tell her to get lost, but I don’t want to hurt her brother.” I found it interesting. Here was a gorgeous guy rejecting probably one of the prettiest girls in the school. She did have a bad attitude, but she was also very attractive. I assumed a lot of guys were chasing after her. Why would she waste her time on someone who obviously didn’t share her feelings?
“We gotta jet.” He put his hand on my back and gently began leading me towards the door. I thought he would drop his hand, but we continued walking with his hand still guiding me. At one point he gently rubbed my back as we walked. I began to get nervous because I was not used to anyone touching me. I took a step ahead of him, causing him to drop his hand.
“Which way?” I asked as we headed out of the cafeteria.
“Turn left.” He again put his hand on my back guiding me down the hall. To a stranger, it might appear like he was holding me like a boy would hold his girlfriend. Again, I stepped away. I didn’t want to be branded a fag the first day of school. I had no idea who Randy was. He seemed perfectly straight, but I knew that could be deceiving. For all I knew, he could be the school’s resident fag. That’s all I needed was to be seen walking down the hall in his arms. Although, I did find it rather comforting. It felt nice.
We continued walking through the crowded hallway. Randy seemed to be a really popular guy. He couldn’t take a step without someone stopping to talk to him, asking how his summer was. He never failed to introduce me to whomever he spoke. It made me feel welcomed. I was beginning to think that maybe I would like it here.
He finally stopped and led me into a crowded room filled with noisy students. The teacher hadn’t arrived, so there was a lot of rowdy activity going on. Randy noticed two empty seats in the back of the room. He put his hand on my back again and led me over to them.
“We’ll sit here,” he said. “We can work together. This is American Literature. Mrs. Jones teaches this class. She likes to pair students up to do their assignments, so we can be partners.” He looked over at me and smiled. For a brief moment, I thought my heart was going to burst. I didn‘t know how to react. I was so used to it be broken. I was glad I hadn’t had that drink earlier, because right about now I’d probably be crying my eyes out.