CLOSING THE BARN DOOR
Chapter 16
Copyright ©2014 by Ronyx
All Rights Reserved
Neil tried to walk beside Gerry on the way to the auditorium, but Gerry
seemed like he was trying to ignore him. When two other freshmen started
talking to him, he headed off in another direction with them.

Neil entered the auditorium and looked around. Sammy and Alex would be
onstage, so he had no one to sit with him. Since he had arrived late, most
seats were taken. He made his way down the aisle looking for an empty seat.
About halfway down, he found a seat in an empty row. He sat down and
waited for the assembly to begin. Students were still scampering in, and the
row he was sitting in was filling quickly. Two empty seats remained beside him.

He looked up at the stage. Mr. Bowers, Mr. Collins and Ms. Shelton were
talking to the students who had been selected as Student Ambassadors. He
noticed that Sammy and Alex were sitting next to each other. He was also
surprised to see Owen sitting next to Sammy.

Two students came rushing down the aisle and stopped beside him. Someone
asked, “Are these seats taken?” He looked up to see Ned and Robbie. They
seemed as surprised as he was.

“No,” he stammered. He stood and they slid in past him to the two empty
seats.

“Thanks,” said Ned as he glanced over at Neil.

“No problem,” responded Neil. He wondered why they had decided to sit
beside him rather than finding other seats. Looking around, there were still
seats available.

He jumped when Robbie leaned up, looked past Ned and said, “Hi, Neil.”

“Um, hi Robbie,” he responded nervously.

Ned giggled and asked, “Did you like your little vacation from school?”

Neil didn’t know how to respond. Ned and Robbie were acting as if nothing
had happened. They were talking to him as they always had.

He smiled slightly at Ned and replied, “It was okay, I guess.”

Robbie leaned forward again and said, “Listen, Neil. We got to talk to you.” He
glanced quickly at Ned. “It’s about Lucas.”

Neil could sense fear in Robbie’s voice. He asked, “What about Lucas?”

Just then, Mr. Bowers began to shout and tell the students to settle down. A
hush began to grow throughout the auditorium.

Ned whispered to Neil, “We’ll tell you later. Okay?”

“Yeah, sure,” replied Neil. He couldn’t imagine what they wanted to tell him,
but he knew it couldn’t be good. Since they were willing to talk to him, that
could only mean one thing- they weren’t talking to Lucas. If they had turned
their back on Lucas, then he could cause trouble for all of them.

He heard very little of Mr. Bower’s speech about the Student Ambassador
Program. He was too worried about Ned and Robbie’s warning about Lucas.
Occasionally, he could sense that they were looking at him, but he didn’t look
over.

He looked up at the stage when Mr. Collins stepped up to the podium. Neil still
couldn’t believe that he was dating his mother. He wondered how long it
would take for other students to find out. He had already been the target of
their jokes when the rumor spread about what he had done to Owen. Now, he
would be targeted again because his mother was dating the assistant principal.

Mr. Collins began by introducing Ms. Shelton. He then introduced the Student
Ambassadors. Four students had been selected from each class. The senior
class included two football players, a cheerleader and the class vice president.
The junior class was represented by the class president, a basketball player, a
girls’ soccer player and another cheerleader.

He smiled when Mr. Collins introduced the sophomore ambassadors. They
were Sammy, Alex, Owen and Stephanie, a member of the girls’ basketball
team. The freshman class was represented by four students that no one was
familiar with since they had just started school. The two boys and a girl
appeared to be athletes. The fourth was a girl who looked very scholarly. She
wore glasses and was dressed rather plainly.

Ned nudged Neil after the introductions were made. “Look at Owen,” he
giggled. “Can you believe he volunteered? This is the first thing I think he’s
ever done in school besides playing sports.”

Robbie laughed and said, “I think he only joined so he could have a reason to
talk to Stephanie. He’s had the hots for her since the seventh grade.”

“Yeah,” laughed Ned. “He’s asked her to three dances, and she’s turned him
down every time.”

Neil looked over at his friends. They were actually talking as they had always
done in the past. It was as if what happened weeks ago hadn’t even occurred.
He wondered if Owen would talk to him as Ned and Robbie were now doing.

Mr. Bowers made a few closing remarks before dismissing the students. He
said the same thing to them that he had said when he and his father had
attended the meeting in his office.

He warned them that if they were involved in a situation, and they didn’t
comply, then they could be suspended. He assured them that what they were
attempting could succeed with their cooperation. He ended by again thanking
Ms. Shelton for all the hard work she had put into the project.

As they were standing to leave, Ned laughed and said, “Owen looked like a
dork up there.”

Robbie agreed. They again laughed about how he was doing it only to attract
Stephanie’s attention. He giggled and said, “She’ll probably report him for
stalking her.”

On the way out, Neil walked slowly behind Ned and Robbie. They sat beside
him in the auditorium, but he wasn’t sure they would want to be seen with
him as they walked to the bus.

Ned turned and motioned for Neil to hurry. “Come on,” he shouted above the
noise of students leaving the building. “We’re going to be late for the bus.”
When they picked up their pace, Neil hurried to catch up with them.

He still wasn’t sure what was happening. They hadn’t said a word to him
about what had happened in the old barn. It was as if they had forgotten all
about it. As he approached the bus, however, he wasn’t sure Owen would feel
the same way.

When he got on, he walked down the aisle toward the seat that he and
Sammy usually shared. She hadn’t arrived yet, so he sat down and placed his
book bag in the seat beside him. He looked toward the front. Ned and Robbie
were looking back at him.

They stood, walked toward him and sat in the seats in front of him. Robbie
turned and looked at the empty seat beside him. He asked Neil, “You saving a
seat for Sammy?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

Ned tossed his book bag in the seat across the aisle and said, “Better save
Owen a seat or he’ll be pissed.”

Neil wanted to ask what was going on, but he was too afraid. If his friends
were willing to act as if nothing had happened, then he wasn’t going to
mention it.

Just then, he saw Sammy and Owen board the bus. Owen gave them a
puzzled look when he saw Robbie and Ned sitting with Neil in the back. He
followed Sammy down the aisle. When she sat beside Neil, he sat in the seat
Ned had reserved for him.

He looked at Ned and Robbie, and then he glanced quickly at Neil. He threw up
his hand and said, “Hi, Guys.” Neil reluctantly said hello and waved back.

Sammy said excitedly, “Wasn’t that a wonderful assembly? I think this bullying
project is really going to work. I’ve already had one girl talk briefly to me
about some things that are happening in her gym class.”

She looked over at Owen and asked, “What about you? Anyone said
anything?”

He shook his head and replied, “Not yet.”

Robbie started laughing and told Sammy, “The only reason he volunteered is
because he likes Stephanie.”

Owen glared at him and insisted, “I did not!”

“Did too,” giggled Ned.

“It doesn’t matter,” interrupted Sammy. “He’s one of our class Student
Ambassadors, and I think he’ll do a wonderful job.” She looked at Owen and
smiled.

The bus started to pull away, but then it came to an abrupt stop. The driver
opened the door, and the bus shook as Lucas climbed the steps. He stopped
when he saw the five in the back.

Neil’s heart started pounding as Lucas stood and glared at him. He was sure
that Lucas would come to the back and start trouble. However, it surprised
everyone when Lucas sat down beside a redheaded girl in the junior class.

“Jesus,” muttered Ned nervously. “I didn’t think he would be riding the bus
home.”

Robbie voice trembled when he said, “He ain’t going to like all of us sitting
together.”

“Fuck him,” replied Owen defiantly. “I’m tired of doing what he orders us to do
all the time.”

“But you know what he said,” responded Ned. He glanced quickly back at Neil.

“Listen, Guys,” said Neil. “I don’t want no trouble. Maybe you should move
closer to the front.”

“You will do no such thing,” hissed Sammy. “You little boys have got to grow
a few and be men someday. Might as well start today.”

Ned looked worriedly at her, and then he looked at the back of Lucas’s head.
“We won’t grow up to be men if Lucas kills us.”

“Come on, Guys,” said Owen. “We talked about this. We have to just stick
together. He can’t take us all on. Besides, if he does anything on school time,
Mr. Bowers will expel him.”

Ned said worriedly, “That won’t stop him from hurting us when we go home.”

Shivers went up Neil’s spine when Lucas looked back at them. It was if he
could hear what they were saying. His eyes were filled with hate as he glared
at them.

Ned looked at the others and asked, “What are we going to do when we get
off? What if he gets off with one of us and follows us home?”

Robbie muttered, “Shit. I never thought about that.”

“Come on, Guys,” responded Owen. “Lucas is our friend. He’s not going to
hurt us.”

“But you know what he said about us talking to Neil,” replied Ned as he quickly
grabbed his mouth.

Neil asked, “What did he say about me?”

“Nothing,” insisted Owen. “Ned is just making shit up.” He glared at Ned and
asked, “Right?” Ned reluctantly nodded his head.

“I have an idea,” volunteered Sammy. “My mom is home. We’ll all get off at  
my stop, and she can drive you guys home.”

Ned let out a sigh of relief. “Okay,” he replied as he looked toward the front to
see Lucas still staring back at them.

When the bus stopped to let Ned off, the driver looked in his mirror and
hollered, “Ain’t you getting off?” When Ned shook his head, the driver pulled
away. A few minutes later, the same thing happened when the bus stopped to
let Owen off. Each time, Lucas would look back at them. It was obvious he
was puzzled why none of them was getting off at their stop.

When the bus stopped in front of Sammy’s home, the five of them grabbed
their book bags and hurried down the aisle toward the door. Lucas watched
them, but he didn’t move from his seat. They hurried down the steps and let
out a sigh of relief when the bus pulled away with Lucas staring out the
window at them.

They went inside Sammy’s house. She shouted out to her mother, but no
one answered. “I guess she’s not home,” she said. “What are we going to do
now?”

Owen opened his phone and said, “I’ll call my mother.” After several rings, he
placed his phone back into this pocket. “I guess she’s not home, either.”

Robbie and Ned said it would do no good to call their homes because they
knew no one was there.

Neil called his mother, but she was out of the office. So was his Uncle Jack. “I
don’t know what to do,” he sighed as he looked at the others. “I guess we’ll
have to walk home.”

Ned nervously responded, “What if Lucas is waiting for us. You saw the look
on his face when the bus pulled off.” Sammy suggested that they could wait
until one of her parents got home, but Owen insisted he had to get home.

He announced, “I have to mow the yard before my dad gets home.”

Neil looked at him and asked, “You want me to go with you?” He wasn’t sure
how Owen would respond. Up until then, things had seemed like they always
had. It was as if the last couple of weeks didn’t happen. He waited anxiously
for Owen to reply.

“Yeah,” he said. “Two is better than one in case we meet up with Lucas.”

“Three,” responded Ned.

Robbie looked nervous as he muttered, “Four.”

Sammy had a worried look when she asked the four boys, “Are you sure you’ll
be all right?”

Robbie laughed nervously and asked Sammy, “Does your father have a gun in
the house?”

Sammy gave him an angry looked and responded, “If he did, I wouldn’t give it
to you. You can’t just shoot someone because you’re afraid of them.”

“But Lucas is crazy,” insisted Robbie.

“Well, you’re not getting a gun,” huffed Sammy.

She looked at Neil and told him to call her when he arrived home. “Let me
know you guys made it home safely.” Neil nodded and followed the others out
the front door.

They walked silently toward Ned’s home. He lived about a quarter of a mile
away from Sammy. As they walked, they kept a close eye on the road behind
them. If Lucas got off at the next stop, he would be trailing them.

“Bye, Guys,” Ned said nervously as he looked to make sure Lucas wasn’t
approaching. He asked Owen to call him when he got home. Robbie’s home
was next. Again, they hurried down the street to his home that was three
blocks from Ned’s home.

“I guess it’s just us,” remarked Owen nervously as he and Neil started toward
Neil’s home. He lived two blocks away from Robbie. It only took them a couple
of minutes to arrive. When they got to Neil’s porch, he turned to Owen.

“You can’t go home by yourself,” he said worriedly. Even though Owen lived
two blocks away, it would still be dangerous for him to be by himself if Lucas
was following them. “Why don’t you come inside, and I’ll have my mom take
you home when she gets here.”

“I don’t know,” responded Owen. He still felt nervous being with Neil after
what had happened. He knew Neil wouldn’t do anything, but he still felt
uncomfortable being alone with him.

“Don’t worry,” said Neil when he saw the look of apprehension on Owen’s
face. “Brett and Emily will be home in a few minutes.”

Owen relented, and he agreed to come inside Neil’s home. They removed their
book bags from their shoulders, and Owen followed Neil into the kitchen. He
sat on a bar stool while Neil went to the refrigerator and took out two
Mountain Dews. He then went to the cupboard and removed a box of Fig
Newtons. He sat down opposite Owen and put the soda and cookies in front
of him.

Owen asked, “How long will it be before your Mom gets home?”

Neil looked at the clock and replied, “Maybe about another hour.” Owen
nodded his head and took a swig of his soda.

Just then, Neil’s phone rang. It was Sammy. He explained that Owen was
staying with him until his mother got home. He also assured her that Robbie
and Ned were safe.

When he hung up, Owen said angrily, “This is so stupid. We shouldn’t be
afraid of Lucas. He is our friend.”

Neil looked at Neil and replied, “But you guys said he’s really changed.”

“He has,” responded Owen. “After what happened...” His face reddened and
he stopped talking.

Neil hung his head and apologized, “I’m sorry about that,” he said. He looked
into Owen’s eyes. “If I could take back that day, I would.”

Owen shook his head. “No,” he insisted. “We were just playing around. I
shouldn’t have said anything to the other guys. I’m the one who fucked up.”

Neil’s voice shook as he started to confess, “Look, Owen. There’s something
you should know.”

Owen jumped from the stool and started pacing around the room. “It don’t
matter, Neil,” he said as he stopped and looked at Neil. “What’s done is done.”

“But...” started Neil.

Owen stared at Neil and said angrily, “I said it don’t matter none. What’s done
is done. Okay?”

Neil nodded his head. He understood. Owen was telling him it was okay if he
was gay. But like most boys their age, he didn’t want to talk about it. There
would be a day when they might be able to sit down and discuss it, but then
wasn’t the time.

“Okay,” he replied.

Just then, Owen’s cell phone rang. It was Robbie. Owen assured him that he
and Neil were safe. He also told him he would be staying with Neil until his
mother arrived. Neil watched as Owen’s face reddened, and he then told
Robbie to “Fuck off.” Neil assumed that Robbie had said something jokingly
about the two of them being together alone in Neil’s house.

“Little shit,” muttered Owen as he placed his phone back into his pocket.

Neil finished his soda and then went to the refrigerator to get another. When
he held one up to Owen, he nodded and said he would take another. Neil
returned to the counter, sat down and handed Owen the beverage.

“Thanks,” he said as he smiled at Neil and asked, “So, how have things been?
What did you do while you were suspended?”

Neil started to tell him about the nice time he spent with his father. He didn’t
tell him that his father was gay, and that he was married to Dwight. Perhaps
someday, he would introduce him to them as he had Sammy. Owen seemed
like he would accept them as Sammy had done.

Neil jumped when his cell phone rang. He took it out of his pocket to see who
was calling. It was a private call. He looked skeptically at Owen and answered it.

“Hello?”

“Fuck you, you little morons!” It was Lucas’s booming voice. Owen’s eyes
widened when he heard Lucas’s threat coming from Neil’s phone.

He leaned toward Neil so he could hear what Lucas was saying. Neil held the
phone between their heads.

He continued, “Thought you were being cute by getting off at Ned’s stop.”
They could hear him breathing heavily as he talked. “You ain’t seen the last of
me, you Mother Fuckers. I’m going to fuck all of you up,” he spat. The hair on
Neil’s neck bristled when he added, “And I’m going to start with you, you
Mother Fucking Cock Sucker!”

Suddenly, the phone went dead. Owen gave Neil a worried look. Neil’s hands
shook as he placed the phone on the counter. He asked Neil, “What are we
going to do? I just know he’s going to hurt one of us.”

Neil’s voice trembled as he responded, “I don’t know.” He got up, walked over
to the back door and bolted the lock.

Owen stood and started to pace around the kitchen again. He stopped and
said, “We have got to tell an adult.” He picked Neil’s phone off the counter.
“Do you think we should call the police?”

Neil shook his head. “That won’t do any good,” he replied. “Kids make threats
all the time. They won’t care.”

“But Lucas means it!” shouted Owen. They jumped when the doorbell rang.
They hurried to the front door. Neil peeked through the peephole. “It’s Brett
and Emily,” he announced as he unlatched the lock.

“Be careful,” warned Owen. “Lucas could be out there with them.”

Neil cracked the door open and looked out. Brett started shouting to let them
in. After they entered, Neil bolted the door behind them.

Brett looked at Owen and smiled, “Hi, Owen,” he said cheerfully. “You haven’t
been over in a while.”

Owen glanced at Neil and replied to Brett, “Yeah, well, I’ve been kind of busy.”

“Cool,” quipped Brett as he tossed off his book bag and headed into the
kitchen with Emily trailing him. “What’s for a snack?”

Neil sighed and shouted, “Milk and Fig Newtons.”

Owen laughed when Brett hollered out, “Cool!”

                                * * * * * *

Alex and Gerry were in their room completing homework assignments. Alex
was reading a short story for Mrs. Yarber, and Gerry was struggling with
algebra problems.

“I can’t understand this,” moaned Gerry as he tossed his assignment paper
on the floor.

Alex rose from his bed, crossed the room and sat down beside his little
brother. “Let me see,” he said as he picked up the paper. He studied it a
minute before handing the paper to Gerry.

“They look easy to me,” he replied.

“That’s cause you’re smart,” grumbled Gerry.

“Okay,” replied Alex. “Let me help you.” For the next half hour, Alex helped
Gerry with the problems. Actually, Alex completed the assignment while his
brother listened to music on his headphones.

When he finished, Alex lay back on the bed and looked at Gerry. “Other than
algebra,” he laughed, “How are things going? Any more problems with that big
goober?”

“No,” he replied

“Come get me if he messes with you again,” insisted Alex. “Okay?”

“Yeah, sure,” replied Gerry. “I’ll be all right. Paul walks me to most of my
classes.”

Alex gave his brother a puzzled look. “Paul? Who’s he?”

Gerry grinned and said, “He’s really cute. He plays on the soccer team. I think
he likes me.”

“Likes you?” asked a stunned Alex. “What about Neil?”

Gerry replied, “What about him?”

“I thought you liked him?”

“No,” responded Gerry. “You like him. I never told you I like Neil.”

“But I thought you guys were good for each other.”

Gerry shook his head. “You’re doing it again,” he said angrily. “Look, Alex. I
can find my own boyfriends. Okay? I don’t need you to hook me up with other
guys.”

Alex stared disappointedly at his brother as he rose from the bed and left the
bedroom.

                                        * * * * * *


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