Chapter 2
Brittle as a Bird
“Can anyone tell me what the positive and a negative coterminal angles are to angle
A if it is -200 degrees?”

I had my head down on the desk, but I wasn’t asleep. Honest. I was just bored with
the way Mrs. Moss taught the class. She treated us like we were a bunch of
morons. We were in advanced trigonometry, for Christ’s sake.

All right. I’m smart, so sue me. Just because I hustle and live in a garage doesn’t
make me stupid. I’ve always done well in school. Well, almost. I hate history. History
is always about wars. I got my own battles to fight. Do I really give a shit how
MacArthur led the troops into Manila Bay?

“Mr. Albright?” Mrs. Moss’s voice screeched like a parrot in a pet shop.

I looked over at Gene Albright- God’s gift to every teenage girl who ever had a
sexual fantasy. His blue eyes looked frantically around the room as he pushed back
his long, blond hair. I chuckled inside knowing he probably hadn’t been paying
attention, and he was hoping someone would give him the answer.

“Well, Mr. Albright?” Mrs. Moss’s parrot voice screeched again.

He looked at me and ours meet briefly. I shrugged my shoulders, and laughed to
myself again. God, he is handsome. I’m just glad he isn’t on the street, because if
he was, no one would want anyone else. He could make a fortune.

His cheeks blushed as he responded, “I don’t know, Mrs. Moss.”

“Why do I even try?” She screeched in despair. “I might as well talk to the
blackboard.” She turned and addressed it. “Do you know the answer?”  The room
broke out in laughter.

“She is so stupid,” I muttered to no one in particular. I just find it ridiculous when
teachers try to amuse students with their inane actions.

“What?” She turned and her eyes narrowed as she approached me. “Did you have
something to say, Mr. Carpenter?”

“No, Ma’am,” I responded as I returned her glare. She didn’t intimidate me. After my
old man, I wasn’t afraid of anyone.

“Then perhaps you can tell me the answer to the question I just posed?” She stood
smugly looking at me with her arms crossed. A small smile appeared on her face
because she thought she had the opportunity to embarrass me.

“160 degrees positive, 560 degrees negative,” I stated sharply as I returned her
glare. Her eyes narrowed in anger. We continued to stare for several seconds.
There was an eerie silence in the room.

I always try to remain a nonentity in school. I come to school, do what is expected,
and leave at the end of the day. Except for a few words shared with Ticker, I hardly
ever speak to anyone. I have a feeling that most students are afraid of me. Not
because I intimidate them with my size. I’m tall and skinny, remember? Not exactly
your bully physique.

I heard a girl once remark to a friend in the hallway when they passed me. “You
have to be careful around him. It’s the quiet ones who you have to be afraid of.”  I
chuckled to myself when I heard her words. What did she expect me to do some
day? Terrorize the school? Afraid not. I don’t really give a shit what anyone thinks
about me.

Mrs. Moss let out a small huff, turned abruptly and walked to her desk. Several
students sitting nearby started giggling when she muttered, “smart ass,” as she
walked away.

“Bitch,” I muttered back. The guy next to me started laughing. Mrs. Moss’s body
stiffened, but she continued to walk away. I was pretty sure she had heard me. I
guess she chose to ignore it, rather than provoke another confrontation.

She stood behind her desk and then looked at the clock on the wall. “Since Mr.
Carpenter has decided to take up so much of my teaching time, then I’m afraid   
you’ll have to do the work at home.” The students moaned, and then they turned
to look at me.

I sat defiantly, glaring at Mrs. Moss. I knew what she was doing. Since she couldn’t
intimidate me in class, she was going to try and turn the class against me.

“I want you to do all the problems at the end of chapter 16.” She glared at me.

“Man, Mrs. Moss,” moaned Gene. “That’s going to take me all night.”

“Don’t blame me, Mr. Albright,” she said smugly. “Blame Mr. Carpenter.” Just then
the bell rang. I stood up and several students brushed against me as they walked
past.

“Thanks a lot, Fucker,” spat Gene as he pushed past me.

“Bite me,” I replied challengingly.

“You wish,” he responded as he hurried away.

Oh yeah. Did I mention that the entire school knows I’m gay and that I hustle? That
information has made me a leper around school. Everyone thinks I’m a walking,
sexually transmitted disease.

Last year one of my regulars was dropping me off outside Louie’s, just as a group
of girls from my school came walking by.

“Thanks, Honey,” the john replied. “That was great. Can I pick you up same time
next week?” He hollered out the window as I walked quickly away. However, he
called it out just as I walked past the girls. They started giggling and pointing at me.

“I knew there was something strange about him,” one said.

“Must be a fag,” said another. They continued to look back and stare at me as they
walked away. By the end of school the next day, everyone had heard about it. For a
few months, I was known as Joey the Hoey. They don’t call me that any longer, but
they also don’t speak to me, either.

I’m going to get even with everyone next year. My counselor said that it looks like I
may be the valedictorian of our class. I’ve been working on my speech for a few
months now. Actually, I’m writing two. One I’ll submit for the approval of the
principal. The other is the one I’ll actually read.  

As I exited the class, Gene was standing across the hall with a couple of his friends.
I turned to walk away from him, but he stepped in front of me, blocking my path.
His two friends moved up beside him.

“Thanks to you Cocksucker, we have additional homework,” he said angrily. I raised
my head and stared into his face. I could sense nervousness in him. He was trying
to put on a show for his friends, but I could tell he was trembling inside.

“Move out of my way,” I replied sternly. I looked down and saw him balling his hand
into a fist. Students began to rush around us, pushing me closer to him.

“Fight!” someone shouted, and then I was forcefully pushed into Gene. He raised
his fist and hit me in the right side of the face.

“Shit,” I thought. Not again.

I don’t need this. I just want to come to school and then leave. I’m the guy who to
tries to go around unnoticed. Now Gene was forcing me into a confrontation. I could
tell by his nervousness he didn’t want it either; but his friends, and now the
students gathered around us in the hallway, were hungry for action.

“I’m not fighting you,” I said emphatically, and then I tried to push my way through
the mass of students who were anxious to see a fight.

Just then, someone pushed Gene into me. I turned to shove him away, but once
again he threw a fist into the side of my face. Neither punch was thrown with much
force. Besides, I had endured my father’s punches for years; so I was used to
taking a hit.

I could hear a whistle in the background. I knew that sound. It was Mr. Walters, the
assistant principal. He always blow his whistle to get students’ attention. He says it
makes more noise than him shouting.

I could sense the mob of students begin to part, and soon Mr. Walters was
grabbing me around the collar. I turned to pull his hand away, but he gave me a
warning look. I knew if I touched him, I might as well kiss my valedictorian spot
goodbye.

He grabbed Gene by the arm and jerked him away from me. “Both of you go to my
office and wait.” I gave a final glance at Gene, and then pushed my way through the
crowd and headed to the office. I looked back once and saw Gene stomping angrily
down the hall about 20 feet behind me.

This fucking sucks. I’ll probably get suspended and I didn’t do a damn thing. I tried
to walk away. I told Gene I didn’t want to fight him, but all Mr. Walters saw was me
in the middle of the fight. You can look at my face and see the beginnings of
bruises, while Gene doesn’t have a mark on him. That should indicate I didn’t hit
him.

But Walters won’t listen. He has a reputation as a strict disciplinarian. His idea is,
that if he can use one student as an example, then others will fall in line. Word
around school was he didn’t tolerate fighting, in any form. So I guess Gene’s fist
against the side of my face was my participation in the fight.

Gene and I waited in the office for about fifteen minutes. It became a glaring
contest. Neither of us wanted to be the first to look away. If we did, it showed
weakness. I know I can’t beat his ass physically, but mentally I can win. I don’t have
a problem getting into someone else’s head. It’s my own I can’t control.

Suddenly, the door flew open and Walters came barging in. He cast an angry look at
Gene and seemed to ignore me. He walked to the counter and wrote something on
a piece of paper and then walked over to me.

“Here,” he said, handing me the paper. I looked down and noticed it was a hall pass
with my name on it.

“What’s this?”

“Go to class,” he ordered. I looked questioningly at him, and then rose and left the
office. On the way out, I heard him say angrily, “Go to my office, Albright.” I turned
and watched Gene get up from his seat and walk dejectedly down the hall to   
Walter’s office.

What in the hell just happened? I’m sure Walters will deal with me later. It can’t be
that easy. He’s probably going to talk to Gene first and get his side of the story,
then he’ll call me to his office later and suspend me. Gene will plead his innocence
and Walters will buy it.

I’m the school fag who no one talks to, right? Gene is Mr. BMOC. Who will believe
my side of the story? Fuck it, I don’t care anymore. I’ve wanted to leave this suck
hole for a long time. The only reason I stayed was to piss off these bastards around
here. I wanted to rub it in their faces when I received my diploma and gave my
speech.

I wish Walters had kept me in the office. The class I reported to was Henderson’s
AP History class. I don’t know why he’s fixated on the Civil War. He talks about it
like we are still in the 1860’s. Didn’t we move past all this slavery shit? I think he
gets an orgasm thinking about young African girls being sold naked on the auction
block. When he described it to us last week, he had to sit down in his chair. And
everyone thinks I’m the school pervert.

Jesus, now he’s fighting the Battle of Antietam again. We’ve heard this story at
least a dozen times. Half the class is asleep. I’d put my head down, but I know
Walters is going to call me to the office any minute.

I was surprised when the bell rang ending class, and I hadn’t been summoned.
Lunch follows History. Talk about a poor schedule. Henderson will make anyone lose
their appetite.

“Look here,” I hear a familiar voice behind me. It’s Ticker. I turn and he’s holding a
joint in his hand. “Herbal medicine from the Gods,” he laughs. He throws his arm
around my shoulder and leads me out the side door.

Ticker is the only guy in school who couldn’t give a shit what people say about him
socializing with me. He always says, “Look at my fat ass. Don’t you think they
already talk about me?” We always end up laughing because we know it’s probably
true. The only reason anyone talks to Ticker is because he supplies weed to half the
student population. I’ve never figured out how he does it without getting caught.

He’s usually pretty cautious, though. He never sells at school, and he won’t sell to
anyone he doesn’t know personally. He’s not one of the dealers who stand on a
street corner selling dope to small kids. He also sells nothing but marijuana. He
says, “Crack and meth are for losers. Weed makes you high, but it doesn’t make
you crazy.”

He threatened to kick my ass last year when I asked him if he could score me some
cocaine. I was going through some heavy shit in my mind and weed and alcohol  
weren’t helping. I thought I needed something stronger.

It was the only time I thought I seriously was going to lose him as a friend. He told
me if I touched shit like that, then not to come around him anymore. I could tell by
the disappointed look on his face he meant it. It took me two weeks to get him to
talk to me after that.

“I heard about what happened, Man,” he said as he passed me the joint. We were
behind a garage where they maintained the school buses and vans. There were a
few other students smoking, some cigarettes, others joints that they probably had
purchased from Ticker.

“Yeah,” I replied. “Walters will probably call me in and suspend me this afternoon.
Fuck, I’m screwed. I didn’t even do shit.”

“You haven’t heard?” He looked at me questioningly.

“Heard what?”

“He ripped Albright a new asshole.” Ticker was looking at me and smiling. He started
laughing when I gave him a blank stare.

“I heard a couple of students told him that you hadn’t done anything, that you  
didn’t want to fight him.”

“Well I didn’t,” I replied. “But why would anyone stand up for me?” I couldn’t believe
that students would side with me over Gene Albright. It had to be a former
girlfriend who was trying to seek revenge on him.

“Maybe they took a truth pill,” he laughed as he passed me the joint. “Or maybe
they were high.” He laughed again as he blew a puff of smoke in my face. “Nothing
like some good dope to mellow you out and tell the truth.”

“So what did you hear happened?” I really don’t give a shit about Gene, but I was
curious.

“Ten days,” informed Ticker as he held up five fingers.

“You’re fucked up,” I laughed.  

He butted the remainder of the joint and threw an arm around my shoulder. “I’m
hungry now.”

“You’re always hungry,” I laughed as I poked him in his large stomach. As always,  
his pants were low over his stomach, and his tee shirt was hanging out. Ticker
never cared much for making a fashion statement.

I don’t usually like eating in the school cafeteria. For one, the food sucks- big time.
A joke circulating around school is that one night two rats were found pounding on
an exit door begging to get out.  And secondly, no one wants me here. On the rare
occasions I do eat in the cafeteria, students panic when they see me walking
through the cafeteria looking for someplace to sit down. God forbid I’d ever sit
down with them.

I got even with Barry Davidson last year. He had been tormenting me for months,
calling me names and pushing me in the hall. One day I noticed that he was sitting
alone at a table. I carried my tray over and set it down on the table and sat down
across from him. The surprised look on his face was priceless. You could hear
students all around us begin to snicker.

“Sitting with your boyfriend, Davidson?” Someone across the cafeteria hollered. The
cafeteria broke out in laughter as Barry’s face turned a scarlet red. He got up and
hurriedly left the cafeteria. That was a good day.  

We walked through the food line, and I bought what I thought was a slice of
pepperoni pizza. It was triangular and had something that resembled circles on top.
I also purchased an apple. That I could easily recognize. There’s not too many ways
the cafeteria staff could ruin an apple. However, I wouldn’t want to wager a bet on it.

“Look, Joey,” announced Ticker. “I have to go talk to Wagner a minute.” He
motioned with his head at a black haired goth-looking student standing at the door.
Billy Joe Wagner was as much a leper at school than I was, if that’s possible. He
wears a black trench coat and paints his finger nails black. He also pierced his
tongue last year.

He likes to sit in classes and fuck with students by staring at them and then acting
like he’s writing their names down in a little black book. He’s got every one scared
shitless that he’s making a hit list and he’s going to come to school one day and
shoot them.

Ticker and I got high with him one Saturday night a few months ago. After getting
fucked up, I actually asked him if it was true that he was making a hit list. He put his
arm around me and pulled me into him, and he laughed uproariously.

“Fuck no, Man.” He pulled the book out and opened it up. “I’m a fucking poet,” he
laughed. “Sometimes I get an idea and I got to write it down before I forget it. But I
love it when I see the frightened looks on their faces. Fuck ‘em.”

He let me read some of his poetry. Wagner is one fucked up dude. I thought I had
problems. His writings are so dark, that even I had trouble relating to it. Since that
night we kind of bonded a little. We   don’t hang out with each other, but we will
occasionally speak when we pass each other in the hall. I guess outcasts have got
to stick together.

I followed Ticker to a table by the door, and he put his tray down. “Don’t let anyone
fuck with my food, Joey.” He nodded and then disappeared through the door with
Billy Joe behind him.

I sat down and took a bite of the pizza. It tasted like cardboard, and I couldn’t even
bite into the pepperoni. I pushed my tray aside and began eating the apple.

“You’re not going to eat that?” Ticker asked as he sat down and lifted the pizza and
began biting into it. I sat in amazement and watched it disappear in a couple of
bites. He then began eating the two hamburgers he had purchased.

“What?” He asked as he saw me staring at him.

“How can you eat that crap?”

“When you’re a growing boy like me,” he said as he patted his enormous stomach,
“you’ll eat anything.”

“You’re a fucking pig,” I laughed.

“But you love me,” he stated as he opened his mouth and showed me the contents
of the half devoured mixture inside.

“Later, Dude,” I frowned as I pushed myself away from the table. Ticker was like a
brother, but even that had its limits.

I walked outside and headed back behind the garage. I saw Billy Joe and a couple of
girls standing in a circle. Billy Joe looked up and motioned me over. Hesitantly, I
approached.

“Here,” he said as he handed me a joint. “Ticker has some good shit this week.”      
I took a puff and inhaled it deeply before blowing it out.

“Want to do a shotgun?” One of the girls asked as she moved up beside me and
held my head down. I cringed when she grabbed me around my waist and pushed
her tits against my chest. I quickly pushed her away. She wasn’t a bad looking girl.
Any other guy would have been happy to have her

“Forget it, Camilla,” laughed Billy Joe. “He plays for the other team.” I gave him an
angry look.

“It’s cool, Dude,” he apologized. “No one around here cares.”

“It’s a shame,” said Camilla as she rubbed her hand against my chest. Again, I
flinched and stepped back. “We could have had some fun.”

“Don’t worry about it, Joey,” said Billy Joe. “She wants to fuck any guy.”

“I don’t hear you complaining,” shot back Camilla. She reached down and ran her
hand against his black leather pants. I noticed it begin to harden. Camilla leaned
over and whispered something in his ear, and his cock continued to harden to full
length.

“Here,” Billy Joe handed me the remainder of the joint, grabbed   Camilla’s hand and
led her away. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where they were going.
They were heading in the direction of the football stadium. I’m sure if those
bleachers could talk, they’d have a lot to say.

I turned to head back into the building, when I realized that another girl had been
standing unnoticed off to the side.

“Sorry,” I apologized. “I didn’t see you there. I’m Joey.”

“Everyone calls me Star.” She looked up at me and blushed. She was very
attractive. She was petite, standing only about 5’2”. She had long blonde hair that
cascaded off her shoulders and down her back. She had the most beautiful deep
blue eyes. They reminded me of the color of the lake water on a bright sunny day.
She had on a long flowing dress that was blowing gently in the wind.

“Would you like to hit this?” I asked as I held up the half-smoked joint.

“I don’t mess with drugs,” she responded. I started to put it out, but she reached
out and gently touched my hand. “But it’s all right if you do.”

I put it to my lips and inhaled deeply while Star closely watched me. For some
reason, I suddenly felt naked as she studied me.

“Why haven’t I seen you before?” Star asked. “I know most of Billy Joe’s friends.”

“I’m not really a friend,” I replied. “Actually, I’ve only spoken to him a few times.”

There was an awkward silence, as we cast glances at each other. I was afraid she
was going to hit on me like Camilla had.

“How did you get the name Star?” I asked, trying to break the uneasy silence. “It’s
a rather unusual nickname.”

“It’s not a nickname,” she replied. “It’s my real name.”

“Sorry,” I apologized. I could feel my face begin to redden.

“It’s all right,” she smiled. “I get that all the time. When my mother was pregnant
with me, she said she saw a falling star streaking across the sky the night before I
was born. She decided to name me Star.”

“I guess it’s better than being named Streaker,” I laughed. She put her hand over
her mouth and giggled.

“That’s funny,” she laughed. “That’s the first time I’ve heard that one.”

Again, we stood in awkward silence. Occasionally we’d look at each other and smile.
Star was the first girl who had ever made me feel comfortable. I was pretty sure she
knew I was gay, and she didn’t seem to be disgusted by my presence.

Just then, we could hear the bell ringing inside the building.

“I guess we better get to class,” Star said. She seemed disappointed that the bell
had interrupted us.

“What class do you have?” I asked.

“English Literature,” she sighed.

“Mr. Vickers?”

“Unfortunately,” she sighed again. “I’m failing the class.”

“I have him first period,” I replied. “Perhaps I can tutor you.”

“Really?” Her blue eyes lit up. “You don’t know how much I’d like that. If I don’t
pass the class, I won’t be able to graduate in June.”

“Don’t worry, Young Lady,” I said as I held out my arm. She wrapped it around
mine and we began walking into the building. “I’ll make sure you pass.”

She suddenly stopped and turned to me. “Why?”

“Why, what?”

“Why would you want to help me?”

“Why not?” I laughed. “That is if you don’t mind being helped by someone like me.”

“Why would I not mind being helped by one of the nicest boys in the school?”

“Who?” I laughed as I looked around the hallway. She stood and smiled up at me.

“You don’t know much about me, do you?” I asked.

“I know all I need to know,” she replied. She grabbed my arm once again as I walked
her to her class. It seemed like everyone we passed looked back and remarked
about us walking arm in arm together. I guess they couldn’t figure out what a gay
hustler would be doing with a beautiful girl.

Honestly, I didn’t quite know myself.


Chapter 3                                  Return to TMJ