Buddy entered Mr. Peterson’s American history class and quickly glanced over at
Kyle. He was hoping he could make eye contact with him, but Kyle had his history
book open. It appeared he was trying to read what had been assigned for
The night before, he had promised Andre that he would make an attempt to talk to
Kyle. If nothing else, he told him he would just say hello. He couldn’t understand
why the dark-haired boy with brown eyes had caught his imagination. There were
hundreds of good-looking boys wandering the halls, but only Kyle drew his
He was cute. But then again, half the boys surrounding him in class were equally as
cute. However, something about Kyle was different. He noticed him the first day of
classes. In fact, they shared three classes together. Besides American history, Kyle
was also in his Algebra II class and computer science. In history, Kyle sat two aisles
away. However, Buddy had a good view of him. He had made sure the second day
to sit so he could observe him unnoticed. In algebra, fate had been kind to him. The
teacher assigned seats the first day, and he sat beside him. However, Kyle had yet
to look at him and speak. In computer science, students shared a computer table,
but Kyle sat with Joy Riddler. Even though she was very attractive, he had yet seen
Kyle say anything to her. That fact only reinforced his suspicion that Kyle might be
“Mr. Ryder?” Buddy froze when Mr. Peterson called out his name. He had been
daydreaming, and he hadn’t heard the question that had been asked in class.
He embarrassedly asked, “Yes?” He looked around the room as students stared at
him. He was particularly humiliated because Kyle had turned to look.
Mr. Peterson made his way down the aisle and stood before him. “The question
was,” he said with a degree of irritation in his voice, “What steps did the Pilgrims
make to insure their success in the New World?”
“Um...” stammered Buddy. The class erupted into laughter when he replied, “They
had the first Thanksgiving?” His face reddened when Mr. Peterson looked down,
shook his head and walked back to the front of his class. It didn’t help when he
glanced at Kyle and noticed him giggling at his response.
He heard someone behind him mutter, “What a dumbass.” Without turning around,
he knew the comment had come from Dewey Armbruster, sophomore class bully. If
Dewey knew the answer to Mr. Peterson’s question, then Buddy realized just how
ridiculous his answer must have sounded.
‘I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life,’ Buddy thought to himself. For the first
time since school began, Kyle was aware of who he was. ‘Now, he must think I’m an
When class ended, he hurried down the aisle toward the door. As he approached,
Kyle stepped up beside him and slightly smiled. Buddy quickly exited, hoping he
didn’t walk into the door and further humiliate himself in front of the boy he
Later that evening, Andre came to visit as he normally did after dinner. “Well?” he
asked Buddy as he sat down on his bed. “Did you talk to your lover boy?” Buddy
fell back on the bed and covered his head with his pillow.
“Not quite,” he mumbled into the pillow. “But I did get his attention.”
Andre asked excitedly, “How?” He fell back on the bed beside Buddy and howled
with laughter when Buddy told him what happened in his history class.
“You’re a dumbass,” remarked Andre as he playfully slapped Buddy.
Buddy responded, “That’s what Dewey called me.”
“Damn, Dude,” laughed Andre. “If Armbruster calls you a dumbass, it doesn’t get
any lower on the food chain than that.” He laughed louder when Buddy again placed
the pillow over his head and moaned.
Andre stood and walked over to a stack of cd’s strewn on top of Buddy’s old
dresser. “Let’s listen to some music,” he remarked as he fumbled through the small
collection. He started laughing, and he held one up and showed it to Buddy.
“Remember this one?”
Buddy looked up and smiled when he saw Madonna’s image on the cover. Andre
took the cd from the case and put it into Buddy’s CD player. Soon, the room was
vibrating to the beat of the music. Andre pulled Buddy to his feet as Madonna
“God it’s been ages since we danced to this,” exclaimed Andre as he began dancing.
Go with the flow.”
He grabbed Buddy’s waist and tried to get him to dance. “Come on, Man,” he
“Come on, Vogue,
Let your body move to the music.”
Andre giggled when Buddy began dancing. Soon they were dancing as they had
when they were boys. “Remember when we were ten and saw her do this on MTV.
You had to have it.”
“Yeah,” laughed Buddy as he watched Andre’s smaller body gyrate. At seventeen,
he looked more like fourteen. His body was almost hairless. He had a hint of a
mustache, but his face was smooth, and his features were youthful. His sister cut
his hair short, and she often sculpted designs into it. His brown eyes shown with
excitement as he danced around the room. Buddy smiled at his friend and said,
“You went to Kmart and stole it. You almost got your ass arrested.”
Andre laughed and said, “It’s a good thing that security cop had eaten too many
doughnuts that morning. His fat ass couldn’t catch me.”
“Look around. Everywhere you turn is a heartache.
Everywhere you go, you try everything you can to
Escape the pain of life you know.”
They continued to dance in the small, cramped room, flailing their arms and
mimicking the moves they had danced to so many times as kids.
“All you need is your own imagination,
So use it that's what it's for.
Go inside for your finest inspiration,
Your dreams will open the door.”
“You go, Girl!” Andre laughed as Buddy posed seductively and licked his lips.
They jumped when Buddy’s mother hollered out, “Turn that fucking music off! I’ve
got company.” Andre hurried to the dresser and quickly turned off the player.
Buddy walked over to this bed, dropped down on it and covered his head in his
hands. “When will this shit ever end?” He looked at Andre with misty eyes. “When
will I escape the pain of life?”
When he fell back on the bed, Andre leaned over, scooped his disheartened friend
into his arms and whispered in his ear, “Just hold on, Baby. Someday your dreams
will come true.”
* * * * * *
Kyle smelled bacon as soon as he left his room. That meant that his mother must
be home. Usually, when she finished prosecuting a big case, she would spend
several days at home before taking on another. Kyle had learned it was out of guilt
because she had abandoned Melissa and him for months. One advantage of her
guilt, though, was that it usually meant a trip to the mall. He always kept a list of
the latest video games he wanted to purchase for such an occasion.
His mother turned and smiled when he entered the kitchen. “Good morning, Dear,”
she cooed as she turned from the stove and kissed him on the cheek. Kyle wiped
his face and sat down on a stool at the counter. “I’ve made you breakfast.”
“Oh, darn,” he said sarcastically. “I was looking forward to a cold bowl of cereal.”
Mrs. Caldwell laughed and started humming a tune as she finished scrambling eggs
in the skillet.
“How’s school going?” She asked as she placed several slices of bacon on his plate.
“Are you adjusting to the new school?”
“It’s school,” he remarked as he took a bite of the bacon. “What’s to adjust to?”
She placed eggs on his plate and asked, “Have you made any friends yet?”
“Yeah, sure,” he replied as he picked at the eggs with his fork.
His mother poured a cup of coffee and sat down beside him. “I worry about you,
Kyle.” She looked worriedly at him and gripped his hand. Kyle immediately pulled
“Why do you worry about me?” He asked sarcastically. “You should be worried
about Melissa.” He knew his mother was aware of his sister’s relationship with Brad.
He just didn’t know if she was aware of just how close they were.
“Melissa can take care of herself,” she responded. “But I worry about you.”
“Where’s Dad this week?” Kyle asked, hoping to change the subject. His father had
left over the weekend with his luggage. He had been home for two days, and most
of it had been spent at his office.
“He’s in Seattle,” she informed him.
She laughed when Kyle asked, “What’s he doing there?”
“Oh, no you don’t,” she laughed. “You’re dealing with an attorney. I’m not that
easily distracted.” He grimaced when she put her hand on his face. “You’re growing
up so fast. It just seems like yesterday you were a little boy.”
She stared at the boy who was quickly developing into a young man. Gone was the
baby fat. His face was beginning to exhibit the features of a man. His light brown
hair was shorter than in the past, and he was beginning to grow facial hair. She
could see stubble on his chin where he had probably shaved a few days earlier.
“Like you would know,” he said as he pushed her hand away.
When tears welled up in her eyes, Kyle regretted getting smart with her. “Maybe I
haven’t been the best mother in the world,” she remarked sadly, “but you’ve never
been neglected. I’ve tried hard balancing my career with being a mother. It hasn’t
Kyle looked sympathetically at her. “I know, Mother. I’m sorry.” He looked down at
his plate before she could see the tears forming in his eyes.
He didn’t pull away when she placed her hand on his arm. “Is everything all right?
I know it was hard on you when we moved. Do you still talk to Jordan?”
Kyle bristled when his mother mentioned Jordan. Jordan had been his best friend
whom he left behind when they moved to Center City. In fact, he was more than a
best friend. At the age of fourteen, they had secretly become boyfriends. Their
sleepovers had become more that just friends spending the night. Over the two
years, their playfulness had turned to love. Just the mention of Jordan’s name
brought an insurmountable wave of sadness to Kyle.
“Let’s run away,” Jordan had suggested the night before Kyle’s move as they sat
on the side of the bed trying to figure out how they could be together. “If we go
somewhere where no one can find us, then we can be together forever.” He leaned
over, grabbed Kyle around the neck and began to cry uncontrollably.
“I’ll find a way to come back,” Kyle tried to reassure him. “We’ll still be together
someday, I promise.” He lifted Jordan’s tear-stained face and kissed him
Jordan gripped him tighter. “No we won’t,” he cried. “You’ll move away and find
someone else to love.”
“No, I won’t,” cried Kyle. “I promise.”
However, now weeks had turned to months, and the phone calls and emails were
becoming less frequent. Even though Kyle still longed for his friend, he knew that
Jordan was moving on with his life. Now if only he could.
He was brought back from his reverie when his mother squeezed his arm. “You
would tell me if something is bothering you, wouldn’t you, Kyle?”
“Of course, Mom.”
“I just wish you’d find someone again,” she remarked. “You seem so alone
anymore.” Kyle looked into his mother’s eyes and wondered just how much she
knew about him.
They turned toward the door when Melissa entered. “Morning,” she mumbled as she
sat down and took a sip of orange juice.
“Good morning, Sunshine,” Mrs. Caldwell sang out as she got up to prepare a
breakfast plate for her sleepy daughter.
Kyle rose from his chair to go to his room. Before leaving, his mother stopped him.
“Remember what I said, okay?”
“Sure, Mom,” he replied as he hurried from the room.
* * * * * * *
During his fifth period literature class, Buddy asked the teacher if he could be
excused to go to the bathroom. She hastily wrote him a pass and reminded him he
had to return within five minutes. Actually, she never paid attention how long a
student was out of the room, as long as it wasn’t obvious they had been gone too
long. As he strolled down the hall to the restroom, he heard giggling coming from
under the staircase ahead.
A female voice urgently warned, “Hurry up before we get caught.”
“I’m almost ready,” announced a boy’s voice. Buddy stopped to listen. It was
obvious two students were engaged in sex. He was curious who the two might be.
He also wanted to act as a lookout in case a teacher or administrator came down
Suddenly, the boy softly moaned, “I’m cumming.” Buddy reached down and
adjusted his growing erection. When he heard the rustling of clothes, he quickly
walked away so they would not know that he had heard them.
When he heard the girl giggle, he turned to see who they were. The boy was Brad
Chambers. The girl was Joy Riddler.
Buddy stopped when Brad hollered out, “Hey!” He approached Buddy with his fists
clenched. “Were you watching us?”
“No,” stammered Buddy. Brad looked into his scared face and knew he was lying.
Brad grabbed his shirt and pulled Buddy toward him. “If you say anything to
anyone,” he threatened, “I’ll fucking kill you.” He slammed him back against the wall.
Brad didn’t reply as he turned and hurried down the hall.
* * * * * * *
When Kyle left school at the end of the day, his mother was waiting outside in her
Range Rover. She honked the horn and motioned for him. “Where’s your sister?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I don’t see her at school. Why?”
“We’re going to the mall,” she announced. She then took out her phone and called
Melissa. “Where are you?” She frowned as Melissa told her that she was going to
the football stadium to watch Brad practice.
“Well, be home in time for dinner,” she said before hanging up. She then turned to
Kyle. “I guess it’s just you and me.”
His mother tried to probe more about what he was doing at school. He knew she
was just in her mother mode for the day. Tomorrow, she would be engrossed in
whatever case she had been assigned. At least he could use it to his advantage and
get the latest video games he had been wanting.
“Mom,” he whined. “School is school. It hasn’t changed since you were a girl.”
“What?” she laughed. “You’re not going to kid me about attending a one room
Kyle looked at her questioningly and asked, “What’s that?” His mother laughed
He hated taking trips to the mall with his mother. He wished that Melissa had joined
them so he could at least sneak away for an hour. However, his mother insisted
that he stay and give his opinion of clothes she tried on inside the boutiques she
drug him into.
“How’s this look?” she asked as she posed in a grey dress. His mother was a
beautiful woman, and he thought she could wear a burlap bag and look good in it.
She was taller than most women, and she looked ten years younger than she was.
She kept in shape by exercising religiously each night in the exercise room in the
“Just great, Mom,” he answered nonchalantly when he looked up. Another shopper
walked over and began telling her how wonderful the dress looked on her. Kyle
rolled his eyes. He knew it would be an hour before he could finally escape the store.
Forty-five minutes later, they left the store with Kyle carrying three shopping bags.
Kyle turned left, knowing that the video game store was at the end of the mall.
When they approached the store, his mother sat on a bench, opened her purse
and handed him her credit card.
He asked, “What’s this?”
She laughed and said, “I know what you’ve been wanting all afternoon. You’ve been
patient with me; now go buy your games.” Kyle turned and headed toward the
store. “No violent ones,” she hollered out as he walked away.
When he returned a half hour later, he handed her the credit card and receipt.
“Three hundred and sixty dollars!” she squealed as she looked at the amount of
Kyle’s purchase. “What did you do, buy out the store?”
“Nope,” he replied as he held up the bag. “I only got six videos.”
“I only got six videos?” His mother asked. “What do they teach you in school?”
Kyle giggled, held up the videos and replied, “Supply and Demand Economics.” She
popped him on the head when he added, “You supply the money to meet my
“Smartass,” she remarked as they walked away. Kyle followed his mother into a
Starbucks. She ordered an iced coffee for her, a strawberry Smoothie for him, and
two blueberry scones. He trailed behind as she walked through the restaurant and
sat at a table facing the outside.
Kyle became uneasy as his mother kept looking over at him. “What?” he finally
“Nothing, Dear,” his mother replied as she took a sip of her drink.
“No,” he insisted. “You have that look when you want to ask me something but
you’re afraid to.”
She turned, stared into his face and asked, “Are you happy, Dear?”
“Are you happy?” she asked again.
“What makes you think I’m not happy?”
“It’s my job to be able to read people’s expressions,” she replied. “I’m a
prosecutor, remember? If it’s about Jordan...”
“Mom!” Kyle interrupted her. He didn’t like the direction the conversation was
taking. He had suspected the past year that his mother knew about his and
Jordan’s relationship, but he wasn’t prepared to talk about it inside a Starbucks.
“Look,” he insisted. “I’m sixteen. What sixteen-year-old is ever happy?”
“I know, but...”
“I’m okay, Mom,” he shouted. He quickly looked around the room to see if anyone
had heard his outburst. He stood and looked down at his mother. “Can we just go
They rode in silence. Kyle thought of confirming her suspicions that he was gay. He
knew that she was giving him the opportunity to do it, but he was not ready. He
was already heartbroken over leaving Jordan. He wanted to be emotionally prepared
when he did sit down with her. Right now, he was afraid he might break down if he
started talking about his feelings. Telling her would have to wait until another day.
He was in the kitchen helping his mother prepare dinner when they heard the front
door slam shut. Seconds later, they heard Melissa shout out, “I’m going to get
even with that mother fucker!” They then heard her storming up the steps to her
“Oh, Dear!” His mother exclaimed as she removed her apron and hurried from the
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