Taking Off the Mask
Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without
and know we cannot live within.  -James Baldwin
Chapter 2
When I went downstairs the next morning, my mother was sitting at the kitchen table
drinking a cup of coffee and reading the newspaper. Janet was eating a bowl of cereal.  
She looked up when I entered, but then she looked down and continued eating.

At least Janet looked at me. My mother’s eyes never left the newspaper. I looked at
the seat where I normally sit. Usually, there is a bowl of cereal and a glass of milk. It
was empty. I sighed, walked over to the cabinet and took out a glass and poured
myself some milk. I left the kitchen and headed back to my room to finish getting
ready for school.

It was the first time she had ever given me the silent treatment. Usually she would
rant and rave a while and then ground me for a few days. If I had done something
really bad, I’d lose some privileges. However, she had never reacted in this manner
before. I wasn’t quite sure what I was to do.

I finished dressing and headed back downstairs. Mom was still sitting in the same
spot. I considered apologizing, but the look on her face told me that she probably
didn’t want to hear it.  

“Bye, Mom.” I looked over expecting her to say something, but she kept reading the
paper without looking up. When I got outside, Jackie was sitting on the porch.

“What’s wrong with your Mom?” she asked as we started walking down the sidewalk
to school.

“Why?”

“I asked her if you were ready to leave and she said, ‘I don’t know.’ She didn’t say
anything more. What happened when you got home from detention?”

“That’s just it,” I explained, “She won’t talk to me. She sent me to my room and
didn’t even punish me. It’s really weird. I’m kind of scared. I don’t know what she’s
planning to do.”

“Wow!” Jackie said in disbelief. “Something that serious and she didn’t even punish
you?”

“She will,” I sighed. “She will.”

We continued on to school. Jackie apologized about ten times for getting me in
trouble in Mrs. Horner’s class. I told her it wasn’t her fault, because I should have
been paying attention and not watching her.

“By the way,” she asked, “How did detention go?”

“Not too bad,” I replied. “Mr. Marshall had us alphabetizing some stupid schedules.”

“Us?” Jackie asked as she looked over at me.

“Yeah,” I responded. “Me and Dion Washington. Do you know him?”

“Isn’t he that cute black guy in our class?” she asked. “He never says anything to
anyone. What did he do?”

“Nothing.”

“What?”

“Nothing. He said he did nothing.”

“Yeah sure. You get detention because you did nothing.”

“I don’t like him,” I confessed. “He’s awfully rude. He wouldn’t even talk to me.”

“He doesn’t talk to anyone,” she said. “He’s in two of my classes this year, and I’ve
never seen him say anything to anyone. He pretty much stays to himself.”

“With his attitude,” I said, “I can understand why.”

“Maybe he needs a friend,” she offered.

“Then he should get a dog,” I replied.

After arriving at school, we headed to our classes. A couple of students in my first
period came up to me and told me I was brave for telling Mrs. Horner to shut up.
Mr. Wellington, the literature teacher, walked up and lectured us on the importance of
being respectful to our elders.

“Just think how you would feel if you were forty and a child told you to shut up,”  he
remarked.

“I’d smack him into tomorrow,” laughed Clinton, one of the guys who had shown his
appreciation for my disrespectful behavior toward Mrs. Horner.

“Well, unfortunately, Clinton,” responded Mr. Wellington, “teachers can’t do that. As
much as we’d like to sometimes,” he said quickly as he walked off.

I met up with Jackie for lunch. We’ve been sitting at the same table for the past year
and a half. We had staked it out the first day, and it had become ours. Lunch tables
are like the opening of the Oklahoma territory. When the bell rings that first day of
school, students rush to the cafeteria to ‘claim their territory.’ For the remainder of
the school year, that becomes their assigned eating place. No one dares infringe upon
it.

There are a few tables along the walls where most of the students who had no friends
sit. Occasionally, they might strike up a conversation; but generally, they sit wherever
there is an open seat.

Jackie and I declared squatters’ rights at our table the first day. It wasn’t in the center
of the cafeteria where most of the popular students sat; but it was far enough from
the walls so we didn’t look like losers.

“How’s your day been?” Jackie asked as I sat down.  

“One word- boring,” I replied.

“It is school, you know,” she said. “It’s supposed to be boring. If it wasn’t, we just
might learn something.”

“You got that right,” I laughed.

“Guess what?” she asked excitedly. “I know why Dion has detention. He’s in my
second period, and I heard some students talking about him.”

“What did he do? I know it wasn’t for talking in class, since he doesn’t talk to anyone.”

“Brenda was in the cafeteria yesterday,” she began. “She was behind him in the food
line and saw him put a sandwich in his pocket. Then he got a milk and paid just for it.
As soon as he walked away, Mr. Marshall stopped him, checked his pocket, and found
the sandwich. He then took him to the office.”

“He stole food?” I held up my dry bologna sandwich and waved it around. “Who would
steal this crap?”

“Maybe he was hungry and didn’t have the money to pay for it.”

“Why doesn’t he get a free lunch then?” I wondered. “I thought students who
couldn’t afford it got a free meal.”

“Beats me,” she shrugged her shoulders. “I felt sorry for him though. You know
Brenda has a big mouth, and he heard every word she said.”

I was going to say I didn’t feel sorry for him, but Jackie would have gotten upset. She
is always fighting for the underdog. Jackie is the kind of girl who would give an addict
on the street her last dollar, believing that he will actually buy food with it instead of
drugs.

We sat for the next few minutes without saying anything. I was deep in thought,
wondering why someone like Dion would steal food from the cafeteria. I wondered if
he came from a poor family and took it because there was nothing at his house for
him to eat. Suddenly, I began to feel sorry for him. Not sorry enough, though, that I
would give him my last dollar.

“Look!” exclaimed Jackie, interrupting my thoughts. “There goes Donovan.” She
dreamily watched him walk across the cafeteria. Donovan Michaels is a star basketball
player for our school. He is 6’5” and extremely handsome. He has long black hair that
matches the beginnings of a dark mustache. Every girl in school swoons when they
see him. Unfortunately for them, rumor has it that he plays for the other side.

“You should ask him out,” suggested Jackie.

I spit out the mouthful of milk I had just sipped. “What!” I shouted. “You can’t be
serious.”  

“Why not?” she asked. “You’re one of the cutest guys in our class, except for
Donovan, of course; and maybe Gene Pooler.” Gene is another handsome guy who is
admired by everyone. Unfortunately, for the throngs of worshipping teen girls, he has
been faithfully dating the same girl since the eighth grade.

“Like he’d go out with me.”

“You’d make a cute couple.” She continued to try to play matchmaker. “He’s tall and...”

“I’m short,” I interrupted.

“He has black hair...”

“And I have blond.”

“He has brown eyes...”

“And I have baby blues.”

“He’s athletic...”

“And my idea of sports is watching it on television. That is, if I don’t fall asleep.”

“See,” she insisted. “Opposites attract. You’re a perfect couple.”

“Shut up, Jackie,” I laughed.

“That remark just got you five days of detention.” She started to laugh until I cast her
a dirty look.

“Oops, sorry,” she apologized. “Will I see you later then?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “Come by the house after dinner. Since Mom isn’t talking to me,  
I might need someone around who likes me.”

“Who said I like you?” The bell rang and she got up to leave. As she walked away, she
looked over her shoulder and said, “I still think you should ask Donovan out.” I rolled
my eyes and headed off to class.

Later, when I entered Mrs. Horner’s fifth period class, she ignored me when I walked
into the room. She was talking to another student. She looked over at me, but then
looked away. I had a sinking feeling that I was going to have to struggle to get a good
grade out of her history class.

“Don’t talk to me,” I said to Jackie as I sat down. “And don’t look at me.” I sat for the
next hour  being the most attentive student in the class. I forced my eyes to stay
open when she lectured on the battle strategies of the North and the South during
the Civil War. By the time she got to the Battle of Gettysburg, I was afraid I’d need
toothpicks to hold my eyelids open. I looked around the room and I was about the
only student still awake, except Agatha Grimwold. She was sitting in the front row
taking notes. Taking notes!

When the bell rang, I was almost catatonic. Jackie lifted her head off the desk. She
wiped the table off where she had drooled on it while she was asleep. “Did I miss
anything important?”

“Only one of the greatest lectures of all time,” I yawned.

“Yeah, right.”

At the end of the day, I put all my books in my locker. There was no sense in taking
them with me. After yesterday, I knew Mr. Marshall wouldn’t let us do our homework.   
I‘d just get them when detention was over.

When I walked into his office, Dion was talking quietly to him. They suddenly stopped
when I entered.

“Good,” he looked at his watch. “You’re on time.” He reached into his pocket and
pulled out two toothbrushes. He thrust one towards me. “Here.”

My eyes widened as he handed me a blue one. He gave Dion a yellow one. “What do
you want us to do with these?”

“Take these to the boys’ restroom on the second floor and scour the urinals.”

“What?” I shouted as I jumped from my chair. “You can’t be serious? Can you? They
only do this in the movies, right?”

“I’ll check on you in an hour,” he responded seriously as he walked out of the room.

“I can’t believe this!” I shouted. “I’m not going to clean pissy urinals. He didn’t even
give us any gloves.” Dion just sat and looked at me while I paced around the room
raging like a mad man.

“There has to be some law against this. I‘m going to call the police!” I looked down
and saw a smile begin to form in the corner of Dion’s mouth. “What’s going on here?”

“Gotcha!” Mr. Marshall peeked his head in the door and began to laugh. He walked in
holding his sides. “That was priceless, James.” I looked down at Dion. He was trying
hard not to laugh.

“I guess you think it’s funny?” I asked angrily.

“Actually it was,” laughed Mr. Marshall. “I’ve pulled this on dozens of students. I don’t
think any have gotten as upset as you.”

“And you were in on it?” I asked Dion. “That’s why you didn’t say anything.”

“Don’t get mad at him,” said Mr. Marshall. “He was supposed to play along.” He looked
down at Dion.

“Sorry,” he replied meekly.

“Okay, Gentleman.” He started for the door. “Follow me.”

We trailed behind him as he led us to the gym. The basketball team was playing a
scrimmage on the court. We followed Mr. Marshall into the locker room. He opened a
door and we entered the training room. He led us over to a table with a pile of
wrinkled towels on top.

“The team’s manager is off sick today,” he explained. “The coach needs someone to
fold these towels. I’ll come back in an hour and get you.” He turned and walked out,
leaving me once again alone with Mr. Sunshine.

“Here.” I divided the pile into two stacks. “You fold these, and I’ll do this pile.”  We
began to fold without speaking for about thirty minutes. I never realized that folding
towels could be so tiring. My arms were starting to hurt after I had finished the first
hundred. I was counting them as I folded them.

Suddenly, there was a loud commotion as the team entered the dressing room. They
were sweating profusely and pushing one another. I stopped folding when I saw
Donovan walking towards me.

“Hey Little Dude,” he smiled. “How about a towel?” I almost melted into his eyes when
I looked up. He stood staring down at me as I let my eyes wander over his muscular
features. “Towel, Dude,” he laughed as he snapped his finger in my face.  I handed
him a towel and watched him strut into the changing room. What I would have given
to have been that towel. In about fifteen minutes, it would be drying his naked body.

I looked over and saw Dion studying me. He looked away quickly, but not before our
eyes met. I felt a shiver run through my body. I felt he had noticed my attraction to
Donovan, and I was afraid he knew my secret.

We continued folding the towels, and within ten minutes we had completed the task. I
looked at the clock. It would be another ten minutes before Mr. Marshall came to get
us.  “I’m going to the bathroom,” I informed Dion. I don’t know why I felt the need to
tell him where I was going, but I did.

My timing couldn’t have been any better. When I walked into the changing room,
Donovan was standing naked in front of a bench, toweling himself off. I tried not to
look; but how can a gay boy walk into a room and see the hottest guy in school
standing naked before him and not look? From ten feet away, I looked down and
stared at his limp cock. I understood why all the girls swooned over him.

He was huge! I’d run across some websites where they showed guys with really big
cocks, but I just thought it was the camera angle that made it look so big. There was
no way any angle could make Donovan’s cock look any larger. Though it was soft, it
still hung about six inches as it rested on a pair of very large balls. And he shaves his
pubes!  Donovan Michaels shaves his pubic hairs!

I started blushing profusely when I finally was able to pry my stare away from his cock
and look upward into his grinning face. He had caught me perving over his body! I
hurried into the restroom and leaned against the wall. I was breathing heavily, and my
cock was as hard as steel. If there had been any doubt in my mind about my
sexuality, it had been answered.

I tried to piss, but any guy who has ever tried to take a leak with a hard-on knows it
is impossible. I tried to picture Mrs. Horner lecturing naked before the class to get it to
go down, but images of Donovan standing naked in the middle of the room kept
creeping back. Finally, I just zipped my pants up and left the restroom.

Fortunately, the basketball team had left by the time I walked back into the changing
room. Dion was sitting on one of the benches waiting for me. He immediately noticed
my cock trying to escape its confines inside my pants. I’m not hung like Donovan, but
a hard six inches still makes a very noticeable bulge.  For the second time in five
minutes, my face burned a bright red.

I sat down quickly on the bench about three feet away from Dion. I crossed my legs
and prayed it would go limp before Mr. Marshall returned. I was able to get it to go
down when I pictured Agatha Grimwold stripping off her clothes in history class and
reciting the Gettysburg Address.

We sat quietly looking at the walls of the gym room. It’s funny how much you can
notice when you’re sitting with someone who won’t talk to you and you don’t want to
act as if it is bothering you. I saw several marks that looked like they could have
resulted from towel fights. If they popped them hard enough to scrap the paint off
the wall, I shuddered to think what marks they left on someone’s ass.

Occasionally, I’d look over and notice Dion looking at me. Of course, he’d quickly look
away. Soon I made it a little game. Each time I would look over a little quicker just to
see how fast he could turn his head away. I guess he got tired of playing the game,
because he stopped looking at me.

Mr. Marshall came and and led us back to his office. Again, he congratulated us on our
hard work. He reminded us to be prompt again the next day.

I walked down the hall to retrieve my books from my locker. Dion was walking about
five feet behind me. I turned and made another attempt to talk to him.

“That wasn’t too bad,” I said. He just looked at me and said nothing.

“Mr. Marshall really got me though when he handed us the toothbrushes.” I laughed.
For just a second, it looked like Dion wanted to smile. I swear that the corners of his
mouth started to curl.

“Whatever,” he remarked. He then hurried off down the hall and exited the building.
Three more days. Three days was all that was left to endure his unfriendly attitude.

When I arrived home, my mother was working in her office. She was a freelance writer
and wrote from home. She worked for a magazine doing research on various subjects
and then submitting them for publication. She also did work for several advertising
companies, writing captions for ads. Because of the money she made from her writing,
her alimony payments and the check she got each week from my father for child
support, we lived comfortably.

“Hi, Mom,” I said as I passed her door. She was sitting at her computer writing.

“Hello, James Michael,” she replied without looking up. Good. She had reduced her
anger to two names. By tomorrow, it should be back to James. However, she still
hadn’t given me my punishment. I knew it was just a matter of time.

I went to my room, closed the door and lay down upon my bed. I didn’t want to
forget the image of Donovan naked in the changing room. I lay there and pictured
every inch of his body, and I mean every inch. I wish I had paid more attention to the
definition of his body, so that my fantasy could be more than just his limp six inches.

I unzipped my pants and took out my now very erect cock. I began stroking it,
remembering Donovan’s hard body and soft cock. I closed my eyes and imagined what
it would be like to have him pressed up against my body, kissing me while he ground
his hard cock into mine.

I opened my mouth and he snaked his tongue into mine, licking along the inside. I
thrust my body up into his hard cock. I could feel my cum begin to shoot out onto my
stomach. In my fantasy I could feel Donovan unload his cum onto my body as he
pressed into me. He continued to kiss me. I opened my eyes and looked lovingly into
Dion’s face.

Dion?  What the hell was that all about? I had just experienced one of the best
orgasms of my life fantasizing about Donovan. How did Dion manage to creep in at
the last minute?

Suddenly there was a pounding on the door. “Mom said dinner’s ready,” shouted
Janet. I pulled off my tee shirt and cleaned the cum from my hands and stomach.     
I jumped off the bed and put on an old sweat suit, still puzzled by my fantasy.

Dinner was awkward. Mom still wasn’t saying anything to me. Usually, dinner involved
talking about school and things we were learning in class. Janet told her about passing
a math test, but all my mother said was,  ‘That’s nice, dear.’

After dinner, Janet and I cleaned the table while Mom retired to her office. I washed
and Janet dried. “What happened?”  Janet asked as we were about finished. “Mom’s
not even talking to you. What did you do, get some girl pregnant or something?”

“No I didn’t get a girl pregnant,” I replied angrily. “And besides, you’re too young to
know about things like that.”

“Am not.”

“Are too.”

“Am not.”

“James Michael Hoskins!” My mother shouted from her office. “I want to see you.”

“Uh, oh,” said Janet. “She used your whole name. You’re in for it now.” I turned and
headed slowly to her office. I guess the judge was ready to hand down her sentence.


Chapter 3                                      Return to TMJ