“It is your duty, members of the jury, to decide if the White Star Line was negligent in the death of Hans Jensen.” Jason stood before the jury box staring intently into the eyes of the students seated there.
He looked professional in his light brown, three-piece suit. His hair was meticulous, light brown to match his suit. It had a tinge of blond from sitting around the pool all summer. He parted it in the middle, keeping it pushed back behind his ears. Occasionally, a strand would slip out and fall across his face. I’d watch as he would unconsciously toss his head back and gently set it back into place.
He paced confidently in front of the jury, arguing his case. “I submit to you that the White Star Lines is not negligent for his death,” he stated. “It was Mr. Jensen’s own negligence.”
I watched his eyes flash as he spoke, determined to win points with the judges. He had completely fallen into the role. He was no longer a student participating in a mock trial. He had become a lawyer, arguing a case as if he had been transported back to the night of April 15, 1912.
His performance was believable. He had the jury convinced that Mr. Jensen had indeed caused his own death aboard the Titanic. I could look in their eyes and see he was gaining more points than his opponent. I looked over at the judges as they smiled appreciatively.
“Mr. Jackson, the plaintiff’s attorney,” said Jason as he looked out into the area where I was sitting as a spectator and smiled. “He will have you believe that the White Star Line is at fault. But if you look at the facts, you can only come to one conclusion- Mr. Jensen died by his own hand.”
I stared into his handsome face. I had for the moment forgotten that we were in a courtroom filled with spectators. I was in love with Jason. I had no idea that when we began this school project, my feelings for my best friend would spiral out of control. As if reading my mind, he smiled again and turned back to the jury box to finish his closing statement.
Little did I know at the time, but that would be the last smile I would see on Jason’s face for me. Within the next twenty-four hours, my life would be turned upside down.
* * * * * *
“Settle down, Class!” Mrs. Mason shouted above the loud chatter of students. “I have a special announcement.”
Mrs. Mason is my favorite teacher. She teaches a Practical Law class. I was considering a career in law, so her class would let me know if I were truly interested. She also teaches American History. It is my third year taking one of her classes.
I am now a junior. I was in her history classes for the past two years. She has a way of making it interesting. She doesn’t just lecture and have us take notes. She likes to make her classes student interactive. It usually means more work for us, but it was worth it.
Everyone quieted down as she stood patiently before us. Knowing Mrs. Mason, she was probably going to tell us about a research project or some writing assignment.
“The local university approached me last week,” she informed us. “They want me to form a mock trial team for competition.” The room became abuzz with excitement.
“This is a great opportunity for some of you to get experience in actively participating in a trial situation,” she explained. “Two months from now you will compete against rival schools in a mock trial before real judges. You will also have actual trial lawyers to help you prepare. Is anyone interested?”
Almost every student raised their hand.
“Before you decide to commit, I must warn you.” A few students began to groan. We knew that there was always a catch to anything Mrs. Mason did. “It will take long hours of preparation,” she explained. “You will have to practice after school and on Saturdays.”
“Saturdays?” asked Alvin Lawrence. “Isn’t that against the law or something?” Everyone broke out in laughter.
“Not if you volunteer,” she replied smilingly. “Give it some thought, and I’ll find out more information. I do know it won’t be easy.”
Just then the bell rang, ending the school day. Jason grabbed my arm as we walked out of class. “Tay!” he said excitedly. “We got to do this man. It sounds like fun.”
“I don’t know Jason,” I replied with a frown. “It sounds like it could be a lot of work.”
“What else we got to do?” he asked. “Winter is coming up, so we won’t be outside. It will give us something to do. Please?”
He looked at me and made a puppy-dog face. I was breaking. Jason knew he could get me to do almost anything with that look. When I didn’t answer, he started making a whimpering sound. When I broke out in laughter, he smiled. He knew he had won.
Jay and Tay. That is us. We have been friends since I could remember. My mother says we met in a day care program when we were three. I don’t remember. All I know is he has always been in my life.
We have been in almost every class since we entered the first grade. Our mothers always go to school together to register us for classes, and they insist we be placed together. I guess they know what they are doing. We compete against each other for grades. We are both straight ‘A’ students because we can’t stand the ribbing we get from the other if we make a lesser grade.
One time in the seventh grade, I made a ‘C’ in a literature class because I failed a test. I had suffered from a bad case of the flu, and I didn’t feel like studying. After five years, he still reminds me that he is the smarter of the two of us.
“What about it Tay?” he asked hopefully. “Let’s do this. It sounds like fun.”
“Let me hear how much work is involved,” I respond. “Then I’ll decide.”
“What are you talking about?” Stephanie Shays, Jason’s girlfriend, walked up, took his arm and wrapped it around hers. She is a very pretty girl with red hair and green eyes. She also has freckles, a result of her Irish background.
Jason and Stephanie have been dating since the eighth grade. He confided in me last year that they ‘did it.’ He has never said anything more, but I can tell by the way they act around each other that they are seriously involved. Her father is a police lieutenant. If he suspected that Jason is having sex with his daughter, he’d probably shoot his balls off.
I am also extremely jealous of Stephanie. I began to realize in the seventh grade that my feelings for Jason were changing from friendship to something more. It wasn’t until later that year, when guys started calling other guys fags and queers, that I was able to categorize my feelings. However, I have never said anything to him. When he met Stephanie the following year, I knew then that I’d never have a chance.
So I do what every good gay boy does in high school- I found a girl friend and started dating as well. Cynthia and I have known each other since the third grade, but we didn’t start ‘going steady’ until the eighth grade; just months after Jason started dating Stephanie.
Cynthia is the perfect girlfriend. She is a preacher’s daughter. He has instilled in her the wrath of God if she loses her virginity before she marries. As a result, I have never had to worry about her wanting to have sex with me. We hold hands and occasionally give each other a kiss on the cheek, but never anything more. She is the perfect cover and she never questions why I’m not more forceful like other boys.
“Why are you so excited?” Stephanie asked Jason.
“Mrs. Mason is forming a mock trial team!” he exclaimed excitedly. “Tay and I are going out for it.” He looked over at me and smiled. I was beginning to think that it would be fun to spend the next few months preparing with him until Stephanie spoke.
“That sounds like fun,” she said. “Can I be in it too?”
“I don’t know why not,” he replied. “Most of the work will be done after school and on Saturdays.” All of a sudden, it didn’t sound like fun anymore.
Jason and Stephanie headed down the hallway towards her locker. I lowered my head and walked off to mine. I had to retrieve a few books that I would need for homework. I knew Jason would be over later to study with me. We’d been studying together for years. It is one of the things he always reserves for me.
“Hi.” Cynthia walked up beside me and smiled. She took one look at my face and knew that something was bothering me. “You all right?”
“Yeah,” I responded. “Just a lot on my mind is all.”
“Want to talk about it?” she asked concernedly. I looked over at her and became overwhelmed with guilt. Cynthia is such a warm and caring person. I know she is in love with me, and I am just using her so that other students won’t think I am gay.
Anyone in high school who isn’t dating is considered gay or a lesbian. If you aren’t swapping spit in the hallways with someone of the opposite sex, rumors are soon to follow. I am even guilty of it myself. I often wonder if a guy is gay when I notice that he isn’t dating someone.
Coming out at school is also not an option. I would lose all my friends, including Jason. I have heard of few of the queer jokes he makes at the lunch table. I will laugh because most of his jokes are done for my entertainment. I am his biggest admirer, and he knows it.
There have been several times over the past few years that I wanted to confide in him. I really need someone to talk to about the feelings I have developed. Sometimes they overwhelm me. But how do you tell your best friend you are gay, and you like him? He is already disappointed that I haven’t done it yet with Cynthia. How would he feel if he finds out that I am more interested in doing it with him than my girlfriend?
“You seem really down today.” She took my arm and walked beside me to my locker. “What happened?”
“Nothing,” I said as I removed her hand from my arm and quickly walked away. I felt like a piece of shit and I didn’t want her to see me break down. Lately, it was something I was doing a lot in the solitude of my bedroom.
I went home and curled up on my bed and tossed the cover over me. I was tired of struggling with the conflicts in my life. I was tired of making a charade of having a girlfriend. Every time Cynthia put her hands on me, I was filled with tremendous guilt. Lately, she was trying to get me to kiss her on the mouth. She said she couldn’t understand why I still kissed her on the cheek.
I was tired of pretending that Jason was just a friend, when I knew I cared more for him than that. Every time he looked at me with that dimpled smile and shining brown eyes, I wanted to take him in my arms and kiss him.
I was tired of telling my parents everything was all right when they would ask me why I was being so moody. We used to have a great relationship. Now we fought all the time about trivial matters. My father has taken me hiking several times. I know he wants me to open up to him about what is bothering me; but how do you tell your father you’re gay?
He’s one of the greatest guys I know. I’ve admired him all my life. He’s not one of those dads who work long hours and is never there for his kid. He’s more like a friend than a father. I know he’d love me no matter what, but I just don’t think I could deal with the disappointment he’d feel if I told him.
So I lay in bed staring at the ceiling, wondering what to do. It would be so easy to just go on as I have, but I really don’t want to live like this anymore. I can hear thunder approaching, and I know a storm is approaching. I’m just not sure I have the strength to face it.
I was startled out of my desperate thoughts by a loud banging on my bedroom door.
“Unlock your door, Jackass.” Jason continued pounding on the door. I let out a sigh as I got off the bed and unlocked it. He came walking in eating cookies my mother had made. He was also trying to balance two glasses of milk in his hands.
“Here.” He handed me a glass and two cookies. I took them and placed them on my desk, and then I returned to lie on my bed.
“It’s dark in here.” He walked over and opened the drapes. “What you been doing, jacking off?” He eyed me suspiciously as he continued to nibble on his cookie.
“You all right, Taylor?” he asked worriedly. “You haven’t seemed yourself lately.”
“Maybe I’m not,” I responded sadly.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked.
“Forget it,” I said. “Everything’s cool.” He looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.
“Sooooooo,” he grinned. “About that mock trial thing. You gonna do it?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I want to hear more before I decide.”
“You’ll do it,” he said smugly. “I’ll talk you into it.”
He got off the bed and turned my television on Sports Center. He returned and lay back down beside me. He watched television while I watched him. I let my eyes roam over his body, taking in the handsome figure beside me.
He isn’t what you would call a model or anything like that. He is just Jason. He has grown some lately. He stands about 5’11” and probably weighs about 160. I watched as his chest rose and fell as he breathed. I studied his face. He has a little stubble on his face, the beginnings of a beard. The hair above his lip is still fine, though. I noticed his lips, full and red. I had to force myself not to lean over and kiss him.
Why can’t I think about Cynthia this way? Why can’t I look at her and want to kiss her? Why does it have to be my best friend I want?
Life just didn’t seem fair.
I rolled over on my side as I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I didn’t want Jason to see me cry. I squeezed my eyes tightly to hold back the tears. I lay there several minutes trying to compose myself.
Suddenly, he started elbowing me in the back. “What did you do, fall asleep?”
“Yeah, I’m kinda tired,” I replied. “How about I just see you tomorrow at school?”
“Damn, Tay.” He sounded upset. “If you don’t want me here, just say so.” I felt him get off the bed. “See you tomorrow.” He opened the door and slammed it shut.
I buried my head in my pillow and cried myself to sleep.
* * * * * *
“Remember I told you about the mock trial yesterday?” The class became quiet as Mrs. Mason spoke. “Here is a brief description of the case.” She gave us a handout to look over.
“It deals with the Titanic,” she explained. “I’m sure most of you have seen the movie that was out a few years ago.”
We took the rest of the period reading over the information of the case. I had to admit, it sounded interesting. A woman was suing the owners of the Titanic for the death of her finance, Hans Jensen. She was suing for negligence. It seemed like an open and shut case.
But then as I read further, it appeared that Mr. Jensen had given up his seat on a lifeboat that later was rescued. Had he remained aboard it, he might have survived. Therefore, were the owners really negligent, or had Jensen contributed to his own death?
Jason kept looking over at me and grinning as he read. I could tell he was really excited about working on the project. He also knew me well enough to know that I was also finding it interesting.
With five minutes remaining, Mrs. Mason asked who was interested in participating. Jason immediately threw up his hand. He looked over at me and gave me his best puppy dog look. I turned my head away. I started giggling when I heard him start whining. He reached over and held my hand up.
“Taylor, do you want to do this?” Mrs. Mason laughed, “Or is your cohort in crime forcing you into it.”
“No, Ma’am,” I replied. “I’ll do it.”
“Yes!” I heard Jason shout. I looked over and he was grinning widely.
“Good,” she exclaimed. “Anyone wanting a role, please remain after class.”
“Mrs. Mason.” Jason raised his hand. “Do you have to be in this class to participate? Stephanie wants to do it too.”
“I don’t see why not,” she responded thoughtfully. “Most of the work will be done outside of class.”
I felt my heart sink. The only reason I had volunteered to do this was because I thought Jason wanted me to work with him. Now it seems, he wanted Stephanie instead.
When the bell rang, Jason disappeared quickly from the room. I remained in my seat, along with about a dozen other students. We were discussing the case when Jason came walking back into the room holding Stephanie’s hand. Behind them was Cynthia. She walked over and took a seat beside me.
“Hi, Taylor.” She was smiling at me. Again, depression swept over me. Cynthia is very pretty. She has soft brown hair and big blue eyes. Her hair flows down the side of her face, resting on her shoulders. She has an unblemished complexion. She is one of those girls who need little makeup because her features are already natural.
Any other boy would have been happy to have a girl like Cynthia by their side. She has been devoted to me for years. Other guys go behind my back to ask her out, but she always politely tells them she can’t. Last year, when I even suggested that she date a few other boys, she started crying because she thought I was trying to break up with her.
“Jason told me and Stephanie about the mock trial,” she said. “You don’t mind if I listen to what Mrs. Mason says, do you?” She scooted her desk over and sat closer to me.
“No,” I lied. “I’d love for you to be in it.” At that moment, I wasn’t sure I still wanted to participate. I had only agreed to volunteer because I thought Jason and I could spend time together alone. For the past year it seemed like either Stephanie or Cynthia was always around.
We used to spend a lot of time together. We had practically lived with one another since we were kids. Either I was at his house, or he was at mine. On weekends we usually spent the night with each other. Both of us had two twin beds in our rooms, so we never slept together.
One night when we were thirteen, I spent the night at Jason’s house. About an hour after falling asleep, I awoke and saw Jason with the covers pulled down. He was jacking off.
He had his eyes closed, so he didn’t know I was watching. When I sat up in bed, he looked over and quickly covered himself.
“What are you doing?” I giggled. “Were you playing with yourself?”
“No!” he insisted, but he knew he had been busted. “All right, like you don’t do it.”
“Not when you’re around,” I laughed.
“Well, I do when you are.” He pulled back the covers to show me his erect cock. It was about five inches long, but in the darkness I could tell it was very thick. He reached down and continued to stroke himself while he looked over at me and grinned.
“I feel stupid doing this by myself,” he laughed. “Take yours out.”
Reluctantly, I kicked back the covers and pulled my pajamas down to my knees. My cock sprang up to its six inch length. I’m glad the room was fairly dark, or Jason would have seen me blushing with embarrassment. Even though we had been best friends for a few years, it was the first time we had ever seen each other’s hard dick.
“Come over here and sit on my bed,” he whispered. “We’ll jack off and see who can cum first.”
I hesitated for a minute before getting up and sitting down naked beside him. There was enough light for both of us to get a good look at the other. I watched as he continued to slowly stroke himself.
“This is so cool,” he said excitedly. “I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now.”
It had never occurred to me about jacking off with Jason or any other boy at that time. I had only been doing it for about six months, and I thought it was something you should do by yourself. I usually jacked off at night when I took my shower for fear of my mother or father walking in on me and catching me if I did it in bed.
“Okay,” he said excitedly. “Start doing it. The first one to cum wins. The loser has to pay the winner a dollar.”
It really wasn’t fair. I knew he would win because he already had a head start on me. I didn’t know how long he had been jacking off before I woke up and saw him. However, I was too excited to argue. It was exciting to watch Jason jerk off.
Before I even got a good rhythm going, Jason moaned and sprayed a few shots on his stomach. It wasn’t much, but he had beaten me, nonetheless. He grinned as he watched me continue to quickly jack off. I thought about stopping since he had already won, but I could tell he wanted to watch me cum. After about two minutes, I closed my eyes, threw back my head and came on my stomach.
“Cool.” Jason was grinning in my face when I opened my eyes. “You owe me a dollar.”
We continued to have jack off contests for the next two years. They ceased when he met Stephanie and started dating her. He said it didn’t feel right to do it anymore. We never paid each other any money; but when we stopped, he owed me $37.
Until that night, I had never thought about my sexuality. When I masturbated, it was just to enjoy the feelings I would receive when I did it. However, after seeing Jason lying naked in bed, stroking his cock and shooting his cum onto his stomach, my orgasms became more intense.
Then last year, my fantasies began to change. I started to imagine myself sucking on Jason’s cock and feeling him cum in my mouth. Several times I even soaped my finger and shoved it in my ass, pretending Jason was fucking me. I would always end up breathless in the shower, gasping for air.
Jason had outgrown our game, but I had not. As he began to pull away from me, I wanted him more and more. It hurt me to know that I would never have what I needed the most- his love.