A Different Road

Chapter 2

I awoke the next morning more tired than when I had gone to bed. I tossed and turned most of the night. I couldn’t fall asleep, and I didn’t want to cry anymore, so I just lay looking up at the ceiling.       

I kept wondering what I had done wrong. Where we went wrong. Everything had been great. There was no indication that our friendship was fading. We had been best friends for twelve years. I would have known if things were changing. Maybe they were and I just didn’t want to accept it. I kept thinking back to the last time we’d been together. I guess I should have seen it coming.

* * * * *

“Come here, Sexy,” I said to Brett. He had agreed to spend the night after I pouted all afternoon when he said he didn’t want to. He wanted to go out with friends for the night.  For some odd reason, I had not been invited. Brett and I went everywhere together. I couldn’t figure out who he was seeing that he didn’t want me along.

“Let’s talk for a while, Corey.” He sat on the side of the bed and looked over at me. As usual, I melted into his brown eyes. 

“I had rather do something.” I reached over and began rubbing his cock through his jeans. He stood up and sat at my computer desk.

“Can’t we just talk? Do we always have to have sex?” he sighed. 

“I thought you liked sex.” I couldn’t understand why he wanted to have this conversation. Our sexual encounters had become less frequent over the past year, but I just figured we had reached our sexual peak and we were slowing down. 

“I do, but..” he started to say something but stopped.

“But what?” I asked.

“Nothing, Corey. Forget about it.” He got up and went into the bathroom. He emerged a few minutes later still dressed.

“Hey, let’s go out for a while,” he said excitedly. 

“It’s after midnight,” I reminded him. It was a Friday night. We didn’t have school the next day, but I was tired.

“Cindy is having a party. We’re invited.” He seemed embarrassed to tell me since it was so late.

“Why didn’t you say something earlier?” I was getting mad. He had been here since 8:00, and he was just now mentioning it. “Why are you telling me this now?”

“I didn’t think you’d go.” He was looking around the room. He wouldn’t look at me directly. I could tell something didn’t add up.

“I wasn’t invited, was I?” Now it made sense. He didn’t want to come over tonight because he was planning to go to Cindy’s party without me.

Cindy was a really cute girl. She was also very popular. She was president of our senior class, a member of the National Honor Society and she would probably be salutatorian at our graduation. She was the whole package- pretty, smart and friendly. Everyone loved Cindy.

I had been jealous of her earlier in the year when she kept calling Brett and asking him to help her on several school projects. Our senior class has 180 students, but it seemed like she always wanted him to help her. When I asked him about it, he just laughed and told me I was acting like some fourteen year old girl. When she started dating Josh Mellon, I figured her attraction to Brett was over.

“Of course you’re invited,” he tried to assure me. “You know Cindy likes you.” 

“But why wait until now to say something?” I again asked.

“Because I’m bored, Corey,” he blurted out. 

His comment surprised me. In the twelve years we had known each other, boredom would never have characterized our relationship. We always found something interesting to do. We could watch a spider crawl across a wall and enjoy each other’s company just watching it. Now, he found being with me boring.

“Fine,” I said angrily, getting off the bed and putting on my shoes. “We’ll go to your stupid party.”

“Shit, Corey.” He was also getting upset. “Why do you have to be this way? I just want to go out and have a little fun.”

“I thought we were going to have a little fun here.” I wiggled by eyebrows at him.

“That’s all you ever want to do,” he responded as he put on his jacket.

“Fuck you, Brett!” I spat. As soon as I said it I regretted it. I had never talked to Brett like that before. He had a hurt look on his face.

 “Sorry, Brett,” I apologized. I walked over to him to give him a hug, but he backed away from me.

“It’s alright, Corey,” he replied sadly. “Let’s get going.” He headed to the door and walked out. I stopped by the bathroom and checked myself in the mirror. I put a little gel on my hair to make it stand up. I liked my blonde spiked hair. It looked good with my blue eyes. All the girls in school were constantly trying to get me to go out with them, but I had somehow been able to turn them down. I was happy being with Brett, even if he was mad at me right now.

He was sitting in his car waiting patiently for me. I got in and looked at him.

“You mad?” I asked. I reached over and pushed his hair back.

“No.” He looked at me and smiled. He looked at his palm and pretended to read it. “Rule Number 8. Friends don’t get pissed at friends when they act like assholes.”

We arrived at the party around 12:30. There were about fifteen people still hanging around. Cindy’s parents had a huge home. Her father was one of the most successful defense attorneys in town. It was even rumored that he might run for state attorney general in the next election. 

Everyone was outside by the pool. A few people were swimming, but most were sitting under the dim lights making out. Brett and I walked over to Cindy who was talking to some of the other girls.

“Brett!” she screamed when we walked up. “I didn’t think you were coming.” She took his arm and locked it around hers. 

“Hi, Corey.” She looked at me. “I’m glad you could make it too. Let me get you both something to drink.” She walked over to the bar and returned with two beers. She again locked arms with Brett. He looked at me and seemed embarrassed.

“Come with me, Brett.” She started to lead him away. “I want to show you something.” He looked back at me and shrugged his shoulders.

 They disappeared into the house. I walked over to a lounge chair and sat down and began drinking my beer. After several big gulps, it was gone.

“Here.” I looked up and noticed a girl named Charlie. Her real name is Charlene, but she always threatens to kick anyone’s ass who calls her that. She had been Charlie since about the fifth grade. She handed me a beer and sat down.

“Thanks.” I took the beer and smiled at her. Charlie was a blonde, like me, but she hadn’t had blonde hair since the ninth grade. It was always dyed another color. Tonight, it was red. She was a small girl with freckles. If I had to describe her in one word, I guess it would be pixie. She’s what I would imagine Tinker Bell to look like- without the red hair. 

She was also rumored to be a lesbian. Someone said they had seen her making out in the balcony of the theater with another girl when we were in the ninth grade. She never denied it which kept the rumor alive all these years. It was also around that time she started wearing her hair different colors.

“Where’s Brett?” she asked. She stumbled when she handed me the beer, so I figured she was probably on her way to being drunk.

“Inside with Cindy,” I responded innocently.

“Oh, really?” she said. “So, she was right.” I looked over at her curiously.

“What is that supposed to mean?” I asked her angrily. She seemed like she was holding something from me.

“Honey, if you don’t know, I’m not going to be the one to tell you,” she replied sarcastically.

We sat quietly for several minutes. I was wondering what she meant by her statement. After several minutes, Charlie got up and went into the house. She came out several minutes later, walked over to the bar and got two beers. She approached and handed me another one.

“Here, Corey,” she said quietly. “You may need this.” She was really starting to get on my nerves. We had been friends for a long time, so I knew Charlie tended to be a bit strange. I was one of the few students who wasn’t afraid to talk to her. Most were worried they would be branded gay if they were seen with her, especially girls. She had few friends, and she seemed to like it that way.

“Would you tell me what’s going on?” I was getting irritated. She just looked at me and smiled.

“Nope,” she replied. “I make it a habit not to get into other people’s shit.”

“What’s that mean?” I asked angrily.

“Listen, Corey.” Her expression suddenly became sullen. “I like you. I don’t want to see you get hurt. Protect your heart.” She gave me a kiss on my cheek, got up and walked away. I sat wondering what the hell she was talking about.

I looked at my watch. It was already 1:30, and I hadn’t seen Brett since we arrived. Come to think of it, I hadn’t seen Cindy either. I got up to go find them when they emerged from the kitchen talking softly. Brett had his arm around her back. He removed it when he saw me walking towards them.

“Hey, Buddy,” he smiled. “You ready to go?”

“Yeah, I guess.” I wasn’t really. I hadn’t had a chance to talk to anyone other than Charlie. Now he was trying to rush me away.

“Bye, Cindy.” He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. At first it surprised me, but then I figured he was just being polite. I walked over and gave her a quick peck also.

“I’ll call you tomorrow,” he told her as we walked away. I looked over and eyed him curiously.

When we got back to my house, he went quickly into the bathroom and closed the door. I then heard him turn on the shower. I stripped off my clothes, so that I could join him. When I went to the door, he had locked it. I went to my dresser and put on some clean boxers and crept into bed. He came out a few minutes later. He put on the underwear and shorts that he had worn to the party. I found it strange that he had decided to keep his shorts on.

He got into bed and lay on the other side away from me. I have a queen size bed, so there is plenty of room. In the past, we usually slept in the middle of the bed. I couldn’t figure out why he had created such a distance between us.

I scooted over, put my arm around him and began rubbing his stomach. He pushed my arm away. 

“Look, Corey,” he said softly. “I’m really tired. It’s late and I want to sleep. Okay?”

“Yeah, sure,” I replied sadly. I moved back to the other end of the bed and turned away from him. It took me a long time to fall asleep. I was so used to having Brett’s body pressed up against mine when we slept together. When I awoke in the morning, he had already left. 

* * * * *

“Corey! Get out of bed. You’ll be late for school.” I heard my mother call down the hall. I wasn’t asleep. I had hardly slept at all. I got up around 5:00 and read some more of my literature assignment.

I quickly took a shower, fixed my hair and brushed my teeth. I looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were still red and swollen from crying most of the night. I took the washcloth and ran it under the cold water for a minute, then applied it to my face. I was hoping it would remove some of the puffiness.

“Corey!” My father was calling my name this time. He sounded angry.

“I’m coming!” I opened the door and hollered. I went into my room, got my book bag and headed to the kitchen. My mother was at the stove, and my father was sitting at the table reading the paper. They both looked at me when I entered the room. 

“Sit down, Corey,” My mother ordered tersely. 

We really don’t get along very well. She is always too preoccupied with her work to really care what is going on around the house. She is a real estate agent, and she is either in the office or showing clients new homes. In addition to that, she is active in the church and various social organizations in town. She loves to attend parties, and she is constantly dragging my father to one.

I get along better with my dad. He is pretty cool guy for someone over thirty. He had played football in college, and he still looks good. Many people think we are brothers instead of father and son. All my friends are crazy about him. A few girls have even flirted with him. He just laughs and enjoys the attention.

He is an architect and owns his own business. He has designed most of the new buildings in our city. He has an office downtown, but he also has an office here at home. He enjoys working here because he doesn’t have to deal with people interrupting him constantly. I enjoy it because he often takes breaks, and we had go jogging or swimming in the backyard pool. Sometimes, he seems more like a big brother than a dad.

“I want you to go see Reverend Baker after school,” she announced suddenly. I looked over and saw her staring angrily down at me.

“Why?” I asked angrily. “Why do I have to go see him?” I couldn’t understand why she had suddenly demanded this.

“Jessica,” my father interrupted sharply. “I don’t think this is the right way to deal with this.” 

“Yes, it is, Thomas.” She gave him an angry look as well. “What will our friends say?”

“What will your friends say about what, Mother?” I was pissed. I knew now what she was talking about. I had told her I was in love with Brett. Now she was worried about her public image. What would her cackling friends say about the great Jessica Singer having a gay son?

“It just isn’t right,” she remarked as she put a plate in front of me.

“What isn’t right?” I pushed the plate away. I didn’t want to eat anything she had fixed.

“Corey,” my father spoke softly. “We should talk about this later when everyone’s not so upset.” 

“Will there ever be a good time?” I looked at him and saw sadness in his face. I looked back angrily at my mother.

“I will not go see Reverend Baker.” I insisted as I got up from the table and grabbed my backpack.

“Yes, you will!” she replied adamantly. “I will not have a son who is one of them.”

“One of them!” I screamed. “I’m gay, Mother. Gay. I am not one of them!” I opened the door and began to walk out. Suddenly, I felt my father’s hand on my shoulder.

“Corey. Please wait.” I turned and looked at him with tears once again running down my cheeks.

“I’m sorry, Dad,” I cried. “I’m sorry I disappointed you.” I walked out, got in my car and headed off to school. I couldn’t see the road for the tears streaming down my face. I drove a few blocks, pulled into a parking lot and turned off the engine. I was sobbing uncontrollably.

First, I lost Brett. Now I had lost my parents. It didn’t matter that my mother hated me. But I felt deep regret that I hadn’t become the man that my father had always wanted me to be. 

“Oh, God!” I screamed as I looked into the sky. “Why are you doing this to me!” My suffering was unbearable. I didn’t think that I could go on anymore. I got out of the car, crawled into the backseat, and then I curled up into a ball. I couldn’t stop crying. In one day my life had come crashing down. I just wanted the pain to go away. 

* * * * *

“Okay, Dickhead,” Brett laughed as we sat on the roof of his house. “Remember, hit the trampoline in the center, and then dunk the ball into the basket.”

It must have been the dumbest idea he had ever come up with. And here I was holding the basketball in my hands, standing on the roof getting ready to jump onto a trampoline we had put in the driveway just below the basketball rim.

We were fourteen, and Brett had bet me that I couldn’t dunk the ball into the basket from the trampoline. To make the bet more interesting, he wanted me to do it by jumping off the roof. 

“Better get your twenty dollars out,” I told him. “This is going to be a piece of cake.”

I counted to three and leapt onto the trampoline. I had planned to go into the air, dunk the ball into the basket and then collect my twenty dollars. Who was it that said something about the best made plans of mice and men?

When I hit the trampoline, I ricocheted off and headed straight toward the basketball rim on the garage. My face hit it instead, and I plummeted to the ground. I don’t remember anything else until I woke up later in the hospital.

I had knocked out three teeth, received a mild concussion and had a black eye the size of Kansas. When I came to, I was looking into the worried face of my father. My mother was beside him, but she seemed more irritated than concerned. Behind them stood Brett looking sadly at me. 

“Where’s my twenty bucks?” I asked weakly as I held out my hand to him.

“You didn’t make the shot.” His sad look turned to a grinning smile.

* * * * *

That was Brett. He used to be my best friend. Now, I’m lying in the back of my car with my world completely shattered. I sat up and wiped my eyes dry. I was already late to school. Normally, Brett would be calling me on my cell phone to see why I hadn’t shown up in the cafeteria. This morning the phone didn’t ring. Not once.