I awoke Saturday morning more tired than when I had gone to bed. I was so nervous my body literally felt tingly all night. I was even awake at 1:30 when Billy quietly pulled down the covers and jacked off. Normally, I roll over with my back to him, but this time I faced him with my eyes slightly opened so he would think I was asleep. Even though I had seen his flaccid dick a hundred times, I was surprised to see how large it became when hard. He was no longer ‘Little’ Billy. After a minute, I rolled over. I laughed to myself when he stopped for several minutes just to make sure I was asleep before starting again.
I crawled out of bed before six. It seemed senseless to lie awake and do nothing but toss and turn. After putting on a pair of shorts, I went downstairs. No one was up, so I went out on the deck and stood beside the pool. The water looked inviting, so I sat down on the edge and slipped into the warm water.
I climbed on a plastic raft that Josh played on when he was swimming. I lay back and closed my eyes. At first, my thoughts were about the upcoming meet, but soon I began to think about Austin.
I was puzzled why his behavior last night had hurt me. “We travel in different worlds. I don’t fit in.” What did he mean by that? What kind of a world does he think I live in? Why wouldn’t he fit in?
I thought back over my life and realized he was probably right. All my friends were athletes. Kenny had been my best friend for most of my life and most of his friends had become my friends. Outside of the track team, I seldom associated now with anyone else. I tried to think of someone who I could call a close friend who wasn’t active in some type of sport, and I couldn’t.
I hated to admit it, but I guess over the years I had become a sports snob. I was friendly to people who didn’t participate in sports, but I never attempted to make them my friend. For one thing, Kenny would probably have kidded me about it. I could hear him now asking me, “Why do you want to hang with that loser?”
However, Austin puzzled me even more. He was athletic, probably more so than anyone I knew. If he hadn’t opened up to me and told me of his participation in judo, I would have just thought of him as some nerdy school reporter.
He had more ribbons and trophies in the case at his home than I had track medals, but yet he kept them hidden away from everyone. I wanted people to know my achievements. I stood proudly with my ribbon around my neck as people took pictures of me.
Yet, he didn’t seem at all interested in displaying his talents like most athletes. Instead, he wrote about the achievements of others; yet his story was more interesting. What I did was nothing compared to his accomplishments. I could picture Austin as a young boy training hard to be successful so he could make his dead father proud of him. That was the story that should appear in the newspaper.
My story wasn’t even exciting. I realized I was a pampered athlete who had cruised through life because I had been born with natural running abilities and good looks. Everything came easily to me.
Even when I was outed by Kenny at school, everyone rallied around me and gave me their support. I didn’t even have to fight my way back. Sure, I had gone through some life-changing challenges; but in the end, things seemed to fall into a natural order and my life quickly returned to normal.
Shouldn’t there have been a price to pay? Isn’t a real winner determined by the hardships he or she has to overcome to get to the top? Austin was the real winner. Suddenly, I felt embarrassed thinking how he had followed me around all week while I strutted around acting as if the world were mine. I would pose for him wondering if the light was hitting my body just right to accentuate the muscles in my legs. I realize now how vain I had become.
I fell off the rubber raft and swam several lengths of the pool in an attempt to clear my mind from the depressing thoughts I was having. In a few hours, I needed to be at the top of my game. In a few hours, the stands would be full of spectators waiting to see if I could outrun my opponents. On Monday, the paper would proclaim my accomplishments.
Then why do I feel so fucking bad right now?
Mom came to the patio door and called me in around 7:30. She had prepared a large breakfast, knowing I wouldn’t eat it. “You need your strength,” she insisted.
“Mom,” I whined as I looked at the plate filled with bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast. Just the sight of it made me gag. “If I eat this, I’ll hurl all over the track.” I pushed the plate away as I grabbed my coffee mug and took a few sips.
She sighed as she took the plate and put it in the microwave. “I’ll keep it warm for Billy when he gets up.” She then left the kitchen while I thought about the day’s race. I don’t think I had ever been so nervous.
However, it didn’t feel like the edginess I got in the past. This was a new sensation. For the first time in my life, I didn’t worry if I was good enough to win. Instead, I worried if I was worthy enough to win.
I left the house at 8:30. Mom and Dad hugged me and told me to do my best. They assured me they would be at the meet. They would also be bringing Billy, Josh and Brenda. Mom had been telling customers all week about me competing, so I was sure there would be a good turnout.
As I jumped in my truck and drove to Austin’s house, my stomach felt like it was turning somersaults inside my body. After pulling into his driveway, I sat several minutes before going up to his porch.
His mother answered the door with a cheerful smile. “Zac!” She sang out as she hugged me tightly. “Austin is in his room,” she said as she pointed down the hall.
I knocked softly and entered when I heard his voice behind the door. He was sitting on his bed examining his camera. He didn’t seem upset with me as he had the night before. He pointed the camera at me, expecting me to pose for him; but I walked over and sat down beside him.
He looked over at me worriedly. “Are you all right?”
“No,” I replied as I tried to force a smile. “I told you how I get before a big meet.”
He started laughing. “I can’t imagine anything scaring ‘The’ Zac Barnes, the athlete’s athlete.”
“Is that how you really see me?” I asked despondently. I think it hurt that after all we had shared the past week, I was still no more than just a subject in a newspaper article to him.
He shrugged his shoulders. “Why are you being so gloomy? Shouldn’t you be like full of energy or something?”
“I guess,” I said with another forced smile. I stood up and extended my hand to help him up. “We’d better get out of here.” I gripped his hand tightly and continued to hold it after he stood up. He looked down and pulled his hand from mine.
After some encouraging words from his mother, we drove in silence to school. A red and black tour bus was waiting for us outside the front of the gym. I parked my car and got out. Austin followed behind me as I walked up to my friends and started talking. Austin took out his camera and took a couple of pictures of me playfully bantering with my teammates.
When we got on the bus, I took a window seat toward the back. It was customary for the girls to sit in the front section and the boys in the back. Tommy started to sit down beside me, but I told him I was holding the seat for someone else. When Austin boarded, I motioned for him to sit beside me.
“Hey,” he said as he sat down and put his camera inside his bag. “I got some great shots.” Just then, the bus pulled away from the school. I lay my head back and closed my eyes. I opened them when I heard his camera click.
“What are you doing?” I asked. He smiled and put his camera away.
“I want some pre-meet shots,” he answered. “I’m going to send the paper several pictures. I’m not sure which ones they’ll choose to use, if they use any.”
I turned my head toward him and asked softly, “What are you writing about me?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Just some stuff.”
I sat up and looked intently at him. “No, Austin,” I asked, “What is really interesting about me that would possibly make the newspaper?”
He shrugged his shoulders again. “You’re a fast runner?”
I started laughing as I looked around the bus. “Everyone on this bus is a fast runner. What makes me so special?”
Our eyes met as he replied softly, “You are special.”
We stared at each other for a few seconds before I lay my head back. “I’m just another guy who runs. Nothing special about that.”
He sat up and looked worriedly at me. “Should you be like this before a meet?”
I looked at him and chuckled. “Why? Are you going to include it in the article?”
“No,” he replied quickly. “The article is written. I just mean should you be this down right before a race?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s how I get. I’ll get over it.” We rode in silence for the rest of the half hour trip. I could see out of the corner of my eye that he would keep looking over at me.
When the bus pulled up before the stadium and came to a stop, Austin started to get up. I grabbed his arm and pulled him back into his seat. “Wait,” I said. “What are you doing after the meet?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. Go home and finish the article I guess.”
“But you said it was already written.”
“I still have to add how you do today.”
“What will that take?” I asked. “A few minutes.”
“Probably,” he responded.
“You want to do something tonight?” He gave me a puzzled look.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe we can go to a movie or something.”
“Why?” He looked at the guys departing the bus. “Wouldn’t you rather be with your friends?”
“You’re a friend, too.” I said. A surprised look appeared on his face. “So, what do you say?”
He hesitated a moment before answering. “Yeah, sure. I guess. I’ll have to call Mom.”
We stood and headed for the exit. I patted him on his back. “I’ll see you after the meet then.” I followed my teammates through the gym door. Because Austin wasn’t a team member, he would have to wait on the track until we came out for the events. Coach Templeton had given him a pass to get onto the field to take pictures of me. He waved goodbye before leaving.
The dressing room was filled with boys from seven different schools. We staked out a corner away from most of the entrances. That way we could talk without runners from other schools hearing us.
As I was changing into my tracksuit, Marty approached and sat down on the bench next to me. “How are you feeling?”
“Okay, I guess,” I stated nonchalantly.
“Did you look at the roster yet?” I shook my head. “You may be competing against George Stiverson in the finals.”
“Shit,” I hissed. George had been my nemesis last year. He had beaten me in almost every race. In fact, he won the state meet last year with a time of 10.42 seconds. I had come close to it during practices the past week, but I knew he was going to be a strong opponent.
“Just remember everything we’ve practiced,” he said as he patted my leg. “Focus.”
“Yeah,” I repeated, “Focus.” Coach hollered out that he wanted us out onto the track in five minutes. He said they were calling for those participating in the long jump.
We went out of the locker room and congregated in a large outside room. The concession area was to our left. Again, we divided by school. I walked around and talked to a few guys I had run against over the past three years.
I was surprised when I heard the word, gay, mentioned a couple of times as I walked by a group of runners. No one said anything to me directly, but it was obvious that they had somehow found out what happened a few weeks ago. I guess because my teammates had accepted me being gay, I didn’t consider that others might not as readily accept it. A couple of guys even grabbed their crotches and winked at me.
“Don’t let it upset you,” said Rory as he stood beside me and witnessed their immature behavior. “They’re just trying to psych you out.” He pointed to a longhaired kid whom I would soon be competing against. “Struthers has a gay brother, so I know he doesn’t care if you are. He’s just trying to get into your head, that’s all.”
I turned and faced Rory. “I stopped worrying a few weeks ago what people thought about me.” I gave him a hearty pat on the back. “It’s my friends I care about.”
A few of us walked across the field to watch the long jump and high jump preliminaries. Since I wouldn’t be called for about an hour for my events, I had time to wander around and observe how my teammates were doing.
Paul Taylor did well in the high jump. He was in first place after the preliminaries. Jordan Mitchell was in second place in the long jump. The girls seemed to be doing well also.
“How’s it going?” I turned when I heard Austin’s familiar voice.
“Hey,” I said as I turned and looked directly into his camera. “Would you stop that!” I laughed.
“I’m just trying to get some candid shots,” he said with a smile.
“Candid this!” I said as I flipped him off. He laughed and held his camera to his side.
“This is kind of cool,” he remarked as he looked around at all the people on the field. “This is the first time I’ve actually been able to walk around with the athletes like this.”
“Don’t be too impressed,” I said. “We’re just a bunch of sweaty jocks who like to run our asses off.” Just then, the announcer on the PA system called for the runners who were competing in the 100m dash.
“I guess that’s me,” I said nervously.
Austin stepped forward and patted me on my back. “Break a leg.”
“What!” I shouted. “Do you want something bad to happen to me?” He started laughing.
“No, Zac,” he giggled. “That’s what you tell an actor when he’s going on stage. It means good luck, or something like that.”
“Oh, okay,” I said as I started to trot away. “I guess I’ll break a leg then.”
I had to wait about fifteen minutes until we took our positions. I was in the second preliminary race. Tommy Zimmers ran in the first and he managed to place second. Unfortunately, George Stiverson came in first with an impressive time.
I sat on the sidelines and did some stretching and breathing exercises while I waited to compete. I looked into the stands to see if I could spot my family. As usual, they were sitting in the second row near the finish line. Mrs. Jarvis was sitting next to my father. Jimmy was next to my mother. I was surprised to see Irene sitting between Josh and Brenda. She told me she would attend a meet, but I didn’t think she would actually show up. Billy, Lonnie, Valerie and Dwayne were sitting about three rows behind them. They were sitting closely together under an umbrella.
I scanned the bleachers looking for Kenny, but I knew he wouldn’t be there. The baseball team had their first game a few hours earlier. The game would probably be in the eighth or ninth inning by now.
I squinted my eyes and focused on a person sitting by himself toward the top of the bleachers. He had a hat pulled down over his eyes trying to shield the sun from his face. When he lifted his head, I could tell it was Adrian. He had come to watch me compete. He said he had followed the team last year, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that he was in the stands. However, seeing him sitting there gave me a renewed confidence to perform well.
We were told to take our positions. I was assigned lane four. I could hear Billy and Lonnie hollering when my name was called. I looked over to the side at Marty. I nodded when he gave me a thumb’s up signal.
As I knelt down, I quickly looked up into the stands at Adrian. “Focus, Zac,” I said silently to myself. “Focus.” I positioned myself and waited for the starter’s gun. When it went off, I lifted myself from the starter’s block and looked straight ahead at the finish line.
The thing about running a sprint, you don’t have time to think about it. It’s not like a long distance race where you have to concentrate on pacing yourself. In the 100m, the gun goes off and you run as fast as you can before you cross the finish line a few seconds later.
When I crossed the finish line, I looked to my left and my right and didn’t see anyone beside me. I lifted my arms in victory knowing that I had easily beaten my competition. I ran around the track until I reached the area where my family was. They were standing and applauding. I quickly glanced up at Adrian as a smile appeared on his face.
Austin came running up and began taking pictures of me. “You’d better wait,” I warned him. “I’ve still got the finals to run.”
I walked with him around the stadium as we watched other events. Our boys’ team was doing very well. Except for a couple of freshman, everyone had made it to his or her final competition. The 4x100 meter and 4x400 meter relay teams turned in very impressive times. If we did as well in the finals as we did in the preliminaries, we were sure to walk away winning the meet.
As the time for my final race approached, my stomach began its usual somersault routine. I even rushed to one of the stalls hoping to relieve some of the pressure, but it didn’t help. It also didn’t help that George Stiverson strutted confidently around watching others compete. A throng of admirers usually accompanied him.
“Would the runners for the 100 meter finals please report to the track,” boomed the track announcer.
Austin patted me on my back and said encouragingly, “Break a leg,” before tucking his camera under his arm and walking toward the finish line.
As I paced around the runner’s area, I looked over at Stiverson. He winked and grabbed his crotch. A few of his teammates started giggling.
We were then told to take our lanes. I was in lane five. Stiverson was in lane four. As I stretched my body and touched my toes, he looked over at my ass. “Bet that’s a position you enjoy.” He then looked over at me and smirked.
“Fuck you,” I hissed softly so no one could here me.
“Bite me, Fag,” he responded angrily.
“You wish,” I muttered back.
The announcer told us to take our places. “Focus, Zac,” I repeated as a mantra. I couldn’t let anything distract me. Stiverson had tried, but I was quickly able to remove anything negative from my mind.
The starter’s gun went off and I sprang forward. I could feel the power in my legs as I ran effortlessly toward the finish line. When I crossed, I knew I had won. I glanced out of the corner of my eye and saw my family cheering wildly. I bent down and tried to catch my breath. As I did so, I looked over and saw Stiverson bent over gasping for air.
“Nice ass,” I said sarcastically as I looked at the outline of his ass through his thin material.
He rose and approached me angrily. “You fucking faggot!” he shouted as he balled his fist. I closed my eyes waiting for him to hit me when I was aware of someone pushing me slightly to the side.
“Give it a rest, George,” I heard Austin say in a cold, authoritative voice. I looked up as several of Stiverson’s teammates attempted to pull him away. I looked quickly over at Austin. He was staring intently at George. After several seconds, George unballed his fists, turned and started to walk away.
“This isn’t the end,” he turned and threatened as he stormed off. I looked back over at Austin, wondering what had just happened. Stiverson was ready to kick my ass until Austin stepped up beside me.
As if he were reading my mind, Austin gave out a little laugh. “I’ve competed against his brother,” he said. “He can’t fight either.” He threw his arm around my shoulder as I waved to the crowd. My family was still applauding loudly. I looked over and saw Marty and Coach Templeton smiling. I trotted over to Marty.
“You had a meet record.” I had been so involved with Stiverson, I hadn’t even noticed my time. I had run a 10.38. It was the fastest time I had ever posted. “Congratulations!” Marty picked me up and twirled me around in a circle.
“Keep running like you did today and you’ll be Olympic bound in a few years.” Austin pulled out his notebook and started writing. He looked over at Marty. “Can I quote you on that?”
“Why the hell not,” he laughed as he picked me up again and twirled me around.
For the first time in my life, I became emotional during the medal ceremony. I was all right until I looked into the stands and saw Adrian standing and applauding. I think he knew I was looking at him because he nodded his head slightly and gave me a thumb’s up. Billy and Lonnie whooped loudly when I held up my first place medal. People around them started laughing at their antics.
“That was kind of neat,” Austin remarked as I got off the platform and walked around to watch the relay races. There was some sadness in his voice when he added, “No one has ever cheered for me.”
I threw my arm around his shoulder. “Well, maybe I’ll come to one of your meets someday and cheer for you.”
He looked at me and grinned. “They’re matches, not meets.” Just then, a few members of the girls’ track team ran up and started hugging me. When I turned back, Austin had walked away. I watched as he walked up to Coach Templeton with his notebook and interviewed him.
As I was getting ready to watch the boy’s 4x100m relay race, Tommy Zimmers stepped up beside me. “I thought you might be interested,” he said. “I just got a text message from my brother. The baseball team lost their season opener, 5-2.”
“Shit,” I muttered silently. Kenny’s dream for a state championship was over. You can’t struggle back after losing a game, especially the first game of the season. My chances for a state win looked good. I had put in a time that was close to a state record, and it was just the first meet. I thought about how crushed Kenny must be feeling. All the years of dreaming were wiped out with just one loss.
“Don’t let it upset you,” Tommy said when he noticed the sad expression on my face. “Kenny is an asshole. He deserves what ever happens.”
“Yeah, right,” I responded as I walked away.
Our boys’ team easily won the meet. We had four first place wins. Besides my win, both relay teams placed first and Paul won the high jump competition. We also had three second places and two third. No other school even came close to the points we had accumulated. The girls did well, but not as well as the guys did. They came in second place overall.
Coach Templeton hollered out that the bus would be leaving in twenty minutes. Before heading to the dressing room, I ran over to the bleachers where my family was sitting. Dad and Mom gave me huge hugs. Jimmy ruffled my head. “Not too bad, Kiddo,” he said smilingly.
Irene hugged me and said, “That was exciting. I’ve never seen anyone run as fast as you did today.” I heard the clicking of a camera and turned to see Austin standing a few feet away.
Mrs. Jarvis walked up to me. “You young men and women did a wonderful job representing our school,” she said as she pulled me into a hug. She looked down on the field. “I’ve never seen such a talented group.” She put her arm around my waist and turned us toward Austin.
“Take a picture of us, Austin,” she laughed. “It may be worth something someday.” Just before he snapped the picture, I stuck my tongue out and crossed my eyes. He giggled as he walked away.
Austin and I were walking across the track when I saw Adrian approaching from about eight feet away. “Wait here,” I told Austin as I trotted over to Adrian.
“Hey,” he said shyly. He looked down at the ground before raising his head to stare into my eyes. “You looked good today.” As he did the first time we met, he let his eyes scan my body. I felt I was standing naked before him.
“Thanks,” I responded as I looked back at him. He was wearing a tight white tee shirt that accentuated the dark muscles underneath. He had on a pair of tan khaki shorts that showed the growing print of his cock as he stared at me.
I noticed him look behind me at Austin. He moved in closer to me and whispered. “Do you think we can get together tonight?” He looked seductively at my crotch. I could feel it twitching inside my running shorts.
“What did you have in mind?” My voice cracked with nervousness. It had been a week since we had last talked. I had given up any hope of seeing him again. However, as he stood before me, I felt like I did the first time we saw each other. I could once again feel the door opening for me.
“Why don’t you come by my house around seven,” he replied. “Don’t come down to the house, but wait for me on the corner.” He gave me a wicked grin. “We’ll go for a run.”
“You sure?” I knew what he wanted to do. He wanted us to go once again to ‘our spot.’ I could feel my cock hardening inside my shorts. He noticed it too. He looked down and then looked up at me and grinned.
“I’m sure,” he said as he put his hand over the bulge growing inside his shorts. He looked back over my shoulder at Austin to make sure he hadn’t heard our conversation. “I’ll see you later, then.” He turned and I stared at his tight ass as he walked away.
When I turned and approached Austin, he looked down and noticed the enlarged bulge in my shorts. When I walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, he moved away and walked ahead of me. Before entering the locker room, I suddenly remembered that I had made plans to go out with him later. I grabbed his shoulder and stopped him.
“Austin,” I said in a sorrowful tone. “Can you take a rain check for tonight? Something has come up and I won’t be able to make it.”
He stepped back and crossed his arms. “Would Adrian Lewis be that something?”
“No,” I lied. “Dad and Mom want to take me to dinner to celebrate my victory.”
“Funny,” he said sarcastically. “I didn’t hear them say anything.”
“Ummm,” I stammered. I then recalled him being with me the entire time I had been with them in the bleachers. “We talked about it at breakfast.”
He stared intently at me. He knew I was lying, but there was no way I could recover. “Then why did you ask me out tonight?”
“Umm,” I replied nervously. “I guess I forgot.”
He turned and started to walk away. “Yeah, sure,” he said angrily. “You go to dinner with your family.”
“Wait!” I hollered out. “You’ve got to ride the bus back to school. I’ll take you home.”
“Don’t do me any favors,” he shouted back angrily. “I’ll call my mother and have her come get me.”
I felt like shit as I watched him storm away.