Chapter 13

I jumped out of the pool and was heading toward the house when Roni grabbed my arm and stopped me. “We gotta talk about this,” she insisted. Blake walked up beside her but said nothing.

“What’s to talk about,” I replied as I pulled away. She grabbed me again.

“I don’t like what’s going on,” she replied angrily.

Blake asked, “What’s going on?”

I looked pleadingly at Roni. “We can’t talk about this here,” I said as I looked quickly at Blake.

Blake asked, “Is Craig your boyfriend?” I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say. I looked at Roni, and she looked sympathetically at me. Blake walked up and stood before me. “I’m not stupid,” he said. “I’ve seen how you and Craig are around each other. Is it me? Is he jealous of me?”

“God!” I moaned as I grabbed my head and turned away. Roni put her arms around me and embraced me tightly.

“I’m afraid for you, Seth,” she muttered softly. “I told you to be careful, but you wouldn’t listen.”

Blake asked, “So something is going on?”

I pulled away from Roni and hurried into the house. I didn’t want to talk about it in front of Blake. I knew Roni could give me good advice, but I wanted to protect Blake. I was also ashamed of him knowing that I was involved sexually with Craig. I went into the bathroom where my clothes were, dressed and hurried from the house. I jumped in my car and backed out of the driveway. Roni and Blake were standing outside the gate watching me.

On the way home I tried to understand why Craig had appeared at Roni’s house. He was supposed to be at football practice with Stacy watching. She had told Maggie that morning she was going after school. So, why had he shown up unannounced? Maybe he had called Roni, but she didn’t answer his call. I don’t remember seeing her with her phone.

And I’ll never be able to forget the look on his face when he saw me embracing and kissing Blake in the pool. He appeared shocked at first. Then anger. When he looked down threatening at me, he didn’t seem mad. He appeared hurt. I could see it in his eyes.

Now though, I’m not sure how he is going to react. He had warned me a couple of times not to see Blake. I know he is jealous of Blake. Blake is a threat to our secret relationship. Before, I wasn’t afraid of Craig. After seeing me and Blake together, he may hurt us. I’m especially worried what he might do to Blake. Blake is smaller than me, and he won’t be able to stop him.

Stacy was sitting at the kitchen counter when I entered. Since she wasn’t with Craig, I thought that she might be at Maggie’s house. “Where have you been?” she asked angrily.

“I don’t think it’s any of your business,” I replied annoyingly. Stacy was the last person I wanted to get into an argument with.

She said, “Mom told us to be home after school. I’m going to tell her you didn’t follow the rules.”

“Fuck you, Stacy!” I hollered. “Mom said we didn’t have to be home until six.” Before I realized what I was saying, I blurted out, “It’s not my fault Craig didn’t have practice.”

Stacy furrowed her eyebrows and asked questioningly, “How do you know he didn’t have practice? He didn’t even know until he showed up after school. The coach was sick, and he called it off. There’s no way you would know that.”

‘Shit!’ I thought to myself as Stacy stared at me angrily. I had no idea how to respond. Quickly, I turned it back to Stacy. “Did something happen to you and Craig? Why isn’t he here?”

At least it worked. Stacy began ranting about Mom’s rules about not allowing anyone in the house. She ended up storming out of the kitchen, complaining all the way to her room. I managed to avoid one fight. Now I had to prepare for the next one.

Aunt Marie and Uncle Steve arrived just before six o’clock. I thought she would cook something for us here, but she came with a lasagna casserole and French bread. It was delicious. She tried to get Stacy to talk, but she was still upset. She asked how my classes were going, and I told her I was doing fine in school.

“He’s a nerd,” mumbled Stacy as she took a bite of her lasagna.

Uncle Steve laughed and replied, “Nothing wrong with being a nerd.” He looked over and winked at me. “I was a nerd in high school too. I’m now making three times the money than most of the boys who made fun of me.” He smiled at me and added, “Don’t worry, Seth. You’ll get the last laugh. Just remember, he who laughs last, laughs best.”

Stacy gave Uncle Steve a puzzled look and asked, “What’s that mean.”

Uncle Steve laughed harder as he looked at Stacy and replied, “I didn’t expect you to get it.” Stacy stuck her tongue out and continued eating.

Uncle Steve left after eating, and Stacy hurried to her room to avoid cleaning up. I remained behind to help Aunt Marie. I’ve always liked her, and we get along great. When I was little, she used to sneak me candy without Stacy seeing. I never understood why. I guess she just liked me more.

As we cleaned the table, she questioned me about school. She wanted to know more about the girl I was taking to the dance. My mother must have mentioned it to her. She wanted to know, “Is she pretty?”

I shrugged my shoulders and replied, “She’s okay, I guess.”

Aunt Marie began to laugh. “You’re dating a girl, and you just guess that she is pretty?”

“I’m not dating her,” I insisted. “We’re just going to the dance together.”

She replied, “It sounds like you don’t want to go.”

“It’s just a dance,” I replied as I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t really want to go.” And I don’t. I know I’ll have to see Craig there. Besides, we still have two more days of classes before the dance. Since we share a couple of classes together, I won’t be able to avoid him.

Aunt Marie asked, “Why are you going if you don’t want to?”

Again, I shrugged my shoulders. “It’s a junior dance. Everyone will be there.”

“I see,” she replied. She grabbed my hand and led me into the family room. She sat on the sofa, and I had to sit beside her. She looked sympathetically at me and said, “Spill it, Seth. You’ve been moody all night.” I wanted to get up and leave, but she was still holding my hand.

I looked at her and responded, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m okay.”

She smiled and said, “I raised your cousin Charles. I know when something is on a boy’s mind.” She squeezed my hand tighter. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“No, Ma’am,” I replied as tears appeared in my eyes. “I’m okay.”

She asked, “Is it a girl? Charles was always moody when he was having girl trouble.”

I laughed nervously and replied, “No. It’s not a girl.”

I was stunned when she asked, “Is it a boy?”

“What?” I asked surprisingly. She smiled and squeezed my hand.

“I asked if it is a boy.”

“Why would you ask me that?” I didn’t know how to answer. I felt trapped. She continued to grip my hand, so I couldn’t get up and leave.

She smiled and sighed. “I’ve watched you closely over the years. You’re not like other boys. While they were out playing baseball, you were in your room reading a book.” She reached out and ran her hand across my cheek. Tears welled up in my eyes. “You’re a very attractive young man. Yet you never date. Your mother has told me how she keeps trying to get you to go out with a girl. She says you fight about it constantly.”

She squeezed my hand again and continued. “The way I see it. The only reason a handsome boy like you doesn’t date a girl is because he doesn’t want to date a girl.”

Tears started falling down my cheeks. I begged, “Can I go to my room, please?”

Aunt Marie put her arm around me and pulled me into her bosom. She whispered softly in my ear, “I’ll love you anyway you are.” I could no longer control my emotions. I began to cry. Aunt Marie continued to hold me tightly.

I cried softly, “You won’t tell Mom, will you?”

She took my shoulders and lifted me up and looked gently into my face. “This will be just our secret, Seth,” she promised as she kissed me on my forehead. “I love you.” She took my hand and pulled me from the sofa. “Now, you go to your room and wipe your eyes dry. We’ll talk more tomorrow.” She again kissed me on my cheek.

“I love you, Aunt Marie,” I said tearfully as I kissed her on the cheek. I turned and headed to my room.

When I went to my room, I lay across the bed and looked at the ceiling. I suppose I should be upset that my aunt knew my secret, but in a way, I was relieved. At least I know that there is one adult who I can turn to if I need help. She could also be helpful if my mother ever finds out I’m gay.

I fell asleep for about an hour before nature called. I walked across the hall to the bathroom. Before entering I heard Stacy on the phone shouting. “I hate that mother fucker!” she shouted. I assumed she was talking to Maggie about something I had done until she screamed, “He just broke up with me on the phone. He didn’t even give me a reason. I’ll kill him when I see him in school tomorrow.” I wanted to listen a little while longer, but Stacy was pacing around the room. She might come to the door and look out. If she saw me at the door listening to her ranting, she might go off on me. I hurried into the bathroom and closed the door.

Shit! Craig must have just broken up with Stacy. But why? It couldn’t have been because he saw me making out with Blake in Roni’s pool. Could it? It does seem sudden, though. They were at school today, and Stacy was clinging to Craig as they walked down the hall. There didn’t seem to be a problem. Stacy also didn’t seem upset at dinner. Craig must have called her after she went to her room. One thing is for certain. The next few days are going to be a nightmare. When Stacy is upset, she takes it out on everyone. Without Mom in the house to calm her, I’ll be the recipient of her rage.

When I left the bathroom, I stopped outside Stacy’s bedroom door. She was still ranting about Craig. She was accusing him of dumping her for another girl. She rambled off a few names of girls in our class. Stacy threatened that she would fight any girl she saw Craig with. When I went back to my room, I considered calling Aunt Marie and telling her what was going on. However, it was late, and she and Uncle Steve would probably be in bed. I would just have to wait until morning to see what would happen next.

No one was in the kitchen when I went downstairs the next morning. I heard Stacy taking a shower in her bathroom, so she wasn’t making threats on the phone. I was eating cereal when she came storming into the kitchen.

“Hurry up, Seth,” she ordered angrily. “I gotta get to school.”

Even though I knew the reason, I still asked, “Why?”

She replied angrily, “It’s none of your fucking business! Now hurry up!” She grabbed her bookbag, slammed the door on her way out and headed to my car. I watched her out the window as she pulled out her phone and began shouting. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, but I was pretty sure she was talking to Maggie about Craig.

I waited about five minutes before I went out to the car. I knew it would make Stacy angry if I made her wait. She started yelling at me as soon as I approached the car. “Hurry up, Fucker! I told you I want to get to school.”

She didn’t say much on the way to Maggie’s house. I don’ t think she wanted me to know that Craig had broken up with her the night before. Stacy’s pride would never let her give me the satisfaction of knowing that Craig had dumped her. I’m sure she was already thinking of some way of making others believe that she had been the one to break up with him. When Maggie got in the backseat, she glanced quickly at Stacy, but she didn’t say anything. It was the first time that the car was quiet on the way to school.

I dropped them off in front of the building, and I waited around a minute to watch them talk animatedly as they entered the building. I figured that by the end of the day, Stacy would either be suspended from school- or arrested. I was nervous as I drove to the student parking lot. Craig and I arrive many mornings around the same time. I certainly didn’t want to confront him if he was as angry as Stacy. I didn’t know how he would react when he sees me.

However, two things are in my favor. He is an athlete. He won’t want to jeopardize playing football if he fights me in school. He could also be kicked off the team. Plus, everyone thinks he’s straight. If he approaches me in the hall, it will be an angry exchange, and words will be said that may give away why he’s wanting to fight me. Such an encounter could expose both of us. I’m more afraid of what might happen if we cross paths outside of school. Now I’m glad that Mom has placed some restrictions on us. It will give me a reason to go home directly after school and stay in the house. I don’t think he will show up on our doorstep unannounced. If he does, he’ll have to deal with Stacy’s wrath.

I proceeded cautiously down the hallway to the cafeteria. I went straight over to the table where Ty, Jennifer and Sherman were sitting. I looked for Blake, but I didn’t see him anywhere. I kept a watchful eye out for Craig, but he too seemed to avoid showing up for breakfast. I also didn’t see Stacy and Maggie. My first thought was that they might have met up in the hallway, but the cafeteria was relatively quiet. If there was a confrontation in the halls, students would have jumped from their seats and bolted out the doors.

I walked with Ty to first period. When I entered, again, Blake wasn’t there. I was becoming worried about him. I had left Roni’s house so suddenly that I didn’t even say goodbye to him. I wondered if he was cutting class so he could avoid me. Even Ty made a comment about him not being in class. Roni entered just as the bell rang. As she walked to her desk, she gave me an angry look.

Ty leaned over and asked, “What’s the matter with Roni?” He chuckled and added, “Did you two have a lover’s fight?”

I rolled my eyes and replied, “Just shut up, Ty.” He smiled and nodded. Ty isn’t stupid, and I think he was beginning to pick things up. He was probably suspicious because of Blake’s absence and Roni’s attitude; he may be trying to figure out who I had a lover’s fight with.

I was edgy all morning. I still hadn’t seen Blake or Craig. I began to worry that  they had gotten into a fight somewhere, and that was the reason they both weren’t in school. I did see Stacy and Maggie a few times in the hall. Maggie seemed to be comforting my sister. I also tried to listen to other students’ conversations to hear if anyone was talking about Stacy and Craig breaking up. So far, I had heard nothing.

I was on my way to third period when Amber walked up and grabbed my arm. I panicked thinking it was Craig. She looked worried. “Have you seen Blake in school today?” she asked.

“No,” I replied. “Why?”

She shook her head sadly. “He didn’t come home last night,” she said. “We’re worried about him. He was doing better, but it looks like he’s going back to the old Blake.” She asked again, “You sure you haven’t seen him.”

“No,” I assured her. “I’ve been looking for him all morning. I haven’t seen him.”

She squeezed my arm and said, “Let me know if you do find him. Mom has had enough of his staying out. She’s going to put him out if he doesn’t act right.” Tears welled up in her eyes. “He’ll be out on the streets if she does. No one wants to deal with a runaway.” She turned and hurried down the hall.

I know where he is. He probably spent the night at the old warehouse. I’ll go by after school, although I’m not sure he will talk to me.

Things got even worse later. Roni and I have a trigonometry class together fourth period. When I entered, she stopped me and told me she wanted to talk to me after class. Lunch follows fourth period. When the bell rang, I waited for Roni to come out. I thought we could talk for a minute, and then I could go to lunch. However, that didn’t happen. She hurriedly walked past me and ordered, “Follow me.” I trailed behind her as she exited the building and sat on a bench. It was breezy as I took a seat beside her and pulled my jacket tightly around my neck.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. I was still embarrassed because I had rushed out of her house without even saying goodbye to her or Blake.

Roni replied angrily, “I’ll tell you what’s wrong.” She stared angrily at me. “You fucked up.”

“What did I do?” I asked even though I knew the answer.

She replied, “I told you when you started messing with Craig that it was going to be a disaster. I don’t know what the hell you were thinking.”

“Okay,” I said apologetically. “I fucked up.”

“Fucked up!” she replied loudly. “You’ve ruined Craig’s life.” She started to cry.

“What’s happened?” I asked worriedly.

Roni explained how she later called Craig and asked him to return to her house so they could talk. She said it took a long time for him to finally admit what we had done. It began when she asked him if he had given me the hickey. She said he finally confessed that he had. He then completely broke down and started crying. He admitted that he felt he was gay, and there was nothing he could do about it. He thought that we could have an affair without anyone knowing, but then Blake entered the picture.

Roni said, “He’s jealous.”

“Jealous?” I asked. I was confused. Why would he be jealous of Blake?

Roni shook her head sadly and replied, “I think he loves you, Seth.”

I asked incredulously, “Are you serious? He can’t love me.”

“He does,” she replied. “He told me last night he’s going to break up with Stacy because he doesn’t think he can come around your house anymore.”

“Shit,” I muttered. So that is why he broke up with Stacy. Roni asked if he did, and I told her what I heard last night. I told her I was also afraid of what Stacy might do. She became more worried when I told her that Stacy suspected he was seeing another girl.

Roni gripped my hand and squeezed it. “Be careful of your sister,” she warned. “She can deal with another girl, but I don’t think she’s going to take it if she finds out he’s gay and messing around with her brother.”

“What do you think I’ve been worried about,” I replied. “I knew something like this would happen.”

“You should have left things alone,” responded Roni.

I asked worriedly, “What is Craig going to do?”

Tears welled up in her eyes and she replied, “I honestly don’t know. He’s so afraid everyone is going to find out he’s gay. He’s worried because you and I know. He thinks it is just a matter of time before everything blows up.”

“I’m not going to say anything,” I assured her. “I promise.”

“I know, Seth,” she said. “However, the dance is Saturday night. Everyone is going to wonder what happened between him and your sister. And if I know Stacy, she’s not going to take the breakup well.”

“Tell me,” I replied as I shook my head. “You should have heard her last night. It’s a good thing Craig isn’t in school today.” I stopped and asked, “Where is Craig?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “When he left my house last night, he was really upset. He said he had to do some thinking. I called his cellphone several times today, but he isn’t answering.”

I then thought about Blake. He too was missing. “What happened with Blake after I left yesterday? I was so scared about Craig seeing me with him that I left without saying goodbye.”

“It’s weird,” she replied. “He started ranting about how fucked up his life is. He said some things that really worried me. I went into the house with him when he got his clothes. He dressed and then just left. I tried to get him to talk about it, but he told me it was too late to talk.” She gave me a worried look. “You don’t think he will do something to himself, do you?”

“I don’t know,” I replied as tears appeared in my eyes. I knew one thing. I had to find him.

Roni hugged me tightly as we stood to go back inside. She assured me that everything would be okay. However, I knew they wouldn’t be. I had fucked up. I never should have messed around with Craig. However, he wanted it as much as I did. But it had become bigger than both of us. According to Roni, he had fallen in love with me. I don’t even know how that happened.

And now Blake enters the picture, and he has become involved in the mess. I can tell that he might be falling in love with me. I also feel that I might be falling in love with him. But how can I explain to him about Craig? I don’t want him involved in the chaos I have created. Now, I’m afraid it is too late to stop it.

When I entered the building, I went to the clinic and asked to see the school nurse. I told her I wasn’t feeling well, and if I could go home. I didn’t want to skip because the school would notify my mother. She would be really mad if she found out about it during her conference. When the nurse informed me that she would have to talk to my mother first, I explained that she wasn’t in town, and she couldn’t be reached. She asked who was responsible for me, and I gave her Aunt Marie’s phone number. I held my breath while she talked to Aunt Marie. When she hung up, she told me that my aunt had given her permission for me to leave. However, I was supposed to go to her house immediately. I assured her I would, and then left the building and jumped in my car.

I had no intention of going to my aunt’s house. I knew where I had to go. The old door creaked when I pulled it open. I made my way down the dilapidated hallway until I came to where I knew Blake might be.

I squinted my eyes, and I saw a figure buried under several blankets. “Blake?” I called out softly. He sat up and looked my way. As long as I live, I will be haunted by the ghastly face staring back at me.