Omari called me later in the evening and we talked for about an hour. I had to go out on the swing and talk to him because Billy wouldn’t leave the room. He kept mouthing, “Who’s Omari?” After waving him off several times, I finally got up and went outdoors.
I learned quite a bit about him during our conversation. He was twenty-two years old, and he was attending a local university, majoring in business. I would have attended the school, but it was small and the athletic department sucked.
Omari told me his mother and father were from Egypt, but he was born in the United States. I guess that explained his darker complexion and brown eyes. His father had been a diplomat, but he was now working as a lobbyist in Washington, DC. He didn’t come out and say it, but I could tell that they were rather wealthy. When I asked him why he didn’t attend an Ivy League school, he said his grades hadn’t been good enough in high school. Like me, he had been outed his junior year. However, his family disapproved of his lifestyle because of religious beliefs. They supported him financially, but he seldom saw them.
He lived in a dormitory his freshman year, but he now shared an apartment with another guy, Steven. He said he was American and very straight. They got along well except Steven’s girlfriend spent a lot of time at the apartment. He said he had to leave many times because they would go into Steven’s room and have sex. I laughed when he mimicked the loud screaming and moaning he would hear coming from the room.
He said he had had a boyfriend his senior year of high school, but he hadn’t found any guys he felt attracted to until he met me in the mall. I’m glad we were on the phone so he couldn’t see me blush when he described how attractive he found me. In a way it saddened me, because the way he described meeting me was the way I felt when I first saw Adrian as he walked up to me while I was sitting in the bleachers that Saturday morning. I found Omari attractive, but I didn’t feel that certain ‘something’ when I first saw him in the mall.
He asked me many questions about myself. I told him how Kenny had outed me at school. “Sounds like a real jackass,” he said angrily when I told him how he had treated me in the shower.
He was particularly interested in me running track. He said it was one of his favorite events to watch during the summer Olympics. When I mentioned that Irene might come to one of my meets, he instantly said he would like to see me run also. He giggled and called me his Usain Bolt. I told him I would have to improve greatly to even begin to reach the speeds Bolt had achieved. Bolt set a world record of 9.72 in 2008. My fastest race last year was ll.2.
When Omari said he had to go, I smiled when he told me he was “counting the minutes until he saw me again- “one thousand three hundred and twenty.” I wasn’t sure if he was really counting them or just making up a number.
As soon as I entered the bedroom, Billy started jumping around like some wild chimpanzee at the zoo. “Who’s Omari? I thought you liked Adrian?”
He became dreamy eyed when I described Omari. “He sounds really hot! I can’t wait to meet him!”
“You’d better behave yourself,” I warned him. “I don’t know who is worse, you or Lonnie.” He got up from my bed, went over to his dresser, and grabbed his phone.
“I’m going to call Lonnie and tell him to be here tomorrow night when Omari picks you up.” I jumped from the bed to grab his phone, but he ran squealing from the room.
There should be a written law that when an athlete practices after school during the week, he or she shouldn’t have to do it on Saturday morning, too. Billy was still asleep when I got up and dressed. Except for Mom, everyone else appeared to be in bed when I entered the kitchen at eight.
“Good morning, Dear.” My mother looked up from the morning paper. She started to get up to get me something to eat, but I stopped her.
“I’ll just drink some coffee,” I said as I poured some of the steaming brew into a cup. I sat down across from her and blew on the rim of the cup.
She looked over the top of the newspaper at me. “How is everything?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “Same old, same old, I guess.”
“That bad?” She gave me a wry smile.
“It hasn’t been one of my better weeks,” I reminded her. We talked for a few minutes about school. I assured her that I had been able to keep my grades up while I had been suspended for the three days.
“And how is Adrian? You haven‘t brought him home lately.” I again shrugged my shoulders.
“We don’t talk much,” I said dismissively. What more was there to say? He had decided that he wanted to distance himself from me. There was little I could do about it.
“His father came in the store yesterday,” my mother said. “He started asking me questions about you.”
I sat up and looked quizzically at her. “What kind of questions?”
“I think he was fishing,” she said. “He said something about one of his church members mentioning your name. He wanted to know if you had a girlfriend. I started to tell him it was none of his business, but I thought it would be rude of me.”
“You should have,” I remarked angrily. I was curious why someone had mentioned me to him, unless they had heard the rumors that I was gay and was wondering what his son was doing associating with me. Perhaps that explained why Adrian had been avoiding me.
“Well, Adrian’s a nice young man,” my mother stated. “You should invite him to dinner again soon.”
“Yeah, sure,” I said as I rose and grabbed my gym bag.
Half the team members were on the field when I arrived. The rest slowly dragged in over the next fifteen minutes. Even Marty appeared tired when he trotted out onto the track. We spent the next two hours as we always did- grueling exercises and running practices. Coach Templeton seemed disappointed that my times were a couple tenths of a second off what they had been the previous day.
We practiced until noon before Coach let us leave. It’s amazing to watch twenty-five trained athletes drag wearily into a locker room, but then start acting like immature children as soon as they begin to undress. The popping of towels could be heard throughout the shower room.
“Son of a Bitch!” I screamed as I felt a wet towel snap against the back of my leg. I turned just as Tommy Zimmers stuck his tongue out and ran into the shower. The guys started laughing as I curled my towel tightly and faced him. Rory and Justin grabbed his arms, turned him around and let me pop the towel on his tight ass.
After showering, I felt good because none of the guys seemed any different toward me. They stood naked in the shower without trying to cover themselves so the gay boy didn’t stare at them. No one made any crude comments directed toward me. I was as I had always been- just one of the guys.
That changed, however, when the baseball team entered after their practice. A couple whispered ‘fags’ under their breaths. Kenny tried to avoid me. He remained on the opposite side of the locker room and not once looked my way. Adrian entered late and went directly to a locker. He glanced occasionally over at me, but he didn’t say anything. Once he was undressed, Kenny walked over to him and they disappeared into the shower area. I quickly crammed my clothes into my gym bag and stormed out of the gym.
I was becoming increasingly frustrated with Adrian’s behavior. I knew he was insecure, but that shouldn’t stop him from at least acknowledging that I existed. It was only a week earlier I had undressed before him and stood naked as he admired my body. Now he couldn’t even look my way and say hello.
I was torn between emotions. One part of me hated him because of his immature behavior. He was old enough to decide who his friends were. He didn’t need the approval of Kenny or any others to speak to someone. I didn’t blame him for not wanting to come out to everyone, but at the same time, he didn’t have to ignore me for fear of being branded gay. My teammates proved that they could be friends with me without others questioning their sexuality. I couldn’t understand why Adrian couldn’t do the same thing.
However, the other part of me felt pity for him. He seemed extremely fearful of his father. I could only imagine the fears he must have endured growing up listening to his father spew his hatred about homosexuality. How many other young gay boys and girls sit in a pew Sunday after Sunday knowing that their entire being goes against the doctrines of their church? The situation for Adrian was even worse- he was a minister’s son. If it became known that he was gay, then how could his father even begin to explain to his church how he had raised a son who violated the very thing he detested?
It seemed like I was caught in the middle of Adrian’s struggle. I knew how he felt for me. Even though we had only shared a kiss, I knew the emotion behind it. Every time I see him, I know how I feel. That is why his behavior hurts me. I know how wonderful things could be if we were just left alone to explore our feelings for one another.
Fate brought us together and now it separates us. I often wonder if my chance for finding true love is slowing drifting away. If Door Number Three closes, will my life be happy with the Door Number Ones I am sure to encounter? Will I end up in a relationship that is safe? Marty said that by selecting Door Number Three it would give me hope and fulfill my dreams. What if Adrian does walk out of my life? Will my hopes and dreams disappear with him?
And what about Adrian? If I am his Door Number Three and he doesn’t select me, then will he deny his true being and live a lie behind Door Number One? Will he marry and have children because it will be the safe thing to do? Will his hopes and dreams also die?
One thing is certain. This is bigger than both of us realize it to be. Meeting Adrian changed my life forever. I was no longer the person I was a few weeks ago. I had been through hell and back, but I had come out changed. I had looked into a mirror and saw my true self. I was no longer going to deny nor hide who I was.
Adrian, too, was at the same cross roads. He could accept the man who was inside him, or he could hide and deny it. He may never again have such an opportunity. Valerie was by his side to give him strength. I would be there if only he asked. I could be strong enough for both of us until he gained the confidence he would need to run the good race. Until then, like the last runner in a relay race, I could dig deep and make us come out a winner even if his beginning wasn’t strong. Now, all I needed was him to pick up the baton and pass it off to me. However, until he decided to do so, all I could do was wait.
I was showered and dressed, sitting at my computer desk waiting nervously for Omari and Irene to arrive. I don’t know why, but Mom, Dad and Billy were overly excited about me going on my first ‘date.’ I think they were more excited about it than I was. I just looked at it as going out for the evening with some new friends.
My heart started pounding when the doorbell rang. I waited for a minute before I started to go downstairs. I didn’t want to appear too eager. I jumped when the door opened and Billy came running in.
“Jesus, Holy Shit, Zac!” he squealed. “Omari is hot!”
I gave him a wry grin. “He is, isn’t he?”
He walked over and bounced on the bed. “Can I go to the movies with you?”
“No!” I shouted.
“Please?” Billy begged. “You used to take me with Rachel.”
“You are not going!” I insisted as I started to leave the room. “You just want to perv on him all night.”
“No!” I shouted again as I left the room.
I laughed when I heard him mutter, “Fucker.”
When I entered the family room, Omari and Irene were sitting on the sofa. My father was sitting in his chair talking to them. Mom was in the kitchen probably preparing a snack for them.
Omari’s eyes lit up when I walked in. He quickly scanned my body. I was dressed in a green polo shirt. Everyone always told me I looked good in it. From the look in his eyes, I knew I had made the right decision.
“Hey!” He stood and shook my hand. Irene stood and hugged me.
“You didn’t tell me Omari worked at the mall,” my father said after I sat down between them. “He sold me the phone yesterday for Josh.”
“I had no idea you were Zac’s father,” he said as he looked over at me and smiled. “If I had known, I’d have given you my discount.”
“Maybe it’s not too late,” Dad laughed. Mom walked in with a snack tray filled with cheese and crackers. She put it on the table in front of us. Billy followed her with a tray containing glasses of tea. He looked at Omari, then at me and scowled. I wanted to stick my tongue out at him, but someone would have seen me do it.
Mom sat down and immediately started asking questions. She started with Irene, but I knew it wouldn’t take her long to start interrogating Omari. I became upset with Billy when he sat crossed legged in front of Omari and stared up at him. I gave him a dirty look, but he didn’t seem to care.
To make matters worse, Josh came in the room. When he saw Omari sitting on the couch, he ran over and sat down between us. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and handed it to him. “Can you show me how to add people? Dad told me but I forgot.”
“Sure,” Omari looked at me and smiled. He then looked around the room. “Why don’t we go into the kitchen? We’ll have more room.” Josh jumped up, grabbing Omari’s hand and pulling him toward the kitchen. I got upset when Billy followed them.
Mom and Irene continued to talk while I kept a cautious eye on what was happening in the kitchen. I didn’t trust Billy. He seemed too infatuated with Omari. I think my Dad sensed what was happening. He got up and went into the kitchen and sat down beside Billy as he watched Omari explain to Josh how to use his cell phone.
When Mom got up to get more tea, Irene turned to me and smiled. “You have a wonderful family.”
I looked into the kitchen and frowned. “I have a little brother I may kill.”
“He’s adorable,” she laughed. “You didn’t tell me he was gay. I saw him wearing the necklace I sold you.”
“I may strangle him with it,” I said angrily as I looked into the kitchen and saw him ogling Omari.
“Don’t worry about Omari,” she stated. “He’s used to the attention. He knows how to handle it.” She patted me on my hand. I felt a little better. I was afraid he would be upset with the looks Billy was giving him, but I understood what Irene was saying. I guess when you are born with Omari’s good looks, you become accustomed to people staring at you.
“Why doesn’t he date more?” I asked her softly so know one could hear us.
“He’s picky,” she replied. “He could have anyone he wants, but hardly anyone meets his standards.”
I gave her an astonished look. “I do?”
She giggled and pinched my cheek. “You are so sweet and innocent. Omari’s a lucky guy.”
Lucky guy! I looked into the kitchen and saw the handsome guy surrounded by my family. Even though they had just met him, he appeared comfortable and relaxed as if he had been in our home a thousand times. I knew I was the lucky one, except one thing stood in the way- my heart wasn’t in it.
Omari came out of the kitchen and pulled Irene to her feet. “Let’s go,” he smiled as he offered his hand to me. He squeezed it tightly as he helped me up. He continued to hold it for a few seconds as we walked to the door.
He turned and gave my mother a warm hug. “It was nice to meet you, Mrs. Barnes.” He then shook my father’s hand. Billy stood anxiously in front of him. Omari stepped forward and hugged him. When he released him, it looked like Billy had just landed on Cloud Nine.
Irene drove us to the mall in her VW Jetta. Omari insisted that I ride in the front. He sat behind Irene, so when I turned to talk to him, my eyes kept dropping to his crotch. Once he smiled and spread his legs wider apart. From the bulge inside the shorts he was wearing, he appeared to be fairly well endowed.
“Where do you want to eat?” Irene asked as we strolled around the mall.
“Anywhere but the food court,” Omari insisted. “I’m tired of the food there.” Just then, we walked past an Asian restaurant, the Purple Lotus.
“How about here?” She walked up and read the menu displayed in a case outside the door. It seemed rather expensive. I wasn’t sure I had enough for dinner and the movie. Omari thought it would be an interesting place to eat.
Dinner was another of those ‘getting to know you’ meals. Irene kept asking me questions about my family, school and track. Most I had already told her, but I think she was doing it for Omari. She didn’t know that we had talked for an hour the night before.
I almost spit my soda across the table when she asked me, “Are you still a virgin?” Omari covered his face and laughed. He then looked at me and raised his eyebrows.
“Yes,” I admitted before moaning loudly. “I can’t believe I just said that.”
“Why?” Irene asked. “I think it’s sweet that someone as cute as you is still intact.”
“Intact!” I laughed. “Is that what I am?”
Irene giggled and looked over at Omari. “Well, maybe Omari can change that.”
I was becoming increasingly upset with the direction the conversation was going. I was out on a night with friends, but it seemed they were trying to hook me up for sex. I wasn’t sure I was ready for that for a couple of reasons. One, I was still hurting from my failed encounter with Rachel. Even though I knew I was now gay, I still wasn’t ready to attempt another sexual encounter.
Secondly, there was Adrian. Ever since meeting him, I had hoped that I could lose my virginity to him. All my jack off fantasies involved him making love to me. Even after meeting Omari, I still continued to think about Adrian. I tried once to imagine Omari fucking me, but I soon saw Adrian’s brown eyes staring down as he penetrated me.
As I looked across the table, I knew that Omari and Irene were experienced with sex. They were both several years older than me. Irene had a girlfriend and Omari told me he once had a boyfriend. I realized that they probably considered that sex would naturally follow a night of dating.
I looked over at Omari as they talked. He was amazingly handsome. Most gay guys would probably give their left nut to spend a night in bed with him. Irene said he was extremely selective with the guys he dated, so I knew he wasn’t someone who just jumped into bed with any guy who looked interested. In fact, I had gotten the impression he may not have been with anyone since he broke up with his former boyfriend.
Irene looked worried at me. “You okay?”
“Yeah, sure,” I said as we continued to talk. A couple of times Omari would reach over and hold my hand briefly when he tried to make a point about something. Each time Irene would look at me and grin. I had a feeling Irene thought of Omari as a little brother and she was the protective sister. I think she had given me the seal of approval.
When the waiter brought the check, Omari immediately grabbed it and announced, “My treat.” I insisted on paying my part of the meal, but he quickly handed our waiter his Visa card. I didn’t want to feel indebted to him. Many of the guys in school talked about taking a girl out. They felt that if they spent big money on a meal and movie, then she ‘owed’ them. I was able to finally convince him to let me leave the tip on the table when we left.
Since we still had time before the movie started, we walked casually around the mall. We stopped in a women’s boutique and waited while Irene picked out a silk pair of pajamas. Sarah was coming home in a few weeks and she wanted something sexy to wear. Omari and I felt uncomfortable as she kept holding them up and asking, “How does this look?” Several customers in the store gave us curious looks. I think they thought we were involved in some kinky three-way relationship.
As we left the store, I quickly stopped. Adrian and Valerie were approaching from about six feet away. Valerie smiled but Adrian’s eyes darted back and forth between Omari and me.
“Hi,” Valerie said cheerfully as they approached. Her smile faded when she noticed Omari take a step toward me, pressing against my body.
“Um, Hi,” I stammered nervously. I then introduced Adrian and Valerie to Omari and Irene. Irene gave them a friendly handshake, but Omari simply nodded at them. I kept watching the glances being exchanged between Adrian and Omari.
“We’re going to go to the movie,” Irene told Valerie. “Would you care to join us?” I looked over quickly at Irene. I couldn’t make eye contact so that I could tell her I didn’t want them to join us.
“No,” Adrian answered quickly. He looked angrily at Omari. “We have other plans.” I became upset when Omari reached out and put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me closer to him. It appeared like there was a secret battle going on between them. I’d never mentioned Adrian’s name to Omari, but I think he could tell by the looks Adrian was giving him that there was some kind of chemistry between us. I think he felt challenged and he wanted to protect his prize.
Adrian stared into my eyes. A sadness appeared on his face that I couldn’t even begin to explain. It was as if I was watching his heart break into a million pieces. He started to blink away tears before turning and walking dejectedly away.
“Nice to meet you,” said Valerie to Irene as she gave me a puzzled look. She looked at Omari’s arm still wrapped around my shoulder. “I’ll call you later, Zac,” she announced before turning and running to catch up with Adrian. I watched as she grabbed his hand. He pulled it away as he looked back at me, shook his head and stormed off.
“What’s his problem?” Irene asked as she watched Adrian walk away.
“Old lover?” Omari said sarcastically as he squeezed my shoulder. Suddenly, I detested him. I realized that everything about the evening was wrong. I loved Adrian and I should never have consented to going out with Omari. I knew what he expected from me. I didn’t want another boyfriend. I wanted to wait for Adrian, and now I had hurt him.
I stepped away and brushed Omari’s hand off my shoulder. I looked anxiously at Irene. “I’ve got to go,” I said trying to hold back tears. Omari reached for my hand, but I pulled it way.
“Wait,” he pleaded.
“I...I really have to go,” I insisted as I looked in the direction in which Adrian had fled.
“Zac, don’t go!” I heard Irene shout as I quickly walked away.
I wandered around the mall for about a half hour searching desperately for Adrian and Valerie. I wasn’t sure what to say to him if I found him, but I knew I had to let him know that there was nothing between Omari and me. I wanted to make him understand I would wait for him no matter how long it took. From the hurt look in his eyes when he saw me standing beside Omari, I knew he still loved me. He just couldn’t bring himself to admit it.
I tried calling his cell phone, but I kept getting a voice mail recording. After the fourth time, I left a message begging him to call me. I finally called my father and asked him to pick me up.
He didn’t say anything as I got in the car. I think he knew by the look on my face that something had gone wrong. He also knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t talk about it until I was ready.
Billy jumped from the bed when I entered. He looked at the clock and asked, “Why are home so early?”
“I don’t want to talk about it, okay?” I glared at him as I began to undress. He sat back on his bed and stared at me.
“Did something happen?” he asked almost inaudibly.
I started laughing nervously as I changed into my shorts and running shoes. I was going to do what I always did when I got upset- run. “You could say that,” I replied. “If there’s a way to fuck things up, then you can depend on me to do it.”
I left the house and started running down the street.