Billy looked over at me. “What’s going on, Zac?” He looked at the email and then back at me. “What’s he mean?”
I sat staring at Kenny’s words. They hurt but I couldn’t tell Billy. Rachel must have told Alise, and Alise told Kenny what happened in the hallway. My first reaction was why he is acting this way. He is my best friend. Then I thought back at all the comments he had made about gay people over the years. At the time I thought he was funny, but that was then. Now was different.
“He’s just joking,” I attempted a forced laugh. “You know how Kenny is.” I pointed to the word, ‘fagot.’ “Dumb baseball player,” I said. “Can’t even spell the word right.”
Billy turned and looked me in the eyes. “Come on, Zac,” he begged. “Tell me what’s going on. Kenny hasn’t been around in days, and you’ve been acting really weird lately.”
I closed the email, walked over to my bed and sat down. Billy followed and sat down beside me. “Is it true?” he muttered softly. “Are you gay?”
I looked into his eyes. They were filled with brotherly concern. He had come to me when he had a problem and told me that he was gay. I just didn’t think I could bear to tell him the same thing about myself. Tears appeared in my eyes as I stared at him.
“I don’t know,” I said almost inaudibly. I looked away and wiped my eyes dry.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” He reached down and grabbed my arm gently. “Zac, talk to me, please? I know I’m only fourteen, but you can trust me.”
I laughed and got up off the bed. “I don’t even trust myself,” I replied sadly as I walked over and sat back down at my desk. He walked over and sat down beside me, turning his seat so he was facing me.
“Does this have anything to do with Adrian?” He stared into my eyes waiting for me to answer. “Is that why you were talking to Valerie?”
“I...I don’t know,” I mumbled as I stared at the blank computer screen.
He grabbed my shoulders and turned me toward him. “Talk to me, Zac!” he shouted into my face.
I wiped a few more tears from my face. “I think I’m gay, Billy.” I got up and walked back over to my bed. Again, he walked over and sat down closely beside me.
“You keep saying you think you’re gay,” he said. “Don’t you know?”
I remembered the events of the past week and laughed nervously. “Yeah,” I replied. “I guess I am gay.”
He started grinning. “This is kind of cool.” I gave him a puzzled look. “You know, me and you both being gay. Now we can talk to each other openly. I felt kind of weird talking to you about me and Lonnie.”
I looked at him and frowned. “Lonnie and me,” I said. I smiled when he rolled his eyes.
He sat up and looked eagerly into my face. “So, do you like Adrian or something? He’s hot!”
I let out a deep sigh. “I don’t know,” I confessed, “This is all so new to me.”
“Tell me,” he giggled. “I thought that you and Rachel were like,” he made a gesture with his fingers, “doing it.”
“No,” I replied sadly, “that didn’t happen.”
He leaned forward and looked at the closed door. I guess he was thinking someone was listening to us. “So, you’re like a virgin?” He whispered. My face began to redden.
“Billy!” I shouted as I got up, walked over to his bed, and sat down. He followed and sat down beside me. “I don’t want to talk to you about these things.”
“How do you know if you’re gay if you’ve never done anything?” I looked at him blankly. He was asking a question I had been asking myself for days. “If you and Rachel never did it, and you haven’t done anything with a guy, then how do you know you’re gay?” Again, I didn’t know how to respond.
“How do you know you’re gay?” I asked. It was his turn to blush. I smiled when I saw the embarrassed look on his face. “I know you and Lonnie have probably done something,” his face reddened more as he nodded slightly, “but how do you know you’re gay?”
“I don’t know.” He shrugged his shoulders. “I just know. I like messing around with Lonnie and I’ve never really thought about doing it with a girl.”
“Why do you think you’re gay?” he asked again.
I shrugged my shoulders. “Same reason, I guess.”
“So,” he asked. “If you’ve never done it with Rachel and you’ve never done it with a guy, then maybe you’re not gay. Maybe you should try doing something with Rachel first.”
I lay back on his bed and laughed. He looked down and gave me a puzzled look. After I finished laughing, I sat up and looked at him. “Do you promise on Grandma’s grave if I tell you something, you won’t tell anyone?” He pretended to spit on the palm of his hand and held it up to me. It was something we had been doing since we were little boys. It was our way of indicating we would keep a secret.
“I swear,” he said. He looked over at the closed door and leaned forward.
“Remember when you found the condoms Saturday?” He eagerly nodded his head. “Well, they were for me and Rachel. We were going to do it that night.”
“But you didn’t?” he asked. I shook my head. “Did she get scared or something?”
I started laughing. “It was more like or something.”
He again gave me a puzzled look. “I don’t understand.”
“Swear on Grandma’s grave again that you won’t tell anyone what I’m going to tell you.” He pretended to spit again on his palm and held it up to me.
“Rachel wanted to do it,” I confessed embarrassedly, “but I couldn’t.”
“So you chickened out?”
“No,” I said as my face turned redder. “I couldn’t do it.” He gave me a puzzled look, and then his face lit up when he realized what I was telling him.
“Oh!” He squealed. Then his expression saddened. “So that’s what has been wrong with you?” I nodded my head and walked back over to my bed. He followed and sat down beside me.
He sat on the bed thinking for a minute. He then turned to me. “So Rachel told Kenny you couldn’t do it,” he asked, “and now he thinks you’re gay?” I nodded my head.
I could tell he was deep in thought. He would stare across the room and then back at me. Finally, he said, “I don’t understand how Adrian fits into all this. Is he your boyfriend?”
I started laughing. “No,” I said. “He’s not my boyfriend.”
Billy turned and faced me. “But you like him?” He grinned, pretended to spit on his palm and held it up to me.
“Yes,” I laughed, “I like him.”
“He’s hot!” he exclaimed. “Does he like you?”
“I think so,” I said. “Valerie said he does.”
“She knows you guys are gay?” I laughed at the surprised look on his face. “So that’s why you have been talking to her?”
“Yeah,” I laughed. “She’s not as bad as you think.”
“I don’t know,” Billy said. “She’s still weird.”
“She thinks you are,” I laughed.
“She would,” he huffed. He then lay back on my bed and smiled at me. “This is kind of cool,” he said. “Me and you being able to talk like this.”
I lay back and looked over at him. “Yeah it is.” For a week I had worried about Billy finding out I was gay and how it could damage our relationship. Instead, it was creating a stronger bond between us. I jumped when he elbowed me and started giggling. I elbowed him back.
He then sat up and rested on his arm. “You know,” he grinned, “if you ever want to do something to see if you’re gay, Lonnie would have sex with you. He thinks you’re hot.”
“What!” I shrieked. “He’s your boyfriend. Besides, he’s only fourteen.”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Billy stated. “He’s just a good friend, we have fun together. Besides, we both agree we’re too young to be in a serious relationship. So if you want to do something with him, you can.” He started grinning, “He gives good…”
“Billy!” I shouted as I jumped up from the bed. “Would you shut up!” He lay back on the bed and started laughing.
I walked over to my dresser and took out some clean underwear. I wanted to take a shower before I went to bed. As I was heading to the door, Billy walked up to me.
“Zac.“ He held out his arms. I walked over and we embraced. “Thanks for trusting me.”
I kissed him gently on his cheek before heading across the hall with tears in my eyes.
Billy was asleep when I climbed into bed. I looked over at him and I still couldn’t believe what had happened earlier. I came out to my brother and everything was all right; actually better than all right. We had always been close, but now we seemed even closer. At least now, I didn’t feel I had to bottle up my feelings when I was in our room. I didn’t have to pretend things were all right when they weren’t. Billy understood.
And it all began with an email from Kenny. I wondered what he would say if he knew both Billy and I were gay. Billy was like a little brother to him. He and Billy shared an interest in baseball. To him, though, baseball players were real men- no sissies on his team. I had seen him run off several guys the past couple of years he thought might have been gay. “I’d ain’t getting naked in the shower with some fag watching me.” I used to laugh it off because Kenny was just being Kenny. But now things had changed. Kenny was an asshole. I just never saw it.
I still worried what he might do. He was an extremely popular athlete and many guys admired him. He could really make things tough for me in gym. Since baseball and track season usually coincided, there was hardly any way I couldn’t avoid running into him. I was also worried about Adrian. If Kenny even suspected that he was gay, he could destroy him with just a few words.
I was now out to my friends, or I should say to my former friends. However, according to Valerie, Adrian’s secret could never be revealed. Now I was faced with a new dilemma.
If Adrian and I became friends, then others would suspect that he might be gay. You know, that thing called guilt by association. Kenny would be watching me closely. Any guy who now talked to me, he would think they were gay.
So now one set of evils from the jar had been settled, but another set were about to be opened. How could I finish out my senior year without hurting others?
I looked over when I heard Billy rustling around in his bed. He rose up on his elbow to see if I was asleep. He then lifted himself up off the bed and pulled down his underwear. I rolled over on my side looking away from him. I stifled a laugh when a few minutes later I heard him moan, clean himself off and pull the covers back over him.
I waited about fifteen minutes to make sure he was asleep before I did the same. As usual, I fantasized about Adrian while I stroked myself. I imagined his hard cock deep in my ass as I shot cum all over my chest. After cleaning myself off, I fell asleep.
I grabbed a quick breakfast, a coffee and a bagel. Mom tried to talk to me, but I am not a morning person. When Josh and Brenda started arguing over a movie that they had watched the night before, I grabbed my book bag and headed out to my truck. As I was pulling out of the driveway, Billy came running out, yelling for me to stop.
“Hey!” He grinned as he jumped in. “Since Kenny isn’t riding with you any more to school, is it okay if I do?”
“I don’t know,” I replied as I looked over at him. “I don’t want to ruin my image by my little brother hanging out with me.”
He started laughing. “You don’t have an image.”
I reached over and hit him on his shoulder. “I’m a track star, remember? Marty’s says I might have a chance at being in the Olympics in a few years.”
“No shit?” Billy’s eyes widened. “Who’s Marty?”
“My new trainer,” I replied.
“Is he hot?”
“You have a one track mind, don’t you?” Billy started grinning.
“Yep,” he responded with a wide grin. “So is he hot?”
“Idiot,” I laughed.
As we pulled out of the driveway, he asked, “Can we stop by and get Lonnie? I already called him and told him to be ready.”
“Damn, Billy,” I moaned. “I can’t be seen driving into school with two underclassmen. Everyone’s going to talk about me.”
“I thought you were a star?” He shot back. “Stars can do what they want.” He laughed when I moaned and turned onto Lonnie’s street.
Lonnie couldn’t believe it when we pulled up in front of his house. He jumped up and down when he saw my truck coming down the street. When we pulled up, Billy got out and let Lonnie sit in the middle.
“Hey,” he smiled as he scooted over near me. After Billy got in, he turned to him and said, “This is too cool. We get to ride with Zac to school.”
“Don’t get used to it,” I said quickly. “I got ambushed this morning.” Billy looked at Lonnie and winked. We talked all the way to school. I forgot how much fun I always had with Billy. As I grew older and track demanded more of my time, we didn’t get to share as much time together. I think he felt the same way, because every time I would look over at him he would give me a wide grin.
I dropped them off in front of the building before parking my car. That way I wouldn’t have to walk through the parking lot with my little brother and his friend. Image, you know.
My morning classes were boring as usual. Senioritis was hitting everyone. Half the class hadn’t even bothered to show, and those that were present didn’t seem much interested in doing any work. Since I had all the credits I needed to graduate, I wasn’t too worried. However, since I was getting an athletic scholarship, I didn’t want to my GPA to suffer my last quarter of high school.
On the way to third period, I looked up and saw Rachel and Alise walking in front of me. They seemed to be in a serious discussion. I figured they were probably talking about me. I turned around and took a different stairway to class that almost resulted in me being late to class.
When I exited my fourth period, I looked around for Valerie. She had been waiting for me the past two days, so I figured she’d be waiting again. She wasn’t. However, as soon as I walked into the cafeteria, she shouted out my name and waved for me to join her and Adrian. I took a quick glance at the table where Rachel was sitting. Kenny, Alise and she stopped talking and glared at me.
“Hey,” I said nervously as I sat down. Adrian looked at me and smiled, and then he dropped his head and continued eating. “Let me go get something to eat.” I jumped up and went through the cafeteria line, getting my usual salad, apple and water.
When I returned, Valerie had moved to the other side of the table. She had put her books in the seat next to her, so the only place for me to sit was beside Adrian. I gave her a scowl when I sat down. She looked timidly at me and smiled.
Valerie and I chatted casually as if we had known each other for years. I couldn’t understand why Billy and his classmates didn’t like her. I found her extremely friendly and fascinating. It was true that she could talk about anything, but she didn’t seem to be arrogant about it. She appeared confident, which I guess could make immature teenagers feel intimidated.
When she finished eating, she looked at her watch and announced, “I’ve got to get to the library and do some work on the computer.” She looked at me timidly as I glared at her. I knew what she was doing. Even though she had told me she wasn’t interested in being a matchmaker, it seemed obvious that is exactly what she was doing. She kissed Adrian on the cheek and then hurried from the cafeteria.
We sat quietly for several minutes. I glanced over at my former table. Rachel, Alise and Kenny seemed to be having a serious conversation. When Kenny looked over at me, I quickly looked away.
“How’s baseball practice going?” I asked. It was silly for us to be sitting together and not talking.
“All right, I guess,” he responded as he glanced over at me. “How’s track?”
“All right,” I smiled. “Sometimes I feel like I’m just running in circles.”
“Me, too,” he responded sadly, until he realized I was making a joke. “Oh, I get it.”
We sat a few more minutes eating. We both kept looking out of the corner of our eye at each other. Since the incident in the restroom, there was an uneasiness. It was like the proverbial elephant in the room.
Adrian turned toward me and touched by arm. “Look, Zac,” he said. “I’m really sorry about what happened. I’ve never done anything like that before. I don’t know what happened. I’m sorry.”
There was a deep hurt in his eyes. I wanted to reach out and hug him, but we were in a crowded cafeteria. Besides, Kenny had been giving us quick glances. I guess he was trying to figure out why I had decided to eat with his ‘new’ friend.
“It’s okay,” I assured him. “Really. I’m not mad.”
He stared into my eyes, “Good,” he replied. “I was afraid it might ruin our friendship.”
“I’m eating lunch with you, right?” He nodded his head. “So, I’m not upset.”
“I was afraid you’d tell Kenny what happened,” he said as he looked at the table where Kenny was sitting. He gave me a puzzled look when I started laughing.
“Kenny is about the last person I’d talk to right now,” I told him.
“What happened between you guys?” he asked. “I thought you were best friends? The other day he tried to avoid speaking to you.”
“It’s a long story,” I sighed. “You’ll probably hear about it soon anyway.” He gave me a puzzled look. “Let’s talk about something else,” I suggested. We were entering dangerous territory. I knew Adrian would hear about the rumors soon. Now that Kenny knew I was gay, he would surely warn Adrian to stay away from me.
“How about them Jets?”
“News Flash,” I grinned. “Football season is over. You baseball jocks don’t know anything.”
“Hey,” he nudged me in my side. “I’m a football jock.”
“Even worse,” I replied. He nudged me in my side again. I looked at him and smiled. Again, our eyes met as we stared at each other. I couldn’t help it. Whenever he smiled at me, I was drawn to him. It was as if I had no control over who I was. He smiled and then looked away.
I don’t know why, but I felt the need to say, “Sorry.”
He looked over and smiled. “No, it’s all right, really.” We looked at each other and broke out in laughter.
“Why is it we’re always doing that?” he asked.
“What?” I asked.
“Apologizing,” he replied. “It’s like there’s this thing going on between us and we’re both afraid to accept it’s there.”
“So?” I asked. “You feel it too?”
His eyes darted around the room before looking into my eyes. “Yes,” he said softly. “Why do you think I wanted to kiss you?”
I turned and took a bite of my apple. “I wish we weren’t here,” I said without looking up.
I looked up and stared dreamily into his eyes. “Because I think I’d let you?”
His eyes widened. “Really?”
Just then, the bell rang. I picked up my book bag and looked over at Adrian. “Maybe I’ll see you later.” He nodded his head. “I’m doing some laps after school.” I reached into my book bag and ripped a piece of paper from a binder. After writing down my cell phone number, I handed it to him. “Call me later tonight. We’ll talk some more.”
He nodded and put the number in his pocket. We were walking side by side down the hall to class when Kenny rushed by. He pushed me with his shoulder into Adrian. If we hadn’t been near a wall, we would have fallen into the floor.
“What’s his problem?” Adrian hissed as Kenny looked back and gave me a smug smile.
“He’s a baseball player, remember?” I tried to make a joke of what happened but I was becoming increasingly worried what Kenny might do. I had been his best friend, but it appeared that I was quickly becoming his favorite enemy.
Without realizing it, I had walked Adrian to his classroom. It was just last week that I was walking Rachel to class and then running to make mine on time. He smiled when we reached the door to his classroom. “Well,” he said. “I’ll call you tonight.” I nodded and tore off to my class before the late bell rang.
Marty was waiting for me when I arrived on the track. A couple of other runners were standing with him when I walked up. One was Andrew Allen, a hurdler; the other was Chuck Rosewell, a long distance runner. Both were sophomores and new to the team. I had spoken to them a few times, but I didn’t know how good they were.
“Good,” he said with a smile. I guess he was glad to see that I was feeling better than I was the day before. “Let’s get started. Twenty laps.” Andrew and Chuck moaned.
“I thought you said we were going to condition?” Andrew asked. “We can always run laps.”
An angry look appeared on Marty’s face as he stepped directly in front of Andrew. “Are you questioning my training?” He barked at him like a drill sergeant. “I’m volunteering my time here, and I won’t have some runt complaining because he doesn’t like my methods. If you don’t like it, then run home to your mommy.”
“No, Sir,” stammered Andrew nervously as he gave Chuck a quick glance. “I just thought we would do more than run.”
Marty took a step back and softened his voice. “We will, Son,” he assured him. “I just want you to run to get loosened up.” He smiled at him. “When I get through with you this afternoon, you’ll wish you were running laps again.” He slapped him on his back and then ordered, “Now take off.”
I had been running behind them for about three laps when Marty suddenly appeared beside me. “How’s it going, Kid?” I laughed when he turned around and started running backwards.
“Not too bad for an old man, huh?” He laughed as he continued to run. After about a half lap around the track, he turned back and continued to run beside me.
“You seem more cheerful than yesterday.” I looked over quickly at him. He looked remarkably strong. Even at his age, he didn’t show any sign of tiring out.
“I do feel good,” I replied. “I came out to my brother last night.”
He grabbed my arm and stopped us. “Really?” He looked worried. “How did that go?”
“Great, actually,” I smiled. I took off and started running again. He caught up with me.
“So he was okay with it?”
“Yeah, I said.” I looked over so I could see his reaction when I said, “He’s gay, too.”
He grabbed my arm and stopped me again. “No shit?”
“Yeah,” I grinned. “He told me last week he was.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that yesterday?”
“Dunno,” I replied. “Didn’t come up.” I winked and took off running. I looked back and laughed when I saw Marty standing in the middle of the track scratching his head.
After running our twenty laps, Marty had the three of us doing exercises. Most involved building up the strength in our legs. He was right about one thing- about half way through, we were begging him to let us run laps again. I don’t think I had ever worked my body so hard. Muscles were hurting that I never even knew existed.
We were sitting on the grass in the middle of the track when Andrew and Chuck forced themselves up. Marty laughed when they walked toward the gym holding each other up.
“Lightweights,” he remarked. I fell back on the grass and moaned. I sat up when I saw him staring at something in the distance. It was Adrian. He was taking a seat on one of the spectator benches. When he saw me look over at him, he waved. I smiled and waved back.
When I looked back at Marty, he was grinning. “Boyfriend?” He looked back over at Adrian. “He’s attractive. Is he an athlete?
“Football,” I replied. “And now baseball.”
He looked at me. “You didn’t answer my question. Boyfriend?”
I shrugged my shoulders. “I dunno,” I replied. I looked back over at Adrian. “I think he likes me, but I’m scared to death.”
“What’s to be scared of?” Marty asked. “If someone that hot was interested in me, I wouldn’t be scared.”
“I thought you had a partner?”
“He’s fifty two, fat and bald,” Marty replied with a laugh. He looked back at Adrian. “I could only dream of someone like that. What’s his name?”
“Adrian Lewis.” As if he knew we were talking about him, he waved. Marty and I both waved back.
“Look, Zac.” Marty had a concerned look on his face. “Someday you have to take a chance.”
“I know,” I replied sadly. “But it’s so frightening. What if make a mistake?”
Marty scooted closer to me until we were face to face. “Did you ever see the show, Let’s Make a Deal?”
I nodded my head. “Of course,” I replied. “Why?”
“Think about life that way.”
“Like a television show?”
“No,” he sighed. “Like a choice of doors.”
“I don’t get it,” I replied.
“Okay,” he said as he looked around and found three stones and then laid them before me. “These are doors, all right?” I nodded my head.
“On the show they give someone a chance to choose a door. They can choose Door Number 1, Door Number 2 or Door number 3, right?” Again, I nodded my head trying to follow where he was going with this.
“Take Door Number One.” He pushed the first stone toward me. “You know what’s behind it because the host tells you. It may be something like a television and some furniture. It’s a safe pick. You can take it or another door.
“Now, Door Number Two.” He pushed the second stone in front of me. “He teases you. He may show you a set of luggage and then tell you something else is behind it. You just assume it’s a trip to Hawaii or some other place. It seems a safe pick, but you aren’t really sure. Now you can take it or go to Door Number Three.”
He placed the third stone in front of me. “This is the unknown one. He tells you that you can take one of the other doors or go for Door Number Three. It’s a mystery because you don’t know what’s behind it. But the exciting thing is, you want to know, right?” I nodded my head.
“So if you chose that door, there can be anything behind it. Money, a car, a boat…”
“Sometimes the prizes aren’t as good as the other ones,” I laughed.
“But that what makes it challenging, Zac,” he said excitedly. “Sure you don’t know, but you take a chance and chose the door hoping it will change your life.”
“What if I get a prize I don‘t want?”
“But you took a chance, right? And it was fun. That’s the way life should be. We should always be looking for Door Number Three. It’s what gives us hope and fulfills our dreams.”
He stood and held out his hand toward me. After helping me up, he looked over at Adrian. He patted me on my back and then gave me a gentle push. “Go open your Door Number Three.”
Adrian grinned broadly when I trotted over to him.