Kyle was watching television in the family room when the doorbell rang. He waited until the fourth ring until he got up to go to the door. When he opened it, Brad was nervously waiting.
“Is Melissa here?” he asked as he looked over Kyle’s shoulder.
“I’m not sure she wants to see you,” responded Kyle. Even though he had no idea what was going on, he knew that Brad must have been the mother fucker Melissa was referring to when she arrived home earlier. He had not seen her or his mother in over an hour, so he assumed they were still upstairs.
Brad pushed past Kyle. “I gotta see her,” he insisted. “Is she in her room?”
Kyle turned when he heard his mother descending the staircase. She scowled at Brad and said angrily, “You shouldn’t be here, Brad.”
“What’s wrong with Melissa?” he asked worriedly. “When she came to the car after practice, she called me all sorts of names, and then she slapped me.”
Mrs. Caldwell replied angrily, “If what Melissa told me is true, then she had every right to slap you?”
“Why? What did I do.” Brad asked as he gave Kyle a puzzled look. Kyle shrugged his shoulders. He was as much in the dark as Brad appeared to be.
He watched his mother’s narrow in anger as she asked, “Do you know a Joy Riddler?”
He quickly glanced at Kyle. “Yeah, sure Mrs. Caldwell. Everyone knows Joy.” Suddenly, he appeared extremely nervous. Someone must have found out about his secret affair with Joy, and Melissa must have heard about it.”
“It appears that you may know her a little more than others do,” replied Mrs. Caldwell sarcastically. Kyle stared at Brad as he was starting to understand what was going on. He, too, had heard the rumors, but he dismissed them because Brad didn’t seem interested in anyone but his sister. Now, he realized they must be true.
Brad pleaded, “Can I talk to her, Mrs. Caldwell? Please?”
Mrs. Caldwell took him by the arm and led him to the door. “I think it is best that you would leave our house now."
Brad stood on the porch and pleaded, “Please?” Kyle watched as his mother slammed the door shut.
She looked over at Kyle and ordered, “Come with me to the kitchen.” He followed her and then took a seat at the counter. His mother walked over to the refrigerator and took out two Cokes. She handed him one as she sat down beside him and asked, “Do you know this Joy Riddler?”
“Yeah, sure,” he replied. “She sits beside me in computer science.”
“Have you heard any rumors about this Joy and Brad?”
“Nope,” he lied. Actually, he didn’t know anything except for some whispers he had picked up in a few classes. Besides, high school was like middle school. It wouldn’t be any fun to attend if it wasn’t for some of the side attractions that occurred.
His mother then asked, “Do you know Beverly Mazer?”
Kyle thought a second before responding, “No, I don’t think so.”
“She’s one of your sister’s best friends,” informed his mother. “She told Melissa during football practice that Brad was having,” she paused. “Let me see, how should I say this.”
“Sex with Brad?” laughed Kyle.
“Well, yes,” she replied as her face reddened.
“Mom,” whined Kyle. “I’m sixteen. You don’t have to treat me like I’m five.”
His mother laughed and said, “I’m not.” She assured him. “I’m treating me like I’m five.” She took a sip of her Coke before continuing. “Anyway, Beverly told Melissa that her sister saw this Joy and Brad at the movies Sunday night, and...” she paused again, then continued, “let’s just say they weren’t exactly watching the movie.” She waited for Kyle to say something, but he didn’t know how to reply to what she had said. He didn’t really care because he knew that sooner or later Melissa and Brad would break up. Brad never seemed like the kind of guy who would settle with just one girl.
Kyle then asked his mother, “So what’s Melissa going to do? She seemed pretty mad when she came in the house.”
“Well,” his mother replied angrily, “she’s not going to be seeing Brad anymore.” She then reached out and touched his arm. “And I’d prefer that you not talk to him anymore, either.”
Kyle laughed and replied, “I never talked to him before.”
His mother got up from her chair. “I’m going to my bedroom. It has been a very trying evening, and I’m starting to get a headache.” When she left the kitchen, Kyle returned to the family room to watch the movie he had been watching earlier.
* * * * * *
“Jesus Christ!” shouted Andre as he lay on Buddy’s bed. “You actually saw two students fucking in the hall?"
“I told you I didn’t see them,” Buddy replied as he paced around the small room. He reached down and picked a tee shirt off the floor and threw it at his friend. “I only heard them having sex.”
Andre shrieked, “In the hall? Damn that took some balls.” He started to laugh. “I gave a guy a blowjob once in the bathroom, and I was scared shitless someone would walk in."
Buddy looked down and asked, “Who did you blow in the bathroom? You never told me.”
Andre smiled and replied, “Norman Bishop, in the seventh grade.”
Buddy squealed, “Norman? He weighed like three hundred pounds. Why would you give him head?”
Andre shrugged his shoulders, “He asked me to.”
Buddy laughed, “You’re a slut.”
“Like you’re not,” shot back Andre. “I heard all about you and Matt Harwell doing it in the bathroom at the mall.”
“We didn’t do anything,” insisted Buddy as his face reddened.
“Not what Matt said,” laughed Andre as he pushed his tongue against his right cheek.
“Okay,” replied Buddy as he sat on the side of the bed. “We’re both sluts.” Andre nodded his head. He then looked worriedly at Andre. “What am I going to do?”
Andre asked, “About what?”
“I don’t see where you do anything,” replied Andre. “You haven’t told anyone, have you?”
Buddy responded, “Of course not. But Brad is Kyle’s sister’s boyfriend.”
“So?” asked Andre.
Buddy shook his head. “I just don’t want to see Kyle hurt.”
Andre laughed and asked, “You got it bad, don’t you?”
“Yeah,” replied Buddy as he sadly shook his head. “I do.”
* * * * * *
The next day at school, Melissa’s breakup with Brad was the hot issue of the day. Most students weren’t even aware that Kyle was her brother, so they talked openly in front of him.
“I knew it wouldn’t last,” one girl remarked in his first period biology class. “Brad’s been a player since elementary school. “Poor girl was used.”
Kyle started choking when another girl said, “I heard she’s preggies. That’s why he dumped her.” He was pretty sure his sister wasn’t pregnant, but he would have to pry around when he got home to see if the rumor was true.
He saw his sister in the hall between second and third classes. She was surrounded by several girls who appeared to be giving her their support. He assumed that they were probably the club of broken hearts he had heard about.
He hated to admit it, but he was amused with his sister’s misfortune. Melissa was pretty and popular, and for years she had ridiculed him for not being more outgoing. “You’re a loser,” she would remark as she made an L with her fingers over her forehead. Now, he would at least have a comeback if she started in on him again.
When he entered his computer science class, another girl was sitting in his seat beside Joy. He felt awkward sitting beside her, but he was afraid he’d get into trouble if he moved from his assigned seat.
He approached the girl and announced timidly, “You’re in my seat.”
The girl stopped talking to Joy, looked up and replied sarcastically, “So? Go sit somewhere else.”
Kyle stepped away and looked for another seat. There appeared to be no one sitting beside a tall, brown-haired boy across the room. He walked over and asked, “Is anyone sitting here?”
“Nooo...” stammered Buddy.
Kyle sat down, opened his book bag and took out his book. Buddy glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. He couldn’t believe the boy he had fantasized about since the beginning of school was sitting beside him.
“He’s really cute,” thought Kyle as he casually looked over at Buddy. He thought they shared a few classes, and he remembered how embarrassed he had become in history class the day before when Mr. Peterson called on him to answer a question. He also recalled him looking up at him in the stands at the football game over the weekend.
The teacher handed out an assignment, and they began working on it. Buddy noticed that Kyle was having trouble finding an answer, but he was too shy to ask him if he wanted help. When Kyle finally appeared to become more frustrated, he nervously asked, “Do you need help?”
Kyle looked over and smiled nervously. “I think so,” he admitted as he stared into Buddy’s blue eyes. He looked away as Buddy pulled his seat closer to his.
Buddy’s voice cracked when he asked, “What don’t you understand?”
“This problem,” Kyle replied as he pointed to a question on the handout. Buddy noticed his long, delicate fingers. They were smooth and soft, unlike most boys their age.
Buddy pushed his paper over toward Kyle so he could see his answer. Kyle quickly copied it. When he was done, he moved his seat away. “Thanks,” he muttered softly as he began working on another problem. Dejectedly, Buddy moved further away and worked quietly for the remainder of the period. Neither he, nor Kyle, said anything.
When the bell rang, Kyle rose, looked down at Buddy and said, “Thanks.” Buddy nodded and watched as Kyle threw his book bag over his shoulder and walked away.
* * * * * *
When Buddy entered the trailer after returning from school, he could hear his mother in her bedroom with a man. He was grunting and hollering out obscenities as they were obviously engaged in sex. Buddy threw his books on the floor and left.
“Hey,” said Andre as he opened the door to the trailer next door. “What’s up?”
Buddy frowned and replied, “She’s at it again.”
Andre laughed and said, “Damn, Dude. You’re the one who should be getting laid all the time, not your mother.”
“Can I come in?” Buddy asked.
“Yeah, sure,” responded Andre as he stepped aside. “But I’m babysitting my sister’s kids while she goes for a job interview.” Buddy looked around the cramped living room. Two small toddlers were lying asleep on the sofa. Another child was watching cartoons on the television.
Buddy sat on the floor as Andre sat in a tattered chair. “I gotta get out of this hellhole,” remarked Buddy. “I’m sick of this shit."
Andre asked, “What are you going to do?” He looked around the trailer. “We were born here, and we’ll die here.”
Buddy looked up at his friend as tears formed in his eyes. “But why does it have to be like this?”
Andre shrugged his shoulders. “Gene pool,” I guess. “You’re daddy’s little squirt,” he laughed.
“Some squirt,” lamented Buddy. “I’m not even sure who my daddy is. He was probably some drunk Mom picked up at the restaurant, brought home and fucked one night.” He looked through the window at the blue trailer next door. “Like she’s doing now,” he remarked disgustedly.
Andre slid off the chair and sat beside his best friend. “It’s going to get better,” he said as he reached for Buddy’s hand and held it.
“For you maybe,” Buddy replied as he looked into Andre’s brown eyes. “You’ve got a boyfriend. He’ll be your ticket out of here.”
“I doubt it,” laughed Andre. “He has less money than we do.”
“It can’t get any less than that,” moaned Buddy. “Listen,” said Buddy as he rose to his feet. “I gotta get out of her a while.”
“Where you going?” Andre asked. “If I didn’t have to watch these kids, I’d hang out with you for a while.”
“It’s okay,” he replied. “I don’t know where I’m going. I just gotta get away.” He zipped up his torn jacket before heading out the door.
“I just gotta get away,” he said to himself as he headed down the sidewalk and out of the trailer park.
* * * * * *
Kyle was in his room playing one of the video games he had bought at the mall. It wasn’t fun to play alone, but he knew no one who he could call to come to his house to play with him. He had met a few boys at school, those he sat with at lunch; however, none of them he felt he would want as friends.
He put down the console and turned off the game. He then picked up his phone and out of habit, he started to speed dial Jordan. Whenever he got bored at his old home, he would call Jordan. Within fifteen minutes, Jordan would be walking into his bedroom.
However, it had been three weeks since he last talked to him. Even then, the conversation lasted only a few minutes. It had been a Saturday night, and Jordan said he was going out to a movie with friends. It appeared he had moved on. Kyle, though, still mourned for his best friend and lover once again.
Since it was a Tuesday night, he assumed Jordan would be in his bedroom watching television and doing his homework. He hesitated a moment before hitting the speed dial.
“Hey,” said Jordan as he answered the phone. Usually, he answered the phone cheerfully. Tonight, however, there was an edginess to his voice.
“Hi,” replied Kyle. “Are you busy?”
“No,” responded Jordan nervously. Kyle heard a slapping sound, and then he heard another boy giggle. Jordan then whispered, “Quit it.”
Kyle asked, but he already knew the answer. “Are you alone?”
“Um,” Jordan’s voice quivered, “Sawyer is here with me.” He paused a minute before adding, “He says, ‘Hi.’"
“Oh,” responded Kyle. Sawyer was a boy in their class who had been interested in Jordan since middle school. In fact, he and Jordan had joked many times about Sawyer’s infatuation. Now, he realized, their relationship was more than infatuation.
“You still there?” asked Jordan.
“I gotta go,” replied Kyle as he tried to hold back tears. “I have a shitload of homework to do before I go to bed.” He hung up, threw himself across the bed and cried himself to sleep.
When he went down to breakfast the next morning, his father was sitting at the counter reading a newspaper and sipping coffee. He looked up and smiled when he saw Kyle.
“Good morning, Son,” he said cheerfully. His father was still a very handsome man. He had turned forty on his last birthday, but he looked much younger. When he was home, he worked out in the exercise room downstairs at night. He had been a quarterback in college, and he had tried to get Kyle involved when he was in middle school. However, he never was interested in sports.
Kyle also never worked out like the others. Even Melissa joined their mother for nightly training sessions. He never felt like he needed to. He had inherited his father’s muscular physique, although he was smaller in build. His father was 6’2”. The last time he was measured for height in the eighth grade, he was 5’8”. He may have gained an inch or two since then.
His father put down the newspaper and looked over at Kyle. “How’s school going?”
Kyle walked to the pantry and took out a box of cereal. After getting the milk from the refrigerator, he sat down next to his father. “Okay, I guess,” he replied. “I’m having a little bit of trouble in algebra.”
“Algebra?” His father laughed. “Wait until you take trig and calculus.”
Kyle mumbled with a mouthful of Cheerios, “Let me get through algebra first.”
His father took another sip of coffee and then asked, “How’s everything else going?”
Kyle looked over and asked, “Like what?”
His father shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he replied. “Things.” When Kyle didn’t answer, his father stated, “Your mother is worried about you.”
Kyle rolled his eyes and looked at his father. “I’m all right, okay?”
Kyle became nervous when his father added, “She thinks you miss Jordan.” Kyle’s face reddened slightly as he attempted to ignore father’s comment. He had spent most of the night crying over his phone conversation, and he was afraid he might break down in front of his father if he continued to question him about Jordan.
“Well, do you?” Finally, his father asked.
Kyle attempted to act innocent when he responded, “Do I what?”
“Listen, Dad,” Kyle replied as he pushed his seat away from the counter. “I’m going to be late for school.” He walked over and kissed his father on the cheek. “See you when I get home.” He rushed from the room before his father could stop him.