“Artie!” My mother shouted. “Get up or you’ll be late for school.”
I moaned and covered my head with the pillow. I dreaded going back to school. After what happened in the restroom on Friday, and then my debut appearance on the late night news that night, going back to school was something I wanted to postpone forever.
I hadn’t slept at all. Different scenarios kept running through my head. I think before my mother hollered out my name, I had conceived every imaginable name calling, shoving and beating that could occur. I had to sit up for a while during the night when I started seeing Brent in those visions. I was scared that he would also be hurt by some homophobic boy like Cal.
I jumped when my mother knocked on my door. “Artie, get out of bed. You’ll be late for school.” She slowly opened the door, and then walked across the room and sat down beside me.
“I know today will probably be one of the worse days you’ll ever experience,” she remarked. I pulled the cover back and peered out with one eye.
“You really think so,” I said sarcastically. Suddenly an idea crossed my mind. I sat up quickly in bed. “I know!” I said excitedly. “You can home tutor me. You’re pretty smart.”
She looked down at me and smiled. “Just pretty smart? That didn’t sound like much of a compliment.”
“Come on, Mom,” I whined. “Let me stay home and you can tutor me here. Kids do it all the time.”
“Hmm,” she held her hand to her chin as if in thought. “That sounds reasonable. I can give up my job and stay home with you. Of course, with no money, it means we’ll have to live in a box and beg for food when you’re not studying. Go ask Randy if that’s alright with him. He’ll have to pull his weight, too.”
She said it so convincingly, I thought for a minute she was serious. I then decided I’d play along also. “Randy!” I hollered. “Come in my room. I have something to ask you.” My mother reached out and tried to cover my mouth, but not before Randy came running into the room in just his underwear.
“What, Artie?” In one leap, he was lying across my bed looking me in the face.
“Mom and I just had a good idea,” I said evilly, looking at my mother out of the corner of my eye.
“Randy.” She patted him on his bottom. “Go get dressed for school.”
“But Randy didn’t ask me anything yet.”
“He’s going to be asking to do your chores around the house in just a minute.” She gave me a look like the game was over. Randy got up and ran out of the room.
“Seriously, Mom. I can’t go back there. Everyone’s going to give me a hard time.” I lay back down and pulled the covers back over my head.
“Of course they will,” she replied as she pulled the covers away from my face. “It won’t be easy, but the best thing to do is ignore them. If you react, then they will know they’ve gotten to you and it will only make it worse.”
“I’m not that strong,” I insisted.
“Yes, you are,” she responded as she brushed her hand through my hair. “Look how much you’ve had to deal with lately. This is just another hurdle you’ll have to jump over.”
“What if someone pushes me, or tries to fight with me? I can’t ignore that.”
“If someone tries to intimidate you or gives you a hard time,” she suggested, “then go to the office and talk to the principal. When I take you to school this morning, I’m going to talk to Mrs. Martinez.”
“What if someone hits me?”
“Then hit them back,” she replied angrily. I looked at her in disbelieve. My mother had preached nonviolence for as long as I could remember. I got in a small fight with another boy when I was in the fourth grade. He had pushed me and I pushed him back. The teacher only saw me retaliate, so she thought I had been the instigator of the fight.
She called my mother and told her what happened. When I got home that night, she made me sit down and write five reasons why fighting is a bad thing. Afterwards, we sat and talked about it for a half hour. I never hit anyone again.
“You always told me not to fight,” I reminded her.
“I’m not telling you to fight now,” she insisted. “I’m telling you to defend yourself if you must. There’s a difference. You can’t let someone just hit on you and not try to protect yourself.”
“But I don’t know how to fight, since you’ve never let me,” I said sarcastically.
“Then do this.” She stood up and started swinging her arms wildly. She reminded me of a windmill. I fell back on the bed and laughed loudly watching her circling her arms in every direction.
“They’ll think I’m crazy.” I managed to gasp out between laughs.
“That’s the idea,” she said as she started swinging wildly again. I again fell on the bed and howled with laughter. It was just what I needed to ease some of the tension I was feeling about going back to school.
She dropped Randy off at school, and then we drove over to mine. I felt embarrassed walking into the school with my mother at my side. Since it was only a few minutes before the start of school, many students watched us walk to the office.
Once inside, we had to wait for about twenty minutes before we were able to see Mrs. Martinez. It was actually the first time I had ever spoken to her. I’d seen her walking around the halls, but I was just another unknown student, or so I thought.
She smiled at us when she walked out of her office. “Hello, I’m Mrs. Martinez.” She extended her hand to my mother and me.
“And you are Artie Thomas?” she asked. “I’ve enjoyed reading some of the wonderful stories you’ve written for the school newspaper. You’re very talented.” I stood and looked at her in amazement. I couldn’t believe she actually knew who I was.
The next ten minutes were very embarrassing. It was extremely humiliating to listen to my mother talk about me kissing another boy at school, and then asking the principal to help protect me from the reaction of other students.
She asked, “Who is the other young man involved?”
“Do I have to tell you?” I looked pleadingly at my mother.
“I can’t protect him, if I don’t know who he is.” I hung my head and had to decide if I wanted to out him. I figured she’d probably hear the rumors and would know by lunch anyways.
“Brent England,” I whispered almost inaudibly.
“Brent England!” She said rather loudly. I looked up and couldn’t believe the stunned look on her face. “He’s such a quiet young man. He has one of the highest grade point averages of anyone in the school. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him talk to anyone the past two years.” She got up from her desk and walked out into the main office. I watched out the door as she went up to the secretary and said something to her. A minute later she picked up the phone and called someone. After hanging up, she came back into the room.
She and my mother talked casually for a few minutes until the school secretary entered, followed by a very frightened Brent.
“Sit down, Brent.” Mrs. Martinez pointed to a chair along side her office wall. He picked it up and placed it beside me, and then hesitantly sat down.
Mrs. Martinez looked at him and spoke in a motherly tone. “Artie and his mother have explained to me what happened on Friday morning. Before I proceed, would you like me to call your mother and father and have them present?”
Brent looked at me and then at my mother. “No, Ma’am. I feel safe with Mrs. Thomas here.” My mother started smiling. She reached over and patted Brent’s hand as she attempted to comfort him.
“Before we begin, I’m going to tell you what I’d tell a boy and girl who would be brought to my office for demonstrating their affections in public. This is a place of education. You are here to learn, not to make out.” I looked at Brent and his face turned a bright red. I think mine was shining just as brightly.
She warned, “Another incident will get you a night of detention.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about that,” I said quickly. “We learned our lesson already.”
“I’m sure you have,” smiled Mrs. Martinez, as she observed our embarrassment. She looked over at my mother and gave her a wink.
“Now, I’m not going to anticipate a lot of trouble here,” she continued. “I know how high school students are. There’s going to be some gossiping, and I’m sure there will be some rude stares and comments. You’ll just have to learn to ignore them. Students are going to talk, and you definitely gave them plenty to talk about. You’ll have to deal with the consequences of your actions.”
We both nodded our heads.
“However, there is a zero tolerance for sexual harassment. That applies to gay students as well as towards girls. If you feel that any student crosses the line, then you come see me. If anyone touches you or makes sexual advances to you, you tell a teacher immediately. I also want to know if any student tries to bully you. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” we said in unison.
“This will probably blow over soon,” she assured us. “You’re not the first students to come out at school, and Lord knows you won’t be the last. The best thing to do is just try to ignore most of what you hear. If you react, it will only add more fuel to the fire.”
“My mother said the same thing earlier today,” I said. Our eyes met and my mother nodded her head.
Mrs. Martinez looked at Brent and asked, “Are your parents aware of what happened?” He hung his head and nodded.
“What about Jared?” Again, he nodded his head.
“Good,” said Mrs. Martinez. “I’m sure he’ll be keeping a watchful eye on you then. Now remember, come to me if you feel you’re being threatened.”
She wrote Brent and me passes to class while my mother stayed and talked. I learned later that Mrs. Martinez was concerned how my father’s arrest had affected me. She even pulled up my grades on the computer to see if they had dropped. Fortunately, I had managed to keep up with most of my school work.
Mrs. Martinez was right about rude stares. When I entered my first period class, the teacher stopped lecturing and I noticed everyone begin to talk in hushed tones. When I sat in my desk, the guy sitting next to me moved further away.
“I ain’t sitting next to a fag,” he muttered under his breath. I pulled out my book and tried to catch up on the work I’d missed, but it was hard to concentrate. Every time I looked around the room, someone was turned in their seat staring at me.
When the bell rang, the boy who had called me a fag rushed past me, pushing me against my desk with his shoulder. I sighed, knowing it was going to be a very long day.
A strange thing happened on the way to third period. A guy came up from behind me and shoved me into a locker. As he walked away, another student came up behind him and pushed him up against a locker and said something to him. He nervously nodded and then hurried away.
I recognized the student who had come to my aid. He was Isaac Norman, an offensive tackle on the football team. He was a large guy, weighing at least 230 pounds and over 6 feet tall. I had interviewed him for a sport’s article last year. He looked over at me and nodded before walking away.
I jumped when someone came up beside me and grabbed my arm. “Hey,” said Amber. “How’s things going?”
“I’ve had better days,” I replied.
“You have nothing to worry about,” she said. I turned and gave her a questioning look.
“Yeah, right,” I responded. “You’re not the one being called the school fag.”
“Don’t sweat it,” she insisted. “No one’s going to bother you.”
“What makes you say that?” I couldn’t understand why she was feeling so confident.
“Jared’s got your back,” she stated. “He’s put out the word. If anyone fucks with you or Brent, then they have to deal with him and the entire football team.”
“Are you kidding?” I asked unbelievingly. Now I understood why Isaac had threatened the kid who pushed me earlier. As we walked to class, I noticed that students would move away and let us pass. It also appeared that many students had stopped staring at me like I was some kind of sideshow.
Third period went without any major incidences. I noticed one student sitting a few desks away from me give me a snide look and then flip me off. The student behind him, a member of the football team, smacked him in the back of the head and then whispered something in his ear. The guy then looked over apologetically and nodded.
When the bell rang for lunch, I walked cautiously down the hallway. I wasn’t sure if anyone would say something to me or push me against a locker. I felt safer when Derrin Bailey, the center for the football team, stepped up and walked beside me. Neither of us said a word, as he escorted me to the cafeteria.
Brent entered at the same time I did. I gave a sigh of relief when I saw two linebackers walking behind him. Like me, I guess he had his personal escorts.
“Hi,” he smiled. “Am I glad to see you. I’ve been worried about you.”
“I was worried about you, too,” I replied, “but I see Jared has taken care of things.”
“Yeah,” he giggled. “I tried to tell him we didn’t need it, but he insisted.”
“Well I like it,” I said. “At least now I don’t have to worry about you getting hurt by someone.”
“I can take care of myself.” He held up his arm and showed his small arm muscle. He worked out a lot, but he still didn’t have the kind of body that would remotely intimidate someone. I giggled when he puffed out his chest.
“Come on, Hercules,” I laughed. “Let’s get something to eat.”
Amber and Linda were sitting at the table waiting for us. Several students stopped eating and stared at us as we walked across the cafeteria, but no one said anything.
“Do you guys realize how popular you are?” Amber asked when we sat down.
Brent seemed surprised. “Popular? How can we be popular?”
“Jared’s gotten out the word that no one is to say anything to you guys.” She hit her left hand with her right. “Or else.”
“Now everyone is wondering who will be the first to break the rule and get their ass kicked by the football team,” laughed Linda.
Just then, Jared walked up to the table. He was followed by four other team members. The cafeteria became eerily quiet. He stood and looked threatening across the cafeteria.
“How’s it going, Guys?” He asked loudly enough so that most students sitting nearby could hear him. “Anyone giving you any trouble?” Again, he scanned the cafeteria. I saw Mrs. Martinez standing in the doorway smiling appreciatively. I guess she was happy that Jared was making her job a little easier.
After another glance around the room, he sat down beside me. “Hey, Artie.” He smiled and threw his arm protectively around me. “How’s your day been?”
“Not bad,” I replied. “Thanks.”
“No problem, Buddy,” he responded. “Let me, or one of my boys, know if anyone messes with you.” He got up and walked over to Brent and ruffled his hair.
“Later, Guys.” It seemed like every eye in the cafeteria was on him as he walked away.
“See,” whispered Amber. “I told you. Jared’s intimidated the shit out of everyone in the school. You guys don’t have to worry about anything.”
We sat and talked casually. It seemed like a lot of pressure had been lifted from our shoulders. I no longer had to fear other students reacting angrily towards me or Brent.
“I’ve got something to ask you,” said Amber excitedly. “I’ve been dying to know all weekend.”
“What?” I asked.
“Did you guys really do it Saturday? I know you did.”
“Amber,” squealed Brent. “You can’t ask us that.”
“See,” said Amber turning to Linda. “I told you they did. If they hadn’t, they’d have said no.”
I looked at Brent and he was blushing brightly. If Amber and Linda weren’t sure before, they certainly knew now because of Brent’s embarrassed reaction. They started laughing.
“Come on, Artie,” huffed Brent. “Let’s get out of here.” This caused the girls to laugh even harder.
As we left the cafeteria, two football players got up and followed us out. “I don’t mind them being around,” remarked Brent when he noticed them following us. “But it’s sure going to prevent us from doing anything.” He looked at me and wiggled his eye brows.
“You can’t be serious, can you?” I responded excitedly. “After what happened Friday?”
“I can’t help it,” he replied. “Whenever I’m with you, I want to touch you, kiss you.” His face began to redden. “You opened up Pandora’s Box.”
“More like Pandora’s dick,” I giggled as I looked down at his obvious erection.
He quickly turned and spoke to the two football players following behind us. “Artie and I have to use the restroom. Would you watch the door and make sure no one comes in for a minute?”
“Sure, Kid,” said Bert Sullivan, a tight end. Ryan Baker, a defensive lineman. After entering the restroom, Brent peeked under the stalls to make sure we were alone.
“Come here, you.” He pulled me into him and kissed me. I could feel his erection rubbing against my leg. I reached down and cupped it in my hand. He let out a gasp, and then bit down on my lip.
“Ouch,” I yelled, jumping back as I checked my lip to see if he had drawn blood.
“I’m sorry,” he apologized. “I wasn’t expecting you to grab me.”
“Did you like it?” I giggled, reaching out and rubbing his hard cock. He moaned as I rubbed it more vigorously. Suddenly, his eyes widened and he bolted for a nearby stall. I started laughing when I saw his pants drop. A few seconds later, he let out a loud moan.
When he emerged a minute later, his face was flushed. I leaned up against the wall and roared with laughter.
“You didn’t just jack off into the toilet did you?” I howled.
“Shut up,” he replied indignantly. “It’s not funny. You made me do it. Just wait. I’ll pay you back.”
“Mmm,” I said, as I pulled him in and kissed him once again. “I can’t wait.” He reached down and started stroking me, but someone started knocking on the door. Cautiously, Bert opened the door and peeked in.
“You guys better get out of here,” he warned. “Mrs. Martinez is patrolling the halls.” It was a known fact that she would walk unannounced into the boys restroom to catch smokers. She said she had a husband and three boys at home, so she wasn’t going to see anything she hadn’t already seen. She always ended by saying, “But probably smaller.” This usually brought laughter from the guys who were standing at the urinals.
We rearranged ourselves and then exited the restroom. Bert and Ryan looked suspiciously at us as we walked out.
“Will you guys do us a favor and watch the door while we go in for a minute?” I looked over and noticed a surprised look on Brent’s face.
“Sure, Guys,” I said.
“Knock twice if Old Lady Martinez comes down the hall,” said Ryan. They quickly disappeared into the restroom.
I asked Brent, “You don’t think?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Do you think they’re doing what we just did?”
“You mean jacking off into the toilet,” I giggled.
“No,” he said embarrassedly. “Kissing each other.”
“Wouldn’t that be weird,” I said. “Two members of the football team being gay.”
“Why?” Brent replied. “There are gay guys every where.”
“I know,” I replied. “But Bert and Ryan?” Both guys were extremely large and rough looking. It was hard to imagine them kissing each other.
Just then the door opened and they emerged. Their faces were flushed. I looked down and saw that both of their pants were tented. They had definitely done something that aroused them.
“What?” Bert asked defensively when he saw me staring at his erection.
“Nothing,” I responded embarrassedly. Ryan threw his arm around my shoulder and began laughing.
“You’re not the only two around, you know.” He started laughing as he and Bert headed down the hall. They turned and laughed harder when they saw the stunned looks our faces.
“Come on, Guys,” Bert laughed. “We got to get to class.” Just then the bell rang. Bert escorted Brent to class, while Ryan walked beside me. He stopped me before I entered my class.
“Listen, Artie.” He had a serious expression on his face. “Bert and I are on the DL. No one but you guys know. I’d kind of like to keep it that way. Okay?”
“Don’t worry, Ryan,” I assured him. “Your secret is safe with us.” He patted me on my shoulder and walked away. I felt happy knowing there was another gay couple in our school.
I watched him walk down the hallway to his class. Before entering my room, I noticed Cal leaning up against a locker staring at me. Chills rushed through me from the cold stare he was giving me. For an instant, I once again began to worry about Brent’s and my safety.