I walked around in the drizzling rain for what seemed like hours. I wasn’t sure what the proper protocol was for this sort of thing. Since I’d never had an older brother, I didn’t know how long it would take before I could safely return.
When I did return, the door was slightly ajar. I slowly peeked in to see if the girl was still in the room. Travis was alone in his bed, and he appeared to be asleep. I quietly entered and began removing my clothing. With my boxers on, I climbed into bed. After lying down, I saw Travis sit up in bed.
“Sorry about earlier, Dude.” He apologized in a whisper. “I thought you would know what the underwear on the door meant. My brother and I used it all the time at home.”
“It’s okay,” I responded in a hurtful tone. I still resented him for making me stay out in the cold, drizzling rain for hours with nowhere to go.
“Well, anytime you want to get laid, do the same thing and I’ll know not to come in. Okay?”
“Just make sure it’s a girl,” he laughed. “I don’t want no homo shit going on in here.” He laughed again and lay back. A few minutes later, he was snoring loudly.
I hardly got any sleep. Travis’s loud snoring kept me awake most of the night. Every time I’d get close to falling asleep, he would dispel a loud burst and wake me up. By morning, I was ready to scream from listening to the irritating noise across the room.
I was also upset by his homophobic remark. I’m sure he suspected I was gay, although we’d only shared a few words. He probably discussed it with his parents when he escorted them downstairs yesterday. His father surely gave him some fatherly advice about sleeping with one eye open. However, the room was as much mine as it was his. If I wanted to entertain a male guest, which I was not even considering, then who was he to set the rules? The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. By morning, I had decided that I was not going to be ruled by Travis as I had been for years by my dictatorial father.
I awoke from a light sleep when Travis climbed out of bed. He was naked as he stood in the middle of the room and stretched. He looked at me as he did it. I think he was challenging me to stare at his nude body to see if I would react. I rolled over and turned away from him. A minute later, he left the room.
I climbed out of bed and went to the closet to find something clean to wear. It was a little past eight, and I had to meet Sydney downstairs so we could go to breakfast. After finding something suitable to wear, I stood in the middle of the room and removed my underwear. As I began to dress, Travis came into the room. He had taken a shower and still had a towel wrapped around his waist. He stopped when he saw me standing naked before him.
“Damn, Dude,” he remarked scornfully. “Ain’t you hit puberty yet? You still got the body of a little boy.”
I quickly put on my underwear, and I was reaching for my shorts when he grabbed my arm. “Didn’t you hear what I said? You look like a fucking girl.”
I turned and shouted, “Fuck you!” He balled his fist and approached me. I closed my eyes and winced, waiting for the blow. Suddenly, he backed away. I think he realized the consequence that he would have to pay if he hit me.
“Just stay out of my face,” he snarled as he dropped the towel and reached for a pair of athletic shorts lying on the floor from the night before. We occasionally exchanged angry glances as we dressed.
I hated him. He didn’t even attempt to get to know me. He had probably expected to room with a jock, someone he could share his sexual exploits with, perhaps to even share. I wasn’t someone with whom he could toss a football or stand in the shower and talk about baseball. We came from two different worlds. There was no way I was going to last the year rooming with Travis. I would be lucky to make it a week.
Sydney noticed my angry mood as soon as I walked off the elevator onto the first floor. “Uh, uh,” she quipped. “What happened?”
“I’m going to hate this fucking school,” I spat. “I wonder if it’s too late to transfer?” She grabbed my arm and led me outside into a cool, brisk wind. It wasn’t raining like the night before. I was still tired from spending a restless evening, and the cool breeze felt good on my face.
Sydney glanced over and asked, “Want to tell me what happened?” I sighed deeply, and then I told her about Travis’s first night tryst and his remark to me this morning. When I was finished, she was as upset as me.
“Fucking moron,” she said angrily. “Don’t worry,” she assured me. “Guys like him flunk out after the first quarter anyways. They come here to party and never study.”
“I won’t make it that long,” I replied. Just then, someone called out Sydney’s name. We turned to see a tall, lanky black girl running toward us.
“That’s Jade,” informed Sydney. “She’s my roommate. I asked her to join us, but she said she had things to do. I guess she changed her mind.”
Jade ran up, bent over and tried to catch her breath. “I’m getting too old for this shit,” she laughed as she stood and faced me. “Hi,” she extended her hand to me. “I’m Jade Hamilton, Sydney’s roommate.” Her eyes scanned my body before she looked over at her roommate. “He’s cuter than you said he was.” I glanced over at Sydney, and she smiled slightly as her face reddened.
Jade took my hand and started leading me away. “You’ll get used to me.” It surprised me when she grabbed Sydney’s hand and held it while we walked. Several students noticed us, but no one seemed to care.
I immediately liked Jade. Besides being pretty, she was witty and extremely funny. I was jealous of Sydney because she seemed to have been paired with the perfect roommate. Even though they had only met a day earlier, they appeared to have known each other for years.
We went to a pancake house for breakfast. Sydney and I sat together, and Jade sat across from us in the booth. After ordering, she immediately began to tease us. “So have you two set a date for the wedding?”
“What?” I was taking a sip of coffee and almost spat it across the table.
Jade started laughing. “Sydney couldn’t stop talking about you last night.” She winked playfully at me. “I think a June wedding would be perfect.”
“Jade!” shouted Sydney. “Would you stop it!” Sydney’s face was turning a bright red.
Jade sat back and smiled. “Well, he is a cutie. If I swung that way, I might be interested.”
I had just taken a sip of coffee and began to choke. Sydney patted me on my back until I could breathe normally again. Jade laughed as I wiped coffee from my chin. “Sydney told me you were gay, Dorian. I just wanted to get everything out in the open so we can all be good friends.” She reached over and took my hands in hers. “You are cute as hell, though.”
Breakfast was entertaining. I couldn’t remember being so open before. It was exactly what I needed after my horrendous night. We spent two hours talking about ourselves and getting to know each other. I already knew about Sydney’s brother, but I wasn’t aware that her parents were separated. Her father was an electrical engineer who had met a younger woman and was now living in Seattle with her two children. She said she was still dealing with it, but attending college would give her a chance to focus on other things.
Jade and I shared a similar past. She came out to her family when she was thirteen. Her father was a minister, and he rejected her as a daughter. She said her life was miserable after that. She said dinnertime was especially bad because he would say grace and always end it with her repenting someday of her sinful ways. She had two older brothers who also shared her father’s sentiments.
However, she was strong-willed, and she refused to let their prejudices determine her outlook on life. She always tried to discover the good nature of people to counter the negative attitudes of her family. I admired her for that. While I had become a recluse at home, she had involved herself with life. Not only had she graduated as valedictorian of her senior class, she had been a student member of the Board of Education, starting forward for the girls’ basketball team and editor of her school newspaper. By being valedictorian, she had received a four-year scholarship to the university. She explained she was not trying to brag about her accomplishments, but rather to point out that it was important to rise above adversity. In one morning, she had made more of a positive impact on me than anyone I had ever met in my entire life.
I was last to describe my background. Sydney and Jade listened attentively as I told them about my authoritarian father and how I’d withdrawn from life. Tears filled our eyes as I told them about how lonely I had been for years. They seemed surprised when I told them how I felt my appearance was a curse, and how little confidence I had in myself. When I finished, I was embarrassed because, unlike Jade, I had never taken a stand to make my life better. I had acquiesced to my solitary life, and I was now hoping to make a new start.
Jade seemed surprised when I finished. “As cute as you are, and you’ve never had a boyfriend?” I shook my head.
“I don’t find myself all that cute,” I stated sadly. “I’m short, thin, and I have a body of a twelve-year old. That’s what Travis said this morning.”
“Who’s Travis?” Jade asked. I then explained what had happened since his arrival. I told her about the girl in the room and how I had to spend the night in the rain. She became livid when I told her about his homophobic attitude just an hour earlier.
“You’d better be careful, Dorian,” she warned. “Guys like him can be dangerous.”
“I know,” I replied.
“However,” she said. “The main reason I came here was because they have a very supportive policy concerning students with different lifestyles. They won’t put up with any shit. They also have a very active LGBT organization, too.” Her eyes lit up as she looked at Sydney and me. “I was going to join it. Why don’t both of you join with me?”
Sydney jumped at the opportunity. She said it would help her better understand her gay brother. She couldn’t wait to call him and tell him. I was a little more hesitant about the prospect of joining a gay group. I feared I would be outing myself to Travis and other students. I didn’t know if I was yet ready to do that. Another reason I didn’t want to join was because my father was running for reelection. Even though I hated him, I didn’t want to be an embarrassment to him if it was discovered that I was active in a gay organization. He was, after all, one of the most important members of the state. He would be running for his fourth term, and there had been rumors that he was on a short list as a vice presidential running mate. I could become a delicate situation for him to explain.
Of course, when I tried to explain my fears to Sydney and Jade, they tried to assure me that I was now a man and could make my own decisions. Jade insisted that coming out would be the first step to building self-confidence. She seemed pleased when I told her I would think about it. She looked over at Sydney, smiled and said, “He’s going to do it.”
So at breakfast, I acquired two friends- two good friends. As we walked back to the dorm holding hands, I felt like I had known them all my life. Perhaps, my life would have been different if I had.
Travis wasn’t in the room when I returned. The room was a shambles, though. In one day he had managed to turn it into a pig sty. His clothes were all over the floor, and several beer cans were on top of his desk. It appeared he’d had some of his buddies in before he went out, probably to play football again. I didn’t know if I should tidy the room up for fear that he would get mad if I had touched his personal property. However, I refused to live the rest of the year in a messy room. I kicked his clothes into the closet, took the beer cans and deposited them in a trash container in the hallway.
Since no one seemed to be around, I decided to take a quick shower. The water was warm so I remained longer than I had the day before. I had my head back letting the water flow comfortably down my face when I heard the door open. A minute later, a guy walked naked into the shower area. He was large and beefy with a ruddy complexion. I averted my eyes from him as I turned and shut off the water.
I heard him say, “You don’t have to go, Cute Thing.” I quickly glanced at him. He was stroking his small cock in an attempt to make it hard. He laughed loudly as I wrapped my towel around my waist and fled from the room.
I got up early the next morning to go to the administration office to register. I was to meet Sydney in the lobby at 8:00. We were going for a quick breakfast before we had to attend an orientation meeting.
Travis was sleeping when I climbed out of bed. He had come staggering into the room around 2:30 and plopped down in his bed without even undressing. He was snoring loudly as I dressed and left the room. At first, I thought I should wake him so he wouldn’t be late for registration, but I figured if he’d been concerned then he wouldn’t have spent the night drinking with his buddies. If he missed his scheduled appointment, then he would have to suffer the consequences, which meant most classes would be closed, and he would have to take those that no one else wanted.
Jade was waiting with Sydney when I exited the elevator. As the day before, she was smiling broadly. She hugged me and kissed my cheek when I approached.
“There’s my little brother,” she exclaimed cheerfully as she wrapped her arms around me.
“What?” I laughed as I stepped back and looked at the color of my arm. “I don’t think so,” I laughed.
“Forget it, Dorian,” explained Sydney. “You’re all she talked about last night. She’s adopting you as her little brother, so you might as well get used to it.”
“That’s right,” remarked Jade as she grabbed my arm and started to lead me from the dorm. “Get used to it, Cutie.”
Breakfast was as enjoyable as it was the previous day. We went to a Dunkin Donuts. We got coffee and a dozen crème doughnuts and then went outside to eat. The sun was shining brightly and students were already scurrying down the sidewalk. Most students had arrived over the weekend and were busily preparing for the opening classes on Wednesday. Freshman had to attend orientation sessions where we would be assisted in selecting classes. From looking over the class offerings, it appeared my freshman year in college would be nothing more than another year of high school. Since I was a liberal arts major, I was required to take core classes.
When we arrived at the building for our orientation, we were divided into groups and assigned a room number. Jade and I were in one group while Sydney disappointedly had to join another. We were taken to a large computer lab where we would register online for our classes. There were several people standing around whom I assumed would probably assist us.
After sitting down, a large man asked us to get quiet. He introduced himself as Dr. Swanson. He said he was the assistant dean of the university, and he would be in charge of our orientation session. As he began to speak, a student entered the room and handed him a piece of paper. After reading it, he looked out over the room and asked, “Is there a Dorian Gale present?”
Jade glanced over at me. My face began to redden as I stood. “Yes, Sir,” I responded timidly.
He then announced, “You’re to accompanying this young lady.”
“Where to?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said sharply. “Just do it quickly.” I glanced over at Jade before gathering my materials, putting them into my book bag and leaving the room. Once in the hall, I asked the young girl who appeared old enough to be a senior where we were going.
“To President Avery’s office,” she informed me as she quickened her pace. I almost had to run to catch up with her.”
“Why are we going to his office?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’m only an assistant. They just told me to come get you.” I tried to think of what I had done wrong since arriving. I saw Dr. Avery’s name in most of the material I had read. He had been president of the school for over fifteen years, and he was described as a pioneer in the field of higher education. Enrollment had doubled during his tenure.
I followed the assistant to the third floor of the administration building. She directed me to Dr. Avery’s office where I was introduced to his secretary. She asked me politely to have a seat in a large leather wingback chair. I looked around nervously as I waited for him to see me. I still couldn’t think of anything I had done to warrant a visit to his office. Besides, I thought, doesn’t the Dean of Students usually handle disciplinary problems?
After waiting for about ten minutes, the secretary led me down a hallway to the President’s office. He was standing at the door waiting for me. He was tall, square-jawed with grey, thinning hair. He looked very authoritative in his dark blue suit. His countenance reminded me of my father. “Dorian Gale,” he remarked enthusiastically as he shook my hand. “It is an honor to have you attend our school.” He pointed to another leather chair facing his desk. “Have a seat.”
He sat down and shuffled some papers on his desk. He then looked at me and smiled broadly. “Dorian Gale,” he said again in a reverent tone. “Senator Jonathan Gale’s son. What an honor.”
Suddenly, I realized why he wanted to see me. I was a trophy student, like the star quarterback signing to play for the school. I was a senator’s son, another achievement for his professional portfolio. He opened his desk drawer and handed me a packet in an ornate binder.
“What’s this?” I asked as I opened the binder.
“It’s your schedule,” he informed me. “Everything has been taken care of for you. I’ve seen to it that you have been assigned the best professors. I think you will be very happy with the selection. I’ve also provided you with the names of top-notch graduate students who will tutor you in case you have any problems in your classes. We here at the university want to make sure your educational experience is an enjoyable one.”
I thumbed through the papers and looked at the courses he had selected for me. As I did, rage began to build up inside me. I stood and faced Dr. Avery. “Why are you doing this?” I asked angrily, “What if I wanted to select my own classes?”
His smile quickly changed to one of astonishment. “What on earth do you mean, Dorian? You have a remarkable schedule. I have personally taken care of it.”
“But why?” I asked indignantly. “Because I’m a Senator Gales son?”
“But of course,” he replied. “You’re not just an ordinary student. Your father is one of the most important men in this state. He has worked effortlessly to make this university one of the best schools for higher learning. Through his leadership in the Senate, he’s helped the school attain hundreds of millions of dollars through grants and other legislative actions.”
“I’m not my father,” I replied rudely as I laid the binder on his desk. His eyes narrowed in anger. “I’ve done nothing to deserve this. Thank you, but I would rather make it here on my own.” I hurried from his office before he could stop me.
On the way back to the registration building, I was seething with anger. Not once in the past few years had my father noticed my existence. He hadn’t even attended my high school graduation. My mother had come alone. Now, however, I was a means to attain the perks he probably thought he deserved for the work he had done for the university. One of the things I had hoped to accomplish by leaving home was taking control of my life. I didn’t want him or my mother involved in my decisions anymore.
As I approached the registration area, my cell phone rang. It was my father. I hesitantly answered it. “What the hell is going on?” he shouted into the phone. “I was interrupted in the middle of a foreign relations committee meeting. Dr. Avery said you were very rude in his office.”
“I just wanted to make my own schedule,” I responded meekly into the phone. Even though I had decided to make my own decisions, it was easier to do when I thought about it. Confronting my father who I had feared for years wasn’t quite as easy.
“Bullshit!” he barked. “Dr. Avery is an old friend of mine, and he went out of his way to make sure you’re being taken care of properly. Now, you take your insolent ass back to his office and apologize, or I’ll be down there this afternoon and drag your ass to his office and make you do it!” he shouted. “Do you understand me?”
I knew he meant it. After being a senator for over twenty years, he was used to having his way. No one ever refused to do what he wanted him or her to do. If he said he would get in his car and come see me, he would. He would probably bring along several state patrolmen just to intimidate me even more.
“Well?” he screamed. “I’ve got to get back to my meeting. I don’t have time to deal with this bullshit.”
“Yes, Sir,” I replied timidly. He hung up the phone.
I reluctantly made my way back to Dr. Avery’s office. I was sure he wouldn’t be happy to see me again. If my actions before had warranted an immediate call to my father, then I’m sure he had been offended. He was sitting at his desk when his secretary led me to his office. He had an angry scowl on his face as he handed me the ornate binder.
I knew he expected me to leave, but I sat down in the leather chair. “I’m sorry, Sir,” I apologized. I was trying to seem as remorseful as possible. I had decided on the way to his office that if I had to submit to their authority, then I could play the game to get what I wanted out of it also.
His scowl turned to a warm smile. “It’s quite all right, Dorian,” he remarked. “Your father and I are only doing what we think is best for you.”
“Yes, Sir,” I remarked agreeably. “Could I ask one favor of you?”
“Of course,” he smiled. “Anything for Senator Gale’s son.”
“Well, Sir,” I began. “I made two good friends yesterday, and I think I would do much better if they were in my classes to help me. Is there any way they could get the same schedule as me?”
“That would be no problem,” he replied with a smile. “Just give me their names and I’ll take care of it.”
“Sydney Newcombe and Jade Hamilton.”
I went to my dorm room when I left Dr. Avery’s office. Thankfully, Travis wasn’t there. He had probably gone to the orientation. He did leave the room a mess again. I usually like to make my bed when I get up in the morning, or at least throw the covers over so it looks more presentable. I wouldn’t be surprised if Travis had never made his bed or put away his clothes. The room looked like it had the day before when he left. After tidying up a little bit, I sat down and looked at the schedule Dr. Avery had prepared for me.
I had three classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He had enrolled me in English 101 from 9:30 to 10:30. My next class wasn’t until 1:00. It was Sociology 101. My last class of the day was Math 201 at 3:00.
On Tuesday and Thursday, I had two classes. Unlike the other classes that ran an hour, they were an hour and a half. At 8:00, I had Modern Biology. I didn’t mind the early start; however, I probably wouldn’t have time to eat breakfast on those days. Then at 1:00, I had World Civilization.
Looking over the schedule, it didn’t seem much different from being in high school. All the classes looked boring, but at least none appeared too difficult. I’d been a pretty good student throughout high school. I wasn’t a straight A student, but I did manage to make good grades. I guess if I had applied myself better, as my mother was always harping, I would have probably done better.
I started to go online to find out what books I would need for my courses when my cell phone indicated I had a text message. It was from Jade.
Meet us downstairs Lil Bro