Buddy entered Mr. Peterson’s American history class and quickly glanced over at Kyle. He was hoping he could make eye contact with him, but Kyle had his history book open. It appeared he was trying to read what had been assigned for homework.
The night before, he had promised Andre that he would make an attempt to talk to Kyle. If nothing else, he told him he would just say hello. He couldn’t understand why the dark-haired boy had caught his imagination. There were hundreds of good-looking boys wandering the halls, but only Kyle drew his attention.
He was cute. But then again, half the boys surrounding him in class were equally as cute. However, something about Kyle was different. He noticed him the first day of classes. In fact, they shared three classes together. Besides American history, Kyle was also in his Algebra I class and computer science. In history, Kyle sat two aisles away. However, Buddy had a good view of him. He had made sure the second day to sit so he could observe him unnoticed. In algebra, fate had been kind to him. The teacher assigned seats the first day, and he sat beside him. However, Kyle had yet to look at him and speak. In computer science, students shared a computer table, but Kyle sat with Joy Riddler. Even though she was very attractive, he had yet seen Kyle say anything to her. That fact only reinforced his perception that Kyle might be gay. Any other boy would have given his right nut to sit beside Joy, a varsity football cheerleader.
“Mr. Ryder?” Buddy froze when Mr. Peterson called out his name. He had been daydreaming, and he hadn’t heard the question that had been asked in class
He embarrassedly asked, “Yes?” He looked around the room as students stared at him. He was particularly humiliated because Kyle had turned to look.
Mr. Peterson made his way down the aisle and stood before him. “The question was,” he said with a hint of irritation in his voice, “What steps did the Pilgrims make to insure their success in the New World
“Um...” stammered Buddy. The class erupted when he replied, “They had the first Thanksgiving?” His face reddened when Mr. Peterson looked down, shook his head and headed back to the front of his class. It didn’t help when he glanced at Kyle and noticed him giggling at his answer.
He heard someone behind him mutter, “What a dumbass.” Without turning around, he knew the comment had come from Stewart Armbruster, class bully. If Stewart knew the answer to Mr. Peterson’s question, then Buddy realized just how ridiculous his answer must have sounded.
‘I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life,’ Buddy thought to himself. For the first time since school had begun, Kyle was aware of who he was. ‘Now, he must think I’m an idiot,’ moaned Buddy.
When class ended, he hurried down the aisle toward the door. As he approached, Kyle stepped up beside him and slightly smiled. Buddy quickly exited, hoping he didn’t walk into the door and further humiliate himself in front of the boy he admired.
Later that evening, Andre came to visit as he normally did after dinner. “Well?” he asked Buddy as he sat down on his bed. “Did you talk to your Loverboy?” Buddy fell back on the bed and covered his head with his pillow.
“Not quite,” he mumbled into the pillow. “But I did get his attention.”
Andre asked excitedly, “How?” He fell back on the bed beside Buddy and howled with laughter when Buddy told him what happened in his history class.
“You’re a dumbass,” remarked Andre as he playfully slapped Buddy.
Buddy responded, “That’s what Stewart called me.”
“Damn, Dude,” laughed Andre. “If Armbruster calls you a dumbass, it doesn’t get any lower on the food chain than that.” He laughed louder when Buddy again placed the pillow over his head and moaned.
Andre stood and walked over to a stack of CD’s strewn on top of Buddy’s old dresser. “Let’s listen to some music,” he remarked as he fumbled through the CD’s. He started laughing, and he held one up and showed it to Buddy. “Remember this one?”
Buddy looked up and smiled when he saw Madonna’s image on the cover. Andre took the cd from the case and put it into Buddy’s cd player. Soon, the room was vibrating to the beat of the music. Andre pulled Buddy to his feet as Madonna starting sing.
“God it’s been ages since we danced to this,” exclaimed Andre as he began dancing.
“Vogue, vogue, Vogue, vogue, Go with the flow.”
He grabbed Buddy’s waist and tried to get him to dance. “Come on, Baby,” he laughed.
“Come on, Vogue, Let your body move to the music.”
Andre giggled when Buddy began dancing. Soon they were dancing as they had when they were little boys. “Remember when we were ten and saw her do this on MTV. You had to have it.”
“Yeah,” laughed Buddy. “You went to Kmart and stole it. You almost got your ass arrested.”
Andre laughed and said, “It’s a good thing that security cop had eaten too many doughnuts that morning. His fat ass couldn’t catch me
“Look around. Everywhere you turn is a heartache. Everywhere you go, you try everything you can to Escape the pain of life you know.”
They continued to dance in the small, cramped room, flailing their arms and mimicking the moves they had danced to so many times as kids.
“All you need is your own imagination,
So use it that's what it's for.
Go inside for your finest inspiration Your dreams will open the door.”
“You go, Girl!” Andre laughed as Buddy posed seductively and licked his lips
They jumped when Buddy’s mother hollered out, “Turn the fucking music off! I’ve got company!” Andre hurried to the dresser and quickly turned off the player.
Buddy walked over to this bed, dropped down on it and covered his head in his hands. “When will this shit ever end?” He looked at Andre with misty eyes. “When will I escape the pain of life?”
When he fell back on the bed and started crying, Andre leaned over, scooped his disheartened friend into his arms and whispered in his ear, “Just hold on, Baby. Someday your dreams will open the door.”
* * * * * *
Kyle smelled bacon as soon as he left his room. That meant that his mother must be home. Usually, when she finished prosecuting a big case, she would spend several days at home before taking on another. Kyle had learned it was out of guilt because she had abandoned Melissa and him for months. One advantage of her guilt, though, was that it usually meant a trip to the mall. He always kept a list of the latest video games he wanted to purchase for such an occasion.
His mother turned and smiled when he entered the kitchen. “Good morning, Dear,” she cooed as she turned from the stove and kissed him on the cheek. Kyle wiped his face and sat down on a stool at the counter. “I’ve made you breakfast."
“Oh, darn,” he said sarcastically. “I was looking forward to a cold bowl of cereal.” Mrs. Caldwell laughed and started humming a tune as she finished scrambling eggs in the skillet.
“How’s school going?” she asked as she placed several slices of bacon on his plate. “Are you adjusting to the new school?”
“It’s school,” he remarked as he took a bite of the bacon. “What’s to adjust to?”
She placed eggs on his plate and asked, “Have you made any friends yet?”
“Yeah, sure,” he replied as he picked at the eggs with his fork.
His mother poured a cup of coffee and sat down beside him. “I worry about you, Kyle.” She looked worriedly at him and gripped his hand. Kyle immediately pulled away.
“Why do you worry about me?” he asked sarcastically. “You should be worried about Melissa.” He knew his mother was aware of his sister’s relationship with Brad. He just didn’t know if she was aware of just how close they were.
“Melissa can take care of herself,” she responded. “But I worry about you.”
“Where’s Dad this week?” Kyle asked, hoping to change the subject. His father had left over the weekend with his luggage. He had been home for two days, and most of it had been spent at his office.
“He’s in Seattle,” she informed him.
She laughed when Kyle asked, “What’s he doing there?”
“Oh, no you don’t,” she laughed. “You’re dealing with an attorney. I’m not that easily distracted.” He grimaced when she put her hand on his face. “You’re growing up so fast. It just seems like yesterday you were a little boy.”
“Like you would know,” he responded as he pushed her hand away.
When tears welled up in her eyes, Kyle regretted getting smart with her. “Maybe I haven’t been the best mother in the world,” she remarked sadly, “but you’ve never been neglected. I’ve tried hard balancing my career with being a mother. It hasn’t been easy.”
Kyle looked sympathetically at her. “I know, Mother. I’m sorry.” He looked down at his plate before she could see the tears forming in his eyes.
He didn’t pull away when she placed her hand on his arm. “Is everything all right? I know it was hard on you when we moved. Do you still talk to Jordan?”
Kyle bristled when his mother mentioned Jordan. Jordan had been his best friend whom he left behind when they moved to Center City. In fact, he was more than a best friend. At the age of thirteen, they had secretly become boyfriends. Their sleepovers had become more that just friends spending the night together. Over the two years, their playfulness had turned to love. Just the mention of Jordan’s name brought an insurmountable wave of sadness to Kyle.
“Let’s run away,” Jordan had suggested the night before Kyle’s move as they sat on the side of the bed trying to figure out how they could be together. “If we go somewhere where no one can find us, then we can be together forever.” He leaned over, grabbed Kyle around the neck and began to cry uncontrollably.
“I’ll find a way to come back,” Kyle tried to reassure him. “We’ll still be together someday, I promise.” He lifted Jordan’s tearstained face and kissed him passionately.
Jordan gripped him tighter. “No, we won’t,” he cried. “You’ll move away and find someone else to love.”
“No, I won’t,” cried Kyle. “I promise.” That night he passionately made love to Jordan. Silently, he prayed it would not be for the last time.
However, now weeks had turned to months, and the phone calls and emails were becoming less frequent. Even though Kyle still longed for his friend, he knew that Jordan was moving on with his life. Now, if only he could.
He was brought back from his reverie when his mother squeezed his arm. “You would tell me if something is bothering you, wouldn’t you Kyle?”
“Of course, Mom.”
“I just wish you’d find someone again,” she remarked. “You seem so alone anymore.” Kyle looked into his mother’s eyes and wondered just how much she knew about him.
They turned toward the door when Melissa entered. “Morning,” she mumbled as she sat down and took a sip of orange juice.
“Good morning, Sunshine,” Mrs. Caldwell sang out as she got up to prepare a breakfast plate for her sleepy daughter.
Kyle rose from his chair to go to his room. Before leaving, his mother stopped him. “Remember what I said, okay?”
“Sure, Mom,” he replied as he hurried from the room.
* * * * * *
During his fifth period literature class, Buddy asked the teacher if he could be excused to go to the bathroom. She hastily wrote him a pass and reminded him he had to return within five minutes. She never paid attention how long a student was out of the room, as long as it wasn’t obvious they had been gone too long. As he strolled down the hall to the restroom, he heard giggling coming from under the staircase ahead.
A female voice urgently warned, “Hurry up before we get caught.”
“I’m almost ready,” announced a boy’s voice. Buddy stopped to listen, because it was obvious two students were engaged in sex. He was curious who the two might be. He also wanted to act as a lookout in case a teacher or administrator came down the hall.
Suddenly, the boy softly moaned, “I’m cumming.” Buddy reached down and adjusted his growing erection. When he heard the rustling of clothes, he quickly walked away so they would not know that he had heard them.
When he heard the girl giggle, he turned to see who they were. The boy was Brad Chambers. The girl was Joy Riddler.
Buddy stopped when Brad hollered out, “Hey!” He approached Buddy with his fists clenched. “Were you watching us?"
“No,” stammered Buddy. Brad looked into his scared face and knew he was lying.
Brad grabbed his shirt and pulled him toward him. “If you say anything to anyone,” he threatened, “I’ll fucking kill you.” He slammed him back against the wall. “Got it?”
Buddy didn’t reply as he turned and hurried down the hall.
* * * * * *
When Kyle left school at the end of the day, his mother was waiting outside in her Range Rover. She honked the horn and motioned for him. “Where’s your sister?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “I don’t see her at school. Why?”
“We’re going to the mall,” she announced. She then took out her phone and called Melissa. “Where are you?” She frowned as Melissa told her that she was going to the football stadium to watch Brad practice.
“Well, be home in time for dinner,” she said before hanging up. She then turned to Kyle. “I guess it’s just you and me.”
His mother tried to probe more about what he was doing at school. He knew she was just in her mother mode for the day. Tomorrow, she would be engrossed in whatever case she had been assigned. At least he could use it for his advantage and get the latest video games he’d been wanting.
“Mom,” he whined. “School is school. It hasn’t changed since you were a girl.”
“What?” she laughed. “You’re not going to kid me about attending a one room school house?”
Kyle looked at her questioningly and asked, “What’s that?” His mother laughed louder.
He hated taking the trips to the mall with his mother. He wished that Melissa had joined them, so he could at least sneak away for an hour. However, his mother insisted that he stay and give his opinion of clothes she tried on inside the boutiques she drug him into.
“How’s this look?” She asked as she posed in a grey dress. His mother was a beautiful woman, and he thought she could wear a burlap bag and look good in it. She was taller than most women, and she looked ten years younger than she was. She kept in shape by exercising religiously each night in the exercise room in the basement.
“Just great, Mom,” he said nonchalantly when he looked up. Another shopper walked over and began telling her how wonderful the dress looked on her. Kyle rolled his eyes. He knew it would be an hour before he could finally escape the store.
Forty-five minutes later, they left the store with Kyle carrying three shopping bags. Kyle turned left, knowing that was the direction of the video game store. When they approached the store, his mother sat on a bench, opened her purse and handed him her credit card.
He asked, “What’s this?”
She laughed and said, “I know what you’ve been wanting all afternoon. You’ve been patient with me, now go buy your video games.” Kyle turned and headed toward the store. “No violent ones,” she hollered out as he walked away.
When he returned a half hour later, he handed her the credit card and receipt. “Three hundred and sixty dollars!” she squealed as she looked at the amount of Kyle’s purchase. “What did you do, buy out the store?”
“Nope,” he replied as he held up the bag. “I only got six games.”
“I only got six games?” His mother asked. “What do they teach you in school?”
Kyle giggled, held up the games and replied, “Supply and Demand Economics.” She popped him on the head when he added, “You supply the money to meet my demand.”
“Smartass,” she remarked as they walked away. As they walked through the mall, Kyle followed his mother into a Starbucks. She ordered an iced coffee for her, a strawberry Smoothie for Kyle, and two blueberry scones. He trailed behind as she walked through the restaurant and sat at a table facing the outside.
Kyle became uneasy as his mother kept looking over at him. “What?” he finally asked.
“Nothing, Dear,” his mother replied as she took a sip of her drink.
“No,” he insisted. “You have that look when you want to ask me something but you’re afraid to.”
She turned, stared into his face and asked, “Are you happy, Dear?”
“Are you happy?” she asked again.
“What makes you think I’m not happy?”
“It’s my job to be able to read into people’s expression,” she replied. “I’m a prosecutor, remember? If it’s about Jordan...”
“Mom!” Kyle interrupted her. He didn’t like the direction the conversation was taking. He had suspected the past year that his mother knew about his and Jordan’s relationship, but he wasn’t prepared to talk about it inside a Starbucks.
“Look,” he insisted. “I’m sixteen. What sixteen-year-old is ever happy?”
“I know, but...”
“I’m okay, Mom!” Kyle shouted. He quickly looked around the room to see if anyone had heard his outburst. He stood and looked down at his mother. “Can we just go home?”
They rode in silence. Kyle thought of confirming her suspicions that he was gay. He knew that she was giving him the opportunity to do it, but he wasn’t ready. He was already heartbroken over leaving Jordan. He wanted to be emotionally prepared when he did sit down with her. Right now, he was afraid he might break down if he started talking about Jordan. Telling her would have to wait until another day.
He was in the kitchen helping his mother prepare dinner when they heard the front door slam shut. Seconds later, they heard Melissa shout out, “I’m going to get even with the mother fucker!” They then heard her storming up the steps to her room.
“Oh, Dear!” His mother exclaimed as she removed her apron and hurried from the room.