I waited nervously in the family room watching television with Josh while Mom and
Dad remained in my room with Billy and Lonnie. I couldn’t believe that they had
been so careless as to make-out in front of Mom and Brenda. Everyone just got
carried away to the music. Even Mom was having fun until she saw what they
Josh came over to the sofa, lay down and put his head in my lap. “Where’s
Mommy?” He curled up as I gently stroked his head. It was something Mom
usually did at night to get him to go to sleep.
“Talking to Billy,” I said nonchalantly. I didn’t want him to become suspicious.
At twelve, I’m sure he had heard the word, gay, playfully bantered about by his
friends. I knew that soon I’d have to sit down and discuss it with him. As he
began to fall asleep, I silently wished that he were straight. I wasn’t sure how
Mom and Dad would react if they had three gay sons.
After about forty-five minutes, Dad walked Lonnie to the door. They stood talking
quietly for several minutes before Dad patted Lonnie on the back as he left. He
then came into the family room and motioned for me to join him out on the deck.
I gently removed Josh’s head from my lap, got up and joined him outside.
As he had when he discovered I was gay, he was standing by the swing smoking
a cigarette. He took a final puff and flipped it into the neighbor’s yard. He then
looked up at me.
“How long have you known?” We sat down in adjoining swings.
“About two weeks,” I said. I looked over at his face. He appeared tired. He had
spent the past week dealing with me, now he had to deal with Billy. Suddenly, I
felt sorry for him. I realized how hard it must be to be a parent sometimes.
“Your mother and I suspected it,” he said as he lit another cigarette. “We were
just waiting to see if it was a stage he was going through.” He looked over at me
sadly and shook his head. “I really don’t know how these things work.”
“Who does,” I laughed nervously.
“It’s just strange.” He appeared to be talking more to himself than me. “We have
six children and two are gay.” He chuckled to himself. “Well, the verdict is still out
on Brenda and Josh.”
“Are you upset?”
“No,” he shook his head. “Your mother and I will handle it. Sometimes life doesn’t
go the way we expect it to.”
“Yeah,” I replied. He got up and waited for me to get off the swing. He threw his
hand around my shoulder as we headed for the house. Before going in, he
“Zac,” he spoke in a serious tone. “You’re the older brother. Protect Billy. He’s
young. I know you don’t have all the answers, but he looks up to you and
“I’ll do my best, Dad.” He put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it.
“I know you will.” When we entered the house, he headed toward to the family
room. I peeked in and saw Mom sitting on the sofa. Josh was asleep with his head
in her lap as she gently stroked his head.
Billy was lying on his bed reading a comic book when I entered. I went over and
flopped down on my bed. He got up, came over, and lay down beside me.
“What happened?” I asked. Since I had already talked to Dad, I knew that things
hadn’t been too bad for him.
“I got The Talk,” he said as he held up his fingers and made a quote sign.
“Were they upset?”
“Naw,” he said. “They told me they thought I might be gay. Mom was pissed
because Lonnie was doing what he did in front of Brenda.” He lifted his head and
looked embarrassedly at me. “They wanted to know what we’ve done so far.”
“Did you tell them?” I still couldn’t believe that I was nineteen and Billy was only
fourteen; however, he was the one who was sexually active.
“Not really,” he replied. “I kind of lied and told them we’ve just played around a
little.” He lifted himself on his elbow and looked pleadingly at me. “You won’t tell
them me and Lonnie have sucked each other’s dicks, will you?”
“Jesus, Billy,” I laughed. “I told you I don’t want to know these things.” I
remained silent for a minute before asking, “What about Lonnie? Is Dad going to
talk to his father?”
“I don’t think so,” replied my brother. “Lonnie told him he’d already talked to his
parents about being gay, so I think he’s going to leave it alone for now. He
warned us if he catches us doing anything again, he’ll have a talk with them.”
“You’d better be careful,” I warned.
“Well,” he added. “You don’t have to worry about the knock twice and wait thirty
“Dad said we have to leave the door open when we’re in here alone.” He started
grinning mischievously. “I guess I’ll be spending more time over at Lonnie’s
“You’re a perv,” I laughed.
“Yeah,” he giggled. He moved around on bed, laid his head on my stomach and
looked up at the ceiling. “Zac?”
“Do you think it’s wrong?”
“You know,” he let out a sigh. “Being gay?”
“No,” I replied assuredly. “Do you?”
“No,” he answered. “It’s just who I am.” I reached down and gently stroked his
head as I had with Josh earlier. “This is nice,” he purred like a kitten.
I then removed the chain with the rainbow pendant from around my neck and
handed it to him. “What’s this?” he asked as he twirled it in his fingers. I watched
as he read the small engraving of the word, proud.
“I want you to have it.” I took it from his hands and placed the gold chain around
his neck. We remained silent for several minutes as I continued to run my hand
gently over his head.
“I love you.”
“Ditto, Little Brother.”
I got out of bed the next morning after Billy left the room. We chatted while he
was getting dressed and he hinted a couple of times about me taking him and
Lonnie to school. I felt guilty making them walk when they looked forward to
riding in my truck. “What’s so important about image?” I thought as I dressed
quickly. “Family is more important.”
His eyes lit up when I walked into the kitchen and announced I would take him to
school. He immediately got on his cell phone and called Lonnie. When I sat down,
Mom placed a large plate of bacon, eggs and toast in front of me. “Eat up, Zac,”
she insisted. “You’re too skinny. People will think we don’t have any money to
I started laughing. “I’m a runner, Mom. People expect me to be skinny. Besides,
have you ever seen a fat runner?”
She stood over me and looked down at my body. “Well, you don’t have to be so
skinny.” I took a couple bites of bacon, and then pushed my plate over to Billy
who quickly forked the remaining food onto his plate.
Dad came to the table, sat down and opened the newspaper as he does every
morning. He usually doesn’t say much until after he’s had his morning coffee. I
thought it was strange that nothing seemed to have changed. Within a week,
they had discovered that two of their sons were gay, yet they went about as if
nothing had happened. I thought how lucky Billy and I were to have such
accepting parents. I only wish that Adrian’s parents would be as supportive.
“Daddy?” Everyone looked over at Josh. He usually said very little at the table.
Being the youngest, it was hard for him to sometimes to join in on our
conversations. My father put down his paper and looked at him.
He cast his eyes downward at his plate and mumbled, “Never mind.”
“What’s wrong, Josh?” My mother asked worriedly.
He looked back at my father and stammered out, “Umm, umm, do you think I
could have a cell phone?” He then looked back down at his plate.
“Why?” My father asked. “You’re only twelve. Why would you need a phone?”
His face began to redden. “There’s this girl at school. Her name is Stephanie.” His
face turned even redder. “And she said if I had a phone, I could, umm, like call
Billy started giggling. “Ohhh!” he shrieked, “Joshie’s got a girlfriend!”
“Do not!” Josh squealed back.
“Do too!” Billy replied.
“Boys!” My father yelled trying to stifle a laugh. He looked over at me and winked.
“I think if Josh wants a phone, then we can work something out.”
“Really!” Josh squealed. “I can have a phone?”
“I think we can manage that,” he said as Josh started bouncing in his seat. “But
we’ll talk about the responsibilities of you having one. One, you can’t talk to this
Stephanie until after you’ve done your homework.”
“Okay, Daddy!” Josh jumped up, ran over, and gave our father a big hug. Dad
looked at me and winked again. I think he was relieved that Josh was interested in
calling a girl. If Josh had asked at that minute, I’m sure Dad would probably have
bought him a car to take her on a date.
“We’ll go get you one when you get home from school.” Josh hugged him tighter.
The rest of the breakfast conversation centered around Josh’s phone. Mom and
Dad went over the rules of being responsible enough to have one. Billy and I had
heard the same lecture when they gave us our phones.
When Billy and I pulled up in front of his house, Lonnie ran out and jumped in
beside Billy. He was still excited about what had happened the night before and
wanted to know what happened after he left. Billy turned and proudly showed him
the pendant I had given him.
“Cool!” Lonnie said as he examined it. “Where’d you get it, Zac? I’m going to
have Mom buy me one, too.” I told him about Irene and the kiosk in the mall. He
said he was going to get one so he and Billy would have matching necklaces.
When I dropped them off, they entered the building side by side as they always
did. It was as if nothing had happened the night before.
I went to a Starbucks and got a cup of coffee. I was bored and there really wasn’t
anything to do. I didn’t want to go home because no one was there and I didn’t
feel like watching television or playing video games. I had completed all the
homework assignments Valerie had given me from my teachers.
I waited around until ten o’clock when the mall opened. I thought I would go visit
Irene and see if she had another rainbow pendant. I was going to surprise Lonnie
“Hey!” She smiled when I walked up. The mall was empty since it was early, so
we stood around and talked as we had the day before. She told me more about
her girlfriend and how much she missed her.
“What are you doing Saturday night?” she asked. “Want to go to a movie?”
I pretended to get out an appointment book and thumb through it. “Let me see,”
I said as I turned imaginary pages. “Saturday night?” She giggled as I continued
to turn pages. I looked up and smiled. “Seems like I’m free.”
“You’re crazy,” she giggled. “I can pick you up at six and we can go out and get a
bite to eat before we go to the show.”
“I have a truck,” I said. “I can pick you up.”
“I asked you out,” she giggled, “so I get to pick you up. Besides, I want to meet
your family. From what you’ve told me, they seem like wonderful people.”
“Okay,” I laughed. “It’s a date. But don’t be surprised if Mom asks you a million
“She can’t be any worse than mine,” laughed Irene.
“Don’t bet on it.” I watched as Irene looked behind me and started smiling.
“Omari!” She said excitedly. I felt my heart stop when he walked up beside me
and patted me on my back.
“Hey,” he said. “I’m surprised to see you here again.”
Irene gave us a puzzled look. “You two know each other?”
My face reddened when Omari looked at me with his beautiful brown eyes and
winked. “We’ve met.” Irene kept looking back and forth between us. I knew when
she gave me a mischievous grin what was coming next.
“Are you busy Saturday night, Omari?” I attempted to shake my head slightly,
but she grinned and looked at him. She took my arm and held it. “Zac and I are
going to a movie. Would you like to join us?”
His eyes lit up as he stared at me. “I’d love to,” he announced.
I felt trapped as Irene and Omari made plans. She was going to pick him up at his
apartment, and then come to get me. Not only did I have to explain to my
parents why I was going out with a girl five years older than me, I would also
have to explain why I was going out with an extremely handsome guy.
Omari looked at his watch and announced he had to get back to work. After
giving Irene a hug and patting me gently on my back, he turned and walked away.
“You can thank me later,” giggled Irene.
“I’m not looking for a boyfriend,” I insisted.
“God, Zac,” she replied dreamily as she watched Omari walking down the aisle of
the mall. “If I was straight and someone as knockout gorgeous as Omari showed
the slightest interest in me, I’d be all over his body.”
“You’re a bigger pervert than my brother,” I laughed.
“Seriously, Zac,” she said. “Omari is really into you. Didn’t you see the way he
looks at you? He told me yesterday about this guy he met. He said he really liked
him. When he walked up a few minutes ago and looked at you the way he did,
then I knew it was you he was talking about.”
“So you just had to ask him to join us Saturday night?”
“Well, duh,” she giggled. “Like I said, you can thank me later.”
“Well, like I told you,” I warned. “I’m not looking for a boyfriend.”
“Sure,” she said sarcastically. I spent another half hour talking to her. She also
had a matching rainbow pendant for Lonnie. She even gave me a fifty percent
discount when I told why I wanted it. When the mall began to get more crowded
and people started to walk up to the kiosk, I decide to leave. I made sure I left
the mall without Omari seeing me.
I awoke the next morning around 4:30. It’s amazing I got any sleep at all.
Fortunately, after jacking off around one I was finally able to get a little bit of
sleep. It was Friday morning and soon I’d be returning to school for the first time
since my suspension. I didn’t know what to expect.
Well, I did know what to expect, I just didn’t want to think about it. The guys
stopping by my house two nights ago helped. I knew I wouldn’t have any
problems on the track, but in the halls and classrooms might be different.
Everyone now knew I was gay. Billy had hinted to me a couple of times that
people were talking about it. He said he was doing what I asked him to do- ignore
“Good morning, Dear,” my mother sang out when I entered the kitchen and sat
“You look like shit,” Billy announced as he looked over at me. Josh giggled when
Mom took off her slipper and threw it at him.
“Do you kiss your mother with that dirty mouth?” She tried to sound serious, but
started laughing when Billy got up and planted a wet kiss on her cheek.
I started laughing at their antics. It was what I needed to take my mind off what
might happen. Josh kept talking excitedly about the phone Dad was going to get
him after school. At one point he even admitted he like Stephanie, which started
Billy to kid him unmercifully. Josh got angry and left the table, but not before
flipping Billy off when our mother’s back was turned.
We picked Lonnie up at his home, and as usual, he talked all the way to school.
He squealed with delight when I handed him the pendant and necklace. I almost
lost control of the truck when he leaned over Billy and gave me a big hug. He was
still holding it in his hand when I dropped them off in front of the building and
then parked my car in the student parking lot.
As I walked toward the school, Rory pulled up and rolled down his window. “Hold
on, Zac,” he said as he slowly pulled away. “We’ll walk in with you.” I bent down
and saw three other members of the track team in the car. He parked and they
jumped out. They shook my hand and told me it was good to see me back.
It was kind of weird to walk down the hall to my first period surrounded by my
friends. It was as if they were shielding me from other students. I studied the
faces of people we passed in the hall, but no one seemed to be paying me any
attention. A couple of seniors nodded to me as I passed by, but I didn’t hear any
derogatory names directed at me.
“I can take it from here,” I laughed as I walked up to my first period class.
“Thanks, Guys.” They patted me on my back and walked away. When I entered
the room, everyone was standing around and talking, waiting for the bell to ring.
“Zac!” I jumped when someone shouted out my name. Bev Mitchell came running
over and hugged me. She was a member of the girls’ track team. Soon several
other girls surrounded me and hugged me. I was completely surprised. It was not
the welcome I was expecting.
As I took my seat, a couple of guys walked up and told me it was good to see
me. Several even gave me a pat on the back after I sat down. Mr. Kennedy
walked in just before the bell rang. He looked back, noticed me in my seat and
The rest of the morning went the same way. Each class I entered, everyone told
me it was good to see me back. Each of my teachers readily accepted the
homework assignments they had given Valerie. My trigonometry teacher even told
me I could make up a quiz she had given the day before.
On the way to third period, I passed Kenny. He looked my way and moved to the
other side of the hallway in order to avoid me. Justin was walking with me and
noticed his actions.
“He’s a jackass,” he muttered under his breath. He then told me how many
students were angry with him for what he had done to me. Except for his friends
on the baseball team, almost no one else would talk to him. I thought it was ironic
that he was being treated the way I had expected to be treated. Instead, no one
seemed to really care that I was gay. In fact, I hadn’t even heard the word
mentioned the entire morning. After all my worries, my world had actually
changed very little.
A few underclassmen gawked at me in the hallway, but they didn’t say anything. I
think most of them were intrigued because they knew I was Billy’s brother. He
had mentioned that a couple of his classmates had asked him what it was like to
have a gay brother. He said his response was, “I don’t know. What’s it like for
your brother to have an asshole for one?” He said they’d give him a puzzled look
before walking away.
Rory and Carson were in my fourth period class. When the bell rang, they waited
outside in the hall for me to come out. They then walked with me to the cafeteria.
When I entered, I saw Adrian and Valerie sitting at their usual table. Rory grabbed
my arm and led me to a table where several members of the track team had
As I was eating, I looked over at the table where Kenny, Rachel, Alise and I used
to eat. Four other students were sitting there. I scanned the cafeteria and noticed
that Kenny was sitting with members of the baseball team. He was eating quietly
while they were engaged in a lively conversation. I looked around the cafeteria for
Rachel and Alise, but I didn’t see them.
Again, no one mentioned what had happened in the locker room between Kenny
and me. Instead, the guys seemed excited about our first track meet next
Saturday. When the bell rang, they all told me they’d see me after school.
As I was leaving the cafeteria, heading to my fifth period class, Valerie walked up
from behind me and took my arm. “Are you still mad at me?”
“No,” I joked. “Only dogs get mad.”
“Then are you still upset with me?”
“I was never upset with you,” I informed her.
“Then are you upset with Adrian?”
I pulled her over to the side. “Look, Valerie,” I said. “You’ve made it clear that
Adrian doesn’t want to have anything to do with me. I was home for three days
and not once did he call me. I may not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but I get
“You don’t understand,” she said sadly.
“You’re wrong,” I insisted. “I do understand.” I started to walk away, but turned
to her. I leaned down and whispered, “Tell Adrian not to worry. His secret is safe
with me.” I then turned and walked away.
As I walked to class, I felt like my heart was going to burst. Indirectly, I had
broken up with Adrian, even before we had been given a chance to be a couple.
We had never even been on a date, but I felt worse now than when I realized I
was going to break up with Rachel whom I had dated for two years.
I wanted things to be different. I wished that we lived at different time and place
where we could freely love each other. The love was there, I was sure of that. He
just lived in a world that prevented us from being together. I could help him break
down the walls, but he would have to indicate to me that he loved me enough to
want me to help him. There was a deep divide separating us. There was also a
wall he had built to keep us apart.
I guess Marty was right. I had run a good race. I had given it my best shot. There
was no more I could do. I now had to shake off the loss and prepare for the next
As soon as I entered the locker room, I heard the familiar smack of a towel and
then a loud yelp. I started laughing when I saw Justin rubbing his leg where a big
welt was starting to appear. “I’ll get you back!” He screamed as he chased Chuck
Rosewell from the room furling a yellow towel.
I dressed and went out to the track. Coach Templeton and Marty were standing in
the middle of the field when I ran out with some of the other players. Marty
motioned me to come over and join them.
“Hey,” he smiled as he held out his hand. Coach Templeton put his hand on my
“How is everything going?” Coach asked. “I guess the guys had a talk with you?”
“Yes, Coach,” I replied. I looked over at Marty and smiled. “I think things are
going to be okay.”
“Good.” Coach patted me on my back. “Now give me twenty laps.” I moaned and
took off running.
We practiced for an hour and a half. There are six sprinters on the team, and
none of the others even came close to my times. Each time I ran, Marty would
use a stopwatch to record my times. He gave me a thumbs up on two of my
“Impressive,” he said as I trotted up to him after we’d been told to go shower.
“You are only five tenths of a second off from the winning time at the state meet
last year. If you keep improving like you are now, you’re going to be standing on
the top block in May.”
“I hope so,” I said confidently. I could tell I was stronger and faster than last
year when I came in sixth place. I may not place first, but I was sure I’d beat
last year’s performance.
Marty threw his arm around my shoulder and led me away from where the others
were entering the locker room. He led me into a small conference room and
turned on the light. We sat down and he turned his chair so he was facing me.
“How is everything else going? You can prepare for a race physically, but you also
have to be mentally in shape as well.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know. I guess things are getting better.”
“How about you and that kid you were fighting?” he asked. “Is he giving you any
“No,” I answered. “He’s leaving me alone- at least for now.”
“And what about Adrian?”
I started laughing. “You mean Door Number Three?” He nodded. “Not going as
expected.” He listened attentively while I told him about Adrian’s fears of being
outed and the consequences it could have if his father discovered he was gay.
“Sounds like a lose-lose situation,” Marty stated.
“No shit,” I laughed nervously. “And I really liked the guy.”
“Maybe he’ll come around,” Marty volunteered. “He is old enough to make up his
“I doubt it,” I said. “Besides, I’ve decided to go for Door Number Two?” He gave
me a puzzled look. I told him about Omari and our unofficial date on Saturday
“He seems safe,” I said. “He’s gay and he’s out. He seems like a pretty nice guy.”
Marty looked at me worriedly. “Just remember what we talked about. Sometimes
what is behind one door isn’t as nice a prize as what’s behind another.”
I nodded my head, got up and left the room.
Chapter 16 Return to TMJ