Now I Didn't See That Coming

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 2

I agonised my way through the afternoon. Monk, by contrast, spent most of the time video gaming.

His input was less than satisfactory.

  1. Post an advert in the school magazine.
    'Will the boy responsible for sending Spencer Greenaway a Valentine's card, please make himself known.'

    Not going to get any takers, is that.

  2. Get the head teacher to make a plea to the school during assembly.
    'Will the boy who sent Spencer Greenaway a Valentine's card, please step forward.'

    Yeah, right!

  3. Go around the school and kiss every boy I find halfway attractive on the lips.

    Nice thought, but my nose…….

I settled on sticking a Post-It note on my locker. This would have a simple message, something like, 'I liked the card, but please could whoever sent it call me on my mobile. Number blah-di-blah. No reprisals…… I just need to know who you are.'

Monk, having finally finished playing at killing Aliens, turned to me.

"I've had an idea about how to find your boy."

"Is this going to involve computer gaming or me ripping my clothes of to see who strikes first?"

"Don't be so touchy!

I was going to suggest that you stuck a Post-It on your locker and……"

"Left my number asking who sent the card to call me?"

"Did I say it out loud or something?"

"No. I got there way before you."

"It's a good idea though, don't you think?"

"It's the only idea!"

"I was thinking about it, honestly. That's how come I lost that stupid game."

"Yeah. And I appreciate your support…… really.

All I have to do now is compose a message that won't imply too much interest, but genuinely wanting to discover who it was."

"Yes, well. I think you should be the one who does that. My experience of writing letters to gay kids is limited to never having, nor ever intending to do it."

"I'm overwhelmed by your kindness. Any more of the same might mean I have to invite you to sup with me!"

"Is that a real invitation or are taking the piss."


"Thanks! Love to! I'll slip down the offie and get some beer then."

"No need. There's wine in the house we can drink. Save your cash for a decent suit to wear to my funeral when everyone sees the note on my locker and kicks the shit out of me."

The evening was fun. I play keyboards, but Monk is a pretty good guitarist, so between us we made music for most of the night. He's got a good singing voice as well, which puts mine to shame, but whatever, it was a great evening.

We bedded down in the same room. Me on the floor on an inflatable mattress with Monk in my bed. Guests privilege or something, but in truth, we'd had a lot to drink. Too tired to care.

I saw him off following Brunch. Monk rarely does breakfast at weekends.

He had been helpful; not so much in the capacity of an idea's man, but as moral support for my confused brain.

Aside from anything else, I'd sort of come out to him, and his reaction? Nothing much worth the mention, and that, for me, is a great indicator of true and loyal friendship.

Now, all that's left is to buy some Post-It's, think carefully about the message and wait.

Should it be yellow Post-It's against a grey locker or choose something gayer like pink or purple? These questions are important. I have to remember that everyone is likely to read the message, and Spencer? You have to survive in this environment.

Okay then.

No pink, no purple.

Anyhow, I couldn't find purple Post-It's.

Yellow works well by the way. I say this just in case you find yourself in the same predicament, that is if your locker's grey. Definitely not if you're stuck with a yellow locker.

Purple would work okay in that instance…… if you can find it, which I couldn't.

These are the ramblings of a boy stalling for time in case you're concerned about my mental wellbeing. Normal self-assured Spencer is worrying about the form of words. Be direct or play it cool.

Direct might be fun if I was built like a brick shithouse and majored in martial arts, so try and guess what delicate and pretty little me settled for.

I did neither.

'Please don't be shy or embarrassed? I loved the card, and the message. Please call me on this number any day after school, avoiding Friday if possible. You can do this. Let's introduce ourselves.'

Okay, so it's not the most polished performance ever, but I'm really rather nervous. I don't know what to expect to come out of this. He might take flight and I'll be none the wiser, but if he does come forward, I'll be faced with the prospect of either allowing him into my life or gently telling him that I'm not interested.

Sometimes I wish I smoked. That way I could pace around the house, chain smoking my life into oblivion.

No more wine either. Dad is going to have a terminal case of Raised Eyebrows at the two bottles Monk and I demolished last night as things stand.




Gotofuckingsleepgotofuckingsleepgotofuckingsleep, damn it!

Monday, glorious Monday. The start of another school week, but this week held promises. Now, whether these promises lead to abject misery and depression or boundless amounts of fuzzy happiness, I can't tell, but at least it's something to watch out for rather than just getting through the day.

Monk was waiting by my locker.

"The big day then?"

"The message you mean?"

"Unless there's something else that's making you look nervous?"

"No, it's the message, and I'm okay with the idea. I guess my only concern is the reaction of other people when they read it."

"That's easily explained away.

Look at it like this. If someone, anyone sent me a Valentine's card, I'd want to know who sent it, I mean that's a pretty natural reaction. Now, you can't be 100% sure that it's someone from this school. There's always the possibility that a girl had her brother stick it in your locker? Okay, it's a long shot, but also a good defence if anyone makes fun of you."

"Why didn't I think of that. It's brilliant!"

"Like I said. I have been thinking about stuff, and also, I know how I would feel under the same circumstances. There's not going to be a mob of boys waiting around every corner with the sole purpose of lynching you? You're popular. People like you, and people will understand. Just stick with your cover story and everything will be fine."

"Okay. Here goes nothing."

I used to resent the school rule that only the books necessary for any given class should be carried, because it's a ball-ache having to troupe backwards and forwards to your locker between each class, but now it was doing me a favour.

Period one and the Post-It was still in place. The same after periods two and three, but then it was directly to the cafeteria for lunch.

Following lunch and an improvised game of football it was time to collect our books for the start of the afternoon session. The Post-It had gone.

I thought about replacing it, then decided to wait and see if I had a call that evening, and if I didn't, I'd replace it the following morning.

Monday evening. No call.

Actually, that's not true. Monk called me every half-hour to check on progress, but by eleven-thirty I told him to piss off as I needed to get to bed. No call from my mystery admirer though.

Tuesday followed the same pattern as Monday. Wednesday, the same. Both days the Post-It had been removed during lunch. But then Thursday the note had been replaced sporting a simple message, 'I will, but I'm frightened.'

I thought about posting a reply, something like, 'Don't be. There's nothing to be frightened about'. But so far no one had even commented, so maybe better to wait it out, but then promptly changed my mind.

I caught up with Monk on the bus home.

"Progress of sorts. Whoever it was that sent the card replied to my note."

"What did it say or was it something embarrassingly private?"

"Take a look for yourself."

"So, 'I will, but I'm frightened'. How did you respond?"

"I just left another note telling whoever it is, not to be. I left it on my locker a few minutes ago."

"You do realise that I'll be calling you every five minutes to find out if he's made contact, don't you?"

"If you must, but already you're assuming it's a boy. Might it be that whoever it is, is relaying the message to his sister?"

"You're not thinking this through, Spence. If he's relaying your messages, why would he be scared? Just acting the postman isn't a reason because he can remain anonymous, whereas a boy who is seriously crushing on you might well be worried about your reaction."

"Not looked at it like that.

Okay, you call me, but if the line's busy……"

"I'll keep trying until it isn't!"

Playing the waiting game is frustrating, even if you're not sure if you want to get that call in the first place.

Wrong. I need to know who it is, except I don't want to find that it's a seven-foot tall, eighteen stone rugby playing sixth-former with a hairy body who suffers with terminally bad breath. (Shudder).

Note to all seven-foot tall, eighteen stone, hairy rugby players around the world.

'I'm sure you're all nice guys, and that very few of your number are afflicted by halitosis. Please don't beat me up?'

Then neither do I want it to be an eleven or twelve-year-old, even though some of them are insanely cute.

Shit! I'm overthinking 'overthinking' again.

My phone rang scaring the pants off me. It was Monk, of course.

"Any signs of life?"

"No. But a full stomach, a warm room lit only by my desk lamp, so I couldn't make out the caller ID, frightened the life out of me."

"Sorry. I'll get off the line, shall I?"

"Might be an idea. I know you want to find out who it is almost as much me, but he won't be able to get through if you're constantly phoning me.

What if I promise to call if I have any news? Would that be enough for you?"

"Yes, alright. But you have to promise, no matter what time of the day or night, understood?"

"I will, I promise."

For Christ's sake! No one phones at one in the fucking morning!


"Look, I'm sorry it's so late, but you have no idea how much courage it's taken to do this."

"My Valentine card sender?"

"Yes. Are you angry with me?"

I tried to figure out the voice on the end of my phone. It was shaky and whispery, and whoever it was, was seriously frightened.

I decided to put him at ease.

"I'm not angry. I don't do angry. I'm curious, of course, but I promise that you have nothing to be worried about."

"Thank God. I'm petrified here!"

"Settle down. Like I said, I'm not a violent person, I mean, surely you can see that just by looking at me? Do you honestly think I'm the type of kid that's spoiling for a fight?"

"No. That's how come I was attracted to you in the first place.

So, can I breathe now?"

I giggled helplessly. "Take as long as it takes. I've got all night."

He returned the giggle. "I'll try not to take that long, you know, school in the morning."

"Yeah, well. All we have to do is get through the day, then it's the weekend and a chance to relax."

"True. I…… um……"

"Do you want to introduce yourself? You know who I am, so this is something of a lopsided relationship right now without me knowing something about you."

"I'd rather not…… not right now. But maybe if we could meet sometime?"

"I get that, so why not tell me something about…… you?"

"Like, what would you like to know?"

"Let's start by you telling me how old you are."

"I'm fourteen, fifteen in nine months."

"So, not a hairy, seven-foot tall, eighteen stone rugby-player then?"

Laugh! I got a real, full-on laugh!

"I'm not saying you do, but if that's your type, then you're going to be very disappointed!"

"That was my worst nightmare. Those guys scare the shit out of me."

"I'm pleased.

I'm short – ish for my age, like five-three in my socks, and I weigh in at around seven stone and a bit. Like you, I'm blond. Your eyes are a beautiful grey colour whereas mine are blue. Small hands and feet which makes me rubbish at sports, even though I like playing them. I guess my main passion is music. I play sax right the way through the range, from Alto to Bass."

"Are you in the orchestra?"

"No. I auditioned, and got accepted, but I'm not into classical stuff so I dropped out. I prefer playing modern jazz, blues or contemporary rock."

"Do you know Monk? He plays a mean guitar."

"I know of him, in fact I thought he might be your boyfriend what with always hanging out together."

"Straight as a die is our Monk. He's my oldest and closest mate who can annoy the hell out of me sometimes, but that said, he's got a big heart, and for that I love him to bits."

"Can I ask you something…… something personal?"

"Can't think of any good reason why you shouldn't, so fire away."

"Are you like, straight as a die?"

"I never saw that coming! I'm…… bi, very bi."

"Oh, wow. So good to know."

"So, I'm guessing you're gay?"

"Yeah. I am, but no one knows. Better that way what with school and stuff.

Does Monk know you're……"

"Yeah, he knows. He's the only one mind."

"Does he accept it?"

"Let me put it this way. He's been egging me on to find out who sent that card, and not because he wants to punch your lights out either. I get the feeling he wants me to find a boyfriend. Little shit has been phoning me every five minutes just in case you called."

"That's nice of him."

"Yeah, it is.

Look, it's getting late, or maybe even early, but would you like to meet me in person?"

"I'd love to, but……"

"No danger. I want to meet you too, and for all the good reasons. You have nothing to fear from me, honest."


"Whenever you like, although I have orchestra tomorrow evening."

"What time does it finish?"

"Normally we get away about nine or thereabouts."

"Could you meet me afterwards? I could call or text, so you'll know where I'll be waiting."

"Plan. I've got your number. Nine, or just as soon as I can escape, but how's about you tell me your first name?"


"Nice name! See you tomorrow, Aaron. Nite-nite."

"What the fuck? Do you realise what the time is?"

"Yeah. A little after half past late. He called, or aren't you interested."

"Wait-wait! Just let me wake up before you give me all the disgusting details."

"Take your time. And anyway, the details aren't disgusting."

"Whatever. So, who is he, what's his name, do I know him, is he cute, are you going out on a date, are you going to shag him rotten……"



"Right then. From the top, okay? He wouldn't tell me his full name, but his Christian name is Aaron. He's fourteen, slender, shorter than average for his age, blond hair, blue eyes, little hands and feet and no, I'm not going out on a date, although we've arranged to meet tomorrow night after orchestra. Oh, one other thing? I'm not going to shag him rotten."


"Really what!"

"You've agreed to meet him what."

"Why shouldn't I? He sounded really nice over the phone."

"You're right. No reason why you shouldn't. I'm slightly envious truth be told."

"You're straight, so why envious?"

"Not like I want a boyfriend envious, but I'd like to have someone I could call my own."

"I'm not calling him anything, especially not My Own, not just yet anyway."

"But you're keeping an open mind?"

"Again, why not?

Look, it's very late and I'm knackered. Can we continue this conversation later, on the way to school perhaps?"

"Okay. Probably wise. If I'm not at the bus stop, come and kick me awake, will you?"

"So, there you have it. All the sordid details."

"I think I know him. Not know him per se, but recognise him from your description. If it's who I think it is, I reckon you'll be pleasantly shocked."

"Don't be a bastard all your life. Details, I need details."

"Little guy in year four. Blond hair, blue eyes that always seem to be laughing and an outgoing personality."

"Okay. All of that, but is he good-looking?"

"Who am I to judge, Spence? If you want my honest opinion, then I would say he's cute as hell, maybe even cuter than hell, but like I say, I'm no expert when it comes to other boys."

"Yes, but you don't have to be gay or even bi to recognise beauty when it punches you in the teeth…… or do you?"

"No. You're right. I think he'll knock you off your feet when you meet him. Monk's prediction concerning Spencer's love life!"

"For heaven's sake keep the noise down! I don't need the entire school knowing I'm probably going to fall for another boy?"

"I never said who might be a part of your love life. Why so jumpy?"

"I'm sorry. Can I ask you something, like friend to friend?"

"That's what we do, you fool!"

"Let's just suppose I am attracted to him. Let's assume we hit it off and a relationship blossoms. Would it be detrimental to our friendship?"

"No, of course it wouldn't. I don't fancy you, but I do love you as my oldest and dearest mate.

I might change my views if you don't involve me in making music like we did last weekend because I was thinking about asking Amyl Singh to join us. He's an awesome bass guitarist."

"What about percussion? Davy Rhodes from the orchestra is brilliant. Our age as well"

"Let's see what crawls out of the woodwork tonight. If you and this Aaron become a couple, then I'm all for forming a band."

For fuck's sake! How long can it take to tune up, people? I need out of here pronto!

Never has an evening playing with the orchestra dragged like crazy like this one. First one of the cello's is out of tune, then came the turn of one of the violas to fuck things up, but finally we got underway.

Nine o'clock came and went with no call or text from Aaron.

Nine-fifteen and the same deal.

Nine-thirty and we were done. I slammed the top down on the piano rather harder than I should, but the frustration of having received no word from Aaron had me close to tears.

I marched out of the concert hall, biting my lip fit to draw blood. But then an arm grabbed mine, stopping me dead in my tracks.

"Hi. I'm…… Aaron. I didn't text you because I managed to sneak in so I could listen to you playing."

My immediate reaction was thinking,' he's shorter then me', but then that went flying out of the window, because, I kid you not, no one, and I do mean no one has the right to be so damned attractive, so fucking pretty, so bloody gorgeous as the boy looking into my eyes right at that moment.

I was stunned into silence. I wanted to say something, but my mouth just flapped open/close like a fish fighting for oxygen.

"Are you alright? You look like you've seen a ghost."

"I…… I'm fine. I ju…… just never expected…… thought that…… anyone could be so…… perfect."

"Trust me. I'm a long way from being perfect.

Can we go for a walk or something? It might be a good idea if you got some fresh air, or else someone will think I've just told you your dog had died!"

"I don't have a dog!"

"Really? Perhaps you should rethink that and buy one."

"The park is good for dog-walking, so I'm told."

"I've heard that too. How about we do a recci just in case you do end up buying one."

"That's a nice idea."

We slipped out of the concert hall, and as soon as we rounded the corner toward the park, we looked into each other's eyes, linked hands and walked on into the darkness.

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