The Move

Chapter 6

By Doug Smith

Mom was putting dishes away when I walked back into the kitchen.

"Did your friends leave?"

"They had to get home. Mike stopped by for a minute too."

"I heard him. Did something happen in school today?"

"What do you mean?"

"Don't 'what do you mean' me. I heard him talking about some boy who was mad at you. I didn't hear everything but I heard enough."

I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought she heard him mention what happened at lunch. "It's nothing Mom. Just this guy who isn't used to people standing up to him. It's no big deal."

She looked at me questioningly. "Just be careful. I know you can take care of yourself but I don't want you getting into fights at school."

"I know. I'm not going to start anything but I'm not going to back down either. You and Dad have always taught me that."

"Yes, but there is a difference between backing down and avoiding a confrontation. I know you. Don't do anything to inflame things."

"I won't but it's tough when he gets in my face. Where's Scott?" I asked changing the subject. "I want to talk to him."

"Don't be hard on your brother. He's been through a lot too you know. He saw you and Aaron. Those two even reminded me of the two of you. I tend to agree with Scott," she laughed.

"Mom!!! You don't know that."

"Oh come on Dan. I've been a psychiatrist for twenty years. I've seen enough gay teenagers to know one when I see one ... or two. The way those two looked at each other. They looked just like you and Aaron."

"You think so?" I asked with a smile. "I guess my gaydar does work. They're kind of cute. Don't you think?" I smiled.

"At least I know what you and that other boy didn't see eye to eye on. Dan .... You can't fight everyone who is a homophobe."

"I'm not going to fight unless he starts something. That includes doing something to my friends ... And I still want to talk to Scott."

"He's downstairs."

Scott was playing Nintendo when I went downstairs. He looked up when he saw me.

"Are you mad at me Dan?"

I sat down beside him and put my arm around his shoulders pulling him against me.

"No buddy. I'm not mad and between you and me I want to thank you. You shouldn't have said what you did but I'm kind of glad you did. I think they're boyfriends too but that isn't something you just come out and ask like that. It's hard for boys to tell even their best friends things like that. You remember how I didn't tell Mom and Dad about me and Aaron, right? I just met those guys today so even though I might think they're boyfriends I know they don't know me well enough to trust me with their secret. I didn't tell them about Aaron and you better not say anything either."

"I won't. I promise. I'm glad your not mad."

"It was kind of funny wasn't it? Did you see the look on their faces?" Scott laughed when I started to tickle him. "I love you buddy. Don't ever forget that."

"I love you too Dan."

"Next time think up here though," I said pointing to his head, "before moving this," I added pointing to his mouth.


"Come on, hop on. I just heard Dad come in so we'll be eating soon." He climbed on my back as I put my hands under his legs. "Let's go little man. It's time for supper."

Supper was on the table when we walked upstairs. "I'm glad you didn't hurt him too bad," Mom laughed.

"Did I miss something?" asked Dad.

"Oh nothing dear. Just Scott being Scott. I'll tell you later."

"Come on Mom. You know I wouldn't hurt the munch. I just explained it's better to think before putting his mouth in drive."

"He's seven Dan."

"I'm almost eight," said Scott.

"Yes dear, you are. But don't be in too much of a rush. You'll be all grown up and married before you know it."

"Ewww, girls are yucky."

My parents gave me 'the look' when I started laughing.

"What????" I asked. "Can't I agree with my little brother?"

That earned me a dish towel being thrown at me as I was laughing.

"On that note let's eat," Mom said.

Supper at our house started with a minute of silence. We weren't particularly religious but my parents thought it was good for each of us to think about our day, reflect on what happened, what we liked, what we could have done better and anything else that came to mind. It was the 'anything else' I had trouble with. I quickly thought about everything that happened during school, especially during lunch. The image of Aaron coming to me flashed through my mind. I thought quickly about what he told me and how he just faded away. "I love you Aaron," I said to myself. At least I thought it was to myself.

"Dan. This time is for thinking about today, not last year."

"Sorry Dad," I said looking up. I didn't want to tell him I was thinking about today.

"You need to get over it. You can't go on like this. We can't go on like this."

I just looked at him. I wasn't going to get into an argument with him. That's all we seemed to do lately. "I said I was sorry."

"Forget it, let's just eat."

I'm not hungry," I said. "Can I be excused?"

"You need to eat something."

"I said I wasn't hungry," I said getting up and going upstairs closing my bedroom door.

I sat on my bed and started crying. I hated it when I cried but I couldn't help it. I knew I was a disappointment to my father. I really was trying. Things were just so fucked up. Why couldn't I move on? Aaron wanted me to. He told me he did. He said it hurts him I can't be happy. I pulled out his picture from the drawer in the nightstand where I had put it. "I'll do it for you buddy. I'm sorry I'm hurting you. I never want to hurt you."

There was a knock on the door as I wiped my eyes.

"What?" I asked a little louder and more abrupt than I probably should have.

"Can I come in?".

"Yeah, okay," I said wiping the tears from my eyes.

My father came in and sat down. "I'm sorry Dan. I didn't mean to get upset or to upset you. It's hard for your mother and me too you know. It's also hard on Scott."

"I know Dad and I'm sorry. I really am trying. I actually had a pretty good day. Much better than I thought I would. A couple guys came over after school and we shot some pool."

"Why don't you come back down and tell us about it. Your supper is getting cold."

"Okay," I nodded standing up. "I love you Dad. You know that right?"

"I know Dan and I love you too. Sometimes I get frustrated but I do love you. I just want you to be happy. Please believe that."

"I do Dad."

We walked back down to the kitchen. Scott and my mother watched as I sat back down. "I'm sorry," I said.

Mom just handed me a bowl of potatoes. "Tell us about your day."

"It was actually pretty good. I had a long talk with Ms. Washington. She put me in honors classes. I didn't go to English because she wanted to 'get to know me'," I said trying to laugh. "We talked the entire period. I even told her about Aaron."

"You did? What did you tell her?"

"Quite a bit," I said. "It's okay. I trust her. She's a nice person. I barely made it to my history class on time. My history teacher, Mr. Howard I think, used to be a lawyer. Ms. Washington said he got tired of the rat race and decided to teach. He's pretty cool. He tells a lot of stories."

"I've thought about teaching. Maybe I'll give up work and teach at your school," Dad said smiling.

"Dad!!! Don't even think about it."

He just laughed. "If I did that you'd definitely need a scholarship to go to college. What else happened today?"

I explained how it was a small school. The same kids seemed to be in most of my classes. I wondered why Josh hadn't been in any of my morning classes since everyone else was. "I'm going to sign up for a talent show," I said.

"That's good. I like listening to you play guitar. When is it?"

"Not for a while. Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I should probably sign up pretty soon although I'm not sure what to play."

"I'm sure you'll think of something."

"I have a couple ideas. I just need to decide."

Scott told us about his day too. He was in the second grade and was excited as only Scott could be. I had to smile. He was such a bundle of energy. He liked everything. He couldn't stop talking about all the kids, what they learned, and recess. I remember having recess. It was definitely the best part of school.

"I wish I could have recess," I laughed.

My dad laughed. "It's rough getting old," he said. "Just wait a couple years. You'll be in college and then out in the working world. Then the fun begins. You'll miss high school."

"I doubt it," I said. "I was thinking though. I'd like to join a gym. I need to work out. Would that be okay? Will you help until I find a job?"

"Sure, that would be good. It will give you something to do after school but don't worry about a job. You know we've always said your job is to go to school, get good grades and enjoy yourself while you're doing it. I don't think you can enjoy yourself if you spend a lot of time working. You'll have to work for a living soon enough. Fortunately you don't have to now. You could do karate instead you know." At least he was smiling.

"I've been thinking about it," I said.

"Really? That's great. What changed your mind?"

"I don't think Aaron would have wanted me to quit."

My parents looked at each other and smiled. I knew I probably would do something but wasn't sure what. I also didn't want to give them too much satisfaction. "I said I was thinking about it. I haven't decided yet."

"No, but it's a start Dan and you're right. I'm sure Aaron wouldn't want you to quit."

"I know. I think I'm beginning to realize that."

After supper I went to my room to do homework and unpack. The cable still wasn't hooked up so I couldn't go on-line. I wanted to send some messages to some friends back home. There were a few kids I wanted to keep in touch with. It wouldn't be the same since I wasn't there. Before we would experience things together. Now they would have their lives and I would have mine. Hopefully we could remain friends. They said to stay in touch and all that but I know things will change.

I did homework for a couple of hours. It really wasn't that hard. I knew I had slacked off back home. Here I felt I had promised Ms. Washington I would try harder. I liked her and didn't want to disappoint her. I don't know why. She was just a school guidance counselor who had hundreds of kids to deal with but she seemed to give me her undivided attention. I wondered if she did that with everyone.

Before unpacking I put on shorts and did my push-ups. I had found a website that gave a plan to do 100 push-ups and I was giving it a try. It was a six week plan that I had been doing for about eight weeks now. I was up to about week four on the plan. I hadn't done them in a few days since we had been so busy but I wanted to get back to them. I was up to about 70 consecutive push-ups. I could probably do a few more if I wanted to kill myself but I had a long way to go to get to 100. Adding the first 30 had been pretty easy but each one after that has taken a lot of work. Today I had to do 4 sets of 25 push-ups each plus a fifth set of as many as I could.

My arms and chest were killing me after I finished. I couldn't do another push-up if I tried. It felt good though. I doubted anyone got to 100 in only six weeks like the website said but it was a good goal. I wasn't a jock but I was health conscious. I liked looking and feeling good. Looking in the mirror I liked what I saw and I felt good. At least physically. I couldn't understand how people let themselves get out of shape.

After finishing I went downstairs to get something to drink and talk to my parents. They were watching a movie with Scott. It had to be a DVD since the cable wasn't hooked up yet. Scott smiled when I sat down next to him. "Hi munch," I said. "What are you watching?"

"A Winner Never Quits," he said. "It's about a kid who loses his arm but wants to play major league baseball. You want to watch it with me?"

"For a while," I smiled. "I need to get to bed so I can go running in the morning." I ended up finishing the movie with him. It was one of those feel good movies but it did make me feel good sitting next to Scott and watching it with my parents. They always made time for us. I felt more relaxed than I had in a long time.

I still didn't sleep well though. The events of the day kept going through my mind and I couldn't get the image of Aaron or Josh out of my head. First I remembered things Aaron and I used to do together and then I was thinking about Josh sitting in class. Eventually I did fall asleep but I must have tossed and turned all night since the bed was torn apart in the morning. 'Hmm,' I thought as I put it back together. 'I didn't even get to enjoy it.'

Hi, it's me, Josh. I found Dan's story and since he wrote about me I wanted to add my perspective. I'll try to keep my comments short and make it clear when I'm talking so you know it's me.

I can't believe what happened at school today. A new kid, Dan, was talking to Chris and Ryan when I sat down at lunch. When he turned to say hello he just stared at me a few seconds and then fainted. Passed out right there in the cafeteria. I felt bad for him being the new kid and doing something like that. I thought I was the only one who could embarrass themselves like that.

The one thing that was obvious was the guy is definitely hot with a capital 'H'. At least I thought so. His jeans molded to his body showing off his muscular legs. His arms and upper body were just as defined. He was wearing a loose t-shirt but that didn't hide that he was lean and muscular. He obviously works out. He reminded me of a gymnast or a wrestler.

I guess you can tell I like a good looking guy. Yeah, I'm gay. I've known for about six years and admitted it the last four. I guess I've accepted it. I've only told Chris and Ryan. I'd be dead if anyone else found out, especially my father.

I felt a surge in my groin when I saw him laying there. I didn't even know the guy. I knew someone who looks like that couldn't be gay but I couldn't help it. I wanted to push everyone away and hold his head in my lap until he woke up. I didn't of course. He probably would have punched me out if he woke up with me holding him like I was thinking.

The math teacher came over to see what was going on and got nervous when he saw Dan passed out. When he came to Mr. Williams wanted to send him to the nurses office. That might have been a good idea but Dan didn't want any part of it. He started to get upset and claimed he was okay. A bunch of kids were standing around including, Phil Clayton. What an asshole that guy is.

Ryan said Dan almost got into a fight with him before I sat down. Someone should warn him about Phil. He's not someone to mess with. Eventually Dan convinced Mr. Williams to just let him go to class I think he only agreed because it was his class. That was when it got interesting. Mr. Williams asked me to make sure he got to class okay but Dan didn't want any part of that either. When he looked at me his eyes told me to keep away.

I did walk with him if you can call it that. It was like he was trying to get away from me as fast as he could. At first I tried talking but he made it clear he wasn't interested. I don't know why but he definitely didn't like me. He couldn't know I'm gay. Only Chris and Ryan know that. It seemed like he just looked at me and didn't like me. I may have problems but I'm not bad looking. The guy must just have an attitude. The word 'asshole' comes to mind too.

The strange thing was he kept looking at me during math class. He'd turn away when I looked but I could feel him watching me when he thought I wasn't looking. It kind of creeped me out I didn't know what he was thinking.

What happened after school was even worse. Chris usually gives me a ride home but today he offered to give Dan a ride too. He and I were squeezed in the back of Chris's Honda. It was definitely a tight fit and Dan seemed really uncomfortable. He acted like I smelled or something the way he kept his distance. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw my house. I know it looks pretty bad but his expression said it all. Good thing they didn't come in and see my father passed out drunk on the couch. He was only wearing his boxers. That was pretty disgusting although it's pretty normal. He drinks a lot since he lost his job.

They wouldn't come inside anyway. Chris and Ryan haven't been in my house since my father called them faggots all afternoon about six months ago.

It also hurt because I knew he had invited them both to his house to play Nintendo. I heard them talking after school. Not that I would have gone but it would have been nice to have been asked. He just met us today. Why would he invite them and not me? Yeah, they were talking at lunch but it couldn't have been for more than five minutes. Plus I was right there. He could have said why don't you come too. It's like he didn't even give me a chance.

It's not like I'm hoping he's gay and would fall in love with me. Alright, maybe I did just fantasize a little if you know what I mean but I don't expect it. He is hot but it's just wishful thinking to think he actually is and that something like that would happen. It's better with him being straight anyway. If he is gay he wouldn't want someone like me anyway, especially once he got to know me. My life sucks. I can't see me being happy until I turn eighteen and get out of here. I'm counting the days. In the meantime I'll just have to fantasize. At least he's good for that.

Tuesday AM - Dan's House

Mike was waiting when I walked out the front door. "Let's go asshole, you're late." It felt good being able to joke with him. We just met but acted like old friends. I just laughed and called him a dickweed.

"What the fuck is a dickweed? Is that something from Illinois?" he asked as we started our run.

"Do a Google search. Your picture will come up," I said laughing as I picked up the pace. "Let's go. No wonder the football team sucks if they're all as slow as you."

"Who says we suck?"

"Let's see. What was your record last year? Not to mention you're one and four this year. I think that pretty much sums it up."

"We've had a lot of injuries."

"Right," I said sarcastically as we turned a corner. I thought about saying maybe it was the quarterback but decided I didn't want to talk about Phil Clayton again. I'd be seeing him soon enough and I definitely wasn't going to stand with him this morning.

I stopped dead in my tracks after about two miles. "What the fuck is that?????"

Mike laughed. "It's a moose. Don't you have those in Illinois?"

"If we did I never saw one. They certainly didn't walk around on front lawns. That thing is huge. What's it doing here?"

"Sometimes they come out of the woods and get confused. Not very often. I've only seen one a couple times. You tend to see more deer. Deer walk between the woods and the brook stopping to enjoy my mother's flowers along the way," he laughed. "She gets pissed. I'm sure you'll see some of them. Moose just lumber around."

"I can't get over the size of that thing."

"Yeah, every once in a while you'll hear a story about one that gets lost. A couple weeks ago there was a picture in the paper of one that walked up on some guy's front lawn, laid down and died. It didn't happen here but it was nearby. Can you imagine looking out your window some morning and seeing that thing dead on your front lawn. I guess the guy had to call the town and they came with a backhoe to pick it up."

"Scott would probably want one as a pet."

"Good luck with that. ... You ready to run or you going to keep looking at the wildlife?"

I smiled. We ended up running about five miles. Sometimes I was ahead of Mike and sometimes he was ahead of me. As we got close to home we both sprinted to get there first. We got to my driveway at the same time.

"I'll get you tomorrow dickhead," he said.

"In your dreams. I won't go so easy on you after today," I said panting.

He laughed. "Yeah, right. Who is the one that is out of breath?"

"I think that would be you but we'll fix that soon enough if you keep running with me."

"So are you going to try and piss Phil off again today?"

"I think I did a pretty good job of that yesterday without even trying. Just think what I could do if I tried."

"I'd rather not. Just be careful. He's pretty volatile. I've seen him go off on people. Plus I've heard stories."

"I'll be good. I promise."

"Alright then, I'll see you in a few minutes. When is your jeep getting here?"

"Hopefully today. I want to drive around some. I haven't seen much of the area except for the roads between here and the school."

"That won't take you long. Maybe we can do something tonight if you want. I get home from practice around five. I'll stop by after I eat. We can go to the mall or something."

"Sounds good if you don't mind being seen with me," I smiled.

"Just go take a shower and get ready. You stink," he laughed.

I smiled and went inside. Mike was turning out to be a good friend. I didn't understand how he could hang with Phil or that crowd but that was his business. He seemed to like hanging out with me as well. Maybe he had his school friends and his home friends. I wasn't sure if he was putting on an act at school or at home. He didn't seem to be putting on an act with me so I assumed if he was it was at school. Why I had no idea.

When we got to school I told him I'd wait near the car so his friends wouldn't see us together. He tried to say it didn't matter but I insisted. I didn't want to cause him any problems. I really didn't think he fit in with them but he said it was because he played football. I wasn't going to make it difficult for him. I enjoyed his friendship.

After arguing he gave up and walked towards the school. I waited in the parking lot so it didn't look like we were together. I was standing there thinking when I heard someone call my name.

"Morning Dan. What are you doing?"

It was Chris. Ryan was with him of course. "Nothing," I said. "Just getting ready for another day." I didn't want to tell him I didn't want Phil to see Mike and me together. "How are you guys doing?"

"I'll let you know once we're inside. We never know what Phil is going to say."

I smiled and moved between them. They seemed a little taken aback because I wedged myself in and put my arms on their shoulders as we walked towards the school. Chris tried to pull away but I wouldn't let him.

"Relax guys."

I had my arms on their shoulders as we walked by Phil and his friends. I guess I broke my promise that I wouldn't try to piss him off but I didn't give a shit. Mike just stared but I think I could see a small smile on his face as well. On cue Phil started his name calling. I laughed and pulled Chris and Ryan towards me. I also flipped Phil off as we walked into the school.

It seemed everyone got to school at the same time. A couple of buses had just pulled up and dropped off a bunch of students so the hallway was pretty crowded. I recognized a few kids from the day before. It was going to take time to get to know people. I'm not really into team sports so I won't be meeting kids that way. That leaves classes, clubs and other friends. I never really did clubs before either. I always had my friends and we hung out together. This starting over stuff is hard.

"Dan, you're crazy. You know that? You trying to piss him off?"

"Don't worry about it. He's an idiot. I just wanted him to know he doesn't intimidate me. Sorry if I made you uncomfortable. What do you guys have first period?"

"We both have English Comp and you didn't make us uncomfortable. It's just not a good idea to piss him off. He's bad enough on his own. It's like stirring up a hornets nest. A hornet may sting you but if you piss it off there is a better chance you'll get stung. We just try to avoid him. What do you have first?"

"Same thing. Seems like you guys are stuck with me in most of your classes. See you there. I need to toss this in my locker and go to the restroom."

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