The Move

Chapter 24

By Doug Smith

Josh and I were almost late getting to school. We walked into class just after the second bell ended.

The teacher looked up from her desk. "Nice of you to join us. Did you oversleep?"

Chris and Ryan looked at us giving us sly grins. Josh just shook his head and I frowned. Becky smiled.

"Alright everyone, if everyone is ready we're going to talk about..." And so it went. Classes were okay and I tried to pay attention but I would have preferred just spending time with Josh.

During Phys. Ed. the coach had us wrestle. I usually enjoy wrestling but I was more on edge than anything. I really didn't want to worry about what Phil might do. Fortunately the coach was smart enough to make sure he and I didn't wrestle. I might have enjoyed that a little too much. He also made sure I didn't wrestle Josh, something I definitely would have liked but not in gym class.

Josh did have to wrestle Andy Thurman. Andy is a friend of Phil's. I guess the coach couldn't control everything. Josh and Andy are about the same size but I could feel my over-protectiveness kicking in as I watched. It especially kicked in when I saw Phil say something to Andy soliciting a nod. Evidently the coach saw it too. He stood next to me and told me to relax.

Andy tried but Josh ended up pinning him. Andy was obviously surprised as well as pissed. He pushed Josh from behind when he was walking away but Tim got between them and the coach grabbed Andy.

"That's enough Thurman. This is gym class. I don't put up with that stuff."

I was watching what was going on when Phil came up and bumped me.

"Your faggot boyfriend got lucky. Soon you'll both get what you deserve."

"Get over it Clayton."

"Fuck off Johnson. I don't like you and I don't like faggots."

"Really? I thought you wanted to date me the way you keep talking. What are you? Secretly gay? You seem to think everyone else is or is that just wishful thinking?"

We were in each others faces and I could see the veins on his neck popping he was so pissed. I kind of hoped he tried something. I'd like to end it here and now but I knew he wouldn't. He'd rather do something when the odds were more in his favor.

"You better watch yourself Johnson," he said trying to push me as I walked away.

I knew I should have kept my mouth shut but I was getting tired of this.

"You're a wimp Clayton. You talk big but that's about it."

"Fuck off Johnson."

When I turned he was charging. I knew I probably shouldn't have said anything but sometimes my mouth moves before I think. It must run in the family.

I really didn't want to get into a fight at school but I also wasn't going to back down. I took a defensive position waiting for him to make a move. I was ready to give him a few kicks to the chest and knock him on his ass. Fortunately or unfortunately the coach saw what was going on and got between us.

"Cool off Clayton or you'll end up in detention again."

Phil tried to get around him but he was a big guy too and held him back.

"You're dead Johnson. I'm going to fuck'n kill you."

"That's it Clayton. Hit the bleachers. I'll deal with you later. Ron... Andy... Make sure he gets there. The rest of you get back to work. The excitement is over."

Ron and Andy Thurman grabbed Phil so he couldn't do anything and dragged him to the bleachers. I knew they didn't do it because they didn't want to see a fight. They just didn't want to see Phil get in any more trouble.

"Don't you learn?" asked the coach looking at me. "I warned you about antagonizing him. This is getting out of control and someone is going to get hurt. If I were you I wouldn't take his threats lightly. I'll bet he'll try something when you're not expecting it. I also have to report this to the principal. It's gone beyond a simple disagreement. Someone is going to get hurt and I don't want it known that I knew there was trouble and didn't do anything about it."

Tim and Josh were standing nearby listening.

"Coach, if you want it to end then go to your office and close the door. I'll take care of him."

"I can't do that and you know it."

"I know but he'll be sorry if he keeps pushing."

"Just remember other people are involved too," he said looking at Josh.

"That's what worries me."

"Why don't you go to the locker room and get changed. You clear out before he gets there. You two should go as well and try to keep him out of trouble."

"What just happened?" Tim asked as we walked to the locker room.

"He obviously isn't going to let this drop, not that I thought he would. Sooner or later he's going to do something."

"I hope you're as good as Chris says. I wouldn't want to fight him, especially since I know he won't fight fair."

Nobody else was in the locker room. I turned to Josh. "Are you okay? You did good out there. I guess my training has helped," I smiled.

"I'm worried. I was hoping he'd stop bothering us."

"You didn't really believe that did you?"

"No, but I was hoping."

"Come here," I said without really thinking. "Everything will be okay. I won't let anything happen to you," I said putting my arms around him. It felt good but I realized what I had done as soon as he jumped.

"Sorry, I wasn't thinking," I said first looking at Josh and then at Tim. Josh didn't seem upset but he did look nervously at Tim who was watching us.

"So it's true?" he asked more as a statement than a question. "You're really gay?"

"Yeah," I nodded. "Are you okay with that?"

"Of course. Why wouldn't I be? I'm okay with Chris and Ryan aren't I? I'm just a little surprised. You two never seemed to get along. What happened?"

"It's a long story. Tell you what. We're having a party at my house Friday night. Why don't you and Abby come by. I'll tell you all about it. No beer though. I promised my father."

"That's cool. Abby doesn't like to drink anyway."

At lunch I told everyone else about the party. I didn't know what my father would say about a simple sleepover turning into a party but we were all friends and he never minded me having friends over. Nobody objected when I said there wouldn't be any beer. Mike said he hadn't had anything to drink since Phil left him in the park. He said he puked enough that night to last him a while.

He frowned when I whispered in his ear that wasn't the only thing he did that night but got me back by telling me he knew I enjoyed washing his balls. Good thing nobody else heard us. We just smiled at each other.

"Let's just say I didn't mind," I smiled.

"Mind what?" asked Josh.

Mike laughed. "You're in trouble now."

"I'll tell you later."

I even asked Randy if he wanted to come. At first he was still being an asshole but when Josh talked to him he mellowed out. I'm not sure he was ready to treat me as a friend but at least he wasn't saying he didn't like me. He did say if I hurt Josh that I'd be sorry. Josh smiled.

"Thanks Randy. I appreciate your concern but it's not necessary. Dan won't hurt me. He's a good guy and I know you don't understand it but we love each other so please just be my friend like you always have been?"

"Alright," he said. "John.. ah, Dan, I'm willing to cut you some slack even though you were an asshole towards Josh. If he can forgive you then okay. Just don't hurt him."

"Thanks Randy. I won't. I promise."

After lunch I pulled Chris aside. "Why don't you guys spend the night after the party? The four of us can sleep in the family room and watch movies."

"Your parents know about us, right? They're okay with that?"

I laughed. "Well, I did have to promise we wouldn't have an orgy. ...Of course they're okay with it. One more thing. Scott wants Tommy to come. It's okay with me and he did have a point that it would be easier to get him to karate class Saturday morning but it's up to you."

"I don't know. He doesn't know about Ryan and me. Scott won't say anything will he?"

"I'll talk to him. He'll be good. They'll probably just play Nintendo or something. He can sleep in my room or maybe Josh's room," I smiled. "His sheets are probably cleaner."

"I bet," he laughed.

"I just meant because he hasn't used them much asshole."

"Yeah, right. I believe you."

I just smiled.

"You realize how lucky you are don't you? Even if you two aren't having sex, and from the change in Josh I don't believe that for a second, you're still sleeping together. Plus your parents know it and don't say anything. I can't even comprehend that."

"I guess we are. They've only said to remember Scott is growing up. He is too. He said some things on the way to school this morning that we need to talk about. You know, you're going to have to tell your parents sometime. They might surprise you."

"Yeah, right. I might be able to kick your ass across the cafeteria too but I don't think so."

I smiled. "Okay, so are you going to sleep over?"

"Yeah, it sounds fun. Let me check with Ryan. I'll let you know about Tommy."

We caught up with Josh and Ryan in the hall. "What kept you?" asked Ryan.

"We were just talking about Friday night. Dan wants us to sleep over after the party. I said it sounded like fun but needed to check with you."

"The four of us, sleeping together?"

"Down boy," I laughed. "We can watch movies and sleep in the family room so if that's what you mean by sleeping together then yeah, okay, we'll sleep together, just keep your hands off my boyfriend. He's mine ...and I'm his. I'm also lousy at sharing," I said smiling at Josh. I really had to resist the urge to kiss him.

"You two are so gay. You're almost proud of it."

"And you aren't? Let me know what you want to do. We'll catch you later." Chris and Ryan went towards their next class and Josh and I walked together towards pre-Calc.

"You are proud of it, aren't you?"

"I'm not 'not proud' of it. Would I prefer not to be? I don't really know. Maybe, but then I wouldn't feel like I do about you." I leaned closer and whispered. "But if I think about how that makes me feel any more right now then I'm going to have to drag you into the restroom before pre-calc. I'm getting hard just thinking about it. But I do accept that I'm gay and I'm happy I have you as a boyfriend."

"Fair enough. Me too at least now that I have you. We can't use the restroom though, I'm sure Kyle and Travis have already staked it out."

No sooner than Josh had said it Kyle and Travis walked out of the restroom. Josh and I looked at each other and cracked up.

"What's up guys? We were just talking about you."

"I'm sure," said Kyle with a sarcastic grin while Travis turned red.

I smiled. "No. It's cool guys. I was just telling Josh if he kept talking like he was then I'd have to drag him into the restroom before class but he pointed out it was probably occupied and then the two of you came out."

"We weren't doing anything. We actually did go in to use it for what a restroom is for. After you guys caught us the other day we decided to be more careful. Travis did give me a quick kiss while we were standing there though," smiled Kyle.

"Next time we can stand guard if you want," I laughed.

"None of us would make it to class on time then. It would be nice though. Travis and I don't get much alone time."

People were walking by but nobody was really paying attention to what we were talking about. That was probably good. There was something about Kyle that I liked and it was more than just that he is lean and trim with cute looks and a killer smile. Maybe I felt for him having to deal with Phil all the time. I couldn't imagine being him and having Phil as an older brother or step-brother. That must really suck. The other thing was that he just seemed like a good guy. Despite having to deal with his family he was friendly and grounded. He also seemed more mature than I would expect. ...Did I mention he is really cute?

"I was just thinking. ...I'm having a party Friday night. Why don't you guys come if you want. It'll just be a few of our friends and I know you don't know them but they're cool. Stop by if you're not doing anything. I live on Chestnut Drive, number 12."

"Thanks but I don't know," said Kyle. "I usually don't go out much. Plus, no offense, but if Phil found out he'd kill me. Just talking like this could get back to him and with the way you two are he'd definitely be pissed. I don't really care what he thinks of me but I try not to do something stupid and piss him off either."

"No problem. I was just letting you know," I said just as the first bell rang. I looked at Kyle when we made eye contact. It was like he was searching for something. There was something about this kid that I liked.

"We have to get to class," I said more to him than the two of them. I put my hand on his shoulder and kind of pulled him away. "Look," I said. "I know we don't know each other and I don't know what things are like for you. I can only imagine. I just want you to know I'll be a friend if you ever need one. Phil doesn't scare me."

"Thanks," he said. "We should get to class. We'll think about the party. He should scare you though. You don't know him like I do."

"Haven't you done enough to piss Phil off for one day?" asked Josh as we walked to class. "I can't believe you invited them. They wouldn't know anyone anyway plus he's Phil's brother. Why don't you pour a little more gas on the fire?"

I smiled. "I'm not going to hold the fact that he's Phil's step-brother against him. They seem like good guys plus neither one is tough on the eyes."

"Yeah, I saw how you were looking at him."

"You're jealous," I smiled. "Will you relax. They're cute together. You're the only one I want. At least for today. Tomorrow who knows? ...Besides, I can look, can't I?"

"I'm sorry. I still have some self-doubts."

I smiled and whispered in his ear, "Well don't because you're the only one I want for as long as I can imagine but if you want to keep me on a leash we'll have to do that behind closed doors."

He just rolled his eyes as we went into class to sit down.

"What?" I asked. "It could be fun."

After school Josh wanted to go by his house to look for his birth certificate. I would have preferred to go to the gym but it was important to him to find it.

"I don't understand why Mr. Kinkaid hasn't been able to find a copy anywhere. I told him what hospital I was born in and what my birthday is. How hard can it be? The hospital isn't that big. How many kids can be born there on any given day?"

"I don't know. It's a small hospital. Maybe everything was done on paper back then. Who knows what happens to paper records."

"I don't know why he needs it anyway. He says it's just to prove my father is really my father. He says it's just a formality in cases like mine. Why can't they take my word for it? Who else would he be?"

"Josh, he's a lawyer. He's just doing his job. Of course he's your father. I'm sure he's just being thorough."

We got to Josh's house around 3:00. Danny came running over as soon as saw my jeep.

"Hi Josh, how are you?"

"Hi Danny. I'm doing okay."

"I've been watching your house. Nobody has been here."

"Thanks. We're just going to pick up a few things. It seems strange to be here."

Danny looked down. "You should have told me Josh. We were friends. I know I'm just a kid but I could have helped. I would have tried."

There were tears in his eyes.

"Danny, I didn't know what to do. Things just kind of happened and before I knew it things were like they were. It wasn't you, I shut everyone out. I'm sorry."

"I thought you were mad because I had a crush on you and you thought I was a dumb little kid."

"What? You had a crush on me?"

"Yeah, don't be mad at me."

Josh smiled. "I'm not mad Danny. I'm just surprised. I didn't know you thought about me like that."

"I know. I thought about it a lot but I know you're not like me."

"What do you mean 'not like you'?"

Danny turned red and looked at me.

"It's okay Danny," I said and put my arm around Josh, pulling him against me. "Yes he is and you keep your hands off him. He's mine," I smiled pulling Josh tight against me.

They both looked at each other.

"You?" said Danny. "Wow!! If I had known that maybe my fantasies would have come true."

"I don't think so. With my father I wouldn't have taken any chances. If he ever found out he'd have killed me. I would never have expected you though. It must be hard for you with your parents going to that church."

"They'd probably kick me out if they knew. Maybe not but I wouldn't put it past them. You should hear them. Is that what your father is mad about?"

"Not really. He doesn't know for sure. He calls me a fag all the time but there's no way he knows for sure. He probably would kill me too. Either that or I'd be out on the street."

"Are you two really boyfriends?"

"Yeah, officially for two days now. You both knew about each other?"

He looked at me and smiled. "Dan kept me from being beaten up at the mall. Two guys trapped me and Nick in the restroom."

Josh smiled. "You must hang around restrooms a lot. It seems you're always there to help kids in trouble."

"Maybe 'kids' are just doing things they shouldn't be doing in restrooms."

"Not everyone has parents who let them sleep with their boyfriends."

"Whoa, you're sleeping together? Cool. That will give me a new fantasy to jerk off too."

I laughed. "I didn't realize you're a pervert. We don't take pictures so you'll have to use your imagination."

"I will," he smiled. "No problem."

"As long as it's just your imagination. You keep your hands off my boyfriend and I'll keep mine off yours."

"He'd be disappointed. He thinks you're hot. One time we were talking and he asked me if I wondered how big your cock is."

I smiled. "I'm only average. You kind of have to play the cards you're dealt there. But I am grateful to you. I mean, some guys have to bring down the average."

"I do not. I'll prove it to you."

"That's okay. I'll take your word for it."

"Dan, if you're done flirting with the thirteen year old I want to go look for what we came here to get."

"Alright, don't get jealous."

"I'm not. He said he had a crush on me, not you. Plus, he didn't say you're hot, he said his boyfriend said you're hot. Why, I don't know. You being so ugly was almost a deal breaker for me. I guess I just felt sorry for you."

"Asshole, you can be replaced."

"And where else would you find someone else who looks as good as... Sorry," he said when he saw the look on my face. "I'm such a dork."

I smiled and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "It's okay and you're not a dork. Let's go inside."

Danny gave us a confused look. "What's the matter Josh?"

"Nothing," he said. "It's personal."

"He'll be okay. Won't you Josh?" I asked rather forcefully making him look at me. "It's okay," I said just mouthing the words.

He nodded. "I'm okay Danny, thanks. We have to get some things from the house."

"Okay, I have to get home anyway. Nick is coming over. Unfortunately my mother and sister are there."

Josh and I went inside. He just stood in the doorway looking around. Not much had changed since Saturday. A dirty plate was still on the coffee table in front of the couch.

"This feels really strange," he said. "This was my home such as it was. Now it's nothing. It's just a house. I don't feel like I belong here. Maybe I never did."

"Josh, your mother loved you and I'm sure your father did too, at least at one time. I don't like him for what he did to you but try to remember that. You did have some happy times and you will again. I'm going to make sure of that."

"I like the way you make me happy."

"I didn't mean just that. Let's go look for your birth certificate. Otherwise, I'll just want to stay here and hold you. It makes me feel good."

"Me too. Let's go to his study. He has a fire box where he keeps stuff. I've never looked in it but if it's anywhere then that should be where it is."

It was kind of eerie walking through Josh's house. It was like it was devoid of any semblance of family life, no family pictures, no decorations, no indication that a family had lived there. Some of it was probably the lack of a woman's presence but that wasn't it entirely. Even my room had more expression and I've been depressed for the last year. This was just empty. It was sad.

I followed Josh into his father's study. It was definitely different from my father's office. My father kept his office neat and there were a lot of books in bookcases. Maybe that's typical for lawyers. Josh's father's study was cluttered. It was more like a junk room with a desk. The desk was also cluttered. Josh saw me looking but didn't say anything.

"You find anything?"

"Here's the box. There should be a key around here somewhere." Josh opened a desk drawer and pulled out a couple keys. "One of these should fit."

The box was filled with papers. Most were financial papers of some type, paperwork on the mortgage, some receipts and a couple stock certificates. Josh was tempted to take them but I said he probably couldn't sell them anyway. He did find his Social Security card which he put in his pocket but he couldn't find his birth certificate. His parents wedding license was there along with a copy of his mother's obituary and a couple pictures of her. There was a family picture and one with just him and his mother. He put that one in his pocket. The family picture was odd. Josh's father had his arm around his mother but Josh was standing in front and to the right away from his father. I would have thought he would have stood between them. I don't know, maybe I was reading too much into it.

"You were a cute kid."

"You mean I'm not cute now?"

"Nope, you're adorable now," I said wrapping my arms around him. "Anything else in there?"

"Just some paperwork from a lawyer. It looks like a bill. Why would he keep a sixteen year old bill?"

"What's that key?"

"I don't know. It has the name of some bank on it."

"Maybe it's a safety deposit box. Your birth certificate could be there."

"Why would he do that? Their marriage license is here, even his birth certificate. Why wouldn't mine be here?"

"I don't know. There must be some explanation. Do you want to call my father or Mr. Kinkaid? Maybe they'll have an idea."

My father wasn't in. His secretary said he was on his way home which was strange since it was only three thirty in the afternoon. I asked if she knew why but she couldn't or wouldn't say. She did transfer me to Mr. Kinkaid's office and I handed the phone to Josh.

"Hello, Mr Kinkaid? This is Josh Sullivan... Sorry, Jon... Dan and I are at my house looking for my birth certificate but we can't find it. It should be with all my father's important papers, right? I mean, his marriage license is here, so isn't a copy of my mother's death certificate. ...There's a key. It looks like it goes to a safety deposit box at a bank. There are also a couple of stock certificates and a bill from some lawyer dated sixteen years ago. ...Yeah, his name is Donald Lester. It just says consultation fees. You want me to take any of this stuff. I really thought my birth certificate would be here. My Social Security card was here but no birth certificate. ...You sure you don't want me to take the key for the safety deposit box? Maybe my birth certificate is there. ...You sure? What if we can't get it then? ...Okay, I understand. I'll leave it. Did you hear anything else? ...Okay, thanks. ...I'll try. I really appreciate your help. ...Okay, bye."

Josh handed me the phone and put the key to the safety deposit box in his pocket.

"I thought he said to leave it here."

"He did. He said speaking as my lawyer he couldn't advise to take it."

"Then why are you taking it?"

"Because he said it might come in handy and he couldn't tell me not to take it," he smiled.

"I see. He just wants to be able to say he told you to leave it here."

Josh smiled. "That's what I heard."

"Anything else you want to get while we're here?"

"No, I got everything I wanted the other day. If I never see this place again it'll be too soon."

I put my arm around him and gave him a hug. We just stood there holding each other in silence for a few seconds.

"It'll be okay. Let's go home. I want to see why my father went home in the middle of the afternoon."

"Okay," he nodded taking one last look around as we walked out to the jeep.

I laughed when Danny and Nick came over as soon as they saw us. "What were you doing? Sitting over there waiting for us to come out?"

"Nick wanted to say hello."

"Hi Nick. Do you know Josh?"


"We're just heading out. Am I going to see you Saturday?"

"Yeah," he nodded.

"Everything okay?"

"I told him that I told you he thinks you're hot. Now he thinks you'll think he's a dork. He didn't want to come over even though I told him you aren't like that" Danny said.

I smiled. "Nick, it's okay. You shouldn't tell your boyfriend you think other guys are hot though. Some guys might have a problem with that."

"You're not mad?"

"Of course not. Why would I be mad? We're friends right? I don't have friends who I think are dorks. ...I'm still not going to tell you how big my cock is," I smiled.

"You told him that too??? ...You're dead!!!"

I smiled and whispered in his ear "six and a half inches but don't tell Danny, keep him guessing."

He smiled.

"How big?" asked Danny.

"I'm not telling you," laughed Nick.

"We have to get going guys. I'll see you Saturday."

"Bye Dan, bye Josh."

My father was home when we got there and he didn't look too happy. Scott was sitting on the couch staring at his feet. He looked up when we walked in the door.

"Sit down Dan. We need to talk. Josh, you can stay if you want or you can go upstairs. You're welcome to stay but you don't have to. This doesn't concern you."

I couldn't remember the last time my father sounded so upset. Scott looked at me like he had broken Mom's best china as I sat down next to him. I was pleased when Josh sat down next to me.

"You boys have had a big day haven't you?"

I really didn't know what he was talking about but decided to just listen rather than asking. I figured he'd get to it soon.

"It isn't every day I get a call from your schools. Today I got a call from both of them. Dan, your brother here got into a fight. He's suspended for the rest of the week."

"Scott?? Suspended?? He's eight. Why would he get into a fight? Scott? What happened?"

"He won't tell me. The principal told me he was arguing with another boy and they both started fighting. The other boy has a black eye and a cut lip. As for you, what's this about someone threatening you? Is it that boy you told us about?"

"Dad, it's no big deal. He's just an as., ah, a jerk. He says stuff like that all the time."

"Dan, someone telling you 'you're dead' isn't something to ignore. I know you think you can take care of yourself but all your karate won't do much if he decides to use a gun. That happens these days you know but we'll talk about that later. Right now I'm dealing with Scott and why he got into a fight. Scott? Do you have anything to say?"

He just looked down at the floor. I think he was crying but he didn't want my father to see.

"Dad, let me talk to him. Give us five minutes."

My father looked at us for a few seconds. "Alright, I'll go get something to drink but when I come back I want an explanation."

I turned to Scott as soon as my father left. "Hey buddy, your first fight and you won. Good job but you know fighting isn't the answer. I taught you karate to defend yourself not to beat up other kids." I put my arm around him and pulled him against me. "Now spill, what happened?" I asked smiling.

"It was Jimmy. He used that word again. I told him what you said, that it's not a nice word and it hurts people but he just laughed. He said f.., sorry. He said people like that deserve to be hurt. He said if I didn't think that then I must be one too. I told him I wasn't. I'm not am I? He said I must be and started telling other kids I was so I hit him."

I took a deep breath and gave him a hug. "Scott, regardless of what Dad might say I'm proud of you. You shouldn't have hit him but sometimes that's all people like that understand and it's important to stand up for yourself. That said, you still shouldn't go around hitting people just because they say something you don't like though. There are other ways."

"As far as you being gay, I don't know and you probably don't know either. You're only eight and you have an older brother who is gay. I'm sure that makes you wonder but one day you'll know. It won't be something you decide, you'll just know. You might realize girls aren't yucky and find someone you feel about like I feel about Josh or you might find a boy you feel about like that. It doesn't matter as long as you're happy. Right now though, don't worry about it. Just enjoy being eight. ...Okay?"

"You'll still love me if I like girls?"

"Of course I'll love you. I'll always love you. I just want you to be happy. Now let's tell Dad what happened. He'll be upset but he'll understand."

Scott and I were giving each other a hug when my father came back in.

"Scott ...are you ready to tell me what happened?"

"Dad, Scott ran into his first bigot."

"What happened Scott?"

My father calmed down after listening to Scott's story. "Scott, you know I don't think fighting is the answer to problems but I know kids get into fights. I got into a few myself when I was growing up. I also know it's hard dealing with bullies in school. But ... and this is a big but, you should only resort to fighting if you think someone is going to hurt you or maybe someone else. You shouldn't fight with someone just because they say something you don't like."

"That's what Dan said."

"He's right. Now do you think there is something else you could have done?"

"I don't know, maybe."

"Why don't you spend some time thinking about it. You won't be going to school tomorrow or the next day so you'll have plenty of time. ...Dan, we're going to need you to stay home tomorrow too. Scott can't be left alone. I have to be in court and your mother is booked solid with patients. She'll be able to re-schedule Friday's appointments but it's too late for tomorrow."

"Dad, I need to go to school. If I'm not there Phil could go after Josh."

"Dan, it's alright, I'll be okay."

"You don't have to worry about that. Your principal told me he was being suspended too."

"What about his friends?"

"Did anyone else do or say anything?"

"No, but..."

"Dan, this is something we need you to do."

I didn't like it but I knew I didn't have a choice either. Probably nothing would happen if Phil wasn't there but I still didn't like it.

"How about Josh staying home too?"

"Nice try but no."

"Alright but I'm driving him."

"Dan, Chris can pick me up. I'll be fine."

"Now that we've settled that let's talk about what's going on between you and this boy. Phil is his name? His name keeps coming up. The principal said he got detention for threatening you last week? You didn't tell us that."

"He and I don't get along."

"That's obvious. Why not?"

"He's a jock with an attitude as well as a bigot."

"I see and I'm sure you don't do anything to antagonize him."

"I don't put up with his crap if that's what you mean."

"Dan, drop the attitude. Your teacher told me that even though he threatened you he felt you didn't do anything to avoid a confrontation either. He said it wasn't the first time either. In fact he told me today he was walking away and you called him a wimp."

"He is a wimp."

"That's not the point and you know it. You know better than that. You wanted him to start something. You know it and I know it."

"That's not true Dad, at least not there. When I kick his ass there won't be a teacher around to save him."

"That better not happen. You have some thinking to do too. You need to think how your actions affected the situation and how you and this boy get along in general. You might also think about this. You say you have to go to school so he doesn't do anything to Josh. Will he do something to Josh because of Josh or because of you?"

"Mr. Johnson, it's not that simple. Phil bothers everyone. He calls anyone he doesn't like a fag whether they are or not. The only reason why he hasn't bothered me more..."


"Shut up Dan. ...The only reason why he hasn't bothered me more is because I was paying him not to. Otherwise he'd do the same to me as he has does to other kids. If it wasn't for Dan I'd still be paying him and hating myself for it. I was pissed when Dan got involved but I'm grateful now. You need to understand that Phil has been trying to provoke Dan from the first day he came to school."


"Shut up Dan. ...He has had plenty of justification to fight back but he hasn't. The only time he's done anything has been to protect me or someone else. Even when Phil threw some punches all Dan did was move out of the way. He might say some things that antagonize him but he's just making it clear he won't take any of Phil's garbage. Even today he didn't do anything until Phil threatened me."

I reached over and took his hand. "Shut up Dan???" I smiled.

He just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

"Dad, I know I shouldn't antagonize him but it really wouldn't make a difference. You may see it as antagonizing him but I see it as standing up for myself. If I didn't then he'd have done something by now. He's not used to someone standing up for themselves. He thinks being the school jock gives him the right to do what he wants."

"Alright, is there anything else you haven't told me?"

"I've told you most things."

"Tell me everything and don't leave anything out."

For the next few minutes I gave him a rundown of my encounters with Phil Clayton from the first day of school until today. I reminded him it was Phil who left Mike in the park and he reminded me he wasn't pleased I had gone out in the middle of the night. He also said he was going to talk with the principal.

"He needs to know what is going on. I've talked to him and he obviously knows there is an issue but he doesn't know the details. He needs to know."

"How much are you going to tell him?"

"I won't say anything about the details of your relationship with Josh if that's what you mean. He's not stupid though. I'm sure he'll figure things out. You said this boy calls you... Well, you know. I'm sure the principal knows too."

"What if he's a bigot?"

"I've talked to him Dan. He seems like a reasonable man but if he is then we'll deal with it. I just want him to know what's going on and that we've talked about it. I know you Dan. I know you can handle yourself and that gives you confidence but I don't want you to provoke him. Understand?"

Before I could answer the front door opened and my mother walked in. She definitely wasn't happy and looked right at Scott who got that 'I just broke your china' look again.

"Scott Alexander Johnson, what were you thinking? Fighting???"

She scowled at me when I chuckled.

"Sorry, I just think it's funny how you use his middle name when you want to sound stern."

"Diane, we've already talked about it. I think I've got a good idea about what's going on. Scott knows he shouldn't have hit that boy and is going to think about what he might have done differently. Our other son has been keeping more things from us as well. We're going to deal with that too. Aren't we Dan?"

"Yes sir," I sighed.

"Why don't you boys go do something before supper. Your mother and I need to talk. And Josh," he smiled. "Welcome to the family."

He smiled. "Thank you sir."

"Don't worry, everything will be alright."

I grabbed Scott and threw him over my shoulder. "Come on munch, let's go play Nintendo."

"Put me down!!!"

"Why should I?" I asked pushing him further over my shoulder.

"Because... you're going to drop me!!!!"

"Drop you? Why would I drop you?" I said letting go of him causing him drop down my back. He laughed when I caught him by the ankles.

"Dan!!! Be careful with your brother."

I smiled. "I won't hurt him Mom. I might use him to do some tricep curls though, I didn't get to the gym today." Scott laughed as I lifted him up and down behind my back.

"Dan," he laughed squirming. "You're going to drop me."

"Scott, what have you been eating? You've put on weight," I laughed pulling him back up onto my shoulder. "Either that or I need to go to the gym more. You're heavy!!! Pretty soon you'll be putting me over your shoulder."

I rubbed his head when I put him down. "Let's go play Nintendo."

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