Knots, Book 2
by Elias Scott
Matt and I talked, but I lied to him. It's the first time I've ever lied to him. I guess it's a first for both us. Not that I haven't lied to my teachers and coaches and parents, but I'd never lied to Matt. And he'd never lied to anyone, at least any that we knew about. He thought telling the truth was a sign of courage. I guess we're both cowards.
My parents were calm but pissed when they got home.
"Where were you?" My dad demanded.
"I was in the shower."
He walked up to me and sniffed my hair. Fortunately, I'd washed the disgust out of my hair.
"So why didn't you call us back when you got out of the shower?" my mom asked.
"Didn't notice you called."
My father shook his head. "The machine shows you listened to the message. Where were you?"
I shot back, "I liked it better when you didn't give a shit about what I did."
His voice got louder. "Maybe so, but it's over. Now where were you?"
"I told you. I was in the shower."
My mom stepped in. "Why were you taking a shower in the middle of the afternoon when you took one this morning?"
"Nothing else to do." The more I lied the more it seemed like I was going to get sick again. Then an idea hit me. I told them, "Call Matt. He knows I was here."
"Was he over here or did you go over there?"
I wasn't sure what I should answer. It seemed like one of those damned if you did and damned if you didn't types of things. "I went over there." I knew it was the wrong answer as soon as I said it.
My dad dialed Matt's number. Matt answered. "Matt, Andy said he was over your house today. Is that true?" My dad waited for an answer.
"I'd rather not say," Mr. Gibson.
"Let me talk to your dad." My dad drummed his fingers on the kitchen table. "Bill, Andy said he was at your place today. Is that true?"
"Sorry, Larry. He wasn't here."
My dad tossed me a dirty look. "Thanks, Bill. Talk to you later."
"You're just one big liar, aren't you?"
I started toward my bedroom then spun around. "If you really want to know the truth, I'll tell you. I got together with Randy and this guy named Kyle and we fucked our brains out. Are you happy now?"
My mom gasped and put her hand over her mouth. My dad grabbed me by the shoulders. "Are you telling the truth or giving us more lies?"
"What do you think?" I asked as I pulled away from him and went to my room.
He followed me. "I don't know what to think. But the one thing I know is we can't allow you to talk like this or disobey us. I hate to do it, but I'm telling Coach Gilbert to bench you this week. And if this behavior continues, it will be next week too. Maybe you'll think twice before you do what you did today."
Talk about digging your own grave. But there wasn't any way I was going to lie down and take it. "Good. There's not a damn thing you can do. I'll cut school while you and mom are at work and find some other guy to fuck."
He slapped me. "Didn't our talk mean anything to you the other day? I thought we had an understanding."
"Dad, you can't just give me a hug, take my phone away, ground me, and expect me to feel loved. It takes more than that. Is slapping me a way of showing me how much you love me."
He dropped his head and then looked up at me with red eyes. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have slapped you. But your words made me angry. Can't you see that?"
I did, but I was so angry with myself that I struck out at my parents and I still didn't know what I was going to do about Matt.
He wiped his eyes. "Your mom and I are committed to making you follow the rules. We know you're gay and are fully aware that you will have sex with guys, but not now. You've got to stop."
"I'm gay. Gay guys have sex. I don't see the big deal. Hell, I was fucking the girls before that."
"You're only fifteen."
I frowned. "Why should that make a difference?"
"Sex can be a powerful drug for a fifteen year old. God only knows it's a powerful drug for a lot of adults. But maybe it's because they started young themselves. It can become an escape from the pain we feel and keep us from dealing with what's really bothering us. I don't have all the answers, but like Matt's dad said when we talked, 'Being a teenager should be the wonder years. A time for building a solid foundation for adulthood.' Can you honestly say that running off today and having sex with those guys made you a better person?"
He had me there. All it did was make me hate myself. Yeah, the sex was hot. But when it was all done, I felt as depressed as that room with the orange and green curtains, brown bedspread, and blinking light in the ceiling. I felt just like that room. And all I was left with were lies to my best friend and disrespectful words and lies to my parents. What made it worse was that I let a freshman control me. He seemed to be controlling Kyle too.
"I'll run away."
He smiled and it really pissed me off. "Where you going to go?"
"I'll go to Randy's and we can fuck two or three times a day."
"Stop. I don't want to hear you use that word again." He took my cell phone out of his pocket and held it out to me. "Here, call Randy."
I hate to say, but he was learning fast how to be a Badass Dad. I say that now, but at the time I was just pissed.
I knocked the phone out of his hand. "I'll talk to him at school on Monday. I think I can put up with your shit until then."
He smiled again. "I thought you weren't going to school."
"This isn't funny. I'm serious. I'm going to run away. Maybe I'll go to LA and sell myself. How would you like that?"
"That's a new one. So you're going to sell yourself into slavery? Most people don't want to be slaves. And here you are talking about going to LA and selling yourself. It wouldn't be long and you'd be a slave to drugs too. What a life! Is that the kind of life you want to live?"
He pissed me off so much I couldn't talk. "Uh. Uh. If that's, uh, what I, uh, have to do to get away from here, uh, I'm going to, uh, do it."
And then you know what he said. You'll never believe it. I know I didn't.
"Tell you what. Tomorrow's Sunday. I'll drive you to the airport, buy you a ticket, and write you a note so they'll know you have our permission when you get there."
And I did the damndest thing. I laughed. And when I did that, he walked over, hugged me, and for the first time in my life said, "I love you son."
I tossed and turned all Saturday night. Andy called and wanted me to tell his parents he'd been at my house. I just couldn't tell another lie so just told his dad I couldn't give him an answer or something like that. So he talked to my dad and he shot holes through Andy's story. But it wasn't just that I didn't help Andy out, it was the uneasiness I had over what he, Randy, and Kyle did that afternoon. Andy had never lied to me and if he did this time, then our friendship wouldn't be the same. We'd always trusted each other. I wanted to call him, but instead went to bed early without showering or reading The Picture of Dorian Gray. And like I said, I tossed and turned all night.
We went to church as usual on Sunday. We were having a different minister for a few weeks because the narrow-minded asshole was on vacation. This guy avoided anything controversial. Guess he didn't want to have the asshole come back and complain. That Sunday he talked about forgiveness. He told the story of the prodigal son and how the father forgave his son for all the terrible things he'd done with his life. The one thing he talked about that I'd never thought about before was how jealous the older brother was when he heard his father ran out to greet his brother son and then held a feast in his honor. The point seemed to be that Jesus was saying we should forgive, even when people do things that are hateful and sinful. It got me thinking. My parents may have grounded me, but they had forgiven me for lying. Maybe I might have to do the same for Andy. But at that moment, I wasn't sure I could do it.
I'd just settled into a chair to read more about Dorian Gray when Andy called. "I called to tell you something."
My heart jumped.
"I just told my parents what Randy, Kyle, and I did yesterday. I tried lying to them too, but I got so pissed I blurted it all out."
"How'd they react?"
"They weren't happy campers. I'm benched for the next game. I threatened to run away to LA and my dad surprised me and said he'd pay for it. It really pissed me off, but we made our peace at least for the time being."
I glanced at my dad to see if he was listening. He was absorbed in the Sunday paper. I whispered into the phone. "Does that mean what I think it means?"
It hurt. I knew Andy had fooled around with Dillon, but after Dillon it was just him and me until our foursome. And now he'd gone off and fucked without me with some guy we didn't even know.
"Andy, you betrayed our friendship. You betrayed me."
"It was nothing personal. Randy called, came over, and all but kidnapped me."
"You didn't have to go."
"I know. I was just going to watch."
"You're so full of shit, Andy. You knew you weren't just going to watch."
"No, really, Matt. I was just going to watch. Anyway, after I told my parents, my dad and I talked. He thought I should call and tell you."
I cupped the receiver in my hand and talked low. "Does that mean he knows about us?"
"Uh, not really. He knows I lied to you about it, and after Dillon, he thought I owed it to you to tell you. So how 'bout us?"
"I'm not sure," I answered.
He lowered his voice. "It not like we are in a committed relationship."
"I know. But we had an agreement. It's kind of like a contract. It hurts all the more because of what I did the night you found out about Dillon."
That pissed him off. "Are you going to hold that over my head for the rest of my life? I appreciate what you did. But you don't own me."
"But it changed my life."
"Yeah, and Dillon changed my life. Shit happens."
"Andy. I'm all screwed up." I lowered my voice more. "Sex controls me. It wasn't supposed to be like that. And now I'm jealous and angry, and I thought I'd never be that way."
"Like I said, 'shit happens. And you know what, my dad's been talking to your dad and it's screwing my life up. It's like I don't know the guy. Do you know he actually hugged me twice in the last week? He's never hugged me before. He even said he loved me. He's fucking with my life."
I couldn't help but laugh as I glanced over at my dad. "That's love asshole. Get used to it. I guess I take my parents for granted sometimes. But even now, I know they love me. My mom and dad hug me at least once a day and tell me they love me."
My dad smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up as he got up and went out to work in the backyard. Finally we had some privacy.
"It's not funny. I don't know how to react. The only hugging I know is when you know," he whispered, "When I'm having sex. So when he hugs me, it makes me feel uncomfortable."
"Like I said, get used to it, it's not going to kill you."
It was quiet for a second or two. "So, can we meet for lunch on Monday?"
I paused. "I'm having lunch with someone else."
"Thomas? Is he your new best friend?"
I was still angry. "Maybe. He's sure as hell isn't like Randy. He's a nice guy and I feel I can trust him."
"You can trust me."
"Not anymore. It's like our picture. You've shattered something in our friendship."
I thought I heard him crying. "But we'll always be ten in that picture."
"You're right, Andy. But we're not ten anymore."
He laughed through his tears. "Yeah, life was so much easier before we got our first hard-on."
I joked back. "Hell, I thought you've been having them since you were five."
"Not funny," he replied. Then he added, "I wish fixing our friendship was as easy as fixing the glass on the picture. I need you to forgive me. It was just a moment of weakness."
There wasn't any way I was going to let him off that easily. "I'll have to think about it. You're going to have a lot of time to think about it too while you're sitting on the bench this week."
"That was low, Matt."
"Maybe so, but you deserve it."
He paused. "This grounding is killing me. I want to come over to your house right now so we can talk. But I'm locked up here. You can't even come over."
"Knots, Andy. We've tied too many knots and we're paying the price. And as much as I hate to admit it, just sitting around the house reading and watching TV with my dad seems to have untied a few of them. Maybe you should try it. Face the facts, Andy. Either you swear off sex for a month or your dad's sending you off to California to sell your body on the streets of LA."
He laughed through his tears. "That's not funny."
I knew right then that there wasn't any way our friendship was over. You could only tell your best friend something like that. I couldn't imagine saying something like that to Thomas. That might change, of course, but I didn't think there'd ever be what Andy and I had between us. "Talk to you between classes or before football practice. Maybe you should spend your day reading a book or spending time with your mom and dad. They'd like that."
He laughed. "I don't know how."
"Well, do as Nike says, 'Just do it!'"
He laughed again. "I'll give it a try."
"It doesn't say try. It says, 'do it.'"
I joined my dad in the living room to watch football with The Picture of Dorian Gray lying on my lap. The game was boring so I opened it and continued my reading. Dorian got into all kinds of vices from gambling, to spending extravagantly on furniture, art work, drugs, and jewelry, while his reputation met with gossip. But when people looked at his beautiful form and face, they felt that the rumors couldn't be true. They felt the evil would show on his face, but he remained ever young. On November 9th, he turned thirty-eight and still looked eighteen. Lord Henry continued to encourage Dorian to enjoy life and to ignore the consequences. Dorian followed his advice.
Dorian locked the painting in his old school room in the upper floor of his house. He had the only key. Occasionally he entered the room to look at the painting. It continued to change. What bothered him was that it not only grew older, but reflected all the bad things he did in his life. Dorian had covered the painting with a satin cover. Oscar Wilde wrote "…that (the satin cover) would serve... to hide something that had a corruption of its own, worse than the corruption of death itself, something that would breed horrors and yet would never die. What the worm was to the corpse, his sins would be to the painted image on the canvas. They would mar its beauty and eat away its grace. They would defile it and make it shameful. And yet the thing would still live on. It would always be alive.
I thought of the picture of Andy and me on my desk. It was not eaten by worms. Our knots, did not show in the picture. It was not marred by what we had done. It was strange because while I hated reading Shakespeare, a quote from Julius Caesar suddenly popped into my mind. This is the quote as I remember it: "Fate is not in our stars, but in ourselves." How true. We'd like to blame fate. Andy wanted to blame Randy. I wanted to blame Andy. But it's like I said in Knots. I wanted to take control of my life and accept responsibility for it. In reality I didn't want to at all. In the end, of course, I think we'd all like to blame fate or someone else.
Having quiet time to just read and reflect was something I'd never really taken the time to do. Usually, Andy and I'd be off doing something. And, of course, lately it had been fucking. It was the focus of our attention. Strange though, sex was still on my mind, but it had moved from number one on my list. Maybe it was only because I was grounded and didn't have a choice, but the time was beginning to give me some perspective. Reading The Picture of Dorian Gray had me thinking. I couldn't wait to discuss it in class on Monday. Learning suddenly seemed fun. Usually, I just studied because that's what my parents expected of me or because I wanted a football scholarship. But the love of learning never existed. It all changed that weekend.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future. --Bernard Meltzer
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. -- Lewis B. Smedes
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius. --- Oscar Wilde
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