Knots, Book 2

by Elias Scott

Chapter 32

Matt

I was kind of irritated when this kid I'd never seen before just walked over to our table and sat down. I started to say something when I realized it was Ollie. "Is that you Ollie?"

He smiled and nodded.

"Damn, I can't believe it."

Emily grabbed Ollie's hand. "Hey there, handsome. If you weren't so young, I'd go out with you."

He beamed. "I'm only a year younger than you."

"You mean you'd go out with me if I asked?"

He turned red. "I guess so."

"You mean you're not gay?"

"I don't know."

I looked over at Andy. "Like I said, if you are or if you're not, no one will ever be able to tell. Did anyone give you any crap since I saw you this morning?"

"Nope. Those guys that cornered me yesterday walked right on by me and didn't pay any attention to me. I think they're all sophomores so aren't in any of my classes. In fact, in all my classes, everyone looked at me surprised when the teacher took roll and called my name. Someone did say, 'Hey, Olive Branch,' as he put his hand out to shake my hand."

"I have two classes with Oliver," Thomas said. "I looked all around the room so I could talk to him, and when I didn't see him, thought he'd chickened out and stayed home. I was surprised when the teacher called out Oliver Branch, and he said, 'here.'"

"Well, I hate to admit, but it looks like Andy was right," Gina said. "I didn't recognize you when I saw you walking over to our table to sit down."

A grin crossed Oliver's face. "Hell, I didn't recognize myself when I looked in the mirror this morning. I'd been dressing all emo for so long, I forgot what I looked like."

That got everyone laughing.

"So which is the real you," Alan asked.

Oliver shook his head. "I don't know. I guess maybe this is the real me."

Andy patted him on the back. "I'm glad it's working out for you. I hope the rest of the day goes the same way. Then you can put yesterday behind you."

"I sure hope so," Ollie replied.

So much time had been taken up with Oliver I hadn't had a chance to tell everyone the good news about me beating out Frank Kutcher for second string quarterback. "Coach Mills made me second string quarterback."

Everyone looked at me with surprise.

Alan chuckled. "You should have seen Kutcher's face when Coach Mills told him in the locker room before practice."

Gina slid in closer to me. "Congratulations, Matt. I think that deserves a kiss." She leaned in and gave me a solid kiss on the lips. I remember thinking how soft they were. Must have been the lipstick. Andy's lips weren't soft like that.

I gave her a big smile. "Maybe I'll get a chance to play if we get ahead or Thompson gets hurt. Of course I'd hate to see him get hurt. But you never know."

Then the same senior that had come by the day before stopped at our table. His name was Sam and he was a varsity basketball player. He's tall and thin with brown hair and blue/gray eyes. "What happened to the fag? Didn't he like you guys or something?"

"No. He was so hurt by what you said yesterday that he went home and shot himself," Andy snapped.

Sam's mouth dropped open. "I didn't mean. You know. I didn't mean it. I was just joking. How come I didn't hear about it?"

Emily pointed at Oliver. "He just told us."

"I haven't seen you around before. Did he really kill himself?"

Oliver gave Sam a sad look. "He tried. Fortunately, his parents found him before he died. He's in the hospital. We're all going to see him this afternoon after school."

He looked confused. Like he still wanted to stay strong, but instead said, "Can I come? I really feel bad."

Andy shrugged. "We have football practice after school. You could meet us in front of St. Anthony's hospital around six. We'll go see him together."

Sam nodded. "Thanks. I really feel bad. I'll be there."

He hustled off to his table to tell his friends. They all looked agitated and started punching and pushing at him. We could hear him. "I was only joking. I didn't expect him to trying offing himself."

One of the girls at his table said, "Wimpy ass. You know the old saying, 'sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you.' Well, some people just aren't strong enough to ignore shit from assholes like you."

"But I didn't mean for it to happen." Sam pointed to our table. "I'm going to the hospital to see him this evening with those people sitting over there. I need to apologize."

A big guy with the making of a red beard told him, "Forget that shit, Sam. If he wasn't able to take it, too bad. Anyway, he looked like a fag. Do you want to be associated with some fag?"

"Maybe you're right. But I still feel bad."

One of the girls at the table grabbed his hand. "Ignore that ignorant asshole. I'll go with you."

Sam let out a small smile. "Thanks Jill, I'll pick you up at five forty-five."

It took everything in our power to keep from laughing. Oliver was rolling his eyes and trying to look sad. He dropped his head and was laughing so hard his body and head were bobbing up and down like he was crying. We all followed his example because it was just too hard to keep from laughing.

It goes to show, that some people do mean things and don't give it much thought until something bad happens. The lunch bell rang and Jill came up to us as we were headed to class to say how sorry she was to hear about Oliver and that she was going to the hospital with Sam.

Gina got a serious look on her face as Jill walked off. "I hate to think what's going to happen when no one shows up and they realize we made fools of them."

Andy scowled. "Serves them right. Anyway, there's no sense in worrying about it until tomorrow."

I shook my head. "Maybe we should tell them now before this gets out of hand."

"Don't be so chicken," Andy said. "What are they going to do? If nothing else, maybe Sam will at least give it some serious thought."

"Or kick the shit out of me," Oliver answered.

Emily teased. "Don't worry Ollie. He'll just be happy to see you're alive and don't have a hole in your head."

Alan nudged Oliver. "And feel like a fool because he didn't recognize you."

"Oliver and I have the next class together," Thomas added. "See you guys at football practice."

We all headed to class.

Andy

You already know how we set up Sam and Jill. So I won't repeat it. But I'll tell you what happened the next day.

Fortunately, I didn't see Sam or Jill until lunch. No sooner had we sat down, when Sam and his friends descended upon our table. "Where were you guys? We waited like fools in front of the hospital. We went in and they said they didn't have a patient from our school that tried to kill himself. So what's the deal? I don't like being made a fool of."

"Maybe you should have thought about that when you came by our table and ragged on us and that Oliver kid the other day," Emily shot out.

"I'm sorry about that. It really scared me when I thought he tried to kill himself. So where is he? Did he drop out of school or what?"

The big guy with the beard pushed toward us. "We know you're all fags. And that wimpy skinny one is just a coward. Where is he?"

Jill pushed him back. "Shut up, asshole."

Gina looked directly at the asshole, whose name we later found out was Evan. "You don't know anything about us or the guy you keep calling a skinny fag. And to show you, let me tell you, he's sitting right here at this table."

They looked around the table. "I don't see him," the big guy spewed out.

Sam shook his head. "Neither do I." He pointed at Oliver. "Who's the new kid? I don't recognize him."

Oliver gave a confident gaze at all of them. "I'm the skinny guy you keep calling a fag. And you don't even know me. Couldn't even recognize me."

"You're shitting me," Sam said

"No, I'm the same kid. Just look a little different. That's all. And what you said the other day hurt me. If it hadn't been for the people you see at this table, maybe I would have tried to kill myself or worse yet, you."

Sam's face first showed fear and then softened. "I was pissed as hell last night when you guys let us stand out in the cold like fools. But I got to tell you, I was happy as hell, when I found out you hadn't tried to kill yourself. I'm sorry. It goes to show, you can't tell a book by its cover. Look at you now. I didn't even know it was you. You don't look like a fag at all."

Oliver smiled. "Still skinny though."

I jumped in. "That's all well and good, Sam, but where do you get off calling us or anyone fags or fag lovers? It's time you knock that shit off."

Evan, couldn't let it go. "Hey sophomore. We don't like fags. So stick that up your ass. We'll do what we like."

Sam looked like he didn't know what to do. I knew how he felt. Social pressure can do that to you. But he finally looked at Oliver. "I'm sorry. I made a mistake." With that, he turned around and walked off with the others following.

You could see them arguing, but Sam slammed his fist on the table, got up, and walked out of the cafeteria.

Gina smiled. "I figured they were going to come over and kick the you-know-what out of you guys. But you know, there's more to Sam than we thought. Can't say much for the big ugly mean guy, but Sam seems all right."

"I thought so too," Thomas said.

I don't know what got into me, but it was a big mistake. I jumped up, beat my chest, and told everyone, "I knew what would happen the whole time."

Matt pulled me down. "Shut your mouth. You're drawing attention to yourself. In fact, that big ugly dude is headed over here right now."

The big ugly dude grabbed me by my coat and pulled me off the bench. "What did you say, fag?"

"I said I knew what would happen the whole time."

"Did you know I was going to kick the shit out of you?"

I didn't have time to respond because Evan locked his arms around me, squeezed the air out of me, threw me on the floor, and kicked me in the stomach. Pain folded me in half. I held my stomach and saw he was getting ready to kick me again when Alan, Thomas, and Matt grabbed him from behind to pull him back. He jerked away from them, bent down, and slammed his fist into the side of my face. I put my hand to my face, rubbed my chin and cheek, and opened and closed my mouth to see if my jaw was broken. My hand had blood on it, but my jaw, while sore as hell, seemed okay. The only reason the asshole didn't hit me again was because Alan, Thomas, and Matt jumped on top of him a second time. They grabbed his arms just as I heard Dax, the cafeteria monitor yell, "Stop! Get off him!" He pulled the big guy off along with Alan, Thomas and Matt. "What seems to be the problem here?"

Dax was the same guy that gave us the hall pass the day we saved Oliver from a beating.

Matt stepped back. "This big guy came over here and jumped Andy. We were trying to get him off."

"Bullshit," Evan screamed. "He was making fun of us and acting all big, like he's somebody special."

I just laid there rubbing my chin, watching like a spectator

"Since when is that a reason to beat on some kid half your size and two years younger than you?" the monitor asked.

"He's a punk ass kid. No one makes a fool out of me."

I jumped up and was ready to go after him, when Dax put his hand on my chest and pushed me back. "Stop. This guy attacked you. If you hit him, I'll have to take both of you to the office."

I pushed against his hand so I wouldn't seem afraid, but was glad his hand was there as I relaxed.

The monitor grabbed Evan by his Darth Vader t-shirt. "So you think beating up a kid half your size and two years younger than you makes you less of a fool? Maybe your brain is wired wrong. I'm taking you down to the office to find out."

Evan jerked away. "Get your hands off me. I can get there by myself."

The two of them headed toward the office as I brushed myself off, grabbed my chin, moved it around, and watched as Dax hauled Evan off. Evan turned around, flipped me off, and said, "This isn't over, asshole."

Matt nudged me. "Ignore him."

I shook him away. "Who the hell does he think he is?"

Emily shook her head. "Sometimes, Andy, you don't know when to keep your mouth shut."

I hated to admit it, but she was right. "Where's the blood coming from?" I asked.

Emily touched my cheek. "You have a big cut and bruise on your cheek. The cut might need stitches. Matt, why don't you take him to the nurse?"

Matt started toward the nurses office until I managed to say, "I'm don't need to go to the nurse. I'll be fine."

Matt shrugged. "Suit yourself, but you could end up having a big scar on that beautiful face of yours."

With that, I followed him to the nurse. She wrote Matt a hall pass and then proceeded to clean the wound, and to my relief, told me it wasn't as bad as it first looked and I didn't need stitches. My stomach still hurt some so the nurse let me lay down on the cot in her office until the next period started.

I have to tell you though, that as tough as I was acting when Evan left the room, I wondered what he had in mind when he said, "This isn't over, asshole." Maybe it's me everyone should be worried about and not Ollie.

Matt

Andy just didn't know when to keep his mouth shut. Sometimes he still doesn't. We lucked out when Sam felt bad about what he said about Ollie. He wasn't happy about us letting him go to the hospital, but he ended up being cool. But Evan, that asshole friend of his, was another story. I had to wonder why they were even friends.

What scared me was that Evan threatened Andy. Given the fact he managed to throw Andy on the floor, kick him in the stomach, and punch him in the face, I hated to think what he would do if he got Andy alone. It began to appear that it was Andy we had to protect and not Ollie.

Andy hobbled into the locker room before football practice. He was getting dressed when Coach Gilbert came by to see if he was all right. "I heard you got kicked and hit pretty hard at lunch. Are you good enough to practice? You can take the day off if you'd like."

"No, Coach. I'm fine."

Coach Gilbert patted him on the back. "Okay, but let me know if you don't feel well."

"I will, Coach."


Frank Kutcher came up to me. "Heard your best friend got fucked over at lunch. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy."

I gave Frank a sickening smile. "Unless it was you. But it never would because you have no balls and Andy does."

"Yeah, if you call defending fags as having balls."

I put my foot up on the bench to tie my shoelace. "Frank, you must be a fag yourself. Fags always seem to be on your mind. Are you looking for someone to lick those balls you're missing and to suck your little dick?"

He swept his hand across my calf and knocked my foot off the bench. I fell forward and smashed my head into the locker. I pulled back from the locker, spun around with my hands in a fist, and was going to hit Kutcher in the mouth. Fortunately, for me, chicken shit Kutcher, turned and walked away before I had a chance to punch him.


Our game against Piedmont High on Friday was a close one. Coach put me in on defense for a couple plays, but I walked the sidelines with Frank Kutcher following and agitating me the whole time. We were behind 14 to 13 going into the fourth quarter. We'd missed an extra point. I figured I wasn't going to see any playing time. Fate is a terrible thing because Gordon Thompson, our starting quarterback, got hit hard. He laid on the field for four or five minutes before he hobbled off. His eyes were glazed over and he looked disoriented. Then I heard. "Spence, get your ass in there for Thompson."

I put my helmet on and rushed onto the field as Coach Mills gave me a play number. It was second down and three yards to go. We made a first down. I glanced over to the sidelines and saw Kutcher staring daggers at me. Coach sent in a play with the wide receiver. This time it was a pass. I dropped back and saw Kealan Williams open. I was being rushed, but threw the ball as I went down. The crowd was screaming. A picture of everyone carrying me off the field on their shoulders flashed in my mind. That was until I got up and realized the other team had intercepted the ball.

I stared at Kutcher as I walked off the field. He had a big smile on his face. Coach Mills surprised me when he said, "You'll do better next time."

"Thanks, Coach," I said as I walked over to Kutcher. "That smile shows just how much of an asshole you are. You'd rather see us lose the game than have me look good. That's why you're a loser and will always be a loser."

He pushed me. "Fuck you, Spence." Kutcher moved away when he saw Coach Mills look over.

Piedmont didn't score on my interception. We got the ball back on our thirty-yard line. Thanks to luck, skill, and great catches by Kealan, we scored with three minutes left in the game. We missed the extra point again. But won 19 to 14. It was a sweat victory and my first varsity win. No one carried me off the field on their shoulders, but I got a lot of pats on the back and a "fuck you" from Frank Kutcher.

Andy

Matt won the varsity game for us. I was really proud of him. Coach Gilbert started me in the JV game, but I was too hurt to be effective, so he put Greg Johnson in. He did pretty well. We lost 14 to 7, but I didn't think it was Greg's fault. He didn't fumble or throw an interception. Our defense could have done better. I went up to him after the game and told him "nice game". It wasn't easy, but I sure didn't want to be like that asshole Frank Kutcher.

It sure would be nice if life was simple, but you already know from reading our journal that it wasn't. Randy cornered me at my locker after the game. Thomas had already headed home. "Me and Kyle are getting together this weekend. You want to join us?"

I said no as quickly as I could so I wouldn't be tempted to pause and think about it. Then said, "Besides, I'm grounded."

"That didn't stop you last time."

I pulled my t-shirt out of my locker and slipped it on as Randy looked me up and down. "I like what I see. I want to see the rest this weekend."

My determination was strong. "Forget it. My dad and I have a deal and I'm not breaking it. Got it. So fuck off."

He moved in close and whispered in my ear. His hot breath felt good. "Your parents go out on Sunday afternoon. We'll come by."

I pushed him away. "I said no. No means no. Besides, I'm hurt. Look at my face."

Matt must have heard me because he came around the lockers. "What's going on?"

Randy looked all innocent. "Oh nothing. Was just talking to Andy."

"Fuck you, Randy." I turned to Matt. "He's fucking with me. Says he and Kyle are coming over this weekend while my parents are out."

Matt stepped into Randy's space. "We were all fucked over by Dillon, but for some reason, you don't give a shit. You're just like him."

"That's not true. I'm not going after younger boys."

I laughed. "Yeah, because they're all 7th and 8th graders."

"You don't think I could find a few of them if I wanted?"

Matt shook his head. "That's sick. Andy and I have a deal. He's going to call me if you try any of your shit."

We hadn't really talked about it, but it made me feel good that he had my back. But hell, he was grounded too, what could he do? He couldn't come over and save me.

Randy grinned. "Good luck with that. You're grounded and poor Andy's going to have to fend for himself."

Desperation was in my voice. "I'll tell my parents."

Randy looked around to see if anyone was listening. "Yeah, tell them Kyle and me are coming over to fuck. I bet they'd love hearing that."

"My dad knows I'm gay. He already knows what we did. I'll tell him. And besides, I have too much to lose if we fuck around. Go find someone else. Why does it have to be me?"

He gave me a shit-eating grin. "Because you're hot, Andy. And Kyle wants you, not someone else."

Matt gave Randy a shove. "Knock this shit off, Randy. Haven't you learned yet that when a person says no, it means no. Are you planning on raping Andy?"

Randy pushed Matt back. "You mean like the way you were raped by Dillon? I bet you were begging for it. Look at you now, fucking around with me and Thomas."

That slowed Matt some. I saw a look of guilt cross his face.

I grabbed my coat out of my locker. "Let's get out of here Matt. The place is beginning to stink."

Matt and I headed out as we heard Randy's parting words. "See you Sunday, Andy."


Chapter Quote

Sometimes I wonder how many more beatings I'll get in my lifetime. Each one takes a little more of my soul and my heart. I know I am different, but that doesn't mean I don't need love. I never knew it would be so hard to hear the words, "I Love You." I don't even hear it from my parents. Since I am different, I am an embarrassment to them. If one day somebody says those three little words to me and meant them, I think I might cry for days. I don't blame my haters for hating me, because I am beginning to hate myself. I have had so many bruised and busted lips from being hit and red marks all over my body. Dark rings around my eyes from either being hit or just from not being able to sleep. My heart has so much love to give, but nobody wants it. Maybe someday they will beat me bad enough and my suffering will end. -- Fourteen Year-Old Dylan

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