Knots, Book 4

by Elias Scott

Chapter 3

Matt

I got a kick out of Thomas when he talked about Colt. It seemed like being experienced had its drawbacks. Thomas sounded patient though. You could do that when you really cared for someone. I'd been observing them on campus and Colt looked so unsure of himself. Thomas was shy, but in this situation, he felt both confident and unsure of himself at the same time. They sat by each other at the GSA meetings and sometimes held hands. Personally, I'm not into public displays of affection, but that's me.

The GSA club was up to around thirty members of all types. It was a good place for gay members like Thomas and Colt to hook up, but also a place for gay people and straight people to become friends. Some new kids who joined included a couple of cheerleaders and some basketball and football players who were all straight. That helped the club gain some respect. I have always felt that my sexuality was private so I didn't claim either side, preferring to be considered bisexual. Of course it was hard not being labeled after our foursome became public knowledge. Time might not heal everything and there were always people like Frank Kutcher and Jackass Barnes who would never forget or let you forget, but on the whole, even Gina, Emily, Alan, and Ernie appeared to have forgiven even if they hadn't forgotten. Alan and Ernie finally joined the GSA mostly because of their on-again off-again relationships with Emily and Carmen were on again and they soon began joining us at our lunch table. We finally had to move to a bigger table.

Gina

Gina was more confused than ever. Everything that came out at the trial confused her even more. She asked herself, Is Matt gay or bi? Did I care? Did I like him enough to ignore everything that happened? Her answer was, I did like him and I did care. Matt was too hard to pin down. She'd noticed he didn't spend any time with anyone but Andy, but she knew they weren't an item. As far as she knew, Randy was whoring along with Andy.

It never occurred to her that Matt would be into any of that stuff. He just wasn't the type, and of course readers know just how wrong she was. She'd enjoyed their last date. She would have liked to have had sex with him, but wanted to wait, and then he never asked her out again. She was disappointed and had gone out with a couple of other guys, but they weren't Matt. She tried to sit next to him every day at lunch with the hope he would ask her out, but he seemed to have decided that they were just friends. She was ready to give up on him, when out of the blue, he asked her if she wanted to go out to dinner and a movie. Her look of surprise made him pull back a little. "What's wrong? You don't want to go out?"

"Yeah, but it came as a surprise. You seemed preoccupied all summer and now that school started again you decided to ask me out? What's up?"

He gave her a questioning and unsure look. "I don't really know, Gina. I had a busy summer, earned a little money, and decided that I needed to slow down."

"So I'm your slow-down person? That's not very flattering."

Matt turned his head slightly before shrugging. "You know what I mean. I need to settle down, and I thought going back to the way things were would help. What do you think?"

Gina put her hand on his shoulder. "I'm not sure anything can ever go back to the way things were."

"We can try, can't we? Come on. It's just dinner and a movie. What can it hurt?"

She hesitated. "I guess you're right. It's just dinner and a movie."

"So you'll go then?" he asked.

"I guess so."

"You don't sound very excited."

She took a bite of her sandwich. "What can I say? I'm mixed up. You're mixed up. I'm beginning to think you don't have any idea who you are anymore, Matt."

"That's what I'm trying to work out. You're my rock, Gina. I feel like myself when I'm with you."

She looked at him with pursed lips and squinting eyes. "Me. Why me? You've hardly given me the time of day all summer and now you call me your rock."

"I'm screwed up. What else can I say? I don't know who I am anymore. Why don't we go out to the pond on Saturday and just swim and swing on the rope like old times."

Ollie pointed around the table. "Can we all come? It sounds like fun."

All heads nodded and that set all plans of a one-on-one with Gina to the side. Alan added, "Maybe we should invite anyone who wants to come and make a real party of it."

Gina nodded. "That's a great idea. Let's spread the word and we'll make it a picnic. We'll have everyone bring their own food, enough for themselves and one other person. We'll have plenty of food that way. You guys take care of bringing blankets to sit on. Tell everyone else to do the same."

Matt suddenly realized he had screwed the whole thing up. He really wanted to go there with just Gina. "I was thinking of it just being you and me."

She smiled. "Tell you what, Matt. If we have the picnic, I'll go out to dinner and a movie with you on Sunday. Deal?"

Matt was upset but decided to take what he could get. "Okay," he said with a kind of a grumble.

Gina poked Emily who poked Carmen and the three of them got up and spread the word to other juniors. Soon the whole school knew. Little did they know what kind of a picnic it was going to be that Saturday.

Matt

Damn, I tried to get Gina to go out with me and we ended up with a picnic at the pond with everyone and their mother there. I'm not even sure why I asked her out. It was like I just had this unexplainable desire to spend some one-on-one time with her. Hell, after whoring all summer, I thought going out with a girl would be something different. Maybe give me a different perspective. Then I had the bright idea of going out to the pond, kinda for the same reason, and suddenly Ollie got the stupid idea that they should all come. I started thinking I was going to have to strangle that kid.

Andy was still stuck in bed and we were having our first game that Friday, so I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. Andy was going to be disappointed that he was going to miss the game and the picnic. And of course he thought I was crazy for wanting to go out with Gina in the first place.

I stopped by after football practice to tell him. His mom and dad let us have some privacy.

"I thought you liked guys," Andy said with a questioning sound in his voice.

"I do like guys. But can't a guy like girls too? After all, they do represent fifty percent of the population. I'm beginning to think maybe that instead of selling myself I should have found some girl who was selling herself and gotten a taste of what women have to offer."

Andy laughed. "No need to pay. There's plenty of girls willing to give it for free. I know."

"Well, I don't want your reputation. Then I'd never be able to get a date with Gina or any girl like her. Hell, I used to be able to have sex with you or Thomas anytime I wanted. Now he's got Colton and your ass and cock are stuck in bed."

"I'm sorry you're so disappointed, but I'd be happy to trade places with you."

I hung my head. "You're right. Sorry, Andy."

He gave me a serious look. "Do you think we have a future together?"

"I wish I knew. I'm so screwed up, I don't know which end is up. Hell, I'm not sure I have a future with myself. And you know how I feel about commitment. We're always going to be friends and we can have sex with each other whenever we want. Well, except for right now. Our situation is truly one of a friend with benefits."

Andy laughed. "You're right. You're my FWB."

I gave him a questioning look.

"You can really be dense sometimes," he said with a big smile. "You know FWB. Friend with Benefits."

I laughed. "You're right. I am dense sometimes."

Emily

Emily always seemed more in tune with the world around her, but Emily was having her own doubts about Andy and Matt. She wanted to believe Andy's story, but something just wasn't right. She'd known Andy too long and knew that sometimes he was willing to try anything for the experience of it. But the idea of him being a male prostitute didn't seem possible. She wasn't sure how she'd react if she found out it was true.

Andy had always been her closest friend next to Gina. Yeah, he was gay, but she didn't care. Well, actually she did care because she liked him and wished he was interested in her and not other guys. He was her first real kiss and date. She'd rubbed her hands up and down those fine abs of his and might have gone further given more time and different circumstances. But she thought she wasn't ready when they were freshman, and while she occasionally had her regrets, was happy she'd held off.

She liked Alan. He was a gentleman and treated her the way she wanted to be treated, but he was shy and not very aggressive when it came to sex. She'd become the aggressor and he responded, but she began to think of herself as a prick teaser because she would put a stop to his advances when he got turned on. That pissed Alan off, but then he didn't think he was quite ready himself to lose his virginity. So they dated and made out and touched each other and left it at that. It left them a little satisfied and quite frustrated at the same time.

Emily talked to Alan about her doubts regarding Andy's story. "What do you think about Andy's story? Do you really think it happened that way?"

"If he says so."

"Damn, you piss me off sometimes," she said as she slapped him on the shoulder. "Haven't you given this any thought? Do you think he was just randomly beat up by some guy while he was in Rockbury playing around with Randy, and skipping out on football practice?" Aren't you suspicious?"

"Emily, he told us what happened. Leave it at that. Do you really want to know more?"

"Yes and no."

"So you'd be happy to find out that Andy is or was a male prostitute? I for one, don't want to know. He's our friend and I hope he's not that stupid. But you know Andy. Who knows?"

Emily nodded. "I know you're right. But damn, my curiosity's got the best of me. Gina too. And what about Matt? You've heard the rumors that he and Andy were prostituting together."

Alan gave Emily a surprised look. "Come on Emily. Matt? Never."

"So you think the rumors are false?"

"Of course. No one would ever think Matt would do something like that."

Emily pursed her lips. "Well, we might not, but the rumors are traveling all over the school and he's getting ready to run for junior class president. I can just see the campaign signs now."

"Nah, Emily," he said as he held the palm of his hand out toward her. "The school won't allow them to go that far."

"They don't have to. They can just imply it. It kind of scares me. I don't think he should run and neither does Gina."

"Did you tell him that?"

"No. Gina and I talked about it, but he seems set on running. If all that foursome stuff hadn't come out at Dillon's trial, maybe it wouldn't stick. But it pretty much damaged Matt's clean reputation."

Alan inhaled deeply then let out a loud breath. "I think you're right. But there's no reason why he shouldn't just move on. He still seems the same to me." Alan paused a couple of beats. "Well, almost the same. Something seems to be bothering him. Did you see the way he acted the other day with Gina and the pond thing. Plus he doesn't seem to know if he's straight or gay. It's like he's being split in two. I kinda feel sorry for him."

"So what you're saying is we shouldn't worry about it? Let him do his thing? It's not our life, it's his? Right?"

"Right! You're not his mother, Emily."

She nodded. "True, but Gina's concerned and it makes me concerned. But you know life moves on and what we do usually has consequences. And good friends should worry about their friends."

"Maybe so, but you had nothing to do with Dillon or the foursome or any of that. None of us did. It would have been different if Dillon wasn't prosecuted and all that stuff hadn't come out, but he was, and everyone found out something that should have remained private. Like they say, shit happens."

"You're right. Shit does happen. I just hate seeing our friends get hurt. But hey, they have to take some responsibility for what they do. The only thing we can do is be there for them."

"Right, Em. We can only be there for them. Are you going to the pond this Saturday?"

"Wouldn't miss it."

Gina and Emily

Gina and Emily got together after school on Thursday to talk about the picnic. Gina was excited, but Emily had her doubts. "This is going to be one hell of a party. There could be drugs, sex, and rock and roll as they say."

Gina shook her head. "You know what, Em, I never thought about that. It's a lot different than when we were freshmen and sophomores. Now that the whole school knows about it, the place is going to be packed, and who knows what might happen. Someone could drown."

Emily laughed. "Maybe we should hire some lifeguards."

"It's not funny. We need to have at least a few of us who are sober and keep an eye out for people. I'm sure a lot of seniors will be there. Sophomores and freshmen, not so much, but the seniors can be real jerks sometimes, especially the ones who hate Matt and the GSA. It could turn nasty."

"Gina, you worry too much, but I agree. We should get a couple of guys to be lifeguards and bouncers or something. I don't have the slightest idea who'd be willing to do it. Everyone will want to party. It's supposed to be nice this weekend too. Maybe we should pray for rain."

Gina laughed. "Rain might be the only solution, but like Shakespeare said in Julius Caesar, 'the die is cast.'"

"Afraid so. Let's pray for the best. But Gina, look on the bright side. No matter what, you'll still have a date with Matt on Sunday."

"You mean the new Matt. The one who doesn't know who he is. The confused guy who doesn't know if he's gay or not. The guy that was off doing who knows what all summer and didn't have time for any of us. Sometimes I think those stories about Andy and him are true."

"You mean being male prostitutes?"

Gina rolled her eyes. "Yeah, that's exactly what I mean. Something isn't right. Haven't you noticed that Matt doesn't say much about it? All of us have our doubts about what happened and he doesn't have any doubts. I think he knows more than he's saying."

"Tell you what, Gina. After the picnic on Saturday, you'll have your date on Sunday to interrogate him. See what you can find out, because I'm curious too."

"I'll do that. But first we have to make sure we all make it through Saturday in one piece."

"You're right about that."

Andy

Matt came by and told me everyone was going out to the pond that coming Saturday. I wanted to go so badly. I'd wanted to go to the football game too. But I had to lay in bed on the verge of tears for what had happened in my life. I remember thinking, I would have preferred learning from someone else's wisdom and experience than learning from my own lack of wisdom and experience. I'd come to the conclusion that experience is overrated.

Coach Gilbert told us a story during basketball last winter. It's a true story about a study they did on shooting free throws in basketball. They did the study at the University of Chicago. I remember all this because it really made an impression on me. They split people into three groups and had them shoot free throws to get a base line for each person. I'm not sure how many free throws they shot. But anyway, they counted the number of free throws they made. Now, here's the kicker: one group went out on the basketball court and practiced shooting free throws every day for an hour. The second group practiced shooting free throws in their head for an hour. The third group did nothing. Which group do you think did better? If you use logic, you'd say the group that shot free throws on the basketball court. But guess what? Those who practiced on the basketball court and those who practiced in their heads improved almost by the same amount. The actual shooters improved 24 percent and the mental group 23 percent. The third group didn't improve at all. What does that tell you about actual experience? Yeah, like I said, it's overrated, and in my case, was full of pain and regret. Matt's experience wasn't much better than mine even though he didn't get the shit kicked out of him. He's going to have to pay because the memories of what we did will always be with him and/or they will affect his relationships with his future partner whether they're male or female. We're now in our twenties and I see a little bit of how Matt's paying for what we did when we were sixteen.

Matt

Unfortunately, Coach Gilbert started Frank Kutcher as the quarterback that Friday. I was sure I was going to start, but Frank hung in there just long enough to hold onto the job, more because he was a senior than the fact that he was much better than me. It was only the first game of the season and I knew he'd lose the job to me. Coach Gilbert pulled me to the side on Thursday and told me I might have started, but I didn't seem focused. He wanted to know what was bothering me, but I couldn't tell him.

I just said, "Nothing, Coach. I'll be fine. You'll see. I'll be back to normal next week." I'm not sure I believed it. Images from everything Andy and I had done that summer would often flash into my head while we were at practice. Sometimes they brought pleasure, but most of the time they brought shame. It's too bad our mind isn't like a whiteboard, where you can take an eraser and erase the parts you don't like. Or better yet, like a film where you can cut the whole section out and the images are gone and thrown into the trash or burned. But our minds are not whiteboards or pieces of celluloid and we have to watch the whole movie. So that whole week I was thinking about what was going to happen if everything got out, thinking about whether I should still run for junior class president, and thinking about the summer of sex and the $9200 that was stashed in our garage. I was only sixteen and felt like I was fifty. And it wasn't anyone's fault but my own. I had tied all the knots in my life. It wasn't Andy or my parents or my friends. It was me, Matt Spence.

Coach put me in the final quarter after Frank managed to actually complete a few passes, not fumble, or look like a fool. The score was 24 to 7. Frank and I passed each other as he stomped off the field and I jogged over to take his spot. He gave me a dirty look before he said, "No way you're going to look as good as me, Spence."

"Fuck you, Frank. It won't take much to look better than you. You were just lucky."

"We'll see," he said as he hit my helmet with the metal end of his chin strap.

The echo in my helmet made my heart skip a beat and for some reason it made me lose my confidence. I got in the huddle, looked into the guys' faces, and saw, or at least thought I saw, doubt, and lack of trust in my leadership. Looking back on it, I believe it was all in my head. But at that moment, I doubted myself and thought they doubted me too. I fumbled the ball on the first play, threw an interception on the second, and Coach pulled me out. Kutcher gave me a big smile as he passed me. "I told you you'd never look as good as me."

Unfortunately, at that moment and at that time, he was right.


Chapter Quotes

Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on. - Maxwell Maltz

No one else can take risks for us, or face our losses on our behalf, or give us self-esteem. No one can spare us from life's slings and arrows… - Martha Beck

To establish true self-esteem we must concentrate on our successes and forget about the failures and the negatives in our lives. - Denis Waitley

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