Knots, Book 4

by Elias Scott

Chapter 11

Matt

I was actually looking forward to Friday's game even though I wasn't starting. I might have even cheered Frank Kutcher on if he wasn't such an asshole. But instead, I walked the sidelines waiting for my chance. We were behind 14 to 13 at halftime because of a missed extra point. Coach Gilbert gave us a pep talk during halftime as we were getting ready to head back out on the field, looked over and winked at me. That made me think that Kutcher was toast, and I was going to get my shot. But Frank started the second half while I still waited for my chance.

The other team scored another touchdown, making it 21 to 13. Frank couldn't get the ball moving. Coach motioned me over. "Go in when we go on offense again. Let me see what you can do."

We punted and the other team managed to move the ball from their 20-yard line to midfield before preparing to punt. I glanced over and saw Coach Gilbert talking to Frank, who had his helmet off and a dejected look on his face. He glanced over at me as I put my helmet on and prepared to go out on the field.

Sometimes we forget the important things in life. I'd forgotten how good it felt to be on the football field under the lights in the cool fall air. Forgot the surge of adrenaline that fires through every muscle as you prepare to lead the team. A smile crossed my face as I realized that I still had one more year of this and counted my blessings that I wasn't in a wheelchair like Andy. Those images and memories of that summer and the trial would always be in my mind, but I figured they'd dwindle with time, or at least I hoped they would.

Even though we'd been practicing for quite a few weeks and already had a couple of games behind us, I wasn't sure how the guys were going to react to this gay kid leading them. I looked around the huddle as they waited for the call and I can remember thinking that all these straight guys are probably visualizing me having sex with three other guys. They waited for me to call the play and nothing came out of my mouth. Finally someone asked, "Are you going to call a play or not?"

I nodded. I managed to get the play out, broke the huddle, and put my hands under the center's butt. A whole lot of naked butts, whose holes I'd licked or fucked, flashed through my mind. I couldn't control my mind so I shook my head back and forth to clear the thoughts, gave the count, and handed the ball off to Greg Johnson who ran for three yards. Coach sent in a pass and I managed to get the ball to Kealan who got us a first down. Coach Gilbert mixed runs with passes until we'd moved down to the other team's ten-yard line and I connected with Kealan in the end zone. I'm not sure how I did it. Yes, football is a team sport, and I couldn't do it by myself. The guys rallied round me. I guess winning was more important to them than my gay lifestyle. Even then, and after everything I had done, I still found it hard to say I was gay. But after everything that had happened, there wasn't any more doubt in my mind. It was kind of a relief when I was finally able to admit it.

Somehow the game became more important than anything else, and it was that that cleared my head and helped me to focus. I couldn't wait to tell Dr. Walker about it the next day. We ended up losing the game 21 to 20, but I'd shown that I still had leadership abilities in me. And for a short time I even felt sorry for Frank Kutcher, whose time at starting quarterback was soon coming to an end.

Andy

I went to Mr. Lynch's office after school because I wanted to tell him about Jason Settles. Maybe it wasn't my place, but I trusted Lynch and thought it would help if he was aware that I'd suggested Jason talk to him. That way he'd expect him and if he didn't show, I'd find out.

Mr. Lynch was at his desk correcting papers or something when I wheeled my chair in front of his desk.

He looked up. "Nice to see you, Andy."

I cleared my throat. "I need to talk to you about something. It's kind of personal, but it's not about me." I told him about my conversation with Jason.

He seemed uncomfortable. "Andy, do you think it's your place to tell me about Jason before he talks to me?"

"I don't know. It just seemed like the right thing to do. He came to me and I sent him to you. I could have given him advice, but I didn't. I thought you should know. Hell, for all we know he could commit suicide or something over this."

"From what you told me, it doesn't sound like it's gotten to that."

"Maybe you're right, but I threatened him."

He gave me a serious look. "Threatened him?"

"Yeah, I told him if he didn't come and talk to you, I'd have you send for him during class."

Lynch shook his head. "Andy, I don't know what I'm going to do about you."

"It was the only way to get him to see you. Now if he doesn't come, you can't make me look bad and not send for him. He needs to know what I said is true."

"Andy, at times you seem so mature, and at others times you kind of run off the train tracks."

"Mr. Lynch, I admit I do some stupid things at times. Look, I'm in a wheelchair." Of course he had no idea what I'd done to get there. "But I care about what happens to people. Jason needs our help."

He grabbed a pencil and started scribbling on a piece of paper. "I get your point. But may I ask on what pretense I should call him in to see me? What if his parents found out and wanted to know why the GSA advisor called their son in for a talk?"

"You're also the student activities director." I leaned in and whispered, "Anyway, I'm hoping it doesn't come to that. I told him he had to come talk to you or else, so hopefully he will. But I thought you should know."

"Okay. I know. I'll let you know if he comes in. Let's give him until Monday. But the burden to get him here is on your shoulders and not mine. Got it?" Lynch cleared his throat. Andy, you also need to be realistic. I may be the student activities director, but I'd have to have a reason to call him in, and as you know, his parents would probably only focus on me being GSA advisor."

"I was hoping you were going to make it easy."

"Andy, you should have learned by now that nothing in life is usually easy."

Randy and Derrick

Randy's eyes grew wide when they got to the gate that locked the rest of the world out from where Noland lived. Derrick gave the guard their names. He picked up the phone and dialed Noland's number. "Mr. Chatsworth, there are two gentleman here to see you." The guard nodded into the phone and opened the gate. The world they entered was a world far different from their own. The homes in the gated community were two-story mansions with large yards. The homes were either on the golf course or on a manmade lake.

"Damn, Derrick. We're not only going to be movie stars, but we're going to live like kings."

Noland met them at the door, put his arms over their shoulders, and escorted them through the high ceilinged entry hall that had a huge crystal chandelier hanging in the middle of the hall. A circular stairway wound its way to the second floor. There were two large rooms on either side of the entry; one was a living room with conservative furniture and the other was a wood paneled room that had bookshelves filled with books that rose to the ceiling.

Randy pointed to all the books. "Who has time to read?"

"All show, Randy. We want the place to look legit."

They walked through the library and through the kitchen that was the size of Randy's living room. His eyes were wide as they walked out to the covered swimming pool.

"The pool is covered in the winter," Noland said as he swept his arms around the area. "This all comes down when the weather gets warm. You can take a swim after lunch if you'd like. Give me a taste of your acting ability."

Derrick and Randy glanced at each other.

Noland smiled. "No cameras. But I'd like to watch you two have sex. I thought it would be nice to do around the pool. You don't mind, do you?"

Derrick answered. "No, that's why we're here. Anything for you, Mr. Chatsworth."

"Call me Noland. No need to be formal."

Randy took advantage of his informality. "Noland. I like that name. What's for lunch, Noland?"

Noland gave Randy a quick short glance. "Sandwiches. What else?"

They had lunch at the kitchen table which sat inside a bay window that looked out onto the golf course. A young man in his early twenties served them. Derrick and Randy both took notice.

"Does he do movies too?" Randy asked.

"Sometimes. He lives here full time. Helps out now and then. We're kinda together.

Derrick raised his eyebrows. "Oh."

Noland didn't miss a beat. "His name's Greg. Greg, this is Randy and Derrick. They're going to be working here."

Greg shook Randy's hand and then Derrick's. "Nice to meet you. Noland is great to work for. Noland suggested maybe he'd have me join you in the pool. Would you mind?"

Randy and Derrick gave each other quick looks. "That would be great," Derrick said.

Randy nodded. The day was overcast and there wasn't much to see. Randy finished chewing the last bite of his sandwich. "This is awesome. Will we make enough money to live like this someday?"

"Randy, it took me many years to get here. And of course, there's always a risk."

Randy squinted. "Risk?"

"Yes. You're not legal and the movies we make aren't legal. But they do sell for a lot of money to guys who can afford them. Some women too. You'd be surprised how many women like gay porn."

Greg started to leave. "Be back in a flash."

Noland opened a bottle of wine and held the bottle up. "Want some?"

They both nodded.

He filled the wine glasses Greg had left on the sink. "All the bedrooms are upstairs. I have some ideas on how to use them, but that's still in the works."

"We're not prostitutes," Randy said.

Noland gave a small grunt. "Not from what I experienced. Seems like I paid you a lot of money for some damn good sex."

Derrick took a sip of wine. "Mr. Chatsworth, we don't want to do that anymore. That's why we're here. We want to make movies. Randy and I are a team."

"A team?"

"We work together. You can't have one without the other."

Noland frowned. "I don't much care for that idea."

"Look, Randy's only fifteen. He's here because I'm here. So we work together or we don't work at all."

"So that's how it is?"

"Yes, Mr. Chatsworth."

He smiled. "That's fine for now. You never know what the future holds. Shall we head out to the pool? Take your wine with you."

Matt

I couldn't wait to get to Dr. Walker's that Saturday. Things weren't perfect by any means, but I felt like I was headed in the right direction. It's not like everything was behind me. In fact, it would never be completely behind me, but I was moving ahead with my life. Sex was important, but suddenly I realized there were other things just as important, if not more important, than sex and money we couldn't spend. Although I'd have to say, it was nice to have earned a little money for college. The feeling of being on the football field that Friday, the smell of the grass, and the cheers of the crowd, made me realize how much I loved football. Even the thought of running for junior class president was starting to seem small in my head.

We sat in our usual positions in Dr. Walker's office. This time he had a glass of water for me on the table next to us. "So how was your week?"

I took a sip of water. "Much better. No need to even consider drugs." I held the glass up like I was making a toast. "Matt is back."

"What happened?"

"Coach Gilbert, the head coach, talked to me and I got a little playing time this week. Even threw a pass for a touchdown. We still lost, but I felt like I was crawling back into my own skin. I also talked to Mr. Lynch about running for junior class president."

Walker wrote something down. "I see. What do you mean crawling back into your own skin?"

I paused because I had no idea why I said that. "It was like the old Matt had stepped out for a while. Some crazy person took his place. I don't know how else to explain it. Last week I was scared. You know how people are always talking about finding themselves. Well, I knew who I was before I changed. I didn't realize it until this week."

"Why do you think that is?"

"There you go Doc, with that Why stuff?"

He smiled. "Yes, it takes years of training to learn how to ask why in just the right way."

I laughed. "Good one. Anyway, Coach has always talked to us about attitude. He loves saying, 'Your attitude is showing.' So I changed my attitude."

"What's that have to do with you crawling back into your skin?"

"Hmm, it's like I lost myself somewhere. You know, like a vampire came and sucked out all my blood and put in different blood or something like that. I'm having trouble explaining it. Those words about crawling back into my own skin just came out."

"I see."

That was a new one. That was the second time he said, "I see."

He went on. "I think it's important that we discuss this. The answer is in your head. You said you crawled back into your skin. That would lead me to think that you feel like you had crawled out at one point. That you weren't sucked out by some vampire. It sounded more like you crawled out by choice. What do you think?"

I had to think about that one. "Dr. Walker, I think you're onto something." I took another sip of water. "I made some bad decisions. In a way, I did choose to crawl out. I notice it in my parents' eyes when they look at me and know the things I've done and wonder what happened to the old Matt, the one they knew as their son."

Walker looked me in the eye. "What filled your skin when you crawled out?"

Damn. Who knew that simple statement was going to lead to all these questions? "I hate to say Dr. Walker, but I don't think anything filled it. That's why I felt so empty last week, so lost and unmotivated. Not just last week, but for quite a while. There was just this feeling of emptiness. You know what I mean?"

"I believe so."

It was obvious there wasn't any way he was going to make this easy for me. There was a long silence as he waited for me to talk. I tried to outwait him, but he won. "So, I think that when I said I crawled back into my skin, I think I was saying I filled that emptiness with the guy I was before. Does that make sense?"

"Yes. You mentioned changing your attitude. What did you do?"

"I talked to Andy and he said you told him to give the week his best effort. I'm not sure why you didn't tell me that, but it made sense, so I gave my best effort for the week. After all, it was only a week, and I figured I could manage that. You know, baby steps and all that. And it worked."

"I have to apologize, Matt." Walker rubbed his forehead. "I realized I should have told you that before you left, but it was too late by time I thought of it. I'm human too."

"You don't have to explain. I know all too well about being human. You told Andy. He and I talk, always have. We don't always agree with each other, but I think we're closer now than we've ever been. So your advice got to me through him."

"I'm glad. So you gave your best effort and what exactly happened?"

"I see you have changed from why to what? That must have taken a long time to learn."

He smiled. "You're very observant."

"No, it's just that I have to answer these damn questions and you are forcing me to think and do all the work."

"You're avoiding the question. "What exactly happened when you changed your attitude?"

I let out a breath. "Coach noticed it. Even Frank Kutcher noticed it. He's the starting quarterback. Or at least he was. Instead of walking down the halls in silence and avoiding all eye contact, I looked at other students as we passed each other in the halls. I smiled and did my best to stand up straight instead of slumping. To be honest, I didn't realize I'd been looking down at the ground most of the time. When I looked at the students, I didn't see anger or disgust. They smiled back or nodded or said hello. And little by little, over the week I found myself. Playing in the game Friday night was the clincher."

Walker grinned. "When you say you found yourself, where were you? Did you find yourself in your locker or in front of the school or out on the football field?"

I laughed. "Very funny…No, I think that's what I meant when I said I crawled back into myself. I was going to say obviously I was there all the time, but I think it was seeing how others reacted to me once I changed my attitude that made me realize I was still there. That I was captain of my soul. I heard something like that somewhere."

Walker wrote something down then looked at me. "It's from 'Invictus' by William Ernest Henly. The last stanza reads: 'It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.' I was forced to memorize that poem when I was your age."

"We read that in English and the captain of my soul was all I could remember."

"Well, now you know it all, well, at least the last stanza."

I leaned my forearms on my thighs. "Thanks, Dr. Walker. The last part, I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul. That's it. I have a feeling this week is going to be better than last week."

"That's good to hear. So I guess we don't have to talk about drugs?"

"Nope. A change of attitude is the best prescription."

He stood up. "Matt, I'm going to give you a little homework. Go online and find 'Invictus' and read it. I want to know what you think when you come in next week."

I rose. "I will. And thanks, Dr. Walker. You're making a big difference in my life. I'm not sure what would have happened if I kept on like I was."

He patted me on the back. "You did all the work. I'm just the guide that helped you find yourself in your locker."

I turned around to face him. "Yeah, you're the guy who helped me find myself in my locker." I threw my arms around him and gave him a big hug. "Thanks, Dr. Walker. You may have saved my life."


Chapter Quotes

Searching is half the fun: life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party. - Jimmy Buffett

I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me. - Anna Quindlen

That peace which is within us, we must experience it. And if we are searching for peace outside we will never find the peace within. - Prem Rawat

What I can say is that all my characters are searching for their souls, because they are my mirrors. I'm someone who is constantly trying to understand my place in the world, and literature is the best way that I found in order to see myself. - Paulo Coelho

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