Knots, Book 4
by Elias Scott
Jason was standing in the hall waiting for me when I rolled into school. He stepped in front of my chair. "Can we talk?"
"Depends. Are you going to see Mr. Lynch?"
"I don't think so. I want to keep it between us."
I tried to move my chair around him. "Hey, it's up to you. You can bring a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
He became a moving target by stepping in front of me wherever I rolled. "What do you mean by that?"
"What do you think I mean?"
"Hell if I know. I asked you for help and you send me off to Lynch. I want you to help me, not Lynch."
"Maybe so, but I'm not qualified." I motioned for him to lean down so I could whisper in his ear. "I can give you encouragement and talk to you about what it's like living as a gay teen, but that's all. You need to talk to Mr. Lynch. That's my advice. You did come to me for advice, didn't you?" Kids were walking around us and giving us both stares. "Do you really want to stand here in the middle of the hall and talk?" I asked.
"No, but I want you to meet with me again."
"Sorry, I gave you my advice. It's up to you what you do now."
"Really? That's all you've got to say?"
I finally rolled around him and he chased me down the hall. "Wait. Stop."
I kept going. He stopped. I turned back to him. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."
Jason stood there watching Andy roll down the hall in his wheelchair. He kept mulling over Andy's words about the horse and the water. Why didn't he just tell me what he meant?
Jason didn't move for a second or two. He started toward class and then turned back toward the office. He did this three times before finally going into the guidance office and asking to see Mr. Lynch. Mr. Lynch had checked Jason's file folder and when he saw him standing at the secretary's desk, opened his door, stuck his head out, and asked Jason to step into his office.
Jason spoke softly. "Did Andy talk to you?"
Mr. Lynch nodded. "Yes he did. Neither of us were sure you were going to come by. I'm glad to see you."
Jason dropped his head and looked away embarrassed. Mr. Lynch put his hand on Jason's shoulder and guided him into his office. "Would you like to talk now or later?"
"Now, if you don't mind," he said in a low voice. "I'm not sure I'd make it back here."
Mr. Lynch smiled. "I understand."
"I talked to Andy in the hall, and he left the decision to come here up to me. Said something about leading a horse to water and not being able to make him drink. I guess I'm the horse."
That brought a wider smile to Mr. Lynch's face. "Well, I'm glad you came to drink."
Jason managed a small smile as he sat down in a chair in front of Mr. Lynch's desk. "I see what you mean." Jason paused then asked, "What did Andy tell you?"
"That you had some concerns about the possibility of being gay. He didn't say you were gay, but that he thought we should talk."
"My parents would kill me if they thought I was gay."
"What makes you say that?"
Jason squirmed in his chair. "They're always making remarks about gay guys. They call them fairies and fags. It hurts every time they say stuff like that."
"Is that because you think they're talking about you?"
"I don't know." Jason fumbled with his fingers. "Like I said, I don't know if I'm gay or not. I like looking at guys more than girls."
Mr. Lynch scratched his cheek. "Do you think that's what separates gay guys from straight guys – looking at other boys?"
"I don't know. I just know that I do. Isn't that what gay guys do?"
"When I was a kid, I looked at guys all the time. Compared myself to them. Most guys won't admit that. But it's normal. You compare your body to theirs and envy the guys with the great bodies, or at least what we think is a great body." He was tempted to say something about comparing penis size, but decided against it. "I'm not sure that makes you gay. I'm married now, but am still envious of guys that are younger than me, better built, nicer looking, or thinner than me."
Jason dropped his head and mumbled, "Did you look at girls too?"
"Yes, I did. How about you?"
"Girls don't interest me at all. That's why I think I'm gay."
Mr. Lynch put his forearms on the desk and leaned in toward Jason. "Let's assume for this discussion that you are gay. What do you see happening? What do you think you need to do?"
Jason shook his head and tears formed in his eyes. "I don't know. I really don't know. That's why I talked to Andy and now you."
"Do you think you need to take some action of some sort or do you think it might be better not to do or say anything?"
"If I'm gay, I want to be true to who I am."
"Is that a requirement?"
"I don't know. I really wish I didn't have these feelings, and life could be simple again like it was when I was younger, before puberty."
"Jason, I'm not sure if it helps, but every boy hits puberty and everyone experiences doubts and questions. It's normal. So don't be so hard on yourself."
A tear rolled down Jason's cheek. "But not every boy likes other boys."
"True. But think of it--every boy hangs out mostly with boys during their early years. They don't like girls. It changes with time, but it's not like young boys don't like other boys. Guys still love their guy friends even when they start dating girls. Have you ever been on a date?"
"No. I don't want to go out with a girl, and I'm sure not going to ask another boy."
"Do you have a lot of guy friends?"
"Not many. I'm kind of a loner."
"Do you have feelings for any of your guy friends?
"Yeah, my best friend. Neither of us are athletes like Andy and Matt. We spend a lot of time playing video games and studying together."
Mr. Lynch would have preferred not to ask the next question, but thought maybe he should while he had Jason in his office. "Have you and your best friend ever done anything sexual together?"
"No. But. But." Jason went silent.
"I think I understand. I understand your confusion and see that you are caught between what you feel and what your parents think. That's a tough spot. This kind of brings us back to what I asked you earlier. Do your feelings require you to do or say anything? Is there any reason why you can't just remain silent about your feelings? Do you need to tell your parents or anyone else? I'm here for you. You can talk to me and get these feelings out. But for now, you don't have to do more than that. Your personal life is private. The world doesn't have to know about it or how you feel or any of those things. Talking to me is the right thing. We'll just keep this between you, me, and Andy, okay?"
Jason wiped the tears from his cheeks, nodded, and spoke through his tears. "Okay. I think you're right. When can I see you again?"
The dreaded the junior class elections that were taking place that week. Committees were formed, speeches prepared, and speeches given. GSA members made up my committee. What was nice was that there were straight and gay members. I'm not sure the student body realized that. I think they thought of GSA as strictly a gay club. But so be it. I was running and would do my best. That's all I could do.
We had a nomination assembly on Tuesday, speeches on Thursday, and elections on Friday. I called Andy on Sunday and asked him to nominate me on Tuesday.
"Me nominate you? You must be kidding. My standards are higher than that."
I whispered into the phone. "Fuck you, Andy. Just nominate me. Don't give me shit. I don't need it right now."
"Hell, given your attitude, I'm not sure I'm willing to nominate you. You need to bend down and kiss my ass." There was a pause. "Well, maybe lick it a little too."
"I'm going to bend down and take a bite out of it next time I see you if you don't knock this shit off."
"Damn, what a foul mouth. Is that the way you're going to talk when you give your speech?"
"Will you nominate me or not?"
"Of course I will. You can't fault me for having a little fun. Where's your sense of humor?"
"I don't want to run, but I told my parents I would, and you're right, I don't find this funny."
"Matt, the worst thing that can happen is you'll lose. Then you'll be a civilian just like me. At least you're playing football. I'm in a wheelchair. Count your blessings."
He was right. And having a friend like Andy meant having to take a little crap now and then, but that was the great thing about Andy. He didn't take life too seriously. But after everything that happened with Dillon, our prostituting, and Andy almost dying, he'd become a little bit more serious except when he had an opportunity to razz me. And of course it pissed me off.
"So you're going to nominate me, right?"
"Yes, I'll have to humble myself and support a lesser man than me, but I'll do it."
"Thanks, Andy. Will you read me your nomination speech when you're done writing it?"
"Nope. You'll just have to trust me."
"That's what I'm afraid of. I'll read you mine so you can give me your unbiased opinion."
"Hell, I'll be glad to do that. Just remember. Give it your best shot. You and I will still be best friends win or lose. That's true of all of your friends. Don't worry about everyone else."
"Thanks, Andy. Here goes nothing."
I really wanted to see Andy's speech, but he refused to show me. Tuesday morning, the junior class sat on one side of the gym. Mr. Lynch had placed the microphone in front of the bleachers. Three rows of desks for the nominees and nominators were lined up behind it. I was fidgeting and nervous and had to wait for them to start at the bottom and work their way through all the officers starting with Sergeant at Arms.
Billy Martin and I were being nominated for president. Suzanne Herman nominated Billy. She'd been quiet and shy when we were in elementary school and middle school, but had come out of her shell over the last year. She exuded confidence and probably should have been running instead of Billy, but she liked him and she wasn't going to mess that up.
Billy had been the class clown when we were younger. He was popular then and he was still popular. I used to think he and Andy were the most popular kids in the class only to find out I was. Boy had I fallen far. Billy had matured some since our freshman year. He'd grown tall, was slim, and had a spread of white teeth that wooed the girls when he smiled. There wasn't any way I was going to win against Billy.
Suzanne did a great job of nominating him by talking about how he played football, basketball, and baseball, a true triple threat. She spoke about how he always had a ready smile for everyone and of course how he made everyone laugh. Everyone clapped and whistled when she was done. Billy came to the mic, told a joke, and accepted the nomination.
If nothing else, Andy was going to help me get the sympathy vote. He rolled up behind the mic and Mr. Lynch adjusted it for him. Andy pulled up beside it, pulled the stand and mic down to his mouth, and began.
"I have the honor and privilege of nominating Matt Spence for junior class president. He isn't a triple threat like Billy, but he's the quarterback for the varsity football team and a darn good basketball player. But most importantly, he's my best friend. You might not think that's a good thing. I'm sure there are some who don't. But all of you would be lucky to have a guy like Matt as your best friend…" Andy paused for three beats. "Matt and I have made our share of mistakes. Mistakes are a part of life. If you think you've never made a mistake, then you're lying to yourself. I've learned a lot over the last couple of years. It's been hard. Look at me, I'm in a wheelchair. But this isn't about me. It's about Matt Spence.
"Matt had a lot of doubts about running for junior class president. He thought you didn't like him anymore after everything that's happened. But I give all of you more credit than that. You have to respect a man with courage. Matt is courageous, and loyal, and someone you can trust. I nominate Matt Spence for junior class president."
There was a big roar from the class and the same whistling as with Billy Martin. The junior class was at least courteous.
I came to the mic, cleared my throat, smiled, and said, "I want to thank Andy for nominating me and I accept the nomination." Again there was hooting and hollering. It made me feel like I might actually be able to win.
We gave our speeches on Thursday and voted on Friday. Billy was funny and confident. I was somber and low key. I thought Billy's speech was better than mine and figured he'd win. I spent all day Friday worrying and in a panic. They announced the winners just before school let out. Billy won. I lost. I guess you can look at my loss either way
For when the One Great Scorer comes
To mark against your name,
He writes - not that you won or lost -
But HOW you played the Game.
"Alumnus Football" ― Grantland Rice
I discovered that in a story I could safely dream any dream, hope any hope, go anywhere I pleased any time I pleased, fight any foe, win or lose, live or die. My stories created a safe experimental learning place. - Donald Davis
All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity are easy. Stay away from easy. - Scott Alexander
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