The Girl for Me
School started again the next day, but Danny's car wasn't there. Kevin had tried to call, but the cell-phone only rang and rang and rang – even the messaging service had been disabled. Danny obviously didn't want to talk to him. Kevin tried to wait until after school to see what was going on, but couldn't. He skipped out at lunch, and headed for Danny's house.
"Kevin! How are you?" Danny's mother greeted him at the door, "C'mon in – Danny's upstairs. He was feeling kind of sick this morning. Go on up – I'm sure seeing you will cheer him up."
Obviously, then, Mrs. Rainier didn't know what had happened. Good, at least he was in the front door. Getting in Danny's door would be another matter. Kevin climbed the stairs as if he were heading for a gallows.
He didn't knock. He knew that if he did, Danny would simply tell him to go away. He needed to say some things – but he didn't know what. He'd thought about it all last night and all morning at school, too. Maybe he'd think of something once he was face-to-face. He hoped so. He opened the door and stepped in as quickly as he could.
"Danny? Look – please don't start screaming or anything – I came to... to see..."
Daniel was lying in the bed, face down. "Well, you've seen. Now go away," he said without looking.
"Are... are you..."
"The doctor says I'll be okay in a couple of days, meanwhile, the less I move the better. He gave me some antibiotics. I'm not supposed to go out in the sun while I'm taking them. Not really a problem – thanks to you."
Doctor? He went to a doctor? Kevin tried to imagine what that must have been like for him, Yeah, Doc, some guy was butt-fucking me and kinna tore me up. Am I gonna be okay? God, that must have been... humiliating. And to do that on your own, too... so that no one would know. How had Danny convinced the doctor not to tell his mom? Gawd. I should've at least been there for you. I hate that you had to do that by yourself...
But all he could say was – "I'm so sorry, Danny..." He knew Danny didn't want to hear it.
"Yeah, that's great, Kev. That helps a lot. Okay, you did what you came to do, right? You can leave now."
"We're done here, Kevin. Goodbye."
Kevin stood awhile in silence, afraid to try to say anything else, and unwilling to just go.
There's nothing else I can do, Kevin thought, I guess I've done enough already... "'Bye, Danny..."
Somehow, he managed to get out of the house without running into Danny's mother again. Good thing. He wouldn't have been able to stand that.
Danny hated Kevin, and Kevin knew it. For awhile, he felt appropriately guilty. But before two days had gone by, that emotion was exhausted, and the Rationalization part of his mind began to kick in. Kevin had said he was sorry. And he would have made damn sure nothing like that ever happened again... Danny should realize that. Danny should forgive him. Kevin hadn't meant to hurt him like that... it was just that, the heat of the moment, y'know, and... well, he was sorry about it, dammit! If that wasn't enough for Danny then... to hell with him.
When Danny returned to school after two days of "illness", Kevin didn't even try to talk to him. Danny wasn't making any overtures of reconciliation either, not that Kevin had expected him to. They'd see each other sometimes, coming to or leaving from school. They'd simply glance at each other and then look away. Had their looks been expressed verbally, it might have boiled down to "Fine." and "Whatever." back.
Football was obviously out for Danny now – he may have healed enough to return to school, but it still hurt to walk normally – although he tried his best, and hoped no one would notice. Football was just another thing that Kevin had ruined for him. Danny could've made a list.
To make matters worse, the team wasn't doing so well. They'd lost a game against Cascia Hall – another private school – and everyone was looking for someone to blame. Being only a second-stringer, Danny was in the clear.
Kevin, however, was not. He may not have been the superstar of the team, but he had been a damn good fullback, before he quit. The other boy who had quit had only been a defensive linesman – fairly easy to replace. So what it boiled down to was: Kevin made a good scapegoat.
It started as ribbing by friends, but soon became jeers by enemies, and when they saw how Kevin reacted, the jeers became taunts. Kevin had a short fuse, lately. The performance of the team was low on the bottom of the second page of his Major Concerns now. He didn't need that shit. The taunts escalated into name-calling.
One of the names was "fag". And he really didn't need to hear that.
They were just calling him names, of course. No one knew about him and Danny. Kevin knew that. But, because of how he felt - it didn't matter.
"Yeah, Dale – I'm a fag. Gonna do something about it? I hope so – 'cuz I'd love to kick your sweet ass. Oh yeah, I used to watch you in the showers, y'know. You had the most fuckable butt in there – I kinna figured you must be queer too, with an ass like that." Kevin was looking for a fight – a nice, simple, uncomplicated fight. He didn't care whether he'd win or not. He, too, needed a scape-goat.
Dale was not the kind of guy one said that to, and Kevin got what he'd wanted. The fight after school was bloody, and there was no clear "winner", but word got around, and if anyone had any questions about whether it was true, Kevin would set them straight. Kevin was a fag? "Yeah. So what? What do you know about it, fuck-face?"
The school administration, of course, took no action. The headmaster walked the fine line between anxiety about having a known homosexual in the student-body, and he inevitable class-action lawsuits that would follow kicking Kevin out. He did what most such people do – nothing, and hoped the problem would go away on its own, or at least not escalate. The rest of the administration, of course, followed suit. They were only employees, after all. Not policy-setters.
"This is the team table, Kevin. No fags allowed," the captain of the team said.
"So why don't you do something about it, Eric. Dale? Wanna go again? Or maybe you, Steve... William? Anyone?"
"C'mon, guys. We're outta here. The smell of baby-oil is making me gag." Nine boys got up to follow Eric. One stayed behind, casually munching his fries and smiling. Josh, a defensive linesman, 215 pounds of barrel-chested muscle, didn't get up to follow the herd. Always a quiet one, but he was a first-string player, so no one dared to bother him.
Kevin looked at him, but Josh didn't look back. He just kept on eating his fries as if he was the only one "in" on the biggest joke in the world.
"Pretty brave, Josh. Now they're all gonna think you're gay, too..." Kevin said.
"Well, Kev – tell ya what. I'm not, but I'm not one of them either," he nodded his head in the direction the others had gone, "And if I had to choose one or the other, I think might just give boys a try" he chuckled to himself. "So Kevin. Are you really, or are you just trying to piss everyone off for some reason?"
"I am enough to count, I guess. But yeah, you're right about the other thing, too. They were pissing me off, so it seemed like a good way to get everyone back."
"I gotcha. Well, I gotta hand it to ya – coming out here was one ballsy move. I've been to a lot of schools – Army brat, y'know – and this is the most homophobic place I've ever seen. Even Kansas wasn't like this. I thought New England was supposed to be so liberal..."
"I don't think it's about New England here. I think it's 'cuz of all the poor little rich kids."
"Umm-hmm. You're one of 'em, y'know."
"Maybe, but I'm not one of them, like you said. Aren't you one of 'em too?"
"Nah. Football scholarship. And... well, legacy, too. Dad went here."
"Ah. Well, it's still brave of you to keep sitting there. They're gonna give you hell from now on, y'know. And they're going to assume you're a fag anyway."
"I know. But you needed back-up. Alone, they might try something. But since it's two of us now, they'll have to think about it first. I'll watch your back if you'll watch mine."
"Really? Wow... uh, thanks. I can't watch your back on the field, though."
Josh laughed outright this time, "Oh, that's okay – I don't really have anything to worry about on the field."
"Pretty sure of yourself..."
"Just like you. In case you haven't noticed - I'm the biggest guy at St. Augustine's. You'll excuse me if I don't challenge you to a wrestling-match to prove it."
Kevin smiled – Josh was pretty cool. "Nah – no offense, but you're not near cute enough."
"I SAID 'no offense'..."
When Kevin returned to his apartment that day, he saw Uncle Keith's limo parked outside. Great. He'd been looking forward to some alone-time, and now no doubt he'd have lots of explaining to do. Why couldn't everyone just let him be?
"Hi Uncle Keith..."
"I hear you've come out at school. I can see the results on your face," he said, referring to Kevin's still-purple eye.
"I'm not even going to ask how you 'heard' that..."
"The school called your father, your father called me. Believe it or not, Kevin, Robert still cares about what happens to you."
"Yeah, I could tell that when he threw me out of the house."
"He told me about that too. And I think you know perfectly well that he didn't really believe you were gay – that he thought you were just trying to piss him off. From what he tells me about how you 'came out' to him, that must have been exactly what you intended."
His uncle had him there... yes, that was exactly what he'd intended, although he hadn't really considered it before. He'd been happier thinking his father had kicked him out just for being involved with another boy. He could feel more self-righteous that way.
"Yeah, well... now he knows, I guess. Along with everyone else."
"Indeed. You are welcome back to the house, by the way. But, you'd probably have to apologize to him, so I don't imagine you'll go."
"Why the fuck should I apologize to him?"
"Not the point, Kevin, but I didn't expect you to understand that. Perhaps Daniel can explain it to you."
"Daniel and I... broke up."
Uncle Keith didn't say anything.
"I said, 'Danny and I broke up'. So I guess I'm back on your shit-list too, huh? And do NOT ask me what happened – none of your business."
"Hmm," his uncle said, rubbing his chin, "I'd guess you were selfish and thoughtless – although you didn't intend to be – and that you somehow hurt him however unintentionally. And because he seemed to hate you, you've taken it upon yourself to hate him right back, although you know perfectly well that you're the guilty party."
Stunned, Kevin could only say, "Damn..."
"Yes. You're the first man who's ever done such a thing, nephew. In the history of the world. The very first. So now you find yourself in an uneasy truce of not talking to each other, while you wait for her to – I mean 'him' – to break the ice. Am I right?"
He was too right for comfort. "Uh..."
"Do you want her back? 'Him', that is?"
"No 'uh', Kevin. Don't avoid the true answer. Just say it." Uncle Kevin was looking at Kevin intently.
"Correct – you do. I see she's – heh, to hell with it - had an effect on you already. Now – how long has it been since The Incident?"
"Uhm... coming up on two weeks?"
"Very well. That's more than long enough. You must break the ice, Kevin. You must make it up to... him. Put aside your righteous indignation – that's a reaction to guilt. And do not expect an apology from him for being mad at you. You no doubt deserved it."
"Do it soon, Kevin. Think about it, but do it soon. And go home. Family ties can't be broken – no matter how much you may wish they could be right now. Good day, nephew." Uncle Kevin got up from his chair to leave. "Oh! I understand you'll be graduating high school after all – having passed all your state exams. Congratulations. It does not mean, however, that you can sluff off on the school's finals. Is that understood? I am still watching."
"Because I may have plans for you, Kevin. It's up to you to keep my options open in that regard. I can't have you flunking St. Augustine's – even if it is only high school."
"I'll see you after graduation. You and Daniel. I hope. Give her my regards."
The next day:
"Hey... do, uh, you guys mind if I sit here?"
Her name was Kathryn, and she mistakenly congratulated Kevin and Josh for coming out as a couple, and was laughingly corrected by both boys. Afterward, Josh asked openly whether she was gay or bi – she was bi, in the closet, and leaning towards girls. Crushing on a girl, in fact, she admitted in hushed tones.
"That one – the bleach-blonde with her back to us. Jodie Madison. I'm pretty sure she-"
"Uh... Kathy?" Kevin cut her off, "She's straight. Sorry to be the one to tell you..."
"She... how do you know?"
"I can just tell. Radar."
"Gaydar," Josh offered.
"Whatever," Kevin said, "I can't believe you people can't tell this stuff... it may not be obvious, but still... def straight."
"But... I mean... you're sure?" Kathryn asked.
"Yeah. But look – see that brunette over there? The one in all burgundy?"
"Uh... yeah... Renee DeCou?"
"Yeah. Might wanna give her a shot. Keep in mind, though, my 'gaydar' doesn't tell me if she already has a girlfriend..."
"She's kinna tall..."
"Kathryn – this isn't the Lesbian Super-Store. Besides, I think you'd like her."
"No – Abercrombie & Fitch. Or maybe L.L. Bean."
After school, just after he'd gotten into his car to go home, Kevin's cell-phone rang.
"What the hell do you think you're doing, you moron?"
"D-Danny? Where are you?"
"I'm sitting in my Camry staring at the biggest idiot in school. Are you trying to make a point or something? Trying to impress me? Is that it?"
Kevin looked across the two parking-spaces that separated them. There he was, fairly glaring through his rolled-up window. "Why... why are you calling me on my phone?"
"Because I can't afford to be seen talking to you, dip-shit! It's true, isn't it... You're telling everyone you're gay now. God-dammit, Kevin..."
"I'm not exactly..." Kevin attempted to side-step the issue, but then changed his mind, "well, yeah, I guess I am. Anyway, so what. I'm not mentioning your name or anything. You're still safe. I know you gotta do another year here, so I won't out you, don't worry."
Actually, that was what Danny was worried about. Okay, so if that wasn't going to happen... "So why are you telling people you're gay, then?"
"Fuck, Danny... what would YOU call it?"
"Well... I dunno... 'bisexual' maybe... but you're not gay!"
"No one cares about 'bisexual'. You know that. To the people who care about labels, there's only the two: straight and gay. End of story."
"Why are you telling anyone anything at all? Why don't you just keep your big stupid mouth shut about-"
"Because I'm sick and tired of people calling me a 'fag' as a put-down, okay? If they wanna call me 'fag', then they ought to just fucking mean it, see? I got nothing to hide from those morons. It just pisses me off, is all – 'fag' this and 'fag' that. I felt like hitting somebody for it. I feel like hitting a lot of people for it, actually."
The air-waves were silent for a while, before Danny said, "You used to call me a fag all the time..."
"Yeah, well... I know. You shoulda hit me."
"Would it have done any good?"
"Probably not. Look, Danny... I hate to ask, but, are you... okay now? Medical-wise, I mean?"
"It's... getting better. The doctor says there's nothing to worry about. I'd just as soon not talk about it."
"I'm... I know you don't wanna hear it, but I really am sorry, Danny."
"Little late for that."
"I know," Kevin replied, resigned. From the other boy's tone, it sounded like they were through. Kevin had sort of thought that was the case, but now it was confirmed. He sighed deeply. His father had thrown him out – but maybe not, Danny and him were through – probably, and everyone at school thought he was gay – which he sort of was. At least he would graduate. And soon he'd be able to access his trust-fund. Great. He'd had big, exciting plans about the things he could do with two million dollars – but without Danny, those plans just seemed boring and pathetic. As did everything else in life at that point.
Maybe Uncle Keith was right, maybe he should break the ice. Maybe he should say something that was hard to say -
"I... I miss you," Kevin stammered.
"Good. Just... uh... don't tell anyone that we were a thing, okay?" Danny clicked off.
Fucking Kevin... Danny kept thinking, after he'd put down the phone. He never followed up the thought, for instance, as far as to why he was calling him "fucking Kevin".
He missed him?
- Well, shoulda thought of that before.
- Yeah, I bet you do. I know what you miss...
- Tough shit, Sherlock.
- Well, I miss being able to sit down for more than 40 minutes at a time...
Aww, to hell with it.
That evening, his mother knocked on his bedroom door, "Honey? Can I come in?"
"I, uh, haven't seen Kevin for awhile... everything all right?"
He'd been wondering when his mother would notice. "We sort of broke up, Mom."
"Oh. So... it wasn't serious, then? Because I thought, well, I mean, the two of you were just-"
"Mom? Don't say 'we looked cute together', okay?"
She sat on the edge of his bed, where he had been sitting up reading King Lear for the fifth time. "Well, I'm sorry, but you really were. You... you haven't been wearing those night-gowns I bought you, either..."
Danny sighed. It was so embarrassing having a mother who liked to cross-dress her son... "I know, Mom. I just haven't... felt like it lately, okay? Mom? It's kinna weird having a mother who's a yaoi fan-girl, y'know?"
"Uhm... never mind. Anyway, Kevin was an ass-, a jerk, okay?"
"All men are assholes, from time to time, sweet-heart. They can't help it. After a while, you kind of come to think of it as charming. Sometimes. You're not going to give him another chance? I think you should give him another chance..."
"I can't believe I'm talking to my Mom about my boyfriend..."
"Daniel Alphonso Rainier! Your homosexual relationship is sick, disgusting, and sinful! Go up to your room right now and repent! REPENT, I say!" his mother shouted at the top of her lungs, then smiled at him, "That make you feel more comfortable?"
"God-DAMN, Mom!" Danny said, recovering his breath.
His sister Stacy appeared at the door, "What the hell is going on in here?"
"Sis! What're you-"
"Kevin and Daniel have broken up, Stace. I'm trying to talk some sense into him, but he's being all weird because I think they're cute together."
"Oh, is that all," Stacy said, "Don't sweat it, Mom. They'll get back together. And they're not just 'cute', they're 'k-yoot!' No couple that kyoot can't stay apart long."
"You really think so?" his mother asked.
"Sis... Mom... would you guys mind-"
"Oh, def. How long's it been, Danny?" Stacy asked.
"It's none of your freakin' business! ... about two weeks..."
"No sweat. Give 'em another week, Mom. If they're not back together by then, we'll have to come up with a Plan."
"Oh, okay. Uhm, Stace? What's a 'yaoi fan-girl'?"
Stacy giggled, "We are, Mom. You more than me, though – you actually squee an' everything. C'mon, I'll show ya on my computer."
"Oh, god..." Danny groaned.
By the end of the following week, the "Team Table" had been taken over – as well as the two tables flanking it. There were all kinds and cliques: Theater was well-represented, but so was Band, Chess, and – for some reason – Girl's Volleyball. No, they weren't all gay – or even bi – what they all had in common was that they preferred the company of others who were okay about being gay, or bi, or even straight. Although, being straight in this group was rather dangerous; everyone – even the other straights – liked to pick on the straights. Straights were fun to screw with...
Every day it seemed like there'd be another member of this new clique, and today, it was Udishtierah Havarnatherusidrana. Chess club president. "Dish" was another quiet boy, who never seemed to be in the company of anyone. Everyone could guess why he was there, and they let him take his time. Sitting at what was still called "The Team Table" took a certain amount of guts, and everyone there knew what it was like.
Dish was sitting two seats away and on the opposite side from Kevin. He was acting kind of strange, staring at his plate, eating his Salisbury-steak as if he were performing open-chest surgery. No one was paying him any mind, although they would glance at him now and again, just to see if anything had changed since last time they looked.
Suddenly, Dish sat up very straight, put his hands flat on the table, and, staring off into space, distinctly announced, "I am wanting to tell you that I am an homosexual!"
There was a short stunned silence, then Kevin said, "Welcome to the Team Table, Dish. And you are 'a' homosexual. Say 'an' if the next word starts with a vowel or a vowel-sound, as in 'hour'."
Dish looked at him quizzically – he'd expected a different kind of response. Instead, everyone resumed talking as they were before, and a few offered to shake his hand. Kathryn, seated next to him, slapped him on the back. The boy across from him asked if he'd like to go to a movie sometime. It was a big day for Dish.
Another cold, windy, but clear January night, and Kevin hurriedly got into his car after the Senior Assembly. It was 7 pm, and the sun had set shortly after 4. By this time, the parking-lot lights had been turned off to save electricity. His cell rang again, and Kevin's heart raced – Danny! As he fished the phone out of his backpack, he looked over and sure enough, Danny's blue Camry stood out against the white, star-lit snow.
But, how to answer it? Can't just be all happy and obvious about it. Have to be cool. Yeah. He pushed the talk button, "Danny!" Well, that had slipped out.
"Yeah. You don't have to sound so glib about it, though – I'm still pissed at you."
"I know – I mean, I can imagine – but at least we're talking again. I really have missed you..." Dammit – that, too, had slipped out.
"Uh... yeah. Look – this 'coming out' thing is filtering down to the sophomores now. I hear they have a 'Team Table' too. And today, a junior came out. Just stood up in the cafeteria, and yelled, 'I'm queer and I'm here! Deal with it!' Four people got up from his table – and then six others came over and filled it right back up. It's all your fault. I don't know whether to be furious with you or proud of you..."
"Wow. People are really coming out, huh?"
"Yeah. Not me, though. God-damn you Kev..."
"Danny? Are we... I mean, can we..."
"Kevin... why didn't you stop when I asked you to? I just wanna know."
There was a question Kevin had asked himself a million times – and had yet to come up with a good answer - "I was, uh... I..." He gave up that tactic. "Danny – I don't want to try to make excuses for it. Not to you. Look – the fact is that I was too... absorbed with myself... to worry about you, okay? I was a selfish bastard. No getting around it."
Danny hadn't really expected quite that much honesty - "Uh... yeah, you were."
"See, I can see now that... I was kind of using you. Because you never stopped me, you never said 'no', I was just... screwing for the sake of screwing. 'Cuz you would. Kind of a new experience for me, I guess. You were right – as usual."
"Uhm... what was I right about?"
"When you said that there were other things we could do together. Ya wanna know something Danny? I guess I might as well go all the way – I can't possibly make myself look any worse than I already do. I don't really remember half the times we fucked. They're all kind of blurred together. But I remember every damn detail of everything else we've ever done. Remember that time at the Sonic when we were just driving around?"
"Remember what you ordered?"
"... a burger?"
"A double jalapeño burger with mustard and onion only. Curly fries – medium, and a lime Slurpee. Large."
"Wow. Good food-memory."
"Oh, it's not just the food. We were talking about movies and you were telling me why Anthony Hopkins was so great, and you were wearing white shorts and a blue Polo shirt, and you kept making fun of me sneaking looks at your legs – I couldn't help it! - and there was this one strand of your hair that got out of your scrunchy or something and you kept throwing it out of your face because-"
"... I guess it was tickling your ear and god it was so cute how you kept doing that, you-"
"... didn't even seem to notice but you noticed me looking whenever you did-"
"Turn off the damn phone and get out of your car."
"What?" Kevin said, but the line was dead. He looked over through his passenger window to see Danny already out and leaning against the fender, pulling up the hood of his parka and waiting.
The parking lot was empty by now, except for the two of them. Kevin got out of his car and walked around to the other side, facing Danny – but still a good fifteen feet apart. It was dark, the wind was whipping through the barren, lifeless trees, and it was damn cold. All in all, it was about as bleak as it could get, Kevin thought. It was also below freezing – but the two of them just stood there, looking at each other.
Danny was trying to make up his mind, and Kevin was awaiting the verdict. It was taking a long time, out there in the freezing night, Danny staring at Kevin, Kevin glancing up at the other boy and then staring at the ground.
Kevin – wearing only a jacket because he hadn't really planned on any "outdoor activities" - was shivering by the time Danny said, "If you were me, Kev... what would you do?"
He didn't need to think about it long, "I'd get in my car and go home."
"Danny, I'm freezing out here..."
And still more.
"Well, you're not me. Do you still wanna be my boyfriend?"
"Uh... yeah. Of course I do. But I don't see how you-"
"Besides how much it hurt, I was scared to death Kev. You realize that?"
"And humiliated. And ashamed. And mad... at you. Really, really fucking mad."
"Shut-up," Danny said, then paused. Yes, Kevin had fucked up, majorly. Still... that was almost part of his nature, really. If Kevin were perfect – like say, Barbie's Ken was – he... well, he wouldn't be Kevin, for sure. Danny wondered if Ken's "perfection" might have been why Kevin had wanted to blow the doll's head off, when he was a kid. Well, whatever, there was still something Danny needed to make perfectly clear, and right now - "If I take you back, Kevin... it's not going to be like it was before."
"No. No it won't. I promise."
Danny hadn't expected him to say that. He promised? Danny had meant it as a threat. "What do you mean, you promise?"
"I mean... I just meant... well, I meant that... It won't be like it was before. Uh... what did you mean?"
"WHY won't it be like it was before, Kev? Tell me that."
"Because... because I didn't know what I had, until I lost it. Is why. God, that sounds so corny..."
Yeah, it sounded that way to Danny, too. And he knew that Kevin wasn't one to say corny things. So it must be true. "Okay. I'll see you tomorrow, Kev. Let's try this again. Oh – and you'll be taking me to dinner."
"Pizza-Hut? We, uh, we could go right now..."
Danny smiled to himself – Kevin always too eager, for everything. "Tomorrow, Kevin. I think we both need to think for awhile. You've got a lot of making-up to do. You'd better come up with something good."
As Danny turned to open his door, Kevin had to ask, "So, seriously? You're giving me another chance?"
"I think so. This would be a good time for you to stop talking, Kev."
Kevin didn't say another word. Instead, he suddenly noticed what a beautiful, crystalline, moon-less winter night it was. Even the creaking of the dry branches of the trees sounded musical. It was perfect. Funny he hadn't seen that before.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]