Just Hit 'Send' - The High School Years

by Grasshopper

Ch. 15

Jordan balanced, the ledge about one foot wide; his weight on his right foot, his left toe back. He thought of the first time he'd ever used a board; Griff holding his left hand as he pushed off and found that he could do it. He remembered his daddy holding on to him when he tried to ride his bike. Pushing back the tears, his head pounding, Jordan aimed for that flickering light way off in the distance.

"Okey doke," he thought, as the wind grabbed at his hair, "I can do this." He didn't see the boat ramp opening, the darkness swallowing the seawall. He didn't see the gap in the ledge until there was no ledge. He felt the Kicker fly out from under his feet; he felt the 'nothing' under him as the board hit the water and he rammed into the side of the cement wall. "Danny," he sighed as the red light flickered and went out.

Claire stood by the window, staring at nothing. David hadn't spoken since he got home. This was worse than Adam, much worse. Adam had been out of their control; everything that could have been done had been. But Jordan, they had let this happen. A stranger had been living in their house these past few years and they hadn't even noticed. As long as he laughed and appeared happy, they had been satisfied. She didn't know what to do; who to turn to. Just the other night, Jordan had been dancing her around his room, singing some ridiculous song and then they had talked, really talked for the first time in.........well, probably the first time ever. He had cried; she had cried. But she knew that he had believed her when she told him she loved him no matter what. No matter............Oh God! That sounded like she thought he was a creature.........something different. Did he think that was what she had meant? No, baby. I didn't mean that. Claire folded her arms tightly around herself and cried...for herself, for David, for Adam and for her lost child; for the boy they had to find so they could make it right.

David stroked Tinker's back in wide even strokes with Jordan's curry brush. The barn was dark, sallow moonlight edging around the corners. He didn't know where else to go. Sleep was out of the question and it was still three hours til daylight. "He should have talked to me," he murmured at the horse, who looked on with liquid eyes, wondering where his boy was. "He could have. I would have listened. I..........." He trailed off, knowing in his heart he would have been more concerned about what neighbors said and how it looked than what was tearing at his child's soul. David humbled himself in that barn, closed his eyes and spoke aloud. "I'm sorry, so sorry, son. If you come home, we'll..............."

"When he comes home," Claire's voice rang out in the silent barn. "When he comes home, I think we have more to talk about than just he and Danny. Do you remember what Danny said last night, David? He said he has visible scars but that Jordan has scars on the inside. What did he mean? Why does our son have scars?" She walked to her husband and he enfolded her in his arms; strong arms that could do nothing to find their son.

Danny lay quietly on his side watching the glowing numbers flip on his digital clock. He could see the rectangles and how each number blinked and formed itself. He remembered a joke Jordy had told him late one night when neither of them wanted to go to bed, but their eyes were burning from the computer screen and they were both reading with one eye shut: "You know what Kermit always says, Dan? Time's fun when you're eating flies." They had giggled hysterically at the stupid joke, had :::kissed::: night and turned off. He'd give anything to hear another stupid joke.

"Hey man. You okay?"

Jordan heard the voice from way off, and then closer as his eyes opened and he focused in the darkness. The orange street lamp glow silhouetted a kneeling form inches from his face.

"I was watchin' ya. That was way kewl. No one ever boards the wall."

Jordan lay still, moving one leg, then the other; one arm and the other. They worked. His head hurt like hell.

"Ya lost your board, man. It deep sixed. Wanna get up?"

Where the heck was he? Who was talking to him? Rubbing his hand across his face, he pushed his left hand against the sidewalk and tried to stand up. Whoa! His eyes widened and then closed as a wave of nausea swept over him.

"Here, man. Let me help ya. Take my arm til you're up."

Jordan held on and pulled himself to sit, leaning against the seawall, his legs stretched out in front of him. He felt a movement by his side and looked over hazily to see a boy about his size plop down on the cement.

"No blood, man. I think you're okay," the boy said matter of factly. "What you doin out here in the middle of the night?"

What was he doing out here? Jordan wanted to be home in his bed. No, he wanted to be in Danny's bed.

"I......I ran away," he whispered, his voice making his head hurt.

"They beat ya, huh?" the boy asked.

"No. Oh No," Jordan answered quickly. "My mama and daddy never hit me."

"So, why'd ya run?"

"It's a long story. I 'm too tired right now to even think of how to tell it," Jordan sighed. He just wanted to sleep right there on the pavement. His eyes started to close.

"Jeez, no guy. You can't sleep here. Somebody will mess with ya." He shook Jordan's arm. "Get up. We'll go to my place. You hungry?"

Jordan thought about the fact that he had no money. "Yeah, but I don't have money," he muttered.

"When did ya eat last, man?"

"Yesterday........no, the day before..........I don't remember," Jordan said, his mind jumbled.

"That's what's wrong. You gotta eat somethin. Come on. We'll get ya some food." He held out his hand and Jordan reached for it, their fingers touched and he felt himself being pulled to his feet. After a moment's wooziness, Jordan shook himself and lifted his eyes.

"I'm Jordan Lawrence," he said, trying to see his new friend in the graying light.

"Easy," the boy said.

"I'm okay. You got a name?" Jordan asked.

"I just told ya, Easy." The boy giggled, making Jordan smile for the first time in a long while.

"Your name is Easy?" he asked, wonder in his voice.

"Yeah, that's what they call me," he answered in a happy, half smart ass kind of way that made Jordan think of Griff. "Now, let's go to the all-night MickeyDs. I got a friend there; we'll fill your tank, Jordan Lawrence."

Two Big Macs, fries and a giant Dr. Pepper later, Jordan leaned back in his seat and burped. "Oh God, scuse me," he blushed. Easy laughed and added his own loud belch to the silence of the empty McDonalds. "We gotta tell Ronald we love him," he grinned. "So, Jordan Lawrence, sk8terboy, what you doin' out there on that ledge at 3 o'clock in the mornin'?"

Jordan decided to just say it. "I'm gay." He was too tired to do anything else. He looked down at the puddle of ketchup pooled on the tray.

"And?" Easy asked. "So, why did you run?"

"I just told you," Jordan frowned.

"You said you were gay. They threw you out? What?" Jordan looked at Easy and all he saw was the question; no sarcasm.

"No, not really. I heard my dad yelling and saying he wouldn't have a....a fag for a son," Jordan whispered, the words sticking in his throat.

"Did you talk to him at all?" his new friend asked. "Or did you bail right away?"

"I just left. I knew it was coming and I had a plan to get away," Jordan explained.

"So, your mama and daddy are probably really glad you're gone, huh?" Easy asked innocently, watching Jordan's face.

Jordan thought of his mama's face. A sudden rush of shame filled him as he realized he was hurting his mama. She wouldn't have wanted him to leave. She would have gotten his daddy to listen. And his daddy..............as much as he hated fags and, Jordan shut his eyes for a minute, hearing the words again, as much as he hated all that, he wouldn't want Jordan to get hurt. He wouldn't have wanted him to run away. He looked up at Easy and shook his head. "No," he answered softly, "I don't think they're glad."

"Then, why are you here, man? They're prolly sick with worry. Don't be a jerk, Jord," Easy said gently, "There are too many of........." He stopped and started over, "Too many kids on the streets whose 'rents could care less; who threw them out or worse. Don't be one of them."

Jordan looked across the table at Easy. He saw a skinny kid that needed a haircut or at least a good comb, his brown curls tangled and knotted around a face made up of soft brown eyes, a button nose and stark white teeth grinning from rosy lips. His LA Lakers jersey ripped on the left shoulder showed the almond skin underneath. Cleaned up, Jordan thought, he would be beautiful. As it was, he looked tired, sad and dirty.

"You didn't eat anything," Jordan said, suddenly suspicious.

"I ate before," Easy breezed by the question. "You full?"

"Yes. Thank you. I'll pay you back as soon as I can," Jordan promised. He wanted to push Easy more about the food but he saw pride in the wide brown eyes.

"So, Jordan. Got a quarter for a phone call?" Easy asked, "Or are ya gonna just skate the wall some more?" He grinned and Jordan felt something break loose in his chest, a feeling that perhaps Easy was right. Maybe he could go home.

"I have this," he smiled and watched Easy roll his eyes as he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket.

"Damn, man. It's time for ET to phone home," he laughed as Jordan blushed.

"I have a call to make, but not to my mama and daddy......not yet," Jordan murmured. "I hurt someone else and I need to try to make it up." Jordan realized he had hurt Griff too. He had a lot of 'sorrys' to say, but one was needed right now.

Danny wiped tears away and blinked at the clock. Only an hour and a half. God, time is NOT fun and he didn't want to eat flies. He just wanted Jordy. He held so tightly to the cell phone that his hand had gone to sleep. As he wriggled his fingers, trying to wake his hand up, the phone began to vibrate and ring. Shaking his hand frantically, Danny sat up and jabbed the call button. "JORDY????????" he yelled.

Jordan sat still, just listening to the voice he loved. Taking a deep breath, he sighed into the phone, "Danny."

"Where are you? Are you okay? I love you! Jordy...........Where are you?" Danny heard his own voice break as he tried to get the words out.

"I'm okay, baby, "Jordan whispered. "I'm so sorry I scared you. I'm so sorry." He looked across the table and heard Easy giggle and roll his eyes. Lowering his voice, he said softly, "I want, no, I need to see you. I thought this was the best way, but it isn't. If I can't go home, I still have to be with you. I have to."

"It's okay, Jordy. You can go home. I know you can. Where are you? I'll call your daddy. He'll................" Jordan cut him off.

"I need you to come get me, Danny. Call Griff. He's gonna be so pissed, but come get me. Please." Jordan could hear Danny struggling with his braces.

"I'm on my way. Where are you? Tell me zactly so we can find you," Danny asked, his voice shining through the phone. Jordan could feel Danny's happiness and he grinned. "I'm at McDonalds in Tampa on Bayshore Blvd. down by the Davis Island Bridge. Danny, I lost the Kicker."

"Jordan," Danny laughed, "I'll buy you two new boards if you'll just let me touch you. Hold that phone in your hand cause I'm gonna call you every 5 minutes until I have my arms around you. Oh, Jordy......."

"Hurry, Danny. I want to see you so bad," Jordan breathed into the phone.

"Click off so I can call Griff. I'll get him to meet my dad and me halfway. I'll call you back in 5 minutes. Don't move," Danny nearly shouted.

"Come get me, Danny. I need to come home."

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