Aeschylus.....A Totally Iced Dude !

by Grasshopper

"In our sleep, pain which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God".

I sat there staring at the page, the teacher's question rolling around in my head.

"Trey Sheffield.......what does Aeschylus mean with these words?"

Oh shit!! Are you asking ME? Me, who just sits here trying to be invisible. Asking me what some dead guy meant by pain, sleep, whacking on hearts, wisdom. I know I woke up this morning with a huge new zit and the same stupid cowlicky hair. I know I know less than nothing about nothing. How could I possibly tell the teacher why some old dude sounds like he wants to die at any freakin' moment.

I don't mean to sound like I don't care about the guy....he was prolly gay and got thumped really hard by some really cute bozo. I was listening to the teacher read it; I really was, but I sleep to forget; I sure don't sleep and let the boogeyman come crawlin' in and heap more bad stuff on me during the like 5 or 6 hours of good downtime.

"Mr. Sheffield..........."

Yeah, okay.......here I go..........

"Uh...........I think he meant that uh......you can go to sleep but you can't get away from cra......stuff even then. It goes in your dreams and kinda like Freddie Krueger, it scrapes long sharp claws of pain and then you kinda like learn something from it and well, God helps."

My teacher gave me that look, you know that look, a cross between 'why did I ever think teaching would be fun' and constipation. "And why do you think Aeschylus said that wisdom came from the awful grace of God?"

Hahaha! I could hear my friend Darry snorting behind me and knew, no matter what I said, I was in for it later. "Ummm......cause......maybe," I knew my face was squenched up with that look I get when I don't have a clue, "Maybe he kinda thinks that sometimes God dumps bad stuff on you to give you wisdom."

"Why would he do that, Mr. Sheffield?"

I thought frantically, finally scrunching my eyebrows together as if in deep thought and then spewing out, "I have not got one single clue to that, Mr. Cleary. Sorry. You're gonna have to ask him, I guess."

I heard the snickering and slunk down in my seat. Darry kicked me in the butt and thankfully, Mr. Cleary turned his x-ray eyes on some other poor soul. God, I hate when the teacher makes you think in class, out of thin air.

"Class, I see that we all need to spend some time thinking about our good friend Aeschylus and his mighty words." The entire room groaned and people glared at me as if I had brought this on. Shit, I'd like to hear what these other nincompoops, Darry included, would have said off the tops of their little heads. "I want a 1000 word paper with your thoughts tomorrow."

The bell that never rings finally rang and 29 kids escaped into the hall, away from the musty old words and thought too deep for any 17 year old to decipher. I mean really.............I've never felt despair or heart pain....how do you relate to that old guy?

"Thanks a lot, buttface," Darry snarked at me as we swung toward the cafeteria double doors.

"Bite me," I replied. I know....... our vocabulary is true quality.

Grabbing what the school system of Grable County calls food, we sat at our table. It belongs to us.............the sk8rs. Kids come ........kids go but somehow, it always has a few sk8rs who'll talk the talk with you. What isn't exactly broadcast over the intercom is that the entire contingency of Falkner High School's gay and lesbian population sits there too. We know it. A few other people know it. That's all.

Darry and I have been best friends since 3rd grade. We've known we were gay since 4th. We did all the usual, found we liked it but not each other and have been our own sole supports ever since. The thought of doin' stuff with Darry now makes me roll my eyes but back then, it had been new and forbidden and well, just down right wheeeeeee !!

At first, we'd said shyly and, under covers, that we were just practicing for the girls. See what it felt like. It felt very good. I was the first to admit that it felt better for Darry to do it than imagining that Kerry Ann Shields touching me. It took Darry a little longer. He actually tried it with Lyn Brekner before he'd admit that his sister's teen mags were under his bed along with a red and white striped towel.

Anyway, I'm glad I have Darry and I suppose he feels the same way. We do the standard arm punching and spitting and guy stuff. Darry even yells out, "God, that's so gay!" but never at anyone; just to hear himself say it, I think. His parents would freak.....mine would fall apart.

Darry isn't studly by any stretch of the imagination. He wears those big glasses and likes computers way too much. He really has a nice body for a kid but a few more curls and a lot more bulk wouldn't hurt. He'll prolly grow up and become the next Steve Jobs.

Me, on the other hand, I'm tall and lanky and suffer from noassatall, as my daddy likes to point out. Jeans just never fit right. I want that really cute butt I see in Wrangler commercials. My mom always says, it's good that I lean toward the Howard side of the family and I'll never be fat. Well, I'm not hankering for fat zactly, more like stoked and hot.......in my wildest dreams.

Our table group today consisted of Darry and me, two other str8 skaters, Elephant (no kidding) and Zack, zoned on something already at 11 in the morning muttering 'Dude!' repeatedly and laughing at their own blankness. Jane Marie Giuerre and Ella Shepard, our school pet lesbians, sat across and Billy Draper crowded in beside me. Darry's groupie, Stanley Alfreds climbed onto the seat beside him and stared. Stanley thinks God invented Darry Jacobs so that he, Stanley, could learn from him. Darry finds it way flattering. We're not sure what his um...orientation is but time will tell.

What a group we made. Eight strange kids in a caf full of strange kids. One day, I don't know what we'd all do, all 1,743 of us, if they took away the tables and we had to all sit together somehow. It would be too weird. What would I say to a cheerleader, "How high can you jump?", a jock, "Cool, contact sports!", a Goth, "I like black but I def can't picture multiple face piercings".

We all have our own language. I like to think that mine is normal. I don't do a lot of the "Yo! Dude! Scrammin' on the flutes at niner?" I mean, you'd never believe how hard it is to keep up with the latest cool words. I don't usually try. I do like the word "iced". It even sounds cool. Pizza with pineapple and bacon is iced. Johnny Depp is iced. Driving my dad's big Dodge Ram pickmeup is iced. There's only one boy that I've ever seen with my own eyes that is iced but that's God's joke on Trey Sheffield.

"That paper," Ella moaned. "I've got soccer practice."

"Yeah, I gotta work til ten every night this week," Darry sighed.

"I didn't make the assignment, I didn't put the bug up Mr. Cleary's butt. He just gets mad when no one is listening," I tried to explain to get them to quit complaining.

"Do you think teachers count the words?" Stanley murmured. "Do the little words count?" His innocence was cute sometimes.

Jane Marie piped up, "Of course they count. You can't a have a sentence without the little words."

"Like you can't have the world without the little people?" Billy whispered. I really like Billy. He says stuff that shouldn't come out of a 15 year old.

"Yeah, like that," I answered.

Jane Marie slid her hand over and played with Ella's fingers. I could feel eyes swivel towards our table. People just waited for them to do something.....anything sexual. It was so bizarre that most kids thought it was cute or Barbie-Happy for two girls to "like" each other but lord love a duck if I were to reach over and run my fingers through Darry's hair.......not that I want to, mind you, but just saying. It's got to be the images that zip right into their minds. A girl and a guy can do whatever is humanly possible and Yey! Two girls can giggle and hug and do what a lot of guys do who want their girls to be happy but shit if anyone wants to picture two guys. We all know that a guy can do a much better job but it's the logistics, I think.

Once, in Geometry II, we had to come up with a project showing the angles at which a specific job can be performed. I did the assignment levering huge steel beams up at a construction site but, at home, in my room, I worked out the angles at which male/female and male/male were able to interconnect. One was acute, the other much more obtuse. Dang! I had diagrams and everything. Worked it all out on my computer. Wish I'd had the balls to turn it in. But then, I would have had them cut off by my parents when they got the call from the school, so discretion works for me.

Even my mom thinks Jane Marie and Ella are sweet. I think her mind just never goes beyond the surface. She would definitely not think it sweet if I decided to unload my big secret. I can just hear the predictable words flood out her mouth. You know 'em....I don't need to tell ya.

"I wish I could dye my hair blue," Darry sighed.

"And that thought stems from what?" I asked, picturing him with bright blue hair and his big glasses and trying not to snort.

"Well, look at Skye Madison."

Dang! Do I have to? No...........I will resist the urge to turn my head and drool over what can never be.

"What? Mr. I Have Everything has now got blue hair?"

Stanley chirped up, "Yeah and it looks great."

I'm not gonna waste my time describing Skye Madison to you. He is the all time wet dream. He is the unattainable. He is the iced one. Pick any adjective and it fits. And, the worst part, he's not even a jerk. Let's put it this way..... He's Washington state and I'm Mt. St. Helen's trying really hard not to erupt.

Not looking, I chomp down my last bite of whatever that was I just ate and stand up to stretch my long legs. "I'll see you guys later," I throw out to the table in general and pick up my tray. Turning, I walk into a wall.....a wall with turquoise blue hair.

"Oh damn," the wall says in this really soft syrupy voice. Looking up from my spot on the tile, I see a tanned hand stretched out offering help. I know what wall this is but I still don't want to look. I concentrate on the hand. A sprinkling of gold hair running up the wrist toward a leather banded Timex Expedition watch with a dayglo dial. It's 11:27, I see. I'm amazed I can tell time.

"God, I'm sorry, Trey," this soft honey and butter voice says from on high. "Let's get you up off the floor." Little does he know that I am not the slightest bit hurt, just afraid to move.

"Sure, yeah, okay," I mutter like an imbecile, scrambling to get to my sneakered feet without one microbe of me touching one microbe of him.

A quizzical look ran behind his eyes as I glanced up and away. Backing off, it seems like this has taken at least 5 hours to occur but, in reality, no one except Darry, Jane Marie, Ella, Stanley and Billy even noticed.

"You okay?" he continues to hover, no inkling that I wish he was gone or that I was in Antarctica. Either would work for me right now. I felt stirrings where no stirrings should be stirring. Lord, not now!

"Yeah, fine.........gotta book.....see ya," I say, knowing that in approximately 5 minutes I'm gonna be kickin' shit out of myself for all the great things I coulda said, shoulda said.

Turning, grabbing my tray, I saunter to the tray conveyor thingie, shove it all in and continue my saunter out the double doors to lean , eyes closed against the outside wall. Beginning slowly, I tap my head against the orange and blue "Go Gators" wall, the thumping increasing as I replay the entire horrid episode over and over in my head.

"Oh damn."
"God, I'm sorry, Trey."
"Let's get you up off the floor."
and my stunning response..............

"Sure, yeah, okay."

And yet, he continues to be iced.
"You okay?"

To which I reply,
"Yeah, fine......gotta book.....see ya."

If I had tried, I couldn't have been more like a clunk. That's me....a tall, skinny, noassatall stupid clunk.

Billy came out the doors, headed straight for me and said, "You okay, Trey?"

As I was still thumping my head against the wall, it was obvious to any and all that I was..............not. Ceasing to thump and taking a deep breath, I smiled and answered, "Yeah, Billy. I'm fine."

"Skye was cool, Trey," he said in his quiet voice. "After you left, he just stood there for a couple of minutes staring at the door, then he picked up all the trash you dropped, your milk cartons and napkins and junk and threw it all away."

Scrunching my eyes shut, I groaned, "I've got him picking up after me. What next?"

I was beginning to catch on to Aeschylus.........that guy must have had a "Skye Madison" in his life too. It wasn't pain I was feeling, but dang! I was in the middle of a huge inferiority fit.

I ran smart clever remarks over in my head:

"Sure, I'm okay but you're so ripped that it was like hitting a Mack truck."
"Hey, love the hair."
"God, you're hard!" (that one would never have been spoken aloud, believe me)

Sighing, I walked to Calc and fell into my desk. I always hated when I had any contact with Skye Madison. It was like there are all of us and then there's .........him. I'm okay with me as long as I don't have to relate myself to.......him.

I'm not sure what the teacher said..............I wrote down the page numbers and glanced around the class to see who owed me homework. Ah, Brad Mullins. I'd copy his tomorrow during study hall. After all, I've decided to become a Tibetan monk when I grow up and they surely don't use Calculus in their everyday lives. Gonna shave my head and wear a robe and chant. I'll be better off.

Finally, blessed last bell. One more chore and then I can go home. Away from the school where no one knows me to the house where no one knows me. Ah, my life is such a joy.

I have this thing with my locker. It hates me. It has hated me for three years. I've changed the lock and it still sticks. It isn't the lock, it's the locker itself. It's simply a homophobic locker. I expect it to scream out, "He's queer!" every time I finally get it opened.

So, here I was, struggling with the dang lock and yeah, you're way ahead of me, this voice with the sound of angel wings says, "Trouble with that lock?"

Now, I can be as macho as the next guy. I can jut out my chest and mutter stuff like, "Nah, Fuckin' thing sticks, is all" or I can stare at that hand that is now jiggling the lock out of my grasp. That hand with the golden hairs that trail up and under the leather Timex...........you get the picture. I stare.

"Hold my books a sec and I'll fix it," he says with that voice that would melt rocks. I can smell his aftershave. My nose is in hyperdrive. Now, I'm not short by any means, but my 5'11 seemed to fit into this really warm neck area of his seemingly 9 feet. I know he's prolly 6'4 or something but his head seemed to be touching the ceiling at that moment.

"There," he said, as he proudly showed me the open lock. Reaching for his books, his fingers grazed mine and it was like jeezzzz, it was like whoaaa!! I felt it in my toes. He may have felt nothing but, for me, it was like bunches of daydreams all rolled into one. I was cool though. Trust me, I know how to hide all this. Been doing it forever.

I pulled the locker open and shoved books in; grabbed books out, Hell, I had no idea what I was doing. I just needed to go before I said anything stupid. Turning, I saw that he was just standing there, like waiting or something.

"Thanks," I said awkwardly, trying to edge my way around him so that nothing touched, not even a book. Turning, I started off down the hall, stopping when his voice followed me, saying,

"Want a ride home?"

Me? Nah, he was talking to his friends. I kept going.

"Trey?" I know I'm an idiot but I thought I heard a whisper of confusion in his voice saying my name. I guessed I'd have to turn around.

"Huh?" I am indeed the master of witty replies.

"Want a ride home?"

"Oh, huh........I, nah, well," I was outdoing myself. Just get a gun and shoot me before I fall in the pit of gators lying in wait for idiots, "I usually ride with Darry." Good one, Sheffield..........like there is some minute comparison between Darry and Skye Madison.

"Oh, well, okay then," he said quietly.

Aw, shit! How do I undo what I just said? Ride in his car? Sit next to him? Listen to tunes on his player? Why is he asking me? Maybe he's a homophobe and he knows and he's gonna beat the crap out of me. Maybe he's a nice guy offering a locker clutz a ride home. Maybe he feels bad cause he dropped me in the cafeteria. Maybe he wants me to do his homework. Maybe......................

"Trey? You okay?"

This is gonna sound really dumb I know, but in all the years I've drooled over Skye Madison, watched him date one girl then another, watched him take everything life has to offer and shyly appreciate it, watched him make the touchdowns, the homeruns, the grades, class president........in all these years, I've never looked in his eyes.

I did right then..................when he said my name, I looked. I looked up and saw my own eyes reflected back. I saw the confusion and the fear and the longing and the loneliness. It was just a flash but I saw it. My heart grabbed in my chest and I opened my mouth to say "Yeah, I'm okay."

He shifted his books to his left hip and said again, "Want a ride home?" This time, I looked. This time, I wanted to ride in his car, listen to his tunes, sit near him. Maybe Skye Madison was just like the rest of us...........maybe he was hurting too. I'm not sure what the emotion was that shot through my body but it spiked and I didn't dare think beyond the ride home.

Walking awkwardly toward the parking lot, I could hear my own brain trying to think of something sparkling to say. "So, the Bucs really suck, huh?" was all that came out.

He laughed and some of the tension melted. "Yeah, your quarterback is only as good as the team. They'll do better next season."

I turned my head to say something about his game last week, kinda stroke his ego when my thoughts were stomped on by tiny feet in tiny sneakers holding up a beautiful girl in skin tight belly jeans and a baby t that said,

'Cranky Princess' across full boobs.

"Skyyyyye, I need a ride, baby." She wrapped herself around him like a koala bear hugging a Eucalyptus and did that eyelash batting thing that I've always wanted to try but that'll have to wait till I really trust somebody.

"Candy, oh, sure," he smiled kinda, I hope, sadly, and looked over in my direction. "You don't mind, do you, Trey?"

Hell, yes I mind. I wanted to ride in his car, sit near him, listen to his tunes..........breathe his air.

"Nah, it's cool."

Candy Jacks glanced over at me, dismissed me with that one glance and went back to clinging to Skye. "Oh, you've been pumping today, haven't you?" she whimpered, almost orgasmic in her slobbering, as she felt his arms.

Well, gag.

I must be bi-polar. I went from this terrific peak plummeting down into this abysmal chasm in less than 5 seconds flat. I need medication. He must love all that attention. Who wouldn't? I had his whole attention myself less than 5 minutes ago and I swear I felt something...........something. But, it's gone now. Gone with Candy Jacks and her big dang boobs. Shit!

The car ride home was like bad. I sat in the back seat and watched "her" try to shove her gum in his ear. Granted, Skye was trying to get her off him but he was not at all successful and she was like this leech from hell. I was trying to remember Darry's latest school "couples" bulletin. Were Skye and Candy a couple? That brought nasty images into my already head-aching brain. Like my Geometry project, I started picturing them in acute angles. The ride couldn't get over soon enough. What had I been thinking?

Crawling out, I didn't look at Skye Madison's eyes again. That way led to madness. He was just being a nice guy, was all. He IS a nice guy.

"Thanks," I muttered.

"See you tomorrow," he called out and pulled away from the curb with Candy, trying her best imitation of the creature in Alien as it tried to force its way into the body of the poor space guy.

I walked up to the house, not looking back, thinking stupidly, 'Why can't he push her away? Why does he let her act like that?' Then I remembered....... Duh! He's a straight guy and he loves that. It's what he wants. If he wanted , he could get in her pants right now. I wondered if, when he took her home, they did it. I felt hot tears behind my eyes and sucked them back.

I do not cry. Well, not where my mom can see..........ever. I do cry but it's in my room, late at night where I can hold this really noisy Pity Party in my head. Oh, poor Trey! BooHoo! Like crying will make it better. Nope, not gonna cry over this. Certainly not gonna go all weepy over Skye Madison.

After dinner, my feet propped up on my sound box, my screen open to Word, I read and reread Aeschylus:

"In our sleep, pain which cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God"

I thought about today. I thought about how wanting doesn't make it so. I figure God doesn't necessarily give us what we want but he does provide us with what we need. I remembered that spike of joy when I thought, for one splendid moment, that Skye Madison liked me. I felt that plummet of emotion when I saw, with my own eyes, that you don't always get what you want.

You know that feeling you get when you just know that if the person you want could just know the real you, the you inside that would love them and cherish them, how they would want you too? And how much it hurts when you see that that won't happen cause they don't need to see you. They have lots to see and you aren't important in their scheme of things.

Sometimes, we just need to accept. We may sleep, but our pain comes with us into that darkness and our mind tries to ease the hurt. Slowly, as we sleep, as the despair we can't deal with during waking hours eases and flows through dreams, either soft and gauzy or harsh and fierce, we finally wake to find that perhaps, perhaps today will be the day that we begin to mend.

I wrote my paper. I tried to say what I was feeling. I wanted to just write: "I'm gay" in the middle of the white sheet and be done with it as if that explained it all but I know I couldn't. I had an allegiance to myself and I wasn't gonna let Aeschylus trip me up. I felt sorry for him, whoever he was. He must have been hurt badly.......no matter who by.

I decided God's grace may be awful as far as what we want, but what if we got everything we wished for? I think God sorts out all the millions of wishes and gives us the wisdom to realize what we can really deal with. Things in our control, we deal with. Things out of our control......well, let's just say, we do the best we can and try not to make too big of a fool out of ourselves.

I'll spare you the 'people should all be kind to each other' stuff. It's not gonna happen. People hurt each other, for pleasure sometimes. We flinch and then try to go on. I've been hurt; you've been hurt. We accept apologies; we try to forget that at one time we cared so much until finally we just couldn't anymore.

Aeschylus was an iced dude. I hope he found happiness. He had enough pain in his heart and suddenly, those words became crystal clear. We learn from our mistakes. We pull ourselves up and go on. We go on. I had crushed on Skye Madison for so many years but now, he was someone I wished I knew; a real person with pain in his eyes too.

I hit the final period. I didn't even count the words. Fuck that. I actually said something I meant. If Mr. Cleary read it, he'd know. I felt strangely empty, like I had lost something but I didn't know what it was. I'd made a leap from kid to adult for a few minutes and it was kinda scary.

Craving kidworld, I went in search of some Dr Pepper and Guacamole Doritos. Nothing like creating a few new zits to make me feel 17 again. Swinging down the stairs, I heard my cell call me.

"Yeah..........Trey here."

There was a short silence, followed by a throat clearing and then,

"Hey."

I knew but I had to say it.

"And I would be talking to who zactly?"

"It's me.......Skye."

I sat down hard on the fifth step. Aeschylus! Dude!

I felt this kinda wave of calm flush through me and I knew. I was gonna win this one. Somehow, he hadn't done Candy Jacks. Somehow, he did have secrets hiding in those clear blue eyes. Maybe, just maybe, those secrets included me.

"I.........I kinda thought I owed you a ride still," he said in that soft honey and molasses voice.

I smiled. I felt that hot burn of tears and I just let one fall. Using the wisdom I'd gleaned from my friend Aeschylus, I grinned into the phone, "Sure, meet ya at my locker from hell."

He was silent for a second but it didn't worry me I was gonna take it like it came this time around. Finally he said softly, "K. See ya, Trey."

"Yep, see ya, Skye."

Maybe this is something. Maybe it's nothing but I know one thing......I'd learned a lot today from a totally iced old dead guy. Thanks!

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