Westpoint Tales

by Kiwi

Jason and Jordan's tale - 7

Jason wasn't the only one whose life had done a complete turnaround. It was almost like they had traded places. Jordan, who had been well on the way to being popular, was now isolated and alone. The difference was that he seemed to prefer it that way. Jason worried that the switch-about was somehow due to him. He was enjoying his new life, but he worried about Jordan's.

He was never seen around town now, not at the Square, not at the movies or the beaches. He didn't even go to the dances in the Union Hall, and everyone went to those. Jordan just went to school and then he went home, to the 'Top Shop', and that was it.

Even when he was at school he was isolated. He didn't participate at all in the classroom discussions, the sports or the clubs and he certainly didn't join in all the socialising that went on there. Every recess, if he left the classroom at all, he was stuck in a corner somewhere with his nose in a book.

He went home for lunch everyday, regardless of the weather. As soon as the bell rang he was out of there and didn't return until it was time for classes to resume.

He spoke when he was spoken to, but sparingly, and he never initiated any conversations, not even with his friends. Jordan seemed to be intent on turning himself into the invisible man.

But what was worrying Jason most of all was that the jeers, verbal abuse and accusations of "faggot" etc., formerly directed at him were now being levelled at Jordan. He didn't defend himself, didn't respond at all, but it must have hurt. Jason knew what that was like.

He didn't get any of that himself anymore. Not that people had forgotten about it. A couple of older boys had tried to pick him up and someone was leaving little love notes in his locker. It was flattering but scary, he wasn't interested.

He would rather go to bed alone with just a bottle, his right hand and his dreams of - well, Jordan actually. He was becoming obsessed by the kid, even though he didn't want to know him.

Friday night, he went to the dance at the Union Hall. He'd never been to one of these things before and he was a bit reluctant now, but the girls were insistent and so he went with them. He was glad that he did, it was a lot of fun. There was no booze allowed there, (he'd had a couple before he went), and no drugs at all, not even party drugs. It was just kids, singing, dancing, making music and having fun. He'd be coming back again.

Late in the evening, during a break in the dancing, Jason went outside to cool off a bit in the fresh air, accompanied by Brenda, Dawn, Sandie and Tommy. The long side walls of the hall were lined with teenagers sheltering under the wide overhanging eaves. Spotting Sean Taylor there with another boy and two girls, Jason steered the group that way and he managed to stand next to Sean.

Tommy flicked open a packet of cigarettes, pulled one out with his lips, and offered them around. There were no takers.

"Come on, McDonald, live a little."

"No thanks. I'd rather live a lot. Anyway, you've been slobbering over them all."

"I have not! I don't slobber, do I Sandie?"

"No sweetie, you don't slobber, not much anyway. Speaking of which, Jason, there's a few people in there all-but drooling every time they look at you."

(The girls had given him an 'extreme makeover' treatment. When they discovered that he actually had contact lenses but preferred not to wear them, they insisted that he did. And that was just the beginning. They'd cut, styled and coloured his hair. It didn't come out the way they'd planned it, but it looked pretty good - really good actually. His hair was now two-toned, dark underneath and a light yellow-blond on top. It looked great.

He drew the line at make-up, he was having none of that. So then they raided his wardrobe. On closer inspection, they'd realised that he wasn't overweight at all, he was underweight if anything, quite skinny. He'd always hidden his body away under layers and layers of baggy shapeless clothing, now he wasn't allowed to. Jason was now dressed in tight-fitting, faded, light blue jeans and a light-colored, loose-bottomed silk shirt which was loose fitting but clung to his contours as he moved.

He was looking good. He felt good too, and it wasn't just the glow from the vodka he'd consumed.)

"Drooling? Over me? Come off it."

"No, really. Look around you'll see."

"No way."

"Yes way."

"Who then?"

"There's Danny Henshaw for a start, and his sister."

"That'd be an interesting combination," Tommy smirked.

"C'mon Jason," Sandie grinned evilly. “Loosen up - live a little. No-one's going to say anything if you're dancing with a boy. There's a few same-sex couples out there already."

"Yeah, and up on the stage," Tommy agreed.

"Well I'm not. I'm not interested."

"C'mon Jason. No-one's asking you to get married, just have some fun."

"I am having fun."

"Have some more then."

"Lay off, Girls," Dawn interrupted. "Leave the kid alone. It's his first time here; let him take it easy while he checks us out."

"We just want you to enjoy yourself so that you'll want to come back again."

"Oh, I'll be back. I think."

The conversation drifted away from him and Jason turned and addressed the boy standing next to him. "Hey. You're Sean Taylor, right? I'm Jason."

Sean eyed him suspiciously. "What's it to you? Just because my brother says that he's gay doesn't mean that I am too."

"Easy boy, no-one's hitting on you. I just wanted to ask you about Jordan. Is he here? I haven't seen him."

"Of course you haven't, he isn't here. He never is."

"Where is he then? At home?"

"Yeah. He's at home, he's always at home. Why? Got your eye on him have you?"

"No. Not like that. I was just wondering. I thought we were going to be friends but then he sort of withdrew."

"Yeah. Big Brother's withdrawn from everyone. He says he's not interested in life in this town. All he does is go to school and then he goes home and works. The parents have got lots of work on, fixing the old place up, and Jordan's working all the hours he can. He's saving to buy a car so that he can go back home. Figures that once he's got wheels he can go back and stay at the aunty's every holidays until he can leave school and then he's outta here. Out of Westpoint and back home where he belongs."

"Oh. I see. Has he got someone special there? A girlfriend, or a boyfriend I suppose?"

"No, nothing like that. He just wants to go home.'

"But his home's here now isn't it?"

"Not in Jordan's eyes and he can be a stubborn bugger when he wants to be."

"He must be homesick then. So he just goes to school and then goes home and works?"

"Pretty much, yeah. He does spend a lot of time down at the fishermen's wharves though, just sitting there looking at the water. He's there early most mornings and again before dark."

"Sitting by the water? You don't think he's suicidal do you?"

"Jordan? Nah. He just likes the water, helps him think. Oh, and he draws too."

"He draws?"

"Yeah, pencil drawings. He's a pretty good artist actually."

"Really? Well, thanks Sean. I've gotta go, the girls are waiting."

"No problems. See ya.'

Jason started to walk away but stopped when the kid called him.

"Hey, McDonald."

"Yeah?"

"Listen, I don't know if you can, but if anyone could get him out of this funk he's in, Mum would love them forever."

"Umm. Okay. I don't really know him and I don't think he wants to know me."

"It's not just you. I told you, he doesn't want to know anyone. He's an idiot. Dad doesn't mind though, he's saving a fortune with all the cheap labor he's getting."

He rejoined the girls, and Tommy, and they went back into the hall. Now he knew what Jordan was up to. It didn't make him feel any better though, he still felt that, somehow, it was all his fault. Wasn't it? What was so bad about Westpoint anyway?

The night went on and the dance drew to a close. Jason refused several offers of rides home, he knew what they wanted and he wasn't interested. He was, almost, tempted by Danny Henshaw, but, no. All he wanted to do was to go home, have a quiet drink or two, and go to bed, to sleep.

Tommy suggested that they all go back to Jason's place and "have a bit of a party", but he wasn't having that either. He didn't trust Tommy and if he had people around and they trashed the house, his dad would go ballistic, seriously. So, no.

Next morning, early, Jason took the dogs out for a walk. They were delighted. He did walk them regularly but not usually so early in the day. They walked right up the length of King Street, by-passing the Square where it bisected the length of King Street.

He could have cut straight through the Square, but he didn't want the dogs eating any of the early-morning runners on the track. They were fairly well behaved really, all noise and bluster, but it didn't hurt to be careful. Running people upset them and each one of the three dogs was bigger and stronger than he was.

At the end of the street they went up on to the bank which skirted around the edge of the town, separating Westpoint from the lagoon, salt marshes and horse paddocks. Heading back towards the wharves, the dogs all balked at walking across the sleepers on the small bridge there, but he made them go. It was only a little old bridge. "Wussy dogs."

They walked slowly around the lagoon, past the wharves and right out to the end of the riverside wharf. He sat there for a few minutes watching a fishing boat chug its way down the river and out to sea. Then he got up and walked back around the way they'd come. There was no sign of what he was looking for, which was, of course, Jordan Taylor.

Disappointed, Jason made his way home to spend the day cleaning and mowing lawns.

In the evening, after dinner and a couple of drinks, he made his way back across the town. This time he only took one dog, Prince. The other two, Queenie and Sheba, both protested loudly at being left behind, but they'd get over it. They'd already had one walk today and one dog was all he could manage this time.

This was because he was now standing on his skateboard, holding the leash and letting Prince tow him along. His dad didn't like him getting around like this, he reckoned that it was bad for the dogs' hips or something, but, whatever. The dogs were all bigger and stronger than he was and they enjoyed it. He enjoyed it too; it was a fun way to travel. Fast too.

At the top of King Street, he picked the board up and walked up on to the embankment. Prince hesitated again at the bridge. What was it with these wussy dogs? It was so small that, if he did fall off it, he could jump back up again. Maybe.

Over the bridge and along the rough track, (too rough for skateboards), and, yes! There he was.

A lone figure was down by the water, silhouetted in the reflection of the sunset on the lagoon's surface. He was sitting there, drawing on a sketch pad.

Jordan had his back to them and he was engrossed in whatever it was he was drawing. Jason stood there for a while, trying to summon up his courage, he'd never done anything like this before. That was stupid, he was just a kid, a nice kid. So why was he so nervous? Still, he'd come this far - twice. So, with the dog's leash in one hand and his skateboard in the other, he carefully made his way down the rocks to stand beside him.

He heard them coming, of course, he couldn't miss it. Prince was panting away like an old steam engine. He closed his sketch pad and looked up at Jason who smiled shyly as he sank down beside him with a "Hey."

"Hey yourself," came the reply.

"Remember me? Jason McDonald."

"Yeah, I remember. You're the kid who didn't want to talk to me."

"Yeah. I know. That's what I wanted to see you for. I was wrong and I'm sorry, okay?"

"Umm, okay. No big deal. Why didn't you want to talk to me anyway? I gave you my best smile."

"Yeah, you did," Jason smiled himself. "Look, I was being a jerk. I was suspicious and I was scared. I'm not used to anyone just being nice to me. Well I wasn't then. That's all changed now and that's because of you, what you did. Thank you. Thanks for dragging your friends over and making them talk to me." 

"Hey, I hardly had to drag them. It was their choice. So, you're doing all right now are you?"

"I'm doing great, my life's never been so good. I've got acceptance, I've got friends, I joined the drama club. It's great and it's all thanks to you, to what you did for me. Thank you, Jordan."

"Pleased to hear it. That's good. If I helped at all, well that's good too. Like I said, no big deal."

"No, you're wrong. It is a big deal. For me it is a very big deal. You've changed my life, turned it right around and I'm very grateful. Nobody talked to me before you came along. No-one at all, unless it was to abuse me. Now they do and they don't. I mean they do talk to me and they don't abuse me, because of what you did."

"You're reading too much into it. All I did was to sit down and say hello."

"You did, but it was more than that. You also told the whole school that,"Hey I’m gay, what of it.?" You told your friends to talk to me and they did, and they still do."

"They talk to you because you're a nice guy. Maybe I opened the door a bit, but you keep it open."

"You think I'm a nice guy?"

"Well, yeah. You are aren't you?"

"I dunno. Maybe. I think you're a nice guy too, a really nice guy. Jordan, why can't we be friends?"

Now the conversation froze. They sat and looked into each other's eyes. Jason thought 'Damm. Too far, idiot. Well, I've come this far -'

Aloud, he said, "I mean, just friends. I'm not trying to hit on you or anything. I wouldn't even know how to. I just want to be your friend. I need a friend."

"You've got lots of friends; they're around you all the time now."

"No, I haven't, not really. Well, I have got friends, sort of, but it's all superficial. It's just trendy now to be friends with the former outcast. Next week, or sometime, someone else will be flavour of the month. No-one really knows me."

"But why me? What makes me any different?"

"I don't know, but you are different. You're the only one who saw through all the crap. Everyone else was like, "Wow. Freedom. Being your own boss, that's choice." You saw it like it really is. It's not choice, it's bloody awful. I'm lonely and no-one loves me. No-one."

Jordan thought, then spoke softly. "I'm sorry, Jason I'm sorry for you. I've got a good home and a really great family and I can't even imagine what your life must be like. But if you want a friend, a best friend, you're talking to the wrong person.

This is not my town and I'm not staying here. I'm working on a plan and as soon as I can, I'm outta here. I'm going back home where I belong. I'm sorry, but that's what I'm doing."

"Okay then. I'm sorry too. Sorry to have bothered you." He stood up to go, and stood looking down at him. "You've got a good home and a great family, and you're working on leaving them? Think about that. 'Bye Jordan. See you around."

"'Bye Jason and - Eww! Yuck. What did he do that for?" (Prince slurped across Jordan's upturned face with his big wet tongue.)

"Oops. Sorry about that. He's kissing you. Means he like you. That's amazing actually, Prince normally only kisses Dad, no-one else, not even me. He must think you're a nice guy too. See you Jordan."

He walked back up the bank, across the road, stood on his board and Prince towed him all the way home.

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