The Saturday Boy
Chapter 19 - Confronting the Worst Day of My Life
I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, dressed in my school uniform. My eyes looked tired, but my brain was racing. Taking long and deliberate breaths I tried to calm myself. I looked down at my hand perched on the sink, it was trembling.
"Joey, are you done in there I need to wash my hair."
"Almost done mum," I replied, splashing some cold water on my face. All I wanted to do was lock myself away in my room. The prospect of walking into school right now was inducing a nauseating feeling in my gut.
I stepped out of the bathroom and headed to the kitchen. My stomach was crying out for food but my brain was protesting. I had to eat something or I would be asleep by first period.
"Want me to run you into school Joey?" A sleepy Roman said padding into the kitchen scratching his nuts.
"Huh, really?" I asked, wondering why he was up this early. Roman was a night owl and It was rare for him to be out of his room before eleven most days.
"Don't look so surprised, I gotta go see my boss at the store, I think I'm getting fired for taking extra time off."
"Roman, you don't exactly look bothered about that."
"I'm not, the band is getting more venues now we have a new manager and I can make more in one night than I do in a week at that damn place."
"Then why bother going down there, if you don't care I mean."
"Because I respect the guy and its good manners Joey," he replied, winking at me.
"Hey, I do manners… sometimes." My comment was ignored by Roman as he pulled the milk from the refrigerator and drenched some frosted flakes.
"What time do you need to leave?" he asked, crunching away.
"In about twenty minutes if you drive me, five if you don't."
"Ok just let me eat this and I'll go and get ready."
I went over to the counter and pulled some bread out, before putting it in the toaster and pushing it down. Toast seemed a sensible option seeing as I was feeling a little sick. I had never had butterflies in my stomach so often and it was making me feel like crap.
Pulling some orange juice from the fridge I tipped my head back and drank some straight from the bottle, caring to make sure mum was still in the bathroom as she hated me doing it.
"Morning boys," remarked my dad, as he came plodding into the kitchen yawning.
"Hey dad, mum is in the bathroom she asked if you would make her a cup of tea ready for when she gets out." Roman said, scooping the last of his flakes from the bowl.
"Have both of you lost the use of your hands or something?"
"Sorry dad, I just had orange juice and wasn't making tea." The comment earned me a slap on the back of the head from my dad.
"It wouldn't hurt you to make your mum though one would it."
"I didn't think, sorry."
"Don't worry, I'll do it, just try to think outside the box Joey. Do you need money for lunch?"
"Do you mind, all my wages are going to good causes right now," I said, a hint of sarcasm in my voice.
"Here is ten pounds, if your mother asks, it was five," My dad said pulling a note from his wallet on the microwave.
"Gee, thanks dad," I whispered, holding the note up to the light and flicking it.
"It's real you cheeky monkey, now get out of here so I can have some breakfast in peace. Oh and Joey?"
"Keep that iPad out of sight unless you want your mother to cut your balls off, its lying in full view on your bed. And don't look at me as if I just came off a spaceship I wasn't dreaming." My face filled with heat as I had been busted.
"The iPad, right… yeah dad thanks."
"I suppose you had something to do with that?" My dad asked, glaring at Roman, who put his best "who me" expression on. "Jesus guys, you want a quiet life just like I do right? Well do yourselves a favour and be smart about things."
I walked out of the kitchen and in to my room, promptly erasing the tablet from view. I felt like I had let Roman down after promising I would be careful with the iPad. I was just relieved that my dad saw the funny side of it otherwise Roman would have gone mental at me… well he still might.
On the way to school Roman was in a good mood so I was relieved the chances of him going mental at me were slim.
"Sorry by the way." I said.
"The iPad right? Don't worry about it, I know you have a lot on your plate right now, you probably just forgot, I'm not gonna burn you for it, not with everyone else on you like a monkey round the neck."
"I'm getting used to you thanking me. By the way I am keeping a black book for all the favours you owe me. When this is all over for you, I intend to start calling some of them in." He declared.
"Do you think it will ever be over?"
Roman sighed. "Sure it will. You know Joey, life has a way of working itself out. When something bad happens it always seems worse at first, but once people have a couple of nights sleep, it all starts to lose its sharpness. People forgive people, life goes on. I know you don't believe me now, but I think in the years to come you will look back at ALL this and wonder what all the fuss was about."
I grinned. "Your right, I don't believe you, but thanks for saying it Roman, you certainly talk sense."
Roman pulled into the school grounds and I was suddenly overcome with a feeling of nervousness. I already felt like people were looking at me. I played imaginary betting games with myself wondering how far I would get before someone came and asked me a question… and not about homework!
"You ok, you look kinda zoned out?" Roman asked as I sat there, he had already stopped and was probably trying to ascertain why I had not left his car.
"Yeah… yeah sorry, I just haven't been looking forward to this moment." I replied coming back to the present. Roman squeezed my shoulder and gave me a gentle smile.
"Don't make a habit of it, but if you want me to pick you up, just call me. I don't mind doing it for you at the moment."
"I probably will, I don't fancy getting on a bus full of people I know this afternoon."
"Yeah, that's why I offered, I was kinda thinking that might be on your mind."
"See you later bro, and thanks." I got out and moments later caught Dean coming towards me. He looked worried.
"Ok Joey, you want the bad news or the bad news?"
"How about the good news Dean, and hello to you too." I said, feeling a sinking feeling come over me.
"Ok, the not so bad news is, most people know you hit Shaun, it's kind of all over the school now."
"Sorry but how can they know? The only people who were there when it happened were you, me, my brother and Shaun. My brother does not go to school, Shaun has been off for obvious reasons and I would not want it broadcast so, who does that leave that's been here."
"What? Don't look at me, I haven't said anything!" He hissed, incredulously.
"Well who then, who else knew?" I asked, waving my arms at him. "Ok, fuck that… so you say there is worse news?"
"Uh…yeah, and this one you aint gonna like."
"I don't think I wanna know."
Dean huffed "Yeah well it aint good news for me too, seeing as we're friends and all."
"Just tell me so I can put it on the pile that makes up my FUCKING SHIT LIFE!" I screamed out.
"You know Tommy Parker?"
"The swimmer, yeah he goes out with Andrea Cotton. What about him?"
"Well he seems to know…Oh shit; shut up here he comes now. Talk about something else, talk about something else," Dean whispered quickly avoiding looking over.
"Corkey, A little bird told me you've turned fag?" Tommy Parker called as he got nearer.
"Fuck off, Parker, I'm not interested in rumours"
"Well your friend here didn't exactly deny it when I asked him."
"Dean?" I blurted, glaring at him.
"Parker I never said it was true," Dean said, awkward that he had not fully backed me up.
"Well Cork, how does it feel that people think you are blowing Stanton?"
"I said Fuck off Parker, you don't know what you are talking about, he works at my parent's pub that's all." I was getting annoyed now. Who the fuck was putting these things round the school.
"So how does he…?" Parker asked, doing the action of someone fucking doggy style.
"Look, I don't have to listen to this, C'mon dean, we have role call soon."
"Yeah Grissom, better not keep your fuck buddy waiting."
"Parker, you want to watch your mouth, unless you want me to close it for you permanently," Dean barked, turning round to face Tommy, his fists clenched."
"Oh Grissom chill, I won't tell anyone your best friends with a shirt lifter, just as long as it doesn't rub off on you. Oh and Joey, my reliable source happens to be Maddy Slater. So next time you see your lover tell him his best fag hag friend has sold out on him."
"Maddy would never betray Jack!" I snapped at him.
"Whatever you say Cork, anyway I need to get going, need to make my pals aware your back so they can put their back's against the wall."
Tommy walked away from us, the adrenaline rippling through my body, I was shaking. "You ok?" Dean asked.
"What do you think, can I actually fucking trust you?"
"Joey, I swear I haven't said anything about anything."
"Yeah well why do people know I hit Shaun and WHY do people know… think that I'm seeing Jack, how did that get round. Oh and thanks for fucking backing me up there, you might have just as well outed me yourself!"
"Look, I'm not even involved in your little soap opera Joey, so don't get on my case."
"Are you for real? You're my only ally right now and I need your fucking support, just like I was there to give it to you when you revealed your brother fucked your brains out!"
"You fucking asshole Joey!"
"Yeah well now you know how it feels when something sensitive is being paraded in your face!"
"That's different, I was raped, you dick. Everything that's happened to you, you brought on yourself."
"Well it's nice to know you're in my corner Dean, thanks very much."
"Shit Joey! Look, I don't know what to do, I'm trying to help but I'm in an awkward position here."
"If you fucking dare mention that you are torn between me and your other friends then you can fuck off now Dean. I can't help who I am, and if you can't accept that because you are embarrassed, then I don't even know why we are still talking."
"It's not like that Joey!"
"Oh I think it's pretty clear it is Dean."
"Look, I'm sorry, I'm behind you one hundred per cent."
"Well you heard Tommy, you're ok behind me, just don't get in front of me!"
"Just ignore him, C'mon, like you said, we better go."
"Him I can ignore Dean, it's the other two hundred people in our year I can't ignore."
"Joey it will be old news in a week, just keep your head down deny everything and we'll be ok."
"We'll be ok? Like, as long as no one finds out you are cool with this?"
"Well you don't want anyone else to find out either do you?"
"Right now I don't think I really give a shit Dean."
"You don't mean that your just angry, look I think it would be better if everyone just thought you were straight."
"Easier for who Dean, me… or you?"
"We're gonna be late Joey."
Lunch came round and things had just gone from bad to worse. My locker has been classically vandalised with the words Homofag, by some very intelligent person. I'd had a pack of condoms thrown at me, and groups of silly girls had been laughing at me all morning. The general, look, whisper and giggle kind you just want to slap.
Somehow I had got through it all though and I was quickly building a thick skin, while I could see Dean was wilting under the pressure… my pressure. So heroic of him!
"How was your morning?" came a familiar voice.
"Toby! Hey man good to see you, god I'm sorry, I know I said we were gonna catch up but it's been crazy these last couple of weeks."
"Yeah I've been hearing… well stuff, but I'm not one for following gossip Joey so you have nothing to…"
"It's true!" I blurted out, cutting him off.
"All of it?" he asked, eyes wide.
"Yep, all of it."
"Well, uh… I um, I don't know what to say."
"It is what it is Toby. I'm telling you because I don't want our first conversation after all this time to be a lie. If you want to get up and walk away then I'll understand but I'm not going to sit here and lie to your face. I'm gay, I'm sort of seeing another guy, who's sick, and I hit my best friend for shitting on me."
"Wow, it is all true. Listen Joey, I'm not gonna walk away from you. Whatever you are, you're still the same person I knew. So, what are you gonna do?"
"About all this…the gossip."
"I was just thinking how I don't really care about it Toby. I have enough problems outside school; if I let this get to me then I'm finished."
"With life Toby!"
"Uh, you don't really mean what I think you mean do you?"
"If I'm honest, these last few days, it had crossed my mind yeah. But, the only person who has made it bearable is my brother, and maybe Jack, although he's been hard work lately."
"Yeah, anyway enough of the morbid talk, what have you been doing?"
"Well I still run a little but I'm really into my boarding right now."
"Boarding, as in skateboarding?"
"I did wonder… the way you dress now, and that hair, man you let your hair grow out, looks nice."
"Thanks," Toby said, blushing.
Toby wasn't bad looking but I didn't fancy him, not like Jack, Toby was a little too skinny for me, although I don't think I have had long enough to have the experience of what to look for in guys, that's if it worked like that. But the basic attraction just wasn't there, which I was glad about seeing as I could really do without another distraction.
As Toby and I chatted, Dean approached our table. "Hey Dean, you remember Toby right?"
"Yeah, hey Toby, good to see you. Joey can we talk?"
"Yeah go ahead."
"In private Joey, please,"
"Sure Dean… sorry Toby would you excuse me."
"Sure Joey, take as long as you need, I'll keep any eye on your place."
Dean took me outside to the main entrance, through the doors and outside. It was where Shaun, Dean and me used to meet all the time.
"So, what's up?"
"Shaun just called… his parents know."
"I know they know, that's why I have to go round there, it's part of my punishment."
"No Joey, not that you hit him… they know that he's gay, he's admitted it."
"What? Are you kidding me, the Winter's hate gays, Shaun's dad is always making fun of them and saying how they should be gassed, his mum aint no better either. Whatever possessed him to tell them?"
"He said it was driven out of him by a letter they had received from the school, but his parents won't show him what it's about."
"So what's going on with him then?"
"Do you care?"
"I shouldn't but I feel like I do."
"He said they are not happy about it and are thinking of getting him help."
"Yeah, like from a specialist."
"That's bullshit Dean, you can't change someone who's gay… they're gay, that's it, nothing you can do. Nudda!"
"Hey don't ask me, I'm not an expert," Dean said, scratching his forehead.
"Shit, I gotta go round there tonight that's just gonna be so much fun!"
"I'd rather be you than him though Joey, he don't have a lot going for him right now wouldn't you say?"
I sighed. "I'll see what the deal is when I see him. I have been made to apologise as you know, but I also want to take the opportunity to find out what the hell he's been playing at. Actually scrub that, I don't really care, but Jack wants me to make amends with him and I need to satisfy myself with an explanation from him before I even consider it."
"I'll let you go back to Toby, I'm still out there fire fighting for you, last on my list is Tommy fucking Parker."
"Thanks Dean, I won't hold my breath though. I think this is gonna get worse before it gets better." Dean just rolled his eyes and walked off. I went back to Toby who was patiently waiting for me at our table.
"Sorry about that, just some business with Shaun."
"Is he ok?"
"I'm sure he will be. So where were we?"
"Forgotten." He giggled.
"You have a girlfriend?"
"Did, she got bored of watching me board with my pals, I'm not bothered though, I'd rather be out with my friends than trying to keep a girl happy."
"Yeah funny you should say that," I chuckled.
"So what's the deal with you and Jack then, if that's not too much of a personal question."
"Not at all, God Toby, I don't know, there's just something about him. I never thought in a million years I would ever fall for a guy, it's all still really new to me, but when I'm with him, it all feels so natural."
"Do you love him?"
"I don't know, what is it to love someone?" I asked.
"I miss him when I'm not with him, I day dream about him, I wanna spend all my time with him. I wonder if that means I do, I don't know."
"Sounds like you do."
"Hmm, well whatever I feel for him it drives me crazy. He just completes me, you know? It's like I have been unsatisfied about something I could never put my finger on for as long as I've been able to think, and since he came along I don't have that feeling anymore. That's why I know this is something special and I can't give up on it."
"Yeah Jack is complicated, his background is, and he is a damaged soul, but I wanna change that."
"Is it worth it?"
"Are you kidding, yeah it's worth it," I said defensively, before realising my reaction was a bit over the top. "Sorry, I've just come a long way with him that's all"
"Yeah sounds like it, look I need to go, have to stop by my locker on the way to class. Its good catching up with you, and I'm cool with your… well you know."
"Thanks Toby, listen, I've got a grounding sentence to work off, but as soon as I'm done I would really like to catch up and have a proper chat, like out of school."
"Sounds good, I'll be around, just give me a shout when you're free."
"Will do, see you later." Toby got up and left the table, waving to me as he disappeared from the cafeteria. I was now alone again. More alone than I had felt in a long time. My trip to Shaun's house had just become ten times more complicated and I was aware that if they knew Shaun was gay then I might be a potential candidate too. God knows what's in that letter they got!
I left most of my lunch as the slight hunger I had been feeling prior to the bell ringing had long since left me. A few more snide comments from people as I made my way down the hall to my next lesson told me that this was going to go on for a while. Another person tried to trip me and one even spat at me, but I managed to dodge the incoming saliva. Funny how certain information can breed hatred so fast, but alas, school can be a cruel place, it was just something I had to deal with.
The final bell went for the day and I took a deep breath, puffing it out through my lips. I had survived the first day back at school. Fifty per cent of the worst day of my life was done.
I walked out the main entrance expecting to find Dean waiting for me but there was no one there. I was glad in a way because Roman had agreed to pick me up and I just wanted to get out of there. Walking across the parking lot I used to think about how much I enjoyed school, being with Dean and Shaun. I got on with everyone, had no enemies, but now I felt like I was public enemy number one.
Roman wound down the window as I approached his car. "I'm not gonna ask you if you had a good day because I know the answer, but did you have a day you could face again?"
"It was about as bad as it could be Ro, can we just go home?"
"Get in," he smiled. I went round to the passenger side and flunked into the seat. "Hey, its gonna get better yeah?"
"If you say so, " I said, loosening my tie.
Having got home and been grilled about my first day from my mum I went upstairs to get changed for phase two of my shit day. I found an old pair of sweat pants and t-shirt from my closet and began to strip off my uniform.
I told Roman about Shaun's parents finding out he was gay and he agreed to run me over to Shaun and see that everything was ok. He said he would wait until I text him to let him know everything was ok once inside their house.
"Oh I forgot to ask… the job, did you get fired?"
"He's got this other lad there he's happy with. We agreed a mutual termination shall we say, no hard feelings. He said he had to hire someone else and couldn't afford to pay us both. I said I understood and agreed to leave the job, and at the same time he agreed not to class me as fired. What can I say, it was a win win for all, just the way I like it."
"So are you sure you're gonna be ok for money?"
"Well I don't spend much really, I rarely go out so I can't really see me needing a lot."
"Roman can I ask… How much rent money do you pay mum and dad?"
He burst out laughing. "No stupid, how could I afford that, it's one fifty a month."
"Is that a lot for you?"
"Well its money I could do with myself but I don't work here so I have to pay something, why do you ask?"
"Just something mum said to me." I said, thinking.
"About rent money?"
"Not exactly, she said I live here for free, but technically that's not true is it?"
"I don't know Joey, I don't ask what setup you have here with the rents, its none of my business."
"Let me tell you what I think and see if you agree with me. Jason, the guy who does the pot wash on Friday, Saturday and Sunday works twenty five hours and gets six pound per hour, he's sixteen, same as me."
"What's your point Joey?"
"Hang on I haven't finished yet. I do nine hours on a Saturday, seven hours on a Sunday and two hours the rest of the week, so that's twenty six hours right?"
"Yeah ok, I'm following, carry on,"
"Right, so Jason gets paid…uh lets see, A hundred and fifty for his twenty five hours Yeah?"
"Yeah that sounds right,"
"You wanna know what I get Roman?"
"By the look on your face I'm gonna say not as much."
"Damn right, I get eighty pound for the whole week, eighty pound roman. So if we assume that I should get paid as much, if not more than Jason who happens to press a button on a machine, verses me, who hauls heavy shit around, scrubs floors, bottles up and cleans beer pipes amongst other stuff, then I think it's fair to say either I'm paying a stealth rent, or I'm a fucking mug!"
Roman did a belly laugh that made me look at him with astonishment. What the hell was so funny about that?
"Why are you laughing?"
"Cos mum and dad have taken you for a fool for god knows how long and you've only just worked it out, today!. Listen Joey, I didn't know how much you got paid, or how much anyone gets paid for that matter, I don't get involved with this business. But if you want my advice, ask mum about it. Don't suffer in silence. If you think they are ripping you off then say something."
"Yeah… Yeah I think I will, That's what I'll do, I'll ask for a raise."
"Whoa, careful with the raise word, you don't want Jack to be out of a job, just so you can get paid more."
"Fucking hell Roman, this place is a gold mine, I've seen the books, it takes over nine hundred grand a year, and that's going up year on year, they can afford it, trust me, have you seen mum's new car?"
"Yeah I did wonder about that," he mused.
"Yeah, she owns it, not lease. paid cash, I was there. Who has thirty grand of cash sitting around to splash on a new car."
"Hey don't get worked up at me, I don't pay your wages,"
"I'm sorry; it just winds me up when I think about it." I barked. "Eighty five pound a week indeed," I muttered to myself.
"Wanna go to Shaun's?"
"Do cats eat shit?"
"Mrs Perkins's cat used to eat its own sick, does that count as a yes."
"No Roman, quite frankly I would rather cut my own wrists, but we better go so I can keep mummy happy and Shaun's bastard parents."
Roman cleared his throat. "I'll get my keys."
We pulled up around the corner from Shaun's house. Roman agreed to wait for my text which I planned to send him after it looked like things were going to be ok. I didn't know what to expect when I got there. Shaun's parents had known me for ages and they were also pretty good friends with my parents, but then again, I had never bashed their son up before so I was in uncharted waters with them.
I walked slowly up to the door, wiping my now clammy hands down my pants. Here goes, I thought as I rang the doorbell. I wanted to run away like a little kid, either that or vomit right there and then. I had chance to do neither as the door opened and Mrs Winters stood there looking at me.
"Hello Mrs Winters and how are you on this fresh and sunny afternoon?" I said putting on my best smile.
"Cut the crap Joey, and come in." I did as she asked.
"Its been a while how are you?"
"Oh I'm fine Joey, it's just a shame Shaun is not."
"Yes well I'm very sorry about that, it was a situation I grossly mishandled."
"Yes well, his wounds will heal thankfully but I am very, very disappointed in you Joey Cork!"
"Uh so how is… Shaun?"
"He's in his room, which is where he will stay until his father gets home."
"Oh, everything ok?"
"You know he's… he's one of those. I mean I can't believe it but yes, one of those, he admitted it." I pretended I didn't know what she was talking about. Of course I did bit I wasn't about to give up any information I had heard from Dean, I didn't want to complicate and already completely fucked up situation. Right now I was just glad I had the parents I did, even if they did pay me eighty five pounds a week. Maybe I was giving them a gay discount, I thought.
"Well Mrs Winters, I really don't know what to say. Perhaps I should go up and see Shaun, I really should apologise for what's happened."
"Yes I think you should, and I just hope you mean it Joey."
"Oh yes Mrs Winters, believe me, everything Shaun will hear from me today, I'll mean it alright." I smiled, and headed upstairs.
[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.]