What Else Is There?

by Al Norris

Chapter 10

I had dinner ready for Unc when he got home that night. We briefly discussed how school went and how practice was. When he asked what time he should pick me up for the rehab session, I told him I had hit a slight snag for this first session.

"So your session is at 4:00 pm, but you want to get there at 3:30? Why a half hour early?

"You're not gonna like this, but I scheduled a full blood test for STDs. I found out that Mitch lied to me and he had been with at least two other guys before me. I thought I should get tested just to be safe."

"Shit. Did Mitch tell you this?"

"No, the asshole's still ignoring me."

"Then how do you know about this?"

"His best friend Bobby talked with me after school. Bobby also told me that he and Mitch went to a car show on Saturday, and Mitch hooked up with a guy there."

"Peter, am I gonna have to drag this story out of you, piece by piece?"

So I told Uncle George everything that Bobby had told me. I won't say it was hard but it wasn't exactly easy either. Once again, I went through anger and tears.

"Uncle George, I'm really confused." We had finished dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, and were now sitting in the front room with our coffees. "I like Mitch a lot. But with what has happened and what I've found out, I just want to smash him in the face! How can I be sad and angry at the same time?"

"Peter, you're finding out that there's more to relationships than just friendship. Even there, certain rules apply. Communication is a biggie. All relationships are built on that. Being open and honest with each other. That can take a lot of patience and understanding sometimes. The other thing is trust.

"Trust is something that is built up, a little at a time, by communicating and being honest with the other person or persons in the relationship. Once that trust is broken, many, if not most, relationships suffer. Some relationships can never be repaired, once that trust is gone.

"Never forget that both of these, Communication and Trust, are two-way streets. You have to earn and keep their trust too, and the only way to do that is through honesty and constant communication. It can seem like a lot of work sometimes, but it is also an easy habit to develop when you want to.

"While I'm on my soapbox, there's one more thing to keep in mind. Not everybody is going to want a relationship. Unfortunately, a few of these people are only going to be interested in what they can take, and offer little or nothing in return. From what you've said, I'm afraid that Mitch may be one of them… but I could be wrong.

"High school romances are where we learn the mechanics of relationships. Especially romantic relationships. What is sad is that in our society, parents won't even discuss these things with their children.

"So, in one sense, I'm sorry you have to experience this type of heartache. In another sense, I'm glad because you are learning this at a young age."

"I think I understand what you're saying. It doesn't make the hurt any less, though."

"No, it doesn't. But if you learn from this, it will be better the next time you start feeling more toward another person. And trust me here, you will.

"If I can offer any advice at all: next time, become friends first. I think that is where you and Mitch went wrong. You became infatuated and went right to sex, without becoming friends first and learning what each of you expected from your friendship and whether or not to take that friendship to the next level."

Uncle George had given me a lot to think about. It didn't make the pain I felt any less but I was now beginning to understand where I went wrong.

The rest of the day just kinda passed.

I woke up Tuesday morning, did my rubber band exercises, had my coffee and toast, and went for my run.

At school, nothing much happened until I got to the cafeteria for lunch.

I noticed that that kid, Jimmy, was watching me again. Now that I wasn't fixated on Mitch, maybe it was time to find out why. I noticed that the seat right across from him was open, so I took that seat and began eating.

As I ate my lunch, I noticed that he would take a few bites and look at me. I'm pretty sure that he thought he was being covert in his glances. I saw that he was about done, so I hurried and scarfed down what I had left.

"Hey, Jimmy. How's it going?"

"Huh? You know my name?"

"Of course I do. You're in every one of my AP classes. Why shouldn't I know someone as smart as me?"

"As smart as you? Ha! Who says you are as smart as the rest of us, at this table? We all know those jocks at the other end aren't."

"Oh, dear. Does that mean that a jock can't be as smart as you?" Yes, I can be a real smart-ass I thought as I smirked at him.

"It's a big universe, anything is possible, no matter how unlikely." Quipped the girl sitting next to me. Then she giggled.

"Could you answer a question for me?

"Um… maybe… Sure, why not?" Jimmy was uncertain where this was leading. I could see it in his eyes.

"I noticed that you were looking at me. You have been since the first day I began sitting here with you guys. You're still looking at me. Even today. I would honestly like to know why."

One of the other guys said, "Could be that he couldn't believe a jock would want to sit with us nerds?" Everyone sorta chuckled at that.

Looking directly at Jimmy, I said, "I can see why that might be confusing to some. Especially when it came out that I was also a straight-A student. That had to be really confusing. Lordy! A jock who was a straight-A student, who is taking four AP classes! Who could believe such a thing?

"Now I suppose it's even more confusing since I've come out as being gay. I'm sure the whole school knows this, by now. Is that why you look at me, Jimmy?"

"Tell him, Jimmy. You've told us, now tell Pete." The same guy who had said something a few seconds ago tried to get Jimmy to speak up.

"I'm sorry," I said, turning to the guy. "I sometimes have trouble remembering names… You are?"

The guy reached over the table, sticking out his hand. "I'm Aaron. I'm in your AP Calc class. I think that's the only class we share." I shook his hand.

"Thanks, Aaron. Jimmy, what is it that Aaron wants you to tell me?" Jimmy was blushing. No, it can't be, I'm thinking. "Whatever it is, Jimmy, I can see it's embarrassing you. No pressure. You don't have to tell me, I was simply curious, that's all."

I picked up my garbage. "Hope you guys have a good afternoon," I said and headed to drop off my tray. Then I left the cafeteria to go to my locker to get my books for my next class.

"Pete, can you wait up a minute?" I heard, coming from behind me. I turned around and saw Jimmy coming toward me. So I stopped and waited for him to catch up.

"I'm sorry if I embarrassed you, Jimmy. That wasn't my intention. It's just that you are always looking at me, either at the lunch table or in our classes."

"Yeah, about that… I always thought you were a great looking guy. I guess I've had a crush on you. And now that you've come out as gay, I guess I've wondered if I had a chance…"

"Whoa! Are you telling me that you're gay? Is that what Aaron wanted you to tell me?"

He hung his head, looking at the floor. "Yeah, I guess I am. And that is what Aaron wanted me to say."

"I'm flattered, Jimmy. I don't know what to say!"

"Hehehe… While I haven't come out by shouting it to the whole school, all the nerds and a few other friends know I'm gay."

"Does your family know?"

"Yeah. They're not all real comfortable with it, but I haven't been kicked out. That's something, at least."

"Brothers or sisters? Do they know"

"I have an older brother. He's four years older than me and has always had my back. Heck! He stood up for me when I told the rents. I think my mom is OK with my being gay but dad? If it hadn't been for Scooter, I think he may have kicked me out of the house."

"I know the feeling. If my mother had found out I was gay, she would have had her brothers beat the crap out of me… Then kicked me out, if I still lived."

"Is that why you moved up here?"

"Yup. Uncle George has been great. He views a person's sexuality as being but a small part of the overall person."

"Wow! I take it your uncle has custody?"

"Yeah. My mom couldn't sign the custody papers fast enough."

"Shit. That had to have hurt."

"Yeah, well, it is what it is, ya know?"

"Look, the bell is gonna ring in a minute or so. Can we get together after school? Just to talk, I mean. I'd really like to get to know you."

"Yeah, we could do that. But not today. I have practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have physical rehab because of what the assbite Danbury did."

"You have a full schedule, it seems."

"Tell you what, We have a game this Saturday afternoon, how about we have coffee after the game? Maybe at Maverik's?" Jimmy nodded. We shook hands and went to our lockers.

I had a good feeling about Jimmy, and it wouldn't hurt to make friends with people other than jocks. He has a crush on me, is this something that might replace Mitch? Nah. My feelings for him are still too strong… Even if I want to put my fist in his face!

At Gym today, Coach Anderson said we would be playing flag football on our non-practice days, for the next couple of weeks. No more study hall, for the time being! Teams were picked and Mitch was on the opposing team. Coach put me in as a wide receiver, probably because that was the position I was gonna try out for next fall.

We did a few running plays, turning over the ball when we didn't get to our first down marker. The next time we were in offensive play, the first play was a short pass to me. I ran out about ten yards, and the ball was right there. No one was around to interfere, and I ended up in the end zone for a touchdown.

On our next possession, I was supposed to run out ten yards and cross over to centerfield. Just before the ball got to me, someone hit me hard as they tackled me from behind. Coach Anderson blew his whistle and ran toward us. See, I wasn't eligible to be tackled until I caught the ball. At best, an opposing player could try and knock the ball away or intercept it.

Should I mention that this was supposed to be flag football? Tackles weren't exactly allowed.

"Pass Interference, Thomas. First down." The coach was pretty mad. "Thomas, what the hell are you trying to prove? You know better than that," the coach turned to me, "Are you OK, Williams?"

I got to my feet and there was MItch with this smirk on his face. What the hell! He hasn't talked to me since last Saturday and now he does this? "I'm OK, coach." Damn good thing I'm in shape and landed on my left side. That could've been a real nasty injury to a non-athlete.

For the rest of the period, nothing else happened. Of course, I started sprinting the patterns, making sure no one was near me. Mitch tried like hell to be on me by playing cornerback. Always on my side of the field. No one could keep up with my sprints and that included him.

Mitch was half-dressed when most of us got to the lockers. He was gone before I could get stripped and ready for a shower. His attitude was beginning to bug me. So much so that I quickly showered, got dressed, and jogged home without waiting for my escort.

I hadn't realized I had been crying until I got home. It wasn't until I got out of my school clothes and into some comfortable clothing, I saw the tear streaks on my face. I washed and found the eye drops to clear out my red eyes. I didn't want my uncle to know anything had happened.

Unc came home, picked me up and we went to the hospital. I went to the lab and had my blood drawn. They gave me a number and told me that the results would be in by Friday afternoon. I could call in and identify myself by the number they gave me.

At the Physical Therapy offices, my assigned therapist evaluated me for about 20 minutes. Then he had me do a bunch of different range-of-motion exercises. At the end of an hour, I was told that I was extremely lucky. The damage to my shoulder wasn't nearly as bad as everyone else thought it might be. He wanted me to continue with the morning rubber band stretches and gave me some different stretches to do before I went to bed. He told me that if I did these things faithfully, I just might be able to play sports by the end of the next week!

Now that was a motivator if anything was!

Wednesday through Friday was about the same as Monday and Tuesday, without the flag football drama. Mitch was still ignoring me and he still dressed and left the shower block before anyone else. At lunchtime, I sat by Jimmy and we continued to get to know each other.

Friday after practice, I called the hospital lab and gave them the ID number. They looked it up and told me the tests were negative. I thanked them and tapped the little red disconnect icon. One less worry on my mind.

Saturday we had our first game at 1:00 pm. It was against Winnemucca and we were the home team.

I still couldn't play, but I was able to coach Jack with hand movements if he was out of place. It didn't happen too often. He was learning fast. We lost, 5-4, but it was still an exciting game. Coach Anderson said that was the closest game we played against them in the last 5 years. Coaches aren't supposed to be happy about a loss, but his relaxed stance told us all that he was satisfied with our overall performance.

Since I hadn't played, there was no need for me to shower with the team. Jimmy was at the game and met me at the gate. We walked over to the Maverik store, got our coffees, then we walked over to his house. Interestingly enough, Jimmy lived 2 blocks from Mitch.

As we walked into his house, Jimmy called out, "Mom, Dad. I'm home. I brought a friend I'd like you to meet."

"We're in the kitchen, James." A male voice, presumably his dad, responded.

I followed Jimmy through the front room and into the kitchen. A pretty-looking woman was stirring something on the stove while an older guy was sitting at the table with a cup of coffee.

"Mom, dad, I'd like you to meet Pete Williams. He's in all my AP classes and is on the varsity baseball team."

The woman was tall, maybe about five foot ten with long blond hair, and turned when we entered the kitchen. She had a nice smile on her face.

The man looked up from his coffee with a scowl on his face. Hard to tell since he was sitting down, but I thought he could be a bit taller than his wife. He was well built, that much was evident.

"Pete, this is my mother, Sandy Breslen, and my father, Micca Breslen." Jimmy had pronounced his dad's name with a long 'i'.

I held out my hand and shook with Jimmy's mom. "Nice to meet you, Mrs. Breslen." I then held out my hand to his dad. "A pleasure to meet you, sir."

He looked at my hand, then looked me in the eyes before he spoke. "So you're the queer kid who got Jordan Turner's son expelled and Dr. Danbury fired?" He didn't bother to shake my hand, so I lowered my arm.

"Micca! You know that's not what happened!" Shouted his wife.

Micca spat back at his wife, "Does it matter? Mr. Turner is threatening to fire me because our son is a fuckin' faggot!"

"And who told Turner about our son?" Sandy spat right back.

I turned and walked out of the kitchen. Jimmy followed me. "This is what I put up with, Pete. Week in and week out." He was in tears.

"I'm so sorry, Jimmy. I didn't come here to cause you more problems." I put a hand on his shoulder. "I should leave now."

At that moment, Mr. Breslen came through the kitchen door, seeing us, he barreled over shouting incoherently at me, then I clearly heard, "Get your filthy fuckin' hands off my son!" He roared, just before he slammed his fist squarely into my face!

OK, I'm gonna admit this, just this once. I saw stars! I don't know if Mr. Breslen actually knocked me down, 'cause I don't remember getting up. What I remember was that I was out of the house and in the front yard like a shot!

I took my cell and speed-dialed Uncle George. I looked up at the sound of the screen door being thrown open and saw Mr. Breslin running toward me. I turned to take off running to get away from him.

"DAD! NO!" I heard. "ARGHHHHH!" And the sickening sound of bones being broken. I turned to look back and I saw Jimmy on the ground with Mr. Breslin kicking him.

I ran back, at full speed, thinking only that Jimmy was gonna die! I did a flying tackle to move Mr. Breslen away from Jimmy. We went to the ground and then he turned on me. He got a couple of light punches to my torso when I was able to punch his gonads. That stopped him long enough for me to jump up and really kick his 'nads. He rolled over and began puking.

Sandy was outside screaming, I yelled at her to call the police. I noticed my cell was on the ground, so I picked it up, meaning to call 911 myself.

"Peter, Peter! What's going on? Peter! Answer me damnit!" Shit. I had forgotten I had tried to call my uncle!

"Uncle George, we need help. Jimmy's dad went berserk and punched me. Then he went after Jimmy. He's hurt bad."

"You're at Jimmy's house? The address you gave me?"


"Can you get away from Jimmy's dad?"

"No. Jimmy was beaten unconscious. I know he has broken bones, but I don't know where." I knew enough not to move him, but he didn't look good. "I was able to take his dad out of the fight, but I don't know for how long." I could hear sirens now.

I looked over at Mr. Breslin who was still puking… I must have gotten him good! I saw out of the corner of my eye that Mrs. Breslin was going for Jimmy.

"No! Mam, don't move him." I dropped my phone and grabbed at Sandy's shoulders. "Don't move Jimmy! We don't know where he's hurt or how badly." I think I was lucky, as I was able to pull her back a bit. She looked back at her husband and mumbled, "That son of a bitch. I'll kill him for this!"

I heard several sets of tires screeching, doors being opened and feet running. Pointing at Mr. Breslin I shouted, "He hurt his son. He beat him!"

"Son, did he do this to you, too?" I had no clue what the cop was talking about.

"I'm fine. Take care of Jimmy and keep that man away from him."

"Son, you're all bloody. You're not fine."


"Uncle George!" I got off my knees and ran to him. "Why Uncle? Why is all this shit happening? Why? Am I that bad a person?" Uncle George had me in his arms holding me. "I should never have come here… Everyone would be better off if I were dead!"

"Shhhh. Never say something like that! None of this is your fault, Peter. None of it!"

I felt a hand on my shoulder. "Pete, look at me." I turned and recognized Officer Stoner, "Pete, I know a whole shitload of bad stuff has happened. But it's not your fault. Sometimes crap happens and we just get caught up in it."

"If I never would have come here, none of this would have happened."

"Maybe, maybe not. We can't know this stuff. And what would have happened if you had stayed with your mom? Where would you be if she had found out you were gay?"

"I'd be dead. Her brothers would have killed me for sure. She would have been happy about that."

"OK… But here, you're still alive. And you're living with someone who loves you dearly. From what your uncle says, you've never had that."

"But if I hadn't come here with Jimmy, he wouldn't be hurt right now." I looked and Jimmy was being strapped into the ambulance. I saw that Sandy was with him, as they shut the doors. "It's my fault his dad tried to kill him. I should have been brave enough to let his dad beat on me. I should be the one in the ambulance."

"No, Pete. Mr. Breslin had a mental breakdown. According to what Mrs. Breslen told me, he was building up to it. She just didn't think it would get physical like it did." I was still sobbing. "Now Pete, let's get you cleaned up and you can tell me what happened. OK?"

While some of the blood came from my nose, most of it was from a cut over my right eye. Scalp wounds… They bleed a whole bunch! The EMTs steri-stripped the cut after cleaning it up. I wouldn't need to go to the ER at least.

It took another half hour to explain what happened and then to answer all the questions the police had.

"Officer Stoner? Does Mrs. Breslin have her keys? We shouldn't leave her house all open like it is."

"Good question, Pete. I'll find out. Before I do that though, why don't you just call me Farley? Everyone else does. Besides, since we keep running into each other, it might as well be on a first-name basis." He added the last part with a gentle smile. "That goes for you too sir." He said looking at Unc.

I thought about it for a split second and asked, "Can I call you Officer Farley? I'm only fourteen ya know." He grinned and nodded.

"Oh! She was cooking something. You should probably check that to make sure the burner is turned off!"

Officer Farley looked at Uncle George. "Mr. Williams, you have a special boy there. No one else that I know of would be so concerned about other people's things. Especially under these circumstances."

Uncle George just hugged me to him. "Yeah… Farley… I know. And call me George."

Officer Farley stood up and went into the house. A couple of minutes later, he came out and walked over to us. "I'm glad you said something, Pete. She was cooking something, but it's pretty burnt now. I shut the stove off and set the pan in the sink and ran water in it. I hope she can scrape all the burned food out of it."

"Good. One less thing she'll have to worry about."

"Uncle George, can we go to the hospital? I'd like to find out how Jimmy is doing."

Before Unc could answer, I heard another familiar voice, "My God, Pete? What happened? You've got blood all over you and your clothes! Are you OK?"

"Why Mitch!" My voice went cold. "So nice of you to be concerned all of a sudden… After ignoring me all week. Come on Uncle George, let's go." I stood up and began walking toward Unc's car.

As we walked away, I heard, "I guess I deserved that." I didn't bother to answer. I was too angry to say anything to him. I waited for Unc to unlock the car doors.

At the last second, before I sat in the car, I changed my mind. I said loud enough that I knew Mitch would hear, "Oh, I called on the tests. No STDs. I'm clean." I turned and looked at Mitch and smirked before I got into the car and buckled up.

As we drove off Uncle George said, "Since you had already told me the test results, I take it that was some kind of dig at Mitch?"

"Yeah. I guess I wanted him to know that I knew he slept around. That was kinda mean, wasn't it?"

"Not if it wakes him up to what he is doing. I just didn't think you could be that catty!" He chuckled.

It didn't take us too long to get to the hospital ER. We walked into the waiting room and found Mrs. Brselen. "Any word on how Jimmy is doing?"

"It's bad enough, but not as bad as we feared. Micca didn't kick him in his head, so no problems there. It seems he has a broken collarbone, on his left side. Along with 3 cracked ribs." She started bawling, so I took her in my arms to help comfort her. I just didn't know what else I could do.

"Oh, Pete, thank you so much for coming back and pulling Micca off of Jimmy. With the rage he was in, you risked your own life by doing that. You can't know what this means…"

"I didn't think…"

"Um, Mrs. Breslen, is it?" Uncle George interrupted me.

"Please, call me Sandy. You too, Pete."

"Sandy, I was gonna say that that's the kinda guy Peter is. When others are involved, he never thinks about himself.

I felt my face flush. Again. There are a lot of things I'm not used to. These types of compliments are almost at the top of the list.

It was about another half hour and Officer Farley came through the doors that lead back to the ER rooms. He saw Sandy and headed over, digging into his pocket.

"Mrs. Breslen," he held up a ring of keys, "You had a pot still cooking on your stove," Sandy put her fist up to her mouth, "so I shut the stove off and sat the pot in the sink with some water. Then I had Mr. Breslen give me his keys and locked up your house."

"Oh! Thank you so much, Officer. I had forgotten I was still cooking!"

"Don't thank me. It was Pete that thought of the house and the stove."

"See what I mean, Sandy?" She grabbed me and kissed my cheeks! Meanwhile, both Farley and Unc were laughing!

Officer Farley drew me off to one side. "Pete, just so you know, when you kicked Mr. Breslen? You ruptured one of his testicles. He was not gonna get back up. He was done at that point."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to really hurt him. Not that bad anyway. I just didn't want to see him kill his own son!"

"Did ya really think he was gonna do that?"

"Yes sir. He was in a blind rage. It wouldn't have mattered who he was beating, I've seen that kinda thing before."

"Yeah well, I wanted to let you know, you did good. You used the force necessary to stop the threat. No court is gonna hold you responsible for that. Anyway, they're prepping him for surgery right now. They have to remove the testicle before it becomes necrotic and causes more damage."

"You know that hurts even thinking about it?" I held my hands over my nuts. Farley just laughed.

We walked back over to where Sandy and my uncle were sitting. Officer Farley said he had to get back inside and finish some paperwork.

"Um, Sandy? How are ya gettin' home?"

"Don't you worry about that, Pete. I'll call a neighbor. I'm sure they'll want to hear what happened. Fresh gossip, ya know?"

Uncle George spoke up, "We can wait around until you know what's gonna happen…"

"No need for that. Lord only knows how long this will take."

OK… If you're sure about this?"

"I'm sure, George. And Pete? Thank you again for saving Jimmy's life."

"Aww shuckins' mam, 'twern't nuttin." I looked down at the floor, had my hands in my jeans pockets, and scoffed a foot back and forth.

Uncle's hand smacked the back of my head. "Quit being a dork, jerk!" I looked up, Unc was smiling and Sandy was all but laughing. "And forget about a career in the performing arts. You ain't got it in ya. But, when it comes to ham, your kitchen will always be full of it."

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