My Best Friend

by Victor Thomas

Chapter 15

Monday morning, I met Allison in the hallway at school. I expected that she might be angry, but I guess none of the guys had been talking about what I'd said in the locker room. Either they hadn't, or it just hadn't got back to her yet. She was all smiles when her eyes met mine. Her happiness wounded me like a blow to the head. I knew it was a false happiness and that it couldn't last. I knew she was happy about something that wasn't real. I didn't love her, didn't even really like her. I was just waiting until our relationship would end. I felt like the worst kind of rat.

The day was uneventful, but something happened during lunch that brought me pain. It wasn't even anything all that big and I shouldn't have let it get to me, but I just couldn't help it.

I was sitting at the table with Kolton, Jon, Brendan, Mark, Robert, Todd, Jeremy and a few others. This little freshman walked by and I noticed that Jeremy was eyeing him with a very clear expression of distaste on his face. I wasn't the only one that noticed it.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Brendan.

"That boy," said Jeremy. "I think he's a faggot."

"And why do you think that, Jeremy?" asked Brendan in a tone that seemed to indicate he thought Jeremy was just a little dumb for even thinking about it.

"Ewww, a fairy," said Todd, before Jeremy had a chance to answer.

"Look at the way he walks," said Jeremy. "And look at how he holds his wrists."

"You're stupid, Jeremy," said Brendan.

"Hey, blondie, come over here," said Todd to the boy.

The boy looked confused, but realized Todd meant him. I think he was kind of intimidated by a table full of jocks. He walked toward us cautiously, then stood there looking nervous and uncomfortable.

"What's your name, blondie?" asked Todd.


Jeremy snickered at both the name and the boy's soft voice. His voice was kind of feminine.

"Okay, just wanted to know," said Todd with a fake lisp. "Now fly on out of here."

Todd and Jeremy started laughing and so did some of the others. I didn't think it was one damn bit funny. Shannon's face paled as he turned away and he looked like he was ready to cry. He hadn't failed to notice Todd mocking him.

I was pissed. I wanted to tell both of them what a couple of losers I thought they were. I wanted to go over to Shannon and tell him to just ignore them. I couldn't do it, however. I couldn't stand up for a boy who had just been accused of being gay. I was afraid that doing so would reveal what I was. I felt like I was in a fight where I couldn't defend myself. All I could do was stand there and let my opponent hit me. I felt impotent and weak. I was both angry and hurt at the same time.

Todd was still talking with a lisp and Jeremy had joined him.

"Come on, Todd," said Jeremy. "Let's go spend some time alone behind the gym."

Both of them busted up laughing as they walked away. A lot of the guys at the table thought it was pretty funny, too. I didn't find it humorous in the least. I knew they weren't making fun of me, but it felt like it. It didn't matter that their actions weren't directed at me. The feelings I was hiding inside were exactly the same. I felt sick.

In a way, they were making fun of me. Since I'd admitted to myself that I was gay, I felt very protective of all the other gay boys in the world. I knew the pain they suffered. I knew the horrible torment that was hurled upon them by their friends and even family. None of my friends knew my secret, and yet many of them hurt me daily, even my best friend Todd, just now. Every little gay put down cut into me, let me know that I was different, and that they considered boys like me freaks.

I shuddered to think of those that had it even worse. I'd heard about this one gay boy who thought that he had a good day if no one called him 'faggot.' That was pretty sad. And that wasn't even as bad as it could get either, not by a long shot. I knew there were boys out there who thought they were lucky if they made it home without getting beat up. There were even a lot of boys who got kicked out by their parents when it was discovered they liked boys. How could parents do that to their own son? How could they turn their backs on their own child just because he was gay? The problems that other gay boys faced made my own pale by comparison, and yet sometimes I didn't know if I could make it through the day. Life shouldn't have been that way for anyone.

The next day, Allison was giving me the cold shoulder. She didn't talk to me in the halls between classes the way she always did. When my eyes met hers, she seemed hurt and angry. I had the feeling my plan for ridding myself of her was working, but I didn't feel very good about it. I was glad it seemed to be succeeding, but I wasn't too proud of myself for the method I was using. I should've taken my time and come up with something better, something that wouldn't have started the whole school whispering about her and me. I should've thought more about her than myself. Instead, I'd latched on to the first idea that popped into my head.

I'd acted rashly in my desperation to get rid of her. The mere thought of what I'd done with her made me sick to my stomach. I had to fight to keep from becoming angry with her over the whole thing. She didn't deserve my anger. All she was guilty of was letting me do what I wanted. It was my fault, not hers. I still had trouble controlling my emotions. I felt like she'd stole my virginity. I felt like I'd been raped. I knew neither of those things were true, but that didn't stop me from feeling that way.

She didn't speak to me the entire day. The few times I saw her, she looked too angry to talk to me. I wasn't looking forward to dealing with her. I half wished she'd go ahead and lay into me and get it over with. I knew what was coming and I knew it would not be pleasant. She didn't confront me, however, she just avoided me. I could feel her anger like a wave of white heat, whenever she was near.

The guys made lots of crude comments in the locker room before and after football practice. Everyone seemed to have the need to comment on me banging Allison. It'd been that way since I'd admitted I'd fucked her. I actually didn't mind that. I'd moved up a notch in everyone's eyes. I'd laid a girl so that made me cool, at least in the eyes of my teammates. I enjoyed the attention.

She was waiting for me outside the locker room as I walked out after practice. The moment I'd been dreading had come. It was time to pay for my popularity with the guys. It was evident that she was not happy at all. The other guys noticed as quickly as I did.

"I don't think I'd want to be in your shoes just now," Steve said quietly as he and the rest of my teammates abandoned me to my fate.

I knew they'd all be watching whatever was about to happen.

I walked toward her, afraid. It's not that I thought she was going to hurt me, although a swift kick in the nuts wouldn't have surprised me too much. I was afraid of the whole confrontation, mainly because I was at fault.

"You're just like all of them, aren't you?" she screamed.

"What?" I said, kind of confused.

"You just can't keep from bragging. You had to go and tell all your friends about what you did with me, didn't you?"

"Hey, I just said…"

"You just told them everything! Didn't you?"

"Allison listen, you didn't exactly say I couldn't tell anyone."

"Did I have to say that? I thought you'd be smart enough to know I didn't want my sex life announced over the school loudspeakers. Or are you such a big dumb jock that you can't figure that out?"

She emphasized each word by poking me hard in the chest.

I had an instinct to placate her, to say things that would calm her down, to tell her I was sorry. That would defeat my purpose, however. If I followed my instincts, all the trouble I'd caused her, and myself, would be for nothing. I ignored my instincts and did my best to be a real ass.

"Listen, babe, you know you liked it. You know you want it again. So, what if I told a few of the guys. Hell, everyone knows you fuck around, so what's the big deal? It's not like half the guys on the team haven't fucked you anyway. Come on, Allison, I'll take you for a little drive and we can have some more fun."

I felt like a total creep for saying all that. I wasn't the kind of guy who said that bullshit. I needed her to think I was, however, and she did.

"You are the only guy on the football team I've ever dated and you know it! As for what we did, you weren't that great, Scott. Don't flatter yourself."

"You said I was the best you'd ever had," I shot back.

"What did you think I was going to say? That was nice, but Bobby's a lot better?" She rolled her eyes. "You want the truth, Scott? Do you? The truth is, you're lousy in bed! You could barely get it up." She looked over to where the guys were listening. "And I'll tell you something else! I've always heard that muscular guys like you build themselves up to compensate for having a small dick, and after seeing yours, I know it's true!"

I was silent for a moment. I knew some of my friends could overhear and she was embarrassing me. I forced myself to go on with it.

"Come on, Allison. You're just angry. You know I'm not small. Let's go somewhere private and I'll make it up to you. I'll give you what you need, baby."

"I don't need you, your ego, or your big mouth, Scott. I can replace you with any guy in this school," she said.

"And I bet you will!"



"Fuck you, Scott!"

With that she was gone and out of my life. I looked around, embarrassed, and it wasn't an act. A lot of my teammates had witnessed the whole thing. I could tell they were kind of shocked because not one of them said anything to me about it. I think I might have felt better if they had cut me down over losing my girlfriend and over her comment about my sexual performance. Their silence cut into me more than any taunt they could have hurled at me.

I wasn't happy at all about her saying I had a small dick. Things like that could get around. The guys who'd seen me in the showers knew it wasn't true, however. I was bigger than most of them. The girls had no way of knowing how I was hung, but I guess that didn't matter since I wasn't interested in them anyway. Still, if word started going around that I had a small cock, it wouldn't be fun. I might even get a nasty nickname out of it. I sure as hell didn't want to go through life being called 'little dick' or something like that.

I left the football field and drove home. What an embarrassing experience. Damn, she'd really let me have it. At least she was no longer a problem. I felt like a real ass over the whole thing but a least I didn't have to touch her again.

I walked into school the next day, dreading what was coming, the relentless teasing from my friend, the looks of laughter from the girls and all the other crap that was sure to come my way.

Having her out of my life was a relief, however. The anxiety I felt every time we went out, or even when I just met her in the hallways of school was almost overpowering. I can't say I didn't enjoy myself with her now and then; parts of our relationship had been fun, but I was glad it was over. The bad always outweighed the good.

Word had spread throughout the school that Allison had dumped me. A few people knew about it the day after it happened, but pretty much everyone knew now. I was rather embarrassed about being dumped, even though I was the one who had engineered it. I was glad that I had the balls to choose that path and endure the rejection. I could've taken the easy way out and duped her instead, but I'd caused her enough pain. I wasn't about to add to it by hurting her feelings as well. I'm sure the way I acted did hurt her feelings, but she'd have been even more hurt if I'd have dumped her. The breakup was pretty messy, but it was the best I could do. It was better that she think I was a jerk. Ending things with a jerk was surely a lot easier on her than ending things with a nice guy. She wouldn't be missing me; she'd be glad she was rid of me. Getting dumped did have one advantage. It preserved the illusion that I was interested in girls.

Todd was worried about the breakup. He thought it would get me down. I could tell he was making a special effort to keep my spirits up. I did need cheering up, but it didn't have anything to do with Allison. I had my regrets, but that was over. I just needed to find myself a boyfriend.

He laughed and joked as we sat together at lunch. He acted crazier than ever and I know most of it was for my benefit. Everyone seemed in a pretty good mood. The whole usual crowd was there.

"Hey, Scott, want to meet up at the river this Saturday?" asked Todd. "We may not have many more chances."

He was right about it being one of our last chances. It was early September but fall was just around the corner, and soon it would be October and cold weather was on the way in another month or so. A recent heat wave had made for a very hot week, not unusual for summers in Kansas, but it couldn't possibly hold much longer. Soon it would be way too cool to swim.

"Sure," I said.

I loved swimming and hanging out with the guys. Todd knew just how to cheer me up. Before the end of the day, he had invited Brendan, Robert, Mark and the others as well. The whole gang would be there and Mark had suggested a cookout at his parent's farm as well that evening. Todd had managed to completely change my mood.

I arrived at Elmore Park at noon, ready for a fun filled day with Todd, Mark, Brendan, Robert and my other friends. It was a nice, sunny day, maybe a little cool for swimming, but warm enough to hang out with my friends.

I was walking over to where everyone was gathered around two of the picnic tables, when I saw him. Brian! Mark's cousin who I had met earlier in the summer at this very spot.

I couldn't take my eyes off him. My gaze followed wherever he roamed. Usually, I was far more cautious. One in my situation had to be, but for once I just stared. I couldn't help it. I had no control whatsoever, neither over my eyes, nor my heart.

Before I had noticed him, I had been checking out Todd, who was wearing a tight-fitting tank top and shorts, and then Brendan who had plenty of muscles in all the right places, but when I spotted Brian, something seemed to stir in me. Like the last time I had seen him, there was something about him that drew me to him. My eyes had always been drawn to attractive young men, especially Todd, but now both my eyes and my heart were drawn to Brian.

There was plenty to attract both my eyes and my heart. He was, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful boys I had ever beheld, but it was more than that, he radiated a kindness and cheerfulness that was so distinct, it was practically a visible phenomenon. I fell for him on the spot. With one look I was taken. Somehow, I knew in my heart that the two of us were meant to be together. Don't ask me how, I just knew.

I knew it wasn't wise to gaze upon him as I was doing, but at this distance it would be difficult to discern what had so captured my interest. I couldn't help but look at him, however. I felt drawn to him as I'd never felt drawn to anyone before. There was a danger, but what was life without risk?

He had the look of one who was unaware of his own good looks. The way he shyly smiled and glanced at the ground spoke of both his modesty and a certain awkwardness. Such mannerisms made him all the more attractive. He absentmindedly ran his fingers through his hair as he looked over at me and smiled. I looked at him and smiled back.

I looked directly at him. He turned quickly away, visibly embarrassed, as my eyes met his. That was proof enough that he was looking me over with more than casual interest. I'd seen that look in the eyes of girls, including Allison, before. I knew what it meant.

Oh my god! Could he possibly be gay? Could he be interested in me? I could feel a reaction in my shorts as I looked at him. I was both exited and scared at the same time. I couldn't keep my eyes off him. I couldn't help it; I was completely taken by him. I knew it was foolish. I knew it would never come to anything.

I knew I had set my sights on the unobtainable, and that my failure to achieve it would crush me into dust. I couldn't help being taken, however. I couldn't help but bear the slightest hope that maybe, just maybe, he would feel the same as I. My heart hoped, while my mind warned me of the danger.

I feared I was kidding myself. How could he possibly be like me? Hell, I knew I'd never have the balls to approach him. It just wasn't me. On the football field I was bold, fearless, sometimes reckless, but this… this was something quite different. I had long ago cloaked the real me, hidden myself from the gaze of all others because I knew they would not understand. My teammates, my family, my friends, all of them perceived the me that I wanted them to see. To them, I was the outgoing, popular, friendly and much envied football stud. I knew that the real me was far more complicated. There were whole realms to me that few would have guessed. Even those closest to me had no idea of who I really was. That fact sometimes saddened me, but such secrecy was a necessary evil.

I was bold elsewhere, and with other things, but approaching Brian posed far too great a risk. There was a difference between courage and stupidity. One was not a coward for stepping out of the way of a speeding truck. Brian was quite likely that very kind of danger. He was certain destruction bearing down upon me, ready to run me over if I didn't have the sense to step out of the way.

I scrutinized him more thoroughly. I simply couldn't keep my eyes off him. it wasn't just that he was incredibly good looking, there was something more. I'd seen plenty of good-looking guys, but none of them was like him, not one of them made me feel the way he did.

He was exactly what I'd wanted all my life. In fact, I don't think I'd ever wanted anything quite so badly. I looked at him and it was as if nothing else mattered. Once I set my eyes upon him, I felt like I'd been waiting on him forever. I thought of going over to him to strike up a conversation.

No, the danger just wasn't worth it, especially considering that the boy who so took my breath away could never feel the same about me. On that path lay disappointment, pain, heartbreak, and things far worse. A deep sadness overcame me, like the loss of a near and dear friend. I was torturing myself with possibilities that had little chance of seeing the light of day.

I looked back at him and our eyes met once more. He looked away, but he was soon looking at me again. I felt drawn to him, as if we were supposed to meet. The feeling was so over powering that I knew that the moment our eyes locked marked a pivotal point in my life. From that moment, nothing would ever be the same again. I grew more excited than ever as I wondered what might lie ahead.

I started to turn away, but something called me back, like a voice in my mind guiding me. His eyes met mine and something flashed between us. I can't describe it, but I felt as if, somehow, he knew my very thoughts. It was as if he knew me better than I knew myself. We just looked at each other while my heart pounded in my chest.

He finished talking to a couple of the other guys and casually drew closer, seeking the same cloak of secrecy that I used to protect myself. He was far from obvious in his approach. In fact, I wasn't even sure that he was really coming to me. If he was interested in me, as I was in him, he had to be very careful. We were, after all, surrounded by several of our friends who would certainly not understand. One just does not make one's interest in another boy public, at least not in the homophobic world of Chouteau Kansas. He couldn't even be sure that I was interested in him, unless he really could read my mind. Or, was my interest in him that obvious? I hoped not. Such a display was fraught with danger. He moved closer, with the grace of a wolf, sleek, powerful, and silent. He nearly took my breath away.

I was terrified that Todd would see him approach me. I'd already seen him look over his shoulder a couple of times, trying to figure out who or what it was that had so captured my interest. Was I getting paranoid or what? To my relief, he wasn't even paying attention to me. He seemed to be focused on talking with some of the other guys from the team.

I didn't look directly at Brian, but I knew exactly where he was at every moment. My heart pounded even faster in my chest as he drew closer, and I felt my hands sweat. Even as he neared, I had my doubts. Just because he was coming over to me didn't mean he was looking for a boyfriend. What was I thinking? I closed my eyes, thinking about how stupid I'd been. In an instant I'd altered the likelihood of a relationship with him from an impossibility into a probability. I was setting myself up for a serious fall and perhaps a dangerous one. If I'd had any sense, I would have run.

Suddenly, I froze. He was at my side. His smile drove all thoughts from my mind. His eyes seemed to peer into my very soul.

"Hi, Scott," he said. "Remember me? I'm Brian."

His very voice made me weak in the knees. His smile took my breath away.

"Yeah, Mark's cousin, right?" I said. "I think we met earlier this summer."

I wanted to say something witty, but everything I could think of was just stupid, so I didn't say anything more. I just smiled, silently communicating what I couldn't say with words. I prayed that he wouldn't leave my side before I thought of something to say.

"Yeah," he said. "I live down around Welch."

"Okay, that's right," I said. "Nice to see you again."

Could I be any dumber? I asked myself. He probably thought I was a complete moron.

"Nice to see you, too," he said.

He was gorgeous. His face was so handsome, it was beautiful. His arched eyebrows, finely drawn features, and sparkling greenish-blue eyes captivated me. His hair was light blond and hung down slightly over his ears. He was slim, compact, firm, and no less than a dream. My heart raced standing so near him. His appearance, his voice, even his cologne intoxicated me. I felt myself drawn to him, more than that, I felt my soul drawn to him. I actually leaned toward him a little, my eyes on his lips. It was like one of those scenes in a movie where a couple leans in toward each other just before they kiss. As soon as I realized what I was doing, I averted my gaze and quickly drew back.

As beautiful as I found him, that beauty was the least of what attracted me. I felt as if he was the one I'd been waiting on forever. That feeling kept coming back to me, over and over; what if we were soul mates? How would I know? Was it even possible?

We kept talking about nothing in particular. Our conversation was halting, awkward. I had trouble concentrating on his words, and mine, but what we said didn't matter, so long as I could hear his voice. Little by little, the words came easier. Anyone near would have suspected nothing. We looked like all the other guys around us, but I knew I was in love. My body knew too; my breath came fast, my heart raced, and other parts of my anatomy were beginning to stir. The temperature felt like it was about fifty degrees hotter than normal.

My thoughts were racing along a dozen lines at once. I knew my mind, but was he on the same track? He was friendly, to be sure, but that didn't necessarily lead to what I had in mind. I wanted, no, needed, a boyfriend, someone to love, but could he be searching for the same? Was it even possible? Wasn't that just a little much to hope, a little too good to be true? If anything, he was probably searching for a friend, and nothing more. If so, why did he pick me out? My mind was reeling with a thousand thoughts, a thousand questions. I felt like there wasn't room for me inside my own head.

How could I be even remotely sure that he was thinking along the same lines as me? More likely than not, our thoughts were far, far apart. What was running through my mind would no doubt disgust him, repel him. I knew that what seemed so beautiful to me could be utterly repulsive to others. From where I stood, love was love, but I know that the cruel world did not see it so. Most of those around me wouldn't understand, what they didn't understand, they feared; what they feared, they sought to destroy. I was in danger.

His friendship was worth pursuing, but I needed more. The risk was staggering, however, all the more so because it could bring to an end a friendship before it even had a chance to begin. I was sure we could be great friends, even though we went to different schools. How could I risk such a valuable thing for something so uncertain, for a chance so slim? The danger was almost too great to even dare to think of taking the risk. What if he told his cousin Mark, and Mark in turn told the other guys on the team? I wouldn't last half a day after that. And what about Todd? I was still in love with my best friend, even though I knew nothing could ever come of it. Todd wasn't exactly gay friendly, as I'd witnessed a couple of weeks ago with Shannon.

I was so nervous I was practically shaking. My stomach was tying itself in knots. The thoughts running through my mind tormented me with wondrous possibilities and terrible consequences.

He seemed to be looking at me with more than casual interest. There was something about the way his eyes drifted over my body now and then. Even more, there was something about the way he gazed into my eyes, as if searching, searching. I was looking at him in the same way. It was as if both of us knew what we wanted, but neither of us could bring himself to take that first step. He seemed interested in me in a way no other boy had been before.

Still, I couldn't be all that sure. I wanted, needed someone to love so bad, I feared I might only be seeing what I wanted, instead of what was really there. I wanted to make contact, to discover the depths of this beautiful boy's interest, but the danger was beyond measure. What if I was wrong? What then?

The stakes were too high. Brian could be all that I had dreamed, or he could turn and destroy me. I was lonely, but my life wasn't so bad. I had friends. I had admirers. I had football. I was young, and strong, and popular. I had my entire life in front of me. How did I dare risk all that on such a long shot?

I couldn't trust my own perceptions, and I certainly wasn't thinking straight, so to speak. Brian's beautiful features and lithe young form were distracting to the point of madness. I was in such dire need for him to be what I wanted that I couldn't trust my senses. I was lonely, lonely in a crowd, and I desperately needed him to be the one. It was all too much. A terror fell upon me that frightened me to my very soul. I felt sick. I panicked.

"I've… I've gotta go," I stammered.

I didn't even wait for a response. I actually turned and bolted into the trees at the edge of the park. I could feel his eyes on me. I'm sure he wondered what the hell was going on. I wondered the same, I'd never ran from anything like that before. I felt like a coward, and still, I ran.

The sun was starting to go down, but the bright light of the moon almost made it seem like day. I kept running deeper into the woods, along the paths used by lovers at night, and the cross-country team during the day. I ran until my breath came in gasps and my heart threatened to explode in my chest, and I still ran. I ran from my fears. I ran until I couldn't run any more. I collapsed upon a small hill in the middle of a clearing. I lay on my back, panting, drawing great mouthfuls of oxygen into my lungs.

As my heart and breath gradually slowed, I stared up at the stars, so big and bright I felt like I could almost reach out and touch them. That was me; always reaching for the stars, always reaching for dreams that couldn't come true. A single tear rolled down my cheek, a tear of loneliness and isolation. Having what I wanted most in all the world dangled in front of me increased a hundred-fold the pain that was always with me. Brian was my dream come true, or at least he seemed to be. But how could I be sure? How could I take such a chance?

I wanted to be with him more than anything, but what would happen if something went wrong? What if he wasn't interested in me? What if he just called me a fag and told everyone what I'd said to him?

I thought back to something that had happened during seventh grade, back when I didn't even know that I was gay. Hell, I barely even knew what being gay was all about, even though as I look back I can kind of see in my mind where my thoughts were going, and they certainly weren't on girls, like all the other boys my age were starting to notice.

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