by Victor Thomas

Chapter 3

I awoke the next morning to a few moments of blissful ignorance. In the time it took my head to clear, I had momentarily forgotten the hellish nightmare that my life had become. But as soon as the remnant of sleep had been cleared away, the full weight of what had transpired, and what was to come, fell on me with it's crushing weight. I'd never wanted to stay in bed so desperately in all my life. I didn't see how I could possibly face my friends, if I still had any, my classmates, or my teammates.

I seriously considered just running away. I could go somewhere no one knew me, get a job, and… No, I knew that wasn't the answer, even as the thought entered my head. In that direction lay a bleak future; minimum wage jobs, poverty, living in a world of strangers, and only god knew what else. I was smart enough to know that the world is a cruel place, with no sympathy for those down on their luck. A seventeen-year-old boy couldn't make it on his own. Death would be a preferable option to the life I would have if I exiled myself from Chouteau. As bleak as it was, here was where my future lay, at least for the time being, until I was older.

Maybe I could go live with Brian, I thought. I dismissed that thought as soon as it entered my mind. His parents didn't know that he was gay, and he wanted to keep it that way. I didn't want to risk them finding out either. They would probably react the same way my parents had, and I didn't want to put him through that.

I forced myself to sit up on the edge of my bed. I just sat there in my boxers, lacking the will to get up and get ready. I stretched my arms over my head. I felt ridiculous. I had to go on. I stood and numbly forced myself to shower and dress for school.

God help me through this day, I silently prayed as I pulled on my clothes. I was going to need all the help I could get to make it through what was to come.

I wondered what Ms. Newman, the woman who threw such a fit about Mr. Clancy's 'pro-gay' poster, as she called it, would have to say about me. No doubt she'd blame it on that poster and argue that if only it had been taken down sooner, I wouldn't have turned gay. What a bitch! I wondered what Laura's mother would think after she learned that I was gay. I guess being outed solved the whole problem of her having the hots for me.

Laura! Fuck! With all that had been going on, I'd almost forgotten about her and Allison. Was there no end to this nightmare?

I entered the kitchen. Both my parents were there. Dad didn't speak to me, didn't even look at me. I'd been disowned. It cut me to the quick, and yet, it was just as well. He had betrayed me, exposed me to my entire football team, and ultimately, to the entire school. I had nothing to say to him, nothing, not then, not ever.

My mother was far from innocent, but at least she'd protected me and was probably the only reason I hadn't been kicked out of the house. As much as her lack of acceptance hurt, she had stood up for me in her own way. In time, maybe things would be okay between us. I was civil to her, but not too warm. The tension in our house was so thick it was practically a tangible, visible thing. No way could I eat a whole meal with them. I grabbed a piece of toast and walked out the door. I was beginning what would probably be the worst day of my life, assuming anything could possibly be worse than the day before. I half expected to be chased through the school by my classmates.

It started before I even walked into school; the stares, the looks, the whispering as I passed. I was undoubtedly the talk of the school. I was the freak show, the school fag. I could clearly sense the disapproval that I expected. I could read it in the eyes of many of those I passed, not that anyone met my gaze. Only a few of my classmates seemed able to look me in the eyes.

What I felt most of all was a sense of awkwardness and ill ease. That feeling was all around me and far more pronounced than the sense of disapproval. Most disapproved, but everyone seems to feel uncomfortable around me, everyone. When I passed by, it was like something unnatural had just slunk down the street. Conversations halted, boys tensed, and girls looked at me with confusion and curiosity. It was almost as if I was from another world. It was all subtle, but it was as real as if it had all been shouted at me.

The worst were those few who not only looked at me, but glared. Without exception, all of these were guys. I could read the hatred and contempt in their eyes. The moment I was outed, I became their enemy, even though I'd never done anything to harm them. I was the same guy I was before they knew I was gay, and yet everything was changed. Those who once admired me now looked on me with contempt. I'm sure not a few delighted in my fall. They couldn't wait to drive a stake through the vampire's heart.

I tried not to let it get to me, but it did. The stares, the silence, the disapproval, the sense of ill ease… all of it cut me to the quick. I fought hard not to let my feelings show. Truth be known, I was on the verge of breaking down. Now wouldn't that have been great? I could just imagine what the glaring boys would've had to say about the crying fag.

I didn't give them the satisfaction. I steeled myself against it all and walked into the school. If anything, it was even worse inside. The mix of emotions seemed magnified once they were confined within a smaller space. My classmates actually stepped back from me as I passed. Old friends pretended they didn't see me, or acknowledged my existence even less than they would that of a stranger. No one walked up to me. No one said 'hi'. The day before, I'd been a popular football jock; now I was the school fag. I caught a few satisfied smirks from those who reveled in what had happened to me, each ecstatic that my life was ruined. The world was a very cruel place.

I neared my locker. She was standing there! I expected a confrontation with Laura, and wasn't looking forward to it in the least. She was waiting for me with crossed arms, her expression hurt and angry. She was nearly in tears. She was one of the few that looked me in the eye, and I didn't care for what I saw there at all.

I faced her, walked toward her. I'd hurt her and I knew it. I didn't deserve to be hated for what I was, but I did deserve her wrath. I'd deceived her, used her. No matter how good of a time I tried to show her, no matter how well I treated her or what I bought her, it didn't matter what I'd done to her. I'd never meant for her to know. I'd never meant for others to know. But I'd known the risk was there, and I'd taken it without consulting her, without warning her of the danger. I'd committed her to my course as surely as I'd committed myself, and now she suffered for my mistake. Whatever she did to me, I deserved it.

I stood facing her. I wanted to tell her how sorry I was, how I never wanted to hurt her, but the words wouldn't come. No one stood near us, but a crowd was milling around, eager to watch the show. Her friends, our classmates, and so many more, it made it that much more difficult on us both.

"I'm sorry."

It was all I could force out, nothing else would come.

She slapped me hard across the face. The pain was intense, but I barely flinched. I deserved it.

"You bastard!" she hissed; her anger mixed with tears. "You bastard! How could you humiliate me like this? Did I mean anything to you at all? Or were you just playing me for a fool? Was it fun, Scott? Did you enjoy ruining my life? Did you find it funny, knowing I was dating a fag?"

Her words cut into me like a scalpel slicing up my flesh, cutting it's way to my heart.

"I never meant to hurt you, Laura," I said quietly.

"Never meant to hurt me!" She was practically screeching. "Never meant to hurt me! God help whoever you do intend to hurt! You made a fool out of me! You took advantage of me! What kind of monster are you? You pretended to date me when you had a boyfriend! What did you do, fuck him after you took me home? I never want to see you again!

She kneed me right in the nuts, as hard as she possibly could. I doubled over onto the floor. I was in agony. I squirmed on the floor moaning, putting on a show for all those around me. I'd never felt pain like that before.

I could feel everyone looking at me. I could feel Laura staring at me.

"I hope for your boyfriend's sake I didn't damage anything," she snorted and laughed derisively, then stomped away in a huff.

I pulled myself to my feet. No one offered to help me. I could barely stand. I gathered my books and limped toward class. Would my balls ever stop hurting? The physical pain cut through my emotional turmoil for a few minutes. My balls hurt too much for my mind to consider anything else. As I neared my first period class, a couple of my teammates slammed into me, knocking my books everywhere.

"Sorry, Princess," they mockingly called to me, "hope you didn't chip a nail."

They continued down the hallway with self-satisfied smirks and wicked laughter. I wanted to just lay into them, but I could barely walk. Even if I hadn't been so debilitated, taking on the two of them would've been suicide. In my present state, that didn't seem like such a bad idea. I fought to maintain control. I didn't know whether I wanted to shout in anger or cry. I did neither, but walked into class, sat down heavily, and attempted to ignore the icy atmosphere.

Even in the classroom I felt my classmates looking at me. There was no escape from all those eyes. I'd shocked everyone. No one suspected for even a moment that I was gay. The truth blindsided them. They all followed the stereotypes and never dreamed that a jock could be queer. They stared at me in disbelief. Even Mr. Higgins was gazing at me with the now familiar curious, shocked look. Like most, he tried to conceal his efforts to watch me, but he couldn't help but stare at me. I felt like I was in a traffic accident or something.

Everyone looked at me like I was some kind of freak. I couldn't evade detection or escape from prying eyes. I felt like I was living my life under a microscope. Was this what it was going to be like from now on? Was this what my life had become? An overpowering desire to crawl under a rock and hide seeped into my very bones. I felt like screaming at everyone to quite staring at me, but more attention wasn't what I needed. It was a nightmare!

I was about to snap. I just couldn't take it. The effort of maintaining control was becoming too much. I finally did snap. I'd held on for over an hour, but then I couldn't bear it anymore. I was walking down the hallway between first and second period, trying to block out everything around me, when Randy had to open his big mouth.

"How's it going, fag boy?" he taunted.

I couldn't take it. I lost control. I turned and smashed him in the mouth. He fell to the floor. I reached down and grabbed him by his shirt. I was going to pull him to his feet and beat the shit out of him. Someone grabbed me from behind, but I shook them off.

"Hold it right there Mr. McCall."

I froze. It was Mr. McCoy, the principal. I turned and faced him.

"Did you hear what he called me?" I cried.

By the look on his face, I could tell he didn't care.

"Did you?" I repeated.

He ignored my question.

"Come with me, young man!"

He grabbed me by the collar and dragged me to his office. I noticed a lot of my classmates smirking. They thought it was funny as hell.

He dropped me into a chair and looked at me with stern disapproval.

"Did you hear what he called me?" I repeated. "He called me 'fag boy'."

"Listen, son," he said in his stern voice. "You've chosen your lifestyle and now you're just going to have to deal with it. If you do the things you've obviously been doing, you're going to have to expect to be ridiculed for it."

I couldn't believe he said that.

"But…" I began.

He held up his hand to silence me.

"I don't want to hear it, Mr. McCall. I'm giving you three weeks detention."

"Three weeks! That's not fair. He called me 'fag boy'! What about him? I…"

"Enough!" he snapped. "One more word and I'll have you expelled."

He practically shoved me out of his office. I thought people who went into teaching liked kids and cared about their problems and troubles. Apparently, that didn't apply to little faggots like me. He treated me like a piece of garbage he was dumping on the curb. I was mad as hell. I got punished for defending myself, and he didn't do a damn thing to Randy. He acted like I deserved being treated like a piece of shit, like it was all my doing. Detention sucked. It meant being stuck in school for three hours on Saturday. Fuck that! I just wouldn't go!

At lunch, no one sat by me, no one. They treated me like a leper, all of them! I felt betrayed. Didn't even one of my friends have the balls to at least sit with me? Had they all forsaken me? I looked around for Brendan and Robert, but they weren't even there. It was the first time I could remember that I didn't see them at lunch. Todd and Mark were conspicuous by their absence as well. I saw most of my other 'friends' but they avoided me like the plague. I sat there all alone, feeling like the loneliest boy in the entire world. It was humiliating to sit there all by myself. Everyone knew why I was being ostracized. I felt them looking at me, even when I closed my eyes. Some of them were even pointing, pointing at the school faggot.

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