by Victor Thomas

Chapter 4

Today had been the worst day of my life, I thought as I walked toward my locker after lunch. Everyone was staring at me. Boys were harassing me and calling me names. I'd had my books knocked out of my arms three times already. I had to fight from crying. Sometimes I lost the fight and tears streamed down my face. I wanted to hide in a stall in the restroom, but I knew I'd get my ass kicked if I went in there.

As I was getting my books for my afternoon classes, I heard some girls giggling at the other side of the hallway. I soon discovered what it was all about. Me!

"So, Laura, did Scott teach you how to give head?" laughed one girl. "I hear he's really good at it. Just ask any of the guys. He's probably done all of them."

"Get away from me!" yelled Laura.

She wasn't laughing. I could tell by the tone of her voice that she was angry and hurt.

"Hey, Laura, did you hear the rumor that Scott got his boyfriend pregnant? Or was it the other way around?"

There was more giggling, and laughing. Poor Laura. She was going through hell, and it was all because of me. I leaned my head against my locker. I desperately wanted to die on the spot. I'd done this to her.

I wanted to run and hide, but I just couldn't leave her to the wolves. I'd wronged her. I'd used and humiliated her. I forced myself to walk over to where the girls were making fun of her, and me.

"Well, here she is" said one of them, laughing.

Laura looked at me. She'd been crying. Her eyes were all red and her face puffy.

"Let her alone," I said. "This isn't her fault. She didn't know. I lied to her. I'm the queer, not her. Just leave her the fuck alone."

The girls stopped laughing and left.

Just as they did so, Ashton smashed into me. I didn't even know he was coming, but he slammed me up against the lockers. My head struck hard against the metal doors, sending a loud clang down the hallway. I cried out in pain despite myself.

"Don't even think of showing up to practice, fag!" he hissed. "We don't want you leering at us in the locker room and showers." He snarled at me, then spit in my face. "Faggot!"

He pushed me even more tightly up against the lockers and snarled at me.

"I always knew you were a fag. What did that kid do to you to turn you queer? Huh? You were cool before you met him. Now you're a dirty pillow biter, just like him."

With that, he punched me once in the stomach, shoved me down to the floor, and stormed away. I wiped the spit from my face and looked up at Laura. We just looked at each other sadly for a few moments. I'd hurt her, but I still cared for her.

"I'm sorry… I…"

"Not here," she said.

She helped me up and led me outside. When we were out of earshot of everyone, she turned to me. Her eyes were accusing, and worse, filled with hurt.

"I loved you," she said, choking back the tears.

I closed my eyes for a moment. The pain that fell on me was far worse than any I'd experienced that day. Tears were streaming from my eyes when I opened them again and looked at her. I couldn't make myself speak.

I loved you, Scotty," she wailed." "I loved you with all my heart! I thought you loved me, too. How could you do this to me, Scott? How could you play this… this sick game with me? When I think of you with that other boy…"

She shuddered, as if the very thought sickened her

"I'm… I'm sorry," I said.

I was crying so hard I could barely get the words out. I couldn't stand the pain I'd caused her. I couldn't stand knowing that I'd broken her heart. I wanted to reach out and hug her, but I knew she hated me now.

"Is that all you can say, Scott?" she spat.

"I… I… I'm so sorry, Laura. Listen, I know it was wrong, but I had to do something to hide. You see what it's like. You saw Ashton. That's what my life's like now. That's what I was trying to avoid!"

"So, that makes using me okay? I thought you were a lot nicer than that, Scott."

I shook my head.

"No. no, it doesn't make it okay. I'm so sorry, Laura. Listen, if it means anything now, I did care for you. I still do. But I'm gay! I love Brian. It's all so confusing. I'm so fucked up!"

She looked at me with pain in her eyes. I knew I'd hurt her worse than anyone had ever hurt her.

"I don't know if I can trust you, Scott," she said softly. "I just don't know. Everything between us had been a lie. You lied to me. You used me."

I took a step toward her.

"It wasn't all a lie. Please, Laura, believe me when I tell you that I cared for you. I still do! Please…"

"You broke my heart," she said.

She turned and walked away from me, never looking back. I just stood there and sobbed. I felt like my heart was broken, too.

After walking nearly a mile from the school, I stood outside the locker room, summoning the courage to walk in. I'd bolted the day before, but I'd be damned if I'd let the coach and a few others keep me from playing football. I think walking into that locker room was one of the hardest things I'd ever had to do. I didn't know what would await me inside. I'd been nervous about it all day, well that's not quite true. I'd been through so much during the day that the nervousness about what would happen at practice was often driven from my mind.

I steeled myself for what was to come. I prepared myself to ignore the taunts and verbal abuse. My muscles tensed. If need be, I was ready to fight to stay. If worse came to worse, I was ready to fight my way back out and escape. I took a deep breath. I knew it was very likely that I'd get my ass kicked when I entered the locker room.

I stepped through the door, feeling like a convicted criminal stepping up to the gallows. Every conversation stopped and all eyes turned to me as I entered. I could feel the coach stare at me as I passed, boring holes into the back of my head. He didn't say anything to me. He just stared. A few of my teammates backed off as I passed, and all of them were looking at me. A couple of them were naked and hurried to pull on their uniforms. Guys were quickly dressing all around me, or were afraid to undress. That made my heart ache. I bit my lip and opened my locker. I kept my mind on changing my clothes, trying to block out those around me. After a moment, my teammates turned back to what they were doing, but they were still watching me. A few were glaring at me, but most of them were trying to act as if nothing was out of the ordinary. They weren't very successful.

I could feel how ill at ease most of them were with me in the room. I guess I couldn't really blame them. To be honest, checking out all the naked and half naked guys in the locker room was a secret pleasure of mine. Well, I guess not so secret anymore, but before I was exposed, it was an arousing thrill. I could enjoy the scenery and none the wiser.

But I didn't dare check out any of the guys now. I couldn't so much as look at them, not so much because I was afraid of being belted in the mouth, but because I didn't want to make them any more uncomfortable than they already were. It hurt to think that my teammates didn't trust me. Maybe I deserved that a little. I'd checked out their young bodies now and then, but I hadn't really done anything wrong. All I did was look.

I was tying my shoes when Mark and Ryan walked up to me. I felt myself tense as they neared. I was afraid. They stood there for a moment and I looked up. I wasn't sure what to expect. Mark was one of my best friends and I was close to Ryan, too. But that didn't mean anything, not anymore. Things like this turned friends into enemies. Todd was a perfect example. He had been my best friend, but now he wouldn't even acknowledge me. My whole world was filled with uncertainty. I felt like there was nothing, and no one, I could depend on, except Brian.

"I'm glad you came back, Scott," said Mark, a little louder than normal. "I'm sorry some guys have to be so judgmental."

He glanced around the room pointedly.

"Yeah," said Ryan. "We won't stand a chance against the Trojans this Friday without you."

"Thanks," I said, with more genuine feeling than I'd ever felt before.

They were the only two who'd given me any kind of support the entire day. Even my best friend, Todd, was nowhere to be seen when it came to me. Those guys didn't know what it meant to me to have someone just talk to me like I wasn't a freak. The mood in the locker room seemed to ease just a bit; some small fraction of the tension was gone. Things were far from normal, but my two friends had built a bridge that would help us all cross unfamiliar territory. I was relieved to know that I still had a couple of friends. I was beginning to think all of them had forsaken me. Any friend that stood by my side now was a friend indeed.

As much as I appreciated their support, I couldn't help but think how much it would have helped me if they'd been supporting me earlier. But I guess they both needed some time to sort through their feelings. I know it was a big shock for them. I was just so glad that they were on my side now.

As difficult as all this was for me to deal with, I knew that it had to be hard on my teammates as well. How were you supposed to react when you discovered that someone you thought you knew was something totally unexpected? Well, maybe not totally unexpected, but close enough.

A few of the guys still looked at me with open disapproval and disgust, but it seemed that most would at least let me be, and a rare few would even accept me as I was. I began to get a glimmer of hope. Things were going to be hard, very hard, but maybe not so impossible as I originally feared.

As those thoughts were running through my mind, Ashton glared at me. The look on his face was one of pure hatred and contempt. Little more than a day before, I thought he had been my friend, and a good one at that. Now he showed himself to be a bitter enemy, a vampire hunter. I was astonished at how quickly things had taken a turn for the worse.

I hated the way some of the guys, including Todd, were staring at me. I couldn't stand the condemnation. My position wouldn't be helped by me getting into another fight, so I swallowed my anger and focused on getting ready for practice.

Practice was tough, both physically and mentally. I didn't mind the physical part; it helped me to concentrate on football instead of my situation. The mental part was far more difficult. Despite the open acceptance of a few, and the neutrality of others, there were still many of my teammates that just didn't want me there. I could read it in their eyes and their expressions.

The worst of them weren't subtle at all. I was tripped and knocked on my ass repeatedly. Getting hit wasn't unusual during practice, but when it happened over and over, it was obvious that it was no accident. Every time it happened, I heard a lot of things murmured under the breath as well, 'fairy', 'faggot', 'queer', 'sissy', and all the rest. I tried not to let it get to me, but it did. Teammates were supposed to stick together, but as far as some of the guys were concerned, I wasn't worthy of being on the team anymore. They acted like I wasn't even there. It was all getting to be too much.

After practice was even worse. When I walked into the showers, most of the guys in there beat a hasty retreat. Only Brendan and a few others stayed. I could tell Mark and Ryan were making a point of staying. They stood right there, naked, water and soap dripping off their youthful bodies, as if to say, 'we know you're gay, but you're still our friend and we trust you'. I loved them for that.

I showered quickly and got out of there. Most of the guys wouldn't go into the showers until I had left. The most militant of my teammates, like Ashton, wouldn't even undress as long as I was in the locker room. That made me feel distinctly unwanted and unwelcome. The guys who were pulling that crap didn't care. They wanted me to feel like an outcast. That's how they thought of me, and they wanted me off the team. If treating me like shit would do the job, then that was fine by them. I was thankful that most of my teammates weren't so cruel or homophobic. I genuinely appreciated the handful that stood by me. I just wished that Todd had been one of them, but he completely avoided me whenever possible and hadn't said one word to me since everything started.

I didn't want to go home, but I had nowhere else to go. I was afraid to walk around too much by myself. I'd been knocked around enough during the day to know I'd likely get my ass kicked if the wrong guy found me alone. I didn't have much choice, however. My parents had taken the keys to my car, so I was forced to walk to and from school and practice.

As soon as I stepped out of the locker room, I could hear some of my teammates yelling at each other back inside. My few supporters were chewing out the homophobes and getting ragged on for it. I really appreciated those few guys standing up for me. I knew it wasn't easy, but it showed me who my real friends were.

I started walking away when Ashton and a couple of his friends walked out of the locker room. They stared at me, then whispered to each other and laughed, making it obvious they were laughing at my expense. Randy bent over in front of Ashton and Ashton acted like he was doing him. The guys thought that was funny as hell. I looked him right in the eyes across the short distance between us, without blinking. I wanted to kick his ass.

"Hey, Scott, why don't you come and suck this?" Ashton said, as he hefted his bulge. "I hear you fags are good at that."

I started to go for him, but held back. There's too many of them and only one of me. I wouldn't stand a chance. Mark and Ryan walked out just then. They hadn't heard what Ashton had said, but he didn't dare say anything else with them there.

I got plenty of looks as I walked away from the football field. Mostly it was just curious gazes. Everyone at school seemed so shocked to find out that I was gay. I guess I didn't fit the stereotype that they'd built up in their heads. Gay guys were supposed to be effeminate, soft spoken, and meek. I sure as hell didn't fit that description! I was a jock, loud, athletic, and wild, at least on the football field. I guess I kind of just upset everyone's notions of what gay guys were like. Tough shit! They'd just have to learn that there were all types of gay guys, just like there were all types of guys.

Some of the looks were filled with hatred and contempt. I'd always hidden what I was because I knew there were such feelings out there, but actually experiencing the prejudice and animosity was an overwhelming experience. It's one thing to hear about stuff like that. It's quite another to be on the receiving end. It was hard to believe that some people actually hated me, even people I had never talked to and who barely knew me.

I was about two blocks from the football field when I hears someone shout, "faggot." A bottle just missed me and busted on the sidewalk, sending glass flying everywhere. I turned my head to see a car whiz by, filled with high school guys I didn't recognize. One in the back flipped me off and yelled, "die you fucking queer!"

I tried to ignore them as I walked down the sidewalk, and did my best to just ignore the people on the street who looked at me questioningly. Never before had I realized the value of being able to walk out in public unknown and unmolested. I guessed those days were over for good.

I rubbed my cheek and thought about what might await me at home. My dad probably wouldn't hit me again, but I still hated being there. I kept walking toward home, wishing this nightmare was all just a terrible dream and that I'd wake up to find all my troubles gone. It's funny; my life before being outed was far from perfect. I was so lonely before I met Brian, and there were so many problems to handle when we started dating. But looking back, those times seemed like a golden age.

I was about halfway home when I heard a car horn honk. I looked up and saw that it was Brian coming toward me. He pulled over and I walked over.

"Didn't you drive today?" he asked.

"No car. My parents took my keys. They think it'll keep me from seeing you."


I looked him straight in the eyes.

"Nothing will keep me from seeing you, Brian. Nothing."

"And no one will keep me away from you," he said quietly.

That little exchange made me feel better. I already knew we were both determined to stick together, but having it spoke out loud gave that determination strength.

"Get in," he said. "Let's go somewhere we can be alone. I've missed you so much."

"I've missed you as well," I said as I climbed into his car and he took off, headed away from my house.

I looked down at my trembling hands. I hadn't realized it, but I was shaking. I was afraid of what my life had become. All day I'd tensed up when anyone drew near. It was the worst around guys, because I knew at any second one of them could pop me in the face. I just knew I'd get my ass kicked. The only question was when. It made me feel like a coward, but I had to admit, I really was afraid of getting beat up. I didn't think I could handle it.

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