by Victor Thomas

Chapter 6

"Hey, Scott," said someone from behind me as he tapped my shoulder.

I turned, just in time to get a fist in the face. I staggered backward, stunned. I was in the hallway at school, and everyone was watching. I looked at the boy who had slugged me. I barely even knew him. I felt a little trickle of blood running from the corner of my mouth.

"Well, pretty boy," he taunted. "You gonna do something about it, or are you just gonna take it like you take it from your faggot boyfriend? Huh?"

I didn't know what to do. If I hit him, I'd probably be the one who got in trouble. If I didn't hit him, he'd probably beat the shit out of me. He drew back his fist for another punch, and I braced myself for the inevitable.

"Hey, bitch!"

It was Mark. He came up behind Doug, the boy harassing me, and shoved him. Doug turned around and Mark decked him. Doug fell to the floor, clutching his face.

"Well, stupid fuck, you gonna do something about it, or are you just gonna take it like you take it from your daddy? Huh?"

Mark had obviously heard everything Doug had said. He was throwing it back in his face.

Doug got up and dusted himself off.

"Hey, dude," he protested. "I don't want any trouble. I was just…"

"I know what you were doing, fucker!" yelled Mark. He slammed Doug against the lockers. "If you ever so much as look cross eyed at Scott, I'll kick your pathetic little ass. You'll be dead meat, understand?"

Doug nodded, clearly terrified. Mark wasn't much bigger than him, but he had enough attitude to frighten anyone out of their wits. He looked like he was just itching to beat the crap out of that kid.

"Apologize," said Mark. "Now!"

"I'm sorry," said Doug, looking at me with fear in his eyes.

"The next time you want to fight someone, be a man about it. Stand face to face, not sneak up behind someone and hit them like a coward. Now get lost, loser!" he said, thumbing to his right.

Doug scrambled out of there as fast as he possibly could.

"What are you all looking at?" he yelled to the little crowd that had gathered.

They quickly dispersed. He turned back to me.

"You okay, Scott?" he asked quietly, looking at my face.

I nodded.

"Yeah. I think I just cut my lip a little. I'll be okay."

"Let's go get you cleaned up," he said, leading me to the restroom.

I washed up while he stood guard. I wasn't hurt bad. One of my teeth had just cut into my lip a little when I got punched in the face, but the bleeding had already stopped.

"Thanks for saving my ass," I said as I reached for a paper towel. "I don't know what I'd have done if you hadn't come along."

"Hey, that's what friends are for."

I stared at my face in the mirror.

"I feel like such a coward."


"You saw me," I said. "I didn't fight back. I didn't do anything. If you hadn't stopped him, he'd have probably punched me in the face again."

"Scott, you're no coward. If anyone is a coward, it's Doug. He's the one who snuck up behind you and punched you. You never had a chance."

I shook my head.

He affectionately put his hand on my shoulder.

"Listen, Scott," he said. "He had no business hitting you like that. Besides, you're a lover, not a fighter, right?"

We both laughed.

"At least Brian tells me you're a good lover," he said, arching his eyebrows.

I almost couldn't believe he said that, but it made me laugh.

"What else had he told you?"

"Oh, I get all the juicy details, big boy."

I stared at him a bit shocked.

"I'm kidding," he said, smiling.

I punched him in the shoulder and grinned.

Getting punched in the face really shook me up. For the rest of the day, I expected every guy who crossed my path to punch me. I knew it was open season on me. I was afraid of being beaten up. Getting slugged in the mouth really hurt, and I knew I might get it much, much worse. I was afraid to go anywhere, or do anything.

I wanted to crawl under a rock and hide. I'd never liked it when anyone was upset with me, or didn't like me. In grade school, when I thought some kid didn't like me, I worried about it, moped around, and got upset. That didn't happen very often, because I was popular and just about everyone liked me. Now, there were dozens of people that didn't like me, mainly guys. I couldn't take two steps in school without some boy glaring at me, or making fun of me. If I could make it from just one class to another without being called 'faggot' I considered myself lucky.

But they just kept at me and at me. Every minute of the day, I felt like I was under attack, and I guess I was. I often heard giggling behind me and I knew I was being mocked. And then there was the whispering. The boys were the ones that made fun of me, mostly, but both the boys and girls were always whispering when I was around. I knew they were talking about me. Everyone was always looking at me. I couldn't go anywhere without eyes peering at me, staring at me. I couldn't even go into the restroom to hide because I was afraid I'd get beaten up. I couldn't go into the restroom at all unless Mark, Ryan, or one of my other 'real' friends went with me as a bodyguard or I'd get hurt. It scared me.

I don't think I could have handled it if it wasn't for Brian. My parents were hell bent on keeping me from seeing him, which made me even more determined to be with him. He would meet me near my house every evening so we could be together.

He kept me going. I drew strength from just being with him. Knowing that he loved me helped me make it through the days and nights. Most nights we went to an old abandoned house in the woods on the other side of the river. Sometimes we made wild, passionate love that was so intense it was almost unbelievable. At other times we just lay in each other's arms. Making love with him was beautiful and wonderful, but just being with him was just as wonderous. I must admit that our lovemaking allowed me to release a lot of pent-up emotion and frustration, but there was nothing better than just curling up with him in a blanket, safe in his arms.

I wished I could take him home with me. Dad had calmed down considerably after his first violent outburst, but he was still unpleasant. He didn't hit me again, in fact he didn't even touch me, but he made it clear he didn't approve of me. He thought he was successful at keeping me from seeing Brian, and that seemed to appease him. Still, he warned me that I wasn't to breathe a word about being gay to any of his friends, or the family. I thought that was a little stupid. We were in a small town where everyone knew everyone else's business. Everyone had to already know I was gay. If I knew dad, he was probably playing down the whole thing, acting like it was nothing. He was probably explaining it as 'boys will be boys.'

I knew dad was really concerned about his reputation. He didn't want to be known as 'the guy with the gay son.' I was very much afraid that he'd order me to start dating a girl, just to keep up appearances. I didn't know what I'd do if he demanded that, and I was praying that he wouldn't think of it.

Mom was taking the whole thing a lot better than dad, but I knew even she was ashamed of me. They were wrong for feeling that way, but it still hurt. I knew I shouldn't let it get to me, but it did. I shouldn't have let the taunts, the name calling, or the abuse at school get to me either, but I couldn't help it. It did get to me. I felt like I had this incredible pressure bearing down on me, and it got worse every day. I didn't know how long I'd be able to stand it. Every time some boy called me 'faggot,' I felt like I'd been hit in the face. Every time some guy laughed at me or harassed me, it added to my pain. I prayed every day that the abuse would get easier to take, but it didn't. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. Every day after school, Mark, Ryan, or one of my few remaining friends would walk me home. I locked myself in my room and bawled. I felt weak for crying, but it was all just too much.

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