“Dude, would you hurry up? I don’t want to walk home, not after all those wind-sprints.”
“Relax, Sean,” said Jamie from deep inside his locker. “Robin’s all talk. Mom would kick his ass if he left us behind.”
“Uh, are you sure about that?”
Jamie paused for a moment as if thinking about the question before answering, “I’ll hurry.”
“What are we doing here anyway?”
“I need my history book. Ewww, that’s rotten,” Jamie grimaced as he dropped a brown paper bag on the floor.
“You never bring your books home, why start now?” I teased.
“Kale, is that you? I hear you,” Jamie teased back. “I need it because Elise Maxwell wrote her number on it.”
“Why didn’t you just put it in your phone?”
“In Mr. Bruno’s class?”
“Oh, right, ‘I see a cell phone in my class, it’s mine,’” I said, mocking our history teacher’s gruff voice.
“Exactly,” Jamie giggled.
“Anyway, how did your book get lost so fast? You just threw it in there before lunch,” I reminded him.
“Um, take a look,” said Jamie, as he continued digging.
“We’ll, it’s cleaner than your side of our room,” I commented as I looked over his shoulder.
“Hey, my side of the room just looks messy because the shit I used to spread everywhere is all piled up on my half now…Got it!” Jamie exclaimed when he found his book.
“Finally, can we go home?”
“Yeah, we’re outta here,” said Jamie as he closed his locker and grabbed the garbage he’d dropped on the tile floor.
“It’s only the second week of school, how did your locker get so nasty so fast?” I asked as we headed for the parking lot.
“I think it’s multiplying,” Jamie giggled.
I shook my head at my practically twin brother and smiled at the difference between us. Jamie and I have so much in common that it’s the differences that intrigue me most. One prime example is I’m neat and orderly and he’s kind of a slob.
It was getting late; football practice ended at 4:30, the same time as Robin and Lucien’s swimming practice. Robin had to be waiting at the car to drive us all home and I wouldn’t put it past him to leave us behind to teach us, well, to teach Jamie, a lesson. It seemed like we were always late, mostly because Jamie is a social butterfly and always has one more friend he needs to talk to before we can leave or one last girl he wants to flirt with. It would be annoying if it wasn’t so effective, girls love Jamie. One of the fringe benefits of being his almost twin brother is girls think he’s cute and those who want someone with his looks but a milder personality are fertile territory for me.
“Hi, Sean, hi, Jamie. Bye, Sean, bye, Jamie,” said Teddy Granger as he jogged past us down the hall without stopping.
“Bye, Teddy,” we replied in unison.
“Looks like someone’s in a hurry,” said Jamie, shrugging his shoulders.
“You mean like we should be?” I nudged Jamie with my shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Jamie mumbled.
We rounded the corner and found a solitary figure leaning against his locker. He was tall, probably 5’10” with a muscular build and sandy blond hair. His face was hidden by his arm which also muffled what sounded like crying. Given the time of day and the fact our practice had just broken up I was pretty sure I knew who he was.
“Sup, Trent?” said Jamie.
“Oh, uh, hey guys,” said Trent Davis as he stood up straight and quickly wiped his eyes. “I didn’t think anyone was still here.”
“We didn’t either,” said Jamie. “But we ran into Teddy around the corner. He must have been trying to catch the late bus; he was in a real hurry.”
“Yeah, it’s getting late,” said Trent. “What are you guy’s doing here?”
“Forgot my history book,” said Jamie, holding up the tome. “Elise wrote her number in it so…”
“I get it,” Trent smiled then sniffled.
“Are you alright, Trent?” I asked.
“What, this?” he gestured to his blood-shot green eyes. “It’s nothing. They must have mowed the practice field today; it always sets off my allergies.”
“Ok,” I replied. It sounded like an excuse and I thought my first instinct had been correct, that he’d been crying.
“We better get going,” said Jamie. “Our brother’s waiting for us and if we’re too late he’ll get his panties in a twist.”
“Ok, good practice today,” said Trent. He fist bumped each of us and we went our separate ways.
“Finally,” Robin exclaimed as we exited the building and found him leaning against his blue VW Golf.
“I figured we’d give you and Lu time to make out in the back of his van,” Jamie grinned.
“Not a bad idea,” said Robin, contemplatively. “But he says it’s not a motel. Well, not on school nights anyway.”
“TMI Robbie,” Jamie grimaced.
“So why are you guys late this time?”
“Guess,” I nodded at Jamie.
“Oh brother,” Robin rolled his eyes. “What’s this one’s name?”
“Elise Maxwell,” said Jamie, dreamily.
“This week’s love of your life, huh?” Robin teased as we climbed into the car.
“You’re just jealous,” said Jamie.
“Right, I’m jealous,” Robin grinned. “Oh wait, no, I have a boyfriend and have actually had sex with someone besides myself.”
“Hey, at least sex with myself is sex with someone I love,” Jamie grinned.
Robin rolled his eyes but when our eyes met in the rearview mirror he winked at me. I normally joined in the playful banter on the ride home but right then I couldn’t get Trent off of my mind. What would make a guy like that hang out in the halls after school crying against his locker? Trent was our freshman quarterback. Not only was he a talented athlete, he was a good looking guy who sent the girls into fits of bashful giggling when he walked by. What could a guy like that have to be upset about?
Trent was still on my mind when we went to bed that night. I’d stripped and climbed under the covers then propped my hands behind my head and stared at the ceiling while Jamie finished brushing his teeth. I didn’t know why I was so concerned about Trent; I mean I didn’t know him well. Maybe I’m just one of those guys that doesn’t like to see someone in pain, or maybe it was the mystery of the thing.
I heard Jamie come in and the distinct sounds of someone stripping off clothes followed by the protest of his box spring when he flopped down on the bed.
“Sean, are you ok?” said Jamie.
“Yeah, why?” I asked as I rolled over to face him. He was sitting Indian style in his Jockey’s, his elbows rested on his knees, and his hands were folded in his lap. His face was a mask of concern.
“You’ve been quiet tonight. I thought maybe you got some bad news when you talked to your mom tonight. Is she ok?”
“She’s as ok as she can be but I’m going to lose her Jamie, it’s inevitable,” I sighed. “But I’m not as worried about it as I was before. I mean I don’t want it to happen, obviously, but at least now that I’m here, and you’re all so great, I don’t have to worry about what’s going to happen to me after.”
“Sean, you know if you ever need anything I’ll be there for you, right?”
“Dude, I’ve known that since my first night here,” I smiled.
“Ok,” Jamie nodded.
“Seriously Jamie, I want you to know that coming here and getting to be your brother has been the silver lining in all of this. I love you man,” I said sincerely.
“Ok, Ok, you don’t have to emote all over me,” said Jamie blushing and looking away. “But I love you too.”
“Thanks.” I grinned at his discomfort. For all of his bravado, Jamie’s pretty shy when it comes to emotional things.
“Anyway, if that’s not bothering you, what is?”
“Trent? Our quarterback, Trent?” Jamie asked quizzically.
“Something was wrong with him when we saw him after practice,” I stated.
“Well yeah, he said his allergies were bothering him.”
“Yeah, he said that but I think he was crying,” I explained.
“What would he be crying about?” asked Jamie with a raised eyebrow.
“That’s the part I can’t figure out.”
“Maybe he…” Jamie started but was interrupted by a knock at the door.
“You guy’s decent,” asked Robin as he stuck his head in.
“Close enough,” said Jamie.
“I just wanted to remind you guys that me and Lucien have a swim meet in Binghamton tomorrow and you’ll have to get a ride after practice,” said Robin.
“I’ll text Scotty,” said Jamie as he reached for his phone, and as I looked at Robin it hit me.
Before we ran into Trent we’d run into Teddy Granger. Teddy had been coming from Trent’s direction and had probably just seen him, then we ran into Trent and he was hiding his face and crying. Could what we’d just seen been the tears of unrequited love?
“Robin, Rob, Robbie.” I smiled sweetly at my big brother.
“I don’t like that look.” Robin grinned. “It means I’m about to get hit up for something.”
“Nothing big. Are you and Lu doing anything on Saturday?”
“Actually, no. Hamster’s meeting Derek’s family and spending some time with them so Lucien and I figured we’d check out a movie or something. What’s up?” asked Robin.
“Would you guys maybe take us and a couple of friends to that open air mall in Binghamton?”
Jamie shot me a questioning look but I ignored it for the moment.
“Aren’t you visiting your mom Saturday?” asked Robin.
“Normally I would be but she’s got a friend that’s going to visit, an old professor from law school, and I don’t like her much. Dad’s going to take me Sunday after church instead,” I explained.
“Why don’t you like her?” Jamie asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Ugh, she pinches my cheeks,” I grumbled.
“Awww, that’s so cute,” said Robin and he and Jamie laughed.
“So how about it?” I brought them back to the subject at hand.
“Yeah, that’s fine. Lucien and I love that place,” said Robin.
“Thanks, Robbie.” I smiled brightly.
“No problem.” He smiled back. “Night guys.”
Robin turned out the light and shut the door. Jamie slipped under his covers and once he was comfortable said, “Um, what’s going on?”
“I think Trent might be gay.”
“Are you sure about this?” Jamie asked as we walked into school the next morning.
“No and that’s the point. I want to see how they act together and how they react to Robin and Lu, then I’ll have a better idea of the situation,” I explained.
After I explained my reasoning for thinking Trent was gay the night before, Jamie told me he thought I was nuts. He was right, I didn’t have much to go on but that was the whole point of the trip to the mall, to observe and deduce.
“And what if they are gay, what business of it is ours?” asked Jamie reasonably.
“In the normal course of events it wouldn’t be any of our business but Trent was crying in that hall last night and if we can help him then we owe it to him to try,” I explained.
“You’re a real softy, you know that?” Jamie grinned.
“You don’t think we should help someone who is suffering?” I shot back.
“No, you’re right. If we can help we should,” Jamie agreed.
“So you’ll talk to Teddy?”
“I’m on it,” said Jamie. We fist bumped and he headed for homeroom. “See you in class.”
I took a roundabout route to homeroom and just as I’d planned I found Trent grabbing books from his locker.
“Hey Trent, how’s it going?”
“Oh, hey Sean,” Trent smiled. “I’m great. Where’s your evil twin?”
“Probably offering free physicals to cheerleaders again,” I grinned.
“That guy.” Trent laughed and shook his head. “He’s got more balls than anyone I know.”
“That’s Jamie,” I agreed. “So listen, I was wondering if you had any plans this Saturday?”
“Not really, what’s up?”
“Me and Jamie are going to that open air mall in Binghamton with our brother, I thought I’d see if you wanted to come.”
“I don’t know, the mall isn’t really my scene…” Trent hesitated.
“Teddy Granger’s going to come, too,” I added and watched Trent’s face light up.
“Well, if three of my receivers are going to be hanging out it wouldn’t hurt to come along,” Trent smiled.
“Awesome,” I smiled back. “Text me your address and we’ll pick you up about eleven.”
“Great,” said Trent as he pulled out his phone.
“See you at practice,” I replied. I had to hurry to homeroom before the bell sounded. I slid into my seat just in time.
“How did it go?” asked Jamie.
“He’s in. How about your end?”
“Found Teddy at his locker, he jumped on it, said he can’t wait,” said Jamie.
“So why do you look so disappointed?” I asked, puzzled.
“I didn’t get to use any of my charm to persuade him.”
“That just leaves more for the ladies, big guy.” I rolled my eyes and patted his shoulder.
Lucien came home with Robin after their swim meet Friday and ended up spending the night. The next morning we stopped by his house so he could grab some clean clothes and then we went to pick up our friends. Trent was waiting on his front porch and came trotting over with a big smile on his face.
It looked like he’d put some effort into his appearance that morning. He was wearing a white Hollister t-shirt with khaki shorts, white Nike Elite socks and navy blue Converse low-tops. His hair was combed and gelled which was different; usually his hair was flat. That was a lesson I’d learned when I’d started playing football -jock boys don’t put product in their hair. Those that do regret it by the end of practice when they’re sweating like a whore in church and it’s all melted and has run into their eyes.
“I’ve seen this thing at school and always wanted to ride in it,” said Trent as he climbed into the back of Lu’s bus.
“Wow, usually Lucien has to keep candy in the glove compartment to get young boys into this van,” Robin teased.
“He’s not that kind of bus,” Lu retorted as he slapped Robin’s shoulder.
“Ouch, that smarts,” Robin protested.
“That’ll teach you to be mean to my guy,” Lu smiled.
“He’s the Shag’n Wagon,” Robin explained to Trent, giggling.
“You’re so cute,” Lu smiled and kissed Robin on the cheek.
“I think I’m gonna puke,” Jamie made wretching noises.
“Wanna walk?” said Lu.
“No, I just didn’t think we’d be riding around in your sex leavings,” Jamie teased.
“Hey, we use condoms on this bus,” Lu protested. “I don’t want pecker tracks on my seats. You know how much it cost to reupholster that shit?”
“You guys are going to embarrass Trent,” I laughed.
“Nah, it’s ok. I wouldn’t want pecker tracks on my seats either,” Trent giggled.
“Trent, this is my brother Robin and his lover…” Jamie started and Robin reached back and slapped him in the shoulder.
“Ouch, fuck that does sting,” Jamie rubbed his shoulder. “I mean this is his boyfriend, Lucien Kutsenko.”
“Nice to meet you guys, thanks for taking me with you,” Trent smiled.
“Glad you could make it Trent,” said Robin.
“Yeah, the more the merrier,” Lu agreed.
Sanitaria Springs being a small town, by the time we got the introductions out of the way we were pulling up in front of Teddy’s place. Lu put the bus in park and honked the horn, and Teddy stepped out just as Jamie opened the sliding door for him. Teddy’s mom followed him as far as the front step. He kissed her on the cheek and then I watched him sign, “I love you, see you later,” and his mom reply with, “be good and have fun.”
I had no idea Mrs. Granger was deaf. She’d brought snacks and Gatorade for the team after practice a couple of times but I’d never had a chance to talk to her. It was always a polite, “Thanks Mrs. Granger,” before running off to be with the guys.
“Hey guys,” said Teddy as he hopped aboard the bus.
“Hey,” I replied and then signed, “I didn’t know your mom was deaf.”
Teddy looked momentarily stunned then smiled and signed, “Yeah, she was born that way.”
“Um, what are you guys doing?” asked Jamie. It was only then I noticed everyone was staring at us.
“Oh, I was just telling Sean my mom was born deaf,” Teddy explained.
“I didn’t know you could sign, Sean,” said Robin.
“Yeah,” I blushed.
“There’s a story there,” said Robin as he watched my reaction. “Come on, give.”
“Ok, so, well, I had a crush on this deaf girl named Mindy Callaway all through 7th grade,” I replied.
“And?” said Trent, prompting me to continue.
“And so I took an American Sign Language class that summer. I thought when we started 8th grade and I could sign with her, I don’t know, she’d think it was cute.” I blushed deeper.
“That is cute,” Lu exclaimed.
“Yeah, what happened?” Robin agreed.
“It was all for nothing,” I sighed. “She moved that summer and I never saw her again.”
“Dude, what a bummer,” said Jamie.
“It wasn’t for nothing though,” said Teddy. “Now that I know you can sign we can talk about these guys behind their backs right in front of them.”
I grinned at Teddy then Jamie started talking about our last game and everyone started bringing up their favorite plays. I noticed that Teddy was dressed nicely too. He wore a green V neck t-shirt, navy blue shorts and leather flip flops. His hair wasn’t what you’d consider long but it was the longest in our little group and it blew down on his forehead when his bangs caught the wind. I noticed Trent watching him every time Teddy brushed the hair away.
When we got to the mall I was a little worried that Robin and Lucien would ditch us. I mean most guys don’t want their little brother’s hanging around when they could be spending time with their boyfriend. Fortunately Robin and Lu are pretty cool and were actually having fun with us rather than just driving us around. Keeping them with the group was important to my plan because I wanted to see how Trent and Teddy reacted to their relationship. So far so good.
We wandered the mall for an hour just checking out the cool shops then started talking about food. It was a little early for lunch. As it turned out we’d all eaten a late breakfast, but when Jamie mentioned there was a bakery that had the world’s best cookies, we were sold, despite Lu’s protests.
“Why don’t you like the bakery, Lu?” I asked as we headed towards the food court.
“The cookies are fine,” Lu grumbled.
“But…” I pressed.
“He’s afraid the waiter is going to steal me away,” Robin swooned then giggled.
“Shut up,” Lu blushed and shoved him.
“Why would…” I started.
“Oh, some goober slipped me his number with my cookie once. Good thing it was before wrestling because The Beast here might have body slammed him,” Robin patted Lu on the back.
“He’d have had it coming,” said Lu.
“My jealous cat,” Robin giggled, put his arm around Lu’s shoulder and kissed him on the cheek. “Look, that guy’s not even there today.”
“No, worse,” Lu exclaimed. “Isn’t that the girl that offered to…”
“Yeah, that’s Cathy,” Robin laughed as the girl behind the counter spotted us through the window. The shop was pretty much empty and she wiped her hands on her apron then came out to great us.
“Oh great,” Robin rolled his eyes then put on a smile as she opened the door. “Hi Cathy…”
But she totally ignored him. Cathy walked right past him and put her hand on Jamie’s shoulder. Jamie was blushing six shades of red and looking down at his feet. That was totally out of character for him. Usually when girls fussed over him he put on his Cheshire Cat grin and ate the attention up with a spoon.
“Hi Jamie, how are you, sweetie?” Cathy bubbled.
“Um, hi,” said Jamie to his Nikes.
“I haven’t seen you in ages, where have you been hiding?”
“I uh, you know, school and stuff.”
“What are you doing here?”
“We, uh, came to get some cookies.”
“Well, you just wait right here, I have just the thing for you.” Cathy smiled, nodded at the rest of us and disappeared back into the shop.
“So can we just go?” asked Jamie.
“What the hell was that all about?” asked Robin. “She’s in my class, how do you know her?”
“You know, from the club.”
“Uh huh, there’s something you’re leaving out,” said Robin. “Give!”
Jamie rolled his eyes and let out a sigh, “Ok, so uh, last summer before school started, Cathy, she uh, gave me a blow job in the supply closet.”
“Shut up!” I exclaimed. Lucien started laughing and Robin face palmed. “She’s pretty, that’s the kind of thing I’d figure you’d be psyched about.”
“I was!” said Jaime, exasperated. “Until school started and I found her number all over the boy’s bathroom!”
“Wait,” Teddy raised an eyebrow, “that’s the Hoover?”
Everyone laughed again and then Robin grabbed Jamie by the earlobe.
“Ouch, Robbie,” Jamie whined.
“Don’t you Robbie me little mister. What have I told you about poking your pecker in sorry trash bins?” asked Robin as he dragged Jamie away. “We’ll be back in a minute guys.”
“What was that all about?” said Trent.
“Cathy “The Hoover” Peterson has a bad reputation,” Lu explained. “Robin said she offered to blow him, the Hamster says she cornered him once too. Robin said she tried it with Kale but he shot her one of those looks of his and she walked away without saying a word.”
We were all in tears with laughter and I made a mental note to give Jamie hell about this when we got home. He wasn’t going to live this down easily. Robin had taken Jamie far enough away that we couldn’t hear what was being said but from the looks of it Jamie was getting a serious butt chewing. The funny part was Jamie didn’t seem to be fighting back which was out of character for him. He stood there with his arms crossed over his chest, looking down at his feet and taking what Robin dished out.
When our laughing subsided we began to feel bad for Jamie, I mean this had to be embarrassing. We changed our mind on the cookies and high tailed it out of there before the Hoover came back. Jamie was a little more subdued when he rejoined us but we managed to salvage the rest of the afternoon. We spent our time trying on goofy hats and sunglasses in one shop, then raiding the coolest candy store I’d ever been in before returning home. I kept a close eye on Trent and Teddy taking notice of the furtive glances they gave each other when they thought no one was looking. We dropped them off at home in time for dinner and I was sure they were both into each other but each of them was so obsessed with the other that they couldn’t see their desires reflected.
When we got home Robin and I went into the family room to say hello to Dad and Evelyn but Jamie went straight up to our room. When I joined him there a moment later I found him lying on his back, staring at the ceiling.
“Dude, I can’t believe you and that girl,” I teased as I sat on my bed.
“Believe it,” Jamie sighed.
“When did it even happen? Where was I?”
“Labor Day Weekend, remember how we were all supposed to go to the end-of-summer party at the country club? You ended up staying overnight at the hospice center so you could have some extra time with your mom?” Jamie began.
“Yeah, that was only about a month ago.”
“Yeah, anyway, it was that night.”
“Why didn’t you tell me about it?” I asked curiously.
“Sean, I’m surprised I have to tell you, you’re normally so perceptive, but, I’m ashamed of it,” said Jamie.
“But why? I mean I know you said you found out later she was kind of, well, slutty, but still, you got your dick sucked and by a junior!”
“Because,” Jamie sighed, “it wasn’t special.”
“But…” I started. Now I was really confused. Jamie hit on almost everything that moved and some of the things he says to me about girls, well, it’s enough to curl your toes.
“I was dancing with her, right?” Jamie started.
“Yeah, okay.” I nodded.
“She whispered in my ear that she wanted to suck my cock and I was excited. I was totally in the moment and followed her to that supply closet but when we got in there, she didn’t kiss me or anything she just dropped to her knees, pulled my pants down and sucked me. It felt good while it was happening but when it was over, you know what happened?”
“Uh uh,” I shook my head.
“She wiped her mouth said “Thanks sweetie,” and then left me there with my dick hanging out of my Jockey’s.”
“Ok,” I snickered, not sure where this was going.
“I stood there and thought, God, what a slut.”
“Well yeah, that was a total slut thing to do,” I agreed.
“Not her, I mean yes, that was slutty on her part but I was talking about me,” Jamie sighed.
“I don’t understand.”
“Don’t you see? I never told you or Scotty or any of my friends about it because I felt like a slut. There wasn’t anything romantic or special about it, there wasn’t any love. I took what should be one of the most memorable moments in my life and just gave it away. I didn’t want my friends congratulating me or fist bumping me for it.”
I sat there for a moment in a state of complete surprise. I had no idea Jamie felt like that. I thought I was a pretty perceptive guy but my own brother who I spend probably 20 hours a day with hid a romantic behind his bluster and I never saw it.
“I can’t believe it, you’re a romantic?”
“Sean, I talk a lot of shit, I know that,” Jamie admitted. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be in love.”
“But you flirt with so many girls…”
“Yeah and one day I’ll stop because one of them is going to be the right one and I won’t have to look anymore.”
“Wow, Jamie, I’m sorry. I had no idea you felt like that. I just figured you were like every other guy in 9th grade –you know, horny.”
“Duh, I am horny,” Jamie laughed. “That’s what got me into this mess with the Hoover but I regret it now and the next time I do anything like that it’s going to be with someone I care about.”
“Jesus, its creepy sometimes, how much we’re alike,” I shook my head. “You sound just like me.”
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Jamie grinned.
“Thanks,” I blushed.
“So, aside from finding out about my little er, what did Robin call it? Oh yeah, pickle tickle, did today solve anything for you?”
“Yeap, I’m sure Trent and Teddy are gay,” I smiled.
“Ok, I spent the day with them too and I still don’t see it. What am I missing?” asked Jamie.
“You just have to watch them closely,” I explained. “Some of it was pretty subtle. Like I noticed that they went out of their way to avoid touching each other as if any innocent gesture might give away their secret. Then there were the constant stolen glances. Then there was the overt stuff.”
“Ok, again, what? I didn’t notice anything overt.”
“Well, both of them happened after Robin scolded you and you were probably pouting.” I winked.
“A little.” Jamie rolled his eyes.
“Anyway, Trent stretched and his t-shirt came up a little bit. Teddy was biting his bottom lip and his eyes were glued to Trent’s belly button. A few minutes later Teddy bent over to pick up a piece of trash and Trent kept nervously licking his lips, guess where his eyes were glued,” I grinned.
“Ok, admittedly they were checking each other out but is that so weird? Haven’t you checked out another guy?” asked Jamie.
“Sure, you, Robin and Kale,” I laughed.
“What?” Jamie exclaimed.
“When I first got here I was shocked by how much I look like you guys, especially you. I studied all of you for comparison.”
“Weirdo,” Jamie laughed. “I just mean, we’re on the same team, maybe it was a jock thing, you know, sizing up another athlete?”
“I get what you’re saying but this wasn’t that. I’ve done what you’re talking about but never with a look on my face that screams ‘God, I wanna fuck him.’ Can’t say the same for our friends,” I grinned.
“Ok,” Jamie chuckled. “So they like each other, what now? We just tell them?”
“No, Jamie, oh God, no! They’d be so embarrassed. We want to help them, not hurt their feelings.”
“But why would that hurt their feelings? We don’t care they’re gay,” said Jamie with a puzzled expression.
“Because, they care. For whatever reason neither of them is out yet. I don’t know what that’s like, dealing with coming out, maybe we can ask Robin but Trent and Teddy, maybe they’re scared or something.”
“So what’s the point of…”
“The point of all this is to get them to come out to each other. They don’t have to be out to be together and maybe being together will help them to come out if that’s what they want,” I explained.
“Ok, I get it. That’s pretty smart. How do we help them?”
“We need to keep putting them together. They need to realize that they’re looking at each other through the same lens.”
“Cool, so what next?”
“Let’s have a sleepover after next week’s game,” I suggested.
“Yeah, I like it,” Jamie agreed.
When we got to school on Monday morning Jamie and I once again broke off in search of Trent and Teddy. I found Trent at his locker again and he flashed me a huge smile when I walked up.
“Hey, Sean!” said Trent with a fist bump.
“Hi, Trent, how’s it going?”
“Great. Hey, I wanted to say thanks again for inviting me on Saturday. I had so much fun,” Trent bubbled.
“Yeah, I’m glad you could make it. You and Teddy really seemed to hit it off.”
“Teddy’s cool,” Trent blushed. I smiled to myself; Trent’s reaction felt like confirmation to me.
“Anyway, Jamie and I had such a good time with you guys we wanted to invite you to sleepover after the game Friday.”
“Oh, that could be fun. I’ll have to check with my mom but it shouldn’t be a problem,” said Trent.
“Great, just let me know before Thursday.” I smiled and headed for homeroom.
“So?” said Jamie when I took my seat next to him a few minutes later.
“He’s in,” I grinned.
“Ha, Teddy too. He jumped at it,” said Jamie.
“These guys are making it too easy. You should have seen how red Trent got when I told him I thought he and Teddy hit it off.”
“I can’t believe I’m saying this about two guys but they’re kinda cute together,” Jamie admitted. “I mean the way they act around each other, it’s sweet really.”
“Ya big softy,” I teased.
“Shut up.” Jamie laughed and slugged me in the arm.
Typically freshman football games are played on Thursday so that the JV and Varsity teams, the teams people actually pay to watch, can have the stadium on Friday night. This week was different. Our first game of the season had to be rescheduled because a freak rainstorm the night before the game flooded the host team’s field. The drainage system hadn’t worked and as much fun as playing in the mud would have been the league didn’t want a bunch of kids with broken ankles. The game was rescheduled for three weeks later on a Friday night when our varsity team was away.
It was a rivalry game with the Cougars and they proved to be tough competitors. Jamie sprained his ankle in the third quarter, Scotty and I got tossed around by linemen who looked more like giants than freshmen and Trent got sacked more times than the Hoover. The only one of us who had a decent night was Teddy who scored our team’s one and only touchdown late in the fourth quarter thanks to an amazing bit of blocking by Jamie’s pal, Jason Riley.
I’m glad Jamie and Jason were able to salvage a friendship out of their disastrous first meeting in summer training. Jason’s a really nice kid and still apologizes for punching me every time I see him no matter how many times I forgive him. I’m also glad he’s on our side, he’s not great at catching receivers when he’s on defense but I sure feel safe when he’s blocking for me. The kid is massive!
The atmosphere in the locker room was subdued after our 37-7 defeat. Coach Buchanan was still with us, even though the school district wasn’t paying him, and he tried to cheer us up by saying we’d fought hard but the Cougar’s had a good night. He said we had nothing to be ashamed of, sometimes you can give it your best and still lose. It’s the nature of competition. That didn’t exactly cheer everyone up but it helped us to shrug off the loss.
After the coaches’ pep talk we shrugged out of our pads and soiled uniforms and took quick showers. Jamie, Trent, Teddy and I put on t-shirts and basketball shorts and then found our parents waiting for us in the parking lot. Jamie had to put his arm around my shoulder and hop to the car. The team trainer said his ankle would be fine in a couple of days and tried to put him on crutches but Jamie, stubborn to the end, insisted he didn’t need them. I didn’t mind; I like being close to Jamie.
Dad and Evelyn offered to take us all out for pizza but we were so tired from our battering we just wanted to go home, throw a DVD on in the basement and kick back. Oh, but we’d take that pizza to go.
“I’m really proud of you boys,” said Dad. We were waiting in the parking lot in Dad’s SUV while Evelyn was inside getting our food to go.
“For what?” said Jamie. “We got our butt’s handed to us.”
“But you didn’t give up. The Cougars may have won tonight but you guys have more heart. Everyone on your team gave a hundred percent and the crowd took notice of it,” Dad explained. “Jaime when you sprained that ankle you didn’t just drop the ball and quit. I could see you were hurt but you still tried for the touchdown.”
“Well, yeah,” Jamie admitted.
“And Sean, you didn’t let those linemen push you around…” he started.
“Um, Dad, they pushed me all over the field.”
“What I mean son,” said Dad, “is you didn’t let them get in your head. You tried your best on every play. That goes for all of you boys. Trent, you got right back up every time they knocked you down and Teddy, that touchdown was a thing of beauty.”
“Thanks, Judge Kirkwood,” said Trent with an embarrassed smile.
“Yeah, thank you,” Teddy agreed.
“Ah, finally!” Jamie smiled as Evelyn emerged from the restaurant with four pizzas and a couple liters of soda.
Jamie tried to get out and help his mom but I didn’t want him to trip because of his ankle so I pushed him back in his seat. Trent and I hopped out to give Evelyn a hand with the food. When we got home we took three pizzas and a liter of soda down to the basement.
“Piggyback ride,” Jamie shouted and jumped on Trent’s back.
“What are you doing?” Trent laughed.
“I can’t go down the stairs on this ankle, aren’t you gonna help?” Jamie giggled.
“Ok, this one time I give you a piggyback ride,” Trent conceded.
“Giddy up, boy,” Jamie hooted and gave Trent a playful squeeze with his knees. Trent shook his head and then headed down the stairs. Teddy and I laughed and followed.
Trent leaned Jamie against the wall while I spread a blanket out on the floor then brought the food over. Jamie hopped over to the TV and put on a movie then got comfortable on the floor with us. We forgot to grab cups and plates but we had plenty of paper towels so we skipped the plates and passed the bottle of soda around like a bunch of winos with a bottle of Old Grand Dad.
“So, homecoming’s next week,” said Trent. “You guys have dates for the dance?”
It was quiet for a moment then Jamie spoke up, “I asked Elise after school today. She said she’d go with me.”
“That’s cool, she’s pretty,” I congratulated him.
“The Hoover won’t get jealous, will she?” asked Teddy. Jamie turned beat red. We all started laughing, Jamie gave us the finger and we just laughed harder until Jamie whacked Trent with a pillow.
The fight was on, we beat the crap out of each other in the pillow fight of the century until Jamie moved at a weird angle and yelped.
“You alright?” I asked.
“Yeah, stupid ankle,” Jamie grumbled.
“Here, let me help you,” said Teddy. He pulled Jamie’s foot into his lap and began to massage the ankle. “Me and my brother run track in the fall, we’re always having to do this for each other.”
“That feels really good,” Jamie cooed.
“Yeah, you’ve just gotta work the muscles,” said Teddy.
“So anyway, what about the rest of you guys?” said Jamie. “Do you have dates?”
“Krissy asked me if I wanted to go with her but I said no,” Trent blushed.
“Why, she’s cute,” said Jamie.
“I don’t know, I don’t really dance.”
“You don’t have to dance, you could just hang out,” I pushed, wondering what other excuse Trent might offer.
“I could but I wouldn’t want to give her the wrong idea. Krissy’s really nice but I don’t like her like that,” Trent explained.
“Anyone you have your eye on?” I asked.
“No, uh, not really,” Trent blushed as his eyes darted at Teddy. “What about you, Sean?”
“I really like Ally Marcus but I don’t know if she’d go with me.” Now it was my turn to blush and look away from my friends.
“I could talk to her for you,” Jamie offered.
“NO! God no, not that,” I teased.
“Ok, how about this?” said Jamie. “Ally’s good friends with Elise, what if Elise talked to her for you?”
“That could work,” I admitted.
“Done, I’ll text her in the morning,” Jamie smiled. “Now we just need to find girls for Trent and Teddy.”
“That’s ok,” Trent chuckled nervously.
“Not me,” said Teddy, then he let out a deep breath. “I’m gay.”
“Wow, really?” I feigned surprise as if I hadn’t already figured him out.
“I wasn’t planning to tell anyone but I’ve been hanging out with you guys and your brother, I figured you’d be cool with it,” said Teddy.
“I don’t have a problem, do you Jamie?” I asked.
“Nope, nothing wrong with being gay. Don’t you think, Trent?” said Jamie.
“No uh, I don’t mind, it’s cool,” Trent spluttered nervously.
“And don’t worry, we’ll keep it a secret if that’s what you want,” I offered.
“I did at first but I think that was just nerves. I’ve been watching how people at school react to your brother and his friends, everyone loves those guys. No one cares they’re gay so I doubt anyone is going to care about me,” Teddy explained.
“That’s cool, Teddy,” I smiled. “You should tell Robin that, he’d be so happy to know he helped make you feel comfortable enough to be yourself.”
“Maybe,” Teddy smiled.
After Teddy’s admission, things settled into the usual sleepover routine. We finished watching our movie and played some video games but exhausted from our football game, we conked out earlier than usual, even if it was well after midnight. I got up a few hours later to use the bathroom and smiled when I found Trent snuggled up close to Teddy. I kept expecting Trent to admit he was gay too after Teddy kicked the door open for him but it didn’t happen. I was still sure Trent liked Teddy but I didn’t know what more I could do to help him along.
The week passed by quickly. We had our game Thursday night and everyone was looking forward to the homecoming dance after the varsity game on Friday. Thanks to some tactful texting between Elise and Jamie, I found myself asking Ally to the dance on Monday morning and to my great pleasure she said yes. I was so excited about my pending date that I lost sight of my plan to help Trent for a few days.
Our game was a blow out. We rebounded from the beating we took at the hands of the Cougars and crushed the Bears. Jamie scored two touchdowns, Teddy got one and to my astonishment I scored the final touchdown of the game for a 28-0 route. We were celebrating with our team in the locker room when I noticed there were a couple of people missing.
“Hey, have you seen Trent and Teddy?” I asked Jamie.
“They were with us when we were coming off the field,” said Jamie.
“They aren’t here now,” I informed him. “You don’t think anything happened to them, do you?”
“What could have possibly happened to them?”
“I don’t know, maybe they ran into some angry Bears who might like to beat up the quarterback that just kicked their ass,” I pondered.
“Shit, we better got look for them,” said Jamie.
While the rest of the guys headed for the showers, Jamie and I put on our t-shirts and gym shorts then went to find our friends. We walked back to the field and spotted a few friends but everyone we spoke to said they hadn’t seen Trent or Teddy since the game ended. I was really starting to get worried until we looked behind the field house and found a remarkable sight. Teddy was kneeling before Trent and holding the game ball out to him like an engagement ring.
“So what do you say, Trent, will you be my date for the homecoming dance?” asked Teddy.
Trent put his fingers to his lips, shocked at first, then a bright smile filled his face and he nodded emphatically, “I will, yes, I’d like that.”
“Great,” Teddy smiled and rose to his feet. He put his hands on Trent’s hips, leaned forward and gave him a nervous peck on the cheek.
Trent giggled then put his arms around Teddy’s neck and hugged him tight.
“Thank you, thanks for having the courage to ask me. I wanted to tell you, it’s just every time I started I couldn’t get the words out,” Trent began.
“It’s okay,” said Teddy. “I thought you liked me and I took a chance.”
They hugged again and Jamie whispered, “That was really sweet.”
“Yeah,” I smiled and put my arm around Jamie’s shoulder then turned him away. “Let’s give them their privacy.”