Pete loosened his tie. In his haste to leave the dance he had forgotten that he even had one on. Now, sitting in the darkness at the place he often ran to for refuge, he suddenly remembered that he had it on. After unbuttoning the top button of his shirt, he pulled the tie off and sat it down on the ground beside him.
Ties, he thought to himself. What's the point?
Leaning back and resting his palms against the cold ground, he suddenly remembered where he had gotten it. It was about a month ago, and he was at Tyler's house. Ever since that time that Pete helped Tyler score an "A" on that essay for Biology class, the two of them had become great friends. Tyler introduced Pete to everyone, and being Tyler's friend seemed to change everyone's attitude about him. Tyler was one of the more popular kids at school, so Pete found himself hanging around with everyone, from the teachers' pets to the football jocks. And for the first time since he had moved Pete was beginning to feel like everything was changing for the better. In fact, he found himself staying over after school to hang out with Tyler after football practice. The season was nearing the end, and it looked like the team would be heading for the playoffs because they had done so well during the entire season, losing only one game. So almost every evening after school the coach had the team drill every possible play in the hopes of bringing home the championship for the first time in the school's history. Naturally, Tyler had to be there.
So Pete would hang around after school and sit in the bleachers at the football field, watching the football players run plays until evening came. Then he and Tyler would usually walk over to one or the others house for dinner. In fact, Pete's mother had become accustomed to Pete being at Tyler's almost all of the time, and when Tyler was at Pete's he was treated like a member of the family.
One afternoon after football practice, Tyler asked Pete to walk over to his house with him and check out his new computer. "I'm not good with stuff like that," Tyler said, "and I might need some help with it."
"Sure," Pete said. "But I'm not a computer guru either you know." He smiled as he remembered getting the highest score in the computer class at school.
"Yeah, right," Tyler answered. "Like you're not." Tyler playfully slapped his hand against Pete's arm, and then grinned. Opening the latch to the gate around the football field, Tyler let both of them out, and then shut the gate behind him. "Come on," he said. "We don't have all night you know."
When they got to Tyler's house Pete noticed that both of his parents cars where gone.
"Where's everyone at?" he asked as Tyler reached under the mat for a key.
"I think mom is gone to some meeting, and you know dad. No telling when he'll be home." Tyler's dad was a contractor, and more often than not he was out of town supervising various jobs that he had going.
Tyler opened the door, and reached down to put the key back under the mat. The inside of Tyler's house was always neat, and the furniture was obviously not bought at a thrift store. Beautiful full-length mirrors hung on the wall behind dark brown tables and chairs. They walked through the living room to the stairs, and Pete followed Tyler up to his bedroom, a route he had taken many times in the last few weeks. Tyler walked in first, with Pete close behind.
Tyler's room was in stark contrast to the rest of the house. Neatness was not one of Tyler's priorities, and the evidence was everywhere. Yesterday's shirt was hanging off of the bedpost, and his video games filled the floor next to his bed. Posters of various sports heroes hung precariously on the walls, some of them very close to falling off. His bed appeared to not have been made up in many days, and the covers were flung towards the foot of it. Next to the far wall sat a desk, and on the desk was his new computer that his dad had shipped from one of his job sites. Pete always thought that Tyler's dad tried to make up for his lack of attention by buying Tyler all the latest gadgets. All season he had not been able to make a single football game and the computer was his way of making up for it. Tyler pretended to be appeased by it, but Pete knew that wasn't the case.
Tyler shut the door behind them and walked over to the bed. He sat down and kicked his shoes off towards the wall beside his bed, adding to the black marks already apparent there. Pete walked over to the desk and sat in the chair in front of the computer.
"You already got it hooked up?" Pete asked, as he looked the system over.
Tyler took off his socks, threw them in the same general location as his shoes, and lifted up his shirt to take it off. "Well," he said as his face disappeared behind the shirt, "I did my best." After removing his shirt he stood up and walked over to the desk and stood behind Pete.
Pete reached down and found the power button, pushed it in, and watched as nothing appeared on the screen.
"You see, I told you," Tyler said, laughing as he said it.
"Well I would have thought that you could have at least got the power connected." Pete grinned as he reached behind the computer and found the power plug. Leaning over he found the outlet on the wall and plugged it in. The computer made a roaring sound as the fan came on, and the screen flashed a message, indicating that it was booting up.
Tyler half-heartedly pushed Pete on the back. "Nope," he said, "that's what I have you for."
"Good thing I'm here then." Pete said as his fingers danced across the keyboard.
"Yeah," Tyler said. "I always knew I'd find a use for you somehow."
Pete looked up in the mirror on the wall behind the computer to see Tyler grinning from ear to ear. It was the way he always looked, and Pete could not remember too many times that Tyler wasn't grinning about something. He just always seemed to be in a good mood.
"Well," Tyler continued, "looks like you have everything under control here. I'm going to take a shower." He then turned around and headed for his bathroom.
Pete watched Tyler in the mirror as he walked towards the open bathroom door then walk inside. He could hear him open the towel closet inside the bathroom, take out a towel, and then he shut the towel closet door. He could just barely catch a glimpse of him as he leaned over the sink to take out his contacts. Isn't he going to shut the door, Pete thought to himself? Then Tyler's pants came flying out of the bathroom, landing on his bed beside two or three other pairs that had been there for the last two days. This was followed by the slamming of the bathroom door and then the sound of water running in the shower.
Surely Tyler didn't notice me staring at him, Pete thought to himself. Recovering himself somewhat, Pete tried to redirect his thoughts toward the computer screen in front of him, but his attention kept getting diverted back to the bathroom door, and sounds of Tyler obviously enjoying a long shower.
Visibly frustrated with himself, Pete got up from the desk and started to walk towards the bedroom door. If he was that way when Tyler went into the bathroom how would he be when he came out in only a towel, he thought to himself? Thinking that it would be better if he just weren't in the room when Tyler came out, he began to maneuver his way between the various objects on the floor, almost tripping on a video game as he neared the bedroom door. What a pig Tyler is, he uttered to himself.
He reached over to open the door but something on the dresser caught his attention. He reached over and picked it up. It was a tie, and it looked like it had never been worn. It still had the price tag on it, $19.95.
What in the world would Tyler be doing with a tie, Pete thought to himself? In all the time he had known him, he had never seen Tyler in anything except cut offs and a tee shirt, much less anything that would necessitate wearing at tie.
Pete looked closer at the tie. It was dark green with light green and silver stripes. It felt like silk, but he was sure that it wasn't real silk, not for $19.95 anyway. Pete was so deep in thought that he didn't hear Tyler come out of the bathroom and walk up behind him
"What you looking at?" Tyler said, peering over Pete's left shoulder. "Oh man! You found it," he said, seeing the tie in Pete's hand.
Pete turned around with the tie in his hand. Tyler stood in front of him with a very disappointed look on his face, dressed only in a towel. His hair was still dripping wet, and there were water beads all over him. Pete tried not to stare.
"Found what?" Pete asked. "What are you doing with a tie dude? You never wear them." He rubbed the soft material between his fingers as he spoke.
Ignoring the question, Tyler turned around and walked to his dresser. Opening one of the drawers, he removed a pair of shorts and a tee shirt, leaving the drawer open. He started to reach down and undo the knot that held the towel on him.
Pete almost panicked. Surely he's not going to drop his towel in front of me! He thought. He almost dropped the tie from his hands.
But instead Tyler turned around and walked back into the bathroom, taking his clothes with him.
Pete felt incredibly relieved. He wondered what had made Tyler change his mind, but it didn't matter now. His attention went back to the tie.
"So who's is this?" Pete said, loud enough so that Tyler could hear him.
A moment passed and then finally Tyler answered back from inside the bathroom, "It's yours."
"Mine?" Pete said, in a confused tone of voice.
Tyler walked out of the bathroom dressed in the cut offs and tee shirt, still combing his hair. "Yeah," he continued. "You weren't supposed to get it yet. It's for your birthday you know."
"My birthday?" Pete said.
"Yeah dude. Your mom told me." Tyler turned around and walked back into the bathroom.
Pete couldn't believe it. "But why a tie?" he said, having to speak over the sound of Tyler brushing his teeth.
Tyler's head appeared in the doorway, toothpaste running down his chin. "Because," he said, pausing in mid brush, "it's so you," emphasizing the word "so" for effect. Then he grinned and continued brushing, his head disappearing back into the bathroom.
Pete didn't know what to say. He just stood still, listening to the sound of water running from inside the bathroom. Finally, it got quiet, and Tyler came out of the bathroom wiping off his mouth with a towel. He flung it back into the bathroom where it landed somewhere on the floor.
"Don't you like it?" Tyler walked over and sat down on the corner of the bed facing Pete. "Your mom said that green was your favorite color."
"Well sure I do," Pete said, trying not to let his cracking voice give away how he felt. He was about to cry, and he knew it.
"Well, put it on then," Tyler leaned back on the bed, using his palms to support himself.
Pete took the tie and brought it around behind his head. He had tied many ties before, and it was no time before he had it perfectly wrapped around his neck.
Tyler pulled his hair out of his eyes, laying it over to the side. "There, a perfect Connecticut knot!" he said grinning.
Pete laughed as he adjusted the knot. "Yes, it 'tis," he said, exaggerating his northern accent. When he had it just right he looked up to see Tyler still reposed on his bed, lying almost on his back. Aware that his feelings were starting to head in the wrong direction, he quickly walked back over to the desk and looked in the mirror on the wall behind it. He smiled at himself as he admired the tie.
"You really like it?" Tyler asked as he got up off of the bed.
Pete thought for a second. Then he turned around and faced Tyler. "I think it's the best tie I have ever wore. Thanks," he said, his voice beginning to crack a little.
"Ah, you're not going to start crying on me are you?" Tyler asked half seriously. He was not too emotional about things. "Well," he simply added, "you're welcome. Happy early birthday." He started for the door, but then he turned around adding, "Just don't tell anyone who got it for you ok?" A big smile came to his face.
Pete laughed. "Ok, sure. Not a soul." Starting for the door he continued, "Especially Rick, Paul, and all of those other jocks on the team eh?" He came up behind Tyler and shoved him lightly.
"Yeah, especially them," Tyler laughed. "Now come on," he said heading down the stairs, "let's go get something to eat."
Pete followed a few steps behind. Suddenly Tyler started to race toward the stairs, calling back to Pete, "Come on, your tie looks hungry!"
Pete laughed as reached the staircase, and then both of them headed for the kitchen.
Pete reached down and picked up the tie that lay on the ground beside him. He rubbed the soft material between his fingers and smiled.Next Chapter Previous Chapter