Tyler's Dance

Chapter 5

By Bryan Centers

Hours had passed since Pete had first came to the clearing. In his mind he had rehearsed various moments and events that stood out to him, times that seemed to make him feel better inside whenever he thought back to what had happened earlier that evening. Walking over from the palm tree that he had carved on earlier in the year, Pete went over to the bank and stood almost at the very edge of it, as close as he dared to as dark as it was. He could see a faint reflection in the still water below, a face that was lit only by the light produced by a paling moon as it headed down the horizon.

"I'm hungry", he said to his face in the water. Walking back over toward where he had been sitting earlier he remembered the last time he had eaten, and how that it was there that the whole mess had gotten started.

Lunchtime at high school can sometimes be an adventurous occasion. Several hundred students, all with a limited amount of time to eat, combined with accommodations that are scarcely designed for half of them, much less all of them at once, make things get out of hand. Added to this was the fact that this was Friday, and the last football game of a very successful season. Excitement hung heavily in the air, and everywhere the students could be seen speculating on the outcome of that night's game. There was also to be dance afterwards, and hopefully a victory one.

The teachers certainly had their hands full on this afternoon, trying to maintain some semblance of order. The voices and laughing from the students combined to produce one loud level of noise, and it made hearing each other talk all that much harder. So naturally everyone talked louder to get over the din, thus making the growing roar almost unconquerable.

"Where do you want to sit?" Tyler almost had to yell to Pete, despite the fact the he was only a couple of feet from him in line. Pete surveyed the room, then, finding a place, he motioned over towards it with his plate.

"How about over there?" he said, trying to be heard.

"Cool," Tyler answered, as he fell in behind Pete. It was a corner table with at least three or four empty seats, at the far end of the lunchroom next to the back door. The two maneuvered their way through the crowd and tables, with Tyler saying hi to most everyone he passed, as usual. Pete, as was usual for him, only acknowledged a couple of people as they walked towards the back of the building. Finally they reached their destination, and after setting down their plates and books, both boys pulled out their chairs and sat down at the table. It was quieter in the back corner, and that was ok with Pete. He hated crowds anyway, much less loud ones.

"Man, everybody sure is hyper today," Pete said as he grabbed his glass of tea. After taking a drink, he opened his journal and started to scribble something down in it.

Tyler opened his carton of milk. "Yeah," he said in between gulps, "it's because of the game tonight. Everybody's all geared up about it." Noticing that Pete was writing he continued. "What are you writing now?"

Pete didn't answer, but instead kept on writing. When he had finished he closed the notebook, placed his other books on top of it, and reached for his fork. "Inspiration never waits," he said, grinning. "So how do you think it will go tonight?" Pete asked, in between hurried bites.

Tyler didn't answer at first. He was too busy gnawing on a piece of fried chicken to be bothered. Finally, after several successful bites, he answered. "Don't know. I mean, I guess we'll do like we always do."

"Win, you mean?" Pete asked coyly, grinning just enough to let Tyler know he was not serious.

"Well of course that's what I meant, silly boy!" Tyler jibed back. "Did you think it was possible for anything else to happen?" He smiled broadly, and then added, "Hey, you going to eat that piece of cake?"

Before Pete could answer Tyler had already skewered it with his fork, and was moving it over to his own plate. "Well, not now!" Pete said half seriously.

"Good," Tyler said as he shoved half of it into his mouth. "You didn't need it anyway." It soon disappeared, and was quickly followed by the other half.

"Neither do you," someone said from behind Tyler. It was Kurt, followed by a couple of other guys from the football team. "You keep eating like that and we'll lose tonight for sure dude."

"Oh hey dude," Tyler turned his head around as Kurt sat down in the chair to his right. "Nah, got to keep my energy up right?"

"Well, I can't keep winning every game by myself you know," Kurt countered. Pete noticed that he had that same smile, the one that made him wonder what Kurt was really thinking. Kurt looked across the table at Pete. "Oh, hey Pete," he said, like it was an afterthought, or something he had to do.

"Hey," Pete answered curtly.

Kurt didn't hear, because he was already talking to Tyler. "Some of us are getting together after the game. You got any plans?"

Tyler looked across the table at Pete. It didn't take a genius to see that it was something Pete definitely was not interested in doing. "I don't know yet," he said. "Probably not, but who knows?"

Kurt's friends were getting impatient. "Come on Kurt," the taller one said, while pushing on Kurt's shoulder, "let's go!"

Suddenly, from the other side of the room, there was a scuffling sound, loud enough to be heard even over the ruckus of the crowd. A group of people had gathered into a semi-circle, and there was clearly something going on in the midst of it. Kurt turned around and looked toward the far wall of the lunchroom. "It's a fight!" he said, laughing.

Tyler stood up and tried to see, but it was too far for him to make out. "Who is it Kurt?" he asked.

Pete was already standing. "It's that Myers kid from second period, I think," he answered before Kurt could answer.

"Oh yeah," Tyler said. "The new kid. Funny how the new ones always have to get into fights." After thinking for a moment he added, "Well," he said, looking at Pete, "not all of them I guess."

"Let's go check it out," Kurt said, sounding like he was looking forward to it.

"Well, I don't." Pete started to protest, but Tyler was already standing up. "Ah come on," Tyler said.

"Well, all right then," Pete said, standing up from the table.

"I'll be there in a sec guys," Pete heard Kurt say as they headed for the commotion on the other side of the room.

A huge crowd had developed by now, and it was clear that there was something happening in the midst of it. As Pete got closer he could see two boys on the floor, with one of them practically lying on top of the other one, pounding his face with his fists. The one on the bottom was not giving up yet though, because he pushed the boy off of him and immediately swung him down onto the floor where had been. With that accomplished, he commenced attacking his face with his clenched fists, one punch landing him squarely in the nose, causing a fountain of blood to erupt from it. A great part of it landed on the attacking boy's shirt.

Pete squeezed in as close as he could. "Who is that other guy?" he asked Tyler, who was squirming in beside him.

"Looks like Adam," Tyler answered, still trying to get a good look.

Just then Mr. Spokes, the principal, followed by several of the male teachers, broke through the crowd. He was a tall man, about six and half feet, and he had no trouble at all grabbing one of the boys and lifting him up off of the floor. Mr. Flaskins, the head football coach, grabbed the other.

"Just what in the.." Mr. Flaskins caught himself in mid sentence. Looking around he continued, ". world is going on here!"

The boy actually dangled about three inches of off the floor, as the coach Shook him by the back of his shirt. Some of the crowd snickered at the sight.

"All right folks, back to what you were doing," the principal ordered. He and the coach led the two boys away through the crowd, as everyone started to disperse.

Pete and Tyler turned around, and almost bumped into Kurt, who was standing right behind them. He had that same smile on his face again. "Who won?" he asked, looking over at Tyler.

"I don't think either of them did," Tyler answered, laughing. "You should have seen their faces."

"Pretty bad huh?" Kurt asked, almost gleefully. In his book there was nothing like a good fight with lots of blood. "Besides," he added, "that Myers kid probably deserved it anyway."

"Why do you think that?" Tyler asked as they headed back to their table.

"Haven't you heard?" Kurt continued, walking alongside Tyler, "the kids a fag man! Everybody knows it. He was probably trying to get his hand somewhere Adam didn't want him to." Kurt took great pleasure in recounting the possible scenario that had caused the fight, and he grinned as he spoke.

Pete almost froze in his step, but quickly recovered himself.

"Nah, that's just rumors Kurt," Tyler said as he reached down for his plate that was still half full of food. "You know how that is."

"Well," Kurt continued, "all I know is that one of guys was telling me how that he overheard one of the teachers talking about how he had been kicked out of his last school because he was caught doing something in the bathroom with another guy." His usual sardonic grin was suddenly replaced with a smirk. "Disgusting, isn't it?" he added.

"We're going to be late for class," Tyler said. "Come on Pete." Heading away from the table, he turned and said to Kurt, "See you at the field house."

Pete tried to look normal, but inside he was shaking. Kurt's comments had hit him hard. He reached down, picked up his books, and headed around the table. "Hold up," he said to Tyler.

"Yeah," Kurt answered. "See you at the field house." After a pause he added, "See you later too, Pete." Pete stopped and turned around. There was something about his tone, and he hardly ever told Pete anything but `hello'. "Yeah, sure thing." Pete managed to say. "See you then."

Kurt smiled as he watched Pete go through the double doors behind Tyler. "Yeah, I'll see you later all right," he said, just loud enough for himself to hear.

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