Great. Just fucking great. Like I didn't have enough cosmic jokes played on me already and now this? I sat in my sixth period class, just one more to go before my school day ended, and watched the adorable new guy, Derek Pellegrini, as he gave his new boyfriend, Austin Hamilton, looks he thought no one else saw.
I hadn't even known Austin was available – but if I had, I'd have been sending him love notes a long time ago. Come to think of that, Derek too. But no, the joke was on me again. As the bell rang I took my eyes away from the happy new couple and gathered my things. I'm not normally so morose, but this just sucked.
At sixteen and in the tenth grade I was a measly five foot six and what my family liked to call 'petite'. Fragile. Pretty. Sometimes, if they were being nice, delicate. I know, not a lot of great choices there. To make it all worse, when I was thirteen I'd gotten a nasty infection – pharyngitis that was compounded with tonsillitis. The infection was so bad that my vocal cords were damaged, and I've been mute ever since. So that's me, in a nutshell: sixteen years old, short, delicate and can't say shit if I'm knee deep in it.
I sat down in the band room, my last class of the day, and removed my flute from its case. Yeah, I'm not a jock either. I'm a flautist. I can't speak, but I can still move air pretty well. I didn't have the lips for a trumpet, but I seemed to take to the flute pretty quickly. I brushed my blond bangs out of my face and got my music set on the stand before assembling the head and foot sections to the body of my instrument.
The room filled, and people brought their instruments out and tuned them while talking to their neighbors. I sat in silence, watching the spectacle like I was a member of the audience for this silly, pointless play called high school band.
At last the teacher took charge of the class, and we began our practice. Our instructor, Mr. Norris, was well known for choosing things that were out of the ordinary. For last year's Christmas concert we'd played 'Good King Kong Looked Out' by PDQ Bach rather than, say, 'Jingle Bells'. This year it was 'Oh Little Town of Hackensack', and, just like last year, my father would bitch that we hadn't played the classics.
Bringing us to ready, we started in. The music wandered, the beat was erratic and the violins...the violins. Bringing his fingers together in a pinching motion, Mr. Norris brought us to a blessed silence.
“Cacophony: A harsh discordance of sound. Dissonance. You, lovely people, are cacophonous,” he said, raising his hand. “Now that we have that out of our system, let's try it again.”
The second go 'round was better. Not great, but we still had six weeks or so to get it right. From there we ran though 'Silver Bells' and 'The Little Drummer Boy'. In a few weeks we'd start to combine rehearsals with the chorus across the hall – then you'd hear some goddamn cacophony.
At the end of the rehearsal I took my flute apart and, using a rod and cloth, cleaned the moisture from it. Storing it away just as the bell rang I stood to leave, only to hear Mr. Norris call out to me.
“Devyn? Hang for a moment?”
I let people pass me by, streaming for the door and the freedom of the end of the school day. I walked over to Mr. Norris, wondering if I'd made some mistake that warranted speaking to outside of class, but was coming up empty.
“Thank you, Mr. Kennedy,” he said, smiling at me. “There was something I wanted to run past you – something of a challenge.”
I lifted an eyebrow.
“Ah, I have your attention,” he smiled. “Good. So, you've heard of our show band, Sahara?”
I nodded. They competed against other school sponsored bands across the state. They had a drummer, keyboardist, guitarist and a bass player. Presumably one of them sang, if needed, or they had a singer as well.
“Well, as you know, I'm not given to being fenced in by tradition,” he said as he turned from me and reached into a box on top of his piano. “I'd like you to give this a try – do you have time? Do you ride the bus?”
I shook my head and held my hand out.
“Excellent,” he said and dug around in the box for a minute before extracting sheets of music. He handed them to me and I glanced at them, before spinning them in my hands as they were upside down. I read the notes quickly, trying to hear them in my head. A short trill, not too fast, and then steady. Adding in other instruments – some strings. A steady tap from the drum...
“How about we give it a try?”
I wandered to a music stand, only using my peripheral vision as I took in the flute line. It was huge – I mean, front and center. I re-assembled my flute while reading the music, amazed something like this existed for my instrument. To understand, the flute is an old instrument but usually played in groups. But this...this was something totally different.
“Okay, I'll tap out the tempo with my foot to get you started,” he said. I glanced at him, nodding once in understanding, and my eyes were back on the music. His foot moved, I counted the beats and played.
“Good, good. A little less lip. Now, get ready, trill up – more breath, Devyn, more breath, and try to use the double tongue method.”
It was exhilarating. The music itself wasn't mind-blowing, but my instrument's place in that arrangement was more than exciting. My fingers danced to the notes on the page, tripping here and there, but that would improve. I imagined the other instruments supporting my tune and put more air into my breath, more passion into my playing. As I exhaled the final note Mr. Norris was clapping.
“Oh, ho! I think we have a winner!” he said gleefully. “Wasn't that fun?”
I nodded at him, grinning widely.
“Alright, so! I have a plan, and it looks like you might be just the man to make it work. Are you interested in hearing my plan?” he asked with an exuberant tone and a wide smile.
I gave him a thumbs up and waited as he dragged a high stool over to talk to me.
“All right, so picture this!” he said, putting his hands out and making a frame with the thumb and forefinger of each hand. “Regional competition. Band after band gets up and gives us their versions of 'Free Bird' and 'Don't Stop Believin' and all those wonderfully overplayed songs. But we have a secret weapon!” he said, dramatically pointing to the ceiling.
“We will play something they have never heard before – not at our level! You are my key to that. You will give us the unique sound to make us stand out from the crowd. What do you think? Do you want to join Sahara?”
I smiled and nodded, working my eyebrows to let him know I was plenty excited about the idea.
“All right! Put it there, secret weapon!” he said as he thrust his hand out. I shook it with a grin.
“Okay, all right. Let me get this disc, oh!” he said, pausing from his suddenly scattered movements. “Do you have a working CD player? Or do you only have one of those digital things?”
I mouthed 'both' to him and he nodded.
“All right then, take this disc...where did I put that?” he muttered to himself as he dug through the box on his desk. “No, not there.”
He crossed the room and, as he noisily rummaged, I took my instrument apart again and cleaned it out as I waited. Finally, with a cry of triumph, he returned with a CD in hand.
“Okay, so, this CD has a live version of the song you just heard. Also tucked in here,” he said, opening the jewel case and removing a folded sheet of paper. Opening the paper he continued, “... is this list of the changes from the version you played to the live version – that's the one I want to try. Take it home, give it a whirl. We meet on Wednesdays here at school, so you have two days before we give it our first go, eh? Oh! Permission form!”
He spent another ten minutes looking through various piles of paper before handing me a form for my parents to fill out. I nodded again and accepted the disc and form. I waved and picked up my bag and instrument. After a pit stop at my locker I headed out into the clear, cold day. I was glad for my pea coat; it was thick enough to keep the chill out but not cumbersome like the puffy jackets that were so much a part of winter here. I drove home and hurried inside as the heat in my car seemed to be getting weaker and weaker. I'd told my dad, but if you couldn't fix it with duct tape, it wasn't getting fixed.
“Is that you, Dev?” my mom called out. My Dad worked tow truck in the evening, so he was never home when I got home. I knocked on the wall in response and headed up to my room, where I kicked off my shoes and tossed my coat on the bed. I popped the CD into the player and put my headphones on.
First there was audience noise and then a voice. English, perhaps, a little scratchy. “And now, a song we've utterly loathed for fifteen long years; now resurrected in a slightly more tricky form to make it a little more fun to play, it's called 'Living in the Past!”
An instrument tapped out the opening beat along with some stringed instrument – bass likely - and the flute trilled in, setting the melody. It danced around the clumsier sounds until, suddenly, it burst forth as the only instrument for a few notes and then leading the charge for the other players. The scratchy voice came on again, singing the words but he'd go back to the flute between verses. Then there were no more words, just this band jamming – with a flute at the musical vanguard. I so badly wanted to do this! I nearly jumped out of my skin when I felt a hand on my shoulder. Whipping my head around my wide eyes met my mother; a knowing grin on her face.
“Oh, did I scare you?” she asked.
I mouthed a 'ha, ha'.
“Dinner will be ready in about ten minutes. Do you have homework?”
I nodded and grabbed my bag from the bed. Pulling out my agenda I showed her the stuff I had to get done that night, and then I put the permission form in front of her. She scanned the page and then looked up at me.
“A band? What brought this on?”
I began flashing my fingers at her in American Sign Language, and she started shaking her head and put her hand over mine.
“Slow down! I can't keep up!” she laughed.
I grinned and began to tell her, again, about the part I was asked to play. She watched my hands intently, putting a finger up to slow me down when I'd get moving too quickly. Slowly she nodded her head and smiled at me.
“That sounds like fun! I can't wait to tell your Dad! He was in a band in high school, you know.” She paused and looked up before saying aloud, “Actually, I think they just hung out in a garage and drank beer.”
I grinned, a wheeze of air indicating my laughing with her. The damage to my voice is substantial enough that I can't speak, but I can make a weak whisper and, if I laugh, it comes out just as air passing – similar to a cough, which is just a gathering of air that is released all at once. One of my Uncles named me 'Muttley' after I'd lost my voice due to my laugh. When I discovered it was a cartoon dog and heard what he sounded like, I was pretty pissed.
I signed to her that I had the song Mr. Norris wanted me to learn on CD and I held the headphones out to her. She plopped down in my chair and I cued up the song for her. As it started she glanced at me and a smile pulled up one side of her face. Then, slowly, her jaw dropped.
“Is that a flute?”
I nodded enthusiastically.
“He wants you to play...this?” her smile grew. “Oh, it sounds like fun!”
After dinner I listened to the song a few more times and then set up the notepaper Mr. Norris had set his marks to and I played until it was time for bed. I was going to be in a band!
This stupid car! The temperature had dropped overnight and the heat was so weak that it wouldn't even clear my windshield! I was driving to school wiping the windshield with an old shirt I had in the back every so often just to get a glimpse of the road. I barely made it to school without getting into an accident. I put my stuff away and barely made it to class on time, and that's when the day really went sideways.
First period is Home Economics, and this quarter is nutrition and cooking. Mrs. Carter was young and pretty, with long auburn hair and green eyes. She had a quick smile and didn't seem to take things too seriously. There were more than a few guys that made comments about her being a TILF – teacher I'd like to fuck. Of course, I was nodding along and enjoying listening to these guys talk about sex.
Mrs. Carter was also popular because she had a reputation as a flirt. She would play around with the guys some in class, there would be an occasional slap on the butt or she'd hip-check them. She was known as someone who'd high five a student, usually spreading her fingers out and sort of holding their hand while up in the air. She was just a touchy-feely kind of person, and all the straight boys with their raging hormones just loved it.
I, on the other hand, didn't really care. She treated me like she did the other boys, and I just smiled and kept doing my thing. The girls thought she was a slut, especially if they had a boyfriend who had Mrs. Carter for a teacher. There had been rumors – like last year I heard Luke Chambers had nailed Mrs. Carter and she'd had to get an abortion, and then they'd repeated it. There were rumors of them being seen driving around town and fogging up windows.
Luke was a nice looking guy, but now he looked like he must have gotten into something over the summer – drugs of some kind. He looked tired and miserable all the time, with bags under his eyes. He was angry, too.
When class was over Mrs. Carter asked me to stay behind. Firstly, this was weird because I was acing her class, and second that made twice in two days I was kept after by a teacher. I've never even had detention, so this was something new for me. She was dressed in a skirt with an untucked button-up blouse and flat shoes. The talk today, while she was out of earshot, was how she looked in that skirt and how the front of her blouse seemed...under pressure.
Her shoes clip-clopped as she walked to the door and pushed it, and it closed slowly on its pneumatic arm. I was standing by her podium – she didn't teach from a desk – and when she turned around I thought maybe one of her buttons had lost the fight. But, no, it was there.
“Devyn, you seem to have a flair for cooking,” she said as she approached. “Do you cook much at home?”
I shook my head, wondering why she was asking me this? This conversation was making me late for my next class.
“I saw Mr. Norris's band playing the other day. You seem to have a grasp on your...instrument.”
I nodded slowly, still not sure what this was about but beginning to feel uncomfortable. I was also reasonably sure she didn't know sign, so that left me with writing or an unintelligible whisper if I wanted to ask.
“Your fingers,” she said as she stepped in close to me and actually took my free hand. “They are so delicate. Graceful.”
She rubbed the joints of my fingers and I grew uncomfortable with her casual intimacy. She lifted my hand, running her fingers from knuckle to nail on my own.
“Did you know everyone has to pass my class to graduate?” she said slowly, looking at my face.
I wracked my brain. You did? You had to learn to cook in high school or you failed? How the fuck had my father slipped through?
“I can see you didn't know. Course completion is a subjective art,” she said, pressing my hand between hers. “So many things can go wrong. Grades can be lost...”
What the hell was she talking about? I started to pull my hand back but she used one hand to fold my fingers over her other hand, almost as if I were holding her hand voluntarily.
“I can make sure you pass, you know.” She took a step towards me, and we both jumped when my books fell out of my hand and crashed to the floor – the sound loud as the book landed flat and made a loud clapping noise.
I glanced at her, eyes wide and backed up a step and bent for my books. As I stood back up she had closed the distance and was leaning in, crowding me against a desk.
“I have something you want and you,” she said, pushing her leg between mine, “have something I want.”
My eyes must have been large; panicked not only from the intensity of the situation but that, to my extreme discomfort, I'd started to get hard. I looked up at the clock and then pointed at it, coughing. A slow smile spread out across her face.
“I have a free period. But I'll let Mr. Powell know you have some extra work to make up here...don't you?” she said, nudging her knee against my groin. I wheezed and felt sweat break out on my brow. I shook my head and a slight frown crossed her face.
“Let me get you a hall pass,” she said, trying to make it sound seductive. She stepped to her podium and withdrew a pad of hall passes. Filling one out she folded it and held it between her fingers, extending it to me as if it were a treat.
Once home I lost myself in trying to work on the music again. The only time I wasn't wondering what the heck was going on with Mrs. Carter was when I was playing. I'd caught myself several times throughout the day, looking at my fingers and hating their tapered length, the stupid delicacy everyone seemed to see in them – and me. I debated telling my mother what happened, but I wasn't sure what I could accomplish. In retrospect she'd probably been inappropriate, but it was my word against hers. I had no proof she...stroked my hands or rubbed her leg in my groin. I was stumped about handling that.
Worse, I was all mixed up about my own reaction to it. I knew I liked guys, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I'd noticed a girl. Even then it was just that she was pretty; it never went farther than that. When I looked for porn, it was gay. When I day dreamed, it was about a guy. When I whacked off, it was to thoughts of a guy. Now, I have this woman...touching me, and my traitorous body was reacting. Why? Didn't my body crave another boy the way my brain did? Why was my dick reacting to the wrong gender? Not to mention she was a little old for me.
I was also unhappy with the way I'd frozen up. If I'd wanted to avoid her advances, why didn't I do more? I could have run past her or something.
To still my mind I practiced. My fingers danced across the keys and I was making progress at playing the piece. The live version was filled with breaths and grunts from the player, but I couldn't reproduce that. Given the randomness, I was rather pleased to not be tasked with that.
Tuesday morning my car's heating system was putting out a sweet smell, but with a chemical tang that made it unpleasant. There was also a greasy film across the inside of the windshield that would smear when I tried to wipe it in the morning – it was only a matter of time until I had an accident with this thing!
I parked and, as I climbed out I saw another couple, Robin Kirkwood and Lucien Kutsenko, kissing beside an old VW bus. I frowned. Why hadn't either one of them noticed me? Oh, right. I was short, delicate and unable to carry a conversation. I grunted and tossed my backpack onto my shoulder and headed into school. I waited until the last minute to enter Mrs. Carter's class and did my best to avoid her eyes during the class.
We were baking muffins and it took very little time. That small amount of time seemed to stretch when Mrs. Carter walked by me and brushed her hand against the seat of my pants. I felt the sweat start again and was disturbed to find myself plumping up; confusion and guilt and...nerves, I guess, had my hands shaking.
Then Mark Sidowski somehow managed to slice his hand open. He decided to cut open muffins with a knife – and not a butter knife. The idiot actually put the thing in his hand and cut down, onto his palm. Class was stopped, and the nurse came up to administer first aid. In the interim the bell rang, and I escaped without enduring another episode with Mrs. Carter.
I sat by myself at lunch – the room was crowded and I didn't want to horn in with people I didn't know. The tables with people from band were usually pretty full, and I was feeling anti-social anyway. Instead I was looking at the only table I knew of with a gay couple at it. Two of them, actually. Derek and Austin on one side and Robin and Lucien on the other. Sprinkled around were others I didn't know – but without fail my eyes were drawn to the boys, not the girls.
A lyric from the song I was learning popped into my head, and it both amused and confused me. You know I love to love you and above you there's no other. Yeah, guys, I love you. Your flat pecs and bulges up front and behind. Your muscles and your...but why...how do I get hard when Mrs. Carter comes on to me? How can I make her stop?
I watched them eat and laugh and was filled with a confusing mix of wistfulness and jealousy. I trudged through my day and managed to get home without an accident, though that car was putting out zero heat. The only thing saving me was that the car ride was short.
I spent some time with my mom that night. We watched a movie after dinner, something forgettable, and then I practiced for an hour or so until it was time for bed. I lay awake and let my mind wander.
As I saw it my major problem with people was my inability to speak. Ever since I'd had my voice stolen from me I'd found I struggled with relationships. I'd tried to adapt, and I admit maybe not hard enough, but there were a lot of things left out. I couldn't tell a joke to a group – not unless you gave me a white board or an overhead projector, and then you lost all the inflection of a well told joke.
There was no calling someone on the phone. After I was silenced, I found my friends were good, to start with. But as time went on, they drifted away – perhaps realizing that my voice wasn't coming back and the old me was gone. This was also why I, probably, hadn't found a boyfriend. What was I going to do – slip them a note and ask them if they liked boys? Oh, I know, I'll wait until there is someone who can sign – there has to be a gay boy that knows that, right? Wait, it's me.
Plus, look at me. I'm a hundred-forty pounds sopping wet. I'm not scrawny or thin – my Mom likes to call me slender or svelte if she wants to lay it on thick. But, really, I'm this short guy with no voice looking around at all these normal guys. Just how do I get their attention? Well, first, how do I find a gay boy whose attention I can hope to attract. Grindr? That was a joke. I downloaded it, put a face picture on there and instantly had people way out of my comfort zone hitting on me. Guys who were not even college age – more like professors. More like Mrs. Carter.
I woke up a little late Wednesday and ran out the door. Of course, since I was late, I ran into traffic because of an accident. I nearly made it worse and rear ended the car in front of me, due to my smearing the windshield as I wiped the foggy glass and its residue. Then the universe laughed at me again and my car overheated. Steam was pouring out from under the hood, and the engine was making a horrible racket. I barely wrestled the car to the curb before it quit.
Great. I texted my mom to let her know I needed help and then waited until she'd called AAA. She'd called in late to work and come to pick me up and get me to school, but between the tow truck and the time it took to get to me, I didn't get to school until nearly third period. On the one hand I was happy about missing Mrs. Carter's class but on the other my car was down, and that meant the bus. Except, I had to walk tonight, since I was having my first meeting with the band tonight.
After band class I cleaned my instrument and put it back together in anticipation of meeting the members of Sahara. The first to arrive were a girl and boy. She had long chestnut hair and walked with a confidence that I wish I had. Her companion was heavyset, and while she was smartly dressed, he was a jeans and tee shirt kind of guy. Seconds later another girl darted in, her medium length brown hair done up in a lazy perm.
“Almost ready, good, good,” Mr. Norris said. “All right. Devyn? I'd like you to meet the band. First is Tricia,” he pointed to the girl with the curls. “She is our drummer, keeps us all on pace. The other young lady is Sara and she plays our lead guitar, and her boyfriend is Trent, our bassist. Where is Elliot?”
“Probably has his head in a cloud,” Tricia snickered. She reached out and took my hand. “It's nice to meet you.”
I smiled and nodded at her.
“Devyn doesn't speak,” Mr. Norris filled in before anyone took offense at my silence.
“Oh, you just became the front runner to be my new boyfriend,” Sara said as she held her hand out to me and grinned. “What I'd give to have a quiet man!”
“Ha, ha,” Trent said. “Don't let her fool ya, Devyn. If you're quiet too long then she thinks there's something wrong. There is literally no winning with her.”
I laughed my wheezy amusement and Sara smiled again. “Aw, that's adorable.”
“I'm here, sorry!” came a new voice. I glanced over to see the aforementioned Elliot - and was pleased with what I saw. He was maybe five foot ten and had medium length brown hair and a sculpted face. His cheeks were rosy as he bustled into the room on legs that looked long despite him not being all that tall.
“Ah, here he is.” Mr. Norris turned to me and said, “This is Elliot Lindley, our keyboardist. Elliot, meet Devyn, our secret weapon!”
“Oh, hey,” he said, smiling and putting his hand out. “I've never met a secret weapon before.”
I nodded and smiled.
“Elliot, Devyn doesn't speak,” Sara told him. “So from now on when you guys are being too noisy? I'm going to tell you to make like Devyn, since Mr. Norris thinks telling you to shut the hell up is offensive.”
“That's because it is,” Mr. Norris supplied. “All right, let's get set up, shall we? Let's get the bass and the guitar tuned and Elliot can get seated. Start limbering up those fingers!”
They set about their tasks and I watched them as they went to their chosen instruments and began tuning, warming up and unlimbering the muscles that would move repetitively to make music. Sara and Trent were spread out and using electronic tuners to get ready. Elliot was running scales on the piano and Tricia was tapping on the drums lightly, running a warm up rhythm.
After a few minutes of that Mr. Norris brought them all together and suggested they use a bit of warm up music and they knocked out a version of Adele's 'Set Fire to the Rain'. Sara didn't have the body in her voice to come near Adele, but she was on key and that made a difference. Elliot sounded competent and I didn't hear any obvious mistakes from the stringed duo – it seemed like they worked well together.
I clapped when they finished and they all said thank you – except Sara who gave me a laugh and a bow.
“All right! This is good stuff! Now, let's get out the music I gave you last week – everyone has had some time to study it, I assume?”
“You know what they say about assuming, right Mr. Norris?” Trent asked.
Sara slapped the back of Trent's head. “Don't be fresh!”
“You? You're telling me that?” Trent asked dodging a second swipe.
“Trent, you should shave your head. Then when Sara slaps you? There'd be this awesome sound. Thwack!” Tricia said, slapping her hands together.
“If Trent shaved his head, he'd look like a penis,” Elliot said quietly. It was the quiet voice that made it stupidly funny.
“All right, all right, let's get control of ourselves,” Mr. Norris said as he tried to settle the group. “Now, you all noted that we had an extra line of music – and that's where Devyn comes in.”
“A flute? With us?” Tricia asked.
“Uh, I don't know,” Elliot said.
“Well, let's get you educated, then. Ready?”
Trent thumbed the bass line and I flowed in, the flute floating atop the bass line, flitting about as if on a breeze. Elliot's voice came in, so unlike the original – not scratchy or English. One verse, a one line chorus, and then another verse...and then the music stopped and my flute jumped forth, punctuating the silence until their break ended and we joined. The music was rocky, not smooth, but we were all together, and I could feel the energy of the music. This was going to work!
Once done I broke down my flute and began to clean it. Sara and Trent stored their instruments and Tricia, having put her sticks in her back pocket, skipped on out the door. Elliot said goodnight to us as a group and walked out. None of us had coats on arrival, and there was the distant echoing of locker doors closing as I retrieved my own coat and bundled tight before walking out into the chill. There were cars in the lot running, warming up and I envied them. Even if I had frozen my ass off in the car, I wouldn't have had to do it for long – and I wouldn't have had this cold wind, either.
I walked out the long drive to the road Columbia was built off of and was mildly surprised when Sara called out to me.
“Hey! Dev! Which way you headed?” she asked, speaking from Trent's car.
I turned and pointed in the direction of home.
“Oh. Hang on, then.” She climbed out of the passenger side of the car and ran to the car behind her. The window went down and I heard her speaking, shivering as she wrapped herself against the wind. She nodded and waved me over.
“El's heading that way, he'll drop you. Great job today!” she patted my shoulder and ran back to, I guess, Trent's car. I poked my head down and looked at Elliot behind the wheel of the little Jetta. I reflected that, since Lucien had a VW and so did Robin, perhaps having a VW was a prerequisite to getting a boyfriend in this burg.
“Hop in, Devyn,” Elliot said, waving to me. I didn't need to be asked twice, sliding in and buckling before Elliot pulled forward. The heat was not quite going yet, but the wind was blessedly outside the car.
“So, that was different, huh?”
I smiled and nodded. I ran my fingers across his dashboard as if playing piano and then pointed at him followed by a thumbs up.
“Oh, well, thanks. I have to admit I was a little...I don't know, concerned? No. What's the word I want?” he appeared to drift off in thought. I watched him as he drove on auto pilot; in fact, I wasn't even watching where we were going. “I think it was a confidence thing. Ever since he brought us this piece of music it was kind of...missing something. You filled that gap pretty well, though. I think it's going to be a really nice bit when we get it down.”
I nodded happily. I pulled my phone out, hit the note app and thumbed in my address. I showed it to Elliot whose eyes widened when he saw it.
“Oh. Shit,” he said, an embarrassed grin crossing his face. “Here you are sitting with me, and I was driving to my home!”
I wheezed out a laugh, and he joined me, putting his blinker on and changing direction.
“They like to tease me that my head's in the clouds. It's true; my mind wanders sometimes.” He glanced at me suddenly and asked, “Can you speak...I mean...can you use sign language?”
I moved my fingers quickly, signing 'You're a wonderful pianist'.
He shook his head with a smile. “Okay, I guess so. Hey, can you teach me swear words?”
I raised my middle finger.
“I mean ones that won't get me grounded or assigned detention,” he laughed. I liked his laugh, it was a natural, clear sound.
I thought for a moment and then held my left hand out and skidded my right hand across it, quickly.
“What did you just call me?” he asked.
I wheezed my humor and picked the phone up, tapping on the screen, then holding it out to him. He glanced and laughed.
“Really? That means fuck off?”
I nodded. Usually this was the novelty people had with me, finding out swear phrases they'd use a few times for fun and then it was over. Still, this would be nice for a little bit, until he grew bored.
He dropped me at my home and I signed 'thank you' by flattening my hand and placing my fingertips to my chin and then bringing the hand out flat towards him.
“Hey! That's a new record for someone blowing me kisses!”
I raised an eyebrow and wheezed a laugh.
“What does that mean?” he asked. I typed out the meaning on the phone and showed him.
“Okay, and how do I say 'You're welcome'?”
I typed and showed him, shaking with mirth: You just did.
“No, I mean, what if I want to say it in sign, you...you...kiss blower!” he laughed and I grinned at him.
I curved my hand, holding it out before me palm to my chest and brought it down to my stomach as if I were describing a big belly with my hands.
“Are you sure? Are you teaching me to tell people I'm pregnant?”
I shook with silent laughter and brought up a chart on my phone, an ASL quick reference card of sorts and showed it to him.
“Hmm. Okay. I guess I can trust you this time,” he said with a sigh. “You don't live far from me. You want a ride in the morning?”
I ran a circle around the center of my chest and grinned.
“Does this have anything to do with blowing kisses?” he asked suspiciously and I shook again with laughter. I tapped out 'please' on my phone and he nodded.
“Man...this is like another language.”
I rocked forward, shaking and wheezing as he giggled at himself.
“Okay, I'm getting out of here before we're married or something. Seven o'clock okay?”
Nodded, touched my fingers to my chin and held them out again for 'thank you'.
He curved his hand through the air, like a fat stomach. 'You're welcome'. I smiled widely and climbed from his car. Maybe he actually could be a friend.
Elliot was true to his word and picked me up at seven. My mom came out in her robe to say thank you to him and let him know my car was in the shop. When I'd told her about the ride the night before it had come up in conversation that I hadn't actually told him why I needed a ride. She also had breakfast burritos made and forced him to take one.
He sniffed it experimentally and glanced at me. I took a bite and raised my eyebrows to him. Slowly he took a small bite and chewed as if it were something quite exotic.
“Hmm,” he said, pleasantly surprised and gobbled the rest of it on the way to school. We went through the 'thank you' and 'you're welcome' signs before separating for the day. I was feeling pretty good until I walked into Mrs. Carter's class. Her look was inscrutable and left me nervous. I kept my head down and did my work while she kept giving me meaningful glances. The problem was, I couldn't tell what meaning the glances held.
My normal day settled in, once I escaped Mrs. Carter. She didn't keep me after this time, and Mr. Powell, my math teacher, seemed to take a mental note of my arrival. I think coming to his class late from Home Economics insulted his pride, even if it was only the one time. I brooded a little less at lunch, was not as disappointed to see the couples still couples. Reflecting on Elliot, I decided it was just nice, for the moment, to have someone to communicate with.
At the end of the day, I realized I hadn't asked Elliot if he'd bring me home, and I didn't have his number, so I reluctantly bundled up and resigned myself to the walk home.
“Devyn, there you are.” Oh, shit. Mrs. Carter. “I have something for you in my room. Since we don't have any classes tomorrow, I'm glad I found you before you left. Come with me.”
I glanced around to see if I could find an easy way out of this. I could just walk away. But what about my grade? I was still stuck with my so-called word against hers, and I didn't want to fail...so I went. If I can get away with a little hand holding, I could probably tolerate it; a bigger problem was the way my body responded and what that meant to me.
Climbing the stairs to her room I kept my gaze toward the floor. I didn't want to give any kind of idea that I was encouraging her or was in any wanting this. Once in her room she continued walking to the cooking area, which had its own door separating it from the classroom, and she closed it behind us. I was instantly far more nervous.
“Where were you yesterday, Devyn? I was worried,” she said. She tilted her chin down, trying to appear sultry. It did make my heart pound, but with stress rather than desire. My palms were instantly damp.
“Devyn, you look stressed. Why don't you let me help you?” she said and closed the distance between us. I brought my backpack to my chest like a shield and she smiled ferally. “You know one of the things I love about you? I know, unlike other boys, you can...keep things quiet.”
My heart was hammering and I slid away along the counter, but her steps were quick in pursuit. I felt my mind locking up again – what do I do? I shook my head, but it felt more like a tremor than a definitive 'no'.
“Oh, come on now. A cute boy like you? I'm sure you just need a little encouragement,” she said and walked into me, pushing me back against the counter top. I stumbled, lost the grip on one strap of the bag and she swiped it uselessly aside. Then she was pressed against me, her knee pushing my legs apart and leaning in close. I was cornered by the counter and the wall and the only way to get away was through her. For a wild moment I considered shoving her away. Instead, air rushed out of my mouth, a whisper of a sound was all I could muster and I raised my hands, trying to push her back.
“Don't fight it, Devyn. We both know the boys in your class want me. The best part, for you, is you can have me,” and then she kissed me. I felt her greasy lipstick, and the smell of her deodorant mixed with her sweat was nauseating. Her tongue touched my lips, and I recoiled, but she seemed not to notice – or care.
“Now, let's go for the prize. You want to take your first step towards graduating, right?” Her hand was rubbing my crotch and my traitorous dick was standing at attention. With practiced ease, she had my belt undone and my zipper down and, with a final leer, was on her knees. My legs were trembling with my desire to run and my brain's inability to actually send the command. Like a train wreck, her face moved closer until I felt her breath, her mouth...
Oh, God. I'm going to be sick.
I'd showered on arriving home and again before bed, but I still felt dirty. I also felt confused and guilty and filled with dread about where this could lead me. I was gay – I was sure I was gay – and yet this woman had touched me and my body had responded. I'd never boned up over a girl before but certainly had over more than one boy. So why had she been able to get me hard? How come she...got me off? I shuddered as I mentally felt her mouth on me, her roaming hand. I felt sick again.
I stayed in my room all day Friday, mentally reviewing my situation and feeling increasingly hopeless. I thought about telling my mom or reporting it to the school, but what was I going to complain about? A boy who complained about unwanted blow jobs? People would laugh. But it wasn't fair! I didn't want her to touch me! What about next time? Because I was sure there would be a next time. Would she expect me to reciprocate? The very idea turned my guts to water.
Then the dark, evil inner workings of my mind took it a step further. What if that was not enough for her? What if she wanted...actual...penetrative sex? Would my traitorous dick finally wilt at the prospect? I know my mind had been a gibbering mess the entire time she'd bobbed her head on me. My muscles had been tense, and my stomach had been tied in anxious knots – and yet my dick was happy to respond and...Jesus.
The only break I could get from my mind and my spiral of dark thoughts was from practicing the music for next week. I listened to the CD a few more times to try and get the nuances down, to try and figure out how they worked and then spent the rest of the time trying to recreate it. I skipped meals and just focused on playing. The last thing I wanted to think about was her face as she knelt in front of me.
Saturday some of our extended family came over. My mother had to work, but my dad had college football games on, and my uncles were over to drink beer and pretend they cared about the teams. I had finally gotten hungry by mid-afternoon and headed down to make a sandwich or get some leftovers. In order to do that, I had to run the gauntlet without the defense my mother's presence provided.
As I picked my way through the living room I was grabbed around the waist and pulled into one of their laps – I hadn't noticed who. “Oh, look at this pretty daughter you got, Dale!” he said, messing my hair up. I sighed – it was Uncle Ted. I struggled to free myself but he enjoyed pulling me back and eventually started to tickle me, saying, “Come on, Muttley! Let's hear it!”
Only when he was satisfied with my wheezing laughter did he let me go. I stood and glared at him. I shook a finger and mouthed, 'Don't'.
“Jesus, you need a haircut, boy,” this from my Uncle Frank. “Some randy boy is gonna drop your pants and cornhole you thinking you're some pretty cheerleader or something.”
I signed at him, 'Pig fucker.' I decided right then I wasn't getting a haircut just to spite them.
“Dale, he's waving his fingers at me again. I hate that,” said Frank. “Gives me the heebie-jeebies.”
“Oh, Muttley!” Frank said. “Your Aunt Gloria bought some of those fancy socks for your cousin, but I won't let him wear no pink socks. Here you go, girly boy.”
I caught the two-pack of pink Nike Elite socks and smiled at the asshole. These socks cost eighteen bucks a pair and were comfortable. I don't even mind pink so the joke's on him.
I managed to avoid a few attempts to trip me and ignored the verbal jibes and got into the kitchen. I made two sandwiches and grabbed a glass of water to take back with me. I was just turning off the tap when I heard my father in the living room.
“Jesus, you believe this? What's he, a fag or somethin'?”
I poked my head out to see a news article – must be halftime or something. The newscaster was saying that the woman, whose picture was on the screen, had been indicted on 30 counts of statutory rape. I walked into the living room and listened, my sandwich forgotten. She was pretty with long dark brown hair pulled back into a pony tail. She'd been seeing a 16 year old boy, who the reporter said would not be named due to his age, and they had been engaging in sex acts as often as twice a week.
The boy was quoted as saying they'd just drive around and 'do it' whenever. The reporter went on to say, unnecessarily I thought, that they'd engaged in mutual oral sex as well. The teacher was twenty four and had offered to coach the kid in basketball, as she was a gym coach as well as basketball coach. They'd even done it at the school.
“Now, Devyn? If you ever get a shot at some fine tail like that? You take it and just thank God!” Frank said, laughing.
I was finding it hard to breathe.
“She's got a body that won't quit, huh? Hey, Dale, I think your girl has a boner,” Ted laughed and tried to grab me again and I hit his hand away, hard.
“Easy now. You don't have to worry, Muttley. You're too pretty for a woman like that,” Ted teased me some more.
I flipped him off, and the other men laughed at him. I was no threat, and pissing me off was a sport. The winner would be the one to make me cry.
“Oh, poor Muttley. You worried you'll never get laid?” Ted teased.
“Son,” my dad said. “You ever get laid like that I want you to tell everyone.”
“Come on, Dale. You know if it happened to Muttley, it'd be a male gym teacher riding his sweet young ass, don't ya?” Frank laughed at his own wit. I retreated into the kitchen and sat at the dinette, hunger almost forgotten. If it weren't for the fact that I hadn't eaten in more than 24 hours, I don't think I would have been able to do so then. Determined to get away from them and their cackling laughter I picked up my plate and my glass and threaded through the living room.
The game was back on, and they barely noticed me as I ascended the stairs. What the fuck was I going to do?
Mrs. Carter was back to just being playful on Monday and she didn't give me any questionable looks. I wondered about it, because I figured it would bite me in the ass somehow. Instead she kept it up through the middle of the week, and I began to wonder if she'd seen the news and gotten worried - I could hope.
I still didn't have my car back, and Elliot hadn't come to get me, which I was disappointed about but not surprised. It has to be a pain to go out of your way to pick up someone else or bring them home, I reasoned. After last period I was cleaning out my instrument when Elliot dropped heavily into the seat beside me with a dry cough.
“Ugh. Hey, Dev,” he said.
I smiled and nodded at him.
“It's my first day back. The doctor's office just cleared me this morning. I've been sick since last Friday!” he grumbled, small coughs punctuating his statement. He unwrapped a cough drop and popped it in his mouth. “Been eating these like candy.”
'I'm sorry,' I signed.
“I don't know enough sign. What's your phone number?” he asked, pulling his own phone out. I used my fingers to tell him and he saved the information.
“Is your car fixed?” he asked. I shook my head ruefully.
“Man, you've been walking? I'm sorry. I can pick you up and drop you off 'til you get your car back, if you want,” he said with another cough. “I would have told you I was sick, but...” he held up the phone that now housed my number.
I held my hand out, thumb and forefingers together in the universal sign for 'okay'.
“Blow anyone anymore kisses?” he asked with a grin as he stood to go warm up.
'I saved them for you,' I signed, grinning.
“I'll bet you just busted my balls,” he said, shaking a finger at me. “I'm going to learn sign just so you can't get away with shit.”
I was encouraged by Elliot's conversation and the implication that he was going to make the effort with me. Of course, that meant I had to make the effort with him, too, and I was more than willing. After having so few people to talk to – besides my mother – I was pretty pleased to have him. Practice went well – I could tell these people were above average just from the progress we'd made in a single week, and I felt pretty good to be included in their number.
Afterward, Elliot paused by my chair as I cleaned out my instrument yet again. “Hey, I'll meet you at my car, okay?”
I nodded and signed, 'Thank you.'
“I saw that!” Sara said gleefully.
“Saw what?” Trent asked.
“Devyn's blowing kisses!” she giggled as she walked over to me.
“He was saying 'thank you',” Elliot said with a roll of his eyes.
“Oh, really?” she said, stretching the word out. I felt a small smile tugging my mouth as, I felt, she meant no harm.
“I dunno,” Trent said, shaking his head. “He blow's El kisses, blows into a hard rod to make sweet, sweet music...”
I shook with my wheezy laughter, and Sara laughed and dropped into the seat next to me. “So, let me see this 'thank you' sign again.”
I showed her the sign, grinning while she watched me closely. Elliot just shook his head and reiterated he'd meet me at the car. As soon as his back was turned, I raised an eyebrow to Sara and actually blew Elliot a kiss. She and Trent burst out laughing and Elliot spun on his heel, still going towards the door and wagged a finger at us.
“I'm not falling for it! All of you!,” he said with a grin and made the sign I'd taught him for 'fuck off'.
I was rocking in my chair, shaking with laughter while Sara and Trent both wanted to know what that meant.
“Hey,” Sara said, placing a finger on my chest. “You tell me or I'll tell El you were blowing real kisses!”
“Oh, please,” Trent scoffed, “these two are so chummy they'll be dating by next week, bank on it!”
I raised an eyebrow at Trent while Sara laughed. I turned my inquisitive gaze on Sara and she grinned. “Don't worry, El's not going to stalk you. Well, maybe Facebook stalking, but he's a real sweetie.”
I made a 'come on' gesture with my hand, encouraging her to continue.
“Sara, you got a big mouth,” Trent said in a sing song, and Sara flipped him off.
“Trent, be Devyn!”
“You know, on the one hand that's way politer than telling me to shut the hell up. On the other hand, it's telling me to lose weight and bleach my hair. So, can you be more specific?” Trent teased.
I tapped Sara's arm and raised an eyebrow at her.
“What?” she asked, appearing to be genuinely confused. I twisted my mouth to one side and grabbed my phone, tapping out Is Elliot gay?
“I don't know,” she said with a shrug. “He likes hanging out with people that can play music. Trent and I have gone to his house a bunch of times just to jam or work on something for Sahara.”
No Tricia? I texted.
“No, no drums there and no piano at her place. Besides,” she said as she stood and stretched. “Tricia is like a savant with her drums – she barely practices before she knows the music.”
I was a tad disappointed she hadn't been able to say Elliot was gay. I guess I'd have to wait to find out, but that would be a really nice development.
Elliot dropped me off, but it was obvious he still wasn't feeling all that well, and he didn't look all that much better the following morning. Mrs. Carter was big on the small touches that morning, enough to make me uncomfortable but not enough to make me panic. As Elliot dropped me off Thursday night he invited me to come over after school Friday to jam with him and hang out a bit and I happily accepted.
Friday morning Mrs. Carter seemed to have shaken off whatever had given her pause. Her small touches from the day before were veiled grabs, now. I nearly dropped my mixing bowl when she grabbed my ass – hard. I was first afraid someone had seen, just because I'd die of embarrassment. Then I worried what kind of portent that was. Was she looking for more, now? My thoughts raced ahead to the end of the day – was she going to try and corner me again?
I started to come up with a plan to avoid her at the end of the day which was all for naught as the bell rang as she placed a hand on my forearm and told me to wait. Instantly I felt myself break into a sweat and I shook my head at her in fear – the class had emptied out so fast! It was almost like a herd of prey animals running out, sacrificing the weak or the sick for the good of the group.
“Don't worry, Devyn,” she cooed. “Our love is well protected.”
Love? Was she high? I shook my head again and stepped backward, feeling abandoned in this empty room with her.
“Devyn, don't be so nervous!” she tittered. “Everyone has a first time – you'll do fine!”
I felt my face drain of color. She wanted me to lose my virginity with her? My worst fears had some true and I felt clammy and nauseous at the idea of having sex with her.
“It'll be so exciting,” she said. “All those people out there studying, working while we celebrate the joy of your first time.”
I shook my head again, brought my hand out and chopped it in the air – clearly telling her no; and yet, she advanced. I moved back, shaking a finger and trying to make my expression firm; and yet, she still advanced. Her eyes were fixed to mine as if she couldn't see my hand gestures or my head shaking. Then, like an octopus, her hands were every where at once and her greasy lipstick was smeared on my lips. I tried turning my face and then found my head trapped between her hands – and then my head hit the cupboard, unable to retreat from her any farther.
My butt hit the wall and I slid away from her, moving down the wall and toward the door. I was jerked to a stop at the waist and elicited a surprised coughing noise as she grabbed me by the waistband of my jeans.
“Oh! My little lover is skittish! Go on and pull, lover. I like it when the boys try to fight their passions.” She jerked me solidly, and I was amazed at how weak I really was as I found myself propelled towards the back of the room and then I lost my balance, landing hard on my backside. I was humiliated as my small stature and 'delicate' body were overwhelmed by this person. She was on me in a moment, hiking her skirt up and mashing herself onto my face.
She wasn't wearing underwear.
They say that when you lose a sense, others get stronger in compensation. I'm not sure if I qualified since making sound isn't really a sense, but my nose had always been sensitive. Now, it was filled with a horrible smell, something that caused my stomach to roll over and then not stop. It spun, making me feel queasy as she mashed her wet sex on my face – and then I threw up.
I was coughing and spluttering and there is nothing worse for making you puke than the smell of puke, and so I did it again. My reaction, coupled with the smell, had caused her to leap backward and I was able to sit and puke to my side and not on my face. The smell of her sex mixed with puke filled my nose, and I heaved again, but had nothing left to expel. My stomach continued to revolt, however, not caring that it had tossed every cookie it had – possibly every one I'd ever eaten.
“Oh my God!” she said, her words coming out dripping with disgust. “Why didn't you say you were sick, you stupid shit?”
She walked as if saddle sore to a sink to clean up, and I was getting to my feet and doing my best to avoid the mess.
“Do you have a spare shirt in your locker? Something clean for gym, maybe?” she asked absently while rinsing a cloth out in the sink. “Jesus, did that leave a wet spot on my skirt? God damn it!”
Not wanting to approach her or answer any questions I ran from the room and to the boys bathroom. I washed my face, even trying to inhale water just to get the smells out of it. I took off my shirt and undershirt. Jesus, they both had some of that crap on them.
“Hello?” a male voice called as the door to the bathroom opened. I glanced toward the entrance as a janitor appeared. “Oh, there you are. You the boy that threw up in Home Ec?”
I thought for just a second and decided that was the easiest answer, for now, so I nodded at him and held up my soiled shirts.
“Okay. I'll radio down to the nurse, she might have something you can cover up with. Head down there while we take care of the mess, okay?”
I nodded, grateful as he left that I wouldn't have to deal with Mrs. Carter anymore. But then my brain reminded me that there was still school Monday and the rest of the year. No, I couldn't ever go back to her, I realized. I slapped the wall with my palm in frustration. How is it that, number one, you have to pass a class like that to graduate and, number two, that I could get trapped as an unwilling sex toy for this perverse woman?
I headed down to the nurse's office and she found a sweatshirt from the lost and found for me to stay warm with. She asked if I still felt sick, and I shook my head. As much as I didn't feel like going to any more classes, I still wanted to go to Elliot's that night, and the rules at home were that if you were sick you were sick. Not going to school or coming home sick meant staying in bed – no friends over or going to visit. Stupid as it sounded, I'd rather gut my way through the day than miss out on this time with Elliot.
I was very distracted throughout the day, however. I repeatedly felt nauseous and cringed when thinking of her sex – and its smell – as she smashed herself on my face. I knew I had to do something; going through that again just wasn't an option for me. Besides that, there had to be a way to pass and not get Home Ec credit, right? My mind was a swirling mess.
“Are you planning on spending the night, Mr. Kennedy?” Mr. Norris asked. I glanced around, realizing that the room had emptied out and I still held my flute in my hand waiting to be cleaned. I flashed an apologetic look at him and broke my flute down quickly to swab it.
“You seemed to be gathering wool. Spending too much time with Mr. Lindley, I think – he's rubbing off on you.” Mr. Norris turned a chair around and sat in front of me. “Tell me, have you enjoyed the new music?”
I nodded enthusiastically and mouthed 'Oh, yes!'.
“It seemed so. Are you feeling all right playing with the band? You seem to fit their personalities well, considering you're more of a beta personality.”
I nodded again, though not as vigorously. I had never thought of myself as a beta personality, but I guess I did tend to follow more than lead; especially since I'd lost my voice.
“Then, is there anything I can help you with?”
I thought for a moment. I liked Mr. Norris, but he was an adult – a teacher. Don't they stick together like cops do? If there is a bad one, don't they close ranks? Adults against the kids or whomever? I considered carefully and then decided I just wasn't confident enough to ask anything. I shook my head and he nodded his own.
“I suspected you'd say no. At your age adults don't seem all that wise, what with all of us screwing up the world so. Still,” he said as he stood and put the chair back, “if you need to talk, I'm here.”
He walked away and I watched him go back to his desk, piled high with paper. I finished cleaning the flute, stored it and made a pit stop at my locker before meeting Elliot at his car.
He was sitting inside, engine on and tapping his fingers on the steering wheel – no doubt playing the notes he was hearing on the radio or something similar. I paused on my approach and watched him for a moment – a nice guy, inviting me over and I realized that, while he'd been out sick, I'd missed him. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before, but I think I was afraid to like him in case he walked away like my old friends had. But, reflecting on it, I realized the things I'd used to do with my old friends were very general and we'd not had something to share that tied us closely. With Elliot, we had music. I hoped that would be enough to build off of.
“Have a nice weekend, Devyn.” I turned, as if in a nightmare, to see Mrs. Carter smiling at me. “See you next week.”
I was sweating again and feeling nauseous. I turned and walked quickly towards the car. I approached his car and he noticed my approach and smiled, then made a gesture to hurry up. I climbed into the car and exhaled, giving a theatrical shake from the cold.
“I know! What took you so long? Are you part snowman?”
As I looked at Elliot and his long, fine boned fingers I had a stupid, evil, slithering thought. I pulled out my phone and keyed my question before turning it to him.
“Did I take Home Economics? Like, cooking and sewing? No, I was never interested in either – and if you tasted my cooking you'd never ask something like that!”
I stared at him, realizing the depth of the hoax Mrs. Carter had played on me. I didn't have to pass her class – she was not only blackmailing me, she was outright lying about what she could do to me! I felt so stupid, so incredibly...
“Dev? What's going on?”
I started to breathe hard, feeling my anxiety sky rocket. She'd kissed me, blown me and shoved her smelly crotch on my face all under the guise that I needed her grade to pass. I was so, so stupid!
“Dev? Hey...” Elliot put his hand on my forearm and I pulled my hands up and held them to my forehead, my humiliation and shame hitting me like a ton of bricks. I'd been played! I couldn't tell anyone! No! I had to tell someone, it had to stop! But who? What could I say to prove what had happened? Or maybe I could just transfer out of her class and that would be the end of it?
No, it wouldn't be. She'd shown she had no problem tracking me down after school and besides, what if she simply picked on another kid? Even if he weren't gay, I doubt they'd feel too good about being taken advantage of. I realized then that she'd taken something from me when she'd kissed me, when she'd taken me in her mouth...she'd put herself in my mind forever as the first to do those things. I'd have no memorable first time with someone I cared for, instead I'd lost that to a woman who preyed on young guys like me. Bitch.
I began typing into my phone and showed Elliot. 'Mrs. Carter told me I had to pass her class to graduate.'
“Why'd she do that?” Elliot asked.
I sighed. If I tell him, then what? Will he be disgusted that I was dumb enough to fall for what she said, and then twice as much when I tell him what I allowed her to do to me? I looked at him kind of miserably and it must have been obvious because his demeanor changed. His face lost its inquisitive edge and his eyes became compassionate.
“I heard some rumors about Mrs. Carter. That's the teacher you got, right?”
I nodded slowly, curious despite myself as to the rumors he'd heard.
“You must have heard the rumors, too. About Luke Chambers and Mrs. Carter?” he asked.
My eyes went wide, of course! My clogged mind recalled the school gossip that still floated around about Luke and Mrs. Carter. I don't know if anyone believed it or not – but now I was sure it was true. I typed into my phone and paused. Considered. I glanced at Elliot's face and decided to risk it. I showed him my screen.
'She molested me.'
He gasped, his eyes going wide and his mouth an 'o' of surprise. “Did...I mean...did you want...”
I shook my head violently. Typed again. 'She forced me.'
“You have to tell someone,” he said. “You can't let her get away with it.”
He seemed more disturbed than I'd thought he might be. My assumption was that he'd either be disgusted at me or that he'd think this was a good thing and that I'd want to brag. That wasn't the case. He glanced around the parking lot and his eyes fixed on something outside the car.
“I knew Luke Chambers...before. He was a nice kid; she fucked him up. Will you tell on her?” he asked, turning his head slightly towards me. “Luke wouldn't. He said he'd told his dad and that his old man had been proud of him for getting a piece. He's been a mess since, though.”
'Who could I tell?' I typed.
“How about a judge?” He waved me to follow him and climbed out of the car. I unbuckled and followed him, curious. We walked over to the last two cars in the lot – a dark blue VW Golf that was running and a big, boxy VW van. The windows were a little fogged in the van. Elliot walked up and knocked on the window and moments later the side door rumbled open. Inside were Robin Kirkwood and Lucien Kutsenko, both of whom had swollen lips, likely from an intense make out.
“Haven't you ever heard the saying 'if this bus is rocking, don't come a knockin'?'” Lucien asked with a grin.
“I don't think it was rocking,” Robin said demurely.
“A few more minutes,” Lucien said, nipping Robin's ear. Robin pulled away with a giggle and glanced back at us. “Can we help you?”
“Yeah, I think so. Robin, you have an older brother named Kale, right?” Elliot asked.
“Yeah, I do,” Robin replied.
“I used to take piano lessons with him a long time ago. Uh, I remembered that his – your – dad was a judge. Is that still true?”
“He is,” Robin replied slowly. “What's this about?”
“More importantly, can we talk about it the van? The rear heater core is busted and Robin was helping heat up the inside. In case you hadn't noticed, it's fucking cold,” Lucien said. I glanced at Elliot who already had a hand behind my back and was guiding me to the sliding door. I climbed inside and took a seat in the back on a bench seat. Elliot sat next to me and I felt more comfortable with that despite being actually pinned into a corner. The door rumbled shut and Robin and Lucien took up places on the jump seats that faced rearward.
“You guys remember all the rumors last year about Luke Chambers and Mrs. Carter?” Elliot asked.
“Sure. It was a popular rumor,” Lucien replied. “So?”
“What if I told you it wasn't a rumor?” Elliot asked.
“Um. Ew?” Robin said, shaking his head. “That just...yuck.”
“If that was true...why didn't Luke say anything about it?” Lucien asked.
“He did. He told his dad,” Elliot replied. “His dad was proud of his kid for getting laid and told him to go back for seconds.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Robin exclaimed.
“I'm not. It messed him up, big time. He doesn't talk to anyone anymore, he doesn't sleep well...his folks had just gone through a divorce when she got into his pants. He can't relate to people, doesn't seem to care to even try...he's just...a zombie.” Elliot folded his hands in his lap. “I wanted him to tell someone else – a cop or something but he refused. He didn't want to be embarrassed. His dad told him, 'you actually want to get someone arrested who let you fuck her? Are you a fag or something?'”
“Just because I'm gay doesn't mean I want just any guy to come onto me,” Lucien said. Robin bumped him and he grinned. “I only want one to, but I can't imagine being coerced into sex.”
“Well, she's been at it again. This time, with my friend Devyn, here.”
Both sets of eyes swung to me and I felt an embarrassed flush rise in my face.
“Come on over,” Robin said stonily. “My dad will be home soon.”
I told the judge my story by laptop as he didn't read sign either. I actually felt better about that, because I didn't have to look at him while typing. He read my words – my accusations – against Mrs. Carter. He asked a few questions to clarify where I'd not been specific, but all in all it was very clinical, and I felt like I could handle that.
My mother was called and the Sheriff. The judge explained that I should have a parent with me while making a statement to the authorities. I was glad I didn't have to stay in the room while my mother read what I'd written. Her look of horror made my stomach lurch, but when she grabbed me I realized it was not me the horror was directed at, but over what had happened to me.
The sheriff asked very few questions, but transcribed what I'd written on the laptop to his own police report.
“Now, can you think of anyone else who she might have victimized?” the Sheriff asked.
I nodded. I typed on the screen, 'Luke Chambers. Ask Elliot.'
“Devyn, you're doing the right thing, here. I want you to understand that none of this is your doing. Mrs. Carter is the adult here, and she is responsible. Do you understand, son?” Judge Kirkwood asked.
I tried to nod but...I couldn't shake that I was a guy. Guys don't get taken advantage of, right? Not by women. Plus there was me getting aroused...
“Son,” the sheriff said. “I'm not sure what you've been told or if you talked to anyone else, but there are a few things you should know about being a child and a victim of sexual abuse.”
My mother inhaled a sharp breath and clutched my hand. I squeezed slightly but gave my attention to the sheriff.
“Kids sometimes feel like it was their fault. Boys especially think they should have been able to stop it. Sometimes boys feel like there is something wrong with them because the abuse wasn't something they wanted, but their body still responded.”
My eyes went wide.
“Devyn,” the judge picked up the conversation. “Sex is supposed to feel good. Frequently sexual assault victims are confused because their bodies reacted to the physical stimulation, even though it was unwanted. From what you described, it sounds like that happened. If you feel...confused, I hope that helps to ease your mind a touch.”
“Mrs. Kennedy, there are a few counselors we have contact with who may help your son to deal with some of the fallout of this kind of thing,” the sheriff said.
Elliot was called in, and my mother and I went out to the Kirkwoods' living room and sat. She was distressed, and I was becoming so from being near her.
“Devyn,” she said while folding her hands one over the other. “What did I miss? How could I have let this happen to you?”
'Not your fault,' I signed.
“But she...oh my God,” she covered her mouth. The situation would have deteriorated except that the Kirkwood boys joined us along with their mother, who invited mine to the kitchen for some tea. Elliot was in speaking to the sheriff, and of the four boys I only recognized Robin and Lucien. Robin sat beside me and placed his arm around my shoulders, his fingers moving slowly.
“You doing okay?” he asked.
I nodded and tried to smile. All I could think about was what was going to happen next. What if it turned out to be my word against hers? There might be TV or news people involved, and I'd get branded as a liar – the idea made me sick.
“My dad will get this sorted out,” Robin assured me.
“Will someone please tell us what's going on?” a smaller boy asked, a tinge of frustration in his voice. I had a feeling it wasn't the first time he'd asked.
“Jamie, we told you, it's personal,” Lucien said tiredly. I glanced at Jamie and his frown. I held my fingers up to get his attention and then began signing what had happened. He looked at me in confusion, frowning at his inability to decipher what I was doing. Not so his twin, who gasped. Too late, I realized this gambit had backfired. I'd assumed Jamie wouldn't know sign, but apparently his brother did.
“What?” Jamie asked his twin. “You understood that?”
“Yeah. Trust me, Jamie. You don't want to know.”
I looked at the face of the other boy, filled with pity and just shrugged. Soon, everyone would look at me that way.
Elliot rejoined us, and then we were breaking up for the evening. Elliot had introduced himself to my mom and asked if I could come over Saturday, since we'd missed out on our jam time today.
“You guys play music? Like what?” the quiet twin asked.
“Elliot plays piano,” Robin offered.
I glanced at the boy, whose name I didn't know. I decided I liked that he'd not been crass enough to tell his twin what I'd said in front of me – although I was under no illusions that it wouldn't be discussed later. I signed to him, 'Why don't you come listen?'
He wiggled his fingers, 'Okay.'
“Hey, are you guys setting up a date or something?” Jamie asked suspiciously, a gleam in his eye. I glanced back at the other and gave him a wry grin.
'He's not invited.'
He burst out laughing. “My name is Sean,” he said while holding his hand out. I shook it, knowing he already knew my name. Unfortunately, I was afraid a lot more people were going to know it soon enough.
“So...what was it you guys were saying?” Robin asked when Jamie and Sean had left the room. I pulled out my phone and put down, 'I invited them to listen to Elliot and me jam tomorrow.'
“Oh? Jeez, could have asked me first, you know? What if I wanted a little Dev time, huh? Huh?” Elliot said, bumping my shoulder with his. “Now look, two more guys might want to come over. You've invited people to a party at my house!”
“Well, you couldn't ask me to just drop my little brother off at a stranger's house, could you?” Robin said with a grin.
“Yes, yes you could,” Lucien said.
“I meant Sean, Lucien.”
“Oh. Right. No, you can't.”
“I heard that!” Jamie called from somewhere.
“Well, Dev, how about I pick you up at ten and then these guys can come over about two?” he said, glancing between Robin and Lucien. They nodded, and Elliot continued, “Okay. I'll see if I can get Sara and Trent to come over too. We can have a real jam session!”
The sheriff told us his department would be following up on the allegations and we would be kept informed. He also advised my mother to move me out of Mrs. Carter's class on Monday morning.
It was a weird evening at home. My mother was despondent and continued to blame herself. She insisted on driving me to Elliot's the next day and met his parents before she'd agree to leave me alone. Elliot's home was far different from my blue collar home. The walls were all two tone, the bottoms a white wainscoting and the walls done in solid colors up to the ceiling. The furniture looked expensive, and I was suddenly uncomfortable, knowing I didn't quite fit.
Elliot gave me a whirlwind tour of the house, quickly showing me a space in the basement where we could play – there were some sound dampening tiles on the ceiling and walls of the small space. Then he led me back to his room and we sat on his bed.
“So, Sara and Trent will be here about one thirty. I figured we could use a few minutes, huh?”
I nodded slowly. His room was spacious and his bed much larger than mine – a queen, perhaps.
“So...wow. Weird few days, huh?” he asked, rubbing his hands on his pants.
I nodded again and mimed throwing up.
“Yeah, I hear ya. I mean, I want to get laid, but I think she's past her sell by date, you know?” he chuckled.
I nodded slowly and wondered again about Elliot. Was he flirting with me? How could I tell? I pulled out my phone and tapped the screen and then showed him. 'She wasn't your type?'
“No, no way,” he laughed. “Dating is tough for me. I've dated a bunch of girls, but they are a lot like friends I've had. We get along, things seem okay, but then none of them takes any enjoyment from the things that I like to do. That's why I'm reaching out to you, Dev. You and I already love music and we seem to get along, you know? Dev?”
I looked down at my shoes. Shit, he was straight.
“Hey, did I say something?”
Yes. Now I felt a little stupid. He nudged me.
“Devyn, I really hate that you can't talk because my normal tactic would be to tickle you into talking...wait, I can still do that!” he said with a grin.
My eyebrows went up and I shook my head at him but that was no deterrent as he dug his fingers into my ribs. I squirmed, and my stupid wheezing laugh could barely be heard over his grunting as he accosted me and the squeaks of the bed as we rolled across it. I was finally able to shove him backward, and he sat back, panting and grinning at me as I caught my breath.
“Okay, tell me or it's round two!” he said, wiggling his fingers in the air. I held a hand out and waved it at him, frowning. I hunted around as I'd dropped my phone in the attack and, once I'd found it, began hammering the virtual keyboard.
'My Uncles grab me and call me names and tickle me because I'm too small to fight them off. I don't like being tickled.'
“Oh. Oh, I'm sorry Dev,” he said, very contrite. “I was just fooling around. I won't do it anymore, I promise.”
I nodded, still a little put out. I hated feeling like that. So...powerless.
“Are you upset about last night? I mean, you know, about all that stuff?”
'I'm worried,' I typed. 'Stuff will be in the news – people will know who accused her.'
“No, they don't do things like that. Identify the victims, I mean,” he sighed. “You were a victim, Dev. She's was wrong here, not you.”
I tilted my head side to side. 'I'm a guy. I should have been able to fight her off.'
“Dude, she was a college athlete. I'm not sure I could have fought her off, and I think I just proved I can tickle you like nobody's business!” he said with a grin and wiggled his fingertips at me.
I pursed my lips. 'You promised.'
“I know, I'm kidding,” he said with a chuckle. “Still, I bet it's like that with you all the time.”
I tilted my head and cocked an eyebrow at him.
“You know, with the girls. You have everything they want – trust me, I've been hearing it from Tricia since you joined the band!” He rolled his eyes and tried to imitate Tricia's voice, “He's got such beautiful hair and those blue eyes, to die for! He's so cute, I just want to tuck him in my purse and save him to make out with later!”
I couldn't help but to laugh at him.
“Now see, that,” he said, pointing a finger at me, “is actually kind of cool. Don't ask me why, but I like your laugh. Now, she told me to ask if I got the chance – are you interested in Tricia?”
I raised an eyebrow and shook my head.
“Oh, well, tough for her. Jesus, now she's going to want me to analyze why! Can you tell me why?”
I glanced away from him and he made a drawn out sound, sounding like he was teasing. “Aww, you got your eye on someone, don't you?”
I held my hand up flat, in a motion to stop.
“You didn't take Sara seriously, did you? No, you're too smart. So it's someone outside the band, huh? Do I know her? Come on, dude!”
'I'm gay.' I typed.
I nodded slowly.
“No way. Tricia will lose her mind! Listen,” he said quickly, “she means well but she's going to think you'll be her best friend now. She'll also tell you all the things she loves about you since there is no chance you'll date her.”
“What's wrong? You weren't afraid to come out to me, were you?” he said, his face looking truly hurt. I mixed a head tilt with a shrug, letting him know I was kind of worried – more because I'd been slowly falling for him than anything else.
“Oh, come on! Why would you...hey.” His face drew into a thoughtful expression and he spoke slowly, carefully. “Would I be too...full of myself if I asked if you had your eye on...me?”
I gave him a mix of the head tilt and the shrug, but then I started to nod as well. I was the flirting hunchback.
“Oh. Oh!” he said. “Wow, really? All the guys in the school, and you picked me?”
I looked away, embarrassed and then looked at him from the side of my eye.
“Hey. We can't let this thing come between us, okay? I'm guessing you feel kind of weird right now, but me? After everything Tricia said about you? I'm feeling pretty damn good someone like that was interested in me! Tricia never says anything nice about me!”
I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or frown at him – so my face tried all three at once.
“Hey! Don't look at me like that! I'm happy anytime someone likes me, I don't care if you're brain damaged – I still appreciate the sentiment,” he said with a smile. “Plus, I feel pretty good knowing I can attract both sexes. Sort of. Actually, girls always break up with me. Why do you think that is?”
I couldn't resist. 'I told them you were mine.' I giggled. Well, sort of.
“Oh, really? So if I want a date, I gotta take you? It'll make the girls jealous, but what do I get out of it?” he grinned. I grabbed his pillow and smacked him with it.
He pushed past me to get his own pillow and the fight was on. It really wasn't much of a fight, we each got in a few hits and then we were too close to effectively swing the pillow. I had tried to stand to get some leverage, but he'd pushed me with his pillow and I'd crashed back onto the bed, bringing my pillow up like a shield.
“That won't save you!” he cackled maniacally, swinging his pillow. I was laughing and trying to fend off his attacks when he plopped himself back down on the bed, breathing hard. He glanced at me and raised an eyebrow.
“So, listen, seriously. How come you think girls always break up with me? I mean, outside of they don't want to listen to me play piano?”
'Are they stupid? I love listening to you play.'
“Yeah, but you love music just like me. In fact, a ton of people love music. But when I date someone it seems like they want me to give up everything else I like and do what they want, you know?”
I shrugged. 'Sorry, I don't.'
“Well, what's your secret? How come whoever you're with wants to do things that you do?”
'I haven't dated...Mrs. Carter took away my first kiss from me.'
“Seriously? That's fucked up.” He shook his head and looked down at his hands. “My first kiss wasn't as bad as yours, I guess. But it wasn't anything to brag about, either.”
I nudged him to continue. He gave me a crooked grin.
“I was dating Amy Ross and she had braces. I cut my tongue,” he said with a giggle. I started laughing with him. “The rest of them were like kissing dead fish. Honestly, I'm wondering if...hey. I just thought of something.”
I waited and, when he continued to sit as if he'd mentally checked out, I nudged him again. He glanced at me and a smile spread from one corner of his mouth, slowly making its way to the other end.
“I just had a dumb thought,” he said bashfully. “Seems like both our kissing experiences were...somewhat lacking, as Mr. Norris would say. I thought, maybe...”
My eyes shot open. Was Elliot suggesting we kiss? 'You want to kiss me?'
“Jeez!” he laughed. “Okay, look though. I'm just thinking we both have a shitty kissing history. But, I don't have a lot to compare to – I've only kissed a couple girls. You kissed the Crypt Keeper, so...”
I shoved him and he giggled some more.
“Okay, okay,” he held up a hand. “I'm just saying. I can't be as bad as her, and maybe you can show me what I'm doing wrong, huh?”
I decided not to point out the holes in his logic. The important part was I'd have a kiss to wipe away Mrs. Carter with, and it was coming from Elliot, which was pretty damn cool.
“Okay, so...uh. Kind of uncomfortable sitting down, right? We should stand,” he said as he gained his feet. I stood next to him and he looked down into my eyes. “Uh, maybe we should have you stand on a chair...”
I pulled him down to me and placed my lips on his. So soft and he smelled so good! Our faces turned slightly as I felt his tongue tickling my lips, and I opened my mouth, allowing my own tongue out. My eyes were open, but his were closed – not shut tight like he was anticipating something unpleasant but more that he was enjoying it. I made a few pecks to finish off the kiss and he leaned back.
“Wow. I mean, you are way better than Amy Ross!” he said with a grin. I admit, I was feeling pretty good as well – I don't know what those girls were thinking, but Elliot could flat out kiss!
“Jeez,” he said, a look of confusion coming over his face. “What does that mean? Are you just good at kissing and I stink?”
'Hell no. You know what you're doing!'
“You think?” he smiled, a little shy for the first time. “I just wonder how come...kissing them wasn't as...”
I tilted my head and waited for him as he stumbled around, looking for the words he wanted.
“This is just weird!” he said, lifting his hands in the air. “I just...I'm confused.”
“About...why your kiss seemed so much better. I mean,” he ran a hand through his hair. “I've kissed maybe five, six girls? Dated four of them. I was thinking I must be really bad at kissing...”
I shook my head firmly. That was definitely not the case.
“But what are the odds I'd get five or six girls in a row that can't kiss? I was the common factor there, it makes sense it was me. But you say that's not true...what does that mean?”
He sat down on his bed, and I joined him but not sitting close enough to crowd him. I wasn't sure what he was trying to figure out – it didn't make much sense to me. What I did know was that the memory of Mrs. Carter's greasy mouth was fading hard under the memory of Elliot's kiss. He was so...pretty. Wow, I'd never really thought of that as a compliment when it came to guys, but it was a good word for him. He was pretty and he was nice. Good personality...but what was going on behind those pretty eyes?
“Does this mean...” he licked his lips and glanced at me. “Do you think this means I could be gay?”
I shrugged. 'Does it matter?'
“Sort of. I guess. I don't know,” he said and tossed his hands in the air. “I just...I thought I knew who I was, what I liked. Now I kiss a boy and all of a sudden...I want to kiss him some more.”
I touched his hand, just to get his attention. 'I'm okay with that.'
“I don't think that's fair to you, Devyn,” he said while shaking his head. “I don't know where my head is right now. I thought I was pretty straight, you know? I can tell if a guy is attractive – like you – but I never thought about it anymore than that.”
'Not fair how?'
“Well, you are already...interested in me. I don't know exactly what I want, so it's not really right to, maybe, string you along while I figure that out, is it?”
'But...what if you decide dating a boy is okay? What if I miss out?'
“Dev, you'll have all kinds of guys, I'm sure,” Elliot said, a flush highlighting his cheeks.
'But, like you said, we have something in common to fall back on.' I hesitated and then typed out, 'I like you. You have a good personality and...I'm willing to see what happens, if you are.'
“That's nice of you, Devyn but...I don't know.” He sighed and one corner of his mouth drew into a look of consternation. “I'm...hey. What if it was just a one time thing? Like, the kiss was good because it was the first time, huh? Like, a novelty?”
'Did you just call kissing me a novelty?'
“Uh. Well. What I mean is...”
'Wait, I know how to solve this.' His face barely had time to register confusion as I leaned in. There wasn't much more than a moment's hesitation on his part as he met me in the middle. His lips were just as soft, his scent just as vibrant – and his tongue still popped out, and I was ready for that, too. I leaned a bit closer, putting a hand behind his head and I felt his arms snake around me in return. Yes, I'd wait for him to figure it out – but a few kisses never hurt anyone, right?
The jam session was phenomenal! I'd never been part of one, considering my instrument, but we played the song we were learning – minus Tricia – and then there were a few more from the same band that we tried. Then it was just a jam, one thing feeding off another.
Robin and Lucien seemed to be enjoying it and, at some point, Elliot let Sean have a go with his piano. Sean wasn't as accomplished, and the rhythm wasn't as good, but he tried hard and showed he had some talent. Jamie was kind of a surprise because he was effusive with his praise for his twin, which wasn't what I'd necessarily expected. I guess that'll teach me to judge someone.
After everyone left it was back to just Elliot and me. He played and I accompanied him, following his changes and tempo. After a bit it became a game of how fast I could follow him or match him. We finally stopped, grinning at each other. I broke down my flute and he covered his upright piano. As I closed my case and stood he took a step closer to me and I looked up into his eyes.
“So...I think your kisses are cheating.”
I looked at him innocently.
“I think you know you're good at this and you're trying to influence me.”
I put a hand on my chest and widened my eyes in surprise.
“Yes, you,” he smiled crookedly. “I just...I want you to know, I like girls. I have liked girls and I don't want you to get hurt.”
I pulled my phone out. 'Just promise that if you decide I'm not what you want, we can still be friends?'
“Wouldn't that make things weird?” he asked shifting from foot to foot.
'El, your kiss showed me how good kissing can be. I can't help it that I want more of that. But we can keep this casual, for now. If we find people we want to date, we can. But...if we decide to make us official, then there's no fooling with anyone else.'
“You're making it hard to turn down,” he said shakily.
'I know you aren't sure, yet. I am. I can wait for you.'
“But...what if I decide I want to date girls? What then?”
'At best, I can tell them what a good kisser you are.'
Sunday started out as such a good day. I awoke from a dream of endlessly kissing Elliot. He didn't have to decide anything beyond that – it was a dream, after all – and the kiss just went on and on. Waking, I felt a smile cross my face and felt good about the world and life in general. It didn't even matter that it was Sunday and there would be football on TV and we'd have some of the Uncles over. At least my mother would be home today.
After a shower I selected the pink socks that were given to me with such derision the previous week. In fact, I was feeling so good, I decided to forego putting on slippers just so the fuckers could see them. I grabbed my phone and sent a text to Elliot.
I dreamed about kissing you.
I set the phone down while I went back to getting dressed. Jeans and a sweatshirt and a tee to go under it. I thought of Elliot in his basement, playing the piano. Then I thought of climbing onto his lap while he was on the piano bench and just making out. I felt a blush hit my face and decided to save that for a future meeting. My phone buzzed and I went to check.
Funny that. I dreamed about you dreaming about kissing me!
I shook from silent laughter, a grin spread out across my face. I headed downstairs to put my laundry in and then helped my mother with some cleaning up. My dad was in his chair and my Uncles began arriving by noon.
“Hey, Muttley! Those socks are totally you!” Ted teased.
'Real men can wear pink.' I signed.
“Dale, he's doing it again,” Ted shook his head as he took a seat. “Hey princess, get your Uncle Ted a beer, eh?”
I went to the fridge and shook it vigorously. I grabbed a glass, that I knew he'd decline, and politely handed it to him.
“Nah, no glass. You'd make a good waitress... aw, fuck!” he exclaimed as the beer exploded on him and continued to fizz and dribble, soaking his shirt and pants. “You fucking shit heel!”
I danced back from him, laughing to myself. Served the fucker right.
“I'm going to fucking kill you!” he said, rising from the couch in a rage. I flipped him off defiantly as my mother entered the room.
“What's your problem now, Ted?” she demanded.
“That little girl of yours shook my beer!”
“Then you should have gotten up off your lazy ass and gotten it yourself!” she said tartly. “I've told you enough times, Devyn is not your waiter.”
“Waitress is more like it,” Ted grumbled.
“Lay off the kid. Jesus,” my dad grumbled. “I'll hear about it all week if you don't.”
“That's the only reason you stand up for your son?” My mother rounded on my father, who rolled his eyes and waved a hand at her. “He brings home good grades, he helps around the house, and all you can do is wish he were more of a macho asshole like you?”
“Oh, come on, Alice! I just want to watch the game – yell at Ted! He's the one that started with him!”
“No! You're his father, God help him! You shouldn't let your asshole brothers talk to your son that way!” she said.
“Alice, can I get a towel or something?” Ted asked.
“Blow it out your ass, Ted,” she grumbled. His retort was cut off by the front door bursting open and my other moron uncle burst in.
“Dale! Put it on the news! Someone got shot over at the apartments by the school!”
My dad flipped through the channels, but there was no dedicated newscast. He moved back to the channel with football while Uncle Frank, the moron, flapped his gums about hearing some of the details on the police scanner in his truck. Then a band appeared at the bottom of the screen and a ticker began to run stating there had been a murder suicide, more details when they became available.
We were all glued to the TV with my dad demanding Frank try to remember what he heard when the TV switched over to a live newscaster.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, tragedy strikes in downtown Sanitaria Springs today,” the screen moved to a live fed of the apartment complex near the high school. “Late this morning this local apartment complex was the scene of a murder suicide. Twenty-six year old Belinda Carter was found shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide. The local police have not released the identity of her attacker, and the investigation is ongoing.”
Oh no. I dashed to the stairs as my phone was in my room. There were no messages. It was stupid, likely, but in my panicked state all I could think was that Elliot had cracked overnight, somehow, in his confusion and had gone after Mrs. Carter for God alone knew what reason. I sent him a text, 'Are you okay?'
My mother burst through the door, “Why did you run? What's wrong?”
Setting the phone down I began to sign, 'I'm worried about Elliot. He knew what happened of course and...he kissed me. I'm afraid he's freaked out.'
“Oh. I see,” she said. Her eyes wandered for a moment in thought before she asked, “Has he texted back?”
'No. Can we go to his house?'
“And leave your Uncles behind? Let me find my purse,” she laughed. She paused and looked back at me. “Did you...kiss him back?”
I blushed and nodded, unable to keep the smile from my face.
“I'm glad, baby. He seemed very nice. Okay, let's go!”
The ride of a few miles seemed to take a lot longer than it should have. I was bouncing the phone on my leg, growing more worried that he hadn't sent me a response. Of course, he could just be embarrassed about yesterday and unwilling to respond or he could be sleeping or...he could have put a bullet in Mrs. Carter and then himself. I shook as a cold hand ran up my spine.
Then we were there. I didn't see Elliot's car, and my heart fell. I went to the door quickly and knocked, shifting nervously on my feet. At last, the door opened and his mother stood before me.
“Hi, Devyn, what a nice surprise. Won't you come in? Hi, Alice!”
“Hi, Jackie. I'm sorry to be short, but we were watching the news and Devyn got very worried about Elliot. Is he home?”
“Yes, he should be in his room,” she said as she closed the door. “What's happened?”
I signed to my mom, 'Where is his car?'
She relayed the message to Mrs. Lindley.
“Oh, his father took it. Something about an adjustment or something – I wasn't paying attention.”
I was relieved and headed back to Elliot's room. I tapped on the door and entered, not finding him. But then he walked in from a door on the far side of the room wrapped in just a towel.
I ran to him and clutched him to me – he was safe! I didn't quite believe it until I saw him. No matter how reasonable I tried to be, I was afraid for him.
“Whoa! Hey, don't think I don't know this is a ploy to get me to drop my towel!” he said with a chuckle. All of a sudden, I realized my cheek was pressed to his chest – his bare chest, of course. Which was slightly damp from his shower. Oh dear.
I backed up, a little embarrassed, but then stopped. He was slender and soft, his stomach flat but not ripped by any stretch. His pecs were not those of a body builder or athlete, but were still very nice. I felt myself responding and, having noticed, glanced down to see that he was in a similar state. Thank goodness – I was back to getting hard over boys!
“Uh, so I'm going to grab some clothes,” he said with a little smile.
I tilted my head down, but kept my eyes on him. I smiled and shrugged.
“Um. I don't know if I'm ready for...you know...”
I pulled out my phone. 'I was worried when you didn't answer my text. But I have an idea.'
“Can the idea wait until I put clothes on?” he asked bashfully.
I let him read it and then pulled his head down toward me. He didn't resist, even a little. As we kissed, I left one hand behind his head and put one on his back, touching the hot skin. Not only was I stiff as a board, but I could feel him pressing into my stomach. I instantly felt better about myself – desirable. Elliot was turned on – and then it hit me. I pulled back violently, stumbling, and used the wall to hold myself up.
Elliot's body was flushed, his lips full from the kiss, and he was fully hard beneath the towel. “Why'd you stop?” he asked, using a hand to adjust the towel and keep it around his waist.
I exhaled, releasing a breath I hadn't realized I was holding. He wasn't upset. I shook my head and slid down the wall. He passed me and closed his door, then passed me again. I heard his drawers open and close and the sound of cloth sliding over his skin. Then he was pulling my hands, lifting me back up.
“You got my attention,” he said. He was dressed, now, in jeans and a tee shirt. He hadn't taken the time to put socks on. I pulled out my phone and found the video from the news and, steering him to the bed, I sat beside him to watch it.
His eyes were wide. “Holy shit! Oh, oh no. Oh, Luke,” he said, shaking his head. He pulled his own phone out and sent a text to his friend, Luke Chambers, but I think we both realized now that Luke was dead.
I understood, then, what must have happened. The police must have gone to interview Luke, and something must have snapped in him from that discussion.
“He's not answering,” Elliot said, his voice flat. “He must have taken one of his dad's guns. Jesus,” he said as he ran a hand through his hair.
I placed a hand on his shoulder, and he set his phone down and turned into me, pulling me to a hug. There was a tap at the door, and I tried to pull back, but El held me firm.
“Come in,” he said.
His mom came in, and I could hear the sympathy in her voice. “Oh, Elliot. I'm so sorry. Was she one of your teachers?”
“Mom,” he said, slowly disengaging from me. “I think it was Luke that killed her.”
“Why would you think that?” she asked, her voice full of concern.
“Because...she had an affair with him last year. His dad didn't think...didn't think that...” he shook his head. “It doesn't matter, now. I lost Luke a long time ago.”
“Honey,” she said softly. “Maybe Devyn should go for now.”
“No. I need him here. Please.”
“Oh. Well, I guess it's okay for a bit. I'll just be out in the kitchen. Devyn, your mom is going to head home, okay?”
I nodded and, as soon as she turned, held Elliot in my arms again.
“You are confusing me so bad,” he said to me. I tried to pull back to ask him what he was talking about, but he held me tighter. “I never used to think about boys – not really. Then you kissed me, and all I can think about is kissing you some more.”
I felt relieved. My concern that I was forcing the issue like Mrs. Carter had done to me had upset me. To hear that he craved my affection was more than gratifying. I let my hands rub up and down his back and he shuddered.
“I don't understand what it is about you. You,” he hesitated and then said softly, in my ear as if he were afraid of ears outside his door. “You saw I got...hard.”
I nodded, my face being tickled by his hair.
“No boy...I'm in new territory, here. You understand?”
I did. I pulled back slowly, his pretty eyes focused on mine. I brought my phone out and began to type.
'Mrs. Carter made me hard when she touched me. I can't understand why – she never attracted me. When I saw you were...hard...I felt like I was taking advantage of you.'
“Uh, no. You're not taking advantage,” he bobbed his head. “I'm feeling a little strange, but I'm okay with it. As far as what she did...dude, I don't know about you? But sometimes, I'll be sitting in class and I just get hard. Add to that someone stroking you, whoever it is...I can understand. Sometimes it's like dicks have minds of their own.”
I pursed my lips. Could it be as simple as that? Was my dick just responding to being touched and it wasn't very interested in who it was? Elliot crawled up onto the bed and laid his head on the pillow. He held an arm out to me, and I kicked off my shoes and lay next to him.
“I like your socks,” he said, glancing down at my pink clad feet. I wiggled my toes and smiled at him.
“So...you just going to lie there, or are you going to kiss me?”
As details emerged it turned out that Mrs. Carter liked to film things. The police found evidence of at least four other victims and then, after further research, it was found that she'd resigned at her last school in a deal to keep things quiet. I'll never understand why criminals keep things that point out their own guilt.
My parents were told I'd been filmed on Mrs. Carter's phone and the details of those recordings. My mother was, of course, upset. My father seemed mystified. They had another fight about how stupid my mother felt he was – and we moved out. I don't have to deal with my dad or his moron brothers anymore. In fact, the only good thing I got from them were the pink socks – Elliot loves them.
I also discovered that kissing him while we were both on the piano bench took practice. Those things tip easier than you'd think.