They say everyone has a double, a doppelganger, someone who’s their mirror image. What if you just met your double? What if you were a thirteen-year-old kid who’s gay and you just met your double?
Everyone agreed with my suggestion that we should focus on our next game, Clayton Valley. After that game we could focus on our next game with Riverview, then on our last game with College Park.
The reason I wanted to focus on this game was Clayton Valley was our only non-league opponent. They were a major competitor for first place in the Times freshman football poll. If we were lucky and both De La Salle and Northgate lost a game, and we won all three of our games, then we would have a chance at being ranked the number one freshman football team in the North Coast Section. So far they were both unbeaten. But that had to change. They’d played each other today.
“Hey, Jiago, can you find the score of the De La Salle — Northgate freshman game?” I asked.
“Lemme look. That’s a game that the Times should be following.” He focused on his cell, then looked up and grinned. “Believe it or not, the Northgate freshmen beat De La Salle 17 to 14. Now Northgate has to lose one or two of their remaining games. They play Monte Vista next, then Freedom, then Orland. Their game against Orland is gonna be an easy win for them. We gotta hope that Freedom’s tough enough to catch a win, and we know Monte Vista’s no slouch. De La Salle plays Burbank, then Monte Vista, and then SRV and all three of ’em are tough. So maybe there’s hope for us after all.
“Lemme see what Monte Vista did today.” He searched for the score, and that took a few minutes. “Okay. Monte Vista played San Ramon Valley and… oh my god, they lost 12 to 0! SRV won three and lost two of their other games. Now, looks like we need to pray that Northgate loses one or two of the games they have left. Hoping’s not gonna be good enough. We gotta win all three of our games and that oughta put us in good shape to compete for first place.”
“Our next two are away games,” Rick said. “That’s going to make them both tougher to beat. Since it’s Clayton Valley’s homecoming, they’ll have a big crowd in the stands cheering them on.”
“What about Riverview?” I asked.
“I don’t know if it’s their homecoming, but those guys are doing okay. Hey, Jiago, who’d they play today?”
“Campo. I’ve been checking, and so far I can’t find the score. But they only had one loss before today, against Lehman, 9 to 7.”
“I like playing against the best teams at the end of the season,” Marjory said. “We’ve been sharpening our game and I think we’re as good as or better than all three of the teams we’ll be playing.”
I grinned. “I agree!” I shouted. That started one of our team yells, and when we finished everyone was smiling.
I met Todd, Brian, and Heather and we walked home.
“What do you guys have planned for the weekend?” Brian asked.
“Homework,” I said. “I was loaded down with a ton of stuff. I guess the teachers figured that since homecoming was over we’d have lots of time for our studies.”
“Me too,” Todd said. “The worst are Computer Tech, Spanish 3, and Biology. All three are all about memorizing words.”
“What words do you have to memorize for Computer Tech?” Heather asked.
“We’re learning PHP now, so it’s memorizing the language, the commands. Like defining variables for numbers and text, testing variable so you can take action, using functions to connect to a database, operators for doing things like arithmetic and working with strings.”
“That sounds totally foreign to me,” she said. “Is it easy?”
“Actually, it is. You should take Computer Tech. There are three girls in my class, and there should be more.”
“Hmm… you know, that’s a good idea. I think I’ll take it as an elective next year.”
“We oughta get credit for Computer Tech as a science class,” Brian said.
“That makes sense,” Todd agreed.
I spent most of my Saturday doing homework, with a break for lunch. I got tired memorizing the new Spanish vocabulary words we’d been assigned. Problem was, it wasn’t just memorizing the words. It was memorizing how they fit in sentences, and the grammar. I found Spanish grammar convoluted and complicated and hard to understand and memorize. But I’d never get an A in Spanish 3 unless I could nail all of this so it would become second nature. Then I’d have a chance to ace the final. Otherwise… no A.
I gave up around three o’clock and lay in bed with my tablet to read for a while. Instead I fell asleep and didn’t wake up until Todd came in and woke me at four-thirty.
“Tony, your folks are here. Get up and come downstairs.”
I yawned, and that made Todd yawn, which made both of us laugh.
“Okay. Lemme wash my face and comb my hair and I’ll be right down.”
While I splashed cold water on my face, I wondered if my folks were here to see me, or just here to visit Aunt Nora and Uncle Dennis. I wiped my face, finger-combed my hair until it looked okay, and went downstairs.
“Hi, Mom, Dad.” I sat down.
“Hi, Tony,” Mom said. “We have a surprise for you.”
“What’s that? You bought me a Microsoft Surface tablet?”
“Fat chance,” Dad said. “We bought the house in Davis.”
“Which one?” I asked.
“The one with the pool that you and Todd came with us to see.”
“That’s the big one with lots of bedrooms and bathrooms, isn’t it?” Todd asked.
“Yes. We made an offer, contingent on a clean inspection, and they accepted the offer. We hired an inspection service and they gave the house, and the pool and its equipment, a clean bill of health.”
“So when do you move in?” I asked.
“They want a forty-five day close. That means the house will be ours on the first of December.”
“I thought they needed a lot more time while their new house was being build or something like that?”
“Apparently their new house is close enough to being finished that they agreed that the house is ours in forty-five days.”
“Can they back out?” Uncle Dennis asked.
“Nope. They accepted the contract and we’ll get the keys from the title company on Monday, the first of December.”
“What about our house here?” I asked. “You still have to sell it, right?”
“Right, except we’ve sold it already. The buyer is moving here from Minnesota and wanted the close to be next year, on the first of January, for some sort of tax reason. We’ll have to move everything between December first and the week after Christmas.”
“We’d like you to help with packing things we don’t want the mover to handle, Tony,” Mom said.
“Can it be on Christmas break? That starts on the Monday before Christmas and I go back to school on January fifth.”
Dad grinned and nodded.
“So I guess that’s okay.”
“I was thinking that you might want to move to the new house when we move in, Tony,” Mom said.
“We already talked about this. I don’t understand why you’re bringing it up again. I can’t move to Davis until the tenth grade. The second semester at Davis starts on the fifth of January. The same semester at Wilson doesn’t end until Friday, January 23rd. When am I supposed to finish my classes and take my midterm exams here?
“Even worse, it means I’d be going to the ninth grade at Davis in a junior high school instead of going to Davis High School. No way am I going back to junior high school. I need to stay here and go to Wilson until I’ve finished the ninth grade. You already agreed to that.”
“Tony, I’ve arranged for you to talk to a counselor at Davis High on Tuesday. We can discuss all of what you’ve told me and see what she recommends. We’ll leave at eight o’clock and drive to Davis first thing for a meeting with her at nine. After the meeting you’ll go on a campus tour led by a student. You’ll have lunch in their cafeteria, then I’ll drive you to Wilson and you’ll be back in time for your afternoon classes.”
“Okay, fine with me. You’ll have to go to Wilson on Monday and get me excused from the classes I’ll miss Tuesday.”
“Yes, I’ll get that taken care of. Can you talk to your teachers in your morning classes and get your homework assignments for Tuesday?”
“I don’t need to ask for my assignments. They’ll be posted on the school’s Blackboard system on the internet. I’ll look them up tomorrow night.”
“Alright, then. This should work out okay,” she said.
“I still have homework to finish. If it’s okay I’ll go upstairs and get it done.”
“Yes, that’s okay, Tony,” Dad said.
“Yeah, me too,” Todd said. Uncle Dennis nodded that it was okay.
Before I turned around and headed upstairs I saw Mom’s expression. It make me think she would have preferred that I stuck around so she could keep harping on my moving to Davis after this semester. That really pissed me off.
When Todd and I got upstairs he followed me into my room. I turned around and looked at him. He stood with his fists on his hips, glaring at me.
“Don’t say it,” I said.
He grinned. “You’re acting like a brat again.”
“Aaaak! I said don’t say it!”
“I have to say it because somebody has to say it. There’s better ways to get your mom off your back than to get into a heated battle that you’re more likely to lose than win. And in front of my folks, too.”
“So what should I do? I already said I’d waste my Christmas vacation packing and moving and unpacking my stuff and probably lots of other stuff like from the kitchen and the laundry room and the garage. I already said I’d go on that stupid visit to see a counselor at Davis High. Then she’s gotta pull the ‘you’ve gotta move before your school year is over’ thing again. She just can’t let it go!”
“You sound pissed. Just like you sounded pissed when you talked to her. She didn’t say anything like you’ve gotta move. She said that you might want to move. That’s a huge difference. You could have said something like, ‘I need to finish this school year here because they don’t offer the classes I need to take next semester.’ Then your folks wouldn’t have been pissed off at you the way they are now. You’re just making it harder on yourself.”
“I don’t know if they don’t offer the classes I need to take next semester.”
“What difference does that make? None, IMO. You’ll be talking to that counselor at Davis High and find out anyway. If you’d said that then you would’ve left it without being all petulant and having your mom and dad both pissed at you.”
“Petulant? I’m not being petulant.”
“Yes, you are. And you know you are.”
“Maybe I’m being a brat, but I’m not being petulant. Hell, I don’t even know what ‘petulant’ means.”
“When I read it in a story I didn’t know what it meant either, so I looked it up. It means you’re easily irritated or annoyed.”
“That is what I am, I am being easily irritated and annoyed when Mom keeps bringing up my moving to Davis before the end of the school year. That sounds the same as being a brat to me.”
“No, being a brat means you’re acting like a little child who wants everything his way. Of course, you’re also acting like a brat. A petulant brat.” Todd grinned.
“I’ll show you a petulant brat,” I shouted, then jumped and grabbed him. We ended up on the floor wrestling. But we were laughing so much that we finally separated and laid side by side panting, trying to catch our breaths.
“Maybe you’re right,” I said, “I probably am being a petulant brat. But now there’s no doubt that they know that I don’t want to… erase that, that I can’t move to Davis before next school year. And I think the Davis High counselor will agree with me.”
“You’d better have all your ducks in a row on that one, Tony. Talk to your counselor at school here and figure out what would happen if you left school early to go to whatever junior high in Davis you’d be going to. Like, how do you finish your classes here, how do you take your midterm exams.
“Which brings up another question. Why aren’t you seeing a counselor at the junior high where they have a ninth grade instead of one at Davis High where they don’t have a ninth grade? Maybe that’s good for you. The Davis High counselor might say you’d have to see a junior high counselor.”
“That’s bad. That’ll mean I’d have to take more time off school and football practice to go see yet another counselor up there.”
“Yeah, I suppose so. Also, they must be used to transfer students coming into the schools where the timing is all screwed up like yours.”
“About having all my ducks in a row, I just thought about something. How can I register for second semester in Davis without having my final grades for this semester at Wilson? You know, I’m gonna have to start making a list of impediments to my moving to Davis before the end of this school year.”
“That, cousin, is the smartest thing you’ve said in a long time.”
I sat down with my tablet and started entering the things I’d said that were problems transferring from Wilson High to some unnamed junior high school in Davis. I listed the classes I’d taken at Carver; the classes I was taking now; my current transcript that Mrs. Brownlee, my Wilson counselor, gave me; the classes I planned to take in my sophomore year; football; and so on. I listed the difference between the end of the semester at Wilson and the beginning of the semester at Davis. And a lot more that kept coming to mind as I entered it in my tablet so I’d be able to refer to it when I met with the counselor.
I spent Sunday with Scott. We started by walking downtown and wandering around at the mall. Then we stopped for lunch at Asado, a new Mexican restaurant where the food was really good even if it was a little pricey. Then we went to the Cineplex and watched Drive Hard, an action-crime-comedy movie about a guy who takes a driving lesson and during the lesson he’s forced to rob a bank. The driving instructor ends up having to drive the get-away car to escape from the police and from mobsters who want their money — well, it gets a little complicated.
After the movie we walked all the way to my former house. My folks weren’t there, so Scott and I went upstairs to my former room and… well, the rest is way too personal to talk about.
After, my folks still weren’t there so we walked to Scott’s house. Scott’s folks were out but Josh was there, so the three of us played video games on Scott’s PS4. Their folks got home around five o’clock, and Scott’s mom asked if I could stay and have dinner with them. Even though I wanted to stay I still had some homework to finish, so Mr. Sanderson drove me back to Todd’s where I said goodbye to Scott and he kissed me, right there next to the car, in front of his dad. Mr. Sanderson just grinned. Cool!
After dinner both Todd and I went upstairs to finish our homework. Most of what I had was reading, and I wanted to review the Spanish 3 vocabulary that I’d memorized on Saturday. Or maybe that should be that I tried to memorize.
I did complete everything that had to be turned in and posted it to my classes on the school’s Blackboard system. Whether I’d actually memorized the Spanish vocabulary would show up when we had in-class assignments later this week.
Finally it was time for bed. I went to Todd’s room. He was on his bed with his Kindle, sound asleep.
“Hey, Todd, wake up,” I whispered. No response. I said it again, out loud. No response. I tickled the end of his nose. He scrunched up his face then opened his eyes.
“Time to wake up and get ready for bed.”
“You had to wake me up so I can go back to sleep?”
“Yes. Your Kindle is on your bed and you might roll on top of it or knock it onto the floor. You’re dressed and lying on top of your bed. Your lights are on. Your alarm isn’t set. You haven’t brushed your teeth or cleaned up. Your computer is still on and there’s some porn on the screen.” I grinned and wiggled my eyebrows.
He sat up and looked across the room at his computer. “Asshole. There’s no porn on my screen because I haven’t been looking at any porn. Now that I’ve got a boyfriend I don’t need to look at porn. You should know how that works since you’ve got Scott for your boyfriend.”
“You had to look!” I said, then I started laughing.
“Go on, go to bed, in your bedroom.” He yawned. “I’ll get up and get ready for bed. Did you finish all of your leftover homework?”
“Yeah, I did, and I uploaded it to Blackboard. You?”
“Uh huh. The only thing I’m worried about is the Spanish vocabulary I had to memorize. I’m not sure I’ll still remember all of it by fifth period on Monday.”
He yawned again, and this time it made me yawn too.
“You want the bathroom first?” I asked.
“Nah. You go ahead. Let me know when you’re done.”
When I got to bed I fell asleep immediately. It seemed like the clock radio came on a few minutes later, but the clock read seven o’clock in the a.m. So much for getting all the sleep I wanted.
My Monday morning classes were about the same as they were on Monday last week. Even though I told Mom that I didn’t need to talk to my teachers, I decided to talk to each of them.
As usual we had weight training during period zero. I told Coach Lenning that I’d have to miss our Tuesday practice because my mom was taking me to an out of town appointment at eight o’clock. He grumbled about it, but gave in when I said I didn’t have any option, that my teeth were more important than one practice session. That’s actually true, but of course my teeth didn’t have anything to do with why I wouldn’t be at Tuesday morning’s practice session.
Before my first period English class got started I walked up to Ms. Holbrook’s desk. She looked up and smiled.
“Hi, Tony. This morning when I got in I picked up the homework you posted. The response you wrote for the story I’d assigned is excellent.”
“You read my response already?”
“It was easy because yours was the only one that I received.”
“What? Why didn’t anyone else do the assignment?”
“It’s not due until tomorrow.”
I laughed. “Well, that’s serendipity. I won’t be in class tomorrow because my mom is taking me to an out-of-town appointment.”
“Then you’re all set. You can pick up tomorrow night‘s homework assignment on the class Blackboard. Will you be in class on Wednesday?”
“Yeah. In fact, I should be back in school tomorrow by fifth or sixth period.”
“Well, you’re all set. If you want to get a head start on Tuesday night’s homework I’ll post the assignment tonight.”
The homework for my second period World Geography class was a reading assignment. I’d guessed that there’d be a quiz, and I’d guessed right. I aced the quiz, I got the correct answers to all twenty questions. I hadn’t had a chance to talk to Mr. Ryan before class so I walked up after.
“Hi, Tony. What can I do for you?”
“My mom’s driving me to an out-of-town appointment tomorrow morning so I’ll miss all of my morning classes. I want to make sure that I don’t miss something that I’ll need for Wednesday’s class.”
“I’ll post Wednesday’s homework tonight. Tomorrow we’re going to go over all of the chapters we’ve covered so far. That’s sort of a refresher for our midterm exam next week. You shouldn’t have a problem, but it’s a good idea to reread chapters one through eight.”
“Okay. My only problem is our textbook is too big and clumsy to read in the car. I wish there was a Kindle version. We have a long drive to get to my appointment tomorrow morning, and that would let me read it while my mom’s driving there and back. They ought to do Kindle versions of all of our textbooks, in my opinion.”
He looked at me for a minute. “You know, there is a Kindle version of our textbook coming out. It’s new and requires a color Kindle or tablet because the charts and graphs are in color and many of them wouldn’t make sense without the colors. The Kindle version isn’t available yet, but I’m on the review committee for the book. I can let up to five others, students and teachers, install the Kindle version if they will write their comments and suggestions and fill out a questionnaire at the end of the school year. You’ll be what’s called a gamma reader. You won’t be looking for or reporting any typos; there are editors who’ll be doing that. You’ll be looking at the book from the point of view of a student, you in this case, who would be using the Kindle version of the textbook. If you have a color Kindle or tablet I can install it for you.”
“I’ve got a Galaxy Tab 8 with the Kindle app. It’s full color and has an 8 inch screen. That’d be great to have the book on my tablet.”
“Do you have your tablet with you?”
“Sure, right here in my backpack.”
“Can you come back here at the start of lunch period?”
“Okay, I’ll see you then and I’ll install it on your tablet. The installation requires a WiFi connection to the publisher’s website.”
“I log on to Wilson’s WiFi from my tablet all the time, so I should be good to go.”
“Okay, I’ll see you around eleven forty-five. Oh, Tony, don’t tell anyone else that you have this Kindle version of the textbook, okay?”
“Okay! My lips are sealed.”
That was so cool! I was really stoked. Now I had a legitimate reason to avoid talking to Mom on the ride to Davis and the ride back. I needed to study my WorldGeo textbook for our midterm. Mom was always big on me studying for a test. And this midterm would be a big test, and I wouldn’t be kidding her about that.
There was no homework for Chorus, my third period class. We did have to memorize what we’d sing for our Christmas concert, and I’d done that. I did tell Carter, Mr. Emmonds, that I would miss the chorus class tomorrow. He said there wouldn’t be any problem.
That was the same when I talked to Mr. Lysle about missing Algebra 2. “I know you’ve posted all of this week’s assignments, but will I miss a quiz if I’m out on Tuesday?”
“No. We’ll be doing exercises up at the whiteboard tomorrow. You’re up to date with all of your homework assignments, and your test scores are exemplary, Tony.” That made me blush, but I did find Algebra 2 and Trig easy.
After Algebra 2, I rushed to Mr. Ryan’s classroom. I logged on to the school WiFi and handed him my tablet. He got on the publisher’s website, logged on, entered a password, and downloaded the Kindle version of our WorldGeo textbook. He brought it up, then handed my tablet back to me. There it was. Perfect.
“Do I need a password to read the book?”
“No, you won’t need a password. It’s like any other Kindle book other than it has interactive features. Your copy of the book has an ID that I established for you. It’s built in to the Kindle book, and this version of the book can only be read on your tablet. That link is needed for the interactive features to work. I think that you’ll enjoy the Kindle version of our textbook.”
When I sat down at our usual lunch table I announced that I had an appointment on Tuesday morning so I wouldn’t be at school until my afternoon classes. Of course, I was asked what kind of appointment so I smiled, stretched by lips, bit my top and bottom teeth together at the same time, then pointed to my mouth. Everyone assumed that meant I had a dental appointment. Only Scott and Todd knew the truth, and I was positive neither would tell anyone else.
Because I might be later than my fifth period Spanish 3 class on Tuesday, I talked to Ms. Markham.
“Don’t worry about it, Tony. We’ll be doing some English to Spanish and Spanish to English translations in class tomorrow so if you miss you won’t be marked down. Just make sure you read ahead to the next chapter in our textbook. That’s tonight’s homework. Then tomorrow night I want you to write a short story in Spanish and use at least twenty of the words in our latest vocabulary list.”
“Thanks, Ms. Markham. I’ll read the next chapter and start on my short story tonight. How long does the short story have to be?”
“At least one page but no more than a page and a half.”
In sixth period Biology I told the same story to Mrs. Weil. Her response was different.
“Hmm. Missing class tomorrow could be a problem. We’re going to doing a lab in class and there’s no way you could do a makeover of those experiments.”
“I’ll tell my mom that I absolutely have to get back to school before sixth period starts. I think I can make it. But it’s an hour’s drive back to Wilson.”
“If you can be in the classroom by one fifteen you’ll be in time for the explanation about the lab experiments.”
“Okay. I’ll do my best, but it’s not really in my control.”
“I don’t understand why you have to go an hour from here for whatever you’re going to have done.”
I just shrugged. “Neither do I.”
“Well, I can’t ask you about that anyway. I hope you can make it in time for the lab. The experiments are important and your results and the techniques you used to complete the experiments will be included in questions on your Biology midterm exam.” Bummer. I’d have to convince Mom that I had to be back by the start of sixth period.
Since it was Monday, seventh period Football 1A had the typical report by Coach York about our next opponent. So he gave his show-and-tell about Clayton Valley High School’s freshman football team.
“Guys, I went to Clayton Valley High and watched their freshman team manhandle Orland 33 to zip. Clayton Valley is going to be a strong, tough opponent. It’s going to take a concerted and concentrated effort to win the game. It’s also an away game for us, only the second one we’ve played so far. And it’s Clayton Valley’s homecoming. Now, this is a non-league game so it’s meaningless in terms of whether you become league champions or not. But if you want a high ranking in the Times, you have to defeat the Clayton Valley High freshman team. Let’s start by talking about their offense.”
He went on with the normal stuff about their offense and then their defense. It was the defense that I was most interested in hearing about since I’d be playing running back on our offense this week.
I didn’t bother saying anything to either Coach Kavanaugh in Football 1A, or to Ms. Porzio when I got to my eighth period Creative Writing class, about going to an appointment Tuesday morning. I was sure that even worst case I’d be back in time for both classes tomorrow.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing A Time When It All Went Wrong
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