You suddenly realize that you're in a hospital room looking at a patient...
you need to find out why he's here.
And then why you're here.
Mature or distressing themes. This story deals with violence and rape.
What I had dreamt last night was happening. I couldn’t believe it, and I couldn’t tell Nate about the dream; he would totally freak. We stood there in silence, touching each other and looking at each other.
Nate was the first to speak.
“I can feel your heart beating. It’s beating so hard and so fast.”
He took my hand and put it over his heart.
“Mine’s beating the same way.”
“Why? What’s going on with us?”
“I don’t know. It’s probably something we should investigate and try to figure out. I’ve never felt this way.”
“Neither have I. You’re the one who’s going to be a doctor. You ought to be able to figure it out.” I grinned.
“I’ve never touched another guy’s body, you know, like this. I want to be a doctor and I didn’t know what it would be like. It’s nice.”
He looked down at our hands, his over my heart and mine over his.
“Should we keep doing this, or should we stop for a while and think about it?”
“I like option one, but option two is probably better.” I took my hand off of Nate’s chest, and after a couple of seconds he dropped his hand from mine. He stared at me and I saw his eyes open wide. He stepped back and looked scared.
“Oh, shit! I’m sorry, Brian, I’m sorry.”
I was confused. “Huh? Why are you sorry? About what?”
He stepped back a couple of feet. “I gotta go. I’m sorry, this was a huge mistake. God, I’m so sorry, Brian.”
Nate turned and started to walk toward my bedroom door. I rushed up to him and put my hand on his arm.
“Why are you leaving? Why don’t you stick around? I’d like you to stick around.”
He turned and I saw tears brimming in his eyes.
“You want me to stay? After what I did?”
I grabbed his forearm and pulled him to my bed, then turned him around and pushed him.
Nate sat down on the side of my bed. I reached over and grabbed my desk chair and rolled it over opposite where he was sitting. I sat down and smiled.
“I don’t understand. I don’t understand what you’re sorry about. Did I do something? Or say something? Please let me know what’s wrong!”
Nate took a deep breath. “I made a mistake about you, Brian. I totally fucked up.”
That’s all he said.
“Arrrrgh! You haven’t explained anything! What mistake? I’m totally confused! Unconfuse me, please!”
Now Nate looked confused. “You don’t know what I did?”
“NO! If I did know what you did would I be asking you to explain what you did?” That sounded so convoluted and funny to me I started laughing. Then he started laughing. When we finished laughing we sat there smiling at each other.
“You don’t get it.” He leaned forward, looked down, rested his elbows on his knees, and held his head in his hands. He spoke quietly, so quietly I had to concentrate to hear him.
“Brian, I was coming on to you.”
“You mean like gay guy coming on to me?”
He nodded his head. “Yeah. I’m gay and I got some sort of vibe that you’re gay too. I came out to you and realized you didn’t react to me like you would if you were gay. That meant you are not gay. I’m sorry that I came out to you.” He sat up and looked at me. “I’d better go now.”
He started to get up and I rolled my chair so I was right in front of him, keeping him from standing.
“Nate, I’m straight.” I grinned at how that rhymed. “I don’t care if you’re gay. It doesn’t make any difference to me. I’d like us to be friends. The kind of friends who can tell each other anything like you did telling me you're gay, and know it won’t go any further. I’ve watched you in class and I can see that you’re a really nice guy. You help people when they ask, and even when they don’t ask but you can tell they’re struggling. You’re friendly with everyone. I don’t know anyone who thinks you’re anything other than a great guy. You’re smart. You always know the answer when you’re asked a question by Mr. Nayak or Mrs. Alexiadis. I read that you’re in line to be quarterback next year. It’ll be good for me to be friends with a jock. You can get me free tickets to all the football games next year, right?” I wiggled my eyebrows and grinned.
Nate laughed. “Some guys might want me for my body. You want me for my free football tickets. Hell, next you’ll want to ride on the team bus to away games.”
I opened my eyes real wide, grinned, and nodded. We both busted up laughing. I got up and sat on the bed on Nate’s left side, and put my arm around his shoulders. “Friends?”
“Friends!” He took a deep breath. “My friends are all jocks from the football team. All the other guys at school seem intimidated by me. I’ve got girls hanging all over me, but as you now know I’m not really interested. I go out with some of them, but if they want more than just a date I tell them I’m a devout Christian and I believe that intimate relations have to wait until marriage. So I don’t have to worry out being outed, or to try to find a fag hag who’ll go steady with me.” He smirked. “Until now.”
“Oh, so to get my football tickets I have to be your fag hag?” I pulled the neck of my T out and peered inside. “I don’t think I have the right equipment for it, but whatever rocks your socks.”
Nate giggled. “Rocks my socks? Where did that come from?”
“My grandfather. He’s got a ton of these old sayings that are funny as hell. I can use them at school and no one has ever heard them before.”
“What are some others?”
“Here’s one you should like, and you should be able to use it when you meet a gay guy. ‘Yank your plank.’” We both laughed at that one.
“That is so gross and so wonderful. Can I borrow it and use it at school?”
“Sure, but you’ve gotta tell me the context of how you’re going to use it.”
“If a guy on the team asks me what I’m going to do on a Friday night, I’ll tell him I’m going to yank my plank. He’ll bust up laughing and forget about asking why I don’t have a date.”
We sat looking at each other for maybe about five seconds.
“Brian, um... when we... ya’ know, I touched your chest, did you feel... uh... something maybe, unusual?”
“You mean like an electric shock?”
“Yeah! That was it. An electric shock. So you felt it too?”
“Yeah. Could it have been static electricity?”
“I don’t think so. I felt it even through my t-shirt when you touched my chest, and I didn’t take my hand off your chest so we should have been grounded together. Can we try it again?”
I laughed. “Perv!”
“When you know me better you’ll know exactly how true that is.”
We both turned so we were more or less facing each other on side of my bed. Nate reached out and lightly stroked my chest on my left side above my bruise.
“Oh my god! I felt that, where you’re touching me.” I shivered. “That feels amazing.”
“I can feel it in my fingertips.” He softly moved his fingers around my chest. “The more I do it the less I feel it.”
“That’s the same for me. It’s almost like some sort of static electricity that isn’t the same thing but where the feeling lasts longer.”
“Okay, now you try it on me.”
Nate pulled up his T so it was gathered at his neck.
“Dude, you are seriously ripped!”
“That’s what comes from going out for football. I’m taking Weight Training and Fitness this semester to build myself up.”
“I think whatever you’ve done has worked.”
I looked at Nate’s chest, then touched him the same way he’d touched me, just fingertips on and around his left side for a few seconds.
“I felt it when I first touched you, but it faded and now it doesn’t feel electric.”
“Same with me. I need to research what that’s all about.” He grinned. “Maybe this can result in a research paper on body contact electricity that will help me get into med school.”
“Yeah, and you can search for gay guys to experiment on.”
“Oh, good idea! You can help me find them.”
“Aren’t you supposed to have gaydar so you can spot all the gay guys in a crowd?”
“My gaydar is deficient. You rang its bell, and that’s a good example of how deficient it is.”
“So how am I supposed to find gay guys for you?”
“You just walk up to them and say, ‘I have a gay friend and he wants to know if you’re gay too.’”
“I don’t think so.”
“Then I guess I need some other way to figure out who’s gay and cute and sexy.”
“I agree... uh... wait a minute. You said I rang your gaydar’s bell. Does that mean you think that I’m cute and sexy?” I began to laugh. “Me, with my bruises and bandages and broken arm?”
“Absolutely. You must have the girls climbing all over you.”
That really made me laugh.
“I’ve identified your problem, Nate. You left your glasses at home and you’re basically blind without them. That can be the only reason you’d think that I’m cute and sexy.”
“First, I don’t wear glasses and I don’t need them. To be a high school football quarterback I had to pass an eye test. I have 20/20 vision. Now you, Brian Anderson, can’t see yourself the way I can see you. You’re looking from the inside out and you can’t see yourself. I’m seeing the entire outside of you. Trust me, you are cute and sexy.”
“I’ll bet you say that to all of the guys.”
Nate started laughing. “I don’t think so.” Then he looked serious. “Brian, you’re the only person I’ve ever told that I’m gay.”
“Wow. Your parents don’t know?”
“Oh, God, no! My dad would totally freak. He expects me to become a big time college quarterback and maybe the pros and there aren’t any gays in the pros. My mom would be all tears and ‘where did we go wrong?’”
“When did you discover that you’re gay?”
“I love the way you asked that. You said ‘discover’ and not ‘decide’. I guess I discovered that I’m gay when I was eleven and liked to look at boys at the pool, especially in the changing room. And I’ve known ever since. That’s about it.”
“I read about gay guys getting all depressed about being gay. That never happened to you, did it.”
“Nope. I’ve kept the fact that I’m gay totally separate from the rest of who I am. It’s just one thing, like having hazel eye color.”
“I disagree. It’s a lot more than just eye color. Being gay means who you’re attracted to, who you want to date, who you want to live with, and who you want adopt kids with.”
“Damn, Brian! How do you, a straight guy, know all this stuff about gay guys?”
“I read a lot. I’m going to take AP Psych in the fall, so I’ve been reading up. There’s a book I found, ‘Psychology of the Gay Personality,’ that’s really interesting. I learned a lot about gays and lesbians from that book. I’ll loan it to you if you’re interested. It’s easy to read.”
“Why are you reading a book about gays for your Psychology class?”
“I talked to Dennis Herring, he’s a senior, and he’s taking it this year. He told me that I’ll have to choose a specific topic for my project. I decided on gays and lesbians because that’s such a hot-button item right now with gay marriage and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the push to end the Defense of Marriage Act. That’s not just a news topic, it’s a great psychology topic as well.”
“Then don’t you need the book?”
“I’ll want it back, but I’ve read most of it, or more correctly I skimmed a lot of it that covered studies done in the past and read the more current parts. So anyway, as long as I can get it back by the start of the fall semester, you can borrow it until then.”
“Can I see it?”
“Sure.” I went to my bookshelf and found the book and handed it to Nate.
“I see a problem. If my folks saw the title they’d wonder why I have the book.”
“I have an OSU book cover we can use to hide what the book is. Or if you have an extra Deer Valley High book cover we can use that.”
“Yeah, that’ll work.”
“Are you taking AP Psychology next semester?”
“No. I’ll be taking AP Chemistry, Pre-Calc, AP English 3, AP US History, Spanish 3, and Digital Photography. Of course, I’ll be taking Team Sports seventh period because I’ll be on the football team.”
“That’s a pretty heavy schedule for a jock on the football team. That shows how smart you are. I’ll be taking four of the classes you’re in. AP Chemistry, Pre-Calculus, AP English 3, and AP US History. It would be cool if we could be in the same class sessions.”
“Would you like to coordinate our schedules?”
“Sure. That way we could help each other with homework and studying for tests.”
“Because I’m taking a team sport I got a copy of the class schedule for fall semester already. Next time I come by I’ll bring it and we can work out the same schedules as much as possible.”
“You know, you came over to bring me some class notes or something. Maybe we’d better get to that so I can figure out how to do my home study homework.”
“You’re right. I have my notes from Physics and Algebra 2. Is there a table we can use?”
“Sure. The dining room table will be good for us. But first I want to do something, Nate.”
I walked up to him and hugged him, a one-arm hug, but a hug. I could tell that he was surprised, but then he hugged me back. After a few seconds I let go and stepped back.
“That was cool, Brian. But did you do that for a specific reason or what?”
“It was a hug for a friend. Maybe for a best friend, since we’re going to tell each other our deepest darkest secrets.” I grinned.
“I’m not sure you want to hear my deepest darkest secrets. Some of them are downright gay oriented.”
“Those kinds of deepest darkest secrets will be just fine. I can use them as real-life examples in my AP Psychology class. With no naming of names, of course.”
“You’ll be very disappointed, then. My deepest darkest gay secrets include stuff like my gaydar doesn’t work, and I’m attracted to you because you’re cute and sexy, and I think of naked guys when I... well, you can fill in the blanks.”
“Okay, when the class starts I’ll interview you and get all of those secrets and maybe more down in my notes and I’ll pick and choose for my project. An example is that gaydar isn’t mentioned in this book, so maybe that’s worth researching. Is there such a thing, and if so how does having it versus not having it affect gay guys. I might not use that, but you can see that what you tell me might be something that I’d choose. But right now let’s head downstairs.”
I took my notebook and a pen, and Nate took his backpack and we went downstairs. We got a lot accomplished, mostly Algebra 2 and a little Physics. We sort of lost track of time. Nate got a call on his cell. His mother wanted to know when he’d be home for dinner, and we discovered that it was six forty-five.
“I gotta go. Mom’s been waiting dinner until I got home, and she finally decided I’d been kidnapped or something because staying away from a meal is so not me.”
“That’s okay. I think my mom has been holding up dinner too. When can you come by next?”
“Is tomorrow afternoon okay? After school lets out, at about the same time as today?”
“Sure. That’s great. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”
I walked Nate to the door and we said goodbye. I watched him as he turned right and walked east on Cedar Creek Road.
This was, without a doubt, the strangest day I’d ever had in my life. I finally met Nate Mead and actually talked to him, instead of the ‘hi’ we’d say to each other in the halls and classrooms. He thought I was gay and said that he hit on me, though I guess I’m so dense that I didn’t realize that’s what he was doing. I found out that I was the first person he’d ever told that he was gay. I realized that I liked Nate, and we decided we’d be friends, maybe even best friends. We talked about lots of different things. But we hadn’t talked about football or what movies and TV we liked or our other likes and dislikes. He was coming to my house tomorrow after school and we’d continue going over my Physics and Algebra 2 homework assignments. And we’d talk, and I’d make sure to talk about what we liked and disliked. So tomorrow should be another very interesting day.
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing I'm Sticking Around for a While
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