Justin is accused of doing something he says he didn't do.
Will he be cleared, or will he be found guilty?
At school the next day I was as nervous as I’d be if I had to take a test in every class. Of course, I actually had a chemistry test second period. A couple of my teachers, including Ms. Ratliff, asked me if I was okay. I told them I was fine, just trying to fight off a cold. I think what really made me nervous was the idea that the cops could show up at any time and arrest me. If that happened, then I’d be put in juvie until my dad was able to bail me out.
But that didn’t happen. When the day was over nothing had happened. Other than I’d been nervous all day and a few of my teachers had to tell me to pay attention. Oh yeah, and I was positive that I’d aced my chemistry test.
When I got home I was almost as nervous as I’d been at school. I finished my homework then checked it a couple times to make sure I hadn’t screwed it up. I turned on my TV but, as usual, in the afternoon there isn’t anything worth watching.
Finally, I checked the time. Ryan should have arrived home from lacrosse practice, so I gave him a call. He answered the way he always did.
“Hey, Justin, how they hanging?”
That always made me laugh, so I laughed. Then I replied the same way I always replied, “Lower than yours, that’s for sure!”
“That’s because you’re closer to the floor, boyfriend.”
“And you’re just wishing you were down there alongside me, boyfriend.”
We busted up laughing, as usual.
“So, Justin my man, wuzup?”
“I’m bored. I’m waiting for my dad to get home. I’m hungry but I don’t feel like having a snack. I want something more substantial, like a big steak and a baked potato. So a steak is what I hope he’s bringing home from the market to go with a couple potatoes.”
“Did you put the potatoes in the oven so they’ll be done by the time he gets home and starts grilling the steaks? Assuming your dad’s actually bringing home steaks. Shouldn’t you have called him to make sure?”
“Yeah, I did. No I didn’t.”
“What’s that mean?”
“It means yes, I put the potatoes in the oven, and it means I didn’t call him to make sure he was going to bring home steaks. I guess this way I’ll see if I was able to transmit my thoughts to him telepathically.”
“So how was school today?”
“Good. I probably aced my chem test today. In fact, while we’re eating I’ll tell my dad about it. He likes it when I tell him about my academic successes.”
“You probably aced your chem test? You better wait until tomorrow night before you start boasting about a test you haven’t gotten back yet. Just sayin’.”
“Nah, I’m pretty sure I got an A on the test. And a little boasting is a good thing. So, Ryan, what’s up at your end of this call?”
“Oooo! I love it when you talk dirty.”
“You, boyfriend, have a dirty mind. You’ve also finessed my question. So spill!”
“You aced your chem test, I blew my Algebra-Trig test. It was one of old man Mitchell’s surprise tests. Thank god it’s only about two percent of my grade, but I think I’ll be lucky if I got a D.”
“Really? You usually do okay in your math classes.”
“Yeah, if I review the material that’s going to be on a test, which I hadn’t done yet. I’m not a math genius like you.”
“Just plan ahead and study a chapter ahead of the class. That’s what I do. That’s also what I keep telling you to do, Ryan.”
“I know, I know. I wish we lived closer to each other so we could study together more often than like once every week or two. I think that would really help.”
“You remember what we’ve been talking about, that you’d stay overnight at my house on Tuesdays and I’d stay overnight at your house on Thursdays?”
“Yeah. I haven’t come right out and asked my folks but I’ve made a couple hints about it, emphasizing the studying part. They seemed interested but uncommitted.”
“Okay, tonight I’m going to come right out and tell my dad we want to do it and ask him if it’s okay with him.”
“Hoowee! That means I’ll have to ask my folks right out because your dad’s the type who’ll get on the phone and call my folks tonight. I don’t want them to be blindsided about us actually planning to do this behind their backs.”
“Ryan, my man, you’re right on target. Let’s talk about it afterwards tonight, okay?”
“Okay, Justin. Sounds like a plan.”
I heard the garage door opening. “Hey, my dad just got home. I’ll call you after we eat, at around seven or so. Is that okay?”
“Yeah, that sounds good, Justin. Later, boyfriend.”
“Later at ya, boyfriend.”
I got to the kitchen at the same time that Dad walked in from the garage.
“Hey, Justin. What’s new?”
“When I got home I put two potatoes in the oven and they’ll be ready in about forty minutes. What did you bring home from the store in that shopping bag?”
“I felt like having a steak. I bought a big, thick ribeye that I’m going to roast and we’ll split it. It’ll take about fifty minutes to cook, so you should lower the temperature on those baked potatoes down to maybe 375 degrees. I’ll put the steak in the other oven.”
“Okay, done. You know, it’s really funny because I decided that what I wanted for dinner was a steak, and that’s why I put two potatoes in the oven. You must have read my mind. Or I read yours.”
“I’m glad we were on the same wavelength. So how’s steak, baked potato, and fresh asparagus sound?”
“You need a salad to go with it?”
“Nah. The potatoes are big and the steak is humongous, so that and the asparagus are plenty. Maybe more than plenty.”
“Now that everything is cooking except the asparagus, which will take like two minutes when the steak is done. Let’s sit down and you can tell me about your day. Then I’ll tell you about mine.”
We went into the family room and sat down. Dad had a glass of red wine and I had a can of ginger ale.
“Should I go ahead and start?” I asked.
“The podium is yours, Justin.”
“Well, I think I was sort of tense most of the day. I think it was because, regardless of what Aunt Beth said yesterday, I kept thinking the cops would walk in and arrest me, take me to juvie, and you wouldn’t be able to get me out until the weekend. I know that was stupid, but it made me nervous anyway. Of course, they didn’t come to arrest me so when I got home I had to work off the stress by doing my homework and checking it two or three times.
“Then there was a test in Ms. Ratliff’s chemistry class. I think I did okay. I’ll know for sure tomorrow when she gives our test papers back.”
Dad just smiled at me and took a sip of wine, so I decided to change the subject.
“Ryan and I were talking on the phone about how it would be great if we could get together to study more often. It would help both of us, I think. I read an online story about two cousins who went to the same high school but lived a long way apart. They decided to stay together at one guy’s house on Tuesday nights and at the other’s on Thursday nights. That way they could do their homework together and they’d be able to shoot baskets and play video games and watch TV and listen to music together. So I was thinking that would work out great for Ryan and me. He would stay over here on Tuesday nights and I would stay over at his house on Thursday nights. We have mostly the same classes but most of our teachers are different. What do you think about our plan?”
Dad grinned. “I think it’s a very clever plan you’ve come up with so you two can have sex two nights a week.”
“Yup. That too.” I shrugged my shoulders, grinned, and wiggled my eyebrows. “You know we’re going to do it whenever we can anyway, and we’re not into anything… um… you know! I already told you we weren’t into doing that at all. It’s gross.”
“What do you think Ryan’s folks will think about this idea?”
“Ryan says he hinted about it and his folks thought it was an interesting idea. He’s going to ask them about it tonight, just like I’m asking you. So is it okay with you?”
“Let’s just say if Ryan’s folks agree that it’s a workable plan, then we should all get together and talk about it.”
“Okay. I’ll talk to Ryan after dinner. That’s about all I have to talk about. Now, what I want to know is what you heard from Aunt Beth.”
Dad grinned. “Instead of me trying to remember or take detailed notes, Beth is going to come over tonight to tell us what she learned from Mrs. Gage and from Susan Carver. She should be here by seven-thirty. Besides our steak I bought a lemon cheesecake from that bakery on Locust Street for dessert.”
“That sounds really good. I finished my homework so I’m going to call Ryan and tell him you said the Tuesday/Thursday thing is a good idea.”
“Now wait just a minute! I said that if Ryan’s parents think it’s a good idea then we’d get together and talk about it.”
“Could getting together be on the phone?”
“I suppose. Let’s leave that up to them.”
“The reason I wondered is because if we decide it’s okay then we can start this Thursday.”
“Let’s see, which house will you two stay at on Thursdays?”
“Ryan’s. That way if he has lacrosse practice before school on Friday morning we’ll be close to the campus. Remember, his house is only a quarter mile from Los Arcos High. We can walk it in about ten minutes.”
“Okay, you call Ryan and let him know you two have my blessing, and that I can talk to his parents this evening after our meeting with Beth. Or, if they want to have an in-person meeting, which I think is a good idea, we can schedule it for tomorrow night or whenever they’re available.”
“Dad, one other thing. You’re not going to talk about the sex thing with his folks, are you?”
“Only if they bring it up. They do know that Ryan is gay and you two are boyfriends, right?”
“Right. I’ll call Ryan right now. And I’m sure he’ll call me back as soon as he talks to his folks. I’ll let you know what he says they said.”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Justin Carver
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