“Sorry, guys. I’m not too late, am I?” Trevor asked as he dropped into a seat. “I had to pick up some things for my dad.”
Greg checked his watch. “Only by a couple of minutes. Don’t worry about it.”
Melanie narrowed her eyes. “Now that everyone is finally here...”
Greg interrupted. “Quiet, everyone! This meeting of the Melanie Brown Environmental Activists Association is now in session. The honourable – or should that be miserable? – Melanie Brown presiding.”
Sharon clipped him over the back of the head. “Shut up, Greg.”
Trevor didn’t bother hiding his grin. Because of family commitments, it had been a few weeks since he’d spent much time with his friends, and he had missed the fun. Melanie really was an environmental activist, though she often had trouble following through on a project as there always seemed to be another ecological catastrophe looming that needed her urgent attention. Trevor was of the opinion that Melanie’s parents had turned the bottom half of their house into an apartment for her so that they wouldn’t have to put up with her ranting about their lack of recycling.
“If only it was that easy to keep him quiet,” Melanie muttered. She fixed Greg with a steely gaze, which he ignored. “I’ve got something important to discuss, and I would appreciate it if you didn’t make jokes.”
“I’ll stop making jokes when you have something serious to say. The last thing you organised was protesting against those wind farms because they endangered the Orange-bellied Parrot, and it turned out that the parrots had never even been seen in the area!”
“That was still important, though I’ll admit that we may have over-reacted,” Sharon said. “What is it this time, Melanie?”
“Equal rights for unmarried, pregnant, aboriginal, gay whales,” Greg quipped.
“Greg...” Sharon glared at her boyfriend. “Give her a chance to tell us.”
“It’s not going to be that important – you know that.”
“Yes, it is,” Melanie said. “It’s very important, and I think you’ll agree.”
“Yeah, right.” Greg rolled his eyes. “What’s this big thing that’s so critical, then?” He slouched back and stretched an arm across the back of the couch that he was sharing with Sharon.
Greg opened his mouth to make a witty retort, but stopped. He abandoned his relaxed pose and leant forward to stare at Melanie. “Scott?”
“Yes, Scott.” Melanie crossed her arms and glared back to Greg.
Trevor noticed that Scott wasn’t there. That wasn’t unusual, as they all had work and social commitments that sometimes prevented them all getting together, but after Melanie’s statement, Trevor wondered if Scott’s absence was deliberate.
“What about Scott? And where is he, anyway?” Trevor asked.
“It’s Thursday night practise, so he’s probably at the footy oval,” Greg said.
“Practise? He’s taken up football?” Trevor said, scratching his head. “I didn’t think he had the right physique for the game, but if that’s what he wants to do, then I don’t see a problem.”
“He’s not going there to play – he’s been going to watch,” Sharon said.
Trevor shrugged. “I suppose that’s okay, too. How long has he been doing that?”
“Where have you been? He’s been there every Thursday and Saturday for the last couple of months! And it’s not just watching – it’s usually lurking behind a tree or in the shadow of the clubhouse.” Greg pulled a face. “It’s just so embarrassing.”
“Hey, you know I’ve been busy. Dad and I are working hard putting on the extension. I haven’t had a lot of free time.” Trevor looked down at the floor as he squirmed in his seat. He was feeling guilty about neglecting his friends, and learning that there was something going on that he should have been aware of just made him feel worse.
“It’s okay, Trev. Don’t mind Greg,” Sharon said.
“Getting back to the issue at hand, I think we need to do something about Scott.” Melanie swung her gaze across her friends.
“Why?” Trevor asked.
Melanie threw her hands up. “Why? Don’t you know what’s going on?”
“Easy, Mel. He hasn’t been around much.” Sharon turned back to Trevor. “Did you hear about Dean Ranolli?”
“I may’ve heard the name, but it doesn’t ring any bells.”
“The local footballer who came out a couple of months ago?”
Trevor smiled. “Yeah. I remember thinking ‘good for him’, but I haven’t heard anything about it since. Why?”
“Ever since Dean came out, Scott’s been down at the footy, perving on the guy. I’ve told him to just go up and ask him for a date, but he’s too scared,” Greg said.
“Steady, Greg. You know Scott’s shy around people he doesn’t know. He’s entitled to be cautious,” Sharon said.
“There’s cautious and there’s stupid. Scott’s being stupid.” Greg paused and then nodded to Melanie. “Okay, I’ll concede that you’ve picked something important this time. Something needs to be done.”
“Thank you. Now that you’ve agreed, can we get this back on track?” Melanie raised an eyebrow at Greg.
“Sure thing. I hope you have some ideas, though, because I’ve got none.”
“Obviously, we have to get Scott and Dean together for long enough that Scott gets a chance to say something.”
“Wait a sec,” Trevor said. “How do we know this Dean guy is single? He might already have a boyfriend.”
“My sources,” Melanie said loftily, “indicate that Dean’s single. They also say he’s a good guy and would make Scott a great boyfriend.”
“Your sources?” Greg snorted. “It sounds like you’re running a spy agency. Who are these mysterious sources you claim to have?”
“None of your business, especially if you’re going to have an attitude like that,” Melanie snapped.
“Melanie’s cousin plays on the team with Dean. She’s been speaking to him about Scott and Dean,” Sharon said.
“Then why didn’t she just say so? She keeps trying to make everything sound like a conspiracy.”
“I’m not too sure about this.” Trevor paused while he looked around at his friends. “It’s Scott’s life, and I don’t think we should be interfering.”
“It’s for his own good, Trev. You know how much he wants a boyfriend – all we’re doing is trying to help the process along,” Greg said.
“I don’t know...” Trevor slumped back in his chair.
“Hey, it’s still up to him. We’re just giving him a chance. If he doesn’t want Dean, or Dean doesn’t want him, then the sooner Scott finds that out, the better.” Greg turned back to Melanie. “You’ve obviously got some ideas.”
“Brad, my cousin, thinks he can talk Dean into a blind date. We just need to get Scott to go along with it.”
“Where would you send them?” Sharon asked. “You want somewhere relatively private.”
“I was thinking the Thai place down the road. They could have a meal together and get to know each other over dinner,” Melanie said.
“Thai’s good, but what if Dean doesn’t like Thai? The pub’s a better choice. They can have some liquid social lubricant first, and then settle down to a steak or something at the bistro.” Greg drummed his fingers on the armrest as he thought.
“Liquid what?” Trevor asked.
“Beer, Trev. What all good Aussie males drink.”
“Hey, some of us Aussie males don’t drink, remember? We’re not all drunkards like you. Anyway, if Dean’s playing in the local competition, he might be watching what he eats and drinks.”
Trevor tried to think what he knew about the local footballers. He believed they were the usual bunch of guys aged from eighteen through to the mid twenties, but he didn’t know that much about them. They weren’t doing spectacularly, though it was still early in the season.
“He’s a footballer! He’ll drink like a fish – they all do.”
“Not all of them.” Trevor knew that footballers had a reputation for being hard drinkers, but he was sure they all weren’t like that.
Melanie raised her voice. “Trev, Greg, enough!” After the two guys turned their attention to her, she continued in a milder voice. “For the sake of argument, and to keep our sanity, I’ll go along with a pub date. Not particularly romantic, but they’re both guys, so I suppose it doesn’t matter.”
“Hey, we can be romantic, too.” Greg turned to Sharon. “You can confirm that, can’t you, Shaz?”
Sharon kissed him on the cheek. “You’re sweet, but a box of chocolates and a slab of beer doesn’t make you romantic.”
Trevor sniggered. “I heard about that. You were lucky not to wear them, Greg.”
“I was thinking more of the lingerie...” Greg ran a fingertip playfully down Sharon’s arm. Sharon blushed and then giggled.
“Can we get back to Scott? Please?” Melanie spat the last word through clenched teeth.
“Sure, Mel,” Greg said, though his attention was mainly on tickling Sharon.
“Greg, stop it.” Sharon then whispered something in his ear.
Greg grinned and put his hands in his lap. “I’ll be good... for now.”
“All right, then. The next question is do we warn Scott about his date, or spring it on him at the last minute?” Melanie asked.
Sharon frowned. “That’s a tough one. From what I’ve seen, he’s nervous enough around Dean that he might pull out if he’s given the chance to think about it. I vote for springing it on him at the last minute.”
“Don’t you think he’d want to make a good first impression by getting dressed up?” Melanie asked.
“I don’t know. I could guess either way on that.” Greg turned to Trevor. “What do you think?”
“I think you’re all crazy. Just let him sort things out for himself.”
Greg snapped his fingers. “I’ve got it! We tell Scott we’re getting together at the pub to meet Trev’s new girlfriend, and that he should get spruced up.”
“What girlfriend? I don’t have a girlfriend!”
“Details, details.” Greg waved a hand to dismiss Trevor’s concerns.
Melanie looked thoughtful. “I could probably get someone to play the role.”
“NO! This is going way too far.” Trevor glared around the room.
“I agree with Trevor. The idea is to get Scott to dress up and come to the pub. Once he’s there and it’s too late for him to run, we can tell him what’s going on,” Sharon said. “There’s no need to bring in someone to act as Trevor’s girlfriend.”
“Thanks, Sharon.” Trevor was only slightly mollified, but he was happy at least one person agreed with him.
Melanie nodded. “Good. That’s settled.”
“It is not settled! What makes you think I’m going to play along with this charade? Scott deserves better that this.”
The other three ignored Trevor.
“When do you think we should do it?” Sharon asked.
“The sooner the better, I think. How about this Saturday night?” Greg asked.
“I’ll have to check with Brad first, but that should be fine.”
The discussion was interrupted by Trevor’s mobile phone going off. He answered it without checking the caller ID. “Hello?”
“Trev, mate! It’s Scott. Are you at Melanie’s, by any chance?”
“Scott! How are you?” Trevor looked at the others with a panicked expression. “Yeah, I’m here with the rest of the gang.”
“Great, I’ll see you soon then. Tell Mel I’m sorry that I’m going to be so late, but better late than never.”
“Sure, Scott. I’ll let her know.”
Trevor opened his mouth to say something else, but the connection went dead. He lowered the phone while frowning.
“What did Scott have to say?” Sharon asked.
“He’s on his way over – he’ll be here soon.”
“How did he know we’d be here?” Melanie asked. “I didn’t invite him.”
Greg grinned sheepishly. “I told him. I didn’t know what you were going to talk about because you didn’t give us any warning.”
“Hmph.” Melanie crossed her arms and stared down her nose at Greg.
“Okay, everyone. Any last minute additions to the plan? Mel, can you ring Brad and see if Saturday is a goer?” Greg asked.
Ten minutes later, they heard the front door open. Greg, Sharon, Melanie and Trevor were quiet as they stared at the entrance to the living room and heard Scott muttering something just before he appeared.
“G’day, everyone. Sorry I’m late.” Scott grinned as he raised a hand in greeting.
“That’s okay, Scott. What kept you, anyway?” Sharon asked.
Scott blushed. “I was out by the footy oval watching the team practise, and I lost track of the time. Sorry. I hope I haven’t missed much.”
“No, not much,” Greg said blandly. “Say, are you doing anything Saturday night? I thought we could all go to the pub.”
Scott shook his head. “Sorry, I can’t. I’ve got a date.”
Melanie stiffened. “A date? With whom?”
A large raven-haired figure appeared behind Scott. The stranger’s broad shoulders filled most of the doorway. “Hi, I’m Dean. Scott invited me along.”
“Dean’s a bit of a greenie, too, so when I told him about all the work you do, Mel, he was interested and wanted to come along. I thought an extra pair of hands wouldn’t hurt.”
“You’re Dean Ranolli!”
Dean grinned at Greg. “That’s me.”
“Dean’s invited me out on a date on Saturday, so I can’t make it to the pub, Greg. Maybe another time,” Scott said.
“How did you two happen to meet?” Sharon asked.
“I’ve noticed Scott hanging around for the last few weeks, and I eventually guessed it was me he wanted to see. He seemed like a nice guy, so I asked him out.” Dean leant forward and continued conspiratorially. “He’s actually doing me a favour. One of my teammates has been harassing me to go on a blind date, and there’s no way I’m going on one of those things. Who knows who I’d end up with?”
Trevor started to cough.
“Are you okay?” Sharon asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine!” Trevor waved her off. “Just got something caught in my throat, that’s all.”
“Anyway, Dean’s keen to help out, Mel. What’s the big issue that you’ve been discussing tonight?” Scott asked.
Melanie was flustered. “Well, umm, it was... ah...”
Greg came to her rescue. “Equal rights for unmarried, pregnant, aboriginal, gay whales.”
The author copyrights this story and retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form – physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise – without the author’s expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.
Disclaimer: All individuals depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to real persons is purely coincidental.
I would like to thank Rain from The Mail Crew for editing this story for me. I can thoroughly recommend their website to all teenagers who are gay, lesbian, bi or not sure.