A Time When It All Went Wrong by Colin Kelly

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?

Chapter 26: The Telling     Story Index >>

As usual, Tuesday morning Dad drove me to Wilson so I would be on time for the morning practice, which wasn’t really a practice since we would be working out in the weight training room. Neither of us had said anything since we got into the car. Finally I couldn’t stand it.

“You know, Dad, what upsets me the most is that you and Mom don’t trust me.”

He looked at me for about a second, then turned back to the road.

“That’s not true, Tony. We do trust you. Why would you say a thing like that?”

“If you’d trusted me you would have told me about your job offer right from the beginning. It had to have been more than two weeks ago. I’ve been in school a couple days over two weeks. There’s so much I would have done differently knowing we’d be moving. What you did is let me get too involved in Wilson High. The whole football thing, and the election, and my classes, and me and Scott becoming boyfriends. It’s like you didn’t trust what my opinion might have been. So now you have to deal with me and how pissed I am and how sad I am and how upset I am about this move.”

“Your mom and I realize we made a big mistake. We told you that we’re going to make it up to you.”

“How. Exactly how can you make this up to me?”

“I don’t know. You know we’re going to move. The first thing we’re going to do is have you help us pick out a house.”

“That means my weekends are going to be house hunting in Davis. I’m not interested. I want my weekends for myself because some Saturdays we have football practice, and so I can be with my friends, with Scott, with Todd, with Frank and Heather and Brian and the guys on the freshman football team and all of my other friends who I won’t see once we move. Letting me do that is a good start on making it up to me.”

“You’re not interested in helping us find a house, where you can decide on what your room is going to be like and whether we have a pool or not, and whether it will be walking distance to your high school?”

“Of course I’m interested in that. Just not if it’s going to mess up my getting together with my friends for what little time I’ll have left while I still can.”

“You’ll be able to see your friends after we move. An hour drive isn’t that far away.”

“It is when you’re a kid and you don’t have any way to get somewhere that’s an hour away. I don’t think I’ll be seeing them very often.”

“You’ll make new friends in Davis.”

“I’ll be a newbie arriving in the middle of the semester. I know what happens to newbies. I’d seen it at Carver and at Wilson. Kids have their circle of friends and it’s tough to break into that.”

“You were a newbie at Wilson, and that seems to have worked out just fine.”

“I was a newbie and all of the other freshmen were newbies too. I had friends from Carver who went to Wilson. Being a newbie all by myself will be totally different.”

“You’re not the only one who is having to make a big adjustment because of this move. Your mom is going to have to look for a new job.”

I hadn’t even thought about that. “There are hospitals in Davis, aren’t there?”

“Of course. But it’s going to be difficult for her to find a job like the one she has at Redwood Hospital.”

“How come?”

“She’s a physician, a doctor, in the emergency department. She’s also a manager, directing the transfer of patients from emergency to the hospital. That’s the kind of job opening that will be difficult to find.”

“What’s she going to do?”

“She doesn’t know yet. Commuting from Davis to Redwood Hospital and back isn’t practical. She’d be travelling in the same direction as most of the commute traffic. We estimate that it would take her at least an hour and a half, even more if traffic is heavy because of an accident or bad weather.”

“Does UC Davis have a medical school? Maybe she could find a job there.”

“She’s looking at all reasonable alternatives. Not being in Davis now makes the job search complicated.

“Okay, we’re here.”

We’d arrived at Wilson High.

“Thanks for the ride, Dad,” I said as I opened the car door to get out.

“Try to avoid being so negative about the move to Davis around your mom. She’s stressed enough because of the move and trying to find a job. We know that this is stressful for you too, Tony. And I know I keep saying this, but we will try to make it up for you.”

“Okay, I’ll do my best. I know how hard it’s gotta be for Mom. I hope you know how hard it is for me, too.

“Bye, Dad. See you tonight. Oh, and Todd’s coming home with me and he’ll be spending the night.”

I closed the passenger side door and looked at Dad through the open window. He looked stressed.

“Have a good day at school, Tony.”

“Thanks. You too!” I replied.

I walked to the gym. No use suiting up if I wasn’t going to stick around today. Coach Kavanaugh was in the weight training room.

“Coach, can I talk to you for a few minutes? In private?”

“Sure, Tony. Let’s go to my office.”

When we got there he closed his office door and we sat down. He watched me, not saying anything, waiting for me to say something. To me he looked worried.

“Okay. I guess the only way to do this is to do it. Coach, I’m gay. Is that a problem for you? Do you think it will be a problem for the team?”

He grinned, shook his head, and let out a deep breath.

“I certainly don’t have any problem with you being gay, Tony. There are some other guys on the team who came to me and told me that they are gay. It’s a non-issue as far as I’m concerned. If you tell them, none of the members of the team are going to give you a hard time about it either. If they do, you let me know. The school district has a very strong policy about bullying of any kind. You know that, you’ve read the policy and you and your parents signed the agreement.”

“Thanks, Coach. I know about the policy, but sometimes what’s written isn’t all that real. I’m glad it is here.”

“Okay, then as far as you’re concerned, we’re good?”

“Yes,” I replied. “There is one other thing. Well, two other things. I have a boyfriend. It’s Scott Sanderson, the basketball player.”

Coach Kavanaugh grinned. “You said you read the policy, but you just violated it by outing another student. Shame on you, Tony!”

I laughed. “Hey, I asked Scott and he said it was okay if I told you.”

“I guess it’s okay then. You said you have two things to talk about?”

“Yeah. I want to tell the team that I’m gay and have a boyfriend. But I won’t tell them who my boyfriend is. I wouldn’t want to start getting a demerit for each guy on the team who I told about Scott.”

“If you want to announce it to the team, I don’t see why you shouldn’t, as long as you don’t tell them your boyfriend’s name.”

“Thanks. Okay, now I have a couple other things to tell you. Well, one to tell you and one to ask. The tell is that my folks are moving to Davis. My dad got a teaching job at UC Davis. So once they buy a house there I might have to change schools.”

“You played that good-news bad-news bit very cleverly,” he said. “So when’s this going to happen?”

“I don’t know. My folks haven’t started looking for a house, so when I have to move to Davis is up in the air.”

“How about after football season is over?” Coach Kavanaugh asked.

“Maybe,” I replied. “That brings me to the next thing. After I tell the team that I’m gay, and I’m not going to tell them about either Scott or Davis, I’d like to bail out of weight training for today only. I’m working on a way I can continue going to Wilson High, at least through this semester. I need to talk to someone about that, and I want to do that this morning. Is that okay? And could you record me as being here on the roll?”

“I already recorded you as present today,” Coach Kavanaugh said. Then he sat there thinking for several seconds. “Okay, now I understand what you meant by saying you only ‘might’ have to change schools. If you get your plan working you can continue going to school here. Which means you’ll continue living here, because if you lived in Davis you couldn’t go to school at Wilson.

“So, let’s go tell the team that you’re gay. Or, more accurately, you tell the team that you’re gay and I’ll hang out looking for any inappropriate comments. I don’t expect you to be hassled about it. I’ve been watching my football teams and this whole thing about being gay or not or being a different race, or religion, is not much of a factor these days. But if you have any problems with your teammates, other than a little bit of friendly joking, you let me know, okay?”

“Sure thing, Coach.”

Telling the team that I was gay turned out to be a non-issue, just like Coach Kavanaugh had said. All I got were a lot of friendly, funny comments and a few suggestions about boyfriend candidates.

“You got a boyfriend yet, Tony?” Pete Ross asked me.

“You volunteering?” Jacob Rummel asked him.

“Nah. Tony’s plug-ugly. If I ever brought him home as my boyfriend my folks would run out of the house screaming,” Pete responded.

“Hey, I’m not ugly!” I shouted. “And yes, I have a boyfriend. If I told you who my boyfriend is you’d all be jealous.”

That was met by a loud round of catcalls.

“Okay, you’re not leaving here until you tell us who it is,” Jamal Williams said. “If I have to, I’ll sit on you. That oughta make you tell us his name.” I stepped back, put out my arms palm-forward, and tried to look scared. I knew that Jamal was kidding, but that kid weighs about two-hundred and twenty pounds of mostly muscle, and he’s only fourteen years old.

“Come on, Tony! We’re your friends, all of us. Who is he?” Parker Hampson asked.

“I can’t tell you. You know it’s against school policy.”

“If I guess and I’m right, will you tell us I’m right?”

“No. It’s up to my boyfriend to out himself to you guys.”

“Well, I know who it is,” John Garchik said.

“Well, don’t just stand there grinning, Garchik, tell us his name!” Jamal shouted.

“Scott Sanderson. I saw them walking home holding hands yesterday.”

“Oh my god!” Parker said. “He’s that tall basketball player from Chicago. He’s going to help bring Wilson High a basketball championship.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen him shooting baskets and he can make like twenty three-pointers in a row,” Cameron Phillips added. “And a word of advice, don’t ever get into a game of Horse with him for money.”

I remembered that I’d better get going to meet Todd.

“Guys, would you do me a favor and keep this to yourselves until lunch? I want to tell our friends and we want it to be a surprise.”

“Absolutely,” Parker said, then he added, “And we know John’s right because Tony just said ‘we want it to be a surprise’ instead of ‘I want it to be a surprise,’ so that confirms that it’s Scott.”

I glanced at Coach Kavanaugh, then stood there shaking my head. “That doesn’t confirm anything. But no matter who it might be, please don’t say anything about my being gay and having a boyfriend, okay?”

Everyone else shouted “Okay” or “No problem” or something similar.

“Thanks, guys. Right now I’ve got to go and get some stuff straightened out, so I’ll see you all seventh period.”

I headed out and looked for Todd at the locker room entrance. He wasn’t there, but I saw him walking toward the gym. I waved and he waved. I walked toward him and put my arm out, palm forward, showing him that he should stop and wait for me. He did.

“Hey, Todd.”

“Hey, Tony. What’s up?” Todd grinned and wiggled his eyebrows.

I grinned and shook my head. “Let’s find a place to sit down where it’s quiet. I’ve got a couple things to tell you.”

We walked to a space between the Language Arts and Science buildings. There were some benches, and with almost no one on campus so early we were by ourselves. We sat on a bench and turned to face each other.

“Well? Who is it?” Todd asked.

“I don’t know what you mean,” I replied, then grinned.

“Come on, Tony. You know what I mean. Do you have a boyfriend or not, and if so who is it?”

“You mean who is he?”

“Yes! So there is a boyfriend, then!”

I started laughing, then calmed down. “Yes, there is a boyfriend. It’s Scott.”

“Scott? Man, that’s out of left field. I thought it would be Frank.”

“Nope. Scott and I are boyfriends. We’re going to announce it at lunch, like the way that you and Brian announced that you two are boyfriends.”

“Oh, man, that is so great!” Todd moved over and hugged me. “I suppose I can’t tell anyone, right?”

“Yeah, please don’t tell anyone. That way it’ll be a surprise for everyone else.”

“So, did you guys do the nasty yet?”

“No way I’m going to answer that question, just like you wouldn’t answer it if I asked about you and Brian.”

“Yeah, I’m just pulling your leg. You know, the toughest thing for me is going to be pretending that I don’t know anything when I see Scott in English second period. Any suggestions? And does he know that you’re telling me?”

“No and yes. No, I don’t have any suggestions because I’ve never been in this kind of situation before. Yes, because Scott knows that I’ve told you that we’re boyfriends.”

“I guess we’ll just act like we don’t even know each other.”

“Sounds like a plan. Now, remember I told you that I had two things to tell you.”

“Yeah. So what’s the second thing?”

I took a deep breath. “My dad got a new job. He will be teaching math at UC Davis.”

“UC Davis? That’s what, a couple hours from here?”

“No, it’s about an hour or a little over.”

“Well, that’s not too bad. What’s it take him to drive to Sand Hills Community College now?”

“I’m not sure, maybe twenty minutes — if he’s not dropping me off at Wilson for my morning practice sessions. Like this morning for weight training.”

“How come you bailed? I thought your weight training exercises were one of the main reasons you got into this football thing.”

“I know, but I talked to Coach Kavanaugh and told him I had to tell you that Scott and I are boyfriends. He understood and let me skip today’s exercise session.”

I was putting off telling Todd the single most important piece of news. I had to tell him. Now.

“Okay, enough of this idle chit-chat. Besides my dad getting a new job at UC Davis, he has to start on the second of October. And we’re going to move to Davis.”

“Wait! What? What did you say?”

“We’re going to move to Davis.”


“I don’t know. My folks are going to start looking for a house. They want me to help do that which will have to be on the weekends. But I want to stick around here to hang with my friends. You, Scott, Frank, Parker, Heather, and on and on and on. Last night I was figuring out how many people I’ve met here and that are friends. It’s at least forty. That doesn’t include the kids in my classes that I know and they’re just, I guess, what my mom calls casual friends.”

“Shit! That means you’ll be moving away. What about you and Scott?”

“That’s a mess. This whole moving thing is a fucking mess. I hate it.”

“When did you find out about this?”

“Last night. I’m so pissed at my folks I can’t see straight. They knew about this a long time ago. But they decided they didn’t think that I’d be able to understand that we’d have to move when my dad took this job. They didn’t trust me, and that makes me mad and sad.”

“What are you going to do about football?”

“I told Coach Kavanaugh that we’ll be moving. He didn’t say much. I assume that until I move I’ll be part of the team. I hope that’s what will happen.”

“So you’ll be playing on Friday afternoon, I assume.”

“Yeah, I will.”

“So where will you go to school in Davis?”

“I don’t know. I supposed it depends on where my folks buy a house.”

“How many high schools are in Davis?”

“I don’t know.”

“You didn’t look it up?”

“No. I don’t want to have anything to do with this move. I don’t want to move to Davis. I don’t care about Davis.”

“Come on, Tony. If your folks are going to move, you’re going to move. You might as well get used to the idea. When we get to your house tonight let’s do some research on Davis and the high schools there. At least find out where the good high schools are so you can tell your folks that’s where they should be looking for a house.”

“Okay. It sucks big time, but let’s do it tonight.”

“When you and Scott tell the gang that you’re boyfriends, are you going to tell them about moving to Davis?”

“No! The only ones I’ve told are Scott, Coach Kavanaugh, and you. And that’s it. No one else until I know when I’ll actually be moving. It might take my folks months to find a house. After that, there still might be a delay if the people selling in it need time to find a new house themselves. Also, my mom will want to do all kinds of stuff, like paint, replace carpets, redo the kitchen, maybe even get new drapes and new floors and who knows what else. All of this might take lots of time. If I tell people now I’ll become a ghost student here.”

“What the hell is a ghost student?”

“If everybody knows I’m leaving, I won’t be part of anything at Wilson anymore. Why put any effort into keeping up their friendship with me when I’ll be gone in anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months? I’ll become a ghost, walking the halls at Wilson High and no one will be talking to me anymore.”

“What a crock of crap! You’re just feeling sorry for yourself because you have to move an hour away from here. Your friends will be your friends as long as you’re here. And if you keep up with them, on chats and by email and instant message and phone they’ll stay your friends. You’ll come back once in a while and you’ll see those friends. So stop being a dick about the move. You’ll be fine.”

“What if I end up in a school that’s not gay friendly?”

“That’s why we do research tonight. If there’s a GSA at the high school then you’ll be in good shape, gay-wise. If not, then you should start one and you’ll end up meeting some gay kids.”

“I’m not interested in meeting gay kids, or looking for a boyfriend. I’m gay and I want to be treated like I’m normal. And I already have a boyfriend, Scott.”

“You were gay at Carver and everyone treated you like you were normal, didn’t they? And then here at Wilson before you came out? And how many people here know you’re gay? Like, three or four? So stop sweating that crap and just act like you’ve always acted. You’ll be fine.”

“What about Scott? I read stories that say long-distance reltionships don’t last. It’s too far for us to get together. I don’t want to lose him, Todd.”

“You’ve heard of Skype. You two get on Skype every day and chat for a while. It’s not the same as being face to face, but you’ll be able to see each other.”

“The worst thing is leaving the football team before the season is over.”

“So get on the team in Davis.”

“That’s not going to work. The season would have started and I wouldn’t have time to learn a different playbook. Besides, their roster would be full. The coaches there wouldn’t know me so why would they move someone they know off their team just so I could join it? I’d have to give up football. I don’t want to give it up. I won’t give it up.”

“So stay here until football season is over. You’ll continue playing and being part of the team and all that stuff. Then when you go back to your school in Davis you’ll have newspaper clippings about your career, results of your games, pictures taken at your games and practices. You’ll give that to the football coach there and tell him what position you play and you’d like to try out for his team. You’ll be all set.”

“Wait a minute. There was something you said before you got so long winded. Lemme see.” I thought for a few seconds, and it came back to me.

“You said I should stay here until football season is over. That’s a good idea. But how do I get my folks to not sell our house so I can stay there through the end of the semester?”

“You wouldn’t stay at your house, your folks would never let you be there alone. You’d move to my house and live with me and my mom and dad.”

I couldn’t believe it. That’s exactly what I’d planned to do, to talk Todd into the idea of me staying with him and Aunt Nora and Uncle Dennis. And here he was the one saying that’s what I should do.

“We’d have to convince your folks, then mine,” I said.

“Piece of cake,” Todd told me. ‘Yeah, as if!’ I thought.

“It’s too bad we’re going to my house after school,” I said. “Otherwise we could have asked your mom today.”

“We can ask today.” Todd grinned.

“How? Go to your house after my practice, then ask her to drive us to my house?”

“That’s the way, exactamente! I’ll call her now and ask if that’s okay.”

“Okay. I guess.”

Todd pulled his cell out of his backpack. He looked at me. “You guess? No guessing about it. It’s the best way. I’ll bet she knows by the time we get to my house. I’ll bet your mom will have phoned her to tell her the news by then. Maybe even by now.”

I could hear both sides of the conversation because he turned on his speakerphone.

“Hi, Mom. I’m with Tony, and we’d like to come home and ask you something important before we go to his house for our overnighter. Is that okay? It means we’d want a ride to his house afterwards.”

“Hi, Todd. That’s okay with me. Tell Tony I know what the something important is.”

“You do? So what is it? Tony can hear you because I’ve got the speaker on.”

“Hi, Tony. I phoned your mother first thing this morning to chat about something else and she told me the long story about your dad’s new job and moving to Davis. She said you were very upset about it because they didn’t let you know until last night and it means you won’t be able to play football or work with Todd on the biology project. She’s very sorry about that, and I made a suggestion that when they move to Davis you move in with us until the semester ends. She agreed.”

I grabbed Todd’s hand and pulled his cell to my mouth and shouted, “Aunt Nora, thank you, thank you, thank you! That’s fantastic. I love you guys!”

Tony pulled his cell so it was between us. “Mom, I told Tony that he should stay with us, and he told me that he was going to ask me if he could do that. Seems like everyone came up with the same solution to his problem.”

“That it did. Now, Tony, you’d better phone your mom and tell her you love her too. She says it seems like you hate her because of the move.”

“I’ll call her right now. Thank you again. And thanks to Todd for suggesting it to me this morning when I told him we’d be moving.”

“Okay. Anything else, guys?”

Todd pulled his phone back so he was holding it in front of him. “Only that I guess we won’t need to come home after school, so I’ll ride the bus with Tony to his house like as usual.”

“Okay. Love you, Todd, and love you, Tony, too.”

“Love you, Mom.”

I leaned over Tony’s shoulder and shouted, “I love you too, Aunt Nora.”

We heard her laugh then say, “Bye, guys,” and she ended the call.

I had tears flowing down my cheeks.

“Why are you crying, Tony?” Todd asked.

“I guess because I’m so happy.” I wiped my eyes and cheeks off on my shirt sleeves. I took a deep breath. “Can you even begin to believe this?” I asked.

“Of course I can,” Todd replied. “Things usually turn out okay for us, don’t they?”

“Yeah, but I’m still going to have to move to Davis at the end of the semester. Scott and I are still going to have a tough time getting together starting in January. I’m still going to have to move to a new school and go through the whole newbie thing. But, it’s a heck of a lot better for me than it was when I got up this morning.”

Todd grinned. “It’s amazing that you and I and my mom all came up with the same idea for you to move in with us, all independently.”

“You know, I need to go see Coach Kavanaugh right now and tell him I won’t be moving until next semester.”

“Let’s go, then.”

“It’s almost time for homeroom, Todd. You don’t want to get marked as absent.”

“What about you?”

“Coach Kavanaugh marked me as present. They take roll and make the announcements in period zero classes, so I don’t go to homeroom.”

“Okay. I’m right next to where my homeroom is, so I’ll see you at lunch. And I won’t say anything to Scott or anyone else. Man, is he going to be surprised and happy when you tell him you’re going to be around here through the end of the semester.”

I grinned. “Yeah. Yeah! Okay, see you at lunch.”

I rushed to the gym and found Coach Kavanaugh and Jeff Liu organizing the weights and talking.

“Hey, Coach,” I said.

“Hi, Tony.”

“Do you have a couple minutes to talk?”

“Sure.” He looked at Jeff.

“I’ll check the locker room, Coach,” Jeff said.

When we were alone, I grinned. “I have good news. Well, for me it’s real good news. When my folks move to Davis I’ll move in and live with my Aunt Nora and Uncle Dennis. They’re my cousin Todd’s parents. So I’ll be at Wilson at least through this semester.”

Coach Kavanaugh smiled. “That is very good news, Tony. You didn’t tell anyone about moving to Davis, did you?”

“Just you, Scott, and Todd.”

“Then everything is lined up for the freshman football season. I’m glad you’re going to be on the team, Tony. I think we have one of the strongest freshman football teams since I’ve been at Wilson High. You’ll be a key member of our offense.”

I blushed. “Thanks, Coach. I’ll do my best.”

“I’ve already seen that in our practices. I think you’ll have fun this year. Our game with Campo on Friday will give you an opportunity to show what you can do. It’s also the first time you’ll be exposed to a bunch of guys who want to stop you, and take the ball away from you.”

“Yeah, well, they’re not gonna do that!” I said.

“Will you need a pass for your first period class, Tony?”

I looked up at the clock, and I only had five minutes to go from the gym across campus to the Language Arts building.

“Maybe I better. I’d don’t think I’d get to my class on time even if I ran.”

I got the pass and went to English.


I saw Scott for the first time today when we were in the line at the cafeteria. He was about five kids ahead of me. I called his name and he turned. I waved and he smiled then turned back to move to the food service and pick what he wanted for lunch. When I got there I asked for the Football meal. Today it was a broiled chicken thigh, brown rice, kale — definitely not one of my favorite veggies — raw carrots, vanilla yogurt, and an apple for dessert. I took a carton of milk and handed over my lunch card. The cashier punched out the ‘9’ for the ninth of September and handed it back.

When I got to our table there was an empty chair next to Scott, so that’s where I sat.

I said hi to everyone and began eating. We talked about miscellaneous stuff. Classes, teachers, the freshman election, the freshman dance.

Then Brian asked, “Tony, how’s the freshman football team going to do against Campo on Friday?”

“I don’t know. It’s the first game for both teams, so we don’t have any idea about how good Campo will be. I know that our Coach feels that we’re coming along okay. I assume that everyone here is going to come to the game to cheer us, right? That will help a lot.”

I was happy that everyone raised their hands and said “Yes!”

“You know,” I said, “some of us make announcements during lunch. Scott and I want to make an announcement today.”

I nudged Scott with my knee under the table. He grinned. “Tony and I would like to announce that we are, officially, boyfriends.”

There was cheering and congratulations and hugs. Kids at other tables looked around to see what was going on. A few friends from other tables listened to what was happening came over and congratulated us when they found out about me and Scott. The freshman football players came over and congratulated us, too. John Garchik made sure to announce, loudly, that he’d guessed that I had a boyfriend and that it was Scott. Some of the guys on the JV basketball team saw Scott standing and being hugged, so they came over and Scott told them. They all grinned and congratulated us. It seemed like every freshman in the cafeteria, and some sophomores and juniors too, knew about us by the time the lunch period was over.

After dropping off our trays I nudged Scott and whispered, “Let’s talk on the way to our next class.”

He nodded okay.

When we finally got away and were walking to the Language Arts building for our next classes, I put my arm around Scott’s shoulders.

“I have some good news. When my folks move to Davis I’m going to move in with Todd’s family. I’ll be here at least for the rest of the semester.”

Scott and I stopped and we turned to look at each other.

“Hey, that’s fantastic, Tony. That’s a lot better than it could have been. I was afraid that you’d be moving to Davis a lot sooner.”

“I looked it up while I was in Chorus. Mr. Emmonds has a big calendar on the wall showing all the months from now through January and all of our performances. This semester is over on January 23rd.”

Scott let out a big sigh. “That give us four months to be together and to figure out what to do when you move to Davis. What are you doing tonight?”

“This is Tuesday so Todd’s coming home with me. We’ll do our homework together when we get home. Tomorrow morning my dad will drive me to school for my period zero football practice, and Todd will take the bus to school with you and Frank. So, we don’t have anything planned for tonight. You want to come over? How about having dinner with us, then we can play a video game or watch TV. Unless there’s a reason you can’t do it, I’ll call my mom and tell her you’re coming over.”

“Is it okay if I come earlier, like right from when we get off the bus? My folks are going out to some business dinner tonight, so it’d only be me and Josh. For all I know he won’t be home for dinner anyway.”

“Sure. That way I can be with my two best bros, you and Todd. You want to sleep over?”

“No. If I did then I’d want to… well, let’s just say I think that would be a bad idea. Maybe some night when Todd won’t be at your house.”

“Okay. Oh, I have a question for you. Did you tell Josh that I’d be moving to Davis?”

“Nope. I decided that’s none of his business. My folks won’t tell him either. You’ll be glad to know that he’s happy that you and I are boyfriends… I did decide to tell him that. He told me that he thought it was about time I found someone who passed his ‘okay to be your boyfriend’ test.”

I laughed at Josh’s remark. “Okay, tell him I said thanks.”

We’d walked into the Language Arts building. “Well, I gotta head upstairs and finish my Spanish 3 homework. I’ll see you after school.”

“Je te verrai après l'école, Tony.”

“Ooo… I love it when you talk dirty.”

We both laughed and headed for our fifth period classes. When I got to the door to room L-214, I saw Todd walking toward me from the other end of the hall. I stepped aside to let people go into the classroom and waited for him.

“Hey, Tony.”

“Hey, back atcha. I invited Scott to come with us to my house after school. The three of us can do our homework together, then he’ll stay for dinner. His folks are going to a business dinner so it was only him and Josh left to figure out what to fix for their dinner. I know he doesn’t think much of Josh’s cooking skills. Or his own, either. After we eat we’ll play video games or watch TV or something.”

“Did you record the Monday night NFL game? I think it was Miami and someone. We could watch that, and you might pick up some tips.”

“Yeah, I set the DVR to record the game. It was New England and Kansas City. I don’t know who won, so that sounds good.” We heard the first bell so we entered the classroom and took our usual seats.

Between Spanish 3 and Biology I had time to go outside and call Mom. I thanked her for working out the deal with Aunt Nora so I could stay at Wilson until the end of the semester. I asked her about having Scott join us for dinner and she said that was fine, especially after I told her otherwise he’d have to eat Josh’s cooking, or even worse his own. Mom laughed, and I said goodbye. Then I sent a text to Scott to let him know it was okay.


When I got home I hugged Mom and thanked her again for agreeing with Aunt Nora that I could stay at Todd’s house for the rest of the semester when she and Dad moved to Davis.

“You’re welcome, Tony. You know that Aunt Nora and Uncle Dennis will have to be named as your guardians and their home as your permanent address so you can stay at Wilson.”

“I guess that’s okay, isn’t it?”

“Yes, that’s okay. Your father and I will still be your parents of record.”

“That sounds very legalistic,” Todd said.

“It should be Todd,” Mom said. “I spent part of this afternoon talking to your father and he explained the process and got the paperwork started so we’ll have it when we need it. It’s good to have a relative who’s an attorney.”

The three of us went upstairs and Todd and I changed. Scott served as an amused audience when we did a ‘see, we are exactly the same everywhere’ show and tell. Then we went downstairs and did our homework on the dining room table.

After that Mom had me set the table, and Todd and Scott helped. She’d fixed pot roast with lots of veggies and wild rice, and a green salad with my favorite blue cheese dressing, for dinner.

While we ate our main topics of conversation were how everybody loved the dinner; Dad’s new position at UC Davis and what math classes he’d be teaching; that Dr. Sanderson told me that I might be able to take college classes at UC Davis for free since Dad’s an instructor there (Dad said he’d have to check on that); the freshman football game with Campo on Friday; my Aunt Betty and Uncle Phil coming tomorrow and videotaping the game with Campo; the football training meal I had for lunch (I mentioned the kale that I don’t like because it’s tough and stringy, and mom said it isn’t when it’s cooked properly); our idea for the Freshman Prank (taping an F in front of the names of the Art classrooms and the Art and Language Arts building signs — both Dad and Scott thought it was hilarious, Mom thought we’d get in trouble, we said we’d disguise ourselves with hoodies and ski masks so our faces weren’t identifiable, and besides we’d use regular paper and transparent tape so it would be easy to remove); and finally the school freshman election and dance (Mom asked if we were we going to any Halloween parties, we said we hadn’t heard of any and hadn’t been invited to any, anyhow — everyone groaned at my excess of ‘anys’).

The three of us cleaned up the kitchen, and because it was full I put a detergent pack in the dishwasher and turned it on. I asked Dad if we could use the TV in the family room, and he said yes. I found the Monday Night football game on the DVR and turned it on. The game was one that none of us had seen and we didn’t know the score either. I mean, we live in California and a game with New England and Kansas City isn’t real high on our interest scale. We all said New England should win. They didn’t. They got creamed, 41 to 14. It was a big upset.

“I hope your game ends as good for Wilson as this game ended for Kansas City,” Scott said.

“Yeah. I watched the offenses, especially the running backs. What I saw that made a big difference in this game — and would make a big difference in our game against Campo — were the offensive and defensive lines. Kansas City owned the line. What I saw was something I’d heard Coach Lenning telling the defensive linemen and Coach Kavanaugh telling the offensive linemen. Move on the snap. Not before, that’s a penalty. Not after, that means our opponent will have the jump on us. Same with the backfield on offense. We need to move fast. By doing that we’ll have a jump on the opponent’s defense.”

“What if you have the ball and some huge guy is coming after you. What do you do?” Todd asked.

“Run like hell,” I said. We all laughed. “Seriously, big usually means slow to react. Changing my tempo to slow down or speed up and jigging to his preferred side. Then if he takes the bait I go the other direction.”

“What’s a preferred side?”

“Like if you’re right handed it’s your right side.”

“Oh. I guess it takes a real good eye.”

“Yeah, it does. I’ve learned a lot about how to look for what’s happening. Like watching where the defensive players will be. Judging if they are coming for you and where from. Knowing where your blockers are, and which defensive players they will take out of your path. That’s the way to run.”

Scott stood up. “I’d better head home, Tony. This has been a busy day, and I’m tired.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I said.

I walked Scott to the front door. I grabbed him in a hug, and we kissed.

“See you tomorrow, boyfriend,” I said.

Scott grinned. “Tomorrow’s going to be a happy day, boyfriend. See you at lunch.”

I returned to the family room.

“Hey, Todd. Let’s head upstairs,” I said.

“Sounds good.”

We went to the living room and said goodnight to my folks, then went upstairs to my room.

“You want to do something?” I asked.

“Yes, I do. Let’s check out Davis High School,” Todd said.

“You make it sound like there’s only one high school in Davis.”

“Well, let’s go online and find out.”

We did. I sat down at the keyboard, and Todd pulled my side chair over and sat next to me.

“Oh-kay, let’s Google Davis High School,” Todd said.

I entered ‘davis high school’ and picked ‘davis high school davis ca’ from the drop-down list. There were other Davis High Schools in other places, and we weren’t interested in them.

The first choice was ‘Davis Senior High School: Home Page’.

On the right there was a box with a map showing the location of the school on West 14th Street, and displayed their mascot, a dark blue-colored devil.

“Looks like their mascot is probably the Blue Devil,” Todd said.

“I suppose,” I responded.

The description from Wikipedia read: “Davis Senior High School is one of four high schools located in Davis, California, in the United States. DHS is a WASC accredited, 3-year, public comprehensive high school covering grades 10-12. The campus opened its current location in 1961.”

“Wow, it’s only a three year high school instead of the four years here. It also says there are four high schools in Davis.”

“Let’s Google that,” Todd said.

I entered ‘high schools in davis ca’ and found the websites for two high schools.

“Okay, it looks like there are two public high schools in Davis, Davis Senior High School which is abbreviated DSHS, and Da Vinci Charter Academy Senior High School which is abbreviated DVHS. Both schools have grades ten thru twelve. No freshman class at either school. Junior High Schools have grades seven thru nine. Really different than where we go to school.

“DSHS has 1,720 students. That makes it a lot bigger school than Wilson if you don’t count our ninth grade. You were right, their mascot is the Blue Devils.

“DVHS has 315 students and uses a team project approach for instruction, whatever that is. It appeares that kids who go to DVHS also go to DSHS for some classes, so they are encouraged to bike to school so they can go between the two campuses. It says that it’s about a ten minute bike ride. You can also take the bus.

“If someone wants to go out for a sport it has to be at DSHS. They have varsity and JV football teams, but no freshman team. Well, that makes sense, they don’t have a ninth grade freshman class.

“I found the school calendars. The one for DVHS is empty. The one for DSHS has everything for every month of this school year. I suppose it applies to DVHS as well.

“Hmm… this is interesting. Their first semester ends on Friday, December 19th. Wilson’s first semester doesn’t end until Friday, January 23rd. Their semester ends five weeks earlier than ours at Wilson.

“This is very weird. Maybe it’s when the school year starts. Nope, Wilson started on Monday, August 25th and they started on Tuesday, August 26th. Their school year ends on Thursday, June 11th, ours ends on Friday, June 12th. That couldn’t be the difference. What's making this difference that lets their first semester end on December 19th?

“Okay, their first quarter is a week shorter than ours, ending a week earlier on October 17th, at Wilson it's October 24th. I can’t tell from their calendar but maybe their second quarter is a week shorter too. That's two weeks. Wilson has midterms week, they don’t. That’s three weeks.

“Okay, that’s it. Cut those three weeks out of Wilson’s first semester it would move our last day of school to December 19th, the Friday before the winter break starts. Maybe that’s why they do it, so the first semester ends before Christmas. Then they probably add the extra weeks to the second semester.”

“That’ll really mess you up trying to transfer in the middle of the year,” Todd said. “I think you need to stay at Wilson for your entire freshman year.”

“I agree. Besides, if I transfer mid-year I’ll have to go to a junior high school instead of a high school. That sucks. It’d be like transferring back to middle school with all those little kids running around. I don’t want to do that.”

“I seriously think you need to sit down with your folks and talk about this.”

“If I transfer at the end of Wilson’s first semester I’d be starting three weeks into their second semester. I can’t leave Wilson early because I’d miss two weeks of classes and first semester midterms. What a mess.”

Todd laughed. “Maybe you’ll have to go to both schools simultaneously until things match up.”

“Well, fortunately that can’t happen. I’m going to print the Wilson and DSHS calendars for the whole school year so I can show my folks how this isn’t going to work for me unless I stay at Wilson for the whole freshman year.”

Todd yawned. “I’ll get ready for bed while you do that. I’m starting to fade.”

“Okay. It’ll take me about ten or fifteen minutes to edit and key in the page of notes I wrote, then print everything. I think there’s enough here to keep me from transferring until the school year is over. That’s the only thing that makes sense.”


Thanks to Cole Parker for editing A Time When It All Went Wrong

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