Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?
Jason and Ron got to school early on Monday. Jason made up an excuse for not walking to school with Jen and Thea, saying he and Ron had to meet with Steve to go over an English 1 assignment. At least the ‘meet with Steve’ part was the truth.
“Hey, Steve!” Jason called out, and Steve waved them over to the bench where he sat with the three girls. Jason and Ron walked over and sat on the wall opposite the bench.
“I’ve just disappointed the girls” Steve said. “I told them that I already have a boyfriend.”
Tiffany responded, “And here after we’d found the exactly perfect boyfriend for him! Oh well, what it means is we can move on to our next customer.”
Rose and Elana smiled and nodded that they agreed.
“Tiffany, we might have a customer for you,” Jason said. “When I talked to a friend of mine at church yesterday he told me that he’s been looking for a boyfriend but can’t figure out which guys are gay. He’s a sophomore, and Ron and I don’t know any guys who are sophomores and are gay except Doug Lin and Mike Nakamura, and they’re already boyfriends. Do you know any sophomore guys who are gay and single, and would you be willing to help him? I don’t want to tell you who he is because he’s freaked about being outed.”
“Yes, of course we can help him,” Tiffany said. “Elana and I are sophomores, so we can take on the job of finding a gay sophomore for your friend once we know what he’s looking for, you know, what he likes to do, is he into sports, is he smart, stuff like that.”
“Hmm…” Jason thought for a few seconds. He needed to give answers, but not so specific that he’d out Devin.
“Well, he likes to swim, he likes to play tennis, I think he’s pretty smart because he’s in one of my classes,” Jason fibbed, “and he gets good grades.”
“What class is that,” Rose asked.
“You’re a freshman and you’re taking Geometry? I thought you’d have to be at least a sophomore to be able to take Geometry.”
“Come on, Rose, there are lots of other freshmen in my Geometry class. I took Algebra 1 in middle school, and those other freshmen did too. The next class after Algebra 1 is Geometry, so that’s why there are freshmen taking this class. Anyway, my friend is taking Geometry this semester.” Jason grinned. He and Devin were both taking Geometry, just not the same class or period.
“Okay, let’s see what else… does he like sports? I mean, watching them on TV or in person?”
“Yes to both.”
“What’s he like to read?”
“I’m not sure. I think he likes science fiction but I don’t know what else he likes.”
“Same answer as I gave to your last question, except I know he likes Glee and CSI ‘cause he’s mentioned them.”
“Does he have any siblings?”
“Does he drink? Do drugs?”
“Jeez, I don’t know for sure, but knowing what he’s like I’d say no and no.”
“Is he just looking for a hookup to get his rocks off, or is he serious?”
Jason laughed. “Get his rocks off? Absolutely not. He's definitely serious.”
“Is he religious?”
“Not particularly, but he goes to church.”
“St. Stephen’s, his family is Catholic.”
“Oh! Is his preference for a boyfriend someone who’s Catholic?”
“He doesn’t care. Remember, I said that he’s not particularly religious.”
“Is he out to his parents? Does he want a boyfriend who’s out to his parents?”
“Definitely no, and I don’t know.”
“Are his parents homophobic?”
“Father, definitely yes. Mother, he doesn’t know but he is concerned about that for sure. He’s in the closet and doesn’t plan on coming out to his folks any time soon.”
“Is a boyfriend who’s out at school okay or not?”
“I don’t know; you’d have to ask him about that. Because of his parents it’s likely that could be something that he might be concerned about.”
“Political party?” Tiffany smirked.
“Political party? Gimme a break! First, I don’t know. Second, what difference does that make?”
“Some kids are sort of over the top about politics. I accept your answer to mean ‘No,’ is that okay?”
“Yes for taking it as a no. But be sure to ask him that question.” Now Jason smirked.
“Does race make any difference to him?”
“I don’t think so. Most of the kids around here don’t care about someone’s race so I guess you could assume no.”
“Good answer. Okay, I think we have enough to get started.” She looked at her two friends. “Either of you have any questions?”
“Nope,” Rose and Elana replied.
“Alright. Jason, I’ll call you tonight and let you know when I can meet with him. Is that okay?”
“Sure. Except please call me Jase.”
“Okay, Jase. Now, what I suggest is that I meet with your friend to check him out and make sure he’s serious and find out more details about what he’s looking for in a boyfriend. Do you think that’ll that be okay with him?”
“Yes. What will happen then?”
“If we think he’s okay and really is gay then we’ll look over our list of gay sophomores who are single. If we find a gay guy and they’re a fit, you know, their interests and that sort of thing, then we’ll give your friend the name and phone number of the guy we’re recommending and they can talk and decide if they want to meet or whatever. If they do, then basically our job is done. If they don’t hit it off, and that can happen, in that case we’ll find out why he didn’t like the guy, and vice-versa, and try to consider those things in our next selection.”
“That seems simple,” Jason said, and then he grinned. “You have a list of guys who are gay? Do you have them in all grades?”
“Mostly freshmen and sophomores, with a couple juniors and seniors.”
“Is that all there is to your dating service?”
“No, there’s three things about our dating service.
“First, everything is totally private and confidential. Your friend has to agree that he won’t out anyone we tell him about.
“Second, no guarantees. If your friend doesn’t like any of our recommendations and we run out of candidates, we aren’t required to go any further. Or if we don’t like your friend for any reason we don’t have to find any candidates for him.
“Third, this is a free service. No one pays us for what we do.”
“Jeez, you’re running this like a business, but you don’t get paid? What do you get out of it?” Ron asked.
“We get the satisfaction of getting two guys, or two girls, or a guy and a girl, together.” Tiffany saw Jason and Ron’s surprised expressions. “We’re gender-agnostic and serve both gay and straight kids. We plan to run the same kind of dating service when we’re in college, but there we’re going to charge people but only if we find a match for them. After we get out of college we’ll have a great business plan that will help the three of us find jobs after we graduate.”
“That’s cool, and real smart of the three of you,” Ron responded.
“When do you want to meet with our friend?” Jason asked, getting the discussion back on track.
“When do you think he’d be available to meet in private with me?”
“Tomorrow.” Jason grinned. “I told you he’s serious.”
“That’s cool. We can meet before school or during lunch. After school won’t work because my boyfriend and I have tickets to the Campo game and I’m going right home after school to get ready. My dad’s taking us and we’re stopping for pizza on the way.”
“I’ll talk to him today and let you know. Let’s trade cell numbers and I’ll call you tonight.” They tapped their phones together and their names and cell numbers were automatically transferred.
“Tell you what,” Tiffany said, “I’d rather call you because I’m going shopping with my mom tonight and I’m not sure what time I’ll be home. But it won’t be too late, say by eight or eight thirty. Is that okay?”
“Sure. Now, where to you want to meet him?”
They were interrupted by the first bell.
“Time for another wonderful day of classes at Hillcrest High School,” Ron said.
Steve stood up. “Damn, I forgot my Spanish writing assignment. I gotta go to my locker, I’ll see you guys in Homeroom, and you girls whenever.” He left on a run for building 300.
“Where’s your Homeroom, Jase?” Tiffany asked.
“Room 207. Ron and Steve are in the same Homeroom.”
“Okay. Mine is in 219. Let’s walk together and talk about where and when to meet your friend.”
“How about you meet him at lunch? That way you’ll have enough time. Meeting him before school doesn’t give much time.”
“That’s good. Now where can we meet that’s relatively private?”
“How about outside at the west end of building 400, overlooking the creek? Will that work?” Ron suggested.
“For some reason nobody goes there,” Jason added. “I guess because it’s not near the cafeteria. It’s nice. There’s grass and a bench.”
“Works for me. Will you let him know?” Tiffany asked.
“I’ll tell him today. Can I tell him your name?”
“Sure. I’ll need his name, too.”
“Okay, I’ll get his okay to tell you his name and, assuming he’s okay with it, I’ll tell you when you call me tonight. I’ll also let you know what he says about meeting at lunch tomorrow.”
Jason and Ron joined up with Devin to eat their lunches and talk outside. They went to the same spot at the west end of building 400 that they suggested for his lunchtime meeting with Tiffany on Thursday. Devin seemed a bit nervous.
Jason smiled “Tiffany, she’s the girl who’s working on finding you a boyfriend, would like to meet with you tomorrow at lunch, where we are right now. This is a quiet spot and it’s private. Hardly anyone comes here during lunch.”
“Okay, that’s good. What’s Tiffany want to talk to me about?”
“She wants to get to know you. She’ll ask some general questions and maybe some more detailed or personal questions about what you’re looking for in a boyfriend. You know, what you like to do, where you like to go, what sports you like, stuff like that. She also wants to make sure you’re serious about finding someone who could become your boyfriend. And it’s completely confidential.”
“Like I told you on Saturday, that is exactly what I want. I’m not sure there are any gay guys at Hillcrest who are sophomores. Most important, I think it’s going to be tough to find a guy who’ll like me.”
“Say what?” Ron said, shaking his head. “You’re crazy. I’ve never heard a good looking guy like you ever say they think it would be tough for them to find someone who’d like them.”
“Some people say that I have weird hair,” Devin said. “You know, it’s spiked and the tips are bleached. I’m not tall. I’m not into sports like football and basketball. I’m not into video games. I’m sort of nerdy. I like going to school. I get good grades. My folks are homophobic. There are a lot of reasons.”
Ron disagreed. “I like your hair, it’s cool. So stop worrying about it. I think the other things you just said can be advantages. Well, except having homophobic parents probably isn’t an advantage. Anyway, Jase and I aren’t into video games. We like going to school. We’re not tall. Well, at least Jason isn’t tall.” Ron smirked, and Jason elbowed him in his side. Then he continued, “We’re sort of nerdy. And a lot more reasons why we like each other and that we’re boyfriends. The same is going to work in your favor.”
“I agree,” Jason said. “One thing we haven’t said enough about is how good looking you are. When you walked in to pick up Jen last week I couldn’t believe how fantastic you looked. My sister Thea said you’re mega hot and if Jen wanted a new boyfriend she couldn’t go wrong by picking you.” Jason grinned. “I even said you’re too cute to be straight. That’s before I knew you were gay.”
“People tell me that, but what has it gotten me? Girls chat me up and hang around, but guys keep their distance. I look too straight or something.”
“Well, Tiffany said she’s going to find you a boyfriend. At least she claims she will. It’s a free service, so sit back and enjoy the show. If it works it’s all good. And if it doesn’t you’re not out anything except maybe a little of your time. Oh, and your name. She needs to know your name and probably needs your phone number. Is it okay if I tell her?”
“Sure, if you really trust her to keep it private. And give her my cell number. I don’t want her to use my home number.”
“Okay. That part is easy because I don’t know your home number.”
“I’m still worried about being outed at school. What if one of the guys she picks for me doesn’t like me and outs me?”
“I know that’s not going to happen! You’d just turn around and out him.”
“I love your confidence, Jase. Loan me some of it, okay?”
“Sorry, that’s something you’ve got to build on your own, Devin.”
That evening Jason got a call on his cell. The caller ID read ‘Out of Area’ but he answered anyway.
“Hi, Jase. This is Tiffany. You got a few min right now?”
“Yup. As much time as you need.”
“Cool. Is your friend willing to meet me tomorrow at lunchtime?”
“Yes. At the place we suggested at the west end of building 400.”
“Good. Does he know why we’re meeting?”
“Yes. He seemed a bit nervous when we talked about it today. He’s afraid that someone will out him and it’ll get back to his folks.”
“That’s absolutely not going to happen.”
“I told him that already. I’ll call him tonight and tell him it’s on for tomorrow and to stop worrying, that no one is going to out him. Will you have the name of someone to give him when you meet him tomorrow?”
“No, we’ll work on that based on my meeting with him and find out what he’s looking for in a boyfriend. Now I need to know his name, Jase.”
“Yeah, I figured you would, and I got his permission. It’s Devin Elrich.”
“Oh my god! You’re kidding, right? No, you’re not kidding, are you! Man, he’s hot. I wish he was straight. I might just go for him myself.” She laughed.
“Hey, you have a boyfriend already, so what’s this going for Devin stuff?” Jason laughed. “So keep your hands off.”
“Just kidding, just kidding! Oh, I am so going to enjoy my meeting with him tomorrow.”
“Just don’t scare him, Tiffany.”
“Am I scary? Nah, I don’t think so. I don’t scare anyone.”
“Just sayin’ he’s not all that self-confident and gets tense, so go easy on him, okay?”
“Okay, I’ll go easy on him. I assume you’ll find out all about it from Devin, so I won’t bother calling you back tomorrow evening. Now it’s all between me and my crew and Devin.”
“Yeah, I’m sure I will find out about it from Devin.” Jason laughed. “I really think he’ll be a good client for you. Do you want his cell number?”
“No. I’ll get it from him tomorrow. I agree that he’ll be a good client. In fact, I have a perfect candidate in mind. I think they’ll like each other, and they’ll get along great. I gotta get to my homework, so unless you have something else I’ll say g’bye.”
“Nope, I’ve covered everything I wanted to tell you. Oh, wait, I do have a question. Are you surprised that Devin is gay?”
“Yeah. I’d never have guessed. Really. But it’s my opinion that everyone should have the right to love who they want. That includes a hot guy like Devin. Especially a hot gay guy like Devin who has homophobic parents. I hope we can find him a boyfriend and it works out great for him — actually, for both of them.”
“I agree. He deserves to find a nice guy and be happy.”
“Well, the last thing I have to say, Jase, is go do your homework. Bye”
Jason laughed. “I will, and you do yours too. Bye, Tiffany.”
Jase and Ron couldn’t believe their luck — they both won tickets to the Campo game in the lottery. So, Tuesday evening found them in a school bus on their way to the Campo campus.
Ron started laughing.
“Campo campus. That’s poetic. ‘Campo campus campfires.’ How’s that, Jase?”
“Silly, but funny. What other words can you add that aren’t just build on those?”
“Damn, I don’t know. Hmm… how about ‘Campo campus camel campfire campaign champagne’?”
“That doesn’t make any sense. Leave the ‘camel’ out and it’s better. But champagne doesn’t rhyme very well with the other words.”
Jayden turned around from his seat in front of Jason and Ron. “How ‘bout you leave all of the words out?”
“That’s the best idea I’ve heard since this bus trip started,” Todd said from across the aisle.
“Well, this is a super boring bus trip, and I’m just trying to make it more enjoyable with a little humor,” Ron stated.
“Very, very, little humor, in my opinion,” Jayden joked.
“Okay, then. How about we do the ‘One Thousand Bottles of Beer on the Bar’ chant and see how long the drive to the Campo campus takes?”
“I’ll tell you what that drive will be, Ron,” Marcus interjected from his seat in back of Ron and Jason. “It will drive the rest of us crazy long before we get to Campo.”
“Huh! See what my impromptu attempts at entertainment get me, Jase? Nothing but complaints, that’s what I get.”
“Hey,” Todd said, “I think we’re at Campo High now.”
Proving he was right, the bus slowed and turned into the parking lot next to the Campo High gym.
“Okay, everyone out,” the bus driver called out. “You know the drill, first row first, second row second, and so on. No crowding in the aisle. Let’s go, people! Make sure you have your ticket to get into the gym. Take everything you brought with you because you might be on a different bus for the return trip.”
The bleachers slowly filled as the Campo varsity warmed up at one end of the court and the Hillcrest varsity at the other. Jason and Ron wanted to ask Devin what happened at his meeting with Tiffany, but they needed a private location and the stands at a basketball game didn’t fit that description. So they sat and talked among themselves.
“Hey, Marcus, which team do you think is best?” Jayden shouted.
“Hillcrest!” Marcus shouted in reply.
That started a Hillcrest yell, repeated about twenty times.
The Campo fans did their yell, ‘Campo Rules’ repeated about fifty times.
“And you guys thought ‘One Thousand Bottles of Beer on the Bar’ would drive us crazy,” Jason shouted.
The Campo gym started getting hot. “I think they turned up the heat to get us off our game,” Marcus said. “I’ll bet they practiced all week with the heat turned up.”
“Can they do that?” Jayden asked.
“I’ll bet Coach Larsen’s going to complain to the officials about the temperature.”
They watched that happen, and an animated discussion between the opposing coaches and the officials resulted.
“Who’s that man who just came out of the stands and joined the discussion?” Ken Garner asked Marcus.
“I think he’s an official from the North Coast Section. Since we’re going into the playoffs regardless of how this game comes out, he’d be here as a Section representative. I’ll bet Campo didn’t realize there’d be a NCS official here.”
“Look,” Marcus said, “the Campo coach keeps shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head like he doesn’t know why the air conditioning doesn’t work and the heat is turned on. Fat chance of that.”
“Maybe you’re being a little paranoid,” Devin said. “A coach wouldn’t mess with something like that, their job would be at risk.”
“Well, let’s see,” Marcus responded. “I think they’re going to get the air conditioning turned on real quick. Just watch.”
“Look, another guy just came in,” Ron said. They watched as he walked up to the group talking at center court and joined the discussion.
“Look, he’s leaving,” Marcus said.
“You know, I recognize that guy,” Ron said. “He used to be a vice principal at Livingston High. My dad knows him, and he and his wife came to our house several times. His name is John Burriss, and I’m pretty sure that he’s the Principal of Campo High now.”
He exited the gym and a couple minutes later returned with a man in coveralls.
“I’ll bet that guy’s on the maintenance staff here,” Marcus said. “Look, he’s checking the thermometer at the north end of the gym.”
“It appears that Marcus was correct,” Jayden said. "Look, the maintenance guy has a key to unlock the thermostat box, and he adjusted something then closed and locked the box.”
They watched as he walked to the south end of the gym and did the same to the thermostat at that end. Then he walked over to the Principal and they talked for a few seconds. The maintenance guy left.
The Hillcrest fans started to feel the cool air now that the air conditioning had been turned on. They also felt the temperature in the gym begin to lower. Their cheerleaders led them in several Hillcrest High cheers.
“See, I told you,” Marcus said. “I’ll bet some heads are going to roll when this thing gets investigated by the NCS.”
“You’re right, Marcus,” Devin admitted. “I can’t believe a coach would do something stupid like that. He’ll probably lose his job.”
“Campo probably needs a new basketball coach anyway,” Marcus added. “There’s a story in the Times today about how their teams had losing records ever since this coach took over.”
“Look,” Jason said, “the NCS guy and the principal are making an announcement.”
“Excuse me. I’m John Burriss, Principal of Campo High School. Mr. Christopher Freitas, a director on the North Coast Section staff, has authorized a thirty minute delay in the start of this basketball game to allow the temperature to be lowered to a level that will not interfere with game play. Thank you.”
The Hillcrest High fans shouted their approval, and there were a few boos from the Campo side, but mostly they were silent.
“Do they have a soft drink machine here?” Jason asked.
“No. Campo doesn’t allow any food or drinks in the stands at their games,” Marcus told them. “There’s probably a water fountain in the hall.”
“That’s a bummer,” Jason responded.
After about 20 minutes the Hillcrest team ran onto the court and started their warm-ups. A few minutes later the Campo team came out and began their warm-ups.
The game started and the final result became obvious after the first few minutes. To the delight of the Hillcrest fans, the Eagles won 107 to 66.
The trip home on the bus seemed much shorter. Jason fell asleep, and Ron opened the Kindle app on his cell and read the next few chapters of a mystery story, The Final Justice.
Wednesday morning Jason and Ron met Devin in the quad. They sat on a bench barely long enough for the three of them.
“Well, how did it go with you and Tiffany?” Jason asked Devin.
“Great. Tiffany is nice, and she explained that her questions were so she could figure out what kind of guy I’m looking for. Her questions were easy to answer. When we were finished she told me about someone who she thought would be perfect. She gave me his name and cell number. I know him!” Devin smiled, obviously very happy. “I thought I might see him at the game, except when I met him in class he told me that he didn’t get a ticket in the lottery. That was a bummer. So anyway we decided to meet at Peet’s after school today.”
“Well, who is it?” Ron asked.
“You probably don’t know him because he’s a sophomore. He’s in three of my classes, so we’ve known each other enough to say ‘hi’ in class and in the halls. He’s Chinese and his name is Brandon Tang. Do either of you guys know him?”
Ron shook his head and replied, “No.”
Jason replied, “I don’t know him but I’ve heard Jen talk about him. He’s the kid who started the petition drive to get Ms. Mateo, the Biology teacher, replaced.”
“So he’s the one who did that!” Ron said. “Devin, your potential boyfriend is famous at Hillcrest High. When you meet him today, ask him about Ms. Mateo. She’s probably the most infamous teacher at Hillcrest High.”
“Okay, I’ll do that. It helps to know some things like that so I don’t sound like a total dweeb newbie when we meet. Anything else you can tell me?”
“Nope,” Jason replied. “When you see Jen today, ask her. You can tell her you’re getting together with Brandon and that you two are gay, and she’ll be real helpful.”
“Maybe I can get together with her at lunch today.”
“Don’t forget you can tell him about the game since he wasn’t there. Including how they turned off the air conditioning and turned on the heat.”
“That’s a great suggestion. Any other suggestions?”
“No, but I have a question,” Ron said. “How come you’re not meeting with Brandon during lunch today?”
“We decided to meet where it’s more private. Brandon said that sitting outside at Peet’s and having a coffee drink will be much better than trying to get together at lunch. Besides, we can talk longer, as long as we want, by meeting after school somewhere where other kids don’t hang out.”
“What’s your mom going to say when you tell her you’ll be late getting home today?” Jason asked.
“I already told her. I said I’m getting together with Brandon Tang to go over the material that’s going to be on our APUSH test on Friday, and I’ll be home around six. She’s okay with that, and she’s glad I’m making friends at Hillcrest.”
“What’s APUSH? And is that going to actually happen on Friday?” Ron asked.
“APUSH is Advanced Placement United States History. If you’re asking if we’re going to have an APUSH test on Friday, that’s true. If you’re also asking if I’m getting together with Brandon to study, that’s not necessary. We both have the material down cold, and the test is going to be a slam-dunk for us. Not to brag, ya know.” Devin grinned. “We’re going to be talking about us, learning about each other and finding out if we’re going to be just friends or boyfriends.”
“You’re a brainiac if you’re taking an AP class as a sophomore,” Ron commented.
“Do you know where ‘brainiac’ comes from?” Devin asked.
“Yup,” Ron replied. “The Brainiac originally came from an old Superman comic strip way back when my granddad was a kid. He’s a super-intelligent alien villain, one of Superman’s enemies. They also used the character in the Smallville TV show.”
“Are you going to tell us about your meeting with Brandon?” Jason asked.
“Sure, why not? We can meet right here, Thursday morning before school.”
Jason and Ron agreed with the time and place for a Thursday morning meeting with Devin, then they heard the first bell and got up and headed for their respective Homerooms and another typical day as high school students.
Thursday morning they sat in their usual location in the quad. The bench couldn’t be called comfortable, though as a result there wouldn’t be anyone else trying to squeeze in.
Ron grinned sort of a smarmy grin. “So, Devin my man, how did it go yesterday afternoon with Mr. Tang?”
Devin’s smile could only be described as infectious.
“Good, I take it?” Jason asked, and he returned Devin’s smile.
“You don’t know the half of it. It’s like… like we are supposed to be together. I’ve never met anyone like Brandon. He’s smart, and funny, and sweet, and wonderful, and amazing, and we like lots of the same things, and we’re going on a date Friday night.”
“You’re going on a date? Already?” Ron asked.
“Yes. We’re not sure where we’re going to go, but part will be to have a nice dinner somewhere.”
“Why a nice dinner?” Jason asked. “You’ve just met the guy. It’s not like you’re boyfriends yet.”
“Yes we are.”
“What? Man, that’s fast,” Ron observed.
“We’re going to celebrate becoming boyfriends.”
“Have you two messed around yet?” Ron inquired, wiggling his eyebrows and grinning.
“What? No! That’s something that’ll come a lot later.”
“Then what’s this boyfriend thing?”
“Look, when a boy and a girl become boyfriend-girlfriend it doesn’t always mean they’re having sex. It means they’re dating, and usually exclusively. That’s what Brandon and I are going to do, we’re going to date each other and we will be dating only each other. I think Ron had a term that can be used for it: ‘no double-dipping.’ Right, Ron?”
“That’s correct. You know, a gay guy having a boyfriend often — or usually — means they’re messing around, too. Having sex. At least around here that’s what it means,” Ron told Devin.
“What Ron said is true,” Jason added. “So you and Brandon are dating now, and only dating each other. So, what are you going to do on your date?”
“We’re still thinking about it, but we’ll probably see a movie. Since today’s the day the theaters change some of what they’re showing, Brandon’s going to check what’s playing downtown and at the mall. So we'll probably see a movie, then we’ll go somewhere nice for dinner, maybe that new Italian place that just opened downtown. Brandon said he’d like to eat there to try it out. Or maybe at Stanford’s, that’s my idea.”
“That sounds cool,” Jason said.
“One other thing. At lunch today, can Brandon and I sit at your table?”
“Sure. We’d love to have some new guys. And guys who are sophomores. I think having nothing but freshmen at our table is getting boring,” Ron said. “That okay with you, Jase?”
“Sure. There’s room, so it’s all good.”
“Brandon and I plan to tell the people at your table that we’re gay and boyfriends” Devin smiled. “I want to share our good news with everyone.”
“Cool down a bit, Devin!” Ron said in a loud whisper. “You gotta keep things under control. Telling the peeps at our table that you and Brandon are boyfriends is one thing, but you gotta tell them it’s confidential, and I don’t think you should tell anyone else for now. Let this simmer for a while, then see if telling others makes sense.”
Devin smiled. “Okay. That’ll work for now.”
They heard the first bell and got up to go to their Homerooms.
“I’ll see you guys at lunch, and you can meet Brandon.” Devin turned and walked toward building 300 and his Homeroom.
As Jason and Ron walked from the quad to building 200, Ron bumped his elbow in Jason’s side.
“Ow! What!?” Jason asked.
“Do you ever get the feeling that something is happening and it’s positive but you’re worried that it isn’t?”
“Yeah. You mean Devin and Brandon.”
“No, I mean Devin and his mom. I can see Devin deciding to tell his mom he’s gay, and has a boyfriend, and she doesn’t take it well. Just like your mom.”
“We can’t control an out of control Devin, Ron.”
“I know, I know! I’m just worried because he told us that he thinks she’s homophobic.”
“Well, if you remember my mom was homophobic too.”
“There’s a big difference. Your dad and sisters were totally on your side. Devin doesn’t have anyone else. In fact, he said his dad is an uber-homophobe. What if they decide to send him to one of those ex-gay camps? He said he’d run away, but how would he do that? His mom would call the police and they’d drag him home. Then if they actually put him in one of those places, they’re supposed to be like prisons. You know, walls and guards and locked cells and brainwashing.”
“Ron, your mom works with CPS. Why don’t you ask her what might happen and what Devin or someone else can do to prevent that from happening?”
“She’ll say that Devin has to keep the fact he’s gay to himself.”
“You saw the way he was just now. He’s planning to out himself to our friends at lunch. They’re going to be real supportive. That could give him a false perception that his mom’s going to be real supportive too. Maybe she will be, but what if she isn’t?”
As they walked into building 200 Jason thought about what they could do, what little they could do, to keep Devin from accidentally or on purpose telling his mom that he’s gay and that he has a boyfriend.
“Ron, at lunch we have to talk to Devin to make sure he keeps his mouth shut at home about the gay thing and especially the boyfriend thing. You talk to your mom tonight. I’ll talk to my folks and Jen tonight. Maybe we can get some ideas how to help him if he does blab.”
They walked into their Homeroom and took their usual seats. Jason worried about Devin. What Ron said could come true if Devin wasn’t careful. They had to talk to him at lunch and, like that TV show, try to scare him straight.
Jason kept watching the entrance to the cafeteria, looking for Devin.
While he did that, Ron told the rest of the lunch crew that someone would be joining them for lunch, and it would be a big surprise. Finally he felt Jason bump his arm.
“They’re walking this way with their trays,” Jason whispered to Ron.
Connie didn’t hear Jason. But she did see Devin and Brandon walking in their general direction. She stage-whispered to Linda, “There’s that new guy, Devin something. He is so cute!”
“He’s coming this way!” Linda said out loud.
“Who’s coming this way?” Kevin asked.
“His name is Devin. He has such sexy hair, all spiked and the tips are bleached.” She let out a big sigh. “All the girls are in love with him.”
“Is he coming to our table?” Ana squeaked.
“So we can assume that he’s your big surprise, Ron?” Todd suggested.
“Yes. And the guy with him is Brandon Tang.”
“Oh my god, he’s the guy who got the petition started to get rid of old lady Mateo. I gotta thank him for keeping my upcoming sophomore year from being disagreeable,” Todd said. “Old Lady Mateo is gone after this semester. Someone else will be teaching the third period Biology class next year.”
“Is it okay if we sit with you guys?” Devin asked when he and Brandon got to the table.
“Of course,” Ana said. Sit down, sit down, both of you. Jayden and Todd, move over so there’re room for Devin and Brandon to sit together.” Jason shook his head. Jayden had been sitting directly across from Ana. Now that’s where Devin sat.
The next few minutes were chaos, with Devin and Brandon being introduced to everyone. Then a third-degree interrogation started up, led by the three girls.
When the questions began to trail off, Devin put his arm around Brandon’s shoulders. “I guess I should announce that Brandon and I are boyfriends.”
When Brandon saw Ana’s expression he chuckled. “Sorry, girls, he’s mine.”
That started a new round of questions about when they’d met and how long they’d been boyfriends, and so on, all of which Devin and Branson finessed without it seeming like they weren’t actually providing answers. That impressed Jason. He even picked up a few tips he could use if he got into a circumstance where he didn’t want to actually answer questions.
Then the partners at the table introduced themselves and their boyfriends. By the time everything had been revealed, it was apparent that Devin and Brandon were both mentally floating about ten feet in the air because of the elation created by the acceptance they’d received.
Jason whispered to Ron, “We’ve gotta talk to Devin and Brandon.”
“I know!” Ron whispered in return.
After the first bell they left the cafeteria and were able to grab Devin and Brandon and pull them aside and out of the way of the crowd of kids heading to their fifth period classes.
“Man, what a great group of kids,” Devin said. “I’m so glad you said we could join your lunch group.”
“Me too,” Brandon said. “I loved the way they accepted us as gay guys and as boyfriends.”
Devin started to say something but Jason held up his hand and interrupted.
“There’s just one thing, Devin. You’ve gotta be very careful around your mom. I can see that you’re riding a wave. But you don’t want to have a bigger wave come crashing down and knock you to the bottom because you made some little mistake, like making your mom suspect that you’re gay, until you can be sure of her reaction. That’s what happened to me. But my dad and two sisters backed me one hundred percent. You don’t have any family members that will support you like I did. You told us that your dad is majorly homophobic. You have to be careful, man. Don’t let the elation you’re feeling now blindside you. Calm it down.”
“I agree, Devin,” Brandon added. “Cool it. Spend enough time to figure out your mom’s reaction to gays. I don’t want to lose you now that we’re together.”
“You guys are right. And I will take it easy and be cool.”
The sound of the second bell made each of the guys start running to try to get to their next class on time.
Jason sat at his computer working on his short story for Creative Writing. He had to have it finished by the end of the weekend so he could turn it in during his first period class on Monday. He planned to finish this last item of homework, then after Thea went to bed, he’d sit down with his folks and Jen and talk about Devin and Brandon. Ron told him he had a test in Algebra 1 Friday afternoon and wanted to study. He expected after Ron finished studying he would talk to his folks about their two friends.
He heard the doorbell but ignored it. He didn’t expect anyone to come to see him.
His story didn’t want to cooperate. He had too many characters, but without all of them the mystery he’d half-written just wouldn’t hold together. He had a problem keeping the characters straight in his own mind; if he couldn’t keep them straight, what about the readers? What about his teacher, Mr. Lyon?
He heard his dad shout, “Jase, come downstairs, please.”
He saved his file and started to run downstairs, then realized that would cause his mom to shout at him, so he walked down instead.
“Dad? Where are you?”
“In the living room. You have a visitor.”
He walked in and saw Devin standing there. He looked miserable, like he’d been crying.
“Devin! What’s wrong?”
“Can we talk? In private?”
“Uh… sure. Come on upstairs to my room.”
He led Devin into his bedroom and closed the door.
“What happened? Is it your mom?”
Devin sank to the floor and leaned against the side of the bed. He stared at Jason.
“Talk to me, Devin. What happened?”
“I called Brandon on my cell. We were talking about our date, and how much fun we were going to have. I ended the call. I didn’t realize that my mom had been standing at my door. It wasn’t closed. I don’t know how much of the conversation she heard, but it was enough.
“She asked me, ‘Are you going out on a double date? Who’s the girl, and why haven’t you mentioned her to me? Who is this Brandon boy?’
“I told her that Brandon is a friend from school. She kept questioning me about him, and why didn’t I have a girlfriend, and it went on and on, and her tone got nastier and nastier. Finally, I blurted that I’m gay and Brandon is my boyfriend. She stared at me like I’d poured ice water over her head. She actually shivered. She just stood there, staring at me. Finally, she said she didn’t want to talk to me. ‘When you come to your senses,’ she said, ‘you come and see me and tell me you’ve dispensed with this aberration.’
“I told her it wasn’t an aberration, that I’d met Brandon and we’d fallen in love. She said ‘I’ve told you what you need to do. Don’t talk to me about anything else until then.’ I grabbed my wallet, my cell, my jacket, and left the house. I didn’t know where to go. I don’t know anyone very well except you, Ron, Jen, and Brandon. Brandon lives a lot further from me than you do. I remembered your address. So I walked all the way from our house here. It took me almost an hour. Thank God I had my smartphone with me because the map showed me how to walk to your house and where I was on the route and I was able to follow it here.”
“What are you going to do now?” Jason asked.
“I don’t know. I just don’t know. Can you help me, Jase? Please?”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Reorientation
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