Tom Harris is injured in a high school football game and ends up in the hospital.
Tanner Knox says he’ll make sure Tom receives reparation for what happened.
Tuesday Afternoon, 10/2/2018
“Can I tell you something?” Tom asked. “It’s private, just for you. You won’t hate me for what I’m about to tell you?”
“Tom, we’re best friends, and we should be able to tell each other whatever we want and no matter how private without worrying about it. I’d never hate you for anything you told me.”
“Okay.” Tom took a deep breath. “This is what I want to tell you. Tanner, I’m gay.” He looked down, not wanting to see Tanner’s reaction.
Tanner grinned. “Good. That makes it easier for me to tell you that I’m gay, too. Gay and, until now, totally closeted.”
Tom looked up and stared at Tanner. “Oh my god! This is wonderful! I’m so glad I told you. I’m gay and I was totally closeted, too.” Tom grinned. “Until now.”
“Tom, there’s something that I have to tell you. There’s a guy at school who I liked to look at. I like the way he looks — he’s really hot. I’ve had a major crush for him.” He stared at Tom, and did that with a serious expression. Tom looked apprehensive, and more than a little sad.
Tanner looked down, then back up to stare at Tom. It took a couple seconds for Tanner to respond, and his response was a smile and an emphatic, “It’s you!”
“Me?” Tom shouted. “Oh my god… really? You’re not leading me down the garden path, are you?”
Tanner laughed. “I’ve never heard that before. What does ‘leading down the garden path’ mean?”
“It’s an idiom. It means to mislead someone.”
“I’m not misleading you. I’ll never mislead you. Ever since the first time I met you, I’ve built up a major a crush for you. I like you, Tom Harris. Really, really like you. I’d never guessed that you were gay. I am so glad — no, I’m ecstatic — that you are gay.”
Tanner stood then leaned over and kissed Tom. On the lips. Then he pulled back. “Hold on.” He went to the door and closed it, then returned to Tom’s bed and sat on the edge. He put his hands on the sides of the pillow and leaned over Tom and kissed him. It was a long, sultry kiss. Then he leaned back and smiled.
“You realize I wouldn’t have told you about me if you hadn’t told me about you,” Tanner said. “That’s because I was positive you were straight. Football players aren’t supposed to be gay. Or, if they are, they hide it. Like you and I have been hiding it. You were really doing a great job of hiding it!”
“I know! What they say about jocks, including football players, never being gay is total bullshit. What they should say is that jocks can be straight or gay or bi like anyone else. What’s different is that the way things are today, those of us who are gay or bi almost never come out of the closet.”
“I know. It doesn’t make any sense,” Tanner added.
“I’m so glad that you like me, Tanner. I’ve been drooling non-stop ever since you showed up at school this year. Finding out you’re gay and that you like me… it’s like the best birthday and Christmas presents all wrapped up together alongside a big cake and ice cream with whipped cream and a cherry on top.”
“That’s definitely not the kind of diet football players should be eating!” Tanner grinned.
“Yeah, you’re right. But now I have a big question. Tanner Knox, will you please be my boyfriend?”
Tanner rubbed his chin. “I need to think that over. Hmm. Yes!” Tanner laughed, and so did Tom.
“There is one thing, though,” Tanner said.
“What’s that?” Tom asked.
“Tom Harris, Will you please be my boyfriend too?”
“Yes, I will be your boyfriend, Tanner Knox.”
“Good. Then everything is perfect.”
“Except we do have a problem,” Tom said. “We can’t have sex until I’m cleared by Doctor Hamilton.”
Tom grinned. “I don’t know, but I’ll ask him. Without telling him who my boyfriend is. Or even that it’s a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend. I assume we don’t want to tell anyone else, yet.”
“Yeah… but there’s one other thing,” Tanner said. “My folks know that I’m gay. I think I’ll tell them we’re boyfriends and ask them to keep it between them and you and me. If that’s okay with you. I assume you’ll do the same with your folks, the Jacksons, too.”
“It’s okay with me. But, I don’t know what the Jacksons think about gay kids, so I’m going to keep it to myself until I find out. And I absolutely won’t say anything at school.”
“That’s fine with me. I absolutely won’t say anything at school, either. Especially anyone on the team,” Tanner said.
“So, do we agree we’re on the same page?”
Tom nodded. “Yes, we are. However, there’s something you haven’t told me yet. Did you talk to Coach Reynolds about Ealington and what you’re thinking about doing?”
“Yes, and he said he thinks we’re on the right track.” Tanner opened the pouch on his backpack and pulled out the DVD. “Here’s the DVD of the game. I didn’t look at it because I got it right before our team meeting; when it was over I got the bus and came directly here to see you. Does your laptop have a DVD drive?”
“No. It’s thinner and lighter because that kind of drive isn’t built-in. There’s an external drive that’s an option, but I don’t have one. I suppose it’s something I should get. One that will play and record CDs and DVDs.”
“Okay. I’ll look at the DVD tonight and see if it shows Poulter slamming into you. If it does, then I’ll copy that part onto a jump drive and bring it tomorrow after school so you can see it. I’ll text you this afternoon and let you know if it’s on the video or not. No use making you sweat about it until tomorrow.”
There was a knock on the door to Tom’s hospital room. Tanner got up and moved to the side chair alongside Tom’s bed. “Come in,” Tom called out.
It was Tanner’s mom. “How are you guys doing?”
“Good,” Tom said. “Tanner talked to three of my teachers today, and he’ll talk to the other three tomorrow morning. So far all of my homework assignments are on School Loop, so the main thing Tanner found out was how I’ll take the tests I have to make up.”
“So far, so good,” Tanner added. “In one class, Digital Arts, there aren’t any tests. We’re graded on our assignments. In the other classes the teachers I met with today said they’d let him catch up on his tests once he gets home. One, Mr. Flynn, his Algebra 2 and Trig teacher, said he didn’t have to take the tests until he was back in school.”
“That was generous,” Danielle said. “However, once you’re back in school the objective should be to schedule your makeup tests so they don’t end up on the same days as other makup tests — or regularly scheduled tests for your classes. I suggest that you have a meeting with your counselor. Then he or she can get together with your teachers and they can work out a schedule with no conflicts.”
“That’s a great idea, Mrs. Knox. I’ll do that.”
“Tom, how are you doing in your Algebra 2 and Trigonometry class?”
“Okay, I’ve got an A so far.”
“Now, it’s time for Tanner and me to head for home. I’ll stop by to see you tomorrow.”
“See ya,Tom, ” Tanner said. “When you see your doctor tonight I hope you get good news about leaving the hospital in the next day or two, and a date when you’ll be able to return to school.”
“I agree. See you tomorrow after school,” Tom said. “I’ll tell you what my dinner tonight was like. I’m on a regular low-sodium diet, so I hope it will be better.”
As they walked to the elevator, Danielle said, “Tanner, if you have homework that you need to finish for tomorrow you should do it before you work on the video.”
“The homework I got today doesn’t have to be turned in until Thursday. What I got yesterday is due tomorrow, and I finished all of it last night. I’ll do my Pre-Calc problems tonight; they’re due Thursday. The rest is reading, and I’ll do that tomorrow during Academy period.
“I’ll work on the DVD from Friday’s game as soon as we get home. And, if it shows Tom being attacked, I’ll call Uncle Gerald and tell him what I found, and I’ll clip out that part of the video and send it to him, and bring it to Tom tomorrow.”
“That will take a long time, won’t it?”
“I don’t think so. The attack on Tom happened near the end of the game, so I can jump ahead to the last ten minutes or so and do a high-speed search to find it. My only concern is what happened to Tom might not be on the video.”
“Won’t that take longer if what happened to Tom isn’t on the video?”
“No, it happened right after we scored the final touchdown, so I can search for that. It won’t take very long to find it.”
When they got home, Tanner had a snack then worked on his Pre-Calculus problems; there were only nine at the end of the current chapter. He finished and checked them in a little over forty-five minutes, including posting them on his Pre-Calc class section on School Loop.
Then it was time for the DVD. The first thing he did was look at how it had been recorded. He expected a single file but found that there were three folders, and each had two files. The first folder was named Offense; the second folder Defense; and the third folder Sideline. The files in each folder were MP4 video files named first half and second half.
He looked at the Offense and Defense second half files to see where they’d been recorded. Those videos used cameras in the press box. That made Tanner wonder where the sideline videographer had been standing. Then he remembered a kid who was running back and forth along the Edison sideline with a camera. He hadn’t paid attention to what he’d been doing; he’d assumed the kid was one of the team assistants. He must have been taking the sideline video. The sideline video for the second half that the kid took most likely would include the attack on Tom.
He opened the sideline video folder. Like the other two folders there were two files, one recorded during the first half and the other the second half of the Ealington game. He opened the second half file. That made it easy to search for the part where Tom had been injured.
Tanner tried to remember about when Tom had lateraled to Jake Ormsley. Maybe five minutes before the end of the game. He selected the end of the video then backed up about five minutes. That showed the teams doing their after-the-end-of-the-game run-past-hand-slap routine.
Tanner backed up the video another five minutes. Bingo! It showed Nick Poulter being high-fived by the Ealington coach.
He backed up another two minutes, saved the timestamp, and played the video from that point. Double bingo! It showed Tom when he lateraled to Jake. Then Nick Poulter targeted Tom and slammed him in his head, and Tom’s helmet flew off. The official watched this happen, ignored what Nick did to Tom, and didn’t call a penalty. Nick started to turn toward the Ealington sideline, then he turned back to where Tom was starting to get up off the ground and jumped on him. He stood over Tom who continued to try to get up, and he jumped on him again. The video continued up to and including Tom being helped off the field by Coach Oldham, the team trainer, and the team doctor.
Tanner set a timestamp at the end of the clip, then made a copy of the file from the first to last timestamps and saved it. He couldn’t believe they’d been so lucky. Thank god there was a sideline video camera, and the kid doing the recording decided what was happening to Tom needed to be recorded. It was also good that he held the camera steady. Or the camera had anti-shake built-in. Or both. That kid deserved a commendation. Maybe even the game ball.
Tanner checked the size of the clip he’d saved. It was just over one and a half gigabytes. He had a bunch of 32GB flash drives he’d bought at Fry’s a year ago. They’d been in one of the sale bins for one dollar and ninety-nine cents each. He’d bought ten. So the clip would fit on one flash drive with most of the space left over. He copied the clip to four flash drives. One for Tom, one for Uncle Gerald, one for Coach Reynolds, and one to keep. Others might be needed, like for the police or the NCS who each would need a copy, and he still had a bunch of flash drives. He decided they could provide their own flash drives.
He called his uncle first.
“Hi, Uncle Gerald. It’s Tanner.”
“Hello, Tanner. What did you find out about the video?”
“I have a clip that shows exactly what happened to Tom Harris. I copied it to a flash drive. The file’s too big for Gmail, so I can’t send it to you as an email attachment. It’s about one and a half gigabytes. I can mail the flash drive to you.”
“Create a folder on Google Drive. Then copy the clip to the folder. Then you can share the folder with me. That way I’ll have it right away, and I know it’ll work because use it with clients for much larger files.”
“I don’t use Google Drive. I’ll have to figure out how to use it.”
“I’ll text you a link to the instructions. It’s really easy to use. It has to be for me to be able to use it!” He laughed, then continued. “I think the maximum file size is ten gigabytes.”
“That’s cool. Send me the link. I’ll read the instructions then send the file to you.”
“I’ll call you after I look at it.”
“Okay. Thanks, Uncle Gerald. Let me know what you think about what happened to Tom, and what your advice is for our next step. Bye for now.”
Tanner checked his email. His uncle had sent the instructions. He followed them step-by-step and sent a text message to his uncle saying the file was on the way.
After about ten minutes he heard the ringtone from his cell. He answered.
“I got the file. I think Tom has all the evidence needed for his parents to take the boy who attacked him and Ealington High School and their football coach to court. He also has grounds to have that official terminated.”
“Great! I’ll see Tom at the hospital tomorrow, so I’ll bring him a flash drive with the video clip so he can see it on his laptop.”
“Tomorrow I’ll check with an attorney I know who deals with schools and the athletic organizations and get his advice. I’ll let you know what I find out if he has any advice or if there’s something we don’t already know.”
They ended the call, and Tanner phoned Tom.
Tom answered, and said, “Hi, Tanner!”
“Hi, Tom. I decided to phone instead of texting you. I have the clip, and it’s perfect! I sent it to my uncle Gerald, and he thinks it can be used by your parents to bring Nick Poulter and Ealington High and their coach to court. I have it on a flash drive to bring to you tonight. Tomorrow I’ll give one of the flash drives to Coach Reynolds. He has the DVD, but this way he’ll also have just the part when you’re attacked by Poulter.”
“Does it show that fat official and the Ealington coach, too?”
“Yes. Couldn’t be better if we’d scripted and shot the video ourselves. Does your laptop have a program that can play MP4 video files?”
“Yeah. It came with a program called VLC; it’s a free media player. It plays almost any kind of video file including MP4. It’s easy to use and has lots of options. You should take a look at it if you don’t already have a good media player on your PC.”
“Okay. Thanks for the info on VLC. I’ll see you later tonight. I’ll ask my mom or dad to drive me, boyfriend.”
“Great! See you and the video later, boyfriend!”
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