Trials and Tribulations
I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see Gary giving me a questioning look. I just shrugged and looked back at that blond who had captured my curiosity. I was now on high alert. I knew his name finally, Joseph Matthew Adams. But beside his name, the fact that he was new, and had blond hair, I knew nothing else. Well, I also knew he was in my homeroom too.
Without ever seeing his face or knowing any other detail about him, I found myself obsessing over him. My mind was racing with all the possibilities, where he was from, why he moved here, what he looked like, what his likes and dislikes were, would he like me? Whoa! Where did that come from?
I have got to stop this madness before it goes too far. I know I have to be careful and not having everyone in town calling me names and wanting to hurt me. I need to keep my secret, a secret. Not only would I get hurt, but even my father would be known and blamed for having a gay son. Not good, not good at all!
I really did have a love/hate relationship with this town. I mean when people were hurting, generally everyone rallied behind them with all kinds of help. But, if you cross some moralistic line, holy hell would descend upon you from every direction and from everyone. I had no intentions of crossing that line publicly.
I felt a poke in the ribs from somewhere and jumped a little, then looked to my right to see Gary's eyes looking at me and then darting towards the front of the room. Turning my head forward I saw Mr. Ison staring at me with a grin on his face. I raised my eye brows.
"Mr. Collins, are you with us today?" He asked.
With everyone turning to look at me, I felt time stop as I saw the face of an angel. Joseph was looking at me. I felt a blush coloring my face bright red. Tearing my eyes quickly from his face, I looked back at Mr. Ison.
"Yes sir." I answered meekly.
I could hear Gary suppressing a laugh and I quickly shot him a look which helped with the suppression. I smirked at him; but, I could hear the giggles from others as they turned back to the front. Yet, one face was still looking at me I noticed. As our eyes met, I truly felt butterflies in my stomach.
At that point, I went into full blush mode. I looked down at my government book to look away. But, I quickly looked back up and saw a smile spread across that angelic face and I flashed him my million watt smile.
Our attention was drawn back to Mr. Ison and we both broke eye contact to hear him go on about today's announcements. Drifting back to my daydreams, I finally had a face to go with the name. Wow! What a face! Wait! Oh my God! Did I just out myself to Joseph? No, what have I done? And I did it on the first day of school no less. I dropped my head to my desk trying to hide my shame.
I heard my name being whispered, "Collins?"
I turned my head to see Gary trying to get my attention.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing" I replied. "I'm just feeling out of it is all."
He shook his head and I turned mine back to hide my eyes. I could feel this was not going to be a good day. I already had Timmy frowning at me, Gary wondering what's up with me, and I think I outed myself to a new boy that I would at least be seeing once every single day in homeroom. If I don't get a grip soon, I'm going to be in major trouble or headed to the mental hospital in Danville.
The bell rung ending homeroom and I could hear all the desks moving as everyone but me was getting up to leave. Gary lightly punched me in the shoulder telling me he'd see me later. I looked up and gave him my best smile.
"See you at lunch, Gary." I told him.
As I watched him walk towards the door, I noticed Joseph stand up and started walking towards me. Quickly looking around I observed it was only Mr. Ison, Joseph and me left in the room. Mr. Ison was busy getting ready for government class and by the time I turned my attention back to Joseph he was in front of me reaching out his hand.
"Hi" he smiled, "Everyone calls me Joey."
I stood and shook his hand as I looked into his eyes.
"It's nice to meet you, Joey. I'm Andy." I replied, smiling back.
Aware I was still holding his hand, I quickly let go. His smile grew with my reaction, showing his perfectly lined teeth with dazzling whiteness. I could feel the blush rising again as I chuckled. But, I was as nervous as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
"So, you're new to our little town, uh?" I asked him, despite being nervous and in full blush mode again.
"Yup, we moved in last week on Frazier Street in the Upper Bottom." He said.
Ok I thought, 'Katie bar the door, for trouble is about to walk in!' I was puzzled, because I didn't remember anyone moving in recently. "Did you say Frazier Street?"
He nodded and looked down at his feet like he was embarrassed over something.
He said, "Yeah, Dad got assigned a new church here in town and we just moved Thursday night."
Ah I thought, a preacher's kid.
"Which church?" I was curious, since I knew most of the pastors here in town from some of the meetings my dad would drag me to.
"The Holy Word of the Lamb, out past Wal-Mart." He almost sighed.
I could tell he was uncomfortable talking about it, so I changed the subject.
"How do you like it here so far?" I asked.
"It's really beautiful here." He answered, as his face seemed to come back to life and continued, "I'm just worried I'm going to get run over by one of those coal trucks that seem to be everywhere." He chuckled.
That kinda hit too close to home, but I didn't want him to know it, "You'll get used to them. And by the way, I live on Frazier Street too. I live in the two storied red brick house with the two big white columns on the front porch. So welcome to the neighborhood neighbor!" I grinned.
The room was starting to fill up and Joey told me he would be right back as he walked back to his desk, got his stuff, and took a seat to my left. I filled him in on Mr. Ison and what he expected from us. The rest of the class was a blur. I honestly couldn't tell you a word Mr. Ison said. The next thing I knew, the bell rung. Joey and I bumped fists, said we would see each other later, and went in opposite directions.
The rest of the morning was boring and without incident. After third period math, I headed toward the lunch room to find my crew. I hadn't thought to ask Joey about his schedule. So, I had no idea if we had any more classes together or which lunch group he ate in. I got in line hoping this year's food was going to be better.
Someone yelled, "Move faggot, get the fuck off me!"
Then I felt something slam into my back and something wet spreading down my lower back. I thought, "What the hell!"
Turning to see who or what just hit me in the back I saw Joey turning quickly away from me slinging everything left off his tray as he did right into JT. JT's face reddened and gave Joey a look of death. He took a step towards him. Joey brought up his food tray to protect himself. With his left hand, JT knocked the tray out of Joey's hands and caught him square on the nose with a right round house knocking Joey on his ass with a thud.
"I told you faggot, to get out of my way. Fairies don't belong here." JT growled at him.
That's the second time JT had called him a faggot in the span of fifteen seconds. I looked down at Joey's bleeding nose. Then I looked back up at JT. JT opened his mouth to say more. To this day have no idea what I was thinking, if I was thinking at all. Maybe I was thinking damn the consequences, full speed ahead; because, that's exactly what I did. I closed that son-of-a-bitch's mouth before he could speak again with the hardest uppercut I have ever hit anybody with in my life. JT's eyes rolled back in his head as he went down. Damn, that hurt, I thought grabbing my hand.
Then I looked down at him and pointed a finger at him and said, "JT, if you ever pull that crap again, they'll be some slow walking and some sad singing!" (An old fashion funeral procession) I doubt he heard a word I said.
I turned back to Joey, looked down and offered my hand to him. He looked up at me with blood running from his nose.
He looked so small and vulnerable. He was bleeding and had tears in his eyes. Oh my God, what eyes he had. They stopped me cold. They were such a deep blue that they pulled me in. Then I realized I had stopped breathing
"Thanks" Joey said as I pulled him to his feet.
I stammered, "Its… it…was… I mean it… it was nothing."
God, where had my voice gone? It was like I couldn't talk anymore.
Joey was looking around at everyone looking at us and then looked down at James Thomas McCray III who everyone called JT, still laying on the ground out cold where he folded like a house of cards after I hit him. Joey looked back at me with a smile that made my heart skip a beat.
I took a hold of his arm and pulled him through the crowd that had gathered. I heard some positive comments and a few pats on the back as we past. But I also noticed a few hard stares coming from some of JT's buddies.
I looked over at Joey as we cleared the crowd and told him I was taking him to the restroom to get him cleaned up.
He nodded and said, "Thank you."
Just then Roger caught up with us and asked, "What the hell was that all about?"
I quickly explained as we entered the restroom. I turned on the water and grabbed a bunch of paper towels from the dispensary, soaking a couple and wiping Joey's face as he turned his head upwards.
Roger was expressing his concerned for me. "You know how JT is Andy. He never forgets shit."
"I know, I know, Roger. But he was about to hurt Joey bad. I couldn't do nothing and walk away!" I paused getting the last of the blood off Joey's face. "Besides," I continued, "Joey is a nice guy and didn't deserve that crap from JT or anyone else. JT was just being a bully like always to the new guy."
Finished cleaning all the blood off Joey, I patted him on the shoulder telling him, "Good as new. But, you might end up with a shiner. Sorry." I was feeling bad for Joey. He really didn't deserve this and I wanted to make him feel welcomed here at Pine Hills High.
I turned to Roger, "Roger, this is Joey, my new friend and our new neighbor. His family just moved in on our street last week." Joey lit up as he looked at me and smiled at the word friend.
"It's nice to meet you." Joey said, still smiling as he turned to Roger.
Roger extended his hand towards Joey which Joey took and they shook hands.
Roger grinned and said, "Howdy neighbor!"
That's so Roger I thought and smiled at them both, placing a hand on each of their shoulders.
Suddenly the door flew open. Timmy step in looking out of breath as the door closed behind him.
After catching his breath he said "The principal wants to see you two in his office" making quotation marks in the air with his fingers, "immediately!" then pointing at Joey and me.