"Hi, are you using the machine?", came a sweet voice from behind me.
I jumped, startled out of my deep concentration. I hadn't heard anybody coming up behind me, I was too engrossed (I'm what well meaning but sort of insulting adults like to call "smart for my age" which means I tend to get good grades easily and use words like "engrossed", you'll get used to it.) in the incredibly important decision of whether I was in the mood for lemon-lime or orange Gatorade from the machine in question, which in case you haven't already guessed is a vending machine. What you probably haven't already guessed is where I am, which is at the community pool in the middle of one of the hottest summers I can ever remember. That sounds impressive until I tell you that I'm only 13 years old and I've only ever experienced three real summers.
Ok, so even though this is not usually the way I like to tell stories I should probably put in an out of place description of myself.
My name is Nathan Ellis (although I make everyone call me Nate) and as I said before I'm 13 years old. I'm a little small for my age in the height department, slender and pale. Very pale. The type of pale where I should burn to a crisp if I spend more than five minutes in direct sunlight but for some reason I've never had sunburn in my life. I don't tan however, which is ok because I kinda like my skin. I have medium length blond hair that I usually keep parted down the middle but right now was tied back in what is probably the shortest nub of a ponytail anyone could ever have. Oh and I have light blue eyes. I live in Cooper, West Virginia. I moved there from Alaska when I was 9 because my parents got divorced and I was lucky enough to live with my mom. I say lucky not because I didn't love my dad or because he didn't love me but for two very specific reasons. The first being my mom got a job in Cooper and I just happen to love summer. I loved it in Alaska when all summer meant was that the one road out of town wasn't usually covered with snow and I love it in Cooper where summer means that I get to spend almost all my free time at the community pool. Which leads into the second very specific reason why I'm glad I live with my mom. I'm gay. Not only that, I'm gay and my mom knows. Not only that, I'm gay, my mom knows and she's perfectly ok with it. See what I mean about lucky? I don't think I could have ever told my dad. Not that he was some raging redneck homophobe but there are just some things that are easier to talk about with your mom, you know? You may be asking what that has to do with my spending time at the community pool and here's the answer. The community pool in Cooper, West Virginia is almost entirely utilized by boys. Topless boys. In swimsuits. Wet swimsuits that cling to them in wonderful ways. So yeah I'm a bit of a perv, sue me. Anyway now that you know a little bit about me let's get back to the story. Where did I leave off? Oh, yeah.
"Hi, are you using the machine?" Like I said before that startled me. I was in a deep state of concentration. It may not seem like a big deal to most people but to me the proper flavor of Gatorade to enjoy on a summer afternoon by the pool is a huge issue. It can make or break a summer day. I was snapped out of my thoughts by that sweet sounding voice and turned around.
"Yeah, but you can-", I couldn't finish my sentence. Standing in front of me was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen in my life. He had the kind of natural tan that was impossible to get from the sun, the kind I used to wish I could have. His brown hair was shorter than mine, but hung down in front of his gray eyes in the cutest way. He was thin like me but where I was just mostly flat he had the barest outlines of abs and chest muscles. Any of those attributes was enough to inspire my all too familiar lust but what ended up melting my heart was his smile. He was looking into my eyes and smiling directly at me (at me! not down at me like everyone else, he was the same height!) with the most innocent and joyful smile I'd ever seen. Can you blame me for falling in love?
His smile faltered, "Are you ok? You look like you're gonna throw up." Well I guess love looks different to different people. I summoned up enough willpower to deliver what I hoped was a smile and not a pained grimace.
"Yeah, I'm fine. I was just....." Falling in love with you? Imagining you naked in front of a fireplace with the flickering flames reflected in your perfect body? Trying to restrain myself from taking you in my arms and kissing you on your oh so kissable lips? All of the above? "..trying to decide what drink I wanted" I finished lamely.
He smiled again, "What are you trying to decide between?"
"Um, lemon lime and orange."
His face scrunched up into the most adorable look of concentration I'd ever seen.
"Well", he said. "The lemon lime is pretty sweet and the orange is a bit fruity, so are you in the mood for something sweet or fruity?"
Do I even have to mention that by this point I was as hard as granite? Luckily I had long ago learned to wear a pair of old, tight underwear under my bathing suits or my erection would be embarrassingly visible.
I thought for a moment. I usually choose my Gatorade for the day based on my level of arousal, the temperature and humidity of the day. For example if there was an especially attractive group of boys at the pool but it wasn't all that hot I'd probably pick grape. I can't really explain why I'd pick grape but it would just feel right and make the day that much better. If, however in that same situation I picked orange instead of grape I'd find myself unaroused and irritated. I'd end up leaving the pool early and my entire day would be ruined. Again, I can't explain why. But this boy, this wonderful, beautiful boy, put it in such simple terms. Do I want something sweet or fruity? I stared at him for a few seconds and then smiled.
"Sweet", I said. I put my dollar in and and punched the button for lemon lime. The drink dropped out of the machine and I picked it up.
"It's all yours", I said. I said it calmly but inside I was terrified. Once he got his drink he'd leave and I'd probably never have another chance to talk to him. I've never seen him before (even if I had seen him once years ago I never would have forgot) so he was probably here visiting relatives and would soon be going back to wherever he was from. I had to keep talking to him. I felt that if I could just keep a conversation going time would stop and we'd be able to stay in this moment together forever.
"So I'm Nate, what's your name?" I asked.
"I'm Victor but everyone calls me Vicky", he said as he put his dollar in the machine.
Vicky? That suited him perfectly, it was innocent and playful with just a hint of vulnerability. Speaking of suits I had just noticed that his was hanging very low. I could see the very top of his butt and the beginning of his crack. I stood very still. If I moved at all and brushed my painfully hard penis against my bathing suit I knew I'd have a violent orgasm. There would be time for that tonight, right now I didn't want anything to break our flow of conversation. By this point he had his drink and turned around and as if I needed anymore convincing that this boy was perfect in his hands was a lemon lime Gatorade.
"Guess I'm in the mood for something sweet too", Vicky said and smiled. Was he.....flirting with me? No, it had to be my imagination. I could never be that lucky. I smiled back just the same and then prepared to have my heart broken.
"So," I asked. "I've never seen you around here before, what brings you to Cooper?"
Just as he opened his mouth to answer a voice called from behind us. "Vicky! Hey!"
I turned around to see a man who looked to be in his early 40's jogging up to us.
"Hi dad!", Vicky yelled. Vicky's father was pretty good looking, for an old man, I thought. He was fit and tan like his son but had a light dusting of chest and stomach hair where Vicky was as hairless as I was. He had his long dark hair held back in a real ponytail, not a nub like mine. He stopped jogging and walked the rest of the way. Vicky smiled at his dad and pointed at me.
"Dad this is Nate, I met him while he was trying to decide between lemon lime and orange Gatorade."
His dad smiled. "I can see how that could be a difficult choice. I'm more of a Snapple guy myself though."
I decided to be tactful and keep my less than positive opinions on Snapple to myself.
"Nate, this is my dad", said Vicky.
"Hello, sir". The "sir" kinda surprised me. I'm usually polite to adults but the last time I called anybody sir was I was playing with my Star Trek action figures. When I was younger of course! Much younger, practically a fetus in fact!....
Moving on, I guess I just really wanted anyone who was related to Vicky to have a positive impression of me, hence the sucking up. He looked a bit embarrassed though.
"I don't look that old do I? Please, call me Jack". We shook hands like adults. He even gave me a firm handshake not the limp noodle shakes my male relatives tend to give me. I don't know why but everyone seems to think I'll break if they handle me roughly. Of course once I thought of being handled roughly my erection, which had made itself scarce once Jack had shown up, started to come back in full force as I imagined me and Vicky in all kinds of "rough" situations. What he said next stopped it it's tracks though.
"I'm sorry to do this buddy but we gotta go." Jack said.
My heart fell into my stomach and Vicky put on the saddest frown I'd ever seen up to that point.
"I'm really sorry." Jack said. "But the hospital called. They need me at there right away and I can't leave you here alone."
"Dad I'm 13 years old, I'm old enough to stay at a pool by myself for a few hours, can I please stay?" Vicky pleaded.
"Sorry, Vic, but you know I can't. Can you imagine what would happen if your mother found out I left you alone? I'll go get the car and you can say goodbye to your friend. Meet me out front in when your done" With that he gave me a quick parting smile. "Nice to meet you Nate" he said as he ran off.
I turned back to Vicky. I wanted to cry in the worst way but I didn't think it would be a good idea to be seen crying over saying goodbye to somebody I'd only met five minutes ago. I could cry later right now I had to keep my bawling strictly internal. Vicky sighed.
"I'm sorry I have to go so soon. My dad was supposed to have the day off but...." He trailed off, looking sad. I figured the sadness had a lot more to do with his dad not being able to spend the day with him than with not being able to spend time with me and as irrational as it was I started to feel a twinge of jealousy towards his dad. I didn't let any of this show though.
"It's alright" The biggest lie I've ever told. "Maybe I'll see you here again?" I asked hopefully.
Vicky smiled slightly. "Maybe. If-" Whatever he was going to say was cut off as a car horn honked from the parking lot. Vicky sighed again. "That's my dad, I gotta go." He ran towards the car. As he was running he turned back and said over his shoulder "It was nice to meet you!". And with that he got in his dads car and they drove off.
I had just met the perfect boy, fallen and love and lost him forever. All in less than ten minutes. I wasn't in the mood for Gatorade anymore but I wasn't about to throw away the only memento I had of meeting Vicky. I noticed that he had left his Gatorade behind also. I picked it up. It was unopened and I decided right then and there that this Gatorade bottle would be my talisman against total heartache. As long as I kept this bottle unopened I would one day be able to give it back to him. This thought, as ridiculous as it sounded, cheered me up just a bit and I decided to go home. Hopefully Vicky would be at the pool again tomorrow.
He wasn't. He didn't show up at the pool for the rest of the summer. I went every day and every day I got increasingly more and more panicked until at last summer vacation ended and I went back to school. Before I met Vicky I was actually excited for school. As an 8th grader I'd be at the top of the heap for once, but all I felt as I walked to school that first day was a deep depression. Summer was over and Vicky, perfect Vicky, had gone back to whatever heaven breeds perfection like his and here I was stuck in this plain world with nothing to lift the veil of blackness that had settled over my heart.
I was so depressed that aside from becoming increasingly melodramatic I never once stopped to wonder why someone on vacation would get called away to a hospital.
There are few things more depressing for a young boy than the first day of school. For me it was always worse because the first day of school was also the last day of that most wonderful of seasons, summer. I don't care what the calenders say summer ends at 12:01 AM on the first day of school. This year though I was hit with a triple dose of depression. I was back in school, summer was over and I was never going to see Vicky again.
I was never the type for the grand external display of emotion. Oh I wasn't withdrawn or anything like that and I did tend to get internally melodramatic when upset or incredibly excited but I would very rarely act out my emotion in public. I never ran up to anyone and professed my undying love or started fights with people who were giving me crap but the way I felt right now I wanted to go up to the roof of the school and scream at everybody that I was going to jump. I wouldn't have done it, even as bad as I felt legitimate thoughts of suicide never crossed my mind, but I wanted everyone to know how horrible I was feeling. Such were my thoughts as I trudged sullenly to homeroom.
I had Mrs. Phillips for homeroom which was good for me because she was one of the few teachers that didn't insist on assigned seats in her classes. I could just walk in, pick a desk and bury my head in my arms. I thought about Vicky. About our short time together and how much it meant to me. It just wasn't fair, you know? I'd been going to that pool pretty much since I moved here and while I almost always came back with a butt load (heh) of jerk off fantasies, I had never before fallen in love. It was as if all those hours there were leading up to that one moment when I met Vicky at the vending machine and that was it. My one shot at maybe having something with someone and it was gone in less than 5 minutes. I knew, just knew, with every fiber of my being that I would never have a moment like that again. Life was bullshit.
At some point the rest of the class showed up and took their seats. If anyone said anything to me I never noticed. I may have even fallen asleep because the next thing I remember is my arm being hit by someone walking by and Mrs. Philips saying "..transferred here from New York. I hope you will all do your best to make him feel welcome. Say hello to the class Victor." Such was my depression that I didn't even register what she said until I heard the voice I had longed to hear for weeks saying:
"Hi, I'm Victor Clarke but everyone calls me Vicky."
My head shot up and my heart leaped into my throat as I stared into the face of perfection. Vicky, my Vicky, was standing in front of the class, my class, and introducing himself with the same adorable voice and smile as that day at the pool! My depression fled in an instant. Our eyes met and he looked surprised for a second, then his smile widened. He remembered me! And I made him smile! If I died right then and there I would have died with no regrets.
He looked different fully clothed. He was only wearing a T-Shirt and cargo shorts, something a lot of kids were wearing, but he looked like a prince to me. Prince Vicky. Still, I couldn't help but picture the slim, toned body I knew was under that shirt and before I realized what was happening my erection was pushing painfully against the bottom of my desk.
Vicky was telling us how he moved here because his parents got divorced (our first thing in common!) and his dad grew up here as a kid and thought it would be a better place to raise his son and a place where he could feel safe leaving him alone. He got a job as chief surgeon at the local hospital so he couldn't always be home when he wanted to. He said he liked Cooper better than New York because the people here were more friendly. He looked right at me as he said that and my heart melted again. As he continued telling the class about himself I noticed that everyone else in the room was watching him intently. In fact they all seemed almost as captivated by him as I was. I'm not saying that they fell head over heels in love with him at first sight but he did have a presence. A sort of innocence and exuberance about him that made something as boring as a new kid introducing himself seem like the most interesting thing in the world. No one even tried to make fun of him for saying his name was Vicky. Which was a good thing because I would have sucked if I got sent to the principal for punching someone out within the first 10 minutes of the new school year.
"Thank you Victor, that was a very nice introduction. Please take your seat and we can take attendance", Mrs Philips said when Vicky was finished. (I learned soon after that she always called everybody by their full name)
Vicky walked back to his seat which, to my surprise and delight, was right behind me. That must have been him bumping into my arm when he was walking up to the front of the class. He grinned at me when he walked by. I turned around in my seat and for a second I had no idea what I wanted to say. I had been waiting and hoping for this moment since that day at the pool but now that it was here I realized that I never gave any thought at all to what I would say if I ever saw him again. How was I to let him know how happy I was to see him without scaring him off? I don't think it ever crossed my mind to wonder if he was actually gay or not. All I worried about at that point was how to make sure we spend as much time as possible together every day. And as I thought that I knew what to say.
"Hey Vicky, do you want me to show you around school later?" Now, please keep in mind that at the time I had no idea which classes he had and when. For all I knew homeroom could have been the only time we saw each other all day. There could have been no time at all for me to show him anything but, "smart for my age" or not, I tend not to think things through when I'm nervous or excited.
"Sure", he said and then smiled uncertainly. "You're....Nick right?"
Once again my heart did a bellyflop into my stomach. He didn't remember my name? The boy of my dreams, the love of my life didn't even remember my name? All thoughts of grand sweeping romance left my imagination in a flash. If he didn't remember my name then he couldn't possibly feel the same way about me that I did about him. If he didn't remember my name then I must be just some random guy he met at the pool over the summer to him. I was devastated. I wanted to cry. Vicky giggled.
"Sorry Nate, I have a weird sense of humor. Just ignore me when I think I'm being funny" Vicky said with a smile. The smile turned into a look of concern when I didn't say anything. "Um, are you ok?"
I was more than ok! He remembered my name! I felt like jumping for joy even as I felt like strangling him but as I would quickly learn it was impossible for me to stay mad at him for any length of time. However, I once again had the dilemma of trying to figure out the right thing to say. Ever see that scene in The Terminator where Ah-nold is in the hotel room and the manager knocks on the door and all the possible responses flash up on his eye screen things and he goes through them all before deciding on the classic "Fuck you, asshole"? Well that's kinda what was going on with me. How should I respond? Should I be gushingly happy? Mildly annoyed? Suave? Should I come back with a joke of my own? That last one sounded like the best option.
"Yeah I'm fine. You didn't fool me for a second by the way because there's absolutely no way anyone could possibly forget a dashing individual such as myself." I said in a terrible British accent as I flipped my hair back and struck as obnoxious a pose as I could manage while sitting in behind a school desk. As jokes go it was pretty lame. In fact it wasn't even really a joke, just me acting like an idiot but it served it's purpose as Vicky giggled again and was about to respond when someone poked me in the ribs. I turned around and found myself looking into the face of my best (read: only) friend Jason. He was apparently sitting next to me the entire time.
"Stop flirting with the new kid and raise your damn hand!" he hissed at me.
I turned red. Jason was the only person besides my mom who knew that I was gay. He was incredibly cool about it even though he made sure to let me know that he was 100% straight and any attempts to hit on him would not be very welcome. Which was too bad because he was attractive in his own way, if you went for the towering over you Godzilla type. To be fair he wasn't that tall for his age but seeing as he liked to call me "Smurf" for being all of a foot shorter than him I felt perfectly justified in describing him as a hundred foot tall radioactive monster. But back to the issue at hand, if he could tell I was flirting with Vicky who else could? I didn't think I was being that obvious and why the hell was he telling me to raise my hand?
"Nathan Ellis? Is Nathan Ellis here?"
Oh. Attendance. Right. I raised my hand and Mr's Philips rolled her eyes a bit as she marked me present. Jason was smirking at me so I stealthily mouthed "Fuck you" to him. Except that wasn't stealthy enough because Vicky, who up until then was succeeding in keeping a straight face, let out a short giggle then buried his head in his arms as his shoulders heaved with muted laughter. Mrs. Philips heard the giggle, looked up, saw me turned around, saw Vicky laughing into his arms and gave me a disapproving look.
"Mr Ellis, if you have enough time and energy making your new classmate laugh then you should also have enough time and energy to escort him to his classes and show him around the school." she said and gave an exasperated sigh.
Escorting the new kid around school is a job nobody ever wants so I know she meant it as a punishment but this what I was planning on doing anyway and now that I had a teachers permission (and a late pass which I picked up on my way to first period) it didn't matter if we had the same classes or not. I had the perfect excuse for being late. I did a little internal dance. If I sounded too excited she might realize that this wasn't the punishment she thought it was and I'd lose this perfect opportunity so I muttered what I hoped was a grudging "Alright". She continued taking attendance. Jason gave me a wry smirk. Vicky continued trying to suppress his laughter.
It was probably a good idea that I didn't decide to go with suave.
My unusually good luck held out for the rest of the day. Vicky was in all of my classes except for two which oddly enough were English and Spanish. Jason was also in several of those classes as well since I seem to remember his amused smirk throughout the day but we don't need to talk about him right now. I got to spend time with Vicky walking from class to class but other than that we didn't have much time to talk. Aside from homeroom every single class had assigned seating and even though you would think that a Clarke and an Ellis would have a pretty good chance of sitting near each other we always seemed to be at least three seats away. Going from class to class didn't leave much time to talk about important things like hobbies, favorite movies or whether or not he would ever let me explore his entire body with my tongue (not that I would have asked that last part anyway, well, I hoped I wouldn't anyway). In fact we mostly seemed to talk about the school and the best way to get from class to bathroom to locker to class in under five minutes. (And in case you were wondering yes we did use the bathroom, yes we did stand next to each other at the urinals, no I didn't sneak a peek and yes it took every ounce of willpower I had not to look.)
I did learn a few important things about Vicky that first day however. The most important being that sweet innocent Vicky wasn't always so sweet and innocent. My first taste of not so innocent Vicky was when we were on our way to fourth period (math if anybody is interested) and the bell rang. I wasn't too bothered because I had that hall pass but Vicky on the other hand was pass-less.
"Fuck!" Vicky yelled and started running down the hall.
"Vicky!" I yelled after him.
He stopped, turned around and with a slightly reddening face said, "Sorry, I didn't mean to-"
"You're going the wrong way." I said, cutting him off as I pointed down the hall to our right.
"Oh." he said and we jogged off to class together. I didn't think much of it but Vicky seemed to be just a bit withdrawn throughout fourth period. Luckily fifth period was gym class and since it was the first day and none of us had lockers or gym clothes we spent the period just hanging out in the gym. I was ecstatic about having gym class with Vicky but at the same time disappointed that we would have to wait until next week to have a proper gym class complete with the changing and the watching of certain people change. I was wrapped up in trying to figure out the best way to make sure me and Vicky had lockers very close together when he tapped on my arm.
"What's up?" I said.
"Look," he started. "Um, I'm sorry about before. About swearing."
I opened my mouth to tell him it was ok but he kept talking.
"It's just that sometimes I don't exactly have the cleanest mouth and my dad told my that since this isn't New York people might have a problem with swearing and I want you to like me so if I swear accidentally please don't like think less of me or anything ok?"
I didn't respond right away. Not because I was trying to figure out what to say this time but because I couldn't decide what in that sentence gave me the most pleasure, the thought of Vicky with a dirty mouth or the fact that he wanted me to like him. He must have taken my hesitation the wrong way because he started chewing on his bottom lip nervously and brushing his hair out of his eyes. If I wasn't already in love with him I would have fallen for him right then and there. I decided to be a little more forward than I had planned.
"Vicky, there's nothing in the world that could make me think less of you." I smiled at him. He looked so relieved that I wanted to take him in my arms and hug him. But I didn't want to be seen hugging another boy in gym class in case anybody got the right idea and more importantly I didn't want to make any kind of move until I was 100% sure that Vicky would be open to that kind of thing.
"Besides", I said "You saw me say 'Fuck you' to Jason in homeroom before so you know that I'm ok with swearing. Kids here swear all the time. It isn't like you're living in Amish country or a Baptist church."
He laughed. "Yeah I guess you're right. My dad made this big deal about how people out in the country act differently than people who live in cities so I kinda thought that everyone here was uptight about that kind of stuff."
"The last thing people around here are is uptight. Just give it a few days and you'll probably hear some things that will shock even your jaded city mind."
He laughed again and I noticed that like before it was a full fledged laugh, not the giggles I'd been hearing up until now. He had a beautiful laugh but part of me missed the cute giggles.
"So what was it like growing up here?" he asked
"I dunno, I grew up in Alaska."
He gave me a look like he was trying to decide if I was joking or not. I rolled my eyes.
"I'm telling you the truth" I said.
"Wow, so what's it like there?."
Vicky rolled his eyes. "Come on, seriously, I wanna know what it's like there. I've never met anyone from Alaska before. Did you ever see a polar bear?"
"No, I don't think there are any in Alaska." (A quick Google search shows that there are actually a lot of polar bears in Alaska but I've never seen one before and I didn't have Google right then so stop looking at me like that)
"What about an Eskimo?"
"Did you get around on a dogsled?"
"Oh. Well what about igloos? Did you know anyone who lived in an igloo?"
"Um, our neighbor had a plastic igloo doghouse in his backyard."
"Oh." he sounded disappointed. "I thought Alaska would be a lot more interesting."
"It is if you're into snow and walking through snow." I said. Vicky laughed, God I loved hearing that laugh!
"What about Sarah Palin, did you ever meet her?"
Vicky spent the rest of the class asking me questions about Alaska. Usually I hate answering questions but every time I answered a question, Vicky asked another one, which meant that I got to keep hearing his voice. More importantly, it was our first real conversation, so I happily answered all of his questions until the end of class.
Nothing else really happened for the rest of the school day. We talked as much as we could while walking to class and then didn't talk at all because out last two classes were the two we didn't have together. We did have lunch together with Jason but we didn't talk about much. Jason was delighted that he now had two "Smurfs" to make him look taller and promptly christened me Brainy Smurf and Vicky Smurfette. We both responded by saying "Fuck you Jason" in unison and which only caused Jason to laugh. It was a good thing that Vicky wasn't as delicate as he was in my dreams because friendship with Jason depends on mutual verbal abuse and I wanted Vicky and Jason to be friends.
And that was my first day of school.
I hoped to see Vicky at his locker after class before leaving school but I waited around for ten minutes and he didn't show up. Clearly I would have to time this better in the future. While I walked out of the building I tried to decide if I had a better chance of running into him after school if I ran like crazy to the lockers after class or if I took even longer. If you're thinking right now that I may be getting a bit obsessed then I would probably have to agree.
I got outside and looked around for my moms car. Actually that's a lie, I looked for Vicky while hoping that I didn't see my moms car so I could have an excuse to stand around for a while.
Unfortunately I didn't see him.
Fortunately he saw me.
"Hey Nate!" Vicky shouted and ran up to me. He has his backpack on and was running from in front of me so he obviously got out here before me.
"I guess I should run tomorrow" I said
"Oh, uh, nothing", Shit, didn't think I said that out loud, "What's going on, were you waiting for me?" He asked hopefully, I mentally added. Was that my imagination or did he just turn a little red?
"Uh, actually yeah." he answered. "My dad can't make it and I was wondering...uh-"
"Yes!" I cut him off. Then realizing that I didn't want to sound too eager lest he think I'm obsessed with him or something (crazy right?) I added, "Yeah my mom could drop you off." in what I hoped was a casual manner. He smiled at me.
Ok, in case anyone is wondering why neither of us are taking the bus I should probably give you a quick lesson in local politics. Oh don't give me that look it'll be quick and relevant to the story. I swear!
So two years ago the city decided that every school would be required by law to have buses that were equipped with the latest safety features. They figured that this wouldn't be a problem for the schools to comply with because the "latest safety features" started being put into buses six years ago. The problem is our school hadn't bought a new bus in 10 years. Why is this you ask? Because our school had 5 different music departments and 6 sports teams. How much money does it take to fully equip and maintain 5 different music departments and 6 sports teams? According to my mom "a shit ton" of money. I'm not quite sure how much money that is in dollars but apparently enough so the school can't buy any new buses and therefore can't comply with the new safety laws and therefore cannot legally operate any buses. So now every student needs to be picked up after school by their mom and/or dad or be forced to walk home. Now you know why Vicky needs a ride and also why I couldn't make my mom wait too long if I saw her. Oh, I did forget to mention that the school managed to scrounge up enough money to buy one new school bus. This bus now proudly shuttles the football team to it's infrequent away games. Meanwhile, all our world maps still show the Soviet Union. Isn't politics fun? Now back to the story!
"No problem". I said giving him a smile of my own.
Now I had a new problem, or rather, an old problem in a slightly new situation. We both fell into this awkward silence and I couldn't think of anything to say to break it. We had spent so much time together today but, with the exception of gym class, we really never actually talked about anything except the most basic things. I explained to him all about the school and the teachers, he told me a little bit about what it was like in New York, we, of course, had our "moment" in the gym but other than that and lunch (where we spent most of the time trading insults with Jason) we didn't talk about anything personal. I had no idea how to start a conversation with this boy and the two things I really wanted to say, that I loved him more than anything and would he mind taking off all of his clothes, I figured wouldn't be the best way to start off our first real conversation. Plus I've never really been good at making the first move. In anything. In Alaska all my friends loved playing games with me because I always wanted to go second. Jason and me became friends only after he started talking to me. Even earlier today I would never have asked Vicky if he wanted me to show him around the school if I hadn't already met him at the pool. Fortunately for me, Vicky didn't seem to have the same hang ups I did.
"So, um, you have any movie theaters around here?" he asked. And it was even a topic that I had some small interest in.
"Yeah we have two in driving distance. The Regal is close by but it only has 10 theaters and the seats are old and uncomfortable. The next town over has an AMC which is a lot better. It has 15 theaters and they recently renovated and put in stadium seating. The only problem is the sound is always screwed up in theater 3. Luckily they usually only put the older movies in the first four theaters because they're the farthest away from the bathrooms and the concession stands." I answered. (Oh and don't be fooled by the periods, they didn't actually show up when I said that I just put them in there)
"Wow, so I guess you go to the movies a lot?" he asked
"Not really", I answered seriously "Usually only once a week".
Vicky laughed. I laughed too when I realized why he was laughing. I guess I kinda do go to the movies more than usual, although I've been doing it for so long it just seems normal to me. I was happy I could make him laugh again but I was even happier that we now had a topic of conversation that I could milk for all it's worth.
"What's your favorite movie?" Vicky asked before I could say anything. Ok I guess I wasn't the only one who could milk a conversation.
"Star Wars" I answered without hesitation.
"All of them"
"Even the prequels?"
"What? Huh, what do you mean huh?"
"Well what's your favorite movie?"
"The Wrath of Khan."
"What do you mean, hm?"
"Hey, Wrath of Khan is a classic!"
"So is Star Wars."
"Not the prequels!"
"Well, maybe not but they do tell an important part of the story."
"Yeah because Jar-Jar Binks was an important part of the Star Wars story."
"Hey the Empire wouldn't have existed if Jar-Jar didn't propose granting emergency powers to Palpatine during the Seperatist War.
"Yeah and that automatically makes Khan more awesome than the Empire."
Ok, love of my life or not there is no way I was going to let him impugn the awesomeness of the Empire. To me he may as well have just invaded Poland because he just started a war! Time for a blitzkrieg, baby! I was all set to go into a long rant about the many merits of the Star Wars saga and the Empire in particular when I noticed Vicky was smiling impishly. (So cute!) All my carefully prepared arguments flew from my head and my confusion must have shown on my face because Vicky burst into a fit of giggling. (So so cute!) I started laughing also and pretty soon we were both laughing our asses off right there in front of the school.
I was a little bit embarrassed though. Not for the laughing (even though we must have looked pretty stupid, or at least I must have because I don't think it was possible for Vicky to look anything other than perfect) but because I was about to start a fight with the boy of my dreams over Star Wars during our first real conversation. It was a pretty stupid thing to argue about.
Besides, I had a long time to convince him of the error of his ways.
We finally stopped laughing. At some point we had sat down on the grass and at the same time I noticed that I also noticed that were sitting close together. Very close together. So close that our legs were almost touching. I froze. If there was ever going to be a time to test out whether or not Vicky might just be open to being more than friends this was it. All I needed to do was move my leg a half an inch over to the right, make contact with him and look into his eyes so he would know I did it on purpose. It would be so easy.
My leg started to move. As it did every minute we spent together flashed before my eyes. I also for the first time stopped to wonder if he was actually gay. Up until now I never thought about it I only thought about whether or not he was interested in me the way I was interested in him but now looking back I couldn't point to any one instance where I could tell for sure if he was gay or straight. Despite his swearing I still thought of Vicky as mostly innocent so any of those smiles or looks into my eyes could have just been his innocent way of trying to be friendly. Wait, he wanted to be friends with Jason too right? Did he do any of that with him? I couldn't remember. Panic started to well up inside me. What if he wasn't gay? What if he was but didn't like me like that? What if he got disgusted and never wanted to speak to me again? What if I was overthinking this? What if I was underthinking it?
All this flashed through my mind in less than a second and in that time my bare leg touched his. We were really touching! Vicky's bare skin was actually pressed against mine! It was like coming into contact with an exposed wire, the current shooting from my leg right to my heart which started beating rapidly. My breathing got heavier and I felt the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up. They weren't the only things standing up but I've been wearing boxer-briefs for months so everything was safely contained. His leg, the small part of it that I was in contact with anyway, was the smoothest thing I had ever felt. It was like velvet or a freshly washed blanket. I was almost in heaven. I was at the gates. All I needed to do to either go through or be barred forever was to look into his eyes and let him know I meant to touch him. I mustered up all my courage and started to turn my head towards him.
HONK! "Nate! Come on you're making me hold up the line!" my mother shouted and honked the horn second time.
I jumped up without even realizing what I was doing. It took me a second to figure out what happened but when it did I felt a rage swell up inside me that I never thought possible. If I was a cartoon character my head would turned red, expelled steam and exploded. But since I was a 13 year old with a very large vocabulary my head instead filled with the most vile and hate filled words I could think of. Words that you will just have to guess at because I'm not repeating them. Ever.
My white hot anger quickly burned itself down to a smoldering resentment as my mom honked the horn again and shouted at me to hurry up. I turned to Vicky and looked into his eyes, a gesture that didn't have anything to do with the gates of heaven anymore but it still had an effect on me. All traces of anger or resentment were gone, erased by those beautiful gray eyes.
I smiled at him. "Come on, we better get going before she comes out and drags me to the car."
We walked over to the car together. When we got there I leaned in the open passenger window and said " Mom, this is my friend Vicky I told him we'd give him a ride home is that ok?"
"Yeah, fine, just get in." she said hurriedly. We got in.