Mrs. Crandall and Mom greeted the four at the door and immediately started exclaiming over Susan and Bobbie. "This calls for another round of photos," Mom said. "Clarisa."
Clarisa was already half-way down the hall, "I'm all teary eyed," she said. "Yesterday you two were playing in a sand box and today you are beautiful young women. And as good as you are beautiful. I could just hug you, but I don't want to mess up anything."
"You'll not mess up anything," Susan said as she and Bobbie hugged Clarisa.
"Now it's picture time." Clarisa made picture after picture of the two women and pictures of them with their dates. There needed to be pictures with Mrs. Crandall and then with the Clan plus Kenneth -- we had already declared Sandy an official member of the Clan.
Photos were finally done and we all trooped out to the limo, Justin and I carrying gym bags with our after-the-prom and Sunday clothes in them. Mom had reminded us we'd need to pack clothes after she told us we would be going to Sunset Lodge.
When we reached the club, we were escorted to the Coastal Room by Joseph. When we got there, he shook his head and said, "You know, seems I was getting high chairs for you yesterday and now you all growed up, and you growed up good."
Our dinner was very nice and we had a great time, talking, laughing and teasing each other. It was the best the club had to offer. After dessert, Susan said, "Wonderful dinner, thanks guys."
"Wonderful," Bobbie said, "even if Clarisa could have done better." We all agreed.
I guess there was an air of snobbery about the thought, but I observed the relaxed manner of Sandy at dinner and thought, "The boy is rapidly climbing the learning curve of table manners and could pass as a "real Thurmond" if he desires."
The prom officially started at 8:00 and was over at midnight, but hardly anyone showed up before nine, just making sure they were present for the senior walk at 9:30. And very few people would still be around at midnight. When we arrived at 9:00 on the nose, the gym had been decorated vaguely following the prom's announced theme Tropical Nights. We had gone all out on decorations last year, but this year's juniors couldn't agree on anything and spent most of the prom planning and decorating time fighting over what they would and would not do. While a low stage and equipment had been set up for a band, the music was from CDs, and those just stuck in a changer.
Couples and singles were gradually wandering in, most girls in evening dress and most boys in formal wear, if you can call formal a lime green with chocolate trim tux, and similar models.
A number of people were standing around the refreshment table drinking red punch and nibbling, and a few were on the floor dancing. The music from a CD was very slow and most on the floor were doing little more than leaning on each other. "Guess that's a version of Mary Beth's dry fuck," Bobbie said, pointing to a couple who would be arrested for indecent exposure had they been prone rather than semi-upright.
I suspect Kenneth was asking himself, "Well, Kenneth, my boy, what did you expect in the boonies?" As if reading my mind, he said, "Looks like my prom. Ours was in a hotel, cost a mint, and looked exactly like this. Anyone ever think proms are a waste of money and should be a thing of the past?"
"Believe me, the thought occurred last year," John said. "But, hey, let's make the best of it." The two led Susan and Bobbie onto the floor and started dancing. They were dancing close, but dancing, not leaning.
As they danced, Sydney James -- who had a Saturday morning show on the local AM station and, as the Voice of Sander's High, made announcements over the school intercom -- was checking names for the senior walk. While he was across from us, Justin, sounding panicked, said, "Marc, we're seniors!"
"Last time I looked. So?"
"So, what are we going to do about the senior walk?"
I hadn't given it a moment's thought and saw no reason to give it any now. "We're seniors, we walk. Here comes Sydney now." The senior walk was a big deal for some folks and, in fact, the raison d'etre of proms for many, perhaps most. Hard to see why, since it was nothing more than a brief time in a spotlight: a couple started at one end of a raised platform, this year a 'desert isle' spotlighted at one end of the gym, walked to the middle, turned to face center while their names were announced, a photographer snapped their picture, they turned and walked off. At midnight, when the prom ended, or Monday, a packet of two photos would be available for a fee. Big deal to some, panic for Justin, which surprised me.
"I'm not sure about this," Justin said. "I mean, after the last week, I'm not sure."
A sudden influx of very loud seniors and their dates, getting ready for the senior walk, interrupted us. When I turned to look, it was obvious some of them had already started the after-the-prom party from the disheveled state of what had been elaborate hairdos on some of the girls, and some who were well on their way to becoming falling-down drunk. A couple of the male teacher/chaperons sent the three drunkest ones packing, but allowed the others to stay.
When things settled down a bit, I turned to Justin and said, "We're seniors. We walk -- as a couple, period." Justin just nodded.
Sydney came to our group and said, "Bobbie, need to make sure of your escort's name."
"Mr. Kenneth ..."
"Mr. Kenneth Lytle Thurmond of Raleigh," Bobbie said.
"How about you, Marc? You without a date? Want in the stag walk?" Sydney grinned, letting me know he knew about me and Justin. He knew, but he was unprepared for my response.
"Hell no! Not at all. I expect to walk with my date and fiance, Justin Chayton Smith... What's wrong, Sydney, you look like I hit you in the face with a sack of fresh dog shit," I said, using one of Justin's expressions.
"Ok, I know you two are whatever it is you are, but you are kidding, right? I mean you two are not doing the whole senior walk thingy together... are you?" Clearly he wanted a "no."
"We certainly are," Justin answered.
"Ok, it's your funeral," Sydney said."
The band had arrived and was playing -- I was surprised -- softly when Sydney went to a mike and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Senior Walk." Miss Stevens, who each prom relived her high school prom of bygone years, managed to get us in some sort of order so Sydney could announce us and the senior walk started.
The number of seniors present represented less than half the class -- for a number of reasons I suppose, but cost being the major one, so it wasn't long before Susan's and John's names were called, followed by Bobbie's and Kenneth's. There were never any "stagettes" for the senior walk. A girl without a date stayed home or found some stag to do the walk with her. Double standard, sure, but that's the way it was. When Sydney had not called our names, I thought he intended Justin and I would be the last couple to walk, but when he started the stag walk, I wasn't sure what was going on until only Justin and I were left.
I was sure Sydney was going to choke, but he finally managed to croak, "Mr. Marcus Alexander Porcher, fourth, and Mr. Justin Chayton Smith." There was an audible gasp from the crowd gathered in front of the "tropical isle." It was obvious Sydney had sneaked that one over on Miss Stevens because she was on her way to the floor in a dead faint. As two male teachers helped her off the floor, Justin smiled and kissed me on the cheek, black eyes sparkling. Sydney grinned and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, the senior waltz."
Hardly a waltz, which was just as well since few of the seniors would have been able to handle that. In fact, most were barely able to dance to the slow tune the band did play, but leaning was acceptable. Kenneth, like John, was a great dancer and the two looked absolutely magnificent with their partners. I thought probably Justin and I shouldn't rub it in by dancing together, but he had decided otherwise.
"Once you are out -- and coming out during senior walk means you are definitely out -- you can't put the gay back in the tube... in the closet. Mr. Marcus Alexander Porcher IV, may I have this dance?"
"You most certainly may, Mr. Justin Chayton Smith." Justin had developed into a great dancer and when he led me to the floor, it was clearly evident. Kenneth and John were holding Bobbie and Susan close and the women were resting their heads on their dates' shoulders. Looked like a comfortable position to me, so I followed their lead.
Justin giggled and said, "Sweetheart, take a look at Miss Stevens," and he turned me in her direction. She was no longer out, but was pretty wobbly when she was helped to her feet, her blond wig askew. "Don't you know she'll be screaming about our ruining her prom?"
"Well, she should have brought her partner," I responded. Everyone knew, but no-one said it -- Miss Stevens and Miss Simmons, an elementary school teacher, had been an item for the past twenty years or more.
As the song ended, I lifted my head from Justin's shoulder and looked into his sparkling eyes. He smiled, pulled me close and kissed me, a full-tongue, open-mouth, count to a hundred and do it again kiss. As we broke our kiss, I heard someone say, "Why don't somebody get rid of them fucking queers?" then applause broke out. We broke our second kiss, turned and bowed just in time to see Miss Stevens collapse again.
After a couple of dances with their dates, both Susan and Bobbie had asked Sandy to dance with them and was told he'd like to, but he knew he was still sore and didn't want to make it worse. When I was dancing with them, I assured them Sandy wasn't just faking. "He's still very sore."
I led Susan to the floor and as we started dancing, she said, "Take a look at Sandy and tell me no way he'd dance." I looked over to where Sandy was standing and I was sure he didn't think it was obvious, but he was watching Michael Duncan dance and it wasn't because he was interested in picking up dancing pointers!
"Poor kid. I know what it's like to be in love and not have the love returned."
"Marcus, your love is returned," Susan responded and smiled.
After Justin and I had danced with Bobbie and Susan, when the band started a slow dance, Justin took my hand and we started for the floor, but before we reached it, Mr. Plemmons, the drivers' ed teacher, rushed over and said, "Miss Stevens has said you two have done enough to ruin her prom and she forbids you to dance together again." I could see Justin's temper rising almost as quickly as mine. Apparently Mr. Plemmons did as well because he threw up his hands and said, "Hey, her statement, not mine."
I looked at Justin and said, "Screw her. I want to dance with my date."
Mr. Plemmons grinned in spite of himself and said, "Thanks, but I'll leave that job to someone else and, so far as I am concerned, you can dance with who -- whom? whatever -- you please."
I led Justin onto the floor and took him in my arms. He lay his head on my shoulder as I held him close, very close, close enough that I could feel Little Marcus and Mr. Smith growing rapidly and getting cozy with each other.
Over Justin's shoulder I saw Michael Duncan looking across the gym in Sandy's direction. When I saw him start across the gym floor, I realized he wasn't looking in Sandy's direction. He was looking at Sandy. Sandy, of course, was looking at him with a very puzzled look which only became more puzzled as a huge smile spread across Michael's face. "Still think Sandy's too sore to dance?" I asked.
"You think he's faking?" Justin responded.
"No, just that it takes special persuasion to get a sore boy dancing," I said, turning us so both could see Michael approach Sandy and hold out his hand to him. "The boy will dance if it kills him."
"Damn right he will if he's got any sense."
"The sense which counts right now is between his legs and he has plenty," I laughed.
The co-captain of the football team was now on the dance floor with Sandy as his partner and just as they got to the middle of the dance floor, the band started a wild, fast tune and the two danced. Sandy might not have been sore before, but he'd definitely be sore now. I could just hear him say, "This little queer boy killed himself dancing when he shouldn't have, but he just started heaven early."
I thought Sandy said he knew nothing about slow dancing, but when the fast tune was followed by a slow one, he could have fooled anyone. Well, how hard is it to fake dancing when mostly you and your partner are just holding each other close and weaving to the music, staring into each other's eyes? Both Justin and I had huge smiles on our faces and when we looked over at the other Clan members, they were all looking at Sandy and Michael and grinning. When the tune ended, the two were so involved in each other that they seemed not to notice. Still gazing into each other's eyes, they bent to each other, slowly, slowly, slowly until, finally, their lips met in a beautiful, passionate kiss.
As some on the dance floor started applauding, others started shouting slurs and, on the sidelines, Miss Stevens screamed and hit the floor a third time. We were standing fairly close to her and heard Mr. Plemmons say, "Shit, Adelaide, a same-sex couple shouldn't upset you. Stand up and deal with it." Miss Stevens looked up from her place on the floor, eyes shooting daggers, then got up and headed for the door. Just before she left, she shouted over her shoulder, "THIS is my last prom!"
Sandy, with a grin on his face I suspect it would take surgery to remove and holding Michael's hand, walked to where the six of us were standing. "John, can I take him home with me? Huh? Huh? Please? Please? Huh? I'll take care of him, I promise. I'll feed him, change his water, walk him to do his business.... Huh? Please? Huh?" Michael was laughing as hard as he could as he at looked at Sandy with what could only be called at least infatuation, but maybe love, in his eyes.
"Guess we could take him home for a trial and if he worked out, maybe you could keep him," John laughed.
"Michael, after the prom, we're all going to Sunset Lodge for the rest of the weekend," I said. "We have a brunch scheduled for 9:30 tomorrow morning. We'll be going back after Eucharist at St. Paul's and stay until we leave for school Monday morning. We'd be happy to have you join us if you could persuade Sandy to ask you."
"Please, Michael, I'll be a good boy," Sandy begged, needlessly as all could see.
"I'll have to check with my mom and dad," Michael said. "I'm sure it'll be ok, but they expect me to check-in if there's a change in plans and this is a big one."
"Sandy, you need to call and check with Lacy," John said. "I'm positive it will be ok, but you don't do something like spend the night with someone without checking. Best way to get to do what you please is to prove you can be trusted."
After the attacks on us, we all had new, tiny cell phones and permission to carry them in school. Sandy pulled his from an inner pocket and hit a speed-dial number. "Lacy, Sandy. Yeah, it's been great, fantastic..." (Goes to show reality is what you perceive to be reality.) "...and I found a lost boy I want to bring home and keep." Sandy was silent for a few seconds, then started laughing. "Well, I'll see he gets his shots and is checked for distemper Monday." Silence. "Ok, I guess we can put him in quarantine. How about the weekend at Sunset Lodge?" Sandy stopped kidding around and told Lacy about Michael, but didn't go in to any details. After a few minutes silence, Sandy said, "I promise I won't ravage him... well, maybe just a baby ravage."
In the background, Michael was laughing his head off and got control enough to say, "Ravage me, man, ravage me!"
"Thanks, Lacy, thank you. Love you." I always felt the "I love you," people are using instead of saying "goodbye" when ending a phone call was meaningless twaddle, but it was clear that Sandy meant what he said.
"Only an hour until the witching hour, time to get with that very special person, if he or she is here, for a special tune," Sydney said and the band started some slow, romantic tune. My full attention was on Justin until I caught sight of a couple moving to the center of the floor. Misti Logan, a cheerleader and very popular girl, was dancing with Pat Mercer, captain of the girl's softball team, and they were not "just girls dancing," as girls sometimes do.
Pat had ignored being called a tomboy when she was young, and butch when she became older, and I suspect few were surprised if she was announcing she was a lesbian, but Misti? She had been winning beauty pageants since she won a "Pretty Baby" contest when she was less than a year old. She had always had at least a dozen boys after her and here she was, not dancing with "the one who brung you," but Pat, butch softball champion. Stereotypes fall hard.
When the song ended, John said, "I've had enough prom. How about the rest of you?" We all nodded agreement and he added, "Michael, we all have after-prom clothes and church clothes with us. Want we should go by your place to pick up some for you?"
"If it's ok with you, I have my limo here and would like to take Sandy home to meet my parents -- I'll save the coming out party for later -- and then we'll come out to Sunset."
"Sounds like a plan," John responded.
"Fine. Sandy to my country boy's limo." Michael grabbed Sandy's hand and they ran across the parking lot to Michael's tricked-out pickup and we climbed into the limo which was waiting for us. As we watched them, Justin laughed and said, "Don't you know that'll chap Kev's ass."
"Old man Kevin's, too," I added.
As we got settled in the limo, Susan started laughing and just couldn't stop. She finally regained enough control to say, "I'd be willing to bet it will be a few years before this prom is forgotten."
"Yeah, and I won't be surprised if it's the last prom at this school, period," Bobbie said. "Yeah, I bet old Stevens was right, I bet this is her last prom."
We asked the driver to put on something romantic and as the music started, we all snuggled with the one we loved -- well, at least the one we were with. After a few minutes silence, Susan said, "Guys, there's something worrying me..."
"Michael?" I asked.
"Me too," I agreed. "Michael may be as head over heels in love with Sandy as I am with Justin, and I know Sandy is purely smitten with Michael, but what if Sandy is reading more into Michael's dance and all than he intends? Also, we know Sandy is innocent and essentially a virgin, but we don't know about Michael. I guess I feel kinda responsible for the two."
"Been thinking the same thing, sweetheart," Justin said. "Look, I don't think Michael's a straight guy after a blowjob from a gay dude. I mean, after what he did tonight, he has pretty much outed himself... he HAS outed himself, but..."
"Well, it's pretty clear who is best equipped to talk to the two. You both said the Florida friends were a big help to you two. Time to pass it on," Bobbie said.
"Yeah, and you need to toss in what yo'mama Clarisa said as well," John said. "Maybe they don't need testing and all but, well, whatever. I think you two definitely need to talk to the them," John said and we agreed.