A work in progress - subject to change.
Submitted: May 21, 2016
My first day at Mercy High should’ve been like any other school day. Though I had to admit, school life in America took on a drastically different flavor than my days back in Italy.
Though my brother, Pietro, and I attended a private Italian school with an emphasis on American English, the school declared itself distinctly Italian. Because of this, when Petey and I migrated back to the States for our freshman year at Tamalpais High in Mill Valley, we spent that year trying like hell to fit in. We did everything to adapt to American norms and that distinct flavor of Northern Cali slang our peers were using, with the end result that we tended to split our thinking along those very lines. On the one hand, we utilized our training in formal American English and structured thinking, only to be balanced out with the other using a fair smattering of urban slang we heard going on around us. To be sure, a tough balancing act to maintain – a rather fine line to walk and we had to be quick about how we absorbed it all. It made for a hectic, if rewarding, return back home. A home we hadn’t called home since the age of three.
My eyes scanned the parking lot as the students began to arrive. To get a bit more comfortable I unbuttoned the bottom button of the team jacket Dad purchased for me since I’d already achieved quarterback status on the varsity team, even if it was only second string. It’s cool. I had to pay my dues; I got it.
But still, I was a Mercy High Avenging Angel now – full-on jock cred to spend as I saw fit. Not too bad for my sophomore year. My new life in a new town happened so quickly that I’d barely begun to get my bearings in my new surroundings, what with the new friends I made, and in general, life in the small town of Mercy where everyone seemed to know who I was and what I was all about even before I arrived.
Cindy Markham’s voice soft as her dark doe-like eyes that scanned me from head to toe pulled my attention her direction. From the salacious stare she gifted me I might as well have been standing there naked – full-on fuck meat for the taking. Whatever. The lilt to her voice matched her come-hither look followed by her curvaceous body, packed tightly into a pale pink low v-neck crew top, equally tight capri pants and a heather grey light sweater that ended in pale pink Keds tennis shoes.
I’d only recently met her and the rest of the cheer squad in the last few weeks of summer football training. I didn’t have too much time with practice to get to know many of them. Cindy made sure that she did everything she could to close that gap in my knowledge.
It helped that we had one helluva meet n’ greet at Fiorelli’s, the popular Italian restaurant in town, after that first joint practice. With the girls jumping around and displaying their wares, the guys had a hard time concentrating that day, I can tell you that. My eyes widened slightly at her flirtatious approach.
“Hey, Cindy. Uh, good summer?”
I asked her softly, unsure if I wanted to continue the conversation. It just seemed polite at the time – goddamn me and my good breeding. It was an odd question to ask, because for some strange reason our first day was unseasonably fogged in, the sun trying to press its way here and there for dominance.
“It’s better now,” she said snaking a finger along my abs as she leaned in a little closer to me. I couldn’t understand how she could wear that come-hither face with such focus as if what she said didn’t sound like the major cheesy pick-up line of the century.
Yeah, girl. I know your game. I’ve seen you peddle your wares to more than one guy on the team. Not into sloppy seconds … or thirds, for that matter. So not buying what’s on offer. But uh, thanks, anyways.
I mean, she’s got it going on, for a girl. Pretty enough – curves where I was sure most guys would want them – a narrow waist that led to an ample rack of tits that would’ve filled even my big hands. Not to mention she had enough junk in the trunk to rival J-Lo. All in all, the girl had it and she knew it.
Jesus, Pietro should see me now.
I fucking needed my brother with me and where was he? The fucking brainiac had scuttled any chance of our staying together in school by APing his ass out of high school over the summer and entering Stanford at the tender age of fifteen and a half.
I still loved him more than anyone else in the world, but he was still a complete shithead for ditching me and going off to have a life in the real world without me.
I realized that was a terrible thing for me to think about him and inwardly berated myself for doing so. It wasn’t fair; he did ask me to go with him. It wasn't like I couldn't go, either. My grades were good enough. Hell, the schooling we received in Europe easily outstripped any education we would’ve gotten in the US so testing out of high school and taking the placement tests for Stanford would have probably been just as easy for me. But then I’d have to give up football altogether. And despite how much living the college life appealed, I had to be honest that with my love of the sport, at my age, I simply had no choice to make.
While I was a great high school player, I simply wasn’t big enough to handle college guys yet. I needed a couple of more years under my belt to even think along those lines. Though I couldn’t complain – my workout regimen clearly stacked on the muscle rapidly and the cuts were forming on my body in all the right places – so that was a very good thing. But it wasn’t enough to handle the guys in college ball.
Bodily, my twin came in a close second. But where he excelled slightly better in the brain department, I got the slightly more golden genes of physicality. Where he struggled with athletically came naturally to me. So I guess we were a balanced set. Twins often are. Didn’t trouble me none, even if his decision to skip high school did keep him more than one hundred miles away from me.
I felt Cindy’s arm slink around my waist, the brush of her nails against my skin, like claws grasping for purchase on a tasty morsel. I tried like hell to let it go as my thoughts wandered over my absent brother.
“So, uh, you doing anything for lunch?”
I looked down at her face tucked up against my shoulder as if it belonged to her all along. A few other students gathered along the front of the school, furtively taking notice of Cindy’s slick move. I could tell the gossip train on this little maneuver successfully left the station at Mercy High. Thankfully, before I felt a need to react, a rumbling baritone bubbled in our direction.
“I thought you were having lunch wit’ me. Now I see how it is. Whatever, Cindy.”
Inwardly, I couldn’t help but issue a huge sigh of relief. I turned my attention curbside to find Beau Hopkins sliding into home plate for the rescue.
Thank the fucking maker! My inner-C3PO exclaimed.
“Dude!” I completed the turn to face him and spied him moving from his father’s Mercedes as it pulled away from the curb. I watched his manly gait as he climbed up the steps to where Cindy had cornered me along the planters just outside the main entrance. His arrival allowed me an easy option to break free of Cindy’s clawed entrapment.
“Whassup, my brutha from another mutha?” he proclaimed for everyone around who was within earshot that I was in solid with the team. Being the new guy, I was appreciative of that – the lengths the guys would go to show their acceptance of me.
I gently extracted the arm Cindy had pulled around her to greet Beau. We bromance fist bumped.
“Nada, dude, she’s all yours. Just keepin’ her warm until you got here. Wouldn’t dream of moving in on you. You know that,” I said as Beau came up and wrapped a possessive arm around Cindy, who looked slightly put out at my dismissal of her amorous intentions no matter how sincere her invite to their lunchtime activities.
“‘Sall good in the hood, bro. But yeah,” he looked down at Cindy for second and she dutifully glanced up at him with a radiant smile that I couldn’t help thinking was a bit forced – what the fuck was that about?
“You should definitely hang with us up at the plateau,” he added.
“The … plateau?”
“The upper level of the garden in the quad,” Cindy clarified. “Full-on jock turf. You’re one of us now,” she said as she playfully ran a finger up my abs again.
I gave them both a small smile and took a tiny step back, allowing them to have their space. Beau just grinned and shook his head.
I nodded once to Beau that I was toeing the line on teammate’s girlfriends.
“Ah yeah, uh, okay … maybe.”
I’d learned from my days at my old school, Tamalpais High, that American males – particularly of the jock variety – were always fairly non-committal, always keeping their options open.
“Coo-coo,” Beau said as he started to move off with Cindy in tow. “Catch ya later, bro. Gotta get to my locker and unload half this shit I’m carrying. Later, Sforza.”
“Yeah, later, Hopkins.”
We fist bumped and they were gone. Out from under their gaze, I sagged down onto the planter in a huff, grateful that I had come to school early, had already sorted out my locker and was just hanging outside waiting out my last few minutes of summer vacation before the banality of Mercy High would descend upon us all. Several minutes later, the bell rang in another school year, although now it was a new year at a new school.
I grabbed my shit and slipped into the doorway along with the others who were busy chatting away about what occupied their summer and how they couldn’t wait to see some person who I knew absolutely nothing about.
To be honest, most of what was going on around me was rather mysteriously obtuse, mostly because everything here still had a newness to it all.
Everyone so far seemed really nice and accepting of the new guy – with that new guy being me – so I had no complaints, not really. Besides, being a jock never hurt, too. Though I did spend the first part of my morning catching up with old friends back at my old high school in Mill Valley to see what they were up to this morning.
I got the local gossip rundown of who had broken up with who, who got pregnant (a girl who seemed like such a shut-in that it was something of a coup in the school ranks that a guy on the wrestling team got her knocked up over the summer that it was quite the scandal) and the like. The funny thing was, the pregnancy wasn't the scandal. It was more that the shy quiet girl got hot-and-heavy with a jock over the summer that had phones buzzing this morning at my old school.
I smirked thinking about that when I reached my locker. In a real way Thomas, the wrestler in question, was probably going to end up marrying the girl. He was just that sort of straight up All-American boy. He'd no doubt do right by her and all that rot. Not that I didn’t think that the baby deserved both parents’ involvement in its soon-to-be life, but I just couldn’t imagine being sacked with a kid and still be in high school. It was a clear warning shot across the bow for me to keep my head in the game. That game, of course, being my burgeoning football career and not some random girl I decided to get frisky with.
My wandering thoughts along those lines had me thinking Papa had the right of it: head down, eyes to the goal and just keep perfecting my craft. I’d dedicate every ounce of my efforts there now.
Besides, isn’t that why we masterbated in the first place? I could catch some internet porn, nut one out to relieve any built up sexual tension – same as the next guy – and move on with my day. Hashtag: Done.
I pulled some books from my locker when this random guy came up and started fucking around with the locker next to mine. I slammed mine shut and prepared to move on when I saw him fully for the first time.
The moment my eyes found him my breath sort of hitched and everything fluttered a bit inside. His eyes glanced my way and they locked with mine. They narrowed the tiniest bit the moment he registered I had any interest in him. I tried to school my gaze but I couldn’t say with any certainty the degree of my success.
“Yeah?” he asked as he struggled with the combination lock for the third time, unsuccessfully, jerking it really hard as if his tugging upon it would gain him admittance to his locker.
I can’t say if what I was feeling could be called mesmerized, but it definitely took me a few to realize he was talking to me. I just stood there with my dumbfounded deer in the headlights stare at him. I don’t know how else to put it, but all I could think of in that moment underscored that I always believed that certain people in your life you come into contact with are magical. As if life put them there with big ol’ lights and neon arrows to indicate they're a major sign post and you needed to sit up and pay the fuck attention when they happened. This hadn’t evolved as some random belief, either. I had several moments in my life where this happened before, so I knew it to be true. Well, just watching this kid, I knew in my heart of hearts, he couldn’t be anything but …
“Magical,” I murmured.
And pissed as all fuck, too, when I finally realized I hadn’t answered him.
“What?” he said a bit more pointedly as he yanked wildly on his combination lock like a whiny girl, flailing around the tiniest bit as he pulled on that unforgiving handful of metal. Yet, with each tug upon it, I found it pulled upon me to help him. As if that lock were tugging on something deep within me. To say I was beyond intrigued would’ve been the understatement of the year.
“You,” I started, but before I could finish he cut me off.
“Yeah? What about me?”
I held a hand up to stop his little jerk fest with the lock that would not grant him access no matter how hard he yanked on the damned thing. Instead, I leaned against the locker and watched him struggle a bit before he huffed and let the damned thing go. I could feel a gentle smirk move across my lips watching his frustration.
“Well, now, if you calmed down and wait a second, I might be able to help.”
His eyes narrowed. I was being judged, and by the look of it, I hadn’t gained any winning points with what I considered to be my charming smile.
“Never mind. I don’t need this shit until third period anyway.”
He picked up his backpack from the floor, which was so overstuffed that I thought he just might have a wildebeest in there, and with a monumental heaving move, slung it back onto his shoulder. His brilliant blue eyes, eyes that would rival the fucking blue-white sky – so bright they were almost silver – like those of a Husky dog, scanned me from head to toe.
I couldn’t quite get a read on what his thoughts as he sized me up. I took that moment to do a little window shopping myself, too. He was just short of my height, a little lithe, but not abnormally so; actually, from what I could tell, he had nice definition for a kid of about fifteen or sixteen. He was dressed in a distressed Star Wars T-shirt with Luke brandishing his light saber on the front, faded torn skinny leg jeans that exposed his knees. He had quite nicely shaped legs for a slender looking guy. He seemed to have a decent package and ass, too.
He cocked his head at a cute angle, like a dog who is hearing a high pitched sound when I realized he caught me checking him out which was sort of embarrassing and kind of adorable all at the same time.
And that realization sort of shocked me.
I was checking him out in a way that made me realize I looked at him with far more interest than was socially acceptable for a guy like me. Well, by school standards at any rate. Yet, there was something about this guy that made my insides all fluttery. Being near him made me happy, despite the grumpy attitude he threw my way this morning.
I knew I gifted him one of my best smirks, one that I considered fairly sexy. Why I thought I should spend it on him confused me a bit, but I felt better the moment I did.
“Well, if you give me your combo, I might be able to see why it’s giving you so much trouble.”
“Yeah," he snorted, "so you can fuck with the gay guy throughout the year? Nice try, jocktard. No, thank you.”
He turned on the spot and strode away as quickly as his feet would carry him, which I noted were about the same size as mine, in dirty and torn rainbow pride Vans, no less.
I wondered as I watched him move between the throngs of kids in the hall, making his quick getaway, if he always had a distressed shabby chic about him or not. I had to admit, aside that he chose to leave me which I couldn’t say made me happy, I had to admit I did sort of like seeing his backside as he walked away from me. I just stood there leaning against the locker watching his nicely toned ass in those tight as fuck jeans of his as he slipped further from view.
Just as he was about to take the stairwell to the second floor he turned to spy me still watching him. I wiggled my eyebrows at him and his eyes went wide with what I could only guess was fear as he scurried up the stairs as if Satan himself gave chase. I had to admit, there was a part of me that seriously considered it.
But English was my first period class so I decided against it and made my way there instead.
“Third period, huh?” I mumbled to myself as I strode down the hall to English, knowing full well that I could probably find a reason to meet up with this kid at our lockers even if I really didn’t have a reason to be there.
Over the following months I found myself sinking further into the life of an up and coming quarterback and the attention and adoration it brought along with it. That as cool. I got into it a bit, even if my cousin Francesca and my brother – who were rooming off campus near Stanford – kept me grounded and reminded me of just how little that local celebrity mattered in life.
They allowed me to bask in it a bit, but not abnormally so. I appreciated that so much because I never wanted to be that guy. You know the one I mean, all caught up in his own shit and making it worse by thinking that it didn’t stink when everyone else thought your shit stunk to high heaven – as I once heard the gay kid’s mom say as she dropped him off one morning. She gently prodded him about his brooding mood and I just so happened to be there to overhear.
They were quite cute together, even if I thought he should cut her some serious slack.
Okay, that wasn’t as random as I made it out to sound. The truth of the matter? I made damned sure I sat there, at the drop-off point, every damned morning when he arrived on campus. I just started doing it. He didn’t ask, I don’t remember my making a conscious decision to do so. It just sort of … happened.
But here’s the thing: it kept happening. Every morning I’d rise a little earlier than my normal time to just get in an extra round of working out. I pushed myself a bit harder each and every day. All the while, I knew every ounce of what I poured into those routines had his name written all over it. I never put a thought to it, just knew in my heart of hearts that’s why I did it.
Even after school, when I didn’t have practices for football, I’d find myself following him on his way home. I never really went the whole way, just enough that I knew the general area of where he lived. It was the southeast part of town – the older part of Mercy.
Other times, like over the weekend when I’d be out and about doing some shopping or grabbing a bite to eat with friends I might spy him moving along the sidewalk. No matter what I occupied myself with, that pull from him strong, and monumental, scooped me up and I’d always end up abandoning my day just to be that lovesick puppy chasing after it’s master.
And he is … my master.
Despite my efforts to deny it, I knew it to be true. That revelation didn’t occupy my thoughts too much. I couldn’t go there. Because the moment I did, it blossomed exponentially on me and I became frightened by what it meant. This boy, in his quiet, unassuming way, proclaimed danger to me. He did everything he could to avoid everyone in town but he had me.
The enormity of how it could envelop me shook me to my very core – an emotional rabbit hole I just didn’t want to spend too much time and energy going down to sort it. Simple to let it be and evolve without my direct involvement. Better to let it bubble there, simmer and stew unattended by me. I couldn’t touch it. My world would unravel if I did.
What do you do with something like that? How do you possibly cope knowing that one person in this world explained to you the insignificance of catastrophic natural disasters when compared to what they brought into your life? They were but pathetic annoyances by comparison. He was monolithic.
Yet, I observed him in quiet awe – that boy, silent, tacit and unassuming had so much power within him I could not help but be in humbled each time he crossed my path. And I did everything I could to ensure that he would cross it.
But do not mistake me that I was remaking my life or reinventing myself to do so. To be honest, with the exception of that drop off in the morning and maybe the off-chance meet up at the lockers between classes, I really didn’t see him all that much, and not nearly as much as I’d like – a powerful contradiction in my life. What he possessed frightened me so, yet like moth to the proverbial flame, I wanted him to continue to frighten me. A strangely hypnotic and dangerous dance between us.
And I didn’t know why it started to become a thing. That thought would cross my mind whenever I followed him around and, despite my random pondering, I didn’t have a clear answer for it. If one began to form, I distanced myself from it for fear of what I’d find – which bore little resemblance to me at all. I am not the boy who ran from things, I tended to run towards them. It’s just how I roll.
But with that boy, not so much, it seems. I followed, begging for crumbs from him, whatever he would toss my way without much in the way of thought or intent. A love paupers existence.
And then there was the growing collection of random photos I had on my phone. Moments I captured whenever I spied him at school, often in the distance, or around town. By the time winter break hit, I had well over a hundred of them tucked away in an album on my phone.
Each and every night, almost as in the litany of prayer, I would look at every one, taking my time to study every subtle nuance of him. Looking at each one as if it were the first time I saw them, despite my nightly ritual to the contrary.
I didn’t know if he went away for the holiday break or not, mostly because no matter wherever I found myself over that break I never saw him around. A few days in my parents decided we needed a small break the week between Christmas and New Year so we took in San Francisco and stayed in the house we had in Pacific Heights that week. It was a nice change of pace from the small goings on back in Mercy. But my mind just couldn’t keep away from thinking about him – what occupied his time, where he called home during the holidays, how felt about it all, if he enjoyed his Christmas holiday. All of it.
Pietro and Francesca did their best to keep me going and into the spirit of things. The City was the best place to be for the holiday if you couldn’t be back in Italy like I knew we all wanted to be. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford it, just that Papa didn’t want to waste two full days with a prolonged flight back and forth when all he could really take off from his practice was that intervening week between the holidays. Even so, he still checked in religiously every morning with the answering service to make sure patients were being attended to. I marveled at his dedication. Hell, I looked up to it. I’d like to think it drove me to be as good and as solidly dedicated to my sport and at life.
With the Christmas holidays, football was over for me for the year. It was a good start. I didn’t play all that much, but some. The coaches were pleased with my efforts and it was clear that they were eyeing a solid quarterback presence between Kevin Lettau and me. So my first year at Mercy High panned out to be a good one.
“Not just a good one, you dork. I think you had a great first season there. Better than what you were getting at Tamalpais, that’s for sure,” Pietro commented as he poured himself another Mimosa during the family brunch our first Saturday in the City.
Mama eyed his going for a second glass of it but said nothing. Papa just smiled a wry smile that tabled anything she had brewing in her head as a reprimand over Petey’s indulgent inclinations, as he liked to call them. My brother could be such a character with his use of English. It was all those books he kept reading. Not that I didn’t enjoy reading myself, but at the pace my brother ran, I simply wasn’t in his league. Mostly because I just didn’t have the spare time with football training and such. I guess for the second half of the school year, I just might. I made a mental note to take in a bookstore while out enjoying the holiday festivities.
Mama turned her focus onto our cousin, Francesca.
“So are you planning on taking in the City shopping today?”
“Si, I’m dragging the boys with me in case they needed to pick up any last few gifts.”
“She means that she wants more presents and will spend the rest of the day hinting at us left and right,” Petey chimed in smiling devilishly as he sipped his drink.
Everyone sort of smiled along with Pietro at that.
“Can I help it if I like gifts?” was all that Frankie had to say on it.
An hour later we were meandering in Union Square in the heart of the city. I purchased a lovely platinum bracelet for Frankie that she kept toying with and eyeing me in particular while she kept playing with it on her wrist. Seriously, she couldn’t have been more blatant if she just reached into my back pocket, pulled my wallet out, handed them my card and signed it for me.
Even the salesman gifted me with a knowing smile as I completed the transaction.
Pietro scooped the both of us up, an arm around each of our shoulders as he escorted us out of Bulgari’s and back into the throng of last minute holiday shoppers.
“Seriously, cuz, I don’t know why you just don’t buy things yourself, charge them to Papa and sign our names on them.”
She stopped and tilted her head slightly, and Petey and I turned to face her, leaving people to wander around our little family scene.
“You make it sound as if this is something new.”
Petey released his arm around me and walked up to her and placed his hands on either side of her face, “I know it’s not. It’s …”
“… Tradition,” the three of us completed in unison.
“It wouldn’t be the holidays if we did it any other way,” she continued and then pecked Pietro on the nose and moved on leaving him standing there, hands on his hips as she took the bag from my hand, slipped it into her purse and scooped me along with her leaving my brother to play catch up.
“Ya know, for a girl in four inch heels, you sure can walk fast,” Pietro exclaimed as he came up behind us.
“Can I help it if I love to shop? A girl has to have her priorities.”
We all laughed and moved further into the crowd in the middle of the square with an eye to Neiman Marcus at the bottom of it.
Two hours and several purchases later, we found ourselves tucked into an early dinner at One Market near the wharf. It was a favorite of Frankie’s, mostly because there was a rather studly waiter that tended to dote on her whenever we came into town.
We discovered Giuseppe working his section and her eyes widened just the tiniest bit as soon as she spied him moving from the guests he’d just taken their orders from when he caught Frankie standing there at the entrance. He swooped by, gave her a friendly hug, shook our hands in a manly shake, and then informed the hostess to seat us in his section before scurrying off to get his order in for that large table of guests.
I watched as he moved off. He was definitely a looker. Dark and ruggedly handsome. Frankie tended to like dark and handsome men. She had a penchant for it. The thing was, blond men were attracted to her for the same reason and she couldn’t be bothered with the blond white boys. The Nordic looking boys loved her mystique, and Frankie seemed to exude a lot of it if you didn’t know her. Actually, come to think of it, she had it no matter if you knew her or not. She was just that sort of woman. You think you’d have her pegged and she’d up and surprise you every time. I kind of liked that about my cousin. She was sexy confident without being a righteous bitch. A Roman goddess in that way that Italian women could be if they had that it factor – Frankie had it in spades.
Giuseppe was a finely built man of about twenty-five or so, by my guess, and was about six foot four – Frankie liked her men tall and muscular. Our waiter had both in abundance. His hair was the dark blue-black of a Tuscan man, but was kept longish and slicked back into a wet look that came just above his broad shoulders. The guy was stacked like a brick shit-house with his crisp button-down white shirt barely keeping him contained, pulling taut to the point of ripping as he moved bout his job. His swarthy good looks could easily be mistaken for a hardened man out of prison. He had a colorful tatted sleeve that ran up his arm and onto his broad shoulder that you could just make out under the shirt. Despite his bad boy look, he was extremely warm and inviting to talk with.
Frankie indulged herself and flirted openly with him in Italian. He gave as good as she did.
When we left, I couldn’t help but prod that little tiger.
“So, you two ever?”
“Oh yeah. When he found himself between boyfriends, no less.”
That stopped Petey and me cold on the sidewalk and she turned to us as if what she said had very little significance.
“Wait a minute, wait a minute. He’s gay?” Petey asked with no fair amount of incredulity to it.
“Not with me he’s not,” she gifted us with the wickedest smirk, blossoming into a salacious gaze that she alone could muster – which was quite a lot – and turned to move on leaving us to give chase.
Pietro chuckled and looked at me. I shook my head in disbelief but knew that was just how Frankie rolled.
The holiday went like that with shopping, dining, museum and theater that dotted our calendar from the weekend before the Christmas holiday through to the New Year’s celebration. We did it all, and it was filled with a whole lot of love and laughter – a great holiday break for all of us. And nearly every day, for prolonged periods in those days, my mind never stopped wondering what he was up to.
He could be on the other side of the planet for the holiday, or he could be stuck in Mercy. Either way, despite how much fun I appeared to have with my family, I sort of wanted to be wherever he was.
And that, when I would look back on it much later, was the beginning of it all – the adventure of a lifetime that somehow I knew that boy back in Mercy would bring to me.
I wanted it. Desperately.
Even if I couldn’t really look at it.
Even if he really didn’t see it.
What did that say about me?
The school year progressed much like my freshman year at Tamalpais had. I made some new friends that extended beyond the team and cheerleaders. I did my best as a second string quarterback under the tutelage of the first string quarterback, Kevin Lettau, who sort of took me on as his wingman. We became rather good friends even if I think he thought I nipped at his heels every now and then. He shrugged it off; so did I. It promoted sportsman-like competition in us both to be our very best.
Yet, the differences between life in America and my idyllic life in Italy couldn’t be more diverse if they tried. It was something that kept revisiting itself time and again. I may be American by birth, but I had been educated and groomed as a European, and more specifically, an Italian. It’s how I saw my world, through family, single-minded determination, and passion in everything we do. Pride in that didn’t begin to cover it. I didn’t shirk from it, I embraced the fuck out of it.
My world became firmly entrenched in the spotlight of the students of Mercy High. Within the span of a few months from the start of the school year, my various social media following had grown exponentially. I posted some on my YouTube channel, I talked about things that interested me, shit that bugged the crap out of me, ya know, what other YouTubers were doing.
I knew part of the reason for my social media reach came from my good looks. I didn’t want to trade on that, that aspect of life is fleeting in the long run, I knew that. But I knew how it all worked. My Instagram profile of my workout pics started to escalate as well. I posted them as a direct response to my teammates who were doing the same – egging each other on to do better and produce the cuts and muscle that would say we’d arrived in the realm of male dominated sports. Well, my follows on Instagram caught fire mid-sophomore year and by the end of the winter holidays I was pushing well over 100K. Me, a local northern Cali boy, who’d’ve thought?
“Of course you would, you fucktard,” Pietro would smirk and roll his eyes at my not wanting to embrace what life had gifted us so generously. Our looks, our personalities, our winning charms that broadcast twenty-four/seven whether we wanted them to or not. “You’ve got my blisteringly gorgeous looks. I’m the master, you’re the copy. They just don’t know I exist and that’s how you lucked out there, bro.”
I flipped him the bird over our Skype chat one night after school had started for the spring semester. He snickered at my response.
“Yeah, but they don’t know that. So in their eyes, I’m the master and you’re the copy. Doesn’t matter if you popped outta mom first, I’ll just claim you were underdone whereas I came out perfectly timed. I booted your lazy ass out first.” I chuckled.
It was a brotherly game Petey and I often played with one another. We liked the heavy teasing. Nothing said he loved me more than to bag hard on my ass.
The students from nearly every walk of school life were interacting with me online and in person. The general consensus, from what I could tell, demonstrated that most of the students considered me thoughtful and responsive. I treated everyone with respect equally, and got along with students from every facet of the school spectrum.
I guess I became a big breath of Italian fresh air for them. I broke barriers there. Amongst the other jocks I was somewhat of an anomaly, not like the other jocks and cheerleaders. I wasn’t aloof; and more importantly, I wasn’t a dick. I made sure people thought I was nice and approachable. This wasn’t me putting it out there just to add to the bragging rights, this is what came back to me from those I interacted and slowly became friends with over time.
I had a wicked sense of humor and often employed it whenever I thought it would be well received. Okay, sometimes I just did it to be a bit wicked, period. From the way people reacted to me, this often extended to those around town. From an early age, I knew I was born to be in the spotlight. I just knew it. No terrifying nerves for me to perform under that level of scrutiny, no matter the size of the stage, or the stadium. I was more than cool with that.
Hell, I was good at it.
But, here came the gentle rub, as they say: I didn’t buy into my own shit, remember? My brother and cousin wouldn’t allow it.
The only oddball part to it all, the one the other kids at school didn’t get about me: I didn't do the dating thing. I avoided it at all costs. It was just easier not to deal with it all. Head down and in the game – that was my motto. Mom and Dad seemed to be okay with it. They sort of liked that I didn't bother with girls this time around. Little did they know about my growing desire for anything associated with a certain quiet artistic boy at school. That flew totally under everyone’s radar. Both a blessing and a curse.
I hung out with some of the cheerleaders but never so much as to be officially attached to any of them. It was cool and all. I got social enough with them, maybe kissed a few – whatever. It didn't mean anything. I mean, I'm a teenager – it's supposed to be about the experimentation. But I made it clear I didn't want any sort of attachments, totally down with doing the whole solo thing.
Somewhere along the way I got the term stag put on me because of it. I didn’t care. Big strong stud fuck of a deer with a massive rack of horns? Bring it. I was down with that image. Even toyed with having that tattooed on my chest just to embrace it’s strong presence. A totem, as it were. But I ultimately decided against it. Probably because I couldn’t escape the imagine of what it would look like on me at the ripe old age of seventy. Just wouldn’t have the same meaning then. So I passed on the idea.
Even at social events that the team and their girlfriends came to, I went stag. It was just easier. I did begin to strike up a solid friendship with Sally – the co-captain of the cheer squad, though mostly because she was a constant thorn in Cindy's side. Just my way of keeping Cindy off my tail. It seemed to work, so I did everything I could not to break it.
Every day I found some way to chat up the boy who had the locker next to me. He begrudgingly would mumble something my way, but I also never failed to notice how he drank me in. This kid, despite his hard-assed nature about me, seemed intrigued that I would occasionally try to chat him up. I never did more than a simple pleasantry, a hey - howzit goin’ sort of thing. He’d respond in some manner as he yanked on that damned lock that never seemed to cut him some slack.
Eventually, by early spring, he’d gotten used to me enough that I’d even gained his combination and he’d smile just the tiniest bit while I opened his locker for him. Others watched us occasionally, whispering how the big jock on campus was paying the gay kid some real notice.
I didn’t know how I felt about all of that, so I just chose to ignore it. This seemed to work for the most part.
Mostly. Until …
“Ya know, people are talkin’ about your bein’ so chatty with the local fag boy,” Beau said nonchalantly as he was slipping back into his street clothes after practice one afternoon toward the end of our season.
“And what if they are?”
He shrugged but I could see the tiniest bit of disdain for my rather dismissive response.
“Your social funeral, bro. Whatever.”
“Yeah, uh, whatever. C’mon Beau, he’s a human being for fuck sake. Same as any other. So what if he likes guys? It’s nothing on you … or is it? That’s the question I’d like to have answered from any of y’all on the team and yet, none of you can give me an answer to that.”
“Shit – he better not bring that shit my direction or I’ll pummel the fuck outta that faggot.”
“Wow, nice to see how fucking homophobic you are. That’s really your measure of what makes a man? Buying into cheerleader horse shit much lately? Sounds like there’s a big time fear factor going on there. Somethin’ you wanna tell me, Beau?”
He became stunned at my pointed question but chose to ignore it and press his point instead.
“So you’re tellin’ me that if he tries to put the make on you, you won’t go all freaky on him, too?”
“I won’t go all thug-assed on him, if that's what you're askin'. And how do you know he’d be into you anyway? Self-absorbed much? And hey, here’s a news flash: I am confident in myself that no one – I don’t care who they are – is gonna shake who I am. Are you so weak that whatever he brings to the table freaks you the fuck out and you’ll lose your shit over it?”
He watched me for a second.
I shrugged and went back to tying my shoes.
“Just something to consider bro. Back in Italy we’re more concerned with our own shit, not so much with others around us. Don’t know, maybe that gives me a different perspective. But I choose to focus on me and not so much about those around me. I treat people with respect and I’ve found, generally, they seem to give me the same. Just sayin’.”
He slammed the door to his locker and picked up his backpack, “Whatever, Sforza. I guess I’ll aspire to learn from it.”
He said it sarcastically enough that I knew that he wasn’t going to do anything of the sort. Guys like him were fucktards for life about that shit. I could only hope that he didn’t end up with a gay kid of his own, though given the randomness of karma, it wasn’t too far out of the realm of possibilities that it might happen. The universe tended to fuck with you like that. I felt my brows furrow over that potential massive fucked up moment in Beau’s future.
So yeah, I began to see the disparity that I knew existed between acceptance and intolerance here in the States but hadn’t experienced it face to face before. I needed to remind myself that this wasn’t Italy. The guys here seemed to be preoccupied with what was perceived as gay or not, almost an obsession with it. While it wasn’t totally accepted in Italy, it wasn’t the focus of our attention, either. So what I told Beau wasn’t off the mark.
I’d lived through this before. It wasn’t such a remote thing for me to deal with. I’d dealt with it directly back in Torino. I’d had my own exposure to it and learned firsthand how that sort of homophobia and misunderstanding could take something that was so honest and sincere and turn it ugly.
But nobody here knew that.
It was private thing from my past and I had no intention to divulge that. They wouldn’t understand it. They simply didn’t have the capacity for that sort of compassion. I wasn’t so stupid to think otherwise. I always found it peculiar that American males tended to laugh about the machismo that permeated Italian culture, how they practically lauded the male mafia mystique and held it up as the epitome of what it was to be a man. When all it really demonstrated that they saw masculine achievement at the, often violent, put down and oppression of those perceived as weaker. Sexually insecure men much?
Asshats, that’s what they were.
Beau had just proved my point. And even though the whole bromance thing was the new catch phrase, it still carried limitations. In Italy you would always see men being affectionate with one another. It meant nothing other than camaraderie and warmth for a fellow brother. It didn’t have to have any sexuality associated with it. No one thought anything of it. That didn’t mean that there wasn’t homophobia there, too. It existed everywhere. It’s just that in Italy there wasn’t this automatic assumption about when you saw two men being affectionate with one another that it was anything other than genuine affection for someone you considered close and important in your life.
But this isn’t Italy. I had to keep reminding myself of that.
So head down, eye to the game. I kept things confined to my life that was football.
But there was that boy at locker 267, right next to mine, the boy who kept jerking the lock and berating it but never going so far to replace it.
What did that say about what went on between us?
I’d ask him about his day sometimes as I worked his lock for him, gently opening it each time on the first attempt I made. He’d politely answer my questions with short, if slightly non-committal, answers. I came to believe that after the first couple of times he realized I wasn’t going to just break into his stuff and mess with him so he relented and accepted my help with slightly less of a grudge about it. After he passed judgement on the sincerity of my being nice to him, he seemed to ease up the tiniest bit.
I’d like to think that we’d built a trust – however tenuous and fleeting – between us. We couldn’t say we connected a lot. Just every now and then. Once or twice I saw him heading to our lockers only to turn and change course and wait until I’d finished my shit before he’d move in to do his. I’d stand off at the end of the hall chatting up some cheerleader or teammate but keeping an eye to him and his constant battle with the padlock that just wouldn’t give him a break. Once or twice he’d spy me watching him, a small smirk would break across his face. I’d mouth the word slow to him and he’d sigh and try it one more time and it would work, bringing a smile to my face while he shook his head and grabbed his shit.
I don’t know why I was so captivated by him, I just was. I couldn’t claim that we’d even become friends, despite how much I wanted us to be like that. I didn’t even know him all that well. He was always referred to as the gay kid everywhere he went. I learned early on that his name was Elliot Donahey, even if I didn’t ever let on that I knew. I kept a respectable distance between us. I did it as much for him as I did for myself.
I just knew how dangerous his association with me might be. So I kept it respectable, slightly at arm’s length. I think that is what ultimately made our interactions bearable for him. I didn’t push and neither did he.
The trouble with that? I couldn’t stop looking. And it was worse after the winter break. No matter where I saw him, he never failed to keep my gaze riveted to him. I’d already started to follow him around, discreetly, from a distance. I did it casually, but consistent enough that I knew I had something fundamentally shifting in my own world. Elliot Donahey captured my imagination unlike anything else.
By the spring of my sophomore year, when the season was over and I had little but my daily workouts to apply my focus, I realized how much this boy had occupied my thoughts. This came back to haunt me in the form of my personal video posts I’d done on my phone throughout the year. It was something that my dad had suggested that I do to keep an overall record of my thoughts and ideas so I could have a history of the work I was putting into my football career. He’d suggested that I write in a journal – you know, in that old-fashioned sort of way – handwritten.
But that wasn’t me. As a child of the internet age and social media, I vlogged. I withheld some of them, because they strayed where I didn’t want the world to know about me. The videos I kept to myself varied on topics, but it was evident that a common thread through out them persisted:
Elliot had that stupid fight with the padlock again, Jesus, I should just buy him a new one for Christmas…
Elliot wore that cool Star Wars shirt again. I almost asked him where he got it…
Elliot’s an artist, I guess … he keeps drawing stuff during lunch.
In nearly every entry on my phone, or on my computer, his name would weave its way in those posts – ever present and pervasive. I knew as I recorded them I mentioned him from time to time; I couldn’t claim ignorance of the fact. Yet, on one late night this all came rolling back to me.
Having little to do since my homework was completed, I was bored and began scrolling through those posts I’d held back but kept on my own devices, and I revisited how Elliot was mentioned at least once, if not more. There was no mistaking the voracity or the pervasive nature he had on my thoughts. I couldn’t dispel it if I tried. The thing is, I found I didn’t want to either.
A few I even listened to over and over – consumed with why I felt it so important to talk about him.
By the time summer rolled around I found myself fascinated with how much I’d started to gravitate to him. I overheard him talking to Kevin’s younger brother, who seemed to be Elliot’s only friend on campus, that he was gonna spend part of his vacation with his father’s sister in Arizona. So I knew that I wouldn’t see much of him over the summer vacation which I found myself sort of fantasizing about. Not in a weird sexual way, but just because I knew that my chances of really getting to know him would only happen away from the confines of school and the narrow minds of the kids who went there.
It was a shitty attitude to take, but I wasn’t so stupid to think that my jock status would give me that much carte blanc to cut through the whole jock and gay boy thing that would remotely assist us in becoming friends.
I did find out that Kevin’s younger brother, Greg, was the only friend the guy had at school – or anywhere for that matter. I made it a point to start talking to Greg a bit more to see what I could find out about him.
At lunchtime, I’d often see him making his way out to the stadium. He spent PE usually wherever everyone else wasn’t. He loved solitude. It was the complete opposite of my world. I was intrigued by him. What must his life be like to have that need to hide so much from the world you move in?
I didn’t have an answer to that. But I wanted nothing more than to immerse myself in his world and find out for myself. Only trouble that I could see? I just didn’t see a path short of throwing myself bodily into it that would accomplish that task. And I knew where that would end.
Too soon. He’d never allow it.
So yeah, it all came down to patience and timing with Elliot.
And it sucked.
Here is the thing about the spring semester: it was the point where I began the slow and arduous crawl to get closer to Elliot.
And it all began with our having PE together in third period.
He opted for track that semester. I could understand why. It allowed him to be alone, to work out alone. For a guy like him that was infinitely safer. And that pissed me the fuck off. I don’t know why I allowed it to consume me as much as it did, but that’s how it played out.
Then something amazing occurred to me, and it happened about a week into the semester. I discovered that first Thursday morning that Elliot always chose the second row of shower stalls and always the one nearest the far corner of the building. There were enough guys to take up the rest of the showers, but we ran a few short and those in that far back corner were usually empty. I knew that was why Elliot went there, and I got it.
So that first Thursday of the semester while I was playing soccer on the field as he ran laps, I resolved to make my move. When the period was called so we could hit the showers, I made my way to the locker room as quickly as I could. Elliot ended up on the far side of the track so I knew he’d be bringing up the rear. He usually did anyway. Lunch was next on the day’s schedule so he could afford to be a little behind with how he spent his shower time.
So I quickly stripped, chatting with the guys in our usual way, though not letting the conversations eat up too much time because I didn’t have a whole lot to spare. Which thankfully worked out because guys at our age had no problem being naked in front of one another so long as everyone thought you were on the straight and narrow, so that friendly banter could’ve eaten up way more time than I wanted before I could make a beeline to the shower stalls that I knew Elliot favored.
To be honest, I really didn’t know what I was planning. That first Thursday I guess it was just to see if he’d acknowledge me, or at the very least see if the whole naked package that was me was appealing to him or not.
I hung the towel on the hook between the stalls and slipped in to get started. About thirty seconds or so into it, he arrived and took his usual stall across from where I was but one over so his line of sight to me was slightly askew.
At first I don’t think he saw that I was the guy facing him. I have to admit, seeing him completely naked did a number on me. I seriously had to fight crossing that small walkway between us and joining him there. Jesus, did his lithe, toned, bisque white body pull upon me. He was beyond stunning to look at. While not quite my height and stature, he had the body of a very toned dancer or swimmer – exactly as I’d imagined it countless times over.
The contrast between his blue-black hair that hung over half his face, and the glow from his flawless skin was quite mesmerizing. I had to keep reminding myself to play it cool and above all, not pop any wood while I checked him out. That was a struggle in and of itself, but somehow I managed.
When he finally turned after dousing himself under the shower spray, his eyes opened up and he saw me in full-on lather mode. I made sure to bring that liquid soap from Torino that Pietro loved. My brother bought me a whole case of it for Christmas. The smell was so manly, woodsy, that I was sure Elliot could pick it up from his side of the showers. He froze on the spot, if only briefly. Even he knew better than to outright stare. Yet, for a moment, he almost didn’t know what to do and I knew I had him.
I just pretended not to notice and continued bathing myself, letting my hands move over my very muscular and sculpted body. I made sure to pay a particularly long time on my junk to see if he was truly hooked, I turned slowly around to rinse and ran my hands between my ass cheeks and bent over slightly to give him a real show, but careful to ensure that it looked completely normal. The guys all knew I was heavily into grooming and looking my best at all times so the extra attention to body parts wasn’t all that uncommon for me. I just wouldn’t make the mistake of doing anything too wild beyond that. But a small glance over my shoulder with my backside to him spied him just standing there, under the shower, his eyes wide, drinking every part of me in. He stopped all pretense of washing himself. He just stood there, amazed, enraptured, caught in my little flirtatious spell. I so fucking had him that for a moment blood flushed to the surface of my skin. I shuddered the tiniest bit at my bathing victory, though I was careful to clamp down on it before it got too far out of hand.
I turned back around to fully rinse and in seeing him watch me, I nodded and smiled softly. I made damned sure he saw no animosity in my gaze back to him. I nudged my chin up the tiniest bit the way guys do when they silently acknowledge each other, and that seemed to snap him out of his hypnotic state. He gave me a small smile and quickly turned around. I saw his body spasm the tiniest bit, as if his stomach muscles tightened uncontrollably for a moment or two.
Did I just make him cum? Even a little? My mind raced with that wicked thought alone, nearly bringing my bone to life.
Old ladies trying to look young, road kill, Baby’s used diapers … I had to mentally scramble to the most non-erotic things I could think of just to keep the python down.
But that other part, the one that relished victory of any kind was doing his full-on happy dance. I felt the most incredible warmth spread through me. He was more than interested in me!
Yet, I knew it for what it was. While he definitely liked what he saw, I also knew he was frightened of what it would mean. On one hand that revelation was intoxicating, on the other, completely debilitating. So while I had an answer of sorts, it only served to complicate matters greatly.
And the trouble was, I didn’t have a way to bridge that gap, mostly because I knew Elliot would probably stall any attempt I made.
But those showers that semester … they became the bright spot in my day. Where I’d see him for who he was, and I’d spend great amounts of time titillating him as quietly as I could. There’d be days where he would resolve to not notice. But even in those, I saw he always had one point where he’d literally stare at me. I always did him the courtesy of half-lidding my eyes, and with my extra long and thick lashes, it gave him the appearance that I wasn’t looking when I totally had him in my sights.
I wanted him to look.
I wanted him to want to look.
But it was more than that. I craved that he wanted to look at my body and it isn’t lost on me how that sounds. Like somehow I wanted whatever we were sharing to be based on physical adoration. But it nothing could be further than the truth. Sure I wanted him to desire me. We all want that. But where I departed from that simple request of a potential lover, I desired more than anything that he’d see me, the real me, naked to the world and completely unafraid to show him all of me. I wanted him to embrace and want to protect the most vulnerable part of me. The part that I’d show only to him.
Inwardly, some quiet part of me secretly begged him to take charge, to walk over and force his way into my stall and claim what was rightfully his.
Jesus, I this was surely madness. Just that I allowed all of this to take place, that I wanted it to take place was a mind blowing experience. But I ran towards those tough things, right?
Part of me wrestled with that. Part of me, still so raw from my hellish first flirtation with love back in Torino, didn’t want to accept what was happening with Elliot.
Elliot’s mine. El’s mine.
And I knew, in my heart of hearts, no matter how long I had to wait for him to accept it, he would be mine. And I knew I would surrender everything to him. He would become my master. He alone could command me to do whatever he wanted. And that, was the most terrifying prospect of all. I spent a great many nights just pondering if I was truly committed to it.
Inwardly, I knew the answer, even if I couldn’t yet voice it in my own head.
He just needed to see that for himself. So I waited. I played my little flirtatious game in the showers. I kept occasionally chatting him up at his locker. I would give him a nod or a chin-up acknowledgement in the halls, amid whispers that the up-n-coming quarterback was paying the gay kid some massive attention on campus. I didn’t care. I’d already more than established I didn’t care what others said. I sort of flew above it all.
I bided my time. I let spring move into summer as graduation approached. By the end of the school year, my daily ritual cleansing in front of Elliot had done what I’d set out to do. In being that open and available to him, I think he got it. Whether he wanted to let it in or not, I think he realized on some level that I would hide nothing from him.
I hoped he got that.
I let myself be open and vulnerable with him. He fought it. He pressed back in his own quiet way. So I waited and watched, letting him come to it all in his own meandering and, at times, obtuse way.
To say it was deeply frustrating wouldn’t begin to cover it.
Nonno Sforza’s words kept chiming in my head – patience and timing. I knew I’d wait for him to realize it, no matter how long that might take.
By the time summer vacation was about to begin, I remember being very down in spirits because I knew Elliot and I probably wouldn’t share locker space as we had this year. Lockers were rotated according to your class, so we’d all get shuffled again for our Junior year.
He seemed to sense that something was bothering me though I wasn’t sure if he realized that he was the cause of it.
On the last hour of our school year we happened to be next to each other as we cleared out our lockers. He smirked whenever he caught my eye and I gave him as warm a smile as I could with others still lingering about.
Eyes and ears. Mercy was full of them.
We both wrapped it up around the same time.
“Well, uh, have a nice summer,” he offered. “And, um, thanks.”
“For not being a douche. For being a decent guy, I guess. For helping me with this.” He held up his meddlesome padlock as evidence.
I took mine off the locker and took his hand in mine, turning it and placed my lock in his hand.
“Here, have mine. The combo is easy. Six, twenty, twelve. The month and year we graduate. It has never failed me on opening so maybe you should just retire your bothersome one and use mine next year. Okay?”
“Uh, you ain’t gotta do that.”
“I know. I can always get another. I just kinda like that you’ll have mine for next year, since the odds of our having lockers near each other are going to be slim, I won’t always be there to help you out. I wouldn’t want you to be late to class.”
The halls had pretty much cleared out. There was just a nerdy girl way down the hall grabbing the last of her stuff. A moment later while Elliot pondered my offering, she was gone, leaving us alone. We were the last guys on campus at the end of the year.
He looked up from under his bangs, one sky blue brilliant eye that tore through me like rice paper, caught my focused gaze looking back at him. He sort of bit his lower lip as he considered my offering.
I reached out and gently took his backpack from his shoulder. He pulled back slightly at my touch, but the many months over this past school year had given him some degree of trust between us so he allowed me to do this. I smiled softly. Most of the corridor was dark as the hall lights were now turned down, our lockers happened to be in a cross tunnel between the two main educational buildings so there was a skylight directly above us. It’s diffused light cast us both in a soft glow.
He allowed the backpack to fall to the floor beside him. I took his hand with the lock and reached for his other hand.
“Go on, give it a try. I whispered to it that it better treat you right or there’d be trouble.”
He smirked and gave me a small eye roll for my goofy story.
I released his hands and nudged my chin as I crossed my arms over my chest.
“It’s not necessary.”
“Go on, I want to make sure.”
Whether he did it to appease me so he could make a quick getaway shortly thereafter or not, I wasn’t sure. So he tried it. The lock opened on his first try.
“See? You’ll always be able to get past my lock every time you try.”
I knew it was cheesy sounding as all fuck, but for some reason I really thought he’d see what I tried like hell to tell him all year long.
He bit his lower lip. That singular move made my jeans grow a bit tighter.
Down boy, now’s not the time.
“Really, Els. Take it. I’d feel better about it. And you wouldn’t want to ruin my summer with worrying about how you’ll get by next year, would ya?”
“Um,” he glanced around and noticed we were completely alone, “no … I don’t. I mean, I wouldn’t. Jesus, Marco. You don’t make this easy, do you?”
“The things we want most often aren’t easy. Sometimes the work makes their achievement so much sweeter.” His eyes looked up from under his bangs to find my gaze completely riveted to him. I needed to defuse those loaded words. He was beginning to see what I was truly saying and I could tell that while he might secretly want it, it was too soon to push him down that path.
“Well, that’s what they tell me in football practice, anyway. I’ve found that they’ve often been right.”
I wanted to run my hands through his hair. I wanted to see both piercing blue eyes watch me. I wanted to kiss …
I stopped. Something in what I wanted was too plain upon my face. His eyes widened the tiniest bit. I’d gone a step too far.
“Well, have a good summer, eh?”
He swallowed what appeared to be the biggest lump he’d probably ever had in his throat, and nodded.
“Yeah, uh, you – you, too.”
I patted his shoulder, the sensation of his body in my grasp was very hard to fight. I wanted nothing more than to spin him around and pin him against the locker and …
And I left him there, watching me retreat.
I didn’t look back once I reached the door. But I did wait along side the building for him to exit and meet his father at his truck along the pickup point for underclassmen before I left. I couldn’t leave until I knew he was safe.
I watched them leave the lot, knowing that I probably wouldn’t see him at all this summer. I recalled Greg saying to his brother that Els was going to Arizona to see some relative out there. That was sort of okay as I had a football camp coming up that was going to eat up a good portion of my vacation at any rate. Then there was the trip I was going to take with Frankie and Pietro back to Torino for a few weeks before school would begin. So I had my own fish to fry this summer that would keep me fairly busy.
Some alone time would be good, I thought as I made my way to the family Audi. My car was the only one in the parking lot when I left.
During my drive home, I let my mind wander over those last moments I had with Elliot. We were alone. Just him and me. And there was something inside that said it was so right to feel what I was feeling. The one thing that became so clear I could hear it ring inside was that I knew, if I could have him, I’d be willing to give up everything else. I’d walk away from the world and all of its treasures if he’d say he would be mine.
Didn’t make that progression any easier to get what I wanted. But I knew I’d wait an eternity until he saw it for himself.
As the warm summer air moved about my hair as I drove home, I kept rubbing my right index finger and thumb together. As if some small part of me tingled from touching his hand in mine when I handed him my lock.
“He has the lock to my heart …” Then I chuckled, “Okay, that’s too gay, even for me.”