Thursday lunch time Brandon caught me, he wanted to know if I could come back to his house after school because he needed to talk about things. Jonathan would pick us up. I told him I needed to check first, but it should be okay.
I called home and mum picked up. "Hello mum. I'm just calling to ask if it's alright for me to go to Brandon's after school."
"Yes, it's fine Alex. Will you be back home for supper?"
"No mum, a bit later, I'm eating there."
"Not too late, Alex."
"No mum, not too late, bye." I ended the call.
I saw Brandon going into the science lab and told him it was set for tonight. During afternoon lessons I was thinking about Matty and decided I should let him know what was going on. I didn't want any more secrets between us; I needed to win back his trust. In between lessons I sent him a message, to tell him Jonathan was going to pick me up. We were going to Brandon's because they wanted to talk and I would call him when I got home.
Brandon and I had the same last class so when the bell rang we packed up and walked to the carpark together. Jonathan was waiting. He had a little red mini cooper, two door coupé. It had a sticker in the bottom of the rear window, 'Kiss FM' and on the other side a white oval with 'GB' in black letters. When he saw us arriving, he got out of the car.
"Hello, Alex. Glad you could make it." He moved the back of his seat forward so I could squeeze into the back; I threw my bag in first. Brandon went around to the passenger side and Jonathan fixed back the driver's seat and got in.
"Is everything okay?" I asked Jonathan, talking to the back of his head.
"Yes, Alex, it's fine. I just wanted to have a chat and Brandon suggested we talk at his house."
He started the engine, drove out of the school carpark and up to the main road, taking the opposite direction to my way home. Brandon turned the radio on and we listened to music as we navigated through the early evening traffic towards Brandon's house. It was not very busy at this time and about twenty minutes or so later we were entering the tree lined street leading to Brandon’s house. It was impressive compared to where I lived, mainly because all the houses were large and detached, standing on their own sizeable plots.
Jonathan turned into the drive and pulled up in front of the garage. We tumbled out and walked across to the front door. Once inside we went first into the lounge where we were greeted by Mrs Mc Cauley, Brandon's mum.
"Hello Mrs Mc Cauley," I smiled.
"Hello Alex," she replied then looked to Jonathan and Brandon. "Hello boys." She turned back to me and smiled. "You'll be staying for tea now won't you, Alex?" She asked the question in such a way that the only reply could be yes.
"Thank you, Mrs Mc Cauley."
Before I could say anything more she posed another question, "And how's your mother, Alex?" Again there was only one possible reply.
"Oh, she's very well, thank you."
I noticed all this time neither Brandon nor Jonathan said a word. It suddenly occurred to me, I have no idea why, but I wondered if Brandon's mum knew Jonathan was gay. The niceties over, Brandon said we would go to his room until tea was ready. Back out to the hall and up the large, quite grand, staircase to the first floor. Along the hall to the back of the house and Brandon opened the door to his bedroom. It must have been twice the size of my own room. He had a huge bed, a large sofa and a leather armchair, desk with his computer, plus his own huge television. Big bay windows with heavy curtains looked out over the rear garden which was huge with an old oak tree off to one side.
We each found a place; Brandon on his bed, Jonathan the leather armchair, and I took the sofa. "Do you want something to drink?" Brandon asked. It was then, looking around his bedroom I noticed he also had a fridge.
"A coke. If you've got one, please."
"The same, Brandon," Jonathan added.
Brandon got up and fetched two cans of coke. He didn't bother about glasses.
"Class, Brandon!" Jonathan smiled at him whilst taking the can.
"I suppose you wanted a tall glass with ice and lemon and a little coloured umbrella in it?"
"Now that I need to see you do some time." Jonathan retorted.
I was thinking they must be very good friends, it's obvious by the way they are so easy in each others company. I wondered what it was they wanted to tell me.
"So what's the big deal? What is it you want to say?"
Brandon glanced at Jonathan, "The other day Jonathan was at the school to pick me up, just like today, he was waiting in the carpark. He had fixed the rest of the watches and had them in the car to give to me. We drove out of the carpark, up the street and turned into the main road. Then there was a police car behind us, you know, flashing lights and everything. We stopped and the police came round to the car, asked who we were, our names, what we were doing."
Jonathan was sitting in the leather armchair sipping his coke, he didn't interrupt. Brandon carried on, "So they asked for Jonathan's driving licence, car insurance, all that stuff. I explained Jonathan was my cousin. They were very suspicious; it was like we were criminals. One of them asked what was in the box on the back seat and I told him Jonathan had picked up some watches for me which I bought on Ebay. I didn't say anything about him unblocking them."
I was thinking this is like a scene from one of those television programmes, real crimes, Matty will love this when I tell him.
Brandon was still explaining what happened, "So he checked inside the box, took a look at the watches. The other guy was back in the police car, on the radio I guess, confirming information. It all went on for quite awhile. Finally, they told us that we had been stopped because of criminal activities being investigated at the school, but we could go."
"They thought Jonathan was the drugs dealer?"
"Yeah of course," Brandon replied. "They must be watching the school."
Jonathan put his coke down and spoke for the first time. "I think I know the guy they are after. He's called Zippo. Not his real name of course."
I was surprised. How did Jonathan know the drugs dealer? "How do you know the guy selling drugs?" I was curious to find out.
"I said, I think I know who it is. I can't be certain, because I haven't seen him hanging around the school or anything. I suspect it's him because he used to sell drugs in one of the gay bars Jake and I go to. The last thing any bar or club owner wants is drugs being sold on the premises. They could lose their licence or get closed down. So the guy got banned and the bar owner probably told the police, because for a couple of weeks the police were quite often outside the bar." He paused and took a sip from his can of coke. "I think he's started selling around the schools because he got kicked out of the clubs and bars. It makes sense, but I don't have proof and anyway you need to be very careful when you talk to the police."
I wondered why you needed to be careful if it wasn't you who was the criminal, and at school they asked us to report anything we know.
"But Jonathan, at school they asked us to tell if we knew anything."
"Brandon doesn't want to say anything, do you?" He looked across at Brandon.
"No. I've got all these watches I want to sell. Anyway, you don't know for sure. It's just a guess."
"I don't want to get involved either," Jonathan said. "We're telling you as a friend, but you shouldn't repeat it, and definitely don't tell a teacher."
"But why not?"
"Like I said, you have to be very careful. Look, think about what could happen. You tell a teacher, the school informs the police. Next thing, you got the police round your house talking to your parents, asking you loads of questions."
"Yes, but that's kind of normal, isn't it?"
"Yes it's normal, but you don't really know anything so you end up explaining that I told you. Then you give my theory. So now you got the police thinking, gay clubs and bars. You got your parents thinking our sons involved in drugs, or maybe, what's he doing with Jonathan who's gay. Worse still, you blurt out Jake's name. Now it's not just that you know me who's gay, at least I'm related to Brandon, but you know Jake, another gay adult."
Now I'm thinking isn't he taking this a bit far? He's getting paranoid.
"Final nail in the coffin," Jonathan continues. "Because the police never let anything drop. Is, you are a schoolboy, aged fifteen in a relationship with Jake who's a twenty-one year old. That is suspicious, and if you are having sex, which you are, it's also illegal."
"Oh!" That's all I could say. I'd never thought about it like that. I would have preferred he never said all this. I still thought he was being a bit over the top. Never mind, there was no need to say anything to anybody, except I'd tell Matty, but I'd tell him to say nothing as well.
"You see what I'm saying?" Jonathan asked.
"You're not gonna say anything are you?" Brandon looked worried.
"No, of course not. I won't say anything if that's how you feel about it all."
"Good," Brandon seemed relieved.
"You should still be careful about things with Jake though." Jonathan was determined I understood about the underage thing, even if I didn't care about it.
"Yeah of course," I said, just to keep him happy. I was thinking to myself that he's being a bit of an old woman, or maybe he was trying to put me off seeing Jake, I don't know.
All three of us fell silent until Brandon looked at me and spoke, "Also... I wanted to tell you I'm sorry about landing you in it with Matty." He paused as if searching for the right words. "I had no idea you and him were..." Another brief silence. "That you and Matty were, uh, together, you know."
"What he's trying to tell you," Jonathan interrupted. "Is, he had no idea you and Matty were a couple, because had he known he would not have blurted out to him about Jake and you."
"What actually happened?" I wanted to know what took place when Brandon went to see Matty about the watches.
"I just wanted to make sure he didn't say anything to anyone, you know teachers." Brandon explained. "I needed to be sure. So I told him Jonathan, who he'd seen in the park, was my cousin, second cousin, that he was unblocking the watches, all that. Anyway, and I don't really know how it came up, but it became a topic of the conversation that Jonathan was gay."
I was imagining the scene and I could see how Matty could easily have mentioned that. It would be just like him with his hundreds of questions for people.
"So that sort of got things around to you, Alex. And I think I asked Matty how long he'd known you were gay."
"Brandon," Jonathan said. "For fuck sake, you don't think you asked him? You bloody well did."
"Yes alright. I asked him and he said not very long. Then I put my big foot in it and asked him how long he knew about Jake. What he thought about your relationship. Maybe it didn't click into place immediately, because he replied something like 'you mean what I think about Alex and Jake?' Then of course the coup de grâce, like an idiot I said yes, Alex sleeping with Jake who's like six years older than him."
He paused. There was silence again. "Go on," I prompted.
"He tried to hide his reaction, his emotions, but he couldn't. He was shocked, almost distraught. I think he was close to tears. There was like a terrible silent empty space in the room after I'd said that. Even I'm not so stupid to not realise that he knew nothing about you and Jake. But more than that, he reacted to the news not with the surprise of a best friend finding out, but like someone in a couple who just discovered the other person was cheating on them. I knew then that Matty was gay. He didn't need to tell me. Either he had a secret crush on you, and was devastated to find out you had a lover, or you were seeing him and Jake both."
I felt ashamed, terribly guilty, and sad. Brandon hadn't finished yet. "When I talked to Jonathan, it became pretty clear you were cheating on Matty, but I wasn't sure at the time. I was very sorry for him. He made some kind of lame excuse to go. I was certain he wanted to get away somewhere alone and then he would burst into tears."
After listening to this I felt the tears starting to well up inside me. I asked myself how I could be so cruel. I imagined Matty hiding away somewhere sobbing his heart out over me. What a fucking bastard I am. I wanted to go and find Matty right now. To put my arms around him and hug him close to me and never ever let him go. It was all clear now. When he said he needed to see me and he came around to my house he had all his emotions pent up inside of him. All his fear of losing me. Although god only knows how a selfish pig like me deserves his love. So when he put his arms around me and held me, he was holding me hoping that he wouldn't lose the person he loved. When he asked me if we were okay, he was desperately seeking reassurance that it wasn't over.
I was crying now. It was just too much. How could you meet the love of your life and hurt him so bad? Jonathan stood up and came over. He put his arms around me and held me. I didn't deserve his sympathy and caring. Whilst I was sobbing uncontrollably in Jonathan's arms, Brandon did something quite unexpected. He called Matty and told him what was going on. Told him how, when he explained about what had happened the day when he had discovered about Jake, I had burst into tears.
I was still crying when Brandon came over holding his phone. "Alex, Matty is on the phone."
He handed the phone to me, "Matty," I said and started crying again.
Matty spoke and I listened through my sobbing. "Alex, I love you..."
"Matty," I sobbed. "I'm so very sorry to have hurt you." More tears, more crying. "I love you and I want so much to hold you and hug you." The tears were just rolling down my face, "I need you. I know how much it must have hurt. I can't stop crying thinking about when you found out, all alone. Matty, please forgive me."
"It's okay, Alex. It's okay."
Brandon took the phone from me and spoke to Matty. "He'll be alright, Matty. I wanted you to hear him, because in a way this all happened because of me. It's obvious he genuinely loves you; you don't need to be here to know that. Listen he's staying for tea, then Jonathan will take him home and he can call you later."
I slowly recovered. I was a bit embarrassed really.
"Use the bathroom to clean up," Brandon told me. "There's a clean towel next to the sink."
Jonathan took me into the bathroom and stood there silently watching as I splashed water on my face. When I picked up the towel and turned off the tap I looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror.
"You're very lucky to have someone like Matty," he turned and left me alone drying my face.
When I first met Brandon I thought of him as a macho rugby playing arsehole, but he isn't that at all. He is a sensitive, caring guy, and actually a good friend. It's amazing how you can judge people without ever knowing them and be so completely wrong.
We all had tea together at Brandon's before Jonathan drove me home. He was a really nice guy as well. As I got out of the car I said to him, "Thanks Jonathan, thanks for everything." He smiled before driving away and I thought it's a shame he doesn't have a boyfriend.
Back in my bedroom I picked up the phone and called Matty. We talked for ages, I told him the whole story about the police. Then we just talked about everything and nothing. I told him how selfish I was, that I realised that now. I wished we were together and it was hard not being there right next to him, but what could we do?