During sixth period, Tiffany walked down the aisle toward me at the beginning of the period. She smiled, and then took the seat beside me. It was the first time I had seen her smile at school. After our discussion last night, I felt that we could truly become friends. I had confided in her things that I had never discussed with anyone else; well, except maybe in my notebook I kept for my letters to God. It felt really strange that I could trust her so much. Just two weeks ago, my father had ranted and raved about how vile a creature she was. To him, she didn’t even deserve to live among others.
I now knew, and believed, that he was wrong. I was also questioning if he had been right about anything he preached. It is ironic that he tried so hard to lead me toward living a godly life. And as strange as it sounds, I truly think that was his goal. I think he was doing what he thought was right for me. However, he could not have been more wrong.
What I feared now what he had done was drive me further from God. For the past few days, I had not even removed my notebook from my locker and taken it with me so I could write in it. If God was truly a wrathful God like my father believed, then no amount of confession could provide me with salvation. I now was beginning to accept the fact that I was gay. Admitting it to Tiffany last night confirmed that in my mind. Once I had openly admitted it, then there was no way I could retract it. So, if God is a wrathful God, then I am damned for eternity, no matter what I do.
And as I look over at Tiffany, I also feel that she is right. At first, it was hard for me to accept. I’m still not sure I am completely able to understand. However, I have to accept her feelings. I must believe that she is right. And if I do that, then once again, I go against what my father has tried to instill in me.
So right now, as I attempt to listen to Mrs. Hawthorne discuss a short story, I have come to accept my destiny. Either my father is right, and I am heading toward eternal damnation; or I am right, and I must follow what I feel inside my heart. I don’t feel as fearful as I did earlier. After last night, I made the decision to move forward as Bobby Long.
When the bell rang, Tiffany followed behind me out into the hall. “Are you going to Nana’s?” she asked. I told her I was, but I first had to go to my locker to get my books.
She walked beside me down the hall. When I approached my locker, I was surprised to see Jerome and Colton waiting for me. I eyed them suspiciously and asked, “What’s up.”
“Nothing,” responded Colton. “We just thought we would walk home with you.” I looked down at Jerome. His face started to turn red.
He looked at the floor and muttered a soft, “Sorry, Jacob.”
Tiffany instantly corrected him. “He’s Bobby,” she insisted. Jerome gave me a puzzled look and nodded his head.
“Look, Guys,” I said. “I’ll be all right. You don’t have to worry.” I looked at Colton’s hand. “Besides, you have as much to worry about as I do.”
Colton laughed and said, “There’s strength in numbers.” He pulled on my arm and started leading me down the hallway with Tiffany and Jerome following.
When we exited the building, we stopped suddenly. Darryl was standing off to the side with two of his friends. He seemed surprised to see the four of us together. He made a comment to his friends, and they started laughing. Colton muttered under his breath as he grabbed my arm, “Ignore the fucker.” The four of us then started walking down the sidewalk toward Mrs. Oliver’s house.
Darryl shouted out, “Ain’t that sweet. They’re probably going somewhere to do a foursome.” We could hear his friends start to laugh. He then started following us, taunting us with rude comments.
I looked at Colton and could see rage in his eyes. I grabbed his arm and said, “It’s not worth it.”
He pulled away and turned toward Darryl who was now about ten feet away. He took a defensive pose and shouted angrily, “Come on, Standifer. Let’s get this over with!” He lifted his right arm in a cast and had his left hand in a tight fist. Tiffany and Jerome tried to stop him, but he pulled away and told them to stand behind him.
Darryl seemed surprised. I don’t think he was expecting Colton to challenge him. When I saw his apprehension, I stepped beside Colton and hollered, “Come on, Darryl. No one is scared of you.” I balled my fist to fight. Inside, I was shaking from fear, but I couldn’t let him see it. It was now or never. I had to finally take a stand against hate.
His friends urged him to kick our asses, but they didn’t seem like they wanted to participate because they were remaining four feet behind him. He was alone to fight us, and he didn’t seem ready to take the challenge. He took a step back when Tiffany and Jerome stepped beside me and Colton. He attempted to stare down the four of us, but he finally took another step back. He flipped us off and said, “It ain’t worth it, Fuckers.” He turned and headed back toward the school building. I heard one of his friends faintly say ‘chicken shit.’ I was pretty sure he had said it to Darryl.
Jerome was giddy with excitement. He squealed, “He backed down! Darry Standifer backed down!”
“He’s soft,” said Colton as we turned and started heading down the sidewalk. “I’ve known that since first grade. That’s why he’s never fucked with me before.”
I laughed and said, “This calls for a toast.” I looked at the guys and asked, “Want to go to the house and have a drink?” When Jerome’s eyes widened, I laughed and added, “A Coke!”
We were in a lively mood when we entered the house. Mrs. Oliver was surprised to see Tiffany and Colton with me. “And who are you?” she asked as she looked down at Jerome. His face reddened when she pinched his cheeks and said, “Aren’t you just the cutest thing.”
For the first time, I realized that Jerome was cute. I had never really paid any attention to his appearance before. To me, he was just a small, nerdy kid. However, like the rest of us, he was maturing into a man. I guess it just was taking him longer than the rest of us. His face continued to redden as Mrs. Oliver questioned him. “And what is your name?”
“Jerome Norman,” he informed her.
She said cheerfully, “Well, Mr. Jerome Norman, welcome to my home.” She glanced quickly at Tiffany. I think she was thrilled that she had so many friends. She had us sit down, and then she got us cookies and milk.
Before pouring the milk, I stopped her and asked, “Do we have any Cokes? I kind of promised the guys a Coke.” She gave me a puzzled look when the others began to laugh.
“I think so,” she replied as she went out onto the back porch and returned with four cans of generic soda labeled, “Cola.” She smiled, and then prepared four glasses with ice. After placing a box of cookies before us, she laughed and said, “Be good,” before leaving.
Jerome smiled and told Tiffany, “I like your grandmother.” He nodded and said she was pretty cool for an old lady. We laughed when Mrs. Oliver yelled from the living room, “I heard that.”
As we ate, Jerome asked nervously, “So, what are we going to do?”
I asked, “About what?”
He replied, “Darryl.”
“Don’t worry about Darryl,” assured Colton. He held up his casted right hand and said, “I got this.”
“Well,” again asked Jerome. “What about Monday night?”
With all the excitement occurring with Darryl, most of us had forgotten about the meeting that was supposed to held with the board concerning Tiffany using the girls’ restroom at school. I reminded Jerome, “There’s not too much we can do.”
“Sure there is,” he responded excitedly. He looked over at Tiffany and gave her a worried look. “We can’t just let them tell you what to do.”
“I don’t see what we can do,” said Colton. “It’s up to the adults.”
We turned when we heard Mrs. Oliver standing in the doorway. “Nonsense,” she huffed. “I don’t mean to pry, but you can do something.”
“Like what, Nana?” asked Tiffany. “We’re just kids.”
“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t have rights,” she replied. “If you want to use the girls’ restroom, you have every right to do so.”
I was amazed by the determined look on her face. It reminded me of the times she had argued with my father after a church service. She looked down at me and said, “I’m sorry, Bobby, but your father is a mean-spirited man. He has no right to be butting into school business.”
We laughed when Jerome looked at me and asked, “Who’s Bobby?” I had to spend the next couple of minutes once again explaining why I wanted my friends to start calling me by another name.
Tiffany worriedly asked her grandmother, “So what do we do?”
“We can’t take it sitting down,” she said. “We have just as much right to voice our opinions as that hard-headed father of yours,” she said as she looked at me and scowled.
She rose from the table and announced that she had some phone calls to make. When she left, Colton started smiling and said, “Wow! She’s a cool old lady.” He looked at me and laughed. “I sure want to see how she handles your father Monday night.
We sat and agreed that we would all attend the meeting on Monday. That is, if they would let us into it. We weren’t sure if the meeting was just for parents and school personnel. “They have to let us in,” remarked Colton excitedly. “We have as much a right to be there as anyone else.” He looked over at Tiffany. “Besides, who has more a stake in this than you do. You should be heard, too.”
“I don’t know,” said Tiffany nervously. “I don’t think I want to get involved.”
“What!” shrieked Colton. “You’re already involved whether you want to be or not.” He looked at the rest of us. “We’ll be there, right Guys?”
“Yeah,” we assured her.
We laughed when Jerome exclaimed, “This is going to be so much fun!”
Tiffany and Jerome left a little while later. I could tell that Tiffany still wasn’t sure if she wanted to go to the meeting. In a way, I could understand her feelings. She had been through so much at school the past week. I’m sure she thought that attending the meeting would only make her the target of more ridicule.
I tried to convince her that she should attend. Right now, she wasn’t known to most of the people who would attend the meeting, including my father. She was only a name that they talked about. I felt that if they could only meet her, like I had, that they might change their minds. I know I’m only being naïve to think that, but if only a few people could be convinced that Tiffany posed no problem to their son or daughter, then it was worth it.
Colton stretched back in his seat and yawned. Instinctively, my eyes wandered to the bulge outlined in his jeans. He saw me and grinned. “So,” he asked with a smile. “You have a room we can go to?”
“Why?” I asked skeptically. My heart began to beat faster thinking that he wanted us to be alone.
“No reason,” he replied as he looked around the kitchen. “I just thought it would be cool to go to your room and play a video game or something.” He then asked, “You do have video games. Don’t you?”
I answered sadly, “No. Father would never have condoned video games.”
Colton rose from the table, headed toward the door as he said, “Well, there has to be something we can find to do.”
I was trembling as I followed behind him down the hall. He was looking in the rooms to determine which one was mine. I was afraid to be alone with him, especially after what had happened in the restroom a few days earlier. I had given him an indication that I might be interested. If we were alone, he might try to take advantage of that knowledge. And he did. As soon as he walked into my bedroom, he closed the door. He then turned to me, grabbed me by my waist and pulled me toward him. I pushed away as he tried to lean in and kiss me.
“Don’t,” I pleaded. “I’m not ready for this.” On trembling legs, I managed to sit down on the side of the bed. He walked over and sat down beside me.
“I’m sorry, Bobby,” he apologized, “but you’re all I think about anymore.” He stared at me and said, “I can’t take it anymore.”
“I just can’t,” I stammered nervously. I looked down at the floor as he continued to stare at me.
“Why?” he asked. “Are you still hung up on your father?” He laughed and added, “Do you still think we’re going to hell if we kiss each other?”
“No,” I replied. He reached out and took my hand. I didn’t pull it away.
He asked softly, “Then what is it?” I continued to feel nervous as he began to rub my hand with his thumb.
I looked at him and admitted, “I’m afraid.”
“I won’t hurt you,” he said as he leaned toward me and pushed me gently onto the bed. He then lowered his head…and kissed me.
I never knew what would happen if I did show any affection for a boy. I always feared that I would hear Satan start to laugh because he knew he had tempted me away from God. I thought that perhaps the Earth would open, and the two of us would be plunged into the abyss of Hell. But it didn’t happen.
Colton’s kiss was soft and warm. At first I was frozen. I waited for the laughter or the sound of the moving ground. Then I began to enjoy the moment. I closed my eyes and let Colton continue to kiss me. However, a new fear overcame me. Was he enjoying the kiss as much as I was? When he pulled away and looked down at me and smiled, I knew I had received my answer. “Wow!” he said as he looked into my eyes. “That was amazing!”
My face became flushed as I admitted, “Yeah, it was.” He then leaned in and kissed me again. I could feel myself begin to harden. I jumped when Colton ran his hand across the front of my jeans. I lurched forward and sat up. “We’re going too fast,” I warned. I was still accepting the fact that I had just kissed a boy. I certainly wasn’t ready to do anything more.
“I understand,” responded Colton. He leaned in and kissed me again. When he pulled away, he smiled and said, “I’m just happy you feel the same way about me.”
“This is all new to me,” I replied. “I have to get used to it.”
Colton started to laugh. “I haven’t either,” he confessed. He smiled and said, “That was my first kiss.”
I rubbed my hand across my lips. “I liked it,” I said with a smile.
He grinned and replied, “I did too.”
I looked worriedly over at him. “So, what do we do?”
“Us,” I replied. “What are we going to do about us?”
“I don’t know,” he replied as he shrugged his shoulders. “I guess we take it slow.”
“Okay,” I said as I leaned in and kissed him gently. He almost purred like a kitten when our lips touched. As we kissed, he once again ran his hand across the front of my jeans. This time I didn’t jump.
I was disappointed when his cell phone began to ring. He got up and walked over to the window. “I’m with Bobby,” he said into the phone. He then looked at his watch. “I didn’t know it was so late.” I looked at the clock on the wall. It was after nine o’clock. “Okay,” he said. “I’m on my way home.” When he hung up he apologized and said he had to go home. He said his parents were worried about him. After a brief kiss, I walked him to the front door. I wanted to kiss him again, but Mrs. Oliver was watching television. She would have seen us if I did. I followed him out onto the porch and watched him walk down the sidewalk towards his home. He turned and waved before turning onto another street. I sighed and went back inside.
Mrs. Oliver was on the sofa watching a movie. I sat beside her and asked, “What’s this?”
“Casablanca,” she replied with a sigh. “Humphry Bogart was such a romantic man.” I looked at the man on the screen dressed in a white suit. I didn’t find him that attractive. I guess he was to an old woman, though.
We sat in silence for a few minutes. I was getting bored with the movie, but I knew Mrs. Oliver enjoyed my company. She sighed again and said, “Your Colton reminds me of Bogie.”
“What?” I looked over at her as she continued to stare at the man on the screen. I wasn’t sure what she meant by ‘your Colton.’
She looked over and smiled. “Your Colton,” she repeated. “He’s such a romantic young man, too.” She looked back at the screen. “Just like Mr. Bogart.”
I sat forward and stared at her. “Why do you keep saying my Colton?”
Her eyes furrowed as she asked, “Why he is your boyfriend, isn’t he?”
“What!” I shrieked. “Why do you think he’s my boyfriend?”
She asked, “Well, isn’t he? I see how the two of you are always looking at each other.”
I didn’t know how to reply. Mrs. Oliver certainly didn’t know what she was implying. She was, after all, old. As if reading my mind, she laughed. “I may be an old woman, but that doesn’t mean I’m stupid. Why just yesterday two boys your age were on one of the morning talk shows telling how they loved each other.” She giggled and added, “I thought it was rather cute.”
I started stammering. “I…I…don’t know…what to say.”
She reached out and held my hand. “Just be careful, Jacob. You’ve led such a sheltered life.”
I pleaded, “You won’t tell my father, will you?”
“Oh, Heavens no,” she exclaimed. “That old fool lives in the Dark Ages.” She smiled when I leaned over and kissed her on her cheek.