For the first time in a while, I slept well last night—my eyes in the mirror were brighter, and the smile on my lips was genuine...was it thanks to ‘Kurt’ or my date tomorrow with Jay? I pulled my black windbreaker over my bright-yellow tee-shirt and took a last look in the mirror as I went out the door: faded blue jeans—check, grey sneakers and long white socks—oh yeah!, medium-length dark brown hair-wavy and parted in the middle, with that damn cowlick in the front—the usual mess, and lastly, dorky thick-lensed silver-framed glasses—unavoidable if I wanted to see anything in focus beyond arm’s length.
Walking down the aisle in the old yellow bus, I took my usual brown vinyl seat and stared out the window—not much to see since the sun wouldn’t be up until we reached the school—but it gave me time to think. Who was ‘Kurt’?—I could think of at least six boys who were close to his description...I had not talked to any of them before...I hardly talked to anyone besides Jay and my other friend Will—he was a nerd too, short, thin brown hair and glasses, but he could drive! As the bus splashed through puddles from another rain-storm from last night, I considered and discarded each of the ‘suspects’ in turn.
Not Joey Simms—he’s known to have screwed two cheerleaders this year alone; Ronnie McKay—I remembered his Scottish accent from middle-school—not him; what about Eric Sommers...or Derik, his brother—nah, the twins never did anything alone—and I don’t think either would jack-off on the phone; that left only Bob Thomas or Greg Newton? Neither of those two seemed possible, but logic had narrowed it down to one of them, that I knew of. Bob or Greg: I didn’t know enough about either to decide—Bob played basketball for the Wildcats, and Greg worked in the lunchroom. Like most jocks, Bob kept pretty much to his buddies, so why would he call me even by accident? Greg? The boy was cute, but he wasn’t out-going at all...you almost had to pry words out of him with a crow-bar!
By the time the bus pulled into the long oval in front of the school I had given up trying to figure it out—was the description even accurate? We hadn’t used our real names, and I knew I hadn’t mentioned wearing glasses! I didn’t know if I’d recognize either’s voice since Kurt’s was pretty soft, but I’d give it a shot today if I ran into either. I had English Lit with Bob, but he was talking with his friends, so I stayed away...even so I had an idea that it wasn’t him. Barring any new information, that left Greg Newton.
I passed through one of the four metal doors into the main hall between the Office and the cafeteria, turning left past the grey metal gates which were folded back into their recesses in the beige block walls. The lockers in the high school lined both sides and were a dark tan; everything about the school was tannish except the ceilings—they were white acoustical tile. At least the black and gold banners and trophy-cases for the various Wildcats sports teams stood out! I slipped past people in the halls without drawing too much attention to myself. English poetry was all-right—I added a few verses of Omar Khayyam’s Rubaiyat to my notebook, and was surprised to see a B+ on my haiku assignment. Just stringing words together randomly and counting syllables—piece of cake! Bob Thomas caught me listening in to his conversation in the hall before third period, but wasn’t mean about it, just asked if I wanted something. Definitely not him!
Home Ec. was stupid, having it right before lunch—I suppose I had to learn to cook since my older sisters were all married now, but it wasn’t easy for me—dad taught my three sisters to cook, but his shift at the dairy was now evenings—and that left me high and dry. Anything other than rubbery scrambled eggs or hamburgers, and I had to haul out the Betty Crocker. Last week’s chocolate chip cookies were great, but I was beet red as I headed to the cafeteria: who forgets to put bananas in banana fritters?!
I grabbed my tray and started down the narrow service line, sliding it along the polished steel counter. Pretty standard fare today: green beans, potatoes and gravy, apple betty...and pizza! I forgot Thursday meant edible food—I had feared it would be meatloaf-flavored brick day. Damn—no more chocolate milk! Fortunately I had enough change for the Pepsi machine once I set my tray on a corner table. It was my sad lot to be stuck in the last lunch period this semester, so of course the best things would likely run out before I got there! The only time that didn’t happen was ‘mystery meat’ Mondays...sigh.
From my seat I could watch most of the room: same old, same old—jocks in their groups near the windows, cheerleaders swarming around them with their insane giggles and occasional high-pitched squeals when one of the guys said something sexy; most of the other kids were dressed fairly similarly: jeans in various states of newness, sweatshirts or tees, a few of the hard-core nerds wore button-shirts. Nearly everyone wore sneakers, a few in cowboy boots...even some of the girls! Most of them were in jeans and blouses or sweats, very few wore actual dresses or skirts; hair styles for both guys and girls were pretty much alike, the Farrah Fawcett thing was still in, so hair was long, feathered and often parted in the middle. That made it tough for me—it wasn’t always easy to tell what sex the butt was I was admiring—not until they turned enough to see the face or chest!
Along the edges of the lunchroom were others like me: loners who for various reasons didn’t feel like they fit in, a couple handicapped kids, one with a wheelchair and another with those metal crutches. I saw a couple more kids who were tough to classify...one guy wore Army fatigues, but had longish blond hair, a dark-haired girl in a bulky sweater with a permanent scowl on her face, another guy wearing khaki chinos and a blue and black flannel shirt. Strange, I hadn’t noticed him before—either he’s new or switched lunch sections. He was sitting with the Sommers twins, apparently injecting a word or two into their ‘conversation’. You had to say it like that—the twins held most of their talks with a gesture, or a look, or a single word—it was like they had just one brain between them. His hair was much redder than theirs, almost like flames, but the faces were similar.
A tray clattered on the fake-wood table across from my seat, causing me to jump and nearly spill my Pepsi. My head jerked around, and I was lost in cornflower-blue eyes. It was always his eyes which I noticed first, then his pert nose above a lazy smile. Today he was even sexier than usual with his blue muscle-tee and gray corduroy pants. The smile appeared as he sank into the metal seat, making those eyes twinkle. His tray had the same things I picked, but with the addition of a chocolate-frosted donut. Jay always chided me for being so jumpy. “Where’d you get that?”
“From my mom—she made them last night.” Then Jay did the nicest thing—he cut it in half and put part on my tray! “I wasn’t sure I’d see you—otherwise it’d be a whole one…since you’re a bigger chocoholic than I am!” I could only stare raptly as he licked the icing from his fingers before taking a bite out of his own pizza. It took me a moment to swallow the lump in my throat and say thanks.
“A...bout tomorrow…” Jay looked up as I paused too long. “We...we’re still on, right?” I tried holding eye contact, but I was so worried about his answer, my gaze fell back to my tray’s half-eaten contents. At least I didn’t look around to see who might be listening in like I normally would have. We were the only ones at our table.
Under the table, I felt a soft nudge to my foot. “Look at me, Mikey,” his voice was low, but I could still hear the concern in it. “We—are going out to eat—as planned! We just need to figure out where….”
My smile, which had faltered, was back. “Pizza, right? The only place in town is Cal’s—on the same hill as Roscoe’s Supermarket. Otherwise, it’s over to Alexandria or Reynoldsburg….”
Jay swallowed his last bite of pizza before answering. “Cal’s will be packed on a Friday night...I didn’t think of that...we’d run into all sorts of my friends there….” My head sank back on my chest when he said that. Did he really want to go, or was he just ashamed to be seen with a gawky dork like me?
There was a sharper kick, and my head came back up, but the smile was forced this time. “I told you to stop that—I keep my promises Mikey—I just want us to not be interrupted all the time by people! How can we get to be good friends in a joint like that?” For the briefest instant, I felt his ankle rub against mine before drawing back to his side of the table. My smile was back a hundred percent.
“If it was warmer, we could picnic in the back of my truck...but it’s supposed to be chilly again tomorrow night….” He sounded so despondent I put aside my normal reserve and met his blue gaze with mine.
“You could...I dunno...come over to...my place…” Did he hear my last words? I barely heard them, and I was the one who spoke them! “My parents work late...we’d be alone until about 10.”
The lazy trademark smile was so bright I thought it must be visible from Skylab, even though that had been unmanned for two years now. “I can pick up the pizza, or we can goof around for a while, then take it back to your house! Take your pick!”
I looked around again, making sure no one could overhear what I said next: “My—you’re an easy date! Here I thought I’d have to make myself all purty for you!” Jay’s mouth fell open in shock, then he roared with laughter until he could barely breathe, attracting all sorts of attention! Before I could panic, Jay thumped the table with his hand.
“I’m gonna have to remember that joke, Mikey! I’m gonna go write it down before I forget!” His blue eyes were afire with anticipation and a merry gleam. He leaned over slightly to pick up his tray as he stood—his whisper was just for me!
“I’ll be over at 4:30—wear whatever you want, it’s all hot on you….” Gripping his tray, he turned and gave me a short wave: “Don’t take any wooden nickels, man!”
Somehow, time had flown, and there were only a few people in the lunchroom now. Greg Newton was making the rounds picking up trays people had left and dumping their contents into the trash. I watched him as I finished Jay’s donut….He is cute—I wonder if he’s ‘Kurt’? He almost never says anything though….
“Hi Miles,” his voice was soft, a baritone which was quite pleasant when he used it. He must have seen the shock on my face, because he gave a quiet snicker. “I can talk...when I have something to say….” Up close, I could see the faint spray of freckles across his nose and cheeks, and his hair was the color of fall leaves, all tawny reds and muted browns. I got another shock when I looked at his eyes: they were the same color of pale blue as my last Siamese kitten. Kitty had been gone two years now—she didn’t come back one night when I whistled for her, and no answers came to my ad in the local paper offering a reward.
I couldn’t get over it...Greg was talking...in words! “Greg! Um...mmm….Hi!” Real smooth, Miles. My mouth was suddenly dry, so I picked up my Pepsi can, only to find it empty. That soft ‘something to say’ could have been Kurt’s voice! Greg motioned to my tray, and I let him empty it also before he turned back to me.
“You like chocolate milk, right?” When I nodded, he smiled. “I’ll make sure there’s always some for you.” The clock indicated the bell was going to ring in five minutes, so I stood up, placing my hands casually in front of my jeans to hide that bane of teenage boys—a growing tent!
He walked next to me toward the kitchen door, his tee-shirt covered shoulder brushing against mine a time or two. He removed his white apron and put it inside the service window, then turned to me with a mischievous grin.
Kurt—no, Greg—smiled as he raised his left hand to his lips, licking his thumb, then moved it to my right nipple. His touch was like a million volts of electricity through the yellow fabric, and I just managed to stop the moan from escaping my lips when he flicked it gently and brushed his fingers over my pec. “Crumbs.”
“I want you to do something for me...will you?” How did he do that? How could anyone put so much sex into a simple request!? My knees went weak just hearing those words.
“I’ll do whatever you want, Kurt...just name it.” I knew I was blushing furiously, but couldn’t stop it, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I felt no fear, I trusted him—had trusted him—with my innermost secret.
His smile came out like a ray of the rising sun. “My middle name is Kurt...just so you know, Miles Stevenson. I’ll tell you what I want when we talk after school….” As we headed to the cafeteria exit, the last ones there, I felt him pat my shoulder gently, and end it with a soft caress as we parted.
I don’t remember the rest of my classes at all….