As the movie wound down, and we all got ready for bed, I noticed Adam and Dizzy watching me a little closer than usual. I understand why they’re worried, but they really have no reason to be. I’m no longer that naïve country boy that would get scared of the fog from the bay, like they said, I’m a city boy now!
Yet still, I noticed Adam lingering around as I said goodnight to Dizzy. And when I finally went upstairs he followed close behind.
“Artie,” Adam began in an uncertain voice. “think we can talk for a few minutes before bed?”
“Sure.” I accepted with a forced smile. I pushed my bedroom door open and took a seat on my bed as I led him into my room.
“I really am happy with the way you handled the call with Ezra.” He said, but I could tell he was still struggling to put confidence behind his words. “You have your guard up, and I, I know there will come a time when you want to lower it,” He hesitated as his gaze slowly moved around me.
“Don’t.” He warned, finally finding strength behind his words. “It’s not fair to ask, but, but you have to give it years before you can fully trust him.” This time as he spoke, Adam finally looked me in the eyes.
“You’re okay with it taking years?” I couldn’t help but ask, as I watched him walk over and sit next to me.
“Yeah.” He let out in a sigh. “This is your birth father Artie.” Adam shook his head. “I may not like him, but I’m not going to get in the way.”
A million different questions began to swarm my mind, yet all I could force out was “No?”.
“No.” Adam repeated with a shake of his head. “I, I grew up hating my father.”,” Adam hesitated as he thought over his words. “I still hate him.” Adam snickered as his face grew serious. “And the weight that can put on a person, it’s heart breaking.” Adam confessed as his eyes lowered to the floor. For a few moments he fell silent as his words stained the air.
“I know I said I don’t understand why you need to talk to Ezra.” He began once more. “But I, I do.” Adam shook his head. “So I’m still not happy about it,” He made sure to clarify. “but if it gets confusing or disappointing, and you don’t know what to do,” He hesitated as he forced himself to look back up into my eyes. “I will always be here to help you piece it together.”
In that moment, when his words hit me, and our eyes connected, all I could see was my Mother. I’m not exactly sure why the first tear fell from my eyes, but once it did, the rest were impossible to stop.
Once more Adam hesitated at first, but before he could say anything else, instinct kicked in and he pulled me in for a hug. He held me for a few moments, until finally I regained control over my emotions.
“Sorry.” I sniffled as I tried to wipe the last few tears from my eyes. “I, I just want this to work out.” I confessed, as my eyes began to fall from his. “I know I have you and Lindsay and Dizzy and Charlotte and Ky,” I began to ramble as my emotions once more got the better of me. “but I, I’ve been wondering about my dad my whole life.” I shook my head. “And for the first time ever I have hope that he’s not some deadbeat who doesn’t care.”
Concern began to enter Adam’s gaze, but he pushed it back and kept listening. “I know that probably sounds stupid,” I shook my head as reality began to sink in. “I know you know Ezra better than me.” I continued to force out. “And I know when it comes down to it, he’ll probably disappoint me.” I exhaled, surprising even myself. “But if I, if I can get my dad out of this, that’s worth the risk.” I spoke as I finally looked back up to Adam. “Right?
For a second Adam let out a light laugh before catching himself and growing serious once more. “I don’t know.” He answered as he looked into my eyes. “But when I was your age, I hated when people told me what to do.” He shook his head. “So I’ll let you decide how this goes, even if it disappoints you in the end.” I forced a nod and couldn’t help but nervously tap my fingers against the bed as I heard those words.
“But I’ll be here supporting you the whole way.” He reminded me as he reached out and bumped me with his elbow. “No matter what.”
Once more I nodded my head, but this time instead of speaking, I reached out and gave him another hug. Just like always he refused at first, before finally hugging me back. Our situations are different, but I know Adam has felt what I feel. I know he understands where I’m coming from. And with him behind me, I know, for better or worse, I can survive this.
The next morning when I woke up I felt a lot, lighter. If I’m normally an upbeat person, well today I was even more smiley than usual. Dizzy made his jokes, but I ignored them and pushed through our normal morning routine until we finally made it to homeroom.
“Prepare yourself,” Dizzy teased Charlotte as we took our seats. “I think your best friend has finally lost it.”
“I’m totally fine.” I insisted as I tried to force a serious face. “I don’t know, I just feel, good.”
Charlotte made a face before looking over to Dizzy. “Did you two, ya know?” She asked, trying to dance around the words. “Forget it!” Charlotte exclaimed as Dizzy went to speak. “He’s just happy, that’s all I need to know.”
“We didn’t do it.” Dizzy denied as he rolled his eyes. “Trust me, when I saw he was in a good mood that’s the first,”
“She gets it!” I interrupted drawing a laugh from her.
“He’s just happy because he spoke to Ezra last night.” Dizzy finally explained, cutting right to the point. I shot him an unamused look as I let out a deep sigh. “You were going to tell her anyway.” Dizzy shrugged his shoulders. “Besides, I need someone to vent to too.”
“You can vent to me.” I reminded him as I forced another small smile.
“Vent to you, about how much I think this is a bad idea?” Dizzy asked as he grew serious. “You know how I feel, anything on top of that, it would just cause a fight.” He pointed out as his eyes fell from mine.
“Well if it ever really starts to bother you, you need to come to me.” I insisted as I reached my leg out and began to nudge his foot with mine. “But that’s not even why I’m happy.” I shrugged my shoulders. “Me and Adam just had a really nice moment after.”
“When?” Dizzy asked, instantly looked back up to me.
“After you went to bed.” I smirked as he dramatically threw his hands in the air.
“So what?” He asked, playing up the situation. “I go to bed and you two just have a family moment?” He shook his head. “Ya know, I like family moments too.”
“Adam hugged me too.” I instigated, eager to see where he would take it.
“He never hugs me!” Dizzy exclaimed, drawing a concerned look from Mrs. Mowry, but she shrugged it off and went back to grading papers. “The first thing I’m doing when I see him, is give him a hug.”
“One of these days, you’re going to push your luck a little too far with him.” Charlotte warned as she forced eye contact with Dizzy. “He really doesn’t have to be so nice to you.”
“Adam likes him too much for that to happen.” I shot down, saving Dizzy the lecture. “I think Adam was like Dizzy as a kid.”
“He was worse!” Dizzy exclaimed, nearly jumping out of his seat. “Like a lot worse!”
“You keep telling yourself that.” I rolled my eyes as I looked over to Charlotte. “Where’s Ky?”
“Why?” Charlotte asked as she began to laugh. “Looking to hand off Dizzy?”
“Something like that.” I muttered as Dizzy shot me an unamused look.
“Well if either of you ever check your phone, you’d know he texted us that he’s out sick.” She warned as she began to stare me down. “You’d also know that you left me on read, last night.”
“Sorry.” I nervously laughed with a forced smile. “I suck at texting.”
“I know.” She groaned as she rolled her eyes. “But you both have a chance to make that up to me.”
“Both?” Dizzy repeated in an unwilling voice.
“Since it’s just us for lunch, I told Jose it’d be nice if we could all eat together.” She shrugged her shoulders as a smile began to form on my face.
“Isn’t Jose a junior?” Dizzy began to tease. “Doesn’t he have junior lunch?” He asked, causing me to laugh.
“He has study hall when we have lunch, so he can meet us.” She excused, making sure to stare Dizzy down.
“Study hall.” I repeated in a doubtful voice. “Sure.” I sarcastically giggled, as Dizzy began to laugh along with me.
“He’s your teammate.” Charlotte warned as her gaze quickly darted over to me. “And I don’t even want to hear it from you!” She shut Dizzy down as he went to speak.
“Charlotte has a boyfriend.” Dizzy whispered to me, making sure to speak loud enough so she could overhear.
“Where have you been?” I teased, taking her side. “They’re not official yet though, first she wants him to,”
“Artie!” Charlotte warned in a shout.
“You can’t stop there!” Dizzy yelped as I turned away from him. “Come on!” He insisted as I turned back to Charlotte. “I’ll get it out of him.” He decided as he saw I was keeping my silence.
Charlotte went to tease him, but Mrs. Mowry began to take attendance before she could. The morning went by quickly, but it was weird not having Ky with us. Even on days when he’s quiet, he still helps change the dynamic. At least his text said he’ll be back tomorrow! So I guess for now, we can at least fit in a double date!
When lunch rolled around and we approached the table, I noticed Dizzy eye up Jose. Jose shot me a look of disbelief before finally looking Dizzy up and down the same way. I don’t know what stupid plan Dizzy has, but he better cool it. Jose’s a nice guy, but he spends a lot of time in the weight room, and I’m not sure he’d find Dizzy’s games as charming as me!
“Jose,” I began as we finally reached the table. “This is my boyfriend Dizzy.” I introduced with a smile. “Dizzy this is Jose.”
“It’s nice to finally meet you.” Jose lightly nodded his head. “I’ve heard a lot about you.” As their eyes connected, a stare down began to take place.
“We’ve met during Gym class.” Dizzy replied. As their eyes connected, they began to have more of a stare down than a friendly introduction.
Charlotte flashed me a concerned look, but I forced a smile and pretended to ignore it. “So Jose,” I began as Dizzy and I took our seats. “we’ve got some pretty big games coming up, huh?”
“Three left on the season.” He answered, breaking eye contact with Dizzy and looking over to me. “It’s looking like we’ve gotta win two to make the playoffs.”
“That’s not so bad!” Charlotte cheered as she flashed Jose a smile. “You two have been talking like it’s impossible!”
“The situation could change based on what happens with other schools.” Jose explained as he looked over to me. “We need other teams to lose to really give us a good shot.” He complained with a shake of his head. “If only we had you at the start of the season, then we would’ve made it for sure.”
“I just get on.” I shrugged my shoulders as a smile began to creep on my face. “You’re the one who clears the bases.”
“You do a lot more than that, and you know it.” He encouraged as we started to get lost in our own world. “Remember that diving play you made a couple games ago?”
“I only had to dive because I reacted late.” I shook my head. “And that’s nothing compared to how you gunned down that guy trying to get home last game.” I supported. “Your arms a cannon!”
“Hey Dizzy,” Charlotte spoke up. “maybe we should leave these two lovebirds alone.”
“Maybe you should.” Jose teased back, unashamed of how close, as teammates, we are.
“It’s even worse that they love their bromance.” Dizzy playfully rolled his eyes.
“Bromance?” I repeated looking over to Jose.
“It’s like when two guys are really close friends,” Jose explained as he looked back towards Charlotte. “and our bromance is only starting, so you better get used to it.”
“He’s right.” I couldn’t help but tease Dizzy. “Besides, if we didn’t become friends, you two wouldn’t be together.” I teased, looking back towards Charlotte.
“Lucky me.” She teased, but kept her eyes on Jose. They both fell quiet but shared a smile, until finally a blush filled Charlotte’s face and Jose turned back towards us.
“So Dizzy,” Jose began, trying his hardest to ignore their moment. “you play any sports?”
“Do video games count?” I jokingly answered for him.
“You’re just full of jokes today, aren’t you?” Dizzy asked as he nudged me with his elbow. “But no, I don’t play any sports.” He shot down. “I’m more of a computer guy.”
“Like video games,” Jose couldn’t help but continue to tease. “or silicon valley?”
“Little bit of both.” Dizzy shrugged his shoulders, but began to grow serious.
“He’s actually like, really good with computers.” Charlotte began to explain, as Dizzy grew quiet. “He says it helps him plan out his art.”
“It does!” He exclaimed as he began to jump to life. “You have to take things one step at a time, and look from all different angles.” He warned as he finally started to act like his normal self. “One wrong piece of coding and the whole program is toasted!”
“And that connects to art?” I asked in a doubtful voice.
“One wrong color or line, and your whole drawing or painting is toasted.” He teased with a proud smirk. I thought it over, but couldn’t help but laugh to myself as I realized how little sense he was making.
“So you’re like, one of those crazy geniuses?” Jose asked, taking his chance to win over Dizzy.
“Oh God.” Charlotte groaned as she heard Jose’s choice of words.
“Yes, except I actually have a personality!” He exclaimed as his excitement got the better of him.
“Please never call him a genius again.” I complained as I looked back over to Jose. “Because I’m never going to hear the end of this.”
“It’s too late!” Dizzy yelped, finally showing Jose his crazier side. “I’m a genius, and we all heard that!” He shouted, drawing the attention of some nearby students.
“Dizzy,” A nearby teacher called out. “tone it down before you get yourself in trouble.”
He let out a slight laugh before lowering himself in his seat and falling quiet. “I’ve heard stories about you, but since you’re dating Artie I figured they were exaggerated,” Jose shook his head as he looked at the two of us. “but they’re not, are they?”
“Nope.” Dizzy answered in a proud voice. “Artie’s just a lot crazier than people think.”
“Maybe you’re just a lot calmer than people think.” I argued, as he looked over to me and our eyes began to lock.
“We both know that’s definitely not it.” He smirked, letting silence fill the air as our eyes stayed connected. “You’re crazy, and you know it.”
“Okay!” Charlotte exclaimed, breaking up our moment. “I think that’s a conversation you two can have later.” She teased as her and Jose began to laugh.
Dizzy flashed me a grin, but the lunch bell rang, putting an end to the conversation.
“We should do this again sometime.” Charlotte decided as we all stood up. “Except, at an actual restaurant and not the lunch room.”
“If you ask me, the lunchroom is perfect.” Dizzy teased as he took the lunch tray from my hands.
“You know your boyfriend might be crazy, right?” Jose laughed as Dizzy wandered away to return the trays for us.
“I think that’s why I’m dating him.” I played along with a laugh of my own.
“To each their own.” Jose nodded his head. “He seems like a good guy though.” He clarified as he looked back to Charlotte. “And once the season’s over, we should do this again at a real place.”
“Sounds like a plan.” I agreed as he gave me a strong pat on the back before leading Charlotte towards the exit. She turned back and flashed me a wink before turning her full attention to Jose.
“Ahhh, kids in love.” Dizzy exhaled from behind me, nearly causing me to jump. “What could be better?”
“You’re so weird sometimes.” I complained as I led him towards a different exit.
“That’s why you keep me around.” He laughed as he bumped shoulders with me.
“Don’t remind me.” I complained as he let out another laugh. Suddenly he grabbed my arm and stole a kiss from my lips. “Not in school!” I whined, but would be lying if I said I didn’t like it.
Another smirk filled his face as he bucked shoulders with me once more. “Sorry,” He finally apologized. “but it’s getting really hard not to do that whenever I see you.”
I rolled my eyes but stopped walking as we reached the door of my classroom. “I like you, you know that?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“I was wondering why you’ve kept me around so long.” He replied as he continued to walk to his own classroom.
I couldn’t help but shake my head as I noticed him glance back and take one more look at me. Charlotte and Jose make a cute couple, but they’ve got a while before they can catch up to Dizzy and me! Hell, I think I still need to catch up to Dizzy and me ! But as long as he keeps creating moments like that kiss, well I know I’ll be there in no time.
The rest of the day went by quickly from there. School, practice, even Adam watching Dizzy and me do our homework, it’s just become my daily life.
Dizzy stayed for dinner, but after he helped clean up, left to go check on Ky. I was going to tag along, but Dizzy convinced me against it so I wouldn’t catch whatever Ky had. Dizzy claims that he never gets sick, but I have a bad feeling it’s going to spread to Dizzy, then right to me and Adam soon after!
Either way, a quiet night with Adam was exactly what we both needed. Neither of us mentioned our conversation from last night, but I don’t think we needed to. We aired it all out then and right now, it just feels like we’re on the same page.
Even as a call from Ezra began to ring on Adam’s phone, he picked up, placed it on speaker and handed it to me without judgement.
“Hello?” I forced out, surprised that Ezra would already call again.
“Arthur,” He began in his usually stern voice. “I just got back from a business meeting at the Rangers game, and it made me think of you.” Adam tried his hardest not to, but I noticed him roll his eyes as he heard those words.
“You work with the Rangers?” I asked in a confused voice.
“No,” He replied in an almost laugh. “I just took some clients there to talk business and keep them happy.” He explained. “I’m a CEO for a local bank called the McNeil Corporation.” He began to explain. “It can be boring, but we have some really cool perks. We have season tickets for the Rangers and all.”
“Nice.” I remarked in a sarcastic voice. As soon as Adam heard my tone, he looked over at me.
Ezra hesitated for a moment, as he let my response sink in. “I’m sorry Arthur,” Ezra paused as he thought over his words. “did I say something wrong?”
“No, it sounds like a nice job.” I answered as I felt my mood began to sour. “My Mom had a nice job too.” I remarked as the reality of his job began to rub me the wrong way. “She even got to make minimum wage, and the trailer we lived in, it was real nice.”
“Arthur, I’m sorry,” He forced out, caught off guard by how honest I was being. “but I did try and send Sarah money.” He said as I looked over to Adam. “I swear it.”
“Child support?” Adam spoke up as our eyes connected.
“More than just child support.” Ezra shot down before I could get the wrong idea. “And with no strings attached either.” He insisted. “She sent back the checks every time, I, I even still have them.”
“I’m sure you do.” Adam sarcastically replied, nearly using the same tone as I had before.
“I know what I did wasn’t right,” Ezra began, forcing confidence into his voice. “but I’ve tried my hardest to make up for it, I swear I have.”
“Like I said yesterday, you’ll have time to prove that.” I reminded him, still not happy with the way the conversation was going.
“I will.” He replied without hesitation. For a few moments the call fell quiet until finally, he began to speak again. “So, how was your day Arthur?”
“Same as usual.” I answered, unsure how to answer the question. “School then practice.”
“I trust they work you hard in both?” Ezra asked, looking to steer the focus of the conversation onto me.
“Hard enough.” I said as I thought it over. “Baseball is more focused on getting us ready for the next few games though.”
“Sounds like the right decision.” Ezra supported, trying his hardest to stay on my good side. “Are your teachers that smart?”
“I think so.” I forced out as he continued to turn the conversation to small talk. “I’m doing pretty good in school.”
“That’s great to hear.” He tried to encourage. Once more, silence filled the call. “Arthur,” He began again. “I really am sorry if I offended you at the start of the call.” He apologized. “I didn’t mean to offend you, I just thought you’d like to hear more about what I do.”
“I do,” I confessed in a sigh. “I want to get to know you,” I clarified, hoping not to have tanked our relationship already. “but I’m sorry, there are just going to be things I’m not happy about, even if you did try and make up for them.”
“I understand that, and as hard as it may be, it’s probably what we need to form a healthy connection.” He offered, as my mood once more began to lighten. “I’m sorry I left you Arthur.” He apologized. “If I could go back and do it differently, I would.”
As he heard those words, I noticed Adam try and discreetly peer over to watch me. “Well we’re here now.” I exhaled a heavy breath. “So we’ve gotta work with what we have.”
“You’re a very mature kid Arthur.” Ezra complimented as he thought over my words. “I’m a lucky man.” He said, more to himself than me. “But it’s late, and I’m sure you’ve had a long day, so I’ll let you go.” He continued. “We’ll talk again soon?”
“Yeah.” I answered, as I realized I should probably put in the same effort as him. “I’ll call you tomorrow if I can.”
“Sounds great.” He encouraged as his voice grew louder. “Goodbye Arthur.”
“Bye.” I replied as he clicked off the phone. I let out a deep sigh and leaned back in my seat as I thought it all over.
“That was good.” Adam supported as he reached over and gave me a light push. “I know it wasn’t easy, but you said the right things.”
“I feel like a jerk.” I grumbled as I kept my eyes on the T.V. in front of us.
“You put Ezra in his place, that’s not being a jerk.” Adam quickly denied. “I still can’t believe you said that.” Adam smirked, trying his hardest to hold back some laughter. “You were in such a good mood, I thought you’d let him walk all over you.”
“It just, it, bothered me.” I shook my head. “He was out with clients at baseball games while my Mom could barely keep the utilities on.” I complained as I felt the same anger from before start to rise. “I know he said he tried to send money, but I don’t know.” I sighed. “Would she really turn that away?”
“Sarah Price?” Adam asked as he tried to draw my gaze. “I think you already know the answer to that questions.” I couldn’t help but smile as I heard his words. “I’m surprised she didn’t set the checks on fire and send back the ashes.”
I felt a small laugh escape my lips as I thought it over. “I miss her.” I exhaled, the words escaping my lips without me even thinking about them.
“I do too,” Adam agreed as he reached out an arm and pulled me in for a hug. “you’ve got her brain though,” he encouraged. “and that’s something Ezra could never outwit.”
I nodded my head but let silence fill the air. Just like late last night, a comfortable quiet filled the air. Even now and again Adam would glance over to check on me, but didn’t say anything. I pray every night and morning that my Mom will watch over me, and right now, I know that’s exactly what’s happening.
I know you didn’t want me to have a relationship with Ezra, but it’s something I need to work through right now. I’ll do it right, and make you proud. I swear I will.