This chapter shifts perspective, even though Jake is still there. It's an oddball. My editor for this, Driver, had said to me 'leave it in there. The readers like a challenge, it'll screw with their heads.'
Let's get a few things straight right off the bat, ok? Moving was not my idea, chalk that up to mom and dad. I hate packing and if there is anything I hate more than packing it's unpacking. You never can find a place to put everything so half of it stays packed up anyway. That said, here I am unpacking in our new house. It's not a huge house, only two bedrooms, but it has a huge country kitchen and a sauna in the bathroom. The backyard is nice, although I'm sure I'll be raking a lot come autumn, but that's a couple of months away. We had a huge dog enclosure for Zach, our Great Dane, and he seemed to feel like he was being punished since he wasn't with us. You couldn't accomplish anything with him around though, if it wasn't his tail knocking things over it was him in the way, trying to walk upstairs with you, or ahead of you. But if he went ahead of you, he'd stop every few steps just to make sure you were coming along. My dog is neurotic.
I have a basement room, my own bathroom off it and a window in each, although the window is really high and just about large enough for someone to squeeze through. Tonight I'd have to sleep on the floor since my waterbed isn't filled and heated yet. Might sleep on it cold anyway, it's so hot around here!
All my furniture was down here already, in fact all the heavy stuff was in place, it was just a matter of putting away all the little shit, which as I mentioned I hate. I sighed and walked over to my old console model TV and rolled it to the corner of the room near the door, and set it in at an angle. Now I could watch from bed, if I chose. I moved my two bookcases around and then decided that was just about enough. I disdainfully looked at all the boxes yet to be unpacked and decided to go try out the basketball hoop instead. I grabbed my ball and went upstairs and out to the front of the house.
My folks had stayed up half the night getting everything put away and were now puttering in the front yard. Dad was trimming the hedges and mom was planting some wild flowers. They were really big on the lawn and stuff, which made more work for me, naturally. Just off to the side of the house was a lone basketball pole with a new net on it. I really liked the sound a ball made as it hit the net and nothing else. Unfortunately that didn't happen very often with me.
I stepped up to what I guessed to be the foul line and began shooting what was the first in a long line of misses. Of course, the problem with missing was that you had to go get the ball instead of it coming somewhat back to you.
"You're doing that all wrong."
I turned to look around at the sound of the voice and spotted someone who looked to be my age, about six foot with longish blond hair in a McDonald's arches kind of haircut. He looked to be lean and in shape, and he was the opposite of me. I was about five foot seven, straight brown hair that turned lighter in the summer, and flat gray eyes compared to his sparkling green ones.
"Are you ok? Do you talk?"
I gave myself a mental shake.
"Um, yeah, sorry. Wasn't sure who you were talking to," I mumbled by way of a reply.
"Well, looks like it's just you and me, unless you got someone in your pocket?" he said with a smile. I glanced around and saw that my parents had disappeared at some point.
"Well, the rents were out here a minute ago, so now that I look stupid…." I smiled back at him.
"I'm Nick," he said sticking his hand out.
"Trevor," I said shaking his hand.
"Just moving in?" he asked.
"No, packing up actually," I said.
"Oh, wise guy, huh?" He grinned and swiped the ball out of my hands and glided up to the hoop for an easy lay-up. "And that is how it's done," he said smiling.
"Showoff," I replied. He began dribbling in between his long legs as he distanced himself from the hoop, he turned to take a fade away shot at the hoop while saying, "Now this is showing off!" And he fired at the hoop; the ball arced and rang soundly off the back iron, bouncing high in the air and then off the side of the hoop and over the fence into the back yard. He grinned sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders.
I just laughed. God he was cute! His legs were a beauty all by themselves, and when he jumped and those shorts rode up a bit…heaven.
We went in the back to get the ball only to find my folks had let Zach out and he was nosing the ball.
"Zach, no! You'll slobber on it!" I yelled. Zach looked up at the sound of his name and wagged his tail upon seeing me, then woofed loudly as he spotted the stranger with me. He ran straight at us and I saw Nick moving behind me nervously.
"Does he bite?" He asked.
"Naw, he'd lick you to death though," I said as Zach reached us and began hopping up trying to play with Nick.
"Down you big mutt!" I said playfully, to which he barked again loudly and turned his body into me like a cat. I looked down at him and he continued to wiggle and wag his tail in anticipation of getting petted and or scratched.
"Don't tease him Trevor, give him some love," my mom called out from her spot near the rear deck where she was busily setting up long wooden box planters. At the mention of love Zach barked again and I grinned down at him and began scratching his back, sides and behind the ears. He wiggled and turned in pleasure, grunting on occasion with canine satisfaction.
I saw a third hand come out from behind me, brushing my arm as it passed me, and stroke Zach's ears and the dog was on Nick like white on rice, turning into him like he had me, basking in the attention. My mother walked over, large flowered sun hat askew, and removed her gardening gloves to extend her hand.
"I'm Nick Pederson," he replied shaking her hand and smiling. Man, killer smile too, so not fair!
"Trevor, why don't you get us all some iced tea, dear, it should be ready." I nodded and was about to ask Nick if he wanted a glass when my mother took him by the arm and began speaking as he was led to the small deck and the chair and table set we had.
"So how old are you Nick?" I could hear my mother starting in on him. I wish she wouldn't treat every guy as if he was a possible boyfriend. I swear, sometimes I really regretted having come out to my folks; they were forever looking at any guy I met as if he were a potential mate or something.
I ambled into the kitchen and located the huge pickle jar my mother used to make her sun tea. I added sugar and cut lemon slices for each glass, and then brought them out on a small tray we keep for just such things.
"Wow, what service!" Nick teased.
"Wait'll you see the bill," I muttered.
"Trevor Christopher! You mind your manners!" my mother admonished. Nick leaned back and eyed me.
"It's so hard to find good help, Mrs. Dixon," he said with a fake British accent.
"Oh, you two are made for each other, I can tell!" my mother said throwing up her hands in defeat. We just laughed and I took a seat at the table. My mother sipped her tea and regarded me with an upraised eyebrow. I squirmed under the gaze, I hated that! How do parents do that? They can make you feel guilty with a look, almost makes me feel like I ought to cop to something whether I did it or not.
"So, Nicholas, have you a girlfriend? Or do you spend your summer days wandering and befriending those who can't play basketball?" my mother asked, and cheekily I thought. He went a bit red, but rose to the challenge.
"Yes ma'am, I have a girlfriend, Denise. We've been dating for about three months, but she's away on vacation with her folks so I was looking for guys who might need tips on how to play," he said.
"Well, thanks for the lesson on how to get the ball to go over the fence," I said with a large smile, which was returned by him.
"No problem. Hey Zach? You want to play? You have to be better than this guy!" he called out to the dog, but I got the last laugh there cause Zach knocked him clean out of his chair in his enthusiasm at being summoned. I laughed so hard I felt out of breath and my mom even had to cover her mouth to try and be polite as Zach mauled Nick, almost like Dino from the Flintstones.
My mom called Zach off of Nick but he didn't want to move right away having this nice plaything in front of him, not that I blamed him a bit had I been in his position, but he was eventually persuaded when my mom threatened him with the cage. Nick sat up with such a bemused expression that we were hard pressed not to break out laughing again.
"Well, maybe now you'll get your room, unpacked since you seem to have some help," my mother said brightly. I groaned in response, but decided I could do worse than have Nick in my room, so I offered him a hand up, thrilling in the touch, and led him inside. We swung through the kitchen and refilled our Iced Tea before descending into the basement.
"My domain," I said dramatically, spreading my arms wide.
"Looks like there is a definite cardboard influence on your decorator," he said walking over to sit on the bed.
"Yeah, well, earthy colors you know? I am going for, like, a refugee motif. Fleeing my homeland and all that shit," I said. He looked at me and then burst out laughing, clutching his sides.
"That is so whacked," he managed between fits. "Trev, you are way too funny."
"You making fun of me?" I asked with a mock Brooklyn accent, which just extended his laughing fit.
"What are you doing tonight? I 'm having some guys over for a movie and stuff, you want to come over?" he asked after catching his breath.
"Sure, sounds cool," I said, but inside I was back to square one about having an attraction and knowing he wouldn't be interested right off the bat. But I did need friends, and I liked Nick's personality a lot, so there was no harm there. Oh well, might meet some more people right? We headed up to check with mom and we found her out back, digging in the dirt as she does more often than not.
"Mom? Can I go to Nick's for a movie later on?" I asked, trying to keep the pleading out of my voice.
She turned to give us a sunny smile. "Sure you can sweetie."
"Thanks mom!" I said.
"Just as soon as your room is unpacked you can go," she said as if it had been all one thought.
"Mom!" I exclaimed.
"Yes?" she said, back still turned to me. I didn't want to tell her this was my first friend on the neighborhood and I really wanted to go, at least not in front of Nick. I sighed and headed back to the house.
"Hey," Nick said falling into step with me, "I'll get a couple of the guys to help, eh? You'll be done in no time." He paused, "You won't be able to find anything, but you can come tonight anyways," he said with a sunny grin. It was infectious and my mood lightened considerably. Why can't guys like him be gay? I just want one!
Nick headed out of the yard and I watched him go. He was definitely no trouble to watch, however taken he might be. I saw the shadow of my mothers approaching sunhat, looking for all the world like a spaceship sneaking in to abduct me.
"I like him, do you think he's really dating? Get and good feelings from him?" she asked as she put down her little gardening shovel and three tined rake. I groaned inwardly.
"Mom, why would he lie about dating? And yes, I get good feelings from him, but he's definitely straight," I said taking seat at the table. She sat down as well and began to munch the remaining ice in her glass.
"Well, I can't tell these things, I thought you were straight too, until you told me. How does one know these things?" she asked shrugging her shoulders, "Besides, one of these days whoever you choose will be my in-law for crying out loud, I have to try and steer you towards someone I find suitable!"
"So you think Nick's suitable?" I asked.
"Suitable? He's adorable, honey." She shook her head, "You could do worse!" My dad came out of the garage just then and headed for us.
"Hey, who called break and didn't tell me?" he asked smiling as he took a seat and wiped his brow.
"Trevor has a new friend," my mother interjected.
"Dad, want some Iced Tea?" I asked getting up.
"Sure, thanks Trev. Who's the new guy? Is he good looking?" he asked looking from me to mom. I rolled my eyes and went to get him a glass.
"Honey, me too please," my mother called out shaking her glass from side to side. I returned to retrieve her glass and went inside to fill their orders. I knew I was trapped so I may as well get another glass myself.
I took a seat with them and came in where mom was filling dad in on Nick's details. It was actually kind of funny how cool they were, I think they were flower children once because they can be so laid back about almost anything. Coming out to them wasn't a painful experience like the horror stories you hear where parents get violent at their kid, or beat or throw him out. They treated it like I was telling them I liked driving or something equally everyday. I can honestly say my folks were good people. Anyway, back to the problem at hand.
I brought the glasses out and set them around the table and got thank you's from both of them, they were big on manners my folks were. I sat with them and my dad started in on me.
"So how can you tell he's straight?" he asked. For some reason my folks thought I was an expert on these things.
"Well, the way he blushed when he talked about his girlfriend for one, he obviously likes her. Plus there is the fact he is dating a girl," I said. My father nodded sagely.
"But this guy, physically, is your type?" he asked.
"Well, yeah, he's beautiful to look at. But there's a lot of guys that are beautiful to look at, all shapes and sizes. He's cute though," I said, blushing a bit at the end.
"Interesting, you know it's funny I find this side of your life fascinating, probably because I have never experienced it myself so it's all new. It's undiscovered territory." my father said in a voice that betrayed the fact he was not here at all. He was lost in thought, as he often was, considering endless possibilities and ponderings.
"Don't get any ideas," my mother elbowed him. He started and smiled at her.
"I said it was fascinating, I didn't say it was my cup of tea," he replied to her jab.
"Oh, I hear boys approaching, lets see if we can spot one in this group," my mother said excitedly, as if it was a game show. Spot The Queer!
Six guys rounded the corner and more than a couple were real attention getters. Nick smiled and waved as he crossed the backyard, other guys in tow.
"Welcome back, Nick. This is my husband, Theodore," she said formally.
My father stood and said, "Call me Ted," as he shook Nick's hand.
"Nice to meet you," Nick replied warmly and then started pointing to the guys behind him. "That's Greg, and next to him is Jake Tull, Tommy and Mark Perez, and this guy is Jesse Cantarme," he finished up. They all gave a little wave and my mother stood up, "I'm Althea Dixon, you all know this is Ted, my husband, and of course my son, Trevor." I smiled and waved a bit feeling awkward.
"So, you got a room to unpack?" Mark asked.
"Yeah, Nick said he was too weak to handle it by himself," Tommy said flexing for us.
"Um, yeah, if you guys don't mind," I said shyly.
"Oh, I thought we had to. Come on guys, let's go," Greg said turning on his heel. Jake grabbed him by the shoulder and Greg seemed to stiffen, but not out of anger. Something was going on there.
A chuckle rippled through them and they followed me into the house and down into the basement. We walked into my room and Nick recounted my earlier decorator comments, which drew a round of laughter and then we set to work. The books went to the shelves quickly, the computer was out of it's box and the new computer desk was well on it's way to being assembled. There was much fooling around in this group and they seemed to have a good time rooting through all my stuff and helping me to get it all squared away. After a bout two hours of their help the room was put away, boxes crushed and I think the folks would be satisfied.
"I smell food," Tommy said.
"Like you need anymore, fat ass!" Jesse said to him, to which Tommy pulled up his shirt and shook absolutely nothing as his stomach was tight as a drum.
"Watch it wiggle, see it jiggle," Jake chimed in and they all laughed again.
"Hey! Quit looking at my ass, Tull!" Tommy exclaimed, which sent them into cackles of laughter.
"Who'd want to look at that thing!" Greg cried.
"You know you do, hey, it's ok." Tommy leaned towards Greg lewdly and said, " I understand, it's a nice ass!" Greg rolled his eyes and waved Tommy away while they continued to laugh at the antics.
"What are you doing, trying to steal Greg away from Jake, Tommy?" Nick asked and the laughter continued in it's raucous fashion, although I began to have even stronger suspicions. Greg stuck his tongue out at Nick. We were interrupted by my Dad sticking his head down to window level.
"Hey, we got hot dogs and burgers going, I need someone to go to the store and get mustard and ketchup, Trevor," he said. That was dad's way of asking me to go to the store. "Pick up chips and soda too."
I got up and headed back into the backyard, my new friends in tow. Dad handed me the keys to the car, and old Volkswagen sedan. Dad liked weird cars, so he had the only Quantum known to exist in captivity I think. He was proud of the five cylinder engine because people always gave him an odd look when he said five.
We squeezed into the car, Jake on Greg's lap so there was enough room, and we were off to the grocery store. It tuned out to be fairly close by and uneventful as we swarmed on the store in search of condiments, chips and soda. I watched Greg and Jake together and realization hit me like a thunderclap. They were a couple, no doubt in my mind.
"What are you staring at?" I jumped and turned to see Jesse at my shoulder. I smiled weakly before replying.
"Well, I just saw, I guess Jake and Greg are pretty good friends, huh? Known each other a long time?" I asked, trying to play it off. Don't get me wrong, I am comfortable with who and what I am, but I'm not stupid enough to trumpet it all over the news wires or anything..
"Actually, no. Jake just finished his first year of school here, and he and Greg have been together for about a month I guess," Jesse said casually. Together? Did he just say they were together? I really wanted to talk to them, just to talk to someone else that felt the same way I do, to banish that lonliness of being so unique that you knew no one else like you.
"Um, wow, got along real well I guess, huh?" I said rather than voice my thoughts.
"Well, it took a while," Jesse said as we walked up the condiment aisle, "Jake has this thing, he only talks in song lyrics. Sometimes it's really cool, cause he can sing awesome too, and the words are just better than anything you could say yourself."
"Wow, so it's kinds hard to get through to him, to understand?" I asked as we came upon the mustard.
"Well, no, the hard part was getting Jake to talk. He was really embarrassed. He still is around new people, but you seem to be ok with him," Jesse said.
"That's cool, rather have more friends than enemies," I said placing the mustard in the basket and looking up the aisle for the ketchup.
"So, did you leave a girlfriend behind, where you moved from?" Jesse asked.
"Naw, did a lot of school activities and our place needed a lot of chores done so I really didn't have any time for dating," I said. I had worked this out before we moved so I could be careful about revealing anything I didn't want to.
"Oh," Jesse said sounding slightly depressed. I located ketchup and placed it in the basket. We met Nick, Tommy, and Mark in the soda and chip aisle, they were scanning to see what was on sale and Jake rounded the corner with Greg in his wake holding soda that was on sale by the case. Jessie huddled with Greg and Jake while the stuff was added to the cart and I swear it looked like they were comforting him about something. I wonder what was going on there? None of my business I guess.
We checked out and returned to the house with the squeezing thing in the car again, and we carried the stuff to the backyard. I handed dad the change and receipt as well as his keys.
"Hey, hey looks like everything was on sale. I guess we can afford to feed all of you now," Dad said jovially as he began serving up the hot dogs and hamburgers he had been cooking.
It really is amazing Tommy isn't huge cause he eats like a pig! I have never seen someone so small consume so much! Greg and Jake were side by side, and I think they were holding hands under the table, but I can't be sure. Tommy, Mark and Nick were grouped together, and I won't even tell you the things they were doing. Well, one thing, I wish they'd chew with their mouths closed. Yuck.
I sat next to Jesse since there was a space next to him, and believe me I wasn't bothered a bit. He had these dark curls and olive complexion that made looking at him real easy to do. Plus he was nice, a little bit quiet maybe, but at least he could carry on an intelligent conversation.
"Do you know what movies we're watching tonight?" I asked him.
"Um, if I know Nick it'll be something gory, like all the Hellraiser movies or something like that. He likes all the blood and guts stuff," Jesse said, " I like it too so sleeping over at his place is fun."
"Oh, everybody's sleeping over?" I asked.
"Yeah, didn't he tell you? It'll be late by the time the movies are done," Jesse remarked. He looked across the table at Nick, "Hey, Nick, did you forget to tell Trevor we were supposed to sleep over your place tonight?"
Nick looked momentarily confused and then brightened as he said, "Oh, I guess I did. Can you check with your folks? Um, and I need to use a phone if it's ok." I nodded and led him inside to the kitchen and left him with the phone while I went back out to my folks who were sitting on the railing and chatting with the guys.
"Mom? Can I talk to you a sec?" I asked. I wanted to ask about the sleepover in private, I got the feeling it was a last minute thing and didn't want to give mom ammunition she might use in front of them.
"Mm, sure honey," she said standing up and following me in the sliding door to the garage. As we stepped in we heard Nick's voice floating out the open kitchen door.
"I know it's last minute, mom. But if we aren't doing anything ..." He listened. "Yeah, well, it's like this, mom. Jess said it and I kinda trapped myself. I think he likes the new kid and he's just trying to spend some time with him. Please mom? I committed myself here." He fell silent as I gaped at my mother who smiled at me smugly. "Thanks mom, I really appreciate it. Yeah, I'll tell him. Bye mom, love you."
We stepped out ot the view of the doorway and heard the sliding door to the backyard open and close.
"Well, if you're about to ask if you can spend the night I think we should talk!" My mother said.