Someone Like Me - 8. Chapter 8
As we walked through the front door, I marveled at how quickly I had gotten here. It had only been yesterday that I'd met Malachi. Only yesterday. And now I'm in his house! This is amazing!
His home was warm, and had a unique scent that I liked. The house was the lovely scent of Malachi, seemed to have tripled.
"Hi Mama!" He called out.
"Funny," he noted, "the door was unlocked. She can't have gone out."
"Maybe your Mom's in the bathroom." I suggested. "Or outside in the backyard."
"True." He said, before wandering into a room. "MAMA, are you home?"
His mother was in fact home. She emerged from the kitchen, an apron tied around her. She was a small, round woman, and looked quite Italian. I guessed it was where Malachi got his Italian side from. She had a comforting and warm appeal to her, just like Malachi.
"Mama, this is my friend Jordan. You know, the one I told you about?" Malachi said to her.
Malachi's mother, who had looked a bit confused as to why a stranger was in her house, lit up with joy as she opened up her arms, stepped forward and enveloped me in a hug! I was not expecting that at all! I started feeling a little awkward. I glanced at Malachi who was trying to hold back a giggle at the sight of my discomfort.
"So good to see you." His mother beamed. "Call me Maria, please."
"Uh...hi, Maria." I said.
"You always welcome in our home." She grinned, before turning to her son. "Malachi! Where are your manners? Offer him a drink!"
"Oh, really, I'm fine thanks—" I started, before Malachi turned and actually got me a drink.
"Jordan and I will have to do homework." He said to Maria as he reached for two glasses.
"Ah homework. Good boys." She said, returning to the kitchen.
Once Malachi had filled our glasses with Diet Coke, he took them and we both headed for his room.
"Sorry about her." Malachi said. "It's Italian tradition to greet guests and friends by hugging them."
"It's fine." I said.
His bedroom was small, but comfortable. He had a single-sized bed against the mustard tainted walls, with a bookshelf, drawers and a computer desk on one wall.
"Cool room." I commented.
Malachi smiled. "Thanks. Uh...do you have much homework?"
"Just a bit."
"That's good, because I have some too. Do you wanna do it now or later?"
"Might as well do it now." I said.
We set to work. I sat on his bed and wrote down notes from my History textbook. Malachi was on the computer doing some science research by the look of it. My mind wasn't focused on the homework though. My brain was a cacophony of thoughts, racing around in my head. I'm in Malachi's house. His room is cool. His Mom's a bit weird. Doesn't matter. Malachi's so cute! I like him heaps. He's got curves.
However, there was still one pressing thought that stood out amongst the others. Does he know I'm gay?
The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced. It made me feel so awkward being with him. Was he thinking about me being gay right now? He probably doesn't even know, or have any clue about it.
By now I was tired of thinking about this. He was right there for god's sake! Why can't I just ask him? Of course, I had every good reason not to, but it frustrated me to no end when I mentally fretted over it.
My head shot up from my book to be level with his. Malachi, who had turned around towards me, looked serious and noticeably nervous. Oh no, he's going to ask me now, isn't he? I'm done for...
He looked reluctant, while I was packing myself! I was hoping it would be just a simple, harmless question like: "Would you like more Coke?" or something like that. It wasn't.
"You know, today...when y-you...you ran off..."
Oh god, oh god, oh god, I'm dead...
I nodded timidly in return.
He continued..."yeah, well why did you like, do that?"
As soon as the question registered with my brain, response options lay themselves out before me.
Option One: 'I ran off because I thought you knew I was gay. Do you know?'
Option Two: 'No, what are you talking about?'
This was the option I had thought about before I had gotten in this situation. If I denied everything, insist he's delusional, then perhaps I could get away unscathed. Maybe he'd think I was a bit weird, but so what? Now that I was actually here in front of his curious and deep brown eyes though, I couldn't bring myself to say the half of this option. I panicked suddenly that if I denied everything, he'd see through that and he'd know that I was gay, even though I tried to deny it. So as brilliant as the idea had been at first, I didn't go with it. Which meant that was only one option left.
Option 3: Lie.
"Sorry about that dude, I kinda did leave you behind...but I had to get to my next class because our crabby teacher despises lateness...and she's early there to class, so...I had to ditch."
Malachi stared at me, a level of uncertainty on his face. He slightly cocked his head, which was both extremely cute and extremely frightening.
"Okay." He said. "You could've at least said goodbye though."
"I know, I wasn't thinking." I confessed.
Well, I wasn't confessing, I was totally telling a fib. I'm not one to usually lie, but when the going gets tough, you have to do what you gotta do. I was just glad that Malachi hadn't sniffed it out, although he didn't seem 100% convinced.
"You know what?" I declared, chucking my books on the floor. "I'm done with my homework."
"Let's do something else. Wanna play some computer video games?" Malachi suggested.
He closed the Word window on his laptop and brought up an entire list of games.
He leant back on his chair. "The Steam store is awesome. They have deals for every game. I've got tons here, take your pick."
I glanced through the list. He had so many games I've always wanted to play, or I had enjoyed playing.
Final Fantasy, Half-Life, Uncharted 2, Tomb raider...
"What's that one?" I asked, pointing to a game.
"Portal, you mean?" Malachi asked, allowing the cursor to hover over the game.
"That one is pretty cool, but the second one is much better. You have to solve test chambers using portals, it's pretty mean."
We played the game for about an hour. It had a sense of mystery combined with puzzle, and figuring how to solve the chambers was at first easy, but got increasingly harder. In that hour of gaming, I felt I got a little bit closer to Malachi as we helped each other with the tests. There were a few tantalizing moments when his silky tanned leg brushed against my own, skin against skin. I had nearly whimpered out loud from the otherwise accidental contact. Alongside this, I felt more connected to him. He wasn't an abstract friend now, he was a true friend.
It was about around Test Chamber 15 that I glanced at the time and gasped in panic.
"What's wrong?" Malachi asked.
"Gotta dash. We have a guest for tea tonight." I explained, packing up my books. "Thanks for having me around though."
"That's ok." Malachi said.
However, I noted something different about his tone of voice. He sounded...I don't know.../nervous/, or timid. I tried not to give it a second thought though.
Once ready, I made for the door and called out a thanks to Maria.
"You're not staying any longer?" She called back.
"No, I have guests at our house."
By then, Malachi was with me at the front door.
"Thanks again, Mal." I smiled.
"Cool man. Come around whenever you like, okay?"
I felt really happy about this invitation. "Sweet, I will. See you on the bus tomorrow."
The front door closed behind as I started to head home. The time was nearly 5:00pm, and I reckoned I'd be home five minutes later. Which gave me five minutes to think.
This day had been very interesting, and it has had serious ups and downs. I calculated the total injury I received today by Patrick. One arm twist, one gut punch, one nose crunch and one headache. Brilliant. It nearly was as bad as what I got back at my old school. The difference was though that people knew I was gay in New York. They don't know it here. So why does Patrick target me? Apart from me being a newbie? Could he want something that I have? Does that mean...he's jealous? But about what?
Thinking hard, I tried to find a solution. Then I recalled Monica in my science class, showing me what was on her phone. The FaceBook posts, what seemed like endless streams of teen girls at this school screaming ecstatically about me alongside blurry and sneaky photos of me. There'd surely be more tonight. Hell, it was only my first day yesterday! Already, I was getting special attention I wasn't used too, it made me self conscious. It made me feel both embarrassed and dizzy and I wasn't sure how to handle it. I didn't even know why I was getting the attention. It's like the giggle of girls had never seen another boy in their lives!
"It's because you look hot." Was what Monica had said on paper. Well news flash missy, I'm not! No way in hell am I as cute as Sean or Malachi are. In fact, why don't they target them? Did they get bored with them or something? It really confused me a lot and I just didn't want to think about it. The trouble was I had to, because I had a deep suspicion that this was what Patrick was targeting me for.
Otherwise, it could be the minor thing of me giving him the finger on the bus today that could've triggered him, along with Malachi announcing how much of a jerk he was.
I decided that I'd had enough of this mess. I needed to ignore Patrick, ignore the teen girl fans and focus on making friends and easing into school life well. So far with that, I had to say I was pretty pleased with myself. New friends, check. Homework in order, check. And the things being taught weren't that's difficult so far either.
I stopped short as I turned into the driveway. Mum's car was here. She was early home from the airport. I began to panic. She would want to know where I was. I need an excuse to be out! Think...think...
Just then, a jogger across the street crossed by, holding on a beagle on a leash. Lightbulb moment.
After running the block, I staggered to a slow walk upon entering the property of my home. Boy I was unfit. Never mind, my excuse was in tact now.
I opened the front door. "Hi Mom!"
I heard chatter in the living room, as I pulled my shoes off. No response from Mom. Or Dad, if he was here. I made over to the living room, curious.
The first thing I saw was Mom and Dad sitting on their own sofa's, with another person I didn't recognize.
"Ah, there you are Jordan." Mom said. "Where have you been?"
I looked down at Mom as she gave me a patronizing stare. The thing with Mom is that whenever a guest is around, she'll act lovely even though I would be doing something wrong. The hidden message for me to stop doing what I was doing was in her eyes, and that's how I'd tell that I was annoying her. She could've told the most sweetest thing ever to my face, but it the true meaning was revealed in the sparkle of her eyes.
That was the stare she gave now, yet she was still smiling.
"I just went out for a run." I said to her. "I didn't know you'd be home this early."
Mom gave me an odd look. "You don't go for a run very often."
My father interrupted, "Mr Crombie, perhaps you'd like to chose a beverage before we have dinner?"
At that, Dad and the stranger who I assumed was Mr Crombie rose and headed for the bar. /Yes, we have one of those. Doesn't mean we're rich, we're just financially fortunate./
But now it was just me left with a dragon.
"Well I'm just gonna head off to my room." I said, starting to turn.
"Jordan, why now do you decide it's a good idea to go for a run before we had a guest for dinner?" Mom hissed. "I can literally see the B.O rising from your body!"
"I didn't know you'd be home early." I protested.
"Mr Crombie's plane arrived sooner than expected. Now stop standing there and go get changed into something tidy and clean yourself up."
I sighed and turned to leave.
"And Jordan." She said. "Be good for the guest. He's an important person."
Once she had said this, I continued toward my room. God, I hate Mom! Well, at least I had gotten myself out of trouble...just. As far as Mom knew, I had gone out for a run, but only at an inconvenient time. She had no idea I had been to Malachi's house.
I was still getting over that myself. I've actually gone to Malachi's house, I thought. This is sooo cool!
It had only been the second day of school. There would have to be a strong connection if he wanted to invite me over. Why did he do that? All we did was homework and video games. There was nothing too special that was shared between us.
Actually, what am I doing here? Why am I thinking like this? Since the first day, I've been checking out others through admiring eyes. I should really be focused on getting good, supportive friends. Why do I have to seek out a boyfriend? Really, I don't have to. So why am I pulled so much to Sean and Malachi like they are candidates for the Boyfriend Factor?
It's because they are smoking hot and they quite like me. I realized.
When I see Malachi, I feel like I want to embrace him in a hug and absorb his boyish warmth, inhaling his magnetising scent through my nostrils. I want to hear him speak, and I like how he listens to me as if I'm the most important thing. He makes me feel so good.
And when I lay my eyes on Sean, the smile that forms on my face is unstoppable, matching his joyful grin. The sparkle of keen interest and undoubted intelligence in the iris of his eyes make me shiver as they gaze into me. His charm and charisma compel me to him, and if I ever could, even if for just a tiny chance, I would kiss him with lust.
And that is my hope. Two hopes actually. And I want at least one to come true.
For now though, I think I've made good friends with them both. They like me as I like them (well, at least I hope they do), and I can tell I will fit well with the both of them. Now all I need is courage, and a miracle, and I'd be in heaven.
Twenty minutes later, everyone was at the dinner table. A light salad was being served as our entree, which was quite posh and still delicious. Did you know we have our own chef too? Well, we don't use him all the time, but mostly we do. Dad is not one to cook and Mom is far too busy to do something menial, as she'd put it. As if manicures and media conferences were far more important than sustaining your own family.
I looked over at Mr Crombie. I didn't know much about him. Middle-aged, a tidy, short beard coated on the edges of his face, and an entrepreneur. Mom had said he was important because he was a big client of Dad's, and I could tell that was undeniably true. His wealth seemed to radiate from his body like an aurora.
"Beautiful appetizer this is." He commented.
"Do thank our chef then. He's the one preparing our meal tonight." Mom replied, as her fork stabbed at a shrimp laying on a wavy lettuce leaf.
Dad had just finished the entree himself. "Now Mr Crombie, I believe there is a legal matter we have to discuss. You're saying people are trying to sue you?"
Crombie nodded as he finished his mouthful. "Scandals, I tell you. So intent on finding the wrong in my business that they've taken every measure."
"What are they suing you for?" Dad asked.
Out of the corner of my eye, Mom stiffened. Dad's impassiveness seemed to dissipate by only a fraction.
"Why is that?" Victor asked.
Crombie answered, "It's the satisfaction of seeing me behind bars is what those horrible scandals want. They're trying as best as they can to expose me for a liar, that I didn't invent and mass-produce an ointment that will remove adverse side effects of cancer treatment, as if I was just creating a placebo effect. It was after a couple of reports saying that the ointment didn't work on them, and now they and scandals from opposing companies are going to take me to court!"
As he said this, the main course was being served by the chef. The aromatic smell of Roast Beef wafted through my nostrils alongside vegetables and potatoes. No one was really paying attention to this though.
"This seems like something I can defend you on." Dad said as he pushed his unfinished salad entree away. "I will need the names of the opposing companies, board of trustees and details like those."
It was a marvel to watch my father deliberate. As we sat and ate, Dad planned and schemed legal defenses like a pro. Mom had her occasional input too but I never spoke up. I remember one time I asked a question to a guest which I thought was sensible, only to find it wasn't when Mom gave me a sharp stare.
Later that night, I was working on some Science homework when one of the notes Monica had passed on to me caught my eye. Everyone's into you. The memory of my discovery resurfaced in my mind.
Why do all these girls like me so much? It can't be just because I'm 'hot', which i do not believe.
I tapped at the paper a little more, remembering the Facebook posts. I looked up at my laptop, sitting blankly on my desk.
I made my decision. With a push of a button, my laptop awoke, and in the next minute, I was logged in and at the home screen. I clicked on the web browser and searched for Facebook. I didn't have a Facebook myself because my parents said no way. Just a chance for cyber-bullying, she had said. But I knew could still surf the social network regardless, even though sign-in prompts popped up. I made a search for my name.
SEARCH: Jordan Brooks
The cursor steadily hovered over the little magnifying glass beside the search tab, but already, suggestions appeared. Glancing through them, many seemed to be other random Jordan Brooks guys. That's when I spotted a picture of me, and my name. I tentatively clicked on it.
It was an actual page. There was my school ID photo as the main picture, while the background picture had a dodgy side photo of me. THE JORDAN FAN CLUB, the title read.
Scrolling down, there were posts from girls at our school.
Hey Jordan, wanna go out with me? #HotBF*
*I'm sad because Jordan doesn't have Facebook.
And then more importantly:
Jordan got bullied by that asshole Patrick Pierce. Hope he's alright, don't want my crush to be hurt.
The whole incident with me and Patrick today was repeatedly posted. I couldn't believe how much popularity it was getting. I scrolled down some more, my mind sifting through the hoards of posts about me.
My scrolling stopped almost immediately when I found the post I had been looking for. And what an effort it was to get there! The post had Haley Rose's profile name and picture, followed by the post about her wanting to be my 'lab partner.' I clicked on the comments drop-down link with tentative anticipation.
There he was. A comment from Lain Gordon. It said: I know that guy from my home room. I gave him crap for sitting in my mate's seat yesterday. I think he's okay though.
I didn't know what I was expecting from Lain anyway, so I shouldn't have been surprised. I'd had enough now, I couldn't bear to read anymore. The more I did read, the more afraid I got. What happened with blending into the background like I wanted to do right from the start? Now it seems I'm the foreground. It makes me feel so self-conscious, because if I do anything wrong at school, all eyes will be on me. Is this why Patrick bullies me? Did he have attention he wanted to earn back? I had no idea, and I couldn't just ask him unless I wanted another beating.
So I shut down the web browser and downloaded the game that Malachi and I played earlier. Once I had it, I began to play, recalling what I had to do to solve the tests as I knew from playing with Malachi. But playing it now wasn't the same as it was when I was with him. I couldn't laugh with him when the computer voice said something strange. I couldn't share in the exhilarating moment when one or both of us figured out what to do. I couldn't do that because I was playing by myself, and the game didn't seem as good as it was with him. It was about then that I realized something.
I miss him.
The next morning, I met Malachi at the bus stop.
He raised his eyebrows. "You're still taking the bus?"
I nodded. "You bet. I like to live dangerously."
We laughed as the bus pulled up. We began boarding. My eyes swept around the inside.
"Patrick doesn't seem to be here." I commented.
"Don't push your luck." Malachi warned. "He could still be in here."
But as it turned out, he wasn't. Malachi and I sat down at a seat near the front, him at the window seat, as the bus rumbled off. Malachi began talking about some movie he watched last night, but I tuned out. I really wanted to ask him something that I needed to hear.
"...and he literally flipped the car right over this guy! It was amazing, but totally unbelievable. It was really-"
"Hey Malachi can I ask you something?"
He stopped and looked at me. "What's that?"
"Uh...do you have Facebook? Have you seen anything about me on there?" I asked.
I felt bad for butting in but I couldn't bear to hold it in any longer. However, Malachi seemed to be puzzled.
"No, I haven't seen anything about you. I'm not on Facebook."
"Nope, I just don't have the time. And social media isn't my thing."
"Oh okay. Never mind, I was just wondering."
Malachi looked a little uncomfortable though. His eyes shifted around the bus. I didn't ask if he was okay or not, otherwise he might've thought I was staring at him like a creep. But the whole Facebook thing bugged me still, and I could sense that people were watching me. Mainly girls. It scares me because if people thought hard about this, they would soon find out I was gay. Whoever has a horde of girls on your back like I do and not have a girlfriend? So should I protect my safety and go out with one of them? Actually, there was no way in hell I'd be doing that. Plus, I would much prefer a boyfriend.
It's the trouble with being a closeted gay. You have to protect yourself, otherwise you'll be exposed. But then again, what if I want to expose myself to the right person that I think will at least accept me for it? I've been thinking that my hotter than hell friend Sean Chrystal is just that, the one who I would want to get to know and be with more. Malachi was secondary.
As I looked with wonder at the boy sitting next to me, now nervously looking out the window, similar to when I first laid my eyes on him, the thought presented itself before me.
Could it be though, that I should be focusing my attention on Malachi?
Chapter 9 coming soon guys!
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