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Discoveries - 1. Chapter 1

Chapter I A Little Alone Time

I slept long and peacefully that night, without a care in the world. It wasn’t until early Saturday morning, while I lay in bed half asleep, that I started to think about the day before. Jesse and I had made some serious physical contact. Whether it fell under the label of sex or not, really didn’t matter--it had been an experience beyond my wildest dreams! At that moment, the whole issue of my sexual identity could be swept under the rug--I didn’t care! It didn’t bother me that I had kissed a boy--I had kissed Jesse, and it had been absolutely thrilling in every way imaginable. I loved the feel of his flesh against mine, I loved his taste, his scent, and the sheer beauty of his physical presence. But every touch, every kiss, every caress, came with a more profound sensation, one that seemed to touch my very soul.

It sounds stupid, I know. How many thirteen year old boys thought much about their immortal souls? Until Jesse had come along, it had all been a lot of religious clap trap to me. It was something they blathered on about in Catechism classes, at church, and even on those endless religious programs on TV, but it had nothing to do with my life.

My father had cheated on my mom, all the while pretending to be the thoughtful husband and the loving, caring father. While I believed that my father still loved me, and deep down, even my mother, it was clear to me that he had simply moved on when a more interesting opportunity came along. Maybe there were some pangs of guilt, but they weren’t enough to stop him. He was a Catholic too, and took his turn at usher and went to Confession and took Holy Communion, but did he ever stop to consider what he was doing in terms of his own eternal soul? Yeah, right...If there was a God, why would He put my mother through all that pain? Why would He let my father move to the other side of the country, simply to become a name I saw scribbled on the front of a check every few weeks?

None of it made any sense, until Jesse walked into my life. My first impression of him was as an angel, because of his sheer physical beauty, his intelligence, and even his wisdom, but I had learned that he was very much human--complete with self doubts, guilt, and a former life rife with the darkest aspects of the human condition.

And yet, could it have been anything less than divine intervention that brought us together? That caused two thirteen year old boys who led very different lives, in two very different places, to meet and fall deeply in love? As I look back past these last thirty years, I see clearly now, what I must have known mostly by instinct back then. Not to say that I didn’t appreciate what we had, even then, but to realize now how young we were, it proves to me that there was clearly a Power at work in our lives. It didn’t protect us from harm, or shelter us from the ugliness of the world, or keep us from corruption, but it let us touch each others’ souls in a way I think few in this world ever experience, even in a whole lifetime...But I digress...

After a hearty breakfast of French Toast, scrambled eggs, sausage, and orange juice, my mom drove me to a special basketball practice at school. I sat next to her in a daze, going over everything that had happened yesterday afternoon.

“Mrs. Taylor is a remarkable woman,” my mom said with unabashed admiration for Jesse’s mom. They had spent nearly three hours locked in deep conversation the night before, and while the somber, hushed tones they often spoke in, indicated topics quite serious in nature, there had also been moments of levity with the sound of laughter coming from the patio or the kitchen or wherever they happened to be at the time. I was glad that they had gotten along so well. “She’s done so much with so little.”

“Jesse told me a few things...” I said vaguely, not sure what my mom knew.

“So you know about his father?” she asked.

I said I did. Jesse’s dad had been sent to prison for a long time--something to do with drugs.

“Mrs. Taylor has been very worried about Jesse,” my mom said hesitantly.

“Why?” I asked, surprised to hear that. “He’s probably the smartest guy in our class. He’s a blackbelt in karate, he’s funny, and he loves to read the same stuff as me!” I rattled off.

“Yes, he does sound like a remarkable boy,” my mom agreed, “and I didn’t even know about the karate...although Mrs. Taylor did mention that Jesse had been in some bad fights back in Illinois.”

We drove quietly for a while, getting close to the school now.

“She told me Jesse had been very depressed for some time, and when Mrs. Taylor made the decision to move out here, it seemed to get even worse. She was considering trying to find some kind of counseling for him--family counseling actually.”

“I...I didn’t know that,” I said, somewhat stunned to think of my beautiful angel as being seriously depressed.

“But then something happened. She noticed a change coming over him after he started going to St. Boniface. He started talking about you, Perry. How you had come up to him on his first day and invited him to sit with your friends at lunch...”

Was I blushing? God, I hoped not!

“...About the time you went to the movies with Tom and Gene...And how much he wanted to come over yesterday afternoon. You know that for a struggling single mom like Mrs. Taylor, hiring a babysitter, especially when you have a fully capable teenager at home, is an expensive luxury.”

“I know--Jesse told me,” I answered guiltily, remembering how Jesse had tried to hide the existence of his sister from me, just so that we could spend time together.

“Well, having seen the change in Jesse’s personality over the past few weeks, the improvement in his grades, his attitude--everything, she couldn’t deny him.”

As we pulled up in the school parking lot, my mom turned to me, her face beaming.

“Mrs. Taylor is so grateful that you befriended Jesse,” she said proudly. “She told me you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to him!”

I swallowed a huge lump in my throat, and I felt the burning on my cheeks that indicated that I was blushing like crazy.

“Don’t be embarrassed, you silly teenager,” my mom scolded me lightly. “It’s a wonderful thing you’ve done, befriending a boy from another state, someone who’s had a very hard life.” She turned to smile at me. “I’m so proud of you, honey!" And my mom gave me a big hug right there in the school parking lot, and I had to admit it felt pretty good. How could I tell her that what she perceived as a noble act, was for me, simply the unavoidable and irresistible reaction to encountering the boy--the person--of my dreams!

“It’s okay, mom,” I said, pushing away before one of my team mates spotted us. “Jesse’s cool and we like hanging out together.”

“That’s so wonderful,” my mom said with a big smile.

“Oh, and I promised Jesse I’d give him my old computer. It’s not like we’re using it or anything and--”

“I know,” my mom interrupted calmly. “I think it’s a very good idea--but you also have to understand that Mrs. Taylor is a very proud woman, a very strong person who’s overcome many obstacles and works very hard to support her family. It might be hard for her to accept...gifts from others.”

“Yeah, that’s what Jesse said. And I think he’s a lot like that too, except I know that he really wants the computer!”

“I’m sure we’ll be able to work it out, but be patient and understanding, that’s all I ask.”

“Yeah, I get it,” I said regretfully. “I wish money wasn’t such a big deal all the time...”

“I know it seems like it is most of the time, but look at your friendship--it’s not based on money at all, is it?”

That made me feel better--leave it to mom to point out the obvious! I smiled and gave her a quick peck on the cheek before bolting out the car door. I felt like, if we kept talking about Jesse, I was going to start blubbering right there in front of her! Everything that had to do with Jesse triggered powerful emotional responses in me. It was definitely a strange and new experience for me.

Of course, all day Sunday, all I could think about was calling Jesse. The morning was pretty much out of my control: Mass, choir practice(my mom--not me!), and lunch with some church people. But in the afternoon, Morgan stopped by for an hour or so and we shot hoops and traded a little gossip as we often did on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Morgan was a bit more plugged in than I was, and he also went out on the occasional date (I wasn’t exactly sure how fourteen year olds went out on dates, but that’s what he called them!). I knew he had been out with Melissa and maybe Jessica, and I think he was starting to hang with Katy (which made me feel a little jealous), but I didn’t think he was into any serious relationships yet.

“You know, there’s more than one girl in our class that has the hots for you!” Morgan informed me as we sat at the patio table sipping Cokes after our workout.

I immediately felt myself blush and I knew Morgan had seen it.

“You’ve got to get out there, Perry,” Morgan encouraged me, sounding very jock-like at the moment. “Your as good lookin’ as they come, and I bet anyone you asked would go out with you.”

Did Morgan call me ‘good looking?’ I decided to ignore that, but only externally.

“It’s easier to hang out with you guys,” I said honestly.

“I know what you mean,” Morgan agreed. “When your on a date with a girl, you always have to be thinking: does she like what I’m wearing? Am I supposed to say something about her clothes or her hair? Does she really want to do whatever I want, or is she trying to telepathically communicate something else?”

We both laughed.

“What a lot of work!” I complained.

“Still--there are rewards...” Morgan let his sentence dangle with intrigue.

“Anything you care to share with your team mate?” I pressed him.

Now it was Morgan’s turn to blush. Despite his brash talk, he was actually a very sensitive soul, and, with the caveat that he was a horny fourteen year old teenager, a gentleman to boot.

“It’s not nice to kiss and tell--teeheehee!” he said in a high pitched, feminine voice.

So he left me wondering which girls were interested in me. Of course, I wanted it to be Katy Mulroney, even though I wasn’t the least bit interested in going out on a date with her at this point. I wanted to tell Morgan that I was already way past that--I was in love! I thought Morgan was so cool, that I even toyed with the idea of telling him about Jesse and me. But the fear of our secret getting out, and the possibility of being labelled a ‘fag’ was just too much of an obstacle, so I pushed the idea to the back of my mind.

Finally, after dinner, I went up to my room and called Jesse. He sounded distracted though.

“Hey dude,” Jesse answered.

“Hey there yourself,” I retorted.

“Uh...yeah...look...Maybe I should try to call you back later. My mom’s still at work and I’m trying to get Miranda to start getting ready for bed--and it’s not going too well...”

I was disappointed after waiting all weekend to hear his voice, but tried not to show it. I had to respect the way he handled the responsibilities of his life and I felt a little guilty just thinking about my own selfish needs.

“I understand one hundred percent,” I replied quickly. “Call me later if you get a chance. If not...well, I’ll see you on Tuesday, ‘kay?” Monday was Columbus Day, and mom and me were rocketing off to hang with the relatives up in Ventura County.

“I really do want to talk to you,” Jesse said with some emotional emphasis. I guess I hadn’t hid my disappointment as well as I had thought. “I’m not trying to blow you off or anything...I still have a bit of housework to catch up on after I get Miranda settled--but I’ll call if it’s not too late.”

Now I just felt bad, kicking myself for thinking that Jesse had nothing else to do but yap on the phone with me. What a shitty, self involved person I was!

“Okay,” I answered, trying to swallow my emotions. I tried to add, I love you, Jesse , but somehow that seemed so selfish right now, and somehow inappropriate. “Bye,” I said, and quickly hung up.

I got ready for bed and tried to distract myself by reading the new Dune book. Around ten thirty, my cellphone rang. I knew my mom wouldn’t normally approve of me being on the phone this late, but there was no school tomorrow, so I figured it would be okay. After all, she liked Jesse too.

“Hey,” came the quiet, raspy voice of my favorite teenager.

“Thanks for calling back,” I said, making my words sound as sincere as I could.

“Yeah, I know, it’s getting late, but I just wanted to...you know...hear the sound of your voice before I went to bed.” Was he blushing over there?

“Same here...” I said, my heart pounding excitedly in my chest.

“Look, I know a lot of things happened on Friday and I just wanted to say...” There was a long pause as Jesse searched for the right words. “I don’t even know what I want to say!” he said with exasperation. “I hope I didn’t come on too strong...”

I could tell Jesse was having those feelings of guilt again--that he was dragging me down somehow, that he wasn’t good enough for me.

“My mom really likes you,” I said, changing the subject.

“That’s cool,” came the genuinely flattered response.

“And she likes your mom a lot too--I think they’re going to be friends.”

“Yeah, maybe...” Jesse replied skeptically. “Your mom’s a little better class of people than she’s used to hanging around with...”

”Jesse, dammit! Don’t put your mom down like that! She’s an incredible person! I don’t even know the half of what she’s been through, but look how she was able to bring you and your sister out here, and get you into St. Boniface and--”

”Don’t be angry, Perry!” Jesse’s fearful voice interrupted. “I...I mean,” he stammered, “It was meant as...” He paused, getting control of himself. “It was wrong--I apologize,” he said rather defeatedly.

Would all our conversations for now on be this emotionally charged?

“Oh, Jesse,” I said, giving in to the powerful emotions I was feeling. I was especially vulnerable anytime Jesse felt bad about something. That just killed me. “I’m sorry I yelled at you-- it’s just that you mean so much to me, and if it wasn’t for your mom, maybe we’d never have met!” I explained, choking up a little.

There was a rather long pause, and I used it to try and pull myself back together. I was beginning to realize that truly being love might mean more than just skipping through a field of daisies and holding hands...

“You’re too good for me, Perry--I mean it!” His voice was firm but not sad. “But I have to admit...I’m in pretty much the same boat as you--I can’t get you out of my head.”

I loved hearing him speak my name. It made me feel absolutely special. “That’s just fine with me,” I replied.

“So, I guess I’ll see you on Tuesday...” he said, his voice sounding tired now.

“Yeah, usual time, usual place,” I said with exaggerated weariness, but feeling the true grogginess that proceeds some much needed sleep.

“Maybe I’ll show you something I’ve been working on,” Jesse said cautiously.

I was suddenly wide awake and totally intrigued.

“What?!” I asked, actually sitting up in bed. “What is it?”

“It’s not even finished yet!” Jesse replied enigmatically. “I’m pooped. Gotta get to bed,” he insisted, closing the subject for the night.

Damn! How could he do this to me? “You bastard!” I whispered, half laughing with frustration. “I’ll lie awake all night wondering what the hell it is!”

“Well, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything...”

It was maddening!

“I don’t even know if I should show you...”

“Oh, you’ll show me or...or...” I stammered.

“Or you’ll what?” Jesse asked in a more lighthearted tone.

“I’ll tell everyone your a blackbelt!”

”Perry...” Jesse said, suddenly serious again.

That had been a mistake. “Didn’t mean that, Jesse,” I apologized as sincerely as I could. Kicking myself, kicking myself, kicking...

“Anyway, you’ll probably think it’s stupid--I mean, really stupid,” Jesse replied.

“If it’s something you did, something you created--I’ll love it,” I insisted, remembering the picture he drew of Jackie Chan shouting: ‘Go, Perry!’ I’d already taped it up next to my bed. (That wasn’t too weird, was it?)

Jesse sighed. “Yeah, well, we’ll see....” I heard him yawn. (Yes, it was a very cute yawn!)

“I’m going to go to sleep thinking about your beautiful ass,” I said, only half teasingingly.

“Hey, I’m not responsible if you wake up screaming in the middle of the night!” Jesse giggled.

“Beautiful--hot--ass,” I said, quietly emphasizing each word.

“Whatever--I’m still going to get my revenge for that!” he reminded me.

“Goodnight, Jesse,” I sighed.

“G’night, Perry...”

Monday we spent with my mom’s folks up in Ventura County. While Columbus Day wasn’t considered a big ‘get together’ kind of holiday, it happened to be around my grandma’s birthday, so it had become an excuse for family and some friends to spend a day together. My grandparents had a really nice Mediterranean style house within a couple hundred yards of the Pacific Ocean. We’d be joined by my mom’s brother-- my Uncle Ron, his wife, and his two boys. Whether my mom’s younger sister-- my Aunt Rosemary--would show up, was always anyone’s guess, since she lived up in the Bay area. It was a three hour drive from Santa Corina, so I spent most of the trip dozing.

When we arrived, a little before lunch time, there were various relatives milling about--people I had known all my life, including kids of various ages, but the only one I really got along with was my twelve year old cousin, Derrin. He was thin, with blonde hair that was always meticulously spiked. He had a cute triangular face that ended in a pointy little chin. He was supreme master of anything that had the name ‘Nintendo’ stamped on it, and I was the only one in the clan that even presented a challenge for him. He had brought along a couple different game systems, and already had them hooked up to the big TV in the den by the time we arrived. He seemed happy to see me, and I had a controller in my hand before I even had a chance to take off my jacket.

My obsessive need to beat my younger cousin at any game I possibly could, helped to keep my mind off of Jesse for a while. Still, I couldn’t keep him out of my head for very long. I managed to sneak out after lunch, planning to take a quiet stroll along the beach. As I left the backyard and started down the long flight of wooden stairs that led to the sand, I was surprised to see Derrin’s older brother, Josh, making out with someone I had never seen before. I assumed it was his girlfriend, since Josh had recently turned sixteen.

They were on the sand, tucked away against the exposed framework of the staircase, clinging tightly to each other, kissing away like there was no tomorrow. I think they were as surprised as I was. When they first heard my footsteps thudding on the wooden planks of the upper landing, they suddenly looked up. The expressions on their faces were clearly those of guilty surprise. I guessed they had probably been told not to try anything like this up here at grandma and grandpa’s house. They had probably snuck out while everyone else was eating lunch, and had lost track of the time.

If it had been only a month earlier, I probably would have giggled at them like a little kid, and ran back to the house, shouting that Josh and his girlfriend were making out on the beach--come and see! But now, catching these two young lovers expressing their feelings in the most direct way they knew how, made me sympathetic to their situation. If I could be alone with Jesse right now, I’d be doing the exact same thing (at least!).

“Sorry, guys,” I said, smiling sheepishly, trying not to stare. I just made my way deliberately down the long flight of white painted stairs, avoiding making any eye contact. Only when I had reached the sand, did I look Josh in the eye. Josh had the same blonde hair and triangular face as his younger brother, only his hair was curly and he wore it long enough so that it fell over his ears. He had some intense brown eyebrows, a straight nose and a killer smile.

“Sorry dude, I was just going for a walk,” I explained calmly, not wanting to sound like I disapproved of what I had seen.

When Josh saw how cool I was taking the whole thing, he gave me a knowing grin.

“No biggie, Perry. This is Hannah, by the way,” he said, introducing me to the slender, dark haired gal still standing with her arms loosely draped over Josh’s shoulders.

“Hey Perry, nice to meet you,” she said with what seemed like a relaxed smile.

“Well, I’m just going for a walk,” I repeated, feeling bad that I had interrupted their privacy. “See ya later!” I quickly turned and headed towards the shoreline.

Even though it was only the middle of October, the beach itself was quite cool, with occasional gusty breezes chilly enough to make me shiver in my hooded warm-up jacket. It was a very rocky area, and the waves crashed noisily when they ran up against them. The seagulls circled around, occasionally letting out a lonely sounding screech. The only other sound was the crunch of the gritty wet sand under my sneakers as I walked as close to the shore as I dared without getting soaked. Even though it was a holiday, there were few people around. While no one could own the coast, the area around here was all residential, and the nearest public beach was about two miles to the south.

I found myself going over all the events that had occurred since that day, nearly a month ago, when Jesse had walked into my life. Even though it was a time of great confusion for me, it was also the first time I truly had climbed aboard the intense emotional rollercoaster that was part of being a young teenager. I had cried uncontrollable tears of despair, simply imagining that Jesse might not care for me as deeply as I did for him. Of course, that turned out to be a total delusion on my part. He really did care for me, and that thought warmed me from the inside, despite the chilly winds blowing in from the Pacific.

I thought about the incredible evening at the mall. It had started out as a simple excursion to see a movie with a few friends, and had ended with Jesse and I being ambushed by high school bullies in the bathroom. While I was the recipient of one painful sucker punch in the gut, Jesse had displayed to me for the first time, his amazing martial arts abilities, laying out two of the huge thugs as if they were mere rag dolls.

Despite the troubled feelings Jesse had about the whole episode, it at the very least served to cement the bond of our friendship. By the time we were actually able to spend an afternoon together, two weeks later, all the feelings and urges that we had built up since the beginning, were released in a whirlwind of physical and emotional passion. Hugging and french kissing soon gave way to much more intimate pursuits. We had our first shared orgasms--even though I hadn’t been fully able to come to terms with my own sexual inhibitions.

Despite the unmitigated lust that threatened to plunge me into uncontrollable sexual ecstasy, I was still reluctant to go all the way, and I later told Jesse so. Of course, he was completely understanding and supportive of my feelings. This revelation on my part prompted Jesse to share some of his life story with me, and it was a painful, but ultimately rewarding experience for both of us. It occurred to me now, as I strolled along in my own little world of gritty wet sand and crashing waves, that it didn’t need to be a one sided relationship, with Jesse playing the part of the perfect adolescent boy: physically beyond compare, highly intelligent, sometimes shy, sometimes audacious, with a sharp wit and a mastery of the martial arts that would make Jackie Chan envious, while I worshipped the ground he walked on. I realized that he needed me as a stabilizing force in his life. He needed my support and affection and that, despite whatever my many human inadequacies might be, made me feel that I had something to offer him in return.

After an hour or so of walking along the rugged coastline, the cold was really starting to get to me, so I turned around and headed back towards my grandparents’ house. About half way there, I spied a small, hooded figure making its way towards me. After a few minutes, I recognized that it was Derrin. When he realized that I had spotted him, he hurried along to catch up to me.

“Hey dude, why’d you run off?” he asked, turning to walk back with me towards the house. “You left me with all those pathetic dweebs--I had to wipe the floor with their asses on NBA All-Stars, because you decided to bail on me!” he chided.

“Sorry dude,” I said quietly, only slowly coming out of my meditative reverie. “I just wanted a little alone time, I guess.”

“That’s cool,” Derrin nodded approvingly, his hands stuffed in the pockets of his jacket. “What’cha thinkin’ about?”

“Who said I was thinking about anything?” I asked guardedly.

Derrin shrugged as he kicked a piece of driftwood out of our path. “Why else would you want to be alone?” he asked.

Sharp kid, I thought. Still, I didn’t really feel much like talking.

“Thinkin’ about your girlfriend?” Derrin probed.

I stopped in my tracks and gave him a scrutinizing look. “Why would you say that?”

Derrin shurgged and started walking again. Now I was the one who had to catch up to him. “What else would a guy be thinkin’ about?”

“You’re just twelve. You should be thinking about how you’re going to get the high score on the new game at the arcade.”

Derrin laughed through his nose. “No thinkin’ involved there, cous. I just put my hands on those controls, and everything just seems to take care of itself.”

“That’s quite a gift you have,” I said with genuine admiration. What adolescent didn’t dream about putting his initials up on the screen in the number one slot of the most popular games at the local arcade for all to see?

“It’s easy--girls are hard.”

“What’s all this about girls?” I asked, my curiosity finally piqued.

Now Derrin stopped and turned to look at me. “I’ve got a girlfriend, you know,” he said, as if it should be old news to me. Getting no immediate response from me, he went on. “Yeah, she’s hot and all, but she won’t let me touch her boobs. Is your girlfriend like that?”

Gees, this was getting way to personal way too quick. “Why’re you so interested in girls’ boobs for?” I asked, barely able to keep from smiling. My dad would have said, ‘this kid’s a real pistol!’

“Why not? I mean, girls have boobs; we don’t. I wanna know what they feel like.”

“You’ve told her this?” I asked hesitantly.

Derrin shrugged and looked down, scuffing at the sand with the toe of his sneaker. “Nah, it’s kinda hard...”

Finally, something I could get a handle on. “Maybe you shouldn’t be in such a rush,” I suggested.

“What d’ya mean?” he asked, his face now looking more like the freckled face boy I knew than the skirt chaser walking beside me today.

“I’m just saying, maybe you should take it slow. Girls want to know that you care about them. They want to go places with you, hold hands, talk about their feelings...”

“Feelings suck,” Derrin proclaimed.

I didn’t know what to make of that, so I just ignored it. “My point is, if you show this girlfriend of yours that you really care about her, about what she likes and dislikes, what she’s feeling, then the other things will come in time.”

“What things?”

“You know, hugging, kissing...”

“Boob squeezing!” Derrin laughed.

“Yeah, boob squeezing,” I said, laughing along with him as we approached the house. Derrin had certainly matured since the last time I’d seen him, which was last spring. Then, his only thoughts had been about getting the new Zelda game, and all the secret codes he’d gotten for it off the internet.

“You’re very cool, Perry,” Derrin said with boyish admiration. “I bet your girlfriend lets you squeeze her boobs all the time!”

“Fuck all this boob squeezing talk!” I said, jogging towards the back of the house. “I’m gonna get the blue controller and kick your ass across the basketball court!”

“No way!” Derrin responded with a big smile, anxious to take up my challenge.

I had to admit, it wasn’t that horrible going to school on Tuesday, after a three day weekend, knowing that I’d see Jesse. I was dying to know what he had been talking about on the phone the other day. He had said he was working on something that he wanted to show me. If he wasn’t a blackbelt, I’d probably try ambushing him at lunch. But to my disappointment, all he would say on the subject was: “It’s not done yet!” accompanied by an enigmatic smile.

Ironically, I was the one who sort of ended up getting ambushed. It was as we were finishing up lunch and getting ready to head back to class. Jesse and I tried not to follow each other around too closely at school, knowing that it would look weird. He had already gone inside, and I was just getting my afternoon books out of my locker. Our lockers were lined up along an open corridor with an overhanging eave to keep out the occasional rain. As eighth graders, we were the only ones in the school to get full lockers. The seventh and the sixth graders had half sized lockers stacked on top of each other, with the seventh graders on top. Like I said before, it was a small school.

I had just slammed the locker door closed when I turned and almost bumped into Morgan and Katy.

“Shit! What’re you sneaking up on people for?!” I said, trying to make it sound like a joke even though they had really startled me. I wasn’t exactly an outcast in my class, but outside of my little group, people usually didn’t approach me--especially Katy Mulroney!

“Keep your voice down,” Morgan whispered conspiratorially. Katy was smiling and looking straight at me, making me feel very uncomfortable.

“What’s up?” I asked, surprised to see the two of them approach me in such a clandestine manner.

“Halloween’s coming up in a couple of weeks,” Morgan said, stating the obvious.

“My parents said I could invite a small group of friends over!” Katy explained, talking quickly and excitedly. “It’s not a costume party or anything--we’re just gonna hang out, maybe play some games, dance a little...you know...”

Actually, I didn’t know. Other than going over to Morgan’s to go swimming, I hadn’t really spent time at anyone’s house. All our social activities seemed to involve sports, movie theatres, the mall, and arcades. Tom had invited me for a sleepover once, but I had gotten sick (a touch of flu, I think), and had to bail.

“A...party?” I asked innocently. It was strange to have Katy Mulroney speaking to me as if I were one of her friends. I noticed that Morgan kept touching her waist when he thought no one was looking. If one of the staff or faculty caught him touching a girl, he would have detention for a week.

“Yeah, and we want you to come--one of the chosen few!” Morgan whispered happily, as if I had won a contest or something.

I didn’t know what to say. I was flattered. My first thought was to wonder what Jesse would be doing that night--probably taking his sister out Trick or Treating, I guessed. I wanted to ask, are you sure you want me? but I knew that would sound totally lame.

“Cool!” I answered in an outwardly calm voice, fully aware that Katy’s green eyes were on me. She kept smiling, kept edging in a little closer. “But, are your parents going to be there?” I knew my mother would never let me go otherwise, so I had to ask.

“That’s the most awesome part,” Katy explained. “My dad will be out of town, but my mom will be there. But she told me that she’d would leave us completely alone for like three whole hours!”

That sounded weird--yet intriguing. I still couldn’t decide how to respond. We only had a couple more minutes before class started.

“Who else is coming?” I asked, stalling for time.

“Of course, Jessica,” Katy answered. Jessica Bainbridge was Katy’s best friend. They both came from rather well to do families--by Santa Corina standards anyway--and lived on the same street.

“And we were thinking of Tom and Kyle,” Morgan added.

“I’m going to ask Melissa and probably Dana,” Katy added. “And that would be it! Just a little group of friends having a non-Halloween get together!”

Katy sure was perky and cute, I had to give her that. And if Morgan and Tom were there...

“We have a pool table, and a great sound system in the rec room, and we’re gonna have pizza...” Katy added temptingly.

“I’ll have to ask my mom,” I said, and then, knowing that must have sounded childish and immature, added, “but it sounds awesome--I’m totally there!”

Morgan and Katy both seemed pleased, but I had the weird sense that maybe it wasn’t for the same reasons. Was it just my imagination, or did Katy keep moving away every time Morgan tried to touch her? Was she just being a prudent St. Boniface girl, or was she trying to tell me something? I was too freaked out by the whole encounter to analyze my theory any further, and it was time to get back to class.

In fact, Katy took off as soon as I said I’d come, leaving me to walk back with Morgan.

“I wanted to invite Jesse too,” Morgan said, “but even though Katy thinks he’s really cute, she was very insistent that we keep it down to four and four to keep her parents happy.”

”I think Jesse will be busy that night anyway,” I said, touched by Morgan’s concern. He was a good guy and a good friend and I wondered playfully to myself if ‘cute’ had been Katy’s actual word or just Morgan’s interpretation.

Morgan stopped and looked around, making sure that no one else was in earshot. “Try not to mention this party to anyone else--we wouldn’t want any jealous classmates, hehehe,” he whispered conspiratorially. “Katy really wanted to invite only the hottest kids in class,” he explained with a devilish grin, ”so you should be flattered!” He patted me on the shoulder and bounded into class a few steps ahead of me.

As I went to my seat , Jesse gave me an inquisitive look. Maybe he saw Morgan talking to me, or maybe I just looked stunned.

Of course I told Jesse about the whole thing on the phone that night, as I lay in bed, the dishes washed and the homework done.

“Sounds cool,” Jesse replied rather unconvincingly.

“Do you want to come?” I asked. “I could ask Morgan...”

“Nah, I’m not a big party person,” he insisted. “Besides, I already promised Miranda that I’d take her out Trick or Treating. She’s dressing up like the little Hawaiian girl in Lilo and Stitch!”

“I bet she’ll be so cute,” I said. I couldn’t help smiling every time I thought about Jesse’s feisty little sister. “Anyway, I just wanted you to be cool about me going,” I said.

“You don’t have to justify what you do or where you go to me,” Jesse replied meekly.

“I’d rather be with you...” I said sincerely.

“Yeah...well...we’ll see about that,” he muttered enigmatically. “But that thing I told you about? It’s finished and I’ll bring it tomorrow.”

“Cool!” I exclaimed. “The suspense has been killing me!”

”Yeah, well, there’s some ground rules though,” Jesse warned me.

“Like what?” I asked, my curiosity burning in the pit of my stomach.

“I’ll explain tomorrow--but, Perry, this is just for you--your eyes ONLY--‘kay?” His voice was intensely serious now and I was starting to feel giddy with anticipation.

“Damn, you’re going to make me wet myself if you don’t tell me what this fucking thing is!” I groaned.

“Hehehe, tomorrow, dude. G’night.”

Wednesday was a strange day. I felt like people were watching me: Morgan, Katy, Jessica, Dana...I know this sounds crazy, but it felt to me like they were all looking at me in a sexual way--not in the way that I adored Jesse--more like in a weird, kinky sort of way--like in one of those strange R-rated European movies. I guess it had to do with the upcoming party. I had already gotten my mom’s okay to go. She was always glad to see me spending time with my friends. Back in La Jolla, I had been more of a bookworm, but I had to admit, since I came to St. Boniface--maybe because it was such a small school--things had taken a different turn. Anyway, I was wondering if going to this thing at Katy’s house was such a good idea after all. In my overly active imagination, I kept picturing a cabaret type setting with techno music blaring, strobe lights flashing, and everyone dressed up in tight leather outfits and Glam hairdos! Then I reminded myself that Mrs. Mulroney would be there--so how weird could it get?

Anyway, I was just killing time waiting for the end of school, when Jesse said he would give me...IT! Whatever IT was. He actually looked kind of nervous all day, and I guessed that whatever IT was he was giving me, was something of a very personal nature...What could IT be???????

Finally, school was out. Thanks to our special basketball practice on Saturday, I had my afternoon free. Jesse went down to the parking lot with me instead of to the busstop. He dug something out of his backpack. It was one of those wire bound notebooks, a full eight and a half by eleven, with a red front cover and plain cardboard back. When he thought no one else was looking, he quickly handed it to me, an uncomfortable look on his face.

I started to open it.

No!” Jesse whispered harshly, grabbing the notebook back. “You can’t open it--not here!” he said adamantly. I could tell he was very serious. “Please, Perry,” he said, looking at me with those penetrating crystal blue orbs of his. “Promise me--you’ll put it right in your backpack, and you won’t take it out until you’re in your bedroom with the door locked!"

“Okay, calm down,” I whispered back with a nervous giggle. I grabbed the notebook back and did as Jesse had instructed.

“I’ll understand if you don’t like it,” Jesse said as he started to back away.

“What is it?” I asked dumbly.

“Call me later if you want to,” Jesse said as he turned to head for the busstop.

And that was that. I was quiet in the car, not wanting to alarm my mom by talking about my building apprehension about the non-Halloween party, and of course I couldn’t mention anything about the thing Jesse had given--no--entrusted to me. Fortunately, she didn’t press me much once I told her it had been a pretty boring day.

“Yes, I know those days,” she sighed.

She left me off at the curb in front of our house. Sometimes she came in to freshen up, but today she just took off, saying she’d get some Chinese takeout for supper. My heart was pounding with anticipation. I grabbed a Coke out of the fridge and bounded up the stairs two at a time. I even locked the bedroom door, just so I could tell Jesse that I had followed his instructions to the letter. I pulled my backpack off my shoulders and eagerly pulled the notebook out. Kicking off my shoes, I laid back on the covers of my bed and opened it.

I was expecting that it would be some sort of journal or diary that contained his thoughts and feelings about me. I know that was pretty vain of me, but I couldn’t imagine why he would be so secretive about it otherwise. Obviously, it was very personal and he was extremely nervous about it falling into the wrong hands. On the other hand, he really seemed to want me to read it, so it had to be something about us, right? Well...not exactly...


Comments and constructive criticism are welcome: underthehoodster@netscape.net

Copyright © 2011 underthehoodster; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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A very intriguing cliffie. You've made us as anxious as our little man to find out what's in the notebook. He was so good with his cousins in respecting Josh and in handling Darrin. You showing him to be a very mature young man.

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