Earlier in the summer our church youth group piled into two minivans and took a trip across the state line to "Wild Waters" in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. It was a water park with four twisty slides, one "deep drop" and a lazy river. It was situated on a fake hilltop near the interstate, in a place one could see from afar and scream at their parents that they MUST GO THERE NOW.
Not that I did that.
I was not a fan of water parks as it was a lot like skiing: You climb a hill, wait in line, speed down like a maniac in a few seconds and then you get up to do it again and again and again.
Such is life.
However, Sam loved the place; I am not sure why. So when we arrived at the waterpark I held onto her hand and grimaced at the sun As it blazed in the sky. We had a small cooler with our lunches in it and maybe one bottle of water; the rest were clear sodas.
Looking back, the lack of sunscreen and the sodas must have been what did me in seven hours later. I was fine during the six hours we were there. I may have looked like I was trying out as a part of a par-boiled lobster but I was having fun. I didn't even loose my swimsuit on the deep dive slide.
We left the park in the late afternoon with everyone in good spirits. No one had a headache but everyone commented that every part of my exposed body looked a deep Crimson, except maybe my left hand, which was holding Sam's for the most part. Thirty minutes into the car ride home I felt a headache coming up. Slow, the ones that creep up right when you need to be at the top of your game.
Four years-five minutes later, there was a slight feeling of nausea. But then, we were back at the church in Medical Lake, Washington and left one mini-van to climb into another: Samantha's mother's.
An hour later you could have submerged me in a vat of liquid nitrogen and I would still say my skin was burning. We arrived at her house and instead of climbing out, I laid on the first row seat, staring at the blue upholstery and begging to my stomach to not throw-up.
Tragically, my stomach still doesn't listen to me.
There were a few seconds of calm when I entered the library but once Nick stood up-
“I had him where I wanted him.”
Nick raised his right hand, shook it and then slammed it onto the table.
“You were going to kill him.”
“Yes, I was.”
“You did hear what you just said, right?”
“Damn right I did.” He slammed his hand down again. “I’ve had to put up with that guy-”
“His name is Asshole. Royal Asshole.”
“I’m going to agree with you on that, but you can’t-“
“I can’t what?”
“You can’t just go and pick a fight.” I said as I took a small step towards the table.
“Sure I can. And it’s about time I did.”
“What about the power of pen? You know, government changes things.”
“While the government screws the people?”
“Just because I didn’t agree with your ‘bill’ for a lack of better words does not mean that I disagree with you.”
“Eric, I am not going to be your token gay project so you can feel self-righteous.”
“Token gay project?”
“You’re doing this to earn some heavenly brownie points.”
“Okay, first off, maybe—just maybe. I. Just. Want. To. Help. You. There are people out there who don’t like seeing others put down, destroyed, called names or, hey, here’s an idea, being shunned by just about everyone and left by himself in town where he didn't know anyone!”
“You’re not talking about me, are you?”
“No, I’m not. And I’m sorry, you woke up the pissed-off guy in me who normally never comes out but you see, that’s what they,” I pointed out into the hall as the principal, Mr. Cain, walked in the library, “thats what they want you to do. They want you to blow up, make a scene, start a fight…they feed off of that.”
“Gentlemen?” Mr. Cain asked.
“But as you said, it pissed you off.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t go off half-cocked and fall into their trap.”
“You held it in?”
“Yeah,” I replied. “Maybe a bit more than I should have.”
Mr. Cain placed his hands on the table between us.
“Nicholas, can I see you in my office?”
Nick nodded and followed Mr. Cain out the door as I sat down in one the chairs, allowing the built-up adrenaline to subside.
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