(Caution: This story talks about violence, gender bigotry and personal relationships. Depending on one’s viewpoint it could be seen going too far, not far enough or whatever. Bradley Lincoln is an offender, who has been part of the so called silent majority to a fault and may end up in relationships that are contrary to where he’s been. The story bases itself in part from a smaller story within the film Gandhi.)
GILK 2 begins… Bridget is next to me come last period and again as we leave school, we're heading for Randy’s Chevy Malibu. Randy catches up to us and asks, “Brad can you come with me for tonight’s basketball game.”
I usually go and I’m not working, so no excuse. “I can get back here on my own.”
“I can pick you up and get you back boyfriend; I’ll plan to pick you up fifteen minutes before six.” That means we’ll be watching two games. “The girl’s varsity plays first so Robin’s sister is playing and Robin will be there.” We drive around for a bit Randy drops off Bridget and then me, “Hey Brad, I would appreciate you’d look decent for us.” He smiles as he presses for a kiss as I get out. I’m amused and smile, “See you later Randy.”
Mom teaches in another school; I can see she’s already home. “So how was your day Brad?”
“Just a bunch of small s* and stuff; Ms Hahn had us talk about my stuff to get it out in the open and move on. I’m hoping she’s not in any trouble for doing it. I think she and the class handled it well. You should have heard Bill Scott speak up. All in all I think it went pretty good for me. But I sense it won’t be fun.”
“Randy’s picking me up for the basketball games tonight before 6:00. He teased me not to be my relaxed self with my choice of clothes.”
Mom says, “You mean he suggested you’re usually sloppy and that it will be good for you to get use to dressing better.”
I change jeans but Mom sends me back; “They don’t need to be new or anything but that’s not presentable.” “Mom there’s a pair of Cathy’s socks on my bed.”
Mom says, “Your sister thought wearing something like that won’t be noticeable to others, but it will remind you your world is different. She said “She didn’t want you snapping out of character as you make the adjustment to living with the agreement and blowing things. She doesn't want you blowing your agreement and going to jail."
The next pair is fashionably frayed and Mom relaxes. Mom has food in the oven that I can eat when I get home. I get a small snack to hold me over as I don’t have extra money.
The doorbell rings at 5:30; Randy’s here early and I let him in. “Hi Mrs. L, I’m giving Brad my ring; I hope you’re okay with that. You might be able to help him with wearing a larger ring.” Mom giggles a bit, “I guess most boys aren’t use to getting a ring that’s too big. Brad put it on; let’s see how big it is.”
It isn’t terribly big but goes over my knuckle with no problem. “So Brad can either get a gold chain for it or tape it until it fits on a finger...” “Mom that isn’t funny...” She says, “You’re lucky ‘letter’ sweaters have gone out of fashion.”
Randy says on the way to the car, “Brad, I hope you can handle it, but if you do or don’t it’s your problem to get use to being my boyfriend.”
“You know it’s a bit early for you to expect me to feel anything.” My voice cracks and I feel some tears as Randy give me a hug.
He says, "We’ve been friends for years and since you’re a guy it’s not a big stretch for me.” The ring is taped and on my ring finger on my right hand. We’re standing in line to present our student passes. Jeff and Mandy are ahead of us and turn around to say hello.
Mandy is observant and notices the ring quickly, “Quick going Brad, you know us girls are going jealous you’re with that big hunk.” “Congrats Randy, though I think you deserve better. Sorry Brad but you need to prove yourself, you know Randy’s special.” It’s nice to have Mandy visiting with us. I’m not sure when Randy began holding my hand, but he is as we are walking along the court and up into the stands.
As Jeff and Mandy get to a row of open seats, Mandy turns and tells Randy, “It would be nice if you sit with us.” Randy gives me a small push to follow them. Mandy even changes seats to sit next to us. She smirks and giggles, “So Brad how does it feel to have a regular date and a class ring from you beau?” She pauses and looks, “I’m not trying to be funny, I just want to carry a conversation with you.”
I tell her, “He just shared the ring before we came; I’m sorry but I’m shy and naturally quiet.”
“Not quite and it won’t do. Get into the program, you should be happy and honored. You should be showing the ring like this,” holding out her ring to show me. “Go ahead and take my hand to look at my ring that Jeff gave.” “Since you’re out of circulation, we can celebrate with each other.” Randy has a hand around my back and is leaning to hear the conversation.
< ~ ~ O ~ ~ >
Their playing the national anthem to start the girls’ game and everyone stands up. Robin and Bridgett come over and join us as the game begins. I suspect they’re smiling, wondering why were over with the more popular crowd. We do get a few stares but once Mandy stands and stares back things calm down significantly. Mandy looks over to me; “So goes a couple of us silent ones.” I didn’t see Karen Craft a classmate behind us but she’s standing up with Mandy.
Randy smiles and thanks them; I squeeze Randy’s hand in acknowledgement. He leans and gives me a kiss on the cheek. “Sorry, I didn’t mean that.” He has some water in his eye. “Don’t apologize, I understand it means something to you, you're not doing it just to embarrass me.”
Believe it or not, we are following the basketball game as we visit with Mandy, Robin and Bridget. Our team goes up by as many as seven, but the lead is back to two come half time. Mandy suggests I follow her down. She says, “Hey, I didn’t want to say anything, but nice socks. Are they your sisters or yours?” I close my eyes and bow my head before I look down. I don’t see them and don’t have the foggiest how she noticed the difference even if she got a glimpse.
She lifts my jeans’ leg just a fraction. “They’re thinner than guy’s socks so your feet fit a bit differently. It’s a girl thing I noticed. So what’s with wearing the socks?” We’re now in line for a snack. I don’t intend to be here as I don’t have any money on me. Mandy smirks, “Two diet cokes please.” Randy hands me two dollars from behind. Mandy holds onto my sleeve, “When you tell me you can go.”
“Cathy gave them, suggesting I would remember I’m different now.” She looks one more time and at a group of her friends lifting my slacks. Karen and a friend Trish notice. Thankfully Mandy takes them away. Randy has some popcorn and a drink. He offers to share the popcorn. He quickly finishes his drink. “We should use the restroom. I don’t want you going in there alone later.”
The second half, I’m talking mostly with Randy. I’m glad to find out he hasn’t changed much other than getting taller and filling out a bit. We had been good friends till just over a year ago. Bridget asks that I sit next to them during the boys’ game. I’m not use to being popular for any reason good or bad.
The girls are barely holding their lead, and two of our players have fouled out and another left the game, seemingly sick. Mandy says, “She has the flu.” With thirty five seconds one girl is free and shoots a three point shot and makes it as she’s fouled. Our stands goes wild and Randy and I turn and hug. Without thinking I look up and we kiss. It doesn’t last but a few saw it including Mandy turning back toward us. “Go girl!”
Randy says, “No he’s a guy, I like them.” Mandy raises her hand to Randy for a gentle five.
I’m sitting down, looking down; I’m afraid to look around. Robin didn’t see what happened and asks Randy. With the game soon over, there will be twenty minutes before the boy’s game. Randy stays with me to talk. We do talk but finally I need space and I go alone. A guy I know to see but not well, steps in my way. “It’s going to be a long year if you get comfortable in your new role.”
I know he’s derogatory but it doesn’t seem like he saw the kiss. “So what’s your point,” I ask?
“Just suggesting, I could help with an attitude adjustment if you want to go outside.” He pauses “It can mean whatever you want.” Randy spots us, but I wave him away. A school person asks, “Is everything okay?”
“No problem that I’m aware of,” I say. I go over and take hold of Randy’s hand. “Can we sit back down?” Gordy and another football player ask Randy if help is needed. “Just support and friendship, it’s a good night so far.” Gordy and a couple guys come and sit nearby.
Randy scoots close to me and lowers his voice. “I’m surprised we kissed, especially as you kissed me as well.”
“I know I could kick myself; I think I was so set on not doing it. Then I got caught up in the moment.”
Randy asks, “Are you alright now?”
“I’m glad were friends, but things have changed. I want to be upset with someone. Don’t tell anyone but I…” I don’t know what to say.
“Brad, it’s okay, we’re friends and we felt the same way.” “But I’m not…” Randy waits for me to speak but I don’t. “You’re not gay is that what you want to say?” We are both quiet and glad the game begins. It gives us a distraction.
The guys’ game is good but it’s harder to keep track of and visit at the same time. I don’t know why. Come half time I notice Randy and I are turning our heads for different people passing by. The game is pretty much decided with four minutes on the clock. Randy suggests it’s a good time to leave.
< ~ ~ O ~ ~ >
When we pull into my driveway we talk more. Randy tells me, he had us leave early just in case someone had plans to bother us. We’re impressed with Mandy, Karen and others who were visibly friends tonight. Randy says that doesn’t usually happen.
Randy asks about the guy who confronted me. “As long as they’re close to my size I think I can handle them. It’s the surprises me that worried me. I guess the guys using a bat and knife have me thinking. I shouldn’t be surprised.”
I say, “It’s strange to my thinking that a guy I’m with likes guys.”
Randy smiles, “Does it bother you that I find you attractive?” Another white elephant in the room is mentioned. I take Randy over to the side door; it is not as well lit.
“I saw us looking different ways when girls and guys were walking nearby. It helps we’re friends already and I kind of like knowing a good football player. I was surprised that Mandy wasn’t blown away when she saw the kiss.”
Randy put his arm in front of me, blocking the door. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“I don’t know how to answer it.” I have a strange thought about us kissing. I wrap my arms around Randy in a hug. My eyes are to the top of Randy’s shoulders as we hug and I’m leaning my head on him looking away. I surely I don’t want to be tempted again, but as I push back and look up I’m not as sure. We don’t kiss but I am tempted and I don’t understand that.
“It’s natural to be friends but guys just do things and hang around. I don’t understand the desire to be a boyfriend like you see it. I’m not tall or strong; I’m not like you being a good receiver and girls saying you’re a stud. I’m just average.”
Randy smiles, takes his arm away saying, “I’ll tell you another time.”
< ~ ~ O ~ ~ >
I go in the house hoping to get things out of my mind. I’m somewhat hungry and heat some dinner to have something to do. I heated up a healthy portion of the dinner mom prepared. But as it is ready and I begin to plate it up, Mom puts a scoop of cottage cheese on my plate.
I look to Mom, “Did you see Randy tap your gut when he picked you up earlier? I hadn’t noticed but you’ve gotten a little pudgy there.”
“I don’t think I need to be losing weight for him?”
Mom retorts, “No, do it for you.” The discussion seems insignificant to me as I like cottage cheese as it balances off supper. I told my parents about most of the night’s events. Dad didn’t know about Cathy’s socks and Mom didn’t seem surprised that Mandy noticed.
It takes a while to get my studies done, shower and get to bed. The net two days go without any special incidents, save going to the boy’s room without a friend around. But it’s just not normal for a guy to ask someone to go to the restroom with him. I take two punches to the gut and dished out a shot to Davis’ eye, neither get reported. Randy says, “I understand, I just hope your punch won’t come back to haunt you.”
Working Thursday and Friday go better as I’m able to stock shelves out on the floor again. Randy picks me up from work. It would have only taken ten minutes to change and wash up but Mom and Randy say I really needed a shower. It did help to revive me, but I didn’t notice any change.
I wanted to eat a snack but Randy says we will be getting some pizza. Tonight Randy has a long double string gold chain. Mom helps me switch his ring over to the necklace for the night. Luckily the ring and necklace are mostly out of sight. Two of the group of guys we meet up with take added interest in meeting me until Randy tells them he’s my boyfriend. Woe, I’m not use to this kind of interest or being saved by being a guy’s boyfriend.
The discussion shifts from cars to sports to stuff of interest to gay guys. “You know dude, there’s more to fashion than basic jeans and Levis. We walk through the mall and I surprised by the amount of unisex clothes that’s there. Randy tells me, “You know Brad if you take half of your pay to expand your wardrobe, the group won’t mind.”
“And you’re telling me you would like it,” I say.
“Yes something like that.”
We’re soon at the Pizza tower and for six guys we order two pizzas. Robin and Bridget show up and now sitting room around the table is at a premium. John one of the guys suggests Randy offer me his lap which Randy does. I’m hoping they’re not serious until Randy whispers, “Please it won’t hurt you to help out.
Robin takes to sharing the chair sitting side by side with Bridget. Robin looks to me, “I don’t think it will work for you.” I tell Robin about the idea for buying some clothes. “They’re not suggesting a whole wardrobe, but yes, I think it would be good. If you or you and your Mom would like I could go with you.”
I tell Robin and Bridget, “I’m not sure how my folks will take to the idea?”
“Your Dad no, but I think your Mom will agree that it’d be helpful. We’re not talking about gender change but style as a metro guy. Plus it would come out of your work money not from your folks.” ‘Work’, I need to be at work by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.
After half a diet coke and a piece of pizza I go to the bathroom. Only the toilet is available so I use it. Only to come back to the sink with two guys asking, “So you’re afraid to show your ‘panties’?” I try ignoring them and get the door open before I’m being pulled back.
The owner Tony comes over, “I don’t want any trouble here.”
“I don’t either Tony,” I say. As I pull out of their grip my wrist is cut by a ring or key. The bleeding isn’t great nor does it really hurt.
Tony tells them, “Okay you two pay your bill and get out.”
“We’re just regular guys; we’re not the ones who should leave.” The other offers, “Just let us quietly finish and Joe and I’ll go.”
Joe puts on an attitude that does not go well with Tony, “Unless Tony makes pretty boy here leave we’re staying.”
Tony’s pretty set now, “You’re paying and leaving now.”
Joe gets to their table and takes his coat but puts down the table check. “We’re going.”
Tony says, “The check, you need to pay the check.”
I reach for my wallet, “I can pay for it Tony. I’ll treat them as my date that will be good for their reputation.” Joe gets out his money, throws down twenty-five dollars and walks out with his friend following him. Randy hurries over once the guys are out.
Tony says, “Thanks for waiting Randy.” Randy later explains Tony’s remark that in waiting there wasn’t a fight. I tell Randy I needed to get back because of work tomorrow. “You can wait a bit; I’d rather not be meeting them in the parking lot.”
I say, “We can handle them.”
Randy says, “It is not about handling them, winning, or not getting hurt. If you fight every time someone wants you to, you’ll have more fights than you ever want. Plus then probation won’t be an option for you.” I forgot and wasn’t thinking. When I finally get home Randy suggests, “You need not tell your parents every near fight you have. Your Dad will ground you and your Mom will be worried every time you’re out.”
< ~ ~ O ~ ~ >
Before I get to bed Mom asks about everything, I think out what I share. Mom likes the idea of the clothes, “You needed some clothes but I’ve stayed away from it for a while as I don’t like what you usually get.”
“So you think buying some unisex stuff will be an improvement?”
“Let’s say a mom doesn’t have anything against color and style and the metro look.” “Geesh.”
< ~ ~ O ~ ~ >
I get to work on time and it goes fast enough and with no problems. I’m on my way out from work and Mom’s here with Robin. “What are you two doing here?” I don’t really need to ask, but then I didn’t ask them to take me shopping in the first place.
“You wanted to get some new clothes and you said Robin volunteered to help us,” Mom says.
“I didn’t say I wanted to go now!”
“Quit complaining, we’re here to help you. You should be grateful.” Robin smiles, knowing I’m not going to win. We go to the shopping area up on the highway. Robin knows better which shops that have the clothes we’re looking for. The pants aren’t anything fancy apart from color and how they fit. Robin suggests color tees with contrasting or complimenting shirts or sweaters to go with them. For a guy with little of his own money, I get a good haul of clothes. Including socks, color underwear; kind of like guys underwear but not quite.
I like wearing a half size bigger than needed, these jeans and briefs ride low and the shirts and tops are tapered. Mom suggests I wear one set of clothes home. We stop to eat on our way home. It just so happens, Randy stops with Bridget and the five of us enjoy dinner.
Mom tells me Dad and Katie went to his folks for the weekend. Randy, Gordy, Bridget and Robin are over part of the weekend. We also pal around.
< ~ ~ O ~ ~ >
Despite the initial change in my life which is very drastic for me the next few weeks settle down and fall into a new routine. When I’m not working after school or going to special events, we’re usually meeting after school at Randy’s or Bridget’s for studying. Mostly Randy and Bridget work together as they share more classes in common as do Robin and I.
When it is just Randy and me, it’s more about checking each other’s work or staying on task until Randy gets too interested in me. I think the initial reason for the four of us getting together is because Mrs. Thomas really isn’t thrilled I’m there. Once Randy teases by trying to kiss me and Mrs. Thomas is passing by when I complain. She thinks I’m complaining to her. Her retort is, “There’s nothing I can say, and sometimes he just has bad tastes. You should be pleased he cares for you.”
It’s a Saturday over at Randy’s and Bridget comes over to me carrying the Beast figure from Beauty and the Beast. “Randy tells me when you were kids you use to play together and he’d be or play with the Beast and you’d play with Belle.”
“Well Belle was the only other main character; I didn’t want to be Chip or the Clock.”
“You don’t need to get defensive. I wasn’t going to make anything of it. I just thought it was cute. It’s okay if I say cute isn’t it?” I got up from where I was studying and check a cabinet in Randy’s room. Belle is still there. Robin had followed and asks, “Can I see her? I liked her too she was strong and feisty as well as beautiful. You know she kind of matches your personality.”
I take exception until Robin points out, “I said she’s like you, not that you’re like a girl.”
“Yes but do you think I’m more like a girl,” I ask?
“There are some areas you’re more like a girl, but no you’re a boy.”
Bridget’s there, “Has Randy said anything about you having girl spots?” I’m caught off guard; I haven’t heard any comments like that. Bridget realizes the non-answer. “I didn’t think so, but Justin did. Randy and Justin were close for over a year in ninth and part of tenth grade. I don’t think you know Justin he’s in another school.”
“How’d he figure something like that out? I’m glad I’m not.” I turned as I hear Bridget giggle. “I didn’t say you are or aren’t. I don’t think you two have been close enough for him to gauge that.”
Randy had entered the room and comes over to me, “No we haven’t been. I told him, I wouldn’t impose intimacy on him until I wasn’t intruding.” With that Randy hugs me from behind.
I ask, “What do you mean by ‘Until you’re not intruding?”
Randy says, “Take Robin and Bridget, intimacy is warm and important because they both enjoy the closeness of the other.” Randy kind of turns me around, maybe I turned. “You can say ‘No’.” He tilts my chin up with a hand on my chin and he’s ready to kiss me. I don’t say anything, I just close my eyes. I first feel his warm breath, then his lips and as we kiss I keep my mouth open a little. I’m kissing him back and he starts to kiss me more passionately.
As the kiss ends I realize I’m excited and probably showing. I stay close to Randy not wanting the others to see, but I know being close sends its own signals. I hug him and look up, Randy smiles and moves to my side so I don’t need to turn until I can adjust myself.
Bridget and Robin soon announce they’re leaving.
< ~ ~ O ~ ~ >
Soon after Mrs. Thomas knocks at Randy’s door, “I hope you’re staying I made a nice snack, I’m hoping someone will be around to enjoy it.” If for no other reason I stay because she smiled at me. Randy hopes the ice is melting between us.
Mr. Thomas came home saying it is snowing but neither I nor Randy think anything about it. Come eight in the evening when I finally realize I need to get going home. Randy says he’ll walk me the five blocks to my house. Mr. Thomas says, “Neither of you are going out in that blizzard, I thought you understood that.”
Sure enough there is over six inches snow down, strong winds and all predictions have four, six or more inches of snow to come. Mrs. Thomas is on the phone and calling me, “Come talk to your parents. It looks like you are staying here…
To be continued…
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