“I don’t understand why you’re making such a big deal out of this, Mom! You’re not being fair!” I said, more persistent than ever to get her to let me go out tonight.

“Walker, you are THIRTEEN years old! I’m not about to let you go roaming the streets at night, running off to some party with high school kids that are all older than you. What am I, crazy?”

“Who’s ‘roaming the streets’? I’m going to my friend, Eddie’s, house, just like I always do…and we’re both going to stay downstairs the whole night and play video games. It’s not even Eddie’s party! It’s his big brother’s party! They probably won’t even want us kids anywhere around them.” I said it in an attempt to get her to relax her stance on the subject, but in reality, I was SO hoping that wasn’t going to be the case. Eddie’s brother, Michael, was 16…and so was his best friend, Jason. Jason, Jason…sweet, unnaturally beautiful, Jason. I knew he’d be there. I knew he wouldn’t miss this party for the world. And if I’m lucky…he may even be drinking tonight. Which might make what I had planned a little bit easier to do.

“Do you think I’m an idiot?” My mom said, still folding laundry and barely taking the time to look me in the eye. “I know exactly what kind of party this is. I know that Eddie’s parents are out of town for the weekend because Ms. Galero mentioned it to me in the grocery store earlier in the week. So don’t you lie to me. You don’t need to be running around getting yourself into trouble with a bunch of older kids. End of story.”

“But, Mom…”

“I said what I said, and that’s final. Now leave it alone, Walker, before you find yourself grounded for the next couple of days on top of it.”

Some sort of desperate hormonal build up within me caused me to almost cross the line. “I bet if Dad were still around, he’d let me go.”

“Careful!” She said, snapping her head in my direction and flashing me a stern look. Then, turning back to the task at hand, I heard her mumble, “Some fine specimen your father turned out to be. He chose not to be a part of this family anymore, so he doesn’t have any say what goes on in this house. I do.”

“This is so not fair.”

“Right. You said that already.”

“Mom, you have no idea what you’re doing to me right now. Tonight was supposed to be something special. It’s important, ok?” I pleaded.

She finally turned to face me and put her hands on her hips. “Why?”

It was a question that I hadn’t expected. I found my voice quickly retreating down the back of my throat. “Huh?”

“You said tonight was important. What’s important about it? Tell me.” She said firmly.

It was a sudden kiss from me that outed me to Eddie a year ago. A mistake, apparently. But even though Eddie liked girls, he was willing to stick by me and made it ok for me to choose boys instead. He was the only one who knew about my little ‘defect’. Sworn to secrecy for life. I don’t think I was ready for anyone else to know yet, and that made my mother’s question REALLY difficult to answer.

I decided to take the easy way out. Rolling my eyes, I grunted, “Ugh! Never MIND! You just don’t get it, ok?”

I thought it best to leave the room and quit while I was ahead. At least for now. I’ll try again before the party starts. I just don’t want her asking me any more questions that I can’t answer.

I’ve got enough pressure on the brain as it is.

As I walked past the living room window, I heard another siren go past the house. That’s the third one in less than an hour. Normally, I don’t notice them. The local police station is only a mile away from my neighborhood, maybe a little bit less. Sirens go by my house all the time, so they barely register as something to think about anymore. What’s weird was the added ‘urgency’ towards their pursuits tonight. Like…I can hear the siren, clear as day…but more than that, I can hear the engines of the cop cars revving up as the officers floored the gas pedal and raced by my house at top speed. That loud ‘vroooom!’ was totally different from what I was used to. This is a residential area. Those maniacs are going to mess around and run over somebody’s cat or something.

I stomped defiantly up the stairs to my bedroom, wanting to physically demonstrate my growing frustration, but not wanting to piss my mom off enough to make things any worse. I still had time to try again. There’s GOT to be a way to get on her soft side. There’s just GOT to be.

I fell back on my bed sideways and sighed out loud, as though my aggravated heart would somehow be soothed with the extra release of breath. I closed my eyes…and I thought of my darling Jason. Hazel eyes and dark brown curls…and t-shirts that caressed his slender frame on all sides. A smile that gave your life a purpose whenever you gazed upon it, and the surreal scent of fresh vanilla that you just knew would be even more intoxicating if only you were allowed to press your nose and lips to the warm and creamy nape of his neck. Just for a moment. Just…inhale…and fight the series of giggly shivers to follow.

*FUCK!* Why won’t she just let me GO???

She’s going to ruin everything!

I got a text from Eddie about fifteen minutes later. It didn;t take much more than hello before he started pressing me to tell him the master plan. He was already excited.

WR1-text-1
Because of the WHAT?!?!

Eddie can have a quirky sense of humor sometimes, but I can usually tell when he’s joking around and when he’s not. This didn’t sound like one of his casual ‘tee hee’ moments.

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I’d heard the same crazy stories that he had. Some people saying that it was some kind of psycho-virus, others saying that it was some brand new narcotic that had just hit the streets. And then there was the perpetual flood of conspiracy theorists who came along and blew the whole thing out of proportion. It had actually become a bit of an internet ‘craze’ over the last few weeks, but I didn’t invest much interest into it. To me? It was right up there with ‘planking’ and the ‘ice bucket challenge’ in terms of notoriety…every YouTube video trying to make their contribution look more authentic than the last. Heh…zombies? Really? It’s just a bunch of weirdness, that’s all.

Eddie and I danced around the issue for a few minutes, but it wasn’t long before he tried to get me focused back on the party. He knew how much I liked Jason, and he knew that I was seriously thinking about…well, at least pondering the idea…of maybe telling him that I was gay tonight.

I KNOW that it seems silly, and I’m scared out of my wits, but…even if I didn’t confess my rapidly increasing infatuation with everything that he is…I just wanted to sort of put myself out there, you know? Just…it would make me feel better if I knew that there was just a slight possibility that having him know that I was ‘available’ might plant the seeds needed to be closer to him someday. Even if he just got really horny one night and decided he wanted to…you know…call me over, or something. Just to touch, or to hold. To practice kissing. Dry humping. A handjob. A blowjob! Even if he was just using me for a temporary thrill, I’d be overwhelmingly appreciative to know that he wanted to be close to somebody for a little while….and he chose me.

Sometimes, the simplest thoughts of that boy make it SO hard to breathe…

I think Eddie could feel the miserable vibes in my text messages. I doubt that I could have done much to hide them at this point. The sun was quickly going down and the party would be starting soon. My mom didn’t seem to be in a very agreeable mood tonight, and my crack about Dad probably put her in an even grumpier mood than before. Shit! I should have stuck with the whining and begging approach.

WR1-text-3
That’s when Eddie said the ‘magic’ words…

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Shit…

There was a part of me that wanted to stay put. Sneaking out and disobeying direct orders not to leave the house isn’t really my thing. Eddie gets away with it all the time, but…I don’t know. I just don’t have as much fun when I know I’m doing something wrong. It’s always lingering in the back of my mind, and all I can think about is the trouble I’m going to have to face if I get caught. But Jason was, quite possibly, the one piece of irresistible bait on the planet that could get me to forget all about this stupid, unjust, form of ‘house arrest’ and just go for it. Because, good or bad…when I’m old and grey someday, I’m going to look back on this night…and I’m going to wish I had taken a chance at talking to the boy that meant everything to me. The last thing I wanted to do was miss my one and only chance to reach out and touch the untouchable.

Goddammit, Eddie…

I texted him back and told him that I’d be there in an hour or two, and NOT to let Jason leave! Not for ANY reason! With a digital squeal of delight and the satisfaction of knowing that he had officially turned me over to the dark side…he agreed to the terms, and told me to wear something hot. Hehehe, like he’d notice one way or the other.

Alright…so I’m committed now. Committed to doing something really bad. But…if I can get out of this house and out to the party without being detected, I’d be more than willing to suffer whatever consequences my mom had to dish out when I got home. I just wanted to see his face again. To be able to blush and wiggle in his presence was both an honor and an addiction for me. I couldn’t wait. I just want to see him stare into my eyes until the bashful tension of the moment caused him to display a boyish grin…a few blinks, accentuated with longer-than-normal lashes.

God, I think I’m actually getting a little excited here. Maybe I can go through with this. With a little privacy and a lot of courage…who knows? When it comes to this kind of yearning love for someone…anything is possible right?

I remained in my room for the next forty five minutes. I didn’t make a sound. I didn’t dare. And afterward, when I crept out to the top of the stairs in my sock feet…I heard nothing but silence coming from downstairs.

Being a single mom, I had gotten used to the deafening quiet of her falling asleep in front of the TV. She mopped the kitchen floor earlier this afternoon. Between that, washing and folding the laundry, and arguing with me…I guess she was worn out.

Much to my advantage.

I went to my closet and picked out some party worthy clothes. Something ‘hot’, as Eddie would say. I wish I could have taken a fresh shower and all, but I didn’t want my mom to hear the noise. God forbid she caught me getting ready to go somewhere. The night would be ruined.

I may only be thirteen years old, but I’ve been around long enough to know every creak, raised nail, and loose floorboard, to avoid in that house if it meant staying out of trouble. A skill that I used like a well trained spy as I took the steps down to the main floor. I almost made the mistake of using my spray cologne before leaving the bathroom…but thought twice about it. If I sprayed it on upstairs…then the scent would linger on me as I snuck out of the house. My mom would pick up on that right away, and she’d probably track me down to the party like some sort of alien bloodhound, embarrassing me in front of every single boy and girl that I knew in the entire world. I can’t imagine anything worse than that. Not in any capacity!

So I simply took the whole bottle with me…and I continued.

Down and down and down the staircase, I crept.

I felt my stomach tighten and gritted my teeth as the ear splitting scream of another few police car sirens went racing by our house, their lights blaring through the shade and curtains like a collection of hellish strobelights. But…my mom barely skipped a snoozing breath as she got more comfortable in the soft cushions of the sofa. It was a close call. I didn’t want to take my chances on getting that lucky again.

I was holding my sneakers in my hand as I went out the back door, careful to close it until the thunderous ‘click’ of the deadbolt locked it behind me. I didn’t put my shoes on until I was on the grass in the backyard. I didn’t spray my cologne on until I was out in the back alley where the trash was kept.

My heartbeat was pounding so loud in my ears that it was really hard for me to listen to what was going on back in the house. Would my mother wake up to find me gone? Will she panic? Will she be pissed? Or is it possible that she’ll just stay asleep in front of the TV for another few hours, then get up and go to bed without checking at all? I mean, it’s possible, right? As long as I don’t get greedy with my time at the party, and I sneak back in at a reasonable time…chances are she’ll never know, right?

That’s what I’ll keep telling myself. At least for now. I’ve just got to get out there, that’s all. I’ve got to see Jason. If my mom had any idea of who I was…if she really knew how I felt inside…she’d understand. I can’t imagine any human being with a heart not being able to relate to this warm and tingly fury inside…and the craving to have it quenched by the only person in existence that you KNOW has the power to do so.

I wish I could explain it to her.

Not tonight. Not tomorrow. But someday.

Someday, I’d like to reach a point where I found it a credible pursuit to make her understand.

Just…not tonight.

I kept walking down the alley until I reached the next cross street at the end of the block. I was amazed at how empty the neighborhood felt at that moment. Perhaps it was the added sensitivity to sound caused by the numbing paranoia I felt for sneaking out in the first place…but outside of a few rustled leaves and a couple of unexpected noises from the shadows around me…nothing seemed out of place. Not as far as I could tell.

This was wrong. Oh God…this was SO wrong!

I had to keep my thoughts focused on my goal. This is what I wanted, right? And I already spit on my mom’s rules and snuck out of the house, so there’s no turning back now. I might as well go to the party, drool over Jason, tell him I like boys, and bounce out of there before anybody has the chance to laugh at me for being so stupid.

At this point, it’s the only way I’m going to make my future punishment worth the hassle.

I quickly walked to the nearest gas station and waited for a taxi to come by. My legs were trembling the whole way there, my mind screaming at me to sneak back into my own house before my mom notices I’m gone. But NO! I held my ground. Eddie’s waiting on me. JASON’S waiting on me!

I was crossing the street when I saw three more police cars charging at me as though they were trying to carry a nuclear BOMB out of the city limits! What the HELL??? I had to practically run across the street to keep them from mowing me down! Sirens blazing, engines revving…where the hell were they GOING in such a fucking HURRY tonight???

Thankfully, it was only a few minutes before I saw a cab driver pulling into the gas station for a refill. I barely had enough money to get me to the party, but I was sure that Eddie’s brother would help me get back home. If for no other reason than me getting in trouble would ultimately mean that he’s getting in trouble.

“I’ll take you.” The cab driver said. “Five minutes.” And he went inside for a few snacks and a cup of coffee.

Ok. No problem. I’m doing this. I’m really doing this. I’ll go there, mingle for a bit, find Jason…try not to get distracted by his soft bedroom eyes, or get emotionally tangled in the shiny locks of that amazing head of hair…and then ‘ll just…I’ll tell him. Heh! I’m actually going to tell him I’m gay. Wow…

Just…wow…

The driver came back out and filled up his car with ‘Regular’. Then he let me climb in the back seat to wait for him to carry me off towards my destiny. When he got back behind the wheel and I told him where I was going, he hesitated.

A long silence passed between us while we just sat there in the car. Finally, I asked, “If you don’t mind, sir…I’d kinda like to get to this place pretty soon.”

“You mean he’s not with you?” The driver asked.

“Who?”

“If your friend is coming with you, I suggest you tell him to pick up the pace. I don’t have all night.”

I wrinkled my forehead slightly, as I had no idea what ‘friend’ he was talking about. But I noticed his eyes looking up at the rearview mirror, and I turned to glance out of the rear window of the cab.

I couldn’t really make out any features of the person slowly heading our way. There was a streetlight behind him, but it only illuminated his backside…leaving his face and body hidden in silhouette.

I found it odd that one shoulder seemed to be raised up further than the other. His entire frame seemed lopsided. His hair…longish…but it appeared to be matted down with some kind of thick fluid. Like…motor oil or something. He walked unhurriedly. At a snail’s pace with an exaggerated limp, his head slightly cocked to one side…almost in an unnatural way.

He was approaching the taxi with every measured step. Slow. Steady. Getting closer…the shadows in front of him careful to not reveal a single recognizable feature, no matter how hard I squinted my eyes in an attempt to find something familiar about him.

I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something about him was so ‘off balanced’ that it made me queasy just looking at him. “I don’t know that guy. He’s not with me.” I blurted out.

“You sure?” The cab driver asked.

“I’m sure. DEFINITELY sure. Can we just go? Please?”

The driver shrugged his shoulders. “You’re the boss.” And with that, we pulled out of the gas station lot. I looked behind us and saw that mysterious figure still lumbering along. No real purpose given to his shuffling feet. No ‘life’. Just…movement. Endless movement.

Things are weird out here. The sooner I get to the party and back home…the better.

I’m hoping this was worth it. I’m hoping that I’m one of the lucky ones. As Eddie said…I should at least want to take a shot.

Published January 2, 2016

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