Blake’s been enrolled at school for a little over two weeks now. Every day he is bullied in one fashion or another. Some days are better than others, and while school may be painful at times, at least he has his dads by his side. His days have been stressful since coming back to public school and there have been times that he regretted not staying at the alternative school, but being in public school is where he belongs. The kids at school are great with the exception of the bully and his lackey.
The bully’s name is Rick and his blindly loyal lackey is Juan. Together, they have made his life at school a tad bit hellish. Apart from calling him names and passing notes to him, things have advanced, at least in the minds of the bully. He truly loves their role in his life. It does not matter that they play a negative role. In fact, he likes it that way even more. Today they have something special planned. They were not just satisfied with words.
As Blake walked into his 4th hour class, his eyes immediately saw Rick and Juan. Blake thought to himself ‘Why can’t they just go away?’ Rick and Juan were both chewing gum, something Blake cannot stand. As Blake sat down at his desk, Rick signaled Juan to put the gum into Blake’s hair. Juan went to do it, not expecting Blake to see him coming. Blake moved just right and swung his feet around. Juan stumbled over Blake’s feet almost falling to the floor and the gum ended up stuck on Juan’s new shoes. He was hot and he blamed Blake, even though it was clearly not Blake’s fault. This just made the duo even more upset with Blake.
Mr. Hales stepped into the room. The room was quiet; well, as quiet as a room can be with 25 teens in it. Mr. Hales started class at the bell and the class was busy from the beginning of the hour until the end. Even with the class being busy, Blake received a note from Rick:
Do you like Mr. Hales’ ass? I bet he has your attention huh?
He could hear snickering as he read the note. Blake filed it into his pocket folder and went back to his work. He made the mistake of not saying something to Mr. Hales. He figured since class was over that he was safe for a while.
Lunch is the only time that he isn’t looking over his shoulder. Today though, Rick broke his tradition. Rick was at Blake’s locker waiting for him. Blake was shoved into his locker, which didn’t go unnoticed by at least two students in the crowd.
“You like me don’t you?” Rick said as he continued to harass Blake. Blake was intimidated, but still somehow managed to hold his own.
“No, I don’t, now go away!”
He wanted nothing to do with this kid. All he wanted was to reach his dad’s room unscathed.
At this point, he would rather not have to deal with the kid at his locker. Rick looked at him with angry eyes, eyes that would slap Blake if it was possible. Blake could see it in his tormentor’s eyes.
“You’re a loser, a little gay loser.”
With those cruel words said, Rick walked away. There are days when Blake reflects on his life, both before being kicked out of his home and after being kicked out, and he never once considered himself a loser. Somehow though, the bully’s words hit his heart. Crying would help get the emotions out into the open, but it might also fuel the bully’s fire. Maybe Rick would tire of his teasing and give up if he kept being strong. One thing for sure, he wasn’t going to tell his dads about it. Telling them would only make things worse. Blake knew that if Ian found out, Rick and Juan would be in trouble.
Only Blake knows about the bullying… or at least that is what Blake thinks. Ashley witnessed Rick pushing Blake into his locker. Ashley’s friend, Ben, also witnessed Blake getting pushed. Ashley wanted to see what Blake would do. She had mixed feelings about the way he handled it. She was glad that Blake stood his ground when Rick asked Blake if he liked him, but she was disappointed he didn’t do more when he got pushed. Ben was quick to remind her that if Blake pushed back that he could be punished for fighting if a teacher saw the pushing. They silently watched as Blake vanished into his dad’s room. Lunch went by without any problems whatsoever and, luckily for Blake, so did the rest of the day.
The problem with good days is that they can be followed by bad days. Blake couldn’t get away from the bad luck at school the next day. First, Ian had car troubles and then Rick just had to be at school. When he got to his locker, he discovered a bright red piece of paper taped to his locker and the words “Hi Fag!” were written on the front of it in big black letters. He tore it off only to hear a group of kids making comments. He wanted to tell them off, but doing so could make things worse. Instead, he smiled at them as he went to his first hour class. His classes went great all the way up to 4th hour. Yeah… fourth hour was different. Blake was hoping to avoid Rick today.
Rick was tired of being ignored by this newbie. Rumor has it the new kid has it good. His parents love him, he’s spoiled, and he’s lucky. Rick lacks all of the above. His parents hardly notice him. They don’t buy him anything new. His clothes are all hand-me-downs, and any Christmas gifts he gets are all from Charity. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, he just doesn’t see it as a blessing in his life. He doesn’t get any of the extras that other kids get. He hates it when his peers parade their stuff around. He makes fun of people because it makes him feel good about himself.
Rick has always been a bully. His lackeys, though, have changed over the years, but little else has changed. Now he has a new kid to terrorize. He just needs to find something that will eat at his target until he goes running away in defeat or in tears like all the other little nerds. Rick needs to put together a little something extra for Blake today.
In 4th hour today, there is a substitute teacher, a young guy who clearly has no clue how to handle a classroom. The kids are loud and the sub isn’t saying a thing about it. He did manage to at least get to the attendance. There are kids like Blake who are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, but there are others who aren’t. All they had to do was to bring study materials. Blake decided to work on his homework from 3rd hour and 2nd hour.
“What are you working on, faggot?”
Rick reaches down rips the paper away from Blake. He looks over the work and then tears it up. Blake is upset and he wants to punch Rick. Blake pulls himself back, looks at the student standing over him and says, “Give me my work back!”
With that, Rick sprinkled the torn up work all over Blake’s head. At least, he could still get the assignment from Ian for 3rd hour and if he is lucky, Rick won’t tear up his assignment from Mrs. Curtis’ class. He’s really getting tired of this mess. The rest of the day would hopefully be better. Blake was starting to not like this school.
There wasn’t bullying at the alternative school. Sure, it happened occasionally, but for the most part everyone left each other alone. Everyone had one thing in common, the streets. Their reasons for being there were all different, but that common thread was enough to help everyone get along. They knew each other and had each other’s backs, no questions asked.
After 4th hour, Ashley approached Blake to join her for lunch. It’s an offer that Blake couldn’t resist. He thought for sure that her friend from the photograph might be joining them too. As they sat down it became clear that her friend wasn’t showing up to lunch.
“Has Rick been bugging you today?”
“Yeah, what’s his damage anyway?”
“No one knows… all we do know is that kid is a jerk.”
Blake couldn’t argue with her on that one. Rick might have made an awesome friend if circumstances were different.
“So what do you think of school here in Indiana?”
Blake wanted time to put together his thoughts, but that wasn’t going to happen.
“Well?” she asked again.
“I love my classes and the teachers, but Rick… is kind of making my life hell.”
“Have you talked to Ian or Trace?”
“No, I can handle this problem.”
Just as he said that, Rick walked by and flipped Blake’s lunch tray onto his lap. Green beans, chicken nuggets, BBQ sauce, applesauce, and his chocolate milk went all over his lap. Rick said nothing and just walked by with a smile on his face. Blake wanted to punch him, but he doubted that Ian or Trace would approve of such an action. He stood up and cleaned himself off as best he could and then walked to the bathroom. There he cleaned himself off a little bit more and then returned to Ashley.
“I think that I need to call home.”
“Yeah… you really do look like a mess.”
He approached one of the teachers who were in the lunchroom about going to the office to call home and they sent him down immediately. Ashley went to see if she could find Ian, Mr. Richards, while Blake went to call Trace.
If Blake wasn’t going to turn Rick in for dumping the tray on his lap, then Ashley would see that he got in trouble for it.
“Mr. Richards, have you heard what happened to Blake at lunch?”
“How would I have heard anything about that? Lunch isn’t over yet.”
“Rick dumped Blake’s lunch all over his pants. He’s down in the office calling Trace.”
Ian felt horrible. He’s wondering why Blake didn’t stop by the room before heading down to the office. A better question is, did the other staff or the camera catch what happened in the cafeteria?
Back in the office, Blake is dialing his number.
“Hello, Trace here!”
“Hi Dad, can you bring a change of clothes to the school?”
How in the world is Blake going to explain to this one to Trace?
Trace figures that either he wet himself or something else must have happened to cause him to need a change of clothes. Hopefully by now Blake isn’t wetting himself anymore.
“I tripped and ended up wearing my lunch.”
“Okay, I’ll swing by with your clothes.”
Trace knows that his son is lying to him, but he doesn’t know why. Blake has learned to handle his own problems and he doesn’t need Trace or Ian’s help.
Ten to fifteen minutes go by before Trace arrives at the school. He gets buzzed in and walks into the office. Blake gets his clothes from his dad and then walks into the nursing office. The Nurse is kindly allowing him to change in her little restroom. Ian has decided to walk down to the office and upon entering is surprised to see his husband. Walking over to Trace, he shakes his hand.
“What’s going on with Blake, he told me that he tripped and spilled his lunch on him.”
Ian’s face said it all. Trace could tell by looking at his husband’s face that Blake had lied to him.
“Are you serious?”
“Yeah… sadly, I am.”
“Well if he didn’t trip what happened?”
“According to Ashley, a kid walked by and flipped the edge of Blake’s tray.”
For a second Trace thought that maybe Ian might be covering up for Blake, but he knows better than to question Ian’s honesty. He is honest, sometimes brutally honest, and up until today, he thought his son was the same way.
“Are we going to do anything about it?”
“Well, I came up to see if I could get the cameras looked at. I’m going to speak with Mr. DeSoto and talk to him not as a teacher but as a parent. I want our son to feel safe at school again.
Trace smiled to himself.
“So do you want me to stick around?”
“Trace, I want you to support our son.”
Ian hates writing people up on someone else’s word, so he’s going to talk with Mr. DeSoto.
Mr. Richards, Ian, wanted to see if Mr. Desoto, the assistant principal, was in his office. Nope, he’s not in his office. It dawns on him that “A” lunch is just about over and that he is always down in the lunchroom at this time. Man, if he could sit down and give Rick a talking to, he would in a heartbeat. Ian started to walk towards the cafeteria. Trace follows right behind his partner. Ian’s eyes catch hold of Mr. DeSoto.
“Hello, sir, I heard about a bullying incident between my son and Rick Jennings.”
“Mr. Richards, it’s already being taken care, but I want to talk to you about it. I know that you have class this hour so see me before you leave.”
“I’ll see you after school.”
He didn’t want to put Blake out, but if the vice principal wanted to talk to him, Blake will just have to be put out. Trace and Ian gave each other another handshake, but before they went their separate ways, Trace said, “I’ll be back at the end of the day, Ian.”
Ian walked back to his classroom. By this time, Blake was already in his room, feeling very frustrated.
Blake was embarrassed. The little comments here and there he can handle, but Rick’s latest stunt was done in front of the entire lunchroom. Everyone around his table saw it take place and everyone he walked by saw the mess on his pants. Right now, he wants nothing more than to punch the kid in the face. It wouldn’t prove anything, but it would make him feel a lot better. Rick needs someone to stand up to him. Maybe if he does, it will change Rick’s attitude. At the same time, the bullying is wearing on him and the thought of leaving public school has bounced around in his head a few times. With all the hassles of getting him enrolled, Blake doubts that his dads would be okay with him going to back to alternative school or some other school. Rick needs to realize that what he’s doing is just not cool. Blake is hoping that nothing else bad happens in the rest of his classes. Ian didn’t say a thing to Blake as he entered the classroom. Ian’s silence was out of frustration. Blake walked out and headed to his locker so that he wouldn’t be late to his next class.
Today has been rough on Blake. He is tired of Rick’s bullying. There is a quiz to study for in Algebra II, a special photography project that is due in one week, a five-page paper in his English class that is due in one week too. Blake thinks that his dads know nothing about his bullying issues. What he does know is that they won’t be in the dark much longer. He’s also a little lonely. Ian and Trace are around quite a bit, but he wants the company of a peer. Maybe he could hang with Ashley or Michael for a while and that would be cool.
Still, he’s very anxious to get home today. His feet move very fast on his way to Ian’s classroom. There is a note on the door that says to meet Ian in the office. Now Blake has to turn around, head the other way, and go back. What is going on that Ian wants to meet there?
As Blake walks to the office, his mood changes from okay to grumpy. Several kids were pointing their fingers and laughing at him. ‘This teasing is all Rick’s fault,’ Blake thought as he headed to the office. Blake could use a nice warm bath right now. Finally, he made it to the office; sadly, his mood hasn’t improved.
Waiting a bit might help him cool down. He sat down and pulled out some homework. Mrs. Hall and Blake said “Hi!” to each other, and he went right back to his homework. He was still worrying a bit though about Ian. Is his dad in trouble over something? Is he in trouble? Whatever it is, Blake’s positive that it’s not good. Before he could finish one page, the office phone rang and Mrs. Hall answered it.
“Yes, he’s here. I’ll send him right into your office.”
After hanging up, Mrs, Hall says, “Blake, Mr. DeSoto wants to see you in his office.”
Now it was clear, Blake was in trouble, no doubt about it. She pointed to his office and Blake got up. Walking into the office, he was a bit fearful of what was about to come. The student wanted to run for the hills.
Ian, Trace and Mr. Desoto were already in the office, which added a little bit to Blake’s apprehension. Blake was about to pull up a chair by the vice principal.
Mr. DeSoto looked Blake in the eyes and asked, “Blake, you didn’t trip at lunch, did you?”
Mr. DeSoto was quiet while he waited for the student to answer him. Ian was anxious to find out the answer to this question as well.
“No, I didn’t trip. Rick flipped my lunch into my lap.”
The dads gave their son a puzzled look as they both thought, ‘Why would Blake lie?’
Their son wasn’t crazy about the expression on their faces.
“I’m going to call Rick into my office tomorrow and I’m giving him work detail.”
Blake wanted to scream “No!” to Mr. DeSoto because then Rick would know that he snitched on him. Life at school was sure to get worse.
“Blake, you’ve got to tell someone when stuff like this happens to you, okay?” Trace said.
Blake nodded his head to his dad. Mr. Desoto stepped out of his office to talk with Mrs. Hall, and then he came back into his office. He walked right up to Blake. Mr. DeSoto is a big man, so it’s easy to be intimidated by him, and Blake is easily intimidated by authority figures.
“Blake, next time something like this happens, I don’t want to hear about it from your dad, got me?”
Blake said, “Yes, Sir,” but he didn’t have much of a choice in the matter.
“Okay, you three, go home.”
Blake left the office first; he didn’t like being in that office and with any luck, there won’t be a repeat performance.
Trace said, “I’ll see you shortly,” to his family and left to drive home. Ian gave Blake some space as they walked to his room. He knows what it can be like to be bullied. Not only has he seen it going on, but he went through it. It’s something he’s tried to forget. Today though isn’t about him, it’s about the young man in front of him.
Blake was quiet on the way home. He didn’t want to talk about it with Ian. He was afraid of what Ian might say, but he was also upset because now Rick would have more of a reason to hate him. Ian could tell that his son was upset about something, so he decided to wait until he could talk to Trace before talking to their son. Trace was already home, but Blake was in no hurry to talk with him. He decided to wait in the car until Ian was inside the house.
Ian walked into the house after unlocking the front door. The office was his first stop so that he could drop off his school stuff. He then stopped at the bathroom. Finally, it was time to talk with Trace. His husband was lying on the bed staring up at the ceiling, so he decided to join him.
“Well, we saw the entire incident on the camera and yes, the other kid did flip Blake’s tray onto his lap.”
For a second or two, Trace looked back over the years and came to the realization that Blake was just one more kid facing the abuse of a bully. He also came to realize that while Ian and he are Blake’s dads, they aren’t parenting experts and they’re going to make mistakes… and it’s okay.
“I wonder why he kept that from us.”
“Well, I’d guess he was embarrassed.”
“Yeah, I could see that, after all, the poor guy did have his tray dumped on him in front of the kids who were in the cafeteria at the time. I think we should give him some space and wait it out. Hopefully, he’ll want to talk to us.” With that said, Trace gave Ian a kiss and walked out of the bedroom.
Blake was walking into the kitchen when Trace reached out and tapped him on the shoulder. He had no idea who was behind him. As he turned around, Trace spoke.
“Can we talk?”
Trace directed him into the dining room. This time, there was little doubt in Blake’s mind that he was in trouble. They sat down directly across from one another and Trace started to stare into his eyes.
“So you lied to me? If you would have told us what happened, we could have helped you out.”
There was silence. No one said a thing for a couple of seconds.
“I don’t need yours and Ian’s help on this one.”
Blake was saying one thing, but the look in his son’s eyes told Trace that the young man really did need their help. He said it, but didn’t really mean it. Honestly, this bullying situation had him worried. Maybe, it was wrong to have lied to his dads, but if Rick finds out what has happened, he’s going to be mad and that won’t be good for him.
“I… I’m sorry. I was just embarrassed!”
Trace could understand a little bit better why his son kept this from him and Ian. Still it wasn’t right. Blake didn’t even stick around to finish the discussion. He got up and headed for his room. Trace wanted to follow him, but then he remembered that they need to wait for him to be ready to talk, so he resisted the urge to go up after him.
Book One of Family is available for Kindle