April 17

I was practicing basketball today and it’s weird but I seem to attract more attention when I’m doing something I’d prefer to do alone than when I would prefer to do something with someone else. Does that make any sense? Not to me either!

I was shooting long shots to practice my aim when a blur managed to swoop the ball away just as it fell from the hoop. My first reaction was ‘Oh damn. Now I’ll have to go check out another ball and try to explain where the other one went’. But, instead, the blur slowed down so I could recognize who it was.

Again, a weird surprise, but, I suppose, considering I’m going to go out with his little sister it made some kind of sense.

“Let’s see what you got, Loverboy!” Jamie dribbled the ball and started a diagonal play for the hoop. Rather than rush him, I let him try to make a basket, which he nearly did. Just as the ball bounced I was on it in a leap and grabbed it away from him before he could catch it. Jamie is my height, but doesn’t have my reach, I guess. But he’s so fast!

I dribbled away from him and attempted an under the leg pass to dodge his grab, but he got in behind me and got the ball again. That blur of his! It’s like playing with the Flash or something!

That time Jaime did a long shot and the ball went through the basket without even touching the rim! Holy Cow!

I managed to get the ball before he did and instead of running with it I bounced it once, faked him out and did a layup which made the basket. That one had been easy for me because I’ve done it a lot of times.

“Holy shit, Loverboy! Why aren’t you on the Junior Varsity team? You got some moves!” I couldn’t help but laugh at his comment. We both stopped for a bit because we were both panting. Sweating, Jaime was even sexier. The sweat made his tight t-shirt cling to his body. I looked away before I got caught staring too long. Sure, Jaime is good looking, but he’s also friends with a bunch of idiots. I can’t trust someone like that. If he gets my ‘Gay Vibe’ he’ll likely turn on me and sic those jock assholes on me faster than I can blink.

“I’m probably going for tryouts next year. Until then, I practice.” I said to him.

“You can get into a lot of other things other than basketball! You could go out for track! You could go out for soccer or lacrosse! Probably not football yet. You need more meat for that, but your height would be great in just about everything!” Jamie encouraged with a big grin.

It is very hard to think bad things about such a cute dude with such a nice smile. Jamie really seems to be genuinely nice. I really don’t get it why he keeps making friends with jerks.

“I guess I should. I never thought about that before. My dad wants me into basketball so I just focus on that I guess.” I went back to dribbling and making shots. I couldn’t look at Jamie anymore, he was liable to Out me if I kept staring at that crotch of his anymore. Also, my shyness started to kick in. He may have been a nice guy, but he made me nervous.

He was at my side in a second and stopped me from dribbling, but not to take the ball away to make a play. He wanted my attention back. Why?

“So, can we like, talk and stuff?” Jamie became all serious, which is weird for him.

“Um, sure. I guess.” My instincts told me to keep an eye out for the rest of the gang. They might have been lying in wait. I couldn’t forget that I pretty much humiliated one of the ‘team’ when I protected Jimmy that one time. They could be out for my blood. I couldn’t help but be afraid. I couldn’t have taken them all on and I had been very much alone and exposed out there.

I felt so stupid for having made the decision to come out on the basketball courts all alone. It was like playing in front of the grizzly bear’s cave and you know he’s inside somewhere. So I stopped walking and started looking around for places to run if need be. I guess Jamie picked up on that.

“Hey, Brandon? What gives? Aren’t we going back to the gym?” Jamie really did look confused about the way I must have been acting.

“Um…naw. I usually just go home and shower and change. It’s, uh…cold in there and stuff.” I must have sounded really nervous.

“Oh, uh, ok…I guess. I guess I can do the same thing, just for today. My mom might wonder why I’m coming in smelling like a monkey…but that’s ok! Let’s walk together, K?” He gave me that smile again.

I remembered what my Sensei taught me about taking control of things by making the decisions as to where to go and what to do when in a nervous situation. So I headed toward my normal gate out the back fence. Then I thought better of it. I changed course and started toward the classrooms.

“Like dude? Where are we going?” Jaime was getting a little irritated with me. I didn’t care. If he was leading me into an attack I could give a damn what he was feeling at that moment. I also had a good excuse.

“Oh…I almost forgot. I need to get my bike.” I said as a kind of an apology.

“Oh, well sure! I mean, I don’t have a bike so like I hope you don’t ride off before we can talk a little!” Jamie was actually pouting and it was cute as hell! Oh damn that boy!

“Oh, yeah. No…I just can walk it home. Until you need to turn off toward your house anyway.” I had said a little more calmly.

The thought had occurred to me that the gang might have been waiting near my bike and it’s there that the attack would have come. But, I would go to Hell before losing my bike to those assholes. I might have been able to fight them off long enough to hop my bike and make a break for it!

Jamie caught me looking around like trying to look around corners and inside empty classrooms and whatever. Naturally I was on high alert for where the attack would come! Unfortunately, I could only be partially in control of this situation. I was alone and had Jamie probably positioning me with his IPhone marking me with where he was so his friends could follow at a distance. Bastard!!

Jamie stopped and put his hands on his hips and got this scowl on his face. Wow, he can look pissed when he wants to!

“You totally think I’m leading you into a trap of some kind, don’t you?” Jamie said a little insulted. So what if he was insulted, if he had planned what I think he had planned then he could take a flying fig at a fart monster!

I didn’t try to deny it. It was obvious that I didn’t trust him or the situation.

“Kind…of. No offense but your friends make me nervous as hell. They’re bullies and they hurt kids smaller than them all the time, Jamie!” It was my turn to be angry and Jamie looked shocked by this and what I was saying.

“When? When did they?” Jamie looked horrified, but was it just an act? How could he NOT know what his fellow jock buddies get up to in this school?

“K…you know that little guy, Jimmy?” I asked.

“Uh…uh…not really.” Jamie really did try to remember.

“See? You don’t even know people in this school!” I sagged my shoulders and glared at Jamie. I didn’t know where this courage came from. It was really weird for me!

“Well…there’s a lot of kids in this school. I try to make friends with as many as I can, but I can’t know everybody! That’s like, not possible!” Jamie said with what seemed total honesty.

“Well…Jimmy is a little guy. He’s not big like you guys and he’s two whole grades lower than you! You guys really hurt him when you flick him with towels and stuff! That hurts a lot of people and your ‘friends’ know that! That’s why they do it!” I said with sadness.

“My friends would NEVER do that kind of thing! Geeze, Brandon! I thought I had you figured out! But…you are pretty mean and unfair! I don’t know if I WANT you going out with my sister!” Jamie was angry. His face was all flushed and his ears got really red.

But…I would not be quiet about it. He had to know!

“Jamie, this really has nothing to do with me or your sister or hopefully you for that matter. I think you are cool, actually! But…you need to open your eyes! Watch your friends when they don’t know you’re there! See what they do! If I’m wrong, then you can say so and I’ll apologize, but I’m not wrong and I’m sorry that I had to be the one to wake you up to the fact that your ‘friends’ are assholes!” I never talked this way to anyone before. Not ever. Especially not someone as popular as Jamie. He is the King of this school. Maybe that’s why I had felt compelled to bring it up to him.

But…

In all honesty, I think I just signed my death warrant today. Jamie just stomped off shaking his head after that. He didn’t even forbid me from taking his sister out. He didn’t say anything at all!

Actually, Jamie looked like he was about to cry and that hurt me to see. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings…but it had to be said.

This campus is terrorized by those son’s of bitches. Jamie is King like I said even if he doesn’t quite understand that. It’s weird, but he seems a little naïve! But then…it could just be an act.

I learned long ago not to trust anyone quickly. You get hurt doing that. Hurt bad!

If I’m going to be hurt now, at least I’ll be ready to defend myself and they’ll have a fight on their hands! I won’t make it easy for them!

They’ll have to kill me! Maybe my death will wake this fucking school administration up to the fact they got a BIG problem in this school…and they are part of it!

It’s a prison complete with unfortunate ‘accidents’, shankings, and prison food! The only thing is, the only crime we were ever guilty of was…

…being born!

This is Brandon…Paladin Healer of the Earthen Ring!

Published October 14, 2018