April 21

It was an interesting morning at church today.

Marie seems to have her entire family wrapped around her little finger. She actually managed to dislodge her mom, dad, and stupid brother from their ancestral seat across the church from me and my Dad (I think the Crosses have been sitting in that same pew for generations now, I swear).

So, she got them to sit with US! I was like OMG and what the hell, er heck? What’s more is that they all managed to situate things so that Marie and I could sit together with her family spread out to the left of me and my dad on the right. There was absolutely NO escape! I have a feeling that something was in the works from way before church started. This was a total setup, dude! I was PLAYED! I suddenly feel like I’m in one of those stories about religious sects and arranged marriages from birth! It was SO weird this morning!

I really wasn’t prepared to face Marie today. Not after my sexy dream about Billy last night. I felt embarrassed like maybe she might be able to sense that I cheated on her in my dreams and with a BOY no less! But, face her I did and when she smiled and snickered I couldn’t help but kind of give a half-grin back. This brought much approval from everybody except for one guy and we all know that Jamie is still grumpy with me for the whole suspected gang thrashing misunderstanding thing last week at the gym.

Marie’s Mom was just beaming at me and my Dad and Mr. Cross had knowing smirks. My dad looked proud as punch and Jamie looked sour and kept glancing back over at me. He wasn’t staring daggers at me or anything, he just had this really sad and yet irritated expression like something was bothering him. He sat way at the other end of the Cross line on the other side of his dad pouting for the most part. Why was that adorable? God help me I’m so GAY!

At least Marie didn’t try to hold hands with me or anything else like that. She could tell I was kind of shocked and uncomfortable about the move and, really, I don’t think it was entirely her idea. I know about my comment above about she having her family wrapped around her finger, and I suspect it’s true, but in this case I think it was a suggestion she was happy to go along with.

I could tell by the occasional lingering glances she gave me that she was feeling stuff about me. How I wish I could have returned that look, but mostly I just tried to keep from blushing and kept my mind on Mass so I wouldn’t screw up the service with anything stupid…like throwing up from nerves!

I think this left a really wrong impression with Mrs. Cross, because later I’d overhear her in the church community center saying how ‘pious’ I looked during Mass as she was crowing to all of her little church lady friends. She went on about how I looked like a little saint or angel and that my focus was only on the Priest and Jesus! Not even Marie could drag my attention away. BLAAAH!

Jeeze O’Peeza! I’m getting nauseous just remembering this stuff from this morning. Holy cow.

So, yeah, of course after Mass was over we naturally had to go and ‘socialize’ a bit and my Dad couldn’t be conned this time with ‘fevers’ and ‘headaches’. He had the Crosses to back him up this time. We went as a little ‘family herd’ over there. He tasted blood in the water and he would be damned if I was going to miss this opportunity to ‘bond’ more with Marie and her family. He was totally jazzed about it. I couldn’t blame him really because it was the first time he’d ever seen me ‘blossom’ and attract serious female interest. I’m sure they all had plans for wedding bells, cakes, corsages, and consummations (that was a big word I learned reading Pride and Prejudice for English class this week that basically means screwing).

It was actually a pretty enjoyable time, though. I stayed quiet through most of things, however. I nodded and smiled as Marie’s friends from church would come by so she could introduce me, but that was about it. Some of the girls would make little squeals and talk to each other behind their hands as they stared at me. I learned a new trick that kept my complete embarrassment hidden from the girls when they did this. I turned away and found something to drink and pretended to drink it with my back turned. I’m getting very good at anti-socializing!

Unfortunately, Marie caught on really quickly to this and just had to put the thumb screws on.

“You only do that to show them your fine buttocks. I get what you are doing, Brandon Temple!” Marie whispered as she ‘got something to drink’ too.

“Oh would you STOP! I do not! Jeeze! Hehehe!” I said. She can make me squirm, that’s for sure.

I then suddenly sensed someone at my other side and I turned and Jamie was there also ‘getting a drink’. He looked a little glum and I didn’t know what to say so I just kind of froze.

“Jamie! You remember you promised! Be NICE!” Marie whisper-yelled at him angrily.

“Whaaat?” Jamie looked at her with irritable confusion and sounding like he was wondering why Marie thought he was going to pull something.

I felt like I was caught in a crossfire between two warring tribes. I started to back up to get out from between them before the fists flew but then Jamie reached out and gently took my shoulder because he wanted me to stay.

“Don’t go dude! I wanted to talk to you.” He looked at me with an earnestness in his beautiful blue eyes that stopped my running away despite myself. Marie crossed her arms, glared at Jamie, and tapped her foot like an angry mom. Hehehe!

“Sis, I ain’t gonna be mean. I promised, right? I don’t wanna be that way anyways. K? I just need to talk with him about something at school. I kind of want to do it man to man, yah know?” Jamie sort of pleaded with Marie.

“Well, ok. But if Brandon looks unhappy in any way I’m coming over here and kicking your shins in . . . church or no church!” Marie warned him. Hahahaha! It took all I had not to bust up laughing at them. Never having had siblings, I found this squabbling quite entertaining.

“Ok, well, whatever. I won’t be long and Brandon and I are friends. We don’t fight on purpose.” Jamie dismissed Marie with a wave of his hand which had no effect on her at all. She continued standing there boring holes through her brother’s eye sockets. Again, too funny. Oh my god!

I felt a little better about things when Jamie mentioned that I was his ‘friend’, but I didn’t know how much I could believe it. I thought that he might just be saying nice things to make Marie go away so he could tear into me.

But, as has been the case lately with Jamie, I was wrong. He turned and looked me in the eyes and then looked at the floor and shifted his feet uncomfortably. He looked like a four year old about to tell his mom he just stole a cookie from the cookie jar and that he felt bad about it.

“What’s up, Dude? Things cool?” I hoped to help him get off his chest whatever it was he wanted to say.

“Yeeeahh….uh, not really.” Jamie found all kinds of things to look at instead of me. I figured I shouldn’t get impatient with him. I felt kind of bad he felt so uncomfortable talking to me. I actually got a weird thought that he might have wanted to tell me he ‘liked’ me or something. That would have been really weird! Like next level weird!

“What’s the matter?” I felt a little worried about him to be honest. Whatever it was it was serious because I had never actually seen Jamie serious about anything before. He’s usually pretty goofy.

“I caught a couple of the guys, . . . uh . . . like my friends, and they were picking on somebody pretty bad. I felt really sorry for the kid. He’s so small and stuff. . .” Jamie got the strength to look me in the eye when he said that. My jaw dropped. Jamie Cross was actually telling me this? Jamie Cross? Why?

“I hate to say it, but you were right about them. I’ve been pretty dumb about it. I hadn’t noticed them doing things like that before. I think it’s all my fault.” Jamie hung his head in shame.

I didn’t really know what he was getting at. Did he put them up to doing that? OMG!

“Why do you think it’s your fault? Did you tell them to do that?” I didn’t understand. Jamie doesn’t seem the sort to sic his goons on anyone else. He has always just sounded naïve and in no way malicious. He HAS been dumb though. That’s for damn sure! Not if he couldn’t see what douche nozzles his  so-called friends were.

“I didn’t see it coming. I’d ignored stuff that I’d see them do sometimes. I didn’t say anything. That poor little guy . . . dude.” Jamie looked like he wanted to cry.

“What did they do, Jamie?” I was getting concerned. Who was this poor kid and what did those assholes do to him?

“They stripped him naked and pushed him into a trash can.” Jamie said quietly. He was looking like he was seeing the whole thing over again.

“He was crying for them to stop . . . but it just made them do worse things. How are those my friends, Brandon? Why didn’t I do anything?” I saw a tear roll down Jamie’s cheek so I turned him around to ‘get another drink’.

“Marie said something to me last night that kind of made sense. You need those guys to stay popular. They are part of your football team so you go along with things even though you don’t know if you should or not.” I said and squeezed Jamie’s shoulder.

“Oh . . .” was all he said. It was so final and sounded so down. I hope I said that right. I hope I said the right thing. He sounded so lost!

“You might want to follow what your heart says more, Jamie. If something looks or sounds wrong, it probably is. You might want to talk to Coach about it. Hopefully he can help if this kind of thing happens again.” I offered.

“OK, I guess. That’s snitching though. The team hates snitchers.” Jamie said with great uncertainty. He sure was in a bind. Those bastards have him buffaloed too! What complete asswipes those dudes are!

“Is everything ok over here?” It was Mr. Cross.

“Yes, Mr. Cross. Jamie and I were just talking about a project at school. It’s ok.” I said.

“Well, ok, but you guys come on over. They finally got the donuts in and some coffee. Boy . . . do I need one of those!” Mr. Cross said as he looked at the coffee maker like he’d been lusting after it for years. He looked like he wanted to kiss it or worse. Wow! It must be hard getting old!

“Thanks Brandon. I owe you one. I’m sorry about Friday. I didn’t mean to fly off the handle like that. I guess . . . you hit the nail on the thumb or whatever.” Jamie said to me, gathering himself up again.

I giggled and so did he, though I don’t think he knew why. He totally screwed up that saying! I wish he didn’t fit the ‘dumb blonde’ stereotype, but . . . Jamie kind of does!

Then, something dawned on me and I stopped and took Jamie’s arm. He turned around to look at me wondering what was wrong.

“Who was it the guys trashed, Jamie?” I got a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach as I began to realize something. I thought I knew who it was they attacked which meant his getting nude-trashed was maybe partly my fault too! Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten in the way and protected him. A quick snap on the ass with a towel was a better thing than being stripped and trashed. Oh no!

“It was that little guy. The one you were talking about Friday. Jimmy something.” Jamie shrugged because he couldn’t remember the last name.

It was all I needed though to lose my appetite.

Awww . . . I really messed up. I shouldn’t have interfered! I just made it worse for Jimmy. If he’d taken the towel snap the goons would have been satisfied with that and not felt the need to ‘avenge’ themselves upon poor Jimmy.

I guess I need to just keep to myself from now on. I only make things worse when I try to make them better.

Poor Jimmy LaPlane! What had I done?

This is Brandon putting his nose where it doesn’t belong.

Published January 13, 2019