Chapter 8 – Spies With Eyes
Walking around school for the passed month since Salem and I had last been at my house was by no means, a relaxing experience to be honest. A month was enough time to ensure me that no serious words had been spread about us being caught by that group of kids when Salem was caressing my face. Yet, I didn’t buy it. Sorry. But, I’m no idiot. I know those kids were talking. I can practically hear it in my mind. I heard the echoes & whispers circle around in the walls of the inner parts of my brain everywhere I went, haunting me. I had no peace. I had no relaxation. No matter where I went or what I did, I heard those voices. I practically heard them talking amongst one another saying- “Eww.”, “Bro, they’re GAY.”, or the famous, “Who’s the top?” while they giggled with one another as the homosexually related topic amused their teenage minds & gave them something to smirk about as they ruthlessly made fun of & mocked the situation.
Even if a few of those kids WERE females, which, I’m sorry for my sexist analyzation, are more likely to be less offensive in regards to LGBT related topics than boys are, it didn’t soothe or ease my mind in the slightest.
Those whole past four weeks, I had been anxiously waiting for some random kid to say, “Bro, …you’re gay?” It was the type of nervous checking that I did everytime I stepped into those halls, which were full of kids, that you do when you watch a scary movie when you are a small child and, afterwards, obsessively check every nook and cranny of every dark space, alley, and closet, afraid some creature or ghost is staring at you that you saw in the film. Only, this was my movie. I was living it. And, I was the main character. I was waiting for the horrid face to glare right at me, with a grin, that was haunting me and say that they knew my secret. I was waiting for the face that had been stalking my mind to, finally, show itself & reveal to me who they were. I know it’s there. I feel it. I can smell it. No one can convince me that it’s not there. I know it is. I can tell it’s smell… It can’t hide from me.
It haunts you.
It wants you.
There is something attacking you.
There is something smacking you!
It will never stop swallowing you.
It will never stop following you.
It is like taking a cold shower.
You feel like a dead flower.
You will obtain unnecessary desires.
It will burn you with its fires.
It laughs at how your soul tires.
It will make you work more than ever before.
It will make you crawl on all four.
It will make you bang & scream behind a locked door.
You will never get there, because, you will only despair.
Even if you reach the top, you will only drop.
You will be unhappy & it will never stop.
Even if you are tall, you are, only, small.
You will fall.
You will stall.
It wishes to embrace your shelf,
And take all that is there & leave you with nothing but despair.
It does not care while it is there.
It pulls your hair.
All of your efforts will be in vain.
It will only cause you more pain.
You feel itchy & dry all over the place.
But, you cannot touch the flower, because, it inside of your vase.
The air feels toxic wherever you go.
You cannot deny this.
You already know.
There is a thickness in the air.
You cannot breathe while it is there.
It’s toxic fumes,
And It’s black perfumes,
Come as it resumes.
You are angry. You are suffocated.
You are interrogated,
As, you are surrounded by everything that is hated.
It is like bad luck.
This is why you are stuck
How can this finally go?
Only your intuitive eyes will let you know.
They’ll know where to go…
I put my pen down as I sat in my dining room. I, actually, began writing this page earlier that morning in my Biology I LAB class. We were dissecting something and I had no notebook on me as I randomly began getting the words, quickly, in my mind as I always did. I had to run and grab some paper towels by the classroom sink to write this one down as I wrote it, quickly, on scraps of paper so that I would not forget it. Two minutes later, it was done. My teacher, then, yelled at me to take my seat. “Johnson, your partner can’t do this alone.” I didn’t even really realize that I was hunched over by the sink, anxiously and quickly writing the words that swirled around my mind onto random pieces of paper to create the piece that was right in front of me.
He didn’t see what I was doing. He had no idea that I was writing a book or was trying to for that matter. There’s a quote that I came up with about that which was inspired by how people judge a genius before their work is completed since they do not have the intelligence or understanding on what they are doing- “A blind man sees the pieces. An intuitive man sees the puzzle.” The pages of my book were all of the peices of the puzzle that I would, one day, put all together in order to assemble my book in its final form. And, I just created a new one. It’s like an artist. Others just see paint and an empty blank white canvas. But, he doesn’t. He sees a beautiful and magnificent scene in front of him in his mind that he’s about to create. And, it is his job to create it and make it a reality & bring it into this world for others to see, despite, their doubt and blindness in the beginning. These are the people that actually make a difference in this world. Look at Edison. People just saw him with a potato and called him insane and probably laughed at him. However, without his determination, that freaking potato would not have created a light bulb. We would have no lights, computers, or smartphones. Thank you Edison. I understand you. If you’re out there listening, in spirit, I want to personally thank you for never giving up the image you saw in your mind that others failed to see. I want to thank you for ignoring those voices, both in your mind & in real life, that tried to convince you that you weren’t good enough, or strong enough, and tried to make you believe that you were wrong. I want to thank you for knowing that YOU WERE RIGHT. You proved them all wrong. You went against the norm. You kept fighting. You beat the odds. You’re a true hero, which is why you are one of the best. You inspire me. You inspire me to do the same. You inspire me to never give up no matter what anyone or anything ever tries to trick me to believe.
I looked at my pen again after I copied the page from the paper towels into my neatly assembled burgundy notebook on my dining room table that afternoon at 4:13pm.
My pen was blue. I love blue pens. I don’t know why, but, something about a blue pen just relaxes me. All of my pages of my books were written in blue cursive. I hate black. It’s so dark and negative. I don’t like writing with it. I don’t like even touching one. I don’t care if anyone finds that unusual. I’m very sensitive to people, feelings, and the energy that’s around me. I always have been. A black pen just makes me feel like I’m writing with a storm cloud.
It’s funny how some of those tiny little details, in life, that we sometimes forget about can really make or break our feelings or our mood for the day. Me writing with a blue pen really satisfied me and made me happy for some reason. It relaxed me. It fulfilled me. Yet, if I wrote in black, I subconsciously, would have had a more dampened mood for the rest of the day until I fell asleep or until something, eventually, changed my mood. It was interesting to me. It was interesting because how I felt about the little details that Salem so easily carried around wherever he went are what ultimately made him stand out to me. His dark hair, his accent, the way he reacted to things, and how he subtly treated me in a nonchalant manor are just some of the traits about him that I liked so much. Take those away…. and he’s not the same anymore. He wouldn’t be Salem. They are the pieces to his puzzle that ultimately created him. Just like the pages of my book, you need them all like letters to create words & words to create a story. The small things, when put together, are what ultimately create the big things. Like bricks to a pyramid or tiny grains of sand to build a mighty land. Salem’s little pieces are… what I loved about him so much. Hehe. I loved them. I didn’t want a single one missing. It’s like spices in a dish. They make a difference. They created & added the flavor that I got from him that I enjoyed savoring so much in secret. And, that’s what I realized when I was staring at that pen.
Why did I write this page? Because, The Darkness is what follows you. It’s like the invisible shadow that slowly infects you in your life and takes away your joy. In this case, the darkness was those kids. It was the conversations I imagined that I just KNEW that they were having with each other. It was my fear of being caught and someone making fun of me when I least expected it. It was the fear of knowing kids saw me with another boy and would all make me feel bad about it or COULD make me feel bad. I didn’t like it. I was getting frustrated & upset. They had power over me, whether, they chose to abuse and use it or not. And, it made me feel vulnerable. I HATE that. I don’t like feeling vulnerable. Maybe, that’s why I hated moving so much. I had no control. I was vulnerable at that moment, just like when my dad left. I had no say in what the outcome of my life would be at that moment. I just had to let it happen, watch, and hate it while I did nothing about it. And, now I was vulnerable as well. Only, this time, I had no control of my reputation at school. And, that angered me and made me sad all at once and I walked around with a knot in my throat. If you’ve ever had that knot of emotion, that’s anger and sadness swirling around in your body with no form of comfort or release as they choke you by the throat, violently and mercilessly as you gasp to breathe. And, I was being choked that whole month. I couldn’t breathe. The only things that allowed me to gasp a bit of breathe as I tried to survive were my mom, Sarah, Nelly, the restaurant, my writing and… that boy from Brooklyn that was the deadly Hurricane that washed away the pain from my life, somehow, whenever I saw him or he kissed me on my cheek or lips. I don’t know what about Salem’s gusts of wind that he blew on me made me feel so much better. It was still a mystery to me. But, those gusts are what breathed in air and new life into my body & lungs again. It was like CPR. He was breathing new life into me. He was my oxygen. I just needed him to be able to survive, once again. I felt like he was the life support at a hospital while I had been sick, that was what made me survive and made me feel better. His boyish breathe, both, physically & figuratively, was inside of my lungs & I could breathe again.
I didnt even have the time to really react to this, I don’t know, “relationship” we had. It was so weird and new to me, still. It’s not fair. I barely even established to myself that I liked boys and, then, I get caught!? Are you serious? Just give me a few seconds to breathe and feel comfortable about it, first, before people see me. Also, I was getting irritated that Salem and I even had to sneak around and “hide” in the first place.
I was in the school gymnasium one day and saw two seniors kiss each other in front of everyone when the teacher was not looking and the other kids said nothing. No reaction, no pointing, staring, or laughing was done. There was no silent debate amongst them all about whether or not they felt that the relationship should be accepted or was “good” or “bad”, But, with two boys it’s a problem? THAT’S not fair. Why? Why can’t I be happy in front of others, too? Why do I have to be ashamed of Salem? Why do we have to hide it like we’re going to the bathroom?
You know what it feels like? While everyone else is in the dining room enjoying the fine dining experience as they intuitively eat their meals and enjoy each other’s company and time, I have to sneak off in another room in private and make sure that I hide every single rushed bite I take in order to ensure no one dares to see me enjoying it. I hate that! I want to sit with everyone else, too! I want to enjoy the fine dining experience as well. Why do I have to eat scraps in the back with my back hunched over while everyone else gets to sit in the dining room?
I was still thinking to myself on my table as I heard our house phone ring. I sort of ignored it without realizing it.
“Sigh.” I sighed to myself and got up to walk into the kitchen where our cordless hung on the wall by the fridge.
“Hello?” I said, probably, a bit to briskly with a back tone of annoyance from my private thoughts that I had been going over to myself at our dining room table.
“…” I heard nothing but a little whisper. I couldn’t make out what it was saying.
“Hello???” I said a bit louder, feeling my eyebrows furrow from the unusual lack of dialogue on the other side of the line as I clamped the phone in between my shoulder and head to hold it.
“Meet me at my dad’s, K?” Salem said.
“Salem? What? Where? Uh, the pizza place?” I asked him.
‘Uuhuh. Yeah. I got a surprise for you. Sorry, I couldn’t make it for the walk. Uhm, some stuff came up at school. Anyway, that doesn’t matter.” He said.
“Salem… I’m home, already. My mom isn’t even back, yet. She’s going to be working until 4:00am. She-” I was interrupted.
“Wait, you’re home alone?” I heard him giggle to himself.
“What’s so funny about that?” I wondered. I wasn’t in the mood.
“Can I come over?” He said. Okay, you know when you can (hear) someone smiling as they are talking on the phone? Yeah. I heard it. He was smiling.
“Uhm–” I was trying to come up with a way to like… no offense, say- “No.” Salem hadn’t been to my house for a month. And, as much as I love his company, I didn’t feel like being with him alone at that moment. “Oh! You know what? I have to go to CVS and pick up some Hydrocoritsone Cream for my mom, anyway. Uh-uhm… she had a procedure done on her ear and the stitches are itching her.” Good lie, Applebee. That’s just great. Look what you’ve turned yourself into. “So, I’ll meet you at Nelly’s, okay? Cool idea. I could grab some meatballs for dinner. Thanks.” I said, quickly. Hehehe. Pants on fire.
Stepping inside of Nelly’s at 5:30pm, I noticed that it was getting pretty dark, already, probably, due to the colder weather. November was actually my favorite month. In fact, November 20th was my old best friend’s birthday. Interestingly enough, I remembered, as I walked in there, that, it was his birthday that day. I realized that when I viewed my iPhone’s phone screen to check my messages.
I walked inside of the place to see Salem sitting alone at a booth with his elbow on the table and his hand holding his chin up in an almost bored way. HAHA. Aww. He looked almost sad like he was lonely and just couldn’t wait to see me in order to ease his boredom. It was so cuteeee. He saw me and gave me a grin and perked right up. It sort of reminded me of when a dog perks their ears up in order to hear something that catches their attention as their whole body language and chemistry changes while they fully focus on what they are listening in on, whether, it is you talking to them or it is some foreign noise that they hear in the distance and they are trying to listen in and decipher, whether, it is friendly or a possible threat. Hehe. See what I mean? The little things that Salem does and how he does them just fully entertain me and make me grin. It’s so interesting to me how he acts, sometimes.
Things, definitely, had died down since the whole fiasco of us storming out of his house the last month. His father & Sarah had spoken with me in private, one afternoon, when Salem was out. They wouldn’t tell me where he was, which, I thought was a bit odd to be honest, but, I wasn’t even shocked at that point by the unusual factor. I am, also, not one to argue or pry any type of information from someone about things that are really none of my business. So, I did not try to press any information further beyond that. His father understood all of Salem’s actions that day, because, apparently, he was already used to his son’s behavior. However, he said one thing to me, that day, which caught me a little bit off guard. “…Just don’t ask him about his mother, please.” He said to me. I just nodded and told him that I would oblige to his request. Nelly also told me that he was so thankful and pleased to have me as his own son’s friend and that I was wise beyond my years and exceeded his own expectations to be so patient with Salem even though he can be… a bit difficult and different at times. Nelly still had no idea about the outburst between Salem and I in his room that first time or the frantic emotional sessions that I had experienced with him in my bedroom, soon, afterwards. He was also oblivious to the experience which we had both shared on my very own bed that had permanently changed my life when he made wild & sweet love to me for the very first time.
“Hey, man.” Salem said and almost hugged me, but, awkwardly, stopped as he widened his eyes, realizing that we were in a public Italian restaurant with 7 customers sitting, 4 on line, Sarah at the register looking at me waving to greet me, and 3 workers behind the counter whipping out the meals and slices which were being ordered from the place by the locals of the town for dinner. It made me smile to see that reaction of his and he just awkwardly shook my hand and said. “Uhm, yes. Hello.” As he straightened himself up in an unnatural way to try and add realism to his statement. He looked like a tin man with hinges that needed greasing from how he was all stiff and locked up and his shoulders were up out of fear of being caught hugging me.
I giggled. “Hey.” I said before he replied to me.
“Oh! Uhm. Okay. Wana sit down?’ he said turning to the table and we decided to sit and order ourselves the works. Apparently, Salem loved meat lovers pizza, which I would say is adorable. But, it really made no sense. We got that, my salad, Cesar dressing, grape soda, and my side of meatballs and bread with sauce in a bowl. See, I love to get a side of meatballs and kind of eat them like soup and dunk the bread in the sauce with a salad on the side. This time, I got grape soda. Why not? I always get orange. I’m sick of orange, already.
A few minutes passed and he smiled as he put his phone down from replying to a text. “Okay. You ready?” He asked me.
“Uhmm… sure.” I said a little smile creeping my lips as I looked down. I don’t know why. But, even though Salem and I , uhm, had a few more sexual interludes with one another since my very first time, as quickly as possible, since he wasn’t allowed alone in his house, Salem still made me shy and feel awkward whenever he directly looked at me to the point where the only way that I could catch my breath was if I looked away from him, slightly.
“So, I know you. Okay? Like, I’m real good at understanding what people want.” He said with a grin, obviously, a sexual reference creeping into the malice of his eyes as he looked at me. He knew how good he made me feel when we ‘played with each other’. I blushed fire red, immediately.
“Oh, god.” I said. I was a basket case. I was so red in the face! He can’t do this to me in front of random people!
“I know you’re a writer and everything and your stuff means alot to you. You know? So….” He said and stopped to pull out a Tommy Hilfiger duffle bag. He pulled out a little flat box. It was short but about the size of a table placemat. “I thought this might help you out…I uh, I got you something.” He said. This time he was the one looking at the table and grinned to himself. Salem- Salem got me a present? That’s so sweet. Him? This guy? The guy who almost beat me up bought me something? I giggled and felt all funny and bubbly as my face turned hotter than it already was. I don’t know why. But, I got a little ‘happy’ down there and I squeezed my legs together hard as I squirmed around relishing the jelly-like feeling I was experiencing. I felt like I was having an emotional orgasm from the inside out from my crotch. It felt soo good.
“Wow…. Okay. Great, er-thanks!” I said, smiling, as I took my hands and started to pick and pry the box opened. A few moments later, I felt what was inside. It was cold and felt like metal. I pulled it out. I was honestly curious what it was.
It was- it was a laptop! Salem got me a laptop. I, honestly, was not expecting that. I was kind of stunned and stared at it for a moment, not really knowing how to react or what to even say. He bought me something? It wasn’t even my birthday. And, it looked like it wasn’t even cheap. It was brand new.
“I hope you like it. It’s no MacBook Pro or anything, but, the guy at the Microsoft store said it’d suit you the best and what I thought you can use it for, ya know? I told him you’re a writer. I lied and said you were my teacher and were a published author already so he’d gimme the best of the best.” Salem said in a low voice. For some reason, it was like he didn’t want anybody else to hear us. “I know your mom has one, but,… I-I thought maybe you can use this to write and put all of your books together in one place, privately, wherever you go. Like, you don’t need to use her stuff anymore, ya know? You got your own, now.” He didn’t even know this, but, the last laptop I owned was…. my dad’s old one which he took when he left. I never really used it for my books. But, it was mine anyway that I used to talk to my friends on Discord on. Now, I had my very own. I didn’t need my dad’s anymore. I didn’t NEED him anymore. I didn’t even need to use my mom’s. I didn’t feel vulnerable, like I couldn’t have my own things or like my father or life had some hold on me or power over me in regards to a computer anymore, stopping me from moving on.. I had independence. I don’t even think Salem realized, emotionally, what that meant for me.
“Wow. Uhm– this is great. Wow. Thank you.” I said smiling. Salem is so … surprising and just really interestingly unusual and sweet, sometimes. But, this was just very unexpected.
“I worked real hard this month to pay it off. That’s why I kind of haven’t been around to meet with you. I-” he kept talking, but, I wasn’t listening.
Looking at this laptop, seeing Salem’s face, and eating this salad all made me realize that no matter what I had gone through or was going through, he- he was my friend. He was there. He was actually there for me. He was there for ME, Johnny Applebee. He chose me out of everyone he could have chosen. He liked me. He cared about me, too and it took me a full month to finally realize that he really appreciated me. He took my hand quickly and said something that I’ll never forget. “…I want you to… be my boyfriend, Johnny.” He said and pulled his hand away as he smiled and looked at the table. “I never had one.” He said. I just looked at him. He couldn’t even look up at me. That’s how awkward he felt about it, which to me is what made it special. It wasn’t just the laptop that I enjoyed, it was how he gave it to me and that he worked for it with his own two hands to buy it for me that meant so much to me. It wasn’t what he did that I loved, it was how he did it that mattered. That’s what made him special. That’s what made him Salem. I didn’t just like his puzzle. I liked his pieces.