Reorientation by Colin Kelly

Jason announces to his family that he’s gay. His sisters and his father tell him that it doesn’t make any difference, they love him regardless of whether he’s gay or straight or whatever. But what about his mother? Can she come to accept that her son is gay?


Chapter 35 Back to School      Story Index >>

On Monday morning Jason’s alarm woke him at six thirty a.m. He groaned and pulled up the sides of his pillow so they covered his ears. It didn’t work, he could still hear Train’s Drops of Jupiter threatening to force him to get out of bed. To get out of bed and, shortly thereafter, to go to school. On a Monday, and not just any Monday, but the first Monday after spring break.

“Damn.”

Jason tried to shut off his clock radio, but he couldn’t reach it, and Train continued its increasingly successful efforts to get him out of bed. He shuffled to the left side of his bed, but he still couldn’t reach the clock radio.

“Damn.”

He finally pulled himself out of bed and stood, somewhat unsteadily. He looked for the clock radio to shut it off. That’s when he saw that someone had moved it to the back edge of his nightstand. And Jason knew who had moved it. He had moved it himself, so he couldn’t shut off the alarm and go back to sleep and let Jen and Thea get into the bathroom so he’d end up either missing his breakfast or his shower or he’d be late for school or any combination of these undesirable occurrences.

“Damn!”

He reached around the lamp and shut off the alarm. He left the clock radio where he’d moved it, confirming that tomorrow would also be a difficult morning to wake up. He stripped, grabbed clean boxer briefs and a maroon T, opened his bedroom door, and seeing no one he hurried into the bathroom and shut and locked the door. When he finished showering and drying, brushing his teeth, and combing his hair, he returned to his bedroom and dressed. Jeans, a dark blue short-sleeve shirt, and a pair of Abeo Kicks.

As he entered the kitchen he yawned.

“Morning, Mom.”

“Good morning to you too, Jase,” Betty said. “What would you like for breakfast?”

“Do we have any bagels?”

“Yes, we have plain and sesame.”

“Then a toasted sesame bagel, please and I’ll put some of this butter and peanut butter on it.”

“Coming up.”

He got up and got the milk and orange juice from the refrigerator, and poured himself a generous glass of each.

Jen came downstairs and sat down across from him.

“Morning, Jase.”

“Morning, Jen. Ready for your first day back at school?”

“No.”

“No?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“I still don’t have my SD card back from the police. I need my SD card. It’s got all of my pictures and backups of my contacts. It’s so unfair that they haven’t given it back to me yet. That whole thing with you being attacked by those guys is pretty much over, and they don’t need my SD card anymore.”

“I agree, Jen.”

Their father came downstairs for breakfast and sat at one end of the table, followed by Thea who sat in her regular spot next to Jason.

“Good morning, everyone.”

“Hi Dad,” Jason responded, followed by Thea’s, “Hi back at you, Dad. And to everyone else, too.”

“Good morning, dear,” Betty said to Tim. “What would you like for breakfast?”

“That toasted bagel that Jase is eating looks pretty good.”

“Hands off my bagel!” Jason exclaimed as he theatrically pulled his plate away from his father’s reach with a grin.

“Dad, I have a question,” Jen said, sounding frustrated. “When will I get my SD card back?”

“And a very good morning to you too, Jen,” Tim replied. “Carter Allen told me that Erik Noonan should have an answer sometime today.”

“Sorry, good morning, Dad. But I really, really need my SD card. It’s got all of my pictures and I need some of those for a World History report due this week.”

“Alright, Jen. I’ll phone Carter Allen’s office now and leave him a message to get back to you today.” He stood and started toward the living room where he could place the call without having a noisy conversation going on in the background. Jen got up and hugged her father before he could leave the kitchen.

“Thanks, Dad! You’re the greatest!”

Tim left the room to place the call, and Jen sat down and began drumming her fingers on the tabletop.

“Jen, please stop that noise,” Betty asked.

“Uh, sorry. I didn’t realize I started doing it.”

“Hey, Jen,” Jason asked, “are you walking to school with me and Ron and Thea as usual?”

“No, Devin Elrich’s mom is picking me and taking us to school today. Devin and I are working together on our English 2 project. We’re going to get together in the Library before school and during our Homeroom to plot how we’re going to do our parts of the project.”

“You have a two-person project in English?”

“Yes. Everyone in class is in two person teams. Devin and I have to write a short script that has a girl and a guy having a discussion or an argument or whatever. It has to be between four and five minutes long, and we have to be the actors and present it to the class.”

“Wow, that sounds like fun,” Jason said. “How are you getting out of Homeroom to work on the project?”

“Mr. Becker is our Homeroom teacher and our English 2 teacher. So we’ve all been excused from Homeroom today.”

“Cool,” Thea said.

The doorbell rang, and Tim called out, “I’ll get it!” from the living room. About twenty seconds later he walked into the kitchen followed by a teen. Jason did a double-take. He’d never seen this guy at school, and he would definitely would have remembered him. He also definitely would classify the guy as hot. In fact, as way, way hot. He assumed this must be Devin Elrich.

Jen stood up. “Hi, Devin. This is my family. Family, this is Devin Elrich.” Devin looked around and waved his hand in greeting.

Jen addressed her family, “We’ve gotta get moving so we have enough time to get our ideas down so we can report them in class today. I’ll see you tonight!”

“Hold on,” Tim said to Jen. “Your SD card will be delivered here by courier sometime today.”

“Fantastic! Thanks much, Dad. See you all tonight.” She and Devin left the house.

“If Jen ever wanted a new boyfriend,” Thea said, “that Devin guy is mega hot. She for sure couldn’t go wrong with him.”

“Thea!” Betty admonished her younger daughter, “That’s no way to describe a boy.”

“Sure it is,” Jason argued. “Thea is right, Devin is definitely mega hot.”  He turned to Thea. “Did you notice his eyes? They are true green, just like emeralds.”

“No, I missed his eyes. Did you see his hair? Dirty blond and spiked with sun bleached touches at the tips. And his smile. His teeth were so white! I’m in love,” she replied.

Jason laughed. “He’s probably gay.”

“Down, boy,” Tim told Jason. “You have a boyfriend. No double-dipping when it comes to boyfriends.”

“No worries. About Devin, I’m just saying, he’s too cute to be straight,” Jason replied.

“Jason, that isn’t appropriate talk for the family breakfast table,” Betty said. “And that goes for you two as well,” and she pointed to Thea and Tim.

“Aw, it’s harmless,” Tim said. When Betty looked like she would respond, Tim put up his hand and continued, “But I agree that it isn’t appropriate for the breakfast table. You two,” he directed his comments to as Jason and Thea he waved his finger back and forth at them, “save your comments for your walk to school.”

“Tim!” Betty said, shaking her head.

Jason finished his bagel and he saw that Thea had finished her cereal and toast.

“Thea, we better get ready and get going. I don’t want to be late the first day back after spring break. And Ron will be waiting for us at the corner.”

Thea ran upstairs to get her book bag, and Jason rinsed their dishes and put them in the dishwasher. They met at the front door where Jason picked up his backpack and slug it over his shoulder.

“Bye, Mom,” Jason shouted.

“Me too, bye!” Thea shouted.

They left for school. Another day on the Hillcrest High School campus for Jason and on the Lomita Middle School campus for Thea. They saw Ron waiting for them at the corner, and waved to him.

“Hi guys. Where’s Jen?” Ron asked.

Jason explained what Jen was doing with Devin Elrich.

“He’s sooo hot, Ron. I’m in love with him!” Thea declared.

“Who is he? I don’t recognize his name.”

“He’s fifteen, he’s a sophomore, and he started at Hillcrest on the fourth of April,” Thea said. “His family moved here from Long Beach, and they live on Juanita Drive.”

“How do you know all that?” Jason asked.

“Jen told me.”

“Do you think she’s hot for this guy?”

“No.”

“How come?”

“Tom’s her boyfriend, Jase, you know that. Besides, she’s only known Devin for a week and until this project with him she’s never said anything except ‘hi’ to him.”

“So Jen told you all of these details?” Ron asked.

“Uh huh. Hey, we’re sisters, and we tell each other lots of things.”

“Oooo! Can I listen in?”

“No, Ron, you can’t listen. Get your own sister.” Apparently Thea thought what she said was very funny because she started laughing.

“No thanks. I have a sibling monopoly at home, and that’s just fine for me.”

“Now I’m jealous,” Thea said after she was able to curtail her laughter.

They got to the street where Thea split off to go to Lomita Middle School. “So long, guys. See you tonight, Jase.”

“Sometimes your little sister is sort of weird, don’t you agree?”

“Yeah, but she’s funny weird instead of strange weird, so that’s okay with me.”

When they got to Hillcrest High and walked onto the campus, Jason saw Steve sitting on a bench near the 300 building. “Hey, there’s Steve. Let’s go find out about his folk’s reaction to his new clothes.”

There were three girls sitting on the bench chatting him up. He seemed to be enjoying their attention. When he saw Jason and Ron he waved. “Hi, guys. Come on over.”

The girls didn’t show any intention to leave, so Jason and Ron sat on the lawn across from the bench.

“Who are your friends, Steve?” Ron asked.

Steve pointed to each of the girls in turn. “This is Rose, this is Elana, and this is Tiffany.” He then pointed to Ron and Jason. “Girls, this is Ron and this is Jason, friends of mine.”

“Hey, Elana,” Ron said, “you’re in second period English 1 with us, aren’t you.”

“Uh huh,” she replied, then she giggled. “All three of you guys are in that class. I’m also in first period Spanish 2 with you and Steve.”

“Glad to be back at school after a boring week of spring break?” Jason asked, then grinned.

That elicited a wide ranging conversation where the girls started a back and forth round robin of comments about what everyone did during their spring break week off. They were interrupted by the first bell announcing the start of the school day. They all stood and Jason and Ron each wiped the dry grass off the seat of their jeans.

“Gotta get to Homeroom,” Elana said as she stood. “We’ll see you guys around.”

The other two girls each said, “See ya, bye!” and the trio walked off, giggling.

As they headed for their Homeroom with Ms. Tepper, Jason bopped Steve in his bicep. “I see that you’ve become a chick magnet just as I’d predicted.”

“That would be funny if it wasn’t true. They’re actually nice girls, and sort of shy until Tiffany got them talking. She seems to be the ringleader of that little trio.”

“Maybe they can be your safety dates,” Ron said.

Steve looked confused. “What’s a safety date?”

“That’s a girl who you can go out with and she knows you’re gay so she knows you won’t try to get in her pants and she won’t try to get in yours. That way other kids won’t know you’re gay. Thus, ‘safety date’ because both of you are safe.”

“But I don’t care if kids find out that I’m gay.”

 “They still might want to go out with you because you’re cute and polite and they know you won’t try to get in their pants.”

“What if the girl tries to get into Steve’s pants?” Jason asked.

“Then all he has to do is turn to her and say ‘I am not that kind of boy!’ and zip back up.”

Steve shook his head. “But what if I want the girl to get into my pants? For all you know, I might swing both ways.”

“Then you’re on your own. Don’t ask either of us for any advice,” Jason retorted.

“Well, it’ll never happen, I’m glad to say,” Steve replied. “I definitely only swing one way.”

“Do those girls know you’re gay?” Ron asked.

“No, not yet. They dominated the conversation so I didn’t have a chance to tell them. Besides, it would be unfriendly to disappoint them the first time I met them.”

 “Hey, Steve, how did it go when you got home with the clothes you bought?” Ron asked.

“What I’m going to say you probably won’t believe. I had to try on and show each of my outfits. My mom, that’s my mom, who you met Jase, said I looked very neat and modern. She loved everything I bought. Both my mom and dad asked about my shoes, and I told them the list price, $284.95, and that I got them for $99. Then I told them most of what I bought was on sale. They both had big smiles. When I said I’d like to get a clothes allowance and I’d buy my own clothes from now on, except Christmas and birthday presents, of course, they laughed at the last part and agreed to give me a clothes allowance, adding it to my debit card account. So, it couldn’t have gone better. And it’s all because of you two guys.”

Steve bumped fists with Jason and Ron.

“You look great in those jeans,” Jason said. “I like the gray Polaroid T with that orange shirt. No wonder those girls flocked to chat you up.”

“I guess that’s it. Before they wouldn’t even look at me. Today they walked up and said ‘Hi’ and knew my name.”

“Like I always say,” Ron commented, “clothes make the guy.”

“You never say that,” Jason retorted.

“Well, I do whenever there’s a reason. The way Steve’s dressed is definitely a reason.”

They reached their Homeroom classroom and took their regular seats, and the another day of high school classes got underway.

=== <<< >>> ===

Jason walked across campus to his Spanish 3 class, glad that this was his last class of the day. He saw Scott Menasco standing outside the classroom. Scott saw Jason and smiled. The two boys didn’t have any other classes together, and they were at best casual acquaintances. Jason was a freshman and Scott was a junior so they had different groups of friends. Scott led the varsity football team in rushing yardage as one of the starting running backs, and played backup quarterback as well. Since Jason didn’t go out for any sports he assumed that they had very different interests.

When Jason got closer Scott waved to him, then walked toward him. Jason stopped, wondering what Scott wanted.

“Um… hi, Jason,” Scott said. “I was wondering could we talk sometime there’s something private I’d like to ask you about and I thought you might know about and….” That came out in a rush with the words all run together. It made Jason grin.

“Sure. Class is about to start, so maybe when we have more time. When would you like to do it?”

“Could we do it after school today? Maybe we could go to your house?”

The part about going to his house surprised Jason.

“I don’t have anything scheduled after school today. I usually walk home with Ron Cantham and my sister Jen and we meet up with my little sister Thea, she goes to Lomita, on the way home. Would that be okay?”

“I’d rather it be more private. Would it be okay to meet in the library after class? Or maybe we could find an empty classroom?”

‘Sure. I’ll text Ron and Jen after class that I won’t be walking home with them. We can ask Ms. Grimbauer if we can stay in her room to talk about something. She usually leaves right after class, and she’s nice about doing things like that for students.”

They stopped by Ms. Grimbauer’s desk on the way into class. She told them she was going to a teachers’ meeting and that they could meet in her classroom until she got back. After class Ms. Grimbauer left, saying said she’d return in about a half hour. Scott said that would be more than enough time. He moved to a seat next to Jason.

“Can I talk to you about something totally private? Something just between me and you?” he asked. “And that you won’t tell anyone else about?”

“Absolutely,” Jason replied, putting out his fist. Scott bumped fists with him.

“Thanks, man. This is gonna be hard for me to say, so I might have to sit and think about it for a while before I tell you. Is that okay?”

“Sure. Take your time.”

Scott did sit for a couple minutes with his eyes closed and didn’t say anything.  When he opened his eyes he took a deep breath.

“This is really hard. I mean, I’m on the varsity football team and the guys on the team never talk about something like this.” He closed his eyes again, and while they were closed said, in a soft voice, “I’m gay.” He opened his eyes and stared at Jason like he wanted to see his reaction.

“That’s cool,” Jason said. “I’m going to keep that a secret; I won’t tell anyone without your okay. I assume you haven’t told anyone else at school, so it’s brave of you to tell me. I don’t know if you know or not, but I’m gay too. Ron Cantham is my boyfriend. We’re out, but we don’t go around with signs hanging around our necks to announce that we’re gay to everyone at school. Since you told me you’re gay, it seemed right to tell you that I’m gay too, and that Ron is gay. You’d probably hear it from someone else anyway. Maybe knowing that we’re gay will make what you want to tell me easier.”

Scott smiled. “I overheard someone say you were gay. I wasn’t sure if it was true or not, but I figured I’d take a chance.”

“Who did you hear talking about me being gay?”

“I was in the library. There were two guys sitting in back of me, with their backs to me. This guy I don’t know named a bunch of guys he said are gay and out at school. He was trying to convince the other guy to come out.”

“Do you know the other guy?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to out him. He can do that himself when he’s ready. Besides, you probably don’t know him. He’s a junior.”

“I’m glad you didn’t tell me his name,” Jason responded. “You’re right, it’s each person’s decision to tell others if he — or she — is gay. Since he’s a junior it’s unlikely that I would know him. I assume that telling me you’re gay isn’t the whole thing you wanted to ask me, is it.”

“No. The real reason is that there’s a guy who’s in my Algebra 2 class. He’s a freshman. His name is Steve Graff, and the guy I overheard said Steve is gay. Do you know Steve?”

Jason was shocked. Steve had been, or Jason thought he had been, tightly closeted and that no one other than he and Ron knew that Steve was gay. He knew that Ron would never out Steve, and as far as he knew Ron didn’t know any juniors. But he had to make sure.

“If you don’t mind, I like to have you answer one question for me. What color hair does the guy you overheard talking have?”

“I guess it wouldn’t hurt to tell you. His hair is light blond, like mine but not a buzz cut. His hair is about as long as yours.”

Well, it wasn’t Ron or anyone else Jason knew at school. Unless it was somebody in the GSA. He didn’t meet everyone there. But Steve said he never attended any of the GSA meetings. Weird.

“Yeah, Steve’s a friend of mine. What about him?”

“I think he’s really good looking.” Scott grinned and exclaimed, “He’s cute! I’d like to meet him but I’m scared to ask him. I thought that if you knew him, and now I know that you do, you might introduce me as someone you know.”

“If he’s in your Algebra 2 class, why don’t you just talk to him before or after class? Start by saying hi every day, then ask him if he could help you with an algebra problem, maybe meet in the library after school or in a classroom like we’re doing right now. Talk to him, ask him about a movie or a song or a book you like, find out what things that both of you are interested in. Pretty soon you’ll be friends.”

“But I’m this big, tall guy, I’m a football player, I’m a junior and probably two years older than he is. He’s a freshman and is like really shy. I said hi to him once, and he looked like he was scared of me. That’s why I thought if you knew him you could introduce me as someone you know.”

“Okay, here’s a good example of what I’m talking about. You said you wanted me to tell Steve that I know you. Thing is, I don’t really know you except seeing you in our Spanish 3 class. We’ve never talked before today. I think you and I should become friends first. I think we’ve got a good start, but I don’t really know you and you don’t really know me. Yet.

“You suggested that we meet at my house. Let’s do that, right now. Ron and my sisters already left for home, so let’s go to my house. We can sit out by the pool and just talk and get to know each other.”

Jason saw Scott’s eyes light up. “You have a pool? That’s awesome! None of my other friends have a pool.” He paused for a couple seconds then continued, “Oh my God, I’m sorry. I don’t want you thinking I want to be your friend just because you have a pool.”

Jason grinned. “Okay, two things. I don’t think you want to be my friend just because I have a pool. Mainly because you just found out that I have a pool. You can come over and we can use our pool, just talk to me about it ahead of time so I can make sure I’ll be home and not doing something like a major homework project and that it’s warm enough and our pool heater has been turned on. Second, my friends call me Jase. Since we’re going to be friends, call me Jase, not Jason.”

“Thanks, Jase. The reason I got excited when I heard that you have a pool is that swimming is just about my most favorite thing to do. If I had a different body type I’d go out for the swim team, that’s for sure. But the way I’m built I’d never be fast enough to compete.”

“See, we’re learning things about each other already, Scott. I found out that you love to swim and you wish you’d been able to be on the swim team, and that you think Steve is cute. You found out that I have two sisters and we have a pool in our back yard, that Ron is my boyfriend, and I want my friends to call me Jase.” Jason grinned. “Now, let’s talk about what we’re going to do when we get to my house. The most important thing is that we learn more about each other. That’s a major part of you and me becoming friends. Once we’re both happy with the way that’s going, we can plan the best way for you to meet Steve to become his friend, making sure it doesn’t seem like a setup. Maybe we go see a movie, me and Ron, Steve, and you, and a couple of our other friends.”

Jason saw Scott’s reaction to the ‘other friends’ part.

“Look, I’ll sit down with you and talk about which of my other friends I’d invite over so you’re comfortable with who they are. I have an idea who I’d invite, and they go to a different high school, but that’s something to decide later after you and I get to know each other better. Anyway, before the movie we can get something to eat so all of us can get to know each other, including you and Steve. Then after the movie we can hang out and talk about the movie and wander around looking at the stores. Instead of going to a movie, if it’s warm enough Ron and I could have you and Steve over to go swimming, and I’d invite two others just like I suggested if we went to a movie. How’s that sound?”

“That sounds like a good idea. I also think going to your house so you and I can hang out and we can talk about ourselves and what we like to do and stuff like that is a very good idea. I’m looking forward to the two of us becoming friends.”

Jason grinned. “I agree. What do you say that we get going?”

“Okay, but first let me call my mom so she doesn’t freak about me not coming home at the usual time.”

“Go for it. I know exactly what you mean.”

Scott phoned his mother and told her that he would be at Jason’s house and they’d be practicing some Spanish vocabulary. He got her okay, and ended the call.

“Now we’ll need to actually go over some Spanish vocabulary so I didn’t lie to my mom,” Scott told Jason, and he looked serious.

“That we can do,” Jason replied. They left the campus, chatting about the classes they each had and complaining about how much homework they were given the first day back from spring break.

When they arrived at Jason’s house he led Scott into the kitchen.

“Hi, Mom, I’m home,” he said. Then he added, “Mom, this is Scott Menasco. We’re both in seventh period Spanish 3.”

Betty took a look at Scott and smiled.

“Well, hello Scott.”

“Hello. Nice to meet you, Mrs. Phillips.”

“We’re going to work on Spanish vocabulary,” Jason said.

“Would you two like a snack? There are apples and pears in the refrigerator, and chips and salsa.”

“An apple would be good for me,” Jason said.

“An apple for me too, please,” Scott added.

Jason opened the refrigerator, and turned. “Would you like one or two apples, Scott? I’m going to have two.”

“I’ll also have two. Thanks.”

“Here, let me quarter and core those,” Betty offered. “That will make them easier to eat.”

Jason handed her the four apples. “Thanks, Mom.”

“You don’t look like a freshman, Scott,” Betty said.

“I’m a junior. Most of the kids in Spanish 3 are juniors and seniors. I think Jase is the only freshman in the class.” Jason nodded, confirming what Scott said. “He’s also the best Spanish speaker in the class. I think his pronunciation is much better than Ms. Grimbauer’s, and he has the vocabulary down cold.”

That made Jason blush. “I took two years of Spanish in middle school,” he explained to Scott. “I’ve watched the Spanish channels on TV to help me learn the language. It also taught me a lot of Spanish slang I’d never learn in class. And that most of the Spanish channels here show either soap operas or soccer matches.”

Scott grinned. “You’ll have to teach me some of that slang. That sounds like fun.”

“Mom, we’re going upstairs so Scott can see my room, then we’ll be out on the patio.”

“Okay,” Betty responded. “If you’d like anything else to eat or drink you know where it is.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

When they walked into Jason’s room Scott looked around. “I see you’re a neat freak, just like me,” he commented.

“You’re a neat freak? That’s very cool. I think we’re in a definite minority. I know Ron keeps his room in a state of unorganized chaos. When someone comes over he shoves stuff under his bed. Drives his mom crazy, by the way.”

Scott laughed. “Maybe it’s because I play football and to be successful you have to be very well organized and know where everyone else on the team is going to be and where you expect the opponents will probably be on a play. I think that sort of mental organizing goes along with keeping my room and other stuff organized. Most everyone on the team, especially guys like me who are in the backfield, keep our rooms neat.”

“I never thought about how being organized about other things might be why I keep my room neat. I’m very organized about schoolwork, I always do my homework and I read ahead in my textbooks. Maybe that’s why I’m a neat freak about my room. Of course, having my mom yelling at all three of us to keep our rooms clean and neat probably helps a lot too.”

Scott laughed. “So you have a Tiger Mom too?”

“What’s a Tiger Mom?”

“There’s a book that a woman wrote about being a Tiger Mom. That means she was always watching and controlling everything her daughter did, including things like keeping her room clean and neat. My mom got the book at the library and I read parts of it. I recommend that you keep it away from your mom. Your life will be easier.”

“My mom doesn’t need a Tiger Mom book. Heck, she could write one like it herself!”

Both laughed at that idea.

Scott walked over to the bookcase next to Jason’s desk. “I see you do a lot of reading.”

“I’ve always loved to read. Now I do most of my reading on my tablet. I have the Kindle and Nook apps, and for gifts I ask for Amazon and Barnes and Noble gift cards instead of books. That way I can pick what I want. The other thing, I can’t seem to get rid of books once I have them. That’s why my bookcase is almost completely filled. It’s a lot easier with eBooks, they don’t take any shelf space. Do you have a tablet or an eBook reader?”

“Yeah, I have an iPad. Only thing is, it’s too big. I like to read in bed, and it’s heavy and clumsy to hold. My friend Cal has a Kindle and it’s lighter and seems to be a lot easier to handle.”

“Where do you get most of your eBooks?”

“I get some from the Apple Store when I get an iTunes gift card, but I have the Kindle app and I get most from Amazon. I found some sites that list books that are free from the Amazon Kindle Store and free is good. I like science fiction and mysteries, and I’ve downloaded at least a hundred books from Amazon for free.”

Jason grinned. “I do the same. My cousin clued me into the free book lists, and I get emails from those sites every day. There’s almost too many to keep up with, though.”

“That’s true!”

“How about doing some Spanish vocabulary now?” Jason asked, “That way you will fulfill what you told your mom we were going to do.”

“Okay. How about you teach me some of that slang you learned.”

“Sounds like a plan. Let’s see, we can start with bateador. What’s that mean?”

“That’s easy, it’s batter.”

“Yes, but it’s also slang for someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.”

“Okay, I get it. They are batting but not hitting anything, is that how it’s derived?”

“I guess so,” Jason replied. “How about vago. What’s that mean?”

Scott closed his eyes and thought for a few seconds, then reopened them. “I think it means vague.”

“That’s the most common definition, but it also means slacker.”

“Cool. I can see how it means both things. Next?”

“Lelo.”

“I don’t know that word.”

“It means parallel, but it’s also the slang term for someone who’s crazy,” Jason explained. “I can’t figure out how ‘parallel’ was morphed into ‘crazy’ but somebody in Spain or Mexico came up with it. English has words that have wildly different meanings too.”

“Yeah, lelo is weird. You know, I think I’ve learned enough Spanish slang for today. I like to put off my Spanish homework for a couple hours each day so I’m not doing it so soon after seventh period.”

“You want to go outside and talk, or do you want to just crash here and talk?” Jason asked.

“How about outside? It’s nice out, and I always prefer being outside when it’s warm.”

Jason lead the way downstairs and outside. “We can sit on the patio, but it’s mostly in the shade now, or we can sit by the pool where it’s still sunny.”

“I vote for by the pool, if that’s okay with you.”

“Let’s do it.” Jason picked two lounge chairs that were slightly shaded by the leaves of an oak tree and they sat down and stretched out.

“Man, this feels good, Jase. I wish we had a pool at home. Our back yard is too small for a pool.”

“Lemme know when you want to swim, and check with me to make sure it’s okay for you to come over.”

“Thanks, Jase. I’ll do that.”

“Okay, let’s start getting to know each other. Like, what music do you like best?”

The two teens spent an hour talking about music, movies, TV shows, more about books, clothes, classes they were taking, favorite teachers, the football team and what the prospects were for the fall season, the basketball team and their great season, the upcoming basketball games with Alcosta and Campo, how the team would do in the playoffs, which players on the basketball team they each knew, what they liked to do for fun, favorite foods, the food in the cafeteria, favorite places to go on vacation, their families, and so on. At the end of the hour they knew each other much better and realized that they liked each other.

Then Jason decided to start on a new and rather personal topic.

“Scott, if you don’t mind telling me, when did you realize that you were gay?”

“Seventh grade. That’s when we started having PE in middle school, and we had to change into jockstraps and shorts and T’s and we’d have to shower after. Once I started looking at the other boys I admitted to myself that I was gay. I didn’t — and don’t — have a problem with being gay. I decided that’s what I was and that’s how God made me, and I was okay with that. I’ve never worried about it, well, except maybe I worry about being found out. I never thought that it would be better if I was straight. I like being gay.”

“That’s cool, Scott. That’s the way I am too, but I’ve had a boyfriend since middle school and I think that helped me a lot. How about you?”

“I’ve never had a boyfriend. I messed around with a couple guys in seventh and eighth grades, but that was just getting each of us off. I’d like to do more, but I decided that I’m going to wait for the right guy and the right time, like when I’m in college. How long have you and Ron been boyfriends, Jase?”

“Since middle school. How did you decide you like Steve?”

“When I first saw him in class, at the beginning of the year. I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is really cute!’ so I decided to say hi, and he just about freaked. He seemed really scared of me, and that made me feel bad. He seems so shy, and doesn’t talk to any of the other kids in the class either. But I still like him, and I smile every time I see him.”

“Steve is shy. Ron and I are trying to get him to be more confident about himself. You probably noticed that he wore the same things every day, khakis and a long sleeve plaid shirt. Those are the school clothes he wore when he went to Cathedral High. On Sunday Ron and I took him shopping to buy new clothes that are more up to date. Did you see that he wore jeans and a gray Polaroid T with an orange shirt today?”

“Yeah. Dressed that way he’s really hot.” Scott blushed, and Jason thought that looked funny on such a big guy, and that made him smile.

“So if you’re saving yourself for college, are you interested in Steve because he’s gay?”

“Not to get in his pants. I want to be his friend, just his friend. Learning that he’s gay makes it like the whipped cream on a hot fudge sundae. It means with Steve I’ll have a friend I can talk to about lots of things and won’t have to hide that I’m gay. And he won’t have to hide that he’s gay, either.”

“Do you think people will talk if they see you and Steve hanging around together?”

“It depends on Steve. If he wants to keep our being friends private and not at school, that’s fine with me. If he’s okay with us being friends at school too, that’s fine with me. If somebody says something I’m like, so what if they do? That’s their problem, not mine.”

Jason grinned. This was so bizarre. He and Ron had talked to Steve about some of these same things.

“Okay, let’s do this. I’ll have a casual get-together. It will be you, Steve, Ron, and me. I’ll invite two friends from Alcosta High who love to play tennis but have a hard time getting court time at Alcosta after school and on weekends. Steve went to elementary school with them before moving here, so that makes a connection. You’re my friend so that makes another connection. That way it won’t seem like it’s staged. The two guys from Alcosta will spend a lot of their time playing tennis, and the rest of us will spend a lot of our time in the pool. How’s that sound?”

“Sounds good, Jase. Let me think about all the things we’ve discussed, and let’s talk again tomorrow after Spanish 3. Is that okay?”

“That’s okay.”

“It’s getting late and I better get home. Thanks for everything. You are a good guy, Jase, and a good friend.”

“You’re a good guy and a good friend too, Scott. I’ll see you tomorrow.”


[Continued]


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