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around my way


By Maddy A -

February 2005

Once we left the park all the fear of what happened with Nate and Jay started to leave. The knot in my stomach returned as I glanced at Joey and realized that this would be the first time I would be alone with him. We walked the first ten minutes in silence before Joey spoke.

"So where are you from"? He asked me.

"Me, all over but I spent most of my life in Montclair." I answered. I tried to keep my voice steady but my nervousness took over and my voice cracked. He didn't seem to notice.

"Montclair, that's a long way from Newark. I guess you moved down." He said. He laughed at his joke and I nervously chuckled.

"I guess you can say that but it's a lot nicer than I remember." Damn I could have kicked myself for letting that slip.

"You use to live in Newark." He asked curiously. I thought about making something up but since Amanda already knew my story, except the part about Hector, I figured he would find out eventually.

"Well, my Mom got sent to prison and I lived in a youth house for two years when I was seven." I told him.

"Sorry about that. What was she in for?"

"She's still there and it something with drugs." I hoped that I didn't share too much information with him but something about Joey just made you want to open up to him.

"I got a cousin doing twenty-five for holding weed."

"Twenty-five for weed? That's a little extreme."

"Well, he had like ten pounds but you know those fucking cops and all their bullshit so..."

"Where are you from?" I asked him.

"I was born here and lived in Newark just about all my life but dad is from Cuba and my Mom is from Puerto Rico." It was so cute the way he was looking at his feet, shuffling them gently as he spoke to me. I had to suppress my smile. This guy really was doing something to me.

"That's cool. Any brothers or sisters?"

"Yeah, my brother Matt's fourteen and my sister Jennifer's thirteen. You?" He asked.

"No, only child. How old are you?"

" I'll be sixteen in December and you"?

"I turned sixteen in April." Silence fell down again. Every now and then I would take a sideways glance at Joey. I noticed small things about his face that I didn't before. He shaved a small cut into his left eyebrow. You couldn't notice it unless you looked for it. It gave his face a more rugged look but he would have looked tough without it. His eyelashes were long but not in a girlie way. When he smiled or laughed you could see a small dimple near the corner of his mouth. His mouth was full and a dark pink color. They curled up slightly like he was waiting to be kissed. God I wanted to kiss him of just feel my lips against his. His hair shined under the street lights. An occasional light gust of the cool summers night air blew through his wavy light brown hair, tossing his gentle waves around his head. I think he caught me staring but he didn't say anything about it. I caught him staring at me and before I thought better of it, I asked him what he was staring at.

"Uh...Nothing." He said as he shuffled his feet some more and jiggled his hands in his pockets.

"Is there something on my face." I asked. He looked apprehensive for a moment then just blurted out what was on his mind.

"Your eyes. What color are they?" He asked. Everyone is always commenting on them. You don't see a lot of black people with my color eyes. I could see the regret of asking that question in his eyes. His beautiful crystal blue eyes. I could talk about the beauty of his eyes for days and never get tired but you had to see them for yourself to truly appreciate the magnificence of them. I blushed a little as I answered him.

"Technically Hazel-green but most of the time they look green, especially at night." He relaxed and the conversation continued to flow.

"Are you mixed?" He asked.

"No but my adopted parents were white." I told him about my adoption and my living with Aunt Mickey.

"Damn son! You been through some shit. My bad about your folks." He nodded his head up and down as he talked to me like he was trying to convey the strength of his words to me.

"Thanks but I'm getting used to it." He sensed that I didn't want to talk about it and changed the subject.

"So, how did you meet Amanda?"

"Well, after you cursed me out she came up to me in the store."

"Sorry about that I was having a fucked up day and Pops was getting on me about some shit so I already was heated."

"It's cool, consider it forgotten. So you and Amanda use to be close she said, what happened?" His jaw clenched and I could tell that he was trying to suppress the urge to tell me why.

"People change but she will always be my girl. Amanda is more like a sister than my own." Fifteen minutes later we were on Joey's front porch. He stood there and looked at me for a couple of seconds. I wondered why were just standing around and he grinned at me. Through his smile he asked for his keys. I nervously fumbled for them in my denim shorts and I dropped them. We both reached for them at the same time and bumped our heads. We laughed and I thought how cliché. Joey lived in a condo. His Spanish heritage was shown in the decorating of the house. I assumed that he was Catholic with all the pieces of various works of religious art laying around.

His family went to visit relatives in New York and were going to be gone until the next night. I sat on his couch and he got us some soda. He sat down next to me and flipped through the channels. Again that damn thing called silence returned. I was trying to think of something to say but all my topics of conversation were used on the walk to his house. He asked if I wanted to play Grand Theft Auto. I told him that was my favorite game but X-box's version was the best. He smiled and told me that was the reason he bought a X-box. He was just too perfect.

His large room was in the basement. He had posters of rappers Jay Z and Eminem along his wall. There was one of 50cent that I thought was hot. He had his shirt off with his muscles rippling under his cocoa brown skin. It annoyed me to see a bikini clad Tyra Banks on his wall.

"So, I take it you like rap?" I said.

"Yeah of course, don't you?" He asked.

"Yeah a little but I mostly listen to punk or rock like The Smiths." He gave me a strange look and chuckled as he spoke.

"You are the first black person I've met who listens to rock." Damn! I thought to myself. He probably thinks I am some sort of loser. Why didn't I tell him that. God I am so retarded.

"Well, I do come form Montclair and that's what we listen to." I responded trying to hide my discomfort.

"Oh, ain't nothing wrong with that it's just you don't see that everyday, well not around here but I think it's cool. You gotta be you." I couldn't contain my smile. It wasn't until I looked at Tyra's big head that I stopped.

"So you like Tyra Banks?" I asked, trying not to seem bothered by that.

"She is okay-but not my type!" I was taken back by the way he quickly added she wasn't his type. Maybe it was just the gay detective inside of me looking for things that weren't there. I don't know. If I knew, I wouldn't be saying this to myself. We fell into a natural comfortableness with each other. About an hour into me being there, his phone rang. He talked in Spanish which I thought was a little rude since I didn't know any. Whoever he was talking to was making him upset and he started to yell at them. His face twisted into a look of hate as he slammed the phone down. He yanked the cord out the wall and muttered what I was sure were curse words in Spanish. I felt the heat of his anger radiate off his body as he sat down next to me. Against my better judgment I tentatively reached my hand out and placed it on his shoulder. He turned his body to mine a looked into my eyes.

"Are you okay? You can talk about it"? I said softly, offering words of comfort. He looked at me for a moment and when he didn't reply I shrugged my shoulders and told him it was okay as I returned to my game. I mentally kicked myself for being so touchy feely. I instantly became engrossed in the game again. A few minutes later I turned towards him and saw that he was still looking at me. The anger on his face was gone and replaced with one of curiosity. Joey's voice wavered a little as he spoke to me.

"Your eyes look more green than hazel." I didn't know what to say so I turned back to the game. I pretended to play but I think he knew I really wasn't. The hairs on my neck stood up as I realized he was still looking at me. I was sure he heard the pounding of my heart. The heat inside of me escaped and I felt my face begin to flush. He asked me if I was okay. I stuttered a yes but I didn't trust myself to look at him. Finally he turned his attention back to the game and asked to play. I handed him the controller and our hands touched during the exchange. His thumb caressed the top of my hand as he took it. I didn't move it away and he took that as a sign not to stop. My eyes slowly made it's way to his. I saw the same mixture of fear and uncertainty in his eyes that I knew were in mine. I whispered to him.

"Your eyes are the brightest blue that I've ever seen." He gave me a shy smile while still caressing the top of my hand with his thumb. I turned my hand upwards and returned the gesture. My fingers lightly dancing over his thumb. I knew it in that moment that he wanted me as much as I wanted him. He was the complete opposite of what I expected of a gay boy. He wasn't soft spoken or gentle. He wasn't shy. He was nothing like me. He was rough and tough and a...thug. He was a thug what the hell was I doing. This guy wasn't putting the moves on me. He probably doesn't even realize what he was doing. I moved my hand away and looked back at the game. I didn't look to see his face but I knew he was still looking at me. After a couple of seconds he started to play the game again. I was kicking myself over and over again. What the hell was I thinking trying to hold his hand. He probably was just too freaked to move away. God I am so dense. We spent the next hour mostly silence playing video games.

It was getting late and I was getting tired. I closed my eyes for a second and next thing I knew I woke up in complete darkness. I forgot where I was for a second and panicked. I knew I wasn't in my bedroom. I got up and felt along the wall for a light switch. When I turned it on I saw I was still in Joey's room. The clock read three a.m. Thank God Aunt Mickey wasn't home because she probably would have killed me for being so late. I was alone. Where was Joey I wondered. I opened his room door to find the house also engulfed in darkness. I am a little embarrassed to admit this but I am afraid of the dark. I turned on the lamp and called out for Joey to get no answer. I flipped on the television and waited for a half an hour before he walked through the front door. I could smell the alcohol on his breathe from across the room. He staggered in a had a look of surprise on his face as he noticed me sitting on the couch glaring at him. I jumped up. I was pissed that he left me to go get drunk and I was going to let him know just how much.

"Where did you go? Why did you just leave me?" I tried to control the level of my voice but it rose on its on. He was taken back by my tone and didn't reply for a couple of seconds.

"My--My bad." He stumbled as he walked towards the couch to sit down. I was so pissed. I felt this surge of anger rise up from somewhere inside I didn't even know existed. I needed to sit down and get my thoughts together. I knew I was over reacting. I had no right to question him. We only officially just met and I wouldn't even call us friends. I sat down across from him.

" Why did you let me fall asleep?" He couldn't even sit without rocking from side to side. Even we he's wasted I still thought that he was cute, God I had it bad. He looked up at me and didn't say anything. He just stared. I felt uncomfortable and looked away but every time I looked back at him, his eyes were still glued on me. After a few minutes he answered.

"You just looked so cu--" He cut himself off and didn't finish. In my heart I wanted to think he was about to say that I looked cute but my head wouldn't allow me to. He looked away and got up. He started to walk towards the stairs He almost fall and I ran to catch him. I put my arm around his waste and he leaned his tall frame into my smaller one and I helped him down the stairs. It felt good to have my arms around him. Despite the smell of liquor on his breath he still smelled as good as he did in the park. Once in his room he tried to undress himself but he was too wasted to do anything but sleep. I wanted to help him put but for pure selfish reasons. I didn't trust myself. I had to get out of there.

"Listen Joey, I should go home. It's really late and my Aunt would kill me if she came home and I wasn't there so I'll see you tomorrow are something." He protested.

"Nate and Jay are still out there. They at the LQ around your way. You should sleep here. Call your Aunt and leave a message."

"Where would I sleep?" I would have thought that he would have made me take the couch or his brothers room.

"With me. Look at the king size we both can fit." My head was screaming BAD IDEA! BAD IDEA! But my lips betrayed me.

"Okay." He had his shirt half off and told me where I could get a shirt to sleep in. He was lean but not skinny. He didn't have a lot of muscles but he was cut in the right places. He had the body of a runner. He was stumbling around his room trying to get his Nikes off. I laughed at him. It was too funny not to. I took off my shirt and was putting on one of his when he pushed me. I fell on his bed and looked at him wondering what the hell he was doing. He looked down at me and started laughing.

"Yeah Nigga, I pushed you. You shouldn't be laughing at me! A in't nothing funny...SHIT! I am fucking gone!" He laughed and I stood up with a smile, shaking my head from side to side. I laughed again at him and his silliness. He shoved me again only this time I pushed back. He fell back and pulled me with him. We both fell back on the bed and laughed at ourselves. My body was half on top of his. He still had his arm around my waste where he grabbed to pull me down. I felt his body shake with laughter and the movements he was making made me get hard. Normally if I was in this type of situation I would have gotten up with the quickness and came up with a lie but he was too drunk to even realize my "situation" and he probably wouldn't remember it in the morning even if he did. I looked down at him as he opened his eyes and found me staring. I moved to get off him but he held me closer to his body. There was no way that he couldn't feel my dick. He pulled me even closer and I felt his hard dick through his shorts touching mine. I wanted to lean down and kiss him but I was not about to risk it. Drunks get horny easy and the last thing I wanted to do was get outted by kissing on some straight boy. Especially in this neighborhood where you get shitted on if you look at someone the wrong way. Even if I thought he was a little in to me he would have to initiate it cause I wasn't even going to chance it.

"Good night Alkey." I rolled off of him and hopped under the covers laying at the head of the bed. My body wanted to feel that closeness with his again but I knew it wouldn't be wise. The room was cold from the air conditioning so I went under the comforter. He gave me a weak smile and laid at the foot of the bed. I fell asleep instantly. I woke up with the strong urge to pee something about the cold intensifies that urge. Someone was spooning me from behind. I felt Joey's warm body wrapped around mine, the two of us snuggled tightly under his big white blanket. His breath gently falling down on my face, tickling me. I could steal smell the liquor and weed off his breath but it didn't bother me. I felt safe being in his embrace. I thought he was asleep when I felt small kisses being placed on my neck. That was it! That was the sign that I needed. I turned around to face him.

The room was dimly lit from the streetlights shinning in through his window so I could faintly make out his face. I saw him prepared to give and explanation but I kissed him before he could. Timidly at first, he returned the kiss but soon he was aggressively taking charge. His hands started to roam up and down my shirt, daring to slowly go inside of it. I shivered with anticipation as his hands touched my bare skin. I followed and did the same and his reaction was like mine. His skin was smooth and kind of soft and rough at the same time. I moved closer to him and he pulled my body tight and rolled on top of me. His hardness was pressing against mine rubbing between our boxers. He started a slow humping motion that drove me crazy. Our furious kisses grew into and even stronger frenzy. Our tongues danced around each other. It was my first real kiss and I wasn't sure if I was doing it right but it was too good to stop. My hands were rubbing his lower back. I wanted to move down even lower but I was too afraid. My heart was thumping in my chest. The room was dead silent except for the sound of our sloppy kisses and heavy breathing. Just when I was working up enough courage to start rubbing a little lower, he jumped off me. He ran to the door and stood there with his back to me. I was confused and had to find out why he stopped. I didn't even recognize my voice as I whispered to him.

"Joey, what's wrong? Why did you stop." When he didn't answer I turned on a lamp and walked over toward him. I saw tears spilling from those crystal blue's. I placed my hand on his trembling shoulder and he pushed it off. He moved even further away and sat back down on his bed. He wouldn't even look in my direction. I wanted to sit back down next to him but I was beginning to feel awkward. It was obvious that he was regretting what happened or was about to happen between us. I had to get out of there. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. In my mind I was thinking that I tried to hard. I pushed him and he freaked. But then I became angry. He had made the first move and I was beating myself up. God what is wrong with me! I looked at him once more before I found my shorts. I had my back to him and took off the shirt he gave me. I turned around to look for my shirt on his floor when I saw him glancing at my way. I stood there for a moment as he looked in my direction. He saw me topless and quickly looked away. He was pissing me off. I threw on my clothes and headed for the door.

"Where are you going?" He asked me. His voice was hoarse and shaky, no doubt a result from his drinking and the session we just had. I glared at him and he looked away. I couldn't hide the irritation in my voice.

"It's obvious that I should go home. Good Night Joey!"

"NO! You don't have to go. I mean... Nate and Jay are still out there and they might try and run up on you or something." He had a point and it was still dark out and I did not want to have another run in with them.

"Okay I'll be on the couch." He looked hurt and wanted to say something but turned his head and nodded. I slammed the door and went to the couch. Sleep didn't come easy but eventually it came. I woke up to the smell of eggs and bacon. I walked in the kitchen and saw that Joey had cooked breakfast. He smiled at me and spoke to me like nothing had happened.

"What's up. Damn I was out my fucking mind last night. Hennessey and 120 proof are not good combinations. I don't even remember how I got home last night."

"You don't remember anything about last night?"

"Naw, I just remember one of my boys calling me with some bull shit and then going to my other boys crib to drink. Then waking up in my bed. You look worst than me and I was the one drunk last night. You A'ight?" This fool didn't remember anything. I wanted to tell him what happened. I wanted to let him know how stupid he made me feel and how mad I was at him. How he embarrassed me...but I didn't.

"Yeah I'm cool but I have to get home it's already almost noon and my Aunt is already going to kill me." I said.

"Want me to walk you?" He asked.

"I thought it wasn't safe for you to be in my neighborhood?"

"That's only when it's dark but it's cool now. Besides I gotta go and check on the store."

This gang stuff to me was really ridiculous. Not being able to go certain places after dark and having to watch the color that you wore...I didn't understand it. The walk was uncomfortable for me but Joey seemed relaxed despite our lack of a consistent conversation. We parted at the Bodega and I walked the last two blocks alone. As I turned on my block I saw Nate walking with Amanda. Nate smiled at me and licked his lips and I knew what he was suggesting. I looked away and smiled at Amanda as I kept walking. She was puzzled as to why I didn't stop to talk but Nate put his arm around her and they kept walking. I looked back and saw she did the same. She gave me a weak smile that I returned with a shrug of my shoulders. Nate looked back too and winked. I had to keep as much distance between myself and Nate. I just didn't know how long I could....

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