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around my way

Chapter Fourteen - Day One

By - February 21 2005

"Okay! Enough with the God damn smiling! What the hell has got you so fucking slap happy?" Amanda yelled at me the next morning. We left for school twenty minutes earlier than usual so that we could grab a bite to eat at the Cafe around the corner from school. The whole way there I kept smiling. I couldn’t help it! I was a man in love a suddenly the world just seemed brighter. The air was crisp and the birds sung a little sweeter. The sky was an amazing shade of blue, like Joey’s eyes. Oh God! I was SO in love! After waiting so long I couldn’t believe that he was finally mine. It was like something out a story book. I know I am sounding really cheesy right now, but I really don’t care. I was the happiest that I had ever been. Love can do that to you. It can make you so happy that you can’t do anything, but smile. Life could not get any better.

Roger had taken Aunt Mickey and I to dinner the night before and things went great. He entertained us with stories of the past jobs that he had worked on. He use to be a photographer for one of the oldest black owned magazine’s and had met various political figures prominent in the black community. They didn’t talk about him moving in, but I knew he most likely would still be. I’ll admit it, a small part of me was still weary with having him live with us. Yeah, he seemed like a nice guy, but I still thought it was too soon. Aunt Mickey may have known him for years, but I hadn’t. He was a stranger to me, but the smile on Aunt Mickey’s face was enough to keep me from voicing my concerns.

As soon as I came home, I called Joey and we talked for five straight hours. I snuggled up in my bed with my fluffy black down comforter, the cordless phone in hand and Joey‘s voice whispering sleepily in my ear. We talked about the most random of things from trips to Great Adventures to how tight he liked his hair braided. We both fell asleep on the phone a little after two, but the drowsiness that I felt the next morning had been worth it. He poured his heart out to me. I found out that he had always thought that he was different, but couldn’t figure out why. He remembered when Amanda began to notice how cute boys were, so did he. Both of his parents were strict Catholics so he knew what the name for what he was feeling was and he was also aware that it was wrong. He said his priest would say that homosexuals were deviant creatures who were not true men. He thought that he had to do something to prove his man hood, so at twelve he joined East Side.

East Side had a reputation for being one of the roughest gangs in Newark and so did West Side. He had a friend whose older brother was in East Side it who connected Joey with them. He had to get jumped in; which as he told me wasn’t as bad as you would think it would be. To get jumped into a gang is when a few of the members basically all beat you down. If you fight back, you’re in. He fought back and that earned him the nickname of "No Tearz" which had been shortened to Tearz because he didn‘t cry. He thought that being and Eastie would toughen him up and make him into the real man that his church teachings made him think that he wasn‘t because of his thoughts , but it nothing he tried made his feelings for other boys go away. He still would have the same thoughts and even admitted to me that he had once had a crush on Loco. I had to laugh at that one. I asked him what he liked more about Loco, his hair gel fascination or his ability to hold four different conversations at once with the same person.

Joey thought that if he allowed himself to love me then it would be like he was abandoning all of the teachings of the church. As a Latino man it was his job to be a devout Catholic, marry a devout Catholic Latina woman and raise devout Catholic children. I may not be very religious myself, but I did believe that God loved everyone, regardless of what the bible may say. The bible also said that women couldn’t cut their hair and eating shell fish were both guaranteed one way tickets to hell, so you can understand why I was not the type of person to put all of my beliefs in the words of unknown men written thousands of years ago. No, only God knows what his true intention is and I have a hard time believing that he would condemn any form of love. I understood Joey’s plight because I would have to face the same things that he would. He was still in the beginning stages of accepting himself and I was just glad that he was allowing me to help him through it. Together we would make it.

Joey went on to tell me that for years he had been struggling with what he felt and nothing he did could change it. He said the first time he saw me, it was like he knew he was suppose to be with me and that scared him because with any other guys it was always just ended at physical attractions. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but looking back to that day maybe it was. Or, at least lust at first sight. We just had this undeniable chemistry. He even remembered arguing with his father that day for not showing up for work on time and watching me talk to Amanda. His father thought he was staring at her and commented that the two of them would ‘make a nice couple‘. Joey was close to his father and he knew that his dad would never accept him the way he was and that bothered him. To ease his mind I told him that I had no plans on coming out anytime soon and we shouldn’t even think about stuff like that until many, many years from now. I could hear him smiling through the phone and I asked him why he was grinning so hard. He blew a kiss through the phone and asked. ‘You think we’ll be together for years?‘ I blushed and mumbled a yes and he blew another kiss to him over the phone. It was loud and obnoxiously over done, but it was one of the sweetest things that I ever heard.

I did picture the two of us together for life. I know that most people’s first love don’t last, but it was like I knew Joey and I would. I knew that as long as no one knew about either of us being together we could make it. I was all too aware of the fact that if anyone ever found out about us that our relationship would be as good as over. His family definitely would not be accepting and I wasn’t sure what Aunt Mickey’s reaction would be. There were times when she was this liberal, free spirited white woman who wouldn’t think twice of going to black heritage festival wearing a head wrap and then there were other times when she could be real uptight. Make it a point to punish me for the most random of things or yelling for no legitimate reason. If I wanted a tattoo, Aunt Mickey would probably help me pick one out, but as for me coming out to her, that I couldn’t be to sure of how she would take that. I was not coming out to anyone else other than Amanda and he wasn’t out to anybody, which was just the way that he wanted it. Joey also talked about how much he missed his friendship with Amanda and our shared hatred of Nate. I told him the real reason that I was running from Nate and Jay that night and he was heated. He threatened to "take care" of them, but I told him not to. Nate was no one special and only posed a threat if I felt threatened, but then Joey told me a story that made my fear return.

There were rumors that Nate and Jay were "train runners". He said it’s when two people have sex with someone else at the same time. Now, that’s not my thing, but I don’t judge anyone else whose it is, but Joey wasn‘t finished. He said that sometimes the girl wouldn’t want to participate, but they would make her anyway. They usually would find some random girl at a party, get her drunk and high, then make her do what they wanted. Joey told me that it was even rumored that the two of them had did that to a boy who lived up the street from him and I knew exactly who he was talking about.

The boy was only fourteen and still went to the middle school so I didn‘t know him personally, but I had seen him around. He was a dark skin Filipino boy with dark features and cute, in a girly way. He was a little smaller than me, but not by much. Looking at Oliver, it was easy to tell that he was gay. He walked as if he was dancing and his features were slender and delicate. His movements were graceful and his mannerisms were feminine. All the other boys shunned him. All of his friends were girls and he did the girly things with them. He jumped rope, did drill steps and cheers, and almost everything else all the other girls did. He was very out going and many would describe him as being flamboyant. As the story went, Nate and Jay spotted him walking home alone one night last summer and convinced him to smoke some weed with them in the park. Jay had been friends with Oliver’s older sister and he had known him for a while so he agreed and went with them. Oliver was only thirteen at the time and had never even smoked so much as a cigarette, but he was just happy some boys were talking to him. That night, Nate and Jay made sure to give Oliver an ample amount of weed and made him drink all the alcohol they had. As the story continued, I couldn’t help but to picture poor Oliver and the all things that he must have went through. After a few sips of the alcohol, Oliver became drunk and that’s when Nate and Jay made their move. They told Oliver they were going to take him home, but instead took him back to Nate’s house. They took him in his room and undressed him. Oliver was too far-gone to realize what they were doing until it was too late.

Joey wasn’t aware of all the specific details, but he did know that Oliver had told his sister that Nate and Jay raped him. No fooling around, but full force rape. God! Some people are sick, just plain old fashioned ‘sick in the head‘! With all the things that I went through, it still shocks me to find out that people could be so brutal. I asked Joey how he found out and why people didn’t act like anything was wrong with what Nate and Jay did. He said that not to many people knew and those who did were unsure if it was the truth. The only reason Joey knew, was because his sister was good friends with Oliver and he told her right after it happened. I asked him why people didn’t treat Nate and Jay differently. They had raped another boy, A BOY! Why wasn’t anyone running around calling them names and harassing them? Normally, just the suspicion of being gay was enough outcast someone especially if your Black or Hispanic and live in the ghetto, yet they weren’t and I didn’t understand that. Joey told me that no one really knew for sure if it happened and Nate and Jay were too high up in rank in their gang for anyone to ask them about it. So, rather than risk pissing off the two of them and feeling their wraiths, everyone just looked the other way. Besides, Nate and Jay were valuable to West Side. They sold the most drugs and brought in the most money. He also said that he didn’t think Amanda had heard about since it was mostly people from East Side who had and Nate made sure that she didn‘t hang around their..

Our whole four-hour conversation wasn’t just filled with the depressing things. He kept telling me how much he loved it when I smiled. He said my eyes lit up and sparkled. I told him how his eyes made my heart flutter and he admitted that he did remember our first kiss that night after the Puerto Rican Day Parade. That night one of his boys from his Gang called and wanted him to go ‘cop on the block’. I had no clue what the hell that made and said to ‘cop on the block’, was to go and score drugs from the street. I didn’t like the fact that he had bought drugs, but I didn’t speak on it. He was pissed because he didn’t want to leave me. I smiled at that. He bought the weed for his boy and tried to leave, but his boy didn’t want to smoke alone and made him stay and get high.

He was taken back with how I lashed out at him when he returned home later that night and that was when he knew that night he really liked me. The fact that he was upset that I was upset only proved that he liked me and feeling that way for the first time about a boy scared him. He said that as I was undressing him, it was the most erotic thing he ever felt and I had to laugh at his choice of words. They way he said "erotic" with his tough guy accent brought a smile to my face. But, I guess that’s how it was.

He tried to sleep off his feelings, but he claimed that I backed up into him sometime in the middle of that night and he lost it. He began to kiss my neck and was scared shitless when he realized that I wasn’t sleep, but when I kissed him back, he just lost all control of himself. As he was getting into it, the fear of people finding out scared him and made him want to stop.

The whole conversation had me smiling from ear to ear. I could not believe that we were actually together. Now we didn’t say that we were boyfriends, but I think we both knew that we were. I just wished I could share my joy with Amanda, but I knew Joey would kill me. If I was deep in the closet, Joey was even further past the winter coats.

"Nothing girl, why can’t I smile?" I asked Amanda playfully. She looked at me sideways and smirked.

"Did you fuck last night?" She asked. My girl was just TOO charming. My eyes were bulging at her brashness. There were at least twenty people in that coffee shop, all who turned to look at us after Amanda’s very loud declaration. She just sat there smirking sipping on her damn hot chocolate.

"AMANDA! Shut up! Someone might hear you." I yelled as I sank in my seat an tried to hid behind my muffin.

"OH-MY-GOD! Did YOU really fuck someone?" She leaned in closer so that she could whisper in my ear. " What’s his name?" She asked curiously.

"Shut up! Come on, we are going to be late for school." I got up to leave and she followed, but she just kept pressing me for information. It wasn’t until we ran into Peanut that she stopped.

"You know Chris, that damn paper is due next week." Peanut said to me. I had completely forgotten about the paper on Greek Mythology we had to do for English class. I am usually a very studious student, but with all the things that had been happening, it just slipped my mind.

"Oh shit! I wasn’t even thinking about that paper. I know a lot about it so we should be able to smash out a paper in a day or two." It was a half true. I wasn’t a complete expert on it, but my parents Dan and Jamie were obsessed with Greek history. As a child, my mom Jamie would read me tales from Homer’s Odysseys. At eight, I had no clue what the hell she was reading to me, but as I got older I learned to have an appreciation for it.

"Good, How about you come over on Friday and we can work on it then." I was willing to give up my Friday night, but I would be damned if I would go to Nate’s house.

"Yeah, but lets do it at my house." I said and he agreed. I really liked Peanut. He was a real cool guy, but I felt like I didn’t really know him. We had known each other for almost two months and I still knew little about him. I would make it a personal goal to learn something knew about him.

I don’t why I was, but I just assumed that Joey would ignore me the next day. I figured we would share a knowing glance occasionally, but that would be it. Imagine my surprise when he greeted me during homeroom. Usually, a boyfriend would visit his girlfriend in her homeroom or vice-versa. The teachers never minded as long as you kept it down and didn‘t disturb anyone. I was happy to see him, but then I started to think about what everybody else might have been thinking. He had never came in my homeroom before. ‘Would people start to wonder why he did that day and why he kept looking at me?’ I wondered to myself. I only had five minutes to ponder those thoughts before the bell signaling first period. Joey walked me to my class and for a second I thought he would lean over and kiss me, but he smiled and walked off. I loved the fact that he was willing to be seen with me, I mean, why wouldn’t he? It was just I started to have all these crazy thoughts. I thought people were looking at us and knew. Irrational, yes I knew that, but I couldn’t help it.

By the time art class came around, my paranoia was gone. I just needed to see his face once again and know that everything was alright. Art class was pretty much a time to do what ever you wanted to. As long as you were doing your work and not being disruptive, Mr. Balding would allow us to talk freely and even listen to music.

"Damn! I hate working with clay." Joey said.

"I know what you mean. Its like the art teachers get together every year and try to figure out different ways to torture us." I replied as I picked out clay from under my nails and he laughed. I knew my joke was corny, but the fact he laughed any way brought a smile to my face. Damn I loved him!

"So, what are you doing after school?" He asked with one eyebrow cocked up and a smirk on his face.

"Well, I have to organize my bookshelf and help my Aunt in the garden….and then theirs that whole trip to the dentist. Yeah, my day is pretty much booked." I replied and he through a ball of clay at me in response.

"Bus stop, after school." He said aggressively and I loved it, but still wanted to tease him a little. It was more fun that way.

"What am I suppose to tell Amanda? We catch the bus everyday."

"Tell her you gotta work on a project with a friend that way you wouldn’t have to lie to her." He rationalized.

"And what per say is this project that I have to work on?" I tried to talk seductively, but it didn’t come out exactly how I wanted it to. Joey looked around the art class to make sure no one was paying attention before he answered.

"Chemistry…" Judging from his loud laugh, I knew I must have been blushing.

When I got to lunch today, Amanda passed me a note written in purple ink from a milk pen. She instructed me to cover it as I read it. From the huge grin on her face, I knew I was in trouble.

Dear Kristin,

Hey GIRL! You know that you are my GIRL and I love you , but

I have to know something. Who is this boy that you are fucking? Now, I know

That you like to keep you CLOSET’S clean and your business out of the streets,

but I have to know who this guy is. If your not fucking him, then what are you

doing? It’s been driving me out of my MUTHA FUCKING MIND ALL DAMN

DAY LONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!URRGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now if you don’t tell

me who this dude is, I will be forced to take action. Yep, that’s right I don’t want to

do it, but your going to make me. I am officially claiming you "Willow" DVD as my

own. Yes, I am that BITCHY!! If you ever want to see Warwick Davis’s beautifully

small, pre-Leprechaun face again, then you better tell me whose dick you been getting

Into or………… whose dick been getting into you. You know, I’ve never asked, but are

you a top or… what is it called? Oh yeah….a bottom? Judging from the hump in

the bump you have, I think its safe to say you are a bottom. Okay KRISTIN, back to the

point at hand. I want to know his name. Now I know all about how you "white girls",

have to keep it on the LOW when you mess around with black GUYS <wink wink> but I

REALLY, REALLY want to know! You’re my best friend, you cant trust me. I mean,

does anyone no that your not "A NATURAL BLONDE"? Come on….tell your best

friend! (Yeah that’s right, I’m putting the "best friend" guilt trip on you… tell me!)


P.s. You know you love the subtlety of this note. Did you get my puns and witty jokes?)

As I crumbled "Martin’s" note I fell back laughing. Peanut looked up at us, waiting to be let in on the joke, which neither I nor "Martin" did. I looked over at her and the smile on her face caused me to choke on my chocolate milk. I loved Amanda and I hated keeping the fact that I was madly in love with the most wonderful person in the world from her, but I would have to talk it over with Joey first. I mouthed to Amanda "soon", and that satisfied her temporarily. I told her that I had to work on a project after school and for her to leave me. She asked me if I was working with someone who was at the "top" of the class, or the "bottom". She earned the kick I gave her and the jokes stopped, but it didn‘t wipe the smirk off her face.

I met Joey at the bus stop as soon as school ended. A few of kids who caught that bus asked me what I was doing on it. They all knew that it wasn’t my usually bus, but I nervously told them I had to go somewhere. Joey sat right next to me and for the first time in my life, a bus ride didn’t suck. With each thumb the bus made we would occasionally bump into each other and by the time it was time to get off, we both had to cover our fronts with our back packs.

We rushed down into his room. It was a chore to get him to go and lock the door that lead from the basement to the first floor of the main house. Even though no one was suppose to be home for a few hours, I didn’t want to risk getting caught. The minute he came back down the stairs, he already had his fleece off. His white wife-beater T-shirt was thin and transparent. I could see two very pink nipples peaking through. A vast contrast to my own very dark brown colored nipples. He put on an a slow jam CD and Minnie Rippertons’s "Loving you" set the mood. It was a little cheesy, but I loved it anyway.

He pushed me back on his bed as he rested his tall body on top of mine and we fell into sync immediately. Kissing him was one of the most passionate things that I had ever experienced. True, my intimate relations had been non existent before him, but I knew that it wouldn’t get any better than what we were doing at that moment. He made no bones about it, he wanted to have sex and so did I. I just didn’t know what he had in mind. We hadn’t discussed what we both wanted to do and didn‘t. I knew I wasn’t ready for some things, but I was unsure of what he wanted. I decided to just go with the flow. He took off my shirt and began to unbuckle his pants. The clinking of his belt unbuckling was the last sound I heard before everything else disappeared. There was no music, no other movements except ours. I can go on and on for hours about the gentle aggressiveness that Joey possesses. Never had I ever experienced something so wonderful. His pants had long been kicked to the floor as he was only wearing white boxers and he was trying to take mine off. He fumbled with my zipper and began to roughly pull at it, smiling at me as he struggled.

A child like voice in the back of my mind was screaming for him to stop. My body temperature shot up about ten degrees and everything became hot and not in a good way. His touches burned me. His kisses scorched my mouth. His hands snaked down my pants as he touched me in my most intimate of areas and I panicked. I don’t know what or how it happened, but I freaked out. Joey was softly resting his body on top of mine, but he began to feel heavier and heavier until his body began to crush mine. I felt like that scared five year old. I heard myself scream for him to get off, but it was only inside of my head. Joey took my hand and put it on his boxers so I could feel his excitement and I lost it. I felt tears fall down my face and it both worried and embarrassed me. I heard Hectors voice mumbling words in Spanish to me. ‘Usted es tan suave. Pare el girtar! Pare el grirar!’ Hector would always say those words to me. Whispering his raspy voice in my ear. ‘You are so soft. Stop crying! Stop crying!’ God! I felt so scared. Joey must have sensed something was wrong because he pulled off of me.

"Oh my God Chris! Did I hurt you?" He asked. His crystal blues deepened with worry as his accent came out in his speech. I didn’t feel alright. I had to get out of there.

"I’m sorry. I gotta go." I said as I scrambled to put my clothes back on. I wasn’t even aware that I had lost my arousal until I looked down to put my jeans on. Joey came over and hugged me from behind. His long arms wrapped around my chest as he crouched down so his head could lean on my shoulder. His embrace was safe and warm, but I had to get out of there. The air felt stale and constricting.

"Why are you crying? Did I do something to hurt you? I’m sorry! Chris talk to me man!" He pleaded, but I couldn’t even look him in his eyes. I felt so much shame and disgust of myself. He sat on his bed looking defeated as I was about to leave. I had to let him know that he didn’t do anything to hurt me. It wasn’t his fault that I panicked. I felt so unsure of myself as I walked over to him and kissed his cheek. He smiled at me and guided his lips to meet mine. I told him I would call him later and I left. He made no attempt to stop me again. I hoped he knew that he didn’t do anything wrong. ‘God! What the hell is my problem?’ I asked myself as I walked to the bus stop. The sun was still shinning, but the wind was strong and chilly. My windbreaker did little to keep the heat in. As the wind whipped across my face, a thousand thoughts ran through my head. ‘What’s wrong with me?’ I asked myself. I needed to find a way to fix things. Just when everything is looking up, something comes along to complicate things..……

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