As I held him in my arms, my mind slowly started to retake control, almost as if pulling me out of a warm soft sleep. I tried to resist, but the mind would only sit on the sidelines for so long. Chris felt so good in my arms. This was a position I could never grow tired of. All of the loneliness and despair I had once felt in my own life had been lifted from my young shoulders and carried away by the strength of this moment. I had never felt so calm, so sure that happiness and love were within my reach, literally within my arms. My mind started to ask questions, not questions based in doubt, but based in reason and logical concern. Had I pushed Chris into this? Would he now push me away if I had gotten too close? What brought him to this point? I felt like I knew what had brought me to this point. It was indisputably true that I needed him. I also felt like he needed me, or at least he needed somebody. He had never answered my question and I still didn't know what had made him so upset. His breathing had steadied and I hated to break the moment, but I needed to understand him better.
"Chris, please tell me what is wrong." I whispered it into his ear softly, pulling my head from his shoulder just far enough to direct the words.
His response came in the form of a tightened grip of his arms around my back, sinking deeper into me trying to escape my request. I returned his strength and re-tucked my head into the curve of his neck offering a silent apology and acknowledgement of his answer. We stayed like this locked in a tight embrace for several more minutes before I felt him loosen his grip and separate himself from me just far enough to rest his forehead at a slight angle into mine.
"What isn't wrong?" The question was also the answer and I understood it perfectly well.
"Somehow, everything will be all right Chris. I don't know how, but it will."
"No it won't. It's too late. Everything will never be all right. I've screwed so many things up. My mom.." He was openly sobbing again, pressing his forehead into mine so hard that it hurt.
My words hesitated for fear of opening a wound so deep that it couldn't be closed. "Chris, your mom just needs help. Sometimes grownups get lost just like everybody else. She can find her way back. She just can't do it alone. What happened to her, Chris?" As I asked, his fingers clinched together pinching clumps of my windbreaker and t-shirt together. He wasn't ready to go there and I wished I hadn't asked. It was too much for him. Eventually, he eased again and began to calm.
Most of the major calamities in his life were well engrained. Parents don't get screwed up overnight, nor do they get fixed that way. Chris had showed so much bravery, but something had pushed him over the edge. On any given day, we are all dangling by the smallest thread of hope, with nothing else separating us from the long painful fall beneath. I again pictured the grimace he had given me earlier when I mentioned homecoming.
"Chris, did something happen yesterday that upset you, something with Katie?" This was difficult territory for me. It was hard for me to bring her into the moment, to share this space with her. I had to for his sake. No matter what he told me, if it helped him that was all that mattered right now.
"Nothing happened Matt. I don't even try anymore. She just doesn't love me. She won't say it, but I know. I don't feel that way just because she doesn't want..It's just, I can't explain it. When we're by ourselves, I just feel so....so alone. She doesn't even really talk to me anymore. If we're not in a group, it's just so silent and empty.and lonely. I don't know what I've done. I must have done something to deserve.."
"NO!" I shocked him as much as I shocked myself. It was a reflex statement and was out of my mouth long before I could reel it back in. I took a deep breath and gave him a humble look, my eyes pleading with him to believe me. My hands moved to both sides of his face, my thumbs gently wiping his eyes clear before my hands resettled softly at the rear of his neck.
"No." Softly this time, quiet, my voice and eyes now pleading together. "No, Chris. You don't deserve this. You don't deserve any of this." My own eyes refilled with tears so thick I could barely see him, and I had to blink hard to release the flow before relocking my focus. "You deserve so much more." My head was now gently shaking sideways and a tight-lipped, loving smile tried to take grip on my quivering face.
There was a look in his eyes that wanted to believe me. Other forces were also at work deep within him, pulling him away.
"I'm trouble Matt. I don't want you to get hurt too. So many things are already broken.." He hadn't moved an inch but I could feel him drifting away from me. He was quivering. I felt like I had failed him or at least my words had. I decided to just gently lean into him, resting our foreheads back together. I could only hope to soothe him again with my touch. I closed my eyes and softly and slowly stroked the back of his head, gently combing my fingers through his hair. His quivering relented, but he felt cold and lifeless to my senses. He had receded deep within himself, summonsed there by fear, I believed. He didn't want me to get hurt - too. I truly believed that he couldn't even bear the thought of hurting me somehow. How would he hurt me? Was he afraid he would disappoint me? Couldn't he be deserving of the confidence and faith I had in him? I had found it within myself to finally believe in Chris. He had been emptied so by the many wounds in his life. Did he really feel responsible for all that had gone wrong around him? His head was filled with lies and truths all tangled together, his mind unable to untie the knots and sort out the difference. I felt completely overwhelmed and under-equipped for the project that lay ahead.
I barely heard him. He spoke it in such a soft voice. "Thanks, Matt." Again, he clenched me tight one last time before gathering himself and pulling back, boring into me with those x-ray eyes just like he had many times before. This time though, his eyes were in role-reversal, sending an answer to an unasked question. I felt warm, I felt loved. I also felt reassured, having begun to wonder how Chris would respond to me when this was over. I knew that what we had communicated was real, but I was afraid it wouldn't be an easy adjustment for him. He may have sensed my unease, but no matter, his reassurance was much welcomed.
As he broke his stare and we lost touch for the first time in what must have been at least an hour, my eye detected movement in the background through the glassless window, out in the trees. I tried to sharpen my focus but was unable to pick up where the movement had come from. My eyes were now sore from their intense efforts. Could they have been playing tricks on me? The rain was subsiding, but the cooling breeze was still blowing. I stepped up to the window and peered deep into the woods. Nothing. I decided to keep this to myself. Even if someone had been there, how could they see us if I couldn't see them? There was plenty of wildlife in these woods too, I thought.
We stepped out of the old shack. I couldn't help but look back inside knowing that what had happened would change my life forever. I felt taller, stronger, even older, and definitely more mature. I was in love and determined to win. I was no longer locked in a petty battle with Katie, though I was already making plans to deal with her. I was now locked in a much larger and more important battle to help win back the life of the boy I loved. I didn't know how long it would take, how hard the battle would be fought, or where it would take me. I only knew I would win or die trying. I would leave nothing on the battlefield. Whatever sacrifice I had to make, whatever pain I had to suffer, I would do so in the all powerful name of love. What I had always wanted was within my sights. My life had found new purpose.
When I turned back, Chris was staring at me curiously. I smiled at him, a strong assuring smile.
"Yeah, buddy. It's me." I stepped to him and threw my right arm out around the back of his shoulder never losing step as he picked up stride and walked with me, glancing curiously over at me again still not convinced.
No sooner had we reached Chris's house, when I saw my mom's car pull in the drive. "This can't be right." I looked up into the clouds trying to find some indication as to where the sun was and what time it must be. I hadn't worn my watch, but there was no way it was five o'clock already. It was. The loss of time almost disoriented me momentarily. I turned to Chris. He threw his hand out to meet mine and we clasped them together as we always did, but this time our eyes were locked and there were no laughs or smiles. We were both resolved to this parting, though neither of us wanted it. Our hands slid apart and I jogged out to meet my mom before she made it half way down the drive. I had her stop and back out, never reaching the rear of the house. As we backed away, Chris stood, still visible to me before the angle of the house swallowed him up from my view. Our eyes stayed in contact until that moment, and I even looked on well after that in the event that he reappeared somehow. My mom was very quiet, sensing that something was happening that she couldn't quite piece together.
"Matt, did you and Chris have a fight?" She really didn't know what to think. It occurred to me that my face was probably still red and maybe even still a little puffy.
"No mom." My answer was succinct but kindly delivered. She had reached the end of the drive and I had shifted my eye contact to her. I held her eyes for several seconds more, before she finally blinked, turning away to check traffic before backing out into the main road. The warrior rising within me knew he needed key alliances for the battle ahead. No one was fiercer or more loyal than my mother. I knew I needed her. This wasn't the time or place, but soon I would claim my alliance.
The ride home was pretty quiet. My mom reached over once and rubbed my knee, never looking away from the road. When we reached the house, I first feared it was on fire. Instead, dad was just firing up the grill in the backyard. CHEESEBURGERS! I loved grilled burgers. My dad did them just right, and he always threw the cheese on at the end letting it sear into the meat. There were no vegetarians in the Jordan household. We were unashamed meat-eaters.
"I'm sorry I called you a sell-out, dad." I put my hand on his shoulder and leaned in to get a better whiff of the smoke as he expertly flipped our burgers. He gave me a glance between flips and passed a contented smile.
"You're still going to church tomorrow. You know that, right?" He held a burger in mid-air, stopping to give me his full attention, smiling all the while.
I returned his smile plus some, and repeated my earlier one- finger confirmation. He laughed at me and cracked some line about "you and your mother."
Over dinner, I told my parents of my desire to play JV basketball this year. They stopped chewing and looked at each other in unison.
"What? I love basketball." They resumed chewing and dad nodded his tentative approval. Mom just chewed and stared at me, trying to figure out the big picture, as always.
"Matt, it's just that you've never played basketball before. Are you sure you want to try this.now?" Maybe she didn't think I could make it and would just be disappointed when I failed, or maybe this represented another challenge to her nest.
"Chris is a really good player and a great coach too. He's been showing me the moves."
"I see." Did she? "This works right into dad's community outreach program too, you know? The guys at the bank should love this." I might have been stretching it just a bit. My dad paused in mid- bite before resuming without comment.
"Matt, let your father and I talk about this. If it's something you really want and if you don't let it effect your school work, then I don't see why you shouldn't have the opportunity."
"I really do want to do this mom. The team travels together on the bus and I would have a blast just hanging with Chris, even if I don't get to play that much. I'll keep my grades up, don't worry. I'll need some help getting home after practice though, at least until Chris gets his drivers license."
"Matthew, why don't you plan to invite Chris over sometime soon, so your father and I can meet him?" Mom was smooth. I had to give her credit for that. She was right, too. It was only fair for her to ask.
"Hey, Matt. Why don't you invite him to church with us tomorrow?" I choked violently on my coke, my sinuses stinging on the carbonation. With watery eyes, I looked over at my dad and waved off the hideous suggestion with my free hand, the other hand trying to cover my mouth and keep my half-chewed burger bite from flying across the table. My mom gave him a sneer for good measure.
"All right. All right" he conceded. Sometimes dad just didn't get it.
After I finally recovered, I decided it was time to make some progress with my parents on the Chris front. Much staging was necessary before the battle could begin. I didn't really know where to start, but being as honest as possible always seemed to work best for me.
"I'm really worried about Chris." I flipped nervously at the few remaining chips on my plate, never raising my eyes. The noise at the table dropped considerably.
"Why are you worried about him, Matt?" I raised my eyes to meet my mom as she asked. Anything that worried me worried her and she showed it in her eyes.
"I never knew how lucky I was until I met Chris's parents." True, I really didn't. Not having any close friends had also meant I never had anything to compare my own mom and dad to. "Chris's dad used to work in the stockade at the Presidio a long time ago." Now I had dad's full attention. So there was a bigger point to all those questions after all. "He's a teacher at school and he also coaches the baseball team. He's not exactly well liked. He's a very serious man. I think Chris's mom might be an alcoholic." I could see the grimace on my dad's face as I said it. My dad was an upbeat guy, but he had known less upbeat days as his father fought and lost many battles with alcohol before finally losing the war for good. I shifted to my mom's face. I could almost feel my mom absorbing my own pain and fears for Chris. "There's just no love in his house. I never knew people lived like that before. To top it all off, he's got a girlfriend that treats him like crap and doesn't even love him." I had to have a drink and turned the bottom of my coke can to the sky. Emotion was starting to swell back up within me. Saying it out loud just brought everything rushing to the surface.
"Matt, what is Chris like?" My mom always knew the right questions.
"He's so brave, mom." My eyes were definitely swelling with emotion. Something possessed me to meet my mom's eyes, revealing to her the emotions within me. We held each others stare just as we had earlier when she picked me up at his house. "Everyone likes Chris. He was the first kid at school to talk to me and we became friends my first day. He's the best friend I've ever had." I smiled and stopped to tell them the story of how we had met that first day. We all needed a light moment. My mom and dad smiled but we never reached a laugh. The underlying drama wouldn't allow it. I continued. "Somehow, he always seems to stay upbeat. But he's in a lot of pain." I trailed off quickly. The warrior had broken just a bit. My lip had quivered and the swell in my eyes was now washing down my face. But the little warrior didn't stay down for long. "Somebody's got to fight for him." I declared it resolutely and flashed the determination in my wet eyes first to my mom, then my dad.
We three Jordans had never had a talk quite like this together. Somewhere in their faces, I saw a common reflection of pride. They had seen me down before but they knew I wasn't a quitter. I wouldn't be a coward. Anyone could do a cowardly thing, but to remain a coward is within the control and choice of all of us. What I had lacked in life was something or someone to really believe in. I loved and believed in my parents, but that was different. I wanted to tell them more, but I simply wasn't ready.
"Chris is probably going through a lot of self-doubt right now." I had rarely heard my dad speak so softly. "I'm sure he blames part of his mom's problems on himself. Everyone does, Matt." My dad was speaking straight from the heart now. The `marketing guy' needed no notes or slides for this speech. "You wonder if they're drinking because of you, something you've done. You wonder if somehow you could be a better kid..would it make them better too. You wonder if they'd be happier without you. You wonder how the love of a child can lose to the love of a bottle. Mostly, you just wonder about everything, Matt. I'm sure Chris is doing a lot of wondering too. Alcoholism is always toughest on those around the drinker. They're awake and always wondering long after the drunk has passed out for the night." My mom had reached over and rested her hand on my dad's forearm. My poor mom was working double-time with her Jordan boys tonight. "Your mom's right about Chris coming over, but not just so we can meet him, Matt. I want to make sure he knows he's welcome as part of this family too, son." My dad knew how to close a deal after all. I stood and walked over to him and just collapsed in his arms, crying openly and freely. I cried for the pain my dad had suffered as a child. I cried for the realization that my parents could love me this much. I cried remembering what my mom had told me in the car when she dropped me off at Chris's earlier today. I mostly cried with joy and relief now knowing that at least this part of my battle wouldn't have to be fought alone. My bed felt so good and so warm. The rain had returned tonight and was beating steadily against the window in my room. I was exhausted by the emotion of the day, but I lingered awake with my mind drifting back to the old shack in the woods. This day had brought my first kiss and I wondered what it meant. It had started as just a brush of the lips, but we both moved back to the same position letting our lips rejoin for a while. I never even thought about it as sexual and I didn't expect that Chris did either. To me, it meant we trusted each other completely, accepted each other without question, understood each other without explanation, and that we loved each other. Whether our definitions of love matched I still couldn't know for sure. Chris still had a girlfriend, at least for now. I had already resolved to confront Katie but I knew I had to be careful about it. Without question, Chris and I were now best friends - at least. I might have to accept Katie in his life, but I was no longer willing to stand by idly and let her hurt him. If she cared about him enough to help him, then I would tolerate her. If she was only going to make a bad situation worse, then she had to go. She would have to accept his new best friend too, even if he had a few things to say that would really piss her off.
At some point, sleep had found me. The night passed far too quickly and Sunday morning burst onto the scene far too early.
"Matt, no sleeping in this morning, son. I need you to be ready in forty-five minutes." My dad was proselytizing this morning, ready to spread the word.
I really wasn't looking forward to this. The last time I was in church was for a funeral and I couldn't even remember who died. I had decided not to hassle my dad anymore on this one, not after he had come through for me last night. I was up and ready with fifteen minutes to spare. The bright spot of the morning was the discovery that the suit my mom bought me last year was no longer oversized and now fit me just right. I looked good. My mom thought so too and did that embarrassing thing that moms do to their sons when they think so. She just smiled and ran her hands down my shoulders and around the outsides of my arms and chest, sort of ironing me into perfection. Off to church we went.
"Dad, what type of church are we going to?" I was hoping to find some clue as to what religion we thought we were.
"It's non-denominational son. There's no specific label." That surprised me a little. I would have been sure my dad would have picked a reputable brand name.
"How did we pick this one dad?" I was genuinely curious about the process.
"Their yellow-page ad was nice plus it's close by, and they have paved parking." Leave it to my dad to pick a church using the freaking yellow-pages. Who mentions `paved- parking' in an ad for a church? Evidently their marketing guy was top-notch too because it worked on my dad. Mom turned to look back at me and tried to smile reassuringly. I tried to give her the same smile in return. We could get through this together, at least this once.
Sure enough, they had paved-parking with nice white stripes and handicap signs to boot. In fact, they had dozens of handicap signs and I started to wonder if this was just a church for the handicapped. I quickly noticed several canes, walkers, and wheelchairs connected to older - make that VERY older - southern ladies. Everyone was dressed up too, as were we. And oh the colors: blue, purple, gold - and that was just their hair! This was at least going to be an entertaining experience. I wished I'd brought a camera. What struck me was what I didn't see - namely anyone my age. I had to give them credit for one thing, there was a good crowd. So good in fact, that we eventually had to pull into a grass field used for overflow parking. I had bit my tongue as long as I could and decided to give my dad a zinger. "Dad, we could always sue them for false advertising." I did it playfully and put my arm around him for insurance.
A couple of regulars strolled up beside us as we made our way through the vast parking lot and I overheard one of them say eagerly "We're gonna hear some good preachin this mornin." I wondered if pronouncing words ending in `g' was considered disrespectful here on the Sabbath.
It was still a good twenty minutes before preachin' would begin and we gathered in a shaded area out in front of the church. This was a loud group of people and you could tell there was lots of community news spread here each Sunday morning. My dad swung into full campaign mode, pressing the flesh with all who would take his outstretched hand. I wondered why he didn't just go ahead and give out business cards. It would have been much more efficient. My mom patiently smiled and nodded, but I wondered how long she would last with this act. Then I saw the face of an angel, a boy who looked to be my age in a sharp black suit standing just outside the front entrance to the church. Without even realizing it, I reached and straightened my tie. What was I doing? Maybe he wasn't an angel after all. I think he sensed my stare from the distance and slowly turned his head and locked his own stare dead into my eyes. His smile was very faint; it was more of a devilish grin, honestly. There was heat in those eyes and I was feeling it. This might have been the most striking boy I had ever laid eyes on. Lower powers were at work, literally. This couldn't be happening, not in these pants - the fabric might not be strong enough! Maybe it was the breeze and the wool, no it was definitely the heat of this stare. I had to look away. I found an old tombstone in the neighboring cemetery and tried to imagine the decayed corpse underneath - anything to turn the tide on the unwelcome church boner that I was now trying to wrestle flat with my right hand. I glanced back at the boy. Big mistake, as he was now in a full evil grin almost controlling my rise remotely.
Southerners are big huggers, especially large southern women. I had pulled my right hand out of my pants pocket long enough to straighten my hair, when I was blind-sided by a whale of a woman that my dad had just chatted with. She wrapped her arms around me pulling me tight into her and saying something about "precious baby". When her prodigious thighs made contact with `you know who', I heard her gasp. When she pulled back away from me, she was a little flush, and raised her heavily tinted brows, giving me an appreciative smile. She had definitely gotten more than she had bargained for, but didn't seem to mind. I watched her gravitate to some ladies of similar weight in the community and I was sure I heard them all giggle. Before I knew it, I was being squeezed and hugged by tons of women. Finally, what the image of a dead corpse couldn't do, these ladies had done. The party was over, the boner was down, let the preachin' begin. The boy was still out front by the door when we came by but I tried extra hard not to make eye contact this time, not wanting any more discomfort than I'd already had. He was definitely quite the little devil.
We found a comfortable spot at the end of a pew. Church organs were playing. The stage was well decorated. The audience was buzzing. They even had brochures!
"It's called a program Matthew." My mom educated me as she passed one down to me. They must use a nice printer, more kudos to the marketing guy.
As I opened the program, the words on the thin paper couldn't have hit me harder if delivered by a 2x4:
HOMOSEXUAliTY: AN ABOMINATION TO THE CHURCH
My mouth dropped open and I turned my head slowly to see my mother's reaction. She closed her program quickly and turned her head not-so-slowly to see my dad's reaction. Dad was still admiring the print work and hadn't bothered to actually read the contents yet.
"Mom, what's an abomination?" There were so many negative words I didn't know.
She wouldn't look me in the eye, but leaned over and whispered "I think it means disgust or a cause of disgust, or something like that." She took my hand and held it. We sat there in church, holding hands as mom and son. It was nice and took some of the edge off for me. I noticed a familiar face near the front of the church. Mr. Duncan, the schools very busy P.E. teacher was here, but not with the orally gifted Donna Simpson and not with always horny Ms. Nelson. I didn't know who this lady was, but decided she was too young to be his mother and sitting too close to be his sister. Maybe Mr. Duncan was here for forgiveness. If so, I guessed he must come here a lot. I also saw the devilish boy take a seat in the front row along with a woman who had to be his mother by resemblance alone. It finally hit me; this kid was the preacher's son! It figured. Preacher's sons had general reputations as being on the wild side. I guess all that preaching wore a little thin at home.
The theatrics began. We had drama. We had music. We had song. We had more drama. The lead actor was great and had tremendous charisma, truly a blessed performer. Then we paid the bill, or at least we passed the plate. My dad had said this was a non-denominational church, but as the plate passed by I decided that a twenty dollar bill was definitely the preferred denomination. The plate was full of them. I wondered if that was a good take for a Sunday morning. There had been plenty of amen, and `you tell em preacher'. They all prayed for the `homosexuals', but I'm pretty sure they didn't pray for them all to come to this church. Based on the tone of the `message', I tend to think they just prayed them away. Really, none of this bothered me greatly because I didn't associate it with God. I had no problem with God; it was the people who seemed to always screw things up for him. Anybody could start a church. It was still a free country after all. Whatever the south may be lacking in, small country churches isn't on the list. There's one every mile, sometimes sitting across the street from each other right out in the middle of nowhere.
My prayers were finally answered as the `service' was over. We partook in the tradition of shaking hands with the first- family as we made our way out the front door. As visitors, I guess we garnered a little special attention from the preacher. My dad introduced us with what little enthusiasm he could still stomach. The preacher still had plenty of charisma left.
"John, Joanna and Matthew! Oh, what beautiful Christian names! You're a lovely family. Thanks for visiting our home. We hope you'll call it your home someday soon." Preachers were sort of the ultimate marketing guys. I ventured a glance over at junior while this was going on. He definitely had all of his father's charisma. It just oozed out from him. He was giving me that same look as before and when he shook my hand, he held it plenty long and told me "thanks for coming."
I thought to myself "not quite", but plenty close enough, thank you. I had news for the preacher. He had his own little abomination right at home. I gave the boy a knowing smile and nod before making my way down the stairs. Finally, the Jordans found their way back to the safety of the car.
"So dad, do you think you made enough new contacts today to let us afford one of those big green John Deere lawn mowers like Tommy's dad owns?"
"All right, all right. You and you're mother." Dad grimaced and shook his head.
"It's OK dad. We've got to admit, it was an interesting experience." Mom just kept quiet. I decided she would save her comments for later when she could talk with dad alone.
The rest of the day Sunday raced by quickly. The weather went sour again, and rain set in all afternoon. It was great nap weather, though. As bedtime approached, I tried to plot in my mind exactly what I would say to Katie. She wasn't likely to take anything I said kindly. I was still a low- life freshman to her, but I was determined she would have to reckon with me.
Home-room Monday morning, Tommy spent the whole time telling everyone who would listen about the old monster catfish we had caught Friday night. I tried to catch up with Chris later but we were always on opposite ends of the campus. We usually didn't even see each other until lunch each day.
After third period, I spotted Katie alone walking toward the auditorium. It was lunch period now and I had at least thirty minutes if I could catch her alone. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. She was too far ahead of me and entered the auditorium before I could catch her. I entered shortly behind her, deciding this setting might at least offer us the privacy that I needed to make my case. If she screamed at me here, at least no one would notice. Katie had long slim athletic legs and could walk very fast. She had already disappeared behind the auditorium stage before I could even make an effort to flag her down. I only knew she had been there by the wave of the curtain she had pushed aside. This setting was definitely fitting. The auditorium had a raised stage, ideal for the drama I had in mind. I was puzzled as to exactly why Katie was even here and where she had disappeared to. I had never been on the stage, must less backstage. There were several layers of curtains controlled by overhead pulleys. Only the night lights were on, meaning you could make your way but it was sort of spooky with the shadows from the curtains. I slowed my pursuit and quietly made my way up on the stage, looking back out over the dark empty seating. It was all a little too dramatic. I could hear quiet voices coming from the rear corner of the stage. I decided to inch forward and check it out. The voices slowly became audible. I knew one of them was Katie. Oh god, I hoped the other wasn't Chris. I couldn't bare the thought of getting caught spying on them like this. This definitely wasn't Chris's voice though, but it was a boy's voice. I ever so quietly worked myself into position so I could find out exactly what the hell was going on here. I could tell I was close by the voices. I made my way to the edge of one last curtain and barely sticking my head around the side, they finally came into clear view. I had drawn a fortunate spot because it was quite dark where I was, but they were directly under a night light. I was in full spy mode now. I recognized the boy. His name was Ty Wilson. I knew this because he was the school king-in-waiting. He was the most popular junior at school and best friends with the senior boy who was the reigning social king. I could feel my heart pounding. Voyeuristic adrenalin was running hot through my veins. Ty was sitting in a metal stage chair. Katie was kneeling between his open legs with her arms propped out, one on each Ty's thighs. She was pleading with him about something and he had his hands on her shoulders listening. My first thought was that she was being very sloppy. What if Chris were standing here instead of me? There might be at least two dead teenagers soon if that had been the case. My heart was now nearly jumping out of my chest and I had to take long deep open mouthed breaths to calm myself. My palms were sweaty. I focused my ear.
"This is really tough on me Ty and it's not fair to Chris. I'm just going to break up with him. No one will get suspicious about us."
"Baby, calm down. That's not the plan. You need to be with someone because I can't have anybody getting wise to us. You know that. If Jeannie had a clue, she would ruin both of us. You don't want that, do you?"
I knew that Ty's girlfriend was named Jeannie. She was a popular senior and I had seen her and Katie together on several occasions. It all made sense now. Katie wasn't waiting for someone better to come along. She was just waiting for Jeannie to move out of the picture. Next year, Katie would be the girlfriend of the new school king. Chris was just her poor dumb cover for the tryst she had to keep quiet until then. I had greatly underestimated her and the depths she would sink to. How did she ever get this screwed up? I was about to find out the full price she was paying to be the lady in waiting. I could tell that Katie was softly sobbing. Maybe she had a heart, but maybe she didn't. Ty definitely didn't.
"Baby, come on now. We don't have time for tears." He kissed her several times on the forehead, lifting her chin with one hand and planting a long slow kiss on her lips. It was his free hand that caught my attention. Ty had wrestled a very hard cock from his oversized jeans and was now gently stroking it with his free hand. "Come on, baby. We don't have much time left." He kissed her one more time. The hand that was under her chin went to the back of her neck, pulling Katie's head and mouth down to meet his erection. I watched on for just a moment, partly out of spectacle but mostly out of disbelief. I blinked hard several times, holding my eyes shut a little longer each time. Each time when my eyes reopened, the two of them were still there. This didn't appear to be the first time they had done this routine together. Ty had a pretty sweet deal worked out for himself. I wondered if he even intended to make Katie his girlfriend one day. I almost felt a twinge of sympathy for her.
I edged back out of the stage area just as quietly as I had arrived. I walked through the darkened seats and exited from the farthest door, trying to make no noise at all in my wake. Once outside in the open air, I bent over and grabbed my knees gasping hard for breath with my heart still racing rapidly.
"Mattie, where have you been? I've been looking for you." Tommy startled me back to full reality, nearly giving me a heart attack in the process. "Mattie, are you sick? You're white as a sheet."
"Tommy, did you see Chris anywhere?" I had to locate him and remove any chance that he might stumble onto Katie and kill someone.
"He was in the cafeteria looking for you."
"Tommy. Listen to me, please. I want you to run back there and find him. Keep him there, Tommy. Don't tell him I told you to do this, OK? Just tell him I was looking for him and I'm on my way back to the cafeteria to grab a bite. Please Tommy. I can't answer anything right now. Will you help me?" I knew I could depend on Tommy. I had to catch my breath and more importantly my composure before seeing Chris. I also needed just a minute to think.
"Sure Mattie. Whatever you say." He was confused for sure, but willing to help as always.
"Go Tommy. Please, go now. Make sure you find him. Where ever you find him, keep him there." With a final push, Tommy ran off toward the cafeteria.
There was no way I could tell Chris about Katie. That wasn't even an option. I was suddenly overcome with a real fear that he would kill someone if he found out about this. That couldn't be left to chance, but I couldn't put a plan together this quick. I couldn't believe she would be so careless, that they would be so careless. Ty probably got off extra hard from the risk, but he wouldn't get off if Chris got his hands around his neck. Right now, I had to get my composure. Later I had to make a plan. I breathed easier knowing that Tommy would find him for me, and at least keep him safely away from here.
This had raised the stakes for everyone. I had to figure this out.