September 9 2005
He was the kind of boy that every girl in our school, and a few guys too (myself included), would fall for in an instant. Derrick was 5’ 9”, great build (weightlifter), dark black hair, and hazel eyes that just pierced into your soul, in other words, dead on gorgeous. I, on the other hand, wasn’t a real catch; 5’ 10”, brown hair, and more of a wiry build. I had been fencing for four years, so I had developed a little tone at least.
I had known I was gay since 9th grade. It was just one of those things that I had gradually come to accept. I found guys attractive, sat with my legs crossed most of the time, loved musicals, and was often complimented on my properness (at least I didn’t talk with a lisp). I should also mention that most of my closest friends were girls; it just seemed more comfortable than sitting with guys who don’t talk about anything besides sex, sports, and beer. Our high school only had about 1,000 students, so it wasn’t huge and most everyone in my class knew me, and more importantly, respected me. I wasn’t number one in our class by grade point average, but I was the person anyone came to if they needed help in pretty much any subject.
I was also the kid at school that most everyone had a sneaking suspicion was gay, but never really could tell for sure (or just didn’t ask out of respect). Only one person had ever directly confronted me about it, Laura. She played tenor saxophone with me in our high school symphony band my junior, her senior, year. I denied it, not because I was ashamed, but frankly because I didn’t think it was anybody’s business what my sexual orientation was.
As I had just previously alluded to, music has always been a huge part of my life. This was in fact, where I first met Derrick. My senior year in high school, Derrick was moved into symphony band to replace several players who graduated last year; he played the alto sax and I remained the lead chair tenor player.
The first thing that attracted me to Derrick was his striking appearance, and as the year moved on, I got to know his personality through band and golf (which my 3-year-younger-than-me-brother played and occasionally commented on). Unfortunately though, I never gained the courage to talk to him more in depth and, even though I had considered many times, had never come out to anyone. At least I knew that Derrick knew who I was. I was also the most respected saxophone player from our school in a long time. I had played the alto sax for 5 years, switched to the tenor sax when I got into symphony band, played the baritone sax for a few months when our only baritone sax player was in a car crash, tinkered with our schools soprano sax occasionally, and even played the bass sax (extremely rare instrument) for our school’s spring musical, of which Derrick got the lead role, even though he didn’t quite have the tone to be a singer. He still had the kind of bass voice that could make you melt when he spoke.
But enough about all the background info, the real story starts my freshman year in college.
The UW system had a two year campus in our city, which I attended for one year so I could save money on housing (yes, I lived with my family for another year) and even got a scholarship to pay for my full year’s tuition.
As I said many times already, I love music (I actually grew up next to my symphony band teacher, so he already liked me) so I made sure to keep my 1:00-3:00 time slot open at college, so I could go down to the high school and help out the symphony band class (and yes, see HIM). I had self-taught myself several brass instruments over the summer and could now act as a fill-in when ever one of the regular players was sick; Mr. Brenly, my (former) symphony band teacher really appreciated this.
It all began when I approached Mr. Brenly about getting together a saxophone choir for Solo and Ensemble this year. I had played in it once back in 10th grade, but after that, it never seemed there was much interest. Mr. Brenly enthusiastically agreed, provided I do all the work. The hard part came when I had to pick out music. None of the pieces on the list were really challenging or interesting. Luckily I had written several sax quartet pieces last year which I quickly arranged to add a few more parts, to make it an actual choir. I sent in my arrangement of Pachelbel’s Kanon, and it was approved by the Solo and Ensemble board. Again, plenty of background info. I needed a soprano sax player for the choir, and since I only knew one other person who had even played the soprano sax, the choice was simple. I asked several other symphony band members to join the choir first, and since all knew me from last year, they all happily agreed. Derrick seemed just as interested when I offered him the soprano sax part.
Mr. Brenly was sitting in his usual chair at the front of the band before class started and I wrote up on the board “Sax Choir Practice Every Wed. After School” in my sloppy left-handed writing. When I had finished, Mr. Brenly leaned over and said, “Kyle is on a field trip, could you grab the euphonium?” I of course agreed, since this was one of the few brass instruments I was comfortable playing. Symphony band rehearsal went fine and I headed off to my last class at the campus.
It was only the third week of September and I already found myself taking quick naps during Comp 102. Once the bell disturbed a rather nice dream (all right, fantasy) I was having, I grabbed my book bag and ran down to the high school (which was conveniently located down the hill) for our first sax choir rehearsal.
Everyone I asked had shown up. I handed out a few different pieces of music, some mine, and some from the S and E list. I conducted as they sight read a few pieces. After we went through all of them, most everyone agreed their favorite piece was the Kanon, and after I told them I arranged it, there were quite a few shocked and impressed faces.
I dismissed everyone around 4:00 and they all started trickling out of the school building, all except one.
I was gathering all of the rejected scores and placed them in their appropriate folders when I heard a familiar voice from behind me. “Tommy?” the voice melted straight through me whenever I heard it. I turned around, and there was Derrick.
“Yeah Derrick. What do you need?” I tired to stay as calm and cool as I could.
“I was wondering if you could go through some of the parts with me some time?” This question struck me as odd, Kanon was difficult for the soprano sax part, but Derrick seemed to be doing fine.
“Sure,” was all I could muster. “When would be a good time for you?”
“How about after school tomorrow?” I noticed he didn’t look as relaxed as he normally does.
“That sounds fine. I’ll meet you here in the band room after school.”
“Great, see you then,” he turned around and walked out the door. I gazed at his perfect ass as he walked away, hoping he wouldn’t turn around and catch me. Thankfully he didn’t.
I only had one class at the campus Thursday, so the day was pretty quick and uneventful. I got to symphony band earlier than usual, since I had no classes close before it. Mr. Brenly said everyone was here today, so I cleaned and organized full band scores for a few hours. A monotonous task for anyone who has ever done it. I figured I would just stay at the high school’s band room, organizing, until classes were over. I was waiting for Derrick in the band room after school when he showed up only a few minutes after school had actually gotten out. I had already set up the soprano sax for him and was ready at the piano.
“Do you think we could go into one of the practice rooms?” he asked.
“Sure.” They all had pianos in them so I could still help him practice rhythms and such. We both went into the nearest room and closed the door. The rooms themselves aren’t very cozy only about 10’ x 10’ each, add an upright piano and several players and it was a little tight.
For about 15 minutes, I helped Derrick by playing out a few rhythms on the piano while he repeated on the soprano sax. Occasionally, when I would look over, I could see that there was a distracted look in his face.
I finally asked him, “Derrick, you seem really out of it, is something wrong?”
When I asked him this, he put down the sax and looked at the floor, as if deeply thinking out his answer. “Tommy, can I ask you a personal question?”
“Of course Derrick.” He still had a troubled look in his eyes, so I quickly added, “Anything you say stays in this room.” The rooms were soundproof, so it was true.
Finally, after a minute or so, he sat down on the piano bench I was seated on, looked me in the eyes with a strained look, and asked the question only one other person had ever asked me, “Tommy, are you gay?”
This question pierced me straight through the heart. I still had not come out to anybody before, but now I was very relaxed and it just kind of came out. “Yeah Derrick. I am.” I had turned my face and said these four simple words straight into the music in front of me, not even looking at him.
He sat silent for a few more moments before speaking again. “How long have you…how did you know?” I knew he wanted to know more than he was asking, so I decided to let it all out.
“I’ve known for quite a few years now. I found some girls beautiful when I was younger, but was never really attracted to them. It really started freshman year in gym class when I found myself more interested in guy’s bodies.” I didn’t want to elaborate too much for fear of making him more uncomfortable than he already was. I had partaken in that self form of satisfaction as had most kids my age. The only difference was I did it thinking about, or looking at (via the magic of the internet) other guys.
I could see out of the corner of my eye that he was no longer even looking at me, lost somewhere in his own thoughts. I finally got up my own courage to confront him. I looked right at him and his gaze snapped back to mine. “Derrick, is there something you want to tell me?” He just stared right into my eyes. God, it felt like he was looking straight into my soul. I could see his eyes were just beginning to water. He quickly broke our gaze and looked back down at the floor, put his face in his hands and began sobbing softly. I knew.
I put my arm around his shoulder and pulled him into me. The moment my arm made contact, I could feel him jump back slightly. He looked up at me, tears rolling down his cheeks. I couldn’t stand to see him in so much pain. I took my other arm and wrapped it around him, pulling him tightly into an embrace. He started crying again into my shoulder. This was a man I had never seen cry in my life, and here he was sobbing as I held tightly onto him.
I whispered to him, “It’s all right. It’s all right.”
He pulled back his face, gazing straight into my eyes, tilted his head slightly, and pressed his lips softly against mine. After a few moments, he lifted one of his hands and held the back of my hand, pulling me deeper into an intensifying kiss. I wouldn’t tell him, but this is the first time I had actually kissed another man (and it was GOOD).
The kiss subsided and he slowly pulled back, hand still on the back of my head. His eyes were closed, but opened gradually and started that dead-hot gaze back into my eyes. I don’t know who was more surprised at what had just happened, him or me. My deepest fantasies had just come true, and yet I was even more confused than I had been in all my life.
Our breathing had slowly returned to normal, and he was still gazing right at me. Bombs could have been dropping all around and our stare would not have been broken. Neither one of us said anything for several minutes.