Elliot looked closer at the pictures and the articles. It was Jan. Who ever had this locker was a real fan of his. The last picture added overlapped the others so he could tell it was added last. It was headlined, “Tragedy Strikes Soccer Champion”. Elliot read how the accident with his leg occurred. The more he read, the more angry he got. He slammed the door and walked out.
Elliot was so angry, he almost trembled with so many thoughts swirling around in his head. He thought it would explode. He lied to me. That fuckwad lied to me, he said, silently fumed.
Jan rolled his way back to where he knew Elliot would be coming from and waited for the bell. Being in a chair had its advantages. You could leave almost any class early with just a simple request. The bell rang and the halls filled with kids. Jan strained to see through the crowd, suspending himself on the arms of his chair by his hands. Then he saw him and nodded for him to come. They both had English with Ms. Swineheart.
Elliot saw Jan’s smiling face and walked toward him. Jan saw something in his eyes. It wasn’t the love he saw earlier.
“Hi,” Jan said.
“Hi,” Elliot said back. “What’s next?”
“English I think, for both of us.”
“Lead the way.” Elliot said, gesturing him forward.
Jan led him down the hall aware that something was wrong. Things just didn’t feel right. Had someone said something to him about hanging with the cripple? Did he turn him off by not speaking to him on the way back? Shit, he thought. I hope I haven’t ruined it. A million thoughts raced through his mind. None of them approached the love and happiness he felt during their lunch today. He was beginning to recognize how important he was to him. Elliot touched him. Not just when he sucked him off, although that was pretty incredible too, and Jan had never felt anything like that. But Elliot washed his stump and didn’t shy away from it or him. Even his Mom never touched his stump. Maybe she thought it would hurt him, maybe he disgusted her. But she had never touched him there. Besides Elliot, only he had ever done that. Elliot was special.
He lied to me, Elliot thought as they went down the hall. He had to make some decisions. If he lied about losing his leg in soccer, then what else did he say that was a lie? What would he say next and could it be trusted? But he smiled at him and liked him. He rescued him after . . . Oh God, after what his scent did to me. I can’t love him. I can’t love him no matter what he does to me. One day he’ll turn on me, or perhaps he is planning a way to humiliate me now. He could lift the standing of the “cripple” by exposing the “fag.” Fuck, what if he told them what I did to him this morning. Pictures of Jan pointing at him across the lunch room screaming, “He sucked my cock,” or “He’s so queer that I made him cream his jeans just by touching him,” ran through his mind.
They arrived at class, Jan rolling his way to his assigned desk and pushing the chair under it aside. Elliot went up to the teacher’s desk and handed her the paper which announced his addition to her class. She pulled a seating chart out of her center desk drawer and looked it over, then pointed to a desk behind and to the right of Jan.
“Welcome to my class Elliot, this will be your seat all year. You will sit there without talking to your neighbors please. You will find that I am strict but fair. If you do your work, you will pass. Don’t do it and you will fail. If you hate English, put your head down on your desk and I won’t call on you. I don’t believe in wasting time on those who don’t appreciate it. I would prefer to help those who are inclined to get something from the class. But do the homework even if you must copy it from someone else. Do I make myself clear?” She asked.
“Abundantly,” he responded. She smiled. A student who didn’t like English would have simply said “yes” or “yes ma’am,” but this young man had more words in his vocabulary and plainly enjoyed using them. She sized him up quickly as the bell rang and he made his way to his seat. He got out a notebook and prepared himself to take notes. Jan put his head down on his arms. Elliot took some satisfaction in that for some reason and he didn’t know why. Perhaps it was because he liked English and was fairly good at it and Jan obviously hated it and was unprepared. Perhaps it was because he had the opportunity to be superior to the beautiful boy that he so loved and was now afraid of. But what ever it was, he knew he needed the edge. Periodically he glanced at Jan who stared at him with his head on his arms, hiding his gaze from the rest of the class.
Elliot’s eyes welled up as the possibilities of how he exposed himself and his darkest secrets to this boy who was going to use him. How stupid I have been, he thought to himself. And now what do I do? Do I walk away from him and cut my losses or still hang in there to find out what he has planned next. One thing is for sure. I’ll give him no more ammunition. Elliot’s face soured at the thought that this boy, this stunningly beautiful boy, this stunningly beautiful boy who smelled and tasted so good could possibly be so evil.
Elliot’s eye’s welled and Jan noticed. He sat up a little to make sure he saw correctly. Troubled, he put his head back down. He put it back down and waited. He waited for the bell. Tears, I know I saw tears. Why is he so sad? Something must have happened in gym, God! Had he been found out that quickly? He said they would. What happened? Did he bone up in front of everyone? No, couldn’t be. He didn’t even dress out, it’s his first day. I’ll knock anyone who has hurt him. Fuck.
Jan realized at that moment that he was falling in love with this boy. What ever is wrong, I’ll find a way to fix it, he vowed to himself.
The bell rang. Jan sat up and asked, “Give you a ride home?”
“No, I can walk, it’s not that far.”
“I know how far it is, I used to live there, remember? Let me give you a ride. I want to talk.”
“Because something’s bothering you. I can see it in your eyes.”
“So what if it is? What concern is it of yours?” Elliot said, not waiting for a response. He stuffed his notes in his bag and meshed into the throng of people trying to exit the room.
Jan was stunned. What did I do, he questioned himself? He replayed everything they had said, everything they had done that entire day.
“Jan?” Ms. Swineheart said, “Is there something I can do for you?”
“Uh, no ma’am. I was just waiting for the crowd to thin down a bit.” He said, as he rolled out of the classroom into the deserted hall. He must have sat there longer than he thought. He rolled slowly down the hall and out the front zig-zaging his way out to the reserved parking place. He paused to reflect again. What could he have done wrong? He pushed the button and waited for the platform to deploy. He sat there for a long time, long after the platform deployed. The security guard sat watching, waiting for him to complete the all too familiar maneuver into the van so he could go home. He was the last remaining pupil on property and it was most unusual for him to just sit there. He went forward to investigate.
“Having problems?” he asked.
Jan snapped back to reality, again unaware just how long he had sat there trying to puzzle it all out. “Oh, no, thanks. Just thinking, got lost in it for a while.”
“No problem, but I’ve been sitting there watching you for the better part of an hour and you have been sort of stuck in time. Anything you want to talk about?”
“No really, thanks, I just have to sort this one out on my own. Sorry to have kept you.” Jan rolled onto the platform and into his van and moments later, started it up and proceeded home.
“How was your first day?”
“Ok I guess, Mom.”
“Give. I can tell when something’s wrong.”
“Eh, nothing really.”
“They picking on you? If they are, I’ll step in.”
“No Mom. It hasn’t started yet.”
“Then what’s wrong? You look like you lost your best friend.”
“More like my only friend. And yeah, I guess you could say I lost him.”
“Well honey, if he came and went this fast, he wasn’t the friend you thought he was, was he?”
“No momma, I guess you are right. I just thought he was so special and he likes me too. A lot.”
“Likes? I thought you said you lost him. What is it you’re not telling me?” she asked, reaching out for him as she did anytime they were having a heart to heart talk. He would sit facing her on her lap and she would hug him as he told her of his woes. They had done it like this for years. His mother dreaded the day he was too big to sit on her lap like this. She cherished each moment and never rushed him.
Elliot laid out the entire day for his mom, she knew he was gay and they were able to talk through anything. She was his best friend too. For the longest time they only had each other and they knew that no matter what, they would have each other.
“. . . So he lied to me momma.” Elliot laid his head on his mother’s shoulder.
“Well, he certainly sounds special. I mean, anybody who can do that to you with their clothes on has something special alright. Have you talked to him about it?”
“Momma, you’re the one who always preached that you would rather I was a thief than a liar because a thief can be cured. And what about talking to him? Could I believe anything he said? No momma, this hurt enough. I got too close too fast, not that I could help it. But I’m afraid to take the risk.”
“Well, you’ll have to make up your own mind about that, but it sounds like he has been through a lot himself. If it was me, and he affected me that strongly, I wouldn’t give him up without a fight.”
“Oh, I forgot, you know what is really weird? He used to live here.”
“Here? In this trailer court?”
“In this very trailer, momma. Is that too weird or what?”
“No way! For real?”
“Honest, he even told me the toilet runs until you jiggle the handle and that you have to slam the front door really hard to get it to close.”
“Wow, that is just too weird. That’s a lot of co-incidences. Think maybe someone is trying to draw your attention to someone?” She said, looking up toward the ceiling, indicating perhaps God had a hand in it.
“That’s not all. His mom works at Walmart too.”
“Oh yes, way!” Elliot said, smiling, pressing his forehead to hers.
“What’s his Mom’s name? Maybe I know her. I mean, there are a lot of employees but maybe I know her.”
“Gosh, I never asked. Sorry.”
“That’s o.k. you can ask him tomorrow. You are going to talk to him tomorrow aren’t you?” But Elliot didn’t have the chance to answer as a gentle knock was made against the door. Elliot got up to let his mother answer the door. She opened the door and looked down to see a very small, very handsome boy sitting on the steps. She saw the van with its lift gate deployed and his wheel chair up against the steps. She knew at once, that this was the boy Elliot had just told her all about.
“Hello, you must be Jan. Elliot has told me a lot about you. Let me get him, just a moment.” She gently pulled the door shut.
Elliot was inside waving his hands and whispering, “No, I don’t want to see him.”
“Look, Elliot, he drove over here, got his wheel chair all the way to our steps and scooted up to knock. I think you owe him a listen at least.” She kissed his forehead and walked to the back of the trailer. If Jan wanted him gone, then he would have to deal with it.
Elliot exhaled and opened the door.
“What?” He said, abruptly.
“Can we talk?”
“Isn’t that what we are doing?”
“May I come in? This isn’t my idea of eye to eye conversation.”
Elliot pushed the door open further. “Sure, come on in.”
“Uh, when I lived here we had a ramp. They seem to have taken that part out. Mind giving me a hand?”
Elliot exhaled deeply and stepped out and around him and picked him up. Wrapping his arm around his waist he said, “Grab the rail, one step at a time.”
He said, “Wait a moment.” He reached in his pocket and grabbed the fob and pushed the button securing his lift and closing the van door. Elliot helped him to the chair and turned him so he faced him so he could sit down, but Jan grabbed him and kissed him on the lips. It was a long, slow, kiss. The quiet made Elliot’s mom come out to check to see if he had sent him away, but found them trying to extract each others molars. She cleared her throat and they didn’t hear her. She cleared her throat again, only louder. They broke apart. There was a brief race to see who could turn red the fastest.
Jan stammered, “I uh, I uh.” He could not even think of a possible explanation for kissing this boy that she might buy. So he didn’t try. “I, uh. I’m Jan.” He said, putting out his hand.
“Hello Jan, I’m Karen, Elliot’s mom. You can call me Karen. Do you have something that belongs to my son?” She asked smiling. Jan looked at Elliot who looked at Karen just as puzzled. “Like, his tonsils maybe?”
Jan inhaled and looked panicked as he turned a bright crimson red. Elliot blushed, “Mom! I can’t believe you said that! Oh My God. You did not. Did you? Oh geesh.” He helped Jan to sit down. Karen asked, “Can I get you something? Pepsi, Ginger Ale, water, chapstick?”
They roared again, both blushing. Elliot scooted in close to him in the big arm chair.
“Water would be just fine Ms. Glicksman.”
“That’s Karen, Jan. I feel old enough, thank you.”
She stuck her head around the corner, “You really think I’m old?”
“I mean, no ma’am, I meant, yes Ms. Karen . . .” But he was silenced by boy lips being pressed to his once again.
Karen returned with a glass of Pepsi and handed it to the two kissing boys. “Is it true that teenage boys have gills so they don’t have to breathe while they are kissing?” she asked.
They broke apart and giggled that magic boy giggle as she handed them the Pepsi.
“But, I asked for water.” he said to Karen.
“Yeah, I know, but the water here sucks and I don’t have any bottled. Besides, everyone knows boys prefer Pepsi to water anyways. Now, are you here for a snogging fest or are you here to talk?”
“To talk ma’am,” he said, getting real quiet and glancing from Elliot to his mother.
“Oh,” she said. “I have some things to uh, uh unpack! I’ll be right down the hall.”
“Elliot,” Jan said. “I need to know what happened to make you not like me. Everything was fine when you went to gym and you came back hating me. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and well, I think, I’m . . . I’m . . . you know, like you. You have grown to mean an awful lot to me in a real short amount of time. My head is spinning. Please tell me what I did wrong.”
Elliot sat up and moved around front of him. “You lied to me.”
“No, I wouldn’t. What?”
“I know how you lost your leg and it wasn’t soccer.”
“You’re right. I did lie to you. I’m sorry. Look, I was ashamed. There is no honor in losing it in a car wreck, when your drug dealing dad is so high that he rams the car into a dumpster. The rest is true, the infection and all. Look, I didn’t know you from Adam when I told you that. You can’t hold that against me. Please. Oh God, I am so messed up right now. You came into my life this morning and everything has gone haywire. Nothing is the way it has been, nothing is right anymore. You and your . . . your eyes have made me crazy. I don’t know what to do. I mean, you, you, your so, so. I love you and if that means that I am gay, then I guess I am, but I don’t want to be. Oh shit! I’m making a mess of things.” Elliot leaned in and kissed him again.
“Could you say that again? Please?”
“All of it!”
“No, just the, I Love you part.”
“Oh, that part I think I got, but what about your mom?”
“She can get her own man.” Elliot said, leaning in and kissing him some more.
“Does she know you’re . . . you know, gay?”
“Yeah, she knows everything. She knows everything we did this morning and everything that happened and why. I tell her everything, she is my best friend.”
“Oh my God, then she knows you, she knows I . . . and she knows about the finger and all?”
“Yepper, she knows everything. Relax. She won’t say anything to anyone.”
“Does your mom know about you?” Elliot asked.
“Are you kidding? I’m still finding out about me. So far, there hasn’t been anything to know!”
“I guess we ought to talk about it then, shouldn’t we?”
“Well yeah, I guess. What do you mean?”
“”Well, for opener’s, you just told this gay boy here that you loved him. What does that mean?”
“I’m not sure. How do you know if you are gay?”
“I just knew. Always. I never thought about sex with girls. When you jack off what sends you over the top?”
“As of this morning, you.”
“And before that?”
“I don’t know. Just the thought of it coming out of me. I never thought of girls or boys, I guess.”
“Have any girlfriends?”
“Does second grade count?”
“I don’t think so. Do you want to get your hand under a girl’s blouse? Does that thought make you hard?”
“No, definitely not.”
“Did you look forward to gym class because you would see other boys naked? Did that ever make you bone up?”
“Well yeah, kinda, I guess.”
“Who is the prettiest girl you know?”
“Probably Emily Pinecrest. Why?”
“Well, if you could kiss her or me right now, who would you pick?”
“Easy answer that one.” He leaned over and kissed Elliot.
“Does Emily Pinecrest make you hard when you think about her naked?”
“Don’t know, never have.”
“What about me, do I make you hard when you think about me naked?”
Jan took Elliot’s hand and placed it on his package.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said, rubbing his rock hard piece as he got nose to nose.
“You’ll have to grade this test for yourself, but if you’re not gay, don’t kiss me anymore.”
He thought for a moment and tears welled up in his eyes. “Just the thought of not being able to kiss you rips my heart out. If that’s gay then I am that, happily.”
“You passed,” he said leaning into him for a deep loving kiss. “The burning question I have is why me? You could have anyone. You could probably have all the straight guys even. You’re one of the pretty people. Why me though? I’m short my hair is bushy, I’m plain and I have Dumbo ears. So why me?”
“Well to begin with, I don’t see you the same way you do and I’m certainly not one of the quote: pretty people.”
“Still, you could have anybody. What made you decide that you loved me? Something had to turn the tables to say, hey! Take Dumbo here.”
“Stop it, you’re not Dumbo. But, you are right, something told me you were the one.”
“So you gonna tell me or keep it a secret?”
“Kiss me again and maybe I’ll tell you.”
Elliot kissed him and when they came up for oxygen he looked Elliot in the eyes. “You touched me.”
“You touched me. Remember when I drove back to school, I was really quite?”
“I told you I had some stuff to sort out?”
“Well, after our shower something was different and I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly. Then all of a sudden, it occurred to me. You touched me. You touched my stump. You washed it like it was nothing. You draped it over your shoulder when you, you know. Elliot, you are the only person to ever have touched me there since I left the hospital. Not even my mom when she used to help me shower. You are the only one who isn’t disgusted by it and doesn’t see me as some kind of a freak.” Tears flowed from his eyes as Elliot leaned in and kissed them all away.
“Jan, I love you, too.” he said as he kissed his nose. “But, we have to have an understanding. The one thing you can do to ruin this is to lie to me, to violate my trust. It’s a hurt worse than I can take. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve trusted someone who suddenly turned around and hurt me with it.”
“The next order of business then needs to be how we act at school. You can’t like me there.”
“You know exactly why not.”
“You know I don’t care about that. Let them talk all they want.”
“Look, you don’t understand. It is for my safety as well as yours.”
“I don’t get it.”
“Soon enough, they will figure me out. I expect them to. It always happens. Gym class is usually first, but the Coach is going to help me out there if he can. But when it comes out finally the verbal shit starts. They will call me things like faggot, queer, homo or fairy. They have a whole list of them. Anyone with me or near me gets painted with the same brush.”
“Names don’t bother me. Let ’em call me whatever they want. I don’t care.”
“Wait, that’s just the beginning. After that comes the harassment. A slap here, a push there. Someone knocks my books out of my arms and then they kick the papers and books way down the hall. Sometimes, someone gets a good kick in on me. From there, it escalates to being beaten up at lunch and after school.”
“I won’t let them.”
“You can’t stop them and neither can I. But my point is this. I can run, dodge or slip into a classroom and avoid much of it. You can’t run, dodge or hide and I can’t do anything to help you or it makes them worse. So, if you want to remain friends, then you have to play along with them.”
“What do you mean, ‘play along’ with them?”
“I mean, when they poke fun and call me names you have to do the same.”
“No, I can’t do that.”
“Yes you can and you have to. Right now, you are already at risk. You need to make up a story, like you didn’t know I was gay or I’m paying you to help me get caught up or you’re getting extra credit for getting me up to speed. But, as soon as they find out about me, you have to be prepared to pretend to hate me too.”
“No! I can’t do that. What is this shit? First, you tell me not to lie to you and now you tell me I have to lie daily about you! Well, that ain’t going to happen.”
“Yes it will and I don’t mind as long as when it’s just you and I, we are honest with each other. Look, I don’t like it any more than you do, but it is how it has to be.”
Jan’s eyes got large and filled with tears as his anger came to the surface. “Do you think for an instant that I could sit there and allow someone to hurt you? That I could join in with them to be with the “in” crowd. To be in with the same ones who call me names like crip or pegleg? The ones who ask me if I want to go out and play baseball because they need someone to be third base! How about the ones who tip my chair over out front of the door and call me “Matt,” or the ones who hang me by my underwear on a coat hook and laugh as they walk away telling people my new name is “Art”!
“Maybe you should stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with life. You aren’t the only one they poke fun of, you know. And if you think for one minute, that I want to sit there and listen to someone I love calling me a cripple to protect their own social standing then think again. I want someone to stand up for me and say, “For fucks sake, he’s just a boy who lost a foot. Give ‘m a freakin’ break!” Likewise, I expect to say, “Oiy! He’s just a kid with bad eye sight who is willing to love a cripple, so why not give ‘m a break?” Jan relaxed his arms and sank back into his chair.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean . . .”
“Yeah, right. I thought you were different. It’s worse than I thought. Even the fags don’t want to be seen with me. You thought I wouldn’t see through it, didn’t you. It’s alright to be against the fag as long as the fag can be against the cripple. Well, I didn’t need your pity before and I don’t need it now,” he said, getting up and hopping over to the door to leave.
“Wait! . . . Don’t go. Not like this. I was wrong. I didn’t think.”
“No you didn’t, did you. Sorry, a prerequisite of mine. I need people around me who can and do.” He opened the door and hopped out and down to his chair, slamming the door behind him. He pulled the fob out of his pocket and pushed the button deploying the lift and climbed back into his chair as it was unfolding. It was just moments later and he was gone.
Elliot sat there numb in the silence, unsure how things went south right before his eyes. He was trying to sort things out but it was all so confusing. He wasn’t sure how it got turned around. His mother came in and sat down. She heard most of it, but figured this one she better hold off on. She didn’t know what baggage this young man was hanging onto. She motioned for Elliot to come sit in her lap again and he did. Leaning his head against her shoulder, he wept softly.
“Give him some space honey, space and time. If he is meant to be yours then he will find his way back into your arms. I think you both have some things to sort out. Remember that he has a lot on his plate, too. Besides being in a chair, he now has to deal with being in love with a boy and eventually telling his parents he is gay. Add that to what you just threw at him, maybe it is more than he can deal with right now. You said it hasn’t been too very long since he was a soccer star. So he lost a lot. And he lied to you, not knowing how that would upset you later. Oh honey, that poor boy has a head full right now. Just be patient.
“Hi Karen, how are you getting settled in?” Renae asked.
“Oh, one box at a time, you know. Luckily we don’t have much.”
“How many do you have?” she asked, handing Karen a picture of how the endcap should look when they are done.
“Just one, but he is a handful.”
“Why don’t you set the end cap and I’ll set the aisle. So, how old is he?”
“Twelve, going on nineteen.” Karen said, pulling the remaining stock off the endcap and piling it into a shopping cart.
“Just wait, it only gets better. I’ve only got one and he’s fourteen, sometimes going on seven. Luckily, his sperm donor is out of the picture. That’s a complication I didn’t need. Life is tough enough. How about you? Get rid of the old man yet?” Renae said as she cut open a box and started to display the merchandise on the counter according to her pictures.
“I guess I was lucky, he did his deed and the second he found out I was pregnant, he left the state, never to be heard from again. Just as well, I think. I would probably be supporting them both if he was still here. But he gave me a really great kid. I love him to death and we have a really great relationship. He tells me everything. Some things I’d rather not hear, but he’s not shy. But at twelve, his sexcapades were a little unexpected. I mean, at twelve, I didn’t even know they could . . . you know.”
“Wow, I guess I’m lucky. Mine either doesn’t tell me, or hasn’t started that yet. But, I hope you’ve had the talk with him. Better to be a little embarrassed than to be a grandmother by accident.”
“Uh yeah, well, that’s not an issue. He’s gay.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Oh, there’s nothing to be sorry about.”
“No, that didn’t come out right, hang on. Let me try again. Oh, I’m sorry you won’t have grandkids and I’m sorry if I’m being a nosey prude. Besides, at 12 he may change yet, right? They say kids experiment about that age. I’m sure I read it somewhere.”
“Unfortunately, the folks who generally write those articles are seldom gay. It has been my experience and believe me I did my research, that they are born what they are. The experimenting only tugs and clarifies to them which they are. Unfortunately, so many either try and force themselves to be what they think they must be in order for their family and friends to continue to love them, which ends in divorce and a general life of misery, or they come out and are stranded alone in life and do what ever they have to do to survive or they end it.”
“Yep, usually with pills or a rope. I made up my mind early on that I would love him no matter what. The result is that I am not only his mom, but one of his best friends. I wouldn’t change this for anything. I just wish it was going to be easier for him at school.”
“Tell him not to wear a dress or start talking funny and maybe they’ll never know.”
“You’re not serious are you?”
“Well, I don’t know much about gay kids, but isn’t that like a girl trapped in a man’s body kind of thing?”
“I can’t say that I have ever seen that in reality, although I am sure it exists. For most, you can’t tell the difference unless you watch them close. When you walk into a room, you see the guys and watch what they look at first. You know, boobs, crotch, then face. A gay guy will look at the guy you’re with and they’ll look at his crotch before his face almost every time. You learn to pick them out. My son calls it gaydar, but I think it’s just about watching people. Like Lenny in electronics and Guy over in sporting goods. Watch them at lunch sometime. Just sit off to the side and watch where their eyes go. There is no limp wrist or anything that comes with being gay. Cops, football players, assistant managers …” She said giving a subtle nod in the direction of Mark, the assistant produce manager as he walked back into the storeroom.
Karen went on. “Some do however have some feminine qualities about them that aren’t intended. My son, for instance, has this cute little butt wiggle thing he does and he doesn’t even know he does it. And once in a while he’ll hold his hands just right, or something, and I look at him and oh, there is no disguising it. I just wish they weren’t so brutal about it at school. I mean, it’s so hard just being a kid, let alone being gay with all those new hormones to deal with. Friends, I mean real friends, are worth more than gold.”
“Wow, I had no idea. Lenny? Sweet Lenny? I mean, Guy I could believe maybe, but sweet Lenny? And (whispering) Mark! Who would have thought?”
“Don’t think sweet Lenny is any less sweet. I didn’t tell you to change your opinion of him, but rather to change your perspective. It’s not a disease or something. It’s like a few years ago, when you had a sibling who was left-handed, people would say, “Oh, that can be fixed.” It is just how some people are, there is no need to fix them, they aren’t broken.”
“I can certainly say this has been an educational morning for me. Karen, you are really something. I don’t know what I’d do if my son told me he was queer. I mean, I’m sure I wouldn’t stop loving him, but turning it to an advantage like you have with your youngster. That is really something.”
“It’s good to talk about it. I mean, how else would you know they prefer the term gay over queer. It keeps it all in prospective for me. And who knows, maybe you can help ease some kid’s pain someday.”
“You’ve given me a lot to think about. I have two other sections to do yet, do you mind if I move on and leave this bit for you to finish up?”
“Sure, that’ll put me about right for my lunch. Thanks, it was fun working with you. It made it go so much faster.”
“Hey, we have to stick together if we want to survive this place.”
“First up, Global Studies with Mr. Harcourt. He’s not so bad. But the material leaves a lot to be desired,” Jan moaned as he wheeled his way from his locker.
“Come on, don’t you like to learn what life is like somewhere else? Don’t you want to go see some of those places?”
“Why, I can be gawked at just fine here, thanks.”
“You don’t plan on being in that thing your whole life do ya?”
Jan stopped dead and spun around in his chair, “Oh no, just as soon as my new foot grows I’m going skiing! Heeeellooooo? Gone! Nothing to stand on. Cloning isn’t an option!”
“So what. You’ve got your millions, get a fake one.”
“Right, have you seen those? I look like a mutant now, imagine hanging an oversized kitchen utensil on it.”
“Oh yes, I can see what you mean, it might steal the spotlight off the spinners on your pity me cart!” Elliot opened the door and walked in, leaving Jan in the hall.
Elliot lit the fuse and Jan was on fire with it and wasn’t about to let it go that easily as he grabbed the door handle and tried to yank it open, only to have his hand slip off and the door thumped un-poetically shut again. He grabbed it again and this time yanked it open and rolled over to Elliot.
“That’s easy for you to say, you’ve got two perfectly good feet!”
“Oh, yeah, my life’s easy, you’re right.” Elliot said, shaking his head exaggeratedly and obviously patronizing. This screwed Jan into the ceiling.
“What would YOU know about it?”
“I know that in China you would have been left to die, figuring your life would be better off. Here you have the chance to walk again and you’re too proud to try it. I’ll bet your afraid to fail aren’t you. You’ve been the best at everything and you’re afraid you won’t be up to snuff. HA! You’re afraid to be second best aren’t ya?”
Jan’s eyes welled up.
“Too bad you lost your nerve with your foot. People like me can’t kick a ball straight if I had as many perfect legs as a centipede. Then a star like you get’s a hang nail and gives up.”
“A hang nail! You call this a little hang nail? Stuff it! You know, you’re an ass.”
Elliot leaned over and whispered, “And I guess you really are a cripple, but it has nothing to do with your foot.”
Jan threw his books on the floor and rolled out of the room as the bell rang. Elliot looked around, the entire room had witnessed his tirade, including Mr. Harcourt.
He slumped down behind his desk and then he reached down and picked up Jan’s books. He felt awful. And he was stuck there, the bell had rung. Elliot got up and walked up to Mr. Harcourt and handed him his admittance form.
“Welcome Mr. Glickman, I’m sure you will have a lot to add to this class. Seems you already know how to charm your way into people’s hearts. I assume you know Mr. Teagle well?”
“Um, not terribly well sir and I’m afraid I got a little over zealous this morning. It’s just that he has so much potential and he hides behind that chair. I didn’t see it at first, but then it became all too clear. I’m worried about him, sir. Would it be alright, do you think sir, if I got a pass to the restroom? I need to see if he’s alright.”
Mr. Harcourt opened his drawer and tore off a blue page and scribbled on it. “Try not to take too long, but do what you have to do to make this right between you. You look like someone that can push him. Just maybe not so hard, or so fast, huh?”
“Thanks so much Mr. Harcourt. I’ll be right back.” Elliot left the room, leaving his books at his desk. He looked for the closest bathroom and headed towards it. He stopped and listened. He could hear a boy sobbing. He quietly pushed the door open and approached the handicapped stall. He opened the door. “I’m sorry,” he said, running his hands over his shoulders and down his chest. He kissed him gently on the cheek.
“You can’t take back the words once they’re said.”
“No you can’t, and I wouldn’t. I’m sorry the words I said hurt you. I’m not sorry I said them. You are so capable and have so much ability. And you hide behind this little thing.” He said, touching his chair. “You could play soccer better on crutches than I can with these two spazzed feet. Lord knows I try and I am going to try again because I won’t let it beat me. Fuck, I work so hard at it and to you, it comes so easily. I’d be happy to just be able to run down the field without someone calling me a pansy or a faggot. When I asked if you wanted to travel and see those places, the words you said to me were defeatist words. You spoke like your life was going to be right here in this filthy little chair for the rest of your life.
“I want to live. I want to go to wild places, I want to see things, ride an elephant, swim with dolphins. I’m gonna do that! But I want to do them with you.” He leaned in and kissed him. “Why not come with me and see how silly you can look. Let them laugh and point. I’ll hold your hand and love you in front of them, whoever they are. Think about it, please. I didn’t say those things to hurt you. No, I could never hurt you. But, I won’t allow you to wallow in your disadvantage either. If I did, then how could I say I loved you?”
“Dude you’re weird, ya know that?”
“Yeah, I’ve been told. I walk funny, too.”
“Let me think about it. Those are your dreams. I haven’t thought about mine for a while. Give me a bit, alright?”
“Sure, I gotta get back in there. You coming?”
“Maybe in a bit, maybe I’ll skip it today. I don’t know. You gave me a lot to think about.”
“You gonna be alright? You want me to stay?”
“How about we do lunch at my place today?”
“You’re on. Hey, I got your books if you don’t make it back. No worries.”
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