Dancing on a Star Chapter 32
I still can’t believe that Mom and I talked earlier. We even talked about me having a boyfriend, and she seemed to be okay with it. I guess she did need time to adjust to me being gay. I hope she doesn’t go in the opposite direction and try to find me a boyfriend. Now, that would be funny.
I went into the family room and worked on my homework. I figured it might be a couple of hours until Jimmy showed up at the door. With basketball practice, and Tracy helping the team with their dance moves, I would probably not get to see them as often. Lyle asked if he could stop by after school, but I don’t know if he will.
I was reading a short story for literature when the doorbell rang. I looked at the clock. It was too early for basketball practice to be over. Mom answered the door, and I could hear a boy’s voice, but I didn’t recognize him. Soon, Mom entered with Murray trailing behind.
She asked, “Do you feel like company?” My face reddened when she grinned and winked. I’m glad Murray didn’t see her.
“Yes, Mom,” I responded. She smiled and left the room. Murray stood looking down at me.
“How are you, Jack?” he asked.
“I’m okay,” I said as I cleared away my homework assignments from the bed so he could sit beside me. I held up my literature book. “I’m trying the read The Mask of the Red Death.”
He sat down, laughed and said, “Spoiler alert. They all die in the end.”
“Thanks,” I giggled as I closed the book. “I guess I can stop reading it now.” We sat a few minutes in silence. I assumed he stopped by for a reason, but he seemed nervous. He kept twiddling his thumbs like my father does sometimes when he’s deep in thought.
Finally, I broke the silence. “What brings you here?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno. I thought I’d stop by and see how you are.”
I laughed and responded, “You just saw me a couple of hours ago at school.” I sat and stared at him. “Is something bothering you?”
He again shrugged his shoulders and replied, “I dunno.”
I giggled and said, “At least we’re getting somewhere.”
He sat up and looked at me. “How well do you know Jeff?”
I was surprised by his question. By the tone of his voice, it seemed like he might be interested in him. “Why do you ask?”
“I dunno,” he said again. “I was just wondering, is all.”
Suddenly, I realized where this was heading. Murray liked Jeff! I don’t think he had heard that Jeff was my boyfriend, or he wouldn’t be asking. Besides, after our conversation this afternoon, I’m not sure Jeff was anymore.
I know it is wrong, but I thought I saw my way out of the situation with Jeff, and we could still be friends. I could hook him up with Murray! Murray was a good-looking guy. Jeff might even like the idea.
“He’s a pretty nice guy,” I said. “He’s had a tough time at school, so he’s careful who he talks to.”
Murray’s face reddened as he asked, “Do you think he’d talk to me?”
Murray became extremely nervous. “I…I…was just wondering if he might want to go out with me sometime.”
I started giggling. “You’re cute when you get nervous.” His face reddened even more.
He asked, “So what do you think? He’s your friend. Do you know what kind of guys he likes?”
“Those with a heartbeat,” I laughed. When I finished laughing, I said, “I can’t speak for him, but I think he might like the idea. The only way you’ll know is if you ask.”
His face reddened, “I was hoping you would do it for me.”
“I dunno,” he replied. “I’m just not used to this. Emily says I should, but I’m not sure. What if he says no?”
“He won’t,” I assured him. “I’ll tell you what.” He nodded his head. “He may come by later. I’ll kind of mention that you like him. Okay?”
He smiled and responded, “Okay. Thanks, Jack.” He got off the bed and looked down. “Let me know what he says, okay?”
“Yeah, sure,” I responded. “See you tomorrow at school.” He nodded and left.
A few minutes later, my mother entered the room. “Who was that? He’s really cute.”
“Mom!” I shrieked. “Stop it! And no, to what you’re thinking.” She laughed and left the room.
I was working on a homework assignment when someone knocked on the door. My mother answered the door, and then Jeff entered the room. My mother looked in and gave me a puzzled look before leaving.
Jeff approached and looked down. In an angry voice he asked, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Why did you talk to me like that at school?” I looked over to see my mother peek into the room.
“Shut up, Jeff,” I snapped. “My mother can hear you!”
He looked over at the door and responded, “I don’t care. Let her hear.”
I rose from the sofa, grabbed my crutches and headed toward the door. Jeff followed behind me. I wanted to leave so my mother couldn’t hear our conversation. I knew we would probably get into a very heated argument.
“Where are you going?” Jeff asked as I hobbled down the sidewalk.
I turned and replied angrily. “Trying to get rid of you. Why don’t you just go on home.”
He grabbed my arm to stop me. My first instinct was to raise my crutch and hit him with it. Instead, I continued down the sidewalk. He pleaded, “Talk to me, Jack! What is wrong with you?”
“You’re an asshole,” I said angrily. “That’s what’s wrong with me.”
“Why? What did I do wrong?”
I looked around at the neighboring homes. I was afraid someone would be watching us arguing on the street and call the police. I asked, “Are your parents home?” He shook his head and told me they were still at work. “Good. Let’s go there and talk.” I trailed behind as we headed to his house.
He wanted me to come inside, but I thought it would be best if we sat on the porch stoop. That way I could leave quickly if things got out of hand. He sat beside me and tried to grab my hand. I pulled it away.
“What’s wrong, Jack? I thought we were boyfriends?” he asked sadly.
“No,” I replied sarcastically. “I’m a boyfriend when no one else is around.”
“What’s that mean?”
I looked him directly in the eyes and replied, “It’s just not going to work. I told you we were too young for this.”
Tears started falling down his cheeks. “But I love you, Jack.” He tried to hug me, but I held up my arms to prevent him.
Tears started to form in my eyes. “I know you think you do, Jeff. But it takes more than just words.”
“What’s that mean?”
“I mean if we are going to be boyfriends, then we have to be able to commit completely to each other.” Hesitantly, I reached out and gripped his hand. “Neither of us are really ready for that right now.”
He replied tearfully, “I am. I promise.”
“What about Tracy and Jimmy?” I asked.
“What about them?”
I replied, “Can you honestly say that you won’t have sex with them anymore?” When he looked away, I knew I had won my argument. “You can’t say it, can you?” He looked tearfully at me and shook his head.
“And I can’t promise you that I can’t have sex with someone else.” He hung his head and started crying. “Jeff,” I said tearfully as I squeezed his hand tighter. “We’re just not ready for this boyfriend thing. I don’t want us to keep fighting. I care to much for you to keep doing that.”
He looked tearfully at me and asked, “But you don’t love me?”
“Yes,” I assured him. “I do love you. I just don’t think I love you enough. Do you understand?”
He nodded and replied, “I think so.”
He wiped his eyes and asked, “What about still being friends with benefits?”
I chuckled and replied, “Sure.”
He grinned evilly and asked, “What about being friends with benefits now? My parents aren’t home.”
“That’s not a good idea,” I explained. “I think we need to think about this for a few days.”
He frowned and agreed, “You’re probably right.”
“Besides,” I informed him. “I have something to tell you.” He gave me a puzzled look. “You know Murray, right?”
He smiled and replied, “Everyone knows Murray. He’s one of the hottest guys in our class.”
“You gotta promise me that you won’t say anything.”
“Murray wants to date you.”
Jeff shrieked, “What! Are you serious?” I explained to him about Murray’s visit and how he had asked me if Jeff would go out on a date with him.
“Are you shitting me? Murray Reynolds wants to go on a date with me?”
I giggled and replied, “Well, that is if you’re not my boyfriend anymore.”
His face saddened. “You won’t be mad?”
“No,” I replied as I gave him a hug. “I won’t be mad.” As funny as it seemed, we spent the next fifteen minutes talking about him and Murray. When we left my house, I was expecting to have a horrible argument. It ended up with us talking about him dating another boy. I guess it just reinforced that we really weren’t ready for a committed relationship. I was just glad that Jeff and I were still going to be friends. However, we still had to work out the friends with benefits thing.
After dinner I was sitting on the porch. Tracy come home earlier, and I thought he would stop by and see me. However, he later got in the car with his mother and they drove away. I guess he was going to rehearsal.
I noticed Jimmy and Lyle walking toward the house. Jimmy was talking animatedly, and Lyle was laughing at something he said. “Hey, Dirtwad,” greeted Jimmy with a laugh.
I ignored him and spoke to Lyle. “You know you’re judged by the company you keep, don’t you?”
Jimmy shot back, “Then I guess he keeps good company.”
I roared with laughter when Lyle said, “Don’t bet on it.” Jimmy sat on my right and Lyle sat down on my left. Jimmy asked me how everything was going.
“Okay, I guess,” I responded. “How was practice?”
“It’s going great,” answered Lyle. “We’re starting to come together as a team. Usually that doesn’t happen until about halfway through the season. I think what Tracy is teaching us is beginning to play off.”
“We’ll know in a couple of weeks when the season starts,” remarked Jimmy. We spent the next half hour just chatting. Most of it was about school. Jimmy tried to talk about a couple of boys, but when Lyle and I didn’t seem interested he stopped.
“I guess I better head home,” he said as he stood and stretched. “I’ll leave you two love birds alone. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” We laughed as he headed off down the sidewalk.
We sat uncomfortably for several minutes without speaking. Finally, I asked Lyle if he would like to go inside and get something to drink. “Yeah, sure,” he answered timidly.
Lyle held me around the waist as I hobbled into the house. I was getting around much better, but I didn’t want to complain. His arm around me felt good. My mother turned when we entered the kitchen. She took one look at Lyle’s embrace and looked into my face. I know I was blushing brightly. She gave us a puzzled look, and I asked her if we had any soda in the refrigerator.
“Sit down, Boys,” she said as she motioned for us to sit at the counter. She grabbed two Pepsis and placed them in front of us. She then pulled out a big bag of potato chips and poured them into a bowl. She poured a cup of coffee and sat down across from us. She looked at Lyle and asked who he is because she had never seen him at the house before.
“I’m Lyle Landers, Mrs. Craft,” he answered politely.
She responded, “Please, Dear, call me Helen.” I was astounded. Except for Jimmy, she had never asked any of my other friends to call her by her first name. Yet she asked Lyle as soon as she met him.
“Yes, Ma’am,” he replied as he looked over at me. She began asking me how school had gone, and if the boy who had shoved me yesterday had given me any more trouble. I told her that he had been suspended for ten days.
“Did you see what happened?” she asked Lyle.
He replied, “Yes, Ma’am. I protected Jack.” He looked over at me and smiled.
My mother watched the exchange and asked, “How did you protect Jack?”
“I…um…kinda got in a fight with Clayton.”
“My husband said that Jimmy and another boy did some serious damage to the boy who hit Jack. Were you that boy?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” replied Lyle as he again glanced at me. My mother sat back and smiled. She rose and said that she had to begin dinner, and she asked if we could go into the family room. She grinned when she said that she wouldn’t disturb us.
“Mom!” I said excitedly. “Stop it!” She laughed as she turned and opened the refrigerator door.
It was strange to see how she had changed in just a week. Before, she hated me and didn’t want me as a son. Now, it was as if she was playing matchmaker. I guess Lyle had made a good impression on her. However, in a way it seemed unfair. She immediately didn’t like Tracy and Jeff. I think it was because she saw them as effeminate. Lyle didn’t act that way. Unless you knew he was gay, you wouldn’t probably not expect him to be. He appears like the boy next door type. I began to wonder if she was encouraging me to date Lyle so she wouldn’t have to explain to others why I was hanging with a gay boy like Tracy or Jeff.
“What was that all about?” Lyle asked as we sat on the sofa. He pressed his body next to mine and our legs rubbed together. Any other time, I would look at the door to see if my mother was watching and quickly move away. With Lyle, I didn’t feel I had to do that.
I replied, “I think my Mom likes you.”
He gave me a surprised look and asked, “Does she know you’re gay?”
I laughed and said, “Yes, but it has taken a while.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“Long story,” I responded. “Maybe another time.”
“Okay,” he answered. I turned on the television and we watched a rerun of LA Law. A couple of times he brushed his hand against mine, but he would look at the door to make sure no one walked in.
He spoke nervously, “Can I ask you a question?” I gave him a puzzled look and told him he could ask me anything. It surprised me when he asked, “Can we go out sometime?”
“You mean like on a date?”
His face blushed a bright red. I couldn’t help but laugh at how cute he appeared. “What’s so funny?” he asked.
“You’re cute when you get all nervous?”
He gave me a serious look. “You think I’m cute?”
I grinned and said, “Yes. I think you’re cute.”
He blushed and replied, “I think you’re cute too.”
“And to answer your question,” I replied. “Yes.”
“Yes,” I said. “I would like to go out on a date with you.”
“Cool,” he replied. I reached down and held his hand as we watched the show.
Lyle rested his head on my shoulder, and it felt comfortable. I never felt like this with Jimmy, Jeff or Tracy. If they had done it, we probably would have ended up naked on the floor and sucking each other. With Lyle, it was different. I think it would have broken the mood if we did try to do something.
He looked up into my face and asked, “A penny for your thoughts?”
I smiled and kissed him on his cheek. “I don’t know,” I replied. “I’m feeling kind of good.”
“Me too,” he grinned as he kissed me on my cheek. He sighed deeply and rested his head again on my shoulder.
We jumped apart when the front door opened. I could hear my father’s voice in the kitchen talking to my mother. A few minutes later, he entered the family room. He stopped suddenly when he saw Lyle sitting beside me.
“Your mother said you had company,” he said. “I thought it was Jimmy.”
“No, Dad,” I replied. “This is Lyle Landers. He’s in my class.”
My father reached out and shook Lyle’s hand. “Lyle Landers?” he asked. “You Ken Lander’s son?”
Lyle responded, “Yes, Sir.”
My father started laughing and said, “Well I’ll be damned. Ken Lander’s boy.” He again started laughing. “Your father is one of my attorneys.”
“He is?” Lyle asked in amazement.
“He’s also a good friend,” my father added. “We play golf on Saturday mornings.”
Lyle’s face reddened as he asked, “You’re Jerry?”
Dad gave him a puzzled look. “Yes. Has your father mentioned me?”
“Uhh,” stammered Lyle. “I’ve heard him talk about you.”
A mischievous grin appeared on Dad’s face as he asked, “What has he said.”
Lyle tried to avoid the question, but Dad kept insisting that he tell him. Finally, he admitted that his father says that Dad sometimes changes his score in the middle of a game.
“What?” laughed my father. “Ken’s the one we have to watch out for.” Dad sat down beside Lyle and they started talking. He asked Lyle if he played sports, and he seemed interested that he played basketball. When he asked Lyle how the team looked this year, Lyle explained how Tracy was helping them learn ballet.
“Are you serious?” asked my father excitedly. He looked over at me. “Did you know about this, Jack?” I nodded my head.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” responded my father. “A boys’ basketball team learning ballet.”
Lyle asked worriedly, “You don’t think it’s wrong, do you?”
“Hell, no,” replied my father. “I’ve heard of the college teams sometimes doing things like that, I just didn’t think high school boys would do it.”
I said, “They’re really getting good, Dad. I think they are going to surprise a lot of teams this year.”
“No doubt,” laughed my father. “I’ve seen Tracy practice. If they add some of his moves on them, they won’t know what hit them.”
“That’s what we’re hoping, Sir,” replied Lyle.
My father rose and patted Lyle on his leg. “You’re welcome by here anytime, Lyle.” He looked over at me and winked. “We hope to see more of you.”
“Dad!” I said excitedly. “You’re worse than Mom.” He left the room laughing. A minute later I could hear them talking in the kitchen. I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but I did hear Lyle’s name mentioned a few times.
Lyle looked at the time on his phone. “I better be going,” he announced. “Mom will be expecting me home for dinner soon.”
“Okay,” I smiled. We stared into each other’s eyes. I know he was thinking the same thing as me. Should we kiss goodbye?
“Well,” he sighed. “I guess I better go.”
“Okay,” I replied hesitantly. When he started to stand, I grabbed his arm and pulled him back onto the seat.
“What?” He asked, “What do…” I leaned in and kissed him on his lips. He pulled away with a surprised look on his face. I panicked thinking I had made a mistake. Then he smiled, leaned forward and kissed me.