“Well? I’m waiting.” Mr. Williams sat with his elbows on the table staring intently at the twins. They gave each other a side glance and then hung their heads.
“Your father and I want to know why you two boys were fighting last night,” Mrs. Williams added worriedly. “It’s not like you boys not to get along.”
Devin looked over again at Kevin, and then he cleared his throat before speaking. Kevin gave him an anxious look. His body tensed when Devin started to speak.
“Well, Dad,” he mumbled. “Kevin won’t play basketball.” Kevin let out a muted sigh. Devin was covering for him. He wasn’t going to tell his father what he suspected, at least not yet.
“You hit your brother because he said he wouldn’t play ball?” Mr. Williams gave Devin an angry look. “That is no reason to fight. You should know better.”
Devin looked over pleadingly at Kevin. “But he hit me first.” Kevin dropped his head and tried not to smile.
“Is this true, Kevin?” Kevin looked quickly at Devin before answering. “Yes, Sir.” He saw Devin’s sigh of relief. If Devin could cover for him, it was the least he could do for his brother.
“He called me a retard,” Kevin replied. “I’ve told him to stop calling me that.”
“Devin,” scolded Mrs. Williams. “You’ve been told a hundred times not to use that word. It’s very rude and disrespectful.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Devin answered. Kevin could hardly contain his laughter. He had never seen Devin act so innocently.
“You still have to be punished for fighting,” admonished their father.
“But I didn’t start it,” whined Devin. He looked over at Kevin. Their father’s punishment usually meant the loss of use of their cell phones and computer. Devin had recently been spending a lot of time at the computer chatting with Ashley. He was afraid she’d be angry if he couldn’t have any contact with her except at school.
“Kevin may have thrown the first punch,” his father said, “but you calling your brother out of his name precipitated the fight.”
“But, Dad,” whined Devin.
“No buts,” warned his father. “You will lose...”
Devin looked angrily at Kevin. “You don’t understand, Dad,” he shouted. “Kevin’s a...”
Kevin’s eyes narrowed when he realized what his brother was getting ready to say. For a while he thought his brother was covering for him, but now he knew that to save himself from punishment, he was willing to disclose what he suspected.
“Devin didn‘t do nothing,” Kevin interrupted. “The fight was all my fault.” He watched as Devin smirked.
Their father stared intently at the twins. He knew something strange was going on between the two of them, but it wasn’t the time or place to deal with it. Whatever it was, the boys would have to work it out on their own.
He looked at Devin. “You’re excused.” Devin pushed himself away from the table. He looked down and gave a snide glance at this brother before leaving the room.
Mr. Williams sat back and stared at Kevin. He had watched the change in both boys over the past few months. It concerned him that they were pulling apart from one another. He figured that they were growing older and trying to adopt separate personalities. They had for over sixteen years been close, and it was hard to identify the two apart. However, it now troubled him that they seemed to exhibit an animosity for one another. Yesterday’s fight indicated that the rift between them had widened.
“Want to tell me the real reason?” Kevin dropped his head. He had hoped that his father would announce his punishment and let him leave. He didn’t feel like discussing it any longer. Devin had already come close, and further questioning could reveal the truth.
Kevin looked up at his father. “He called me a retard, so I hit him.” He looked away quickly when his father gazed intently at him. He knew the look. He was trying to read him, and in his vulnerable situation, he was afraid.
“Just because someone calls you a name,” said his mother sympathetically, “doesn’t mean you should hit them.”
“I know, Mom.” Kevin looked at his mother and smiled slightly. “I’ll remember that the next time.” He looked over when his father started laughing.
“You boys sure know how to pour it on,” he laughed. “The next time, I’m bringing a shovel with me. We have enough manure around here to cover the landscape for several years.”
Kevin tried to keep a straight face, but soon found himself laughing as hard as his father. His laughter stopped when his father leaned in towards him.
“Now would you like to tell me the truth?”
Kevin dropped his head. “No, Sir.” There was a long period of silence. Without looking up, he could tell his father was studying him.
“You may go,” he said abruptly.
“What?” Kevin’s head shot up. His father was dismissing him without giving him a punishment. “I can just leave?”
“Isn’t that what I just said?” He replied sharply as he grabbed the newspaper on the table, opened it up and started reading. Kevin stood and waited for his father to speak. Mrs. Williams looked worriedly at him and then motioned for him to leave. Reluctantly, he left the kitchen. He was confused why his father had stopped talking. It was uncharacteristic of him to not mete out punishment quickly when he or Devin had done something wrong. In fact, he didn’t even mention that he was going to punish him.
He headed back to the guest bedroom. Earlier in the morning, he had crept in while Devin was asleep and removed most of the clothing he wore to school. He refused to share a room with Devin as long as he was acting hateful toward him. For a brief period at the table, he thought that Devin was changing. However, when he almost told his parents his suspicions, then Kevin knew they could never be close again.
In fact, the more he thought about it, the more resentment he felt for Devin. He couldn’t understand why he was reacting the way he was. Why was Devin so disgusted by the possibility of him being gay? If anyone should be supportive, it should have been his own brother; but he wasn’t. So far he hadn’t even been willing to discuss it.
As he passed Devin’s room, the door opened slightly. Devin peered angrily at him before slamming the door shut. Kevin walked to his room and began dressing for school. Fifteen minutes later, he heard Devin leave the house and watched as he got into Paul’s car.
He knew it was going to be another long day.
Cameron was waiting impatiently for Kevin to arrive in geometry class. His eyes brightened when Kevin walked through the door. He blushed when he was rewarded with a smile. Cameron turned and giggled when Kevin sat down.
“Hey,” he smiled broadly. When he noticed the student sitting next to Kevin watching them, he turned back around.
“What’s wrong?” Kevin asked. He was confused by Cameron’s sudden action.
“I’ll tell you later,” he whispered. “Not right now.”
“Did I do something wrong?” Kevin asked worriedly. Cameron turned and faced him. He glanced over at the girl to see if she was still watching them, but she was talking to another student.
“We need to be more careful,” cautioned Cameron.
“I’ll tell you later,” replied Cameron.
“You already said that,” giggled Kevin. He stared intently into Cameron’s eyes.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” Cameron replied as he turned back in his seat. Again, Kevin stared at the back of his blonde hair and wondered what was happening.
The boys didn’t get a chance to speak during class. Mr. Shepard always gave a test on Fridays. He defended it by saying it was the best way to evaluate what the students had learned during the week; however, they knew it was because he didn’t want to teach on Fridays.
“That was hard,” Kevin remarked as he stood when the bell rang. He flung his book bag over his shoulder. “I think I may have failed it.”
“How could you fail it?” Cameron asked. “We’ve been studying hard all week. You know the material.”
“It’s all your fault.”
“What? My fault?”
“Yeah,” Kevin insisted. “If you hadn’t been so weird before the test, then I think I could have paid more attention to the problems.”
“That’s just stupid,” Cameron huffed as he headed for the door. Kevin grabbed him by the arm and stopped him.
“Then tell me what’s wrong.” Cameron looked down at Kevin’s hand holding his arm gently.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” he said as he moved his arm away. “We’ve got to be more careful at school. I can’t go through it again.” He walked out the door and headed down the hall to his next class. Kevin almost had to run to keep up with him.
“What are you talking about?” he asked. “Go through what again?”
Cameron stopped suddenly and faced Kevin. Tears welled up in his eyes when he responded, “Gay bashing.”
“What?” Kevin asked worriedly. He grabbed Cameron’s arm again. “When?”
“I can’t talk about it now,” Cameron said as he pulled himself away. “We’ll talk about it after school, okay?” He then turned and disappeared down the hall.
Devin and Ashley emerged from under the bleachers. Their clothes were still disheveled as they walked toward the school. Ashley took Devin’s hand and held it.
They heard the bell ringing in the distance. “Damn,” exclaimed Devin. “This is the third class we’ve missed this week. My folks are going to find out I’m cutting classes.”
“But it’s been worth it,” cooed Ashley as she gripped his hand tighter. “Hasn’t it?”
“Yeah, Baby,” replied Devin. He stopped and kissed her. She pulled away and looked worriedly at him.
“Are you sure we’re being safe?” she asked. “This is the second time you didn’t use a condom.”
“I told you,” Devin assured her. “If I pull out before I cum, you can’t get pregnant.”
“Are you sure? Sherri said that’s not true.”
Devin exclaimed, “You told Sherri we’re having sex!”
“Well, not exactly,” replied Ashley timidly. “I did one of those suppose questions. She guessed the rest.”
“Well, you know Sherri,” replied Devin. “She’s the school gossip. Everyone will know we’re having sex.”
“I don’t care,” Ashley stood on her tiptoes and kissed Devin. “We’re in love, so let them talk.”
“But we’re only sixteen,” Devin replied. “We could get into some serious trouble if our parents find out.” Ashley’s smile faded to a worried look.
“I never thought about Daddy finding out,” she said worriedly.
“He’ll cut my balls off.” Devin reached down and grabbed his crotch.
“He’d do even worse to me. I’d probably end up in a convent somewhere.”
Ashley took Devin’s hand and they walked into the building. Students were scurrying to their classes. “I guess we should be more careful then,” whispered Ashley.
Just then three girls walked by and started giggling when they saw the two holding hands. They started whispering as they past them.
“I think it’s too late,” remarked Devin. “The Sherri Hotline has already told the entire school.”
“I’ll kill her,” hissed Ashley as Devin escorted her to class.
“Williams!” Coach Alston motioned for Devin to join him on the sidelines. Practice hadn’t officially started, but he was getting some of the starters in shape for the season. Many of the members participated in baseball and track in the spring, but even a few months off during the summer could cause their youthful bodies to be out of shape.
Devin ran over to the coach. “What?” Coach Alston looked angrily down at the sweating teen.
“Can you tell me when the word team had an I in it?”
“It doesn’t,” replied Devin.
“Then why are you hogging the ball?” Coach Alston picked a ball off the floor and tossed it to Devin. He caught it and dribbled it on the floor.
“I’m not hogging the ball,” insisted Devin.
“Yes, you are.” The coach picked up another ball and tossed it to Devin. He dropped the ball he was dribbling to catch the one approaching him. He looked at the coach with a puzzled look.
“You want to be a ball hog,” exclaimed Coach Alston as he picked up another ball and tossed it to Devin. Devin didn’t drop the ball in his hand fast enough, and the ball slammed into his chest. “Here, take all the balls.”
“I’m not hogging the ball!” The other players on the floor stopped to watch the exchange. Stanley was standing beside Kevin as the coach angrily tossed balls at his brother.
“Williams!” shouted the coach as he pointed to Kevin. “Get over here.” Kevin looked at Stanley and then trotted over to stand beside Coach Alston.
“Toss the ball to your brother.” He looked angrily at Devin as he tossed another basketball quickly at him. Devin caught it and dribbled it as he stared defiantly at the coach.
“Toss it to him!” The coach shouted. “We’ve been practicing for over forty minutes, and not once have you passed him the ball.”
Devin threw the ball down angrily on the gym floor. It bounced once before hitting Kevin in the chest. “Why is he on the team anyway?” Devin shouted angrily. “He said he didn’t want to play this year.”
Coach Alston’s face flushed with anger. “Go get dressed, Williams. Get off my basketball court.”
“What?” Devin’s eyes widened. “You’re kicking me off the team?” He looked angrily at his twin. “You’re going to let him play over me?”
Coach Alston took a deep breath. “You have five seconds to get out of my face or I’m going to come over there and remove you myself.”
“Fuck it!” Devin shouted as he stormed away. He gave Kevin an angry glance as he passed. Paul ran over and walked beside Devin as he approached the gym door.
“Glenn!” Coach Alston shouted at Paul. “Get your butt back here if you intend to play for me this year.” Paul stopped, looked at Devin and then back at the coach. Devin exited the gym. Seconds later, Paul turned and left.
The coach looked around the gym at the six boys who were standing silently staring at him. “Team meeting!” shouted Coach Alston. “Come sit on the bench.”
The boys cautiously approached and quietly took a seat. Kevin sat beside Stanley. The coach approached and stood before them.
“All right, Men,” he began. “We are a team. The only way we win is if we play as a team. I will not have any member of my team disrespect me or another teammate. I don’t know what goes on off the court, but when you pick up that basketball and play for the Western High Dragons, you put aside any problems you have and give the team 110%. Anyone who can’t do that doesn’t play for me.”
He crossed his arms and stared at each of the boys before him. “If any of you feel that you can’t do that, then walk out now.” He paused a minute and waited to see if any of the boys got up and left. When no one did, he continued.
“If you have any problems with me or another teammate, then come see me.” He paced back and forth before the boys and looked into their faces. “And if I hear any of you call another teammate out of his name, then you might as well head for the dressing room. Do I make myself clear?” He studied the boys as they each nodded their heads.
“All right then, Men,” he turned and headed across the floor. “Be here tomorrow. Remember, ten minutes after the last bell. No excuses.” The boys sat quietly as he disappeared into his office.
Slowly, they arose from their seats and headed toward the dressing room. Stanley and Kevin remained seated in the bleacher.
“Damn,” whistled Stanley. “That was intense. What was Devin’s problem anyway? I’ve never seen him act like that before.”
“I told you he hates me,” Kevin sadly responded. “He can’t even stand me being on the team with him.”
“None of this is making any sense,” Stanley replied. “Why is he reacting like this just because he thinks you’re gay? You’re his brother, for God’s sake.”
“Maybe he’s afraid other people will think he’s gay if they find out I am,” suggested Kevin.
“I doubt that,” laughed Stanley. “Everyone in school knows he’s fucking Ashley.”
Kevin’s eyes widened. “What?”
“You didn’t know?” Stanley looked worriedly at Kevin. “It’s all over school. Sherri’s been telling everyone for the past several days.”
“When?” Kevin asked. “He comes home after practice and then goes to his room and talks to her on the phone all night.”
“Rumor has it they’re having sex under the bleachers during class.”
“Are you shitting me?” Kevin shouted. “My dad will kill him if he finds out!”
“I know,” he replied. “I’ve tried to talk to him, but you know how it is when a guy gets his first girlfriend.”
Kevin looked over and raised his eyebrow. Stanley started laughing. “Well, maybe you don’t. But when you get your first boyfriend, you’ll know.”
Kevin’s face reddened. Stanley started laughing. “You have a boyfriend, don’t you?” He laughed harder when Kevin turned a bright red.
“Who?” he pleaded. “You’ve just got to tell me. I swear I won’t tell anyone.”
Kevin paused a minute before responding. He wasn’t sure if Cameron would want him telling anyone that they were going together.
“Please,” begged Stanley. “Tell me.”
Kevin started smiling. “All right, but you have to swear you won’t tell a soul.”
Stanley crossed his heart. “I swear it.”
“Isn’t he that blonde kid you’re hanging around with a lot? He’s a new student isn’t he?”
“Yeah,” smiled Kevin. “I think he likes me.”
“Cool,” Stanley returned the smile. “He’s really cute.”
Kevin leaned back on the bleacher and roared with laughter when he watched the astonished look on Stanley’s face.
“And what would you know about another boy being cute?” He grabbed his sides and laughed when Stanley began to stammer.
“I didn’t mean it that way,” he insisted. “I just meant...”
Kevin threw his arm around Stanley’s shoulder. “It’s okay, Stan, my man. Just don’t try to steal my boyfriend from me. Find your own.”
“But, but…” stammered Stanley.
Kevin started rolling on the bleacher. “Now you want his butt.” He was wiping tears from his eyes.
Stanley sat up and looked seriously at Kevin. “What if it’s your butt I want?” Kevin’s eyes widened. Stanley’s serious expression quickly turned to amusement.
“Gotcha!” he shouted as he stood and walked away.
Kevin sprang from the bleachers and ran beside Stanley as he walked across the gym floor. “Wait a minute!” he said breathlessly. “What did you mean by that?”
Stanley started laughing and continued to walk at a brisk pace. When they entered the dressing room, Charles Tyler, the starting forward was sitting on one of the benches. Charles was the second highest scoring player the previous season. He was rather short for a forward, standing only 5’9”, but he made up for it by playing energetically. He had been named the MVP at the team dinner at the end of the season. He also shared the backseat with Stanley in Paul’s car.
“It’s about time you got here,” he said impatiently to Stanley. He looked at Kevin who had entered behind him.
“Jealous?” Stanley laughed as he stood before Charles. Charles looked worriedly over at Kevin who was carefully watching them.
“Shut up.” Charles jumped up and started to head for the door. Again, he cast a cautious eye at Kevin and gave Stanley a puzzled look.
Stanley grabbed Charles and pulled him into a hug. Charles pushed him off and backed away. He had an astonished look on his face.
“What the hell are you doing, Stanley?” He glanced quickly over at Kevin.
“It’s okay, Baby,” Stanley replied as he looked over at Kevin. “He’s cool.”
Kevin’s jaw dropped. He managed to stammer, “You mean you guys are...”
“Yep,” Stanley interrupted as he put his arm around Charles. Charles tried to push him away, but he tightened his grip.
“Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Kevin asked. “You let me tell you I am gay, but you didn’t tell me you are.”
“I had to be sure I could trust you,” he said. “Charles and I aren’t out.”
Charles looked over at Kevin. “You mean you’re gay, too?”
Kevin started laughing. “Can you believe this? We’ve been playing basketball together for over five years and none of us said a word.”
“It’s not something you just talk about,” replied Charles. “What did you expect me to do, Kevin? Just walk up and tell you and say that I’m gay and in love with Stanley.” He reached out and grabbed Stanley’s hand.
“No, I guess not,” responded Kevin. “I guess no more than I would. But it’s cool now that we’re out to each other.”
“You’ve got to promise us, Kevin,” pleaded Charles, “you won’t say a word to anyone.”
“I told you he was cool,” Stanley assured him. “Do you think I would out us to him if I didn’t trust him? Beside, now we can double date with him and Cameron.”
“Cameron?” Charles asked. “Blonde hair, short, cute?” Kevin and Stanley looked at each other and started laughing.
Charles looked at them questioningly. “What’s so funny?” Stanley walked over and put his arm around him.
“I’ll explain it to you later,” he said. He looked over at Kevin. “Let’s get dressed now.”
Just then they heard a door slam shut from the restroom area. The boys ran over and looked out the door. Paul was racing down the hallway.
“Shit!” hissed Charles. Kevin looked worriedly into Stanley’s panic-stricken face.