Chapter 19
I managed to finish my history report, but I’m not sure how well I did on it. I’ll
be lucky to make a passing grade. I still couldn’t believe what I saw in the
bathroom. I wish I hadn’t looked in. I should have just gone back to my room.
However, I thought I was alone in the house. I certainly wasn’t expecting to see
Curtis and Pip together in there.

I don’t know Pip, so I can’t say if he is gay or not. But Curtis? If someone had
asked me two hours ago whom I thought would be the last person to even
think about another guy, it would have been Curtis. Rodney seemed open-
minded, so I could see him perhaps messing around. But Curtis? No way was he

And if he was, he hid it very well. I don’t even think Mike knew he was. He never
said anything to me about it. They had an unusual relationship, however. One
minute, they acted as if they were bitter enemies. Then the next, they seemed
as if they were close allies. I always figured they were best friends who had their
ups and downs. Maybe there was more than I imagined. Perhaps, Mike was
jealous of me living in the Crawford house because he was afraid that Curtis and
I might hook up.

One thing is for sure- I have never been more confused about something in my
life. Just when things are beginning to flow smoothly, I had to open that
bathroom door and see Curtis and Pip together. And they weren’t just
together, they were involved in a sexual activity. Are they secret lovers? If they
are, then I now know their secret. Now, I worry what they might do to make
sure that secret isn’t revealed.

I didn’t sleep at all. I think I was afraid to go to sleep in case Curtis came into
my room. His actions toward me have been irrational since I first came to stay. I
am not sure how dangerous he can become. To say I am afraid would be an

Shade was waiting for me at my locker when I arrived the next morning. His
smile turned to a look of worry when I approached. “You look like shit,” he said
as he studied my face.

I opened my locker and reached inside for some books. “I didn’t sleep very well,”
I answered.

He grinned and jokingly asked, “Were you thinking about me?”

I attempted to smile. “God,” I replied, “If I could just kiss you right now.”

He scooted nearer to me and pressed his body lightly to mine. “We could go
backstage at the theater,” he grinned as he wiggled his eyebrows. “No one is
there right now.”

“Thanks,” I replied, “but I should go to class.”

He looked worriedly at me and asked, “Casey, is everything all right?”

I gently gripped his hand and then let go, “Can we talk later?” I threw my bag
over my shoulder. “I’m kind of in a hurry.”

“Okay.” He gave me a confused look as I turned and headed down the hall.

I wanted to talk to Shade, I really did. But what would I say to him? “Guess
what I saw last night? I saw Curtis getting a blowjob in the downstairs

No. This was something I was going to have to work out in my own head.
However, first, I needed to see just what Curtis and Pip’s next move was going
to be.

It didn’t take me long to find out. I was eating lunch with Lane and his friends,
when Pip approached and stood behind me. “Casey?” I turned to see what he
wanted. His voice trembled nervously as he asked, “Can we go somewhere to
speak?” When I didn’t reply, he added, “Please?”

I glanced over at the table where the baseball team was sitting. I saw Curtis
looking our way. I became worried because I thought Pip was going to try to
lure me out of the cafeteria and into a trap.

I shook my head and replied, “I’d rather not.”

Lane looked up and asked Pip, “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” replied Pip. He looked pleadingly at me again. “I need to talk to
Casey- alone.”

I looked around and noticed an empty table along side the cafeteria wall not far
from where we were sitting. No one else was nearby except for a boy eating
alone. I pointed to the table and said, “We’ll go over there.”

Pip looked over, nodded and headed to the table. I got up and followed behind
him. When I sat down, I made sure to position myself so I could keep an eye on
Curtis. I was pretty sure he wouldn’t try to do anything inside the cafeteria with
assistant principals and teachers monitoring students’ activities.

Pip was nervous. He tapped his fingers on the table as he looked over at me.
“Listen, Casey,” he pleaded. “You can’t tell anyone what you saw last night.” He
looked around to make sure that no one could hear our conversation.

“I know what you’re thinking,” he stammered. “But it’s not like that.”

“Like what?” I asked sarcastically. “I guess I didn’t see what I saw?”

Suddenly, tears welled up in Pip’s eyes. “I got a girlfriend, Man,” he said
sorrowfully. “We’re going to get married after we graduate. I ain’t no fag.”

I shook my head. “I’m not judging you, Pip. It ain’t none of my business.”

Pip insisted, “We ain’t fags.” When I raised an eyebrow, he stated, “We ain’t. Me
and Curtis been messing around since we’ve been ten or eleven. It don’t mean
nothing. We don’t kiss or hug or do any of that gay shit. We just suck each
other off from time to time. My girl is on her period; and Curtis, well, Curtis,    
he’s between girls right now.”

He reached over and grabbed my arm. “Listen, Casey,” he pleaded. “You’ll ruin
us, Man, if you tell anyone.”

I remembered the fear I felt when my mother caught Rollie and me in bed
together. I was young then. I could justify my actions as just experimentation,
things that boys just do together. However, Pip just admitted that he and
Curtis had been messing around for years. I felt sorry for him. However, as I
looked across the cafeteria to where Curtis was watching us talk, I felt nothing
but animosity for him.

He had made comments about my sexuality since I arrived. He had insinuated
several times with hatred that I was gay. I had been worried what he would say
when he actually did find out that I was. It was just a matter of time before it
became known around school that Shade and I were boyfriends. My greatest
fear had been that Curtis would react with hostility.

Now, I had the upper hand. Somehow, though, it didn’t seem right. I no more
wanted to seek revenge on him, than I would have wanted him to treat me with
hatred and scorn. To me, it was a lose-lose situation. There was no game to be
won. Someone had to draw a line in the sand, and the moment had come to do

I looked Pip directly in the eyes and promised, “You have my word that I  won’t
say anything.” I then extended my hand to him.

He seemed surprised by my response. He stared at me, and I could tell if he was
deciding if I was playing some kind of a cruel game with him. He looked at my
hand and hesitated a minute before finally shaking it.

He gave me a puzzled look and asked, “Why?”

I responded, “Cause, if it was me, I would hope the other person understood.” I
reached out and shook his hand again. I looked across the room at Curtis. He
seemed confused by our actions. “Tell Curtis he ain’t got nothing to worry
about. It’ll be just our little secret.”

“Thanks, Man,” replied Pip as tears welled up again in his eyes. “I don’t know
why you’re doing this, but God do I appreciate it.”

“It’s okay,” I said as he got up from the table. I watched as he walked back over
to Curtis. They talked briefly, and then they left the cafeteria together.

Shade was waiting for me outside the theater door. He still looked worried. He
seemed relieved when I grinned as I approached. He looked quickly down the hall
before he leaned forward and kissed me quickly.

“You seem in a better mood than you were this morning,” he said as he gripped
my hand. We walked past several students on the way to the back of the stage.
Again, no one seemed to mind that we were holding hands.

Megan was already pacing around when we arrived. She looked like she was
ready to burst into tears at any minute. Shade pulled her into his side, and she
rested her head on his shoulder.

“Things can’t just get any worse,” she moaned. “We should never have taken
on such a difficult production.”

“Now what’s wrong?” asked Shade.

Megan stepped back and started pacing again. “I called the parents of the
children last night,” she said. “Two of the parents objected because they
thought it might be too much for them to handle.”

She nodded her head when I asked, “Was Donnie one of them?” I knew Lane
would be upset when he found out his best friend wouldn’t be with him in the

“And I still haven’t found a Captain Von Trapp,” she added sadly. She looked
over at me and pleaded, “You sure you can’t sing?”

Shade laughed and replied, “You heard him. Do you want people running out of
the theater holding their ears?”

I acted insulted as I asked, “Am I that bad?”

“Yes,” responded Shade and Lane in unison.

My heart stopped when I looked over Megan’s shoulder and saw Rodney
standing in the background. His mouth was slightly open as he stared at Shade
and me. I had forgotten that we were still holding hands. I tried to pull my hand
away, but Shade gripped it tighter.

Slowly, he approached. “Yes, well,” he said nervously. “How are things going?”

Megan wrapped her arm around his. She could tell by the surprised look on my
face that Rodney had seen us. She asked him, “What brings you here?”

“I had some time to kill,” he replied as he continued to stare at me. “I thought I
would come hang with you guys.”

“That is so sweet,” cooed Megan as she pulled him away. I watched nervously as
she led him over to the other side of the room. They seemed to be having a
very animated conversation. Well, Megan was animated. Rodney just looked
down at her and smiled.

Several minutes later, they walked back toward us. Megan had a stupid grin on
her face. “Thanks to you, Casey,” she said sarcastically as she tightened her
grip on Rodney’s arm, “I have to go out with Rodney Saturday night to explain
why he saw you and Shade holding hands.”

Rodney grinned and winked at me. “I just don’t get it,” he said confusedly. “All
this PDA shit. Why does it upset people?” He looked down at Megan. “I hope
you can make me understand.”

“Of course,” she remarked as she added, “you are an athlete. I’m not sure you
have the intelligence to understand.” She removed her arm from his and
pretended to storm off.

“Hey!” laughed Rodney as he quickly followed her. “We’re not all idiots!”

She turned and said coyly, “Are you sure?”

He looked at me, winked again and mouthed, “Thanks, Casey.” He then hollered
out to Megan, “You’ll find out Saturday night.” He ran up and put his arm
around her waist as they left from backstage.

Shade looked worriedly at me. “Do you think he’s going to be all right with us?”

“Yeah,” I laughed as I kissed him quickly. “I got him a date with Megan, didn’t I?”

He laughed and replied, “That’s not much. She’s easy.”

Shade took Lane and me home. I invited him in, but he said he had to be at
work in an hour. “I have something in my room, I would like to show you,” I
insisted as he pulled up in front of the house.

Lane asked, “What?”

I looked at Shade, smiled and responded, “He has to come in and see.” After
practically pulling him from the car, he followed me into the house. I asked Lane
if we could be alone, and he scurried off to his bedroom.

“What do you want to show me?” Shade asked as he followed me downstairs
and into my room. He looked around at the cramped space I called a bedroom.

“This,” I replied as I put my arms around his waist and kissed him passionately.
He tilted his head slightly, and wrapped his arms around my neck. I began to
grind my erection against his.

“Mmmm,” he moaned softly into my mouth when I reached down and cupped it
in my hand. When he touched mine, I thought I would explode inside my pants.

We jumped apart when Lane barged into the room. “What are you guys...”  He
stopped and stared at us. Suddenly, he turned and rushed out of the room. We
could hear him stomping up the stairs.

“Oh, wow, Casey,” apologized Shade. “I’m really sorry.”

“It’s all right,” I replied sadly. “It was my fault. I didn’t think he would come in
like that.”

Shade asked worriedly, “Do you think he’s mad?”

I nodded and responded, “Probably. I’ve never told him I’m gay.”

Shade brushed past me. “I had better go.” He gave me a quick kiss. “I’ll see you
in school tomorrow. Okay?”

“Yeah sure,” I replied as I followed him upstairs and to his car. After a quick
goodbye, I turned and headed back toward the house. When I looked up at
Lane’s bedroom window, he was staring down at me.

Once inside, I sighed and headed to Lane’s room. I had to make him understand
what he had seen earlier in my room. Not only did I have to explain to him that I
was gay, I also had to tell him that Shade was my boyfriend. I wasn’t sure how
he would handle it.

Lane was lying on his bed with his back to the door. I walked over, sat down
and gently rubbed his back. He lifted his hand to wipe his eyes and sniffled. “You
okay, Buddy,” I asked soothingly as I continued to rub his back.

“No,” he cried. He again wiped away tears.

I pulled his body up. “Come here.” He wrapped his arms around my neck and
sobbed into my shoulder. I asked, “What’s wrong, Lane? Are you mad at me
because you saw me kissing Shade?”

“No,” he sobbed. He pressed his head deeper against my shoulder.

I rubbed his back as I asked, “Then why are you so upset?”

He wailed, “Because you won’t want me around any more.”

I wrapped my arms tightly around him as I started to cry. “Lane,” I replied
tearfully, “You’ll always be my bestest buddy.”

“No, I won’t,” he sobbed. “Now that you like Shade, you’ll forget all about me.”
He wiped his wet eyes as he sobbed, “Just like everyone else.”

“Oh, Little brother,” I cried as I held him tightly and rocked him in my arms. We
must have stayed like that for five minutes before I finally released my grip on
him. He sat up and wiped his eyes as he looked at me.

“Listen,” I said as I put my hands on his shoulders and stared into his eyes.
“You’re my bestest buddy, my bestest friend. Nothing, or no one, will ever come
between us,” I smiled gently at him and added, “That’s a promise.”

He lifted his small hand and wiped the tears off his cheek. “Promise?”

“Forever and ever,” I replied with a smile. “We’re bestest buddies for life. Okay?”

He smiled and nodded, “Okay.”

“And you know what bestest buddies do?”

He gave me a puzzled look and shook his head. “They walk to Dairy Queen and
get a Dilly Bar.”

His eyes lit up. “A Dilly Bar?”

I smiled and replied, “A Dilly Bar.” He jumped off the bed, grabbed my hand and
pulled me off the bed.

He held my hand all the way to the Dairy Queen. I explained to him what was
happening between Shade and me. Since he liked Shade a lot, it was easier for
him to accept what was happening. I was surprised that he understood more
than I expected he would. I guess his involvement with Donnie gave him some
perspective about a boy liking another boy.

The only time I felt embarrassed was when he asked me, “Are you and Shade
going to make the white stuff together?” He then told me he couldn’t wait for
Donnie to come over after school some day so they could do it together.

When returned home and began preparing dinner. I found some ground beef
and a couple of cans of Manwich in the pantry. Lane was excited about making
sloppy joes. “I like sloppy joes!” he exclaimed.

I laughed and said, “I thought you like spaghetti and tacos?

He rubbed his belly and replied, “I like sloppy joes, too.” We worked together as
if nothing had happened earlier. We discussed the play and sang the do-re-mi
song. If nothing else, he would have it memorized by the time he had to
perform it.

Megan had given me a copy of the script. She had highlighted the parts that
Lane would perform. Other than a couple of speaking and dancing parts, it   
didn’t look like anything he wouldn’t be able to handle. The older children
appeared to have most of the speaking parts. I felt confident that Karen and I
could work with him at home so he would be able to do well on the stage. It also
helped that he liked Megan and Lorenzo. I didn’t know who would play the role
of Maria. It appeared that Lane would do a lot of his acting on stage with her.

He was also disappointed that Donnie wouldn’t be in the play. Donnie had told
him earlier in the day what his parents had said about him performing. He asked
me worriedly, “Do you think I can do it?”

I tousled his hair. “You’re going to be the best Kurt in the whole world.”

“Really?” He looked up at me with a wide grin.

“Really,” I replied as I tousled his hair again. He giggled and pulled me into a hug.

After we had prepared the sloppy joes and set the table, I took Lane down to
the family room. I had him sit next to me on the sofa. I looked at him and said,
“Now this is very important.” He smiled and nodded. “Right now I don’t want
you to tell your mother or the others that you saw me kissing Shade. Okay?”

He gave me a puzzled look and asked, “Why? Is it wrong?”

“No,” I assured him. “I just want to tell them when I want to tell them that I like
Shade. Okay?” He nodded his head.

I asked him, “Promise?”

He grinned and replied, “Promise.”

I then said, “So don’t be surprised if you see us holding hands or sitting real
close together. Okay?”

He nodded and replied, “Okay. I promise.”

“And one other thing.”


“If Shade is here, and you see my door closed, knock before you come in.

He grinned mischievously and replied, “Are you going to be making the white

I leaned forward and kissed his forehead. “You’re something else, you know
that?” He giggled when I tousled his hair.

As we got up to go back to the kitchen, he giggled and asked, “Well, are you?”
He grabbed my hand and skipped beside me.

I laughed and replied, “Maybe.”

Things were frantic when the others arrived home. Surprisingly, Rodney and
Curtis arrived first. Rodney came into the kitchen, grabbed a couple of
sandwiches and headed off to his room. He explained he was in a rush because
he and Curtis had to hurry back to school. They were playing the last game of
the season. He said they had no chance of a tournament bid, but the team they
were competing against was in first place. If they could defeat them, it would be
a big achievement.

After Rodney left, Curtis came strolling in. He glanced quickly at me before
asking Lane, “Hey, Runt. Where’s my sloppy joes?”

Lane responded angrily, “I ain’t no runt.” Curtis started to say something, but I
stepped over and stood protectively beside Lane.

I was surprised when Curtis shied away. “Never mind,” he said as he turned and
left the room.

I prepared a couple of sandwiches and placed them on a plate. I handed the
plate to Lane and told him to take it to Curtis. When he asked why, I just told
him he should eat before the game.

Lane took the plate and left the room. A minute later, he reappeared holding an
empty plate. He announced proudly, “Rodney wants another sandwich. He says
they’re good.” I put two more sandwiches on the plate, and Lane left.

Karen and my father arrived home about the same time. Karen was relieved that
Lane and I had fixed something to eat for them. They took a plate of
sandwiches and headed to their bedroom. A half hour later, they came into the
kitchen wearing school sweatshirts and caps. They told Lane to get ready and
he hurried to his room. My father then asked if I planned to join them.

“I’d rather stay here,” I replied. Even though I knew Megan would be there to
watch Rodney, I wasn’t in the mood to see Curtis running up and down the
court all night.

After everyone left to go to the game, I cleaned up the kitchen and then headed
downstairs to watch television. I was watching a movie on HBO when I must
have fallen asleep for a few hours. I was awakened when I heard loud voices
entering the kitchen upstairs.

Suddenly, I heard Curtis yell out, “Would everyone just leave me the fuck
alone!” Seconds later, his bedroom door slammed shut.

Karen told Lane to go to bed. He insisted on seeing me before he did. He
bounded down the stairs, sat beside me and kissed me on my cheek. I returned
the kiss, and he jumped up and headed off to bed.

I was getting ready to go to bed myself when Rodney came downstairs with a
Coke and a bag of chips. He plopped down on the sofa beside me. I shook my
head when he offered me the bag. He then grabbed the remote and changed
the channel to ESPN.

He muttered, “Mother fucker.” I looked over thinking that he was talking about

I asked, “What?”

“Curtis,” he spat angrily. “That mother fucker lost us the game tonight.”

“Oh,” I replied as I looked at the disappointed expression on his face.

                                              * * * * * * *

 Chapter 20      Return to TMJ
Birds Don't Sing
    Before a Storm
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