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– Blake Abel Foster –
“What about that guy,” Chris asks me, pointing at the guy standing at the counter, ordering food.
He’s very slim. His hair is jet black, short on one side, long on the other, covering one side of his face. He’s wearing a tight black shirt and black skinny jeans. One hand covered with a black and purple-striped fingerless glove.
I look at Chris with a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me look on my face, as I take another french fry, dipping it in barbecue sauce before popping it in my mouth.
“My bad, my bad,” Chris says, holding his hands up in surrender while smiling.
Chris is my best friend, has been since the third grade. He’s the only one who really knows me, knows that I’m gay. I came out to him junior year after a bad break-up with a guy from our rival school.
Gavin Hatfield. Still hurts me to think about him, to say his name in my mind. I was there for Gavin when his boyfriend of two years left him and called it quits. We never had sex, it never got that far. But, sex doesn’t define a relationship, in my opinion. I thought what we had was something real. Little did I know, I was just his rebound – and a crappy one at that.
Our six-month relationship ended badly. Gavin couldn’t or wouldn’t cope with the fact that I was still closeted. I wouldn’t let him hold my hand or kiss me in public. He couldn’t handle it. Didn’t understand why I didn’t just come out. Of all people, I thought he’d understand. Thought he’d give me a chance and deal with it until I was ready. I just wish he would have given me more time. I think about him all the time. It’s hard for me some days. I miss him.
I came out to Chris on a Friday night a few months ago. It was after a football game against Gavin’s school – our school’s rival. We beat them 28-21 with me running in the game winning touchdown. I was on high, ecstatic. Glad that I helped the team win. Proud that we beat our rivals. The euphoria in the locker room after the game was palpable.
My high came crashing down when I bumped into Gavin and his new boyfriend as I was exiting the locker rooms.
Gavin congratulated me, half-heartedly, on the game winning touchdown. I heard his words, but all my brain registered and focused on was his hand, fingers interlocked, into someone else’s. He introduced me to his new boyfriend, Eric. Eric extended his hand as Gavin lovingly rested his head against Eric’s shoulder. That was a message I read loud and clear.
See, Blake? It’s not that hard to be physical with each other in public.
I said nothing to them, didn’t even shake Eric’s hand. I just adjusted my duffle bag on my shoulder and walked away. Pushing through crowds of people to get out of the stadium. I jogged to my car, tears already streaking down my cheeks. I needed to get into my car before I broke down in front of everybody in the parking lot.
I hit the unlock button on my keypad, tossing my duffle bag in the passenger seat before climbing in behind the wheel. I got in just in time, breaking down.
God, why do I miss him so much?
I punched the steering wheel, causing the horn to honk. Chris happened to be walking by at the time, duffle bag draped over his shoulder, hair wet and skin still moist from sweat. He thought I was signaling him over when I hit the horn.
I noticed him approaching and quickly tried gaining my composure, wiping the tears from my eyes and face. He approached my vehicle from the passenger side. I rolled the window down and stared forward. I didn’t want to look right at him, didn’t want him to know I had been crying.
“Yo, Blake,” he said, enthusiastically. “Amazing touchdown, bro! Can’t believe you-… Whoa! Man, what’s up,” he asked, apparently reading my face.
“It’s nothing, I’m okay,” I said, sniffing loudly.
He opened the passenger door, shoving his duffle bag and mine into the backseat. He climbed into the seat and shut the door. I looked down in my lap as he scanned the parking lot. He rolled up the passenger side window, knowing, obviously, that I needed privacy for whatever was bugging me.
“Blake. Come on, man. What’s wrong,” he asked, genuinely concerned.
“I already told you, damn it! Nothing’s fucking wrong,” I yelled at him, still staring down in my lap, picking at my cuticles.
“Blake, man, yell and lie to me all you want. But, I’m your best friend, you’re my best friend. I know when something’s wrong with you. You can’t hide it from me, bro. Talk to me, man.”
I don’t look at him. I can’t tell him. What if he hates me for being gay and never telling him after all these years?
Before I know it, I blurt it out.
“Well, I’ve been hiding it from you since we met, Chris.”
“What, are you trying to tell me you’re gay,” he said, jokingly, punching me in the arm like any friend would do, trying to cheer their buddy up.
I look up at him with a solemn look on my face, eyes still moist.
“Oh, man. Blake? You’re gay,” he asked, definitely shocked.
I look back down in my lap, shoulders bouncing up and down, crying again.
“Blake. No, I didn’t mean it like that, man,” he said, putting his hand on my shoulder. “I’m just surprised. I honestly had no idea, bro.”
“Just get out of my car, Chris,” I said, sniffing and breathing through the tears.
That’s all he said. A simple no.
“I said, get the fuck out of my car,” I yelled. I was upset at Gavin, but taking it out on Chris. That and I was afraid that I just ruined our friendship by coming out to him.
Chris, his hand still on my shoulder, gives my shoulder a squeeze.
“Blake, if you want me out of this car, you’re going to have to physically kick me out. I’m not leaving you here like this. I don’t give a damn if you’re gay. That doesn’t change who you are. I mean, I guess the only downside to that is, I lost my best wingman at escort bayan parties. But, other than that…”
I cut him off with laughter.
“Thanks, Chris. I love you, bro.”
Chris removed his hand from my shoulder and quickly leaned towards the passenger door.
“Ew, gay,” he said, mocking me.
“Dick,” I said, punching him in the arm.
“You’re the one who wants it…” Chris said.
That tickled my funny bone for some reason, causing me to laugh my ass off. This is why he’s my best friend. He toned it down after those gay jokes and comments and asked me again what was wrong. I explained it all to him in my car, Gavin, our relationship, how I was too afraid to come out of the closet and allow physical contact, and how he dumped me. After everybody left the parking lot, we laid out on the hood of my car, staring up at the stars, talking. Talking about things that matter, things that don’t. It was a scary moment for me that night, and Chris made it easy. For that, I’ll always love him. He’ll always be my best friend. He didn’t make make me feel like being gay was all that I was.
I know being gay doesn’t define me as a person, but putting on the whole straight façade at school, in the locker rooms after football practice and football games gets a little tiresome. With Chris, I can be me. I can be the real Blake Foster.
Chris is straight as they come. Tall, well built with plenty of muscle, brown hair and brown eyes. I would go as far as saying he’s cute, but that would leave me feeling awkward. Ah, who am I kidding? I’ve thought it plenty of times, each time shaking the thought from my head.
Chris. Is. Not. Cute.
He’s my best friend. My best straight friend, I remind myself. I can’t think about him like that. Pulling a best friend into a relationship always ends in tragedy in guy-girl friend crushes. But, straight guy-gay guy crushes? I don’t even want to think about that apocalypse.
I, again, shake the thought from my head.
“What about him,” Chris asks again, pointing at a well-tanned guy in a light blue shirt, khaki shorts and flip flops. I’ll admit, the guy was cute.
“Dude, I didn’t come down here to scan out guys,” I say, taking a drink from my styrofoam cup.
“I know, man. Sorry. Can’t help it. Just want you to find some sort of happiness,” he says.
You’re a fuckin’ sweetheart, Chris
“Wow! Uh… that was sweet, Chris,” I say, blushing a little.
Chris smiles and places his hand on top of mine. My stomach does somersaults.
“Blake…” he says.
“Yeah,” I ask, looking from his hand on mine, up to his eyes.
“Quit being so gay,” he says, winking at me before leaning back in the booth, laughing it up.
“Ass hat,” I say under my breath, but loud enough for him to hear.
– Benjamin Jaxon Smith –
“So this is Missouri, huh,” I ask, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.
“Yup, this is the ‘Show Me State,'” my dad responds from the driver’s seat.
For the second time in nine years, my father, the pediatrician, has relocated from one hospital to the other. For a good chunk of my childhood, I was born and raised in Southern California. When I was nine, my father was relocated to “Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children” in Denver, Colorado. I left behind all my childhood friends (the warm weather, too) and left for Colorado.
I was okay with it – not like I had much of a choice or say in the matter. I was only nine-years-old. But, even back then, I knew I was different. I wasn’t shy around girls – I wasn’t afraid of their cooties. I seemed to gravitate towards them, became friends with them easier than boys. Don’t get me wrong, I still had guy friends. But, while they were mumbling and stuttering over words when girls would talk to them, I was confident and able to talk to the girls like it was nothing. I didn’t find them sexually attractive. Hell, I was only nine – I didn’t even really know what that meant. All I knew was that I found myself mumbling and stuttering my words when certain boys talked to me.
It wasn’t until I was twelve, a bit more mature and knowledgeable about sex that I realized I liked boys. Not that I had any experience, firsthand, with sex. But, there was the Internet and thoughts in my head.
I remained closeted and still am to this day. My friends and parents still assume I’m straight. I’m not ready to deal with all that pressure of having to tell them yet – especially my parents.
I’ve never had a boyfriend – never got close to anything resembling a relationship. Haven’t even had my first kiss yet. How pathetic is that? Eighteen-years-old and I’ve never been kissed. Not in the way I wanted anyway.
One of my best friends, Becca, kissed me on the lips when I took her to a homecoming dance. I had to explain to her that we were just friends. I didn’t see us as a couple. It was embarrassing for both of us. More so for her, I believe.
Three weeks ago, my father got the news that he was being relocated, once again, to “Children’s Mercy Hospital” in Kansas City, Missouri.
I had just finished my junior year of high school in Denver. Now, once again, I had to leave all my friends. No senior parties with my classmates. No prom. No graduation walk with them. Nothing. Instead, I had to pick back up at a new school, make new friends.
Needless to say, I was extremely bummed out. I begged them to let me stay with a friend. Let me finish school with my friends. But, that went over just as good as me hooking up with a girl – wasn’t going to happen.
We pull into the subdivision where we will be living in Liberty, Missouri. The commute from Liberty to Kansas City isn’t that far. All the quietness of a comfy subdivision with the guilty pleasures of the city not too far away.
I open the truck’s door and climb out of the backseat as dad nudges mom’s shoulder, coaxing her to wake kocaeli escort bayan up. Mom and I are pretty horrible companions on the road. Put us in a vehicle with a long distance to ride and the vibrations of the road will lull us to sleep.
My phone buzzes as I step out of the truck. I retrieve it from my pocket and pull it up. It’s a message from Becca.
I miss u already…friend. 🙁
The friend part is like a dagger to the heart. She calls me that when she wants me to feel bad – all a reference to that night at the dance when I told her I saw us more as friends.
She took it hard when I told her I was moving. We became even closer friends after that kiss. Most nights we would spend watching movies or talking in my living room. We weren’t able to have the privacy of me bedroom with the door shut – because, I was “straight” after all. We connected on a personal level. And I think, deep down, she figured me out. She knew I was gay. She was just waiting for me to come out to her. But, I couldn’t. I was, and still am, too scared.
I pull the message up in full screen, raising the keyboard at the bottom of the screen, and pound out my response.
Ouch! Kill shot with that “friend” remark. 😉 You know I miss you, too. We just pulled up to our new house. Kill me now and spread my ashes back in Denver.
I hit send and lock the phone, dropping it back into my pocket.
Dad walks around to the back of the truck as I’m lowering the tailgate.
“Ready to get this stuff into the house, bud,” he asks.
“Do I have a choice or say in this,” I say, hoping it stings a little.
Just then, a blue car drives by. A boy in the driver’s seat waves at me as he passes by and realizes I’m looking at him. He has a white hat on, backwards, and a red t-shirt. I wave back. Friendly, here, in the “Show Me State.” And not too bad looking, if I do say so myself.
– Blake Abel Foster –
I dropped Chris off at his house after our “bro date,” as he likes to call it. I thought about driving into the city to hit up the music store. I needed to get some new strings for my guitar. But, if I didn’t get home and do my chores, Dad would have a cow.
One thing I plan to do this summer is fine tune my skills on the guitar. My mother doesn’t understand why I spend so much time in my room, strumming and singing on “that thing,” as she refers to it. I’ve blown off my friends countless times to stay in my room all night and pick at my guitar.
“You have all the time in the world to mess around on that thing, honey,” she’d tell me. “Get out there and enjoy your teenage years. Hang out with friends. Have fun. Get in to trouble, for crying out loud! Not too much, but some!”
I would just ignore her and continue picking at my guitar. She doesn’t understand and I don’t think she ever will. Playing the guitar is therapeutic for me. While she’s in the tub, shouting, “Calgon, take me away,” in her sea of tranquility, I’m in my sea of tranquility, strumming and singing on my guitar.
Needless to say, I’ve started locking my door when I pick up my guitar. I don’t like waves disturbing my tranquil sea.
As I turn into our subdivision, I notice a truck pulled into the driveway of the old Wilson house. I don’t mean the house is old, but its former occupants were. I approach and pass the residence slowly and see a man, and what I assume to be, his son unloading the back of the truck.
The boy is handsome as hell and my heart skips a beat. He appears to be my age, maybe a year younger or older, can’t tell. Short, dark blond hair sticking out from under a red and blue stocking cap that’s sitting more at the top of his head, rather than covering the entirety of his hair. He’s wearing a blue long-sleeved Young & Reckless shirt and light blue jeans.
He pulls a medium sized box out of the truck as I pass by. Against my better judgement, I wave – perhaps a little too enthusiastically. Before I pass by all the way, I see him smile and wave back. The smile makes me melt a little.
I pull into my driveway, four houses up and on the opposite side of the road. I put the car in park and turn the key, shutting the engine off. The music continues playing over the speakers and will do so, until I open the car door.
I should go introduce myself. It’s something a neighbor would do, right?
I take a couple of deep breaths, trying to psyche myself up. I look at myself in the rearview mirror. All I can see is the bridge of my nose, my eyes and the base of my hat, sitting level with my eyebrows.
I grab the door handle, holding it a moment before pulling it towards me. The door hatch clicks, the music shuts off and the door opens. The dinging with an audible chirp plays somewhere in the vehicle, until I take the key out of the ignition. I plant my left foot on the cement below and pull myself out of the vehicle, pocketing my keys.
Over the roof of my car, I look down the street at our new neighbors. The boy is pulling out a small box, which he tucks under his left arm. With his right hand, he grabs the handle of a box fan and pulls it out of the truck. He walks around the truck towards the steps leading up to the front door, which is standing wide open.
I straighten my shirt, wiping imaginary crumbs off of it and check my breath.
Just the slightest hint of barbecue sauce lingers. I debate on whether or not I should go brush my teeth first when the boy walks out of the house and back down to the truck. My feet disobey the thought of brushing my teeth, and begin taking me towards his house.
Here goes nothing…
– Benjamin Jaxon Smith –
I pull another box from the bed of the truck marked “KITCHEN” and hoist it up, needing my knee to hoist it back up after almost losing my grip on it.
Suddenly, there are another set of hands on the box, helping kocaeli escort me bring it back up to my chest, helping me tighten my grip so I can hold the box steady at my chest.
“Thanks, Da-…” I begin, looking up to see a set of amazing blue eyes staring back at me.
It wasn’t my dad, it was the boy who drove by only moments ago. I try to say thanks again, but the words catch in my throat.
My God, he’s cute. Shit.
“Hi. My name’s Blake Foster. Welcome to the neighborhood,” he says with a gorgeous smile.
He extends his hand and I go to take it, forgetting the heavy box in my hand for a moment. I fumble around with the box again, nearly losing my grip. This time, it is my dad who helps secure the box in my arms, beating Blake to the punch.
“Who do we have here,” my father asks, extending his hand towards Blake.
“Blake Foster. Welcome to the neighborhood, sir,” he says, taking my father’s hand and giving it a firm shake.
“Let me get this box in the house real quick, I’ll be right back,” I say, spinning around, half-walking, half-running. I quickly ascend the steps and walk through the threshold to the house.
Jesus, what an idiot. I didn’t even introduce myself. Fuck, he’s cute.
I set the box on the kitchen counter and head upstairs to the bathroom to check myself out in the mirror. I flip the light on and stand in front of the mirror, primping up the hair that is sticking out from under my stocking cap.
Why am I doing this? Why am I getting myself all worked up? Who even knows if he’s gay? My quote-unquote “gaydar” didn’t even go off. I’ve just been momentarily blinded by those blue eyes and that smile. Yeah, yeah, that’s it…
I smile at that last thought as it passes through my mind. Still, I can’t help myself, I lean over the sink and check my teeth in the mirror, making sure no food is stuck in between my teeth.
Nope! All clear.
I give myself a final look before shutting the light off and exiting the bathroom. I jog down the steps and make my way towards the open front door.
The hyenas, a.k.a. Mom and Dad, have descended upon him. My mother laughs at something Blake just said and nods her head, as I walk down the steps to the driveway. I slowly approach them, my knees almost buckling as Blake looks over in my direction.
“Oh, there he is,” my mother says, placing her arm around me as I approach them.
I shrug her arm off as I extend my hand towards Blake.
“Ben Smith. Pleased to meet you,” I say.
Pleased to meet you? What the fuck? What the hell is wrong with me?
Blake doesn’t seem to notice. He smiles an incredible smile at me and shakes my hand. His hand feels nice in mine – like it was meant to be there. He goes to retract his hand as my grip tightens. Realizing what I’m doing, I release it with a nervous smile.
“Sorry,” I mutter, nervously.
Not sure if he even catches it, but the smile remains on his face. It’s infectious. I smile back.
“So, Blake,” my mother begins, “Ben just finished up his junior year. Will be a senior when school starts back up and I’m sure he could use some friends. He ha-…”
“Jesus, Mom…” I say, cutting her off while gripping the bridge of my nose in between my thumb and forefinger.
“No, that’s cool. Yeah, I’ll be a senior this year, too. You’re more than welcome to hang out, Ben,” Blake says, still smiling.
“Thanks, man,” I say, trying to sound as straight as I can. “Don’t you guys have some unpacking to do or something,” I ask, looking at both of my parents.
“Guess that’s our cue to get the hell out of here,” my father says, extending his hand to Blake again. Blake shakes it. “Good to meet you, Blake.”
“Yes, Blake, good to meet you,” my mother says.
“You, too, Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” Blake says, waving at them as they retreat into the house.
“Sorry about that,” I say, brushing the back of my neck with my palm.
“No, it’s cool, man. I have parents, too,” Blake replies.
We both continue standing there for a moment, with awkward silence surrounding us. I feel my phone vibrate in my pocket and instinctively pull it out. Blake starts backing up.
“I can go, if you need to take that,” he says.
My head snaps up from the phone, as I put a hand out to stop him.
“Oh, no! It’s just a text message,” I say, a little too much excitement in my voice, not wanting him to leave.
“Don’t sweat it, man. I’ll let you get back to moving in. Just thought I’d come by and introduce myself and… Hey, let me get your phone number real quick,” he says.
Before I can say anything, he swipes my phone from my hand, unlocks it, goes to the contacts and begins typing something in. Next thing I know, his phone starts ringing. He pulls it out of his pocket and shows it to me, my phone number shows up on his screen as an incoming call.
He hands my phone back to me, smiling.
“There. You have mine and I have your’s. Cute wallpaper,” he says, winking at me before turning around and heading back up the street.
I look down at my phone, at my wallpaper, a little dumbfounded. It was a picture that Becca took of me around Christmas last year. I have a Santa hat on, I’m doing the generic duck face while holding up my right hand in a “peace” sign.
I’m not that self centered. I changed it to that a couple of hours after leaving Denver as a reminder to myself. A reminder to be this happy again in my new home.
Wait a minute? Did he say CUTE wallpaper?
My heart skips a beat, as I look up the street at him. As I stare at him, smiling, he looks back and waves. I wave back, hopeful.
Author’s Note: Hope you enjoyed the re-write of Blake and Ben’s beginning! Sorry it took so long to deliver. I hope it was worth it. I’m excited for what this new future holds for the two boys. I’ve found myself falling in love with these characters all over again. As always, your thoughts and opinions mean the world to me, so, let me know what you think down below.
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