A Place for the Loner

Lionel

Nobody had figured anything out yet about Charles and I.
As far as the two of us were concerned, the whole scenario in the hospital
wouldn’t become public for years to come, and even then the chances of the
secret getting spilled out were slim.

 It was fun living a life separate from the Loner everyone
told me I was, when really, behind the scenes, I was the complete opposite.
Charles liked to live that way; reckless, yet a much diverse personality on the
inside.

 We had already established the rules of our relationship.
It was critical that we did so; being gay in high school was a dangerous
territory to venture inside of. If we were ever exposed, the teasing would
begin, and that wouldn’t be good for either of us.

 Charles approached me with his layout as though he had already practiced it. “First of all, there can’t be any kissing. We can’t be seen together in an affectionate manner when in public. There can’t be any talking in an affectionate manner when in public”.

 I waved my hands. “Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Listen,
Charles, I’m pretty sure I know how to tread in this situation. You don’t have
to give me the basics like I just started little league baseball”.

 “Are you sure about that?” Charles asked me for
clarification. “Mate, I’ve been living this way for my whole life. You probably
don’t know all about the ways that you’ve got to follow”.

 “I’m certain I don’t need instructions” came my confident
reply. 

 He shrugged. “Well… I suppose if you think you do. Don’t
screw it up for the two of us though. I mean, I like you in this… so let’s not
end it, at least not yet. Alright?”

 I hugged him. “Sure, Charles”.

 The two of us departed, and our motives were clear in our
minds. Throughout the next week, we had no problem steering our relationship away
from the public eye. From that day onward, we seemed to do everything together.
It made me feel guilty in a way… Daniel had always been my ‘wingman’ hadn’t he?
I guess that all changed when Claudia entered the scene and started remembering
him… that’s when everything went downhill.

 I tried to make an effort to make plans with him, but his
schedule was pretty booked. Apparently, he had become the most popular guy in
school in a matter of a couple of weeks. The worst part of this fact was… he
took advantage of it.

 “I was popular at one point or another… but I don’t use
it as an excuse, a free ticket, or anything like that!” I said to him angrily
one day.

 “Listen, I’m not using it like you think I am. The fact
is I’m just busy” came his awfully simple reply. He was hiding from me, and in
a different manner than I used to be like.

 Claudia had changed just like him. Gone were the fancy
clothes and the expensive jewelry... she was just as plain as everybody else.
It was meant to be a statement, a fix made that quickly, and most likely directed
towards the school’s favorite hot-headed pretty-boy.

However, I didn’t have to worry about her all too much.
Charles and I got along just fine, and beyond. There was one day I remember
when he managed to bring me to the rooftop of a giant mall in the middle of the
county.

 “It’s real fun up here, I can assure you mate” he said,
squinting in the afternoon sun.

 “What is there to do?” I asked, a very critical question.
As far as I was concerned, there was nothing up on top of the building.

 After beckoning for me to follow, he strolled over to a
large tower on the roof. He jumped up and grabbed on to a pole.

 “Now, be careful climbing up this thing. It doesn’t make
for the softest landing if you mess up on your way onward” he said, advancing
up the tower. I could only stand and stare.

 “You expect me to get up this thing? I don’t even know
why we’re here!” I said, bewildered.

 He offered me some tips and luck, so I begrudgingly
accepted it and followed him. The climb was much easier than I assumed, and it
was more like Charles described it later; a dog with more bark than bite. When
I finally reached the top, I saw an interesting sight.

 Set on top of the tower were four lawn chairs, a
television set, a radio with multiple CDs lying next to it, and a sizeable
fridge. It wasn’t what I expected, which was a bleak rooftop. I looked around,
then back in the direction of Charles.

 “What is all of this?” I questioned him.

 He took a deep breath. “It’s like my sanctuary. When I’m
bored, feeling down, I just embark on to this place. I’ve been going here for
longer than I can remember. For some odd reason, it’s calming… especially the
view”.

 I leaned over the edge of the tower and witnessed how
high we were; buildings were dwarfed by our position. The whole scene played
before me, and it stunned me. It was incredible, even though it seemed so
simple in concept.

 “Something about this place kept me sneaking up back to
it… I like it. So I made a little camp here. I’ve only told two other friends
about this location”. He gestured to the fourth chair. “Ever since I met you, I
put down another”.

 “This is… awesome” came my understatement. The words
nearly failed exiting my mouth. The first thought that came into my thought
afterwards was to tell Daniel and Claudia. Maybe it would change them like it
did to me.

 “Please don’t tell anybody about this place” Charles
begged me, as though he read my mind. “I’d rather let me and my friends enjoy
it by ourselves”.

 I nodded, showing my understanding. “I guess… want to sit
down then?”

 So that’s where the afternoon saw us at; lounging in the
strangest of places, and enjoying it.

The End

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