Narrator: Kieth Penningway
I felt like an alien observer, seeing a whole different side of my dear brother that I hadn't seen before. The excitement, the mixed emotions and the shadows beneath their eyes... who were these people and why weren't any of them around when I was in high school?
I was a kicking-bag in high school.
"Kick the queer."
I hated those memories. I could picture a scar across my brain, where they surely must be held.
"Kick your foot so far up his ass, that no other faggot will even bother to touch him."
I learned not to cry. That only made things worse.
Now I had the old man on my back, poor choice of words, trying to shout at me. Unemployment this. Get a job that. Once, he called me a 'parasitic abomination'. As if shouting loud enough would get me through an interview, get me through the first week, without betraying what I really am.
I felt like I'd been branded. Sometimes I even felt like it'd be easier to deny it all. To pretend. I had the discipline. I could act. I could charm and fool a woman... if I wanted to. But I could never stop my past from catching up with me!
I moved to the stairs, and perched myself there, deep in thought.
They'd mentioned one who might be like me. So what if he was a couple years younger?
Love was something I knew would allow me to tolerate this torment until I was out of my old man's house. And something I'd hold onto even afterwards. Never let him go.
I remembered my first.
He was also the first to out me, the first to bruise me, the first to send a foot speeding toward my groin.
I've learned to be resilient, since. Some people don't always feel love and lust together. And lust without love isn't something I'm shallow enough to give into yet. And it's all too fuckin' common these days; gay or straight, but usually with men.
I can feel my resistance fading.
As if fucking hard enough would get me a job, get me a different roof over my head. I'd pretend they loved me back, and maybe I'd fool myself for long enough.
I could hear boots on the front porch. Anticipation rose in my chest, doubt and disappointment ready to be felt in my mind.
I stood up, in the darkness of the stairs, looking down. I readied myself to be as observant and analytical as possible.
Three people were on the porch. Their faces were shadowed by umbrellas. One white with pink cat ears, one a solid black. I scanned the trio, left to right, top to bottom.
One teal sweater over a modestly breasted woman. One dark, black, unisex winter coat. One smudged, gray and blue light coat.
One white pair of rubber rain boots, girly stickers on the ankle. One black pair of rainboots, cracked at the toe. One pair of men's work boots, rubber and green faux-leather, tied with black laces up to the lower third of his ankle; gray socks. The boots nearly broke my concentration, dredging up unmentionable thoughts.
Then, the one on the right cringed, dropping the umbrella he held as a purple-haired, busty young woman had krept up behind him and squeezed his butt cheeks, yelling "ass rape!" as she did so.
The girls on the couch began to behave like hyenas, howling with laughter, as the two guys sitting across from them on the floor glowered in homophobia and kept their attention on their cardgame.
At this point, the young lady on the porch shrieked and ran inside, while the man beside the victim slapped his knee, chuckling, and extended his other hand to the purple-haired girl in black, "High five, stranger!"
He immediately set off my bidar. Bisexual radar, an instinctual assessment. He was richly tanned, naturally, probably Indian or Pakistani. His sideburns looked curly, his face was well-shaven and his hair was straightened into long curtains on either side of his face, with dark streaks of blue and... purple! His brown eyes passed me by, in the shadows, as nothing more than a stray glance.
I took two steps forward, down the stairs.
That was when the third guy finished wrestling with his umbrella and cursing at his attacker, whose name I heard was 'Leslie'. He made a stern demand that she never do that again. Her cryptic rebuttal had something to do with wearing a backpack.
Caucasian, face flushed, wet blond hair so naturally straight it looked uncanny. Two thin strands hung loosely in front of his face, with an incredible length, while the rest was tied back very tightly in a long ponytail. His eyes were blue, and he looked very tense. Reddish blond stubble gave him a minor goatee. And its existence seemed welcome, because he seemed to have taken the time to shave the stubble from his upper lip. There was a small cut mark, dry blood forming a scab.
Leslie followed him in. Normally, I would have assumed she was a dyke, except that the standards of my brother's friends seemed very odd. She promptly pulled off the wig, revealing a messy crop of short, bright pink hair. A grin, akin to that of Jack Nicholson's Joker, was on her cherubic face. Lots of leftover baby fat.
I paid nearly no attention to the Oriental young woman from the group of three, who was wiggling out of her boots.
I watched as the blond beau shed his coat, and put it on a hanger in the closet. Then, I saw the short, dry hairs on the back of his neck, on either side of his ponytail, stand up on end. He turned around and stared straight up at me, giving me a distinctly disturbing, wide-eyed look. Every mole on his face seemed exactly where it was meant to be. This one was a mystery to me.
"CJ," I whispered, for his ears alone.
He kept staring at me, unflinching, gaze unbroken. However, I was sure that his upper lip had begun to twitch. His eyes fixed to mine. Deep, black holes at their centre that seemed to run right through him and right through me, hollow and empty. And in that thick ring of blue, I noticed little specks of rusty yellow. At that point, my stomach lurched. It all became unbearable, so I fled up the stairs. Alone.
My heart was racing when I got into my room, my sanctuary, and closed the door. On the back of my door, a poster of Legolas stood vigilant. Resemblance forced me to avert my eyes. I tried to think, yet my mind was a blank canvas with no paint within reach, a blank cassette recording nothing.
I was overwhelmed.
Finally, I got up the nerve to do what I always do in times of crisis. I knelt upon my bed and prayed. I don't believe in a God who hates. And I've read the Bible, and so I know what David did with that shepherd boy. He 'exceeded ' himself.
I was, still, overwhelmed.