A dull thud rings out as I am thrown violently against the high school’s metal lockers and my books fall to the floor. An arm pressed to my throat cuts off any protests. Jerome, Desert Christian High School’s (private Christian academy) biggest bully, snarls in my ear as I try to escape. I am here once again after school because the two of us just left our English class. Jerome, big, built, blonde hair, typical jock look, pushes me around every day for one very stupid reason.
“Thought you could make a fool of me, huh? Think again, you fag.” Jerome growls.
“I didn’t mean t-” I start but Jerome cuts me off.
“I don’t care what you meant.” He says.
Jerome slams me back again against the cold metal doors.
“How’s your boyfriend, fag? I heard he’s dead now. That true? Heard it was your fault, heard you killed him. Bet he’s in Hell, screwing the devil himself. Don’t ya think so? Probably hates you for what you’ve done to him, don’t ya think? Is it true, did ya kill him?” Jerome laughs as I whimper. For the past three years I’ve been tormented relentlessly by this bully but it hurts each time he brings up my ex.
“Please, just let me go.” I beg, tears threatening to escape.
Jerome says nothing; only punches me in the stomach. A shout from down the empty hall causes the angry bully to pull away from me and I slump slightly in relief, but I know better than to run away. I look toward the voice and see the new student, Caine, marching towards us in anger. As I watch, I take in the new guys features. He has dark brown hair that hangs to his ears, stunning, bright blue eyes, light brown stubble, barely noticeable, and a slight tan. He is built, but not huge; lean. He’s a bit taller than Jerome and he looks much stronger.
“Why don’t you leave the man alone?” Caine demands of Jerome.
“Hey, you’re the new guy, ain’t ya?” Jerome asks, feigning amusement.
“Yeah, what’s your point?” Caine asks, stepping closer.
“Well, you’re new here, you don’t know this kid, but I do, so, let me tell ya somethin’.” Jerome starts, placing an arm across my shoulder. “He is what we here call a ‘fag’. He’s gay, he’s an outcast. He screws and gets screwed in the ass. He ain’t worth your time. Guys like him; they go to Hell for their actions. They deserve to be punished.” Jerome explains.
“Also, because he’s high and I pissed him off in class.” I manage, trying to look stronger, which earns me an elbow in my ribs.
Caine’s nostrils flare and momentarily there’s a furious fire in his eyes, but he stamps it down and regains his calm composure. “I am guessing you have a problem with gays then?” He asks.
“Damn right I do. They’re disgusting, murderous, sinful, sorry excuses for human beings!” Jerome states hatefully shaking me roughly.
I shiver at his degrading words and Caine snaps. I can see it in his eyes. He grabs Jerome by the collar and throws him against the wall opposite of the lockers.
“We of the gay community are usually the nicest people you could ever meet, whereas straight fuckers like you are the ones who parade around killing, beating, degrading innocent human beings whose only crime is love. You people of the straight community put us down, threaten us, and yet you call us the sorry ones, the sinful ones, the disgusting ones. You are beating up an innocent human being now all because he has a boyfriend. That, my friend, is disgusting, not some man loving another.” Caine snarls in the bully’s ear.
My eyes widen as his words register in my mind and the only thing that I can comprehend is; he’s gay. Holy shit, he’s gay.
“You’re wrong. Even if all that was true, this one here, he’s still not innocent. He had partner once but the other fag is dead; rumor has it that he was killed by his own boyfriend here. So tell me he’s innocent. Or do you defend murderers as well?” Jerome spits back and I flinch as if I had been slapped.
Caine grabs Jerome by his shirt again and punches him across the jaw. He lets him go and the bully swings a fist towards Caine but he catches it, twisting Jerome’s wrist. Jerome yelps in pain and surprise and tries to kick him instead but Caine again catches Jerome, kicking his legs out from under him. He kneels down with a knee on Jerome’s chest looking down into the bully’s wide brown eyes.
“You will leave him and every other student here alone, or next time I will not go so easy on you; got that? I do nottolerate bullying of any kind towards anyone,” Caine growls.
“Alright, man, fine; whatever you say; fine.” Jerome says and stands up to stomp away.
Caine turns and his eyes trail over me, looking for injuries.
“You didn’t have to do that.” I say, standing straight as well.
“Yes, I did. As I said, I don’t tolerate bullying; especially when it comes to stuff like that.” He replies, standing with me and handing me my things.
“Right, well, thank you. Uhm, Caine, right?” I ask, putting everything in my bag.
“Yeah, it is. What’s yours?” He asks, falling in step beside me as I walk away.
“My name is Jared.” I answer simply.
“Jared; I like that.” Caine smirks. I blush under his compliment. “So, do you drive? Because I’m pretty sure the busses are gone by now.” He adds.
“Uhm, well, I do drive, but I don’t have a car or anything. I guess, uhm, I’ll have to see if my mum can come pick me up.” I answer sheepishly.
“Well, I could drive you; if you don’t mind of course. I mean, I’m new here, so it’d be nice to make some friends before it ends.” Caine offers.
Oh, so that’s what this is about. “Look, I appreciate all of it, I do, but I don’t need your pity. I have friends here, so I don’t need someone pretending out of pity.” I say.
“I am not doing this out of pity, I swear it. You’re a cool guy, and so far the only other gay one I’ve met here, so I know you can relate there. I lost my boyfriend last year and apparently so have you... I understand though.” Caine explains.
I sigh. The entire time we talk tears trail down my face and I desperately try to hide them, but he eventually notices. He stops in front of me and places a firm hand on my shoulder. “Are you alright?” He asks me. I nod, unable to speak. “Hey, whatever he said back there, I am pretty sure it’s not true and you should ignore it. You shouldn’t let dicks like him get to you, no matter what they say.” He says. I shake my head.
“No, it was my fault. I did kill him.” I choke out, sitting on the floor against a white wall.
“Well do you want to tell me about it?” He asks soothingly, kneeling beside me.
I shake my head no, realizing my slip-up, but I speak anyways, making a recovery. “It was three years ago. We-we were driving home from the school dance. We had both been drinking, me not as much, but enough, and so I was driving. We were holding hands, talking about the future, about the dance, and more. I took my eyes off the road to tell him I love him, and because I was drinking, I couldn’t control it. I hit a huge deer... the car, it was a small thing, it-it careened around and flipped, landing in a ditch. We both hit head first on the roof of it. H-he was bleeding so much. I knew he was almost dead; there was no help for him... I-I didn’t know what to do, so I ran. I ran away and called the cops. I left him all alone.” By that point I was sobbing; my hands covering my face, and my shoulders shaking uncontrollably. My story has flaws and it is obvious I made it up; if anyone else ever noticed, they never pointed it out.
“Wow, I am so sorry Jared.” Caine sighs, putting an arm around my shoulders. “You don’t deserve guilt for that.” He adds. Wow, even new guy believes it.
“It’s my fault though. There are so many ifs. ‘If’ I hadn’t been drinking, ‘if’ I hadn’t been driving, ‘if’ I hadn’t looked away......‘if’ I hadn’t left him.” I choke on another sob.
“No, you made a stupid mistake, yes, but you shouldn’t let that control your life. I know it must be hard, but do you really think he’d want you to live off of guilt?” Caine says in comfort.
‘Probably...’ I think silently. “No, no he wouldn’t, but it’s hard to let go when I am reminded every single day. What if he blames me for what I did? What if he is watching me and thinking that I deserve this guilt? Jerome reminds me of that every day.” I sniffle.
“Jerome...he won’t be bothering you again, I’ll make sure of it.” Caine assures. “No one deserves what you’re going through and I highly doubt that your boyfriend blames you.”
“Thank you...” I sigh, standing up and wiping my face. My cheeks burn hot with embarrassment and shame.
“No problem, man. Come on, I’ll drive you home.” He says leading me to the student parking.
“Thank you.” I say again following behind him.
When we get out to the parking lot, Caine stands proudly in front of a large black hummer. There are red stripes painted across the roof and hood of it along with huge wheels and dark tinted windows. I whistle, impressed. “This is yours?” I ask in awe.
“Yeah, I worked five years to get this baby. I’m nineteen now so I started working and saving money at the age of fourteen. It was used of course, I’d never have enough for a new one, but I’ve fixed her up quite a bit.” He says proudly.
“Wow, why so early?” I ask, settling in when he unlocks the doors.
“Well, I, uh, came from a poor family so my parents always encouraged me to save money, so that’s what I did. I didn’t get the idea to buy a car with the money I saved until last year though.” He explains.
“Nice. And thank you, for everything you’ve said. My mum, she’s been there for me, trying to help me through everything, but she’s been so busy herself that I never really see her and it’s just me and her at home. I’ve never really had anyone to talk to about the-the wreck. I have my best friend, Rebecca, but I tend to avoid the subject as much as possible.” I tell him.
“There’s no need to thank me. I’m glad to help anyone who’s down.” Cain smiles my way.
I start to feel a flutter in my chest. I like this guy. He’s so kind and helped a complete stranger when he had no reason to. I smile shyly back at him and blush. He’s so cute too. I turn my eyes to my lap and we continue the ride with me giving him directions every so often. He holds his bright smile the whole time, asking about me, what I like, what I dislike, etc., and telling me about himself.
Eventually we pull up to my yard and he stops. We sit there for a moment in awkward silence before I finally speak up. “Thanks for the ride, I really appreciate it; all of it, I mean.” I say, opening the passenger door. But before I step out Cain lays a hand on mine to still me. I turn to look and he’s got a fond look in his eyes.
“Jared, I, uhm, I’ll be here for you if you ever need to talk to someone, okay? I kinda of like you, and I want to be able to help.”
“Yeah, okay, thank you... It means a lot.” I answer honestly. I exit the monster vehicle to go home.