So there they had been.
In front of the entire school. In the back of the hallway crowd. In front of his locker. In the back of his mind; leaving behind a bitter taste at the back of his mouth and a heated word at the tip of his tongue.
Confusing, conflicting emotions coursed though him, screeching out over anything around him. In response he could only numbly sit in his seat and endure the ride.
“We weren’t swapping spit,”
“Whatever you’re swapping, I don’t want it on my locker.”
“If that’s what you call swapping spit, then you don’t know what swapping spit is.”
Why there. Weren’t there any bathroom stalls or blue-tiled locker rooms available?
“They’re good kids. Sometimes they’re so stupid… but I love them.”
He was in literature class now, but his mind wasn’t…
It was amazing how quickly and easily you could hate someone. Not dislike; hate. Gentry knew the difference, since he hated everything about Mikey. It was no longer a preference; it was an emotion he couldn’t control.
Triggered by that too-slow voice, that gaping mouth bug-eyed glare with a vacant expression that coordinated so well with the meticulously groomed hair and form-fitting clothes. He hated his words, his ideas, the way he faked his way to goldenboy status.
“They call me Daddy. I always go No I’m not, but they inisist. I have experience with kids because my relatives used to have me babysit.”
“The kids must love you.”
Is there anyone they wouldn’t?
“You know what I believe?” said Mikey, “I believe in being yourself.”
“As long as you’re yourself, you will stay true to that. Be real, don’t BS, don’t fake…”
He talks like a politician.
Why doesn’t anyone see through this? Why don't you, Zach?
“What if it’s your personality to fake things.”
No response. Gentry spoke up with renewed resolve,
“What if all you know how to do is bullshit people?”
Grudgingly, Mikey looked to him.
“Excuse me--- this is a private conversation.”
As private as your sex life.
“The whole class can hear it.”
“Gentry,” interrupted Kylie, “What’s your problem? First you call Sydney gay, now this..? Homophobia is gay, you know---”
“Hey Kylie, just leave him,” said Mikey, “It’s apparent he has his own issues to deal with.”
“Issues?” he stood up and leaned over the table, “And which issues would those be?”
The tension was drawn out into a point. Mikey glanced to Gentry, seeing not fear or passionate loathing in those murky eyes but amusement. Amusement? He’d give him something to be amused about.
The room fell silent.
Razor-thin barriers shattered to tiny pieces, any constraints were stripped.
“Zach told me. Everyone knows, and if they don’t, they should.” Mikey continued, “Your denial is only hurting you. Maybe if you would’ve been more open, Zach wouldn’t have come to me---”
He was cut off by a left hook to the mouth. And just as he stumbled backwards, Gentry threw him another punch. One followed the other in liquid motion, raining down onto the skin and carving out tender red marks. Filling the air with the smell of fear, filling his dry mouth with the bile that burnt up the back of his throat.
Hurling him to the ground, kicking, screaming and stomping him.
He didn’t know what took over… he didn’t know. He didn’t want to know, he wanted him to hurt. Wanted him to taste pain before dishing it up.And all he could hear was the screeching of his own voice, unable to yell anything except