Gentry pulled away in disgust, though at what he wasn’t sure. Zach let him slip away, then restlessly pounded another poster to the wall.
“You like me.” Gentry said softly, yet with such easy certainty that Zach only scoff and reply,
“I’d like you more if you had a black eye.”
“Then punch me.”
An old French-fry container rolled along the pavement; Carried by the wind, rolling along the pavement like an awkward passerby.
Zach apathetically watched it tumble by, as Gentry shifted to another part of the wall.
Assuming his position on the pavement, against the rays of the setting sun, the red-headed fiend kept silent and soundless save for the pacing of his footsteps accross the dusty ground. A soft, serpentine rhythm honed by years of watching every step. It was more than likely that he was avoiding the cracks, watching his feet and wondering whether or not to turn around and saunter off into the setting sun. Nah, Zach thought. He wouldn’t leave.
Things were just getting started.
“Why would the GSA want to associate gays with our school mascot?”
Zach knew it. He just knew he’d ask something. He had counted all 63 seconds. He counted 36 more seconds before replying:
“Why would the Swim Team?”
“Because we’re officially part of Kennedy?”
Zach snorted contemptuously and allowed himself to glance derisively at the tidy stack of Swim Team posters Gentry now held in his arms.
“The GSA is as official as the Swim Team.”
“The GSA is only a club, not a team.”
“A team and a club are the exact same thing.”
They weren’t anything special: A stylized picture of a knight against the bright red background of the cheap paper. “Nationals 6/18” loomed as the headline, printed in large gothic typeface that took in half the poster.
“Whatever, you’re not hanging these up here. I have permission from the office to hang up---“
Gentry ripped off one rainbow-colored GSA poster and pushed his to the bricks before Zach’s wide-eyed scorn, “Give it up already.” Zach grabbed Gentry’s wrist, “Don’t rip off my posters.”
Gentry easily shook him off, “Watch it faggot, you’re still part of the swim team. You should know that we have permission to hang these up for Nationals.”
Another moment of silence crept through the empty schoolyard. The sun came down and the dusk rose up, clouding the view in its hazy, unclear splendor.
“Fine.” Zach’s voice shot through the quiet, “But you only get half of the library, because I have a form that gives me permission to put posters anywhere on the library.”
“I also put dates on all the posters to mark when they get ripped off. And according to school rules, approved posters can stay up for at least a week; So don’t try anything.”
“Wow, Zach. Dates. If that won’t kill homophobia, nothing will.”
“Don’t mock me.”
“You’re mocking yourself. You’re the one who said you’d be a faggot and a swimmer, and no one could make you choose. But now you’re last place in the team and hanging up posters for no credit in the GSA. You can’t expect to gain from wasting your time, except mockery.”
Zach didn’t reply, glowering with muted indignation as Gentry removed the posters from his half of the library and hung up the Knight ones. The sound of double-sided ductape smacking off the rough red bricks made him cringe. It went on for about a minute, and the rage simmered until he just had to shoot his mouth off,
“I make sacrifices, but you have to if you want to stand for something. I don’t need credit or crap like that, I’m doing this because I believe in it. And someone in this school needs to be dedicated to something, not just do it to pad their College applications.”
“Because I can.”
“You need to fight for your interests. Jesus ended up Crucified.”
“He also ended up with a large following.”
“Yeah, but you’re not Jesus. You’re black and gay.”
“Half black, and it’s none of your business what I want to do with my time. I’m not Jesus, I’m Zach, and there’s life after high school which I am not going to spend fitting into other peoples’ standards and expectations.” Zach replied tirelessly, as Gentry pounded another poster to the bricks.
“Ok. Whatever you say, Zach.”
“I’ll do what’s right and needs to be done, no matter who thinks it’s wrong.”
In response Gentry just furrowed his brows, rolled his eyes and forcefully exhaled all at once.
“Also, hanging up posters gives me time to think things through. That’s how I figured out what you did to Nilla. You wanted him out because he had something on you, right? Casey thinks you were kicked out, and, if that’s true, you probably don’t live in the district. If that was discovered by someone like Nilla, you would have been transferred to another school and not been able to swim in Nationals. According to the school rules, senior privilege would be up to Nilla to decide. He decided against you, so, you chose to kick him out. But you didn’t plan for your dad to replace him. Yet, even that worked out in your favor because he can’t kick you out without looking bad.” He paused, reaching for a reply then irritably grumbling on when none came, “But you aren’t as slick as you think. It wasn’t planning, it was luck that Kylie left her cellphone in the office.”
Gentry took in the explanation, then gave a curt nod, “So?”
So. What kind of answer was that?
Zach pushed another poster to the bricks and leered at him, grudgingly probing further,
“Are you proud of yourself?”
But not too far, he didn’t want to give him undeserved attention.
“You talk too much.”
“Answer me. Was it worth it?”
“Was it or wasn’t it? Make up your mind.”
“You made it up for me. You think I did something horrible, I can’t force you to think differently. And I don’t want to, because I’m not sorry for what I did.”