Something was brewing in the air today.
Wednesday, being in the middle of the week, always had that potential of being a very good day or a very bad day.
And today, something was brewing.
With thinly veiled discontent, Zach noticed that his locker had been raided and everything in it now lay soaking in the showers.
The heavy steam pressed against his cheeks, water noisily splashing against soggy paper, notebooks and running shoes.
But he wasn’t about to get mad. Well, visibly mad. No… that’s what they wanted. Some Knights these were. Rules were rules, vandalism was vandalism, but only if you were caught. The coach always promised he’d punish the culprit, but that never happened. It was too much trouble to penetrate a team that stuck together so closely. Every now and then Zach fought the urge to jump on the table and yell this was wrong, shout it so the whole school could hear.
But that wouldn’t work either. The school was selectively deaf.
Gentry was talking by some lockers, but it was evident that he wasn’t listening to Sydney, Ethan, and the others just as much as they weren’t listening to him. They talked past each other, exchanging meaningless and half-assed conversation for the sake of reminding each other that they were, in fact, a team; and if they ever needed to, they could turn to each other.
Zach felt a tingle of temptation to throw a soggy book at them and remind them what kind of a team they were. But he didn’t.
Instead, he grimly reasoned that beating up Mikey was the best thing Gentry could have done to endear himself to the so-called team, and assure them of the fact that he was not gay. Now they hailed him as their homophobic hero, suspended for defending his right not to get gay cooties.
It was disturbing how people could get a situation so wrong.
As a consequence, and a misplaced show of support or possibly an excuse to give into darker temptations, homophobia was more dominant than before.
“Swim team meeting, come on, sit down,” Gentry called in his low-voiced monotone, holding open the door to the pool. Sunlight flooded in, and the team flowed out. Zach trailed after them, wishing for just one moment he could give in to Casey’s desire to rig the diving board.
Rig it, just do it.
Give them a taste of their own medicine.
Smart tactics there, repeating it every fucking day. Zach scoffed at this suggestion--- he wouldn’t do that, of course, no matter how much that gang of chest-thumping homophobes deserved it. It wasn’t right to use those tactics, and he couldn’t give into the temptation of employing them.
Oh, but today… today was particularily tempting.
Today was the once-weekly team meeting, and Zach nervously eyed the big white clock behind the coach’s head. Time for another wonderful speech about “stepping on the enemy’s goggles” and other ways to demoralize them without breaking the rules during Nationals. Gentry leaned against the table beside the coach, standing like a wax candle in the sweltering sunlight. He was getting a sunburn and looked positively ill, but that didn’t stop him from brashly adding tough-guy suggestions, such as how you could “accidentally” kick their swim bags into the pool or slip laxatives into the drinking water. At times he seemed to be joking, but the coach didn’t pick up on it.
“Shove them into the water when no one’s looking.”
“Choke them with your bare hands.”
“Yes. See team, you have to completely demoralize them if you wanted to win, declare total war…”
“Gentry, do you have any other suggestions?”
“Piss on anything they leave in the locker room.”
The team laughed loudly at Gentry’s suggestion, save for Zach. He promptly stood up, and Gentry immediately fell silent.
“Zach?” the coach said sternly, glaring him down. The team followed his lead.
“Where are you going?” It was not a question. It was a demand to sit down.
“GSA is holding their officer elections. I’m a lover, not a fighter. Have fun with your total war.” he replied, pulling his swim bag over his shoulder.
The team groaned and booed, but Zach ignored them.