Friday, May 30, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 10

“So that’s why you called me? Give it here.”
“Then why’d you invite me here? To insult me?”
Gentry placed the book in the middle of the table, and hesitated in replying as he thoughtfully leaning his face on his fists.

“I like you.”

The air was tense for a moment, and all at once warm and hazy. Hot, bothered, sick and sultry, yet… it was all right. Zach crossed his arms and tilted his head to one side, like a bird pondering whether or not to dive for a crumb.
“You have a funny way of showing it. Excuse me if I believe that you have more than literature on your mind.”
“Can you blame me?”
Zach scoffed, “Cut it out. I have a boyfriend now. If you’re expecting anything, don’t.”
“Who said I was expecting anything?”
“I just did, because you’d never help me in lit just because you like me. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Gentry watched him for a brief but critical moment. Zach stared right back at him, one hand on the doorknob. With no sound other than a quiet sigh, Gentry rose from his seat and walked over.
It was uncomfortable, but… something was happening. Better than nothing.
It lit the air with excitement, and the selfish joy which Zach mentally condemmed as he followed him with his eyes, gut twisting and turning into tight little knots, the heat of his body only quenched by the cold sweat that broke over the back of his neck. He hated unpredictable moments like this, but craved them all the same.
All too comfortably, Gentry slid his hands over his tense shoulders, and teasingly leaned in to his ear. A feverish warmth radiated from him, enough to make Zach lightheaded.
“Do you want me to make a catch that isn’t there?”
Zach didn’t look at him, but he knew there was a smirk in his eyes and an unspoken desire on his lips. That was always there, the suggestion. The suggestion that any second he could jump him, or dive the way he did in the bathroom. It drove him crazy, that careless, carnal unpredictability…
Gentry sighed, and the warm air tickled his inner shell.
“Fine.” He growled, pulling away.
Zach continued to follow him with his eyes, apprehensively taking in every moment with a judicial, thin-lipped frown. But that judgemental face was an act, because sex appeal wasn’t right nor wrong, legal nor illegal. It just was.
Gentry leaned against the desk and slid a metal ruler out of his backpack. He turned it in his scarred hands, and hit it against the table with a resounding thud, before rubbing his palm down the length.

“Take off those jeans and bend over the table.”

“… What?”

“You heard me.” Gentry murmured as he slid the ruler under Zach’s chin, propped it up and leaning in to those wide blue eyes, “And take off your boxers, too.”
“You’re not serious.”
“I am. And I don’t care if you have a boyfriend; I just want to spank you, then collar and whip you mercilessly. You’ve figured me out--- I have nothing better to do than force you into sexual slavery with my superior lit skills. Maybe I rigged your grade in the office; maybe this is all part of an even more elaborate plan...”
Zach knocked the ruler out of Gentry’s hands and irately pulled away. His features contorted into a grimace of disgust, with eyes narrowed and lips turned down in a snarl of disbelief.
“Is this your idea of a joke?”
“What do you think?” came the tart reply. At least one person was enjoying themselves.
“Very funny.” Zach said in a tone that conveyed the opposite.
“The look your face sure was.”
Gentry eased himself up onto the table, dangling his legs off the edge.
“You know, I can’t force you to do something you don’t want to.”
“Good, because---”
“---it takes two to cheat. If you can’t trust me, then leave. I think you can’t trust yourself. Though I’m doing you a favor, something your so-called boyfriend isn’t.”
“I don’t want favors. I’ll pay you, how much do you charge?”
“Why not.”
“Because. Take it or leave it.”
Zach furrowed his brow in sober contemplation. He was calculating his reply, turning it over in every which way.
“…You’re going to use this for blackmail, aren’t you.”
Gentry wordlessly dragged himself out of his seat. He gave a clipped goodbye, then slung his backpack over his one shoulder.


This time, it was Zach. Like a beleaguered choir boy, he leveled a wary glance and allowed himself a deep breath. He felt a little silly now that he had Gentry’s strained attention. Every spotless, starched, and stiff aspect of it--- if there was anyone who could play cool, it was Gentry. But despite it all, he lingered there.
“I trust you.”

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 9

Libraries. Now that was one place Zach never pictured himself venturing into on his own free will. A room that smelled of old ink, lemon air freshener and dead trees. There they were, in every corner. Globs of text seeping from pages and pages of…He took a deep breath and shoved open the door, ducking in just before it slammed. Shelves and more shelves of typed hell loomed before him, and somewhere in this bookish wasteland loomed the librarian. Zach wasn’t claustrophobic before, but he was now. A piece of aluminum string was caught in the fan, and whipped against it in a soft hiss. Eying it irritably, Zach put his hands in his pockets and watched his feet as he trudged past the librarian’s abandoned counter, passing by the crammed metal shelves. Jagged book edges stood out against the ledge, and the clammy smell of bookjackets wafted through the musty air.

Soon enough he found the study room: two metal-frame doors pushed between a wall of books. And there sat Gentry, hunched over a book, a hand buried in his hair, eyes taking in rows and rows of cryptical text. But it was unusual to see him so immersed in anything, and Zach almost felt embaressed for intruding.
When the door slammed he looked up, only to look away a second later and focus on the area of space behind Zach’s shoulder.
“Surprised you showed up.” he said, after a tense moment of deliberation.
“Me too.”
Though now that he thought about it, not really.
One hand rested on the doorhandle while the other tensely held his backpack over his shoulder: ready to flee at any moment. The clock ticked so loudly, tick tock tick tock, and the room was so quiet that the carpet seemed to chirp and rustle.
“Well?” said Gentry, “I don’t have all day. What are you reading for lit?”
“First tell me why you called me here.”
“That should be obvious. You’re failing, aren’t you?”
Zach didn’t answer that.
“You are, just say so.”
“---Don’t assume things.”
Murky eyes disdainfully reflected the rainbow wristband on Zach’s limp wrist, then looked away.
“I’m not assuming anything. I work in the office, I knew it even before you yelled it out.”
“If you know I’m failing, why did you ask?” He murmured tensely, wondering why exactly Gentry had shown up. What was he trying to pull?
“Not important. I’ve written essays before; you’re not the first person I’ve done this for. So think before you run, since I can get you an A.”
Zach scoffed, “At what price?”
“If you know anything, don’t ask me to set it.”
Zach threw his hands in the air, “I don’t even know why I came here.”
His arm jerked back as it yanked open the door.
A tense silence descended on the room. Gentry’s tone was clipped, and raised ever so slightly. Zach noted this amidst the drum-like beating of his heart, which rumbled through his senses.
“You lost this.”
Gentry held up the book, clenched tight in one reddened hand. A reminder for Zach not to leave as well as an insistance for him to stay.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 8

“Well Zach, good to see you made it to class. Will you stay this time?” joked Mr.Handson, and Zach sunk into his seat. The students smiled amongst themselves. Zach cast him a level look, deciding that it would have been more appropriate for Mr.Handson to give that jab in Algebra, where the incident had actually occurred. But who cared, this guy was so incompetent that the material merged and melted together in a heaping pile…
“I’ll stay until I get my diploma, you’re staying until you get your pension.”
“What was that?” Mr.Handson raised an eyebrow.
“I’ll be out of here in two years. You won’t.”
There was an uncomfortable silence, and Mr.Handson turned to the board.
“Take out your books.”
Zach fumbled in his backpack, only to come up with nothing. Oh well.
“Wuthering Heights.” Mr.Handson paused unenthusiastically, “One of the classic British novels of the 19th Century…”
Literature was boring. He knew he would fail and take it over the summer, and in the back of his mind he figured he should drop the Goddam class already…
But that would mean running away, and after the F Incident, that was what They wanted. They wanted to see him run away in fear, publically fail and walk with his gaze perched a little lower. But they wouldn’t get that, not even over his own dead body. So he sat there in all of his stubborn pride, not learning anything nor caring to.
“Now, you might be curious why I have selected this book, of all books…”
“Because you have bad taste.” Zach thought to himself. It was reduncent to say so, it was freaking obvious. He had no curiosity for this Wuthering Heights; hah-pah, he’d read the first twenty pages and they sucked.
Even though he wasn’t entirely sure why, he still did his homework. That fact filled him with a stubborn pride, which had remained even after he calculated that he could at best average a C- by the end of the year. Yet laziness would be admitting failure… and failure was one F word Zach couldn’t accept. There were deters and there were victories, but Zach Tyler did not fail.
Well, his current “reading response” had received a B-.
There, at the bottom of the last page was written “Do not write in red ink. -5 pts… 20/25”
Fuck it.
Handson drawled tediously onwards, “There is a curiosity in the text relating to the personification of buildings.”
The only curiosity that gnawing at Zach’s mind now was what was on that paper…
Probably nothing important.
Probably a belated “hey, let’s fuck in public someplace sometime.” Pah.
No, that probably wasn’t it. Gentry wouldn’t waste paper for that, he would probably sashay around in those tight swimtrunks of his, throw his head back in the shower and slowly peel down the soaking spandex…
Not a good thought to think in Lit.

Guinea pigs.

Gnawing, chomping, black-eyed oversized rodents…
“… it is a book of a torrid romance…”
“Romance is only interesting if you’re living it.” Zach thought to himself, as he reached into his packpack and discreetly pulled out the note. With a mixture of reluctance and unrelenting curiosity, he unfurled what had once been a starchy white, neatly folded paper and glanced at the message. In crisp, tidy letters was written, with painful precision and right angles:

“Library. 4:00 PM.”

Friday, May 23, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 7

Note: Zach uses the word "deserve" a lot throughout BYS. That's a main difference between him and Gentry. Zach believes in a structured world order where people get what they deserve if they do certain (right or wrong) things. Gentry believes that no one deserves everything, and that people should take whatever they can get (that's why he thinks people don't "deserve", but "want" things.)

The lunch bell blared through the cafeteria, and Zach slid his barely-touched meal into the trash. Then he pulled himself out of his seat and slung his battered black backpack over his shoulder, starting to wind through the crowd. He stopped abruptly by the events board.

A pink Kennedy Knight GSA flyer stared back at him.
Come to the GSA! Make Friends and Stop Social Injustice!
It fluttered loosely on one corner, but stubbornly clung to the wall (apparently, someone had tried to rip it off. But it didn’t work, since he always taped down all the edges.)
Zach looked away. He had stopped attending three days ago. An inkling of vanity hoped they would notice.

“I deserve better than this.” He thought grudgingly to himself, as the lunch hour stampeded past him in a mad dash for class. No one was particularily eager to return, but during lunch you were not allowed to run or Mrs.Nasty would yell at you.
The edge of the poster flapped, but remained stubbornly glued to the wall.
“Why don’t they want me. I was a good member, even better than Mikey. Better than Casey.”
An array of striped backpacks and fake-fur collars stampeded by.
“I’m the best damn gay in this school, why don’t they want me. That makes no sense.”

He finally narrowed it down to the diving board he hadn’t rigged. That had to be it, because there was an answer for everything. And that had been important; you had to show your colors and carefully choose which bridge to burn. You had to pull one for the team, you needed to sacrifice. But his mind still burned with the reasoning that this was the wrong team and the wrong sacrifice. Well then, where was the right team?

“I don’t know. I don’t fucking know.”
But if there was one thing he did, it was that he didn’t need them anyway. He had been alone in Estonia, he had been alone in the Swim team, and the GSA was no different. Loneliness was a part of life, and it hurt. But this motherfucker wasn’t going down, hells no. What didn’t kill him made him stronger, and what made him stronger ensured he wouldn’t get killed. The fact remained that with all the ups and downs, he was still here.
A navy of one in a big blue brick ocean, tired of fighting but too stubborn to surrender.
Once the janitor looked away, he would retreat to the bathroom stall to rethink, re-strategize…

Gentry sailed past him, trailing just a little behind his lunch group. He exchanged a fleeting look with Zach, who them abruptly turned away and headed for the door.
But before he could move one step he was yanked back by the waistline of his jeans.
“Fuck off.” He growled under his breath.
Gentry shoved Zach against the edge and wordlessly slipped a note onto the table, pushing it towards Zach. He then pulled away, rejoining the herd and catching up with the lunch group before they noticed he’d been gone.
The note lay on the table, an immaculate white square.
Zach palmed it, crumpled it up, and tossed it in his backpack.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 6

Ok, get this.” Kylie’s voice rang across the cafeteria, “My grandmother came home for her 91st birthday, and her spine is slowly disintegrating and collapsing in on itself.”
Zach sat in his lonely corner, unwilling to go to the GSA or sit with the Seniors. He picked at his food and listened as Jenny drawled out “ewww” and giggled.
“Oh my God,” said Kylie, “I know! I was like… why are you even here? I didn’t ask, of course, but I almost did. She told us about her disintegrating spine like six times, and over dinner. She’s in really bad shape… I was like, ok, what’s the point of you being here…”
“Yeah, that’s so gay,” murmured Mike, leaning over from the swim class table. Zach hadn’t heard him say those words, he’d just assumed it through Kylie’s overdone reaction. Beware the angered fag-hag.
Her eyes bulged as she promptly slung her feet over the bench, “Homophobia is gay.”
Mike recoiled, taken aback, and asked in his after-lunch stupor, “Wait, wouldn’t that mean gays are homophobes?”
The déjà vu hit him like a fever. Gentry almost slapped his forehead, and Zach groaned inwardly at the way Kylie squeaked back how homophobia was gay, but gays were not homophobic. Lords, some days…
“… ohh. Ok, I get it.”
“He doesn’t.” Gentry murmured with a sigh. It was quiet, a near-whisper, but Zach picked it up over the noise of the cafeteria. When you were really quiet, you could pull sounds apart and recycle them in your mind.
“No, I do.” Stressed Mike, “Kylie, I think it’s cool that you do what you believe in.”
“Awwe thanks you’re so sweet. I just think it’s important to respect people who are different, because we’re really all the same. We’re humans, and we should treat each other with the dignity everyone deserves.”
Gentry played with his food.
“No one deserves anything. They just want things.”
“… huh?” asked Kylie, ripping into one of Mike’s chicken nuggets.
Gentry shrugged nonchalantly, so she just laughed and went on.
“Well either way. Like, almost all my friends are gay. They’re fabulous. In fact, I want to get a gay roommate in college, because I think that might be better. We’d totally hit it off.”

Monday, May 19, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 5

At the other end of the caftereia, amidst the crowd yet detached from everyone and everything, Zach sat in a corner with his cheek on one fist. Thinking, deliberating, detached from everything.

A pig.

Zach scoffed to himself at the pink monstrosity he had stuffed in his locker. It didn’t feel right to take it home, so it stayed there like grotesque Lord of the Flies reference… fucking pig.

Yet, in all fairness, he quietly questioned himself why he was so annoyed at this. First off, it wasn’t a cheap stuffed animal--- according to an online search, it cost $35 plus tax. That was a good price, but still cheap enough to buy something back so that the relationship cash balance would remain even. Good.
Besides, Mikey had no way of knowing that the only thing he hated more than guinea pigs were stuffed animals. That fact had never been established or so much as hinted at.
And theoretically, it was the thought that counted, and the thought was good enough.
Besides. Mikey hadn’t rigged the elections meeting, either…
Sure; he hadn’t spoken up against Casey’s bullshit, but he hadn’t rigged anything.

So, in summation, all signs said that the pig was an appropriate present and that his own reaction was inappropriate. Then, if propriety was good, impropriety was bad, so hating the pig was not only unfair, but bad.

Well. Try applying logic to feelings.
Logically, he should take the pig home and love it the way he ought to love a thoughtfully selected present from his “boyfriend.” Yet he could hardly stand to look at it, much less have it touching his stuff…

“This is crazy. Maybe I’m trying to justify myself.” Zach reasoned, weighing it along with other options.
“Well… I’m not limited to marrying my high school sweetheart. Nothing that’s established here will last forever--- In fact, it will end when I go to college. At least I won’t miss him when I graduate. Mikey is ok.”
But Mikey wasn’t Gentry.
Perhaps it was some pathetic idea of a Divine joke to have a rival that was a firecracker in bed, had a tongue that could cut glass, and possessed a mind like a time bomb--- yet was also one of the most thoroughly despicable people Zach had ever had the displeasure of meeting.
At least he wasn’t boring, maybe he could keep him on the side.
No. That was wrong.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 4

“You heard me,” contened Sydney, leveling the disbelief with a sneer, “Gentry had his tongue down that faggot’s throat.”
“Yeah, fuck--- oh, hey Gentry.”
“…Yeah… Hey.” Ethan sputtered as Gentry slid into his seat, followed by the rest of the team.
“Sup.” Replied Gentry, putting a straw in his strawberry milk, which now seemed particularily gay to Sydney’s unflinching glare.
Gentry unwrapped his straw and took a few half-hearted sips, before raising his eyes and tersely speaking up,
“Say something or stop staring.”
“Since when do you drink strawberry milk?”
“Every Friday since freshman year.”
Ethan laughed nervously, “Man… it’s pink.”
“Yeah, so?”
“Maybe he should be drinking the chocolate milk,” Sydney goaded, “that’s the kind he really likes.”
Gentry pulled his mouth off the straw, coolly glanced up and said, “I don’t tell you what to drink, so either shut up about it or fuck off.”
The other teammates exchanged uncomfortably unsure glances, until Kylie drifted by the table, slammed down her tray and slid next to Gentry, followed by Jenny and some other girl.
“Hey guys. Mind if we sit here?”
Mike’s features lit up, “Hey Kylie…”
“Hi Mike.”
“Kylie,” smirked Ethan, “you can sit next to Mike whenever you like.”
Mike laughed, “Don’t listen to Ethan. But… yeah, you can sit to me... if you ever need to. Uhh, so… you look nice today. What’s up?”
“Oh, not much, just some dumb Asian cut in line for me, so I couldn’t get the last strawberry milk.”
“Haha you’re so racist.”
Kylie blinked, “Um no, I’m really not.”
“Oh, uh, it’s ok, I think it’s sexy---”
“Oh my God Gentry, no, you got strawberry milk?”
Gentry took a big sip, “Yeah.”
“Can I have a taste?”
Gentry took a hearty gulp and slammed the milk on the table, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, “I’m all out.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 3

Note: Chapter 16 takes place over the course of one day. It will have 10 short and sweet parts!

On the far right side of the cafeteria, by the large bay windows, the Seniors table was abuzz with conversation.
“How’d Gentry get that bruise on his face?”
“He told me he was bored.”
“I can’t believe that.”
Sydney remained silent, picking at his food.
“… Hey, you know what I don’t believe? That Zach came back to class after that. Mr.Handson was all---”
“SHIT.” Sydney finally spat.
Ethan and Mike exchanged stupified looks.
“Shit what?” probed Ethan, with a half-laugh to bridge over any lingering bewilderment.
“Just shit.” Spewed Sydney, falling back into a grumbly silence as he picked at his food.
“Kylie wants to ask Gentry to the prom.” Ethan chirped up, to dissolve the overcast mood that was rapidly forming and spreading over the table.
“What?” Mike spat.
“Hey… Did you see the tits on that freshman over there?” Ethan grinned, pointing to a girl in the crowd.
“Yeah, but woah man she’s a butterface.” Said Mike.
“Then pass me a butter knife so I can spread some of that on my dick.” Sydney guffawed, only to have the others stare at him with bemused smiles.
“Man, do you even know what a butterface is?”
“No. What the hell is it?”
“Ask your mirror.”
“Ask your mom.”
“Fuck you.”
“She wasn’t that great,” interjected Mike, hesitantly but brashly enough to cover the hurt from learning that Kylie asked some freckle monster to the most important dance of his high school existence instead of him. “Cute tits but no ass.”
“I’d like a piece of that no ass!” Ethan exclaimed, slapping the table with his palm, “My dick got rigormortis just looking at her. I want to poke my boner into that until---”
Sydney groaned, falling back in his seat, “Shit!”
“Just shit! Shit shit shit.”
“Stop shitting us, what the fuck did you see in the bathroom.”

“Shit man, nothing, but I hate him so much. He gets me so fucking mad that sometimes I wanna fuck him hard in the ass.”

At sudden realization of what he’d said, Sydney turned bright red in the face and exclaimed, “He’s the faggot! Not me! I’d hit that chick, too, hit her until my dick falls off.”
Mike chortled, and Sydney demanded, “What’s so funny?”
“Syd, chill, we know you’re not gay. And everyone knows Zach is.”
“Of course Zach is. What else is new?”
“Yeah Syd, what did he do? Either say something or shut up.”
“Yeah, tell us already.”
“Did he hit on you?”
“Then what?”
“He’s a faggot, that’s what. And so is Gentry.”

Monday, May 12, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 2

The cafeteria buzzed with noise. An article was posted on the cafeteria’s Events board about how the Save the Congo club had raised $1,200 and learned that helping others was necessary to be a World Leader and get into a good college. Above the article was a photo of the grinning alliance, standing next to the principal with a shiny sticker on an expensive paper they had won in the World Leaders: Save the Congo Club fundraising competition. Later the principal would tell the local press that his school won a World Leaders competition, and people should move into the district if they, too, wanted to have children who would grow up to be world leaders. Next to the articles was an empty Save the Congo donation box. It would have had more money, but some some kid was a dollar short to afford a pint of Strawberry milk.
People ambled past the article, which had the headline of “Kennedy Club Helps Those Who Need It Most,” giving it jealous lookovers or wondering if it was not too late to get a leadership position.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 16: Part 1

Note: This chapter reads really well if you read it while listening to Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again." Don't watch the video, it's boring.

Carly had, inbetween bouts of drunkenness and cold hard hangovers, passed out on the couch. He’d spent the last few days since the confession in bed, without speaking or eating. Gentry wondered if he was passed out, dead, or just didn’t want to get up. Maybe he wanted to sleep and never wake up again. But upon seeing him sprawled out on the couch, Gentry concluded that he was still alive enough to move and let him sit down.
“What day is it?” Carly rasped out, propping himself up onto his elbows.
“June 1st.”
The TV screen was flickering and illuminating the dark as Gentry took his seat.
The announcer’s voice blared over the television, sharp and haughty. Patronizing taste and hearing in a single bound.
“Ironically, I am able to empathize with some of the individuals I have interviewed today. We have all have faced tragedy and loss in our lives. We all have scars from our personal battles - we have all felt alone and scared. Right now, the people of the Congo are fighting for their very existence.”
“You smell like sex.” Carly muttered.
The TV blared on, uninterrupted.
“We are born into our many beliefs, shapes and colors. We are all different and yet so very similar, and therefore we cannot be silent and accept the torture and murder of our fellow humans. We must tell all those who seek to harm others and specifically now those committing genocide in Africa--- we see your sins. We will stop you and you will pay!”
Gentry sneered back a laugh and chucked a piece of popcorn at the screen.
Carly laughed half-heartedly, “Go live in Africa if you care so much.”
He reached for another beer, then then bitterly grumbled under his breath, “Us fucking Americans can’t even help each other, who are we to stop this? Noooo one helps anyone for free. If I were Africa, Iiiii’d shoot the Americans. Bang, bang…”
His voice slurred off, and he downed another beer.
“Ughhhh… my head hurts. Wanna forget this, but don’t remember what I did last week. Did I say anything interesting?”
“No.” Gentry lied.
“Hm.” Carly sat up, and stumbled to the fridge for another beer. He stopped in his tracks, then heavily spun around and asked, more out of curiosity than concern, “What happened to your face?”
“Got bored.”
“Yeah, don’t you always.”
He slogged off to the kitchen returned flush-faced from the effort, tripped over himself, then groggily pulled himself off the floor and onto the couch.
“Do you want to see me drink myself to death?” he asked up at Gentry.
“I don’t want to see you. But I wouldn’t mind if you did.”
Carly chugged it down then slammed it onto the table, falling back spread-eagled onto the couch.
Gentry ignored him and continued to watch the TV screen.
Carly leered over at him, taking in with his eyes what his fingers would never touch. What a strange combination. Soft lips and a hard body, boyish freckles and old eyes. That was what disturbed him as well as thrilled him, the eyes of an old man on a young one. And not just any old man. They had the same shape, the same hellish intensity, they were the eyes of a rapist.

And whenever he met their gaze, it sent a little jolt of fear through him; hurt him where nothing else could. But it hurt so good, kindled a flame that took away the numbing cold in his heart.
It flickered contently, slowly spreading until the warmth burned into a manly fury, igniting the will to destroy the monster and transfer his own fear and hatred into those dark amber pits.
He took another swig of beer and wiped his mouth, and spoke up to fill in the ghostly silence where a war should have been.
“I wish you’d drink… don’t know why you don’t. For a while, I thought you were addicted to sex.”
“With what?” Gentry scoffed, shoving him away.
“With… mmpf… Zach. I didn’t think you were into… that kind of thing... black guys.”
“There’s a category for that?”
“No shit there’s a category for everything. He’s black.”
“He’s Estonian.”
“That isn’t a race.”
Gentry paused with a perplexed look on his face, then shrugged and leaned back into the seat, “Who cares?”
“You should know what you’re poking your dick into.”
“I’m poking my dick into a fine piece of ass with a mouth that’s more trouble than it’s worth.”
“Yeah, why don’t you tell him that.”
“He knows.” Gentry took a sip of beer, “That’s the problem. He always knows what I’m thinking.”
That said, he turned his attention to the TV, slouching slightly and reflexively folding his arms over his slouched stomach.
It was a cute, childish way to sit, something that Carly was quietly charmed by. Those little things held him back. They reminded him that if he destroyed the monster, he would also destroy a part of himself.
Gentry wasn’t thinking of anything except for what he said. He thought in sensations rather than words, understanding the subtleties of speech and eye contact over anything else. What him a good liar also made him distant and preoccupied, distracted by his own awareness. He felt words, he didn’t hear them. And when he wasn’t talking, he let the warm, hazy glow of emotions wash over him, nothing else in his mind except for an occasional image or a large word that stretched and pulled, morphing, shifting, growing larger and larger until it fucked something hard, fast...

He didn’t know or care to know what Carly was thinking. Probably that was for the better.

“Have you ever seen anyone from Estonia,” Carly murmured, downing the can, “besides Zach?”
“One Estonian’s enough.”
“Do you know where Estonia is?”
“I don’t care.”
“You should. It’s between Russia and Sweden.”
“Who cares,” Gentry sighed irritably, “it’s all a big blob of land, and I’ve never been to South America or wherever Estonia is. I don’t care about people here, why should I care about people there?”
Carly thought for a moment, then laughed dimly, “South America? What the fuck? Estonia, Russia, and Sweden aren’t in South America. They’re in Eastern Europe. Even I know that, and I’m drunk.”
“Fine. I don’t care, I’m not going there.”
“Man, how can you be from Alabama and not know what a black guy looks like? Do you even know which side the Pacific Ocean’s on?”
Gentry ignored him.
“Come on Gentry, tell me. What continent’s China on?”
Gentry didn’t reply to this either, preferring the awkward peace that lingered. Carly moved close to him, and Gentry scooted away.
“Where’s Alabama? The North or the South?”
He maintained his sheepish silence, until Carly pulled away and declared,
“You don’t know, do you?”
“Why should I know. It’s all just dirt.”
“How did you even pass geography?”
“I cheated.”

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 15: Part 6

They hadn’t exchanged a word, just a feeling and some body fluids.
The mess was gone now, but in a way it wasn’t. The memory was sticky inbetween his thoughts, a mess in his mind. Unlike a word, this was something unforgettable, uninterruptible, inexcusable… and the only two witnesses were locked in an unspoken understanding of silence.
Silence. He’d hoped for it, peering down at the other’s dark eyes while uncomfortably perched up against the sink. Where a lively amber had once been, there was now just shineless, unearthly dark. Natural and unnatural at the same time, and as perplexing as a black hole.
Then it was gone.
Zach toyed around with what they might have said if the breath hadn’t been knocked from their lungs, maybe something like,
I have a boyfriend.
Yeah? Where’s he now?


He was outside of the boys lockeroom, waiting. Hand on one hip, sleek pink-and-blue gift bag on the other, the sunlight glinting off his smooth auburn hair. The sole of one of his red sneakers was, unsconsciously, grinding into the dirt. Class had ended an hour ago, swim practice had too, any minute now…
Grinding a hole into the dirt.
He stopped the moment Zach strode through the double doors, promenading over to pull him into a long, hot-blooded kiss.
A few girls giggled and one guy yelled out “faggot!”
Still others peered onwards, Kylie in particular. The members of the Senior Swim team walked by with averted eyes and disgusted scowls.
“I got something for you.” Mikey announced loudly, pulling out a glossy gift bag.
Zach received it with a warily arched eyebrow, visibly unnerved.
“What’s the occasion?” he asked, pulling out a stuffed animal--- a fluffy pink blob that resembled a pig. It was amazing what passed for a stuffed animal these days.
“I’m too old for stuffed animals.”
Mikey laughed his hesitant, tired-eyed laugh and drawled, “Hey, yeah. I’m sorry you didn’t win, and I heard you were having a bad day.”
Zach gave a wordless nod, turning the pig over in his hands. What good was this nonsense?
“They say men are pigs. I am… I'm intelligent when you don't expect it, cleaner than most people think, but most of all... I really want to be your plushie."
“You want to be a toy I play with and toss aside?”
He glanced boredly at the at the grinning boy with the outstretched arms. The expected hug followed soon after, with Mikey pulling Zach to his chest, and Zach accepting it stiffly, reluctantly raising his arms to meet him. And when it was over, Kylie swayed over to their side and raised her voice in pitch,
“Hiiiii Mikey. Zach.”
She reached out to pet the pig, “This is sooo cute. Where did you find that?”
“It’s a secret.”
“Casey thinks you’re taking him to the prom.”
“Yeah,” Mikey slung his arm over Zach’s shoulders, “If he wants to. But you better show up, I’m helping out.”
“No, really? What’s the theme?”
“It’s a secret. But hey, who are you bringing with you to the prom, Kylie?”
She smiled, and the sunlight flickered over her thick, crusty concealer to unforgivingly reveal the freckles underneath.
“I’m thinking of asking Gentry.”
Zach went rigid at the very mention of the name. This went unnoticed by both parties.
“Gentry?” Mikey asked while leering at her, glossy-green eyes glazing over. He looked her up and down, and smiled hesitantly at the first glimpse of the stark brown dots underneath her make-up, “Ohh. Interesting.”
“Interesting? Is there something you’re not telling me?” she laughed nervously.
“Oh. No, no, nothing at all... he has so many freckles.”
Kylie self-consciously turned her face, and laughed a bit too loudly, “He does. But I think it’s because he doesn’t wear sunscreen. You know, it’s kind of cool that he’s a redhead and a swimmer. Redheads burn up in sunlight.” She turned to Zach, “If at all, you’ve got the natural advantage. I just want to find out if Gentry’s gay or straight. If he’s straight, people should know. And if he’s gay, he could use a confidante.”
“Yeahhh.” Zach smiled at her limply.
Mikey added, “Okay, bye Kylie.”
He took Zach’s hand and walked away just as Kylie shouted after them, “Bye lovebirds!”

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 15: Part 5

Sydney stood in the doorway with the lost, confused, and wide-eyed look of a choirboy in hell.
“Mr.Handson said…” his voice trailed off, and Gentry limply dropped his hand.
“Fuck off.” he murmured in grim reply.
“… What are you guys doing in here?”
Sydney boiled for an explanation, yearned for some kind manly denial… anything but what the throbbing feeling in his gut told him was true.
Real men didn’t just… had he seen right? Normal guys didn’t do those things… did they? That was gay.
“Not your business.” Zach shot brazenly, yet pulling away for good measure.
“Leave.” Gentry echoed firmly, pulling him back against him.
Sydney looked them both over, then wordlessly stormed out the door.

Zach sighed in unsteady relief and tensely murmured an apology, his heart throbbing as Gentry slowly looked him over, dark eyes taking in a clenched fist and wary expression. Strong enough to stay, but weak enough to betray fear.
They exchanged anxious, lingering stares, but didn’t say a word as the silence spoke for them. It was hard to talk when your brain and your heart were fighting over your mouth, and the excited ringing in your ears blocked out any coherent thought.
Without a word, Gentry dropped to his knees and hooked his thumbs into the waistline of Zach’s jeans. He undid the belt and fly, tensely listening for the soft, nervous hitch of Zach’s breath. Instead he gave him an awkward shove, only to be forcefully pushed back against the sink.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Because You Suck: Chapter 15: Part 4

The faucet dripped into the sink, soundlessly falling against gray fiberglass.
So, Gentry thought to himself, he’d guessed correctly. It was the stall on the far-left side--- pushed right into the corner. The kind of stall you’d overlook at first glance, since most people used the middle ones. It was, however, the most obvious choice if you knew what you were looking for.
“If you’re going to stay here, Handson said he’ll mark you as a cut.”
With a loud bang the bathroom door swung open and Zach charged on out. He turned the faucet, and cupped his hands under it.
As the door loudly dribbled shut, Gentry watched as Zach glumly splashed his face with the cold water and frantically rubbed his eyes.
“You were so cocky in the classroom. Why are you hiding in the bathroom?”
“If I didn’t know better, I’d say you came here to hide, too.”
“I don’t need a bathroom stall to hide.”
No reply. Just the sound of a faucet running and paper towels being ripped from the dispenser. Rushed and angry, but not as self-indulgent as slamming the stall door.
Gentry subtly tilted his his head to steal a glance at his eyes, to discern what words could not say. He knew Zach wouldn’t supply an answer if asked, and that he wasn’t in any position to demand one.

So in frustration, he gripped Zach’s shoulders and brazenly slid a hand up one cheek.
“You better not be crying. Do you have any idea who’s out there?”
He finally had him where he wanted, that proud angry face turned to him. But he barely swiped a glance when a fist connected to his jaw, hurling him back against the bathroom door he just barely caught on to. His heart was pounding and his face searing red as a cold sweat drenched the back of his neck.
He cursed.
Rubbed the side of his face as it swelled up, and glared reproachfully as Zach, who was standing open-mouthed and wide-eyed in the corner. Shaken but not submissive.
Their heavy breathing came in wary intervals, then just barely in unison.
The only other sound came from the slowly dripping faucet, the hollow trickle slowly turning into a pencil-thin stream against the plexiglass. Zach closed his mouth firmly, and Gentry stormed up to him. He menacingly fixed his eyes on him and tersely raised a hand, only to drop it again when Zach flinched.
Enough already.
He gave him a firm hard look. There were so many things he could say, so many things on his mind, but none fit, none worked. Here was this cornered, angry, frightened, boyish wonder, watching him as if waiting for the slap he deserved. What could you say to that?
So he kept his silence and raised that same hand, using the moment Zach flinched to instead carress the side of his face, and cup it before gently placing a kiss on his lips.
The door suddenly thrust open, and light flooded in.

Because You Suck: Chapter 15: Part 3

The rows of identical buildings fell behind him, and if it weren’t for the sky and the cracks in the asphalt, it would have been hard to tell if he was moving at all. The sun stood at high noon, gleaming with a drowsy yet feverish intensity.
The sun gleamed at high noon, hot and sallow as a fever. Occasionally a seagull would soar across the horizon, swooping onto the rooftops to perch on the ledge and peer down.
Gentry wasn’t sure why he’d volunteered to go, or what he’d expect. The only thing he was certain of was that it was god damn hot.
He sauntered through the identical rows of flat, blue-brick classrooms that made up the school, keeping his eyes glued to his feet to check if he was moving.
Everything went by too slowly.
Occasionally a lone student or an office worker would patrol by with a walky-talkie in hand, making their rounds to ensure order. Some girl shuffled by, head and shoulders lowered as she nudged a textbook across the dusty ground with the tip of her shoe. It wasn’t long before Nasty stormed to her, roughly pulled her shoulders back bellowing “No no no,” and demanded to know why she was mistreating a piece of school property, sternly reminding her that the fine for a textbook was eighty dollars and, if those were not paid, a Delinquency on her permanent record.
Gentry walked past her, sharply turning into the cafeteria and pushing open the bathroom door. The neat blue stalls all lined up, spotless, lifeless and clean.
He swiped a look underneath the doors, before figuring that Zach probably had his feet on the seat.
“I know you’re in here.”
This was stupid.
Leaning against the door of the far-left stall, he let the seconds roll by.Then, he exhaled forcefully. Crossed his arms impatiently, debating with himself over word choice, before deciding that there was no particularily subtle way to put this.
“I have better things to do than fish you out of here.”
The answer came briskly, a soft yet strained attempt at a comeback:
“… then why did you come?”
“Would you prefer Sydney?”

Because You Suck: Chapter 15: Part 2

Gentry flinched as the door slammed shut.
If the class wasn’t talking about him before, they were now.
Well. That was stupid. You might as well draw a big red circle with an arrow saying ‘kick me’ on your Achilles heel. Was he nuts?
The corners of his mouth turned up into a barely-there smirk.
Well, yes. You’d have to be crazy to jump on Mr.Handson’s table.
“Does anybody know if he’s coming back?” Mr.Handson asked dully over the barrage of conversation, religiously spraying and scrubbing his beloved desk, only pausing to pick his attendance sheet up with one of his meaty hands. One student yelled out:
“Nahh, he’s friggin’ crazy!”
The class roared with laughter.
Gentry felt an odd, sinking feeling in his chest, and averted his eyes to the floor. They didn’t get it, chances are they never would.
“Well… If anyone knows where he is, let him know that I’ve marked him down as a cut.”
“He’s probably in the bathroom,” guffawed Sydney, “I saw him eat in there once. Want me to get ‘em?”
Mr.Handson opened his mouth to reply, just as Gentry promptly rose to his feet and said,
“I’ll get him.”

Because You Suck: Chapter 15: Part 1

F was a horrible letter.
Fuck. Fat. Flippant. Zach couldn’t think of one good word that started with F. F was the Monday of letters, necessary but disliked. Especially when it glared at him off his report card, printed crisp and clear:
Literature: 59%! Fifty-nine percent also started with an F, and was exactly five letters away from L. L looked a bit like an upside down F, and Literture was like a longer way to say “fuck you!” Zach sighed quietly and turned the report card face down, glaring at the girl who had been leaning in to steal a glance.
What a great day this was turning out to be. Earlier he’d seen some chick cry in the hallway, surrounded by friends. He was filled with the grim realization that there would be no one around if he cried. No, you couldn’t bleed amongst the sharks, you couldn’t afford to show frustration. Especially now, when report cards got in. They always passed them out in Geometry. Every quarter, a new one, straight from the office printer, stamped with a watermark of the Kennedy Knight. The moment those slips of paper landed in the eager hands of their owners, pandemonium broke loose. If they didn’t ask, they stole a glance. Sometimes both. If they were bold enough, they pulled it from your grip and exclaimed something like,
“Wow Gentry! A-!”
The grade determined the hierchy of the classroom. A, B, C, D, F, graded your self-worth and potential as a human being. Your destiny hinged on a code of various letters, and currently that letter was F. Fucking fantabulous.
He leaned back and played it cool, watching the clock. The GSA poster he’d hung there stared back at him mockingly, but his face didn’t show any sign of agitation. That was because showing any sign of frustration, another F word, could be interpreted as a visible side-effect of an F. Then everyone would know.
“Hey Jenny, what do you have… OH! All A’s. You’re so smart! I want to be you!”
“I want to be me too. What do you have? … ohh.”
Zach crumpled the report and slam-dunked it into the trash.
No sooner had he heard the satisfying ker-plunk than Mr.Handson stirred from his seat and promptly exclaimed, “Zach.”
The burly discreetly motioned Zach to him.
“I saw you throw away your report card.”
“You have good vision.”
“I want you to see me after class. I have to notify your parents of this as well.”
“Yes sir.” Zach grumbled.
They were staring by now. Ohhh who failed now? Who got owned?
“All right.” Mr.Handson nodded, “Because your grade is not acceptable.”
Now that did it. Zach wondered in vexed frustration whether Mr.Handson had ever been in high school or if he just emerged from his mother’s womb a fat balding guy with a combover and a bad attitude, red F-marking pen clutched in one greasy hand.
“Hey, Mr.Handson. Why don’t you yell it out?”
“Yell what out?”
Zach jumped on the table, “Excuse me everyone! I have an F!”
He jumped back down, and motioned to the trash, “Just like that. By the way, everyone! The rest of my report card is in the trash, where it belongs. Go ahead, look at it!”The class stared at him open-mouthed, murmuring amongst themselves. Zach didn’t linger any longer, storming out the door before Mr.Handson could raise his voice in protest.