BEFORE THEY ROOMED TOGETHER---CHAPTER 13
Posted: September 18, 2011
Written by Andy with help from Big 'D'
As Christmas and New Year’s passed, things seemed better for me. Not only did I meet a new friend in Lisa and learned she would be joining our school for the final semester, but also the news about my scholarship results will be coming through very shortly.
Lisa and I have spent many days together and even went dancing at this club she knew about on New Year’s Eve. I was surprised by how often she made me laugh. Then one day she was over and was telling me about the most recent boyfriend she broke up with.
“His name was Steve. It happened three nights after we met, Matt.”
I looked at her with my comforting eyes and said to continue. It was obvious Lisa was shaken, which very understandable, having happened just recently before. I put my arm around her.
“Well, it turns out the night you came to my ride, I forgot I was supposed to be meeting him. Anyways, he went to the fair to find me and well, he couldn’t. When I got home he asked where I was and I told him I was out with a friend. I told him all about you. Then, he got crazy ideas that I was cheating on him. The fight continued for three days and finally I left him there.”
“Some guys cannot understand that a girl can be friends with a guy without anything physical happening. I could have easily assured him that I had no ill intentions that night.” I said matter-of-factly.
She smiled wildly. “Oh come on, you never wanted to tap this?” I looked at her and was taken by surprise. She laughed.
“Not really, that night I needed a friend, the last few times we got together were just fun and easy. You are a very attractive girl but your friendship means more to me.”
Then she leaned closer to me. “Aw, you are sweet Matt. I think you are hot too.” She put her hand on my crotch and kissed me on the lips. “I can take care of this if you want.”
I didn’t know what to do. It had been a while since anybody had touched me there. So her hand did get the desired response. However, I got up suddenly.
“Lisa, I’m gay. I have no interest in women at all.” I said too harshly. She stood up also. She didn’t look hurt at all.
“Matt, it’s okay. I completely understand. I would have never figured you were a gay. Sure you were a lot more in to talking than most guys. You could easily pass for straight. I just thought you were.”
“Thanks… I guess.” We sat back down. “I do want to say these last month knowing you helped me forget about my troubles. Kris and I probably won’t ever be the same again. Sometimes friendships are not meant to last, even the close ones.
“Do you miss Kris a lot?”
That was the first time I was unsure of the answer. “After our fight and the text message I really hated his guts, then with Christmas I started to miss him, but I realized there were a lot of things I never liked about him too.”
“Three things come to mind. That deep down I doubt he ever accepted me as gay person. The last two times we spoke he called me horrible names. Then there was his constant need to annoy me while I tried to study, had it kept up I doubt I would have done well with my scholarship. The third was his drinking and violent temper. The temper flared infrequently but still scared the shit out of me and his drinking was going to get him in trouble.”
Lisa turned to me and kissed me on the cheek. “Matt I can understand that. Listen to me. Sometimes it takes a while to understand what a person is really like. Sometimes its minutes, other times it is years. Now let’s go to movie or something and forget about our troubles. You will have your results tomorrow and we can celebrate your success.”
We got up and walked out of my bedroom, closing the door, “Don’t jinx it.”
The night was enjoyable and after the movie we walked around the neighborhood, talking, the topic surprisingly came around to our sex lives so I told how long it had been. She offered to help me out but I refused. She gave me a kiss on cheek again and went home.
The next day I woke up to a knocking on the door. I went to answer it and was surprised to see Kris standing there. As soon as the door opened, he ran inside and hugged me, the force of the hug causing me to lose my balance as we fell to the floor.
“Oh, bro, I missed you so much. I’m sorry for how I acted. The last few months were horrible. Nobody can ever replace you.”
I never thought in a million years Kris would be saying these things. It seemed like everything was maybe getting back toward normal. Then I heard knocking. It got louder. I woke up from my dream.
Groggy, I rubbed my eyes and said come in. Mom was standing there with a smile on her face.
I woke up instantly, forgetting about the dream I just had. “Is that it?”
She nodded. I threw off my covers and practically ran to her, ripping the letter open. After reading the contents I screamed with joy. I probably woke up the entire neighborhood.
I kissed my mom and screamed again! “YES! YES! YES!” Now I had a free ticket to any college I wanted to go to, as long as I followed the guidelines. I kissed mom again and dialed the phone to tell my friends the news. They were all happy for me. Tanner received his too and surprising so did Johnny.
I drove over to Lisa’s, which was relatively close to Kris’s. She gave me the biggest hug and managed to pick me up off the ground. I told her the scholarship allowed me to attend some international schools as well, including schools in Canada, England and France.
“That’s all fine and good Matt but a shower and some new clothes would help before you do anything else.” In all my excitement I didn’t even give a crap how I looked, which was saying something. I didn’t even spend four minutes getting my hair right. I looked down and I was wearing the same clothes I had been last night.
“I guess I was too excited!”
She laughed some more and offered her shower for me to freshen up. I took her up on the offer. After I came out she gave me a thumb up. “There’s the Matt I know and love.”
I smiled. Although we had only been friends a few weeks I was surprised by how much we clicked together. It seemed like we had been friends forever. On our way to a bagel shop close by she stopped me and pointed to an older guy in his late twenties.
“See that guy Matt. Every week he seems to walk around the neighborhood. Sometimes he stops and looks at Kris’s house. I’m sure it’s nothing, but I’m pretty sure he was here last night too.”
I looked at him and the moment he made eye contact with me he ignored me and walked on. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Let’s go enjoy my celebration.”
She put an arm around my waist. “And plan your party.”
So Saturday my mom and Lisa worked hard on getting the party ready for me, Tanner and Johnny. Around seven o’clock all my high school buddies arrived. I watched Tanner talk in his amazing, sexy Canadian accent. I wondered if Tanner and I would have ever worked out as a couple. Then I remembered he’s straight and had never showed a slightest bit of interest in me.
“Hey Matt, get over here, eh.” I came over.
“You bellowed, master.” I said jokingly.
“I was just telling Brady about the mean trick we played on Kris our first year.” Brady patted me on the back. “Have you heard from Jacob lately?”
“Not really, he called recently, inquiring where I was going to college. I was being really nice to him, but truthfully, I really hope I never see him again. He really is kind of creepy.”
Tanner being Tanner asked, “Who was better in the sack? Jack or Jacob?”
I thought about it and then winked, “I’m not sure.”
“Hey, where’s Kevin?”
Johnny and Lisa came over to us. I noticed they were holding hands. “He will be little late... Speaking of which, Lisa finally agreed to go out with me.”
I winked at her. “You caved?”
“Who can resist that smile and intellect?” She laughed.
Playing a little I said, “I’m smart too.”
“But you’re gay.” The whole room laughed.
The front door opened with a bang. The last person I thought would enter came in.
Kris looked at me and then made a beeline straight for Tanner. “Hey, Tanner, I heard about the scholarship, congrats.”
“Thanks, Kris. I wasn’t sure you would come.”
Kris looked at me again, almost like he wanted to say something to me but he spoke to Tanner instead.
“Yeah, Linda invited me and I wanted to be a good friend to Tanner and Johnny.” He high-fived him as soon as he saw Johnny.
Making an effort to talk to Kris, I asked: “How did you do Kris?” I could tell Kris was being extra friendly to the others, but he engaged me.
“It went okay. I got reasonably a high above average score.” He said very cockily, I noticed. “However, I didn’t get enough for free ride like some people.” The tone in his voice spoke volumes. It was obvious he was upset.
“Why are you so mad at me? Why can’t we get past this fight? I said things I regret. I’m sure you said things you wished you hadn’t.”
Everyone in the room was watching us like hawks, “Matt, I don’t regret anything I said. I don’t want to get into it. You wished I was dead. That’s something I would never wish on you or anyone else.” He said calmly.
I shot back, “Fuck, Kris! You writing those horrible homophobic terms on my door and calling me those awful names, you don’t regret that?”
“Nope, you hurt me. I’ll hurt you.”
Then a crash was heard as Tanner took the glass he was holding and almost broke it on the coffee table. “Guys, I’ve had enough of this. The arguing, the shouting, you have been best friends for almost four years. One heated argument shouldn’t change that.”
I was furious with the fact that Kris meant those words that I barely registered what Tanner said.
“MATT! FOR FUCK’S SAKE LISTEN TO ME!! I have been both of your friends since day one. We all have.” He pointed to Brady and Johnny, and then Don who had sat quietly in corner. “WE ARE NOT GOING TO FUCKING CHOOSE BETWEEN YOU! WE LOVE YOU BOTH! Do you know these last few months have not been easy for us with you guys not speaking to each other? Kris, you drove the conversation. You entertained us. Matt, you made sure we focused on our school work and you helped each one of us out with issues. You guys were great to each other. Now, with both of you not fucking speaking, I decided that I’m going to University in Canada. Kevin and Brady are going to some fraternity and Johnny is joining them. I miss my home so I’m going back. You guys made that decision so much easier. “
The room was stunned by Tanner’s announcement. I could not believe one fight would have these serious repercussions.
Before anybody else could say anything, the door opened and in walked Kevin with his new girlfriend on his arm. But the reaction was more shock on Kris face. Looking at her move closely I realized it was Melissa.
“I thought you were at your sister’s place tonight, you lying bitch!”
Melissa looked stunned, she opened her mouth to respond but before anything came out, Kris screamed, “FUCK YOU ALL!” and stormed out the door.
I know Kris had to be hurting and I actually felt sorry for him so I went to follow but by the time got to the door he was gone.
As I stood in the doorway looking out at the street I realized I wanted to talk to Kris because I still cared about him. We may have said harsh words in the heat of the moment but that wasn’t enough to kill the bond we had shared. I went to his place. When I got out of the car I noticed the man Lisa mentioned earlier walking around the neighborhood. My curiosity got the better of me and I approached him.
February 1 2009 - TIME TO TALK!
As the weeks continued I kept thinking about how I was going to handle Kris. Making up with Samuel was nothing compared to that confrontation. At the local restaurant where I worked the tips were decent and every day at home I planned out how I was going to talk to Kris, once a week or so, I would go to Kris’s house to see what he was up too. I was pretty confident he didn’t see me. A few people came and went, most around Kris’ age. I was surprised to learn he was going out almost every night.
I was glad with all the developments in his life; it was another reason why he didn’t need me back in it. He was doing fine by himself. If what James said was true, Kris seemed happy. James told me he had a best friend named Matt. I had noticed the kid coming and going and he seemed to be really special.
Just yesterday, I was walking around Kris’s neighborhood, keeping an eye on him, when all of sudden, Matt walked up to me.
“Is there a reason you keep walking around this neighborhood?”
“Yeah, fresh air for the joints, and my friend Nate moved next door.”
“Where is this friend of yours, all I see is you walking around every so often? It’s almost like you watching this house.” I point to Kris’s house.
“Not at all, just walking around getting fresh air, my friend works the night shift and this helps me pass the time until he gets back.”
“I see… well have a good night… Uh…”
“Derek.” I said, we shook hands and he moved on home. I needed to be a little more careful when keeping an eye on Kris.
Today, the evening shift was in full swing at the restaurant, I was ending early so I could hook up with James; he had a new girl he wanted me to meet. I was surprised that James and I were able to stay friends after all the shit I did.
I was just packing up to leave, when Craig asked me to come to the front. I couldn’t believe it.
“Corey?” I said in a shocked tone.
“Hey, Derek” he said while I was trying to calm myself. I never thought any of the guys I met on my travels would have found me again. We walked to the patio to talk.
“What…? How…? Where…?” I stammered. “How the fuck did you ever find me and what are you doing here.”
“Well, finding you wasn’t easy; it was a matter of luck. You see, after you left the gym that day, I noticed a piece a paper fall out of your bag and was going to give to you, but you disappeared. Anyway, I pocketed it. As time went by, my family life was getting worse and I couldn’t handle being around my mother and stepfather so I ran away.”
“What happened to working out the frustrations?”
“That worked, for a while. It did bring me some support. I reconnected with my cousin, Heath. They didn’t give a fuck that I was gay. After a few months they had their own shit to deal and disappeared. I left as soon as I could after that.”
“How did you find me? Why do you want to see me?”
“Well, the piece of paper was a pay slip so I knew your name and went to where you worked at the local swimming pool. I spoke to the manager who said he had no idea where you went but he mentioned you lived in this town. He was a little busy because some kid named Trevor hit his head on the diving board so I left and drove here. I managed to find three phone numbers with your name and the last one who answered said you worked here. So I came and found you.”
I started thinking to myself that it was somehow fate. Corey had found me again because I dropped a pay stub. It was all too much of a coincidence. But one question still remains.
“Why did you want to find me Corey?”
“When I spoke to you two years ago, you looked a little lonely. I thought since my home life was utter crap that I could join you on your journey.”
I was furious at Corey, after realizing the mistake I made, I wasn’t about to let this guy make the same one. He didn’t understand how good his life was.
“Corey, go home! You don’t want to become me. Like I said two years ago, your family will come around and I’m sure you cousin will be available to you. Go home.”
“My family is shit, my mother won’t talk to me and my stepfather he doesn’t care. My cousin has his own problems to deal with. I have no one. I’m afraid to even go to fucking college”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
I took at second to calm myself, “You have a family at least. I came home to try to repair some of the mistakes I made. I worried my family to the bone. Remember I told you I didn’t know my father and my brother was junkie? They reconnected and tried to find me but they gave up. My father died in a mugging and my brother couldn’t handle it so he killed himself.”
Corey took that in. “I have no fucking family. I have me and the man I love. So go back home and live through it. In time it will get better, Corey. Life does. I’m sure in college you’ll find the right guy, get married and have kids of your own. Would you want your kids to run away when they find a rough patch? No!”
I put a hand on his shoulder. “Promise me you will go back home.”
He couldn’t look me in the eye, so I forced his head up to look at me. “Promise me. You shouldn’t have to go through what I’ve been through. Learn that running away is never the right option.”
“I promise.” We hugged and Corey left the restaurant. I was watching him as he walked by a brown-haired skinny dude. Corey turned his head to look at the guy but only saw the back of his head.
The brown-haired kid walked up to the restaurant, noticed me and came inside.
“Do you know who I am?” It was pretty obvious that my lie last night didn’t work.
“Yes, Matt, I know who you are and how you are connected to Kris.”
He looked me square in the eye and smiled, “I know who you are too. Derek.”
“Well, it was pretty straightforward. I know all about Nathan Stanton. Before Kris and I lost our friendship he told me what happened three years ago to his brother. And then two Christmases ago he mentioned that Nathan had a boyfriend named Derek who ran off. My question is, what the fuck are you doing back here? And how the fuck do you know about me and Kris?”
“It’s very simple. I came to make amends with Kris. He told me to leave the hospital the night that Nathan died so I left but now I am back. I learned the hard way that running away was a mistake. I lived a pretty shitty life. So when I came back in September, my friend told me about the pain I caused Kris and how he was alone.”
It was hard to voice these thoughts but if I couldn’t tell his best friend for almost four years, how could I tell Kris? The emotions came to me but I kept going.
“Matt, I caused to so much sorrow for Kris when I left and I needed to get back to him to try to correct those wrongs. I was going to approach him sooner but the fight between you two stopped me. I would just have been a reminder of his brother, so I stayed away and kept an eye on him instead.”
Looking at Matt I didn’t see anger or hurt, just understanding in his eyes. “Derek, I cannot imagine the pain Kris was in when he lost his brother. I’m an only child. However, I’m sure Kris would want you in his life. From what little I know of his brother, Nathan was wild, but was good man.”
I knew then that I wasn’t going to stop. I had procrastinated too much and had missed five years of his life. I needed to repair our relationship. I stood up. “It’s time I become the big brother to Kris that he needs.”
Matt looked at me. I could tell he could see my determination, though he spoke with caution. “Derek, you should go to him, but he does have a fowl temper. He hit me just a few months ago.”
“Yeah, he hit me too, but I realized it was emotional outburst at the time.”
“He has been having a lot of those recently. He seemed okay at Christmas with his ex-girlfriend but I could tell at the party the other night that he didn’t want to be there.”
I looked concerned, “You miss him don’t you? My friend told me all about your bond. In my absence he took it upon himself to watch over Kris. I know how close you two were.”
Matt just looked down. It was obvious that he missed him. He looked at me and nodded.
“Here is what we’ll do. We put out heads together and come up with a way to get you guys talking. Then, once you guys are buddy-buddy again you’ll help me reconnect with Kris. Sound like a plan?”
Matt smiled at the prospect of being friends with Kris again. Then he frowned. “That sounds like a plan. But I really don’t know how we can do it.”
“We’ll think of something.” Then he seemed happy and so was I. I never felt so good in my life. I was determined and motivated to see Kris again. With Matt’s help we could do what needed to be done.
That night and for the next six nights we put our heads together but nothing came to us.
For me, the last few days had been difficult, ever since the celebration at Matt’s house. My days had gone from bad to worse. Deep down I was happy for Matt, he was always an A student and I knew he would get his choice of colleges. However, when he asked me how I did, trying to rub it in that got me all mad again. He had some nerve.
With Kevin and Melissa walking in together, it just made my blood boil. She had told me she would be with her sister. I knew I had to get out of there. After I left and went home with so much anger bubbling inside me, for Matt and for Melissa, I picked a cold beer out of the fridge, sat on the back porch and drank. I drank two bottles and was on my third bottle when I heard my parents come home from the party they had attended that night so I went to my bedroom to finish two more bottles. I soon passed out.
The next morning I had to nurse my head at school. None of the crew would speak to me. They didn’t even speak to Matt. Obviously Tanner’s speech was just the first salvo for me to get my act together with Matt.
Then after class, Melissa found me. “Kris, let me explain…”
“Go on…” I looked at her like she was about tell me a funny story.
“I was with my sister and Kevin came by to ask for an update on you. He was worried about your recent actions. We got to talking and the timing got away from us.”
I looked at her, with eyes of full of hurt. “Tell me the truth Melissa. We weren’t dating. I can handle it, if you guys decided to start dating. I just don’t want any more fucking lies.”
“Honestly, it’s not like that, we talked for hours, my sister left and we continued to talk, about you and Matt, about school, about anything. When it was time to go the party, we were running behind so we went together.”
I looked at her and could see she was telling the truth, “It’s okay, I shouldn’t have stormed off. Sometimes my temper gets the best of me.”
She understood and we went to get a coffee, she told me that Kevin and she will most likely start dating. I was okay with it. Then I went home and thought about my life.
That night I stripped off my clothes and stood in the mirror, looking at the boy I was. The images of my life flashed in my head. Dunking Nathan in the dunk tank at my first fair, having Nathan read to me when I was eight years old, watching Derek and Nathan fall in love, the horrible accident that I caused. I couldn’t go any further. I missed my brother so much. I cried myself to sleep that night.
I woke fresh the next day as today is my birthday. I decided to have a family dinner and mom and dad tried to cheer me up. They bought me some great gifts. It didn’t help, the first time since I can remember, I wasn’t happy on my birthday.
That night, I told them I needed to clear my head. I got into my car and received a text message from Alison. She wished me happy birthday and asked me to meet her. I decided we should go to the park near her house and we chatted. She told me the kids missed me at the hospital.
Ever since the fight I stopped going to help out these kids with mental problems and learning difficulties. They had nobody and for some reason I made them laugh.
“Things have been rough. The fight with Matt hit me hard.”
“I know, but you have been a happy guy, a great guy, who made everybody laugh, and can make anybody feel welcome. Now, you seem to be a shell of the man I feel in love with.”
“Alison, I don’t know what’s happened to me, the last few days I have been feeling deep sadness and spent the night crying. Then last night I had a dream where I relieved some of the moments of my life.
She put a hand on my shoulder, “What did you see Kris?”
“First, the good times with Nathan and him reading to me, my time with Derek, Nathan’s boyfriend and I saw the accident, at least seven times. Then, the day I saw Matt during roll call, him helping me in the principal’s office, the night at the fair with Matt, the time I told him about Nathan. Finally, the nightly chats with Matt, the break up from Melissa, the depression and almost losing Matt, and then the fight replaying over and over and over.”
The honesty was pouring out of me. She looked at me. Her face was unreadable. She spoke.
“That dream was telling you something?”
“What?” I asked too quickly.
“That you love Matt as brother and miss him horribly. That you regret the fight.”
I looked puzzled. “How do you figure?”
“It’s elementary my dear, Kris. First, you dreamt about the good times you had with your brother. Then you saw the accident again, indicating it was an important time in your life. You saw the best times with Matt, followed by the fight many times. Your brain is telling you that history is repeating itself. You lost your brother in a tragic accident and now you’re about to lose the closest thing you have to a brother in a tragic, probably stupid fight.”
She cannot be right? Then it dawned on me, “My temper caused all these accidents. I was mad at Derek and he left, I hit Matt and called him all those stupid names, and we stopped speaking. I cannot lose Matt like I lost the others.”
I got up to leave. She grabbed my elbow. “I am sorry, Kris. I never knew the love you have for Matt was this deep or this personal. Had I known that I wouldn’t have broken up with you? The way I had.”
The look in her eye made me smile, she laughed. I kissed her passionately on the lips. “You are forgiven. Now I’ve got to go.”
I left my car there and walked to Matt’s house. What am I going to say? How do you apologize to someone you so wrongly hurt? I’m sorry wouldn’t cut it.
It was about nine o clock by the time I reached Matt’s street. I was rehearsing my apology speech as I crossed the street. I heard a noise but repairing my friendship with Matt was more important so I just ignored it and kept walking toward his house.
It was almost nine o’clock. Derek was lying on the couch, talking, while I sat on the floor. Our last few brainstorming sessions didn’t go well. We decided to take a break. It was obvious Kris was still mad at me. Derek got up to look out the window and motioned me over.
Rubbing my eyes, “What is it?”
“I think Kris is walking over here.” Looking out the window, we both saw a blond heard kid walking down the street. “I forgot his fucking birthday!”
We both dashed outside when we heard a horn honking. Kris was speaking to himself and before I knew what was happening. Derek was running full speed into the road. He forcibly pushed Kris out-of-the-way of moving car.
The car slammed on its breaks but it hit Derek and he fell to the ground. The driver got out of the car and looked at me. I ran as fast I could to Kris but he wasn’t moving. I looked over to Derek and the driver shook his head. I held Kris as tears were streaming down my face. Then one of my friends started to move.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Thanks again to Andy for taking his time to write this mini-series based on how we see things before Matt & Kris roomed together in college. You can email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below as always. I'm know he'd love to hear from you.