Writer's note: This is not exactly a true story. But, it is as true as a story can be from one person's completely biased and totally subjective point of view. This was my very first Nifty post ever, and it is presented again here with some much-needed improvements.
The reason I was compelled to write this was so that the rest of the world could get a chance to know and understand the person I loved...because, god knows I don't think he even understood himself, in the end. I also hope that in some little way, like tossing a pebble into that infinite cosmic pond, the ripples it creates here may somehow help him find that something special once again within himself. The usual admonishments apply: don't read this if you are under 18, if it is illegal where you live, or if you are offended by the truth, etc.
It isn't really supposed to be this way, is it?
If you're like me, you grew up with some pretty ridiculous assumptions about this bizarre world we live in. Personally, I blame it all on bad parenting, fast food, and of course television. For example, the one about there being a perfect match-a 'soul mate' some people might call it-for everyone here on this stupid rock...that person whom we will all eventually find at some point within our lives (hopefully sooner than later!), fall madly in love with, and live happily ever after, etc. God, what complete bullshit.
My next most favorite blatant lie we all grew up believing in is the power of true love. If you are honest, sincere and faithful in your love for someone, they can't possibly reject you in the end can they? Could they actually choose not to return your unending and perfect love? Could they simply be unable to? Not be the least bit attracted to you? Is it possible that there is no perfect match lurking out there for some of us? No true soul mate? You better fuckin' believe it, cowboy.
Well, I have my own theory about all this, anyway. You see, I think that for many of us there really is a plan. Sometimes, everything is laid right out in front of us before we're even born, and all that's left is to simply walk the golden path. Life can look soooo damn easy for some people. We've all known someone like that at some point in our lives...one of those fortunate souls who have been blessed by fate...those for whom everything just always seems to 'work out' in the end. Doesn't that just royally piss you off every time you see that happening to someone else? Don't you sometimes wish that just once it could be you? Why couldn't I be that goddam lucky?
Personally, I've known for a long time what my role was in the larger scheme of things...but I always manage to forget it at the worst times. I know I'm an accident. I'm painfully aware that my existence was never accounted for in the 'grand plan.' My mother got pregnant when she was 16, literally screwing around in the back of a Chevy Impala (ya, of course she should've fuckin' known better...but what else is new?). My parents had a shotgun wedding, and I was born to two teenagers who had no clue what to do after that. In the end, I think I pretty much raised myself. My parents were divorced by the time I was 13, mainly because my dad was no longer able to 'manage' his alcoholism. I know for goddam sure that there was no golden path set out before me. I had to face the fact that in the 'grand scheme of things,' some of us are in the main cast, and some of us are extras. Some of us are the wheat, and others the chaff. But, of course I had to learn that lesson the hard way. Don't I always?
Ok, so I knew that boys were very interesting to me since the first time I got naked with a bunch of other guys in the 7th grade PE showers. Well, maybe even before that. Perhaps the artist in my soul couldn't help but admire the unblemished beauty of some of those boy gods. It just felt so unfair to have to look at all these long, lanky, muscled, hairless, tanned, hung young gods-in-the-making every day while comparing them to my own short, not very muscled, hung like a 5-year-old self.
I was especially fond of the kid whose locker was next to mine in PE that first year. Not a single hair on him, but man what an incredible dick! Ok, so I have always had a small case of dick envy...don't we all at that age? Every day he would strut around the showers waggin' that wobbly, 6" long (soft of course) circumcised piece of perfection. His name was Doug...'Douggie' in my fantasies at night. I'm sure he caught me staring at it enough times (and a few other guys too I bet!). Once, he 'accidentally' turned around quickly while I was sitting close by on the bench in front of my locker tying my shoes, and he whacked me right in the face with his huge appendage. I just pretended nothing had happened, and headed quickly to the boy's room to clean out the mess I had just deposited in my boxers.
Douggie was fun to look at, and many other cheap thrills were to be had in the PE showers. If I were really lucky, I would even catch somebody with the dreaded 'free-bone' trying to quickly leave class to escape the inevitable embarrassment. If nothing else, I had plenty of mental images to fill my fantasies. Being somewhat shy (ok, maybe more than 'somewhat'...) and not having many friends, I would usually just sit somewhere during lunch by myself, and watch the 'scenery' pass by. That simple daily pleasure, along with an active fantasy life, kept me going until my junior year of High School. I guess it had to.
Looking back, I can't really pinpoint exactly why I felt that way at the time, but all I can remember of my life up to that point was sheer sadness and utter loneliness. There were days in elementary school where I can still clearly remember myself walking aimlessly around the playground during recess, weeping silently to myself, and then trying desperately to figure out how to conceal that fact before class started again. It wasn't any one thing in my life that made me sad...it was every thing in my life, I think. I always felt so alone. So empty. So different. I felt like nobody knew the real person inside me; and that nobody really wanted to, anyway. Of course I had parents. I had a home, a family. A dog. But I never had a home, or a real family. Looking back, I think I know what it was though, in hindsight. I had never really felt what love was like...given or received.
Then Kim happened, and I quickly discovered the most powerful drug in the universe.
In the end I guess it wasn't really a matter of choice. I didn't exactly choose to love him. I just simply had to love him. It was perhaps just a simple byproduct of my own genetic makeup or something, or maybe just some huge cosmic joke on me. Kim (Kimball was his full name) was just so perfect-at least he was totally perfect in my eyes. Even if I hadn't already known him, he is exactly what I would have imagined to myself if someone had asked me to picture the 'perfect guy' in my head. He had long, dirty blond/brown just-past-shoulder-length hair, parted in the middle and always partly obscuring his face...almost girlish from a distance (but that was the 'cool style' back then in 1979...). Dark brown eyes well placed under dark brown eyebrows, and a prominent but good-looking aquiline nose for a basically small guy. Ya, he was pretty slim, but with a very tight and strong wiry body. A little tiny round butt suspended below a 26" waist (thank god for 501's-anyone with good eyes could read his waist size). The overall effect of his broader shoulders, narrow waist and tiny butt just served to enhance what was prominently displayed in the front of his 501's. Yes, the boy was hung, and apparently proud of it (but then, tight jeans were the popular style...). He was a little bit shorter and thinner than me (I'm guessing 5'-8"/110 lb. compared to my 5'-9"/120 lb.). A face that was still boyish (and a few years from any regular need to shave...hell, I'd been shaving since 8th grade), but would eventually become kind of 'ruggedly handsome'. Compared to my incredibly average self (unruly and loosely curly medium length brown hair that refused to do anything that resembled a 'hair style'-usually hiding under my baseball cap which I always wore turned backwards-glasses, braces, and the occasional teenage zits), it made me weak to think about how awesome he looked. He had perfected the happy-go-lucky, kinda goofy, kinda rebel, teen jock boy personality. But underneath it all, I could always tell there was something more to him. I could always just see it in his eyes. He never once fooled me.
Ya, his eyes were my downfall. Deep, incredibly dark brown eyes...sometimes with such depth and warmth that they just left me stunned speechless and unable to control my own bodily functions. At first, I don't think he always knew when he was doing it; but, sometimes when he trained his eyes on me, it stirred feelings in me I had never even dared to have before. In fact, I bet if he had known how I felt at the time, he probably would have just kicked my ass without giving it a second thought. I intuitively knew that, I think; and yet I let my feelings lead me down an ever more dangerous path. Some lessons you just have to learn the hard way, I guess. But, after we got to know each other quite well, we could practically carry on our own separate conversation in a group of people with just a few quick looks and expressions. That was fortunate for both of us, because of my shyness and Kim's inability or reluctance to express his feelings with words most of the time.
No, we didn't hang in the same social circles. The term 'polar opposites' comes to mind. Before I met Kim I was usually alone, or on the rare occasion I was in a group, it was usually the high achiever/honors student type crowd. I don't want it to sound self-serving, but I was quite likely the smartest kid in the school (pretty amazing, considering how fucked up my parents were...). Actually, I went to great lengths to hide it most of the time. It was way too embarrassing to me to be singled out for any particular achievement. I also made a huge effort to avoid that whole scene because it had always managed to earn me a few good beatings by the low IQ set over the years. But, in the end, I think learning was the only way I had ever found to escape my pain. It actually made me feel good on the inside to learn new things, new ideas. However, I always made sure that there were others with higher GPA's. But, inevitably my love and enthusiasm for a topic would get me carried away; and then someone would notice my work and make a big fuss about it. God, how I hated that.
The other thing that really separated me from the honors crowd was that I was also a pretty good artist. The art teacher frequently gushed about my work, embarrassed the hell out of me in front of the class, and threatened to put my work in student exhibitions (an idea I squashed as quickly as possible; and, boy it sure seems stupid to me now, since I'm a professional artist these days...how gay is that? LOL). Jeez. All I wanted out of life at that time was to just go unnoticed, and to be left alone. Mostly, I succeeded. That is, until Kim happened.
Sports were actually the easiest area for me. I loved playing most sports (at least the ones that required you to think a little bit, and that I could enjoy without getting killed...), and I was by nature a pretty average athlete. So, sports were more of a personal challenge to me than academics. I was a decent shooting guard in basketball, a solid defensive third baseman (but with, like a .115 career batting average-ouch!), and I consistently resided anonymously at the end of the bench in every sport I ever joined. Sometimes my mediocrity in sports would earn me the scorn of the more gifted athletic types, but that was fortunately rare. Well, except perhaps in tennis. My parents got me interested in it when I was younger, and I seemed good enough at it. Also, I could practice it by myself-a definite plus in my lonely world. By the time I was a junior in High School, my years of solitary practice against the backboard or ball machine had turned me into a pretty decent player...especially on the serve. After hitting millions of serves alone on the courts knocking down cans placed in strategic places in the service box, it turned out that there was one place that I actually kicked-ass in sports! Who woulda guessed? The quiet geek nobody knew showed up one day at varsity try-outs blowin' 110 mph smoke past the coach and everyone else (I still have the radar gun print out to prove it! So there!). Even I had to let a little grin slip across my face after that. I had always just assumed that if I could do it that well, everyone else could do the same, or better.
Looking back, I wonder if anyone else had the rare privilege in High School that I had: being an outcast in three different social groups at the same time-the honors group, the artsy group, and the jock group (Ok, ok...enough self-pity). Kim, however, was one of those people that everyone just immediately liked. He was welcomed in the jock group, and was also at home in the 'stoner' group. Hell, although he was a D+ student (but he was by no means stupid...), even the honors crowd liked him. To this day (we are both pushin' 40 years old now), I have never met anyone who honestly didn't like him...he just seems to have that effect on people.
It definitely wasn't my idea to be teamed with him to play doubles that year on the varsity tennis team. But, we were both juniors, and the coach wanted to give all the seniors first shot at the four singles positions, even though Kim was clearly the second best singles player on our team during try-outs (there was one senior who was from a very rich family, had taken lessons since he could walk, already had a personal coach and a national ranking, a personal entourage, etc...that prima-donna asshole made us all want to barf! Kim actually beat him once during a team practice-in front of everyone-and received a wild standing ovation from all of us...).
Kim was one of those gifted athletes who never had to try too hard. Everything was just so easy and so natural for him that it made all the rest of us mortals just cry to watch. But, seeing as I was the best doubles player on the team, we made a good combination. I understood the strategy involved, and I could serve the crap out of the ball (Kim even started calling me "Gunner" at some point along the way. God I loved that! My own cool nickname!). I was a pretty good net player, had a decent return of serve, and for the life of me I usually couldn't even beat my long-dead grandma at singles. Kim, on the other hand, was a fantastic baseliner and effortless shot maker. Ya, we made a great combination: the athletically adequate, socially inept, straight-A nerd; and the well-liked jock with the D+ average. To match that, he was incredibly good looking compared to my average, unremarkable features. But, as I said, that was fine with me; I preferred not getting noticed for the most part. He got all the attention, and I enjoyed standing back and watching him eat it up. Hell, I just enjoyed watching him, period.
I will never forget the first time I ever saw him. It was during 9th grade, and we were playing the tennis teams from the other Junior Highs in town. I had the good fortune to play against this skinny little long-haired kid who showed up at the courts late for the matches, riding on his 10-speed bike with a funky looking custom tennis racket holder (that his dad had made for him) attached to the front. I actually beat him pretty easily that day, even though I could tell he was probably a more talented player than I was, and was obviously having an off day. I remember I felt really bad beating him, because I thought he was real cool about the whole thing, and very cute. Not like the typical tennis brats I was used to, who would have a tantrum on the court if things didn't go their way. Kim wasn't like that. He just projected this inner confidence...like 'you may be beating me right now, but I know I am still better than you can ever hope to be.' I do know that I never did beat him again in singles, even though I tried like hell for several more years. But, he did get bigger; and a lot cuter, too...if that was even possible.
So, there I was playing beside the teen boy I had drooled over at a distance for a long time, trying to stay cool and not look like a complete idiot. On warmer days when he would take off his shirt during practice, it would make my legs weak just to watch him. He was incredible to look at...deeply tanned from a summer of tennis, swimming and the beach; and the tightest muscled little body (just naturally of course-he never 'worked out' or anything...) to beat anything some ancient Greek sculptor could conjure up. When he would serve, you could see just the tiniest little wisps of dark hair under his arms. Everything else was completely smooth. I loved to tease him about that-accusing him of shaving his legs because they looked so completely bare compared to my own hairy legs. He always took it pretty well, just grinning and saying nothing.
And, to my utter amazement, we got along really well. I'm not sure I could ever completely explain why, even to myself. But, there was a lot more going on inside him than the skater/slacker/ jock/low GPA image he liked to promote. There was a really sensitive, warm, caring person underneath the cool, easygoing 'don't-give-a-shit-about-anything-or-anybody' exterior. But, he sure went to great lengths to hide it from most people. I think it made him feel too vulnerable to the rest of the world. Honestly, I think it just plain scared him to feel those things sometimes. It was simply easier for him to pretend he didn't feel anything at all. But, I always knew different. It was clear to me. All I had to do was just look in his eyes. It was always right there, plain as day for me to see. Didn't anyone else see it?
He didn't judge me by the fact that I had a reputation for being the school 'genius,' being pretty shy, and maybe appearing a little odd to people who didn't really know me (ok, I admit, I have never figured out the whole 'social graces' concept...). I was, after all, not the most diligent student either (I refused to be a slave to any teacher or any class! -besides, there were more interesting things in life for me; like, fantasizing about cute straight boys I would never have...like there are any other kind?). We both did as little work as possible outside of class; we just got different results from our efforts, I guess. I didn't judge Kim either...mostly because I was too much in awe of him to care. But, I think he really respected me for that. He was also just about the only person on the planet who could make me laugh. Kim had a really goofy sense of humor, and he loved making me laugh with the simplest, silly things. He was always on my case to stop taking everything so seriously. His approach to life was always 'just relax, and don't worry.' Ya, easy for him to say. Right.
Our friendship grew steadily over time, and so did our success on the court. He was just such a gifted athlete, and my feelings for him gave me more than enough inspiration on the court. He knew I would play my ass off for him, and he used that as a platform to raise his own game as well. It didn't hurt that I was also his enforcer. In doubles, the fast pace and close proximity of play can result in some vulnerable moments for any player caught out of position, or the victim of a partner's bad shot. Anyone who took a cheap shot at Kim was soon surprised to see an errant serve or overhead slam traveling towards his gonads at over 110 mph. Nobody messed with my boy and got away with it! He sure loved it when I creamed someone who deserved it, usually rewarding me with a 'high-five.' I never really had to worry about retaliation, because I've always had tremendously quick reflexes. I used to drive opponents crazy by rushing the net when they had an overhead slam from the backcourt. Now, that takes cajones...and good reflexes.
As the season went on we remained unbeaten as a doubles team (earning a statewide ranking and also helping our team to first place through the season), and eventually became best friends to my horror and disbelief. Now, not only did I have to figure out how to hide from our growing celebrity on campus (well, tennis was a lot bigger deal in those days...and we were just juniors-it was considered very politically incorrect at our school to do anything successful in sports unless you were a worshipped senior...gag!), I also had to find a way to live with my feelings for Kim. I found myself in some ways as happy as I'd ever been in my life, and yet totally miserable at the same time. I was utterly and hopelessly in love with this boy, but I always had to hide my true feelings from him. All I could do was hope that my actions spoke loudly enough for me about my true feelings. God, you have no idea how times I was a split-second away from just blurting out 'I love you Kim!" Of course I never did, and it killed me a little bit inside every time I failed to finally get it out. But, I also knew to actually say it was to throw away everything I already had. Simply not an option...there was just no fuckin' way could I even pretend to live without him at that point.
Love had totally changed me. When I was with Kim I was on top of the world: happy, successful, suddenly more socially confident, and so much in love as to be oblivious to just about everything else. To put it simply, my entire world revolved around him, and I'm pretty sure he knew it by then. In the back of my mind, though, I always knew he didn't really love me. But, what exactly was that feeling I got in the middle of my chest when he would look me in the eyes a certain way? It was a very powerful feeling, and it was coming from him...I was just the grateful recipient. To this day, I'm not sure exactly just what it was. All I know, is that he definitely had some kind of feelings for me, whatever they were, and it made me feel better than anything I had ever felt before in my life. It made me feel special. It made me feel alive. It made me feel like it was actually worth the effort to keep on living, for a change.
To many people, we were quite the 'odd couple'. We had become inseparable (or at least he didn't want to, or was unable to get rid of me...). But, we really had no reason to be friends, having virtually nothing in common besides tennis and my undying love for him. Kim's disdain for anything academic wasn't a secret to anyone, but he didn't hold my academic interests against me. Sometimes he would make little comments that made me wonder if he actually felt a little inadequate compared to me, but that simply didn't register in my mind. He was my idol and my world; and I could never escape the nagging fear that he was doing me a favor by just tolerating my continuous and generally uncool presence in his life. Of course, our friendship also came as quite a shock to the few teachers and fellow students who knew me very well at all. I didn't really notice or understand all the strange looks I was getting at the time. It's all still somewhat like a dream to me. In hindsight, I think that just the inner strength my love for Kim gave me had allowed me to grow as a person over that short time. It truly changed me.
Usually after practice he would drop me off at home. We were always dog-tired, and we would often just sit in his car at the curb and talk, because we were too tired and stiff to move. Sometimes we chatted on for hours. I was always intensely curious about his life, his interests, and his thoughts about anything. He never seemed much interested in talking about me, and that was fine. I wanted to know everything I could possibly know about him, and he would usually open up to me and talk freely after a while. That's when I really got to know who he was, and what was really going on inside his heart and inside his head. I found out so many interesting things about him; all of which just made me fall more deeply in love.
It turned out he was an amateur go-kart racer (at that time-and still today-amateur karting was one of the primary stepping stones to the pro's; he even raced in karts against Michael Andretti a few times during that period...), and he was very good at it. Every other Sunday he and his dad and brother would be at the track racing. After a while, I was always there too; trying to help out as best I could and just being his number one fan. I found out quickly that it was his real passion in life. He liked tennis well enough, but he LOVED racing. One day, he finally trusted me enough to tell me his innermost hope in life: he really wanted to be a professional racecar driver. But he already had two strikes against him, and he knew all too well what they were. First was just that his family wasn't very well off, so they had to try and overcome their lack of financial resources with dedication, skill, and hard work. Most of the kids he raced against came from very rich families (some already with motor-racing pedigrees...) who could afford to buy their way into the winner's circle. The second, as I came to find out, was that Kim had Epilepsy. He was very uncomfortable telling me that-it was clearly his most guarded secret, and I was really honored that he actually told me-but he made it clear that with the medication he had to take it was very rarely a problem (but sometimes it did make him sleepy, and made it hard for him to concentrate in school). But, I could tell he wasn't convinced that it would always be that way. He was obviously scared it might someday prevent him from pursuing the most precious thing in his life. At other times he sounded a little depressed when he felt that, despite his best efforts, he couldn't beat the rich kids with the latest and most expensive set-ups; although he knew he was a better driver.
On Friday nights we would frequently hit the usual High School party scene. Actually, I just tagged along like the faithful puppy wherever he went, and he seemed ok with that. I was kinda like his conscience, given that I didn't drink, smoke, or do any drugs (I would always say that I was way too smart to do that shit, but I always thought to myself I was really just too much of a coward...). I always kept an eye on him, and I think he felt safer knowing he had a safety line in me. In fact, I think it sometimes let him feel safe enough to indulge a little more than he ought to, knowing I could always drive him home, etc. I can't even count how many times I sat waiting for him in the car while he was bonking some drunk chick in the back room of a house that belonged to someone we didn't even know. We usually just showed up at a party Kim had heard about through the grapevine. Didn't matter who, or where. Free booze, free pot...will travel.
God, how many nights there were when I would take him home totally drunk, drag him up to his bed, get his pants/shirt/shoes off, and tuck him into bed in his colorful little bikini style briefs (well, that's what he wore-I never asked him about it for fear he would kill me!). At least he was a good drunk...he never barfed on me or did anything rude or disgusting. More often than not, I would just sit and look at him in the dim light while he slept peacefully...sometimes for hours until just before sunrise, when I would walk the half-mile back to my own house. Sitting there soaking him in with my eyes, I could feel my love for him so strongly it would usually bring me to tears. As I was leaving, I would always give him a gentle kiss on his head, stroke his hair softly, and tell him "I love you Kimba" (my little pet name for him I only used to myself). I told him how cool he was, and how lucky I was to have him in my life. I was positive he never knew a bit of it (if he had, I was absolutely sure he would have killed me!). He was passed out drunk every time.
He never asked anything about how he got home, got undressed, or got into bed, etc. The one odd thing about Kim was that he was very shy about his body. Maybe he felt guilty about his own good fortune in the 'genes department', but he usually didn't like anyone to see him in any state of partial or total undress. He never once showered in the gym showers for our entire High School career. The most I ever saw him do was to strip to his briefs to put his tennis shorts on-and he did it so fast it was usually a blur. It always struck me as funny how the same guy who loved to wear tight little tennis shorts that proudly displayed his big bulge (and sometimes attracted a moderate crowd of female admirers at the courts) was so shy about changing in front of other people. Or was it just me?
Ya, I was in love. I remember the first time that it really hit me how much I loved him. Oh, I had lusted for him since the very first time I saw him in 9th grade. But, I learned that junior year during Christmas break there was a big difference between lust and love. One Saturday evening when I was just hanging out at home alone, keeping to myself as usual (we weren't going out that night because he had to work), the doorbell rang. When I opened it, it was Kim. I was surprised, but quite happy to see him-hoping I didn't gush too much, but it was such a nice surprise-while he stood there lost in his thoughts, and looking a little uncomfortable. He looked at me with those heart-stopping, intense brown eyes of his and said, "Hey man, this is for you. Merry Christmas," and handed me a small awkwardly wrapped box. I was stunned speechless. I'm sure I stood there for way too long with my mouth hanging open. After a while he said, "Uh, well...gotta run dude. I'm late for work."
I stood there on my front porch for a little while longer, still in shock, until my brain finally caught up with what was happening. Then, I raced out after him and came up to him as he was getting into his car. "Thanks Kim. That was sooo nice of you to think of me like that! I really appreciate it. You are too cool sometimes," I said, giving him a big hug...all of a sudden realizing that I was making him very uncomfortable with my over-done gratitude, and physical affection.
"Ya, well, uh...thanks. Later..." he said, while staring straight ahead. He started up his car and just drove away without looking back at me.
I rushed to my room and locked the door. I sat on my bed and just stared at the box with tears in my eyes. It just overwhelmed me when I thought of what a significant thing that was for him to do. He just never did that kind of thing. On a superficial level, Kim was always the happy, friendly, easygoing guy with everyone and anyone. But it never went beyond that. He always seemed afraid to let anyone get inside his walled-off inner feelings. He was always very careful to keep his defenses up. Over time, it had become clear to me that he kept a lot of things hidden deep inside him. I had long ago made it my life's mission to break through the walls he kept around his innermost feelings, and get to know the real person inside. That was the Kim I really loved...the one he kept mostly hidden from the world.
I opened the box, and looked inside. On top was a small handwritten note: "Thanks for being such a good bud. Love, K." Now, don't go getting ahead of me here-I knew that the "love, K" part was just a traditional way to sign a card or a note-he didn't mean anything by it. He didn't love me the way I wanted him to, I was sure. At any rate, I opened the rest of the package and found a brand new wallet. It was one of the newest, coolest styles: solid green nylon canvas with Velcro closures. Everyone had them at the time, and my very own best bud was trying to help me be cool and fit in! He was actually thinking about me! It just struck me all at once how much I loved him. My heart felt like it was just going to explode. I lay back on my bed and hugged my pillow tightly to my chest, as if I was hugging Kim, and I drifted into a fantastic (and probably wet...) dream with tears in my eyes.
I discovered that I really liked being in love. It was a totally new experience for me, and it made getting up in the mornings soooo much easier every day. I'm sure some people noticed the changes in me, but perhaps they just figured I was 'growing up.' Anyway, things between Kim and I went along largely the same for a quite a while. I guess we were both ok with how things were. I certainly wasn't ready to tell Kim how I really felt, so I was content to just love him secretly and enjoy our friendship. He never questioned my virtually continuous presence at his side, and he actually even seemed to appreciate me once in a while. But, the real clincher that made our bond grow much closer came later, during our senior year.
Having gone undefeated during the previous season, we were again matched together as the number one doubles team in the region. But, Kim had started working at In-N-Out Burger so he could pay for his new mini-truck and his own car insurance. He had to, since his parents had just divorced and didn't have any money. He was tired all the time from working, was close to flunking out of school and getting kicked off the team, and was just generally beginning to fall into the same abyss that so many others do during the High School years.
One Friday night we didn't do the party scene. It was now close to the end of our senior season, and everyone on the team was getting worried that Kim was in trouble by that point. He was becoming moody, occasionally getting belligerent to people for no reason, and angrily refused to talk to anyone about it, especially me. This Friday night we set out as usual in his truck, but he drove us up the Crest Highway into the mountains and pulled into an overlook. We just sat together and looked out at the lights across the valley while he quickly chugged 2 beers from the sixer he had brought along, and then popped another.
After a while, he noticed me studying him intently while he sipped on his 3rd beer in the last 5 minutes (well, I was worried about him!). He seemed to pause for a moment, then he looked back at me, and I noticed that his eyes didn't have the usual warm spark that melted my heart. They looked cold, and a little empty.
"Why are you here?" he asked.
"Huh?" I replied, more than a little confused...and totally shaken by that look in his eyes.
"Why are you here? Don't you have anything better to do? Like homework, or a college application or something? Why are you always hanging around me?" he continued, with a strange look on his face-not quite mad at me, but clearly it was painful or distasteful to him to be having this conversation.
Now, I was beginning to get really weirded out. Up until that point, it had always been unspoken that he tolerated my constant and generally uncool presence in exchange for my friendship, total devotion, and willingness to do absolutely anything in the world for him.
Carefully, I replied, "Just hanging out with my best friend, like I always do."
He thought for a while, and said, "No. I'm not your best friend."
My heart stopped beating for a split second when I heard that. At this point, I really didn't like where this conversation was headed, and I had no idea what this was all about. I was getting really scared. I can't lose my best friend and the love of my life in an instant-just like that! That would be too painful to even consider. I guess fear and hurt lead to anger, because I was now getting a little pissed.
"The fuck you aren't my best friend...I'll decide for myself if that's ok with you!" I snapped. He was a little surprised at the tone of my voice, because I had never gotten angry with him before. He kinda jolted back to his normal mode, and I could see the hurt in his eyes.
He said quietly, "I just mean it would be better for you if I wasn't."
I totally lost my patience with the hidden meanings flying around, because I still had no idea what he meant. "Goddamit Kim, what in the hell are you talking about ?" I said (a little louder than I intended), throwing my hands up in exasperation.
He took a deep breath and replied, "You're going off to college soon, and you know I'm not. You're in a different world than me, man; you have a future. I don't even know what I'm going to do next year. You don't want to hang with me. You got better things to do than that. Besides, I know you don't want to keep hanging with a drug addict."
"WHAT THE FUCK?!?"
Now, Kim knew I was always totally against drugs even if it made me 'uncool'. I never got on his case for an occasional joint (hell, he even tricked me once into tasting some pot-laced chocolate chip cookies he made-he thought that was just the funniest goddam thing he ever saw...), but this was something new. However, it was starting to make sense in the back of my mind with all that was going on in his life lately.
"What are you talking about, Kim? I don't get it!" I said, covering my face with my hands. I was starting to get really upset and I didn't want him to see me crying.
He went on, "You know how hard it is for me to work late, practice, get up on time in the morning, and all that stuff. One of the guys at work showed me how he does it." He then dug into his pocket and pulled out a plastic baggie filled with little pills. "Speed, man. All the guys at work do it. I've been doin' it for a while now, and I can't seem to get by without it...and I guess I haven't really wanted to lately."
Now I could see then pain in his eyes through the dim light in the cab of his truck. He didn't like what was happening to him, and all this was his awkward way of asking me for help. I just put my head in my hands and tried as hard as I could not to cry. I cared about him so much, it really hurt me to hear all this; it felt like someone was stabbing me right in the heart.
"Fuuuuuuuuuck!" I exhaled loudly, to no one in particular.
Then that sense of hurt just coalesced in my heart into a sense of determination. Not really angry, but it was something like the serious, totally focused, 'kick-butt' mood I can get into on the tennis court when it was time to take charge and win the match. Time to open a can of 'whoop-ass.' My boy needed me right now, big-time.
"Ok, Kim. Look at me. This is the deal. As far as this drug stuff goes, you're done. Right now." I said as I snatched the bag out of his hand.
He looked at me kinda surprised, but didn't seem to be in the mood to take me on right at that moment. I took it and the remaining beer and stepped out of the truck. I threw it as far down the hill as I possibly could. The brief explosion of effort it took for me to throw it all away helped release some of my pent up emotional energy, and I felt a little calmer. When I sat back in the truck and closed the door I continued, staring intently right into his eyes.
"Kim, whether you like it or not right now, you're stuck with me. I'm gonna do anything it takes to make sure you get off this and stay off. You can't stop me, so don't even try...I care about you way too much to watch you do this to yourself," I said a little too forcefully, as I noticed him stiffen up a little bit in his seat.
"Do you have any idea how much you mean to me? You think I would be better off without you in my life? Shit, I would be totally lost without you in my life, Kim! Ya, I'm kinda smart, but so what? Everyone has their god-given talents, and so do you. You have an incredible gift, don't you see that? So what if it doesn't show up too well in school or on a report card? You are gonna be a professional driver some day, and you know it! You have the ability, and you have the determination. I just know in my heart that I'll be watching you one day on TV driving in the Indy 500 or something like that, and it'll be the happiest day of my life! I really believe that, man..." I was on a roll now, and he seemed to be willing to listen for a moment longer, so I continued on without hesitating.
"You're an amazing person, Kim. I have never met anyone who doesn't like you. Everyone loves Kim. Do you have any idea what it is like being someone like me? Someone who nobody usually notices or even cares about? Someone who feels totally alone most of the time, except when I'm with you? You just have no idea man..." I said, wiping my eye. I was starting to get a little teary again after the adrenaline rush started to subside, and I think he noticed. "Just look at me, Kim. You took my sorry ass and tried to give me a little bit of your coolness. You turned me into a real person, at least. I may never be cool like you, or as gifted an athlete. But don't you see how much you've given me the last year and a half? How much I've changed just being around you?"
After that, I suddenly just ran out of words; so, I slumped back in my seat and put my hands on top of my head, and closed my eyes-something I always did when I was frustrated or lost, just not knowing what else to do at the moment. I was really worried that I let a little too much information slip in that last outburst. Kim sat there an awful long time just staring out the window, while I did the same-afraid to look over at him. I was jolted back to the present by the sound of him starting the engine and pulling away...to go home I assumed. He didn't say a word the whole way. He just stared straight ahead while driving, with a thoughtful and concerned look on his face. I started to feel a little relieved, because I could begin to sense he wasn't really pissed at me, and he wasn't ready to toss me out just yet. When we pulled up at my house, he shut off the engine at the curb. Now, this was usually our place to talk, but I could sense he really wasn't in the mood to say anything more tonight.
By now my heart was aching again after all that had just gone down between us. I just couldn't make myself walk away silently, even though I knew that's what he was hoping I would do. I'm not sure what possessed me, but I put my hand firmly on his shoulder and gave it a good squeeze. "Kim, you know everything I said was the truth. Think about it, man. Believe it. You mean more than anything in the world to me. You know that, right?"
He just continued to stare straight ahead, and pulled away from my hand on his shoulder. Then, he said quietly, "Ya. Bye," and drove away.
Wow, was all I could think to myself. Nobody ever touched Kim like that! He didn't really allow anyone to invade his personal space. Ever. I had put my hand on his warm shoulder, and he let it stay there for a couple seconds before pulling away (and he didn't even take a swing at me!). It felt so wonderful...even just for the short time I could feel the electricity of the contact all the way in the center of my chest. It really felt like I was able to transmit my love directly to him with a simple touch like that. That thought just blew my mind. I would have given literally anything in the universe for a long, tight hug from him. All I wanted out of life at that moment was to simply feel his arms wrapped around me, and to rest my head softly on his shoulder. Just one time...that's all! That wasn't too much to ask, was it? My heart ached for that one simple thing night and day. Yet, I knew it was still far beyond my reach...painfully far.
I was consumed with the events of that night all weekend. But, after a while I just had an inner feeling that everything was going to be ok; at least for the short term. That Monday when we showed up for practice, Kim was all business. No jokes, no conversation, just determined hustle and hard work. I just stayed quiet and matched him the whole time with my own hard work and determination, while keeping a close eye on his every move. After practice, we silently got into his truck, ready to drive home. But, he just sat there staring out the window for a long time, and making me more than a little nervous. Then I saw that goofy grin I had grown to love so much start to spread slowly across his face.
He turned to me and said, "Ok...I went in to the counselors office today and picked up an application for the JC (our local community college). I'm gonna take auto mechanics there next year. Maybe I can learn something to help me with my racing, ya know? Even if I don't make it driving, I can still learn how to wrench."
I sighed a huge relief. "Oh Kim dude, that's sooo cool! That's great. I'm really proud of you, bud."
He said, "Ya, I guess. You were right, you know...I hafta stay clean. I know I can't be a good tennis player or a good kart racer if I get fucked up with that stuff," he sighed.
"Thanks," I said. I knew that was as close to a thank you or any kind of acknowledgement of my contribution to his life that was ever gonna come out of his mouth. I just had to break out with a huge smile.
Then, he handed me his keys. "Huh?" I gave him a questioning look.
"You drive home, I'm tired," he said.
Now wait a minute here, I thought to myself. "Uh, Kim dude? Well...I mean...you never let anyone drive your truck. And, you know I've never driven a clutch before. So...I don't get it."
He replied calmly, "Man, I'm not gonna drive all the way to Vegas by myself. So, you better learn pretty quick. Besides," he said, looking straight into my eyes and smiling that heartwarming smile that always totally melts my insides, "You got a pretty good teacher sittin' here, ya know?"
Ok, now I was getting the picture! He was offering to teach me how to drive a clutch! In his own precious, almost-brand-new truck no less! Wow, another 'coolness' lesson coming up! I remembered that we were planning on going to a big Kart race in Las Vegas pretty soon, and now he wanted me to share the driving. God, this is so cool. Don't ya just gotta love him at a time like this?
"Hey," he said, "And ya better make sure to take the long way home, too."
So, we spent the next hour or more driving around town and on the local freeways. It took me a little time to get it down smoothly, but Kim really was a great teacher. He was more patient with me than I had ever seen him, and he barely flinched the few times I ground the gearbox or stalled out his precious truck. By the time we made it home, I felt like I had it down pretty well. I was so happy right then I was really flying high (high on love too, I guess). I pulled to the curb in front of my house and shut off the engine, turning to see him lounging back in the passenger seat with a weary smile, looking proud of himself and satisfied with my efforts. It had been such a great day; I just couldn't hold it in anymore.
"Thanks, man. You truly are my best friend, ya know? You are the greatest, Kim. I really don't know what I would do without you..." I looked intently into his eyes, trying to say without words how much I loved him, hoping he wouldn't notice the tears starting to form there. I so very desperately wanted to wrap my arms around him and hug him like, forever...but all I could do was give him another squeeze on his shoulder, hand him his keys, and hop out of the truck. As I got to the front door, I turned and saw him looking at me thoughtfully. When he saw me, he looked away quickly, started his truck, and sped off as usual.
Wow. He didn't pull away when I touched him that time. He just kinda pretended it wasn't happening. "Progress," I said, smiling to myself as I walked through the door.
For the rest of the school year I stayed as close to Kim as I could. I kept on his case about staying clean and graduating as much as I could without pissing him off. I even made him study with me so I was sure he would pass all his classes, which was totally new territory for us. Tennis season was now over. We had won our league, and Kim and I stayed undefeated in doubles during the regular season. As we advanced through the CIF playoffs, our team eventually got to the fourth round. The problem was, we were playing Corona Del Mar next. They were a very wealthy town next to Newport Beach, California; and they had an unbelievable team. Their best player was the son of a famous retired tennis star, and he was ranked as best in the entire country for our age. He already had a scholarship signed to play for USC. And, the rest of the team was pretty damn good also. Needless to say, we got killed. But, no one seemed too upset by it. They were really good, and we knew we had played our best. Life goes on.
But, one thing that day really killed me personally. Kim had asked the coach to play singles that day. He didn't tell me ahead of time, because I'm sure he knew I would have spent every waking moment trying to talk him and the coach out of it. Not only had he really hurt my feelings, but he also ended our chance at an individual doubles title for state CIF. After we got back from the match (they were the home team) he drove me home and we sat in silence again in his truck parked at the curb in front of my house. I hadn't spoken to him at all since I found out we weren't going to play together that day before the matches, and I wanted him to know how hurt I was. He abruptly broke the silence as we sat there.
"Hey, I wanted to get some more experience playing singles, ya know?" he said. "I'm gonna start working out with a new coach now, and he wants me to play a lot of tournaments this summer, you know, by myself in singles." The look in his eyes told me right away that he knew I was really hurt, but I wasn't in the mood to let it show. He continued, "You know, you're gonna be gone to college soon. What else am I gonna do?" he said looking at me intently.
Damn, those eyes. He sure knows how to get to me like that. With just one quick glance, he could apologize for hurting my feelings, but defend his decision as being basically reasonable in his mind.
"Ya, I'm sure you're gonna do great," I sighed. "I hope you plan on me being there to watch your matches; you know I wouldn't miss it." But, I'm sure he could hear the disappointment in my voice.
As he was leaving he said, "Anyway, don't forget; we have to start packing up for the big race Friday night, and we have to get up at 3am to leave on Saturday morning. I'll pick ya up after your last class."
"K," I said, sounding tired and depressed, even for me.
Ya, the big race. We were finally going to Las Vegas for the regional Kart racing championship. Kim was ranked third best on the west coast, and I knew from past conversations that he was really excited about his first big national race. People would be there: important racing people, the kinds who sign up new drivers for professional racing teams. I really was glad he wanted me to come with him. He and I would drive his truck, and his dad and brother would follow in theirs. The cool thing was that we got to stay in Vegas. His dad got us two rooms in a cheap hotel on the strip. Kim and I would share one of them. I thought about how cool it would be, sleeping in the same room with him for the first time-I was getting way too excited about that for my own good! I knew I wasn't going to be able to stay mad at Kim very long for ending our competitive doubles career as he did, that little shit!
We carried on like normal during the five-hour drive to Vegas. We could sometimes just talk about nothing for hours and enjoy the hell out if it. We listened to some music that we both liked (we did have a lot in common in our taste in music, it turned out...). He loved telling me stupid jokes that would make me laugh (a pretty rare occurrence most any other time). I can see now, looking back, that these were the times when he was really showing me just how much he cared about me, in his own way. I just wish I had seen it as clearly at the time.
We got to the track and worked our asses off in practice, and in perfecting the race day set-up for his and his brother's karts. After sundown, his dad handed us some money, and told us to go have dinner and relax a little-just no drinking, and make sure to get to bed early. That wasn't really a problem for Kim, as he never abused his body the night before a big race (any other time was an open question...). His 14 year old brother took off on his own with a huge-titted blond girl, who looked at least 18 (his brother was quite the ladies man- he was about 4" taller than both of us, and looked to be at least similarly endowed as Kim, and then some...).
Kim and I just grabbed a nice quiet steak dinner, and went to bed. I could tell he was totally amped up, and I knew he sometimes had trouble sleeping the night before a race. He went to take a shower while I watched TV. He came out a few minutes later wearing just his swim trunks and hopped into the other twin bed. I guess he wasn't going to show off his bikini undies for me this time when he was sober. Bummer! We turned off the light and tried to sleep. Well, I sure couldn't sleep with the thought of him lying in the bed next to me, almost naked! After an hour of staring at the ceiling (and thinking how nice it would feel to be laying in bed next to him...feeling his smooth warm skin against mine), I heard him sit up.
"Fuck," he said. "I can't fucking go to sleep. I never can before a big race."
"You wanna talk?" I asked, thinking that may help get it off his mind.
"Nah," he replied.
After several more minutes of him thrashing around in his bed and occasionally swearing, I was getting uptight. I really wished he would let me do something for him. Doesn't he realize that I live for chances like this to show him how much I care about him? I had decided long ago that since I can't actually bring myself to say it, I had to let my actions speak for themselves.
"What always helps me go to sleep is a good back massage," I said a little too hopefully perhaps, not looking over to where he was laying in his bed.
Silence. I turned over to look at him and he gave me this 'if you even pretend to be serious about that last comment I'm gonna kick your ass for sure' look, but not saying anything.
"Ah, um... well... then, good night man. Hope you get some sleep," I replied and rolled over.
After that, I actually did go to sleep; afraid of what might happen next if I didn't. But, I awoke again sometime in the middle of the night with a raging piss-hard. As I was coming back from the head having relieved the pressure, I could see him sleeping there from the light in the bathroom. I left the light on, but closed the door almost all the way so I had just enough light to sit and look at him by. It was these times when I felt most in love with him, just soaking him in with my eyes. Tonight, however, I was just too horny to take it anymore. That piss-hard had returned with a vengeance, and my hormones told me I had to take advantage of this opportunity. Since he was lying on his back with his arms over his head (he looked so cute like that, and I just loved those tiny little tufts of dark hair under his arms!), I slowly slid my hand underneath his sheets until it rested lightly on his hip. I carefully explored the swim trunks until I found the center of my universe. I could feel his balls, his dick hair mounded up under the suit, and finally the base of one very hard shaft which seemed to be pointing slightly up and away from me towards his other hip. As I traced upwards with my fingers along his rod, I finally discovered the blazing hot head poking out the top of his trunks. With my fingers fully extended, I could feel the tip of his dick, and also feel the beginning of the base somewhere below my wrist (I later re-created that measurement with a tape measure at home and came up with the fact that he had to be somewhere between 7.5 and eight inches! Shit, that was about 2-3 inches longer than me!). Unfortunately, the feeling of my fingers on his sensitive dick head caused him to stir, and he soon rolled over, grinding his dick into the mattress until he was comfortable again. After waiting a very long time to be sure he was asleep, I kissed him lightly on the head, said "Good night, Kimba," and went back to bed after another trip to the head to relieve a different kind of pressure.
Race day was a blast. After two exciting and agonizing hours of racing, Kim had come in second place. Everyone said they thought he was the best driver on the track that day, but some bad luck had cost him first place. Some idiot being lapped by the field had decided to give a demonstration on how to drive with your head up your ass; and had caused a big wipe out. Kim reacted quickly enough to avoid any contact, but it slowed him down quite a bit, and gave the leader about a half-track-length lead. From then on, Kim was just flying-he set a track record lap time for his class during that last part of the race-but he just couldn't make up all the ground he'd lost. But, it was a moral victory, in that the winner could definitely see him closing in behind and coming hard the last few laps. I was so proud of him I just couldn't stand it. By the last two laps, I had slipped away from our pit so nobody would see me crying. At that point I knew he couldn't win, and I just hurt sooo much inside knowing how he must have felt out there. Once again, the best driver on the track didn't win the race today.
As soon as it was over, I found myself running down the track at full speed to find him. He was standing next to his kart; helmet in hand, talking to some of the other drivers in his typical easy manner. No one would have guessed how hurt he felt inside, but I knew. I snuck up behind him where he couldn't see me coming, and gave him the biggest hug I could muster, lifting him off his feet-trying to squeeze my love right into him.
"Kim! You were so awesome dude! Did you know you set a track record on lap 95?" I said squeezing him to me so hard he couldn't talk.
He discreetly, but quickly, pulled himself away from me and shot me a very quick 'what the fuck are you doin' touching me like that-especially in front of all these people?' kinda look as he took his racing gloves off; then he paused slightly, and said with a big smile, "Ya, man. It felt like I was really haulin' ass there at the end. I just let it all hang out...balls to the wall, right?" he said, as he laughed to himself at his little joke.
By then everyone was crowding around to give him his due praise, and I slipped back to the edge of the crowd and sat on the side railing of the track, just watching everyone adoring my guy. It felt great to see him get his respect from the other racers and mechanics. He looked happy enough, but I knew he was really disappointed on the inside. Our eyes quickly made contact through the crowd one time, his face softened ever-so-briefly, and he gave me a wistfully happy look that seemed to tell me 'thanks for being there and understanding how I'm feeling right now,' as a mini-apology for his previous scornful look. He finally had the fastest kart on the track that day (due to some very good work between him and his dad in analyzing the track conditions and making the right adjustments), but it still wasn't good enough to win.
We hung out after the race, shot the shit with the other regular karting teams we knew, and Kim drank more than a few beers. I figured he was trying to hide his disappointment behind a six-pack tonight, so I would be driving home. I made sure to grab a few Cokes to keep me awake for the drive. His dad and bro had long since left, but they had been nice enough to load Kim's truck up for us. So, all I had to do was dump him in the front seat, and pull out for the long ride home. I figured that he would probably sleep the whole way anyways; knowing how tired, emotionally drained, and flat-out drunk he was.
As I cruised along the highway, I just reveled to myself at how proud I was of him today. He really showed everyone how much talent he had, and how much class he had. He never complained once about his bad luck, and he damn sure showed everyone that there was no quit in him today. God, I loved him so much I just couldn't stand it. As I drove, I glanced over at him slumped in the corner of the passenger seat, and I smiled. He was just so damn cute when he was asleep; it never failed to get to me. I felt things begin to stir in my pants, as I recalled what happened last night. I reached out with my right hand, and just rested it on his leg as I drove. Just that simple contact was enough for me at the time.
After a couple hours I was getting pretty bored and a little tired myself, and I didn't want to turn on the radio and wake him up. So, I just started talking to him real softly like I did sometimes when he was asleep. It felt so good to actually hear myself say the words "I love you Kimba" with him right there. I told him how proud of him I was, what a great job he did, how impressed all the other drivers, mechanics (and I'm sure a few pro scouts) were. I chatted on like this to him for a while; of course thinking he couldn't hear me.
Suddenly, he groaned, moved around a bit and said groggily, "Keep it down lover boy, I'm trying to sleep here," and appeared to doze off again.
SHIT! Whoa, man-hold on there! -Don't wreck the truck, you idiot! I thought to myself as I swerved all over the two lanes in my brief panic. He couldn't have heard all that, could he? Even so, he probably wouldn't remember it in the morning, right? Whew, that was certainly enough of an adrenaline rush to keep me wide-awake for the rest of the drive home! Thankfully, I didn't need to stop to change my underwear, which I had just narrowly missed pissing in when he said that.
Oh man...I can't believe that just happened! I wasn't sure what to do. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that all I could do was to try not to worry about it, and try not to expect the worst as I finished the drive home. I eventually got us into to his driveway, and hauled him into the house and into his room. He seemed coherent enough to get himself into bed, so I grabbed my backpack and slowly began my walk home, lost deep in my thoughts. It was 2AM on a foggy June night. I always loved the peacefulness of the world on a warm foggy night. Everything was so quiet. Reality easily gave way to wishful thinking during these magical hours. I liked that. Those were the times when Kim and I really could be together forever in my mind, and I savored that thought. Now that school was getting out, there were all sorts of questions in my mind about the future. Questions about us that I really didn't want to know the answer to at that moment.
The phone woke me up at around 10AM the next morning. When I picked it up, I heard a pretty well rested sounding Kim say, "Hey, get your ass up! I'm taking you out for juevos rancheros in ten minutes."
"K," was the only sound I could get to croak out, being just barely awake after way too little sleep. In the shower, I thought about the last two days as I stood under the deluge of hot water. After a while, I tentatively decided that things must be okay if he wants to go out for our mutual favorite breakfast.
We had a really good time, just talking and hashing over all the weekend's events. He was in an incredibly good mood. It was just two good buds relaxing together. He never said anything to make me think that he remembered something I was hoping he didn't, and boy was I sure praying I was right! I really enjoyed seeing him so happy, and feeling pretty good about himself and his life for a change. Sitting there listening to him chatter on and watching him closely, It suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks just how much he had grown as a person in the last two years. That intensely warm feeling I get in the center of my chest came over me in a rush. It really got to me, and I started to get tears in my eyes again. I had to grab a napkin to wipe my face and discretely blow my nose.
He looked over at me while shoving a big bite of food in his mouth and half laughing at himself as he was doing it, with sauce running down his chin. He saw my face, and his expression changed instantly.
"What?" he said.
"Nothin'," I replied.
What bullshit Rick, I thought to myself. It was most certainly not 'nothin'. Come on...tell the truth you coward!
"Well, Kim...uh...really, I was just thinking to myself how proud of you I am, you know? Like, I'm sure you know that I'm you're biggest fan. You were so awesome yesterday! I can't help but think back a few months ago, you know?"
Uh oh. I think I blew it with my big mouth that time...we never talked about that fateful conversation on the Crest Highway. He got kinda uptight whenever I mentioned it, so I had long ago made it a point not to say anything about it. He looked into my eyes for a moment, and I noticed that the warm, intense, friendly vibe I always got wasn't there. It wasn't angry, and it wasn't the horrible empty look he gave that day on the Crest. It felt more like a look of sadness, or pity.
"You ready?" he said abruptly, breaking the silence. "I gotta split 'cuz I have a lesson with my new coach at noon."
He drove me home, and we didn't say much in the truck on the way back. I just sat there, lost in my own thoughts while he drove. Suddenly, I realized we were at my house. I hopped out, and he sped off without looking back. I walked up to the house and sat on the front porch, staring out into space some more. Something just wasn't right, but I couldn't figure out exactly what it was. Kim was acting differently today. Although it was a very subtle difference, I could definitely sense something. But I just couldn't get a good grasp on what it was; and, all of a sudden, I didn't feel that sense of connection with him that I lived for, that I needed more than air to breathe. It had kinda become like my security blanket. It always made me feel safe, no matter what else was happening around me.
We didn't talk much the next few days, but that was typical. Whenever we spent a lot of time together lately, he would take a few days off from me until I got so desperate for his attention he would let me back in his life for a while. I finally called him on Friday morning.
"Hey Kim, what's the plan for tonight?" I asked. We always did something on Friday night, because he usually didn't work that night.
"Look man," he said, "I'm not going out tonight. I'm just gonna go and work on some Kart stuff at my dad's." Hmmm. Now, that was unusual-but no big deal by itself.
"Then stop by and pick me up. We can grab a couple of burritos and some beers while we work," I suggested.
"No, man...don't bother," he replied. "I'm sure you can find something fun to do tonight. I'll catch ya later. Bye," he said, abruptly hanging up before I could make my case any further.
Now my curiosity was steadily growing into sheer panic. I could sense that something just wasn't right in my world, and the more I thought about it, the more terrified I became. I went into my room, lay down on my bed, and promptly fell asleep while worrying about what was happening to my precarious existence.
I awoke around 8PM, hungry as hell. I figured I would just get a burrito by myself anyway, since it was my favorite dinner, and I was totally starving after missing lunch while I slept. After stopping by our favorite Mexican take-out place, I realized that I was already halfway to Kim's dad's house. Why not just cruise on by and satisfy my curiosity? So, of course I did. Needless to say, I wasn't too surprised to find that he wasn't there, or expected any time soon. Now I really felt like Shit! I felt bad for not believing him, but I felt even worse for finding out I had good reason not to. I felt terribly hurt and alone all of a sudden, just because he wanted to do something without me for one night. I felt so pathetic for feeling like that. I just slowly drove home, crawled into bed, and cried myself to sleep again.
By the next morning, all my hurt feelings had fermented into a combination of anger, fear, and hopelessness. As soon as I woke up, I hopped right out of bed, threw on my clothes, and drove straight to Kim's house. Damn! His truck wasn't there. Across town, I finally found his truck parked in front of his dad's house. He was the only one there; working alone in the garage on his kart, with the garage door open to the street. He looked up briefly and noticed me coming up the driveway, and I didn't like the look I could see on his face. Right away, I could see the emotional walls he put up around himself were in place and ready for battle. There was no warmth in there for me this morning...just hard resolve, and a little annoyance. I walked up close to where he was working, but he wouldn't look at me or acknowledge my presence yet.
"Hey, Kim," I said softly.
When he finally looked back up at me, I was surprised to see a look of such tremendous pain and hurt in his eyes...he actually looked like was close to tears himself. I had never seen anything like that from him before, and I was shocked and totally confused at this point.
Not knowing quite how to respond to that, my anger re-surfaced, and I said, "You have a good time last night?" He didn't look back at me or say anything in response. I had already guessed that he knew I had figured out he was lying to me yesterday. Still, he said nothing.
"Look, Kim," I said, "You don't have to lie to me. Just tell me the truth if you don't want to hang with me. But it really hurts, ya know?" I said trying really hard not to let the tears begin. "Just remember man, you can't possibly know what it's like being the one to get left out. Always being the one who doesn't get invited. Being the one who's not cool, and totally knowing it. You just have no idea what it's like to be me!"
At this point I was really losing it as I stood there yelling at him with tears streaming down my face. He looked down at the bench where he was working, and patiently waited a few minutes for me to settle down (and to gather himself also, I think), and then looked back up at me again. This time, the look of such terribly deep sadness and pity in his eyes was just too much for me to take. It cut like a knife right through my heart. It was over now. I knew instantly that it was me he was sad for. It was me that he pitied. He knew what he was going to do next would crush the life right out of me; and now, so did I.
"Look man, I don't think we can't hang out together any more. Like I told you before, I just don't think I can't be your best friend," he said with finality.
Ok, here it comes...just let me die quickly, God. Please don't make me suffer. "KIM! NO! Don't do this to me!" I half-yelled, half-moaned.
I flew towards him trying hug him into my arms again one more time. I desperately wanted to just hang on to him and never let him go. But, he grabbed me before I could reach him and gently held me away from him at arm's length.
"Kim...please don't...No!...I need you," I sobbed softly in his arms.
I couldn't make myself look at him any more, and just hung my head down crying. Damn, why was he always stronger than me? At that point, he guided me to the worktable. I collapsed on a stool, put my head down and covered it with my hands, sobbing uncontrollably. Here I was, watching my worst fear in the whole world coming to pass right in front of me. I felt completely helpless to stop it. Both my mind and body were totally paralyzed with grief at this point...I couldn't even bear to look at him again. That look in his eyes was still burning in my mind, and I never wanted to see it again. EVER.
After a while I looked up and noticed he was no longer in the garage. I wiped my face off as best I could. As I walked into the house to look for him, I thought to myself, "Well, this is it. You have nothing to loose now. Why not just tell him how you feel? Just say all the things you've been afraid to say for so long? Why can't you just say I LOVE YOU KIM?"
As I desperately searched within myself for the courage to attempt that, I rounded the corner and saw him sitting in front of the TV eating a sandwich. As I opened my mouth to let it all out in the open for once and for all, he looked at me again. The look in his eyes froze me in my tracks, and they remained locked on to mine for a few moments. I couldn't speak now, even if I wanted to. The look in his eyes was forceful, commanding me to just stop right where I was and not to say anything at all; and, it told me everything I needed to know.
It was perfectly clear now. Yes, he knew exactly how I felt about him. No, he wasn't even remotely comfortable with it. Yes, he cared about me; but no, we couldn't possibly be friends any more at this point. He definitely didn't want to talk about it, so don't even try to go there. Yes, it hurt him to do this, but clearly not as much as it did me. He didn't hate me for who I was, but he just couldn't have me in his life any more. He didn't understand how I could love him the way I did; it didn't make any sense to him, and there was no place in his world to fit that idea. He wasn't offended by it; he just plain couldn't understand it...and that kinda scared him. He honestly felt I would be better off not loving him, and he felt that he had to give me a reason not to.
I just stood there speechless for a few seconds, my mouth making a few strange sounds as I was trying desperately to get my body and my emotions to respond to my own commands-but to no avail. Finally, in a sudden rush of confusing feelings, I found myself turning and running wildly out the door in the general direction of my car (not seemingly under my own conscious control), sobbing uncontrollably again. It was almost like I was watching myself from someone else's eyes. It felt so strange.
When I woke up, it felt like I was actually still in a dream. I wasn't totally sure it was a dream, but everything just seemed so surreal to me at the moment. I was in a white room. In a white bed. A window to the outside showed a smoggy but sunny sky. As I became more alert I noticed all kinds of medical devices lined up around the walls of the room. My arm hurt, and I looked down to see a tube sticking out of it, all taped down to my skin. Hmmm. I must not be dreaming. An 'IV' I think they call it. "I guess I'm in a hospital..." I thought to myself in a somewhat detached, emotionless way.
The door to the room carefully swung open, and a woman who was obviously a nurse looked in.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
Hmmm. How did I feel? I searched around in my head for some kind of feelings, but found nothing. Just emptiness, really.
"What happened? How did I get here?" I croaked out.
"We were hoping you could tell us," she replied. "You seem to have a nasty bump on your head, and a moderately severe concussion," she said softly.
With that, I suddenly realized that my head really did hurt...I just hadn't quite noticed it before that moment. "Ya, I guess my head does hurt a little. But, I have no idea what happened or how I got here," I said numbly.
"All I know," she said, "was that the ER nurses told me that some young guy about your age driving a red mini-pickup brought you in, but refused to stay. They tried to stop him from leaving, but he just ran out as fast as he could. He was crying like a baby, they said."
Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Aaauuuuuagh! I remembered in one painful instant everything that had happened this morning. I tried to talk, but I was so overwhelmed that I just lost it completely. It felt like someone had just kicked me in the stomach and stabbed me in the heart at the same time. She gave me a concerned look, and I noticed she had a syringe and was injecting something into the tube that led into my arm.
"Now, you should try and get some more rest," she said. "Your mother has been notified, but she won't be here for a little longer yet. This will help you sleep for a while." My eyes were rapidly closing even as she spoke. I soon felt a growing sensation, something like floating gently down a quiet river. Peaceful. Lazy. Tired.
To this day, I can remember the dream I had then quite clearly. I still have it sometimes.
"Oh shit!" I heard a voice say. I felt someone rolling my body over by my shoulder. I blinked open my eyes, looking upwards into the glare of the sun.
"Hey, what happened to you? Are you ok, man? Can you hear me?" he asked.
Yes, I did hear. But, I was strangely unable to make a sound, or move anything. All I could do was look up into the most incredible pair of dark brown eyes hovering over me. I could see a gentle warmth and great concern in them. I could sense that it was for me. It felt nice.
"Dammit, I said can-you-hear-me! I can see you looking at me, why don't you say something? Move something?"
Sorry, I just can't, I thought to myself. I don't know why.
"Fuck, what have I done to you, man?"
He picked me up and quickly carried me to the front seat of a small truck, shut the door, and got in. I noticed that I wasn't really seeing anything now, just hearing the sounds of the engine starting, and sensing the movement of the truck through something that seemed like a very dark foggy night.
"FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!" I heard him banging his hand on the steering wheel. "God dammit man, why'd you have to go and do this?"
I could definitely hear that this person was crying while he said that. But, I thought to myself, I hadn't done anything wrong. You just rolled me over. There you were. It felt so good just to look into those eyes, I thought.
"Don't you know what you're doing to me, man?" he continued, sobbing. "You just gotta understand I can't love you. I just can't. It's not possible for me to love you the way you love me, can't you see that? You deserve better than me, anyhow. Don't you ever forget that, ok?"
I was trying hard to understand all of what he was saying, but it didn't really make any sense to me at the time. Just words. I felt like I knew what they all meant separately, but together they were just a jumble of nonsense. I was beginning to feel a real sense of frustration, not being able to make sense of what was going on around me. Then things slowly began drifting away. The sounds gradually became more and more distant, eventually fading into silence.
The next two days were sheer misery for me. All I could do was lay there in the hospital, desperately trying to come to grips with what had just happened to me. I just had this sinking feeling in my chest that I would never see him again. Everything seemed so utterly pointless. I actually found myself wondering if life was actually worth living any more. A life for me without Kim just seemed so impossible at that moment-so far away as to be unthinkable.
As I lay there in agony, my thoughts were obsessed with trying to understand what had happened. How could he do that to me? He obviously knew how I felt about him. Was it possible to love someone as much as I loved Kim without him feeling even a little bit in return? Just what was it I had seen in his eyes so many times that had always managed to melt my heart?
Of course, in the back of my mind, I realized I had always known the answers to those questions in some ways. I was definitely not hallucinating...I had always seen real emotions in his eyes when he looked at me. He truly cared about me...and he sincerely appreciated how much I cared for him. Perhaps he even felt a little bit guilty that he was simply unable to return most of my feelings. But, in the end, the bottom line was that I had indirectly threatened the most important things in his life, and he had no choice. Every instinct in his body told him what he needed to do, although it pained him incredibly deeply to do so. He was a little angry with me for making him do something so difficult...so distasteful to him; to finally confront the troubling issues my presence had long brought into his mind, and into his life.
But, in the end there was simply no other choice for him. The world he had chosen for himself...the hopelessly straight world of auto racing, hard living, busty blond women, etc...had no room in it for me. He couldn't quite visualize how he could easily explain my presence in his life. "Oh, ya...by the way, uh... this is my gay friend who is hopelessly in love with me...but don't mind him. He's harmless, really." Ya, right.
I also had to wonder to myself if Kim was really capable of loving anyone, let alone me. I wasn't entirely sure he could ever completely let down the walls around his heart and allow another person freely inside. But, I knew if I had one thing to thank him for, it was simply for teaching me (even if it was kind of unintentionally...) just what love really was...what it actually felt like. I just hope he eventually gets a chance to learn it too. More than anything in the world, I had wanted to be the one to show him that. I knew how much it would change him. But, in the end, it clearly wasn't supposed to be that way.
Arriving home from the hospital, I headed straight to my room and shut the door, saying I needed to take a short nap. As I was sitting down on my bed, I noticed something on my desk. It was my car keys. "Now how did they get there?" I wondered to myself, as I picked them up. I instinctively checked in my pocket where they usually resided, and felt nothing. Then, I remembered seeing my car parked in back of the house when we had come home just now. Hadn't I left it at Kim's dad's house? I don't remember driving anywhere else after I got there that morning. Hmmm. Then, what looked like a photo caught my eye. It had been lying on the desk under the keys. As I picked it up, I shuddered involuntarily and quickly closed my eyes. I found myself unable breathe at all, suddenly. Very gradually I found the courage to open my eyes again, still holding my breath. As I regained some focus, the picture before me slowly came back into view. Las Vegas Speedway. Two teenage guys hugging and grinning huge shit-eating grins, standing in the middle of the racetrack. One was wearing racing gear; the other shorts, t-shirt, and the ever-present baseball cap turned backwards. I turned it over, and there was some small, faint writing scribbled on the back.
Take care of yourself.
"Bye Kimba. God I love you...I'm gonna miss you so much," I said partly to myself, and partly out loud, as tears streamed down my face. I felt such a profound sense of sadness, it's just too hard to describe. I lay back on my bed, feeling suddenly exhausted, and I was soon asleep. As the dream began, it seemed vaguely familiar.
"Oh shit!" I heard a voice say. I felt someone rolling my body over by my shoulder. I blinked open my eyes, looking upwards into the glare of the sun.
"Hey, what happened to you? Are you ok, man? Can you hear me?"
Yes, I did hear. But, I was strangely unable to make a sound, or move anything. All I could do was look up into the most incredible pair of dark brown eyes hovering over me. I could see a gentle warmth and great concern in them. I could sense that it was for me. It felt nice.