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The Move

Chapter 3

By Doug Smith

I woke up with a cool breeze blowing in the window. It smelled fresh from an overnight shower. I laid in bed listening to the birds, thinking about the day ahead. My hand was on my crotch, rubbing it. It felt good but I wasn't in the mood to jerk off. Last night was an accident. I didn't even know I was doing it. It wouldn't have happened if I had. The times I've tried the past few months didn't do anything for me. It just wasn't the same.

Like I often did I laid in bed talking to Aaron. Not talking aloud but talking in my mind. "I start my new school today Aaron. Mom and Dad say it will be good for me. They say I need a new start. They're probably right but what I really need is you. Why did you leave me? You said you'd always be there. I just hope you're in a good place and you're happy. I wish I was. Wish me well today. It's going to be hard but I'll try to make it a good day. I know you'd want me to. Right now I'm going running. I haven't been for a week and need to get going. I'll talk to you later bud."

I got out of bed and went to the bathroom to empty my bladder. I thought it was a good thing my mother doesn't know I talked to Aaron. She'd want me in counseling 24x7. Two times a week is enough.

I stripped off my boxer briefs and pulled on a clean jock. I found a pair of Andrew Christian mesh training shorts and pulled them on next. I liked how they felt but I really bought them because of the cool website where I found them. Those models were so hot. I don't know if they're gay or not but I sure enjoyed the site. Aaron and I ordered a bunch of stuff together using my parent's credit card. My dad wasn't too happy when a bunch of skimpy underwear came addressed to him. His name was on the card and the website said the names had to match.

I went downstairs, grabbed a quick glass of OJ and went outside to stretch. As I was warming up a guy about my age came across the street.

"Hi, I'm Mike. I live over there. I saw someone moving in the other day and hoped there would be someone my age. It looks like I'll have someone to run with."

The guy was good looking. He wasn't hot like Aaron but he looked pretty good. Even so he didn't do much for me. I guess you can tell some people, just by appearance, aren't the right type. Also, I assumed he is straight. I quess I always assume that. Wouldn't it be nice if you assume people are gay and that being straight is considered 'abnormal'? Not sure how that would work. There would probably be fewer people but it might be easier to get a date.

"I'm Dan. We just moved from Illinois. There's me, my parents and my little brother Scott."

"Cool, welcome to the neighborhood such as it is. It isn't a bad place, just not a lot going on. You ready to run? How far are you going?"

"I haven't run for a week so I'm going to take it easy. Three or four miles should be good. Once I learn my way around I'll do more."

"Follow me. There is a three and a half mile loop we can do. I'll take it easy on you today since you're out of shape."

I laughed. Where did that come from? I hadn't laughed with another guy in months. "Let's go," I said.

It only took us a little over twenty minutes to run the loop Mike took us on. It went through the neighborhood and then along a path through some woods.

"It's about six miles if you don take the shortcut through the woods. We can do that another time."

"Sounds good ... I need to keep it short today anyway. My Dad has to drop me off at school. My jeep is in transit."

"You can ride with me if you want. You're going to the high school in town and not some private school, right? It's not a bad school. You should like it."

"Yeah, I have to meet with the guidance counselor at eight. She wants to get to know me."

Mike laughed. "Good old Ms. Washington. She's okay, one of those people who 'cares' about kids. Not like some of the teachers."

"Great," I said sarcastically. "Just what I need. You sure you don't mind giving me a ride? Why don't you come in and meet my parents? They'll want to know who I'm riding with."

"Sounds like my parents. I'll leave the beer outside. I want to make a good impression," he said with a smile.

I laughed. That was twice now. "I'm sure they'll appreciate that."

Mike came in for a couple minutes just to say hello. I noticed his language changed when he talked to my parents. He was very polite. My parents seemed glad I'd made a friend.

Scott had just come downstairs still dressed in his pajamas.

"Morning," he said as he climbed into a chair. "I'm hungry."

Mike laughed and said he had to go get ready and that he'd pick me up in fifteen or twenty minutes. My parents started to say something but just smiled.

"It was nice meeting you," they said. "We look forward to meeting your family."

"Thanks, I'll tell them," he said as he headed out the door. "See you in a few Dan."

My parents just looked at me as I got some OJ and a bowl of cereal.

"What?" I asked. "He saw me stretching and came over."

"We didn't say anything," my mother said with a smile on her face.

Mike knocked on the door just after 7:20.

"I know it's early, but I like to have a few minutes to see my friends. You'll like them."

"No problem. I'm all ready. Bye Mom. Bye Dad. See you tonight munch," I said giving Scott a playful noogie. I was surprised I was in such a good mood.

The school was less than five miles from my house. Mike talked the entire way telling me how there were only 450 kids, that the sports teams weren't that bad, and that most of the kids have gone to school together all their lives. He didn't have time to go into many details since it took less than ten minutes before he pulled into the parking lot.

"This is it," he laughed. "Welcome to our humble school. A little smaller than what you're use to isn't it?"

"Nothing wrong with small," I said.

"Yeah, size doesn't matter. Right?"

I laughed but did wonder how much Mike had. I felt a little guilty when my cock started to stir. 'Great,' I thought, 'one day and thinking about a straight guy.'

He pointed to the wall next to the main entrance. "Come on ... My friends are over there."

I grabbed my mostly empty backpack and followed him towards his friends.

"Hey guys," he said. "We've got a newbie today. This is Dan. He moved in across from me over the weekend. Dan ... This is Rob and Jill, they're practically one person since they're always together. This is Ron, Bill and Phil."

"Hi guys," I said. "I'm not sure I'll remember names but I'll get it soon enough."

After the introductions everyone started talking about their weekend. Phil and Ron were on the football team and had had a game Saturday night. Phil was evidently the team quarterback and from the way he talked was pretty high on himself. He was one guy I knew I wasn't going to like. I hate people who think they're better than they are. My feeling was confirmed by what happened next.

Two guys were walking towards the school and Phil started in on them.

"There are the school fags Dan. Watch out for them. They walk around like they're special. Nobody can say what they're thinking because it might hurt their feelings. Not this guy. They're faggots," he yelled. "They deserve what they get. Hey faggots � which one of you took it in the ass this weekend?"

I stood there dumbfounded. Yeah, there were bigots at my old school but there wasn't open hostility. At least I didn't experience any. Aaron and I always tried to avoid the spotlight. This guy was incredible. He kept it up and I felt like shit because I didn't say anything.

He must have used the word 'faggot' at least ten times. I hate that word. There are only two contexts where I've heard it used and I don't like either of them. One is when gay guys say it to each other. I guess they think it's okay in that case but I think it's demeaning. The other is when people use it to be hateful. That's obviously how Phil was using it. Whenever I heard it used like that I was reminded of something I read on some website. There was an online discussion of whether it was a bad word or not. One guy summed it up saying it was probably the last word Matthew Sheppard heard before he died. That put it all in focus for me.

It seemed like the two guys walking by were looking right at me. It was probably because I was the new guy and Phil specifically said my name but I was uncomfortable. I tried not to look at them.

Everyone was watching as they walked into the school. Certainly everyone outside the school heard Phil's comments. Some kids snickered, some looked disgusted while others had ambivalent looks on their faces.

"Why does he do that everyday? Doesn't he have anything better to do?" Ryan asked once inside the door.

"He's a jerk," said Chris. "Don't let it bother you. He says it to everyone. Nobody listens to him. He just does it because we don't play sports and aren't in his crowd."

"Yeah, I know but you'd think he'd get tired of it. Maybe he thought he had to impress the new kid. Did you see him looking?"

"Yeah, looks like he found the school asshole right off the bat. Probably a jock. Maybe he's on the football team or something. They need all the help they can get. The team wouldn't suck as bad if Clayton spent more time worrying about football and less time calling people names."

"He just does it because all those guys think he's God. They're all assholes. "

"Too bad, the new kid looks pretty hot," Chris said smirking at Ryan. "He's probably an asshole too. Why else would he be with Clayton?"

"He might not be that bad," said Ryan.

"He's with Clayton. He's an asshole."

"Let's get to class."

I looked at Mike wondering if he was agreeing with Phil or whether he'd say something. I was about to say something when Bill told him to shut up.

"You know you can't say stuff like that. If the wrong teacher hears you then you'll get in trouble and be suspended for a game, maybe more. Besides, you don't even know if they are gay."

Phil laughed. "They're fucking faggots. I know it and you know it."

I couldn't tell what Mike was thinking. He was just standing there. That gave me an uneasy feeling. I thought he was a good guy and I enjoyed running with him. I thought it would be fun to do it regularly but I knew we couldn't be friends if he is a bigot. Not that I planned to come out any time soon I really didn't want to deal with it. At least Phil shut up. He just mumbled 'fuckin faggots' and went back to talking about football.

Nope, I wasn't going to like this guy. I looked at Mike and saw he was looking at me as well. I couldn't read the expression on his face. I tried to show how disgusted I was.

"I have to get to the guidance office," I said. "I'll see you later."

Mike said he could give me a ride home but it couldn't be until after practice. I just said thanks and that I'd find him later as I turned towards the school. Phil said to watch out for the faggots.

'Asshole,' I thought as I walked into the school. Someday I might have the balls to say he'd have to watch out for me but today I just walked away.

Ms. Washington was in her office when I got there. "You must be Dan Johnson," she said. "Welcome to our school. I hope you don't mind chatting a while. I like to get to know our new students."

"Don't I need to get to class? First period starts soon doesn't it?" I knew I had an appointment but was hoping she just wanted a quick meeting.

"Don't worry about that today. We can take this time to talk. I want to get to know you. We can go over your schedule and I'll tell you about our school. The more I know about what type of person you are, what you're interested in, what your thoughts are regarding college and things like that the better I can help you. That's my job after all," she smiled.

'My interests and thoughts regarding college,' I thought. I don't know what they are any more. "There isn't all that much to tell. I'm just a typical sixteen year old. I'm not sure about college. I was planning on it but I'm not sure now. I'll probably end up going but I don't have any idea what I want to do. I haven't thought much about it lately."

"Well, you should think about it. You're a junior. That's when people start to look around but you have time. I've got your transcript from your old school. It shows you were a good student up until last year. Then your grades fell. Care to tell me about it?"

"Not really," I said. "It's just some things happened and I had other stuff on my mind. I think that's why my parents wanted to move. They think it will do me good."

"Well, it could. There is nothing like fresh start. I've talked some with your father."

"What? He didn't tell me that." I was a little worried what he told her.

"He just introduced himself when he set up your appointment. I talked to him a little about the courses you've had so I could figure out what sections you might do well in but I also wanted to talk to you before I finalized anything. I worked out two schedules, one more college prep and the other more general. Do you have a preference?"

"I should probably take courses that will get me into college. I know I've slacked off but I'd be bored in easy courses. I was in the honors track at my old school."

"I see that. Is that what you'd like here? I'm willing to put you in those classes ... In fact that is what I'd tentatively planned but I want you to assure me you will do the work. Based on your transcript and teachers' comments I believe you're capable of it. You just need to work at it. Will you do that?"

I nodded. "I know I need to work harder. It's just been tough lately."

"I'm available to talk any time you want."

"I'm already in counseling. I think it's helping even though I didn't want to do it. My parents say I have to keep going even though we've moved. To make a long story short they say I've been depressed. You won't tell anyone will you?"

"No, this is between you and me and I'll help you in any way I can. I've raised two boys and a girl. They're older. I also have a nephew I'm close to who goes to school here. He doesn't like to admit I'm his aunt around school so I won't tell you who he is but he's a good kid. He's a junior too so he'll probably be in some of your classes." Her face lit up when she mentioned her nephew.

Something about her made me feel comfortable. Maybe I just wanted to tell someone some of what was going on inside of me. I had talked to my counselor but that wasn't the same. She was just doing her job, probing, asking questions, trying to get me to talk. Ms. Washington wasn't doing anything like that. She just seemed to care.

"I know I need to do better ... It's just been so hard ever since ...," I stopped.

"Ever since what Dan?"

I looked at Ms. Washington trying to fight back tears. I so much didn't want to cry in front of her but couldn't help it. "Ever since Aaron died."

"Who is Aaron? A friend of yours? It's hard to lose someone you're close to."

I nodded. "He was the best friend anyone could have."

For the next fifteen minutes I told her about Aaron. Not everything but enough. I told her how we grew up together and were best friends. I told her how we did everything together and were always there for each other. I also told her how he died. I told her more specifics than I had told anyone, including my counselor. I told her how there was an accident and that he died in my arms, looking up at me as he took his last breath and closed his eyes for the last time. I told her how I couldn't do anything, how I just held him, crying like a baby, until someone found us. I told her how we were miles from anywhere and how I couldn't leave him alone. He wasn't breathing and I knew he was dead. I told her how I remember the second he died, how it was the second I could no longer feel his presence inside me. Tears were in my eyes as I talked.

She listened without saying a word. It just all came out. I don't know why. I must have looked like shit with tears running down my face. When I stopped she just looked at me. She had tears in her eyes too.

"Dan, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine what that was like. I lost my sister a few years ago in a car accident but it's even harder when you're young because you don't expect death. The reality of life hasn't hit yet. No wonder you've been depressed. It's obvious you cared about him a great deal. I know it doesn't help to say this but time will help. Maybe coming here will be good for you too. You'll never get over it but you will be able to be happy again, in time. He'd want that for you wouldn't he? Nobody wants you to forget him or forget what he meant to you. That would be impossible. But you being happy again wouldn't be betraying him either."

I looked at her. 'Betraying him?' I thought. Was that why I couldn't be happy. I knew I wished it had been me who died because then Aaron would be alive --- and happy. I'd want him to be happy. Deep down I knew he'd want me to be happy too. I just couldn't let myself be happy. I was so messed up. More to think about but for now I was talked out.

"Thanks Ms. Washington but I'm okay. You're right. I cared about him more than you can imagine. I wished it was me and not him who died. I would have changed places with him in an instant if I could. But I couldn't and here I am. I'm sorry for dumping this on you. I don't usually talk about it. Especially with people I don't know."

She seemed to understand I was done talking. "Don't be sorry Dan. I'm glad you told me and I'm glad you felt comfortable enough to tell me. If you ever want to talk more then feel free to stop by. My door is always open to any student. Perhaps we should go over your schedule."

"Okay," I said. I really did feel a little better. I felt like I wanted this to work. The schedule she handed me had the typical list of classes: Chemistry, Pre-Calculus, Philosophy, History, Phys ed/Health, Computer Applications and English. She said I could change one to take another year of a foreign language but what I had would be sufficient for college since I took a year in middle school. She also explained how each class was an advanced section and that I might have to work in order to catch up.

She spent the next fifteen minutes talking about the school, all the clubs, the sports teams, the band and chorus. I told her I played guitar and sang a little but never sang in a chorus. She mentioned there was a talent show coming up and that it probably wasn't too late to sign up if I wanted. I didn't really get too excited but she said it would be a good way to get to know kids. Even though it had individual acts most students took it seriously. There were dress rehearsals and everyone supported each other. There was even a party afterwards. I just told her it might be fun and I'd think about it even though I wasn't too excited about the idea.

We finished about ten minutes before the end of the period. She said I could walk around to get familiar with the school. "It won't take too long," she laughed. "We're definitely not as big as you're used to. Here everyone knows everyone. I think the principal knows every student on a first name basis."

'Great,' I thought even though I smiled. It wouldn't be good to be my usual sarcastic self.

"I think the principal at my own school only knew the trouble-makers so that will be different."

"Well, you should get ready for second period. You have history. It's on the second floor, room 206. Mr. Howard is a good teacher. He used to be a lawyer but got tired of it so he came to us. He really likes teaching and the students. Like I said, if you need anything or ever want to talk then my door is always open. I will be keeping an eye on how you adjust. I know you've been through a lot and I hope you'll be happy. There are a lot of good kids."

"I hope so too. I guess it's time I stop feeling sorry for myself and try to get on with my life. I don't have much of a choice anyway. It's just hard."

"Dan," she said. "Don't ever look at your grief over losing a good friend as feeling sorry for yourself. Yes, you have to deal with it but if it didn't bother you I'd be more worried."

I just looked at her and nodded. There was something about her that I liked.

I walked out of her office and into the main hall. She was right. This school was definitely smaller than what I was used to. There was a small auditorium across from the office but it looked like it only sat 500 people. It seemed nice. There were spotlights in the ceiling, lights on the stage and paneled walls. I just looked in since there was a class doing some skits on the stage.

There was a corridor off the main hall leading to a couple of classrooms. One had to be the music room since I heard various instruments playing. Hopefully they were just practicing on their own and that wasn't the band because it sounded pretty bad. They definitely weren't playing together. I saw a poster about the talent show and wondered if I should sign up. I wasn't that great but I was decent. I had competed in a few competitions although I never won anything. The last song I played was Joe Satriani's Midnight. I could always do that. I wouldn't have to practice much. My guitar teacher taught me the finger tapping. Most people think it's impressive even though it isn't that hard.

The cafeteria was off to the right a little further down the hall with a library across from that in the center of the building. After that was the gym. There were trophy cases that had a few trophies in them along the wall. Evidently the school was pretty new so there weren't years of trophies. Ms. Washington had mentioned kids used to go to high school in another town but that it had become overcrowded so they built a new school here.

There were corridors off the main hall that lead to classrooms. Upstairs there were just classrooms. The upstairs was smaller than downstairs since it didn't extend over the gym or cafeteria. I found my locker, tried out the combination Ms. Washington had given me and put my backpack inside. Taking my schedule I went to look for my first class.

This is it I thought as I walked into the room. There was a middle-aged man at the front who was obviously the teacher. He didn't look like any of the lawyers my father worked with. Kids were coming in and filling up the seats as the teacher looked up at me.

"Can I help you?"

"Hi," I said. "I'm Dan Johnson. This is my first day and I guess I'm in your class." I said as I handed him my admission slip.

"Well, welcome Dan. I was told there would be a new student so I put some things together. Here's a text along with class rules and expectations. We're just starting a unit on the 1930s examining the similarities and differences between then and now. I hope you like it and look forward to getting to know you. You can sit in any open seat. We don't really have assigned seats but kids tend to sit in the same place everyday. Stop by sometime so we can talk and I can get to know you."

I thanked him and turned to look for somewhere to sit. The entire class was looking at me. I guess I had 'New Kid' stamped on my forehead. I looked around and saw two empty seats next to each other near the back. There was a girl who smiled at me when I sat in the seat next to her. The two guys Phil said all that stuff to were sitting in front of me. I hoped they didn't remember me standing next to him although I'm sure they did. How many new kids can there be?.

"There's that asshole who was with Clayton this morning. It looks like he's in our class."

"You don't even know him. Maybe he's a good guy."

"Are you kidding? He was with Clayton. That's good enough for me."

"It's his first day. He probably doesn't know anyone. Give him a chance. I know what it's like to be the new kid."

"If he hangs out with Clayton then he's an asshole. He doesn't deserve a chance."

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