Travis sat in his living room trying to focus on his chem. Textbook. It was late afternoon / early evening and his mind wandered to thoughts of food... and what might be on TV. Suddenly a sharp, loud ringing noise filled the room and Travis jumped. It took him a second or two to realize that the sound was the fire alarm. He waited a moment for the alarm to stop but when it didn't he reluctantly stepped outside. Two doors down, three boys and a girl emerged from their apartment coughing. Next door, Tammy stepped out to see what was happening. She glanced at Travis who shrugged. After a moment one of the boys in the group two doors down ran back into the apartment and opened the upstairs window. Bluish-white smoke drifted out. Travis looked back down at the two remaining boys one of whom waved at Travis, "it's ok, just a burned pizza" he called. Travis got curious and walked over to talk to him.
"Yeah, I guess I left it in too long. My name is Brock by the way."
"Is everyone okay?" It was David, the West Res director.
"Yeah just a burned Pizza." Brock said.
David sighed; he walked over to an electrical box on the corner of the building. Using a key he had with him he opened the panel and reset the alarm.
"The fire trucks will be on their way, I can't stop them... you're going to have to explain what happened and you know they're not going to be happy. Also the college pays a false alarm fine, I forget how much but it's enough that residence services won't be happy with you either." David sounded annoyed, but then again, he often did anyway.
"Lets go see this pizza." David suggested after a moment.
Everyone just followed Brock inside, Travis included. The little apartment was a crazy mess of empty boxes, dirty dishes, and clothes. Travis suddenly felt like a neat freak. The oven door was open and traces of smoke were still coming out. Brock pulled out the pan, he set it on the counter and everyone crowded around to look at the tiny round cake of ash. It was barley 7 inches in diameter.
"It was a deluxe too." Brock said sadly. Suddenly Travis couldn't help himself, he started to giggle and soon everyone was laughing at the incinerated pizza.
It must have been quite a scene for the firefighters who got to the housing unit expecting a fire but instead saw 6 college students laughing at a blackened pizza pan in the smoky unit.
By the time the firefighter's lecture was over only Travis was left standing in Brock's messy room. He felt kind of stupid standing in the middle of the living room of some guy he'd just met less than an hour ago.
"What am I going to eat now?" Brock sighed.
"Well you could come over to my place, I was planning a Pizza of my own."
"Well thank you but it's okay."
"Alright. Well don't worry, I'm sure this happens to everyone occasionally." Travis said before quietly leaving.
When Travis got back home he didn't feel like Pizza anymore. Instead he baked some chicken fingers, watched TV and went to be early.
Travis could hear the sound of moving water. He looked down and he realized he was sitting under the train bridge near his house. There was a cool breeze and he could smell the musty old smell of the wooden bridge truss he was sitting on.
"Hey there, I missed you." Travis turned to his right where the voice had come from and saw Jebb smiling at him.
"Hey!" Travis grinned and tried to hug his boy but something poked him in the side and stopped him... he tried again and received the same poke. He blinked hard and suddenly found himself in Math lecture.
"Time to go, Math's over." Gregg said as he poked Travis again.
"Aw shit." Travis moaned.
"Don't worry, I'll photocopy all my notes for you." Gregg promised.
Travis sat up and rubbed his eyes. His notebook had a wet spot where he'd been drooling for the past 30 minutes. The pen in his hand had started to leak and Travis noticed suddenly that half of his left hand was dyed black. He sighed and packed up his bag and joined the masses all trying to get out of the big lecture theater.
The two left the lecture hall and turned in opposite directions outside. "Where are you going?" Travis asked.
"Yeah, if I'm going to be student Res director, then volunteer work will look really good on me. So I'm taking pictures for the school paper."
"I see... I didn't know we had a hockey arena in the school."
"Well we don't exactly... it's not really a game. It's a pep rally. The games are held at an Arena a few kilometers away from here... there's just going to be a floor hockey game in one of the gyms. It's sort of a fun way to start the season I guess."
"Oh, ok... mind if I join you?"
Travis sat down on one of the benches. Gregg pulled out the school's new Olympus E300. "Isn't it an awesome camera?"
"Cool! Can I see?" Gregg passed Travis the camera and he panned it around the gym. And to his surprise Milo came into the camera's sight, he was lugging a barrel of water across the gym floor.
"Hey it's Milo." Travis said.
"Yeah so? He probably volunteers as the water boy or something. Give me back my camera."
Travis sighed and passed back the camera.
A few minutes later the hockey players poured out from a door in the corner of the gym. "Hey who's that?" Travis asked and pointed.
"Number 18? That's Brad Cameron." Gregg found the name on a sheet he had with him. "What's with you?"
"What do you mean?"
"Don't you have a boyfriend?"
"Yes, but can't a guy look? Besides, he's cute."
Brad played pretty well; actually everyone seemed to do quite well. Travis decided that this wasn't a bad way to waste an evening.
After the pep rally the boys went to Travis' place.
"I think I'll cook my frozen pizza today." Travis said.
"Just don't incinerate it."
"Hey that's not fair, I'm a good cook."
"Mhmm, Well I guess we'll see won't we." Gregg said as he absentmindedly pushed a piece of paper around the counter with his finger.
"Don't lose that, it's a gas receipt and I need to keep them so I can add it all up at the end of the month and keep track of my money."
Gregg looked at it. "$40! Wow, gas is expensive."
"Yeah tell me about it." Travis sighed. "I think I'm going to have to find a job."
"Yeah. I thought before that I had enough money saved so that this year at least I wouldn't have to work until summer but living on my own just costs more than I imagined."
"So where are you thinking about applying?"
"I don't know yet."
"Do what you love and the money will follow." Gregg quoted his 8th grade teacher.
"Yeah. So, what do I love?" Travis asked as he shoved the pizza into the oven.
"Mm ok. So anyway... what DO I love?"
"BOYS!" Gregg shouted then burst into laughter.
Travis grinned and shook his head.
"Seriously Gregg I need to find something or I'll be broke by Christmas."
"Hmm how about pizza delivery? You've got a car, and that reminds me, can you give me a ride to the hockey arena tomorrow? I need to take some more school paper pictures."
"Do I look like the Res Taxi?!?!"
"No, but you could get a job as one."
"Yeah yeah. Ok well I'm going out to buy more food tomorrow anyway. As for pizza delivery I don't think so, I have a car but it's not reliable. I'm sure one day of pizza delivery would kill my old Toyota. I suppose after Christmas I'll see if I can afford a carb tune up, it might at least start better."
"Hmmm well I don't know. I'm sure you'll find something. By the way, do you know where I can get some pictures scanned?"
"Sure, I can do it; I have a scanner and it plugs into my laptop."
"Kewl. By the way, did you think the text book questions from Chem are impossible too or was that just me?"
Travis giggled, "It's just you. I think my philosophy class is much harder to study, I mean, what the hell is a Synthetic Apriori Truth?"
Two days slipped by, then three, and then four. Still the police were no closer to solving the disappearance of Thomas Franklin. No one seemed to know a lot about the boy. He was quiet and had kept to himself a lot. The police even interviewed Mark who told them that although Thomas was a member of the LGBT society he didn't socialize much with its members. The only piece Mark added was that Thomas also volunteered with the drama and sports departments. However, the police weren't able to find any new information from questioning people who had been in contact with him in those departments.
Travis wandered the hockey arena while Gregg snapped pictures of the game occurring in one of the two arenas in the building. He walked upstairs and into the lounge, which he was surprised to find, was a full restaurant only a little less formal.
On a whim Travis asked the girl at the bar if the arena was hiring. She smiled.
"Can you cook?" She asked.
"Umm, I guess so, I..."
"Ok just fill out this sheet and you're hired."
Travis sat down at his computer, it was evening and Jebb was online. He quickly opened a window:
Travis says: I got a job today, I get paid $9.00 / hr cooking for four days a week.
Jebb says: Oh cool.
Travis says: Yeah! So... what's new with you?
Jebb says: I moved out.
Travis says: Whoa! What?
Jebb says: Yeah, remember Clair Smith? She asked me if I'd like to room with her so I took the opportunity to have just a little more freedom than before.
Travis says: Oh, that's cool. I'm really happy for you.
Jebb says: Yeah it's great, I hope I can afford it though.
Travis says: Well you work 5 days a week @ 10/hr at the shop, and you put in over time so you work like 10 hours a day.
Jebb says: Yeah.
Travis says: Well that's like $2000 a month and you don't have a car. You should be able to pay rent on that and still have money left over.
Jebb says: Yeah, but you know how I am with money. Like today, omg I bought these awesome jeans but then I realized that they didn't really go with most of my clothes so I bought like a whole new wardrobe. It only cost $500 for the jeans. After $2000 I had to stop myself.
Travis sighed, Jebb was so... whimsical with money but Travis was a rigid budgeter, he allocated money for the month, gave careful consideration to shaving fat out of his spending while still having room to buy things that he liked. And when he got his monthly bank statement in the mail it pissed him off to no end if he couldn't account for every penny withdrawn from and deposited into his account that month.
Travis says: Well, as long as they make you happy... and you don't make
"Order up." Travis put the bacon double cheeseburger on its plate and passed it to Kate.
"Thanks dear, there are no more orders for now, go give yourself a break."
Travis grabbed a soda and walked down to the stands in one of the arenas. He took a drink of his pop and felt relieved to have a few minutes freedom from the heat of the kitchen. As he stood there he noticed Tammy sitting in the stands so he walked over and he sat next to her.
"Hey." She smiled.
"Hey there. I didn't know you liked hockey."
"Oh I hate it, but Brad's team is playing." She smiled.
"Oh I see." Travis grinned, he was surprised that Tammy and Brad were an item, they didn't look... like a match.
"What? Haven't you ever gone to support your boyfriend in something you didn't really care about?"
"Heh, yeah." Travis grinned. "Skateboarding. I'm soooo not a boarder. But Jebb is so I would go down to the board park and watch him do tricks."
Suddenly the buzzer rang.
"Oh it looks like they won." Tammy said.
"You don't sound very excited."
"If they lose then he's all sad and we usually go home and watch a movie or something together. If he wins he spends the night drinking with the boys. It's a good thing I got a ride here and can get a ride home."
"C'mon, lets go down to the dressing room, I'll introduce you when he's done in there."
"I can't, people are coming off the ice and out of the stands and going upstairs for food... it can't cook itself."
Travis went back to cooking. It wasn't such a bad job really and he'd learned a few things, things that perhaps Brock should really learn.
Travis did last call at 11:00 then closed the kitchen. A few drunken hockey players including Brad were still in the lounge.
At 11:45 Travis was fighting to get his car started in the pouring rain. When it did start he slapped the dash and cheered feeling glad that he wouldn't have to walk.
He drove through the lot and out to the street. It was only about 2.5 km to the college on a long dark road. Shortly after leaving the parking lot he saw a figure in a short-sleeved T-shirt, drenched and walking toward the school.
Travis hesitated but pulled up beside him feeling obligated to at least offer this poor looking guy a ride.
"Hey! Would you like a ride?" Travis called.
The guy turned and Travis was surprised to see it was Milo. He didn't say anything he just looked at Travis.
"Hop in, I'll drive you to the school." Travis said.
Milo hesitated a moment and then without saying anything he got into the car. He was wet allover, and shaking.
"How come you're walking?" Travis asked.
Milo was very hard to understand, he was shivering so hard that he couldn't speak clearly at all. But Travis listened carefully and felt confident that Milo said "Brad wouldn't give me a ride, he usually drives me home after the game."
"Oh." Travis replied.
Travis pulled up at Milo's unit but when Milo couldn't open the car door because his hands were too shaky, Travis decided to take Milo to his house instead and make sure he'd be okay.
Travis helped Milo to the couch, tossed him a blanket and a towel and then it occurred to him, "aww shit I shoulda taken you to your own unit so you could take off all these wet clothes."
"Isss okay." Milo chattered.
Travis ran upstairs and was back in a second, "you and I look like we're almost the same size, here's a shirt and some sweatpants, I don't mind if you borrow them."
"I'll be fine... really it's ok."
"No, you better put these on." Travis urged seeing that Milo's lips were now obviously blue.
"Ok." Milo started pulling off his shirt and Travis watched for a breathless moment seeing Milo's smooth flat stomach and chest. Then he blinked and walked over to the kitchen, "I'll make you a hot chocolate while you do that, it'll help a lot to get something warm in you."
When Travis came back to the living room area Milo was wearing the sweatpants and shirt and had the blanket wrapped around him. He took the cup Travis offered in both hands. "Thank you soo much." Milo said when he was able to talk a little more clearly.
"It's no problem."
"I'm sorry, I'm Milo by the way." Suddenly Travis felt overwhelmed by the awkward absurdity of the situation and he started to giggle. After a moment he introduced himself and Milo said "I know you, you're the guy in the LGBT club that everyone thinks should be the leader, my gay friend is always talking about you."
"Well except Mark I suppose."
Pieces started falling into place in Travis' brain, Milo had been at that first meeting to support a friend.
"I think I know a little about you too, you're the water boy for the hockey team." Travis said.
"Yep, I also photograph props for the drama department so that they can keep track of everything they have better."
"So uhhh... how come Brad didn't drive you home?" Travis asked.
"Well he said he would, he's the only one on the team that has a car and is nice enough to offer me a ride. But I guess in the excitement he just forgot."
Just then with a flash of lightening and clap of thunder the lights flashed and went out.
Travis rummaged around for candles or a flashlight or something to light the room with.
"Uh huh!" He said striking a match.
"Hehehe." Milo giggled at Travis who was grinning triumphantly and then cursing at the match that had just burned down to his fingers.
"Well I should go home, I'm feeling better now. Thank you so much Travis. It was cool meeting you."
Travis watched Milo leave and then he flopped down on his couch where it was still warm from Milo sitting there. The hottest boy Travis had seen in the school so far had just been in his house; sat on his couch, spoke to him. Travis sighed, "wow"
A minute or two later Gregg was at the door carrying a camping lantern.
"Hey come on in."
"Where'd you get that?"
"I bought it." Gregg sighed, "The girl next door to me is always knocking out the power with her hair dryer. Somehow the lights in my room are the same circuit as the outlet in her bathroom. The fuse box is locked so I have to wait all day for someone to reset it."
"I see. Guess who was just here."
"The tooth fairy."
"Oh. OH! So you and him... you... what?"
"I gave him a ride home that's it."
"Oh ok... why?"
"Because he was walking home in the rain, it was the nice thing to do."
"I found out that he's straight anyway, so don't worry now I have no temptation to cheat on Jebb." Travis insisted.
Saturday morning Travis sat in the arena concession. Business was slow and he sat and watched as a seemingly endless stream of teenage hockey players and their parents drifted by his counter.
Travis turned his head toward the source of the voice, "Sorry?"
"Fag heaven." It was coach Rob. "Lots of youngsters here, it attracts all kinds of creeps and perverts... you tell me if you spot one, we gotta keep the kids safe." He said then ordered a coffee and left with it.
Travis sighed and sat back in his chair. Rob was right on one count, Travis was often surrounded by cute hockey boys and sometimes it did seem like a bit of heaven, but he was only interested in the guys his age and that didn't mean he would have acted on it. 'I'm gay not a pedophile.' Travis thought.
After a few minutes he sent a txt message to Jebb; three simple words, "I miss you."
~There was no reply.
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