chapter 1Mason Megalos had been my best friend for over a decade when everything fell apart. I still hadn’t gotten over how suddenly we went our separate ways. Like many a sexually confused adolescent, I had fallen in love with my best friend. We were both boys, and I had come to realize my love for him was one of the worst things that could have ever happened. I heard how other guys talked. I knew that liking Mason wasn’t something I could act on.
We’d been about a month into our freshman year when I felt him slipping away from me. He had joined the football team and started hanging out with a bunch of his misogynistic, homophobic, and slightly racist teammates. Most people would say these guys were harmless, but I knew that the longer Mason hung around them, the more influence they’d have over his ideologies. He was being brainwashed! I had to win him back over from the dark side.
Mason wasn’t a hateful person, and I was determined to come out to him before it was too late. I trusted him more than anybody in the whole world; I genuinely believed with every fiber of my being that we’d be able to work through my teeny-tiny crush on him (okay, so maybe it wasn’t the teeniest or the tiniest, and I was a hundred percent head-over-heels in love with him, but I digress). I figured he’d reject me amiably and we could continue our friendship, but unforeseen circumstances had prohibited my confession indefinitely.
We’d been at my house. I had been avoiding coming out to him, as there was always something stopping me. The reasons were always stupid, like the fact there was an X-Men movie marathon coming on TV and we just had to watch it together. Like many high school aged boys, Mason sometimes referred to stuff as gay, in reference to things he considered stupid or slightly feminine. It had gotten way worse since he’d been hanging around his new friends. At one point he said it about some commercial on the TV. I felt that anxious feeling I often got, but this time I didn’t let it stop me.
“Mason, I’m gay,” I’d told him. I blurted it out, really. It wasn’t my finest moment; it wasn’t what I’d practiced a million times in the bathroom mirror. He looked at me for a while, assessing me, and then he got up and left. With no words of encouragement or disapproval.
October 11, 2008 would forever be engrained in my mind as the day Mason walked out of my life and never looked back. I’d really thought he was different. I’d really thought that I could tell him about my authentic self. I had never even got to mention the fact that I had a crush on him, which was probably for the best. He hadn’t been the person I thought he was.
If losing Mason as a friend wasn’t bad enough, I was now still dealing with the repercussions of coming out. It had been three years since then.
Yes, three years of Mason’s new friend group taking every possible opportunity to terrorize me for being gay. They’d beat me up from time to time, throw slurs at me, or make homophobic jokes knowing there was nothing I could do or say to stop them. I didn’t want to make excuses for Mason, because the fact he had been such a terrible friend was inexcusable, but he never directly harassed me like his underlings; he just sort of had dominion over them, which was slightly less awful. Seriously, I think it was worth something that he never beat me up or said anything mean to me (at least not to my face). It was easier to handle his passive attitude in regard to my situation.
Those dumb jocks and future gas station attendants all looked to Mason for approval. He’d become their God—the coolest, the most handsome, the almighty. I bet if he stood up for me at least once, my days at school would go a lot smoother. I hated myself for it, but I just couldn’t let go of my idealized version of him. I told myself he didn’t mean what he did or said. I told myself that there was still good in him. Even though it killed me to hear him laugh when his friends called me a fag or a homo, I believed Mason didn’t really think I was disgusting.
I still thought he was attractive. It wasn’t like I was blind. We might not have been best friends anymore, but I lusted after him just the same as I had before. Mason had an olive complexion and it always seemed like he was glowing, like he was an angel or something. Mason’s parents were Greek, having moved to America before he was born. He had this curly brown hair that he took excellent care of now that he was older (when we were younger it was always messy). His eyes were green. His lips were full. He had the most beautiful smile. It was almost the most attractive thing about him.
The most attractive thing about Mason was his butt. He had the best ass I’d ever seen. It’s what I always looked at when I could take a clandestine glance. I had looked at his butt so frequently, I could probably pick it out of a police lineup.
“Yes Officer,” I’d say. “Butt number three is Mason’s. The sheer size of the cheeks makes it obvious, and the dimples on his lower back are also a dead giveaway.”
He was taller than me, and he definitely had to be over six feet by now. I was 5’9” and weighed only about 160 pounds. Mason on the other hand had really buffed up in our years distanced from one another; I would have to guess he was around 200 pounds. He’d been a pudgy kid, but when he joined the football team freshman year, they worked all of his extra weight into muscle. Seeing him change so much really stung, not having gotten the chance to change along with him.
I had to continuously remind myself that none of these things mattered anymore. He could be extraordinarily hot with the best ass in the entire country, but that didn’t change the fact that he hated me for something I couldn’t control. He abandoned a valuable friendship and allowed others to belittle me. My mom had told me growing up, in a somewhat blunt way I’d grown used to, “Not everybody is your friend. Sometimes people can surprise you in the worst ways possible.” I never, and I mean never, thought my mother’s pessimistic wisdom would apply to my relationship with Mason.
We were about two months into senior year, and today in English IV, the last class of the day, I noticed Mason talking to a troll named Bret Phelps. This guy was possibly the worst of the group. The others just called me names, having grown tired of wasting energy beating me up, but he felt compelled to hunt me down and physically assault me every other day. I made my way to my locker as quickly as I could and made a mad dash for my bike.
Today I was going to make it.
I was trying to be positive, which wasn’t always easy. It was a quality I admired in others, so I tried my best to emulate that positivity. I was determined to hold my head up high and to be optimistic. I knew things would one day get better, even if I had to put up with Mason’s posse until graduation.
Today I wasn’t going to get punched anywhere on my body.
I approached the bike rack quickly, wanting to make it off campus unscathed. The closer I got to where the bikes were housed, the more noticeable was the form of a guy leaning casually on an adjoining pillar.
It was Bret. Damn.
He had to have forgone stopping at his locker. He’d come directly here after the bell rang to wait for me. He must have really been in a sour mood if he wanted to catch me so badly.
I had to be strong. Even if I wanted to whine and cry and beg for him to leave me alone, I couldn’t. I refused to give him or any of his asshole friends the satisfaction of breaking me down. I was immune to this. I just had to accept my beating and he’d move on. At first, I fought hard every single time, but he’d still pummel me. That was when I came to realize that if I didn’t show emotion, he’d give me a swift punch in the gut and go about his day. I wasn’t going to give the sadist the pleasure he oh so desired. It wasn’t fun fighting someone who didn’t react.
“Hello Oliver,” he said, smiling. His front tooth was slightly chipped, and I hoped it was from someone punching him in the mouth. “You were like the first one out class. I hope you didn’t think you were going to miss me today.” He was shorter than Mason but taller than I was. He was a stocky guy, and if I didn’t hate him so much, I’d be willing to admit that he was almost-maybe-possibly attractive.
“Hey Bret,” I said in an even tone, keeping my head down, not making eye contact. “I really have to get going.”
“This isn’t going to take long.” He walked towards me. I closed my eyes and tensed my ab muscles waiting for him to sock me in the stomach.
“I’ll handle him today.” It was Mason’s voice. I opened my eyes slowly, letting out a deep breath and relaxing my abs. Was he going to start beating me up too? I didn’t think I could handle it if he decided he was so disgusted by me that he had to resort to physical violence.
“Yeah, okay Mason,” Bret said, reverting to his beta-male status. “You’ve got to make sure you get him in the gut, just like he likes it.” With that, Bret walked off, glad to be told what to do—but not before punching me in the arm as hard as he could.
14 chapters, created 13 years , updated 2 years
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