I had just gotten out of the shower and
was drying myself off. I could hear stilted conversation coming
from our room and figured that Carl had arrived and that Dodger
was talking to him. I guess that I had never thought of those
two as having known one another because Dodger had transferred
to our school, and if he had known Carl it could only have been
for a couple of months. I hoped they didn't get in a fight
because it occurred to me that if anything Dodger would be thinking
Carl was after me and he would probably be trying to mess that
up. Not that it mattered.
I looked in the mirror at my hair. Wet
like it was it appeared to be totally black but it really wasn't;
it was just dark brown. It was good hair and I knew that once
I dried it it would fall pretty much as I wanted it. I pushed
my lips back and studied my teeth for a moment and then grabbed
my tooth brush and gave em a once over. Then tipped up a bottle
of mouthwash, took a gulp and swirled it around. I stared at
myself with my mouth full of mouthwash. "You're
not gonna kiss him ya know. Just put that shit totally outta
your head." Why was I even thinking crap like that?
With Carl sitting in the next room waiting
for me my fears had multiplied exponentially and they weren't
just about what Carl might do to me. On the one hand there was
the warm friendly supportive Carl, my defender, and on the other
hand was the guy who raped me and beat the holy crap out of
Jay. But at least with what he did do Jay Carl was defending
me, and it's no doubt a damn good thing that he did. On
the other hand the rape was something else. It had scared me
and had taken the way that I thought about someone and turned
those thoughts on their head. How could I ever be alone with
a guy who could change like that? What if it happened again?
Then there was the thing that Addie and
I had spent a lot of time on, not just how I logically thought
about what Carl did but what my subconscious mind thought about
it. Putting aside the fear, it was after all, just a fuck. Carl
never hit me; he fucked me and some part of my brain was tryin
to do the wave while that was happening. When Addie first talked
about that I thought that she was the one who was crazy but
the more I thought about it, and how my body felt at the time,
I eventually decided that maybe she was onto something.
I pulled on a pale blue button down long
sleeve shirt and turned the cuffs up a couple of times then
pulled on my jeans. I was walking out into the bedroom while
I was buttoning up the shirt. Carl was sitting on my bed and
looked up at me with brilliant blue eyes that seemed so sad.
Dodger was standing over by the window with the hint of an evil
grin on his face. There was a strange silence that seemed like
it couldn't be filled with just words.
I said, "You guys introduce yourselves?"
Carl nodded yes and Dodger said, "We
knew each other from before." I couldn't imagine
what Dodger had been telling him but it dawned on me that I
shouldn't have left them alone.
I finished buttoning my shirt and said
to Carl. "You ready to go?"
He got a relieved look and his face and
stood up. From the window and without looking at us Dodger said,
"Don't do anything I wouldn't do."
As we were walking down the stairs in
the dorm Carl said, "Danny, I didn't realize that
I'd be interrupting something so if you wanna just make
this a quick meal that's cool."
I looked up at him and said, "Interrupting?
Carl, what did Dodger say to you?" I held up my hand.
"Wait...I shouldn't be asking you that and it
doesn't matter and I won't ask you to repeat it."
I sighed because I was irritated at having to explain this.
"Dodger wants to get something going with me. The problem
is that he doesn't think he should also have to give up
his girlfriend, so there been some tension between us."
We walked out the front door and Carl
steered me along the sidewalk to where his car was parked. He
unlocked the car doors and just as I was about to get in on
the passenger side Carl leaned on the roof of the car and said
with a strained smile, "So you're sure you're
not in love with him?"
"Is that what he said?"
He kind of nodded. "Not exactly,
but that's what he was implying."
We both got into the car and Carl started
the engine. I said, "When Dodger and I were still back
home I thought that maybe something might happen when we got
here but then I met a friend of his, his name's Mike and
he and I had a thing for a little while. It wasn't a love
thing, just a sex thing. But Dodger got Mike to stop seeing
me." I said, "They're teammates," like
that explained it and in my mind it pretty much did.
All this while I had been kind of watching
myself like part of my brain was a TV camera or something and
was seeing things from a different perspective and I kept waiting
for me to feel afraid of Carl, and when I looked at him hard
in the car while he was driving I realized that I wasn't
afraid of him. I just didn't fear that he was going to
physically hurt me. The Carl that I was looking at was the old
Carl, the Carl who was my good friend and I just didn't
feel like I had to be afraid of him. I tried to bring up the
feelings that I had when he was raping me but they just didn't
jibe with the person that I was sitting next to, like I was
thinking about two different people. That didn't mean
that there wasn't still a lot of psychological damage
and it didn't mean I was ready to forgive him, but that
realization made me feel a little better and maybe a little
That also made me wonder if I hadn't
made a mistake in avoiding Carl after all that happened. In
the car afterwards he apologized and said that we'd talk
later and maybe that would have been the best thing to do. Maybe
if we had talked about it a lot of what I went through after
that could have been avoided, but of course that didn't
The restaurant was a small Italian place
that was set well back from the road. The parking lot was almost
full when we pulled into it. Carl got out of the car and started
walking towards the building almost like he was in a daze. Suddenly
he stopped and looked back at me like he was just remembering
that I was with him and he smiled broadly. It was the first
time since I had talked to him at football practice that I saw
He shoved his hands into the front pockets
of his jeans as his shoulders bunched up and his blue eyes flashed.
He said softly, "Doin okay?"
"Yeah, I'm good." He
put his hand lightly on middle of my back as he guided me into
He gave his name to the waiter who approached
us and we were escorted to a secluded corner booth. As we settled
in I looked around the booth and then looked at him and raised
"A friend of my dad owns the place.
I figure this would give us a little privacy. Food's pretty
It's pretty weird when someone as
big and strong and dynamic as Carl is sitting quietly and trying
to look non-threatening. I was certain that's what he
was trying to do. He was trying not to spook me but I figured
that if it went on like this we weren't getting any place.
"It's very private."
"It's not makin ya uncomfortable
I looked up into his eyes. "Carl,
I'm not gonna break. And frankly I feel a lot more comfortable
than I ever thought I would so just relax will ya?" I
started to say, "I know you're not gonna try and
rape me," but figured that might be going too far.
He grinned and said quietly, "Okay."
"Why don't you tell me about
football." I figured he could relax with that. "What
was that like when you got to college?"
And for the next forty-five minutes that's
what he did. Actually I didn't get a whole lot of it.
Not because I don't know anything about football, but
because I was watching Carl's body. His body is so beautiful
to watch. But finally after we finished eating and were sipping
coffee I knew that if I didn't start it, it might not
start, so I said, "Tell me what happened that day, Carl.
It was so not like you."
Carl stared down into his coffee and said,
"This is hard to tell you, it's hard to say it.
Aaand," He drew the word out, "the more that I think
about it there's no way that I'm gonna come out
okay on this." He looked up at me and gave me a grim smile.
"Sometimes...sometimes maybe we're better off
just staying with our dreams...cause in those, you end up
saying the stuff I want to hear." I could feel my heart
beating against the wall of my chest when he stopped talking
for a moment.
He talked slowly and quietly, only occasionally
looking up at me.
"I'm not sure that I really
knew it, but I fell in love with you the first day that we met;
the day you ran past me on the track. I told myself that it
was just..I dunno...like a crush...that I was really
straight and I was just attracted to you because of your looks...and
the sex." He gave me a lopsided grin. "I guess that
sounds stupid." He held up an open hand like he was going
to grab the side of his head. "But this big huge part
of my brain knew better. It was like screaming, "You're
gay, you're gay and you love Danny!" His eyes met
mine for a zillionth of a second and then he looked down again
at his coffee. "I wasn't dealing well with that."
His finger was tracing designs on the side of the coffee cup.
"The thing is that I'm usually pretty controlled.
Even as a little kid I'd get a thing in my head that I
wanted to do and I'd stay focused. So there, in high school,
I was even more controlled. I wanted to play ball, get into
a good college, become a lawyer and have a nice family."
He shrugged. "It seemed doable." He mumbled, "It
seemed normal." His eyes looked up into mine and I felt
my cock lurch and I almost gasped. "I never figured on
you, Danny, on the affect you'd have on me."
"When you first brought up the whole
idea that I'd be leaving to go to college and you'd
be alone, I was devastated. I hadn't allowed myself to
think that far ahead, at least where you were concerned. But
then I figured that this was maybe a good thing, you know, like
in disguise. I got to thinking maybe I could stop this addiction
that I had for you...kind of a little at a time. I figured
that if you started seeing other people that I'd just
kinda naturally go back...mentally...to my girlfriend."
He sighed and rubbed his eyes then shook his head slowly. "It
sure didn't have that affect. All that I could think about
was you and Jay together. Nothing has ever gotten to me like
that did. I started playing ball even harder, but then the coach
stopped me and said that I couldn't keep doing that, that
we weren't gladiators that we were high school kids......but
nothing helped....all that I thought about was you and Jay."
"So all this time, in the locker
room, I'm getting these looks from Jay, these smug little
looks. I try to ignore them but then he starts making comments."
Carl glanced up at me for a second. I saw a hint in his eyes
of the anger I saw that night, and I didn't know whether
to be afraid or comforted. "Comments about you, crude,
mean shit. So I remind him that he promised not to hurt you
but he just laughs about it. He tells me that you love it and
that I should mind my own business. I warn him again and we
get into this huge fucking argument; it starts in the locker
room after everyone else has left and ends up with us screaming
at each other out in the parking lot....but it never came
to blows." He shakes his head slowly. "I wanted
so bad to take his fucking head off."
I could feel Carl moving his legs under
the table and one ends up brushing against mine. He looks up
and says, "Sorry." He moves it away but I move my
leg with it because I've suddenly got this need to be
you were meeting him that night. When you were...getting
together...with him it made me nuts and I did all kinds
of shit not to think about it. That night I had to get out of
the house. My mom and dad were beginning to wonder what my problem
was and I knew if I stayed around...I knew I wouldn't
be able to control what I was feeling. So I went downtown to
eat and just be around people. And I was doing that; I was minding
my own business, just sitting in Denny's. Jay and his
friends came in but I figured there's no way that he'll
sit near me because of all the shit that happened earlier, but
he does; he goes out of his way to sit at the next booth, asks
the hostess to sit them there. The fucker deliberately asks
for it!" He rubbed the side of his face with his hand.
"Maybe if the place had been busier or something...he
wouldn't have been able to talk like he did." He
shook his head. "Doesn't matter, he did what he
did. He and his friends started talking about it, about you,
fucking bragging about it, about how they left you."
Suddenly Carl grabbed my hand and his
voice cracked. "I tried, Danny! I tried not to hurt em.
I even got up and left but the asshole followed me out to the
parking lot, fucking taunting me about it, and we had the same
argument all over again. I told him I was going to his place
and untie you or take that shit off of you, whatever. That was
the most important thing to me, but I also wanted to kill him.
I did; I wanted to kill him. I didn't think he'd
follow me. I figured he'd just let me do it because he
knew how mad I was....But he didn't; he followed me.
Then in the parking lot at his place we got into a huge fight.
And that time it did come to blows."
Carl was still holding my hand. "I
went insane, Danny! I kept thinking that you were gonna be so
pissed at me. Okay...also this part of me...wanted to
show Jay that you were mine, that you really loved me...
and his words........the way that he said you felt about
that stuff got to me. That shit about you loving it...I
couldn't believe it, but yet at the same time I figured
that it must be true. I dunno why...I guess just cause that
asshole said it. That sounds stupid, but it wasn't my
most lucid night."
Carl's huge fingers were massaging
my hand. "So I was like, desperate! I was so afraid that
I'd fucked things up and somehow...and god how I wish
I could take it back, but somehow I figured that if you liked
it when Jay did it then I'd do what you liked. If you
wanted rough sex, then I could do that; I'd do anything
it took..." Carl's head was slumped down but
his hand still held mine. "But in the middle of it, when
I looked into your eyes..." His voice caught for a
second. "I knew that I'd fucked up worse than I
ever figured I could. I knew I'd lost you. In the car....on
the way to your house I just wanted to pull over...to take
you in my arms, but you had already gotten this shell around
you. I knew that I disgusted you. I could see it in your eyes.
It was like I died. I saw you sinking and I didn't know
how to make it stop and then it just all ended, my life, everything."
"The rest of the time there, in
that school, was like a bad dream. I was still near you but
I couldn't face you. I couldn't touch you; I couldn't
even talk to you. When I finally went away to college it seemed
better somehow. At least there was separation, distance. I didn't
have to see you and feel all that guilt. But there still wasn't
a day when I didn't think about you, and then at night
it would all come back. I'd be lying in bed trying to
sleep and it'd all wash over me, that terrible sense of
loss." He squeezed my hand tighter and looked up at me.
"And I'd heard from people that I knew...you
know, at the high school....that you were hurting because
of what I did. Not that they knew about that, cause they didn't,
but they said you had changed. At least I figured that was the
"I started coming home for your
track meets." He got a faraway look in his eyes like he
was picturing it, "I'd cut classes and drive like
a son-of-a-bitch to get home and watch you run, I guess to make
sure you were okay and to just see you. Then I'd drive
back." He laughed and looked up at me. "It's
a hell of a drive."
He spread his hands palm down on the table
and got a determined look on his face. "Okay...now
for the really hard part." He spoke quietly but intensely.
"I finally decided that I had to try and be with you.
I already knew that I wanted it more than anything else, more
than football, more than being a lawyer or having a family or
anything. But most of all, I want your forgiveness-- even though
I know I don't deserve it. I also want you to be okay...
to not be in pain because of what I did. I love you, Danny and
it's not going away; it's never gone away and it
just keeps getting bigger stronger. I love you and I need you
and I want you. But I know that that's probably not gonna
We sat there without talking for a moment
and then Carl reached across the table slowly with both hands
and gently pushed the tears from my cheeks with his thumbs.
He said softly, "You're crying."
I shook my head because I didn't
think that I was crying. Then I said, "Yes. I mean to
what you said before. I forgive you and I love you too and I
want us to be together. At least I think so. Is it okay if we
try it a little bit at a time? I mean I've been kinda
screwed up and ......"
I never got a chance to finish the sentence
because Carl slid around to my side of the booth too quickly
and then I was like buried in his arms as he enveloped me and
his mouth closed on mine. I melted into his strong arms and
knew I was where I wanted to be.
And they lived happily ever after.