Room  Board (by Grant Bentley)

Room and Board

By Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

Jerry appears to be homophobic with a passion…but is he?
You think we’ll know by Valentine Day?

I walked around the corner and about halfway down the hallway four guys, including Jerry, who used to be a good friend, grabbed me and had me backed up against the lockers. Jerry, who was the biggest, had hold of my shirt and looked like he wanted to kill me.

“Show him what we do with disgusting fags like him,” one of them exclaimed.

“Yeah, fuck him up good,” exclaimed another.

Suddenly this really big guy walked up to us, grabbed Jerry, who looked like he was about to start doing some serious damage, and threw him against the opposite wall.

“Fuck off and mind your own business,” one of the guys yelled.

“This is my business,” he replied.

“Fuck you it is,” Jerry said as he picked himself up off the floor.

“You wanna know why it’s my business?” he asked them.

“Fuck you,” was one guy’s response.

“Well I’ll tell you anyway,” he responded, “You see, I decided it’s my job to rid the world of bullies and other mindless trash.”

“Oh, now we’re scared,” one of them said.

“Good,” he replied as Jerry came at him.

“You should be,” he said as he sent Jerry crashing to the floor face first.

This time there was no, “Fuck you.” There was silence.

“You’ve bullied your last victim,” he said as he picked Jerry up off the floor…bloody nose and all.

Suddenly the other three didn’t seem as sure of themselves as they started to back away.

“Some real loyal friends you have there,” the guy said as he once again made Jerry airborne.

This time Jerry landed on one of his ‘friends,’ who immediately scrambled out from under him and ran down the hallway, followed very closely by the other two.

“Bullies like you are a waste of skin, you know that,” he said as he stood over Jerry, “You think it’s funny to make innocent kids’ lives a living hell.”

“Don’t hurt me…please,” Jerry begged.

“What’s the matter?” he asked as he pulled him up off the floor, “It was fun when you were doing it to him. Isn’t it fun anymore now that I’m doing it to you?”

He backhanded him across the face causing him to fall backwards again. Then grabbed him and pulled his fist back ready to break his jaw.

“Stop!” a voice pleaded, “Don’t hurt him anymore.”

It was my voice.

“Why not?” He asked, still poised to drive Jerry in the face.

“Cause it isn’t right,” I replied.

“He seems to think it is,” he said as he glared at Jerry, who now had tears running down his face.

“He’s wrong…and you’re wrong,” I stated emphatically, “Violence doesn’t solve anything. Nobody deserves to be beaten.”

“So I should just let him go so he can pound on you again, or some other kid, the next time he wants some cheap entertainment?” he asked as he drove his fist into Jerry’s left cheek and Jerry found himself once again on the floor.

This time I stepped in between them.

“Please don’t,” I pleaded once again as I gently pushed him backwards away from Jerry.

“Why?” he asked.

“Please,” I almost begged.

“Okay, but next time he kicks your ass, don’t say I didn’t warn you,” he said.

He then turned and walked away. I glanced at him, and then at Jerry. Since his ‘friends’ were nowhere to be seen, I helped Jerry stand up, and helped him into the washroom just down the hall.

It was a few days later that I ran into our anti-bullying advocate during lunch break. I was wearing my purple t-shirt with STOP BULLYING, HOMOPHOBIA, HATE, VIOLENCE in big letters on the front. We were both sitting in the courtyard eating our lunch when he got up, walked over, and sat down beside me.

He smiled and said, “You got balls if nothing else.”

“Two of them last time I checked,” I responded with a grin.

“Get your ass kicked lately?” he asked.

“No I haven’t,” I replied.

“That’s good,” he responded, “Cause like your shirt says, bullying has got to stop and it infuriates me when I see it happening.”

“I kinda got that impression,” I said with a little smile, “I’m Scott by the way, Scott Roberts.”

“I’m Harry, Harry Potter,” he replied, reaching out his hand to shake mine, “And don’t even think it.”

“Never,” I responded laughing.

 “How did you make out helping that dickhead by the way?” he asked grinning.

“You mean Jerry,” I responded, “Actually it took a while to get him all cleaned up. He has a pretty decent black eye.”

“Jerry?” he questioned, “On a first name basis now?”

“We’ve always been on a first name basis,” I replied, “We’ve been in school together since kindergarten.”

“Has he always treated you like shit?” he asked.

“No,” I replied, “Actually we used to be friends. That is until I came out. His dad is a bigoted asshole and I think it rubbed off on Jerry.”

“So you’re friends again since you saved his ass?” he asked.

“I don’t think that’s likely to happen,” I replied, “But he was at least grateful I stopped you and then helped him, and he and his buddies won’t be bothering me or anyone else anymore. He gave me his word.”

“And you believed him?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I replied, “Jerry may be a homophobe, but he’s honest and proud and would never break his word.”

“If you say so,” he responded.

“I know Jerry and his word is good,” I stated.

“When did you decide to come out?” he asked, changing the subject.

“A couple of months ago,” I replied, “I got so tired of lying all the time and playing the ‘straight’ game, I just said, ‘fuck it,’ and told everybody.”

“Whoa, that must have raised some eyebrows,” he said laughing.

“It raised Jerry’s,” I responded, “But most everybody else was cool with it.”

We did get on to some other topics and chatted until the bell rang for afternoon classes.

Jerry’s word was good, as I knew it would be and having Harry in my corner helped a lot too. Finally, I felt free to be me without fear. High school life went on at its boring best for a few months. Then, just into the new semester, I ran into Brady. I’d known him all my life…well all his life, but we seldom spoke. I was a year ahead of him in school and we didn’t seem to have a whole lot in common. He was the captain of the school basketball team, assistant captain of the school volleyball team and the local under eighteen soccer team. He was 6’2”, about 160lbs, and had blonde hair and blue eyes. He wasn’t exactly a GQ model candidate, but he was kinda cute. He was always nice to me, and even after I came out, still said hi whenever we passed in the hallway.

Anyway, I ran into him at Burger Baron during one of my health-food kicks. We were the only two people in there, and as we waited for our non-hormone fed, non-antibiotics fed, imitation beef, burgers and authentic anti-fungal, anti-aging, anti-bacterial, French fries, he said hi to me and we started to chat. Once we got our food, we sat together continuing our conversation.

Then, out of the blue, he asked, “What did you do when you figured it out?”

Since I’ve figured out a lot of things, that led to my question, “Figured out what?”

He just looked at me for several seconds before saying, “Please don’t make fun of me. What did you do when you figured out you like guys?”

My immediate thought was, ‘This is interesting,’ followed by, ‘I figured out I liked guys when I realized I pictured willies when I …well, you know,’ but I didn’t say either. Instead, I replied, “I guess when all the guys got that tingly feeling talking about boobs and stuff, I didn’t get it. I did get it in the locker room after PE and it didn’t take long to figure out something was more than a little unusual with me,” I responded.

“How did you handle it?” was his next question.

“Well I knew for sure it wasn’t something I wanted anyone else to know about, so I spent all my time in the locker room facing the wall when we were changing. I wouldn’t admit it to myself for long time. In fact, it took almost a year before I could even think of the word gay, never mind think of the words, I’m gay.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” he said before he caught himself, “Oh, fuck! I’m…not…I…meant…you won’t say anything, will ya?”

“Of course not,” I quickly replied.

“Thanks, I really don’t wanna die just yet,” he said.

Maybe I should mention here that Brady was Jerry’s younger brother. That also meant his father was a complete asshole who hated everything including leftists, socialists, liberals, environmentalists, Jews, Muslims, Blacks, the Irish, northerners, easterners, and of course the curse of the nation, and the reason God was punishing Americans…faggots.

He asked questions. I answered questions. His biggest question was where did I get the balls to come out. He figured coming out would be a death sentence for him. First, if his father didn’t kill him, his brother might, never mind his teammates. We talked for almost an hour.

As we got up from the table he smiled and said, “Thanks man. I don’t have anyone I can talk to, and you’ve at least given me some hope.”

“Any time man. You know where to find me,” I replied, and we headed our separate ways.

 We did meet up and talk several times over the next couple of months, and each time we did, he seemed more relaxed and more accepting of himself. In fact, during one get-together, he admitted there was someone he found very interesting. Obviously he wasn’t going to say who, and there was still no way he was coming out. The door was closed and there were 35 latches with combination locks holding it closed.

Then, one Saturday morning, I wandered onto our back deck with a coffee and cinnamon toast in hand. Before I took two steps, I saw Brady curled up on the lounger in the corner of the deck by the house. If that wasn’t a big enough shock, Jerry was wrapped around him with Brady firmly enclosed in his arms. After a closer look, it was obvious they had been in some sort of fight. They both had a black eye, Brady had obviously had a serious nosebleed, and Jerry’s knuckles looked like he’d punched a brick wall.

I decided to let them sleep, mostly because I didn’t know what the hell else to do. I sat at the picnic table and just watched them thinking about what might have happened…and why were they here on my back deck? Then ten or so minutes after I sat down, Jerry’s eyes opened and he just kinda stared at me. I moved closer, knelt down, and asked him if he was okay.

“Yeah,” he responded, “But the old man isn’t.”

‘Oh fuck,’ I thought.

“Son of a bitch is in jail, and if the cops hadn’t showed up, he’d be dead,” he growled.

Just then, Brady’s eyes opened and the tears started. I immediately took his hand in mine and gave it a few squeezes. I could see Jerry’s arms immediately tighten around him. We just stayed that way trying to comfort him for the next few minutes.

Once he calmed down, his first words were, “Dad tried to kill me.”

“Oh god Brady, I’m so sorry,” I said as I squeezed his hand a bit tighter.

“If Jerry hadn’t been there I’d be dead right now,” he said quietly as he snuggled deeper into Jerry’s arms.

I just kinda gave Jerry a questioning look.

“He’s my little brother man. Nobody fucks with my little brother,” he stated quite emphatically.

I just smiled, as he reached out and gave me a mild cuff upside the head and whispered, “Shut up.”

Of course that’s the moment Mom stepped out on the deck to tell me it was too cold to be out there in just a t-shirt. We were almost forcibly dragged into the house out of the cold. It then took us just about ten minutes to convince her that Jerry had not just hit me, nor had he and Brady been in some sort of big fight with each other.

Of course, she was fussing over Brady’s black eye and bloody nose the whole time, and once she was convinced Jerry fought to save his brother, she focused on Jerry’s black eye too. So she could attend to their various injuries properly, I was suddenly running to the bathroom for the first aid kit, wet face cloths, Kleenex, and I forget what else.

Then I was frying bacon, scrambling eggs, and making toast, as she continued with her nursing duties. Within about twenty minutes, we were all sitting at the table eating brunch — I guess that’s what it was. As we were eating, Mom, naturally, made it clear details were needed as to why they were on our deck freezing half to death.

Brady began to relate what happened, with Jerry filling in bits here and there. It seems Brady was lying on his bed talking to one of the other guys on the basketball team and their dad, for whatever reason, stopped by his door to listen to his end of the conversation. However, the guy was not just a teammate, and their conversation got quite intimate.

Their dad went berserk. He didn’t just open Brady’s bedroom door, he kicked it in. He grabbed Brady’s phone, threw it on the floor and crushed it…then all hell broke loose. It took Jerry about ten seconds to come rushing into Brady’s room as soon as he heard his dad screaming, “Faggot, no kid if mine’s gonna be suckin’ no fuckin’ dick, I’m gonna kill you, you goddamn pervert,” and more. Jerry pulled his dad off Brady and, surprising himself, proceeded to beat the crap out of him. No one messed with Brady and got away with it, no one, no matter what.

It had taken the police about ten minutes to get there after their mom dialed 911, and as Jerry mentioned, they were just in time to save a life, and not Jerry’s or Brady’s. After everything calmed down, their mom wasn’t much more accepting than their dad, so Jerry grabbed Brady’s hand, pulled him up from his bed, and the two of them left out the back door. Jerry had no idea where they were going, they were just going. The next thing he knew, he was waking up and looking at me staring at them from the picnic table on our deck.

As they were explaining everything to Mom, Brady all of a sudden looked freaked out again. It had just dawned on him, that with the sudden silence, the poor guy he was talking to must be worried sick wondering what they hell happened. If he had tried re-calling and found Brady’s phone suddenly dead, or Jerry not answering his, as it was still on his pillow, or if he had gone to their house and got a weird negative reaction from their mom, he would be going crazy.

I quickly handed him my phone and, in seconds he was talking to Carter Hanson, last year’s basketball MVP. I now knew who he found interesting. He was still talking to him as Carter was walking in our back door, and there was no, should we or shouldn’t we, before they were standing there in each other’s arms crying. The rest of us just slipped into the living room to give them their space.

A while later, they stood rather sheepishly in the doorway. Jerry was the first to move, as he got up, walked over and gave them both a quick hug. As he led them over to the sofa, the relief in their faces, especially Carter’s, was huge. We talked for at least a couple of hours and their fingers stayed intertwined the whole time.

We learned everything from how they discovered each other, to how much my talks with Brady had helped him, to the sheer panic Carter felt when Brady’s phone went dead. Seeing the police in front of Brady’s house, his dad being hauled off, and being told to go to hell by their mom hadn’t helped. He had phoned or gone to see everyone the two of them knew. Unfortunately, I was not on his list. The relief when he heard Brady’s voice on my phone was overwhelming. My name had appeared when his phone rang, and since he knew where I lived, he had been running here as fast as he could the whole time he and Brady were talking.

Just about the time their story was finishing, Dad walked in from work. We were so wrapped up in Brady and Carter’s story, we almost didn’t notice him. Seeing us all sitting there focused on Brady and Carter left a rather surprised look on his face. Then, knowing our history, and seeing Jerry sitting there, that look changed to one of anger. Mom immediately jumped up and announced that they needed to prepare dinner.

“We…need to prepare dinner?” he questioned as she dragged him across the living room into the kitchen.

The rest of us stayed and talked as they prepared dinner. That consisted of Dad sitting at the kitchen table as Mom prepared dinner, and as she did, filled him in on the day’s events.

Dinner conversation was quite interesting. Slightly repetitive but interesting. After dinner, Brady and Carter left for Carter’s as Brady was going to be staying over. Jerry was told he would be sharing my room with me for the night. I don’t know if I would say it was surprising or not, but he didn’t seem to mind.

Jerry helped me clean up and wash the dishes before we retired to my room to watch a movie. We decided on Stand By Me which we had both watched many times before, but it just seemed appropriate.

As we were lying there on my bed, he turned his head and looked at me before saying, “I’m sorry for being such an asshole to you, Scott, but after you came out, and with my old man, I was scared shitless to be your friend any more. And the rest of the shit I did…I dunno man…I’m sorry.”

“Hey, don’t sweat it,” I replied, “With all the shit that just went down, I totally understand. And…as far as I’m concerned we’ve always been friends and always will be.”

“Thanks,” he responded as he laced his fingers through mine.

I guess I looked a little surprised, because he laughed as he said, “Don’t get any bright ideas, sunshine. It’s just an extended friendly handshake. You have nothing I want to play with.”

“Damn you,” I responded with a laugh, “All my hopes shattered again.”

It was kinda neat because we held hands through the whole movie and didn’t discontinue it until Jerry needed to pee. He even stripped down to his boxers before he crawled into bed with me. I had to roll on my side and face away from him for a few minutes at first, as there was a slight alteration in my blood flow. I wasn’t sure what was worse, him threatening to beat the crap out of me, or him lying beside me, in my bed, in just his boxers, and not being able to touch. I for sure knew what I was going to be doing in the shower in the morning.

As soon as we finished breakfast, we were on our way to Carter’s. Carter’s mom said they were still asleep. Being the loving mother she is, she went to the fridge, opened the freezer and handed us each an ice cube. I had never met her before but I just knew I was going to like her.

We quietly opened Carter’s bedroom door. Actually, Jerry made me do it in case they were doing something that might haunt him for the rest of his life. Three, two, one, and for the first time in our lives we saw two guys simultaneously lift vertically about three feet into the air, covers and all. It was also the first time we had both been threatened with death as we were being chased down a hallway by two very naked guys. That is until they realized they were in the kitchen and Carter’s mom was standing there holding her hands over her eyes.

It took them about ten minutes to return fully dressed, which was about how long it took us to regain our composure and stop laughing. I guess Jerry and I are both going to die very s l o w l y, sometime in the near future though.

The breakfast conversation was fun. Carter’s mom did manage to join in once in a while, when she could stop laughing. Their breakfast done, we were quickly on our way to Dairy Queen for dessert. For our own safety, Jerry and I were very careful to stay well behind them. The rest of the day went by without incident. Since it was a hugely unusual warm day, like +10°C, some football in the park was called for, a trip to Burger King, basketball on the school’s outdoor court, Dairy Queen, and home for dinner. At day’s end, Jerry and I were still in good health, and still alive.

Jerry and Brady stayed with my folks and me for the next week before becoming permanent roommates. The two spare bedrooms that dad had built in the basement for visitors became their rooms. Carter was almost a roommate as he was here a lot, and I do mean a lot. His folks soon became good friends with Mom and Dad, and jokingly offered to pay Mom and Dad room and board for Carter.

Both of them came out at school a few weeks after our special day of excitement…and guess what…as with me, nobody really cared. In fact half the basketball team had already figured them out and were simply waiting for the announcement.

It was quickly approaching Valentines and Jerry and I were still alive. I think we’d been forgiven, but we pledged to stay alert. When the school’s Valentines Dance, was upon us, Brady and Carter went as a couple. Jerry, unfortunately, decided to take Carol Jones, leaving me to dejectedly attend solo.

I mean how humiliating can life get, the Valentines Dance…solo. About an hour into it, as I stood by the snack bar revelling in my loneliness, Jake Jacobsen, our soon to be valedictorian, walked up to me, grinned, and offered his hand. It took me several seconds to realize he was asking me to dance.

When I finally took his hand and we walked out onto the dance floor, it occurred to me that no one had ever commented about him being gay. Was this his official coming out? If so, wow, how better to come out than at the school’s Valentines Dance? I just had to grin at him, lean in, and give him a quick, I hoped unnoticed, kiss.

I’m not sure how many shades of red I turned when huge applause broke out and I suddenly realised he and I were the only ones dancing. I might not have believed it at the time, but it was well worth the embarrassment. I am now the valedictorian’s sweet, loveable, boyfriend, and yes, Jake’s parents should be paying room and board too.

Thanks to Colin for editing, prepping, and posting this story for me.

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This story and the included images are Copyright © 2016 by Grant Bentley. They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.

This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG13 (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don't want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren't supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!