February Surprise

A Valentine Story by Altimexis

Posted February 14, 2018

Two Boys on a Fishing Pier

 

Jake looked up from the card he held in his hand. He couldn’t believe what he thought his best friend had said.

“Jake, please man, talk to me,” Larry said as he looked back at Jake, his best friend since — forever. A solitary tear escaped his left eye and slowly slid down his cheek.

“Could you please repeat what you just said?” Jake asked, still not believing what he’d heard.

“I said that maybe the card isn’t from a girl at all,” Larry responded.

“But… but… if it wasn’t from a girl, who else could it be from?” Jake asked. For the past three days he’d been wracking his brain — ever since he found the card in his locker. Try as he might, he couldn’t figure out who the Valentine card came from.

“All I’m saying is that maybe the card didn’t come from a girl because it came from a guy,” Larry clarified.

“What the fuck? You mean someone in our class is gay?” Jake practically gasped. “You think someone thinks that maybe I’m gay?” he added with a squeak.

“No, I’m not suggesting that someone in our class is gay,” Larry answered. “There must be dozens of gay boys in our school. What I’m saying is that maybe one of them is tired of being in the closet. Maybe one of the gay boys is hoping that maybe you’re gay too.”

This was getting into dangerous territory for Jake. Jake had realized he was different since he was twelve, but he knew no one else in his class was gay, in spite of what his best friend said. No one. With what some of the other kids said, there was no way he could ever come out either. Never. He’d get his ass kicked from here to eternity. But now his best friend was saying that maybe someone had figured out his deepest, darkest secret. Maybe even Larry had figured it out.

As Jake’s fear escalated, he started to hyperventilate. Soon, he was gasping for breath.

Recognizing what was happening, Larry opened his book bag and pulled out the paper bag he’d used for his lunch that day, intending to reuse it the next day. Handing the paper bag to Jake, he said, “Here, take this and place the open end over your mouth and nose. Breathe slowly in and out of the bag. That should stop the hyperventilating.”

Jake did as he was instructed. Soon he was breathing normally, his worries about his best friend knowing he was gay, temporarily forgotten.

“Better?” Larry asked.

“Yeah, much,” Jake answered, but then he remembered what had triggered the hyperventilation in the first place and, as he did, a look of panic started to appear back on his face.

“Jake, chill,” Larry intervened as he placed his arm around Jake’s shoulders. “Just chill, man. I don’t know what set this off, but I think maybe you’re worried I might think your gay. Don’t. When it comes to our friendship, I couldn’t care less whether your gay or straight. It truly doesn’t matter.”

“But you think I’m gay… otherwise, you wouldn’t say that,” Jake replied, fearing that if Larry knew, maybe others did too.

“No, Jake,” Larry tried to reassure his friend. “My gaydar isn’t worth shit. Truthfully, I can’t tell either way. I just wanted you to know that it doesn’t matter to me.”

“Wait a minute…” Jake responded. “Isn’t gaydar something only gay guys are supposed to have?”

“Well, uh…” Larry began. Hanging his head, “I s’pose I could claim that straight guys can have gaydar too, but you’d know I was lying. You always could tell.” Then looking up, he placed his hand under Jake’s chin and lifted his head so they were looking into each other’s eyes.

“I hope you can accept having me as a gay best friend as easily as I could with you.” Larry continued. “I hope that it doesn’t freak you out, but I was the one that put the card in your locker. I don’t know what got into me, but I just got tired of pretending to be your straight best friend, and maybe my wishful thinking got the best of me. I’m sick of dating girls when what I really want to do is date you. But don’t worry, Jake. I know you’re straight and I promise I won’t come onto you. I’ll still be just your best friend… If you’ll let me.”

“You’re the one who put the card in my locker?” Jake responded as a smile took over his face. “The card was from you? All this time I’ve been hopelessly in love with you, and it turns out you’ve been crushing on me too?”

Slowly, their faces moved together as lips contacted lips and tongues contacted tongues. The kiss seemed to go on forever as Jake and Larry’s hands caressed one another, gently at first, and then with increasing passion and desperation. Before long, Jake lifted the hem of Larry’s shirt, and their lips separated just long enough for him to lift the shirt off Larry’s torso and over his head. Larry followed suit with Jake’s shirt and soon they were making out with each other with reckless abandon and their bare chests rubbed against each other. The two boys were on fire. Soon their belts, jeans and boxers joined their shirts on the floor next to Jake’s bed.

Jake swallowed his best friend’s member whole and Larry did likewise as they began a sensuous 69, pleasuring each other at the same time. It wasn’t long before they reached a simultaneous orgasm as wave after wave of pleasure overtook them both.

 

I closed my browser window in disgust as the story I’d been reading descended further and further into an unrealistic orgy of graphic teen gay sex. What a crock!

The whole idea that a stupid Valentine’s card could be the catalyst for romance between teenage gay friends was absurd. Things like that just didn’t happen in real life, and they sure as fuck didn’t happen to me.

Sighing, I securely erased my browser cache and checked for other traces of the sites I’d been visiting. I’d gone to great lengths to cover my tracks, including using a private browser extension and a virtual private network to tunnel through the nanny filter my grandfather had installed on my computer, and the firewall he’d installed on our home network. Still, I wasn’t taking chances. My grandparents aren’t all that computer savvy to begin with, but I certainly didn’t want them finding out I’m gay from the sites I visit on the Internet. Someday I’m gonna have to tell them and I know they’ll probably be disappointed in me, but that’s a conversation for another time. Maybe someday when I bring a boyfriend home from college, but that’s at least another five years away.

Flopping down on my bed, I thought about the way things used to be, back when my parents  were still alive. ’Course that was nearly four years ago, back when I lived in New York. We lived in a modern high-rise apartment in Long Island City, a part of Queens. We lived right on the East River and had a spectacular view of Midtown Manhattan. ’Cause the city schools in New York are pretty shitty, my parents sent me to an elite private school on the Upper East Side. It’s funny, but I lived in one of the most ethnically diverse places in the world, with kids of every nationality living in my building. We had Asian’s from China, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Singapore and India. There were African Americans, Hattians, Ethiopians and Senegalese, Russians, Serbians, Polish and Estonian kids. There were French kids, Spanish kids, Portuguese and German kids. There were English, Welch, Scottish, Irish kids and Latin American kids from just about every country in Central and South America. These were the kids I grew up with and with whom I played. But at school, except for one African American kid and a Korean kid, everyone else was lily white. At the time I never gave it much thought. In retrospect, I don’t think my parents were racist or anything — they just wanted me to have the best education.

No, my parents were close with all the parents of my friends in the building. They were very active in liberal causes of every kind — not that I understood half of it at the time. Like most nine-year-old kids, I was just beginning to establish my own world view when my parents died. Most importantly to me now, they had a lot of gay and lesbian friends. We often had same sex couples over for drinks or dinner. Some of them were the parents of my friends. Thanks to that, I grew up accepting same sex relationships and so when I realized that I myself was gay, it didn’t phase me in the least. The trouble was, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore, to paraphrase Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

Thinking about my parents, however, only led to the inevitable — thinking about the night they died. I was too young to be left alone yet and as it happened, none of my friends could take me in for a sleepover that night. My parents had tickets to the Metropolitan Opera, and so they hired a sitter for the evening. They could have easily taken the subway – taking a number 7 train to a number 1 train would have gotten them there, practically door-to-door, but they chose to take a taxi instead and brave the Manhattan traffic, rather than huddle with the masses.

When the sitter answered the door and I saw the police uniforms, I knew something was terribly wrong. I’d seen enough police shows on TV to know that the only reason the police would have come to the door was if my parents were dead. If they were hurt, someone would have called. I was only nine, but I knew. Later, I learned that driver of the taxi my parents were riding in had rushed the light, only to have been broadsided by a city bus that was going way too fast. Both drivers were trying to make up for lost time due to weekend gridlock. Both drivers paid for their recklessness with their lives. My parents were DOA at Belleview. There were numerous injuries on the bus, but no other fatalities. In one night I lost my parents, my home, my friends and my way of life.

Dad was an orphan, having grown up in foster care, and Mom was an only child, so that meant my only living relatives were my mom’s parents. Although they were old — both in their fifties — they didn’t hesitate to take me in. Thank God I didn’t have to go into foster care the way my dad did — not that God had anything to do with it. I was raised an atheist, which was one of the things that made my current situation so difficult. Unfortunately, I now lived with my grandparents back in Indianapolis, right in the heart of the Bible Belt.

“How’s the homework coming?” my grandmother asked from the doorway to my room, startling me out of my reverie. She always knocks, so I must have really been lost in thought. Good thing I cleared what was on my computer screen, which was clearly visible from the door.

“I finished my homework hours ago,” I replied.

Smiling, Grandma responded, “I figured you had. One thing that private school did was instill good work habits in you.” That much was true, but it also had a lot to do with my parents, who always took the time to go over my homework with me.

Coming into the room and sitting on my bed, she went on, “You know, Grandpa and I discussed sending you to Park Tudor when you first came to live with us. The tuition costs as much as for a private university, but we could certainly afford it.” She must have noticed the look of shock on my face, as she continued. “Don’t be so surprised! This may not be the multi-million dollar condo in the sky you were used to, but North Crow’s Nest is very affluent. Certainly you’ve seen all the teardowns. There aren’t many places in Indianapolis where one can find houses built into a hillside and surrounded by trees. Crows Nest itself with its mansions is unaffordable, but for under a million, you can buy an older rambler like ours and tear it down to build the house of your dreams.

“This house is worth a million dollars?” I exclaimed in shock.

“Hardly,” she replied with a laugh. “Even though we have over three thousand square feet, it’s not what people want these days. We happen to love the layout, with everything on one floor and with a fully finished basement from which you can walk right out to the back yard. For us, it’s perfect, but today people want to show off their McMansions. That’s just not us. It’s the land that’s so valuable, but we’re staying put. We love it here, and the house is paid for. We paid off the mortgage long before you came to live with us.

“We’ve always kept the money from your parent’s life insurance and from the sale of your condo completely separate from ours. And New York City is finally getting serious about settling our lawsuit with the Metropolitan Transit Authority. There’ll be more than enough money to send you to a private school if that’s what you want, as well as college and graduate or professional school, with enough left over to get you started in your own business.

“You’re a great kid, Jeff, and we’d like to see you mature into the kind of thoughtful person you’ve always been. The public schools here are outstanding… in the top percentile… and they’re much more diverse… more like the real world.

“If you’d rather go to a private school next year for high school, though, we can certainly afford it. With your grades, you could go anywhere, even Exeter if you want to…”

Thinking about it only briefly, I replied, “I like it at Northview and I’m sure I’ll like North Central. They’re big schools… way bigger than what I was used to in New York… but I can’t think of anything they don’t offer in the way of classes and activities. I’ve made lots of friends at school and I’m happy there.”

“And if you keep your grades up at North Central, it will get you into any Ivy League school or university in the world. As you said, they have every kind of extra-curricular activity you can imagine. They have not just one but several science clubs, a chess club, a bridge club, a few drama clubs and even a GSA.”

Holey crap! Fuck! Did Grandma just say what I thought she said?

Laughing — laughing of all things, she continued, “Looks like maybe I hit a raw nerve with that last one.

“Jeff, the reason I came to see you is that there was a card in our mailbox today, along with the regular mail,” she said as she handed me a card in a sealed red envelope. “As you can see, the envelope is blank except for your name on it. There’s no stamp, no postmark and no return address. I don’t know what’s inside, but I thought you should know that I saw someone put something in our mailbox earlier today. I don’t think he meant to be seen but I saw him.”

“Him?” I asked. “Who was it.”

“It was a boy about your age, but not someone you’ve had over here before,” Grandma answered. “He was on a bicycle and wearing clothes pretty much like what you wear. You know, jeans and a hoodie under a winter jacket.”

“What’s he look like?” I asked.

“Well he’s white or possibly Hispanic. I couldn’t tell much other than that from a distance. He has dark blond or maybe light brown hair with blond highlights, but it looked like it may be darker underneath, and it’s a bit of an unruly mop. And he looked to be a bit shorter than you.”

I wracked my brain but there had to be a couple dozen or more boys in my class who looked like that. And then there was the other issue. Without thinking about it, I asked out loud, “How’d he know I’m gay?”

Again laughing — what was with that — Grandma responded, “Whether intentional or not, I think you just came out to me.”

My face felt like it was on fire as it dawned on me what I’d done.

“Jeff, you certainly don’t look or act gay if that’s what you’re worried about. For our part, Grandpa and I never suspected it. You don’t really have any girls as friends, though, and you haven’t shown an interest in girls, but then at thirteen, that’s probably true of a lot of boys your age.

“I know you’re probably afraid of what Grandpa and I will think of you if you’re gay. It truly doesn’t matter to us. You’re a great kid, Jeff, and that has nothing to do with your sexual orientation.”

With that I leapt into my grandma’s arms and we hugged each other tightly.

After releasing me from her embrace, Grandma exited my room, saying as she left, “I’ll leave you alone to open the card. Dinner will be ready in ten minutes.”

After Grandma left and closed the door behind her, I wasted no time in grabbing a letter opener from my desk drawer and quickly tore open the envelope, pulling out the card inside. It was a large card with a glossy plastic cover and a picture of two boys sitting on a pier, fishing poles in hand. On top, it said, for a good friend on Valentine’s day.

Inside, the card was blank, and there was a hand-written note that read, “Jeff, I know you’re probably not gay and I don’t want to freak you out, but I really like you. -J”

‘J?’ I thought to myself. J could be Jim, James, Jay, Joel, Jarred or Jerry, to name a few off the top of my head. It could even be Jeff or Jeffrey, too. My best friend at school was Jerome, but he was African American and certainly didn’t fit Grandma’s description of the boy who dropped the card off. Other than him, I couldn’t think of a single boy in my close circle of friends whose name started with the letter J.

I couldn’t help but think of the irony of it all. Moments before, I’d been reading a story on the Internet about a gay teen who’d received an anonymous card for Valentine’s Day. I’d laughed it off as something that would never happen to me, yet here I was, looking at a Valentine’s card from a boy and wondering who it was from.

Then I noticed the tiny writing at the bottom of the card. It was so tiny, it almost looked like a series of dots but, on close inspection, I could see that it was a number — a ten-digit number. It had to be a phone number! Did I have the guts to send him a text? He had the guts to give me a card. He didn’t sign it except to leave his initial, though, and I’d be giving him my cell number. But then I realized that he’d done the same.

Grabbing my phone, before I had a chance to even think about what I was doing, I sent a quick message, “RU the boy that sent the card?”

After what seemed like forever, my phone dinged and I opened it to find a one-word IM, “Yes.”

Oh wow! Excitedly, I texted back, “Got to eat now, but curious & interested. Will text when done with dinner. Later -J.”

Seconds later, I got back, “OMG! Great! -J.”

Dinner was interesting to say the least. I really wanted to get back to texting and talking to — whoever it was that sent me the card, but Grandma and Grandpa had other ideas. For one thing, they wanted to be sure I really was gay and not just labeling myself, since a lot of thirteen-year-old straight boys have crushes on other boys as well as girls. It wasn’t that they doubted me — they just wanted to be sure I hadn’t jumped to a premature conclusion. Unfortunately, in my frustration with them, I blurted out, “Look, I get hard thinking about boys. I have wet dreams about them. I get off thinking about touching them. I like girls well enough, but I don’t feel any of those things for girls!”

Then realizing what I’d said to my grandparents of all people, I said, “Oh God,” and slumped down in my chair, putting my head in my hands.

This time it was Grandpa who responded to me. “Jeff, please look at me.” After I finally straightened up and looked into my grandfather’s eyes, he continued, “Believe it or not, we know about things like wet dreams, erections and masturbation. I’m not going to tell you what I did when I was your age, but pretty much all boys masturbate and I’m not so old that I don’t remember what it’s like to be thirteen… almost fourteen… and ruled by your hormones. You probably think we don’t understand what you’re going through, but we do… perhaps better than you do.”

“But I’m gay,” I added.

“Yes, and you’ve made that pretty clear,” Grandpa said as he smiled.

“Above all else, honey,” Grandma interrupted, “we want you to know that our love for you has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Nothing at all. Being gay is no different than being straight, or bisexual or transgendered, for that matter. It may be more difficult than being straight, particularly here in the Midwest, but even in Indianapolis, there’s a vibrant gay community. As I mentioned earlier, North Central has an active GSA.”

“Be assured,” Grandpa chimed in, “I’ll interrogate the boys you date just as thoroughly as any father would have grilled you if you were dating their daughter. And know this… we’ll love the man of your dreams every bit as much as we would have loved the woman of your dreams.”

I couldn’t help it as the tears started to flow.

“The important question tonight, Jeff, is how you feel about being gay.” Grandpa asked.

Through my tears, I answered, “Well, I pretty much figured it out at the end of the sixth grade, just after I turned twelve, but I’d been thinking about it ever since I started middle school. Back in New York, there are lots of gay people and my parents had gay friends over all the time, and some of my friends had gay parents, so I pretty much grew up with gay folks. Like you said, they’re no different than anyone else. When I realized I was gay, it wasn’t much of a revelation or anything. Actually, I was more worried about what my friends would think… and about what you guys would think.”

“Well you can put that worry to rest,” Grandma assured me,” and I’m sure your friends will have no problem with it either… not if they’re really your friends.”

“So what’s this I hear about getting a Valentine from a boy?” Grandpa asked.

As I explained about getting the card and texting him before dinner, that led to a whole discussion about dating, coming out and of all things, safer sex. Good God, I got ‘The Talk’, which was as embarrassing as anything. I didn’t know my grandparents even knew about condoms, but no kid should have to discuss the proper way to put one on with their grandparents.

By the time we finished dinner and ‘The Talk’, it was already nearly 8:30. At least Grandma let me out of helping with the dishes so I could get back to texting ‘J’, whoever he was.

Finally — finally I was back in my room with the door closed. So why was I so nervous? My hand actually started shaking when I picked up my phone, and I was sweating like crazy. I mean, I knew whoever it was, was gay, and I was gay, and I was curious and all. So why was I scared half to death to text him? To talk to him? Could it be that I was worried he might not be gay — that he might be a bully trying to get me to out myself? I realized I could beat myself up all night thinking like that. No boy would risk being suspected of being gay unless they really were gay, and looking for a boyfriend. I just needed to suck it up and text him back.

Summoning all my courage, I picked my phone back up and sent another SMS, ‘Hey, sorry it’s so late. I ended up getting ‘The Talk’ at dinner tonight.’

‘Not The Talk! Do your rents know you’re gay?’ he responded after a few minutes.

‘They do now,’ I replied. ‘Actually, I live with my grandparents. The rents died in a car crash 4 years ago.’

‘Man, I’m sorry to hear that,’ the boy texted back. ‘So you came out to your grandparents tonight?’

‘My grandma saw you drop the card off,’ I explained.

‘Oh, man, I’m sorry. I didn’t think anyone saw me. Didn’t mean to out you.’

‘You didn’t,’ I clarified. ‘When she told me a boy dropped the card off, I asked how you knew I was gay. I outed myself.’

‘Still, I’m sorry I did that to you,’ he replied. ‘So your grandma saw me? Did she tell you who it was?’

‘No, she didn’t know you,’ I answered. ‘I still don’t know who you are.’

‘I’d like to keep it that way for now. I’d like to take you to the Valentine’s dance, and I’d like my identity to remain a surprise until then.’

‘Oh, a surprise mystery boy,’ I responded. ‘I kind of like that. I’m curious, though. How’d you know I’m gay?’

‘I didn’t,’ he answered. ‘I just hoped and prayed. I’ve kinda had a crush on you since we started middle school. Big time :)’

‘Why me?’ I asked.

‘I dunno. ’Cause you’re cute I guess. & UR one of the nicest boys I know.’

I could almost feel him blushing through my phone.

‘So you’d like to take me to the Valentine’s dance?” I asked.

‘Actually, I thought maybe we could go separately and meet there, and then maybe get to know each other a little better.’

‘You want us to out ourselves in front of everyone?’ I asked in horror.

‘I’m just tired of hiding who I am,’ the boy responded. The dance will be a kinda safe place to try it out, you know?’

Truthfully, I didn’t know, but I didn’t want to take a chance on losing my first potential boyfriend and so I texted back, ‘OK, if you say so.’

‘Great’, he replied. ‘Meet you at the dance at 8:00?’

‘OK,’ I answered. ‘CU there.’

‘But I’ll CU first,’ he replied, then added, ‘Night.’

‘Good night to you too,’ I responded, and then closed my texting app. I was a bit disappointed I still didn’t know who it was, and that we didn’t get a chance to actually talk to each other. However, the mystery would be over in only a few days, at the school’s Valentine’s dance on Friday.

 

I’d never been so nervous in my life. Soon, the whole school would know I was gay. There’d be no taking it back either. After tonight, I’d be out and proud for the rest of my life. I’d always figured I’d come out in college, but in middle school, before I even turned fourteen? Fuck, this was scary.

The Valentine’s dance at Northview was a big deal. Unlike most school functions, it wasn’t held in the school gym or cafeteria. No, the Valentine’s dance was held in the Student Center, on the same campus as my middle school and the high school, but in a building by itself. The dance was open to all three middle schools in the district, which meant that as many as three thousand kids could attend. I’d never been before, but heard that typically there’d be seven or eight hundred in attendance, which was still a huge number for a school dance. Because I didn’t know anyone who went to Westlane or Eastview, the majority would be strangers. Nevertheless, I’d be coming out to all of them and it would be the talk of all three schools.

The dance was a semi-formal, with a live band. Sports coats were required, and boys were strongly encouraged to wear a tie. I had it on good faith that most of the boys, however, just wore a sports coat over a button-up shirt, a decent pair of jeans and sneakers. I only had one sports coat, a navy one, but it went real well with my best pair of jeans. My grandma bought me a silky, dark red shirt just for the dance. I had to admit, the outfit looked good on me.

Not knowing when my mystery boy would show up, I decided I’d better get there by 7:30, right when the doors opened. I really hated doing that, knowing that most kids wouldn’t arrive until at least a half-hour later. He’d said we’d meet at 8:00, but if he came early too, it would give us some time to meet and get to know each other before we committed ourselves to coming out. If the chemistry just wasn’t there, perhaps I could stay in the closet a little bit longer — at least until I started high school next year in any case.

When Grandpa dropped me off in front of the Student Center, there were only a few kids milling around inside, and most of those were evidently on the organizing committee and were busy putting the finishing touches on the decorations and setting out the refreshments. After purchasing and presenting my ticket, I made a beeline for one of the refreshment tables and grabbed a small paper plate, which I filled with totally unhealthy-looking heart-shaped cookies. The cookies were completely covered with red and pink icing, giving me a much-needed sugar fix to feed the raw energy of my jumbled nerves.

Slowly, kids began arriving and the band began playing a mix of popular tunes. A few girls even came up to me and asked me to dance, but I politely declined, explaining that I was meeting up with someone to whom I’d promised the first dance. It was with the fourth girl to ask me that I royally screwed up. Perhaps if she’d asked me the name of the girl I was waiting for, it would have clued me in to thinking about my answer, but she didn’t. Instead she asked me who I was waiting for and I answered that he didn’t tell me his name.

The squeal she made was loud enough to be heard in the next county, and could easily be heard over the music played by the band. It certainly got my attention, as well as that of the few hundred kids who were already there. The squeal by itself would have been bad enough, but she followed it rather loudly with, “You mean you’re waiting for another boy to dance with? You mean you’re gay?”

I wanted to slink away and quietly die or something. Everyone in the room was staring at us, and I do mean everyone. The band even stopped playing — that’s how loud she was. The band resumed what they’d been playing, but with all the whispering around us, it was clear that everyone had heard her. Like it or not, I was out.

Turning back to the girl, whom I didn’t know, I answered, “Well, yeah, I’m gay, and I’m meeting a boy who sent me a card. Perhaps dancing with him wouldn’t have been any more subtle than your announcement to the whole room. I just hope you didn’t scare him off.”

“I’m really sorry about that,” she replied, “but it’s just so cool, you know? Coming out like that? It sounds so romantic… an anonymous card and a mystery boy… and now dancing with him in front of everyone. I think it’s fantastic!”

“I’ll feel better about it when he shows up,” I acknowledged.

“As cute as you are, he’d be a fool not to show up,” the girl responded. “If he doesn’t, I’m still interested,” she added. “Good luck!” And then she kissed me on the cheek before walking away.

What a bizarre experience!

There still was no sign of my wanabe boyfriend, and so I decided to mingle to give him a better chance to spot me. That only increased my sense of unease, though, as everywhere I mingled, kids openly stared at me, whispered and even pointed at me. Gees, they were acting more like toddlers than kids in middle-school.

“Hey Jeff,” someone called out my name from behind me.

I turned and found myself face-to-face with Scott Tayler, a kid I knew from school. He was in a few of my classes — advanced algebra, and earth sciences… and gym class. As good as he looked in the clothes he was wearing, he looked even better without clothes. He was one of the boys I liked to look at when I could, and a frequent source of material for, um, self-gratification.

I’d been hoping it was the boy who’d sent me the card who called out my name, but I was grateful to have someone to talk to while I waited. Besides being nice to look at, Scott was a good guy — at least I’d always thought he was.

“Man, that took real balls, coming out the way you did,” he began.

“Maybe,” I acknowledged, “but I didn’t exactly plan to announce it to everyone either. Dancing with a boy would have been enough, but having some girl practically shout it out was definitely not part of the plan.”

“I imagine not,” he laughed, and I laughed along with him.

Then looking down at the floor and fidgeting around a bit, he looked back up at me and swallowed hard. “Would you, maybe, like to dance with me?”

Holy crap, Scott Tayler was asking me to dance! He was going to out himself — for me.

Just to confirm what I thought he’d said, I asked, “You mean you’re…”

“Gay?” he confirmed. When I nodded my head, he answered, “yeah.”

“And you want to dance with me?” I asked. “Man, are you out?”

“No,” he replied. “Actually, I’m petrified. Not even my family knows. None of my friends know. In a way, I just came out to myself, thanks to you.”

Looking him right in the eyes, I asked, “Are you sure this is how you want to come out? I mean, don’t you want to think things over first? Maybe tell the rents and your closest friends?”

“No,” he answered, “I really wanna dance with you. You’ve known me since sixth grade, Jeff. I’m not the kinda guy to do things half-way. Now that I’ve realized I’m gay, I’m not willing to hide myself away in some stupid shit closet.”

“And you’re sure about being gay?” I asked again.

“Jeff, I like girls just fine,” he answered with a deep blush, “but they don’t have the right parts, if you know what I mean.”

Oh yeah, I definitely knew what he meant as I felt my own face burning. Remembering why I was there, however, I told him, “Much as I’d love to dance with you, like I told that girl, I’m waiting on someone who sent me a card for Valentine’s Day. I don’t know his name, but we’ve been texting and he’s going to meet me here. I don’t think it’d be a good idea for me to be dancing with someone else when he gets here, you know?”

“I totally understand, Jeff,” Scott answered. “He sent you a card? Anonymously? Man, that’s so fuckin’ romantic, you know? But my offer still stands. After you’ve danced with him for a while, don’t be surprised if I cut in, if that’s OK with you.”

“That’s more than OK,” I answered. “I’ll look forward to dancing with you.” Then getting another thought, I asked, “In the unlikely event that someone else asks me to dance with them… another boy… would you like me to let them know you’re available?”

“Yeah, sure,” he answered. “Like I said, I’m not gonna go hide in some closet. If someone else is willing to come out and dance with you, I’d be delighted to dance with them… if they’ll have me.”

Clasping his shoulder, I responded, “You’re a prime catch, Scott. If I hadn’t agreed to meet my mystery guy, I’d be on the dance floor with you right now.”

“Thanks Jeff,” Scott replied, but before I could even remove my hand from Scott’s shoulder, someone grabbed me from behind in a bear hug.

“How the fuck is my gay best friend,” a voice boomed out from behind me.

Turning so that I could talk to him without ignoring Scott, I said, “Jerome, you asshole. You fuckin’ scared the shit out of me!”

“What are best friends for?” he responded.

“So I guess you heard,” I added.

“Jeff, my man,” he replied, “when was the last time you mentioned at girl to me you thought was hot?”

Thinking carefully, I answered, “I can’t remember ever mentioning a girl to you at all, much less one I thought was hot.”

“Exactly. When was the last time I mentioned a girl to you I thought was hot.”

Laughing, I answered, “At least three or four times today. So are you saying you already knew I was gay.”

“Jeff, I had you figured out back in the fifth grade.”

“Man, I hadn’t even figured it out back then,” I responded. “So I take it that doesn’t bother you.”

Shrugging his shoulders, he replied, “Why should it? Besides, the way you talk is far more embarrassing than the fact you’re gay.”

“What’s wrong with the way I talk?” I asked.

“Other than, that you talk like my dad does to his clients, nothing at all,” Jerome replied.

“I think the way he talks is kinda cute,” Scott countered.

“Sounds like you have another secret admirer,” Jerome responded.

“Not so secret,” Scott added. “Thanks to Jeff, I’ve decided to come out too. Closets are for stuff you want to hide away, and I sure as fuck don’t wanna live in one.”

“Good for you,” Jerome said as he bumped fists with Scott.

Then turning back to me, he asked, “Still no sign of the mystery boy?”

“You know about that?” I asked in return.

Blushing and looking down, he said, “I kinda know who it is, ’cause he asked me if I thought you might be gay.”

“You told him I’m gay?” I practically shouted at my best friend incredulously.

“Of course not, Jeff. Don’t get your panties twisted in a knot. I asked him why he wanted to know, and he told me he wanted to ask you out. I asked him why I wasn’t good enough for him, and why he was willing to settle for you.”

“Jerk.”

“Anyway,” Jerome continued, “I couldn’t belive he was gay, and that he wanted you bad enough to risk coming out to me. I told him I didn’t know if you’re gay, but that you never, ever talked about girls. I guess he figured that was good enough evidence for him to take a chance.”

“Who is it?” I asked.

“The guy wants it to be a surprise, and I gotta respect that.” Jerome answered. “One thing, though. I got the impression he was gonna ask you to a dance tomorrow night. Are you sure he’s even coming tonight?”

“He said he was,” I answered. “He told me he’d meet me here tonight at 8:00. Besides, tomorrow’s dance is for the high school,” I pointed out.

“No. No. He told me he was gonna ask you to a youth dance at an LGBT club in Broad Ripple Village. I’m sure of it.”

“But he didn’t say anything about that to me,” I countered. “He said he wanted to take me to the dance, and he’d meet me here at 8:00.”

“Are you sure he meant this dance?”

“Why would he have invited me to some other Valentine’s dance and not told me?” I asked.

“Maybe he was so nervous about asking you, that he forgot?” Scott suggested.

Remembering his comment about coming out in a safe environment, it suddenly made sense. The school dance was anything but a safe environment, but a youth dance at an LGBT club in the Village would have been perfectly safe — a way to test the waters before taking the plunge at school.

Before I could voice my suspicions, however, we were joined by another boy I knew, although not well. Bryce Walker was one of the school’s top athletes, playing football in the fall, and I heard he wrestled in the winter and ran cross-country in the spring. He was certainly good looking enough, but I wasn’t in his league and to be honest, he wasn’t my type. I was sure he must be coming up to talk to Jerome or Scott, but he came right up to me and asked me if I’d like to dance. Woah, Brice Walker was gay!

“Maybe later,” I answered, “but I’m waiting for someone to whom I promised the first dance.”

Without even a pause, he asked Jerome and Scott, “Are either of you guys interested in dancing?”

Scott, who’d practically been drooling since Bryce came up to us, answered, “I am.”

Bryce responded, “Great!” and then he took Scott by the hand and led him out to the dance floor.

“Looks like you’re a hot commodity tonight, stud,” Jerome added, but my thoughts were still on the possibility that I was at the wrong dance.

“Shit! I think you might be right,” I exclaimed.

“That you’re a hot commodity?” Jerome asked in surprise. “Of course I’m right, but let’s not get carried away, here. You’re a good looking boy, but DiCaprio you’re not.”

“No, not that,” I replied. I’m talking about being at the wrong dance. Maybe my mystery boy meant the dance tomorrow night. He’s already more than a half-hour late. Well, there’s one way to find out.”

Taking out my phone, I sent a text message. ‘Where are U? I’ve been here since 7:30. You said you’d meet me at 8:00. Everyone wants to meet the mystery boy who sent me the card.’

It took a few minutes, but then I got back the reply, ‘What the fuck RU talking about. The dance is tomorrow night.’

‘No, it’s tonight. Tomorrow night is the high school dance.’ I figured it’d be better to play innocent, since I hadn’t even known about the LGBT dance.

‘What in the world RU talking about? I invited you to the LGBT youth dance tomorrow night… OH FUCK! I didn’t tell U that, did I?’

‘What LGBT dance?’ I asked. ‘You only asked me to the dance. I assumed U meant the school dance. What other dance is there? There’s an LGBT dance too?’

‘Yeah, I’m sorry, Jeff. I thought U knew. & I forgot to tell you. I hope you’re not mad.’

‘No, I’m not mad,’ I replied. ‘Maybe disappointed. I’ve been turning everyone else down, waiting for U. And then some girl I don’t even know outed me to everyone. So far everyone’s been pretty cool, though. They can’t wait to find out who my mystery boy is.

‘U know, there’s still plenty of time yet. The dance goes on to 10. Why don’t you take a quick shower, throw on a jacket over a dress shirt and jeans, and get your ass to the Student Center.’

‘RU fucking nuts? Everyone would know I’m gay!’

‘Well, wasn’t that part of the plan?’ I asked.

‘Yeah, but after testing the water at the LGBT dance.’

‘What was all that about not wanting to be in hiding anymore?’ I asked.

‘But I wanted to ease into it. I haven’t even told the rents yet.’

“Give me that,” Jerome said as he yanked my phone out of my hands. I guess he’d been reading the texts over my shoulder. Jerome tapped and tapped away on my phone before handing it back to me, saying, “He says he’ll be right over.”

When I read what my best friend had texted to my maybe boyfriend, I couldn’t help but break into laughter. He wrote, ‘Justin, you idiot! This is Jerome. The whole time you’ve been lying on your ass at home, prolly jerkin’ off, Jeff has been getting hit on right and left, by both girls AND boys. Scott Tayler and Bryce Walker are on the dance floor right now ’cause Jeff turned them down, waiting for you. I’m not gay, but Scott’s one hot dude, and Bryce is a prime specimen. If I were Jeff, I’d just say to hell with it and dance the night away. Jeff’s out and proud, man. That boy has more balls than all the other eighth grade boys combined. So get your ass over here right now.’

And Justin had replied, ‘OK, I’ll B right over.’

“What’s so funny,” Jerome asked when the laughing didn’t stop.

 “Man, I just had this image, you know? When you said I had more balls than all the other boys combined, I had this image of, like, a thousand little balls, hanging down between my legs. And then I imagined bouncing around on all those balls ’cause they’d prolly hang down below my feet, and I’d just bounce around from class to class. Well, it seemed funny at the time.”

Chuckling, Jerome replied, “I think the two balls you were born with are fine the way they are.” Then he added, “Did I really say that?”

“Yeah, you did,” I answered, then asked, “My secret admirer’s Justin Lang? Justin Lang, the fucking class president?”

“And your biggest competition for valedictorian this spring,” Jerome replied.

“Man, I never would have thought Justin Lang is gay. I mean, he’s slight, and he’s smart, but then that’s not unusual with a lot of Asians, you know. He’s always surround by girls, so I would have never thought he’s gay.”

Grandma hadn’t mentioned that my secret admirer was Asian, but then maybe she couldn’t tell from a distance, especially the way he spiked, gelled and bleached his hair the way a lot of kids do, regardless of race. That boy was exactly, my type — a perfect ten if there ever was one. I would have never guessed he was gay and available, let alone interested. We weren’t exactly close friends because he’d gone to Crooked Creek Elementary whereas I’d gone to Fox Hill, but we were both in the high achiever program and were in almost all the same classes, so we knew each other pretty well. No doubt about it, he was prime boyfriend material.

I didn’t have long to wait and scarcely five minutes later, I heard Justin call out my name.

“Hey, Justin,” I replied. “I’m afraid Jerome accidentally revealed your identity.”

“So I gathered from his IM. So would you like to dance?” he asked.

The band was playing a slow song, so there would be little doubt that we were dancing together. I took Justin’s hand and led him to the dance floor, where we wrapped each other in our arms and began swaying to the music. For someone who’d not planned to attend tonight’s dance, he looked incredible. He wore a pair of khakis with a dark green dress shirt that really brought out the green color of his eyes. Over it he wore a leather jacket that smelled like it was pretty new, and he was wearing a cologne I’d not smelled before, that was incredibly sexy.

“I can’t believe you got here so fast,” I commented as we danced.

“I simply told my mom I had to get to the dance, right away. When she asked why I changed my mind about going, I explained that I got a text message from someone I really liked, wondering where I was. She responded by asking if he was anyone she knew, and it dawned on me that she’d said, ‘he’ instead of ‘she’.”

“So she already knew?” I asked.

“Yeah, she already knew I was gay. So’d Dad. Funny, but I’d worried for nothing. I just hope my friends’ll be as accepting.”

“So far, everyone’s been fine with me,” I noted. “Besides, this is so worth it”

After a slight pause, Justin replied, “Yeah, it is. This is nice. Even better than I’d imagined.”

“So are we still on for the dance tomorrow?” I asked.

“Of course we are,” he answered. “It’ll be a great chance to meet other gay kids. ’Course most of them will prolly be high school students, but then so will we next year.

“How about we go out first for dinner, my treat,” he added. “There are some great restaurants in The Village.”

“You mean, like, on a real date?” I asked.

“Of course I mean like on a real date. If that’s not too presumptuous of me.”

“Not at all,” I responded. “I really like the sound of it, Jay, and it’d be a great chance for us to get to know each other a little better.”

Pulling back slightly to look at me, his lips curled into a faint smile and Justin said, “You called me Jay because of the way I signed the card.” I nodded my head in response. “I like that,” he went on. “You can call me Jay, any time you want.”

“This… this surprise is really special, Jay. I’ll always remember and cherish this night. And I’ll still remember that card when I’m eighty.”

“That’s so sweet,” he responded, and then he gave me a quick peck, right on the tip of my nose. “Unfortunately, PDA isn’t allowed at a school dance, and it would look particularly bad for the class president to be thrown out of a dance for breaking the rules.”

“I guess you’ll just have to save that kiss for after the dance, then,” I replied as I felt myself blushing deeply.

“I’ll definitely take you up on that,” Jay responded with a blush of his own.

The author gratefully acknowledges the invaluable assistance of David of Hope for editing as well as Awesome Dude for hosting this and my other stories.

DISCLAIMER: There are references to sex between underage boys and, obviously, anyone who is uncomfortable with this should not be reading it. All characters are fictional and any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental. The author retains full copyright of this other stories based on these characters.