Alex - Chapter 2

 

 

 

 

Most people who live in Quaker Hills, the small town in a rural area of Pennsylvania where I grew up, are still mostly unaccepting of things that are different than when they were young. Openly displaying that you’re gay is definitely one of those differences, so it goes without saying then, that the “anything goes” air of Southern California took me by complete surprise.

 

My first roommate however, would probably have felt right at home in Quaker Hills. What a total jerk he was. I kind of figured that out the first time I met him, when he kept giving me icy stares as I dragged my things through the doorway.

 

“Dude, put your stuff over there in your half of the room.”

 

I looked at him with my eyebrows up, because I couldn’t believe that was the first thing someone would tell the guy they’re going to be rooming with for eight of the next nine months.

 

“Ah… where’s my half begin.”

 

“You blind? That’s what the duct tape on the floor’s for. Since this is college, and I’m on this side of the room, you should be able to figure it out for yourself.”

 

 Other than mumble his name, which was Bill, or Will, when I asked him, he didn’t say anything else to me until I had put my clothes away.

 

Dude, you said your name’s Ax-hole, right?”

 

“It’s Alex,” I spit at him, ticked that he was trying to make my name sound like it was the same as a certain part of the human anatomy.

 

“Whatever. I’m planning on bringin’ lots of babes to my room, so you’d better find yourself an alternate place to sleep those nights. That is unless you want to sleep in the student lounge, or the library.”

 

I looked at him in disbelief.

 

“Dude, I’m just tellin’ ya before hand, that’s all.”

 

Now, not only were my eyebrows raised, my mouth was hanging open. Did I just hear him say that I wasn’t going to be sleeping in my own room every night? I could see in his eyes that he was loving this.

 

“Maybe there’s another guy,” he said with special emphasis, “in the dorm that wouldn’t mind sharin’ his room with you while I’m bustin’ a nut the way guys are supposed to do it.”

 

I think at that point I was starting to catch on that he somehow figured I was gay – but how? I mean I don’t talk with a lisp or have a limp wrist. I missed Caleb already. I needed him to put his arms around me and give me strength, but that wasn’t gonna happen for four more months.

 

That was on Sunday afternoon. By six o’clock, someone had already stuck his head in our room and asked us if we knew about the party they were having in one of the frat houses. Will took off without saying a word to me. Fifteen minutes later, another guy stuck his head into the room with the same announcement, so I grabbed a tee, slipped my sandals on, and headed off.

 

Monday was freshman orientation, and I had one mega hangover. I could feel Will’s eyes following me as I made my way to the door, and when I accidentally bumped into the end of his bed, he let me have it.

 

“I told you to keep out of my half of the room,” he hissed. Then he coughed, but it sounded more like an excuse to say the word “Faggot” then trying to clear his throat of phlegm.

 

“Excuse me?” I shot back at him, more than a little irritated.

 

“I just coughed. Get a life for fuck’s sake.”

 

As I was closing the door behind me, he coughed again, only this time it was much clearer. “Faggot!”

 

Already wanting to spend as little time in my room as possible, I decided to wonder around campus until supper that day. I should have spent more time hanging out, getting to know the two guys sitting across from me at the table, because as it was, I walked right in on them – my roommate and his lady friend, that is. It was totally disgusting. Then to top it off, as soon as he realized I was there, he casually looked at me, and said “this is Rachael, she’s a girl. She’s spending the night, so don’t bother hanging around, unless you want lessons on how to use your junk like a man.” Rachael giggled, and they just went back to what they were doing. I grabbed the blanket off my bed and headed for the student lounge for the night.

 

All the next day, I stewed over getting bounced out of my room the night before. I was okay in principle with giving my dorm mate some extra privacy once in a while, but he didn’t even have the decency to discuss an acceptable arrangement with me. He just acted like it was his own private room, and that he’d let me sleep there on the nights that he couldn’t find entertainment. I think I missed half of what was said in class that day. Fortunately, most of it was preliminaries, so as long as we got something worked out, it wouldn’t affect my grades.

 

I was relieved that Will wasn’t in the room when I got back, so I took advantage of the lack of tension, and began studying. Later, I was trying to strike up a conversation on Facebook with Caleb. It was quarter-past nine when Will walked into the room, leading a somewhat reluctant, but apparently very drunk girl by the hand – a different girl than the previous night.

 

“You’re just leaving, right?” he asked. It sounded like a question – almost a plea, but the look in his steely eyes let me know that there was only one answer that he expected.

 

I raised my eyebrows in a ‘what are you talking about,’ kind of way, so he added “Please,” as he rolled his eyes. I shot daggers at him with my eyes, jerked the blanket from my bed, and grabbed my pillow. Then, as I was closing the door, he did it again – even louder than before.

 

“Faggot,” he coughed, loudly enough to turn the head of the guy and girl heading into the next room. Since I was the only other person in the hall, they gave me the once-over, then, in low voices, giggled something to each other as they closed the door behind them.

 

On my way to the student lounge, I was debating in my mind if I should pay the dorm residence assistant a visit, when I met a couple of guys I had seen at the party on Sunday. They were heading to a local bar, and asked me to join them. I decided that this morning’s hangover wasn’t so bad. At least I wouldn’t have to spend the entire night alone in the student lounge, and if things went as planned, I wouldn’t have to worry about falling asleep, either. I was right on both counts. Unfortunately, after passing out, I overslept the next morning and missed my first class.

 

By Thursday, having only gotten to sleep in my room once, I tentatively rapped on the RA’s door at the end of our hallway.

 

“Yeah?” was his less than enthusiastic greeting.

 

“Umm, like I was wondering if there was another open bed somewhere. My roommate kind of has a lot of girls over all the time, and he expects me to get lost.”

 

“Maybe he’d let you join ‘em?”

 

What?

 

The RA must have seen the shock in my eyes.

 

“Just kidding. You a frosh?”

 

I nodded my head.

 

“You’ll get used to it,” he told me as he pushed the door closed.

 

 

 

Those first two weeks, it was like I was swimming under water with no hope of reaching the surface for a breath of much needed air. I had only been here two weeks, and I had already flunked two quizzes, and was behind on my assignments – all because I was having to spend so many nights out of my room, which in turn had led me to get wasted more times in two weeks, than I had in my entire high school career.

 

I called Caleb twice during that time, but both times he seemed kind of mad about something, so our conversations never really got off the ground. I couldn’t figure why he was being so pissy. He was usually so not gay when it came to being moody. It just didn’t make sense to me why he would start acting like that just because I decided to go to school in California.

 

The night I was checking out my grades while sitting in the student lounge once again, and saw that I had flunked my second quiz, I decided that, like him or not, I had to work something out with my roomie. Next morning, I let myself into the room to pick up books for my eight o’clock class, and, hoping to talk to Will. They were both still sleeping. I knew better than to stare at him, but he was just lying there on his back with nothing on, and he definitely had something to be proud of. Without thinking about what I was doing, I reached down and began adjusting myself, then glanced at his face and realized that he was staring at me staring at him. His piercing eyes let me know that he knew what I was looking at, too. Throwing the bed sheet over the two of them he angrily told me “Don’t even think about it fag boy.”

 

Without saying a word, I fled the room. I thought about Caleb as I walked down the long hallway, and how maybe I should have gone to West Chester, so I could’ve at least been with him on the weekends, even if that did mean I had to help out on the dairy.

 

 

 

If I thought things couldn’t have gotten worse, I was in for a rude awakening that afternoon. I had figured out that Will seldom inhabited our room before eight PM, so if I hurried back after classes, I could at least get most of my studying out of the way before I moved to the student lounge for the night. That afternoon however, when I got back to my room I noticed that there were four guys standing in front of our dorm door. Assuming they were waiting for Will, I kind of hung back, and waited. Then one of them happened to look in my direction, and all four of them instantly erupted into laughter and began making lewd gestures toward me. I had no idea what was going on, but when one of them thrust his hips in my direction, and shouted “come and get it, sweetie,” I knew it wasn’t good.

 

A few more catcalls, and they turned and sauntered off in the opposite direction. I was afraid to find out what they had been looking at, but made my way down the hall. I felt my jaw hit my chest when I looked at the door. There was a photo of Caleb and me, enlarged into an eleven by seventeen poster, taped to the door. It wasn’t just any picture either. My roommate must have hacked his way onto my private MySpace account, found the link to Caleb’s account, hacked into his private photo albums, and found the pictures that Caleb had gotten a passerby to take during our trip to the beach. We had been high on E at the time, and the two of us had been feeling pretty sweet. There for all to see were Caleb and me, one hand behind the others head, tongue kissing. The worst part though, was that with our free hand, we were groping the front of the each others’ Speedo. Over top of the photo was a large red circle with cross line drawn through it, and below the photo, were the words “NO HOMO ZONE”

 

I couldn’t hack this abuse for a whole semester, so I ripped the poster off the door, and headed straight to the admissions office to see if I could be paired up with another roommate. The administration did not take my complaint lightly, and on the spot, paired me up with a single student three doors down the hallway. It must have been ninety degrees in that room as moved my things from one room to the next, but Will had on long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a long jacket that fell below his crotch. And every time I came to get more of my stuff, he’d “cough” the word faggot.

 

I did feel a bit better when, before I left the room for the last time, the RA popped his head in the door, introduced himself, then stared a hole, clear through Will.

 

“You Will?” he asked.

 

My ex-roommate tried to stare him down.

 

“Lame, asshole. You’ve just earned the distinction of being the very first person this year to be assigned to Diversity Awareness 101. Miss it and you’re out of here.” I felt a nervous shiver run up my spine when the RA winked at me before leaving.

 

 

 

My new roomie Seth Amati was a slight improvement.

 

“Hey, man. Seth,” he said as he held out his hand toward me. “I saw the poster. Pretty hot, too… if you’re into guys,” which left me wondering if he was, and whether I’d be having a whole new set of problems. I felt a slight flush burning my face, but then he continued.

 

“I like to have a girl over for the night sometimes. I got it worked out with the guys next door so you can stay there for the night. Here’s our signal,” he told me as he moved over to the door and showed me the bandana hanging on the doorknob to our room. “Feel free to use it when you need some privacy. No offense, man, but I do not want to walk in on that.”

 

At least I knew where he stood.

 

 

 

Friday night of my third full week on campus, I knocked on the door to the room beside ours, and was met by Shane Zurin, pillow in hand.

 

“Alex, I was so hoping not to see you tonight. You been sexiled too?”

 

Sexiled” Even though I had already experienced it, that’s a word that I had never heard until now. I pointed to the red doo-rag hanging on the doorknob of the room I had paid good money to sleep in, but was evidently not going to be able to use again.

 

“I guess it’s the student lounge, then. You got an extra pillow?”

 

“Let’s take a walk over to the quad” Shane proposed as he showed me a bag of grass hidden in his pillowcase.

 

I knew that college life was going to be a lot freer than life at home, but I guess I just didn’t expect everything to be so out in the open like it was. I had only been here three weeks, and felt the pressure to join the partying almost every day – so much so that I found myself, for the most part, unable to say no.

 

Saturday, Seth walked into the dorm while I was trying to decide whether I should catch up on studying or go to the party we had been invited to. Spying me on my bed, he got a huge grin on his face.

 

“Hey, Alex, glad you’re here. What’s up? I want you to meet a friend of mine from home. Cal, this here’s my roommate, Alex Harper that I been tellin’ you about.”

 

I got up to say hi, and found that Cal was staring into my eyes in a way that instantly set off my gaydar alarm bells.

 

“I think you two have a lot in common,” Seth said as he changed his shirt. “You should show Cal the picture that was on your door,” he said, wriggling his eyebrows up and down. “I’ll find a place for the night, so don’t worry about me walking in on you guys.” He picked the bandana off the doorknob on the way out, and looped it over the outside knob.

 

It had only been three weeks since I had spent the night saying my goodbyes to Caleb, and showing him how much I loved him, but three weeks is a long time to go without when you’re used to getting it on a regular basis. I was really feeling the pressure, but I managed to stammer out “I… I promised my boyfriend that I wouldn’t,” I told him as I backed away from his soft moist lips.

 

Cal looked a bit surprised as he dropped his hand away from my neck. Glancing down, I could see that he must be feeling some pressure too, so I started talking, asking me the usual things like where I was from and what I was into. When it was finally clear to him that I wasn’t going to spend the night in bed with him, he suggested that we hit one of the parties that Seth had told him about. His arm around my waist, as we made our way across campus, made me wonder if Caleb and I had made a mistake by promising to not to date anyone while we were apart from each other.

 

Cal turned out to be pretty cool, and we settled into an enjoyable conversation about our past, and about what we hoped the future would hold for us. I don’t remember how I got back to my dorm room that night. I don’t know for sure if anything really happened between us after we got back to the room, but we were kind of tangled in a knot on the bed when I woke up. I do vaguely remember hearing him tell me that, “what happens on campus, stays on campus,” as he was pulling my shirt off, just before I swallowed the last shot I remember swallowing.

 

 

 

The very next day, I found out that the RA’s wink, was more than a platonic gesture. He had seen me leaving my room and had invited me to stop by for “a cold one’ that afternoon. Thinking I could drink away my hangover, I happily obliged him. He was wearing a pair of cut-off jeans. I hadn’t noticed before that the seam between his legs had been ripped, but when he sat down, I nearly choked on my beer at what I saw. He was obviously going commando.

 

“Was that your boyfriend on the poster?”

 

“Hey, man, thanks for the beer, but I just remembered I gotta meet Seth.”

 

“Oh, I just kind of figured you might be missing him by now. You two been together long?”

 

“A year,” I nervously told him.

 

He opened another beer and handed it to me.

 

“Listen, if there’s anything I can do for ya, just let me know, okay? Anything.

 

“You think it’s hot in here?” he asked as he started caressing the front of his cut-offs.

 

 “I really do need to go.”

 

“One shot. I just opened a bottle of tequila.”

 

“I shouldn’t”

 

He poured two doubles, counted three, and we threw them down.

 

When my eyes focused again, he was pouring two more.

 

“Stan, I can’t. I gotta go.”

 

“Sure. One for the road then. One, two three.”

 

He leaned in real close to my ear and whispered, “Whatever happens in here, stays in here, ya know. No one’d know.”

 

I was devastated when I finally managed to pull my pants on and stagger back to my room. Not just because of what we had done, but because in the end, I had been the one who actually made the move. I had promised Caleb. Now I was torn, needing him to console me, but knowing that I couldn’t possibly tell him why.

 

 

 

I just couldn’t get over how different college life was compared with what I had been used to up to this point in my life. Until my junior year of high school, I had only dreamed of getting invited to a party, now I could hardly escape them. After getting over the guilt trip from my recent failures, and realizing how many other times I had come close to breaking my promise to Caleb at a party, I decided to spend less time partying, and more time on Facebook, chatting with him. He seemed to be over whatever it was that had been bugging him, and I was starting to get really homesick for him.

 

Every day, I asked Caleb how life was, and every day, he assured me that life in Quaker Hills was boring as ever, except for the weekend parties. That kind of surprised me, because my entire senior year, the only partying we ever did, was that time with the guys from the soccer team, and at the shore after school let out for the summer. That time kind of scared us, though, because we both got into ecstasy, and when it was time to go home, we were both like, “I don’t ever want to stop.” That’s also when Caleb asked that guy take our picture on the beach – the one that dickhead posted on the door of our dorm room. We were so messed up, when we got back from that week, that Caleb’s dad had to practically run the dairy by himself for three days.

 

It also didn’t escape my notice that, even though he said life was boring, he was spending more and more time telling me about a sophomore who had joined their club at school.

 

 

 

u have2 meet trevor @ xmas

 

omg he’s so cute

 

robbie tol us hiz bf gives good head

 

trev dint no what head wuz lol

 

 

 

By the middle of November, it was becoming apparent that Caleb, my Caleb was more than just amused by this boy’s cute naiveté. Things like “me and Trev” or “you know that cute kid I was telling you about” seemed to become more and more frequently in our messaging and phone conversations. Then one day around the end of November, he stopped answering my emails altogether. And even though I could see that he was online, he rarely got into a conversation with me.

 

It was the day of my last final before Winter Break. I picked up my mail for the last time before heading home. Dad had bought me a round trip fare, I suppose so I wouldn’t spend Christmas with mom – which I wasn’t planning on doing anyway, even though she’d left a voicemail inviting me. The mailroom clerk handed me a padded mailer along with what looked to be a few Christmas cards. I headed for my room, sat at my desk, and tore open the mailer. My heart sank as the ring that I had given to Caleb last spring rolled out onto the desktop. Along with the ring, was a letter.

 

 

 

Dear Alex,

 

 

 

Merry Christmas.  I know that you are planning to fly home for the holidays so I thought I’d better break the news to you before you get here. I don’t think I can break the news gently, so I hope you’re sitting down at the moment.

 

Me and Trevor Collingsworth have been doin stuff together since like before Thanksgiving (screwin and stuff). I honestly don’t know how it happened. I tried so hard to wait for you, but he was here, and I guess I was so used to having someone, that it just happened anyway. I was incredibly lonely without you. I hope you understand that I didn’t mean for it to happen. I feel so terrible doing this to you, knowing what you went through before, but I just couldn’t wait for you anymore.

 

I hope we’ll still be friends and maybe get together sometime. My dad and mom were very disappointed when I told them about deciding to break up with you. My mom has been crying off and on for the past few days since I told her. They really liked you, too.

 

 

 

Love, your friend,

 

Caleb