Alex - Chapter 16 

 

 

 

“So, what do you mean your and Mr. Henderson’s strategy worked for a while?” Phil asked me.

 

“Well, Beth Ann and I were spending a lot of time together, and I guess, even though I still had a tough time believing that we were actually dating, that’s what it was. It seemed like everyone we knew made comments about what a cute couple we were, and so that’s when I started really wondering if maybe God was answering Dottie Henderson’s prayers.

 

“Actually, it was Dalton who kind of convinced me to date Beth Ann. We were just hangin’ out one Sunday afternoon, and he like started to ask me if I still liked guys. He was really kind of down on himself, because he had asked four different girls out since becoming a Christian, and all he ever thought about when he was with them, was how much he wanted to date this really hot guy at school, who he thought might be gay.

 

“He and his dad had a pretty open relationship with each other, and so after he told his dad about his struggle, he decided that if he couldn’t find the right girl to date, he just wouldn’t date anyone. That’s when he started whining to me about, ‘if he just had a friend like Beth Ann, things would be different.’

 

“It was kind of weird, because I just started thinking that maybe I should just go with the flow, and see what happened. I was actually starting to think how cool it would be if we somehow became roommates. I guess that’s when I started thinking about how much she meant to me – and I guess that’s when I actually started wondering what… You know… what it would be like to do it with her. …I mean, with her, being that she was a girl.

 

“Phil? Do you remember that time you tried to tell me about how unstable gay relationships are?”

 

“Don’t remind me. You almost knocked my lights out when I told you that. I was such a jerk.”

 

“No. I mean, I remembered that you told me that if I was looking for someone to settle down with, that I should consider dating a girl.”

 

“I told you that?”

 

“Yeah. And when I started thinking about it, I started wondering if you were right – like maybe I would be happier in the end if I married Beth Ann some day.

 

 

 

 “Alex, you could like go on dates with her, and it wouldn’t even seem like you had to try to be interested in her, ‘cause you’re just are,” Dalton told me one evening when we were alone.

 

“Are what,” I asked him.

 

“You know… you’re just really good friends. You wouldn’t even have to pretend it was a date, because it would just be like two good friends hangin’ out with each other.”

 

“Dalton, that would be like lying.”

 

“No it wouldn’t.”

 

“Yes it would. You can’t just go out, like you’re dating, when only one of you is actually interested in being together in the future.”

 

“Maybe God would change your mind if you started getting to know her better,” he told me.

 

 

 

“Wow. Talk about getting broad-sided. Instead of talking my way out of the corner he was painting me into, I just got lost in what he said. It was like Dalton was telling me something that I couldn’t see for myself.

 

“Later that night, Bill and Dottie had cornered me too. I don’t know if the kid had told them about the conversation we had had earlier, but they started telling me that maybe it was time to tackle another giant in my life, and ask Beth Ann out on an official date.

 

I can still hear Dottie telling me, “You never know what God can do until you try something, Alex. Up until now, you’ve believed that all girls were bad, because of the way your mom treated you. But I can tell you that, thank God, there are very few women on this planet who would try to convince their son to do the things your mom wanted you to do just because they had their heart set on having a girl. Alex, your mom isn’t normal. I don’t mean she’s a bad person. It’s just that she let her imagination get the best of her. And in the process, she hurt you very badly. Maybe part of the healing process for you is to forgive her, and just move on.

 

“I’m making a pan of lasagna for supper on Tuesday, why don’t you see if Beth Ann would come along with you,” she told me. “Then after Youth Group, take her out for a snack.”

 

 

 

“I remember I nearly dropped my cell phone twice as I was dialing Beth Ann’s number that next Monday afternoon. When the call connected, I prayed that she wouldn’t answer, so I could honestly tell Dottie that I had tried. It was a very short prayer, because Beth Ann picked up on the first ring.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Alex!”

 

“H… hi… umm …” I froze.

 

“Alex, is something wrong?”

 

“Ah… no. I mean, ah… well, there’s this dinner… you like lasagna, right?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Well, maybe you should try Mrs. Henderson’s, then.” My words were getting so mixed up.

 

“Okay-y-y-y,” she said rather pensively. “Like, when would I get the chance to do that?”

 

“Maybe tomorrow?”

 

“Alex, are you trying to invite me to the Henderson’s for dinner?”

 

“Umm… yeah, and then like after Youth Group, then…” I couldn’t finish.

 

“After Youth Group, what?” I could almost hear her laughing, as she said it.

 

“After Youth Group, maybe we could stop somewhere and… Study,” I blurted.

 

“You want to stop somewhere to study?” She was so sweet, because she was really trying to help me out. “Alex, why don’t we go to ‘The Scoop’ for ice cream after youth Group? They have wifi, so we could study there.”

 

“Okay,” I meekly agreed.

 

“So, dinner’s at the Henderson’s tomorrow, then?”

 

“Oh… yeah, I guess so.”

 

 

 

That Tuesday afternoon came before I was ready for it, but I stopped by Beth Ann’s dorm, and we walked to the Henderson’s for our first dinner date. By the time we got to our destination, Beth Ann had completely calmed my nerves, and I was actually looking forward to spending the evening with her. I saw Dalton watching every move I made at the dinner table, and whenever no one was looking, he gave me the “thumbs up” signal, and winked at me.

 

We didn’t get back to school until after midnight, and I wondered why I had been so nervous. Maybe Dalton had been right about a date being nothing more than spending time with a good friend.

 

 

 

After that, Tuesday nights became a regular date night for us. I still wasn’t willing to actually call them dates, but we sure had a lot of fun – and we sure were getting to know a lot about each other. I felt like we were somehow destined to be soul mates, and I was actually starting to think that maybe I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my life with her, even if I never managed to be able to have sex with her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was around mid-terms of first semester when I saw my former boyfriend, Eddie Herrera, on campus. The first time I saw him, I thought I was just imagining things. I was on my way to the library to do some research for a project that was due before mid-terms, and this Latino guy, with a tie-dyed tee shirt just like the one’s that Eddie used to wear, came bouncing out of the door – just the way Eddie used to do it. The guy had a goatee, but looked so much like my former lover that I impulsively turned my head and walked in the opposite direction, hoping that if it was him, he wouldn’t see me.

 

The second time I saw him, I wasn’t so lucky. I was in the café eating lunch, and when I looked across the room, he was sitting there staring at me. As soon as he saw that I recognized him, he got this huge grin on his face, and mouthed some words to me, that looked like “I found you.”

 

If he had just smiled at me and come over to talk, I don’t think I would have panicked. But what could he possible mean by telling me that? I didn’t wait to find out. Suddenly feeling wet and clammy all over, I grabbed my sandwich and chocolate milk and stood up so fast my chair went over backwards. My hands full, I looked at the chair for and instant, and then made a hasty exit from the building.

 

All that next week, it seemed like I saw Eddie everywhere I went on campus. Sometimes he was with another guy, and sometimes he was alone, but he always seemed to be aware of me whenever I noticed him.

 

 

 

Mid November, Friday the thirteen to be exact, is when my world came unglued. That’s the day he cornered me in the library.

 

“Hey there lover boy,” he greeted me, as he snuck up behind me. Those were the words he had always used when he wanted to get alone with me, our junior year of high school.

 

Memories of good times flooded my mind.

 

 

 

I was speechless.

 

 

 

He was suave.

 

 

 

I began to sweat profusely.

 

 

 

He touched my shoulders.

 

 

 

I squeaked, “No…”

 

 

 

He told me he still had feelings for me.

 

 

 

I shook my head from side to side.

 

 

 

He backed off.

 

 

 

“It’s okay Alex. I can take a hint,” he lamented, as if it had been me that had broken his heart instead of the other way around. “All I really want to do is apologize to you for being a jerk.”

 

I should have known Eddie well enough to know that his sweet talk was simply a way to open doors for him. Unfortunately, I fell for it.

 

“What?” I asked, unsure that I had heard him correctly.

 

“Look… ése, I was a jerk for always doin’ stuff behind your back. You trusted me not to, and I thought you wouldn’t know. I’d try to do things differently if I could do them over again.”

 

I have no idea what makes a rational mind suddenly short circuit like mine did, but I wondered to myself if maybe Eddie had changed; that maybe he really was looking to get back together with me – I mean, with just me. I knew in that instant that I still had feelings for him – that after four years, he still held a piece of my heart in his hands.

 

I began to wonder what Beth Ann would say when she found out that I was gay. There had been many times over the past few months that, scared of what was happening between us, I had wanted to tell her about that part of me, wanting to see if we could still be friends if she knew that. But each time I had decided to tell her, I chickened out at the last minute, fearing that she would drop me like a hot potato and I’d be left with no one again.

 

 

 

I know I should have gotten up and left at that point, but Eddie was a master at keeping a person engaged in conversation, and before I knew it, he was buying me supper at a quiet diner near campus. A full stomach, and a few brews later, I made one of the worst mistake of my life when I let him sweet talk me into joining him in his room to watch a movie.

 

My mind in turmoil, I was determined not to let anything happen – at least not until I could sort out my feelings and make a decision with a clear head. But just like with Phoenix, it started with Eddie tracing his fingers between mine as we sat next to each other on the sofa. When I moved my hand away he kind of shrugged his shoulders and smiled innocently, then got up to get us each another beer. Along with the beer, he brought with him a bowl of very salty microwave popcorn.

 

The second movie was a romantic comedy. I think he had it all planned out, because the story was hot enough to get my juices flowing; the room hot enough and the popcorn salty enough, to keep me swigging beer all evening. By the end of the movie, when Eddie mentioned to me that he noticed how much I was sweating, and “why don’t you pull off your shirt,” like he had already done, I was putty in his hands.

 

Hesitating briefly, thinking of Beth Ann, I pulled back slightly when he leaned over and kissed me. Eddie’s sweet talk and persistent ways melted what little resolve my thoughts of Beth Ann had stirred up, though. I didn’t even want to resist him when he reached over to undo my jeans. “Just once for old time’s sake,” I reasoned.

 

He laid me gently on the bed and held a vial of poppers to my nose. I inhaled deeply, and just like that, my anxiety over what I was about to do, lifted from my consciousness. I smiled, and leaned in for a kiss as I listened to the headboard of the bed gently tapping the wall in time with his forward thrusts; my mind transported back to high school days when I had believed that Eddie and I would always be together.

 

Eddie’s sudden increase in tempo and the warm blast that filled my insides brought me over the edge. I pulled him down into the puddle on my chest and nuzzled his hair. God, how I missed him. Eddie surprised me when after resting a short while, he rolled onto his back, pulling me with him, and wrapped his legs around my waist, inviting me to enter him. He had only ever done that once in the year that we were together.

 

“Oh, god, ése,” he almost shouted as I released my seed into his bowels, “I’ve missed you so much.” Then he kissed me, his cheeks wet with tears.

 

“Tell me, you’ll take me back, Alex. I’m begging you. Of all the guys I’ve ever had, you’re the only one I’ve truly loved.”

 

 

 

It was well after four in the morning when Eddie finally fell asleep, spooned against my back, still inside of me. Eddie had worked his magic on me again – so much so, that I allowed him to take, what I had hardly ever given to anyone.

 

Sober now, remorse began to tear at my soul. Despite what he had hinted at last evening, I doubted Eddie would ever be satisfied with only one lover. He was the epitome of the guys Phil had tried to tell me about the day before Valentines Day four years ago, as I was agonizing over what gift to give my unfaithful lover. Even back then, I knew that sharing my partner with someone else was not something I would ever be comfortable doing.

 

The horizon was beginning to glow muted shades of orange and red as I gently moved forward to free myself from Eddie. I dressed silently, so afraid that he would be able to sweet talk me out of leaving if he woke. I couldn’t bring myself to even say goodbye to him. As much as desire stabbed at my heart, I quietly let myself out the room. I knew deep down that it would never work – me and Eddie, together. I would forgive him for last night, but I would never allow myself to be drawn back into his complicated web of playing hide and seek with my heart.

 

As I left the room, dread wrapped its cold fingers around my throat and started choking me. Sunday, Bill Henderson would ask me “the question,” just like he had every Sunday for the past three months. I would have to lie to him for the third time in three weeks. My almost hooking up with a guy I met in a chat room two weeks ago had been a random thing – a moment of weakness. Phoenix and Shawn had caught me totally by surprise last weekend, and other than getting drunk and doing a little touching, I was sure that nothing else had happened, even though I remember feeling a little wet at the back door the next day. None-the-less, I hadn’t been able to tell Bill about those failures when he asked if I was avoiding “situations.”

 

I guess that I figured as long as I committed to stop messing up in the future, there was no need to tell him about the past. But this night with Eddie had been far different from that. Surprised at how strong my feelings for Eddie still were – feelings that I thought had passed with time – last night, I had wanted him to make me his. I had almost had sex with Nathan, and in a way, had had sex with Phoenix and Shawn; those were mistakes of my judgment – ones which could be forgiven by God, but I just couldn’t bare my soul to Bill about my feelings for Eddie – I had made love to him, and that, I was sure, would be far different in his eyes.