"Moooommmm," Jacob cried, his head buried in the refrigerator, "Jason ate all my pudding cups again!"
"Oh, you and your pudding cups," his mother said with exasperation, "You and your brother are just going to have to work this out yourself, I'm tired of dealing with it."
"But mom, he only does it cause he knows I love them so much. He probably doesn't even like them that much."
"Don't be silly honey, he's not eating your pudding cups just to be mean."
"Yeah, right," Jacob huffed as he headed off to his room.
"What was that all about?" Doug Downing said as he slipped up behind his wife and kissed her neck.
"Umm...I'll give you an hour to stop that," she said shivering from his touch.
"Let me guess the boys are at it again," he said pulling away.
"It's the same old thing, the war of the pudding cups," she laughed.
"Those two give a whole new meaning to sibling rivalry," he chuckled, "Can't we just buy them each a package and write their names on them?"
"Tried that, doesn't work. I hate to say it, but sometimes I think Jacob is right, that Jason is just eating all the pudding cups for spite."
"Where did we go wrong?" he said as he dug in the fridge for something to drink, then pulling out a bottle of Gatorade he frowned, "Maybe they switched babies on us at that hospital," he teased.
"Huh, fat chance, they both look just like you and your side of the family."
"But they didn't get my sweet nature," he said resuming his nuzzling of his wife's neck.
"Mmmm...if you keep that up I'm going to drag you off to the bedroom and take advantage of that sweet nature," she said shivering.
"Alas, I have to be at Bill's in a half hour. I just came in to get something to drink," he shrugged, "Sorry, can I have a rain check for tonight?"
"You have a standing invitation dear, tell Bill hello for me. You guys have fun."
"Huh, fun. We're working, but I should be home by dinner time.
"Let me know," she said as she walked him to the door and they kissed goodbye.
She closed the door behind her and sighed, "Now I'm left with the two little monsters to deal with on my own."
"You did it on purpose," Jacob yelled at his brother Jason who lay across his bed looking amused.
"Did what fucktard?"
"Ate all the pudding cups....OH...I am so pissed," he said seething, "You do it all the time."
"I was hungry," Jason said smugly, "Besides, who says they were yours?"
"You know I like them. I can't survive without them."
"Bro, you're getting fat anyway. You should thank me for eating them."
"Uggghhh," Jacob moaned angrily, "You are such an asswipe. I hate you. I wish I was an only child," he said stomping off.
Jason stared after him and laughed, "Remember airhead, I was here first."
In his room Jacob fell across his bed and tried to calm down. This wasn't the first time Jason had bogarted all the pudding cups, and he was sure it wouldn't be the last, but it never got any easier to deal with. He blamed his folks for not stepping in and doing something about Jason, but then Jason had always been their favorite. First born and all that crap, but he didn't get it. If only he could find a way to get even, to figure out something that bothered Jason as much as the pudding thing bothered him.
"I know," he said donning an evil face, "I'll start a rumor at school, but what?" he mused.
He thought about that for a few minutes but he really couldn't come up with anything good, well anything that anyone would believe, so he put it on the back burner for now.
"Mom, I'm going to Teddy's house," Jacob said as he passed through the living room where his mom sat watching TV.
"Be back by 5:30. Dinner is at 6 unless your father is going to be late."
"Okay, okay. What we having anyway?"
"Pudding cups," she laughed.
"Verrrry funnny," Jacob said stomping out of the living room and out the front door.
Teddy Roberts had been Jacob's best friend since first grade and lived only a block away in an almost identical two story house with a white picket fence around it. Teddy's dad was an Orthodontist and Jason's doctor, and had given the family a huge discount when Jason got his braces.
"Hey," Jacob said as he approached his best friend who was shooting baskets in the driveway.
"Hey, what's up? I was just gonna' text ya'. Wanna go to the mall with me and Adam tomorrow?"
"Sure, I'll ask the rents tonight, but I think they'll be cool with it. Anything to get away from that dweeb brother of mine," Jacob said stealing the ball away and shooting and missing the basket.
"Uh oh, you two at it again?"
"He ate the last pudding cup on purpose."
Teddy laughed, "You guys....I'm glad Adam and me don't fight that much."
Adam was Teddy's older brother, and even though he was 16 and had his own car, he and Teddy still hung out a lot, and by proxy so did Jacob.
"I wish Adam was my bro," Jacob sighed, "he's cool."
"Yeah, I'm lucky I guess, but Jason doesn't seem all that bad...sometimes?"
"Yeah, well...he lives to make my life miserable."
"And eats all your pudding cups," Teddy laughed, "really dude, there is more to life than pudding cups."
"Shut up," Jacob said, but he was laughing. If anyone could make him feel better it was good old Teddy.
Later in Teddy's room they sat side by side playing a video game and talking.
"I been trying to think of some way to get back at him...something really good. I thought about maybe spreading a rumor at school, but I couldn't think of anything anyone would believe."
"Hmmm...tell everyone he's gay," Teddy blurted out without much thought.
"What, no...dude, that would be too mean. I mean you know how it is for gay kids at school..."
"Just kidding," Teddy said shrugging, "besides who would believe it anyway. Jason is so...so buff and stuff, and the girls are crazy about him."
"Hmmm...it would be wicked," Jacob said looking interested, "but how could I get the rumor started?"
"Dude, you're not serious?" Teddy laughed, "He'd kill you if he found out you started a rumor like that."
"Yeah, you're right," Jacob mumbled, "but I gotta think of something."
At five Jacob said goodbye and walked the short distance to his house. As he pushed open the door he was greeted, not by his mom, but by his brother who tackled him and drug him to the floor.
"Hey dweeb, been at your boyfriend's house?" he said as he put Jacob in a head lock.
"Let me go you asswipe," Jacob grunted as he struggled to get free from his brother who had several inches and a few pounds of muscle on him.
"Awww...didn't you get any? Is that why you're so grumpy?"
"Let me go," Jacob grunted, then mustering all his strength he managed to pull free, and before he could stop himself he pulled back his clinched fist and punched his brother squarely in the nose.
The scream brought their mom running and when she saw the blood streaming down her oldest son's face she almost fainted.
"What happened here?" she said helping Jason up and leading him toward the downstairs bathroom.
"He broke my nose," Jason wailed, "I was just funnin' with him and he hit me mom."
"It was an accident," Jacob said knowing full well he was in big trouble. No way would his mom understand his frustration at being taunted and manhandled by his older brother. No, he was sure he would take the blame even though Jason had started it.
Tagging along behind the two, Jacob watched as his mother wet a washcloth and begin dabbing at his brother's nose.
"I don't think it's broken," she said softly, relief obvious in her voice, "It looks worse than it is. Noses bleed easy and a lot, but you'll live."
"He hit me for no reason," Jason whined.
"Did not, he tackled me when I came in and was choking me, I just pulled away and I accidentally hit him in the nose," Jacob said quickly, "I mean...he started it."
"You boys, you'll be the death of me. Why can't you get along?" she said with exasperation.
"It's him, he's evil," Jason sneered.
"Me?" Jacob said indignantly, "You're the evil one and you're always doing stuff to get me in trouble."
"Boys! Stop..now! I have heard enough. If you boys don't stop this bickering and back biting I am going to have to take drastic measures. Your father and I are fed up with all this sibling rivalry crap. Work it out or your father and I will."
Jacob went off to his room once he was satisfied Jason wouldn't die. After all he was his brother, and even though he didn't like him, he guessed he loved him, just cause he was family.
On his way to his own room Jason sneered as he passed by Jacob's open door.
"Pay back is hell little brother. When you least expect it, expect it," he laughed evilly.
"That's it, I'm doin' it," Jacob said to himself with an evil smile, "Just you wait bro. Pretty soon you are going to be too busy defending your rep to worry about me or my pudding cups."
At school on Monday Jacob sat eating his lunch as Teddy watched him with interest.
"What you thinking bout'?" Teddy said popping a chicken nugget in his mouth.
"Huh? Oh...I'm making my plans for ruining my brother."
"You're not still thinking about that are you?"
"Yeah, after what he did to me Saturday he deserves whatever he gets. Only question is: how to get the rumor started?" Jacob had told Teddy all about the bloody nose incident and he had found it amusing, but typical of the kind of things Jacob and Jason got into.
"What rumor? Not the gay thing? I was only kidding."
"It's perfect though. It's the kind of rumor that's hard to kill. I mean kids love juicy stuff like that, and my fucktard of a brother will be too busy defending himself to worry about me."
"Unless he finds out you're the one who started the rumor, then you're dead. I don't even think your rents could protect you if he found out."
"That's the hard part. How to get the rumor started without him finding out it was me."
"You could write an anonymous love letter to him and sign it from...your secret lover or something," Teddy laughed, "then leave it laying around or something."
"But they'd just think it was from a girl..."
"Not if you gave some hot details...that could only mean it was another boy."
"Like what?" Jacob asked looking interested.
"Oh, you know," Teddy blushed, "like maybe the note could say that they sucked each other off or something."
Jacob frowned, "That doesn't sound like a love note."
"Okay, so maybe I don't know how to write it, but there must be a way."
"Hmmm...maybe. I am a pretty good writer," he said grinning.
At home that evening Jacob thought about what he was about to do. Could he really go through with this? Were his problems with his brother so bad that he could stoop so low as to ruin his reputation and cause him a world of pain and hurt.
He thought about all the times his brother had screwed him over and made his life miserable, but most of all he thought about the pudding cups. He knew it was petty and mean, but in the end he decided he could be just as petty and mean as Jason, and he began to put his plan into place.
First he would need a love note. Something not too sappy, but revealing. Something that would spell out the unique things two boys could do. Fortunately Jacob knew a little bit about those things, because he and Teddy had done some experimenting over the years. Oh, he didn't consider himself gay, just curious, but he had to admit it was fun stuff with your best pal, and in some ways it had caused them to grow closer.
I know we just saw each other last night, but I just had to write you and tell you how much fun I had. I mean you are so fucking hot dude and I wish I had your bod and well...I wish my junk was as big as yours. Yeah, I said it...lol. I know, I know, you said my junk is great, but I wouldn't mind having an inch or two more, especially when we're...you know...packing fudge.
"No, no..stupid. No one would say packing fudge," Jacob muttered as he quickly deleted that part.
especially when we're making love. I love the way you feel inside me and I feel like I'm not big enough to give you that same feeling. But when we're like blowing each other, that's the best feeling ever. Your d... feels so good in my mouth and I love how your cum tastes. I know you said it doesn't make any difference that I can't cum yet, but I will be glad when I can finally give you something to taste...lol.
Anyway, what I really like is the kissing and the hand holding. Who knew that kissing another boy could be so much fun. I don't know if you feel the same way I do Jas, but I think I am falling in love with you and I hope you feel the same way too.
I know we talked about the gay thing and you said you weren't quite sure yet, but I think we both know that we are gay, and even though we can't tell anyone, we can still be together whenever we can.
Please call me tonight or text me. I can't wait to talk to you again and maybe we can even send some hot pics to each other.
I gotta go now, but I just had to write this cause I'm missing you so much. Stay cool dude, and oh yeah, I love you.
<3 <3 your bf (I hope)
"Yeah, perfect," Jacob said, pleased with himself, especially the last part, "Zack, what a perfect name for a secret lover," he chuckled.
"Now, how do I make sure the right people see this..."
"You did what?" Teddy asked as Jacob pulled out the envelope in which he had placed his incriminating love note.
"Read it, it's brilliant. I should be a writer," Jacob chuckled.
Teddy took his time reading the letter, his face blushing red at times, and when he was finished he looked up a Jacob and frowned, "Who's Zack?"
"Aww...the mystery boy. See I made it that he was younger so that will make it harder for anyone to figure out who this mystery guy is."
"I don't know anyone named Zack, so I guess that's safe."
"Yeah, now all I got to do is figure out how to get this note to the right place at the right time."
"What if...you pretended you found it on the floor and handed to...say one of the football jocks and say something like...I think you dropped this, probably from your girlfriend, or something?"
"Hey, that's a great idea, but I can't be the one who hands it to someone. That would incriminate me. No, it's got to be someone else. Hey, what about you?"
"What? No way. I wanna live to be 14. Jason would kill me. Besides I sort of like him, and I hate to see him get ruined like this."
"He brought this on himself, don't pity him, pity me."
After lunch Jacob thought again about how to get the note into the right hands, but he was no closer to an answer than he had been earlier. The letter seemed to weigh a ton, just sitting there in his backpack, and he was tempted to destroy it and forget the whole thing.
He was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't notice that the envelope was hanging out of his backpack, and as he walked down the hallway it eventually fell out.
He was at his locker before he realized his backpack was unzipped, and it didn't take him long to discover that the envelope and the love note were missing.
"Damn, where could it be?" he mused as he backtracked in search of it.
Then up ahead he saw it. It was laying in front of the water fountain outside the Biology lab and no one seemed to notice it. If he hurried he could scoop it up and no one would be the wiser.
Then suddenly, when he was almost within reach of it, something big blocked out the light and he looked up to see Moses Trainer bending down to pick up the envelope.
Jacob screeched to a halt. He couldn't very well sashay up and explain that the letter was his and it was meant to ruin his brother. No, he couldn't be associated with this little bit of fiction or his life was over.
Then the thought occurred to him that maybe this was the break he had been waiting for. Moses Trainer was a Freshman, and quarterback on the football team. He was 6 feet of hulking black beef and rumor was he went through girls like dirty laundry. If anyone would be offended by such a letter and be glad to ruin the intended recipient, Moses was the man.
A little part of Jacob felt remorse, but that devilish part of him that often took over in times like this quickly squashed that sentiment.
It took two hours for the news of the finding of the note to spread through the three grades that roamed the halls of Mitchell Middle school, but as of yet no one had named Jacob's brother as the intended recipient of the note.
After all there were any number of boys with the name Jason, but it was only a matter of time before someone noticed what Jacob had written on the envelope.
JD was Jason's nickname, a combination of his first and last name, and though only a few of his closer friends called him that, the nick was no secret.
At home that afternoon Jacob nervously awaited his brother's return from school, but by 4:30 he still hadn't shown up. His parents were at work and he was alone, nervously pacing the floor of his room waiting for the whole thing to blow up in his face.
When he finally heard the front door open, then slam shut, he froze expecting the worse, but when at last Jason came into view he was smiling.
"Hey butt munch, what are you doing? Afraid I'm gonna pound you for hitting me in the nose?"
"Nooo," Jacob said frowning, "Just hanging out in my room, is that okay with you?" he smirked.
Jason laughed, "Lucky mom will be home soon or I might pound you a little. Anyway I'm too tired from making out with Sherry Anders. Man, that girl is hot."
"Liar," Jacob said before he could stop himself, "Sherry Anders wouldn't be caught dead with you."
"Whatever dude," Jason said, but the hurt look on his face and the tone of his voice said that Jacob had struck a nerve.
Jacob actually felt a little bad then, and then he remembered the note and he felt even worse. Sure he hated his brother most of the time, but what he had done could ruin his life forever and he was having major regrets.
"Oh well," he sighed, "too late now." Maybe no one will figure out who it was supposed to be about, he reasoned, but he didn't have much hope of that.
Dinner that night was the same as always, his folks bubbling over and trying to pull the boys into the conversation, and the boys giving nods and an occasional yeah, or okay.
Their parents were relieved that they weren't fighting or picking at one another, but they figured that wouldn't last long. The cease fires lately had become few and far between. They were at wits ends, but so far hadn't figured out how to make the boys see how wrong their behavior was.
After dinner Jacob retired to his room and texted Teddy.
Teddy: Hey, how's Jas taking it?
Jacob: So far nothing is happening. It's like no one cares or are too dumb to figure out who it is.
Teddy: You better hope no one does.
Jacob: Yeah, I kinda do
Teddy: I told you it was a bad idea
Jacob: You suggested it
Teddy: I was kidding
Jacob: Well too late now
They chatted for another twenty minutes, but once they'd exhausted the subject of the note, and Jason, there wasn't much more to talk about.
At school the next day, things had changed. He knew something was up right away because as soon as he walked into the hallway kids started staring and whispering to one another.
At first he thought maybe his fly was open or something, but then it dawned on him what was happening.
Oh shit, they figured it out, he thought, turning beet red. He hadn't given any thought to the repercussions associated with having a gay brother, even if it was all a lie.
"Hey Jake, I heard your bro is a fudge packer, that right?"
"What?" Jacob said pretending he didn't know what the kid was talking about.
"Someone found a note some boy named Zack wrote to your bro and it was disgusting. He was like all, I love you and it feels so good when you fuck me and stuff."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Jacob lied, "Anyway, how do you know it was my brother's note?"
"Cause it was addressed to JD, and everyone knows that's Jake's nickname."
"So, it could be a fake," Jacob offered, trying to dig his way out of the hole he'd dug.
"Naw, I knew it all along. That's why he's always hanging out with all those girls. I hear fags like to hang out with girls cause they can discuss stuff like shopping and how hot guys are," the boy laughed, "Anyway, just thought you'd like to know on account he might wanna get with you too," he laughed.
"Shut up!" Jacob said angrily, but the kid was already walking away, ready to spread more cheer and rumors along the way.
"Holy shit Jake, everyone is talking about your brother and that note," Teddy whispered once they were alone at the lunch table.
"Duh, you think? I never really thought this through. I'm getting as much grief as he his I bet. Guys I don't even know are saying stupid shit to me and one of em' called me gay too."
"You think it's bad now, just wait till you get home. I wouldn't want to be in the same house with him, after today."
Jacob groaned, "I wanted to ruin his life and I ruined my own. Why did you let me go through with your dumb idea?" Jacob said looking for someone other than himself to blame.
"Dude, I was joking when I suggested the note and all. You're the one who wrote the note and set the whole thing up."
"I didn't know I was going to lose the damn note. I was ready to tear it up and forget it and then I lost it..."
"Well, there's nothing you can do about it now except live with it and hope it all blows over. There's only a few weeks of school left and then they'll have all summer to forget about it."
"Dude, I feel really bad. I mean I hate Jas most of the time, but I..." Jacob looked away, unable to go on and Teddy understood and didn't press him.
They'd been buds long enough to know each other well enough to know when to shut up and when to speak. Instead Teddy reached across and patted Jacob's hand and gave him a reassuring smile.
"You two gay too?" A deep voice barked from behind Teddy, "damn, must be contagious. First JD, now his little bro and his best bud. Shoulda' known though, you two are tighter than most buds are, so maybe you was gay first."
"Shut up Riley," Teddy said standing quickly and causing his chair to hit the floor with a loud bang.
Kids nearby looked over to see what the commotion was, but the lunch monitor, Mr. Aster had stepped out for a moment and hadn't witnessed it.
"Or what? You'll hit me with your purse?" Ken Riley laughed.
Jacob jumped up then and in the process let his chair hit Riley squarely in the groin causing him to cry out in pain.
"You asswipe, you racked me. You are so dead," he moaned through gritted teeth.
"Boys! Is there a problem?" Mr. Aster said as he approached, having returned to the cafeteria.
"No sir," Teddy said calming down, "we were just making sure Riley was okay, I think he hurt himself."
"That true Mr. Riley, would you like to visit the nurse's office?"
Jacob and Teddy managed to hide their laughter as Riley danced around before he finally convinced Mr. Aster he was all right.
"If this has anything to do with your brother being outed..." Mr. Aster said as soon as Riley was gone, "please don't try to handle it on your own. The faculty has your back on this one. We have a zero tolerance for bullying, especially when it comes to a student's sexuality."
Jacob groaned and Teddy felt the need to answer for his friend, "We're fine sir. Just a misunderstanding, but thank you for reminding us."
"Okay, but never the less, I'll keep an eye out for any trouble."
"Thank you sir," Jacob finally managed to say.
When Mr. Aster was gone Jacob groaned again and laid his head on the lunch table. Teddy watched him with concern but didn't make the mistake of trying to comfort him again. After a while Jacob said he was finished with his lunch and he gathered up his lunch sack and Teddy followed him back to the locker area.
"Hey Jacob," Roger White said practically running up to them.
Roger was Jason's best friend and like Jacob and Teddy, the two had known each other since grade school.
"Uh, hey....whats up?" Jacob said fearing the worst.
"Have you seen Jas? I'm worried about him. This gay rumor thing has got to be bad for him, but all his buds have his back, and no one is gonna make a big deal out of it if we can help it."
"I haven't seen him all day Roger. He was gone before I got up this morning. Uh, if you see him will you tell him..um, well...that I got his back too," Jacob said near tears.
"Oh hey buddy, I will. He's your bro and he'd do the same thing for you. Well, gotta split, laterz guys."
"Well, at least Roger doesn't believe it, so I'm sure there are others that don't believe it either. Probably the guys who know him best. Most of the shit will come from kids who don't know him, and are just looking for some juicy gossip."
"Yeah, I hope so. Damn, why did I have to be so stupid? All for a couple of pudding cups."
"Bro, we all screw up once in a while. So you screwed up royally this time, but you'll get through this and you'll be a better man."
"I don't feel much like a man right now," Jacob said shutting his locker door, "I just want this day to be over."
There were a few whispered comments and some pointed stares, but nothing major the rest of the afternoon, but by the time the last bell rang Jacob was ready to flee.
On the bus ride home he sat alone, but he didn't mind. Usually one or two other boys would sit with, or near him, but today everyone seemed to be avoiding him like he had the plague. He sighed when he thought about what he had done. In the process of destroying his brother he had destroyed himself.
Usually Teddy would have been there with him since they lived in the same neighborhood, but today his mom had picked him up early for a doctor's appointment and Jacob was left to face the cruel stares of his fellow travelers alone.
"Hey Jake," a kid Jacob barely knew from Math class said as he sat across the aisle from him.
"Yeah, surprised you know my name. Just wanted to tell you that not everyone is freaked out by this thing with your brother, and we sure don't blame you," he said giving a couple of kids an icy stare as they watched the two talking.
"Thanks, but it's not true. My...my bro isn't gay," Jacob said suddenly feeling the need to confide in someone.
"Either way dude, it's no one's business and it sure shouldn't affect how the other kids treat you."
"Thanks," Jacob said looking the boy over for the first time. He was slender, not skinny, with what Jacob thought of as a swimmer's body, and he seemed to recall that the kid was into gymnastics or something like that. He was blond and blue eyed, your typical surfer looking type, but with an ocean a thousand miles away he supposed the kid had to find other pursuits.
He was cute, without being overly so. No, make that handsome, Jacob thought. Girls and little kids are cute, boys their age were handsome, or ugly...he laughed to himself. He had a nice smile, Jacob noticed, and his teeth were perfect without the aid of braces and his lips, well...if he was a girl he would have thought he had very kissable lips, but that was silly, boys didn't think of another boy's lips as kissable. Well, not unless you were gay, which Jacob certainly wasn't.
"So, if you need any, um...you know? Support, me and a bunch of the other boys who are...um, well you know..." Kris stammered, "even if your bro isn't one of us, we um...we still got your back."
"What are you saying?" Jacob asked, his hackles rising, "Are you...uh, you know...?"
"Gay, yeah. I thought everyone knew. My boyfriend is Kenny Anderson, he's in your PE class. He says you're a nice kid."
"Kenny is gay?" Jacob said wide-eyed. How many times had he showered with Kenny, and how many times had Kenny been ogling his body? He wondered, not that it mattered much, since he sort of checked out the other guys himself. Just to compare you know, not because he was gay or anything.
"Yeah, but don't freak out, okay? He's mine and he's not interested in other boys," Kris chuckled.
"Man, I would have never known. He's so...so buff and he seems so..so.."
"Straight? Well, not all gay boys are flamers you know. We don't all go around singing show tunes and flexing our wrists, or wishing we could wear makeup and dresses," he teased.
Jacob blushed, "I know that. I mean as far as I can tell gay boys are just like us...um, straight boys. They like video games, and sports, and hanging out."
"Yeah, and most guys our age are hanging out with other boys anyway. You and Teddy for example. For a while I thought maybe you two were, you know, boyfriends, but someone set me straight."
"We've known each other forever," Jacob said quickly, but he really didn't feel the need to defend himself or Teddy, most everyone knew they were tight and always had been, "I actually feel closer to him than I do my own bro."
"Yeah, I gotta a bro myself, and he's not really cool with having a gay brother. He doesn't say much about it, but I can tell he's not happy about how it makes him look."
"Sorry about that. You seem like an okay guy. Thanks for talking to me, but this is my stop," Jacob said gathering up his things.
"Mine too," Kris laughed, "I live right behind you on Lakeshore Drive. I can see your backyard from my bedroom window."
"How did I not know this?" Jacob laughed, "I guess I suck at being a private eye," he laughed.
"No probs. Sometimes people only notice what's in their own little world. You got Teddy, and your family, and you probably just never looked around at what's near by."
As they walked down the sidewalk Jacob nodded, "Sorry, we could have been friends if I'd have noticed."
"Not too late," Kris said grinning, "If the gay thing doesn't bother you."
"No, course not. As long as you don't go hittin' on me," he added grinning.
"You are pretty cute, but I have a boyfriend and he's as hot as the 4th of July."
"TMI," Jacob warned, but he was still grinning.
"Sorry, but one thing you should know, just because I'm gay I don't go around checking every boy out. I'm loyal to my boyfriend and he's all I need. A lot of us gay boys are like that. Of course there are some who just want sex, lots of sex, and they don't want a steady or anything."
"Where are all these boys?" Jacob teased, "Sometimes a guy needs some relief."
Kris looked at Jacob with a "deer-in-the-headlights" look then when he saw a smile crack his face he cuffed him gently, "You got me, for a minute I thought you were serious. Besides I bet you could have any girl you went after, you're a good looking guy."
"Thanks, so are you...not that I'm interested that way..."
"Relax," Kris said smiling, "I'm not gonna read something into everything you say. I know this is uncomfortable for you, but really...I'm just a normal red-blooded kid who happens to like boys. Otherwise I'm just the same as you."
"I know, that's what I said earlier. It just takes some getting used to."
"So, what's this stuff with your bro? Is he or isn't he?"
"He's most definitely not. I can't tell you how I know, except the note was a total lie and all made up to ruin his rep."
"Hmmm...someone must really hate him to lay that trip on him."
"Yeah," Jacob said miserably.
"Dude, it was you, wasn't it?"
"What? No, no way...well...yeah," Jacob confessed, ready to lay down and bawl at any moment.
"Sorry man, but I kind of got that feeling earlier, on the bus. Wow, you must have really had some good reasons, cause I don't think you're the kind of boy to hurt other people without a good reason."
Jacob suddenly found himself spilling his guts to this almost total stranger, and as the words came out of his mouth he began to realize just how petty and stupid it all sounded.
"So, he ate your pudding cups so you ruined his rep?" Kris said sounding hostile for the first time, "Dude, that is sooo messed up."
"I know, I know, and I feel awful and if you don't want to hang around with a loser like me I get it."
"No, I didn't say that. You need all the friends you can get right now. I assume Teddy knows."
"Yeah," Jacob said softly, nodding his head sadly. He didn't mention that Teddy had playfully suggested the whole gay thing, because he knew that in the end he had made the decision to use it and there was no one else to blame.
"He's a good friend, right? He...uh didn't dump you cause of this?"
"What, no...he had a doctor's appointment and his mom picked him up early, that's why he's not around."
"Good, well...here we are," Kris said as they reached Jacob's driveway.
"Uh, want to come in for a little while? We can get a snack and talk some more...if you're not in a hurry."
"Kenny is at baseball practice, so yeah...I got an hour or so to kill. Uh, just wondering, will your bro be home?"
"Not for a while, he usually doesn't get home before 5. I guess he has a lot of stuff to do. We never really talk about that kind of stuff," Jacob said realizing he knew so little about his brother's comings and goings.
"Well, I'll protect you if he goes postal on you," Kris teased.
Jacob groaned, "Why did you have to remind me of that?"
"Sorry, maybe it's not as bad as you think. Maybe it'll all blow over in a day or two."
"That's what Teddy says, or at least over the summer."
"Yeah, you know it's not really a big deal to be gay and out in our school. No one really gives me any trouble, but then with Kenny as a bf, they don't dare," he laughed, "He's so strong and fierce."
"Fierce huh?" Jacob laughed, I thought that meant something else, something gay."
"Oh, it can. It just means we're proud of who we are and no one can keep us down."
"Mom, I'm home and I brought someone," Jacob announced as he came in through the front door.
"Oh, hi honey, hello. Does this someone have a name?" she teased.
"Yes ma'am, I'm Kris Jenkins. We live right behind you in the white house with the gazebo out back."
"I know your parents," Mrs. Downing said, "I knew they had a son, but I didn't know you were Jacob's age. Strange how we overlook little things sometimes."
"Tell me about it," Jacob said leading Kris into the kitchen. All this time I've had a potential friend living right behind me and didn't even know it, plus we know some of the same kids."
"Well, you and Teddy don't seem to make room for anyone else in your little world," she chuckled, "Sometimes I think Teddy is really your brother and Jason is someone else's son."
Jacob started to say he wished that were true, but in light of things he thought better of it. He'd already inflicted enough pain on his brother without talking behind his back.
"There's fruit and left over pie in the fridge," Mrs. Downing said, "And please remember to bring down your dirty dishes if you go to your room."
"Yes mom," Jacob sighed as he pulled the pie out of the fridge, "Hey Kris, you like Lemon Meringue?"
"Love it, it's Kenny's favorite too," he said casually, "Oh, Kenny is my boyfriend in case you're wondering ma'am."
It took Jacob's mom a minute to digest that information, but she was a progressive mom and a believer in equal rights for all, and that bit of news didn't really phase her.
"Do I know him?" she asked pleasantly.
"Kenny Anderson mom, the star baseball player, star football player, star soccer player," Jacob laughed.
"Oh, I know his parents and your father says he's the best athlete our school has ever had."
"He's my hero," Kris said grinning.
"So, are you boys out at school? Mrs. Downing asked letting her inquisitive nature free.
"Mom! Don't you think that's a little too much?"
"It's all right Jake, yes ma'am, we're out at school and to our parents and so far...so good."
"That's wonderful, I mean that kids these days can express their feelings and be who they are without others judging them."
"Thank you ma'am. Jacob is very lucky to have a mom like you."
"Why thank you," Mrs. Downing said preening, "your mother is a wonderful person as well. I'm surprised she never mentioned that she had a gay son though."
"It's not something that everyone needs to know, but I'm sure if you asked her about it she would be happy to discuss the drama that my coming out caused," he laughed, "It's still one of her favorite stories to tell."
Mrs. Downing made a mental note to do just that, but she felt as if she had interrogated the boy enough.
"We're going to my room," Jacob said loading himself and Kris up with pie, a banana, and a bottle of juice."
"All right. Kris it was nice meeting you, please feel welcome to visit us again."
"Thank you ma'am, I guess that's up to Jacob whether he wants to hang out with a gay boy," he teased causing Jacob to blush, "but I told him he had nothing to worry about, that I was faithful to Kenny."
"Dude, you're embarrassing me, come on let's go to my room."
"Goodbye ma'am. Nice to meet you. I hope to see you again."
"You too Kris, and don't let Jacob fool you, he's a nice boy and a good friend, and we've taught him not to discriminate against anyone."
"Mom, Kris can figure me out without your help."
"Sorry son, have fun and enjoy your visit. Dinner is at 6."
"Your mom seems nice," Kris said sitting on Jacob's bed and digging into his pie, "Mmmm and she's a good cook."
"Yeah, she's the best, but sometimes she doesn't know when to shut up."
"Awww...I thought it was cute the way she tried to make me feel welcome as a gay boy. Maybe she laid it on a little thick, but her intentions were good."
"What she said is true though, I don't discriminate against anyone. That's one thing I really respect about my folks, they are very open-minded and fair."
"Yeah, that's what my mom says about your mom."
"So you knew my mom and your mom were friends and you never once tried to talk to me or anything. I think I'm a little hurt," Jacob teased.
"I know, I know...but like I said I thought you and Teddy were a couple and I didn't want to bother you. When we were younger though, like 11, I used to sit out back in my yard and sometimes I'd see you and Teddy kicking the ball around or something and I was sort of jealous. That was before I met Kenny though. I didn't really have many friends back then cause I was just starting to figure out I was gay and it was sort of hard to deal with."
"I feel crappy for not noticing you," Jacob said softly, "I guess mom is right, Teddy and I don't let too many people into our world, but that's all changed now. I was thinking, if you want to sit with us at lunch that would be cool."
"Okay, as long as Kenny can come too."
"Oh yeah, absolutely, Kenny is a cool guy, and in case Jason comes gunning for me it would be good to have him on my side," he chuckled.
"Speaking of your brother, do you really think he'd get violent if he knew you were the one who...you know, set him up?"
"I wouldn't put anything past him, he's inflicted his share of pain on me over the years."
"Too bad you guys don't get along, but then I have bro problems of my own," he said sighing.
Around 4:30 Kris said he needed to get home and Jacob offered to walk him home.
"I can just jump over the back fence if it's okay," Kris said grinning.
"Oh, okay. Mom, Kris is going now. He's gonna climb over the back fence, okay?"
"Don't hurt yourself," Mrs. Downing said assuming full-on mother mode.
"I won't ma'am. It was nice to meet you."
"You too Kris, I'm sure we'll be seeing more of you."
"Well, dude, thanks for having me over. It was fun, and good luck with your bro." Kris said at the fence.
"Don't rack yourself," Jacob teased, "Kenny might not like that."
"Don't worry, I know how to protect the boys," Kris laughed as he grabbed the top rail and catapulted himself over the fence in a most spectacular display of gymnastic ability.
"Wow, that was awesome dude. How did you do that?"
"Four years of martial arts and gymnastics," Kris said grinning.
"Wow, way cool. Well, next time you come over maybe you can show me that trick again."
"No problem, see you dude, thanks for the pie and stuff."
"Welcome, remember, tomorrow come sit with us, okay?"
"Yeah, will do. Laterz dude," Kris said finally walking away.
Jacob watched him walk away, and at the back patio door Kris turned and waved before disappearing inside. Jacob stood there for a long time thinking about how weird it was that he should meet Kris at such a crucial time in his life.
How had he not noticed someone as cute, uh handsome, as Kris living right behind him? He felt stupid, but he knew that what his mom had said was true. He and Teddy were so tight that they seldom let anyone into their little circle. What did that say about his and Teddy's relationship? Sure they were both straight, right, but then why did they hang out so much and not make other friends?
His cell phone alerted him to a text message and he pulled it out of his pocket and swiped the screen to unlock it. It was from Teddy.
Teddy: Dude, you okay Jason hasn't killed you yet...lol
Jacob: Funny, very funny they give you gas or something
Teddy: I wish just got my oil changed and a lube job...lol
Teddy: seriously he home yet
Jacob: not yet, anytime now. if I'm not at school tomorrow will you come to the funeral...lol
Teddy: will there be lunch served
Jacob: dude, you're always hungry
Teddy: speaking of food, gotta go pizza is here laterz dude
Jacob: later enjoy
By the time he got inside his mother's mood had changed drastically and he thought he knew why.
"Jake, do you know what's up with your brother? He came in, slammed the door, and stomped to his room without even bothering to stop for a snack. That's not like him, food is usually the first thing on his mind when he gets home."
"Uh, no...I haven't seen him since last night."
"Well, you might want to avoid him till he gets over his snit," she laughed, "I'm sure he'll come down when he gets hungry enough."
"Uh, I'm gonna go to my room now and do my homework. Call me when dinner's ready."
Jacob slowly walked to his room, terrified that at any moment his brother would appear to pummel him into a pile of quivering jelly. It was an irrational fear, after all there was no way Jason could have known it was him behind the note.
He was finally able to relax once he had his door safely closed behind him, and as an afterthought he latched it just in case. He soon immersed himself in his homework and tried to forget about his brother, but that nagging feeling that he had ruined his brother's life forever would not go away.
Around 6 he heard his father come in and a few minutes later a rap on his door caused him to jump.
"Son, dinner," his dad said, and Jacob relaxed some.
Then he heard his father move on down the hall and knock on his brother's door as he repeated his announcement.
Jacob held his breath expecting Jason to erupt at any second, but instead he heard him open his door and greet his dad almost cheerfully.
Opening his door just a crack he waited till the two had passed before following behind them into the dining room. Jason slipped into his spot at the far side of the table and Jacob sat down across from him, still expecting trouble at any moment.
"What's for dinner mom?" Jason said sounding anything but upset.
"Mac and cheese casserole, salad, and Crescent rolls. For dessert there's ice cream."
"Sounds good. I'm starved."
"Well, you missed your after school snack, so I supposed you would be," she said fishing a bit.
"I wasn't hungry then," Jason said lowering his head.
"Your brother made a new friend today," their mom said as she finally sat down to enjoy dinner with her family.
Jason merely grunted as he continued to shovel food into his mouth, but his mother was committed to sharing every detail of Kris' visit.
"He's such a sweet boy and has a boyfriend," she said as Jacob froze and Jason choked on his mac and cheese.
Grabbing his glass of iced tea, Jason managed to wash down his food and regain his composure.
"You probably know his boyfriend, it's that boy Kenny Anderson, the one who's so good at sports," she said almost proudly, as if Kenny were her son.
"Kenny Anderson is gay?" her husband said looking surprised, "he's the best athlete our school has had in years."
"Just cause he's gay doesn't mean he can't be athletic," this from Jason, causing Jacob's mouth to fall open with surprise.
"I know son, I'm not a homophobe or anything like that. I'm just surprised, that's all."
"I'm full," Jason suddenly said, "can I be excused?" he said lowering his head once more.
"Are you all right?" his mother asked with concern, "you've barely touched your dinner."
"I'm fine ma, just tired and I have a lot of homework."
"All right, but if you get hungry later let me know and I'll fix you something," she said giving him her best motherly smile.
"Thanks, night everyone," he said standing up, and suddenly his eyes met Jacob's for just an instant. Then looking away, he practically ran from the room causing a knot to form in Jacob's stomach.
The look of pain and despair in his brother's eyes was almost too much to bear, and to know that he had caused it was devastating. He knew what he had to do and he just hoped he would live to tell about it once he'd done it.
"I'm done too," he announced suddenly, "can I be excused?"
"Was there something wrong with the casserole?" his mother sighed, "you boys barely ate a few bites."
"No ma'am, I guess I'm just tired too. The casserole was good, real good."
"All right, put your plate in the sink and grab your brother's too please."
Once that was done Jacob steeled himself for what he was about to do. It might be the end, but death was better than the feeling he had at the moment. He had never felt so low or so disgusting as he did at that moment, and he had realized something else too, that he didn't hate his brother after all. No, in fact he had discovered that despite their problems he really loved his brother, and cared about him, and he just couldn't let him go on hurting like he was.