I couldn’t believe it. How in the world did he get here? Upon hearing my surprised gasp, my father stood up from where he was seated on the couch. I glanced quickly at the Kinneys, who seemed to be unaware of the magnitude of this moment. The last time I had seen my father he had shot me and then put the gun to his head. I was convinced he was dead, that he had blown his brains out all over our lovely tiled floor. But here he was all the same. He looked worse than I remembered him. Instead of the clean-shaven countenance I remembered seeing every day at the kitchen table, his face was covered in a scraggly beard, more gray than brown. His jeans were filthy and had several tears. Though it had only been a short period of time since I had seen him last, he seemed to have aged years. My mind absorbed all of this and tried to process it. Unfortunately, my mind had stepped out to have lunch with my heart somewhere in the vicinity of my throat.
We stood there staring at each other for almost a full minute. Striker entered the room, but quickly realized that now was not the time for puppy exuberance. I could tell my father was trying to think of something to say, but the only thing I wanted to hear was “goodbye.”
“Well, I was just telling the Kinneys here that I’m thankful they took care of you this week,” he began, gesturing behind him to them as he spoke. “My son doesn’t deser-”
He must not have revealed exactly who he was yet to the Kinneys as they both shot out of their seats when he mentioned his relationship to me. Mrs. Kinney gasped loudly and, seeming to have rethought her sudden movement, sat back down heavily, a hand clasped over her mouth. Mr. Kinney remained standing, and I saw something flash behind his eyes that seemed very out of place. Was that fear? My eyes snapped back to my father, who had turned to look at the sudden noise behind him. I heard a car roar past out on the street. I had left the door open behind me after I had walked into the foyer. He looked as if he was about to pick up where he had been interrupted, but I beat him to it.
“Your son?” I spat the words as if they were an abomination to my tongue. “You may have taken part in my creation, but you sure as hell aren’t my father.” I tried my best to keep my voice calm during all of this. I could still feel the slight dull pain in my chest from the wound. He had already proven once that he was capable of attempted murder. I didn’t want to give him the opportunity to show he could pull it off.
“Oh, so now you’ve got some balls, you little pussy faggot? You should be thanking me.” In the background, I could see the Kinneys were holding hands tightly, watching this unfold. I caught Mr. Kinney’s eye and tried my best to impart how sorry I was that I had brought this into their house. I wasn’t sure he understood what I was trying to tell him, but it was something that would have to wait.
“Thanking you?! For what? Almost killing me?”
“For making you into more of a man than you’ve been your entire life. Always whining and pussyfooting around. At least now you seem to be able to hold your own.” I couldn’t believe that he actually thought he deserved credit for…anything.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. I thought you were dead, and I was actually happy thinking that. Why couldn’t you have just pulled the trigger?” I knew I was treading on dangerous ground here, but I couldn’t stop myself. I had been trying not to think about what had happened to me, but now that I was forced to look it right in the eye, I didn’t have a choice.
“I think you should be leaving.” Both of us turned to look at Mr. Kinney, who was standing about 5 feet behind my father.
“I’m not going anywhere without my son. And mind your own business.” He seemed to think that was enough. My father turned and started walking towards me. For a brief second, I almost panicked, but for some reason I just happened to look towards Mr. Kinney. The look of fierce determination in his eyes steeled me against the rising fear. When my father got close enough, he reached out a hand as if to guide me towards the door and away with him. I barked out a laugh, and he paused briefly. I have no idea what came over me, but in that moment a single thought reverberated around my brain. I did then something I was going to regret for a while. As my right fist connected with, and broke, the nose on Thomas Oswald’s face, I was not thinking that this was probably a big mistake. Blood spurted down his face. Pain shot through my chest and right arm. I wasn’t going to show this of course. A look of absolute disbelief crossed his face.
“You…you punched me?” The disbelief turned to anger. He reached back his arm as if he was about to hit me back, but Mr. Kinney grabbed it.
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t bleed all over my floor, Mr. Oswald.” Twisting the arm, he guided my father towards the door and pushed him out onto the stoop. I guess he had had enough, because my father started to walk towards the car at the end of the driveway. I moved up next to Mr. Kinney, who put an arm around me and the two of us watched my father stumble towards his car. I desperately wanted to believe that this was the end, but my mind just couldn’t accept it. He had already come back once after I thought he was dead. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be the last time I saw Thomas Oswald.
We watched him get into the brown sedan and drive away holding his nose. As soon as he was out of sight I turned to Mr. Kinney, who was looking at me with great concern on his face.
“Brandon…Brandon…? Are you all right?” His voice seemed to be coming from far away. Try as I might to concentrate on it, my mind was interested in only one thing: the pain emanating from the right side of my body. The last thing I remember seeing before it all went black was Mr. Kinney leaning forward trying to catch me.
I woke up slowly, my eyelids feeling like weights had been attached to them. My chest didn’t hurt as much as it had, but I could tell it was still tender. My shirt was off and I could feel cold fingers gently prodding the right side of my chest.
“When that Mr. Chase first told us about what had happened, I almost didn’t believe it. But after meeting that man…”
“Me neither, Susan. Who could do something like that?”
“Well, it obviously happened. Look at this scar. There’s no way he’s going to be able to play football anytime soon.”
“Oh, Jack…he’s waking up.” I opened my eyes all the way. Both of the Kinneys were kneeling over me, a look of intent concern on their faces. I was lying on the floor in the living room. “How are you feeling, Brandon?”
“I’ve been better,” I said. “How…?”
“Mr. Chase told us the truth,” said Mr. Kinney. “He told you about the car accident thing so that you could tell us the truth when you felt you were ready. There’s no way he could have lied about something like that during an adoption process. I’m just sorry that it had to be brought up like this.” I nodded in agreement, and closed my eyes. Trying to absorb this new information was almost more than I could take.
“Did he say how he got here?” I asked, keeping my eyes closed. It helped me to focus on what was going on.
“He told us that he was a relative who had heard what had happened and was wondering how you were. He was only here a couple minutes before you showed up. To tell the truth, I almost didn’t let him in the house…the way he looked. He looked almost like a homeless person.”
“I thought that my father was dead. He pointed the gun at himself after he…he shot me.” Mr. and Mrs. Kinney looked stunned. They didn’t know this part of the story…no one except me and my mom did before now. And I had no idea where she was. Wait…Mr. Chase said that only one car was missing from the driveway. I filed this piece of information away for later when I could try to figure something out.
They were both still kneeling down beside me, but weren’t saying anything. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Striker making his way back into the room, sniffing cautiously to see if it was safe. I patted my left hand on the floor, trying to coax him into coming over. I could use some puppy companionship right about now. Apparently determining that things were under control, he bounded into the room and jumped up onto my chest. Oh boy, did that hurt. Mrs. Kinney gasped and snatched him off as I rolled over onto my side in pain. It passed quickly but I needed to learn not to do stupid things like enticing a dog to jump on me.
“Why does it hurt so much?” I asked. I had thrown the football just yesterday while at school. I hadn’t remembered feeling this much pain when I did it. Maybe that punch just twisted it the wrong way. Maybe I was so happy things were going well that I didn’t really notice it. Who knows? I sure was now. I remembered Dr. Carter telling me to take it easy and not strain it for 3 weeks. It was still near the beginning of the season, so I wouldn’t miss too much with the team. They would be disappointed, probably, but not as much as I was. Just when things seemed to be going better, he had to show up and mess things up again.
“Well, I’m no doctor…but I’d guess you did something when you punched him that tore what had been trying to heal,” said Mr. Kinney. “You need to take it easy for a while. Feel like you can sit up?” I nodded and with their help managed to sit up and then move onto the couch. It seemed to be fine so long as I didn’t move too quickly or hit it with blunt objects. As I was catching my breath, I heard the front door open. My head whipped around to face the door to the living room just about as fast as Mr. and Mrs. Kinney jumped up from their chairs. He wouldn’t come back this quickly, would he?
“Hey, I’m home,” Meric said, rounding the corner. He stopped short, his backpack still slung over one shoulder. “Uh…what’s going on?” It must have looked a strange scene, all of us alert and me without my shirt on.
“Come sit down, Meric. We have some things to talk about.” He slipped his backpack off and put it on the ground near the staircase before coming in to sit on the couch beside me. Meric always had this way of fitting seamlessly into any and all situations. As soon as he sat down it was like he had been here all along. I turned a little to face him. His eyes traveled down my chest quickly, stopping at the scar on the right side. His eyes widened a bit but he otherwise didn’t say anything. I filled him in on what had happened that afternoon after I got home from Justin’s house. He nodded when I was finished and seemed to be deep in thought.
“Did you tell them?” he asked. It was obvious to me what he was talking about. I shook my head.
“Not yet, I was just about to before you came in.” I turned to face Mr. and Mrs. Kinney, who both had a slightly confused look on their faces. I was one for one so far on revealing my sexuality to those around me. Shot once, hugged once. Let’s see how this one goes. Of course, I was nervous, but I had a feeling it would work out this time.
“Mr. Kinney…Mrs. Kinney…” I looked at each of them in turn. “I’m gay.” I closed my eyes, uttering a silent prayer that they wouldn’t freak out on me.
“Ok,” said Mr. Kinney like someone being told that a mile was 5280 feet long. I opened my eyes to see them getting up and heading towards the kitchen. Meric patted me on the knee and got up as well.
“That-that’s it?” I asked. I was dumbfounded. Mrs. Kinney turned around and smiled.
“Yeah. Now hurry up and get washed up for dinner.” I grinned back and took Meric’s offered hand to get up from the couch. In one of the most awkward set of movements I’d ever had to make, I managed to get my shirt back on without aggravating my side. After a quick stop in the bathroom to wash up, I headed into the kitchen to have dinner with my new family, a smile firmly planted on my face.
I woke up the next morning feeling much better. The previous few days had been long ones. First I came out to Meric, got “drafted” to be the quarterback for the school football team (which I wouldn’t be able to start on for a few weeks), managed to do something incredibly stupid while at Justin’s house, punched my dad in the face and then came out to my new parents. I figured I’d take it easy today, for a change. I had decided last night before going to sleep that I wasn’t going to worry myself too much over the bad things happening. It seemed to me that that was a sure way to get depressed. Instead, I was going to concentrate on the positive things and deal with the negatives as they came up.
A quick shower and hair-styling later I was sitting at the kitchen table, slurping the last of the milk in my bowl of Frosted Flakes. Today was Friday, and we had a quiz in pre-calc that I was a bit worried about. With everything that had been going on, I hadn’t had much time to study for it. I’d just have to hope I had absorbed something while sitting in class earlier in the week. No sense worrying about it now.
“Oh, Brandon. We have a couple things for you to do after school today.” Mr. Kinney was straightening his tie in the mirror that hung in the hallway. “You’ve got an appointment with Dr. Norris at 3:45 and we’re going to go by the police station to fill out a report on your father.”
“All right, I don’t think I have anything to do so that’s fine.” Mr. Kinney nodded and finished with his tie. Meric slapped his hand against his forehead and I looked at him, raising an eyebrow.
“The party!” he said. Oh no, that’s right. Jennifer had invited us to go to a party at her house while her parents were out of town tonight. I had forgotten about it with everything else that had been going on and I really wasn’t looking forward to it. Meric, at least, was going to be there. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, and it would be nice to try to meet some of the other students at the school. I was determined to fit in the best I could in this new town.
“Party?” Mrs. Kinney didn’t seem too happy at the mention of that word.
“Oh, it’s just a little get-together at Jennifer’s house. She was very insistent that Brandon come.” I could see her winding up to fire the usual questions. Will there be any parents there? Alcohol, drugs, sex, barn animals? You know the drill. She was cut short by Mr. Kinney, though.
“Oh, let the boys have some fun. I think they’ve earned it.” He was smiling easily. I could tell Mrs. Kinney didn’t want to give up that easily, but didn’t want to be seen as the “evil parent,” either. She finally nodded reluctantly. I grinned, and with Meric, headed out to the 4Runner and our ride to school.
As we headed into the school building, I was amazed at how many people already knew who I was. Word traveled fast, I guess. Dozens of people were coming up and shaking my hand. I was pretty worn out just walking through the hall to homeroom. Meric didn’t seem to mind my getting all the attention. Of course, he had been popular here long before I ever showed up. And he wasn’t the type to get jealous.
I slipped into my desk in homeroom, realizing that even with all of the stops in the hall, I was still a bit early. Only a few people were already there. I took out my math notebook and tried to do a bit of last minute studying. It was amazing that people did this all the time. It was unlikely they would actually learn anything 15 minutes before the test, but every single day I saw people trying to cram before tests. As the minutes ticked by, the room began to fill up. About three minutes before the bell rang, Jennifer bounced into the room, her blond hair flying everywhere and her mouth chewing the gum at a mile a minute. She smiled at me and slipped into the desk next to mine. Great.
“Hi Brandon!” Chomp, chomp, chomp. God, she was like a cow munching on grass. I turned from my notes and smiled at her. “You looking forward to the party tonight? I know I am it’s going to be so much fun because my parents are out of town and everyone is going to be there and we’ll play games and get to know everyone and just hang out it’ll be fun.” I nodded, not having a clue what she had just said.
“I’ll be there,” I said. “What time is it at again?”
“Well, it starts at 8:00, but if you want to come early I can show you around if you like.”
“Well, I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing before hand, but if I can get there early, I will.”
“Great!” I smiled again at her incredible exuberance and turned back to my notes. She must have noticed that I was trying my best to not fail a test, so she left me alone for the rest of homeroom. The bell rang much sooner than I would have liked. I hadn’t even gotten to read through all of the notes. Oh well, too late now.
The math quiz turned out to be easier than I would have thought. I guess I had paid attention enough during the week to do well. Meric, of course, didn’t bat an eye at it. Was there anything this kid couldn’t do? After the bell, we all piled out of the room and Meric and I headed out to our normal place outside for lunch. As usual, there were some kids playing football on the lawn. They asked me to join and I turned them down. They seemed disappointed, but didn’t want to press the issue.
“I need to head inside in a few minutes,” I said to Meric after we had finished our lunches.
“Okay, we’ve still got a while, you know.”
“Yeah, but I need to talk to Coach Thomas and tell him about my side.” Meric nodded. I got up and picked up my backpack, wincing a bit. It didn’t hurt all the time, but occasionally some movement would send some pain shooting through my side. It really sucked to be injured. “I’ll see you in third period.”
I headed through the halls towards the gym. Along the way, I was greeted by several high fives and smiles. Would these people be as eager to be my friend if they truly knew who I was? Probably not.
I entered the locker room and headed towards the back to where Coach Thomas’s office was. He was in there eating a sandwich and watching some film on the TV. I knocked on the door, pushing it open a bit. He swiveled in his chair, hitting the pause button as he did.
“Brandon! What can I do for you?” He looked so happy. I hated to break the bad news to him.
“Well, Coach. I’ve got some bad news for you.” His face sunk and the piece of sandwich he was holding in his hand fell to the desk with a plop. Peanut butter and jelly. Good choice.
“What?! Don’t tell me you’ve decided not to play for me!”
“No, no…I still want to play for Jefferson. It’s just that, well…I’ve got an injury that’s going to keep me out of physical stuff for about 3 weeks.” He seemed to brighten up a bit after I told him I was going to still play and he wasn’t as disappointed as I would have thought after I broke the news to him.
“Well, that’s not too bad, Brandon. We don’t play our first game yet for two weeks, and it’ll probably take you that long to get used to playing in a real game setting. You’ll miss our opening game, but I’m sure Jack will fill in fine for you. You still need to come to practice, though. We’ll just take it easy.” I nodded.
“Of course, Coach.”
“How are you getting along with the rest of the team? They treating you all right?” I was getting on fine with them. I guess I had earned their respect pretty quickly. Well, except for their previous quarterback who seemed intent on making sure I was miserable. I didn’t want to mention this to the coach as it would make me seem like some sort of tattle tale.
“We’re getting along fine, Coach. Good group of guys.”
“Well, I guess now’s a good time for this little speech.” Uh oh. “You’re going to be the leader of the team on and off the field. It’s up to you to make sure they are on top of their game. You need to lead by example. Don’t get into any trouble. You seem like a good kid, so I’m not really worried too much.” I nodded and told him I would be good and that I would keep an eye on the team. Our next practice was Monday afternoon, and I told him I would be there.
The last two classes passed quickly. Justin wasn’t in school today, so I didn’t have to deal with that particular problem until after the weekend, something I was very grateful for. I met Meric by his locker and we walked out to the parking lot together to wait on whichever of his parents was coming to pick us up today. On the way, I filled him in on what Coach Thomas had told me. He nodded in agreement to the little speech I had been given.
“Quarterback is an important position,” he said as we sat down outside. “Have to be in control all the time.” I nodded.
Mrs. Kinney pulled up shortly after that and we piled in. After confirming that we had indeed had a good day, Meric turned on the radio. We didn’t have that much time, since the doctor’s appointment was very soon. We stopped briefly by the house to drop Meric and our bags off. I hopped into the front seat and we hurried to the medical complex that was near the house.
“Dr. Norris is a good man. He’s been our family doctor a while now. I had to tell him that you had been shot, but didn’t go into any details. He won’t ask, either, so you don’t have to worry about that.” To tell the truth, I had been a little worried that I would have to explain what had happened.
“Ah the newest addition to my favorite family of clients,” Dr. Norris said as we entered his office a short while later. He had several framed certificates on the wall and with his white coat and glasses definitely looked the part. I smiled a little. “Come on into the examining room and let’s see what we got here.”
I sat down on the raised bed that all medical examination rooms seem to have and took off my shirt at his request. He spent a few minutes checking my vitals, and then focused in on the right side of my chest, poking every now and then and asking “Does this hurt?” He finished his exam and pulled out a file folder from a cabinet and spent a few minutes looking through it, nodding to himself.
“Well, Brandon. After looking at the results from some tests and such from the hospital in Greenville and doing the exam here, I think you’re going to be just fine. You just need to give it a rest for about three weeks, which I think you already know. I heard that you are going to be playing on the Jefferson football team, but you need to take it easy for a while.”
“Thanks, Doctor. I knew about that and already told my coach that I couldn’t do anything physical for three weeks. Do you have any idea why that one thing made it hurt so much, even after I had been doing other stuff?”
“Well, you’re actually a pretty quick healer from what I can tell. It looks like the tissue and everything in your chest was well on its way to knitting itself back together. It was slowly being weakened piece by piece by you doing those things, until it finally got bad enough that you felt it hurt. That part of the chest can be very sensitive. I’m amazed you didn’t notice the pain before then.”
“Well, I did notice it a little, but didn’t think much of it. I guess that was pretty stupid of me.” He nodded, but smiled.
“It’s all right, just so long as you take care of it now. It should still heal fine. But no football! Now, put your shirt back on and go enjoy your weekend. I’ve got a son that goes to Jefferson, so maybe I’ll see you play sometime. Lord knows that team could use some help.”
“I’ll look forward to it, Doctor Norris. Thanks!”
Mrs. Kinney was waiting for me out in his office. I filled her in on what he had said, which really wasn’t anything new, but it was good to get a professional opinion and to know that nothing was permanently damaged. Our next stop was the police station, which I wasn’t looking forward to at all. We spent about 30 minutes there filling out a report and giving a description of my father to one of the detectives on duty. He told us that he would be in touch with the department back in Greenville and would keep us updated as soon as he heard something.
When we finally got back to the house, it was about 5:30 and I realized I was very hungry. Mrs. Kinney told me she’d have dinner ready about 6:30, something light since we’d probably be eating at the party, and I headed upstairs to find Striker and Meric.
I knocked softly on the door to Meric’s room when I got there, but didn’t get a response. I slowly opened the door and looked inside. He was draped across his bed asleep. Striker had thrown himself across Meric’s midsection, and was contentedly rising and falling with Meric’s light breathing. I smiled and closed the door quietly, hoping not to wake them up. He had a bit longer to sleep and we’d probably need all our energy for the party tonight.
It was a little after 7:40 when we pulled into the driveway of the Zegus household. They had a really nice house, even nicer than the Kinneys. I couldn’t see exactly how much land they had as they had a fence blocking most of the backyard from view. There were already a few cars here, probably from older students who could drive themselves. Meric and I were getting pretty close to being able to do that, and I was really looking forward to it. Maybe I could even get a job and get myself a car. We stepped out of the 4Runner and waved goodbye to Mr. Kinney, reaffirming that we would be ready to go at 11:30.
I glanced over at Meric as we walked up the driveway to the front door. He was wearing a long sleeve light blue and white shirt from Abercrombie over a solid blue shirt. His dark brown shoes looked really good with the dark but well worn jeans he was wearing. It was actually a little chilly because of the cold front passing through, so I had dressed a little warmer than usual as well. I had on a white turtleneck sweater and jeans similar to Meric’s. I thought we looked pretty good, and we should, considering we had spent the better part of 30 minutes picking out the outfits. Add that to the time spent in the shower, shaving and getting our hair just right, it had been quite an ordeal. As a teenager, any social event called for such intense preparation.
I barely finished knocking on the door when it was flung open. Jennifer stood on the other side, framed by the light hanging overhead in the foyer. She was…beautiful.
“Hi guys! So glad you could make it! Come on in, there’s already a few people here down in the game room.” We followed her inside and downstairs to the basement. I could feel the bass of the music playing long before we actually got near enough to make out the rest of the song. I didn’t recognize it, but I wasn’t exactly up on the latest party music, either. There were three people already there playing pool and another couple talking over by the bar. Wait, what? The bar? Uh oh. I guess I should have expected this, but it was still a surprise. Meric headed off to the pool table to see if he could join in, leaving me alone with Jennifer. I’d have to remember to get him back for this later.
“So, let me show you around, Brandon. Do you want something to drink?” She had walked over to the bar and gone around behind it. She pulled out a large bottle of vodka, and was mixing herself a drink.
“Uh, just some water please.” She seemed disappointed I didn’t want to join her in something stronger.
“You sure? My parents don’t care. They bought this stuff for us.” Sound like great people. I shook my head and took my bottled water from her. Taking her own drink, we headed around the room, first introducing me to the people that were already there. I had seen most of them in the hallway at school at one time or another, and they all seemed to know me. She took me back upstairs and showed me the rest of the house, as well as the back yard, complete with large swimming pool and deck. It really was a nice house, and I told her as much.
“Thank you, Brandon! You’re such a nice guy. I’m glad you could be here!” I smiled and looked down. Oh boy, she had already finished her drink. I had a feeling that it wasn’t her first, and wouldn’t be the last. This night might get interesting.
We ended up back downstairs after greeting a few more people at the doorway. Bryce showed up about 15 minutes after Meric and I had. When we answered the door, he seemed surprised to see me with Jennifer’s arm around my waist (this had happened almost immediately after we had been alone). He didn’t say anything though, and we followed him downstairs to rejoin the party. She had to go back upstairs occasionally to let more people in, and by the time the party was in full swing, there were easily 40 people there. I recognized quite a few of the guys from the football team, and we talked a bit about me missing the first game and the status of the team in general. They seemed genuinely excited that I was going to be their QB this season. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. About 8:45, the doorbell rang again. Jennifer seemed surprised that someone would show up this late. She didn’t seem very sure of herself when it came to moving about, having downed at least two more drinks, so I offered to go let the person in. If I had known it was Jack, I wouldn’t have been so eager.
“Oh…you’re here,” he said by way of greeting. I nodded but didn’t say anything else. I closed the door behind him and pointed towards the staircase that led to the basement. He headed down and immediately went to go hang out with a group of football players. I was next up on the pool table, and was looking forward to making a fool of myself. Sure enough, I managed to sink the white ball more times than anything else, but it was all in good fun. Just about everyone seemed to be drinking alcohol of some sort. I noticed that Meric wasn’t participating, as well as Tom and Bryce from the team. They seemed to disapprove very much of their teammates drinking, but didn’t bring it up. It had probably been argued about often in the past. Since there were still two weeks until the first game, I figured I’d not worry about it too much. Once we were playing, though, I’d have to have a word with them. Coach Thomas had put his trust in me to be the leader, and I was going to do my best.
The one person drinking that I was worried about was Jack. He seemed to be the kind of person that got angry when they were drunk, and he was getting very loud. Around 9:45 Jennifer turned down the music and got everyone’s attention. Apparently she wanted us to play a game together. It just so happened that she had a giant twister pad, easily large enough for all of us to play on. I wasn’t too interested in contorting my body given the way my side was feeling, so I offered to be the person deciding which body parts would go where. Jennifer seemed pretty disappointed that she wasn’t going to get to rub up against me, but I was pretty sure she’d think of another way to accomplish her goal. By this time Jack was pretty well drunk and was getting even louder. A few people had moved to the other side of the mat away from him.
The game looked to actually be a lot of fun and I was sorry that I wasn’t able to participate. But, it was amusing to watch people try to stay up, especially considering most of them probably couldn’t see straight. Everything seemed to be going well until I heard a scream from the opposite side of the mat.
“Get…off!” I didn’t recognize the voice, but it definitely belonged to a girl. Everyone had stood up to see what was going on, so I had to move around the outside of the mat to see for myself. I wasn’t ready for what I saw. Jack was lying on top of some girl I didn’t know and was trying to kiss her. Everyone seemed to be frozen in place, so I quickly moved down there to help. I grabbed Jack by the shoulders and pulled him off. He had been holding onto the shirt the girl was wearing, and part of it ripped off, showing her bra. He stumbled backwards, unable to stop himself in his drunken state, and he fell over backwards with a loud “oof.” I turned quickly to see if the girl was all right. Jennifer had moved over by then and had given the girl a jacket to put on over her ripped shirt.
I turned back to face Jack just as his fist connected with my jaw. My head snapped back and I stumbled, finally dropping to one knee to steady myself.
“Don’t you ever touch me again, asshole. Who do you think you are, coming in here and taking my team?” It was kinda hard to understand what he was saying as his words were pretty slurred, but I got the general idea. I knew everyone was watching us. I needed to be very careful about how I handled this.
“Look Jack, I was just trying to help this girl. She didn’t want you doing what you were doing.”
“Mind your own business!” He seemed to think that any more words were unnecessary and took an unsteady step forward, trying to hit me again. I stepped aside pretty easily and he just fell over onto the carpeted floor. He moaned a couple times and then threw up. I just shook my head in disgust, and turned to face Jennifer.
“I think the party’s over, Jennifer.” She had a very surprised look on her face, but she nodded slowly in agreement. Everyone was shocked at what had happened. A line formed as some of the kids placed phone calls to parents to come pick them up early. Meric walked over to me and patted me on the shoulder.
“I think you handled that pretty well,” he said. I nodded, still keeping an eye on Jack. He seemed to have passed out lying in a pool of his own vomit. The girl he had been groping was sitting in a chair quietly crying. I pointed her out to Meric, who immediately went over and sat next to her. If anyone could calm her down, he was the one.
Meric and I were the last two people to leave the party. I wanted to make sure that Jennifer and the other girl, whose name was Theresa, were going to be all right. One of the football players had agreed to take Jack home, and I knew that I was going to have to deal with that one on Monday. We told Mr. Kinney about what had happened on our ride back to the house, and he agreed with Meric that I had handled the situation pretty well. I had promised myself that morning that I was going to take it easy this day, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for me to have an easy day. I took a shower when we got back to the house and crawled into bed, glad the week was over.