So. so you think you could tell
Heaven from hell, blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail.
A smile from a veil, do you think you could tell?
"Hey, Nick. . ."
Watching the trees pass makes me so sleepy. In a way, it's like counting sheep I suppose. One by one, they all fly by. twenty-two. twenty-three. (yawn) twenty-four.
"Don't fall asleep on me, buddy, I need all the company I can get."
"Hehe, sorry dude. Just starin' off into space."
That's Bruce. He picked me up about two days ago. I was hitchhiking on the interstate (I know, not the smartest thing to do these days, but what's a boy to do if he doesn't have loads of cash or a car?), and Bruce here just happened to be going to the exact place I wanted to be. What are the odds of that happening? I tell you, some days, it feels like God just uses me as his own punching bag, and then other days he does something like this and sends me a ride to heaven. I guess it's those 'mysterious ways' everyone always talks about. Unfortunately, I've never put much faith in God, especially recently.
I'm Nick, by the way. Nick Snow, or Nicky Snow to friends. I just turned sixteen recently. How'd I celebrate? I packed everything I could, stole a little money from my step-dad, and hit the road. I could not stand to live there one more day. Ever since I came out to my mom, it's been one pile of crap after another. She never had a problem with it I don't think, but when Kirk found out, he was furious. He called me names, both in private and in front of his friends. He pushed me, punched me, spit on me, and then he got drunk. Man, was he an ass when he was drunk. He would rant on for hours about me being a fag and a sissy boy. Fortunately, in his drunken state he couldn't really hit me or anything. Hell, he had trouble standing up most of the time. Still, it was not a fun way to live. And of course, Mom wouldn't do anything to stop it, so I had to endure it for so long. Then one night, he came after me and tried to rape me. He came down on top of me to hold me down and shoved his crotch into my face, trying to get me to do things to him. It made me so sick and so angry, I lost it. I punched him in the nuts so hard that I caused him to double over in pain on the floor. I used the opportunity to kick him hard in the gut a few times. Then I grabbed his head and told him that if he ever tried that again, I'd kill him. All he could do was cry, most likely because of the alcohol. I'm sure if he was sober, he would have put up a good fight, but I'm not complaining. I left him like that on the floor and slept uneasily in my room with the door locked. I never did tell Mom. I was too embarrassed, both by what he did and what I had said to him, because I have never been angry like that and it scared me. I decided it was time to leave.
That was about four days ago.
"Day-dreaming again?" Bruce shot me a smile.
"Always," I said, smiling back. Bruce and I had become pretty good friends since we met, despite my shyness. He was a very nice guy, and quite attractive too. I've never been into older men, but I still thought he was very good-looking. Very built and tough. It kind of put me off when he first offered me a ride because he looked so intimidating, but he has been so kind and caring that I feel comfortable around him. And when he said he was heading back home to Baysville, I had very little trouble telling him about being gay and all. By the way, he was talking about all the hot guys in that town, I knew he was probably gay himself, so that made it easy to come out and share stuff about my life I hadn't been able to share with a lot of people.
"I can't imagine what you could be dreaming about. or should I say who you are dreaming about?" All I could do was smile. "You think he'll be surprised?"
"Oh he'll definitely be surprised," I replied. Pleasantly surprised, I hope, I thought to myself. I gazed back out the window and thought back to the whole reason I was on my way to Baysville. my Daniel.
I met Dan while on vacation with my family. We were staying up in Mackinaw Island, a beautiful getaway in northern Michigan. My mom and my step-dad wanted to browse around the town, but I wanted to be elsewhere, mostly because I hated seeing them together. So Mom gave me some money and sent me on my way. I rented a bike and rode around the island until I came to a nice beach. It was pretty much deserted despite the beautiful weather, which was good for me because I enjoy being alone sometimes. I parked and sat down, digging my toes into the sand. I looked out across the water and took in the majestic view. Now this is a vacation, I thought to myself. Just then I looked over and I saw him, the most gorgeous boy I had ever seen. He looked to be about my age, a little over five and a half feet, dark brown hair, brown eyes, and an absolute heavenly body. He was built, but not too much, just the way I like it. His skin was perfectly tanned. And his face, oh his face! It's hard for me to explain it, except that he looks like a young Paul Kariya (a hockey player for the Mighty Ducks). I don't know what it is about that face that turns me on so much, but it did. He was simply gorgeous.
It was at this point that I realized I had been excessively staring at him and my mouth was hanging open. I quickly twisted my neck around and stared out into the water again. When I glanced over at him again, I noticed something I hadn't before. the girl walking beside him. Damn! That was one lucky girl there. They were laughing and having a good time it looked like. Then they both saw me and I turned away quickly away. I'm sure my cheeks must have been bright red. I shot a glance over to them again and they were both giggling and looking right at me. Great, I thought, just what I need. more teasing from my peers, on vacation no less. They sat down about eight feet away from me, which was odd because pretty much the whole beach was open. I tried to act cool, but I couldn't keep myself from occasionally looking over at them (well, him really. I wasn't very interested in her). And every time I looked, he was looking at me. I was kind of getting self-conscious at that point. Is my hair messed up? Is there something on my face? Then I saw the girl start nudging him and giving him a look as though she wanted him to do something. He got up and started walking my way, and I got excited and a little frightened all at once.
"Hi." Wow, just one word and I loved his voice.
"Hi." I couldn't help but smile.
"Kelly and I thought you looked a little lonely over here, so we wanted to know if you'd like to join us."
"Nah, that's ok man." What!? Nick, you dumb ass! A hot guy asks you to join him and you say no!?
"You sure? There's a shop near here that has the best ice cream in the world. You gotta try it." He said all this in a nervous smile. I kind of got the sense that he didn't really want to ask me. He was kinda murmuring and stumbling over his words. His girlfriend must have pushed him to do this.
"No really, I don't want to intrude on your date. You guys go have a good time. I don't mind being alone." After saying this, he started giggling to himself. It made me irritated like nothing else. I don't know why, but I thought he was making fun of me for being alone. The island was a hot spot for couples, and I'm sure I did stand out a bit, but that was no reason for me to get teased.
I stood up and started walking over to where my bike was.
"Dude, where are going?"
"If I wanted to be made fun of, I'd have stayed at home. Go pick on someone else."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," he said and ran in front of me to stop me. His face was completely serious this time. "I wasn't making fun of you. I'm sorry. I was laughing because she's not my girlfriend. Kelly's my sister, ok? We were walking and saw you here all by yourself and she thought you might want to join us."
"I am such a loser," I mumbled into my hands, shaking my head back and forth. I thought for sure that he'd think I'm a total spaz for flipping out like that. But I looked up at him and he was smiling again. God, it was a beautiful smile. "I am so sorry. I didn't mean to offend you or anything."
"Don't worry, it happens all the time. Sadly, I've gotten used to it." We chuckled a bit, and then he gazed into me with his deep eyes. "So how about it, coming with?"
"I'd love to," I replied, letting out a small sigh of relief.
"I'm Daniel, by the way."
"Nicky, er, uh, Nick. Whatever you want to call me." Smooth Nick, real smooth.
"Nice to meet you, Nicky," he said a smile.
Okay, so it wasn't the most romantic meeting. I certainly felt I had made an idiot of myself, but Dan didn't seem to mind at all. So we ended up walking over to the shop together. I was introduced to Kelly. They told us about their family and why they were here, and I did the same when it was my turn. Dan seemed to pay real attention when I was talking, listening and asking a question now and then. Turns out we both had quite a bit in common. We were in the same grade. We both played a few sports (running and tennis). And we both loved hockey. He noticed the Red Wing logo on my shirt and loved it because he was a huge Detroit fan just like me. That's mostly what we talked about on the way to the shop.
We got to the ice cream place and found a place to sit. Dan and I were still chatting away. We were really connecting, like we had known each other for years. We joked and laughed a little. He'd occasionally touch my hand or lean in and whisper something into my ear. In the back of my mind, I thought he might be flirting with me, but I didn't believe it. Really, what are the odds that a suave guy like that is not only gay, but interested in me? But I did play along. I'd 'accidentally' hit my foot against his or get so close to him that our legs touched. It was fun, I have to say. As soon as we ordered our food, Kelly saw a cute guy across the way and decided to go introduce herself, leaving Daniel and me alone.
"She's always chasing the hotties," Dan said.
"Vacation spots a great place to find them," I replied.
"Yeah. they are." I looked over at him and we got caught in 'the stare'. You know, for a few magical seconds, we got lost in each other's eyes, and suddenly I knew. I don't know how I knew, but I knew we were both mutually flirting with each other and we just. clicked.
Dan asked me if I wanted to see a cool part of the island. How could I say no? He told his sister where we would be and then we took off running. He led me up a grassy hill that was well hidden from the trail by trees and bushes. We came to a clearing that gave a perfect view out over the water. It was breath-taking. We both plopped down on the grass and took in the scenery.
"Wow," I whispered softly.
"Great view, huh? But that's not the cool part."
"What's the cool part?" I turned to look at him and his face was inches from mine. And he came down, and we kissed. My first kiss. It was pure magic. It lasted so long, we were both out of breath when we broke. Then I gazed into his eyes and lost all conscious control over myself. I did whatever came to me in my moment of lust. I held him and pulled him close to me, rubbing my hands all over his body. We'd dive in for kisses now and again. I felt his hand glide across my chest and up to my neck, pulling me in for another deep kiss. We did everything but rip each other's clothes off and make out. But we didn't, not then. From that moment on, the whole world disappeared and it was just Daniel and me.
We spent the whole day up there, all alone, holding each other and gazing out over the lake. Occasionally we'd kiss or nuzzle each other. We didn't say much, because words would have just ruined it. When the time came to leave (which we only knew because it was getting dark), we hugged each other real tight and shared one last kiss. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and promised we'd call each other. And that, my friends, was how we started.
It turns out that he lived very close to me and since he was a few months older than me (he had just turned sixteen), he had a driver's license and a car he could borrow. So we'd arrange to meet almost every week or two and do stuff. We became so very close to each other. He was my first everything: my first kiss, my first date, my first shoulder to cry on, and eventually, my first sexual partner. That was a magical night, but I'll save that story for later, hehe. And he was my first and only love.
Ah, but seldom does happiness last. The last time he drove down to see me, he told me his family was moving. I was crushed. I cried right then. He held me and tried to comfort me but he was on the verge of tears himself. He handed me a magazine and told me that's where he'd be moving. I looked at the cover and read the word aloud.
"Yeah, dude, it's this awesome town out west somewhere. They accept people for who they are, gay or straight or anything else. I showed it to my folks and they're really curious about it. They're both adolescent psychologists and they're really interested in helping young guys and girls like us. I think I'm going to really like it there. There are gay couples, and boys living with same-sex foster parents, and a shelter for teens will be opening up soon. It'll be great."
I wiped away a tear from my red eyes. "Wow, it sounds. perfect."
"It can never be perfect," he said, pulling my head up and meeting me with those gorgeous eyes, "unless you came with me."
At that point, I started bawling into his shoulder, because I knew I just couldn't do that. I couldn't just leave my life and family and friends. And he knew it too.
"I'm really gonna miss you, Nick," he said in a choked voice.
"I'll miss you more, Daniel. Never forget me."
"Never. I love you."
"Ten more miles to go, buddy."
I looked at the sign and smiled. I was almost there. Not even fifteen minutes and I would be in heaven.
"I think we're going to make a quick stop over at my house before I drop you off."
I gave him a puzzled look.
"Well, look at you. Doesn't look like you've really had a shower in days."
I looked down at myself and laughed. It was true. I was really roughing it these last few days.
"What? Don't think he'll be into the 'outdoorsy' look?"
"Hehe, I just think you'd look better if you washed up a little. I got a washroom you can use at my place. We'll have you looking good in no time."
"Thanks Bruce, I owe you everything. I don't know where I'd be without you, and I don't even want to think about that. Thank you so much." I reached over and hugged him.
"Aw heck, it was my pleasure. Just sit back and relax, we're almost home."
Home. I wasn't sure where I would stay, but I knew that Baysville would be my home from now on. "Turn it up, this is good music."
How I wish. how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year. Running over the same old ground.
What have we found? The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
"Well, here we are," declared Bruce as we entered his house. It was huge! I couldn't believe the size of the living room alone. It was bigger than the entire house I left behind when I ran away. And it had the most beautiful fireplace in the world which, judging by the woodpile next to it, was a natural one, not a gas one. It gave the room a rustic feel to it, despite all the electronic equipment like the stereo system and the big screen TV.
"Like it?" he asked.
"Definitely! This is an awesome place. I'm shocked you can afford living here."
"Well, my salary goes a long way, especially when I'm the only one I have to support."
"You mean you get this whole place to yourself? That's awesome. But doesn't it get lonely here?"
"Well, I have friends over all the time, and the occasional date, hehe. but yeah, it can get pretty lonely sometimes."
"I'm sorry Bruce, I guess that was a personal question. I didn't mean to make you feel bad or anything."
"Nah, don't worry about it. I don't mind. Let's see. shower is down the hall. There are towels in a cupboard in there. Help yourself to whichever one looks the most comfortable."
With that, I headed for the bathroom and took a nice, long, relaxing shower. Bruce had a massaging showerhead that I immediately fell in love with. Let's just say I cleaned some parts of me with a little more "attention" than other parts, hehe. I hopped out eventually and toweled off. I rooted through my bag looking for some clean clothes and found a pair of old jeans and a tight-fitting tee shirt that was pretty tight on me. Putting them on, I looked at myself in the mirror, trying to look as good as possible for when I went to see Dan. I never really was happy with the way I looked, but Dan always told me I looked good, so I trusted him.
I walked out of the bathroom and into the living but didn't find Bruce there. What I did find was the wonderful smell of food filling the room. I followed my nose to the kitchen to find Bruce cooking up a late breakfast. There were eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, hash browns, everything. I thought I was in a restaurant for a moment.
"Ah, you're finally done," he said with a small laugh. "Hope you're hungry. I wasn't sure what you liked, so I made everything I could think of."
"Wow, it all looks delicious. Thank you."
"Dig in." I didn't wait to be told again. I filled my plate and ate it up just as fast. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! It isn't a race. Slow down and chew for goodness sake."
"Hehe, sorry. It's very good. I really appreciate you cooking for me like this. You didn't have to."
"It was my pleasure. You're a great kid. I'm glad I got the chance to help you get here to Baysville. Hitchhiking's not a safe way to travel you know."
"I know. I just didn't really have many options. I didn't have enough supplies or money to walk the whole way here. But I am glad I did hitchhike because I got to meet you. I owe you big time man."
"Hehe, I'll remember that when it's time to do dishes." We both laughed a little. Then there was a pause before he continued. "So, when do you plan on heading out to see Daniel?"
"Pretty soon, I think. I'm kinda nervous, you know, because I didn't tell him I was coming."
"You didn't tell him at all? Not even a hint? What was the last thing you told him?"
"I sent him an email saying I'd be gone for a while, meaning I'd be away from the phone and the computer. I asked him not to call the house because if my folks knew I was missing and he called asking to talk to me, they'd ask him if he knew anything and he'd be upset and worried and. well, it would just be a mess."
"So he's probably really anxious to hear from you."
"Yeah, that's true. I'm just not sure how to go about seeing him. If I just show up at his door, he's gonna be shocked, and I'm not sure it'll be a happy surprise or not. And then what if he's not home, or what if he's with friends, or maybe he's having a bad day or. "
"Okay, okay, relax. Calm down. All I can say is follow your heart, because, in the end, that's where you'll find the most truth and happiness. Here, I have an idea." Bruce reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a cell phone and handed it to me. "You know where he lives?" I nodded yes. "Good. Why don't you start walking over there? And if you find that you just can't make to his house, give him a call. You owe him at least that much. He's probably worried about you, you know."
I couldn't argue with that. I really did want to see him, and he most likely was worried about me. We had talked to each other at least every other day, and now it had been about four days since I sent the email and almost a week since we talked on the phone. That was it. I had to go see him. I resolved in my mind that I was going to go to his house and find him. I turned to Bruce and gave him a hug.
"Thanks Bruce, for everything."
"Hey, no problem. Now go get him."
And with that, I threw on a jacket and headed out to meet my man. I'd like to tell you that I marched straight over to his house, met him at the door, and swept him off his feet, but that's not what happened. I got a little nervous, so I took the scenic route through town, building up some courage. Dan had described the town to me many times and sent me pictures of it, and I memorized all the places I could. I saw Lusiad's restaurant and the bar right next to it. Further down, there was the bookshop/ice cream parlor. Dan loved that place. When we chatted online, he was usually in there with his laptop hooked up to the internet. He'd be there with his friends and talking to me at the same time, which I thought was so cool because it didn't seem to matter to him who was around. On my end, when I talked to Dan, I always had to watch out for people looking over my shoulder at what I typing. I was afraid they'd read the wrong thing and boom, I'd be outted right then and there. But Dan's friends didn't mind. They liked me actually. I'd always get messages like "Cody says hi, by the way." That is so awesome. I wanted to stop in and see the place, but I kept going. I wasn't far from Dan's house.
Okay, so I made it to his street, but when I got there, my feet stopped moving. I got scared again. That's one of my biggest flaws I'd have to say. Sometimes I just lose my backbone. I stood there for a while, arguing with myself, trying to get myself to continue, but to no avail. So I took a deep breath, picked up the phone and called his number. I had to hear his voice, maybe that would do it.
"Hello?" the voice at the other end answered.
"Hi, is Daniel there?"
"This is Daniel." Hehe, I never could discern his voice on the telephone.
"Oh, hi Dan, it's Nick."
"Oh my God, Nick, where have you been! I've missed you so much! I sent you an email but you never got back to me. And then on the email before that you sent, you ask me not to call you. I was worried sick!"
"I know, I'm so sorry Dan. I just really had to do something. I swear I wasn't trying to worry you."
"It's okay, I'm just glad you're all right. I wasn't sure if you were in trouble or what."
"Me, in trouble? Nah, I was just dealing with. stuff, you know."
"Parents being jerks again?"
"Yeah, they were."
"You wanna talk about it?"
"No, no I want to be happy today. I'm sick of feeling shitty."
"Fair enough. I'm always here for though, Nick. Don't shut me out."
"You know I wouldn't do that to you. I love you."
"I love you too Nick. I really missed you."
"I missed you to Dan. I'm really sorry. I swear, I won't ever do that to you again. I just had to find a place to run off to for a while."
"Ooh, sounds adventurous, hehe. So what does that mean? Hiding out at cute guy's house?"
I smiled and laughed a little. We joked about each other being swept away by hot guys all the time, even though we both knew that would never happen. We loved each other too much.
Now I had been walking (pacing, really) as I talked with Dan, staring down at the ground, and it was at this point that I looked up and noticed I was standing on the sidewalk right in front of his house. I heard Bruce's voice in the back of my head saying follow your heart. Wow, was he right. This is where my heart belongs. And the house was exactly like the picture that Dan sent me.
"Well, it's funny you should mention that actually. I happen to be at a hot guys home right now."
"Ha ha, oh really?"
"Yeah. Well actually, I'm just outside the house. It's really a nice one too. Old style brick house, two stories, chimney place."
"Ooh, sounds classy." I wasn't sure if he got where I was going with this, so I started getting more specific. I remembered everything he's ever told me about his place and pulled it up in my thoughts, trying to use it all.
"Oh, and there's a small garden too. Looks like they're trying to grow tomatoes, but all the plants are sick. And there's this cool looking statue in one of the windows. A clay sculpture of a monster. looks like it was made in Mrs. Hall's junior high art class." That ought to do it, I thought. I was grinning from ear to ear.
"Nick? Where are you?"
"I told you. I'm standing in front of the house of a really hot guy. He's smart, funny, attractive, has a killer smile. " The front door opened and there he was. My angel, holding the phone up to his ear with disbelief. ". and I love him more than anything in this world." He burst through the screen door and before I could take one more breath, he was on me, holding me close to him.
"You're here, you're actually here! I don't believe it!"
"Believe it, Dan. I missed you so much. I just had to get here and see you again."
"But how? How did you get here?"
"I'll tell you in a little bit, okay? Right now, I just want to enjoy this." He backed up a little bit and leaned his forehead against mine, gazing into my eyes. "You're crying."
"Hehe, look who's talking," he said, wiping a tear from my eye. Then he leaned in more, tilted his head, and gave me the hardest, longest, most electric kiss I have ever had. Wow! I was in heaven. It lasted a good, solid minute before we both had to breathe again, then we resumed our hug.
"I love you, Nick."
"I love you too, Dan."
"Wish you were here" Written and performed by Pink Floyd.