During the next couple of days, I found myself getting used to that odd feeling which always intensified whenever Cole was around. Hell, it got stronger even when I only thought about him. Which was pretty much all the time.
No one had ever occupied my mind like he did, except for my old man who kept trying to invade my thoughts whenever I wasn’t being careful. Dad was not wanted in my head, but Cole… He was welcome there.
He quickly became my sparring partner at the gym. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge his interest in me because that always sent me spiraling down the rabbit hole, but I was enjoying his company, and getting used to having him around was surprisingly easy. He made it easy. We didn’t talk about anything heavy, our conversations always surrounded work and working out, so it was easy for me to pretend we were just two guys being friends.
“Have you ever tried Naomi’s burgers?” he asked one time when we were leaving the gym.
“You have to! You’re not busy, right? Let’s go grab something to eat – I’m starving, and her burgers are the best in the entire country!” Cole spoke enthusiastically as we walked down the stairs to the entrance.
I’d been fine with seeing him at the gym during the past week, but… I couldn’t stop myself from retreating. Dad was already whispering in my ear, taunting me.
“You must want to get raped because that’s what you’ll get if you ever go anywhere near those disgusting fags…”
I looked away from Cole and didn’t reply to him.
“Maybe another time, then,” he said quietly – he could already read me like an open book.
We stepped outside into the gloomy weather, and I was about to tell him goodbye and walk away before I’d lose my sanity, but he stepped in front of me.
“How about a beer?” he asked carefully.
“I don’t think so…” I mumbled, my strength fading by the second – I needed to get away from him.
“Please, let me at least walk you home,” he said, and when I looked at him, he was watching me with pleading eyes.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because I… I just…” he trailed off, and for the first time ever, he seemed to be at loss of words. “I’ll ruin things if I keep talking, am I right?” he nearly whispered, looking down at the ground.
“No,” I immediately said. “You know I have issues…”
How on earth was it so easy to say that? I had never been able to even admit that to myself, but now the words just rolled off my tongue.
I got my answer when he looked up at me, and gave me a careful smile. It was easy to say it because I didn’t want him to feel bad. And that smile of his… Even though it had a hint of sadness in it, at least he was smiling.
“I… I guess I could grab a bite as well,” I heard myself saying without meaning to.
“Yeah?” he breathed out, the smile growing a little bit wider.
“Yeah,” I muttered, not knowing if that was such a good idea, but I couldn’t stand to see him sad.
Cole showed me the way to Naomi’s Burger. It wasn’t that far away, only a few minutes by walking. I recognized the place, but I had never stepped in. I didn’t really care about food so I never tried anything new. Cole recommended the biggest burger on the menu, raving about how amazing it was.
I wasn’t really listening to his words. I was listening to his voice. He was so enthusiastic about this burger. He was often enthusiastic about a lot of things. I wondered how he could always seem so… positive. He’d been stabbed just because of who he was.
He suddenly stopped talking and gave me a weird look. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but at least he was still smiling, so I assumed everything was good.
“I’m talking your ears off again,” he chuckled.
“I don’t mind,” I said truthfully.
“I guess I’m just…” he trailed off again. How odd. He usually didn’t do that.
“I’m just glad you get to taste the best damn food on this entire planet,” he said, but it was obvious he had wanted to say something else.
I could guess what it was, and I had to look away from him. Dad was back. I hadn’t even noticed him disappear the moment I agreed to come here with Cole.
“You fucking disgusting pervert…”
“I’m on a roll today…” Cole muttered.
I carefully glanced at him. He was looking out the window, sadness written across his face. Boy, I could not stand that look.
“My first therapy session is in a few days,” I told him quietly.
He quickly turned to look at me again. “I didn’t know that,” he said.
I shrugged. “It’s no big deal…”
He was silent for a moment, and I could tell there was something he wanted to say. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to hear it. I guess he made up his mind and decided to go for it.
“If you ever want to talk…” he spoke quietly. “I want to help. I want to… I don’t know… But maybe it could help?”
I had to ignore his offer. I couldn’t even consider it. Men didn’t talk about stuff like that, even if they were friends. My mess was my own, and he didn’t need to hear about it.
Thankfully, the burgers arrived, so I didn’t have to see the defeated look on his face. For a while, we just sat there, eating our food without saying a word. I tried to keep my head clear from thoughts. I did my best to fight off my old man’s words. And I tried to forget that Cole sat right in front of me, but he ruined it by speaking.
“How is it?”
“Oh, it’s good,” I said.
“Just good? Not amazing?” he asked carefully.
“It’s all right,” I said. I didn’t really care about the taste.
I really shouldn’t have come here with him. I couldn’t keep my father’s words at bay, and now Cole was sad too. Why couldn’t I be normal? Why did I feel so uncomfortable eating with him? We were just eating. Hanging out after gym like guys did.
But that wasn’t what was going on in here, was it?
“I can’t do this,” I said, the shit lurking in my head finally leaking over in the middle of my burger.
I stood up and grabbed my bag, but Cole was in front of me in a heartbeat.
“Wait! Please, let me pay for us and I’ll walk you home,” he said pretty loudly.
I stopped to stare at him.
“Are you a fucking squealer?!”
“No,” I told him and grabbed my wallet. I tossed enough money for the bill on the table, turned around, and walked away.
By the time I reached the door and stepped through, I was shaking. I was disgusted. Ashamed. Mortified. I regretted every choice I had made with Cole.
“You’re a squealer!”
“No…” I whispered, shaking my head hard to get rid of my old man’s words.
“What the fuck is wrong with you? You’re not a fucking man, you’re a pervert! You’re a squealer.”
“I didn’t raise a fag! It should be legal to kill a fucker like you! You should be dead, you hear me?! I hope those rapists kill you!”
“I’m not a fag…”
I couldn’t get rid of the thought that had disturbed me so bad. Cole and I were not hanging out like guys did. That… That was a date. He even wanted to pay for me… He’d lured me out with him. I knew exactly what he wanted with me. I knew exactly what he wanted to say to me.
I knew exactly what he wanted to do to me.
“You fucking disgusting pervert… You’re all the same. Fucking sick freaks… I hope you get raped… That’s what you want, right?”
I threw up. I received nasty glares when I stood back up, and hurried away from the scene.
That odd feeling I always had whenever Cole was around was now making me sick. I wanted that feeling gone. I needed it gone. I couldn’t stand it a second longer! I wanted to go back to my numb, but balanced life. Work. Working out. TV. Booze.
I should never have let Cole in it.
I hurried my steps when I heard his voice. I didn’t want to see him ever again.
“Lies! You want him to fuck you, pig!”
I gasped at the words. He never spoke those words to me, but now I could hear them loud and clear.
“Yeah, that’s right. You want that sick fuck to treat you like a bitch.”
“No, no, no, no… Stay the fuck away from me…” I muttered, not knowing who I was talking to anymore. I stopped and held my head, trying to claw my way inside to get rid of my father.
“You’d just love to get raped by him because you’re a fucking sick pig…”
“Leave me alone…”
“No, I won’t. You’re not well, Randall. Come – let’s go to my place. I’ll take care of you.”
“No! Stay away from me, you fucking rapist!”
I didn’t mean to yell it so loudly. The entire street stopped to stare at us. At me and Cole.
My father laughed inside my head.
“W-What?” Cole asked in shock, his eyes wide open.
“Stay away from me,” I growled at him, and continued walking.
Comments (11)See all