Directionally Challenged (by Grant Bentley)

Directionally Challenged

By Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing or sport seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

All my life I’ve been what my father called directionally challenged. Now what the hell does that mean? Well, it means that when I was visiting my grandpa, I could leave his condo, travel two blocks north and three blocks west, skateboard for three hours at the skate park, and on my way back end up eleven blocks north and four blocks east of his condo, where I was supposed to be. That was after phoning him twice to tell him where I was and getting directions on how to get from where I was to his building. The third time I called, he told me to stay where I was and he would come and get me.

“How the hell did you end up way down here?” he asked laughing when he picked me up.

“I don’t know,” I replied, and I really didn’t know. So there you have it: directionally challenged, that’s me.

North, south, east, west, left and right weren’t the only directions I got screwed up. There was one other direction that didn’t work right for me either. Yep, you guessed it, the direction of attraction I experienced when I reached my teens. You see, when all my buddies began directing their attraction towards girls, I was directing my attraction towards them. Seeing a picture of a naked girl made me go ‘???’ Seeing a picture of a naked guy made me go ‘!!!’

Now I may have been directionally challenged, but I wasn’t intellectually challenged. I knew immediately that my direction of attraction had to be kept secret. I had heard all the words: homo, fag, queer, faggot, bender, butt…well you know. So there was one direction I tried to learn very quickly. That was the direction into the closet. I thought it would be easy; you know, find the direction in, get in there and forget about it. Well it wasn’t that easy. Considering all the times I’ve gotten lost, I figured getting lost in the closet would be a given. I’d find my way in and never find my way out again. Well, wouldn’t you know it, finding my way out turned out to be easier than finding my way in.

Never mind left, right, north or south, now I had to know in from out. In was good. Out was bad. Should be simple, right? Not a chance. Suddenly, I had to become very aware of a whole new set of directional signals. It wasn’t just learning in and out. For example, there were all the things that could not happen in the boys’ locker room and showers…like, way too many to list here. There were things that were acceptable to say and things that weren’t…she’s cute—good, he’s cute—bad. There was a time allotment involved in looking at guys…ten seconds—good, twenty seconds or longer—bad. I’d actually lie awake at night mentally making lists of ‘in things’ and ‘out things’. It was a nightmare.

Then one bright and sunny Wednesday afternoon, worrying about in and out became a non-issue. First, I broke the time allotment rule during swimming class in P.E. I stared at Wes Taylor’s ass too long. Now, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I also broke the acceptable things to say rule. When John Roberts came up to me and said, “Nice ass,” I dreamily replied, “Yeah.” Big mistake, and since we were in swimming class, I think ‘dead in the water’ would have been an appropriate term for me at that moment. It took John about thirty seconds to walk over to Wes and say something to him. Wes turned and looked at me for a second, grinned, and then turned away. I felt totally humiliated.

The last ten minutes of class and the two minutes it took me to get dressed and run from the locker room were the longest twelve minutes of my life. I not only ran from the locker room, I ran from the school and didn’t stop running until I was standing in the middle of the High Level Bridge, looking some hundred and ten feet down at the river below. There was no ‘in’ anymore. Before the day was over, John and those thirty-two boys would see to it that the entire high school population knew. I was now about as ‘out’ as it was possible to be. I have no idea how long I stood there on the bridge before I felt someone’s arms wrap around me from behind. It could have been one minute, two minutes, or an hour.

“Don’t even think about it,” was whispered into my ear. I turned, wrapped my arms around whoever it was, and sobbed my heart out for a good five minutes. When I was finally all cried out, I leaned my head on the person’s shoulder for probably another two minutes and just basked in the comfort of being held. Finally, I relaxed my hold on whoever it was and moved back enough to see him. It could have been anyone from a homeless person to the mayor, I had no idea. When I did look into the face of my comforter, I was looking into the face of Wes Taylor.

“You gonna be okay?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied, and I really didn’t know.

“Come on,” he said as he took my hand and started to lead me down the walk and off the bridge.

As we left the bridge and walked into the north end of the park, I realized he was still holding my hand. We walked down the hillside a little way before he sat down under a huge old oak tree and pulled me down beside him. As soon as I was sitting down, he put his arm around my shoulder and pulled me into him and I leaned my head on his shoulder.

I’m not sure how long we sat there. It might have been five minutes before he finally spoke. “Sandy, it’s okay, you know,” he said softly.

“What is?” I asked.

“It’s okay to be gay,” he responded as he gave me a little squeeze.

“No…it’s not,” I said as my eyes filled with tears again. “Everybody’s going to hate me now. Besides, how would you know?”

“Well, first off, everybody doesn’t hate me,” he replied. “So why would they hate you?”

I lifted my head off his shoulder so I could look at him. He was looking back at me with a gentle smile.

“You,” I said barely above a whisper. “You…?”

“Yeah, me,” he said almost as quietly.

“People know?” I asked in amazement.

“I thought everybody knew,” he replied.

“I…I didn’t,” I finally got out.

“I came out two years ago,” he said, “in grade nine. I mean, I don’t run around waving a flag or anything, but I’m proud of who I am and I refuse to hide it.”

“Proud?” I asked.

“Yeah, proud,” he said with conviction. “It’s who we are…who we’re meant to be. Why shouldn’t we be proud of who we are? Why should we let some homophobic bullshit from a bunch of half-witted bigots dictate how we feel about ourselves? If we were created gay then we’re meant to be gay, and if we’re meant to be gay then we shouldn’t be scared and hiding and lying about who we are. We should be standing tall with our heads held high.”

“You really believe that?” I asked.

He gave me another squeeze and a big grin this time as he said, “Yeah, I really believe that.”

Just then, his cell phone started to play ‘Sexy Back’ and he pulled it out of his pocket and answered, “Hey Jake. I’m in the park at the north end of the High Level. Sandy’s with me. Can you pick us up? Kay, see you in five.”

“Jake?” I questioned.

“You really are out of touch aren’t you?” he said. “I think you’ve been putting so much energy into hiding who you are, you’ve forgotten to look around to see who the rest of us are.”

“Yeah, maybe. It’s all I’ve thought about since I figured it out,” I said.

“Well, it’s time to stop,” he said as he gave me another squeeze. “And I promise you, you won’t be alone.”

“I guess I don’t have much choice do I?” I said. “I’m out now whether I want to be or not.”

“To some of us you are,” he stated.

“How did you know I was here?” I asked as it suddenly struck me: I live in the other direction. How did he know where to find me?

“That’s easy,” he said. “When you ran out, I was right behind you.”

“You ran all this way?” I asked.

“Not quite as fast as you did. But then, I’m not on the track team,” he said with a chuckle. “When I realized you were heading for the bridge, yeah, I ran all this way.”

“I don’t know what to say,” I responded. “Thanks.”

Just then, we spotted Jake jogging across the park towards us and we stood up.

“Sorry babe,” Wes said to him. “There just wasn’t time to let you know what was happening.”

“No probs,” he responded as he gave Wes a quick kiss. “Jamie let me know what was going down. He and the rest of the guys are at the club.”

“You wanna meet the rest of the guys?” Wes asked with a grin. “I think you might be surprised.”

“Well, first you and now Jake,” I said with a grin.

“You didn’t know about us?” Jake asked.

“Nope,” I replied.

“Wes and I walk down the hallway holding hands half the time,” he said, laughing.

“No shit,” I said. “Really?”

“Yeah, really,” Wes responded.

“Oh my God,” I said with a laugh. “I really have been wrapped up in myself, haven’t I?”

“Not to worry,” Jake said, grinning. “Now you know you’re not alone, maybe you can relax and look around.”

“I don’t know about relax,” I said. “It still scares the fuck out of me right now.”

“You’ll be okay,” Wes said as he gave me a little hug. “Like I said, you won’t be alone. There are lots of us crawling the halls of Wilcox High.”

We wandered slowly across to the parking lot. Sitting there was the coolest new Camaro. I’d seen pictures of them, but this was the first one I had seen in real life. It was…WOW.

“This is your car? I love it!” I exclaimed.

“Thanks,” he replied. “It was a gift from my grandfather. He said he wants to live long enough to see us enjoy his money rather than inherit it after he’s gone. He bought something for everyone. My brother got a Cadillac XLR-V.”

“You have a cool grandpa,” I said. “Very cool.”

Fifteen minutes later, we were pulling up in front of the club. Above the door was a small sign. It was a rainbow with the words Rainbow Club written on it in white letters. Again, I wondered where I had been for the last year or so. It was only four blocks from my house and I must have walked past it a hundred times.

There were at least twenty-five kids there. As I glanced around the room, I realized I knew most if them. It was like a recurring dream. How could I have gone to school with these guys…and girls…for all these years, and not had a clue they were gay? As soon as we walked in, several of the guys came over and gave me a quick hug. They all asked how I was doing and if I was okay. I told them that thanks to Wes, I was definitely doing okay. And now, after meeting all of them, I was going to be more than okay. I knew I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t going to have to face everyone at school without support.

“Grab something to drink and join us,” Rob said with a smile just as Jamie and Scott came over with a bunch of cans of Coke. They gave one to each of us and we wandered over to the table they were sitting at. We sat and visited for at least an hour. Most of the conversation revolved around our experiences following our realizations that we were gay. Everyone had a story.

Some were casual about it right from the start. Wes said when he realized he was gay, the first thing he did was tell his parents. He laughed because they had figured it out long before he did and were totally unphased by his revelation. He said it was almost disappointing since he had spent hours preparing what he would say to defend himself.

Some, like me, had a hard time dealing with it, especially the fear of being found out. We had spent years hiding it. Some of them finally came out after meeting someone special. Some of them, like me, had broken one of the rules of closet dwelling and been outed.

Two of the guys had attempted suicide, which really shocked me. Jimmy still had the scars on his neck from the rope. He had tried to hang himself in the garage about fifteen seconds before his brother opened the door to park the car. His brother had cut him down and after several hours of talk, tears and hugs, his brother and parents convinced him he was loved no matter what. As it turned out, his parents were totally accepting, but they were devastated that he felt he couldn’t tell them. They blamed themselves for a long time. It wasn’t until after several sessions of family counselling that they realized no one was to blame.

Out of the ten guys at the table, only two of them had been disowned by their parents and they were living with relatives. Jesse was living with his older sister and Roy was living with his aunt and uncle. Neither had seen or spoken to their parents for more than a year.

Not all of the guys still living at home had full parental acceptance and understanding, but their parents were not going to give them up because they were gay. They had kind of decided they knew, but it wouldn’t be talked about, at least not for now–although James said his parents were slowly coming around. When he was with his boyfriend, Ryan, and ran into them at the mall a couple of weeks ago, they were very friendly and courteous. Later that evening his mom had even mentioned that Ryan seemed like a very nice boy.

I have to say I really had my eyes opened that afternoon. The good thing was that everyone there had come to terms with and accepted himself or herself. They had each other’s support and friendship, and most importantly, they knew they were not alone. They knew they were not freaks. They knew they were the way they were meant to be. They were gay and being gay was okay. It was good. It was right. It was normal.

The number of guys began to gradually dwindle as they headed for home, dinner, chores, and homework. Soon, it was just Wes, Jake, Jamie, and I.

“Do your parents know?” Jake asked.

“It’s just me and my dad,” I replied. “And no, he doesn’t know.”

“How do you think he’ll react?” Jamie asked.

“I don’t know, he’s a pretty straight and narrow kinda guy,” I responded.

“You scared to tell him?” Jake asked.

“Yeah, but he’s going to find out now that it’s all over school,” I said. “I’d rather he heard it from me.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be all over school,” Wes said. “John wouldn’t do that.”

“Sooner or later it will be,” I stated. “If John didn’t say anything, the next guy I screw up with will.”

“You want Jake and I to be there?” Wes asked.

“You would do that for me?” I asked.

“Yeah, of course,” he replied.

“I’d kinda like to be there too…if that’s okay,” Jamie said with a shy smile.

I looked at him for a second or two and smiled back. “I’d like that, thanks,” I replied.

That got me a little jab and a big grin from Jake as he looked at me and then at Jamie. I just grinned and jabbed him back.

We decided to walk since it was only four blocks. I can’t tell you how scared I was as we walked up the front walk and onto the front steps. I was literally shaking. Jamie put his hand on my shoulder and gave a little squeeze. “Remember, no matter what happens, you will never be alone,” he reassured me. I gave him a weak smile and opened the door.

“Hey boys,” my dad said as we walked into the kitchen.

“Hey,” we all responded.

When we all just kind of stood there for several seconds, Dad gave us a curious look. “Okay, what did you break?” he asked with a grin.

“Nothing,” I replied. “There’s something I need to tell you though and I don’t quite know how.”

“Easiest way I know of is to just come right out and say it,” he responded.

“Yeah, I guess,” I said. Then, after several more seconds, I took a deep breath. “Dad, I love you and I don’t want to lose you, but you need to know something about me…Dad…I’m…well, I’m gay.

Dad just sat there for what seemed like the longest time as Wes, Jake, Jamie and I stood there. I was so scared. Just the thought of losing my dad was more than I could handle. I felt Jamie’s hand on my shoulder and the tears started to flow.

After what was actually only twenty seconds or so, Dad looked at me and smiled. He got up and pulled me into a deep, powerful hug. After a minute, he pulled back, looked me in the eyes and grinned. “I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised,” he said. “You always have been directionally challenged.”

I can’t explain the relief I felt at that moment as I replied, “Yeah I guess I am. I was so scared you would be disappointed in me. I love you so much I couldn’t handle that.”

“I love you too son,” he responded as he gave me a squeeze. “Why the hell did you think I’d be disappointed? You’re gay, so what?”

“Not a lot of people see it that way,” I replied.

“I think you might be surprised,” he said. “I know we hear a lot of negative shit, but it mostly comes from a minority of loud, vocal, small-minded, bigoted fools. Most people don’t care. They’re just not very vocal about it.”

“I guess,” I said.

“So, are you going to introduce me to your friends?” he asked.

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” I replied as I turned and pointed out each of the guys. “This Jamie, Wes, and Jake.”

“Hi boys,” Dad said as he shook their hands. “I’m Ross.”

“Hi,” each of the guys responded.

Dad offered them each a Coke, dug out a box of cookies and we sat around visiting for a good half hour before the guys had to get home for dinner and to do their homework.

After they left, Dad looked at me and grinned.

“What?” I asked.

“Young Jamie seems quite taken with you,” he replied.

I’m not sure, but I think I set the record for deepest, darkest, blush at that moment, and maybe the record for the biggest smile, too. Not just because I thought Jamie was a dream come true, but because my dad was cool enough about me being gay to give me a hard time about another boy.

“Ya think?” I said.

“I think,” Dad responded grinning. “And I think it’s mutual.”

“I can’t believe you’re so cool about everything,” I said.

“Let me ask you something, Sandy,” he responded. “When was the last time you went on a date with a girl?”

“Uh, never,” I replied.

“When was the last time you brought a girl home?” he asked.

“Uh, never,” I replied with a grin.

“When was the last time you told me about some hot girl at school?” he asked.

“Uh, never,” I said, laughing at this point.

“Exactly,” he said. “I had you figured out more than a year ago; so I’ve had lots of time to come to terms with having a gay son.”

“Did it bother you at first?” I asked.

“No, not at all,” he said with a smile. “Maybe because I had a gay roommate for fifteen years.”

“What?” I asked.

“Are you going to sit there and tell me you thought Sean was just Uncle Jesse’s roommate? They’ve been together since before you were born,” he said with a laugh.

“I never thought about it,” I replied. “Although they did sit together, sleep together, and hug a lot, whenever they were here. Whoa…cool!”

“Jesse didn’t think so when he first came out to me when he was fourteen,” Dad said. “Things were a lot different then. There were no GSA’s, no internet or support groups. In fact it was still considered a mental disorder. You may have felt you were alone, but at least you could go online and know there were other guys like you and it was okay. There was nothing like that for him, so you can imagine how he felt. He had no idea how to deal with it. I was his last hope.”

“Last hope?” I queried.

“Yeah,” Dad replied as his eyes teared up a little. “He had Dad’s handgun hidden under his pillow. If my reaction had been even remotely negative, he would have ended it all that night. Thank God it wasn’t.”

“What did you do when he told you?” I asked.

Dad grinned and replied, “I told him I loved him and, no matter what, he would always be my little brother. Then I held him for the next half hour while he cried.”

“Oh my God,” I exclaimed as I stepped in and gave my dad a hug. “Considering how good I feel right now, I can imagine how good that would have made him feel…knowing you accepted him and still loved him. Especially way back in those days. Wow.”

“WAY back in those days?” Dad asked with a grin. “We’re not that old kiddo.”

“I’m gonna phone him,” I said, full of excitement.

“I think he’d like that,” Dad said.

I grabbed the phone and hit his speed dial number. After a couple of rings, Sean answered. “Hi Sean, is Uncle Jesse there?”

“He’s right here,” Sean answered. “You sound a little excited.”

“Yeah, having a good day,” I replied.

The next voice I heard was Uncle Jesse’s. “Hey Sandy, we don’t hear from you that often, so what’s up?”

“I kissed a boy and I liked it,” I almost shouted into the phone. Okay, so I should have said I was going to kiss a boy and like it, but that didn’t seem nearly as interesting.

There was silence for a few seconds, then I could here Sean laughing in the background. “You kissed a boy?” Uncle Jesse asked, stifling a laugh.

“Yeah…Jamie,” I replied.

“And you liked it?” he asked.

“Uh huh,” I answered.

“Did he like it?” Sean asked.

“You guys got me on speaker phone?” I asked.

“Of course,” Sean replied. “I’m not gonna miss out on this. So? Did he like it?”

“He was kissing ME, so obviously…yeah,” I replied.

“There’s no doubt whose kid you are,” Uncle Jesse said, laughing.

“Hey, when ya got it, ya got it,” I answered with a laugh.

“So let me guess,” Uncle Jesse said. “You just came out to your dad and he put you up to this.”

“I just came out to dad, yeah, but it was my idea to phone you,” I responded.

“He told you about me?” he questioned.

“Yeah, and I thought I had it rough,” I replied. “Maybe we can talk about it sometime.”

“I haven’t thought about those days for years,” he replied. “So yeah, maybe we can swap traumatic stories.”

“Well mine aren’t that traumatic. I wasn’t freaked about being gay. I was mostly scared of the guys finding out,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s a slightly different world today,” he responded.

“Unfortunately, it’s only slightly different,” Sean added.

“Yeah, well, one day, maybe,” I said.

“So, your gay uncle has a gay nephew,” Uncle Jesse responded with a chuckle, to lighten the mood.

“Who has a gay boyfriend already,” Sean added laughing. “Jamie right?”

“Yeah, Jamie,” I replied. “I can’t wait for you to meet him. He’s a really sweet guy.”

We talked for at least another half hour about everything, from staring at Wes’s ass too long, to telling dad why. We also got into how school was going and how I was doing in track. As we were chatting away, I realized this was probably the first time the three of us had actually talked for more than three minutes, and I wished I had realized how cool they were to talk to a long time ago. When Dad tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to dinner on the table, I finally said dinner was ready and I had better eat before it got cold. As we said good-bye, I asked when they would be up here again. We decided that the next long weekend was Thanksgiving, so if Dad and I didn’t have any big plans they would be here for Thanksgiving. I asked Dad and his response was simple. We didn’t have plans before, but we do now and it was set.

Dad and I talked over dinner. We spent a lot of time talking about my fears of being found out. We talked about the stories I heard from the guys at the clubhouse. All he did when I was relating how some of the guys had been disowned was shake his head.

“I will never understand people as long as I live,” he said. “What part of unconditional do they not understand when it comes to loving their children?”

“I think a lot of people are more concerned about how their friends and neighbours see them than they are about their responsibility to their kids,” I responded. “Society today is driven by social status and power. These ‘for the family’ and ‘family values’ religious nuts aren’t concerned about family values, or Christian values for that matter. I bet most of them have been divorced at least once. And if they’re willing to disown their own children, what the hell do they know about the value of family?”

“You know, you’re absolutely right,” Dad responded.

“I’ve thought about it a lot,” I continued, “I was terrified of being outed for two years…two whole years. Why? Because these bigoted assholes have made it okay to hate and bully gays. They call us an abomination and say we shouldn’t be allowed the same rights as everyone else. But it has nothing to do with their beliefs, just their need to feel powerful and self-righteous. I mean, they quote Old Testament laws, like in Leviticus, that even Jesus said were invalid two thousand years ago…and then they only quote the ones they like. They’re just modern day Pharisees.”

“You really have been thinking about this,” Dad said with a smile.

“Yeah I have,” I said. “Almost all day every day.”

“I wish you had come to me sooner then,” he stated. “I would have seen to it that you wouldn’t have had go through all that.”

“I think it made me stronger though,” I responded. “It made me think about what they were saying and realize it was bigoted bullshit. Unfortunately, it didn’t make coming out seem any easier.”

“It’s never easy when you feel you’re alone and every one is against you, whether you know they’re full of shit or not,” Dad said as he squeezed my shoulder. “At least now you know you’re not alone at school. You have some pretty supportive friends in those three boys.”

“I know,” I said, smiling.

“You have homework?” he asked.

“Probably, but I kinda ran out of the school and forgot my books in my locker,” I replied. “I don’t think there was anything due for tomorrow though. I’ll just have to work that much harder to get Friday’s assignments done tomorrow night.

“If you don’t have any homework, you can do the dishes and clean up the kitchen from dinner then,” he said, laughing, as he wandered towards the living room and his recliner.

“Now I know why you had kids: cheap labour. I love you too,” I said with a grin.

“Sorry, I missed that. What did you say?” he replied, still laughing.

About half an hour later, I was just finishing up when the phone rang. I ran over and picked it up. It was Jamie. I told Dad who it was and got a knowing smile from him as I disappeared into my room. Jamie and I talked for at least two hours. We talked about everything. I don’t think there is a single topic two guys could talk about that we missed…except girls. We closed our conversation with the promise to meet up and walk to school together in the morning. Jamie would be coming by at 8:00. Things were definitely looking up.

The next morning, I was actually up early. I showered, brushed my teeth twice, put on double deodorant, and my favourite cologne. It took forever to get my hair just right, and I think I changed clothes three times before I was happy with myself. As I came down for breakfast, Dad just stood and stared at me for a minute.

"You know Jamie liked you the way you were," he said with a grin. "I don’t think he was looking for a GQ model to show up this morning."

"You think I overdid it?" I asked, feeling a little foolish.

"Here, let me help," he said as he ruffled my hair, grabbed a towel from by the sink, wet it and washed half the cologne off my neck. "There…better," he said as he rolled up the towel to snap me with it.

I ran for my room before he got the chance, looked at myself in the mirror, took off my shirt, grabbed one of my favourite T-shirts, pulled it on, ruffled my hair a little more, and ran back to the kitchen.

"That’s better," Dad said. "Now you look like the Sandy he’ll actually recognize."

"Thanks Dad," I said with a grin as I sat down and poured myself some cereal.

"See you after school. Have a good day," Dad said as he grabbed his jacket and headed for the door and to work.

"Thanks, you too," I responded.

At exactly 8:01, the doorbell rang. I grabbed my jacket and headed for the door to meet up with Jamie. I don’t know if I had seen anyone look quite so excited and happy about going to school. Jamie looked like I might have looked on Christmas morning when I was ten. His mood instantly transferred to me and we set out for school. Anyone seeing us would have sworn we had found some new ‘happy drug’. I’m actually surprised no one asked us to share whatever it was we were on.

As we walked through the front gate of the school, Jamie laced his fingers through mine and we walked up to the front doors hand-in-hand. I’m sure we got more than a few stares, and maybe a few comments. But my focus was on Jamie’s hand in mine and I couldn’t have cared less about anything or anybody else. We hadn’t gone ten feet down the hallway before, Wes and Jake greeted us and were walking hand-in-hand right beside us. A few seconds later, I felt someone bump my left shoulder. I looked over and it was John Roberts.

"You scared the hell out of us when you ran off like that," he semi-scolded.

"Excuse me?" I questioned.

"If Wes hadn’t been right behind you, I would probably have hurt myself trying to catch up to you. I’m a wrestler. I’m not exactly built for speed you know," he said with a grin.

Even though Wes said he wouldn’t, I was still surprised and asked, "You didn’t tell the guys what I said?"

"Why would I do that?" he asked.

"Cause I kinda outed myself," I replied.

"Oh, hell, I had that figured out a long time ago," he said. "I just thought Wes would find it funny that you thought he had a cute ass."

"So you didn’t tell anyone?" I asked again, this time with a smile.

"Just the guys in the club," he replied.

"You’re gay too?" I asked.

"Fuck no," he responded with a chuckle. "My brother Jesse is, though, and the old man kicked him out for it. He’s living with my sister, Linda. We used to share a room. I really miss having him around."

"I’m sorry," I said.

"We see each other at school and I go over to Linda’s a lot, so it could be worse," he said.

"So not everybody knows I’m gay then?" I questioned.

"Uh, you just walked up the front steps and into the school holding hands with Jamie," he replied, laughing.

I glanced at Jamie and he kind of blushed and smiled. I simply smiled back and squeezed his hand. My life was certainly going to be interesting. Being directionally challenged was going to ensure me of that. One direction that was not going to be a challenge, though, was the direction to Jamie’s heart. I squeezed his hand again as my smile became a grin. Life was good.

A very special thanks to Azy for his time and hard work editing this story for me.