Roland Finds A Friend
by Pertinax Carrus
Roland Cartwright Lyle was now a senior at Clifton Preparatory School. He was a good student, a boy scout, and an athlete. He has recently shown a revived interest in equitation (he had been quite a rider when younger), and he played lacrosse and tennis for the school. On the Prep lacrosse team, Roland played as a mid fielder, called a middie by those acquainted with the sport. He was a good looking young man, blond haired and blue-green eyes, standing six foot already, and weighing 175 pounds. He was well proportioned, and filled out from his various athletic activities. Roland was also quite popular with both boys and girls, being a good teammate, a good dancer, and fun on a date or just hanging out. He often went on dates and took part in parties, but, despite rumors, had never actually engaged in vaginal intercourse with anyone.
The real downer in Roland’s life was his immediate family. His father, Augustus Octavius Lyle, was co-owner of the Cadillac dealership in town, and had the most vinegary personality imaginable. He only with difficulty restrained his naturally sour personality when dealing with important customers, but was avoided when at all possible by employees. His wife and first cousin, Eulalie, was heiress of a family with pretensions of grandeur entirely out of proportion to any real achievement. She was the consummate snob, spending her time playing cards at Madison Country Club and making snide remarks about everyone not present. Roland was the younger son. His brother, Brian, took after both parents in that he had the waspishness of Gus and the snobbishness of Eulalie. Brian was away at Harvard Business School at present, a situation which Roland wished to prolong as much as possible. Fortunately, Roland took after his grandparents and Uncle Jeff, the other co-owners of the dealership and people with much more pleasant personalities.
During the Christmas holidays, in part because of the new guy at school, John Luke Lansing, Roland came to terms within himself with the fact that he was gay. It happened in this way. John Luke had only come to Clifton Prep from elsewhere in the fall. He was a good looking young man, with dark brown hair and matching eyes, a bit shorter than Roland, but well built. He never raised the issue of his sexuality, and when he joined the lacrosse team, he showed he was as good as anyone else in the school. John Luke had played at his previous school, and had lots of experience. After discussing it with his parents, John Luke decided that, in their new location, he would not hide his sexual orientation, as he had been forced to do by the atmosphere in his previous school, a small institution in a Calvinist dominated northern countryside. Consequently, after the last game prior to Christmas, when he was caught looking at one of the other boys in the locker room and confronted, John Luke stated openly that he was gay, but assured his teammates that he would make no unwelcome moves on any of them.
Roland was the leading middie on the team, but he recognized that John Luke, a goalie, was a better overall player than he. When John Luke came out as gay on that December day, it was like a lightning strike for Roland. Up to this time, he had been refusing to consider the possibility that he might be gay because he associated homosexuality with a group of effeminate guys who dominated the scene in the drama program. His lack of excitement about the girls he dated, and his interest in the guys on the team and others, suddenly fell into place in his mind. He was so overwhelmed by this revelation that he paid little attention to the other guys arguing with and about John Luke. Finally, Brick Lomax, another of the leading players, directly addressed Roland.
“What do you say, Roland? Can we have this cocksucker on the team or not?”
Roland came out of his reverie. He looked at his teammates, all eyes now on him. He looked at John Luke, defiant but worried about Roland’s response. Slowly, he formulated an answer. “Did John Luke play a good game today?”
There was murmuring, looking from one player to another. Finally, there was agreement. John Luke had in fact put in a great performance.
“Are you planning to get in bed with John Luke?” Roland asked Brick.
“Shit no!” Brick yelled, and similar responses came back from other players.
“Then what do you care whether he’s gay or straight. Seems to me you ought to appreciate the fact that he’s leaving the girls to you.”
That did it. The team broke out in raucous laughs and cheers. Several guys pounded John Luke and Roland on the back. Only a hand full of diehards continued to object. Seeing they had lost the crowd, however, they backed off for now.
As the players completed dressing and began to leave the locker room, John Luke came up to Roland. “Thanks for the vote of confidence back there. I really appreciate it.”
“No sweat. Like I said, you play a great game. And it took guts to come out like that in front of everyone.”
“Where I was before, everything was very narrow and strict. There was no way I could have come out and lived to tell about it. When we moved last summer, I told my folks I was not going to pretend here, but just be myself. This was really the first time anyone challenged me.”
“Good show. Hey, you doing anything this afternoon?”
“Nothing special,” John Luke replied.
“Want to hang out?”
“Sure. I’d like that.”
They went to Roland’s place in his car, as John Luke did not have a car of his own, and Roland had a classy Porsche, which he had received on his sixteenth birthday. They talked about the team, and school, and what music and films they liked, in typical teen fashion, really getting to know each other on a basis beyond the lacrosse team. Finally, after about an hour, Roland got up the nerve to ask about being gay.
“It’s really cool that you can just come out and say you’re gay like that,” he said.
“Like I said, I got sooo tired of pretending.”
“Still, it took some guts. You didn’t know how the guys would react,” Roland insisted.
“The reaction might have been a lot different if you had not been there. That took some guts, too. I owe you big time. It would have pissed me off royally if the guys voted me off the team, or gave me the cold shoulder, you know,” John Luke pursued the topic. “I love the game.”
“You’re really good at it, too. Do you mind if I ask a couple of personal questions?”
“Like I said, I owe you. Go for it.”
“When did you know you were gay?”
“That’s kind of hard to say. I mean, I always liked being around boys more than girls. Not that I have anything against girls. I just feel more comfortable around guys, I guess. At least, I did until puberty hit, and I started having these sexual feelings. And they were always about other guys. That was kind of uncomfortable. Especially when I thought I might get beat up by the other guy.”
Roland laughed at that. “Yeah, I guess that would do it. Have you, you know, done it with another guy?”
“Not really. I mean, I got as far as feeling a guy up once. But then he avoided me for a week, and when we did finally talk, he said it was just fooling around, and I was not to tell anyone.”
“Kind of frustrating, I guess. But things are ... a little more ... flexible ... here in Clifton. Still no takers?”
“Naw. Not yet anyway. What with moving in, and working for my dad in his new store, and making the team, and the school being harder than my last one, I guess I haven’t had much social life.”
“Well, that’s going to change. I’ll see to that,” Roland promised
“Thanks. I’ll owe you even more.”
“Maybe I’ll ask more nosey questions.”
“How about you? I know you’re really popular and all, but do you have a girlfriend? I never see you with anyone special,” John Luke asked.
“No. No girlfriend. Just not sure about that yet,” Roland said equivocally.
After that, the two boys did hang out a lot, and Roland did see to it that John Luke got invited to parties and other social gatherings over the Christmas break. This ticked off the small group who were upset at finding that there was a gay member of the lacrosse team. Consequently, they made it a point to spread the news that John Luke was gay, and they hinted that Roland was too, since he and John Luke became such good buddies all of a sudden. It got to the point that a friend of Roland’s, Curtis Carridine, actually came up to him a day or two after the new semester began, and asked him outright whether he were gay.
“What the hell makes you ask that?” Roland responded angrily. He was definitely not ready to be outed to anyone at this point.
“Brick Lomax and your cousin Ed Cuttlesworth are saying you and John Luke Lansing have become cum buddies,” Curtis replied.
“Ed’s a horse’s ass. You know that. And Brick is ticked because I stood up for John Luke on the team. He’s a great goalie, and I don’t give a shit whether he’s gay or straight,” Roland insisted.
“No sex, huh?”
“Shit. That was a great story. The two leading hunks on the lacrosse team getting it on. Real press stoppers. And it would improve the image of the gay set on campus. Those freaks I deal with over in the drama department are sometimes too much even for me,” Curtis complained.
“Oh, I feel so sorry for you,” Roland panned.
“It ain’t easy being straight in the drama department,” Curtis persisted.
Several of those down on Roland and John Luke were not content to gossip among their peers, but passed their speculations along to their parents.
Meanwhile, Roland was working up the nerve to come out to John Luke. He was worried that his friend would think that all he was interested in was getting a blow job. It was his cousin Amy who came to the rescue, in a way. Amy was the daughter of his Uncle Jeff. She had heard all the rumors about Roland, and she knew him as well as anyone. They were both active horsemen, and also active in the CAR chapter. She approached Roland after school, and asked him to go have a coke with her. They found a booth at the Hot Box, a teen hang-out not far from campus.
“Okay, li’l cuz, what’s up?” Roland asked.
“You know there are all these rumors about you and John Luke.”
“Yeah, I know. Not to worry. Nothing has happened between me and John Luke.”
“Huh?” That response threw Roland completely off track.
“Well, I kind of figure you and he would be good for each other. Don’t you like him? You hang around with him a lot,” Amy persisted.
“Sure I like him. He’s a great friend and teammate. But we ....”
“Roland, look at me. It’s your cousin here. Also, need I remind you, your friend and confidant whenever you need to escape the horrors of your immediate family.”
“Yeah,” he chuckled, thinking of the many times he sought escape from his parents and older brother with his Lyle cousins. “But ....”
“Don’t shit me, Roland. Maybe you’re not ready to come out yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a relationship with John Luke.”
“Amy, I’m ....”
“Don’t shit me, Roland!” she insisted.
He just stared at her for what seemed like an hour. Finally, he broke down. “How’d you know?”
“Just because I know you better than just about anybody else. Now, the truth. Have you and John Luke done anything?”
“No. I haven’t admitted how I feel to anybody. I mean anybody! I just accepted it myself less than a month ago,” Roland admitted.
“Why not tell John Luke? He’s out. He’s not going to think any less of you,” Amy reasoned.
“He’s made a couple of comments about guys coming on to him since they heard he’s gay, just wanting him to suck their cocks. I don’t want him to think of me in that way.”
“Okay. That makes sense. It would be kind of like a guy coming on to a girl just to get his dick in her pussy, not really caring anything about her.”
“Exactly,” Roland agreed.
“Well, I’m sorry you’re caught in this dilemma, but I’m glad to know for sure what’s going on. Just remember, cuz, don’t shit me,” Amy warned.
“After today, I wouldn’t dare,” Roland laughed.
Amy gave her cousin’s situation some thought. She really liked Roland, and felt sorry for him with parents like Uncle Gus and Aunt Eulalie and a brother like Brian. She was glad she had the parents she did, and she really liked her brother Beau. Then it came to her. She would nudge things along by “accidently” running into John Luke and telling him about Roland. She knew that when he did not have practice John Luke worked after school at his father’s liquor store in the Albert Gallatin Building, but she could not go in any buy some wine or something, as she just turned seventeen in November. But, Amy was in the school orchestra, and could very convincingly go to ‘A Sweet Note,’ the music store there, which had a better selection of sheet music than just about anywhere else, especially for her instrument, the violin. So, on Tuesday, January 12, after school, Amy made her way to the Albert Gallatin. She did purchase some sheet music, but she hung around until she saw John Luke at work, restocking shelves. Then she went into the liquor store. She was stopped by an older man.
“Sorry, Miss, but I don’t think you’re old enough to be in here.”
“Oh, I’m not trying to buy anything. I just saw John Luke through the window, and stopped to say hi. We’re in school together,” Amy explained.
“In that case, I guess I can give him a few minutes break,” Gary Lansing said. Turning towards his son, he called, “John Luke, you have a visitor!”
John Luke looked, then came over. He knew Amy was Roland’s cousin, but they had never been close, so he was confused about her visit, but glad for the chance to take a break. He thought his father was a slave driver sometimes, as he was trying to get established in the new store.
“Hi, Amy. What’s up?”
“I came here to get some sheet music, but as I was leaving I saw you hard at work, so I though I’d stop in and say hi.”
“Glad you did. My old man is a slave driver,” John Luke said, looking at his father with a grin.
“Oh, is this your father?”
“Yeah. May I introduce the slave driver of the year, Mr. Gary Lansing. Dad, this is Amy Lyle.”
Gary harumpfed at the introduction, but greeted Amy, especially as he recognized the name Lyle as that of a prominent family. “The slave driver will allow the slave a few minutes of unaccustomed freedom,” Gary joked.
“Thanks, Dad,” John Luke said, as he led Amy out into the hallway, where there were a few benches for customers to sit. “My dad’s not really that bad,” he explained, “I just like to rile him sometimes.”
“He seemed nice. How are you finding it, moving to a new city and all?” Amy asked.
“I like it here much better than where we were before,” he replied.
“Even with Brick and Ed making waves and all?”
John Luke colored, but he answered, “Even with that. Back in my old place, I could not have come out at all without getting beat up. I can put up with their whisperings. I just feel sorry for Roland. He really stood up for me last month, and he’s been a good friend since, but I know he must be really embarrassed about the talk.”
“Yeah. Especially since he’s not ready to come out yet,” Amy coyly dropped her bombshell.
“What? What did you say?” John Luke excitedly asked.
“Roland can’t come out like you did. His parents are real Neanderthals. They wouldn’t understand.”
“Are you telling me Roland is gay?”
“Of course! You didn’t know? I thought you gay types were supposed to have some kind of built in radar or something to identify each other,” Amy teased.
“It’s called gaydar, but that’s a myth. At least, it never works for me. Maybe because all the gays back where I used to live had to be really deep in the closet. But, if Roland is gay, why hasn’t he ever said anything to me? You’re not just trying to pull something on me, are you?” John Luke anxiously enquired.
“No. Not at all. Oh, yeah, I remember. Roland said something about you getting hit on by guys who just wanted a blow job, and he didn’t want you to think that’s all he was interested in.”
“Really. But, hey, I’ve got to go. See you in school,” Amy said, as she pranced off.
“Yeah. See you.”
John Luke had a lot to think about that evening. By the next day, he had decided to break the log jam in his relationship with Roland, after first testing the waters to make sure Amy had been telling the truth. They had practice for the team after school, which went well, except when Brick purposely tripped Roland. The coach noticed, and called him down, saying clumsiness like that could cost the team a victory. That embarrassed Brick, and made him more resentful than ever. That evening, he complained to his father about the queers on the team holding them all back. Terry Lomax, Brick knew, was an acquaintance of Gus Lyle, and often met him at Rotary or the club.
After practice, John Luke said to Roland, “You got a few minutes?”
“Sure. What’s up?”
“Need to talk.”
They jumped in Roland’s Porsche, and jetted to Lycaeum Street following John Luke’s directions, as he needed to get home afterwards. There Roland pulled into the space for delivery vehicles next to the shelter house in Mansfield Park, and killed the motor.
“Okay. What’s so urgent?” Roland asked.
“I had a nice little talk with your cousin Amy yesterday.”
“Yeah. I’m afraid she kind of let the cat out of the bag. Told me some stuff about your family, and about you, that was really interesting.” John Luke teased.
“The little schemer! I’m going to kill her!”
“Just be up front with me, Roland. Are you gay or not?”
“Yeah, I am. Damn it’s embarrassing that Amy told you!” Roland admitted.
“Why not tell me yourself?”
“I just recently came to grips with it. In fact, it was you who helped me realize the truth. But, man, if my folks found out, I’d be fried. I mean deep shit,” Roland lamented.
“Yeah. Amy kind of mentioned that. But why not tell me? Shit, Roland, you know I’m gay. We talked about it often enough. I was beginning to think you were doing a sociology research paper on gays, with all the questions,” John Luke said with a grin.
Roland could not help but laugh at that. He replied, “I did not want you to think I was like those other guys, who only wanted you to suck their cocks.”
“But I already knew that. I knew you were my friend. I may not have gaydar, but I do have common sense. A guy like you does not go around associating with someone like me just to get a blow job. Remember, you stood up for me. I owe you.”
“No, John Luke. It was when you stood up for yourself that I realized who I really am. I owe you.”
“Maybe then, we can pay each other back,” John Luke said, as he leaned over and kissed Roland. It was a first, tentative kiss, but it led to many more, not tentative at all.
But Brick had been busy, too, and so had his father. The next afternoon at the club, Terry Lomax approached Gus Lyle. “Look here, don’t think you can get away with all this pandering to the politically correct just to cop a few votes. My boy deserves the first spot at the goal.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh yes you do. I know you have political ambitions, but I won’t have it that your queer son gives favors to that god-awful liquor salesman’s son. They can have their little games all they want, but not at the expense of the Lomax family, you hear!”
“Are you trying to tell me my son is queer? And is consorting with the lower classes?”
“Surely you know what is going on in your own home, Lyle. Everyone else does. Your boy may play lacrosse, but he’s as queer as a three dollar bill, and he’s backing that new boy who just arrived from God knows where because they’re both the same. Brick says it’s all over the school. Now I won’t have it!”
Gus shoved Lomax aside and took off for home. When he arrived, he yelled for Roland, who was in his room doing homework. Before Roland could respond to this unusual and unexpected call, his father burst into his room.
“What the hell have you been up to? I have to be insulted in the club, of all places, with your filthy perversions!”
“Dad, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t know! Don’t know! Terry Lomax tells me the whole school knows! You and some lower class pervert! Playing favorites in return for disgusting queer sex!”
“That’s not true! I never had sex with anyone! Brick Lomax is just jealous because John Luke is a better goalie than he is!”
“Just answer me one thing. Are you or are you not a disgusting queer?”
Roland squared his shoulders. “I am not disgusting. But yes, I’m gay.”
“Then get out of my house, you pervert! I don’t ever want to see you again! You have embarrassed me in front of the whole club! Get out! Now!”
“You’re more concerned about what someone says at the club than about your own son?
How perverted is that?”
“Get out! Get out!” Gus roared, grabbing Roland and shoving him forward.
“At least let me get some things ....”
“No! No! Out! Out!” Gus shouted, grabbing Roland again, this time by the arm, and impelling him out of his room, down the stairs, and out the front door, which slammed shut behind him. Roland heard the lock click as he picked himself up from where he had been shoved by his irate father. It was January, and Roland had no coat. Fortunately, he did have his car keys in his pocket, so he went around the house to the garage, and got in his car. But where to go? Only one place really made sense, so he drove over to his grandparents place, and made his way up to his grandmother’s lounge. She looked up as he entered.
“Well, don’t you look flushed? And no coat? It’s cold outside, young man.”
“I know, Grandma, but I had no choice in the matter.”
“No choice?” Tillie asked, “What do you mean?”
So Roland explained what had just happened. He made no attempt to cover up the fact that he admitted to being gay, but insisted that he had done nothing beyond a few kisses with John Luke. He was crying copiously by the time he finished.
“Do you mean to tell me your father simply threw you out? With no place to go? Without even a winter coat?”
“Yes, Grandma. That’s what happened.”
“That boy is becoming more like the Cuttlesworth side of the family every day. Well, you will certainly stay here until you’re ready to leave. Now, let’s go down and have something warm to drink,” Tillie said.
“Thank you, Grandma. I knew I could count on you and Grandpa.”
Over coffee, Tillie asked, “What were you doing when your father arrived home?”
“And where are your books? Oh, silly question.”
“Yeah. Same place as my coat,” Roland grinned.
Tillie considered for a moment. “This boy John Luke, is he in the same classes as you?”
“About half the same.”
“Then until we get your books back from your father, you’ll have to borrow his. Why not ask him to come over so you can study together this evening after dinner?”
Roland jumped up and hugged his grandmother. “Thanks,” he said, as he pulled out his cell phone.
The telephone was used by Tillie as well. She called her elder son, and gave him a generous piece of her mind, ending by refusing him the house until he accepted his son back. When Dolph came home from the office, he was immediately inundated with the events of the afternoon. He called Gus as well, which resulted in a shouting match, and a confirmation of the exile from the parental home.
John Luke arrived about 7:30, and was introduced to Roland’s grandparents. Then the two boys retired to the room assigned Roland. They got very little accomplished as far as homework was concerned, however. Roland related the story of the afternoon’s adventures, then the two discussed it at length. They kissed, then talked some more. John Luke just hugged Roland and held him, as he could only imagine what it must be like to be rejected by one’s parents. His father had not been very pleased to find that he was gay, but there was no hint of this kind of rejection. They also discussed what to do tomorrow at school.
On Friday, there was tension in the corridors at Clifton Prep. When Roland encountered Brick after their first class period, he confronted him with spreading lies, and with the consequences. Brick responded that he deserved it for being a disgusting cocksucker. A scuffle ensued, but was broken up by their respective friends as teachers began to appear. Throughout the day, the news spread from one person to another, until a large contingent of the student body knew something of what had occurred. Curtis Carridine and Malcolm Colefield came up to express support for Roland, as did his cousin Amy, of course, and others. There was practice that afternoon, as there was a game the next day. Before practice began, Roland and John Luke went to the coach’s office. They told him they wished to resign from the team, as they could not play on a team with Brick after what he had been doing. Roland then explained about Brick’s father and his father, and how he was now living at his grandparents’ place. The coach considered for a moment. Then he said, “We’ll let the team decide.” He called the entire team together, and had Roland and John Luke explain again why they wanted to resign. Brick was looking pretty satisfied. Then the coach asked Brick what he had to say for himself. He looked surprised, but, under some prodding, admitted to spreading stories about Roland and John Luke, and complaining to his father about favoritism, because he did not think it right for queers to be on a team with real men. The coach then told the team they had to decide whether they wanted to play with Roland and John Luke, or with Brick. He passed out small squares of paper, and told them to vote. The three in question were not allowed to vote, but stood at the end of the room, on either side of the coach. The coach himself collected the ballots and counted them while Brick and the two gay boys glared at each other. Brick received three votes. There were three blanks. Everyone else voted to play with Roland and John Luke. The coach announced the results, then said, “The team has decided. Turn in your equipment, Brick. If the three who voted with Brick think they cannot play with Roland and John Luke, then leave now. We don’t need internal dissension during tomorrow’s game.” Brick and Ed Cuttlesworth threw their gear on the floor and stomped out, cursing loudly. Prep won the game on Saturday.
Thanks to Colin for editing.