Joey made the decision to leave his small Midwestern town to attend college out of state. He’s been gone a school year and it is his first night back in town. Alec calls and invites Joey to a beer party at his lake cabin with Chuck and Bennie. The night is an unpleasant reminder of how slowly things change, in a town like Chesterville.
Chesterville: A Town Too Tough for Change
By Angela Rasch
“Grandpa’s so excited to see you he’s been chewing my ear off with plans,” my mother said. I had just brought in the last box from the U-Haul. Mom and I had thought about getting a storage unit near my college for the summer. In the end, I decided there were some things I wouldn’t need next year at college, so I brought everything home to sort things out.
“Is he coming over for supper,” I asked. My grandfather was born the year Miracle on 34th Street came out. Every time I had been to his house for Christmas he played it for us. I never got tired of it. When I heard ads for that movie on TV I thought of the baseball gloves and footballs he had given me for Christmas over the years,
I did almost lose patience with him when he told us “It’s all the fault of that damned Eisenhower.” Grandpa tied everything bad that happened in our little town of Chesterville to the government’s decision in the 1950’s to run the Interstate fifteen miles to the north of us. From that day forward the population of out town dwindled from a high of nearly fifteen thousand, to the 2010 census figure of 6,892.
If Chesterville found itself in a situation it didn’t like it had choices. It could sit a stew about what might have been, which many like my grandfather did, or it could make the needed changes and prosper. For example; instead of continuing to run a junior college, why didn’t they push for full four-year status and find an academic niche in which to excel? It seemed like they cared more about fielding a winning football team than actually succeeding
“Your grandpa wants to take us all out to eat at Hardees,” Mom said. “I told him you like the french fries at the Big Bucket better.
People tried to make Chesterviile work. A community program owned the theater so we still got first run movies, but it only got by with some volunteer labor. We got all the second-rate franchises, which my grandfather said, “We're plenty good enough, considering what that damned Eisenhower did to us.” Eastling was the town on the interstate, and they, of course, had a McDonald’s and a Burger King.
“I’m fine with Hardees,” I said. “You can’t always get what you want.” I caught a glimpse in the mirror and hardly recognized myself. In order to try to fit in I had reverted as much as possible to how I had looked nine months before, when I went away to college for my Freshman year.
I had selected my college scientifically. It had to be a top-tier academic school. Our counselor said that people who went more than 400 miles away to college would drop out about 65% of the time. I didn’t want to fight those odds so I picked a liberal arts college, with an extremely liberal world view, in a town with good access to healthcare, that was located 378 miles away from Chesterville.
The front screen door slammed behind my father while he bolted into the room obviously eager to see me. “Joey!” he shouted. “I almost forgot you were coming home today.”
“He’s lying!” Mom said with a grin, looking happier than she had in several years. “Bill, you know you’ve hardly talked about anything else for weeks. I think everyone in town has heard about Joey coming home today.”
“I suppose I didn’t need to run a banner headline,” he joked. Dad was still the publisher of the local paper, although it had gone from seven issues a week to five. If anything happened over the weekend it had to wait for the Monday edition. To make ends meet, Dad taught creative writing at the junior college. About half my graduating class went to the junior college, which was two blocks from our house. About a third of my class, mainly guys, either went into the service or were over-the-road truckers.
Most of the other kids went to instate schools, mainly in the state university system. Mary, Megan, Alexis, Rhonda, and I were the only ones who had gone out of state.
“You’re supposed to call Alec,” my dad said. “I saw him at the Co-op while I was filling up with gas.”
Alec had been my best friend since we were in the first grade. He and his family had been in Mexico over Christmas so I hadn’t seen or talked to him since last September. I’d only been home three days for Christmas due to my tutoring job, so the only people I’d seen then were family. I had purposely cut myself off from Facebook and Twitter. I even made sure no one even knew my snail mail address.
“I’ll call him,” I promised. Alec, Chuck, and Bennie were playing football for the junior college and had made it to the national semi-finals. Alec was a quarterback and Chuck and Bennie were in the line.
“Your friends really had a good team this year,” Dad said. “Everyone in town was at their last game. If the refs hadn’t been blind they would of won that one, too,” he claimed.
I was looking forward to seeing Alec, but couldn’t care less if I ran into either Chuck or Bennie. About the middle of our junior year I quit hanging around with those two and spent more time reading and thinking . . . about things. Alec and I continued to hang out, mostly playing video games, or doing homework. He was busy a lot with sports.
The wall phone rang. I hadn’t seen a land line in quite a while, but in Chesterville it was considered impolite to give up your land line because everyone pretty much had everyone else’s number memorized.
“It’s for you,” Mom said while handing me the receiver. Her hands gave off a sweet odor of hand lotion. She had told me, on the way home from college, about daily beauty regimens.
“Hey Joey,” Alec said. “Have you had supper yet?”
“We’re waiting for Grandpa, to go out for burgers.”
“How would it be if I stopped by to get you at about 8:00?” He asked. “A few of us are going to throw down some brewskis at my folk’s lake cabin.”
“Who’s going to be there?” I asked.
“Probably just Chuck and Bennie,” he said. “We’re just going to look at some game film from the playoffs last fall. I’d sure like you to see how we did in the playoffs.”
His enthusiasm reminded me of how great a guy he could be. I had missed him. “I’m not sure. I don’t get along so good with them.”
“Don’t sweat it,” he promised. “I can handle those knuckleheads. I have to ignore about 100% of what they say, just to remain sane.” He chuckled.
“Okay, I’ll see you at 8:00.”
My mother was giving me one of those worried looks. “Did I hear you say you’re going to meet up with your friends.”
I nodded. “I won’t stay out too late. I want to see Miss Reynolds early tomorrow.” Miss Reynolds has been the teacher who had pushed me to excel and had helped me with my essay to get into my college. She was the guidance counselor who had tossed me a lifeline when I needed it most.
“Oh, we don’t care what time you get in,” Dad said. “We know that you college kids sometimes stay awake until 11:00.” He laughed. His short had patches on the elbows. We weren’t poor, but he was tight with the buck.
“Are you going to wear what you have on?” Mom asked nervously.
“Uh huh. I haven’t decided yet how much I want to unpack. It might be easier just to keep most of my things in boxes. I have everything out I need for the night on the town we planned for tomorrow. I’ll make sure everything is ironed tomorrow morning. You and I will have all day to spend together.”
She smiled wryly and Dad gave me a thumbs-up. Mom had driven the almost ten hours it took to get to my college to help me clean out my room and to meet with my advisors. For the last nine months I had called her at least once a day.
I hadn’t told my parents yet about the job offer, and that I wouldn’t be staying home more than a few days. It wouldn’t be a surprise to them. Both had told me there was little for me on Chesterville, other than unneeded stress. They gave me unlimited support.
“Is Grandpa going to be okay with my hair?” When I had left for college it had been long by Chesterville’s standards, now it was shoulder-length. I kept it well-groomed, but it was sure to be out of place at our local Hardees. I had it pulled back in a low ponytail.
“Your Grandpa is fine,” Mom said. “He’s a lot more modern-thinking than what you might think. He was the first person in town to jump on the Obama bandwagon. He was in the minority on that one. Still is. Let’s go to dinner, then you can see your friends. Tomorrow morning the two of us will have coffee with Miss Reynolds and talk about what we’re going to do tomorrow night. I haven’t seen Helen for months. It will be great to catch up.”
Dinner with Grandpa went by with only one “I Hate Ike” declarations. He told me a dozen times how proud he was of me and how good I looked. He showed me a picture of Grandma was she had been my age and said that was where I got my good looks. He pointed out that I got my eyes from her. She had died before I was born.
At 8:00 Alec pulled up in front of our house in his Chevy extended cab pickup and honked his horn. His truck was almost fifteen years old but looked brand new, because of the hours he spent waxing it.
Chuck and Bennie were sitting in the backseat; and the biggest Coleman cooler I’d ever seen occupied a good portion of the truck box. Even thought the pickup was designed for six passengers those two filled it up so it would have been impossible for anyone else to sit with them.
“You owe me $14 for the beer,” Chuck said.
“Hello to you, too,” I answered. I had turned in the right front passenger seat to greet the two Neanderthals, but now decided to face Alec in the driver seat. “Alec . . . I don’t drink a lot of beer at college. Do you mind stopping at the Food N Fuel so I can get some Dr Pepper.”
“Dr Pepper?” Bennie almost choke on a mouthful of his beer. “I told you he’s still a pussy. I don’t know why in hell you insisted we had to bring him along tonight, Alec.”
Even though I was sure I wouldn’t drink any beer, I slipped Chuck a ten and four ones.
“Because I get tired of listening to the same jokes,” Alec said. “Geez . . . I’m not kiddin’ ya, Joey. Chuck knows about three jokes and Bennie maybe five. They get a case of beer in them and they start telling them same freaking jokes . . . over and over.”
“That’s bullshit,” Chuck mumbled. “I know tons of jokes. Funny jokes. I’ll show ya. Later I’ll tell ‘em and we can bet. You pay me five bucks a piece for every joke I tell over ten and in the morning I’ll own this truck.”
He and Bennie roared and slapped each other’s extended hands. They each had a row of pimple scars on their foreheads where ill-fitting football helmets had mashed their skin.
Alec looked back at Chuck in the rearview mirror. “You pay me five bucks a piece for every joke you can tell less than ten, and in the morning you’ll owe me $35.”
“Bullshit!” Chuck roared. “You’re such a bullshitter. You think you’re hot shit because you’re the quarterback and get all the ink. Hell, Bennie and I should just step aside and let the defense have a piece of you.”
“Chuck’s just pissed because he blew his big chance at an interview with the newspaper.” Alec was talking directly to me, but loud enough so as to have everyone’s attention. “Your dad was writing the story, Joey. Your dad was all set to do a front-page article about Chuck.”
“I don’t remember that,” Chuck said. “When was that?” He popped the top on another beer.
“Remember,” Alec said, winking at me, “Alec’s dad asked you what your four favorite jokes were. Then when you could only tell him three, he decided you were too dull for the readers of the Chesterville Herald, and didn’t write the article.”
“Bullshit,” Chuck yelled, loud enough to scare a little kid riding his tricycle on the sidewalk. “That’s bullshit!”
Alec’s the one thing about this town I’ll miss. If things had been different this year, I would have kept in touch with him.
We pulled into the convenience store parking lot; and I went in and got a six pack of diet Dr Pepper and a box of straws. Alec’s family keeps their cabin well-stocked. They live there almost as much as they do their home in town so the closets are full of clothes and the kitchen always has plenty of food in the pantry. But they never seem to have straws. I have a thing about drinking out of a can without a straw.
When I came out of the store there was a carload of girls talking to the guys. I recognized two of them as having been a year behind us in school. They were all nice-looking and wearing clothes that they would have had to purchase in the city. And, unless the local beauticians had upped their game, they were getting their hair fixed in Eastling.
The blonde, who was driving, seemed to be very interested in Alec. Her nails were chipped, but otherwise she looked fairly put together. “We’re staying overnight at my cousin’s in the city tonight after the concert, but tomorrow night we’ll be ready to party.”
Bennie made an obscene gesture the girls couldn’t see and Chuck roared.
“Alec’s gonna get laid,” Bennie chanted in a low voice.
The girls hadn’t heard him. They were obviously in a hurry to get on their way. Each and every one of them did her best to catch Alec’s eye. He was Chesterville’s stud du jour.
After they left Chuck remembered he wanted some Slim Jim’s. “You guys want anything? Bennie, want a Slim Jim? Alec, you want some beef jerky? And you Joey. . .. Do you want me to pick up a box of tampons for you?”
I silently shook my head. Now I remember exactly why I left this place and told myself never to come back.
Alec poked my shoulder. “Just roll with it. He’s two hundred and eighty pounds of meathead.”
“Almost three hundred,” Bennie argued. “Me and Chuck have been taking a supplement and adding two to three pounds a week.
His breath smelled like maybe that “supplement” was some sort of steroid.
Bennie got out and took three more beers out of the cooler in back. “It’s eight miles out to the cabin. Don’t want to run out on the way.” He gave one to Alec, who did not open it.
By 10:00 Chuck and Bennie had told all their jokes and were starting to repeat. We had watched two of the games, which had been edited down to the main plays. Alec played much better than he had in high school and was clearly the reason they won.
I sucked on the straw stuck in my diet Dr Pepper and looked around the cabin. “We’ll have to clean up before we leave.” Alec’s cabin was more like a lake home than the normal fishing shack.
“What a fucking pussy,” Bennie said. “How the fuck did you get to be such a pussy? Are you majoring in puss-itis at that fancy college where you’re going?”
“I’m in pre-med,” I said. That was the fourth time I had told one of them my major in the last thirty minutes.
Benny kept telling me how stupid it was for anyone to spend more than a minimal amount of money on college given the lack of good job prospects.
“Who the fuck drinks Dr Pepper . . . excuse the shit out of me . . . but who the fuck drinks ‘diet’ Dr Pepper?” Chuck was incredulous.
Alec seemed lost in thought most of the evening. Once he asked me something about Miss Reynolds, but stopped in mid-sentence, and then told me to let it go when I tried to get him to repeat it. Every time I looked his way he just grinned.
“I just think we should pick up a bit before we go, so that Alec’s mom isn’t stuck with the mess.” I said, again.
“I agree with Joey,” Bennie said. He stood next to me. “I think we should pick up.” He reached for me and casually lifted me over his head, as if I weighed about five pounds.
“Put me down,” I said with as much determination as I could muster.
“You said I should ‘pick up’.” Bennie laughed like a seventh grader.
“What do you weigh?” Chuck asked.
“What?” I demanded from above Bennie’s head.
“How much do you weigh?” Chuck asked again.
“One twenty-two,” I yelped. “Now put. . . me. . .down.”
“Well that must be a world record for Bennie,” Chuck roared, “for lifting shit.”
The two of them giggled like little girls.
Bennie finally set me down.
“I think I’ve had enough fun,” I said. “I’ll clean up, and then we can go home.”
Bennie whispered something to Chuck, and then Chuck nodded.
“Me and Bennie have a bet,” Chuck said. “I got five bucks that says your panties are pink and he says they’re yellow. Show us your panties.”
I shook my head and started to put empty beer cans and crushed chip bags into a 30-gallon garbage bag. “I’m not wearing panties.”
“That’s bullshit,” Chuck said. “Now pull your pants down and show us, so I can collect my money.”
“If Joey doesn’t want to pull his pants down, he doesn’t have to,” Alec said. It was obvious he had dealt with the two drunks before. He had been nursing his beers all night and maybe had consumed a total of three cans. Bernie and Chuck had each guzzled at least a dozen that I’d witnessed, and more before the evening started. They probably started drinking around 5:00 when they got off work at the sand and gravel plant.
“That’s right,” Chuck said. “Joey doesn’t have to pull down his pants. If Joey doesn’t want to pull down his pants, we’ll just de-pants him.”
The two moved with surprising quickness and despite my efforts and Alec’s protests they first removed my shoes, and then ripped off my trousers. My Hanes boys’ underwear came right with.
Chuck belched. “Hell! Why stop there?” He grabbed the front of my t-shirt with one of his huge hands and yanked. My shirt gave way like it was made of tissue paper. “What the fuck? Why do you have an ACE bandage around your chest? I never heard of anyone spraining their chest? How the fuck do you sprain a chest?”
The two of them quickly pulled off the bandage.
I stood in front of them naked, except for my socks, trying to cover my genitals with one hand while shielding my chest with my other arm. I should have stayed at home. Things weren’t supposed to happen like this.
“Omigod!” Bennie laughed. “Have you ever seen such a tiny penis?”
Chuck roared with approval at Bennie’s observation. “Shit. My sister’s thirteen and her chest and Joey’s look exactly the same . . . and she’s been wearing a bra for two years.”
The two were hysterical.
“Geezus, Bennie,” Chuck said. “You’re a fucking pervert staring at your sister’s titties.”
Bennie glared at Chuck.
I recognized my chance and sprinted for the bathroom.
“Bring me my clothes,” I yelled over my shoulder. I made it and locked the door behind me.
“She wants her clothes,” Bennie said. “What the fuck should we do about that?”
“The lady needs her fucking clothes,” Chuck said cruelly, “and she shall have them.”
I could hear the three of them arguing. Two people were yelling . . . and one was trying, without much luck, to be the voice of reason. “Why isn’t Alec more insistent?” I asked myself. “I just want to go home.”
After five minutes of moronic giggling from other places in the cabin, there was a knock on the door.
“I’ve got your clothes for you,” Chuck said.
“Finally!” I opened the door and there stood Chuck holding a stack of what was obviously Alec’s mother’s clothing.
Chuck threw the pile at me. “Get dressed. I know Alec’s mom keeps make-up in the drawer in there. There’s perfume and fingernail polish. If you get dressed and do a good enough job of looking like a girl, so that you don’t look like a clown . . . we’ve promised Alec, we’ll give you back your pants.”
The door shut in my face; and I looked down at what they had brought for me to wear.
It was a simple sundress. Under different circumstances I might have described it as cute. They had brought me a bra, which appeared to be a 32B, with matching panties.
I’m surprised that Alec’s mother wears such nice things. She must be at least forty.
They had also given me shoes, which had three-inch heels. They were snug with my socks on, but fit nicely on my bare feet. They didn’t match the dress, which should have been worn with strappy heels, not pumps.
I looked at myself in the mirror and became strangely calm. “So, they want me to look like a woman. That, I know I can do. Screw them . . . I’ll show them who they’re dealing with.”
I looked through her cosmetics. They weren’t the best, but I could make do to create a dramatic statement. Checking the drawers I found earrings and a necklace that seemed appropriate.
There was a curling iron, clips, a brush, and hair spray that allowed me to create something that looked right.
Twenty minutes later I had completed my transformation and walked out into the living room where the three of them were sitting.
“Holy shit!” Bennie said. “I told you Joey’s a girl.”
“That is truly fucking awesome,” Chuck said. “If you were going to the junior college you’d be homecoming queen. There isn’t one girl in the county that can clean up like you do.”
“You look nice,” Alec said quietly. “I thought you would.”
I grabbed the garbage bag and continued the housework I had started before. “Now that you little boys have had your fun, I expect you’ll at least be men enough to live up to your end of the bargain.”
Bennie growled. “Who the fuck are you to question if we’re ‘men enough’?”
“Shit,” Chuck snarled. “I got twelve inches of hard pipe that needs attention, that will prove to you who’s ‘man enough’.”
Omigawrsh! Maybe I shouldn’t have spritzed myself with that perfume! Alec’s mother likes to smell provocative!
Alec got up from his seat. “I’m plenty bushed. I was laying sod all day and could use some sleep. Let’s call it a night. Chuck, give Joey his pants, and let’s go home.” He looked at me and shrugged. “I’d give you a pair of my pants, but I took all my stuff from out here home last week. I’m using my old clothes on the job laying sod.”
“Fuck this shit,” Chuck yelled. “I say we fuck him.”
“Isn’t that gay?” Bennie asked, looking bewildered.
“Take a look for yourself,” Chuck demanded. “She’s spilling over the cups of that bra. She might have that tiny little sorta-penis, but she’s 99.9% female and that’s plenty good for me.”
“But,” Alec said. “If she doesn’t want to, that would be rape. You don’t rape women, do you?”
“Hell no,” Chuck said. “Women throw their cunts at me. Ol’ Chuck gets more ass than a fucking toilet seat. So does Bennie. Right Bennie?”
Bennie was leering at me as if he hadn’t had sex in a decade. “Would you. . . ?” he asked me. “Would you want to fuck us?”
“As charming as you’ve been, I really don’t think so.” I closed my eyes and wondered how I would ever get out of that cabin without something horrible happening.
“Well shit,” Chuck muttered. “A blow job. She gives us all a blow job, and then we go home.”
“No,” Alec said. “That ain’t going to happen.”
“What?” Chuck and Bennie said with surprise. They turned on Alec with malice that scared me.
Alec isn’t small. He probably weighs around two-twenty, but compared to those two he’s a midget.
Alec laughed. “I got a better idea. It’s almost 11:00. The late movie will just be letting out and everyone will be driving around town dragging the streets for another two hours. Let’s drop her off about a mile outside of town, and then she’ll have to walk home dressed just the way she is.” He laughed nastily.
“Hand jobs! We should at least get hand jobs,” Bennie said hopefully, in a way that made me wonder about his virginity.
“We have to leave right now so that she gets maximum embarrassment.” Alec stated.
The excessive beer had Chuck and Bennie totally befuddled. They wanted sex, but also were conditioned to run the plays called by their quarterback.
“Okay,” Chuck said, “but just to be sure I’m going to throw her fucking pants and underwear in the lake so she has to wear what she’s got on. That will be a nice surprise for his fucking dad. That asshole gave me a D in writing.”
He and Bennie grabbed my clothes and took them down by the lake, arguing about whether or not my dad should have given Chuck a C, because he turned in all the assignments.
“Maybe your dad has something I could wear?” I asked Alec.
Alec looked at me and shook his head very quickly. “Let’s get moving. Those guys aren’t predictable.”
“Shouldn’t we at least have her kiss our cocks?” Bennie begged from a hundred yards away.
“Let’s go,” Alec said. “We need to get back and alert everyone so they can see Joey dressed in all her glory.”
Chuck and Bennie roared. I could tell they had both added one more joke to their repertoire.
I moved quickly to get in the pickup and we took off for town shortly after Chuck and Bennie tied my clothes around a rock and sank them in the lake. When we got to a point about a mile out of town, Alec stopped the truck and ordered me to get out, which I did.
At first I just stared at the taillights going off away from me, and than I sank to the ground and sat on the edge of the ditch bawling. Tonight has been exactly where my life in this town has been headed for my entire time on Earth. Tonight I’ll go through an hour, or so, of final torment walking the gauntlet to my house, and then tomorrow I’ll leave forever.
I’d cried for about fifteen minutes, until I heard a vehicle pull to a stop next to me.
I looked up and saw Alec’s truck. What now?
“Get in,” he said quietly.
He opened the door to the pickup for me and helped me climb up into the cab. His face was puffy and his hands were covered by cuts and blood.
“What happened to you?” I asked. I pulled open his glove compartment and found his first-aid kit. We had sold those kits as a scout fund-raiser in junior high.
“Bennie, Chuck, and I had a little discussion about etiquette,” he stated. “That was a bad situation back in the cabin. It almost got away from me. I shouldn’t have got you into it. I knew they were assholes, but I never thought . . . I’m so sorry, Joey.”
“It’s okay.” He’s still my best friend! I wiped his hands with gauze and applied mercurochrome. I don’t know enough about first-aid to touch his face. Maybe I'll learn some actual medicine the second year.
“It’s not okay,” he stated firmly. “I said I would protect you, and I almost blew it, big time. I knew it was going to be less than perfect, but I wanted to see you. Geez I’ve missed you like crazy. I had no idea they would get all psychotic.”
“I’m fine. Really.”
“They had no right. You’re a beautiful person. You’ve always been terrific. Those assholes were about two seconds from . . .. They would have had to kill me to ever hurt you, but they’re animal enough to do anything.”
“Where are they now?”
“Bennie’s nose is broken pretty badly . . . and Chuck was breathing funny, so I probably left him with some messed-up ribs. They’re probably up at Eastling hospital getting patched up.”
“There so big. How did you. . .?”
“First I got them mad. I told them they both were acting like homos. They argued that pretty hard -- being the homophobic pricks they are. But I let them think on it. Then I told them I hated being on the team with them and told them I’m transferring to a different college next year. That really hacked them off, because we could win it all this year . . . the national championship.”
“But . . ..”
“Neither of them can box. It was a piece of cake when I set it up so it was a contest of quickness and skill, with them drunk and totally pissed off.”
“Do you think they’ll go to the police?”
“Hell no. There’s no way they’re ever going to tell anyone they had me two to one and I kicked their butts. Besides, I told them to tell the people in the emergency room it was a bunch of bikers who jumped them. They normally do everything I tell them, so they don’t have to try to think. Tonight was weird. I guess you’re just too pretty for them to know how to act.”
I’m glad he won’t get in trouble with the law. Alec had the same SAT scores as me. He could’ve gotten a scholastic scholarship, but he wanted to play football.
“We can go to my house,” he continued, “and I’ll get you a pair of my sweatpants. You can clean off the make-up and fingernail polish. It’s a shame to mess with how you look, because you do really look beautiful, but I suppose you can’t go home looking like you do.”
“Do you really think I look nice?”
“I’ve always been crazy about how you look, which is nuts, because I really like girls. But I guess I’m the homo, because I’ve got it bad for you.”
“Did you. . .when they pulled off my clothes. . .did you take a good look at me?”
“Hell no! I turned my eyes away. But, I’m looking right at you now, and I think you’re gorgeous.” He pulled me to him, and then kissed me. It was the kind of kiss a prince would reserve for that one special princess.
“I love you,” he said.
“And, I love you,” I said. “I’ve always thought of you as the best friend a person could ever have, but now I know I’ll never love anyone else like I love you.”
“It’s pretty obvious you like being a girl,” he added.
I nodded. “I do.”
“And, you’re sure as hell a good one. I have an idea,” Alec said. “There’s a movie at the theatre tomorrow night that half the town will probably want to see. How about I take you to a dress shop in Eastling tomorrow and buy you something for a girl more your age? You and I could go to the movie and show this stupid town what real love is!”
“I don’t think so,” I said.
His face showed utter despair. “You’re not going to let them get to you?” he asked. “Chesterville is an armpit. You’re better than them.”
“The only ones I’m better than are Chuck and Bennie, and I think you’ve taken care of them.”
“I’m serious, Joey. I’ll find a college close to yours that wants a quarterback. It’ll work for us. Why won’t you go to the movie tomorrow night with me?”
“Actually, I was going to the show tomorrow night with my parents . . . and Miss Reynolds. I already have a dress all picked out.”
“Did you ever wonder about why I made no effort to contact you this year?”
“Yeah . . . it was spooky. Your Facebook was gone. I even tried to send an email to that old address we used as kids. Your dad got real evasive when I asked him how to contact you. I got the message and quit trying.”
“I should have just told you. I’m a transsexual, Alec.”
“Have you already had the operation? Is that what Bennie and Chuck were hollering about?”
“No. I’ve been going through a real life test. That means I gave up trying to pretend I’m a boy nine months ago. I enrolled in college as a female. I’ve been on hormone therapy since the end of our junior year. In three more months I’m going to start a series of surgeries.”
“That’s great. Hey, I’m not a homosexual. You’re a girl. I thought it was something like that because of something Miss Reynolds said to me two years ago. I had told her I was worried about being gay. She said that maybe liking you didn’t mean that.”
“I always have been a girl,” I stated.
“And . . . I’ve loved you for longer than you can imagine. So let’s get back to why you won’t go to the movies with me? If you’re worried about what people will think, I’m sure there’s a lot more people in town who will accept you than you would imagine.”
“I think so, too. I didn’t say I didn’t want to go with you. I just don’t want you to buy me a dress. I’ve been thinking about tomorrow night for years. I have the perfect dress hanging up at home; and now I’m going with the perfect boyfriend.”
We kissed again. He then nuzzled my neck and nibbled a bit on my ear.
This is going to be nice!
“I didn’t realize in my dreams that my perfect boyfriend, for my big night, would have a black eye. Let’s go to my house and see if Mom has a bag of frozen peas to put on it. Maybe you can tell my dad four jokes, and then he’ll write an article about you.”
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