Back at school in Boston on Monday, it wasn't easy to concentrate on my classes. Danny's disappearance after the track meet in New Haven was still taking up most of the space in my head.
Danny's brother David had reached me in my dorm room pretty late last night after we got back from New Haven. For obvious reasons, he was pretty freaked out and was going to fly in from the West Coast right away. David and I cried a little as I recounted what I knew to him. The same story I'd given to the New Haven police a few times yesterday. In the end I didn't have anything terribly helpful to add. David sounded absolutely miserable. We hung up and I fell into restless sleep.
Instead of grabbing my usual Subway sandwich from a shop on Comm Ave, I hopped on the T and headed over to Central Square to have a late lunch off campus with a friend of mine who went to MIT. Max was one of the funniest guys I'd ever met and I thought hanging out with him might cheer me up. Just like on the bus ride back to town last night, I didn't really want to talk about what happened to Danny, so I had no intention of telling Max about Danny either. The less I talked about it, the better off I'd be I thought.
We met over the bridge in Cambridge since Max didn't have too much time between classes. There was an Indian place on Mass Ave in pretty close to the red line stop in Central Square. They had an all-you-can-eat buffet for like $8 if you flashed your MIT student ID.
Max was waiting outside when I walked up. I smiled when I recognized him.
Everything about Max cracked me up. He was mixed race. His parents were from Hong Kong, but Max didn't look Chinese, or at least he didn't look as Chinese as I thought he should.
Max had a grandparent, I think, who was from Bangladesh. And, as a result of one of those situations where the gene pool got mixed a little unevenly, Max had apparently gotten a pretty big share of his grandmother's genes and didn't get too many from the Chinese side of the family. Max's parents originally thought the hospital in Hong Kong had made a mistake when he was presented to them for his initial inspection-he had told me the story of his bewildered parents bursting into tears when they first saw him at least three times-it made me crack up every time!
If I was forced to pick just one place on earth, I would describe Max as somebody from the hills of Nepal. Max was darker-skinned than most Chinese people and he had these amazing tan-colored, very non-Chinese eyes. He wore Harry Potter frames-mostly because he was a huge fan-but the glasses took nothing away from the mystery of his cool eyes.
Max was always going on about Harry Potter being the ultimate fuck-buddy. This totally destroyed one of the most important characters in my own childhood literature history so I refused to allow my mind to go there. Max kept at it all the same.
Once Max's parents got over the initial shock of a Bangladeshi baby, they loved him perhaps a little too much and gave him absolutely everything he ever wanted. Max never felt quite Chinese enough so he insisted that his parents move to America so that Max could fulfill his life-long goals of becoming an astrophysicist and of bedding down Harry Potter. The fact that Harry was fictional and lived in another dimension over in England was no deterrent to Max's clearly stated objectives.
So, when Max was around 10, his doting parents took jobs in the states and moved the family over here so that little Max would be happy. And, but for his goofy Harry Potter glasses, Max had the fashion sense of a late 70's Brooklyn Mafioso--he dressed like a total Guido! Max actually wore vests, the more polyester the better, and some had patterns! My sartorial senses were fairly underdeveloped as an 19 year old college freshman, but somehow hanging out with Max always set my brain on red alert!
"Do not wear! Do not wear!"
His odd wardrobe and strange fictional character libido aside, Max was crazy smart. He got into MIT when he was just 16.
His parents wanted him to go to college two years earlier than the rest of his friends, but Max refused. Since his arrival in America had not actually led to a sexual romp with fictional Harry, he had sublimated those desires and had a serious crush on a boy back in high school named Nigel. According to Max, there was no fucking way that no fucking elite engineering university was going to come between the fucking he intended to have with Nigel. In the end, Max got a deferred admission. By the time he agreed to actually leave home and come to Boston, he had realized his sexual fantasies with Nigel, and had apparently found the whole experience not completely to his liking. Max thought that the men in Boston might be just the ticket.
Max signed on to MIT as an astrophysics major, partly because it sounded cool to him, but mostly it would really piss off his folks. His parents were both psychiatrists and would have loved for Max to be one too. But of course, Max wanted to do anything but that. If he could design rocket ships that brought him up to the entrance at Hogwarts, that would be just fine with him. So, for the time being, Max was cruising through his freshman year at MIT, taking like a hundred credits of math and physics (by comparison, I had four in Math). Max was getting high marks in everything, of course, but he had no intention of letting his long-suffering parents in on that little secret. He told them he was failing so that they sent him extra funds for tutoring. Which, of course, Max used in other ways typical of most college students. Recently, Max had discovered duck-pin bowling, a local Boston thing, and found that he wasn't too bad at it. He doubted there was yet a professional league for duck-pinners, and Max wanted to be the first to start one. There was also the advantage that a career in duck pin bowling would completely rock his parents' world.
Max and I had come close to fooling around a couple of times, but we never did. I was glad about that, Max had become too good a friend. I wouldn't have wanted our dicks to come between us.
But, on the other hand, he would have been my very first Chinese-Bangladeshi wiener. If that's a thing.
Max and I had met while running along Memorial Drive, a great path over on the Cambridge side of the Charles. On that fateful day, he was going east and I was going west-in truth, I barely noticed the guy, but apparently he noticed me. Just a nanosecond after passing me going in the opposite direction, Max reversed course and ran a bit faster to fall in right beside me. Max's finetly tuned gay-dar had apparently flashed a secret signal to Max that I was on his team.
I was a little surprised to find that I had this little guy hanging on my hip, but Max wasted no time completely charming me. Or at least trying his hardest to charm me.
Within just a couple hundred yards of hooking up, he'd already asked me to go to a skanky bar with him. For some reason, I agreed, I was probably too dazed by Max to find the energy to turn the kid down.
So me and Max went, Max pawing at my clothes the instant he saw me on the street. I had gone back to my dorm room to shower and put on real clothes, but that had taken quite a negotiation with him even to allow me that!
In the dark bar, Max attacked me like he was a piranha.
Somehow, we fumbled awkwardly through one very stupid kiss. Max literally lost his balance and fell to the floor as our lips locked. He came up laughing and I'd managed to convince him that he wasn't getting into my pants anytime soon. And so Max accepted our destiny, at least for the time being, and we'd become friends.
We both loved to run. Max wasn't as fast as I was, but he could run forever. He said he ran mostly to get out of the house and away from his folks when he was in Hong Kong. Now he was hooked. He was all arms and legs and looked like he might knock himself in the head at just about any moment. Max's stride reminded me a Sherpa in Nepal actually tumbling down the mountain, trying to hold onto his gear. Another reason he cracked me up.
"Hello Mr. TJ, sir," Max sang out. "How today is my good friend from Boston?" His arms were waving wildly in the air, his purple vest flapped in the breeze coming off the river.
Despite being like one of the smartest people I'd ever met, Max was consistently putting words into the wrong place in a sentence. He begged me to correct him so that he could just be like everybody else in America. Sometimes I did and sometimes I didn't.
I wrapped my arms around his arms to rein them in, and then gave him a hug, putting both of my palms onto his ears.
"I'm great Max," I lied, forcing the smile. "Nice of you to meet me here, glad you could squeeze me in."
"It is my great pleasure, Mr. TJ," Max said. He led the way into the restaurant.
The Indian restaurant was a little dark, which was probably by design. The food was buffet and could be a little sketchy compared to some places I'd been for Indian. But for $8 what did you expect? This was the type of place where you got your food before you sat down, so Max and I hopped into the line at the tiny buffet. The aromatic intensity of the curry and the tamarind made my eyes water but it also made my stomach ache with hunger. When had I eaten last anyway?
We wedged ourself into little table in the corner. The waitress brought us some water. Max's glass didn't look like it had been washed, but he never noticed. As Max set his plate of food down in front of me, I laughed out loud-he had taken every single onion kulcha that the restaurant had and arranged them into a pyramid on his plate. He had nothing else.
"Max, why? What's with the onion kulcha? That will give you gas," I said.
"Do not ask me such questions, TJ," Max said. "Today I just feel like onion kulcha." He smiled.
"Okay Max, but sometimes you worry me."
Max cocked his head. "If you were so worried about me TJ, you would have..." Max lowered his voice to a whisper. "You would have let me fuck you."
My mouth was full so all I could do was cover my mouth with my napkin and laugh
"You have still not enjoyed my very unique Bangladeshi-Hong Kong style dick."
I laughed and blew samosa all over my napkin. He was a ridiculous little dude, just what I needed today. When I stopped laughing and I could breath normally again, I wiped my face with what was left of my napkin. Seeing that mine was pretty shredded, Max offered me his and simultaneously pointed to a little spot of food I'd apparently missed on the side of my lip.
"But alas, I am forced to masturbate to your picture. That must be very satisfying for me."
I shook my head. What? Doesn't he mean the opposite, satisfying for him? And he has my picture, how did that happen?
"Max, you're a pervert," I said with a huge grin. "That's probably why I like you so much."
"Do not worry TJ. I am grown a man. I understand these things. And if you like me so much, how about we just become fuck-buddies, no attachment required."
"Please TJ, I promise you will like it," he begged.
"Uh okay, we can just be close friends for now. But you are on notice that I will not hesitate to make my move when the time is right."
"Uh, well, good," I said, wondering just when Max might make his move.
Max and I had a really fun time at lunch. I was absolutely starved so I returned and helped myself to the buffet three times. Max went up just one more time and came back with a half plate of the same. He was such a curious guy. I wondered what it might be like to really have sex with him. I smacked myself in the head just for thinking it, then I grabbed a bite from one of Max's new collection of onion kulcha.
After we parted, I walked back over to Central Square to jump on the T back into Boston. The crowd in this section of Cambridge always confused me. There was a few starving Harvard or MIT students who lived in the area.
Over here, it was way cheaper than Harvard Square, and certainly a huge improvement from the prices across the river in Back Bay. But there was also a substantial number of young, hunky biotech executives who worked here in Central Square.
And then there were the homeless. Loads of 'em. More than any other section of Boston that I'd been to at least. It made for a weird gamish that always left me feeling like an urban pioneer, but also just a tiny bit unsettled.
The T heading back over to Boston was pretty empty, middle of the day I guess. As a result, I got back to campus pretty quick and thought I'd zip up to my room and study a little before my 4 pm Inorganic Chemistry study section.
My roommate Alan was there when I opened the door.
"Hey," he said.
He was lying on his bed naked, face down. Like always. My friends were a pretty wacky group: Max the sex maniac rocket scientist, Alan the nudist wrestler, from Texas. Oy!
Alan's butt cheeks were whiter than the rest of him and made the fluorescent lights above our head into a glare that made me blink. Alan was studying I guess since he had a textbook open. But when my eyes adjusted, I noticed that it was upside down. Typical.
"Where'd you go? I didn't think you had classes on Monday," Alan asked. True to form, he didn't bother to cover up his butt. And true to form, my eyes were glued on it.
"I had lunch with Max. Over in Central Square."
"The Indian Place?"
"Yum!" Alan said, flipping over. "I'm starved, I love that place!" He sat up on the bed, his cock flopping into view. So no my eyes settled on that instead of his butt, just like always.
"I know, I love it too. I ate way too much Sag Paneer. And like twenty pieces of nan. Max ingested a world record in onion kulcha I think," I said.
"Aah, don't even talk about it. I haven't eaten since breakfast," Alan whined. I checked my watch. It was still early afternoon. Well, he was a wrestler, he must need a lot of calories too, I thought to myself.
"I need to get up and find something to eat, but unfortunately I've got a weigh in later. I'm really trying not to eat, but I don't think I can hold out much longer. I've been lying here forever trying to read. But I'm so fucking hungry, I just can't concentrate." Alan was a freshman on the BU wrestling team and he always seemed to be on a diet, the weigh-ins to be able to wrestle in a lower group were pretty brutal.
"You trying to make weight?" I laughed, but instantly regretted it.
I felt sorry for the guy. I mean, it's not like he had any body fat anyway. His coach just wanted him to wrestle down a class, that way his strength would overwhelm his lighter opponent. But this made no sense to me. Weren't the other guys from the other team trying to do the exact same thing? For poor, hungry Alan, this madness seemed to happen all the time, and Alan was always starving himself until he was practically in tears. Me on the other hand, I just ate whatever I wanted and then just ran it off, an extra couple of miles were really no big deal. Alan had told me at least a thousand times that this made running not really a sport. Since I could eat anything at all and then just pound the track until it was gone, somehow that disqualified me from being in the athlete club.
"I've got a few granola bars in my back pack, do you want one?" I asked, already knowing how he would respond.
He looked at my backpack longingly, but shook his head no. 'Got four pounds to go."
"By later today or by tomorrow?" I asked.
He just rolled his eyes.
"Fuck, dude," I said.
"Wanna go for a run later, we could do ten miles."
Alan cracked up. "Ten miles? Are you fucking kidding me? I'm so weak I don't even think I could walk down the hall."
"Alan, don't you think this is a little stupid. I mean, if you're starving yourself so much, how are you supposed to have the energy to wrestle this week?"
He shrugged. "I guess," he said.
"Alan, seriously, go get a couple yogurts or something downstairs. I've got some rice cakes you can have too. Eat for crissakes!"
He looked sad. Now I felt bad.
"I can have your rice cakes? You love those."
I did love my rice cakes, it was true. Just the regular salted ones, not the weird apple cinnamon flavored ones. But I was happy to part with a few rice cakes if it would keep my roommate alive. I hated to see the guy suffer, I'd just buy more at the big Shaw's down the street.
Of the two of us, I was always the one buying food. I was always hungry, so I kept stocked. Alan had this crazy idea that he couldn't even keep anything in our room that might tempt him. I went over to my closet and pulled a pack of the mini plain rice cakes down from the shelf. I tossed them over and he caught them.
"Here," I said, "they are mostly just air anyway, well that plus some salt."
"Don't mention it," I said. "I hate to see you doing this to yourself."
He ripped them open and popped three into his mouth at the same time. He smiled with his mouth closed. "These are so fucking good," he said.
I was happy if he was happy.
Alan and I had not known each other before we got to Boston, we'd both taken our chances with a random roommate assignment, primarily because nobody else from back home was going here. Same for Alan I think.
But since we were both freshman and we were both athletes and we were both far from home-me from California, him from Texas-we'd become pretty good friends. And, since it was now spring and we'd been sleeping just a few feet away from each other since last fall, there wasn't a whole lot that we couldn't share with each other. On that first day, Alan had gotten here first. He had already checked in and staked out the best parts of our room by the time I showed up. He was also naked on the floor doing push-ups when I walked into the room for the first time.
Welcome to college, TJ. I had a boner in the first three seconds of my college life.
Alan hated wearing clothes in our room. Back home in Dallas it was always so hot that I guess he just got used to being undressed a lot.
At first I thought it was cool that I had such a cool dorm roommate. It was cool that I had a roommate who felt totally comfortable with himself as a naked human being. And he obviously felt comfortable with me-he didn't need to know the perverted things I yearned to do with his constantly naked body-that Alan felt that he didn't need to cover up when I was around. Of course, since Alan had been wrestling since he was like three years old, he's got a freaking killer body.
So there we were on that first day of college. As we introduced ourselves to each other, he was naked and I was hard.
I managed to work Alan into my jerk-off fantasies pretty quickly, and he's remained a key player in those dramas ever since.
Over time however, as the weeks and months of my freshman year dragged on, Alan's nakedness, on occasion, became a bit of a pain. Whenever anyone stopped by the room to see one of us, I was always the one who had to answer the door. Alan had to find and then put on a pair of shorts. Me, courteous little dude that I am, would have to pause before I actually answered the door and look behind me to make sure that he was decent before I actually opened the door! And, of course, since one of us was always nude, we had to keep the heat in the room blasting away; it's pretty freaking cold in Boston, especially during some of those snowy winter months. Since I kept my clothes on, I was always too hot. Alan claimed the temperature was just perfect, but the sweat would be dripping off of me. A few times, I'd gotten so tired of being hot and sweaty that I'd taken off my clothes and joined him.
It was weird, of course, for two guys to be naked together in their room. But since it worked for Alan, and god knows it worked for me, I pretty much kept my mouth shut and just enjoyed myself. In truth, Alan and I had actually discussed the subject of nakedness a few times. I usually brought it up after we'd both been in the room together for a while and I was just getting a little weary of trying not to look at his dick. I wasn't actually complaining, of course. I didn't actually want Alan to stop being naked all the time in our room. But you know, I had always been the chatty sort and I just felt like I had to say something.
When it came to sharing naked roomie time together, not much had changed. I wore my clothes. Alan didn't. Given the time I had to try and ignore Alan in the nude-and generally fail miserably at it-I had gotten to know just about every square inch of Alan's taut little wrestling body. And not much changed in that department either. If anything Alan's muscles had gone into hyper-drive with all the maniacal dieting and daily workouts with the team; his body was stacked more than ever! Of course, I had my favorite parts of Alan's body, and not just the parts dangling between his legs. I liked that little fold just above his hip, where the lateral abdominal muscles made a crease above his leg. I liked that little space on the back of his triceps that seemed like a dent. And I liked the front of his quads when he was flexed at the hip with a straight knee, nothing sexier than a pair of strong upper legs!
You'd think that I'd be sort of in love with the guy by this point. Fortunately, me and Alan had not gone that way for me. He was my buddy. We shared everything with each other about life, school, our respective athletic pursuits, people we'd like to strangle, people we'd like to sleep with, but that was it. Other than the naked stuff, I guessed we had a fairly average first year of college roommate relationship.
I watched with a smile as Alan finished off the bag of rice cakes I let him have. It took less than five minutes.
"Thanks dude," he said. "You saved my life."
I just shook my head. I threw my shoes into the corner and then sunk down deeply into my own bed. I fished out my Chemistry book from my back pack and started to read.
After a while, Alan got up and walked around the room. He stood in front of my closet and opened the door. I watched him peer him, probably looking for my food, probably the rice cakes hadn't quite done it. After Alan had inventoried the contents of my shelf of goodies, he gave me a hopeful look. He wanted something, obviously.
"What?" I asked. "My Kit Kats?" My mom was strangely convinced that this was something I couldn't live without and had sent me a whole case at the beginning of the year. With Alan's help through nearly the entire school year, I was down to my last few bars.
He smiled like the Cheshire Cat and nodded. His mouth formed into a silent word, "Please!"
"Don't you think you should go downstairs and get something healthier than candy bars? Or, if you need something quicker, the yogurts in the machine down the hall are way better for you. Plus they've got bananas and stuff in the common room I think."
He grabbed two Kit Kat bars and held them to his heart. He grinned even bigger.
"Alan, of course you can have them, it's just that. Well, don't you think, I mean..."
He had opened up a Kit Kat and broke off a piece before I had a chance to finish what I was saying. At the same time, he shook his head vigorously.
"I guess you don't think..." I said, my voice trailing off.
"Thank you, thank you," Alan said, his mouth full of chocolate.
I gave him my best look of disappointment.
Alan furrowed his eyebrows, unable to believe that I could possibly be disappointed with him. Then, he thrust his hips forward and waggled his cock back and forth for me; it smacked his upper thighs with a happy little slap. He knew that always made me smile. This time however I was determined not to give him the smile he was looking for. He walked closer and kept waggling. I looked away. When his penis got to be about a foot away from my face I put my hands over my eyes.
"I'm not looking," I said.
I felt his knee compress the mattress of my bed. Even from this distance, he smelled like chocolate. And he was still waggling. And I was still not looking.
But maybe there was one way that I might open my eyes and look.
"Come on TJ, you know you want to see me do this," Alan said.
"No I don't. Get away from me, you pervert. You smell like Kit Kat and dick."
Alan and I were long past wondering about each other's sexuality. He was straight and I was not. And both of us were okay with the other. Alan knew a lot about the guys I saw. And, though it sometimes caused my stomach to gurgle, I knew a lot about the girls he saw.
It was all good.
Thank god for that! Thank god for college!
Alan kept waggling, one hand trying to pull my fingers away from my eyes. "You know this makes you smile, TJ, and I know you want me to do it, I know you do. You can't resist!" he sang out.
I kept one eye covered and pushed his knew away with my book. With my open eye, I could see that Alan's dick was no longer it's usual length. It was longer. Not erect of course, just longer.
Getting longer was just one of those nice things about dicks. Variety. They came in so many shapes and sizes, of course. And then they changed. Right before your eyes! They got longer. They got thicker. They curled upward to the sky. Some of them could even pop out of their hats! Why doesn't everyone appreciate all of the many talents of the human dick as much as I did?
"Get away," I said, giggling despite myself. "You'll give yourself a boner."
"Don't you wish?" Alan teased, chewing up the rest of his first Kit Kat bar.
"All right, all right!" I said in mock frustration. "I'll look. If it will make you stop and let me get back to my Chem book" Very slowly, I took my other hand off of my face, one finger at a time, and then I opened both eyes and peered straight ahead at the human dick in front of me.
"That's more like it," Alan said.
"There, are you happy?" I asked, feigning disgust. "I am looking at it."
"Yes, I'm happy, are you happy?"
"Yes, I'm fucking very happy!" I said, raising my voice. "It's a fucking blue ribbon day for me. Now knock it off. Go over there. Eat all my Kit Kats if you want. Just stop shaking that thing in my face so I can study."
That may have done the trick.
He spun on the floor in a clumsy pirouette. When he came to a stop he almost fell over. We both laughed.
Alan steadied himself and then put both hands on his upper thighs. As he did he spread his hips apart a little wider and gave himself one last waggle. Sort of his grand finale. In the end, Alan finally did get the smile out of me that he was looking for. I knew him well enough to realize that in Alan's mind that this little waggle dance made us even. He got to eat two bars from my Kit Kat stash. And I got a little naked dance show from my college roommate that I would probably use later once the lights were off and I was I beating my meat.
Alan settled back down onto his bed to read his own textbook, his hunger at least temporarily better. It was amazing how smart my mom had been to send me all those Kit Kats. I rearranged the semi-hard dick in my own pants and then settled back into my studying.
I didn't think too highly of Inorganic Chemistry. It was one of those classes you needed if you wanted to go to medical school. So I took it, but I wasn't exactly enthusiastic about what I was learning. And I suffered along with everybody else. Whoever discovered stoichiometric equations in the first place was clearly a sadistic bastard.
Alan was probably reading from his Econ book. All his classes were Micks and I knew he didn't have to work too hard in any of them. But he really seemed to like Economics, so that was the one he always seemed to have in front of him.
"Oh!" he suddenly shouted.
He scared the shit out of me.
"I almost forgot! BU Police stopped by while you were out."
My mind envisioned Alan standing at the door naked with a cadre of uniformed officers standing there in front of him. Now that was a great fantasy!
"Oh yeah, what'd they want?" I asked.
"Something about some guy in New Haven who's missing."
I hadn't told Alan about Danny's disappearance when I got back last night. And I didn't want to really think about it today so I didn't bring it up in the bathroom this morning either.
"Is that true?" Alan asked. "Is one of your friends missing?"
I breathed in.
"Somebody from the track team?"
"Whoa! That's crazy, TJ? When did this happen? Why didn't you tell me? Jesus H Christ!"
"I know, right," I said. I still couldn't believe that we were talking about Danny Leeman here. Where the hell could the guy be? Maybe he met a guy and just lost track of time. Or maybe he was just on an early plane back to the West Coast and it was shot down by a UFO. Or maybe...
"It's Danny Leeman," I said. "Nobody knows where he is."
"You mean you're friend Danny?"
"Whoa," he said again. "What happened?"
I shrugged my shoulders, I didn't really want to have to go through the details, it was all such a raw, awful thing. But if I needed to talk about it with anybody, it was definitely my roommate.
"I have no idea," I explained. "Danny was supposed to race in the finals on Sunday, but he didn't show up. The last anybody saw of him was Saturday night. Somewhere out on the town in New Haven. He'd been with a group of guys. They were partying, but then all of them left to get back to the hotel and Danny decided to stay out."
"Wow," Alan said.
"Sunday was the finals. He didn't show up, and now nobody knows where he is." I could feel my eyes tearing up.
"And that's it. No frickin' idea what happened?"
I started to cry. Alan put his book down and got up onto the side of his bed.
"Gee dude, I had no idea. That's fucking awful."
I nodded and rubbed the tears off my face with my palm. My eyes quickly replaced them with more.
"I can't believe you didn't tell me, TJ! Come on man, that's what I'm here for, buddy! Geez!"
"I'm sorry," I blabbered.
"So what are they gonna do?"
I shook my head. I had no idea what the cops in New Haven were gonna do. Other than Officer Ruggazione, I didn't remember a whole lot about any of the hours I'd spent in the New Haven police department being interviewed. Were they calling the Feds? The FBI?
"I mean, do they suspect..." Alan started to ask, not really wanting to say the words out loud. "Foul play?"
This made me cry harder. I bunched my fists over my face and tried as hard as I could to stop. Alan had never seen me like this.
He threw a pair of gym shorts on and came over to my bed, this was apparently a situation that called for not being naked. Alan sat down and put a hand on my shoulder.
"I'm really sorry man," he said. "I mean, wow! This is totally messed up."
I tilted my head back and banged the top of it against my desk. It ended up harder than I'd intended.
"Whoa TJ, take it easy buddy, you'll hurt yourself."
I sniffed and opened my eyes. Alan's hand cupped the back of my head and he rubbed lightly. I pulled away. "I'm okay."
"Well anyway, the BU cops just wanted to talk with you. They left a number for you. It's on your desk."
I hadn't even looked on my desk when I came in from lunch. Alan reached over and handed me the piece of scratch paper where he had jotted down the number.
Twenty minutes later, after surviving the phone tree at the BU police station, and after explaining who I was to four separate people in what I assumed was increasing order of importance, I was finally connected to somebody who had heard of me. A pleasant female voice confirmed my identity using my BU student number along with a secret question that I had created way back on the first day of school.
"Sounds like you are who you say you are, TJ," she said.
I cleared my throat. "Um, yes. I am," I said. I lowered my voice to sound as butch as possible, not so much that Alan would hear me do it and give me shit, just enough to, you know, to sound, brave. I even felt myself sit up a little straighter on my bed.
"Well TJ, it's nice to connect with you. My name is Sergeant Taylor and I'm the public affairs officer here at BUPD," the nice lady cop said into the other end of the phone line. "I understand you've been in contact with the New Haven Police about a friend of yours who is missing, is that correct?"
"Yes, that's correct. Miss."
There was a pause on the other end. She was probably deciding whether or not to correct me. She didn't.
"The missing person is one Daniel Leeman, is that correct?" she asked me.
All of a sudden, my mouth was dry and my eyes were wet.
"Yes," I squeaked. Danny, not Daniel. Nobody ever called him that.
"I'm sorry to hear about this. From what I understand, he was last seen on Saturday evening and was reported missing on Sunday? Is that correct?"
"Yes, Sunday. That was the day he failed to appear for a track meet that you were both participating in. Is that correct?"
"Um, yes. Sunday. Yes," I stammered. Get a grip, TJ!
"Well, TJ, I'm sorry to report that there is no additional information on your friend Mr. Leeman."
A tear rolled down my cheek. It found it's way into my mouth.
"Um, really? Nothing? Nothing at all?" More tears came. This time from both eyes. They all wound up in the same place, and suddenly my lips were not dry anymore.
"No. I'm sorry TJ. But our department was contacted by an Officer, uh, uh..." There was quiet on the other end of the line and a faint rustling of papers.
"Ruggazione," I offered. My parents had raised me to be helpful whenever possible. I told my friend Max once that I think this made me better at being gay.
Still more pausing, and just a bit more rustling.
"Well, yes. An Officer Anthony Ruggazione."
"Yes," I said. "That's the guy who I spoke with when I filled out my report." I wondered why he didn't call me personally with an update. Was he frightened I'd ask him out on a date right over the phone?
"Yes, Officer Ruggazione was concerned about you TJ."
"Concerned? Why was he concerned?"
"He didn't say, he only said that he was concerned that you would have trouble dealing with this."
"Okay," I added, waiting for her to elaborate. Wouldn't everybody have trouble dealing with this?
"You know, concerned that this might have some negative impact on your performance."
"Yes. And that's why you're being contacted by BUPD."
"Um, well, of course I'm a little freaked out about this, you know what I mean?"
"Yes, TJ, I know what you mean. This is a terrible thing to happen to anyone."
More tears. Alan had rejoined me on my bed and had his arm draped awkwardly around my shoulders. He was still wearing shorts, but he still smelled like a Kit Kat bar, just a little less like a dick.
"So I just want you to know that BUPD is here for you. We can assist you in working with the New Haven police department, and we can assist you in finding resources to help you in school. My department here at BUPD is in contact with Student Services and we can help you get whatever you need.
Okay, that sounds a little too much like Big Brother for me.
"I see that you have a very high grade point average," the officer continued talking on the other end of the line. "I wouldn't want for the outstanding performance you've shown so far at BU to diminish."
She knew my grade point average? Some cop in Connecticut calls and she looks up my grade point average? This was getting weird.
"Um, well, okay, well that's great, I mean, I could use the..."
"I see you're taking Chemistry and Biology. Are you pre-med?"
"Yes," I answered. Come on! She even knew my class schedule?
"Those can be difficult courses TJ," she added in a very kind tone. She's a police officer at a university, how could she have any idea what my classes were like?
So many tears were coming down my face now, my mouth couldn't keep up. In a funny way, having somebody actually care about me when it was really Danny that needed all the help just struck me as so compassionate. I didn't know that colleges did this kind of stuff.
Alan grabbed a paper towel from his night stand and handed it to me. I smiled. We both knew what he usually used those paper towels for-and it wasn't dusting the furniture! Right now I just scrunched some up and covered my eyes, pressing hard.
"TJ, anything you need. Just call us here. There's always somebody here to answer the phones even when the Public Affairs office is closed."
"Great," I said weakly.
"I know this is tough for you," she added. It was necessary for her to be so nice to me. It made my cry even more. She clearly heard that I was a mess even over the phone.
"Oh, and TJ..."
"Officer Ruggazione also left a phone number for you. He said that it was a private number you should call if you learned any additional information that would be helpful to the investigation."
"A phone number?" I blubbered. I think I already had the guy's business card. Why did I need another way to get in touch with him?
"Yes. His private line. I think it's a cell."
She gave me the number and I wrote it down on some old scratch paper. But I didn't really need to write it down. I had it memorized as soon as my pen hit the paper. Officer Ruggazione's private number. His mobile phone! That night I slept better. Alan and I talked for a while, studied as much as we could under the circumstances, grabbed a quick dinner across the street on Comm Ave, and then hit the sack. It felt so much better to have this whole mess out in the open, to be able to have Alan to talk with about it all!