In the time it took to arrive at the hospital, I couldn't help but feel as if I was a pawn in a game that had been discussed, planned, and executed all without my knowledge. At the heart of this game were Kyle Ackers and Doug Merrick. Two boys who, I was told, had a sorted history; one of camaraderie, trust, friendship, perhaps even love, and who shared a great many things and yet managed to keep them secretive.

Kyle was a smart guy; smarter than I would have given him credit for, but he was also devilishly clever.

As I sat there, I glanced at him behind the wheel. He was very much in control of this situation and perhaps even others I was not aware of. What was his power over Doug? Was Doug so easily influenced by him that he was willing to do whatever Kyle asked of him.

Doug certainly wasn't the brightest candle on the cake. But he demonstrated a presence that easily overtook me - and I let him.

But why?

Why did I allow Doug to have such an effect on me? I was beginning to feel scared and angry. I had promised my dad that I knew what I was doing - but clearly I didn't. It was time to get out of this situation if all possible.

The car turned into the driveway of the Hospital and I could see my parent's car under the overhang to the emergency room. My mother was standing inside the sliding doors. When Kyle pulled up, she came outside and helped me out of the car.

"Oh honey, what did you do?"

"It's okay mom, I just bumped my head."

"I think he'll be fine Mrs. Shaw. He doesn't seem to have a concussion and he was awake the whole time here."

My mom looked at Kyle puzzled. She had not been introduced to him, so had no reference for why this young man had brought her son to the hospital.

"Thank you for bringing him young man" she replied with courtesy.

"Would you like me to help you get him inside?"

"I can make it on my own - thanks" Kyle grabbed my left arm firmly and said, "No, I think I should help you inside Jason. I wouldn't want you to fall again."

Inside the hospital I was taken to one of the exam rooms. While I waited, a nurse took my vitals and looked at my head wound.

"Yep, I believe you are going to have a few stitches young man. Just hold this ice pack on it while I get the doctor."

"How are you feeling honey?"

"Fine mom"

"Theresa called, and I was so worried. I called your father at work, but you know how busy he is, I did leave him a message."

"Sure"

Kyle stood off to the side studying the interactions between my mother and me. Then he spoke up and said how lucky I was to have such a caring mother. His had left him when he was 12 and he was raised by his father. We both looked at him not knowing what to say.

"Kyle, I'm so sorry - I didn't realize", I said.

The nurse returned with the doctor and asked mom and Kyle to wait outside while they stitched me up. I had a head CT and four staples put in my head from the fall. I was told to have no heaving lifting and to not return to work for a couple of days until the wound had time to heal.

As mom and I left the hospital, I found it odd that Kyle continued to hang around. But when we went out into the parking, I saw Doug waiting in his car. Kyle went to him as Mom and I got into her car. I noticed Kyle hand Doug a white plastic bag and then leave.

What was in the bag?

On the drive home, I tried to close my eyes and relax. At home I went straight to my room to lie down. Mom came upstairs shortly after.

"Jason - make sure you don't fall asleep. The doctor said you need to stay awake."

"I know mom, I'm just going to watch some TV."

"Okay dear, I will check on you in a while."

"Fine mom"

The storm outside was passing, and I could see the horizon was beginning to clear. I got up from bed and went to the window. Have you noticed how everything seems to look like it is 'Technicolor' after a thunderstorm? Everything is so vivid.

It was then that I noticed Doug's car parked down the street. His lights and wipers were off. I couldn't see whether if he was car. The idea that he had followed me home was unsettling, especially after what Kyle had told me earlier. I stepped away from the window and went back to bed. Eyeing the window that looked out over my garage I had a fear that he might try to come to the window again - so I locked it and closed the blinds.

I was afraid.

I lay on the bed, pulled my comforter up over me, and closed my eyes.

I awoke some time later to someone shaking my shoulder and saying my name. Not fully awake I rubbed my eyes and rolled over. Having misjudged my position in bed and my distance from the edge, I fell onto the floor.

'Jesus Jason, are you okay," said a male voice. I opened my eyes and saw a black pair of Adidas trail shoes a few inches from my face.

I looked up and saw Donny staring back at me. I was so relieved.

I sat up and felt a wave of emotion wash over me. I almost felt like crying.

"Oh man, I am so glad to see you" I told him. He knelt down and looked at me.

"Carissa sent me a text to say you had to go to the ER because you hit your head?"

"Yeah, I've got four staples." Donny gently pulled my head down and found the area.

"Ouch! Didn't that hurt?"

"No, they numbed me up before they shot me."

"What happened?"

I wasn't sure how much detail to go into, but just seeing Donny made me feel as if it was going to be okay. So I told him everything that happened from the last time that I saw him. Afterward, Donny took a seat in the corner chair of my room and told me he didn't understand.

"I know I don't understand it either."

He shook his head, ran his fingers through his hair, and then shot me a look of complete disgust, "How could have sex with Doug not even 10 minutes after I left your house the other night? Does what we did mean nothing to you?"

"WHAT!"

Donny stood up and went to the bedroom door.

"Donny wait..."

"You know Jason; I don't feel sorry for you one bit. You don't even realize with the hell you are doing to people."

"What people? You?"

"Yeah me, and Doug - your parents. And now Kyle for Christ's sake?"

There was a knock at the door and then it opened a little.

It was Doug.

"Oh great" I said aloud.

Donny stepped back and we both watched Doug come into my room carrying that white bag.

"Is this a bad time", he asked.

Donny laughed and shook his head, "Of course you're here" he said to Doug. "You know what Doug, I'm not sure what the two of you have going, but he is all yours. I'm done. Jason - I expected so much more from you man. I thought we were friends."

"Donny we are!" I tried to reassure him.

"Friends don't treat each other like this" and he stormed out of my room. My head fell into my hands.

"What was that all about", Doug asked.

I shook my head, looking down between my legs at the carpet. That's when Doug dropped the plastic bag that had my stuff from the pool last night.

"Your dad and I brought your car home from the pool. Those are the other things you left inside. Kyle was going to give them to your mom but you seemed in such a hurry to leave the hospital that he gave them to me."

I glanced inside the bag and saw my cell phone and wallet along with my shirt, underwear, and shorts.

"Don't worry - it's all there."

I looked up at him with sadness on my face. What was he doing to me? Was he trying to be my friend, my brother, my lover? He smiled back at me and took a seat on the floor.

"So how bad is it?" he asked regarding my head.

I leaned my head to the side so he could see. I felt his fingers move the strands of hair out of the way.

"Eh, it doesn't look so bad" he assured me.

"I have the worst headache."

"Do you want me to get you something?"

"Would you?"

"Sure, I'll be right back." Doug left my room and I heard him call for my mom and ask for some Tylenol. I climbed back up into bed and propped my head up. My ice pack had melted, so I flung it on the floor. Doug noticed it when he came back in.

"Do you want me to get you another one?"

"Could you?"

He handed me two Tylenol and a glass of water, then asked if he could get me anything else.

I shook my head 'no' and he left with the pack.

When he returned, he gently placed it on my head and took a seat next to me. I looked at him trying to figure out what to say next, but all I could think of was how I had hurt Donny. I felt no remorse for being with him instead of Doug. And then he spoke up.

"So I guess Kyle told you that we saw you two at the pool."

"He mentioned it."

"Listen, I don't want you to think I was spying on your or something. I was jealous that you were going without me."

"So you followed me?"

"Well, Kyle went with me. We had hotdogs across the street from Joe's and saw the movie too. It was pretty good, didn't you think?"

"You were in the theatre? "

He looked down in shame and told me that he knew it was wrong. "But I wanted to be with you."

"And what about Donny; are you jealous of him too?"

"Am I jealous of you and Donny; no. The way I saw it - you were doing him a favor."

"A favor"

"Sure - I can't think of anyone that doesn't wonder what it would be like to be with another guy. Especially someone they trust. It makes all the difference in the world. Guys do it all the time. But guys are also pigs; which I don't have to tell you."

"Now I'm a pig." I was beginning to realize it more and more - feeling awful about myself in the process.

"It was pretty hot though. Kyle jerked off on the hood of my car."

"The hood of your car"

"Well, we were drinking a few beers watching you and the girls mess around, and when they left, we watched the two of you go at it on the pool deck."

I felt so embarrassed, "oh my god."

"Don't worry Jason, it was fun to watch."

The fact that he admitted to watching us made me feel even more uneasy. "I'm glad I could entertain the two of you."

Doug grasped my hand and told me that he wasn't mad, "It made me realize how lucky I am to have you."

"You feel lucky to have me?"

I saw him grin and he said 'yes'. He looked adorable sitting there. I reached my arms out and he came into me, laying his head on my chest and laying his arm across my stomach. I'm not sure how long we lay there, but I heard my mom open the door and turn off the light.

She must have thought everything was going to be okay; and so did I.

 

Christian Crowne

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