To have looked at us, you would have never known it. It was not obvious or eye-catching. We were so much a like in mind, in body...and in spirit. No, you would have never known it.
Mom and I had been on our own for years. My father had walked out on us so long ago. And looking back on it, it was all for the best. The fighting, the hitting, the drinking...yes, it was definitely a better day after he walked out. And being only nine years old, I became the man of the house. Mom did an excellent job on her own. She held down two jobs...never missed one of my track meets, or guitar recitals, or football games. She never missed a PTO meeting or field trip. No, we didn't need him.
So for a few years, we were on our own...and, we liked it that way. However, in 2004 when she went on a blind date my aunt had set her up on, things would begin to change. I was thirteen then. And being an adolescent boy that fully believed the world revolved around him, the thought of change did more than frighten me.
As it would turn out, things became more than a simple blind date. Rick would come around more often over the next few months, introduced himself to me and took a general interest. And having a son my age, he knew what to expect from my smart, uninterested mouth more often than not.
Mother often scolded me. "Patrick, you have to give Rick a chance. He's just wanting to be your friend...for maybe us all to be a family one day," she had said. But, let's face it. I was jaded. And annoyed. His son Trent sounded like the all-American fantasy. He was an athlete, an "A" student, outgoing, goal-oriented. Mom would talk about all the stuff Trent was doing and how well we'd get along...how we had so much in common. I always listened in a disinterested fashion as I would pluck notes to random songs as she droned on and on about Rick and Trent.
The two of them had been through a lot. Rick had lost his wife to cancer several years back, and his main concern was taking care of his son. So, for years like Mom, he just didn't date. It wasn't important to him. Trent, on the other hand, was a girl magnet that had girls swooning at every bat of his eye-lashes...or that's the way Mom told it.
No, we didn't have that much in common. I'd known at that point that I was different. I knew that watching the girls getting out of the pool or running around in bikinis did nothing for me. No, not for me. However, I did notice that I would check out the jocks in the locker room...or eye over my gorgeous guitar instructor as he would demonstrate a riff. I noticed that my geometry teacher filled out his tweed pants well. I even noticed the muscular arms Rick had when he'd wrap them around Mom in a good night hug. So, to say the least, I knew that I was different. The word gay had yet to enter my mind though. Different made more sense. After all, it's not like I was trying to get a guy...no, now that would be gay.
So, weeks passed by, and Mom was truly happy. And one night, as I sat in my room running through power chords, I could hear the enormous commotion downstairs...the crying, the screaming. And as old habits die hard, I ran down the steps on the offense...but just to see Rick on one knee holding up a ring...and Mom in tears. And though I cracked a smile, I couldn't help but realize the disaster that could be looming.
Rick and Mom found it appropriate for everyone to meet everyone that weekend. Family and friends gathered, Rick was to man the grill, the women were to fawn over the ring. However, it was my plan to stay in my room, encapsulated by recordings of my favorite guitarist. I wasn't brooding. I was happy for them...I just didn't want to be part of it...and didn't a brother.
As I lay there on my bed, hearing the conversations come alive downstairs, thinking about random things, I heard a gentle knock on the door. "Yeah?" I had muttered. The door opened, and Rick peeked his head in with a wide smile across his face.
"Hey, buddy. What are you up here doing?" Rick's tone was gentle. He was definitely a good man...a man that I knew loved Mom. And, he was genuinely interested in me. Looking back, I wish I'd not been so cold in the beginning. "Mind if I come in?"
"Nope," I said disinterestedly as I stared at the ceiling. Rick closed the door behind him and moved over to the foot of my bed gesturing his hand requesting permission to sit. I shuffled my feet over to make room.
"Patrick...I...I know this is not easy for you. Trust me, my son is going through a tough time too. He's still hurt over losing Cheryl...and, it's been years. But, buddy, I just want to make sure you're okay. I'm not taking your mother away. I want us all to be a family. You and Trent are gonna get along just great, too. I'd love for you to come down and have some of my famous pork chops..." Rick trailed off, searching my face for something, anything...any kind of sign.
I shifted to my side, raising up on my elbow and looked at him in the eyes. He seemed so real and caring. "Rick, I know you are a good guy...just promise me you'll make Mom happy." A tear ran down my cheek...and, he wiped it away.
"I promise..." Rick whispered. "So, since we're all gonna be a family...maybe it's time you meet Trent. He's excited to meet you...won't you come down and see everybody?" Rick's eyes told me such much about him. This was a good man. And, I truly wanted us to be a family. But, Trent wasn't like me...I couldn't go forever living in his shadow. But, that's a bridge I would have to cross later. Rick was right. For now, it was time to meet my new brother.
As Rick and I walked down the stairs, I stopped in my tracks on the landing. There he was, talking and laughing with Mom. She had shown me pictures of him before...pictures of him in his football gear or playing baseball with his Dad. But nothing prepared me for what he truly was. He was a couple of inches taller than me, well built and tanned. His boyish good looks were obvious to those swarming around him as he cast out his crooked grin. His deep brown eyes though...they were something to behold. They were real, refreshing, honest...smoldering.
He excused himself from the crowd and walked my way. Rick still had his hand on my shoulder and gave me a gentle squeeze for encouragement. "Hi! I'm Trent." His face beamed with excitement as he introduced himself.
"I'm Patrick," I said in a low whisper. "It's good to finally meet you...brother." Trent grinned from ear to ear and took a step forward to hug me. His arms, muscular and tight, wrapped around me. He rested his chin on my shoulder. I stood there for what seemed minutes, unsure of how to respond. However, I snapped back to reality and hugged him tightly in return. The silent crowd...along with Mom and Rick...watched adoringly as a wave of sniffles and abated breath overcame the room.
A few of years had gone by, and now at sixteen, Trent and I had begun to prepare for our independence while Mom and Rick braced themselves to watch us drive on our own for the first time. Time also had enriched our friendship, Trent and me. We were as close as any brothers could be, I suppose.
We spent hours alone laughing, joking, wrestling. We were both in the 10th grade, Trent had finally made varsity football and I was the drum major for the marching band. I was so proud of him. He worked relentlessly to improve his game...extra work outs, special diets, extra practices. He loved the game.
And, I loved playing for him. Yes, I loved my school and team, but the fight song was for him...I'd told him that countless times. And even though it sickened me to watch him studying the plays on the sidelines while ogling the cheerleaders, I still loved him. After all, for a while now when I'd lay in my room at night feverishly jerking my dick, it was him I'd think about. Being his brother came with a lot of advantages, after all. Seeing him naked after a shower, his hair wet and dripping around his gorgeous brown eyes and tanned features, the water running down his muscular back, thick neck and broad shoulders, the tuft of hair between his pecs curled in wetness...and, the way he'd stride around in a towel that covered his perfectly shaped ass. Yes, it had its perks.
There'd even been a time that I had mistakenly walked in on him jacking off. His tool, glistening from this pre-cum, the shaft red and veiny...all completely hairless. And to my amusement, he never stopped his stroke. He simply offered for me to join him watch the porn on display. I looked at the TV and watched two girls grinding their wet pussies against each other, their moans filling the room. And though the image was entirely lost on me, I graciously accepted the invite, sat next to him and stroked eagerly...using him as my visual stimuli.
There was nothing that had been out of the way. No touching or any kind of interaction...simply what sixteen year olds did, I suspect. Nevertheless, it fueled my jerking sessions more often than not...the images of him leaving practice in his football pants, shirtless. Or watching him make out with a girl as his body tensed in response to her touch. Even the way he ate...so barbaric like. And yet, it was adorable to watch him. "What I would give to be his," I often thought.
Still at that point, gay hadn't been a word I would have used to describe myself. But, there again, I knew I was different. Trent often had a different girlfriend every week and would boast about this one making out with him, or this one letting him go to third base, or one even that had sucked his dick. Me, however, no...I was content with my fantasy...how ever one would describe it.
In June of 2009, our senior year was finally approaching. Trent turned eighteen that month, and I soon followed that August the week before school. While many of our friends returned to school discussing who was going to do what where, Trent and I had our own discussion.
"Pat," he called me, "What are you planning to do next year?" His eyes were distantly scanning the road as we drove to school. "I mean, what? College? A job?"
"Well, I don't know. I guess I'm going to college. I'm supposed to meet with a counselor this week to discuss the options. My grades are good enough for a scholarship, but one of music teachers suggested that I try to go for a fine arts scholarship instead. Why do you ask?" I looked at Trent and read something was wrong.
"I don't know. I've just been thinking about the Marines, you know? Get to see the world...all the opportunity that comes with it..." he trailed off.
"You're joking! Mom and Dad would freak, Trent! And what about football? You don't wanna give that up." The thought of him leaving sickened me. I couldn't lose him. He'd get killed or would never come back home.
"It's just a thought, Pat. Lighten up! Stop being so damn dramatic!" Trent was obviously irritated at my lack of enthusiasm and support. I knew he meant well. His grades weren't the best anymore. And the shot of a football scholarship was slim in our neck of the woods.
"I'm not, Trent. Sorry...but I care." We rode in silence to school for a mile or so. I stared aimlessly at the window, still shaken at the thought of my brother being blown to bits or murdered by some covert. A single tear fell from my eye. I loved my brother, and as I thought back to the past, the initial recoil I'd had at the idea of having a family...it was simply amazing how all that had changed.
"Pat, I'm sorry. Look bro, it's just something I'm thinking about. Okay? Don't go telling Mom and Dad anything. Just forget I mentioned it." He pulled into the parking lot and shifted into park, got out and walked towards the entrance. I watched the way his board shorts clung to his perfect ass, his thick tanned legs flexed with every step...the way he ran his fingers through his long hair. Silently, I knew that this wasn't the end of it...
A few weeks had passed, and the entire school was filled with our colors of black and gold as we prepared for Homecoming week. It was a big year for both Trent and I as seniors. He was a starting lineman that year, elected the homecoming king of the court sided by his queen...a girl he saw on and off. For me, the homecoming parade and halftime show were always the highlight of the season. And, watching my brother play, cheering him on...it made it all the better.
We'd had a good season so far, so our victory was expected. And that night as many of the football players, cheerleaders and main stream "in" crowd trekked off for a party, I stood alone in the band room packing my bags for home. It was the price of having the perfect, popular brother...having to live in the shadows. I know he never really thought about it-never thinking to invite me-but so badly I would have loved to have been included.
I stood there in front of the wall of mirrors, looking myself over in a school t-shirt, athletic shorts and sandals. At six feet tall, tanned skin, shaggy brown hair, grey eyes, boyish good looks, 160 pounds of lean muscle, I looked the part of the crowd. I was smart, witty, interesting...I had opinions and interests. I could be a part of that crowd. But, there was only room for one of us it seemed. And, I had learned to accept that.
I was startled as the door slammed behind me. It was Trent...beaming. Freshly showered and dressed in colors of black and gold school paraphernalia, he looked like he was on cloud nine. "What are you doing here?" I asked him. "I thought you were going out."
"I am," he smiled. "But, I forgot something I wanted to tell you...you should be the first to know."
My brother stood there, with his hip cocked out looking like the rooster of the farm. "Let me guess...you just fucked Tiffany?"
"Um, no." He laughed heartily. "Did you know we had scouts here tonight?" I shook my head. "Yeah, we did. They came from Alabama and Ole' Miss." He was grinning from ear to ear.
"And..." I couldn't stand the suspension.
"Well, Coach says that they were interested in me. Said I had potential. They're coming to see some practices and a couple games in the next few weeks."
"Oh my God, Trent!" Excitedly, I ran to him and jumped into his arms. He caught me and spun me around. I couldn't have been happier for him. "I'm so proud for you, Trent! This is it! It's what you've been waiting for!"
He slowed his spin and sat me down in front of him. And, we stood there. He was a little taller than I was, and as I gazed up in his eyes, I swelled with pride for him. His brown eyes swallowed me whole as we stood there for all of time. I felt his hands fall from my sides to the small of my back, with the thumb of his right hand gently stroking me through my t-shirt. I watched his neck flush before my very eyes, his veins distend from his sinewy neck. His breathing had a quickened pace that was only matched by mine. And, in a moment that I had completely forgotten myself and my place, I leaned up to him, closing my eyes. As I continued my endless journey to his lips, I felt his left hand at the back of my head, pulling me into him.
Forcefully, he pulled me closer...our lips meeting in a hurried passion. I opened my mouth, accepting his advances as his tongue bathed mine and explored my mouth before he quickly shoved me away. The abrupt break in our kiss left me staggering and dazed. And as I gazed upon him, my sight adjusting to the stars that encircled me, I saw the panic in his eyes. I was speechless, lost on words, but I knew he was scared.
I took a step towards him, and he reciprocated with a step back before running out of the band room. "What have I done?" I scolded myself. "What in the hell have I done?"
It had been a few weeks since the kiss, and Trent was completely distant. We didn't speak. We didn't even look each other in the eye...but, for totally separate reasons. I felt like I had betrayed him in some way...taking advantage of a moment. And Trent...I knew he was mortified. Here was the All-American Football Star, the bull of the high school that got any girl he wanted, the boy's boy, the man's man...and, I'm sure he felt like he had fallen from grace.
I died a little every day without him...not knowing how to approach him or how to make things right. Over that period of time, however, the family looked on as he played the game and impressed the scouts. Things were looking wonderful for his future. I'd often thought about him getting into the University of Alabama and being there to watch him as I lead a section of the Million Dollar Band. But, I knew that the damage was irreversible.
The University of Alabama scout had approached Trent at one of the play off games, giving him his word that he was a shoe in. And as Trent relayed the news to the family, Mom in celebratory tears, Dad lifting his 220 pound son off of the floor...Trent walked up to me...and offered me a handshake. I had simply smiled weakly and turned to walk away before he grabbed my arm with such force. As Mom and Dad celebrated, hugged and kissed in the background, Trent looked me in the eye. Holding my arm, refusing to let me go, jerking me back with my every attempt to leave, Trent mouthed the words, "I'm sorry" before letting me go.
I ran up to my room, closing the door, drowning in music from Breaking Benjamin. And as I lay there on my bed staring at the ceiling, I couldn't help but be frustrated. "I'm sorry...for what? For making me feel like a bitch? For making me an outcast? For not being what I wish you were?" The entire ordeal made me livid.
TO BE CONTINUED...