Mitchell King and I had been friends since our second day at elementary school; and I have to emphasise the 'had' part of that statement.
It started in junior high; we bagan to drift apart. As our intrests specalisied and inevatibly diverged our once inseperable frendship started to disolve. I guess there's nothing unique about that but now that we were both in our senior year at high school we almost never even acknowledge each other when we passed-by one another in the corridoor. So you can imagine my supprise when late one saturday afternoon mum yelled up from the kitchen.
"Grant, it's Mitch on the phone for you!"
It was the first time he had called me in almost two years.
"Hey Frog; thanks for comming over to do this, man."
I grinned. It had also been a very long time since I'ld been called that.
"Look I know we don't really get along anymore but..." Mitch stopped in mid-sentance.
He had met me in his parents' driveway. I had barely pulled in before he had appeared at the open driver's window of my Gramp's old Chevy pick-up.
"Hey Spud," I grinned again and wondered how long it had been for him. "Like I said on the phone, there was never any anamosity on my part; we just grew up and grew apart. Nothing else to it. We just found out we liked different things - that's all."
Mitch tapped on the truck and then heaved the heavy steel door open.
"Yeah; different things - argh, right!"
It wasn't until we were well into unloading the school's equiptment that it struck me that there was something oddly strange about the way he had said that.
Everything that had legs was grouped together in the middle of the King's large livingroom rug while the miriad of variously shaped black bags containing everything else lay right along the couch and atop the glass coffee table.
"So Spud," I said clapping my hands together, "where do you want me to set-up then?"
"It'll take a couple or so days to work through it all and then I'll chuck you a... ," I drew-out the last few words while fumbling in the side pocket of the last bag, "USB stick. Will that be okay?"
"The only copy," Mitch spoke nurvously. "Right Frog."
I climbed up behind the stering wheel and slid the key that I had finally found into the ignition. I was grinning again.
"You don't have to sound so scared Spud, remember this was all your idea. But look, I won't archive it or anything, I'll work straight from the cards. Anyway I'll be locking my bedroom door and closing the curtians," I said while chuckling slightly and slamming the truck's door closed. I started the engine and held in the clutch while I leaned out of the window.
"Hell if anyone came in I think I'ld have some pretty serious explaning to do."
As I drove-off down the street Mitch was standing at the foot of his parents' drive. He had his hands raised to about chest height and was slightly crouched. It was the stance of someone not sure if what he had just done was such a good decision after-all. Of someone not totally convinced that he could put all his trust in the bonds of an old friendship, and that hurt a little.
"No, I've just thought; what it's been just over a week and, you know, this is by far the longest time I've spent in your house for years. So did she like your... ," I paused to fine tune my choice of words, "...special not so little gift?"
"It went down very well. That's sorta why I asked you to come back over again." Mitch was dancing around what he actually wanted to say. "Very well indeed."
"Yeah? See more than just the president of the school photo club - me."
"That's the thing Frog, you see - um."
Mitch started odd sounding sentances several times without finishing any of them. He was trying to build himself up to asking what he really wanted to ask me; but never seemed to get quite close enough. His best attempt ended up something like:
'We were up in my room and woundered if you would... you know... maybe you would like to... argh, perhaps?'
"You mean the two of you? Together?" For some reason I couldn't stop running my hands past each other. "take photos of the both of you?"
"Together?" I repeated. "The girlfriend I took the pics of you jerking-off for and you, fucking?"
"That's about the size of it, Frog."
"Look; I now know exactly what size it is and my answer is still fuckn' NO-WAY!"
We both stood there at the bottom of the stairs not too sure what to do next.
"What the hell made you," I finally broke the few long seconds of silence, "think I'ld ... ?"
I grunted the rest of the remark away and stormed off; first slamming Mitch's front door open and then equally forcefully closed again.
I sat in my truck, not going anywhere, just parked on the Kings' driveway. My rage at his insulting proposition rapidly becoming disgust at the way that I had responded to it. I knew my reaction was justified but couldn't help feeling rather embaressed by my less than liberal minded actions in declining him and his girlfriend. I knew I had to appoligise.
The short walk back to his front door seemed extremely long.
"Look Mitchell, I'm..." I had opened the door and stepped inside without looking up.
"Holy-SHIT!" I added immediately after I did.
Mitchell was crying but that wasn't why I had reacated like that. It was one of those rare ocasions when you yourself can actually feel your own jaw drop!
Mitchell was sobbing - yes; but, more than that, he was held in the arms of..., His head held against the large bare chest of..., His forehead was being kissed by... Owen Jackson!"
"But black guys can't be gay, there's no such thing as a black queer."
Okay; so, for when finding-out your best boyhood friend was an homosexual it was a redicilous statement both in fact and as a response! Moreover, I even knew it at the very time I was saying it; but then this was Owen Jackson too.
The very Owen Jackson that was the captian of the same football team that Mitch was now the captian of, the Owen Jackson that was for years completely odored by both his fellow students and the high school faculty. The Owen Jackson, role-model to local African American youth, with a full college scoloarship down in Texas. The very Owen Jackson who was at this moment standing in Mr and Mrs King's hallway dressed in only his boxer shorts and tightly holding and gently kissing their only child!
"FUCK!!!" That was my second and probably a better response.
"I think we all need to have a little talk."
Even when speaking softly Owen's voice was just as strong and deep as I remembered from photographing all those years of high school pep-rallies.
I turned away as if to leave; but then only closed the front door.