TROY

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Woke up at noon on a Sunday just before spring, and the sky was me! After two weeks of cold weather, the snow was finally melting, and it was 50 degrees. To be honest, I could have slept even longer, because me and Troy were out late on a mission-impossible.

After working out a couple more times in the basement with Jason, he had stopped asking me to come over. He was maybe going to prom with some girl other than Rachel, and that was all he had talked all about. Troy made me work out with him at that point, cuz he had been on my case about “bulking up” all year.

Me and Troy started hanging out a lot at that point. Troy was the best at pulling me out of a funk or making me forget about reality. He sees the world upside down, like God created man for Troy’s amusement, not His own. That saved me from the winter purples, grays and blacks. I don’t believe in winter "blues” for obvious reasons. 

So, yesterday afternoon, we hit Lana’s because we didn’t have anything to do. But after, like, two minutes there we ruined her life forever, and then had that shit to clean up for the rest of the day.

It goes like this: Lana was rocking out to her iPod in the backyard and she didn’t hear us come through the gate. Troy made this plan for me to slide under her lounge chair and shake the shit out of it, while he just screams at the top of his lungs. It was hilarious! But, also NOT. The iPod flew out of her hand and smashed on the concrete. She was pissed.

She wailed on Troy, totally berated me, and swore like Anna Karennina on crack. But that only got Troy going, especially since he hates her superior attitude. The iPod screen was completely smashed, making the screen saver of her cat Fluffy's look like a horror-movie poster. She didn't give a shit that the interface was intact and it still worked. Troy promised to get her another one. But this didn’t stop the onslaught.

We left after learning that we were complete morons and assholes in two languages. I heard “Blyadtch” a hundred times in my life from this one Russian. Apologizing to Lana never works, so we just got out of there. And I had enough of her shit when we dated last year. Troy was still laughing as her dad told us never to come back. “I’ll get you a new one, sweetie,” Troy shouted to her, as she slammed her front door.

We got into his getaway truck and got away. “You’re not going to get her a new iPod.” I just knew he wouldn’t bother.

“No way. I'll get her a new screen, if I can. If not, shit, I guess she’s outta luck.” He looked straight at me and laughed like a mad man. I shook my head, thinking how am I gonna fix this? I looked out the window as we drove to Plan A: hit up his uncle’s for some cash. Really, we were just looking for something to do.

“I hope my uncle has some money for me.”

“Oh, he owes you?

“No, I just need some money. We can get a game to share for the PS4."

“Um, what about the iPod?”

“Fuck that. Lana deserves it. She is so uptight. She fucking swore at me, that butt-lick. She really needs to get laid. Did you guys really not do it? I mean, she is Russian, right?”

“Well, Ukrainian, actually. No, man. We didn’t, cuz I didn’t want her clinging to me and she’s a citizen so she doesn’t need to blow guys to get a green card or anything. She called you a fuckin gorilla.”

“Hah,” said Troy out the window, as he barreled down the highway to his uncle’s car repair shop. “You are just too shy and scared, Blue Man.” He pushed my shoulder hard so that I hit the window. Off the freeway were a mess of houses painted the wrong colors, telephone lines that probably didn't work, birds flying nowhere. We pulled off and played a game of shitty suspension vs. bottomless potholes.

“We need to get you some.  Lana and Maria are all the girl you could want, and you just act like you are retarded.”

“Fuck up!” I yelled (combination of “shut up” and “fuck off” that I accidentally said last summer, and now we use it as an alternative). I keep telling you that no-one says "retarded" anymore! And, OK: Lana, I didn’t want to, and Maria wouldn’t let me!" 

"You’re uncle works downtown?” I asked, cuz Troy was silent for once.

“No," said Troy, "about halfway. Why you scared?”

“Yeah, that’s me, I’m always scared. This is the Indian neighborhood.”

“What tribe?”

“You’re a dumb-ass.””

“Don’t’ worry, we’re dude-bros. We be cool. Hah. ‘Sup, homey. What’s the 411 on Hollister?”

“That doesn’t even make sense!” His verbal bullshit used to annoy me. Now I like it, so it’s funny. It keeps the gray winter thoughts from turning black.

“Hah. Don’t worry man, you just got bad luck.”

“I’m not worried.”

“And that’s what worries me, see?”

“Fuck up about it!”

“Chill dude, I wouldn’t do Lana anyway. And Maria is like—I would feel wrong doing her. The Maria-ness is just too powerful, like seeing the face of God.”

“Totally. She’s like a Goddess, man. She would turn me into a slave or…”

“…Shit, I’ll show her a God. I’ll be her Adonis.”

“Whatever. You talk in circles.”

“Here’s my uncle’s shop.”

There were three beat-up junkers parked in a cracked-tar lot. No sound of work being done in the square brick building. It had one garage door for service and one person-sized door that said “office.” Inside the garage the car lift was up with nothing on it. Two old guys were sorting tires and Troy called out for his uncle.

Uncle Chris was really old—his second uncle, his dad’s uncle. He had black hands and a uniform with his name on it. Before he turned toward us he finished saying something to the other guy about “fucking India” owning Jaguar.

Uncle Chris said, “Troy, where have you been? I need your help at the shop.”

“I thought that was for the summer…” If Troy was really confused, I couldn’t tell.

“No, Manny and I need your help, now. Didn’t your dad tell you?”

“No.” Ok, Troy definitely lied; I knew that much. 

“He’s going back to Puerto Retardo!” Then he laughed hard and hit Manny on the back.

“Shut up white man,” said Manny. “Maricone.”

“Fuck you,” said Uncle Chris. “It’s dinner time. What are we having?”

“Not hamburgers, again. No way.”

“No tacos either,” Uncle Chris said really ignorantly. I couldn’t tell if they hated each other or not. They gave each other the finger. Manny got in one of the junkers and it actually started.

“See you Troy. You done with your community service yet?”

“Shit, no. Got like 10 more hours”

“Get that done, man.” He drove off.

Troy said, “Uncle Chris, can I do my community service here?”

“Yeah! Then I don’t have to pay you!” said Uncle Chris.

“No, you are still allowed to pay me.” His uncle seemed to think this made sense, getting paid to volunteer. Troy said he’d be by next Saturday.

“Who is your friend, here?” said Uncle Chris, when I waved goodbye.

“Him? Oh, him. Yeah. Uncle Chris?” he said as he put his arm around me. "This is my boyfriend.”

“Oh, no!” His uncle was blown over in a stupid way, talking about how everyone is gay now and he and Manny are gay, too. “The Pope is fucking gay. Oh, shit!”

Uncle Chris looked at me with a smile. “Well, you are skinny! My wife Rita’s friend says all gays are skinny! Hah, hah, hah.” Troy and his uncle were busting up and I laughed, too, on cue. They are exactly alike. Must be the whole family.

We were on the road again with our so-called plan to make money to pay for Lana’s iPod. It’s never gonna work, I thought, because Troy waiting a week to make a few bucks and probably not show up, combined with Lana being pissed at us Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday was not a plan.

Bummed me out for a minute. So, why did I then think of Jason?I didn't want to be fucking gay, of course, but I was thinking maybe I was cuz of him. Not because of the locker room thing, but because of our wrestling match, if you could call it that. I wanted to wrestle again. When did I ever want to wrestle?

That’s what I was thinking again and again for weeks when we stopped working out. I thought maybe I could get pinned again, or maybe I could get muscular and pin him and make him pass out, flatten his face on the floor and….

Oh, fuck! What am I thinking? I’m a fucking faggot!

I can’t say that it just hit me at that point, because the “hit” was like a month-long thing. Like swallowing a sticky glob of peanut butter that finally drops into your stomach. And that’s literally where I felt it right then.

What I felt next was the need to get fucked up. Troy didn’t know why I got so moody—laughing so hard that I went silent and drooled spit; then just staring at my shoes, wanting to throw them away for the tenth time. I lost my orbit around the Earth, got sucked into a worm hole, then spat back into the present.

Troy liked my idea of asking my mom for some money and getting an iPod on e-Bay, because then his problem would be solved. But he also wanted to keep driving around and see what he could get from people, a juvenile delinquent turning into a career criminal. Maybe, a crazy killer?

He had punched a kid for real two months ago at the pool and later found out this huge kid was in middle school. That landed him in front of a magistrate with 30 hours of community service and some other things he had to do. He did start his community service right away, but then he stopped going and forgot about it--until his mom reminded him of the next court date.

He said to me: “Maybe the judge will let me go this time for doing a favor for a friend.”

“You mean Lana’s iPod? I don’t think the judge will care, Troy. You are not in trouble for breaking her iPod. You just rearranged the face of a quote/end quote child because he asked if you are retarded when you slipped on the steps at the pool." A classic case of poetic justice!

"What are you gonna do if you don’t have your community service done in two weeks?” I asked.

“Fuck if I know.”

I questioned him more, offered suggestions, and tried to plan for him to come out ok--when I realized that he didn’t care. So why should I? But I did. Another realization to match “I’m Blue and I’m gay”: I try to help people who don’t want my help. It’s fucking frustrating.

I needed to tell Troy that I am gay and I-don't-know-what: help me, save me, hug me? I was going nuts and I really needed a hug. But, you don’t tell your macho friend that you are gay and then ask him for a hug. No need to do research with three references to find that out!

My downward spiral was complete for the day.  I want Jason and I need Troy and they cannot know what I am thinking. I'm stuck on the DL, so I don't get what I want from either of them.

Troy, driving us out of the city: “You are now exiting no man’s land, on your way back to comfortable middle-class life in suburbia, where the grass is green and exactly 4 inches tall, and all the weeds run for their lives…”

“We are middle class?” I asked.

“We are full class.” I gave up questioning these revelations a long time ago.

His cousin was drinking when we showed up, and thank God. I needed to forget my realization, or needed to at least slow the flow of Fuck Me's that were filling up my brain. My friends didn’t know that I drank alone, but Troy found out that I drink plenty when we go to his cousin’s house.

Cousin Eddie was this serious-looking nut case who wanted us to get our hands wet and put them in the fire pit he had in his backyard. He told us if your hand or your arm was nice and wet you could wave it slowly through the fire and not get burned—even though it looked like it should be on fire. Troy was like no thanks to that! But he did have some vodka. I didn’t like the idea either, until I had two shots of some licorice shit, and then I got all self-destructive in my downward spiral, sponsored by Tool:

And we’re sinking deeper. Desperate to control. Unable to forgive. And we’re sinking deeper….” *

Playing with fire, or actually setting things on fire, is a trait of psychopaths. I hope I’m not a psychopath like the one Columbine killer. I know I’m not “homicidally depressed” like the second killer, cuz I would never try to kill someone who wasn’t me. But I don’t’ see how I could kill myself either, that’s way too extreme. Some famous guy once said that If you are desperate enough to commit suicide you should be desperate enough to find a solution to suicide, too. I believe that.

I don’t remember how he got his cousin to give him money. I was too engrossed in the fire and it’s flickers and flashes. I kinda liked it there for a while--wanting and not wanting to get burned--cuz his cousin didn’t care and I could just zone out and let Troy talk his bullshit.

Then Troy’s voice was competing with the lyrics in my head: “Be careful, Blue Man, you’re really gonna burn your arm!” Troy being concerned about safety? Man, I really wanted a hug, then. I dipped my arm in the water and splashed him, and his cousin roared, and I felt powerful for a minute. Like a psychopath, I guess.

Lifts you up like a child, or drags you down like a stone, to consume you….” *

I told Troy that for years I thought that I could become a killer. All these school shootings are no joke, but we busted up laughing. I cried, too, because of the alcohol, but they couldn't tell. Troy laughed at me, like, “yeah right, like you could get that mad.” That’s how I was funny, that it was hilarious that I could be tough, or enraged, or kill someone.

So, next we got a used, but “like new,” iPod from his cousin’s friend, who lined up a dozen of them on the table. I didn’t ask where he got them; that would be rude and stupid. Never act rude and stupid when you drink too much.

Fuck me, but we went to Lana’s house drunk, too. Bad idea to be drunk when she and her Dad hated us already, and told us to never come back. Troy drunk is like double crazy. Me, I could go either way--goofy or sad--depending on who I am with. If I didn’t need that hug so bad, I would have been Troy's mini-me.

We drove to Lana's house with the cold air blowing in the windows and the heat turned up. I kept seeing my arm in the fire. The flames take my arm completely, then my whole body--like a stunt guy--and I melt into the fire pit and disappear. I woke up from this daydream as we pulled in the driveway.

We walked up to the front door, not thinking about how her Dad chased us out and Lana cursed us. (Shit, it's so easy to accidentally drive drunk, but of course, I wore my seat belt.) So, knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell seemed, in my soggy brain, like it caused the sun to rise inside the house. That’s when I first thought, “Oh! Shit. We shouldn’t be here.”

But the Door opened and Lana stood there with her hands on her hips, like an evil queen or a pissed off princess. And Daddy stood behind her like the king of the house. I mean, duh.

Troy was so sure that the new iPod would set things straight, that he smiled with all of his teeth. He just held up the iPod like he found a fucking diamond in the river and the whole kingdom would be saved. So, I smiled, too, hoping they would decide that it wasn’t my fault, cuz I didn’t think of that stupid joke in the first place. But I knew that if Lana's Dad beat Troy's ass, my own dead body would be impossible to recognize.

The princess, of course, grabbed the shiny gem and was deciding if it would do—if she would spread the wealth, or if she would deprive the village of clean water and fresh bread. Meanwhile, the King descended from his throne and came to have the court judge the guilty, with the curses he taught his only daughter and heir. Me and Troy backed up onto the lawn and tripped over each other like a couple of hobbits, while trying to will Lana to love her gift and shut up.

I sat up on the grass and said, “the princess and the king.” That was all Troy needed to let loose his high-pitched, girly scream again. Their stupid, angry faces were priceless.

I was always sober while I was drunk and aware of what was really happening. So, I still knew that my life was shit and couldn’t get worse. It didn’t matter what I did. Lana would never change: the ex-girlfriend, the snotty Russian I wronged somehow and never slept with. To Maria, I was Little Boy Blue, who kissed her once when I wasn’t allowed. And, I was probably too nice to kill someone and too weak to even hurt them much.

So I said fuck it! I grabbed Troy, like a barrel, onto me, and we rolled over each other across the front lawn, and I got what the fuck I wanted. I was drunk and didn't care how I acted. I hugged him tight and we tumbled around and I had my gay romance right there on the lawn. And I laughed—if that’s what makes things OK— like it was a crazy thing to do. Troy was my blood brother, anyway. The next day, he would still be Troy.

Anyway, we were banished “forthwith.” We drove off listening to Lana spit venom about how she hates us and the color orange. That is the color of the thing we spent our whole day to find.

* [Lyrics from “the Grudge,” by Tool]