“NOAH came by last night after you left, you know, Kai. He sort of snuck in wearing a black hoodie, with the hood up, naturally, loitered around in the back by the men’s room, leaned up against the wall like he was too cool to drink coffee, and watched the crowd for a while, and then he skulked out, without even ordering a lousy cup of anything.”
No sooner is the bedroom door shut than I toss the phone onto my dresser like it’s burning my fingers to hold it. Way to go, self. Way to make things awkward. Chance latches onto me from behind. His icy arms come around my neck and he hangs there, burrowing his face against my back.
At six o’clock, the indoor pool in the relatively new gym complex had no aqua aerobics, no recreational swimmers, and, often, nobody but Dawson, doing laps in that happy, mind-numbing splashy echo of one person in a swimming pool. He’d been on the swim team in high school and had won a handful of bronze medals, but nobody had ever accused him of being a superstar. That didn’t stop his love of what swimming did for his body.
My name is Brian Patrick McAllister, and I am going to hell.
“In Romans 1:24-28, we find that God calls these people and these acts that they perform unnatural—an abomination against him. It says, ‘Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen’,” the preacher cried, slamming his beefy hand onto the straining wood of the pulpit. In response there was a resounding chorus of “Amen!” throughout the small congregation. I looked around and found that they were all, Jamie’s mother included, enthralled by this charismatic, white-haired Baptist preacher. Even though they were fanning themselves or wiping their brows in the sweltering heat of the late southern Alabama morning, their attention never wavered.
“YOU are going to come and help me at the church tomorrow afternoon, aren’t you, Adam?”
Adam Matthew Jameson swallowed the steak in his mouth and looked at his mother from across the dining room table. Margaret Jameson was a beautiful woman for her age. She was very thin and her features very delicate; her skin was pale, as if she did not spend much time in the sun. Today, her shiny blonde hair was pulled back into a tight bun, and she was wearing a blue floral-print dress that brought out the color in her eyes.
By Wednesday morning, there’s no denying I’m run down. I’m achy, tired. The fever is in its fourth day, and I promised Dad. I make an appointment at the health center for late morning. Maybe I can get a vitamin shot or at least some assurance that this fever has just about run its course.
I don’t know the Sam Houston campus well at all. In the fall and spring, my graduate classes are online (although I’m not taking a class this spring; I plan to be busy with the admin training program). And when I do come up for graduate classes in the summer, I park outside the education building, go to my classroom, and straight back to my car an hour or two later. I had to look at a map of the campus just to come up with an easy-to-find place to meet.
Corey was helping a girl with her algebra homework when Stat Guy walked into the tutoring center. He hadn’t thought he’d see the guy again. He’d seemed pretty spooked last time they talked. To be honest, Corey had been a little spooked as well. He liked to keep his private life private, especially at work, so he’d been thrown off guard when the guy asked Corey about Jack.
I’ve always thought Bobby is handsome, well cute really; but as we lay there together how totally beautiful he is overwhelmed me. I had never kissed a guy before, but there in the darkness, it not only seemed natural it seemed called for. I kissed him, and a rush of emotion erupted inside me. Kissing him turned me on like nothing ever had before.
Closing my eyes, I imagine New Mexico burning, can almost smell it, the pungent pine, fireball mesquite, and smouldering cacti. I should be worried about the damage the UV’s doing to my scars, but after tonight, none of that will matter.