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Nifty - Gay - Highschool - Shades Of Adrian Gray

 
Date: Sun, 2 Aug 2009 19:56:14 -0700
From: Kalen O'Donnell <kalenodonnell@gmail.com>
Subject: Shades of Adrian Gray - 1

Hey guys. This is the first story I've ever posted on this site and I just
wanted people to know going into it that there's probably not going to be a
lot of sex in this, and although it does deal with some very depressing
subject matter (death of a loved one at a young age), its my goal that it
won't end on too depressing a note. In essence, it's about a tree falling
in a forest still making a sound, even if no one's around to hear it. How
does a closeted gay teen grieve for a boyfriend that nobody knew he had?
We are the sum of our experiences and are very much shaped by all the
people we know and love in life, even (and especially) those that are no
longer with us. Basically I just want to make sure everyone knows ahead of
time that this story isn't just a depression angst fest whereupon the main
character will wallow for eighteen chapters over the death of his soul mate
until the nineteenth chapter where he meets the new love of his life. The
chapters will flip back and forth in time between the past, chronicling
Evan and Adrian's relationship, and the present, chronicling how that
shapes Evan and how he comes to move on. And now I'll shut the fuck up and
promise not to bore those of you who wish to continue with shit like this
at the start of every new chapter. There should be about twenty in all.
Thanks for reading!

Chapter 1

This is how the story ends.

A room with a view, three walls coated with tacky beige wallpaper and a
fourth with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the bay. Hardwood floors
that clatter against your soles when you walk, enforcing solemnity with
echoes that bounce amongst the rafters overhead. The steady hum of fans
keeping the air circulating, brisk and chill and making everyone shiver.
Not that I think anybody really minds. It keeps the corpse in the coffin
from smelling so bad.

It ends with an audience. Fifty or so vaguely related guests stuffed into
crisply pressed suits and skirts and a room so small and cramped even
sardines would dial up their union reps. Uncomfortably shifting to get
warmer, noses sniffling into Kleenex, chairs creaking louder than their
joints, because I swear I gotta be the only non-family member there who's
not also a member of the Geriatrics Society. I thought Adrian had more
friends than just this, but apparently their contracts all came with a til
death clause.

Mostly, it ends without anybody really noticing. Sure, all eyes are on the
coffin up on the dais, dark mahogany or some fancy shit like that. Only the
best for the Grays' little prince. Gotta send him off to the afterlife in
style. Closed casket though. Even they couldn't afford to have him fixed up
after the mangling the wreck did to his face. So instead there's a big ass
picture of him set up on an easel right next to the coffin. The priest
stands in front of it, droning on and on about some dead kid who from the
sound of things is a good candidate for sainthood. Doesn't sound much like
Adrian to me. Probably why I'm not paying too much attention. It's either
that or the ADD.

All in all, it's a far cry from some fairy tale happily ever after
bullshit. It's not like I figured a house in the suburbs, white picket
fence and 2.5 kids and a dog were ever really in the cards. Two closeted
and gay high school teenagers do not the epic romance of our time make,
with or without a drunk driver pretty much decapitating one of the
protagonists early into Act One. But hey, we beat Romeo and Juliet. I'm
still around. As far as consolation prizes go, that's gotta at least rank
up there with the free Whopper Jr.'s they hand out to every millionth
customer to eat at Burger King.

My ass is getting numb and I fidget in my seat, exhaling a little louder
than is proper judging from the frigid death glare the old bat sitting next
to me nails me with. Bitch could reverse global warming with that. I roll
my eyes back in my head and my head back on my neck, going back to counting
the fan rotations. One merry-go-round, two merry-go-round, three...I was
at a hundred and forty six the last time I lost track. I'm at a hundred
eighty eight when Adrian's mom gets up to replace the priest in front of
the casket. I martial my attention briefly, to see if anything interesting
is going down. But nah, she just starts talking in this high quivery nasal
voice about the same Not Adrian the priest was going on about. Apparently,
the poor fucker was a robot.

The funeral is nothing like I expected. I mean, I don't know what I
expected, seeing as I've never been to one before, unless you count us
burying my cousin's cat in the backyard after it got hit by an ice cream
truck. Which I don't. It was a fucking cat. According to Hollywood,
funerals are traditionally accompanied by a torrential downpour, everyone
all dressed in black and huddled under umbrellas, massed together for
warmth and comfort. In reality, I can just barely make out goosebumps on my
skin from the fans, the sea of senior citizens around me is sporting more
charcoal gray than black, and the scenic vista outside the window is of
vivid blue skies and a brightly shining sun, not a cloud in
sight. Apparently Mother Nature doesn't break out the waterworks for the
gays.

I look around at Adrian's extended family and friends of the family, all
either stone faced or sobbing delicately into their hands, and wonder how
many of them would still be crying if they knew it was for a homo. My
righteous teenage judgment fixes on Adrian's mom still standing up front. I
can feel my lips tightening into a smirk at the thought. Hear that, bitch?
Your son sucked my cock. And I sucked his. Whaddaya think about that?

As though my vindictiveness has mysteriously hit upon the right telepathic
wavelength, she starts tripping over her words and finally just breaks down
into full on tears. Her husband gets up and puts his arms around her and
she buries her head into his chest, letting him lead her back to their
seats next to Adrian's older sister Kelsey, aka the Ice Queen of San
Diego. The priest gets back up front to replace them, and I am officially
the World's Biggest Tool.

I snort and slump back in my chair. Evil Bat Lady sniffs loudly and
pointedly beside me. I in turn hope her hordes of cats turn on her and eat
her. And then suddenly, miraculously the heavens release me from my torment
and its over. Uncomfortable stillness gives way to commotion as the cramped
and aching mourners all stand as one, making for the aisles with a haste
that fails miserably as far as subtlety goes. And somehow I'm the rude one?
Hah. I shake my legs out and wait for the aisles to clear up a little so I
don't accidentally break someone's hip. Small groups congregate here and
there, murmuring in low voices about how sad it is, and how fucking tragic,
and he was so goddamned young, and with superhuman effort I resist the urge
to shout `No fucking shit!' and shove my way through the front of the
crowd.

There's a damn mob surrounding Mrs. Gray, practically smothering her with
pity/comfort/old lady shawls or some combination thereof. I bypass them and
find myself standing in front of the coffin and easel, and I have no
fucking clue why. It really is a shitty picture.

It doesn't look anything like Adrian, for starters. Oh sure, whatever, his
eyes are still green, his hair's still brown and with that gay ass little
flip curl thing he always did at the front, and he's still got that little
scar criss-crossing his left eyebrow from when his dumbass sister let him
play with scissors when he was five. But still, whoever thought this was a
good picture of him to put up as a memorial didn't know the first thing
about him. For example, his toothy smile wasn't so much photogenic as it
was his patented `You can't tell, but I'm flipping you off and thinking
you're a giant ass hat right now' grin. He should be smirking, because
Adrian was always happiest when he was up to no good.

He was wearing an obnoxious orange dress shirt under his suit jacket in the
photo, which meant it'd been taken on a Saturday. He picked the color of
his outfits according to what day of the week it was, OCD even in his
mischief and general fuck you`s to an oblivious world. ROY G BIV. Sundays
he wore red, and went down the line from there. He dressed like a fucking
rainbow all fifty two weeks of the year and nobody had a clue. He'd been
doing it for years before we met and it'd even taken me weeks before I got
the joke. I only finally figured it out when he switched the order so he
wore orange on Saturdays instead of Mondays. Saturdays were our days, and
I hated orange, and Adrian wasn't Adrian if he wasn't pushing buttons.
Somewhere along the line though orange became my favorite color, and I'm
still not sure if that means the joke was on him or if it was still on me.
I swallow thickly and turn away. Point is, that's not Adrian in the photo
anymore than the preppy momma's boy described in the eulogy earlier. I
don't know whether to laugh or to cry at how little his family knew him,
and so I settle for very pointedly avoiding looking at the coffin. That's
not Adrian either. Adrian Gray is dead, and I don't belong here.

I jump when someone clears their throat, and look over to see Mr. Gray
standing right next to me. He's studying the picture along with me, and
being pretty damn obvious about studying me out of the corner of his eye
too. It's damn creepy, and I wanna just leave, but I feel like I have to
say something first.

"I'm sorry for your "

"I'm sorry, I didn't catch your "

Problem is, he feels the same way. I flush and wait for him to speak first,
but he just nods at me. "I'm uh, Evan. Evan Foster."

I wonder if I should offer to shake his hand, but decide against it. I'm
sweating like a pig, or some analogy that actually makes sense. He looks at
me curiously, and then recognition dawns in his eyes.

"You're on the basketball team, right? We saw you in the game against East
Lake High." He pauses, and frowns. "I didn't realize you were friends with
Adrian."

"We weren't," I blurt out hastily. Two seconds later I realize how that
must sound. "I mean, uh, I didn't really know him that well. H-he just
always seemed like a nice guy, you know?"

I shove my hands in my pockets and hunch over, suddenly self conscious in
my khaki cargo pants and borrowed, two sizes too small sports
coat. Mr. Gray just nods and turns back to studying Adrian's portrait,
satisfied with my answer.

"He was," he says, a far off look in his eyes. "Everyone loved him."

"Yeah," I agree softly. The irony flies over his head like a steroid-fueled
Barry Bonds home run. He stands like a man hypnotized, like he's forgotten
I'm even there. I back away and leave him alone for as long as his guests
will let him.

I stand near the back of the room and watch everyone mill around, trying to
fake normalcy in a scene I can't be the only one to find bizarre. My cell
phone rings and I scoop it out of my pocket and jab it silent as heads
start to turn, cursing myself for forgetting to turn it off, or at least
set it to vibrate. I look at the display. It's my friend Neil, probably
wondering where I am.

"Yo," I answer anyways. Static hisses briefly from the other end of the
line, along with some bass and a rushing sound that makes me think he's
driving with his windows rolled down.

"Evan, dude!" Neil bellows happily. "I've been calling your house all
morning, man. Where the fuck are you?"

I hesitate. "Adrian Gray's funeral," I answer finally, trying to keep my
voice down.

"Oh." There's silence for a minute, as Neil's desire to not sound like an
ass wars with his attempt to remember if there's any particular reason I'd
show up to some random classmate's funeral, when the memorial service they
held at school had apparently released everyone else in our class from any
obligation or desire to show up today. As usual, his attempts to not be an
ass come to nothing. "Uh...why?"

I choke on a Howling Man-esque snarl and shrug my shoulders instead, even
though he can't see me. I sigh. "I dunno. It seemed like a good idea at the
time."

"I'll call you later," I add, flipping the phone off and back in my pocket.
I spin around and catch Adrian's sister Kelsey staring at me from across
the room with a puzzled query in her eyes and bile races up from the pits
of my stomach. The white hot anger I've kept simmering there all day
evaporates into ash that coats my throat and makes me choke. It's the
knowledge that I'm not even unwanted here, that as far as everyone else is
concerned there's just no reason for me to be here in the first place that
finally socks me in the gut and demands I either break something or break
down. Instead I circle Option C on the multiple choice exam that is my
non-standardized life and opting for denial I suddenly I just need to be
somewhere, anywhere else. I shove through the room's big oaken double doors
with louder force than someone trying to stay low profile should use, and
hurry down the carpeted halls of the mortuary. Mostly I don't give a shit
by this point.

I emerge outside into blinding sunlight and a thousand different kinds of
allergens attacking my nose. My eyes water. I hurry to my car, with the
breeze from the bay hitting me full on in the face. Even with that it's too
warm outside for my coat, but by the time I get it off I'm already inside
my battered Toyota with air conditioner blasting away. Outside my window it
continues to be a beautiful spring morning.

 
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Nifty - Gay - Highschool - Shades Of Adrian Gray