"I'm not going."
"'Cause he's not like I thought he was."
"He's... well... kinda big."
"No. Just big. And I mean like whoa! He used to play gridiron at school."
"American football? What's wrong with that? I thought you were a fan of sport?"
"Mom, I am a fan of sport. It's just that..."
"Daniel," mom said as she sat beside me on my bed, and placed a soothing hand on my knee, "Joshua sounds like a very nice boy to me. He goes to college, he works at Disney World, he loves his mom... all American apple pie stuff. I don't understand why you're so nervous."
"He told me he bites people."
"Nonsense!" mom laughed. "He's probably talking about being affectionate."
"Yeah, right... like I need 180 pounds of affection with fangs? Maybe I should go to Yosemite instead, and wrestle a bear."
"Daniel, from what you've told me, Joshua is a fine young man. You should be thrilled to accept his offer to go visit him in Orlando. I've spoken to his mother, and she sounds wonderful. And you'll be getting a personal tour of Disney World!"
"I didn't know he was 180 pounds back then. And I didn't know about the gridiron. I always thought he was some kinda nerdy computer dude."
"What gave you that impression?"
"I dunno... just the way he wrote... kinda intellectual. But then he sent me some pics, and he was smiling like the wolf did before he ate Little Red Riding Hood."
"You're a young man now, Daniel. It's time to put all those childhood fears behind you. Have you packed everything?"
"Toothbrush? Clean socks and underwear?"
"And don't worry about the wolf... he never got to eat Little Red Riding Hood."
"Yes he did, mom. And he ate her grandma as well! It was only when the huntsman came, and cut open the wolf's stomach, that he rescued them."
"Daniel... that's a fairy story... not real life. Joshua is not going to eat you."
There was a whole bunch of people at the bus station in Orlando after I'd arrived at about midday. Hundreds of them milling about, looking for friends, or looking bewildered. I was one of the latter, trying to recognize a needle in a haystack. Brown hair and brown eyes were my only clue... apart from something built like a fucking tank.
I turned toward the direction of the voice, and wondered who the young dude was. "Hi. Did Joshua send you?"
"I am Joshua. Welcome to Orlando."
"Thanks," I said as I shook the smiling dude's hand. "You look kinda different."
"Different to what? This is the first time we've met."
"Different to what I expected. Friendlier. Y'know... no helmet or shoulder pads and stuff. No fangs."
"That comes later," he grinned. "My car's parked around the corner. Lemme help you with your luggage."
Joshua was wearing khaki shorts, a weird looking, silk shirt with dragons all over it, and Skechers sandals. But the thing that really caught my attention was his legs. They were straight outa some Bruce Lee movie. Muscles all over the fucking place. Jeez!
"You look different, too," he smiled as we walked toward his car. "I thought you'd be more... I dunno... kinda macho or something."
"I am macho."
"I know you are. I've read your stories. I just didn't expect you to look so... so... well... angelic. Anyway, this is it. I'll open the trunk."
"This is it? What is it?"
"A 1993 Buick Regal."
"Yeah. You don't like the color?" he laughed as he put my luggage in the trunk, then slammed the lid.
"I guess it's OK. Doesn't look like a teen's car, though."
"It's not. It's my mom's old car, but I'm not complaining. She got tired of driving me to Disney every day, so she bought a new car, and gave me this one. Moms are cool that way."
Actually, as we drove toward his apartment, I was pretty impressed with the old Buick. Smooth as a baby's butt. "Six or eight?"
"Six or eight what?"
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"Hell, I don't know. I was raised by my mom... I know nothing about cars. I just drive the damn thing."
"What did you mean when you said I looked angelic?"
Joshua took his eyes off the road for a second to smile at me. "I just figured you'd be tougher looking... not so innocent. I've read all your stories, y'know... I've been a fan from the beginning."
"I'm not really like that."
"Like in the stories. It's not like sex is my whole damn life. I do a whole bunch of other stuff."
"Like this... riding in a 1993 Buick Regal, scared outa my fucking wits."
"Of what? Me?"
"You serious? Hey, listen up, Daniel. You're safe with me. OK? I didn't wanna meet you 'cause I wanted sex or anything. Nope. Not quite true. What I mean is, I didn't wanna meet you to take advantage of you. If something happens it happens. And if it doesn't it doesn't. Know what I mean? I'll show you around Disney World like I promised. And I won't try anything. I just wanna be your friend."
"You won't try anything?"
"Anything at all?"
"Not even like a little kiss on the cheek or something?"
"Not even if I walk around your apartment naked?"
"You can't do that. I share it with other guys from college. And one of them is my boyfriend."
"Your boyfriend? I didn't know you had a boyfriend."
"Yeah... Oth. We're pretty close."
"So why did you invite me?"
"Hey, I've been a fan of yours for like years. You're the coolest. You just go ahead and do stuff that would freak most people out. And that's what I can't understand. I mean, why I'm freaking you."
"Smart? Because I'm a student?"
"Smarter than that. It's like you're some kinda Einstein or something. And you're big. Damn big."
"I scare you?"
"Hey, Daniel, I'm an incurable romantic. OK? I might be 180 pounds of muscle mass, but I'm not about scaring people, so don't worry. Anyway, I don't get it. I've read all your stories and you've never been scared of anybody."
"Oh? You've got a short memory, dude. Kyle frightened the fucking crap outa me when I first met him... and I was like jelly when I met Kostik at the airport in Miami. I couldn't stop shaking for hours!"
"You're a weird combination, Daniel. But I like it. And I guess that's why you've got such an innocent face. It's as if it doesn't belong to your personality... at least not the personality I've read about."
"What was it like when you played gridiron?"
"So how come you don't look tough? I mean your face."
"I developed a special technique. I'd get the opposition to think I was a pushover, then I'd give 'em hell."
"Thanks. That's all I needed to know. Jeez! Anyway, what's Oth gonna think about me staying at your place?"
"He's away for a few days. Hey, Daniel, do me a fav... will you stop freaking? We've got a spare room at the apartment. That'll be your room."
"What are your roomates like?"
"Conservative... so behave yourself."
"How come you're wearing a shirt with dragons on it?"
"I love the feel of silk, or rayon. This shirt's made of polyester. And the dragons? I dunno. What would you prefer? Giraffes?"
"I dunno. It's just that I don't know many guys... make that any guys... who wear that kinda stuff."
"You think I'm weird?"
"Yeah... but I guess that's cool. I'm kinda weird too, y'know."
"I've read your stories," Joshua grinned as he turned into his street.
"Do you really think I'm that weird?"
"So how come you invited me?"
Joshua parked the Buick, then turned off the ignition. "'Cause you're crazy."
"You're right. I am crazy. I've gotta be crazy to be here."
"Hey, you want me to drive you back to the bus station?"
"No. Can I tell you something? You're not the like the other guys, Joshua. I don't know any gridiron dudes who've got a head like a fucking calculator... all that trigonometry stuff. And legs that look like they could support the whole damn planet. And I'm here alone!"
"Chill, Daniel. Lemme help you get your stuff." After Joshua had lifted my bags outa the trunk, and handed one to me, he paused for a moment. "You're not like I expected you to be, Daniel. I had no idea that I might frighten you. I expected you to be like you are in the stories... brash, outrageous, fulla shit... the way you are with Paul and your other friends. I'm sorry."
"Hey, it's cool. I'm just nervous 'cause I don't know you. Well, I thought I knew you 'cause of your email and stuff, but it turns out I don't. And I'm alone."
"You're not alone, Daniel. You're with a friend." He smiled for a second or two, then raised his eyebrows and added, "You believe me?"
"I guess," I shrugged, then got the guilts big time about having thoughts about my mom. Back home was where I wanted to be at that moment. Back home where it was safe. Back home with my friends.
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Diary Daniel Meets Joshua Part 2