Normally, I could handle shit. I was happy to bottle it up, and take care of things myself. But this time, I felt like offloading my problems to someone else. But who? You guessed it.
"Hi, Kyle. Can't stay long, bro. Can we talk?"
"Sure. We can talk in my room."
For some inexplicable reason, Kyle's room was a haven of some sort… a place where I felt instantly comfortable, and at ease… like an extension of my own room.
"So what's the prob?"
"The fucking pizza restaurant," I explained as I sat on the side of his bed. "That's the prob."
"You gonna quit or something? You make good bucks there."
"No, I'm not gonna quit. But I sure as hell felt like it today. I'd worked a long shift, and I was feeling pretty damn bushed, when one of the guys in the kitchen fucked up an order. The customer complained, so I had to pay for the damn pizza. I was so fucking mad, I got into an argument in the kitchen."
"They gonna fire you?"
"Nah… anyway, I just needed to tell somebody."
"Hey, you care about what happens. OK? Apart from Carol, you're about the only fucker who does."
"Have you seen Alan's eye? It's taking ages to get back to normal. You must've clobbered him good."
"He deserved it. Anyway, I'd better jet. Thanks for listening."
"No prob. Anytime. Hey! When's your birthday?"
"October 17, why? Hey, listen, Kyle, don't go making any fuss. OK? I don't need that kinda shit."
"You'll be eighteen."
"Yeah… imagine that. Never thought I'd make it. See ya."
I'd been feeling a hulluva lot more relaxed around Kyle lately. OK, so I'd piss him off by not allowing his hands free rein over my bod, but I had a feeling that was one of the things he liked about me. I represented some kinda challenge, and he was the type who couldn't resist a challenge. Hell, that's how we met in the first place.
Actually, if I hadn't known better, I'd have thought he was falling in love with me... in a romantic kinda way. On the other hand, all the signs were there. He once told me that while Steve was good looking, I was totally handsome… then he asked me if that made any sense. I just shook my head. How was I supposed to figure that guy?
Kyle and I were still punching the hell outa the bag every morning at school… as well as each other. And I was still taking my moods out on him in the ring, especially after shitforbrains had given me a hard time the night before.
"What's the matter with you?" he asked one Friday morning in the showers after I'd climbed into him. "Were you trying to hurt me? 'Cause you fucking did."
"You know what to do if you can't take it."
"I can fucking take it, Mark. But we're supposed to be training… not trying to kill each other."
"Has shitforbrains been at it again?" he asked, but was met with stony silence. "I worry about you, Mark. Sometimes I wonder if you'll get older, and think it's normal to climb into your kids and beat the crap outa them."
"Jesus, Kyle. Haven't you got enough to worry about already without worrying about what might happen in ten years? For fuck sake, bro, drop it."
Despite my mood swings, and Kyle's persistent third degrees, we would remain close friends. Why? I was aware of some of the more obvious reasons, but if Kyle had treated me the same way I sometimes treated him, he would've been instant history.
It was the Tuesday afternoon before National Women's Day, a public holiday, that Kyle was in my room, sitting on my bed, watching me change after we'd walked home from school.
"You wanna take the girls out to Corners tonight?"
"Then we can eat them out."
"That's what we're doing, right? Taking them out."
"EAT THEM OUT, KYLE!"
"Oh, fuck… you mean like… oysters?"
"You'll be the first to hurl your guts."
"You said that oysters were ugly."
"Chicken! Kyle's a chicken shit!"
"Fuck you! You told me you'd never put your tongue in there."
"So I've changed my mind. I wanna drive Carol crazy tonight."
"Fuck, man. Then Steph will know about it, and she'll go on and on about wanting me to do it to her."
"Hey? Who was it who put my dick in his mouth? Huh? Could it be worse?"
"Dicks are cool," he giggled. "All the girls dig 'em. And yours is cool."
"You don't wanna go there, Kyle."
"My dick, and your mouth."
"OK," he shrugged, and gave me that innocent look of his. "It was fucking awesome, though."
A split second later, I was on top of him, jabbing his stomach and thighs. But in my haste, I'd made the mistake of allowing him to get his legs around my waist. Despite the fact that he was squeezing my guts for all he was worth, I kept punching his thighs… until I couldn't stand the pressure of his scissor-grip any longer.
"OK. So you give up?"
"Give up nothing. I can't fucking breathe."
"So you gave up," he grinned as he released his hold.
"I'll watch you give up tonight, bro." Then I opened my mouth, and waved my tongue at him.
"You're being serious."
Well, maybe not totally, I thought to myself after Kyle had left for home. But there were some things I had to sort out in my head. Was he really interested in my dick? Or was he just fulla shit? Actually, I didn't know what to fucking think. He and Steph were a major item. So where did I fit in? Kyle wasn't gay… at least, he wasn't stereotypical. It didn't make sense. Nothing made any fucking sense.
That night, we all went to Corners, but any thoughts of giving the girls a good time disappeared with each beer.
By 2am, we were both pretty wrecked, so we took the girls home. As usual, we arrived at Carol's house first. "You guys wanna wait out here for me?" I asked, before following Carol inside. By the time I'd returned half an hour later, Kyle and Steph were fuming.
"What took you so damn long?"
All I could do was answer Kyle's question with a smile.
When we arrived at Steph's place, she wanted Kyle to come inside, leaving me to wait outside in the street.
"I can't leave him out here alone, Steph."
I watched her give my bud a peck on the cheek, then disappear through the front door.
"You wanna go to Wipe Out for a game of pool?"
"Sure," he shrugged as walked beside me down the street.
"You should've gone inside and fucked her."
"That's what you did with Carol, huh?"
"Yeah," I laughed. "Bet you noticed."
"Eat her out?"
"Nope. Not enough time. But I would have. Anyway, she's happy."
"Yeah… not like Steph who's now totally pissed off with me."
"Not with you, bro. She's pissed off with me."
"She's so fucking jealous. She wishes it was her, rather than Carol."
"Thanks a fucking lot, bro… for that vote of confidence."
"Sorry. Just wanted to see your reaction. It's classic."
Two hours later, as I laid my comatose bud's body on my bedroom floor, I had fleeting thoughts about having treated him so badly, as well as getting him into deep shit with Steph. But I was way too exhuasted to entertain much guilt. I was fast asleep in seconds.
Just after I'd woken a pretty disheveled looking Kyle late next morning to tell him I had to go to work, the phone rang.
"Mark? It's dad."
"Dad? How's it going?"
"Everything's fine. Listen, son, I know it's your birthday in October sometime, and I was wondering what you wanted."
"Wanted? For my birthday? Hey, dad, there's nothing I need. You still gonna come visit?"
"I'll try to get there as soon as I can."
"I'll phone again soon, and let you know."
"OK, dad. Hear from you then."
The next day, I had a huge argument with Carol. She was giving me heaps about how I'd spoiled Steph's night out. "You can be so fucking selfish, Mark! It's all you, you, you! And you treat Kyle like he was some kinda pet on a leash. Why don't you think about other people for a change, instead of thinking the whole fucking world revolves around you?"
"What are you? Some kinda mind reader? You don't know half of what goes on between me and Kyle. You know diddly squat."
"I know what I see. That's enough."
On Monday morning in the ring, Kyle was on the wrong end of my angry fists again, taking a helluva lotta punishment. He accused me of trying to hurt him, and I accused him of being a wuss.
"OK, Mark," he bitched as he ripped off his headgear and gloves, "you can keep your fucking boxing… and your fucking moods. I won't be here tomorrow morning."
But he was. And a couple of his punches connected so damn hard, the fiery little fucker put me flat on my ass. Was I mad? No. Actually, I was glad, almost to the point of congratulating him. And the more I thought about how determined he was to even the score, the happier I became. With each of his powerful punches, he opened my eyes to the strength of his character, as well as his bod. This guy was no wuss. No way.
OOn the Friday night, Carol and Steph had decided to have a girls night out, partly 'cause I was working at the pizza restaurant. When my shift had finished, I walked outa the joint, and saw a familiar face, with its shock of spiky, black hair, and silly grin, waiting for me.
"What are you doing here?"
"I was at a loose end."
"Wanna go to Wipe Out for a couple of beers?"
Yeah, it was cool. Totally cool. And I was pretty damn chuffed to see that my bud had been waiting for me. If there was one quality Kyle had that stood out like fucking dogs' balls, it was loyalty. Almost all my life, loyalty had been just a word to me… a meaningless word. But during the past week or so, I'd had time to think about a lotta things, especially about Kyle and me. And I was finally in the mood to talk.
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