dontravis.com blog post #415
Photo courtesy of uplash.com
The guest post last week by Don Morgan of the beginning of his new book Miasma, got a lot of hits but few comments. I’ll be happy to forward any late comments to him, or you can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. As has been true lately, Hong Kong readers have led the pack.
This week I’d like to do a short piece loosely based on what happened on a guy I knew back in school.
THE KID WHO WASN’T THERE
Might sound like I’m on a pity party, but that’s not it at all. Just telling it like it is. The problem is I’m a couple of years ahead of most of the kids in my senior class mentally but a couple of years behind physically. Like PE the coach is always saying, “Bainbridge, you got no body definition. You’re built like a tent pole.” Well, I guess I slipped and gave you my name, but that’s all right. You won’t remember it after five minutes. The coach is right, but him saying it out loud hurts. I live in the classroom and library and exist everywhere else… except the sports fields. I die there. Nobody ever picks me for their team.
That’s not my only problem. I don’t think like most of the rest of them, especially the guys. It always slays me how they can’t retain an algebra formula but can quote the batting average for just about any baseballer you can mention. They live for sports; I don’t give a fig.
And that’s not all, or even the worst. The boys my age spend half their time thinking about sports and the other half thinking about girls. You already know how I feel about sports, but here’s the kicker. I feel the same way about girls… or almost. I know a bunch of girls, but they’re just friends, or maybe acquaintances is a better description. I see them at the swimming pool and they’re who they were in class that day.
But John Llewellyn in swimming trunks is definitely not the same guy who sits behind me in Algebra. Neither is Bob or Joe or Hank… but John is the one who claims my interest most. And he doesn’t even know I’m there. I’m just the guy he has to look around to see the teacher at the head of the class.
So the day John accosted me, I about wet my pants. I usually stayed late at school to do all my homework so I don’t have to lug books home with me, and I was just going out the front door of the school building when I heard a voice.
“Hey, Bainbridge, Wanna ride?”
I blinked like I was slow witted when I saw him leaning across the seat of his red Dodge Charger. “Uh… yeah. If it’s not too much trouble.”
He leaned farther across and opened the door. “Naw. I gotta talk to you, anyway.”
“Yeah. Hop in.”
So I slid into the passenger’s seat where local lore said every girl in school had placed her butt—many of them bare—this semester. Reason told me if all the stories were true, he wouldn’t have the energy to be the school’s star football player or the basketball jock he was, but reason doesn’t always win out. Hey! The guy knew my name. Offered me a ride home.
My guts churned as I pulled the door closed behind me. I felt moisture on my upper lip. Crap was I sweating or was my nose running? I swiped it. Sweat, thank the Lord.
“How you been?”
My throat was dry, so I nodded my head until I realized he was looking at the road ahead of us. “Uh… okay, I guess.”
He maneuvered his way out of the busy parking lot crawling with members of the football team leaving after practice, waving to some kids and shouting friendly insults to others. A shiver went down my back at knowing they saw me with JL, as everyone called him. Not just with him, but in his car.
Once we were clear of the school, he relaxed a little and shot a quick look my way. “Ms. Walters said I should talk to you.”
“M-Ms. Walters? Damn, I sounded anti-social… no like an idiot. “How come?”
“I’m not doing too good in Algebra. She thought may you could help me?”
“You mean like a tutor?”
“Yeah. You up for it? I mean, I could pay you a little. Not much, but a little.”
“Y-You don’t have to pay me. I’d be glad to help.” Geez, when did I develop a stutter?
“Sure. How would you like to do it, I mean, when and where? We could stay after class, I guess.”
“Naw. I got practice after class. You know, football… like today.”
“Have to be in the evening sometime. If it doesn’t crash your social life, that is.”
I bit my tongue to keep from asking what social life? “No, that’s okay with me.”
The next night after supper, I walked over to the Llewellyn house, which was only a few blocks from where I lived. JL’s mom answered the door and directed me up the stairs to his room. My bowels turned over when I saw him sitting in the middle of his bed in a tank top and short shorts, his dark brown hair tousled. He glanced up from the laptop in front of him, green eyes flashing.
“Hi, guy. Come on in and take a chair. Be with you in a minute.”
My eyes feasted on every inch of bronzed flesh I could see while he finished talking with some girl. I guess it was a Zoom thing because he was glued to that screen until he signed off. His groin sure looked full when he closed the little computer and slid to the edge of the bed.
“Well, let’s get started.”
It didn’t take long—after my heart quit going pitter-patter at him sitting so close and breathing over my shoulder—to figure out that JL was smart. But he had the same problem most folks had. He thought logically about numbers but had little concept of computing with numbers. He thought arithmetically, not algebraically. It was like starting all over with him. At the end of an hour, he threw up his hands.
“Enough for today! I need a Coke. You want one?”
“S-sure.” Crap. What was the matter with me? I’d talked almost nonstop for an hour, and when he went social, I started stuttering again.
I trailed his manly form to the kitchen refrigerator where he collected two colas and went out the back door onto a covered patio. We popped the tabs and took a good swig before he put his down on a table and picked up a football.
“Wanna toss a few?”
“I wouldn’t know how.”
“Come on, I’ll show you.”
I figured after a few minutes he’d give me up as a lost cause, but fifteen minutes later, he was still working with me. In time, I was able to catch two out of three passes, but I couldn’t get the hang of leading him when it was my turn to toss the pigskin back. But all in all, the exercise went well. Heck, it went great! It was me and JL in his backyard with nobody else around. How could it be better?
A month of lessons went by before he started catching on to what Algebra was all about and his grades showed improvement. And a month of lessons went by before I fell head over heels in love. With a guy. With a hell of a guy. With John Llewellyn.
What is it with shy kids and jocks. A love-hate relationship? Let’s find out how the kid who feels invisible fares in the final installment next week.
Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say, so say it!
The following are buy links for my BJ Vinson mystery The Voxlightner Scandal. The next one, The Cutie-Pie Murders, is in production.
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/4AxPDo
My personal links: (Note the change in the Email address because I’m still getting remarks on the old email@example.com.
Buy links to Abaddon’s Locusts:
See you next Thursday.
New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.