The boys go out to eat, Ryan gets jealous and spills some of his secrets to Spencer.
As we made our way to the diner I stayed quiet, half-listening to Brendon and Spencer talk. They were comparing answers on their German test they had taken that day and complaining about the paper they had to write for their British Literature class.
Fishing through my jeans pockets, I found my iPod and stuffed the buds in my ears, tuning out the world. It gave me time to just be in peace.
The sun was starting to set. Burnt orange streaking through magenta and golden tinged clouds. I looked over at Brendon; he was too busy talking to notice. The last bits of sunshine created an outline around his strongly structured face. The lighter highlights on his ebony hair became visible. He laughed. His head tilting back while his nose scrunches up. A smile breaks across his face exposing his straight white teeth.
He was gorgeous.
I pictured him onstage. A microphone grasped in his hand, the metal netting grazing his full lips. The overhead spotlight would create a halo effect as it enveloped him. He would look over at me, singing the lyrics. My lyrics. He’d smile at me and I’d smile back, hoping that he got the same butterflies I had just from his presence.
After the show, we’d retreat backstage to our dressing room and congratulate each other on another successful show. We would take turns taking a shower. Brendon would pull off his shirt and tug down his pants and step in beneath the hot water. I’d sneak into the bathroom when no one was looking and surprise Brendon, but he wouldn’t mind. He’d pull me under the water with him and—
“Ryan!” Spencer shouted, ripping out my ear phones.
“Ow,” I complained. “What?”
“We’re here,” he told me.
“Oh,” I muttered under my breath, embarrassed. The neon lights of the diner were turned on in the twilight. Green lines of light outlined its name, “Donnie’s”. Spencer and I had been coming here since seventh grade when our parents finally let us go somewhere without them. We’d come about twice a week in the summer just for their chili cheese fries.
Spencer entered and Brendon caught the door. When I reached out for the handle, my fingers touched the back of his hand. I gasped and quickly apologized, but he didn’t seem to notice.
We chose a booth in the back, sliding into the sparkling scarlet vinyl seats. I passed out the menus that were piled on the side of the table and a waitress approached us.
“Hey, guys. Haven’t seen you in a while,” she greeted with a smile. That was Caroline. She’s been working here since my freshman year. She was putting herself through nursing school and often worked double shifts. “Who’s this?” she asked, looking over at Brendon.
“Oh, this is Brendon,” Spencer introduced. “Brendon, this is Caroline.”
“Nice to meet you. What do you guys want to drink?” she asked.
“I’ll have a gin martini,” I answered.
“Make mine a double,” Spencer told her as he perused the menu.
I looked up Brendon to see an expression of shock and disbelief on his face. “I’ll just have water, thanks.”
“Alright. Be right back,” she said.
“She lets you drink here?” Brendon asked incredulously as Caroline walked away.
Spencer and I exchanged a glance and laughed. “No. We always get the same thing, but we like to mix it up when we order. Just a joke we have with Caroline,” Spencer explained.
Brendon grinned and looked down at his menu. “What do you guys get here?”
“Everything’s awesome. I usually get the chili cheese fries or the cheeseburger,” I offered, reaching over to point to where they were in the menu.
“And I get the veggie burger to keep my girlish figure,” Spencer said in complete seriousness, flipping his hair back.
We ordered and dug in once the food came. All was silent between the three of us except for the sound of chewing until a phone rang.
Brendon swallowed quickly and swore under his breath. Digging for his phone in his pocket, he grabbed it and flipped it open. “Hello?” he answered. He slid out of the booth and walked down the narrow aisle towards the door. “Yeah, mom, I know, I’m sorry. I forgot to call,” I heard him say as he left.
I watched him step out the door, the jingle bells rattling against the glass, and around the side of the building. The sun had set by now and the sky had turned a steel blue in its absence. Brendon’s body was made visible by the glowing lights that lined the windows of the diner. He faced the street and paced periodically as he talked.
“Ryan? You okay?” Spencer asked, setting down his burger.
“What? Yeah,” I said, continuing to look outside.
“Ryan,” Spencer repeated.
“What?” I tore my eyes away from the window.
“What’s with you tonight?”
“Nothing, I—. I’m just kind of distracted,” I admitted.
“I should say so,” said Spencer.
“Can we not talk about this?” I plead. I really didn’t need him asking questions about this.
Especially when my distraction was just outside.
A few minutes later, Brendon returned seeming a little frazzled. “Sorry about that. My mom freaked out on me.”
“That’s fine. Do you have to go?” I asked.
“No, she was just upset I didn’t call her to tell her where I was. Thought I got kidnapped,” he chuckled, shoving the phone back in his pocket.
Another few minutes of uncomfortable silence passed until I said, “Oh hey, Spence, next week is the third Friday of the month. That new slasher movie is coming out.”
I should probably explain. Every third Friday of the month, Spencer and I have made it a tradition to go see the worst movie in showing in theatres.
“Oh yeah,” Spencer exclaimed excitedly. “That looks so bad! What is it, the fourth one of those?”
“Probably,” I smiled, waiting for a response from Brendon.
“I can’t. I have something going on that night,” Brendon answered, seeming to shrink away from us.
“What, do you have a date or something?” Spencer scoffed. Brendon remained quiet taking a nonchalant bite of a fry. “You do have a date! Oh my god. With who?”
Brendon looked across the table at me, then dropped his gaze to his picked over plate. “That Isabelle girl from biology. She asked me out today after class.” He looked down and rubbed the back of his neck, embarrassed. I saw the color rise in his cheeks as he laughed nervously.
“Lucky bastard,” Spencer told him. “Where are you taking her?”
“Not sure yet. Maybe to dinner or something.”
I tried to block out the rest of their conversation. I didn’t need to hear about Brendon’s impending relationship with her. I didn’t want to be reminded that we would never work out. What I wanted, what I hoped and dreamed for, would never be. Not now. How could it be? He obviously wasn’t even remotely interested if he was going out with some girl. And how could I have been so stupid to think that I ever had a chance. What were the odds that the one boy I fall in love with would feel the same about me?
Isabelle. Bitch. She better realize how lucky she is.
“Hey, are you okay?” Brendon asked.
So they do realize I’m still here.
“Yeah. I just don’t feel good all of a sudden,” I lied, pushing my plate of half-eaten food
“Well, we can go if you want,” said Brendon. I nodded and caught Spencer staring at me suspiciously.
“I’ll go pay,” I told them, hopping out of the booth. I couldn’t get away fast enough. Reaching the old fashioned register, Caroline told me the total as Brendon and Spencer brushed past me and waited outside.
“You like him,” she stated, nodding her head in the direction of the door, as she counted out my change. “Brendon.”
“What? No, I don’t,” I stuttered, panicked. She raised her eyebrows.
“That obvious?” I cringed. She handed me the change.
“Kind of,” she grinned. “Don’t worry,” she said when she noticed my fallen expression. “He’s completely oblivious.”
“Yeah, well he’s got a date on next Friday. A girl from his bio class,” I told her, pulling out a five dollar bill. I handed her the tip.
“Trust me. That won’t last.”
“You think so?”
“I know so. Keep me updated, alright?” she winked at me.
“I will,” I smiled. “Thanks.” I turned around and walked out of the restaurant to join Spencer and Brendon. My short lived moment of hope disappeared when I saw his face.
“I better head home before my mom has a complex,” Brendon told us. “Feel better, Ryan.” I felt his eyes linger on me for a moment before turning away. Spencer bade farewell to his friend. I didn’t.
I took a moment to prepare for Spencer’s endless stream of questions about tonight.
“You’re not sick, are you?” he accused.
“What makes you say that?” I asked him coolly, staring straight ahead.
“You’re not as great an actor as you think.”
“Well, then I’d love to hear your theories on what’s going on,” I told him.
“Ever since band practice you’ve been totally out of it.”
“I told you. I’ve been distracted. Can we just leave it at that?”
“When are you going to let me in?” Spencer asked helplessly as he stopped in his tracks.
“Are you serious?” I stopped walking a few paces ahead and turned to face him. “You seriously think I don’t let you in on what’s going on? You are the only person who knows about anything.”
“The only thing I know is that you hurt yourself and your dad is a drunken asshole. You don’t tell me why. You don’t tell me what happens. I see you with bruises and new cuts with no knowledge as to why. I see my best friend doing these things and he doesn’t seem to care that he’s slowly killing himself.”
“What did you want me to say?” I asked, throwing my arms in the air.
“I don’t know, I just thought you’d be able to at least tell your best friend about whatever is going on.”
“Then I guess it makes me a shitty friend,” I resolved, turning around. I continued to walk down the rocky, uneven sidewalk.
I heard hurried footsteps behind me as Spencer called after me. “Ryan, wait. I just meant—” He caught me up to me, tugging on my sweatshirt.
“What? What did you mean?”
“I just don’t get why you can’t tell me things.”
“There’s nothing to tell, Spencer! I’m fucking messed up and I don’t want to be here anymore. I can’t stand being here. I only stay for you and Br—” I caught myself.
“Brendon? Why would you stay for him? You barely know him,” Spencer said, confused.
“You’re right and he’s not even worth it anymore.”
“What do you mean?”
“Never mind,” I sighed. “Just forget it.”
“This is what I mean. You never tell me anything,” Spencer pouted.
“Fine, Spencer,” I said, defeated. “You want to know something?”
“Please,” he answered sarcastically.
“I like Brendon. I may even love him and it doesn’t even matter because he’s got a date with some girl. He’ll never be interested in me and I feel like an idiot for ever thinking otherwise.” It all slipped out before I had time to stop myself.
“Oh,” was all Spencer said.
“Yeah,” I grumbled.
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe because I thought you’d tell him and he’d freak out and never talk to me again. He’s Mormon; he’s probably against that sort of thing.”
“I wouldn’t tell him if you didn’t want me to. You seem to be underestimating me. And I really don’t think he’d freak out.”
“Because the only reason he’s going on this date is to convince his parents he’s not gay,” Spencer confessed. We turned onto our street.
“When did he say this?”
“While you were paying. Aren’t you curious as to if he’s actually gay or not?”
“Well of course I am!” I exclaimed, turning towards him.
“How badly do you want to know?” Spencer taunted. We had reached his driveway.
“Oh no, no, no,” I begged. “Please don’t do this to me, Spence.” He laughed. “You’re so dead,” I told him. He started running away, but my long legs carried me faster and caught up to him, catching his shirt, dragged him to the grass of his front yard. “Tell me!”
“You honestly think this will work?” he asked as he struggled beneath me.
“It better because I’m running out of ideas,” I said, slightly out of breath. I looked away for a second, but that’s all Spencer needed to push me off of him and pin me to the ground.
“You really want to know?” Spencer smiled.
“God, Spencer. Just tell me!” I said, trying to wriggle free.
“Okay, fine. His parents are right,” he told me, getting off of me and helping me to my feet.
“So that’s a yes?” I asked, bouncing on the balls of my feet.
“You figure it out,” Spencer finalized, walking to his front door.
“What!” I said incredulously. “That doesn’t help!”
“You’re not a very good listener,” he said. “I’m sure you’ll call me when you understand.” He stepped through the door and out of sight.