Chapter 14 – We need to DTF
Monday, November 28th, 2016
I had a bit of a rough weekend after the session with doctor Delgado. I tried, as much as possible, the remind myself of possible positive outcomes whenever I felt the need to execute any of my compulsions and habits. But it was hard, and it distracted me from some things, like the beat to turn of the lights. It’s hard to remember the rhythm of a song while also trying to come up with any possible positivity following a fire.
I couldn’t think of one.
And it took me hours on Saturday to go through my morning rituals, failing them over and over again, one by one.
Sunday had been a better day, as not only dad, but grandpa too, kept me company and helped me find any traces of the cities history to document with my photos.
I have about five pictures that I was pleased enough with, writing down the story behind them when we were back home. It kept me busy and the day went like any other day; just do what I always do, in my own way. No positive thoughts, but nearly no negative thoughts either. Since I already skipped a couple of days of school last week, I forced myself up and going today, heading over to school while not knowing how Calo is doing.
I haven’t heard from him ever since he kissed me and hurried out of our house.
I’m confused as hell about that kiss anyway.
What did it mean?
What does it mean?
I need answers, and he didn’t give me any via text since he ignored the three or four texts I’ve sent him over the past couple of days.
I even demanded an answer in the last text, but to no avail; Calo still ignored me.
I have to say, I’m not even nervous about going to school because of the usual obvious reasons. I’m nervous because I don’t want to lose the one friend I have. The one person I actually like enough to spend time with, while he obviously likes hanging out with me too.
It’s Luke’s voice that makes me aware of the fact Calo is already in class, when I walk closer to the door, running a bit late due to start-up problems this morning.
“What’s up Delgado? Got nothing on us, huh?” Luke tauntingly calls out to Calo, who I now find seated at his desk, with his head propped on his hand, staring out of the window; ignoring Luke and Jimmy who are in front of his desk.
“Are you deaf?” Jimmy pushes Calo’s arm aside, causing his head to nearly hit the table.
He looks exhausted, his eyes bloodshot, his pupils tiny, those eyes focussing on me as soon as I walk up to them.
“Morning.” His voice is even a bit hoarse, as if he caught a cold, or as if he’s been crying for hours. I think the latter is a safe bet, knowing his condition.
“Hey.” I mumble back, sitting down next to him, while I notice Luke and Jimmy looking back and forth between us.
“What, did the two lovebirds get in a fight?” Luke leans forwards over my desk, his face close to mine. “What’s wrong? Did he fuck you too hard?”
“That’s it,” Calo snaps at him, pulling his arms off the desk, causing Luke to actually hit his head on my desk. “I’m going to kill you.”
“The fuck!?” Luke calls out in anger, Jimmy grabbing Calo’s collar in anger.
“Piss off,” Calo spits in his face, digging his nails into the skin of Jimmy’s lower arm.
“Auch!” Jimmy raises his fist, wanting to hit Calo, as Mrs. Tilly shows up at his side with an angry look on her face.
“That’s it, Jimmy, principal’s office, now.” She points towards the door, while Luke simply sends us an angry look, and Jimmy a warning one, pointing at Calo. “If any of you three makes as much as a sound, you can follow after him.” She looks towards Luke, Calo and finally me, before putting the books she was holding onto her desk. “I’m done with the fights, the bickering, the name-calling.”
She turns around towards the board, writing down the word “Bullying” with big, bold letters on it. “Since recently, the students in this school seem to have forgotten how to behave, we, as South Haven, decided on starting up the national anti-bullying program. Now, we were already a part of the program, but so far, there seemed to be little reason to actually raise awareness about the consequences. As from today, twice a week, everybody in this school, will be confronted with the effects of bullying. At the end of the month, there will be a gathering in the auditorium, where we will receive guest-speakers to tell about their experiences with bullying…”
“Wait, hold up.” Calo frowns, cocking his head a bit. “Really?”
“Yes, Mr. Delgado, really…”
“I meant the statement that so far, there had been little to no reason for awareness. You’re telling me the school has been part of a program to stop bullying, or prevent it, without actually doing something about it?”
“We always had a very active approach to stop or if possible, prevent bullying…”
“I call bullshit.” Calo gestures towards me. “Neo’s been taunted, bullied, outcasted for years. When someone takes action, they get suspended, but never, I repeat never have his bullies been punished or corrected in their behaviour.”
“We always tried to stop the bullying and we took action against his bullies…”
“No, you did not.” I interfere with their discussion in annoyance. “Pyper got suspended for beating Luke up, while Luke got a warning for beating me up. Simply because Pyper had the guts to admit beating Luke up, and Luke’s too much of a pussy…”
“No name-calling!” She cuts my ranting short. “Principal’s office, now. I warned you…”
“I’m not going. If I’m going, Luke should go too. If Luke’s going, everybody should go.”
Calo smirks, nodding in agreement. “Luke calls him Faulty Favre, Teacher’s pet, Prima ballerina…”
“Faulty freak, freak and whatnot.” I fill up the list.
“And Neo get’s send to the principal’s office because he calls Luke a pussy.”
“He is a pussy.”
“Call me pussy one more time, and I’ll show you who’s a pussy…”
“Luke, principal’s office, now.” Mrs. Tilly points towards the door. “Neo, Calo, you too. You all had a warning…”
“What did I do!?” Calo calls out offended. “I only gave examples…”
“You ratted out Luke…” Angela leans forwards to look at him. “You forced her to send Luke out and they hate sending him out.”
“What? It’s true, right?” She shrugs. “Luke’s father sponsors a lot of activities in this school and therefor Luke can do whatever he wants…”
“I will not stand here and listen to those accusations.”
“Let me guess…” Calo chuckles.
“I’ll go to the principal’s office, sure.” Angela shrugs carelessly. “If telling the truth is considered wrong, fine by me.”
She gets up, and eventually, Calo, Luke and myself all get up too, following her out of the classroom.
“You’ll be sorry for getting me send out, again.” Luke spits towards me.
“You’ll be sorry for daring to threaten him, again.” Calo steps partially in front of me. “Believe me, I felt like fighting for days, so please, give me a reason…”
“Fuck off, Delgado,” Luke hisses, before turning around, leaving us behind, while we follow him down the hallway, towards principal Jameson, to hear what our punishment is going to be.
’We need to talk,” I state as I watch Calo taking a seat at a table in the lunchroom. ’In private.”
’I know.” He nods without looking at me. He has been avoiding eye-contact most of the day, and he’s been pretty much dead-silent for the most part too. He really only said something whenever he was fed up with anybody, like with Jimmy and Luke in the morning, or Mrs. Tilly and her lecturing our class about bullying. Then again to discuss the matter with principal Jameson, who didn’t seem to know how to handle the situation, so he gave all five of us detention on Friday and told us to go to the lunchroom and work on our homework for the rest of class. Easy way to ditch students that are obviously winning the discussion.
’Then why are you avoiding me?” I grumble, pointing out the fact he treats me just as bad as the rest of the students – and some teachers.
’I figured after Friday, you needed space.”
At least he pointed out the obvious elephant in the room.
He kissed me.
’I just need to know what it exactly means.”
’Isn’t it obvious?”
’To some level, yes.” I shrug, finally sitting down next to him. ’But I have a question that I need you to answer, Cay.”
’Then ask. Nobody’s listening anyway.” Calo takes a look around, sort of hinting to me that the people around us are too busy with their own conversations.
He shrugs again, finally looking at me. He seems in conflict. ’What’s the question?”
’What did it mean?”
’Again, pretty obvious...”
’No, I mean, did you do it because it was too hard to voice the fact that you’re... gay?” The last word comes out in a whisper.
’I did it because I like you. That’s why. That’s the message. Okay?” He mumbles, his shoulders hanging and his face flushing.
’But, I’m me.” I frown, not really believing what he just told me. ’I’m not a normal human being...”
’You might not be the same as most students wandering these hallways, you might be different, but you are normal. Just... one of a kind.”
I sit in silence for a while, letting his words sink in while he eats his lunch. Then he continues his lecture.
’You think you aren’t normal because you think you’re the only one who suffers from OCD. But I bet there’s more in school who suffer from it, just not as obvious as you. Then there’s all the other possible mental illnesses and let me tell you, I know at least two students in here who have a mental illness. You are not alone. You are normal.”
’I’m really not...”
’It doesn’t even matter whether you are normal or not. I like you anyway.”
There’s a short silence, before Calo looks up with a smirk. ’Oh?”
Eeh, I don’t really know what to say?”
I send him a questioning look, while I find his smirk rather forced.
’Something like, I’m flattered, but I’m not gay. Or “It’s not you, it’s me”, or I need more space.” He rolls his eyes feigning a casual attitude. ’Or, get away from me, you’re the freak, don’t infect me with your gay-virus...”
’Cay, stop.” I cover his mouth, causing him to frown and stare down towards my hand, which I quickly pull back again. ’We’re friends, I don’t need “more space” and it’s not me, it’s you.”
’You always cheer me up and you support me no matter what. So, why for the love of god would I not support you?”
’Well, for that exact reason; for the love of god and the fact I’m gay.”
’And my friend.” I shrug. ’If you consider gay as not normal, then join the club, I ain’t normal either.”
Calo’s eyebrows fly up as he stares at me with wide eyes. It takes a few silent seconds before I realise how he might have understood those words. ’I meant, I’m Faulty Favre. Not normal, but not gay... I think.”
’You think?” He repeats my last words, before he slaps the back of my head. ’You are normal. Shut up.”
’If I’m normal, you most definitely are.”
’The public opinion about that matter is divided.”
’Same goes for the public opinion about people with mental illnesses.”
’Do I need to remind you that I too suffer from a mental illness? I’m chronically depressed.”
’So, you’re one of a kind too.” I use his words against him, causing him to chuckle, not as forced as usual.
’You’re Favre, Neo. I wish more people would see just how funny and kind you are.”
’That’ll happen once Christmas and Easter are on the same day. And until then, you have my undivided friendship.”
’I like that.”
’Mom, can Calo come over?” I watch as she unlocks the car to get back in. Calo lingering behind me.
’Hey Calo.” Mom smiles at him. ’Hope you’re feeling better.”
’I am, ’mam.” He nods and smiles back at her. ’Neo should become a psychologist. He’s really good at talking and listening.”
’No, no.” Pyper appears in my peripheral vision. ’Neo’s going to be a famous photographer,” she tells him matter-of-factly. ’You must be Calo.”
’Indeed, I am.” Calo nods, shaking the hand she offers him.
’Pyper Favre, Neo’s personal bodyguard. Hurt him, and you’re mine.”
’Pyper!” I his in annoyance. ’I’m not a baby...”
’Ah, the infamous Pyper. You’re the one who rebuild Luke’s face.”
She chuckles and nods proudly.
I roll my eyes, pulling my mom’s sleeve. So, can he come over?”
’Off course honey.” Mom lovingly caresses my face shortly. ’Calo is always welcome.”
’Oh, okay.” I smile happily towards Calo, who seems grateful for mom stating he is always welcome.
’Well, hop in the car and let’s go home.” Mom taps my cheek three times, before she walks around the car to sit behind the wheel.
’So, you got any siblings you protect?” Pyper continues her conversation with Calo as soon as they sat down in the back seat.
I know that look on her face. The glistening in her eyes. She likes him, at least physically. Pyper is one who always waits to judge other people until she knows them a bit better.
’Plenty.” Calo chuckles. ’Too much to keep track of all of them.”
’How many siblings do you have, Calo?” Mom asks him to show some interest. ’I already met your twin brother Seino off course.”
’You have a twin brother?” Pyper’s face changes and I can see the thought of a twin hurts. I totally understand. Looking at the Delgado family, I can’t help but feel a bit jealous too.
’Yeah, Seino is six minutes older. We have an older brother, Lorenzo...”
I zone out, already knowing his siblings by name and face. I can’t help but overthink our lunch conversation and the fact Pyper obviously instantly took interest in Calo. She had boyfriends before. Nothing serious, just pre-school childlike “relationships”. But compared to me, she is capable of making friends, getting in relationships and the thought of her liking Calo doesn’t sit well with me. He is my friend.
Then I remind myself Calo confessed he is gay, and he would probably never be interested in her in a romantic way.
I can’t help but smirk at the thought.
’What causes you to be happy like this?” Mom smiles as she drives off the parking lot and onto the road.
’I’m just... relaxed. Thanks to Pyper and Calo, Luke and Jimmy bully me less.”
’That’s good.” Mom nods happily. ’I still need to thank you, Calo. For the game of the floor is lava? Neo couldn’t stop talking about it.”
’Oh, pleasure is all mine,” Calo tells her calmly. ’It was good to see Neo have fun for once.”
’I have fun more often!”
’Just not in school.” Pyper awkwardly chuckles. ’But that was cool, yeah. My friends are all a fan of you.”
Calo shortly looks at me, meeting my gaze, before focussing back on Pyper. ’Those friends of yours, do they help Neo?”
’They eh... mostly try to just stay out of it.” Pyper awkwardly tells him, obviously getting uncomfortable.
Mom doesn’t like any of Pyper’s friends, solely for the reason that they tend to avoid me. They don’t even like to come over to our place. When Pyper threw a birthday party and her friends found out I was going to be home, they all suddenly pretended they had different plans already. Pyper got angry, rescheduled the party and I left to grandma and grandpa to stay there until the party was over again.
They just don’t like to be around me, and I can’t blame them. The stories about me being crazy scared away plenty of people before.
’Ne?” Calo leans forwards. ’We’ll get people to leave you alone. I promise.”
’And how are you going to do that?”
’By raising awareness.”
Mom seems unsure on how to respond, Pyper seems interested in his plan and I just let him do whatever he wants. The fact he used those exact words, tells me he already got a plan. Who knows, maybe he’ll come up with another fun game.