I have never felt so happy in my entire life.
And I say that more out of awe than exaggeration. Blake made me realize that some things are worth risking it all for. And once I realized that, that’s when Chicago opened up to me.
After leaving our hotel at around 2:30, Blake drove us to one of Chicago’s main dining staples called, “White Palace Grill.” It’s a 24 hour dining facility that serves freshly grilled American cuisine. From breakfast plates to lunch platters, the menu was breath takingly endless. They had seafood, steaks, burgers, wraps, waffles, omelettes, even cereals. Blake had wanted me to get something light instead of heavy so that way I wouldn’t get sleepy again and ruin our outing.
“Stick to a blueberry pancake or something,” he said, scanning the menu for something to devour. I didn’t know Blake’s eating habits that well, but by the way he was talking about, “drenching that good ol’ New York Strip Steak in all the cranberry and barbeque sauce,” I whole heartedly assumed that Blake liked to be adventurous when it came to his food.
I made a face at him that involved me crinkling up my nose and shaking my head when he mentioned drenching his beef in an unorthodox mix such as cranberry and barbeque sauce.
“Does cranberry sauce and barbeque sauce even go together?”
“Of course it does! Try that shit sometime. You’ll love me for it.”
“I’m sure I won’t, but okay.”
Blake ended up laughing at me, and this made me smile. Genuinely smile.
“You got nice teeth,” he had said once he calmed down.
I didn’t think about this at the time, but Blake made me feel good about myself. Confidence seemed to radiate off of me and my shell turned into an invisible cloak. I didn’t even know I could be humorous. Had no idea my teeth were nice. These were the things that made me more talkative, more pronounced, more willing to step out of my skin. I did exactly that by ordering a New York Strip Steak myself and having Blake’s recommended condiments on the side as a anticipated challenge.
“You know I’m paying for this right,” Blake inquired.
“Last time I bought you food you didn’t even finish it. How I know you gone eat this steak without my help?”
“Because we’re in Chicago.”
“So you can grub in Chicago but not in Springfield?”
“Yep, because it’s a whole other world up here.”
Blake laughed again, dipping his head back in pure enjoyment. I ended up laughing as well, and, it felt great. Not that forced, troubled laugh I emit when I feel like I’m on the brink of insanity. I laughed a bright, meaningful outburst that made Blake smile. I noticed that he had two small dimples denting either side of his cheeks. I tried not to blush. He was so cute and didn’t even know it.
I learned to eat a whole steak with cranberry and barbeque sauce and actually feel full. A little disgusted, but finally full. I learned to be adventurous...even for the little things.
After our lunch departure, Blake drove us to the mall. I had realized in the particular moment Blake was frantic for a parking spot that I had not been shopping in a long time. In fact, and I hate to admit this, but my mother still buys my clothes for me. I’ve never had great fashion sense when it came to clothes anyway, for the most part being that I never cared. My wardrobe consists of mainly jeans and flannels and t-shirts. Simple enough, which portrays well with my dull personality. So when Blake and I entered the first shop of a predominantly male clothing store, I had no idea as to where to start or what to search for.
“Go ahead, grab anything,” Blake reassured, standing promisingly behind me. “I got you.”
“Y-You just, want me, to pick out clothes?”
This irritated Blake. He rolled his eyes and gently pushed me forward.
“Duh. That’s why we here.”
It took me awhile to actually get started on my fashion findings, but eventually, I did. I picked out three simple outfits. The first outfit consisted of a white t-shirt to go under a red checkered flannel with black jeans. The second outfit was a little more edgy as I picked out a denim jean jacket with rips all over it, ripped jeans with two prominent holes in the knees, and a long sleeved white shirt to go underneath it. With the last outfit, I played it safe, and it was mainly to stick within Blake’s budget. I had chosen a solid black tank top with a blue checkered flannel, with another pair of blue jeans, the shade being just a tad bit stone washed. When Blake saw my selection of outfits, the first thing he said was, “You must really like flannels and jeans bruh.”
“Uh, yeah. A little.”
“I’m not complaining. Although, I picked out another outfit for you on my own.”
It slipped my mind that our gang dress code was composed of a denim jean jacket (no designer rips included) and a purple shirt of any kind to go with it. It seemed pretty simple to an innocent onlooker, but Blake and I both know that those jean jackets and purple shirts mean something significant. It acted as the emblem to our family hood. A commonality that we all had to indulge in to be a certified member.
Sometimes I really forget I’m in a gang.
After taking Blake’s chosen suggestion for me, we trailed into the dressing rooms so I could try on all that stuff. I’m a thin guy, so my sizes were a bit on the small side, meaning I fit my clothes perfectly. The purple shirt was a bit smug on my body and I think Blake liked this a lot. He never said any words, but his eyes spoke volumes his mouth couldn’t.
God I feel so self conscious he keeps staring at me.
“Ron,” Blake said, standing up from the bench to approach me with a shirt.
I never saw Blake grab another item, so it appalled me when he offered a gray and black button down with silver streaks meeting at the arms.
“Try this on,” Blake gestured, eyes never leaving my torso. “I promise this’ll be the last shirt.”
I was nervous, and I’m sure Blake felt it too. All sense ceased to exist as before I knew it, Blake’s fingers were at the hem of my shirt. My eyes widened. My heart stopped. I thought I was dead for a moment. Blake looked me in the eyes the whole time as I felt him raising my shirt up. I wanted to panic; I wanted to panic so bad. But I couldn’t get over how godly his touch felt even when he was raising the shirt over my head and I stood shirtless in front of him.
Even now, it is hard to describe how I felt. All I know is, Blake’s eyes trailed down my body and it made me burn all over. I hated how skinny I was and I knew I would look better if I just ate more and possibly worked out. Blake’s gaze made me wanna melt and I hated it. He just handed me the button down and said, “Put it on.”
I felt a knot growing in the pit of my stomach and I scowled myself to knock it off. This was not the right time to get excited. I just wanted to put on the stupid shirt, get away from Blake’s stupid ass staring and go home back to my stupid ass life.
But it was something in Blake’s eyes that made me stop panicking though. He looked at me as if...he wanted me. A craving I couldn’t quite call for but it was so puncturing and sexy. I almost buckled at just how promiscuous his expression was, let alone at the glint in his eyes and the tightening of his lips. I felt myself getting excited. I’d be damned if I let Blake get me excited in a mall dressing room.
I was so worried and shaky under Blake’s gaze that I was stupidly fumbling over the buttons. It was hard to button them with a very turned on guy just staring at me in places I didn’t want to be seen. Eventually, Blake took over the buttoning process and said to me, “God dammit Ron you’re driving me crazy.”
It came out soft and almost breathless, and you know what, I failed to care. I needed to be bold Ron. I needed to use this moment to my advantage. Blake found me appealing and although I couldn’t see the reason for it myself, I let him have the satisfaction anyway.
He was buttoning the buttons very slowly and purposefully. He took his sweet, sweet time. I felt his fingers brush lightly against my belly button and I curled right into him. Blake looked transparently surprised as I connected our tummies together, mine half unclothed and his shielded by fabric. I think I felt him grab my waist but I was too entranced to notice. I held on to his wrists and whispered provocatively in his face, “If you want to be a man about it, just touch me all over.”
“Ron,” Blake sighed, tilting my chin up to meet his eyes.
I felt worthy and I’d never felt a gaze as heavy and lustful as Blake’s before. It was a newfound feeling I wanted to get used to. But before Blake could do whatever he wanted with me, a thud sounded from the dressing room over, startling the shit out of both of us. Reality swam back quick and unapologetic. Blake kept his eyes on me but he made sure to leave me blushing forever as he said, “Don’t worry, that body gone belong to me when I get through with you one day.”
Honestly, I’m not even sure how I was able to bounce back from all that dripping sexual tension. Blake acted quite normal after our inappropriate scene with one another. He paid for my outfits (which all added up to be at least $85) and then we set cruise in his car again to talk about anything and everything.
Literally. Blake just cruised around Chicago as we spoke on common subjects. Nothing gang or school related, just bare, open topics with one another as we drove around with faint pop music playing over the radio.
I learned that Blake’s favorite color is blue.
“That’s why I like your eyes so much,” he said, giving me a once over that made me smile. “they so calm and relaxing.”
I learned that his favorite cartoon growing up was Tom and Jerry.
“Man, who don’t love that cartoon? Tom be getting that ass beat!”
The last thing I learned about him actually surprised me the most. Blake likes to read and write on his spare time. I found this out when Blake stopped for gas at this gas station/corner store and was sitting in the car with me amongst snacks he just bought as we waited for the tank to fill up.
“Yeah, I don’t really tell nobody that but I love to read and write. It just...relaxes me. Better than ice-cream honestly. When things in the real world get too out of hand, I just grab a book to read or a pen to start writing and go at it. I like living in different worlds.”
He let his eyes stare particularly at nothing, which I found so interesting and cute. I had no idea Blake did normal things. How ignorant of me to think that way, but I was really programmed to believe that all Blake did was cause havoc and create fear in people at school. But he did other things. He read books and liked to write them as well. That’s much more than I can say for myself.
I’ve never taken the time to explore my interests, which boggles me. Being that 90 percent of the time I’m battling my ongoing depression, I really didn’t preoccupy myself with doing things that I took a slight interest in. I figured I could try to read and write like Blake. It wouldn’t hurt to find happiness somewhere.
“What about you Ron? What’s your favorite hobby?”
I stared off into space but I was still thinking. I kept nodding like I was actually saying something. Blake only smirked and then asked me, “You ain’t got no hobbies?”
“I think I just want to be happy.”
I remember Blake saying, “Fair enough.”
A comfortable silence filled us both with ease as hours passed and the sun on the horizon sank into the crest of the Earth and faded away into nothing but stars and darkness. I nodded off a couple of times, my senses kicking back in if Blake hit a bump on the road or if we came to an abrupt stop. I tried not to let my mind wander too far as I did not want the full version of my reality to wake me up yet. The fact that it was seven-thirty at night and we were still in Chicago, away from home, (internally) I was trying to prevent myself from having a heart attack.
“When the hell are we going back to Springfield?” I questioned after moments of me scanning the city lights. One thing I had to admit was that Chicago was a really beautiful city, especially at night.
“We on our last stop, and I promise you can catch your school bus on time tomorrow,” Blake teased.
I started thinking about my parents and how I still wasn’t home. This gave me nauseating anxiety. I wasn’t used to living by my own accord yet, and my parent’s were too used to my prompt predictability. So I did myself a favor and texted more specifically my father, since he was the more level headed one when it came to my safety and concern.
I told him that I was out with a study group making some, “friends” for once and he believed me. He texted back okay, but be back soon, your mother wants you to eat dinner.
I snorted. Little did he know that that steak from earlier still had my stomach full.
“Everything alright Ron?”
“I just texted my dad saying I’ll be out late due to a study group making friends.”
“Shit, that’s a damn lie.”
“Where else could we possibly be going?”
“Up ahead. The fair right there.”
We were on the outskirts of the city, where there was the Fall Fair adorned with pretty lights and themed rides and festivities for the city folks to enjoy. This trip made me question my existence.
What purpose do I have on this God green earth?
Blake and I took our time to explore the Fall Fair after he purchased tickets for us to bypass. A decent amount of people were there, most of which were young adults who were in college or something. Blake stayed close by me the whole time, his arm brushing against mine every so often. If I was an innocent onlooker and happened to catch a glimpse at Blake and I, I without a doubt would think we were a couple. Our close proximity let others know that we were somewhat intimate, in a closeted and strange way. Still, I could not get it through my mind that Blake could be gay. His actions earlier told me otherwise. It could be a possibility. Why else would he claim that “my body would belong to his after he was through with me?” Straight guys didn’t say stuff like that to other guys.
Before I knew it, something awfully weird happened and I was transported to this alternate universe where nothing else mattered. I was having fun. Raw, authentic tons of fun. Not really caring how childish I seemed or how loose I was becoming, all I did was free myself of my horrible world and enjoy good company with Blake.
Our last station of the night was at this bulls eye activity where if you landed on a certain portion of the board, you’d get a certain amount of points that would then contribute to a corresponding prize. I paid five dollars for a total of five darts and timed my accuracy in an orderly manner. I had never played darts a day in my life before, so of course, I missed a total of four out five shots and only got fifty points. The supervisor of the station smiled at me and offered me five more darts.
Blake gave me five more dollars.
It was at this moment I took note of how much money Blake had been spending on me all day. I wanted to repay him, so I kept taking shots and through misses and successful landings, I finally gathered up enough points to get one of the big prizes.
“Congratulations, you have 530 points to spend. What would you like to buy?”
This would be my gift to Blake for being so nice to me and treating me like a friend. I spotted a giant plush sized turtle that was a soft sea blue color. I hoped that Blake would like it. When I saw him again, he had his arms behind his back with a smile on his face. I tried not to blush as I offered him the stuffed turtle, but I failed and reddened all over as I gestured for him to take my gift.
“I know this doesn’t make up for all the money you’ve spent on me today, but, I hope you like this turtle I’ve won for you.”
His smile stretched long and wide as he withdrew a red colored butterfly stuffie from behind his back. I gaped at him, suppressing my growing laughter. He shrugged his shoulders and simply said, “You’re priceless Ron. I hope you accept this pillow I won for you.”
We both ended up laughing and I realized how corny we were. Just two teenage kids, smiling at each other, hearts fluttering and faces flushed. I took his gift and he took mine.
“Thank you,” I said, lowering my head to let my bangs hide my eyes.
“Anything to make you happy,” I heard him say.
And then everything just faded.
The red butterfly pillow is tight against my chest and I can’t stop replaying our day. By the time I returned home, it was thirty minutes before one. Everyone in my household was fast asleep so I used my house key to welcome myself inside with joy and adrenaline pent up in my heart.
I know I will be a little exhausted going to school tomorrow, and I also know that I have to get my make up work for whatever I missed due to skipping school.
Turning over on my side, I feel tranquil and drowsy as the world seems to glaze over.
I had a wonderful day with Blake. He bought me new clothes, fulfilling food, and a cute plush pillow that I will cherish forever. He also taught me so many things about myself and life today, in the most indirect ways.
I learned to be mischievous about the little things. I learned to be thoughtful about the big things.
And most importantly, I learned to be grateful for everything.
One day...so much more will happen.