Coming to Terms
Moans and gasps rang out from Jacob’s computer speakers into the silence of the house. He jumped from his seat to silence the noise. Hopefully, no one had heard. The naked woman on the screen writhed and twisted as she touched herself and looked longingly out of the screen at Jacob. He felt sorry for her since she was trying so hard and getting no response from him. He closed the video. He opened another, this time with a couple, male and female. They adjusted themselves and the man was left completely exposed. Jacob felt himself pressing against his jeans.
NO! That’s not right, Jacob admonished himself. He closed the last window and stared at his computer desktop in frustration. He had tried many kinds of personal therapy, including pinching himself while aroused, switching from stimulating images to disgusting ones, and even the age-old thinking about baseball or grandma’s apple pie, but nothing worked. This “perversion,” as his dad would call it if he knew, was still tormenting him. It wasn’t until he was in seventh grade and his sex education class defined homosexuality that Jacob had any idea that the evil homosexuals that his baptist minister father ranted about on Sunday mornings might have included himself. He wasn’t a homosexual though. He hadn’t actually done anything. He could still fix himself. Right? He’d been trying for 4 years now. He had sex with women. Actually, his friends were all jealous of how easy he had it getting girls into bed. The truth was he didn’t really do anything. He talked to them, and they kind of did everything else. He wasn’t gay; he had sex with chicks, lots of them in fact, and he enjoyed it, well enough.
He still couldn’t get aroused just from looking at or thinking about women. He knew his friends could. They actually complained about it being too easy, like they’d get hard just by brushing past a girl in the hall. Jacob knew what they meant, only in his case it wasn’t the girls that caused him that problem at school. How easy it would be to just give in.
Jacob sat at his computer with his head in his hands. He had run the whole scenario through his head so many times. What if he just gave in? Let himself have these desires? He knew there were gay kids in his school. He also knew they got beat up, and he knew it was his friends who did at least some of the beating. He was always a little resentful of those guys, the ones who weren’t hiding it, who just let it go. Jacob’s dad would condemn them, of course. They were going to hell; couldn’t be saved. They already had the devil in them. God, What would he do if he knew the devil was in his own house? Don’t take the lord’s name in vain Jacob.
“Jake, dinner,” his mother called from down the hall.
Jacob lifted his head and shut his monitor off. “Coming,” he called back. He took a deep breath, lifted himself from his chair, and made his way down the long hallway lined with crosses and various imagery depicting Jesus. He always felt he was being judged as he walked that hallway. His family may not know about him, but he knew Jesus would. Did Jesus really care as much as Jacob’s father made it seem? Did God care? Did that even matter? Jacob wasn’t so sure anymore.
The next morning Jacob stood with his friends in the hall before school. They always gathered outside the gym until the bell. They piled their backpacks together against the wall and sat around commenting on the passing girls. Jacob’s closest friend, Bret, was nudging him and tilting his head toward a girl walking past wearing a blue knee-length skirt and white shirt. She was thin but shapely. Bret was gesturing towards her with his head, questioningly.
“Yeah, ” said Jacob.
“Yeah, hot?” Bret asked.
“Yeah, I’ve been there already,” said Jacob.
“No way...” Bret shook his head. “Come on man, you gotta leave a few for the rest of us. Help us out here, shit.”
Colin, who sat on the other side of Bret leaned over. “Seriously, asshole, it’s like every girl in this school is Jake’s leftovers now. I’m gonna have to start dating Middleton girls.”
“Traitor,” said Bret as he shoved Colin in the arm. “You do that, see how gross your junk gets doing girls from Middleton.”
“What do you want me to do, then? Fucking Casanova over here’s touched all the options. All we’re left with is dudes,” said Colin, “and I ain't no fucking cocksucker, so fuck off, I’ll date Middleton girls if I want.” Colin shoved Bret back. He pointed across the hall at a guy standing in another group. “There you go, Pansy, that’s what you get. Unless Jacob’s been there already, too.”
“Shut up, I’m not a fucking fag,” said Jacob. Not like him anyway, he thought as he looked across the hall.
The guy Colin pointed at was Seth Thompson. Jacob watched him for a moment until the bell rang, calling them to their classes.
Jacob couldn’t stand Seth Thompson. He’d never really talked to him, actually, but he was so contrary to everything Jacob wanted to be. He was out, for one. Everyone knew Seth was gay. He got beat up for it at least once, and he didn’t seem to care. He was in theater. He wore rainbow earrings for Christ sake! How stereotypical can a person be? He wore his hair in a mop-top of dark blond curls that was just short enough to see the small rainbow studs in his earlobes, both of them. He was slender and just a few inches shorter than Jacob. He had a soft face and a small nose and was always wearing a smile. Jacob had short dark hair and sharp features. He was on the basketball team and was well built for it standing at six foot three. He put so much work into seeming “normal.” He wanted to beat Seth up himself just for being so carefree.
Jacob couldn’t get the conversation with Colin out of his head all day. How dare they insinuate that he had anything to do with Seth. He knew they didn’t mean it, but it got under his skin anyway. His basketball practice in the afternoon went quickly and Jacob stayed after on the court as usual until he could be sure the other guys had already left. He had a reputation for being a hard worker, but what would they think if they knew his real reason for long practice? The locker room was empty when he changed and showered, just as it always was. The face of Seth Thompson flashed through Jacob’s mind again. That carefree grin of his with his perfect teeth... Why was it bothering him so much today? The night before had made him feel like his condition was hopeless. Perhaps that was it. Seth’s nonchalant attitude about such things grated on Jacob’s nerves. He needed to drink, relax, and forget about it. He decided to wait outside the 7/11 to see if there was anyone who would grab a drink for him. If there weren’t, maybe he would just lift one himself.
Jacob was lucky to find Carl, one of the graduated seniors from last year, behind the counter. He wouldn’t say anything if Jacob sent money in with someone with ID. Everyone did it anyway. Jacob hung outside the door, leaning up against the brick wall, waiting.
Seth came out of the convenience store door. He leaned up against the wall next to Jacob without looking at him and pulled out a cigarette. He put one end in his mouth, lit it, and exhaled the smoke. Jacob caught himself staring at Seth. Him? Of all people. What is he doing here now? He shoved his hands in his pockets and shifted his gaze to the ground.
“Cigarette?” asked Seth.
Jacob looked down at Seth. His lips were soft around the cigarette, almost like a girls, but his jaw was too wide. “No,” said Jacob. Jacob noticed that Seth wasn’t wearing the rainbow earrings. Jacob fidgeted, and bounced his foot as he leaned against the wall and waited for Seth to leave.
“Do I make you uncomfortable?” Seth asked suddenly in his light melodic voice.
Jacob didn’t know how to respond. He shifted his feet and just tried to ignore Seth, who hadn’t looked in his direction once.
“I saw you and your friends pointing at me today. Did you have a good laugh at my expense?” he chuckled, with a hint of disdain. “I’m the one who gets the real laugh.”
“How so...?” Jacob asked, slightly curious. He felt mildly ashamed at Seth’s words, but couldn’t stand the arrogance with which they were said.
“I know your secret,” said Seth.