The Quarry

By Driver

Chapter 50

I had a dream that night ... an extremely vivid dream. I dreamt that while I was showing the other kids how to fight my father was standing there watching me, his arms folded across his chest and a cigar in the fingers of his right hand. His face was indistinct, but I knew it was him. Nobody else stood exactly like that. Nobody else lit their cigars and never smoked them, never even chewed on them.

I knew he was there. I wanted to talk to him, but I couldn't get my concentration away from the lessons I was giving. I yearned to be able to turn around, to see my father's face, to feel his love.

I could not.

I was compelled to show Eddie one more time how a serious punch starts at the tips of the toes and involves the whole body. Why couldn't I just turn around, even for a second?

Eddie kept punching the bag and I felt helpless watching him, knowing my father was right there and all I had to do was turn around. I could show him how big I'd gotten, tell him how much I'd learned.

I started to cry. I wanted to see my Dad, not Eddie punching the stupid bag. I knew he was there. I could feel him!

Frustration led me to push Eddie out of the way. I threw my whole body and being into the punch, and the bag exploded into sparks and ladyfingers and skyrockets. I could finally turn around, but my father wasn't there.

He hadn't gone away, either. He was still behind me, I could tell.

No matter which way I turned I could feel him behind me. My frustration built and built. "Why are you doing this?"

Doing what, Davy?

"Why are you hiding? Why can't I see you?"

I'm right here, son. You can't see because you're not looking hard enough. Close your eyes and you'll see me.

In my dream I squeezed my eyes shut tighter than they had ever been. "I still can't see you, Daddy!"

Yes you can, Davy. I'm right behind your eyelids. Don't look out ... look in. I'm right here. I've always been here, and I'll always be here.

Something refocused and I could see him clearly, right there in my head. I suddenly feared that would make him go away. "Daddy, don't go. I need you!"

I'll never leave, Davy. I can't leave. I'm part of you, son.

"... Do you ... do you love me, Daddy?"


I started to cry huge dream tears. He wouldn't answer. "DADDY?"

I never told you, did I? Listen up! I love you, Davy, in the way that only a father can love a son. You are me, but you're better than me. We lost each other, but I watch ... I see.

"What can you see?"

I can only see from where I am ... from within. Within you is a fine place, David.

"You don't care that I'm queer?"

I can only see inside. I can't see who you love, only how much you love, how strongly you love. You're a fine son, David.

I came awake with a start, wondering how a dream could seem so real. I opened my eyes for a second, then closed them again so I could see my father. He was still there, residing inside of me, visible sometimes on the backside of my eyelids, a lit but unsmoked cigar in his hand, a loving smile in his soft brown eyes.

* * * * * * * *

I woke up in the morning feeling pretty good, if a bit apprehensive. I was starting my freshman year of high school all over again. My head was just about spinning as I showered, thinking about the turn I took on the same day last year. What a year it had been! David Devino's undoing and his awakening, all in three hundred and sixty five amazing days. I could almost count them off one by one, give them names even.

Half of those days had seen me slide into a Hell I don't even want to think about anymore. I had been to the bottom alright. It's a place that reeks with evil ... the evil that people do everyday ... the evil that adults perpetrate on children ... the evil that makes the stench blowing off the sewage plant seem like fresh air.

I had been there, lost and alone, on a journey of my own choosing. I had let myself become part of the stink that comes directly from the bowels of Hell. I had to ask for directions along the way, but I found willing guides. They were happy enough to push the button for the bottom floor.

I can't blame anybody else. I followed the path that I wanted to, stupidly, not asking where it led. I lived down there for a while, not seeming to mind where I'd ended up. I thought it wasn't bad, considering. My needs were met. I ate and had a place to stay, a steady supply of drugs. What else could a fourteen year old boy want?

Without going over it again, the simple answer is anything else!

I had left a home that I could have returned to at any time, even though questions would have been asked that would have to be answered. Real people ... people who punched their time clocks every day ... cared about me and would have helped me.

I had no clue.

Until one day my best friend came knocking at my door, not knowing I'd be on the other side. I pushed him aside then, but hours later he risked his own life to save mine.

The other half of the past year had been a time of realization ... revelation, actually. I've come to think of myself as a 'real human person', in the words of my former shrink. It took a whole lot of people helping me, too. People who I never gave credit for being anything but my pals.

The truth is, they were friends. Pals hang around with you to have fun. Friends stick with you when it's not fun anymore, even when it turns ugly. I guess it was my upbringing in part, and the fact that my Dad died before he got to explain things, but I had always had friends, I just didn't know how to recognize them for what they were. I was too dumb to ask, so I went eleven years before I did believe I had one friend. That was only because he started a silly twenty-questions type thing while we were sitting on a rock.

I made a lot more friends after that. My new problem was that I didn't recognize their value to me. I got to know a lot more people and either liked them or didn't, for whatever reason. I totally missed out on the part that says when you have a friend it means something both ways.

I was important to these people, too ... part of their lives. That's the thing that I overlooked that might have changed everything. When I started to like somebody, it was for a reason. They were smart or funny or cool or just plain nice. It never dawned on me that they were only talking to me because they had some similar feeling for me, too.

I spent almost four years diminishing myself in my own eyes. My friends had always liked me, flaws and all, for who I was. I never knew it. I never asked anything that would let me know it.

The older guys somehow thought I was the persona of an old friend who had died young, but I never knew that either. I had just blundered along with a huge inferiority complex. I could fight, but I couldn't take a compliment. I could knock people down, but never realized I could pick them back up too.

Before heading downstairs, I took another look at myself in the mirror. Looking at yourself isn't particularly helpful when you're trying to see something other than if your hair's straight. You can never see what other people see. I knew what I looked like, but not how I came across. I tried smiling, but it looked stupid right then. I had nothing to smile about. I closed my eyes, then thought about Timmy Atkins, about where we'd been, about what he meant to me, about how he made me feel.

Through everything, I had somehow managed to find love. Love for a lot of things and a lot of different people, but love for myself too. My love was Tim. My essence ... my very being ... had changed forever with my love for Tim.

We weren't a matched set by any stretch of the imagination, more like the interlocking parts of a single whole. We each had what the other lacked and needed. That's probably not unusual, but we could and did impart those missing things without thinking about it, without even knowing we were doing it. In the simplest terms, we were brave and happy together, unsure and less happy apart. The only real constant in either of our lives was our love for one another. To Tim and me at least, it defined us more than anything. I loved Tim and he loved me. Nothing ... absolutely nothing ... could change that. It was a fact. It was the fact of our lives. We had done a lot of things sexually, but that wasn't our love - just a manifestation of it. We loved to kiss, but that wasn't it either. Our love was something else. Something more ethereal. Beyond words, beyond touching, beyond being able to make sense of it. It just was! Love existed inside us just as much as our internal parts did. That's what it was! Love was another part inside us, just like our hearts, only not everybody seemed to get one of the love parts. Either that or they never learned how to turn them on.

When I opened my eyes I was looking at a smiling version of myself. It wasn't a put-on smile this time. It came from within, from the love part that Tim had managed to switch on inside me. I still had a young face, but looking at the background things I'd always seen in that mirror, I realized that I was almost a full head taller than when I'd started school last year.

I went downstairs for breakfast wearing my happiness on my face. My mother recognized it and hugged me, saying that love word once again. I wasn't a cynic anymore. She wasn't trying to make up for lost time. She loved me and told me so, that's all. She was saying it to my sisters, too, and they said it to her and to me. I only had to ask once and there it was. It was my own fault for waiting so long.

I went outside to catch the bus. Brian had offered to pick me up, but I thought the bus ride offered more chances to meet people. I had a new need inside me. A need to know just who all the people that I passed on the sidewalk were. One important thing I'd learned during the last year was that people needed to be met and talked to before you could decide anything about them.

The same two girls who'd been there last year were there again, along with a boy I hadn't seen before. I smiled and said hello to all of them, then looked at the boy. He looked something like me, so I figured he was Italian.

"Freshman?" I asked.

"Yeah. You?"

"Yeah, again. But I'm gonna catch up with my class."

"You stayed back?" His eyes were wide open with what I thought was fear that someone as intelligent looking as myself could have stayed back. He probably really thought I was just an idiot.

"Yeah, I stayed back. What's your name?"

"Tony. Tony DeFrancesco. You're Devino, aren't you?"

"Yeah. Dave. How'd you know?" I held out my hand and we shook.

"I heard about you."

The bus came and we climbed aboard. I sat next to Tony. "What'd you hear?"

"Only that you can kick ass."

I didn't say anything. The bus made a few more stops and it was filling up. Two guys got on at one stop, and Tony made a sort of groan.

"What?" I asked.

"They're fags."

"Who's fags?"

"Those two kids that just got on. Man, this sucks. I had to go to junior high with them and now they're on the same bus. You gonna kick their butts?"


"Yeah, Dave. They're queers. Everybody knows it."

"How do ya know?"

"Everybody says so. Look at 'em, they're just two queers!"

I had a thought. "Ever hear of Rafe Anziano?" I figured Tony hadn't, but would be afraid to admit it.

"Yeah, I heard of Rafe!"

"Well, ya gotta be careful what kinda shit you say about queers in this school. Rafe's the biggest, baddest guy in school. He's pals with the whole football team and all the wrestlers."

Tony's eyes were wide. "Oh, yeah! That's where I heard of him."

"Well, Rafe's gay an' he's sort'a the chief queer here. Whatever he says goes! This ain't junior high, Tony. If you're afraid to make friends with a queer you're dead meat, and I mean dead!"

Tony looked awestruck. I struggled to keep from laughing at the new title I'd bestowed on Rafe.

"Rafe's gay?"

"Yeah, an' everybody knows it. If you wanna keep your ass attached where it belongs you better make friends with those guys before Rafe does." I looked at him and smiled. "It'll do ya good to make new friends, anyhow. Everybody's worth knowin'."

"They're queers, though!"

"So? What's that mean, anyhow? What's it mean to you? If they are queer it'll mean two more girls available to you. If they aren't, it just means you're an asshole for thinkin' it. Why the hell ya thinkin' this shit anyhow? It's the first day of school, man! You should just be makin' friends - coverin' your ass."

He looked at me, confusion on his face. "We're friends, right?"

"I don't know, man. I just met you. Why ya wanna be friends with me, anyhow?"

"I just don't wanna ... I mean, you hurt people. I heard all about it. You killed two guys last year with your bare hands."

"Not true. I never killed anybody. I made a coupl'a guys maybe wish they were dead, but I didn't kill 'em."

"It's just bullshit, then?"

"It ain't total bullshit. I never killed anybody, but I could. I could make your face look like you got hit by a train in about a half second. I just like makin' friends, though. You wanna fight or be friends?"

"Friends! Definitely. I don't wanna fight."

"Okay, but you gotta be friends with my other friends, too. You know these kids' names?"

"It's Jason and Alex, I think. You really like those guys?"

"I never saw 'em before, but I might like 'em. Let's go see!"

With that I got up and walked back a few rows until I was in the aisle next to the two kids. Tony was right beside me. There wasn't an empty seat near them and I didn't want to get the bus driver mad at me on the first day, so I just knelt down in the aisle. Tony knelt beside me. The two kids we were looking at had fear on their faces. I held out my hand. "I'm Dave. This here's Tony."

The fear didn't diminish. It deepened if anything, but one of them took my hand and shook it. "I'm Jason. This is Alex. What's up?"

"Tony was just tellin' me there's rumors about you guys."

The fear on their faces deepened even more, and they looked liked they wanted to shrink away from us. I said, "Listen, if you guys get hassled by anybody, me'n Tony'll be there to help. Rumors are just rumors. If it's true, it's your business. If it's bullshit, then that's all it is."

Jason looked like he was about to say something. I smiled at him. "Relax, guys. We just need to make some friends in this school. I know a few kids, but nobody in our grade. I just met Tony, and now we're meetin' you guys. You know how to smile?"

I grinned at them as they relaxed a little. "See? It's not so hard."

Alex looked at me a little suspiciously, but he tried to smile. "You really don't care about those rumors?"

"Not me!" I looked at Tony. "You?"

I knew I'd pretty much trapped Tony, but he seemed game. He smiled lamely at me, then flashed a good one towards Jason and Alex. "Whatever fries your fish, guys! I got my own things to worry about. You in general courses or college prep?"

We all chuckled at his choice of words, but it had broken the ice. Jason and Alex opened up a bit to talk about classes. They both had good senses of humor and seemed pretty friendly. We all walked to the front doors of the school together. I had to go to my appointment in the Guidance department, but we promised to look for each other at lunch. I watched the three of them walk away. Tony was still actively engaged in their conversation, so I didn't even worry about him changing his mind as soon as I was out of the way. I walked towards Mr. Romero's office feeling pretty good. I'd met three kids that I liked during one bus ride.

I passed Adam in the hall. We were going opposite directions and didn't have time for much more than a hello, but he was the picture of happiness.

Mr. Romano still seemed anxious to help me, though he gave me a schedule that even he admitted was a killer. He had signed me up for an English skills program at the community college, but that didn't start for two more weeks. He said he'd talked to all of my teachers to tune them in to what we were trying to accomplish. They weren't supposed to go easy on me, just pay a little extra attention to make sure I was keeping up. The theory was that if I started to slip, even a little, in just one class, it could wreck the whole program.

I went to another office to take the math test. I had it finished in about forty five minutes and thought I had gotten most of it right. I was in deep trouble if I hadn't. It would mean yet another after-hours class at the college. I expected to wait to find out, but the teacher who administered it graded it right in front of me. My palms were sweating when she handed it back to me with a big 82 written on it in red. She smiled and said, "Congratulations, David. You just passed ninth grade math. You're going to be in my algebra class, so be sure to let me know if anything gives you a problem. I really admire your gumption."

I thanked her, then left to find my home room. I was the last one there, but Alex was sitting in the back so I took a desk near him. There was a chubby girl sitting between us and I gave her my brightest smile before sitting down. I whispered, "I'm Dave," then held out my hand.

She said, "Denise," and we shook.

It was a typical first day of school. Not much happened in classes beyond teacher introductions and the passing out of books.

Each teacher did seem to make note of where I was sitting, but none of them said anything that was directed specifically at me. I was paying attention to them, though, watching their behavior and mannerisms, wondering what had driven them to enter the profession.

How much nerve did it take to stand up there looking at twenty or so different faces every fifty minutes? How many of those faces returned anything that gave gratification to these men and women for their efforts?

I had already resolved to study hard and be a good student, but wondered if there was something else I needed to do - something I needed to give back that would let them know that at least one student appreciated their being there every day. The answer was right inside my own head. I wanted to be a teacher, too. I could sense that the satisfaction didn't come from thank-you's or apples on the desk. It came from seeing your students actually learn and understand the subjects you were teaching them. That's the stuff that must give teachers their own inner smiles, the stuff that makes all the other crap they have to put up with worthwhile. The words Now I get it! must be music to these people's ears.

I met up with Tony in the lunch line. There were a lot of people ahead of us, but the ones right in front of me were a boy smaller than me with a girl who looked like his sister. They appeared to be sharing a tray. They were arguing about what to take, her telling him that mashed potatoes were cheaper and more filling than french fries. Their clothes were cheap looking but clean, certainly not the 'back to school' clothes most of the kids were wearing. Listening to them it dawned on me that not only were they sharing a lunch, they were trying to feed both of themselves with a dollar. My mother had given me fifteen dollars for the week, a ten and a five.

I reached in my pocket and pulled out my two bills. I put the five back, then leaned down to the floor with the ten as if I'd just found it. I tapped the girl in the middle of her back as I was standing up, then held it out to her. She spun around just as I was straightening up. I held the bill out. "You dropped this." I smiled at her.

She just looked at me. "That's not mine. Somebody else must have lost it."

Her brother turned around, and they were both looking at me. "It has to be yours," I said. "It wasn't there, then suddenly it was. Nobody else is here."

She stammered, "I didn't have that much. We ... I only brought a dollar with me."

I smiled, "Just take it, then. You can't both eat for a buck."

She glared at me. "Well, whoever lost that can't eat with nothing, can they? It's not my money!"

I didn't think this would be hard, but I guess people have their own pride. "Look, it's mine. Just take it and get a good lunch. I'm in trainin' and I can't eat that much anyhow."

The brother stared at me. "Training for what?"

"I'm learnin' how to be a good person. I need a lot of practice, and you two ain't makin' it easy. We're holdin' up the line here. Just put what you want on your tray and I'll take care of it. Is that okay?"

The girl was still staring at me, but her brother started filling up their tray. When she turned and saw him, she just gave an exasperated sigh, then turned back to me. "Okay, but just this one time. We're not charity cases, you know."

I just shrugged and smiled. "I didn't say you were, but you can't learn anything if you're hungry. Just have a good lunch. Things'll turn out okay." I made a mental note to learn their names and where they lived. We could start putting Tim and Artie's idea into practice.

When we were looking for a table Tony asked me, "Why'd you do that? Why'd you buy lunch for those kids?"

"They didn't have enough money."

"So what? How's that your problem?"

"You think it's a problem?" I grinned at Tony. "That wasn't a problem, Tony, that was a good thing! You want a problem? Meet me after school and we'll go a couple of rounds. I'll show you what a problem is."

Tony looked shocked.

I smiled, "Just kidding." I tried to look more serious. "Listen, those kids didn't have enough money and I did. It ain't complicated stuff, Tony. Capiche?"

He smiled at me. "You are really somethin' else. You got any more surprises?"

We looked around, then we found Jason and Alex in the back of the cafeteria. They'd saved some seats for us. As soon as I sat down Rafe came running over.

"Dave! Aren't you gonna sit with me and Bri? We saved you a seat."

I introduced Rafe to Alex, Jason and Tony. Tony seemed mightily impressed. "I'm gonna eat with these guys, I already promised I would." I smiled at Rafe. "We just met on the bus and need to get to know each other."

He got it. He smiled at us. "Boomer's with us. Stop by when you finish eating."

Rafe turned and walked back towards his table, not knowing that Tony's eyes followed him all the way. Tony turned around with a pretty astonished look on his face. "You were kiddin' earlier, weren't you? That guy's not really ...".

"Yeah, he is."

"Is what?" Jason and Alex wanted to know.

I rolled my eyes a little. "He's a senior. He's one of my best friends, too."

Alex gave Tony a funny, questioning look. "He looks like a senior to me. Why the surprise?"

"I thought he was somethin' else. It doesn't matter."

Tony was learning fast, but Alex decided to be a pest. "Come on, Tony! What else did ya think he was?"

"It's nothin', Alex. Just eat."

"Come on! What is he, a football star or something?"

I took a big bite of my food and watched Tony, deciding to let him deal with it. He looked pretty exasperated. Jason had a pear on his tray. Tony reached for it, then lazily held it up in his right hand. His left elbow was on the table and he was holding his head up with that hand.

Alex and Jason both looked puzzled, but I almost choked on my food.

"What? WHAT? What's a pear got to do with it?" Alex asked.

Tony just held it there, but they weren't getting it.

"You guys sure you passed in junior high? Don't ya remember your basic food groups?"

Jason got it pretty quickly, and brought his carton of milk to his mouth to hide his astonishment and embarrassment, but Alex continued to stare at the pear for a minute, then his eyes went wide and his ears turned red. He looked briefly at Jason, then turned and looked out the window. I nudged Tony, then formed my thumb and forefinger into a circle which, with my other fingers pointing out, meant 'Good one!'

I soon took pity on Alex and Jason. "Hey guys, it's okay. Rafe's not hidin' anything. Everybody knows about him, so we're not givin' out any secrets here. If you got a problem with it you better keep it to yourselves. He could squish both you guys with one hand. He's got a lotta friends, too. It really pays to be on his good side. Finish up so you can go meet him properly."

We finished our food without much more conversation. I watched Jason and Alex sneaking looks at each other and saw them looking in the direction Rafe had walked. I had no way to know if the rumors about them were true, but figured I'd given them what they needed to know either way.

It would be okay if they were gay, but if they weren't they knew there could be repercussions if they did anything to someone who was and, again if they were, anyone who bothered them for it would face the same repercussions. I figured I had all the bases covered and felt pretty smart.

We dumped our trays and walked over to Rafe's table. Boomer was holding forth with some story that had everybody paying attention to him. I had to tap Rafe's shoulder to let him know we were standing there. Rafe stood up and interrupted Boomer's story to introduce us around. There weren't any seats for us, so we just stood there listening while Boomer finished talking about his weekend escapades.

When the bell rang we all started heading in separate directions. At least I thought we did.

Alex grabbed my arm and I turned around. "Thanks, Dave. I mean, thanks for everything. Me'n Jason were really nervous about starting here, but meeting you and Tony and all those guys ... well, thanks. We're going to be friends, right?"

I grinned, "Yeah, we'll be friends. I'm glad I met you guys. I'll see ya on the bus, okay?"

When I turned to leave Alex, Tony was standing there with a half smile on his face. "You're pretty slick, ya know that? This morning I thought I hated fags, now I'm friends with a whole room full of 'em."

"What? The only one you know for sure is Rafe. That's not a roomful! And I don't like that word."

"Sorry, okay? You know what I mean. Even if it's just Rafe, at least I made friends with him and Alex and Jason."

"And me."

"You mean it? You really wanna be friends with me?"

"Yeah, Tony. We're gonna be good friends.. I gotta get to class, but someday we'll talk about what friends really mean, okay?"

"Cool. I'll see ya later."

"And Tony?"


"You're a class act. That deal with the pear was perfect!"

He just grinned at me and walked away. I walked towards my next class thinking about Richie and Eddie ... how Richie's one act of kindness and friendship might have kept Eddie from doing the unthinkable. How many lives would it change? Eddie's family would have been devastated if he'd killed himself. Adam would still be waiting for someday. Maybe Eddie would grow up to do something important for the world. I smiled, thinking my friend Richie had already done some pretty important things.

There were two classes after lunch, and I had to hurry to get to Social Studies on time. It was the one class that worried me. From what I'd seen last year we'd just have to memorize useless details about things like the price of mutton in Bolivia. I didn't even know what mutton was. The teacher last year had big jowls, and I remembered thinking maybe he was a mutton. Didn't people live in these other places? Did somebody somewhere actually think it was important for fifteen year old Americans to know how they generated electricity in Bulgaria, what the most common crop on Borneo was?

I was sitting there thinking I could memorize that crap if I had to, at least long enough to pass a test, when the teacher walked in. He was a youngish bean pole of a guy. The first thing he did was hand out our textbooks. He told us all to put them in the bottom of our lockers and return them at the end of the year. He said social equaled people, and that's what we were going to learn about. Religions, cultures and lifestyles. He said young Americans weren't much different than young people anywhere - that we had similar desires and hopes for the future. He wanted to teach us those similarities along with the differences that nationality, religion, location and history caused.

Social Studies suddenly sounded like fun, to me at least. Mr. Stanson seemed like a teacher to pay attention to, maybe even someone to emulate in the future.

My last class was American History. It was a subject I knew little about, and it was a sophomore class that should have been a study hall. I hoped I'd be able to get as interested in old stuff as Tim was, then suddenly realized that I already was.

I didn't know the order of the former Presidents, but I knew who made their medicine bottles, who raised the cows that produced the cream for their coffee. I didn't think I'd do well with the dates and names stuff, but once again the teacher said that wouldn't count too much towards our grades. She wanted us to learn about the whos, whats and whys that had led to the current state of the nation.

I could deal with that.

When the final bell rang I went to my locker, then headed outside to catch the bus. I hadn't gotten a single assignment, so I figured I had one more free night. I was walking towards the bus when I spotted a familiar figure. Tim was leaning against a tree. He was watching for me, but looking at the wrong door.

He hadn't seen me, so I disappeared in the crowd. I managed to get behind him, then walked up to the tree he was leaning against and leaned myself against the other side of it.

It wasn't a big tree, so I stretched my arms around it backwards until my hands touched him. "Howdy, stranger."

I heard a little laugh, then my hands were in his. "Howdy yourself. What brings you to these parts?"

"This is where I work. How'd you get here so early?"

"Last period study hall. I lucked out. I can pick you up every day. How'd it go today? You make out alright?"

"It was a good day. I think I did some good things, anyhow. You?"

"Not bad, Dave. Not bad at all. I caught some pretty good classes with kids I know. It's gonna be a good year."

"Neat. Hey, I passed the math thing! I got a grade for last year, and I passed."

"I knew you would. I'm glad, though. You wanna try my side of the tree?"

"Is everybody gone?"


"We better wait, then. I met some new kids on the bus. They're pretty neat."

"That's good. You still love me?"


"Does that mean like forever?"

"It means always, Tim. When forever's long gone I'll still love you."

"Ya wanna do something? You got homework?"

"No homework. What's wrong with what we're doing?"

"We have a tree between us."

"Yeah, but take the bark off and it's just another pole."

"I don't always know what you're talkin' about, Dave."

"You can be dense too, Timothy."


"That's your name, isn't it?"

"Yeah, but you never said it before. What's with the tree?"

I sometimes wonder what we looked like to others right then. We were right in front of the school, holding both pairs of hands together. I was feeling all kinds of good signals through my hands, and trying to send even stronger ones back to Tim. But we were back-to-back with a tree between us, so it must have looked like some little game or ritual. We were holding hands right in front of the high school and not a single soul seemed to notice.

I said, "Forget the tree. Wanna go sit on a rock?" I let go of Tim's hands and walked in front of him. For a second I could see my own happy eyes reflected in his.

He smiled. "Think some good thoughts? Do some good things?"

I smiled back to him. "Love some good people is what I wanna do."

"I already love the best person, Dave."

"No you don't. I do," I protested.

Timmy shot back, "You are so full of it. I do and you don't, and that's it!"

"Tim, ya gotta get one thing straight ..."

That little argument continues to this day.

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