By Shaun David Hutchinson
"So you know what she says?" Darwin grinned at Jordan. He always liked the way her eyes seemed to shine.
"I dunno. What?" Jordan shrugged and tried to find a more comfortable position on the bench.
"She says, 'that's nice dear. Do you want broccoli or spinach with dinner tonight?'" Darwin brushed his light brown hair from his eyes and returned his gaze to the stars.
Jordan positioned herself on one elbow and looked at Darwin. "You're kidding me right?"
"No," said Darwin. "She didn't even bat an eyelash."
Jordan laughed. "My mom would of died of a heart attack." She laid back on the bench and looked at the same stars as Darwin.
"I love this place." They were about two feet from each other on separate wooden benches that were on the edge of the intercostal. There were no lights around to blind them and no one to hear them talk. "Jordan?"
"Am I weird?" Darwin watched the sky intently and was glad that it was dark so that Jordan couldn't see his face turning red.
She laughed. Jordan's laughter rang out clear and pure. To be sure, it was not malicious laughter, but ironic would the best word to describe it.
"Thanks," said Darwin. "That's the reply I needed. Really." He folded his arms over his chest.
"I'm sorry Dar. It was just such a funny question coming from you of all people." Jordan coughed a couple of times, to contain the fading conclusion of her mirth.
"Why?" Darwin was deadly serious and it came through in his voice.
Jordan instantly collected herself and sat up on the bench. "Listen Darwin. I didn't mean to laugh. You know how we are. You wear a shirt that says 'Mental Help Wanted' on it and I'm crazy enough to be friends with you. That along with the fact that I'm 5'11" and none of my boyfriends have topped 5'6", we make a pretty strange pair. That's why I laughed. I'm sorry."
"Oh." Darwin bit his lip. "It's just that with this whole gay thing, I'm starting to wonder if I'm really truly strange, or just fucked in the head like everyone else in this world. My mom didn't care, but I just don't know."
Jordan grinned. "Is that what this is about?" She looked at Darwin, who nodded. "C'mon, you know better than that. You're not going to start obsessively start wearing dresses and high heels, unless you're into that sort of thing, and just 'cause you're gay doesn't mean you're any more messed up than anyone else. Truth be known, you're probably one of the most sane people that I know."
There was a rustle in the bushes and Jordan jumped up from her seat. "What was that?"
"Probably just a raccoon." Darwin sat up as well. They both watched the bushes for a minute when two raccoons emerged.
Jordan shrieked and stood up on the bench. "Oh my god. Oh my god."
"Shhhh. You'll scare them." Darwin slowly walked over to Jordan and eased her back to a sitting position. "I'm sure they'll leave soon."
They watched the raccoons for a moment. The small furry animals pawed at the ground a bit and in general just wandered around. Darwin turned to look at something behind him when he heard Jordan again. "Look. Look. I think that one's attacking the other one."
Darwin looked to where Jordan was pointing. He began to laugh.
"What," said Jordan defensively.
"They're not fighting."
Jordan furrowed her brow. "What're they doing then?"
Darwin took a second to search for the right word. "They're frolicking."
The realization of what the raccoons were doing took a second to hit Jordan. "Ohhhh." She watched in fascination. "In the grass? Isn't that uncomfortable?"
Darwin grinned. "There are worse places to frolic. The grass might be comfortable."
"Would you frolic in the grass?" Jordan looked slyly at Darwin.
"I'd frolic on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial if the right person was involved."
"Oh." Jordan looked at the raccoons again. "I think they're done."
Darwin shook his head. "That was fast."
Jordan laughed. "Yeah. Now I bet the guy has to back to his hole to sleep while the girl looks for food."
"Hey now!" Darwin got up and went back to his own bench. He laid down and looked at the stars. "Falling Star! Quick, make a wish." Both Jordan and Darwin were silent while they made their wishes. "I've never seen a falling star before."
Jordan looked at Darwin. "They're called shooting stars."
Darwin stood up. "Ummmm. Yeah." He brushed his shirt and straightened his clothes. "I think we should take off."
"'Cause I'm hungry."
Jordan stood up and looked at Darwin. "You're always thinking with your stomach."
Darwin grinned. "Not always."
"Gross! I didn't need to hear that."
Jordan and Darwin began to walk back to Jordan's house. They followed the small path that would take them back to her development.
"Hey," said Darwin, "Let's stop by Taylor's house and see if he wants to come."
Jordan led the way. They got to a small wooden walkway which usually served as a shortcut to Jordan's house. "Stop."
"What?" Darwin stopped dead and tried to see what Jordan was looking at.
"I think we should skip the trip to Taylor's.
"Why?" Darwin craned his neck but he didn't know where to look.
Jordan smoothed back her hair. "Because Taylor's doing a little frolicking of his own." She pointed to a driveway where a young man with platinum blonde hair, dressed mostly in black had his arms wrapped around a young girl with dark red hair.
"I see." Darwin looked for a second and then turned away. "Let's take the shortcut." Without waiting for Jordan, Darwin started off down the walkway.
"Hey wait Darwin." Jordan took off after him. When she finally caught up to him she grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. "What's wrong with you? Don't you like my company anymore?"
"Nothing's wrong." Darwin kept walking, but he walked slow enough that Jordan could keep up. "If we're going to make it to the movie on time, we have to hurry up and eat."
Jordan shrugged. "Whatever."
"Hey! Where's Taylor?"
Darwin shut his car door. "Well hello to you too James."
A short boy with dark brown, nearly black hair ran across the street, almost getting hit by a car in the process, to where Jordan and Darwin were standing. "Hi Darwin. Jordan."
Jordan walked around to where Darwin was standing. "Hi James."
Darwin looked around to see if any of his other friends were there. "Taylor was frolicking with some girl in his driveway."
"What?" James looked confused.
"He was rolling on the ground with this girl," said Jordan. "We didn't want to disturb him."
"He was supposed to meet us here." James ran his hands through his hair and used his ears to hold it back.
"Well," said Darwin, "I don't think he's gonna make it."
"But this is Star Wars. He wouldn't miss this for the world."
Jordan shrugged. "I guess there are just some things that are more important. He certainly seemed to be enjoying himself."
"Can we not talk about this anymore?" Darwin's voice was cold and distant.
James seemed about to say something but he looked at Jordan who merely shook her head at him. "Sure Dar." Jordan put her arm around his shoulder. "Why don't we go in."
"She sure didn't seem like no one."
Taylor stuffed a couple french fries into his mouth. "She was just a girl I know." Taylor looked at Jordan, who was grinning. "And why'd you go tell James that we were rolling around on my driveway?"
Jordan laughed. "Ok. So maybe I exaggerated a little, but you did seem to be enjoying yourself."
"If you must know," said Taylor, "I actually was not really having a good time. But she sort of expected it."
"Sounds like a real winner." The sarcasm hung thick from Jordan's words.
Taylor looked like he was going to say something when Darwin came running in. A waitress tried to stop him but Jordan and Taylor waved him over. "God," said Darwin, "It's only Denny's. You'd think I was trying to get into a fancy restaurant or something." Darwin sat down beside Jordan. Darwin visibly relaxed as he sat back in the booth.
"What's up Darwin? You're late." Taylor drenched a fry in ketchup and looked at it. He didn't seem to have the heart to eat it.
"Sorry. I got out of work late."
"It must be tough folding all those clothes." Jordan grinned at Darwin.
Darwin looked at Jordan. "Coming from someone who doesn't work." The waitress interrupted so that she could take Darwin's order and then left them alone again. "So what were we talking about?"
Jordan sipped her coffee. "I was just teasing Taylor about the girl he was rolling around with on his driveway."
Taylor sighed. "I thought we already established that we were not rolling around on my driveway. I wasn't even having fun."
Darwin's face became overcast and he couldn't look Taylor in the eyes. "Yeah right."
"I'm serious." Taylor stared hard at Darwin until the other boy had no choice but to look into his steel grey eyes. "She's not even my type Darwin. We weren't doing anything."
"Don't get all bent outta shape." Darwin smoothed back his brown hair and looked up as the waitress was returning with his drink. "I was just kidding."
Taylor shook his head. "Whatever."
No one could say anything. An uncomfortable silence swirled thick around them like a heavy fog. Taylor played with his fries while Darwin pretended to be interested in his drink. Jordan watched it all with rapt fascination. Finally she could take it no longer. "Why don't you boys just kiss and make up?"
Darwin looked at her with an expression that could best be described as complete bewilderment. Taylor just laughed.
"So," said Taylor, "How was the movie?"
"My God!" Darwin threw his hands up in the air. "You missed the greatest movie off all time." Darwin looked at Jordan who was smiling at both of them. "Star Wars on the big screen. I can't believe you missed it."
"So am I. Believe me, anything would have been better than what I was doing." Taylor noticed a strange look in Darwin's eye, but his attention faltered as someone dropped a stack of plates behind them.
"Sorry," said the red faced waiter. "I'm trying to tear the whole place apart tonight."
Jordan and Taylor laughed. Taylor turned back around and looked at Darwin. "So, are you two up to seeing it again?"
Darwin seemed as if he had been woken from a deep reverie. "What?"
"Star Wars you moron." Taylor looked at Jordan. "Would you guys go see it with me?"
Jordan smoothed back her short auburn hair and shrugged. "Sure, whatever. I don't care." Jordan looked at Darwin. She always noticed that they were so much alike. They even looked very similar. Both had light brown, almost gold, hair. Their eyes were both brown. But while, as Darwin usually noticed, Jordan's eyes seemed to shine, Jordan noticed that Darwin's eyes seemed to change color. Most of the time, they were a normal brown, but on occasion, they became so dark they could almost be considered black. This was one of those occasions.
"Darwin?" Taylor didn't know what was going on and was utterly confused.
"Yeah sure, I'll go."
Taylor was about to say something more when the waitress brought all of them their food.
"Who had the grilled cheese?"
Everything else was forgotten as the appetites of youth were sated.
Darwin bolted upright as the shrill shriek of his telephone tore him from his slumber. "Hello." His voice was thick with sleep and agitation.
"Yeah." He was clearly becoming more annoyed with every second that passed.
"It's Taylor. Were you sleeping?" Taylor didn't seemed very concerned about Darwin's state of wakefulness, but he did seem concerned about something.
"I'm sorry." Taylor stuttered a bit. "I'll call you tomorrow."
"No," said Darwin. "I'm already awake. What do you want." Darwin seemed more coherent and he got out of bed to turn on a light.
Taylor didn't seem to know how to continue. "Um, well I was just curious about something."
"What?" While Darwin had become significantly more lucid, his level of irritation had only increased.
"It's just that you seemed so odd tonight." Taylor paused to collect his thoughts. "Is everything alright?"
Silence met Taylor. It was not what he expected. The boy had at least expected him to shout at him. Anything would have been better than the silence.
Luckily, like a terrible fever, it was finally broken. "Meet me up at the beach in ten minutes."
Taylor tried to respond, but he found himself talking to the dial tone.
Darwin heard the sound of a car door slam shut. He didn't turn around, there was no need. At four in the morning, it was either a police officer or Taylor. He decided by the way the person's feet dragged across the ground, as if they were reluctant to approach, that it was the latter.
"Hi Dar." Taylor's own voice confirmed what Darwin already knew.
"Taylor." Darwin didn't need to look to know that Taylor was standing beside him. He waited just a second before he walked down the steps to the beach. He didn't care if Taylor followed, but he knew the other boy would.
The waves crashed fiercely against the shore. They seemed to be trying to reach something that they could never have. Darwin could relate.
"What's up with you Darwin?" Taylor was upset. His indignation was strong. Here was his best friend shunting him for no apparent reason.
Darwin turned to Taylor and an impish grin spread across his face. "What if I told you I only had three months to live."
The shock registered almost immediately. "What're you talking about?"
"Just answer. What would you say?"
Taylor shook his head. "I don't know. I mean, that's horrible."
"So if I told you I was dying, that would be like the worst thing I could say to you?"
He closed his eyes and sat down on the sand. It was all too much for Taylor. "Yeah, I guess."
"Good," said Darwin. "I'm not dying. I'm gay."
All emotions were erased from Taylor's visage. He stood up and stared at Darwin. The other boy was smiling, but when he saw the look in Taylor's eyes, the smile disappeared.
"Taylor, what's wrong?" Taylor started to walk away. "Taylor. I thought you said that me dying was the most horrid thing I could tell you. This is nothing compared to that."
Taylor turned around. One tear hung in the corner of his eye, but that's all that was in his eyes. "If you told me you had three months to live, I would be devastated. But this." Taylor spread his hands out in fronts of him. "You're already dead." Taylor turned and walked away.
My floor and my thoughts all just came flooding out. I mean, I don't already feel shitty enough as it is and here comes this guy who I think is my best friend and he tells me that I'm worthless. You just don't know what this is all like. He would rather me be dying than be gay." Darwin wiped a tear from his eye.