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A Shot At Love
April 3rd had started off like any other school day for every kid at Monroe High, every kid that is except Tyler Gainns. His day had been planned out for weeks, to the very last detail. He knew where his victims would be and who his main targets were. He hadn’t really thought about what would happen with all of the “innocent bystanders” because he frankly didn’t care, they could live or die. Those other four hundred and some students were not in any way important. The ones he cared about were the “popular kids”, the ones that made fun of him everyday. They were Mac Steinway, Kristy Huntington, Devin Brothers, and his ex-girlfriend, the one who ruined his life most, Lindsey Reed. They would no longer be able to ruin his life or anyone’s in that case, any longer. Today it would be their day that was ruined and smashed to bits. Not his, not the kid that sat with him at lunch, who was named Billy Summers and not any other helpless nerd at Monroe.
“Mom, I’m leaving,” he says as he carefully wraps the 9mm in a pillowcase and drops it lightly into his tan satchel, the one with the green trim and blue paint marks. A smirk creeps across his face as he pulls his Infamous hoodie over his head and slips his bag over his shoulder. He can feel the gun, it seems like it is burning a hole in the bag as if screaming out to be used.
“Soon enough. Soon, I promise,” he whispers into the air.
The voices are starting to talk to Ty again, he doesn’t know any way to keep them quiet except for listening to their demands. A few weeks ago they had demanded that he plan this day out and a week before that he had been told to kill his dog, Butter. He smiled the entire time, watching everything play out and reliving it every night in his dreams. That night when he had finished that deed, the voices had praised him, told him how proud they were of him. Hearing that, made him feel good about himself. It made him want to please the voices all the time.
He walks the same winding path that he has followed to school everyday for seven years. He mutters little, random words of encouragement to himself. Sure, people stop and stare at him, but he keeps walking as though they are only figments of his overactive imagination. Then he spots a boy, about sixteen by the looks of him. He looks lost, scared and frightened just like Ty was a few years ago when he was getting on the bus for his first day of high school. He is intrigued by this new person and cannot help but slow his pace so that he is able to examine New Guy thoroughly.
“Um, hey. Yeah you,” New Guy says with a whisper.
“Yeah? Do you need something?”
The boy nods and asks for directions to Cougar Street, the street that Monroe High School is on. Ty takes this as an opportunity to get to know New Guy, in the hopes that it will make him look less suspicious as he walks into school. Ty says,
“Yeah. I’m on my way there now. Want to tag along and I’ll show you?”
New Guy smile,
“Yeah, that’d be cool. I’m Zeke by the way,”
Ty introduces himself and asks where Zeke live because he hasn’t seen him around. Zeke tells him that his family just moved in to the old house on Jefferson Street and that it’s his first day at Monroe. They go on and talk for a little while, Ty checking Zeke out with every chance he gets.
“Oh, yeah and just so you know. I’m gay. If you have a problem with that I understand….” Zeke trails off. Before the thought totally processes in Ty’s mind he blurts out that he is also gay, which is only somewhat true. He would have never told anybody else, because he was unsure of his sexual orientation. At that moment it seemed like the only logical answer to Zeke’s random confession.
“Really? Awesome. I don’t feel so alone now. Are there a lot of us at Monroe?” Zeke asks, emphasizing the word “us.” Ty has one of his mind lapses again and without thinking says that the town of Monroe kind of frowns upon homosexuality. The church will not allow an openly gay person through the door and that the school kids beat up the homos and teased them like they’re the biggest outcasts ever. Zeke’s face goes white as a ghost.
“So, I’m going to have some problems today is what you’re saying?”
“Yeah. Most likely,”
Ty felt guilty that he was planning to shoot up the entire school and this guy, Zeke, who seemed like a pretty legit guy had no clue that he was going to be thrown into the chaos. He hadn’t told anybody about his plan yet, so why not take a chance and tell this one person. The voices agreed, they said that if Zeke told anyone what was going to happen that day, he could just shoot him.
“Zeke. I need to warn you about something. Can we stop walking for a minute?” Ty asks.
Zeke stops, in the middle of the sidewalk without even asking why he was doing so. Ty felt as though Zeke trusted him already and that only made him feel more guilty about what he was going to do.
“Okay. I need to tell you something and you have to promise not to freak out. OK? You can’t tell anyone.”
“Okay, but you’re starting to scare me.
Ty slowly pulls the pillowcase out of his bag and unwraps it as slowly as possible. He has reached the point of no return. His nerves are on edge when Zeke realizes what he is being show.
“Bro! Is that a gun?” Zeke yells out.
Ty fumbles with the pillowcase and gestures for his new friend to quiet down. Zeke calms himself and sits down in the grass trying to gather some composure. He finally tells Ty,
“I know we just met and all, but I can’t let you do this. I care about you enough to know that this will only ruin, if not end your life. Don’t do it. Let’s just turn around, go back to your house, put this up and then we can talk about it. I am not letting you go to school with this though. Do you know how stupid this idea is?” Zeke begins rambling about how this could hurt Ty more than anyone. Ty, in his own little world is fantasizing about the thought of Zeke being in his house.
He thinks about how cute Zeke is. He has that shaggy black hair and tan skin that just drives Ty crazy. He can’t stop staring at his toned biceps and how his thick black glasses fit his face perfectly; they give him that just right balance between jock and nerd. Ty realizes in that minute, as Zeke is trying to talk him out of something he has been thinking about for weeks and that he is considering not following through. All because of a guy, one guy that he just met and barely knows. It doesn’t feel that way to him though, he feels as though he and Zeke are best friends and have been for years.
“Ty? Are you listening to me? Hello?” he hears Zeke say as he begins to focus on real life again and not on Zeke’s fabulous body and his even better personality. His tendency to blurt things out rears its ugly head once more and he says,
“Hey. Do you maybe, possibly want to go on a date,” Ty pauses, his voice cracking slightly, “with me?”
Zeke smiles widely and says,
“I thought you’d never ask. C’mon, let’s just go back to your place and chill for a while. We might be able to squeeze that date in today. You know, if you’d like….” he trails off, leaving the rest of the sentence up to Ty’s imagination.
*** Twenty Years Later***
“Zachary! Emily! Come on, the bus is going to be here in five minutes!” Zeke yells up the stairs to his two children, a blonde little girl named Emily and a broad shouldered son, Zachary. At the same time that Zachary and Emily come downstairs to say goodbye to their father, Ty strolls into the kitchen carrying a Fruit and Grain bar in one hand and a thermos full of coffee in the other. He looks at his husband, the slender boy that he met twenty years ago was gone. In his place was a muscular thirty-seven year old dressed in khakis and a polo.
“I’m off to work honey. I’ll see you tonight. Oh, and don’t forget that Zachary has a football game at six-twenty in Vales. I’ll meet you there. Love you,” Ty says planting a kiss on Zeke’s right cheek.
“Love you too!” Zeke calls out the door as he begins to usher the kids out to the bus stop after they also say goodbye to their father.
The kids get onto the bus a few minutes later and Zeke begins his day as a “house-husband.” He cleans, cooks, and takes care of their dog, Bentley. Bentley is very special to Zeke because he and Ty found him, beaten and battered on the street the day they met.
Ty sits in his car, alone with the radio on low. The voices call out to him still, but now they don’t tell him bad things; they remind him that he has a wonderful family and they tell him how he should never give that up. He doesn’t fear the voice now, they are his friends. Before he is even out of the driveway he is already yearning for the chance to just sit at home with his husband and two children. He watches his children step onto the bus, in the rear view mirror. He watches Zeke walk back up the driveway and waves to him as he backs out of the drive and speeds off to work.
At around 2:37 Ty’s cell phone rings with the special ring tone set for Zeke. He picks it up, anxious to hear his voice.
“Hey. I have exciting news for you,” Zeke says.
“Yeah? What is it?”
“We have been chosen to be the adoptive parents of a little Chinese boy, Lee. What do you think? I think that it’s a wonderful idea!”
Ty stops breathing, his heart skips a beat. He is so excited because he is going to have a second little girl in the next couple of months.
“Yes,” he says in an excited tone of voice.
“Okay. Well, we can go in to the office for a meeting tomorrow afternoon,”
Ty’s boss wanders through the hallway and sees Ty on his cell phone. He glares at him and Ty immediately tells Zeke that he has to go, that he loves him, and will see him tonight. He hangs up the phone and goes back to his normal work day excitedly awaiting the end of it.