McCleary High School
a teaser of things to (potentially) come!
@ericd97 made me feel like Sandy in Grease. spent 6 wks w/ my face btwn his thighs just 2 get dumped the day b4 school #summerluvin #outed
I read the tweet twice more just to make sure that it actually existed and wasn’t a figment of my imagination. I’d had figments before but only after eating shrooms with Rosemarie and David in Central Park. It’d been a disaster. We’d stumbled into a part of The Ramble that had apparently been taken over by homeless people and run out screaming, convinced they were zombies. Maybe this was like that. Except without drugs. Maybe I’d fallen asleep. Or had a stroke.
I scrubbed my hands over my face, blinked twice, got up and paced around the room, returned, and the tweet was still there.
140 characters was all it took to ruin my life.
@ericd97 @mactuckah is this for real?
@ericd97 @mactuckah LOL SERIOUSLY? Youre soooo full of shit Mac
@ericd97 @mactuckah this explains a lot actually…
@mactuckah is a fucking loser cumdump @ericd97
The replies kept coming, blowing up my phone with every attachment of my Twitter handle, and I couldn’t stop staring. The ability to reply and defend myself, or make up a believable lie, completely escaped me. I was hoping that Mac would leave it at that. One ambiguous tweet, possibly a joke or possibly not, just to make me sweat. But he was Mac, so he didn’t. He just started replying and providing details of the six weeks we’d spent together in Puerto Rico. We’d both gone for the summer, me to visit family and him on vacation with his parents, and had hooked up not too long after realizing it. I’d gotten laid enough to feel like a heavyweight champion in fucking and to come to the firm conclusion that I definitely preferred guy parts to girl’s. It was like a gay coming of age novel now complete with abject betrayal.
Mackenzie Tucker was going to die.
My phone started to ring just after I chucked it across the room. It sailed into my closet, bounced off something, and landed on the carpet next to my desk. Either I was really bad throwing all of a sudden or the closet was rejecting the situation by rejecting the offending phone. I grabbed the phone and cringed when I saw Rosemarie’s picture flashing on the screen. The picture was a summation of her as a human; bleached blond hair braided in cornrows, a Knicks jersey, loads of eyeliner and shiny pink lips twisted in a comical grimace.
“Dude,” she said in greeting. “Are you looking at Twitter right now?”
“How could I not?” I’d like to think my voice didn’t sound shrill, but it did. “That kid is so fucking dead, Marie. Like destroyed. At the bottom of the East River.”
In the background, I could hear Marie’s little brother screaming about something and the bouncing of a ball. Normal sounds that didn’t involve life ruining and murder-suicides like the scenarios spinning in my brain.
“Wait, wait, wait. Wait— Daniel, stay out of the sprinkler!”
Marie started yelling at her brother, and I grimaced when her voice boomed into my ear. While she went on a rant about walking home in wet clothes to him, I hurried across the room to turn on my computer. It came to life with a whir of fans and I tapped my fingers against the desk impatiently, waiting for the stupid thing to start up fully. Mac could be saying anything. He could be uploading pictures as proof. Not for the first time did I regret allowing him to save so many pictures of me in his phone. Most of them were fairly innocent, but before the summer, I’d never really hung out with Mac. My classmates were a bunch of morons but they were good at making connections when it came to gossip. Especially gay gossip. McQueery High School was full of that shit and now I was just another statistic.
“This can’t be happening,”
“Well, it is. Is he full of crap or did you seriously spend the summer letting him touch the D?” When I didn’t respond, she sighed so explosively that I once again winced. “Man, you’re dumb.”
“He was there,” I said defensively. “And somehow in the month between June and the end of July, he grew like four inches and got really hot. What the hell was I supposed to do?”
“Not let him touch your dick, you idiot!”
“You don’t get it. You’re not a guy.”
“No. I don’t get it because I’m not a moron. Eric, this is what he does!”
I shut up and opened the Internet browser on my desktop. I had no defense and no good argument. I’d known it was stupid to go to his hotel, to watch porn with him, and to not pretend to be hetero-horrified when he got handsy.
“I can’t believe he’s doing this to me,” I said.
Twitter loaded on the computer and I stared at the tweets that spammed across the page. My classmates were bantering with Mac, some calling him a liar, but most egging him on and getting him to divulge more dirt. Even kids I was typically friendly with were encouraging him. It was like a Lifetime movie about cyber bullying. People were drawn to drama like sharks to blood, and they didn’t give a damn that I was the one being drawn under the waves. Marie didn’t say anything else and I wondered if she felt bad for me or if she was in fight or flight mode. We were both big into sports and traveled in the same group of friends but if I became a pariah, her standing would be affected too. McCleary High School wasn’t big on cliques, but Marie would defend me if people talked smack, and she’d get sucked into the drama.
“Maybe you should just stay away from me for awhile.”
Her voice sounded faraway and I realized she’d put me on speakerphone. I rubbed my temples and closed my eyes. The pounding in my head was getting more intense with each muffled ding of new tweets populating into the phone app. The masochistic urge to look was quickly overpowering the part of my brain that screamed at me to save my sanity.
“David is going to flip out on me.”
“Marie, be real. He tried to get a transfer out of the school and return to the motherland when he realized that the McQueery nickname wasn’t just some ironic joke. He’s going to bounce my ass from his friends list faster than Kendra.”
“Ha. Kendra. Now, there’s someone you should be worried about.”
It was true. Kendra was the anti-Marie. An extreme mean girl, aggressively hot in her collection of Urban Outfitters ensembles that made her look like a Jersey Shore hipster, and known to flash extra sets of sharpened teeth when you got on her bad side. And I’d dumped her right after we finished taking Regents exams in June. All of the dumping made me sound like a huge playboy, but self-preservation had played a key role in both. Kendra would have cheated on me all summer, likely with my own friends, and Mac would have blown up my gay spot at school if I’d tried to keep it discreet with him during the school year.
I was firmly convinced he was the reason for the influx of gay kids to our school in the past couple of years. He was Instagram famous and had helped spread the McCleary reputation for being extremely LBGTQ friendly. Queers from all parts of the rainbow had started to apply from every freaking borough in the city. It was a little out of control. But also a little awesome.
“I’m not going to school tomorrow.”
Marie’s little brother was whining in the background and I could hear the unmistakable Mister Softee jingle from the ice cream truck followed by the clank of loose change and his excited squeal. It made me want to cry. Childhood, man. Mine was fucking over.
“You have to go, Eric,” Marie said, her voice closer to the phone once again. “Stop being such a pussy. Take a stand. Tweet something, for god’s sake!”
“He’ll shoot down anything I say. He has photographic evidence that he was sweaty with me on a bed at some point.”
“That’s kind of hot.”
“Look—” Marie’s voice got serious again, like it used to when she was the captain of the co-ed soccer team and would stare at all of us with threatening, intensely serious, brown eyes. “Tweet something. Not directed at anyone. Just make it seem like you’re judging them for judging you. You’re cool. Above it and stuff. Not playing their game.”
“That’s actually smart.”
I had to smile. I didn’t know if it would work but it was better than wussing out and waiting for smug smirks tomorrow morning. Everyone thinking Mac had gotten me good, and they all knew my secret, and I was sitting in my bedroom cowering in shame. Just the idea made me square my shoulders, spine straightening until I was at my full 6″1′ height and totally prepared to stare down the blue and white window of Tweet hate.
My fingers flew over the keyboard and I clicked submit.
Sad when people make feeble attempts at payback and the sheep follow blindly. #smh #getalife #bringiton
I closed the browser without waiting for a reply.