"Hey! Wait up!" I said, trying hard to catch up to Colin as he practically raced down the library steps. Jesus, I never would have thought his skinny little Froshman legs could move that fast without him tripping over his own feet and tumbling into the freakin' street!
I was literally huffing and puffing for additional oxygen when I was close enough to put a hand on his shoulder. He said, "I've really got to get home. I shouldn't have been goofing around for so long. I've still got a pretty heavy walk ahead of me, so...."
"That's ok. The rest of my day is totally free. I can walk with you. I mean, if you don't mind, that is."
I don't know what he was holding back from me, but I'm assuming it was some sort of a polite rejection that would continue to keep me at a distance. Not even an 'arm's length' kind of distance. This was more like pushing me way WAY back with a 50 foot long jousting pole! Why? What was the matter? Did I say something? Do something wrong? The look in his eyes alone made me feel like some creepy demon clown in the bushes at the park, offering frightened children rides in my van of horrors. What could I have possibly done to make him so scared of me?
But...unable to create an excuse that would allow him to say 'no' and still keep his sweeter than sweet disposition, he hesitantly said, "Ok...I guess." Then he said, "It's a really long way, though. Like...really long."
I smiled, "That's fine. It'll give us more time to talk." I wasn't going to let him run away from me this time. I wanted to be given the chance to prove that I can be a good guy. I at least wanted him to learn to trust me enough to keep from running off in the other direction whenever he saw me coming. I'm not SATAN, for crying out loud!
Colin thought it over for a second, and then he was like, "...Ok." But it's not like I was going to give him much of a choice this time around. He might as well just relax and enjoy my company for just a little bit longer.
I think his silence was initially meant to discourage me from engaging him in any further conversation on this extended journey home of his, but I was going to talk away anyway, whether he answered me or not. In fact, I was almost daring him not to. Something tells me that he was raised with too many lessons in 'good manners' to just let me ramble on at his side without offering the occasional response. So I made a game out of it. Hell, if I'm lucky...I might even get him to share a genuine smile a few times between the library and his house. Anything's possible, right?
"So, I noticed you had a Batman logo on the outside of your notebook. Is he your favorite?" I asked.
He really didn't have to answer me. I knew that. But after a few steps, he felt like he was being ill-mannered by not at least making an effort to. Hehehe, his obligation was the only weapon I had in my arsenal at this point. At least until he felt more comfortable talking to me on his own. "Sort of. Yeah. I guess. Well...not the ONLY favorite, but...sort of..."
"So you like the darker stuff, huh?"
"Yeah." He said. We kept walking. I thought that I might have to come up with another question, but it seemed like he wanted to say more about it. He was reluctant, but his passion for the subject compelled him to speak. "It's Batman's villains. That's why I like the overall story so much. No matter what, the whole comic book series is about Batman fighting his own demons. It's a self conflict. I guess I just find that really interesting."
"But he's fighting other people, right? I mean, he doesn't have any super powers or anything."
"That's what I like about him." Colin said. "He doesn't need them. He's vulnerable, but he's strong anyway. It's like...his only real enemy is himself. You know?"
Wow...I can't believe that I got him talking. Ok, this is cool! "How so?" I asked.
"Well...all of Batman's villains are like...other versions of him, just taken to an extreme. They exist as warnings for what he could become if he ever went too far over the edge." Colin looked over at me to see if I was still paying attention. I think he was surprised to see a certain level of awe in my eyes from hearing him say that. So he kept going. "Like...Batman dresses up like he does to inspire fear in his enemies and get an advantage. Well, The Scarecrow uses fear as a weapon, but he goes too far. His reasoning is evil, his methods and logic are tainted with madness. They're two sides of the same coin. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire businessman, but so is the Penguin. But the Penguin is what Bruce Wayne could become if he lost his morals and just decided to be as corrupt as everyone else. The Joker's insanity, Clayface's identity issues, Riddler's detective and puzzle solving abilities, they're all a part of who Batman is, just thrown out of control. Therefore, no matter what, he's always fighting himself. Even if he doesn't know it." That's when a slightly pained expression appeared on Colin's face, and he asked, "Does that make any sense. It's ok if it doesn't."
I was at a loss for words for a moment, but then managed to say, "Yeah. Actually, that makes a lot of sense. Maybe I should read more Batman comic books."
Colin examined my expression to see if I was being sincere or not. As if he expected me to be taking a subliminal jab at his personal hobby and hiding it behind a sarcastic grin. But when I smiled at him, he couldn't help but to smile back at me with a gentle sigh of relief. He turned his head to hide his joy from me, but when I asked him what was up, he giggled and said, "Nothing. I'm just...I'm surprised that..." He smiled at me again, and a little blush darkened his cheeks. "...Most people don't have any idea what I'm talking about when I say stuff like that. That's all. I can't help it. I'm a big geek anyways..."
"Stop saying stuff like that! I honestly just never thought about it that way before. I think it's cool that you're passionate about something that you enjoy. It's..." I almost stopped myself, but why? Just go for it, right? "...It's kind of cute, honestly."
I don't think I've ever seen a smile vanish so quickly from a boy's face before.
Instantly, Colin's whole demeanor changed into something MUCH more defensive. It couldn't have been more obvious if an actual iron door had slammed down to the concrete between us as we were walking, side by side. I've never experienced such a cold shoulder from him before. Yikes! Okaaaaay....so maybe I shouldn't compliment him. Like...ever again. Hint taken. Geez!
Colin attempted to straighten up, ignoring the comment altogether. "There's lighthearted stuff too. I mean, I like dark characters, but I like a lot of things. Like, you can't deny the ultimate irony of Captain America, right? And he's a total boy scout in comparison."
"Irony? I didn't know there was any." I figured I'd just follow his line of conversation instead of scaring him off with anything improvised to keep him close. Besides, he likes talking comic books. That was his thing. He gets the cutest little glimmer in his eye when he's dispensing information like that, you know?
"Well, you gotta figure...it's World War II, right? Hitler is this great big menace, and he wants to use science to create this race of big, strong, blond haired, blue eyed, supermen to turn into soldiers to take over the world." He grinned. "So, what's America's big plan to take down the ultimate evil? For us to use science to create a big, strong, blond haired, blue eyed, super soldier to go over there and screw everything up! It's like...our main objective was to beat him to the punch, so to speak. Hehehe! You can't deny that it's the American way. 'Beat this country to the Moon', 'Beat that country to the atomic bomb'...whatever." Again, he searches my smile for any imperfections that would make him think that I was losing interest. "Anyway...I always kinda liked that. But that's just me. I think about this stuff way too much, I guess."
"Not if it makes you smile, you don't." I wish he would look me in the eye more often. I wish that I had a way to broadcast a bit more interest to him, even beyond this friendly conversation of ours. But I'm pretty sure that he was avoiding being close to me on purpose.
In fact, I think he was evading my eye contact altogether.
Colin wasn't kidding about it being a super long walk back to his house. But I didn't feel any sense of fatigue at all from taking the stroll with him. Even if he wasn't as talkative as I was hoping he'd be. I just...I wanted to 'be' with him, you know? Maybe we weren't all that emotionally attached, and maybe there was an unfair balance between him talking to me and me being able to answer him...but there was something special about Colin that nobody else in my life could match. Something intriguing. Something alluring. Something sexy. Something that...just felt like it was mine, you know? All mine. And I didn't want to share it with anybody else. I just felt like Colin was the one and only person in existence who could truly make me feel this way without any effort at all. He was my light, and my truth. And I couldn't, for the LIFE of me, understand why!
But feelings very rarely ask our 'permission' when it comes to feeling much of anything. And sometimes, that complete loss of control seems terrifying. In this case...it just feels like FUN!
"Well, I have to admit that I'm surprised you made it this far without asking, 'are we there yet'?" Colin giggled as we approached his house. It was the kind of quaint, freshly painted, house that I would have expected from a suburban cutie like Colin. With bright green grass on the front lawn, freshly cut, and a driveway swept clean of any and all debris. I assume these would be Colin's weekly chores around the house. Ones that he did without question. It's just the sort of boy that he was. At least in my eyes.
"I guess I just enjoyed the company." I said. It was automatic. I should have stifled the compliment. He doesn't seem to respond to those well. It makes him shrivel up into an impenetrable shell and refuse me any further access at all. That's the exact opposite of what I wanted today.
"I'll see you around, k?" He said. And then he started waling away from me again. GOD, was he ever fast when he was planning a swift escape!
"Well...Colin, WAIT!!!" I said. What the HELL???
"Dude...just...I mean, where are you running off to so fast?"
"I have to go, Russ. Honestly. It was fun today, ok? I just..."
"Why don't we hang out some time?" I said, totally out of the blue. "This week some time? You and me. After school. Let's go do something. " I said.
Again, he gave me the most suspicious look in the world. If it wasn't mixed with his usual bashful boy aura, it might have even come off as insulting. But he just...he kept trying to be nice. "I don't know. I mean, don't you already have stuff to do on the weekends?"
With a grin, I shook my head. "Nope. Not unless you come along and decide to change that up for me." I said. "I'll have a fun story to tell in school the next day. What do you say?"
I was trying to come off as fun and friendly and maybe even a little bit flirty with my request. But...Colin took a moment to look down in the dirt...and he seemed almost hurt by my invitation.
"Oh. I get it..." He said.
It confused me. "Get what? What do you mean?"
His sweet lips now bending into a pouty frown, Colin said, "Is this a joke? Like...like a prank or something?"
"Colin...what do you...?"
"Is this something you guys do to lower classmen at school? Like...I go someplace with you, and you have a big trap waiting to humiliate me or something? Is that it?" He said.
"No! Dude, what are you talking about? What would make you even think that? I just want us to hang out some time." I said.
"Why?" He asked abruptly. The question caught me off guard, seeing as I never had to explain why I wanted to spend time with someone before. So he asked again. "Why, Russ? Why hang out with me? You barely know me at all."
"Well, that's the whole point, isn't it? To get to know you?" I smiled, but he didn't return the sentiment.
"You don't have to be nice to me, you know? I mean...I'm fine all by myself. If that's what you're getting at?"
"Again with the 'getting at'...I swear..." I mumbled to myself. "There's no trap, Colin. Ok? No sinister plans, no humiliating pranks, no being the main course at a cannibal buffet either. I JUST want to hang out some more. I think you're cool, alright. It's nice to be able to really talk to somebody. That's all." I don't think Colin felt all that comfortable with letting his guard down. Instead, he tried to make just enough eye contact to detect a lie if there was one. Why can't he trust me? Why? He was quiet at first, and even though it hurt to say it, I told him, "It's ok if you're not interested. You can say 'no' if you want. Just....tell me something..."
"I didn't say no..." He whined softly.
I waited for an answer. But the longer I waited for him to speak, the more he seemed to intensify his distrust of me and my intentions. Honestly, this wasn't a sweet and playful little game anymore. This was beginning to 'sting' a little bit now.
Defeated, I said, "You know what? Forget it. I'm sorry I asked." I didn't want to be mean, but it hurt. I have to admit that. It actually hurt. "I'll see in you school on Monday..."
I turned to walk away and start the super long journey back home. That's when I heard the slightest little squeak in Colin's voice as he said, "I didn't say no, ok?" But that hardly seemed like much of a consolation prize. I waved to him, pretending that there were no hard feelings, and just kept walking. That's when I heard some footsteps hurrying to catch up to me from behind. And Colin said, "OK! Ok...I'll...I can hang out. Maybe on Wednesday, or something?" I couldn't tell if he was making an actual attempt to push his suspicions aside, or if he just felt forced to accept.
"Colin, I'm not trying to bully you into it, alright..."
"No. I know. I do. I just...I bruise easy sometimes." He said timidly. "Nevermind, I'm...I'm sorry, ok? I like that idea. We can go do...whatever."
"Are you sure?" I asked.
He nodded with the most adorable little grin. "Yeah. I want to. It'll be cool."
"Good." I said. "Because I'm bringing the dastardly villain, 'Scaredy Cat Man', with me to set you up for your ultimate doom. He's another version of you, just taken to the extreme." I said, and Colin giggled boyishly as his cheeks turned red again.
"You really were paying attention..." He sighed.
"Yeah. I was." Our eyes met for a moment, but he was quick to keep the contact from lingering.
"I guess I should bring 'Asshole Man' for you to battle then, huh?" He snickered, but was fast to tell me, "Just kidding. Seriously." I think it did him some good to make me laugh, and when his awkwardness had hit its peak, he began to back his way down the sidewalk again. "Bye, Russ..." He said, and then I saw him rush to hurry inside.
He was so damn QUICK to run away from me! I sort of raised my hand and said, "Ok...well...um, Bye Col..." But he was already gone. The front door slammed shut and I was left standing there all by myself. Hehehe, just a taste. That's all he gave me. Enough to entice me, get me all hot and bothered...and then 'poof'. He was gone again.
God, I wanted more. SO much more! But what was I going to do? I can't force him to talk to me. I can't just tell him to 'not be scared' or made uneasy by my very presence. I was so close and yet so far. I couldn't connect. I couldn't get him to meet me halfway. And that sucked in a lot of ways but...the thrill? Ohhhhh, the thrill of their being more left me giddy with excitement. To think that I was SO impressed with Colin at this very moment, and he hadn't even allowed me access to the most amazing parts of his personality yet...it made me swoon to the point where it was almost hard to stand.
Imagine how head over heels I would be for this boy if he ever relaxed and just...gave me a shot. I doubt I'd be able to survive the overwhelming bliss of it all. I really do.
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