(c) 2016, Christopher Hawthorne Moss
A FINE BROMANCE
By Christopher Hawthorne Moss
“You think you got a zit?”
Andy, who had been examining his chin in the boys’ restroom mirror, turned to see Robby at the sink next to him. “Hey, Robby, how ya doing? No, I just was checking to see if my beard is coming in yet.”
Robby chuckled. He rinsed his hands, reached for a paper towel, and asked, “Is it on your schedule for today?”
Realizing he’d said something that might lead to difficult questions, Andy reddened. “Uh, no, I do this every day.” He had been on testosterone injections for months now and expected them to result in some beard growth soon. But Robby didn’t know about him being on T, nor should he, so his answer might have seemed odd.
“Aren’t you kinda young for a beard?” Robby asked.
“I dunno. But I check. I do have some peach fuzz, and I shaved it so it will come in thicker.” Andy made a mental note to train his mouth not to drop these hints about his transition. All that time spent on Facebook FTM groups must have gotten him too used to sharing. After combing the Internet for other transgender kids, Andy had found a couple of sites, one for FTM—female to male—trans kids and adults. It wasn’t very active, but he’d found a few guys who gave him their own take on social relationships. On Facebook he found more sites for guys like him—in school, basically wondering about the same things he was, but they exhibited some of the confidence he wanted to mirror.
“Yeah, well, whatever. I can grow a beard, sort of, but I don’t want one. Not yet, anyway.” Robby flashed Andy a broad grin.
“So what’s the latest on your Aunt Ivy?” Andy asked as they walked toward the exit.
“It’s really weird. First she couldn’t find a medallion, then a deck of tarot cards went missing. I’m beginning to wonder if she has Alzheimer’s or something.”
“That sucks,” Andy replied as he reached to push the door open. “Ow!”
The swinging door flew toward him and made his wrist snap backward. Three boys came into the bathroom, shoving Andy and Robby back into it.
“Well, look who we have here!” said the lead boy, who had on a black T-shirt with the Black Veil Brides logo on it. His hair was shaved on one side and spiky on the other. He had a chain attached to one earring and then to a stud in his lip. In spite of his slovenly appearance, he was obviously well-off, his clothes and jewelry of high quality. His two companions, both attired as he was but not so expensively, flanked him. One wore shades, the other an openmouthed dull look.
“It’s the class freaks,” said the first boy.
Robby scowled. “What do you want, Bradley?” He turned to Andy. “Bradley—better known as Smartass—Grease, and Smack.”
The boy with the sunglasses, who was apparently Grease, shoved Andy hard in the shoulder. “Yeah, it’s the girl boy.”
“Or maybe it’s the boy girl,” Smack said, his dull expression not changing.
Andy eyed the boys cautiously, choosing not to engage them.
Smartass leveled his eyes on Robby. “You hangin’ out with the freak now?” he asked. “I know you got all manly muscle, but why you want to hang out with this trannie?”
Robby frowned at the three punks. “Leave him alone.”
The three boys looked at each other and crowed with laughter. “Him? Why you callin’ her ‘him’? Or don’t you know?” He looked to his friends. “Let’s show Robby what Andrea’s got!”
The three boys reached for Andy, one grabbing his jacket shoulder, another dragging his pack from his opposite shoulder, and Smartass reaching for his belt.
Andy watched as Robby stepped forward and shoved Smartass back against the swinging door. “I told you to leave him alone.”
The other two boys stepped back when their ringleader lost his grip on Andy’s belt. They glared at Robby.
“What do you want with him, anyway? What’s he ever done to you?” Robby stood with his hands on his hips, glaring at all three.
Smartass had some trouble regaining his balance as he hit the swinging door and almost fell backward through it. He righted himself and stood facing Robby and Andy with a sneer. “Guess your girlfriend hasn’t shown you her pussy yet.”
The door came swinging in, hitting Smartass on the back. Mr. Monroe, the gym coach, stood in the doorway. He was wearing shorts, as usual, his field jacket, a baseball cap with a H on it, and athletic shoes and socks. His hair could hardly be seen under the cap, it was so short and slate gray, contrasting with his dark skin. “What’s going on in here?” he demanded. “Oh, it’s you, Bradley.” He glanced over and saw Andy, who was looking away.
Monroe asked, “He harassing you, Kahn?”
Robby answered “Yeah” just as Andy said “No big deal.”
“What?” Robby asked incredulously. “The asshole was just about to pants you.”
“It’s nothing,” Andy said in an irritated voice. “Just drop it.”
Robby stared at him. “Why are you letting this jerk do this?”
“Just drop it,” Andy pleaded, his voice going up in pitch. He cleared his throat. “It’s nothing, Mr. Monroe,” he said in his normal voice. “Just messin’ around.”
“You sure about this?” he asked Andy.
“Yeah,” Andy said, still not meeting anyone’s eyes.
Mr. Monroe turned to the three ruffians and said in a stern voice, “This school has a no-bullying policy. You know that.”
The three boys stood with their arms at their sides, their eyes round and hurt, but with smiles tugging at the edges of their lips. “We weren’t doin’ nothin’, Mr. Monroe. Honest.” Smartass looked for confirmation from his confederates.
The other two boys chimed in.
“We weren’t bullying the little….”
Andy looked up, angry and hurt, when the boy called Grease let the comment fall away without adding some insulting word. “Let’s go, Robby.”
Robby looked at him and nodded. They walked around the gym teacher and pushed through the door, leaving the three bullies alone with the coach.
They walked down the corridor several feet before either spoke. Finally Robby said, “What the hell was that all about?”
Andy stopped in his tracks and glared at Robby, who stopped and faced him. “I said it was nothing!”
Robby backed up with his unencumbered arm raised in a “whoa” position. “Okay, man, I’ll drop it. But you gotta admit that was weird.”
Andy dropped his chin to his chest. “I wish you’d just forget about it. It wasn’t anything. They were just mouthin’ off.”
… continued …
This is an EXCERPT from Christopher’s latest YA novel, A Fine Bromance, which is published by
Harmony Ink Press.
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