Mark’s eyes flutter slowly like a wounded moth. A throbbing force threatens to shatter his skull. Sharp pain engulfs his bowels. All that is visible is a darkness which cloaks the truth. As the linebacker for his college football team, Mark is well accustomed to physical discomfort. Sprained ankles and dislocated shoulders barely faze him. He thrives on adrenaline, performing best under pressure. “Fight through the pain, boys. Don’t be a bitch,” Coach would always say. But this—this is different. It’s isolated. It’s deep.
His pupils dilate with the passage of each second until finally he can see an X-Box console below a plasma screen. To the right, on a dresser, he can make out the outline of a canister of Axe body spray, its scent tainting the room. Mark struggles to inhale oxygen through its burning mist. Crumpled on the floor are denim jeans, as wholesome and well loved as the boy who wore them.
Just as his eyes begin to discern a Megan Fox poster, Mark feels something wet, firm, and hairy press into him. He realizes he is naked and that beside him lies an unclothed man. How could such an encounter arise? Two naked men in a bed. Such erotica transgresses his God-given design. What’s worse, he was on the receiving end: the bitch. He is disgusted—no infuriated. This can’t be real. Never would he allow such an atrocity to occur. He is after all a star jock; a beloved athlete; an all American boy with golden charm and Christian morals. No. What he is experiencing is simply a sick nightmare, a trick devised by Satan to test his unshakable strength.
A strong arm pulls him in closer to a chest ridged with muscle. Fighting through the searing fog, Mark jerks upright before heaving onto the soft sheets covering him. Convulsing, he stares into the puddle of sick before him. The man beside him wraps Mark in a snug blanket before cleaning the mess. His eyes fully adjusted, Mark recognizes the square jaw, the un-groomed brows, and the golden hair. But more striking than these masculine features is the solid gold crucifix worn by none other than Jacob—his best friend, his dorm mate, and—he dare not think it.
“Hey dude, are you okay?” asks Jacob. How dare Jacob look at him with those pleading eyes which so convincingly convey concern. How dare he pretend to care.
“Screw you.” Jacob grabs Mark’s gladiatorial arms. Mark jerks away, contempt pulling the handsome corners of his mouth into a foul grimace.
“Seriously, what’s wrong?” Eyes wet and wide, Jacob faces his friend. Hot blood rises to the surface of his cheeks, coloring them scarlet.
“What do you think, asshole?”
“Come on, man. Don’t make this any weirder than it already is.”
“‘Come on, man?’ Are you kidding me?” Mark rises from the bed. The blanket drops to the floor.
“You know you wanted it. Don’t get all defensive on me now. This isn’t football. Remember—I’m on your team.”
“I don’t remember anything from tonight.” Eyes locked, Mark concentrates on Megan’s juicy breasts, refusing to let his eyes stray toward the traitor.
“I don’t know, man. You drank some, but not that much. Just chill okay. What can I do to make you feel better?”
“You can stay the hell away from me,” says Mark. Jacob joins him in front of the poster.
“You don’t mean that,” Jacob whispers, resting his head on Mark’s shoulder.
“The hell I don’t. You touch me again and I’ll—”
“What? Tell me.” Mark feels Jacob’s warm breath caress his neck. Paralyzed, he remains firmly in position.
“I hate you,” Mark responds, his voice strangled and dry. Jacob walks back to bed, picking up the discarded blanket on his way. Sitting Indian style on the mattress, he fluffs a pillow which he strategically places on Mark’s side of the bed.
“Goodnight, Mark. Get some sleep. Gotta be ready for the big game tomorrow, you know.”
Mark trudges back to bed, not uttering a word. He climbs in, his face toward the wall. Jacob pulls the covers up over them both. Even in the darkness, Mark sees Megan taunt him with her raven hair and too tight shirt: the poster just another defense in the one game he can never win.
~~ ~~ ~~