The sun had long set behind the mountains of the town of Glacier Bay. The moon bathed the town in a soft light with a backdrop of twinkling stars in the October sky. The trees gently swayed in the offshore breeze that hinted at the bone chilling weather that was to come but for now, the air was crisp and refreshing. The leaves had changed giving the streets and parks a colorful facelift that brought in visitors from all around. The last influx of outsiders bringing their pocketbooks before the long winter brought snow and ice and all the winter games along with it. Some folks said that winter was gods way of testing the human spirit. Much like the grass and trees, humans tended to go into a hibernation mode throughout the winter. Surviving on the nutrients they had gathered in the spring and summer to get them through the harsh starving months of winter. The world seemed a bit sadder in the winter months, most of the habitants of Glacier Bay walked with their head down, their faces covered by scarves and bundled up in colorful hats, gloves, and bulky winter coats. In the summer, they would wave and shout out to their neighbors, most times stopping for moment to ask about families and goings on. But with the onset of winter, one was lucky to get a polite wave as they rushed by seeking indoors over the blistering cold.
On this particular night, Scott Taylor was staring out at the glacier that gave the town its name. The glacier, brightly lit by the moon, reflected across the bay giving off the illusion the water was ice, calm and still. This illusion was ruined every few minutes when a gentle wave would crash into the bottom of the glacier echoing off the mountainside.
Scott tucked his long blonde hair behind his ears and looked towards the town he had lived in all his life. Glacier Bay, nestled at the base of a range of mountains that almost saw snow on the peaks all year round. The glacier snaked its way down the mountain until it spilled out in the bay that was protected by a natural seawall. When the town was first settled in the late 1800’s, the townsfolk had carved a deep channel for boats to enter the bay safely in the natural wall. This was once upon time to protect the fishing vessels that were moored at the docks during the winter months. Nowadays there was not much commercial fishing anymore. All the boats moored at the dock were built more for pleasure and unused for most of the year except when their rich owners could get away from the city for a few short weeks and enjoy all the town had to offer. Many local boys like Scott, made really good money taking care of the boats for their absentee owners throughout the year as well as maintaining the carefully manicured lawns and removing the snow from their vacation homes throughout the year. It always amazed Scott how much someone was willing to pay to keep a house they would visit once or twice a year. It seemed like a waste of money that could be better spent in other ways. But Scott was never one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
As he peered across the bay, he eyes drifted to the lighthouse. There was no need for a lighthouse since the 1950’s and it had long been turned into a tourist destination with daily tours during the summer months. A small gift shop in the base of the lighthouse offered those who had the need to buy souvenirs and keepsakes to remember their trip to Glacier Bay. It had been closed for weeks now, abandoned until the spring. Too many things in Glacier Bay seemed to be dormant for his liking.
Scott glanced at his watch and wondered again what was keeping his friend. His eyes drifted back to the high school. Thirty minute ago the lights had all but been turned off, signaling the end of the play and the participants headed home for the night. Even if there was traffic leaving the parking lot, his friend should have arrived twenty minutes ago. He pulled his coat around him tighter, it wasn’t that cold yet. But sitting still on a bench for almost an hour had caused a chill to sink into his bones.
For the hundredth time, he checked his phone to see if there were any texts. Since he had arrived, his sister had texted him three times about the ending of the play, his mom wanted to know what he was doing Saturday night and if he was free for dinner. And a few more from random friends, but there was nothing from Jake. Silent; much like the last week had been. The old saying was true; you almost never miss what you have until it is no longer there. And after a week of silence from his closest friend, he found that he missed him terribly.
Scott reached into his pocket and pulled out his cigarettes. It was definitely a habit he was trying to quit but the craving was always worse when he was bored. He hadn’t so much taken his first drag when he heard footsteps on the gravel walkway below. Jake must have ridden his bike, otherwise he would have seen the headlights of his car as he drove around the lake.
Though the moon was bright and the sky was clear, he couldn’t make out the face of the figure as it approached him. But he would have known that shape anywhere. He had seen that shape for eighteen years. He peered intently as the boy walked towards him. Once he was close enough to see, Scott could see his face was drawn, his eyes intent as he looked at the ground. His hands were shoved in his pockets and his breath steamed in the night with every exhale. He had ridden his bike.
Jacob Rainer, his next door neighbor for most of his life. The one person that knew every secret, every prank, everything he had ever done in his life. They were together when Scott got the bright idea to jump off the roof with sheets tied around their necks; they were also together when Scott convinced his friend that crossing the bay in old man Thomas’s row boat was a good idea at 2am in the middle of winter. From the time they could walk, they had been inseparable.
The two boys, both eighteen and heading into their final year of school, could not have been more different. Neither in looks nor in personality. Jake was average size, short cropped brown hair, and always seemed to ponder each decision carefully before acting. He was well liked by his peers and received mostly A’ and B’s in all of his classes. Being the middle child, at home he would disappear as his younger sister seemed to garnish all the attention and his older brother couldn’t keep from arguing with his parents about everything. Everyone who knew him would testify that out of all the kids, he was going to be the one that made it and made it in a big way.
Scott took another drag from his cigarette and waited for his friend to sit down next to him on the bench. But that did not stop him from looking at his friend with an expectant look on his face.
Jake moved his hand in front of his face, trying to avoid the cigarette smoke that lingered around Scott’s head like a halo. “I really wish you’d quit those.”
Scott shrugged, “Everyone needs a bad habit.”
Jake settled back into the bench, and stretched his legs out in front of him. “Nice night. Won’t be long until winter arrives though. I can smell the snow in the air.”
Scott threw the cigarette on the ground and stamped it out with his foot. “It is almost November. Hell, Halloween is just around the corner.”
Jake looked at his friend sideways. “What are you going as this year?”
Scott turned his head and looked at his friend, “Are we really doing this? Small talk, like you haven’t said a word to me in a week, and you want to know what I’m dressing for Halloween.”
Jake ignored the outburst, something he did often. “I’m going as a father,” he said quietly.
Scott’s eyes widened at the declaration. “Well shit.”
Jake stared at the ground, not wanting to make eye contact with Scott. Instead he dug his toe around in the dirt. “Remember the fall dance at the club back in August.”
Scott couldn’t help but chuckle as he remembered that night. That was the night he dumped two bottles of whiskey in the punch, one hour before he puked on Mrs. Turners shoes. As much trouble as he received for ruining her shoes, it would have been worse if they would have known he was the culprit that spiked the punch. “What about it?”
“Christine and I…”
“Christine?” Scott interrupted. “Blankenship.”
“Remember, Becky and I got into that fight. She was mad at you for spiking the punch,” Jake explained. “Becky went home with Julie and Christine was pretty drunk, so I offered to give her a ride.”
“Yeah you did,” Scott said, laughing.
Jake stood up, and spat out angrily, “This is why I can’t talk to you sometimes. Not everything is a joke.”
Scott stared up at his friend for a moment. Then he said in a quiet tone, “You’re serious.”
“I’m gonna be a father Scott. And I’m scared shitless.” Jake stated before turning around to face the glacier.
“Wait a minute,” Scott said, shaking his head. “You slept with Christine the night of the dance and didn’t tell me?”
Jake glared at his friend. “Not everything is about you. And no, I didn’t.”
Scott pulled out another cigarette. “Okay, lets start at the beginning.”
Jake rubbed his eyes tiredly. “Christine was hammered that night. I would never take advantage of someone like that. But she was all over me, and managed to kiss me before I kicked her out of the car.”
Jake sat back down next to his friend and grabbed the cigarette and took a long drag before exhaling the smoke upwards. “That’s how you do it. Not in your friends face.”
“Rodger,” Scott said with a grin. “Continue.”
“Becky and I were having problems. She was so worried about what would happen at the end of the year when we go off to college. It was so frustrating, I mean, why couldn’t we just be happy now, and worry about next year, next year.” Jake stated with a sigh.
“A few days later, Christine showed up at work, being all flirty. Wondering if I wanted to get coffee after I was finished. It was nice, hanging out with her, just being in the moment, not worried about college, and how many kids we needed to have, where we were going to live, you know. Just two people enjoying each other.”
Jake stopped for a moment and eyeing the cigarette before taking it again. “So we hung out off and on for the next few weeks. And I swear, nothing happened. We were just talking.”
“When did Becky find out?” Scott asked as he lit up another cigarette.
Jake took a another drag, looked at the cigarette in his fingers, and threw it on the ground. He stated with a frown, “You sure seem to smoke a lot nowadays.”
“What can I say, I’m an addict.”
“Three weeks ago, Becky saw us at the coffee shop, she went crazy. She wouldn’t let me explain, she started accusing me of cheating on her with her best friend, calling us all sorts of names. It was in the middle of the coffee shop. I’m surprised you didn’t hear about it.”
Scott shrugged. “I’ve been busy.”
“That was the night it happened. Right over there,” Jake gestured at the end of the walkway. He grabbed the cigarette again and took a long drag.
“Look Jake, I don’t mind if you smoke my cigarettes but you have to stop putting them out after one drag, their expensive,” Scott said with a frown. “Are you sure she’s pregnant?”
“She was pretty sure after a week because she missed her period. Three tests later, and I’m gonna be a father,” Jake sighed. “At eighteen, just like my father.”
“That’s heavy,” Scott stated with a grimace.
“And the really messed up thing,” Jake said quietly. “I don’t love her. I love Becky.”
“Does she know?”
Jake shook his head. “No one knows. Just Christine, me, and now you. Not even her parents.”
“No wonder you’ve been avoiding me all week,” Scott said, his eyes wide in disbelief.
Jake stared off into the distance as he said, “I told her. That I didn’t love her and that I wanted to be with Becky.”
“How did she take that?”
“She just starting crying,” Jake said, rubbing his hands through his hair. “I can’t seem to do anything right lately.”
“There is one thing you did perfectly,” Scott blurted out.
Jake stared at him flatly. “Don’t be an ass.”
“I’m just saying maybe you should’ve tried for that ass and you wouldn’t be in this situation.”
Jake couldn’t help but chuckle. “I’m not a pervert like you.”
Scott laughed. “I’m not a pervert anymore; it’s legal now in almost all fifty states. We can get married and everything.”
Jake shoved his friend playfully. “What you do I wouldn’t call it legal in any state.”
“They have all been consensual,” Scott said, pausing before adding with a grin, “except that one time but we won’t talk about him. He deserved what he got anyway.”
“Gross,” Jake stated dryly. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Is she going to keep it?” Scott asked carefully.
“I’m not sure. I didn’t know how to bring that up. Fuck, I already told her I don’t want to be with her, I didn’t think asking about abortion was appropriate.” Jake admitted. “I’m such an asshole aren’t I.”
“Best thing to do is talk to your dad.” Scott offered.
“He’s going to kill me,” Jake said with a frown. “He always told me not to do what he did.”
“Look on the bright side,” Scott stated as he stood up. “You didn’t, you’re not going to marry the girl you knocked up.”
“Oh, you are so dead,” Jake snorted and started chasing his friend who had starting running towards his truck parked in the lot down the path.
“You could never catch me slowpoke,” Scott called out over his shoulder before really turning on the speed. His long legs made running seem effortlessly, and he had been running his entire life. On his best day, Jake couldn’t keep up with him unless he slowed to a jog and this time was no different.
By the time Jake caught up to him, he was leaning against his truck and the motor was already warming up. He did notice that Jake’s bike was already in the bed of his blue pick-up. Riding out to the glacier in the middle of the night might be fun but no one wanted to make the long ride back.
Jake half-jogged the last ten yards, his chest heaving as he took large gasps of air. He held his side and winced. “I don’t know how you run that fast and still smoke that many cigarettes.”
“Genetics,” Scott said with a smile. He smoothed down his long blonde hair and jumped in the truck. “Get in before you fall over.”
“I was built for short bursts,” Jake explained as he climbed inside the 4X4 truck with a grunt. “I’m much better on the wrestling floor.”
Scott turned on the heat full blast as he spoke, “And yet, oddly enough, I turned out to be the gay one.”
“That is true. I’ve probably had my face in more boy crotches than you have. If I’m not gay by now, I’ll never be,” Jake said proudly.
“You are one of the few on the wrestling team that could honestly say that,” Scott said, moving his eyebrows up and down suggestively.
“Those are my teammates, I don’t want to hear about what they might do with you behind closed doors,” Jake complained half-heartedly.
Scott laughed, loud and deep. “Remember that time we went to that away game in Hillersville, now that was a wrestler that knew which end of a boy was what.”
For the rest of the ride back to town, Scott told one outlandish tale after another about his many conquests and crazy exploits. Like most boys do of a certain age, there was a large amount of exaggeration and all out lies. Jake knew that Scott was far from being a virgin, and he did have a more active sex life than most boys in the school ever dared dream. Most times he just hoped that most of Scott’s stories were fanciful tales designed to get a rise out of his listeners.
Scott was well known around the school at having the weirdest sense of humor. No matter what the circumstance, he could always be counted on to say the most offensive thing at any given time. It was something that Jake actually respected him for. It took a very confident person to say whatever and not care what everyone else thought. Scott truly marched to a different drum than anyone else. He was never sure which boy was the good influence on the other. All he knew, Scott was someone he could count on to always be there. No matter what.
For his part, Scott was at a complete loss of words. He couldn’t even begin to understand what his friend was going through. So he did the only thing he could do, try to take Jake’s mind off his problem, even if it was only for twenty minutes on the ride home.
Jake was almost smiling by the time the blue truck pulled up to 803 Campus Circle at 11:53pm. Scott put the truck in park and stared ahead. “Talk to your dad.”
“I’d rather talk to your dad,” Jake stated with a grin.
Scott laughed again. “He’d be so happy to talk about sex with girls with someone. You’d make his day.”
“How’s he been the last few weeks?” Jake asked, looking at his friend intently.
“He’s getting use to it,” Scott said with a shrug. “Mom said it was okay for me to come to dinner tomorrow night. So that’s a good thing.”
Jake reached over and put his hand on Scott’s arm. “Look Scott, I’m sorry I’ve been so distant lately. It’s not because…you’re gay. I don’t care about that. And truthfully, I kind of always suspected.”
“Really?” Scott asked. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Jake countered.
Scott turned his head for a moment and looked out the drivers window. “I guess I was scared.”
Scott turned to face his friend. “I think I knew that you wouldn’t care, deep down. But I didn’t want to lose you. You are one of the most important things in my life. And I was scared to take a chance that you wouldn’t accept me. Or worse.”
“Or worse?” Jake asked.
“Like, if you thought I was hitting on you on those times we would wrestle around. Or the showers, or sleeping together,” Scott said honestly.
Jake made a face and said quickly, “That’s gross.”
Scott’s eyes widened as Jake continued thoughtfully, “One of the reasons I always thought you were gay was when we wrestled and you’d get a boner.”
“I so did not,” Scott denied laughing.
Jake laughed, for the first time that night, a deep belly laugh. “Exactly my point. You are more like my brother than my own brother.”
Scott stated through his laughter, “Truth.”
“I didn’t know what to say about this Christine thing, I was avoiding you because it’s got my head all twisted,” Jake admitted. “But I realized that you might think it was because you came out. And it’s not. Honest.”
Scott sighed. “Thank you. I will admit I was wondering if that was it. It was weird not being able to talk to you about this stuff.”
“Hey, you can always talk to me, I might not understand it all, but I’ll listen,” Jake said with a small grin.
“Thanks. And you’re not worried what everyone will say at school about you,” Scott asked. He had already heard some of the things that have been said. For the time being, nothing had been said to his face but he figured it was just a matter of time.
Jake laughed again. “Scott, I don’t know how to tell you this, but I wasn’t the only one that suspected.”
Scott was truly stunned. “Really.”
“Becky and even Julie told me that years ago. Mike mentioned it in passing,” Jake said through his laughter. “I think everyone knew and probably no one really cares.”
“Well shit, I could’ve saved all that stress,” Scott said thoughtfully. “If only my father would’ve suspected.”
“He’ll come around,” Jake said confidently. “He just always wanted a grandson.”
“Well, maybe he can adopt Christine’s baby,” Scott snorted out, not being able to stop himself.
“You really are an asshole,” Jake said, shaking his head. “Really, a big asshole.”
“You could come over and visit him, bring him presents,” Scott said more enthusiastically, gesturing wildly. “Take naps with me in my bed.”
“Just keep laughing,” Jake warned, but the corner of his mouth was curling up in a grin. “Though, you are a great napping partner. You like to cuddle.”
“One time,” Scott admonished.
“Best nap I ever had,” Jake said laughing. “That’s when you’re father should’ve suspected. When he walked in on us that day, you had even drooled a bit on my shoulder.”
“You’re laughing now,” Scott replied. “But Mom asked me if you were my boyfriend.”
Jake stopped laughing and asked, “Seriously? What did you say?”
Scott put his hands behind his head and said, “I told her it wasn’t my place to out other people and if she wanted to know she should ask you.”
Jake smacked him right in the stomach, hard. Scott made a sound, and grabbed his stomach, though he didn’t stop laughing. “It doesn’t help that you stopped coming around these last few weeks. No telling what they are thinking.”
“Well, I can bet they aren’t thinking I got some girl pregnant,” Jake said wistfully.
“No, can’t say that they are,” Scott agreed. “Anything you need, just ask.”
“Thanks. But it’s time for me to go inside,” Jake stated as he stared at his darkened house, a lone porch light shining a light on the walkway. “I’ll see you.”
Jake opened the door and headed towards the front of the house. Scott stared at him until he disappeared inside and the door closed. Scott checked his phone and read a text that brought a grin to his face. He replied, “I’m on my way.”
He started up his truck and headed across town whistling. He had wanted to tell Jake about the reason he came out but didn’t think it was the right time. Not when Jake was worried about being a father to a girl he didn’t want to be with. Not to mention that when Becky found out she would probably break up with him. No seventeen year old girl wants to be a girlfriend of an eighteen year old that is having a baby with her best friend.
But that was for a later time to worry about. For now, he was going to see the reason he came out. And for now, that was all that mattered.