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The Trial


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The Trial

Michael Jensen stood in deep darkness in front of the door. He could hear the voices on the other side, see an occasional shadow cross the light leaking out at the bottom. But there was no earthly way he could open that door right now.

He moved over to the nearby chair, not making a sound, and sat down. He tried to find a way to be comfortable. Crossed his ankles. Set one ankle atop his knee, then reversed the position. Put his feet flat on the floor and set his head in his hands with his elbows on his knees. None of it worked. So he stood up again, tried once more to see through the blackness and let out a quiet sigh.

It just plain wasn’t supposed to be like this. He had led a good life, all fifteen years of it, and he didn’t deserve this pain. This anxiety. This thing that he knew would be the shame of it all. He knew better than to have fallen for it. He had led his life quietly, trying hard to be a good son to his parents, a good brother to the two younger rug rats who’d followed in his wake. But after the prior two weeks, despite his better judgment, he’d once again fallen into temptation. This time a far more public infamy. Life, as he knew it was over.

Satan himself could not have found a more compliant accomplice than Michael, and he kicked himself for it. He should have seen it coming a mile away. In fact, he told himself as he once again tried out the chair, he had seen it. And declined. Repeatedly. But it was to no avail.

Bryan Tanner owned him.

When Bryan Tanner talked, Michael Jensen listened.

And when Michael Jensen said “No!” – Bryan Tanner went deaf.

Michael stood and restarted his pacing. He paused only long enough to listen closely once more at the door. Still talking. No way could he go in. He took his three steps forward and three back.

- - -

It hadn’t seemed anywhere near so bad when Michael first met Bryan. He couldn’t really remember precisely when that was, but their parents had told them that they were in adjacent cribs in the maternity ward. So long as they got fed and the doctor didn’t slap their butts any more, they were happy. And they both remembered vividly their parents telling them that Bryan was nearly seven minutes older then Michael. If Michael had occasionally managed to forget, Bryan was always there to remind him.

Bryan had maintained the leadership throughout the years. “C’mon. Me and you are going to the swings!” “Me and you are going to the pool!” “Me and you are going to baseball practice no matter how bad you suck!” It was relentless.

Michael shook his head. It had never really seemed all that forced. It was just natural. Bryan knew what he wanted and Michael, less decisive, was always to be his accomplice. “Me and you.”

The arrangement worked like clockwork for years. The Me and You Duo survived preschool playgrounds and games of freeze tag. As they made their way into real schools, they learned their letters and reading and numbers together. Whatever Bryan might not get in the classroom he would dig out of his friend that evening.

“Me and you have some arithmetic homework tonight.”

“Nope. Already finished mine.”

“But me and you haven’t. So bring your book home.”

Michael smiled at the thought. Sure enough, he’d always carried his book home and before the night was done, Bryan would be ready too.

But now, things were changing. Middle school had been tough enough. And High school was a different challenge altogether. They only shared a few classes and Bryan, always sociable, seemed to have scads of friends while Michael had only a handful. Bryan had tried out for freshman football and done fairly well. Michael’s parents had bought him a clarinet and stuck him in the marching band.

As second semester rolled around they both found themselves at loose ends. And that’s when Brian really began to put on the pressure. He was bound and determined that his longtime friend was going to follow his every whim once more despite serious pushback from Michael.

“I’m not kidding. I think you’ll like it. Get you to loosen up some, okay? Meet new people and all that crap you always say we’re supposed to do but you never do.”

“No way, Bryan. You want to? Go ahead. It’s not for me.”

“So? Do it for me, okay? Me and you, like it always was.”

Michael was stunned. He’d never heard Bryan be so downright bold and demanding about something before when it was something Michael honestly didn’t want to do.

And it was Bryan’s turn to be even more stunned when Michael replied, “Sorry, but I’m not interested.” Neither of them knew quite what to say.

Michael walked home with tears streaming down his cheeks that night. In one sense it was such a stupid little thing. In another way it was massive. He couldn’t even think straight as he threw himself into his bed and cried himself to sleep.

His night was a torment of emotion-filled dreams. He remembered details of everything they had done together over the years and how much it all meant to him. From playing blocks in their playpens to playing far more fascinating – and secret – games over the past few years, Michael knew that his whole life was actually open only to one other person in the universe. That he didn’t merely like Bryan, but he loved him. Not merely loved, but was in love with him. And whatever Bryan thought was good for him, he was willing to try.

It was third period before they shared a classroom. Michael was there first and waited anxiously for Bryan to make his appearance. When he did Bryan walked right past Michael without a greeting and took his place. He studiously avoided eye contact until Michael put his hand atop Bryan’s book and forced him to look up.

“Sorry about last night. I’m in.”

Bryan looked at him, took a deep breath, and said, “Never mind. You don’t have to.”

Michael locked his eyes onto Bryan’s and said quickly and quietly, “You idiot! I said I’m in so I’m in and… and… and by the way I love you and I’m in love with you and don’t you fucking say a word, okay?” He turned around and the bell rang.

- -

That had been nearly three weeks ago. Nothing more had been said about Michael’s comment in the intervening days. A truce of sorts lay between them, but they did work furiously on Bryan’s scheme. Bryan was obviously working with others as well, but Michael was happy to be left on his own for the most part. It had, however, all led to this moment. Darkness and a chair.

Michael stood up with a start. He was certain he had just heard a shout from Bryan through the door. It was time.

He took one final moment and straightened himself, turned and opened the door. From the darkness in which he had been sitting, the sudden incredibly bright lights almost caused him to falter. But he managed to pass through the door, stiffen his trembling legs, look around at the five people standing there looking at him and say, “Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served.”

The five led the way out of the lights, through the doorway and into the darkness. As Michael closed the door firmly behind them all there came from beyond the door and those bright lights a roar of acclamation, cheering and applause. Michael even smiled.

Four of the people with Michael were jumping up and down and hugging one another.

Bryan turned to Michael and embraced him as he never had before. He leaned in close, kissed him gently on the cheek and said, “You did it! I’m sorry I haven’t said it before, but I’m in love with you too.”

Then Bryan released Michael and shouted to all, “And now me and you…” He paused and looked directly at Michael. “I mean You and Me, need to haul ass downstage center and take our bows!”

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I confess that at the start I thought they were twins. A little further down that misconception was resolved..

The best part of your story is the lyrical quality of "Me and you" and how you use it. It make you envious of their relationship. Who wouldn't want to be a part of a "Me and you"

Well done ChrisR

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