buzzbooks217 @ yahoo.com
PG-13, but sillier than necessary
“After school. I want to show you”
See me after class, Dennis, Mr. Moore had said, and now Dennis sat, heart palpitating, pounding against his ribcage like an automatic bellows gone haywire. See me after class, and yet there was no reason for it. No taunts today. No petty extortions. No talking out in class. That could only mean one thing: Mr. Moore had discovered one of his secrets. The only question was: which one?
When the class emptied (Arvid glancing back several times nervously, and Dennis loved him for that), Dennis stayed in back, randomly pressing buttons on his keyboard: I-L-O-V-E-M-R-M-O-O-R-E. Okay, so perhaps it wasn’t so random. And perhaps Dennis did want Mr. Moore to find out about him. Hadn’t that been his fantasy, all along? To have Mr. Moore – Charlie – approach him after class and tell him that he’d been catching all the sideways glances, the stares, the embarrassing adjustments every time Mr. Moore clapped him on the shoulder. Approach him and say that it was all right, that he felt that way, too, that there was nothing to worry about anymore. God, how Dennis longed to tell him that he had videotaped the entire broadcast that night Mr. Moore had been in those silly commercials. That he had watched his teacher leap about in King’s regalia, and how he had masturbated four times, imagining Mr. Moore leaping out of the television and into his bedroom. And how he longed to tell him ... well, that other secret. The one that no one knew about, not even Arvid. But that was ... that was beyond the realm of possibility. He’d confess his love for Mr. Moore a million times, in front of the whole school, before he’d ever tell him that.
“Dennis?” Mr. Moore asked, approaching him and drawing him out of his reverie.
“Come on, Mr. Moore,” Dennis said, employing his trademark Blunden sideways grin, that mocking tone. All the better to keep hurt away. “Is this gonna be another life lesson, or a plea to be in a school play, or something? Because I...”
“You what?” Mr. Moore asked. That soothing, low voice he sometimes used in class to calm them down. God, was he hairy under that boring shirt and silly tie? Dennis shifted in his seat, desperate to hide the erection that was growing there.
“Nothing,” Dennis said.
“I’ve been watching you, Dennis,” Mr. Moore said, and Dennis’s heart skipped a beat. “Very closely.”
“Oh?” Dennis’s voice squeaked. Dammit.
“And I get the impression that you’ve been watching me, as well.” Oh my God! This was it! My dream come true! Or, wait. What if I’m getting in trouble? What if this is bad? What if this is the worst thing that can happen?
“Dennis, just answer me one question.” Dennis gulped, and nodded. It was all he could do. “Would you like to kiss me now?”
Relief and panic merged, exploded, in Dennis insides, bouncing around as if he were hollow. “Oh, God,” he gasped. “More than anything.” And suddenly, before any thought of reality could leap in and rip this fragile dream apart, Dennis leaned closer and felt Mr. Moore’s lips on his. The sensation was electric, intoxicating. Never before had Dennis kissed another man, let alone the man he’d been longing for for two whole years. Never had he imagined this was possible, that anything so wonderful could be possible.
“Mr. Moore,” he said, breaking away. “Oh my God, Mr. Moore, that night you were in those commercials for the appliance place...”
“Dennis,” Mr. Moore interrupted, grinning. Dennis went on.
“...and you played that bugle at the end, and I said to myself, I remember when he told us that he got a bugling badge in the Boy Scouts, I mean, not that I’ve been like thinking about you constantly or keeping a journal of all the cool things you say or anything...”
“Dennis,” Mr. Moore said, putting a hand on Dennis’s shoulder. Oh, God, that comforting hand. How he wanted that hand to touch his flesh. How he wanted... “It’s okay.”
“No,” Dennis said. “Not yet. You don’t know everything, Mr. Moore. And I ... well, I love you, okay? I really do, and I know that probably freaks you out because I’m only seventeen (even though I look more like I’m in my mid-twenties) and you’re older and all this is weird. It freaks me out, too.”
“That’s very perceptive, Dennis,” Mr. Moore said, folding his hands across his chest. “Maybe it’s that odd spark of maturity in you that made me ... made me fall in love with you, too.”
Dennis’s heart was in his throat. How wonderful it was to have this moment alone, even though it was well past nine and the second class of the day should have begun about ten minutes ago. “You mean it, Mr. Moore?”
Mr. Moore smiled softly and placed his hand – soft, an actor’s hand – on Dennis’s pudgy cheek. “You’re all I ever think about,” he said. “All the time.”
Okay, Dennis thought. Okay, I’m going to tell him. I have to tell him. Because we’re in love. And that love is so pure.
“I have to tell you something else, Mr. Moore,” he whispered. “It’s the hardest thing in the world to tell.”
“Even harder than telling me you’re in love with me?” Mr. Moore asked, raising his eyebrows.
“Yeah. Even more than that. I’ve never told a soul, and I ... God, Mr. Moore, I have to tell someone.”
Mr. Moore waited, watching him with those pale brown eyes. “Well?” he finally said, but softly, with a hand on Dennis’s knee.
“After school. I want to show you. Behind the gym. Will you be there?”
“Show me? Show me what, Dennis?”
“Everything,” Dennis said, and wanted to cry.
* * *
It was dark and a late autumn wind had made the night cool. Dennis leaned against a tree and waited, his insides churning. He sipped on a milkshake and begged for Mr. Moore to understand.
Eventually, his teacher arrived, glancing deftly behind him so as to detect any followers. When he saw Dennis, he smiled and looked up. “Full moon,” he said. “Very romantic.”
Dennis looked up, hoping that this moment could be pure, could be without this horrid fright. “It is,” Dennis said, and then stepped closer to Mr. Moore, to his teacher he loved. Leaned down and kissed, and allowed himself to be kissed back. Nothing will ever top that kiss, he thought. Never in my life will anything be as wonderful as kissing Charlie Moore.
Then he stepped back, and began unbuttoning his flannel shirt. Mr. Moore placed a hand on Dennis wrist and looked up seriously. “Dennis, you don’t have to ... you know, we don’t have to rush into that.”
Dennis looked at him, wanting more than anything to rush into that, to lie on the ground with Mr. Moore on top of him, holding him, loving him as a man loves a man. That’s what he wanted ... but first, this.
“It’s not that, Mr. Moore,” he said. “I have ... another secret. Something else besides liking men. Liking you. It’s ... I’m not like other guys.”
“No, you’re not,” Mr. Moore said. “That’s why I love you.”
Dennis’s flannel dropped in a puddle by his feet. He removed his T-shirt swiftly, wanting to get that part over. If Mr. Moore really loved him, then he loved the belly part of him, too. Didn’t mind that he was heavy. For a moment, he simply stood in front of his teacher, shirtless, and let Mr. Moore take the sight in.
“Is this okay?” he asked. Mr. Moore stepped forward and lay his hand against the swell of Dennis’s belly.
“More than okay. Beautiful,” he said.
“Okay,” Dennis whispered, closing his eyes. “Now, I have to show you my secret.”
Without allowing himself to believe that Mr. Moore would run away, screaming, he clenched his fists and concentrated. Concentrated on believing that true love, this love, could conquer anything. Could transcend any barrier. Concentrated on his love for Mr. Moore, and his desire to share this most secret part of himself.
Dennis relaxed and let his wings unfurl.
Behind his closed eyes, he heard Mr. Moore gasp. “Dennis!” he said, sounding as if someone had sucker-punched him in the belly. Dennis let his eyes flutter open and looked at his teacher.
“I ... I can’t explain it,” Dennis said, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his jeans. His wings beat once, twice, flapping against the breeze. “This is just how I am, Mr. Moore. I ... I’m so sorry.”
Mr. Moore stepped closer, gaping at the wings. He reached out and ran his hand over the top of one. Now it was Dennis’s turn to gasp. No one had ever touched his wings before, and he hadn’t guessed that they’d have any sensation ... let alone the arousing electricity it sent down his spine.
“Do they hurt?” Mr. Moore asked, struggling with the words.
Dennis shook his head. “No. They’re vestigial, I think. They don’t rip through when they come out, they just sort of ... unfold. It feels nice, actually.” He paused. “Mr. Moore, you have no idea how awesome it is to be saying this stuff to you. You’re the only person I’ve ever told.”
Mr. Moore stepped back and surveyed Dennis. He’ll run now, Dennis thought. He’ll run and tell Dr. Samuels and my Mom and the police, and that’ll be the end of it. So much for true love. So much for us.
Instead, Mr. Moore said, “They look like angel wings, Dennis. White and powerful. You’re ... you’re like an angel.” Mr. Moore smiled, a tear coursing down the contour of a cheek. “A vulnerable angel.”
Dennis stepped forward and wrapped Mr. Moore in his arms. The teacher came willingly enough, pressing his head against Dennis’s bare chest and closing his eyes. This is what I wanted, he thought. This is all I’ve ever wanted. Then, without forethought or consideration, he flapped his wings hard, once, twice, three times, and then they were off the ground.
“Oh!” Mr. Moore exclaimed, his eyes wide open. “Oh, Dennis! Is this too much?”
“Yeah,” Dennis said, feeling his own tears fall from his eyes. “But that’s okay, I think. Too much won’t ever be enough for me.” He smiled and watched Mr. Moore smile back. His wings still beating hard, he lifted his teacher higher, above the school, above the trees.
“I love you,” he said, sailing above New York City with his teacher safely in his arms.
“If you love me,” Mr. Moore said, “then kiss me.”
And Dennis did just that, closing his eyes and opening his mouth and thinking, You were wrong, Mr. Moore. You’re the angel. The beautiful angel who flew into my life.
They flew until dawn, wrapped in each other’s arms, and when they landed again behind the school, they made love for the first time.
Dennis still felt as if he were soaring.