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The Talon House

Jimmy's Brace


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Jimmy's Brace - 01


The picture in front of me swam in and out of focus. I held the frame in a death grip, my knuckles white. The back of my neck started to heat up, and I felt the bile rising up in my throat. I stumbled to the table, desperate to put the picture somewhere safe. My vision dimmed as I thrust it on the table. I turned hastily as the vomit spewed out of me. I remember the sticky, wet feeling on the side of my face. Then all was black.

The aluminum staff flashed through the air around me as I carefully stepped through the form, my naked torso glistening with sweat in the hot summer sun. I’d taken Karate for quite a few years and although we had just moved I continued practicing. I loved the Bo. I finished up the form and safed my Bo when a voice startled me.

“Dude, that looked awesome, I love the way your stick flashed in the sunlight.”

Turning sharply I saw a green-eyed, mousey-haired kid, with one of the biggest grins I’ve ever seen, staring at me over the fence. His face was scrunched up with the effort of holding himself up to see into my backyard.

“It’s called a Bo, not a stick.” I told him somewhat disgustedly.

He tilted his head to the side, rolled his eyes up, and stuck the tip of his tongue out of the side of his mouth. I later learned this is what he does when he wants to commit something to memory.

“Oh,” He said “makes sense that it wouldn’t be just a stick, thanks for telling me.”

“No problem. Now get off the fence before you bust a vessel.” By now his face was beat red from the exertion of holding himself there.

“I’m OK, and I’d really like to watch you do another one” he said excitedly.

Usually I don’t like people watching, for me it was a Zen thing, I love being alone when I work the Bo, it always helps me clear my mind. I don’t even compete in tournaments. But I could see the interest pouring out of him and his grin was infectious. Before my brain could react my mouth was speaking.

“All right then, but hop down from there and come around so I don’t have to call an ambulance when you have a heart attack.”


I heard a thump as he landed on the ground, then the pounding of feet, and his face appeared again. This time he pulled himself up over the fence, dropped down and sat there with that big grin.

I shrugged my shoulders and tried to pretend he wasn’t there and worked my way through a few more forms. Exhausted and thirsty I sat down with a bottle of water and started to chat with my new neighbor.

“I’m Jimmy” he said holding out a fist.

“Brace” I said knocking his knuckles with mine.

“For what?”

“No, that’s my name.” and I gave him a look that suggested he might not want to make any of the dozens of stupid comments I’ve head. And smart kid he picked it up.

“Oh, cool name, I guess you’ve taken some s**t about it huh?”

“Yeah, a few times, but most people don’t mess with me much.”

It’s not that I’m huge or mean or anything like that, I guess I give off a “don’t f**k with me” attitude. Many times I’ve seen someone open their mouths to say something only to rapidly close it and gulp when I give them the look. I tend to be a loner most of the time, I like people, it’s just that I don’t want to feel obligated to be around them all the time. I like my space.

That’s why that afternoon was so weird. Jimmy started talking to me and the next thing I knew….

“Brace!” my mother yelled as she stepped out onto the back deck. “30 min until dinner.”

I looked around me surprised, where had the afternoon gone? Jimmy and I had been talking and laughing for the last 3 hours. We had talked about everything, where we had come from, where we thought we were going and what we planned on doing here.

My mom gave me a funny but excited look, she knew I was a loner and was always trying to find a way to get me more involved socially.

She stepped out and started to say hi when we heard someone calling for Jimmy. It was Jimmy’s mom; he yelled that he was over here. When she stepped up to the fence to tell him about dinner my mom latched onto her and soon they were talking like old friends.

“Come on,” I said “I’ll show you the house, looks like they might be awhile.”

My mom heard me and gave me a look.

“Go on and show him the house, I’ll let you know when we are done.”

I took him to the basement first, that’s where we had our family room, complete with pool table and big screen TV. After a couple of games of pool where I trounced him mightily, I showed Jimmy the rest of the house and we ended up in my bedroom.

“Hey you can see my room from here.” He said with an evil grin. “Now I’ll know everything you do.”

“Oh great! Just what I need a peeping tom for a neighbor.” I laughed socking him in the shoulder.

“Ow, I was just kidding.” He laughed.

We joked around a bit more, played video games for awhile, and then my mom called me down to dinner.

“Guess you gotta jet dude, I’ll show you out.”

We ran downstairs, when I saw the dining room I slammed to a stop causing Jimmy to run into my back.

“Dude signal when you’re going to brake. I almost broke my nose.” He laughed.

My whole family and what could only be Jimmy’s family were already down there. With my 2 brothers and 2 sisters, his 3 sisters and brother and our parents the place was crowded. There were 6 boxes of pizza on the table and everyone was talking and laughing.

That night as I lay in bed I couldn’t help thinking about the day I had just had. I couldn’t believe that I’d only been here a week and for the first time in my life I had a best friend. That is what Jimmy is right? And to top it off it looks like our families are going to be best of friends also. I drifted off with a smile on my face.

That summer flew by. Jimmy’s 14th birthday was on the 4th of July we camped out in his backyard, staying up late and watching the fireworks. School started in late August and with Jimmy as a friend it was the best time I’ve ever had in school.

Sometime during that year puberty hit Jimmy with a vengeance. He grew 6” and probably gained 15 pounds, none of it fat. I remember sometime that spring thinking he was gorgeous. And that’s when things started to go wrong. I wasn’t gay. No way in hell. So I took that thought and any others I had and pushed them way to the back of my head and walled them off. And it worked. For a while anyway.

Summertime rolled around and with it came Jimmy’s birthday on the 4th, we’d already decided we were going to have a yearly campout on that day. Unfortunately for us that day a rainstorm moved in with a vengeance and from the looks of it, it wasn’t going to leave anytime soon. We decided to hell with it. We were going to sleep out anyway. The tent would keep the rain out anyway. We laid there talking for hours, at some point I brought up the last 4th of July and how bummed I was that there weren’t any fireworks that year.

“I don’t care,” said Jimmy “I’m having a great time with the person I like the most in the world.”

How sappy was that? But before I could come up with something to say to tease him I heard myself saying.

“I like you too.”

Our 2 man tent didn’t leave a lot of space between us and before I could assimilate what he was doing Jimmy’s lips touched mine. And without any thinking on my part I returned his kiss. Deeply. Passionately. When my brain caught up with where I was and what I was doing I recoiled in horror.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

I could barely speak, but managed to whisper.

“I’m not”

“You’re not what?”

“I can’t be”

“Dude you’re scaring me, what’s going on?” he asked as he moved closer and made to put an arm over me.

“I’M NOT GAY!” I shouted and pushed him violently away.

I watched as his eyes changed from concerned to shock to despair as the ramifications of what I had said and done hit him.

I couldn’t bear to look at him anymore and I took off frantically. I had to get away. I ran home in the rain. By the time I got to my room I was soaked. I was beyond caring I sat by my window crying and staring out at the rain.

I saw Jimmy’s light come on and watched as he dragged himself in. He came over to his window and sat there staring at me. We sat like that for a long time; finally he raised his hand and placed it on the window. I could see the longing in his eyes; he wanted me to do something to show him we were going to be ok. I couldn’t do it. I sat there unmoving until finally I saw jimmy shuddering, he lowered his hand slowly, then his head and went to his bed. I watched him cry until I couldn’t stand it anymore and went to my own bed, crying harder than I had ever cried in my life. I was miserable. I had just pushed away the best friend I’d ever had.

Constructive criticism and comments gladly accepted. Please email me at yaalc@yahoo.com.

Copyright Notice - Copyright ©2006 by yaalc.

This story is copyrighted by the author and the author retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form, physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise without the authors expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.

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Jimmy's Brace - 02


I spent the next couple of weeks in a self-imposed isolation, leaving my room only to eat and use the bathroom, I think I only showered 3 or 4 times.. I read, played video games, watched TV and did anything else I could think of to avoid what I really should have been doing, Working out my problem with Jimmy.

Every night I sat in my darkened room. And every night I watched Jimmy go through the same ritual of staring at my window, putting his hand up to the window and then falling into bed crying. It was tearing me up, but I couldn’t bring myself to work it out in my mind.

The next night after I watched Jimmy, I threw myself onto my bed and cried myself hoarse. When the waterworks were done I found that I was extremely thirsty. I got up to get a drink of water and heard voices in the family room so I crept down the stairs as quietly as I could.

“I know you don’t want to get involved Drew”, Jimmy’s dad Lon was talking, “but we’ve never seen Jimmy like this. We make him sit at the table to eat and all he does is push his food around and nibble a bit. He’s always been a happy kid. Always had a smile or a laugh but he hasn’t even smiled in two weeks, and he refuses to tell us what’s wrong. We’ve even started checking on him day and night, we are so afraid he’s going to hurt himself. Judy wouldn’t even come over with me, she’s afraid to leave him alone. We’re at wits end here.”

His words hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt like someone had hit me in the gut, I couldn’t breathe and I wanted to vomit. Oh god what if he did hurt himself? It would be all my fault? Why did this have to happen? I collapsed onto the stairs. My mind spinning as I tried to concentrate on what they were saying.

“You’re right Lon,” Dad was saying, “I’ve made it a point to let Brace work through things on his own, trying to guide him and prepare him for what life might bring, but whatever has happened here is beyond them. I’m not going to fix it for them but its time to interfere a bit. I’ll speak to him tonight and get with you tomorrow.”

I snuck back up to my room as quietly as I could and laid down on my bed waiting for the inevitable. My mind reeling. What was he gonna ask? What was I gonna tell him? Before I could get my thoughts in order, there was a knock at the door.

“Come in” I sighed.

“Hey Son.” My dad poked his head in the door. “Mind if we chat a bit?”

“I guess” I mumbled.

He came in and sat on the edge of the bed. I was tensed up, trying to anticipate his questions and wondering how far I could get with lies. He just took a deep breath and stared at the floor.

“When I was growing up I had a best friend, Paul. We were inseparable, blood brothers. We went everywhere and did everything together.”

This wasn’t what I had expected and I wondered where he was going with it. He took a deep breath and I could tell he was struggling.

“We had a fight. And I hate to say it because I think I passed it on to you, but I was stubborn, I was furious with him and couldn’t bring myself to look at him, much less talk to him. This went on for quite awhile. I don’t think I said a word to him for a month. Then one day…” and here my dad shuddered and I saw tears start to leak out his eyes.

He continued but his voice was rough, and he was struggling to speak.

“I guess he’d had enough of our fighting. I was walking to school and heard him behind me yelling at me to stop. I was at a crosswalk and I can still see the timer at 5 seconds. I hurried across the street thinking the red light would give me enough space to get away from him. Then I heard him start running. There was a loud squeal and I turned around in time to see his body flying and hit the pavement.

Tears were streaming down his face now.

“You know that fishing trip I take every year by myself?” I nodded remembering all the times I’d felt bad because he wouldn’t take me.

“I don’t go fishing. I go back to where we grew up. I wander the streets, reliving the things we did. Then I check into a hotel and drink myself to sleep. Paul was in a coma for a long time, his Dad got a new job and they moved away and transferred him to a new hospital before he woke up. I haven’t seen him since. I’ve never forgotten him and I’ve never forgiven myself. And do you know what the worst thing about it is?”

He looked me in the eyes then, as I shook my head not daring to say anything to spoil the moment. He looked away and with a sob said.

“I can’t remember what we fought about.”

He sat there for a few minutes composing himself then looked at me again.

“Your mother and I decided a long time ago to not interfere in the lives of you kids. And we won’t. We are here to guide you and teach you. But your lives are your own. I don’t know what’s going on between you and Jimmy and I don’t expect you to tell me. I just want you to know that I’m here for you, and I’ll help you with whatever it is you need. I love you so much Brace. And I love Jimmy too. We were so happy that you finally found someone you could be friends with. His dad was here tonight and told me that Jimmy’s having a really hard time, and I know you’re not very happy so I have to infer that you still like him. Brace, don’t let Jimmy be your Paul. There aren’t very many things you can’t work out. Understood?”

I nodded.

“Anything you want to talk about?”

I shook my head no. “I think I need to do some thinking dad.” I croaked out. “I’ll come to you if I need anything ok?”

He looked me in the eyes for a long time and finally nodded.

“Anytime you need to talk I’m here.” He said.

He hugged me tight then got up and left.

My mind was reeling before, but now it was in turmoil. I knew I was unhappy. I knew Jimmy was hurting. I knew I would feel horrible if anything happened to him. But that didn’t change the fact that I didn’t want to be gay.

I had an inspiration and went and logged onto my computer. I started searching for sites that talked about being a gay teen. As I read I got more and more intrigued. I read stories about coming out, I read advice on dealing with being gay. The more I read, the more involved I got. I looked up at one point and saw that the sun was coming up. But I couldn’t stop reading. I found sites. I read advice. I followed links to stories. Finally around noon I logged off exhausted and fell asleep.

When I woke up I was surprised to see it was ten at night. I couldn’t believe my parents hadn’t been in to wake me up. I went downstairs. I was starving for the first time in two weeks. I found my parents in the kitchen.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?” I asked

“To be honest Brace” my dad said. “After our talk we kept an eye on you. We know you were up all night and most of the day. We decided that what you were doing was probably more important than being awake today. So we left you alone.

“Are you hungry sweetie?” my mom asked.

I couldn’t help but grin at them. I couldn’t believe what wonderful parents I had.

“Yeah starving actually”

“Wow, appetite and a smile” my dad commented. “I hope this means you worked some things out?”

“Not quite dad, but I’m close. Can I go talk to Jimmy after I’m done eating?”

My mom and dad looked at each other, the surprise evident on their faces.

“Sure,” mom said grinning “but take a shower first, you stink”

By the time I’d eaten and showered it was late. I looked over to Jimmy’s window but it was dark. I didn’t care. I needed to talk to Jimmy while everything I had learned was fresh in my head. I snuck over to Jimmy’s and let myself in. We had given each other keys to our houses. I took my shoes off and tiptoed up to Jimmy’s room. With the light from the moon I could just barely make out his form. And suddenly I was terrified. I wanted to make up with him but what if he was too mad at me? I couldn’t bring myself to wake him up.

I decided not to wake him up. Instead I carefully climbed into bed with him and put my hand on his shoulder. I needed to touch him but I didn’t want to disturb him. I lay like that with my body as far away from him as possible but maintaining that touch. I lay like that looking at him for a long time. Not remembering when I fell asleep.

When my eyes opened the next morning the first thing I saw was Jimmy looking at me. What I saw tore me up. I could see he was mad, I could see the hurt, a deep hurt that I knew I had put there.

“Hey Jimmy”

“Don’t hey Jimmy me, what the hell are you doing here?” he asked angrily.

“I need to talk to you.”

He looked at me for a long minute.

“So talk.” he said not giving an inch

“Where do I start? s**t. Ok, listen to me for a minute and don’t say anything, k?”

He just continued to stare at me.

“These last two weeks have been tough on me. Jimmy you’re my best friend. I don’t want to lose that.”

I took a deep breath dreading the next words I needed to say.

“I’m gay, but I’m not happy about it. I’m really struggling with it. It’s gonna take me some time to come to terms with it. I really love you. But I can’t be your boyfriend right now. I’m just not ready for that. I want us to be friends again, and I promise I’ll work on it. That’s it. Just please don’t hate me.”

He looked at me for a long time.

“I need to go to the bathroom.”

He got up and left but came back shortly.

“You hurt me bad Brace.” Were the first words out of his mouth.

“But I think I know how you feel. I can respect that as long as we are friends again. I’ve missed having you around so much.”

And then he smiled. I never thought a smile would affect me like that. It was like the world made sense again. I jumped up and hugged him tight, and he hugged me back.

“Give me some time.” I whispered “I’ll get there.”

“I know” he whispered back.

We stayed like that for awhile, until the grumbling of his stomach brought us around.

“I guess I’d better get something to eat. I can’t afford to lose more weight.”

We went down to his kitchen together with big smiles on our faces. When his parents saw us, his mom almost collapsed.

“Oh my god” she whispered and looked upward “thank you, thank you”

Constructive criticism and comments gladly accepted. Please email me at yaalc@yahoo.com.

Copyright Notice - Copyright ©2006 by yaalc.

This story is copyrighted by the author and the author retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form, physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise without the authors expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.

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Jimmy's Brace - 03


I’ll never know how I would have managed without Jimmy. His friendship was unshakable and he never pushed me on the gay issue. We took some time renewing our friendship and ended up being more inseparable than before, if that was possible. Eventually I felt comfortable with talking to him about being Gay. We spent hours at a time discussing how we knew, what we felt, and how to deal with it. Never once did he push me to do anything, even when we resumed our sleepovers.

One Friday evening, a couple of months later, I was spending the evening at his place. We were in a heated video game battle, laughing, cursing and fingers flying as we swore to each other that the other was going down. I glanced over at Jimmy for a second and saw him concentrating hard on the screen, the tip of his tongue poked out a little as he concentrated on beating me. My mind flashed back to the first day we met and like a ton of bricks, it hit me. I was in love with Jimmy. I had absorbed every little idiosyncrasy and quirk of his, along with his personality and friendship from the day we had met. And it had all culminated in a deep love for him.

I stopped playing and sat there looking at him. I was almost unable to comprehend my feelings. He suddenly punched a fist into the air and grinned in triumph.

“Ha sucker, you got owned!” he proclaimed triumphantly. He looked at me with a wide grin on his face. When he saw me, his grin faded and a look of almost panic appeared.

“What?” he asked

I couldn’t make my mouth work and just continued to look at him.

“What?” he repeated, this time the panic evident on his face.

I finally found my voice.

“I love you.”

“Oh is that all? I already knew that.

“No, Jimmy I…..LOVE….YOU.” I said

He sat there for a minute, thinking through what I had said. About the time he realized what I meant and his eyes started to widen, I pounced on him, my lips seeking out his. And this time there was no pushing away.

I couldn’t even begin to describe what happened that night. I was on such an emotional overload that my conscious self couldn’t keep up with what was going on. Jimmy did things to me that left me reeling with passion. And I know I did things to him, but I could never quite remember what they were. The whole night was just one big emotional overload.

The next morning I woke up in a daze. I couldn’t believe how good I felt. And I took just a moment to berate myself for all the wasted time. Especially after I looked at Jimmy, he was still sound asleep but I had never seen him looking happier than he did at that moment. I crept out of bed quietly, feeling like he deserved to sleep as long as possible after the night he had given me.

I made it home in time for breakfast. Things were pretty quite at the table. I noticed my mom and dad giving each other looks. Then my dad looked right at me.

“So Jimmy finally reeled you in did he?” he asked

Orange juice shot out my nose I coughed, sputtered, and finally managed to look indignant.

“What? Jimmy’s my best friend why would you even suggest something like that?”

“Oh come on Brace, We’re not stupid your Mom and I have been watching you two dancing around each other like a pair of blind bats. I’m just glad you finally figured it out. I know we said we’d never interfere but hell I was about ready to lock you both in a room until you DID figure it out.”

I managed to hem and haw a bit but it all became moot when Jimmy burst through the back door, tears streaming down his face.

“I’m sorry Brace,” he said between sobs, “Please don’t hate me again. I didn’t mean to. I thought”

That was as far as he got before I realized what my leaving that morning had caused him to think. Instantly all thoughts of what anyone might think were dashed from my head as I leapt up and pulled him into my arms.

“Shhh Jimmy, it’s ok. I’m sorry I just wanted you to get some sleep and I was hungry. Don’t worry. I love you. I’ve always loved you even if I was too stupid to see it.”

I wiped the tears from his cheeks and bent down to kiss him. Realizing where I was I broke away but when I looked around all I saw were smiles. I guess I was officially out to my family, and from the looks of it, they didn’t care.

It wasn’t long before Jimmy’s family was in on the news and our relationship was given their blessing also.

Once again school started and time flew by. Jimmy and I managed to grow closer, and I became more comfortable with who I was. Spring came around and with it came Junior Prom. After much discussion, Jimmy and I decided we would go together. I guess we were beyond caring what anyone else thought by then.

That night was a nerve racking experience, but a bit of a letdown. Nobody cared. I did catch a couple of dirty looks but all in all nobody treated us any different. I could tell it was a bit of a shock for our friends but it didn’t last too long before they treated us the same as before, although with a bit more teasing.

Jimmy and I had planned to spend the night at a hotel with the help of our parents. So after the prom we started down the highway. I was excited about everything, how well the night went, spending the night with Jimmy away from home and overall just life in general.

I kept glancing at Jimmy while I was driving and could see how excited he was also. I guess I wasn’t paying attention as well as I should have been so when the deer bounded out in front of me I wasn’t ready for it. I slammed on the brakes and swerved into the next lane causing the guy behind me to slam on his brakes and swerve to miss me.

We recovered without hitting anything but I was shaken, my knuckles white on the steering wheel as I concentrated on the road. The guy behind me had moved up in my lane and was tailgating me and that made me even more nervous.

Jimmy noticed and said. “Why don’t you pull off at the next exit and we can sit for a few minutes and calm down?”

I nodded and started looking for the next exit when the guy behind me swung into the other lane sped up then pulled sharply into my lane. I slammed on my brakes and turned the wheel to miss him. I panicked as the car went into a slide and I felt it coming up. I saw Jimmy’s hands shot out to steady himself with the dashboard, and I desperately swung the wheel trying to straighten the car out, but it was too late. With one final lurch, the car seemed to catch and then we were rolling down the freeway. Glass shattered and I was flung back and forth in my seatbelt. The car finally came to a rest on the driver’s side.

I lay there in a daze trying to figure out how hurt I was, when I felt a hot liquid dripping on my face. Looking up in terror, I saw Jimmy hanging limply in his seatbelt, blood dripping off his head. I screamed his name right before everything went black.

I woke up feeling a wet wash cloth on my forehead. I looked around frantically and realized my mom was cradling my head in her lap with a worried look on her face.

“Mom,” I sobbed, “where’s Jimmy? How come I haven’t seen him?”

“Oh honey,” she said as tears ran down her face. “He’s still in the hospital, he hasn’t woken up yet.

Constructive criticism and comments gladly accepted. Please email me at yaalc@yahoo.com.

Copyright Notice - Copyright ©2006 by yaalc.

This story is copyrighted by the author and the author retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form, physical, electronic, audio, or otherwise without the authors expressed permission. All applicable copyright laws apply.

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