CHAPTER 15
IT’S A TERRIBLE LOVE

Classes were over and the football team was practicing for the upcoming game. This meant James was outside on the sports field, and on this day I would position myself to observe but not be seen. It was tricky but I found a spot where I was shielded just enough alongside the bleachers, but I could still gain vantage of Coach Holden on the sidelines yelling at the team as they went through their game motions or whatever they do running around on the grass out there. Coach Holden never called the players by their first names, it was last names only, and I discovered fairly soon that James wasn’t doing something right, because the name Holden kept screaming and screaming over and over was “Callifano! Callifano!” that being James’ last name. Really, Coach Holden was a stumpy sweaty pug of a man, the worst kind of glandular testosteroney phlegm-filled scrotum-sack picture of a male, and it wasn’t until I realized that Paolo, the asshole Paolo, was standing nearby, that both Holden and Paolo must have been literally carved from the same greasy column of dripping hairy flesh. James may well have been a different species of being compared to those two bestial man-slabs. So perhaps it was simple jealousy that made Holden bark out James’ surname with such fury, perhaps Holden had a tragic self-awareness that he was hermetically inferior to James from birth, a situation in which I found no pity. Holden and his ilk could fulfill their destinies as vile paragons of seedy masculinity. The eons would support their devolution back to the swampy, sinewy, muscle-bound balls of pre- conscious goo. Listening to Holden squawk, I was ever so confident he was well on his way, as he hawked a ball of puss from his gob, and a bunch of his teenage cronies followed suit, mysterious bodily fluids bound together by pre-cancerous sick, all flying through the air infecting it with man. They all excreted so grotesquely. Thankfully I could locate James on the field without effort. He was the one encased in light, a bubble-boy immune to his gender’s base providence.

 

Yet still that asshole kept bellowing his name.

 

“Callifano! Callifano!” When would it end? Finally Holden capped it off.


“Callifano! Get your ass over here!” James and his ball of light floated over toward Holden. It was difficult to imagine those two beings sharing the same sphere. I half-expected Holden to fly off the face, catapulted by some grand magnetic repulsion. But there he was, getting right up into James’ Grecian features, magnificent even helmet-shroud. Thank goodness at least these males talked at loud high decibel man-levels, so I could easily hear, hidden as I was.


“Callifano!” Holden kept barking, “do you have an explanation for what you’re doing out there? Or not doing, as the case may be?” James was obedient and eager to please. His words came hard in-between heavy breaths.


“I’m trying Coach, I really am.”

“Well I’ll tell you what’s happening. Your head’s not in the game! You’re distracted, and everybody on this team, hell, everybody in this school knows why.”


“No, Coach, that ain’t it. I can play.”


“Son, maybe it’ll be better for you, better for the team, if you stepped down, take a break, just till this passes, till you get your head on.”


“But…”

“No ‘buts’ son. I’m giving Martinez the start. That’s my final decision. You’ll back him up this week.” I could see the nearby asshole Paolo Martinez swell like an engorged phallus. I half-expected his helmet to pop off his head. James was livid.


“Coach, with all due respect, that’s fucked!”

“Showers, Callifano! Don’t say or do something you’ll regret!”

Rather than implode on the spot, James took off his helmet and stormed off toward the locker room entrance with an appropriate level of indignation. I know he hadn’t seen me, he was too preoccupied with his football drama (I mean, he was the quarterback after all, even I know that’s an important position). So I followed. I had to move quickly, for when one storms off, one does it in haste. It took me a sizable effort to catch him, so much so that I was nearly out of breath when I was matching his pace alongside. Predictably, James wasn’t too pleased to see me.


“Jesus,” he said, “what are you doing here?” I had to let him know I was on his side.

 

“I hate it when they do that. Tell you that you have to be strong.” Wait, what?


“He didn’t say that!”

“But he meant it, right?” James didn’t respond but instead broke into a light jog in an attempt to get away from me. But I wasn’t going to let my small gaffe deter me, so I started to run with him. I had to say what I wanted to say, no matter how winded I became.


“Listen, James,” I gasped, “I want to tell you… in the woods… that day… it was an accident… an accident… I swear…”


“That’s not what I saw! You’re lucky you’re not in jail!”


“No… Listen… James… I can help you. I can help you.”

“What?” By this time we were nearing the door to the showers. James slowed to a stop and turned a little toward me. I stood there, panting, feeling ugly, but determined. I spoke quickly, in little fractures that couldn’t be stopped.


“I could help you be strong… we could be strong together… together… we could be together…”


“Excuse me? Are you saying…”

 

“Yes. You know… I could be… her.”

 

“No.”


“But I look like… her. I can act like… her. I knew her. I knew her better than anyone. I could be her. And me. We could read poetry… You like poetry. We could read Emily Dickinson, and we could share that. And you can share me. We could share each other. You… you could have her again. And you could have… me… for the first time… like her… you could have me… all of me… take me… take…”


James stared at me in horror, and finally spoke.

“You freak! You sick fucking freak!”

Suddenly he looked past me even more aghast, and I turned around to see what he saw. It was Holden walking toward us, now just a short distance away, close enough to hear. I turned back to James, who screamed once more into my face.


“You’re fucking nobody!”

And he was off, leaving me alone, with Holden bearing down.

“You leave that boy alone,” Holden said to me, “and stay off my field.”

 

I fled.