Sam’s got so much love for him, but he doesn’t know what to do. He’s sitting in the car, waiting outside of school. It’s September, the first day back. He’d graduated last year, but Nate was only a junior. Sam finished early at work so he could come pick him up. His face lit up realizing he didn’t have to take the bus. Sam changed his hours after that, knowing Nate would be sixteen soon and would be able to drive himself.
He’s in for a heart break if it’s all been blind faith. It’s December now. He’s been driving Nate home for months. Sometimes they stop by the mall. Go see a movie or get a bite to eat. Troll the record store. They’ve spent way too much in quarters down at the old arcade, but they’re regulars now and are known by name. He doesn’t expect it when Nate tells him he’s seeing someone on Friday. A girl from his Spanish class.
‘Oh, so that’s why you’re failing,’ Sam says, hip-checking Nate to throw him off his game. Nate loses, and Sam smiles as he racks up his tenth victory today. ‘Si.’ Sam shakes his head. Nate asks where to take her as they switch to a shooter game. He suggests the mall. ‘That’s not a date. That’s us, hanging out.’ He shoots Nate dead. ‘Damn, that’s my last quarter.’ Nate pulls out a fiver and heads toward the change machine.
Sam puts a hand on his shoulder. ‘Sorry, man, I gotta go.’ Nate follows him to the car. Sam’s chest hurts when Nate spends the whole ride talking about this chick. What about him? Has he not been right there for years? Call him stupid but he always thought the way Nate was with him was special. The way he looked at him. Now he’s thinking he should have seen it coming. From any point of view.
Sam’s got so much in his heart but he doesn’t know what to do. Sure, it’s the 1990’s and people are basically over the ‘gays all get AIDS’ thing; and sure, he’s not totally gay. There’ve been girls. There’ve been lots of girls. What’s the other label…Bi? Isn’t that the one for gay people who pretend they’re straight or something? Whatever. The point is, he likes Nate. But both of them are dudes, and this is goddamn Arizona.
All he wants is Nate, lying inside his room. That’s not so much to ask. He knows Nate’s not exactly a virgin, himself. So it wouldn’t be that big a deal if Sam asked him to fool around, right? Right. Nate would be more likely to punch him in the face and then tell everyone he’s a fag. Sure, the whole punk scene is about being alternative. But he’s not sure if that ‘screw the world’ mentality extended to boys who like boys.
He’s always feeling cheated. That’s the best way to describe the feeling he gets when Nate goes out with her. Or any other girl he gets because he’s in a band. He feels like Nate’s cheating on him. Which, obviously he isn’t, because obviously, Nate and Sam aren’t together. He’d always thought there was an unspoken agreement between the two them that said ‘I’m yours and you’re mine.’ Apparently not, according to Nate.
Telling all his secrets, that Nate couldn’t keep. It’s not like Nate went out and told everyone on the scene about Sam’s pathetic little crush on him. But he wrote about it and changed the pronouns so that everyone would think it was Nate, crying over some girl. They were good songs, but it killed Sam to hear Nate singing about his secrets like they were just another line. He wished Nate had never found out.
He’s got to be crazy. Hanging with Nate all the time, staying late after practice to listen to him talk-not drone on, anymore-about his latest conquest. He’s living like he’s John Wayne or something. Facing the world, and chasing the boy who’ll never want him. Yeah, he thinks, when his heart gets broken again and again with each of Nate’s new girlfriends. He’s got to be crazy.