Chapter 1 – Meet John
John Laycock looked up strangely at his teacher as she moved his binder a bit to see the front more clearly. Without even asking, John knew what she was looking at: on the font, he had plastered on his binder a bumper sticker proudly promoting 'Bush/Cheney '04' in the beginning of the year there. Now that the election was over, however, he didn't feel the need to remove it. At least it wasn't as loserly as those girls in his Psychology class that still proudly displayed their 'Kerry/Edwards' buttons on their purses and pants; there was no pride in loss.
Even though she didn't say anything, John knew his teacher had disapproved, her cynical smile showing all. It was no secret that upstate NY teachers were alarmingly liberal. In fact, John almost felt victimized at times: Global I and II had been pretty decent, and the teacher tried to maintain himself as dead center; US History had been a cruel follow up, it being administered by the most liberal teacher in school who admittedly would not have married his wife if she did not smoke pot, and required the weekly reading of the most foul book in existence written by Howard Zinn, self proclaimed socialist; and this year was only a small refuge to the trend, his Government teacher being a hardcore Democrat, although hiding it semi-well, and his Economics teacher being Too Boring As Hell to register as having any political standing. But John didn't mind, and he didn't feel the need to tell them they were wrong; it's not like they were going to change. Then again, a little discouraging grunt here and there was impossible not to give.
But Economics had one saving grace: Jessica Owen, walking Goddess. It was no coincidence that John's scores were consistently lower in Economics than any other class – even Calculus. He just couldn't stop staring at her beauty, her perfection. Referred to as 'Jessie' by her friends and enemies alike, this was the girl to whom he masturbated every night, and whom he desired above all others.
Unlike most of the pampered mouse-things John saw around, Jessie was fresh, new, original – she possessed in her a sort of raw beauty, an exotic taste of her personality outwardly manifesting itself to tease curious admires. She was not artificially tanned like most of the flirts around him, but she was not unhealthily pale, either. She had probably forgotten the natural color of her hair, but the dangerously black tufts sprouting playfully from her head in chaotic angles and patterns were so much more enjoyable to stare endlessly at. Her figure gave John the need to press himself tightly to hers, enjoying the mere feel of it, more so than the look.
Unfortunately, there was a problem: Jessie Owens was a lesbian.
No, not just any lesbian. She was The school lesbian. She was the one that had sit-ins in front of the school office, entreating the school to implement the Day of Silence. She was the one who wore rainbow shoelaces, a rainbow belt and did her nails in rainbow. She was the one who went every day after school to GSA – gay straight alliance – meetings with her girlfriend, the other school lesbian, Lauren. But what hurt most of all, was that she was the one who hated John the most.
John looked absentmindedly at the politically loaded bumper sticker. He was somewhat of 'The School Republican.' In fact, he and a few of his other friends had talked to the Dean about creating a Young Republicans Club; he was largely indifferent to it, however, and said that he could not approve of it unless a Young Democrats Club was implemented at the same time. Either way, John Laycock definitely had a bit of a reputation – one that didn't mesh nicely with Jessie Owen.
It was right before the end of the day, and the familiar buzzing of the intercom echoed around the hallways as the principal's voice droned out to the tired masses. "May I have you attention for the afternoon announcements." It was not a question. "Varsity Track will not be meeting today after school. Please contact Couch Simpson for the modified schedule. Mr. Bailey's third block Biology class is reminded to pick up their homework assignments before they leave today. Due to a conflicting schedule, the GSA will be meeting today, after school, in room 101. New members are always welcome. Thank you, and have a nice day."
The bell rang. John turned a few shades whiter.
It was his chance – it was his chance to try to make Jessie like him. Maybe not like him like him. But at least not hate him. He had thought about it before: If he managed to find away to get Jessie's respect, surely, love would follow. And what better way to do this than join her… her… Gay Club?
John inwardly cringed, feeling the color creep into his face at an alarming rate. Imagine it. Him. At a GSA meeting. God – that would be beyond humiliating.
But wasn't love worth it?
John stood slowly, feeling his wits drop out below him. If there was a chance of having Jessie hate him just a little bit less, wouldn't it be worth all the humiliation in the world to face his enemies at the GSA? If there was just a minute probability that Jessie would walk away thinking just a little better of him, wouldn't it be worth it to put his pride on the line?
John knew the answer – he knew the answer, and hated the answer. It was morality at its bitchiest: Humility was a virtue. But what about Humility in the name of Lust? In the end, Lust always won out – whether it was Lust for Flesh or Lust for Honor, it was Lust all the same. Finding himself slow down, his steps feeling unnaturally heavy in his chest cavity, John glanced suspiciously at his fellow students, cursing them for walking so damn slow and at the same time, praising them for delaying his ultimate destination: Room 101. The Republican wasn't sure whether it would cure his insanity, or make it worse – but it was a risk he was going to have to make.
Not bothering to glare off any of the curious glances his way, John shoved his pride down his pants and barged into the room.
His first instinct, as soon as everyone in the room turned their heads to him and gave him impossibly rabid stares, was to mumble something about the wrong room and walk right back out in one fluid motion. But something stopped him. John wasn't sure whether it was the way Jessie's eyeliner was perfectly applied, or the way he was sure he could outstare the six humans in the room – or even the way that he knew walking away was what everyone else expected him to do – but whatever the reason, John ignored that first instinct.
Strangely enough, after that first one, all other instincts ran away.
And thus there he was: John Laycock, school Republican, randomly showing up at an unsuspecting GSA meeting, everyone starting at him, with no ideas for what to say or do. Even a new student, completely unaware of the situation, would have sensed the massive animosity in the room.
Somewhere off to his left, a male voice rang out. It was venomous. "What do you want, Laycock?"
Ignoring the way his last name was unnecessarily pronounced, John gracefully shifted his gaze over towards the offending speaker. It was Aiden Moreau, only the gayest kid in school; the elected school Faggot.
How gay was Aiden, exactly? John inwardly cringed. Aiden was so gay, he attempted to join every sport in existence just to watch the boys strip in the locker room. Aiden was so gay, he was also a member of the school's Fashion Club, Literary Club and Drama Club. Aiden was so gay, he waxed his eyebrows, trimmed his arm hair and dyed his hair various different colors. Lately, it was obvious he had been trying to get a Rainbow Theme going, but instead he just had a massive blob of abused hair on his head laying freakishly limp around his face in an unorthodox mess of pink, blue, green and blond. What John found particularly annoying, was that it even looked professionally done – he had paid for it. Aiden was so gay that he wore makeup every single day of his life: his eyes were always surrounded by an offending amount of dark eyeliner, and his lips were always smothered with a nauseating amount of artificial color – it was always different: hot pink, lime green, silver blue, royal purple. But today, they were black.
Narrowing his eyes a bit, John met Aiden's level of pissedoffedness and raised him two points. "Nice lipstick, Moreau."
"Yeah, black. To match my mood." He took a step towards John, looking severely predatorial as he did so; John didn't bother glancing around the room. He knew there was no teacher present. Even so, despite his murderous thoughts, John refused to fight his boy; he was a good friend of Jessie's. "See, Laycock, I woke up in a bad mood this morning because I had a dream where a monstrous snake cried for sympathy because he was unloved, and then viciously devoured those who stepped forward to offer friendship."
"That's fascinating. You should really stop hitting the bong, Moreau." John mimed the act of smoking weed, meeting his thumb and index finger to his lips in a dramatic inhale.
Just as Aiden took a few threatening steps towards the unwavering John, Mr. Woodstart walked in, looking completely unsuspecting of the situation. As a rather middle-aged English teacher, gay as Hell, Mr. Woodstart was a very small, passive and helpless creature, and he was obviously horrified at the thought of needing to stop a fight between two angry, angry teenage boys.
Alas, the other GSA members caught on to this, and their love for their gentle advisor ruled above their love of Republicans getting beaten to a pulp, and decided to stop what could have a been a great fight.
"Aiden, cool it." Ah, the lovely, lovely voice of Jessie, saving John. Oh, kind, kind, beautiful creature.
Aiden, although clearly not wanting to give in, saw it in his and the club's best interest not to start anything with John. He was not stupid – the student body was much a game of politics: They barely tolerated the GSA as it was, and the last thing he needed was to severely harm a somewhat loved/respected member of their Conservative Posse – he couldn't become 'a martyr.' Aiden backed away, his expression never deviating from pure malice.
Taking a dignified step away from her girlfriend, Jessie looked at John coldly, the subzero nature of the glare freezing any rage the boy had held for Aiden. More so now than before, John realized how completely retarded it was for him to come here. He was helpless – nothing he could do could make Jessie like him more; nothing he could do to make her not be a lesbian.
And God, that annoyed him too much to even think about it any further.
Jessie spoke, her voice cool and calm, like a lonely pond in the middle of winter: "Unless you have official business with the GSA and its members, I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"I thought new members were always welcome."
There was a visible sighed and rolling of eyes in the room. Aiden took this opportunity to retaliate a bit.
"Oh, come on, Laycock. You are not going to join the GSA." He ran an aggravated hand through his Technicolor hair for effect as his delicately shaped eyebrows knitted together in frustration, the Drama lessons making themselves useful. "You have got to be kidding me."
"Way too scripted, Moreau. Way too overacted. No wonder you haven't been a lead in a play, yet." Turning back towards Jessie before Aiden could comment, John's heart melted in response to her overwhelming beauty. "I'm serious. I want to join the GSA."
The next question was all too predictable. It came from Lauren, Jessie's girlfriend, and hence the object of much jealousy. "Why?!"
"Because I can and because I want to." John hardly let the girl cut off the end of the word. Looking towards Mr. Woodstart for some Advising words, John was not surprised when all he saw was an old man flapping his mouth open and closed multiple times in shock and confusion. John sighed. "You can't deny a person membership. Like it or not, I'm in."
Only silence followed the statement, and John was extraordinarily pleased with it: it meant he had won. Almost immediately, Mr. Woodstart left to 'get a drink.' He had conquered Room 101.
Or so he had thought.
John was taken out of his victorious daze by the sickening sound of a low cackle in a remote corner of the room. Giving said corner an uneasy gaze, John was not pleased to see Aiden there, sitting on a desk, a suspiciously maniacal expression on his face.
"Fine, Laycock. Have it your way. And let me be the first one to welcome you to the Norside High School Gay-Straight Alliance." He nodded in a comically polite way, only earning a few similarly sardonic giggles across the room. It seriously freaked John out. "But I have to warn you. We have a few of our own, eh, initiation techniques."
John tilted his head to the side in what he hoped to be a cocky manner. "You mean hazing?"
"Something like that, sure." Aiden hopped of his desk, his eyes never leaving John's, his head tilted downward to give himself a bit of a devilish grin. "Don't worry, Laycock. It won't be anything dangerous. Just a little something to convince us all you're going to be a… committed member and not just some… snake. Yeah?"
There was a general murmur of consensus around the room.
John shrugged nonchalantly. "I'm not objecting, Moreau. What do I have to do?"
Aiden shrugged in an extraordinarily fake manner, this action adding nothing to his general performance skills. Besides, John was almost certain his maniacal façade would cease somewhat after he readily accepted his fate; this, however, was obviously not so. Aiden continued: "Tomorrow, during lunch, the GSA has permission to set up a table in the foyer to pass out GSA pamphlets and info. We do this every now and then to get new members – you understand. It's a great way to do so, too. We're right where everyone can see us. Right where everyone comes in. Everyone will see us." Aiden took a well timed step closer to John. "And by 'us,' Laycock, I mean you and me."
John repeated the mantra in his mind: Humility is a virtue. Good things come out of Humility. Jessie is a good thing. Humility is a virtue. Good things come out of Humility. Jessie is a good thing. Humility is a virtue. Good things come out of Humility. Jessie is a good thing. Humility…
The Republican tried his best to look like he didn't care. "Alright. I'll be there."
Aiden smiled cloyingly. "Good."
John had a feeling that Aiden was the snake, and that he was going to be devoured.