By Justin Shaffer
I recently read a book by the great English author Anthony Burgess (best known for his classic novella A Clockwork Orange) called The Wanting Seed, which took place in a future world so overpopulated that homosexuality was encouraged as a "natural" means of controlling the human population. Those who were known to be "homo" were considered to be in the highest tier of Burgess' fictional society, so much so that one pivotal character actually fakes his "homosexuality" in order to work his way up in the shifting government.
As a gay young man, I became very interested in this concept of widespread social acceptance of homosexuality, and with the concept of a world in which homosexuality is so glorified that people would actually fake being gay in order to climb the social ladder. This idea of "closeted heterosexuality" intrigued me so much that I began pondering exactly how such a shift in perception of alternative sexualities (namely homosexuality) could ever happen in American society as we know it today. I decided that the most likely place that such a shift would begin would be a high school, where a large group of young, pubescent, and impressionable boys gathers for five days a week for three-quarters of a year, and are often ignorant (or apathetic) of the political landscape of the world outside their social bubble. That's where the germ of this story was born.
There are some issues that will arise in this story that may make some readers uncomfortable, so I would advise one to read at his or her own discretion. Of course, I do not condone sexual promiscuity at any age, especially in high school, and I wish to emphasize that I do not recommend that any high school boys attempt to stage a sexual revolution at their high schools. Furthermore, it must be said that the condom is the most important invention in the history of man, so one should do him/herself, his/her partner, and his/her country's health care system a favor and use them.
This story earns its "T" rating due to strong language and sexual situations, not due to its homosexual content. This is, after all, the 21st century.
Any and all reviews will be read and appreciated, but I must ask my readers to please not attempt to use my story as a political, moral, or religious soapbox. I am sincerely not interested in anybody's opinions concerning these subjects.
Also, if one does not understand the allusion used in the title of this story, then I would suggest one read the transcripts of Oscar Wilde's libel trial.
Mikael Adams was Jude Tomas' best friend in the entire world, there was no doubt about that. They were there for each other from the very beginning; they met when they were five years old and never looked back. Through the years, they were the only constants in each other's lives -- they were at each other's houses as often as their own, and they knew each other better than their own mothers knew them. Not that that's saying much: Jude was practically invisible at home when his older brother was around, and Mikael wasn't much more acknowledged by his folks, unless his old man was drunk and looking for a punching bag.
Because of their close relationship, by the time they were in middle school, rumors had begun circulating about their private lives together. By the end of their eighth grade year, Jude had become known behind his (and Mikael's) back as "Adams' bitch", mostly thanks to the fact that his small and skinny frame paled in comparison to Mikael's taller, bigger, and stronger build. To be fair, the rumors weren't entirely unsubstantiated. Middle and high school are supposed to be the times in a young man's life when childhood friendships begin to give way to more romantic exploits, but the two boys still spent nearly every waking moment together, and neither of them showed much interest in the opposite sex during their preteen and teen years.
Not that Mikael couldn't have gotten it if he'd wanted it. It was the general consensus among the female population of Spring Hill High that he was the most attractive boy in school: he was tall, slim, and strong with blond hair and blue eyes -- pretty much the textbook Calvin Klein underwear model. As a result, he had just about every girl in the school on his tail, but he would have none of it. For one, most of these girls "wanted" Mikael for one reason and one reason only: his penis. They didn't even know him, much less cared to have a relationship with him; they just wanted to get him into bed one time and be done with him. Mikael had no interest in this "fuck-and-dump" system preferred by most of America's teenage population -- he would rather have had a meaningful relationship without any sex at all than an empty one with a girl he fucked every night. That was probably the chief difference between Mikael and Jude their freshman year of high school: Mikael could have gotten laid at any given time and chose not to, while Jude, with his slight build, plain black hair, and average hazel eyes, had just given up on finding any girl who would touch him with a ten-foot pole.
Besides, Mikael was far too interested in playing the piano to busy himself with the antics of hormonal teenage girls, and for good reason. Everybody knew that the kid was a prodigy in the truest sense of the word, and he flourished in it. Classical piano was his life, and for years Jude would love nothing more than to sit at his friend's house and listen to him play.
Unfortunately, kids used Mikael's love for classical music and talent at the piano to fuel the vicious rumors that circulated around the school and the community -- rumors with which he was all too familiar. It wasn't uncommon, after all, for either he or Jude to hear remarks about their own sexualities invariably based around the word "faggot" murmured behind their backs as they passed through the halls at school. It also wasn't uncommon for Mikael to bloody the nose of some poor boy unfortunate enough to have had the gall to blurt the word to his face. And it was even less uncommon for the boys to sit behind the batting cages down at the neighborhood park and talk about such fools and assholes because, while they were well aware of the reputation they had gained around Spring Hill, they couldn't have cared less. They would have each other's backs no matter what anybody said about them.
But while Jude had never really taken any of the rumors seriously, there had come a time when he began to think about exactly why they had begun to circulate in the first place. Mikael and he never really talked about their relationship much, mostly because there was never really anything to talk about. There was no "why" or "how" concerning their friendship; it just was, forever had been, and always would be, forever and ever, amen. Jude loved Mikael, of course, but it was in the way that a boy might love his brother or his dog; the relationship was just simple and natural, and that was that.
During the summer between their freshman and sophomore years, however, Jude started to ask himself exactly what he loved about Mikael Adams. It turned out that there was a lot to love, which probably shouldn't have surprised him, but it did. He would sit in his room for hours at night -- after having spent all day with Mikael, usually -- and write down things as they came to him; by the time school was getting ready to start, he had three full pages of reasons why he loved his best friend, which had essentially become three full pages of signs that he may be in love with his best friend.
Some of the things on this list were fairly obvious and therefore did not surprise him much. For instance, he knew that he absolutely adored Mikael's musical abilities, which extended beyond the piano to encompass the guitar, acoustic bass, trumpet, and percussion, as well as just a general knowledge of the theory and history of music from the Middle Ages until today. Mikael was Jude's own personal encyclopaedia musica, and he simply loved to hear Mikael play any of his instruments, especially the piano, at which he excelled so splendidly.
Jude also knew that he loved the way that Mikael spoke; he had the most impeccable grammar and broadest vocabulary of anybody the boy knew. The blond also had a bizarre accent, having trained himself out of the typical Ohioan dialect, which he considered crude and "hickish". As it happens, Mikael's parents were British television enthusiasts, and he had picked up a slight English accent by emulating the speech that he'd heard from tapes of programs like Doctor Who and Monty Python's Flying Circus from a very young age. Jude thought that Mikael's unusual hybrid accent made him sound distinguished, which he guessed was probably exactly what his friend was going for.
It was other things on his list, however, that really caught Jude's attention -- things that he had seemingly not even noticed about Mikael for the ten years that he had known him, but suddenly seemed the most important to the brunette on those hot summer nights at his desk. These were the things that brought butterflies to the boy's stomach when he thought about them, and that really made him question exactly what kind of relationship he had -- or wanted to have -- with Mikael.
Jude loved the deep, cool blue of Mikael's eyes and the way that they fit him perfectly, accenting themselves against his mop-top blond hair. He loved that when Mikael smiled, he looked like he was ten years old again, back before reality had invaded their perfect carefree world together. Jude loved the way Mikael's not-quite six-pack abs felt against his back when they wrestled in the public swimming pool nearly every day in the summer, and he loved how -- even though Mikael probably had twenty pounds on him -- the bigger boy was more graceful than Jude could ever dream of being with a football in his hands, evading tackle after tackle on his way to the end zone and six points.
But most of all, Jude loved how the hair on the back of his neck stood up when he was near Mikael, talked to him, or sometimes even just saw him. He loved how his loins ached at the thought of the boy holding him, caressing him, loving him. And that's how Jude Tomas finally knew that he loved Mikael Adams more than he had ever imagined that he could. That's how he knew that he was in love with his best friend.