His head hit the metal gym locker with a resounding thud, he crumpled down to the floor. “Stay down you little faggot!!” A chorus of laughter bounced about the tiled locker-room as the group of seniors left, a cacophony of hate was all he heard.
He changed out of his sweaty gym clothes, never once thinking about taking a shower and left for his fourth period English Literature class. He smelled like his locker, but what did it matter, people hated him anyway. Walking down the hall towards room 210, he kept his head down watching his shoes, avoiding eye contact at all costs. Somehow eye contact gave people the invitation to make a comment about his appearance and/or sexuality. He even avoided his own gaze in the mirror each morning, not wanting to face his harshest critic. He had brushed his teeth that morning staring at a crack in the wall and thought….what about today?
Mrs. Langston was talking about the poet W. H. Auden, one of his favorites. Born in England, Auden had become an American citizen in 1946. He knew Auden was gay like him, and also knew this fact would not be mentioned, thank goodness. He drew much comfort in reading poetry. He wondered if that was part of his genetic defect…did being a queer, loving poetry, and Lady Gaga reside on the same genetic marker of his DNA strand? A quick smile appeared and happiness filled him for a fleeting moment. If only he could catch hold of it…
The bell sounded and his school day ended, he left out the back door of C-Hall. Crossing the field to the shopping center quickly, he periodically looked back to see if they were following him. Two times the previous week they had caught him in the muddy field. The last time had been the worst day of his life. It had been three days since they had drug him into the thicket of pine trees behind the very strip mall he was now passing.
They had repeatedly hit him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. What came next was so demoralizing he knew he could never relate it to his parents or any other. “So you like it up the ass, do ya??!!” He left his body, he didn’t remember what happened after that…the next conscious memory he had was dressing for school the next morning. The soreness he felt sucked the life out of him…a broken boy on his way to class. Happiness so foreign to him, a smile so distant in his past, that no one noticed a difference in him that day, not even his own mother.
He entered the back door of his house, drank a glass of milk and then found what he was looking for in the attached garage. He had inspected the length the previous day and found it to be adequate. Now outside, he looked upward and took in a deep gulp of the cold Autumn air. Peace greeted him, the sickening feeling that had enveloped him the last three days was leaving.
A slight breeze moved the branches of the trees in a syncopated rhythm with him….back and forth. The comforting, grotesque dance with the body lasted for several minutes…then the wind took its leave and there was utter stillness.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
They had committed a homicide that day, they had ended him. If it took two steps to erase his existence, they had surely done the first one. He, himself, had completed the last stanza of his tragic prose.
The wave of support was quick and vocal at the school. The bullying had to stop….gay children must know that IT GETS BETTER was the battle cry. But what about now….thought his mother….what about now? Why did my son have to wait until he grew up for the pain to stop? What about today?
**The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
(**Excerpts from “Funeral Blues” 1938 W. H. Auden)