Kenneth – Bystander

Excerpt from We Don’t Say Gay at Tranquility Bay

Kenneth Olsen kept his head down behind the lockers. He heard every word they said then heard the coaches climb the stairs to their office a floor above. He peeped over the lockers to stare at Nick.

His lab partner stood there, holding the mop and staring at the floor he’d just cleaned. What a pathetic mess. Kenneth’s pity mingled with fury. He just lets them piss on him, and he does nothing! Why’d he ever come out in the first place? Didn’t he realize what would happen?

Kenneth shook his head. No way am I ever going to be like him, he reassured himself. Nobody’s ever going to piss on me. No sir, I’d rather die.

But there was something so damned attractive about Nick. Even standing alone, defeated, mopping up the evidence of Julian’s cruelty, a certain attitude in his bearing promised a future reckoning. There’s a strength in that guy I wish I had.

He’d never been strong as a kid, always been picked last for teams, and still couldn’t complete a chin up successfully. When Dad finally let him ride the Suzuki for the first time he’d got two miles away and dropped it. Kenneth couldn’t pick it up and Dad came to get him.

I may not be strong physically, but I’m strong mentally.

He counted on his intellect, devising strategies and plans for getting through each day. He kept his eyes down, walked away from confrontation if he saw it coming, and suffered through it if he couldn’t. He worked hard on his grades, preparing for graduation and escape from T. Bay High. Only this year and next left to go. After that, I’ve got no clue what’ll happen or where I’ll go, but anything has to be better than this.

He stayed hidden until Nick finished and disappeared in back to store the mop. Kenneth slipped out before he returned and the football players came in to dress out for practice. Invisibility is the only way to go.



Expected Publication Date: June 1, 2022

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