You can do this.
You can do this.
You can’t do this.
Mike Crawford hated gym class, despised it. His hatred didn’t come from a lack of athleticism, as a matter of fact he thought himself quite manageable in most sports. It also didn’t come from his social standing. He may not have been popular but he was never picked last for anything, he was never made the butt of any joke. In all honesty those fifty minutes of playtime were some of the most fun any 15 year old kid could have at school, and Mike was no exception. It was just the God damned showers.
These showers were the bane of his existence. The shower room was a completely empty, eggshell colored room. It had twelve showerheads attached to the walls only a few feet apart from each other. There was not a single wall separating one boy from another, and the entire place reeked of a long expired carton of milk.
Every time Mike looked into the room he could feel his heart sink into his stomach. The color of the wall made the entire room seem insignificant yet giant at the same time. The very thought of stepping into it made Mike feel that he would be lost in it’s grasps forever. Mike’s very instincts told him that this room was a place that was not to be entered.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Mike knew he shouldn’t swear. His Mama had taught him that and raised him right. Even so he couldn’t help himself as he made his way to his assigned locker. Everyone around him began to throw off their clothes as they prepared their trips to the shower. Oh, if they only knew, Mike thought, what would they do to me?
Mike untied his shoes, taking extra care to make sure the laces were packed in tight before placing them in his locker. Then came his socks, and this was when his eyes began to wander. Jeffrey Dern was undressing four lockers down, now clad only in a shirt and his underwear. Mike watched as Jeffrey lifted his shirt over his head, his breath increasing in pace ever so slightly. He let his eyes wander down Jeffrey’s body. Mike knew that Jeffrey was one of the most popular guys in school, at least with the girls he was. That in turn made him a hero with the guys. Rumor had it that Jeffrey had slept with four girls since school had started and he had no intention of slowing down.
Mike let his eyes trail down past Jeffrey’s well-defined chest, across his developing abs and towards his navel. Jeffrey fortunately had not noticed a thing. He slipped his fingers underneath the waistband of his boxers and…
A slamming locker to Mike’s right side snapped him out of his trance.
“Crawford, are you gonna shower, or are you going to stand there all day?”
It was Coach Stevens. Crap, Mike thought, had he seen me watching Jeffrey?
“Yes, sir, on my way sir.”
Coach Stevens had no idea why the Crawford kid would always treat him like a drill sergeant, but he didn’t pay it too much attention. What he did pay attention to was the manner in which Mike was just ogling that Dern boy.
Mike quickly threw off his shirt and his shorts, leaving him in only his briefs as he grabbed a towel and wrapped it around his waist. Mike heard someone scoff behind him but paid it no mind. The coach watched him as he approached the showers, and then made his departure, leaving Mike alone with his twenty classmates.
There was no hiding here, Mike thought, he knew that no matter how hard he tried to conceal it the room knew his secrets. It knew and he had no way of protecting himself from it.
Three people were already showering. Elmer Mears, the mayor’s little handmaiden, as he was known around the school, had taken the showerhead at the far left corner. Billy Crick had taken the first showerhead he saw, clearly in an attempt to get in and out of this shower as soon as possible. Daniel Steel had taken the center showerhead, keeping equal distance away from both other occupants, and had his back to the wall giving Mike a clear view of his…
Jeffrey bumped past Mike and took a showerhead in between Billy and Daniel.
You can’t do this, the room whispered to him.
He entered and made a quick turn to get to the showerhead across from the other guys. It left him good and alone at the moment, but he suddenly got scared that his isolation would make him a focal point for the others. Too late to turn back now. He tossed his towel through the ring hanging on the wall and took a minute to try to adjust to the horrible smell that began to fill his nostrils. Futile. He turned the showerhead on and screamed.
Fuck that was cold! Mike heard Jeffrey and Daniel laugh but refused to turn around to meet their eyes. Fortunately the room had already begun to fill with steam, so anyone’s vision beyond their own bodies would soon be limited. Mike made the water warmer and slowly disposed of his underwear. He placed it on his towel but it immediately slipped and his attempt to catch it fail. Another laugh from Jeffrey as Mike watched his underwear get soaked on the shower’s floor. No use picking it up now.
Mike turned his attention to the shower. He let the water hit him square in the face. Perhaps the water could “clean” his mind. He went through this every single day. The locker room. The boys. The laughing. It never stopped. Sometimes he wished he was like Elmer. Everyone’s punching bag. He was the one who would always get picked last, he was the one who was teased, and he was the one who probably hated gym class more than anyone else in school. Still, stuck in this shower, Mike would have given anything to switch bodies with even him.
Mike grabbed his soap and began running it over his body, washing away the filth that came with the boy’s new pubescent sweat. He ran it down his arms, around his neck, and over his chest. He washed his stomach and made his way down to his legs. Instead of bending over, Mike let his knees bend and crouched down in a fetal position to wash them. There was another chuckle from behind. Once he had washed in between his toes he came up and gave a quick look around him, the steam had intensified and he couldn’t see anyone attempting to stare him down. I guess it’s only me that does that then, he thought.
He let the soap come into contact with his groin. He was almost hugging the wall now, desperately trying to hide from anyone’s view. He scrubbed gently but fervently and let the water wash away any suds that formed. As he washed his thoughts began to wander. He had barely begun to grow hair down there around two weeks ago. Everyone else seemed to have hair already. They all also seemed to be more gifted as well down there. Mike let his head sink at the thought. He didn’t have to be teased by anyone else; he knew he didn’t have much down there. He doubted that he ever would.
His mind drifted to Jeffrey. In reality everyone in that shower now, the population had just reached nine, envied Jeffrey and his “little” friend. Mike thought about the first time he had seen Jeffrey, his jaw had nearly dropped. It looked nothing like his own. He had taken the time to scan the locker room and showers on future occasions, and while no one seemed to reach the lengths that Jeffrey did, they all seemed to be leaving Mike trailing behind.
I hate him, Mike thought, it’s all his fault. Stupid Jeffrey with all his girlfriends. Stupid Jeffrey with that stupid smirk. Stupid Jeffrey with that great body. Stupid Jeffrey showing off every day. Stupid
It happened in an instant. Daniel was the first to point and laugh. Elmer noticed and joined in. Soon the entire shower was staring right at Mike, pointing and laughing. Mike let himself fall in embarrassment. He landed hard on his thigh and tried to cover up his mid-section with his hands. He felt himself begin to lose consciousness. He wanted to die.
“Boner!” “Boner!” “Boner!” “Look at the little fag!” “What a tiny dick!”
Mike desperately tried to shut them all out but it was useless. He could run, but his legs wouldn’t dare move. And where would he go? Would he start running down the hallways naked, determined to never return again. Anyone who had been in the locker rooms had now barged in to see what the cause of laughter was and joined in. Mike had his eyes sealed shut and didn’t hear the footsteps approaching him.
He was too frightened, too embarrassed, too furious with himself. A hand touched his shoulder and his eyes shot open, full of fire, extinguished by forthcoming tears. He inched his eyes upward and saw Jeffrey standing over him. The hand on his shoulder was warm, friendly almost. Mike felt a strong inclination to get up and throw himself into Jeffrey’s arms. Jeffrey had come to save him, to protect him. Everything was going to be ok.
The thought only flashed through Mike’s mind for a second. His eyes turned from relief to fear as he watched Jeffrey raise his arm and curl it into a fist. Mike released his grip on his crotch in an attempt to block his face but he wasn’t fast enough. Jeffrey’s fist went flying into Mike’s cheek. The pain was sharp, Mike was sure that Jeffrey had just broken his teeth and sent them crumbling down his throat.
“That will teach you to keep staring at me, you fucking fag,” Jeffrey said as he stood up and spit on Mike’s head. Mike had lost control of his body, his arms were at his side and any arousal he had felt earlier was completely gone. His eyes wandered from Jeffrey, whom he had admired not five minutes ago, to the pool of blood now mixing with the water and spiraling down the drain. He felt the water hit his lifeless body, each drop a dull thud against his empty carcass.
Just finish me off now, Mike thought. The blood was filling up his throat and Mike thought about just letting it fill up his lungs so he could suffocate. Just kill me already.
And as Jeffrey lifted his foot it seemed as though he was about to do just that.
“What the hell is going on here?”
Coach Steven’s thunderous roar immediately stopped all laughter. He looked at the gruesome scene before him, All the boys gathered around a limp, bleeding Mike Crawford. Jeffrey standing over him, foot all but ready to break Mike a new one. Mike began to cough and spurts of blood began to fly out in every direction, covering Jeffrey’s feet as well as the floor.
“Get the hell away from him!” he yelled. Everyone obliged. “Jeffrey Dern, principal, now. The rest of you finish up and get the hell out of my gym. You come with me.” He turned off the water and threw the towel that was on the ring over Mike. Stevens bent down and helped Mike, still shaking in shock, up to his feet. Mike looked at the room with his blood on the tile and it seemed to mock him.
I told you you couldn’t do it, it said.