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 Chapter 32: Sunken

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Kell
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PostSubject: Chapter 32: Sunken   Mon Sep 02, 2013 6:56 am

"Well, it looks like I'm getting a DJ for the prom," I said to Travis. We were at the carnival which was being hosted in the park. Even though I wasn't big on being here, I had to admit it looked nice. Plus, the music that a DJ up on the main stage was playing seemed to be liked by everyone around. My personal taste in music wouldn't be good enough for prom, so I needed to learn what people liked to hear. As Travis nodded in agreement, I decided I would ask the DJ if he wanted the gig at prom.

"Hey Connor!"

We turned around to see a few girls walking toward us. I recognized them from our grade, but I wasn't good with social skills. In case you didn't know.

"Hey Andie," Travis said.

"Hi Travis," the main girl smiled at him. She looked back to me. "Connor, do you know what music you're gonna be getting us for the prom?"

"Uh, no, not really. I haven't given it too much though. How come?" I asked.

"Because we LOVE this song!" she waved her hands & pointed upwards. I assumed she meant the song that the DJ was currently playing. "Could you make sure this song is on? Please please please please please?" the other girls all clasped their hands together, begging me.

"Suuure," I laughed. "In fact, it'd really help me out if you guys could send me a list of songs you'd want over Facebook. That way I can figure out what the most popular songs are you guys wanna hear & put them all together."

"Ok, that sounds good," Andie smiled. "See ya guys," she said as they started to walk off.

"Well, that was easy," Travis piped.

"Yeah. The only problem of course is that I'm gonna hate all the music I get but whatever."

"Oh c'mon. Who knows? maybe some of them songs you'll actually like enough to get a bit of a dancin' leg to," he did a hillbilly jig.

"Hey guys!"

"Boy, you're popular tonight, ain't ya," Travis said as we turned around to see Jordan Nolan approaching us.

"Hey, what's up?" Travis said. I nodded a hello.

"Not much. One of you guys wanna sit in for a round of Truth or Dunk?" he said, nodding over his shoulder.

"What's that?" I asked.

"Well it's over by the dunk tank. Anyone around can pick up a ball & try to hit the thing & dunk you, obviously. But, if you get dunked, you have to answer any question the thrower asks when you come back up."

"What kinds of questions?" I asked.

"Anything. But most people are sticking to little things like 'what did you get on that test in class' or 'what do you wanna do in life'. Simple questions like that."

"You should do it," Travis patted me on the back.

"I will consider it...if you definitely do it," I replied.

"Ok!" he said excitedly. I wasn't expecting that.

"C'mon guys!" Jordan said. We followed him to another area of the carnival where the dunk tank was. There were dozens of people standing around it. Lots of them were drenched in their clothes, obviously haven been dunked at one point or another. People were shrieking & laughing with joy as the current person on the seat suddenly crashed into the chilly water below.

"You first," I said to Travis. He pulled his phone & wallet out & handed them to me as he went with Jordan to get up onto the seat.

"All right!" Jordan called out. "Who wants to try to dunk Mr. Travis Dole?? Our favorite jock from down yonder!" Jordan playfully put out a southern accent & grabbed his junk.

"I'm from a farm in Oklahoma, not the bayous of Louisiana," Travis laughed.

"Same diffrunce to us city folk," Jordan said as we all laughed. "Who wants to go first?"

"I will!" someone called out. When I looked to see who it was, it was Mr. Dell, my chem teacher from when I first met Travis. It was weird seeing a teacher outside of school. Especially at something, you know, fun.

Mr. Dell was handed a ball by Jordan & after he stood back behind the yellow line about 15 feet away, pitched it. It was close. But not close enough to hit the handle & cause Travis to fall into the water.

"Mr. Dell, I'm glad you went into teaching & not baseball," Travis called out. All of us in the crowd oooh'd at the comment. Mr. Dell smiled & said, "I regret passing you now, Mr. Dole," which was met with laughs. I knew I liked him.

"Who's next?" Jordan said.

For the next several minutes, person after person took a chance & tried to dunk Travis. But each person missed. Jordan & Travis went back & forth with some banter, encouraging the crowd to keep trying to see who could dunk him.

"Hey," someone said next to me. I turned my head. It was Jacob.

"Hey, what's up?"

"Not too much," he smiled, looking back to Travis on the booth. "He looks awful dry up there."

"Yeah well no one has hit it yet. I have half a mind to go over there & hit the thing," I laughed.

"That doesn't surprise me. You always were one to pull that kind of shit," he snickered.

"Hey I can be the conscientious one when I want," I shot back.

"Of course," he rolled his eyes.

"I totally can be!"

"All right," he said, "then try to dunk Travis the fair way. Give it a throw."

"What? No, I'm havin' more fun watching."

"Anyone else wanna give it a go?" Jordan said.

"Connor does!" Jacob pointed a finger at me.

"What?! No, I don't!" I protested.

"C'mon Connor, try it. Maybe you'll be the lucky shot," Jordan said.

"Connor! Connor! Connor!" Jacob started chanting mockingly, soon getting the crowd around us to chant with him. As I waved my arms in front of me, I moved backwards, only to be pushed forward by the crowd.

"Ahhh leave him alone guys," Travis waved at them. "I'm starting to like this tan I'm gettin'!" he grinned at me.

Not to be outdone, I gave him a crooked look & then made up my mind.

"All right, give me that," I laughed as I snatched the ball from Jordan. The people started to chant my name again as I aimed my throw. Jacob patted me on the back. I glanced at Travis quickly, only to see him challenging me with his eyes.

I threw the ball.

Suddenly, the clang of metal was followed with a splash as Travis disappeared into the water beneath him!

I threw my arms up in the air as everyone around cheered loudly, getting another fix to see someone finally dunked. Jacob smiled at me as I laughed about showing up Travis & that smug little act he gave me a second ago. Looking over, Travis surfaced.

"All right, Connor, you can ask Travis any question you want," Jordan said.

"Hmm," I pondered. "Ok then. Travis, how's the water?"

"It's fffffreezing!" he answered. Everyone laughed. "Your turn now!" Oh no!

"Yeah, not happening," I replied. Travis jumped out of the tank & walked swiftly over to me. Grabbing me, he started to tug me toward the tank. "We'll see about that," he laughed. Just then, I felt Jordan, Jacob & others push me forward.

"No!!!" I started laughing, trying desperately not to get anywhere near that water.

"C'mon, it's only fair!"

Soon enough however, between the pushing & the cheering, I was finally brought to the tank. "Oh all right!" I gave up. Kicking off my shoes & handing my personal belongings to Travis, I rolled up my jean bottoms & climbed up onto the seat. I dipped my toes in. It WAS freezing! Oh man, what had I gotten myself into?

"Ok, who wants to try to dunk Mr. Connor Truman??" Jordan called out.

To no surprise, Travis was first to step up. Jordan handed him the ball & in no time, Travis was aiming & throwing the ball right at the target. Fortunately for me, he just clipped the edge, not really hitting it. The crowd sounded disappointed in not seeing a public display of vengeance.

"Hey Travis," I said as he looked to me, "stick to tennis."

I laughed with the crowd as Travis shook his head but with a smile creeping onto his lips.

"Who's next?"

"Me!"

I looked over to see Chris, with Val on his arm, approaching the area.

"Well if it isn't Connor's brother Chirs!" Jordan said. "What's up kid?" he nodded to my brother. Some other people in the crowd greeted Chris warmly. Like I've said before, he always was more popular than me.

"Not too much. Lemme have a go!" he said.

Chris took a shot. But, like Travis, he missed. After him, Val took a turn. Being a girl however, she nearly hit me in the head, causing me to almost fall off the seat. The crowd playfully jeered at her, which she took well. Next up, Jacob had a go but missed as well. I was enjoying this so far.

"I see what you were talking about Travis, about that tan," I said.

Several more people came up & tried but the closest they got was just nicking the edges of the target.

"Does anyone have a book?" I asked jokingly after a while.

"All right, before this goes on any longer, I'm gonna try," Jordan said.

Some people clapped as Jordan walked over to behind the line, happy to see Jordan trying himself. I heard some people cheer his name.

"Jordan, you might wanna go back to the sidelines 'cause I'm ready to look good for the summer with a nice glow," I teased.

"Yeah, we'll see about that," he smiled. He wound up & pitched the ball. Right on target!

No sooner did I hear the clang of contact than I sunk into the icy tank water. I immediately stood up & breathed out loud my displeasure for the temperature of the water. I was shivering instantly. The crowd was cheering, happy to see the end of my reign. I moved my matted bangs out of my eyes as I looked over to Jordan.

"Question time!" Jordan said.

"If you ask me how the water is, I'm gonna k-k-kill you," I laughed, shivering.

"Nope, not that."

"All right, then ask away," I said, expecting something like what my favorite bubblegum flavor was or my earliest childhood memory.

"Ok," he said. "Connor Truman! Are you gay?"

Some voices in the crowd murmured to each other at the question. I froze as I stared in shock right at Jordan, who was looking back at me like he had asked what my middle name was. How could he even BEGIN to think that was ok, just asking me that in public out of NOWHERE?!

Travis saw the look on my face & stepped in. "That's kind of personal, what about something else?"

"No, it's my question. Connor, it's no big deal, I just wanna know if you're gay. Nobody cares," he tried to convince me.

Regaining my composure, I climbed out of the tank, grabbed a towel off a nearby rack & decided to leave. As I walked past the crowd, who was whispering to each other, I heard Jordan say, "Connor, what's the big deal?"

I lowered my head in embarrassment & wrapped the towel around me as I stormed off. Travis, Jacob & Chris, without Val, quickly began to follow behind me.

"Connor, wait up," Travis said.

"Yeah, I'm sure he didn't think you were still uneasy telling people," Jacob added.

"Just leave me alone," I said, barely above a whisper.

"Connor," Chris said, "I think—"

"I SAID LEAVE ME ALONE!" I turned around & snapped at the three of them, causing some people near us to look over. They stopped in their tracks. Turning back around, I continued walking, hugging the blanket close to me. I felt my face cringe as I fought to hold back tears.

**********

Later that night as I was watching tv, my parents walked in from a night out. Chris was home too, but had mostly avoided me by staying in his room.

"Hey sweetie, how was your day?" my mom asked as they took their coats off. I didn't answer.

They looked at me, then at each other & then back to me. "Connor, your mom asked you a question."

"It was fine," I lied.

"Are you sure? You sound upset," my dad said.

"I said it was fine," I repeated.

"Well then what's with the mood?"

Pissed off, I slammed the remote control down on the coffee table & stood up, heading to my room.

"Hey! Knock it off with the attitude...Connor!" my mom called after me. I ignored her.

Slamming my door closed, I decided to go to sleep even though it was only 9. As I undressed for bed, my anger left me & was filled once more with sadness & embarrassment. I couldn't believe Jordan had humiliated me like that in front of all those people. And what was worse was that my reaction couldn't have said 'yes' any more clearly to everyone around. Now everybody knew. I had been publicly outed.

I crawled into bed, shut my light off & faced my window. A minute later, I heard my door open.

"Connor?" my mom said.

"Go away," I said, sad.

"What's the matter?"

"Nothing."

"Why don't you wanna talk about it? Did you get into a fight with Travis? Did something happen at school?"

"Just leave me alone," I closed my eyes.

"Honey..."

"LEAVE ME ALONE! PLEASE!" I cried as I turned into my pillow.

A moment passed before I heard my mother quietly back out of my room & close my door. I sobbed myself to sleep that night.

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