I first met Joachim at a house party, when his face suddenly became more acquainted with my lap. He smelled like cheap booze and cigarettes. “I’ve fallen,” he lamented, his face pressed against my thigh, “and I can’t get up.”
I didn’t realize what sort of trouble I was in from that moment on. However, before I get ahead of myself, let’s get the back story out of the way.
I moved to Middle of Nowhere, Nevada not of my own free will, but because I was forced by my parents. I was sixteen at the time of Doomsday, a sophomore in a public high school in Los Angeles. Let me say first that I had rough time in that particular school, mostly because I had the brains to do well without trying and a mother who dressed me with impeccable taste. She was a French fashion designer, after all, and she’d told me time and time again, “I can’t have my son dressing like a plebian. You’re too good looking for that.”
She had me homeschooled until sophomore year, convinced by my father at that time that I needed to spend more time around kids my age and less time around models and photographers. My first day of real school was in the middle of the fall semester.
I had never hated the designer jeans, expensive vests, and exotic shoes until I stepped in to that public school and could see all eyes were on me. A few of the girls blushed and giggled to each other, several of the guys standing around eyed me with disgust. I was different, unique, and an instant target. I learned later that every inch of me screamed “FAGGOT”, that in this world so apart from the one I’d been raised in I was either going to fight or lose my soul.
I chose to fight. Every day that I came home my mother asked me the same inane question.
“How was school, darling?”
“It was fine.”
River View High School was anything but fine. I could count the number of times that I walked down the hall without hearing a spiteful remark on one hand. The laughter when the teacher handed a paper back to me with an A at the top was always present. I walked through my days at that school in a daze, wondering where the beauty I’d seen in the world had gone to. My mother had taught me to appreciate everything with the eye of an artist, to seek out beauty hiding in filth. I couldn’t appreciate that place. There was only filth.
Once a month there was a random locker check for guns, drugs, and other items that weren’t friendly for school. It seemed like half of the students were drug dealers, while the other half were buying something from the drug dealers. None of them ever got caught, leading our obese, balding principal to believe that his school was substance free.
“Maaaan, fuck that shit, y’know what I’m sayin’? I got a connection on the inside. He lets me know when shit’s about to go down.”
It was this day, otherwise known as Doomsday, January 15th, that I formulated a plan to get myself out of that hell. I wasn’t a saint; I’d been drinking practically since I was born. For the entire month of January, and then February, I kept a bottle of Jose Cuervo in my locker, nestled between my American Literature book and a pair of Michael Kors jeans.
January, as I found out later, was the month when the fucking principal decided the locker checks were unnecessary. I thought I was going to puke when I realized it. It was the beginning of March. I wasn’t going to stay there any longer.
So, without any remorse, I walked up to my Algebra II teacher, a charming man in his mid-forties, and punched him square in the nose.
I broke it. There was lots of blood, too.
Sitting in the principal’s office wasn’t the scariest thing, I think. It was more the expression on my mother’s aristocratic, pointed face that said she was going to cut up my body and bury the pieces in every corner of the world. I swallowed heavily and looked away from her the whole time.
Mr. Lancet didn’t press charges, thankfully. I think it was because he was scared I might hit him again, but I never got the chance to ask him.
I have to apologize at this point for rushing the past so much. I prefer to skip over the unhappy parts of my life as much as I possibly can, and that was just one big unhappy mess.
Well, my sophomore year had a semi-happy ending. I breezed through independent study and was caught up enough to be a junior by the end of summer. That was the point where things turned to shit.
“You’re sending me where?” I asked as calmly as I could, my voice wavering.
My mother looked at me with her solemn hazel eyes, the ones that I’d inherited, tapping her fingertips together in a steady rhythm. “I’m going to be working on my new collection and your father is away on business,” she said patiently, pursing her lips. “I don’t want you to be alone so much this year and I don’t want public school to trouble you any longer. I’ve decided that you’re going to a boarding school in Nevada, one for troubled boys who need a little discipline and routine in their lives.”
The sound of my heart shattering in to a million horrible pieces was music to her ears, I think, because she smiled and reached out to pat me on the shoulder. “Mon petit chou. I knew you’d understand.”