Darnell, better known to everyone as Darn-it, woke me around dawn as usual to start getting ready for school. Mornings in LA sometimes took on an odd feel that early. From our spot in the far end of the alley, Hollywood blvd. looks like some weird TV show depicting almost every kind of American. There are business folk, gardeners, mothers with children and everyone sails on by. It always makes me feel small but I don’t mind because then I can watch without being noticed.
You might be asking yourself why this guy is called Darn-it.
Darnell’s father was a ‘fake’ minister when Darnell was little and was not suppose to curse. He would say “Darn-it” Darnell why did you do that? He said it so much, it stuck. After only knowing Darn-it a short time I knew how his Father felt.
I always watch while Darn-it wakes up the others. Now-a-days, we all sleep in a big pile with the girls in the middle. We’ve been doing that since some pervy guys tried to drag Rainbow and Dana away in the night to rape them or whatever. We fought them off, but we’re not taking any chances. Girls are more valuable than boys on the street. Well, we all have worth to someone or we wouldn’t have lasted a week out here.
I have been here for a little less than 4 years on and off. I go to my parents or relatives to get new clothes or soak in a tub or if it gets way to cold or crazy out here. The cold is one of the worst parts for me. Sleeping on concrete sucks all of the heat out of your bones.
As everyone wakes up and starts to move around, I count like I do every morning. I count every person, every bag and every pair of shoes. Sometimes a new person shows up near us or someone’s bag that holds most of their life is missing. One time, I woke to find I was cuddled up with two guys I had never seen before. I was freaked, but they acted like it was the most normal of all things. This morning it is us 6 + Dana’s friend Bitty as in Itty Bitty (real name Coyote Brown Day). She found us in Plumber Park. She asked Dana to ask if she could hang with us for a while because she got attacked about a week ago at a group home in the Valley. She’s cool enough and all of us like her. She looks 12 instead of her 16 years because she’s so small.
At the beginning of last year, I talked everyone into going to school. This project has lasted longer than I thought it would; everyone goes at least once or twice a week. It’s not easy. I go most of the time, and since it’s my project I feel like I have to. Rainbow and Dana are going to skip today because of Bitty being around. I had already learned not to ask if anyone was going because asking is sure way to get your head bitten off in the morning. If they are going they will say so or just come with me. I announce that I want to go to Joseph’s store for a shower before school. Darn-it always goes with me, I think because he’s afraid to shower alone.
“Darn-it if you’re going, come on”.
“I’m sorry, I’m comin’”, he says.
“Being late is not an option today”.
“It’s never an option with you”, someone says behind me.
I laugh with the others, but I think when it comes to school they are right.
I watch the street TV a little more; so many people going by with important things to do, some more important looking than others. I see “Old Hype” on his way to his morning coffee spot. I yell hey, he smiles a completely toothless smile. How did I get used to any of this life? I guess what they say is right, “kids will get used to almost anything if they have to”.
What will I wear to start the day? Yes, even street kids that sleep in the alley wonder what they’ll wear everyday if they can. I change clothes a few times a day if I can.
We all get ready to split up. I tell the girls to come pick me up at Mc D’s after 3pm if they want. The guys all act like they have some where to go. Colt tells me that he will see me after art class. His art class is next to mine; if he is there we meet up. Me and Darn-it finally leave, off to Joseph’s for a shower.
On the way to Joseph’s store, I tell Darn-it that we have to hurry through our showers so as not to be late for school. I tell him that if we are done in time, I will buy him “breaky” at Mc D’s, which gets him moving a little faster. I guess I’m nagging him today, but he is so distractible. I have a test in math class, 1st period.
He asks me “Why do you care dude?”
“Doing good in school is important to me, you know that”.
“Yeah but school is hard and the other kids always give me a hard time”.
“Well in two months, we’ll all be out for the summer and then you don’t have to deal with them for a few months”.
I grab him and start to put him in a head lock, but then I remember things like that have been freaking him out lately. I don’t know why. I make a mental note to ask him at lunch. So I let go and punched him in the arm instead.
During 1st period, the Math test is no contest. I guess studying with flashcards works. Mr. Smythe finishes grading them before class is over, and I get the only A. Before people can ask me about it, I stick it in my bag. Some people still hate it that I get good grades and I don’t act all Super Nerd. No Chess club, Science club, Young leader of tomorrow or any of those clubs that have no style and get the members beat up in the halls. I have enough problems without all of that madness.
2nd period, Social Studies with Mr. Kelly-Specter is nothing special. We sometimes get into some really good discussions about what’s going on in the world; I really like those, if people have interesting things to say. The only interesting thing that happened today in class was the small gaggle of Cheerleaders all dressed up for some photo session. They are all in black like fashionable assassins. We are discussing the Hostages in the Middle East. We all try to ignore them whenever we can. They just want someone to ask, so that they can take the stage and tell us all how they are better than us. Before anyone gave in and asked, this guy named Drake has a seizure from something he took before class. He is flopping around on the floor like a fish. I guess it says something about the drug culture of our school that no one really freaked and the teacher sent Delilah Goode a.k.a. the “Goody Goody fish” to the Nurse’s office for help. Delilah is always the first to offer to help the teacher, thus the name. We all just backed up and to watch mostly un-affected. I am thinking that kids can be so cold-blooded, but the truth is, I’m not jumping in to get “gut-foam” and vomit on my clothes either.
The next three classes I am just focused on lunch.
3rd period, I have Home Economics with Mrs. Jons. At least I get Benji as my cooking partner: he’s a hairy little Greek-Italian boy that is a year older and a foot shorter. When we first met, he couldn’t boil water, but he has gotten a lot better. I don’t usually get into guys around my own age outside of work, but he has so many things I like in an older guy that after awhile I have started to match the men I like against Benji. I told him once how I wished he was older than me; he replied “I am” and then turned into a hairy tomato. I don’t think he had figured himself out yet. [Hollywood high is so gay friendly that even the straight kids have to figure out what they are.]
4th period, Gym class with the sexy Mr. Chuy is definitely a temporary thang. Gym class is so tired, but there are some days I like to run around on the field. My tennis are brand new. I got them on Monday from silly John Stanton and his parents. If his Uncle Matthew had come to bring them, I would have been happier, he is so fine. Every few months some kid will walk right up and give me new shoes, gym clothes, the latest pants, or shirt. It is hecka embarrassing for me. But since I am part of a social project between the school and the Rotary Club, I have to deal with it. The only reason they let me go to this school without a parent or a guardian, is that the Rotary club wanted to help some disadvantaged kids in the area. They were going to go out with blankets and sandwiches or offer a reading program, but when I asked to go to Hollywood High, that became their perfect solution. Now they would have easy access to their project and their able to monitor it, very closely. They can demonstrate how civilized they are and apply their wealth for a good cause. Being the poor kid is bogus sometimes.
But in Mr. Chuy’s class, I am able to forget most of that and just watch him and get some exercise. He has to physically demonstrate everything he ever teaches us. I am so happy that short shorts are part of the gym teachers clothing set and he fills his out perfectly. He competes in fitness [not body building] competitions, I need to say no more. When I first saw him in sweatpants and a baggy sweatshirt, I thought nothing about him. But one time when I went into the locker room to do one of my mandatory quick clothing changes, like I said I average about three on regular days and more during stressful times, there he was in a towel asking me if I was lost. I’m sure he repeated his question about five times before I heard him. I made up an excuse of spilling something on myself and was on my way with a big smile.
5th Period, Lunch. I get to see more of Mr. Chuy because he has lunch duty.
I usually spend my lunch with whichever of my clan is there that day. In the beginning most of them were there and it was pretty choice having people I liked around. As time goes by, they come to school less and less. Colt often meets me for lunch and then sneaks back out, like I don’t know. Darn-it comes around but he really likes to hang with the Stoners. My favorite place to eat lunch is at the big wall, it’s just a big square of grass and a wall. Maybe I like it because it has such a good visual advantage over the lunch quad. I didn’t know it was already some groups spot when I scoped it. No one was there, and after I staked it out some of the other “Mo” kids started to hang there too. What ev’! (What group did you displace?) They should have said something. We would share. I heard from some other kids that there was some kind of fight between the Theatre kids and Student counsel we just swooped in and took over. Leave it to me not to see something important and see all the little things that no one really cares about. Now its gays, lesbians and a small group called the fashion/style klub. I don’t know about your school but here at Hollywood we have all kinds of fancy groups. There is even a group for the more fortunate among up called Restoring Independent Chaos to Hollywood [RICH]. You were voted in but only if your parents or guardians were worth more than a million. If you family was worth more than a hundred million you were in automatically.
So I get my free lunch and join the other Mo’s and freaks at the Wall. I look for Colt or Darn-it but they are nowhere to be seen.
So settle in to eat my food and watch the show that is high school lunchtime. They think that we fags, lesi’s and nerds are the only freaks at the school but we are all somewhat odd if you ask me, some more than others.
So look out and see the usual suspects various geeks (theatre for sure, math, lit, car etc) Sporties, culture vultures and those who want to save everyone and everything. Oh and I can’t forget one of my favorites; fashion/style klub (designers, models, stylists, hair and makeup all hopefuls). They asked me to join my second week of school. I accepted right away and it’s been fun. They were all talking about an upcoming Sergio Valenté fashion show.
As I half listened to the two queens next to me and watched “Quad TV” I spotted a little fire storm brewing between a couple of our Cheerleaders and one of the save the planet girls, a real husky outdoorsy one. They were saying something I could not hear but I could see their body language, tensing more and more. Then the pom-poms surrounded the unshaved girl (I didn’t know her yet) and started pushing her. She lunged for the Derricka, Angie’s little sister and was wimping on her while the other pom-poms started pulling her hair and hitting her. Who would be so bold to try and challenger one of our precious Cheerleaders alone? Maybe she thought her other Muesli munching friends would help her but they just watched the beat down. Most of them had taken a “none violent pledge at one time or another so they couldn’t help if they wanted to. Just then Mrs. Stanner the Advance lit. & Self Defense teacher and Mr. Chuy came out of nowhere tossing blonde hair children all over the place. Mrs. Stanner grabbed the brown hair chipmunk and Mr. Chuy grabbed Derricka and Maya to try and separate them. I guess people were more mad than they knew. Maya wrestled away from Mr. Chuy and kicked him in the biscuits. He went down and the other Cheers jumped on him tearing and scratching. By this time I had rushed over to have a ring side spot. I thought about jumping in to help my Mr. Chuy but how often do get to see a teacher beaten up by Cheerleaders? Mrs. Stanner had her hands full with the chipmunk and her now upset friends. The Cheerleaders were kind of like a wolf pack. They were tearing his t-shirt and then we all heard a rip and when they fell back we all saw Mr. Chuy’s t-shirt and shorts ripped up and more flesh than usual showing. He was even missing a shoe. For a split second we all just stared at Mr. Chuy’s exposed butt cheek and his fantasy red jockstrap. Then like time snapped back he jumped up and grabbed Derricka and Maya by their wrist and told the rest of the Cheerleaders to come on. He had such a look in his eyes and forcefulness in his voice every Cheerleader in the area fell in with them, heck I almost went with them from the power of it all. Mrs. Stanner brought the Chipmunk along behind. I watched as Mr. Chuy rushed away with his peek-a-boo shorts flapping as he walked away.
The show was over. I turned around and there was Colt. He was right behind me and I didn’t know. I gave him a hug and asked if he had seen much of the craziness? He said, most of it.
How does he do that, just know when to show up, quietly and quickly?
I have to learn that one day.
We went and got my stuff and he walked me to 6th period English.
6th period, I have English with Mr. Branton. This man is a source of curiosity. I get the feeling I can talk to him about anything and he tells me this all the time. Sometimes when I‘m in the corner of the hall trying to hide and be invisible, there he is asking what’s wrong. At first I was a little weirded out because I never trust anyone when I first meet them, but he is always friendly. I made him hug me once after some good advice. He felt solid and strong. He is maybe 32 but that’s kind of old already. He says he swims, hikes and plays racquetball. It works for him. In class he tells us we can write anything we want to and he will read it with an open mind. I tested that the first week with a gay porn story. Ha-ha I thought blood was going to come out of his ears, he was so red. I was sure I was not the first student to write porn as a school project but maybe to first to write gay porn to explain “betrayal”. He reads us a story every Monday and/or Tuesday and then we have to write a couple pages on whatever the main topic of the story is. I think it’s really cool. It makes me have to use my imagination in new ways. Mr. Branton is only sexy some days to me. Other days he looks like the most boring guy in the world. Do I have a Daddy complex? I hope not. Yuk!!
7th period History with Mr. Pickle and yes that’s his name. I made a deal with him early on. He likes to joke around a lot. So I said I won’t make jokes about your name if you don’t make jokes about my clothes or me being gay. He looked a little let down but agreed. I think he likes jokes about his name. Some kids call him “Mr. Pickle pants”. I think that’s silly but I never really liked those kinds of things. Here’s an example of Mr. Pickle’s sense of humor. On the day before a holiday, he wears a green suit, shirt, tie and shoes. Someone in class asked him if he was wearing green underwear and he looked like he had not considered that before and said no. I bet he is now. Mr. Pickle is about 50 and never married. He is a good history teacher because he makes it all fun.
8th period, Art with Mrs. Gabriella. She likes us to call her Grace. I’m cool with that most of the time. She’s my teacher; I like a little space between me and her. But that’s not Grace. If you knew me you would know that art is easily my favorite class. Before her class, I have never been in a place where I could create whatever I wanted and be thanked for it. There are people in my class that are making 10 foot tall sculptures of guys having sex with a building downtown and one kid is making a fantasy city the size of a dining table with fairies and Robots. It’s all super cool in there with fabric and paper and paint and god knows what else. I took her beginning class and half way through the semester she said I should try and switch to her advance class. I really thought I was fine learning what she was teaching us. The beginning class was a bit different, everyone worked on the same thing at the same time and she instructed. I can dig this one more, totally. In this class she gives us some sort of inspirational guidelines and then we bust of move.
Meeting Colt after art class is a regular activity, if he’s around. This is our alone time. He has some alone time with all of us like this like a good big brother should. Ours time takes on two different flavors, this one between class thing where he walks me to my next thing. The other is a late, late, late night walk where we end up sitting on the highest building we can get on and talk while the sun comes up.
Can I say this time is choice.
9th period, Guidance Counseling. This is the mandatory part of my day- ugh… I used to have Mrs. Diana Grayson but I think I blew her mind. She said tell me about your life. I think she wasn’t ready for my “bangy-realness”. The powers that be switched me over to Mr. Craig Silverbear. He is a hippy-mo and was supposed to be ready to help me with my adjustment to this new school and people. I think I give him more counseling than he gives me. For example, I’m the person who talked him into getting back into the dating pool after ten years without. I like him and his tall skinny, bead wearing, hairy, Jewish self. He is a way bigger freak than I am on the inside. At first he just asked me about class and how the other kids treat me. Later he got bold enough to ask me about my life outside of school. The one thing he is good about is stepping in when I get in the rare fight with big mouth kids who think being rich or bigger makes me a scared little queen, sorry to disappoint. He always has my back in a big way.
Sometimes our session lasts the whole period and other times just a few minutes but I have to check in with him every day I go to school. If I don’t go, he wants to know why in as much detail as I care to give him.
This is my school day. I’m surrounded by freaks, geeks, stoners, preps, good kids and future killers. Not Hollywood’s best but for sure a good sampling of what it has to offer. If life was fair the good and the smart kids will succeed in life, but it’s not is it? The rich kids will have the breaks handed to them over and over until they eventually make it and the rest of us better work what we have.
Well as I sit in Mc D’s waiting for the girls to meet me I’m thinking that being lucky and smart has helped me a lot so far, I hope it keeps going.
Mmmm I smell French fries.