When we got to the end of Main Street, Manny asked, “What else?”
“Huh?” I stepped off the curb to cross the street, but he stayed at the end of the sidewalk. “What do you mean?”
“You said you had to tell me something I would hate you for. Fighting isn’t good, but I don’t think that’s what you were worried about telling me. And you know I don’t care that you’re gay.”
“Yeah.” I looked out at the lake reflecting the blue sky and sunlight. It was a pretty nice thing to see, but I couldn’t enjoy it. Not when I was about to change everything.
“Go ahead,” Manny said. “First of all, I’m really curious now. Second, I won’t hate you.”
“You can’t promise that.” Telling him the truth was like ripping off a piece of adhesive tape from a bandage. Doing it fast hurt like hell, but only for a couple of seconds. Doing it slowly hurt for a whole lot longer.
A couple of seconds of pain would be way easier to take.
“I acted like a jackass because I didn’t want people to figure out I’m gay.” I clenched my fists beside my thighs and forced myself to say the rest. “I hooked up with girls. If they went on dates with me, I figured sex was okay. I was too stupid to figure out that if they didn’t say yes, they weren’t okay with it. Two of them turned me in for rape. I was in juvie for a month, and my parents kicked me out. That’s why I live with Delia now. No one else would let me live with them. I’m a fucking registered sex offender, and now you can go off on me and tell me how much you hate me.”
Still staring at the lake, I braced myself. I couldn’t even guess what he might be about to say. I just hoped he would say something.
“Damn.” He inhaled loudly. “Okay. That’s definitely pushing it.”
“Yeah. So thanks for asking me to go for a walk. I’ll go back now.” I spun around to head back up the street.
Manny grabbed my arm. “Wait. I want to understand. If I’m going to hate you, it’ll be because I know the whole story. And if I hear the whole story, maybe I won’t hate you anyway.”
“You’re crazy.” If anyone had told me what I’d just told him, I probably would have pounded the crap out of them. Manny was way more tolerant than I would ever be.
“Could be. I don’t think you’re going to do anything to me, though, so talk.”
“I’m not going to do anything to anyone!” I banged my leg with one fist. “I was dating both girls who turned me in. Not at the same time. One last summer, and one right at the beginning of school in September. The one last summer, I’d had sex with a bunch of times. She liked it. I’m not just saying that. She went around telling everyone she liked sex and didn’t care who knew it, and I wasn’t the only guy she did it with.”
I paused. It sounded like I was badmouthing Chastaine, and that wasn’t what I meant at all. “That doesn’t make her a bad person.”
“No, it doesn’t.”
“Okay.” He was throwing me off. If he wanted me to explain, he should be quiet and listen. “Anyway, so this one time, we were at the beach and she was flirting with other guys. I got pissed off, and we argued. Afterward, when we were alone, I wanted to have sex. It was really crappy of me, but it was like I had to prove I was better than the guys she was flirting with. I guess she was still mad or something and didn’t want to, but she didn’t want me to lose my temper again, so she didn’t say anything. She just let me do it. Still rape.”
I stopped, because I couldn’t get any more words out around the lump in my throat.