Sequel to Jay Bird
A month away from his high school graduation, Jay Kirkman must confront his doubts about the future. The recent death of his Grams, the feisty and funny grandparent he had counted on for wisdom and support, has taken a toll on him. Breaking away from his overbearing parents, especially his strict disciplinarian mother, is proving difficult.
Struggling to say goodbye to the people he loves, Jay has to decide if he wants to move away to attend college at the end of the summer. He’s nervous about leaving the only place he has ever known to set out on a new journey toward self-discovery and adulthood.
But departing from the tight-knit community of Milton means Jay will have to desert his best friend Rocco. Dealing with his own family problems, Rocco reaches out to male strangers for emotional support and comfort, but a handful of one-night stands and physical assaults leave him hurt and vulnerable.
Will Rocco’s life-and-death circumstances alter Jay’s plans? Or will Jay leave his friends and community behind and never to look back?
It was the end of high school: The last days of partying. One night stands. Heavy drinking. Climbing out of my bedroom window. Meeting Rocco somewhere to smoke and laugh and joke about flying to the moon.
It was Rocco’s dream to rocket into space and die. It was a morbid idea, but I couldn’t change the galactic imagination of my passionate, closest, outer space enthusiast friend. Once an idea festered long enough in Rocco’s tangled thoughts, there was no way to diffuse, alter or reroute its course.
For me, high school was difficult. I had met different people from different walks of life. I liked a handful of them, would forget most of them, and never talk to the rest of the majority of my classmates. Especially Nick Savage, one of the dickbag bullies this side of town. I would not miss Nick if he were the only person left at Milton High.
I came close to fighting him one day when he circulated a rumor around school that Rocco was a cold-blooded killer. But I had faith in Rocco, and eventually the investigation against his boss Dean Harold ended. News broke that a gang of bikers stabbed the owner of a diner downtown. That was enough information to keep me from punching or breaking Nick’s nose.
I was bullied and beaten behind closed doors in restrooms by threatening men my age, and older. Stories I never told anyone, not even Rocco. Especially not him, for I knew he would pummel my foes to pulp, which would result in expulsion and criminal charges.
I cared too much for Rocco for that to happen to him. Best friends were hard to find and keep; I wasn’t about to lose the most important person in my life. Not now. Not ever. Rocco was the only person keeping me sane.
My world revolved around Rocco, particularly after that unexpected kiss we shared on the open street downtown, walking home from the arcade and the hour-long inquiry with the local police regarding Rocco’s whereabouts the night of his boss’s murder.
We were inseparable, Rocco and I. At least, that’s what I thought.
Work hard and stay focused, my Grams would say.
I sat in my bed staring out as an early June breeze shook the leaves on the maple tree outside my window. In my mind’s eye, I glimpsed Rocco staring back at me. His face was fuzzy, hidden in flecks of darkness, and he was whispering something I couldn’t hear.
I glimpsed the black bruise inked on his left arm like a bad tattoo. Rocco was lying on his back, his eyes closed. Was he sleeping? Praying? But I knew he wasn’t the religious type. Not as long as I knew him.
My eyes opened, and I heard the heavy sound of footsteps approaching.
A door creaked open and it was clear as a piercing birdcall. “You asleep?”
I shook awake, and felt a hand on me, touching my arm. “Jay.”