All Trey’s father wants him to do is be nice to the homophobic class bully, his business partner's son. But that’s like trying to mix oil and gasoline: explosive. So Trey decides to run away, which is hard to do on a rainy, muddy, haunted night on the small island of Maui.
Another kid in school, Chris, stood up for Trey against the bully and was badly beaten for his efforts. Which makes Trey wonder if Chris is gay, too, or just a brave ally. Trey doesn’t know, but there’s clearly something brewing between them.
When Trey’s dad expects him to go to the bully’s birthday party, Trey sneaks off to go surfing instead. Hitchhiking to the beach, he meets up with an interesting old geezer, who just might be able to help him figure out what he’s going through.
Will the forces on this fiery island break apart Trey and Chris? Or is there hope for something more than friendship between them buried under the Maui ash?
Back in the day meant something totally different to a teenager than it did to someone who had lived long enough to actually have a back in the day story to tell. Back in the day to Chris meant the first time he’d seen Trey in the locker room at school. Naked. Pale. Medium brown hair that would probably bleach to gold in the sun. Eyes that were almost turquoise. He was clutching a gym towel to his belly in great agitation. Chris had a horrible feeling he knew why, because the same thing had happened to him several times at equally inappropriate moments like this too. Steve Durant, class hero and BMOC (big monkey on campus, you know the type) and his pals were laughing and pointing. “Ha ha, the new kid’s a fag! Like what you see, gay boy?” Steve poked one of his henchmen and whipping that boy’s towel off him, spun him around so he could moon the new kid.
Chris got angrier than he had ever been before in his life. A feeling of rage combined with tenderness for this vulnerable, adorable, innocent newcomer. He breathed power into himself and could feel flames inside his body wanting to be exhaled. A part of him sat aside, watching himself with pride, awe, and terror.
It was the first, but not the last time he ever stood up to anyone. He stood up to Steve for this new boy, this sweet new boy who’d just made him learn something about himself that he hadn’t really wanted to know, and he’d felt powerful and angry and stupid at the same time. He’d blustered right up to Steve and grabbed him by the throat, gripping him just long enough to realize he was probably going to die, because, if he didn’t outright kill Steve, Steve and his buddies would mop the floor with him.
He’d gotten a concussion and a black eye out of it and been suspended for a week for ‘starting a fight.’ Yeah, right. He hadn’t exactly thrown the first punch, had he?
Nothing had come of it between him and Trey then, but when another boy who had watched it all, Ryan, a skinny little black-haired boy he’d never noticed before, had smiled at him the day he came back, he almost forgot all about Trey. Not about the part he’d learned about himself though, that was here to stay. G.A.Y. Can we say ohmygosh, look at Ryan’s cute little butt? Ryan looked like a young Sal Mineo, batting his eyelashes, dimples in his cheeks, looking up at him like he was something good to eat.
Later he’d analyzed why he hadn’t followed through with Trey, gotten to know him, tried to find out more about him. Trey never left his mind and consciously or not, he always noticed him, knew where he was, and whether or not he was all right. It was just that Trey was way too much reality for Chris to deal with yet. There was knowing, and then there was knowing.