The truth was Heath never ever wanted to bring up Jack, especially to Nick. He'd rather he not know. Because it wasn't easy to explain. It was weird. To say the least.
How could he even explain it to himself. Jack was a hot head. Jack was a snob. Jack thought he was the best athlete the school had ever had. He had so much going for him. Good looks, everybody wanted to be him. He was everything that Heath wasn't. He was everything Heath never desired to be, and yet they'd somehow, found each other, anyway.
Of course, Jack was good at showing everyone how he felt about Heath back then. He'd beaten the crap out of him one night after a game party on a Friday night football game. Heath was in marching band. He could actually play every instrument in band, well. But he'd only do it if he had too. Actually, he preferred the baritone. For awhile, he thought he might focus on a music scholarship of some kind. Well, something in the arts. True, he loved theater even more, but he sort of wanted to know his way around music. And well, he'd been happy focusing on that sort of thing, during football season. Anyway, it wasn't until after football that the first play production would get started. He never got the lead. Supporting parts. He'd been said to be a scene stealer which made him feel no one thought he should go into drama. And as it was, he'd tried to hide for the most part.
That's what he was doing that night at that party with some of his band nerd-friends who had dragged him there.
"We have just as much a right there as those football players." He remembered someone telling him. Honestly, Heath had been pretty wrapped up in hanging out in his own room at home. Only, they didn't have Internet, and he did a lot of crossword puzzles and jumbles. Played scrabble with his little sister and Mom. It felt sort of a foreshadow of what he might become if he did stay around home. He'd just stay to himself. The drama teacher had pretty much said he couldn't act. It wasn't like he was climbing the walls are anything. He was where he was exactly suppose to be, wasn't he?
And then came that party. There was drinking. Alcohol. He'd taken a beer because everyone else had. He stood around trying to act a little interested in what was going on, but actually he wasn't. He could careless about this group. He was just buying his time til he got out of there. It was out in the open. A big campfire going. People shooting the breeze.
But that night Jack had laid into him.
"You ever notice this guy out with a girl?" He had a good laugh then. "Hey, Mitchell, what are you afraid of?"
Heath barely knew he was even talking to him, but his hand evidently was all wrong the way he was holding the beer. Some sort of distinct posture of his, had suddenly been noticed. "Shit, we got us a queer here!" Jack suddenly looked around at the others and pointed at Heath. "What sort of stupid shit is that!"
It made Heath nervous. Really, he wasn't a fighter. Never had been. He tried to change the way he was holding the beer. He looked at the beer. Then at Jack.
"Yeah, he's an alter boy, all right. Bet he knows how to choke down a wafer." Jack made Heath squirm with a mad squint. He saw Jack coming for him then, and he hit Jack in the chest with his beer and took off running. And that was the start of it.