Back in October, I applied for a job out in Los Angeles as a writer for the show Transparent. The show's creator was looking for a trans woman to join the writers to give a first hand perspective to the scripts. This was an opportunity that I knew I couldn't pass up.
As part of the application process, I had to write an original short story - something I hadn't done in over ten years. Though I have written everything form poetry to teleplays, condensing a story down to such a small number of words, only three pages were allowed, was a real struggle. Added on top of that, I only had a few short days to get it done and it pushed me to a point I had never pushed myself before.
The short story was not limited to trans issues - it was only to be a measure of our creativity. I ran through numerous possible story lines that I could pursue, even reaching back to a short story I wrote back in high school. But in the end a conversation began to grow in my head so I sat down at the computer and fleshed it out. The dialog and the emotions that ran through it seemed raw and genuine. The words seemed to flow with ease for most of the story. When I was finished, I was left with a short story that I am proud of and it was something that really did challenge me.
Needless to say I didn't get get the job. But instead of letting the story just sit idol in the digital files of the cob webbed corners of my computer, I thought I would share it with you. So here for your consideration is The Locker Room Showdown.
“I AM NOT PLAYING ON THE SAME TEAM AS THAT FAIRY!” The doors of the locker room burst open. Jim, a linebacker for the Central Tigers, slammed the doors in the faces of four other players.
Tony and the other players followed Jim through the doors and stood their distance. “Fairy? You can’t be serious?!" Tony couldn’t believe his ears. "You didn’t think Jason was a fairy when he knocked you on your sorry ass last week in practice.”
For nearly 6 years, Jim, Tony and Jason had been close friends. Since the first day of junior high, the three of them, along with Luke, Justin and Adam were nearly inseparable. From flag football on the weekends to playing on the varsity team in high school, the guys had always been a tight group.
Today the head coach, Tom Hale, called a meeting for all the players right after practice. Coach Hale had a reputation for being a hard nose, hard ass, no nonsense kind of guy that was rumored not to have a heart. He pushed you to do beyond your best each and everyday.
“Ok guys. Shut your traps and listen up. Jason came to me the other day and shared something with me that he has been dealing with for a long time. I confess it took me off guard but I want to tell you all again, just like I do at the beginning of each year, you can come to me with anything and I mean anything." Coach Hale put his hand on Jason's shoulder and gave him a nod of approval then turned back to the crowd of football players. "I want to say in front of all you that I stand with Jason one hundred percent and I expect all of you to do the same. No matter what, he is one of the biggest assets on this team. We are lucky to have him. We are a team and we stick together. Do you all understand?”
The crowd of players unanimously shouted the expected “Yes Coach!”
After that, Coach Hale told the team that Jason was gay and said that there was not going to be a problem. The Tigers had been a team before and this was not going to change a single thing. Jim though seemed to be the hold out in the group and stormed off after the meeting.
“The guy’s a fag. And you’re defending him?”
Tony looked at at the others guys hoping for some back up. They stood slightly amazed and speechless. Jim had always been the natural leader of their pack and standing up to him had never been something any of them wanted to do. “Why not? The six of us have known each other since junior high. We’ve hung out nearly every weekend since. Why should this make any difference? So he’s gay. What’s the big deal?”
“I know now why he always hung out with us. Probably wanted to get in our pants the damn pervert.” Jim’s disgust was more than palatable in the room. “I should've known he was a fag.”
Adam took a step forward to stand next to Tony. “Look. I didn’t see this coming either. But I don’t think it changes anything. Coach Hale said that he stands by Jason no matter what. I agree with him. He’s the best offensive guard this school has seen in years. I still want him on the line when I am out there. I can’t count the number of times he’s saved my ass from a sack.”
“You know what Jim?” Tony took a few more steps towards Jim, bolstered with anger himself. “You’re just a damn coward! The six of us have been through so much crap together! Jason has been there for each one of us when things got tough. If there was anyone in this world that Jason should have turned to, it was anyone one of us.”
Luke took his place alongside Tony. “He’s right, bro. We have always been there for each other. Why is this any different?”
“Jason’s got a lot of guts to share that, and you’re just gonna turn tail and run?!” Tony stepped forward and got in Jim’s face. “You’re gonna throw away years of friendship because of this?! You’re nothing but a damn ass coward! If you’re gonna do that then you better think twice, cause you’re gonna throw away our friendship too.”
“I don’t understand why you're taking that faggot’s side.” Jim lashed out one more time pushing Tony backwards. “You’re the damn Bible thumping religious freak. Out of any of us I would've thought you would be the one having the problem.”
“I’m not here to judge him! My religion has nothing to do with my friendship with him! Nothing has changed between me and him, except that I’m sorry he didn’t feel comfortable enough to come to me with this years ago.” Tony turned his back to Jim and faced the others. “The six of us were closer than brothers and he should never had to hide any part of himself.”
Jim stood silently, feeling the eyes of his friends bearing down on him. His mind raced through a lifetime of experiences with Jason, yet a disgust still burned slowly inside.
With his back still to Jim, Tony began to walk out. “Look, you do what you want to do. I need to catch up with Jason. I need his help with calculus. Let me know if you want to join the rest of us in the twenty-first century. Cause right now all you’re doing is living in the damn past." Tony hung his head in disappointment. "You’re a coward and a bigot. I guess Jason wasn’t the only one holding their true self back from the rest of us.”
Tony walked away shaking his head, biting the corner of his lip. The other young men, one by one, slowly followed Tony through the doors. All that was left was the quiet of the locker room. Jim slumped onto one of the benches. The anger and disgust that had taken over his body was now replaced with confusion and a dazed numbness. As he sat there, in what now seemed to be a very dark room, the realization that he may have just lost one of the best things in his life began to gradually sink in.
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