If the students were surveyed as to what their most disliked event of each school year at St. Catherine’s was, the week students dissect frogs in Biology class would be the clear winner. Sure, many boys liked to carve into the frogs and see what’s inside, but the entire wing of the school would reek of formaldehyde, working its way into other classrooms on the same wing. It was nauseating for many, including the staff. Nobody who has ever done that will forget the stench, ever.
There were also many boys who were squeamish or tried to object on religious, moral, or ethical grounds. If they chose not to cut, they would instead have to write up a very long essay on the subject of contentious objection. I chose the latter, and now looking back, I think chopping up the frog would have been the lesser of the two evils.
—Anonymous St. Catherine’s alumnus
Kato walked into his room and noticed Handa was changing to go to the showers. As he closed the door behind him, Handa spoke up. “Listen, little man. I’d like to be alone with Xan-san for the fireworks tonight. So, make it happen.” Handa was not at all friendly with his tone. Kato knew it was not a request, but more of a command.
“What the hell do you want me to do? Xan-san is the problem, not me,” Kato complained.
Handa darkened a little. “I don’t give a fuck what you do, just make up some fucking excuse. I just don’t want to hang around with you. Why can’t you understand this? I don’t like you. I don’t like your bitch. And I don’t like your bitch friends.”
“Well, we don’t fucking like you either!” Kato barked back. “In fact, nobody does. Why can’t you understand that!”
Handa moved over and stood very close to Kato, looking down at Kato, and he looked very dangerous. Kato looked up and tried to step back but the door was at his back. He was intimidated but he was very angry and had enough of Handa’s shit. He felt that he was justified in saying what he did.
“You talk big for such a little shit. Since Takahashi can’t seem to train you properly, I should beat the fuck out of you and put you in your place.”
Kato knew he had two aces in the whole: Takahashi and Xan, and he figured he’d save the Takahashi card for later and play the Xan card. “And if you do, if Xan-san sees what you did to me, he won’t be happy with you,” Kato said.
Handa jabbed his finger into Kato’s chest, which hurt a little, and threatened, “I know how to leave bruises on you that he won’t ever see, but you’ll feel them for a week.”
Kato hadn’t considered that. He suddenly felt a bit of worry in the pit of his stomach as Handa had successfully countered Kato’s trump play. So, he decided to use his other card. “Yeah, but Takahashi-san will definitely see those bruises. You’ll be fighting both him and Xan-san. Hope you don’t end up in the infirmary again.” Kato put as much spite in that comment as he could.
Handa-san reared back and swung at Kato’s head. Kato instinctively covered his face with his arms and heard a super loud bang next to his ear as Handa’s fist crashed into the door. He yelled out, “Keep fucking with me and I won’t give a damn about anything but fucking you up!”
Now Kato was extremely frightened. He simply stood there with his arms over his face, not knowing what to do. He felt Handa move away.
After a moment, Handa barked, “Now get the fuck out of my way!”
Kato put his arms down and moved out of the way. Handa opened the door, walked out, and slammed the door behind him. Kato saw blood on the door, right where he figured Handa had punched it. It was a solid, wooden door so no damage was done, to the door at least.
He simply stood there in shock. Kato wiped at his cheek, noticing that it was wet. It puzzled him a little as he didn’t remember crying. He spent a minute chiding himself for attempting to control Handa. What the fuck was I thinking? he asked himself. Was I really, just now, trying to control Handa? There is no way I can cage that wolf and not be killed in the process. The situation was only deteriorating, and he felt that before long it may not be safe to stay in this room and he had better start looking for other options.
Kato then quickly got ready for showers so that the minute Handa returned, Kato could leave and not have to say a word. And that’s exactly what happened 30 minutes later.
As Kato entered the showers, he was greeted by the boys. As always it was a mad house of half-dressed and naked boys horse playing and telling bawdy jokes. He wondered how they never seemed to run out of new jokes. He recalled the first shower and how frightened he was. Right now, he felt glad to be here, surrounded by his fellow ukes. He felt a sense of safety here.
“Hello, Kato-san.” Higashihara said.
“Hello,” Kato replied. Some of the other boys greeted him too. More boys were coming in and all greeting each other with laughs. He knew many of there names by now as often as he’s showered and used this bathroom.
“Hey, some of us were wondering what’s going on between Handa-san and Xan-san,” Kikizaki said. He had an expectant look on his face. All the boys quieted down and looked at Kato. This disappointed Kato as the lighter atmosphere disappeared.
“I honestly don’t know either,” he said. Kato really did not want to talk about Handa after what just happened.
“What? Aren’t you his roommate?” Nishio asked.
Kato looked at him and said, “Yeah, but we don’t talk.” All we do is fucking fight, he mentally added.
Kato saw that there was one boy in line, so went to the hooks and stripped, hanging his robe with his boxers up, then stood in line, waiting to go into the shower. Seems not long ago he would have been embarrassed to stand naked with other boys, but now it didn’t seem to be much of a big deal anymore. There are too many other—much bigger—problems than modesty, he thought.
“Seems they are an item. Did you see them dancing last night?” Kakizaki asked.
Asano scoffed. “Who could possibly like Handa-san though? Must be a joke.”
“Well, as long as he is bothering somebody else, what’s it matter?” Higashihara said.
“It matters to me,” Sengoku said. “It’s as annoying as fuck sharing this bathroom with that asshole.”
“Has he done anything to you?” Higashihara asked.
“He doesn’t have to. His presence is annoying,” the boy replied.
“Like it or not, we’re stuck with him,” Higashihara stated frankly. “Kato-san has to live with him. But enough about that.” Higashihara smiled at Kato. While he appreciated what Higashihara was doing by shutting down the conversation, he wasn’t in the mood to return the smile.
“Did you hear about those two ukes?” Kikizaki asked. Kato’s ears perked up.
“Who hasn’t?” Higashihara asked rhetorically.
“I haven’t,” Asano spoke up. “What happened?”
“You going in, Kato-san?” a boy from behind asked him. Kato realized he was still standing in line and nobody was in front of him.
“Oh, you first,” he said, waiving the boy in.
“Two of the predatory semes tried to claim the two ukes and harassed them,” Higashihara said.
“Who?” Asano asked.
“You know, the two boys on B Wing that nobody ever sees, except in class of course,” Nishio said.
Kato started to wonder if the boys were the two that he ate with every day. Kato didn’t like what his gut was telling him.
Sengoku crossed his arms and said, “It’s their own fault. They should have gotten proper semes like the rest of us.”
“I agree,” Masaki said. “Two ukes together, like what the hell? Who protects who? Who fucks who? It’s stupid.”
The other boys were verbally agreeing when Higashihara spoke up, “Hey. It’s not our business what they do.” The boys quieted down.
“You approve of what they are doing?” asked Sengoku.
“Not necessarily,” Higashihara replied. “They’re still ukes, after all; even if it doesn’t make sense. We look after our own.” Many of the boys nodded.
A boy walked out of the showers and Kato stepped in. As he was showering under the pleasantly hot water, he started to wonder about semes and ukes and what did seme/uke really mean.
What really is an uke? Kato asked himself. Is it just a boy who can’t defend himself? Then what really is a seme? Is it just a boy who can defend himself? Someone aggressive? What makes Ken a seme and me an uke? Is it because he’s taller? Stronger? Protects me? Fucks me? Is that what makes me an uke? Does that mean sex is only one-way? I’ll never get to do him?
Kato was starting to get a little upset. His mind was going off on odd tangents and things suddenly didn’t seem all that fair or make much sense. He thought he had a handle on it but the are so many things he didn’t understand yet and he was getting worked up over it. He decided to set his thoughts aside for another time and finish up showering. He felt drained, mentally.
As he walked back over to towel off, he noted the boys were back to joking and laughing. Kato was listening to their humorous stories about fun things done during the past two days and he started laughing along, but it was a shallow laughter, the humor didn’t quite break through the anxious knot in his stomach about returning to the room.
After showers, Handa was already gone, much to Kato’s relief. So, Kato decided to work more on his portrait project before he had to leave. He needed to do something to distract himself, and he was really hoping it wasn’t these two boys in this picture that were being talked about earlier. He didn’t understand how uke/uke was supposed to work but he agreed with Higashihara’s sentiments. Like Murata said, love isn’t an evil thing, he thought. Nobody deserves to be harassed because of it. He determined that he would do his best on this portrait.
At 8 o’clock, he put his stuff aside and left the dorm to meet Takahashi outside. It was a cool, clear night; perfect for fireworks. And, of course, the whole gang was there. Fuck! he thought.
“Kato-san!” Xan exclaimed. “It’s about time. Do you not have an alarm clock in your room?” he asked as he looked at Handa.
“Apparently I can’t tell time,” Kato joked, making Xan laugh but Handa was glaring. He noticed that Handa had a bandage wrap around his hand.
“Let’s go!” Xan said and motioned all of them to follow him. Xan walked off with Handa while Murata and Nakamura followed, and Takahashi just stood there.
Kato looked down and sighed. “They suddenly make me not want to go anymore.”
“Yeah,” Takahashi replied. Kato looked up as he could detect something amiss with Takahashi’s demeanor.
Takahashi turned and Kato followed him back to the spot where the band had played earlier. There was a night show by some of the seniors on the stage. They were doing a traditional dance to some music. Kato would have liked to have had a spot alone with Takahashi, but Xan and the crew were waiting. They flagged them over to a spot and the boys all sat together.
For a few minutes, Kato really wanted to come up with an excuse to leave but Xan was doing his usual emcee thing and talking about the bands playing and the songs and making jokes, and so on. Murata was actively conversing and asking questions while Nakamura was his usual stoic self, Handa was brooding, and Takahashi was in wolf-mode. Kato felt fucking tired of this whole scene but didn’t know what to do about it.
After about 30 minutes, Takahashi spoke up, “Damn. That soda pop is going right through me. Come on, Ren. Let’s go.” He stood up and looked at Kato.
“Huh?” Kato asked, surprised.
“I said, ‘Let’s go.’” Takahashi repeated firmly. Kato could detect the full-on wolf-mode, so he stood up.
The other boys looked up at the two with questions on their faces. “But the fireworks will start soon,” Xan said. “You better hurry.”
“Don’t worry about us,” Takahashi said bluntly. He took Kato by the hand and pulled him away.
[西尾 真一, Nishio Shinichi, nee-shee-oh sheen-ee-chee]
[柿崎 十郎, Kakizaki Jurou, kah-kee-zah-kee joo-roh]
[浅野 永次, Asano Eiji, ah-sah-no ay-jee]
[柾 道夫, Masaki Michio, mah-sah-kee mee-chee-oh]
[千石 悟郎, Sengoku Gorō, sehn-goh-koo goh-roh]