Short story: Sock It To Me

Someone knew. Gabe picked up the bright, rainbow-colored sock from where it was resting on his gym bag and tossed it over his shoulder without looking to see where it landed. After gathering his clean clothes he glanced around, but no one seemed to be watching him. Even if they were, that would hardly be an admission of guilt. Damn it. Gabe shrugged wide shoulders with a nonchalance he wasn’t feeling and got dressed before trudging out of the changing room with his bag.

It wasn’t the first rainbow sock he had found. The first had been on top of his locker, but he hadn’t paid much attention. It was obviously misplaced, or at least he had assumed so. Tossed up on the lockers by someone who couldn’t be bothered handing it in to lost property…which would cover about 90% of the school’s population. There had been nothing indicating it was placed on his locker in particular, although the end of it had been hanging over his locker door.

The second had been under his desk in his chem class. But that was easily explained away too, he was far from the only student to use that desk during the day. Of course, it had been the first class of the day, and he always sat in that seat…but he hadn’t thought anything of it at the time. This was different. Someone had placed it where it couldn’t possibly be mistaken as anything other than a message specifically for him. Someone had gone to the trouble of posting it into his gym locker. Someone knew.

Gabe worked hard to keep calm and stop his dark eyebrows from dropping into a scowl. Whoever was leaving the socks wanted a reaction from him, and he refused to give it. He breathed deep and nodded to people he saw as he made his way to the student parking lot.

He stowed his gear in the passenger seat of his truck, which was a manly black. No fucking frou-frou rainbow colors in sight. Fuck! He thumped the steering wheel before gritting his teeth and reminding himself to get the hell out of the school grounds before losing it.

Someone knew. Jesus. Was it really too much to ask that he finish college with his dignity intact?

For now, it was just socks. But there was no doubt the socks were a message. What the fuck was next? He’d got the message loud and clear; someone knew his secret. Would they expose him? How? And why? And why fucking socks for god’s sake? Gabe growled, glaring at everyone on the road.

He took one hand off the steering wheel to run it through his short, damp hair, trying to think. Anyone could have put the sock on top of the lockers. That was hardly an unrestricted area, and it wouldn’t have taken more than a moment’s work to toss the sock up there. The one in chem class… Surely only someone who was in his chem class would know which seat he always sat at? That narrowed down the possibilities. Was it more likely to be a guy? Maybe, maybe not. It didn’t make sense either way. Gym – it had to be someone on the team. No one else would have had access to the gym lockers between the time he’d put his bag in his locker and then returned to access it again. Someone on the team who was likely in his chem class. Mark or Tony.

Mark was loud and brash, always the center of attention. And he liked the ladies. Gabe chewed on his lower lip as he thought, keeping just half a mind on his driving. Tony was quieter, someone Gabe wouldn’t have minded as a friend, but hadn’t he had a girlfriend for ages now? They’ve been together for a year or more hadn’t they? The little blonde thing that laughed easily and seemed to be friends with everyone. Surely it wasn’t him.

But, Gabe tipped his head in acknowledgement of his own thoughts, he was only assuming the person leaving the sock messages was hiding his own secrets. That wasn’t necessarily true. Still, Tony was the logical choice. Mark would have stood up and announced to everyone in the cafeteria if he’d even suspected. But the question still remained….now what?

Once he was home and had made himself something to eat, he sat down in the ugly, squishy armchair that was his favorite and tried to think the problem through. The most important thing was to figure out why someone was leaving messages at all. Okay, so they knew his secret. Why did they want him to know that? What were they going to do about it? It wasn’t hard to assume they weren’t going to out him, or they could have done that already. No, this was between him and the messenger. Was it some sort of weird secret admirer thing? Gabe wasn’t out for a reason, he sure as shit wasn’t going to get himself a boyfriend. Maybe they wanted someone to share their own secrets with? That seemed the most logical answer to him.

Gabe glanced around the room, then stood up and walked back into his bedroom. Somewhere on the mess that was his desk, he had a list of all the team members, complete with phone numbers. Gabe sifted through piles of paper and books but didn’t find it. Damn it! He yanked open a drawer, nearly dumping the contents at his feet, and saw the list tucked under another piece of paper. Perfect.

He took the list and his phone back to the armchair. There was Tony’s number. Gabe thought for a moment and then sent a text. Got the socks. Wanna talk? He figured that was innocuous enough that if he’d made a mistake and it wasn’t Tony after all, he wouldn’t have given too much away. His phone beeped with an incoming message.
Yeah, you free? Grab a coke at D’s?

A few hours later, Gabe parked his truck again, feeling far more relaxed than after his drive home from college. It had been nice to talk to someone else who understood. He marveled at Tony’s arrangement with his mock girlfriend – that was a sweet deal, and he wished he’d had an understanding female friend who could have helped him out like that. There’d been no weirdness between him and Tony, and he appreciated that. He didn’t need a boyfriend, just a friend.


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