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I'd expected to be confident. No I hadn't. I hadn't expected anyone to notice. Not anyone. And especially not Geoff Tranter.
Not that he had noticed. It was that he was about to notice.
"S'only a bracelet," Geoff said. "Come on, let's have a look?"
"Yeah. OK." I passed my right wrist over. Nigel's name on my bracelet, his bracelet, on my wrist."
"I know it's daft, I just like stuff like this." Geoff ran his eyes over it. Over the rectangular shield, where Nigel's name was engraved in flowing script. I could feel his eyes following the engraving. Feel them starting at the left leg of the N and following all round it and along the I, the G, the E and the L. I could feel them lasering into the metal, feel the letters lasering into his brain. "It's nice."
"Yeah. I like it a lot." I was almost not daring to breathe. Surely he'd see? Surely he'd put two and two together?
"I want to be a jeweller, well, a goldsmith. I like the way the letters suit the shield, too. Can't have been cheap, that?" It was half a question. Well, more like a sort of conversation handshake. If the situation hadn't been so surreal I could have seen how soft and gentle the rough Geoff Tranter really was.
"I don't think it was. It was a present."
"Lucky sod. Quite a present. It isn't just any metal. It's real silver. Look." And he turned the shield over to show me the hallmarks.
"Can I have a look at yours now, Chris?" He looked at Nigel, sitting across the table from him.
"I'm not Chris, I'm Nigel. He's Chris." Nigel said it unconsciously, automatically. Then his face panicked. Bright red. He went that way as a huge contrast to his silver and gold hair, and it showed up like a sunset.
"Er, you sure?" Geoff looked puzzled. "Then why is he wearing a bracelet saying 'Nigel'?" The puzzled look stayed.
It was like watching a brontosaurus which had a log fall on its tail. Well, how I imagined it would be. You could see the head look round at the log and say to itself, 'This is going to hurt in a minute.' Ponderous thoughts inside Geoff's brain, considering, chewing, swallowing, and digesting.
"Simple," said Nigel. But left it at that, bewildered.
"Is it?" I was glad Geoff asked that. I wanted to ask it too.
No reply. Obviously it wasn't simple. I certainly couldn't see it as simple. There wasn't anything simple about it.
"Wait a minute, let's have a look at yours." It wasn't a question, it was a command. And Nigel's wrist was above the table anyway. Geoff reached over like a cobra and struck. Nigel's arm was grabbed and flattened on the table. Geoff brought his other hand into play. "Ah. Nice bracelet, too. Same quality. Expensive as well. And it says 'Chris.'" He paused. "Which, unless I'm very much mistaken, 'specially since you've just told me, is his name. So that means you're a pair of fucking poofs."
"Let go! It hurts!"
He let go. "Don't want to touch you anyway. Jeez. Poofs. A pair of poofs."
"The names are right, Geoff." I spoke quietly. "I'm Chris, he's Nigel." Did I dare do the next bit? Half. "We're not a pair of poofs, though."
"Yeah, right. And when he kissed you in the cinema that day, that wasn't fucking gay?"
I looked at the table top. I wanted to believe that everyone could be trusted, wanted to trust everyone. I could see the nice person inside Geoff Tranter, even if he was fat and spotty, that made no difference. I could see it. And I wanted to appeal to it and try to tell him, show him, that love is love, even if it hits two boys, not a boy and a girl. I could see how futile it was, at least right then. I could see Nigel bristling.
"You remember what I told you in the cinema?" He was alarming when he was quiet, was Nigel.
"Some sort of bollocks about bullying me? Yeah, I remember. Bullied by a fucking poof. Yeah, right. That I have to see."
"I mean it. One whisper and I'll get you."
"Doesn't matter any more."
"It fucking does!"
"No, Nigel pansy Cropper, it doesn't matter any more."
"It does and I'm not."
"Leave it, Nigel?" Something told me that it didn't matter. "Geoff?"
He turned to me. "What?"
"Well, you remember the day you came and thanked me for not beating Billy to a pulp?"
"Like to have seen you try it. Yeah. I still owe you." He turned his head to Nigel. "Not him. He threatened me. You, not him."
"He's with me, Geoff. Where I go he goes."
"Blimey you are a pair of poofs, then!" He sounded surprised, as though he really hadn't meant it before. Oddly he didn't sound hostile. Not as hostile as he 'should' have sounded. Not, not hostile.
"Doesn't sound very nice. Not put like that. If you like, Geoff. 'Pair of poofs' will do I suppose. I'd prefer something else though, like 'lovers' or 'partners'."
"Yeah, right, you'll be calling him your boyfriend next."
This was almost beyond belief. This was beyond belief. Geoff the homophobe was sitting quietly and listening, and appearing to understand. "He is. Has been for ages. Will be for ever."
"It's not right... " It wasn't said with any venom; it was just matter of fact. I'd expected a different tone of voice from Geoff, but it was sad, if anything, not accusing. "It's not right... " It was as though the stuffing had gone out of him. "Boys aren't designed that way. They just aren't"
"Geoff, you aren't going to go round telling people, are you?" I was worried, whatever his manner was, that he'd go back to his old threat. "It's not something we want public or anything."
"Said, didn't I? I owe yer." The brash, macho Geoff Tranter was back. "You don't rub my face in it, I reckon it's none of my business."
"Just don't try anything with Billy, right?" He looked at me, doing his best to look menacing. He failed. "I don't want Billy near stuff like that. Just don't." He managed to look sad instead of menacing.
"Not interested in Billy. I only want Nigel." I hesitated, wanted to say something, didn't know what, didn't know how. "Geoff... Thanks."
"Reckon we're quits now. I, er, I like your bracelets. Both of them. The stuff I make's going to be even better. They suit you."
"Not bad for a pair of poofs?" I was smiling.
"Not bad, period. I'd wear either of them if my fucking Dad'd let me."
"He know you want to be a goldsmith?" Nigel came back into the conversation. It was surreal though, the whole thing.
"He'd go fucking ape. 'Not manly', he'd say. Everything has to be manly with him. He'd want me to be a navvy before he'd let me do anything like goldsmithing. Anyway, I look set to be a navvy the way my results are heading. Maybe he'll get his way."
"Stand up to him?" Nigel tried to prop Geoff up somehow.
"You don't know him. He'd just beat me. And I have to stay at home. Have to. You don't understand."
I didn't. Nigel didn't. Before we even tried to, Geoff was called away by Miss Cranham who was directing the play.
"What the fuck was that all about?" Nigel asked me. "He's meant to be a total shit. He's always been a total shit. He's lost a bit of weight, too"
"Just as well, since he's playing the hero in this damned play!"
"The rest, though. The soft centre. Geoff the goldsmith. I mean not only did he come and sit with us, which is pretty unheard of since he's senior to us, but he started to talk about stuff you'd never expect, and he isn't going to let on about us. Probably."
"There's something not right... " I petered out, didn't want to go there, especially since I had no real idea where I was going.
"What d'you mean?"
"It's just... It's sort of... I don't know." I decided. "Look I have no idea." I was definite about it. "So," I was changing the subject with no idea what I was changing it to, "I'm sorry. It was a stupid idea."
"Yep. But we survived it."
"Right. I'm keeping this one on, then."
"You don't have to."
"I do. Or I want to. Stuff them all, Chrissy. Stuff them!
My hero was back. Well he'd never gone, only I'd been the hero this time. He'd tried, but somehow his try'd been the wrong try, had been a macho sort of try when a bargaining one was needed. Funny. Until Nigel'd spoken about the cinema I'd half thought that would work. Hadn't really remembered that Geoff 'owed me', as he put it. With my hero back I was complete, ready to face anything, anyone. "Yeah. Stuff them. Let's keep them this way." And I knew, suddenly, with absolute clarity what I wanted to engrave on his bracelet on the inside.
The rehearsal went pretty well, the actors only had to repeat half a scene, and we were on our way home. Ways home. Separate ways. At the gates I bumped into Geoff, waiting with Billy.
"Yeah?" No hostility from him, no fear any more from me.
"Just wanted to say thanks, really." I felt odd about talking to him after everything, and after talking to Mrs Wilding about him, them.
"Thanks for what?" Billy's treble voice asked.
"I did him a favour, bro. Nothing you need worry about."
"Night, Chris," Geoff replied as he and Billy headed away from the school, walking quietly together. Something in the way Geoff was walking with him showed me how close he was to his kid brother. Made me wish I had a brother as well as having Nigel.
Play or no play, we still had homework. French and geography. No written work, but revision for end of term exams. Nigel had the same exams. He may have been in a different class, but we had the same exam scheme, both heading for GCSEs in due course. I reckoned I could busk it. I knew Nigel couldn't, not without really hard work, so I didn't call him that night. Well, that was also dictated by Dad and the phone bill.
And as usual I didn't get to see him in the school day. Briefly at lunch, yes; to talk to, no. But we were getting pretty used to being apart together, so it wasn't a big deal any more. No-one else noticed the bracelets. No-one.
We took our places that evening for the dress rehearsal. There was an audience, too. The dress was to be a full run through, no breaks, start to finish. It was a tradition that we invited guests from all the old folks' homes in the area. "Partly," Miss Chapman said, "it's selfish, because they'll let us know where the laughs are." And she told us the obvious as well, that it gave them a fun evening out. Well, an evening out, anyway.
And it went well. I mean really well. The hall wasn't exactly full, but the applause was good. No-one died either, not even on the stage. The clinch went well between Geoff and Carol, too. A real clinch with a real kiss, not one of those school stage things.
Better yet, no-one was in the backstage area where Nigel and I were. We managed to hold hands quietly in the weird light behind the scenery, hardly daring to move in case we drew attention to ourselves, just standing quietly, close to the back of the flats the scenery was painted on. It was odd. Almost a public declaration, with just a thin painted canvass sheet with pinpricks of light between us and the grannies in the audience.
I wanted to. I know he wanted to. Kiss I mean. We did half turn to each other at one point. Didn't dare. It felt weird. We didn't, couldn't kiss each other goodnight either, not that it was different from any other night, well, except that it was later at night that any other day we left school. The odd thing about being backstage is that you get to know all the words of the play. Not just one part, but all the parts, all the timings, the lot. None of the moves, because all you can do is listen, so you don't get to see where the actors move to. I was word perfect. Well except for the song the two soldiers sing. Word perfect, yes. Note perfect, no.
No homework that night. Come to that there was none to the end of the term, so my time, such as it was, was my own. Well, except that for the three play nights, dress, first and last performances, I was going to get home late. And the party after the second and final performance meant Friday night was going to be later still. Not that Miss Chapman was going to let us have any booze or anything, and not that it was going to be anything other than a cast and stage crew party. I just wished as I snuggled into bed that night, wished that Nigel and I could be a real couple, hold hands at the party, be open about who we were to everyone without being scared. I so tried to dream about dancing with Nigel at a party when I went to sleep. Didn't manage. I never managed to dream a dream I really wanted.
Thursday was nothing special during the day. Nothing much happened at all. Nigel and I got lunch together, with John and a few of the others, but nothing happened. No Geoff Tranter. The Wednesday lunch had obviously been a fluke, a freak of nature. It'd been an eye opener to see that he was human too, though. And to watch him with Billy. I wished quietly that Billy hadn't been such a jerk with Andy that day. Odd how you start to realise that other people aren't just names and faces but are people too. I had a feeling I could get to like the Tranters. There wasn't the bullying edge to Geoff any more, and Billy seemed like a decent enough kid. If I hadn't had Nigel I might even have turned my eyes to young Billy Tranter.
Wow. That meant I had to be. Even loving Nigel I hadn't been sure, not fully sure. Carol was in the corner of my mind, so was Janine. Pretty, even desirable, but somehow not for me. That 'somehow not for me' part. That was the part. It'd been running through my head every so often. Was I? Wasn't I? I'd known I loved Nigel, but I was still wondering, had been wondering what I was, who I was. But if I could look at Billy and think about him like that, even about two years younger, then I must be. It felt odd, somehow. Odd and good, but definitely odd.
"Nigel?" We were backstage, waiting for the curtain to go up.
He looked at me, fixed me with his eyes and looked into my soul. "Shh. They'll hear you in the hall."
"Silly sod, this is important." I'd lowered my voice to a whisper, though. "I found out."
"I'm gay Nigel."
"Duh! Yes. I kind of think you must be!"
"No I mean I worked it out. I am. I mean am really."
"What d'you mean?" He was looking puzzled.
"I mean I'm gay. Not bisexual, whatever that means, but gay."
"Still not with you? What the heck are you talking about?"
I realised that what he'd known about himself for ages I'd only just realised about myself. "I realised properly today. I mean really properly. It's a bit scary, but I am."
"I'm still lost, Chrissy. Like totally lost. Today you realised that you're gay, and we've been together how long?"
"No, I mean I actually realised properly today. It isn't the same as loving you. It isn't even the same as making love to you. This is about something I realised about me. I am. I'm gay. I fancy boys, not girls."
"I hope you mean one boy!" Nigel was grinning.
"I mean I love one boy, you idiot. You. I love you. But I can find others attractive as well. I do find others attractive. I'm gay. Gay."
"Is that all you can say?"
"Yep. That's all I can say. Good. I'm glad." He paused. "What happened?"
"Don't know, not exactly. I just found I was thinking about it, thinking suddenly about girls and about boys. And thinking back about Carol."
"Git!" he was teasing.
"Yeah, well I was thinking about who I was and who I fancied, and I realised I like boys. I mean the girls are good looking and everything, but I like boys."
"Bastard. You, I mean. But boys are different from girls. Totally different. I can't explain."
"Well, you've kissed both, Chris. I know for sure I'll never kiss a girl."
"True enough. I like kissing you best you know." The curtain was rising as I was speaking.
"I like kissing you. Period. I love you, you soft idiot. Totally and for ever."
We did whatever it was we did backstage. I'm not sure if Nigel felt anything significant had happened, but I did. I was feeling happily excited through the play, through the interval and through the major applause at the end. I watched Geoff kiss Carol and found I had no emotions at all. I knew they were acting, of course, but I also reckoned I'd have a twinge of jealousy if I had anything except brotherly love left for her.
The actors came off the stage and headed to the makeshift dressing rooms to take their makeup off. "What was that all about, Chris?" Nigel was holding my hands and looking into my eyes in the gloom behind the flats that made up the scenery of one of the embassies.
"Dunno. I looked at girls today, and I also looked at Billy. And I thought to myself 'he's really cute', and then I though 'girls have nothing I want,' and then I thought 'I'm gay, then.' That was it, really."
"You didn't know before?"
"Even after all this time together, you really didn't know?"
"Sounds silly, doesn't it?"
"Well, a bit."
"Nigel, you've known for ages. About yourself I mean. Not about your feelings for me, I mean about you. The inside stuff. I just found I loved you. Pure and simple. Well, not is pure. I also love making love to you."
"Yeah, me too!"
"Pratt, not what I mean. What I mean is that I fell for you. Not for a boy who happens to be you, but for you. The 'boy' bit came with you because you are one. Only I wasn't sure about me. Not about actually saying to myself 'I'm gay,' and now I've said it. And I am. Gay."
"Me, too." There was a gap. "I don't know what to say, exactly. It's sort if unexpected. I mean I thought you'd got this all clear inside your head. Or I hadn't thought about it, not really. I have about me. Not about you." He was still holding my hands. "Do you dare to kiss me? Here, I mean?"
"Not exactly." It was tempting, but I didn't dare. It was too big a thing to do, to kiss him in school, where anyone at all might walk in on us. "I wish I could come home with you, though."
"Not a chance on a Thursday. Mum and Dad will say something about it being school on Friday and moan a lot."
"I can't wait until the weekend. I hate it." I was looking into his eyes, trying to see beyond the bright blue, bright even in the backstage twilight, hidden from the ordinary room lights that were on after the performance to let us pick our way through the stage braces and weights that held the flats up. "I love you Nigel Cropper."
"You're going to come and stay on Friday night, though?"
"I hope so. Need to ask my folks. But then they've been amazing so far. I can't see any major problems there, can you?"
And so we drifted into parting for the evening. As it happens no-one had walked in on us, and we could have kissed each other properly there on the stage. But you could never tell, and hindsight was always wonderful. We weren't ready for more people than knew already, anyway. In some ways it was already too many.
I asked Mum when I got up on Friday about staying at Nigel's. I could see the conversation going on in her mind. Half of her was screaming 'no', and the other half was trying her very best to support me and what I needed to do, who I was and needed to be.
"Yes dear?" She was a little absent as she spoke. She'd just managed to say 'yes' to my staying and has told me to get a bag of clothes and stuff.
"Well, two things... " And I made sure that she and Dad were coming to the play that night. Then I told her about my final realisation that I was gay. "It felt good when I said the words to myself, Mum. Like I was coming home, or something." I didn't have the words to describe it, not properly.
"It's never the right time, Chris. Only I have something I want to talk to you about, about being gay I mean."
"Now'll do, Mum." I was feeling pretty good about everything. Nigel and his arms tonight, after play party beforehand.
"Well, it isn't a big thing. We're both pretty clear that I love you, aren't; we? That nothing changed that when you told me about Nigel and you?" She didn't wait for me to answer. "Of course we are. Well, you know I'd be a lousy mother of I didn't try to find out everything I could about sexual orientation and stuff? So I've been trying to find out. There's some pretty dry stuff, you know. An American called Kinsey did some studies years ago, but they seem too old. So I did some reading in the library. They have the internet there, too, so I tried to find out what I could on that as well."
I could just picture that! Mum in the library with a search engine and lots of gay web sites! "I bet that was hard!"
"Well, I found lots of sites I didn't want to see. And a good few with men doing things to each other that I got off the screen as fast as I could. But I found something out about orientation which seems to make sense. That it changes over time."
I was worried suddenly. "Does that mean you think I'll stop being gay?" I was ready to be resentful.
"No. No, it doesn't."
"Good. I don't think I will, Mum. It feels so right. It's me."
"Well, that's just it. It wasn't you, at least not obviously, six months ago. I don't mean that the gay stuff will switch off or go away. I just mean it may alter, shift about, change intensity, let you be attracted to girls too."
"I don't think it will Mum. I feel really comfortable knowing I'm gay, you know. It's just that I realised yesterday that was really what I am. I know it sounds weird. I don't; mind being gay, and I don't think I mind if I'm attracted to girls either, but I love Nigel, and I'm his boyfriend, his partner. And it's for ever. And it feels so right."
"I'm trying so hard to approve, Christopher. I can accept you and Nigel. I like Nigel. I like him a lot. I just have real trouble approving, especially of the sex. I don't like it that my baby had to grown up at all, you're my little baby boy and always will be. And I'd find it pretty hard to think of you with a girl, even one as nice as Carol. With a boy it all seems to be so impracical somehow. Not exactly pointless, but not as God intended. And no, I do not want to know what you do. Those internet sites showed me quite enough!"
"Web sites, Mum!"
"You can call them what you like. I didn't like them. And some of them had boys your age or younger on them. I wasn't happy... " She looked at the kitchen clock. "You'll be late. You'd better go. I love you, you know. I support you even when I can't cope properly with things. I don't know if I'll ever approve, but I'll make sure I'm always here for you."
I changed the habits of a lifetime and kissed her cheek. "Thanks, Mum!" I meant it, too. The I grabbed my bag, slung it over my shoulder and sprinted for school on my bike. Only just made it, as well, and hit assembly breathless. Nothing special about assembly. Mrs Wilding announced how well Romanoff and Juliet had gone down the day before, and got a giggle for the 'going down' part. I was starting to suspect that she said things like that on purpose to see if we'd laugh and think she had no idea. I'd begun to see that Mrs Wilding was a very switched on lady indeed, and didn't do much by accident. I liked her a lot.
She announced arrangements for the cast and stage crew party, too. And a load of other stuff about the forthcoming end of term, and then we were free to go to lessons. Well, 'free' is a relative term, of course. More like captive to go to our lessons.
It was lunchtime that it happened. "Chris, can I have a word, please?" I recognised the voice and turned.
"Yes, Mrs Wilding?" And I looked at her face. It was grey, and she looked worried. I wanted to ask what was wrong.
"Can we walk to my office?"
"Am I in some sort of trouble?"
"No. No, sorry. I've just had a shock. No, Chris you aren't in any trouble. I just want, need, to talk to you. In private."
We reached her office and she closed the door behind us. "I wouldn't normally tell you this. Only you came to me and told me something important. And it's about that. Chris, something dreadful happened last night. Billy Tranter is in hospital."
I was still listening, not knowing what to expect next. "Go on?"
"I'm not totally sure what happened. I've just had Social Services talking to me. Chris, you were right about something being wrong. Billy cut his wrists last night; tried to kill himself. Geoff called the ambulance. And he also called the police. Geoff's with Billy in hospital now."
I found tears falling. Two boys who weren't anything special to me, but who'd forced their way into my life and had somehow made me care about them, however bad my first experience of Geoff had been. I felt a need to go and see them, but I somehow didn't dare either. "How... "
"Is he? Alive. Inside I don't know. Something has to be very wrong to make a boy do that. He was always a bit aggressive, but there wasn't anything obvious... "
"Was it because of what I told you?" I felt hugely responsible, somehow, suddenly. As if I'd somehow made Billy try to kill himself. I was numb, too. It had only been that last night I'd been thinking he was cute, and I felt as though it had happened to Nigel, not to Billy.
"You wouldn't say even if it had been, would you?"
"Yes. Something about you makes me say that I would Chris, yes. And no, it was not. Look, you're goon to find this out by gossip soon enough. Their father is being questioned by the police. He was beating the boys, both of them."
"Geoff said. He looked out for Billy. They're very close. Geoff loves Billy. Billy looks as though he adores Geoff." I was thinking out loud. It hadn't sunk in. Then it hit me. My brain started to put two and two together and it made sense. I started to feel sick and angry. I'd heard about abuse. It wasn't just beating.
Geoff's attitude to poofs. The aggressive defence of Billy, the sudden need for closeness with me and Nigel. "They've been being raped, haven't they? Both boys?" Tears were streaming down my cheeks. No sobs, just tears, streaming from my eyes. "Billy tried to escape. Geoff couldn't protect him any more." My brain freewheeled. Billy's just reached the age when it started with Geoff, hasn't he? And it's started with him. And he tried to escape... " I was almost hyperventilating. "It's not what being gay is about. It can't be. No wonder Geoff was so... so aggressive, didn't like poofs. No wonder he told me to keep away from Billy, no wonder he's scared of his father... Oh heck, I don't know what to say... "
I found her arms around me. "It's nothing to do with being gay. It's rape. Power. I don't know if you've got it all right, but it could well be the way you said." A hanky was being blotted onto my face. "There's something else. I'll understand if you say no, and it's maybe a bit of an imposition. Chris, does Geoff know you're, er... "
"That explains a little. He asked if you'd mind going to the hospital. Passed a message to me. 'Ask Chris Jenkins to come, please. Chris'll understand."
"I don't understand. I just don't." I realised, too, that I'd just told Mrs Wilding clearly that I was gay. "I understand love. I think I do. I know about loving a boy, about loving Nigel. But I don't understand abuse, understand rape. I won't know what to say, how to behave... "
"You don't have to go." She still had her arms round me. Idly I noticed that I was taller than her, just a little. I have no right to ask you to go.
"I hardly know them... but... I, er I think I have to go, don't I? If I'm ever to look myself in the face again then I have to go."
"I'll drive you."
"I'll apologise to the teachers for you Not much this afternoon anyway. Do you need a coat?"
I rushed to my locker to get my coat. Carol caught my headlong rush. "Have you seen Geoff Tranter? He's not been in school all day, and I need to talk about the performance with him."
"Can't stop. Errand with Mrs Wilding. Going to see Geoff now!" That was all I had time to do as I sprinted to the teacher's car park and met Mrs Wilding at her car. I didn't catch what Carol called after me. I was feeling sick and nervous, wondering what I'd find. As I did my seat belt up I found my breath and voice. "I don't like hospitals much. Nor blood or stuff."
"Nor me. Let's just wait and see what we find."
"Will you come in with me? What do I say? What if their mother's there? What if their father's there?"
"Yes, I'll come in just for a minute or two. Then I'll wait outside for you. And I don't know what you say, but I think it doesn't matter too much what you say so much. And if their mother's there I'll have a chat to her. Mr Tranter will not be there."
"Damn. Damn, damn, damn. I'd forgotten about the play. How can Geoff go on stage tonight?"
"I'll ask him. Has to be his choice, doesn't it?" It was a statement, really, not a question.
No more was said. Mrs Wilding sorted out the car park, Pay and Display as usual, and we headed for the ward where the Tranters were to be found. 'Haldane Ward', I noticed absently as we walked. "Slow down, Chris. We are not going to arrive out of breath. It'll make everyone nervous.
Breath came back; Haldane ward approached. Mrs Wilding headed for the nurses' station, and we were steered along the ward to a side room, private, with a door that shut. She knocked.
I wasn't prepared to see a grey faced and very small boy plumbed in to the bed with a drip. I should have been. I watch Casualty on Sunday evenings. But that isn't real blood, isn't real people. Geoff was there, beside him. He'd shrunk, too, stuffing all knocked out of him. And a lady was there. Mrs Wilding took her aside and they had a low conversation.
"Geoff." I nodded to him. I was quiet. It felt like I imagined a funeral would be. Hushed and reverent tones. The hospital smell was doing nothing for my guts, either. I felt totally out of sorts, a fish out of water.
"I know we aren't friends exactly," Geoff said, "only you were the only person I could think of that I wanted to see. Billy's sedated a lot. He's OK, though. Alive I mean."
"Mrs Wilding told me a little... " I truly didn't know what to say. My eyes were fixed on the small grey face, eyelids closed, still as a corpse. I was imagining him dead and remembering him alive. "He, you, oh heck... " I stumbled into silence. This wasn't going well.
"Both of us. I couldn't stop him getting at Billy. Couldn't stop him... I tried... " And the floodgates opened, and the tears came, the sobs came. I opened my arms and put them round him, and he grabbed me and held me. "Couldn't keep Billy safe. Didn't matter about me, mattered about him... Mattered about Billy... "
There was more, much more, all the same. I didn't know how to handle it. No-one would have known how. I was crying too, sobbing my heart out with him, feeling his emotions through the bear hug we were giving each other. I was stroking his hair, just trying to stay as calm as I could, trying to wait until he calmed down, wondering when and how he'd calm down. He wasn't big any more, wasn't a bully. He was somehow a little kid and a full grown man at the same time, clinging to me holding me so tight I could hardly breathe, and we were crying together over a grief that wasn't mine, but was becoming mine.
And all the time I was looking towards the still, small figure on the bed, wondering how he'd had the guts to try to kill himself, and almost hating him for trying to do it. So small and so colourless lying there.
Sedated or not his eyelids flickered open. "Billy's awake, Geoff." The shaking started to stop, as gently as it had begun suddenly, and he eased out of my grasp.
"I'm still here." The words were slurred, but clear enough. Matter of fact words and disappointed words.
"I'm glad you are." Geoff's voice was bunged up from the tears, shaky from the sobbing. "Said so last time you woke up, too."
"What's he doing here?"
"I asked him to come. He's cool, bro, OK?"
"We're safe from him. He can't see us again."
"At least that part worked then. Ow!" He winced as he tried to move in the bed. "This looks different?"
"You started in Casualty. This is a ward. Mum! Billy's awake!"
"I'd better go," I mumbled. I wasn't sure what use I'd been. Except that Geoff'd cried in my arms. Maybe that's what I'd been needed for. "Geoff, you can't possibly do the play tonight, can you?"
"Shit! No. No, I need to be here with Billy. Wait. Chris, we're not queer, you know. We're just not."
"No. I am. You're just unlucky. It's OK. It's OK. I'm glad I came. I think. I mean if I was any help or anything. I don't feel much use though. That I've been much use I mean."
"Dunno. I just kind of needed you. Not sure why. You just seem like a good bloke; good to have around, you know? Thanks Chris."
It seemed like a total anticlimax. I actually wanted to kiss Billy goodbye, he looked so small and childlike. Mrs Wilding and I left, and headed schoolwards. "He can't do the play," I told her.
"I'm not surprised."
"What will happen?"
"It's too late to cancel it. We'll have to find a new star. Or read the part in."
"Nigel could do it?" I didn't dare myself. Speaking words in public in front of an audience was not my thing. "We each know all the words of all the parts, but he'd be able to do the acting part as well."
"We can ask him."
"How will you explain the change of cast? The whole school will know it wasn't planned. Damn, why am I talking about the play anyway? Billy! He looked so alone. I wanted to hold him, kiss him, make it all go away."
"That'll take a while, you know, Chris. He has Geoff, too."
"Yeah. I feel pretty weird about the whole thing... I cried. It was scary, a little. No, scary a lot. He looked like he was dead at first. Grey, still, and so small. He was such a tough kid."
"Is, Chris, is. He is such a tough kid. He'll need some help, though." She turned her head to look at me. "What about you, are you OK?"
"Don't really know. I mean I wasn't the one to get raped, was I, or to try to die or anything. I just saw the stuff that left behind."
"Hot sweet tea when we get back, I think."
"What do I tell the others when they ask where I was?"
We discussed it and came to no conclusion. The truth might hurt Billy more. Some damned fool was bound to say that he deserved it. Lying would just make it worse anyway for when it all came out unto the public eye.
"We'll say that Billy is unwell," she said as we turned into the school gate. "That's it. Billy is unwell, and Geoff is helping to look after him. That's near enough to the absolute truth for today I think."
"That deals with them all right. But what about me and why I was out of school?"
There was no answer to that. "Just tell them I had an errand I needed you to do. Ah, the part. Could Nigel really do it, do you think?"
"I do. He'd be brilliant. Shall I find him and ask him to come and see you? I don't feel right not telling him the truth about what's happened, though."
"Can you let me tell him, please? You can be there if, if you stay quiet and let me talk and tell him. And I shouldn't be doing this." She looked at me as she finished reversing the car into her space. "There is something about you, Christopher Jenkins, that makes people do unusual things around you. And You did really well yourself in the hospital."
"I don't think I did anything."
"You did. You held Geoff and helped him to cry. Not many people your age would have done that. They'd have felt it was 'gay' to hold another boy in their arms however much he needed it. You just do things naturally."
"I am gay." It felt weird saying that. Really weird. I was resolving it in my head still, but I'd said it out loud for the first time. I wasn't sure whether it felt good or not, but it made me feel something deep inside.
"Perhaps. You know, I don't think you should be so definite about being gay. Things change inside us." She handed me a tissue. "You haven't used those words before, have you?"
I hadn't. Or if I had it wasn't in such unusual circumstances. Or again if I had it was before I'd said the words inside my head or to myself. And my eyes were leaking, which she must've noticed when she passed me the tissue. It wasn't like being found by Nigel's mother, nor like being, well, outed by mine. It was somehow like a business transaction with emotions too. Except I'd never made a business transaction, of course. I managed a gentle smile as I wiped my eyes. "I don't think so, no. Not like this, anyway." It was weird, talking to anyone like this, let alone to my headmistress, only it felt safe to do so.
"You do know that being gay isn't actually an important thing, don't you?"
"It feels pretty important."
"Feels it, yes. It isn't what makes you who you are, though, or even what you are. That all comes from inside you. Being gay is a pretty simple thing, really, you know. It's a small part of you, only about how you're attracted to people, and the gender of the people you're attracted to. That's what I mean by not being actually important. I know it's important to you, but think a moment. Is being heterosexual important to me?"
I hadn't thought about it. Not at all, I mean, not just not in that way. I'd been thinking about Nigel, yes, been thinking about Nigel being gay, yes, but not about me. Except, if it'd crossed my mind at all, then yes it did seem pretty important to be gay. Or at least it seemed pretty important not to be gay, or not to be found out by accident as being gay. Only I hadn't ever thought about it like Mrs Wilding was describing. "I never thought about it, not like that at least. I think being heterosexual is pretty important to people, yes. I mean if it wasn't, then why would people do things like Billy did to Andy Giles earlier this term? Oh, wait, bad example. I can see why he might've thought it was bad, if he was going through enough horrible stuff to make him do that."
I was talking about things that'd never crossed my mind and with someone who wasn't one of my parents. It seemed like a light conversation, but it was making me think hard. "Bad example, yes. But that's the type of thing people think about when they think of gay men, for example. That they'll abuse kids, I mean. So I think they get aggressive almost by accident."
"My mother, Mrs Wilding," I was wondering how to phrase it, "she freaked out when she found out. Is that what you mean? Is it the same?" We were just sitting in the car, windows steaming up against the cold air outside. "I mean she's OK now, but she said that she doesn't approve, even if she accepts it."
"Could be, in a way. It's hard to think of your child as someone who's a sexual being, let alone one whose sexuality is relatively unconventional. Er, we aren't having this conversation, Christopher, by the way, just in case you wondered."
"I guessed." I was getting to like Mrs Wilding a lot. "Thanks. I, well, I didn't realise I needed someone to talk to. You've forgotten to call me 'Chris', though."
"It seemed like a 'Christopher' moment."
"People do that when things are important, use your full name. Still, at least it's only three syllables! How come I can talk to you about it all?"
"Because I don't matter, I think. I'm not really part of your life, I'm just a teacher, not someone who's going to be important to you for your lifetime. Maybe I'm someone who can help you when you need help, maybe not. Time will tell, and you'll decide. Maybe it was the shock you had today, too, seeing Billy like that, which let you talk, or made you want to. None of this embarrasses you?"
"It does a bit. But we're not talking about anything except love. I mean it's not as if I'm telling you stuff about what we may or may not do in private. That would be embarrassing. Er, if we did anything, I mean," I added quickly. I certainly didn't want to tell anyone about that. "I have a question, though."
"Well, earlier you told me that sometimes you can't keep confidences. What makes this different, suddenly?"
"I have truly no idea. But it just is." She thought for a moment. "I think it's because of what happened to Billy, and the way you reacted with his brother. Last term you were just any old kid; now there's something different about you, something neither adult nor child, and something that makes me content to trust you with the things in your life where I wouldn't trust anyone else. Er, Nigel isn't the same as you. I trust him because of you, Chris. He's not got the same power that you have. I'm saying this all wrong; the words don't come out the way I mean them to. Have you any idea what I'm talking about?"
I hadn't, not really. I didn't want to lie exactly, but I didn't want her to think I didn't understand either. "A little," I told her. "Is Mr Tranter gay, Mrs Wilding?"
"No idea. All I know is all you know. It looks as though he's been harming his sons, and it looks very much as though he abused Billy."
"I was too late. That's what's going through my mind. I knew something was wrong, but I was too late. Something in their eyes. Too late."
We talked a lot about that. I suddenly felt empty inside about it, and shock set in about how Billy had looked. I couldn't come to terms with his being such a little kid and being raped by his own father. Maybe by an older boy, or by another man, but his own father. That was hard to hear, hard to realise. I was scared to voice what was in my head. 'If,' I thought, "Billy and Geoff's father was gay, and if he...' There wasn't an adequate word for it, 'if he fucked his own sons, found them desirable, and since Billy was a good looking kid and I did have a feeling of something towards him, and since I found Nigel desirable, and since Nigel wasn't exactly totally physically mature, sprouting pubes and bum fluff on his face or not, since all of that was there, did that mean that I'd be a child molester when I was older? Did it? Was that what fate had in store for me?' I didn't like the idea of that.
In stories someone always knows what the hero is thinking, and if he can't speak about his thoughts they get him out of the mess with a 'by the way' line which solves his problem. Only this wasn't a story, and there wasn't a hero, and no-one was going to tell me the answer if I didn't ask the question. I tried to ask it. I really did try to ask it. Only every time I opened my mouth it either flapped shut again or I said something entirely different. It wasn't that Mrs Wilding would mind answering me, that I knew. I just didn't want to give the thought any power by using words and making it real. And it was also getting cold in the car with the engine off. "Can you get Nigel to come and join you in my office, withjout telling him anything?"
I could, and I did. Well, after a while I did. He wasn't easy to find. "Carol's going frantic wondering where Geoff is. Have you seen him?" He asked when I found him in the school hall.
"Yes. Look, that can wait. Mrs Wilding wants to see us, well to see you and me."
"That is us, you idiot!"
I was a bit flustered. "True. Anyway, she wants us in her office."
"Where've you been all this time?"
"First Mrs Wilding, then I'll tell you all about it."
We headed for the office, and I knocked on the door. Instead of calling 'come in', she came and opened it. I'd already told Nigel not to be worried. Mind you, I hadn't told him that Mrs Wilding knew about us. I hoped suddenly that she would be careful not to go into that part of our conversation. "Oh good, I'm glad Chris found you. I need some help, Nigel, of you can. I'll be very grateful if you can."
He looked blank. I got a weird image in my head of a chinchilla superimposed on him, head tilted and sort of chirruping a question to her. Totally insane image, especially since he simply waited to hear what she wanted. I wondered if he was chirruping inside, and sort of telepathing the message to me. "If I can, Mrs Wilding." His eyes were smiling, "But I do have to get the backstage area sorted out for the play soon, so it can't take too long."
"Well, it's about the play, with the play, that I need some help. Geoff Tranter can't go on stage tonight. I was wondering, hoping, that you could take his place? Chris says you know all the lines of all the parts."
"Oh. Er, That's scary. I know it all backstage, but I've never acted before. Like never. I don't know the moves or anything." He was glowing, though. I could feel him swell with pride.
"I can't think of anyone else to ask."
"Chris could do it?"
"He says not. He suggested you. Says you and he know all the lines, but that you can handle acting and that he'd be too nervous." Nervous? I was terrified at the idea. Somehow 'doing' things in public had always horrified me.
"I don't know the moves. I don't think it'll look as good as last night." I had the feeling he was going to accept. I watched him thinking.
"It's a lot to ask of you, Nigel. A very great deal. The role isn't small. We'll have a prompt on prompt side. All you have to do is look helplessly and they'll prompt you."
"Prompt side?" Nigel looked puzzled.
"Call yourself a stage hand," Mrs Wilding grinned. "Prompt side is where the prompt sits. The other side's called 'opposite prompt', only our stage is unusual, and prompt side is the wrong side for just about all other theatres."
"No-one's been there so far, whichever side it is. OK, I'll try my best. I'll do it. But can we have a quick run through of the key moves?"
"Chris, can you find the cast, please? And ask them to join us in the hall?" Obviously we weren't going to talk about the other stuff.
"Mrs Wilding, I think Nigel deserves to know what's been going on."
"Do you mind very much if I tell him while you round the cast up? I know I said you could be here, and you may if you really want to. It's just that we have so little time and so much to do. There's a costume to be altered for a start! Geoff isn't as slim as Mr Cropper here."
It seemed reasonable. And I trusted her to keep things so that Nigel didn't feel in any way compromised by her knowing about him and me. "Well, don't give him heart failure. He has to be on stage tonight!" That was the best I could do to drop the biggest hint I could without saying 'don't tell him I've told you anything about us.'
I found the cast easily enough. It was time for the cast tea, and they were all in the cafeteria. I found I was hungry and grabbed a handful of anonymous sandwiches. "We're all needed in the hall. Mrs Wilding asked me to come and get you."
"Where's Geoff, Chris?" Carol's voice was urgent. "There's something wrong, isn't there? I just know it. There's a rumour about the Tranters, that Billy's dead and Geoff is involved somehow and... "
"I've just been to see Geoff. And Billy. And no he isn't dead, and Geoff is only involved as Billy's big brother and is looking after him, but Billy's in hospital and Geoff can't go on stage tonight."
"Then who? How? Mrs Wilding'll be cancelling the play." She started to look crestfallen.
"No she won't, and you'll see. Now please can we follow the others and you'll find out."
"Christopher Jenkins you have the capacity to be totally aggravating at times. Who will take the part tonight?"
"The faster we get to the hall, the faster you'll know." I was being aggravating, too, just a little. There wasn't a lot wring with teasing Carol. I always had while we were together, and I saw no real reason to stop now.
To be fair it wasn't far from where we were to where we had to be. Nigel was already there, busying himself with wandering round the stage looking at things. "I don't; see anyone to play Geoff's part," Carol said to me. "Mrs Wilding, how can we possibly go on tonight without Geoff Tranter?"
Mrs Wilding ignored her question and all other questions. Instead she gathered us round her in what I'm sure she hoped would be a semicircle, and we turned into a huddle. "Geoff Tranter cannot take part in the play tonight," she announced. His brother was taken into hospital last night, and Geoff is needed at his bedside. So," she continued, without giving them a chance to interrupt, "I have asked Nigel Cropper to stand in as understudy." There were gasps of surprise. "Nigel," she carried on," knows all the lines. In fact he and Chris both know all the lines. It's one of the things that the stage crew always do. The thing he doesn't know is all the moves on the stage, so we need to help him with that now, before the performance." She paused for breath. "Any questions?"
Oh boy were there questions. None about Nigel. All about the rumours around the Tranters. And mainly about whether Billy was dead. It wasn't as though anyone was from his year, or knew him or anything. It was just that everyone was ghoulish about things like hospitals and injuries and stuff.
"Billy Tranter is in hospital because he tried to kill himself last night," Mrs Wilding said. "He nearly managed it, from what his mother said when we visited him this afternoon."
There was a chorus of people wanting to know who 'we' was, and also wanting to know how he'd tried to kill himself. She explained the first bit and not the last bit.
"Why you, Chris?" Nigel asked me quietly.
"I'm not really sure." I eased him away from the group while they were getting ready to start the run through. "Look, something awful's been going in to those two boys, and I suppose Geoff just needed someone to trust, somehow. I don't; really understand it."
"Mrs Wilding told me a little on the way over here. That sucks. Poor kid. Geoff too. I still don't understand why he wanted you, though."
"Nor do I, really." I took a deep breath. "Look, I'll tell you as much as I can, as much as I'm allowed to, I suppose, after you've done this run through."
It went pretty smoothly. We did the whole play at double speed, and Nigel was word perfect. He missed several cues to go offstage, though, leaving himself looking a total prat, but it didn't matter. "I'll get it," he said to me afterwards. "It'll work. I'm scared a bit, though. All those parents in the audience, and the rest of the whole school watching. The play itself, I think I can do that. It's the audience and the timings of the laughter. I'm bound to balls it up. Bound to."
"We have an hour, then you need to get into makeup and everything. Does the costume fit?"
"It's all held together with pins and things, but it'll work. I feel a bit silly kissing Carol, though."
"Make it a good kiss, a real one."
"Not sure I can. It feels disloyal"
"Pretend it's me, you idiot. It is a play. You're acting."
"Oh, I know. It's just that I don't want to kiss anyone except you, acting or not."
"I'm so proud of you. I wish I could hold you tight, here, now... "
"Go on, then! I dare you!"
"You're insane. We can't!" But I was wondering secretly of we could. There were the quiet backstage areas, behind the scenery flats.
"We can. And I like the idea. A lot." He took my hand, daring in itself, and led me into a secluded corner. At the front of the set, located on the forestage, outside the proscenium arch, the two embassies were built, a robust construction of scaffolding poles and more solid scenery than the canvass flats. The sidestage behind them was concealed by the scenery which made up the two storey embassies. Behind the scenery was a long, dark grey stage curtain, flown to cut off the backstage area totally from the scenery. And we went between that curtain and the embassy, where it was dark and quiet. "Now you can kiss me."
"You're sure it's sa...mmpphh... " Speech wasn't possible, not with Nigel's lips on mine, sweet, soft, hard at the same time, and fierce, pressing onto mine, locking onto mine, his tongue darting into my mouth, then his lips nibbling mine, hungry for mine. And I wasn't slow off the mark in returning the efforts, sucking his lower lip into my mouth, running my hands all over his back, holding him to me. And the concealment and need for total silence made the clinch all the more exciting. Real passion, a huge rush of passion, hit me, grabbed me and overwhelmed me. So proud of him, so needing comfort after the hospital, so small and alone suddenly because of what had happened to Billy. I needed Nigel. No I needed to serve him, needed to be his squire, somehow, like with medieval knights and jousts.
I found my hands running lower down his back, gripping his beautiful tight bum and pulling my hips into his, his hips into mine. I could. Here in this secret spot I could, if I dared. I could feel how excited he was, too. If I thought any more I was lost. I broke the lip and tongue fight, and slid to my knees in front of him. "You can't be serious?" But his voice wasn't one that tried to stop me.
"Can you stay quiet?" I didn't wait for an answer, I was busy fighting with his boxers inside his school trousers. I was scared, but determined. I wanted to simply give him a crashing orgasm there, on the stage, in school, in secret. I was almost ready myself and I wasn't doing anything except in my mind to do anything for myself. Just the constraints of my clothing and the sheer scariness of what I was about to do were already driving me to the brink. It wasn't; as though there was no-one around, either. There were noises in the hall of programmes being placed on chairs, and people all around us, just not near our hiding place.
I found the tip and worked it through his underwear and into the gloom. Didn't need lights, I knew his beautiful cock by heart and in Braille. This wasn't going to be subtle, nor drawn out, nor long. This was going to be a red hot wank into my mouth, and I was going to make him fight to stay quiet. I gripped the shaft and started to stroke up and down, exposing and covering the tip, faster, unsubtly faster, and as I got my rhythm I opened my mouth and touched the tip with my lips. Pumping, pumping, trying not to hit myself in the face I held his bum with my left hand, trying to steady him as his knees started to buckle, and stroked the shaft with a fury, used to knowing the signs as he was near cumming, feeling him tense,, I was aiming for a huge sudden drive to what I wanted to be, for him, a totally selfish orgasm. And I felt him harden still more and begin to vibrate. I pursed my lips onto the tip of his dick, with my tongue tip forcing into the slit, almost trying to block it, but waiting for the feeling that I wanted, that I knew he was dying to feel. Feeling his breathing stop, tongue out pursed lips sucking, not wanting to lose a drop, wanting my lips to drive him crazy while my hand did the work, as he arched his back and seemed to force his dick at my mouth, as though he wanted it inside, and then through the back of my throat. And then he came, hot, hard and sudden, the river shooting into my sucking mouth, his usual cry so muted I could just hear him pant as he breathed again.
I never got used to his flavour. It was different each time, the same underlying flavour of a hint of bitterness tinged with something indefinable, something exciting, primal, essentially Nigel, wonderful, deeply personal. And today it was such a sudden thing, and the situation so erotic, there between the curtain and the back of the embassy, hidden on the stage, that I found I was there, too, unexpected, untouched, amazed, and shooting into my underwear, soaking my front with hot fluid. So unexpected I cried out. Not loud. I thought not loud. It couldn't have been loud.
"For God's sake," Nigel hissed as quietly as he could manage, "I'm the one who came, why are you making that noise?"
Wordlessly I stood up, putting his gorgeous weapon away as I did so, trying to breathe normally. I was so turned on. This was almost a public show, except, I hoped, no-one else had heard or seen. I took his left hand and guided it into my trousers, inside the waistband, guided it into the liquefying pool where I'd filled my boxers, guided it to the tip of my so far untouched dick. And then I kissed his nose.
"Ah, that's why," he whispered to me. "Wow. I've never done that. Awesome. No, not awesome. Astounding."
"I love you, Nigel Cropper. Damn this is wet!"
"You'll have to frame those underpants," he whispered into my ear. "Unwashed."
"I like the feeling, though, wet or not. Er, Nigel?"
"Has it come through my trousers? Does it show?" I was suddenly worried about dark damp, crispy stains.
"Let's get out of here."
We pulled back the curtain to see the empty sidestage that we'd expected filled with Mrs Wilding. And she wasn't looking away from us. "There you are," she said as we emerged, and she beckoned us over. She fixed me and Nigel with a gimlet stare. "Christopher, I'm not going to ask and I don't want to know. I really do not want to know." She was speaking very quietly. It wasn't a pleasant experience to hear her. "I simply do not expect you to be hiding somewhere with Nigel and making me wonder what you might have been doing. In school, young man, is not the place to make me not ask what you have been doing. How clear do I need to make it? Whatever it is I trust you with, do not rub my nose in that trust."
I was blushing furiously. I'd let her down, and it was important not to let her down. I was looking at the floor. The words seemed inadequate, but I meant them. "Sorry, Mrs Wilding."
"I have not seen or heard anything Christopher. Nor do I wish to see of hear anything. If I did, and didn't do something I'd lose my job. I like you a great deal. I like you both," she glanced at Nigel, "but I will not put myself at risk like that, and I will not have you doing that to me." And almost without drawing breath she changed the topic, but not the tone. If you ever saw John Cleese in Clockwise in the assembly scene you'd know what I mean. "Nigel, I need you to get made up and dressed in five minutes, please." And she headed for the door.
"She knows? She knows! Fuck, Chris, how does she know?" Blue eyes can blaze. Even in the weird backstage twilight I could see his eyes blazing.
"She knows because she guessed. And I haven't had the time or the chance to tell you." I wasn't shamefaced about it. I was shamefaced about letting Mrs Wilding down. Except I didn't think I had. What I was, was embarrassed at getting discovered by her so soon after... Well, discovered in that way.
"But it's a fucking disaster if she knows!"
"No. No, it isn't. Nigel, she's really nice. She's cool about us. She really is." I realised suddenly that he was very near to tears. I had no way, there, of helping him by holding him. The gift I'd wanted, needed, to give him so badly was all very well, but I'd so fucked up with the time and the place. I'd scared him. When I'd wanted to give him pleasure, I'd run into the problem I hadn't expected to have, the fact that I hadn't told him properly about my conversations with Mrs Wilding. "I should've told you. I meant to tell you. She seems to understand. She isn't against us. She can't support us exactly, but she's cool about us. As long as we don't do what we just did, that is."
The tears, imminent tears, they'd gone as suddenly as they'd arrived. I was still blushing, though. "Was awesome, though, wasn't it?"
"Damn right. Sticky, too."
"Well, if you will wet your pants, what d'you expect?"
"Aren't you due in makeup?" I was cheering up, well, I'd already cheered up. The memory was still running round inside my head of the way we'd sneaked that amazing time with each other, how we'd made love, well how I'd given him a crashing blow job, on stage, in school, with the added danger of being found out. And how we had been found out, but by the only teacher I trusted to ignore it. Once, anyway.
"I'm going. Idiot. I do, you know."
"Love you. That's what. God I am so nervous about this play, though. I can't wait until it's over."
"You'll be fine." He would, too, I was sure of that, but I was nervous for him as well. It was a hard thing I'd volunteered him for, certainly one I couldn't do myself. "Listen I don't think I'll see you before you go on, so break a leg."
"You don't say 'good luck' in the theatre, dummy. That gives bad luck, so you wish something bad to give good luck. I've seen it on TV. They always say 'break a leg' when they want to wish an actor good luck."
"Weird. I suppose I'd better go and break one, then."
"Mrs Wilding'll break one for you if you hang about here any longer!"
If you liked this chapter, If you like the story, find more at my website http://www.iomfats.org, and from there also link to the Teenage Gay Boy Love Stories Webring where we have gathered authors who write fact and fiction about teenage male romance. And if you are an author yourself, please don't hesitate to go to the Webring Signup page at http://www.iomfats.org/ringmaster.htm and submit your own website for consideration for membership. Our Webring gets in excess of 3,000 hits a week. We must be doing something right! Click here for the list of TGBL Webring Sites [if your browser does not show this link, simply visit my website's links page].
Section 28 of the United Kingdom Local Government Act 1988 MUST go. Those who want it kept say that it stops our kids being "taught to be homosexual". Well I have a son, a teenage son. If you read my life story on the website you'll see and understand. My son knows I am gay. It hasn't made him want to try being gay out. You don't try it out, however well informed you are, you just don't. And he's well informed, because I answer any questions he asks me. Being unstr8 is one thing; choosing to be unstr8 is quite another. Of course it must happen, but it is so rare as to be statistically irrelevant. Section 28 is about scaring good teachers away from helping the kids who need their help. This is a bad UK law. If you want to join the campaign against it, there is a page on my website, accessible from the home page. Please join this campaign. Whatever country you live in, please join the campaign.