At hike's end, Brett's tanned skin glowed with an erotic sheen that rippled and shimmered with his every move--minus a tan line--the reward of constant sun exposure. Woohoo! I wondered what Susan would say about that when she got an arousing eyeful.
During the Christmas holidays, Susan and Brett spent a lot of time with Melanie and me, including at the beach where Brett tried surfboarding. He lasted all of five wobbly seconds on his feet but enjoyed the experience. It gave him an insight into my addiction to the sport.
At times, I noticed bruises on Brett's back, no doubt the result of beatings by his mom's boyfriend. I chose not to comment. When Brett enjoyed a good mood, I daren't risk spoiling it.
Stuart, Graham and I got friendly with a group of Swedish teen tourists staying at a local Bed and Breakfast. I spent an enjoyable day teaching those Scandinavian blonds to ride a board. Being such hot lookers, they attracted girls like flies to you-know-what. Yeah, my generosity had an ulterior motive. Hey, blame the testosterone.
Christmas day was a quiet family affair so Brett was not expected to visit. When he did, I surprised him with two gifts. "Jeez, Kyle, I didn't get you a damn thing!"
"No prob, I wasn't expecting anything. Besides, you needed a new watch strap, so I got you one--island style. And a thick book of jokes. That's to make you smile more often `cause you got such a wicked smile."
"Is there anything you don't notice about me? Forget it. Dumb question."
The following Monday, Brett visited again; this time carrying a cylindrical package. "Hey, bro, this is for you. Merry Christmas."
"Fair dinkum, mate, you didn't have to do that!" I was nonetheless pleased and curious. "What is it?"
"A three-foot condom. Man, I'm sorry I didn't give it to you before Christmas, but I wasn't sure what you'd say if I bought you something."
What did he mean by that? That gift-giving between friends was wussy? I invited him to my room where I unwrapped the tube and checked the contents. It was a totally neat surfing poster. Outtasight! "Thanks, Brett. Thanks a stack. Now I owe you a blow job."
"You're crazy, Kyle," he laughed. "Totally off the wall. But I'm really chuffed you like the poster."
"It rules. Absolutely rules. I'm gonna put it on my wall right now."
Brett helped me with the Blue Tac, then stood back to admire the poster. "Hey, Kyle," he said with some hesitancy, "Monday after New Year's my mom's going away for the night. You wanna sleep over?"
The local pizza restaurant was packed as usual. Stuart, Brett and Graham were there with their girlfriends. I got a kick out of watching Graham's girl; she was besotted with her handsome pint-size beau, and a major cutie herself.
After walking the grommet and his girl home, the rest of us hit Green Room for a couple of beers. Couple? To make matters worse, Stuart and Brett disappeared for a while to smoke a joint. By night's end we guys were horribly trashed, which upset the girls big time. They toddled off in a steaming huff to Susan's place. Brett and I saw Stuart home before heading to Brett's where, immediately upon entering his room, Mr. Invincible crashed in a pathetic heap on his bed.
"Cool," I laughed. "Now that you're totally trashed I can give you that blow job I promised."
"Cut the crap, Kyle," he moaned, "I'm too stuffed to tolerate your idiotic bullshit."
I ignored my mate's lethargic protest and jumped on him. After ripping off his shirt, I started to undo his jeans. "Touch me, Kyle, and you're dead meat."
"You're too stuffed, remember?"
An absence of further protest encouraged me to remove the rest of his clothes which left him lying there in his boxers. He didn't stay prone for long, though. My sick mate rolled off the bed and staggered to the bathroom where he spent an age puking noisily. Meanwhile, I undressed to my underwear.
The smell of peppermint toothpaste was on his breath after returning and collapsing once more onto his bed. "You okay?" I asked.
"As a dying dog."
No, I didn't go through with my promise of giving him a blow job. But we did enjoy mutual masturbation. Nothing was said; not a word. Then we took turns in the bathroom to clean ourselves. On my return to the bedroom, I dutifully stepped into my boxers and pulled them on before preparing to sleep head to toe as usual. "Fuck, Kyle," he grumbled, "lie here on the bed normally. It's just us." I gave my friend a sheepish grin, then laid next to him, head to head. His hand found my leg, an apparent gesture of consolation and empathy. He understood my embarrassment and concern.
"Hey, Brett, I don't know what you're feeling right now. Maybe what we did was weird or whatever but I thought it was pretty damn special. It probably won't happen again so I'll remember it forever."
"How are you feeling?" he asked.
"Kinda strange; different. You?"
"Fucking special." Brett cuddled up to me and placed his arm across my chest, then threw a leg across mine.
"You got a boner again," I chuckled.
Brett had already showered when I woke. "There's a fresh towel in the bathroom," he offered.
Over the next several days, neither of us mentioned what took place during the sleepover. One night, following an energetic stint at Green Room, and taking the girls home, Brett and I strolled down to the beach. I figured it would be a good place to chill for a while, and maybe get to know what dark secrets were invading Brett's puzzled mind.
We stopped at some rocks and rested our butts, taking a few moments to admire the twinkling stars and the swirling luminescence of the moonlit shore break. I eventually punctuated the absence of conversation: "So, you gonna hike with us again sometime?"
"You better believe it! That was one of the most unbelievable experiences I've had."
"I'm glad you liked it. It was cool having you along."
"And the guys are all great as well."
"Yeah," I laughed, "Gareth fancied your nads."
"He tried to grab them once when we were skinny dipping in the river, but that was cool...the way the guys are totally relaxed around each other."
"I thought you'd blow a gasket when he did that."
"I almost did."
Time for the biggie. "And the other night?"
A long silence followed. Then: "Can I be honest with you?" he asked, eyes deliberately fixed on the white foam scampering to shore.
"You know you can."
"What I tell you doesn't go to Melanie?"
"You crazy or something? What do you think she'd say about what happened between you and me? `That's really cute, Kyle'. Yeah, right. I don't think the girls need to know about this."
"No, just Melanie."
"When I went steady with Melanie, I always bagged fags and gays and queens. I was fanatical about it. If you'd so much as tried to touch me in those days you'd have ended up in hospital...or worse. I don't want Melanie thinking any different."
"Like she hasn't noticed a difference in you?"
"All of a sudden you got a load of friends? School prefect?"
"I don't have a load of friends, Kyle. You, Stuart...sort of. Frank Wisdom when I do well at swimming."
"He's a cool little grommet but I don't class him as a friend."
"Anyway, we're drifting here. You were gonna say something about being honest with me."
"This is so damn difficult," Brett sighed, eyes searching the vagueness of the shimmering ocean. "It's just that the other night ... us ... I enjoyed that. And my mind is fucked up about it."
"Why? `Cause it's supposed to be a gay thing? And you're not supposed to enjoy it?"
"Maybe. But it's also because I enjoy touching you, and being touched by you. I can't explain how good it made me feel for us to be that close... and..." Brett's gaze fell to the sand at his feet. "It should feel wrong."
"Well, it felt pretty cool for me too. Not as good as the blow job I promised you, but, hey..."
"Fuck, Kyle, don't joke about it. I'm not comfortable with this convo as it is."
"I worry as well."
Brett's eyes met mine for a moment. "About what?"
"Well, once you called me a faggot, and I was wondering what went through your mind the other night."
"I've never thought of you as a fag. I already told you that." Then, without warning, Brett's solemn expression turned to laughter. "Got your attention though, didn't I? Hahaha!"
But I didn't share the humor. "And now?"
"If I labeled you now, I'd have to label myself. I'm feeling kinda guilty about it but at the same time..."
"At the same time?"
"I'm almost hoping we can do that again sometime...when or if it felt right for both of us." Brett's focus returned to the horizon. "Fuck, now I'm pissing you off, aren't I."
"Yeah, right," I cracked. "Now you've given me a hardon. Wanna blow me?" Brett relaxed, saw the funny side, and joined the laughter. "So, you enjoyed it?"
"It was like when I'm with Susan and we're naked together ... but different. Hey, I don't know what it is. I guess I'd explain it as explosive."
"Well, I've been thinking about getting that close to you for a long time. For me, it just makes our friendship that much more special. It started months ago when I met you for boxing in the mornings: the shoulder rubs, the shower boners. I felt pretty close to you then. But you were just so damn paranoid about getting close to me...or any other guy. The other night...when you put your leg and arm over me, and got right up close, that was pretty damn special. Jacking you was cool, but just being close was even more special. Real special. You surprised the hell outta me when you did that."
"By that stage it had gone so far I guess I didn't care anymore. And..."
"I also wanted to be that close."
"Tell you what, though," I ventured, needing to know how far I could push the topic, "if we do get another chance, I might try to go further."
"You know I would not allow that. And I don't think you should try. It would just screw up our friendship." He paused a moment to search my eyes again. "Have you gone further?"
"You really want to know?"
Tank tops were all the protection we had from the chilly on-shore wind so we took a slow walk back to my house. At the front gate, I threw my arms around Brett and put my cheek to his. He returned the hug and bade me goodnight.
Naturally, I kept G up to date with everything that happened. He wasn't surprised at all that Brett was warming to me. You don't just make friends, Kyle. You form strong attachments. You bond--to quote your less than charming phrase--like shit to a blanket. There were times I thought Brett might be beyond redemption. Forgive me for doubting your determination and resilience. I'm not only pleased for you, my friend, but also pleased for Brett. Friends like you are a rare find indeed.
Meanwhile, my mate Stuart's latest behavior was bizarre to say the least. He hooked up with a rich divorcee from Melbourne who made frequent business trips to Byron. She was loaded, and treated the blond himbo to the high life: posh hotels, restaurants, clothes, money, you name it. He was her toy boy. She was forty something but a real looker for her age. From what Stuart admitted I gathered she was a sex freak who taught him a bunch of new tricks. That was a revelation; I thought Stuart knew it all.
How did I feel about it? Totally pissed off. He was a male whore and I deeply resented his obsession with a woman old enough to be his mother. I was also jealous, and hated his constant references to being a "real man". What was that supposed to infer? That I wasn't? To add salt to the wound, he was a year younger than me.
"You're not the one who's jealous, Kyle. Stuart is. He's trying to prove something to himself via you. Stay out of his juvenile battles with his own identity crisis. Don't be his fall guy. Remain friendly but at an arm's length and give him time to work out his problems. One of you needs to be strong right now, and my money's on Captain Kyle."