Despite my intolerance of substance abuse, Brett's more than occasional binges influenced me. One night, Susan and Melanie organized a girls-only pajama party, so Brett and I clubbed together. In the early hours, after a skinful of booze, we staggered and puked our way to the cold showers at the beach. Stripped to our boxers, we continued to puke even while showering.
Brett asked: "You didn't really drink before we met, huh?"
"Stuart and I got out of it a few times."
"I can't remember when I started to get trashed. It was before I met Susan, I know that much."
"How do you stay so fit?"
"That's easy," he laughed. "Hundreds of sit-ups, pushups, skipping every morning and night."
"I noticed the skipping rope on your bedroom wall. Is all that exercise for boxing?"
"Just for me."
"So why get trashed so much?"
"Helps me handle things."
"Your mom's boyfriend?"
"The dungeon master himself. Hey, it's getting cold, mate. Let's get dressed and head home."
"Dressed? Let's walk home like this, in our boxers."
A few drivers honked their horns as we swayed and swaggered home, and a couple of wolf-whistling girls waved from their car windows. Our wet cotton boxers clung like a second skin and didn't hide too much in the glare of headlights.
Once home in his room, Brett raised his arms and asked me to pull his boxers off. "I'm gonna puke again if I bend down," he reasoned. After stepping out of his underwear, he collapsed backwards onto the bed, rolled over onto his stomach, and asked me to give him a back rub. I discarded my boxers and happily obliged.
"You ever consider becoming one of those massage dudes who visits old ladies at home?" Brett chuckled. "You'd have to massage more than their backs, though."
I finished his upper torso, buns and strong legs, then asked him to turn over. He resisted. "Why not?"
"Got a cockstand."
"Mine's not exactly shriveled."
My eyes feasted on a smorgasbord of physical perfection, heightened to a surreal level of intensity by intimacy. The human need to touch both overwhelmed and rewarded me. I drew a quick breath as my hands smoothed the silkiness of tanned skin fused to my friend's superb muscular definition. Not an ounce of fat was evident.
When Brett took his turn to massage me, he boosted my ego by complimenting my physique. It wasn't as tight as his, but my fitness was nonetheless apparent.
It is said that a standing cock has no conscience. Once again, we enjoyed mutual masturbation.
Next morning, Brett turned up at my house, cheerful and relaxed despite the night's activities, which I suspected led to some anxiety and soul searching on his part. We spent the day at the beach with Graham, Melanie and Stuart. Brett bodysurfed while the rest of us rode our boards. But he was happy with that. He was a good bodysurfer.
On the first day of the new school year, I found it strange to see Brett wearing a prefect badge. We were chatting in the quad when Mitch Match approached. He was a senior the previous year but his exam results were below university entrance requirements. He decided to repeat year 12. "Hey, corporal," he sneered.
"Can't get enough punishment?" Brett asked. "Watch your sleazy mouth, Mitch, or I'll rearrange it."
"Oh, yeah? Says who? You're a prefect now, dude. That means no more fights."
"It means no more fights here at school, fuckwit. You gonna hang around here 24 hours a day?"
Brett's retort did the trick. The fool wandered off. "You sure you're cut out to be a prefect?" I asked.
"No, not sure. For one thing, I get ground-monitoring duty to make sure guys don't smoke or take drugs on school property, then there are prefect meetings, and now there's some leadership camp to attend. It sucks."
Meanwhile, a disagreement with a teacher led to my feeling down for the next few days. The word got around, and other teachers pre-empted anything I might say in class before I could open my mouth. "And in the event you feel compelled to disagree with the lesson, Kyle, keep your opinions to yourself." They bullied me into submission. I felt deprived of freedom of speech. Unfortunately, I vented my anger on Graham one afternoon after school. Brett recognized my mood next day and asked if I wanted to hit the bag with him.
"You're too strung out."
"You're talking to me, Kyle. What's up?"
"You haven't been jacking around lately like you normally do. You haven't mentioned dick once."
Well, that unexpectedly cracked us both up. "Seriously, mate," he said, "you look lower than shark shit."
"Okay, I upset Graham yesterday and he's taking it personally. I must've sounded like his dad."
"You blew up at everyone yesterday. I can't believe you had that showdown in class."
"Yeah, well, I'm tired of teachers being dictators."
"So why did you take it out on the grommet?"
"He's got this damn obsession about Melanie blowing him. He's been quizzing me relentlessly about what it's like. He reckons he and I are bros, so it's okay to share my girl. Yeah, right. He wants me to ask Melanie if she'll blow him."
Brett laughed so hard I thought he'd never stop. "C'mon, Kyle, the little bloke is finally learning what his dick is for, and he needs you to help him out here." Brett paused a moment to crack up again. "Hey, for a little bloke he's pretty well hung and he needs to do something else with it besides stir his Milo."
"It's not funny, Brett. He spoke to Melanie himself."
"I bet she said yeah."
"I think she did."
"I knew it."
"Melanie is a totally cool chick but she used to drive me crazy jealous `cause of the way she eyeballed all the hunky good-looking guys. One time we were in bed and she told me about this gorgeous guy she saw at the mall."
"Piss off. Anyway, that basically ended our relationship. And you, Kyle," he added, poking my chest, "have got a tiny prob `cause that little guy's got it all going for him. I've never seen a 12 year-old with a bod like his. And he's got the looks, and a cock that's got his mates wondering where they went wrong."
"So what do you think?"
"Well, it's a tough one. I'm not sure I'd allow Susan to do that...blow Graham, I mean. Anyway, that's not Susan. But I'd love to be a fly on the wall when his face screws up in pain and his cock is all tender, and he thinks there's something wrong with it. Hey, Kyle, it's your call, mate. Honestly, I'd let it happen. Yeah, even with Susan now that I think about it. Then again, I guess it's Melanie's decision."
"She thinks I'm cool about it."
"I think so...only `cause it's him."
"Then chill before I clout you...or put you on the detention record."
The following Friday, after school, I watched cricket on TV with Graham and my dad before rocking over to Brett's, where I met Susan, Melanie and Stuart (with yet another girlfriend). It was midnight before we hit Green Room which was humming. After a few drinks, I was legless.
"Hey, Stuart," Brett yelled above the pounding of the music, "what the hell did you put in Kyle's drink?"
"Nothing much. Just a little mickey to liven things up."
"You asshole. He's supposed to be going home later. How's he gonna do that under his own steam?"
Next thing I knew, I was at Susan's place being fed gallons of black coffee. "How do you feel now?" Brett asked.
"Bloated. I feel like the Michelin Man." Then I passed out.
It was 6am before I was sufficiently steady on my feet for Brett to walk me home. He wanted to ensure I didn't get too much flak from my folks and was ready to cover for me.
"We worry about him," my dad said at the front door. "But we'd worry a whole lot more if you weren't with him. Thanks for seeing him home, Brett."
Later in the week, Stuart and I were skinny dipping in my pool when the phone rang. By the time I answered the call inside the house I was puffing. "What's up?" asked the voice. "You sound like you've been running or something."
"G'day, Brett. I was out back. Stuart's here."
"Oh? Well, I just wanted to check if it's okay if I rock around earlier tonight for study, like about six."
"Cool. You can have dinner with us."
"Nah. I don't wanna cause any hassle. It'll be okay."
"It won't be okay with my mom. She'll shovel food down your screech whether you want it or not. She thinks you're sexy, and it'll give her time at the table to check you out."
"She said that? Yeah, right, Kyle, don't bullshit me."
"See you at six."
Brett dumped his school bag on my bed. "I hope Stuart didn't leave on account of me."
"Nope. We just fooled around in the pool for a while. He apologized for spiking my drink...said he got into a whole lotta crap with everyone at the club...thought you were gonna bash his brains in `cause you were so mad."
"I was more worried about you. You were totaled."
At the school pool, Graham complained of trouble meeting the swim team criteria so I offered to help with his training. It wasn't easy. I enlisted Brett's assistance.
"Trying to help the grommet with team selection."
"That's gonna take every spare minute you got!"
"He'd have to be with you coaching him," Brett laughed. "Wanna hand?"
Brett wasn't the kinda bloke to do things by half, and gave Graham a tough time in the water. "Listen up, if you want Kyle to help you then you gotta make a plan...and listen! Okay? I'm gonna swim a few laps with you, and stay behind. And if you don't pay attention to what I'm saying, I'll rip your Speedos off and burn `em, `cause you won't be needing them."
"Yeah? Well, you'll have to catch me first!"
Suddenly, the fiery kid's stroke came together. Brett hung around the pool for an hour or so while I took over Graham's training. Before he left, he gave me this advice: "He's improved a helluva lot. Just keep him practicing his natural full stroke."
Next time I met Brett in the gym he'd arrived early. He was a lather of glistening sweat when I showed, beating the crap out of the bag and obviously not in a talkative mood. I went to the other side of the bag and noticed his swollen and bruised left cheek.
"I'm not in the mood for an inquisition, Kyle," he snapped, giving the bag another hammering.
"Did you watch the cricket last night?"
"You're stressing. Besides, somebody used you for a punching bag."
He dropped his hands and glared at me. "Kyle, I'm okay. I need some time to think. You're always trying to figure out my life for me. Just for once, leave me the fuck alone to sort it out by myself."
"Looks like you're getting it sorted out for you."
Brett lost control and pushed me hard against the wall. "Stop!" he growled. "You never know when to drop it. I'll sort myself out. If you carry on being a detective I'll brain you. Go help your grommet mate with his swimming or something."
"So what now? You think I'm not your mate? Your eyes are on fire, Brett. I'm just trying to help."
"I don't need help right now. I just need some space."
"Your mom's boyfriend do that to your face?"
The force of the jab to my gut caused me to double over. "You didn't need to do that, Brett," I complained as he returned to the bag. "I just asked a question."
"Yeah, life sucks. Now leave me alone."
"Why? Is our friendship getting too intense for you to handle?"
"Where the fuck did that come from?"
"'Cause if we're friends, then we can share problems, right?"
"I'll tell you something for nothing," he said, pausing to face me. "And you can take this any way you like. There are times when you ask too many questions. And when I don't answer, you carry on and on and fucking on."
"'Cause I'm your mate."
"Don't think I don't know that already. You're the only real friend I've had. But! You can be so damn annoying!"
At break, Brett sat under a tree making notes in his little black book. I didn't bother him then or again later in class.
Next morning, Brett was on prefect duty at the school gate. Graham's blazer was unbuttoned. "Do it up," I ordered as we approached. He wanted to know why. "You'll get detention."
"But Conan's your mate."
"Just button your blazer, and button your lip while you're at it."