Within a few days of the tour routine regained control; school, swim training, surfing and clubbing on weekends. One Friday night, after taking the girls home, Brett asked me to sleep over. His folks were away for the weekend.
We sat naked on a wooden bench in the small, leafy courtyard where Brett smoked a joint. He had already smoked one on the walk home. I declined his offer of a puff. I wasn't into drugs but nevertheless chose not to lecture him. The evening vibe was pleasant and I wanted to keep it that way.
"I've got the most incredible munchies," he announced after sending a cloud of blue smoke into the cool night air. "Hungry?"
"If you're gonna make something, I'll have some too."
"Bacon and egg zonks?"
I followed him into the kitchen and watched him fry bacon and eggs. Meanwhile, he mixed a sauce of mayonnaise, herbs, pickles and other ingredients. He placed the fried bacon and eggs on two slices of buttered bread, topped them with tomato, onion and lettuce, then a generous dollop of mayo sauce, and, finally, two more slices of buttered bread.
Back in the courtyard, sitting on the same side of the timber table, I took my first bite. "Wow! These are fantastic!"
Following our meal, Brett about-faced, then laid back on the bench so that his head rested on my chest. One of his legs stretched the length of the bench while the other dangled lazily over the side. He was totally relaxed. Instinctively, my arms enveloped his warmth and my fingers found the firm folds of his abs. Then, to my amazement, he took my arm in his hand. "This is so cool," he said, "and unreal." I didn't answer. I didn't need to. Bliss needs no words of explanation.
We remained in that position for a long time, occasionally sipping our drinks, but saying very little. Idle conversation seemed redundant in our private world, ruled by closeness and companionship: naked bodies, naked souls, gentle hearts.
Brett eventually dozed off, still leaning against my chest. I felt the weight of his body increase as he succumbed to deep slumber. Even in sleep, his body was an inspired vision of tanned and perfectly defined magnificence. I couldn't resist sending my fingers on a gentle mission to his crotch where I explored his hardness. He had been erect all night, which made me wonder if I should take the liberty to... No, he might freak and that would have spoiled the moment. However, I did take advantage of his deep sleep to run my finger tips ever so lightly around his inner thighs and each perfect egg.
"Hey!" he yelled! "Wake up, you lazy fuck!"
"Wha...? Huh? Jeez!" It was morning.
"I made coffee," he grinned as sat on the side of his bed, which I still occupied.
"You must've sorted yourself out already," I suggested, noting his lazy cock draped across his nads.
"That's for me to know and you to guess." He waited for me to take a sip of coffee before continuing. "I really enjoyed last night."
"Green Room always raves on a Friday."
"No, Kyle, I'm talking about afterwards. I really enjoyed that."
"Me too. It's weird how you can experience times like...you know...that feel really special. Coffee's good."
"You surfing today?"
"Home first. Then chores; a neighbor's garden. Surf later."
Back at school, after swim training, I waited in the locker room for Brett to finish his shower. A bright red welt glowed like a neon sign across his butt. "Sit on a hot poker or something?" I asked as he dressed.
"Don't start. Shit-for-brains sprung me taking some of his stash. Happy now? Anyway, it's not over yet. I scrammed outta there so damn quickly this morning."
"Not over yet?"
"I reckon he'll mess with me again later. I've never seen him that mad."
"I thought you got stuff from Stuart?"
"He wasn't around so I got into Shit-for-brains' stash."
"Thought about going to the cops?"
"Here we go, Kyle the not-so-bright mate," he mocked while sending his powerful arms down his shirt sleeves. "And then? Then what?"
"I dunno. Report him for abuse or something."
"Yeah, right. My mom will love me for that."
"What does she say about it?"
"She doesn't know. He never hits me when she's around. And he knows I won't tell her."
"You scared of him?"
"It's a long story, Kyle. Basically, she's happy with the bloke. I've never seen her happier, and I think she's in love with the fuck. I don't wanna screw things up for her."
"Does he hit her?"
"No. In fact, he's good to her and for her. I'm sure he loves her too, and he does a lot for her."
"You got your boxers on inside out."
"What's the buzz with you then?"
"Personality clash, I think. We've never liked each other."
"That is a total fuck-up, man."
"It's my problem. I'll handle it."
"Doesn't look like you're handling it very well."
"Every other week you've got new bruises."
"Hey, I enjoy getting beaten up. I get off on it. Anyway, you wouldn't handle it any differently."
"Come around to my place after school," I suggested. "Wait for your mom to get home before you go back."
"Stop going into a fucking panic, dude."
His flippancy snapped my patience like a dry twig. I shoved him off balance. After a few wobbles, he steadied himself and glared fire in readiness to tear me apart, but chose instead to hear me out. "No! Not what-fucking-ever. My name is Kyle, not `dude'. Stop treating me like a piece of shit whenever I want to help. Okay? I get fucked-up mad `cause one day you're not gonna be in school `cause he's beaten you into hospital or something!"
Brett used excessive strength to grab my wrists and hold them aloft. "Listen up, I've taken care of myself for ten years now—since I was seven—so I can handle it. Okay? But I'm not sure how to handle you! One of my biggest hassles is you, Kyle. One day you're not gonna be around. We're gonna go our separate ways. That's something I'm not sure I can deal with right now. So stop putting me on the back foot `cause I don't wanna fight with you."
Brett's eyes weren't the only ones watering. "Okay, okay. No more arguments...for now. Please let go of my wrists. My hands are turning blue."
Graham's cricket practice that afternoon prevented him from joining Brett and I on the walk home. Upon reaching Brett's gate, I asked if I could take a leak. When I emerged from the loo, Shit-for-brains was standing just outside the door, facing Brett and holding a length of hose. My mate was shirtless, wearing only his khaki school pants and brown shoes. "You need to go, Kyle."
I was shocked, and felt helpless. The reality of Brett's predicament was right before my eyes. The bruises and the welts I saw so often in the gym flashed through my mind but this time the vision included a hose making contact with his naked skin.
"Your friend gonna go or what?" SFB demanded, menacingly.
"Get outta here, Kyle."
"Will you call me later?"
"Maybe. Just get the fuck outta here. Now."
"I can't. What's going on here?"
"You're friend is a thief," SFB thundered, "and he needs to be taught a lesson."
"You're gonna hit him with a length of hosepipe?"
SFB slammed the hose against the wall, causing a loud and frightening bang. "Who do you think you're talking to?"
Brett manhandled me down the hall toward the door. "Fuck off, Kyle, before you get it too."
I was bordering on hysterical, but somehow managed to contain my emotion. "What? You're just gonna stand there and get beaten? That's not the Brett I know. Fight the fucker back!"
"Go home, Kyle."
The door closed in my face. I stood there on the stoop for a few moments and heard the sound of hitting but nothing more. No voices. How could this be? I ran home and phoned. No answer. I phoned again. Nothing. About an hour later, the phone rang.
"Hey. Are you okay?"
"Making supper—macaroni and cheese. Want some?"
When Brett's front door opened, there stood the shorts-clad Adonis wearing that special smile I cherished so much; that so captivated me and sent my spirit soaring. "Supper's almost ready. Follow me."
"Mmmmm," I gushed as he used a mitt to remove the casserole dish from the oven. "Smells wicked! Shit over now?"
"Yep. Did you try to call?"
"Sorry, mate. I unplugged the phone. Did you tell your dad?"
"Thought about it, but I figured you'd be totally pissed off if I did."
Brett spooned the steaming macaroni onto two white plates, then asked if I'd like to eat supper out on the bench. "The bench?"
"What do you mean the bench? There's only one bench. Oh...I see. Yeah, that bench."
"Is the food edible?"
"I'm a fuckup most of the time," he joked, "but I can cook."
We sat at the outdoor table where I took my first mouthful. "Oh—this—is—good!" was my instant and genuine verdict. "Mmmmm! Delish! You're gonna need to teach me to cook sometime. Wicked!"
"Your hike food was pretty good. I can still see you squatting by the gas bottle cooking bacon and eggs in the pan. Nothing tastes as good as bacon and eggs out there in the bush, mate. Good tucker."
"Yeah, but I can't eat hike food all my life."
Conversation was limited to occasional small talk during the meal. I got the impression my company was what Brett most needed right then; a friend to reassure him that the world, or at least his world, wasn't all bad.
After eating, Brett went to the kitchen with the empty plates and made tea. "Kyle, I need you to do something for me."
"Susan's out with friends. I need you to sort out this cut for me. And, don't worry, I've already showered."
"I could care less if you were covered in mud."
"Why am I not surprised to hear that?"
He handed me the tube of antiseptic cream then about-faced and dropped his shorts and boxers to his ankles while I knelt behind him. Actually, I felt kinda weird squatting there, just inches away, checking out his hairless butt. "Crikey! You got a bright red stripe across your cheeks. The skin has lifted. Not that big but it looks nasty."
I took my time cleaning the wound, then smeared it with antiseptic cream. Ya know... I mean like how many chances does a bloke get to ... conduct a detailed—if not all that scientific—study of the all-time derriere de la butt?
"You gonna be there all bloody night?"
"I can see your hangers between your legs. They're kinda pear-shaped. Your hangers, I mean."
"It's not my balls that are worrying me, Kyle."
"Does Susan normally do this for you?"
"She has a few times."
"What do you tell her?"
"She knows better than to ask ... NOT like a certain friend of mine."
"Ever ask your mom?"
"Don't be stupid."
"Where's SFB now?"
"He and mom are visiting friends of his."
"Didn't think he had any."
Brett lifted his boxers and shorts. Then I helped him with the dishes. "When I saw the hose, I thought he was gonna whip your back."
"Hell no! He knows I'm on the swim team. He won't hit me there. Anyway, he normally only hits me once, sometimes with his fist."
"What are you gonna do about him?"
"Nothing. Another year and I'll get my own digs somewhere. Just need to find a job so I can afford it."
"What about school? I thought you might stay another year for post matriculation."
"Might still do that. Just need to work off school fees and shit like that."
"What if I chat to my folks about you staying with us?"
Brett stacked the last of the dishes in a cupboard and turned to face me. "Couldn't do that, Kyle. You don't know me. And once you did, you'd wish me the fuck outta there. Besides, you'd start working on my tits with all your interminable bloody questions."
"What's interminable mean?"