Probably the most notable of Rick's influences on Brett was his willingness to exhibit his affection for me in a natural yet masculine way. There was nothing wussy about Rick. It demonstrated to Brett that being close to a best mate was cool. And it pleased me to see the two hunks quickly develop a great respect and liking for each other, reinforced by their mutual interest in physical fitness.
At the pizzeria one night, Brett served our table but spent too long chatting. His boss rebuked him in full view of everyone, which reddened his face. I thought Brett would plant that noisy twit right there and then, but he showed admirable restraint. And ... he needed the job.
Following Brett's shift, we rocked over to Susan's place where we chatted `til the wee hours about a million things: the swim team, Graham's initiation on the swim tour (which Rick found hilarious), the Wollumbin hike, the adventures Rick and I shared before Brett came on the scene, and life in Canada. While we talked and laughed, Brett listened attentively to every word, learning more about me that night than he could have in a decade.
Next day, Rick and I visited our old stomping grounds at Wollumbin. We spoke very little. There was no need. As we trod familiar tracks and trails that meandered through the dense rainforest, with its scented booyongs, yellow carrabeens, rosewoods and figs, and massive displays of colorful orchids, a tidal wave of emotional and vivid memories swamped our minds: the most precious of recollections. This Paradise of bangalow palms, woody vines and ancient ferns was our childhood playground, an enchanting source of adventure and wonder. To me, this visit felt like being transported back a hundred years. So much had changed in our lives since.
That night, the whole gang clubbed at the Gold Coast. Stuart dated the same girl twice, setting some sort of record. He was a dedicated field player, and how he played it! Mind you, he was incredibly good looking. Half his luck.
By night's end, Melanie was desperately hungry for love. She wanted me bad. I was horny too, but also obliged to tell her I couldn't leave Rick all alone. "So why not bring him to my place? He'll probably pass out anyway."
Wrong! Despite excessive booze consumption, he failed to fade. Instead, he watched while Melanie and I got cozy on the couch in the den. Then he rose from his chair and began to strip. We had no idea why until he stood beside Melanie, naked and erect, and announced: "What's good for Kyle is good for me!" With an odd mix of dismay and approval, I ogled the length of his hardness disappearing between the softness of Melanie's welcoming lips.
To understand my sanction is to appreciate the intensely intimate relationship between Rick and me. We were like the same person sharing two separate bodies. As he said, "what's good for Kyle is good for me." Melanie accepted the rationale and happily pleased us both, as well as herself.
"I can see why you like Melanie so much," Rick said excitedly next morning after showering at my house. "She gives awesome head."
"There's more to Melanie than that."
"Sure, I understand that. But good sex is important. Make that vital."
"How come you got naked like that, and pointed your boner at her face? I could never do that to Susan, especially if Brett was present. Or even if he wasn't! Actually, if he were, I wouldn't be standing here now talking to you."
"Because Melanie is a part of you, and you're a part of me. We're part of each other. Anyway, Melanie didn't mind."
"What if I did that to your girlfriend?"
Every chance we got we surfed. We'd been surfing mates since little grommets swallowing half the Pacific. But now, we were at one with our boards, able to toss them around with the ease of a yo-yo. Stuart impressed Rick in the surf. Apart from being the quintessential blond hunk, he was a rave surfer almost equal to professional standard. Rick was aware of Stuart's inflated ego but the two got along pretty well.
My folks organized a farewell barbecue the night before Rick's scheduled departure for Canada. All the guys who attended the mask party were there, and the stories and laughs were in limitless supply. Rick and I didn't sleep a wink that night.
Next morning, my folks drove us to the airport. Brett joined us. He and Rick had formed a tight bond. We all tried valiantly to be cheery, but I was on the verge of tears the whole damn trip. The lump in my throat was the size of a tennis ball. As we neared Gold Coast airport, I saw those big silver birds leaving their vapor trails behind, heading to who-knew-where, and leaving me wretchedly heavy-hearted. In a matter of minutes, my best mate and I were to be torn apart like two paper dolls. The image of Rick taking off his mask at my birthday party flashed through my mind. It seemed a minute ago.
The dreaded moment arrived; the unstoppable force that treats life with contempt. Rick paused as he was about to enter the passport control. I lost it and broke down. I hugged him long and hard in the vain hope that somehow he'd change his mind and stay. "Thanks for everything," I sobbed.
"Me too. I love you, Kyle."
"I love you, Rick."
On the return trip, Brett uttered hardly a word. Apart from empathizing with my feelings, I figured he felt crushed as well.
The sight of my empty room hit me like a sledgehammer. The finality of Rick's departure was irrevocable. He now sat in a plane headed for Vancouver but his unique smell remained on my pillow. I took it and pressed its soft plumpness to my face, taking deep lungfuls and allowing them to linger.
Rick wrote me during his stay. I thought you should have this email.
Thanks for your note. Kyle passed it on to me. The holiday has been absolutely fantastic. The weather's kind and it's like mid summer here. I think we've tried to put as much into the time as possible. We visited all the old haunts; beach, mountain, surf, pizza joint, old school. Managed to do quite a bit of surfing as well, and met up with a bunch of old friends in and out of the surf.
Kyle seems to have a good lot of friends at the moment. I like Brett. He's probably the most mature of the bunch. His girlfriend Susan complements him a lot. Little Graham reminds me a great deal of what Kyle was like as a grommet, always putting his foot in it. He's a head-turner and you can actually have fun watching the young groupies reactions when he's on the beach. Kyle's girlfriend Melanie is very neat and I think the two of them will build quite a good relationship. The plus for her is that she allows Kyle a lot of space, which is more than I can say for most of the girlfriends I've had. Stuart is pretty cool except he's got an ego. He's totally good looking with a body to match. The only problem is he knows it. We get along okay, though.
Kyle? He hasn't changed. I love him to bits. He still tastes the same too. :>
As to the two of us, I think what I see in the future is probably both of us being married. But we will find the opportunities to get together and love each other much the same as we do now. I think it's important for people to express their love physically. I don't see him and myself as two guys, more like two people in love with our friendship. It's going to be very hard to leave (Byron) but we're both realistic about it, and I think this holiday has made us both realize that it's not forever.
I'm going to go haul him out of the shower. He doesn't know that I'm sending this. After all, I have this anti-net image to maintain. :)
Thanks for everything you've done for him. I really appreciate it.
All the best,
The first week back at school was hectic. The teachers crammed as much into our heads as possible, including revision of the previous two years' study. This was our third quarter of the school year, the lead-up to the big one: matriculation. On top of that, the teachers were undertaking evaluation for the Awards Evening due that September. Every pupil was under detailed scrutiny.
A junior, one of Mitch's new recruits, approached Brett in the quad and confessed to being ordered to beat up on Graham. "Mitch said he was a trouble-maker, but Graham's a mate so I refused. Then I got my ass kicked for not following orders. I tried to apologize to Graham but he doesn't wanna know me."
"So what happened?"
"After I got my ass kicked, Mitch and his gang cornered Graham and his friend Ryan in the change rooms. Graham copped a beating while Ryan tried to help, so Mitch beat up on his younger bro as well."
With the pressure of study as well as prefect duties, Brett was in no mood for Mitch's shit. He confronted the bully alone in the toilets. "Hey, asshole, I'm tired of hearing about you bullying the lighties. You're dead meat."
"Don't gimme that bullshit, Mr Prefect sir, you can't do anything to me without getting yourself into serious shit."
"You're the one who's in serious shit."
"I'm walking out of here," Mitch said confidently as he zipped his fly. "Any trouble from you Mr Prefect sir and I'll report you."
Brett's fist connected with the slob's jaw and sent him sprawling. "Okay, so report me. Now get up!" Mitch did so, took a wild swing, and was down again in a second with blood oozing from his lip. "Get up again," Brett ordered.
"Okay, I'll help you." And with that, Brett grabbed the guy's school blazer and hauled him to his feet. With one well-aimed punch, Brett flattened the bully's nose, accompanied by a loud crack. Mitch crumpled once more as many hands grabbed Brett and held him. "Lemme go!" Brett insisted as he struggled wildly. "I'm gonna kill the cunt!"
"You've done enough damage already," somebody said.
Brett and I walked home from school that afternoon. "Mitch has been kinda quiet lately," I remarked. "Kinda disappeared into the woodwork. Won't be for long, though." Brett ignored me so I continued. "I checked Graham's bruises on his arms and chest. He was beaten pretty bad." Still no response from Brett. "How's Mitch? I hear his nose is broken."
"I don't wanna talk about it."
"I never saw you so strung out."
"Just drop it, Kyle."
"Okay, okay. Just asking."
"Did you catch the surf comp on TV? Danny Mills scored third in the finals. Totally hot surfer. Jeez, Taylor Knox from the US won." Nothing from Brett. "Brett?"
"Melanie's been quizzing me about Rick. I think she's crazy about his king-size cock."
That got his attention. "She saw it?"
"Yeah, when we slept over at Melanie's place after clubbing."
"And it doesn't bother you?"
"Why should it?"
"Kyle," he said as we stopped at his front gate, "I don't get you. You breeze through life like it's some feel-good movie. Most of all, I don't understand why you hang with me when I'm in a bad mood."
"Rick and I used to fight a lot when we were lighties, but we always stayed mates. More than mates. It's the same with you."
"I'm not Rick. I suppose that means I'm some kinda substitute when he's not here?"
"You know better than that."
That question irritated my sensibility the rest of the way home, and afterwards during homework. An hour later, I couldn't stand the irritation any longer so I phoned. "What did you mean by saying you're some kinda substitute for Rick?"
"Hey, he's not here and I am. Go figure."
"It was a surprise visit, remember? I didn't know he was coming to Byron. I befriended you over a year ago. How do you figure you're a substitute? That's bullshit!"
"Listen up, Kyle. You're the kinda guy who can't handle being alone and independent. You stick to your friends like shit to a blanket."
"Charming. Anyway, I thought about what you said. Seems to me like you found my friendship with Rick too intense. Maybe you think you can't fill his shoes or whatever."
"So now you're studying psychology?"
"I just wanted you to know that you don't need to fill his shoes--that's all--and he doesn't need to fill yours. That's not the way it works."
"Whatever. Listen, I've got a stack of homework--and so do you. Catch you later."
"Enjoy being alone and independent."
Well, he took my advice by retreating into his shell for the remainder of the week, almost incommunicado. How the hell was I supposed to understand that bloke? He probably figured I was the kinda guy who threw his arms around anything and everything that came within reach, and I guess he was more accurate than not. What on earth went on in that handsome head of his? Fear of getting too close to a best mate? Fear of attachment? Fear of love? Fear of letting go when the time came to part? So many questions, so few answers.