Before succumbing to sleep that night, Brett asked an odd question. "Kyle," he began slowly, "do you think you know yourself pretty well?"
"I think so. Not sure. Why?"
"Nothing. I was just wondering if any of us knows himself at all."
"Why do you say that?"
"Before you came along, I figured I knew myself, and now I'm discovering that I don't--not really."
"Is that a bad thing?"
"Nope. Not a bad thing. Night, mate."
My main concern at that time was Graham and drugs. He was into some serious shit. Nothing I said, however diplomatically, affected him. In fact, he became defensive and even abusive at times. The problem, apparently, weighed more heavily on my mind than I realized. At recess, I often sat under a tree by myself, avoiding Brett, and even his homemade avocado and tomato sandwiches. One afternoon after school, he phoned and invited me over to his place, where we sat in the courtyard, drinking coffee.
"You worry about Graham," he insisted, "because he's your friend. You worry about me because I'm your friend. Hell, you worry about the nerd at school because he has no friends! You just worry, period! On the other hand, Graham must be in deep shit--it's obvious you're carrying a lot of baggage, Kyle."
His comment triggered an immediate flow of tears to my eyes. I tried to hide them but it was no use. One trickled down my cheek as I spoke. "It's been happening since he befriended his mate Sean. They're getting into coke and fuck knows what else."
"Are you sure it's the drug thing that bothers you and not jealousy?"
"It's cool he has a mate his own age who surfs with him, but..."
"More coffee? Or something stronger?"
I ignored the offer. "His attitude is different, like he doesn't give a damn."
Brett stood behind me and massaged my shoulders while I alternated between sobbing and giggling, relieved to share my concerns with a caring mate. "That's a newie; you massaging me."
"Graham's a lightie, Kyle. He'll learn. Rick told me some stories about you and the shit you were into as a lightie."
"So that's where it came from? Graham told me he heard I was a coke head."
"They weren't Rick's words."
"Maybe not, but that's how Graham interpreted it."
"Because it suits him right now to say that kinda thing."
"Anyway, Brett, I gotta beetle before my folks get home from work. I'm supposed to be studying."
"I'll walk with you. I gotta stop off at Susan's."
"No!" he cracked. "You got a one-track mind. She borrowed one of my CDs."
I was unaware at the time that Brett recruited Graham to the boxing team, and gave him personal tuition. He put him in the ring with one of the team's best juniors who sent Graham flat on his butt with the first punch. "Had to fetch the smelling salts," Brett explained. "He's strong, though; he just gets back up and takes it again."
"I can relate to that. So what's with the boxing?"
"Just a thought. Keeps him busy and, hopefully, out of crap. It also gave me the opportunity to speak to him in the change room. I told him you're worried about him and that you're his friend."
A few days later, Brett and I had other things on our minds--including the Senior Prom. We walked to the hire shop together to check the temporary alterations to our tuxedos. As Brett admired himself in the mirror, he saw me standing behind him wearing a cheesy grin.
"What were you laughing at?" he asked on the walk home, carrying our hung suits wrapped in thin transparent plastic.
"I wasn't. I was thinking how wicked you look in your tux, like one of those hunk film stars, with your dimpled grin and gelled hair."
"You looked pretty wicked yourself, mate."
"Melanie bought a new dress; must've cost her folks a bomb!"
"Yeah? Get this: Susan's folks organized a limo to take us to and from the prom. Uniformed chauffeur and everything!"
"For all of us?"
"Yep. They wanna make sure we all get home in one piece."
My folks were so excited they insisted on waiting with me at the front gate for the limo to arrive. The damn thing was almost as long a cricket pitch! Brett, cutting a figure like a teenage James Bond, stepped out of the car to be immediately swamped by my mom's arms. My dad was less demonstrative and shook hands, but he was surely as proud of my best mate as he was of his own son.
The limo rolled to a gentle halt outside the house of a princess. With her hair worn up, and radiating exceptional class, Susan approached the car, arm in arm with her handsome beau. Next stop, Melanie's house. What a stunner! She looked totally smashing, hair done in ringlets, scattered over bare shoulders. She wore a strapless evening gown, which revealed just enough cleavage to send most blokes troppo. I was totally dumbstruck by the magical apparition of my girl appearing so incredibly beautiful.
The grade 11s did a fantastic job of decorating the hall. Yards and yards of blue and white material hung from the ceiling, representing a summer sky with clouds. The walls and floor were decorated to simulate an underwater environment, on the seabed. And the special lighting caused all the decorations to shimmer like dancing sunlight. The grade 11s who were chosen to be waiters were athletically well-built and, as part of the nautical theme, wore mini skirts made of strips of green satin over their Speedos.
Everyone at the dance looked dazzling: Frank, Kev, Jolly Jim--no longer schoolboys but young adults. Even Mitch was halfway decent, escorting an absolute doll. How the hell...?
Each of the tables offered a bottle of wine to be shared by four people. Yeah, right. And inside every tuxedo jacket was a half jack of something a little stronger. Did the organizers think we were that dumb? Or innocent?
At 1am, the entire group headed to the same barn used some time ago by the swim team to stage its strip show. All the guys swapped tuxedos for jeans and Ts, although many elected to go topless because it was a hot night. Just before dawn, we hit the beach for a sunrise swim. The girls stripped down to panties and bras and the guys down to briefs and boxers. Before long, the group played `strip the ladies' with Melanie being one of the many girls forcibly relieved of their bras. Later, we sat on the beach, shivering our asses off, and watched the first of the sun's gentle rays illuminate Byron Bay headland and the lighthouse.
"Can you believe this?" Brett asked. "Tuxedos one minute, boxers the next? Adults for a night then back to teens."
"My dad says teens are supposed to be crazy."
"I guess so."
"Wouldn't wanna change it `though."
A couple of early-morning surfers jogged down the beach, boards tucked under their arms. They gave us a curious glance before they hit the surf and paddled out.
"You think they reckon we're crazy, sitting here almost naked?"
During the ride home, the limo driver praised us for being the best-behaved teens he'd seen in a long time.
A few nights later, Melanie and I were at her house, engaged in a passionate lovemaking session when the doorbell rang at 1am. She threw on a nightgown and left the room. Shortly afterwards, she and Brett appeared at the bedroom door. I quickly grabbed the sheet and covered myself. "Hey, mate, how's it going?" I asked, feigning normalcy.
"Susan's out with her folks. I wondered if you guys would like to go out for a beer or something."
"It's okay, Kyle," Melanie offered without consultation. "I need an early night anyway."
As we walked to Brett's house, he apologized for disturbing my evening. "Anyway, I decided if I wasn't getting any tonight, neither were you."
"So I gathered."
"No problem. Melanie's cool about it. Besides, I'm stoked you hunted me down like that."
"Call it desperation. I'd have to be to track you down. Can you sleep over? My mom and SFB are away camping."
The conversation we'd had skinny-dipping in my pool some days earlier must have played on Brett's mind. During the battle between his nervousness and curiosity, the latter triumphed, with a little encouragement from me. We were naked in his kitchen when I knelt before him.
"You're not my sex slave, Kyle. You don't need to do this. Besides, there's no way I could return the favor. I just couldn't do it."
"Hey, does it look like I'm being forced into anything here?"
Afterwards, Brett lay sprawled on his back on the courtyard table, naked and exhausted. "I guess I'm gonna have to finish making the coffee," I joked. "Some friend you are."
"Don't burn the coffee."
"How the hell could I burn coffee?"
"You'll find a way."
We remained silent as we sipped our brew, each pondering private thoughts about what had taken place. I wondered how on earth I'd gotten away with it, and he probably wondered why he allowed it to happen. His only comment just after he climaxed was, "Oh, my God! Never in my life did I imagine that another guy could make me feel so good!"
He woke me in the morning, one hand holding a coffee and his other wrapped around my piss boner. "Hey, Sleeping Beauty," he said, "here's something to wake you."
The moment I spotted his hand on my dick, he quickly removed it. But I grabbed his hand and put it back. "Keep it there."
"You're totally outrageous, Kyle. You're leading me astray. If Susan finds out..."
"She won't, and neither will Melanie," I said as I raised myself on one elbow and placed my coffee on the bedside table. "I'm sorry the night's over. I had an awesome time. Jeez, Brett, I got a lotta friends but nobody like you, `cept maybe for Rick."
"I guessed about you and Rick. It was so damn obvious I'd need to be blind not to notice."
"Hey, if you're not in a hurry you wanna get back into bed?"
He obliged, but not as expected. He planted his butt on my stomach and tickled me. In a nano second I was a writhing, giggling, wriggling tangle of arms and legs, pleading with him to desist. "Stop, stop! I'm ticklish!"
"Really? Well, what do you know! Say `please, Uncle Brett'."
"Please, Uncle Brett! Stop, stop!" But then I spotted his boner and grabbed it. "Now that looks delicious!"
"Let go, you horny toad!" And with that he retaliated by squeezing my nuts. "I gotta get ready for work."
Not a word was mentioned about that night for weeks. Instead, we carried on as though it never happened despite the fact that neither of us could deny it.
One morning in the gym, Brett whacked me on the nose and burst a blood vessel. It was superficial, no damage done, but it looked rather messy. Soon, word got around school that Brett and I were in a serious fight. `Brett beat the hell out of Kyle'. It was an ideal opportunity for Mitch to seize upon. "Hey, Brett! Thanks, mate. I've been wanting to do that myself," he gloated within earshot of a crowd of students.
"No worries. Come over here and I'll show you how it's done, you prick."
"Yeah, you and the swim team. Challenge me on your own, dickhead."
Mitch was big and slow, or was he? Jolly Jim told me that Mitch was a lot stronger and faster than credited for. That aside, Brett was furious and itched to take out that bully once and for all. He asked me to second him in the ring.
"Forget him, mate. He's a pratt."
"Fuck that. He made me look like a right jerk."
"Forget it, Brett."
"Then shut your mouth. You gonna second me or not?"
"It's the end of term! Jeez, Brett, it's hopeless talking to you when you're pissed off." But I relented and offered to second him.
What surprised both Brett and me was that Jolly Jim offered to second Mitch Match. Maybe he wanted to keep the fight fair or something. Meanwhile, Mitch must have turned over a new leaf. His gut had shrunk to reveal the hard lines of his six-pack, and his arms were more clearly defined. Added to that, the coach was dirty on Brett for organizing the fight after school hours.
Following the first bell, Brett danced confidently into center ring. Whammo! He was flat on his back on the canvas.
"What happened?" I asked in our corner as I dabbed his face with a damp towel.
"I thought he'd back off from the start and wait for a lucky punch."
The coach approached, after noticing Brett's bleeding mouth, and asked if he wanted to quit. Quit? Brett? "No way, coach. No way!"
During the remainder of round one, the guys gave each other body blows that obviously hurt. Then Mitch managed to land a winder on Brett's mouth. The coach ordered a minute's break.
"Stop the bleeding, Kyle, or the coach will stop the fight!"
"Maybe he should," I suggested. Then Brett grabbed the towel and insisted on doing the job himself. At that point we noticed Jolly Jim plugging Mitch's nose to stem the flow of blood. So Brett wasn't the only one to cop a hiding.
I managed to stop Brett's bleeding but noticed a lot of blood in his mouth. Mitch's first punch apparently dislodged the mouth guard, causing Brett to bite the inside of his lip. "I'll live," was his comment when I informed him of my observation.
Both fighters were more cautious during round two, dancing, bobbing and weaving, sizing, jabbing, and waiting for the chance to flatten the other. But just prior to the bell, Brett unwittingly walked into a left hook that sent him staggering into the ropes.
"Mitch opened your lip again. Your mouth's full of blood, and it's swelling. Brett? Are you listening? Let me stop the fight."
"I'm fine, Kyle. Stop stressing."
"I'm gonna throw in the towel."
"You do that, and you're history. I'll never speak to you again."
Well, that shut me up and I proceeded to patch him as best I could.
Back in the ring, Brett managed to penetrate the flurry of punches and connect Mitch in a vital spot. He crumpled vertically, with legs of jello, and ended on his knees and face. The entire scenario appeared to occur in deliciously victorious slow motion. Once the coach realized the untidy heap on the canvas wasn't about to get to its feet anytime soon, he called an end to the match. Brett returned to his corner and washed his face, saying he'd shower at home, then he rejoined Mitch to check his condition. Surprisingly, Mitch was quite gallant and civil in defeat. "Okay," he admitted, "so you don't need the whole swim team."