As final exams approached, I placed clubbing on hold for a while and devoted my time to serious study at home. One Friday night, I took an urgent message from Brett: "You better get your ass to Green Room. Graham's trashed big time."
On arrival outside the club, I saw Susan trying to force black coffee down the grommet's throat. He was too spaced out to comprehend what the hell was going on and refused to swallow. Coffee dribbled out of his mouth and he stank of puke. His mates, gathered nearby on the street, considered it a big joke, calling him a wuss.
After checking Graham's bleary eyes, I lost my rag and confronted his mate Sean. I demanded to know what my little bro had taken.
"Hey, we snorted a bit and smoked a couple of joints. It's cool. Graham's handled it before."
I clearly didn't believe him. "What else?"
I grabbed his collar, lifted his feet off the ground and repeated my question more aggressively. "What else?"
"Fuck off, man. You his fucking mother or something?"
"I'll kill you right here and now if you don't tell me what else."
"Okay, okay...so we gave him some `e' as well...in his drink. But he was cool. Okay? Now put me the fuck down."
I backhanded the kid so hard he slid along the pavement. Then I turned and grabbed hold of Graham's shoulders as Brett ordered me to `cool it'. "Don't give him coffee," I yelled, ignoring Brett, "give him water." Susan rushed into the club to fetch water while Sean, at a safe distance, called me every name under the sun. Then Brett intervened, sending Sean and his mates scattering.
Upon our return to Byron Bay, we carried Graham to the beach and stayed with him until dawn, giving him water each time he woke--and puked. "I never saw you so stressed," Brett commented. But it was more than stress; I felt utterly helpless. All I could do was look on while my little mate's sick body tried desperately to rid itself of poisons. As the sun rose and illuminated the distant peak of Mount Warning for the umpteen trillionth time, Graham revealed positive signs of improvement.
Stripped to my boxers, I headed for the surf where I stood knee-deep to watch the sun, and tried to make sense of that dreadful night. A few minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder. "I'm sorry," Graham sobbed as I faced the vision of wretchedness. "I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to."
"You look a hundred years old," I answered, then threw my arms around my mate and held him as tightly as I could. "I don't get it, little bro. You look so strong but you're also so vulnerable. When are you gonna realize you're not fucking invincible?"
"What happened?" he asked, and listened intently while I recounted the night's events. "My folks are gonna kill me."
"You're lucky I didn't. Susan was fantastic, which was fortunate for you--I wanted to smack you. I felt so damn useless watching you puke and sleep, puke and sleep, and looking so trashed. Then you woke and cried. I couldn't handle it anymore without bursting into tears myself, so I came out here. I dunno what it is about water but I felt I could swim forever."
Susan and Brett did their best to behave normally, despite the emotional scene they witnessed. Brett, rostered to work at the pizzeria that day, was anxious to get much-needed sleep. Graham was still too sick to be taken home so, thankfully, Susan offered to accommodate him at her house.
"Thanks for phoning me," I told Brett as we walked to his place.
"Hey, mate, I knew what that kid needed most ... you."
Wollumbin (Mount Warning) is essentially the gathering place where the Bundjalung Law Men receive guidance from Babara (God) to put in place Natural Laws for the well-being of Marmeng (Mother Earth). High on the mountain, at my special place--the place Rick and I called our own, I reflected on what Elder Uncle Eric once said about this extinct volcano. It's a holy mountain to us, like a cathedral or church. It was there that our older people talked to God, and God gave them directions and laws, and the elders came back down the mountain to tell our younger people. But the young people had to be initiated. Don't kill, don't steal, don't be greedy. It was the same law that Moses got when he descended Mount Sinai. They were exactly the same. They were strict laws, they were good laws. They did not enact them today and break them tomorrow like they do now. If you broke them, you had to pay the price.
The primal energy of this planet is love. In the Dreaming, the awareness of connectivity, unity, supporting matrixes and the universal energies that play out in the phenomenal world is the very consciousness that allows the Aboriginal system to be truthful, compassionate, and considerate to all the phenomena that supports the human being in the physical world.
The primary energy system of all the ancient Aboriginal peoples of this planet is love. That is the energy that can be transferred and shared simultaneously for the good of all.
Love is the system that, within the human consciousness, provides for true co-operation. For humans there is always the perception of competition when individuals don't know to what they are connected. The so-called competitive system in nature is a way of recycling energy and it cycles away in a complex web of life.
Aboriginal peoples know the harmonic systems that allow coexistence in the natural environment. From an Aboriginal point of view we are very concerned that this place, Wollumbin, is not being looked after properly.
When you are a separate part of nature to study it, it will die. It's no longer connected. You might isolate a bacterial strain in a culture medium and it flourishes until the nutrients run out, then the culture collapses.
This mountain must remain sacred in our hearts. You don't need to be Aboriginal to know this. When wrong things are done, the Earth Mother kicks back, like she is sick. Even at the highest level of scientific knowledge, humanity knows this to be true. Our consciousness shapes that which will happen around us.
"G'day," I smiled when I recognized Brett standing on a ledge just below. "How did you get here without my seeing you?"
"Because you didn't look for me. You were staring into the distance. What's up?"
"How did you find me?"
"Your mom told me you headed up here to your special place. So what's up?"
"Nothing. Hey, I just felt like getting lost in my thoughts. I hitched a ride out here. Did you? And did you get permission from an elder?"
"Likewise, and of course. You should be studying."
"I'm relaxing--getting away from the bloody books for a while."
"How's it going, anyway?"
"Not that great. I can't seem to keep the shit in my head."
"Maybe you worry about it so much you don't have a place for the real stuff. What's really bugging you? This is the place you and Rick call your own, right?"
"Yeah," I laughed despite my melancholy. "I'm just so fucked up inside."
"That's the prob. I don't know. I'm just feeling so empty and depressed about nothing."
"I have those feelings. I think it has something to do with leaving school, and facing major changes in our lives--losing touch with what we have now, and what we love, things that get us amped. But, hey, mate, you don't even need those parameters. You're a worrier, period."
"My dad calls it resisting change. With me, it's more like a rebellion."
Brett climbed the ledge and sat beside me. "Looks beautiful, huh?"
"I never tire of it. But I'm wondering if Graham is out there on the coast somewhere where he belongs, or in some dingy hole getting high."
"He's surfing with Sean and Melanie. Susan told me."
"Thank Babara for that."
"Who?" I gestured toward the heavens. "Kyle?" he continued, "since you're determined to worry about every damn thing, do you ever worry about what I think of you?"
"I guess I could say no--that I don't give a rat's ass what you think--but that would be a lie. Yeah, I do worry a bit. I know how you used to feel and I'm not hundreds if you still do. I still think, deep down, you're a bit like you were when we met."
"Have you ever wondered why I visit your house quite often?"
"It's like one of life's mysteries," I shrugged, gazing at the endless panorama.
Brett's focus was also on the distant view. "A lot of it was curiosity. I wanted to know just how far you would go. I was ready to break off the friendship at one stage `cause I couldn't handle it. I felt dirty after the first time we masturbated each other. It wasn't right ... you know ... two guys. But, upon reflection, there was something different."
"You. You made it almost normal. Hey, sometimes I still get the guilts. I'm not gonna lie to you, Kyle. And sometimes I worry--about you--and what lies ahead."
"Oh? So I'm not the only one who worries, then?"
"I discovered something when I was dating Melanie. I've never told you about it. Think you can handle it?"
"She HIV positive or something?"
"No, no, no! Bloody hell, Kyle!"
Brett's focus returned to middle distance, and avoided my eyes. "You know how you and I are sometimes?"
"I'm not sure. How are we? I'm never hundreds about the way we are."
"Closer than brothers. Much closer."
"Okay...so what about Melanie?"
"She and Susan are the same."
I turned to study Brett's profile. "You're fucking joking!" I said slowly and deliberately.
"I walked in on them one Saturday morning. Susan slept over at Melanie's-that's when I was dating Mel. I found them making out on Mel's bed."
"Oh, my fuck!" I freaked as I placed my hands on my head. "Susan and Melanie?"
"Yep. Hey, don't look so surprised."
"You dumped Melanie because of that?"
"No--that came later. But when I busted them in bed, they invited me in. It became a threesome. Best sex I've had in my life."
"You didn't freak?"
"There was a time when some friends and I--guys I knew--used to get off watching blue movies of two chicks getting it on. I found it horny as hell. Melanie and I used to burn the sheets after she'd been with Susan."
"Why are you telling me all this now?"
"Hey," Brett said, extending his arms to embrace the sweeping landscape, "we're a million miles from anywhere--so I'll tell you. I can always push you off the mountain afterwards."
"Careful ... you might go first."
"When you and I became friends, I kinda figured you might want us to do stuff ... totally faggot, fruitcake, homo stuff. You couldn't hide the way you stared at me--and still do! Fuck! Why do you think I waited for everyone to go before I entered the showers after swim training? Susan talked about her and Melanie sometimes. Sometimes it pissed me off, and sometimes it didn't--depending on my mood. She joked about you and me making love, and I thought about leaving her then, but..."
He shook his head. "The relationship between Melanie and Susan was just so...just so normal, and they are both normal girls. So it got me thinking."
"If you laugh, Kyle, I'll bloodywell brain you. I sometimes jacked off at night thinking about us--you and me--being naked and kissing and making all-out love."
"No way! Never that far! Sensuous stuff. I'd get myself so worked up I'd be tempted to phone you. Then I'd shoot my load, and become aware of how dirty those thoughts made me feel, and how I wished I was in bed with Susan. It was as though we had animal sex and nothing more. As soon as I ejaculated, my feelings for you disappeared."
"Oh, thanks ... gone with the cum."
"Just bear with me, Kyle. I got no interest in guys. I don't gawk at other guys. It's not my thing. A nice chick-ass or a pair of tits is what gets my bells ringing. Then you come along and I start getting feelings for you that I'd normally have for a chick. For the last few months, we've been so damn close--you and me. And you did things to me that I'm not sure are right or wrong. All I know is--it's because of you. You make it right. But I've worried because I've not done the same for you. And you've no idea about the thoughts that have gone through my head."
"What are you getting at?"
"Well ... I think the point is seeing you like this, lower than shark shit. I just wanted ... I just wanted to tell you that I love you, Kyle. I love you very much. Hey, I don't see us changing diapers or whatever in the future. But I love you more than any friend I've had in my life. One day, I'll pluck up the courage and we'll make love to each other ... as long as you stay away from my ass, that is. It'll be special."
"Jeez! I can't believe what you're telling me! But it's also fair to say that I fantasize about you a lot."
"Oh? Okay, here's some encouragement."
Brett leaned toward me, took my head in his hand, and pulled my face to his. Suddenly, our tongues danced in each other's mouths. It wasn't a mate's kiss, a brother's kiss, or a friend's kiss, it was a lover's kiss. Despite my profound shock, my fingers found their way under Brett's shirt and felt his chest. His skin trembled. Then I reached down to the rock-hardness of his crotch. But we continued to kiss. We kissed open-mouthed for a long time, wholly consumed by a mutually intense passion whose time had finally come.
Our lips eventually separated, then we each studied the view in awkward silence; two bewildered minds trying to come to terms with such an astonishing occurrence.
Incapable of verbalizing anything appropriate, I broke the silence. "That was pretty special."
"Special? I thought it was awesome! You kiss pretty good--for a guy." That cracked me up big time, and Brett waited until my giggling subsided. "And I know about Stuart, Kyle. Don't interrupt, he didn't tell me. I reckon it's a good guess on my part. And I suspect it doesn't end there. You don't need to explain any of it, Kyle. I think I know you well enough to understand."
"Yep. And thanks for not putting the pressure on me all this time, and for being such a good mate."
"You have no idea what this means to me, Brett--what you just did and said. No idea at all."
"To the contrary, matey. I know exactly what it means. And I'm not just talking about your hardon, either."