By Anatoly Rybakov and Tim Kyle
After Matty left and I had a quick wank to relieve myself, my thoughts unmercifully returned to my dishonoring turn at the gathering. Why did they all think I was against the truck restoration? After thinking it though, I realized that what was unpleasant for me was the fact that Ian offered the idea and not someone else. For example, someone like Ivan Polak, who best understands technical stuff. Ivan would have offered it for the right reasons, and Ian did it to boast. I've seen many times how Ian would start something up, suggest an idea, make a lot of noise and when it all fails, somehow we, and not him, come out guilty. And I did not want this to repeat now.
That's what I should have said at the meeting! I should have reminded everyone of Ian's past ideas, incur examples. All would have cried out that I am right and Ian with Vern would have remained a shameful minority.
But the meeting had passed. I could not say these things any more.
However, the next morning I did tell the general outlines of it to Smako. He said:
I went and had the same talk with Ivan Polak. He also said:
"Don't think about it!"
We nicknamed Ivan Polak "daddy", because he is so tall and burly. He and Smako are the strongest boys in our grade.
Soon I realized that nobody even thought of my unsuccessful performance at the meeting. Even Vern had forgotten that I objected to his involvement. Then again, Vern is a thoughtless person.
Vern was now helping Ian. And Ian was really staring up an activity; he got himself another brilliant folder, in which he put only the papers concerning the restoration of the truck. In these papers our initiative was approved by governing bodies. Ian even went to city hall. There too approved our initiative. However, they did not give any piece of paper, they just said: "Go ahead!"
I did not understand: what the fuck do we need papers for? We need spare parts, not papers! Ian was collecting pieces of paper, and the truck, meanwhile, just sat there on the waste ground. A day had passed and nothing moved at all. Workers started to laugh at us. Like, funny kids, trying to undertake something they can't do.
Kevin the Mechanic said:
And foreman James Dennon expressed himself so:
I told Peter:
"People are laughing at us."
To what followed his usual retort:
I went to the motor shop to talk to Ivan Polak.
"We have to do something."
"What do you want me to do?" – asked Ivan.
"Whadda ya mean, what?" – I was surprised. – "After all you are the technical assistant. You have to think of something."
"Let Ian think of something, it's his idea."
"And why were you silent at the meeting?"
Ivan had nothing to retort to this argument.
"Let's gather up after work and examine the jalopy."
After work we gathered on the waste ground. Me, Smako, Ivan Polak, Adam Grinko from the electroshop and Jimmy Tavias from the mechanical shop. I called them all here to arrive at a qualified conclusion.
We popped the hood and examined the engine. It was dirty, devoid of leads or belt, and generally looked unusually empty.
"I cannot figure out the condition of the engine from here," – declared Ivan, "it should be removed and disassembled."
Jimmy Tavias said:
"Same with the transmission, and the rear axle, and the front axle. They all must be removed and disassembled. Then we'll see their condition."
Adam Grinko expressed himself more definitively:
"There is no electric equipment at all."
And Smako said:
"They filched the dash board."
Really, in place of the dash board stuck out naked wires.
"And they fucked off the seats as well," – added Smako.
Indeed, there were no seats in the cabin.
We started to think what to do.
"Let's make a defect sheet."
A defect sheet is a page on which all the defects of a truck or car are specified.
"Where can we get a defect sheet?" – asked the guys.
"I'll bring one, wait," – I said and went to the garage.
I've seen a pack of such sheets in Lester Hugh's workbench. They are just printed pages, on which all major parts of the truck are listed. And you just tick off boxes across from each part name: working or malfunctioning. It's very convenient.
There was nobody in the garage, all had left for dinner. I opened the workbench and found the pack of sheets. But when I lifted this pack to take one out, I noticed a set of wheel bearings. Those same ones which the day before yesterday Lester Hugh and us should have put on the truck that was being serviced; and about which Lester said that he'll do it himself. It was those same exact bearings, in the same oiled paper. The requirement form with which I had received these bearings in the warehouse lay nearby.
How can this be? The truck had already been serviced, and the bearings lay in the workbench. This means that Lester forgot to replace them. And the truck left service with old wheel bearings. He's one negligent person, this Lester Hugh.
I returned to the waste ground. Near the guys stood a trucker, Bud Zephron.
"There'll be no sense out of this truck!" – said Bud. – "It's easier to make a new one."
One surprising feature of Bud Zephron was that he was always slightly unshaven. If a man does not shave at all then eventually he'll grow a beard. And if a man shaves rarely, but does shave, some days he should be clean–shaven. However, Bud Zephron's red bristle was always the same length. It did not increase nor decrease.
He was a thin, quiet guy, which was unusual amongst truckers. For some fault he had his trucking license suspended and was temporarily working in the garage. I don't know precisely what he did to have his license taken away, and anyway, he was not particularly interesting to me. He was somewhat apathetic. However, he did get along famously with Smako. They liked to talk. They'll sit down in the shade and converse by the speed of one phrase in half an hour.
"Do you know the summer camp at Wolton?" – Bud asked us.
"Of course!" – we answered.
"There is another written off Internash there. But way better than this one. Forget about this piece of junk."
Then he left. Ivan Polak declared:
"This is useless."
And he began to argue that the restoration will cost over two thousand bucks. And Ivan understands these kinds of things.
"Then why the fuck didn't you say something at the meeting?" – I asked.
"Then I didn't know what condition the truck's in."
"Aha! But I suggested examining it first, and you still said nothing."
"I don't remember what you suggested!" – replied Ivan. – "With you I can never understand what you suggest. And this piece of trash should be taken to the junk yard."
"Well," – I said diplomatically, – "Since we examined it, let's make the defect sheet anyway."
In the defect sheet we had to tick off only two kinds of boxes: "Malfunctioning" or "Absent".
The engine – Malfunctioning, the battery – Absent, the transmission – Malfunctioning, the dynamo – Absent, etc, etc.
We were finishing up the defect sheet, when Ian and Vern appeared. In Ian's hands was his well-known folder. There was nothing in Vern's hands.
"Greetings!" – said Ian. – "What are we doing?"
I explained to him what we were doing.
Ian sat down on a footboard, taken out a blank page from his folder, took out a pen and started writing something.
"What are you writing?" – We asked.
He answered nothing and continued to write. Then he read aloud what he had written:
"Ivan Polak, Steven Tinner, Peter `Smako' Scott, Adam Grinko and Jimmy Tavias are entrusted with making a defect sheet and presenting it to the staff".
We were silent: did not know how to react.
Then Vern said:
"With this sheet I will get all the parts in no time."
Ian had pensively looked at Vern and added to the paper:
`The supply assistant Vern Backman is to provide spare parts.'
"Now no one can mess with us, `cause the documentation is in order," – said Ian, squinting his eyes with such a face as if this literary trash is conducted by him to shut up some bureaucrats.
But we knew that Ian is himself a complete bureaucrat.
We went home four together: me, Smako, Ian and Vern. We all live on one street. Me and Smako live in the same building, and Ian with Vern are on the next block.
In the yard a few little kids, about seven or eight years old, were playing soccer, so we decided to join the game. You know, provide the kids with a little pleasure: they should be flattered that we play with them.
The fat Vern stomped around like a mad man, pushed everyone, and kept kicking passed the goal gate. Smako, on the contrary, stood in one place and waited for the ball to come to him, and when it did, he'd kick it out of the yard. Ian was playing for effect. He wanted everyone to see how well he scores goals. Demanded that the ball be passed to him. And if he did not score a goal, he'd say that we gave him a bad pass. He himself never passed to anyone.
We kicked the ball around for about fifteen minutes. Then we got bored with it. Plus the little children started bawling. They began to whimper that we don't let them kick the ball. One of them, who was the most cocky, we slightly, in a fatherlike way, taught a short lesson, so he would not start up being a squabbler from early childhood. But we gave them the ball back. The hell with them, let them play too...
We all sat at an outdoor table which was sticking out of the grass nearby. In the evenings it's always taken by some old guys playing dominoes, but now it was free. We didn't really want to go home. It was a sunny day in June. Not hot and tiresome as in the city center, but warm and pleasant. I think that our neighborhood has a microclimate. It always seems better here than in the rest of the city.
They say that before the city swallowed these parts, there used to be a village here. There are even some remains of this village: a broken cobblestone road, a few small wooden houses... And some of the names places here have remained from those times: "Grandpa's wood", "Tree Slope", "The Ravine"... The Ravine and the slope don't exist anymore. From Grandpa's wood remained only a few trees, they are building a park there now. We sat in the yard, round a little wooden table, and enjoyed the warm afternoon.
Ian was very funnily telling us about the office in which he got to work. Ian liked to rub among adults, smoked, discussed things with them with an important face, but behind their backs he derided them any way he could. And now he was, very colorfully and hilariously, telling us of the messy sides of working in an office. I too wanted to tell about the messy bits of working in the garage. But nothing messy came to my mind. Fortunately, I remembered the bearings I found today and said:
"We also have shit like this happening all the time! They write out replacement parts for a truck and then forget to put `em on."
And I told them about the wheel bearings which I found in Lester Hugh's workbench.
In reply Ian indulgently uttered:
"Tinny, you're naive!"
And Vern nearly choked with laughter:
"Oh, Tinny, you exhausted me!"
Even Smako had a weak similarity of a smile on his face. I looked at them bewilderedly, not understanding what they're laughing about.
"You're a simpleton, Tin!" – Said Vern. – "He didn't put them in on purpose. He left the old ones on the truck, and the new ones he'll hork to the left."
I was amazed:
"But that's stealing! The truck with the old bearings will fail!"
"No it won't," – calmed me Ian, – "The old bearings must still had been good, otherwise he would have replace them."
"It's still fraud!" – I said.
Ian squinted his eyes:
"Everyone does their own little business."
"Not everyone," – I objected, – "only Lester Hugh."
"Good," – judiciously spoken Ian, – "then it's a single instance. And anyway, if the old bearings would have been replaced, they would have been thrown out. And now they'll serve some more. So nobody really loses."
Lester stole these bearings," – I said. – "And you think that's okay?"
"Why use such strong words? "Stole"! Fucked off! Took an oak leaf from the oak tree... How much are those bearings? A buck, maybe two... It's trifle!"
"What kind of a worker is he? Dragging shit from the company he works at."
Ian waved his hand:
But here a Studebaker Lark had driven into the parking lot. A girl and two guys, all about college age, Ian's friends... Ian had risen and walked to them...
Each of us has familiar kids besides school and besides our own neighborhood. It is quite natural. Sometimes it's relatives. Cousins and such who live far and seldom visit. Sometimes they are just acquaintances whom you know from somewhere.
I also have one such acquaintance, Hugh, he's the son of my mom's friend, Paula. My mom got acquainted with Paula on a resort a very long time ago. Since then they occasionally call each other on the phone. Chat about trifles, speak about this and that. But each conversation comes to an end with the phrase: "We must get together". They "get together" about once a year. It alternates: every other year mom goes to Paula, and the next year Paula comes to mom. This is called "a resort acquaintance". And so, when Paula comes to visit, she drags Hugh along. Before their arrival mom flicks her eyes at me:
"Today Paula will come to visit. Remain home and occupy Hugh."
I never know what to occupy him with. He is an amazingly miserable kid. Everything that nature gave him went into his growth. He is a head taller than my dad, and my dad is way taller than me. He's all skin and bones. Generally, I'd say Hugh looks like a question mark.
I have nothing to talk to him about. He studies in a special school where they teach in French. And if he ever opens his mouth, it's only to say some French phrase. Thus he is learning to think in French.
Eventually this started to bother me, so I started blurting out whatever I remember in German, which I take at school. I have a sufficient vocabulary to spit out nonsense. So that's how we spent an entire evening. He'd say long French phrases, and I mumbled anything German that came to mind.
Saying goodbye, he spoke: "Je vous remercie vivement pour une soirée agréable", which meant: "I warmly thank you for a pleasant evening"; to which I answered: "Als Marcel in den Raum kommt, öffnet er das Fenster", which meant: "When Marcel enters the room, he opens the window". I have learned that phrase by heart back in the sixth grade.
Our moms stood at the door and rejoiced at how well we speak foreign languages.
Anyway, such an acquaintance I have. And I do not hide him from my friends. When I became bored with our German–French conversation, I took Hugh outside, acquainted with the other guys, giving him a possibility to play with them, and them – to appreciate such an unusual specimen. However, he didn't play with us, he just stood near, looked at us and occasionally thought something in French.
The other kids also had extraneous acquaintances. And sometimes they acquainted us with them. It was in the order of things. But Ian is a different matter.
Ian never acquainted us with his other friends. He was ashamed of us. He is always pretending to be older, so he did not wish to show to his older friends that he hangs around with kids. He considered us to be kids, compared to him. We, of course, didn't give a lick. We're not interested in his friends anyway. But there was something nasty in Ian's behavior. Whenever his older friends showed up, he tried to get rid of us. Resorted to unworthy dodges. Stepped on the ethics of friendship.
And now. As soon as the Lark approached the sidewalk, Ian put on an aloof expression on his face, hastily risen and went to the car.
As I already said, a girl and two guys got out of the car. They were dressed purposely carelessly: sneakers, rumpled trousers, sports jackets. Only the girl had a striped sweater instead of a jacket and a colorful skirt, and looked somewhat hippy–like. She was quite pretty.
They greeted Ian. Talked about something. Ian lifted a hand with an open palm. With him, this gesture meant: "All will be done". Then they all got back in the car and drove off in the direction of the motor depot.
Me and Smako lead the car with an indifferent gaze. But Vern was worried. Ian is his best friend, and behaves in such a nasty way. But who is to blame? Vern, and no one else. Nobody forces him to play such a humiliating role – to run errands for Ian. He does it out of his own accord. So now he shouldn't be upset.
"Ian didn't take you, huh?" – indifferently, but not without malice said Smako.
Vern shrugged his thick shoulders:
"And why should he take me? What am I, a little child?"
"Right, whatever," – yawned Smako.
"These guys are from the film studio," – said Vern, – "I know them."
With this awareness Vern wished to smooth out the awkwardness of his position some. Like, look, Ian does not hide anything from him, he knows what everything is about.
We knew that after school Ian often goes to the local studio of cinematography. He already got filmed in a few movie scenes as an extra, in a crowd. We went to see films in which he participated, but could never make him out. Ian was sitting next to us, saying: "Here, see, right next to that fellow, that's me". We could see the fellow next to Ian, but we couldn't see Ian. But it was pleasant that our friend is in a movie that will be seen by so many people, so we did not wish to come off as blind burdocks, and always said: "Yeah–yeah, we can see you".
We lazily chatted some more, sitting on that table. Then, I've spotted Mrs. Renebaum, Matty's mom, leaving the building. She spotted me as well, and made a point to go by our table. She greeted me and Smako, who she also knew as he also lived in the building:
"Hi Steven, hi Peter... Stevie, can you maybe keep an eye on Matty please, I have to leave for a couple of hours?"
What a worrywart that woman is. However, as I had activities with Matt I wanted to advance some, I didn't mind at all.
"Sure, Mrs. Renebaum. I'll take him home with me when I go in."
"Thank you, sweetie," Mrs. Renebaum chirped, as she smiled at Smako again, nodded to Vern, and left.
"Thank you, sweetie!" said Vern and Peter in unison, as soon as she was out of earshot.
"Fuck you," I said, to which Vern smiled even wider and Peter venomously uttered:
"Tinny the babysitter." – to which I replied: "Fuck off", and climbed off the table. Then we said our goodbyes, me and Smako went in the direction of our building, each to his entrance, and Vern started walking to his house on the next block.
I was planning to go up one floor to pick up Matty before unlocking my apartment, but to my surprise I found that boy sitting on the stairs right next to my door. When he saw me, he jumped up and beamed at me.
"Were you waiting here for me?" – I asked, while rummaging my pockets for the keys.
"Yeah..." said Matt and blushed.
"And what if I wouldn't have come home for another hour?"
"I dunno..." he said, and became even redder.
What a funny boy. I finally extracted my keys, unlocked the door, and said: "Well, come in."
As expected, I found my dinner on the stove. Mom always leaves it there before she goes to work. I lit a fire under it, and asked Matty:
"No, I just ate..."
"Right. Should have known, the mother hen wouldn't leave without feeding her chick," I quipped. Matty readily laughed. Then he sat opposite me at the table, and watched me as I ate. It was uncomfortable for me to have him stare at me like that, so I ordered:
"Don't just sit there. Tell me something. What'd you do today?"
"Nothing much," said Matty. Then he went red again and blurted out: "I tried to do wank, but it didn't feel as good. I think I did it wrong."
I nearly choked on my food.
"Can we do wank again today?" he said while looking at me from under his eyelids, his face at a downward angle. Wow! I expected that I'd have to casually bring it up later, I did not expect him to just dive right into it, five minutes after he came through the door. I seems that I unlocked a horny little devil here. However, these sort of games have their own rules. I made an indifferent face:
"First of all, `wank' is a verb, not a noun. You know, `to wank', `I'm wanking', `he's wanking'. You don't say `can we do wank', you say `can we wank'. Second, of course it wouldn't feel as good when you do it to yourself. It feels way better when someone else does it for you."
Matty nodded after each point I made, and then asked again:
"So, can we... umm... can we wank today?"
"Sure, just let me finish my food."
When we entered my room, Matty immediately started taking off his shorts and undies. Horny little devil, indeed. I thought about breaking out the nudie mag, but he – apparently – completely forgot about it. He just wanted to get touched; pictures of naked women no longer interested him. His dick was as hard as a rock and pointing directly at me, begging to be fondled. I took Matt by the shoulders, turned him around and backed him into my lap again, as we sat on my bed. Then I began to stroke his tool.
This time it was even more interesting to watch him. He was already anticipating the pleasure, so his balls tightened up as soon as I first touched his thing, and right away he began to buck his hips forward, and breathe quicker. For a couple of minutes, there was no other sound heard other than his steadily quickening breathing, an occasional whimper, and the pleasant sounds of my hand rubbing his pretty little cock. Soon, I could feel that he was getting close. But I did want to let it end that quickly. I let go of his tool (once again observing the disappointment crawl onto his face) and said:
"Wait, not so fast."
"Why not?" asked Matty, as surprised as can be.
"Because," I laughed, "Part of the fun is to make it last longer."
"Really?" asked Matty, beaming up at me.
"Yeah, really. Wait a sec, I have to free myself here..."
And with that I managed to undo my trousers, which were straining to contain my throbbing erection. Matty looked intently at my crotch as I slid my pants all the way down, taken them off, and then removed my underwear in the same manner. When my hard cock sprang out, he let out an astonished remark:
"Wow, it's so big!"
Say what you may, but it is a great confidence booster for a boy like me to finally be doing stuff like this with someone who is younger, and in awe of my size, instead of it being the other way around. I could of course explain to Matt that in reality I'm tiny for a fourteen-year-old, but why spoil the kid's excitement with unnecessary facts?.. Let him be, I say. Matty, meanwhile, also kicked away his shorts and undies, standing there in only a scampy t–shirt.
"Can I touch it?" – asked Matty, still unable to tear his gaze away from my very hard tool.
"Sure," – I said, as nonchalantly as I could.
He then proceeded to examine my dick with his hands in every way possible. As he first touched me, a jolt went through my body, like I've never felt before. This was way better than Peter touching me (what I could remember of that, anyway). Or maybe it was just the fact that I didn't get any for so long, that made it that good? Anyway, it was great. Matty was also fascinated beyond belief:
"Wow, look! You have hair on it!" – he exclaimed as he touched the pathetic ringlet of hair I had at the base of my cock. See what I said? Confidence booster. I smiled proudly. He then proceeded to stroke me a few times. – "Am I doing it right?" – he asked, looking up info my face.
"Sort of," – I said, "Try grabbing it with your whole hand."
He did. It was heaven. For a while there, I let the feelings wash over me, as my dick grew harder and bigger in his hand. Then I gently took his hand away, turned him around, and leaned him back into the previous position, of him leaning into my lap. Only now my hard dick was resting in the upper part of his butt crack, it's head touching his lower back. I took hold of Matty's shirt. He immediately got the hint and raised his arms, allowing me to pull off his shirt over his head. The movement of his torso did wonders for my dick, as it rubbed around his back. I then proceeded to take hold of his hard little tool again, and resumed my gentle stroking. In just a few seconds, he whimpered slightly and resumed his heavy breathing, while bucking his hips forward. While doing that, his butt was exquisitely massaging my cock, and I was in seventh heaven. Both of us were quickly approaching the big O, so now it was just a question of who of us would get there first. I was confident it would be me, as it was over a year since I got some nice action and I was as horny as humanly possible. But I was wrong. Matty suddenly let out a long, funny whine, much like a cat when it's angry, and suddenly started bucking his hips really fast, pushing his dick in and out of my fist at an insane rate. His head pushed back against my shoulder, his mouth open, and I felt his dick pulse several times, his whole body shuddering with it... And then he softened, oozed back into me, slowly coming down from his high.
When he started bucking fast, I almost came, but he stopped doing it just before I passed the point of no return, and so now, after he had his relief, my dick was still begging attention. But I didn't want to rush things. He was so adorable, softening in my arms, I decided to wait a little longer. After a few seconds more, Matty looked back, the dreaminess of the orgasmic high still in his eyes, and smiled at me. He said:
"Wow. That feeling at the end is better than anything."
"Yeah," – I agreed, "Isn't it? It's called `orgasm'. When you'll get older, when you get that feeling you'll squirt the stuff that makes babies."
I expected a tirade of questions regarding reproduction and the workings of sex to follow, but Matty turned out to be a responsible partner. He looked down to see my still raging cock resting against his back, and asked:
"Did you get that feeling as well?"
Not yet," – I said. Then Matty took half a turn on my lap, reached down with his hand, took hold of my protruding end and started stroking it.
My "orgasmometer", which by then had dropped and cooled some, immediately jumped up again, and started approaching the boiling point once more. As Matty worked my tool, I looked up into his cute face, such a funny expression of concentration and effort on it, him looking so intently at the tip of my cock, appearing and disappearing from the top of his fist. Then my gaze slid down his perfectly proportioned skinny torso, down to his still very hard, and slightly pink, little dickie. It was then that I felt the wave of extreme pleasure wash over me, and just managed to squeeze out a warning:
"It's gonna shoot now!"
Matty, far from discouraged, started stroking even faster, as the first spurt of my watery juice came flying out of my dick and straight onto Matt's belly. Then came another, weaker spurt, and then a few drops dribbled out of the tip onto Matty's still working fist. I took hold of his hand, and stopped his stroking, looking gratefully into his eyes. His gaze, however, was still glued to my dick, a naughty–fastidious smile on his face, as he milked the last drops out of my tool. Then he raised his eyes at me:
"Is that the stuff that makes babies?"
I was not really ready to play twenty questions yet, as I was still recovering from one of the most powerful orgasms of my life. I managed to nod. Matty stuck his finger into the gob on his belly, and played with it some.
"It's weird!" – he exclaimed.
I said nothing, just hugged him gently by the shoulders as he played with my come. Then I reached under my bed for my on–duty cleanup towel and handed it to Matty:
"Here, get cleaned up."
Matty diligently wiped off the semen from himself, then turned to me again and also wiped my dickhead clean. What a considerate kid!
Of course, after we got dressed and tidied up, the waterfall of questions began. I guess me and Peter were lucky to have stumbled upon "The Modern Sex Manual by Edward Podolsky, M.D." in his father's study when we were ten, that was indeed a real eye opener. Also, my mother had a copy of "Love me Little" in her bedroom drawer, that she was confident I didn't know of. So I answered Matty's questions with whatever I remembered from those two books. Naturally, I remembered most of the basics, and some other stuff as well. Maybe I embellished a little... In any case, we did not have trouble passing the time until his mom came back a couple of hours later and stopped by to take him back to their apartment. Before leaving, Matty flashed me a naughty, knowing smile, and waved a wave that suspiciously looked like wanking motion. Didn't I say it? Horny little devil that kid was turning out to be.
Whatever my friends may say, to me Lester Hugh is a swindler. I could not get used to the idea that he works near to me, walks and talks as a normal person. The next morning I could not tear off my gaze, and kept staring at him.
Lester Hugh angrily asked:
"Whadda you staring at?"
But I couldn't force myself not to look at him. We were working together, urgently repairing this one Cadillac.
This Cadillac belonged to some city hall official. And he, probably using some crooked connections, arranged for it to be serviced at the truck depot. This time he demanded an overhaul, as he was planning to sell it, so there was a lot of work to be done on the damn thing.
As this day some important events took place, I will tell you about all of them in order.
Since the morning Vern ran about the motor depot and collected stuff into the warehouse. The warehouse supervisor allocated a spot for him, for the gathering of parts for the truck which we will restore. It was this tiny little shed made of old iron, with a crooked door.
Vern came running to us and blurted out:
"Collect parts for the truck, the manager allowed it."
Smako and I were surprised:
"For our truck, didn't you get it? The manager allowed it."
There are no parts at the garage," – we said, – "the parts are at the shops. Here is where they put the parts in, when they come from the shops."
"All the same, if you find anything useful, drag it to the shed!" – ordered Vern and dashed away.
We, of course, had better things to do than Vern's nonsense. We had urgent work. The garage was planning to finish this Cadillac tomorrow, but the manager ordered it done today. To speed up the job, he also assigned Bud Zephron to help out, that guy with the unshaven bristle who liked to talk to Smako.
And, as soon as we were assigned Bud Zephron, Lester Hugh immediately became gloomy. I noticed it because I kept staring at him.
Smako and I handed tools, held the resock, brought parts. But, unlike the first days, we did it meaningfully. Did not wait to be ordered around, we now knew ourselves what needed to be done. And thus, judging by the course of events, I realized that now it is time for the shock-absorbers to be replaced. The shock-absorbers absorb the bumps in the road, soften the car's ride. For this Cadillac, we were told to put new shock-absorbers on. Yesterday, I received them from the warehouse and put them in Lester Hugh's workbench.
I opened the workbench, but the shock-absorbers were not there. I hunkered down, attentively examined the workbench again – there are no shock–absorbers. Strange! I myself put them here yesterday. I walked around the workbench. Perhaps, Lester Hugh took them out?.. And really! Behind the workbench, under a heap of rag, I've seen the sticking out levers of the shock-absorbers.
I pulled them out, put them on the workbench and began to wipe them down.
At this time, foreman James Dennon, the one who looks like a Spaniard, passed close by. He looked at the shock-absorbers, then at me, stopped and asked what is it that I'm doing.
I replied that I'm wiping down the shock-absorbers.
James Dennon took one shock-absorber in his hands, turned it this way and that, pressed the lever, and then asked me:
"Where did you take them from?"
"What do you mean, where?" – I said. – "From the warehouse."
"Did you take them by yourself?"
"Yeah," – I answered.
James Dennon frowned:
You have to check what they give you, kid."
He took the shock-absorbers by the levers and went to the hole where Lester Hugh with Bud Zephron were working under the car. I followed him.
"Lester!" – James Dennon called.
"What?" – answered Lester Hugh from under the car.
Lester got out, looked at the shock-absorbers in the foreman's hands, and frowned.
"What's this?" – James Dennon lifted the shock-absorbers.
Lester looked at them again, took one in his hands, turned it around, and shrugged:
"What do you mean, you don't know?" – James Dennon nodded at me. – "The kid says he got them at the warehouse!"
"He got new ones at the warehouse!" – Lester Hugh turned to me. – "Where'd you put the new ones?"
Just now I realized what's the matter. It appears that these were old shock-absorbers. Restored, but used. Not without reason I found them behind the workbench.
I became embarrassed, and confusedly smiled:
"Sorry, I mixed them up... These were behind the workbench."
"It's about time you knew the difference," – James Dennon said strictly, – "bring the new ones along, I'll show you how to distinguish between them."
"They're not there," – I said.
Lester Hugh frowned even more:
"Whadda ya mean, not there?! Where'd you put them yesterday?"
"In the workbench, as you told me," – I answered.
"So how come they're not there?!" – Lester Hugh repeated, approached the workbench, sat down next to it, examined the workbench all around, and again stared at me: – "Where'd you put them?"
I silently looked at Lester Hugh. All was clear to me. You don't have to be a genius to understand, really. Lester Hugh swiped the new shock-absorbers to sell them, and on the Cadillac he was planning to install restored old ones. That's why he hid them behind his workbench. And that's why he became so angry when Bud Zephron was sent here to help out. He was afraid that Bud will prevent him from putting in the old shock absorbers. But it wasn't Bud, it was me who foiled his plans. My excessive diligence.
Looking into Lester Hugh's eyes, I said slowly:
"I put them in the workbench in your presence. And you locked the workbench after they were in."
I don't know what Lester Hugh read in my sight, but he turned away. And once again repeated:
"So where'd they disappear to?"
All had begun to search for the lost shock-absorbers. All, except me. I perfectly knew, that the shock absorbers will not be found. But the others did not know, and searched for `em. They were saying that no one could have taken them out of the gate – the guard would have seen it. They couldn't have installed it somewhere else either – there were no other Cadillacs being repaired at the truck depot. Perhaps, someone hid them for kicks – there are such jokers around.
In half an hour the entire truck depot knew, that four new shock absorbers were missing in the garage.
When something vanishes in once place, loss of other things is immediately discovered in other places... It became known, that in the electroshop an almost new battery and almost new dynamo were missing, in the interior shop – an almost new seat, in the mechanical – also some missing parts...
I did not pay attention to these rumors. It cannot be that in one day all of that was stolen throughout the truck depot! It's just that the shock absorbers are gone, and so all became agitated, began to search, rummage, and it began to seem that they are also missing stuff. The fact was that four shock absorbers for a Cadillac were gone. And I knew, that it was Lester Hugh who took them. But I couldn't say it: I didn't have any evidence.
The end of shift ring sounded. For workers the lunch break has begun. For us it meant the end of our work day, so we went out to the yard.
The yard was full of people. Workers were catching some sun. The milkwoman went by with her cart. Workers bought milk and, having taken a seat in the shade, drank it, having a snack roll. A bottle of milk and a bun roll is their usual breakfast. There is a buffet in the truck depot, but nearly everyone prefers milk.
Suddenly, the manager appeared. And with him – the chief engineer, the master of the interior shop, the foreman of the electricians and Ian. All had gloomy faces, and Ian was shivering with fear. The manager, looking straight ahead, asked:
Master Eddie Clay pointed at Vern. The foreman of electricians also pointed at Vern. All of them pointed at Vern. Vern stood, understanding nothing, and smiled.
"Let's go!" – said the manager gloomily.
They all, with us in tow, walked inside and approached the shed where Vern stored the spare parts he collected. I immediately felt something was wrong. Not because of the gloomy expression of the manager, but because of Ian's confused face. If Ian is out of his confidence zone, it means that something extraordinary had happened.
Vern opened the shed. The manager stepped into it. A minute later out flew the new seat, then the back of that very seat, then an almost new dynamo, some other parts, and, finally, the manager stepped out and handed to the foreman of electricians an almost new battery.
We stood shaken, crushed, destroyed. We did not dare raise our eyes, so we were ashamed. And only Vern did not show any embarrassment. He just stood there, near the shed, and each time the manager threw something out, a self–satisfied smile appeared on his fat stupid face. And he'd look `round with a triumphant gaze, inviting us to admire how many good parts he managed to drag here.
The manager fastidiously wiped his hands with a rag and asked:
"Where are the shock-absorbers?"
"What shock-absorbers?" – Vern was surprised.
"For the Cadillac."
"I dunno," – answered Vern.
The manager turned to Ian:
"I want those shock-absorbers back."
"Okay, okay," – Ian hastily replied.
"And put these in their rightful place!" – the manager ordered, having stuck a foot into the parts thrown out from the shed. Then he left.
The workers have taken away all the good parts, and left the broken ones. Then they went away as well.
We stood near the shed in silence. Our entire class was here. What could we say? The facts are clear. The missing parts were found with us. Shame!..
Then Maya said:
That as if woke us up. All the kids rustled, started talking. Everyone accused Vern. It was he who said that the manager allowed us to collect parts. So the kids put their foot on it, and got their hands on whatever they could find. And now this happened.
When Vern was chosen as the supply assistant, I knew that nothing good will come of it. I knew that Vern'd do something stupid and all of us would have to answer for it. And now I very much wanted to remind the others of this fact. I wanted to say: "When I objected to Vern, you laughed at me, and went ahead and did what Ian said. So now you only have yourselves to blame".
I really wanted to say that. But I constrained myself. Not because I felt sorry for Vern, but because that he, as far as I could work out, was not to blame. He did not drag these parts on the sly, he openly came and openly said that we should bring him parts. The question is: did the manager allow it or not. If he allowed it, then Vern is innocent. And if Vern made it up, then he is guilty. We must sort this out calmly, instead of panicking and blaming him anyway.
I asked Vern:
"Did the manager really allow us to collect the parts or did you make it up?"
"Of course he allowed it!" – said Vern.
"How do you know?"
Vern pointed at Ian:
"Ian told me. Right, Ian?"
Instead of an answer, Ian thoughtfully murmured:
"I wonder where did the shock-absorbers go?"
"I didn't take any fucking shock-absorbers!" – the poor Vern cried out.
I didn't like the fact that Ian shirked away from an answer, so I pressed on questioning him:
"Forget the shock absorbers. You just tell us: did the manager allow us to collect the parts or not?"
Ian peeled his blue eyes at me and slowly said:
"Sort of... So what?"
"Please, do well without `sort ofs'!"
"Okay, yeah, he allowed it!"
"Then why is Vern guilty?"
"I'll tell you why!" – with a judicious voice replied Ian. – "One must not act willfully, and one must ask permission from the shop chiefs before taking anything."
"But Vern didn't take the parts," – I objected, – "the kids took `em and brought them to Vern."
Ian reproachfully shook his head:
"It is incorrect to accuse all. The collective is not to blame. Vern arranged it."
"Don't you throw around your demagogy!" – I cried out. – "Don't hide behind `the collective'. Some fucking habit you have, asshole! Answer me straight: what is Vern to blame for?"
Ian darkened with rage, but tried to show endurance:
"Vern was obliged to warn the kids that they should not swipe off anything autocratically, that they should ask permission first."
Here the opinions of the other kids divided. Some considered, that Vern is still guilty, others – that not so much. The latter was the majority.
"Everyone should be responsible for their own actions, instead of hiding behind Vern's back. Natalie and I took the seat without permission. So, we are guilty. It's unfair to dump it all on Vern."
Natalie Fleck added:
"Yeah, we're all guilty."
While the kids argued, I came up with a brilliant idea, and shouted:
"Wait a moment, now we'll clear it all up!" – and then I turned to Ian: – "So the Manager warned you, that we have to ask the shop chiefs?"
Ian felt a trap in my question, and attentively looked at me. Then he cautiously answered:
"Well, yeah, he warned me... sort of... He said: `Have the shop chiefs rummage in their reserves'."
"So, the manager did warn you!" – I exclaimed. – "But did you warn Vern?"
Here all the other kids understood that this is the main question. And everyone stared at Ian.
"Well, you see," – uncertainly began Ian, – "It cannot be, that I did not warn him..."
"You're fucking lying!" – cried out Vern. – "You didn't warn me about jack. You ordered me to collect parts, and that's it!"
"Fuck off!" – Ian impatiently waved Vern away. – "I don't remember the exact phrasing I used... Anyway, I did not order Vern to drag whatever he can get his grabby hands on. Vern is not a little boy. He should think about what he's doing. He has a head on his shoulders, not a melon."
Then I said:
"So the manager warned you, and you didn't warn Vern. That means that you thought that Vern has a head on his shoulders, and the manager thought that you have a melon in place of a head."
Ian realized that I had completely defeated him. But he was a big diplomat, laughed at my joke with everyone, and good–naturedly spoke:
"Well, okay. The issue here is not who is guilty. To some extent, maybe, I'm also to blame. But I see now: at the last meeting Tinny was right, when he objected to Vern."
With that he wanted to enlist me as ally. Fat chance. That would have been an unscrupulous union.
"The issue here is not Vern, it is you," – I said. – "You are guilty. And you tried to push it all on Vern. It didn't work, asshole."
In the end, Maya's offer was voted best: we are all guilty, we should apologize before the management and promise that this will not repeat.
I refrained from the vote. I still thought that it was all Ian's fault, and resented the idea that we all take the blame. Ian, however, cheered up at once:
"All right, let it be so. But what should we do about these damn shock-absorbers? They think that we took `em."
"Let them think whatever they want!" – cried out the kids. – "We didn't take any shock-absorbers."
Maya said to Vern:
"Vern, give us your word of honor, that you didn't take them!"
Vern put a hand on his heart and solemnly swore on all that is dear that that he did not even see any shock-absorbers, ever. Everyone believed him. And me especially. After all, I knew precisely who stole the shock-absorbers.
Ian also believed Vern. But he was afraid of the manager. And consequently he made such an offer:
"We will choose a delegation that will go to the manager's office and will convey our decision. For the delegation's compliment I offer: Maya, Ivan Polak and Tinny."
"And you're shitting yourself!" – I noticed.
"No," – Ian objected. – "It's just that I go to the manager's office for different current affairs too often. My arrival there will not make a necessary impression. And a special delegation will make the necessary impression."
So we went to see the manager. Maya, Ivan Polak and I. Ian also tagged along with us, he had to be in the center of events. But in the office he stood aside from us, as a person who had just casually came in, on another matter.
"So, what is it?" – The manager asked.
We agreed that Maya will start speaking first. She is a lady, and as such the manager is obliged to speak with her politely. Generally he is a restrained man, but who knows... And if it will be required, therein Ivan and I will join the conversation.
"Our class recognizes it's fault. We took some things without asking permission. This will not happen again."
"And the shock absorbers?" – asked the manager.
"We did not take them. We don't even need them, to fix that truck I mean. Right?" – and she looked back at me.
"That's right," – I added, – "What would we do with shock absorbers for a Cadillac?.. We're fixing an International Harvester."
"Then who took them?" – asked the manager.
"We do not know it," – said Maya.
"You must find them," – the manager said calmly.
Here I thought it right to intervene. I asked:
"That's interesting, how exactly are we supposed to find them?"
The manager shrugged:
"That's your business."
Ian, with his bassy voice, suddenly stepped forward:
"Do not worry, Mr. Jessie, we will take the appropriate measures."
He wished to cajole the manager.
"No," – I objected, – "Ian's promises are vain. We did not authorize him to say that. We did not take the shock-absorbers, we do not know where they are, and we do not intend to search for them. So there's no point in promising to take measures."
The manager looked at me attentively. In general, he kept attentively examining us, as if he could not understand, what kind of people are we. The chief engineer sat near the manager and was silent. He was considered the head of our industrial practice, he was responsible for us, so he was inconvenienced and embarrassed by this event. After a short silence the manager said:
"You speak well, boy. How old are you?"
"Fourteen. I read a lot. And what does that have to do with anything?"
"Fine. Then tell me, who allowed you to take parts from the shops without permission?"
"But we recognized our fault about that," – said Maya.
"You think that if you recognized your fault that means that you're now justified in doing it?"
Maya shifted her plait from one shoulder to another. That gesture meant that she is starting to worry:
"And what else are we supposed to do?!"
"You're beginning at the wrong end of it, that's what," – the manager said. – "You have to first disassemble the truck, then take the parts to the shops. And then you will see what parts you need, instead of grabbing random stuff all over the place."
"That's right", – agreed Ivan Polak.
I also agreed, that this is the way to go.
"We also came to this conclusion, Mr. Jessie. This is how we plan to proceed."
"But do it carefully, so you won't lose one nut," – the manager warned.
"Do not worry," – Ian assured him.
Ian saw that the conversation with the manager is turning out to be not so terrible after all, and at once had grown bolder and again entered into the role of the chief of staff.
When we were leaving the office, he remained there. Told us:
"Wait for me outside, I'll be right along."
In the yard stood all the other kids. They were waiting on us, to find out how it went. We told them that everything is all right.
After a few minutes Ian appeared, shook his hair, and cheerfully said:
"The incident is settled. Tomorrow we begin dismantling the jalopy. But not the one on the waste ground. In the summer camp, in Wolton, where we spent the summers of our innocent childhood, there is another truck. Also written off, but in much better condition. It is being given to us. Tomorrow we'll tow it here."
All started to shout that this is great and that Ian did good.
I also thought that Ian, despite his earlier fuckup, did good. When Bud Zephron told us about the truck in Wolton we paid no attention to it. But Ian grasped it at once and already settled it with the manager. He does have administrative abilities, you can't deny it.
Nevertheless, I noted:
"We knew about that truck. Before you did."
"So why didn't you say anything?" – maliciously asked Ian.
I had nothing to answer.
We began deciding who will go to Wolton to get the truck. However, it was clear who. The garage is responsible for towage, and who works at the garage? Me and Smako.
"Let Steven and Peter go," – said Maya, – "After all, they know the truck as a whole!" – and she smiled at me.
See, as I said, Maya never calls me "Tinny", she always calls me by name. And she always speaks to me with a smile the meaning of which I do not understand, and consequently I don't know, whether to be happy about it or not.
"That is reasonable," – Ian agreed, – "and I will go with them. Ivan Polak will remain as chief of staff here."
Ian had absolutely nothing to do there at Wolton. He just wanted, once again, to be where the action is. Well, whatever! Ivan Polak will move stuff here much better than Ian anyway. Ivan is a serious guy, not a prattler, and he's a good technician.
But this wasn't enough for Ian.
"Also, Vern will go with us," – he declared.
"What for?" – We were surprised.
"You never know what kind of help we might need. And Vern is a go to guy, he'll help out."
But, as I have guessed, Ian took Vern just so he'd have someone to order around. He knew, that Smako and I would not submit to his bullshit.
That evening at home I told my parents to wake me early the next morning, as I have to go to Wolton to tow a truck. I didn't elaborate beyond that. I don't like to talk about school at home, and even less so about the truck depot. I mean, what for? Mom cannot remember any of the kid's names, nor the names of the teachers. Tell her about one, and she thinks you're talking about another. Every time you need to start all over again, explain about every person you talk about, who he is and what he said. In addition, many kids from my grade live in our neighborhood, and my mom knows their parents. And she may blurt out something she shouldn't. She is surprisingly dimwitted when it comes to this sort of stuff.
A couple of years ago, I came home and told her that Peter got a third consecutive F in English. I don't even remember why I told her. We were just sitting in the kitchen and chatting, you know, when you're twelve you still chat with your mother occasionally. Anyway, it was completely without malice or malevolence. I just told her because I felt sorry for him, especially `cause Smako grabbed that third F by a silly misunderstanding, only the first two were justified.
And then my mother met Peter's grandmother out in the yard, and tells her about these F's. Naturally, with the best intentions at heart. She wanted to give her some advice, to share experiences she had with me, or something like that.
This was not the end of the world: I told my mother, and she shared her experience. Moreover, Peter didn't hide his F's at home, his grandmother knew about them perfectly well. But Peter's grandmother comes home and starts to scold him: "Shame! The whole building knows about you flunking English! All the neighbors are talking."
Smako almost fought with me forever over this. I could not get him to understand, that there was no malice in the incident, neither on my side, nor on my mother's. He didn't want to hear any explanations, and said that if this happens again, I'll get a beating. I had to admit that I am a prattler and that I have too long a tongue. Only after that he forgave me and we reconciled.
And all of it was because of my mother's directness. She does not gossip, it's just her sincere, honest nature. She does not understand that different people perceive everything differently. She doesn't get that a trifle for her might me God knows how important for someone else. I appreciate my mother's frank, direct nature. But I do not wish to get burned by it. So I stopped telling her about school affairs. I only told my parents that I would be making a buck thirty an hour at the truck depot.
"How much will this come to by the end of the month?" – Asked my mother and began to calculate in her mind.
I figured that already at the meeting.
"There are thirty days in June. A buck thirty an hour, six hours per day, so seven–eighty per day, that's about two–hundred and thirty bucks."
But my father said that I only get paid for weekdays, Sundays are not included. So this would amount to two–hundred and two dollars. About two–hundred, not about two–thirty.
"How are you going to spend it?" – dad asked me.
"Install a motor on my bike, turn it into a moped."
"No way!" – Said mother. – "I'm already worried enough when you ride that thing. And if you'd have a motor on it... No way!"
I calmly explained to her that only a moron would get in an accident on a moped. Many of the boys in my grade have mopeds, and nothing happened so far.
To this she replied with her usual answer:
"Don't forget that you are the youngest."
I really am the youngest in our grade. I was sent to school when I was still shy of six years. The other boys were after six, some were close to seven. Ian was even almost eight, as he missed a year for some sickness his had as a small child. So I was always the youngest, and on top of that I was also on the smaller side of my own age too.
Gradually, though, the other kids forgot about my age – age differences erode with time anyway – and I was no longer treated as the youngest in my grade. Only my mother continued to think so. And at any opportunity, she'd say: "Don't forget that you are the youngest."
So she said now. And then added:
"When you're sixteen years old, and get your license, you can ride on whatever you want."
Previously, mom said "fourteen years old", when it came to stuff she thought I was too young to do. "When you'll be fourteen years of age – do what you want." But now, when the fourteen mark has come and gone, a new figure appeared – sixteen... "When you'll be sixteen and get your license..." I'm guessing that when I'd be sixteen, she'd jump onward, something like: "When you'd be eighteen and you go to college, that's when..." and so on.
Anyway, I didn't want to have this abstract argument. If I decide to buy a motor for my bike, then I'd argue and stand my ground when the time comes to buy it. Why should I insist on it twice: now and then?
"I haven't really decided anything yet anyway," – I said. – "Maybe I'll buy a motor, and maybe I'll subscribe to a science magazine."
I went to bed, putting an alarm clock next to my bed so as not to oversleep.
I could not fall asleep for a long time, thinking about today's incident at the depot. Ian is a bad friend. The more time passes, the more I'm convinced of this. Trying to abscond clean when you're at fault is nasty enough as is; but then trying to dump one's fault on a friend's shoulders – that's nastiness cubed.
So in the story with Vern I was right: I sieged Ian. Now with the shock absorbers story something in my behavior was wrong, but I couldn't figure out what.
I cannot prove that Lester Hugh replaced the shock absorbers with the old ones. But I know it without a doubt. And, knowing this but saying nothing, I'm therefore covering for Lester Hugh. And not only do I cover his crime, but I talk to him, work side by side with him, like any other, so in fact I'm behaving as if he is an honest man. That means I'm trying to make a deal with my own conscience.
What should I do? Just tell everyone about him?.. It's horrible to say about a man that he is a thief... And people will ask me: "Where is your evidence?" And I have no evidence.
But if I had not remained silent about the bearings he stole, openly said something about it, then Lester wouldn't dare replace the shock absorbers. Even if no one would have believed me, Lester would still have not taken the shock absorbers: he'd be afraid. Hence, by saying something about the bearings, I would have prevented his next crime. And what if the others would not had believed me? They'd consider me a prattler and a slanderer... So, a question arises: what is more precious – the shock absorbers or my reputation?
But this is philosophy. I don't like philosophy.
And in order to fall asleep soon, I decided to not think about Lester Hugh, but about something pleasant. For example, about how I'd spend my two hundred or so bucks.
Well, firstly I gotta get gifts to my father and mother. Also, it'd be nice to get something small for Matty. For some reason, I just feel like spoiling that boy a bit. Maybe it's because I don't have a younger brother.
Anyway, I won't buy a motor for my bike. I have a trucking license for god's sake (let's put aside the fact that it's not a real license for the time being), it's silly to ride a moped, I'll wait until I can get something bigger. I won't subscribe to a science mag either, I don't even like science all that much.
I'll go on a trip, that's it! Somewhere exotic. To the mountains, or something. Maybe Maya will go with me. That would be cool, maybe I'll invite her. When we climb up the rocks, I'll give her a helping hand. And she'd smile at me. And we'd start talking more, and then maybe I'd work up the courage and kiss her... first just lightly, on the lips, but then we'd progress to French–kissing, tongues and everything. And I'd put a hand on her boob, shyly, and she'd encourage me by smiling, and take my other hand and put it on her other boob. And we'd sit in front of some gorgeous view, and we'd be French kissing, and I'd be touching her boobs, making her feel sexy and good, like that girl does in "Love Me Little", and I'd feel great as well, naturally. And then, one night I'd be lying in the tent... (wait a second, just let me get my underwear off under the blanket here, there we go... there is my hard little friend, aahhh...) So, as I was saying, I'd be lying in the tent, thinking noble thoughts, and suddenly, Maya would come in to my tent. She'd put a finger on her lips, gesturing me to be quiet, and slowly slide down onto my inflatable mattress, and into my sleeping bag... And then she'd unzip my trousers, feel for my dick, pull down my underwear, and start stroking it gently... ahhh... that would probably feel so good... and then she'd open the sleeping bag, and lift her nightgown, taking her panties off... and I'd finally get to see it again, her beautiful pussy, that I only got to see before when we were in kindergarten... She'd have some hair on it, but not too much... and she'd slowly lower herself onto my dick, and we'd have wonderful, gentle, exquisite sex, and she'd be smiling at me the whole time until I have my orgasm and shoot my stuff... aaaahhhh... (here I made another pause in my fantasy to get the cleanup towel from under the bed and wipe off the mess I made on my belly, then I resumed the story in my mind).
Every night after that we'd sleep in my tent, having wonderful sex every time. Then, we would come upon a beautiful mountain lake. The sky would be reflecting in it, so clearly, that it will seem as if there is another sky in the water. And we will go swimming, but the water is very cold, and Maya will get a cramp in her leg and begin to drown. I'll throw myself in and rescue her. In her confusion and breathlessness, she will resist. I'd even have to hit her over the head, but it's for her own good.
On the shore someone from the group will perform artificial respiration on her. She'd wake and open her eyes. See those people who did CPR on her. But I am not one of them. I'll sit on the sidelines. And she would not guess that it was I who saved her. With a weak voice, when no one's around, she'd ask me: "Who saved me?"
I'll answer cryptically: "There was this one guy..."
And so me and Maya are traveling farther. Again, I climb the mountains, and I offer Maya a helping hand, continue to protect her. But to Maya it all seems trivial and petty compared to the heroic act of the mysterious stranger who saved her from drowning. With sadness she thinks about him. Compares him with me. The comparison is not in my favor: it wasn't me, but he who saved her. We still French kiss while looking at the sunset, but her eyes are moist, as she kisses me but dreams of another. We still have sex in my tent at night, but it is now hollow, the magic is gone and she is just going through the motions, as she dreams of having sex with the mysterious stranger who saved her. He saved her, not me. And deep in her soul Maya starts to secretly despise me for it.
But I am silent. I no longer enjoy our sex, as I can see how sad she is, and gradually I bring it to a stop, ask her not to come to my tent anymore. She silently agrees. Still, though sadly, I extend my hand to help Maya along when we climb on the rocks. I am sad that my selfless act she attributes to another, and that our wonderful, magical relationship had dried up over it. But I won't say a word, I refuse to be a braggart, such a noble heart I have.
Sad, we finish the trip. Maya's so sad at the thought of the stranger who saved her, I'm sad to think that we can never be together again.
We go back to Somerset. Maya tells all the girls that she was drowning, and an unknown young man saved her. Saved her and left. Left because he's modest, noble, and wished to remain anonymous. She doesn't even tell them that she lost her virginity with me, and that pains my heart so. The girls listen with delight, yelp and gasp, jealous of Maya. Natalie fleck is tormented by the thought that such a romantic adventure happened to Maya, and not to her. All say to Maya that the wonderful young man will certainly show up one day. He may have left that beach, but he probably remembers her well, after all she is so pretty. He knows who she is, and maybe he is just waiting for her to come of age. And in that case he will appear in the most unexpected of circumstances. Maybe he's even waiting to save her again.
So we go through the rest of our school years. Maya keeps thinking about her savior. Our relationship went from passionate love during the trip to just friendly again. Really, I am now just a little boy in her eyes, nothing special. She still calls me Steven, still smiles at me, but with a tinge of sadness: I remind her of the young man whom she loves and will love forever...
We are finishing school. Comes the senior prom. And among the guests is a man who then, on that secluded mountain lake, did Maya's artificial respiration. This could be anyone, even one of the parents. For example, Gail Mackie's father.
He walks over to Maya and says:
"I am very glad to see you again, young lady."
"How do we know each other?" – Maya will ask.
"What do you mean – how! When you were pulled from the water, I was doing CPR on you."
"Oh," – says Maya and smiles sadly.
Then Gail Mackie's father will say:
"Where is that fine young man who pulled you out of the water?"
Maya will smile even sadder:
"I do not know..."
"But, how can this be," – Gail Mackie's father is surprised, – "how can you not know? You came with him to that lake and left with him."
Maya is thunderstruck. She takes my hand in hers and with a trembling voice she asks:
"Steven! Why didn't you tell me?"
I calmly reply:
"Does it really matter?"
And with that I walk away.
The whole rest of the evening Maya looks at me, tormented by the thought of how she was unfair to me all of these years... And all the other girls look at me with admiration. I wander about the hall for some time and then go home.
Then Maya and I go into different colleges, and we cease to see each other for a while. And by chance, after a year or two, we meet again at a college party. By then, I am a valued sportsman, the champion of my school at...
End of Part 2 (includes Chapters 6,7,8,9,10)
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