Moves in the Game

Short Story

Michael Gouda

"Greg! If you don't get your arse in gear quicker than that you'll find yourself in line for the dole queue before you're many months older."

"Sorry, Mr Farnham, there was a queue at the sandwich place."

Greg was the office junior, the dogsbody, the 'gopher' - gopher as in 'Greg, go for a sandwich from the Salad Bowl, Greg, go for the Shit and Parsnip file'. This last had caused more than a bit of confusion though it turned out that Greg had misheard 'Smith & Parsons' which was explained somewhat sarcastically when he turned up saying he couldn't find the one he had been asked for.

Greg had just left school. He was seventeen, a fresh-faced youngster who had faced the decision as to whether to go to college, or university or, as he finally decided, to go into the business world. He would start at the bottom and work his way up until he became a multimillionaire like Richard Branson or Greg Sugar or Terry Leahy.

That was the plan anyway though Greg's experiences in the offices of Kwik-Delivery plc hadn't so far shown him any likelihood of climbing any fast track way to the top. Making coffee, and finding papers – for a so-called paper-free office, there was an astonishing amount of printouts, copies, first drafts etc. – which all had their places and, on occasions, needed to be found and fetched for Greg's immediate boss, Mr Farnham.

Farnham, by his friends (though not of course by Greg), called Lewis, couldn't have been that much older than Greg – possibly in his early twenties – but was given seniority by his position, Office Manager, and his moustache. This, to be honest wasn't much to brag about as it was thin and looked as if it had crawled there one evening and might, given the slightest opportunity, crawl away again.

His attitude though didn't gain him much popularity. To the girls who typed away at the computers he adopted an attempt at a benign flirtation which just stopped short of sexual harassment. To the men under him he was arrogant and deprecating when their endeavours didn't reach his apparently high expectation. To his superiors he crawled embarrassingly.

Apart from the three girl typists, with whom Greg got on quite well, the only male friend he had so far found in the firm was Tom, a guy of about his own age from the delivery department. Greg rather fancied Tom. He liked the way his dark hair fell over his forehead to be brushed aside impatiently when it got in his way. He liked his grey eyes and his dark eyebrows which thickly overshadowed them. He liked his voice, light and firm, with its slight cockney accent. Most of all he liked his body, the slim tapering waist, his muscular legs, which could be seen in his tightish jeans and, to top it all, he liked the bulge which was so provocatively apparent in the fork at the top of his legs.

Sometimes Greg wondered whether Tom was gay - that bulge from time to time seemed more pronounced when the two of them sat together in the summer months in the park, where the kids played 'footie' and some people walked their dogs and he and Tom ate their sandwiches together, elbows and upper arms occasionally touching.

But it appeared that Tom was straight – or at least his conversation was practically always concerned with 'birds', which one he rather fancied when typists, pert-breasted, strutted past them, chatting and giggling knowing they were being observed by the guys on the grass, which one he had taken out the previous Saturday to the club where they had both got high on some sort of amphetamine-based drug and finished up dancing the night away before crashing out into bed together.

"You should come with us sometime," Tom often said.

"I don't fancy a threesome," said Greg, though actually he might have – as long as he had the male side. He would sometimes agree to go with them but never turned up. He didn't really want to see 'his' Tom in the arms of some drugged bird.

One thing they did have in common, though, was that they both hated Mr Farnham. 'Lewis', Lew. The name got corrupted via 'Loo' and Farnham's habit of brown-nosing the bosses to Bog-roll which they agreed was a suitable nickname for the man.

"He ain't much older than you or me," said Tom, and Greg agreed. "And yet he struts about like he's the cock of some barnyard compost heap."

"Cock!" said Greg. "He probably hasn't got one at all – and he's trying to compensate." He liked bringing the subject round to something sexual just to see if Tom's bulge would react.

Tom laughed. "Just a little worm thing hanging limply between his legs."

"Couldn't get it up to save his life."

"Unless the Managing Director showed some interest."

Greg glanced at Tom's groin where the cloth of his jeans was stretched. He could almost make out the shape underneath and wasn't sure whether it was larger than it had been before. Probably not.

"This job wouldn't be too bad if it weren't for Bog-roll," said Greg.

"I probably won't be staying long here anyway," said Tom.

That was news to Greg – and bad news at that. "What'll you do?" he asked. "Jobs aren't all that easy to find."

"I'll find something. I'll try my hand at practically anything."

I wish you would, thought Greg, but he only nodded, then, catching sight of his watch, jumped up. "Jesus," he said. "We're late. Bog-roll will have my balls."

Luckily that time, Bog-roll was in with one of the bosses, Mr Botterill, and didn't notice Greg's late return. When he came out of the office, though, he was obviously in a bad mood.

"Were you late back from lunch?" he asked.

"Certainly not, Mr Farnham," said Greg putting on a tone of outraged innocence. "Dead on time – as always."

"Well, just go and check when that dispatch to Kearley & Woods went out yesterday. Customer says he hasn't received it even though he opted for 'next day delivery'."

That meant going to see Tom, and Greg went happily enough, past the row of computer typists, out through the swinging doors into the large packing room which always smelled of cardboard and damp and exhaust from the delivery vans parked at the exit.

"Package for Kearley & Woods," said Greg. "Supposed to have gone yesterday by special delivery, not arrived. Bog-roll's got his knickers in a twist. Expect he got a bollocking from the high ups."

"Big fleas have little fleas, upon their backs to bite 'em, and little fleas have lesser fleas, and so on ad infinitum," said Tom. "Hang on. Let me have a look on the computer."

There was a brief pause while he bent over the keyboard and tapped at the keys. Greg admired the curve of his buttocks outlined by the stretched denim. For one mad moment he imagined himself taking a step nearer and clasping them in his hands.

"Shit," said Tom. "It's still here. I haven't got it down for 'next day'."

"Christ," said Greg, "Bog-roll 'll go spare."

"Weren't my fault," said Tom, holding up the package which he had rescued from a bin. "It ain't got a DND sticker on it."

"Even so. He'll blame me. It's my job to put them on – if the computer says it needs one."

"Check with the girls," said Tom. "Look, there's nothing on the printout that says it's DND."

With some trepidation Greg went back into the office. He approached one of the girls, Sue, with whom he was most friendly. "Could you just look up this despatch," he asked, "and see whether it was marked DND?"

Sue tapped in but before she found anything, Bog-roll's voice echoed down the room. "What about this package, Greg?"

"I'm sorry, Mr Farnham. I'm afraid it hasn't been despatched. Well, it has now but it didn't have a DND."

"And whose fault's that? It's part of your job to put on the stickers."

"Only if it's indicated on the printout."

"Of course it was indicated."

Greg waved the printout he had got from Tom. "No, sir," he said. "It's not there."

Bog-roll grabbed the paper and scanned it. His face flushed. He turned to Sue, obviously anxious to lay the blame somewhere. "You must have left it off when you typed it in," he said.

Sue, though, was equal to the accusation. "No, Mr Farnham," she said. "I've got the original paper copy that you passed through. We always keep originals for a couple of days. There's nothing on it that specifies 'Delivery Next Day' so obviously I didn't include it."

For the first time since he'd joined the firm, Greg was grateful for the amount of paper that was kept in this so-called paper-free office.

Bog-roll looked at the piece of paper, then turned it over to look at the back. He couldn't find what he was looking for and suddenly he looked very young and vulnerable. His face paled. For a moment Greg almost felt sorry for him, but the feeling was gone in a second when Bog-roll snapped. "Well, get on with your work, everyone. There's too much idling around in this office."

Instantly they tried to look very busy but watched while, looking very much as if his tail was between his legs, Bog-roll went to see his boss and presumably receive his telling-off.

At the end of the day, Greg met up with Tom and told him what had happened.

"Probably still blamed it on one of us," said Tom. "Rotten bastard." He smiled. "Come out for a drink with us."

Greg noticed the curve of his lips as he smiled. He could imagine kissing him and how they'd feel pressed up against his. "Us?"

"Me," said Tom. "I ain't got anyone to see tonight. P'raps we can pick up a couple of birds. Cop off. Even if we don't we'll have a boys' night out. Get pissed."

Sounded like a dream. "OK."

"Got to go home first," said Tom. "Change and have a shower." He lifted his arms and sniffed. "I stink," he said.

Greg could smell the slight odour of healthy sweat. He rather liked it. "I live too far out," he said, knowing that the journey to Potters Bar and back would take an hour each way.

"Come back with me," said Tom. "Mum won't mind. I've got something you can wear."

"OK." Greg's response might have sounded brief and laconic but it hid the excitement that coursed through his body. Go back to Tom's place. Wear Tom's clothes. Perhaps even see Tom in the shower. Perhaps . . . He stifled the thoughts before they raced out of control.

Greg phoned his mother on his mobile. "Mum, I'm going out for a drink with the lads. Don't know when I'll be back. Don't wait up."

Tom lived two stops away on the Underground. The house was small, two bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs, one large room and a kitchen downstairs, in a terrace. It was built of red Victorian brick and had net curtains at the windows. The decoration looked as if it was due for renewal but Greg thought it marvellous – after all Tom lived there.

Tom's 'mum' was a short woman with blond hair, dark at the roots and a lively manner. She didn't seem at all fazed at the arrival of another person – perhaps it often happened – and said the shepherd's pie could easily stretch. There seemed to be no 'dad' – at least he wasn't mentioned and didn't appear.

"We'll go up to my room to get ready," said Tom. "Call us when supper's ready, mum."

Tom's room – the bedroom at the back – had little to show Tom's individuality. There was a bed, a bit larger than a single but not exactly a double. "Sometimes I have to double up when one of mum's brother's come to visit," Tom confided. A computer stood on a chest of drawers with a chair against it. It didn't look very comfortable as there was nowhere for the knees to go. An old-fashioned wardrobe with mirrors set in the doors stood in the corner. A pair of speakers were fastened to one wall connected to an MP3 player. Tom chose a track – some girls singer whom Greg didn't know. It was not his kind of music, but, because Tom had chosen it, it was wonderful.

"I'll just have a shower," said Tom, stripping off his T-shirt and throwing it down on the floor. Greg tried not to look at his body but failed dismally. "Not bad is it?" said Tom, noticing. "I keep in shape."

Then he unzipped his jeans and dropped them to his ankles. He was wearing briefs. He had undressed the wrong way round, he hadn't taken off his trainers, so he sat on the bed and took them off. Greg stared at the bulge in his pants. Was he going to strip completely?

Tom stood up, naked except for those briefs, a strip of blue cotton that was all that prevented everything being revealed. But it was not to be. He smiled, grabbed a towel and went out. Was he just teasing? Greg realised he was erect. Had Tom noticed? He must be careful, but he couldn't stop himself from picking up that T-shirt and holding it to his nose. The scent of Tom, sweet and slightly acrid at the same time, was exciting and arousing. He wondered whether he could take the vest away with him but feared Tom would notice if it was missing.

Five minutes later Tom came back, his hair damp and tousled, a towel around his waist. "You want one now?" he asked. "Just on the right, down the passage. I'll find you something to wear, better than that awful suit."

Greg blushed as he took off his office suit, the one that Farnham insisted he wore in the 'office' as distinct from those who did the manual work who could wear anything. He hung his jacket on the back of the chair and folded his trousers so that they wouldn't crease. Tom watched with an amused smile. Greg pulled off his tie and undid his shirt. His body wasn't as toned as Tom's but at least he wasn't fat. He was wearing boxers which was a good thing as he felt the beginnings of another erection forming.

"Got a towel?" he asked. For a moment he thought Tom was about to strip off and offer him the one he was wearing but in the end he opened a drawer and found a dry one.

The shower was just a head over the bath. Greg showered as quickly as possible, using the gel that presumably Tom had used. They'd smell the same at least. Quickly he dried himself and pulled on his shorts. He thought perhaps Tom would still be in the same state or, if lucky, completely naked but when he got back to the room, Tom was wearing dark chinos and a clean T-shirt with the name of a group emblazoned on the front.

Tom eyed him. "Think these will fit," he said, handing him a pair of jeans, fashionably ripped horizontally at the knees. Greg wouldn't have minded if they were filthy but they smelled clean. "T or ordinary shirt?"

Greg didn't want it to appear that he was copying Tom so he opted for a shirt. He got a green one which Greg rather liked. He thought it suited his fair hair and slight tan.

They stood side by side and looked at their reflected selves, one in each mirror. "We look good together," said Tom and put an arm round Greg's shoulder. "A couple of girls could get lucky."

Greg could feel the warmth of Tom's body down his side, the weight of his arm on his shoulder. If he turned his head his lips would be inches away from Tom's cheek. Could he? Should he?

The moment was broken by a shout from downstairs. "Food's ready."

They drew apart and ate shepherds' pie, carrots and peas, tinned peaches and evaporated milk. It wasn't the sort of food Greg ate at home, his parents preferring something more esoteric, but, because it was Tom's, it was delicious.

When they set out, it was still light though the sun was low in the west. The evening was warm and they walked easily, caught a bus to Tom's preference of club, one appropriately called Choices, entrance fee £5, music 80s retropop. The entrance fee included the first drink and they each had half a lager. "They don't serve pints here," said Tom.

They drank to Bog-roll's ill health and laughed and Greg felt a sense of companionship, no, more than that. He knew for certain he was in love with Tom and always would be. As he glanced out of the corner of his eye at Tom's handsome face, the droop of his black hair across his forehead, the straight nose, the glorious, glorious lips and the body, athletically posed against the bar, he was happy. But second and third drinks were expensive and they decided a pub would be cheaper.

So, out they went to the Duke of Wellington in Broad Street. Greg hoped his being underage wouldn't show in the comparative brilliance of the pub but the barman didn't notice and served them pints of lager without comment.

There were two girls sitting across the room, one an almost pretty blond, her companion, darker, plumper, pudding-faced.

"What about those two?" asked Tom, nodding with his head.

"Don't fancy yours," said Greg, and they laughed, all pals together, finding jokes and easy conversation between them. One drink stretched to two, to four, to an uncounted - but who's counting? - number. Before they knew it, the landlord was calling time and Greg knew he was drunk, not sick drunk, but certainly weave down the road, trip over the curb drunk. Could he make the train back to Potters Bar? He doubted it.

"Shit," he said, "and I've gotta catch a train." His words sounded slightly slurred.

"You can shay – stay the night with me, if you don't mind staring – sharing."

That sobered Greg up. What had Tom said? "You've only one bed."

"Thass alright. As long as you don't take ad-vantage of me." He grinned to show he was joking – probably.

Greg phoned home. From the sound of his father's voice, it seemed he'd got him out of bed. "I'm a bit pissed," Greg said. "I'm staying the night with one of my friends from work."

"You got me up to tell me that," said his father.

"I thought mum might worry," and winced as the receiver at the other end was slammed down.

But nothing could reduce the excitement of what was going to/might happen in that bed, so narrow and two bodies pressed closely together. Together, arms around each other, occasionally singing – until they noticed a policeman looking at them closely. The fact that they quietened down seemed to reassure the copper that they weren't about to disturb the peace or even commit drunken and disorderly conduct.

"Where you off to, lads?"

"Home," said Greg.

"Go quietly then."

And quietly they went as indeed they entered Tom's house on tip toe, but needn't have bothered. Tom's mum was up. She didn't seem surprised to see Greg. "Not going home?" she asked. "Well, keep the noise down. I'm off to bed."

Tom made coffee and they drank it together before climbing the stairs and into Tom's room. He put on a track, but low and they drank their coffee, had a piss and prepared for bed. Although he'd seen Tom strip earlier, there was a difference this time and Greg felt almost embarrassed to watch so he turned away – to find Tom was reflected in the mirror. He watched him pull his T-shirt over his head, his arms stretched high over his head, the arm pits showing black hair. Tom kicked off his trainers and pulled off his socks then took off his trousers. He kept his briefs on and climbed into bed.

"Wot yer waiting for?"

Greg took off the green shirt and jeans, his own socks and shoes. There wasn't much room left in the bed but he sat on the edge, then swung his legs in and lay down flat on his back, half of which seemed to be hanging off the bed.

"You'll 'ave to lie on your side," said Tom. "Not too much room."

Greg turned away and felt Tom's body curl around him.

"G'night, mate." He felt Tom's breath on the back of his neck. "Screw Bog-roll."

"You can if you want," said Greg. "I'll take a rain check on that."

He felt Tom's finger poke him in the ribs. "You're always giving me the wrong end of the stick." The fingers fastened round his waist, tickled.

Greg jumped and turned over so that he was face to face with Tom. Also of course groin to groin. They touched. He held Tom's arms and Tom fought back, trying to get hold again. "You bugger," said Greg, striving not to get pushed out of bed.

They struggled together but Tom was the stronger. "I give up," said Greg. "You can have the pretty bird and I'll have Bog-roll."

"That's what you deserve," said Tom. "Jesus, I'm tired." He turned over so that his back was towards Greg's front. His back was pressed against him and Greg had to pull his groin back so that his cock, now hard, didn't dig into Tom's arse.

They both breathed deeply and then Greg heard Tom's breath even out. Tom was asleep. Greg didn't know what to do with his cock. In the end he gently pushed himself against the crack of Tom's arse and let it rest there. As long as Tom didn't move, he'd be OK.

Tom didn't and eventually Greg slept also.

Hours later, he was awakened by sudden movement from Tom. "Need a piss. Must go."

Greg was about to get up but Tom held him down. "Stay there," he said. "I'll climb over you." Greg lay on his back and felt Tom crawl over him. For a brief moment he felt Tom's cock, hard and heavy, move across him. Then he was gone.

Sleepily Greg rolled over to the warm place where Tom had slept. His head was on the pillow where Tom's head had been and Greg could smell him from the sheets and pillow. He cuddled down, almost imagined he was lying with Tom – and slept.

When he next awoke it was morning, the light shining strongly through the window and Tom was on the outside of the bed. Greg groaned. He had a bit of a headache.

"I must get off home," said Greg.

"We must do it again some time," said Tom over a cup of instant coffee.

Greg wasn't sure what he meant, the drinking or the sharing of the bed. He hoped the latter. Though it had been frustrating, he couldn't think of a place he'd rather be.

"See you on Monday," said Tom from the front door as Greg went towards the station. A little while later he turned to wave but Tom had gone in. Perhaps he'd left it too late.

* * * * * *

Greg thought about that night all over the weekend. Questions buzzed around his mind like elusive flies, impossible to catch. What did Tom think of him? Obviously he liked him, but was there more? Was the invitation to stay over anything more than just the action of a generous mate? Should he (Greg) have made a move when they were romping? Was Tom really hard when he'd climbed over him or was it just the need for a piss? What did 'We must do it again' mean? Was Tom gay? Could Tom be gay? If he was, why hadn't he made a move? There were plenty of opportunities. But then he (Greg) hadn't made one either.

Monday dawned bright and clear. Good – that meant they could have their lunch break together in the park.

But sunny weather didn't seem to have made Bog-roll any brighter or less bad tempered. He was on to Greg almost before he'd got through the door.

"Greg, come into my office, will you."

Bog-roll's office, if you could call it that, was a small, partitioned off section of the main room where everyone else worked. It was distinguished by a table, rather than a desk, a chair and of course a computer terminal which everyone else had. There wasn't much room for anything else but he had personalised it with a reproduction poster of the Japanese artist, Hokusai's 'The Wave' presumably to give him some educational value. Greg thought it sad.

"Greg, what are the company's aims?"

Greg knew this. "To deliver efficiently and quickly and safely the customers' goods," he said.

"And . . ."

That was a hard one. Greg hadn't known there was more.

"What do we aim NOT to do?"

"Oh yes. We aim to be as environmentally careful as possible."

"Which means?"

"Recycling everything we can." Greg couldn't understand what Bog-roll was getting at. Had he failed to put something in the right box, like a bottle in the cans' section?

"And what is your job at the end of the day?"

Shit. Greg suddenly realised what he had done – or rather what he hadn't done. He had been so anxious to get away with Tom on Friday night that he'd forgotten he was supposed to switch off all the IT equipment, lights etc. to save electricity. Did that mean everything had been left online all over the weekend. Big expenditure on electricity. Bad move!

Bog-roll fetched him a glare. Greg noticed that he'd shaved off that apology for a moustache. Perhaps he'd been clipping one side and had made a mistake so he'd taken the whole thing off. Without the excrescence he didn't look all that unattractive. If he hadn't worn his hair with that dead straight parting down the side and sleeked down with what could have been gel but was probably Brylcreem, he'd have been almost good-looking. The almost permanent frown though didn't help.

"I'm sorry, Mr Farnham. I must have forgotten." The typists though would have turned off their machines themselves so it must only have been the general lights and perhaps the photocopier that had been left on.

"Luckily," continued Bog-roll, "I noticed and switched them off. Otherwise Mr Botterill would have been very angry."

Mr Botterill was the Lord High Everything of the firm. Greg suddenly realised that Bog-roll was scared of Mr Botterill. Shit-scared. No doubt if anything went wrong in the department it was Bog-roll who got the telling-off. Bog-roll might wield a stick over Greg and the office but Botterill wielded a bigger one. If Greg or Tom or any of the typists got fired, they'd probably get another similar job fairly easily. For 'management', even on the fairly low scale where Bog-roll perched, being fired for incompetence and the resultant bad reference which would hang around his neck, meant something very different.

"I'm sorry, Mr Farnham," said Greg. It wouldn't hurt to do a little arse licking of his own. "I'll not let it happen again. I know how important economy is to the firm. And thanks for switching everything off."

Perhaps Bog-roll had expected some flip answer for he looked a little disconcerted and then smiled. Bog-roll actually smiled, if the raised corner at one side of his lips constituted a smile, and said, "We'll say no more about it then. I expect you have things to do."

Oh I do, thought Greg. There's Tom to see, and Tom to see, and then Tom to see.

He took a pack of the DND labels and went out to the delivery bay. Already the staff was busily packing goods into 'Kwik-Delivery' boxes with their distinctive flying package logo. If the instructions warranted it, Greg would have to slap a DND label on those that needed it. Three men and two women were hard at work but that was one too few. Tom wasn't there.

"Anyone seen Tom?" asked Greg to Alf, the elderly guy in charge. He was a pale cheroot of an individual with a flat cap and a fag end (often unlit) permanently stuck in the corner of his mouth.

"Not in today," he said. "Morning sickness, 'e said – the big girl. More like hangover from last night."

Greg wondered where Tom had been and for a moment felt jealous that he'd probably been out with someone else but of course there was nothing he could do about it.

The morning passed slowly. Instead of going to the park, Greg realised he could probably go to Tom's house and back in the allotted hour, so as soon as his lunch hour started he was off out, even though from behind him he heard a shout from Bog-roll.

The train came almost immediately and soon he was in Tom's road, running along the road and knocking on the door. There was quite a long pause before it was opened by Tom. He looked surprised to see Greg.

"I heard you were ill," said Greg.

Tom was wearing his usual, rather revealing, jeans and a T-shirt which showed off his body. He didn't look the least bit ill. On the other hand he did look a bit embarrassed at Greg's statement.

"You'd best come in," he said. "Don't want the neighbours talking."

Greg followed him into the kitchen feeling a bit disappointed that they hadn't gone up to Tom's bedroom.

"Alf said you'd got morning sickness. Thought you were pregnant."

Tom laughed. "No such luck."

"I wondered who the father was," said Greg, pushing the joke.

"Well, you had your chance on Friday night."

Was that a joke too, wondered Greg. "Didn't think you were gay."

"Oh I ain't," said Tom. "Just horny"

"P'raps another time," said Greg.

"No need. Met a girl last night. Smashing bit and up for anything. Actually she's still upstairs, waiting for the next course." He cradled his cock and balls in his hand and leered.

Greg felt as if he had been slapped in the face. "Oh," he said. "Oh, well, next time you're at a loose end . . . perhaps we can go out again."

"We won't be seein' so much of each other after this week. I've handed my notice in. My uncle Terry's offered me a job in his firm. Twice the money of Kwik fuckin' delivery – and prospects for promotion. I'm on my way up, Greggie-boy."

This was a double whammy – if not a triple one. Greg could feel a huge, gut-wrenching hole where his stomach usually was and tears starting into his eyes. He had to get out – quick. "Well, seeing you're OK. I'd best get back to work. Don't want to be late or Bog-roll 'll do his bits as usual."

"Tell him from me he's a brown-nosed prick," said Tom, leading the way through the hall and opening the front door.

It was only the urgency of getting back to work that stopped Greg from sitting down on the kerb and bawling his heart out. As it was he contained himself to a pitying sniffle on the tube and went and locked himself in the bog where he couldn't stop the tears running down his face. After a while though he realised he was only feeling sorry for himself and went out, rinsing his eyes and face.

But that was scarcely enough to remove the traces of his grief. Bog-roll was in the middle of telling him how inept Greg was when he stopped and peered at him closely. "Aren't you feeling well?" he asked, almost sympathetically.

Sympathy was the last thing Greg wanted at that moment or he'd burst into tears again. "I'm OK," he said.

"I may have been a bit down on you. Trouble is keeping the department going smoothly, everyone's got to get their fingers out and pull together."

It was an odd image and Greg thought of Tom's last remark, 'Tell him he's a brown-nosed prick'. But of course Bog-roll had troubles like the rest of them, and he didn't say anything.

"If you've got any problems, you can always come and talk to me."

This wasn't the Bog-roll of old, couldn't be. What had happened to him? Some fairy waved a magic wand over his head and turned him into a nice guy? Greg pulled himself together. "I'm OK," he said. "Got work to do."

That week went very slowly – or conversely much too fast. Tom was in on the Tuesday having decided he might as well work out his week's notice and get the pay. Greg didn't see much of him. It was wet and sandwiches in the park were out. Tom ate his in the delivery area and, though Greg could have joined him, the other men would have been around.

It was only Friday when the weather relented and the sun came out. Even so, Greg wouldn't have said anything but Tom smiled and said, "Let's go to the pub for lunch, as it's my last day."

It wouldn't do for Greg to go round smelling of booze but nothing was going to stop him going out with Tom, especially as it seemed he was the only person that Tom had invited.

The nearest pub was the Fish and Griddle but that was popular and would be full, so they walked to the next one down a side street which Greg had never been to. Traditionally it was called 'The Queen's Head' and a picture of some Royal personage hung on the board outside, not Victoria it seemed but some earlier monarch, Queen Anne – or perhaps just some generic queen. Neither of them knew.

It wasn't as crowded as most in the area at this time of day and, at first sight, it seemed the clientele was similar to everywhere else, business men in suits, young men in T-shirts and jeans or more fashionable baggy trousers. The decor was old-fashioned Victorian mahogany and nicotine-stained paint, with etched glass mirrors for light relief. The only concession to modernity was the strip lighting.

They got through to the bar where a young man with obviously bleached hair and eye makeup gave them, or rather Tom in particular, a long up and down look and then said, "Why, hallo!" in a blatantly camp way. "You're new here."

Greg thought that Tom would have been the sort of person who would come back with a witty riposte but, to his surprise, Tom seemed to crumble and it was Greg who had to say, "Two large ones, beer – and no unnecessary comments. We know what we've got."

The barman grinned and served them their pints.

When they'd found a place to sit, Tom said, "I hate that campy stuff."

For someone who'd made jokes about gay sex, Greg found this hard to believe. "It's only joking," he said. Then after a pause, "Do you really hate gays?"

"Not gays as such, but the flappy hands, screaming sort. I can't abide them."

Greg suddenly realised, looking round, that there were quite a few of them here. In fact it seemed that they'd wandered into a gay bar. He took a deep breath, swallowed a gulp of beer. "What would you say if I told you that I was gay?"

It almost seemed as if Tom hadn't heard. "You're a mate," he said.

"But if I was, and if I said I fancied you something rotten."

That did strike home. Tom focused. He looked at him with those grey eyes under their dark brows. "I ain't gay," he said.

"But you get horny."

"Everyone does that."

"And you'd have played around last Friday, if I'd have started something. Touched you. You know, grabbed hold of your cock."

Tom didn't seem to want to talk about it. "I'd probably have thumped you," he said. "Anyway I've got Anita now." It sounded as if that solved all his problems. Perhaps it did.

"I must be getting back," said Greg, catching sight of the clock behind the bar.

"I won't be going. I got paid this morning."

"So this is good-bye." For a moment Greg wondered whether he was going to turn this into a 'Brief Encounter' farewell scene but he knew how that would embarrass Tom. He held out his hand and they solemnly shook.

"I'll keep in touch," said Tom but Greg knew he wouldn't.

He went back to work on his own, buying a packet of strong mints on the way. He wasn't going to give Bog-roll any excuse for complaint.

It was a sad afternoon. Tom didn't come back and Greg went through the motions, luckily there were no jobs that needed more than cursory attention. As the office closed for the week, Greg considered what to do. Going home sounded bleak. He phoned his mother, saying he was going out and wouldn't be back for a meal.

"I'm glad you've made so many friends," she said, with unconscious irony. "Don't drink too much."

Getting drunk wasn't the answer; getting laid might be. Greg had tried cottaging with only indifferent success. Not that he didn't get responses but they were usually from people he didn't fancy in the slightest. He'd tried Clapham Common but was too scared once he got there and had almost run back to civilisation as soon as darkness fell. There was a club in the West End that he'd once been taken to by an acquaintance but he wasn't a member. He could, of course, go back to the Queen's Head. It had been gay at lunchtime but who knew how pubs in the City changed from midday to evening. Anyway he wasn't sure he wanted to go into a place where so much grief had occurred just a few hours before.

As he thought of this, he was actually passing the pub and, almost without thinking, or perhaps to contradict the gloomy thoughts he was having, he turned in. There were fewer customers but the same barman was serving.

"Hello, dear," he said. "Knew you wouldn't be able to keep away. It's my fatal blue eyes. Where's your friend?"

"You tell me," said Greg. "Claims he was straight."

"Never mind. There's plenty more poissons in the mer."

Greg nodded and ordered a half of lager. "If you like fish."

The barman looked round to see if anyone was watching, then said, "Have it on the house, dear."

Greg smiled his thanks and took a swallow. "What's the pub like later on?" he asked.

"Oh you don't want to hang around. Fills up with real wrinklies. Unless you're on the game, of course. Though you're not exactly dressed for hustling."

Greg felt himself blush. His bloody office suit. He took another gulp of beer and almost coughed it back up again. In the mirror that ran along the back of the bar he had seen a familiar figure come in. It was Bog-roll. "Jesus," he said, and tried to bury his head in the glass.

"What's the matter?" asked the barman.

"That guy who's just come in. He's my boss. He doesn't like me anyway, and if he suspects I'm gay, I'll never hear the last of it."

"You don't want to worry about that one. He's as camp as a cake-stand. Must say he looks better without that awful moustache. Often in here and picks up like a Dyson vacuum cleaner."

Bog-roll? Gay? So much for his own Gaydar. Wrong about Tom, wrong about Bog-roll. Was he perhaps wrong about himself? He didn't think so. But this was not solving his problem. Bog-roll might be gay, but Greg didn't want face him in this place. When Bog-roll was ordering his drink, he'd slip out and escape. Which is just what he tried to do. Unfortunately the same mirror, which ran the full length of the bar, betrayed him in the same way as it had showed him his boss.

As Greg crept surreptitiously past, trying to keep both an eye on Bog-roll's back and also, at the same time, keep his own face turned away, he saw, out of the corner of his eye, Bog-roll start and turn round. He couldn't ignore him and the two faced each other across the width of the room. The surprise and perhaps even dismay was evident on Bog-roll's face.

Greg went across. "Hello, Mr, Farnham," he said. "Just dropped in for a drink before going home."

"Same here."

"Get you two," said a camp voice from behind the bar. "You know you're both in here for the same reason and it's not for half a pint of this horse piss."

Greg and Bog-roll looked at each other in the mirror, not yet wanting to look straight in the face.

"Now," said the barman, seemingly now turned into a marriage broker, "take your drinks to that table for two over there and chat like the two gay men you are who are both looking for someone to cop off with."

When Greg was much younger, back in Junior School, he'd been faced with a not dissimilar situation. There's been a fellow pupil whom Greg hadn't particularly liked, nor, it seemed had many of the rest of the class. The boy, Steve, had been shunned, not exactly bullied but made to feel unwanted and consequently was left out of everything, stood alone in the playground, just standing against the wall as if that would provide protection. Greg's teacher had picked Greg, perhaps because she saw him as a friendly, fair boy and had asked him to talk to Steve. He hadn't wanted to, but had seen the sadness in Steve's attitude and knew that he ought to do something.

In fact, after approaching Steve, talking to him, he had found that he was a great guy, shy and difficult to know at first but in the end they had become firm friends and the relationship had only broken up when the two boys had gone to different secondary schools.

He felt much the same now, a reluctance to join Bog-roll in friendly conversation, together with a feeling of almost duty to do so. Almost before he knew it, he was sitting opposite him. One thing the barman had said was true, though. The removal of his moustache made a terrific difference, as did, Greg noticed, the fact that his hair wasn't greased down in that awful 1930's style. Obviously it had been gelled and he had run his fingers or a comb through it and now the brown hair was springy and had a slight curl. It might be interesting to touch.

There was a slightly embarrassing pause.

Then both broke it at the same time. "Greg . . ." said Bog-roll.

"Mr Farnham . . . " said Greg.

"Oh come on. Call me Lewis. At least out of the office."

Lewis! Well, he could manage that, thought Greg. Just so long as he didn't come out with 'Bog-roll'. There was another brief pause. Lewis looked as if he was making his mind up about something.

"Greg," he said, "I've got an apology to make to you."

Greg looked at him. Yes, there was something quite attractive about him, now that he wasn't being an absolute bastard. He had a nice smile and blue/grey eyes. Suddenly he realised he was staring and looked away.

"I've been a bit of a shit," said Lewis. "In the office. It's the first time I've been in charge and I was terrified I'd get it wrong so I came down hard on everyone – you especially. It's the wrong way. All it does it put people's backs up."

"I think I understand."

"Bottie said I was trying too hard, being too tough on the workers."


"Sorry. It's my name for Mr Botterill. Not something I want spread round the office of course."

For a moment it crossed Greg's mind that he'd tell Lewis what their nickname for him was, but then he decided that perhaps now wasn't a good time.

They had another drink, Lewis going up to the bar. "That barman is a bit much," he said on his return. "He asked how we were getting on and if we'd made plans for the night."

Greg laughed. "It's a bit sudden."

"Yes," said Lewis, though he looked at Greg hard over the rim of his glass.

They talked easily, Greg finding out that Lewis had a sense of humour, quirky but amusing. He wasn't sure what Lewis found out about him. They told each other about their schooldays, and Lewis about his University. Greg admitted that he'd settled for work immediately after leaving school. He didn't say anything about his plan to become a business millionaire though.

The time passed and Lewis looked at his watch. "I've got to get back or I'll miss my last train." He hesitated, then said. "I've got a small flat in Hampstead. I suppose you wouldn't like to have a look at it."

Lewis had his hand on the table and Greg put his on top. "I would, Lewis," he said. "But I think I'd like to become friends first, rather than just a one night stand."

Lewis nodded. He stood up, waiting for Greg.

"I think I'll just have another half," said Greg.

Lewis left and Greg went to the bar. "You let him go," said the barman. "I thought you were gasping for it."

"I was but it seemed too quick."

The barman nodded, understanding. "So what you going to do now?"

"I though I'd have a half and then go home."

The barman smiled and winked. "I'm off duty in half an hour. Gotta flat just round the corner." Well, if that wasn't a hint Greg didn't know what was. He wondered for a moment whether he actually fancied the man but it didn't matter.

"You want to stay on here?" asked the barman. "Care for a drink at my place?"

"OK," said Greg.

"My name's Nick," said the barman.

Nick's flat was indeed just round the corner, convenient for 'dragging back' from The Queen's Head.

From the street a flight of narrow stairs led up to what was in fact two rooms, a living room, a corner of which was divided off into a small kitchen area and, through an open door, the view of a bedroom. The furnishings in the flat looked cheap and had probably been provided by some miserly landlord, or landlady. Nick's only visual contribution seemed to be three posters of Spanish bullfighting on the wall. Outside of the pub Nick seemed to have lost the campiness which had so upset Tom.

"Do you want a drink?" he asked. He opened a cupboard and revealed a well-stocked supply presumably obtained cheaply, or even free from his various bar jobs.

"I'll just have a beer," said Greg. "I've got to get home."

"Well you don't have to - not if you don't want to," said Nick. He got him a can of Budweiser from the fridge and brought it over.

"I'll have to get back," said Greg, "later."

"OK," said Nick. He leaned towards him and kissed him on the lips.

Greg knew at that moment that he had made a mistake. He should never have accepted Nick's invitation. He was a nice person but didn't turn him on.

Nick pressed up against him and Greg could feel the hard thrust of his erection against his thigh. His own cock stayed resolutely limp. What was the matter with him? Surely he could at least get a hard-on. It had been long enough since he had had sex, even masturbated. The resources ought to be there. Think of someone else, someone he fancied. For a moment the image of Tom flashed into his mind, lying back on the grass, his long legs stretched out, the bulge in his jeans, and then when he climbed over him in the middle of the night and Greg felt his cock rub over his. His cock twitched.

Greg kissed him back and felt his own cock respond. It was going to be all right. He grabbed hold of Nick, putting his arms round him and feeling the firmness of his body through the thin cotton of his shirt. He hadn't let himself go flabby.

"Let's go into the bedroom," said Nick.

They went and and undressed like any married couple getting ready for bed. Greg noticed that Nick folded his trousers neatly before putting them on a chair in the same way as he did with his suit. Naked, the two of them lay on the bed, a single one with an old mattress so that they were forced together into the dip in the middle.

They lay together, flesh cleaved to flesh, Greg underneath, Nick on top.

"What do you want to do?" asked Nick, his question gently into Greg' right ear.

"I'm sorry. I don't do penetrative sex," said Greg. "Not even with a condom."

"That's OK," said Nick. He began to hump, his cock running along the groove in Greg' groin. The friction of pubic hair against his cock was arousing. A spring of liquid excitement lubricated and eased the frotting so that the groove became a slick-lined channel. Greg lay there, half hard, feeling a disillusion. wanting to co-operate yet driven by no sexual imperative. He compromised by reaching round and grasping Nick's buttocks, pulling him in time with his strokes. The man's breathing grew faster, became gasps and Greg knew that Nick would come soon. He faked excitement himself and as Nick's body arched in a rictus of orgasm and pulsed again and again, he pressed himself against the other, counterfeiting a moan of pleasure. There would be enough come to pass for two. Nick need never know.

They lay for a while, Greg patiently waiting for Nick to recover. Eventually he rolled off and sat up.

"Did you . . .?" he asked.


"I'll get a towel." He padded on bare feet across the grey-green vinyl flooring into one of those little enclosures that the developers of the flat seemed to have been so fond of. Greg heard him peeing - so there was a toilet there, probably a shower - and returned with a small hand towel.Greg dried himself and started to put his clothes back on.

He felt ashamed at his deception. at his lack of involvement.

"Are you sure you don't want to stay?" asked Nick. "We could do something more exciting next time."

"Gotta get back, I'm afraid. My parents will worry."

"OK, dear. I keep forgetting you're jailbait."

* * * * * *

Greg was slightly worried that Lewis' change of attitude would give rise to comment around the office. He didn't want to suddenly become 'Mr Farnham's blue-eyed boy' but he needn't have been concerned. Lewis managed it very well. He was still, of course, Mr Farnham in the office but quite often he and Greg met after work going sometimes to the Queen's Head, at others to another pub. They found pleasure in each other's company and though Lewis hadn't repeated his invitation for Greg to visit his Hampstead flat, they both knew that this would eventually happen. Twice they went to the movies, once to see a film of Greg's choice – American musical, the other Lewis's – a foreign film with sub-titles.

Greg wasn't sure that he was enjoying it. The pace seemed slow and though, two of the males were attractive. They seemed to be interested more in the girl than each other, though they were supposed to be great friends. There was one scene where the two young men stripped but again, they showed no interest in each other, and the only view the audience got was of somewhat fleshy buttocks.

During the course of the film, Greg felt Lewis's leg softly and warmly against his, then his hand upon his knee. Greg grasped the hand and moved it up his thigh. Lewis didn't need any further encouragement. He quickly found Greg's cock holding it and feeling the strength and hardness through the material. Greg was pleased but not exactly surprised that, unlike his experience with Nick, he had no trouble in getting hard. Was it because it was happening in a public place with the excitement and danger of being discovered? He hoped more likely that it was because he'd become emotionally involved - could it be more? - with Lewis.

The groping hand found his zip and slowly drew it down then went inside, holding Greg's cock through his underpants, finding the slit, entering, grasping his cock, flesh to flesh, the soft skin round the hard core. Slowly, gently, Lewis stroked with a touch so sensual that Greg found himself gasping with a desire to come, knowing he didn't want to here, in this public place.

He reached over and grabbed at Lewis' groin. His cock was equally erect and hard.

"I want you," Greg whispered, "but not here."

It was only just after seven and still light. Lewis and Greg walked through the emptying streets, down the High Street, turning left into Cadogan Square. Regency houses built with restrained simplicity and imitation classical Greek pediments, mouldings and pillars. Lewis's flat was at the top of one such, now divided so that the once-elegant rooms were chopped up into odd shapes. His was better than most. It had been the attics and though the ceilings sloped making headroom perilous, the dormer windows let in good light. They overlooked, at the front, the Square and, at the back, three floors down, a jungle of untended weeds that someone might optimistically call a garden.

The room immediately inside the door had a sofa and an easy chair, a pine table under the window, a CD player and a TV set with video. Book shelves held paperbacks and some cassettes. A cabinet with drawers against the wall had some bottles and glasses standing on top. A door in one corner led off to a tiny kitchen, another one was shut, presumably to the bedroom. There were rugs on the floor and some pictures, framed views of sea coasts, on the walls.

Lewis took off his jacket. Greg, unexpectedly uneasy, stood uncertain what to do next.

"Do you want a coffee?"

He didn't but the time taken in preparation would give him the opportunity to settle.

"Yes, please."

Lewis switched on the telly and went into the kitchen. "Sit down," he said through the doorway. "Make yourself comfortable."

Greg took off his suit jacket, considered the easy chair, then chose the sofa. The TV set picture showed the news. It wasn't particularly interesting and Greg picked up a paperback which was lying open, face down on the table behind. It was an American crime story by someone Greg had never heard of. There was a picture of a man in a broad-brimmed hat on the cover.

Lewis joined Greg on the sofa, just a handspan between them, putting the coffee on the table behind.
"Hungry?" Lewis asked.

"No thanks," said Greg thinking, almost saying, Come on. Let's get this thing started.

Lewis moved closer so that their thighs were touching and then leaned over and kissed him on the mouth, lips closed, for a moment the sort of kiss an aunt might give. Then, when Greg responded, he let the lips open and Lewis's tongue pressed against his own lips so that he opened up to the peaceful invasion.

Gently Lewis pulled up Greg's shirt and ran his hands over his chest and then down to his stomach. Greg lay back, happy to be caressed. Warm hands felt under the waist band of his trousers and then the elastic of his underpants, delving into the pubic hair. Greg wanted him to go further, to touch him, hold him. Lewis opened the stud and the zipper slid down revealing his white underpants swelling with the ridge of his erection. Lewis lowered his face to the bulge taking it sideways and nibbling it with his teeth, then licking it through the material.

Greg spread his legs wide, throwing his head back. Lewis pulled down the waistband so that the cock was revealed, the skin soft and sensitive covering the rigid core. He cupped the ballsack in his palm and took the shaft into his mouth sliding down over the head, the foreskin peeling back. Lewis's mouth was moist, warm, wildly irresistible.

Greg's eyes were closed but his hands were fumbling at Lewis's shirt, then lower at his belt and zipper. The clothes were getting in the way. "Let's take them off," he said, trying to get up but Lewis pushed him back.

"Lie back," he said. "Let me do it."

He took off Greg's shirt pulling it over his head, Greg lifting his arms, revealing the fair hair in his armpits. Then, kneeling at his feet, Lewis undid his shoes, taking them off and then his socks, his tongue cat-licking the soles and between the toes so that Greg twisted and turned with the sensation which was both almost unbearable and yet at the same time too exciting to deny. At long last Lewis stripped off his trousers and underpants, leaving him naked, vulnerable.

Then Lewis stood up and took off his own clothes. Greg, lying on the sofa, saw himself reflected in the TV screen, hands behind his head, legs bent, knees up and open, cock standing up over his stomach. For a moment he felt a qualm of unease but then Lewis's naked body was on top of him and the feel of skin against skin, cocks together, hard flesh against hard flesh was like an electric charge, driving out every other feeling. His heart pounded. He pushed his body upwards holding Lewis and pulling him down on top of him. They held each other, their tongues and hands exploring each others' bodies.

Lewis, on top, slowly inched down Greg's body, kissing and licking. He paused and sucked at the nipples, then went down and put his tongue in Greg's navel. Greg giggled and wriggled so Lewis went even lower to the fuzz of pubic hair around that sprouting cock.

"Turn round," said Greg's voice, high with arousal, "so I can do the same to you." Soon both their faces were buried in each other's groins. Greg could smell Lewis's maleness. He ran his tongue up and down the erect shaft, taking his cue from Lewis's actions, and then licked the firm balls, taking each one into his mouth and gently mouthing them one at a time. Then he moved back and enclosed the prick as far as he could into his mouth. He could feel his own erection being taken into Lewis's warm mouth, the tongue caressing it.

Lewis put his tight arm over Greg's legs and under him, gently exploring his arse, finding the, crack, the puckered hole and finally inserting his finger. Greg gasped. Lewis pushed harder, inside, finding a centre of Greg's being that he hadn't realised before.

Greg gasped, "I'm coming," and then clamped his mouth down again. At the same time there was a warm, salty spurt into Greg's mouth but all he felt was his whole being centred in his own groin as a source of pleasure, exploding and pulsing again and again. He knew ecstasy and, unable to stop himself, let out a high-pitched cry.

Afterwards they had to heat up the coffee in the microwave. Then Lewis offered him some cheese on toast. Greg tried to help but the kitchen was too small and they got in each other's way. They laughed, enjoying the touch of each other and Lewis told him to go back to find some knives and forks from the cabinet drawer.

Greg opened the top one but could not see any cutlery. There was a piece of folded check material; it could have been a tablecloth and some mats.

"Where are the knives and forks?" he asked.

"Second drawer down," said Lewis from the kitchen.

"Can I ring my parents?" he asked. "They'll be expecting me home."

"Sure," said Lewis. "Tell them you're staying overnight with a friend - that is, if you want to. Otherwise I can drive you home – but I'd rather you stayed."

They had a bottle of wine with the food. The toast was crisp and warm and the cheese topping savoury and rich, with a spicy sauce.

"That was my first time," said Greg after he had drunk a couple of glasses. "First time doing that at any rate."

Lewis looked at him as if he doubted whether he was telling the truth.

"I've been wanked off in the Park," he said, "but never . . . " he made a gesture which included the sofa, the flat, Lewis, everything they had done.

"How old are you, Greg?"


"At least you're legal," said Lewis.

"I'll be eighteen in February." Greg paused. "I'd hoped you'd enjoyed it." He looked for a moment as if he was about to cry, like a young trusting animal who had been offered food and then kicked away.

Lewis put his arms round him and kissed him gently, stroking his hair. "You think I didn't."

They went to bed early.

* * * * * *

The desire in Greg's loins drove out all other thoughts. He wanted the pressure of the other body on his closer, closer, inside him. He raised his legs, opening himself to the Lewis' probing fingers, along the path which leads from the base of the ballsack to the hole. And all the time their tongues twining together. One finger in. He could feel it exploring the soft interior, finding something, some part of him that had never been touched before but which sent waves of pleasure through his whole body. He tried to cry out but the mouth on top of him stopped the sound and he did not want to lose it.

But he had to. "I want you in me," he said. He remembered what he had told Nick but this was different.

"Are you sure?" asked Lewis.

Waves of pleasure.

"Yes. Yes."

He sighed as the finger was withdrawn, the warmth of the body removed.

"What are you doing?" he asked.


"Don't bother with one."

Lewis didn't answer but reached behind to a drawer in the table for the little safety package.

Greg felt his legs lifted, resting on Lewis' shoulders, the coldness of a lubricant inserted on a finger, another finger entered and both moving, enlarging the hole. He opened his legs and then raised his knees so that the access could be easier and the fingers probed deeper then withdrawn. Now Lewis's cock, suitably protected, had found the cleft and Greg raised himself up even further, Lewis's body between his legs, his cock piercing the sphincter, sliding slickly in, lubricated. He had thought there would be pain but it was no more than a little discomfort, followed by the unfamiliar feeling of being filled by something alien, something other. But knowing it was Lewis made it right. There was a regular motion and each time Greg wanted him in further.

Greg pushed against him and felt Lewis's tense body straining, the passion building up and then the orgasm pulse and pulse inside him. He arched himself upwards, lungs bursting, body rigid, his cock spurting without being touched, at last pulling his mouth away to gasp the moans of satisfied desire. Lewis shuddered and collapsed onto him murmuring his name again and again. He held him tightly as he finished, their bodies pressed together.

At last "Lewis," he said, "I've never . . . "

"I know," said Lewis. "Done that before!"


Date started: Saturday, August 5, 2006
Date finished: Saturday, September 2, 2006
Words: 10,715

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