You're now into the third quarter of the story. I have finished the final chapters, so should be posting them in another couple of days, after editing. No sex in these chapters, I'm afraid. You'll have to wait until the last ones.
For those of you who like hunting for the facts in their fiction, forget it. This is entirely a work of fiction and all the characters are figments of my imagination.
Otherwise, normal disclaimers apply. If sex between consenting male adults is not your thing, or you are a minor under the law of whatever state or country you live in, then I suggest you read no further.
By Redbear, August 2002 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Re-entering the house, Jonathan tidied up a bit and washed the breakfast dishes, before sitting down in front of his PC.
Amongst his other e-mails he found one from each of Dave and Mark.
"Subject: Re: Hot night!
"Wrom: ZC href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org
"Don't mention it. I had a great evening and I'm glad I made you happy on your birthday.
"As for drinks, my diary is free at present for Wednesday evening. How about we get together around 8:00? Give me a call on my mobile beforehand to check that I'm still free and to fix where we should meet.
Jonathan dashed off a quick response in the affirmative, then came to Mark's note.
"Subject: Mountain bikes
"Wrom: MH href="mailto:email@example.com">firstname.lastname@example.org
"Next weekend will be fine. I was planning on sticking around this area then, in any case. How about meeting up in the car park of The Queen Adelaide at Blagdon (it's on the main road) at 1:00 on Saturday? We could cycle along the road to Burrington to warm up, then there are a number of trails above the combe that we could ride on. Nothing too strenuous, then back down to Blagdon for a pint. You'll recognise me without any difficulty. I'll be in a clapped out, old red Escort estate, with a cycle rack on the back. Not cool, I know, but it's fine for carting my gear around.
"I look forward to hearing from you.
"Subject: Re: Mountain bikes
"Sounds fine by me. I just hope I'm up to it! From reading your earlier e-mails, it sounds like you have a serious edge on me.
"See you Saturday.
He turned off his PC and sat back. Mark seemed like a nice guy. If nothing else, it sounded as if he would be good companion for biking and maybe even skiing. Dave could turn into a good friend, too. It was a good sign that he was prepared to come out for drinks with Jonathan, especially so soon after their "night of passion". Jonathan was under no illusions that there would be a repeat session, but he enjoyed Dave's company.
He wondered what would happen with Phil. He did not envy the guy; Phil had a lot to come to terms with and some difficult decisions to make. He knew that Phil had been with Jenny for a few years; could he be honest with her, and would she accept him if he was?
But enough of wondering, there was work to do. It had been a long while since Jonathan had studied maths and he knew that he had an uphill struggle ahead of him if he was going to be able to keep up with the fresh young graduates who would be on the course with him. He spent the next few days alternating his time between revising his maths, cycling and going to the gym. When it was sunny, he took his books along to the green by the suspension bridge. The traffic was a bit noisy, but it was nice just to enjoy the sun and he was soon able to ignore the noise.
On returning home on Tuesday evening, Jonathan found a message from Phil on his answering machine.
"Hi, Jonno, it's Phil. I guess you are out relaxing somewhere while the rest of us have to sweat it out at work. I was just calling to thank you again for what you did the other night and to ask if you fancied going out for a drink or something to eat on Friday. Give me a call at work or at home – I think you've got my number – and we'll sort something out. Speak to you later. Bye."
Jonathan looked at his watch. Just coming up to 6:00. Knowing Phil, he would still be at work.
He dialled Phil's direct line.
"Good afternoon, Phil Johnstone."
"Hello, Mr Johnstone, we have some excellent investment opportunities which I thought you might be interested in," said Jonathan, faking an American accent.
"Sorry, I think you've got the wrong man, I don't have enough money for investments."
"I'm sure you do. People only get onto our database if they have already dealt in stocks and shares. What we're offering is a superb opportunity to grow your equity rapidly in a low-risk environment."
"Look, I'm telling you, I have not invested in shares, I have no spare cash, and I'm not interested in any cock-eyed deals you might be trying to sell."
"How about some cock-sucking, then?" responded Jonathan, returning to his normal voice.
"You bastard," cried Phil. "Did you get calls like that as well, then?"
"Yeah, once every couple of weeks or so, always from the US. I used to get really pissed off with them. Compared to me, you stayed quite cool. I would have hung up before then."
"So, are you up for drinks on Friday?"
"Sure. After work?"
"Yeah. How about the Hobgoblin at 6:30? The beer's cheap, there, get you back into practice for being an impoverished student.
"Great, I'll look forward to it. But how are you?"
"I'm fine," said Phil. "We'll talk about it on Friday."
"Right, see you then. Bye."
Jonathan hung up, feeling strangely warm and happy. Shit, he wasn't falling for Phil, was he? He thought about it then decided it was just the hormones from the sex he'd been getting after such a long abstinence. Phil ought to get back with Jenny and, even if he didn't, his description of the guy at the pool convinced Jonathan that he was not what Phil would be looking for in a long-term, male-male relationship.
The following evening, Jonathan gave Dave a call.
"Hi, Dave, still up for drinks?"
"Sure. I'm in town at the moment, do you fancy coming down? We could meet at the Shilling," suggested Dave, naming one of Bristol's gay pubs.
"Uh, a bit young for me, don't you think?"
Dave laughed. "All right, you old fogie, how about the Pineapple? At least it will be quiet. 8:00 still good?"
"Fine. See you then."
Jonathan had a quick shower then dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. It was a pleasant evening, so he decided to walk down to the pub, about a half mile away. He was relieved, when he arrived, to find Dave was already there and waiting for him.
Dave stood up and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Hi, it's good to see you."
"I'm glad you were already here. I'm not that comfortable on the scene, I don't know why. I wouldn't have fancied sitting on my own waiting for you."
"Just relax, will you? What would you like to drink?"
"Just a pint of bitter, please."
Jonathan looked around him. As Dave had said, the pub was not particularly busy. A few groups of people were sat around at different tables, for the most part acting no differently from men in any pub anywhere else in the country. He tried to analyse his discomfort.
Dave sat down opposite and placed a beer in front of him. "A penny for your thoughts?"
"I'm just wondering why I'm still so uptight about having a drink in a gay pub. I like to think I don't have a problem with my sexuality, but I obviously have."
"So what do you think it is that bothers you?" asked Dave. He leant back in his seat and watched Jonathan.
This was difficult, thought Jonathan. He sat pondering for a while, drinking his beer.
"I guess there are several things. I still feel uncomfortable just coming into a gay pub, like I should be wearing a hat and a coat with the collar turned up, so that nobody can recognise me. Then, when I am in, I don't know how to handle myself. Unless I know someone inside, like you, I can't just go up and introduce myself to others like I can in a straight pub. I just feel as though the act of trying to speak to someone else in a gay pub is, in itself, a come-on. And I don't have very high self-esteem when it comes to my looks, so I don't want to be seen as trying to flirt. I would really just like to be able to meet other blokes normally, get to know them a bit, what makes them tick, without feeling that we are actually sizing each other up sexually. And finally, I have to say I'm not too comfortable with the more camp activities. Effeminacy is a real turn-off for me. But the real problem is me, not being comfortable in my skin as the French say."
"Christ, you are mixed up," smiled Dave. "You've been in a `straight' jacket for too long, if you'll pardon the pun. Most people aren't here on the make. Sure, they'll have their eyes open for any potential, and won't hesitate to put the make on if they think there will be a chance. But in general, they're just here for a pint in an atmosphere where they can relax and let their hair down without people whispering about them or calling them poofs. So you can meet new people here, make friends just as you would in a straight pub.
"Don't get hung up on sex. Some people have sex on the brain 24 hours a day, but most people don't. They just want to behave in the way that comes natural to them, be able to talk freely, in a friendly atmosphere.
"And for Christ's sake, stop worrying about your looks. You're not bad looking. Loads of blokes, once they get to know you, would like to be with you. Of course, you're not going to be getting off with the crowd that is always looking for someone younger and more beautiful than themselves, but that leaves a hell of a lot of others around.
"As for effeminacy, that's just another aspect of your dirty mackintosh approach to the gay scene. You are scared of anything that might draw attention to your own sexuality. If you don't want people to know about you, stay locked up in your closet. But if you want to come out more, then you'll have to relax and go with the flow. You'll find all sorts in gaydom, just as elsewhere. Some you'll like, some you won't, but my rules are, each to his own and live and let live. Try it – you might like it!"
Dave had grown quite heated during this, leaning forward across the table. As he sat back again, he smiled at Jonathan to show that it wasn't personal.
Jonathan grinned weakly. "You're absolutely right," he said. "I know it's in my head. I've just got to relax more. I'll get there."
"I'm sure you will," said Dave. "A lot of my clients are like you. That's why they come to me. A surprising number are married. I tend not to have this kind of discussion with them, though. Their lives aren't my business. But you're a mate – and talking of which, mine's a pint!"
Jonathan went up to the bar and returned with refills for each of them. "Here you go," he said, as he passed Dave his pint. "Do you mind telling me how you got into the escort business?"
"No problem," replied Dave. "It was by default, really.
"I was 17 and hadn't yet come out and still hadn't had sex with another bloke. I'd left school at 16 and was working as a trainee manager with Tesco. One evening, I plucked up the courage to go into a gay pub, the Elephant it was. I sat at the bar on my own for most of the evening, a typical wallflower. Then this middle-aged bloke came and sat beside me and offered me a drink. We chatted for a bit, then he asked me if we could go somewhere. I was a bit flustered – remember, I was still a virgin, not to mention underage – and he must have misunderstood, because the next thing he said was that he would pay.
"'OK,' I said, `Fifty quid for an hour, oral only.' God knows where I got the nerve from to say that. It surprised the hell out of me. But the bloke seemed to think it was normal, because he agreed. Because he was married, we couldn't go to his place. I had to take him back to the poxy little bed-sit I was staying in at the time. We undressed and he started straight in, sucking me off. After a few minutes, he asked if I would fuck him. I said, OK, but it would cost another fifty. He didn't bat an eyelid, coughed up, and the rest, as they say, is history.
"I stayed working for a while, but put an ad in a couple of rags. I soon had a reasonable number of clients of my own, which is when I decided to give up work and joined an escort agency. They let me keep my own client list and fed me new ones, on which they took a commission. Strictly, the escort job is to accompany the guy to dinner, or something. Anything on top is my own shout."
Jonathan was enthralled. "Do you enjoy it? How do you get it up each time, particularly if the client is ugly or has bad breath? I mean, it's not like a female prostitute, who can fake her orgasm, is it?"
"It's great. I actually like all my clients. Anybody I don't like, I drop. Sometimes I have to fantasise a bit to help get hard, but mostly it just comes naturally. The hardest bit is not having someone I can call my own, but that's just not possible. Whilst I still have my youth and my looks I want to continue doing this. It pays a hell of a lot better than most jobs, I can tell you, and it's fun. And if I was in a relationship, the other guy would inevitably end up getting jealous. It wouldn't work."
"What about HIV?"
"It's a risk. I practise safe sex always. I never let a client fuck me and I always wear a heavy duty condom if I fuck them. I get tested every three months - although I know it is not going to protect me, at least I know where I stand.
"It would have been harder if I had to worry about what my family thought. However, I lost my Mum when I was a kid and, when I came out to my Dad, not long after that first trick, he threw a wobbler and totally disowned me. So I don't have to go through the hassle of inventing a job for the family to hide what I really do. In fact, if my Dad hadn't chucked me out I doubt I'd be escorting, so I guess I have something to thank him for."
Dave looked a bit wistful, so Jonathan reached over and took his hand.
"I'm OK, mate, but let's change the subject, shall we?"
The rest of the evening passed in lighter banter. Jonathan talked about some of his experiences in France and Dave was particularly censorious with regard to Marc. "Christ," he said, "the guy's more uptight than even you are!"
At about 11:00, Dave stood up. "Right," he said, "time for bed. I've got a heavy schedule tomorrow, and it doesn't do fall asleep on the job. Not to mention turning up with bags under your eyes. Thanks for the drinks and remember, loosen up."
"I will," smiled Jonathan.
They kissed at the door to the pub, then set off in their opposite directions.
The Hobgoblin was quite a long walk from Jonathan's house, so he set of early on Friday evening for his meeting with Phil. The sky was leaden and the weather felt very close. He wouldn't be surprised if there was a thunderstorm later.
He arrived at the pub shortly after 6:30 and was not surprised to find that Phil had not yet arrived. Like himself, Phil tended to work long hours and lose track of time in the evening. He ordered himself a pint of bitter and settled down on a sofa in a corner to wait. Because it was still the summer holidays, the pub was relatively quiet. That would soon change when the universities started back and the place would be overflowing with students.
He was shaken out of his reverie by the thud of Phil landing on the sofa next to him.
"How's it going, Jonboy?"
"Hi, Phil, I'm great, how about you? Pint of bitter?"
"Yeah, fine thanks – and the same goes for the beer."
Jonathan dragged himself up to the bar and came back with a pint for Phil.
"Anything new at work?"
"No, still losing money. The market is crap. The big supermarkets keep screwing the prices down to crazy levels and there are still idiots out there prepared to work for those prices. They can't be making money from them, just trying to fill capacity. It's going to be a race to see who goes out of business first, a sort of winner takes all scenario.
"But enough of that. It's Friday. I've got the weekend ahead of me, and you're at the start of the rest of your life. Who've you been screwing lately?"
"Fuck off," said Jonathan, blushing. "I told you, I don't sleep around. You were the last person I slept with and I wouldn't even have done that if you weren't so persistent."
"Oh, right, so you only did it because you felt sorry for me. And there I was thinking that maybe you fancied me a little."
"You're an evil shit, Phil," Jonathan smiled. "And yes, I do fancy you a bit. But that's as far as it goes."
"Aw, shame. Because I fancy you quite a lot."
"Piss off, Phil, you don't know what you fancy. Have you spoken to Jenny, yet?"
The laughter left Phil's face. "Yes, I have."
"She thanked me for my honesty, said she wished I had told her earlier, and said she was going to have to think about it. She didn't feel she could trust me, and she wasn't sure where it left her if I had feelings for blokes as well. I think I've lost her, Jonathan, and the worst bit is that I'm not actually sure I want her back."
"That's the first thing you need to be sure about. I'm certain you can win her back eventually, but it will never work if you're not one hundred percent sure yourself that that is what you want. You'll only be able to convince her if you're sincere.
"What do you want?"
"That's the bugger of it," replied Phil. "I don't really know. I love Jenny, but at the moment I want you."
"Piss off," laughed Jonathan, then, seeing Phil's face, he realised that the other was not joking. "You're serious, aren't you?"
"'Fraid so," said Phil.
"Oh, shit", said Jonathan. "Look, Phil, I really do like you but I don't want to get into a messy situation with you. You're too good a friend for that. You're going through a difficult time. You don't really know who or what you want. You love Jenny; you fancy the pants off a guy at the pool; you screw with me and think you fancy me. Who or what next? And I'm not in a much better state, myself.
"Listen, I'm hungry, let's go down the road to Casa Sudaca for a bite to eat."
They tipped the last of their beers down their throats and left the pub in silence.
"Where are you parked?" asked Jonathan.
"On Zetland Road, just outside the restaurant. I thought that's where we would probably end up. There or Casa Mexicana, next door."
They were greeted by a friendly, touchy-feely South American waiter, who led them to a small table at the back of the room. Phil stayed quietly thoughtful as they ordered, then started to eat.
"Come on, penny for them, Phil, or I might just as well be eating on my own."
"I don't know, Jonathan. That night with you was really special. I always liked and respected you at work. Sleeping with you added a new element that took my feelings for you to another level. I understand what you are saying, that it was my first time with another man and so I'm always going to see it in a special light. And I understand also that I don't know if I'm going to be drawn to other men in the same way, or if I'm going to want to get back with Jenny or with another woman. But I do know that, unless I try, I'm not going to find out."
"Phil, I said I liked you, and I meant it. The other morning, when we were standing together at the sink, cleaning our teeth, it felt so right. But I'm not sure I'm quite ready for a relationship and I'd certainly want to spend more time getting to know you socially before wanting to get into a relationship with you. And, as I said before, you still need more time to get your own feelings in order.
"Let's face it, at the moment you're horny as hell, and little head is definitely leading big head. You think you want a relationship with me, but what you really want is into my pants. And I can't deny that that would please me. But each time I have sex with you, I'm going to feel closer to you, lining myself up to take a fall when you finally decide what you are into."
"So what do you think I should do," asked Phil.
"Honestly? Play around. Pick up a girl here, a bloke there, try the gay scene. We'll keep seeing each other and, if you still want to hitch up with me later, I'll probably still be here. Just be sure to practice safe sex!" he admonished with a grin.
After paying the bill, they left the restaurant to find that the expected thunderstorm had arrived in full force.
"Can I give you a lift back?" asked Phil.
"That would be great!"
They ran to Phil's car, getting drenched in the process.
When they drew up outside Jonathan's house, Phil leant over and gave Jonathan a long, slow kiss. "Thanks for all your advice. I'm so horny, I'm going to have to go home for a wank, seeing as how you're not prepared to give in to me, but you're probably right."
On impulse, Jonathan asked, "Have you got a piece of paper?"
Phil rummaged in the glove compartment and pulled out a few scraps of paper and a pencil.
Jonathan scribbled down a name and number and passed the paper back to Phil. "Here, this is a mate of mine. Give him a call. You'll have to pay, but he's young and very good looking. It'll give you a taste of what else might be out there if you can't find anyone else. Tell him I sent you – and don't worry, I don't get a commission!"
Looking at the paper, Phil saw the name, "Dave", and a mobile phone number. "Christ, are you setting me up with a prostitute?"
"Don't knock it," came back Jonathan. "This is the guy who gave me a full night for my birthday, never having met me before. He's a really nice guy, sorted, knows what he wants. And he's clean. No STDs. But if it bothers you, leave it. I just thought he could help you. He certainly helped me to see more clearly."
"Ookaaay", said Phil, sounding doubtful.
Jonathan leant over and gave him another, shorter kiss. "I'm going in. I shan't ask you up, because I don't want you winning me over again. Not yet, anyway. Look after yourself, get out on the town this weekend, and give me a call next week to tell me how it went."
He dashed through the rain up to his door. He turned and waved at Phil, before going in and locking the door behind him.
Next posting will be the last. Please keep telling me what you think.