By Mark Peters
is a fictional story which contains scenes depicting sexual acts between
males of different ages.
all those who are reading this story on Nifty I encourage you to visit
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~ Chapter Twenty ~
you sure you're okay, Rick?' Beth asked. `You look
like you've seen a . . .'
didn't finish the sentence. And I was glad.
fine, Beth. Thank you. I've been having pretty much
the same nightmare on and off for years now, only
tonight it was just a little bit worse than usual.'
she gently asked, to which I nodded in reply.
guess being here, in this room, hasn't helped . . .
but I had to come back here eventually, didn't I?' I
I thought something had hold of you by the way you
screamed,' Jimmy said. `That must have been some
nightmare! I don't think I've ever heard anything
sorry that I woke all of you,' I said quietly.
`I'll be fine now. You should go back to bed and get
some sleep. It'll be morning before you know it.'
at the four concerned faces all staring down at me I saw
the boys nod, before then quietly slipping away and
retreating to their bedroom.
happened in your dream?' Tom enquired.
I tell them, I wondered? Should I describe to them the
scene in which their son is raped and murdered? Surely
it was only a figment of my imagination anyhow, and had
nothing to do with how the real murder scene played out?
Or did it?
tomorrow,' I said to them. `I'm sure that whatever
happens in my dreams has nothing to do with reality.
More than likely it's just a product of my overactive
suddenly looked sad, almost as if she had been hoping
for something more from me. Something that she could
clutch onto, and which would give her some sort of
has had nightmares too,' Tom said. Suddenly, I
do you see?' I asked her, while patting a spot on the
bed next to me, inviting her to sit, which she accepted.
you remember that day . . . when we went back to the
school and went to your old classrooms looking for
him?' she asked.
of course. How could I forget?'
that teacher we spoke to?'
Corcoran? The art teacher?'
don't remember his name. I do remember I thought he
was kind of . . . odd, though.'
just how he was all the time,' I replied, quickly
recalling my own dealings with the man. `He was a bit
of a strange one, and one of those touchy-feely kind of
guys, although I know that Martin seemed to have liked
dreamed it was him. I know it's crazy . . . I don't
even know the man.'
not crazy at all. The counselors I saw all reckon that
the last person you see in a situation like this will
often be the first person you try to associate with
whatever it was that happened. A grieving person often
needs to lay the blame somewhere.'
what about you?' Tom asked. `Who do you see in your
until tonight there's never been a face,' I replied.
`They've always been these shadowy, faceless
figures, and always leaving me in the dark. I'm often
chasing after them as the culprit would drag Martin away
. . .'
tonight?' Beth asked.
hesitated for a moment, as I pondered telling them that
it was Martin himself who was there showing me the way
was different,' I eventually said. `Tonight I saw
everything . . . and
the face of the man who did it and I just couldn't do
anything to save him. That's what woke me up screaming
. . .' I sniffed.
was it anyone you recognised?' asked Tom.
of,' I answered. `It was the guy from this week . .
. the guy who I thought might be stalking me. But I'm
still no closer to knowing who he is.'
he look anything like that art teacher?' Beth asked,
Mama, he doesn't. I wish it could be that easy, but
this guy is clean shaven, thin, even a little athletic.
Everything that Mr Corcoran wasn't.'
it's any consolation . . . well, it was for me at
least, but I don't think he went with the guy
willingly,' I offered.
think we'd all like to believe that was the case,'
yes. He loved you, Rick,' Beth added, `and I'm
sure he wouldn't have ever done anything like that
which might have hurt you.'
certain of that now too, Beth. But sometimes doubts can
eat away at a person, however, and even if they're
unfounded the damage can be done. I have to admit that
for a long while I had those doubts in my mind, so if
nothing else, tonight has put my mind at ease . . . at
least until something else comes along to prove
gave me a tired smile, before then kissing me on the
think you need to go back to bed,' she ordered, as she
stood up. `Like you said, morning will be here soon
think that's a great idea,' I replied.
she and Tom had left, quietly closing the door behind
them, I rolled over to turn out the bedside lamp, which
I must have turned on after waking, even if I couldn't
remember doing so. As I did I noticed the school
yearbook sitting open on the bedside table. Picking it
up I looked at the page it was open on and immediately
spotted the smiling face of Martin, amongst a group of
looked to be a photo of the year twelve art class, and
also amongst the group of about a dozen people, all
gathered around a sculpture that was sitting on a desk,
was Joshua Bell and Mr Corcoran.
of them appeared to be looking not at the camera, but at
a frown I flipped the book shut and sat it back on the
table, then switched off the lamp.
that just a coincidence, I wondered?
didn't come easily for the remainder of that night, as
I tossed and turned thinking about what I had seen in
people often say, some things that have been seen cannot
ever be unseen, and after watching something like that,
and listening to the sound of a knife tearing into the
flesh of someone you love, even in the guise of a dream,
well, let's just say those images and sounds get
burned into your memory like nothing else ever could.
some stage I must have finally managed to doze off,
however, as when I finally awoke sunlight was streaming
in through the front window and traffic was quite
happily buzzing along the road outside.
sitting up and swinging my legs over the side of the
bed, then placing my feet on the floor, I rubbed my eyes
and scratched my head, while trying to recall the events
of the night beforehand. They came to mind all too
readily, leaving me with fresh feelings of anger and
guilt and sadness. What had been taken from me, and from
Beth and Tom also, was irreplaceable and there was
nothing that could ever take away the hurt which had
been caused. Even the finding of the culprit and his
arrest would do little to quell the heartache he had
caused, but it would be something, at least.
quick check of my watch told me that it was already
after eight o'clock and I found myself being grateful
that no one had disturbed me so far. Today was Friday,
and the end of one hell of a week for me, although I
knew it still wasn't over just yet.
to my feet I picked up the towel that Beth had left for
me, then retrieved a clean pair of shorts, a t-shirt and
some underwear from my carry-all, along with my
toiletries bag. When I opened the bedroom door and
walked out into the hallway I could hear voices coming
from the direction of the kitchen, but I decided that a
shower and change of clothes first would be the best way
to start the day.
noticed that the door to the guest room was also open,
however the boys were nowhere to be seen. I figured that
they would have been in the kitchen with Beth and Tom,
so I slipped into the bathroom before I could be spotted
and closed the door, before then stripping out of the
underwear I had been sleeping in and stepping into the
warm water rushed over me, washing away the worries of a
restless night, I felt myself slowly returning to
normal, but I knew that it wouldn't be until I'd
managed a cup of coffee or two that I would truly be
ready for the day.
I finally made it to the kitchen about fifteen minutes
later I found Beth there alone, drying dishes and
packing them into the cupboard.
morning, Rick,' she said when she spotted me walk
through the door. `I hope you ended up getting at
least some sleep last night?'
morning, Mama. I think I managed a few hours,
eventually. I'm sorry I woke you all.'
nothing of it,' she replied. `Now, I heard the
shower running, so there are some eggs, just the way you
like them, and some toast in the oven for you, being
kept warm. And the jug has just boiled, so I'll make
you a coffee.'
you. But you keep doing what you're doing, I can get
myself some coffee. Where are Tom and the boys?'
said he was going to give them a tour of the back yard .
. . and his shed. I saw them get some fishing rods from
the shed, but after that the last I saw of them they
were heading out the back gate and had set off in the
direction of the boat ramp. That wasn't long ago,
. . . well, at least it will keep them all occupied for
a while,' I replied, as I retrieved a mug from the
cupboard, before adding some instant coffee, sugar and
hot water to it.
I looked out the back window I could see that both the
door to Tom's shed and the gate at the bottom of the
yard were indeed open, and when I shifted my gaze along
the line of fences which marked the boundaries of all
the back yards of houses in this row, I spotted three
heads bobbing along, heading in the direction of the
boat ramp, fishing rods slung over their shoulders.
the row of houses that stood on Nelson Bay Road, there
was a strip of land about eighty metres wide which led
down a slope to the edge of the Hunter River. The houses
were safe and out of reach of the water on those rare
occasions when the river flooded, but it was the
mangroves which lined the river bank which usually bore
the brunt of nature's fury.
remember many a game of neighbourhood cricket being
played on that strip of land when we were kids, even if
we were often interrupted by one of the neighbours
driving through the middle of the game with their car
while towing a boat on a trailer. They would either be
heading to, or coming from, the boat ramp, which was
located at the southern end of the strip, directly
behind the second house in the row.
think that Tom is going to enjoy having those boys
around,' Beth said, after noticing the direction where
I was staring. `I'm sure that he misses all that boy
stuff that he used to get up to with Martin and you.
It'll do him the world of good having something to do
again,' she added, sounding somewhat wistful.
what about you?' I asked. `What will you do?'
the usual, I suppose. Of course there'll be extra
cooking and cleaning and ironing to take care of, so I
suspect that the three of them will enjoy being fussed
over. And I still have my ladies group . . . you
wouldn't believe some of the things we've been
getting up to lately,' she said.
almost afraid to even ask,' I chuckled.
I'm going to love hearing the sound of young people in
the house again. I think that's one of the things that
I've missed the most.'
out I put my arm around her shoulders and hugged her to
me, kissing the side of her head as I did so.
so much that we've all missed out on,' I said to
her. `Let's just hope that everything goes to plan
and that these two will get the chance to settle in here
for a while.'
I think I'd like that,' she replied, before slipping
away from me and walking to the wall oven, then opening
it and pulling from it a plate filled with steaming
. . . smells great, as always,' I said, as she set it
on a placemat on the pine kitchen table. It didn't
take long for me to sit down, and after being passed
some cutlery I tucked in, while Beth simply leaned back
against the kitchen sink and watched, all the while
grinning at me.
was nothing on earth like Beth's scrambled eggs,
complete with some diced up onion, capsicum and tomato,
and just a dash of curry to add some kick. I had long
ago lost count of the number of times this meal had been
served up to Martin and me of a weekend, and no matter
how many times I had tried to duplicate the recipe while
living on my own I could never get it just
and I have been thinking,' Beth said to me as I
continued eating. `The boys don't have much in the
way of clothes and personal items, do they?'
I replied. `If I can borrow a car sometime today I
thought I'd take them shopping and get a few things
I guess they're about the same size and age as you and
Martin were . . .' she began, before stopping herself.
stopped eating and looked up at her.
you don't have to do that,' I said, remembering all
too well how adamant she had been in the weeks following
Martin's death that nothing at all was to be removed
from his room. .
only going to waste,' she shrugged. `I've been
meaning to take them to St. Vinnies or somewhere anyhow
. . . it's silly having a wardrobe full of clothes
sitting there like that when someone could be getting
some use out of them. You wouldn't mind, would you?'
of course I wouldn't mind. I just don't quite know
what to say. Thank you, I guess. And I'm sure the boys
would appreciate the gesture.'
course some of them might be too small already, and
you'll still need to get them some new underwear and
personal items,' she added. `But if they're not
worried about hand-me-downs then there's bound to be
some clothes there which they can at least get some use
I truly can't thank you enough,' I replied.
`You're an absolute angel.'
I guess that's got to be better than some of the names
I've been called over the years,' she chuckled.
wasn't until a couple of hours later that Tom and the
boys returned to the house. Of course they were without
any fish, but all the same they were in good spirits.
experience I knew that the best times for catching fish
in the river around here were usually either at sunrise
or sunset. I was sure that Tom knew that also, so I
suspected that their little
sojourn to the river bank was for something other than
trying to catch dinner. I figured that Tom was simply
trying to spend some time with them so that he could get
to know them a little.
their absence I had retreated once more to Martin's
room, with all full intentions of going back through
more of those school yearbooks, and also getting a start
on the photo albums. When Beth came in a short while
later, however, and started looking through the
wardrobe, my plans were quite quickly changed.
a short time I helped her sort through and select some
of the clothes I thought the boys could use . . . old
jeans and button down shirts, shorts and t-shirts, a few
rugby tops, plus some dress clothes, then we transferred
them into the boys' room and laid them out on the bed,
so they could sort through them and try them on for
size, once they had returned.
was while we were doing this that I heard my phone ring,
which I had left sitting on the table beside the bed,
and so I left Beth with the clothes and went to answer
about time, Golden Boy. What kept you?' Helen
sorting through some of Martin's old clothes for the
boys,' I replied.
Beth doesn't mind?'
it was her idea.'
we talked I started walking back through the house and
out onto the back deck.
how was the trip back?' I asked.
the trip was fine. It was the reception committee at the
other end that had me worried for a few moments,
I dropped the rental off, then caught a cab to where my
car was still parked. Just as I was unlocking it I heard
a sound behind me and when I turned around there were
two friends of ours standing there. Scared the crap out
of me, I don't mind telling you.'
very same. Looks like they were lying in wait.'
What happened? What did they want?'
mean other than to get me shaking like a leaf? They
tried coming on all strong and belligerent, as you would
expect, but when I explained to them that I had my hand
wrapped around my service pistol in my handbag they soon
took a step back and changed their attitude.'
have liked to have seen that,' I chuckled.
seems they were looking for Shane, seeing as he wasn't
in the hospital any more. They demanded to know where we
did you tell them?'
fuck off! What else would you think I'd tell them?'
she laughed. `And in a round-about fashion they also
tried finding out if I knew where some of the other lads
may have disappeared to . . . in particular a blonde
headed kid that had been running with Jarvis' lot.
Honestly, these guys are clueless. I get the feeling
that they were clutching at straws and don't even have
any idea that we also have Jimmy and Casey safely tucked
good then. It takes a bit of pressure off.'
I think you might be right there.'
if Shane is their focus, because he's the only one
that has popped up on the radar, I bet they're
thinking that if they can find him and get him to talk
to them, he might just lead them to Casey. Then, once
they have their hands on Casey they will be able to
silence him, all to protect their master! That must have
been their end game all along!'
beyond priceless! Have you spoken to Richardson about
we had a session this morning. Me and him, along with
Warwick Cooke and a couple of Internal Affairs guys. We
filled them in on what we're certain has been
happening with Barrett, Azzopardi and Ryan, and how
they're tied up with Jarvis. They've also read Jimmy
and Shane's statements, so they know that they can
both put the finger on Barrett and the others. Internal
Affairs thinks that it might reach higher than just
Barrett, however . . . they're thinking that there has
to be people above Barrett who are in the know, seeing
as every time there's a hint of scandal about him it
quickly gets covered up. They want to act, and they want
to act quickly, but they really need to talk to Casey
and get his statement first . . .'
I asked, sensing the hesitancy in her voice.
. . . I don't want it to be here, or in any other
station . . . and especially not at Cathy and Megan's
house either. I don't want to put Casey, or Cath and
Megan for that matter, in a position where they could be
got at if someone gets a whiff of where the kid is
staying. I've told IA that I won't produce him
unless I can guarantee that he can't be got at.'
you got any ideas, hot-shot?'
me sleep on it,' I answered.
you better make it a fucking quick nap, because it's
got to happen today!'
I'll have a think and call you back shortly. Oh, hey,
has there been any word on Jimmy Tan?'
nothing, and now I'm really getting worried,' Helen
replied. `And Elvira is simply beside herself . . .
she's certain something has happened to him.'
what about you?'
I said, I'm worried . . . actually, I'm more than
worried . . .'
sure he'll turn up,' I replied, trying to sound much
more confident than I was feeling. That same nagging
feeling that I had experienced earlier was back again.
but in what state?' Helen sighed.
what about that project?' I asked, suddenly wanting to
change the subject slightly, while also realising that
the Mardi Gras was little more than a week away.
spoke to the Inspector and he understands the
difficulties we're having. We're thinking that if
Elvira can muster together a few dancers for on the
float, we'll put a call out to all the stations and try
to get some uniformed officers just to march in front of
it. It may not be ideal, but it'll be better than
nothing . . .'
make sure they're young, good looking and not wearing
very much!' I chuckled.
be careful what you wish for, sunshine . . . you'll
probably end up being the one leading the parade and
twirling the baton!'
fucking likely!' I spat back, at which she simply
that we disconnected and sensing some movement down at
the bottom of the yard I looked up to see Tom and the
boys coming through the back gate, fishing rods in hand
and deep in conversation. The boys were smiling,
obviously having enjoyed their morning and Tom's
waved when they saw me on the deck at the back of the
house, before then disappearing inside Tom's shed to
put the fishing gear away, emerging shortly afterwards
and heading toward the house.
thought you were going to bring something home for
lunch?' I called out to them.
biting,' Jimmy replied, sounding somewhat down about
we saw a shark in the river,' Shane added excitedly.
at Tom I could see him grinning. `Maybe we just need
to try at some other time of the day,' he mused.
try around sundown if I were you guys,' I offered.
`There's bound to be something out and about feeding
reckon?' asked Jimmy.
mate. I reckon. Now, how about you guys head inside and
wash up. Beth has something she wants to show you
two strides the pair of them bounded up the steps and
onto the deck, before kicking off their dirty joggers
and heading inside.
what must have been an amused expression on my face Tom
said, `We all had a good chat this morning and I took
the opportunity to explain a few things to them about
how things work around here. I also had a listen to some
of the things that worry them both . . . they've
certainly had to put up with a great deal these past few
think they both could do with some guidance, Tom. And
you're just the man to do it, I reckon.'
I'm not so sure about that. I do know that they both
just need some loving . . . and the chance to just be
themselves, without the pressures associated with having
to make other people happy.'
something that they wouldn't have been able to
experience in a long time, I would imagine.'
You're right there. For the past couple of years their
lives have apparently been ruled by a tyrant. They
haven't been able to forge any kind of lasting
relationships, apart from with some of the other boys,
so obviously it's going to take some time for them to
adjust to the real world.'
got all that out of them from one failed fishing
trip?' I teased.
and a bit more,' he chuckled.
what's the rest of it then?'
both seem to have a pretty high opinion of you. You've
made one hell of an impression on them, and on that
other boy as well. What was his name?'
That's him. You didn't go into much detail last
night when you mentioned him, but the boys told me some
of the things that have happened to him. Pretty
it is. He's safe now, though, and hopefully we'll be
able to get him out of Sydney as well.'
said he has an uncle up bush somewhere who he is pretty
sure is gay, so we're going to try and track him down
to see if he'll take him in.'
if that doesn't work out?'
guess we'll cross that bridge when we get to it,' I
Tom and I finally made it inside we found Beth and the
boys down in their room, going through the clothes that
had been laid out for them. I had kind of expected them
to be a little hesitant about the idea of wearing
someone else's clothes, however, they both seemed
quite pleased with the idea.
about we let you boys try them on, while we go and put
the kettle on. Whatever you decide to keep we'll put
through the washing machine and freshen them up, then if
there are any that are too small just put them aside and
we'll do a run to the St. Vincent de Paul store later
on,' Beth suggested, while ushering Tom and me
straight back out the door.
Beth filled the electric jug and switched it on we could
hear the excited chatter coming from down the hallway.
sounds to me like they are enjoying themselves down
there,' I remarked.
I don't suppose that they'd have been able to
experience things like Christmas or their birthdays too
often over the past few years,' Beth mused. `When
you don't have much, and don't have family around
you, I imagine that being given something, even just
clothes, can be quite a big deal.'
you, to both of you, for this, and for everything you
are doing,' I said.
with the thanks, already,' Tom scolded. `We're
just happy that we are in a position to be able to help,
and I'd like to think that all we're doing is what
any good hearted person would do.'
I could respond we heard the sound of laughter coming
from their bedroom, then Shane calling out for me,
asking me to come down to their room.
bet this'll be good,' I said, before leaving Beth
and Tom in the kitchen and heading down the hall toward
the sound of their voices.
your problem?' I asked when I got to the doorway.
Shane was standing with his back to me, wearing only his
underwear, while Jimmy was directly in front of him.
good. How do you tie these damn things?' Shane asked
me. As he stepped aside I found that he had nicked my
own neck-tie, the one I had been wearing yesterday, from
Martin's room and was now trying to fasten it around
his boyfriend's neck.
When I looked Jimmy up and down I noticed he was wearing
a pair of dark blue dress trousers and a white shirt,
topped off with my blue-checkered tie hanging loosely
around his neck.
When I looked Jimmy up and down I noticed he was wearing
a pair of dark blue dress trousers and a white shirt,
topped off with my blue-checkered tie hanging loosely
around his neck.
smart,' I said to him. `Now, give me a go at
I quickly looped the tie and fixed the knot, Shane
pulled on a pair of dark grey pants and a black shirt, a
combination that I recalled Martin wearing often. When I
turned around and saw him standing there my heart gave a
sudden lurch in my chest. Dressed that way, and with his
darker hair and features, it was like Martin was
standing there once again. The resemblance was
quite uncanny. I just hoped that Tom and Beth would be
able to handle seeing him like that.
what do you think?' Shane asked as he posed before me.
speechless,' I replied honestly. `Just hang on . . .
I'll see if I can find a tie for you too,' I added,
before ducking into Martin's room and sliding open the
wardrobe doors and finding Martin's collection of ties
to their room, with a bright pink tie in hand (one which
Martin had bought specially for a party we had gone to,
as I recall), I quickly wrapped it around his neck and
tied it, despite his attempts at protesting.
suits you,' Jimmy teased him.
you,' came the terse reply.
I was trying to be nice!' Jimmy pleaded. `You look
really think so?'
wouldn't say it if I didn't mean it, Doofus!'
Jimmy replied, while giving his boyfriend a playful
do you think, Coop?'
he said,' I answered. `You look so hot I might just
have to steal you off him myself!'
Cut that out, Coop! He's already taken, and you
ain't getting your grubby old hands on him!' Jimmy
Jimmy,' I laughed. `You're both safe, and you both
look sensational . . . like you're almost ready for a
big date. Now, before you come out to the kitchen just
go into the bathroom and tidy your hair up a bit. I'll
go and tell them to put their sunglasses on so their
eyes don't get hurt by the dazzling beauty that
they're about to see.'
fucking funny!' Jimmy declared.
was still laughing when I reached the kitchen, where
Beth and Tom were both fussing around fixing some cups
of coffee for us and pouring cokes for the boys.
think you had best brace yourselves,' I said to them
as I entered the room.
why's that?' Tom enquired.
about to see a couple of amazing make-overs!' I
warned. `And when you see Shane, I don't think it
will be just him who you'll be seeing.'
both looked at me with rather quizzical expressions on
their faces, but I said nothing more, before next we
heard the sound of footsteps coming up the hall and
Jimmy announcing, `Coming, ready or not!'
three of us turned to face the doorway, just as the boys
arrived. They stopped and quickly posed themselves,
mimicking the pose that Martin and I had struck out the
back by the river all those years ago; standing back to
back and at something of an angle, their arms folded
across their chests and with cheeky grins on their
my Lord,' I heard Beth gasp as she looked at the pair
of them, before quickly turning and burying her face
against her husband's chest.
and I both looked from the boys to the picture of Martin
and me on the wall, which was almost right beside where
they stood, and back again. I was sure that the three of
us must have all thought the same thing; that Shane was
the spitting image of Martin all over again.
the matter?' I heard Shane ask, sounding quite
concerned. `Have we done something wrong?'
Shane, everything's fine,' Tom answered. `I think
you've just given Beth a bit of a surprise, that's
a look at the photo on the wall,' I said quietly as I
walked over to where they both stood, looking somewhat
shell-shocked, and embraced them. `You both look
amazing, so handsome all dressed like that, but Shane,
you look so much like Martin it's spooky,' I
whispered to him. `How about you both go and change
into something a bit more casual . . . some jeans and
t-shirts or something, then I'll take you across to a
nearby shopping centre and get a few other things that
you'll need, all right?'
nodded and quietly slipped out of the kitchen and went
back to their room.
so sorry Beth . . . I should have realised . . .' I
it's quite okay, Rick. Really. It was a bit of a
surprise, but I'm fine,' she said, as she dabbed at
her eyes with the sleeve of her blouse.
And you did warn us,' she sniffed, before offering me
a wan smile.
she sat down at the kitchen table, with Tom passing her
a cup of tea, she looked back up at the picture on the
wall. I thought for a moment that she was about to say
something, but just then my phone started to ring in my
pocket, which spoiled the moment.
at the display screen I could see that it was Helen, so
I pressed the button to connect.
Sorry, but I haven't had a chance to figure anything
out yet,' I quickly said, deciding to get in early.
not why I'm calling,' she replied, in a voice that
sounded ominously flat. Immediately I was on guard.
Tan has turned up.'
by her voice the news wasn't good.
in what sort of state?' I ventured to ask.
as Martin and Alexis,' she replied flatly, the anguish
in her voice clearly evident.
god! I'm so sorry.'
not your fault, Rick,' she replied.
|To be continued...|
(c) 2015 Mark