The Boxer.

By George Gardner (UK)

With contributions from LW Prichard. (USA)

 I met Ed on a dark, rain-drenched night in New York. He was cold, wet, hungry and not very clean but there was something about him which drew me like the proverbial moth to a flame. I was living in an apartment - not, I hasten to add, my own - which overlooked Central Park and it was to there that I took him as not even McDonalds would admit him in his dishevelled state. He was very quiet and deferential in his demeanour which was both endearing and annoying at the same time. He wasn’t tall and he was lightly built but he was obviously fit and his body - what of it I could see through the grubby old clothing he wore in abundance - seemed to be well defined. I packed him off into the bathroom for a shower and anything else he wanted and I set about preparing him some food as the Great American Fast Food Tradition obviously didn’t apply to “bums” - which is how he described himself.

 I had been in the US for only a couple of weeks and I was due to stay for a year but I was already homesick for my native Scotland. I wasn’t used to the “Twenty-four/Seven” buzz of the city and the whole pace of life there was far too fast for me. The company I was being paid to represent was footing the bill for the apartment with the view and for most of my other expenses - which were fairly small as I’m not an extravagant guy and I don’t take advantage just because it’s somebody else’s money. I was fast approaching my fortieth birthday and I was dreading it. Forty, gay and
still single.

 Ed emerged from the bathroom looking like a completely different person. He had showered and shaved and he was wearing one of the white robes which appeared every day, fresh and clean, along with the towels and other stuff in the apartment. ( I’m told this is called the Maid Service but the one and only time I ever saw the maid “she” appeared to be a gangly youth of some eighteen summers with terminal acne and co-ordination difficulties). I appreciated the sight and led him through to the kitchen/diner. He started thanking me again so I told him to shut up and just eat while I sat opposite him and observed. The guy was obviously starving but, whilst he ate quickly, he didn’t overstuff his mouth with food. He would look at me often as he ate and there was appraisal in his eyes.

 He was rather a hunk by any standards. His hair needed some drastic attention but he was really rather .... well, not to put too fine a point on it, bloody gorgeous! He was about an inch or so shorter than me which would have made him about five-eight. His hair was a sort of dusky blond and his eyes were a most dazzling and sparkling blue. I was no expert on American accents but I guessed he was indigenous to the city.

 At last he sat back having finished his meal.

 “Thanks,” he said in his quiet, retiring manner. “I really appreciate this, mister.”

 “I wish you’d just call me Jack,” I said. “And don’t mention it. Can I get you anything else? Coffee?”

 He smiled shyly at me and my flesh tingled.

 “I ain’t had a decent cuppa coffee in a month,” he said sadly.

 I went to the coffee-thing which also seemed to benefit from the phantom Maid Service as it always seemed to be half full and simmering on its little hotplate and poured him a cup. I don’t drink coffee often - and never real coffee – unless it’s made with milk and contains at least three spoonfuls  of sugar.

 “Thanks,” he said again. “Just lemme have this an’ I’ll be outa your hair, Jack.”

 I hadn’t fully considered the possible ramifications of what I was about to propose. If I’m completely honest I hadn’t considered them at all. I’d picked him up partly because I did genuinely want to help him. I’m like that and I can’t help it – I’m irresistibly drawn to stray animals, people etcetera -  but that normal desire had been overshadowed by the fact that something about him seemed to resonate with me on some deep and fundamental level. I was, of course, not unaware of the fact the he was a rather attractive man under all the grime and we queers will have our little fantasies. There was no way I’d ever have tried to use his situation to, let’s say, curry sexual favours from him. I would be content just having him around for a while and being able to enjoy the view and the daydreams of the impossible future after he turned out to be the man of my dreams. In actuality he was nothing like the man of my dreams who, at that time, had been tending towards Lloyd Owen.

 There were other considerations and probably hordes of unseen problems but Ed needed help and I had to try to give it and hang the consequences. The Native Americans believe that if you save a life then you become responsible for it. They are extraordinarily wise people.

 “You can stay for bit, if you like,” I said.

 “Hey look, mister, I know you got saddled with me on account of you asked me if I wanted a burger and McDonalds said fuck off so you felt obliged,” he said. “You kept your promise an’ I thank you for that but you ain’t obliged to me no further than this.”

 “And if I just happen to want to?”

 He stared at me for a moment.

 “You wanna know how I ended up in the gutter?”

 “If you want to tell me.”

 “Yeah okay,” he said with a slow nod. “I guess maybe I will. Could I get some more coffee?”

 I poured him another large cup and led him through to the lounge/day room. (These were the names given by the real estate guy who had shown me around the place. Every room seemed to be expected to be dual-functional. To me, it was just the living room). We sat down and he looked at me for a moment.

 “Okay,” he began. “First up I ain’t a user an’ I ain’t killed no-one. I guess I got a liquor problem but I’ve been dry for a month now - an’ that ain’t because I couldn’t’ve got some if I wanted it bad enough.”

 I didn’t say anything. Listening is a great skill and a great gift because it involves keeping your trap shut and your oar out. If someone is opening up to you they mostly just want to talk something out of their system. If they want your input they’ll ask for it.

 “I always wanted to box,’ he said wistfully. ‘Ever since I was a kid it’s what I wanted to be. I had all these video tapes. Raging Bull, all the Rocky movies, Ali’s fights, Foreman an’ Frasier an’ all the greats I could lay my hands on. But my dad wasn’t havin’ none of that shit. One day while I was at the gym after school he trashed the VCR an’ the tapes an’ tossed them in the dumpster. When I came home I freaked - took a swing at him an’ I woke up an hour later with two cracked ribs and my mom bawlin’ over me.”

 He smiled wryly at me and a little thrill darted up my spine.

 “Well, I never was much of a one for schoolin’ so I dropped out an’ hit the road. I guess I should tell you that I don’t read ‘r write too well - maybe I’m a just a dumb-ass, I dunno. I got odd jobs here an’ there, enough to keep me alive, an’ I even got a room from an old guy who ran a bookstore out in Yonkers. He was nice – he even gimme a few bucks if I helped him out in the store. I was seventeen an’ that was seven years ago.”

 That made him twenty-four.

 ‘Well, then I got a steady job loading trucks for a hundred an’ fifty bucks a week - which was not great, let me tell you, but what the fuck? It was a livin’ an’ I could keep up with my trainin’.  So one day a guy come into the gym lookin’ for a prospect an’ I got lucky. I ain’t no heavyweight as you can tell,” he said extending his arms which made the robe open a bit around his chest. “But the guy reckoned he could do something with me.”

 He paused and bit down on the back of his thumb. His face darkened as he frowned.

 “So I quit my job and I went into full-time training with Guido’s outfit. It was okay for a while. He didn’t pay me but I got food an’ a bigger room with a TV an’ a few dollars for a beer an’ a movie once in a while. I even got a couple‘a bouts with other green kids. Won most of ‘em.”

 He paused again and looked straight into my eyes.

 “Well it’s a long story, Jack - bottom line was, when it came right down to it, Guido ran a crooked stable. Us guys was expected to win or lose to order, if you see what I’m sayin?”

 “The bouts were rigged?”

 “You got that exactly right, yeah. Oh, there was some big money to be made if I’d played the game but I ain’t like that. I wanted to box, Jack, clean ‘n straight. So, anyhow, I opened my mouth an’ told Guido I didn’t want to be any part of his scams. Coupl’a hours later I woke up in a dumpster with a broken arm - an’ these.”

 He stood up and opened the robe down to his waist. There were three scars on his abdomen which could only have been stab wounds.

 “They tried to kill you?!” I said.

 “They come this close,’ he said making the standard gesture. ‘I guess  they figured I’d maybe blab to the cops. I had two weeks in hospital in a room wit' two other guys - one crapped hisself and stunk the place out every day an' the other yelled all freakin' night. I had the damn chaplain tryin' to save my soul every five minutes an' some hard-assed female from their Patient Accounts tryin' to screw me for cash I didn't have every ten - an’ then, as soon as I can stand up on my own, I’m back out on the street. That was eighteen months ago. I hit the bottle any time I could bum the cash ‘r work a few hours for it. Slept rough with the other bums an’ that is how you found me.”

 I felt for him, vowing to myself never to complain about our National Health Service ever again.

 “And you think I’ll just put you back out there?” I said.

 “You ain’t got a lot of choice, buddy,” he said gently with a soft little smile. “But don’t you worry, you done good and I’m thankful for that. I can get by.”

 “Well, you can stay the night with me at least,” I said as my mind, bent to the task of working out what I could do to help him, failed to check on what my mouth was saying and some of those “hanged consequences” pursued almost immediately.

 He sighed and looked at me sadly.

 “Yeah okay, mister,” he said, his voice taking on an edge of coldness. “I guess you earned it. I’ll suck your dick an’ you can suck mine if you wanna but no way will I let you fuck my ass, okay?”
I gaped at him for a moment before the realisation dawned that he would quite probably not have stopped at selling his body to get the money for food or drink. Desperate people do desperate things.

 “Listen to me, Ed,” I said as firmly as I could. “I really meant just sleep the night. In the second bedroom. On your own.”

 He stared at me, puzzled.

 “Okay, I’ll come clean with you. Yes, I’m gay - or a faggot or whatever you like to call it. Yes, I think you’re quite a hunk but I do not take advantage of people when they’re in trouble. I can’t help the way I feel or the way I am, Ed, but I wouldn’t lay more than an admiring glance on you unless you wanted it otherwise. The offer stands.”

 Ed looked at the floor briefly.

 “I’m sorry,” he said almost in a whisper. “I ain’t used to people bein’ just kind these days.”

 “These aren’t kind times, Ed.”

 “I ain’t slept in a bed in over a year, Jack.”

 “Then, for Pete’s sake, be my guest!”

 “Okay. Thanks.”

 I led him into the hall and showed him the door to the second bedroom. I wished him a good night and I was just going into my own room when he stopped me.

 “Jack?” he said.

 “Yes, Ed?”

 “D’you really think I’m, y’know....... what you said?” he asked shyly.

 “If you mean  do I think you’re quite a hunk then yes, I do,” I said with a grin. “You’re a very attractive man, Ed. Now get to bed!”

 He smiled at me. His whole face lit up and he looked so different, so young, that I almost cried.

 “Thanks,” he said earnestly. “You’re a real nice guy, Jack.”

 A warm little glow seemed to radiate from his tired, but shining eyes and into my yearning heart .

 “Go to bed, Ed!”    

 I lay awake most of the night. Ed had gotten to me and I, not being a complete idiot, realised only too well that the best, and probably only, way I could show how I felt for him was to try to help him back on to his feet - if he’d let me. I would have plenty of free time as the job I had to do didn’t require me much more than twenty or thirty hours a week. So, come the next morning, I decided I would put it to him and see what happened. That decided I still couldn’t sleep. Having him around all evening had seriously aroused my usually placid hormones. Images of him played across my mind every time I closed my eyes and my cock just would not lie down. Eventually I gave in and tossed off in my briefs, partly because I like that anyway but also as I didn’t want any suspicious stains on the sheets to alarm “The Maid”. The size of the load I shot into them was further indication of my deepening feelings towards Ed. I still couldn’t sleep, though.

 Next morning he was fresh as a daisy and I was like death warmed up.

 “You look like shit,” he said with a grin as he came to find me in the kitchen where I was trying to remember how to make a cup of tea.

 “And you look much better,” I said, stifling a huge yawn. “Sorry, I didn’t sleep well.”

 “On account of me?” he asked, looking down at his feet.

 I smiled at him.

 “Yeah, on account of you.” I said wryly.

 “Sorry, Jack. I’ll get my stuff ‘n.........”

 “Oh sit down for God’s sake!” I said a bit testilly. “It’s not your fault, Ed. It’s just me. I had to think a few things through.”

 “I want you to know this, Jack,” he said firmly. “I am truly an’ deeply sorry for what I said last night - y’know? ‘Bout suckin’ dicks? I was dog tired an’, well, I’ve met some guys who ain’t as “straight” as you. No offence meant.”

 He flashed that shy little uncertain smile which made my soul tingle. He’d made a joke and he wasn’t sure how I’d take it.

 “None taken,” I said. “Have you really, you know – “gone” with other guys? Were you that desperate?”

 “Only when I was on the liquor, Jack. When you need it that bad you’ll do whatever it takes.”

 “God!” I said quietly. “I’m afraid I can’t even imagine how that must feel, Ed.”

 “An’ you should be thankful for that!”

 “Could you make breakfast?” I asked, peering at him sleepily. “I think I forgot how to work the cooker.”

 Ed looked into the kitchen area.

 “Yeah, I can do that and I would be glad to.”

 “Right. You do that and I’ll go and see if I can remember how to dress myself.”

 “I’m real sorry you had a bad night, Jack.”

 “I’ll live,” I said. “Besides, I’d have had a worse one if I’d just left you out in the rain.”

 I wandered back into my bedroom and flopped down on the bed. There was definitely something between Ed and I. What it was would have to be left to time. Maybe he was like me and maybe he wasn’t. Maybe we would just be good friends or maybe I was just letting my imagination run away with me. In any event, something told me that just letting him go was not an option. I knew from his manner and the way he looked at me that he felt something, too. We would just have to see what happened.

 After breakfast he started trying to leave again. I was tired and my temper was not at its best.

 “Oh for fuck’s sake, Ed!” I snapped. “Are you seriously telling me you want to go back on the streets?”

 “I have a choice?” he asked, staring straight into my eyes.

 “I’ve been trying to give you one, yes,” I replied more calmly. “If you’ll stop trying to get away every five minutes.
Anyone would think I was trying to have my wicked wanker’s way with you.”

 "I don't wanna trouble you is all," he said sadly.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                “You’re not,” I went on. “Okay, true, you cannot stay here. This isn’t my apartment and questions would no doubt get asked. I would like to help you get back on your feet, Ed. No strings attached. I can rent you a room or a smaller - much smaller! - apartment and then I’ll help you however I can. You need somewhere to live – and a job. I’ll be here for you Ed – if you’ll let me.”

 “Yeah? An’ when you go back to England?”

 “That isn’t for a year. Maybe a bit longer. I can’t run the rest of your life for you.”

 “You’d really do that for me?”



 “Because I like you. I feel something for you. I want to, damn it!”

 “W-would you teach me to read an’ write - properly - an’ maybe talk more kinda uptown?”

 “Oh, so now I’m Henry Higgins, am I?” I said with a chuckle.

 He waggled a finger at me and grinned.

 “An’ you think I don’t know who that is.” he laughed. “I seen that movie.”

 “Yes, I’ll teach you,” I said more seriously. “Anything I can do, Ed.”

 He looked down briefly and then his clear blue eyes met mine again.

 “I gotta tell you,’ he said quietly. ‘I feel somethin’ for you, too, Jack. I saw you comin’ towards me through the rain  las’ night an’ somethin’ just kinda clicked.”

 “Then we’ll be friends, I hope.”

 “I guess we already are,” he said with a smile. ‘I can talk to you like I never could with anyone before. I feel like I’ve always known you, Jack.”

 “Strange, isn’t it?” I said.

 “Yeah - but it’s a kinda nice feeling.”

 “Yes,” I agreed.

 “Hey, an’ I’m happy you think I’m a hunk. I don’t care that you’re queer, Jack. It don’t matter.”

 He smiled that shy little smile at me yet again and I smiled back at him.

 “Yes, okay,” I chuckled. “I suppose I can live with you being straight.”

 So I went out and I bought him some jeans, a couple of  tee-shirts, socks, a pair of sneakers, a couple of shirts a warm jacket and some proper shoes  . When it came down to underwear I balked. Briefs or boxers? Did I dare in any case? Did he even wear underwear? In the end I bought two packs  of each in white and left it at that. I hurried back to the apartment as I still worried that he might just leave in some mistaken attempt to spare me further ‘trouble’. He was still there, happily watching a Friends re-run on the TV.

 “I’d forgotten how shit daytime TV was,” he said.

 I handed him the packages and he looked at me again - straight into my eyes and, through them, into my very soul.

 “I didn’t know whether you wore boxers or briefs so I got both,” I said sheepishly.

 “Which d’you like?” he asked.

 “Me? Erm .... I-I-I”, I stammered. “Briefs, to be honest.”

 “Okay then.”

 He winked at me and vanished into the bedroom to get dressed. A moment later he re-appeared wearing only a pair of the neat white briefs. I nearly had a coronary on the spot. ‘Hunk’, it appeared, had been something of an underassessment.

 “So?” he asked, spreading his arms and turning around allowing me to see his gorgeous rear encased in the tight, white cotton.

 “Great,” I almost squeaked.

 He grinned at me.

 “You like?”

 I nodded and collapsed into an armchair. Ed came over and stood before me.

 “You can touch if you wanna,” he said quietly. “I won’t mind, Jack.”

 Half of me leapt at the chance, the other half trod on its toes and tripped it up.

 “I want to,” I said smiling up at him. “I really, really, want to, Ed. But I’m not going to.”

 “I won’t mind,’ he said firmly. “Honest.”

 “Maybe,” I said. “But do you really want me to?”

  He sighed heavily.

 “Truth to tell,” he said, “I don’t think I know for sure.”

 “Then ask me again when you are,” I said. “Now go and get dressed properly and we’ll get you a haircut and lunch and then somewhere to live.”

 “Get up, Jack,” he said very softly and he took my hands and held on to them as I stood up.

 “Now, I am gonna kiss you,’ he said. ‘Not for nothin’ like sex an’ not for sayin’ thanks or anythin’ - just for you bein’ Jack an me bein’ Ed an’ you’n’me bein’ buddies. Okay?”

 I nodded slowly and he kissed me. Not just a peck on the cheek but a full-blown kiss on the lips. It wasn’t lengthy but it was the most incredible kiss I had ever had in my entire life.

 Ed looked into my eyes again and then he hugged me tightly.

 “Why you doin’ this?” he asked hoarsely.

 “I told you,” I said. “Because I want to.”

 “Yeah but why, Jack?”

 “It needs to be done,” I said gently. “Other than that I don’t know, my friend. There’s something in you connects with something in me. Maybe we’re soulmates or something. Maybe we’re just meant to be friends.”

 “Well, that tears it,” he said, his voice trembling. “I’m gonna blub now. Sorry.”

 “Don’t be,” I whispered. “I’m here, Ed.”

 His whole frame shook as he cried. Huge sobs wracked his body and he clung on to me so tightly that I could hardly breathe. I could only feebly guess at what he was feeling and what could possibly have happened to him over the past few years. He cried for what seemed like ages and I held him and stroked his still-matted hair until he regained himself. He stood back a little and smiled tearfully at me.

 “I needed that,” he said, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. “Thanks, Jack.”

 “Any time, Ed,” I said. “I mean that.”

 “Yeah,” he said smiling again. “Yeah, I know. Now ain’t that a strange thing.”

 He went off to get dressed and I made myself a cup of tea to steady my nerves. What on Earth was happening, I wondered as I sat myself down in one of the chairs. I didn’t have too long to dwell on it before he returned. If anything, he looked even more hunky in tee-shirt and jeans.

 “These are terrific, Jack,” he said. “It all fits great.”

 “How do you feel?”

 “I feel .... good.” he said after a slight pause. “Somethin’ I ain’t felt for a long, long time, my friend.”

 “Good, I’m glad.”

 “Can I ask you somethin.?” he said. “Somethin’ real.... personal, like.”

 “Sure, go ahead,” I replied. “If you’re sure you want to know the answer.”

 “Did you pop a boner while we were holdin’ onto each other back there?”

 I was, to put it mildly, taken aback by the question but my instinct was to be truthful with my new friend. He was almost blindly trusting me and I wouldn’t betray that trust.

 “Yes,” I said.

 He nodded and scratched the back of his head thoughtfully.

 “Yeah. I kinda thought that,” he said. “I popped a bit of a one, too.”

 “It doesn’t mean anything, really,” I said. “It was a highly emotional moment for both of us. Strange things can happen.”

 “And you didn’t take advantage,” he said. “If you’d come on to me, Jack, I would’ve gone all the way wit’ you, buddy. All the way.”

 “I don’t doubt that you would,” I said, putting my hand on his shoulder. “But what kind of friend would that have made me?”

 “Y’know,” he said squinting down at me, “I think I could get real close to you?”

 “I hope you do, Ed.”

 “This just gets weirder, don’t it?”

 “I think we’ll just have to wait and see where it takes us.”

 “Suits me, buddy.”

 “Then there’s something I want to ask you.”

 “Anythin’ you wanna know,” he said firmly.

 “Ed…. Who?” I said.

 He smiled and shook his head in amusement.

 “Ed Hillman,” he said.

 “Jack MacKenzie,”

 “I am very glad to know you, Jack MacKenzie.”

 So we went out to the barber’s shop and he got his hair cut. With much shorter, cleaner and tidier hair he looked still more hunky than ever. I had given him “a coupl’a hundred bucks!” and he was almost shaking as he paid the barber.

 “I can’t remember the last time I had a proper haircut,” he said, running his hand through his dusky-blond hair. “It feels so good, Jack.”

 “I’m glad,” I said. “Okay, so let’s find you somewhere to live now.”

 “How you gonna pay for all this, buddy?” he asked in genuine concern. “I don’t wanna drag you down in the gutter, too.”

 “Not likely,” I said with a thin smile. “They’d just deport me.”

 “Oh yeah, back to England.”

 “I sincerely hope not!” I said with some feeling. “I’m Scottish. They can deport me back to Scotland!”

 He laughed and his whole face lit up like a little kid’s.

 “Don’t worry, Ed,” I said. “I’ve got the wherewithall to do this.”

 “Shee! I got a sugar daddy!” he said, throwing an arm around my shoulders.

 “Guess again.” I growled.

 “I wouldn’t take advantage of you, Jack,” he said hurriedly. “I was just foolin’.”

 “I know, you idiot!” I said. “So was I.”

 It took nearly three weeks to find something suitable. Ed flatly refused to let me pay for anything “too classy” and I flatly refused to let him talk me into any “depressing rat-holes”. We settled for a small but clean and quite airy little two room furnished apartment back in The Bronx. That part of town was home to Ed, he told me, he’d been born and brought up in that part of the city and it was where he felt he still had his roots.

 “Are your parents still alive?” I asked as we walked back towards the subway.

 “I guess,” he said uncertainly. “I ain’t seen my mom in years. I went lookin’ once but our building wasn’t there no more. I dunno where they went. My dad can go to hell, Jack, but I still think about my mom.”

 “My parents are both dead,” I said. “I lost my mother when I was just a bit younger than you. My father died last year.”

 “You got any other family?”

 “Some cousins, I suppose,” I said. “Nobody close any more.”

 He put his arm round my shoulders and squeezed me tightly.

 “Well, you got me now,” he said quietly.

 “Thanks,” I said hoarsely as a huge lump rose in my throat.

 So he moved in and he seemed to settle down quite well. He even got himself a job loading trucks again. It annoyed me more than a little because I was sure Ed could have done better but he seemed to enjoy the physical aspect of the work and, at least, he had a decent employer. I let him go his own way but I made him keep my spare keycard for the apartment and, once a week no matter what, we got together for his “Class class” as he called it. He was quite determined that he would learn to read and write properly – and to talk more “uptown”. In fact he learned very quickly. There was nothing slow or dumb about him and he really put his heart into learning. Through it all, of course, there was the lingering and still unresolved matter of his sexuality. I knew he loved me very much and I loved him, too, but there were too many conflicting signs. He wasn’t in the least afraid of physical contact with me – indeed he seemed to welcome and enjoy it. Occasionally he’d “pop a boner” in those circumstances and he would insist on telling me about it. Consequently I spent a large part of some  nights with my cock in my hand.

 A month or so later I got a phone call from an old friend. Lew Davies and I were as close as it was possible for two guys to be without actually being lovers. I told Ed all about him and I began to really look forward to being able to let someone else relieve my pent-up sexual energy. I thought I had been doing the right thing but in the last few days before Lew arrived Ed had begun acting strangely. He’d been quiet and almost withdrawn and I knew he’d not been to work either. I’d told him honestly that Lew and I had been seeing each other years ago and that we still got together sometimes. There was nothing serious in it - Lew and I got on and we liked the same things sexually but we would never have made a couple. I knew that Ed was enormously fond of me and that the bond between us was growing stronger by the day but I still didn’t know, and neither did he, that it went any further than friendship. Deep and loving friendship, to be sure, but, apart from Ed’s one attempt at a pass and his obvious comfort with my being gay, there was no true indication that he had any carnal designs on my body.

 I met Lew off the plane and I took him to the apartment to get showered and changed. He was as attractive as ever, tall and well built, dark auburn hair, neat firm backside and a nicely full crotch in the trousers of his suit.  We indulged in a bout of heavy petting before we went out to eat but the main event could wait till we got back for the night. It was after eleven when we returned to the apartment and we were both fired up and ready for each other. We had started off by chasing each other up six flights of stairs, grabbing and shoving and groping  arses and cocks as we laughed like two overgrown schoolboys. We burst into the apartment and Lew had pinned me against the wall and was kissing me passionately even before the door had closed.

 “Hello, Jack,” he chuckled as his hand gently grasped my cock and began to squeeze it firmly.

 I was nearly fully erect as it was and I ran my hands down over his back and on to his buttocks. I pulled him tight against me and I could feel his hardness pressed against me through our clothing.

 “Nasty swelling you’ve got down there, doctor Davies,” I said, grinning at him.

 “I expect you can soon cure that, little Jack,” he said, kissing me again. “Don’t you think you should loosen the patient’s clothing a bit?”

 “Only if the nurse can have his loosened, too.”

 We stumbled through into the lounge and I was just about to relieve him of his shirt when I noticed the form stretched out on the couch. It was Ed and he was stinking drunk. There were several beer cans on the floor and the remains of a bottle of vodka was still gripped firmly in his hand.

 “Hel-lo,” Lew said with an appreciative look and a wide grin. “What have we here?”

 Ed’s eyes opened and struggled to focus on us.

 “Hi yous guys,” he slurred. “I’m havin’ a party - come’n’ have a drink.”

 “Ed what the hell are you doing?” I demanded. I was so shocked and disappointed . So many emotions mingled in my heart that it all came out in anger. “Look at the state of you! What’s gotten into you?”

 “Gotten into me? Well, it sure wasn’t you,” he said with a smile that wasn’t really very nice.

 “I thought you said he was off the booze?” Lew asked.

 Before I could answer Ed rounded on him. He struggled to his feet and glared menacingly straight into Lew's face.

 “Fuck you!” he snarled. “It ain’t none o’ your stinkin’ business, mister. Fuckin’ limey faggot.”

 Lew raised an eyebrow but he said nothing.

 “I think you better go, Ed,” I said sadly. “Go home.”

 “So you throwin’ me out now - that it? Just ‘cause I had a little drink? I thought you was my friend, Jack.”

 “ And I thought you were mine,” I said and I could feel tears stinging in my eyes. “Just go, Ed.”

 “I seen what you were doin’,” he went on, leering at Lew and I. “Can’t wait to fuck his ass can you, mister? You wanna know what I think? I think it’s sick. You make me wanna throw up, fuckin’.... ass-fuckin’ fags.”

 He sat down again, heavily, on the couch and took another swig from the bottle.

 “Hey,” he said with a grin. “Hey, maybe you both wanna suck my cock, huh? I got plenty for two, guys.” He grasped his crotch and squeezed it suggestively.

 “I think that’s more than enough,” Lew said suddenly. “Jack asked you to leave. I think it’s time you did just that.”

 “Yeah well I don’t give a shit for what you think, mister.”

 “Oh for God’s sake stop it, Ed!” I yelled. “Just go.”

 Ed got slowly to his feet again.

 “Yeah okay, Jack,” he said quietly. “I know when I ain’t welcome. Maybe I’ll see ya around sometime.”

 “Give me the bottle, Ed,” I said firmly. “You don’t need that. Please?”

 He held the vodka bottle out to me but as I moved to take it he pulled it away.

 “You’re gonna have your fun, Jack, so why can't I?” He said hoarsely.

 “Ed, don’t,” I said. “You’ve had more than enough of that stuff.”

 “Shows how much you know,” he mumbled but he let me take it.

 “Shall I call a cab?” Lew asked.

 Ed rounded on him again.

 “An’ I do not need nothin’ from you, asshole!” he yelled.

 “Just trying to be friendly,” Lew said placatingly.

 “Yeah well you ain’t no friend a' mine, mister limey faggot.”

 “Look, just go away will you?” Lew said rather heatedly. “There’s a good chap.”

 I saw Ed tense and his fist clenched. Just in time I grabbed his wrist before he could swing at Lew.

 “No,” I said quietly. “You asked for that, Ed. Now go.”

 I let go his wrist and, like lightning, he spun round and his fist slammed into my jaw. I reeled backwards under the blow and I sat down heavily on the floor. Ed stood over me, his fists bunched tightly and his eyes blazing. His chest heaved as he fought to control himself. I stared up at him in stunned disbelief. We stared at each other for a moment and then he turned and, half stumbling, he ran out of the apartment. Lew came over and helped me up.

 “Sorry Lew,” I said. “I don’t know what’s been wrong with him these past few days.”

 Lew sat me down on the couch and he grinned at me.

  “If I were to give a professional opinion,” he said, placing a hand on my shoulder. “I’d say that guy was in love with you, Jack.”

 “Don’t talk wet, he’s straight.”

 “How much would you like to bet on that?” He said, the grin widening.

 “I thought he was my friend, Lew, then he does something like this? He knew you were coming, he knew I was looking forward to seeing you again.”

 “QED,” Lew said, taking me in his arms. “Why else would he try to screw it up for you? Trust me, my little Jack, that guy loves you. He’s jealous because, down deep inside, he wants to be the one here with you. Trust me - I’m a doctor, I know these things.”

 “Like fuck you do,” I said with a thin smile.

 “Shall we just wait and see?” He said, holding me tighter. “I can hear wedding bells, little Jack, mark my words.”

 “You always were a sad old queer, Lew,” I chuckled. “Thanks, I feel better now.”

 “Good,” he said. “Now, where were we?”

 I let my hand wander down to his crotch. His cock was soft but it wouldn’t take long to get it hard again.

 “The swelling seems to have gone down, doctor,” I said.

 “In my experience, these things have a nasty habit of coming up again,” he said, spreading his legs wider apart.

 Lew Davies and I had been friends for many, many years. We first met at university although he had been two years ahead of me. Oddly, it was several years after that before we finally got together. He had been a junior doctor finishing his training in the local hospital and I had been floating around still trying to find my niche. Then, one night, it just happened. We’ d met for a drink on one of Lew’s infrequent nights off and we’d gone back to his place afterwards. We were already very close and I had an enormous crush on him - big handsome doctor that he was. I didn’t need much persuading to get together with him that night and we spent many a happy time thereafter in each other’s company - and beds. But that was as far as it ever went. Lew and I loved each other very much but we weren’t in love. The little, but vital, magic spark that makes the difference was not there for us. Our sexual tastes are very similar and it is, perhaps, a shame that we just never clicked romantically. He still calls me “Little Jack” , because I’m so much shorter than him, and I call him “Doc” but we still go our separate ways. He says we’d murder each other if we were together all the time. Maybe he’s right.

 His cock was nicely hard again. I pushed down his zip and slid my hand inside his trousers and along the shaft of his manhood. I lightly ran my thumb over the throbbing head and I felt the rewarding slickness of his pre-come begin to seep into his underwear. Lew always wore tight white Calvin Klien briefs for our encounters as he knew I loved to see him in those.

 “Oh, my little Jack, “ he whispered. “You’re so good at that.”

 I sat up and kissed him warmly. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that the kiss paled in comparison to the one I had shared with Ed on that first day, brief though that had been.

 I helped him out of his shirt and let my admiring eyes range over his tanned and well toned upper  body. Lew kept himself fit but somehow he seemed to have lost a little of his appeal. As I removed his trousers I could see Ed in the briefs I had bought for him and my cock finally began to rise. Lew helped me out of my own shirt and jeans and he pressed me firmly down on my back on the couch. He kissed his way down to my crotch and he began to work on me with his lips and tongue through the thin cotton of my own Calvins. I’ve often wondered if that gentleman knows exactly what things go on - and indeed come off - in “his” underwear.

 Lew kissed his way back up to my lips and then he laid his head on my shoulder and nuzzled my ear.

 “You’re thinking about Ed,” he said gently. “D’you want to stop?”

 I think that, deep down, I did want to stop but I was till too angry with Ed.

 “Like fuck I do,” I growled.

 “Picked up some quite colourful language, I see,” he said with a smile.

 I pushed him roughly on to his back and I sealed my lips with his. I thrust my hand down inside his briefs and I began to stroke him furiously. Lew groaned and writhed in my grip but I would neither let go nor stop. I felt him nearing release and I went at it as hard and fast as I could until his cock became like steel in my hand and then he inhaled one last, rasping breath before his warm semen spurted from the end of his cock and soaked the cotton of his briefs with its musky wetness. I stroked gently until he was completely done and then I withdrew my hand and began to lightly knead his balls as he went for my own cock. He’d be hard again before I was done and we’d then go to my bed for round two.

 I was very close and he didn’t try to prolong my agony. Lew’s lips found mine again and his tongue gently pushed between my teeth. I let him have his way and immersed myself in the sensations. All the time, though, images of Ed played across my mind. As I felt myself racing towards climax I dug my fingers into his shoulders and I threw back my head. 

 “That’s my boy,” he whispered encouragingly. “Go, little Jack, shoot a big load in those pants for me.”

 Orgasm seized me in its awesome grasp and I felt my cock pulse powerfully in Lew’s expert grip. My briefs front was soaked by my climax and Lew went down to lap it up. He liked that.

 We lay quietly together for a while, Lew holding me gently against his strong chest.

 “This could be our last time together,” he said sadly, his embrace tightening a little.

 “What?!” I said although I already knew what he meant.

 “Go on then, Jack, tell me you don’t love him,” he said ruffling my hair.

 “Who? Ed?” I said gruffly. “I bloody well hate him.”

 Lew laughed quietly.

 “Of course you do.”

 I sighed heavily.

 “I do love him, Lew.”

 “And he loves you, too, Jack. He's just scared to admit that he's queer.”

 “I think he knows he's queer,” I said. “He just isn't sure of himself - or me.”

 “He'll get there.”

 “He won't get between us, Lew.”

 “No?” he asked. “I suppose you'll be telling me next that it wasn't Ed you were making love to just now?”

 I couldn't because it would have been a lie.

 “He will get between us, little Jack, because that's how it should be. How it must be if you love each other. We'll always be friends and, in that, we'll always love each other - but that's all. I don't see Ed wanting to share you. I wouldn't.”

 We went to bed but there was no round two that night. Lew, dear and staunch friend that he is and has always been, knew that I didn't want any more sex that night and he didn't try to push me. He'd been my true friend and mentor for very many years and I knew that he would always hold his special place in my heart. Where Ed would fit into all this remained to be seen. He'd really got through to me, being so drunk and nasty, and he'd really hurt me. Deeply. I felt my jaw. It was only a little swollen and it dawned on me that Ed must have pulled the punch. If he'd really hit me full force he'd have laid me out and probably broken my jaw. I wondered where he was and what he was doing. Probably sleeping it off somewhere but I did worry about him.

 “Go,” said Lew sleepily. “Go and make sure he's okay.”

 I started to get up but then I changed my mind.

 “He'll be okay,” I said, lying down and snuggling up close to my friend. “Maybe he'll think twice before he tries a stunt like that again.”

 Lew put an arm round me and I snuggled into my dear friend.

 “Don’t leave it too long. Jack,” he said. “Both of you have an awful lot to lose.”

 Almost a week passed  before I saw Ed again. I had tried to find him but he hadn’t been back to his apartment nor had he been seen at his job. I searched the alleys and parks where the bums hung out but there was no sign of him and I only succeeded in almost getting myself mugged. I tried the local gyms, of which there seemed to be a huge assortment, covering the full gamut from clean and well-equipped to the dingy and bare, but there was no sign of him. Some of the guys hanging around the gyms knew Ed, or at least knew who he was, but no-one had seen him. One even tried to pick me up.

 I was sitting on a bench in Central Park. It was a cold night and I was feeling really down and miserable. I found that I missed Ed quite terribly and now I couldn’t wait for my contract to end so that I could fly off back to Scotland and forget New York and all that had happened to me there. But I also knew that I could never forget Ed. I wandered back towards my temporary home and I had almost reached the road when a figure approached me out of the gloom. I was on my guard at once.

 “Spare some change, mister?” He asked.

 I recognised the voice instantly.


 “Yeah,” he said. “I hear you been looking for me.”

 I couldn’t think of a thing to say. My eyes filled up with tears and the love I felt for the man welled up in my breast again. I flung my arms around him and I wept aloud. I felt Ed’s arms tighten around me and he stroked my back gently.

 “I done a bad thing to you, Jack,” he said hoarsely. “After all you done for me, buddy.”

 “Where have you been?” I said. “I’ve looked all over for you, Ed. I’ve been worried sick about you.”

 “I’m okay,” he said. “I ain’t been on the booze. I needed to think on what I’d done. I hit you, Jack. You, the guy who picked me out of the gutter. I lashed out and I hit you.”

 “Ed, if you’d really hit me… .”

 “It don’t matter, Jack,” Ed interrupted. “I got stinkin’ drunk an’, yeah, I guess I set out to keep you’n your buddy from getting’ it on together. Then I got mad ‘cos I felt such a jerk an’ when the guy tol’ me to go I just lost it.”

 He paused and looked up into my eyes.

 “Then you, mister Big Hero, stepped in to stop me from layin’ him out – an’ I would’ve, Jack – an’ that made me so mad that, just for a second, I wanted to beat the crap out of you. I couldn’t do that, not to you, Jack, but I was so riled an’, confused I guess, that I just didn’t know what to do. So I hit you.” He shrugged his shoulders and continued to hold my gaze.

 “But why, for God’s sake, Ed?” I demanded. “I mean you don’t even know Lew.”

 “It ain’t who he is, Jack,” Ed said with a huge sigh. “I guess I was jealous of the guy.”

 “Jealous? Why?”

 “’Cos you love him.”

 “And I love you, too,” I protested. “Ed, Lew and I have been friends for years and years. Of course I love him.”

 “You sleep with him,” Ed said defiantly.

 “Yes, I do sleep with him. We have sex and we have a laugh but that’s all there is to it. Lew and I like the same things and we’ll always be close but we have our own lives, Ed.”

 “Anyhow, Jack,” he said looking away. “I just came to say I’m sorry. I coudln’ believe you’d been lookin’ for me after what I done. I won’t trouble you no more.”

 As he turned to leave I gripped his arm and turned him back towards me.

 “So that’s it, is it?” I sighed. “You’re just going to walk away?”

 “I got nothin’ you want, Jack.”

 “I think that’s for me to decide, Ed,” I said. “You’re my friend – at least I thought you were.”

 “I ain’t been much of a friend.”

 I bunched my fist and I hit him, not very hard, on the jaw. He staggered back a couple of steps and gaped at me.

 “Okay, does that help?” I snapped. “Now we’re even.”

 I saw a tear run down his cheek and he took a step towards me. I went to him and I took him in my arms and held him tightly.

 “And now I am gonna kiss you,” I said mimicking his accent. “Not for sex or nothin’ but just for me bein’ me and you
bein’ the biggest ….. “

 “Schmuck?” He supplied.

 “That’ll do. The biggest schmuck I’ve ever met.”

 I leant down and I kissed him just as he had done to me one fateful day not so long ago.

 My entire being - body, heart and soul - cried out to be with him. Never in my life had I felt that I needed so badly to be with another man. I didn’t want to let him go but I had to. Until he decided for himself that he wanted to be with me then I would just have to suffer the terrible ache of my unfulfilled love for the man.

 “I never meant to hurt you, Jack,” he whispered. “Somethin’ inside’a me just couldn’t take the thought of you bein’ with that other fag.”

 “I know you didn’t,” I said gently. “But you have to understand that he’s my friend – he’s been my friend for a very long time, Ed. I love him but I’m not in love with him and he feels the same way about me. When we get together we have sex because that’s the way our friendship works. I do have a sex life, Ed.”

 Ed sighed heavily and smiled thinly at me. He looked so vulnerable and sad in the dim light of the lamps.

 “So how does it work with you’n’me?” He asked. “I do love you, Jack – you know I do – but what if it never goes any further?”

 “It doesn’t matter, Ed,”  I said firmly. “You don’t have to be gay to be my friend - I’m quite capable of being friends with straight guys. Okay, it might be difficult at first but I get used to the limits. I can love you as a friend and I can still admire you as a man.”

 He grinned suddenly and shook his head slowly.

 “You can admire all you want, buddy,” he said. “I am flattered that you think I’m a hunk an’ it makes me feel kinda happy an’ warm inside to be with you. Half a' me would make love with you in a minute, buddy, but there’s that other half….. “

 I grinned back at him.

 “I hope it would take more than a minute,” I said.

 Ed took a second to catch on to what I’d meant but then he laughed and smiled shyly up at me.

 “Okay, two minutes.”

 We walked back to the entrance to the apartment building. I felt an even deeper bond with my friend than ever before and I knew he felt it, too.

 “You gonna ask me up for coffee?” He said as I fished my keycard out of my pocket.

 I faced him and I smiled grimly and shook my head.

 “I daren’t, Ed,” I said sadly. “If you come up there with me now…….. .”

 “I know,” he sighed. “An’ I will not do that to you, Jack. I’ll make up my own mind soon enough. You’re right, buddy, I
know I have to work this out by myself.”

 “It has to be right, Ed,” I said. “You have to do it because you want it – not because I want you to. I know you’d go with me now but how would you feel afterwards?”

 “Dunno,” he said with a shrug. “I guess that’s the problem.” 

 We said our goodnights and we hugged each other briefly again then he turned and walked away. I stood and watched for a moment and then I went inside.

 Life went on regardless. It’s ironic, thinking back, that in those few months I had more approaches and attempted pick-ups than I’d had in my entire life up until then. I was never sure how Ed would react when I told him. Sometimes he would laugh it off and call me some hideous name but other times he’d get quiet and brooding. I never concealed anything from him, however, as that could have been disastrous. I also didn’t accept any of the approaches either.

 There had to be a breaking point, though, when it all got too much for both of us. It happened after I’d had a particularly bad day with the clients. I’d gone to a gay club I knew for a drink and just to watch the hot, young bodies gyrating and grinding together on the packed dance floor. About ten thirty, as I was just going to leave, a rather gorgeous young guy came and sat down beside me at the bar. He smiled at me and he said hello and so we talked for a while. I bought him a drink and then he asked me if I wanted to dance. I was in just the wrong mood to refuse and I let him lead me into the hot, sweaty, testosterone laden fugue on the dance floor. Russ was his name and he was a very hot young guy, no more than twenty or so. He wore a skin tight white tee-shirt and a pair of form-hugging, well faded blue jeans which left nearly nothing to the imagination. I danced with him for a couple of songs and I was beginning to feel the red heat of lust stir in my loins. Russ must have picked up on that as he was suddenly behind me. I felt his arms go around my waist as he pulled us tightly together. I could feel the firmness of his semi-erect cock press against me and then his hand was grabbing at my own crotch. I felt hot breath on my neck and then sharp teeth gently nipped my right earlobe. Almost without thinking I slid my hand between us and grasped his hardening dick. I twisted round to face him and our lips met and fused together in a seething storm of desire. He grabbed my hand away from his crotch and dragged me out of the throng on the dance floor. Half running and stumbling all the way I followed him outside. He drew me into an alleyway at he side of the building and, in a little way, he stopped and leaned against the wall. It was gloomy in the alley but I could still see him, young and beautiful, in the dim light that permeated in from the street.

 I stepped close in to him and our lips met again. His hand grabbed my raging erection and began to stroke it firmly through my trousers. I seized his and began to work it in like fashion. His tongue pushed between my teeth and I tasted what lingered of the drinks and other things he had consumed that evening. I felt my zip being pulled down and his hand went inside and freed my jerking cock from the confines of my briefs. His fly was buttoned but it took little effort to undo them and get my hand inside the tight blue jeans. His briefs were quite damp from where his pre-come had soaked into the material. Slowly I knelt down until I could bury my face in the aromatic heat of that young, hard, body. His hands rested lightly on my shoulders as he began to thrust gently against my face.

 I was gone – lost in the seething torrent of emotion and desire which raged through my flesh. I yanked down the front of his briefs and engulfed the head of his dick in my mouth. I heard him moan quietly and his hands began to stroke and caress my head and shoulders. I worked on him with my lips and tongue as the fire of my desire urged me on. He began to thrust deeper and faster and I knew he was about to come. I didn’t try to stop him and suddenly I tasted his hot seed jetting into my waiting throat. I didn’t release him until I was certain that he had given me his all and then I stood up again to let him give me my reward. He didn’t hesitate. He went down on me with the same fervour as I had on him. My senses reeled as he drew me into the eager warmth of his sweet young mouth and in a few seconds I had emptied myself in a crashing orgasm which made me cry out in the rank gloom of the alley. We kissed again briefly and then we got tidied up and went our separate ways. There were no promises of phone calls or further meetings. We’d had our moment and it was the next morning before I discovered that my wallet was missing. 

  I debated whether to report the loss to the police but, in the end, I had to or risk being liable for any transactions that the little bastard might have made on my credit card. There was nothing else of any great value in it – about sixty dollars in cash and a few old receipts was about all.

 Then I had to tell Ed what had happened. It was Saturday night and he and I had gotten into the habit of going out for a meal and maybe a film on Saturdays. Afterwards he’d either come back with me to my place or I’d go with him out to The Bronx. He’d have a coffee and I’d have tea or a soft drink then we’d say our goodnights. Once in a while he’d even stay overnight in the other bedroom or I’d sleep on the couch at his place. On this particular Saturday we had gone back to Ed’s place.

 “So,” he said handing me a mug of tea. “You want to tell me what’s been on your mind all evening?”

 He sat down beside me and waited expectantly. He’d also said “want to” instead of “wanna”. I’d taught him to speak
“more Uptown” as he’d wished and he could even manage a fair Scottish accent when he liked but speaking more grammatically was still something he had to think about and he didn’t tend to do it so much when we were relaxing. I loved the way he normally talked.

 So I told him what had happened. He didn’t say a word as I spoke but I could tell by his face that he was angry.

 “So, let me get this straight,” he said when I’d done. “You went into some sleazy pick up joint, you danced with some slimeball kid half your age who drags you outside up some stinkin’ alley an’ you got it on together?”

 I nodded.

 “You tryin’ to get yourself killed or what? Jesus, Jack. I mean, I’ve tried to understand you an’ what you are an’ it ain’t seemed so bad until now. You was robbed, buddy. You could’ve been laid on a slab down at the morgue right now.
Did you want it that bad?”

 “Yes, I wanted it that badly!” I snapped more in embarrassment than anger.

 “I guess you got more’n you expected,” he said quietly.

 “I felt better.”

 “Why? ‘Cos some punk kid come on to you? Maybe he just saw a sad ol’ guy who looked like a soft touch.”

 I was humiliated and stung by his words and Ed saw that in my face. He put his hand on my shoulder and I saw regret in his eyes.

 “I didn’t mean that like it sounded,” he said.

 “No?” I said, shrugging his hand off. “He wasn’t more than four years younger than you.”


 “I’m a sad old guy, am I?” I said getting angrily to my feet. “Oh, and you’d know of course that I’m a soft touch!”

 “Jack, I’ve never asked you for one thing.”

 “No, Ed – no, you haven’t,” I said coldly, “and neither did he. He took it just the same.”

 Ed sat back on the couch and looked sadly up at me.

 “Is that all you think of me?”

 “I don’t know what I think,” I said. “No, I think I’ll go home now.”


 “It’s okay, Ed.” I said as I made for the door. “I know where I stand now.”

 And I left him like that. In my heart I knew that Ed regarded me as neither sad nor old but some perverse part of me wanted him to know and to suffer a little of what I had been suffering. I was in love with him and it hurt.

 After that night we didn’t see each other so much. Really, Ed no longer needed any financial support from me. He had his job and, in spite of the rift between us, he stayed off the booze. He went back to his boxing training most evenings but he still came round on Thursdays for his lessons. I felt really miserable but I have a stubborn streak and it was Ed who had called me sad and old so it was up to him to apologise first. But he never mentioned that night and so neither did I. All the fun and warmth had gone from our friendship and it seemed doomed to die.

 Then, one Wednesday afternoon, a man I didn’t know came to see me at my office.

 “You know Ed Hillman?” He asked me.

 “I know him. Mister….?”

 “You can call me Cy,” he went on. “You’re his buddy, yes?”

 My heart froze. What had this man come to tell me?

 “He’s my friend, yes. Has something happened to him?”

 “Nah! Not yet, at least,” Cy said. “He’s got a bout comin’ up Friday.”

 “He didn’t tell me.”

 “That’s why I’m tellin’ you,” the man said rolling his eyes expressively. “He pushed hard for this match, Jack – too hard if you ask me. He ain’t ready to take a guy like Crawford.”

 “Lex Crawford?” I asked, aghast. I’d heard of Lex Crawford.

 “You know the guy?”

 “I know he’s highly rated and I know he’s got a reputation for going in hard. Ed talked about him once or twice.”

 “He’ll go far,” Cy told me. “An’ he don’t care who he tramples on the way.”

 “Look, Cy, I appreciate you coming to tell me this but if you’re hoping I can stop Ed from fighting this man then forget it.”

 “I didn’t come for that,” Cy said. “I come because your buddy could use some support in his corner. He’s gonna get the crap beaten out of him and he’s gonna have the crowd baying for his blood while it happens. He’s gonna need a friend.”

 “Okay, I’ll be there,” I said. “How happy he’s going to be to see me I don’t know.”

 “He’ll be happy, Jack. Trust me on that.”

 Cy left me holding a slightly grubby ticket for the event. The evening comprised four bouts in all and Ed’s was the third. I toyed with the idea of telling him I was going to be at the fight but I decided against it. I couldn’t concentrate on anything for the next couple of days.

 Friday evening duly arrived and I made my way to the boxing club, which was hosting the event, in downtown Manhattan. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of boxing. I can’t see the enjoyment in watching two men trying to knock each other senseless. In the interval between the first two bouts Cy came to find me.

 “You wanna come see him before he goes in the ring?” He asked.

 “I don’t think he’ll be too happy if I do that,” I said.

 “Okay, let me make this easy for you, Jack,” Cy said with an evil grin. “You can either walk with me or I can carry you. Which’ll it be?”

 “I’ll walk,” I said jumping to my feet. “Did he put you up to this?”

 “Nah! He don’t know squat, Jack, but I knew you should be here. That guy Ed? He never stops talkin’ ‘bout you. You guys need to get yourselves squared.”

 I followed him dumbly. Who was this Cy? How much did he know about Ed and I and what was he up to? We passed through a door at the back of the club and into a brightly lit corridor which had several doors opening off it. There was an overpowering smell of sweat, liniment and man. Cy stopped outside the third door on the left and jerked his thumb towards it.

 “In there,” he said. “I’ll make sure y’ain’t disturbed until it’s fight time.”

 “Thanks,” I said uncertainly.

 I knocked gently on the door and waited politely. There was no response from inside.

 “Jesus H. Christ!” Cy muttered under his breath.

 He brushed me aside and threw the door open. He grabbed me roughly by the shoulder, propelled me bodily into the room and slammed the door behind me.

 “That you Cy?” came Ed’s voice from behind another door. “I’m takin’ a leak here.”

 “It’s me, Ed,” I said.

 There was a pause.



 The door opened and he came into the room. He was wearing white boxing trunks with a blue stripe down each side and one of those shiny robes with his name on the back. I took one look at him and my eyes began to fill up with tears. He looked at me sadly and I just melted. I went to him and I put my arms around him and I held him tightly. He didn’t protest but he didn’t reciprocate.

 “I’m sorry, Ed,” I whispered tearfully. “I’m so sorry. I should never have said those things to you.”

 I felt his arms go around me and now he held me as I held him.

 “Yeah, well I should’a been more thoughtful, too, buddy,” he said. “Jack, you know I don’t think you’re old ‘r sad. I just meant that was how that punk kid saw you.”

 “I know,” I said. “Damn it, Ed, I’ve missed you such a lot these past weeks.”

 “Hey, I missed you, too,” he said with a hint of a smile. “Even when I was with you.”

 “I hurt you, my friend,” I said, standing back a little so that I could face him eye to eye. “I hurt you and you didn’t deserve that. The worst part of it is that I meant to, Ed. I felt so cheap and humiliated that I wanted to make you hurt the way I do sometimes when I can’t show you how much I love you.”

 “Jack, I know how much you love me,” he said, his eyes shining. “An’ you know how much I love you. You ain’t forgotten that first night so soon? Heck, Jack we loved each other right from the start - okay, maybe just as friends but
I can’t help being the way I am any more’n you can.”

 I nodded slowly and I smiled tearfully at him.

 “Now who’s the schmuck?” I said.

 He socked me gently on the jaw with his fist and he grinned at me.

 “We’re the same, you’n me,” he said. “Bull headed an’ too damn proud, buddy.”

 “I very nearly wrecked our friendship, Ed,” I said. “Forgive me?”

 “Look, Jack, it wasn’t all your fault,” he said putting his hands on my shoulders. “I could’ve climbed down but I didn’t. I’ll never do that again, buddy. I swear.”

 “I want you to know something while we’re clearing the air,” I said. “I don’t want to keep anything from you, and I’ll understand if you can’t accept it. I’m in love with you, Ed. I have been right from the outset.”

 “You think I didn’t know that already?” He said gently. “I ain’t so dumb, Jack.”

 “You ain’t dumb at all, Ed,” I said.

 I felt the warmth of our friendship spark into life again. The tide of true feelings that we had for one another surged through our hearts and flowed back into our souls where it belonged. We hugged each other tightly again and I knew the harm had been undone. Ed and I were as close as ever whether we deserved it or not.

 “How’d you know I was here?” Ed asked at last.

 “Cy came and told me,” I said. “He gave me a ticket and then he came and found me in the audience and threatened to carry me through here if I didn’t walk on my own. He’s very….. direct.”

 “Yeah, that’s Cy alright,” Ed said with a little laugh. “I guess I laid it all on him these past few weeks. I never felt so bad in my whole life, Jack. He kept on telling me I should go talk to you but I wouldn’t so I guess he decided he’d try you.”

 “I’m glad he did, Ed.”

 “Yeah, so’m I buddy. I missed you like a part of me was gone.”

 “I think maybe we’ve learned a lesson.”

 “Yeah, we shouldn’t clam up on each other.”

 There was a lot of noise filtering through from the auditorium. The second bout was well under way.

 “Jack, will you do something for me?” Ed asked uncertainly.

 “Anything,” I said firmly.

 “Don’t watch the bout – please?”


 “’Cos I’m gonna get wasted, buddy, an’ I do not want you to have to see that.”

 “You might not.”

 “Jack, there is no way I’m gonna beat Crawford.”

 “So why did you push so hard to get this fight?”

 “You really wanna know?”

 “Yes, I want to know.”

 “Because I wanted to get wasted, Jack. I hurt the one guy in the whole world who ever gave a damn about me – an’ not just once either. I just wished you’d smacked me in the mouth, buddy, but you’d never do that – not for real – so I got this bout.”

 “That’s crazy, Ed,” I said, stunned by the revelation. “There’s no way I’d ever want anything like that to happen to you.”

 “I know that, Jack,” he sighed. “I guess maybe it gets to me, too, that I can’t be with you the way you’d like sometimes.”

 “Can’t you call it off?”

 “Nah,” he said. “Anyway I get twenty five hundred bucks if I go more’n three rounds.”

 “Fuck that, Ed!” I said loudly. “He might really hurt you!”

 “Jack he will really hurt me – an’ I might even hurt him some. That’s the whole point.”

 “It’s barbaric!”

 “You know I always wanted to do this, buddy. Well, I’m doin’ it now. Maybe I started out with the wrong reason but now…. Well, now I just wanna do it an’ find out if I’m cut out for this game.”

 “Then I’m staying,” I said firmly. “Cy said you needed somebody in your corner and that somebody is me, Ed.”

 “You sure, Jack?”

 “I’m sure.”

 Cy came back shortly after that. I watched quietly as he wrapped bandages around Ed’s hands and then laced them into the boxing gloves. Ed looked at me and I looked back, not at a boxer, but at the most precious thing in my life. Someone banged on the door and yelled that it was “Showtime”. Ed smiled at me and then we were on our way back to the arena. 

 The bout went to five rounds and, as he had warned me, Ed got thoroughly wasted. I felt every blow he took and when Crawford finally dealt the coup de grâce and Ed went down I was in tears. I struggled out of my seat and fought my way through the baying crowd to the ringside. Cy was in the ring tending to Ed. My friend was dazed and still lying on his side on the canvas but he saw me and a bloody little smile creased his face. Cy nodded at me approvingly and then tilted his head towards the door to the changing rooms. I followed as he helped Ed out of the ring and through the auditorium, the jeers of the crowd ringing in my ears as we went. He took Ed straight into a side room where a doctor waited to examine him. He came back out and, putting a friendly arm around my shoulders, he led me back to the changing room.

 “He’s okay,” he said. “How’re you?”

 “I want to kick seven bells out of that man Crawford but otherwise I’m fine,” I said.

 “You talked to Ed?”

 “We talked, yes, Cy,” I said. “Thank you.”

 “I feel like I know you,” he said with a grin, ”’Jack’ this an’ ‘Jack’ fuckin’ that.”

 “He talked about me?”

 “You could say that,” Cy said wryly. “Look, buddy, I don’t know exac’ly what there is between yous two guys – an I don’t wanna know – but Ed really looks up to you an’ he needs you. He never tol’ me what it was got between you but it broke him apart I can tell you.”

 “It was so stupid,” I admitted. “Just too much pride and stubbornness on both sides.”

 “So you made it up now?”

 “Thanks to you, yes.”

 “That’s good ‘cos you can tell he ain’t never gonna be a contender in the ring. He’s got the guts and the heart but he ain’t got the power or the stamina. Show him another way, buddy.”

 “Why did you come to me, Cy?” I asked.

 “Once upon a time I was just a green kid like him,” he said. “Maybe in more ways than one. I didn’t have no folks’r family to speak of an’ I didn’t have what it takes in the ring either so I started training other guys. This I can do. I never had a friend an’ nobody never gave a shit ‘bout me like you do for Ed an’ I know you can get him over this. Don’t screw it up.”

 “I won’t, Cy.”

 The door opened and Ed came in supported by another man. The man helped him to sit down and then he left.

 “You done your best, kid,” Cy said gently. “You okay?”

 Ed nodded painfully.

 “Give him a while then get him outa here,” Cy told me. “An’ you, Ed – you know what you gotta do now.”

 “I know, Cy,” Ed said quietly. “I guess I maybe always knew.”

 Cy nodded to us both and then he left.

 “What a nice guy,” I said.

 “Yeah,” Ed agreed. “One in a million.”

 I helped him to get dressed and then I took him home. He had had his bout and he’d been thoroughly flattened but he was happy. He was bloodied and bruised but he was content. I cleaned him up and put him to bed and then I went and stretched out on the couch in the other room as I had so often done before our falling out.

 The next morning I went through and peeped quietly round the door to the bedroom. Ed was flaked out on his back wearing nothing but a pair of the white briefs I had  bought for him almost exactly one year ago. He opened one rather blackened eye and smiled sleepily at me.

 “You stayed,” he said hoarsely.

 “You didn’t think I’d leave you alone in a state like that, did you?”

 “I guess I did not, no,” he said.

 “You okay, Ed?”

 “I am, Jack. I’m great.”

 “D’you want anything?”

 “Yes. I do want one thing.”

 “Which is.... ?” I asked when he didn’t seem to be forthcoming.

 “Come here,” he said in his “uptown” voice.

 I went over to the bed and he gazed up at me, a strange, deep look in his eyes. He took my hand and, raising it slowly to his lips, he kissed it gently.


 “What I want right now, Jack, is you my friend.”

 I gaped dumbly at him.

 “You said that when I was sure I knew what I wanted then I should tell you,” He said softly. “Well, now I’m sure, Jack. I want to be with you - all the way in every way.”

 He pulled gently and I sat down on the bed. He sat up and enfolded me in his strong, gentle arms. He eyes gazed deep into my soul and our lips met, melted and merged in a kiss which sealed our fates together forever.

 “Ow!” He said with a pained little smile as we drew apart. “That smarts.”

 “Maybe we should wait,” I said.

 “Like hell!” He said firmly. “You waited long enough, Jack. I’m okay – just…. you know?”

 “Be gentle with you?” I chuckled.

 “Yeah, I’m a tad sore, Jack,” he said, ”but now you can touch,” he said. “Touch me anywhere, anyhow.”

 I didn’t hesitate this time. Gently I ran my hand across his abdomen as he lay back again. I could see he was almost fully erect inside the tight white briefs. I ran my hand up across his chest and then I cupped his cheek in my hand and just looked into his quiet, shining eyes.

 “God, Ed, I’m scared,” I said with a nervous smile. “I’ve wanted this so much but now…. .”

 He smiled back at me.

 “Hey, I’m scared, too. This is all new for me, Jack. I never loved another guy before.”

 “You’re so nice, Ed,” I said softly. “I’ve never met anyone like you.” 

 “Same here.”

 I sat quietly just holding his hand. 

“So, you gonna get down to your shorts for me, Jack?” he asked. “I guess I wanna see if you’re as horny as me.”

 I stood up and faced him. There was no doubt I was as horny as he was as evidenced by the bulge in my trousers, but I did as he asked and stripped down until I was clad only in my pale blue briefs. I lay down beside him and he, very slowly, reached out and tentatively touched my cock.

 “Jeez that is nice,” he breathed. “Jack, I’m done holdin’ out on you, buddy.”

 He rolled over on top of me and our lips met again and again. Now our hands ranged all over each other’s bodies. I put my hands on his wonderfully rounded rear and pulled him tightly against me. He moaned quietly and then he was kissing me on my lips, my forehead, my chin. I sank into a delirium of happiness, not quite daring to believe that this was real.

 “I want you, Jack,” he whispered.

 “Then you’ve got me.” I said.

 For a while we just lay and looked and enjoyed being close to each other. I had longed for that moment so much that I never wanted it to be over. Ed curled himself in close to me and rested his head on my chest. He was shaking.

 “I love you, Jack,” he said. “I guess I’ve always loved you – right from the very first. It just took a while for me to understand.”

 I hugged him to my chest and nuzzled his hair. He raised his face to mine and we kissed again. It was just like that first brief kiss we had shared so long ago, so unlike any other kiss I had ever shared with any other man. Our souls melted together into one and they sang of their joy in the cathedral of our hearts.

 “Love me, Jack,” Ed whispered.

  I rolled on to my side and I very gently urged Ed to lie on his back. I kissed him again and then I began to work my way down his hard young body. I kept well away from his poor battered ribs but, even so, sometimes he’d wince as I touched a tender spot. I laid my head on the soft, warm flesh of his stomach and I very gently ran my hand down on to his inner thigh. I watched as his cock reared up again, straining against its white cotton bonds. A large bead of pre-come glistened briefly on the fabric and then sank into the fibres making a spreading wet area around the head of his manhood. My own cock responded to the sight and I could feel my briefs’ front becoming slick from my own excitement. I moved down a little more and I began to lick and massage his cock with my mouth. Ed moaned softly and I felt him push up against me. I released him form the confining cotton and took him into my mouth. He cried out and I felt his hands seize my head and his fingers twisted themselves into my hair as I worked gently on his bursting manhood. I let him go when I sensed he was getting close and I moved down further and gave my attention to his testicles. They were neat and quite hairy and they tasted wonderfully of all the essences that make up the true flavour of man. Ed began to pull me back up towards his waiting lips. I paused to pop his cock back into his briefs – I wanted to see if he’d indulge my little fetish - and then I let him have his way.

 Ed stared deep into my eyes and then he pushed me down on my back. He rained little kisses all over my face and neck and then he began to work down my body. He teased my nipples with his tongue and teeth and then he moved further down until he was kissing along the shaft of my cock inside my briefs as I had  done to him. They were quite wet now from my pre-come and his ministrations. It felt so good. He came back up and kissed me again.

 “I can’t hold out much more, Jack,” he whispered. “I’m gonna come, buddy.”

 As soon as he said that I felt my own final rush begin. The thought of him coming in those briefs sent me racing towards the brink of orgasm.

 “So am I, Ed,” I sighed. “I want to make you shoot in those briefs.”

 “I will be happy to oblige,” he said. “Anythin’, my friend.”

 I began to stroke him in earnest and he went to work on me. It took not a minute. Together we erupted into our underwear. I saw bead after bead of white spurt through the cotton of his briefs. I felt my own mighty contractions jetting my release into my underwear and the pale blue turned dark and white streaked where I came for him. My head began to spin and I felt light as air as the aftershocks subsided.

 He seized me in his arms and we held tightly to each other.

 “Jack, Jack, Jack,” he whispered. “I never felt anything like that in my life before. I thought I was never going to stop coming.”

 “You did the same for me,” I gasped. “Nobody has ever made me feel like that, Ed. Nobody.”

 “I knew you’n’me were something special, Jack. You’ve stuck by me an’ I have not given you an easy ride, buddy. You never let me down an’ I know I hurt you an’ I disappointed you an’ I was downright nasty to you when I got drunk but you never deserted me. You were always here for me.”

 “And I will always be, Ed.”

 “So, do I go to Scotland with you or do you stay here with me?”

 “Is that what you want? Us to stay together?”

 “I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

 “I’ll stay, Ed. Gladly.”

 He leant over and kissed me warmly.

 “Nah!.” he said with a mischievous grin. “I guess there’re enough fags in this town. We’ll go to Scotland, Jack. You’ve given enough for me. It’s my turn to do some giving back now.”

 “You don’t ......”

 “I know,” he said placing his hand gently over my mouth. “Remember what you said to me when I asked you why you was helping me? You said it was because you wanted to – well I want to do this for you, my friend.”

 “It’s a lot to give up, Ed,” I said, holding him gently. “This is your home, your country.”

 “My home is with you,” he said firmly. “You picked me up an’ you’ve cared for me an’ you’ve loved me no matter what, Jack. I don’t need any other home'r country than what I have with you.”

 At that moment I couldn’t help thinking again of the wisdom of the Native Americans. I had, maybe, saved his life and now I was going to have to take the responsibility for my actions. I smiled quietly to myself as I cuddled up closer to the man I loved. It would be a responsibility I would bear willingly and happily to my dying day.


© 2004 George Gardner