Early Sunday morning found the two friends down at the beach, catching waves...
III. Mystified at Myst
Though during the early morning glassy conditions had prevailed, the waves that day were mostly on the fat side... with an occasional 'fun' wave coming along. Slightly disappointed, yet happy to be back in the water after a whole week of hard work, both tried to make the best of the prevailing condition, paddling along and generally messing around, enjoying themselves.
"Well, guess, that's it for today..." Mayank said as they finally walked back on dry land, much before either would have preferred to.
"Don't give up so easily," replied Sandeep, "let's go to Galgibaga. Have you been there before?"
"No, it's not a beach?"
"Nah, not a real beach, but there is a lovely stretch nearby that's got some real nice breaks."
"Well, then let's go. I hate to waste my Sunday sitting on dry land, besides, after noon it will get mostly flat."
"Not this area..." Sandeep said with a smile, hefting his Merrick flyer and heading back to where he had parked his Land Cruiser.
Picking up his own board Mayank ran after him, already excited at the prospect of more surfing.
The place was quiet and the swells superb... the massive rocks around the exact point where they would expect to emerge out of the barrel adding to the spine-tingling excitement, and with his heart thumping wildly he ran in, swiftly and expertly guiding the board up and down the waves... speeding across. Doing smooth turtle-rolls and smart pop-ups... perfect bottom turns... and neat slashes... riding the waves, and zooming back towards the beach... ready to catch the next wave.
Oh, the surf... the swell... the roar of the vast ocean... the bite of salty spray in his face... The heady rush of adrenaline! At times it seemed that his whole existence depended on just these brief moments on the waves, his very being dependent on these exhilarating few seconds... rising and speeding away on the board as the sea surged and lifted him, carrying him across. He loved it, loved those fleeting seconds of spine chilling tingle... that amazing frisson of excitement coursing through his entire body, so akin to an orgasmic high... And these were the moments he lived for... He could think of nothing else, his whole universe seeming to begin and end with the rise and fall of the swell.
Thoroughly satisfied, and totally exhausted, he finally flipped over and dropped off the board and then swam back to the beach.
"Well, now eat your lunch buddy, I'm starved," Sandeep said with a bemused smile, looking at the dripping surf maniac.
"Aaahh..." sighed Mayank, dropping down by Sandeep's side, "thanks, I'm famished, could eat a horse!"
"Well, this I must confess," Sandeep said as they sat eating, "I thought I was crazy about surfing, but seeing you over the past three months, well, you take the cake buddy!" making Mayank laugh out raucously.
It was late afternoon when finally Mayank stirred, "Have to go now..." he said sitting up.
"What's the rush, huh?"
"Was thinking," Sandeep said, still not bothering to get up, "why don't we go to the farm, you keep delaying the visit, we could spend a relaxed evening together and have a chouki dinner in the cashew orchard," his eyes suddenly sparkling with the thought, "and maybe even camp out... I just need to call them and everything will be ready by the time we reach," and then quickly added with a wave of his hand and a grimace, silencing Mayank as he was about to speak, "I know, you have 'important' work at that resort of yours, and I assure you, I'll drop you at your place in the morning, with time enough to get ready for your office!"
"Um, thanks buddy, but not tonight...please," Mayank said, putting on his shirt, "some other time..."
"You keep saying that, but never do," Sandeep said, slowly sitting up, "and pray, when will that 'some-other-time' finally arrive?"
"It will, I swear, but not tonight."
"Well, I promised Ali," Mayank replied, "some new place he's taking me to, said it was a surprise."
Sandeep didn't reply, but slowly standing up walked back towards the car, "Let's go," he called as he loaded the board.
"Sorry, Sandy, he had been after me for a long time and..."
"That's OK, Mayank..." Sandeep said before he could finish, "Now get in and I'll drop you back at your place."
They drove in silence, and Mayank sensed that same tense air, that intimidating, unapproachable calm whenever Sandeep withdrew into that iron-clad shell of his... Mayank had wondered on previous occasions too, but never seemed to find an answer. One moment he was all cheer and laughter and then suddenly withdrawn, distant... wrapped up in that impenetrable silence-of-the-crypt. Was it something that he said, or was it for some other reason; well, Mayank could never fathom!
Over the months, Mayank had perceived a kind of contemptuous disdain, a cold aloofness in Sandeep, but it seemed reserved for most other people, never him. And though initially it upset him, made him wary of Sandeep, as he got to know him better, understand him better, it didn't bother him anymore. That was Sandeep... and he, Mayank, was fine with it. Maybe the privileged upbringing, being the only child, getting the best that there was... and getting away with almost everything had made him less accepting of the mundane - the follies and foibles of ordinary folks around him... Or, maybe, it was simply arrogance, arrogance that comes so easily to the rich and the powerful.
Well, the day had been good and he had enjoyed Sandeep's company... but somehow it seemed to be ending on a not-so-happy note, and that troubled him; making him wonder if he should really be bothering so much about Sandeep's occasional mood swings... or what triggers them?
Lost in his thoughts, he was jerked out of his reverie as the vehicle came to a juddering halt. "Well, catch you later," he heard Sandeep say, and looking out saw that they had reached his place. Mayank got out and took down his board, standing it up against the wall, and before he could turn around and say his good-bye, Sandeep had reversed, the car speeding away in a flurry of gravel... He stood for a while, surprised, staring after the fast receding vehicle and then with a shrug turned and walked up the short steps, unlocking the door.
"God," exclaimed Mayank, with a hint of alarm, and dismay, as he got off the motorbike, "I should have known! Myst, isn't this that new gay joint, popular with the kids?"
"Gay, only on weekends, and yes, popular with the teens," replied Ali, "but other people also visit... and we aren't exactly old!"
"And I thought you'd be taking me to a sober kind of place," Mayank went on. "Remind me the next time, never to trust you!"
"What's wrong with this place, huh?" Ali asked, parking the bike and turning to look at Mayank, "besides, who said this isn't sober? You know, the problem with you is that you carry too much baggage, you have too many issues, buddy, just let go, and enjoy life..."
Mayank remained silent.
"No one's gonna jump you, or rape you in there," Ali sniggered as he pocketed the keys and led the way.
The place was small... the air smoke filled and hazy in the low light. A few of the tables were taken, while a few odd couple sat at the long counter, with the dance floor still empty. But thankfully, the music was refreshingly low, not the usual loud, screeching throb that threatened to burst the ear-drums.
"Like it?" Ali asked, before adding, "The crowd will come in later."
Mayank didn't bother to reply as he looked around, suddenly feeling all strange, out-of-place. He saw the unfamiliar faces turning to look at them, smiling and nodding as Ali passed by. "Well, very popular with the crowd, eh?" he whispered as Ali guided him to an empty table at the far corner.
"Well, I'm not the virginal, touch-me-not, like you," Ali said, signalling the waiter, and then added, "I meet people, socialise and so, am known..."
"You know all of them..." he asked, and then in spite of himself, blurted out, "slept with all these guys?" unable to stop the question.
"I'm neither a saint, nor a slut," he answered, looking straight into Mayank's eyes, "and yes, I do sleep around, and enjoy my sex. And to answer your question, well, no, not all, but most of the tops, yes," then, with a wicked grin added after a slight pause, "and now, who is getting all gross, eh?"
"Um, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..." Mayank mumbled, feeling terribly embarrassed, but Ali waved him into silence. And since there was no where else to look without meeting a pair of curious eyes staring back, Mayank looked down at the table, conscious of all the inquisitive, and fascinated gaze directed towards their table.
Sipping his beer, he sat back with closed eyes, wondering what he was doing there, listening to the incomprehensible chatter around him, opening his eyes to smile sheepishly at the occasional guy who came over to chat with Ali, no doubt, more interested in getting an intro with the 'new-guy', rather than just renew bonds with Ali.
"Can't we leave now?" he finally asked Ali as another swaggering hunk left their table.
"There you go again," Ali said with an exasperated look, "since you are here already, you're not automatically expected to hook up, or pick up someone and take him home, so why torture yourself, huh? Relax, have a drink and look around... just watch the people, and then go home to reflect on, and rejoice your perfectly chaste, aseptic, propah existence!" And then with a twinkle in his eyes added, "By the way, when was the last time you got laid, huh?"
"Ma petite crotte, that's none of your business..." Mayank replied, giving him a condescending smile.
"My plum-pudding," Ali said, "start using it again or it will rust away and drop off one of these days!"
"It's not metal and so can't just 'rust-away'..." Mayank replied with a disgusted look.
"Besides," Ali continued, "it's recommended that you indulge in frequent sexual activity, it keeps the equipment in prime condition, and ensures a longer shelf-life. In fact, Masters and Johnson have said it. And guys, who masturbate on a regular basis, even in middle age, never get prostate cancer!"
"Oh, thank you doctor Ali," Mayank hissed, "but the only fee you'll get for your words of wisdom, is a kick on you butt..." he added throwing a quick, furtive glance at the young couple passing by, "You're terrible!"
"OK, let me finish, then we'll go," he finally said looking around, a hint of disappointment in his voice. "Not a single new face, it's the same old crowd."
"Finish it fast," Mayank said, looking at his companion's half empty glass, "and then we can go for a movie instead and maybe have dinner som..." he paused mid-sentence, his eye focussed on the entrance, unbelieving.
"What happened?" asked Ali at the sudden incomplete sentence and then catching on, turned around following Mayank's gaze... letting out a soft whistle, "Wow, real cute, mmmmm...."
"Uh..." Mayank said, suddenly realising that Ali had said something, turning his gaze back to his companion.
"Finally!" sighed Ali, with evident satisfaction, "Which of the two has caught your fancy, dude?"
"Um, nothing like that, I've... I've seen the guy before..."
"The tall guy, long hair..."
"Ah, that's Harsh, nineteen," informed Ali.
"Oh, you know him..." he asked, "comes here often?"
"Nopes, I don't really `know' him, but have seen him a couple of times."
"Oh," Mayank responded, eyes fixed on the youth, watching him walk up to the bar and sit down with his friend.
"He's doing his bachelor's at the College of Arts here, second year," Ali rattled off, seeming to know every detail. "A straight 'A' student; did some kinda summer-internship at the Institute of Oceanography this summer, is crazy about adventure sport, especially trekking and surfing... and lives alone in a rented room, not far from the college. ..."
"How... how do you know all this," Mayank interjected, genuinely impressed, and surprised.
"I keep myself informed, it helps," grinned Ali.
"And... you... you..." Mayank hesitated, "I mean..." but couldn't mouth the question.
"Relax, no, I've not been with him, and as far as I know, and I nearly know all the gossip that there is to know, no one has either!"
"What do you mean?" asked Mayank, suddenly keen, leaning closer to Ali across the table, but his eyes watching Harsh.
"He has been in Goa for a year and half now, rarely meets anyone, and never outside of a public place, you know, cafes, restaurants and the like... and always goes back home at a decent hour and never, I repeat, never takes anyone home..."
"And why this sudden interest, want me to introduce you?"
"No, not that... just asked since you seem to know so much..."
"And so, suddenly you become interested in the local gossip, huh? Or is there more to the curiosity?" Ali asked with a sly grin, eyebrows raised high.
Mayank didn't reply as he unconsciously lifted his empty glass to his mouth.
"Let me order another round..." Ali said, keenly observing him, and when he didn't respond, signalled the waiter for a refill. "He, I mean Harsh, he's form some small place a couple of hours from here, his father has some kind of farmland, and they live there..." Ali informed before suddenly stopping mid-sentence, and then with a gasp slapped his forehead, "O, fuck, Gorkarna... and that's where you had been with Sandeep... shit, Harsh too was away for the weekend. You met him there, right?"
Mayank nodded, looking at Ali, his eyes reflecting a whole range of emotions. "And who's that with him?" he finally asked, looking back at the boy.
"A college mate, nothing more, I know that guy..." Ali said with a wink and then nodded, "pal, no worry, uncle Ali will make things happen. Harsh too is a surf fanatic, so, there is no end to what waves you two might raise..." he added with a naughty grin, getting up to go and then stopped, cursing under his breath. "Uh-oh, Mayank, don't look now but we have company, el creepo is here," he said in a hushed whisper, turning back and sitting down.
"Oh no, not here!" Mayank said, totally horrified at the thought of having to put up with Lluis.
Lluis had been one of the very first, and only, gay person he had gone out to meet after coming to Goa. It had been one of those empty evening in a new and strange place, and with nothing else to do, Mayank had logged on and signed in. Lluis had sent a message and they chatted for a while... and in spite of himself, Mayank had agreed to meet Lluis, for a late night coffee...
Mayank regretted his decision as soon as they had met and got talking... From that very first moment he somehow didn't like Lluis... mostly his attitude, that single-minded quest for sex. Abruptly excusing himself, Mayank had left, leaving a very discombobulated Lluis sitting alone. But he took Mayank's rebuff as an act of `bashful nervousness' and was prepared to `help' the handsome new visitor to his home town... Besides, he wasn't someone to be put off that easily. He began calling Mayank, desperate to get him interested in having sex, refusing to give up!
It further turned off Mayank, and finally he had said it, in as many words... And almost immediately Lluis had turned spiteful, taking the rejection as a personal affront on his desirability, a reflection on his sexual worth. Lluis, till then an overtly `friendly' person, became downright hostile; ugly with frustrated anger whenever they crossed path - be it at the mall, a restaurant, or the beach... anywhere, everywhere.
Pausing at the entrance Lluis looked around, hoping he'd score tonight, being desperate for a fuck, and almost immediately spotted Mayank, and with a very pleased smile headed straight for the corner table.
"Well, well, well, who do we have here tonight..." he said as he approached them, "Mr. Iceberg himself, now, haven't we gotten lucky!"
"Lluis Faro Braganza..." Mayank smiled, "what a pleasant surprise!"
"Finally descended to the level of mere mortals, eh?" he asked, looking down at Mayank, "finally horny enough to drop your pants, huh?"
"Fuck off, Lluis," glowered Ali, eyes flashing. He knew what a nasty character Lluis was, and more importantly, his unjustified animosity towards Mayank, for not responding positively to his crass advances.
"I'm not talking to you, you slut!" Lluis retorted, eyes flaming with hostility.
"No, you're not, but you're encroaching on other people's privacy."
"You, and private, huh?" Lluis spat scornfully, "Is there a dick in the whole of Goa that hasn't explored your innards?"
"Um, ah... not exactly," Ali said in his most condescending tone, the smile cheesy, "but most have. You jealous or simply despo, huh... but hey, if you want I can spare a few. Want me to send them over?"
"So, got an itch between your legs, huh?" asked Lluis, turning back to Mayank, ignoring what Ali had just said, but his face a bright crimson with rage.
"Lluis, you are still the same, pitiable character you always were." Mayank said looking up at him with a disdainful sneer, the eyes cold and steely.
"Don't give me that dirty look..." he snapped back, glaring down at Mayank.
"Oh, I'm not giving it to you, Lluis," Mayank responded, rolling his eyes, "you came out of the womb with it," he added as Ali burst out laughing.
"Let's go..." Mayank said, suddenly standing up and taking his wallet out, dropping enough to cover the cost of their drinks and a fat tip.
"Leaving already?" Lluis asked, looking at Mayank, "Where are you off to, hon?"
"Do something more interesting, in better company..." smiled Mayank, walking away.
"Well, back to that lonely room..." Lluis called after the retreating figure, "and with this raving queen in tow? That sounds about as interesting as sitting and watching the wind blow..." he laughed.
"You're pathetic," whispered Ali close to his ears, "Don't you ever tire of your inane, infantile behaviour, huh?" he added before running after Mayank, leaving a very frustrated, and fuming Lluis behind.
"Simmer down..." Ali said, catching up with Mayank, "you never lose you're cool with guys like that."
"Nothing about losing my cool, dude," Mayank answered as they stood outside the entrance, "but please, who wants to even bother with him?"
"So, where to now?"
"Well, honestly, I'm not in the mood for anything now..." Mayank paused for a moment and then smiled, "let's go for a movie..."
"Sure..." Ali started to say and then stopped, his whole body going stiff, as he let out a surprised gasp.
"Wh... what happened?" Mayank asked, concerned.
"Did you see..." hissed Ali, dropping his voice, eyes sparkling with excitement, "that guy, just patted my butt!"
Mayank caught a fleeting glimpse of the man just as the door to the pub swung shut and smiled, "Seems to be quite a hunk... wanna try your luck?"
"You don't mind, huh?"
"Nah, you go ahead, best of luck," he smiled at his friend and turning away walked down the steps, looking out for an empty auto-rickshaw.
To be continued...
a story by outlaw
If you enjoy the story, please do mail me: email@example.com