Like most average towns in England, where I grew up was split into three. The good. The bad. And the mundane.
James, my little ginger twink, lived in the good. West and high on a hill. Where redundant old halls and stables had been converted into huge, red-brick homes complete with winding driveways and security gates.
I lived in the bad. A stretch of land to the east. On the outskirts. Bulldozed and flattened for mass-built housing. All with the same cheap, rust-coloured brick and white, plastic rimmed windows. Crammed together. Forgotten about.
Everything else was the mundane.
Boxy, bog-standard buildings. Some new, most dated. Some old and full of character but uncared for and unloved; weeds and rubbish tarnishing any potential. A few parks. An old creek. A couple of schools. Churches. A graveyard. All around a town centre overrun with coffee-shop chains and charity shops, mobile phone unlockers and soulless clothing brands.
Mr. Price lived in the mundane.
Every street and lane set out practically identically. The same grey tarmac. The same yellow glaring out of the same dull metal streetlamps. The same attempt at a hanging basket or hedgerow here and there.
Every house with its own patch of grass or gravel or driveway. All with a back garden, walled off and hidden from the world. Curtains closed. "Beware of dog" signs. The occasional cat scuttling across the road. Everything about Overslade Lane was as unremarkable as anticipated. His house, a two-storey terrace, fitted in perfectly.
The motif continued inside.
As his house key chimed inside a glass bowl and a light clicked on, it was like any other town house. A wide-ish hallway with a staircase in front. Livingroom to the left with a sofa, coffee table and TV. Past the stairs to a dining room. Through even further to a kitchen. Tiled. Clean.
The only real difference between his and the places I'd found myself in since men had begun inviting me into them, was his was noticeably bare. There was furniture. Pretty much every household necessity. But all brand new. No scuffs or scratches. Factory-fresh smell.
There were no photographs or artworks on the walls. No knickknacks or meaningful treasures dotted about. Instead there were empty nail heads poking out of plaster, bordered by rectangular patches of brighter paint. Or indents in the carpet where something heavy had stood.
Any other visitor would be forgiven in thinking it was a recent purchase. A new home freshly moved into. A blank canvas. I could see the real story staring me in the face.
The story of a house that had once belonged to a man and wife. Big and spacious and close to town. Ideal for little feet to run around. A perfect existence. Until one day the man had betrayed his wife. Beyond repair.
Enraged and broken she'd cleared him out. Took everything that wasn't nailed down, never to return again. The man had no choice but to start his life afresh. How he wanted. The way it was meant to be.
`You ok?' he said, passing me a glass of ice cold water.
Jumping out of my daydream I took a long gulp. Its chill soothed my sore throat. Placing it on the oak dining table I watched him take a seat opposite me.
`Excellent,' I croaked.
`That throat of yours took one hell of a beating.'
I nodded. Eyes and smile wide. Said, `It was worth it.'
And it was. Every ruthless thrust.
Not in my wildest wet dreams had I thought I'd wind up at his house. One day, definitely, but not immediately. My initial plan had been to fall over and ask for a lift home. Suck him off in his car at best. I knew how much he enjoyed that. Get his number at worst.
But that. Against a tree with my hands tied behind my back. His load deep inside of me and an invitation into his home. That was a phenomenal result. Surreal. For a second I couldn't help but entertain the idea that I'd choked to death, and with some stroke of sheer luck, found myself in heaven.
`What are you smiling at?' he said.
`Nothing,' I said, suddenly aware of his piercing blue eyes on mine. Glistening in the harsh light from a bare bulb overhead. `I was thinking about earlier.'
`What about it?'
`It was a nice surprise.'
His turn to laugh.
`You can say that again,' he said, relaxing into his chair and placing both hands on top of his shaved head. His biceps and triceps bulging out from under his t-shirt still darkened by sweat under his armpits. `That was one of the best runs I've ever had.'
Smirking I took my trainers off. Used my heels to slip them onto the floor. Then I reached towards him under the table with my right foot. Found his leg. Ran my foot up until I felt the hot, softness of his package under the thick black cotton of his rugby shorts. Kept my foot there, leg straight, until the softness became hard.
`Me too,' I said.
Taking my foot in his hands he lifted it so my heel pushed down onto his cock. He was almost as thick as my heel. He dug his thumbs into the sole of my foot and began to massage, grinding me onto him as he went.
`How's your knee?' he said.
`Much better,' I said enjoying the release running all the way up my legs and into my lower back.
`And your throat?'
Leaning forward I scooped up my glass. My leg muscles aching as I stretched. I took another sip of water. Relaxed back and said, `Getting there.'
`Good lad. I'll go easier on you next time.'
`Don't you fucking dare.'
For five seconds we stared at each other, our slow breath and sweaty scents mingling in the air around us. Him smirking like he was reliving every second of the last hour in his head. Me forcing my lips from reaching up to my ears as his words ricocheted through my mind.
We both tried to speak. Our sounds crashed into each other in an unintelligible mix of noise. He nodded. Me first.
`No please, sir, after you,' I said.
`Cheeky,' he said, lifting my foot and letting it fall back to the floor. He looked me up and down. The half he could see above the table between us at least. Sat up in his chair. Rearranged himself. Cleared his throat. `I was going to ask why your parents wouldn't be worried.'
`What's it to you?' I said, channelling as much cheekiness as I could.
`I might not be a teacher anymore but it's still a school night.'
`Do you want me to leave?' I said, knowing full well he didn't.
`No,' he said, his eyes almost glazing over as two thick veins bulged up his arms. Like he was grabbing onto something hard and long and thick under the table. `You've only just got here. But I don't need some irate parent on my back.'
`Don't worry about them. They don't know where I am.'
`As long as you're sure.'
`Positive,' I said.
Three letters formed in my throat. The word took shape. But before it flew out of my mouth I stopped myself. I didn't need to ask why. Why he was so paranoid. I already knew the answer.
While it seemed Mr. Price had taken to his new life as a confirmed bachelor with flying colours, picking up boys in the park and taking them back to his recently refurbished pad, he still had wounds. Scars from what had happened inside these very walls.
I wondered where his bedroom was. If him and Adam had had any fun before venturing upstairs. In the living room. In the kitchen. On this table. I wondered if his wife had heard them. Or if she'd come straight upstairs. Wandered into her room like any other day, only to find her husband on his back with a six-foot-six sixteen year-old on top of him.
Curiosity got the better of me and I couldn't help myself. Although I should have listened to that old saying. The one about cats and what curiosity does to them.
`Just moved in?' I said.
He narrowed his eyes on mine. Smiled. Laughed. A quick one-two from behind a closed mouth. Not forced but not gleeful. Like he was waiting for me to say exactly what I'd said.
`You really are a sneaky little bugger aren't you?' he said, still smiling.
I pulled my best confused face. Plastered it from chin to hairline. It helped that I was genuinely confused. I'd given nothing away and stuck to my plan. But a lump formed in my red, raw throat. A lump that said uh-oh.
`What do you mean?' I said.
`Come on, Oscar. Give me some credit.'
Stuck between showing my hand and keeping my cards close to my chest, I didn't know what to say. He could have been calling my bluff like he'd done in the park.
If he found out I'd coerced the information out of Adam, and then spent the last three weeks stalking him, any chance of seeing him again would go out the window. The key to my plan's success was the element of chance. He needed to believe we met by accident.
`I honestly don't get what you mean.'
He frowned. Said, `You really don't know?'
He sighed. Long and deep. Rubbed the top of his head. His palm scratching against his stubble. Leaned back in his chair. Locked his eyes on me. Deadpan.
`My wife left me. She caught me in bed with another man. Took everything.'
`How was I supposed to know that?' I said, relief flooding through my body.
`I just assumed the news had trickled down. Everyone else knows. My family. Her family. My friends. People I used to call friends. Ex-colleagues.'
I suppressed another smile.
`Is that why you left school?'
He nodded. Said, `Pretty much.'
`If it makes you feel any better, no one else at school knows. Or at least I haven't heard anything.'
`To be honest I've given up caring,' he said.
`Me too,' I said.
This time the words came straight out. Two little pieces of truth inside my brilliant lie. He raised his eyebrows. Leaned closer. Cocked his head to the side. His signature move.
`What do you mean?'
`Nothing,' I said, brushing him off.
`Come on, sexy boy, tell me.'
Something strange happened next. My body tingled all over and the hairs on my arms stood on end. I'd had plenty of men call me sexy before. Handsome. Beautiful. Gorgeous. And I've never tired of it. But from him it was different. It felt different. I suddenly found myself talking. Unable to resist his deep, masculine, mystifying voice.
`I've given up caring what people think too.'
`Age has nothing to do with it.'
`What people?' he said.
`My parents. The kids at school.'
`That I'm a faggot?' I interrupted. `Yup.'
`Don't say that word.'
We locked stares for another five seconds. I didn't have to guess what he was thinking. It flashed across his eyes. Hot like fire.
They burned with pain and sadness and fury. The same pain and sadness and fury I'd felt the first time I'd found myself on the receiving end of that hateful word.
For him it would have been worse. Everyone must have been so proud of rugby teacher Tim and his beautiful wife and their happy little life together.
`They can all fuck themselves,' I said.
He nodded slowly. Then said, `How did they find out?'
`Long story,' I said, my stomach already twisting.
I tried to ignore the memories. Memories of that Monday morning. Their taunts and jeers echoing in my ears. The cold, wet grit of the courtyard soaking my shirt and scraping open my back. Their heavy black school shoes. The deafening cracks of my ribs.
Standing he walked into the kitchen. A fridge door opened. Glass rattled. One hiss. Two hiss. Walking back in he passed me a cold beer. Its brown glass already misting over.
`We've got all night,' he said.
To be continued ...
Head over to my website to learn more about Oscar, including exclusive content about my upcoming eBook series Oscar Down Under.
Copyright Jack Ladd 2016
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