In this chapter David tries to deal with the consequences of what happened with Michael. Somehow he has to convince himself that he’s not turning into one of the perverts he hates so much… He’s almost finished Osterley’s part of his punishment, which is good news, but he’s about to be taken off into the country with the rest of his cub pack – and that might involve a few things Baden-Powell never had in mind when he founded the Boy Scouts…
David woke up before the alarm went off the following morning. Michael was still sleeping peacefully beside him, but David himself felt no better than he had before going to sleep: his brain was still at war with his body. He desperately needed someone to talk to about it, but of course he’d always prided himself on not needing friends, and so there was nobody to help him now that he really needed it.
About the only two people who could remotely be considered ‘friends’ were Jordan and Michael. Jordan was only eleven years old and so hardly experienced enough to give advice, and in any case he obviously had no inhibitions where sex was concerned; and obviously he couldn’t raise the issue with Michael – at least, he didn’t think he could.
But who else was there? Tim Devlin? Definitely not. Joe? Well, there were certainly odd moments recently when Joe had seemed almost friendly towards him, but Joe was even younger than Jordan. Pope? Don’t be so bloody ridiculous, he told himself. Osterley? Well… a fortnight ago the idea of asking Osterley for advice would have seemed as stupid as asking Pope, but maybe now it wasn’t quite such a silly idea – and, after all, Osterley had been forced to have sex as well…
He decided to see if Osterley had experienced the same thing. In the meantime he had to try to make sure Michael thought everything was okay – he really didn’t want to do or say anything that might jeopardise his chances of escaping here once or twice a week, because even with the Devlins being a bit easier on him, this was still a better place than his own home.
The alarm went off and Michael turned it off, looked at him and smiled.
“Morning, David,” he said. “You okay?”
“Yes, of course,” said David, mustering the semblance of a smile.
“Good. Look…. thanks for last night: it was the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me. You’re a really good friend to let me do that.”
He pulled David against him and hugged him, and David managed not to pull away.
“I know you said that last night would be a one-off,” Michael went on, “but… well… I was hoping you might change your mind about that.”
“I don’t know,” said David: his brain was screaming ‘No!!!’ at him, but he could feel his penis twitching at the same time: it seemed to like the idea. “Look, can we just forget about it for a bit?”
“Of course. And I meant what I said before: if you don’t want to do it again, I promise I won’t try to make you, okay? But I really hope you will want to, because it made me feel bloody amazing.”
And he got out of bed and headed for the bathroom.
David stood up more slowly, unable to understand why he’d started to get hard at the thought of doing it again when he knew how disgusting and perverted it was. Mechanically he followed Michael through to the bathroom, got washed and dressed, ate breakfast, went back upstairs and changed into his shorts, and then followed the Staggs to school, all in a semi-trance.
At break he reported to 2C’s form room, and here he got lucky: both Roberts and Stevenson simply came into the book store and sat quietly with him for five minutes each, not wanting to do anything sexual at all. Telford, a skinny little kid with a small penis, then made him suck, but it took so long to bring him off that there was no time to deal with the final member of the form.
“Just come to the music block at lunch time,” Pope told him on the way out. “I want another go with you myself, and I’ll bring Wordsworth with me – and then you’ll be finished. Bet you’ll be glad about that.”
He was, obviously, and so reported to the music block at lunchtime, happy in the thought that whatever happened to him now it would all be over, at least as far as the visits to the junior form rooms was concerned. Pope and Wordsworth, whom David recognised as one of Pope’s closer friends, arrived just after he did, and once the door was closed and blocked with a chair as usual David was ordered to strip.
“Okay,” said Pope, once David was naked. “Now me and Matt are going to have a fight: we’re going to try to strip each other and then make each other submit. Whoever wins gets to fuck you while you suck the other one. You can referee the fight – two falls or one submission will decide it, but you can’t be pinned or made to submit until you’re naked, okay?”
David nodded that he understood and helped them move the table to one end of the room, and then the fight started. They were about the same height and weight, so it was an even contest, and gradually they managed to undress each other, until both were naked. Then the wrestling started, and here too it was hard to tell which was most likely to win. Finally Pope managed to get Wordsworth onto his back and pin him down, and David, entering into the spirit of the thing, knelt down beside them and counted to three, doing his best to sound like the referee in the wrestling matches that were televised most Saturday afternoons.
“One fall to Pope,” he announced. “Ready again? Fight!”
Pope grinned at him and made a grab for Wordsworth, who pirouetted out of his way and grabbed him while he was off balance, seizing his wrist and dragging it up into a back-hammer. And although Pope struggled he couldn’t get free, and Wordsworth went on applying pressure until Pope finally submitted.
“You were lucky,” growled Pope. “Oh, well, I suppose I have fucked him before… you’ll need some of this.”
He handed over a small jar of Vaseline, and David bent over the table; and Wordsworth, who was about the same size as Pope where it counted, lined up and - after a few failures - managed to push it in. Pope came and stood in front of David’s head and David forced himself to do what was necessary, telling himself that at least this would be the last time.
Wordsworth obviously loved the sensation it gave him, because he reached his climax quite quickly and then withdrew, so David did everything he could to get Pope to a climax as well, and was rewarded when Pope got there only a minute or so after his friend.
“Okay,” said Pope, stepping away, “you can get dressed. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s you finished. Of course, if you want us to, we’ll be happy to do that whenever you like…”
“No, thanks,” said David, straight away. “I hope I never have to do anything like that again.”
“Oh, well, you know where we are if you change your mind.” And Pope and Wordsworth finished dressing and left him alone.
He did up his shoelaces, tidied the room up a bit and went to look for Osterley, and found him leaning on the outside wall of his form room and talking to Little Collins as usual. David hesitated: he wanted Osterley on his own. But he didn’t think he’d seen Osterley on his own, except for that one occasion in the music practice room, since the end of last term, so probably there would be no point in hanging around and hoping that Little Collins would go away.
“What do you want?” asked Little Collins, brusquely, as David came up to them.
“I… well… can I talk to you alone for a moment?” David asked Osterley.
“No, I don’t think so. I don’t have any secrets from Bertie, so if there’s something you want to tell me, you can do it here. But if it’s about Pope being finished with you, I already know: he came and told me so a couple of minutes ago.”
“No, it’s not that. I just wanted… well… see, I need some advice.”
“What, and you’re asking me? Why, for God’s sake?”
“Who else is he going to ask?” said Little Collins, scornfully. “Everyone knows he hasn’t got any friends.”
“That’s true, actually,” admitted David, surprising them. “I can’t think of anyone else to talk to about this, and as you were in the same position, I thought… well…”
“Go on, then, I’m listening,” said Osterley.
“Well… it’s… I mean… Look, when Pope and his friends were… fucking you last term…. Did it get you excited?”
“What? No, of course it didn’t! I hated every moment!”
“Yes, I know, but what I mean is… well, did it make you get hard?”
“God, no! It hurt far too much – don’t forget they whipped me, too. I don’t think I could have got hard if the most beautiful girl in the world had walked past stark naked. Why, did that happen to you?”
“Well, not when Pope and his lot were doing it to me, no. But last night a boy in my own year did it to me, and…”
“And it made you hard?”
“Worse: it made me have an orgasm. But I’m not queer, Osterley, okay? I hate that stuff!”
“Okay, I can see why it worried you. But, look, sometimes we can’t control what our bodies do. The first time Pope and his mates got me on the teacher’s desk I hated it, but when Bertie played with my cock I still went hard, and when he rubbed it, it still made me spurt. I hated every second, but it didn’t stop me spurting in front of everyone. And the same thing happened to you when he did it to you, didn’t it? Except you didn’t spurt, of course… anyway, so you know you can’t control it. It doesn’t make you bent, okay? It’s just something that happens.”
“Of course, maybe in your case it does make you bent,” put in Little Collins, smiling nastily. “If it felt really nice – so much that you want to do it again…well, in that case you’re probably a raving poof.”
David scowled at him. “Okay, thanks, Osterley,” he said, and walked off, thinking about it. He felt a little bit better, because of course Osterley was right: he’d had an orgasm in front of the whole form when Little Collins had wanked him, even though he hadn’t enjoyed it one little bit – which proved that his body was capable of operating independently from his brain. But if he was honest he knew that last night hadn’t really been like that: at the moment of his climax the previous evening he’d liked it. Only for a few seconds, but still… and that meant that Little Collins was right, too: part of him, at least, did want to do it again. Intellectually he hated the idea, but the way his penis had twitched when Michael had suggested it this morning proved that his body wasn’t inclined to be intellectual about this.
So where did that leave him? Was it possible that he really was turning into a queer? If that was the case he thought he’d have to commit suicide or something, because the idea of spending his entire life doing disgusting, perverted things with other boys and men – and actually liking it – was totally unacceptable.
There was hardly any work to do at the Devlins’ house that evening – after all, with nobody living there it only really needed an occasional wipe round with a duster and a run with the vacuum cleaner, so they only stayed for half an hour before going back to David’s house.
Wednesday was the first day for ages when David hadn’t had to worry about being punished at either break or lunchtime. He did put his head round the music block door at lunchtime just in case, but there was nobody there. He almost felt as if his life – well, his school life, at least – was returning to normal.
After school he went home with the Staggs and had an enjoyable evening watching television with them. He was a little nervous at bedtime, just in case Michael decided he wanted a repeat performance, but in fact Michael just changed into his shorts and got into bed without saying anything about it.
“Are you okay?” Michael asked, once they were settled in with the light out. “You’ve been really quiet today – and yesterday, too. I’d have thought you’d be really happy now that Osterley has let you go.”
“I am. It’s just… well, it’s not completely over yet, because I’ve still got Dhif to deal with after half term, but I don’t think that should be too difficult.”
“So what’s the problem, then?”
“Nothing. I’m just tired. I’ll probably feel better in the morning.” David really didn’t want to talk about the way he felt, not least because he didn’t know himself how he was feeling: he was still totally confused about it. But he didn’t think discussing it with Michael would help.
“Okay,” said Michael, giving him a quick hug. “Goodnight, then.” And he settled down to sleep, leaving David with his eyes wide open once again, and his brain still churning away. Why had part of him liked being hugged like that? He knew it was wrong for boys to touch each other. And it wasn’t as if Michael was even very good-looking… okay, actually the hair colour was sort of interesting, and the freckles had a certain charm, but still, Michael would never get a job as a model. Osterley, now…. If you wanted a really good-looking boy, Osterley was a far better candidate…
Why am I even thinking about boys being good-looking? he interrupted himself, mentally. Only queers rate other boys like that…
What was happening to him? Was he really turning into some sort of pervert, or was it just stress brought on by what he had been through lately? Maybe that was it: perhaps he had been hurt so many times that he would look at anyone who was decent to him with disproportionate gratitude: a hug and a kind word would feel so good after all the beatings and abuse that he would look at the person giving them in a way that he would never consider in the normal way of things. Probably once he’d recovered from his ordeal he’d see things more clearly, and he’d realise that Michael was just another boy in his form, and one who lived on a council estate at that, and so not really worthy of notice. Yes, that must be it, he told himself: I’m just not thinking straight at the moment. Except…
Except nothing, he told himself, firmly. Go to sleep.
And before too long he did.
He tried hard to hold onto that point of view next morning. It wasn’t easy: when Michael took his shorts off quite unconcernedly in front of him he caught himself looking at Michael’s penis and remembering how good it had felt inside him, and he had to dig his nails into his palm to drag his mind away from such confused and perverted thinking. And when Michael smiled at him – which happened a few times – he still felt a little warm glow inside, and he had to remind himself that this was only because of the contrast with the way other boys had abused him lately, and that normally a smile like that from a lower class boy would mean nothing to him. And by the time they got to school he had just about convinced himself that this was the case.
On the Friday morning Osterley took him to see Blackman and reported that David had complied fully with his punishment, and that as far as Osterley was concerned the slate was clean.
“You seem to be learning, Villiers-Gore,” Blackman told him. “Perhaps you can be brought back into the fold after all. You’d better go and ask Dhif what he wants from you after half term.”
So David did that and Dhif simply said that there was no hurry.
“There’s nothing that won’t keep,” Dhif told him. “Don’t bother coming to look for me after the holiday. You can just carry on as normal until I’m ready for you, and when I am I’ll come and find you.”
David thought that it sounded as If he was nowhere near the top of Dhif’s list of priorities, and that probably meant his punishment would be fairly quick and insignificant, just something to be fitted in when Dhif had a spare moment. So he said okay, politely enough, and went back to his own form room.
His feelings about Dhif hadn’t changed a lot. He was prepared to accept that he’d been wrong about Osterley, who had proved in the last week or so that he was a decent kid who hadn’t deserved what David had let him in for, and he was genuinely sorry about the way Osterley had been treated by Pope and his gang. But Dhif was a horse of a different colour, so to speak: David still didn’t think that coloureds should be in the same school as decent white boys, and given another opportunity he’d probably have done whatever he could to get Dhif removed from the school. Okay, it wasn’t Dhif’s fault that he was a nigger, but if he’d known his place he wouldn’t have allowed himself to be sent to a decent school in the first place.
Maybe Dhif even realised that, and that was why he was being offhand about David’s punishment now. Maybe he knew that it was his own fault that he had been targeted, and that David had been morally right to try to get him removed? If that was the case, probably the punishment would be no more than a token. Yes, probably there was nothing to worry about here at all…
Cubs on Friday went well: after the meeting the Red Six all went back to the Devlins’ house as usual but tonight they didn’t make David strip or do anything else to him, though they did suggest that the upcoming camp might be a bit different.
“The newest member of each six is always given a bumpy ride at their first camp,” Joe told him. “Of course, yours will be bumpier than usual because of who you are, but if you take it without arguing we’ll give you an easy ride right through to the summer holidays. Of course, we’ll still make you do sex sometimes, ‘cos that’s far too good to give up, but we won’t whip you any more, and you won’t have to strip except when we want you to do sex with us. And once another new kid joins the six we might let you off altogether.”
“Are you sure I can’t make him suck on mine tonight?” Roger asked;
“No, you can’t. We promised if he helped us make the film, remember? Of course, once we get to camp it’ll be different…”
That didn’t sound so good, but David thought that if he could get through the camp, maybe they’d keep their word and ease back on him afterwards, and that would make his Fridays a lot less worrying.
Half term began on the Saturday. The cubs met at the school on the Sunday afternoon and were taken by coach to a farm about seven or eight miles out of town, near the river. The farmer had given them the use of a field that he wasn’t using at the moment, and would also be supplying them with eggs and milk. They spent most of Sunday afternoon trying to get the tents pitched properly: each six had its own tent, the four of them pitched in a row (or something vaguely like a row) at one side of the field, with the two leaders in a smaller tent not too far away. Once the tents were up each six sent one member to help set up the cooking area and one to help dig the holes for the latrines. David, of course, was sent on that mission.
Eventually the camp was set up, and the two leaders called everyone together and explained what was going to happen over the next three days: they would be doing some field-craft, including tracking, hunting and basic survival skills (the second leader had been borrowed from a scout troop and was used to working with older boys). They would also be doing their own cooking, which made David glad that he’d eaten one of Mrs Devlin’s large Sunday lunches before leaving home.
There was also a long list of things to do and not to do: they should stay away from the river, which was only a field away; they should keep quiet at night so as to get plenty of sleep; they should not muck about generally, but should do what they were told, etc, etc. And then they were turned loose to do a little local exploring.
The Reds immediately headed for the river, though they went in a roundabout way so as not to be noticed by the leaders. The river was quite wide here but didn’t seem to be flowing particularly quickly.
“Can you swim?” Roger asked David, tugging him towards the edge by his neckerchief.
“Yes, but I’m not going in there.”
“You will if you don’t behave this week. And we’ll chuck you in naked, too, so when they pull you out when the river reaches Gloucester, everyone there can have a good laugh.”
“I’ll behave, then,” said David.
“Mind you do.”
In fact the leaders did most of the cooking, so the evening meal wasn’t too bad, and afterwards the whole pack sat around the campfire for a while listening to Akela telling them stories. And then it was time for them to retire to their tents to get ready for bed, and of course at that point David’s situation went steeply downhill.
“Before we go to bed you have to suck everyone,” Joe told him. “And we’ll give you marks out of ten. If you don’t get good enough marks we’ll have to punish you.”
“Okay,” said David, who had expected something like this. “But you have to mark fairly, okay? You can’t give me a really bad mark if I don’t deserve it, just so you can beat me up later.”
“Want to bet?” asked Roger, smiling nastily.
“Oh, come on! That’s not fair! Okay, if you’re going to give me a bad mark anyway, then I won’t bother trying to make it feel good. And in your case, Roger, I might even bite it off!”
Roger actually looked worried for a moment. “You wouldn’t!” he said. “You’d get into trouble.”
“No, I wouldn’t: I’d say you forced me to do it, so you’d get into trouble for bullying. And even if I did get into trouble, so what? It wouldn’t last long, but you’d be a girl for the rest of your life.”
Roger thought about that. “Okay, then I suppose I’ll give you a fair mark,” he conceded.
“Right. So, who wants to go first?”
“Youngest first!” shouted George, pushing his way to the front.
“Okay. How long have I got? I mean, do they come round to make sure we’re asleep, or something?”
“No, not unless we make a lot of noise. Akela will go off to the pub as soon as we settle down, and Bagheera will just sit in the tent listening to the radio and reading a book. They won’t interrupt us. So you’ve got as long as you like, but you have to be finished with all of us by half past ten.”
“How do you know – about the leaders, I mean? And what happens at half past ten?”
“Because Akela goes to the pub every time we have a camp here. And by half-past ten he’ll be back, and after that they’ll go to sleep, and after that… there’s a tradition on the first night of every camp. You’ll find out about that later. Now, I think George is waiting for you – oh, and don’t forget to take all your clothes off before you start.”
For the next two hours or so David just got on with it, doing everything he could to avoid thinking about what he was doing, just doing his best to make the experience as nice as possible for the other members of the six. Obviously he didn’t have to worry about anything coming out in his mouth, and nobody except Benedict had one big enough to choke him – and Benedict just let him do it the same way as he had the first time, holding the penis near the base to stop too much of it going into his mouth.
It was dark outside by the time he finished, but none of the others had changed into their pyjamas yet, so obviously the ‘tradition’ Joe had mentioned was going to involve going outside.
“Okay, let’s give him marks out of ten,” said Joe, as soon as Benedict – who had been last – was fully dressed once more. “And be honest, okay? Otherwise he really might bite it off tomorrow night.”
“Nine,” said Benedict. “It was really nice.”
“Six,” said Roger. David glared at him. “Okay, seven, then.”
“Eight for me,” said Joe.
Mike and Flip both gave him eight as well, and George gave him seven.
“Not too bad – nine plus seven plus eight plus eight plus eight plus seven – that makes…”
“Forty-seven,” David told him.
“Okay, I know,” said Joe, glaring at him. “I can add up, you know – just because I live on a council estate, it doesn’t make me thick.”
David bit his tongue to prevent himself answering that.
“Anyhow,” Joe went on, “tomorrow you have to get at least forty-eight, or you’ll be punished. Now, it’s almost time, so… grab him!”
They all jumped on him, pinning him down. His hands were tied behind his back, his ankles were tied together, some sticky tape was put over his eyes, which effectively blindfolded him, and he was stuffed into a sleeping bag head first. He was then picked up and carried out of the tent.
He couldn’t hear very much, and of course he had absolutely no idea where they were taking him. They carried him for what seemed like miles, until finally he was unceremoniously tipped out of the sleeping bag, naked, blind and with his hands and feet tied. He could hear quite a few people moving around nearby, but he couldn’t work out what was happening until Joe spoke in his ear.
“In a moment I’m going to cut your hands free,” Joe told him. “You’re out here with the newest members of the other three sixes, and you have to find your way back to the camp without getting caught by Akela or Bagheera, or by any other grown-ups. None of you will be a proper member of the pack unless you succeed. Now… everyone else, get lost. I’ll wait until you’ve gone, then cut him free.”
About half a minute went by, and then David felt the string around his hands being cut.
“Have fun!” said Joe, and then David heard him running off.
It took him several seconds to get the tape off his eyes without ripping off his eyebrows and eyelashes in the process, but finally the tape came loose and he was able to see again. He looked around quickly and was just in time to see Joe climbing over a gate on the far side of the field he was lying in. Near him were three other naked boys, their hands tied and their eyes taped shut.
He undid the string around his ankles and went to the nearest of the other boys, a little skinny kid who looked petrified as soon as David got the tape off his eyes.
“Where are we?” he asked, his voice trembling.
“I don’t know. Keep still and I’ll try to untie you, okay?”
David freed the first boy and moved on to the second, and then the third. Once all three were free he tried to work out where they were in relation to the camp, but it was dark, and the moon was hidden by clouds a lot of the time.
The two smallest boys looked really frightened, and one of them was crying, but the third boy was a bit older, and he seemed in better shape.
“Don’t worry,” David told them. “We’ll find our way back to the camp easily. I saw which way they went.”
“Really?” asked the smallest one.
“Really. Trust me.”
“Why did they take our pyjamas?” asked the other small one.
“So we couldn’t go and ask anyone for help. I really don’t want anyone to see me like this, and I bet you don’t, either. So we have to do this on our own.”
“What’s your name?” asked the smallest one, so they swapped names: the smallest one was Tommy, the second smallest was Pete, and the bigger kid was called Jason. David told them that his name was really David, but that everyone called him Gerbil. He didn't elaborate on the reason for that nickname.
David led them across the field to the gate Joe had used and climbed onto it, but he couldn’t see anything he recognised.
“Have any of you ever been to this place before?” he asked them, but of course they hadn’t: Tommy and Pete had only recently joined the cubs, and Jason’s family had only moved to Cheltenham six weeks before.
“Well, you said they went this way, so perhaps we should just keep going across this field,” suggested Jason.
“Yes, but… I’m wondering if it was a trick. Maybe Joe wanted me to see him so we’d come this way. Maybe he doubled back as soon as he was over the gate.”
“So what do we do?” asked Jason.
“Well… if we walk in a straight line we’ll have to hit a road eventually… or the river… The river would be better, because we know the camp is close to it.”
“But if we’re heading the wrong way, it might be miles before we find a road,” argued Jason.
David knew that was true. He couldn’t believe the others had been stupid enough to just dump them in the middle of a field and then run off. The two youngest kids were only eight, and it was no wonder they were scared: he didn’t like their situation himself, and he was almost fifteen. But he knew they couldn’t just stay where they were, so he jumped down on the far side of the gate.
“Come on,” he said. “We might as well get going. I’m bored with this gate – let’s go and find another one.”
The others climbed over the gate, and David was trying to make up his mind which way to go next when Tommy grabbed his arm and pointed at the ground just to the left of the gate.
“Look, it’s an arrow,” he said, and it was, formed from three sticks and pointing off along the line of the hedge.
“You’re right. Well done, Tommy. Are we supposed to follow it, do you think?”
“I think so.”
“Me, too,” said Jason. “It’s a tracking game – they want to see if we can follow the trail at night.”
“It’s a bit dangerous, though,” said David. “What if we hadn’t seen the arrow?”
Jason took a few steps in the opposite direction and then called them over, pointing to a cross on the ground.
“Not this way, see?” he said. “Come on – I’m a good tracker. We did it a lot in my old pack.”
The trail wandered about quite a lot, but the rest of the pack had done their best to make sure the true route was clearly signalled. Only when the trail led into a small wood was there a serious risk of losing the path, because the moon had gone behind the clouds again and it was really dark under the trees.
“I don’t want to go in there,” said Tommy, in a trembly voice.
“Me, neither,” said Pete. “It’s scary. There might be monsters in there.”
“Not in Gloucestershire, I don’t think,” said David. “Come on, Tommy, I’ll give you a piggy back. Jason, can you carry Pete?”
So they went into the wood. The track was wide enough for them to be able to follow it, but if the trail had gone off to either side David was sure they wouldn’t have been able to see the arrow, so he had to trust that the others would have been sensible enough to keep going straight ahead. And a short distance later the track emerged into a field, and there was an arrow on the ground in front of them.
The rest of the trail was easy, clearly signed and in the open, and soon they found themselves in the same field as the tents. They ran the last bit and found the rest of the pack waiting for them, all except the sixers of the blues and greens, who had apparently been shadowing them, as they arrived just after the four naked boys got back.
“Good follow,” said the sixer of the blues. “We’ve never done one that long before – normally it’s only a couple of fields away. But we reckoned that you lot would manage it – I know Jason has done tracking before, and Benny and Joe told me Gerbil could do it, so we thought we’d see how good you were. We were trailing you all the way, so if you had gone wrong we’d have stopped you, but I’m glad we didn’t have to. So, you’re all proper members of the pack now. Well done!”
David felt good about that. And despite the fact that he was standing here naked in front of the whole pack, nobody was laughing at him. Of course, most of them had no idea he was nearly fifteen, but still…
“It was Tommy who found the first arrow,” he told them. “I just followed him.”
The look on Tommy’s face made him feel even better: the little boy seemed about to burst with pride. And then he caught himself again: two months ago he wouldn’t have been seen dead with this bunch of peasants, and the idea of saying nice things to make a little council house kid grin like a Cheshire cat would have been unthinkable. He really had changed, he realised, though he wasn’t sure if he liked the way he was now or not. He supposed that it didn’t really matter: once things were back to normal at home as well as at school he could get back to being his real, normal self, and then he wouldn’t have to mix with kids like this any longer. After all, his mother wasn’t going to stay in London for ever, was she? And then… no more Devlins, no more sleeping in the attic, no more cubs…
But as he walked back to his own tent with the rest of his six he realised that he would actually miss some of it. Right now, for instance, he felt a genuine sense of achievement in what he and the other three had just managed to do: apparently they had just completed the longest initiation track ever. And he had enjoyed the warm feeling that came from making Tommy smile, too, almost as much as he enjoyed it when Michael smiled at him at school, or gave him a little hug while they were in bed…
That’s not real, he told himself, sharply. You only feel like that because of what else has happened to you. It doesn’t really mean anything to you, and nor does Tommy smiling at you. It’s just because you’re all mixed up in your head at the moment. Once it’s all over you’ll be able to think clearly again…
But once back in the tent the others crowded round, congratulating him. Even Roger seemed to be sincere.
“Well done, Gerbil,” he said. “I was lucky – I never had to do a track, because Joe joined at the same time as me, and when we came on our first camp we spun a coin for it and he lost. Mind you, you were lucky it didn’t rain. If your little gerbil willy had got cold and wet it would have vanished altogether.”
“If I bite yours off next time you put it in my mouth, yours will vanish as well, and it won’t come back, either,” replied David.
“I was just saying, that’s all,” said Roger, backing off.
“It rained when I did my track,” said Benedict. “It was only a short trail, but it doesn’t feel nice, walking about in the rain with nothing on.”
“At least I bet yours didn’t shrivel away to nothing,” said David.
“No, it didn’t. My balls got all hard, though. And…I think we should go to bed. It’s after eleven o’clock.”
So they did, and David went to sleep thinking that it was nice not to be treated like dirt for once: since the trail started he’d been made to feel a proper member of the pack. Of course, he told himself, it doesn’t really matter what this lot think of me, because I’m better than they are… but still…
He quite enjoyed the next couple of days. All the other boys treated him well, and the activities the leaders arranged for them were interesting, even if the trail they laid on Monday morning seemed a bit too easy to follow fully clothed and in daylight.
On the Monday afternoon Jason came and found him and took him a short distance away from the tents where Tommy and Pete were already waiting for them.
“Chris - that’s my sixer – says that when people do an initiation track together it’s sort of special, and they should stay friends afterwards,” Jason told him. “Okay, I know you’re already ten, so you’ll be going up to Scouts soon, and I know that you don’t live on our estate, either. But it’d be good if we could all stay friends anyway.”
“I’d like that, too,” said Tommy. “It was really nice of you to tell them I found the first arrow. You didn’t have to do that.”
“It was true, though,” David told him. “If you hadn’t seen it I might have just taken us straight out across the field, and then they would have had to stop us and tell us we were going the wrong way, and that would have made us look bad.”
“I reckon there was another cross straight ahead from the gate,” said Jason. “Still, you’re right, and it was Tommy that found the first arrow. So – are we going to stay friends?”
Tommy and Pete both nodded enthusiastically – they no doubt liked the idea of having a couple of older boys on their side. David could see no reason not to go along with it, because he didn’t expect to be in the cubs for too much longer – so if it made them happy, why not?
“Okay,” he said. “Let’s.”
So they shook on it and went back to join the others, and David thought that this was probably the first time in his life that someone had actually said they wanted to be his friend. Okay, these kids might be council estate riff-raff, but it still made him feel good about himself.
The only part of Monday that he didn’t enjoy was the evening, because his own six, despite his acceptance as a proper member of the pack, still wanted to be sucked. But he still did his best, and even Roger was sufficiently satisfied to give him an eight this time.
At bedtime Joe took his sleeping bag and David’s and zipped them together so that they could share a double – “That way you can keep me warm,” he explained. David had got used to sharing a mattress with Joe by now, so he didn’t argue about it. Once they had settled down for the night Joe cuddled up to him.
“You’re doing really well,” he told him. “You got forty-nine tonight, so it’s obvious you were really trying. Of course, if you hadn’t we’d have had to beat you up, but still… You know, we were going to do piles of bad stuff to you this week: we even thought of making you suck every boy in the pack, or getting Benny to fuck you in front of everyone. And Roger really did want to push you in the river. But you’ve been brilliant: you’ve joined in everything; you haven’t argued or complained once, even when we make you suck. I wish we’d said you were only nine, so that you could keep coming to cubs for another year.”
“No, thanks. I can just about manage a couple of months of this, but another year… no.”
“Well, you’ll still be here for the next camp, in the summer holidays. So you’ve still got something to look forward to.”
David wasn’t sure that he would have put it quite like that. Although, if it wasn’t for being made to do sex for them, he supposed being a cub wasn’t too bad…
Tuesday went well, too: he did his best in all the races and games that were organised for them, reasoning that they might still change their minds and punish him if he didn’t try hard. And it worked: they were so pleased with his efforts that they didn’t make him suck at all that evening.
“Of course, we’ll still want you to do it sometimes once we’re back home, but I reckon we can let you off tonight,” Joe told him.
They went back home on the Wednesday, with David thinking that his position with the Reds had improved a lot: maybe he wouldn’t have to dread Friday evenings in future. And Joe was being nice to him, and Tim and Molly were treating him fairly, too…
On the Saturday he moved down from the attic into Joe’s bedroom, so he now had a proper bed to sleep in even when he wasn’t at Michael’s house. Of course, that meant that he could have stopped going to the Staggs’, but... well, he didn’t want to. It was nice being able to work on his homework with Michael. Of course, that was the only reason, he insisted to himself: the nice feelings he got when Michael hugged him or smiled at him were just the result of his thinking being messed up. He was sure that once his ordeal was finally over, all this imaginary stuff would just vanish and he’d be able to think clearly once more.
School started again, but Dhif made no attempt to contact him. In a way David was sorry about this: he just wanted it to be over and done with, so that he could get on with his normal life once more. But after another two weeks had gone by he started to think that maybe Dhif wasn’t going to do anything to him at all: maybe he had realised that David had only been doing what was right.
David’s school life was now almost back to normal: he was back in long trousers, and although some of the juniors – and especially 2C – grinned at him cheekily now and again, for the most part he was left in peace. Michael now sat next to him in the form room and in some lessons, and David still went to sleep over with him once or twice a week. Michael hadn’t made any attempt to persuade him to have sex, though he did drop the odd remark into the conversation to demonstrate that he would still like it to happen.
David still felt confused about it: there was definitely a part of him that wouldn’t have minded doing it again, though his more rational self was able to subdue this nasty, perverted desire most of the time. But just occasionally he would look at Michael and want to give in to his twisted wishes, and then he had to tell himself really sternly that decent, well brought up boys didn’t do filthy, obscene things like that…
Another week went by, and the end of term was less than four weeks away, and now he was sure that Dhif was just going to forget about it and take no action. Of course, that would be the right thing to do: maybe he’d actually managed to make the little black bastard see that he shouldn’t be in this school – perhaps he’d even started to make arrangements to move to another school in September. In fact, he might even decide to thank David for showing him how unwelcome he was at KEV… Yes, David decided, he was in the clear: there was no longer anything to worry about.
He had no idea how completely wrong he was.
Ah, the noble art of self-deception… David thinks he’s home and dry, but in fact the worst is very much still to come. But before the sky falls in on him we need to catch up with Jordan: are things still working between him and his two ‘little brothers’? And how are things progressing between Stephens and Baker? These questions, and more, might be answered in the next chapter!
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