Holding Hands

The beach was no more than a strip of blinding-white sand between giant rounded boulders. Even in summer the sea was icy, the tentative beginnings of the cold Benguella current, driven and formed by the southeaster which draped Table Mountain in a tablecloth of cloud but which left this magic space between the heaped up boulders intact. One didn't come here to swim. True enough, when you got too hot you'd race into the water, but its coldness made your skin tingle and your head ache. You came here to sunbathe. To show off. To preen and parade.

A weekday afternoon. Pete was cutting varsity classes. His new blue-and-white striped Speedo felt snug and sexy against his skin under his jeans. He was sweating under his leather jacket but that was sexy too. It made him think of other occasions when he sweated, when the heat made him feel djas, ready for sex with anybody willing.

There was another man on the beach in navy square-cut swim briefs. His body was slim and nicely shaped, his skin was olive and glistened in the sun from sweat and suntan lotion. His hair was dark and thick and curly. He continued to lie face down in the sun basking in the silent heat, and completely ignored Pete's arrival, the roar of the motor bike, the climb down the steep stone stairs from the road, Pete's spreading out his towel on the sand nearby. Pete lay his towel out half a metre from the other man's, not wanting to be too close (for after all he might not be gay) but also in hope. He couldn't stop peering at the shiny muscles of his legs, the sweet curves of his bum and thighs, the deep trough of muscle along his spine. At the way the flesh of his buttocks were barely indented by the elastic of his tight-fitting bathers. At the dip in the nylon over his cleft, suggestive, tantalising, concealing.

He took off his gear, and rearranged his doings in his swim brief. He lay face down on his towel and pretended that he hadn't deliberately arranged to lie right next to the other man as if the beach was crowded with hundreds instead of just the two of them. He felt the warmth of the sun on his skin. He turned his head so that he faced away. He felt himself relax like a cat in the warmth. Pete was ignoring the other man, but that only made him even more conscious of his presence. It was as if there was an electric field between them, making his skin prickle and his cock hard. Pete wanted—he didn't know what. He'd never been with a man before. Yet he could feel the raw sexuality of this unknown person next to him, an attraction and lust which knew no details but was very clear in the generalities.

He started to cook in the heated stillness, and walked down the beach to the breakers. The sea was deep here, with the land sloping away rapidly into the Atlantic floor, and Pete contented himself with diving into the breakers whooping with the cold before going back up the beach to the lonely towels. As he sat down on his towel he felt the other man's gaze. He met it: eyes a soft brown in a dark face, lips full and rich, designer stubble, a strong chin and neck column. The man held his look for a moment, then turned away. But he didn't move his towel or ask Pete to move his.

The world contracted to blue and platinum and blinding heat. And the vibes coming off the other guy. Pete knew in his heart that the other man wanted to connect. It was as if there was a force field linking them. But he was too shy to reach across the gap between them. He was afraid of rejection. What if the other man wasn't a queer? He might get beaten up. Even if he didn't, he recoiled from the contempt and disdain he might face. And maybe the other didn't find him attractive. Pete worked out, but . . . All his insecurities rose and assailed him. I'm not sexy. I'm unlovable. I'm the only homo in the world.

So he lay there, a couple of feet away from another man, on an otherwise deserted beach and pretended he was alone. From time to time they would turn their heads and their eyes would meet, but neither said anything. Perhaps if this had been Australia instead of South Africa in 1988, things might have been different.

As the sun set over the Atlantic, Pete stood up, stretched ostentatiously, pulled on his jeans and T-shirt, and shouldering his leather jacket, helmet and rucksack, slowly climbed the steps up to the road. As he rode away on the big bike, he made a point of making his engine rev as loudly as possible.

Later that evening on his bed, wearing only the Speedo, as the sun set in purple, crimson, magenta, and peach splendour over a rainbow sea, he imagined the two of them holding hands. He had no idea what else to think of. His mind sheered away from actual sex, which was in any case unknown country. As he stroked himself to orgasm, in his mind's eye was a dark haired man with kind brown eyes smiling at him as their hands touched, electric, magical.

© 2011 Nikolaos Thiwerspoon. All rights reserved.
Romantic m2m novels and short stories