This is the LAST story in the Ross series. OK I said the previous one was the last but I've been persuaded to write one more. Here it is.
Sun, Sex and Skulduggery
A short story in the Ross series
"Torremolinos," I said over breakfast.
"Don't be disgusting, Kevin," said Peter.
"It's not a swearword," I said.
"Yes, it is. Think of it. Swarming with ex-pats, criminals on the run from British justice, fish and chips and eighteen/thirty year olds." He buttered and then marmaladed a slice of toast and took a bite out of it.
"That's us," I pointed out. "The last one anyway. Could be fun."
"Málaga," said Peter.
"Isn't that the same sort of thing?"
"Better class of Club 18/30."
"Since when have we been snobs? Anyway we wouldn't be going there to size up the talent. We're going on our honeymoon, or have you already forgotten?"
"After living together for three years. It's not as if we're in the first flush of adoration."
"I am," I said, looking into Peter's adorable blue eyes and sexy black curls. "Let's go to bed."
Peter laughed. "We've only just got up, and anyway I haven't finished my breakfast."
"You're just too mundane."
"And you're just too horny."
"Would you have it any other way?" I asked.
Peter shook his head and gave me a kiss flavoured with toast crumbs.
Since we'd gone through the civil partnership ceremony and considered ourselves well and truly 'married', we'd been having this conversation on and off for a couple of weeks. Peter, who owned his own small but flourishing Art Gallery in Camden High Street could have taken time off any time he wanted. But I, as Head Librarian at the Belsize Park Library, had to arrange my holiday time around the demands of my staff. I could have pulled rank, of course, but, since the departure of the rancid Miss Blagstock, from whom I had taken over, the Library had been a much pleasanter place in which to work, though no less efficient, and I didn't want to upset the guys.
So, we had in fact another three weeks to decide where to go. And the discussion was wide and varied. Today it was southern Spain, yesterday it had been Reykjavik, tomorrow it would probably be the Maldives or Bermuda, both of which much too expensive, but it wouldn't stop us discussing them.
My mobile phone rang.
It was Ross, our best friend, if you discount our club-going chums, Eddie and Brian.
Ross though had helped us out on many occasions. I would trust my life to Ross and also my lover, Peter, as I know that Ross is the most confirmed bottom and is only sexually attracted to butch, working class guys with muscles, filthy jeans and probably no underwear. Gross!
"Hi, Ross," I said. Peter came over and sat on my lap. I buried my nose in his hair, jet-black and smelling clean and lovely. We shared the ear piece of the phone.
"Kevin," said Ross. "I've solved your problem about where to go on your honeymoon." (How did Ross know we had a problem making a decision? But then Ross knows everything, so I didn't ask). "Don't say thank you, just accept with gratitude. I've booked a hotel on the Costa del Sol, little place called Nerja, not too far from Málaga where incidentally there are some jumping gay clubs. La Gata Loca is I believe highly recommended."
"How did you know we were thinking of Málaga?" The question was out before I realised its futility. Ross never divulges the sources of his knowledge. Peter shifted his bum in my lap and my prick responded in the usual way. He whispered in my free ear, "Sounds good."
"Sounds good," I said to Ross. "This is very generous of you."
"Only one thing," said Ross. "Eddie and Brian have to go with you."
Now Eddie and Brian, while being of course our (possibly) best friends are the campest and screamiest of camp, screaming young queens. We love them dearly and, in the right place, the West End clubs, they are really entertaining, but, and here I must be completely honest, travelling across Europe where perhaps discretion is sometimes a necessity, Eddie and Brian could be a bit of a liability.
"Why?" I asked. "Keep still," I whispered to Peter who was working me up into a state of delicious frenzy.
"Peter sitting on your lap?" asked Ross. How did he know?
"Why do Eddie and Brian have to come with us?"
"Bit of a problem," said Ross. "That guy you were helpful in putting away in prison, Hank Palmer, has issued a fatwah (contract) against them and you two of course. I want you all out of the country for the time being."
"But Palmer's in prison," I protested.
"But still with influence."
"What about you and Douglas?" Douglas Patterson is our cousin and he was also involved in the case against Hank the Wank giving evidence which led to the drug dealing and a manslaughter conviction.
"I can look after myself and I'll keep an eye on Duggie."
"Duggie? Are you and Douglas . . .?" I let the question fade. Ross doesn't divulge personal stuff usually. Douglas was certainly butch enough for Ross to fancy.
"What do you think?" I asked Peter. "Will you keep still and be sensible. Do we take Eddie and Brian on our honeymoon?"
"Of course. We can't leave our friends in danger. Do you really want me to stop?"
"OK," I said to Ross. "Agreed. And thanks very much for the offer."
"One other thing. You leave on Monday."
"Can't do that," I said. "The Library . . ."
Ross interrupted. "I want you out PDQ. Understand." His voice was so serious that we understood.
"I'll see what I can do."
"Now you'd better er finish your breakfast."
He rang off.
* * * * * *
Well, it was a bit of an effort and the guys at the Library weren't best pleased, especially as County decided to send Miss Blagstock 'to look after the place' for the fortnight I was away. However there wasn't much they could do about it, except moan and give me glacial looks whenever I passed by.
There was also the tension of not knowing whether we were about to be attacked by one of Hank's henchmen. "Use public transport as much as you can," advised Ross. "Don't walk about on your own. Make sure you know who's there before opening the door to anyone."
"What happens after we get back from Spain?" I asked. Reasonably, I thought.
"I'll get it sorted," said Ross and with that we had to be satisfied.
But nothing untoward happened over the weekend.
Ross drove us to Heathrow, picking up Eddie and Brian on the way. They were buzzing with excitement. I hoped they weren't going to get bored at this little fishing village Ross had chosen for us.
"You know what air stewards are like. All gay," said Eddie. "Perhaps I'll be able to join the mile high club."
"They're all bottoms," said Brian. "It's a noted fact. So they'll be no use to you."
"They can't all be," said Eddie. "Anyway perhaps I can turn butch at a pinch."
Brian laughed scornfully. "Like pigs might fly."
I was quiet, I hated flying and Peter knew it. He held my hand whenever no one was watching, even in the airport lounge, which was heroic of him as I knew my palm was damp.
Assuming the aircraft didn't crash or we weren't hijacked or something equally catastrophic, we would fly to Malaga airport. There, a hired car would be waiting and we could drive the fifty kilometres to Nerja along the Autovia del Mediterraneo.
Eddie and Brian were disappointed; the aircraft cabin crew were all female. I was tense for the almost four hours of flight but finally relaxed when we landed, only to go rigid again when Eddie said he'd drive along the Autovia. Eddie's driving has to be experienced to be believed. Even at home where we drive on the right side of the road, ie the left, it's fairly horrendous. On the Continent where everything is back to front it's positively nightmarish. And Brian sat in the passenger seat reading the map which ought to have been easy as the autovia is straight and there's only the one turn off to Nerja, the N340. Trouble was of course that the turn is on the left which means crossing the line of traffic coming the other way and Brian had decided suddenly to become a nature freak.
"Look at that mountain range," he said pointing wildly at the spectacular mountains of the Sierra Almijara and we all craned to look to the right, Eddie included, while other cars overtook us on what, in civilised England would have been the wrong (or suicide) side.
"Mind the road," I shrieked and covered my eyes with my hand which wasn't a good idea as then I couldn't see where death was approaching from.
Then of course we missed the turning to Nerja. When Brian shouted, Eddie seemed to be about to slam on the brakes and turn round though Brian was sure that this was illegal. Luckily there was another turning a half mile later and we turned off onto what were comparatively empty country roads bordered by fields and plantations of what Brian said were olive trees and Eddie maintained were citrus fruits. When the argument grew heated, Peter and I just prayed. To the left was the sea, blue and calm and Mediterranean. It was the only calm thing in the locality.
Soon there were signs: 'Playa de Calahonda', then 'Playa de la Caletilla'.
"Have we missed Nerja?" asked Eddie.
"I think we're probably in it," I said. 'Playa' means beach, I think."
"Language expert are we?" asked Brian.
I drew on my reserves and said the only sentence in Spanish that I knew by heart. "Estoy escribiendo una carta a mi amigo Carlos quien vive in Madrid."
They were impressed and I wondered whether I'd let myself in for something I'd regret later.
"What's it mean?" whispered Peter so the others couldn't hear.
"I'm writing a letter to my friend Charles who lives in Madrid."
"And do you know any other languages?" asked Brian as we negotiated a sharp bend and approached an obvious small town full of the most beautiful whitewashed houses with flat roofs and wrought iron terraces stuffed with scarlet geraniums.
"Only French," I said loftily, and quoted a caption I'd read for a porn picture I'd downloaded from one of my groups. "Un beau gosse nous montre son cul et sa jolie petite chatte - je veux la manger."
"And what does that mean?" asked Eddie.
"It's just a general greeting you might want to use when you meet someone you fancy," I lied.
"You must teach it to us," said Brian, "in case we meet any French guys."
"Oh I will." I felt it would be a satisfactory payback for all the terror they'd put me in on the journey.
"Now where's our hotel?" asked Eddie. "As you speak Spanish, Kevin, you'd better ask."
Retribution comes quickly when you've got a big mouth like I have. I only hoped that the person we asked would speak a modicum of English. Relying on tourists as they did, surely they'd learn the language of at least the majority of their visitors. I crossed my fingers as Eddie drew up beside a guy who was obviously the most ancient inhabitant of the town. My heart sank. He probably only spoke Arabic, the language of the people who had ruled Spain for many centuries and were only driven out in 1492, surely when this man was in his prime.
"Scusi, signor," I began and then stopped. Shit, that was Italian. "Habla usted inglés?" I managed.
"No, Señor," said the man. Well, that was pretty definite, and I could even hear the little wiggle over the 'n'.
I tried again, "Donde esta el Hostal Balcon, por favor?"
Whether it was good Spanish or not, at least he understood. He came out with a long string of incomprehensible sentences, first pointing further along the road we were in and then gesturing to the right. At last he stopped. I tried to look intelligent.
"Up here, guys," I said, "and then turn to the right."
"OK, girl," said Eddie, "even I got the pointy bits."
We drove off, me shouting, "Gracias, Señor," as we went, making sure I got the 'tilde' in.
We were in luck. No sooner had we turned right when Peter gave a cry. "There it is." And there it was, another of those gleaming white buildings with terraces covered with flowers. A helpful sign said, Hostal Balcon.
We were there. We were still alive. Best of all the staff all spoke English.
The room which Peter and I shared was beautiful and overlooked the sea well, you could see it in the middle distance. The food was good and didn't consist of steak and chips, fish and chips or pizza and chips. We could get a marvellous paella with shrimpy things and rubbery bits which I think were squid. We could sit on the crapper rather than having to crouch with our feet in foot-shaped holes something I've always dreaded. And we had an en suite bathroom with a shower and just room for two. Also there was a broadband connection we could plug our laptop in should we wish to contact anyone at home.
That first night we decided to stay in. It was after all the first night of our honeymoon and certain things are expected. Eddie and Brian were a little scathing.
"You've spent almost every night together for the last three years," said Eddie.
"Surely you'll want to see the town and at least find out where the gay bars are," said Brian.
"And we've got to find out where the nude beaches are."
"What's that in Spanish?"
I made the effort. "Something like 'Donde esta la playa desnuda?'," I said, "but most people will speak English."
"What about, where's the nearest gay bar?"
"Try 'Dónde está el más cercano gay bar?'"
"And that French one you said. Tell me that again."
"Perhaps that's not too good an idea."
But they insisted, so I said it, crossing my fingers that they wouldn't use it. 'Un beau gosse nous montre son cul et sa jolie petite chatte je veux la manger.' And they wrote it down.
Later back in our room, Peter asked me. "What did the French mean?"
"A beautiful guy shows us his arse and his pretty little hole. I want to eat it."
"OK," said Peter and did it, and I did too and then a whole lot more.
* * * * * *
We knocked on Eddie and Brian's door the following morning as we were going down to breakfast. There was no answer and we assumed that they had got back late and were sleeping it off.
Spanish breakfasts seemed to consist of the sort of food we'd normally have somewhat later in the day, tortillas, burritos, quiche and for a moment I hankered after the traditional English one, bacon, egg, sausage and beans and a pot of tea. But the coffee was good and the sunlight sparkled on the sea. Back home it would probably have been grey and overcast if not actually raining.
We had a table which overlooked the hotel garden, rather parched but what flowers there were were bright red and orange. Looking out of the window, I noticed a group of guys coming up the path. Two golden haired ones we identified immediately as Eddie and Brian. Who the other four, dark haired and olive skinned were, we did not know. There was a surprisingly affectionate farewell at the door and Eddie and Brian came in alone.
They looked tired but pleased with themselves. We poured them coffee and they munched on burritos.
"You were up early this morning," said Peter.
Brian looked smug. "We haven't been to bed yet," he said.
"Who were those guys you were with?" I asked.
Brian came out with, "Los chicos, con quienes fuimos a la playa, son nuestros amigos."
I struggled with this for a while. I made out 'boys, beach and friends'. Then I gave up. "Your accent is so bad," I said. "I couldn't quite understand."
"The accent is perfect," said Brian. "Rico taught me himself."
"The boys, with whom we went to the beach, are our friends," translated Eddie. "And I mean 'friends' in the most intimate sense of the word."
"There were four of them. Does that mean you had two each? You sluts!" I said.
"Actually all four, turn and turn about," said Eddie. "They were insatiable."
"They're taking us to the nude beach at Cantarrijan this afternoon, and there's a gay restaurant called 'Beyond the Rainbow' and a gay pub called 'Bogey' for this evening. Camp isn't it?"
"Or should we say 'No es verdad?'"
And to think I had worried that Eddie and Brian might get bored here.
"And they want you to go with us. The 'marido y esposa' as they called you, husband and wife."
"As long as they know that's what we are," said Peter. "Who are they, by the way?"
"Rico, Silvio, Felipe and Quique," said Brian.
"Key-kay?" we both said.
"It's a pet name for Enrique," and Brian blushed, something which I had never thought possible.
"I can see which one you like best," I said.
"Camarero," said Eddie. "dos mas burritos, por favor."
"Yes, sir," said the waiter in impeccable English. "With or without ketchup?"
The beach at Cantarrijan is a ten minute drive from town. We wondered how we were going to get eight guys into our hired car without ruining the suspension and/or breaking the law but the Spanish lads had their own car, or at least an open top jeep, and we split up, Eddie and Brian going with Silvio and Quique, Felipe and Rico climbing in with us.
Felipe and Rico were brothers and they could have been twins except that Rico insisted he was many years older than his younger brother. They were both strikingly handsome with Mediterranean features and black hair, almost as glossy as my own Peter's. They were both clearly entranced by his blue eyes los ojos azul.
"Remember you're with me," I warned Peter.
He gazed up to heaven as if he was an innocent angel and then twitched his bum at the brothers who laughed uproariously. "Mi marido," I said firmly, and they laughed again.
Not that it was necessary to speak Spanish because their English was very good only occasionally dropping into their native tongue. I let Felipe drive because he said he was the better driver and Rico was 'loco'. He insisted that Peter sit in the front with him so I was in the back with 'mad' Rico, who immediately displayed one aspect of his 'madness' by putting his hand in my crotch and squeezing my prick.
I protested but he pointed over the front seat where Felipe was doing the same with my Peter when he had a hand free from changing gear or wrenching the wheel over to take a turn at top speed. If this was sane driving then I was exceedingly glad that Rico was in the back with me and I let him fondle me, my terror at the speed we were driving at and the screech of tyres on the curves making sure that I didn't get much more than a half erection.
Well, it should have taken ten minutes according to the guidebook but we were nearly at the Cerro Gordo tunnel within five and the 1.5 km drive down the steep ravine to the beach took less than two. We stopped with a screech of tyres and a flurry of fine sand particles.
"This is first bay," said Rico in the guise of a tour guide. "Here there are toilet facilities and two restaurants. Is a mix of nakeds and textile, not so exciting. The second bay is totally naked. Is good for all things and sea is clear for snorkelling and scuba dives. We go second bay. Yes?"
By this time Eddie and Brian and the other two Spanish lads had arrived, Eddie looking a bit shaken though Brian seemed to be too besotted with Quique to have noticed the terrors of the journey.
It was a pleasant enough little bay, the shingle and sand was dark, looked volcanic to my untrained eye. The cliffs behind through a gap in between which we had made our precipitous descent were sprinkled with greenery. There were several chalet type shelters and two buildings which we assumed were the restaurants. This was certainly the 'half and half' beach. Quite a few of the loungers wore 'textiles' as Rico had put it and those that weren't looked depressingly normal and chubby.
"We go through to next bay," said Felipe.
Three of the four Spanish boys suddenly broke into a run, one turning cartwheels, the others doing somersaults so that many people turned to look at them. I noticed Quique and Brian walking along behind the sightseers and then stopping to pick up something they presumably had dropped. But basically I had only eyes for the three lads whose athleticism was entrancing. Peter and I followed at a run to keep up with them though we didn't try any gymnastics which are not my speciality.
At last we reached the end where the cliff came down almost to the sea and saw the other bay on the other side. This was more like it. Naked bodies lay or sat on loungers or just on the sand and only a few were from 'under the bridge'. Young men (and a few women) sported in the sea, swimming or just horsing around. Our group had quietened down once we reached here and were joined by Quique and Brian who were carrying the beach bags for the others.
"Take off your clothes," said Eddie, suiting his actions to his words. I've never seen anyone undress so fast. Now I'm not usually a slouch when it comes to stripping, especially when my Peter is doing the suggesting but you must remember that I was pale (and possibly not all that interesting) and in front of these bronzed lovelies, I felt a bit reluctant.
"I don't want to get too burnt," I said.
"We put sun cream, factor 1000 on all over," said Rico.
"Peter can do it," I said taking off my shirt.
Silvio stepped forward, his smile showing gleaming teeth.
"My Peter, I meant."
To no avail. Suddenly all of them were on me removing trousers, trainers, socks and underpants. Then willing hands squeezed sun cream on and started rubbing it in. Every part of me was attended to in spite of my protests while I was held down so that I didn't squirm too much. It was all right until they got to the private areas.
"No," I said.
"You can't have that getting burnt," said Rico. And rubbed with a will, aided by what felt like a host of hands.
What with the warm, supple fingers and the cream, the obvious happened and I was soon sporting a full-bloodied erection.
"Muy guapo." I heard someone say.
"Enough, guys," I said. "Bastante! What about him?" I pointed to where Brian was standing, still fully clothed.
With cries of enthusiasm, our fun-loving friends fell on him and soon he was in a similar state, though, as Quique was doing most of the rubbing, he didn't make much protest.
"Into the sea," shouted someone, and then something in Spanish.
Peter looked at me. "Probably, last one in's a sissy," I said and we raced into the water, cocks a dangle.
What is it at the seaside that brings out the child in almost everyone? At home even dads build sandcastles ostensibly for their kids but woe betide one who kicks them down. Here we romped in the waves, jumped on each other, laughed and eventually threw ourselves down on the sand to toast ourselves in the sun.
Only Peter was quiet. I wondered whether he'd been upset when the guys rubbed sun cream on me but he shook his head when I asked him. He'd tell me eventually I knew.
It was a fun day, a day of sun and sex. Not that Peter and I actually had sex on the beach but the guys were sexy and they disappeared with Eddie and Brian some time in the afternoon leaving us alone for a while and we knew perfectly well what they were up to. In the shelter of the cliffs out of the noonday sun, I asked Peter if there was anything the matter and he shook his head but when the guys came back I noticed that he was giving worried looks at Brian. Not that Brian noticed as all; his attention was on Quique. I'd get it out of Peter that evening.
We returned to the cars getting dressed first as the sun was going down. This time the guys were quiet. They passed through the first bay inconspicuously and when we suggested we had a drink at the restaurant bar they said they had to get back. We could have one at the hotel of course which was only, as we knew ten minutes away, or if Felipe was driving, seven minutes.
"We will meet this evening," said Rico, "and go to Bogeys."
He asked us why we laughed at the name. "A 'bogey' in English is something you pick from your nose," I said.
"Here it is perhaps an elf, 'duende' or a ghost."
"Much more suitable," I said.
We were hungry when we got to the Hostal Balcon. We washed the salt off in the shower, taken together, which was fun. We examined each other's tans (no tan line of course). Thanks to the liberal application of sun cream neither of us had burnt. In a few days, we decided, we would be as brown as our friends. Certainly Peter, who tanned easily would; I'd probably take a few days longer.
Under the shower, as we soaped each other, I asked again what had been the problem.
At first he was unwilling to say.
"Come on, Peter," I said, tenderly stroking that part of him which gave him most pleasure. "I saw the looks you were giving Brian. Something's wrong."
"Didn't you see them? No need to stop."
I didn't. "See them doing what? Getting off with Quique or whatever his name is. Nothing wrong in that."
"When the others started performing, you know somersaults and cartwheels and such."
"I saw them, and very pretty they looked too."
"Of course they did. That was the whole idea to attract attention."
"Show-offs," I said.
"And what were Brian and Quique doing?"
"I don't know." Peter was reaching a climax and I wasn't at the moment too interested in the discussion of the day's events.
"They went round behind and started picking up things."
"Um," I said, my mouth being full.
"They were stealing, Kevin. While the others were getting everyone's attention, they were stealing stuff."
That did grab my attention. I stopped doing what I had been doing and gazed at him, my mouth open.
"They're thieves," he said. "And you've stopped at entirely the wrong moment."
"I'm sorry." I prepared to pick up where I'd left off, but he brushed me aside.
"Never mind. What are we going to do?"
"If that's how they make their living," I said. "What's that to us? As long as they don't start pinching our stuff."
"I'm not talking about the Spanish lads. It's Eddie and Brian I'm concerned with. Brian's so besotted with Quique, he'd do anything he was asked to and Eddie probably just thinks it's a lark. What if they're caught? I don't think Spanish prisons are exactly holiday camps."
"Have you ever been to a holiday camp?"
"It's not a joke, Kevin. What are we going to do?"
"This is something we ought to do on our own. Heaven knows what Ross is doing back at home. He's probably got enough on his plate."
"This isn't my idea of a honeymoon, Pete," I said. "Why can't we just leave Eddie and Brian to sort themselves out. They are after all responsible adults."
"Responsible!" Peter's tone expressed his disbelief. "You say Eddie and Brian are responsible?"
I considered their lifestyle, their 'take every day as it comes' attitude, their behaviour in the London clubs where every visitor was a potential fuck. "You're right, honey. We'll speak to Eddie and Brian."
But it was not all that easy. Eddie and Brian were not in the hotel. In fact they'd left a message with the guy at the reception. "They said they'd meet up with you at Bogey's at about nine," he said. Then confidentially he added, "In case you don't know where it is, it's in the Plaza Tutti Frutti. In the Calle de Pintada." He gave us a big wink. I suppose everyone knew about us, or was everyone in Spain gay?
"Probably bi," said Peter as we noshed into yet another paella, this one with even less unidentifiable marine life.
Bogey's was almost like going into our old West End Club, 'Brownies', before it was shut down and the owner, Hank the Wank went to prison. There was the same or similar loud music, not flamenco as I'd expected, and the same high octave excitement, male bodies on the search for other male bodies. We felt immediately at home. And then, to cap it all there were Eddie and Brian propping up the bar and giving us that usual squeal of a greeting that they always did. We joined them, pushing our way through the crowd and getting a couple of pinches (bum) and gropes (cock) along the way all very friendly and with lots of wide grins.
"This is Francisco," said Eddie, introducing us to the guy behind the bar. "He's the owner. The first drink is free. What do you want?"
"What does everyone drink here?" asked Peter.
"Anything as long as it isn't sangria."
"Only tourists drink sangria in pubs," said Brian. "To the Spanish it's what punch is to most of the English-speaking world, a great social lubricant at a big house party but something you wouldn't dream of ordering in a bar."
"As if I would," I said, though to be honest that's what I had intended to ask for. "OK. I'll have what you're drinking."
"Two San Miguels, please."
A mite disappointing as San Miguel didn't taste much different from ordinary bottled beer but, when in Rome..... The music thumped in our ears and couples or indeed threesomes (and more) gyrated on the floor. The temperature rose.
I noticed Francisco ogling Eddie. I was glad it wasn't me because moustaches are not to my taste. Peter jumped as a passing dancer stuck a finger between his arse cheeks.
"Stand with your back to the bar," advised Eddie, "unless you're enjoying being goosed."
Ignoring the implied suggestion, Peter asked, "Where's the Spanish quartet?"
"They'll be along shortly. They live here. They have their own family obligations."
I wondered if that included selling on whatever had been stolen that day. "We need to talk," I said.
But, before we could bring up the subject, the gang arrived. Kisses all round and lots of laughter and jokes. "So you found the nose fruit," said Rico.
I was beginning to sort out the differences between our Spanish friends. Rico was the really lively one with sex on his mind most of the time. He seemed to have taken some sort of a fancy to me which was quite flattering as he was the youngest, sexiest and best looking of the lot. As long as it didn't go too far. His elder brother, Felipe, was taller and got on well with my Peter. I suspected he'd be quite willing to have a little dalliance with him but I knew, or at least hoped, that Peter, like me, knew where to draw the line.
Quique, short, thickset and muscly, was obviously Brian's favourite and finally serious Silvio, faute de mieux, had palled up with Eddie who seemed to have quietened down himself perhaps as a result.
We drank, danced, flirted, Brian and Quique disappeared half way through the evening and no one even seemed to notice. Eddie decided to make a complete night of it. What stamina! That would be the second night he and Brian hadn't used their hotel bedroom, hardly worth the cost, though of course Ross had paid for everything. Felipe and Rico suggested that Peter and I go with them to a private room upstairs, but we pleaded tiredness so they let us go with some real goodnight kisses. My, how that Rico can kiss! Obviously a family trait as, when Peter and I tried it out later that night, the technique was identical.
"We must really talk to Eddie and Brian tomorrow," said Peter, prior to our second honeymoon night.
In the morning there was an e-mail from Ross. 'Keep your heads down, guys. Somehow Hank's got wind of your fleeing the country and your destination. He may send some muscle after you. Keep stumm and your heads below the battlements. Make sure Eddie and Brian don't put it about too much and attract attention. Be quiet, reserved and responsible. Love, Ross.'
"Which three words describe Eddie and Brian best?" I asked, then added "NOT."
"Quiet, reserved, responsible."
"Exactly, and our performance yesterday was not exactly shy and retiring either. We'll have been noticed. The four English poofs who are staying at the Hostal Balcon. Anyone looking for us won't exactly have a difficult job."
"So what do we do?"
"We see Eddie and Brian and make a plan."
Unlikely as it seemed, Eddie and Brian were in their room. They looked blurry-eyed and as if they'd been up all night which they probably had. Although it was difficult for them to concentrate, we sat on their beds and told them of the situation, that Hank's minions were on our track, that they were out to 'get us'. Eddie looked frightened as well he might. It was Eddie who had had most to do with Hank and knew how ruthless and cruel he could be.
Brian said, "No problem. I'll go and stay with Quique. I'm pretty sure he won't mind."
"What a selfless idea," I said sarcastically. "We're so pleased for you."
"No, guys, I didn't mean it like that. I meant the Spanish guys could probably suggest somewhere for all of you in some out of the way place."
"Like a cave in the mountains?" said Peter.
I summed up the situation. "Problem one. Some crooks are on the way from England to sort us out. Might even be here already. Problem two. You're suggesting we entrust ourselves to a quartet of Spanish crooks to look after us."
Brian and Eddie stared at us. For a moment it looked as if they were going to deny all knowledge but then Eddie shrugged. "I guess you know," he said.
I hadn't meant it to come out quite like that but at least now it had cleared the air.
"Have you a better idea?" asked Eddie.
"I trust the Spanish boys," said Brian.
"Apart from just changing hotels, or moving to another town, or country, or emigrating to America, what else can we do? The possibilities are endless." I was feeling in a sarcastic mood.
"I vote we ask Silvio. He's probably the most serious of the four," said Peter.
"He's probably the ringleader of the group," I said.
"Vote," said Peter. "Who wants to ask the guys?"
Three hands went up immediately and reluctantly I raised mine.
"We'll have to tell them the whole story," I said.
Which is what we did.
They were taking us to the caves, a Nerja attraction which was inconceivable to miss (according to the hotel's guidebook). Well, at least being underground we might escape the unwelcome attentions of our pursuers.
We met up in a tapas bar and there, over a glass of vino and and a tapa which tasted mostly of garlic we told of our adventures in London, and of the persistent seeking of revenge by Hank the Wank. (Harry the Masturbator as we explained the term). The guys were enthralled.
"You are in danger," said Rico with what I thought was unnecessary enthusiasm. "We will protect you."
It was nice of him but we explained that we didn't know who our pursuers were and what they would look like. Only we stood out as white gay guys.
"But there are many of such," said Felipe, which was probably true.
"All the same we want to keep a low profile," said Peter.
That did need a bit of explanation but they got it in the end. "We will discuss the problem and come with a solution," said Silvio. Eddie giggled and I kicked his ankle. We did not want to embarrass the guy explaining his unintentional double entendre.
The caves of Nerja are only about the kilometres outside the town. We could have walked but Rico said, "Agapito will take us all." Agapito was the name of their jeep. It meant apparently, 'beloved' but loading eight lusty young men into it didn't seem a particularly kind way to treat a 'beloved'. It was obvious though why Rico had suggested it. We sat on each other's laps and there was a considerable amount of wandering hands and much laughter until we arrived. I tried to hold on to Peter but found other hands were there before me.
"Tell us about these caves," I said in an attempt to divert these not entirely unwelcome attentions.
"Very old," said Rico, "older even than Felipe. Ow! Mis cojones!"
Felipe had reached back and given his brother a sharp tweak in the balls. Rico subsided.
Silvio took up the story. "Very old. Very famous. Magnificent stalactites and even cave paintings dating back 20,000 years. They find bones, human and animal inside. People and hyenas lived there for a time."
"Together?" I asked.
"No," said Silvio dismissively. "Separately. Hyenas would eat humans and vice versa." He didn't appreciate my sense of humour.
We arrived and decamped. A couple of tourists stood staring open-mouthed as the eight of us got out from the vehicle. At the entrance to the cave was a notice. 'Please to wait here for a guide'
"We do not need guide," said Silvio, who seemed to have taken charge. "We know the caves front to back."
We went inside. Although lit, it seemed very dark after the bright sunlight. Felipe went over to the payment booth and had a few words with the guy there. Then he came back. "It's OK," he said. "That's my cousin. We do not need to pay."
In a glass case was the skeleton of a human. It was lying on its right side and looked as if it was trying to get up, head and upper part of the torso slightly raised from the ground. Lit by a greenish light it had a certain eerie quality and I was glad I wasn't here alone.
"Tourist who got lost," said Silvio, and I realised I'd been wrong about his not having a sense of humour, macabre though it might be.
It was cool after the heat outside and I wished I'd brought a sweater. The others though were walking ahead and I ran to catch up with them. The stalactites were indeed impressive, some resembling dripping wax, others looked like lacework hanging from the roof and all lit by this cool green light.
Even the Spanish guys, who had obviously been here many times before were subdued. They stopped laughing and joking and we could hear only Silvio's soft voice as he pointed out this configuration, that especially fine one.
Once we heard voices, obviously a party, with the strident voice of a guide delivering his patter in what sounded like Russian. Silvio hurried us into a side cave and silently we watched them go by.
"You said there were paintings," said Brian. Even he was hushed.
"They are in parts not open to the public," said Silvio. "But I will take you."
He took us through more caves and then into an unlit one which had a rope across the entrance. 'Entrada proibido' said a sign which was pretty self-explanatory.
"It's very dark," I said. I was suddenly acutely aware that there were thousands, probably millions, of tons of rock above my head. Going into complete darkness wasn't all that appealing.
"I have torch," said Felipe and a beam of light snapped into the void, making everything outside it looking even darker, if that were possible.
"Come on," said Silvio. "If we are caught here, even our cousin will not be able to excuse us."
We went into the blackness and turned corners, avoiding more stalactites and stalagmites. We seemed to be entering into the very heart of the mountain. I knew that these caves had been formed by a long-ago river and pictured the waters rushing through the passages. It wasn't exactly a pleasant thought.
The torch light played on the walls. Unlit by the commercial green lighting they were grey and rough. Suddenly Silvio stopped. "I am not sure..." he began.
"You don't mean we're lost," I said and I could hear the panic in my voice. Peter held my hand, or at least I assumed it was Peter.
"Ah. It is OK. Here is a hunting scene. His torch light lit up some squiggles, stick men, and the shape of a large animal with horns or antlers which dwarfed the figures chasing it. The drawing was in red ochre.
"These are perhaps 20,000 years old," said Silvio, and his voice was hushed and reverent.
We stood in silence
And then jumped as we heard voices from behind us. Silvio switched off his torch and the darkness enclosed us. The voices were talking in English, not Spanish. They obviously didn't belong to officials from the cave authorities.
"We'll never find them ," said one voice. "Surely they wouldn't have come down 'ere."
"They didn't pass us on the way out," said another, "and we saw 'em come in."
The voices were hoarse with a hint of Cockney, London voices.
"Per'aps there are uvver ways out," said the first one.
"Fuck it. Let's go back. This place gives me the fuckin' creeps."
It was giving me them too. I knew there were my friends around me but I could neither hear nor see them. I put out a hand and touched something which jumped and emitted a gasp.
"What's that?" said one of the voices.
We held our breaths.
"Ain't nuffin'. Come on, let's get out."
Footsteps sounded, got fainter, disappeared.
We breathed again.
"Was that them?" asked Eddie, his face in the torch light looking ghastly pale. "Was that the people sent to find us?"
"I guess so," I said.
"Let's get out of here."
"There are eight of us," said Felipe, "and only two of them. We could have taken them easy."
"They might have had guns," I said.
"Guns!" said Rico. "Then they are real criminals." Even he sounded subdued.
"We will ask my cousin."
At the kiosk, Silvio and Felipe had an animated conversation with the man. They returned with news. There had been two English men come in "with odd accents," added Silvio. Apparently they had asked whether four English guys had gone in ahead. "They are our friends," they had said, "and we want to catch them up."
As Felipe's cousin had let us in without payment, he had denied seeing us, though the two men were obviously suspicious. They had seen us come in.
"They'll be waiting outside," said Brian.
"If they've seen us already, it won't matter, and they'll hardly do anything with all the tourists around." Peter sounded reasonable.
"Unless they shoot us," said Eddie.
"That's right. Let's look on the bright side," I said.
From the gloom of the entrance, we peered out into the bright sunlight. Two men, thickset and with shaved heads, were sitting in a grey SEAT Toledo. "They have no style," said Rico, "to choose such a car. Look at its big arse." Certainly the high rear end of the make gave it a strangely back-heavy look.
"Bugger style," I said. "How do we get out?"
Quique grabbed Brian by the arm. "We go out looking as if we own the place, get into the jeep and then fuck off like crazy."
"And if they chase us?"
Felipe looked arrogant. "No one knows Nerja like I know Nerja. I escape down callejones. No trouble."
"Callejones?" I asked.
"Alleyways," said Rico. "My brother does not speak English good."
So out we strode, personally hoping that I looked more confident than I felt. I saw the men straighten up in the car, throw their cigarettes out of the window and heard the start of the engine. At least they didn't appear to have guns in their hands.
We clambered into the jeep pretending to be insouciant. Felipe took off with a screech of tyres and produced a G force which tumbled the five of us in the back into a mixed-up heap. If I'd thought he had driven fast on our way to Cantarrijan, this was nothing to the speed we went now. "I only hope we do not meet police," said Rico whose lips seemed to be wedged into my right ear. His breath tickled. Someone's hands were nestling into my groin; I hoped they belonged to Peter.
We screamed onto the main road, the N340 which led back to Nerja. "N roads, speed limit 100 kph," said Rico. I figured we were doing a good bit more than that. "On autovia we can go 120."
Please not, I thought. I wasn't sure how much that was in miles per hour but it sounded fast. I managed to turn round so that I could peer over the back. The grey Toledo was following but a good way back. "It cannot go so fast," said Rico, "because it is arse heavy."
Of course we were weighted down with twice the number of passengers the jeep was built for but Felipe did indeed know all the narrow roads. We turned into one with a skid which put someone's head into my lap and then just as quickly took it out again. There was a furiously driven straight bit and then another right angle turn. Bodies bounced around in the back like balls in a lottery machine.
"Oof," said someone as the air was expelled from his chest.
"Slower, slower," pleaded Brian but Felipe wasn't having any. I began to feel sick. That would be the worst thing, except perhaps being shot dead by our pursuers. Two more rights and a left and the Toledo had disappeared.
Then Felipe took pity. He slowed down and took the next few turnings at a legal pace. We sorted ourselves out.
"Where are we?" asked Peter.
"Bienvenidos a Punta Lara," said Rico, "and the vineyard of our uncle. He also has empty villa where you can stay for a while. They will not find you here."
"But our passports, our clothes and everything are at the hotel," I said.
"There is no problem," said Silvio. "The receptionist at the Balcon is my cousin. I will tell him you are staying with some friends for a few days and need clothes and things. You will not need your passports until you leave."
Was everyone related to everyone else in this place?
"What if those two men ask at the hotel?" asked Eddie.
"He will tell them he does not know where you are, which is true. He is of course not allowed to give personal details to strangers. You will not be discovered. There is no danger."
I always think of this as 'famous last words', but I didn't say anything.
Uncle and aunt, zio and zia, were charming though they didn't speak much English and were clearly a bit out of their depth at the arrival of eight young men. They had an old world courtesy and dispensed beautiful Spanish wine in elegant glasses I was afraid I'd drop and break.
"He says 'any friends of ours are friends of theirs'." said Rico, "and of course you can stay for a few days at the villa. I explained how you'd been robbed by Spanish villains and they are ashamed."
Felipe did, I must admit, have some difficulty in meeting our eyes. "We will get your stuff from the hotel," he said when we were alone again.
The villa was beautiful, the rooms open and airy and with a much better view of the sea than we had from the hotel. The room we were in had a huge double bed, suitable for more than two, it seemed. "Tonight we'll spend in," Peter decided and I agreed. Eddie and Brian could do what they liked though it might be safer if they didn't go into Nerja centre. They went off with Silvio and Quique.
Peter and I ate, courtesy of a little restaurant, a couple of hundred yards down the road. Real Spanish food as the number of locals attested.
Felipe and Rico found us there. They were carrying essentials and also the laptop.
"You left it switched on," said Felipe reprovingly.
"No I didn't, " I said. "I remember switching off before we started out this morning."
"Brains in his balls," said Rico, settling comfortably beside me and stroking my leg in a friendly fashion.
"Well, never mind. It won't have done it any harm. Not that we can use it, unless there's an Internet cafe near."
"Very close," said Rico, and stroked even higher.
I put my hand firmly on top of his to prevent further exploration. "Before we go back to the villa, I want to send Ross an e-mail to tell him what happened today."
It was indeed very close and with a coffee and a brandy close by, I powered up, prepared to tell all to Ross. But there was already a message from him.
"Urgent," it said, "no point in trying to contact me. Am already on route for Spain. Meet me tomorrow at Bar del Mar, Burriana Beach, Nerja. 8.00 pm. Ross."
"He's got that wrong," said Felipe. "Bar del Mar is closed on Saturdays."
"Ross never gets things wrong," said Peter.
"He did once," I said. "He thought Split was a bottom."
Even so I sent a return message saying we'd meet at 8.00 pm at the Cafe del Mar.
"And anyway," added Rico, "tomorrow is festival of San Juan and the sardines."
"Do you ever feel," asked Peter, "that we've strayed into the surrealist world of Salvador Dali?"
"Ah," said Felipe, "Salvador Domingo Felipe Jacinto Dalí y Domènech, Marquis of Pubol. Mad painter but nothing to do with sardines."
"So what is?" I asked.
Felipe and Rico took it in turns to explain, sometimes in their enthusiasm speaking both at the same time but we got the gist.
Rico started. "It is a fiesta for the death of the sardine."
"At one time catching sardines was the living for all the fishermen. Now comes the end of the season so celebrations are in fancy dress with priests, gravediggers, the sardine's wife, mourners, ghosts, witches and even death in the procession.:
"At midday the funeral procession begins, led by a huge model of a sardine held high. It goes round Nerja, and then back to the square and the church bells ring. The sardine is raised up and down by the bearers as the mourners wail and scream hysterically."
"Lots of noise and drinking."
"At the end, the sardine is carried in a fishing boat which rows out to sea and is then blown up with fireworks and everyone cheers."
"Is fun," concluded Rico. "Especially the drinking."
"Pity we have to miss it," said Peter. "We can't go into Nerja in case those guys see us."
"We will get you disguise," said Felipe. "Anyway you have to meet your friend Ross."
"Disguise?" I asked, fearing the worst.
"What you like to be? Priest, ghost, witch or wife to sardine?"
"I think I'd like to stay in the villa," I said.
"No. Cannot," said Rico. "We will get you disguise."
"Not the sardine's wife," I said.
"Let's go home now. It's been a long day," said Peter.
"We come with you," said Felipe.
"I can't wait to get to bed." I said. Though it was getting late, there were still many people on the streets and on the pavement cafes.
"Big bed. Big enough for four," said Rico, smiling.
"It's our honeymoon. Luna de miel. We sleep alone, or rather together."
"Yes, together," said Rico enthusiastically.
Were we to spend the whole night fighting off our horny Spanish friends? But they were joking, I think, as after they delivered us to the villa, they left us with promises that they would be around tomorrow with breakfast and disguises and there would be much 'fun'.
"Not too early," begged Peter.
"I hadn't thought our honeymoon would be quite like this," I said after they'd gone. "I pictured it as just us together, alone."
"Well, we are now."
"So we are. Let's make the most of it."
So we did.
The day after dawned bright and clear, blue-skied, sun-kissed as the Mediterranean is supposed to be. Peter brewed some coffee and brought it back to bed and we sipped and did what we always do when there's no need to get up (in the sense of out of bed).
All too soon though there were sounds from downstairs. Eddie and Brian with the rest of the gang. Don't Eddie and Brian ever spend the night in the rooms allotted to them?
We managed to make ourselves more or less decent before they burst in, not even bothering with a discreet knock on the door. You'd think entering a honeymoon suite would have more conventions.
However their appearance made both of us spring back with a cries of terror. Their faces were painted to resemble skulls. They were wearing long black garments that reached the floor.
"Come on, girls," said Eddie. "There's festivities to celebrate. Today is the Feast of the Sardine."
"You don't think you'll attract attention looking like that?"
"You'll get more looks if you're not wearing it."
And they were right. After we'd got up, showered and done all the necessary morning things, aided by Rico, who seemed to want a part in everything, however intimate, got ourselves painted and cloaked, we found that everyone outside was similarly disguised. It was the unadorned tourists who stood out.
The square in Nerja was packed when we got there. It was difficult to see anything apart from the crowds of celebrants, all dressed in some sort of black garments. A 'gravedigger' carried a spade, 'priests' waved their missals and 'blessed all and sundry. Only the visitors, strangely garbed in holiday gear stood out as 'aliens'. The noise was fantastic, drums sounded, trumpets blared. It seemed that everyone carried some sort of music maker and all played something different. There was even a full municipal brass band to add to the cacophony
There was a sudden shout and the 'sardine', a huge model fish painted blue with a red face, staring eyes and fearsome looking spines on its back, was hoisted into the air. The bells from all the churches around added to the noise and, after a few false starts, the procession began. It seemed that every street, however tiny had to be traversed while people in their houses came out as we passed and gave us glasses of wine. A 'ghost' gave me a glass of toxic tasting 'brandy' and would not take no until I'd finished it.
So the afternoon passed. As Rico had said, in much fun, noise and drinking. The guys didn't desert us though it was sometimes difficult to know who was embracing us, our friends or total strangers. Eventually we arrived back at the square where real priests blessed the sardine, and the crowd and scattered holy water over us. Then we made our way towards the sea, the 'music' settling down to a slow rhythmic drum beat while the mourners wailed and screamed.
We reached Burriana Beach as dusk fell. "Where's the Bar del Mar?" I asked Felipe.
He pointed to one of the beachside buildings. It was in darkness. "I told you, they don't open Saturday."
"It's nearly eight o'clock. Ross will be there."
"Wait until the sardine sails," said Rico. He grabbed hold of my hand and pulled me towards the sea.
The guys who had been carrying it had now placed it on a rowing boat. They clambered in and started to row away from the shore. The crowds waited filling the beach but up on the promenade a figure stood outside the darkened frontage of the Bar del Mar. "It's Ross," I shouted, and my voice carried now that the people were quiet.
I waived and the figure noticed. Certainly he'd seen me because he came towards me. Then he was joined by another. "He's brought Douglas," I called to Peter. "That's Peter's cousin," I explained to Felipe and Rico.
The two figures pushed their way through the crowd, Ross, tall and slim and Douglas shorter and broader, except that, when they got closer, I could see that they were both large and burly, and their heads were shaved.
My so-called disguise wouldn't save me now. I'd given myself away when I'd waved and called out 'Ross'.
I turned to find Peter but he'd disappeared in the crowd. Only Eddie and Brian were there, Eddie in 'widow's weeds' and Brian as a gravedigger with a spade. Then the two guys were on me, one each grabbing my arms. They hustled me up the beach. No one seemed to object; there had been a lot of grabbing and embracing during the day and perhaps they thought this was just another friendly embrace.
People started cheering. I couldn't see but assumed that something was being done to the sardine. "Help," I shouted but my cry was drowned by the cheering. I struggled but to no avail. They were big men and much stronger than I was.
The crowd was getting thinner further up the beach. Soon they wouldn't have to force their way through and I'd be lost. I kicked out and caught one of their shins. He cursed and twisted my arm behind my back so that I cried out.
Then there was a huge explosion. It even startled my captors. For a moment they stopped and turned. Fireworks lit up the sky and their faces were red and green. It didn't make them look more attractive. They turned back and, as they did so, a figure in black swung something. There was a clang as Brian's spade hit the back of one of their heads. He went down without another sound and released my arm. At the same time the sardine's wife, Eddie in drag of course, launched himself onto the back of the other guy, finger nails raking his face.
He uttered a shriek and tried to throw him off. As he turned I kicked him in the testicles, hard. I swear the guy's eyes crossed. He grabbed his groin but didn't go down. Eddie was thrown off and landed on the ground.
The guy took off in a limping run up the beach. Then the other guys arrived. Someone, Silvio I think, got him in a superb rugby tackle and that stopped him. In the lights of the exploding fireworks another male figure appeared, tall, slim, suave and immaculate.
"Children," he said, "I can't leave you for a couple of days without you're getting into trouble."
It was of course Ross.
Later it was time for explanations.
Later meaning after the sardine celebrations were over and the two guys had been carted off to a Spanish prison, not, I am led to believe a pleasant experience. I don't know what influence Ross has but after a little private talk between him and the authorities, the bully boys were banged up and there was no talk of Eddie, Brian or me being charged with GBH (or the Spanish equivalent).
We sat in a bar and talked. Of course I realised afterwards in spite of my protestation to the contrary that I must have left my laptop on in the hotel, and that Hank's guys had managed to get in and read the email from Ross. They had obviously manufactured the email to me ostensibly from Ross and arranged the meeting at the Bar del Mar. I had ruined that when I sent back a reply to Ross and he had become suspicious and hot-footed it to Spain, arriving just in time. He's good at that, is Ross.
So what now about Hank the Wank in prison. Twice he had sent people after us who had failed. Ross cheered us up with the news that the 'vendetta' against us had been changed to someone else after Hank had had his legs broken in jail. Who could have arranged to do that? Ross looked innocent and not for the first time I was glad that Ross was on our side.
Ross was taken with the Spanish guys or vice versa. Even Rico changed his affections from me to Ross. I was a bit hurt but as Rico said, "You are married to Peter. Ross is free. And anyway he has something of the look of you." I had never realised that but I wasn't unduly upset by the comparison.
So the remainder of our honeymoon was much quieter and much more like Peter and I had planned it. We saw our Spanish friends from time to time but mostly we spent it together, bathing in the sea (with textiles), drinking a glass of vino in the bar. Once we went to La Gata Loca in Malaga which was fun but we figured we could wait to get back to London before we went to the clubs again.
Eddie and Brian were a bit misty-eyed when they left Silvio and Quique at the end of the holiday. No doubt they swore they'd keep in touch but knowing Eddie and Brian I doubted it.
My staff at the Library were so pleased to get me back and replace La Blagstock that they actually forgave me for deserting them, especially after we told them the whole story.
And Duggie seemed to be getting on well with Ross.
For the time being, everything seems to be going our way. Whoops! Is that tempting providence?
© Michael Gouda 2007
Date started: Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Date Finished: Saturday, September 8, 2007
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