To say I was dumbfounded was an understatement. I just looked at him, mouth drooping open like a bloodhound, for such a long time that he laughed. Then the tension, the wound spring of tension, released itself all in one go and I think I gave a shout that astonished him, for he stepped backwards in some sort of alarm. But I sat down in the shower tray because my legs wouldn't hold me up any more, and I just looked up at this little brother of mine with the boy's slim legs and thighs, the man's penis, the adolescent's belly and chest, the boy/girl face that I still recognised from all that time ago when it sat on top of a child's body..... And the last vestiges of care that he might not want from me the love that I wanted from him slipped away. For as far ahead as I could see we were one. There was nothing I needed to hide from him now.
Seeing me sitting there he recovered his composure and crossed to me, and put his hands on my shoulders.
"Are you all right, Martin?"
I nodded, recovered my breath and started.
"James, if you knew what I'd been through this week, not wanting you to think that I......was anything except a friend to you, while all the time you felt about me like that.....well.....all I can say is that it's been hell. A wonderful hell because you're here, but an emotional hell all the same. I've stopped myself doing and saying all sorts of things that I wanted to, because I was scared I might frighten you off. That first night when you fondled me I didn't want to show I was awake because I thought I might end up doing something you might not want. Then went you went to the toilet and wanked, I wanted so much to be there with you that it hurt. And when, last night, I had the opportunity of going even further with you, I had to stop myself because it would have been rape, or molestation, if you hadn't wanted it.
"But now....oh hell, James. What are we going to do? Do you really feel the same about me?"
Another longish pause.
"I think I must. I mean, the last five years I've used you to size up others I've met, as I said. And all the time I've been wanting to contact you, write to you, or visit. But I couldn't. Then when Dad found your address I was impatient to write, but when I sat down with a bit of paper I realised you must be a man now, and you wouldn't want to have anything to do with me. I doubted you'd have a girlfriend, but couldn't be sure."
He stopped. I grinned.
"Then Dad said he was going to phone, and I asked if I could talk to you afterwards, and they said you'd just moved, and gave me your number. Dad told me to wait until you'd said yes to the canals, and that was the most nervous half hour or so of my life. Then I phoned you and heard your voice, and it was all I could do to make sense on the phone, hearing your voice, and how you were with me.
"And when I first saw you in the car park.... I was sure I'd been right, knew that I wanted to get to know you properly again, really well as we knew each other at Amberdale, and as if there had been no time passing in the meantime. If you'd asked me to come into the shower with you that night I'd have thrown my clothes off and stood there for inspection before you showered me."
He stopped again and gulped. "Have I said too much?"
But I was near tears with emotion, and hoped he would think the glint in my eyes was due to no more than shower water..
I got up, and gently put my arms round him, and held him close. And there we stayed, until the draft from the window made us cold. I looked at him.
"Well? And where are you going to sleep tonight? With all these double beds free you can take your choice. You don't have to share with me any more."
He looked at me, astonished. Then slowly that grin unzipped, just as it used to, and I laughed with him.
"I suppose I could start off in Mum and Dad's room, and you could come and visit me there. Then I could go for sanctuary into your parents' room, but you might come and look for me there too. Then I might just give up and go into our own room, and have you really do all sorts of things to me there. But be careful, 'cos it just might not be one sided."
I laughed out loud. "I should hope it wouldn't. If it was, I'd think you didn't mean all those things you said."
He grew serious again. "You know those things that adults say about you being too young to know you're in love? Well, I'm not sure, but I think it's rubbish. I mean, you love your parents and you know it. Why aren't you meant to know when you love somebody else? Do parents get jealous? Or didn't they have a love when they were fourteen? If they didn't, that's tough, 'cos at the moment I feel happier than I've ever felt in my life."
Yet another pause. I was amazed at him yet again. "James, you really have worked all this out, haven't you? How come you've thought all this out at fourteen, when I didn't even know I was qu.....homosexual at that age?"
"It just seemed something that I had to do. I did a lot of reading in reference libraries -- I was even thrown out of one. The librarian said I was a filthy minded little sod when he looked over my shoulder and saw what I was reading. But almost every one of the books said something different. It's like the wanking bit. Old dictionaries say masturbation's disgusting, the little pamphlets that get sent out to parents about how to bring up their teenagers say it's natural and harmless. Should I believe modern thinking and what I feel in myself, or should I believe dictionaries which have repeated the same thing over the last fifty years?"
He stopped for breath. I waited.
"I decided that, if people who write things like that either can't agree, or else modern thinking is different from old thinking, then I'll go along with what makes most sense. And someone once wrote that being a homosexual isn't something you can choose, it's something that happens to you. I decided, whether I liked it or not, I had to accept what I was. And knowing -- or believing -- you were the same is the one thing that kept me going, and stopped me from giving up on everything."
At this I just held him tightly, and tears again came to my eyes. And not just because of him but because of Mark. And the knowledge that I'd been the one to give James support, to help him through, all the way between England and Canada and without doing anything! I didn't know what to say. But I think actions spoke louder than words, because he seemed comforted. Eventually he struggled a bit, so I let go.
"Sorry. I've got to go to the toilet. I'll see you in a few minutes, Ok?"
"You don't want any help?"
He grinned again. "Not this time, thanks!"
So I went to our cabin. I felt like doing nothing except thinking. And the more I thought, the more it seemed that what was happening was right, for all the reasons we had told each other. But I also knew that I was having an affair with a boy of fourteen, and I was only nineteen myself. If we had any sex at all it would be illegal for us both. But then, in a way, we already had.
When he returned I was on my back, staring at the ceiling. He came and knelt on the floor by my side, and as if he was adult brought his hand up to stroke my brow. I turned my head to look at him.
"You know all this is illegal, don't you? You're too young by seven years and I'm too young by two."
"I don't see anybody else in the room."
"Well, I'm not going to say anything to anyone, and I suppose you're not."
"Certainly not! But it's still illegal."
"Does it feel wrong?"
"No! It feels absolutely right, and you know it does 'cos you've said so."
"Then what's the problem?"
"I know, I know. And I know you're going to come to bed with me, and I hope we're going to be giving each other love and pleasure, and I know that it will be what each of us wants, just like the mutual comfort that we both wanted all that time ago." I turned back to look at the ceiling. His face came nearer to mine, lifted, and kissed my forehead.
I was still in something of a cleft stick. I wanted him so badly, I loved him. He loved me, he was anxious, he was available. And we were both under the age for homosexual relations, which an idiot government had set at twenty-one.
"It's wrong, James."
"Oh, Martin, you are silly at times. If it doesn't feel wrong, then it isn't. We aren't offending anybody. What we're likely to do won't damage either of us. If our parents were here -- well, we're meant to be sleeping in the same bed, aren't we? And what's `sex between consenting adults' anyway? What does it mean. I mean actual actions? We're not going to fuck each other's arses, are we? 'Cos if we are, count me out. If sex means kissing, then half the women in the world are illegal 'cos they kiss each other. If sleeping together's illegal, then our parents are encouraging us. If feeling your body's illegal, then how can anything that feels so good and makes me so happy be wrong or illegal? And why should my taking your willy in my mouth be any different from sucking your finger or your toe?"
I did my best to digest all this. It's very difficult when the one person in the world who you love is a disembodied head a few inches away from your ear, when you know that any minute he's going to leap into bed beside you, and you want him to do so so badly that it hurts. I said nothing. He watched me for ages, it seemed. Then he made an impatient noise, rose slowly to his feet, so giving me a close up of every slim inch of his body, cocked a leg over my prone form, knelt, and lowered his buttocks so that each one was resting on one of my thighs.
He looked at me, and that grin slowly unzipped itself, just like the first ever time, until it threatened to bisect his head.
A hand went on each of my shoulders. The knees slid slowly backwards, the legs aligned with mine, the chest came down on mine, and the face dropped gently towards mine. Oh, and his penis was resting against mine. I was supporting his full weight. As I let him lie there I could feel changes alongside my own penis, and the realisation that he was becoming erect caused mine do the same, not the normal sort of slow erection but a sudden rush of blood into it. In fact, it happened just like at Amberdale when I was myself fourteen. To allow each of us to maintain comfort he lifted his middle a bit occasionally, until each organ lay parallel to the other. His nose touched mine, and from the distance of two inches he looked into my eyes.
All my resolve not to break the law by `having sex' with a fourteen year old, all my good intentions, just vanished. The most powerful, overriding thought or emotion was that here was my love, my only love, merging with my mind and spirit and body, and it was right, and it was good, and he needed my reassurance.
So I just gathered him into my arms with a small moan, moved my nose out of the way, and once again kissed him.
When it got uncomfortable, about half an hour later, he slid off and lay at my side, and I turned to face him. We had only a few days left, I knew, and if he wasn't dreading the thought of our parting on Saturday, I was. I didn't want to lose a moment of looking at him. He lay there looking at me, and I discovered later that the same thought was in his mind too. And surprisingly, in this way, not even touching each other, we drifted off to sleep.
I woke later to find that I was freezing cold. We'd forgotten about bedclothes, and we were still looking into each other's eyes except that his were shut. I reached down and pulled the covers over us, then snuggled up to him as close as I could get. He moaned something and put his arm over my waist. I did the same, and, warmer now, went back to sleep.
Once again I woke, when the sky was that blue-grey colour that precedes dawn. He was looking at me. For the second time since I'd known him he had a Mona Lisa smile on his face: not the usual unzipped grin, but a gentle, tender, curve to the lips, and over it the eyes were sleepy and somehow smiling too. And the love radiated from him. And his hand was once again covering my penis. Not doing anything, just resting there.
So I looked at him again, this time with the love and the passion welling into my heart again, and the blood welling into the part of me that he was holding. I put my hand on his own manhood. Together we explored each other, there, on the belly, on the testicles, under the testicles, and now it was all without the hindrance of having to wonder if the other one wanted it. We knew.
We played, and felt, and gently squeezed, and fondled, and tickled, and laughed, and grew silent. Excitement grew between us and at last I started to kiss his chest, his nipples, his belly-button... and down to the still silky hair above his excitement where my hand still roamed. And I kissed him there, and underneath so that he moaned and wriggled in ecstasy at the unknown sensation. I kissed him everywhere my hand had been, to the accompaniment of the occasional moans from him and little gasps at unexpected sensations. I drank in his smell: the musk of a night's sleep, and along with it the young smell, the smell of young boyhood, but tinged with the sharp edges of the approaching manhood. And I revelled in it.
At last I kissed from the root of his member to the tip, then with my tongue I licked up it too, and this time didn't stop when I arrived at the tip, but drew my tongue over his half-exposed glans, tasting the fluid that had been gathering there. He gasped: his head came up to look at me, then flopped back on the pillow again.
A strangled voice said: "Martin..... What are you going to do?"
"Everything that you'll like, and nothing you won't. Just relax. I promise I'm not going to hurt or harm you in any way."
I waited until I could feel his muscles soften into repose, then, as softly as I knew how, brought a hand up to cradle, to caress, his testicles.
"Mmmm," he said.
I brought my mouth slowly down onto the penis head, I licked at it, made sure my lips covered my teeth, and gripped them over the foreskin to pull it back.
And then I just kept going until the glans just reached the back of my throat. And time and time again I pulled my head off, swept down on him again, off and down, fondling his testicles as I did so. The moans in his reedy, young boy/man's voice came to my ears as music. His soft hairs that were starting to decorate the belly over his penis tickled my nose each time I went down and told me that here was a real boy, my love who was experiencing this attention for the first ever time. I wanted our expression of our love to be for him as good as I could possibly make it and wanted to go on like this for ever.
But of course no one can.
I felt him tense once again as the magic of the orgasm started to take hold.
"M..m..martin......I'm gonna....I...OHH......shit.....Ahhh......oh....martin....sorry....I'm so...oh...." And he trailed off into silence. I kept working on him, having swallowed his first gift to me, until he became limp. I gently cleaned up his penis as it left my mouth, then moved up the bed to lie beside him.
He was crying.
I was astonished, and kissed him. His eyes looked into mine, wide open.
"Aren't you disgusted with me?" he whimpered.
I looked at him, suddenly understanding. And hugged him.
"James.....how can I be disgusted that you gave me the greatest gift that any man can give another? Do you think that I don't love you enough not to want to share everything, everything with you that you want me to? Whatever you do alone, if you wanted me to share it, I'd share it. And it would be you, a part of you, and I'd love it."
He looked wonderingly at me, but the tears stopped and he lay back in the bed.
"I thought...I thought you'd be so disgusted that you'd just go and be sick," he said.
"Never." Would he ever think he could take me down that way? I hoped so. We lay there for ages, embracing.
"Martin..." hesitantly. "Will you roll onto your back, please?" I looked at him. What did he want to do? Silently I did so.
He traced his way down my chest and stomach, pausing to play briefly - too briefly! - with my nipples, until he reached the thick pubic hair which my body had sprouted in the year or so after the Amberdale holiday. This fascinated him, and he combed it through his fingers for some time. My body was by this time at full stretch, but I wasn't relaxed because I wanted to watch this beautiful love of mine at work on me, exploring me.
His hands traced sown by the sides of my scrotum, underneath it and ended cradling it as I had his. Then as I watched his head hovered over my penis, the tongue came out, and there was a tentative lick....
Very slowly, carefully as I had done, he enveloped me, and the soft warmth of his mouth finally made me relax, lie back on the pillows and trust him completely.
He did to me everything that I did to him, except that he didn't know to try and swallow so as to allow the full length of me into his mouth. And, before too long, yet not long enough for me, I could feel IT approaching.
"James... I'm going to....now.....oh, yes....."
But he never stopped his rhythm. As I had done, he did. I could sense him swallowing as the orgasm took me. And, as I had done, he continued to hold me inside him as I came down and lay on the bed, at peace, sweating, breathing deeply, but still conscious that he was holding me in his mouth, gently now, just holding.
"Oh, James!" I said, when I could. At that he left my penis and crawled up beside me, looking serious.
"Did I do it right?"
"Did you.... come here." And once again we engaged in a long embrace, during which I more or less recovered.
At last I answered his question. "It wouldn't matter, I couldn't care less, whether you did it right or wrong. You showed me, gave me, your love, that's enough. If you'd decided not to, that would still have been wonderful. If all you wanted to do was to lie here next to me and hug me from time to time, then that'd be just as wonderful to me.
"But what you did then was right, yes; stupendous even. But it's only good if you enjoy doing it too. Promise me that if you don't want to do anything with me, or have me do whatever it is, then you'll say so."
"I can't see that happening. If you do something to me then I should be able to do it to you. The..."
I interrupted. "I'm not doing anything to you. If I were to, it'd be like rape. We're doing things with each other, together. If it isn't together then it's not fulfilling us both."
He digested that. "The only thing I'm really not....I mean I don't think I'd want, is to do the thing that queers are meant to do to each other all the time. You know, up into the bum. That's why I stopped you when you put your fingers there in the shower."
"I've never done that. I don't know if I'd like it. But the fact that you don't is enough for me. I'm not going to force anything on you, as I said. I don't think you'll force me to do anything, either."
"Then we've got nothing to worry about, either of us, have we?"
He looked at me again, and I was rewarded by that Mona Lisa half-smile of love again.
"Nothing in the world."
We held each other close again, full of each other's taste, our sweat making contact sticky, and at last I covered us up again, and we drifted off to sleep.
I remember wishing someone would turn the light off. And I wished I could work out how to go to the toilet 'cos I was sure I needed to go 'cos my willy felt wet. And why was my nose so warm when my back was cold?
My eyes opened sluggishly and I blinked stupidly. Two things became immediately obvious. Immediately before my eyes was the most perfect set of young male genital organs in the world, and my own erect penis was being caressed by a soft, persistent mouth. I moaned. The sensations stopped.
"Don't," I muttered.
"Sorry," came a voice.
"Don't stop," I said.
So he didn't. I pushed forward and took him in my mouth and performed the same service. My hand came up, almost of its own volition, to massage those deep hanging testicles, gently, gently so as to give the most sensation to their owner, my love. He moaned softly, and the vibration of his throat tickled my glans.
From sleep to orgasm via heaven: how else can I describe it? Heaven lasted about five minutes for me, and the higher heaven of the orgasm itself about thirty seconds. But an only-just-less heaven continued after that as I knew that the previous night had been no dream, no will o'the wisp, no hopeful imagining. I was in love with my first real friend. And if he was still my brother too, well, it wasn't incest.
Once again I felt complete. And all this was going on in my brain as I nursed his youth's manhood in my mouth until, with a crescendo of moans and a soft shout from his mouth, his seed hit the back of my throat in a strong stream once, twice, three, four times: and his own high heaven caused him to spasm more times in my mouth as I continued to caress him. At last he was spent, and we lay, each staring at the ceiling, each temporarily unable to communicate.
After a time I put an arm over his hips and buried my nose in that soft pubic hair of his, breathing in his scent and kissing the beautiful part of him that I had taught him to exercise half a lifetime ago. After a pause he did the same for me. But soon we knew that the pressures of life were on us, and each rolled over.
"That was the nicest way I've ever been woken up," I told him. "Can you do that when I'm at University? Act as my alarm clock?"
Silence. From a point level with my bottom he was looking at me.
"I shan't be able to come back with you. I shan't see you for ages."
He was almost whining. I knew. It had been a tactless joke on my part as I knew as soon as I said the words and felt the dagger enter my own heart.
"I know, I know. But I wish you were. You'll have to come up at half term, and I'll come to you at weekends when I can, and this week...this week we're going to make the most of that we can."
A pause. Then, more positively: "We certainly are. Every moment of it. Here. Together."
"Mmmm. But right now, I need a pee."
"So do I. Badly."
"Come on then."
"I held it for you the other night. Remember?"
He laughed softly. "And I was drunk, you thought!"
"A bit," he admitted. "But not as much as you thought I was. And I knew then that anyone who was willing to hold it while I pissed was a real friend!"
I could find nothing to say to this, so I just squeezed it and he squealed.
"Rat! Now I've got to go."
"Wait for me."
And so, just like two nine year olds, we stood at the toilet, pointing. He pushed my hand away, nearly causing me to miss, and held it for me. I did the same for him.
It was an odd sensation, directing somebody else's penis, and not made any easier by the fact that his was becoming unruly and I had to make sure it was being pushed down. I knew mine was reacting the same way. Despite the difficulties we played death rays, aiming for each other's streams and causing much splashing. And mirth.
We had to take turns to wash. The area by the basin wasn't big enough for two to stand abreast.
"Are we going to bother to dress?" he asked when we were done.
"I'm not steering the boat in the nude, and if you do I'm disowning you."
"Have we got to move?"
"We've got to get to Birmingham."
"Oh. Then does it matter that it's eleven o'clock?"
"What? Let me see that clock... Oh gawd, we're late. That alarm clock of yours was effective but not early enough."
"What alarm clock?"
And before he could move I was down on my knees at his penis, taking it into my mouth with my tongue, then sucking it all in and moving further down to his testicles to suck them in as well. Reluctantly I let him go as I remembered the clock and our need to press on.
"Why can't we stay here? Just for a bit longer?"
"You wait 'til we're round the corner!"
We dried, dressed and then cast off and turned onto the short connecting arm leading to the Stratford canal, then navigated the connecting lock. As we turned into the Northern Stratford there was another lock, a bridge, four more locks, another two bridges, and then he gasped as the main part of the Lapworth flight appeared above us. His muscles were fully aware that they'd been working the previous six locks, so the idea of another seven, with more to come after that, was quite daunting.
"Pub!" he shouted, as we passed the Boot Inn.
"No money!" I shouted back.
"I can take a cheque!" shouted a man standing in front of the building, watching us.
We moored. He served us. He was the Landlord. We spent far longer in there than we intended, and the Landlord was very chatty. He asked us a lot of questions about the boat, and wouldn't our parents be coming in, and before long we were talking back as if we'd known him for ages and telling him how we were taking her through to meet up with them in Birmingham.
"Pity I've got to be here tonight, serving," he said. "I'd have taken you out for a decent meal and you could have slept in a decent bed for a change."
"Oh, there's nothing wrong with ours," said James without thinking. "It's big enough."
"Sharing, are you?"
"I think he means the boat's big enough," I answered quickly. "Big enough to have beds for all of us."
"Ah, that'll be it," said the man, but I knew there was something else on his mind.
The conversation went on, and he hardly stopped even when he was serving other people. Eventually we said that we had to be going.
"Coming back tonight, are you?" he asked.
"Not really," I answered. "We've got to be on our way to Brum."
"Well, if you change your mind, I'll be glad to see you," he said. "And if you want a change of company tonight, young man..." -- this was to me -- "....then give me a call on this number and I'll come and fetch you. OK?"
"OK," I said. "Bye."
When we were outside I was silent. Not so James.
"Funny man! Why did he want you to call him if you wanted a change of company? You don't, do you?" I couldn't believe he'd even think it. But something else was worrying me. The man had propositioned me, as good as, and I didn't know why. Did I suddenly look as though I would welcome it? Did I look like a queer? I stopped suddenly. The alcohol made me ask a question that I wouldn't normally.
"James..." He stopped and did an about-face. "James, do I look queer?"
He stared at me, seriously at first as the question sank in, then with more and more spirit in his expression.
"Well....now you mention it.....um....your left ear is lower than your right."
"One ear is lower than the other."
"It was a serious question."
"It's a serious answer. But I know the cure."
I fell for it.
"Tilt your head the other way. Or better, hold it straight. That'll cure it."
I made a rush for him but he was ready for me and sprinted off to the boat. He'd dived into the toilet by the time I reached the door, and I went out to start the engine. The Landlord was watching us.
James was surprised not to be attacked when he returned. He must have sensed my mood, because he slipped an arm through mine, out of sight of the bank, and looked up at me.
"I just want to know how that Landlord knew I was queer."
"Did he? How d'you know?"
"You were there. He wanted me to come back tonight and `keep him company', whatever that means. He must have known."
"Perhaps he's lonely."
"Well, he can stay lonely. I don't fancy him."
"Good. Does that mean you might sleep with me?"
"If you want. But James....do I look queer to you?"
"I didn't realise you were seriously worried. No.. You don't. You didn't then either."
"Then how did he know?"
"Did he know? Or was he just trying his luck?"
"Well, stop talking about it, or I'll get jealous. Perhaps I could surprise him by going back myself to give him his change of company."
There was no answer to that, so we chugged on toward the next lock in silence.
It was hard work, and slow. One person on the boat and one working the locks is all right, but you know you've been working. By the time we reached Hockley Heath we were both exhausted despite having taken turns at the tiller.
The pub was shut. James made some drinks, and we pressed on to the next, which was also shut. But it looked inviting.
I discovered that I'd misread the canal map, and we actually had far less to travel than I thought.
"We could moor here and have a rest," I said.
"What sort of rest?"
"How many are there?"
"Oh, lots. There's the one when you just sit down, the one you use in snooker, there's the musical one, and I've got a different one in the boat we could use."
"What different one?"
"I'd have to show you. I can't describe it."
"I don't know what you're talking about. You've unpacked your cases -- there's nothing left I haven't seen."
"Look, just moor, will you?"
"Ok, ok, keep your hair on."
So we moored where it was shady and I turned to follow him down into the boat. "No, you stay up here for a moment. I'll get my rest out and then you can come down so it's more of a surprise."
I shrugged and looked about while he presumably went looking for what ever it was.
Then the call came.
He wasn't in the living area, he wasn't in the kitchen. Our bedroom door was shut, but then so were the others.
"Where are you?" I called, rather irritated by now.
"In here," came his voice from our room. I went back and opened the door, and stared.
His fourteen year old body was lying in an X shape face upwards in the middle of the double bed. And what is more, it had nothing covering it at all. It looked very peaceful, apart from one particular central area which was standing to attention.
"Bloody hell, James!" I said, but very gently, as if to a frightened animal.
"Please will you make love to me?"
"I'm sorry, but I just want you to be with me properly again. Last night was so good and I can't remember now just how good it was."
"Or do you want to go back to that landlord?"
I shut the door after me and went over to stand looking down at his nakedness. He held my eyes without flinching, even when I brought my head down to his to give him that first kiss to tell him that it was all right.
When we disengaged, he started with his hand on my flies, and pulled slowly down. Soon I was as exposed as him there, and just as erect, and we tilted our pelvises towards each other. The ends of our penises touched, and we moved about so as to bring them together all over, sometimes with some force. He pushed me over onto my back and climbed on top of me, his smaller fourteen year old erection against mine, and did his best to push inside my trousers.
A combination of rubbing together, against my clothing and particularly my underpants, aroused us both and made a rather wet patch there. He was just lying and we were slowly wriggling together -- no more than that. And the knowledge that we were each happy doing something so comforting, simple, understated if you like, brought me to feel as if I didn't have to put on a show for him, or try hard to do anything, or prove anything. What we were doing was natural and made each of us happy with the other one and with ourselves. I found after a bit that he was looking at me, Mona Lisa -- like again, so I kissed him.
He rolled off me at last, and lay by my side. I turned to him. "How do you want me to do this?"
"Dunno. Feels strange, now."
"Don't you want me to?"
I sat up and removed my shirt, then stood and took off everything else. He watched me. I lay back down, next to him and put my arm out so it could go round his shoulders. He looked at me.
"Martin...I'm sorry....It just seems so false."
"What? That we're in love?"
"No. That I'm just asking you to do this. It should just happen."
"It can happen either way, surely?"
"It should, I suppose, but why does this feel as if I've rigged it?"
"You felt randy, I suppose. And you wanted me to give you release."
"Yeah. Make you come. And now we've gone some of the way you've gone off the boil. It happens."
"I don't know. Do you want me to give you an orgasm?"
I gently put out my hands and started massaging his testicles and the nearly soft organ atop them. Before long he was erect again and seemed to be going along with what I was doing. I didn't use my mouth. It didn't sound as if he'd welcome it at the time.
It took him a long time but at last there was a gasp and his semen shot up over his belly and my arms. I took him to the conclusion, and wasn't surprised when he just lay there, leaving my erection alone.
"Am I being stupid?" he asked, out of the blue, when he had recovered.
"I don't think so, far from it. How? Why?"
"This isn't going to last, is it?"
I was alarmed. "Why not? Do you think you're going to go off me?"
"No. But you're just going to University. I'm stuck at school for the next god knows how long. When are we going to see each other?"
"Well, you could come up to me until you have to go back. Then there's weekends, half terms, Christmas holidays...."
"But it's not the same as being together all the time, is it?"
"No. It's not. But like everything, we have to start somewhere. And if that's the best we can manage then it'll have to do."
"But what happens when I go to University and you're at work?"
"Who knows if I'll be able to complete the course? Who knows if you'll get A-levels? Who knows whether I'll be able to get a job wherever it is that you're at University?"
He looked at me, and a spark came to his eyes. "Would you do that? Would you really do that?"
"If it meant us living together, then yes."
"Do you want to?"
"Don't you want me to?"
"Yes! Yes! Of course I do. But it's such a long time to wait. What happens if someone else turns up in the meantime?"
"Then I hope you'll just refuse him, and tell him you're already spoken for."
He looked at me, then grinned faintly for the first time in minutes. "Not me, idiot. You."
"Ah, well I've been celibate, apart from with my right hand, for the last five years. I can refuse offers too, you know"
"Even for a fourteen year old?"
"For someone who I know is doing the same for me, and who I love. And whether he's fourteen, fifteen, sixteen or whatever. But don't forget it's you who's going to do most of the character changing. I've done most of mine."
"Some things don't change."
I hoped he was right.
We got going again soon afterwards. But we did get dressed first.
It seemed a good idea to put some distance in, so we ignored the Blue Bell pub and all the others we saw on the map. At Yardley Wood we thought we'd better take on some water, so stopped at the tap there. The area was a bit noisy and overlooked, so we weren't too sure about mooring. A mile or so further was the Horse Shoe, right on the canal, but also right on a noisy main road. We looked at it regretfully. But as we continued the banks got higher....and higher.....and at last we realised we were near the short Brandwood tunnel.
Going through that was a wettening experience, and the other end of it was noisy too, and publess. We pressed on. And on. Turned left onto the Worcester and Birmingham. Passed a pub. And just as the light was fading we entered Kings Norton tunnel. And for those who know the Midland canals and say `he doesn't know what he's talking about, it's left to Birmingham', yes I do. Now.
Odd things, long canal tunnels. You either love them or hate them. But even if you love them they're boring, Lots of bricks, lots of drips, lots of anxious moments as you try to avoid boats coming the other way. Except there weren't any for us. It was too late in the day.
As he got bored with the darkness, when he'd got one too many drips down his neck, he went down -- I supposed -- to put the kettle on. The lights went off in the kitchen presumably to avoid dazzling me as he came out. I could hear the doors open, and expected a cup of tea to be put in my hand at any moment.
What I did feel was a hand come and rest itself on the fly of my jeans. I jumped, and was glad I wasn't steering a light dinghy or we'd have been all over the place. But I didn't stop him.
The hand pulled down my zip, and the next thing I knew it was feeling the bulge in my underwear. Not content with that it pushed into the top of the underwear and fondled and stroked.....and there I was, steering a damn great narrowboat through a tunnel with an erection sticking out of my jeans.
Oh. With a mouth on the end of it.
And then came the thing I was hoping not to see. The light of an approaching boat as it entered the other end of the tunnel. As they always do, it hooted, making the sound reverberate through the confined space my ears ring. It startled us both. More to the point it startled James, and when you have a mouth full of glans it's a very unsafe time to be startled. For the owner of the glans, that is.
Our narrowboat didn't need a hooter if he was going to do that to me
"Sorry....oh Martin, I'm sorry. Are you all right?"
"Take the tiller. Go slow." I shoved it into his hands and bolted into the boat. I looked down, dreading what I might find. Blood? Worse?
There was a line of five tooth marks half way down, back and front, but on the shaft, not the glans, thank goodness. No blood. No damage. And by now no erection.
I let him stew for a while, until the boat passed us. If he was going to be so careless, why shouldn't I?
As I opened the door and looked up, he looked down at me. I don't think I'd ever seen him really scared, adult-scared, before. He was white, there was no unzipped grin, the eyes were.....what? Red rimmed? Tears? I switched the kitchen light off again and came out to join him.
"Are you...is it....all right? His voice was very shaky and treble.
"A few tooth marks."
It was like watching a spring suddenly release. He put out an arm and drew me to him, the arm went round my waist and he looked me in the eyes.
"I thought....I thought I'd...."
And, once again, fourteen years or not, he was in tears. I throttled the boat right down, eased him off the tiller and corrected the boat's path through the tunnel. His arm was still round me, and mine round him, and he had buried his face into my shoulder and I could feel the emotion draining from him. Once again he looked at me.
I just squeezed his shoulder. "Put the kettle on?" He went down to the kitchen like a startled rabbit. It was still heating when he reappeared and just stood next to me. I got a shaky grin when I looked at him, but returned it encouragingly.
I had realised that I still couldn't see the end of the tunnel, although we'd been in it for some time. The mind tries playing tricks on you. Are you lost? Has the tunnel re-formed into a circle? Are you doomed to motor along it into eternity? Then almost without warning the colour of the blackness just a few yards ahead of the boat changed subtly, the quality of the engine noise changed dramatically, and we were out into the near darkness of late evening. To emerge from blackness into darkness is an odd sensation. The brain, which registered entering the tunnel in the light, looks around for it again, can't find it, and loses its equilibrium temporarily.
We moored after the second bridge as the map told us of a pub nearby. Only a few words had passed between us since his shock, and they were to do with mooring. When at last we were sitting at the table nursing our rapidly cooling tea he didn't want to meet my eye, and was talking in monosyllables. I got up, and he threw a look at me. But all I did was to join him at his side of the table and slip an arm round him again.
"Don't worry," I told him. "It's OK, really."
"I shouldn't have done it."
"I wasn't objecting. It was great until the other boat hooted."
"I know. But then I knew I shouldn't have been doing it."
"No it's not. What would you have felt if I'd been doing it to you?"
"No it's not. Why should it be?"
"So what difference does that make?"
"You can do more to me than I'd dare to do to you."
"I thought we'd done most things with each other. There's not much left to do without repeating ourselves, unless you want to try coming inside me."
"No, inside me like a man would a woman."
He paused. "D'you want me to?"
"No. I don't think so. It's something I've always thought was unpleasant. But then I was taught lots of things were unpleasant which are really good. Anyway, you wouldn't want me to do that on you, so if we neither of us want it we won't do it."
"D'you really mean that you didn't mind?"
"Yes. I mean no. I mean I didn't mind. In fact I was pleased that you're at ease enough to do something like that with me."
At last his arm went round me and he looked up and sighed.
"I am sorry, you know. Are you sure it's all right?"
"Want to look?"
He nodded. I got out from behind the table and stood up in front of him. "There you are then."
He looked up, surprised, then dropped his eyes and hand to my fly and started pulling down. When he'd finally freed me from the constraints it stood up. The red marks were still there, but fading already. He gently touched, and was pleased there was no pain. Come to think of it, so was I. Very gently he just kissed it, top and bottom, and carefully pulled my underpants up again.
"If you say that one more time I shall hit you. Better still, I'll bite yours off."
"Sorry." But this time the voice had a ring to it, the eyes were direct on my face, and the grin was unzipping again.
We fixed something to eat, and naturally ended up in the pub. It amazed me that all these places were happy to serve me with beer for James, even if he was sticking to half pints. We were quiet about it, though. Once more we were playing bar billiards, and were at `best of nine' when a scruffy looking type came over.
"You gonna be on that all night?"
"Sorry," I said., "I didn't know you were waiting."
"Been waiting ages."
"Sorry. Where I come from they put a coin on the table or write a name up to book it."
"Be fucked if I'm gonna book a table in my own pub."
I really didn't like his attitude.
"'Kay then. We'll finish this game and it's yours."
"Think so too."
"Nice guy," said James when he was out of earshot. "Hope they're not all like that round here."
We were as good as our word, and moved away from the table to get out of the scruffy one's way. When I next went to the bar the landlord motioned me aside.
"Not giving you any trouble, was he, the chap who took over the table?"
"Well, he wasn't exactly polite."
"You want to watch him. Not a nice man. Queer, you know. Been done once for assault."
"Yes. Left a bloke well shaken. Bit more than that too, if you see what I mean."
"No, not really."
"Well, he's queer. And this bloke wouldn't play. We knew him. He's straight as a die."
"What, he raped him?"
The man looked uncomfortable. "Something like that."
"Thanks for the warning."
I went back to tell James. Like me, he was amazed that anyone so awful could be homosexual. "Who would like his company?" he asked. "No wonder he had to grab someone and force them, if that's the way he is."
"That's no excuse!"
"Oh I know. But you can see how someone might get that way."
Could I? The psychiatrist side of James was not something I had seen before.
We went to sit well out of the way of the table and its new occupants, although I felt an urge to go and watch to learn what another one of `our sort' looked and behaved. But discretion is the better part of valour. It struck me that I had someone infinitely more attractive to watch and to be with, and at that moment it had also swum across my mind again that he was actually only fourteen. Even if his brain worked better than most twenty year olds' and his body was tough and healthy, his muscle power in relation to that of a man of thirty years old would not be enough if he got nasty. Nor, in fact, would mine. No, we were well out of the way.
But peace didn't last long.
The sound of glass breaking and shouts, then a crack and a thump, all nicely spiced by shouts and cries and eventually a groan, indicated that not all was well in the pub. James looked at me, I looked at him, and we both looked at the barman, who was holding a telephone to his ear. At the other end of the pub there was a crash as the door slammed.
We two looked at each other again, as there was a rush from other parts of the pub towards the bar billiards table. James looked agitated and stood up.
"Want to go?" I asked. He shook his head and looked round the corner to the scene of the activity. Then to my surprise he just disappeared off in that direction, and before I had a chance to follow or say anything to warn him I heard a firm voice that I hardly recognised as his.
"I'm a St John's first aider. Can I help? No, don't kneel there, there's broken glass. Here....hold his arm up....that's it...."
And as came round to look at the scene I was amazed. Five adults were standing around uselessly, whilst a sixth was holding the arm of a young man the rest of whose body was prone on the floor. As I gaped, James was telling his assistant to apply pressure to a gash on the raised arm. And then....
"Hallo.....can you hear me? Hallo....?"
There was a grunt from the figure on the floor. Very gently James crouched by the man's head and cradled the head in his hands, feeling it all round, at the back too. But the only injuries apart from the gashed arm seemed to be an angry red mark on the temple and another on the jaw below, which James was now tracing down with his fingers. At one point he stopped and looked at the man.
"All right, don't worry. But don't move your jaw for the moment. Just say yes or no. Does it hurt anywhere else?"
"Are you feeling more with it? What's your name?"
"Ok, Kenton. We'll get you more comfortable in a minute, but just trust me at the moment. You've got a cut on your arm and a bruise on your head, and it feels as if your jaw may be broken, but it's nothing that won't heal as good as new. I'm going to get an ambulance to take you to a hospital where they can take care of it for you."
He looked swiftly up at the barman who was now hovering nearby, gaping open mouthed at him, as were we all.
"Can you do that?"
"I have. And the Police."
"Thanks." Just as if he was the doctor and in charge. Well, I suppose he was in charge. Nobody else was doing anything. Kenton looked dazed.
"Where do you live, Kenton?"
"What, at the pub?"
"Anyone we should call to go with you?"
"No. Live alone."
"Okay. Just lie calm. Can you find something to go behind his head, please? And keep the pressure on that cut. Change hands if necessary. Got a first aid kit?"
This was to the barman, who was still hovering uselessly. The man nodded and shuffled off.
The door opened, and in walked the absolute prototype of an old fashioned English country policeman. Large in all directions, face reddened by years of all sorts of weather, and a face which looked permanently surprised. I expected him to start with "'allo, 'allo, 'allo," but he didn't.
"What d'you think you're doing, young man? Leave things like that to those who knows what they're doing." And he made to kneel down to take over.
"Don't kneel there, sir, there's broken glass on the floor. And I'm a St John's Ambulance first aider."
The long arm of the law just stopped himself in time, stood back up and regarded my James solemnly. I had been about to say something to the bulky officer, but James was doing too good a job on his own.
"Oh," was all he said before turning to the barman. "What's been happening, Henry?"
"It's that Bill Solomon. He was in here again, and Drew was with him. They were playing on the table, and the next thing I knew he was smashing a glass against Drew's head, then broke it on the table, and it caught his arm as he shielded himself. Then he went, and I phoned you, and this boy comes round like an ambulance driver and patches him up."
It took quite a few moments for this to sink in.
"Better use your phone, hadn't I?"
Soon after, the ambulance arrived. By then, James had done as neat a bandage on Kenton's arm as I'd seen anywhere, and had done his best to support the suspect jaw bone. The ambulance man took one look at it, then glanced at James.
"Any glass in it?"
"No, sir. I checked thoroughly."
"I can feel a ridge in it, on the right side, just above the mouth. Might be a fracture, so I've tried to support it."
"Can't feel anything, but I didn't want to push too hard."
"Did he lose consciousness?"
"Not when I was there, but he might have done before I arrived."
"How long was that?"
"About half a minute," I said. The man looked at me. "We're together," I told him. He nodded.
"You've done well," he told James. "Real hospital bandaging, that. Red Cross?"
"No!" James almost spluttered. "St John's Ambulance."
"Oh. Don't have a name for him, I suppose?"
James told him. He was even more impressed.
"And you? Where do you live? You're not from round here."
"We're on the canals," said James.
"Oh. Well, you forget about all this, except you've done very well, young man. There's a career in medicine for you some day, I dare say."
And with that he was off with Kenton Drew.
The policeman came over to us.
"Bit young to be in here, aren't you? How old?"
"Too young. I'll have to ask you to leave, just as soon as we've got Solomon. You shouldn't be in here without an adult until you're eighteen. And you, Henry, you should know better, chap of your experience."
"But he's with the other chap, Alf. Say something, son."
This was to me.
"Yes, we're together, and I'm nineteen."
"You sure? When was you born?"
"Fourth of June 1950."
"Right. Well, no drinking alcohol in pubs 'til you're eighteen. Unless I buy you one, that is. Henry! Give these lads a drink on the house. What they want, but use your sense. I'm off, but I'll be back when we've got Solomon, and they're not to go until then. Well done, young man, and I don't want to see what's been in your glass when I come back. And I don't want to see you drunk either."
He left. We both looked at the barman, puzzled. He laughed.
"That's his way of saying you can have a drink, that he'll pay for it when he's off duty, and you're not to get drunk or let on anything about what you've been drinking when he gets back.
We went back on the bar billiards table. And when the constable returned to give the all clear there was nothing in either of our glasses. But I wouldn't swear that either of us was stone cold sober. It was as well that we weren't given a police escort to the boat, because when the cool night air hit us we both staggered. It was only by using extreme caution that I didn't drop the cabin key into the canal. With one arm round James' shoulders to steady him, together my own staggers, unlocking was difficult. I walked him straight through to the cabin and lowered him onto the bed.
"Back in a mo."
I locked up, then visited the toilet. When he heard me, he wanted to go too, so I had to hoist him up again, walk him in there, giggling like a kid, undo his fly and try and point it in the right direction. By this time I was giggling too. It wasn't the most accurate aim, but I told him I'd clear up in the morning. We wobbled our way back into the cabin and I laid him back down on the bed. He closed his eyes.
"Come on, you. Get to bed."
"So'm I. But we've got to get to bed first."
There was silence. I swiftly stripped off down to my underpants, then wondered why I was being so shy. They went too, and I turned back to him.
He really was spark out. I took his shoes off and tickled his feet, and still nothing happened. So I had to undress him completely, and for only the second time I realised just how difficult it is to bend bits of body that aren't interested in helping you. At last he lay in front of me, naked, face up, unconscious, and in my mind he changed immediately from being a nuisance to being my love, who I wanted to protect and spend my life with. Not without difficulty I manoeuvred him under the covers and climbed in by his side, watching him all the while. I wanted so badly to touch him, to love him physically again, but there was so much respect between us as well as the love that it would have been wrong to do so. So I just kissed his lips and forehead, and laid down by his side, and went to sleep.
It was still dark when I woke, and I lay puzzling for a while why that should be. Then there was a movement next to me and I knew it was him.
"You OK?" I mumbled.
"No. Headache. Want the toilet," he said after a pause.
"No. 'm Ok."
So I had to lie there while he went into the toilet and relieved himself. Then he didn't come back and I got increasingly alarmed. I was just about to go and see what was wrong when I heard the unmistakable sound of an evening's worth of beer being returned, by mouth, to the outside world. That was enough for me. I went to the kitchen and got a beer mug of water, then stood outside the toilet where sounds of misery were still being made. When they had paused, I spoke.
"James...it's happened to me too, you know."
There was a moan.
"Can I come in?"
He was in the classic big-white-telephone pose, head over the bowl, looking white and shivering.
"Wash your mouth out with this." I pushed the glass into his shaking hands. He managed to look shakily at me and give a small smile.
"It's me who should be apologising to you. I should have stopped us both drinking earlier."
"I never thought..." he said as he swilled his mouth out and spat into the unpleasant receptacle in front of him. I flushed it.
"Nor did I," I told him. "And the second time I went on despite my experiences the first time. Feel better now?"
"Have another rinse."
He did so.
So once again we stood together, ridding ourselves of what might have been the last of the evening's excesses. Afterwards I made him drink some of the water so as to dilute some of the alcohol in his bloodstream, and took him back to bed.
So far as experiencing once again the physical side of the love that was between us the night was a no-go. For strengthening in a different way the trust and care between us it was little short of magic. He knew that I would help him when he needed it, and I knew from his actions in the pub earlier that he would do the same for me, probably better. I was just glad his parents were away.
Much to my relief and envy, he was fine in the morning. Probably he'd got rid of so much down the toilet and diluted the rest that there was nothing left to cause the usual headache. He was a bit quiet to start with and wasn't sure about breakfast, but that was it.
"Sorry about last night," he said at last. "I was fine until I came out of the pub, then it just hit me."
"It does that sometimes. But I should have seen it coming and stopped."
"And thanks for helping me."
"But that's what people in love do, isn't it? Help each other?"
He grinned sheepishly. "'Spose so."
"Well come on then."
"Wonder what happened to that bloke."
"Both of them, come to think about it."
"One's in prison, I hope, and the other's in hospital."
"We'll never know," I said. Which just shows how wrong you can be. At the second bridge a very hot police officer was waiting for us with his hand upstretched as if he was controlling cars at a junction. The only place we could stop and explain that we'd have to find somewhere else for him to come on board was under the bridge.
"What's wrong with here," he shouted back.
"What happens when another boat comes?" I asked.
He tossed his head, showing that he understood but didn't like it. He followed our progress for about another half mile before we managed to find a suitable piece of bank where we could moor.
He mopped his brow as he accepted a cup of tea in the cabin.
"On your own, are you?"
"We're off to Birmingham to meet up with our parents again. They had to leave the boat and go up there for business meetings."
"Ah. Addresses, please."
We obliged. I was proud to give him the address of my new flat.
"Well, we got Solomon after a struggle. Nasty piece of work. The other bloke said Solomon had had his eye on him for ages, since he used to see him at school. Wasn't into that, though, and I don't blame him. Queers! Yuch!"
Do I say anything, I wondered. No. Not with James there. Too many conclusions to draw. I hoped James'd think the same.
"Bloke says he's very grateful to you, young man. Wants to meet you. He's OK, broken jaw, and the gash on the arm you know about needed a few stitches. What you did made the hospital's job dead easy, they said. Really good bit of work, all the information they needed, and no fuss. Can I give him your address?"
"Don't sound so enthusiastic about it, boy. At least he can write to you."
"'Kay. But I was only doing what I was trained to do. It's nice to get some practice on a real casualty, though."
The policeman looked at him. "You don't want to see him?"
"Well, not this week, anyway. I just want to enjoy my holiday."
"I'll suggest he writes, then.
"We shouldn't need either of you as witnesses. Henry says you were sitting round the corner and didn't see anything anyway."
"Pity. But I'm glad you were there, even if you shouldn't have been drinking."
"I'm sure you never saw him drink alcohol," I said, wondering if I was pushing my luck.
"No, you're right, I never did. But next time you do, just remember that not all police officers are as short sighted as me. I'm off. Well done, and enjoy your holiday. Oh, and by the way, you're going the wrong direction for Brum."
"What?!" we shouted in unison.
"You should have turned left out of the Stratford, not right. You'll have to go back through the tunnel."
I looked at him, then at James, then back again.
"You're not too far out of the way, lads. There's a place to turn just ahead, where a feeder comes in from the right. Go carefully, and a short boat like yours'll get round a treat."
We thanked him. He got off, we got going, and went on to the place he mentioned without delay. Turning was easier than I expected, and it wasn't long before we were passing the pub again and vanishing like rabbits into the tunnel. It was my turn to make the tea this time, and his to steer, so I thought I'd do to him what he did to me the first time through, but preferably without the teeth marks. He was wearing shorts, and I felt up his thigh while he laughed above me. Getting into the underwear was a problem, but at last his swelling member was in my hand, the clothing bunched up round his groin to expose it and the scrotum fully to the cold tunnel air. As my mouth enveloped him he reacted so squirmingly to my tongue that the boat cannoned from side to side of the tunnel, and to avoid scratches and more delay I soon thought I'd better stop and put him away, not an easy thing to do with a board stiff organ
He was most disappointed.
Emerging from the darkness of the tunnel into strong sunlight was a relief, even if we were blinded temporarily. Soon after we came across the Stratford branch, and as we passed it saw the signpost hidden in the undergrowth and I gave a hollow laugh.
"We must phone!" he said suddenly. "It's almost eleven o'clock!"
I had lost track of time. We had agreed to phone the parents' hotel at about eleven to tell them where we'd meet them. It was nearly past that time, and we were nowhere near a call box.
"I know," said James, "every bridge, I'll get off, run up to the road and see if I can see a phone. If I can you can moor, and we'll make the call."
It was a sensible idea. At the third bridge, near the Bourneville factory, he came back gesticulating. I headed to the bank and we made the call, only half an hour late.
"You twit," said my polite father when I told him what we'd done. "We'll see you about mid-day at Farmers Bridge Junction. Are you sure you can find that? There'll be a lot of boats there, and a pub on the canal side. You'll have to go through Gas Street basin to get there."
"Ok, Dad. We have got a map, you know."
"Yes, and looking at it took you down the Worcester and Birmingham. Next thing, you'd have been in London. It'd have taken you about a week, so I suppose you might have noticed. Everything all right?"
Do I tell him that James had nearly bitten my willy off, that we'd narrowly avoided a fight, that James had done incredible first aid, that we'd been making love and were going to spend the rest of our lives together?
"Yes thanks, Dad."
The pips went. I put the phone down. The rest of the journey was uneventful, if a bit grim as the old industrial buildings increasingly hemmed in the canal and us. We turned a corner at last and there was Gas Street basin, dismal in all its sixties grime, although with signs of the resurgence of interest which would one day result in its rebirth as a canal landmark. Further on, under the wide bridge or short tunnel that carried the main road and all its shops over the canal, we came to the junction. It reminded me of a roundabout on a dodgem car track. We kept left, and soon found the pub and moored nearby.
It was time to eat, and I decided that we'd just have a snack as the parents would have eaten well in the hotel and we didn't have a lot of time. We were in the middle of this when the boat rocked and we looked at each other in anticipation.
It was them.
They got a good welcome from us both. I think if we hadn't had so many adventures -- of all kinds -- we'd just have accepted their return with little comment. But adventures change people, and it was a slightly different James and Martin who they met as they climbed down into the boat. And we'd got a lot to tell them.
At last they'd heard all about everything. No, we didn't tell them about the intimate parts, nor that we'd be living together as soon as we could. Nor that we were in love. But everything else.
"Does that explain this?" asked Doreen Evans, producing a newspaper. And there it was
MYSTERY BOY SAVES VICTIM
A boy who didn't want to be identified because he was underage drinking in a pub, it is thought with an older man, saved the life of the victim of a vicious attack last night. The boy, aged about 16, and holidaying on the canal, witnessed the incident, in which a known violent criminal caused severe injuries to his companion, Kenton Drew, 22. Apparently the attack was without motive. After the incident the boy calmly administered first aid, stemming the severe bleeding from wounds which later needed stitches. When questioned later by the Police the boy said that he was just following St. Johns Ambulance Brigade training. Police had traced the assailant and he is now helping them with their enquiries.
"Gosh," said James, "What a load of lies. I never spoke to anyone, and he'd have recovered whether I bandaged him or not. I'm no mystery. But it's good that they think I'm 16. Mind you, they think you're an older man, Martin!" And we dissolved into fits of laughter.
"I hope you haven't got into trouble with the Police, you two," said Mum. "I never really liked you encouraging James to drink, you know."
"He wasn't encouraged, he was natural at it," I told her.
"You know what I mean."
"Anyway, we're not in trouble, so there's no problem. The policeman who spoke to us was ok, and it was him who told us we were going the wrong way."
She seemed to accept that. Gone were the days when everything was automatically my fault. We talked on for some time, and eventually decided that we'd better get under way.
There was a council of war later, when we learnt just how successful their business meeting had been. The prospects for both our families were extremely good. "Who knows," said Dad, "in a few years we might even be able to afford a narrowboat like this between us!"
"Count me in as crew," I said promptly. "And James too, as crew and first aider."
They laughed. "Hopefully you wouldn't have to share a bed next time," said Doreen. "It can't be particularly nice for you both."
"Oh, James is all right."
"Oh, Martin's OK." The two phrases came out simultaneously.
They laughed again.
"It's now lunch time on Wednesday," I announced suddenly, thinking it best to change the subject. "If we have to be back by Saturday we'd better turn round." I'd lost sight of that small fact in all the excitement.
"How long does it take to get back, then?" asked Dad.
"As long as it took to get here, less a bit because we know what we're doing now. I thought we could go back down the main line of the Grand Union to make a sort of round trip of it."
"Ok. Does that mean we have to hurry?"
"We've got two and a half days to do what we did in four coming up here."
"Don't worry too much. We hung about a bit on the way, and don't forget the last two days have been slow because there's only been the two of us."
"We'd better shove off now, then. And keep going until it's too dark to see."
Hurriedly we set off, down the Aston locks, right down the Digbeth branch and the Ashtead locks to join the Grand Union at Bordesley. This is the stretch where much of the canal and many of the locks are under blocks of flats and offices, which are supported on vast concrete legs. It's an eerie sensation, knowing as the engine reverberates around the concrete walls and ceilings that there are people living and working above you. It's quite nice to come out into the open again, even if it's dingy backstreet Birmingham that greets you. We took turns at steering and locking, and the afternoon and early evening wore happily on.
At Olton we came, almost suddenly, onto a much more pleasant area, consisting mainly of a wooded cutting which cuts off from the peaceful canal whatever horrors are above, although stuck at the bottom of it there was very little light indeed. Fortunately we met no other boats. At the next bridge, where there was a pub by the side of the main road, we stopped. None too soon, because the mothers had been busy in the kitchen, and kept looking out anxiously to see if we were about to moor.
By the time we had eaten and washed up it was ten o'clock, and our visit to the pub was for the sake of it only. I was interested to note that James was on soft drinks again, from choice, and I wasn't really in the mood for more than a pint, nor was anybody else.
Going to bed with other people on the boat was odd after the last two nights, yet somehow comforting. I don't know if James felt the same, but although we knew we couldn't wander around and play as we were now used to, we could retreat into our own room and know we were just that bit more secure..... Why should I have felt that way at nineteen?
And retreat into our own room we did, and he straightway turned and looked at me, and I looked back and that smile came on his face, very slowly, until his whole countenance seemed to be alive and alight with the pleasure....of seeing me? I still had no idea what he actually saw in me, and I can say the same still applies now as I write.
We embraced, of course, and slowly helped each other undress, and at last stood so we were in contact everywhere while our hands performed the ancient, graceful dances of exploration and sensation over each other's bodies. We collapsed onto the bed, and the massaging became intense, along with the kissing, and the intimacy of the touching. And of course the incredible, heights of the pleasure and fulfilment, and the desire for it never to end.
In time, of course, I knew that we would both need the inevitable release, and he must have done too, for his face disappeared from mine. His body wriggled past my sight to bring that other part of him to me so that our mouths could be brought into play where they were most needed, and where they showed even more love than exploring each other's mouths. And gradually he worked me into an even higher plane of sensation, and at last I knew by the movements, and the sounds, and by the jets of hot fluid inside my mouth that it had happened for him, and I took him down inside me just as the sensations of having him explode in my mouth caused me to do the same in his.
Despite the need for rest and for recovery, despite the reaction that sets in, we each were able to clean off the other's rapidly dwindling erection. We separated for a while.
But the coolness of the evening made itself felt on our sweat-slick bodies, and at long last, long after the rest of the boat was silent, we crawled under the covers, kissed once more, and slept.
In the morning I woke with the dawn, an event which is for me as rare as eggs in a mare's nest. I was facing him, and he me. I just watched him for a long while, knowing and loving every curve of his incredibly young looking, still vulnerable, face; marvelled at the strength of the mind that was still developing behind it, and the raw intelligence that drove it. I knew too the capacity for real love -- not just the exploratory, laddish messing about of love that many of his peers probably showed, but the real love which he had almost proudly, certainly sincerely, admitted and shown to me, not just now on this holiday but back at Amberdale too, in a way. If he'd been just a boy with the same character I'd have been very attracted to him. But the love he gave me in equal measure to mine for him, made mine for him stronger, and made me want to reflect it to him in its increased strength. Which in the same way made his love for me the stronger. And so our love and respect was self-fuelling, just as any healthy love between two people is.
I never wanted him to leave me.
And that brought me on to knowing that he'd have to. And that made me realise yet again that we'd have to be apart a lot. For years. After Mark I knew that we must do nothing to make either set of parents worry about our friendship being any more than that, at least not until he was whatever age the law said he had to be, at which point I'd be glad to shout out our love to the world. But then only if he thought and wanted the same.
Would he fall out of our love while we were apart? I didn't think so. But it was a tremendous risk. At the thought I wriggled in the bed and a pair of sleepy eyes unbuttoned at me.
It was my turn to smile slowly, at him. I traced my finger over his cheek, and he smiled languidly back. Is that feeling what they mean about tugging at the heartstrings? Or was it more like a wordless, exultant piece of music inaudible to anyone but me? Was it in his heart too? Was it the same music?
"Wassertime?" he asked, and the throwback to my first word every morning that we'd shared a bed at Amberdale made us both laugh simultaneously, suddenly, loudly.
"Twirly," I told him. The look of puzzlement gave way to unzip the grin as his brain engaged.
"Can we hug?" he asked wistfully.
It was the first time he'd actually asked me. Before then it'd just happened. A small thing? Probably, but not to me. To me it was the one of the first signs he'd given unconsciously that he actually did need me as much as I needed him, and being unthought of, just a need, it was even more obviously honest. And yes, I know I've just said that I knew he loved me. But anyone in love needs these little, instinctive signs.
So I moved up to him and we held each other, making small movements to get comfortable, enjoying the feel, the gentle scent of the breath as it blew across exposed skin, until once again we were asleep.
Until the knock at the door. Almost as one our eyes snapped open as wide as exclamation marks and we looked at each other in shock. With a struggle we separated, one to each side of the bed.
"Come in," I wavered. The door opened. It was then I smelt the wonderful aroma of fried bacon.
"Breakfast in bed," said our mothers.
We promised them we'd not get used to it. Breakfast in bed, that is. Although I must say that it's not something I really enjoy. It's too uncomfortable to eat, and just feels too lazy, even for me. But as a thank you for something special it's one of the greatest compliments someone who loves you can pay. It's the thought rather than the action.
We ate in silence, more or less, trying not to spill anything on the duvet. -- not easy when you're dealing with runny egg yolk. When we'd done I noticed he'd got some on his chin, so I told him.
And a very long tongue extended out from the mouth, downwards and licked it off. I must have looked surprised.
"No wonder you do such a lot for me, with a tongue like that!"
"What's wrong with it?"
"Nothing. It's just long."
"Show's I'm going to be well endowed, I expect, like having big feet."
"I shall look forward to it. But not too big, I hope. I want to be able to lift it with one hand."
"Or a mouth?"
"Especially a mouth," I affirmed, my heart giving a leap at the thought.
Five minutes or so later they started the engine, but we were too busy to notice. Half an hour or so later we were both exhausted again, and rather wet in certain places, even if we'd done our best with each other. He gave a short laugh. "I've never had sweet after breakfast."
"Mmmm. Can we do it more often?"
"I'd like that."
We found ourselves on deck just about in time to avoid getting unpopular despite our having looked after the boat for two days. Knowle's wide locks were looming up, and I knew from experience they're heavy and slow and tiring. There may be only five, but they let you know they're there. Locks with attitude, you might say.
On and on we chugged, taking turns at the helm. We passed Kingswood Junction where we'd turned off to the Stratford Canal, Shrewley tunnel which now seemed so short after Kings Norton that we hardly noticed it.
At the top of Hatton flight we stopped. "Pub," said James gleefully. But we didn't go in, we worked our way back down those locks, snatching bites of sandwich as we went and drinking gallons of tea as we sweated over the first fifteen of the twenty one heavy, wide locks. We did stop after them though, with `just' another six locks to the end of the flight, and were on our way up to the pub when Dad said "Blast."
Peter looked at him.
"Bloody English licensing laws. They're shut."
We needed that pint, too.
So we struggled down the remaining six locks, under the noisy A46 until we got to the Cape of Good Hope.
"It feels like we've just rounded the Horn, not the Cape," said my father wearily. It can't be long before they're open, surely?"
"No, Dad," I said. "Another half an hour. We could fill up with water here, and get rid of some more rubbish. That'll while away the time for you."
"Thank God," he said. "My son's looking after his poor old father."
We set the water running and then just lolled about the boat, relaxing for one of the first times that hot September day. After a while there were sounds of cars arriving from outside, and Dad looked hopefully at Peter and me. "Pub?" he asked.
I looked out of the window. "Door's open."
"Last one in buys the round."
I scrambled to my feet and automatically looked for James. But he was already on his feet and moving. We jostled at the door of the boat, each trying to get there first. The others were making impatient noises behind us as we jammed in the exit. A hand came down onto the front of my trousers, groped, found its target and squeezed. I gasped and buckled, and he got through first.
I nearly fell in the water jumping off the boat. He just got to the pub door first, then skidded to a halt.
"Hah!" I said. "You can't buy."
"I know, I know. Just get in there will you?"
"What makes you think..... oh well."
There were too many parents too close to continue with what I'd been going to say.
Those two pints were a life saver. The fact that the water hose was overflowing and slowly filling up the bilges had escaped us. Fortunately we weren't too long, and found what was happening well before there was any danger. The pump kept going for a long time, though.
We cooked and ate, and returned to the pub again to spend a pleasant evening on the bar billiards table. Bed time for all of us was quite early. Our parents were still tired after their mental exercise in Birmingham and their physical exercise of the day, and James and I were just tired. To be honest, I wasn't too bad, but he said he wanted to go to bed and there was no way he was going without me.
Do I describe again what went on between us? It was more or less the same as the previous night, and repetition is boring.
Unless you're physically there.
In that case it's as far from boring as you can get. It's calming and exciting. It's restful and exhausting. It's fulfilling and frustrating. It's everything you want but not enough. It's love. What it isn't, is dirty, like adults had always told me sex was. And particularly, it was hinted, it was dirty between two people of the same sex.
How can anything so wondrous, so fulfilling, so much what each of us wanted, be dirty? If we're talking physical dirt, then sex between married couples must be dirty as well. It's nonsense when you think about it. And therefore I'll say that between us everything was as clean as we wanted. And when finally we had stopped and were lying there in our embrace, and our skin was sticky with the fluids of love and exertion we neither of us wanted to move, no matter how uncomfortable it was becoming. But move we had to, for the male bladder is a slave driver. And just as naturally we went together, unashamed, and relived ourselves and cleaned off the discomfort. Then we returned to our bed and our embrace, and slept until the light of a late morning percolated into our dreams of togetherness and delight.
We were rather quiet that morning. It had hit us all hard that it was the last full day of the holiday and we'd then go our separate ways. Except for Dad and Peter who, it looked increasingly likely, would be involved together in their new venture. How I was going to arrange it that James could come and visit me on a regular basis, I had no idea. Surely the parents would start to ask awkward questions? I knew Peter and Doreen well now, and liked them enough to call them friends. But I knew that if either of them realised that there was something between their son and me that was more than just friendship they would call me a molester or worse, and that would rebound on James. I thought at the time that I couldn't trust even his parents not to treat him the same as Mark's parents had treated him. I assumed still that the `therapy' Mark had been given was standard treatment.
As the day wore on I grew quieter and quieter, until at last James beckoned me into our cabin with a nod of his head.
"Out with it."
I looked at him.
"What've I done wrong?" he asked.
I shook my head. "Nothing. It's just that....it's the last day. This week has been....." I stopped, and gulped to try and clear the lump that threatened to stop up my throat. "....the best week of my life." I looked down at the floor.
He came to me and put his arms round me.
"Me too," he said.
And there we stopped, until gradually I felt a bit better. I explained to him what was going through my mind.
"Don't worry about me," he said. "If they get to know about me or about us and start me on anything like that, the first thing I'll do is get on a train and come knocking at your door. I'm sure they wouldn't, anyway."
I looked at him, a spark in my eyes at the thought.
"I know we'll have to be careful," he went on, "but we'll find a way. You'll have to find something near you that I'm interested in."
"Apart from yourself, that is. You know, trains or something. Or canals. Or naturist camps."
At that I had to laugh. "The idea of me inviting you to a naturist camp is going to please Peter and Doreen? Yeah! And in October, too. If you want to freeze your nuts off, count me out!"
"Ah, but at least it'd be nice to have you get them warm again."
Well, if that wasn't an invitation for me to put my hand down his shorts to cradle the delicate little things, I don't know what was. Inside his underpants I could feel that his penis was reacting, and pushing anxiously against my arm as it struggled to stand upright. And in my own underwear mine too was straining against the material.
"We daren't," I said, as I kissed him and put my free hand round him.
"Just a bit longer," he whispered, as his hand undid my zip and traced around my excited shaft.
"You're wet," he said after five minutes.
And before I could stop him he was on his knees in front of me, had eased my pants down, and had his tongue licking softly, warmly, at the exposed, wet glans. His hand pushed against the base of my erection and squeezed it up toward the tip, bringing out another drop or so of liquid. He lapped it eagerly off the end, then pulled my foreskin back over the head and pulled up my pants, then my zip.
"There," he said quietly. "Better now?"
I nodded, although at that moment I would have wanted nothing better than to strip all his clothes off -- and mine too -- and have his eager mouth around me still, and in the same way pleasure him for as long as he could accept it before the inevitable glorious conclusion.
How either of us could go outside the cabin with bulges in the front of our shorts as big as they were, I don't know. I went to the toilet and after a struggle managed to pee. The stream was so hard from the narrowed passage in my penis, and so high from the level of my erection which I was forcing downward to the toilet that it must have been in danger of boring a hole through the china. The idea made me laugh, and my body calmed down a bit, and by the time I'd finished the distortion to my clothing was much less obvious.
James's had apparently gone down quickly, as happens in adolescence. Quickly up, quickly down again. Unless something happens to make it stay up, in which case it can stay hard for ages.... I know. From myself, as well as from my experiences with him. Many of them.
We stopped early that night, and together, getting in each other's way, cooked a massive celebratory dinner. Because of the small size of both kitchen and cooker, it was really only possible to cook one or at the most two courses at the same time. So the feast was fragmented, and went on for ages, which was just as well, because the quantity of food we had to get through was rather great.. People kept getting up to check on their bit of it which was nearly ready -- or wasn't, depending how successful they'd been -- and so we were all even more exhausted by the time we were relaxing. By that time it was almost 10 pm, and we were all feeling very full and a good deal of belt-loosening had gone on. There was a lull in the various bits of conversation.
"Whilst we're all quiet, I'd like to say something," said my father in that quiet-listen-to-me-this-is-important tone of voice that I knew so well. We all pricked up our ears. "I haven't enjoyed a holiday so much for years, and I know from having spoken to Doreen and Pete that they think the same. So far as Mary and I are concerned we're so very lucky to have found another family we can get on with so easily and so well, and the fact that we met in the first place is due entirely to our sons, so they deserve a round of applause. The fact that they get on so well together is remarkable, and I'm glad that they are still such good friends after all these years.
"I know that we're going to be working together closely on a professional level, but that'll involve Pete and me in the main. For Mary, and I'm pretty sure for Martin, we want to get together often, as friends....."
"Yeahhhh!" interrupted a young male voice. Dad grinned at James.
"....and I hope we don't each just leave it and leave it as so often friends do, and so drift apart as so many friends do."
"No chance!" called out the irrepressible one.
"James!" hissed his mother.
"I know that at least one of the Evanses isn't going to let that happen, and I'm glad about that. Although I suspect that he'll be wanting all three of us to visit, or to visit us when all three of us are there. So I imagine that in the meantime there might be a number of visits between the north of England and the Midlands."
"Martin and I have been talking about that," he put in, rather more soberly this time. "He's said I can come down when I want."
"James, that's fine, except that Martin's starting a University course. He'll be busy studying and won't have time to cope with you visiting all the time."
I could see what James was trying to do. "From what I understand there's a lot of socialising goes on at Uni.," I said. "And I could do with someone visiting who isn't going to talk College all the time."
"But you'll have friends of your own, Martin, friends of your own age. I know you two are good friends as well, but with the best will in the world there are bound to be others."
"Maybe there will, Doreen. But one thing I've made up my mind about is that my existing close friends come first, and new friends have to accept them. Otherwise they won't be friends. And as to the age thing, when we're together we seem to equal out at about sixteen and a half. That's fine be me, so long as it is by James.
"Sounds good to me," he said. "I'll be down every weekend. Specially if there's trains and the canal museum there. It'll be good for my education."
"Can we see you sometimes, James? Just now and again?" said his father mock-seriously.
"Oh, I'll be home in the week," he said. "Until I go to University myself, that is."
"James, I wasn't being serious, but it almost sounds as if you were. There's no way you can go there every weekend. Not even Martin's good nature could accept that."
"I wouldn't mind," I said with a half laugh which they could take as being serious or not, as they liked. "He'd have to have a key and look after himself, that's all."
Peter and Doreen looked at each other.
"Well, he can certainly come and see you sometimes," said Doreen.
Safe in our cabin later, once the kitchen and dining areas had been cleared of any resemblance to a battlefield, we stood looking at each other.
"I knew we could do it," he said.
"Get them to agree to me coming to see you at weekends."
"They didn't agree to every weekend," I told him.
"Don't you want me every weekend?"
"I want you with me every day."
"What about nights?"
"Then I'll make sure I come down all the time."
"They'll never agree."
As usual I just stood there looking at him, scanning every inch of him, etching the familiar features even further into my memory. He watched, doing some looking of his own. Gradually I noticed that his trousers were showing a marked bulge, and at the knowledge I felt my own body start to stir impatiently. His face changed, almost imperceptibly. The usual expression of half grin was giving way to that look that I could only describe as his special, Mona Lisa smile as the attractive eyes just looked straight into mine. The mouth opened.
"Strip me," he whispered.
I just wanted to throw my arms round him and hug him to me. Or so I thought. But the undreamed of idea of my being fully clothed whilst taking off everything he was wearing until he was naked and vulnerable and available grabbed out to my imagination and shook it rigid.
I started at the neck of his shirt, gradually undoing the buttons until I could see the little nipples standing away from his developing pectoral muscles. Sliding the cloth away from them I bent my head and touched the left one with my tongue, then the right. He sighed and gave a shiver. I looked up. He was looking down straight at my face. I circled the right nipple with my lips and sucked, using my tongue on the central nub. He wriggled and gasped, and when I repeated the action of the left one he did the same.
More shirt buttons undid, and the garment could be eased off his shoulders. To do this I brought my shirt clad chest up to his bare one, circled him with my arms, and pulled the shirt down at the back, leaving it just hanging from the waistband of his trousers. I stopped myself from kissing him: how, I don't know.
Next the shoes. Unlace one, the leg lifted and I eased it off. The top of the sock could be pulled down and eased over the foot. Same with the other side.
And now..... First the belt, then the clasp, then I stopped and looked up again. He still watched me, not like a hawk, but more like a dog watches its beloved master. Yet this was no master-servant feeling, just one of love and excitement and mutuality.
As I reached for the zip my hand trembled. I grasped the metal of the warm tab, warmed by his body, and slowly eased it down over the bulge. There was a small dark patch half way down where the bulge came to a point, and as the zip passed over it the two halves of the fly separated to allow the protrusion room. On his underwear the wet patch was extensive, and somehow I had caused it all.
The zip bottomed and I continued to help the trousers on their way down his slim, hairless thighs and the young, muscular calves which did have just a sprinkling of soft, downy hair, something which I found really appealing about him. At last he lifted each foot in turn, and stood once again just looking at me, clad only in the same pair of underpants that he had bought specially, the scant red Tanga briefs I had exclaimed about when I'd first seen him in them. But then they had no wet patch spreading out from a point in the centre front, a patch that now showed every contour of the secrets below that we both enjoyed so much.
Still he stood there.
I reached down to his knees with each hand, and slowly, softly, ran my hands up each thigh to the junction with the red material. Once again he shuddered, and a droplet appeared where the cloth was at its most distended, only to soak into the remainder of the patch around it. While my hands repeated their caress of his thighs, my face slowly approached that particular area until I was only about an inch away, and I became aware of the scent of his excitement. Tentatively I extended my tongue, and as I was about to contact with his body a further droplet appeared. My tongue coincided with it, and the salty flavour thrilled my senses so that I trembled again.
I moved my hands from his thighs to the back of him and ran them over the smooth firmness of his still-clad buttocks. Doing so pressed his hardness to my face, and my mouth encircled the throbbing mound under the constricting clothing. He moaned again, and again my tongue tasted salty fluid. From the back I pulled the waistband of the tiny garment slowly downwards, exposing more and more of his flanks. The mount at the front of him prevented much downward movement there, and I wondered how best to continue. The top was near my mouth. Why not? I gripped it between my teeth and pulled outwards and slowly down. By distorting my eyesight straight down my cheeks I could see the base of the excited organ straining to pull its sensitive tip up and out of the restrictions. Down I pulled, and down......and there was a rush and the thing became free and stiff and jerked upwards to hit my nose and cheek, leaving droplets of fluid on the as it passed to stand up straight at last.
As my hands eased the briefs down his legs I kissed the softness that surrounds the two precious ovals hanging free and low beneath him, and pushed my tongue gently between them and around them, and pulled them into my mouth one at a time to squeeze with my tongue against the inside of it. From above me came an almost treble sound as the sensations started to overload his mind. Kneeling still in front of him I continued this for minutes until the sounds above me had almost ceased, yet the breathing was still rapid. And then it was time to move onwards. I let my tongue trace from the base of the scrotum, between the testicles, all the way over the root of the smooth skinned organ and up it, up, up, all the way up its not inconsiderable length, until it met with the wet, partly exposed glans. My hand replaced my mouth on the scrotum now, and whilst I caressed and manipulated there, my mouth swirled round the sensitive tip, and over and around the ridge, and almost into the opening, and I kept up a steady pull with my mouth. The only pause in the treatment was when my other hand came round to take a sample of the fluids still being produced from his excited body, then my mouth was once more in action.
My free hand went round the back of him, under his legs, to trace a path from the scrotum, over the plateau, up to the cleft, and for the first time even further: up between the softness of him onto previously forbidden territory, where the lubrication from him came into play.
And he gasped, and the little treble keening sound began again.
At last the hand fondling, manipulating, caressing, the testicles in their protective sac of skin felt a change. They were pulling away from my fingers slightly. Travelling up.... Did this mean.....? Swiftly that hand went to the base of his glans and exercised the shaft, pulling the foreskin back and forth, and the hand at the back of him found that the bending of the legs outwards made up for the tightening of the muscles at either side of where it was gently ploughing.
A very few more strokes on his penis caused a shout from above me: a real shout, a boy/man shout, treble yet broken. And his back arched, forcing his hard organ into my mouth so far that I was pushed backwards and nearly fell, and the first strong spurt of his seed hit the back of my throat. The second followed, so strongly that it almost drilled through my neck, a third just as strong, and a fourth, and then no fewer than five more of decreasing force until his organ was just giving little jerks as the sensations swept away from him.
My mouth kept its station, and I continued to lick and clean him. Then suddenly he was lower....lower....and I had to move fast to stop him from crashing to the floor as his knees gave way under him. I lowered him to a point where I could gather him into my arms and lift him -- slowly, because he wasn't light -- onto the bed.
The eyes opened, and focussed on me with difficulty.
"M...M...Martin...." The voice was very unsteady. "I love you so much."
And with that he was asleep. Swiftly I stripped off my own clothes and laid myself out beside him and covered us both up, still with my erection throbbing and my emotions jangling. I expected him to waken any minute and smile at me and start to use his hands on me if only to relieve the demands my body was making on me. But he didn't. I lay there, one arm over him, my body pressed close to his and my jutting self hard against his thigh, but still nothing. I began thinking back over what we had done together, and how much he'd enjoyed it all, and what I hoped he do for me when he awoke.....and fell asleep.
It was dark when he moved my arm off his chest, and I only gradually awoke. The mattress moved, and feet padded softly to the door, paused, then went outside. I could hear that he was in the bathroom and relieving himself, and hoped that he wouldn't feel the need to make himself come as he had that first night. He didn't, and by the time he was tiptoeing back towards the bed I was lying on my back, awake.
"All right?" I whispered.
"I thought you were asleep," he whispered back as he came up to the bed and knelt at my side. "Yes, very all right, thank you. I don't know how you did that, but I've never felt like that before."
"I didn't think so. I certainly hope not."
"Because I'd not want anyone else apart from me to give you so much pleasure."
"Who d'you think I'd go to? No, nobody else is going to get a look in."
"Good," I said as I pulled back the covers for him to get in. "Are you coming back to bed, or kneeling out there all night?"
Before I finished the sentence, almost, he had laid down beside me. Not with our heads together, but with his head near my penis, and with his next to mine. And almost immediately mine was in his mouth, soft though it was. And of course I had to take his swelling one back into mine.
All the earlier emotions returned in a rush, and a combination of his hands and mouth all over my thighs, stomach, scrotum and penis made sure I was once again erect in no time at all, and shortly after that I knew it was my turn. The earlier unsatisfied excitement had caused my body to continue manufacturing its semen, and when it happened it was one of the deepest, most satisfying ejaculations I had ever experienced. That his mouth was around it at the time helped me greatly, and he enjoyed it too as I had a lot to give him: as much as or more than he had given me before.
He cleaned me off with his mouth, then turned in the bed, laid next to me and kissed me, tasting strongly of my own seed.
"Now we're even," he said. "Except that when I go back with you tomorrow I'm going to do what you did for me, and see if I can make you collapse like I did."
"When you come back with me.....?" I was still half asleep. I hadn't had the exercise of going to the toilet to get my blood moving.
"I'm coming back with you tomorrow," he said as if it was all settled, "and going back home by train on Sunday night."
"Don't you want me to?"
"Yes....yes of course I do. But I think your parents will have something to say about it."
"I'll look after them."
Somehow I knew he would.
We were late up in the morning, something to do with cuddling up close for an hour, squirming two make bodies together and not wanting to stop. We were nearly discovered, too. A knock came at the door, and we separated in a hurry before he squeaked "Come in!"
I turned back to face his back as he rolled over to see who it was. Mum.
"Are you two getting up today?" she asked plaintively. "We're almost packed, and we need to get to the boatyard by ten."
"Wassertime?" I asked without thinking. In front of me James spluttered.
"Nearly nine. And how you can sleep in this atmosphere I don't know. It's a bit thick. Be quick, please?"
"'Kay Mary," he said in his sweetest tone. She smiled and left.
He turned back to me. "How do I get rid of this?" he asked, guiding my hand to the middle of his stomach.
"You don't, this morning," I said, removing it.
"Haven't you got one?" he asked, fumbling his way onto mine and knowing full well that I too was throbbing.
"Yes, but if we don't get up now, Dad'll be in and he'll just throw off the bedclothes."
"Even if we're quick?"
"Yes. We're never that quick."
"Oh." But he brought his head to me and kissed me full on the lips, a lingering kiss that almost made me wonder if he was now putting it on for effect. But I remembered all he had said, all he had done, and knew that, somehow, he found me attractive, that he was in love with me, that a miracle had happened for me.
We found our way back to Napton without incident, and yes, both he and I had got dressed, visited the bathroom, and had no distended fronts to our trousers by the time we made the outside world. No, we didn't make it happen, it just did on its own. Don't be rude. Once back at the boatyard we vanished inside to pack, or rather I did; he vanished off to his parents' cabin to talk to them. I threw most of his things into his bag, and was entranced by the sudden ability to handle his clothing. Almost to fondle it. Top of the pile of items to pack were the minute Tanga briefs he had bought especially for the holiday. I wondered if Peter and Doreen knew about them. More particularly I wondered if he wanted his parents to see them, especially in the state he had left them.
They were dry, but a white deposit had replaced the spreading wetness of the night before. On an impulse I threw them into my own bag.
He came back, rather quiet. "They say school starts on Wednesday, and that you don't want me there when you're getting ready to start University."
"Does that mean you could stay until Tuesday night?"
He looked at me. The disappointed look on his face changed slowly until the grin was at nearly full stretch. "I'll ask them!" he said.
Two minutes later he was back. So was the grin. "Monday night, if you can put up with me, they said."
"There you go, you see. Ask for the impossible and you shall receive it. Sometimes."
We met up with the boat's owner later, fortunately having finished the very significant cleaning and scrubbing our two mothers insisted on. He was a little straight faced at first, having seen just James and me lolling about by the tiller. In fact we were waiting for the floors to dry, and keeping watch over the luggage. When Dad appeared h introduced himself, and as we merged into the picture, so to speak, he turned out to be very pleasant. When he was allowed to go below -- when the floors were dry -- he was most complimentary about what we'd done.
"Better than we manage to leave her, sometimes," he said. Mum and Doreen just looked cocky.
At last everything was off her, and we stood self-consciously on the concrete, swaying slightly every now and again after a week of getting used to the almost unfelt motion of the boat. James was fidgeting, anxious to leap into my car and get going on his voyage of exploration. The parents just chatted, as if they'd not had a chance to do so all week. Finally they all agreed to phone soon, and to visit soon, and to have another joint holiday soon too. Kisses were exchanged.
"Are you sure you want James to stay with you?" asked Peter. "You can still say no, you know."
"Yes. It's fine. Any time he wants to. I'll give him a key, as I said."
"Any time except now, you mean?"
"No, now as well if he wants to. It'll help me wind down a bit."
"He usually winds us up."
"All right. Off you go. But make sure you catch a train on Tuesday morning, and tell us before you leave when you'll get to the station our end."
"And behave yourself."
"See you on Tuesday."
He was quite quiet in the car, and I wondered why. Once we were outside the town and away from both sets of parents he let out a deep sigh. I glanced over to him.
"What's the matter?"
"Oh, nothing. Nothing at all. It's just....."
He trailed off. I looked over at him again. "Go on."
"I've just.... I mean...."
Silence again. I let it hang. A long silence. I looked again. He was serious of face, but happy looking. Was he having second thoughts?
"I've just taken the biggest step of my life."
It was my turn to be silent for a long time.
"How do you mean?" I asked at last, although I was almost certain I knew.
He was still hesitant. "When we've been together before, it's been because we were both there. Now I'm travelling for one reason." A pause. A gulp.
I pulled over to the side of the road, put the brake on and switched the engine off. My hand went on to his and he looked me in the eye. The expression was almost scared, I thought. Certainly more than just concerned.
"You're wrong, James. You're not travelling for sex. At least, I hope not. You're travelling for love, and that means friendship and respect. If you decide it should also mean sex, and I do too, then that's completely different. But if you really think you're travelling just for physical sex and are having second thoughts about it, then I can take you back or to a station if you'd rather."
But at that he looked hurt. "I thought you wanted me with you."
"I do, more than anything else I ever have wanted. But I want you to want to be with me, too."
He worked this out. "I didn't say that because I didn't want sex, or to be with you. I do. It's just a big step."
I squeezed the hand. It turned and held mine. "If I told you that that's what I thought you meant, would you believe me? That coming with me as a friend, as someone who loves you is all right, but coming just to have physical sex probably isn't: does that help?"
He nodded and smiled faintly. "Do you mind?"
"Mind? I'd hate it if it was just sex, no matter how good looking you were. But love, and knowing that's how you think of me, that's really special."
This time he settled back in the seat, and a real smile settled on his face. "Let's go!" he said.
Some time later he looked up at the three-storey block of flats, wide eyed.
"It looks very grown-up."
I grinned. "Wait 'til you see inside."
We climbed the stairs to the top, I opened the door, and the first thing he saw was the picture of one of my favourite steam engines. At that he exclaimed, and hardly wanted to look any further. But I dragged him away and showed him round. The lounge was unremarkable, except for another railway picture; the kitchen was -- well, a kitchen. Then I showed him a closed door and stood back. He looked enquiringly at me. I motioned him to open the door.
All through my childhood and youth I'd been into railways, which meant that the walls of my room were always covered with pictures of engines and trains, posters and any mementoes I'd managed to pick up. When I moved out, they all came with me, and my new bedroom was similarly decorated. I certainly saw no reason to have the girlie pictures up that most of my contemporaries seemed to have. In fact the only concession to increasing age was the double bed. To have him stop two feet into the room and just look around with his mouth resting somewhere by his feet was heart warming.
He walked all round the walls, looking at the pictures, exclaiming, asking questions, and drinking it all in, and then turned to look at me properly for the first time for ages. The grin unzipped properly.
"I like this room."
"Good. Half of it's yours."
I don't know what made me say that. But his attitude once in the flat was suddenly so much younger than it had been during the holiday. I was suddenly aware that the was in reality only fourteen.
At what I said he looked at me, a sparkle in his eye. "I wish it was. I could live here."
"I hope you will, when you can."
He was silent at that, but subtly something changed, and he came to me and hugged me, and was once again the same age as me, and my James again.
Later we had settled down again in each other's company, and (possibly partly due to a few cans of beer) we had relaxed, and it was as if we were still on the boat. Chat bounced to and fro between bouts of TV, and at last I found him yawning.
"Are you tired as well?" I asked.
"Where do you want to sleep?"
"What?" he said, suddenly waking up.
"Where do you want to sleep? Here, on the floor? Standing up in the toilet? Where."
He was grinning at the last bit, anyway.
"I know, I'll have my half of the bedroom."
"Good," I said. "That's what I hoped you'd say."
I got up; so, reluctantly, did he. He followed me to the door, then hesitated.
"I need a pee."
"Go on, then. I'm going to get ready for bed, I'm really tired."
I hadn't even unpacked. I upended my bag on the floor, but then thought better of it. It could get done in the morning. Half way through undressing I heard his footsteps outside the door. They paused. There was a knock. What the hell was he playing at? I decided to play along.
He did. Looked at me, with no shirt, and with my trousers undone, and smiled timidly.
"Well what?" he asked.
"What was the knock for?"
He paused. "I...I don't.....I always knock before coming into someone else's bedroom."
I looked at him, aghast. Had he really any doubts left?
"But it's not someone else's bedroom. It's yours. Yours and mine. Just like on the canals."
"It just seems wrong."
"James....Oh god....." I was really upset. I thought I was going to lose him. I felt really panicky as I looked at him standing in front of me like a naughty schoolboy. What had gone wrong?
"I thought you felt the same about me as I do about you," I croaked.
"I do...I do..." That at least was music. "But it just seems...odd...being in your flat, and coming into your bedroom to sleep in your bed. It's just different from the canals."
Was that really all? In that case....
"James. Come here. Please?"
He came up to me, the face still uncertain, with that sort of pleading look on it.
"You won't hurt me, will you?"
My mouth dropped open. I looked at this unexpectedly, suddenly uncertain young boy in front of me, and tears filled my eyes at the fact that, after all this time, he thought I would do anything to harm him. All I could do was hug him to me, and slowly he returned the hug. When talking was safe again I separated us and looked down into his eyes, which now showed a bit less of the anxious puppy look.
"My....friend; My...more than friend," I started. "I'm still the same person as I was at Amberdale. I'm still the same person I was for all this week. Did I hurt you then? Did I do anything that you weren't happy with?"
He shook his head.
"Then I'm not going to start now. Is it just that this is my place, and not somewhere where your parents are going to come back to?" I too had been younger, and knew as a young child that feeling that you were in someone else's house and in their power. Stupid it was, I knew. Now. But I suppose the idea of coming to the house of someone else for the first time, knowing you were going to bed with them and were likely to use the genital parts of your body there, must be new, disturbing, foreign.
"Please, James," I said in my smallest voice. "Trust me? Like I trust you?"
He came into my arms then, of his own volition, and buried his head in my bare shoulder. When he drew back he looked happier. I continued undressing, and, to my relief, he started.
"I think I've been silly," he said as he took off his trousers.
"Why?" I thought the worst again.
"Oh, about this. It's no different from being on the canals."
Thank goodness. "Right." I said. "And do you know something else?"
"What?" he said as he pulled his underpants down his legs.
"I still love you. Really."
He smiled that Mona Lisa smile and cuddled up to me.
Just for a change, we woke late the next morning. We must both have been tired. There was no other reason, that time. I looked into his sleepy eyes as I woke, and reflected the gentle smile I found there. We embraced again, and I thought how lucky I was to have found him all those years ago. Our faces were very close, and each of us were busy examining the window to the soul of the other, and somehow knowing and loving what we saw there. His arms traced patterns on my back, and I felt this warmth pressing against my belly. Subtly his expression changed, and a look of longing, almost of hunger came into his eyes. I'd seen it before and knew what it meant. Sure enough the hand transferred themselves to my chest, and my nipples, then continued southward to run like combs through the curly hair at the base of my belly. That I should have a reasonable pelt of hair just there he found fascinating, and to my temporary frustration spent ages at this unusual coiffure. At last one hand went onwards and was soon joined by the other when it found so much more interesting things to play with, everything I have was cradled in both of his moving hands.
My own hands found their own toys of excitement too, and by the little moans of delight that escaped from each of us from time to time the enjoyment was mutual. We both started turning in the bed at the same time, trying to bring the items we were playing with into sight and nearer to even greater pleasure. I got there first, and, although I knew that my own erection was slippery with fluid was surprised to see just how much my young love was producing. I thought my hands were wet, and when I could see, all of his genital area was shining.
Almost simultaneously our mouths enveloped each other, and the vibration of his moan as I started with my tongue was like electricity. I cleaned up everywhere I could, to his obvious delight, for a very short time after I had started again to concentrate on the main event, so to speak, there was a long moan from my own middle which may have been my name being called, and his hot seed started to hit the back of my mouth. And I knew that I was ready too, and could feel my own orgasm starting in that indescribable way deep inside me. I too gave a muffled shout of exultation and warning, and started pumping my offering into his mouth, time after time; I had got used to a twice daily routine over the last week, and missing out the previous night had enabled my body to do more than just catch up. I doubted if he could take it all, not knowing at the time how little semen is actually ejaculated in a normal orgasm. It certainly felt like a lot.
We lay there, recovering, in the same position. As normality started to return I once again realised how lucky I was. All through school I had known nobody in this way, this way of sharing everything. Except Mark. I imagined then that just as I had looked forward to a homosexual future life without love, with mounting frustrations as attractive members of my own sex were snapped up by members of the opposite one whose mutual love they sought, so there would be countless others who were in the same position. And how many of them would ever find their James?
I was startled out of my reverie by a light touch on my scrotum, and looked down with surprise. But he was intent on his subject. He was just tracing with his fingertips round each testicle, round the outside of the scrotum, up its dividing ridge, and over the roundness of each of the bulges which are so sensitive. He seemed not to realise that this was affecting me. In fact he was just curious about the shape, the build, the movement of them, completely unaware of the effect he was having on me. Until, that is, the penis rose further and stretched itself once more up my belly. Then he looked up at me and, to my surprise, blushed.
"It didn't seem right."
"Dunno. It was just something I wanted to do. But we've just..... er...."
"Brought each other to an orgasm. Shown our love for each other. Shown how much we trust each other."
"Yeahhh. That sounds nice."
"It is. Was it nice?"
"Yeahh.......you know it was."
"Then why worry about what I might think when you explore me? When you touch me?"
"I didn't think you'd want me to, so soon after."
"Did I ask you to stop?"
"If I did anything you didn't want you'd stop me, wouldn't you."
"It's a two way thing. It's mutual respect."
"But you're older."
"And does that make it right for me to do things to you that you don't want?"
"Then you've answered your own question."
"But if you're older than me, how can you respect me? It's meant to be younger people who respect their elders."
"I'll ignore the fact that when we're together we're the same age. If what you say was literally true, parents would be able to make slaves of their children."
I let that sink in.
"It's the respect and the love they have for them that makes it impossible for that to happen."
"Yeah. And if you ever lose your respect for others you'll go off the rails and start being unpopular."
I could tell by the expression on his face that it was all getting too heavy. It was for me too. So I put out my arms, grabbed his sides and squeezed, tickling him hard. He gave a gasp and curled into a ball like a nine year old.
And that's how things started all over again.
An hour and a half later, when we had once again recovered, we had a shower. Singular. And of course we washed each other. And I was surprised to feel his hand penetrate into my bottom and wash thoroughly between the cheeks -- the very thing he had objected to that first time on the canals. As I'd already washed him I couldn't try doing the same.
Walking round the flat that morning it was like being with a different person from the rather reserved, almost shy and reluctant, boy who had come home with me the previous night. He really explored, and I felt that he was making himself at home properly. We had completely regained the attitude that we had enjoyed on the canals too. The previous night we had been a nineteen year old and a fourteen year old, the latter being worried about being invited into an older man's bed for the first time. This morning we were again the two sixteen-and-a-half year olds who were completely at one with each other. It was wonderful.
I was wondering what we could do with the half day that was left to us once we had got up and showered, when from the hallway I heard him call.
"What's that, Martin?"
I hadn't shut the cupboard in the hall, and he was staring into it, looking up. I ducked down and followed his gaze to a roof hatch. Why I'd never seen it before, I don't know.
"Is it to the attic?" he asked. I gaped at him. I'd lived there for two weeks before the holiday and it had never even occurred to me that the top floor of the block would have access to the roof space. Obviously the estate agents hadn't included it in their blurb either. And I was the one who was meant to have a brain good enough for University. Mind you, it was well hidden.
"Must be," I said as casually as I could. He looked at me sharply. The grin unzipped.
"You haven't the faintest, have you?"
"No," I said honestly, with a self-deprecating grin. "I never realised there'd be a loft."
"Well? Are we going exploring?"
"Well....yes. I suppose so. Why not?"
I got a chair. He climbed onto it and gave the hatch a hearty push. Nothing happened.
"Stuck," he said as he lowered his hands. "You tr......"
As his hands let go there was a click and the hatch dropped down on its hinge, hitting him on the head.
"Ow.....buggrit!" He half fell, half stepped off he chair onto my foot. And for a moment or two we were each saying rude words and nursing the affected parts of ourselves. Then the funny side of it hit us, and we were laughing at each other.
I climbed onto the chair, and found the loft ladder, extended it to the floor and then hesitated.
"Torch. Must have one somewhere."
"Mine's still in my bag."
"We'll need it."
He rushed off. I suppose as it was his torch it was only fair he should be first up there. He almost flung himself at the ladder and his head vanished. The torch beam swung round like a lighthouse.
Then there was another click, and electric light flooded the space.
"Wow, Martin. Come and look at this." And his feet vanished up the ladder and I could hear him walking around. I followed. And gasped as I could see what he meant.
The loft extended over the entire floor area of the flat. It was, to me, vast, like a room in a stately home. But what we were both so excited about was that around the outside of this floor-boarded and roof-boarded area was a wide shelf. At a few points around the perimeter the shelf widened further, and at two points there were other shelves which connected the two sides.
It had been built for a model railway. On a big scale. And what was the thing that I hadn't brought from home because there was no room and I thought I'd at last outgrown it and wouldn't want other Uni. types to see it?
A model railway.
James knew what it was for, too. He looked at me with his eyes shining.
"I'll bring my stuff down. We can put it all up here."
"It'll need to fit in with mine, then."
"You've got a model railway?"
After a detailed examination and having made drawings of what was there we went down to the lounge where we exchanged information about what each had got. Some of his was nearer toy train standard than mine, but he was quite excited by the prospect of building things properly. I suggested we should go to an exhibition where we could get some ideas, and he jumped at the idea. The rest of the afternoon was spent happily talking about track plans and stations and signalling, and at times the discussions got quite heated. At the end of it when we could go no further in theory we realised we could hardly see each other, and the afternoon had turned to evening. We'd had no exercise all day, so I suggested a swim at the local baths which I knew were open for a Sunday evening session.
"No swimming things," he said in a disappointed tone.
"Shorts? Or borrow mine."
"I've got those old shorts," he said. I remembered how they scarcely covered him, and what would happen with nothing underneath when they were wet. I mentioned it.
"Would anybody mind?"
"Well, I'd be covered."
"Yes, but probably visible through the cloth."
"Oh, don't worry about it. I won't get out of the water."
So we did. It was Ok all the time he remembered, but when he got out at one point to chase me round the poolside -- which earnt him a whistle from the lifeguard -- everything became very obvious. He seemed unconcerned, though. When he got out again to take a dive in, I saw a middle aged man, another swimmer, watching him intently. All went well until he had taken the dive, when he bobbed up and down in the water with an agitated expression on his face. I swam to him.
"Shorts came down. Can't reach," he gurgled. I supported him while he retrieved them and reinstated them round his waist.
"Do they show much?" he asked.
"Yes," I said simply.
As we swam it was obvious that the man was either keeping close to us or was watching from the side every move we made. James noticed it too and mentioned it to me.
"Shall I play a game with him?"
He crossed to the side and started to haul himself out of the water near the man. The shorts dropped down him, exposing the top of his cleft. What the front was showing I couldn't see. But the man's eyes never left him. He stood on the side, and slowly, as sensuously as he knew how, pulled up his shorts. Then he went up to the man whose eyes were glued to James' middle, and spoke to him. The man looked confused, but said something back. James then jumped back in to the water doing a `bomb', soaked the man, and swam back to my side.
"He's one of us," he said quietly. "He could hardly speak, and his eyes were boring through my trunks."
"What did you say to him?"
"I just asked him the time. When he could speak he sounded pleasant enough."
The man stayed in the pool until we left, then followed us into the showers, where James and I shared. The stranger was almost having apoplexy by the time we had unashamedly washed each other's back, although we didn't dare do any more. We collected our clothes and, out of sight of the attendants but so the man could see us, went into the same cubicle. He walked past and looked in over the door, and gave a sort of whimper, much to our amusement, then walked off.
"You could have a really good night with him." I hoped I was joking.
"Nah," said my friend. "I don't like older men."
And we both went off into fits of laughter.
The trouble was that he was waiting for us when we came out, and even followed us to the fish and chip restaurant where we had decided to have a meal. But he didn't follow us in, so we never did discover what the was like.
The rest of the evening was spent looking over the plans we'd sort of made for the railway, refining them, talking about the next day and the places we'd go. Gradually we seemed to draw closer together, although we'd not been referring to the railway plans at all at the time. At last he made an inflammatory comment -- I can't remember what it was -- and the obvious way for me to get back at him was to tickle him. So I did. Unmercifully, my hands pulling up his shirt so I could get to his so-sensitive sides.
He rolled up, at the same time trying to get to any part of me that might be ticklish while trying to keep his arms flat against his sides to prevent me from doing the same. He didn't have much chance. He lay in a ball, like a hedgehog, giggling and trying to roll free. At last he made it, and uncurled, panting and still giggling. I made another dive for him, but he dodged, and finally managed to do the same to me. Now I'm still ticklish to this day, so at the time I was at just as much a disadvantage as him.
But at last I dislodged him, and sat in the time honoured schoolboy victor way, on his chest with my hands pinning his upper arms to the floor. He tried all the tricks he knew, and finally hit on a solution that would probably only be acceptable between the two of us. He shook free and grabbed my crotch.
In the midst of our fighting my mind went back to that last night on the canals when he'd stood there as if a helpless waif and asked me to strip him, and I had. I wondered what he'd do, given the chance, so I let go of him and stopped struggling, leaving his hand in mid-grab, as it were. He was a bit surprised, but I was looking at his face at the time in a half serious, half `come on, then' way, and it seemed to work. He wriggled out from under me, still with his hand circling a bunch of trousering containing my genitals. But gently.
And slowly, as I knelt there, he eased my shirt out from my waistband and over my head, then released the belt of my trousers, looking into my eyes to check that it was Ok as he did so. But instead of taking them off he eased down the zip and slowly slid his hand inside my underpants until he was once again clutching at my genitals, though even more carefully now. He roved about all over them, and slowly -- well, not too slowly -- my body reacted and made movement inside my clothing that much more difficult for him. He withdrew his hand, to my temporary disappointment. He moved behind me and undid my shoes, pulled them off, and the socks after them. I was wearing only trousers and underpants now, and they were exposing more of me than normal.
"Stand up." The voice was positive, yet somehow thick. It sounded as if he was emotional about what he was doing, affected by my being partially undressed whilst he was still fully clothed. I complied, he joined me, and I could see from the state of his trousers that he was indeed just as affected as me. He eased my trousers off, then stood back looking at me. I looked back, wondering what to expect, aware that not only was I distending the front of my underwear but that the cloth was looking decidedly damp in front.
He smiled, and in one swift movement my pants were round my ankles.
"Just like on the beach on the island," he said triumphantly. "But your prick didn't nearly hit me in the face then."
I grinned back, despite feeling that a moment of love had been allowed to pass. But gradually as I remained silent his wide grin mellowed to that beautiful half smile of his, as his eyes continued looking me up and down. Then he stepped closer and looked up at me.
"Will you come to bed with me?"
We decided, the next day, when at last we had hauled ourselves out of bed and from each other's attentions, that the model railway would be a really excellent way to justify his frequent visits. The day was spent visiting and shopping in town, and my heart sank as I knew he'd have to get on a train soon. The time came, and I found myself trying not to be too emotional on the platform. I wanted to kiss him, to tell him I loved him, to tell him to hurry back the next weekend, but there were people all round us and it wasn't possible. Eventually the train pulled out, with him waving and yelling that he'd phone when he got in, and I was left feeling really down, as if the lights had all been turned off.
I stumbled, more than walked, back to the flat, and went up into the loft, the bare loft, that would one day soon be alive to the sound of his voice and laughter as he worked with me on the railway. I didn't feel like eating. In fact I felt almost as bad as I had when Mark and I had separated after the Amberdale holiday. I'd arranged to meet him afterwards too, just as I had James. And the more I thought, the worse it got. When at last the phone rang I gave a sudden start, realised who it would be and almost fell over my feet trying to get to the phone.
It was him. Cheerful, safe and tired. Phoning, he said, from the station. "I've just phoned Dad and he's coming to get me," he said. "So I thought I'd call you too so they couldn't overhear what we say. I just wanted to thank you."
"I'd have thought I should thank you for coming."
"Oh, we both did that, many times over the weekend."
"I know. And I enjoyed every one. I wish you were up here."
And that brought tears to me. "So do I," I said chokily. "More than you know."
"Have you been to bed yet?"
"No. It's only eight thirty."
"No. It doesn't matter. Look, I'll phone again from home so they can hear me say thanks. My money's going now. 'Bye."
"'Bye. And.....I love you." But the click had come just before I got those words in.
I went into the bedroom and looked around. Nothing untoward. Then I pulled back the bedclothes and there it was.
Those briefest of brief, stained, Tanga underpants, unpleasant to anyone except us. And a note.
`You're the best thing that ever happened to me. Thanks. I love you.' Then a big space and underneath: `As these were in your bag I thought you might like to keep them. Mum wouldn't understand if I asked her to wash them. Could you? See you next week. I'll phone. James.'
My eyes grew misty and hot. I held the cloth and the paper to my chest.
Ten minutes after, the phone rang again. Peter.
"I hear he had a good time with you. He's full of this model railway thing. Do you really want him down?"
"Yes....oh yes! He's good fun, and it'll be something else to add to life."
"Well, if you're sure. We'd like him up here sometimes, but if you really want him down there there's a few suitable trains, and at last we can afford it, I suppose. You won't want him next week, I suppose?"
"If he wants to come, yes."
"He does. He's pestering me already and we've only just got in. He wants to tell you he's safe home and to say thanks, anyway."
"Ok, Peter. And thanks to you and Doreen for making the holiday so special for us."
He was quite formal when he got on the phone, but unbent after a bit. At last I told him I'd found his message and hoped he'd be careful of his reply when I said: "It meant a lot to me. I love you too, because you're the best thing that happened to me."
There was a pause, and he whispered so they couldn't hear. "Even over Mark?"
My turn to pause, although I was certain of the answer. "Even over Mark. You seem so right for me."
"That's nice. Thank you, Martin. See you next week. Oh....." He paused. "How am I going to get all my railway stuff to your place? There's too much to go on the train."
"Would it go in my car? Or Peter's?"
"Yes. Why, would you come up for it?"
"If you want. In fact I could come up over the week, sleep at your place if they'd let me, and go back the following day."
There was a short, breathless pause. Then:
"Yeahhhh! Hold on, I'll ask."
There was a muffled conversation in the background that went on for some time. I was starting to wonder what the problem was. Then he said breathlessly "Hang on, I'm giving you back to Dad."
I waited. "Hallo Martin", said Peter, "Has that worthless son of mine been persuading you to make a journey all the way up here just to fetch a few bits of railway? He really does take too much for granted, you know."
I laughed, happier again at the thought of seeing him so soon. "Not really, Peter, we're probably as nuts over trains as each other, even model ones. And you should see the size of this loft! We could open it up to the public."
He laughed too. "Well, I know I keep on warning you about James and his assumption that everyone wants to be with him, especially you,....." Music to my ears, that bit. ".....but you must really enjoy his company to be happy to accept him so frequently. By all means come up here to get his stuff, and what I suggest is that you leave it till Friday, then you can take him back with you on Saturday. It'll mean sleeping in his room I'm afraid, because we're still renting until we can find a suitable place to buy, and it's small. But then you're used to that!"
Magic. Absolute magic. He gave me the address and directions, and then put James on again.
"Great! I'll see you on Friday, then. What time will you be here?"
"I get home from school at half past four."
"Will there be anyone in before that?"
"Yes, Mum's here."
"I'll see you there, then."
"Yeahh....great. I'm looking forward to it already."
"So'm I. More than you realise."
He chuckled. "Oh, I think I do. Anyway, I'd better go now."
"Yeah. I'll see you on Friday. Leave me half the bed."
"It'll be a tight squeeze.....oh. I won't say any more. See you."
"'Bye. Look after yourself."
And that was that. I felt a bit deflated again after he'd rung off, but happier again when I realised that I'd see him sooner than I had thought. The confirmation that he definitely wanted me there was good to have, too.
When I arrived at the house an hour early on Friday I felt like a nervous schoolboy meeting his loved one's parents for the first time. What I had set out to do was to dump off my bag and surprise him by collecting him from school. But I hadn't taken into account that Doreen would want to chat, something that occurred to me only as I arrived. She was so grateful to me for making James's holiday so special that I and my doings were all he wanted to talk about, that it was ages before I could tell her my plan. When at last I got a word in she agreed it'd be a good surprise and gave me directions.
The juniors were coming out when I arrived, and there were some which looked almost as he had done at nine years old. Mischievous. Fun. Happy. But not one had The Grin. At last a bell rang loudly. There was a lull, and the noise of a mixture of broken and unbroken voices at high decibels approached. I watched carefully.
Streams of boys of widely varying age walked past. They all looked the same. I didn't know if I'd recognise him in a cap. The thought hadn't crossed my mind until then as it was ages since I'd had to wear one to school. Face after face swam past, and scanning every one was difficult. Then at last two boys emerged from the gate, one younger than the other. The younger one was looking up at the elder who was talking, looking straight ahead. Then the younger one spoke and at last The Grin unzipped on the older face and I knew it was him. And the younger one's face, dazzled by the sudden smile, lit up too, and I thought back five years.
They were about to pass the car, so I sounded the horn. They jumped and looked at me, annoyed. Then one of them did one of the best theatrical double-takes I'd seen and jumped in the air, then rushed to the car and wrenched open the door, ignoring his companion completely.
I thought for a minute he was going to kiss me, but he stopped himself in time, and fired questions at me instead. I interrupted him. "Don't forget your friend."
"What? Oh yes. Oy, Graham. This is Martin, the friend I was telling you about."
I hoped he hadn't said too much.
"Sir......" I spluttered. "I've never been called that in my life! Martin's my name."
"Ok. Good to meet a friend of James'."
He had nothing to say to this.
"I'll see you on Monday," said James to him.
"Yeahh. 'Kay. Bye." He sounded very sad.
"Can't we give him a lift?" I asked James quietly.
"You sure? Hey, Gray..."
The boy looked round at the sudden shout, almost fearfully, I thought.
"Martin says do you want a lift."
The face lit up, just as it had done when James had smiled at him. "Yeah, please."
A few yards down the road we passed a group of four older boys hanging round on one of the corners. They peered into the car, and two of them shouted something and started making rude gestures. The penny dropped.
"School bullies?" I asked tersely.
They both nodded. "They get me every day unless I'm with James," Graham explained.
Now, I hate confrontation, and I'm not very brave, but I didn't see why I, as a fairly broad built nineteen year old with a car should let four fifteen year olds get away with bullying like that. So I squealed the car to a halt, flung it into reverse, and backed towards them at a rate of knots. There was another squeal as I stopped. They stepped back, looking surprised. I got out, and they started backing away.
"Running away, cowards? Scared someone bigger and older than you might hurt you? Come back here." I surprised even myself at the tone. They continued backing off, then turned and ran. I watched them out of sight, then got back into the car.
"We're going to find them," I said calmly.
"No, don't," said Graham. "They'll get me worse on Monday."
"Not after what we're going to do when we get you home," I said.
I turned the car, and drove down the road they'd vanished into. They were still walking down it some yards away. Once more I dew up, this time opposite them. They looked over casually as I opened the door. There was a word spoken, and they started to run.
We followed them for some while, until they all turned up a footpath. This time I didn't stop, but told the others to give me directions to James's home. There, after explaining everything to Doreen, who gave the worried Graham a drink, I wrote out four letters, all the same, addressed to each of the four boys. It said in essence that I was a friend of Graham's, hated bullies and bullying, and had friends much older than either him or them who lived locally. Which was true: Peter and Doreen were both older than them, and lived locally. In future, therefore, they would be held responsible by me for Graham's freedom from bullying from anyone inside or outside the school, and that further action would be taken if I even suspected that they were not taking this duty seriously. I also said that a copy of the letter was going to the headmaster and to Graham's parents who would also keep a watch on things.
Now this sounds very clever. I wish the idea had been mine. But it's exactly what was done at my own school when I was being bulled. It had worked for me, and it would work for Graham against these cowards. When I had done it all and explained it, he just looked at me.
Like a grateful puppy. As did James. I felt wonderful.
He only lived up the road, so a lift wasn't necessary. As he said goodbye on the doorstep he shyly put out his hand to shake mine, and I felt a rush of affection for him. So I gripped his shoulder. "Always think to yourself `I'm not a doormat.' Then people won't try and walk over you."
When he'd gone, and James and I were alone in the hall, he hugged me so tightly it hurt.
"Come and see our bedroom," he said.
They had made him put out a camp bed for me, despite his protestations that we were Ok in his single bed. "What's acceptable on the canals, and with a double bed for the two of you, isn't acceptable here and in only a single. You'd be pressed up against each other all night," went the argument. I have to admit that I could feel my body stirring as I realised what she'd said, and he told me afterwards that his was reacting as well. It would have been lovely to tell her that it was precisely that contact we were looking forward to .
We were limited on our physical enjoyment of each other that night because his parents slept in the next room, and I learnt from overhearing the rather nice things Doreen was saying to Peter about our rescue of Graham that the walls were quite thin. I got into the camp bed and rolled about a bit, then stood, naked as usual, over his recumbent form in its single bed. He grinned up at me.
"What's the matter?" I asked, but quietly. "Don't you want me in there?"
Without another word he pushed himself over to one side to give me room. I struggled my way next to him. She was right. We would have to sleep pressed up against each other all night. She never said anything about having to have our arms around each other, though. We rubbed our bodies together for some time, and the inevitable stiffness would have to accompany each of us to sleep. "Just wait until tomorrow night," he whispered as we kissed each other before settling down to sleep.
Or to try to sleep. He seemed to be all right, but the inability to move, no matter how good and lovely the reason, made sleep difficult for me, and easily interrupted when it came. He only had to breathe a bit heavier, or make a movement, and I was awake. So I was a bit jaded in the morning. And stiff. Stiff muscles, that is, from lying in one position almost all night. He, on the other hand, had slept like a log. I escaped from the bed at about half past six and got into the little camp bed, where I slept soundly until nine.
He woke me up with a sneeze.
I stirred. "Martin.....are you awake?" he snuffled.
"Why aren't you here?"
"Did I keep you awake?"
"No. Well, yes. A bit."
"'s Ok. I must need to move in my sleep, and couldn't. But it was good being so close."
I smiled to myself. "Dunno. Watch is up there somewhere."
He turned over to look at his own bedside clock. "Nine! But where are the parents? They've usually got me up by now."
"I can smell bacon," I said.
"Oh wow. They must like you. We never have a cooked breakfast except on holiday."
It took ages to eat a vast breakfast, carry box after box from the small loft above their two-up, two-down house, and carry it out to the car, then another age to say goodbye. At last we were mobile, and he sank back into the seat beside me with a sigh.
"I've been waiting for this moment since we were on the phone."
I looked round into his eager eyes, which were staring at me as if I was something special. It stopped me saying something flippant, and I told him the truth.
"So have I, James, so have I. Not just since the phone call, but since the train left the station last Monday."
He drew in breath, gently touched my thigh, and sighed again. Who said that you didn't really know about love until you were eighteen?
It was a quiet journey. Not having slept well I needed all my concentration on the road, so conversation was sparse. When we stopped for a meal the woman serving us asked what my little brother wanted, and I was just about to say something rude to her when I remembered Amberdale and the times when I regarded him as just that. So I asked for a child's portion. The woman was even about to serve one up when he exploded into laughter. That set me off, and it was a full minute before I could hand him the menu to make his choice.
She was not amused.
As we continued our journey I was almost falling asleep, much to his alarm. He had to shout at me on two occasions before I decided to take a break and sleep. I found a minor road to turn on to, where I could park in peace. It was very narrow and quiet, and trees lined it. We parked and got out. I wandered off to have a pee, and was about to return when he called. I joined him, and he was overlooking a small hollow, surrounded by trees, thick with grass and meadow flowers, and baked in the sunshine. I felt sleep creeping up on me as we walked slowly down into it and lay down facing each other.
"Strip?" he asked.
"Shall we strip?"
"Dunno who's around."
"Nobody'll come here."
"How d'you know?"
And before I knew it he was hauling off his shoes and socks, pulling off his T-shirt and pulling down his rather short, rather wide shorts. The everyday white briefs reminded me of the exotic pair he'd left for me. But to me he looked just as good in these. I lay there as he teased me by pulling them down his belly and back, slowly, tantalisingly, then rolled the cloth down until he was only just technically decent. He pulled the waistband, such as it was, round his middle a little, so it stretched the right hand leg opening, leaving a gap.
And as I watched him, without any effort from either of us, the bulge there increased, and increased, and a pink bullet shaped thing appeared at the opening and looked down his leg before extending itself further into the open air and my wondering gaze.
And then he rolled over, and planted one knee either side of my chest as I lay on my back. Facing me was the cleft of his bottom, fully three inches of it, before it dived into his rolled waistband. And his rounded, muscular buttocks were separated to allow his legs to go either side of me.
I felt a fumbling at my belt, then at my waistband, then at my zip. Then there was a warmth over my underpants, then he was holding me, supporting me, gently kneading my testicles in his left hand. The other one was already exploring under my waistband to release the inevitable erection.
I did what I had never done before, not since the time in the shower when he had said he didn't like it. I took my hands onto his covered buttocks and massaged them gently, gently round and round, and then more and more towards the cleft. I don't know why. Certainly I had no intention of doing that thing that `everyone knows queers do'. All this time he was massaging me, fondling, sometimes masturbating me. And he'd pulled back my foreskin, and I knew as the breeze caressed us that I was already wet with fluid. He shifted forward slightly, and my sensitive glans met his. He carefully rubbed the two together. I shuddered -- not with horror or anything like that but with the delight of being so intimate with him in yet another different way. How could I be even more intimate with him?
I pulled down the rolled waistband of his pants to expose him to the air. Even with his legs either side of my body the ring of muscle was hidden. Not without some discomfort I brought up my head. Grasping the cheeks carefully at either side, more to steer them than anything else, I closed the gap between us. As he felt my warmth behind him he stopped his actions on me, in uncertainty.
I put out my tongue and touched the back of his scrotum, and was rewarded by feeling him shiver. As best I could I lifted each testicle in turn with it, then traced it back over the sensitive plateau. He moaned quietly as I repeated the actions....and again....and again..... And while he had stopped his actions on me, the better to experience this new sensation, I licked my way backwards again......and this time slowly entered the base of his cleft. Again I explored him with my tongue, over the plateau, into the cleft....and again....and again.... I could feel on my exposed, wet glans that his breathing was fast.
And then at last I pulled his cheeks gently, carefully, further apart, and he gave a short, sharp intake of breath. His strong bum muscles tensed, then relaxed further than before. Love welled up in me. I knew he trusted me completely not to hurt or harm him, and was overriding his natural reflex to keep his most secret area hidden.
Summoning more saliva to my mouth to cushion even my soft tongue from his super-sensitive nerves, I brought my tongue back: further and further. His buttocks trembled with the conflict in his mind between the trust of me and the want for me to pleasure him, and the fourteen year old, inborn instinct to cover it up again. His love and trust won, and I softly, carefully, brought my tongue over the strong, sensitive ring of muscle, up and up to the very top of his cleft. As I lifted it off, he sighed, and relaxed again, allowing his buttocks to part even further. And as a reward to me for my persistence he shuffled further back and brought his own tongue to bear on my -- by now -- leaky penis, and lapped off all the fluid on it and around it. Encouraged, I repeated my own special new manoeuvre. This time there was only a flutter of movement from right inside, from the puckered circle. And again and again we stimulated each other like this, me gently on his hidden secret and him with increasingly strong strokes on me, first with his mouth, and at last, just as I thought I had no more fluid to produce, with both hands, one on my scrotum and the other round my erection. I should think he had time for about twenty strokes before I could feel that IT was starting for me. I did all I could to continue what I was doing for him as my body tensed and concentrated on that one, magical, wondrous action.
Like a true soldier -- no...nothing to do with warfare and death in this. Like my true lover, the true lover that he was and is, he accepted all that my body could give him. His mouth held on to me as I subsided. He cleaned me. He gently -- so gently -- replaced my foreskin over the now exceptionally sensitive glans. My head had fallen back to the horizontal. There was nothing more I could do for him for the moment. At last he eased himself off me, brought his head up beside mine, and rolled over to face me. I managed to turn my head and look at him with a small smile.
There was no need of words between us. His look, his Mona Lisa smile said everything I needed to know. There was no look of reproach to tell me that I had violated that final part of him that he wanted to keep secret. There was no look of pain that I had gone too far. There was love, and pleasure, and still more love.
Oh this boy, this man, this boy that I loved, love and will always love. This boy whose body stretched out beside me, scarcely clad in his diminished underwear. Even in my post-orgasm state he was beautiful and I knew that I wanted to give him the pleasure he had given me. And I did, as soon as some vitality returned to my body. His penis went into my hand, and his scrotum into the other. I shifted round to exercise him with my mouth. His legs parted. My tongue once again searched round to the back of his scrotum, as far as I could to the area I had been attending to earlier. And the taste of his fluid in my mouth was sweet, and I knew he was ready for my mouth and my hands.
After a little manipulating and caressing with mouth and hand his body tensed, his testicles rose in their sac up toward the base of the penis, he let out a moan, and the jet of his seed struck hard at the back of my throat. Once, twice, three, four, five....the sixth was diminishing and the seventh felt like just a dribble. But still he twitched in the warm wetness of my mouth. Gradually the testicles returned, then erection started to soften, and the breathing deepened. As he had done for me, I cleaned him, and kissed the now flaccid penis before bringing my head up to look at his sweat-glistening body and flushed, beautiful face. And still the little smile was there.
We lay there, enjoying the peace, the warmth that the dell had kept to itself for us, and that deep affinity there is between us, for a long time. Sleep took us, and left us, and eventually he turned to me again.
"There's an ant crawling up your willy."
Now, if you want to get someone going, that must be the easiest way of doing it. Of course, in my soporific state I reacted and swept the non-existent insect off myself. Whereupon he started laughing his head off.
I reached out for him in mock anger, but he was too quick. This young athletic body, still clad in just underpants, which currently started below the top of his thighs and ended just a short distance down them, was up and had darted away in a moment, fully exposed to the eyes of anyone around. I started after him, forgetting that my own trousers were far more restricting and I couldn't run without some basic adjustments as they, too, were down my thighs. I found him, now stark naked, in a clump of trees.
"Come on what?"
"It's like Amberdale. Come on, strip!"
I looked at him stupidly for a moment, and something in the care-less part of my mind said `why not?' So, just like the fourteen year old I had been, I did so. Dropping everything I had on down where he had dropped his underpants, I joined him, to walk, now unashamedly holding hands with him, through the wood and back toward the road. We were both listening intently for any sounds ahead of us that might indicate people, though. We heard nothing. At last the grey metalled surface of the road could be seen through the trees. I stopped. He looked round.
"Last one across has to stand in the middle of the road." As he finished speaking a car could be heard approaching. We ducked. When it had gone we listened again.
We scampered down toward the surface, but as soon as we were on it we found it was covered in a very sharp gravel that really hurt our feet. With lots of indrawn breath and curses and taking big steps we managed to get to the other side. I was first. I clambered up the other bank, found some cover and sat down. He joined me.
"Yeah," he answered. "Who's silly idea was that?"
"The same idiot who's got to stand in the middle of the road for sixty seconds 'cos he lost."
"Sixty seconds? I never said anything about how long!"
"No. But I did. Come on, don't you accept the challenge?"
"No buts. A minute it is."
"Your rule, not mine. I just add the interest."
He looked at me, then got up. "Who's doing the counting?"
"'Kay. Come on then."
And he scrambled down to the last bit of cover, stopped and listened intently, then sauntered -- if you can saunter when your feet are being perforated -- to the middle of the road. I started counting.
It'd be nice to be able to write about a car that could be heard approaching when I got as far as fifty seconds, so he had to scramble out of sight just as it rounded the bend. But unfortunately it didn't happen. Well no, fortunately, I suppose, because I wouldn't have liked anyone else to see him naked, and for him to feel embarrassed to that extent. We were -- are -- close, so what happens to one, the other one feels too.
What really happened was that I took those sixty seconds to look at his body and physical development from a distance. He really was beautiful. Musculature starting to be prominent on his chest, his flat belly, that soft scattering of hair above his genitals, the good sized penis, now at rest, and the low-hanging, capable testicles that swung to a halt as I watched. Oh....he was -- is -- beautiful. And I just wished that my own body had travelled that far along the rocky road of puberty at fourteen. But then, I had managed to attract two beautiful friends, and the one I knew would be mine for ever was now standing, showing everything that nature had equipped him with, in the middle of a country road on the way home.
I reached sixty, scrambled down to road level, walked calmly (and painfully) across, then told him his minute was over. He gritted his teeth and followed.
Saying little, once we had dug out the odd bits of sharp grit from our toes, we relieved ourselves -- it didn't really matter where, did it? -- and found our clothes. We walked -- clothed -- back down to the road, found my car, and once we were in it he began to giggle.
"I just never imagined that I'd have the nerve to do that. When we were in Canada I often thought back to Amberdale and the islands. At first I just missed them, and you, and all the fun we had, but as I got older I really wondered if I'd ever really done it all, you know, taken everything off like that. I mean, I knew I had, but I couldn't see how I'd made myself strip in front of other people."
"But you're the one who started it all."
"I know....in a way I was, but that was just the two of us."
"But if we hadn't, and if they'd not seen us from the naturist island, they'd never have come over to see us."
"'Spose not. But as I said, as I got older it just seemed like another life, and I knew I'd never have the nerve to strip in public like that again. And today....today I have."
"Yeah, but I'm the only public."
"You know what I mean -- stripping in the open air. And the silly thing was, I enjoyed it."
"You did?" I thought of my own reactions. He was doing it, and he was a potent male; why should I then worry about my own nakedness. And I had had to keep him company. But it hadn't been the innocent, practical nakedness of that original holiday. This had been....what? Exhibitionism? Or a desire to get back to that innocence and happiness we experienced then?
"Do you think we'll be naturists, then?" I asked him.
He looked at me, eyebrows raised. "Dunno. I will if you will. You're not having a holiday without me!"
"I don't mind either way. But if you decide it's something you'd like to do then I'd be happy with it.
"You saying I've got to decide?"
"Well, if you wanted to go, then I'd want to, too."
He looked astonished. "But when we live together I'd have thought you'd decide that sort of thing."
"Five years isn't much."
"Look, when we're twenty and twenty five there'll be no difference between us at all."
"I can't imagine being twenty."
"Well you will be, or you'll have me to reckon with."
"What'll you do?"
"Tickle you until you make it."
"You tickle me enough and I'll probably pee. I'll remember that on my twentieth birthday."
We arrived home, unpacked the car, left all the railway bits untidily in the hallway near the cupboard, and went out for a meal. When we came back he said he was too tired to move it all then and could we leave it until the morning. So we just sat in the lounge, doing nothing apart from listen to music, me sitting at one end of the settee and him stretched along it, head in my lap. I was stroking his hair, and if he'd been a cat he'd have purred.
As well as the music coming from my loudspeakers, my heart was singing too.
And that, really, is where the story ends. Except that it doesn't. I mean, I've been giving little clues all the way through this our story, with the use of the present tense. So yes, he's still with me, and I'm still with him, and that's the way it's going to stay. We're older now, he's turned twenty, and I did tickle him on his birthday, but his bladder control is excellent. So far as our love is concerned I think you've got the general gist of it, and as we're into our present rather than our past it gets a bit too personal to describe in detail as I have been all along. So I'll go back a bit.
His parents were great in not minding his weekly or fortnightly visits to me. They knew that I'd keep him safe and on the straight and narrow -- well, so far as the dangerous things were concerned, like drug taking and crossing the road when not looking, and meeting strange men. Of the delight there was -- is -- between us they were blissfully unaware.
The railway -- the full-sized one -- was kind to us. They introduced a train from his town to mine which started at about 9 p.m. on a Friday and arrived here at about 1 a.m. Peter and Doreen agreed after a long argument that if he could be sure of getting a taxi the other end, and if I let him sleep late in the morning, he could use it. I'd already given him a key, of course. This might seem like little to you, but to him, at fourteen/fifteen, a key to get to his lover was a great responsibility and delight, 1 o'clock in the morning was a great adventure, as were the delights of a night train, the responsibility of a taxi (and the look on the driver's face when approached by a tired young boy and asked to be taken to my flat). The night drivers got used to him eventually. He was once propositioned on the train, but told the man where to get off in no uncertain terms. It alarmed me, though.
But the greatest adventure was always mine. I never knew when he'd be able to come down. There were always so many complications, and increasingly, there was homework. More times than I can count I'd be asleep, and the first I knew of his arrival was a click of my bedroom door, or even the feel of his smooth, naked body slipping into the bed next to me, and snuggling up with a sigh of contentment.
"I was always half scared I'd find someone else in bed with you," he told me later.
"I was always more than half scared you'd fall in love even deeper with somebody of fourteen," I countered. We looked at each other, unsure of what to say next, and simultaneously opened our mouths to speak.
Both families did well at their joint venture, and I was glad that effectively each was able to help the other. Both sets of parents were good friends, and remain so despite living so far apart, which is a necessity of the business. We had another holiday the next year, and again when he was sixteen and waiting for the results of the GCE's. Most of the rest of the time he spent with me, and there were occasionally plaintive requests from one set of parents or the other that their respective sons should spend more time with them. Yes, I got it too. His case was worse though, because they had now moved into a bigger house, one where I could have my own room when I went to visit. Talk about a lead balloon. But he was even more attractive than at fourteen. He'd got a bit taller, but no fatter, and he looked the human equivalent of a young gazelle. He even moved like one, with a natural grace and fluidity that was a real delight to the eye. I loved him even more. Better, he still loved me, despite my broadening out and increasing hairiness around the legs, which he liked, and chest, which he didn't. One day I was told to lie on the bathroom floor, naked, while he, naked, soaped my chest and very carefully razored all the hair from around my breastbone and down to the navel. The rest he left, thank goodness. And I let him? Yes. His love and happiness were more important to me than a few old hairs.
He did well in the GCE's. University was more than on the cards if he carried on that way. He had decided to go into my line of study, and I swear I had nothing to do with that. With his cool common sense I was sure he'd do even better at it than I had. The trouble was that the next two years of really hard study were hell for both of us. The first was my finals year, and was the first year of his A level course. But we knew that, by fair means or foul, we'd get him accepted into my own University.
It came as a shock to us both, that period. He found that he had so much work to do in the weekends that if he came down it was a case of sleep, eat, work, sleep, eat, train home. And when I say sleep, I mean sleep. And I found the same. Especially when dissertation time came round I was ragged, burnt the candle at both ends more times than I care to remember, but had this nagging void inside me that equated to my love being miles away, also ragged and working his socks off.
But there were two memorable nights in all this.
The first was when a group of us had decided to have a break from studying, and one of those silly student parties was happening at the flat. Over the previous two years I made sure that my socialising was done outside weekends, so I could be sure to be alone when he came down. Now when I mention parties, I don't mean orgies, or anything like that, so I never knew the sexuality of any of the people there, whether male or female. Like most of this sort of party it was just starting to think about winding up when to my horror and delight a key turned in the lock. The door opened and a very tired looking, taller, slim and desperately attractive youth stood there, blinking. He was still bemused after his sleep on the long journey, and it was only with a supreme effort he managed to wake up enough to be nice to my friends as I introduced them to him as a friend of mine from home. He hadn't a hope of remembering names, of course, but accepted a beer, and sat on the floor by my legs as I sat on the settee.
As the conversation flagged a bit, I noticed that one of my Uni. friends kept looking over to me, down by my right leg, to look at James. He was unaware of the looks. This guy had stopped adding anything to the conversation at all, and I noticed that he finally gave up all pretence at looking anywhere but at James.
I couldn't say I blamed him. Tired and slightly dishevelled, his eyes were heavy and kept drooping. His hair was untidy -- nothing unusual there -- and he must have looked very small and vulnerable sitting on the floor with his back against the end of the settee. But he was mine, and nobody else was going to get near him! The trouble was I had no idea how to tell the obviously attracted one that he was not available without giving away the whole scene.
Eventually they left, and clattered down the stairs. The attracted one wanted to linger, so I had to say that I was very tired.
"So'm I," he said. "Too tired to walk back, really. I suppose I couldn't sleep on your floor, could I? I mean, James could have the settee and I'd be happy on the floor."
Arghhh....Now get out of that. But James piped up.
"It's no good, I'm afraid. I forgot to bring a sleeping bag with me. And I know he's only got two duvets. So there's be nothing for you to sleep on, or in."
I suppose he reckoned that it was enough of a problem to indicate that he shouldn't push it any further, so, not without some sidelong glances at James, he left.
"It could have been your lucky night," I told him. "He'd probably have made sure you were very comfortable tonight."
"Didn't fancy him," he said with a tired smile. "Besides, it is my lucky night."
"You're here, and we're going to bed. Please?"
That weekend, nothing really sexually new happened, but it was the first time we'd been together for ages, and -- not that night but in the morning and the following night and morning -- things got really intense. And we were both weeping silently as the strain of his departure on the Sunday finally bit.
The second time was when he suddenly appeared in my bed early one Saturday morning after another long absence studying. The next week would see my Finals, which he and his parents knew about, and he had been strongly discouraged from visiting that week. In fact he'd sneaked out of the house that night, having left a note to say he'd probably be back Saturday night rather than Sunday night, but not to worry.
That night proved very intense, too. Much more than the usual kiss and cuddle that was all we usually managed on the first night of his visits as we were always both so tired. This time.... Well. It was intense.
The following morning started early. We each felt the need to go and relieve ourselves, and ended up in the shower together. Once dry, he beckoned me back into the bed. And there it all started again.
What there was in the atmosphere that day I don't know, but something had charged us both up. It was the first time he did for me what I done for him in the open air on our way south with the railway bits. The sensation of his tongue on my own hidden secret, as I knelt attending to his own excited penis, came as a bolt from the blue, and I nearly closed my teeth on his manhood with the shock. As he had got used to relaxing, so did I, and I nearly wept with the depth of love I felt for him as he made me come to orgasm for the first ever time with no massaging of my own penis. And that night, too, we did the same, having each discovered the pleasure it gave to the other, and how close, how personal, how intimate it was to do it. For my turn I managed even to penetrate the ring of muscle with my tongue, so electrified I felt at the time. It mattered nothing to me the real purpose of what I was penetrating. That knowledge was there, but it was him, and it could only be sweet.
When we had each recovered from the intensity of those magical few -- too few -- moments he turned to me and said something which was, to me, incredible.
"When you did that, I felt something I'd never even thought of before." He stopped and gulped a bit, seeming almost as nervous as he had been about revealing his feelings, right at the beginning. "I...I wanted you inside me."
I was stunned.
His visit set me up for my forthcoming exams. I knew that after them he'd be free to stay with me -- parents permitting -- and the knowledge drove me on. Time told that I did well, I'm glad to say. Whether I'd have done as well without him and his encouragement, I don't know.
He had a break then between the two years of his A-level course. I was on a permanent break then until I found a job. Which I did, with no difficulty. These were the seventies, after all. I started work in my University town, knowing that he'd be going to Uni. there himself in a year's time.
Once again it was a good year, with his company on a regular basis. The job I had enabled me to take over the rent of the flat from my parents, who proceeded to put the money I'd saved them toward buying a narrow boat. It also enabled me to spend more on the railway layout, on which we'd spent a good deal of time but not much money. And it came on apace. Both sets of parents visited at times, and were duly impressed. Their visits meant that I had to install a camp bed for him in my room, while they slept in the lounge on an airbed.
The camp bed was for show, and didn't get any serious use.
As his A-levels approached his visits got sparse. And the weekend before I made a decision to go up, spend a night with them, and come back the following day. I made the arrangement with Doreen and Peter, swearing them to silence, and just appeared at their front door in the middle of the Saturday afternoon.
The look on the face of my unshaven, young-looking, eighteen year old little brother when he saw me was heart-stopping. And this time nothing stopped him from rushing up to me and throwing his arms round me. He stopped himself from kissing me, though. The only trouble with that weekend would be that I'd have a room on my own, and as it was more or less impossible for either of us to visit the other without discovery we both found it very frustrating. Until Sunday morning, that is, when Doreen and Peter went to church and left us each asleep -- as they thought. Being in a strange bed I slept lightly and was woken by the front door, looked out, put two and two together and tiptoed, wearing just underpants, to his room.
Eighteen or not, he looked angelic asleep, despite the thin late-adolescent stubble round his face. I pulled off my pants and eased myself into the single bed -- no mean feat as his adult sized body now took it up almost completely. He woke, looked startled for a minute, then the smile appeared on his face and we held each other and kissed.
And, quite swiftly, did a lot of other things. We heard their footsteps approaching in time, though, and I scurried back to my room and got up properly. As did he.
We had another holiday that year, on the canals, but again it was frustrating as we were in bunks, and they're very difficult to get two in especially if the two want to do any moving around. But we managed somehow. And afterwards, of course, he came back to my flat and we spent a week there, exploring.
Yes, and the local area. But we didn't get a lot of time for that.
When I heard that his results were easily good enough to get him into my old University I went wild with delight and relief. He was laughing at the other end of the phone at me, so incoherent with joy I'd become. Because I knew that it was the beginning of the rest of our life together. No more, apart from when Uni. was down, would he need to go home, and that we could cope with.
Mum and Dad eventually announced that there was enough in the kitty for a narrow boat, and three glorious weekends we all six went to visit boatyards to decide on what to buy. It was surprisingly tiring, especially as all four parents descended on James and me as we were nearest and most central, not only to the canals but to the two homes. It was then that James and I decided to sleep upstairs in the railway loft, giving the lounge floor and our own bedroom up to the old ones. At least we were alone, on a double mattress, and could do what we wanted. And we did.
At the end of the third weekend's series of visits we went through the details of all the boats we'd seen, and whittled the choice down to one. And then phoned the boatyard owner, checked it was still available, and told him we'd be buying it. Then it was celebration time, especially as we'd made sure it was a long weekend that time. We all went out for a meal, then continued drinking, and it all got very silly, especially as two of us were students and one was ex-Navy. We went to bed, James and I, ratted and careless about what we said or did or how much noise we made.
I noticed in the morning that Dad looked rather strangely at me.
In the middle of the next week the phone went.
"Can you come home this weekend, Martin?" My father, making a very unusual and rather formal request.
"Well, I can," I said, surprised. "If we leave at nine on Saturday morning we should be there by three."
"We really want to talk to you alone, Martin. Can't you leave James there?"
"Well....I suppose I could, but why?"
"We need to talk to you."
"Why? Is something wrong? Is one of you ill?"
"No...but we need to talk about you. Um.....and James."
My insides seemed to shrivel away from my skeleton. You know the feeling?
"What about James and me?" I asked, hoping my voice wasn't as dry as I thought it had just become.
"I can't do this over the phone....look.... if you really want to bring James with you then bring him."
"Why? I mean, yes, of course I will. If you're talking to me about him it's only fair he's there, isn't it?"
I explained to James when I'd rung off that I thought my parents had an idea what was going on between us. To my surprise he was defiant.
"Well, if they have, so what? They can't do anything to us, can they? I'll have done my finals soon and then it'll be just us."
"But I don't want people to know about us! It's....none of their business. And I don't want my parents to hate me." I was surprised that I'd been able to summarise almost all my fears honestly, even to James.
"And I don't want that either. And I want my parents still to want me to be their son, too. But it won't come to that. I mean, it won't get to be as bad as you think it will."
"I wish I was as sure as you."
When we got to my old home only Dad was there. He seemed very on edge.
"Where's Mum?" I asked suspiciously.
"She'll be back at lunchtime." He sounded, for the first time in my life, unsure of himself. He hummed and hawed, trying to work himself up to something.
"Dad, have a rum," I said, even more on edge than him, if only he knew. My voice was tight with apprehension again and I felt the weight of almost knowing what was coming pressing down on me like a ton of bricks. "I know you're trying to tell us something."
Relieved for anything that would stave off the moment he fiddled about with glasses and the bottle, and poured out three, one for each. That relieved the tension a bit. Once he'd handed ours to us he turned back to the cupboard to tidy up, then turned round abruptly and almost barked it out.
"Please will you tell me if there's anything except friendship between you two."
There was a silence that stretched to an uncomfortable eternity. A silence that was tangible. A silence that gave the answer as succinctly as any form of words. But no father likes to hear that his son is a faggot, gay, queer....well, you know. And that father will always need to be told in words of one syllable if he's to be certain.
I could feel James' eyes boring into me as I looked steadily at the opposite wall. My father was looking out of the window, his eyes hard and his lips set, for once, in a straight line.
"Martin?" said James at last. I turned to look at him. He was looking at me and..... smiling?
"Martin, you know the answer, so far as I'm concerned. Do you want me to tell him?"
Dumbly I nodded. Anything was better than this silence. He cleared his throat. The muscles across my back contracted still further, knowing the crushing blow, the knife-stab that would surely come.
"George......" James' use of my father's christian name still jolted me slightly after all this time, or was it the circumstances that made it so? "George...... oh dear, this is more difficult than I ever imagined." He cleared his throat again. "George: what there is between Martin and me, what has developed over many years, is love. Real love. Love as deep as between the partners in any couple. We have always been friends since we met, and so many times I've tried to put words to what it is that attracts me to him. But there are so many, little, things, all parts of his character, that to name any one of them sounds unconvincing. But there it is. I've met many other people around my own age in Canada, back here in school and University and elsewhere, but nobody comes near Martin."
He paused. If this was an off-the-cuff-speech, I thought, it's marvellous, because it says everything I felt about him apart from the physical attraction. I learnt afterwards that he'd been practising what to say ever since we'd been summoned. Not that that made it any less impressive.
"If that means that we're not what you hoped, or that Martin isn't the son you thought he was, or that you hoped for, then please think some more: he's still the same boy and man as he was a week ago, or a year ago, or ten years ago. Nothing has changed. He's always been the same as you've seen him and as you've known him. Please will you also consider this: if he'd been attracted to his own sex and had nobody, and never had anybody at all in his life who he could genuinely love, then please.....please....." and he stopped to draw breath. "Please think how unhappy that would make him. And please, also think about Mark, who took his life rather than face an attitude and lack of love and an outdated, useless, so-called treatment, that ultimately would have had no effect at all apart from possibly breaking his mind and spirit in the long run anyway." He stopped, and his eyes never left my father's astonished face.
Was this really my nine year old, unofficial, little brother talking? Could he really have gained so much from School and University to enable him to put it all so clearly and logically and humanely? I mean, it affected me, and I was -- am -- his lover and confidante and life's partner.
For ages there was another silence. But a different one. Had there been lines of power between Dad's eyes and James' like in a B-movie I wouldn't really have batted an eyelid. But slowly poor old Dad's eyes moved down to look at the floor. I was ready to rush over to James and hug him. But what Dad said next stopped me in the middle of my triumph.
"And we were so looking forward to having grandchildren."
When Dad and I had finally broken free from our embrace and his eyes had stopped watering, he looked across at James, rather shakily. The boy had been standing, looking at the floor, and biting his lip. He was obviously affected by the whole thing, too. I was saddened by Dad's words, saddened beyond belief, but also just so relieved, both by the fact that the most dreaded interview of my life to date was over, and by the fact that Dad seemed to be on our side. But then, of course, there was Mum, and James's parents. I wondered if I'd have the courage and the intelligence to say to them what James had said to Dad.
We sat down, and for a long time nothing was said. We just sipped at our rum and looked at the floor. At last I looked at Dad and caught him staring at me. I think I must have blushed, and looked away, because he spoke.
"It's all right, Martin. Really it is. After Mark's death I know I did a lot of thinking about attitudes and so on, and I wondered at the time what I'd do or think if you......" He stopped and seemed to have to force himself to go on. ".....if you turned out to be the same way. It took a lot of trying to persuade your Mother that she should even think about the possibility, but I did it, and it took a lot of effort on both our parts to do it really properly, but we made ourselves look at it all dispassionately. I mean, it was mainly for Mark's sake that we did it, because we could see there was absolutely no future in going the way that Dr. Rogers went. No future for the boy, and none for the family either, and even less for the parents' peace of mind. And we gradually worked it round so that we would accept whatever happened.
"What I'm getting round to is that Mum will, I hope, accept it as I did. With regret, because of the grandchildren thing, but she'll still love and accept you as the son you are to us both. So you needn't worry on that score."
"And how about James? How do you both think of him?"
Another long pause.
"I think," said my father slowly, "that if it had been just anybody, someone we didn't know, we would have great problems in being anything else than just polite to him. But James..... I mean, we know him so well, and he's a friend of ours too, and he's a nice bloke.....Well, I'm just glad it's him, that's all."
The grin tried to unzip itself, but couldn't. He looked a bit happier though.
"I do love him, Dad. I really do. It's not something that's a five minute wonder, either. It's been going on for years."
"Looking back, I'm sure it has," he said, rather bitterly I thought. "Did it really go back as far as Amberdale? It can't have, surely. You were only nine, then."
It was the first time he'd actually spoken to James since the bombshell was dropped. His face cleared, but was still serious.
"I thought of him as the brother I never had," he said levelly. "And he was a really good friend. I never forgot him, even through the years in Canada, and when we got together again I knew I was right not to be attracted to anyone else, male or female. But I suppose it was on that Canal holiday that we really...I mean....." He stopped, aware that he had committed himself to telling something that was unwise.
"You were too young," said Dad, flatly.
"No," I put in. "Not too young. Old enough to know himself and to know me. Old enough to want to be with me without any persuasion on my part."
"But too young by law."
"For what? For the sort of actions that queers are meant to do all the time? We still don't. Too young to show love? What is there between him and his parents, then? And what of a boy who loses his parents? Is he too young at fourteen to find a love with two foster parents or adoptive parents? If he is, in the eyes of the law, then there's been an awful lot of falsehoods going on for many years."
"Is it? Dad, please think. The only difference is that with me he wasn't chosen, he chose. He needed no love or care, his parents were there for that. But he wanted, at fourteen, to be with me. And I wanted him to be with me too, but would never persuade him."
There was another long silence, again broken by Dad.
"I'm going to start cooking the vegetables. Want to come with me....both of you?"
I think Mum already knew. When she got back she came into the kitchen and said `Hallo' brightly in the middle of a stream of chat, and by the awkward silence received the only confirmation. She ever got. She looked round at us all, at the sudden changes of expression that had frozen on our faces, and that was it.
"I thought so," she said. "Come here." I crossed to her. "James?"
He looked surprised and rather anxious, but came over as well. To our surprise she put an arm round our shoulders and pulled us close.
"Tell me, both of you: do you love each other really? Or is it just physical attraction and playing sex games?"
James looked rather shocked, but recovered before I could think what to say.
"I love him, really. I loved him as any two boys love each other when we were at Amberdale, but since the canals I've loved him as a life partner."
"And you, Martin?"
"Yes, Mum, I love him. He's always been a friend and for the last so many years we've got to know that we just want each other, no one else."
"Then with all the discussions your father and I have had, and with the talk that you have had with him, I must say that I understand, and love you both, and thank you for being so honest. I can't understand how two men can love each other, or two women, come to that, but it's your decision, both of you."
We fell over ourselves to correct her. I got in first. "It's not a decision, Mum. You don't decide to be happier in the company of your own sex, any more than you decide to fall in love somebody. It's a part of you, like your eye colour. You can't change it. Look what happened to Mark, that should tell you. Just as you are attracted to men, to Dad, so am I. I can't change it. And as I'm in love with James I don't want to."
She smiled at me, a little grimly, I thought. "So it's our fault."
"No! Any more than it's your fault that I'm a different character generally from either of you two, or like different things. It happens. If we were all carbon copies of a mixture of our parents, all brothers would be identical." I was rather proud of that.
"All right," she said. "I accept that too, and in time I'll get used to it." And she gave us both a hug.
Little was said over lunch, but gradually normal conversation crept back, and they were both at pains to include James in it. For his part, despite his speech of the morning, he felt rather put out, I think, for a long time, but slowly as the chat returned to normal the unzipped grin was seen more often.
It was on the walk we all took later, before bed, that another question was asked.
"How public is this?"
"Well, how many people know that you two are `together'?"
I thought. "Well, nobody, really. I mean there was that bloke who came to the flat once. But whether he thought James was just playing hard to get or whether ho got the real message, I don't know."
"So how do you want us to play it when people ask us about you, you know, if you've met anyone, whether you're getting married, that sort of thing?"
James looked surprised. "Can he and I get married somehow?"
"No, James. You can't. Neither by Church or State."
"Anyway, how do you want it played?"
I thought. "I think we'd better wait until it happens, and see who it is. The last thing any of us want is the sort of stupidity that happens sometimes with politicians. I think that for most people, we'd better be good friends who share a flat. If you are certain how others are going to take it, then.....well, I've got no objections to their knowing, if you think it's their business. How about you, James?"
"I'd go along with that. It's not that I don't want people to know. After all, I'm completely happy, and I'm proud that Martin's my friend and that we're together. But if people are going to be objectionable about us, then they shouldn't be given the opportunity."
And that's how it was left.
When we got back, and had enjoyed a nightcap, we climbed the stairs. I half expected Mum to show James to the spare room, or to find a camp bed laid out on the floor of my old room. But no: she'd made up my old double bed, nothing else. The fact wasn't lost on James either.
"I like your Mum," he said.
The following week there was a phone call from Peter and Doreen. I answered it, and Pete's tone was curt to the extreme. I was shocked, surprised. But he'd asked for James, so I covered the mouthpiece and told him.
"He sounds as if he's got it in for me," I said quietly. "All he said was `James, please', so I don't think it's going to be good. Shall I stay or go?"
I handed over the receiver. "Hallo, Dad," he said quietly. Then he said nothing else for ages, but I could hear the receiver squawking non stop. Twice he tried to get a word in, but the voice continued. I watched his face, and had never seen it cloud over to such an extent, so quickly. Then the tears started forming in his eyes until at last he ripped the receiver from his ear and dropped it on the table with a crash. He ran from the room, and I heard the bedroom door slam.
I picked up the receiver gingerly and looked at it for a moment, then sighed as it squawked at me. "James? James? Pick up the bloody receiver. I haven't finished yet."
I put it to my ear. "But James has," I said quietly. "He's in tears because he's just been let down by his father, and it seems that I love him more than his father does."
In the silence that followed I could hear heavy breathing, and could imagine the rage that was happening at the other end of the phone. I was horrified how someone who I knew well and liked could take such an attitude. I was horrified that any father could take such an attitude with his son.
Then the receiver exploded again. "You f.....g queer. You got my son into your bed when he was a child and you infected him with homosexuality. You lecture me about love? You bastard. You f......g bastard. What gives you the right to talk to me like that?" Well, he hadn't put the phone down. For myself, somehow the more he ranted, the cooler I was able to be.
"The fact is, Peter, that homosexuality is not caught like an illness, but is a matter of fact that you are born with, like being left handed. And don't take my word for it, ask a doctor or look in a medical book. A modern one. And the main thing that gives me the right is that he loves me, and I love him, and we have for years, and we're both now adults and can say so. I'm sorry if that makes you mad, but those are the facts. Peter, you're a friend of mine, and the father of James. Please let it remain so. Check out what I've said in any way you like so long as it's with up-to-date facts, and then ring me back. I've got to go and comfort your son who's just burst into tears as if he were still nine, and rushed off into the bedroom. I'm putting the phone down now. Goodbye."
As I did so I heard more sounds start to come from it, but completed the movement anyway.
He was lying on his face, head in the pillow, and sobbing his heart out as if he was still indeed nine. Do I sit next to him and wait? Do I lie by his side and comfort him with my arm? What do I do? Nothing had prepared me for this. Nothing had prepared me for the way Peter, my friend and his father, had reacted. And if I felt lost, betrayed, how must he feel?
I stretched myself out at his side, my body and face toward him, and put an arm over his shoulders. As I touched him he flinched, then relaxed a little. The sobbing decreased a little.
It took a long time. At last a tear stained face was turned to me. I'd known him for nearly ten years now, and never had I seen him looking like that. And as I took him properly into my arms and muttered something, anything to him to calm him, to stop the pain, to make it all right again for my little brother, the anger started deep within me.
Its root was simple. How could a parent spend eighteen years bringing up a child, only to rubbish him when he showed his trust in telling the most difficult truth he'd learnt about himself? What sort of person could do that?
At last he was able to look straight at me again, and even try a shaky smile. The voice, when it came, was high and quavery.
"You're lumbered with me now, Martin. I can't go back home. Don't throw me out. Please?"
And the tears rose to my eyes, displacing the anger like water on a fire. "I promise you that we'll never separate, if you promise me the same."
Five minutes later the phone rang again. I went. It was Dad.
"Thank God, I thought something had happened. You've been engaged for ages."
"Shouldn't have been. I put the phone down all right after the last call. Dad, have you told Peter and Doreen? About us? He's been on the phone and he's gone absolutely mad."
"Yes. That's why I'm phoning. Pete went overboard when I mentioned it. Hadn't you told him?"
"No. We were planning to go up this weekend or next, but hadn't got round to organising it."
"Oh....oh dear. How was he?"
"He reduced James to tears, and he was bloody rude to me."
A silence. "Had I better phone him? He more or less put the phone down on me. Or should I let it wait a while?"
"Probably wait, I should think. I'll talk to James and if we decide differently I'll call you."
"All right, but soon if you can; preferably in the next two days. He's my business partner, don't forget."
"OK Dad...." And we went on to check the health of each other's family and wound up the conversation."
As I hung up A dishevelled James came in, looking worried.
"It was my Dad," I told him. "He mentioned us to Pete, that's why he phoned. He thought we'd told them."
"He'll not phone them again for a couple of days, and hopefully Pete'll be a bit more approachable by then."
We moped about for a bit, and at last I took him to the pub where he got really quite drunk.
In the middle of the night I was woken, and it took me at least 30 seconds to realise the phone was ringing. James was out for the count, so I walked naked into the lounge to answer it.
Doreen. Speaking in a whisper. "Oh Martin. I'm so sorry. Peter's asleep at last, but I've got to talk to James. Is he there, please?"
"Yes, but he's a bit the worse for wear. He was so upset by what Peter said to him that I had to take him out and get him a bit drunk so he could sleep. Doreen, what's got into him? He was really horrible to James and to me, and I never thought he could be like that. What he's done to James I don't know."
"Martin, I can't talk now. Please...I don't think that I think the same way as him, and I still love my son. I just have to tell him so. Please....get him? I don't mind if he's drunk."
So I put the phone down and went into the bedroom. My brother was really fast asleep, but I felt that if Doreen could do something to soften the blow then she should do it as soon as possible. Waking him was difficult in the extreme, and took ages, but at last the eyes managed to focus on me.
"James....." Even in times like this, and certainly at all other times, the shell of homophobia that we'd individually grown wouldn't let us use pet names for each other. The furthest we ever got was to tell each other of our continued love. "James....Doreen's on the phone, and she's on your side. She wants to tell you and talk to you. Peter's asleep, so she's having to whisper."
It got through to him at last and with my arm round his shoulders he stumbled to the phone.
"Mum?" The tears were approaching again, I could hear, but hopefully they were tears of relief now. I could hear nothing of Doreen's side of the conversation, but I could feel James's sobs of relief start to jolt his body like electric shocks. When she had finished her first few sentences he said in a sort of wailing voice that I haven't heard before or since: "But he said such awful things to me!"
Another silence, then he said "yes" a few times, and at last said "thank you, Mum. I love you too. And yes, here's Martin again."
He gave me the handset back.
"Martin....thank you. Ask him what I said, and I'll talk to you both in a day or so. And Martin..." A pause. I waited. "....Look after him for me? Don't let him down?"
"Doreen, I love him as much as he loves me. I'll look after him for us both, but particularly for me, and I'm not leaving him, ever."
"Thank you. Good night, and sleep well."
He was happier in the morning, thank goodness, Although there was still that shadow hanging over us both. When he returned from the campus I was already home from work, as usual. He nuzzled up to me as I was cooking and I was happy to see that Mona Lisa look back -- a rather pale version of it, but it was at least there. I held him for a while, then he went to change and I continued getting the meal ready.
The phone rang. I nearly chopped my finger off, but hurriedly dropped the knife and ran to answer it.
It wasn't the words that Peter used but his tone and manner that suddenly needled me. It sounded as if he was talking to a piece of rubbish that had got stuck to his shoe.
"No. You're not talking to James. Not if you're going to upset him as much as you did last time. And not if you're going to persist in treating me as if I were something dirty that you don't want to consider."
There was a long silence. Then: "I really don't want to talk to you after what you've done to my son."
"I have done nothing to your son apart from fall in love with him as he has with me. If I were female you wouldn't take this attitude, but if I were female James wouldn't be interested in me."
"Only because you seduced him when he was nine."
"Have you really not even taken the trouble to look up anything about homosexuality as I suggested you should? It's your son you owe it to, not to me, to find out what the background to all this is. If you can get to know the facts then you might start to understand. Understand what it is to go through your boyhood and youth worrying why you can't seem to meet a girl you find attractive. Worrying why your friends all seem to have affairs and you don't. Wondering if they look at other boys as you always want to. And then worrying, once you've finally realised you're homosexual, that someone will notice, that you'll do something that will make people round you laugh at you for being gay, and start giving you a hard time for it and calling you names."
There was another silence.
"James has never gone through anything like that. We'd have known."
"Would you? Would you really? When now that you do know you haven't even got the time or patience to find out the scientific or medical background to it? Do you know that your son visited reference libraries when he was about thirteen just to look up in medical and psychology books just what homosexuality was, how you became homosexual and whether it was `curable'? Did you know that? No. Well, he did, because he told me when we were on the canals. And did you also know about a friend I made at Amberdale who was the son of a doctor? His father found out he was gay and forced him to have aversion therapy. You know? When they show you pictures of naked men and if you react to them you get an electric shock? Did you know that?"
I gulped. Despite James, the memory was still agonising.
"And do you know what happened to that happy, friendly, well adjusted boy? He was so sick that he had done nothing wrong and was being punished, and so sick that he had, in his eyes, let his family down, that he couldn't go on. And do you know what he did?"
I was becoming incoherent by this stage, and had to calm down before I could go on.
"He took his own life by using painkillers and alcohol."
This time the silence on my part was deliberate.
"He was my first ever love. Real, physical love, not the brother-love I felt for James at the time. And I was due to spend time alone with him and really get to know him. And they stopped him doing that, and then it was too late because he'd killed himself. And now that James and I are in love I swear to you and to him that nothing, nothing is going to force us apart, let alone make him think that he's any less than the happy, natural, loving, attractive, beautiful, wonderful, character that he's always been. And even more than that, nothing in this world is going to make him want to kill himself. I'd rather kill myself first. And if all that means that I've got to stand up to his father then I'll do it. Because I'm not going to run the risk of losing the second and last love in my life to ignorance, intolerance and hate. And I'll tell him that, too."
"You won't have to," said a quiet voice behind me. "I know."
I wheeled round. I'd never heard him come into the room.
"Had I better talk to him? It is Dad, isn't it?"
I nodded dumbly and tried to remember what I'd said that might not have been tactful to say with him listening. He took the receiver.
"Dad? Are you there?"
"Dad! Dad? Say something, please."
More silence, then I could tell he was listening. What Peter said didn't take long, but this time when he put down the phone he had a non-committal expression on his face.
"What did he say?" I asked simply.
He hesitated. "I think......I think he may be coming round. I'm not sure, but he said that he never realised that there was actual love between us. All that you said really made him sit up, I think."
He was looking at me thoughtfully.
"Did you really mean it?" he asked rather abruptly.
"James....you, who know me so well, have to ask a question like that! Yes, of course I meant it. What makes you even think of doubting it?"
"And what would have happened if Mark hadn't died?"
"I....I don't know. We were only really just getting to know each other. I mean, we'd had fun, and were physically attracted to each other, but I suppose....no, I'm sure now....that I never knew him as well as I knew you even then."
This was odd. It was perfectly true, but I'd never really thought about it before. Mark had just been an ache in my past, one that I was aware of but had never really cured, not even with James being there. It was a matter of principle to me, I suppose.
"So if you'd got to know him better, would you have ignored me?"
Oh god. What do I say to that? I thought hard and tried to avoid the panic of where this conversation might lead.
"I can't tell. Honestly, I can't tell. You'd gone off to Canada, which meant the end of the earth to me; something you learnt about in Geography and never dreamed of going to. You certainly never dreamed it might be possible to find anybody who'd just gone to live there. What if you'd found someone else over there? Surely what matters is that you're here, I'm here, and neither of us wishes there could be somebody different in their lives?"
And then the smile unzipped a bit, the first time for two days.
"Thank you," he said. "I do love you."
Peter did `come round' eventually, and it was my outburst that did it. He checked up with friends and doctors and others and got a great deal of conflicting information as had his son all those years previously. But he sifted his way through it all and came to the conclusion that I was right. He's never apologised for his initial outburst though, and although I've written that off to the heat of the moment he's never going to be the same friend as he was before. Doreen's great, on the other hand, and is really on our side and friendly, as are my own parents.
We went down together to Mark's memorial stone recently, the two of us. It was something I just felt would close off the chapter, show respect, try to show forgiveness, and give a message to anyone who would read it. As we stood in silence, looking down at the simple stone with its agonised, simple message, the tears rolled down my face once more. But this time they were tears at the appalling waste of a life, and the manner of its passing. I covered the words with my hand for a moment as a gesture of companionship and compassion, and was pleased when James did the same.
11 July 1951 -- 29 August 1966
Beloved son of Alice and Gordon Rogers,
brother of Ralph and Rose.
Whose life was lovely and whose death tragedy
We stood again, then I bent and placed at its back the plastic covered note I had composed after much thought and discussion with James:
"For Mark. You were more than a friend to me. I learnt so much from you. I learnt that love was love, wherever it's found, if it's sincere. I learnt happiness. I learnt to love the wild wind as well as the warm sun in the company of that love and happiness. I learnt at last to be true to myself. And at last I found another love, an even stronger love, a love that, with the strength of your love and friendship behind me I can confess to all.
Thank you for all you were. Thank you for all you did. Your life was not in vain for you have shown others that tolerance and understanding and learning are all a part of love. You will never be forgotten.
May deep peace be with you. Our love goes with you.
We stood in silence for a few more minutes. Then something inside me told me that the gift of my farewell had been accepted, and that it was time to go.
"Let's go home. And thank you for coming with me. I love you deeply."
He looked at me, and there were still tears in his eyes, but the smile unzipped a little way.
"You've never said that before. I've felt it, but you've never said it. If I said the same to you now it'd sound as if I was just returning the thought, but it's true all the same. I do love you and I can't think of a time when I haven't, even as far back as Amberdale. And now I can't imagine life without you and I don't want to start trying. "
To the amazement of two workmen on the other side of the cemetery he kissed me.
"Shall we have a pint to toast Mark?" he suggested.
I agreed. We did. And it was while we were talking about Amberdale and our time there that we made two decisions.
We travel down to our old haunts next week. There's a sailing dinghy booked and waiting for us. As to the book........
I hope you enjoyed this and that it's made you think as well as making sure that certain bits of you enlarge from time to time. If you think it's not plausible, please tell me where you think I've gone wrong. If you've enjoyed it, good. Please also tell me. Either way I'm vain enough to want to know. Unless it all goes mad, all messages will be replied to unless they're non-constructive criticism. The address? Backwoodsman@MailandNews.com
And finally.... My sincere thanks to Johnie who first put out the beginnings of the story on his wonderful site at http://www.xs4all.nl/~johnie/ which is so full of beauty and common sense. He was good enough to do so `blind', since neither he nor I knew how the book was going to finish when I sent the first chapters to him. Thank you for trusting me, my friend.