by Blake Dawson* <>

From the Preface to Chapter 1:

If you like to read this kind of story but are concerned about possible legal implications, work to change the law! If you don’t, why are you here?

*Blake Dawson is the person the otherwise anonymous author would be if “trading places” became magically possible.

Chapter 12: Cruising

Just as I had expected, Hayden going to high school soon expanded his contacts into older age groups, and my contacts equally as I was always tagging along with him. Even before our cricket finals, he was full of Brice Williams, a first year Under 16 who had clearly noted how much more authority Hayden had been given as captain in Under 12s than Walshie had given him the season before in Under 14s. Brice was clearly setting himself to be able to be a proper captain of Under 16s the next season and used our finals to pick up some tips and drop some strong hints to the club hierarchy.

The Saturday after school went back for second term, Hayden called around late in the afternoon and asked if I had anything on for the evening, and I got mum’s clearance to go out with Hayden without questions of where or who with even coming up. As we wandered up the street, he confided that his parents only knew that he was coming around to my place, but, as they had never shown any sign of checking on him on any of his previous visits, he felt he was safe in not telling them what he had arranged with Brice for us for the rest of the evening.

We soon found ourselves at a local strip shopping centre which had previously been outside my normal circuit, where we found Brice sitting in the passenger seat of a car with P plates alongside its youngish looking driver. I was introduced to Garth Delaney who I learnt was a neighbour of Brice’s who had no doubt contributed to Brice’s development as a cricketer through a lot of practice in the street since they had been a lot younger. Garth himself had been a handy junior player but had not made the transition to seniors, an area where Brice had already gone past him, although he was still a little pissed at having missed selection for the thirds finals, having filled in for them for much of the season.

If he had not been just about the last year 12 student at his school to reach driving age, Garth would probably have had a few of his class mates keen to join him for a bit of Saturday night cruising, but the novelty had already worn off for them, and Brice was about the only person he knew who thought that prospect cool. Hayden and I immediately added ourselves to that list and I made it clear that I wasn’t planning on growing out of it for quite a while. We thoroughly knocked down any potential barriers on that first night, and after the second week in a row went equally happily, I had no hesitation in bringing mum into where I had been with Hayden on those nights as well as explaining that I did not think Hades’ parents either knew or cared.

Garth was a naturally cautious driver, so our cruising territory expanded only slowly, initially staying along the eastern beaches from Watson’s Bay to La Peruse and keeping safely east of the city. It took me a while to convince him to go as far in as Oxford Street and Kings Cross, where I was able to point out a few of the attractions that Uncle Bruce had acquainted me with the previous winter, and where Garth managed to identify a few clubs he had been able to get into on a Friday night with fake ID.

Over those first few weeks, I also started to gain an impression that the one thing that was starting to concern mum about my rapidly expanding horizons was that I was a bit too interested in boys and too little interested in girls for her liking. For other boys not quite into double figures, such an issue is just about the last thing anybody would even think about, but mum obviously read enough into the intensity of my relationships that she felt, correctly, that my likely orientation might already be beginning to show. It was all a very subtle game, involving her choice of shows to watch on TV and questions about my cruising partners. I was able to assure her that Brice was only filling in time with us until he found some girl who would go out with him on Saturday nights, while Garth tended to restrict his female contacts to one night stands picked up at Friday night rages.

I also knew that the year of Hayden and Felicity French being at different schools was a bit of a dampener for both of them, and managed to twist my mind far enough to come up with a scheme to put mum’s mind to rest about me, at least until I would be more ready to deal with the issue head on. I had already organised to mark my birthday by Hayden staying over after our usual Saturday night cruising and then us meeting up with all of our premiership teammates for a day out which the late autumn weather was kind enough to let us make back at the beach near the Vanders where of course Robbie joined us as my other special friend. Although it was never planned that way, it was also the last time ever our whole team got together.

But I made no mention of my actual birthday and did my usual clearing with mum as to what time she would be getting home, saying I expected to be home just about straight from school in the sure knowledge that she would change her mind during the day and turn up a lot earlier than she had told me. I had been relaying stranger and stranger messages from Felicity to Hayden all year as well as his more and more bland replies, and I figured she was ripe to be bribed into almost anything to gain more than the normal 30 seconds of his mind the next Saturday night. So I explained that I really needed to get sprung with a girl just to put an end to mum worrying about me growing up gay or something. Lickety already knew my mum well enough to have no worries about anything being said to her parents, no matter what mum found us doing, but was still intrigued with my suggestion that a sixty-nine with her on top and my head on the end of the couch nearest the door would appear even more explicitly convincing than your standard fuck. It was also a much easier position to move into quickly when we heard mum’s car in the drive, especially as we obviously needed to sit around naked and playing half-heartedly with each other for an indeterminate amount of time beforehand. That part actually turned out more fun than either of us had anticipated and was giving me plenty to grab Hades’ ear with on the Saturday night, to the point where I had not realised that Felicity had not been able to expunge her nervousness about the actual moment of discovery. However, we had also agreed that we were going to continue to completion after mum walked in on us, no matter what, but I had not counted on how quickly the tension of that moment would bring her on or how the surprising pain of a severely crushed tongue would do likewise for me. We went through all the motions of being apologetic and demanding assurances of no consequences, until I insisted I needed a piss before I could walk Felicity home and mum took the opportunity, as they both soon told me, to inform Felicity that it had really taken a load off her mind. But it took another four years to the day for me to tell Walshie that episode of me and white lies.

Our first Saturday night escape from the narrowly defined eastern suburbs took us past the airport and down the shore of Botany Bay, with navigation helped by my memories of trips to Bermagui, before Garth decided he was so far outside familiar territory that we had to turn around and go back. Explorations further and further that direction became one of three tracks out we tended to swap between and eventually made us familiar with a few take aways in downtown Wollongong while we searched for better routes from the M5 back past the airport as we experimented with return legs through Heathcote and even Campbelltown. Having made it to the Cross, it was only a simple step to pick up the eastern approaches to the Harbour Tunnel and Bridge, from which we gradually explored the north shore, the northern beaches and even the Newcastle Freeway as far as Gosford on a couple of trips. But it took a bit longer to venture into the city proper with its maze of one way streets and beyond to what we then inaccurately thought of as the wild west of Newtown, Glebe and Balmain. We once even made it to Parramatta but found nothing open when we got there, so did not bother again. So the loop back over Gladesville Bridge to avoid the two dollar toll on the main harbour crossings became as far as we were generally prepared to venture west.

However, it was our last leg home which became more of a focal point for my mind than all the cruising of much of Sydney that I only came to value much later as my own independent travels widened. And on that last leg, I began to scheme ways to get the drop off order changed so that I might finally have a chance to be one on one with Garth. Our normal route back from almost anywhere took us past the end of the street Garth and Brice lived in before we went on almost past Hayden’s to drop me first before they doubled back. Brice often pointed out his house, one from the corner, on the way past, and I worked out that if we actually drove down their street we could get onto another route that would get us to my place without going via Hayden’s, from where they could take their familiar route back. So I persuaded Garth to show us his house on one trip home and proceeded to show them my alternate loop. Brice played into my hands the next week by asking to be dropped off as we passed his place, at which point Hades jumped into the front seat and I made it clear that the next time that happened, that we should just drop Brice at the corner then do the loop the other way round so Garth would not have to double back—and so I would be last out—and get my few minutes in the front.

During that week, Hayden turned up to have a talk with me about Garth. Hades knew I was controlling things and Garth was anything but insensitive to my interest in him, but felt I needed to know that Garth had a sideline supplying drugs to some of the senior students at the local high school, including Hayden’s big sister which was how he knew about it. He knew Brice wasn’t into it and was actually trying to get his older friend out of it, but with no success, and he was confident Garth was neither hooked himself nor likely to push them on younger kids, although he sometimes used younger brothers or sisters to do his deliveries. I just did not see it directly effecting me: “Look my lover and protector, I’ve already made up my mind that I am never going to have any need for tobacco or alcohol, let alone that other stuff, so even if we are both wrong and he did try to get me to start it would not work. I’m more than happy to promise you now and forever that I will never touch any of them.” “Well cigarettes are awful. A couple of puffs was enough to convince me I never wanted to touch them again, and they don’t go with sport. And I’m equally happy to promise you that I will never touch drugs, but I really don’t want to make my mind up about alcohol just yet.” “Well as long as you promise you’ll never come home to me drunk,” I teasingly explored our boundaries. “I haven’t really come to think of you as the person I will be ‘coming home to’,” I put on the most horrified look I could muster, “but that doesn’t mean I won’t always love you.” I wasn’t about to let him off that lightly: “I at least hoped we might get to share a flat for a while before we worked out what we wanted to do with the rest of our lives.” “Well, you’re way ahead of me there. I don’t suppose that would be such a bad idea, but even that is still a long way in the future.” And he did concede that now that I was forewarned that he would not get in the way of me being last dropped off on any night that Brice bailed early.