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 16: Questions

As soon as his exams were over, Garth got even more into cricket and started to find some form, so I wasn’t surprised when I got home from Bermagui just in time to catch the last of the first day’s senior play to find him in the seconds. The unavailability of some regulars for early January games always causes a bit of movement between grades. That evening we hung around the club for a while when I would have expected to be out cruising, but once it was obvious that the crowd was so small that they would let the daily awards slip, his mind seemed to make a quick switch and he rounded up Brice, whose by then very steady girl was still away, Hayden and me and we headed off to learn from my coach that the frustrations of waiting for results over the past few weeks had led him to revisit his past a bit more, although he hoped getting back into cricket would help him regain the resolve that had got him through the last of school.

After dropping the others, I made it clear I expected to spend the night at his “holiday house” but he would not consider changing our rules and disappointed me further by revealing that he only had a few more days there, as his old teacher’s mother had to come to Sydney for surgery and recuperation and she would be back mid-week. Right through a largely unexceptional Bermagui fortnight, I had more and more focused on the prospect of really developing things with Garth during the rest of the holidays. My frustrations were further compounded by the fact that I had finished up regularly sleeping over with a pubescent kid in his tent in preference to always tripping over mum in our van. While the kid was a oncer from interstate and far from my kind of day time company, being into rock formations and tide pools, every night as soon as we were in bed we shared, but never discussed, a long session of pretty intense hugging, kissing and mutual masturbation, which made me even more frustrated at being “dumped” at home late on Saturday night.

And of course I was round there and into Garth’s bed the next morning, well before he would have thought of getting up, and pressed onwards from where I had got up to in Bermagui without any thought as to whether my then icon of mature masculinity was ready for it. He did not actively resist but only marginally responded until I finally cooled off a bit and he got me started talking about it. Over our couple of remaining mornings of opportunity, I was finally able, but far from keen, to learn that Garth was being torn as much by what we were doing as he was being healed by the real love then in our relationship. By the day he had to shift out, we had regained most of the magic that we had discovered at the start of the season, while I made it clear that I would remain more than open to our friendship developing in other ways.

Having nowhere I would have preferred to be, I headed around to the cricket club well before the start of the second Saturday’s play. Our seconds were to bowl and as they were wandering their way onto the field, Garth shoved their scorebook in my face and told me to make myself useful. A few minutes after the start, a young woman with a couple of girls who were either side of starting school turned up with a fold out chair and parked herself next to my end of the scorers’ table. After she had looked at the scores a couple of times and satisfied herself that her daughters were able to play happily without getting into any trouble, she introduced herself: “I’m Rhonda Andrews. My husband Graham, who is fielding at slip, and I have just returned to Sydney from a three year overseas posting and he was thrilled that there were still so many familiar faces around his old club, but I don’t think we know you.” I had seen his name on some of the honour boards and photos in our rooms, but it had been just before my time: “I’m Blake Dawson. I’m captain of our Under 12s and Garth Delaney who is at point is our coach, so I came down to watch and he dumped me with the scorebook.” “Well I came down expecting to have to score, but you are doing such a good job I will be more than happy if you stick with it, and I can make sure drinks and afternoon tea are under control.” Flicking back to last weeks score, I saw that Andrews had got a ton and wondered why they hadn’t put him straight in the ones. “He could only get down here as training was finishing, so wasn’t sure what his form would be like coming straight out of an English winter, and apparently the firsts had just about a full list.” We found plenty for my eager mind to soak up during that warm afternoon. After tea she gave me a half hour break from scoring to have a piss and stretch my legs, during which I volunteered to take the two girls around to the playground, a move which won me three instant fans.

Our Under 12 team resumed with one of our infrequent wins and I hung around at the club across lunchtime intending to head across to the thirds during the afternoon. Garth’s promotion had been short lived as more players returned, and he dropped back to rejoin Hayden and Brice who had managed to hold onto their spots. Our senior team lost the toss and were asked to bowl. As they were taking the field, Graham Andrews noticed that their scorebook had been left unattended and called me over: “Rhonda said you did a good job last week, so what about you do this for us?” The afternoon ran as an almost exact repeat of the week before, except that at the end of the day when the skipper came over to check the score with the umpires, he slipped me a ten dollar note: “Thanks for doing such a good job. I’d be more than happy if you could take it on regularly.” I said I’d think about, and during our usual Saturday night cruise, Garth and Hayden told me I’d be stupid not to go for it, so I called around at senior training on the Tuesday and told the skipper that I would be happy to do it if the offer was still open. A couple of weeks later, mum asked how I had managed without getting money from her to cover ball fees and something to eat on the intervening Saturdays and seemed more than pleased with my answer.

Garth was having a few ups and downs which I had become particularly sensitive to, although he never allowed them to interfere with his commitments to our team nor to playing out the season. At first he was on a high when his marks got him into his first choice course, but then when school went back weeks before uni started, he found it too hard to resist picking up a bit of easy money from the ever present demand for what he could supply and paid his dues with a few hard nights partying. But as the day to start uni came closer, he was again able to get it back under control.

The second Monday after school resumed, Mr Harris again listened out my retelling of another loss, but one in which I, and I am sure my team mates, knew we had done our best. My weekly visits had become a bit of a sounding board for me to explore ideas about what more we could do with the team and by that stage Mr Harris must have felt he knew them as well as I did, and became increasingly willing to offer suggestions. But on that night he quickly agreed that we were doing as well as we could, then asked me to tell him a bit about Garth.

I started with what were the important things to me—that he was doing all aspects of the job very conscientiously and that he and I had become close enough that I could see that it was most unlikely he would be willing to take on a similar commitment again. Mr Harris then said that a couple of people had mentioned quietly to him that they did not think Garth was a good role model for eleven year old boys, which got me angry enough to suggest that those people should have been there to put their hands up at the start of the season when nobody else gave a damn about us. He gave me the time to calm a little without jumping to defend what he had said, nor his informants, and my mind gradually saw the positives in him being prepared to raise it directly and privately with me, as those people probably also saw me as the one most at risk.

I also felt confident from the three years I had haunted his sports store that I could tell Mr Harris anything I needed to in complete confidence, so I did: “I made him explain to me all about his drug dealing and I know he has been back into it a bit more since school resumed. For him it is just an easy source of party money serving a tiny fraction of the endless demand, and he keeps it all totally separate from anything to do with young kids. He will get through the season ok and I would personally kill anybody who did anything to disrupt things now. Look, the only reason I know anything is that I was warned about it myself when I first started hanging out with him, and if I hadn’t done that we would not have had any coach at all. The only reason I know so much is that I am a sticky nose and he was not prepared to lie to me when I pushed. And for a kid himself who had only played a few seasons of junior cricket, he has done a damn good job umpiring our matches, and teaching us, and organising things.” I finally ran out. He gave me a minute to unwind while he gathered his thoughts: “Thanks, Blake. You have certainly made yourself the first person I would want on my side in a fight. I will make sure that your wishes are respected.” “I really expect a bit more than that. Even though we both know it probably will not be successful in the long term, the club should be big enough to try to keep him involved in some capacity. There is no doubt that his involvement in cricket has gone closer to straightening him out than anything else in his life.”

Instead of replying to me, he picked up his phone: “Hello, Elaine ... You guessed in one.... Yes, he’s talking my ear off as usual. ... No no no, I asked for it. ... Well I just appreciate his interest so much that I wondered if I could take the two of you out for dinner tonight? ... It’ll take half an hour to pack up here and get round to pick you up, so we should be early enough for him to be able to get up for school in the morning.” Hanging up, he immediately answered my unasked question: “I’m certainly have not said, and am not going to say, anything to your mother about Garth. Your relationship with each of them is your business.” I was more than proud of myself right through a most enjoyable evening which we let drag on quite a bit later than originally suggested. But before I could get to sleep I had to promise myself that I would never again push Garth for sex although I would continue to leave the door open.

The season wound out without any surprises. Our team organised a really nice plaque with a team photo inset and all our names engraved as a thank you to Garth. He said quietly to me that he would really have liked to have been able to give me a big hug and kiss when I presented it to him. Finally starting university had got his spirits up and relatively stable for quite a while. The week after presentations, Hayden did not object to being dropped home a bit earlier from our regular Saturday night out which was by then only a rather pointless habit for him because he had nothing better to do. Garth then took me on a bit longer cruise during which, on a quiet stretch, he put his hand on my thigh and gave it a gentle squeeze. With his hands back on the wheel, I returned the gesture then moved my hand to his crotch and gave it a bit of a rub. We did not take things any further that night, but built on it gradually over the couple of weeks until the night he shifted back into his “holiday house”. Having me come in the front way at night was still unacceptable, but he made sure I knew I would be more than welcome in the morning. And over the fortnight we progressed unhurriedly to enjoying head jobs and getting off between each other’s thighs.