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 21: Warren

Amongst my trials of sixth grade, shifting house ranked as a minor nuisance, mainly because the move was further up market than up the street. We didn’t even need a new phone number, although we added an extra line to serve our growing business. However my mood of the time didn’t endear much at all to me and I quickly found all manner of details to nit pick, to the point that I was quite surprised how comfortable it suddenly seemed when I started to settle back in to our new place after the extended orgy of Bermagui.

One big plus that my head knew about but my heart had previously ignored, was that the logical route for me to take to my new secondary school took me past Hayden’s so I could pick him up on the way and back. The lazy sod had let his mother chauffeur him for his first two years in secondary but I had determined to put a stop to that, in part because I saw him as my entree to the older kids with whom I was sure I would soon be spending most of my time.

Considering the other adventures of my life, the affairs that developed out of the trek home from school were like a test match compared to a one day international—they were both slow to unfold and followed a path which twisted and turned not just due to the route that evolved but also the relationships that developed. And once the team that departed from school together got sorted out it became harder to break into it than get out of it. Hayden and I were the tail enders—living furthest from school of those who walked in our direction. The second last man out—I counted myself “not out” after dropping off or dropping in with Hayden—was in year twelve, one Warren Alexander, who was just the kind of reliable but unspectacular performer in the lower middle order needed to hold the tail together.

At first we two youngsters split from Warren at a corner not far after our route passed the door of Natalie Morgan, a fresh faced girl in year ten. It didn’t take me long to work out a detour past Warren’s that would have got us to Hayden’s just as quickly if we had ever managed to keep walking at that point. As it turned out, our very first day on the detour was a stinker and Warren invited us in for a cool drink which even raised my eyebrows in awareness of the status differential assumed from the three and five year differences in our ages and school classes. And I was even less prepared for how comfortably he was set up. The Alexander house didn’t look that much different from any of the other well established houses in the area, but some extensive additions and renovations had been squeezed inconspicuously into what was certainly a bigger than average block. It was obvious from the family photos that Warren was the youngest of a well spaced family, the other members of which had all established their own lives, leaving him with oodles of space and virtual independence from his ever busy parents. The only off-beat note was provided by their then eight month old German Shepherd, Buster, who has turned out to have a place in my life just as important as his unhurried master. Having a pet of any kind wasn’t something that mum or I have ever raised, but I had become pretty good with other people’s pets, even in my dark final primary year.

The stop at Warren’s soon ceased depending on the weather. My play with Buster got more and more boisterous while Hayden and Warren just sat around trying to be as cool as their surroundings. I didn’t think appearing cool was a real option for either of them as they both radiated ordinariness in a way I could still see alongside my ever passionate love for Hayden and my increasingly erotic fantasies about Warren.

Meanwhile my final season of Under 12 cricket was playing itself out. Bermagui had expunged my manipulative approach to the players who had been under me but were now teammates in my mind—although I’m not sure that one or two of them ever came to notice the change after I had so totally pissed off their fragile egos in the spring. The one thing nobody could argue about was that I had rediscovered the touch which had deserted me for almost the whole of the previous year. Sean’s presence in the side gave me an extra pair of eyes and ears, particularly when it came to picking up on the wants, moods and wanderings of both our players and our opposition’s. I didn’t mind it being clear to all that he was a special friend, particularly as he made it easy for me not to give him any special favours within the team environment.

We had had the basis of a competitive side all season in the top division, but it took my return to form and an improving general mood for our team to sneak into the top four and pick up a surprise semi-final victory over one of the top two teams for the season. I managed to persuade Warren to come along and watch our grand final. He admitted to having played a couple of junior seasons before dropping out, and I had already come to the opinion that either playing or helping out around the club might help get him off his arse a bit, although that particular plan is yet to bare fruit. I prewarned Sean to keep his eyes off Warren with the promise that the time would come for them to meet, because the test match I was playing after school was only just past the first drinks break. Holding up play for a dog on the field is not quite the done thing in grand finals, but shit happens and it certainly taught Warren that Buster was already smart enough to pick out my bowling action in the middle of a cricket field. Our team played about as well as we could, but the other team had too many good players and we were content to settle for being good losers.

Warren gradually accustomed to my physicality and I was careful to direct most of it at Hayden who had no difficulty appearing acceptingly indifferent. One afternoon I momentarily managed to get Hayden face down on my back on a couch and moved my body so as to appear to fake him screwing my buttocks, albeit fully clothed. Warren clearly got the joke, but didn’t pursue it. Another day, Hayden and I together found an excuse to sit back to back on Warren’s torso, me pinning his arms and Hayden his legs, and, while Buster was trying to pull Hayden off, I planted a quick kiss on Warren’s forehead to which he showed no reaction. Our stops at Warren’s were generally well under an hour—often only minutes when we had cricket training or something else on after school. Hayden was expected home early on Fridays and a week after he had accidentally overstayed, I took the excuse to stay on at Warren’s while Hayden made the last leg home alone. That afternoon became the first real break through in our test match, but not quite the one I was looking for.

For the first time, Warren and I had a one on one conversation which he steered to my relationship with Hayden. I found myself comfortable telling him about it as he showed a warm interest at complete odds with his familiar forced coolness. As I got to a logical break point, he suggested that we should take Buster for a run in a local park that could be reached through a lane at his back gate—a spot Buster obviously already knew well—and then established that Buster would happily stay and play there just with me after Warren went back to his house. When the nearly grown pup and I got back after the arranged few minutes of separation, Warren explained that he would very much like me to take Buster to the little park on Tuesday afternoons when Hayden had a bit more time so he could see where he could get with the two of them alone. He swore me to secrecy with a conspiratorial hug and kiss, suggesting it was time I should be going. And I went, certain this wasn’t to be a one day final.