Green Room II
On Monday, storm surf was running, with just a few guys out. Graham was busy with school rugger. In any case, I doubted he would risk tackling that wild surf, with waves about 5 feet and powerful. It was a helluva hard paddle to get through those tons of rising and rushing water, even for a surf hero like me. Hahahaha! Despite duck diving to avoid their ferocious power, they continued to nail me and force me back a few meters at regular intervals. But what a bitching session!
As I walked home, my shoulders were pumped and my arms threatened to detach themselves at any second. My back muscles and shoulder blades were incredibly tight so instead of a shower I took a long, soaking bath and relaxed in some of my mom's herbal aromatherapy goodies.
Things with my dad are better. He asks about school and studies, and offers to help with homework if I need a hand. It's been a total turnaround for him, which causes me to see him with new eyes lately. He's no longer the old guy--a total stranger. Now, he seems to appear younger--perhaps due to his beating me up in the ring. Hahahaha!
Hey, G, he doesn't always get his own way with me in the gym. The other day we sparred and I forced myself to stop because we became so aggro. His punches began to hurt, and everyone knows I'm a chickenshit in the pain department. He now insists that both of us wear headgear. I think maybe my punches hurt. Hahahaha! Just a little bit. THANKS BRETT!
I wrote G again in a couple of days after I received his replies. I wasn't sure what to write anymore. I'd been on such a natural high that week. Graham's birthday was Thursday.
The grommet arrived before I had the chance to print a birthday card on the comp. My mom had a program called American Greeting Cards, which I planned to use. It allowed the placement of a trademark on the back, like a personal stamp. But the grommet arrived before I did any of that, and wore the wristband I gave him.
"Happy birthday, grommet mate," I said as I answered the front door. It was so good and uplifting to see his wonderful face, smiling its toothy greeting. That little guy has wicked teeth. They sparkle and always add something special to his winning grin.
"Thanks, man," he said. "Can I come in for a sec and steal some orange juice?" Before I had a chance to invite him inside, he bounced through to the kitchen where he was already pouring a glass of juice by the time I arrived.
He's a mature little grommet, G, with a tight bod that's solid as a rock. He's also grown his mop of black hair a little longer. He's beautiful.
He swallowed a mouthful of juice, then said in his young teen voice, "I just wanted to say thanks for the wristband, Stuart. It rules."
"Hey, mate, it was ace to make it for you. Now you got yourself a genuine surf culcha wristy. So, are you having a good birthday or what?"
"Pretty cool. Got money from family and friends and stuff, so I'm gonna buy a CD and save the rest. Got clothes from my folks and a pair of new boardies." He took another sip of juice, and changed his expression to serious. "Can I ask you about the other night?"
My heart sank like a stone. I dreaded the worst but, somehow, managed to remain calm. "Sure, mate, go ahead."
"Kyle and I used to do that, and it was always cool. And it felt good. The other night with you was cool too, and you were different to the way you normally are. Almost like Kyle. It was like I couldn't stop what happened, and didn't want to."
"Hey! You think I wanted to stop?"
Then the bombshell hit. "I just don't want you to think I'm gay and stuff."
So that's what really hassled him? "Do you think I'm gay? Or that maybe Kyle was gay?"
"I know Kyle wasn't, but we did stuff together. And I know that you and he did other kinda stuff together."
"You think the other stuff is a bit too hectic, huh?"
"Hey, mate, can I tell you a Kyle secret that you need to keep to yourself?"
"You're gonna tell me he was gay, right?"
"No. He'd come down here from heaven and beat the crap outta me if I said that." At least that comment lightened the atmos a bit, and caused the grommet to laugh. "Kyle and Brett did the same stuff you and I did the other night."
"Brett? Conan? Yeah, right. No way, man. Whoever told you that is chirping serious crap."
"You don't have to believe it, mate. What I'm getting at is the way Kyle taught us to be, that being good friends like we are means that it's normal to be close. To enjoy each other's bods while we're close is just a spontaneous thing, not something you need to contemplate or analyze. It simply happens of its own accord. You can sense if your mate doesn't want you to go there. Kyle and I used to kiss--and I mean kiss."
"So don't let the other night hassle you. I know you're not gay. Just don't start pinning labels all over. You know I love you, right?"
Before I continued the convo, I placed an arm around his shoulder. "The other night," I began, "was the most special thing for me since Kyle died. And because it was you, it was very, very special. I love you--not like a girlfriend or whatever, but I love you like a true blue, fair dinkum mate. It was like having Kyle with me all over again--you're so much like him."
"That's what Melanie says, too."
"Because you're special. Can I ask you something without you getting mad at me?"
"You can try."
"I thought maybe you and Joe and Sean might also do what we did."
"We did once, but I got the guilts about it. Sometimes we jack each other, but when I think about it later I think it's wrong. With Kyle it was different, and with you the other night was different too."
"You drove me crazy because you're such a little hunk." He laughed at my comment because he usually conceals his hunky looks with baggy clothes. "It's difficult to describe how good it felt to be close to your hot bod."
"You're the same, Stuart, and I liked it. I don't want you to think I didn't. I'd like to do it again because I dig you, and Kyle dug you too."
"Tellya what, if the time's right and we both want it, it'll happen without either of us thinking about it. Can I give you a hug for your birthday?"
Graham's iron-hard body highlighted impressive muscle tone. He squeezed me hard, not realizing his own strength. Then, it was time for him to leave, but as he bounced down the road, he turned and shouted, "Thanks for the wristy!"
On the weekend, my dad was busy sorting out unwanted stuff in the garage. I helped carry it to the end of the driveway where it would be collected by truck. The weird thing was we got around to the subject of cars. My dad asked what kind of cars I liked, which demonstrated how little we'd conversed in the past. I said I really dug the Honda Civic--even an older one I could strip and rebuild.
I connected with Graham again on Sunday. He and Joe went to the movies Saturday night, "and Friday I was at a house party with my mates and all the girls."
"You're pretty busy lately."
"Check what I'm wearing."
"The wristy! Hey, that's damn cool, mate."
"How was your weekend?"
Actually, I'd been busy organizing a package to send G, but I forgot to include the postcode and wondered if the damn thing got lost somewhere. After two weeks, I began to despair. Then, out of the blue, G emailed me to say he received the package. He was completely blown away.
I wrote a note, which I included in the package. I wanted you to have a special birthday, G, so I put a few things together I'm sure you'll appreciate more than anyone I know.
The black flannel gym shorts are part of Kyle's school togs. The Speedos are those he brought around to my place one day when my folks were home, which meant he couldn't swim naked like he usually did. He looked cool when the wet material molded to his skin. They've not been washed since he exited the pool that day.
The T-shirt is another of his leftovers that found their way into my closet. Same story with the check boxers. He preferred satin boxers so I guess that's why didn't bother to retrieve those. Or maybe they were purposely left behind in case he needed to cover his ass another time.
There are two sets of beads. One is a bead necklace Kyle made for me for Christmas. He made it just before he died, and left it under the T's Christmas tree. I know what you're thinking, but hear me out. I honestly think if Kyle had the chance he would have made one for you and sent it to you. I made a necklace for Kyle one day and he wanted to know how to make them. I showed him, and I guess that's why he made that one for me. I already have a necklace Kyle used to wear, so don't think I'm parting with Kyle because I sent that one to you. I know you'll appreciate the fingers that threaded those beads, and the teeth that helped tie the knots. The other set is a wristy I made for you to wear. Sometimes those things break and come apart so you need to be careful.
We'll never meet, G. That's a fact of life. But I wanted to do something really special for you, and I know that right now, as you read this note, you're beaming--or crying, or both.
I know this won't be the happiest birthday for you. You had four of those recently while Kyle was alive. But I hope these gifts go some way to make it a good one.
Your friend and Kyle's
Last night I attended the counselor session again with Melanie. The first thing she said was "behave!" More of an order than a suggestion. I had to laugh, though.
Okay, so I behaved, but I still couldn't wait for the session to end. I wasn't sure if it was the session or just Melanie's company that did me good, plus the fact that I was now cozily entrenched in Melanie's and Graham's favor.
Graham skateboarded over to my place earlier that day, with his top tied around his waist; bare chested. Whoa! As usual, I was knocked out by his body. His cargos were held up by his dick--his waist seemed too narrow to cope. He wanted to know if I'd visit Kyle's folks but I already had a date with the counselors. Pity. I hadn't seen them for a while and knew I needed to visit soon, even just to say g'day. I always enjoyed seeing the Ts, and I guessed they were glad to see me as well.
Graham still practically lived at Kyle's house, which was good for Mr. and Mrs. T. Kyle's room was still a shrine to the grommet, which meant it wasn't just a room of fading memories. It remained alive with Graham's presence, and that's how Kyle would want it.
Kyle managed his daily schedule so damn well. He always had time for his net friends, mates, Melanie, me, hiking, camping, me, surfing, G and me. The more I thought about it, the less I understood how he managed his time. I figured he did most of his email stuff at school. He always carried a box of disks in his school bag.
Oops! I lost the plot. I was telling G about Graham visiting me yesterday. Okay, so he stayed a while and we talked. Nope, I never touched him? Why? Because he visited shirtless, and that's how I wanted to see him more often. I needed him to feel comfortable, and not fear my getting carried away. I didn't want him to get the jitters in my company.
He said he wanted to grow his hair longer when he left school, and wear a ponytail. It would suit him, I reckon, because of his thick black hair. Actually, it has a brownish tint, probably caused by long exposure to sun and surf.
Hey, G, I dropped a few tears when I put that birthday package together for you. I remember Kyle often wearing those clothes.
I slept last night cuddling Kyle's T. When I first received the package, I was confused. I expected a card. At first, I thought the clothes were meant for me. Then I noticed they weren't new. I thought maybe they were yours. When I read your letter, I went to pieces. Took me forever; one sentence or maybe just a few words at a time, in between grabbing fistfuls of tissues. I kept fingering the clothing, trying to come to terms with the reality of having part of Kyle in my hands.
Kyle must have planned to make several gifts for his friends last Christmas, G. But the only one he got to finish was the bead necklace for me. To take that home with me was gut wrenching because I felt as though I'd removed part of Kyle from his folks. His fingers threaded those beads, and his teeth tied the knots. His facial expression would have been very serious as he worked to get it right.
I know Kyle would want you to have that necklace because of everything you did for him. Meanwhile, now you know the reason I made two wristies; one for Graham and one for you.
You may be tempted to send me something in return. Don't. The return address on the package is fake. I know you respect my privacy just as you respected Kyle's. You've given me so much during the past 18 months I'm not sure how to thank you.
I spoke recently to some folks about drug withdrawals. Most agreed that after a month or so of being clean, I might suffer some serious pain. That was the dangerous part which may cause `attitude reversal' or some such shit.
Separate ways one day, G. But now you have something from Kyle I know you'll treasure and respect because they belonged to the most awesome friend anyone could hope to have.
So, will this make your birthday better? Nah, I don't think so. But I think it might make it a bit more bearable even though Kyle is not here at the end of this mail.
Peace, love, respect
Your friend and Kyle's