After We Danced – 06

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Chapter Six

Have you ever lain awake at night just listening to the sound of rain, falling gently on the iron roof? Have you then woken up in the morning to a clear, fresh dawn, with the heady fragrances of summer gently wafting in through the open window and the curtains being gently blown in and out with each breath of air?

That was what the next morning was like. It was just beautiful, and we were just lying there in each other’s arms for ages, desperately not wanting to let go of each other, but knowing full well that it was Monday and the realities of the new week must sooner or later be faced.

The alarm had gone off at seven a.m., with the radio switching on to the local news. We were already awake at that time anyway, but when the news came on the radio again half an hour later at seven thirty, we were still there clinging to each other.

‘I really have to go to work today, you know,’ Matt said, whispering in my ear.

‘Yeah, I know. But just a few minutes more please? You don’t have to be there until nine, and I’ll be all alone for the rest of the day after that.’

He leant across and kissed me. ‘How could I resist a plea like?’ he said to me.

I giggled, and kissed him back.

We had to get out of bed, eventually, but having him lie there beside me, naked and firm and gorgeous as he was, it wasn’t an easy thing to do.

At seven forty five he finally threw the blanket back, swung his legs down off the edge of the bed and sat up with his back to me.

‘I need a shower,’ he said, after having a quick sniff under his armpits.

‘Need some help?’ I asked, while reaching over and running my fingers gently down his spine.

Matt turned around and grinned at me. ‘I’d love it, but if you did that there would be no way that I would ever get to work, on time or otherwise.’

‘Can’t blame a guy for trying can you?’

‘No, I don’t suppose I can.’

He got up and walked into the house, heading for the bathroom. I watched him as he walked away and smiled to myself, content in the knowledge that I would be doing this forever.

I lay back on the pillow and thought about how much I was enjoying this new life we were leading. I hoped that it would last, and that nothing would ever come between us, but somewhere deep in my mind I began to hear these voices of doubt start whispering to me, telling me it was all a dream. Telling me that I was a fool. Telling me that it would never last.

I quickly dismissed them and got out of bed, walking in to the bathroom as well.

Was I being just a little too optimistic about my future? Would it all last?

Yes, it was going to last. I was going to make sure of that.

‘Make sure you save me some hot water,’ I called out to him as I stood at the toilet relieving myself.

‘All gone,’ he said. ‘I needed it all to make myself look beautiful.’

As I flushed the toilet he turned off the water and pulled back the shower curtain.

We both stood there, facing each other, naked and looking the other up and down. Each of us grew hard at the sight before us.

‘God, you are gorgeous,’ I said to him.

He just laughed. ‘Not now, okay? I told you I’ve got to be at work in forty five minutes.’

‘Later?’ I asked.

‘Ooh, yeah.’

‘I’ll go cook us some toast. You want any cereal or anything?’

‘Toast and coffee will do fine,’ he answered, as he shut off the water and reached for the towel to dry himself.

I washed my hands, then after drying them, on the same towel Matt was using, I headed for the kitchen, where I turned the kettle on, put some bread in the toaster and got the cups and plates from the cupboard.

‘Ahhh, domestic bliss,’ I whispered to myself.

‘Yeah, ain’t it great?’ Matt asked, sneaking up behind me, and giving me a big hug.

I spun around in his arms, startled.

‘You are still all wet,’ I said to him. ‘You better get dry and get yourself dressed. This won’t be long.’

‘Okay,’ he said, kissing me as he let go of me.

He went out the back to our room (I was starting to like the sound of that), and I heard him shuffling through his bag to retrieve his clothes. By the time he came back into the kitchen a few minutes later he was all dressed up in his work clothes, and even had his hair combed.

Even in his rather drab work uniform, khaki trousers and green and gold striped polo shirt with a little comical car embroidered on it, right over his left nipple, Matt just looked so sexy. I couldn’t take my eyes off him.

‘So that’s why you needed all our hot water,’ I said, as I handed him a cup of coffee, just how he liked it, with milk and two spoons of sugar.

‘Yup, and it took every drop.’

‘Ha.’

‘What are you going to do today?’ he asked me.

I just looked at him blankly. ‘Actually, I hadn’t given it any thought,’ I eventually answered.

‘Well, how about you drop me off at work and keep the car for today, just in case you need it. Then you can come back downtown and meet me for lunch.’

‘I get to drive the Commodore? Are you sure?’

‘Yeah, of course I’m sure. You’ve driven it before, you clown. Just don’t scratch it.’

‘Cool.’

Now, as most of you would know, a boy’s relationship with his first car is something special. Especially when it is a car that he has sweated over and toiled over for hours on end. Endless sanding back. Spray painting. Mechanical repairs. Applying pin striping. Putting in a stereo system. Upholstering seats. Tinting windows. The whole deal.

It was a fairly early model Commodore, about a 1984 I think, and when he bought it about eighteen months ago, before he had even received his driver’s license, it was in fairly rough shape. That was most likely why he managed to get it so cheap. But with a little help from his father and his friends, Matt had managed to do most of the work required to restore the car himself. And he was justifiably proud of that.

We had all pitched in gladly, even though we probably weren’t that mechanically minded ourselves, and as a result of this we all knew just how much the car meant to Matt.

While Matt was eating breakfast I ducked into my bedroom and pulled on some clothes, a pair of shorts and an old t-shirt, then walked back out to the kitchen.

‘You about ready?’ I asked him.

‘Yeah,’ he answered, in a manner that clearly indicated that he would have preferred to stay at home.

‘You don’t have to go, you know.’

‘Yeah, I do,’ he answered. ‘I need some more money, thanks to this extravagant lifestyle we’ve been living. With study and the exams and our holiday, I haven’t been at work in about six weeks and I’m damn near broke.’

He threw me the keys to the car as he said that, and we headed out the door.

*    *     *

      It was a beautiful day to be out driving, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stray too far.

I felt like a king though, driving down the main street of town in this great machine, after dropping Matt off at work. The windows were down. The stereo was going. I was listening to the Beach Boys, great summer music. Oldies, but goldies.

When I got home, with the sounds of Good Vibrations still ringing in my ears, I was in a great mood. I had a shower and then put on a CD, my favourite ‘Crowded House’ album, before deciding to make a start on the mundane things that I knew simply had to be done, like washing clothes, washing dishes, making our bed. Mum usually did most of these things, except the beds of course, but it was my turn now.

Suddenly domestic bliss seemed a whole lot different to how it was earlier that morning. Ah well, you can’t have everything your own way all the time.

While I was doing the dishes, I thought again about my mother, and what she would be doing in Sydney at Aunt Margaret’s place, so I decided to give her a call.

I picked up the phone and wandered in to the lounge room, where I sat down and dialed the number. It rang and rang and rang, then, just as I was about to hang up it was answered.

‘Hello,’ the breathless young voice on the other end of the phone said.

‘Hello, who’s that?’ I asked, not recognizing who it was at first.

‘Tony,’ the voice said. ‘Who’s this? Is that you Luke?’

‘Yeah, Tony. Sorry, I didn’t recognise your voice. I haven’t spoken to you in a couple of years,’ I answered.

It was my cousin. He would be about fifteen or sixteen years old now, I thought, and from what I could remember, not having seen him in a few years, he was a pimply-faced kid who had always seemed to carry some extra weight. I wouldn’t have said he had a weight problem, but he certainly wasn’t as skinny as most of the kids I knew who were his age.

‘No. It’s been a while,’ he said. After a pause he asked, ‘Do you want your mum? She’s not here, she and mum and Katie and Michael and Jess have all gone across on the ferry to the zoo today.’

‘Oh. Okay then.’

He paused for a moment after that, I could hear him breathing on the other end of the line. I was about to ask him if he was still there when he finally spoke up.

‘So is it true?’ he asked me.

Suddenly I just went cold all over. My hands went all clammy and it felt as if my throat had had a huge hand wrapped around it. ‘So is what true?’ I answered eventually, with way too much emotion in my voice, I knew.

‘You know what I mean.’

‘I’m not sure I do.’

‘It’s all right, your mum told us. You’re gay aren’t you?’

Christ, I thought, she didn’t have to go and blab it to the whole world. I swallowed hard.

‘It’s okay, Luke, we know all about it. And one of my friends at school is gay, so I don’t care. So, what’s he like?’

‘Who?’ I asked, wishing to Christ that mum had been there when I had called and that I didn’t have to face this long distance inquisition.

‘Your boyfriend, you dumbass.’

‘I don’t want to talk about it, okay?’

‘Why not?’

‘Because I don’t. Just get mum to call me back will you?’ I said, then simply hung up.

I was trembling all over. I felt just like I had on the day that Matt’s mum had seen us holding hands. Damn it.

I sat there just holding the phone in my shaking hands. Then it rang. I almost dropped it.

I picked up the receiver and said, ‘Hello,’ half expecting that it would be Tony ringing back.

‘Hi,’ the voice said. It was Matt.

‘Hi, yourself,’ I answered in a voice that just couldn’t disguise my nerves.

‘I was just thinking about you, and the boss is out, so I thought I’d call. Are you okay? You sound shaky,’ he asked. ‘What’s happened?’

‘That’s sweet of you. Yeah, I’m okay. I was just talking to my cousin in Sydney. He wanted to know all about you. It just shook me up a little, having someone question me about you, that was all.’

‘So did you tell him?’

‘I hung up on him. Little pervert.’

‘Don’t you want to tell everyone about me?’ he asked, sounding almost hurt.

‘Yeah, I’ll tell everyone about you. I know that I won’t be able to just keep you to myself forever, but he just shocked me that was all . . . caught me off guard.’

‘So, where are we going for lunch?’ he asked.

‘Umm, how about Con’s?’

‘Sounds cool. DJ called in here this morning. He’s going to meet me here when I go to lunch. One o’clock okay with you? We can all go together.’

‘All right. I’ll see you then,’ I answered, then after I disconnected I went back to my housework.

*    *    *

      I parked the car with five minutes to spare and headed down the arcade to Auto Stop, where I found Matt and DJ and Dwayne all waiting for me.

‘Hi guys,’ I said as I joined them.

‘Hi,’ they all said.

Matt swung his arm over my shoulder and squeezed me gently to him, then let go. I looked around, but there was no one about to witness this show of affection. Thankfully.

‘Relax,’ he said to me softly. I managed a small smile, but I was trembling inside. It was just one of those type of days I guess. I wondered what other surprises it might bring.

Lunch was great, as it always was there. We sat and we talked and we ate and we joked, comfortable in each other’s company in a way that we never really had been before.

During our discussions I asked Dwayne what he actually did, I mean did he work or was he a student or something. It was something that I had been curious about for a while now.

‘Actually, I work for myself,’ he answered. ‘I’m right into computers, designing web pages and internet sites for businesses. Plus a little freelance consulting and stuff. I don’t make a fortune, but it pays the bills for me at least. And working for myself gives me the chance to duck out and see my friends whenever I want.’

He flashed a smile at DJ when he said the last little bit.

‘Cool,’ I said. ‘I want to do computer science next year if I can.’

‘Good choice. I work from home, so you should come around some time and have a look at my set up.’

I had to look away suddenly when he said that, so I could stifle a laugh. I remembered that I had already seen his set. And it was definitely up at the time. It seemed like such a long time ago now though.

I hope that nobody noticed.

After we had finished lunch, we all wandered back towards Auto Stop, although we were strolling along fairly slowly.

It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining. People were sitting at the sidewalk cafés enjoying themselves. This young couple was holding hands across their table.

Matt and I both noticed them at about the same time and then looked at each other. We both knew what the other was thinking. I smiled at him and he smiled back.

‘One day,’ I said to him.

‘You bet.’

DJ looked across at us. ‘What are you pair prattling on about?’

‘Nothing much,’ I answered.

Matt just laughed. DJ just shook his head.

After we left Matt, standing forlornly behind the counter at the shop, DJ and Dwayne told me they had things to do, so they went off on their merry way. I didn’t have much else to do so I decided to call into the supermarket on the way home and see about work, now that I was feeling better.

When I checked the rosters that were up on the staff notice board I found that I wasn’t on there, which wasn’t unexpected and was entirely understandable since I hadn’t been anywhere near the place in about six weeks, so I went and found the Manager, hiding out as usual in his office.

‘Hey, Luke,’ he said as I knocked on his door and walked in. ‘How are you doing? How are the ribs?’

‘Fine thanks, Mr Dawson, I’m feeling a lot better now,’ I answered.

‘Glad to hear it. We were pretty worried about you when your mum rang and told us what happened. I’m glad to see you on your feet.’

‘W-w-what did she tell you?’ I asked.

‘Just that you had an accident and broke a couple of ribs.’

‘Oh,’ I said.

‘Well, you sound like you might be ready to come back to work now?’ he asked.

‘I sure am,’ I answered. ‘I’ve got to get some money together again.’

‘Good. Now let’s see . . .’ he said, picking up the clipboard that held the next week’s roster. ‘I’ve got Monday filled. How about next Tuesday through to Sunday, Christmas Eve. That ought to do for a start?’

‘That sounds great. Thank you,’ I said.

‘Okay, see you Tuesday then. All day, starting at nine?’

‘Yes, that’s fine.’

I almost skipped out of there when we were done. Finally, things were getting back to normal in my life and I would be able to put the last few weeks behind me.

*    *     *

      After I was finished with all my socialising and running around, I returned home with the full intention of finishing off the jobs that I hadn’t completed from that morning.

The sounds of the Beach Boys were once again ringing in my ears when I pulled up at the back door and got out of the car (Little Deuce Coupe), and I was in such a good mood that I almost skipped up the back steps to the verandah.

When I got to the sliding glass door into the back entrance to the house I slid it open. It was then that I stopped in my tracks, realising that something wasn’t quite right. The door was unlocked, and I could have sworn that I had locked it when I had left before lunch.

Maybe I hadn’t after all? Who knows? It would be just like me to do that anyway.

I walked inside and went straight to the refrigerator, from which I grabbed a can of Coca-Cola and then sat down at the table to drink it.

Suddenly, I heard a noise down the hallway and I froze, once again remembering the door. Had I locked it after all and someone had broken in? Or had I left it unlocked and someone had just waltzed in? Or was it someone with the key?

Either way, I now knew that I wasn’t alone. And there was no way I was going to play the hero.

‘Who is there?’ I called out from the end of the hall, right next to the back door where I could make a quick getaway if needed.

The noise from the other end of the hallway stopped then I heard footsteps and a figure appeared. It was my father, stepping out of the bedroom that he and mum had shared for the past nineteen years.

We looked at each other, as if we were strangers. After what had happened between us I hated him, but he was still my father. I knew that he hated me as well, or what it was that I had become.

‘What are you doing here?’ I coldly asked him.

‘Um . . . just getting a few things together. Don’t worry, I’ll be gone in a minute.’

‘Where to?’

‘Back to Cathy’s place. I’m going to stay there for a little while longer.’

I just nodded, then turned and walked into the kitchen, out of his sight. My head was such a mixed up jumble of feelings and emotions that I couldn’t think straight.

He was my father. I had loved him all my life. But he had knocked me senseless, and I’ve been hating even the thought of him for days now. Love. Hate. Love. Hate. He loves me. He loves me not.

Shit! I just wanted to scream.

A few moments later I heard him walking up the hallway and then he appeared in the kitchen, carrying his old brown suitcase, heavy with clothes, its sides bulging out.

Instinctively I moved around to the other side of the counter, away from him. Away from his reach. Away from where he might be able to hurt me again.

That small movement hurt him. I could see it in his eyes. I didn’t know if I was glad of that or not.

‘I . . . I just wanted to say . . .’ he stuttered.

I said nothing, and the silence stretched on and on, broken only by the ticking of the clock on the kitchen wall.

He looked different to the father that I had always known and loved. His hair looked greyer. His eyes looked sunken. His face looked thinner.

He gave a sigh, and his shoulders drooped down. It was like a sign of defeat. I hoped that it was a sign of his being resigned to the fact that he now knew that it was all his doing. That it was him who was at fault. All he had to do was admit it.

‘I’m sorry,’ he finally said. ‘I’m really sorry.’

Then he picked up his suitcase and walked out the back door, leaving me torn somewhere between running after him and giving him a hug, just like I had always done as a kid, or picking something up and throwing it at him.

I walked back around to the other side of the counter, closer to the door that he had just walked through, then stopped. I listened to the receding echo of his footsteps as he walked down the path along the side of the house, until finally there was nothing. Only the sound of the clock and my own breaking heart to keep me company.

I sat on a stool and put my head in my hands. Then I cried.

*    *     *

      It was the telephone that eventually woke me up.

I looked at my watch. It was now five o’clock in the afternoon. Three hours since my father had left me standing in the kitchen feeling like a fool.

Somehow I had made it out into the spare room and had lain down on the bed. That was where I had stayed for the rest of the afternoon.

‘Hello,’ I said, when I finally got to the phone.

‘Where were you?’ Matt asked, anxiously.

‘Asleep.’

‘What for?’

‘Tell you later.’

‘You all right?’

‘Not really.’

‘I tried earlier, but you didn’t answer.’

‘Must have slept through it.’

‘Oh. Pick me up in half an hour?’

‘Yeah, sure,’ I said.

‘Luke, tell me what is wrong. Please.’

‘Later, Matt, okay?’ then I disconnected.

I didn’t really want to talk about it, but I knew that he would be able to get it out of me one way or the other eventually.

‘Damn,’ I said aloud.

I needed to relieve myself, so I headed into the bathroom, and while I was standing there draining my bladder I looked across into the mirror.

Who was that person who was looking back at me, I wondered.

After finishing up and washing my hands I walked back out into the kitchen, picked up the keys to Matt’s car and walked out the back door, making doubly sure that it was locked this time.

Ten minutes later I parked the car in the car park, finding a space not far from the end of the arcade, knowing that Matt would come out soon. I had at least five minutes to spare, maybe more if he decided to give his boss a hand to lock up, so I slipped across into the passenger seat and stayed there, waiting for him.

He came out right on time. I watched him as he stopped at the entrance of the arcade and looked up and down the car park for the car. When he spotted it he quickly strode over to me and sat straight into the drivers’ seat.

‘Hi,’ he said.

‘Hi.’

We sat there in silence for a few minutes. Matt made no move to start the car.

Finally he looked across at me and said, ‘Something has obviously happened. Do you want to talk about it?’

I didn’t answer him. I just looked at him and pictured what it was he was seeing right now. The same scared and confused kid that had stared back at me from the bathroom mirror just after he had washed and dried his face of tears about ten minutes earlier.

Without saying another word Matt started the car and backed out of the parking space, then turned onto the street.

We started to head for home, but about half way there, Matt turned off the main road and started climbing the road up towards the lookout, which sat upon a jagged cliff that overlooked the town. We soon came to the end of that road, where it leveled out near the top of the hill into a large car park. The lookout itself was a little further up the hill, along with toilets and picnic tables and the start of a walking trail that wound its way around the hills.

In the afternoons, around sunset, and at night it was spectacular. Today however, with sunset still a couple of hours away, it wasn’t anything extraordinary, just another hot and hazy summer afternoon.

Matt cut the engine and we just sat there looking out over the city.

‘All right,’ he said after a lengthy silence. ‘Spill it.’

I just looked at him.

‘Remember honesty and all that?’ he prompted.

‘Yeah.’

‘Ah, he speaks?’ he said, with just a note of sarcasm in his voice.

I managed a wry smile.

‘That’s better. Now what happened?’

I took a deep breath. ‘Dad was at the house,’ I said.

‘Bullshit. When?’ he asked, turning in his seat to face me.

‘When I got home. He was packing his suitcase.’

‘Did he say anything to you? Did he do anything?’

‘He said he was sorry. He just said he was sorry, Matt. I didn’t know if I wanted to hug him or throw something at him. I just watched him walk out the door.’

He reached over and pulled me to him.

‘It’s okay,’ he whispered, hugging me, my face buried into his neck. ‘It’s okay.’

‘What’s wrong with me?’ I asked.

‘Nothing. Nothing at all. How many times do I have to tell you that? It’s not you that is all screwed up. You’ve got to remember that.’

‘Is it ever going to get better?’

‘Yes. I promise you. This will all blow over. Trust me on that.’

‘I hope so.’

We sat back against our seats, just holding hands, our fingers rubbing together gently.

Outside it was still quite early, but we made no move to go home. Instead we got out of the car and wandered up to where we could look out over the scene below us, perching ourselves on a park bench.

We sat. We talked. And eventually we watched the sun go down, turning the sky a brilliant mixture of orange and crimson and purple, while below us the lights of the town slowly began to appear, until eventually every street of the town was lit up and we could make out the plan of criss-crossed streets.

Way off in the distance there was a storm. We saw the lightening flash across the sky and we watched it, in awe of its beauty and power.

When it was finally dark we made a move, getting up from our seat and walking back to the car, our fingers still intertwined.

*    *     *

      That night, in bed, Matt pulled me to him and held me close. My head was resting on his chest and I could hear his heart beating. And I could feel his strong arms holding me close to him.

‘I love you, you know,’ I said to him.

‘I know,’ he answered, kissing me on the top of my head. ‘I love you too. You know that don’t you?’

‘Yeah. I do.’

I lifted up my head and kissed him squarely on the lips.

‘I’m going to be here for you for a long, long time, and for as long as I’m around nothing is ever going to happen to you. You have my word on that. You got that?’

I kissed him again.

‘Yeah,’ I answered. ‘And I’m going to make sure you keep your word.’

I kissed him again. And again. And again. Moving slowly down his neck and then his chest, where I ran my tongue around his enticing nipples. First one and then the other.

‘Ooohh,’ he moaned. ‘That feels so good.’

I kissed the little hollow in his chest, just below the centre of his pecs, where both sides of his ribs joined his breastbone, then headed south, kissing him and licking around his belly button, before finally reaching the rigid shaft that was already pointing towards my face.

I couldn’t resist it. I engulfed him, and listened to the groans of pleasure that he uttered.

We made love to each other slowly and gently, pleasuring every inch of each other, and finding new ways to excite and titillate the other. Our love for each other was growing day by day, and in spite of the trials and tribulations that seemed to be presenting themselves one after the other, our relationship too was strengthening.

*    *     *

      The rest of the week was fairly standard. Matt worked all week, getting more hours than his boss had originally promised him, thanks to the Christmas rush, which pleased him no end.

The only down side was that we didn’t get to spend quite as much time together as we had hoped, although I did get to look after and drive the car on most days, which was something that Matt didn’t have to let me do, but which I was grateful for.

We continued to share the bed in our spare room, while mum and Katie were still away at least, but we knew that they would be home fairly soon and after that it would be difficult to continue as we were on a permanent basis. At night we started making preparations to move some of my stuff into Matt’s flat, packing up boxes of stuff and taking various things over there. At least there we would be able to be ourselves and not have to worry about what anyone thought, irrespective of whether they were okay with our relationship or not.

I also paid a couple of visits to Dwayne’s flat and got to have a good look around his office. Technically he lived on his own, but DJ had been spending more and more time there lately and had pretty much become a fixture.

Dwayne actually worked out of one bedroom in his flat, which was set up with all the latest gear. There were a couple of computers, plus scanners, printers, faxes, modems and just about anything electrical that you could dream up. He had everything.

I liked seeing them together and I thought that they worked well together. I was happy for them both.

I knew that DJ had been a bit of a computer whiz at school, better than most of the kids in our class in fact, so it came as no surprise to me that he had even started helping Dwayne out with his work. I’m not too sure if this was sometimes actually a help or a hindrance to Dwayne however, as a couple of times I caught him frowning when DJ made a mistake or interrupted him.

I smiled to myself when this happened, but I knew that they would be able to work it out for themselves.

During my visits there we sat and talked for hours about this and that and everything. DJ came and went pretty much as he pleased, and it was during some of these quiet times when he was out that Dwayne and I talked for the first time since the hospital about the events that had brought us all together.

He was the first person, other than Matt, that I had ever been able to talk frankly to about how I felt. About being gay. About having a boyfriend. About making a commitment.

‘When did you know you were gay?’ I asked him, as we were sitting in his kitchen drinking coffee.

‘When I was about eight or nine,’ he answered. ‘I remember inviting a friend home one weekend. Anyway, we had been out playing in the mud one afternoon, so mum made us both go and have a bath. Together.’

I smiled at the thought of this, remembering similar things happening to me when I was a kid, or having relatives stay over and then having to share my bed with one of my cousins.

‘Anyway, there we both were, sitting in the bath tub. Mark, that was his name, was sitting with his legs crossed and with his hands over his willy. I was trying to say “You show me yours and I’ll show you mine,” but he wouldn’t have anything to do with it. That was probably the first time that I can remember where I thought that I was, umm, different.’

‘I can relate to that,’ I told him.

‘How about you?’ he asked.

‘There was a group of us, when we were about twelve, I think. One of us had pinched some magazines from an older brother, I can’t even remember who it was now. Anyway, they weren’t Playboys or anything; they were one of those coloured glossy magazines, Picture, I think they were called, and they always had shots of these big breasted women all the way through them that most of us drooled over.’

‘I remember that,’ Dwayne added.

‘Yeah. Anyway, at the back of the magazine was always an amateur type section, where people sent their own photos in, both guys and girls.’

‘Yeah, and the rules were that the guys couldn’t be hard or anything. I remember them.’

‘God, some of them were ugly. But those pictures of the naked guys, they turned me on more than any of the tits I ever saw. After that, it was seeing Matt and DJ and all the others in the showers at school every week that kept me turned on.’

We both laughed at our memories.

‘Did you go to the park often?’ I asked him. ‘Or do you still go there?’

He shook his head. ‘No, on both counts. I might have gone there once or twice a month, but that’s about all. I had another boyfriend up until a few months ago. He ran off with some queen from Sydney.’

‘I’m sorry,’ I said.

‘Don’t be. I’m not,’ he said, laughing. ‘I’m glad that I met you there. In spite of the fact that we were interrupted and . . . well, what happened. It was nice to meet someone there that wasn’t like all the other regulars.’

I could feel myself blushing. He noticed and started laughing.

‘And I haven’t been back there since I met DJ,’ he added.

‘So, what’s with you two? Are you serious?’

Now it was his turn to blush. He smiled a smile that spelt it all out for me.

‘So, how are the ribs and the head?’ he asked me.

‘Improving.’

‘Matt told DJ that you had a visit from your father?’

I nodded. ‘He was at the house after we had lunch on Monday. He told me he was sorry.’

‘That’s a start at least.’

‘I suppose so. But there’s a long way to go yet. I just don’t know how I feel about him any more. I mean he’s my dad and all that, and I’ve loved him like crazy since I was a little kid. But after what happened and then his saying sorry, well, I don’t know if I want to hug him or strangle him,’ I told him.

‘Just remember he is still your dad. Irrespective of what has happened.’

We talked a while more about his business and about computers, and after that DJ came waltzing back in, parking himself on the chair beside Dwayne, putting his arm around him and planting a kiss on his cheek.

A few weeks ago that would have shocked me. Today I just laughed.

I left them soon afterwards and called downtown to pick Matt up from work.

*    *     *

      My mother rang on the Friday night, asking how we were. Matt and I had just settled down with a video and a pizza. So much for the quiet night at home that we had planned.

‘Fine thanks. How is Sydney?’

‘Flat out. I’ll be glad when we get home.’

‘When will that be?’

‘Monday,’ she answered. ‘And we are bringing visitors. Margaret and the kids are coming too. They are going to spend Christmas with us.’

Just great I thought. That’s all I needed, that little pervert to be here pestering me about my boyfriend.

‘Tony said to tell you he was sorry if he upset you the other day.’

‘That’s nice.’

‘Why did you hang up on him?’

‘He was annoying me.’

‘That’s no excuse,’ she scolded.

‘Whatever,’ I said, taking a bite of pepperoni pizza.

‘Have you heard from your father?’ she asked.

‘He called in here the other day. Just to get some clothes.’

I could hear her on the other end of the line. It sounded as if she was sobbing.

‘Has he called you?’ I asked.

‘No,’ she sobbed.

‘Are you all right, mum? Please don’t cry.’

Matt looked across at me with raised eyebrows.

‘Yes. I’ll be okay. What did he say?’ She didn’t sound very convincing though.

‘Ummm . . . he said he was sorry.’

‘Where is he?’

‘Still at Aunt Cath’s.’

‘I’ll have to call him when I get back.’

I wanted to say, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ again, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. In the end I just told her that that would be a good idea.

We disconnected and I dropped the receiver back into the cradle.

‘How is she?’ Matt asked.

‘Shaky.’

‘That is understandable, I suppose.’

‘Hmmm.’

‘When will they be home?’

‘Some time Monday, and my aunt and cousins will be coming too. So that means Sunday will be our last night here in this house, because as soon as they all arrive, I want to be out of here.’

‘You sure?’

‘I’ve never been more sure of anything,’ I said, as I leaned across and kissed him.

*    *     *

      Matt had to work Saturday, so that cut into our weekend fairly well. For what was left of it though, we had a great time.

We all went out to dinner and the movies on the Saturday night, meaning Matt and me, along with DJ and Dwayne, with Hoss even tagging along, which surprised the hell out of us.

DJ kept making crude comments about lining him up with some cute guy or another, which only served to embarrass him. He was fairly good-natured about the ribbing, but we could all still see that there was something bothering him though. All in all we had a fun time.

We also met up with a couple of guys from school and their girlfriends, and while they all said, ‘Hi,’ or ‘How are you going?’ they basically kept their distance and didn’t have too much to say. That suited us fine, but we could just imagine what would have been said once we were out of earshot.

We all had a laugh about it, so that was progress at least.

The only down side to the whole evening was when we were walking from the café to the cinema, when Matt grabbed my arm and stopped me. I looked at him and noticed that he was just looking ahead, and when I looked up I saw Davo, walking towards us, alone.

We all stopped. He was still about fifty yards away, and just as we stopped he looked up and spotted the five of us there in a line in front of him.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the blood drain from someone’s face as quickly as it did his. He just turned and walked straight across the road, away from us. And we just watched him walk away.

Dwayne and Hoss were clearly the most uncomfortable with this situation, for reasons that were entirely different.

‘Well, hello to you too old mate,’ Matt said quietly after he was out of earshot.

After he was gone, we walked on, arriving at the cinema just in time to buy the tickets for the movie and get to our seats before it started.

We laughed our asses off at the movie, a romantic comedy that we had never heard of but we really enjoyed, and then afterwards we had coffee and cheesecake in the cafeteria of the cinema and chatted for another hour.

When we left the cinema Matt and I went straight home, with DJ and Dwayne offering to give Hoss a lift.

I was really glad that Hoss had made the first steps to come back into our little circle of friends, even though, by his own admission, he was now something of an outsider because he wasn’t quite like us. Straight or gay, he was a still a friend however, and given time none of us would even remember anything about the wedge that had temporarily been driven between us by Davo and his actions of last week.

Isn’t time a wonderful thing? It heals all, old wounds or friendships or anything that needs fixing. We just need patience and understanding to go with it, that’s all.

*    *     *

      Sunday was the first chance that we had had to be alone, with neither of us having to work or do anything. It was a lazy morning and we lay in bed for hours just holding each other, wishing that every day could be like today.

Eventually, as we always have to, we got out of bed to face the day. With Matt beside me I felt I could face almost anything, his love gave me a strength and feeling of security that I couldn’t remember having had in years.

Then I thought about what it would be like if he ever left me . . .

I stopped. I couldn’t think about it. Not that. Those doubts were creeping back into my mind again. I quickly buried them.

It’s never going to happen, I thought. It can’t happen.

It was his voice that finally snapped me back to the present.

‘Where were you?’ he asked.

‘Huh?’

‘You were a million miles away.’

I just shook my head. ‘Just daydreaming,’ I said.

‘I hope you were having fun.’

I just pulled him to me and kissed him. ‘With you, it’s always fun.’

He blushed.

We were standing in the kitchen, having got out of bed and had a shower together, and then dressed. Have I told you how much I liked those showers?

‘Do you want to take the rest of your stuff over to the flat today?’ he asked, pulling me to him with his hands wrapped around my waist and our cocks rubbing together.

‘Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. But I’m not sure I want to go anywhere just at the moment.’

He laughed. We could both feel ourselves growing firm at the touch of each other. I pulled myself away from him.

‘We better not,’ I said.

My thoughts went back to my furniture. There wasn’t much to go. I had packed up most of my smaller stuff into boxes and we had already taken some of it over. There was plenty of room in the flat for my belongings.

Matt had a large walk in wardrobe that had plenty of room for all of our clothes, but I still needed to take a few other items. My desk and computer and a wall cabinet for a heap of my junk, were on top of my list. I probably should have thrown half of the crap away that I was holding on to, but hey, I had spent years collecting that stuff. There were also some pictures that I liked that I thought might brighten the flat up a bit.

Matt had organised to borrow a trailer from his cousin, Phil, so that we could take the larger items, so after we had some breakfast we headed over there to pick it up.

We hadn’t seen him in ages, as he had been away working in Sydney or somewhere, and he greeted us both warmly with big hugs.

‘So, you guys are taking the plunge,’ he laughed.

I felt my face burning up, as it always seemed to do when the discussion in front of other people turned personal.

‘You know, you two and your coming out really put a rocket up some of the old farts in our family,’ he said, directing most of the statement at me.

‘Yeah, I can imagine,’ I answered, knowing first hand just what the reaction of some people can be like to finding out that a relative is gay. I rubbed the remnants of a bump on my forehead.

‘Don’t sweat it though, Luke,’ he added, giving me an affectionate jab in the arm. ‘You are a part of the family now. We love you for who you are. Well, that, and the fact that you’ve managed to tame the family larrikan here.’

‘Larrikan?’ Matt asked. ‘You ought to talk.’

I managed a smile, but wasn’t quite sure just how to take his welcome.

We hooked the trailer on after that and drove back to my house, where we backed it up to the door of the house.

It didn’t take too long to load up everything that I needed and we were soon off, destined for Matt’s flat.

As we drove down Crest Road to the intersection with the main road through town, Matt reached over and took my hand.

Shit he was sweet, I thought. And he was all mine.

‘I can’t tell you how much I’ve been wanting this to happen, Luke,’ he said to me.

I smiled back at him. ‘Yeah, me too,’ I said, while rubbing the back of his hand with my thumb.

*    *     *

      Sunday flew by all too fast, and before we knew it darkness was upon us.

We had managed to rearrange the flat, our flat now, and everything fitted well, without it being too cramped. I didn’t have all of the boxes unpacked yet, but at least we had the bulkier items in place. And I had a few pictures on the walls, which livened the place up a bit.

When we were done, we collapsed onto the bed, and that was where we stayed until we were interrupted by a knock on the door about half an hour later. Matt jumped up and answered it, coming back into the room moments later with his parents hot on his heels.

They looked around them and nodded their approval, even if they didn’t say too much about our redecorating efforts.

‘We just thought we would come down and see if you boys would like to come up for dinner,’ his mother asked us. ‘We’re only going to light the barbeque, so it won’t be anything fancy.’

Matt looked at me and I just shrugged my shoulders.

‘Thanks mum, we’d love to,’ he answered for the both of us.

‘Great,’ his father said. ‘It’ll be ready in about half an hour. Finish off what you are doing and come up to the house then.’

‘Thank you, we will,’ I said to them.

‘No problem,’ he answered, gently putting his hand on my shoulder for a moment as he passed me.

After they had left Matt came to me and put his arms around my waist. ‘Now what was it we were doing?’ he asked me.

‘Not now, Romeo,’ I said to him, stepping out of his arms. ‘We’ve been invited to the big house for dinner.’

‘I don’t even get invited up there much,’ he said, half jokingly. ‘You must have made a good impression on them.’

‘Yeah, right.’

We wandered up to the house about fifteen minutes later, after having a bit of a kiss and a cuddle on the bed. We would have stayed there for longer if I hadn’t insisted that we make a move.

‘But I am making a move,’ Matt pleaded with me. ‘On you.’

‘That’s already been done. And it worked the first time,’ I said to him. ‘Now get off your arse.’

I dragged him to his feet and we walked up towards the house, lured by the enticing aroma of meat and onions being cooked.

We got a nod and a smile from Matt’s father as we reached the back verandah. I followed Matt inside to the kitchen where his mother was getting everything else ready.

‘Can I help?’ I asked.

She looked at me for a moment and then handed me some plates.

‘Thank you Luke, you can take all of this out onto the table on the verandah if you like.’

‘No problems,’ I said, taking the load and heading for the door.

‘What a suck,’ Matt whispered to me as I walked past him. I just gave him a wink.

‘And don’t you just sit there, Matt. Get off you backside and take these salads out,’ she told him.

A short while later we were all seated around the large outdoor table enjoying our meal. There were Citronella candles burning at both ends of the table which helped keep the insects at bay and as we ate we listened to the constant hum of the crickets and cicadas in the warm summer night.

It took me back to my childhood. I remembered that this was what we did when I was a kid, my family enjoying a barbeque just like this, on nights like this. It was kind of sad to think that those days were well and truly over now.

For a minute I thought a tear was going to spoil it all for me. But the moment passed.

*    *

      The following day was Monday. D-day as far as I was concerned. The day that my mother and sister were to return home, along with the invading hordes of relatives.

I was dreading it.

I dropped Matt off at work early, as he had organised to be there earlier with his boss, seeing as this was the last week before Christmas.

When I returned home I gave the house the once over, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom and then folding up the sofa bed in the spare room. I hadn’t ever liked it all that much, but I had some very fond memories of it now.

I went back downtown at lunchtime to meet up with Matt and we ate briefly at one of the sidewalk cafés in the mall. We didn’t have too much time as he had to get back to work, they were so busy, so we just ate and ran.

By about half past two I was back to the house.

The invasion occurred at three.

Now you may have your doubts about it possibly being that bad, but you don’t know my Aunt Margaret. She was big. She was loud. And she was so overbearing that she tended to empty rooms within minutes. I’m sure you know the type.

When I heard the car doors slam outside I didn’t even go out. It would only take a few minutes and they would be inside anyway, I thought.

Sure enough, the voices came up the back steps, like a marching band in full swing. I took a deep breath and went to greet them.

‘Luuuuuke,’ she cried, as she met me at the top of the stairs, giving me a big bear hug that almost smothered me.

I could see my mother and sister and my three cousins, Jess, Michael and Tony, standing behind her all laughing at me.

‘Hi, Aunty Margaret,’ I managed to squeeze out.

I couldn’t take my eyes off Tony though. He was definitely a lot cuter than he had been the last time that I’d seen him, although he didn’t quite look as old as I thought he would be; only about fifteen, I would have guessed.

He was blonde, with deep blue eyes that really pierced your soul, and he had that tanned surfer look that just sent guys wild.

So much for the pimples and baby fat that I remembered.

Michael was different however. Darker complexioned and with brown hair and brown eyes. He wasn’t fat. He wasn’t skinny. He was just an average ten year old kid.

One by one they all came inside. I gave mum and Katie a hug and a kiss, then the same for Jess. I simply shook hands with Tony and Michael.

After I put the kettle on to make us some coffee, we all sat down at the table. I could see mum looking around the kitchen, checking it out to make sure we hadn’t messed it up too much. She had this quiet look of smug satisfaction on her face when she had finished her inspection and returned her attention to us.

Margaret, who was twice divorced by the way, had been prattling on about the god awful trip that they had had coming up from Sydney that morning, Michael, Tony, Jess and Kate were annoying the rest of us, punching each other in the arm or pulling each others ears, or squabbling amongst themselves.

I was glad that I was going over to the flat that night, I could tell you.

Once the kettle had boiled I got up and poured out the coffees, along with some cool drinks for the kids. I also put some biscuits on the plate in the middle of the table, which didn’t take long to disappear, although it did present us with the first opportunity to actually get a word in edge ways, as Aunt Margaret descended on them like a vulture.

Now do you get the picture of what she is like?

Sooner or later the subject came around to me. I knew it would eventually.

‘So, why?’ Aunty Margaret asked me.

I didn’t like this. Not one bit.

‘Because it’s just the way I am,’ I answered.

‘Hmmmppff,’ she replied, before biting down on another Scotch Finger.

I looked across at Tony, who was shifting uncomfortably in his seat.

‘Well, I think it’s just shocking,’ she said. ‘It’s not right. God doesn’t make people like that.’

‘Sorry, but he does,’ I shot back.

‘Hmmmppff.’

‘Leave him be, Margaret,’ mum said to her. ‘It’s his life and he’s happy. In fact I think he is happier now than he has ever been, so if you have a problem with it, just keep it to yourself because we love him just as he is and none of us want to hear it. You can meet Matt yourself later, and you will see just how nice a young man he is.’

Once again we got the, ‘Hmmmppff,’ reply.

I looked at mum with my eyes wide open and with my mouth open. I wanted to cry out, ‘Way to go mum,’ but I said nothing, just sat back in my chair, quietly satisfied with that.

‘So, how long are you staying?’ I asked, trying to change the subject.

‘We’ll be here for Christmas. Then after that, who knows.’

‘Hmmmppff,’ I replied.

Mum just gave me that little smile that she did so well. It meant, ‘That probably wasn’t called for, but good on you.’

I looked at my watch. Only three-thirty. Damn, two hours until I had to pick up Matt. Would I last?

It was Tony, who came to the rescue, when he asked, ‘Who owns the black car outside?’

‘That’s Matt’s,’ I answered, ‘And if you scratch it he’ll kill you.’

‘It looks pretty hot. Can I have a look at it?’

‘Sure, lets go,’ I answered, and with that he and I got up and went out the back door. Boys and cars, they go together perfectly.

By the time we reached the bottom of the stairs, Michael, ten years old and already a petrol head, apparently, was there beside us as well.

‘I couldn’t let you guys leave me in there all alone with them,’ he said.

I just laughed at him.

*    *     *

      I ended up taking the boys for a drive with me around town, which helped to not only kill a bit of time but also get us all away from dear Aunt Margaret.

By the time we had to pick Matt up from work, we had been to the lookout, through Macdonald’s for a snack and a drink, and from one end of town to the other. The boys seemed to enjoy the guided tour and at least it kept them out of the house.

‘Where does Matt work?’ Tony asked as we entered the car park behind the arcade.

I looked at my watch. It read five minutes past five.

‘How about we go and have a look,’ I said, and moments later, after we had parked the car we were all walking down the arcade towards Auto Stop.

Matt was serving a customer when we walked in. His eyes lit up when he saw me, then drifted to Tony and then Michael, then back to Tony.

I winked at him.

‘Hey, Matt,’ I said as we walked over to him. ‘Here are those city cousins I was telling you about. This is Tony and this is Michael.’

‘Hi guys,’ he said, shaking both of their hands.

‘Hi,’ they answered.

I noticed that he kept looking at Tony.

‘Hands off,’ I warned him, jokingly.

He looked at me with that mischievous glint in his eye that he got sometimes.

‘How long until you are ready?’ I asked.

‘About fifteen minutes,’ he answered, after looking at his watch.

‘Okay . The car is down the other end of the arcade, about where we usually park. We’ll meet you there if you like. We might just go for a quick wander up the street.’

‘Fine. I’ll see you there shortly.’

As we walked away I glanced back at him and noticed that he was watching us. Or was he just watching Tony? I couldn’t be sure.

Here come those nasty doubts again, I thought.

I dismissed them. But they were persistent little buggers. But every time I looked at Tony myself, they came back. Again. And again. And again.

Was I really going crazy?

 

To be continued . . .

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