After We Danced – 08

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Chapter Eight

Christmas morning. Just bloody wonderful. It was supposed to be a time of joy. A time for families. A time for happiness.

Yeah right!

What it was, was a time of worry. It was a time of sadness. A time when we all just wanted to get the hell out.

Matt and I stayed at mum’s house on Christmas eve, sleeping on our favourite sofa bed in the spare room. On Christmas morning we were all woken up early by Katie, who had got out of bed on this bright sunny morning and was busily going through the presents under the tree, no doubt looking for those that were hers.

Mum tried helping her, but her mind wasn’t on it either, I could see. Nobody else had any interest in the presents, or the joyous day, though.

I looked across at Matt, who was now sitting on the lounge beside me, a mere shadow of his former self. I hardly think he had eaten anything since the day we went to see Harry. His eyes were sunken, with dark circles under them. His face looked haggard.

My beautiful Matt wasn’t there any more. And my heart was breaking for him.

He looked up at me and caught me staring at him. He tried a smile. But it didn’t work.

I turned in my seat and sat facing him, then gently stroked his hair with my hand.

‘Give it time,’ I said to him softly. ‘This isn’t the end of the world, Matt. Things are going to be all right. That’s what you kept telling me, remember. Now I’m telling it to you . . . and I’ll keep telling it to you, over and over again, until you start listening to me.’

‘I wish I had your faith,’ he said to me.

‘You don’t get it do you? You had that same faith when I felt this way. Things have a way of working themselves out, you know.’

‘Yeah, I suppose.’

‘That’s better,’ I said.

I thought back to the day on which we had visited Harry’s office. That was Thursday. Three days ago.

Matt and I had gone with Harry to see the Police that day. Or at least Matt and Harry went to see the police, as Harry had advised against my going in as well.

So while Matt was inside, being grilled by two detectives, his every word being questioned and dissected and recorded, I was waiting nervously outside, listening to the inane sound of Christmas carols drifting out of a nearby store. Jingle Bells had never sounded more monotonous to me than it did on that day, and all I could do was pace up and down and wonder just what was going on within the dark brick walls of that station.

When they finally did emerge, their faces told me all that I needed to know. I could see that things did not go well.

I wanted to rush up to Matt and hug him. To tell him I was there for him. To tell him I loved him.

He just looked at me as he walked through the wrought iron gates, back out on to the street, with what I thought was a tear in his eye. Then he just walked straight past me, so I turned and walked beside him, placing my hand gently on his shoulder.

‘Please don’t,’ he said, quickly stepping away from me and then walking on the other side of Harry.

I tried stepping past him, but Harry just put his hand up to stop me.

‘Just wait until we get back to the office, Luke. I’ll tell you everything then, all right?’

I nodded. I looked at Matt. But he wouldn’t look back at me.

When we had reached the offices of Martin, Lawson & Smith, Harry ushered us into his office and sat us both down again in the comfortable old chairs.

He asked his secretary to bring some coffee in, which she showed up with a few minutes later.

‘Here, drink this,’ he said to Matt, handing him a strong smelling cup. As Matt took it from him I noticed the remnants of black ink that was still on his hands.

I was still looking at that when Harry handed me a cup as well.

After a couple of mouthfulls we both felt a little better, and then Harry started explaining what it was that had happened.

‘There’s no point in getting too upset yet, Matt,’ he started. ‘Okay, so they believed Tony and his mother more than they believed you. That’s not unusual in a case like this. What you have been charged with is Indecent Assault, but it’s at the very low end of the scale. It’s not something that I can see you put away for, or anything like that.’

We both nodded.

‘Now, unless something happens and everything gets dropped, you are going to have to go to court. But because of Christmas and New Year, and the fact that the courts are closed for a period, it’ll be a couple of weeks before any hearing, so you won’t have to appear in court until then. By that time we will have a strategy worked out. And even then, we could possibly get it adjourned to a later date if we needed to.’

‘Why would you do that?’ I asked.

‘Just in case we need to,’ Harry patiently answered. ‘We may need more time or something, so we can cover all bases when we plan what course of action to take. This would just help us to keep our options open.’

‘Oh,’ I said, rather blankly.

‘I want you both to go home now and not think about it, okay? Then come back and see me again after New Year, when we’ll start working things out.’

‘That’s it?’ I said.

Harry looked at me and nodded. ‘Pretty much. There’s not too much else we can do at the moment.’

He then leant across his desk and scribbled a number down on a notepad, tearing off the page and handing it to Matt.

‘If you want anyone to talk to, just give this guy a call. He’s a friend of mine, and he’s a counselor who is experienced in this type of case, his name is Jim Brigstock. If you need to talk, just call him. I’ll let him know about you so he’ll know what it’s all about.’

Matt nodded, but I could see that the idea didn’t thrill him.

‘This sort of case?’ I asked. ‘Just how often does this sort of thing happen?’

‘Much more often than you would think, Luke. But more often than not the outcomes are better than expected, simply because the cases have no credibility, which is just what I expect to happen with this one.’

I reached across and took the piece of paper from Matt and stuck it into my shirt pocket.

‘If you think Matt needs it, make sure that he calls him, Luke,’ Harry said. ‘Or even if you need to talk to someone yourself, just do it. He’ll be only too happy to help out. It’s often helpful to just get things off your chest, no matter how bad you might think things are.’

‘Okay. Thanks,’ I said.

*    *     *

      Like I said. That was Thursday. Three days ago. Things had improved slightly since then. But not much.

Reluctantly, I went back to work on Friday, as I desperately needed the money and couldn’t really afford any more time off, which left Matt at home and alone in the flat. Thursday night had ended up being a restless night for both of us, tossing and turning all night, and when we eventually woke up in the morning we were both still tired.

I felt guilty that I couldn’t be there for him the next day, but I called Matt a couple of times throughout the morning, and also went home at lunch time to see him. He was quiet and wouldn’t say much, but he seemed all right. As well as could be expected anyway.

I made him a sandwich, as he said that he hadn’t eaten anything all morning, but he only nibbled at it and didn’t finish it.

He just sat in the flat, with the television going, but not watching it. He was simply staring at the opposite wall when I arrived.

I had also called his boss that morning and told him that Matt still wasn’t very well, to which I was asked if it had anything to do with our being seen coming out of the Police Station the day before.

‘Ummm . . .’ was all I could manage to stutter.

‘It’s okay, Luke, just come and see me when you get the chance and tell me what happened.’ He paused for a moment and then asked, ‘Ummm . . . you two are sharing a flat now aren’t you?’

‘Errr . . . yes, we are,’ I answered, rather tentatively. ‘Did Matt tell you?’

‘Well, I sort of figured it out. Anyway, if there’s anything I can do to help you both I will. Okay? Just let Matt know that for me, and tell him just to come back whenever he is ready. Or if he wants to talk, anytime at all, just call me.’

‘Thank you,’ I said. ‘Matt will appreciate it. We both appreciate it.’

I still hadn’t told Matt about this conversation, but I felt that I should. I also felt that I should go and explain to his boss and tell him exactly what had happened. If he now knew we were sharing Matt’s flat, then there was a fair chance that he knew more. It didn’t matter if it was Matt who had told him or if he had managed to figure things out for himself. Either way, he probably deserved to know the truth. The question was, would Matt want him to know the full story?

In the end I just said that I had called his work and told his boss that he was still sick.

‘Did he ask what was wrong with me?’

‘He said he was worried about you. And to call him if you wanted to talk,’ I answered, and left it at that.

Matt just nodded.

‘Are you going to be all right this afternoon?’ I asked him, just as I was leaving to go back to work.

He looked at me with those big puppy dog eyes of his, I thought that they were almost pleading with me to stay, but he simply nodded.

‘I’ll be fine,’ he said. ‘You go to work. You need the money.’

‘Money isn’t everything,’ I said to him.

‘Just go, Luke. I’ll be fine. Honest.’

I left him after that, as much as I wanted to stay and hold him and love him. I just had to go, and as weird or as selfish as it may sound, it was probably as much as for me as for anyone else, if only so that I couldn’t be a witness to his heartache and his tears.

Funnily enough, all I could think about all afternoon was Matt. And about us.

Thoughts of all persuasions bounced around in my head all afternoon. Then finally, it dawned on me, somewhere between packing the breakfast cereals and the dog food: This was a test. A test of the highest order, I reasoned. And if our relationship managed to survive this, then it would be able to survive anything. I was sure of that.

*     *     *

      I rushed home that afternoon after work, but when I got there, I found that the flat was empty. The television and lights were still on, but there was no sign of Matt anywhere.

I ran up to his parents house to see if he was there, but they thought he was still down at the flat, as they had also seen the lights on inside and heard the television.

‘Shit,’ I said, while pacing up and down their back verandah. ‘Where could he have gone?’

‘Calm down Luke,’ his mother said, while putting her arms around my shoulders and trying to comfort me. ‘I’m sure he wouldn’t have gone far.’

As I looked up, I caught his parents exchange nervous glances. They were obviously just as worried as I was.

‘He was pretty strung out at lunch time,’ I said. ‘I can’t stay here. I’m going for a drive around to see if I can find him.’

‘We’ll go and look too,’ I heard his father call out, but by that time I was already sprinting back down to where Matt’s car was parked, and when I reached it I just jumped in and started the motor.

I had absolutely no idea where to look, but seeing as the last time I went looking for him I ended up at Central Park, I decided that was as good a place to start as any.

When I got there and parked the car it was almost dusk, and I could see a summer storm building up in the southern skies. It was that eerie time when it is neither daylight nor dark, when the late afternoon sun starts playing tricks on you. The impending storm certainly didn’t help.

I looked around there for about fifteen minutes but came up empty handed. I even checked inside the toilets, in spite of my own fears of re-entering that fearful place. When I nervously entered the dark brick building I found that there were no lights in there, but there was also nothing and nobody there. No one at all.

Not really knowing where to go next, I headed for the shopping centre. Maybe he went to see his boss, I thought. No luck there either. His boss wanted me to stay and talk, about what was going on no doubt, but I told him that I really had to go.

‘Just let me know if you need some help,’ he said as I left the store.

Shit, I thought. Where could he be?

I tried Dwayne’s place. No one was home there at all.

I tried Phil’s place. He was away, his parents said, and no, they hadn’t seen Matt either. Matt’s parents had already called around there and asked.

I cruised the streets for what seemed like ages, but there was no sign of him anywhere, and I was fast running out of options.

It had been a couple of hours now, and what little light there had been had now all but disappeared. It was almost totally dark, and the clouds above us were growing heavier. I could see their foreboding shapes rolling about overhead. Every now and then I heard a distant clap of thunder, or saw a flash of lightning streak across the sky.

I didn’t like the look of this. Nor did I like the thought of Matt being anywhere but at home right now.

Home. Maybe I should check there again, just in case he had made it back there and I was racing around for no reason at all.

As I pointed the car in that direction a brilliant streak of lightning suddenly lit up the sky, running from east to west and disappearing behind the cliffs above the town.

The cliffs, I suddenly thought. The lookout!

‘Shit,’ I said aloud and spun the car off onto the Lookout Road just before I missed it. Someone blew their horn at me as I cut them off, but I didn’t care, I just put my foot to the floor and sped up the side of the mountain in no time flat. It was worth a look, if nothing else, I thought. However improbable.

By the time I got to the top it was raining and dark. There were lights on in the car park and along the path up to the lookout itself. I got out and called his name.

‘Matt,’ I called out. ‘Matt.’

But the sound of my voice seemed merely to be drowned out by the rain and the howling winds. I ran up the path towards the top of the lookout.

In spite of the rain and the wind, surprisingly it wasn’t cold up on the mountain, it was still the middle of summer after all, but nonetheless it wasn’t a pleasant night to be out in.

Another streak of lightning lit up the night sky, and then I saw him. A lonely figure, sitting on the edge of oblivion. Soaked to the bone, his t-shirt clinging to him like another skin, his hair all matted and wet.

I ran across to him and then stopped, before sitting down on the granite boulder beside him. He looked at me for a moment as I sat down, but said nothing.

‘Decide to go for a walk?’ I finally asked him.

He looked across at me. He didn’t seem surprised. He just seemed afraid and confused.

I picked his hand up, then brought it to my lips and kissed it.

‘I . . . I . . .’ he began to say.

‘Sssshh,’ I said. ‘You don’t have to say anything. It’s okay. I’m here now.’

He looked back out towards the town lights, which were stretched out below us like diamonds against black velvet.

We were sitting at least one hundred metres above the town, with a drop directly in front of us of at least half that distance onto wild scrub and jagged rocks. There had been several documented jumps in recent years. These cliffs just seemed to call out to the unfortunate. I thanked the lord that I had made it before there was another name added to the list.

‘I thought about it you know,’ he said in a matter-of-fact way, after a long silence, which was broken only by the winds.

‘I don’t blame you,’ I said to him. ‘Anyone would think the same thing in this situation.’

‘I just sat here for a long time, but then I started asking myself, why? And then it started to rain. And the lightening came. And I was just scared shitless. I’ve been sitting here crying for the last half an hour, hoping that you would come and save me.’

‘I’m here now,’ I said.

He dropped his head onto my shoulder and I put my arm around him.

‘I’m so sorry,’ he said.

‘Don’t be. I’m just glad I found you and you’re safe.’

‘Thank you.’

‘Come on,’ I said. ‘Let’s just go home.’

*     *     *

      As we drove back down the mountain, with both of us sitting in the car soaking wet, Matt made me promise that I wouldn’t tell anyone where I had found him. I couldn’t not do what he requested, so I just kept it to myself and told everyone I had picked him up on the street walking home in the rain.

His parents looked at me somewhat doubtfully when we both landed on their back verandah, especially taking into consideration my own state of dampness. I had expected the full inquisition, but they thankfully said nothing more.

We all fussed over Matt for the next two days, as nobody wanted to leave him alone. I think by the Saturday afternoon it was starting to irritate him, but we all just wanted to make sure that he was all right, and if smothering him with affection was what we had to do to achieve that, then so be it.

After he complained to me once, I explained that it was because we loved him and wanted him safe, and back to his cheerful best. He simply nodded his understanding of that, but said nothing more.

*     *     *

      Which brings us back to the present. To Christmas.

Last night was Christmas Eve, and we had dinner with Matt’s parents. It was a fairly quiet and somber occasion, with Matt still not eating much. Then afterwards we came over to Mum’s to stay the night.

For today, Christmas Day, we had all planned to have Christmas lunch at Matt’s parent’s place; even mum and Katie had been invited, so it would be a gathering of both of our families. If it hadn’t been for how Matt was feeling now I would have actually been looking forward to today, but given the current circumstances, it wasn’t going to be easy. It was going to be a long day and there was bound to be some tension, but I was determined that we would both make it through to the end.

As we now sat and watched her, Katie sorted all of the presents out into separate little piles for each person. As always, she was eager to dive in and open them all, however we had a family tradition where none were allowed to be opened until after breakfast, and mum was determined that despite the now changed state of our family there would be no break from tradition this year.

After all the presents had been sorted mum got up and said it was time for breakfast.

‘Come and give me a hand please, Luke,’ she asked, so I got up and followed her into the kitchen to help.

Matt stayed on the lounge chair and started talking to Katie. I tried listening to what they were saying but they were only talking very softly so I only caught a few words.

I heard Katie say something like, ‘Don’t be sad, Matt,’ and turned around in time to see her jump up and sit beside him on the lounge chair, throwing her arms around him and giving him a huge cuddle.

He looked up at me just as she did this and I caught his smile. Not the old, full blown, double barreled Matthew Parsons smile that I had known for so long, but had only recently fallen in love with, but a smile, nonetheless.

Near enough, I thought. Near enough. I gave him a thumbs up sign and he smiled back.

‘That’s my boy,’ I whispered.

‘That’s good to see,’ mum said softly from behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see her smiling too. She put her arms around me and gave me a cuddle and a kiss on the cheek.

‘Merry Christmas, Luke,’ she said to me.

‘Merry Christmas, mum.’

Maybe Christmas wouldn’t be quite so bad after all.

After breakfast was over and the washing up done, then, and only then, were we permitted to start looking at the presents.

Katie was first into the lounge room and was given the official job of passing them all around, so one by one we were soon handed the bright packages with our names on them.

I had made sure that there were some presents there for Matt as well, and while the old Matt wasn’t quite back with us yet, the look on his face when he opened his first was enough to let me know that he was on the way back. The present, which turned out to be from mum, was one of those car care gift packs which included polish and car wash and tyre black and air freshener and a few other things.

He thanked her and gave her a big hug.

I felt like jumping up and going, ‘Yippee,’ but thought better of it. I settled on a broad smile, which was soon returned.

Yep, my Matt was definitely on the way back. Once again I had cause to be happy.

*     *     *

      Christmas lunch was grand, and that’s all I can really say about it.

Matt’s parents were over the moon about the new light that they found shining from their son. The transformation in the past twenty-four hours was considerable, although we were all quite careful not to mention anything more about what had happened, or what was going to happen.

There were more presents to be opened and once again we saw Matt smiling. His father came up from behind me and put his arm around me, resting his hand on my shoulder.

‘Remarkable,’ he said quietly. ‘Just remarkable. Whatever it is you’ve done, son, it has worked. Thank you.’

He moved on before I had even realised what he had said. He called me son. Now there was progress for you.

*     *     *

      When we returned to mum’s place later in the afternoon, we found another Christmas surprise waiting for us. One that was totally unexpected. One that even shocked us.

There, sitting on the back steps of the house, dressed in his Sunday best, clutching a bundle of Christmas presents and with his hair combed neatly, was my father.

My blood ran cold when I saw him there. And the new found smile on Matt’s face soon died as well.

Katie was the first out of the car, running straight across to wrap her arms around him in a huge bear hug.

Mum tried to stop her, but she was too late.

‘Merry Christmas, daddy,’ Katie said, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

‘Merry Christmas, pumpkin. Here you go, I bought you something,’ he said to her as he hugged her back then handed her a present.

She quickly sat down on the steps and started tearing off the wrapping. As she did this, dad walked over toward where the three of us were standing by the car.

‘Merry Christmas,’ he said to us.

He leant forward and gave mum a kiss on the cheek, then he extended his hand towards me, which, after a long hesitation, I reluctantly shook.

He offered his hand to Matt as well, but he just stood there with his arms folded.

Forgiveness had to be earned, I thought.

‘Well, I just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas, and say I was sorry for everything that happened,’ he said to us. Then he turned and started back down the driveway.

I looked across at my mother and could see her almost in tears.

I don’t know why I did it, but I just put my hand on her back and pushed her forward a step. She stopped, then turned back and looked at me.

‘Go on,’ I whispered.

She hesitated for a moment, then turned and spoke to him. ‘Tom . . . ummm . . . don’t . . . ummm . . . go. Not just yet,’ she said.

Matt was glaring at me, but I didn’t care. I’d had a lot of time to think about things over the past few weeks, and the one thing that had stuck in my mind was that day when he had visited the house and picked up his clothes. After thinking about it, I honestly thought that on that day he was truly sorry, but my own anger and hatred was what had stopped me from reaching out to him then.

I didn’t want to make the same mistake twice.

‘What are you doing?’ Matt forcefully whispered into my ear.

‘Just trust me, Matt,’ I answered. ‘Please.’

He stood back, shaking his head. ‘I hope you know what you’re doing.’

I hoped so too.

Dad stopped and turned around, looking from mum to me and then to Matt. Then back to mum again.

Mum walked over to him, clutching her hands together in front of her like a nervous school girl asking a boy for a first dance.

‘Would you like to come inside?’ she said to him, rather nervously.

He looked directly across mum’s shoulder, towards me, when she asked this. It was almost like he was asking my permission.

I simply nodded, and he nodded back, then followed my mother inside.

‘Are you fucking crazy?’ Matt asked me after they were safely inside.

‘I know what you are thinking. And you are probably right . . .’

‘Then why?’ he asked, cutting me off before I could complete the sentence.

‘Because I know that deep down he is sorry, Matt. You didn’t see him the day he picked up his clothes. I almost ran after him and hugged him, as he was leaving.’

He just shook his head at me.

‘Come on, Matt,’ I said as I stood in front of him and took his hands in mine. ‘I’ve never, ever, seen him do anything like that before in all his life. I can understand why he went off the deep end. I don’t condone it or agree with it, after all it was me that was on the receiving end, but I understand it. He deserves a chance at least.’

‘I just hope you’re right,’ he said.

‘So do I, mate. So do I.’

We stayed outside while my parents were inside, as I didn’t want to intrude. If their relationship was to mend at all, and return to anything that resembled what it had once been, I didn’t want to be around to complicate things.

After all, I no longer lived there and I have my own life to worry about now, so I believed that they deserved the chance to work things in their own lives out for themselves.

‘How about we go for a walk?’ I asked Matt.

‘They going to be all right?’ he asked me.

I looked up towards the house and through the windows I could see them both sitting inside the kitchen, with Katie sitting on my fathers lap, cuddling him.

‘I think so,’ I said to him, with a slight smile coming to my face.

We walked out of the yard then turned up the street, and as I did so I slipped my hand into Matt’s.

He looked across at me and grinned, obviously surprised by my move. ‘You sure about this?’ he asked.

‘Yeah,’ I answered. ‘It’s about time.’

*     *     *

      The streets were quiet and we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around the block. My newfound bravado lasted until at least the main intersection at the end of our block, where we were confronted with a group of people standing out on the sidewalk saying their good byes after their Christmas get together.

We got a few funny looks when some of them noticed us holding hands, and I even heard the word poofters mentioned quietly as we stepped out onto the street to pass them, but nothing came of it. At pretty much the same time, both Matt and I let out the deep breaths we had been holding in, and walked on.

I seemed to remember someone once saying something like, ‘All great journeys start with one small step.’

Well, this was our great journey, and after what had been a bumpy start, we were now well on our way.

When we got back to the house, once again holding hands and content with the renewed strength we found in each other, we found that my father was still there. I suppose that I had been hoping he would be gone, so that there wouldn’t be any chance of a scene, but that proven to not be the case.

He and mum and Katie were sitting out in the back yard, in the shade of one of the pine trees that we had growing there, when we walked up the drive way, still holding hands.

‘Oh, well,’ Matt said to me as we looked up and saw them all watching us approach. ‘It’s now or never, I suppose.’

‘Let’s just see what happens,’ I said to him.

As Matt and I sat down on one of the two-seater chairs, mum and Katie got to their feet.

‘We’ll leave you boys to it then,’ mum said to us. My father just nodded and the three of us simply sat there and watched them both disappear inside.

I looked across at my father, who was leaning forward in his seat, intently studying his hands, which seemed to be shaking slightly.

Matt and I looked at each other, both unsure as to what was coming.

‘I . . . I . . . I just wanted to apologise to you boys,’ my father finally said. ‘To both of you.’

‘There’s no . . .’ I started to say, but he held his hand up.

‘Please, Luke . . . just let me finish.’

‘All right.’

After hesitating for a moment, he continued.

‘I was wrong,’ he said. ‘I shouldn’t have reacted like I did. It was just that I’m a fairly old fashioned person and what you boys . . . I mean . . . well, it’s just not something I’m used to, or was brought up with.’

‘It’s all right,’ I said to him. ‘You don’t have to apologise.’

‘Yes, I do,’ he replied. ‘I was wrong. I went right off the handle without giving you a chance. All I was worried about was how I felt, not how you felt. How either of you felt.’

Matt and I just looked at each other. I think we were both still in a state of shock.

‘I don’t really expect forgiveness, from either of you. I just want you to understand that I am human too, and that you both have my full support, for what that is worth. As hard as it is for me to understand, I know that you do, well . . . love each other. And it’s your choice. I can’t, or won’t stand in your way. You have your own lives to lead now.’

That was probably the longest speech that I had ever heard my father make, and it was most likely the hardest speech that he had ever had to make.

Matt and I just looked at each other. Neither of us knew what to say, or do.

Dad stood up and looked down at both of us and smiled. It was the first time I had seen him do that in, well, I don’t know how long. All I could do was smile back at him.

Without another word, he simply nodded then started to walk away.

‘Dad. Wait,’ I called to him.

He stopped and turned around, so I got up and walked over to him.

‘Thank you,’ I said, extending my hand for him to shake.

He reached out and took the offered limb, then pulled me to him and hugged me.

‘I’m just so sorry for what I did to you,’ he whispered into my ear.

‘It’s okay,’ I said.

When we finally let go of each other, he walked straight back over to Matt and offered him his hand, to which Matt stood up and shook it.

They smiled at each other, then they too hugged. It seemed that it was getting infectious.

‘I’m going to go now,’ he said to us both. ‘Luke, your mother and I have worked things out, but I won’t be back for a few days.’

‘You are coming back then?’ I asked him.

‘Yes,’ he answered. ‘I have a lot of bridges to rebuild, but I will be back.’

‘I’m glad,’ I answered.

As he walked down the driveway I looked up towards the kitchen window, where I saw my mother standing. She was smiling and when she saw me look at her she gave me the thumbs up signal.

I gave her the same signal in return, then watched my father as he walked out of our yard.

*     *     *

      The next few days were rather quiet and as time moved on, Matt started to seem more and more like his old, cheerful self. We had both done what Harry had told us, and as best we could we put the recent events out of our minds, and it seemed to be working.

For the busy period between Christmas and New Year we both returned to work, as this was the time when all of the major stores held their biggest sales of the year. For that week we were run off our feet, and it didn’t give us a chance to think about anything else.

Very little was said about our absence by our employers, for which we were both grateful. Our roller coaster life had reached straight tracks once again, although we couldn’t help but wonder when the next wicked curve or loop would present itself to us.

We hadn’t really seen any of our friends over the Christmas period. Dwayne and DJ had decided to go away for a few quiet days to themselves, which we only found out about after they had returned, while Hoss had gone away with his family, visiting relatives in the city.

As a result, none of them knew a thing about what had happened to us in the previous week, and when we recounted the story over lunch one day at Con’s place, they were all, naturally enough, quite shocked.

It was Matt who did all the talking and he handled it way better than I had expected. There was no sign of any emotion at all as he explained what happened the night that Tony and his mother and brother arrived, then our visit to the Police Station and to Harry’s office.

When, on top of this, I told them about my father they were just bowled over.

‘Christ,’ DJ said. ‘And we missed it all.’

For the first time in I don’t know how long, I heard Matt laugh. It was a sound that was just so sweet and so beautiful, and I hadn’t realised just how much that I had missed it.

Over the weekend that followed, neither of us had to work, and my father moved back into the house with mum. Matt and I kept a fairly low profile, staying at our own flat for most of the time, and allowing them all the time they needed, although we did call over and check on them on the Saturday night, taking some take-away food over with us.

It seemed so strange to me that, for the first time in my life, I was standing on the outside of their marriage looking in. What I saw were two people that had once been so deeply in love, now re-discovering each other. It was like two lovers who had been inseparable as teenagers meeting again after twenty years, and rekindling their youthful romance.

I found it both amusing and sad, yet I was pleased that some sense of normality was returning to my family.

After we had eaten and cleared away the dishes it was still early, so Matt and I offered to take Katie to the movies.

‘For real?’ she said.

‘Yeah, kiddo,’ I answered.

‘That would be nice,’ my mother said, from where she sat beside my father on the lounge.

We left them as they were and drove down town to the cinema, finding a parking space out front and just making it in time for one of the special holiday screenings of some flick that was aimed at kids.

We stocked up on drinks and pop-corn from the snack bar, then found ourselves some seats in the back row of the cinema which, as it turned out, was fairly empty. From what I can now remember of the movie, it was funny, but I have to admit that I found it difficult to concentrate on what was on the screen. This was mainly due to the fact that I had Katie on one side of me munching on pop-corn and slurping on her drink, while Matt was on the other side of me with his head resting on my shoulder for most of the movie. See what I mean?

Anyway, we had an enjoyable night out and when it was over we headed out to the car and then drove Katie home.

The trip there, although fairly short, was a strange one, as people kept looking at us with curious expressions as they passed our car. The driver of one car, which looked to be filled with young people out for a good time, even started blowing their horn at us. We could hear them laughing, apparently at us, but we didn’t think too much of it. We thought that maybe it was just someone who knew about us and had recognised us. Who knows?

When we reached my parents’ house we dropped Katie off and then, after seeing that she was safely inside, headed for our home, where I think we both had plans for the rest of the night.

*     *     *

      It had been another hot summer day, which had now turned into another hot summer night. Earlier, we had left the windows of the flat open to try and keep it at least a little cool, but when we arrived home and walked inside however, we found that it was like a sauna.

Matt quickly turned on the fan, then almost as quickly started stripping off his clothes.

‘You been reading my mind again?’ I asked him as I started to do the same.

He just smiled at me, and then switched out the lights.

There was some moonlight coming in through the windows, and he soon came to me in the semi-darkness, placing his hands on my hips and pulling me to him, our groins rubbing together and sending waves of pleasure through each others bodies.

I kissed him, eager and hot and filled with the anticipation of his filling me.

Slowly we stepped towards the bed, our lips locked together. It was almost like a waltz as we crossed the room. Our hands were touching each other all over, feeling each other, exploring each other. We were both filled with a hunger that neither of us had felt in days, or possibly weeks. Our desire for each other was now renewed, and in the heat of the night our passion was once again ignited.

As we waltzed across the room towards our bed, the cool breeze from the fan touched our hot skin and sent a shiver through us both. Then we were there, as my legs had come up against the edge of the bed.

Slowly I started to lower myself down. Our lips were still working against each other as Matt came down to the level of the bed with me.

Finally we separated, gasping for breath, and I lay back against the mattress. Matt reached down and snaked his tongue around my nipples, first one and then the other, which sent a convulsion through my body.

‘You liked that?’ he whispered into the darkness.

‘You know I do!’ I moaned.

So he did it again.

‘That’s not fair,’ I whispered back to him.

He moved his head lower down my body. I could feel his hot breath, then I shuddered as I felt the tip of his tongue snake its way along the length of my shaft.

‘Don’t stop,’ I said to him.

I heard him chuckle softly, then I felt him swallow me, taking my whole length into his mouth. At the same time I felt his hand sliding under me, and his finger eagerly searching for my hole. After that, I remember very little, except being swept up in a whirlwind of emotion and beautiful sensations.

*     *     *

      There were birds singing and the sun was shining the next morning when we heard the knock at the door and were woken up.

The curtains were gently being blown in and out I looked across at the alarm clock, which showed it to be a little after eight thirty.

We both must have thought that we had dreamed the sound of the knock on the door, as neither of us made any move to get up, we just stayed where we were, with Matt snuggled in close to my back, with his hand draped over me and gently massaging my hard cock. I could also feel his own hardness, which was rubbing against my buttocks.

Then it came again. Knock, knock, knock. Which was followed then by Matt’s father calling out and saying, ‘Are you boys in there?’

‘Yeah, hang on,’ Matt called back out to him, then he sat up and swung his legs over the side of our bed. He ran his hands through his hair and rubbed his eyes before standing up, naked and, as always, looking like a Greek god.

As he walked out of our room towards the main door he reached across and picked up a towel, which had been hanging over the back of a chair, loosely wrapping it around his waist as he walked. I caught a brief glimpse of his erection tenting out the towel, and smiled at the thought of his father seeing this and wondered at what his reaction would be.

I couldn’t help myself, I jumped up out of bed and walked across the to the doorway, sticking my head around the corner to see what happened, being careful to keep my body, and my own erection, well hidden.

I saw Matt open the door and I saw his father standing there. He looked his near naked son up and down, his eyes settling briefly on the bulge in the towel, before returning to his face.

‘Get yourself dressed,’ he said rather tersely. ‘There is something you need to see.’

Matt shut the door and then we both dressed quickly, pulling on shorts and tees. Our early morning hard-on’s went into full reverse, and when we emerged from the flat a few minutes later we found Matt’s father leaning up against his car.

‘What’s up?’ Matt asked.

‘You better take a look at the back of your car,’ he answered.

My mind immediately went back to last night and the strange looks and jeers that we had received whilst taking Katie home.

Matt walked straight around to the back of his pride and joy, and straight away I saw the expression on his face change from one of curiosity to total shock.

‘What is it?’ I asked him, still walking. I had been a few steps behind him and so had the chance to see his reaction before I had even reached him.

He just looked at me and was almost crying.

‘What?’ I asked.

When I got to where he stood and finally had the chance to see what it was that had shocked him so much, I was hit with the exact same reaction.

There, across the back of the car, written in bright pink spray paint, were two words.

‘Poofter,’ was the first word.

‘Faggot,’ was the second.

I placed my hand on Matt’s shoulder, and I could feel him shaking. He looked up at me, his eyes brimming with tears.

‘Who would do this?’ he asked.

I just shook my head. I was so angry that I couldn’t speak. I wanted to break something.

Or someone.

To be continued . . .

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