Dwayne walked in, right behind DJ. Apparently it was almost lunch time.
‘So, what have you guys been up to?’ DJ asked again.
‘Nothing we really want to tell you about,’ I cheekily answered. ‘As a matter of fact we were still in bed, until we were woken up by doofus over here.’
‘Hey, don’t call me that, Boxhead,’ Hoss said.
Dwayne looked through into the bedroom and saw the clothes and sheets and blankets scattered everywhere, then just grinned at Matt and me.
I think I blushed. Matt just looked at his feet and shuffled from one foot to the other.
‘Okay, so how did you pair go with your exams?’ DJ asked.
Matt grinned at him, but just said ‘All right, I suppose. What about you?’
‘Just scraped through. An 83,’ he replied, before asking me, ‘What about you genius?’
‘Shit, you really are a genius!’ he exclaimed.
I just shook my head.
‘How about you Hoss?’ Matt asked. ‘How did you go?’
‘75,’ he answered, but not too enthusiastically.
‘Cool,’ Matt replied.
‘So, are you going to finish the car today, or what?’ DJ asked.
‘Yeah, well at least I hope to get a bit more done. We were just about to get started. Want to help?’
‘Sure,’ he answered.
‘How about you guys go and do that and I’ll go get something for lunch,’ I said to them.
‘Sure thing,’ Matt said. ‘You and Hoss go, if you like.’
Hoss looked at me sideways, with his eyebrows raised slightly, then nodded and dug into his pockets, bringing out his car keys.
‘Good idea,’ he said.
We left them then, still standing in the kitchen talking, and drove down to the shopping centre. The plan was to pick up a barbeque chicken or something for lunch. Something that was nice and easy, and quick.
On our way down there we started talking again.
‘So, how come you haven’t said anything about this before?’ I asked him, as we walked form the car to the shop. ‘I mean, even after Matt and I came out, you still didn’t say anything.’
Hoss just shrugged his shoulders.
We placed our order and then went and sat in one of the booths.
‘I guess that I wasn’t really sure, before this,’ he said to me. ‘I mean, I didn’t want to think that that was how I was. I guess that’s partly why I kept hanging with Davo instead of you guys.’
‘You don’t have to do it all alone, you know,’ I said, hoping that he would open up a little more.
‘I know,’ he answered.
‘It’s just that it’s not as easy as that.’
‘Well, I don’t have a boyfriend for starters. So if anyone found out, or if I told them that I am gay, then they probably wouldn’t believe me anyway. Given the fact that I’m mates with you guys, they would probably just think it was some sort of stunt. And if my parents found out, well, I don’t even want to go there . . .’
I started laughing at him.
‘What’s so funny?’ he said, his voice filled with indignation.
‘You just said the magic words,’ I answered. He looked at me quizzically. ‘I am gay,’ I added.
He managed half a smile.
‘Phil is pretty cute,’ I offered.
‘And engaged,’ he replied.
‘You can’t win ‘em all.’
‘No, you can’t,’ he said with a sly grin.
‘Plenty of fish still left in the sea, though!’
‘Errr . . . Luke, if you hadn’t noticed already, we’re about two hundred miles from the sea,’ he grinned.
Just then the girl from behind the counter called out, ‘Chicken, chips and salads?’ and seeing as we were the only people who were actually in the shop at the time, I guess it was our order that was now ready.
We got up and paid for the food, then headed back to where we had parked the car.
When we got back to our flat a little while later, it looked like there had been plenty of activity. The car was once again backed into the garage and was now half covered with paper, while the offending strip of grey primer had been sanded as smooth as a baby’s backside.
‘Nearly ready,’ Matt said, rather proudly, as we walked into the garage.
I stood and looked at the car, then grinned at him. ‘Pretty cool.’
He came up from behind me and gave me a hug, not caring about the other guys that were around us.
‘What was that for?’ I asked.
‘Do I need a reason?’
‘Not at all, my love. Not at all,’ I answered.
Matt gave me a quick kiss on the side of the neck, to which DJ responded by throwing a rag at us.
‘Next time it will be a bucket of water,’ he added.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ Dwayne asked him, grabbing him from behind in a bear hug as well. ‘You afraid of a little fooling around?’
‘Knock it off,’ DJ tried to say, but Dwayne, who was bigger than him, held him easily. He even managed to spin DJ around and pin him against the car, planting a kiss squarely on his lips.
DJ stopped struggling and kissed him back, then stopped. Suddenly, we all looked at Hoss.
He was the odd man out. And we could tell by the look on his face that he felt it.
* * *
We carried our table from the kitchen out into the sun, and sat around it to eat. The meal wasn’t quite as fancy as what we’d had at Dwayne’s place through the week, but it did the job and left us satisfied.
After we had finished and were just sitting there, basking in the sun, the conversation turned towards what the future was going to hold, as it so often did these days.
Somebody said something about the times of old, when everyone was pretty much guaranteed a job after they left school.
‘That’s just it,’ Dwayne offered. ‘There are just no guarantees anymore.’
‘What do you mean?’ I asked him.
‘Well,’ he responded. ‘I just mean that it’s not like it was fifty years ago. There are no guarantees when it comes to getting a job, or even receiving an education, these days. You are among the lucky ones, Luke. You know what it is you want to do and are going to have the opportunity to do it, but not everyone has the luxury of being able to make the choices you do.’
I nodded and took a sip of the Coca-Cola that was in front of me, and then started thinking about the guys who were sitting around the table right at this moment.
Matt had a job, but if we left here together and both moved away to wherever I ended up going to university, he might not find one there. While DJ had Dwayne to work for, and keep an eye on him.
Out of all of us, Hoss was the only one amongst us who didn’t seem to have any real direction mapped out for his life. I suddenly feared for his future, and wondered who, if anyone, was to blame.
‘Whose fault is that then?’ I finally asked.
Dwayne just shook his head. ‘It’s really no one’s fault. It’s simply a combination of too much unemployment and the lack of opportunities for people to further their education. I know guys who have been on social security pretty much ever since they left school, but it’s not because they are dead heads; some of them even managed to put themselves through university and have degrees. But now, they are out there every day of the week trying to get a job. There just aren’t enough to go around. Especially out here in the country.’
It was a sobering thought.
I realised then, that even if I did manage to graduate and finish the course I was hoping to do, there was still a chance that I might not get a decent job anyway.
Yes, very sobering thoughts indeed.
‘Okay. Time to change the subject,’ Matt suddenly said. ‘This is getting too depressing.’
‘Too bloody right,’ Hoss added.
We all laughed, but deep down I was still fearful about what the future would hold for Matt and me, and for our friends.
‘So, Matt, have you seen Phil lately?’ DJ asked.
‘Nope. I was hoping he might call around some time though, so I could ask him a few things about finishing the car off.’
I looked at Hoss after Phil’s name had been mentioned, and thought I noticed him snap to attention. I smiled to myself and just then he looked at me, and smiled back.
‘Speaking of the car, are we going to hit it with another coat of paint today, or what?’ DJ asked.
‘Yeah. Now is as good a time as any, I suppose. You going to come and help?’ Matt asked him as he got up from his chair.
We all got up and while Matt, DJ and Dwayne started off towards the garage, Hoss and I picked up the plates from the table and started to carry them inside.
‘We’ll be over in a few minutes,’ I said to Matt.
‘Okay,’ he answered.
As we were carrying the table back inside, it was on the tip of my tongue to ask Hoss what he really thought about Phil, but finally I decided against it. I would talk to him about it later, I thought.
When we joined the others in the garage a little while later, after we had packed all the plates into the sink and thrown the scraps into the garbage, the guys were just getting ready to give the car its first coat of paint.
We watched for a couple of minutes, as they filled the bowl of the spray gun, then Hoss said, ‘Well guys, I’m going to have to run, but I’ll call back over later on this afternoon, all right?’
‘Maybe Phil, will be here then?’ DJ teased.
‘Yeah, whatever,’ Hoss said.
We all said, goodbye and then he left us.
‘You just can’t help yourself, can you?’ Dwayne said to DJ, giving him a clip up the back of the head as he said it.
He just grinned, while the rest of us simply shook our heads.
Matt quickly turned his attention back to the spray gun he was holding, and finished attaching the nozzle and bowl of paint.
‘Pass me that piece of board, will you Luke?’ he said to me, pointing at a scrap of timber leaning against the wall near to where I was standing.
It was about six inches wide and about two feet long, and I picked it up and handed it to him.
He gave the spray gun a couple of test fires, then sprayed one side of the timber, applying short bursts of spray while moving the gun smoothly from one side to the other.
He glanced up at me and must have seen the quizzical expression I had on my face.
‘Just practicing,’ he said to me, then, after putting a face mask on, he turned his attention to the car.
We all watched as he easily covered the grey primer with the black acrylic paint, using those same smooth strokes that he had used on the practice strip.
Within a couple of minutes the first coat was done, and Matt pulled off his face mask and stood back, admiring his handiwork.
‘Looks good,’ I said to him.
He just looked up and grinned.
* * *
Phil and his fiancee, Candice, arrived just as we had finished cleaning up and had packed away most of the gear that Matt had used.
‘Good job,’ Phil said, as he took a closer look at the car.
Candice, who even I had to admit was a real knockout, remained at the doorway. She smiled and waved and said, ‘Hi,’ and gave me the impression that she didn’t want to enter this boy’s world. She was more like a Barbie Doll than any other girl that I can remember having met; tall, blonde, kind of fragile looking, but with just the prettiest eyes.
But I wasn’t interested in her. I wasn’t even interested in her boyfriend any more. But I knew who was, and when he got back, I guessed that he wouldn’t be able to take his eyes off him.
I almost laughed at that thought. But didn’t.
Dwayne, who hadn’t met Candice before, walked over and introduced himself to her. They talked briefly, while Phil was still taking a look at the car, but after only a few minutes I could see that Candice was growing impatient.
‘Phil, are you going to be long?’ she asked, in this whiney little voice that really didn’t suit her. ‘You know I wanted to go and see mother today.’
‘Just hang on a minute, will you?’ he answered.
Candice just stood there with her arms crossed, glaring at him.
‘Here, how about you take the car and go around to your parents’ house, and I’ll get one of the boys to give me a lift around there later,’ Phil said, walking over to her and handing her the keys to his own car.
She took them from him and marched off down the driveway, and as Phil turned back around to face us he let out a huge sigh.
‘Women,’ he simply said.
We all laughed.
‘So, Phil,’ Matt asked him. ‘When are you and Candy getting hitched?’
He shrugged, before finally saying, ‘Who knows?’
‘Oh,’ Matt replied. ‘Trouble in paradise?’
‘So, how many coats is this?’ Phil asked, quickly changing the subject.
‘That’s only the first coat of the acrylic, and there were two coats of primer under that. But that was on top of what was already there, ‘cause I didn’t take it back to bare metal.’
Phil just nodded.
‘Now all I’ve got to do is wait ‘til this dries, then smooth it back, before I hit it with the final coat of acrylic. Then after that it just needs a couple of coats of ‘clear’ to give it a bit of finish.’
‘You’re doing a good job, Matt. Get any help from any of your apprentices?’ he said, jerking his head in the general direction of where Dwayne and DJ and I were standing.
‘Naaww. Not much,’ Matt answered, with a grin.
‘Hey, Phil,’ DJ suddenly asked. ‘Has Matt told you that you have an admirer?’
‘Shut up, dick brain,’ Matt hissed at him.
‘Yeah?’ Phil enquired. ‘Who is it?’
‘Nobody,’ Matt answered. ‘It’s nobody.’
Phil looked from one of us to the other, then just shrugged his shoulders and went back to looking at the car.
* * *
Hoss returned later that afternoon, carrying with him half a carton of cold beer.
‘You little ripper,’ Phil said, as he noticed Hoss walk into the shed. ‘Just what the doctor ordered on a day like this.’
Hoss grinned at him. ‘Thought you guys could do with some refreshments.’
He set the beer down on the work bench and soon dipped into the carton, handing a bottle to each of us.
‘Thanks . . . nobody,’ DJ said as Hoss passed him a beer.
‘Fuck you too,’ Hoss replied. ‘What’s his problem?’ he asked me as he passed me a bottle.
‘Don’t worry about him,’ I answered. ‘You know what he can be like sometimes.’
The exchange didn’t go un-noticed however, and a few moments later I glanced at Phil. He was eyeing Hoss off with what looked to be a predatory look . . . you know, like a fox might have when he is about to pounce on a rabbit? Moments later he started walking over towards him.
I walked over and stood beside Matt, placing my hand on his shoulder. ‘I don’t think it’s a very good idea,’ I whispered to him.
‘Nothing will happen. He’s engaged remember?’ he answered. ‘And besides, even if it does, they’re big kids and they’ll be able to sort it out for themselves.’
‘I hope you are right. I just wouldn’t want to see Hoss get hurt, that’s all,’ I replied.
‘Neither would I, babe,’ he answered. ‘Neither would I.’
We all sat outside the garage for the next couple of hours, talking, telling jokes and drinking beer. We’d only had half of one carton to share between the six of us, which was only a couple of stubbies each anyway. Even then, however, Dwayne and Hoss and I only had one bottle each, which left a few others for the rest of the boys to fight over.
Still, it was hardly enough for anyone to get pissed on, but we had an enjoyable afternoon.
Without realising it, I had apparently spent most of the afternoon watching Phil and Hoss. It wasn’t until Matt whispered something into my ear that I even knew I had been doing it.
‘What?’ I said to him, not fully having heard what he had said.
‘I said, stop staring! They will be all right. They can look after themselves,’ he repeated.
I managed a smile and said, ‘I hope so.’
‘At least they get on well together.’
‘Yeah, they do. Are they flirting with each other?’
‘Quite probably,’ he answered, with a grin.
A short while after that Dwayne and DJ decided that it was time they shouldn’t be there.
‘We’ll see you guys tomorrow,’ DJ asked, as he got up to leave, also dragging Dwayne to his feet.
‘I want to try and finish the car off tomorrow,’ Matt answered. ‘Call around if you like.’
‘Okay,’ Dwayne answered. ‘We’ll do that.’ Then they said their goodbyes and went home.
Matt and I went into the garage to finish some tidying up after Dwayne and DJ had left, leaving Hoss and Phil outside in the sun, still chatting.
Matt had asked, ‘Come and give me a hand moving some stuff will you?’ so I had obliged.
We busied ourselves with what we were doing, but I think it was more to give them some time alone than because there was cleaning up that needed to be done.
‘You are enjoying this, aren’t you?’ I asked him quietly.
He just grinned at me, and I shook my head at him.
‘I just hope Hoss knows what he’s doing,’ I said.
‘You worry too much. That’s what your problem is.’
He just grinned at me.
About half an hour later we were still inside the garage, pretending to still be cleaning it up. At least the work bench was the cleanest it had ever been, and all the tools were now hanging in the correct places, but in actual fact I think we were simply moving things around for the sake of it.
We didn’t hear the car pull up and it wasn’t until we heard the footsteps behind us and we turned to see who it was, that we realised that Candice had returned.
‘Hi, Candice,’ Matt said to her when he saw her at the doorway of the garage, with her arms folded across her chest. I gave her a little wave.
She looked around the garage for a moment, then said, ‘Has he gone already?’
‘No, I don’t think so. He and Hoss were here a few minutes ago,’ Matt answered.
Without saying a word she turned and left us. By the time we got to the door of the garage, she was walking into our flat.
Matt looked at me for a moment, horrified, and then simply said, ‘Shit!’
* * *
We didn’t know what it was the Candice saw, but when she came running past us, looking pale and shaky, we knew it couldn’t have been good.
Seconds later, Phil came running out the door after her, catching up with her just as she reached the car.
‘Can I . . .’ I heard him start to say. But he was cut short by the palm of her hand connecting with his face.
‘You dirty bastard,’ she hissed at him. ‘How could you?’
‘But . . .’ he started to say.
Turning back towards the door of the flat, I noticed Hoss standing there. He too, looked like the blood had drained from his face, and he also looked as though he was about to cry.
I noticed that he was fully dressed at least, so that was something I suppose. I mean, at least they weren’t caught with their pants down.
And poor Matt. He didn’t know which way to turn.
Then, leaving Phil and Candice to work things out for themselves, still screaming at each other, I walked over to Hoss.
‘Are you all right?’ I asked him.
‘I don’t know,’ he answered.
‘What did she see?’
‘He kissed me. That was all,’ he said. He was emotional and nervous, and was almost crying.
It was more than enough, though, I thought. I reached out and gently rubbed his arm.
‘It will be all right,’ I said to him.
‘You think so?’
‘I know so. This isn’t anything. Really. When you’ve had to go through what Matt and I went though, then you will know you’ve been through the wringer.’
‘I guess that’s what will come next. What if they split up? It will be all my fault.’
‘No. It won’t be. And you make sure you remember that. If they were that happy together he wouldn’t have even wanted to fool around with you.’
Just then we heard the car start up and leave, then after that Matt joined us.
‘You all right?’ he asked.
Hoss just shrugged his shoulders.
‘Candy has gone,’ he said. ‘But Phil is still out there, just leaning against the garage.’
‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘They screamed at each other for a bit, then after that, she just left, taking his car. Oh, and she threw his engagement ring at him.’
* * *
They finally left us shortly after dark, which was at about eight o’clock, with Hoss offering to give Phil a lift home. We weren’t sure if that was such a good idea or not, but in the end what could we do about it?
They were still talking, and neither of them appeared any the worse for wear for the afternoon’s events. I had honestly expected Phil to be at least a little bit upset about his argument with Candice, but there was nothing. After a shaky start, he ended up chatting with Hoss for the remainder of the afternoon, as if nothing had ever happened.
In the end we waved them goodbye and retreated into our own little world, wondering just what the attraction was between the pair of them.
Matt and I ate the left over chicken for dinner, then stripped off and stretched out on the bed and started to watch a video, not that either of us managed to be able to concentrate on it very well. In the end we switched it off, turned out the lights and snuggled up close together, his chest to my back and with his manhood prodding into the small of my back.
‘Well, that was an exciting afternoon,’ Matt whispered into my ear.
‘You think so?’ I answered. ‘Poor Hoss, for a while there, he didn’t know what to do or which way to turn.’
‘Do you think they will get together? You know, as an item.’
‘Do you want them to?’ he asked.
‘I don’t really know. I do know that I just want Hoss to, well, not be lonely,’ I answered. ‘You should have seen the look on his face when we all turned and looked at him in the garage earlier today. I mean, we all knew that he was on his own, and he knew it too. It was like he was the only person in the world who was alone. I could see the sadness that was in him.’
‘I think they like each other. That’s a start at least.’
‘But is it enough?’ I replied.
‘Only time will tell.’
I rolled over and kissed him. ‘At least we don’t have to worry about loneliness any more,’ I said to him after our lips parted.
‘No, never again,’ he whispered. Then he kissed me back.
We clung to each other like that for ages, each of us desperate not to let go of the other.
I could feel his firmness rubbing against me and so I slid my hand down and took hold of him. Gently, I ran my finger over the end of his shaft, feeling the pre-cum that was leaking generously from him.
He shuddered, as I squeezed him, trying to extract more of the magical fluid, then he moaned, as my fingers ran around the end of his penis, sliding easily with the aid of the lubricant. I then thrust my hand between his legs, probing for his pleasure hole, and when I found it I gently probed inwards with my index finger, which was already well lubed with his own juices.
To be continued . . .