The Beat Of The Drum
by Taran Geary

 

I don’t usually write stuff down. But I just have to tell someone what happened to me. Don’t get excited, it’s no biggie; in fact next to the London bombs and Iraq it’s pretty damn trivial. But it’s important to me, I’m not gonna tell you too much about me because I know what you net lurkers are like- I’ll probably find you camped out on the front lawn by Thursday: No, sorry that’s unfair, I’ve met some nice people on the net- I’ve met some weirdoes too mind, including one bloke who wanted me to… well I won’t go into that. But anyway I decided to write this as I think it, no corrections. “Stream of Consciousness” our English lit teacher calls it so here goes, if it don’t scan like Shakespeare tough shit don’t write to me complaining because I’m not changing nothing!

Look at that 155 words and I haven’t even told you my name. That’s no surprise because my name has been nothing but humiliation since the day I could first say it. If I told you that my family name is Mason and that my Dad is an old hippie Pink Floyd fan then I’ll bet pocket money that you know what my first name is: Have you got it? Yep, I am Nick Mason! So, you think why not use your middle name? Well that’s even worse! It’s Perry! I bet Mum & Dad had a real laugh around the font when I was christened.

The worst time is during the annual school fundraiser when at least 47 people will come up to me and ask me to help because I could “Drum up some support” and those same 47 people will, when I refuse, tell me to “Beat it”. Cue gales of helpless laughter.

I only saw Nick Mason once and he was a fat smug bloke showing off his latest car on “Top Gear” that he’d bought with enough money to pay off most third world debt. I wasn’t impressed and I made up my mind then to change my name. I dunno what to though I haven’t thought about again till now. Anyway, I’m rambling.

I guess I should delete that last paragraph but I’ll stick to my guns, Stream of Consciousness”. I’m 16, and I suppose I’m short for my age at 5’ 1”- I guess a lot of the stories I read on the net could have been written about me “16 years old, short for his age, timid and shy” except I’m not timid and shy. The only thing I’m timid and shy about is people knowing that I fancy other boys. Shit! I wasn’t going to bring that up till later. So now you know.

I don’t fancy the sporty, muscley types. I go more for personality and most of the sportsmen I’ve met don’t have any at all. The boy I’ve always fancied most is Jonathan Chapman, not just because I like the name Jonathan which I do, but because he is interesting as well as being nice looking with a gorgeous smile. He is a music buff and I managed to wangle a visit to his house and he showed me his room. All the walls were covered with cd racks; the only bit’s that weren’t were the door and the window and the bit where his bed sat against the wall and even under his bed were trunks full of cd’s. “The ones I don’t play so much any more.” If you named a song he would tell you who sang it, what label it was on, the year it came out and it’s chart position. He took great delight in telling me that Pink Floyd hold the record for the longest time between entries in the singles chart- My bloody name interferes in everything I do. I will definitely change it as soon as I’m 18. But back to Jonathan, he fascinates me and he took me along on one of his trips to London and we spent the day scouring obscure little record shops. Which was ok for a while but I wanted to go to Soho so I could bring up the subject of sex. But he seemed totally oblivious and in all the time I’ve spent with him the subject of sex has never even been hinted at which is a real downer.

The other boy I really fancy is Mark Simmonds. He is a rather strange other worldly creature who doesn’t so much walk as flit. He is always alone and I think that is what draws me to him. I’m not alone, but I am lonely, I guess that’s why I’m writing this to invisible friends who I like to believe I know.

A strange thing about Mark Simmonds is that everyone calls him “Mark Simmonds” never just “Mark” or “Simmonds” or even “Simmo”. And everyone leaves him alone. No one bullies him or lets his tyres down, everyone gives him a wide berth. This is since the incident in the Gym. I’ll tell you what I know, which isn’t a lot: We were all fourteen and our year bully was Philip Cafferey a horrible bastard who would beat the shit out of anyone for no particular reason and everyone was scared of him- including me and Mark Simmonds. One day Philip started on Mark Simmonds and knocked him about pretty badly. I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t go to help because I was bricking it big time. Mark Simmonds had some nasty bumps and bruises but nothing life threatening and life went on pretty much as before. Then at Friday afternoon break time there was a commotion in the gym so we all rushed in and there was Philip Cafferey hanging upside down by one leg from the climbing ropes stark naked, crying his eyes out and screaming for help. He was got down and after that he was a changed man; I’m not saying he became a model student but he left everyone alone from then on. No one knew what happened, Philip wasn’t saying but we all suspected Mark Simmonds had something to do with it. I asked him once and all he said was “I’m sure I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about” which, of course, told me he knew perfectly well what I was talking about. The trouble with Mark Simmonds is that you can’t get near him. He is polite to you but cold. I guess he just prefers his own company. I wonder who he thinks about when he wanks. If he wanks. I shouldn’t have said that, should I?

So I suppose you could say that I make life pretty difficult for myself. I could join the gym club and hang around the changing rooms with loads of half naked sportsmen stinking of Wintergreen and fake tan and get my jollies that way but that’s not for me. But I’m pissed off with being lonely. There is a gay pub in town but I’ve never been in it. I don’t look 14 let alone 18 so I doubt I would get in anyway. When I feel really low I just go for a walk vainly hoping that I might bump in to some like minded stranger who would whisk me away on a flight of passion and rough, violent sex and have me home in time for my tea. But of course that never happens and I just go home and please myself; usually dreaming of Jonathan tossing himself off over the latest edition of the “Guinness Book Of Hit Singles”. Life is a bastard sometimes. I would love to toss him off either with or with out the book. I wouldn’t mind either way. I sometimes dream of him and me in bed together and the walls are tiled with cds. And in the middle of the ceiling is a mirror ball also made of cds and as we roll and squirm on the bed together the light shimmies and parries around the room reflected from the myriad of little silver discs scattered about.

My god! Did I just write that? It sounds like one of my Mum’s Mills and Boon’s! Not that I’ve ever read any of them of course. Well I have actually, but then you knew that, didn’t you. I guess it goes with the territory. I think I’m losing control of this thing. I might have to break my rule and do some editing. I’ll see how it goes.

Most people think, and I’m inclined to agree with them sometimes, that I’m a little bit slow on the uptake. It was at least a year after getting a computer that I realized you could actually talk to people with it and that there were people just like me out there somewhere who I could tell anything to and it wouldn’t matter a damn because they don’t know me from Adam. I became a chat room junkie for while but I pulled back a bit after that bloke I mentioned earlier wanted me to… well never mind about that. Even if I told them my real name no one would believe me. But usually I log on with a stupid name like everyone else.

Now you must remember this is writing on the fly and I’ve made a major fuck up. I’ve written the whole of this thing in the wrong tense. Who says English grammar is a waste of time? So I’m switching now. Hold tight changes may cause turbulence!

Grow up Mason you tit!

I found a couple of regional type chat rooms but I got the feeling that most of the people on them were old pervs looking for a young guy to shag and dump and possibly worse. Some of them were actually quite scary so I never got involved however tempting the offer was. That bloke who wanted me to… well whatever, he offered me £250. But I never went to that place again. Then one day I found one for my town! I couldn’t believe it. I went a few times but as I expected it was empty but I put it in my favorites folder and I went back to it from time to time.

Back at school, things just carried on as normal. Mark Simmonds floated about on his cloud seemingly oblivious to everything. I couldn’t shake my fascination for him but I knew I was wasting my time. Jonathan was still friendly but all he talked about was his music and sometimes it got a bit wearing. My only other really close friend was Simon Robinson and we’d known each other for years almost as long as we’d been at school. When his hormones kicked in (A full year ahead of me) he suddenly became obsessed by sex though sadly girl sex and he talked non-stop comparing the girls’ tits and how he thought they’d feel. This rapidly became very tiresome. All this added to my growing sense of isolation. I sat in front of my computer trawling newsgroups for hot pictures of men but there was nothing new. I was bored with the fixed smiles and forced poses and the looks that said plainly “You know of course, I’m only doing this for the money so that my poor widowed mother in Siberia can afford incontinence pants.” So I switched again to the chat rooms: HE was there, the bloke I don’t want to talk about. He latched straight on to me and repeated his offer only he upped it to £300. I closed that window and decided as a last resort to try the local ones… There was nothing of interest in the regional so I tried the town one as a last resort.

SHOCK, HORROR!

There was someone in the town room. It was not a name I recognized and I tried to think of a witty opening remark:

“Hi.” I failed miserably. There was an agonizingly long wait before a reply came back.

“Hi”. I racked my brain to think of something original to say instead of the usual “Where are you?”

“Where are you?” I typed in; again I failed miserably. Again an agonizing wait before he named the town I lived in.

“How old are you?”

“16” Yeh right and I’m Leonardo DeCaprio. I tried to think of a way to prove him.

“What school you go to?” Success! I finally got it right. Then he named my school! I sat stunned and stared at the screen for long silent minutes; then the bleep from him

“What about You?”

“Same age, same school.” Long silence

“Bollocks! You bullshitting me.”

“No. Truth.”

“What’s your name?” Another long pause as I worried to do the right thing.

“You first.” Once again that agonizing wait praying that he doesn’t log out.

“Let’s meet.” Fuck me! This is getting heavy. I thought about all the good advice I’d been given about meeting people on the net and how it was best to get to know someone a bit before meeting them and to always tell someone where you’re going. I finally decided that sensible thing to do would be to decline.

“OK, where?” In my case dick rules brain. He named a local park with a Victorian bandstand and he said he would be standing on the bandstand so that I could see he was by himself. I told my parents I was going for a walk and I slipped out into the cold night. It should have taken about 15 minutes to reach the park. But I stopped several times and started to walk back but I always ended back on the original road. I entered the park and I could see the bandstand dimly lit by the sodium lamps.

There was no one there.

I slowly followed the path around the perimeter of the park so that I would be able to see if there was anyone out of sight behind the bandstand. I walked right around and saw no one so I slowly walked across the grass and climbed the steps up to the band platform. I leaned on the railings and cursed myself for being so stupid. Either he’d been and gone or he was watching from somewhere and I was going to suffer next day at school.

I stood leaning for several minutes, not sure what to do then I saw a figure walking briskly towards the bandstand I couldn’t see who it was because he had a hoodie on and he walked with his head bowed. I started to get nervous; I didn’t recognize the person at all but the light was so poor that I probably wouldn’t have recognized my own Mum.

He was so intent on his journey to the bandstand that he appeared to not notice me at all. He mounted the steps and then looked up at me just as I recognized him and a cold chill ran through me as I found myself looking into the bright blue eyes of… Philip Cafferey

“Fuck me, Mason!” he gasped.

“Aren’t you at least gonna take me out to dinner first?” My attempt at humor was misplaced and misjudged.

He looked blank for a moment.

“What are you doing here? He asked warily.

“I’m meeting someone”

“Who?”

“I think very probably you.”

“Whatja mean?” I spoke the internet name my liaison had used. “Dunno what your talking about.” He looked phased and nervous.

“Ok”, I said. “My mistake”, and I turned and started down the steps.

“Mason,” he spoke barely above a whisper. I stopped and looked over my shoulder towards him. “Can we go somewhere?”

“Sure.”

We headed for the gay pub and since it was quiet I was allowed in. Philip told me all about himself and I must say that he’d had a very rough time of it and he finally told me what happened in the gym that day. Apparently Mark Simmonds brother is a hypnotist and they hijacked Philip after lunch and worked on him all afternoon until finally, totally exhausted he succumbed to the hypnosis, He remembers climbing the rope and tying it around his leg then he blacked out. And since then one of Mark Simmonds’ brother’s colleagues has been giving him counseling hence his change of lifestyle and his coming to terms with being gay.

So there you are. There’s my little story. But the best bit is me and Philip are officially an item! And have been for two months now!

Nick

 

Another Beat Of The Drum

“Mason,” he spoke barely above a whisper. I stopped and looked over my shoulder towards him. “Can we go somewhere?”

When Philip Cafferey, one time school bully and all round horrible bastard spoke those words to me on that cold night on the bandstand, I knew my life would never be the same again. At the time my mind was racing, my primary instinct was to run as fast as my rather short legs would carry me. I figured that Philip could quite easily cripple me and think nothing of it… But there was something in the way he spoke – something I recognized from myself.

We sat in quiet corner of the pub; Philip was throwing bottles of Bud down his neck like they were the last he would ever see, while I rather demurely sipped my half pint of shandy. Finally Philip broke the extremely awkward silence:

“Mason, Are you queer?” Well, there’s nothing like coming to the point I suppose. I just looked blankly at him because I hadn’t got a clue what to say. Do I say “yes” and chance spending the rest of my life in an iron lung or do I say “no” and throw away the chance of meeting a kindred spirit.

“Of course I am.” I chanced a smile. Another bottle of Bud went down without touching the sides. “What about you?”

Philip just glared at me. He seemed to be wrestling with some mighty internal demons. Again the awkward silence descended. We both jumped when the barman put some music on, it was some awful handbag house crap and we looked at each other and smiled. That was the first time I had seen Philip smile I think ever! I rolled my eyes and nodded towards the loudspeaker. He smiled again and nodded agreement. It was a lovely warm smile that he had kept hidden for too long.

“Well?” I asked.

“Want another drink?” He replied

“Ok”, I said and he wandered off to the bar. I took the time he was away to marshal my thoughts: Do I do a runner or do I prolong the agony of trying to talk to Philip and, of course, I still had the notion that he was going to beat the shit out of me as soon as we got outside.

A bottle of Bud was dumped unceremoniously in front of me I looked at it as if I had never seen one before. It was not what I wanted but I went along with it. “Thanks” I said.

“I’m going to the bog”, Philip informed me. “Don’t follow me.” Now as you have probably realized, I am a pretty easy going kind of a bloke, but this really incensed me. Just because I’m gay he assumed I’d follow him to the toilet for a cheap thrill. That really pissed me off.

He came back and slumped back down beside me. He stared straight ahead and took another slug from his bottle.

“You shouldn’t have said that,” I began.

He turned slowly and looked at me.

“Wot?” He grunted.

I banged my hands on the table and shouted, “I’m sick of this! What do you think I am? Do you really think I’d want to follow you out to the khasi just get a peek at your dick? I may not be the coolest guy in the world, but I’m certainly not a Willy watcher! I’m going.” I got up and started to put my coat on; Philip grabbed hold of my arm – not hard, but firmly. I closed my eyes and waited for the inevitable beating. When nothing happened, I opened my eyes and looked at him.

“Please don’t.” He said quietly. I looked at him for a few seconds; my mind racing as I tried to make sense of this ridiculous situation.

“Ok,” I said and sat down again. “But listen to me, will you please talk to me? And take that bloody hood off! At least let me see you.”

“You know what I look like.”

“That’s not the point. I want to see you now.” Slowly he eased the hood back from his face and over his head so that it was right off.

“Satisfied?”

“That’s much better; at least I can see who I’m talking to now.”

I’d never really looked at Philip before. I generally tried to avoid him whenever possible. I didn’t exactly dive into dustbins or anything but I always stayed out of his way. I realized for the first time that he wasn’t really bad looking; broken nose notwithstanding, he had much finer features than I realized, his face was almost delicate. I was pleasantly surprised.

“I only found out who my Dad was last year.” He said quietly. Somewhat stunned by this spontaneous sharing of personal information. I’m ashamed to say I blurted out the obvious.

“I thought you lived with your Dad.”

“So did I until last year.” Again he lapsed into sullen silence.

“Well tell me, then!” I urged

“Why?” He asked.

I sighed deeply and tutted.

“Because I’m interested; I want to know about you.”

“You won’t tell no one?”

“Of course not.”

“Your round.” He said. I sighed again and got up and bought two more bottles of Bud.

“I was over my Grans, you know, my Mum’s Mum. Me an’ my sisters. We was just playing about and went into the attic. There’s stairs up to her attic, not just a hatch like most people. I’d been up there before when I was little, but not for a long time. I found this big wooden box, I opened it and inside was this old raincoat, you know like the coppers used to wear in the old films.”

I nodded that I understood.

“It was all wrapped up in polythene but I undid it so’s I could look at it. It had a shiny silky lining and someone had written in it ‘Terry Webb’. I’d never heard of the geezer but I looked through the pockets and I found this old pair of glasses. Weird, they were, with thick black frames. The glass was so thick I couldn’t even see through ‘em at all.

Later on we was all eating and I asked ‘Who’s Terry Webb?’ You’d have thought I’d had a shit on the carpet judging by the reaction. ‘Have you been up in the loft?’ My Gran asked. I told her what I’d found. My Gran said she would tell me later, and after my sisters had gone she told me the story.

Terry was my Mum’s friend’s boyfriend and Joe Cafferey was my Mums boyfriend. They used to go out together I guess on double dates. Joe drank too much even then and one night there was a big bust up in this disco. Terry’s bird left on her own and Joe was being an arsehole. So Terry took my Mum home and left Joe to it.

When they got to Mum’s house she invited him in thinking her Mum and Dad would be there but they weren’t; they’d gone round to some friends or something. Anyway they ended up shagging.”

“Like you do.” I interrupted and immediately wished I hadn’t.

“Terry hated his glasses and only wore them when he had to so they was in his raincoat pocket. After they realized what they’d done Terry couldn’t get out fast enough and he left without his raincoat.

Terry was a scaffolder and was working on those big factories on the industrial estate. And the following day, with out his glasses on, he stepped off the edge of the building and died.

My mum never forgave herself. I reckon that’s what’s made her ill all this time. Joe begged her to go back with him which she did and they got married almost straightaway.”

“I didn’t know your Mum was ill. What’s wrong with her?”

“She’s been on pills for depression for years and sometimes she goes into hospital when it all gets too much-Which is pretty often nowadays.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Did your Dad – Joe –  suspect anything?”

“I don’t see how he couldn’t have, look.” He rummaged through his pockets and brought out a crumpled photograph.

“My Gran gave me this.”

It was a photograph of  a young man who could have been Philip himself except for the thick lensed, black framed glasses that he wore.

“I see what you mean,” I said. “He could be your twin brother.”

“Probably explains why Joe’s been such a fuckin’ bastard to me all my life. And my name as well.”

I looked at him quizzically.

“Terrence Philip Cafferey. I think I might change it to Webb. So people don’t think I’m related to that bastard. My Gran says Terry was real nice bloke, really funny and she always wished my Mum had gone with him instead of Joe. So do I.”

We lapsed into silence again and I felt my heart go out to Philip. I knew he’d had a rough time of it but I didn’t understand just how rough. He told me that it was Joe who broke his nose one night when he came home drunk and fancied a game of football with Philip as the ball.

I gingerly reached out a hand and put it around his shoulders, I pulled him towards me and there was no resistance.  We sat there for a while; Philips head was on my shoulder and I could hear him gently crying to himself. I gently rubbed his arm and I even kissed the top of his head.

“You must think I’m a right twat,” he snuffled.

“No, of course I don’t.”

“Why not? Everyone else does. I’m an arsehole.”

“No you’re not. I don’t think you are. I admit I used to think you were when you went around hitting everyone, but I didn’t know you then.”

Philip grunted in reply. He pulled away from me slowly and looked at me with red tearstained eyes. He lunged towards me and at first I thought he was going to head butt me. But he didn’t he grabbed my head and kissed me! Full on the lips, long and hard, when the shock subsided I realized what Mama Cass had meant when she sang about “Rockets, bells and poetry”. Electric shocks ran from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. We leaned into one another and the kiss got even more intense. When we broke away Philip just looked at me with a big sloppy grin on his face. I was smiling so widely that I feared my face would fall in half, and my heart was beating so hard that I thought it was going to leap out of my chest

“Wow,” Was the only word I could articulate. Phillip just sat there grinning. I caught my breath and wrestled to get my faculties back on an even keel. “Where did that come from?” I finally managed to blurt out.

“I just wanted to. Do you mind? I’ve never kissed another boy before.”

“Me neither, and no, I don’t mind at all. I really liked it. How was it for you?”

Philip actually giggled. An almost girly giggle and he said “It was lovely, can we do it again?”

“Damn right we can,” and I all but leapt on him and planted my lips on his. I felt his tongue working it’s way into my mouth and mine responded almost on its own and they danced a manic jig together while I tried very hard to stop from cumming in my pants. Suddenly Philip broke away and ran out of the door to the toilets. It would seem he had the same problem.

After a few moments he came back rather red in the face and slightly out of breath, but grinning like a cat in a dairy.

“Just in time,” he said between breaths. “How about you?”

“Too late,” I pulled a face as I attempted to adjust my attire. It felt like I had unloaded a couple of gallons in to my underwear. But I’m sure it wasn’t much more than the standard 10cc. I kissed him again gently on the cheek and told him that I had to go because my parents would be wondering where I was.

“No one’ll be wondering about me,” he said glumly.

“I will be,” I said. “I’ll be wondering about you all night and probably won’t sleep at all. We’ll see each other at school tomorrow. I can’t wait.”

Philip seemed to drop back to the gloomy persona that he had when he first came in the pub.

“You won’t tell no one, will you? And you’ll be cool at school won’t you? And you won’t want to kiss me in the classroom or nothing stupid, will you?”

“No, of course not. But we can be mates at school, surely.”

“Yeh, but that’s all.”

“Ok, I understand.”

We said our goodbyes and I danced my way home like I was Gene Kelly in “Singing In The Rain” Except that it wasn’t raining properly it was just that very fine drizzle that absolutely soaks you in no time at all. Thoughts were racing through my brain like I had never known. But by the time I reached my front gate, I had made three very important decisions:

I loved Philip Cafferey.

I was going to make bloody well sure that I kept him and that he doesn’t get cold feet.

I was going to tell my parents.

The Final Beat Of The Drum

I’m surprised at how many people have read my ramblings about my time with Philip. Some people have even written and asked if I will write any more which is very flattering and a bit creepy really. I don’t much like the idea of dirty old gits having a wank over me and my boyfriend but I suppose when you “go public” that is one of the consequences. Still I’ll get on with it and see how it goes. Perhaps I have a future as writer. I really haven’t given it much thought but we’ll see.

I know it’s been a while since my last dribbles appeared here. But there’s only so much you can write about your real life and keep it interesting.

I have been waiting for developments, shall we say. How many pages of doing homework and meeting secretly for cuddles (only Cuddles, mind. We hadn’t done anything serious, yet) can you read?

I read a bit, especially stories on the net, and I was beginning to think we were a bit slow. There was one story about a weird ginger haired kid on crutches and he was at it with another boy after he’d only known him for about an hour. I wish!

I wanted to get down and dirty with Philip but the opportunity just didn’t seem to crop up.

There was one major development though. Phillip had finally started to call me Nick rather than Mason. This might not sound like a big deal, but believe me, it is. Phillip and his mates never, ever call anyone by their first names. It is surnames or nick names. (Except Mark Simmonds, of course; who is always “Mark Simmonds”).

Anyway! I’m drifting off the point. This is the proper start.

I thought I’d start this batch of my jottings by telling you all a little bit about myself:

I have no doubt that I’m very lucky; I have parents who love me and who want me to succeed in whatever I do. I enjoy school and although I am far from being a grade A student I do my best and my grades come in at around average or just above. My parents are proud of me. I enjoy making my parents proud.

They married late, my parents; My Mother was nearly 40 and my Father was nearly 45. They had problems due to my Mum’s age and I ended up being conceived in a test tube, although I was born in the traditional manner. My Mum used to call me “her little miracle” but it was a long time before I understood why.

After I was born my Mum gave up her career as a lawyer to devote herself to me. I am very grateful that I have never been a “latch key kid” and that someone was always there when I came home.

My only regret is that I never knew my grandparents; they had all died before I was born.

So there you are. That’s me in a nutshell.

I suppose we are a bit old fashioned in our house. We always have our evening meal sitting around the table – I don’t have a problem with this, it’s just that whenever I’ve been to any of my friends’ houses they always balance a tray on their laps and watch the telly while they eat. I thought this was a very cool notion, so I broached it to my Mum once and straight away wished I hadn’t. So up to the table we go.

It was at this time one evening that I decided to grasp the nettle. I waited until there was a lull in the conversation and I went for it:

“Mum, Dad. There’s something I want to tell you.” My Dad looked surprised and put his knife and fork down and looked at me expectantly. My Mum just looked worried to death as if she thought I was going to die or something.

“Mum, Dad. I’m gay.” There was a silence that seemed to last forever during which time my Dad picked up his knife and fork and started eating again.

“You feel sure about this?” My Dad finally asked with out a flicker of emotion. But then seeing as he’s a doctor, I guess he hears far worse things during his day.

My Mum was less composed and I could see confusion and shock passing across her face. This set me off and I felt the salt-water droplets running down my cheeks. I left my chair and walked around to my Mum and hugged her and she hugged me. After a few minutes and a lot of tears and following some exaggerated throat clearing from my Dad, I sat back down.

“Have you met someone, Nicky?” My Mum asked.

“Yes, his name is Philip.” I snuffled.

“Why don’t you bring him around for tea in the week?

“Can I?” I brightened up.

“Of course.”

“We’ll have a chat later, “My Dad said. “Now let’s finish our meal.”

My Dad came up to my room later and we talked about how I felt and he told me he had a slight suspicion because I never talked about girls or ever brought any home. He talked in some depth about various STD’s and especially HIV. He also went into, ahem, the ins and outs of anal sex in rather more depth than I was strictly comfortable with but I suppose I understood his concern.

And that was it. No drama, no raised voices and no smashed crockery. I told Philip and he was impressed until I told him about the invitation to tea.

“Fuck me!” he exclaimed. “Round your house? I won’t know what fucking knife to use!”

“Don’t be daft,” I said. “We’re not that posh.”

“We haven’t even got a fucking table, let alone eat off the fucker.” He said.

“You will come, though, won’t you?” I almost pleaded. Philip went quiet.

“I’ll think about, alright?” He finally said and I was treated to one of his lovely smiles.

Over the next few days I felt like I was walking on air. I, of course wanted to shout from the rooftops that I was in love with a wonderful guy. But Phillip still wanted to keep it well under wraps. This caused one or two sticky moments especially in the school canteen when I went strolling in whistling a merry tune and was confronted by my old friends sitting at one table and Phillip and his two remaining friends sitting at another. I skidded to a halt and my whistle died a tuneless death as I just stood there paralysed desperately trying to decide where to sit. But a glare from Phillip made it plain and I sat with my old friends-although I wanted desperately to be sitting with my boyfriend. Occasionally our eyes would meet across the room and I could see that Phillip felt exactly the same. I would bide my time; our chance would come, I felt sure.

But in the meantime, the frustration was driving me mad!

We did walk home together, however. On alternate nights we would walk to each others houses. Phillip never invited me into his house and in many ways I was quite glad about it. His house was a typical sink council estate house. There was the wrecked car in the front garden, The huge satellite dish stuck right on the front of the house, the dirty windows and even dirtier curtains, the big dog on a chain growling at anything that moved.

I could see Phillip was embarrassed and as we stood and chatted outside he told me that all he wanted to do was to get out of that house.

I asked why he didn’t. He would soon be sixteen and then he could live where he wanted.

“Can’t go,” he said. “I ain’t leaving my little sisters. If he ain’t got me to kick around he might start on them. An’ I ain’t having it.”

I wanted to just hug him but his body language told me to stay away.

Another time when he had walked me to my house and I had pointed out the window of my room, I said to him “We’ll be together in there one day.”

Phillip just blushed and smiled. He touched my hand and said simply “Yeh”

When I went in the house, my Mum asked “Was that Phillip I saw you with outside?”

“Are you spying on me?”

“No, I just happened to be looking out of the window.” My Mum could never lie even if her life depended on it and she knew it.

“Yes Mum”, I said. “That’s him.”

“He’s a nice looking boy” she said. “Why don’t you invite him in?”

I fairly glowed at my Mum’s approval. “He won’t come in. He’s very shy.”

“Oh well, he’ll come round eventually,” She said breezily.

Then she spoiled it:

“It’s a shame about his nose, though.”

I felt the hackles rising. Usually me and my Mum get on great. But I felt this was an unnecessary criticism of my boyfriend and I shouted at her.

“HIS STEP DAD BEATS HIM UP! IS THAT OK FOR YOU?”

I stormed out and slammed the door. My Mum called after me but I ignored her and ran up to my room and slammed that door as well. All the frustration of Philips reticence and the stress of living a secret poured out of me. I shouted and screamed at no one and kicked my pillow around the room. I then threw myself on my bed and cried my self to sleep.

I was woken up by someone knocking on the door. I had calmed down by this time and called “Come In”. My Mum came in with a cup of tea and she sat down on my bed next to me.

“I’m so sorry, Nicky. I just wasn’t thinking. It was an awful thing to say and I’m really looking forward to meeting Philip.”

“It’s ok, Mum. I’m sorry I shouted and slammed the door.” I smiled thinly and my Mum hugged me and rocked me in her arms.

“Everything will be all right”, she said “Just give him time.”

After she’d left, I thought about recent events. I just wished Philip would admit who he was and “come out”. Although, I mused, I hadn’t told anyone except my parents either.

It was a couple of days later when I woken up in the middle of the night by a strange sound. There it was again, a rattling scraping sound. I sat up in bed and put the light on. There it was again! I got up and went to the window and saw Philip and his sisters standing in the front garden; he had been throwing gravel at my bedroom window. He motioned for me to come down. I pulled on some clothes and ran down the stairs to the front door. I was shocked at what I saw: Philip was covered in blood and as he spoke he spat out a great bloody lumps of phlegm.

“Joe’s gone mad”, He said between spits. “He’s smashed the house up and I think he’s set it on fire!”.

The girls were crying and were clinging tight to Philip.

“Come in,” I said. I took them through to the kitchen. There was a noise upstairs and my dad’s voice saying “What on earth is going on?” He came into the kitchen and said. “Good heavens! What’s happened?”

I made the introductions and explained briefly what Philip had told me. My Dad immediately switched to doctor mode and examined everyone. He declared the girls unharmed but wasn’t too happy about Philip’s injuries. He called my Mum down and she went straight into “Mum” mode. Drinks and snacks appeared out of nowhere and she soon had the girls calmed down.

“I’m going to have to take Philip to hospital.” My Dad said. I think Frank’s on duty in A&E tonight so I’ll ring him and get us straight in”.

“Ain’t goin’ to no ‘ospital.” Philip grunted

“You’ll do what you’re told!,” my Dad said firmly. “You could have concussion or a haemorrhage, so none of the nonsense, understand!”

Frank was indeed on duty and we sailed past the queues and straight to a cubicle where a nurse dressed Philips wounds.

I should tell you that “Uncle Frank” and his family are probably my Mum and Dad’s best friends. I love Uncle Frank. He is the calmest, kindest, funniest man I have ever met and he’s the perfect man to run a busy A&E department. Nothing ever ruffles him.

We went to have an x ray and when the results came back Frank said “You’re very lucky. No haemorrhage or concussion, in fact your step father might have done you a favour. He’s broken your nose in such a way that we can probably straighten it up a bit for you.”

He shoved a load of packing up Philip’s nose. I could see that it was hurting him; but he didn’t flinch. I felt so proud of him.

As we were going out, Frank touched my shoulder. “You take care of him, Nicky. You’ve got a good one there.” He gave me a wink and I turned bright red.

How did he know? But then I should have known that he’d know; Uncle Frank knows everything. I smiled and said “I know and I will”.

When we got back Mum had put the girls to bed in the spare room and she was waiting for us with a pot of tea and some sandwiches.

We sat around the table and ate and drunk tea. Dad was deep in thought for a long time before he spoke.

“We’ll have to contact your mother”, he spoke to Philip. “, Do you know where she is?”

Philip told him and then the question of where Philip was going to sleep came up.

Well, naturally I wanted him to sleep with me. But I didn’t know whether he or my parents would wear it. There was much discussion about his sleeping in my bed while I slept on the sofa and all variations on that theme.

“Philip can sleep with me”

The room went very quiet and my Mum said “Well, I don’t really think-“

“Philip can sleep with me” I repeated.

Now, you have to understand that I have never, ever defied my parents. The atmosphere was so highly charged I could feel the hair on back of my neck beginning to prickle.

“I don’t think that is a good idea.” My Mum finished. My Dad raised his hand.

“Very well”, he said slowly. My Mother shot him a look that would have killed a lesser man stone dead. “Philip can sleep with you tonight-providing that is what he wants- I trust you, Nicky and I believe that you will heed the things I have told you recently. Philip, is that what you want?”

Philip grunted and nodded. And so we went to bed!

Up in my room I felt so charged up I didn’t know what to do. Do I leap on him and smother him with kisses or do I play it cool? I decided on the latter.

As we both undressed the tension in the room was unbearable.  Philip had shown me some of the bruises that Joe had given him in the past, but as he pulled his top off I was horrified. He looked at me disapprovingly and I tried to avert my eyes, he slipped off his jeans and my eyes shot immediately to his threadbare boxers.

I felt a bit disappointed because there was no sign of any action there at all-unlike my own nether regions which seemed to have developed a will of their own!

“Which side?” I asked pointing at the bed. A shrug of the shoulders was the only reply. I climbed into my usual side and Philip followed.

I lay on my back staring resolutely at the ceiling not daring to put out an exploratory hand.

I put out the light I heard Philip wince quietly as he moved.

“Nick?”

“Yeh?”

“Hold me, please”

I needed no second bidding, as you can imagine. I gently embraced him doing my best to avoid the sore places. I felt his breathing on my face and his lips on my lips.

Then it happened!

We didn’t shag or bonk or fuck.

We made LOVE!

And it was a wonderful, gentle love.

We only did it once that night although I was up for it nearly all night. But Philip was exhausted and in pain. I understood and respected his needs, after all I loved him. And I still do.

We did it again in the morning and we nearly got caught by Mum knocking on the door and bringing us in some tea. She looked as embarrassed as we did but nothing was said. Then my Mum shocked me to the very core of my soul by saying the words I never thought I would ever hear her say:

“Don’t worry about getting up. You don’t have to go to school this morning.”

I must have looked completely gobsmacked because she struggled not to laugh as she walked out of the room.

Philip and I snuggled up together drank our tea and we giggled and played about for a bit before we did eventually get up and face the world.

My lovely Dad had been on the phone all morning sorting things out.

Philips Mum was leaving the hospital later in the day and coming to see her children. His Nan had cut short her holiday and was coming home as well.

Joe Caffrey was under arrest in hospital with severe burns and alcohol poisoning.

Philip and I just dossed around the house doing nothing much; just enjoying each other until his family came.

When they did arrive along with Social Services and some other people I didn’t know; a big conference started to thrash out the future.

Philips Mum and his sisters were going to live at his Nan’s. But best of all, Philip was staying with us!!!!

My Dad insisted that he have his own room “Teenagers need private space”. Sometimes we sleep in his room, sometimes we sleep in mine and sometimes we sleep apart. It’s perfect.

Philips nose was straightened up properly and he is now more handsome than ever.

And I am just SO happy!

Love Nick  xxx

 

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