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  2. The book of poems I have was translated by Stephen Mitchell, who I'm told did a remarkable job: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46201.The_Selected_Poetry_of_Rainer_Maria_Rilke?ac=1&from_search=true The Letters to a Young Poet version I read a while back is this one: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46199.Letters_to_a_Young_Poet#
  3. ObicanDecko

    Family

    Tom and I went around the house, holding hands, until we reached the front door. I was full of trepidation and I could see he was nervous as well. It was an ungrateful task that he had to do. I knew how lucky I was that my family readily accepted my sexuality, so of course I felt for Tom for having to go through this with his grandparents. “I’m glad you’re both here, I want to talk to you,” he announced as we entered the house and found his grandparents sitting in the dining room. The two of them sat quiet as Tom calmly reminded them that he was gay and that that was not going to change. “Of course, honey, we know that,” his grandma replied, finally looking him in the eyes. On the other hand, her husband stared at his coffee cup on the table in front of him. “So, you’re both ok with this?” Tom asked and his grandparents nodded. “Of course, you’re our boy,” his grandpa said, finally raising his head and looking in our direction. “If you say you… prefer men, we’ll just have to accept it.” I felt Tom squeeze my hand harder and I returned the squeeze, as if giving him some of my strength and resolve. “Tom, I’m sorry we didn’t talk about this sooner,” Mrs Claffey added. “And your friend will always be welcome in this house.” “No, grandma,” Tom was adamant. “Charlie is not my friend. We are dating and he’ll be coming here often. I haven’t brought anyone home in years and now that I’ve met Charlie, I don’t want to have to hide from you and pretend we’re just friends.” “We understand,” his grandma nodded, a concerned look on her wrinkled, old face. “We’re just worried. Maybe when you’re together in public-” “What? We shouldn’t hold hands or kiss?” Tom asked, irritated. “It’s the people here, you know how they are. They’ll say-” “I don’t care. Let them talk,” Tom shrugged. “They talk about everyone and make things up all the time. That’s not going to change.” He suddenly seemed more agitated, but I didn’t want to ask anything. Instead, I stayed quiet most of the time, letting them get everything out in the open. In the end, I just thanked them for understanding and Tom took me upstairs to his room. We were both silent, trying to absorb the conversation. I was sure Tom’s mind was racing with what his grandparents said, and what they didn’t say, but he would tell me about it when he was ready. I don’t know what I expected, but I was a bit surprised when I entered Tom’s room and saw how nice and modern it was. There was a large bed with a big, wooden headboard and a small nightstand on its right side. The opposite wall was almost fully occupied by a modern, white closet. Below the double windows, there was a desk with a laptop on it. The transparent, cream-colored curtains complimented the sheets of the same color and the small brown carpet. “I like your room, it’s very nice,” I said, wrapping my arms around his waist and giving him a peck on the lips. “Thanks,” he said, placing his hands on my hips. “Just one question - does the door lock?” I winked, wanting to defuse the tension after the conversation from downstairs. It obviously worked, as I was rewarded with a sweet chuckle, and a lovely view of his dimples and beautiful smile. “It does,” he then said, leaning in to give me a proper kiss. “So how do you think that went?” “I’m not sure yet. It’s the same story all over,” he shrugged and sat on the bed. “What do you mean?” “They were the same with Donovan - worried about what people are going to say. Like I give a fuck.” I let out a chuckle and Tom looked at me, smiling. “I never heard you swear before.” “Sorry,” he quickly apologized, but the smirk on his face remained. “So, I don’t imagine you spend a lot of time here,” I said. “Being such an outdoorsy type that you are.” “Yeah, I guess not. Mostly in the evening.” “What do you do then? Do you play any games?” “Not really. I listen to music, watch TV shows… And I love watching animal videos on YouTube,” Tom said, eliciting a delighted laughter from me. “What?! What’s so funny?” “Nothing, it’s just… You live literally surrounded by nature and animals. I didn’t imagine you’d care much about watching them on YouTube when you can have a firsthand view.” “But they’re so funny!” “Oh, I know. I could waste hours watching puppies falling over and cats getting scared of cucumbers.” So, that’s exactly what we did for the next hour: we sat in front of his laptop and watched funny animal videos until we were both crying with laughter. When it was time for me to go home, I realized I didn’t really want to. The idea of going back to my empty house, when I could instead be spending time with Tom, was not at all attractive. I never learned how to live alone. I had roommates all through college, so I was used to the noise, someone always being there and talking. However, considering everything that happened that day, I wasn’t sure me staying overnight would be welcome. Besides, Tom had made it clear he wanted us to take it slow, and I was trying to respect that. ~~ It was just a few days later that we saw each other again. Summer was slowly coming to an end, and I wanted to use the last remaining days of it to soak up some more sun and get a bit of color. I was never big on tanning, and had certainly never visited tanning salons, but I didn’t want the whole summer to pass without getting at least a shade darker. Even though I could have done some sunbathing in my backyard, I remembered that Tom told me about the nearby river and asked him if he wanted to go there with me. To my delight, he was very keen to go, so I packed my sunscreen, sunglasses, a large beach towel, bottle of water and my turquoise swim trunks and drove over to his house. The river was about half an hour by foot, so we decided to drive instead. Tom suggested he drive us with his pickup truck because the road to the river wasn’t an asphalt one, but a narrow dirt road. “I hope you brought your sunglasses,” I looked over at him as we were driving to our destination. “Yeah, I did. Why?” “I don’t wanna blind you when I take my shirt off.” “Oh, come on, you’re not that pale,” Tom giggled. “And I don’t care, you look nice.” “Thanks. You’re really good for my self-confidence, you know? You always know what to say to make me feel good.” “I just say what’s on my mind,” he shrugged simply. That was another thing I admired about Tom. I could count on him to always tell me the truth. It was refreshing to have that instead of guys who play mind games and try to manipulate you. I was aware that he was not as experienced as other guys I’ve gone out with, which meant he was probably more naive and innocent, but that was just another quality of his, not a flaw. When we arrived at the river, I was surprised to see it was much larger than I remembered it. Admittedly, I didn’t visit it that much when I was a kid, and in my mind it was quite narrow, dirty and overgrown with reed. In reality, it was wide, with clear sandy areas along the coast where the locals tried to make a beach. It was interspersed in several places with bushes, trees and reed. There were ducks and even a few swans peacefully swimming in the water as the warm summer sun shone brightly. I could only see a few people far in the distance, lying on the beach. “So, what do you say?” Tom asked as we got out of his truck and descended down toward the water. “Wow, so not what I imagined!” I scanned the area, soaking up the sights. “Come on, let’s go over here.” We took our stuff with us and headed left, to one of the isolated patches of the beach. Tall shrubs were blocking the view on both sides. There were no people in that particular area, which meant we would have some privacy. I spread out my beach towel down on the sand, large enough for the both of us, and started undressing. Tom did the same, and in a few seconds we were both standing there in just our swim trunks. I didn’t have the best body in the world, as I wasn’t a big fan of the gym, but I also wasn’t embarrassed of it. However, I found it hard to keep my eyes off of Tom. He looked good enough to eat! He wasn’t beefy or ripped, but still had a nice, toned body and a lovely tan that made him even hotter. He had a small patch of hair at the center of his chest, as well as under his arms, which I found very sexy and inviting! Maybe one day he’d let me taste it... He also had a sexy treasure trail leading down to a nice bulge covered by the thin, red fabric of his trunks. I was a bit less hairy than him, with only a thin treasure trail and some armpit hair. We put sunscreen on ourselves and I couldn’t help but observe Tom as he rubbed the lotion all over his pecs, abs, arms and hairy legs. As I scanned his body and looked up, our eyes met and we smiled at each other, the knowing smiles that told us more than words could. “You look really good,” he said, almost a whisper. “Thanks, so do you,” I stepped closer and put my arms on his shoulders. “You better watch out, ‘cuz I’m gonna jump on you when you least expect it,” I replied in a low voice, wiggling my eyebrows. He just pulled me closer and gave me a peck on the lips. “I didn’t know you were so naughty,” he chuckled. “Only when I’m provoked by such cute guys!” “Come on, let’s do each other’s backs so we can go into the water,” Tom suggested and we sat down on the towel. I took my bottle of sunscreen, but Tom snatched it away from me. Moments later, I felt the cool lotion on my back, as he started rubbing it all over me. It quickly warmed up, though, and I couldn’t resist letting out a soft moan. I was enjoying it too much, but how could I not? His strong hands were touching my naked back, rubbing circles all over my shoulders, down my spine and almost down to my ass. He took his time and I knew he was enjoying it maybe as much as I was. When it was my turn, I did the same, making sure to give him the same satisfying experience he gave to me. I squeezed out some lotion in my palm and slowly rubbed it all over his broad shoulders, across his shoulder blades and down to his lower back. As I felt his back muscles relax under my fingers, I started to get hard. I was sure that if I stroked it just a few times, I would’ve come on the spot. I restrained myself, though, and finished rubbing his back. We swam for a while, splashing each other and just relaxing. The water was nice and warm, as it was a hot, sunny afternoon. If I thought Tom was cute before, seeing him all wet made me realize he was also very sexy. His brown curls now looked almost black; they fell over his forehead and almost into his eyes. As I observed tiny drops of water trickling down his neck and chest, I was overwhelmed with the desire to lick them all and cover every inch of his skin with my tongue. After swimming around for another ten minutes or so, I closed my eyes and just stayed floating in the river, relaxing and enjoying the sound of the water. Suddenly, I heard a big splash right behind me, which startled me and made me open my eyes in shock. Next thing I knew, strong arms wrapped around me and I felt kisses on my neck and heard giggling. “Hey! Not fair!” I laughed, trying to wriggle out of Tom’s grip. “You’re gonna jump on me, huh? See how that worked out for ya!” he snickered and loosened his hold on me a bit. I managed to turn around so that I was facing him, placing my hands on his waist under the water. Whenever we were that close, we were unable to resist kissing each other. As soon as his lips touched mine, I parted them to allow his tongue to enter. We moaned into each other’s mouths as our tongues grinded in unison. There was no mistaking how much we were both aroused. Our wet, almost naked bodies were pressed together and I could feel his hardness against my own. We finally broke apart and came out of the water, lying on the towel so we’d continue where we left off. We kissed some more and I was so tempted to pull his erection out and suck it. I wanted to feel all of him. Still, I did not dare go all the way - we were out in the open and the risk of someone walking in on us was still there. “What are you doing to me,” I sighed as I lay next to him, trying to catch my breath. I had no idea how I was going to endure taking it slow with him. Tom just let out a short laugh and reached out to grab my hand. He brought it to his mouth and kissed it. I relaxed and closed my eyes, enjoying the sun. “Do you miss your home and family?” he asked at one point. It was still warm outside, and we were too lazy to move from our spot on the beach. “Yeah, sometimes. Not so much my home, though. I haven’t lived there since I went to uni. But I do miss seeing my parents and my little sister.” “Are you close to them?” “Mom and I often don’t see eye to eye, but we get along. Kim and I are thick as thieves, though. She’s four years younger and she just started college. We weren’t really that close when we were kids. We used to bicker a lot: who gets the bigger room, who gets to pick the movie on movie nights, stuff like that. But things changed when I came out. I think she was thrilled to have a gay brother. She must’ve thought I’d suddenly become like one of her girlfriends, doing each other’s makeup and talking about boybands. I did none of that, but it still made our bond stronger.” Tom chuckled as I recounted my experiences growing up. “That’s nice. So they accepted you being gay?” “Yeah, I was lucky they were all really cool about it. There were some jerks in school, as always, but I didn’t pay attention to them, so they got bored of teasing me pretty quickly. And besides, I had my best friend Jae to support me, so even if someone wanted to pick on me, he’d be there for me. He’s not the strongest guy physically, but you know, going up against two people is much different than facing just one. Then we met Alison and she became the third member of our little party.” “Is Jae the guy I saw you with at the bar that night?” Tom asked. “No, that’s Travis. He’s… another friend.” “Oh. Are you two...” “No, we never dated,” I shook my head, dispelling Tom’s suspicions. “But we would hook up on occasion. We met when we were both single and got along great, so we’d get together every now and then and have some fun. We both enjoyed it, but didn’t want anything serious, so we thought why not?” I explained. Tom looked ahead of him, as if deep in thought. “But don’t worry,” I added, stroking his tanned arm, “now that we’re dating, I have no intention of being with him that way anymore.” “Ok,” he spoke softly and smiled. I leaned in and gently touched his lips with mine. “You don’t have to share me with anyone,” I reassured him. “Tell me about your friends. The guys you were with at the bar - are you all close?” “Yeah,” Tom nodded. “Riley, Steve and Matt. Good lads, we grew up together.” “Do any of them… play for our team?” I smirked. “Ahh no, they’re as straight as they come. Steve is already married and about to become a dad.” “And they’re cool with you being gay?” I asked, and Tom nodded in response. “That’s good. I don’t mean any offense, but people in small places are often not as open-minded.” “That’s true, I guess,” he said. “Like my grandparents.” “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it that way,” I looked away, embarrassed. “It’s ok, I know,” Tom said, his arm finding its way around my shoulders. “I guess they don’t know any better. I don’t think they ever met a gay person in their entire life, other than me and Donovan. And now you.” “They’ll come around. I can see they love you dearly. What about your sister’s family?” “They’ve been accepting. Debra was great from the start, but she couldn’t influence our grandparents much. Dave is also cool. I think even Kayla is starting to realize, but she doesn’t care. She’s too young to understand it all properly, I think.” “Kids are much more accepting these days. I’m sure she’ll love her uncle just as much.” As we shared stories from our lives, we got to know each other better. Tom opened up a little bit more than usual, and I was happy about that - it meant he was more comfortable around me and trusted me enough to tell me things. He even told me about his parents - something I admit I was curious about, but didn’t dare to ask. “They knew each other from school, I think it was a case of first love for both of them. When they finished high school, they decided to stay here and get married. Mom was a bit strict, but dad would spoil us rotten. As far as I remember at least. I know mom was always fussing about preparing us for school, but dad would encourage us to go out and play with the animals.” “I can see whose influence won out in the end,” I observed with a smile. “Yeah, that’s true. I have some pictures and a few videos of them. One summer, they went on a trip to the East Coast and had a traffic accident on their way back. I was only seven at the time; Debra was eight. Grandma and grandpa would tell us stories about them. I think they were afraid we would forget them, but it only made us cry.” I put my arm around his back and moved closer to him, leaning my head on his shoulder. I wondered if his parents’ death was the reason he refused to get out of Taernsby and travel. There was no easy way to ask that, so I decided not to. Maybe some other time. We stayed by the river for a little while longer, until it got chilly, so we got dressed and left. By the end of the day, I felt we were closer to each other. We said goodbye in front of his house, with a long kiss and a promise to see each other in a few days. I was looking forward to it very much.
  4. Justin and Matt arrived in the very early morning at the Highgate house. Justin felt as though he had truly come home when they hauled their many bags out of the taxi and into the hall. He now had more clothes than he knew how to deal with. Matt and he sorted through them. They were all clean, as the yacht’s laundry system was ruthless. You just had to drop a pair of socks and they were washed and pressed. After that experience, Matt wanted to get the question of dirty laundry in his own house sorted. ‘Face it Justy, you’re going to be here for a while. We each do our own laundry, although the cleaner will do the ironing. Tomorrow I’ll explain how the machine works.’ ‘Urgh. Do I really have to come to terms with life?’ ‘Yes,’ said Matt decidedly. Unfortunately for Justin, Fate took Matt literally the next morning. A ring on the doorbell brought Matt groggily to the front door at eleven. He’d fallen into bed under the influence of jet lag, as had Justin, still somewhere beneath the duvet in his own room. Matt blinked at the black woman on his doorstep. ‘Yes?’ ‘It’s Tanya Thompson, Dr White. You remember me?’ ‘Oh … right. Yes. Justin’s case officer. I wasn’t expecting you. Was there an appointment?’ ‘No. But I’m glad to catch you. Is Justin around?’ ‘He’s flat out in bed. We flew in from St Kitts at three this morning.’ Tanya smiled. ‘The idea of Justin in high society on a tropical island is, to say the least, amusing.’ Matt invited her in. ‘He was very good, y’know. He made a lot of friends, and took millionaires, billionaires and prime ministers in his stride.’ ‘How do you feel about fostering him now? ‘We love the boy. For all his aggressiveness, he’s brave, funny, clever and dauntless … and he’s getting better every day. He can learn.’ ‘The kid needed just one break, and you seem to have given it to him. I’m so pleased. But I’m not here just to touch base. His mother’s ill.’ ‘Oh … I’m sorry. Is it serious?’ ‘It’s terminal.’ ‘What! When did this happen?’ ‘She was taken into hospital two nights ago, after she collapsed in a pub in Manor Park. When they put her through tests, they found her riddled with cancer. It had metastasized into her brain.’ ‘God! How long has she got?’ ‘Not very long, I think. Justin will need to be told. Now, I’m willing to do it if you’d rather.’ ‘What? Er … I’ll get him and we’ll do this together.’ Matt raised a reluctant Justin from the warm pit into which he had burrowed and got him to dress and come down. ‘Oy … Tanya,’ he greeted her, still a little dazed. ‘It wasn’t me, whatever it was. I was outa the country.’ ‘I know, Justin. My, do you look handsome now … the hair, the tan, the clothes. Nobody’d recognise the Animal of Seven Sisters.’ Matt placed himself close to Justin on the sofa. Justin asked, ‘So whassup?’ ‘It’s your mother, Justin. She’s very ill. She’s in hospital and the doctors don’t give her very long.’ ‘Uh! Wha …? You’re kiddin’. Can’t be right. She’s always sayin’ there’s somefink wrong with ‘er, but there never is.’ ‘It’s cancer, Justin, the unsuspected and fast-working type. It started in her pancreas. It’s a matter of days, not months.’ ‘Aw, jeez, no. Where is she? I need to be there. Matt …?’ ‘I’ll get the car round now.’ Matt drove Justin through the busy streets to the North Middlesex General. It was twelve-thirty by the time they arrived, and Justin had hardly uttered a word. His heart was pounding as they traced their way through the maze of corridors to find his mother’s ward. There were six beds, all but one of them occupied by elderly women. Mrs Macavoy lay in the sixth bed by the window, linked to a drip feeding morphine into her system. She was asleep. Justin stared down at his mother, who looked like a hollow shell of the woman he had known. Never robust, she now seemed to have collapsed inside. Her hair was lank, her breathing laboured. He sat by the bed, and the movement caused her to stir. ‘Ma?’ She struggled to turn. ‘Justy? That you?’ ‘Iss me, ma. How you feelin?’ He took her cold hand. ‘I been better, son. You been abroad. How was it? I’m glad you’re back. They said I’m not gonna get better.’ Justin told her about his time in the sun, the things he’d done and seen, and the people he’d met. He talked and talked to her in a way he had not done since he was nine years old, knowing that his chances to do so would soon be gone for good. Eventually he was able to say the things he had to say, and ask the questions he had to ask. She died late that night as Justin dozed beside her. He woke to find her hand lifeless in his. Before calling the nurse, he studied her still body for a few minutes. You only got one mother, and this had been his, in all her imperfections and weaknesses. But she had nonetheless been his, and her passing took something out of his life which could not be replaced. . The nurse held his shoulder for a while and told him he could have more time if he wanted, but he shook his head. He wandered out into the corridor, where he discovered Matt, asleep on a bench with his rolled-up coat under his head, looking surreally beautiful in this place of sickness and death, like an angel come to visit. Justin, very moved, bent down to awake him gently. He blinked and looked a question. ‘She’s gone, Matt.’ He sat up, took his foster son in his strong arms and kissed him. They sat there a while, until eventually Justin put his head on Matt’s shoulder and wept silently. When he subsided, Matt rose and took him out to the car. Then he went back inside to the reception desk, where he made the necessary arrangements about the body. ‘We’ll take care of the funeral and stuff, Justy. Leave it to me. I’ve rung Andy and he’s on the way back now. I also took the liberty of ringing Nathan. He’s waiting for you in Highgate. He’ll be staying for a bit.’ Justin murmured his thanks and said nothing else till the car drew up outside the house. Nathan was at the door. They looked at each other, Justin amazed at how beautiful his boyfriend was and how he could have forgotten it. Then they were in each other’s arms and hugging, banishing Justin’s feeling of hollowness. There remained still another soul that loved him unconditionally. He would not need to sleep alone again. Nathan had told his parents that he was leaving for Justin, who needed him. His bags and possessions were stacked in the hall, and Justin’s room in Matt’s house was his now too. *** The funeral was in the Dominican priory in Muswell Hill, Matt’s and Andy’s place of worship. Justin and Nathan sat in the front pew of the baroque church, two movingly handsome boys in neat black suits, openly holding hands. There were a lot of mourners, not just Matt and Andy but all their circle, including Terry, who had flown in specially. Mr and Mrs Underwood came, which impressed Justin, knowing how upset they had been when Nathan had left them for him. Justin’s social workers and his mother’s neighbours were there too. The priest who took the service did a fine job. Because Mrs Macavoy’s acknowledged Catholicism justified a full requiem, Andy paid for a choir and musicians and Matt selected the music with the help of some clued-up friends. The end result was ordered, solemn and beautiful: a poignant contrast to the chaotic life it celebrated. The two boys led the mourners out behind the coffin and stood at the church door hand in hand as it was loaded into the hearse. There were masses of flowers. There was to be a cremation and a scattering of ashes. ‘Okay, Justy?’ murmured Nathan. ‘Yeah, Nate. It was beautiful, wasn’ it?’ ‘I’m not one for churches much, but that was something special. I’m sure your mum would have been pleased.’ ‘Yeah. Nothing like a grand farewell, is there?’ They assembled at Matt’s house after the committal at Golders Green. Waiters circulated and the buffet tables were full. It was a warm day, which encouraged people to spill out into the garden. Tanya caught up with Justin and murmured her regrets. He thanked her. ‘So what now, Tanya? What happens to me?’ ‘You’re now in council care, Justin, and stay fostered if you want. Mr Peacher and Dr White certainly don’t mind. In fact, they’d be very upset if you moved on.’ ‘What if I’ve got more family? They might have an idea that I should be in their care.’ ‘But … do you?’ ‘Before she died, me mum told me who me dad was. What if I found him?’ ‘That would change things. Legally, he could ask for control, although his long history of indifference would tell against him. Aren’t you happy here? You seemed to be.’ ‘Losing your mum when you’re a kid changes your ideas. Now it turns out I still have one parent somewhere. Iss important to me to find the man.’ ‘Then talk to Matt and Andy. If anyone can help you, it’ll be them. Who is he?’ ‘She said he was a young guy called Jack Whittaker. She had known him in school and he had got her pregnant, but then wanted nothing to do with raising a family. It turned out he was gay, which may explain a few things.’ Tanya shook her head. ‘It’s not a hereditary thing, Justin.’ ‘No? Well, whatever. He should be curious that he had a gay kid at least.’ *** Late that night, after everyone was gone, Nathan and Justin were alone with Matt and Andy in the big lounge. The French windows were open to let in the cool night air and the lights were on in the garden flat. London hummed with city noise outside. The two couples were in the same pose: Andy and Justin lying back on their boyfriends’ laps on facing sofas. Nathan was stroking Justin’s hair gently, looking fondly down at him, just soaking up the very real pleasure of being close to his lover and not having to leave him. Matt broke the ice. ‘Justy, Andy and I have been thinking. We’ve talked it through. We’re ready to adopt you, if you’ll let us. We want you to know that we’d like to take more than temporary responsibility for you, that we’ll always be here for you … that we love you.’ ‘Yes,’ added Andy, with a broad grin, ‘this is the point, Justy. You might not be the sort of kid we’d have chosen to have or dreamed about, but maybe this is a lesson to us that we didn’t really know what was good for us. You have been good for us, and we can’t imagine now not being part of your life. Please say yes, punk. Make our day.’ Justin did not answer at once. ‘Would this mean I become Justin Peacher?’ ‘You could if you wanted to, although it sounds a bit odd. We just want you to be our Justin, and Justin Macavoy was the name your mother gave you.’ ‘Would it mean that I get yer money when you die?’ Matt raised his eyebrows. ‘Well, yes it would, at least some of it.’ ‘That would make me very rich, wouldn’t it? You’re both rollin’ in it.’ ‘It’d be an awful lot more than a lottery win, that’s for sure. But we intend to outlive you, so don’t worry about it: the rate you smoke, I don’t fancy your chances,’ added Andy, with a glint in his sharp blue eye. ‘But it would mean our taking some responsibility for your financial future, and we’re happy about that. We’ve both got far more money than we could ever use. You’re a good use of it, Justy.’ Justin remained pensive. ‘I do love you both, you know that. But two things: I wanna find me real dad and until I do, I don’t wanna think about being adopted. The other thing is that, if I did let you go ahead, what would people say ’bout me? “He was suckin’ up to them two fabulously rich queers just to get hold of their cash. He’s no more than a petty criminal grown up to be an ambitious con artist.” No. Iss as generous an offer as I’d expect of the two of you. But I can’t accept.’ Andy had sat up now, and was leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, as was Matt. Finally he said, ‘If anything proved how much you’ve grown, Justy, it was what you just said. Okay then. We accept your reasons, but we’ll not let you forget the offer was made.’ *** Terry had gone to visit his parents immediately after the funeral, but returned four days later. He had decided to disable the bugs installed by Anson’s team in Highgate. For weeks some very sophisticated electronics had been feeding innocent random domestic noises into them. Now he had fried the sensors with an electronic pulse, a process which fascinated Nathan. Terry was hanging round the garden when the Andersons van returned with the boys. Justin had finally been given a full-time job by Mr Anderson and a funded apprenticeship. He was to start his Ordinary National Diploma in Horticulture in a couple of months with the new term in September. The two boys were full of fun, despite a hard day cutting the grass at a series of school playing fields. Justin launched himself at Terry and hugged him hard. ‘Uncle Terry!’ ‘Ooh, you stink, Justy,’ was the reply he got. ‘Yeah, we’re gonna have raunchy sex in a sec … wanna watch?’ ‘Tempting, but no thanks. I want to be able to keep me supper down. Hi Nate! How’s the marriage going?’ ‘Brilliant, Terry. Waking up day after day next to the boy I love is happiness you just can’t buy. Even if he does fart like a pig and smoke like a bacon factory.’ ‘And you love it too, yer pervert. Yeah, but there’s somethin’ even better than sleeping together … iss wha’ we do before we sleep. He ploughed me three times last night. It was drippin’ out me ears by the time he finished. Total stud, me Nate. Got more of a hose than a dick.’ ‘Boys, boys, boys. Moderation in all things. You’ll wear out your body parts.’ ‘Crap. We’re teenagers. Our hormones doan’ understand the meaning of the word. And from what Pete was tellin’ me, moderation wasn’t something you ever understood when you wuz our age, either.’ ‘Then I will have to tell your foster fathers, who I expect will be most displeased.’ Justin made a very rude noise, and the two ran up the stairs, the door of their room closing behind them with a bang. Terry shook his head, but gave a tolerant smile. ‘Kids,’ he muttered to himself. * * * Matt had become desperate. The laundry was beginning to get on top of him, and the huge demands made on his fridge and cupboards by the appetites of two active and healthy teenagers were outstripping his ability to shop. Biting the bullet at last, he had employed a housekeeper. Mrs Atkinson was a quiet but unflappable woman who had already got the cleaner under control, and was standing up well to the demands of Matt’s highly unconventional household. She was even beginning to insist on proper meal times. The only emerging problem was the attitude of Dave Evans, who viewed her appointment as a reflection on his oversight of the house from the garage. Everyone had drifted into the dining room by seven, and despite what they had told Terry, Justin and Nathan were now clean and barefoot in fresh casuals. With Andy still in Highgate, he and Matt took up opposite ends of the table. Nate and Mate, as they liked to be called, sat down one side, while Terry and a man strange to the boys sat opposite. Matt did the introductions. ‘Nathan and Justin, this is Will Vincent, a business associate of mine and also a close friend. He’s stopping over in London for a few days, so be nice to him. Will, these are the two lads who are complicating our lives enormously at the moment.’ ‘… but in a nice way,’ added Nathan sweetly, smiling at Will. ‘Dave sends greetings,’ Matt continued, ‘but refuses to come into the house as long as Mrs Atkinson is here, which is also complicating my life. Nate and Justy, he asked me to pass on a message for you. It’s from the features editor of our old friends at Gay Universe, wanting an interview – strangely, not with me or even Andy, but with you two.’ ‘What?’ they exclaimed simultaneously. ‘Oh yes, the gay press has developed an entirely predictable interest in you two celebrity teens.’ ‘Wow! We’re celebrities now.’ Justin grinned broadly at the idea. ‘It’s not what it’s cracked up to be, Justy,’ cautioned Matt. ‘You’re telling me,’ added Will Vincent. He seemed to be recalling something painful. The teens stared at him. When he smiled at them, he suddenly looked awfully familiar, although Justin couldn’t work out why. ‘The fact that two high-profile gays like Andy and I have fostered a gay teenager who is in a relationship with another boy has caught the attention of people in that section of the gay community which watches soaps. It’s mostly prurience, and you’ll have to expect the questions will deal with little more than your raging hormones and your sex life.’ ‘Yeah,’ interjected Justin, ‘but that is all there is to talk about, innit?’ ‘Not at all, Justy. Anyway, I told the editor I’d speak to you, but cautioned him there will be no skin shots unless you want and unless I can veto them. And there’s to be no feature at all if you say you want to pull out. If you do that and they don’t keep off your backs afterwards, we have lots and lots of lawyers from our favourite chambers of Rottweiler, Doberman and Co who will have some very cogent arguments as to why they should.’ ‘Me and Nate’ll think about it then. You okay with it, Nate?’ ‘I’m not sure, but we’ll talk.’ The conversation turned to the impact the media had made on their lives, even if they hadn’t wanted it. Andy told his story about how he’d been outed when he was nineteen, and how the nastiest fringe of the press had nearly destroyed him. Terry didn’t have such problems, he said, for he moved in the shadows. The main problem the press gave him was how to keep the paps away from his employers. ‘Mind you, sometimes celebrity can be fun, don’t you think?’ He winked at Will, who blushed. Justin studied the man. He was good looking and obviously worked out, but there was something else about him that was attractive as well. He projected a mixture of shyness and sexiness that was a decided turn-on despite his age. Justin recognised the face too. ‘Ere, I knows you, doan’ I? I seen you in mags.’ ‘Oh Christ … there’s no hiding it even from kids! You’re a dirty little tyke, aren’t you?’ ‘He is,’ interjected Terry. ‘Waddya mean?’ Justin was instantly full of suspicion. ‘He means, criminal babe, that you’ve been looking at gay porn. Will also answers to the name of Jason Williams, porn star extraordinaire. So when did you run into him?’ ‘Aw … now I knows.’ Justin sniggered. ‘Yeah, it was in a stack of gay mags I found in a burned-out garage. Wanked over them for days, I did. So, Jason, you still in porn?’ ‘No, he isn’t,’ declared Matt. ‘He’s now CEO of a very respectable and successful media business in Central Europe. He’s just bought three TV channels in the Czech Republic and Rothenia.’ ‘But I keep myself off the TV screen, believe me. And I daren’t go near gay clubs … unless, that is, I want a thrilling night.’ ‘How’s Oskar doing?’ Terry asked, with an aside to Justin, ‘That’s his former boyfriend, a very famous porn god called Marc Bennett. You’ve doubtless wanked all over him too.’ ‘Oskar’s helping run the TV side of things now; he’s just opened the Prague office. I was hoping he might be coming here too, but he said he’s got too much on his plate right now to let him get away. He’s become very secretive of late. It may be because he’s found a boyfriend, we think. He’s cagy about letting on who it is, which means it’s probably someone very common and he’s embarrassed.’ Will looked at Justin and smiled. ‘Oskar’s a genuine aristocrat, born a prince no less, and sometimes a bit too conscious of it for his own good.’ ‘How’s your Felip doing?’ ‘He’s a cameraman. Mostly legit. But against my advice, he’s still taking work on for Falkefilm. He says he gets more of a buzz from filming copulating men than documentaries on economic stagnation in Slovakia.’ ‘Oh,’ quipped Terry, ‘then Max Wolf still lives.’ ‘Yeah, but not in front of the camera, at least. It’s that Hendrik. He still has a lot of influence over his former porn models. They can’t think of him as someone who exploited them when they were young and vulnerable.’ ‘Now he’s a weird one,’ said Terry. ‘I liked him, though. Nice bloke in some ways. He asked me to join him at his villa on the Croatian coast this summer. Probably wanted to talk me into doing wicked stuff for him … maybe he fancied me as a porno star too. If only I’d met him when I was a teen … I’d have been as good as Oskar, I bet. Maybe not as good as you, Will, but still up there with the best of the Rothenian boys.’ The talking, laughing and stories went on for a good two hours. Justin found the meal fascinating, as much so as the adults round the table, their lives and bizarre experiences. Secrets of the security world, the manoeuvres of media empires, and the kinky sexuality of the Central European porn industry went past him in baroque procession. In the middle of it all was Terry, whose life touched every aspect of it. He told the story of how he had saved Will from the grips of a porn king and a devilish trap set by some very clever men. He was like some hero of ancient days: endlessly resourceful and courageous, totally cool and confident. More than ever, Justin felt the tug of Terry’s world. They ended up in the lounge with glasses of wine and spirits. The adults were still going strong at ten when Nathan yawned and prodded Justin with his foot. The demands of the gardening job sent Justin to bed now at times he would never have tolerated during his time on the streets. As they were ascending the stairs hand in hand, Terry called up and threw them a DVD box that Nathan fielded. The cover had a picture of a nude Will in a clinch with another nude and beautiful young man, backed by a view of an ancient city. The cover said An American in Strelzen. Terry put his finger to his lips and winked. Nathan protested at setting it going in their room, and found plenty to make fun of in the opening scenes. When the sex began, however, his mouth fell open and he said no more. His hand was soon inside his boxers fondling his own member. Justin threw off his clothes, lay out and stroked himself. Soon they were side by side, naked and stroking each other as scenes of hot and amazingly passionate copulation played out before their eyes. By the time the last ejaculations spurted on the screen, Justin was impaled on Nathan’s cock, bouncing up and down, while Nathan stared round his slim body at the film. After their own climaxes, the boys looked at each other. Nathan said, ‘Well if gardening ever gets boring, I know what I fancy doing.’ ‘Yeah, but only wiv me, lover. I wanna talk to Will tomorrow. Got a lot of questions for the bloke.’ They nestled together naked and satiated in the dark. Before they fell asleep, however, Nathan asked, ‘Justy babe, you’re up to something over this Gay Universe article, aren’t you?’ ‘Er … why d’you say that?’ ‘Cos, my babe, I can read you. There was a little furrow of concentration on your forehead when you were thinking about it. It’s a sign there’s a clever idea brewing in that pretty head of yours.’ The bedclothes rustled as Justin rose up on his elbows. ‘Okay. So I am. Me dad is Jack Whittaker. What do we know about him? Only that he’s gay. What’s the biggest circulation gay mag in the UK? Only Gay Universe. The sad story of little orphan Macavoy is going to get out, along with his desire to meet his long-lost father. We may get a response or we may not, but issa start, innit?’ Nathan pulled his lover close and gave him a lingering kiss on the mouth. Letting Justin go he said quietly, ‘In that case, my chavvy babe, I’ll go along with the interview.’ There was silence, followed by a small voice: ‘I love you, my Nathan.’ ‘And I love you, my Justin.’
  5. Today
  6. Wow... I've had to read this three times, before I could comment on it. You're correct that storytellers, like me, can take this to heart as much as a poet could. The advice is sound and it shows the perspective an artist of any medium needs to take in order to do their work. I never heard of Rilke until I read what you posted hear and over in the Poet's thread. I might need to look him up.
  7. Will Hawkins

    Lon Chapter 1

    I have recommended Grammarly to authors frequently, but I didn't know they had a version that would accept British spelling. I am glad to see it is getting around. I normally don't bother with stories with only a few chapters, but I have read some of your longer tales and enjoy your writing skills as well as learning more and more about my second favorite country, next to my own that is, but then I am losing love for the USA considering our present political situation.
  8. Rilke's poems are powerful. And just beautiful. So beautiful. They speak to me. They touch me. Move me. Even though I do not always know what they are about, they make me feel. Not all of them. Naturally. This letter is something I have not come across, so thank you for introducing me to it. His way of describing the creation of art, of poetry tells me that it will take up a huge space in our lives. More than we usually are willing, or brave enough, or able to give up... I, for one, know that I am not brave enough for it. I'd like to know what translation you use. The translations of my favourite poems online do not really convince me.
  9. Does anything last forever? That question is on the mind of Tad, one of the protagonists in this tale. This isn't a story of eternal happiness, instead, it is one of using the time we have the best way that we can. A life well-lived means that we go on long after our last breath - a fleeting life, rippling out forever.
  10. frosenblum

    Lon Chapter 3

    We've met the cast of characters and now the play has started with a mystery. Good story so far I suspect we'll soon learn all about what an Aussie country farrier and vet does. I enjoy when you teach us about stuff that has become unfamiliar to our "modern" lives.
  11. It's moving, isn't it? Pricked deeply at my soul, too.
  12. giving this a million hearts would not be enough ... you can have some tears instead ... and my own beating heart apologies... thank You, Sir.
  13. Yes, the wedding and birthday celebration will be awesome, and I'm sorry to keep dragging the Hubbard situation out, but it will be resolved soon, so just hang in there.
  14. Read, commented and reviewed. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. It is an example of how many little gems there are on GA.
  15. A great short story that will likely leave you wishing for more. A realistic slice of life, it is well worth taking the time to read.
  16. Great short story that begs for more. This first physical interaction was intense and wonderfully written; it shows how well they knew each other from their online relationship. The connection was definitely there, but the hinted at sadness to come takes this story to another level. Sometimes, we should be careful of what we wish for. Jay might learn that soon enough. Thanks for this... cheers... Gary....
  17. I've been reading translated poems of Rilke lately, who is recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets. In the early 1900s, Rilke wrote letters to a young German military cadet who sought his guidance on his own poetry. These letters were poetry in their own right, dynamic and inspiring. The following is an excerpt from one such letter, which galvanizes the creative process, not exclusive to poetry or writing in my opinion, but for all forms of artistic self-expression: “Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose... ...Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty - describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don’t blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds – wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. - And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to interest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters to a Young Poet
  18. It's nice to held the wedding on Joshs birthday, because all can have a great party with him, Pat and Tori. I hope in the next chapter, that Hubbard is going to .... Thank you Bill for another enjoying chapter.
  19. Dabeagle

    Lexus Sketch

    That's adorable!
  20. @Cia actually made the break, when Owen realises how difficult it is to find a job in London. Cia made the right choice and it reads well broken there.
  21. Not having a Premium account, I'm actually intrigued as to exactly where Drew made the break to convert it into 2 chapters. Although I suppose I could check that easily enough simply by looking at the word count for chapter 1....
  22. That is the highest praise to me, you want to know more. I love writing stories and tapping into what stories mean to people, and when that resonates with a reader it is amazing.
  23. Nikko

    Secret Santa

    Great read so far. Ready for the next chapter
  24. Aceinthehole

    The Next Step

    I think the next step is a bit hard to describe, but is a deeper love than Artie has been showing up to this point. In the past couple chapters we've seen Dizzy seem to fall harder than he already has. He's overtly affectionate and almost dependent on Artie. However, Artie's been assuming it's for physical reasons and even Charlotte has to steer him away from that idea. Dizzy has been in numerous relationships, while this is still Artie's first. So I guess what I'm saying is, while Artie has shown a mature sense of love, he still needs to grow into it and learn how to fully understand what it means to be in more than a typical high school relationship. I rambled a bit, but hopefully that helps!
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