As I undo my tie and quickly walk out through the open gate and off the school grounds, I hear footfalls and the shuffling of shoes behind me and then the familiar voice of Austin. "Chez, wait up." He places his hand on my shoulder as I continue to traverse along the footpath, having no plan as to where to go or what to do. Before responding I notice the presumably innocent children playing in the park across the road and their respective bored parents sitting on a bench before locking my gaze upon Austin and smiling. "Wouldn't it be nice to be like those kids again?" I point in the direction of the children frolicking on the grass who are trying to hit each other with sticks. "We will probably end up punished or worse." I deliberately move my head from side to side trying to remove the tension from my neck as I swipe the sweat that that was beginning to form on my forehead.
Austin retrieves a small tree branch off the ground and gently scratches my arm with it. "You are precocious Chezdon. We are still just kids. We can still play in the park and not take anything too seriously if that is what we want to do. I am obviously not in the same rush to grow up as you are." Austin tosses the branch over his shoulder and onto the street. A Mercedes passes us a second later. The driver raises his middle finger and beeps the horn, most likely thinking Austin intentionally chucked the branch at his fine motorcar.
I pull my backpack off and awkwardly shove my tie into the top pocket. After returning the heaving bag to my right shoulder, I casually unfasten the top three buttons of my white shirt. The few minutes that I have had to reflect since bolting out of class has caused me to feel a certain amount of mirth. It is very rare that I allow such nonsense that is said in class to bother me however it is the pious look that was on Jayden's smug face that set me off. It irritates me far more than any words that he uttered in class, or those that were written in the gospel, that there is an edict stating how boys should piss. The school has numerous other silly rules that I have never bothered to comment on at least out loud in front of the authority figures. It bothers me that I couldn't keep control in class. My provocative opinions amuse me though, along with some others when I feel like I want to entertain myself and my peers, but they do tend to get me in trouble. I know my big mouth is also my tragic flaw and I wonder how long it will be until I face my reckoning. My phone begins to vibrate in the back pocket of my shorts. I ignore the annoying device and choose to quarantine it and simply wipe the sweat beads off my forehead again using the back of my hand. I roll my eyes at Austin and revert to watching where I am going so I don't trip on the uneven pavement. "That is thought-provoking mate. I never thought of you as being such a deep cunt." Nervously, I grab the back of my head and mess my hair up further.
Austin laughs and after a few seconds, looks up into the leafy trees that cover not only the footpath but the street. "I doubt they will expel you. You just expressed an opinion and essentially walked out of class. I will be in the shit though when I get home if Mister Mackey reports it. The only damning thing you said was that misogynist comment about the headmistress." Austin remains sanguine in what waits for us back at Melbourne Grammar. There is no continuing commentary from him about being castigated by parents and the school for that matter. His calm demeanour quickly settles me down. "Do you want to go to Nandos?"
I look at Austin and then start to giggle. "Mmmkay Austin. Please just sit your arse down on the toilet to piss and be happy about it. You are an evil man for spraying urine on the floor!" I put on a voice resembling Mister Mackey, the dishevelled elementary school guidance counsellor from the cartoon South Park. Most students in our English Literature don’t bother to refer to him by his proper name. It is just 'Sir' or when we are outside of the class, 'Mister Mackey.'
My pace slows as my circumspection quickly evolves into sheer and utter amusement. I hold my stomach and start laughing so uncontrollably that tears start to well up in my eyes which then finally stream down my face. I attempt to commentate the events that transpired in the last ten minutes, and as I do, I interject every third word with more laughter, until I get to the point that I must drop my bag on the ground in the desperate hope of controlling myself. Austin begins to laugh and attempts to mimic the silly statements that our teacher had to say, starting every statement with 'Mmmkay' like the fictional cartoon character would do as monotonal as humanly possible. "Oh god, I can't take much more, please stop!" Austin starts to laugh as he continues to imitate Mr Mackey again. We halt on the footpath to carry on like fools, it gives a group of the boys who left English Literature after us a chance to catch up to us.
Malcolm, the brown-haired alpha male of the group whom we both know only as an acquaintance, is the first to shout. "Chezdon! That was so awesome mate!" He puts his hand up and I do the same. Our hands smack together and then we fist-bump. He speaks to me like we have been best mates since birth. "That was just amazing mate. You summed up exactly what we were thinking." Malcolm's three friends nod their heads and both Austin and I start smacking their hands which of course are followed by the requisite fist-bumps. "You totally owned Mackey, it was priceless!" The group starts laughing after Austin simply says ‘Mmmkay’ and then smiles. "What is this shit that Jayden was saying about the two of you though? Was he saying you are gay for each other?"
Austin's face immediately turns a shade of crimson and immediately drops his head. I knew what Jayden had to say in class effectively outed us, but with the hilarity of the moment, I didn't think I would be questioned about it on the street so soon. With nothing to lose, I gaze directly into Malcolm's blue eyes and then quickly glance at the other boys who seem eager for my response. "Yeah, so what. Do you have a problem with that?" Austin looks up at Malcolm and then at me.
Malcolm appears stunned and his eyes convulse toward his friends who then quickly start looking back and forth at one another. The awkward dialogue that has quickly evolved from back-slapping hilarity and fist-bumping action to time-stopping seriousness. "No mate. We just never would have guessed. What the two of you do behind closed doors isn't my business, it is all good." The other three boys nod their heads in unison and repeat in their own words how it is all good and that there are no worries. "What the fuck is Jayden's problem then? You could get him on a bullying charge you know. What he said is just not cool. Isn't he a door knocker?"
I laugh and after rolling my eyes, I wipe more beads of sweat that have accumulated on my forehead with the back of my hand. "You know what, I really don't care what Jayden said. I know far cleverer people than him who have tried to insult me, bully me and call me names throughout my life. Why should I care? It happens to all of us and if that cunt can manage to offend me by saying what he did, I should just cut myself and end it all right here and now."
Austin looks at Malcolm and makes one sound. "Mmmkay." Everyone laughs. "Jayden thrives on schadenfreude because he is just a dickhead."
Malcolm slaps Austin on the shoulder with enthusiasm. "You are a cool bloke Austin." He extends his hand so he can fist-bump us once again. The process is then repeated by his gang of three. "What the hell does that word you just said mean though? You are the walking word of the day mate."
Austin moves his fringe and then scratches the back of his head. "Wow, I wasn't expecting that. Jayden is a fuckwit though, that much is true. He just gets pleasure from others misfortune. That is what that word means." My look of confusion subsides as I add a new word to my vocabulary.
"Malcolm, what is a door knocker?" I ask innocently. I know what he is inferring but I want him to put it in his own words.
Malcolm smiles and stretches his arms over his head. It is obvious looking at him that carbohydrates are not part of his diet and that he visits the gym with some regularity. "You know, a Jehovah's witness. The bastards that come and knock on your door on Saturday morning to talk to you about religion and what-not. Don't they knock on your door?"
I pick up my backpack and slide it over my shoulders anticipating this conversation will end soon. "I live in an apartment tower so they wouldn't be able to get in to knock on my door. But anyway, Jayden is agnostic and lazy so I really doubt he would wander around and do such a thing." I knew there were groups of people that would door knock and preach the word of some God, but I have never seen it happen in person.
Not being content with being silent any longer, Charlie, who previously only contributed only heavy breathing to the conversation and who appears to be losing the war against acne, finally speaks. "Better to be door knocked by some bible bashers instead of goddamned ISIS. I wouldn't want those pricks turning up at my house." Charlie looks relieved that ISIS has never paid a visit to him in whatever suburban area that he lives in.
"You really think ISIS would knock on your door mate?" Malcolm asks with a thoughtful look on his face. The banal conversation causes me to clear my throat and adjust my backpack. "Those arseholes would knock down your door and lop off your ugly head."
I raise my voice with the hope of shutting down the conversation. "Boys, we need to go. We need to be heading to visit my father in the hospital so can I just wish you well now?" The look of agitation on my face causes Austin to look out and watch the children play in the park again however he understands my play on words and chuckles.
The hand smacking and fist-bumping commence to end the final act and I feel self-conscious when Malcolm gives me a hug. He would have felt that my shirt has become saturated with sweat before his followers start to walk away. "What is wrong with your old man? Can I get your number?" Malcolm looks at Austin before continuing. "By the way, if you boys need anything let me know." He hands me his unlocked phone and I retrieve my phone from my back pocket, unlock it, and hand it to Malcolm.
I pinch my lips together and shrug my shoulders as I watch Austin pick up his bag. What could Malcolm possibly be offering? Does he want to beat up Jayden? Perhaps sell us drugs? I am confident that he thinks I am more innocent than I truly am after making such an offer. "He was in a car accident yesterday. He will be fine though. He is just bored if anything sitting around in the bloody hospital." Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction and as we exchange phones once again before walking away from our new friends waving. I wonder if life will get any stranger before the sun sets.
The irony of my father being in the hospital and me using the term 'he will kill me' when I make a reference to walking out of class makes Austin laugh. I remind him that he, along with others followed me like mice after the Pied Piper and that we need to accept our fate when we return to school. Unfazed, he expresses interest yet again in joining me on my short walk to the hospital. Austin suggests that we purchase many coffees and take Daniel a few cups after I say that we will not have time to go to eat at Nandos and visit the hospital if we plan to return back to school and face our reckoning on time. I should inform Daniel about my shenanigans earlier and as I ponder exactly what to say, a sense of dread quickly envelops me. He will remind me that he pays a substantial amount of money for me to attend this illustrious private institution. I really hope that after the ceremonial offer of roasted beans, the wild and injured beast will be appeased.
I inspect Austin like he is a tomato at the farmers market. We casually walk into the McDonalds and order a cardboard tray full of flat white coffees from the McCafe kiosk. Whilst waiting for the barista to do her duty, I take some time to check the messages that have been delivered to my phone whilst admiring Austin's frame out of the corner of my eye. One message is from Shaun who provides a gentle reminder that we have a movie night planned for this evening which causes my face to turn red. I am embarrassed because I forgot about our arrangement. "Hey Austin, what are your plans later?" I pose my question loud enough for all the patrons that are ordering junk food to hear. Most of the customers in the queue promptly turn around to stare at me. They collectively then glare at Austin who is graciously collecting the tray of coffees from the enthusiastic server behind the counter.
Austin appears embarrassed. It was an innocent question after all. "Let's go!" Austin quickly walks toward the automatic sliding door and I follow him, bemused as we flee into the mild yet crisp Melbourne air with the sun shining on us from above. "Why do you have to be so loud?"
I jog so I can catch up with him with my backpack awkwardly swaying from side to side like a pendulum. "Sorry, I didn't mean it like that. Here, let me take those." I grab the cardboard tray of coffee cups from Austin's cold hands. "Thanks for that, my father will be kicking me out and welcoming you to the family home soon enough if you keep this up." A wide grin forms on my face as Austin takes a moment to wipe the sweat off his forehead with his arm. He then moves his hand to the back of his neck and rubs it vigorously.
Austin appears circumspect and his eyes widen as we continue to traverse along the footpath. The entrance to the hospital is roughly as far as you can throw a cat. "Tonight, I am going to tell my parents not to expect any grandchildren from me and that I like guys. That I like you. I am sure that will go down well." He averts his gaze to the pavement as we walk towards the entrance of the Alfred Hospital. "Keep your phone on and make sure it isn't on silent. I will be ringing you later as I am confident that all hell will break loose." Austin looks at me and places his hand on my shoulder before we walk into the air-conditioned hospital.
"Wow." I wasn't expecting this proclamation from Austin and different scenarios start playing through my mind as to what his parents will say when he makes the confession that he likes cock. His mother will be devastated since she wants him to produce a grandchild and carry on the family name. His father will most likely only be annoyed because his romantic interest is the demon spawn of Daniel Morrison. "Yeah, well. I can go with you if you want. Whatever you need, I am there for you." I remove Austin's hand from my shoulder and then hold it gently before abruptly stopping. "Just promise me that if you don't think you will get a positive outcome after you start talking to your parents that you pull out before it is too late. There is no point in making your life difficult"
Austin stops in time with me. "What do you mean before it is too late?"
"You have to live with them Austin so if you think that the discussion is going to turn out to be shitty and your life will end up being hell and awkward, don't tell them anything especially that your crush is me. It isn't worth it. Just keep fitting in until you can move out. Your sexuality is part of your identity but in this case, the power of your parents will trump it, and you have to admit, your parents are not going to take this confession well."
"What do I have to lose? I can always come and live with you especially since I look at you as more than my crush these days." Austin states matter-of-factly and looks deadly serious before starting to laugh and winking at me. "I will be fine."
I become in my thoughts and play out various scenarios involving Austin in my mind. Returning my gaze to my phone, I discover a message from Mel which provides some much-needed insight as to how to locate my father at the hospital. "I hope so. Maybe because Daniel and Mel were so accommodating and understanding when I made the big announcement that I am a fag, I naturally assume that it should be easy for everyone else, but I still do expect all hell to break loose." Austin begins to gnaw on his fingernail as I continue to read the message from Mel. "We need to go to the west wing on level three." I wrap my hand around Austin's wrist and pull his hand along with the fingernail he is chewing on out of his mouth and use his digit to press the button to call the elevator. "Don't stress, everything will be just fine."
A few minutes later we find ourselves at an information kiosk on level three of the hospital. An attractive nurse that has cat-like features with brown hair pulled back into a ponytail consults her computer and points us in the direction of another kiosk further down the bowels of the wing. As she speaks, she stares at my exposed hairless chest as I forgot that I undid a few too many of the buttons on my shirt because I was so hot earlier. I smile and thank her for her help and we quickly toddle off. A few seconds later Austin quickly wraps his arm around me and laughs. "She was totally checking you out."
"Well, I am one hot piece of chicken." I nudge Austin hard enough and his body knocks into the wall. I begin to strut like a rooster. "Don't shove me, I will spill the coffee!" I casually point out as Austin looks set to ram me into the wall of the corridor.
"Bastard. You win this battle, but I will win the war." Austin takes one of the cups of coffee from the tray and begins to drink it as we arrive at the next kiosk. I announce to the day nurse that I am looking for the bruised and battered Daniel Morrison and we are directed further down the hall to his allocated room.
My father smiles as soon as we enter the shoebox. "Coffee! Give me!" He demands. His face is bruised, swollen and he has a cut over his left eye which has sutures holding it closed. A bandage is taped to his neck but there is no blood on it thankfully. I pass him the tray of three coffees. "You read my mind, many thanks, boys." He proceeds to drink one of the cups as quickly as Mel would in the morning and then retrieves the second one from the tray and calmly sips from it. "I am happy that you came around Chez, I am so bored. You too Austin, it is good to see you mate." My father extends his hand toward Austin and he shakes it.
"It looks like Mel gave you a good beating Daniel. I always knew that I shouldn't piss her off. What did you do?" I smile and my father chuckles. He drinks more of the McDonalds coffee. "Didn't Mel bring you a charger? Is your phone out of power? Is that why you have been so quiet?"
"So many questions." He polishes off the second cup of coffee in three rapid gulps. "Is that cup for me too?" Austin looks at me. My body is so hot. I determined my discomfort can be blamed on Daniel’s cocaine that I snorted last night and think the last thing I need is for my heart to beat faster.
"It is all for you. Go for it. What the hell happened?" Daniel begins gulping from the third cup. Austin sits down and crosses his legs at his ankles. The Channel Seven newsreader is giving the midday report on the television, which is on mute. Barack Obama is talking about something on the television which is why I assume my father has it set to silent.
Daniel sips from the third cup of coffee. "Brilliant." He lets out a long sigh. "If you remember, Mel and I were off to The Vineyard restaurant in St Kilda after we dropped the two of you off at school. A long breakfast turned into lunch. Some wine was enjoyed so we left the car in the parking structure in St Kilda and just called for Uber. I had a meeting to go to in Prahran and Mel was seeing a client in the city. The only story I must tell really, which isn't very exciting, is that another vehicle hit the Uber and because I wasn't wearing a seatbelt, or so because they tell me, I ended the ride prematurely all fucked up and have had the pleasure of the fine accommodation, food and service here. My phone broke in the collision, and besides for the obvious inconvenience of enjoying a very quiet time in the hospital, I am motivated to get a new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge anyway. Mel brought me her old iPhone but that ran out of power quickly and nobody has a charger for that Apple crap, so I have pretty much just sat here watching television and have had a quiet holiday. Life is good." My father begins to cackle loudly which makes both Austin and I laugh. "Hey Chezdon, can you do me a favour?"
"Sure, what do you need?" I look at Daniel and wonder what sort of complex request I will be asked to sort out.
"Can you find me a can of Coke? I really need some sugar." He finishes the last of the coffee and places the empty cup next to the two other empties. Even hearing the innocent version of Coke makes my arsehole tighten and I feel a bead of sweat silently travel down the centre of my clammy back.
Austin stands up. "I will get you a few cans, Daniel. Not a problem."
"Thanks, Austin, but I am hoping that my favourite son can get me a can or three. I would like to talk to you about something." Austin's eyebrows disappear behind his blond fringe and I am left vexed.
"Yeah, no worries, I will be back soon." I casually stroll out of the private hospital room leaving both my father and Austin to speak in riddles, having no idea what is so secret that I cannot enjoy the conversation. I return to the kiosk and locate the cat-woman who was checking me out earlier. I query where I can purchase soft drinks. She enthusiastically gives me directions to the canteen as one option and suggests the infamous Nandos outside of the building as another outlet for sugar. She also takes the time to educate me that Nandos is her 'favourite' restaurant in the area and that she will go downstairs with me if I can wait fifteen minutes until she goes on break. I feel like telling her that the blond haired boy that I left behind with my father and I were at the aforementioned Nandos merely two days ago and how we decided to start a gay relationship, but the wild idea fizzles out and with a smile, I let her know that she is very kind to make such a suggestion but I must be on my way. Waiting for the elevator once again gives me a chance to respond to messages that deserve attention. My eyes once again skim the message from Shaun earlier and I respond to him saying that I am looking forward to seeing the movie and that I will meet him at the restaurant as planned. Before the elevator delivers me to the ground level, Shaun responds to my message, confirming that he is looking forward to it and that he will be at the bar as planned. It doesn't take long to find a vending machine after following the signs to the canteen and fortunately it is retrofitted with a debit card reader. I purchase four bottles of Coke for the exorbitant cost of sixteen dollars, before retracing my steps to the third level of the hospital, past the gawking cat-lady and return to my father’s room.
Both Daniel and Austin simultaneously look up at me as I walk in and my father stops talking. "Did I interrupt something?" I pass two bottles of Coke to my father and hand one to Austin. I sit on the empty chair in the corner and open the last bottle of Coke. After quickly drinking the contents of the bottle in silence, I ask, "so, what did I miss?"
Austin glances at my father and is the first to speak. "It is nothing really Chez. We were talking about the home invasion that I told you about the other day. He wasn't sure if you knew about it."
"I was starting to explain a situation to Austin." Daniel pauses to open a bottle of Coke and then takes a sip. "You turned up just in time Chez." My father takes a deep breath and then takes another drink before what I know is going to be a long spiel. "This whole debacle with the accident has given me time to reflect and consider life and how to better live it. Firstly, after thinking a bit about your mother, umm, I mean Voldemort, and how she turned out, I think it is time to pop the big question to Mel." Before my father can say "What do you think?" I make a loud gasp since I was not expecting this question. I look from my father to Austin and he is smiling, but he doesn't say anything.
"It is about goddamned time!" I shout and extend my arm and shake my father's hand. "That is so awesome, when you are out of here, we should throw a big party, assuming, of course, she still wants you and she will actually accept." I laugh which makes my father giggle.
Daniel drinks from his bottle of Coke. "I was really hoping that you had that sort of reaction Chez."
Austin shakes my father's hand. "This is great news, Daniel. Good luck!" Austin smiles.
"Okay then, that isn't it." My father looks around the room and up at the ceiling before twisting the cap off another bottle of Coke and continuing. "The so-called experts at this hospital say that I need to take it easy as my blood pressure is high. Also, don't get alarmed about this, but they also found some skin cancer which I am going to get sorted out. That is why I have this." Daniel taps the bandage affixed to his neck with his index finger.
Austin immediately appears concerned. "What, you have a melanoma? My father had a scare not long ago however it didn't turn out to be cancerous."
When Austin's father is mentioned, Daniel can't help but roll his eyes. "The quacks here seem to think that I will be fine, but yes, it is a melanoma. To sum it up, the five-year survival rate for a melanoma that is 1mm or less is just about 100%. The five-year survival rate for a melanoma that is thicker than 4mm is 55%. The one they found is 3mm, so I am sure that I will be just fine. This is what I get for never wearing sunscreen in the country that produces the most reports of skin cancer in the world. Lesson learned boys!"
"Jesus Christ, I don't know what to say." I simply stand in the same spot in silence and turn my attention to the muted sports report playing out on the television.
"Don't worry Chez, I will be fine. The quacks caught it early and combined with other life choices that I will be making to get my blood pressure down, you will be seeing me for a long time." Daniel appears confident however I start to consider that it isn't a one hundred percent likelihood that he will survive, and tears start to roll down my cheeks. Austin notices that I am becoming overly emotional and hugs me. "Come on boys, get a room!" My father shouts. "I will be fine, don't worry."
I take a deep breath and gently push Austin away. "Yeah, no worries. I wasn't expecting that announcement either. It is a shame it wasn't as thrilling as the first one you made. You need to better your game, Daniel." I quickly wipe my right eye with the back of my hand and take another deep breath. I reach for the bottle of Coke that my father is holding, which he quickly relinquishes and finish the contents of the plastic bottle quickly. "Is there any more news?" I smile and glare at Daniel.
"Actually, there is. That is why I wanted to speak with Austin privately." I notice Austin staring at me. His brown eyes are wider than normal. I feel another bead of sweat roll down the centre of my back. My stomach tenses up somehow predicting that this news is not going to be any better than the last. "With my blood pressure elevated, the quack is saying that I need to lose some weight and relax. I have decided to consult the Board and hire someone to replace me at work. I will keep my seat on the Board, but I will no longer have any operational responsibility. I can then lead a life of leisure playing golf. Why is this a big deal? In the spirit of transparency boys, as you know, Austin's father and I started this business some time ago and he has been really pissed off at me since he sold his shares to me and he feels taken advantage of. Austin, you live in one of the wealthiest suburbs in Melbourne and you would agree that you have a good lifestyle, right?"
Austin nods his head. "Yes, of course, I do."
Daniel continues. "Your father likes to demonise me for everything and anything and just feels like he was wronged somehow. He is so delusional that he thinks that I am responsible for the home invasion that you sadly experienced. In the past, he has said some very horrible and outrageous things about me in public, accusing me of all things of being behind the home invasion. Mel sued him for slander, however, we ultimately settled with an agreement that he would just simply shut the fuck up. I didn't want any money from him, I just wanted him to be quiet and stop saying things that were not true."
Austin begins to scratch his head and then begins to ruffle the hair on the back of his head. He is processing all this information and appears nervous. "So why would my father care if you quit your job?"
"That is the thing. I will get a substantial payout and he will quickly know since the company is public, it will be reported to the Australian Stock Exchange. There will be an announcement that one of the principals is moving on and everyone will know exactly how much money I am receiving to retire. I just wanted to let you know in case your father starts running his big fucking mouth again. I really don't care what he says, as it is all such bullshit, but since I consider you part of our family now, I wanted to be honest with you." Daniel averts his attention to a movie that has started to play silently on Channel Seven overhead.
"Obviously, the home invasion isn't the highlight of my life, and I am happy you said what you did. My father has had some colourful things to say about you Daniel, but none of it bothered me. Business is business. He always said it was your plan to get rid of him and then IPO the company. I won't humiliate myself by even asking you if you had anything to do with the home invasion. I can't even comprehend why you would be motivated to do something like that anyway. It is so criminal and shocking, it offends me just to think about it." Austin looks at me and pushes his fringe off his face. "I guess what I am saying is if my father has anything outrageous to say in the future, it won't bother me." To be a fly on the wall when Austin informs his parents that he is dating me will be even more incendiary now.
I clear my throat and try to think of something clever to say. "From the sound of it, your workplace is a bit like our school. Just loaded with people who gossip. On that note, since it is confession time, I have something to add." I feel another bead of sweat drip down my back. "Dad, just remain calm when I tell you this. I reckon when you eventually listen to your voicemail that you will have received one from school saying in a roundabout way that I disrupted class and walked out." I avert my eyes toward the floor and start counting the white tiles.
"I was wondering why both of you were here so early. Did you leave early also Austin? What happened?" I look up only to see a thoughtful look on my Daniel's face. The rest and relaxation in the hospital bed have done him some good and I feel an immediate sense of relief because I expected him to go berserk. "Austin can tell me what happened as I am sure it will be more entertaining than if my son tells the story from his biased perspective."
Austin immediately reanimates himself. He must have been thinking about the home invasion. "Sure, Daniel. There is a new policy at school that was announced in English Literature class. The school is saying that if we need to use the restroom we should sit down on the toilet to piss. The cleaners have been complaining about what they have to mop up."
Daniel laughs uncontrollably. "Are you serious? Or are you just taking the piss metaphorically?" He then looks at me.
"I am deadly serious. We were informed that signs were being put up in the toilets instructing us to sit down when we piss in the bathroom." I smile.
Austin scoffs and then continues. "Chezdon took offence with the request and made his opinion known to our teacher and the class. He said that they talk about pissing against the wall in the bible and he certainly will stand up and piss wherever he wants. He made some comment that could be interpreted as being misogynist though since he said that the headmistress can't stand up to piss that she just wants us boys to be at her level when we do the deed. He walked out of class after that and half the guys in the class followed shouting and carrying on."
Immediately my father starts laughing at a volume that I have never heard him reach. The booming sounds emanating from his mouth seems to last for a minute before he can compose himself to speak coherently. "That is so fucked up, it has to be true. I think I am more shocked that Chezdon referred to the bible. I am confident that will not go down well but fuck them. That goddamned school. If they ring me I will remind them of my last donation on top of the fees that I pay, and clean bathrooms should be the least of their worries. This is supposedly one of the best private schools in the Southern Hemisphere. Where do they get the nerve?"
As Daniel rants, I can understand why the doctors instructed him to calm down as his face has turned red and it looks like smoke is going to start coming out of his ears. "Take it easy." I simply say. "Just letting you know as I am sure that I will be disciplined."
"If they try, we will fight that. Don't worry about it Chez, it will be okay. Thanks for letting me know." His red face begins to transform back to normal as he continues to chuckle. Austin who appears circumspect sits on the arm of the chair and crosses his legs, no doubt reminiscing about the sinister events that played out inside his home.
"You mentioned Voldemort earlier Daniel. I e-mailed her and arranged to meet up with her tomorrow night. I thought it would be the right thing to do considering what she is going through." Laughter immediately ceases, and Daniel’s mouth drops open. "It is true. I am going to meet her at her house and have a chat."
"Jesus Christ." Daniel is lost for words. "Well, wish her well for me." His relatively positive reaction and kind words takes me by surprise.
Austin stands up. "We should get going if we are going to get back to school on time."
"Go!" My father insists with a raised voice. "If the school gives you a hard time, don't say anything. Follow their instructions and we will deal with it tomorrow. I will be home tonight and will talk to Mel about it after I propose marriage." My father grins.
"That sounds so romantic." Austin rolls his eyes and inspects the display on his phone. We all laugh in unison. "Daniel, will you propose after the first or second bottle of wine? Will you tell Mel about what is happening at school before or after sex?"
Daniel once again starts bellowing like a madman as I shake his hand. "See you later mate. Be good." I pick up my bag and we begin to walk towards the door.
"Bye Austin you are a good laugh mate. Love you Chezdon. Be well."
I simply say "I love you too" as I look over my shoulder and then at Austin. As we stumble into the hallway, I brush up against him as he finishes tapping out a message on his phone. I wonder if Austin had any inkling that I wasn't just making what would seem to be a cursory response to my father that I said thousands of times previously as we leave.