Colin and Billy watched the ship being docked at their assigned pier. Once docked, the boys along with the Lieutenant left the ship and headed to the Lieutenant’s uncle’s home. Colin thought they would take a car but was surprised when they started to walk. Billy looked at Colin with an expression that conveyed him not understanding why they were walking. As they entered the civilian part of the port, a heavy set man with a full beard approached them. He grabbed the Lieutenant in a hug, “Well, it’s about time you were back.”
“Uncle, it’s good to see you too. I have invited these two young boys to stay with us, this is Colin, who was my Cabin Boy and this is Billy, his good friend.”
“Well, let’s go. Lunch will be ready by the time we get home.”
The boys picked up their duffle bags and followed the Lieutenant’s uncle. Colin whispered to Billy, “I hope it isn’t too far. My bag is heavy.”
“Mine is too, look he’s turning in at that house.”
Entering the house, the boys looked at each other and smile, the smell of food being cooked brought their taste buds to life. “I haven’t eaten a home cooked meal for a long time. The last time was my 14th birthday. If I wasn’t hungry before, I’m certainly hungry now.”
“I can’t remember when I’ve had a home cooked meal. At school, we ate in a cafeteria and the food wasn’t all that good.”
“Gentlemen, I’ll show you to your rooms. You can freshen up and then we’ll have lunch.”The boys followed him to the second floor where he showed Colin his room and Billy his room. Both boys were a little disappointed as they were hoping to share the same room and possibly the same bed.
Arriving in the kitchen, the boys saw the Lieutenant and a young lady chatting over a cup of coffee. “Boy’s, I’d like to introduce you to my cousin, Maria. She’s our cook today and I hope you like Mexican food.”
The boys being polite, introduced themselves. “If what I smell is Mexican food, I’m all for it.”
Maria showed them were to sit as she began to dish out the food. One taste and Billy’s eyes lit up. “I never had Mexican food, this is delicious.”
Colin just smiled, nodded his head in the affirmative. He couldn’t speak, his mouth was full.
The food was quickly devoured as only boys could do. “Sir, may we walk around the docks? I'd like to see what other ships are in port.”
“Yes, of course, you don’t need permission. We’re on shore leave, just be back by 6, or you’ll miss dinner.”
After that lunch there was no way they would miss dinner. Walking along the dock, they saw another ship about the same size as the one they had signed on as Ship Boy. “I wonder how long that ship has been in port?”
One of the men overheard the boys, “She has been here for 5 months and she leaves tomorrow. What ship have you been assigned to?”
Billy told them and pointed to it. “We just docked late last night. I’m not sure how long we’ll be in port.” Saying goodby, they continued on their walk and their exploration of the dock area.
Upon returning home, Colin was surprised to see his family. “Mom, Dad I didn’t know you would be here?”
“We knew your ship was coming to port, so we thought we’d surprise you.”
“Well, I am surprised. How long are you staying?”
“We’ll be here for a week and then Dad has to go back to work. You look well and have grown some as well. I miss having you at home. I spoke to your Lieutenant while we waited for you, he was very pleased about having you as his Cabin Boy. And who is this?”
“Mom, Dad this is my best friend Billy. We’re shipmates.”
“Where are you staying?”
“We haven’t made arrangements yet. We thought once we spent some time with you, we’d look for a hotel.”
Now Colin wasn’t slow, “You could stay here. Billy can sleep with me and you can have his room, if the Lieutenant’s uncle says it’s ok.”
Just then the Lieutenant’s uncle entered the room. “That’s an excellent idea, that way you can spend more time with your son.”
Billy moved his stuff into Colin’s room and both boys had a smile on their face.
Later that evening after another fantastic dinner, laying in bed, “Billy, do you know the name of the Lieutenant’s uncle?”
“I heard the Lieutenantcall him Uncle Joe.”
“We can’t call him Uncle Joe.”
“Let’s ask the Lieutenant tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll tell us what we can call him.”
Colin slept a deep sleep and when he woke up he realized why, he was cuddled up against Billy. ‘I could get use to sleeping like this.’
Billy rolled over, he was so close to Colin, their noses touched. Its was a short second before they moved and their lips touched. That touched turned into a deep kiss that caused reactions below the waist. Colin wasn’t ready for anything else, except kissing. He needed to do some research before he was ready to proceed. Billy was ok with that, he wanted it to go slow, although he liked Colin a lot.
At first neither boy wanted to get out of bed. Besides liking to cuddle with each other, there was a stiffness that they weren’t sure how to hide. It was Colin who decided he didn’t care, he threw the covers back ready to get up. In throwing the covers, he exposed Billy as well. Both boys looked at each other and then laughed.
After showering and getting dressed, they quietly walked into the kitchen. “Maria, I thought you had gone home.”
“I was going home but since your parents are here, I was asked to stay. Now which one of you are going to help me with breakfast?”
Both boys volunteered and Maria soon found herself training two boys on preparing Mexican food for breakfast. Colin’s parents were surprised to see their son in the kitchen preparing breakfast under the watchful eyes of Maria.
“Colin, when did you learn to cook?”
“I spent 4 months with the cook on the ship. I learned a lot by helping and watching. Maria’s teaching us Mexican cooking, I hope you like your breakfast.”
They did like it, quite a lot, this made both boys happy. “Mom, Dad, after breakfast would you like to see the ship I was on. It’s in dry dock, but we can’t board her.”
“Sure, I’d love to see where you spent the last 2 years. I’m surprised that you have done so well.”
“I’ve always known I wanted to be on a ship. I used my time to work hard and study hard. Now I need to do the same as I start secondary school.”
Walking to the dock, Colin and Billy pointed out the various buildings, ships that where getting ready to leave and their ship. “The Lieutenant said she’d bein dry dock for about 6 months. Then, we’ll probably be gone again for 2 years.”
“It seems just like it was yesterday when you talked about joining the Navy. And now it seems so unreal to me.”
“Mom, I’ve always been fascinated with ships. Remember that ship that grand-dad gave me? I sailed the world with that ship and now it’s a reality.”
Colin’s mother pulled him into a hug. She had a tear in her eye, but she was also proud of him. Billy looked on, he was wishing he could have his mother with him also, but that was impossible. The reason Billy joined the Navy was his mother had died and his father grieved so much that Billy felt lost. When the opportunity came to join the Navy, he took it. Now with Colin in his life, he knew he made the right decision.
Billy listened as Colin told his parents all about the ship. Although they couldn’t board her, Colin pointed out several areas they could see from the ground and explaining what they were and how theyinteracted with the ship.
"Billy, let’s go and get some lunch. I feel like the last time we ate was last night.”
Everyone laughed, “With that breakfast you put away I’m surprised you would even think of food today.”
“Hey, I’m a growing boy.”
They walked back to town and saw a restaurant that had outside seating. While they sat waiting for a waitress, several of their ship mates passed. Stopping to say hello, Colin used that time to introduce his parents to them. One of the men who stopped was Billy’s Lieutenant, John Bishop.
Billy introduced him to Colin’s parents, he knew Colin from the ship. Colin’s dad asked him to join us for lunch.
“I would love to, but I’ve already eaten.”
“Well, sit and have a drink with us.You can explain to my wife and I how these two lads did on your last tour.”
“There isn’t much to tell. Colin is the Cabin Boy of a close friend and I think he was instrumental in getting Billy assigned as my Cabin Boy. I know that Lieutenant Benton and I lucked out with these two boys.”
You could see the smiles on the boys faces.
The waitress came and took their drink orders, gave them menus, then left to get their drinks.The boys noticed a sandwich called the submarine and decided to try it, the parents chose to go for the fish and chips, an English standby.
When the drinks came they placed their orders and listened to the conversation between the Lieutenant and Colin’s parents. Colin’s dad asked how long a cruise would last and how often do they get in port. The Lieutenant answered their questions and while he did that Colin andBilly held hands under the table.
When the food came, the Lieutenant excused himself, saying goodby and left. Theboys looked at their sandwich and couldn’t believe the size of it. Billy looked at Colin and smiled as he picked up the sandwich and stuck an end in his mouth. He pulled it out a little and shoved it back in, there was no mistake what he was doing. Colin coughed and Billy took a bite trying not to laugh.
Lunch was enjoyable, they talked about what it was like on the boat. Colin talked about his experiences and the various jobs he did. Billy reminded him to tell about the radio repair, which Colin played down as just a normal thing. That’s when Billy took over and told how many others tried to fix that radio and only Colin succeeded. Then Colin’s dad asked how did he succeed. Colin explained what he did, what he found and how he did a temporary fix.
While he was talking, his mother was watching the interaction between Billy and Colin. They say a mother always know, she’d wait till she was alone with Colin before she’d ask him about Billy. Billy seemed like a nice kid and apparently idolized Colin. She figured he was younger than Colin, how many years she didn’t know. She also realized that being on a ship with all men, relations could develop resulting in being more than just friends. If Colin and Billy were more than friends, it wouldn’t bother her, in fact, she realized it would be a good thing. Their relationship would result in them encouraging each other to succeed without any jealousy.
It was the last day of her stay when she had the opportunity to ask Colin about his friend Billy. He wasn’t ashamed and boldly told her that he liked Billy very much. “Mom, on the ship it can get lonely, you’re very busy learning and when you find someone that shares your interests and works just as hard, it’s natural for a bond to develop. Billy means a lot to me and I think I mean a lot to him. If you understood his background, you’d see that he’s a self-determinant person. No one is forcing him, just like no one is forcing me. I like him very much and he likes me very much as well.”
“I just want you to be happy and not get hurt. I like Billy as well and I hope that you continue to be friends. Your dad and I are very proud of you.”