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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Luke Hanson's Mind & Punishment: A Teen in Despair - 8. Chapter 8 - Fears and Fairs

Saturday 5:12pm - Luke

In Taz's bedroom, I sat with a pillow resting between my legs and forearms, half watching him scrub a stain off his best pair of sneakers and half trying to work his old iPhone seven he'd lent me.. The room was silent, which he must have noticed because he suddenly stopped and looked up at me.

"You okay? You're quiet?"

"I have to tell you something," I replied quietly.

"Excited about the fair tonight? Be nice going out with all the guys. So what did you want to tell me?" He asked, back scrubbing his shoe.

"I can't go to the fair with you guys tonight," I said slowly and methodically.

Taz looked up at me, his forehead creased. "Why not?"

"Fear!" I said somewhat cryptically.

"Fear of what? The rides?"


"Well, what then?"



"Can this remain between us? That means even not telling Lee?"

"Sure, you know our conversations are private, right?"

I don't know what it was, but when he said that, I welled up, and a tear fell from my eye. Taz dropped his shoe and leapt onto the bed, grabbing me tightly. "Hey, what, what is it?"

I wiped my face, and Taz sat back a little. I took a deep breath and blew out, gathering my thoughts.

"To you, Taz, and every other sane person in the world, what I'm about to say will seem so simple or crazy or stupid that you'll understand why I haven't told anyone. But, you'll never understand why going to the fair tonight is so hard for me if I don't tell you.

"Take your time, we have loads of time. Just say it as you feel it." 

"You know those times where you've met a girl, and you tell me you never knew if you were in love with any of them?"

"Sure, I mean, I've been out with a few, but love is so confusing."

"Yeah. So Imagine one of those girls you met seemed to instantly pull you in like a massive magnet. Where instant love clamped onto you so powerfully it made you ache. And simply nothing in the world either personally or generally mattered apart from seeing that girl."

"Oookay, I'm trying to imagine, go on."

"This girl? She is so pretty, SO your type... like exactly your type, you just want to be with her every nano second of the day and listen to her talk to you forever."

Taz nodded. "Okay, I'm getting the picture. So I met this girl and fell in love with her, and she's my soulmate and I wanna spend the rest of my life with her? So yeah, I can imagine that."

I move closer to Taz, stare deeply into his dark blue eyes and slow and lower my voice. "But this girl you've just imagined only ever existed in your life for around five to ten minutes. You never saw her before those minutes, and you've never seen her since. But ever since? Ever since that minutest of time, you have wondered who she was, where she was and how her life was without you in it."

Taz sat mesmerised, looking into my eyes, still as a statue. "Wow," was all he said, leaving his mouth open.

"Yeah, wow, Taz."

"So... so what are we talking about here, and what's it got to do with the fair tonight?"

"Remember when I told you about the time my Dad found that gay dating site I used on my computer?"

"The MyLads one?"

"Yeah, and I came out to him that night?"


"Well, that night, we went for a drive. We were both quite emotional and Dad just suggested it and we ended up at the fair, which was in town again."

"Well, I didn't know that bit, but go on."

"Well, while we were there Dad suggested we have a go on the ghost train because he said he hadn't been on one since he was my age. I love all those sorts of rides so I was up for it. Anyway while we were going around I tried to take a few pictures while inside and managed to lose my phone. Of course you cant get out can you? So when we did get off I went over to the ride controller with my Dad to ask them whether he could briefly stop the ride to find it."

"Okay," Taz said, nodding, hanging on my every word.

"Well, that guy? The ride controller? That guy is my version of the girl I used as your example, and I think I may have seen him again while in the bakers."

"You think?"

"Well, I smelled him."

Taz spontaneously laughed but stopped immediately after seeing how serious my expression was.

"Sorry, go on," he said, another giggle desperately being held in.

"See, this is why I haven't told anyone. you'll just make fun!" I shouted.

"I'm sorry, I am SO sorry," Taz giggled. "It's just the way you said it - you smelled him... like a smell is usually unpleasant, and those lot being gipsies, I just thought?... Never mind."

"Do you wanna hear this or not?"

"Yes, go on, I'm over it."

"So yeah, I was in the bakers and crashed into someone with my coffee, lunch, and whatever. Anyway, I didn't get a look at him but I remember the smel... fragrance he wore and the way he looked."

Another grin began to form on Taz's lips, but he caught it and remained serious.

"So let's just clarify because I'll admit some of this is confusing. So tell me again. Why don't you want to go to the fair?"

"What? Have you listened to anything I have said? I don't wanna go in case I see him again."

"Sorry, I'm still confused. So you think you've met the most perfect guy you'll ever meet in your life, and you don't want to see him again? Am I reading you right?"

"Exactly, I'm scared. And I've held that feeling since I first saw him. And at the bakery I had to deal with it all over again. So that's why I have been trying to get out of going. Now you know."

"Bellend," Taz muttered.

He got up, went over to a small shelf high on the wall, and pulled down one of his books before flicking through the pages.

"Uh, hellooo?"

"One sec," he said, fanning the pages.

"What are you doing?"

Taz cleared his throat and started to read.

"There once was this criminal who had committed a crime. Because, hey, that's what criminals do, right? That's their job!" 

Taz looked at me and grinned stupidly. 

"What the hell are you..."

"I'll start again, sorry," Taz said, looking down at the page. "There once was this criminal who had committed a crime and was sent to the king for his punishment. The king told him he had a choice of two penalties. He could be hung by a rope or take what's behind the big, dark, scary, mysterious iron door. The criminal quickly decided on the rope. As the noose was being slipped on him, he turned to the king and asked, 'By the way, out of curiosity, what's behind that door?' The king laughed and said, 'You know, it's funny, I offer all criminals the same choice, and nearly everyone picks the rope.' 'So,' said the criminal, 'Tell me. What's behind the door? I mean, obviously, I won't tell anyone,' he said, pointing to the noose around his neck. The king paused for a moment then answered: 'Freedom! But it seems most people are so afraid of the unknown that they immediately take the rope.'"

Taz closed the book, placed it back on the shelf and stood there looking at me.

"I need to go to the fair, don't I?" I muttered.


Do you all think I did the right thing telling Taz? I feel better about it. Although I didn't like it when he laughed, I felt so stupid. This is why I keep so much to myself. Well, actually, I don't cos Taz knows most stuff. But I feel like I keep it in. It's safer that way. I'm sure most of you have been there and experienced the fear of the unknown. Taz's intellect kind of surprised me.  


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Around six, Taz's doorbell went, and he jumped off his bed and headed downstairs. His parents had gone out for dinner at this point, so it had just been us two waiting for people to get here. Taz had been busy on WhatsApp and had told everyone I would drive us all and that everyone would fit in my small car. Seeing had to be believed, I had thought at the time but since Taz said it, it must be true.

Coming downstairs myself, I could see Lee and Donna had arrived and heard the growl of Leo's motorbike just coming to a stop.

"Hey good timing guys, come in," Taz said to Lee and Donna. He gave Leo a wave while he was putting his bike stand on. 

"Hi guys, how's it going?" I asked, smiling at them. Right now, I felt okay, but we hadn't left yet, and I was kind of distracted, I guess, as Leo walked in wearing tight, full leathers.

"Whehey, hey guys, the talent has arrived," Leo cried, pointing both thumbs at himself. "Gonna hunt down some hot chicks tonight," he sang, bobbing up and down. 

We all groaned, and Taz led us through to the kitchen. "Anyone for anything? Alcohol, non-alcohol?"

"What soft drinks do you have Taz?" Donna asked, her voice sweet and light.

Taz opened his American-style fridge and looked inside. "I got da sprite, da Coka, da Tango?" He peered around the door, waiting for her choice.

"Sprite, please, I've just had my teeth whitened; da Coka is a bad idea!" She giggled.

"Leo, Lee, Luke?" Taz eyed us, one by one.

"Whaddup guys the three L's are back together!" Leo hollered excitedly. "Coka de moriana, please."

"You really are sad sometimes, Blood," Lee said, shaking his head.

"Ahh, now now, Lee, I make this shit look good," he said, ripping at his leathers. "Look at this English Leonardo's David standing before you!"

Donna put her hand up slowly. "Erm, Leo, that statue you refer to yourself as, was actually sculpted by Michelangelo, not Leonardo.."

Leo shrugged. "Leonardo's a great name though don't you think, darling?" He said winking at her. Lee rolled his eyes at Leo's crass attempt at play flirting.

"Leo, do you need to go have a wank or something, maybe get rid of some of that testosterone?" Taz asked, laughing.

"Hey, why you guys picking on poor little me, I'm just excited for the F A I R and all the hot titties contained within. And anyway, lads, I already chucked one up the tiles before I got here; don't mind if I do, Sir!" Leo flexed his muscles and laughed.

I was staring at him, having a micro fantasy in my mind. "We do have female company, Leo," I said, snapping myself out of it due to a blushing Donna.

"Okay one Sprite, one Coke. Luke?"

"Water, please," I replied.

"I'm gonna go get out of these leathers. You guys be okay without my company for a few minutes?" Leo announced, rubbing his left pec.

"Want me to help?" I asked teasingly, knowing he would melt, unable to handle man on man love comments.

"You couldn't handle me, young Lukas!" he said before scuttling off into the lounge.

"Every time," I said, shaking my head and laughing.

"Okay, everyone got a drink? Follow me, lets get some evening sun before we head off." Taz said, leading us out into his back yard.

Outside I fell into a chair and drifted off into my own world while the chatter of the guys (and girl) went on around me. It had been a while since we had all met up so there was plenty of verbal diarrhoea to get through. At least for them anyway. Luckily they were all tied up with their own topics, leaving me to enjoy the warm evening sun on my skin and the comfort of Taz's garden furniture.



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It'd been a while since my car had been this full, and its small engine protested as I drove up Manners hill towards the Freeman farm. I had to change down two gears just to reach the top, which was worrying. That was on top of my already spiking anxiety which was now playing havoc.

Something Taz noticed.

He leaned in, looking up at me. "What? What's up? Talk to me." I shook my head.

"I'm fine," I responded over the noise of the other three messing around in the back, oblivious to mine and Taz's interaction. "Just thinking." I added, robotic like.

"About him?"



"Don't wanna talk about it."

"The criminal and the king, Luke. The criminal and the king."

"Anyway, since when did you take an interest in... well, stuff like that."

"I got it when TED talks were all the rage. Remember when I said I wanted to do a TED talk on bikes?"

"Oh yeah, that dream died quickly," I said before snorting at the memory.

"Wow, just wow!"

I looked at Taz. "What?"

"My oldest and best friend and all you can do is laugh at my dreams."

I was trying to decide whether he was playing with me or serious. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to tease."

"It's okay, I'll live."

"Hey guys, if I get laid tonight can we get another one in here?" Leo hollered.

"NO!" we all shouted in unison.

"So, this guy? What did you like about him so much."

"Have you got all night?" I asked, smirking.

"In a nutshell, then?"

"Well, uh. Well, he is really nicely built but just had the softest demeanour about him. So polite and gentle. Someone you just wanna be cuddled by, sitting next to an open fire, with soft music playing."

Taz arched his eyebrows. "Jesus and you say I've got daddy issues."

"You have!"

"Well, anyway, thanks for the information." Taz winked at me.

"Oh no Taz, what are you going to do? You're making me really uneasy, pleb!." I whined.


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I pulled my hot engined little car into a space on the grounds of the fair and pulled forward my seat, allowing everyone in the back out. Taz, well, he didn't.

"Smell that candyfloss?" Donna said, taking in a deep breath.

"I smell nuts," Taz added.

"Come on guys, I'm pumped for this, lets go!" Leo started clowning around to the base rhythm of some nameless dance tune that was making the whole ground thump, while people could be heard yelling and screaming as every ride seemed to be in full motion in the distance.

Lee got his phone out and started taking pictures of Leo being Leo before Taz ran up to him and started bombing a few, both of them pulling faces. I walked with Donna.

"Hmm, your hair smells nice again," I commented. This time fully aware of my choice of words.

She burst out laughing and slapped my shoulder. "You know I thought you were so cute that night."

"Cute? Me? Nah, just hyper nervous."

"Of a girl?"

"Hey, a new girl."

"Huh, how do you think I felt? I was meeting two of you."

"I have a twin?"

"You know what I mean!" she replied, pinching me.


Taz fell back to match my pace and pulled me to one side. "See, I knew you could do it."

My expression was more pessimistic. "Taz, we're not even inside yet."

"No backing out now, you're our ride home."

"Ha," I said, pulling a face at him.

"I want you to enjoy tonight and leave your Wonderboy to me."

"Oh no no no no, what are you going to do, I really don't want you to do anything Taz, I mean it."

"Never mind that, I just want you to trust me. Do you trust me?"

I nodded, deflated, wondering what he had planned, but I did trust Taz and I hated how easily he talked me round to stuff I didn't want. 

We were almost at the gate, and a small queue of people were waiting to get through the entrance. The place looked packed even from here, with all sorts of ages crisscrossing the grounds.

"Please have your ENTRANCE tickets out ready for scanning. Please keep your RIDE tickets safe. For those who need to purchase ride tickets you can do so at the Kiosk on your immediate left just inside the grounds,"

The doorman, or whatever they are called, kept repeating this statement, and I wondered if he was bored of saying it. Still, the distraction was gratefully received.

"Tickets, tickets please. Tickets please, thank you, tickets please." The repetitive voices of the ticket collectors came as about fifteen to twenty of us tried to fit through a fence door four feet wide. 

The door attendants tried their best to filter us into two abreast, but it wasn't proving easy. We all got jolted and pushed around as we all jostled for space.

"What shall we do first?" Lee asked as we finally got through unscathed. "I vote Candyfloss. I need to live that childhood dream again.

"I need a pee? Taz piped up. 

"I think most would prefer Candyfloss than a pee, Taz. Leo?"

Leo was in heaven as a group of girls wandered by. Perhaps seven of them all wearing tight tops and short skirts. He ran over to us, flinging his arms around Lee and me while Donna looked at the prices.

"Grrrr guys, did you see that lot. Fucking hell I so wanna..."

"Yes, thanks, Leo, we know, we don't need it spelt out."

"Fourteen titties to suck and roll in your hands."

I giggled, just because it was so blunt and so Leo. Lee shook his head, frowning.

"Leo, man, too much!" Lee said, slightly irritated with Leo's choice of words.

"Hey Leeroy, what's happened to you? have you gone tame on me? You used to be an animal. What happened baby?" Leo stroked his hair. Lee slapped him away.

"We have company tonight, Leo. Company who is not used to your gutter talk about women and what you'd like to do with them."

"Hey did I ever tell you about the time..."

"Probaby Leo," I said, cutting him off, worried about what was coming.

"I was about to say when I met those group of girls up in Manchester. Dirty little pups they are. The filthy things one of them wanted to do to me. Well, It would make your eyes water. BDSM I found out it was called. And that group I saw just then? Well, they brought it all back to me they did."

"Hey, uh, anyone know where Taz is?" I asked, looking all around.

"Didn't he go to the toilet?" Lee asked.

"Hmm, yeah, sorry. It's just he's been gone a while.

I bet he's getting sucked off in the..."

"LEO! Man, please. Have you taken something tonight?"

"No, you know I don't put poison in my body!"

"Well calm down Pal, you're making my girlfriend uncomfortable."

Leo lost his bounce and looked a bit sad. "Cool thing, sorry Lee, sorry Donna." Donna smiled and nodded. I'm not sure if she was bothered or not, she certainly smiled at Leo a lot. Mind you, so do I.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Taz jogging back over to us, a big grin on his face. He stopped in front of me, slightly out of breath.

"What have you done?" I asked over the noise of screaming kids and music.

"Nothing; I went to the toilet. But there is a really cool ride you must go on relatively soon, or it won't be so cool if you wait too long."

"Taz?" I growled, edging towards him.

He threw his hands up defensively. "Okay, wait, wait, just wait a sec. Look, I  just asked one of the gipsies if they had someone here as you described."

"You told someone my description? Taz that was private, Jesus man."

"Yeah, but I have good news. I think I found him for you!"

A rush of fizz went through my body, ending with a feeling of needing to go to the toilet urgently! Meanwhile, my hands and knees were starting to tremble, and I felt like jelly from the waist down. 

This is it! This is what my week has been building up to. All those emotions have now come to roost.

Could he really be here?"

Copyright © 2022 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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Trying a different style and a couple of new things in this book and my only benchmark on how that is going is you, my loyal readers. So I have a small favour. Please do click a like if you're enjoying the story and please do recommend the book. If you have a thought or comment I'd be made up to hear what you think. All feedback is relished and of course I do love hearing your ideas, opinions and banter. Many thanks, folks! Now, let go forth on to the next chapter :) 

Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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For the record, I picked the door, in this case for me it was 'better the devil you don't know over stretching your neck'.

Someone find Luke some...

lily tomlin gaf GIF

Leo...what are the odds he's a family man with six sprats by the time he's 30??? Here's a portrait Leo with the wife

A Fishmonger's Wife

"Hey Leeroy, what's happened to you? have you gone tame on me? You used to be an animal. What happened baby?" Leo stroked his hair. Lee slapped him away.

"We have company tonight, Leo. Company who is not used to your gutter talk about women and what you'd like to do with them."

"Hey did I ever tell you about the time..."

"Probaby Leo," I said, cutting him off, worried about what was coming.

"I was about to say when I met those group of girls up in Manchester. Dirty little pups they are. The filthy things one of them wanted to do to me. Well, It would make your eyes water. BDSM I found out it was called. And that group I saw just then? Well, they brought it all back to me they did."

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