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Puppy for Sale - 5. Billy, The Lake, and That Damn Movie

"Hello Puppy, come in. Would you like to sit or lay down, perhaps?"

"Uh, I'll sit if that's okay, Doctor Listern."

"Sure, Puppy, anything you want."

Doctor Listern touched my shoulder as I crossed his path, and I found a seat in front of his teak coloured desk. I always found his office to be cold and clinical, with pale natural colours that dominated the sparse interior. This also seemed to be a common feature of all the working offices in the home, but at least his was carpeted. Strung along the wall behind his desk were five framed certificates, no doubt boasting of the various qualifications in his field. But unlike Julie Pipe, who used to look after me, I found Graham Listern very laid back and easy to talk to, and he didn't always think he knew what I was feeling.

Listern was a quiet man who always went into a deep expression of thought before answering questions. It was like he was assembling the very best sequence of words. At first, I found this behaviour strange, but over time I have learnt that anything the man said, you always knew you were getting the best answer, carefully thought out, and sensitive to your feelings.

"Could I have a drink of water, please?"

"Yes, Son, let me get that for you. So do you want to tell me what happened today? Charlotte tells me you never managed to complete the first phone call to your father," he asked, bending down and filling a plastic cup of water from the cooling dispenser that sat in the corner.

"I guess I freaked out," I said, shrugging.

"Tell me about freaking out. Were you angry?"

"Uh, no, not angry, just, uh... I dunno freaked out."

"Here you are," he said, passing me the cup. "So when did this happen?"

"You know when it happened," I snapped, wondering why the hell he was asking such a stupid question.

"I mean, Puppy, at what point when making the call did you freak out?"

"Oh, right, well it was when he answered. I heard his voice and panicked. I felt like if I spoke, I was going to choke or something." Doctor Listern looked at me and held his chin.

"Hmm, well, that is a classic sign of acute anxiety, Puppy. Did this feeling of choking come with the urge to run from the phone?"

"Yes, exactly. I hung up on him, and now I feel terrible."

"What was it about hearing his voice? Do you think that made you feel like that?"

"I'm not sure. It was a strange feeling. It was like if he heard me talk, then I was vulnerable."

"That's a complex feeling, Puppy? Do you fear Max Chase? Do you think he would ever hurt you?"

"No, you don't understand; it’s not that I think he would hurt me; it’s something else. I don't know... it's almost like he would suck me into something and change my life from what it is... God, this all sounds stupid!"

"Not at all, Puppy. Let me tell you what I think, and you can tell me if I make sense."


"You see Max as an extra dimension to your life you feel you don't need, and that's natural. You have routines, the safety of the home, and the people around you who you know so well. I think you see Max as a disturbance of these things and that by letting him hear your voice, it’s one step closer to letting him be that disturber... am I close?"

"Spot on!" I said, relieved someone could explain the mess in my head so elegantly. "You know, Doctor Listern, when I first found out Max... my dad, existed I was so excited. I wanted to meet him so much... say so much to him. But now... now I have the chance to do all those things I'm scared."

"Tell me about being scared?"

"I'm scared because when I was having all these happy thoughts at the start, I never thought about all the things I would be leaving behind if I did eventually get to know him. I was so wrapped up in the excitement itself I didn't think that this could potentially take me away from the only things I have ever known."

"So, what scares you about leaving this place, Puppy? I get the feeling the real issue, and everything that sits around that issue is the thought of leaving, yes?"

"It's a big part, yes," I declared, lurching forward in my chair. "I don't know anything else, Doctor Listern. Can you understand how that feels? To suddenly be out of this place and know so little about the world outside."

"I wish I could say yes, Puppy, but that would be a lie. I go home to my family every night to a place that is nothing like Greenstone."

"You do, so you will never understand. But, just like anyone else adult, what it feels like to feel so lost when you consider a life without Greenstone, because that's what this place is Doctor Listern, it's my life."

"So what do you want, Puppy?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Well, you have a choice. You can stay here another year or so, find yourself on your own in that outside world, with a father whose life may have totally changed. Or, you can take baby steps with Max and find out who this man really is and what happened all those years ago."

"I know, it's just hard, that's all."

"I know, Puppy, life is very hard, even harder outside than in here. But you need to look at your options and make the one you feel comfortable with. But, Puppy, remember, you are on powerful medication for your mental health, and I worry that you may fall into a bad place without the protection of this institution when you turn eighteen. I will no longer be able to be your Doctor when you leave here."

"Are you supposed to be leaning me one way like this, Doctor?"

"I'm simply giving you the facts, Puppy, that's all. After you leave here you will need a job, and at eighteen, with no proper education that is recognised you will not be able to earn enough to afford your own place and then you have to think about living in a hostel... But, puppy, you may be able to have better than that... you may be able to have a family that genuinely wants to get to know you and take care of you."

"Okay, now I know you are leaning me!" I said, managing a slight chuckle.

"Puppy, this may be verging on the edge of unprofessionalism, but I have a lot of time for you, and out of all my patients I have seen and treated over the years, it's you who I have the most admiration and hope for."

"Thank you, but how can you think that? Don't forget I'm also the kid who has been in this place longer than anyone else. That says to me that hope is not something I have much of."

"On the contrary, Puppy." He said musically.

Doctor Listern stopped, took a deep breath and sighed. He then got up and came and sat in the chair next to mine, so we were now side by side. "Want to know something?"


"I once knew a young man just a little older than you. He had caring parents who both had good jobs in the medical industry. This boy was an only child, and his parents loved him like you would not believe. They took him places most boys would never get to see in a lifetime. He went to the best school, had the best education and was always given attention from a family who praised him up constantly."

"Sounds like a lucky kid!" I said, getting slightly jealous.

"He was, but one day his father came home from work and found him in the back yard with two of his friends smoking weed."


"It's an illegal plant, Puppy, and when you smoke it, it makes you feel relaxed," Listern said, before muttering, "among other things."

"So the dad was angry then, yeah?"

"Yeah, he was, and he asked his son why he would hang around with the kind of people who smoked drugs. Anyway, a few weeks later the boy didn't come home from school, and his parents didn't see him for months...he left one day, just like that...vanished. They called the police to look for him, but he couldn't be found. They hear the next day, he has dropped out of school, and then several weeks later, they suddenly hear someone has seen him walking the streets in the next town. So they go looking for him."

"Did they find him?" I asked, starting to feel bad for these parents.

"No, not for a whole year, Puppy. Sadly, the next time they saw their child was in a morgue when they had to identify his body. He had collapsed and died of a heroin overdose down by a disused railway depot. His body was ravished by drugs, covered in scabs and scars. The coroner said that when he died, he weighed just six stone, Puppy."

"Oh my God, that is so sad."

"Yes, Puppy, it is. This boy had everything and everything to live for. But, when I think of you, Puppy, you had nothing, and you still made the best of the bad situation. You are intelligent, loving, strong-willed and a fighter, Puppy. THAT is why I have so much hope for you. You never give up, and you always try and do the right thing."

"I see what you mean, Doctor Listern; I know I would never repay my parents for all they did for me and all the love by going off the deep end as that boy did. So how did you know him anyway? Was he one of your patients or something?"

"He was my Son, Puppy."

"Fuck Doctor Listern, that's terrible...and sorry for my language."

Doctor Listern waved his hand as if to tell me not to sweat it. "It was a long time ago Puppy, and that's why I got into the field of child behaviour, for the very reason I could help people not end up like my Son, and you, Jensen Stibbings, with the right care and treatment, will grow up to be a fine young man, of that I am certain."

"I need to make that call again, don't I?"

"You need to do what's in your heart, Puppy; you’ll know you have made the right decision if you listen to that."




I met Cindy in the eating area and filled her in with what happened with Doctor Listern. I felt terrible towards her because as my panic had set in during that phone call to my father, I had run out of the room and locked myself in my one, refusing to come out even for Cindy. It took Charlotte more than twenty minutes to coax me out with the help of my best friend.

But Cindy, like the ever understanding person she is, had forgotten about it by the time we had met up again for dinner.

"I'm going to try again, Cindy, and this time I am not going to run."

"Whoa, where has all this confidence come from all of a sudden?" She asked, wearing a surprised look.

"Just something Doctor Listern said about realising what I could be missing out on, I guess."

"Well, he's right, and I've already told you that haven't I?"

"Yeah, you have, but hearing you say it... well, I thought maybe you were just biased," I said, cracking into laughter.

Cindy picked up a chip and dipped it in ketchup before dabbing it on my nose. Before I could snatch it out of her hand, she shoved it in her mouth and giggled wildly. Her laugh was infectious, and before I knew it, I was laughing too, trying the wipe the sauce off with a paper napkin in the middle of our table.

"Anyway, so how are you, has your stomach ache completely gone now?"

"Nah, it's still there but much better than it was. So when are you going to make the call to your dad again?"

"After dinner, if you like, Charlotte said I could use her office again after five o'clock if I wanted."

"Would you like me to come with you again?"

"Is that okay? I mean, I hope I didn't freak you out, you know, with my earlier... thing?"

Cindy tilted her head at me. "Pfft, are you serious? I think I have been unaffected by much worse, Puppy."

"Hmm, yeah, you do seem to be immune to my little bouts of crazyasstivity, don't you!"

"Uh, crazyasstivity?"

"Never mind, I heard on TV, eat up and let's get this done while I still have the guts."

Cindy started to shove multiple chips in her mouth at once until her cheeks were about to burst, much to the disgust of Charlotte Grange, who was casting her disapproving look from the counter based at the other end of the room. We both looked at each other and laughed again, with Cindy almost emptying the remains of mushed up chips back onto her plate."

"You soooo need to grow up," I said jokingly.

"And you soooo need to make that call!"

"Well, I would if you hurried up and ate those."

"What do you think I'm doing? If you didn't keep making me laugh, I might get somewhere." She tried to get out; her speech muffled with chips.

"Fine, I won't look at you. Just tap me on the shoulder when you have finished." True to my word, I turned away from her and looked out of the window seeing a dove settle on the old bench in the garden. "Another bird that will probably add its shit to that bench," I muttered, with no one hearing.


"Right? Does that mean I can look now, or was you about to say something?"

"Right, as in, let's go," Cindy stated, pushing her chair out and making it create that sound that goes right through you. I rolled my eyes.

"I need to get the key from Charlotte. Do you wanna head up?"

"Nah, I'll wait for you by the door."

I wandered over to Charlotte, who looked to be sorting out a dispute with a couple of young kids arguing over a colouring book. How petty that seemed to be when here was me with the world on my shoulders.

Then I remembered how old they were... about five.

As I approached charlotte, she did something quite unusual and altogether frightening, she smiled at me, and I almost ran. Maybe she was smiling at the prospect of getting rid of me shortly; I could only guess. Nevertheless, it was an expression from her that was unnerving. I was used to her having that stern look she nearly always had. I liked that about her because I knew where I stood. But, no, this smiling business meant something was very wrong in the world, and after grabbing the key from her, I hurried off with Cindy.

"Boy, you're in a rush all of a sudden," Cindy said after I nearly took her arm off, pulling her into motion and towards the stairs.

"Cindy, can I ask you something?"

"Sure, Puppy, what is it?"

"Have you ever seen Charlotte happy?"


"I mean, REALLY happy?"

"No, now that you mention it, I don't think I have; why?"

"Never mind! Maybe she has been smoking weed plant."

"Weed plant? What's that?"

"Never mind!"

As we got to Charlotte's room, Mr Watson was just locking his door at the end of the corridor. Cindy and I gave him a small wave, and he walked down to greet us.

"Having another go, Puppy?"

"Something like that Sir, I gather you heard what happened then?"

Mr Watson smiled. "Didn't I tell you something about knowing everything that goes on here?

"Yeah, I guess you did."

"Uh-huh, well listen, I am off home, but if you need anything, then Charlotte is around, as you know. So take as long as you need in there, and remember to lock the door when you have finished. I am trusting you both to be sensible."

"No worries, Mr Watson, we'll be good," Cindy said, as Mr Watson nodded and walked away.

"I'm hardly in the mood for being silly Cindy; what was he on about?"

"Dunno, guess he's worried we might do what kids do... anyway forget that, let's get in there and make this call before you change your mind."

Feeling nervous again, but nowhere near like last time, Cindy and I entered the room and pulled up a chair each. Once again, I dug out the number that Mr Watson had given me and placed it on the table, pulling the phone nearer to us. I took three deep breaths and picked up the receiver.

"Now remember, Puppy, this is your show here; there is no pressure so take your time."

I took another deep breath slowly through my nose and dialled the number, my hand shaking as it worked its way across the keys. Moments after I hit the last number, the earpiece sprang to life with a ringing tone, and the trembling in my hand started to spread to my whole being.

"Hello?" came what I knew was Max's voice. I remained silent. "Hello... Jensen... Jensen, is that you? Please don't hang up."

My breathing was now labouring, and I knew he could probably hear it, but still, I could say nothing. Finally, Cindy took hold of my wrist and squeezed it. It was an act that somehow managed to drip-feed some confidence in me, and I began to open my mouth.

"Uh, yeah, this is Pupp...uh Jensen, is this Max?"

"Oh my god Jensen, oh my god... it's so..." the line went silent for a moment.

"Hello, are you there?" I almost whispered.

I heard Max clear this throat. "Uh... yeah, sorry Jensen, just give me a second; I’m kind of a little overwhelmed hearing you."

"That's okay. Should I go?"

"NO... no, please don't do that," he rapidly said, sounding desperate. "I'm sorry; it's just so good to know that you're real."

"I, um... I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say here; I hope that doesn't sound bad?" I said, feeling a little awkward.

"I totally expect that, Jensen, you don't even know me, and I'm sorry it has taken me this long to find you... my God, there is so much I need to say to you, I just..."

He cut off again, and I could hear him starting to weep once more. I also heard a faint 'are you okay' in the background and assumed it was probably his wife.

"Listen, Max, I... I don't know how this is supposed to work, but I don't feel angry towards you; I’m just a little numb with the whole speaking thing. I don't know what to say, and I'm sorry for that. When I first found out you might be my dad, my head was full of so many questions that I wanted to ask. They will probably return, but at the moment, it just feels kind of weird talking on the phone to you."

Max sniffed. "Please don't apologise, Jensen, I should be the one doing that, but I know that no amount of saying sorry is going to get back sixteen years with you. But please know, I tried my best to find you but your mum she... she wouldn't give me your surname no matter how many times I-"

"My Surname? Its Stibbings, you must have known it was Stibbings, right?" I said, cutting him off.

"No, your mum was already seeing this guy from... look, Jensen, I shouldn't be telling you all this heavy stuff over the phone. If I get permission from your Director, uh... what's his name?"

"Mr Watson?"

"Yeah, Mr Watson, if I get his permission, do you think I could meet you?"

"Wow, erm, well yeah, I guess so. It feels kinda weird thinking about you coming here, though, erm..."

"Does that make you uncomfortable? I don't want to push you away, Jensen, God; I can't afford to make you feel worse than you probably already do; I just think there is a lot you need to know so you can find out what happened."

"And what if I don't like what you tell me?"

"If you want the truth Jensen I didn't dare think that far ahead."

"I want to meet you, Max. I do, I just-"

"Just give me an hour Jensen... give me an hour to convince you I was never the bad guy."

"I don't think that, Max, I have never thought that. Ever since I found out you were my dad, not once did I think you were to blame for me being here. I don't have a theory because no one has ever told me the entire truth, and I know that now."

"So... so will you allow me to see you? I would be so humbled, Jensen, honest to God I would."

"My need to know is greater than my comfort zone being broken, Max."

"So you will?"

"Yes, Max, I'll meet you because my heart is telling me it’s right."


I carefully placed the phone down on its base, treating it like a glass I was scared of dropping. Then, pulling my hand away, I sat back in the chair and tugged the elastic on my t-shirt collar before puffing air through my lips.

"That was intense," I muttered. Cindy was looking at me intently, her eyes wide, like I was the person who knew when the world was going to end.

"Well?" she exclaimed. "What did he sound like, was his voice like yours... did he tell you about himself... was he-"

"Cindy, slow down, Jesus!" I said, chuckling at her deliria.

"Sorry, Puppy, but you need to say something; you can't just sit there in silence when the biggest thing... like ever has just taken place!"

"Just give me a minute; I need to calm down." Cindy beamed a smile and smothered me in a hug.

"Puppy, do you know what you just did?"

"Almost crapped myself?" I replied, matter of fact.

"You... just... spoke... to... your daaaad!"

"Yeah... yeah, I did, didn't I," I said, starting to beam my own smile.

"This is such a step forward, Puppy Stibbs; I am on cloud nine for you. So, you have to tell me, when is he coming to see you?"

"Well, I think he said he was going to call Mr Watson and talk about getting permission. But, to be honest, the whole phone call feels like a blur now. It's like one of those dreams you wake up from and remember everything in the first ten seconds but then right after you forget the lot."

"Hmm, I know what you mean, but hey, why does he need permission? He’s your dad; he can come in here now and get you when he likes, can’t he?"

"I don't think that would be very respectful, and I get the feeling he is a soft kind of guy who wouldn't want to make waves if he could help it."

"Oh wow," Cindy gushed. "He sounds so cool already."

I slumped even further down into my chair and looked up at the ceiling, briefly closing my eyes. Finally, I had done it; at long last, I had picked up that phone and called him. It was a relief mixed with satisfaction, Sadness mixed with guilt. The guilt was for Cindy because, in my mind, although I was one step closer to my father, on the flip side, I was one step away from Cindy. My heart bled for her. So much love for her boiled inside of me. Her sweet face as she watched me from the window when I kicked around my ball outside. Such a genuine and pure heart with only affection and compassion for people. Where did a girl with such a devastating background get such an incredible soul from? I didn't know much about God or religion, but my best friend was surely destined for higher places when she was done on this earth.

She was terrific, quite simply amazing!

"You make me want to cry, Cindy. Fucking hell, I wish I could just cry now, and I don't think I could ever admit that to anyone but you, not even Doctor Listern."

"Aww, Puppy, why do you say that?"

"I dunno, I just love you so much it hurts to think about... man, I don't even want to say it."

"Leaving me?"

"It's a horrible prospect."

"Puppy, you are my brother in everything but the blood that runs through you. So you don't need to worry because I'll always be with you no matter where you are and do you know how I know that?"


"Because I know I'll always be in here," she said passionately, lightly prodding at my chest. I felt a light fizzing and pressure come to the bridge of my nose, and a tear strained itself out from my eye. Proving that I was not emotionally dead inside, I let the tear fall over the rim of my eye and fall down my face. The feeling of that lone tear seemed to induce more, and suddenly, I did start to cry a little.

"Crying is good puppy; it lets the soul breathe."

"Life without you is like not being able to see," I said, stroking her hair.

"Now you are just being dramatic, Stibbs, behave, or you will start me off."

"C'mon, let's get out of here; this room is having an effect on me."

Back down on the ground floor, Cindy and I went back to our rooms. She suggested that we spend the last hour or so of light down by the lake to clear my head somewhat. I agreed that was a good idea and grabbed my jacket before meeting her outside her room.

We headed out through the main back doors, carefully closing them not to let them bang. I hated those doors, they seemed to have quite a violent recoil on them and many a time, was I chastised by Charlotte Grange for letting them crash shut.

Travelling down a slight incline in the cool Autumn air, our shoes being stained green by the freshly cut grass, Cindy spotted a familiar face sitting on the water's edge.

It was Billy Jones, the guy who had traded me the Grand Canyon poster.

"Isn't he always with his sister?" Cindy remarked, alerting me to the fact Leah Jones was nowhere to be seen.

"Usually, yeah," I declared, scanning the area.

"Look, shall we turn back? That boy and his sister give me the creeps."

"Oh Cindy, they're not that bad, and once you get talking to Billy, he is actually okay. I just think whatever happened to them must have left a big scar on their minds, that's all."

Cindy started to slow down as if at any moment she was going to turn back. That was until I grabbed her arm and called out to Billy.

"What did you do that for?" She hissed.

"Just shush and be friendly," I whispered as Billy turned to look at us. Then, as we approached the edge of the lake where Billy was still seated, I raised my hand at him and smiled.

"Hello, you two," he said shyly.

"Hello Billy, you know Cindy don't you?"

"Yes, Puppy, I have seen her around the home. I think we may have said hello, but hello Cindy."

Cindy just smiled her acknowledgement and said nothing. "So, where is Leah today?" I asked, trying to spark up a conversation, which Cindy didn't seem keen on my doing.

"She's with Doctor Listern, Puppy. Do you know Doctor Listern?"

"Yes, Billy, I see him quite often." I grinned, more to myself.

"He says he is going to make my sister well again. My sister is very unwell, you see, more so than me."

"Oh, I see, well I'm sorry to hear that, Billy, that's very sad to hear, isn't it, Cindy," I replied, elbowing Cindy to agree with me. But, instead, she just smiled before feeling she should make conversation too.

"Yeah, it is. So Billy... I hope you don't mind me asking, but what happened to your sister and you to make you both come to Greenstone?"

A scared look formed on Billy's face, and he started to look around to see who might have heard Cindy ask the question.

"My sister says we are not allowed to talk about it; she gets angry with me when I talk about it."

"Oh," said Cindy, looking surprised. "Well, that's okay, if you shouldn't talk about it, then that's fine. So how are you settling into Greenstone? You both haven't been here very long, we noticed," she asked, earning my admiration for making an effort with the poor guy.

"It's very lonely. I miss my dog."

"Your dog?" I asked, thinking that family or friends might have been missed first. Maybe that was a clue somehow.

"Yes, his name is Elmo; he’s a husky. He used to sleep on my bed, but he can't now."

"Aww, I'm sorry to hear you miss him, Billy. I bet he is missing you too but being looked after, I'm sure." I said, but Billy just shook his head.

"Mummy took him to the vets and had him put down because he reminded her of Daddy."

"Oh my God, that's terrible," Cindy cried. Although I didn't say anything, I was somewhat horrified at myself.

"Uh, Billy, does any of the staff know you are out here on your own? I asked him, thinking that he would be unlikely to be allowed out near water unsupervised for eleven and new to the home. But, instead, Billy just stared out across the lake and shrugged.

"Billy, do your mummy and daddy not get along anymore?" Cindy asked, gently prying for information.

"SHE'S DEAD!" he shouted, glaring at her. Then, before Cindy could say anything, he burst into tears and ran back up towards the home, leaving us with our mouths open.

"Cindy, I knew you would push him too far; now look what's happened."

"Sorry, I just thought maybe if he talked about it, it would help."

"He's eleven; he probably doesn't even know what's going on. Whatever has happened, he hasn't been told the whole truth about it; either that or his mind has suppressed it. I went through that phase when I was around nine, so I know how that works."

"I agree, something bad has happened. Do you think his father killed her?"

"Well, she had the dog put down because of him, so she must have been alive when that happened, and seeing as he says he still misses the dog, it makes me wonder if this has all happened quite recently," I replied, trying to put together a puzzle with half the pieces missing it felt.

I picked up a loose stone and skimmed it across the lake, watching as it bounced three times before plopping below. I watched, fascinated as the ripples expanded outwards, disturbing the otherwise calm water. Cindy placed her arm around my waist, and we both stood gazing across the lake, the sun now low in the sky. I loved this time of day. It was so peaceful, and it felt as if the earth was gently renewing itself for a new day.

"Do you think Billy will be okay? I feel so bad now," Cindy remarked, looking up at me.

"Try not to let it worry you, Cindy. I have a hunch that his problems were already bad... what you said to him would not have made them any worse."

"I hope not, I don't think I have ever upset anyone here, and I don't intend to start now. But, perhaps; I I should talk to him."

"Leave it for a while, Cindy. He's obviously feeling very raw about whatever has happened, and you don't want to carry that burden of upsetting him again."

"You're right... so shall we head back in? I have to admit; I’m starting to feel pretty cold standing here."

"Sure, my room or yours?"

"Haha, well, you know I am biased towards your more comfortable mattress, so yours!"

"Okay... hey, what's that over there?"


"Race ya!" I said, starting to run away up towards the house.

"Hey, that's not fair; you did that on purpose," she shouted, starting to run herself.

"Did you see what it was?" I said, starting to crack up.

"There was nothing there; you played an evil trick on me. Anyway. if you win, the result is void because you cheated."

I did indeed win by touching the wall of our home first. Cindy arrived moments later out of breath but still in an altogether jovial mood. I held the door open for her, and we both went inside. Then, appreciating the warm air being forced down from the ceiling air conditioners, we loosened our coats and took a slow walk towards our rooms.




"Puppy?" Cindy asked, stretched out on my bed, while I sat tightly at one end. We were both loosely watching TV.

"Yeah?" I replied dreamily.

"Do you ever think about girls?"

"Huh?" I asked, not paying attention.

"I mean, I sometimes think about boys, but not anyone here, more like the ones on TV, but I just wondered what-"

"Cindy, what are you on about?" I asked, really just hearing a load of words come out of her mouth while I watched TV. Perhaps I should have been paying more attention.

"Never mind, I was just thinking that's all."

"About girls?" I asked, turning to face her.

"No, silly... see, you aren't even listening to me. I was talking about boys, and I asked you what you thought of girls."

"What about them?"

"Well, as in... do you like them?"

I shrugged. "I dunno, I guess so; why?"

"Dunno, just there is this boy on TV that I think is cute, and I just wondered if there was anyone you liked?"

"On TV?"

"Not just on TV, anywhere?"

"Well, since you ask, no, I don't think I have ever found anyone anywhere that I have liked in that way."


I giggled. "Aww, has that disappointed you?"

"No, don't be silly... I don't even know why I brought it up."

"Wait a minute. You’re not suggesting-"

"NO! God no, the thought of me and you... haha, Nah, that would be too weird!"

"I'm glad because you're like my sister Cindy, and... well, that just wouldn't work."

Cindy cleared her throat. "Is, um... is that because you like boys, Puppy?"

"WHAAAT? No!" I blurted, starting to go red.

"Okay, calm down... but it’s okay you know." She said casually, twirling her hair around her fingers.

"Whatever gave you the idea that... I mean, how did I ever... Cindy, why are we having this conversation."

"Look, Puppy, just forget I mentioned it, but just so you know, if you do like boys, then I am totally okay with it... end of conversation."

My face was now as red as a beetroot. Part of me wanted to ask her where she got the idea from, but the other part said she would want to talk about it if I brought it up, and I really didn’t want to.

"So, erm, are you all set for class tomorr-"

"Brokeback Mountain!" Cindy turned to me and said.

I coughed involuntarily. "What's that?" I asked, looking away from her.

Cindy grinned. "What? So you're telling me you don't know?"

"Why would I?"

"Because it's a movie that is currently saved to your TV recorder, perhaps?"


"Hey, you were In the shower one day, and I was bored waiting, so I just looked to see what stuff you had saved," she whined.

"I...I was just curious, that's all, and how do you know what Brokeback Mountain even is?" I retorted, trying to shift some heat away from myself.

"Duuuh! Because when you select the program, it gives you a description, and I could pretty much tell after reading that description it was about two guys doing it up a big hill."

"I feel sick!"

Cindy burst out laughing. "Something you ate?" she asked through the fits. Her laughter mixed with my pure embarrassment was making me smile too, and in the end, I was giggling, still bright red.

"I'm sorry, Puppy, I didn't mean to embarrass you; I have just been trying to find a way of asking you about this. I knew whenever I did; it was going to be an awkward moment, shall we say. So... I mean, when you say you are curious, what do you mean?"

I shrugged. "Just that, really."

"But I am right, though, yeah? you lean more towards boys than girls?"

"I'm not sure Cindy... honestly, the whole Brokeback Mountain thing was a curiosity thing. Like totally" Cindy tilted her head and gave me a sly expression. "What?" I asked.

"The recorder says it's been watched four times."

"And you have a disgusting ability for attention to detail!"

Cindy yawned before smiling at my comment. "Well." She stretched. "I'm gonna head off back to my room as I'm starting to feel a little tired."

"Are we okay?"

"What? Yeah, of course, we are... look, I don't care who you like, the only thing I care about is the fact you didn't feel you could talk to me about it, and you know how I love hot gossip, Stibbs!"

"It's nothing, Cindy, but I'm sorry I didn't tell you; I was just embarrassed, that's all."

I laid in bed with the light out, trying to get to sleep. All I could think of were two things... the conversation with my dad and fucking Brokeback Mountain. The truth was, I had never seen a film with sex in it before because the TV service we get is entirely moderated in the home, for obvious reasons. Usually, when a programme was about to start that was deemed too adult for us, it would cut to a black screen, and all you would be left with was the sound. This was precisely what I expected to happen one night when they had advertised Brokeback Mountain earlier that evening. I actually forgot it was left on the same channel, so when I heard it was about to start, I picked up my remote, intending to change the channel, thinking the screen was about to go black.

But it didn't.

For some reason, the film escaped the standard filters, and don't ask me why because I don't know. But I ended up watching it because it seemed exciting right from the start, plus the fact there was nothing else on I was aware of that evening.

Even though I was watching the movie... as I was feeling tired I decided to record the film just in case I fell asleep. At least that way, I could watch it another night. So that is how it got to be on my TV recorder. Unbeknown to me at the time, the movie contained a sex scene between two men. I thought this would have weirded me out, but instead, I found the parts where they did the romantic stuff quite arousing. Maybe it was because I had never seen anything on TV, intimate wise, that was quite so graphic, who knows. As sleep approached and my mind started to settle, I was left with just one last thought.

Being Sixteen was starting to feel quite complicated!

But the details of that are for another time!

And, sleeeep.........

Copyright © 2021 James Matthews; All Rights Reserved.
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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. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Puppy is indeed growing up.  I'm excited for him to meet his father and find out the story!  Cindy is truly a lifetime friend!

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Can't wait to hear the story about Dad and how he discovered his missing son!  Great great story James - thank you!

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