Attending the choir day, Geoff has an interesting time ...
At the lunch interval of the Haydn 'Come and Sing', Geoff dropped his Creation vocal score onto the school's wooden floor. Would he ever be able to speak again? As with any musician, he had some insight into being a singer. Or so he thought. How to breathe, finding the pitch, always acting in concert, but more than anything, relying on himself as the instrument were things he found a revelation. God, his throat felt like someone had run sandpaper over it, several times.
He sagged back into the seat, letting his arms hang limp by his side. “Bloody hell …”
Two contrasting chuckles greeted his weary words. One, Tony's, was laced with warmth and sympathy. No surprise there. The other was more of a cackle. Something with perhaps an edge to it.
“You youngsters! No stamina.” Ted shook his head in disbelief. “I don't know – anyone'd think we'd just sung the whole of the Bach B minor Mass without stopping.”
Geoff's eyes grew round at the thought.
“Don't be so mean, Ted. It's his first time.” Tony's poorly concealed grin belied any apparent criticism. “We're meant to be encouraging new members, not denigrating them.”
The older man stood up, seemingly none the worse for wear, and donned his pullover. “You won't bamboozle me with your fancy words, Tony Marshall. I'll speak my mind like I always do.”
Tony sniggered and shook his head. Behind the gruff exterior lay something softer, as Ted had demonstrated when his singing partner guessed the nature of his relationship with Geoff.
Didn't happen often though … “Yes, Ted. I learnt that long ago.”
Geoff smiled to himself. He was content to let the others continue with the banter. His throat throbbed steadily in the background. The less he had to speak before the afternoon session started, the better.
“Come on, big man.”
He focussed on Tony's outstretched hand.
“The buffet lunch is next door. It doesn't come to you unfortunately.”
“Food!” Geoff was pleasantly surprised the single word didn't come out as a croak.
“Yes, food. We'll all need plenty of calories to get through the afternoon. Plus the run-through at the end.”
“Will someone lend your boyfriend a new voice? That's the question in my mind.” Ted winked at Tony.
“Rubbish. He'll survive.”
Geoff allowed himself to be pulled upright.
“It might help if you don't push yourself so much.”
Geoff frowned. “Not aware I was.”
“Hmm … It's more a question of relaxing: don't let things tighten up. It'll relieve some of the stress on your voice box.”
“OK.” Not that he was sure how to achieve it. Even the short break so far made him feel less knackered.
Tony turned to the older man who was putting his vocal score away in a battered, zip-up wallet. “Ted, will you show our new-born chorister here where the food's on offer? I've got to disappear for a minute or two.”
Geoff watched the other man mime making a pinprick on his finger. Tony nodded. Both he and Ted understood his boyfriend had to check his blood sugar levels. Type-1 diabetes was a constant watching game, even with his automated insulin pod.
“Right, lad.” Ted raised his eyebrows. “Let's get in the queue before the sopranos snaffle it all.”
A few minutes later, all three of them were seated at a table which had come straight from one of the classrooms. The seats had as well, and Geoff shuffled around on the hard plastic, trying to find a comfortable position. Each of their paper plates was heaped with food, though Tony's had a preponderance of salad with less bread and pastry.
Tony took a long draught of his orange squash: singing was thirsty work and the school hall wasn't air conditioned. He stretched his long legs down the length of the table.
He turned to Ted. “I nearly gave up on you earlier. You're not usually late. Everything OK?”
“Yes, fine.” The older man rolled his eyes. “My missus decided to visit her sister all of a sudden. I had to hang around 'til she was ready, so I could drop her off at the station on the way here. You'd have thought she was going to a royal garden party, the amount of time she spent getting ready.”
There was a sly smile playing on the edge of his lips. Tony smirked in response. Theirs was a marriage which had lasted: settled, loving, and accommodating, despite any appearance to the contrary.
Geoff was looking around while he chewed on an egg and cress sandwich. “Isn't Zoe joining us?”
“Good god, no. I imagine she's grabbed her supplies and is lurking outside somewhere. Don't you think we'd cramp her style?”
“My sister, Ted. She sat at the back of the sopranos. Piercings and tattoos? I did mention her to you.”
“Oh, aye. I saw her. She'd be a good-looking lass if it wasn't for all that stuff. Why do young people want to mark themselves out in such a way?”
Tony shrugged. “It's the fashion, and it's not restricted to the young. Zoe's are either fake or temporary: she works at a very conservatively-minded law firm.”
“Oh … she's a lawyer then?”
“No. She's working there as a receptionist until she gets a proper job doing what she wants, which is design.”
Geoff had wolfed down all his sandwich triangles and miniature quiches. He looked at his empty plate. “D'you think anybody'll mind if I went back for seconds?”
Tony tried not to giggle. “Doubt it. If there's anyone still without, they must be asleep.”
Geoff muttered an excuse, then hurried off to the buffet table.
“Likes his food, your Geoff.”
Ted might eat his own more slowly, but Tony noticed his plate was also empty.
He smiled. “He does. It's one of the things I love about him. I'm getting him to eat more healthily, but otherwise I leave him to it.”
“The diabetes doesn't cause a problem when you're cooking for two?”
He ate another forkful of salad while considering his reply. “No, not really. If we're having pasta, I'll concentrate more on the sauce and have a salad on the side. Same with potatoes or rice. I'll still have some, just less.”
“You make a good pair, I reckon.”
Tony felt the heat in his cheeks. “Thanks, Ted. From both of us. Yes, I believe I've found the right man at last.”
“Me and the missus have been married forty years. Not without its ups and downs, but we're still together.”
“We'll do well to follow your example.”
They both looked up to see Geoff return, carrying two plates. The one for him was again piled high with sandwiches with a garnish of crisps. The other, he handed over: a salad, crowned with cherry tomatoes still on the vine.
“Wow. Thanks, love.”
“It's OK: there's nobody close by. Most people have finished and gone outside.” Tony inspected the tomatoes. “They look succulent.”
Ted leant over. “They will be. They're our tomatoes from the greenhouse. The missus picked them yesterday.”
Tony took one, let the juicy sweetness explode into his mouth and swallowed. “That's exceptional, Ted. A really good taste.”
“You grow any of your own veg?”
Geoff turned pink. He put his sandwich down. “Err … no. I … we rent a place from my mother which has quite a large garden. I look after it, but there's no veg.”
“You're missing out, both of you. We spend time on the allotment every day.”
“Every day?” Geoff's eyebrows shot up.
“Pretty much – there's always things to do in the greenhouse, or the shed. Only if it's been snowing do we think about staying indoors.”
Tony noted the small pile of sandwiches which remained on his boyfriend's plate. He checked the time. “You've got ten minutes in which to finish those.”
The room was much busier with singers milling around, having a final drink or greeting friends, before heading back to the school hall.
Geoff stared at his food.
“We'll give you a hand, shall we?”
At his nod, he and Ted dived in, clearing what was left in a matter of minutes.
“Feel ready for the next session?”
Geoff shrugged. “My throat feels less sore.”
Ted laughed. “We can't have that. I'll give you ten minutes before you change your mind.”
“Ted! He'll do fine. … Come on, let's get back to our seats before we have to fight our way past the rest.”
On the evening of the following day, the two men relaxed in a hot, soothing bath. A Sunday morning spent moving Tony's stuff from one house to the other was followed by the inevitable lawn-mowing and other garden tasks in the afternoon. They ended up hot, with tired muscles, and in dire need of cleaning up. They tried to have a bath instead of a shower at least once a week. A shower was quicker and more utilitarian, but the stall wasn't very big, so they ended up getting in each other's way. Tony suffered several knocked elbows and knees to prove it; as did Geoff. They enjoyed the intimacy and peace of soaking in a bath; plus, it was a perfect time to talk.
As they settled down in the scented water, Tony gave his companion a squeeze. “You sure you don't want to do the holding for a change?”
“I'm fine.” Geoff looked over his shoulder. “I love being held like this.”
“OK. Maybe we'll change things around sometime?”
“Yeah … There's certainly more of me to provide cushioned support.”
Tony sniggered. “There's nothing the matter with that. I love having something to grab hold of.”
“Excuse me!” Geoff splashed him. “You make me sound like a football, or a life belt.”
“Hardly.” He tightened his grasp, loving the solid, living flesh.
Then one hand slipped below the surface of the water, following the dark, enticing treasure trail which led to one of his favourite things. Tony contented himself with running his fingers through Geoff's luxuriant hair while also caressing the gentle swell of his gut.
For now, he wanted to talk. Making love would come later.
“How did you find Ted?” They'd already talked out the previous day's singing, but hadn't discussed Tony's singing partner in any detail.
Before he could reply, Geoff twitched and gasped softly as Tony's exploring hand strayed onto the other man's cock. After a moment, he withdrew his hand to a safer distance.
“Sorry … Ted, was it?”
Tony giggled. “A-ha.”
“I liked him. I'm going to take up his invitation to look around his allotment. Sounds as though I could learn a lot. Pity there's such a long waiting list to get a patch.”
Eight years was the average wait, according to Ted.
“It shouldn't bother us: we've plenty of space to start a vegetable plot.”
“Yeah, I know, but the advice isn't on tap like it would be there.”
He kissed Geoff's neck. “True. Still, think of all the people without any access to a garden. What about them? And often they're the ones who need to be eating more greens. Look, why don't you ask Ted to come and show you a suitable spot? Then we can try growing stuff for next year.”
“OK.” Geoff shifted position, rubbing up against Tony's cock which was sandwiched between them.
Tony wondered if it was deliberate. His hand wandered lower again and he leant forward so his mouth was against Geoff's ear. “I wondered if we might try sucking each other off afterwards?”
“Hmm?” Geoff continued his rubbing.
“At the same time, I mean. A sixty-nine.”
Tony snorted in return. “Is that a good reaction or a bad one?” He couldn't think of any reason why it should be bad: Geoff enjoyed oral sex as much as he did.
His companion swivelled his head round as far as he could and gave him an one-eyed glare. “What d'you think, you idiot?”
His own wide-eyed look of surprise made them both snigger. “OK … Well, since you're now sucking me off like a pro …” He ignored Geoff's snort of denial. “It'll be fun.”
“We've never done that before. Sounds great.”
“Yeah. I can hardly wait.” His hand brushed against Geoff's organ which was plumped up.
They took a few moments.
Geoff stirred. “We'll be on holiday in less than two weeks. Bliss. Isn't it a glorious thought?”
“Yep. Though … a whole week in each other's company? D'you think we'll still be talking by the end of it?”
Geoff nestled his head against Tony's damp shoulder. “Good question. It'll be by far the longest period we'll have spent together. No work, or music, or anything else. … Though having said that, you're nearly full-time here.”
“Yeah.” Tony thought of something. “The letting agency sent me a text saying they've a couple of people interested.”
“Really? Wow. No wonder you were pushing things along earlier.”
“Should've told you this morning. Forgot. Sorry.”
Geoff let out a sigh of contentment. “Doesn't matter. You've told me now.”
“We're nearly done there. I need to agree with the agency what's being left behind, and its condition.”
“OK. Your stuff hasn't made much difference to the general clutter.”
Tony sniggered. “Apart from my bike.”
“Yeah, and your walking gear.” Geoff looked over his shoulder again. “If I see you packing any of that for our holiday, I'll be afraid. Very afraid.”
“Rubbish! There'll come a time when you'll realise walking is good, gentle exercise out in the fresh air.”
“Anyway … I'll probably take my walking boots, simply 'cause they're better for dealing with some of the terrain. You got any stout shoes?”
“Not really. What I use for gardening is probably the closest, though they're not exactly presentable. Anyway, this is only theoretical, isn't it? I mean we're not walking the Wall.”
Tony snuggled in closer, relishing heated skin and flesh. “You make it sound like climbing Ben Nevis, love.”
“I know, but …”
“Take them with you; Northumberland is pretty wild. Even walking to the Roman forts, you'll be glad of something more sturdy than trainers.”
“Just so long as …”
“OK, OK. I'm only making a point.”
They both laughed.
Tony kissed his boyfriend's neck. “Ready to get out?”
Geoff looked round. “Hmm. And so to bed?”
“You bet. Followed by supper.”
In her lounge, Joy put the phone back into its charger. All that hurry just for some wretched marketing scam. She'd read in the Daily Mail that many of them originated abroad. What was the point? There couldn't be that many people taken in by their ludicrous claims? She only got up to answer it because it was just after seven: Geoffrey's usual time to call her. Only when she picked up the handset, she realised how unlikely he was to be on the line. She sighed. An almost Pavlovian response born out of so many calls over the years.
If she was honest with herself, she missed Geoffrey, for all his failings. Joy returned to the kitchen and the chore of washing the day's dishes. At least she was more mobile now: the swelling on her knee had mostly disappeared, and her hand had scabbed up nicely. There was only the occasional twinge when she moved awkwardly. More of her normal routine had come into play: she got her own shopping, went to the library, and the following week, she was getting her hair done. About time too: her social circle would never let her forget just how lank and unkempt her hair looked, if she dared to show herself. There was only so much she could do herself to keep it looking good.
Gloria and her neighbour's son, Peter Blanchard were her only recent visitors, and now she could get around without trouble, she'd be dispensing with his assistance. Though she was grateful for his help. Should she get him something for his trouble? Joy dried what was on the draining board while she considered this. A bottle of whiskey? All men liked whiskey, whether they admitted it or not. She always kept a bottle in the kitchen cupboard at home. With a nod to herself, she added it to her mental shopping list. Job done, she settled down in the lounge for the rest of the evening.
Picking up the TV guide, she flicked from page to page, searching for something to spend time on. There wasn't even the usual Sunday evening adaptation from the classics: instead the guide announced a thriller of some kind. She turned it on, if only for the company and stimulation it offered. Her friends lavished praise on the programmes they watched via satellite and streaming services. She wasn't even quite certain how the latter worked. Geoffrey tried to explain on one occasion, but she couldn't grasp the concept. In those conversations with her friends, she sat mostly mute, listening to the others describe a different world.
And as for social media … That was more a different universe. Not owning a computer or a mobile phone, she'd never experienced them first hand. Again Geoffrey answered some of her questions by showing her the sites on his laptop. What was the attraction? Joy focused her attention on the TV screen for moment, realised she had no idea what was going on, and turned it off. She understood the ease with which families could communicate, but all the other dross? The cat pictures, gossip, thousands of words talking about nothing … The last lunch she attended was dominated by a discussion of the merits of some fad diet or another promoted on one of the sites. She sat there, eating her food, and contributed hardly anything. She was sure they noted her lacklustre performance.
And in their chats, Gloria kept recommending things to read and watch which were only online. Joy stared out at the golden summer's evening. The questions of her son's sexuality and getting a computer weren't as separate as she'd like. Who was she going to ask about getting a computer if it wasn't Geoffrey? She continued to gaze at the gathering dusk, mind full of her current problems.
In bed, Geoff stirred and realised Tony's arms were still wrapped around him. A lingering taste in his mouth was only one of several reminders they'd sucked each other off. He was sated. Gloriously, wondrously fulfilled.
Tony's chin scraped against the base of his neck. “Enjoy that, big man?”
“God, yes.” He spooned closer. “If that's a sixty-nine in all its glory, sign me up.”
There was a chuckle in his ear. “Hmm … We did pretty well for a first time: no elbows, knees, or noses even, got in the way.”
“I still feel I'm being turned inside out when you make me cum.”
“Yeah? Good. Well, maybe you're making up for lost time. Having your mouth full of me will always make me shiver, I think. You were wonderful.”
Again, Tony's chin prickled his flesh.
Geoff peered round. “Didn't you shave this morning?”
“Oh … You mean I've actually got stubble?”
He snorted at the pleased tone in the other man's voice.
Tony squeezed him, then ran several fingers through his chest hair. “Unlike some guys I could mention, I don't need to shave every day.”
“I haven't noticed.” Another gap plugged in his knowledge of Tony.
“Neither of us spend much time in front of a mirror with a razor, do we?”
Geoff turned round to face his boyfriend. “I was thinking of getting tidied up in honour of our holiday.”
“OK …” Tony smirked. “So, am I gonna come back one day to find you barbered within an inch of your life?”
More heat rose in his cheeks. “No; more … tamed? I'm feeling a little too shaggy for the summer.”
“Hmm.” Tony gave him a kiss. “So just how much is going to be on display then?”
The other man took pity. “I'm sure you'll look great.” He rolled onto his back and stretched. “Supper?”
“Need you ask?”
They both laughed.
My thanks to Parker Owens, my long-suffering editor.
Sorry it's been so long since the last chapter; computer troubles got in the way. I hope to resume the normal fortnightly schedule.