Kevin mulled over things each night when he went to bed. He was still wondering why he wasn’t angry with his mother, just very confused. As each day passed he felt a little better and came to the conclusion that his parents’ love and care for him must be stronger than he had previously thought. He had not consciously given it any thought before. He just took it for granted, but now that he was presented with a real problem he realised that family support was important. ‘Fuck’ he said to himself ‘I must be growing up. This thinking things through like an adult is a bit scary. I think I preferred the ignorance and spontaneity of childhood.’
One evening he had no set homework as his teacher had suggested instead of home work the class should spend more time on preparing for the upcoming final HSC exams, but decided to use his free time making another video for his channel. It had been two months since his last effort and he thought it was time to get back online and find more fans. Rather than just make it up as he went along, he made a plan for this recording. Ballet was going to be the theme again and he wanted to show more of his stage sets as well as demonstrate how he constructed them. He went to retrieve some older ones from the shed and displayed them around his room with the more recent designs.
After the unfortunate demise of Maude he had emptied the lake and stored the set under his bed. When he pulled it out, a shiver went through him and a touch of guilt set in. At the time of the incident he had been so busy covering up his involvement that he had no time to feel guilty.
He then thought about his mother and how guilty she must feel about her 18 year old secret. If she could deal with it then he must work through his guilt as well. ‘Fuck, there I go again, thinking like an adult. I’m not sure I like this growing up thing.’ He put those thoughts aside for a while and decided to remodel the Swan Lake set, by removing the offending lake and reset it for a ballroom scene. He then looked over the old sets he brought in from the shed. The Giselle, Nutcracker and Romeo & Juliet sets were all a little in need of repairs, so he decided their upgrade would be the subject of his next video.
The village in the Giselle set was fine but the forest background was only a painted flat. Kevin decided to replace this with a three dimensional forest, so he need to purchase materials to make trees.
He noted The Nutcracker toy shop needed the toys updating and decided to bring it into the twenty-first century by adding modern toys. He would add toy cars, aircraft, robots and video games. Some of these he could buy in miniature form at toy shops others he would have to make.
Re-interpreting traditional ballets and giving them a contemporary feel was a passion of Kevin’s when building his sets. When he looked over his Romeo & Juliet set with its traditional Palace scene he decided this also need an upgrade. This set had a revolving stage with the palace on one side and the balcony on the other. He would keep the traditional palace but would completely rebuild the balcony scene. His plan was to build a Perspex balcony with a staircase that was almost invisible. The back wall of the balcony was to be clear Perspex so that a bedroom scene, he would build behind it, would also be visible to his imaginary audience.
Kevin purchased the necessary materials and recorded himself renovating the sets. He edited it down to thirty minutes, to keep his audience engaged.
A few days later, when he was happy with the final edit he was so pleased he attempted to upload it but encountered some technical difficulties that he could not solve. He called his mate Steve, who Kevin always used to sort out his digital problems. “No problem mate, I’ll come right over; I’m a bit bored here anyway.”
“Great I’ll get some snacks ready.”
“Have you got anything to drink?”
“Sure there’s juice and cola in the fridge.”
“I was hoping for something a bit stronger.”
“OK, I’ll see if I can get Dad on side.”
Kevin went off to see how much credit he had left with his father. He thought ‘I’ve been through a traumatic experience so I might as well make the most of it and use the situation to my advantage’.
“Dad, Steve’s coming over to fix a computer problem for me.”
“That’s fine Kev. Steve’s a good mate to you.”
“Yes, Dad and that’s why I was wondering if I could have a few beers so that when he fixes the problem we might just kick back and chat about things.”
“I think that’s an excellent idea Son; just help yourself but only drink in moderation.”
“Of course Dad, always; I’ve learnt that from you.”
As Kevin walked into the kitchen he said quietly “Yes!” and thrust a fist into the air. He put six cans in a cool bag, raided the pantry for chips and nuts, then went back to his room.
Daniel was not only pleased that Kevin seemed like he was going to talk to his mate about his problems, but also received a compliment and reassurance from Kevin that he still recognised him as his father and mentor.
When Steve arrived, Daniel welcomed him but before ushering him to Kevin’s room, he said. “Steve, Kevin regards you as a good mate and I assume it is the same with you.”
“Ye...ye...yes Mr. Covid.” he replied hesitantly.
“That’s good Steve. Men need their mates, especially when times are difficult.”
“Yep, I can see that.” he said with confusion in his voice.
“I just wanted to be sure of that; so off you go and you two have fun together.”
“Th...th...thanks Mr Covid.” He stammered. Steve did not have a speech impediment, but Daniel’s words confused him and he didn’t know where the conversation might have gone if he hadn’t been dismissed.”
Steve let himself into Kevin’s room and after being greeted by Kevin, he asked “What’s with your Dad and all the mate stuff?”
“Don’t worry he’s just been a bit weird lately. Oh and by the way; look what I’ve got.”
“You’re a good man Kevin Covid. So what’s this problem with the uploading?”
Kevin explained the problem, opened a beer for Steve and one for himself. He then settled back to check his phone while Steve worked on the computer. It only took Steve about twenty minutes to diagnose the problem and fix it. By then he had finished his first can and said “Well that’s fixed, do I get a reward?”
“Sure” said Kevin as he threw another can towards Steve.
“Thanks... now do you want me to do the upload for you?”
“Carry on; I’d probably stuff it up again.”
While the file was uploading the two settled back to suck on cans and stuff their faces with chips.
“Steve, how long have we been mates?”
“Since year five primary school, when my family moved into this area. I remember on my first day at the new school, you walked past our place as Mum and I were heading off. You recognised my uniform and asked if I was going to your school. I really didn’t want my mum to walk me to school anyway, so you saved my from that when you said you’d show me the way and also show me around the school.”
“Yeah, I’d forgotten about that, but I remember at lunch time you asked me about the sports clubs at school and which ones I belonged to.”
“I wondered why I picked you for a friend when you told me you didn’t belong to any sports teams because that was just for knuckleheads. I didn’t really know what that meant, but, judging by the way you said it, I knew it wasn’t a good thing. Then you proved you were worthy of my friendship when you promised to introduce me to some other boys who were in sports teams.”
“Yeah, I did do that, didn’t I, even though I didn’t like those jocks because they used to tease me about going to ballet classes.”
“I think that’s when I decided that I really wanted to be your friend. You did that for me even though it must have been difficult for you. Looking back on it now I think you were brave to approach those guys on my behalf.”
“Thanks Steve, I didn’t feel brave at the time. I was shit scared, but something made me do it, maybe I wanted to impress you and keep you as a friend. But a few days later I thought I’d probably done the wrong thing because I was sure you would join the teams, make new friends there and forget about me.”
“But I didn’t forget about you and never will. Sure I had some good mates in the rugby team in winter and the swim team in summer, but I could never really talk to those guys about personal stuff like I can with you. With them it was just guy stuff like training, game strategies and other sports results. I remember when it looked likely that my parents might get divorced and I told you that it scared me and who would I live with. You told me that I could live with you.”
“Yeah, I thought that would be fun, but they didn’t get divorced after all.”
“Then there was that time you came over and demanded to have an appointment with my father because you thought you were dying of cancer. I told you a plastic surgeon wouldn’t be able to help you with cancer. But you were so insistent I asked Dad to talk to you anyway.”
“He was really nice about it and explained that it was not cancer and that night time emissions were natural and told me they were called wet dreams.”
“So, you see we have a different friendship to those other guys.”
“You’ve never told me this before, why?”
“I guess I just didn’t feel I needed to spell it out, we were good friends, I felt comfortable talking about anything with you and that was what really mattered. Mind you, I wasn’t able to think about it like that then. It’s only as you get older you start to think about stuff like that.”
“You know, in some ways I used to envy the way you got on with your teammates. You always seemed so happy when you were with them.”
“And you would know, you always seemed to be there at swim club and rugby training even though you never joined in; why?”
“I wanted to be near you and watch you and somehow that was a replacement for not being a jock myself. Then as we got older I used to like watching the way grabbed the ball and just charged right through the opposing team to score. You seemed to be a man on a mission and nothing was going to stop you. I liked that and also the way you always gave me a thumbs up when you scored a goal. I don’t think the other boys noticed that you aimed it directly at me.”
“And I also like the way you jumped around like a crazy person when I scored. I knew you were doing it just for me.”
“Did I do that, I don’t really remember. But I do remember what I really loved was watching you walk out of the change room, parade along the side of the pool and then stand proudly on the starting blocks for your race.”
“What did you like about that?”
“At the beginning it made me feel good that I was the best friend of this boy who was going to whip the arses off all those other boys, but that changed over the years.”
“Do I really have to explain it?”
“I think I know, but I’d like to hear you say it.”
“Steve, you were an absolute golden god, standing on the blocks in your speedos. There I’ve said it.”
“Well thank you. It’s nice to have such a devoted fan.”
“And furthermore, do you know you sometimes get a hard-on when you are about to start a race.”
“Do I, fuck, is it that obvious.”
“Yes Steve, it’s that obvious and I just love it.”
Steve leaned forward towards Kevin and said “There’s something I need.”
“Do you want another beer?”
“No, I want to kiss you.” Kevin looked pleasantly stunned. “And then I’ll have another beer.”
But Steve didn’t get around to that next beer. He had another thirst that needed quenching.