They tell us that by the time we reach our final year of schooling, that last year of our childhood before we step out into the real world as young adults, that we should have some idea of what it is that we want to do with our lives.
Yeah right! As if!
I know that in my case I had spent most of my high school years filled with uncertainty about what the future may hold for me and what it was exactly that I did want to do after I had left school, but by the time we had reached our mid-year exams however, which were a full-blown trial run of the real thing that we would be facing later in the year, I had pretty much made up my mind. Finally!
That taste of excitement from being on stage when we had done the musical the previous year, and my hearing and seeing and feeling the response from the audience on those couple of amazing nights, had pretty much sealed it for me. I wanted to sing and dance and act - or at least give it my best shot.
Who knows, I might surprise everyone and actually be good at it!
The reactions of my family members were fairly predictable, though. My father, despite the fact that he had been completely blown away by our efforts some months earlier, told me in no uncertain terms that I was fucking crazy and that, ‘No son of his was going to spend his adult life prancing around on a stage.’
My mother, while not entirely in love with the idea, was supportive.
And Jason? Well, he was now convinced that I just had to be gay! Although thankfully, those thoughts were shared only between himself and me.
As for the rest of our little gang of friends, of which Jonathon now seemed to have become a permanent part (much to the consternation of the rest of our class), they were all looking in different directions.
Guy looked like he wanted to head into the computer field, but was being pretty laid back about it all. He said he’d be happy doing anything really, just so long as I was somewhere around.
Ben, who in some respects I had always looked upon as the most serious and focused out of us all, even allowing for the fact that he spent most of his waking moments goofing off and acting like he belonged in kindergarten, looked like all he wanted to do was head north and be with Samantha, and to hell with everything else.
While Jonathon was definitely going to do Business Studies. Somewhere or other.
I guess that as we were growing older we were all changing. We were no longer the fucked up kids we had been a few years earlier. Life was now starting to take on some meaning and purpose, well, for some of us at least.
So far, Guy and I had also managed to keep the closeness of our relationship a secret from everyone, including Jason and Kevin, but the further we went, the more difficult it was becoming.
We spoke often about what it would be like to be able to live our lives however we wanted, without the need for all this secrecy and subterfuge, and decided that once school was finished we both wanted to get out of this town and go some place together. Some place where it wouldn’t matter what we did or who knew about us. Some place where people could just take us or leave us.
We both liked the idea of heading to Queensland and trying to get into University up there if we could, but that was still a long way away, so we hadn’t done anything about starting to make plans or whatever.
We knew that Ben would head off to be with Samantha, who was studying at the new University up on the north coast, the first chance he would get and so we also thought about checking out that place as well, one day when we could manage to find the time.
* * *
Autumn and spring were definitely my favourite times of year. One, a season where the trees started turning, bathing the town in a blanket of warm colours, and the other, a season when new life starts emerging and the drabness of winter is smothered by new colours and new sounds and the air is fresh and alive.
By the time our mid-year exams rolled around, autumn had been and gone and winter was now slowly spreading its icy fingers over the land. Spring was still an eternity away.
As always, Guy and I spent as much time together as we could, but it’s not what you are thinking; we actually did spend most of our time studying. If you feel the need at all to want to check up on us, just ask Ben and Jonathon, who I’m sure would back us up. Maybe.
One night in May, about a month out from our mid-years, Guy and I were sitting in his car up at the lookout and gazing out at the city lights below us, just like we did on a regular basis. It was one of the places we liked to escape to as often as we could, where we knew we wouldn’t be disturbed by anyone.
We were sitting in the dark, on the back seat of his car, with Guy propped up against the door and me propped up against Guy, my back snuggled into his chest and with his arms wrapped snugly around me. I could hear him breathing softly beside my ear, his warm breath sending a tingle through me each time it touched the bare skin of my neck.
‘Is it my imagination, or do you think Ben has changed over the last couple of months?’ he asked.
At first I didn’t answer, as I started thinking about Ben, about the once happy-go-lucky friend that he had been, compared to the rather serious person he now seemed to be.
‘Well?’ Guy asked again.
‘Yeah,’ I eventually replied. ‘I was just thinking about your question. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t really noticed it or thought about it until just now, but now that you’ve mentioned it, yeah, I do think he has changed actually.’
‘Hmmmm . . .’
‘Do you think he’s all right? I mean, we can both see it in him, but how much do you think he has changed? And why?’
‘Geez, so many questions! I’m almost sorry I brought it up now.’
‘No. I’m glad that you did. It’s made we wake up to the fact that we’ve been spending so much time together that I hadn’t thought much about Ben at all lately. I hope he’s okay.’
‘Yeah, me too,’ he replied.
‘But I think I’d like to talk to Ben about it.’
‘Yeah, so do I,’ he replied, giving me a hug and kissing me on the neck as he did so.
We stayed there for a while longer, neither saying much, but both of us no doubt with our thoughts on Ben.
The more I thought about him, the more convinced I became that I knew what his problem was, and I said as much to Guy.
‘And what’s that then?’
‘She’s not a problem. Christ almighty, they love each other. Don’t they?’
‘You don’t get it do you? That is the problem. She’s up there on the north-coast. He’s down here. And how often does he get to see her?’
‘Oh,’ Guy answered. ‘But he can’t do much about that though, can he? Unless he . . .’
‘Unless he what?’
‘I was going to say, unless he actually goes and visits her.’
‘Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too.’
‘Do you think we should suggest it to him?’
‘I’m not sure. We should at least talk to him though, don’t you think?’
‘Yeah. I think we should. Or more to the point, I think that you should.’
‘Well, you have been his best friend since the year dot, haven’t you? I think he’d be more likely to listen to you than he would if it came from anyone else.’
‘Yeah. You’re probably right,’ I replied.
We sat there for a while longer, content to just be together and watch the city lights sparkling below us, or study the occasional airplane taking off or landing at the airport which sat atop the hills on the opposite side of town, their landing lights passing directly over as they came and went, almost close enough to touch.
Whenever I was in Guy’s arms I felt safe and secure, and I loved that feeling. I didn’t want it to end. Not now. Not ever.
Thinking about Ben though, I couldn’t help but now be worried about him. I was fairly sure that he was under a fair bit of pressure from home, with this being the make or break year for all of us as far as school was concerned, but I was just as certain that missing Samantha so much wouldn’t be helping him any either.
I knew now that I had to try and talk to him. I had to see if he was all right, and if he needed it, I had to see how we could help him.
After a while, during which we both sat in silence, each to our own thoughts, Guy asked, ‘Do you want to go home yet, babe?’
‘So soon?’ I asked him, then taking one of his hands in mine I brought it up to my lips, kissing him gently.
‘Aaahhhh, I get the picture,’ he said, hugging me close to him and burying his face into the base of my neck, while running his hand down my stomach and finding its way into the top of the track pants and shorts that I was wearing.
He took a hold of me and instantly things started to happen.
‘You always did catch on quick, didn’t you?’ I whispered to him.
‘Well, it helps that I had a good teacher,’ he answered, giving me a firm squeeze.
Slowly I turned around in his arms, so that we were soon laying stomach to stomach, and groin to groin.
‘I love it when we come up here,’ I said to him, then leant in and kissed him, before he could make any wisecracks about the word I had used.
It was no use though, through lips that were working overtime he managed to say, ‘Yeah, so do I. Especially when you do too.’
* * *
Guy picked Ben and me up on the street the following morning, just as he did almost every morning these days, and we arrived in time for class with just seconds to spare - just as we did most mornings these days.
In the few minutes between when I caught up with him and when Guy picked us up, I hadn’t had a chance to say anything to Ben about Samantha, or anything else for that matter, which was something I really wanted to do as soon as possible.
When lunch time came around I figured it was now or never, so as we were putting our books away after the end of the previous lesson, I said to him, ‘Can we talk?’
He looked at me with that lop-sided, quizzical expression of his, as if he were considering what it was that I would possibly want to talk to him about, but before he could say anything I added, ‘I want to talk to you about you!’
‘What the fuck are you going on about?’ he asked.
‘Come on, let’s go down onto the oval.’
I had told Guy through the morning what it was I wanted to do, and had deliberately asked him not to come down to the oval with us. He was cool about it all, and conveniently made himself scarce as soon as the lesson had finished, feigning some excuse about having to go to the library and look something up.
We walked in silence down to the edge of the oval, where we sat on a bench in the shade beneath some old pine trees.
‘You wanna tell me what this is all about?’ Ben asked, starting to sound a little peeved.
‘It’s about you mate. We’re both worried about you.’
‘Wha . . .’ he started to say, then shut his mouth abruptly.
‘You’ve looked out for me often enough over the years. Now it’s my turn to look out for you.’
‘And do what, exactly?’
‘I know you’re miserable mate. You’ve been like it nearly all year. Only now, you’re getting worse. And I think I know why.’
Silence. He didn’t say a word. He just stared off into the distance, looking kind of sad.
‘To be honest, I hadn’t even noticed. It was Guy who asked me last night if I thought you were a bit down. Then the more I thought about it, the more I think I realised what the problem was.’
More silence. Although this time he did look up at me.
After a while he said, ‘You don’t know how much I miss her mate. I mean it’s not just the fooling around and stuff that I miss. It’s her! It’s not having her around. It’s not being able to hear her voice, touch her face, listen to her laugh. It’s everything about her.’
‘Actually, I think I might know how you are feeling mate. I felt the same way even just for those few weeks over Christmas while Guy was away. Question is, what are we going to do about it for you?’
I nodded. ‘If you’re miserable all the bloody time, chances are we’ll end up that way too,’ I said to him, with a laugh. ‘And neither me or Guy want to end up as miserable as you.’
‘Very fuckin funny, wiseass!’
‘Well, it’s true ain’t it?’
He looked down at his hands and started fidgeting.
‘Yeah. I thought so,’ I said.
After a while, during which time I just sat studying him, Ben said, ‘I miss her like crazy, mate. But what can I do about it though?’
‘You could always go see her.’
‘Yeah, right!’ he scoffed.
‘I’m actually trying to be serious here, bud!’
He thought about that for a minute and then said, ‘How could I do that? The bloody mid-years start in the middle of next week.’
‘Well, you could always hop on a bus or something. Just go up for the weekend. I mean, a few days break from studying would do you the world of good I reckon.’
‘For starters, my folks wouldn’t let me.’
‘Yeah, I suppose that’s fair enough.’
‘It is a good idea though,’ he said to me with a grin on his face. ‘And thanks for caring.’
‘Hey, mate. What are friends for? But we still haven’t solved your little problem though, have we?’
‘It’ll be all right mate. I think I feel better already, just having talked about it. So thanks.’
Just then we noticed Jonathon wandering down the path toward us, with a curious expression etched on his face, as if he were sizing us up, wondering what we were up to.
‘If you need a root, mate, I suppose you could always ask Jonathon,’ I whispered to him, jokingly.
Ben’s head snapped back toward me with a look of total disgust on his face.
‘What?’ I exclaimed. ‘I was actually joking, mate! Really!’
Slowly a smile washed over his features and he said, ‘Bastard!’
‘Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself there.’
I looked up just in time to see Jonathon reach us and sit down on a nearby bench.
‘Hi guys,’ he said. ‘What’s happening?’
‘Nothing much, mate. We’ve just been discussing Ben’s love life - or the lack of.’
That was Bens’ fist connecting with my arm.
‘Hey! Watch it!’ I said to him, while rubbing the now painful spot on my arm.
‘You were asking for that one,’ Jonathon added.
‘Yeah, you were!’ Ben chimed in, now laughing.
‘Geez, you try to do a guy a favour . . .’
* * *
The rest of the week went by without incident, and by the time Friday came around Ben was positively cheerful again, so I figured that my little chat with him must have done some good. His cheerful mood seemed to infect us all actually, and by the time we finished school that afternoon it was as if we were all recharged and ready for a big weekend.
‘What are you blokes doing tomorrow?’ Ben asked me as we walked down towards the spot where Guy had parked his car this morning.
‘Not sure yet,’ I replied, while looking across at Guy, who just grinned back at me. ‘I guess we’ll think of something though. You want to call around and we’ll all go down-town or something?’
‘Yeah, maybe. We’ll see what happens, huh?’
‘How about this afternoon? You want to go down to the milk bar or something?’
‘Errr . . . maybe some other time, huh? I have a few things to do this afternoon. Would you mind just giving me a lift home, Guy? Anyway, you blokes need some time together, I reckon,’ he said with a grin.
‘Whatever!’ Guy replied.
We dropped Ben back at his place and listened to him whistling to himself as he went through the front gate.
‘Later then, guys,’ he called out to us, giving us a wave and then shutting the gate.
We waved back and Guy pulled out onto the road.
‘Well, he certainly seems happy,’ Guy commented. ‘Your little pep-talk must have done some good then?’
‘Yeah,’ I answered. ‘It looks like it.’
‘Where to, then? And no, we can’t go to my place, Kevin will be there.’
‘How about we just head downtown. I could do with a milk shake I reckon.’
‘They’re not as much fun down there as they are at home though,’ Guy replied.
‘Ain’t that the truth!’
‘Still, we’ll just do the best we can. Maybe we could make a night of it, grab some take-away, and a movie or something? Stay up all night and watch the sun come up?’
‘Now we’re talking. But if we’re going to do that, how about we head home to my place, we can have a shower and get changed, then hit the town?’
‘A shower? Your place? Hmmmm . . . sounds nice’
‘Just hold your horses, lover-boy. We’ll have to see if anyone is home first!’
‘Fine by me, babe.’
Quickly, Guy did a u-turn and sped back up the hill toward my house, with a grin etched on his face like you wouldn’t believe. As luck would have it, there was no one home when we got there, so after doing a quick check of the house we stripped off and headed for the bathroom at a run.
Jesus! If anyone had’ve walked in!!!
We made it a quick one, then dried each other off, which was half of the fun I reckoned, before getting dressed, ready for a night on the town.
‘Those clothes don’t fit you all that well,’ I said to him, admiring the way one of my favourite shirts and cargo pants all hung loosely about him.
‘It’s all right mate, it’s a new look, you know?’ he replied, doing a little whirl in front of me.
‘Ah well, I’m going to rip them off you the first chance I get anyway, you know?’
‘Well, I certainly hope you are!’
I quickly scrawled a note out and left it on the kitchen table, just telling my folks that I was going out with my friends, and then we left and headed downtown. We started at the milk bar, then afterwards caught a movie (gotta love that Spiderman . . . and ain’t Tobey so damn cute?), then when that was out we went to a cosy little pizzeria, complete with red and white checkered table-cloths, where we sat and talked and ate until it we were kicked out by the owners because they wanted to go home.
‘So, what about the rest of the night?’ Guy asked me as we strolled to the car.
I glanced across at him and even in this light, I could see the grin on his face.
‘Well, just so long as I’m home before dawn . . .’ I said to him.
‘Hey, no problem,’ he replied.
When we reached the car we got in and Guy started it, and we quickly pulled out onto the road.
‘And just where are you taking me, sir?’ I enquired.
‘Out of town, to a quiet place we both know,’ he answered, which I immediately assumed to be Georges Creek.
As we drove along, heading out of town on the road that I had expected us to take, I looked across at Guy and started thinking about how grateful I was that he had come into my life, and about how much things had changed over these past months, for both of us.
It hadn’t quite been a year since that first day when Ben and I had spotted him downtown with his mother, but in that time we had met, become friends and then fallen in love. If he were to leave me today, I thought, I just didn’t know how I would cope.
‘What are you staring at?’ he asked me after glancing across at me and catching me staring at him.
I smiled and said, ‘Only you. I was just thinking how lucky I was.’
‘Yeah. Lucky that Ben and I spotted you down town that day last year. How long ago was it now?’
‘Ten months, thirteen days and . . .’
‘What?’ I exclaimed. ‘You actually know that?’
‘Well, sort of,’ he answered. ‘It’s something that I started doing just after we met, you know, just keeping track of things. I thought I would stop it after a while, but apparently not . . . it’s been a hard habit to break.’
I just laughed at him.
‘What’s so funny?’
‘Only you, babe,’ I replied. ‘Man, that’s so sweet.’
‘Well, hadn’t you noticed, I’m a fairly sweet guy.’
‘Yeah, I had actually,’ I replied, then leant across and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
Minutes later we slowed and turned off onto another road, which led down to the picnic area on Georges Creek, and when we finally pulled the car to a halt we found the place to be deserted.
‘Looks like a nice quiet night,’ I said to Guy as he cut the engine.
‘Yeah, just the way I like it,’ he said to me, as he slid his hand along my thigh.
‘Want to see if we can’t liven this party up a little?’ I asked, leaning across and whispering it into his ear, then teasing his ear lobe with my lips.
‘Ohhhhh . . . I love it when you do that.’
* * *
My head had barely hit the pillow it seemed, when I was being forcefully shaken awake.
‘What’s wrong?’ I cursed, without even knowing who it was that was doing the shaking.
‘It’s for you,’ my father rather grumpily said, thrusting the telephone into my hand. ‘It’s Ben’s mother.’
‘What time is it?’ I asked.
‘Seven o’clock,’ he replied, then stormed out of my room and, presumably, back to his.
I just stared after him for a moment or three, as my mind wrapped itself around the fact that I had only been back in bed for about an hour and a half, then remembered the telephone in my hand.
‘Hello,’ I managed to eventually say.
‘Is that you, Tim?’ the rather emotional sounding voice said.
‘Yes, Mrs Walker. Are you all right?’
‘Do you know where Ben is?’ she asked, coming straight to the point.
‘I’m sorry, but no, I don’t,’ I answered truthfully.
‘You must do. You boys know everything there is to know about the other. Surely he told you!’
‘Look, I’m sorry Mrs Walker, but I truly haven’t seen Ben since Guy and I dropped him home after school yesterday afternoon. And he never said anything at all about what he was doing this weekend.’
There was an audible sigh from the other end of the line, followed by what I though was a sniffle.
‘Are you all right Mrs W?’
‘He never came home last night, Tim. He left a note saying he was going out and would be home soon, much like he does any other time, only this time he hasn’t come home. And his bed wasn’t slept in last night either.’
I refrained from saying that any time that I’ve been in Bens’ bedroom it was never possible to tell if it was last night or last week that his bed was slept in last, it always had that unmade look about it, but thought better of it.
Instead I just said, ‘I’m sure he’s all right. If he’d have gotten into trouble or anything he would have called someone, wouldn’t he?’
‘Maybe,’ she replied.
I did have an idea about where it was that he might be, but I decided that I wasn’t going to mention it just at this stage, not until I tried to confirm things first. Instead I simply asked, ‘Have you tried anyone else yet?’
‘Like who? I thought you and Guy, and Jonathon, were his closest friends?’
‘Well, we are, but that doesn’t mean he might not have other friends.’
‘But surely you would know about them?’
‘Well, maybe. I don’t know. How about new girlfriends?’
‘You would know more about them than me . . .’ she said, then paused. I could almost hear the cogs turning from here, then she said, ‘Or old ones!’
‘What do you mean?’ I asked, while being extremely thankful that she had come up with that conclusion all by herself and that I hadn’t let slip by telling her what my thoughts were.
‘That Samantha girl. Where does she live?’
‘Errr . . . Samantha left town at the start of the year. She’s away at University somewhere.’
‘Oh. Do you know where?’
‘I’m sorry, but no, I don’t.’
Okay, so I lied, again!
‘Look, I’m really sorry Mrs W, but I don’t know where Ben is. If I did, I would tell you. And if I do hear from him, I will. I promise you that.’
‘Yes, I’m still here,’ she answered.
‘If I hear from him, I’ll call you straight away. And I’ll tell him to call you. All right?’
‘Thank you, Tim,’ she replied, then disconnected.
Despite the fact that I had only had about one hour’s sleep, I was now wide awake. Somewhere deep in my brain I remembered that I had a mobile telephone number for Samantha, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember where I had written it.
It was while I was searching for it that my father came back into the room, propping himself up against the door frame, startling me.
‘So, what’s Ben gone and done now?’ he asked.
‘He didn’t go home last night,’ I replied.
‘Jesus, is that all,’ my father said. ‘Aren’t you lucky I don’t worry about you when you stay out all night and don’t come back in until just before dawn?’
It was enough to make me stop what I was doing and look up at him.
‘Yeah. I heard you come in,’ he said. ‘Little wonder it took so much to wake you up this morning. I almost felt guilty doing it!’
Not wanting to tempt fate, I said nothing.
‘It’s all right thought, I won’t tell your mother,’ he said, in quiet conspiratorial tones. ‘I hope the girl knows how lucky she is.’
I think I managed a wry smile, but at the same time I thought I could hear some muffled giggling coming from Jason’s room, which was right next door to mine.
‘So, what are you looking for then?’
‘A telephone number. Ben’s old girlfriend, Samantha. It was something his mother said that made me think that maybe he’s been in touch with her.’
‘So, you going to give the number over when you find it?’
‘No,’ I answered. ‘I’m going to ring it, and see if she’s heard from him.’
He just nodded and said, ‘Good thinking Ninety-Nine.’ Then just turned and left me to my search.
Moments later Jason appeared at my door, wearing only his boxers, and a grin from ear to ear.
‘What’s your problem?’ I asked.
‘Well, you’ve sure got the old man fooled at least,’ he said, then he too turned and left me to my search, before I had the chance to say anything.
I went back to my search, and a few minutes later I came across the program for the musical that we had done last year. Just seeing it brought a smile to my face, as it brought back so many happy memories, so I opened it up and had a quick flick through the pages.
And there it was. On the inside of the cover page I’d written ‘Sam’ and then directly underneath her name, I had written her mobile number.
I went back over to my bed and sat down on the edge, then picked up the phone and pressed the numbers.
And it rang.
And it rang.
Then just about as I was ready to give up, it was answered.
‘Hello. And do you know what bloody time it is?’ Samantha said.
‘Well, it’s nice to hear your voice too, Sam,’ I replied.
‘Who is this?’ she asked, suddenly coming alive.
‘Sam, it’s Tim. Remember me?’
‘Shit yeah!’ she replied. ‘How are you? And how’s that beautiful boy of yours?’
‘We’re both fine, thanks. How about you?’
‘Never better, thanks. But I suppose you are looking for Ben, huh?’
‘Is he there?’
‘Yeah, he is actually. Just hang on a sec.’
There were some muffled sounds while I waited, then finally Ben came on the line, saying, ‘So, you tracked me down huh?’
‘It was just a hunch,’ I answered. ‘Your mum misses you. She woke me up about half an hour ago wanting to know if I knew where you were.’
‘Fuck,’ he said quietly. ‘You didn’t tell her did you?’
‘No mate, I didn’t. But she started asking about new girlfriends. Then old ones. Then she asked if I knew where Samantha lived.’
‘What did you tell her?’
‘Just that Sam went away to University at the start of the year. But I never said where.’
‘Okay, thanks mate.’
‘You better get your ass back here, bud. Otherwise your folks will go ballistic.’
‘They’ll do that anyway.’
‘I suppose I’d better ring them, before they send out a search party or call the police or something.’
‘Might be a good idea, mate.’
‘So, how are you going to get home? And when are you coming home? And what’s it like up there?’ I asked, which only caused him to laugh.
‘Okay, one at a time, eh? Bus. This afternoon. Fuckin’ fantastic . . . well what I’ve seen so far.’
‘Fair enough, mate. Look, I better get going. But will you ring your mother? Please? I don’t want to slip up during my next interrogation and let slip that I know where you are.’
‘All right, mate. Will do.’
‘Give Sam a hug for me.’
‘No, bugger off. She only gets my hugs,’ he answered, laughing.
We disconnected after that, and I breathed a little easier.
* * *
I can’t believe that the rest of the year flew by so quickly after we had finished our mid-year exams.
We all got better results than any of us had expected. Even Ben did. So we all had cause for celebration. In the aftermath of Ben’s little trip away, which, for starters earned him a pretty serious grounding from his folks, there was little chance of actually doing any celebrating, so we decided that we would save it for when we would all head north for Schoolies, once our real exams were through with.
In the meantime, however, we still managed to do all right, given the circumstances, and partied as best we could.
A few months later, when it was all well and truly over, and we had walked out those gates for the last time, we vowed to make up for it on the Gold Coast in the coming weeks, with Ben promising us all that it would be a time that we would never forget.
He kept his promise.
One day though, while starting to grow tired of the endless parties, Guy and I managed to slip away from our friends, and we found ourselves on a scenic drive along the coast, when we saw a sign that said the turn-off to Flynn’s Beach was four hundred metres ahead.
‘Check that one on the map will you?’ Guy asked, so I fished out the tourist map from the glove compartment and quickly found it.
‘It’s a nudist beach,’ I said to him, which soon brought a smile to his face.
‘You game?’ he asked me.
‘Shit. Are you?’
‘I’ll try anything once,’ he answered.
‘Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of.’
Without any more words being spoken, he turned down that road and we soon found ourselves parked in a car park that had about a dozen cars in it.
‘I’m not too sure about this, mate,’ I said to him as we got out of the car.
‘Come on,’ he said. ‘You only live once.’
Reluctantly I followed him away from the car, with both of us wearing only our board shorts, and with towels draped over our shoulders, and we took the path down to the beach, which meandered down the hill from the point, through some trees and scrub.
‘Well, at least it’s isolated,’ Guy said.
‘Yeah, I suppose that is something.’
When we emerged from the bushes we found ourselves on a sandy white beach, with the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean rolling in, and about twenty people, of all shapes sizes and ages enjoying themselves.
‘Like. Wow!’ I said to Guy.
‘Yeah, that’s one way of describing it.’
A couple of guys about our age, both naked, walked past us, holding hands, and smiled and nodded.
We turned and watched as they disappeared into the bushes, while following the path back up to the car park.
‘Well, what do you reckon?’ Guy asked me.
‘We’re going to have to take it all off, you know?’
‘Okay, then. How about we strip off. Go for a swim, then come back here and just sit for a while?’
‘Fine by me, mate,’ Guy said, before then dropping his shorts straight away and stepping out of them and his shoes.
‘My turn now, huh?’
He just grinned at me.
I took a deep breath and did the same.
There was no clap of thunder. Nobody started laughing. Nothing happened.
‘See? It wasn’t that bad was it?’ Guy asked.
‘Come on, let’s hit the water before something does happen.’
We found a spot for our towels and shorts and shoes, then headed down toward the water, basically staying clear of most of the other people for the time being, but still, we were on the beach and we were naked and there were other people about.
Yeah. I’d say that was a major step forward for us both.
After a while we grew tired of swimming so we headed back up onto the beach and laid ourselves out on out towels for a while, until the sun had started to sink a little too low and we became covered in shadow.
‘What do you reckon mate?’ Guy asked me as we pulled our shorts back on and started back up the hill. ‘Will we come back?’
I looked at him and grinned and said, ‘Shit yeah!’
* * *
When we got back to the unit that we were sharing with Ben and Samantha, we didn’t tell our friends about our little discovery that afternoon, although Ben did ask us where we had gotten to.
‘We just went for a drive,’ I told him, and he never asked again. I could tell by the look on his face though that he thought he knew what we had been up to. I didn’t disappoint him by telling him the truth.
The next day we did exactly the same thing, only this time I told Ben we were heading off for a drive.
‘Find a nice spot then, did you?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, something like that,’ I answered.
We spent about two hours on the beach this time, seemingly now free of the inhibitions that we had had the first time that we had come here. We were letting the constant din of alcohol fuelled parties be replaced by the gentle roar of the ocean, which we found to be quite soothing.
And as strange as it seemed, considering that we were a couple of country kids a long way from home, and who had never even dreamed of doing anything like this before, we felt comfortable here. We no longer attracted the curious stares of the locals as we wandered hand in hand along their beach. We were now just another couple of tourists who had discovered what the locals had discovered years ago.
We swam for a while. We sun baked for a while. Then we decided to go for a walk along the full length of the beach, which I found to be quite an eye opener.
When we were almost back to the point where we had started, just below the car park, Guy said to me, ‘Hey, aren’t they the two guys that we saw here yesterday?’
I looked up and noticed the two boys walking in our direction, holding my hand up to shade my eyes and study them a little better.
‘Yeah,’ I answered. ‘It’s a bit hard to mistake them isn’t it?’
‘Hmmmmm . . . especially the bigger one,’ Guy answered, with a grin on his face from ear to ear, which soon earned him a belt up the side of the head for his troubles.
The four of us kept walking towards each other, all still holding hands with our partners and each pair following the border between where the smooth wet sand, that had waves washing over it endlessly, gave way to dry sand filled with dimples and foot prints. We were set for a collision course, sooner or later, and I noticed that they were talking between themselves, while every now and then they looked directly at us.
‘I think they’re wondering if they should stop us and say hi,’ Guy whispered to me.
‘Yeah, well, aren’t we wondering the same thing?’ I replied.
He just grinned at me.
‘Do you think we should say g’day to them, then?’ I asked.
‘Sure. Why not?’ he answered. ‘They’re heading in our direction after all.’
As they got closer to us, Guy and I stopped and looked out toward the sea, where a large oil tanker was anchored some way off shore, but every now and then we glanced up to see if the two boys were still coming. We gave them every chance to check us out and maybe stop if they wanted to.
A minute or two later we found out that was apparently just what they wanted to do.
‘Hi,’ one of them said as they stopped next to us. It was the shorter one of the two. Fairly cute, I thought, but nothing like the other guy.
‘G’day,’ I answered. ‘Nice day for a walk.’
‘Yeah. It sure is,’ the taller guy said. ‘Certainly feels a bit different doing it like this though!’
‘Yeah. We know what you mean,’ Guy answered. ‘But it is fun though.’
‘Yeah, it is. So, are you guys here for schoolies too?’ the shorter guy asked.
I nodded. ‘Yeah, but we had to get away from our mates for a bit. Things back at our unit are a bit too full on for us!’
They both laughed, then the taller guy said, ‘That sounds pretty familiar. Booze, bands and busty babes . . . that’s all our mates seem to be after.’
I laughed. ‘Sounds like you guys must be staying at the same place as us then.’
‘Nah, I don’t think so,’ the taller one said. ‘I think we’d have probably noticed you.’
We all just grinned at each other.
‘I’m Tim, by the way,’ I said, stretching out my hand toward them.
It was quickly taken by the shorter guy, who introduced himself as Luke, followed by his friend, whose name was Matt.
Guy introduced himself and shook their hands as well.
We stood there chatting for a little while, and found out that they were indeed a lot like us. A couple of guys who were from a small country town and who were deeply in love with each other.
It felt so good to see someone else like us. I think it gave us the confirmation that we longed for, letting us know that we weren’t alone in this world and that it was all right to be who we were.
We also found out that they were staying at one of the motels just down the road from ours.
In the end we all knew that we had to get back to our friends, but for some reason I didn’t want to let go of this pair. Somehow I wanted to keep in touch with them, but wasn’t sure how to bring it up. In the end it was Luke who saved the day.
‘Ummm . . . we’re having a bit of a barbeque with our friends at our motel tonight. Would you guys would like to come along?’
I looked at Guy, but couldn’t quiet read what it was he was thinking, so in the end I just said, ‘We’d love to, thanks. But we’ll just have to see what our friends have got planned for tonight first, though. We’ll see how we go. Is that all right?’
‘Yeah, of course. We hope you can make it, though.’
‘Yeah, thanks. So do we,’ I replied.
We said our goodbyes and we watched as they wandered back toward the path up to the car park on top of the point, still holding hands.
‘What do you think?’ I asked Guy.
‘Nice guys,’ he answered.
‘I meant about tonight, dick head!’
‘Sounds good to me. I’m game if you are.’
‘Yeah. I think it’ll be good for us. I’m not sure exactly why, but I like these dudes, and I hope we can get to know them better.’
‘Yeah. Me too.’
We started back up the hill ourselves then, heading toward the car park, and noticed Matt and Luke just leaving the car park as we got to the top of the hill.
‘Wow. Nice car!’ Guy said as we watched them drive past in a black Commodore sedan.
We all waved to each other and they disappeared into the bush as they followed the track back up to the main road. I was already starting to look forward to the evening ahead.
Who could say where this chance meeting may lead us!