‘Hey, Matt! Pass me the salt will you?’ I heard Samantha ask, but for some reason it just didn’t register. I think that I was too busy thinking about something else.
Or I should say, someone else.
The next thing I heard was, ‘Here you go, Sam.’
‘Thanks, Luke,’ she answered. ‘I think Matt’s off on another planet somewhere!’
‘Oh, he’ll come back down to earth soon enough,’ Luke joked.
I turned around and faced him when I heard that. He was grinning. The bastard.
Leaning over close to him I whispered into his ear and said, ‘Jerk!’
‘See!’ he said to Samantha. ‘I knew we’d get a reaction eventually!’
She just laughed, then turned her attention back to her meal, sprinkling it liberally with salt.
We had decided to head down to the board walk for lunch and had run into our new friends, Scott and Justin, so they invited us to join them.
Which now brings me to the ‘someone else’ that I had been thinking about!
I know that he and I probably haven’t hit it off all that well since we arrived here and moved into the house we were all sharing, but even I have to admit that he’s been acting a little strange lately.
And now he’s doing it again… I think!
I mean, he has this girlfriend, Samantha, who I reckon is an absolute knockout girl. But right now he seems to be paying more attention to the new kid, Justin. I don’t know if anyone else has picked up on it yet, but I’m sure they will, sooner or later. And when that happens… well, I reckon that anything could happen.
I don’t know! Maybe it’s just me being paranoid or something? I hope I’m wrong.
‘So, you noticed it too huh?’ Luke whispered into my ear.
‘Shit! Was it that obvious?’
‘Actually, I think Sam’s about the only one who hasn’t picked up on it yet.’
‘That prick is going to end up hurting her!’
‘Maybe we’ll just have to make sure he doesn’t then,’ Luke answered.
I simply threw him a look of exasperation.
‘It’ll be all right,’ he said softly.
We were sitting at the end of the table, with Tim and Guy opposite us. Ben and Samantha were sitting next to them, and Scott and Justin were opposite them, which meant that they were next to us. As I was right on the end I had a pretty good view of almost everyone, and particularly of Ben.
I just wish I knew what game it was he was playing.
‘So, what is it exactly that all you kids are doing here in Thompsonville then?’ Scott asked, after we had all finished our meals.
To tell you the truth, I was glad that somebody had finally tried starting a conversation, to at least get my mind on something else!
‘Well,’ Guy offered, ‘most of us are actually here to go to University.’
‘Uh huh,’ answered Tim. ‘We all sort of discovered T’ville a few months back when we called in around schoolies time, and seeing as we liked it, and it was close to the uni, we just thought what the hell!’
‘Well, you won’t be disappointed,’ Scott replied. ‘It really is a nice place, and being so close to Macquarie Harbour, it’s quite handy.’
‘Yeah, it is,’ answered Guy.
‘What are you all studying then?’ Justin asked.
‘Well, we’re not all actually at Uni,’ Samantha said in a casual kind of way. ‘A couple of these boys are just here for the sex!’
‘Excuse me?’ I spluttered. ‘That’s not all that we’re here for you know!’
Ben’s response was to giggle. Justin just looked at the pair of us, from one to the other and back again, with his eyebrows raised and a smile stretched from ear to ear.
‘So it’s the rest of you who are at uni then?’ he asked.
‘Yeah,’ said Sam. ‘You’re looking at the next generation of great Australian actors and computer engineers.’
‘Sounds impressive,’ Scott answered. ‘Maybe I should get the autographs now from the up and coming stars?’
‘Wouldn’t be worth much,’ sniggered Ben, which earned him a sharp elbow in the ribs from Samantha.
‘Serves you right!’ I said to him, which only earned me a reproachful glare.
‘Man, it sure must be entertaining in your house,’ Justin declared.
‘Mate, you don’t know the half of it,’ I replied.
‘So, if you and Ben aren’t at uni then, what are you doing with yourselves?’ Scott asked me.
I shrugged. ‘I came here so I could still be with Luke,’ I said, while reaching out and placing a hand on my lover’s knee. ‘And now that I’m here, well, I guess it’s time to start looking for a job. There hasn’t been much on offer so far, but we’ll see what happens.’
Scott nodded, then turned toward Ben, raising his eyebrows just enough to ask the question.
‘Same deal,’ Ben said to him. ‘I basically just followed Sam up here.’
Scott thought for a moment and then said, ‘Well, I suppose we’d best keep our ears low to the ground and see if we can’t find you boys something to do then? Have you got any work experience at all?’
‘Yeah,’ I answered. ‘I’ve worked part time in an auto parts shop for the past four or five years. I wouldn’t mind doing that again if there was something going around here. I don’t like my chances though.’
‘Ah, well. You never know your luck,’ he replied. ‘I’ll ask around for you.’
‘Thanks. That’d be great,’ I said to him. ‘It’d be good to do something other than housework!’
‘You! Do housework?’ Tim scoffed. ‘When?’
‘Very fucking funny!’ I replied, to which everyone just laughed.
We talked for a little while longer and about nothing much in general, before Scott finally said that he and Justin should be getting back. I looked down at my watch and noticed that it was almost three o’clock.
We all got to our feet and wandered back out onto the boardwalk where we said our goodbyes. It was then, just as they were about to leave that Justin turned to Ben and me and said, ‘Hey, have you guys ever been out on a fishing boat before?’
‘What do you mean? Like a trawler or something?’ I asked.
‘Yeah. I work for an old guy who has a boat and sometimes he needs a deck-hand or two. If you’re interested at all I’ll let him know.’
Ben and I just looked at each other.
‘Hell yeah. I’ll try anything once,’ I eventually answered.
‘Yeah, me too,’ added Ben.
‘All right then. I’ll let you know if anything comes up,’ Justin replied.
‘Thanks,’ Ben and I both answered.
‘Don’t mention it.’
They waved us goodbye and we watched as they headed off toward the car park.
‘Well, that’s a bit of a turn up for the books,’ Ben said. ‘It could be just what we’ve been waiting for.’
‘Yeah. It could be good,’ I replied. ‘So, have you ever been on a fishing boat?’
‘Where I come from? Fuck no!’ he answered. ‘Unless of course you count Uncle Ted’s aluminium row boat that we used to take out onto McKinley Dam.’
‘That’s what I thought.’
‘How about you then?’ Samantha asked.
‘Oh, it was a little rubber blow-up thing that belonged to one of my cousins!’ I answered with a grin. ‘And we hit some rocks near a bank, tore a hole in the side of it and promptly sunk it.’
‘Oh, that’s just great, that is! You’re jinxed, and now you expect me to go out to sea with you!’
‘Well, we’ve all got to die of something,’ Tim added.
‘Yeah, but I hadn’t counted on it being quite so soon,’ Ben replied. ‘My ambition in life is to be shot by a jealous husband when I’m ninety!’
We all laughed at him.
A few minutes later we made it to where our cars were parked and Guy unlocked his so that we could get in. Samantha and Ben had come in her car and so they climbed back into it, while Tim and Guy started to get into theirs.
‘Hey mate, do you feel like a walk?’ I asked Luke before he’d had the chance to get in.
The smile that he gave in reply was answer enough.
‘Listen, we might take the long way home instead,’ I said to Guy. ‘The walk will do us the world of good… we can work off that feed.’
‘You guys sure?’ Tim asked us.
‘Yeah, thanks. We’ll be all right. We might head along the beach and go home that way. It’s not that much longer than if we followed the roads.’
‘Well, suit yourselves then, we’ll see you later,’ Guy answered. ‘And just watch yourselves, all right? We all know that there’s some nasties about here.’
‘Thanks,’ we both answered, then waved them goodbye as Guy started the car and they pulled out and headed for home.
* * *
‘So, what’s with this sudden desire to start walking?’ Luke asked me once the others had left us. ‘You starting a fitness kick or something?’
‘Do I really need a reason?’ I replied. ‘All I wanted was to spend some time alone with you. It does get a bit crowded around here sometimes, you know?’
‘Yeah mate. I know exactly what you mean.’
‘And besides, I thought we might do a little exploring. There’s still a lot of places around here that we haven’t been to yet.’
‘Yeah, I like that idea,’ he replied.
‘I thought you might! How about we follow the beach back around toward our little beach and head home that way?’ I asked.
‘Good idea,’ he answered and so we set off down the hill, heading toward where the creek flowed into the ocean, and then following the beach itself, north toward the point where the lighthouse stood, beyond which was the hidden beach close to our home.
It was a hot afternoon and there were more people about than we normally saw, either out on the lake, or swimming in the river, or down on the beach. Of these, there weren’t too many people that I recognised, so I figured most of them would have been out-of-towners, possibly tourists, or people from Macquarie Harbour, out for a day in the sun on a beach nowhere near as crowded as their own.
I wasn’t interested in them though. Having Luke with me like this, and with none of the others around, I wanted so badly to just reach out and take his hand in mine, but out in the open like this… well, we both knew that we couldn’t do that. Instead, all I could do was let my arm brush up against his, or place a hand on one of his shoulders for a brief moment while I pointed out this or that.
Each time I did this I would receive a smile that would cause my heart to skip a beat. He knew what I was thinking, just like I knew what he was thinking, and the smiles that would pass between us were all that were needed to communicate.
A few hundred yards along the beach from the river, we passed a group of boys playing beach volleyball and stopped briefly to watch them. There were six of them, with the oldest being no more than about sixteen, all topless and dressed only in long board shorts of varying colours and degrees of brightness, their bodies taut and with enviable tans. As we stood there watching them, listening to their raucous laughter and crude admonishment of each other whenever one would miss the ball, or let a point be scored against them, I was reminded of how quickly things can change. It was only about three years ago that Luke and I were just like these boys are now, young and carefree and full of life, with no responsibilities or ties.
And look at us now. Less than six months out of school and we’re almost like an old married couple, and even though I wouldn’t want it any other way, there were times, I have to admit, that I would find myself wondering what if things hadn’t happened the way they did.
As we stood there watching, a stray volleyball came our way and landed at Luke’s feet. He bent down and picked it up, holding it slightly in front of him and looking at it, turning it over in his hands slowly, as one of the boys came running over toward us.
‘Hey dude. Can I have our ball back?’ the kid asked.
He was about fifteen and had black hair, with brilliant green eyes. Quite cute really!
Luke punched the ball back to him and he caught it.
‘Thanks,’ he said, then turned and went back to his mates, glancing back over his shoulder at us just once and flashing us a smile.
‘Cute kid,’ Luke whispered.
‘Hey! Eyes off, dude! He’s a bit young for you don’t you think?’
‘Relax Matt. Don’t you know I only have eyes for you?’
‘Yeah, I know it,’ I answered. ‘Come on, we better keep moving.’
As we strolled a little further along the beach, sending lazy seagulls scurrying out of our way, we noticed the wind was starting to pick up, causing the water to get choppy, while at the same time covering us with a fine sea spray which was both cooling and refreshing.
‘Geez, that feels nice,’ I said, while taking off my T-shirt and hooking it into the waistband of my shorts, letting the sea mist cool me all over.
‘Looks pretty nice too,’ Luke replied, as he too pulled off his T-shirt.
‘Don’t go getting too excited just yet,’ I said to him. ‘We’ll have to save that for later.’
‘I certainly hope it won’t be too much later!’
I just grinned back at him.
‘Hey, look out there,’ Luke said, while pointing out to sea. ‘That looks like a fishing boat. I wonder if that’s the one that Justin was talking about?’
‘Who knows, mate. It could be, I suppose.’
‘You know, I’ll be worried, every time you go out there,’ Luke said to me.
‘Not half as worried as I’ll be,’ I replied. ‘But I suppose I’ll get used to it… assuming of course that the job does actually come off.’
‘Yeah, well I suppose I can always hope that it doesn’t,’ he joked.
‘We’ll just have to see what happens then, won’t we?’
‘Yeah, we will.’
The beach we were on was one that seemed to stretch on forever, hugging the bay and stretching in an arc from the river to the headland, which looked to be about a mile up ahead, but in reality was probably only about half that distance.
We stopped and I looked back in the direction from where we had come, and it looked like we were about half way along the beach.
‘Man, this can be really deceptive. Who’d have thought it was this far around to our beach?’
‘Yeah, I know what you mean,’ Luke answered. ‘I don’t know about you, but I could do with a piss!’
‘Oh, that’s bloody charming, that is,’ I replied.
‘Well! When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go,’ he answered. ‘And there’s too many people about just to drop it out here!’
‘Yeah, you’re right,’ I said. ‘I suppose you could always duck off into the dunes, or that scrub over there.’
‘Nah, I can see houses through there!’
‘Well, we’d better keep going then,’ I said.
We started walking again, strolling along at a reasonable pace, while keeping an eye out for some place where Luke could duck off to.
After we had gone about another hundred yards or so I noticed some people walking down a path through the dunes and pointed them out to Luke.
‘Could be a car park up there?’ I said to him. ‘Want to take a look? There might be some toilets there.’
‘Good idea,’ he replied, while setting straight off in that direction and making me hurry to catch up.
‘Man, you are in a hurry!’ I laughed.
‘You have no idea,’ he answered, calling back over his shoulder to me.
We followed the path through the dunes and up onto an area that had been levelled out as a car park, where we found about a dozen cars parked haphazardly around, plus a couple of bicycles leaning against a fence, obviously padlocked.
The car park itself was only dirt, and was surrounded on all sides by bushes and scrub, while a track led up the side of the headland toward the lighthouse. Standing on the far side of the car park, much to Luke’s relief, was a toilet block.
‘Looks like you’re in luck, mate!’
‘Thank Christ for that!’ he said, while setting off for it with long strides. I followed him, having trouble keeping up, and chuckled to myself at the sight of him.
‘You better start running dude!’ I called out.
He simply gave me the finger, just before he disappeared into the building.
It was only a matter of about a minute by the time I had joined him inside, and I found him still standing at the urinal, looking quite a bit more relaxed than he had been moments ago.
‘You make it?’ I laughed.
‘Just,’ he answered. ‘And what kept you?’
I looked around and saw that the place was empty, so I walked over and stood beside him, looking down at what he was holding in his hands.
‘Looks like part of you is happy to see me then?’ I whispered.
‘Mate, all of me is happy to see you,’ he replied.
Without hesitating, I reached across and took hold of him, stroking him gently as he turned to face me and started fumbling with the waistband of my shorts.
‘Not out here, like this,’ I said quietly. ‘How about we book ourselves a room?’
With my hand still wrapped around his cock, I led him from the urinals and into the cubicle farthest from the doorway and locked it behind us.
‘Ahhh… so that’s what you had in mind?’ he whispered.
‘Uh huh,’ I replied, as I sat down on the lid of the toilet seat, with Luke standing directly in front of me and with everything I wanted at eye level.
‘We haven’t ever done this before, have we?’ he whispered.
‘Not unless you count that time in the showers at Scott’s caravan park,’ I replied.
‘Nah, that doesn’t count. It was a shower!’ he replied, then quickly sucked in his breath as my mouth wrapped itself around his tool.
* * *
When we were finally done, all of which managed to happen without anyone else having come into the toilets at all, we emerged from the building and set off back down the path through the scrub.
‘Well, I reckon that that little detour was well worth it,’ I said to Luke.
‘Definitely!’ he replied.
We had hardly have gone twenty yards when we had to step off the path to let a guy pass us, hurrying back up the path as if he too needed to make it to the toilets in a hurry.
Luke and I just grinned at each other, as we reckoned we knew what he was in a hurry for, but said nothing and kept walking. A few moments later however we heard a car roar to life and the sound of gravel being churned up as a vehicle sped from the car park.
‘Must have been in a hurry for something else then?’ Luke offered.
‘Certainly sounds like it.’
We continued on our way down toward the beach, passing through some thick scrub, but we were both quickly stopped when we heard a sound coming from somewhere off in the bushes.
‘What was that?’ Luke asked, looking concerned.
‘Don’t know. Probably just a bird or something!’ I answered.
‘No. I don’t think it was!’
We both stood there looking at each other for a moment, then we heard it again.
‘That’s no bird!’ Luke said. ‘That sounds like someone crying.’
I nodded. ‘Yeah. I think you’re right.’
Luke pushed aside one of the bushes and started into the scrub, with me following close behind him.
We could both still hear the sound and we were getting closer. Eventually we pushed our way into a well-worn, though well-hidden clearing, which we found to be littered with empty beer bottles, used condoms and various other pieces of rubbish - the remnants of many a sordid little soiree by the looks of it.
And that was where we found him. He was leaning back against a tree with his knees drawn up against his chest and his arms wrapped tightly around his legs.
He was crying. Some of his clothes were scattered on the ground. And he couldn’t have been any more than thirteen or fourteen years old.