I never said much to anyone when Ben and I came back inside after our little chat, although we both received more than just the occasional inquisitive stare from the others, as if they were expecting us to open up and reveal all.
I couldn’t do that though. And I wouldn’t.
Ben had remained fairly quiet, which only served to fuel the intrigue which now filled the air. I guess that there was still a lot going on inside his head. After dinner he then went straight off to his bedroom and shut the door, which left me and Guy, plus Matt and Luke all sitting in the living room watching television.
All three of them kept looking my way, hoping that I would fill them in on what Ben and I had been discussing. I wouldn’t say that there was tension in the air, but all the same, there was something that was hanging there between us, and we all knew what it was.
In the end it got too much for me as well, so I got to my feet and said goodnight to them, then headed for the room I shared with Guy.
‘Are you okay, mate?’ Guy asked me when he came into the room a few minutes later, shutting the door behind him and leaning against it, his arms folded across his chest and staring down at me. ‘The boys out there are wondering what’s going on. I told them that they’ll find out all in good time, assuming of course that Ben decides to spill the beans. But you know what Matt can be like sometimes, not that he’s a prick or anything, it’s just that, well, he and Ben do have some issues…’
I knew exactly what he was talking about with regards to Ben and Matt having issues, but as for what Luke and Matt may have been thinking right now, I had no idea, and quite frankly, I didn’t care. All I cared about was helping Ben through his confusion in whatever way I could.
‘Yeah, I’m all right. Our boy is a bit confused, is all,’ I answered. ‘And the other boys will just have to wait until someone is good and ready to fill them in!’
‘Will Ben be okay, do you think?’
‘Yeah, I reckon so. There’s just a few things he needs to work out in his own head… you know, like what you and I were talking about the other day.’
He nodded solemnly then unfolded his arms and crossed the floor, before sitting down on the bed beside me, placing his hand over my knee.
‘And what about Sam? She isn’t going to be hurt by all this, is she?’
‘Not if I have anything to say about it,’ I replied.
‘Tim, I know you love Ben like a brother, and we all know that he’s been on the scene for a hell of a lot longer than I have, and far longer than Matt and Luke, for that matter. Despite the fact that some of us occasionally get on each other’s nerves, however, we’re all good friends. It’s almost like… like we’ve become a family, I suppose, and I’d just hate to see any of my friends get hurt over this, that’s all.’
‘I know where you’re coming from, bud. We’ll just have to have a little faith in all of them. I’m sure things will work out.’
‘Well, I hope so.’
‘For the time being, though, how about we have a little faith in each other? I could do with a hug right about now… for starters!’
‘Now, that sounds like a plan,’ he replied, while getting to his feet and heading for the light switch.
I watched him as he crossed the floor, then after he flicked the switch and plunged our room into darkness, except for the pale moonlight that was coming in from outside, now that the clouds were starting to clear, he started back toward me. I saw him pull off his t-shirt as he came, the firmness of his body showing clearly in the moonlight, and instantly I felt myself stirring.
Quickly, I pulled off my own t-shirt and threw it on the floor, before Guy sat down beside me and took my hands in his, then leant across and kissed me.
Eagerly I returned the kiss, our mouths opening and our tongues exploring each other as if for the first time, while I soon found myself being lowered backwards, with Guy’s expert fingers gently tweaking at my already erect nipples and sending me into sensory overload.
As always, Guy was gentle and thoughtful and loving. And as always, I reciprocated. I was totally lost in my love of this boy and now, even after these few short months since we had started living together, I couldn’t possibly imagine life without him.
As I lay in the warm afterglow of sex sometime later, I couldn’t help but wonder whether this was how Ben still felt about Samantha.
* * *
Morning came, as it always does, bringing with it more gloomy weather, as the brief respite we received last night, which saw the skies clear for at least a little while, soon passed.
Things were relatively quiet in the kitchen when Guy and I made it out there, with the other four already up and seated at the table, having breakfast.
‘Hi, guys,’ Samantha cheerfully said as we entered, obviously not too worn out by having to do a night shift. ‘Enjoy your sleep in?’
I looked at my watch and saw that it was well after eight o’clock.
‘Yeah. We should do it more often, I reckon,’ I replied.
‘Nah, I reckon you’re already lazy enough,’ Ben remarked, with a broad smile stretched across his face, which earned a swift back-hander from Sam.
We all laughed, so it was good to see that there wasn’t too much tension in the air this morning, although I did see Matt and Luke glance at each other, as if they were wondering just what was going on.
‘So, Matt,’ Ben asked, ‘I didn’t ask you last night where you pair got to yesterday afternoon? Did you guys have fun?’
‘Well, it wasn’t fun, so much. But we certainly had an interesting time.’
‘And lucky that they happened along when they did, too,’ I offered, as I pulled out a chair and sat down at the table.
‘Yeah?’ Samantha asked. ‘Why? What happened? What did I miss?’
‘It seems our heroes here saved the day yesterday,’ Guy remarked. ‘They happened along just in time.’
‘Really?’ Samantha replied. ‘Oh, please do tell!’
So, as Guy poured some coffee out for him and me, Matt and Luke told Ben and Sam all about their little expedition along the beach, their finding Aaron and taking him back to the caravan park.
‘Wow!’ exclaimed Sam when they had finished. ‘Did anything happen with the kid? Is he all right?’
‘Yeah, he’s fine,’ Luke answered.
‘And that was what Scott was doing here then? Dropping you off?’ Ben ventured.
‘Yeah. Justin was hanging with some mates, so Scott gave us a lift home,’ said Luke.
Guy looked up at me and I could see in his eyes that he had put a few things together, which I had left out of the quiet discussion we’d had at some time through the night. It all made sense now, to him at least, why Ben was a bit panicky when he saw Scott last night.
‘So, what about this Thompson dude?’ Sam asked. ‘Can anything be done about him? I mean, he can’t be let go around roughing kids up like that. Someone should do something!’
‘Like what?’ Ben asked.
‘I don’t know,’ Sam replied, with a shrug of her shoulders. ‘Just… something!’
We all looked around the table at each other, but no one seemed to have any answers.
‘I don’t know,’ Guy eventually said. ‘A guy like him, give him enough rope and he’ll eventually hang himself, I reckon!’
‘We can only hope!’ Matt replied, saying what it was that I believe we were probably all thinking.
* * *
Not long after we had all finished breakfast, the remainder of which was a fairly quiet affair, as Matt, Luke, Ben, and Sam all seemed to be off in worlds of their own, our peaceful scene was interrupted by the ringing of the telephone.
As she was nearest, Samantha got up and answered it, with a cheerful, ‘Hello.’
We all looked up at her in anticipation.
‘Oh, hey, Justin,’ she said. All eyes immediately turned toward Ben, who could only manage a scowl.
‘Yeah, they’re both here actually. Which one do you want to talk to?’
We weren’t sure what was said, but she soon passed the phone to Ben, as he was closest to her, we assumed.
‘Hey, Justin. What’s happening?’ Ben said into the telephone.
We all waited.
‘Yeah… . . sure, hang on, I’ll ask him… . .’
Covering the mouthpiece of the telephone, Ben turned toward Matt and said, ‘He wants to know if we’d like to meet up with the old guy who owns the boat? He’s going out today just for a short trip, if we want to tag along?’
‘Shit, yeah!’ Matt exclaimed. ‘Are you up for it?’
With a grin Ben said, ‘Yeah, I’ll give anything a go,’ then turned back to the telephone and gave Justin the affirmative answer.
When he disconnected he sat back down at the table, looking very pleased with himself.
‘Well?’ asked Matt. ‘What’s the deal?’
‘They’re only heading out on a bit of a shakedown cruise this afternoon, after just getting something or other fixed on the boat,’ Ben answered. ‘If we want to go along for the ride and can meet the old guy who owns it, it’s OK. No promise of a job or anything yet, but it’s a start!’
‘Excellent!’ said Matt, who was grinning from ear to ear.
‘Don’t go getting too excited just yet,’ Ben warned. ‘Like I said, it’s not a definite job or anything.’
‘Maybe not, but it’s a chance to go out on a boat, and that’s enough to get me excited.’
‘Yeah, and we all know it doesn’t take much to get you excited, don’t we?’ Guy remarked, to which everyone laughed.
‘Ha! Ha!’ Matt snarled, while Luke placed a loving arm around his shoulders and gave him a hug.
After we had finished breakfast and washed the dishes, we all went our separate ways for a while. Ben and Samantha retreated into their room and shut the door, and Matt and Luke were still sitting at the kitchen table when Guy and I headed out the door, telling them that we were going for a drive into town.
We walked out to Guy’s car and got in, with him soon starting it up and backing out of the yard, before we then headed out the gate and turned into the lane.
‘So… how do you think the boys will go working together?’ he asked me as we cruised along.
‘Yeah, it could be interesting,’ I replied with a chuckle.
‘He’s the wildcard, I reckon. Anything could happen!’
‘Yeah, that’s what I thought too.’
We were lucky that it wasn’t far into town, and it was only a few minutes later that we pulled up just around the corner from the small corner store, down near the boardwalk, which sold groceries and other items for locals and tourists alike.
Guy parked the car on the street opposite the shop and so we got out and locked it, then started to cross the road and head toward the entrance to the store. It was still overcast and gloomy, which seemed to just about match how we were all feeling this morning, though when I looked across at the lake I could see people out on the water on their windsurfers and boats, all looking like they were enjoying themselves, despite the bleak outlook.
Thanks to that little distraction I wasn’t looking where I was going as we turned to walk in through the entrance and got quite a shock when we almost collided with someone coming out at the same time.
I looked up, only to find ourselves confronted with two people, who apparently knew who we were, but who I couldn’t quite place at first.
‘Well, well, well,’ one of them said. ‘If it ain’t a couple of them fags from out the road? What’s wrong, boys? Run out of Vaseline?’
Suddenly I was quite angry. Why the fuck would two strangers be talking to us like that? Then it hit me. That red hair! They were the guys from the pub the other night.
Guy glanced at me and just shook his head, then went to step around them. I went to follow him, but the bigger of the two of them stepped in front of us, standing there and blocking our way, sniggering at us.
‘What’s the matter, girls? Your boyfriends not here to help out today?’ red-hair said.
I glared up at him, with my hand involuntarily clenching into a fist on the end of my arm.
‘Look, we’ve got no beef with you,’ Guy said calmly.
‘Yeah, but we might have one with you lot! You bunch of pansies!’
‘Fucking grow up, why don’t you?’ Guy said, before then pushing his way through between the two of them and into the store, with me following close behind in his wake, our arrival being signalled by a small bell over the door.
Glancing back over my shoulder I saw the two goons standing there, staring after us for a time, before turning away and eventually disappearing from view.
‘Don’t worry about them, mate,’ said Guy, when he noticed me staring out the doorway. ‘They aren’t stupid enough to try anything in daylight.’
‘Are you sure about that?’ I managed to say, while giving him a tired smile.
‘Yeah. I’m sure.’
I walked over to the counter where the newspapers were stacked and picked up today’s edition of both the local and city papers, while Guy retrieved some milk from the refrigerator. For good measure I also walked into one of the aisles and picked up a couple of chocolate bars, the ones I knew that Guy liked, before then noticing Guy standing at one of the display stands with a broad grin across his face.
‘What’s your problem?’ I asked him, from where I was standing, which was in a different aisle and on the opposite side of the stand to him.
Without saying a word he held up a small jar of Vaseline and just smiled.
‘I don’t think we need any of that,’ I said to him, in a matter of fact kind of tone.
‘Why is that then?’
‘I have a brand new tube of KY at home!’ I whispered.
Without a word he simply placed the jar back on the shelf and came around into my aisle, a sheepish grin adorning his face.
When we returned to the main counter a rather plumpish lady with grey hair and glasses, who looked to be in about her fifties, came over and started to ring things up on the old fashioned cash register for us.
‘I haven’t seen you boys around before?’ she said. ‘You just visiting?’
‘No,’ I answered. ‘We moved here a little while back. We’re sharing a house with some friends and going to uni in Macquarie Harbour.’
‘Ahhhh…’ she replied. ‘You’re a couple of the guys living in the old house out on the edge of town then?’
‘Yeah?’ Guy answered. ‘How did you know that?’
‘Ummm… just a wild guess. I just heard there were some uni students in there,’ the woman answered, with her cheeks starting to look slightly flushed.
‘Yeah, well, we kind of like it here so far,’ I said, after glancing up at Guy and seeing him studying the woman closely. ‘But it’s early days yet.’
‘Well, it’s a really nice town, this one,’ she replied, while placing our purchases in a plastic bag and then holding it out to me. ‘But it does have its dark side! If you’ll accept one piece of advice from someone who’s been around here for a while… just be careful, boys.’
‘What do you mean?’ Guy asked her, but just then someone else came into the store, the little bell over the door signalling their arrival, and she hurried off to serve them, leaving Guy and me standing there staring at each other with blank expressions on our faces.
We took our purchases and headed back out through the door and into the gloomy day, around the corner and crossed the road to the car, which was parked with its nose facing away from the store.
‘What do you think she meant by that?’ I asked Guy as we walked along the footpath.
‘I don’t know,’ he replied. ‘Seemed a little odd though, didn’t you think?’
‘You can say that again!’
We stopped at the car, where Guy unlocked the door for me before walking around the front of it to get to the driver’s side door. As he stepped off the footpath however I heard the familiar sound of glass being crunched underfoot, which caused him to stop in his tracks and look down at the roadway in front of the ca. I started to walk around the front of the vehicle to take a look as well.
I didn’t need to look though. I already had a pretty fair idea of where the glass was from, and when I glanced at Guy’s face I knew I was correct.
‘Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Those fucking assholes!’ Guy was saying when I reached him.
I looked down and saw the shattered glass everywhere, the remnants of both headlights from Guy’s car. Amongst the shards of glass there were also a number of pieces of broken plastic, from the grill in front of the radiator, plus a brick.
‘Do you reckon it was them?’ I asked.
The look I received told me just how stupid that sounded.