After everyone had left for the day, leaving just Tim and me and my rather forlorn looking car with half its front smashed in all to ourselves, an eerie quiet descended over our old home, which was broken only by the occasional creak and groan coming from the building, or the distant and inviting rumblings of surf coming from our beach.
When they had left us, the gang had all seemed excited about what they were about to do, with Ben and Matt heading off on their first voyage on the fishing boat that Justin sometimes worked on, but I’m afraid that with other things on my mind I found it a little difficult to share in that excitement. I’m sure that they understood my lack of enthusiasm, however, given the events of earlier in the morning.
Who I was really feeling for now though was Tim, because I know he would have liked to gone down to the wharf to see off Ben, who has been his best friend since they were in primary school together. I would have certainly understood if he’d have wanted to go down there with them all, but in the end he stayed with me, which did surprise me a little, but it was something for which I was extremely grateful.
After the others left us, Tim and I set to work on my car once more, and by lunch time we had finished pulling everything off it that had been damaged by the assholes we had run into downtown that morning. The list of damaged items came to two headlights, two headlight protectors, a bonnet protector, and a plastic radiator grill.
All up I figured they would probably cost about five or six hundred dollars to replace, with the new headlights and the grill being the most expensive of those items.
For a brief moment I wondered if I might not be able to get the headlight protectors replaced for free… after all they did a piss-poor job of protecting anything… but I quickly realised that it would be a waste of breath even asking.
Whichever way I looked at it, today was really going to cost me.
While I cleaned up the pile of rubbish that was the result of our efforts Tim left me and went inside to fix us both some lunch and when he returned a little while later I was sitting on the lawn with my back propped up against the garage wall.
I think I was just staring at the two black holes where the headlights of my car used to be, and still cursing, though not quite as loud as I had been earlier in the day.
‘Just don’t let it get to you, mate,’ I heard Tim say and looked up to see him standing there, holding out a plate of sandwiches and a can of Coca Cola toward me.
‘Thanks mate,’ I said to him as I took the offered can, ‘but that’s easier said than done you know!’
‘Yeah, I know it is,’ he remarked as he slumped down onto the ground beside me and leaned back against the wall of the shed, setting the plate on the ground between us. ‘But in the end it is just a car… and it can be fixed. Better it than one of us!’
He was right of course. I guess I was just finding it hard to accept that.
We sat there in silence for a while, just chewing on our sandwiches and drinking our Cokes, with the car parked there in front of us. I eventually figured that this sitting around here like this wasn’t doing me much good though, so in the end I got to my feet and held my hand out for Tim and asked, ‘Feel like a walk?’
‘Good idea,’ he answered. ‘It might help us take our minds off things.’
He reached up and took my hand, allowing me to pull him to his feet, then leaving our plates and empty cans where they were we headed out the back gate, drawn toward the distant sound of rolling surf.
It was a beautiful day, although I had noticed that the wind was starting to pick up and there were a few clouds about, so I figured that we might be in for a storm later on. That didn’t worry me now, however, as all I was really interested in was getting away from the house for a while so that I could clear my head a little and think about anything but the events of this morning.
We walked in silence, still hand in hand, making our way along the path that led down to the quiet little bay that had become our own, both lost in our own thoughts. Around us we could smell the aroma of the bush, mingled with the fresh sea air which tantalized our senses. And we could see and hear the local wildlife, as birds flitted from branch to branch and small lizards and other animals scurried about amongst the debris and litter on the ground.
A couple of times we stopped, as Tim pointed out a colourful bird or a swift lizard, or some other small animal to me, and one time we both jumped in surprise as a snake wriggled off into the scrub from almost under our feet.
It wasn’t quite like the bush back home but it was close enough to have me feeling slightly homesick and so by the time we had reached the beach I had decided it was about time that I called home. After all, it had been a couple of weeks since I had said hello to mum and her new boyfriend. The only thing I didn’t want to do was let Tim know, that was all.
When we reached the bay and stepped out from amongst the scrub, which finished just above the water line, we found that we weren’t the first people to arrive at our little spot today, as we noticed a rather large yacht out in the middle of the sheltered bay, with its sails down and its anchor dropped.
Instinctively we both let go of each other’s hands, which we both knew was more from the viewpoint of self-preservation than from any feelings of shame or any other emotion, and started scanning the boat and the bay for any sign of anyone else. It wasn’t the first time that we had seen boats, or signs of other people visiting here, but each time it happened I think it still surprised us. I mean, wasn’t this our spot after all?
‘Can you see anyone?’ Tim asked.
I shook my head and said, ‘No. Maybe they’ve come ashore. Or maybe they’re still on the boat, or below decks or something?’
‘You still feel like a swim then?’
I shrugged and said, ‘How about we just go for a walk around to the headland or something for a bit? Maybe it won’t be so crowded when we get back?’
‘Yeah sure. Anything you like,’ he replied, flashing a smile as he did so that sent a quiver through my entire body. As surprising as it might sound, it never ceased to amaze me how Tim could send me soaring so high with just a look, or a touch, or a smile like that.
‘You know, you shouldn’t go putting ideas in my head,’ I said to him.
‘Ideas? And just what ideas would they be?’ he innocently asked. It was just then that I remembered that his voice did it too, send me off into another world I mean, especially when he sang. I can’t even begin to describe what that is like and how it makes me feel.
I just grinned at him and started walking off down the beach, in the direction of the rocky headland, upon which sat an imposing lighthouse, rising up like a fortress ahead of us.
‘Well at least I’ve got you smiling again,’ he said as he hurried after me. ‘That’s a much better look on your face than the one you were wearing an hour ago!’
‘Yeah well… what can I say? It must be the sea air or something.’
Seconds later he was back in step beside me and one arm was draped around my shoulder, while he reached behind him for my nearest arm and made sure that it was soon fastened around his waist. With one hand holding it there, despite my half-hearted attempts to pull it away, it was almost like he was challenging me to publicly deny my feelings for him, but even allowing for the way both of us felt about such displays of affection there was no way I could do that right now.
We walked like that for a while, following the white sands that stretched out ahead of us until they petered out and we soon found ourselves passing over rocks and then through some sparse scrub, following a steep, narrow and rather tricky path upwards. At this time I ended up walking behind Tim, letting him lead the way.
About half way up the slope we stopped on a small ledge and looked back down over the bay, seeing the beautiful clear water directly below us and the sands of the beach stretching in a smooth arc from one headland to the other. In the middle of it all the yacht was still rocking peacefully at anchor with its occupants, four barely dressed people who we hadn’t seen up until that time, sunning themselves on the forward deck.
‘Ain’t that the life?’ Tim said to me as he pointed them out. ‘Sail around the world, pull in wherever you fancy and all that.’
‘Yeah… just think of it. The sun. The surf. The sex,’ I added. ‘What more could a guy ask for?’
He looked at me and grinned.
‘What?’ I asked.
‘Oh, nothing mate. I was just thinking how I reckon I’ve probably already got all that I could ask for anyway.’
‘Christ, you’re not going all sappy on me now, are you?’
‘Me? Never!’ he replied.
‘Yeah, sure!’ I said to him jokingly, while giving him a playful hug and roughing up his hair a little. ‘Anyway, let’s get going and finish this climb. I want to get to the top and check out the views.’
With Tim leading the way we continued on up the path towards the top of the headland, being careful to watch where we were walking as the path narrowed in places. It was a rather steep climb and was difficult going in some places as we only had a steep bank leading upwards on one side of us, up which we would have no chance of climbing, and a long drop into deep blue water on the other side of us.
‘Hey, what do we do if we run out of road up here?’ Tim asked me, as he glanced back over his shoulder when we were about three-quarters of the way up.
He stopped and leant back against the side of the mountain to catch his breath, and I soon joined him.
‘Well, the way I see it, we either crawl back down the mountain… or we swim for it,’ I replied between taking some deep breaths and pulling off my T-shirt and hooking it into the waistband of my shorts. ‘Either way though, seeing as you’re leading the expedition, it’s your choice.’
‘You’re an asshole, you know that?’ he laughed.
‘Just wait ‘til we get to the top and then I’ll show you an asshole,’ I replied.
‘Promises, promises,’ he said, as he too pulled off his t-shirt, before then setting off up the path once more.
* * *
When we reached the top of the mountain about fifteen minutes later, with both of us literally gasping for breath, we found that the effort was definitely worth it, with the rewards being much more than either of us had imagined they could be.
From where we stood in front of the old lighthouse, the views were spectacular. For almost as far as you could see in either direction the coastline was impressive, spread out in a huge arc, allowing us to see high headlands and cliffs intermingled with thin strips of golden sand, which separated the deep blue of the ocean and the deep green of the land. Even the town, which was to the south of where we now stood, was partly camouflaged by the masses of trees which stood along its streets, so wherever you looked there was greenery which led right down to the edge of the beaches.
Adding to the whole scene was a backdrop of dark storms that were building up out at sea, from which clouds of mist and sea spray seemed to be carrying in on the wind toward the land, in places blurring the distinction between land and water. There was also the occasional container ship or sail boat that we could see dotting the blue ocean, however these seemed to fade in and out of view depending on the mood of the impending storm.
‘Wow!’ exclaimed Tim when he had recovered his breath. ‘That’s some view.’
He was standing beside me, with one hand resting on my shoulder and I could feel the heat emanating from his body as he stood there, swaying slightly in the strong sea breeze that was blowing against the open hilltop that we stood upon.
‘Yeah. You said it, bud,’ I responded, while looking right at him.
Slowly he turned his head and faced me, his expression one of puzzlement at first, although it quickly dawned on him what it was that I had meant.
It was his eyes that were first to smile. That glint of light I saw in them was more than just the sun, I was sure of that. Then the smile came to his lips and the day became brighter still.
I smiled back at him.
‘You said you were going to show me something when we got here. You’d best be careful what you say out here, Guy, if you’re not going to keep your promises,’ he said, as he casually let his hand slip down my back and rest in the small of my back.
I could feel him gradually pulling me toward him and even if I’d have wanted to stop him there was no way I would have been able to.
‘What? Out here in the open? Where everyone can see us?’ I asked him as our bare skin touched.
‘Uh huh. There’s no one close enough to worry about. And besides, it’ll take your mind off everything else that has happened today.’
‘Somehow,’ I said, almost in a whisper with my throat having gone dry, ‘I think my day is about to get a whole lot better.’
‘Damn straight it is,’ he replied before planting his lips across mine and hungrily worked his mouth against mine. As he held me he let his hands slide down to the waistband of my shorts before then slipping inside them.
My excitement was obvious but it proved to be short lived however, as the quiet of the afternoon was suddenly shattered by the ear splitting blast from a ships horn, which seemed to be coming from almost directly below us. Both startled, we separated and looked down, to see a white fishing boat powering through the choppy swell, with three people standing on the forward deck, two of which were waving madly.
‘Fuck! It’s not them, is it?’ Tim exclaimed.
‘I reckon it might be,’ I replied. ‘Yeah, that’s Ben standing up the front all right.’
We waved back to them and as we did so one of the three, I think it was Justin, walked back along the deck to the wheelhouse and stuck his head inside. Seconds later the horn shrieked once more, before the boat appeared to change course slightly and head away from the land.
‘Look at ‘em. They’re just like a bunch of kids,’ Tim laughed as we both waved back at them.
‘What are you talking about? That’s exactly what they are!’ I chided, before adding, ‘But I do have to admit that I’m pleased they’ve found something here that they can get excited about.’
‘Yeah, I have to agree with you there.’
By this time the boat had appeared to pass us and as it started to head away from us we noticed Ben and Matt walk back along its deck, looking up at us and still waving. We waved back once more, but they were growing smaller and smaller by the minute as the boat got farther and farther away from us and it wasn’t long before they were too far away to even be able to distinguish who was who on the deck of the boat. Then shortly after that they seemed to be swallowed up by the sea, lost amongst the white caps and sea spray, which was still rolling in, until eventually they became just another white speck on the ocean.
‘Now, where were we before we were rudely interrupted?’ Tim asked, after we had watched our friends disappear from view and he turned his attention back to me.
Placing a hand on either side of my waist he pulled me toward him, until our bodies were touching once more and I could feel him rising against me.
‘I think we were somewhere about here,’ he replied.
‘I’ve got a better idea,’ I said to him, placing one finger over his lips as he leant in to kiss me once more. ‘How about we head back toward home and find some nice cosy little place where we’re out of sight and where we won’t be disturbed.’
‘Whatever you want babe,’ he replied. ‘You just lead the way.’
Hand in hand we started back down the mountain, following the same trail we had taken, walking side by side for as long as we could. Pretty soon, however, we came to a place where the path narrowed and so we had to let go of one another and walk single file once more. It was quite tricky going now that we were walking down hill, with both of us slipping from time to time on the dirt and loose gravel. Every now and then Tim would slip or slide and he would reach out a hand and grab me to steady himself. I didn’t mind it when he did that, in fact I thrilled at his touch, and with each touch I was growing more and more excited by what lay ahead.
When we were about half way down we stopped, at the same spot that we had stopped at on the way up, taking a few minutes to catch our breath. Looking out over the bay we saw that the yacht was still moored there and its occupants were still on deck. One of the women spotted us and waved, so we waved back.
I immediately wondered if they could have seen us when we were standing on top of the headland.
‘They sure look friendly,’ Tim remarked.
‘Yeah,’ I replied. ‘Do you think that they saw us when we were up at the top?’
‘Who cares?’ he answered with a wicked grin on his face.
A few minutes later, after we had caught our breath, we continued on down the path. It was getting easier, but we knew there was still a couple of steep parts we would have to get down, one of which was along the edge of the cliff with a short drop straight into the water should anything go wrong.
‘Watch your step,’ I heard Tim say from behind me as we approached that spot.
‘Only if you watch yours,’ I answered while at the same time taking a peek over the edge at the water below us, which was so clear I could even see the sand on the bottom.
About five steps later I heard the sound of shoes slipping on loose gravel, followed by the rather ominous sound of the words, ‘Oh shit!’
I managed to turn my head slightly before he made contact with me, so having seen him out of the corner of my eye I knew what was coming and tried to brace myself. It was no use though, because there was no time in which to react and no place where I could get any sort of a foothold anyhow. He hit me and we both started sliding on the loose dirt and gravel, and that was it. Almost in slow motion we headed for the ledge, with both of us cursing, yet at the same time laughing, which lasted all the way to when we hit the water.
It wasn’t a particularly long drop from where we had been walking, but still it was with an almighty thud that we hit the water. I don’t think I could have ever imagined that water could be so hard. What surprised me most though was how cold it was as we disappeared into the depths, sinking deep down into it as we were swallowed by the sea.
It was probably only for a few seconds that we were under water, but it seemed much longer, and when I finally managed to surface my lungs felt like they were burning from the lack of oxygen. Desperately I gulped in a couple of deep breaths, then frantically looked around for Tim, finding him having surfaced just a few feet away from me, and doing exactly as I was doing.
‘You’re a bastard, you know that?’ I said to him after swimming closer and stopping just in front of him, with both of us treading water. ‘I told you to be careful.’
‘Yeah, I’m fine thanks, Guy. How about you?’ he cheekily replied.
I just shook my head, sending droplets of water in every direction around me, and grinned back at him.
‘So, you’re all right then?’ he asked, this time sounding concerned.
‘Yeah. I’m fine. How about you?’
‘Good!’ I said, while jumping up out of the water slightly and dunking him by putting my hands on his head and forcing him downwards.
When he surfaced again, spluttering and laughing, he tried the same thing, only I somehow managed to dive backwards slightly and he missed his intended target, landing rather awkwardly just in front of me and flailing around in the water. Quickly I grabbed him around the chest, pulling him close to me and then, almost instinctively, I kissed him.
He struggled for a moment, but any resistance he tried to put up quickly faded away and he was soon kissing me back, with the two of us playing in the water like a couple of seals.
In our excitement however, we had totally forgotten all about the fact that we had an audience on the nearby yacht, but we soon snapped out of our daze when we heard the wolf-whistles and cheers, and some guy yelling out something about slipping in some tongue.
Anxiously we looked in the direction of the yacht, where we found four people standing at the railings of their yacht laughing at us and pointing. I don’t think that I’ve ever felt so embarrassed in all my life.
Tim raised an arm and waved back at them, then said to me, ‘I think it’s time we got the fuck out of here!’
‘I’m right behind you, lover boy,’ I replied and so as fast as we could, the pair of us set off for the nearest piece of sand we could see, eventually emerging from the water and dragging ourselves up onto the beach, where we lay for a few moments as we tried catching our breath.
‘Come on,’ I said to Tim as soon as I got to my feet. ‘Let’s get away from here.’
‘What did you have in mind?’ he asked, still quite breathless.
‘How about we just make it up as we go along?’ I said, while holding out a hand for him and helping him to his feet.
‘That sounds like a plan to me,’ he replied.
The whoops and hollers were still coming from the boat when we disappeared into the scrub.