Luke was fed up with gardens and anything to do with gardening and aching by the time he’d finished the last of the flowerbeds that afternoon. He’d worked hard for that twenty-five bucks! Now he could do with a cold drink, another shower, and some down-time, all in that order before they went out to the movies with Ryan. Retuning to the kitchen, he opened the fridge door to deal with the first one on the list.
“So—are you going to tell me what that was all about?”
He whirled at the sound to find his mum, and spotted her waiting ominously at the kitchen door. ‘What was what about…what do you mean?” He stiffened, reminded of the awkward moment he’d had with Ryan earlier that day.
Her eyes narrowed. “Josh Wyeman is what!”
“Oh…that.” He returned the bottle to the fridge, feeling uncomfortable about that little incident, too. “It was nothing.”.
“Nothing?” She seemed unimpressed as she came in further and leaned against the cooker, arms folded. “What kind of nothing?”
“A mistake, that’s all,” Luke muttered. “Some kid did something, and Stacey's dad seems to have thought it was me at the time. I guess someone told him differently. Can we just leave it?”
She nodded, appearing to accept his explanation. “And how did it go with Stacey?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“She seems a nice enough girl.”
“And I’m not that interested!” He was getting irritated by this constant thing they all seemed to have for Stacey Wyeman. “Is there a problem with that?”
As he sidestepped her to go upstairs for a shower, she shook her head, looking amused. Her voice followed him. “Not even once you’ve started your junior year?”
Her laughing tone pulled the rug out from under him and he winced, wondering exactly how much of what Stacey Wyeman might have told her father had got passed to his mum! She didn’t sound mad, but he still decided not to wait to find out! Pretending he hadn’t heard, he hurried up the stairs.
After showering and changing, he surfed and read and the time passed quickly. He was thinking about getting ready to leave, when Ryan called to ask if Luke minded him inviting another friend to the movies. Someone he seemed to know pretty well.
Putting down the phone, he frowned. Ry had never mentioned anything about a girlfriend before! EVER! Yet now he calls to say he’d be bringing ‘someone’ along that evening. What ‘girl someone’? He’d not mentioned it earlier, so possibly one of his army friends?
Were they dating? That was unlikely. Luke knew that if it was him that wanted to take a girl out for the evening—and that was unlikely too—he wouldn’t be going with a group, not if it was serious. A ‘safe’ date, then—but one with potential, maybe? Whoever it was, he couldn’t help but wonder who she was and what she would be like.
* * *
Luke was the last one to arrive at the mall where the cinema was located, and the only one on a bike.
He’d hung out for a lift with his dad—his mum was out with the van—but that had fallen through and he’d had to leg it to get there on time. Fortunately, from their place, biking meant he could also take quite a few short cuts. Getting there with no time to spare, he chained up his wheels to the rails, and feeling a bit hot and sweaty, hurried to find the others.
Everyone else was already there. Simon and Toby, Toby’s mum and—his eyes widened as, from a distance, he recognized Marcus Daniels. Daniels? What was THAT all about?
Next to Daniels, and talking politely to him, was Ryan. And standing close to Ry was his friend…the girl. All six were waiting near the main entrance of the cinema, but just then Luke didn't feel like hurrying to meet them.
They spotted him anyway.
"Come on Luke, where have you been?" Simon demanded as Luke finally approached them through the excitable crowds, many of whom appeared to be heading to the same place as themselves. "All the best seats will be gone if we don't shift it!"
He ignored Simon and his eyes flicked around the group. Ry or no Ry, girl or no girl, he knew he had to deal with the bigger elephant in the room first.
"Hello sir...I didn't know you watched movies!"
"That's exactly what I said!" Toby said. He seemed to glare at his mum.
Daniels appeared amused. "Hello there, Luke. Yes, it's a terrible habit, I know!" His eyes glinted and his face lit up with a previously unsuspected ability to smile. He almost appeared to be human! "I have to confess, I shop as well!"
Luke really didn't get that at all, though Simon sniggered.
Daniels didn't seem to feel the need to offer any more explanation as to why he'd gate-crashed their night out, though Luke sure as hell would quiz Si about it later! He nodded to Ryan, and then took his first guarded look at the girl Ry had brought along. In fact, he had to work hard to not let his mouth drop. She was smoking hot!
"Well, now we’re all here, shall we go get tickets?" Daniels took the lead and they all traipsed after him.
Inside the cinema foyer, as they stood to wait in the long ticket line, Luke couldn't help but see that Ry and his girlfriend made quite a couple. Again, he was surprised that, for a girl Ryan was happy to invite to the movies with him, he’d never mentioned her before. Luke looked away and studied the big posters of upcoming films while eavesdropping on a family who were irritated because it was taking their dad far too long to park!
In the midst of his musings, a familiar voice came from nearby. "Hi guys!"
He turned to find Jacko Jackson grinning from ear to ear. Jacko was a kid that was hard not to like. He was in Simon's class, though he and Ryan also knew him through the school’s tennis squad. His real name was Adam. Adam Jackson. In the squad, Ry coached him quite a lot.
Simon greeted the new arrival. "Hi Jacko. Here for the movie, too?" Jacko always preferred his familiar nickname. As far as Luke knew, nobody ever called him Adam.
Jacko beamed and nodded enthusiastically. "Iron Man!"
Ryan grinned at his teammate. "Hey there, Jacko!"
Jacko beamed and then noticed Daniels and looked tongue-tied. They all fitted into the end of the line. Just in front of them, the Jackson parents seemed happy to get into conversation with Daniels and Toby's mum.
Luke studied them. It was suddenly obvious that the rest of the Jackson family were the ones he'd been listening in on. Jacko and his dad had just arrived from the parking lot. He could tell now where Jacko—and the two younger girls that had to be his sisters—got their milky-chocolate skin color, and he recognised the mum now, too. He’d had seen her a couple of times at the school. While the dad was a tall African American, she was fair-skinned. The sisters, he’d never met before.
Keeping his voice low, Jacko asked. "Can I sit with you guys?"
Ryan nodded. "Sure…if you want."
Jacko lifted his voice. "Mom, can I sit with the guys?" His mother turned and Luke felt scrutinized. She would get on well with his own mum, he decided.
Daniels spoke smoothly to fill the gap and add his credibility. "They're with us, Alice—at least the younger two are. If Adam wants to go with the boys why don't the rest of us find a row for ourselves?"
"Somewhere near to the front, sir," Jacko sniggered, getting his cheeky confidence back. "Otherwise Dad can't see!"
Luke smirked. Even the adults burst out laughing. Seeing the rather thick lenses Jacko's father sported, the kid may well have had a point. At least now the ice was broken. Luke looked over to Ryan meaningfully, flicking his eyes towards the girl, and Ryan got the message.
"Guys, this is Mel, a friend of mine. Mel...this is Simon and Toby." He went around and finally came to Luke. "And this is Luke…."
Mel stared at him. Her gaze felt hungry and made him a little uncomfortable. Almost as quickly as it was there, it was gone and she smiled easily. "Hi Luke. Good to meet you."
"Hi." He still felt a little uncomfortable, wondering why he seemed to be the only one she was happy to meet, but still managed to pull an honest smile out of somewhere. He turned to Ryan. "Listen, can you get my ticket?" Reaching into his pocket he extracted a bill. "I'll go and pick up some popcorn."
"I think I'll come with you, Luke," Mel said quickly. "Get ours, too, will you, Ryan." She passed him a twenty.
Ryan seemed to have a rather horrified look on his face.
Luke cringed, uncomfortable with the attention he seemed to be getting. However, he wasn’t able to shake Mel and she followed him as he left the ticket line to join those wanting fresh popcorn from the machine. Whilst he waited, she went off to gather her own supplies from the drinks machine. Shortly, loaded with a couple of super-size plastic cups she re-joined him in the popcorn line.
"You and Ryan are at that school together, I understand? I heard it's a good school," She seemed keenly chatty as they worked their way up to the front.
"The Academy—yes." He shrugged hoping she'd find somewhere else she preferred to be. "It's okay, I guess."
Mel chuckled. "God, I love it when you speak—you've got such a cute accent!"
He smiled politely. Shit, not that one again! He was tired of it. The term ‘dumb blond’ was adding to his opinion of her! If Ryan was dating this, he needed to have his head examined!
Then she surprised him. "So, how long did the honeymoon last for you?"
Honeymoon? Marriage? Sex?
"Excuse me?" He tried to remain polite. "You've lost me ..." What the hell was this bimbo gibbering about?
She smiled effortlessly. A deeply intelligent glint that he hadn't seen there before, was suddenly in evidence. "I call it the honeymoon period." She smirked knowingly as she began to explain.
"Going to live in a new country is very different from holidaying there. Having lived in several, I found there's a time at the beginning where it's fun and new...that's the honeymoon period. Fun at first, but then you have to keep living with that country for years after!"
Luke snorted with laughter. He absolutely got what she meant! It was so true!
She wasn't finished. "I lived in Germany for many years. My parents were stationed there."
"No! You lived in Germany?" He was intrigued and beginning to see her in a completely different light. "So, do you speak German?"
"Sure. If you don't speak the language, you don't survive! I lived in the UK for a while, too."
"I learned German, and I even learned to speak English!" She continued in an extremely passable Midlands accent. "And, as you and I both know, that is absolutely NOT the same as American!"
He burst out laughing again. She was really good and he realized he'd completely misjudged her.
She licked her lips meaningfully. "What I really miss is a good bag of fish and chips!"
"With mushy peas!" he added, grinning widely. They both chuckled at the insider joke. A little way in front of them in the line, he noticed some other guys that looked round his age glancing back at them. He could see speculation on their faces. 'How the fuck did he end up with a hot chick like that?' Despite this, he was realizing that this Mel was all right! Ry was a lucky sod. If he were him, he’d be all over her, too!
They reached the serving counter and he ordered three big cartons of popcorn.
"I'll get it," Mel said, cheerfully.
"Really…you don't need to do that." Luke shook his head, chivalrous as always, already digging out his wallet to take the hit. He was surprised when she turned and touched his hand lightly.
"Luke…please allow me. I'm the one that gate-crashed your night out." She spoke softly. It was gentle, almost caring. "Let me do this one thing for you guys. And next time, perhaps things will be different and you'll be buying...."
He smiled. He didn't really get what she meant, but she was hard to resist. "Okay…and thanks. But next time, definitely my shout!"
“I hope I’ll be able to keep you to it,” she murmured as she stepped up to the counter. To him, it sounded as mysterious as she was. He shrugged it off as they gathered up all popcorn, added the bottles and other stuff and paid the bill. Loaded now, they went back to find the others, who had just finished picking up the tickets.
"What took you?" Ryan asked. A little suspiciously, Luke thought.
"Queuing. What do you think?" he replied. "And before you scoff it all," he added as he eyed Simon beginning to dig into the tub, "Mel paid for it all, so you'd better say thank you!"
"Thanks, Mel!" Simon managed to get it out through volumes of oral popcorn.
Unexpectedly, Toby took the box away from Simon. "Mom's getting ours!"
Luke looked on, bemused as Toby made a point of giving it back to Mel and then turned to study his mum with beady, challenging eyes. "Remember?"
Grace Skerrit raised her eyebrows, a smirk coming as she faced her son in one of their usual attempts to stare each other down. Whatever it was, Luke had been in the car enough times with the pair to recognize the signs of sparring! As if by magic, a bill appeared out of nowhere into Grace's hand. "I thought you'd never ask, sweetheart!"
Luke even caught Daniels smirking as Toby grunted, picked the note delicately from her grip and took Simon with him to the refreshments area. With Mel still at his side, he turned back to Ryan. "Did you get good seats?"
"Yep—six in a row, towards the back,” he replied. “Not right in the center, but not bad." He dealt the numbered seats like cards, putting himself and Mel at one end, Simon and Toby at the other, and Luke with Jacko in the middle.
Finally, armed with overpriced popcorn and outrageously expense Coke that was half full of ice, they settled in to watch the recently released Iron Man movie. On one side of him was Simon sitting next to Toby, and on the other side, squeezed between him and Ryan, was Jacko. Beyond Ry, Mel.
As they waited through endless trailers, he was relieved that everything seemed to be back to normal again between Ryan and himself. It was as if the earlier weird stuff had never happened, though Ryan turning up with a girlfriend in tow had been unexpected. It left him feeling quite out of sorts in the middle of the packed cinema. Even so, he settled in for an evening of rocket-propelled mayhem.
In the middle of the movie, he got an enormous surprise.
He noticed that the chair arm between Simon and Toby was up and they seemed to be snuggled up quite close. It intrigued him so much that, whilst they were both glued to the screen, he made a pretence of picking up something from the floor. Glancing between them as he searched for something that wasn’t there, he could see that Simon's hand was tucked surreptitiously under Toby's backside!
His eyes bugged. Holy Shit!
Quickly sitting back up, he lost track of the movie for a few minutes!
Quietly, he nudged Simon, who turned, a questioning look in his face. He whispered in his ear and nodded at the body contact, smiling encouragingly to let Si know he had noticed and that it was okay. Coy at first, Simon finally beamed. It was obvious how happy he looked.
Settling back into his seat, he glanced the other way to spot Ryan and Mel; the perfect couple, sitting close, too. Alone in the middle, he felt like ‘Billy no-mates’, with only Jacko Jackson for company. Loneliness threatened to engulf him, but he pushed the feelings away and lost himself in a world of souped-up heroes.
The movie was more than good: it was brilliant!
As they walked out through the mall afterwards, the whole group of them were in a good mood and talking animatedly about the plot. Finally, they went their own ways, and the Jackson Five left to go find their car. Daniels was apparently chauffeuring Simon, Toby and Toby’s mum, and they left too.
"What the hell is THAT all about?" he muttered, once Daniels was out of earshot.
"Beats me." Ryan was staring after them too. "Do you think they're dating?"
"I think they could well be!" Under the parking lot lighting, he smirked to himself. Thankfully only he knew he was also thinking about two boys!
He sighed. Maybe Ryan and Mel were dating, too. They certainly seemed close and had that easy banter of friends who’d known each other a long time. He couldn’t help but wonder why Ry had never told him about her before? What other secrets did Ryan have that he knew nothing about?
Ryan shook his head. “Daniels was a bit strange, don’t you think? I mean you would hardly think he was the same person. One thing at school, something different outside!”
They said it simultaneously. “Chameleon!” It had been the title of one of the preview movies, one that Luke had thought looked pretty good. He’d definitely go see THAT particular thriller!
Mel drew up in her pickup, and Ryan waited as Luke turned to unlock his bike. It was a long haul home, and mostly uphill. "I'll be off then," he said.
"I can take you," Mel said.
"I've got my bike Mel—but thanks for the offer..." Frankly, he was quite looking forward to the ride—and for some time alone to think.
"And I've got a pickup truck...we can just throw your bike in the back."
It would have been rude and much too obvious to refuse, so Luke grinned. "Okay, thanks."
Without hesitation, she lifted his bike with surprising ease and lowered it into the back without drawing a breath.
Crikey—she was full of surprises!
There was only one long seat in the cab, with room for the driver and two others, and he ended up between the two of them. Feeling like ‘piggy in the middle’, he smiled, trying to look grateful.
"So how do you two actually know each other?" he asked, trying to make conversation once they'd got out of the parking lot.
"The army," Mel replied as she followed a line of cars out onto the highway.
He smirked. "Honestly, Mel, you don't look like a soldier!" Hell, she looked more like a Miss World contestant.
"Looks can be deceiving," Ryan added, grinning wickedly. "If she gets you in a corner, she can do awful things to you!"
Seeing her lift his bike, Luke could well believe it!
Mel leaned forward and pierced Ry with what, to Luke, seemed a knowing look. "Ryan Alexis, be good or so help me, I'll put you right on the spot!" Then she offered an explanation to Luke’s question. "Both our parents are Army folk. We know each other through that."
"Mel was at today's cookout," Ryan added. "Don't tell her, but she looks great on a bun!" He seemed to be in a giggly mood and snorted with laughter. Luke had to work hard not to join him as Mel reached behind him and Ry got a clip across the ear.
Ry rubbed his ear looking injured. "What?"
She settled back into her seat. "Luke, there's this girl, Fern Blackman. She..."
Ryan seemed horrified. "Okay, okay...I'm sorry!"
What any of this meant, Luke had no idea, other than, again, he had the strong impression they shared something from which he was excluded. He felt even emptier than before, and tried not to think about what kind of things Mel did to Ryan when they were in that corner together!
Their house was on the way to Ryan’s and, fifteen minutes later, they dropped him and his bike at the front door.
"It's been good to meet you at last, Luke." Mel waved through the open window after he’d lifted his bike out of the back of her truck. Thanking them for the lift, he waved as they pulled away.
'At last'? What the hell did that mean?
He stashed his bike into the garage and went indoors. He was halfway up the stairs when his mum called from the lounge.
He paused. “Be there in a minute. I just need to use the loo!” More like he just needed to find Si, who would no doubt be up in his room waiting for him. He stuck his head in the bedroom door, but the light was off and nobody was home. Surprised he came back downstairs.
"How was the movie?"
"Great!" Was that all she wanted? “Mum, where’s Simon? Isn't he back yet?”
She looked up again from her book. “Oh, he’s staying over at the Skerrits again tonight. Didn’t you know?”
The reality of it troubled him as he slowly climbed the stairs again. There’d been no chance to quiz Si over this new thing with Toby at the cinema, and now his brother was staying another night over at the Skerrits. Were he and Toby sharing a room, or in separate ones? If they were in the same room, would they be in the same bed? Would they be up to anything?
That was a difficult idea…
…and crucially, would they be careful? The last thing anyone needed would be for Simon to be frog-marched back home to face their mum and dad if he and Toby got busted.
It didn’t even bare thinking about! Either way, it looked like he would have to wait until tomorrow to get to the bottom of it.
After many hours in the garden he was also tired and achy. He went back downstairs to make a hot drink and then decided on a quick, hot shower again before bed. Ready to call it a day, he went to shut the lid of his Mac to put that to sleep, too, to discover that Damon was there, his profile live on Facebook. On a whim he typed a greeting.
[LUKE] "Hi…still awake?"
[DAMONJ] "Hi Luke! Only just. Sitting watching dirty movies with my pet goldfish. Want me to send you one?”
Luke chuckled. It was hard to know if any of it was true.
[LUKE] "A goldfish? Tempting, but no.”
[DAMONJ] "Oh my God…look at that!”
[LUKE] "Now what?”
[DAMONJ] "I would never have believed a goldfish could do that!”
[LUKE] "You’re really sick, you know!”
[DAMONJ] "I know. I practice a lot! So, what have you been up to today?”
[LUKE] "We just went out to see Iron Man.”
[DAMONJ] "Cool – I saw it days ago! What took you so long?”
[LUKE] "Come on - It’s not been out THAT long.”
[DAMONJ] "I went midweek.”
[LUKE] "On a school night?”
[DAMONJ] "Let me guess—you go to a posh preppy school?”
[LUKE] "And you?”
[DAMONJ] "We have to go through a metal detector every morning on the way in! Anyway, what d’ya think of the movie??”
[DAMONJ] "Best bit?”
Luke already knew the answer to that, but was cautious.
[LUKE] "Dunno…it was all good. I liked the bit when he was building the suit and kept getting toasted.”
[DAMONJ] "Agreed…and when he toasted the cars, too! Nice ending as well.”
Luke nodded to himself. It had been a gripping plot.
[LUKE] "Both of us think there'll be another soon.”
[DAMONJ] "Us? You went with a friend?”
[LUKE] "A group. A friend of mine, Ryan and a few others. He’s okay—you’d like him.”
[DAMONJ] "Really? Hehe—is he gay then? Send me a photo!”
Luke rolled his eyes.
[LUKE] "Lol! I didn’t mean like that. He's pretty open, though. He'd be fine with you."
There was no immediate reply, so he changed the subject
[LUKE] "Busy tomorrow?"
[DAMONJ] "Why? Do you want me to come around?”
[LUKE] "Funny guy.”
[DAMONJ] "Anyway, sorry to disappoint…can’t make it. Visiting family tomorrow.”
[DAMONJ] "Not really.”
[LUKE] "Oh…you don’t get on?”
[DAMONJ] "Let’s just say this—it wouldn’t go down well if I started asking for photos of cute guys! No offense, and I don’t expect you to understand, but having to keep pretending to everyone that I’m straight, like you? Frankly it sucks!”
Luke could quite feel the frustrated heaviness. At the same time, images from a trailer and a word came to his mind.
Living one thing and pretending to everyone else that it was something different. Luke knew he did it all the time these days. From what Damon was saying, so did he. He understood why that could feel so crap.
[LUKE] "Sorry…it was just from one of the movie previews tonight. ‘Chameleon.’ Sounds a bit like you…hiding in plain daylight!”
[DAMONJ] "Chameleon? Nice—thanks for that! Some kind of fat ugly lizard?”
[LUKE] "Hehe! I meant the camouflage!”
[DAMONJ] “Well, I’ll keep that in mind for tomorrow, maybe get the chance to flick out my hot sticky tongue and catch a tasty morsel!”
[DAMONJ] “Okay, I gotta go give mouth to mouth to my goldfish!”
[LUKE] "Eeewww—more gross! Hope it goes okay tomorrow. Ciao!”
* * *
Luke’s plans to interrogate Simon on Sunday got put back. Probably because they’d had Simon all weekend, his mum and dad then invited the Skerrits out to Sunday lunch with them. At least they took pity on Luke and they all went to Chili’s this time round so he didn't have to see Stacey! During the meal and out of the corner of his eye, he stared constantly at Simon and Toby, wondering what was going on between them. Finally, when he did corner Simon later that day, Si wouldn’t give him a straight answer to any of the most important questions. His brother just smiled sweetly and left him guessing!
Monday dawned, and Luke awoke to a day that would prove to be eventful.
That morning in the shower, he examined the chunk of SmartKlamp plastic that, even in just a week, had become familiar baggage in his underwear. The previous week he might have handled it with more care than the way he now unceremoniously stuffed it inside his boxers as he dressed. Any pain or discomfort at the point where the Klamp gripped the cut edges of his foreskin was long gone. All he could see through the plastic was a healing scar.
He couldn’t wait to get it off at last and get back to normal life, but thankfully, it was now the last day before he would make the long awaited return journey to the urologist to have the device removed. A morning appointment had been made for the Tuesday, and at none-fifteen in the morning his mum would drop him back to the doctor’s office one final time. Assuming all was well—and he already knew there was no reason it wouldn’t—she would take him back to school straight afterwards. It was just so hard to believe that months and months of waiting was finally down to one day!
The morning passed like any other Monday. Nobody in their right mind actually arrived at school wanting to be there, but by mid-morning everyone was beginning to wake up and get over the usual Monday morning blues.
By lunchtime, the school was pretty lively. The weather was warm and jackets got discarded. With English and Computer Studies to come, even the afternoon was a doddle. Most were already thinking of home. Luke was even considering the pool at Ryan's...Klamp or no Klamp. Who cared? Ry certainly wouldn't, not now he knew all about it
Just after lunch, the two of them meandered indoors, killing time before classes restarted. He held the door of one of the restrooms as Ryan followed him in, and Luke parked himself at one of the heads and began the task of easing out the plastic device.
“I called you yesterday, you know.” After lunch on Sunday, the weather had been as good as it was today. He’d probably have gone over and straight in the pool if Ry had answered the phone.
Ryan shrugged. “Did you? Sorry—we went out.”
"I guessed." With summer well on its way, Luke still really wanted to go in for a swim, so made a suggestion as the relieving flow started to splash into one of the individual bowls. "What about I get changed and come over later, after we’ve dropped you off? It's too nice not to go in the pool."
Ryan eyed him speculatively, his eyes flicking briefly below waist level. "I thought you still had that thing on?"
Luke took an accurate stab at what 'thing' was, and grinned. "True, but it comes off tomorrow morning anyway. It’s not going to stop me wearing swim shorts, and it's not like I'm likely to come to any harm now. Just don't start bombing me!"
Ryan smirked. “One more day, eh?”
“I go in tomorrow morning first thing. Not sure how long it will take, so I’ll be a bit late in.” Luke hoped he’d be able to walk straight! If getting poked by Ry on Saturday was anything to go by, he was getting nervous!
Ryan nodded, but then changed the subject. "Did you manage to hand it in?" He lay down the jacket he’d been carrying alongside one of the sinks and stood at another of the heads to begin to relieve some pressure too.
"The math you mean?" Luke guessed what Ryan was getting at. He felt good about life. It felt good to get back to some kind of proper routine again. However, as he emptied his lizard, he frowned. Math had been a blot on the landscape. "Just. It was a bit ragged, though."
The truth was, he’d been frantically trying to finish the last two problems during homeroom that morning. He knew he should have done it over the weekend, but just never got round to it. On the other hand, NOT handing in a math assignment wasn't really an option at their school!
"When did you do it?" he asked Ryan, though he was fairly sure what the answer would be.
"Last week, you lazy skunk!"
Luke grunted as the last few squirts subsided, and he shook the locked device to try to dislodge the final drops. It was one of his least favourite aspects of the SmarKlamp—not that there were any ‘most favourites’, either! It was damned hard to clean, and with the sensitivity issue, trying to stuff toilet paper up there to wipe anything was a no-go! A good wash-down under a cool shower was the only way of getting rid of stale pee!
Still, one more day and his problems would be over and it would be back to life as normal. He changed the subject. "Are we still all on for next Saturday?"
"The Braves game?" Ryan looked suspicious. "Why? You're not bombing out on us are you?"
"Don't be an asshole. Of course I'm not!" They'd got tickets for the game at Turner Field, with the Braves at home to Cincinnati. Nobody expected the Tomahawks to lose! "Do you know who's going?"
"Other than us and Todd?" Ryan shrugged. "Most of the usuals. Even Landon, I think."
Luke grunted—he’d got that impression, too. Who cared. There were more important things to worry about than Scott Landon…which reminded him. “Mel's really great, by the way. Why didn't you tell me you were dating?" There was no doubt about it, she was nice, and he was being a dork by not telling Ryan that.
But Ryan looked at him in total surprise and then amusement. Finished, he zipped up as Luke continued to let his drip. "For God's sake, Luke, I'm not dating her!"
"Why not? She's gorgeous!" he persisted. To him it seemed that Ryan would be an idiot not to.
Ryan burst out laughing. "So how old do you think she is?" When Luke didn't answer—because he had no idea—Ryan shook his head in bemusement. "It doesn't matter. She's definitely NOT my type, and anyway, she's already with someone. I've known her for years. Honestly, she's just a friend. That's all!"
"Oh...I thought you were...you know—" Luke grinned like a silly kid. The Klamp was in now and he zipped up.
"Whatever 'you know' is, you filthy-minded little skunk, the answer is no!"
Smirking, Luke was deciding not to admit exactly how far his dirty little mind had gone on that one, when they were distracted by the sound of excitable voices coming through from the other side of bathroom door—the sound of scuffling and laughter. The door got banged open as though someone had pushed it, but then swung closed with nobody to be seen.
Moments later, the door suddenly burst open again, hard this time, and from somewhere outside came that rather familiar clarion call.
Through the door stumbled Wingy.
Adam Wingford was flushed, panting, and dishevelled, and by the looks of the streak of grey boxers pulled out of his school pants, had already been a target.
“Oh God...” Luke rolled his eyes and frowned. “Here we go again!”
Now it wasn't like he was against the Wars for any particular reason. In fact, both he and Ryan were usually full-blooded participants and had delivered (and received) no end of extremely tight wedgies over the last year. Ever so often, someone would take it on themselves to start a 'Wedgie War'. They usually lasted no more than a few hours, or perhaps a day. Heaving some poor kid's boxers up his crack was great fun; yanking for as hard and for as long as possible. It could be torturous, and many a pair of boxers had given way under the strain.
So if a War broke out...you'd be wise to watch your backside!
Seeing them, Wingy did an about turn. If he was looking for safe harbor, this probably wasn’t it.
Ryan’s eyes lit up.
“Fucking A!” He started to follow Wingy out of the door. “Hang on to my jacket will you, I’m just going to go have a look!” Grinning like a kid in a sweetshop, he hurtled out the door looking for the source of the action.
Sniggering, Luke called after him “You’ll regret it!”
He shook his head. What a lunatic! Last time around, Ry had got so badly wedged, he confessed that he’d hobbled for days after. You would have thought he would have learned his lesson from that experience, mused Luke, but some guys just couldn’t leave it alone!
* * *
Extract from Luke’s notes:
It's not that I didn't appreciate a good War, it was just that now was a really bad time for me. I had a serious piece of circumcision machinery welded to my dick and an Atomic Wedgie was probably going to be bad news. Aside from that, I'd survived the whole week with my privacy intact. It was down to the last day now, and I'd got no desire to fall at the final fence!
If Ry wanted to go out into the mayhem, then good luck to him. I was staying where I was until it quietened down out there!
* * *
After Ryan had high-tailed it out the door—presumably to see if Wingy needed any more help in getting his underwear around his head—Luke was washing his hands when the door swung open again. Assuming it would be Ryan back and looking either triumphant, or, more likely, dishevelled, he looked up and into the mirror.
It wasn't Ryan.
Instead, Todd, Landon and some guy he couldn't remember the name of from the year above them stole in. The looks on their faces didn’t bode well. Not wanting to induce any sudden escalation, and hoping they would just pass on by, Luke took time to dry his hands and pretended they weren't there. Behind him, they fanned out and he could see the glint in Todd's eye via the reflection. He returned it with his best 'I'm not in the mood' scowl.
"Hey there, Luke...." Todd sounded amiable, and took a moment to stuff his own shirt back down his pants. The three of them began edging towards Luke like hungry jackals, spreading to left and right, and Todd got down to business. "So, are we doing this the easy way, or the hard way?"
"We're not doing it at all, Todd." Luke rounded on them and gave them another angry scowl. "Not today."
Landon leered. "Seems a good day to me."
Luke weighed up the situation. All three of them—despite the fact that Landon was a prick—were not being particularly malicious in the goal of owning his arse. If you gave, you got. There was nothing personal about a Wedgie War, and from the number of briefs he'd ripped in his time, Luke guessed he had it coming. But right then, he was worried. His eyes flicked to the door, wondering if he could make a bolt for it.
"Going somewhere?" Landon spotted the sign of weakness, and moved to cover the exit.
Luke surveyed the space between the heads, the stalls and the sinks. The good news was the restroom was quite large, giving him plenty of manoeuvring room to keep out of reach. The bad news was that there were three of them, and it would only be a matter of time before the space got closed down on him.
Whilst he hated the idea of sounding like a wuss—especially to Landon—there were bigger things at stake. He didn't relish having to explain anything about his surgery, but receiving a massive wedge around his nads could be dangerous.
"Todd..." Luke cast him an urgent tone, hoping he could somehow minimise how far this would get spread.
"Times up, bud!" It was the third of the trio and the sound of the guy’s voice brought back a name. Travis. That was his name. Travis Lehman.
"Todd!" Luke raised his voice, worried now. No more subtle. "You can't. I've just been—"
Right then, Ryan crashed through the door. Excitably wild, he completely bowled over Landon, who meant flying headlong to the ground, and then Ryan threw himself at Todd and made a grab for his boxers. Todd twisted around to try to dislodge him as Ryan hollered and pulled. Ryan had to be a psychotic whacko, or maybe he didn't realize it would be three against one, but Luke backed away into a corner, glad they'd lost interest in him.
The restroom floor became a war zone as, with the odds stacked against Ryan, a serious battle for the briefs began! With plenty of scuffling and some well-placed insults, they went at each other.
Ry was pretty tough and held his own for a while, but the noise brought reinforcements as Ethan bounded in. Three became four, then five. A pile developed, with Ryan right at the bottom. Luke had been planning to let discretion be the better part of valour and scarper, but paused and grinned as Todd appeared to be getting more than he bargained for.
No harm in just seeing what happened…
"SHIT!" Todd screeched. "Get him off me!" Despite being at the bottom of the melee—where, in fact, the pile around him was protecting his backside—Ryan was adamantly refusing to let go of Todd's underwear.
Poor Todd! You had to feel for him.
Luke smirked at the awkward position Todd had got himself into. Despite all the pushing, shoving and grabbing, Ry had successfully held on to Todd, who'd ended up on top of him in the scrimmage. Ry’s hands were wrapped around Todd's back, and Todd’s legs were flailing helplessly as Ryan began to heave his shorts up his back. By the looks of it, Ry might even get them over Todd's head for a successful Wedgie of Doom!
Had Ryan managed it, it would have probably have all been over, but suddenly the big African-American, Leroy, burst through the door and dropped onto the mass of bodies. Using his bulk, he pushed the pile over and Ryan had to let go. Suddenly he was easy to get at, and many hands reached for his arms and legs. There were a few grunts as Ryan aimed some well-placed jabs, trying to extricate himself from their combined grip.
He almost broke free, but more joined the fray, and the excitement mounted.
"Hold him still!” Ethan cried. “Shit...sit on his legs then!" It sounded like he was picking up a few jabs!
Landon had somehow managed to hang on to an arm, and they gradually forced Ryan downwards onto his back. Ry glared as, finally, and with everyone breathing heavily, he was triumphantly locked down. Keeping his distance just in case they remembered he was there when it was done, Luke couldn't help but stay to enjoy the coup de grace!
With Ryan controlled, Todd took a few moments to pull his boxers out of his crack.
"Ooooh, Ry…you shit!" He winced as he freed his nuts. "You know you're gonna pay for that!" From the amount of underwear he was showing, it looked like Ryan had been ruthless!
Despite his pending doom, a satisfied smirk reached Ryan's mouth. "Pity I didn't have more time to get them up that fat ass of yours!"
Luke grinned. Even in defeat, Ryan was indomitable!
Hot news travels fast, and the word that Ryan Alexis was pinned down on a restroom floor ready to be wedged, was flying! Like bees to honey, boys swarmed around him, and those that couldn’t were happy to stand back and, like Luke, watch the fun. Few wanted to miss the spectacle, and as they held their hapless victim secure, more onlookers broke through the door ready to see the drama unfold. Soon there were a dozen, with more arriving with each passing moment.
Finally, around twenty teens were crowded into the restroom to cheer at Ryan's imminent downfall. Luke could do nothing to help him and skulked at the back, out of the way, edging around the crowd to be nearer to the door to make his escape once it was done. Unfortunately for Ryan, he was a well-known activist in the Wars. From the look on Ryan’s face, Luke could see a reluctant acceptance that he wasn’t going anywhere, and that his antics would reward him with the thin end of the wedge…quite literally! With plenty of eager hands, this was surely going to be a hell of a Wedgie of Doom!
Landon still had hold of an arm and, from where he was standing in the back, Luke was a little troubled to see Cody Mitchell appear at Landon’s side to whisper something in his ear. He could see Landon’s eyes widen and his face looked puzzled, even doubtful. Mitchell whispered something again and a sly smile spread across Landon’s face, who then whispered something back. Mitchell grinned, nodded, and slipped out of the room.
There was no hurry, and they waited till everyone who was there had settled. Through the bobbing heads and cheerful faces, Luke could see Ryan's jacket resting ignored where it had been left as, to gleeful acclaim, the team lifted Ry off the floor, flipping him into position on his front. With a firm grip on every arm and leg, they yanked him out straight.
It became obvious to everyone that the ‘Doom’ was indeed upon him, and it brought an enthusiastic cheer from all those jostling for position to get the best view of Ryan Alexis being given the full works. As a well-known figure in the school community, everyone liked to see the mighty fall!
Ryan struggled, pulling hard against the arms that gripped him.
"Shit guys, come on...that's not a good idea...just pull and be done with it!" It was half-hearted. Even he could tell there was no point in hoping for anything else.
Yeah, right. Luke shook his head in amusement. Did the bozo really think he was going to get away with a simple Grab & Pull at this point!
Ryan's head twisted up and back to see Todd grinning. Luke could see the plea had fallen on deaf ears too! With Todd in the driving seat—and probably still feeling the effects of Ry’s recent assault on his boxers—the outcome on Ryan’s own rear end was pretty much assured.
Luke couldn't help but enjoy the moment. After all, it had been Ry's own lack of judgment to try to tackle them like he did. Then, after dealing out the wedgie that he pulled on Todd…well, he only had himself to blame for what was about to go down. Or in his case…up!! It would be over shortly, and Luke knew they would laugh about it later that afternoon in the pool as Ryan complained how sore his crack was!
On another front, he also wondered what boxers Ryan was wearing that day...and it looked like he was about to see!
First, they dragged Ryan into the middle of the room so everyone could gather round. Then, clearly relishing the moment, Todd kneeled in front of his victim, reached deep down inside the back of Ry’s trousers to grab hold of his briefs.
Which ones they would be?
Todd heaved, and Ryan squirmed as they came into view. They were unexpected.
Though Luke wouldn’t have admitted it until recently, he actually felt he knew most of the pairs of boxers that Ryan wore. It was just one of those things—his eyes would drift in the lockers just to check. Most ofl the time, Ry wore black boxer briefs. If the brand name were anything to go by, they weren't cheap ones, but they were as regulation as his haircut. So, the wide charcoal black band that appeared wasn't unexpected. What intrigued him as the heave continued, was the dark red that followed. Dark red with indistinct, yet striking patterns of a deep orange.
It reminded him of fire. Actually, the deep red quite reminded him of the color of Iron Man’s metal suit! Very nice!
He could also see another red where Ethan was dabbing the end of his nose. It looked like Iron Man had caught him a zinger. It was Ethan's own fault—that's what you got if you played with fire!
Quickly Ryan’s briefs were forced up past his waist!
"Crap, Todd! Give me a break!" Ry groaned, clearly feeling the impact of the pull on his undercarriage. For everyone else, it was no doubt purely business. For Luke, it was somewhat erotic!
"Sure Ry, anything you want!" Todd agreed gleefully, not about to stop. "Flip him, guys!"
This was the normal 'phase two' of the Wedgie of Doom. Pull the back first, and then flip over and pull up the front to loosen things up. Finally, flip again to pull the back right up into the guy’s crack, and hopefully get the waistband over his head. Luke knew they would certainly have a go at that, but it didn't look to him that those boxers would give that much. They seemed quite close fitting, and he suspected they were about to get ripped. Still, it would be quite quick now, and he wondered about edging even nearer to the door, just in case someone had the bright idea of moving directly from Ryan to him!
But then, just after they flipped Ryan onto his back, a voice called out from somewhere deep in the now quite large gathering, loud enough to be pitched just over the top of the party-like atmosphere.