by Caleb Wilson
I stood looking across at Mitch, who had this wicked grin on his face.
“Uh, umm, okay then. What do you want to do?” I said nervously, not knowing how to go about entertaining my guest.
"Well first of all, I think we’d better sit instead of just standing around.” He took a seat on the settee, patting the place beside him for me to join him.
As I sat he asked, “So what had you planned to do, when you got home, after your brief visit to my place?”
“Copy out the course work you lent me, so I would be able to return it to you on Monday. Actually, I’d already started on it but I hadn’t done much. I came down to phone you and to apologise, when the doorbell rang and you arrived. Also, I thought about making something to eat after the phone call. Only had a snack before I left the house.”
“So, what were you going to make?”
“Not sure, my mum hadn’t cooked. She wasn’t expecting me back so soon.”
“I know where there’s a whole heap of food waiting to be eaten. It was prepared for a certain visitor to my house, who never got a chance to partake of it.”
I looked at Mitch, searching his face for an explanation as to why he was so forgiving towards me.
Then he had that grin back on his face again saying, “You want to return with me to my place to eat?”
“I, umm, uh,” I stuttered. And, he halted my indecision saying, with an even broader grin, “I’ll take that as a yes.”
I nodded my head in response, and at once Mitch pulled out his mobile phone and dialled.
“Vince, can you bring the car back to Marlborough Road?”
“No, I’m bringing a guest with me.” He cut the connection, and put his phone away, “Shawcross will be here in a few minutes. You want to get your shoes and whatever else you need to wear?”
I didn’t move. I was still sitting there staring at him. I wondered how I had let this boy start to organise my life, and yet I didn’t resent it.
“Cobey?” his voice, soft and caring, broke my thoughts, “Are you thinking of changing your mind about accompanying me to my place?”
“Uh no, I was considering phoning my mother,” I lied, “and letting her know where I was going.” I went and picked up the phone to emphasise the point.
I dialled my mother’s mobile and waited for her to answer.
“No, Mum, there’s nothing wrong,” I said when I heard her answer the call, “I phoned to let you know, that I’m going out to Mitch’s house.”
Just then, I heard Mitch say, “Cobey, can I speak to your mother before you hang up?”
“Hold on, Mum, someone wants to speak to you,” and I handed the phone to Mitch.
He apologised to my mother about my being assaulted, and then I heard him saying, “Don’t worry Mrs. Hodson, I’ll escort him home,” and then he returned the phone to me. I made my goodbyes to my mother, not before she again asked if I was alright. I suppose that from the tone of my voice, she knew when to drop the subject.
I put my shoes on and grabbed my coat from the hallway. Mitch asked if he could use our toilet, and I directed him to it.
“Top of the stairs, turn left, and the door directly in front.”
He thanked me and bound up the stairs. While waiting for him, the front doorbell rang. I went and opened it to see my assailant from earlier in the day standing in doorway.
Come in, Mr. Shawcross.” I said, moving to one side and holding the door open, “Mitch won’t be long, he’s just using the toilet."
He walked in and after I’d closed the door, he lifted his hand to my face. I flinched at first, but then he smiled and took my chin gently in his hand. He turned my head, so he could see the side of my face where he’d hit me saying, “I’m sorry for what I did, I over-reacted to your kicking me and behaved like an imbecile.”
“Apology accepted, do you want to sit in the living room, till Mitch finishes?”
“No, I’m okay here. I must say, you’re being extremely nice about my behaviour earlier this afternoon.”
“Holding a grudge is not going to get me anywhere, and you have apologised, so the matter is closed.” Just then, we heard the flush activated, and shortly afterwards Mitch appeared on the landing.
Coming down the stairs and seeing the two of us in the hallway waiting on him, he smiled saying, “I see the two of you have met up again. Shawcross, did you apologise?”
“Yes, he did.” I responded, before the guard could speak. “You ready to go?”
“Whenever you say so,” he said, joining us by the front door.
The three of us left the house. I made sure to double lock the front door, then followed Shawcross and Mitch to the car.
When we reached the car, which was parked a few houses down from our house, Shawcross asked, "Mitchell you want to drive?"
“No, you drive, I’ll sit at the back with Cobey.”
The moment we were seated, Shawcross glided away from the kerb and made for the main road. We had barely gone a couple of hundred metres, when he had to swerve to avoid a car door, suddenly opening in front of him. I hadn’t applied my seat belt and was thrown sideways into Mitch, ending up sprawled over his lap. He helped me to right myself, asking if I was okay. Before I could respond, Shawcross’s voice cut in, “Cobey, put your seatbelt on.” Nodding to Mitch to indicate I was alright, I complied with the driver’s request.
We arrived at Willow Close without any further incident. As we approached the wrought iron gates that loomed like a metal barrier before us, the car slowed, but not all that much, and I became a bit apprehensive. They suddenly swung open when I swear we were no more than fifteen metres away. Shawcross steered the car around the drive and brought it to a standstill under the portico adjacent to the front door.
Thanking Shawcross and saying goodbye to him, I followed Mitch to the entrance.
He didn’t produce a key, instead he placed his hand on a glass panel. A light I presumed to be a laser beam, read his palm and finger prints. Seconds later the door swung open.
The grounds and exterior of the house were impressive, but the inside was just indescribable. As I stood inside the door looking around, Mitch grabbed my arm and propelled me along the hallway to the rooms at the rear of the house.
“You can look around later, let’s go and eat.”
He steered me down the hallway through a huge dining room, then a short passageway, and into a kitchen. The kitchen had just about everything in it, along with a woman who was standing at what can only be described as a cooking range “El Supremo.”
“Hello, Elsie.” Mitch greeted the woman at the cooking range, “This is a classmate of mine, Cobey Hodson.”
Then turning to me, “Cobey, meet Mrs.. Fernbridge, or if she takes a liking to you, its Elsie.”
I went forward and offered my hand, at the same time saying, “Pleased to meet you, Mrs.. Fernbridge.”
“It’s, Elsie!” she said, taking the proffered hand, and she held onto it, staring into my eyes. Reaching out, she took my chin in her other hand and turned my head sideways. “Mitchell.” she called, “Have you seen this boy’s eyes and lashes?”
“Yeah.” I heard Mitch respond from the kitchen table where he’d taken a seat. His eyes twinkling and with that grin back on his face he said, “And so have all the girls in my senior’s class!”
Elsie let go of my face and noticed my blushes. “Don’t feel embarrassed!” she said to me. Propelling me towards the kitchen table, “There’s many women and some men, who’d give their right arm to have eyes and lashes like yours.” She addressed Mitch again, “He’s a bit young to be in the same class as you Mitchell?”
“Yep he’s got brains oozing out of his ears, you know, one of those child prodigy’s.”
“I see,” Elsie said turning her attention to the food on the range. As I took a seat opposite Mitch, Elsie started warming food, and also getting plates and cutlery, which she set before us.
Mitchell Winters looked across the table at the boy seated opposite him. Again he thought about how the boy stirred feelings inside of himself which he thought he’d laid to rest.
For three years, he’d been able to control his true desires, and had even dated the opposite sex. But it had all been a lie. None of his affairs with the girls had lasted more than a few weeks. Now, the green-eyed boy sitting opposite him had awakened those emotions that he’d tried to suppress. The moment they’d confronted each other on the stairs after the tripping incident, he’d fallen in love with the kid. He had let his anger get the better of him at the boy’s refusal to return to the class, so he had hurled an abusive insult at the younger boy.
The way Cobey’s eyes had flashed with suppressed anger at the slur had sent a tingle through his body. Showing no fear, he’d taken the insult thrown at him, and in a controlled voice, turned it to his advantage. The young teen had hurled the same insult back at him with double the venom. He’d just stood there open-mouthed from the exchange, staring at the boy’s retreating back as Cobey walked away, and wondering immediately how he was going to get on the good side of the now departed boy, and win him over as a friend.
Now Cobey Hodson sat in his house, at the same table, the two of them sharing a meal. He dared to feel that he was halfway to his goal.
“A penny for them.” I said, staring across the table at Mitch. I had noticed that he’d been silent for a while, and seemed deep in thought.
As my voice broke his chain of thought, his face quickly broke into a smile as he said, “I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to entertain you, after we’ve eaten.”
I was sure, that wasn’t exactly the truth, but didn’t question his reply. Instead I said, “I assumed, because of your silence, you were thinking of the best way to get rid of me after we’d eaten. But if you still want my company, we can do some maths revision.” I said light-heartedly, knowing that most boys of any age would balk at the idea of maths revision on a Saturday afternoon.
“You must be joking!” Mitch blurted out, “Why would I want to get rid of you, after taking all the trouble to get you here?” I saw his face redden, then he started to bluster. Which at the time I attributed to him daydreaming while in the presence of his guest. “Umm, I mean, uh, umm, after inviting you over,” he corrected himself. “And who would want to do maths revision on a Saturday afternoon?” he finally managed to blurt out.
“So, I can presume, maths revision is a no-no? What do you suggest we do, after we’ve eaten, then?”
“I’ll think of something, that should keep you from being totally bored.” He pushed his plate away, denoting that he’d finished filling his face. “I’m going to grab some strawberry Pavlova, do you want some?”
“Yeah, you bet!”
Mitch removed his plate and took it over to the sink, where Elsie was busy with some vegetables.
“Leave it on the side, I’ll attend to it later. Go and serve your dessert, and don’t overdo it with the helpings!” she said, shooing Mitch away from the sink.
By the time Mitch returned to the table with the Pavlova, I’d finished my food and eagerly awaited the dessert. If there was one thing I could make a pig of myself on, it was strawberry Pavlova!
Our stomachs full, we paid our respects to Elsie and with Mitch in the lead, we made our way out of the kitchen and back towards the main entrance. Once there, we climbed the stairs to the first floor. On the way up, Mitch informed me there were seven bedrooms on that floor. We climbed another flight of stairs to the second floor.
I asked, “Why don’t you have your bedroom on the first floor?”
“Because my brother and sister visit at least once a month and bring their families with them. It’s absolute chaos, when their broods are yelling and screaming for attention. Up here, I have the whole of the second floor to myself and relative peace.” Grabbing my arm and propelling me towards the first door he said, “Let me show you around,” as he pulled me into the room.
I didn’t know where to look first! The room was huge! It must have been two rooms knocked into one! To the left of the door, the room stretched out to a wood panelled wall, and a three-piece suite faced the wall. There were also speakers and other fittings that I didn’t recognize, having no idea what they were for. Directly in front of us, the window took up nearly half the adjacent wall. A desk and chair with a monitor, stood in front of the window. The monitor must have been nearly thirty-six inches across and looked like a touch screen PC. A pool table, and a rack of cues, took up the remaining space to the right side of the room.
Each section of the room had ample space around all the furnishings, so no area was cramped for space.
“This is the entertainment room.” Mitch said, as I stood gazing around, dumbstruck at the sheer lavishness of everything.
“Come on, we’ll be back here later,” and he led me along the passageway to another door, which he opened. I followed him in.
“My bedroom.” he said, walking over to the bed and collapsing on it. This room, like the other, appeared to be two rooms knocked into one. The bed was huge. I guess you could get six of me into it. From the bed, Mitch pointed to another door, saying that’s the en suite, and the other door is a walk-in wardrobe.
I won’t go into details of what else was in it, but you name it, Mitch had it!
Lying on the bed with his hands behind his head, he watched me looking around the room. Then after a few minutes, getting up, he said, “You seen enough?”
I didn’t answer, just nodded my head. “Okay then, let’s go back to the other room.”
Outside in the passageway, I pointed to two other doors, “What are those rooms for?”
“That one,” he said, indicating the door nearest to the bedroom, “is my study, where I do all my school work. The other, is a guest room for my friends, who stay overnight.”
Back in the entertainment room, Mitch looked at his watch saying, “We can catch the second half of the afternoon match!”
I froze and remained where I was by the doorway, not following Mitch into the room.
Noticing that I had not responded to his remark, Mitch turned and saw the look of anxiety on my face. Concerned he asked, “What’s up, Cobey?”
“I don’t want to watch any football!” I managed to get out, at the same time shaking my head vigorously.
“I don’t!” I yelled, as my nervousness got the better of me. “Can I go now?” I pleaded.
He came over and grabbed my shoulders. “Cobey, lighten up,” Mitch said, his voice soft and reassuring, “If you don’t want to watch the match, we won’t. Come on, you don’t have to go home,” and I let him lead me over to the settee and take a seat.
We sat in silence for a bit, then his voice softly enquiring, “You, okay?”
I looked at him, smiled and nodded.
“You want to talk about it?”
I hesitated, and words seemed to get stuck in my throat.
“You don’t have to, let’s drop the subject. You want to shoot some pool?”
“It brings back too many painful memories, watching football!” I managed to blurt out.
“I’m sorry.” Mitch responded. Looking concerned, “You okay now?”
“Yep.” Then, deciding to relate my reason for not wanting to watch the match, I said, “I haven’t watched a match or kicked a ball, since my dad died.”
Mitch remained silent, watching me. I think he was nervous about interrupting me, in case I clammed up again.
“You see, when I watched a match, it wasn’t just me sitting on my own. In fact, I never sat on my own when we watched football. My dad would always make room for me, and I would sit between his legs, leaning my back against his body. His arms would wrap around me, and I would revel in the feelings of love emanating from him. After my dad died, the first time I tried to watch a match, I just broke down and cried. I switched the television off, and since then I’ve never wanted to watch a game again.”
I finished my explanation and waited for Mitch to say something. He seemed to think for a while, then as if he’d made his mind up, he said,
“Cobey, do you trust me?”
“Okay, stand up!” he said, which I did. He sat straighter on the settee, took hold of me, turned me around and pulled me downwards to place me between his legs. His arms encircled me as he gently drew me back to rest against his body.