by Andrew Foote
THUMP THUMP bump bump bump, THUMP, bump bump, THUMP THUMP, bump bump, THUMP……
"Fucking-hell Callum? Is this what it sounded like when you got it to run?"
"Yeah, well until the sodding thing went ape-shit on me!"
"Yes well we figured out why that happened.
That sight glass was there as a warning. If the oil level went above the line, you were supposed to drain it off, not fill the fucker up!
Poor old engine was being fed an unlimited supply of engine oil to burn!"
Is it doing what it's supposed to do? I mean it sounds like a heap of crap but at least it's running…… sort of."
"It's trying to.
See that meter? It's showing that the voltage is sitting at one hundred and ninety, a bit on the low side and that meter there is telling us that she's kicking out a little over three kVA which would seem about par for the course.
Now if I could but work out how to stop the engine, we could trace the wiring and see where it goes.
Have you ever noticed any wall sockets or bulb holders anywhere?"
"Yep. There's a light fitting right above your head, loads in the room next door and a few wall sockets, and maybe try turning the fuel cock off if you want to kill the motor!"
Do we have any bulbs?"
"Are you having a laugh?"
"Okay. More expense then."
"Yeah but not that much? A pack of batteries cost over three quid, how much is a bulb?"
"I dunno but we'll need at least two. One for out here and one next door."
"Getting to the light fittings in there'll be a bitch. They're really high up and we don't have a step ladder."
"Okay. We'll take a hike to the recycling place and see if we can't pick up an old table lamp or something."
"Or get one of the boys to knock off a new one?"
" NO! This is a one off expense. If we can't find a freebee then we'll fucking-well buy one!"
I thought for a moment.
"There is one other option? I could go back to Solihull and fetch one back from home?"
"Could do I suppose, but considering the cost of train fares, it's probably cheaper to buy one locally."
"Hadn't thought of that. It might be something to think about for the future though? We could make a list of things we could use and if they're back at home, it would make the trip cost-effective. I reckon my mother owes me massively, so I don't have a problem with taking stuff from the house.
Anyway, I'm going down to the pound shop and get us a couple of light bulbs, fancy walking with me?"
It was Saturday and with no need for precautions, Callum and I squeezed through the hole in the wall and out into the alley.
One of the things with him was, around me he was never lost for conversation and as we walked, he was babbling on about nothing in particular so remembering something, I shut him up.
"Shhh! Wait up a bit!"
"What's up? Anything the matter?"
"Not exactly the matter but something could be better."
"Such as this!"
I leaned across and took his hand in mine and smiling into his rather shocked eyes said
"Come on then? We've got light bulbs to buy!"
Callum tried unsuccessfully to pull his hand away.
"But…… Ed, we can't be seen like this!"
"Why not? What's so wrong about us holding hands?"
"It's gay, that's what's wrong!"
"So…… you're straight all of a sudden then?"
"Em, no? But what about you!"
"Let me think for a moment.
I'm holding the hand of the most beautiful person that has ever entered my life, and not only that, I couldn't give a fuck what people wanna make of it."
"Oh God what?"
"I think I'm going to cry!"
"For fuck's sake don't do that or you'll have Pip racing around the corner accusing me of molesting you!"
"Hahahaha!! Thank you Mr Edward Anderson!
"You're welcome, Mr Callum Lee!"
The Pound shop provided us with what we needed and then some. Low energy bulbs, a cheapo table lamp, a pack of batteries and a pair of thick rubber gloves and all for a fiver.
We ambled back, not bothering taking to the side streets so taking the opportunity to window-shop, all the time holding hands and, wanna know something?
No one so much as gave us a second glance!
We walked further up the street than we usually did, stopping off to buy a bag of sherbet pips from an Indian sweet shop before finding the far entrance to our alley, and it was here I wanted to make Callum's dream a reality.
As was his habit, he was rabbiting on nineteen to the dozen, obviously happy as he had his fingers intertwined with mine and swinging our arms forward and back in time with our footsteps.
I made my move and spinning him around and with all the finesse of a sexed up rhino, I leaned into him and found his lips with mine.
Okay…… very Barbara Cartland, but I think my world stopped turning momentarily.
I felt clumsy and awkward yet completely and utterly at ease with what I was doing.
Callum stiffened up then relaxed into me returning my kiss.
We eventually separated, our eyes misted over.
We held hands and cuddled, that was until we heard someone clear their throat.
"And about time too!"
We both spun around to see Pip smiling at us.
"Sorry, but if you don't want to be seen then may I suggest you find somewhere a little less public?"
Callum was caught completely on the back foot.
Didn't you hear me? I said, and I quote, about time too! You guys have been mooning over each other since like forever! It was inevitable, written in the stars or whatever! I'm very happy for both of you as will the others once you tell them!
Anyway, let's get home 'cos I've got a surprise for you"
Pip was animated!
"My best scam ever and I didn't even have to lie although I did say that the engine was called a Bollinger!"
"Oh right. The Champagne of heavy oil engines then!"
"Shut it Ed!
Anyway, someone I know works for Brocks, you know, the firework people?
So anyhow, I told him about our genny and the need for something to warm the fuel.
I was thinking that maybe some of that paper stuff you set a match at that sort of fizzes before a firework goes off might do, but he had a better idea, a slow-burn fuse like the ones they use for big display jobbies. Half an inch will smoulder for like twenty seconds he reckons, so he managed to get hold of about twelve inches of the stuff."
"Sounds as if it might work but to prove the point, we'll have to let the engine cool right down first.
For now, we can fit the bulbs and later when the engines running, we can swing the isolator, check to make sure the wiring doesn't catch fire then see if we've got lighting."
Callum took the bulbs out of the bag and fitted one to the table lamp and the other to the overhead light socket before pulling out the rubber gloves.
"I meant to ask you at the time, but why did you get these?"
If I swing the isolator only to find that somethings shorted out inside, it'll send me flying so they'll stop that from happening."
"All of a sudden I don't feel so confident! First you tell me the place might go up in a cloud of smoke and second, you might kill yourself.
Do we really wanna do this?"
"Yes, sure we do! Everything ought to be fine. The wiring is fairly modern twin and earth and the isolator looks to be alright, I mean if I had a screwdriver I could open it up and take a look, but as I haven't, we'll just have to trust to luck and a pair of Marigolds."
"How come you know about all this stuff Ed?"
"I read a lot, plus we were taught the basics at school but that doesn't make me an expert, just very conscious of safety I suppose."
Pip stood up and stretched.
"I'm going into town and take a look around that market. Want to join me?"
Callum grabbed his coat.
"Yeah, sounds like a plan? How about you Ed?"
"Um, no I don't think so. I want to go through this manual again so if it's all the same to you, I think I'll stay here."
"Yeah, okay. We won't be gone that long."
"Don't worry Ed, I'll keep your boyfriend out of mischief!"
"Pip? Please don't take the piss?
I never said he was my boyfriend?"
"Whatever. Laterz Ed."
"Yeah, laterz guys."
Half an hour later and finding it difficult to concentrate on the instruction manual, found me sipping coffee at Ronny's.
It was quiet, no taxis parked up in the street, and no other customers so Ronny and I fell into conversation.
"You look a bit down in the dumps Ed? Is everything alright?"
"Yes and no. Yes, in as much as we've found this old generator and surprise, surprise, we managed to get it running but no, 'cos I feel very guilty over summat."
"Do you wanna talk about it?"
"The generator or my guilt?"
"Both if you want but as this generator sounds like good news, why not tackle what's eating at you first."
"Not much to say to be honest. I said something hurtful to Callum and now I feel really bad about it. I wasn't totally honest with him and he deserved better."
"So you lied to him, is that it?"
"No…… I didn't exactly lie to him, I was caught on the hop and didn't have time to think of a proper response, and so what I came out with, I dunno, cut him to the quick I guess."
"You like him a lot, huh?"
"Yeah, yeah I do."
"So where is he now?"
"Gone to the German market with Pip."
"Okay? So now's your chance to think of that proper response and when he gets back, put it to him and apologise for being thoughtless. If he's a true friend, he'll forgive you."
So what's with this generator then?"
"We found this genny, well Callum found it really. It's old like ancient-type old, definitely pre-war and between us we got it to run, so with a bit of luck we can use it to give us a bit of light."
"Petrol or diesel?"
"Neither. It's a heavy oil motor, whatever that's supposed to mean. We're using diesel at the present but Callum had it running on engine oil the one time."
"I've heard about them. They'll run on just about any flammable fuel oil so whatever you do, don't go nicking diesel 'cos I can give you as much oil as you can use."
"Wow! I mean thanks but how come?"
"Got a deep fat fryer and the oil has to be changed every three or four days. Some bloke comes and takes the old stuff away for recycling into biofuel but I get nothing from him, so you're welcome to take as much as you like.
You'll have to filter it to get shot of any solids like bits of batter and the like, an old pair of ladies tights are good for doing that, otherwise you just chuck it in and job's a good-un."
"Ronny? You're a mate!"
"Forget it Ed. Honestly, you're very welcome.
Now, have you decided what you're going to say to Callum?"
"So shall we go see if this taper caper works then?"
"Yes if you want."
"I want, but you don't seem too keen? It could be the answer to our prayers?"
Okay let's do it, and if it works and if the electric's okay, I wanna talk to you. Well I wanna talk to you anyway but first things first yeah?"
THUMP, bump, bump, THUMP THUMP, bump, bump, bump…… THUMP, bump, bump……
"Fucking-hell. Second bloody kick!
You gonna try the electrics?"
"Yep. Pass me those gloves will you?"
"Yeah and then I'm going to stand well back. I don't like messing with stuff I don't understand."
"It's me doing the messing so stop being such a wimp!
Just keep an eye on that volt meter and tell me if it dips."
I took a deep breath and briefly wondering if it might be my last, tuned the isolator to its 'ON' position.
No blinding flash, no smoke so far as I could tell so I shouted down the passageway to Callum.
"What do you mean by anything?
"The volt meter never moved then?"
"Nah, not even a twitch.
Hang on a mo…… yeah, somethings happened.
The light's come on!"
"What? All by itself like on?"
"Don't be a dick? I turned the fucker on!"
"Pfff! Thank God for that!
Let's go see if the wall sockets are okay."
There were four in total, two on each wall and having sniffed at them, then touching them in case they were getting hot, I crossed fingers and toes and turned on the table lamp.
" YES!!!!! WE HAVE LIFT-OFF!!!!"
I sat down beside the lamp, picked up our current storybook and flicked through the pages.
More than good enough!
Callum came running over and high-fived me.
"What a fucking RESULT!"
"Pretty damn awesome! Let's leave the genny to run 'cos we need to talk."
"But not here, let's go into next doors yard 'cos what I want to say is private."
"Lead on then."
"I was horrible to you earlier and I want to say sorry."
"When was that?"
"Don't be a twatt all your life? When Pip said he'd keep you out of mischief."
"So I remember that but how were you horrible?"
"He referred to you as my boyfriend and I put him down, put you down."
"Yeah, well Pip sometimes opens his mouth before putting his brain in gear. I wouldn't worry about it."
"But I do worry about it, damn it? Will you promise you'll just listen to me for a moment?"
"Sure, but…… "
"Look, he implied that we were an item and I denied it!"
"No you didn't? You said you never said I was your boyfriend and you haven't, so where's your problem Ed?"
"My problem is…… I wanted to but I couldn't! You said you were in love with me, I took the initiative and held your hand, I even kissed you so why can't I just cut the bullshit and admit it? You're the most amazing, lovely, beautiful person I've ever known and I WANT THE WORLD TO KNOW!!"
Oh God, oh God! Callum stepped forward and putting one arm around my waste and his other hand on the back of my head, pulled me into him and kissed me deeply. We opened up to each other and kissed and kissed until I thought I'd cum in my pants, but then he pulled away slightly and giggled.
"And if you go shouting it out fit to wake the dead, then it won't just be the whole world in the loop, it'll be the entire fucking universe!
Come on boyfriend! Let's go spread the word around, shall we?"
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