Where Do I Fit In?
by Andrew Foote
Throughout this story real organisations and real people are mentioned by name. Their place in the tale is in the author's imagination. No thoughts, words or deeds attributed to those people or organisations are real, nor have they ever happened. This is a story! It's fiction. The people and organisations, even when they interact with the characters, are presented in an entirely imagined and fictitious manner, and no discourtesy is intended to them by the author nor by the web site.
The remainder of our summer holiday sped past. My father's normal 'hands-off' attitude towards me changed to one of active interest in what we were doing sometimes meeting us at the pool to watch our training which, by the way, was still being supervised by Alec but gave up offering us a lift as we always jogged there.
We swapped houses as was the original plan but Wednesday's was always 'family time', even Jo usually stayed in although sometimes Simon would come and join us and stay overnight.
Wow! My parents becoming 'liberal'! Well so what! They've been together for what, two and a half years? Jo and Simon, not my parents!
No, they were great evenings all of us together and looking back, they were perhaps the most treasured part of my adolescence as we'd at last started to function as a close family.
Mine and Lucas's 'relationship' was never a subject of discussion but I did sit down one time and talk to Jo about it and although I felt very embarrassed at the time, as I expected, she was brilliant!
"Oh please Andy? What do you think is floating around between my ears, canal water?
I can see how you feel about each other! The way you react together isn't all down to your training? You're so very close that actually, I envy you! You were meant to meet, your sporting endeavours aside. You are as one person so it's no wonder you love each other!"
"You're not mad with me then?"
"Not even for a moment. Just be happy in your own skin."
"Mum and Dad? What about them?"
"Well, if you'd asked me a month ago I would've said that they were an unknown quantity but now? I think they know how it is between you guys and they're just waiting for you to find the right time to have the courage of your convictions to face up to it and tell them. I'll be there for you. I completely understand and I'll back you no matter what happens."
"You think so? Well maybe I've been too occupied with this and that to even think about how they might view stuff but even so, I'm not ready to face them yet. They'll just have to stew for a while longer."
"Well just so as you know, I'll be ready to back you and Lucas whenever you decide to open up to them. I won't go saying anything to anybody and that includes Simon although like me, I think he has his suspicions."
"I don't have a problem with you telling Simon? You guys really shouldn't have secrets between you."
"I'm not saying it's really like a secret. I mean if he was to ask me outright then I couldn't and wouldn't lie to him but I'd probably tell him that it wasn't up for discussion and such issues were for you to deal with rather than me. He'd read between the lines, of course he would but then he'd understand enough to keep his council."
The decision had been taken to keep me at my old school where Lucas would also be attending. This was in part due to the SCGB being unable to find a suitably qualified gymnastics coach. There were people out there who could've taken us on but since the Olympics and how well Team GB had performed, there had been a sudden surge of interest in sports in general and gymnastics in particular and as Mr Coughlan pointed out, we weren't going to require the full training program they needed, ours was a mixture of that plus diving tuition so ours would have to have been a completely separate program and there simply wasn't anyone with the time to coach us which effectively put the lid on us getting into a sports academy.
I don't know if I was disappointed or not. I had no great ties to Ashmead, it was an 'okay' school I suppose so leaving there wouldn't like come as a massive loss but the frustration of coming this far only for our progress to be stalled so needlessly was.
The first day of term rolled around and finding ourselves in our homeroom, our year head poked her head around the door.
"Mr Pope? Mr Carmichael? Come with me please."
Of course the cries went up "Whoo-hoo! Got yourselves into bother this early? That has to be a record!" but Mrs Harris cut them one of her looks which shut them up quick enough.
"They're not 'in bother' as you put it. The Headmaster needs to see them on a personal matter so settle down all of you!"
As we walked down the corridor, she briefly explained what was happening.
"Mr Fairbairn needs to talk to you both, something about sports and PE. I'm not in possession of all the facts but as your year head, I'll be sitting in on this meeting together with Mr Rogers."
Mr Rogers was the head sports teacher. A formidable guy standing at around 6' 5" and weighing in at about sixteen stone of pure muscle.
We reached the admin block where Mrs Harris knocked on the door marked 'Head Master', a door that under most circumstances you never wanted to go through as it normally spelt serious trouble!
We entered his study, Mr Rogers was already sitting and looking through a folder. He greeted us with a smile as did Mr Fairbairn.
"Have a seat Mrs Harris, you two boys also. Nice to see you back here Andrew and you must be our new lad from America" he briefly looked at his notes "Lucas Carmichael. Nice to meet you. It seems we are fortunate to have both of you here this term. It would appear that you haven't been idling away you holiday unlike most of the students here. Well done."
Mr Rogers handed back the folder before Mr Fairbairn continued.
"I have received a letter together with an extraordinary amount of detail regarding a training program you're undertaking. Mr Rogers is better qualified to understand this and will no doubt be talking to you about it in a few moments but first to the letter.
It is from the Sports Council of Great Britain and comes by way of a request that you are suspended from all school sporting activities until further notice. Now under most normal circumstances this would be impossible as we're under a legal obligation to provide and ensure all students take part in a set number of hour's physical education. There are of course exceptions to this, principally doctor's instructions, illness or injury but it's the first time I've come across this type of thing but having read through all the detail both Mr Rogers and I can understand the reasoning behind this request and naturally we will abide by their wishes. I also understand that you have special dietary requirements. Is that so?"
I answered for both of us.
"Yes Sir. A light breakfast, a heavy lunch, a light tea and a massive supper."
"Lunch might cause something of a problem unless your parents can provide it so you can eat it here. We can't expect the kitchen staff to provide what you need specially."
"No Sir, we have brought it with us just for that reason."
"Okay then, I also understand that during those PE sessions you'll be missing, you'll be doing training over at the Leisure Centre with your personal coach. Obviously I don't have to remind you that you will be in school uniform and as such you will be expected to deport yourselves in a manner that maintains the schools high reputation."
Before I had the chance to answer, surprisingly Mr Rogers jumped to our defence.
"Looking at all this data Head Master, it is my belief that given the training program Andrew and Lucas are undertaking, which in itself demands a very high level of commitment and personal discipline, I think we can rest assured that their behaviour out of school will definitely not be an issue."
"Then I'll bow to your greater understanding of these matters Mr Rogers. Do you need to talk to them about their program?"
"Please. I need to fully understand what they're up against, their schedule and so forth so if we as a school can help in anyway, and at least we'll have a better idea as to where we might be able to be of assistance."
"Yes. Quite so. I'll hand over to you and I can just listen in."
Mr Rogers patted the file he's earlier placed on the desk.
"Now there's a phenomenal amount of information here, too much to absorb in just one sitting but it's very clear that people are taking your potential very seriously. It first of all mentions that apart from Wednesday's you train at Christchurch twice a day. Is that correct?"
Lucas found his voice.
"Yes Sir. During recess we were at the pool for 6.30am until 8.30am then again by 6.30pm until whatever time our coaches felt it necessary but now with us being back in school, the morning session will be brought forward to 6am until 8."
"That's a lot of work. Presumably you get a lift both ways?"
"No Sir. Normally we jog it. Especially in the morning, it helps limber us up!"
"You……..jog there and back. I see." He raised his eyebrows in disbelief. "And what does your morning workout consist of?"
"Half an hour or so of circuit training then an endurance swim which began with us doing half a mile but now we do a mile if time permits."
"And the evening? What happens then?"
"A pretty intense workout lasting around an hour of back to back exercises then Mr Coughlan takes over for sensory techniques, self-timing and diving coaching."
"I see. Do you enjoy it?"
In unison we both answered!
Mr Rogers laughed!
"Remarkable don't you think Head Master?"
"Yes and this is the boy who hates sports!"
"Only football and rugby Sir?"
"Point taken Andrew. Point taken! Is there anything else Mr Rogers?"
"Just one other thing? Technically it isn't anything to do with the school but that said, I'd be very interested in seeing you at work. Do you think Mr McBride or Mr Coughlan would have any objection to me turning up at some of your sessions? You two boys as well, if you'd rather I wasn't there then fine."
Lucas and I looked at each other but no words were exchanged. I answered for both of us.
"No Sir. We neither of us have a problem with that also I think both Alec and Liam would welcome your interest." I giggled "I hope you like early starts though?"
Mr Rogers smiled then winked at us.
"Well……..I'll maybe turn up for a couple but I don't expect to make a habit of it! I'm definitely more of an evening person!"
The remainder of the day went smoothly enough. Basically it was just a matter of reviewing our timetable, the distribution of books and for me, introducing Lucas to everyone I knew. Of course there were those who had already met him at the river including Paul, Loraine and Alan-the-bully but even he looked pleased to see him and actively engaged him in conversation during which time Loraine approached me.
"God Andy, he's just delicious!"
I smiled at her.
"Delicious maybe but also spoken for I'm afraid!"
"Oh damn and he's so well-mannered with it! Why is it all the blokes round here are such immature arseholes Andy? I mean you and Lucas aside?"
"Paul isn't? He's one of the good guys! Now if you wanted a boy who would treat you like a lady then there he is!"
"Yes I guess so but he isn't like the best looking is he?"
"I dunno? Not that I'm an expert but he looks okay to me but then, looks isn't what you were after. You wanted a boy who would respect you, treat you nicely instead of constantly trying to get into your knickers. What if he were to ask you for a date, would you accept?"
"Umm……..yeah. Given what you've said, I probably would. At least he doesn't seem to have ten pairs of hands all of them doing what they shouldn't but I'll bet he won't ask me out. It's my own stupid fault. Hey I know I'm pretty but I've blocked so many boys it's as if I've sent out signals like I'm unavailable or something. Andy I'm lonely. I really want a boyfriend but someone I can get to know rather than always fighting off their advances. Do you really think he's okay? I mean he isn't Mr Universe or anything, he's sort of cute actually!"
"I've known Paul almost all my life. What you see is what you get. No pretences, no bullshit. He's really down-to-earth I promise you! Not only that? He almost worships the ground you walk on so he'd never in a million years step over the line. Damn it Loraine? He'd be too shit-scared of losing you!"
"Well let's see if he can pluck up the courage to ask me out. Such a shame you're not available Andy? I mean you're not just fab looking, you're a hunk!"
"What? I mean........I mean…….."
"Lucas isn't available therefore neither are you, you idiot! Ah c'mon? It's as plane as the nose on your face! You love him don't you?"
I was completely floored and it took a while for me to regain composure then hastily looking around in the hope no one else had overheard I whispered "Oh God Lor? Am I that transparent?"
"No? I've always liked you, you were different, always the nice guy so then when I saw you two down at our beach, well that sealed the deal! Don't worry! I'm not going to say a word to anyone! Actually I'm happy for you if slightly envious! Now I suppose you're about to talk to Paul?"
"Yes well……..that had been my plan. Thanks Lor. You're a superstar!"
"No bother Andy!" and then she kissed me on the cheek "Go sort out my love life. Yours is already in the bag!"
I wandered over to where Paul was talking to a couple of the others and beckoned him to come and have a chat with me.
"Wassup Andy? You and Loraine seemed like you were as thick as thieves?"
"Yeah well she's a good mate and one who needs the arm of a nice guy. Nothing more than that"
"You're a good guy so you and her? An item already?"
"No mate, She's just a really lovely person and one you might want to get closer to that's all."
"Me and Loraine? Oh piss-off Andy? She's turned away much better, much better looking guys than me? I'll bet she's never so much as given me a second look!"
"Ever tried testing that theory? No, I'll bet not! Go and ask her for a date? For fuck's sake Paul? What's the worst that can happen? She might turn you down but then……..you won't know until you try will you?"
"Well……..you're not setting me up for a fool are you?"
"Oh please? Since when have we ever done something like that? We grew up in nappies together. We've always been friends and setting your friend up is something we just don't do! Go and find Lor and ask her out why don't you! Be a man!"
He shrugged his shoulders then walked away in Lorain's direction. I did try not to make too obvious but I peeked a glance and noticed the pair of them sitting together on the grass laughing and smiling. 'Sorted' I thought. 'Now maybe Lucas won't be so paranoid!' I also felt happy that despite my own doubts that still lingered in my mind about my own situation, I had at least given them both the chance of finding each other. I never knew Loraine was lonely, that thought had never even crossed my mind as I always believed that such a looker as she would be already taken but it just goes to show, we kids no nothing and our reluctance to talk about that sort of thing just serves to make matter's more difficult. I or should I say 'we' as in Lucas and myself had enough talking to do but……..at the tender age of twelve? It could wait. I went to find him.
I walked across the playground and was met by Alan Saunders, the kid who'd tried to deck me at the river but instead of giving me the evil-eye bumped fists with me.
"Mind if I tag along Andy? You taught me a lesson the other day and one I won't forget in a hurry. Look, I'm sorry for being such a twat? My dad told me that one day I'd come across someone who would be more than a match for me but I never thought it would be you!"
"Yeah well, things happen don't they. I reckon it's a better life to make friends with people, not frighten the crap out of them? You and your little band of followers were never going to win in the popularity stakes were you? Everyone was scared you'd pick on them but no one actually liked you. I'll bet a penny to a quid, you go around being the Mr Nice Guy you know you can be and BINGO! Alan James Saunders. The most popular guy in year seven!"
"Ha-ha! It's worth a try I suppose! Anyway what's with all this fitness thing?"
"We……..I mean Lucas and I are in training to become dive partners, you know, like Tom Daily and what's his name."
"Oh, high board stuff an' all. Wow! Good on you! See you come the next Olympics then!"
"Ah c'mon?? Club level maybe county perhaps?"
"Whatever. You look good on it at least. Talk about stacking on the weight!"
"Hardly surprising considering the amount of food we have to plough our way through every day. Take a look this lunchtime and what you will see isn't even our main meal! We have that just before we go to bed after our evening training session. My sister reckons it's an obscene amount of food but we need it to give us the energy we need plus any excess weight is turned into muscle mass so we're not like fat or anything."
"Is that why I damaged my hand when I tried to punch you then? Muscle?"
"Yep. Look I'm sorry about your hand but…….."
"What's to be sorry about? No one else's fault but mine but I have to say I was impressed! I'm like two years older than you, around nine inches taller so by rights I held all the cards. Anyway I gotta go. See you around."
Training that evening took on a different dimension because instead of it all being about general fitness and workouts, an element of basic gymnastics was introduced. We'd done stuff like the pommel horse and of course handstands but now we progressed to floor exercises and parallel bars. Simple routines on paper but we both had to do them in time with each other which made things more complicated but obviously our sensory and timing training was paying off because just before we went poolside to meet Mr Coughlan, Alec showed us the video of it.
"Alright so it isn't spot on but considering tonight was your first attempt, it's very creditable. No, actually it was really good! I'm really proud of you!"
Lucas asked the question that had also been on my mind.
"Alec? I'm not trying to be funny but are okay with teaching us this stuff? I mean you said that your qualifications meant that you couldn't take us any further?"
"No, no! I'm alright doing this, it's just that when it comes down to more intensive and rigorous workouts, given you age I'm not allowed to help you. Now if you were like eighteen or nineteen and had stopped growing then that would be a different matter. There's a very fine dividing line between maintaining, even increasing your fitness and the risk of damaging joints that are still maturing, muscles, tendons and so on. This is why you need someone who's used to training kids such as yourselves.
There are legal reasons as well. The SCGB have you insured against injury caused through your training and so if I were to push you along and you damaged yourself, no insurance company on the planet would cough up simply because of my grading. Now that would leave the SCGB to stump up serious amounts of cash because of their 'duty of care' towards you and they're not exactly overflowing with funds plus the likelihood of me ever working in this industry again would be slim. That's why we stick to the rules and regulations the way we do. Don't worry. We'll find you a coach!
You better get to the pool. See you in the morning!"
Mr Coughlan was waiting for us.
"Nice work boys. I sneaked in and watched what you were doing so what I propose is this. First I want you to do six lengths of the pool, front crawl please and then we will continue the theme of gymnastics but this time off the diving platforms. It's time to show me what you are capable of. Off you go!"
We swam our lengths in earnest in order to get diving a fast as we could. I was astounded at how much faster I had become but that was a side benefit as far as I was concerned. It's all about diving now.
"Right. Up to the five metre table and once you're up there I'll tell you what I want you guys to do."
First it was just a straight dive but all the time counting to keep pace with each other. Then pikes and swallows and finally he asked us to perform our straight dive but this time we were told to pull our knees to our chests, count to two and release.
OMG! What a sensation! I had no idea whether I was upside down, vertical, horizontal or what but we both entered the water simultaneously with a single 'SPLOOSH' then the silence of deep water blocked all senses.
We broke surface together to a small round of applause. All I could see was Mr Coughlan clapping then looking up into the viewing gallery, I could see two other men also clapping but they were too far away for me to recognise.
We hoisted ourselves up on the side, Mr Coughlan was positively beaming!
"So good! That was excellently executed! You really have got what it takes boys and I'm really proud to be your coach!"
Lucas made the reply.
"It's all down to you and Alec Sir. No way could we have got this far without you."
"We could've worked with two boys who didn't show the commitment you have and it would've come to nothing. You really do have potential and by the way, call me Liam not 'Sir', this man is 'Sir'!"
We looked up to see Mr Rogers standing in front of us together with an older man who looked to be in his sixties. Mr Rogers seemed lost for words for a moment.
"Well……..well I'll be……..damned! I never thought I'd see the day when two pupils at a school I was teaching in would blossom into truly remarkable athletes! I've seen all your training videos including tonight's and as Liam just informed me, I've also just witnessed your first ever formation dive! Absolutely fantastic! I really couldn't fault it but then I'm not an expert but for a first attempt?" He looked at Mr Coughlan for backup.
"Yes. Truly remarkable! These boys have a future, of that I'm absolutely convinced. Oh, and there's something else. I'd like you to meet Peter Burrows. He's a retired five level gymnastics coach and if you have no objections, Mr Rogers together with Peter and Alec will be supervising your gym work in the future. Okay with you?"
To say we were excited doesn't come close!
"Oh fantastic! Thank you all very much! Oh WOW!" I turned to Mr Rogers. "Doesn't this mean extra work for you Sir?"
Beaming at us both still, he replied, "this isn't work, this is pure pleasure! I've got to be totally honest with you, I've never had cause to notice you in the past Andrew. You kept your head down and did was required of you and Lucas? Well, as you're new to the school, you're an unknown quantity but to have an opportunity to work alongside you is a chance I can't walk away from but we must set ground rules.
In school we have to maintain standards so you must refer to me as Mr Rogers or Sir but outside of school, I'm Tony and also you must refer to Peter as Peter. Liam also agrees with me because we have to work together, there can be no dominant influence, this is all about you and your future as athletes. We will all be working with you, not as teachers but as part of a team. Do you understand?"
"Yes Sir……..I mean yes Tony. Oh God this is going to be difficult!"
"Well, I can understand that but never the less, please relax and give it your best shot!
Tomorrow I'll be talking with Mr Fairbairn to see how the school might be of assistance to you but for now, unless Liam has something else he needs from you?" he looked at Mr Coughlan who shook his head, "then go and get changed and get off home and no Andy. I'm not a fan of early starts but I'll get used to them soon enough!"
We changed and made our way home, this time to Lucas's house.
His room was rather bigger than mine and had enough room for a second bed but there wasn't one which set me thinking.
"I'm really surprised that we don't have separate beds? Alright, in my room there's no space for one but here? Loads of room."
"Is that what you want? A bed all to yourself?"
"No of course not! It's just I thought your parents would…….."
"They never even mentioned it as an option. I reckon your folks suspect and you can guarantee mine most certainly do. Just act like it's the most natural thing in the world and you'll be fine."
"Is it though? Natural?"
"For me it is, yes but you're obviously still uncommitted aren't you!"
"No. I mean yes I am committed but I'm still really fucked up about coming out. The thought of it scares the shit out of me."
"Sorry Andy, I didn't mean to snap at you and I do understand where you're at but think on it. Who have you told already? How easy was it?"
"Only Jo. Oh wait. I also said something to Loraine! Well actually she sort of guessed really so I just didn't deny it."
"So? Did you die of embarrassment? Crap your pants or were you cool with it."
"Pretty relaxed now you come to mention it! She said that you were like gorgeous so I said yes you were but that you were already spoken for. She figured out the rest for herself and no, I know she won't go around blabbing her mouth off or at least that what she promised. You read in the news about kids being bullied 'cos they're gay, some even killing themselves so I hope she sticks to her word."
"Who the fuck's going to bully you? Look at you! You're built like a brick outhouse! You've already proved your worth with that Alan kid. The word will soon get around that it isn't a good idea to mess with you and if we're together then doubly so! Lighten up Andy?"
"I know your right but that doesn't stop me from worrying."
"Just take it one day at a time is all and talking of which? Tomorrow we're gotten ourselves an even earlier start so we ought to think about heading to bed."
We lay in each other's arms, the room dark save a rather romantic silvery glow cast by the full moon and unable to drop off to sleep, I looked up at Lucas's face. He was also wide awake and he smiled at me as he made his dick twitch. I smiled back at him then ran my hand down his side causing him to shudder in anticipation. He moved away from me giving me access to his erection which I took hold of and gently started stroking it.
He then moved his hand a little and looking at me, questions in his eyes which I acknowledged with a simple "Yes."
He snaked his hand down and took hold of me for the very first time. I was quivering with anticipation, I needed this, I needed him to do this for me, his touch so gentle, so soft and so erotic I honestly thought I was going to blow my cork right there and then but he just held my dick in his hand as I calmed down. He leaned in and kissed me, a kiss which I eagerly returned reigniting the fires burning in our souls as we tenderly brought each other to climax. It was a good thing we were passionately kissing or I think our moaning would've woken the dead but finally we came down from our post-orgasmic high, cuddled up closely and drifted into oblivion.
We woke to the sound of the alarm. We hadn't moved the entire night and both of us were sporting very stiff erections but knew that to cecum to the temptation of staying in bed with each other wasn't a good idea. This morning both Mr Rogers and Mr Burrows together with Alec and Liam would be waiting for us and the last thing we needed was to arrive late so we dressed, made our way silently down stairs, the normal glass of fresh fruit juice and jogged to the pool. The weather had turned a bit mucky with a light drizzle in place of the warm sunshine so we were pleased to see that the pool was already open for us although no one other than the pool staff were there. The head attendant greeted us and said everything was okay to use so we made our way to the locker room and got changed.
We had just finished changing when there was a knock on the door.
"Can I come through you two?"
We recognised the voice of Mr Rogers.
"Sure Sir. Come on in."
He walked into the room then pretending to bollock us said, "I thought I told you to call me Tony? 'Sir' can wait around for about the next three hours! How are you both? Ready for some work?"
"Fine thanks……..Tony. We're ready and waiting!"
"Good stuff. Now Peter and Alec are waiting for you in the gym and as you have a full school day ahead of you, as per normal it'll be light floor exercises and a swim. All of us agree that as you run here, there's little point in any serious running or anything along those lines. The need for you to improve your gymnastics is of most importance here and so with that, coupled with Liam's dive coaching, we hope to be able to get you to where, short term, we believe you can be. Any questions?"
I have to admit that I felt somewhat uncomfortable in calling our school Head of Sports by his first name, fortunately Lucas had no such qualms.
"Just the one Tony? Where exactly is this 'point which you believe we can get to'?"
"So no one has told you? Right! There are inter-club competitions on the horizon and the idea is that you boys compete in those and then, depending on how you do, you might be entered into a regional gala. These range from the three county's competition to a Southern County meet in Southampton in late October."
"October?? We're not halfway ready for competition let alone at County level? You have to be joking right?"
"No I'm not joking Lucas. We, and by that I mean those on your team who have worked with you then I wish to include myself and Peter, believe that given your astounding progress to date, with work, you could do very well at that level. It isn't going to be a walk-over, there are couples who are pretty good, more from Liam on that score but there's also a need to get you used to a competition atmosphere. There's one thing being confident when there's no audience but it's completely different when there are perhaps a few thousand poolside and maybe millions watching you live on TV. The pressure is huge! Make no mistake, you will need your sports psychologists before too long. Now let's get to it!!"
Peter's main theme was one of concentration, to try and block from our minds all outside interference and focus purely of each other, our moves and again our timing. To achieve this he played music, got everyone in the gym to talk, tell jokes, laugh and basically to make a bit of a racket in order to disrupt our thinking. At first we found it almost impossible to ignore. Our routines were slapdash, our timing so out of kilter it was as if we'd regressed back to those early days of training but Peter didn't seem that bothered and gave us some tips to help us step away from everything that was happening around us.
"What I'd like you to do is take up your positions again but instead of launching yourselves into your routine straight away, take each other by the hand, think only about your partner, where he is in relation to you, what he's wearing, what he looks like, his hair style, his mannerisms and so on then on my whistle, release hands and do the routine in the normal way. You don't mind holding hands do you? You like each other enough to do that I assume?"
Both of us giggled nervously! Considering what we'd been holding the previous night, hands wouldn't be a problem!
"Okay then. Take your positions and now, in your own time touch hands and concentrate."
It was a very weird sensation. Instantly it was as if somebody had turned the volume control right down. The only presence in the room was Lucas. I could almost hear him thinking, his spirit invading my senses but then somewhere in the background we heard the whistle and releasing hands we began the routine. We raced across the mat, handstands, somersaults, and backflips to the other side finishing with a double somersault and landing on our feet with a single 'thud'.
We opened our eyes and noticed all the noise of earlier had abated, our coaches just staring at us in disbelief. For a moment I thought Peter was crying. He wasn't but he was rather emotional.
"If someone had told me earlier that you were already capable of something so complicated as that, I would've told them to seek professional help. Boys I don't quite know what to say except that was nothing short of amazing! No judge would've marked you down, I am honestly lost for words! Your timing was absolutely perfect, the moves immaculately executed and that landing? Dear God! It was as if you were mirror images of each other! I suggest you go and have your swim. Tony, Alec, Liam and I have a lot to talk about."
That evening when we arrived at the pool someone else had joined the party, a woman, very smartly dressed in a mauve business suit and white blouse was introduced to us as Dr Lauren Patterson, a sports psychologist employed by the SCGB although why she was there remained a mystery.
As usual we were put through our paces, normal exercises and routines then through to the pool for more diving instruction and practice.
It was earlier than normal when Liam called for us to get showered and changed and meet him back in the gym.
In the middle of the floor were two tables and two chairs separated by a partition and on each of the tables was a cardboard box. Dr Patterson greeted us.
"Hello boys. Now I guess you're wondering why I'm here and what all this is all about. Well I want to conduct a simple experiment, nothing strenuous I can assure you but neither can I tell you its purpose, well not tonight anyway!
What I'd like you to do is each of you sit at one of the desks and empty the contents of the box in front of you."
We took our places and looking inside the box were an assortment of different coloured wooden bricks, the sort of thing little kids played with. The partition meant that Lucas and I couldn't see each other except the backs of the chairs.
"Now what I want you to do is randomly take each of the bricks, some with your left hand, some with your right and use all of them to build a structure. I don't mind what order they come in or what you build. Place them in a circle, build a pyramid, a wall, anything you like. There's no time limit, this isn't a race so do it as you wish but as soon as you're finished I want you to knock them all down, mix them up and wait for me to explain the next experiment to you. I'm recording what goes on. I hope that's okay with you?
Right then. Off you go!"
Ten minutes later both of us were busy knocking down what we'd built and mixing the bricks around.
"Good. Thank you boys. Now I want you to do exactly the same again but before you start I want you to hold hands like you did this morning and concentrate on nothing but each other in exactly the same way you did before that very fine floor routine then when I ask you to release, go ahead and build something.
Okay. Now close your eyes, hold hands and think of nothing else other than your partner. Focus your minds on each other at the exclusion of all else."
Again that weird sensation of being perfectly in tune with each other's thoughts and emotions almost as if an electrical charge was passing between us.
"Release hands and begin."
Again, ten minutes later we were destroying our structures then looked at Dr Patterson for the next move but she simply smiled at us and asked us to put the bricks back in the box, we were finished and could go home.
Not that we were aware of it at the time but after we left for home Dr Patterson had a meeting with Alec, Peter, Liam and Tony in the office.
"I'm going to take the video of those experiments back with me and copy them to as many people as I can think of. This has to undergo some weighty analysis by those with a greater understanding than me but if you could find time to visit my office sometime tomorrow, I think it's important you look at it. There's a possibility you've hit on a catalyst that is so unique, I've never before come across it.
I would prefer it if you said nothing to the boys for now. I realise they're not in a school environment but they're still young and I don't need for them to get worried or concerned that they might be different to anybody else so while I know there should be complete openness and transparency within their team, just play dumb for now. We'll make a decision about how we handle everything once I've more information.
One last question? Why did you get those lads to touch hands before that floor routine Peter?"
"It sometimes helps to concentrate the mind. Letting your partner know you're there. It is a method I've tried before and just on occasions we see an improvement, sometimes not but with all the promise Lucas and Andy show? I'd try anything in order to be able to raise the bar."
"You might just have discovered the Midas Touch Liam. Can well all do say 12.30 at my office tomorrow?"
"Okay gentlemen. I ran a little experiment last night. A very simple experiment that I hoped would demonstrate just how 'in tune' they were with each other. I won't go bothering you with detail, you'll see the video, it's self-explanatory but just one thing, at no time could they see what the other was doing"
Apparently she did go on to explain what we were asked to do then ran the tape.
"I'm going to pause it here. What did you notice?"
Liam thought for a moment.
"Well the shape or structure each of them built was the same. Just a wall of bricks. Sometimes they picked up the same coloured bricks but by no means every time."
"Anything else? I'll replay the video and I'd like you to pay special attention to their timing and which hands they used and when."
Dr Patterson took the CD back to the beginning and they watched our first attempt again.
"Now what did you notice?"
Mr Rogers. Sorry 'Tony' spoke up.
"They used the same hand, left or right in the same order almost. Again there were mistakes but still pretty good as was their timing. Slightly off but not too shabby."
"Tony. They made no mistakes! I just asked them to build something with the bricks! They knew the cameras were running but they had no idea why? Maybe they thought I was just some stupid woman with a wooden brick fetish!"
Now I'm going to scare the……..shit out of all of you but before I run the video I'd like you to think on these figures.
That first experiment? We worked out a rate of probability that such a result could happen at 37:1 against. So okay? Wouldn't we all like to have odds like that when we do the lottery? Of course we would but the unhappy fact is, we're looking at millions to one against so what they did there was pretty special all things considered.
Now let's continue.
The same rules applied but this time I had them hold hands for ten seconds before they started. Now watch the video and be frightened!"
She ran the tape and by all accounts no one spoke until Dr Patterson, her voice shaking, broke the impasse.
They built the same structure, this time a pyramid. The bricks were picked and placed in the same order and colour. They began working from left to right then on completion of the row working the opposite direction, right to left until the penultimate row when both of them continued to work left to right. They both spaced the bricks apart in exactly the same way so making a simple structure more attractive, little holes to look through but then we turn to their timing and hands.
The same hands at the same time, no variation. Sometimes two bricks with the left, one with the right then three with the right and four with the left, over and over completely in step with each other.
Now……..as if that wasn't enough? Their timing.
Each brick was carefully picked within hundredths of a second apart, placed, hundredths of a second apart but with one……..I want to say 'error' but is wasn't even that! Andrew sneezed but although Lucas had selected a brick, he paused, he waited for Andrew to pick his then together they placed them!
My GOD! How do they do that?
The probability factor is still being worked out for heaven's sake!
I would normally be very concerned but they left here laughing and messing around in just the same manner as any other young lads would do.
Normal, happy and talented boys but with a truly exceptional gift of which they're completely unaware of.
Guys? This has to be kept under wraps until I'm able to get to the bottom of it. I must insist that nothing and I mean NOTHING we've discussed tonight leaves this room!
Tony? If you get the chance, keep an eye on their academic work. I'm led to believe Andrew is an average student at best, Lucas might need some pushing if he's behind having been schooled outside of our UK system. It would be fascinating to know if this……..meeting of minds pays off regarding other areas of their lives."
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