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.
Lorain and Paul left shortly before midnight. It was sad to see them go, it would've been nice if they could've stayed but short of letting them use Mum and Dad's room, there was no other alternative but if nothing else, they had become even closer like barnacles on a ship's arse, almost inseparable.
We left the clearing up for the morning and after polishing off the remains of a bottle of wine, Jo and Simon went upstairs shortly followed by Lucas and I.
The mood in the house was downbeat with all of us lost for conversation, Lucas especially was decidedly quiet.
"Oh shit. I've only been back in the country six months and already I'm known to the police.
Andy? What did I do to be so stupid?"
"Stupid? What's stupid about being there for a mate? So you smacked a guy, so fucking what? You know yourself what it's like to face that sort of intimidation? You did all the right things!"
"Yeah but……..not that I was ever any good at it but I did a bit of self-defence back in Texas and it was hammered into us it was just that, self-defence. Never go use your capabilities directly against someone else."
"But that's not what went down! Alright, so it wasn't to defend yourself, it was to defend Loraine, someone much more vulnerable! You should feel good about what you did rather than banging yourself up against a tree over it?"
"We can see that, most everybody else who saw it would but what if the police take a different view? God! My parents would kill me!"
"What if we were to go and explain things to them just in case it goes further? We can drop by your gaff right after training tomorrow, maybe get Jo and Simon to tag along, it was their party after all?"
"You mean like get in first? It could work I guess. Let's sleep on it. I'm tired and I can't think straight."
The next morning before we left for Christchurch, I left a note by the kettle explaining how worried Lucas was and how we'd appreciate it if Jo and Simon could both be there when we faced Lucas's parents. Also, once we'd finished at the pool, we asked Tony if we or rather Lucas could talk with him.
He'd decided that it was about time those on our team were made aware of the circumstances surrounding his abuse, get it all out in the open, clear the air.
Tony was fantastic. Lucas was understandably nervous but never the less managed to get his story across without becoming too emotional.
Tony put his arm around his shoulder.
"That's awful. I can't imagine how you coped especially as the authorities refused to take action. Did you ever receive any counselling?"
"I was never offered any but I know this sounds crazy, I just got on with things. Moving to New York helped a bit, I was away from the prejudices of that part of Texas where everyone seemed to have a warped idea of religious faith, putting their own interpretation on things to justify their own actions and then coming back to England, well I kinda forgot all about it really."
"But you felt it necessary to tell Andy?"
"Well……..yeah. There's another reason for me needing to do that which I'd rather not go into if it's all the same to you."
"No that's okay. I think I know why but it isn't anybody's business except yours.
Would you mind if I had a quiet word with Lauren? I know you say you're over it but just in case you feel the need to talk to someone in the future, this is most definitely her area of expertise and if she already knows some background, it would make her job and yours so much easier."
"No I guess that would be okay. Thanks Tony. I'm pleased you know all about it. Thanks for being such a good listener."
"I'm pleased you trust me enough. That must have been really difficult for you and I appreciate it but as to the immediate problem of the police? I'm not an expert but I really don't believe you've anything to be worried about but if anything does happen, I'll back you as will the school, the SCGB likewise so you'll have some heavy guns on your side! I'll see you tonight and please stop worrying!"
We jogged home to find Jo and Simon waiting for us so well all walked up to the Carmichael's house to face his parents.
We left most of it to Jo with some input from Simon believing it to be better than for us not to appear to be making excuses for Lucas's actions. I don't think his folks were best pleased but what saved the day was a piece of news we hadn't heard before.
"Not only that Mr Carmichael but one of our friends, Daniel Collingwood is the son of the senior officer the Gloucester Police Divisional Headquarters, Superintendent Collingwood. He's had a talk with his father and by all accounts, he is at a complete loss to understand why the matter is still on-going and intends to have words with the officers who were on duty last night so everything can be resolved."
"Well that's something at least. What I can't get my head around son, is why did you hit him the third time breaking his nose? You'd already put him on the floor twice so why keep going at him?"
"Just to make sure I guess. I didn't have time to think. He'd made such horrible threats to Loraine, Dad she's only a dot, twelve years old……..sorry thirteen but even so, he's like twenty! I couldn't risk him getting up again."
"Okay, okay. We'll say no more about it for now. We'll just have to wait and see what happens and take it accordingly but for future reference, there's the use of force and reasonable force. Just keep that in mind, okay?"
We left the house suitably chastened but happier about the support we could expect if everything went tits-up. Lucas seemed especially upbeat.
"I thought he'd throw a loop. He's always been so touchy about the police ever since they kinda skidded around the edges about what happened to me and all. He doesn't trust them, their methods or their impartiality. Maybe he has more faith in the justice system here, I dunno."
Jo was taking a lot of interest in this conversation.
"Am I right in saying that in America the local Chief Police officers are elected?"
"Yeah they are."
"Sooo, it would follow that the people who choose the candidates and subsequently elect them to office might have a vested interest and so only vote for those who would go along with the local doctrine and practices. If that were the case where you lived then you never stood a chance of being heard. Your pastor might've been a sponsor, a supporter of your local police chief and perhaps threats to withdraw funding or whatever might've silenced him."
My Dad used to smoke and he once sent me down to the XY shop, like a convenience store to get him some cigarettes but the guy wouldn't serve me saying I was too young but as I walked in, so there was a kid, much younger than me, leaving the store with a pack of 200 Marlborough under his arm. 'He's family' he told me but he wasn't. He was the son of a big-wig in our town and I wasn't. Connections, connections. Small town attitude, bigotry and prejudice, if your face fitted then fine but we were Brits and seen as outsiders so we moved to San Antonio which was much more……..cosmopolitan……..we didn't stand out from the crowd so much. Shame really, I liked Constance but there you go."
"Well it's all water under the bridge as they say. Everyone who saw what happened will side with you and if Daniel's old man does what he says he'll do and finds out exactly what went on, I think you can forget about it. Anyway, could you two help us to get the place tidied up before Mum and Dad get back or have you other stuff planned?"
Shortly after tea and just as we were about to leave for Christchurch, my parents arrived home. Lorain and Paul were already with us so instead of delaying telling them about the previous evening, we tackled it right there and then.
They listened patiently to our story and especially when Lor almost burst into tears praising Lucas for his bravery coupled with Jo's backup, they were okay about it. Obviously they weren't keen on having the police called to the house and Mum was especially skittish saying how hard it would be to explain to our neighbours but Dad was bullish.
"I don't really care what the bloody neighbours think! A member of our family, and you are just that Lucas, if only by proxy, saved a young girl from……..if not rape but what would've been a serious sexual assault, then he has my vote and damn the consequences!
Go along to your training evening and stop worrying! We'll probably be in bed and asleep by the time you get in, it's been a tiring day so just keep the noise to a minimum okay?"
That little statement from my father really lifted us and the four of us jogged to the Sports Complex, chatting all the way. Interestingly, neither Paul of Lor seemed breathless when we arrived, something both of them commented on.
The usual gym and circuit training whilst Alec put the others through their paces and then 'game time'.
It became very obvious that the more they trained, the bigger the gap they put between us. They were fast and agile before but now? We couldn't keep up with them and Lucas and I had difficulty scoring any points.
After we'd done, Lor and Paul went for a swim while Lucas and I did our diving. Liam had come up with a new routine.
"Right lads? This is what we'll be concentrating on for the next few weeks. Most you've done before but I want to introduce a few variations, subtle changes to make it more interesting.
As you can see from the list, you'll finish with your 'signature' swallow, two barrel-roles, two twists and a somersault but I might decide to make a few changes to that before the night."
Lucas looked confused.
"Before what night?"
"Oh? Didn't I tell you? We want you to compete in a gala at the 2012 Aquatics Centre in London a week next Wednesday. It's a National Club event and we want you to represent all of Gloucestershire clubs as you're the only two who do formation diving. There's an added bonus. They have a fifteen metre table, one of only three in the country so we've reserved the diving pool for your use on the Tuesday so you can get a feel for it."
"Won't that mean us being away from school? Nothing's been sorted out about us missing lessons?"
"Ah well! That's the sneaky bit! The SCGB wouldn't sanction funding of private tuition just for the two of you, too expensive but what if Lorain and Paul were with you? They are after all, training partners so if they were to tag along, job done! Funding is there, you get to dive and none of you miss out on valuable education."
"Do the others know about this?"
"Not as yet. First we have to clear it with their parents and then if they agree, we get Tony to approach the school for passes, the rest is easy."
"This is probably an unfair question but how do you think we'll do?"
"I think you'll do okay. The only things that might keep you out of the medals is your age and inexperience. I know of all the other partners and they're all considerably older than you and they've been competing for a number of years but your biggest assets are your diving skills which, in my opinion, is far and away better than any of theirs.
The thing is, we've got to get you started somewhere, get you used to the competitive atmosphere. Only then will we be able to assess what we need to do in order to help you to prepare mentally so really, it isn't so important how you get on, it's more to help us understand how to move forward."
"We did alright during that demonstration?"
"Very true, you did but it wasn't too important if you fluffed it up that night but it is if it happened during a competition."
"Well we both thought it was just as important that night. I mean it was a home crowd and we were damned if we were going to screw up!"
"Keep that attitude during competition! Maybe we won't have too much to do afterall!"
As we jogged home, all talk was of the gala and the prospect of private tuition. Paul being the cautious member of our group was sceptical.
"Well okay, I can see how it would work when it comes to academic lessons, English, Maths and the like but what about those subjects that have a practical aspect to them such as Chemistry, Physics and Biology? You can't conduct experiments in a hotel room?"
Lorain wasn't about to allow Paul's concerns, however justified, to get in the way.
"Look. Doubtless they've had plenty of experience with other kids so they must have ways of overcoming things like that. I get the impression that they know exactly what they're doing and anyway, we can beg the question when we meet the tutors in London." She punched him playfully on the arm "so stop being so negative boyfriend of mine!"
That night we lay in bed snuggled up close under the duvet. The autumn weather had given way to a chilly taste of winter and my father, not wishing to waste money, wouldn't run the heating overnight so it was left to our body heat to keep us warm, not that either of us were complaining, it was very sensual but it meant that we were both very aroused, even more so than usual!
I ran my hand down Lucas's back and gave his buns a squeeze pulling him into me, our dicks mashing together.
"I want you to……..I mean I need to feel…….I mean I understand if you didn't want to but…….."
"What do you want me to do Andy?"
"I want……..want to feel you inside of me. I want you to……..to fuck me."
"Oh my. That's a big ask. You do realise that it hurts like hell the first time?"
"Yes but then it gets better right? Look I understand if you don't want to, you know after what he did to you?"
"That was all about him, not me. I've never done it before and I might mess up and also, I never want to hurt you, I love you too much to do that!"
"I know you do and that's my point. You could never hurt me intentionally but there has to be a first time and who better to teach me than the boy who really loves me.
I know that if it becomes too painful, you'll stop. I know you'll be gentle with me but I really want you to take my virginity Lucas, I really, really do!"
"Okay. Here's the deal. I told you that I did manage to get a bit of pleasure from 'him', I had to relax or it wouldn't have been bearable but I often wondered how good it might feel if someone who loved me and who I loved were to do it to me. If that sadistic pervert can give me a bit of pleasure then you would be able to take me to heaven and back so in return for helping you experiencing your first ever time, promise me you'll make love to me in return."
"Now this is going to seem very clinical but it's very important that I guide you as best I can so as to minimise the discomfort.
When did you last take a dump?"
"Just before coming to bed and before you ask, I'm clean both inside and out."
"Thanks Andy! Actually it really doesn't matter too much. It's you and I could handle a bit of mess but it will allow both of us to feel more comfortable about things this way.
Do you want me to wear a rubber, skin, condom, Johnnie or whatever?"
"What?? No way! You were checked out in the States and my only experiences have been with you so no! No condoms!"
"Thank you! I was rather hoping……..! I just need to get something from the bathroom. I'll be right back so don't go anyplace!"
Yes it was clinical! Both of us had gone soft but Lucas was only being attentive and I loved him all the more for it but it reminded me of a very old joke told at school.
An Englishman, a Frenchman and a German find themselves sitting together on a long haul flight. The conversation inevitably turns to sex.
'In Germany we arrive home from work and tell our wife to go upstairs and disrobe and while I am waiting, I pour myself a glass of schnapps and read the newspaper then once I am ready I also go upstairs, undress then we make love for precisely twenty minutes and by the end of our love-making, she is so full of passion she rises ten centimetres from the bed. This is the German way!'
Next the Frenchman.
'In France we send flowers home to arrive before the end of the working day.
We arrive with a bottle of Champaign which we take to bed and after undressing my wife using only my teeth, we make beautiful love all night and such is her passion, she rises from the sheets by twenty centimetres. This is the way of Frenchmen!'
The Englishman looked slightly bemused.
'Well fuck me! Never thought of doing that!
The only time me and the Missus get it on is on a Thursday. I go down the pub and play darts, there's normally a lock-in so sixteen pints of larger on board and at 2am I get home and give her a right good seeing-to. Alright it only lasts for like a minute but I climb off her, belch, fart, then wipe my dick on the curtains before throwing up in the toilet.
Ten centimetres? Twenty centimetres? Give me a break!! My old lady hits the fucking roof!!'
I was still giggling at the memory of that joke as Lucas walked back into the room.
"So what's so funny then?"
"Nothing, nothing! I just hope you're French, that's all!"
"French? I'm English for heaven's sake!"
"Oh noooo!! Please be French if only for tonight?"
"What is it with you Andy? One minute you're deadly serious, the next I'm laughing with you but I don't know why?"
By now I'm almost hysterical! First night nerves? A natural release of tension built up over the weeks and months, maybe even my concern over the episode with Lucas and the guy at the barbeque? Who can tell but my laughter turned emotional and I began to cry.
"I'm sorry, I really am. There's this pressure I feel inside and I just had to get rid of it. I'm not unhappy, far from it. Life is great but sometimes it's like we have to always perform at the top of our game and I don't just mean diving, school work has to be better than ever if only to show our parents that we can manage our schedule. I suppose training is another reason. It seems as if we're constantly being pushed to achieve yet higher standards, not just in the water but in the gym. I mean how much further do they think we can go for God 's sake!
It's like tonight, right now. I want you so much but honestly, I'm too tired. I'm so sorry but I need to feel fresh and ready not totally knackered, fit only for a straight eight hours sleep? It just isn't fair!"
"It's okay you know? You're taking a big step and it's only right you should feel relaxed and rested. Believe me, you won't enjoy it if you're all stressed out no matter how much you want me. Andy, we've all the time in the world!"
"Yes but I'm a disappointment to you."
" What!! No way!! What makes you think that? I love you, we live together almost. We've been spotted as a promising talent and we get the best training out there. We now have really good friends to share it with and they're showing their mettle in their own chosen sport so it's like win-win.
I don't want to go messing with your head just because you think it's what I want from you. I have you, I know that cuz I can see it in your eyes, I feel it when we dive, I can almost hear your thoughts so please Andy? Give yourself some space! When the right time comes, we'll both know. We'll probably not even talk about it as we're that connected and close."
I pulled him close and kissed him tenderly.
"Thanks. You're very special and I don't deserve your love."
"That's exactly the way I feel about you.
Come on, let's get some shut-eye huh?"
The following morning was the normal routine of gym and pool work but then Liam called an early halt.
"Nice work lads but now Lauren and Tony want a chat with you so go and get changed and when you're ready, meet them in the office."
We showered and changed in record time then with our bags packed, we made our way to the office where Lauren and Tony were waiting for us.
Tony was the first to speak.
"So how's the new routine? Getting to grips with it okay? You looked very impressive from the little I saw!"
"It's going very well we think but you should ask Liam for his opinion, not ours!"
"Don't worry, we have and he's very pleased with you but there is just one other thing.
You obviously realise that all your training is videoed? Lauren gets to see all of it and she has flagged up a potential problem. Nothing major but something that has to be addressed so I'll hand over to her."
Lauren smiled at us.
"As Tony said, this isn't anything to be too concerned about but my task isn't just to be here to pick up the pieces when something goes wrong but to keep a watchful eye on you, to notice the little things that might potentially escalate into a bigger issue later on. In this instance, I have noticed a change in you Andy. Now had it been you Lucas, I might've understood it what with that incident at the barbecue but Andy, your body language has changed.
Don't misunderstand me, you throw yourself into your training with the same enthusiasm and determination as you always have but it's afterwards, once you've finished. I get the impression that the spring has gone out of your step. Your normal cheery disposition seems to have evaporated. You look tired, almost as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders. How do you feel in yourself?"
"Fine. I love training. I'm definitely at my best when I'm here. My school work has improved beyond anything I could've expected so I don't have any real problems except…….."
"Except? Please tell me Andy?"
"It sounds stupid even to me. I don't even understand why it bothers me."
"But something is bothering you isn't it? If you don't tell me what it is then I can't help you find an answer so no matter how silly you think it is, a problem is a problem and we have to address it."
"I'll try and explain. Training we both love, we can't get enough of it. School is great, I mean I never thought I'd be able to say that but it is. We've got a great circle of friends who are really supportive, we even do our prep together after school. We use one of the old classrooms to study in rather than doing it at home. It works well because we help each other if we have weak points."
Tony chipped in.
"That's very true Lauren. They study well together so much so that we don't even bother to check up on then anymore because we know what we'll find. Fifteen or so twelve and thirteen year-olds working hard and with no messing around."
"That's pretty remarkable in itself but aside from all the positives, there's a problem?"
"Yes well……..it's just that we never seem to have any time to call our own. Training, school, more training, supper and bed. It's like we've forgotten how to relax somehow or if we do remember, we never have the time."
"That isn't silly or stupid Andy. We should take that on board as a serious issue. It's easy for us to forget just how young you are. Your training schedule is on a par with an adults but with the added complication of your schooling.
You see, adult athletes hold down 'so-called' full time jobs but actually it's more like a sponsorship than work. They probably don't do more than a two day week so for them, training can be done during the day so no early starts or late nights. They get 'me-time' whereas you don't."
She looked at Tony.
"I think we should arrange a training camp and not just for Andy and Lucas but also Paul and Lorain. Somewhere away from the normal routine where they can unwind without losing momentum."
"That is a very good idea. Do you have somewhere in mind?"
"Guam. Lovely and warm this time of the year, training facilities we can only dream of in this country and so many activities for the kids to enjoy, it's the perfect solution."
Lucas looked puzzled.
"What or where is Guam?"
"Guam is a little island pretty much slap bang in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean. It's actually an American Protectorate which they used as a fuel stop for bombers flying out of Australia en route to Japan during the Second World War. They've still got a military presence there but these days it's where rich Japanese go for holidays and also they have one of the finest sports complex in the Northern Hemisphere. Their aquatics centre is rated as one of the best in the world and being an American Protectorate, they have fantastic Basketball facilities and coaches so Lorain and Paul will be equally as well served."
"I've never heard of it before."
"Look it up on the internet. Don't bother looking for it in an atlas because it's too small."
"Well? What are your thoughts? If you agree then you're more than welcome to come but we, as in the SCGB, cannot finance it. That has to come from you."
I think my father spoke for all four sets of parents who had gathered at our house.
"I don't believe we have any problems in principal. The kids have worked very hard, better than I could have expected even but the fact remains, this must cost a fortune. Why spend valuable resources on children?"
"Because they are the future of British athletics and because of their age, which I have to say is easily overlooked given their drive and ambition, we have a duty to take care of them which up until now we've been sadly lacking in doing.
Paul and Lorain show so much promise that they are the rising stars of British Basketball so where better place for them to receive top quality help?
The added bonus is that because of their friendship, they can relax together, have the time to do what kids do, study together and enhance the bond. It really doesn't matter that their disciplines differ, right here and now it's about normality and the opportunity to take stock. We owe it to these guys, they have busted a gut, - all of them so let's take care of them."
Gregg took a drink of his beer.
"From our point of view, both the boys have been so disciplined, so determined to achieve not only in their sport but also to prove us all wrong that they wouldn't be able to hack it and keep up at school, I'd say my vote has to be a 'yes'.
I've worked out in Japan and I've seen the way happy young kids turn into little learning machines at a very young age. The system there, backed by parents, takes away their childhood. It's cruel in my opinion and so I think we must give these kids the chance to take a break, continue with all that they're doing but in a more relaxed environment."
My Dad looked around the room.
"Anyone have a different view?"
No one spoke up.
"Okay. So what is the timetable?"
Liam pulled a file from his briefcase.
"We want Andy and Lucas to get their first taste of competition first and that's next Wednesday then we book flights and get away as soon as possible.
The team will comprise of Alec, Lauren and myself plus a medic and a tutor who has yet to be selected.
The kids will fly Business Class, we fly Economy for reasons that must be obvious, they are the reason for us all going. It is also a long journey. Heathrow to Narita, Narita to Guam, total fly time is sixteen hours and the need for sleep during the flights is important to these guys so as to minimise jetlag and make the most of their time there." Liam scanned the paperwork before continuing.
"We have an arrangement with the Apollo Hotel, a four star establishment who are well used to dealing with the special dietary requirements of athletes and the need for their privacy and relaxation. It is also very close to all the training facilities, beaches and centres of entertainment and during their stay, they will be chaperoned to ensure their safety but not in a way that will spoil their enjoyment.
The native population are really good people and sometimes I wonder why they even have a police force but then we have the US military.
No worries there either as they only send seasoned troops to the island and together with their families, I can guarantee our kids will have a fantastic time, free from publicity and hassle."
The meeting dissolved and as everyone left, we stole a four-way hug with Paul and Lorain before heading upstairs to bed.
Yet again sleep overtook us very quickly, neither of us waking before the alarm sounded at 5.30am.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]