by Camy Sussex
I shuddered as I came; cum lubricating our stomachs, gluing tangled brown pubes to blonde.
"Thank you," I muttered, shyly. At eighteen I was nothing if not polite. The intense joy I'd felt during the poppers-inspired sex and blinding orgasm was fast fading, and I couldn't stop the wellspring of guilt rising up to take its place. I rolled over, away from his lips and face, until I was nose to the wall.
The guilt was illogical. I knew it, but it wasn't something I could control: I felt it, and it caused me to cringe, and want to run. The bed creaked, the duvet rustling as he leant over and switched on the light.
"Is that it, Kip?" Though he spoke mildly, he sounded annoyed, which I supposed was fair enough.
"Umm ... yeah … sorry." I winced at the 'sorry'. It was such a feeble thing to say, and so damn English. "I'm sorry ... I've ... I've got to go."
The thing was, I was trapped between him and the wall, and I was beginning to suspect he'd planned it that way.
"I thought we were going out to dinner and a movie." The annoyance was gone from his voice, replaced by amusement. I felt the heel of his hand land feather-light on my coccyx; almost stopped breathing when his fingers slid around my arse and gently took hold of my bollocks. He squeezed ever so gently. "I thought we were going to get it on again."
"Umm...." I heard myself gulp. I rolled over and found myself looking straight into his eyes. Steel-grey. They were beautiful, as was he. But I wasn't gay. Not. Absolutely and definitely not. It was a mistake, all a stupid mistake. I blinked as I felt my emotions begin to take over, and glanced away: which was hard, since he was right next to me, his body touching mine.
"Ah, you remember my name, Kip." Sardonic, I wasn't used to - at least from him.
The theatre was big, old, and one of the many that line London's Shaftesbury Avenue. It took in two-act situation comedies. Inoffensive fluff that appealed to 'day-trippers', and the 'once-a-year-dinner-and-theatre' crowd.
One of my mother's friends, an actress, had taken me under her wing and arranged a job by 'pulling strings' at the very top. Consequently it made me somewhat unpopular at the very bottom, which is where I started.
I was taken on as 'third' electrician. There were only three of us. Ron, an 'old boy' who had started in vaudeville and delegated with an iron fist from his tiny cubby-hole office, was 'first'. 'Second' was Mike, a chap in his mid-twenties who seemed much older and was seldom there, as he covered several theatres; and me: the kid. I loved it, and once I'd learnt to run the lighting cues and had been supervised for a couple of shows, I was pretty much left to my own devices.
A week later I got to meet Gerry and Myers, the fly-men. They worked above me in the fly tower: pulling on ropes that brought the large painted scenic flats in and out. Their's was a private fiefdom only accessible by a long ladder from the platform behind the lighting desk. Ron introduced us, and then publicly told me not to bother them. They smiled, but didn't object, so I left them alone, though we'd nod to each other if our paths crossed. I didn't care, as I was told they thought little of us.
A month after I arrived, the play closed and the theatre went dark for a fortnight. The next day I was called into the office: Ron sitting behind his desk; Mike lolling on the small comfy chair in the corner.
"Kip, I've got a problem," Ron said, coughing as he lit his roll-up. "I need you to find the key to the grid." He picked up his mug of tea and took a slurp.
"The key to the grid," I said. "What's that, and where should I look?"
"You don't know what the key to the grid is?" Mike's eyebrows rose in astonishment. Ron coughed again; pulled out an old handkerchief and wiped his mouth.
"Umm … so where should I look?" I said, then had a brainwave. "Where was it last?"
"That's the thing, Kip," Mike replied. "We're not sure. We only need it when the theatre's dark. You could try the fly-men."
"Right," I said, "but I thought that …."
"Na, they're okay," Mike interrupted. "We don't have dealings 'cause we're electrics, and they're flys." Mike said. "Different departments, ya see. But over something important like the key to the grid, we co-operate." I nodded in understanding.
I climbed the ladder for the first time, and at the top knocked. Murmured conversation came to an abrupt halt. There was some scuffling and a thud.
"Yeah?" Gerry said, peering down at me. "What can we do for you, Sprog?"
"I need to find the key to the grid," I said, not happy at my nickname. He looked at me blankly, then smiled and glanced away.
"Here, Myers, the Sprog's been sent to find the key to the grid." A second later Myers' face appeared beside Gerry's. He was grinning.
"Key to the grid, huh? Sorry, Sprog, we don't have it. But you could try the stage door at the Queen's."
"Thanks, and my name's not 'Sprog', it's Kip," I said, and shot down the ladder.
The stage door at the Queen's didn't have the key either. The doorman took me to see the chief electrician, who wished me luck, patted me on the back, and suggested I try the Lyric. I had no luck there, or at The Palace or The Cambridge. Eventually, after being sent to several other theatres, I arrived at the stage door of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and rang the bell.
"Yes?" said a wizened old man who was obviously someone's great-grandparent.
"Sorry to disturb you," I said, worried he might keel over, "but I'm trying to find the key to the grid." Rheumy eyes looked me over: he coughed, then beckoned me in.
"New, are you?" He shut the door and ushered me into his cubbyhole. It was cozily cramped, with two old armchairs, a table, and a kettle for tea. He made me a cup while I sat down and explained who I was, and the theatre I was from. Then he sat down too, and patted me on the knee.
"Ron can be a bit of a bastard, Ron can, son," he said, adding: "Biscuit?"
"Yes, please," I replied, confused.
"The key to the grid, eh, Kip?" he mused with a twinkle in his eyes. "The thing is, son, there is no key to the grid."
"No key …." I petered off. He laughed, kindly.
"No, no key. It's a joke, see? An initiation gag for new blokes."
I lost a smidgeon of my naivety that day, and suffered through Ron's and Mike's good-natured ribbing for the next couple of weeks. Then a new show came in and rehearsals started. Slowly, I began to be accepted by those who thought I'd been born with a silver spoon and handed my job on a plate. Unlike Ron and Mike, who were stalwart union men, and didn't lift a finger to help anyone in a different department, I did what I could to help out. When my duties permitted I carried scenery, made lots of tea, helped paint, and gradually got to know the two fly-men.
Gerry was Irish, from the south, and had a beautifully lyrical accent. Nearly every time I talked to him he seemed distracted: as if he weren't actually there. But Myers had told me he was a poet, so I put his demeanour down to his muse.
Myers was another kettle of fish entirely. At first he came across as a bit of a smart alec, but once you got him talking, his gentler nature shone through. He and Gerry were good friends, and well suited to each other, though they still wouldn't let me hang out with them up in their eyrie in the grid, and they still called me 'Sprog', no matter how much I objected.
Myers was twenty-one, and once we'd got to know one another we found we had one thing in common. Boarding school. We both knew the 'rules', but this was the real world: not school, and neither of us was sure of the other, though he had a lot more confidence than I did. A few days into rehearsals he passed me in the corridor on the way to the tea room, and we bumped shoulders. I didn't think anything of it until he snapped his fingers. From then on every time we passed each other we'd bump shoulders, and he'd snap his fingers. Then, a week later he accidentally tripped me. As I fell he caught me around the waist and lifted me back to my feet, his hands straying across my crotch. After he let me go I glared at him, which got me a double finger snap and a face-splitting grin.
We worked long, long hours during rehearsals. The lighting crew was just the three of us, and when Mike was away at other theatres, just two. Of course, Ron, the chief, the one in charge, couldn't run the lighting board. So it was that at the end of a double run-through on the Wednesday before the Friday opening, I was totally shattered, and lying on the old couch on the lighting platform, asleep.
We'd been sent home by the stage manager a while before, but I'd missed the last tube home, and decided to sleep there.
A thump woke me up, and I opened an eye to see Myers standing at the bottom of the fly ladder, watching me. Most of the lights were off, and in the near dark he seemed to be wearing a quizzical expression.
"You okay, Sprog?" He didn't move, just stood by the ladder waiting for a reply. I yawned.
"For the hundredth time, it's Kip," I yawned again, "and no, I'm bloody tired and was asleep."
"Oh." He watched me without moving, and with a heartfelt groan I swung my legs around and sat up.
"What? You're weirding me out, here." He smiled, and I suddenly realised that he was actually rather cute. "Where's Gerry?"
"He went at lunch."
"Oh, so you're ...." He walked over and sat down next to me, his hair disheveled, the pupils in his eyes tiny as pinpoints.
"Yeah, I was asleep, too. Didn't realise you were here, or that you snored."
"I do not!" I almost pouted, then thought better of it. It was an old trick from school to wind up your friends, and I wasn't going to fall for it. "I don't snore ... you were probably dreaming."
My mind was giving me a whole slew of incredibly mixed signals, and looking at Myers in this new light I found I was hard as a rock. I gulped, not knowing how I should interpret what I was feeling, or what I should do.
He was three years older than me. At eighteen, less than a year out of school, three years is a lifetime. I was straight: he acted straight, yet unlike everyone else in the theatre he'd been to boarding school: he knew what went on, and I saw it in his eyes. I swallowed again, and he gave me a feral grin.
His grin turned into a belly laugh. "This is real life, Kip. I'll play games if you'd like, but you know as well as I do 'what'!"
Slowly, with trepidation, I nodded.
I hadn't ever had to shave, and his stubble was the first I'd ever felt, rasping against my cheek. He wrapped his arms around me.
"Oh God, Kip, you're beautiful," he said, as his hands snaked into the back of my jeans and pulled my sweat shirt and t-shirt over my head, together. He pushed me back on the couch, leant in and gently nibbled my nipple. I hissed in surprise, the sensation making my erection hurt. "And what have we here, then?" His hand ran across my crotch: kneading, making me hiss again.
"I ... umm," I managed, realising my hands were as busy as his. "I ...." He groaned and pushed me away before standing up and ripping his shirt open. Buttons pinged across the floor and my jaw dropped open.
"Want to fuck?" Reality slapped me in the face. God, did I, and hell, no damn way.
"NO!" I leapt to my feet. "I fucking don't."
Messing about at school was one thing; it was expected: but I was straight.
I'd lost my cherry over the summer holidays with a girl at the beach, and it had been ... it had been. 'Wow! The best night of your life, Kip,' my best friend had said, when I'd told him the gory details. Laughing, I'd agreed. So I was straight, I was straight, but perhaps I needed one fling to get 'it' out of my system.
His grey eyes held me in a trance. I was shaking with emotion, and so close to letting raw passion take control that the line I walked was almost nonexistent. It was like the gunfight at the OK Corral. Five paces apart, we stared at each other.
Then my legs moved of their own volition, and I was in his arms. Bare chest to bare chest, and four hands a-roamin'. Yee Ha!
I don't remember how we got naked, or where the blanket came from, but I remember the emotion. He was taller than me, but only by a little: so we cuddled together quite well. And his scent! His scent was so intensely erotic ... so 'him' ... and his hair, shoulder length and blonde, matched his ... well, they matched; and his mouth; his lips ... Christ, I could wax lyrical for pages, and probably persuade the saints into coming back for a night with him.
Sex? Yes. But no fucking. I was straight ...! And I came and I came and I came.
"Got a spare t-shirt, Kip?" He woke me up with a nudge.
"Hmm ... yeah, in my bag I think. Over there." I pointed, then bleary-eyed, looked at my watch. "Fuck!" I leapt up just as the house lights came on and the sounds of footsteps echoed off the stage below. Myers and I looked at each other and started to giggle.
It was Tuesday in the second month of the run. I was sitting in the lighting gantry, which was set some twenty feet above the stage. I'd come in well before time to practice my cues, and I'd thought I was the only person backstage, when I heard a door slam. Then voices from the stage below. I peered over the railing. It was Myers and a be-leathered character who looked like a Hell's Angel.
"You owe, so pay," the bloke in the biker leathers said, his voice rough, his attitude more so. "Otherwise, nothing."
"Gerry's not here yet." I thought I could hear an undercurrent of panic in Myers' voice. The biker took a step forward and grabbed Myers by the balls.
"There are several …."
I coughed. They flew apart, and Myers looked up, straight at me.
"Kip!" His voice was almost falsetto. "What are you doing there?"
"Practicing cues," I said. "And you?" At that moment Gerry arrived, looking flustered, and the three of them went off, Myers giving me a baleful look over his shoulder.
An hour later I was going through the cues for the third time when I heard someone walk up behind me.
"What did you hear, Kip?" Myers asked. His hands landed on my shoulders and began massaging.
"Umm … nothing, why?" I flexed my shoulders with pleasure; then his fingers closed around my collar bone and pinched hard. I yelped.
"Yes, you did, mate. So give, what did you hear?"
"Nothing, you stupid fucker," I said, driving my elbow back into his balls. He doubled up and gave me a look that almost made me laugh: admiration. He probably could have flattened me. Instead he grunted as I helped him to his feet and sat him down on the couch. "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil: no fucky fucky," I murmured in his ear.
It didn't take me long to realise I was seeing a lot more of Myers than I ever had before. He spent time with me that he used to spend with Gerry, though he didn't suggest repeating the experience we'd had.
I bought new clothes, and a pair of cowboy boots that were similar to his - or so he said, with a quirk of his eyebrow and a glint in his eyes. Before I knew what I was doing, I was tarting myself when he was around, and dreaming of him in bed at night.
I persuaded myself it was a phase … which assuaged the guilt, but didn't help with the laundry.
Then he was gone.
I'd climbed the ladder for pre-performance coffee to find two new fly-men, on loan from another theatre that was dark.
"Where are Myers and Gerry?"
"No idea, son," the older one said. "Are you the elex that runs the board?"
"Yeah. I'm Kip." I held out my hand. With a glance at his colleague, the man took it.
"Right ... I'm Jim and this is Bob."
"And you've no ide ...."
"No idea." Bob interrupted, firmly, shaking his head. "Sorry."
I tried Myer's cell phone, but the number was unobtainable.
Nobody could or would tell me anything. Even the doorman knew nothing, or so he said: though he looked embarrassed and wouldn't meet my eye. Ron, who had once or twice seen me 'display', and who had taken me aside and told me in the strictest terms not to speak to either of the fly-men again, was tight-lipped, disapproving, and flatly refused to help.
I was desolate, and felt the onset of tears prickling behind my eyes. I didn't know what else to do other than call my father and ask for help, but I knew he'd want to know the details, and I couldn't talk about that with anybody.
I was mooching around under the stage when I came across Mike in the storeroom, taking a stock check.
"Have you seen ...." He leapt to his feet and shoved me back against the wall.
"Queer!" he spat, his whole face twisted in disgust. "Fucking queer! Those two fly-men were just the fucking pits, but you!" He prodded me in the chest. "You I actually thought better of: you public school ponce!"
I was so shocked, I was almost unaware that I hit him. The 'whoosh' of expelled breath as my fist connected solidly with his solar plexus was almost comedic, though my knuckles complained bitterly. Mike crumpled to the ground, groaning. I stood over him, blinking, while I regained my sanity.
"I'm straight, you bigoted bastard." I stopped myself kicking him, and walked away down the corridor, before turning abruptly round and going back. He'd shuffled across the floor and was sitting with his back to the wall. His expression was priceless when he saw me.
"So, where are they?"
"What!?" It was the last thing I was expecting. "What for!?"
"You heard! And good riddance to bad rubbish."
"Yeah. Brave, aren't you?" I sighed, then held out my hand. He slapped it away.
"I'll get you sacked!" He looked up, triumphantly.
"Yeah, sure you will, Mike. The union just loves bigots. Not .... Oh, and by the way. You do know who my parents are, don't you?" I walked away without looking back, hoping my bluff would work.
Boarding school isn't cheap and my parents were rich, were the thoughts foremost in my mind when I arrived at the police station, thinking about bail.
The lobby acted as a virtual crim-lock. I was buzzed into it, alongside an older man with greying hair and a military bearing. We had to wait, presumably so they could check we weren't carrying a semi-automatic nuclear missile, until we were buzzed through into a reception area. I sped up and reached the enquiry desk first.
"I believe a friend of mine has been arrested." The policeman, who didn't look a lot older than I was, glanced up.
"Kip Beaumont." I heard a sharp intake of breath behind me, while the policeman picked up a clipboard, licked his thumb, and turned the top sheet over.
"No." He looked at me, his face kind. "No Kip Beaumont in custody, sir."
"Oh, no. S ... sorry." I stammered. "My name is Kip Beaumont. I'm asking about Myers Melville." I felt a tap on my shoulder.
"So ... you are Kip." It was the grey-haired man I'd come in with. I turned and saw a set of steel-grey eyes looking at me with disfavour.
"He's in court in the morning," the policeman said. "No visitors."
"I'm his father," the man said mildly, "and I want to see my son. Now."
I fled, if you can call standing in the crim-lock for thirty seconds under the scrutiny of Myers' father and the bewildered policeman "fleeing". That's what it felt like, anyway.
I got back to the theatre in time to run the show, and afterwards I went home. Home to my parents, who had no idea of the raging storm howling around inside my head.
The next morning I went and sat in the public gallery at court, listening to both Myers and Gerry plead guilty to possession of class 'A' narcotics. They were fined and released. I watched from the balcony, hidden, as Myers meekly left the court with his father; watched from the stairway as they got into a cab and pulled out into the early afternoon traffic.
I sat down on a bench outside, the sun trying but failing to warm me up, tears yet again threatening.
"Hey, Sprog." Startled, I looked up to see Gerry standing in front of me, his expression one of understanding.
"Hi, Gerry," I managed, trying desperately not to cry, and failing miserably. "I thought ... I thought ...." Gerry sat down and slung his arm around my shoulders.
"That we'd be goin' t' jail?" He laughed, his Irish accent lyrical as always. "Na, kiddo. We wuz just stupid, gettin' set up and caught the way we were."
"I didn't know ...."
"He didn't want you to, Kip." I smiled in thanks for his use of my name, and he squeezed my shoulders in response.
"I don't understan' meself, but you've caught yourself a good un'."
"Caught?" I fell silent. Hopeful.
"Yeah." Gerry paused. The traffic was almost stationary, and a overweight man on a scooter looked at us balefully from under his helmet. Gerry coughed. "As I said, I don't understan'. But he says he ...." He took a deep breath, removed his arm, and looked at me. "He told me to tell you that he loves you."
"Myers?" I uttered. Gerry rolled his eyes.
"Na, Kip. Arnold Schwarzenegger!"
"I ... oh ... ah, yeah!?" As it sank in, I leapt to my feet. "He loves me!" I cried at the top of my voice. Gerry covered his face with his hands, whilst the man on the scooter wobbled dangerously and shook his fist at me. I stuck my tongue out at him and jumped on top of the bench. "MYERS LOVES ME! MYERS LOVES ME!"
We shuddered as we came; cum lubricating our stomachs, gluing tangled brown pubes to blonde.
"Wow," I whispered in his ear, still shyly. At nineteen I was nothing if not polite, as he kept telling me. The intense joy I'd felt during sex and the wonderful orgasm was morphing into a warm post-orgasmic bliss. I smiled, remembering the guilt that used to take its place. I rolled over, away from his lips and face until I was nose to the wall, then reached under the mattress for the jewellery box I'd hidden there earlier.
The bed creaked, the duvet rustling as he leant over and switched on the light.
"Is that it, Kip? Wow? Nothing more?"
"Umm ... yeah … sorry." I rolled my eyes as he chuckled. I always apologised, always said 'sorry' no matter how hard I tried not to. Some things would probably never change. "I'm sorry but I've got to ...."
"Go?" He interrupted, chuckling: playing the game. "And the movie and dinner?"
I felt the heel of his hand land feather-light on my coccyx; almost stopped breathing when his fingers slid around my arse and gently took hold of my bollocks. He squeezed ever so gently. "I thought we were going to get it on again."
"Umm...." I heard myself gulp. I rolled over and found myself looking straight into his steel-grey eyes. Beautiful as always, as was he. I smiled. I was gay, and it wasn't a mistake. I blinked as I felt my emotions take over, swiftly bussed him on the nose, then glanced away.
"Ah, you still remember my name, Kip," he said, his eyebrow arched. Sardonic I was used to, and I loved him for it.
"Let me finish, for goodness sake!"
The bed springs creaked some more as we got comfortable. "What, then?" He raised an eyebrow. I brought out the box and handed it to him. He propped himself up on an elbow and opened it. "Oh ... they're beautiful." I heard awe and love; watched him take one of the rings out and slide it on my finger, then offer me the box. I put the ring on his finger, and bussed him gently on the forehead.
"I love you, Myers Melville … I love you so much."
"And I love you, Kip Beaumont, I love you, too."
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