The Bull Singer
"Wow! Would you look at this!" The four boys who made up the Paper Dolls stared at Aunt Millie's fully restored practice mirror and floor while I stood back and watched with my arms folded; they would now be putty in my hands. I had watched them doing their routine but it lacked that special something needed to make them different from just a bunch of kids doing a bit of tap dancing. They needed to stop messing about and practice their routines till they were a perfect copy in movement to each other. I would have said something when I first watched them at lunchtimes in a spare classroom, but then I was nobody; just a smelly, resentful intruder in their school life. Now I was the great nephew of the one woman who could work her magic and show them the joy of the stage; I was now someone they would listen to; the fifth member; the one in the middle; the one an audience always focused on first. I had worked for this position all the years I had danced, and I wasn't going to let it slip away. Now I was going to work some magic of my own. We weren't just the Paper Dolls, although all of them had paper rounds and that was where they got the name from; Mrs Devonshire had chosen us to provide the comedy in the show as well, and that took a lot of practice and dedication to get every move, and every word we uttered, timed to the last second or the comedy would fall flat.
After Jimmy managed to tear the guys away from staring at their reflections, we got down to work and spent from seven o'clock till ten, hammering out our quick fire sketches, and even had Pete join in on the drum machine to add the necessary emphasis to each punch-line, and also to the comic moves, just like in old fashioned music hall acts and pantomimes. Exhausted, we accepted Grandfather's offer of a tea and toast supper then headed back to Home Farm. Within ten minutes of us arriving there, the boys had tossed their sleeping bags wherever they found space between the lounge furniture and were falling asleep. Being the selfless kind of guy, he was, Jimmy made sure the boys were comfortable first before hunting for a space of his own. Finding none, he stood looking round with a lost expression on his face. I tapped him on the arm and beckoned for him to follow me, and led him upstairs. Out on my feet, I pushed a bedroom door open signalled for him to go in. There was a double bed in it so I knew he would be comfortable enough. I just hoped he didn't need tucking in. With my legs already giving way, I used the bathroom, and wondered if I would ever reach my attic bedroom. After washing my hands, I left the bathroom and found Jimmy standing outside his room in just his boxers. Tired as I was, I thought, "Wow, what a body!" He played Football for the school and I had heard he was into Martial Arts; no wonder he was a hunk.
He gave me a shy smile. "So that's where it is! I didn't want to go nosing about just so I can pee." He walked past me into the bathroom and I said, "You could have used the loo in the bedroom. Goodnight." I got as far as the attic stairs and remembered all that had happened in my attic room, with the bitch, and I didn't want to go up there. My legs finally let me down, literally, and I sank down on the bottom step. The events of the last few days had been hard but not physically taxing, so why did I feel so drained? I wasn't ill. Then it hit me; I missed Mags, and seeing Jimmy in his boxers, looking so like Mags in size and with the same blonde hair, I couldn't help wanting Mags to be here. I needed his arms around me, and for him to tell me I was safe; just like last night when Pete and Gramps had comforted me. I felt the need so much, tears welled up in my eyes and I brushed them away with the backs of my hands as Jimmy emerged from the bathroom.
"Hey, buddy! What's wrong?" He hurried over and knelt in front of me. Placing his hands on my shoulders, he bent down to look up into my face. "Are you sick?" I shook my head and tried to hide my tears. He was having none of it. Pulling me to him, he gathered me into a gentle embrace then scooped me up in his arms to carry me into the bedroom.
"Have sex. My boyfriend…"
"Who said anything about sex? You're asleep on your feet, man. What you need is a good sleep." He back-heeled the door shut and carried me to the bed. There, he sat me down and knelt to take off my shoes and socks then helped me off with my sweater and polo shirt.
When he reached for my belt buckle, I pushed his hands away. "I can do the rest."
He stood up and watched me struggle to unfasten my belt with fingers that refused to work; they shook so much. With a sigh of frustration, Jimmy hauled me to my feet and, holding me steady with one hand, he pulled back the covers. Scooping me up once more, he laid me down and had my belt undone in no time. I wanted to protest again but I couldn't find the strength, and by the time he had pulled my jeans off my eyes refused to stay open. When I woke up later, I was aware of a pair of arms holding me close and my head resting on a muscular shoulder. Mags was here after all. I sighed with relief and cuddled into him, and went back to sleep, knowing I was safe.
I woke up with the winter sun shining in my face from a chink in the curtains. I needed to pee, so I stumbled out of bed, used the ensuite then shuffled back to bed trying to rub the sleep from my eyes, and I didn't notice who was in the bed till I pulled the covers over me and turned to face Mags, but it wasn't Mags. I froze, not knowing whether to yell and dive out of bed or…. The gentle smile on Jimmy's face helped me get over my panic. "It's okay, Joey; nothing happened, I promise. You just needed Mags."
I reared up off the pillow. "How did you know?"
Jimmy grinned at me. "You talk in your sleep. You need to be careful who you share a room with. Mind you, it's a good thing I was here; you had a bad dream last night and you almost screamed the place down. You shouted for Mags and I offered myself as a substitute. I calmed you down and hugged you back to sleep." The smile faded. "I hope I did the right thing."
Confused, I said, "I don't remember, but thanks anyway. What do we do now?"
"What do you mean, what do we do?"
I pointed to the door. "If those guys find out we've shared a bed, there'll be trouble."
"No, there won't." Jimmy eased me back down to lie beside him. "They're my mates and they know I'm gay, and they have their own ideas about you. The only problem is, you're only fifteen."
I frowned at him. "So?"
"I've just had my eighteenth birthday so that makes me an adult. I could get into trouble if I did anything with you. So could Mags."
I took a moment to study his face and read the message of pure friendship in his eyes. He'd already told me he was interested, and I recalled my conversation with Mags. "If things work out with Jimmy, I'm not going to raise a stink. I just want you to have fun." His face was only inches away from mine and seemed to be getting closer. I closed my eyes and waited. Seconds later, I felt his lips touch mine; no pressure of an exploring tongue, just an innocent expression of love. Mags had said it was okay with him so, why not? I pressed his lips with mine and felt his right arm encircle my waist, pulling me towards him. I didn't resist, and soon we were chest to chest, hip to hip. I didn't know what Jimmy felt about it but to me this was comfort; but as I put my left arm round his shoulder, our peace was shattered as the bedroom door burst open. Jimmy and I broke apart and I rolled over to find Bernard Reece, our second baritone jerking to a halt three feet from the bed.
"Oh, shit!" Bernard's face reddened. "I might have known." I couldn't read, from his expression, whether he was disgusted or jealous.
"Bernard, I can explain." Jimmy tried to sit up and extricate himself from the covers, but only got them more tangled round his legs.
"Never mind that, "Bernard growled, refusing to look at me. "We got trouble outside. Take a look out of the window if you don't believe me." As if on cue, Bosun's angry bellow saved him having to explain. I shot out of bed and dived to the window, which overlooked Bosun's paddock. I couldn't believe my eyes. Two of the boys were actually in the paddock, waving their coats at Bosun, whose head was sinking on his shoulders. From what Gramps had told me, if Bosun lowered his head it was time to run. I yanked the window up and shouted, "Dave, Ian. Freeze. Don't move. I'm coming down. Jimmy, phone Gramps and get him up here, now."
While Jimmy used his mobile and cursed his mates for being such idiots, I put my jeans and shoes on as fast as I could then grabbed my sweater and struggled into it as I flew down the stairs. The front door was already open, I charged out of the house to find Patrick Jones, standing by the fence egging the two on. I ran to the fence, clipped him on the back of the head to shut him up, and vaulted over it. I landed wrong and felt my left ankle give way. Steeling myself against the pain, I scrambled to my feet and headed towards Bosun. Talking quietly I told the two would-be matadors to back slowly away from the angry beast and get behind me. Once I was between them and Bosun I began to sing. As Gramps had begun to train me, I knew I had to pick a slow, gentle song; the words didn't matter. Bosun was no more than ten yards away from me when he snorted, lowered his head and began to move, and I had half a ton of beef heading straight towards me.
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