A Blush of Boys
by Jolyon Lewes
"OK, sir, six-thirty at the theatre. I won't be late. Goodbye, sir." Malcolm put the telephone down.
"Who was that, darling?" His mother was in the kitchen, making lunch.
"My music teacher, Mum. He wants me to help out at the concert tonight - you know, the two pianists who're coming to the King's Theatre."
"What does helping out mean, darling? Are you going to sell programmes or something?"
"No, Mum. One of the page-turners is sick and Mr Perry has asked me to help out. He wants me to be a page-turner."
"Isn't that quite important, darling? Are you up to it?"
"Well, Mr Perry thinks so. I can read music, you know and I'm quite good on the piano."
"Yes, you are, my poppet and I'm sure you'll be a wonderful page-lifter. Can you stir the gravy, please?"
"Page-turner, Mum. You're confusing it with shirt-lifter! Anyway, Mr Perry wouldn't have asked if he didn't think I could do it. I'm the only boy at school with piano Grade Six and I'll get thirty pounds for doing it!"
Malcolm found himself blushing - he'd used the term 'shirt-lifter' to his mother and hoped she didn't know what it meant. It wouldn't be the last time he'd blush that day. He busied himself stirring the gravy. He was highly regarded by his music master, who thought he'd be a highly competent page-turner and would look good on stage, being a well-proportioned boy, graceful of movement and with the face of an angel. Malcolm's school was providing the second grand piano for the concert as the theatre possessed just the one. Two internationally renowned concert pianists were booked for the evening's show. All tickets had sold and classical music lovers were coming from all over the county and beyond. Each of the pianists had his own page-turner but one had suddenly fallen ill and the school had offered to provide one. Mr Perry had immediately thought of Malcolm.
Living about six miles from town, Malcolm usually went to and from school by bus but this was a Saturday so he had to check the bus times. His parents were out for the evening but there was a bus that would get him to the theatre by six-thirty and his dad would collect him by car after the concert. Malcolm showered and selected some clothes he thought would make him look smart.
He felt rather important entering the theatre by the stage door and asking for Sir Crispin Strange. A flunkey took him straight to the stage, on which the two pianos were placed, either side of a vast flower arrangement. Sir Crispin and his fellow pianist, Gordon Donnelly, were getting used to the feel of their keyboards and ordering small changes to the on-stage layout. Stage hands were sweeping the stage and dusting the footlights. The lighting man was playing with his spotlights. An attractive young lady in a dark-grey, body-hugging trouser suit was sorting through a box-file full of scores.
Nobody took any notice of Malcolm so he went to the young lady, who looked less threatening than all the men there.
"Excuse me. I'm Malcolm, the page-turner."
The young lady straightened up and smiled at him. "Oh, thank God!" she said. "I'm Anthea and I page-turn for Gordon. Have you done it before?" Malcolm shook his head. "Well, it's easy if you can read the score. Crispin has his funny moments but I'm sure you'll be fine. Can you hold these scores, please? Oh, what lovely pianist's fingers you have!"
Malcolm blushed at the compliment but also felt a little pang of apprehension. There'd be more pangs before the night was out and they'd be pangs of anguish.
"The thing is, Malcolm," said Anthea, "we're meant to be unobtrusive. That's why I always wear grey."
Malcolm felt another pang of apprehension. "Always keep upstage of the piano," said Anthea, "and try not to move anything but your page turning hand. Never fidget."
Now feeling distinctly nervous, Malcolm looked at the scores Anthea had given him. The first item in the concert programme was Rachmaninov's Suite for Two Pianos, Opus 17. It had four movements. Malcolm saw that the second and fourth movements were marked presto, which meant they had to be played quickly. He realised he'd have his work cut out to keep his page-turning quick enough for Sir Crispin, plonking away on the keyboard. He sat down and spent several minutes closely studying the scores and when he looked up he realised the stage was empty. Members of the audience were beginning to take their seats. Malcolm scuttled off stage straight into Mr Perry, his music teacher.
"Right, Malcolm. Time to meet Sir Crispin. Follow me."
Mr Perry knocked on the door to the star dressing room and escorted Malcolm inside. Sir Crispin Strange had just put on his tail coat and turned to face the highly attractive boy who'd volunteered to be his page-turner.
"Ah, Martin, I believe. How old are you?"
"Sixteen last week, sir," said Malcolm, suddenly feeling awed in front of the great man. "And it's Malcolm, not Martin. I've got Grade Six on piano and I'm doing Grade Seven in October and then ...."
"Got is an ugly word, boy!" interjected Sir Crispin, preening his silver goatee beard. "Can you read music?"
"Y–yes, sir," replied Malcolm, wondering how this rude man thought you could attain Grade Six if you couldn't read piano scores.
"He's my most promising pupil, Sir Crispin," said Mr Perry, putting a comforting hand on Malcolm's shoulder. "Come on, we haven't got long." He guided Malcolm out of Sir Crispin's room. "Curtain up in fifteen minutes, Malcolm. Where's your gear? You'll have to get changed here, in the corridor."
"Changed, sir?" Malcolm felt a stabbing feeling in his chest.
"Into your suit, of course! You don't expect to go on stage in jeans and trainers, do you?"
"I didn't think, sir ... I haven't got any other clothes."
Mr Perry went puce and started to shake. "You didn't think? But you don't honestly think you can wear clothes like that? Oh Christ! Let me think. I know. Wait there!"
Mr Perry hurried away. He returned two minutes later to find Malcolm hovering nervously in the corridor, looking green about the gills. "Get those clothes off! My son's on his way. He's in his school uniform. You'll have to wear that! Hurry up!"
Malcolm, his heart pumping madly, began to take off the smart red polo shirt he'd thought would look so good on stage. Then his mouth went dry and his fingers suddenly wooden - he'd remembered that Mr Perry's son, Bruno, was one of only about fifty boys at school still, in 1988, to wear short trousers. He'd surely be in long trousers tonight – wouldn't he? At that moment Bruno came running along the corridor from the auditorium. Malcolm thought he was going to have heart failure, for Bruno was in his school uniform. Bruno was famous for having shorts far shorter than those of any other boy at the school.
"Well done, Bruno," said Mr Perry, gradually controlling his panic. "Would you swap clothes with Malcolm, please. Quick as you can."
Realising he had no alternative, Malcolm couldn't protest. He had to wear the clothes of a boy two years below him and three inches shorter. Hurried by Mr Perry, Malcolm took off his brand new red and black trainers and tight blue jeans. People were hurrying past, some pausing briefly to take in Malcolm's sleek and hairless body. Trembling with nerves and blushing vividly, he was soon standing in the corridor in his blue and white striped boxers.
"Get them off, too!" yelled Mr Perry. "Your socks, I mean. Put Bruno's long ones on!"
Bruno, now blushing in embarrassment and naked but for his high-cut, pale blue underpants, looked apologetic as he handed his clothes to Malcolm. His shirt, tie and navy blue blazer were OK, although the shirt extended only just below Malcolm's waist. The black shoes were a whole size too small and pinched like crazy. It was years since Malcolm had worn long grey socks up to his knees. As for the shorts - which had braces attached – Malcolm hadn't worn short trousers for five years and now he was about to appear in public in little grey shorts with legs not even two inches in length! He'd never used braces and wanted to remove them but Mr Perry said there wasn't time to remove them, or even to adjust them and he quickly pulled the straps over Malcolm's shoulders, thereby ramming the shorts hard into Malcolm's crotch and making him squeak in alarm.
"Don't worry," said Mr Perry, "the braces will hold the shorts high enough to keep the shirt tucked in. Can't have shirts flopping out." He made sure the shirt was tucked in and helped Malcolm on with Bruno's blazer. "Now you're ready!"
Malcolm was close to retching. Why hadn't he thought to wear his own school uniform? Things were happening so fast he didn't have time to look at himself or even to speak, although he badly needed to loosen the braces and didn't care if the shirt didn't stay tucked in. He was in a real fix and it was entirely his fault.
Seconds later, Anthea appeared at his side. "You look gorgeous, darling, if a teeny bit conspicuous. Come on, hurry up. We go on after the applause for the pianists has died down. Stick with me. And do your tie up properly!"
The applause diminished, Anthea took Malcolm's arm and they entered stage right, Malcolm taking position at the upstage (left) side of Sir Crispin's piano and Anthea crossing to stand upstage of Gordon Donnelly's piano. Malcolm was tingling all over, partly with nerves but mainly with embarrassment. He tried to ignore the way Bruno's little shorts were pulling painfully into his groin and he tried to forget about the hundreds of people out there in the auditorium. He failed on both counts.
"Bastard!" Sir Crispin swore beneath his breath, making poor Malcolm wonder what dreadful mistake he'd committed already.
"Some bastard's moved the flowers!" hissed Sir Crispin. "I can't see Gordon. Move 'em at least a yard upstage, lad!"
Malcolm moved quickly to the huge flower vase and was surprised how heavy it was as he carried it upstage. Then he had to move the low table it sat on. The table was too heavy to lift so he had to crouch down and drag it inch by inch into place. Every eye in the audience must have been on him as he struggled to move the table four feet upstage. They saw a slim, very pretty, smartly-dressed but clearly flustered boy, responding to hisses from Sir Crispin to 'get a move on!' That the boy's short trousers left his pale thighs entirely bare must have generated arousal in more than one set of loins. At last the table was in the right position and Malcolm heaved the gigantic vase onto it, aware that he was perspiring copiously.
The pianists could now see each other and a red-faced Malcolm returned to his station by the piano. The Rachmaninov commenced. The Introduction was a march, so it was brisk without being too fast and Malcolm could follow the score relatively easily. He turned the pages at the correct time and crisply. Things were going well. All too soon, however, it was time for the second movement, Valse, which had to be played presto. Malcolm, knowing he'd now have to turn pages more frequently, braced himself for a difficult task. He'd have been alright if Sir Crispin hadn't moved his head more vigorously to the faster beat and made little grunts, both of which seemed to Malcolm like signals to turn a page.
Twice did he turn a page only for Sir Crispin to flash a hand off the keyboard to turn the page back again. Malcolm began to lose it. Trying a little too hard, he accidentally turned two pages over at once. Sir Crispin, who actually, of course, knew the music extremely well, snarled at Malcolm and played on until he'd reached the point where he could once again look up at the score. Moments later he gave a vigorous nod as Malcolm's cue to turn the next page. Unfortunately, at another vigorous nod, Malcolm turned a page but it wasn't meant as a cue this time and Sir Crispin snatched the page over again.
Malcolm was sweating profusely now. Luckily, the next movement, Romance, was played more slowly and Malcolm could follow the score but sadly for him, his fingers were now so damp they would sometimes stick to the corner of a page and once, as he withdrew his hand, the whole score came with it and he had to use his other hand to get it back in place. He made to wipe his sticky fingers on his trouser legs but made contact with bare thigh, which set off another bout of blushing and sweating. At the end of the movement he wiped both hands on the coarse, grey material covering his nice little bottom, only to hear a hissed "Stop fidgeting!" from Sir Crispin.
The boy's fingers were dryer now and as Sir Crispin embarked on the Tarantella, at presto speed, Malcolm had more success with the actual page-turning, although in responding to energetic nods and grunts, he twice turned at the wrong moment. Malcolm was having a truly awful time. Applause greeted the end of the piece and if Sir Crispin had played any wrong notes nobody seemed to have noticed.
During the applause, Malcolm grasped the hems of Bruno's shorts and tried to pull them a little lower. Hidden from the audience by the piano, Malcolm tugged hard and then flew into another panic as he thought he'd detached the lining of the shorts. The next piece of music, some Brahms that Malcolm knew vaguely, was about to start so he couldn't look down but he felt some of the smooth lining material now hanging below the scratchy wool of the wretched little grey shorts. He just hoped nobody could see it. He thought things couldn't get any worse. In fact, Malcolm's page-turning was quite good during the Brahms, as there were few changes in tempo and he was assisted by being slightly acquainted with the music.
The Brahms had ended and the audience was applauding. The interval was next and Anthea was at Malcolm's side ushering him into the wings. "Go straight to his dressing room, my sweetie; he'll want to talk to you. Don't worry, his bark's worse than his bite!"
No sooner had a miserable Malcolm entered the star dressing room than the bulky Sir Crispin shot in to join him. Slamming the door shut, the great virtuoso turned to face Malcolm. If ever a face said 'You're in real trouble, laddie!' this was it.
"Look in the mirror, boy!"
Malcolm looked at his image in the full-length mirror and had a shock. He'd been pulling not at the lining of Bruno's shorts but at his own boxer shorts. The blue and white cotton extended two inches below the hem of each leg of Bruno's tiny grey shorts. Malcolm felt his face going redder than ever.
"It's outrageous! I'm not having my page-turner exhibiting his underwear, especially not on stage! It was showing as soon as you'd moved those damned flowers!"
Poor Malcolm, tears of shame smarting in his eyes, took off the blazer and was about to loosen the braces, in order to let the shorts down far enough to cover his boxers, when Sir Crispin barked an order.
"That'll never work - get those bloody boxer shorts off!"
Malcolm was shaking and he didn't know what to do. Did this horrible man expect him to take off the shorts, remove his boxers and put the shorts back on? He did.
"But... I'll have no underwear on, sir... People might see my ..."
"Exactly! Better no underwear than to have it showing in public like that! Come on, hurry up!"
Malcolm couldn't believe what was happening. He found himself pulling the braces off his shoulders and unfastening the shorts. Turning away from Sir Crispin, he worked the shorts over his bottom and stepped out of them. As if in a dream, he removed his boxers and then began to put the grey shorts back on. They lacked any form of lining. Bruno's shirt stopped not far below Malcolm's waist, giving Sir Crispin a very close view of a most delightful bare bottom, a bottom that it would be an enormous pleasure to spank.....
All too quickly, from Sir Crispin's point of view, the nice little bottom was concealed from view by the grey shorts and Sir Crispin saw Malcolm trying to adjust the braces to let the shorts hang somewhat lower. 'I don't like that,' he thought. 'His shirt won't tuck in now.'
Malcolm still had his back to Sir Crispin but he was now ordered to turn round and face the great man. What a forlorn sight Malcolm made. He asked for a glass of water. He wondered whether he could make a run for it but dressed like that, he'd look even more stupid in the streets than in the theatre. At least the shorts were no longer trying to slice him in two. He was made of strong stuff, our Malcolm, and he determined to make the best of the rest of the concert, then take his fee and his own clothes and get the hell out of there. The two-minute bell sounded.
Just before leaving the dressing room, Sir Crispin told Malcolm to tighten the braces again. "But, sir, they might be able to see my..."
"Silence, boy! Your shirt's come out at the front and that's slovenly. Get your blazer off and tuck your shirt in. Then I'll tighten your braces!"
As Anthea steered him onstage a couple of minutes later, Malcolm was tugging frantically at the front of each leg of Bruno's shorts. He was terrified that his cock and even his balls might be visible to the audience. He was certain he heard a communal gasp from the stalls as he hove into view. His face was red as beetroot as he concentrated on opening the score for the next piece of music, a set of variations by Saint-Saens.
For an unhappy Malcolm, a routine established itself during the second half of the concert. For forty minutes he turned the pages; every three minutes or so he would make a mistake, sometimes turning a page just a second or two early or late, sometimes accidentally turning over more than one page at a time, sometimes being hissed at for wriggling about as he tried to ease the agony in his groin caused by the shorts being rammed into his crotch by the too-tight braces. He tried and failed to undo the buttons that attached the braces to the waistband of Bruno's shorts. Sir Crispin snarled and swore at him after every mistake Malcolm made. What sounded to some like a pistol shot was Sir Crispin's left hand giving the back of Malcolm's right thigh a mighty slap. It happened twice more and the poor boy now had a stinging thigh.
As time went by another unpleasant sensation became evident. With no underwear for protection, Malcolm felt the coarse wool of the grey shorts chafing his skin. It tickled and itched all round his hips and on his bottom but was worst between his thighs, just where his legs joined. Why weren't Bruno's shorts lined? Whenever he had a chance, Malcolm slipped his fingers inside a leg of the shorts and scratched his tormented skin. Once, in desperation, he tugged down really hard on the front of the shorts in an effort to stop them from trying to slice him in two at the groin. In compensation the rear strap of the braces pulled the shorts even more tightly into the cleft between his buttocks. He simply couldn't win.
Turning again to glare at Malcolm and to hiss at him, Sir Crispin observed that at the rear, the grey shorts finished just above where Malcolm's bottom began to curve sensuously out from his thigh and he was fondly reminded of some of the boy pupils from his days as a humble piano teacher, although only a couple of his pupils had worn shorts as excitingly revealing as those Malcolm was wearing. As for Malcolm, the extreme discomfort and the crushing humiliation were causing tears to run down his soft cheeks. Sir Crispin couldn't stop himself from giving Malcolm's thigh another mighty slap.
At last the concert finished and there was thunderous applause. Following Anthea's example, Malcolm stood demurely behind the piano, looking at the floor. Then something interesting happened. Gordon Donnelly moved to the front of the stage, a spotlight illuminated him brightly and he clenched his fists together and raised his arms in appreciation of the applause, which at once increased in volume. Then he indicated his colleague and Sir Crispin advanced to be picked up by a second spotlight. Donnelly stepped back a few paces. The applause died suddenly to a polite trickle of claps. There were some boos.
Donnelly came forward again and the applause increased. Sir Crispin began to look highly agitated. He bowed extravagantly and there were more boos. He turned on his heel and stomped offstage, only to hear calls for 'The Boy! The Boy!' The spotlight operator sensibly doused his lights and Donnelly left the stage. But the audience wanted 'The Boy' and Donnelly swiftly returned, grabbed Anthea and Malcolm by the hand and brought them downstage. It wasn't unusual for page-turners to receive their own token applause but this applause wasn't token – it was tumultuous. Donnelly, quick to grasp the mood of the audience, moved back and clapped his hands, grinning broadly. Anthea was still holding Malcolm's left hand and told him to bow when she did. The spotlight operator bathed the two of them in brilliant light.
The audience was in rapture. The way Sir Crispin had been bullying Malcolm had been obvious to most and now they could express their sympathy for the frowning, blushing boy standing next to a smiling Anthea. Malcolm had a red face, tear-stained cheeks and an extraordinary school uniform far too small for him. His pale, naked thighs were dazzling in the glare of the spotlight. Encouraged by the audience's appreciation, Anthea raised her arm high and with it Malcolm's. Interested members of the audience watched the hems of Malcolm's shorts rise even further as his raised shoulder hoisted high the braces.
With the shock of realising what was happening at the front of his shorts, Malcolm thrust his free hand down and grabbed the right hem and tugged urgently down. He felt his cock nuzzling his knuckles and trying to get out. He kept tugging down. At last, Anthea brought his other arm down and said "Let's go!"
Heartily relieved, Malcolm smiled for the first time. It was only a shy little smile but it was picked up by the audience with a communal 'Aaahh!' Now using both hands to tug the front of his shorts down as he turned to go, he could not have known that the wretched things had risen far enough at the rear to give the audience a tantalising glimpse of bare bottom as Malcolm departed. The boy enthusiasts in the audience were beside themselves with joy. They'd assumed that Malcolm was only about thirteen but those of them in the front row had seen far more of Malcolm than they should and had noted his obvious sexual maturity. Now, with the added bonus of a thrilling rear view, which included the red patch high on Malcolm's right leg where Sir Crispin's slaps had landed, they were going into meltdown.
Malcolm sped to the star dressing room and was relieved to see not Sir Crispin but Bruno, wearing his, Malcolm's clothes. "I'm so sorry," said Bruno, "if it'd been anyone else but me and my bloody little shorts you wouldn't have looked nearly so stupid."
"Yeah, but it's not your fault, mate," said a breathless Malcolm. "Can I have my own clothes back now? Did I really look stupid?"
"Well," said Bruno, beginning to take off Malcolm's clothes. "Not so much stupid as embarrassed - and a bit - um - exposed." He handed Malcolm something he'd picked off a chair. "These are your boxers, aren't they? I'm not sure it was a good idea to take 'em off."
Malcolm had removed Bruno's blazer and, still shaking, took his boxers from the serious-looking youngster. "Wasn't my idea," he said, feeling himself blushing - yet again. He put his boxers on a chair then he heaved the braces off his shoulders and turned bashfully away from Bruno before removing the little grey shorts. He'd just kicked them off when Sir Crispin burst into the room, bellowing.
"I'll teach you for upstaging me, you little idiot! Come over here!"
The tall and burly Sir Crispin had such a power of command that Malcolm, now naked but for Bruno's shirt and socks, automatically trotted over to him. Ignoring Bruno, who stared open-mouthed in horror, the great man seized Malcolm around the waist, sat on a chair and heaved the terrified boy over his lap.
"This is what I've been waiting to do for nearly two hours! First, you muck up the page-turning," SMACK! "and then you have the temerity to humiliate me in front of the audience," SMACK! "and take the applause that was meant for me!" SMACK!
With the shirt up around his shoulders, Malcolm was essentially naked (apart from Bruno's long, grey socks) and his torso was being held down by one hand while his extremely attractive bottom was being pounded by another. His buttocks were beginning to colour, something that Bruno, to his shame, found distinctly thrilling.
"I am a world-renowned performer," SMACK! "and you have deeply, deeply embarrassed me!"
There was a sharp knock on the door. It opened and into the room came Gordon Donnelly, bearing a bottle of champagne and two glasses. "Good Lord, Crispin! Up to your old tricks again! Put that lovely boy down at once!"
Sir Crispin stopped spanking Malcolm and rested his hand on the marble-smooth bottom lying across his lap. Donnelly looked on in amusement while Bruno stared in astonishment.
"That's enough, boy, " said Sir Crispin. "Now for God's sake, get dressed!"
Malcolm was released and staggered over to Bruno, who could scarcely believe what he'd just seen. A Fifth-Form boy getting a bare bottom spanking before his very eyes! Malcolm had a lovely bottom and Bruno felt himself blushing as he experienced his second arousal of the evening; the first one - naturally - had been while watching Malcolm on stage. The two boys, red-faced with embarrassment, swapped clothes while the two men drank champagne and watched.
"There's a real blush of boys for you, Crispin," said Donnelly, smiling benignly.
Malcolm hadn't a clue what the man was saying; he found his hanky in his jeans, blew his nose and wiped his face. To think his disgrace was being witnessed by a boy so junior! 'It'll be all round school on Monday!' thought Malcolm. 'He won't be able to keep it to himself. I'll be a complete joke!'
But there was something in the way Bruno looked at Malcolm, something tender in the way he watched Malcolm pulling his tight jeans carefully over his smarting bottom. As Bruno self-consciously put on his school uniform, having first slackened the braces so that his little shorts would sit lower, something told Malcolm his secret would be safe.
"Right, Malcolm," said Donnelly, winking at our hero. "Sir Crispin is going to give you your fee."
Sir Crispin was fumbling with his wallet and his face changed from that of an ogre to that of a kindly old gentleman.
"It was good of you to volunteer, Malcolm and I apologise if I seemed a little sharp." Malcolm stared incredulously at Sir Crispin, who continued: "Here is your thirty pound fee. Don't spend it all at once."
"Oh, I think he needs more than that," said Donnelly, "I'd have thought doubling the fee would be appropriate, in the circumstances...."
Sir Crispin grudgingly handed Malcolm three more ten pound notes. Then he looked at Bruno. "Here's a tenner for you, young man, for providing such a delightful costume for my page-turner. You're absolutely right, Gordon - it's a real blush of boys!"
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