Westpoint Tales

by Kiwi

Entangled Tales - 42 - Justin

Lucas and Carl ran on around the circuit and Justin walked back to the exit by the grandstand. As he neared there, he saw a fight going on, on the lawn by the band rotunda. Toddy's younger brother, Grant, was lying on the ground, crying and clutching his right arm to his chest. John Peters was fighting with three older boys. Fists were flying, John was taking a pounding but he wasn't backing down. A crowd of spectators was rapidly gathering.

Justin ran over, stopped, and his good foot lashed out, backwards, at the rubbish container - a 44 gallon drum which was bolted to a 4x4 post, right next to the action.

Everyone there froze at the huge crash. The drum folded in half, like a crumpled aluminium can, rubbish flew everywhere, the wooden post snapped off at ground level and, together with the drum, went spinning out across the track. Silence reigned and every eye there was on Justin.

"Enough!" he snarled. "What the hell's going on here?"

One of the three strange youths, recovering from the surprise, retorted. "What's it to do with you? Fuck off!"

"Everything to do with me. Anywhere, anytime, three great lumps are laying into one smaller kid - then it's my fight too."

A second youth puffed himself up. "Nothing to do with you, Mate. We're just teaching these little faggots a lesson they won't forget."

"Faggots are they? I wouldn't know about that - but I know that I am one. Care to teach ME a lesson?"

"No. No way, Man. It's cool - we're just going."

"Yes, you're going. Not from around here are you? Well, you can just leave right now and keep going. If I see your ugly faces in this town again, I'll rearrange your features for you  I will not stand bullying and anyone who wants to try gay-bashing can just try it on me. Now, go!"

The three looked at each other, then ran out to their car to the taunting jeers of the small crowd. They sped off quickly down the road.

"How's the foot, Superboy?" Lucas put a hand on his shoulder.

"It's fine, Lucas," he said, flexing his leg. "For once I didn't smash myself up worse than everyone else involved."

"Except for the rubbish-bin of course," Carl grinned. "Impressive, Gayboy. Really impressive."

"Yeah, well."

He went over to where John was holding the still-crying Grant. "All right Boys? Let me have a look at that hand."

"Thanks Justin. Thanks," John sobbed. "Grant's really hurt isn't he?"

"Anytime Kid. Anytime at all. Carl, have you got your car? I think that this wrist might be busted. This boy needs to go to the hospital."

"We've got it, Superboy." Lucas helped Grant to his feet, and the four left in Carl's car.

Justin carried the rubbish bin back to where it came from and stood it up, as best he could. When he started to pick up the scattered rubbish, dozens of kids rushed to help. He left them to it and went down the road to the Council offices to tell them what he'd done to their drum.

The receptionist, grinning widely, took him back to the Town Clerk's office, where he had to tell his story again. He offered to pay for the damage he'd done: but they just laughed it off, telling him that the council would replace the drum and would probably mount the broken one somewhere as a memorial and a warning to any other bullies in the town.

Grateful and embarrassed, he left there and went around to Carl's to help with the hedge cutting. Carl and Lucas arrived just as he got there; they'd taken the boys to the hospital and left them there when their parents arrived.

Carl said that the doctor didn't think any bones were broken - just a sorely sprained wrist. And was Justin really okay? Justin was fine thank you. He waited outside while they went inside to change clothes, and then they came out and got started.

Carl was gleefully wielding an electric hedge trimmer. Lucas used the lops and secateurs and Justin carried the clippings out and loaded them on the trailer. When the trailer was full, they took the first load to the town dump - garden rubbish was free - and then returned to start again. Carl's mother was waiting with drinks and cookies - no beers as Carl and Lucas were in training and Justin never drank it anyway.

They carried on working, took a second load away, and then were finished with the third. While they were working, people passing by were continually calling out congratulations and "well dones", much to Justin's embarrassment. It seemed that his latest feat was the talk of the town already.

"I wish that they'd all just let it go. Maybe next time I should wear a mask or something."

"That would never work now. Everyone knows who Superboy is."

They finished the work, with thanks from Carl's mum. They refused to take any payment, but Lucas and Justin both agreed to come back for a meal sometime

On the way back from the dump, Carl dropped him off at the back of the hotel, shortly after 6pm, and he walked in through the kitchen door.

"What's this we hear about you smashing rubbish bins around at the Square?" A stern-faced grandmother demanded of him.

He immediately flushed red. "I...um..I did - but I offered to pay for it."

Kathleen switched to a smile. "Just kidding Justin. We've heard all about it. The mayor has been here looking for you. You're a hero, once again. Well done, Son."

"I'm not a hero. I couldn't stand back and watch three boys beat up one kid."

"Just can't help yourself, can you, Superboy?" Jonathan came in through the other door

"Jonathan! Where have you been? I've been looking for you. Excuse us a minute, Grandmother. There's something that I have to do."

He took Jonathan's arm and steered him back out and into the lounge, pushing the door shut behind them.

"What's going on? What is it that you have to do?"

"This," he replied, flinging his arms around him and hugging him tight. "I haven't had a hug from my brother all day."

"That's cool." Jonathan hugged him back. "But what brought this on all of a sudden?"

"I was out at the cemetery this morning. There's a new headstone on Gemmy's grave and it reads, "A loved and missed brother." Gemmy's twin brother lost him and missed him all his life. I don't ever want to lose you, Jonathan. I love you."

"Justin! Ah, shit, Justin." Jonathan almost started to cry, yet again. He grabbed and held him tight. "That's never going to happen, Brother. Never! I love you too and wild horses couldn't drag us apart now."

"Will you stay home tonight? Sleep with me? Billy has gone home and I don't want to be alone."

"Course I will. I've missed you too."

They had dinner in the kitchen; Crispian was not there again - he was eating with Jay's family. Then, Jonathan left to see Lana for a few minutes. He promised that he'd be back before 9pm. Justin ran up the stairs to wait for Billy's phone call.

At exactly 7pm, the phone rang and he pounced on it.

"Hello? Billy? Is that you?"

"Hey Justin. You really should let it ring a couple of times you know. Otherwise you sound too anxious."

"But I am anxious. How are you, Billy? How was your day?"

"It was good. We've been digging the vege garden over - Mum's got a huge garden. Wouldn't have been any good for your foot anyway."

"My foot's fine. I'm starting running again tomorrow."

"Tomorrow? At last, eh? You take it easy - don't overdo it."

"I will for sure. Wish you were running with me though."

"Superboy, you know damm well that I couldn't run like you do - even if you were taking it easy."

"I would slow down. I wouldn't run away from you, Billy."

"No, you wouldn't - but then you couldn't run like you like to."

"I'd rather be with you. How are we, Billy?"

"We are fine, for now. I don't want to talk about that yet. Just keep it simple, okay?"

"Okay Kid, whatever you say - you're the boss."

"Bloody right I am. So how was your day? Don't say you missed me, tell me what you did."

"I just mucked around. Went for a walk down the beach, then I helped Carl and Lucas cut a hedge this afternoon. That was cool. I did miss you but."

"Don't want to hear that, Justin. What else did you do?"

"Nothing much. Oh - I went to the cemetery. There's a headstone on Gemmy's grave already, that was sad. I came home and told my brother that I never want to lose him again."

"Justin, for fuck's sake! What about the bloody fight that you were in?"

"I don't want to talk about that. I wasn't in a fight, I just stopped some other kids fighting, that's all."

"That's all? We've already heard about it, Margaret and Dianne were both there. They couldn't get home fast enough to tell us all about Superboy's latest."

"It was no big deal. I just kicked a drum, made a lot of noise and it was all over."

"That's not the way we heard it. You smashed the drum and it flew halfway across the Square."

"It did not! The post just broke, that's all. Can we talk about something else? When do you plant the vegetables?"

They chatted for half an hour, then Billy had to go - someone else wanted to use the phone. He'd ring again tomorrow, same time.

"That's good. I'll be here waiting. I love you, Billy."

"Um, yeah. Thanks again. I do really. Talk to you tomorrow, Superboy."

"Okay. Love you, Sunny."

He hung up the phone and sat looking at it, feeling happy, sad, contented, frustrated. Glad to be here and wishing that he wasn't. His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"Come in."

The door opened and Toddy's face appeared. "Hey, Superboy. Can we come in?"

"Yes, of course. Come on in. Who have you got with you?"

"Well, there's us."

"Tony! Daniel! Hey. How's it going?"

"And, there's us too."

"Justin, I think you've met my brother, Grant. And this is Daniel's cousin, John."

"Hey Guys. Come on in - come and sit on my bed. How's the wrist Grant?"

"It's good, thanks. They strapped it up and gave me painkillers. I was sure that it was busted, but it's not - just sprained. Bloody hurt though."

"I'm sure it did. I couldn't believe how much my foot hurt at first, but it came right. How are you, John? Any injuries? You've got your forehead taped up."

"Yeah. That's just a cut. I've got a few scrapes and bruises, bit sore here and there, but nothing serious - thanks to you. We really want to thank you, Justin. If you hadn't came and saved us . . ."

"Hey! Don't mention it. I didn't save you. I might have helped a bit, but I didn't save you. It looked like you were giving a pretty good fight to me. Fiery little bugger, aren't you?"

"Not really. They attacked us and Grant was hurt. I had to fight back and try to protect him, but I was going to go down."

"Maybe you were, Kid. But you were going down fighting. I like your spirit."

"Yeah," said Grant. "We came to thank you, Justin, but I do need to say thanks to you too, John."

John said, "You're welcome, Grant. You would have done the same for me."

"Well, if I could, of course I would."

Justin was beaming. "Now you're talking, Boys. Look after your friends, they're the most valuable things in your life. Isn't that right, Daniel, Tony?"

"Bloody oath it is."

"We can never thank you enough for what you did for us."

"Don't thank me, Tony. I just came along for the ride. It was Jonathan who came to get you, plus, I understand that it was your idea too, Toddy."

"I did think of it, sort of. But it was Jonathan who did it, and with your help too."

"Okay. Okay. This is getting soppy here. I'm pleased that you guys are all all right. Tony, you got a good friend in Daniel, and in Toddy too. Daniel, ditto - especially Toddy. John, Grant, never stop looking out for each other. Now you can all wait here, I'll go and get us some cokes."

When he returned and passed around cans of coke, Grant said, "You still haven't asked why those goons attacked us."

"No, I haven't and I'm not going to either."

John said, "They were calling us faggots."

"I don't want to know, John. Whether you are or aren't  is none of my business and nobody else's either. All I know is that three big Yobs were beating on you guys, and I don't like that. I like you lot, all of you. Anytime you've got a problem, any problem, let me know and I'll do what I can to help."

There was an embarrassed silence all around until Toddy broke it. "Well, Justin Reynolds, there's no superheroes amongst us, but you've got five people here who'd be there for you too - anytime."

They talked for a while, then had to go. Grant and John were only allowed out for an hour and Daniel wanted Tony to come to practice with his band. Not long after they'd gone, Jonathan arrived home in a foul mood.

When he came out of the shower, Justin, sitting on the bed with his guitar, said, "Jonathan,if you'd rather not be here, that's okay. Go back to your girls if you want to. I'll be all right."

"Brother, there's nowhere  I'd rather be than here, with you. At least I know that you love me. Bloody women! They're driving me crazy." He flopped down beside him on the bed with just a towel around his waist.

Justin put away his guitar, then lay back on the bed. "Trouble down your end of the street is there?"

"You're telling me, there's trouble. They both want me to choose, one or the other. Both of them are saying that I can't see two girls. Well, why can't I? Bloody women always have to make things so complicated. They're funny creatures."

"Yeah, well, like they say, they're different animals. But there's another old saying - Vive la difference."

"At the moment, I'm thinking to hell with the difference. I'm almost tempted to come and play down your end of the street."

"Jonathan! You are not."

"No. Not really."

"Anyway, it's not all sunshine and roses on my side either. Things can get complicated anywhere people are involved."

"You've got troubles too, have you? What's up with you and Billy anyway? I thought everything was sweet."

"So did I, but it's not. He's gone home. . ."

"Yeah, I had noticed that."

"Shut up Dork. I was going to say that he's gone home to think about things. He doesn't know what he wants. I know what I want - I want Billy, 100% and for always, but he's not in the same place."

"What do you think he wants then?"

"I don't know. He doesn't know. I think that maybe he just wants to be a kid and for us to be friends - friends who enjoy having sex together."

"What's wrong with that? Don't you want to be his friend?"

"Of course I want to be his friend, but I want more than that. I want to be his love, his only love and his love for life. But he's not ready for that. He wants the freedom to have other friends, and other sex as well."

"And how would you feel about that?"

"I would hate it. I would absolutely hate that. Does that make me a bad person? If I can't give him the freedom that he wants?"

"No, it doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you a lover. You really do love him, don't you?"

"I do. I love him so much. I could never love anyone else - never!"

"Well, my Beloved Brother, you won't want to hear this, but I think that you've got to let him go."

"Bloody right, I don't want to hear that. What would you say something like that for? Don't you want me to be happy?"

"Of course I want you to be happy. I love you, remember? I only want you to be happy always. That's why I think you've got to let him go. Let him free, Justin. If he comes back, he's yours. If he doesn't then he never was going to be anyway."

"But I've already done that. I told him that he can choose whatever relationship he wants - whichever level. I will take whatever he wants to give me. I can't tell him all or nothing, that's what he can't handle. I don't want nothing, if I can't have all, then I'll take some. Anything at all is better than nothing."

"I think you're wrong, Justin. Maybe you're not, maybe I'm wrong, but I'm just telling you what I think."

"You are wrong. You are! I can't live without him at all."

"But can you live with him? You said that you'd hate it if he had sex with other people. How long could you live like that? If he screwed you on Friday and a girl on Saturday, and two boys the next day - that's freedom. Can you live with that?"

"Yes. I could live for Fridays, that. . .well. . . No! Fuckit. I can't do that. I couldn't handle that at all, it would kill me. You're right, Brother. Damm you. I've got to let him go."

"Okay. I'm sorry, Justin. I really am sorry, but you've got to let him go for your own sake as well as his. And you've really got to let him go. Don't slip back into your sad-arse in dark glasses. You got to get on with your life and put a smile on your face to show him that he really is free to choose."

"But what if he chooses life without me?"

"Then he will have chosen and you'll have to accept it. It would happen eventually anyway, after you've both wasted maybe years of your lives. But, then, maybe he will choose you and then you'll both have what you want. And, it could take years - if he wants to be a kid, it could take years to grow up. Could you wait that long? Would you still be there?"

"Yes, I would still be there, but how can I wait?  How can I live?"

"Would it be worth the wait? Then you can do it. I will be with you, and Claire will, and everybody else. You're not alone and you can do it, one day at a time.

Anyway, one old remedy for a broken heart is work, and, Man! Have I got work for you? There's something that I've been working on and I think that it's time that you got involved. It's really worthwhile and it will fill up any empty days nicely. Could make us a lot of money too - and I do mean a LOT of money."

"What have you been working on then? What have you got?"

"I'm not telling you now, we'd never get to bed tonight. We'll talk about it tomorrow. I'll show you in the morning. One thing I will tell you though. Sometime tomorrow or the next day, some people from the Ministry of Health are coming to see us - to talk about buying our potential cancer cure. I think we should just give it to them."

"No! We agreed that our work could be worth a lot of money. We can't just give it away."

"Sure we can - it's just chickenfeed. We could make some real money instead. Anyway, it will all keep until tomorrow. Come to bed and forget about everything. Girls, boys, relationships and money, it's all too heavy. Let's just go to sleep."

"But - oh, all right. We'll just drop everything in the too-hard basket and go to bed."

They got into bed, cuddled up together and went to sleep.

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