Walking the Wild Side
by Nigel Gordon
Over the remaining few weeks of the holiday I never seemed to have any time alone. Usually John, Simon or Maddie were with me, often all three, and then there was Tom. He was doing some sort of internship with Stephen Meadows, though I wondered what an engineering graduate could be doing with law. When I did ask I was told it was about intellectual property. The important thing was that Stephen Meadows, despite what he had said, was paying him quite well and he was able to save up quite a good deposit for a flat in Brum for when he started his master's.
Whenever he was not working for Stephen Meadows he made time to be with me. We would meet for coffee in town, go for walks along the canal, stopping at canal side pubs for a meal or a drink. A couple of times we went to the cinema. We also made a couple of trips into Birmingham, one to see the Royal Ballet. They were doing Romeo and Juliet as a community project. Most of the dancers were kids from various youth groups – that was why we were there — and Tom was involved with one of the groups. It was nothing like what I expected it to be, and I quite enjoyed it.
I enjoyed being with Tom and looked forward to the time we spent together. One thing I missed, though, was the sex. Since that Wednesday we had not had sex and I did not know how I felt about it. Part of me wanted it but part of me was terrified of the idea. There was no way I wanted to be fucked and I was sure Tom would want to fuck me.
I suspect Tom had picked up on my thoughts as he never pressed me for sex. If anything, he went out of his way to make sure that the subject never raised its head. He was just there for me, somebody who was a friend and who cared for me, which I found comforting.
I had been back at school for two weeks when I was walking down the main corridor and one of the fifth years standing at the side asked if I had enjoyed being raped. Unfortunately for him Maddie, who was head girl that year, was about three steps behind me. I will never forget the howl of agony as she marched him, in a very painful arm lock, all the way to the headmaster's office. I did wonder though why she proceeded to take him there going clockwise round the building when the headmaster's office was only about five doors back and just round the corner if she had gone counter-clockwise.
Nothing else was said at school about it after that but I did feel uncomfortable about it, knowing that people knew and thinking that they would think I was dirty. Mr Meadows had got me into a rape counselling group. I had been reluctant to go at first, thinking I would be the only male there, but in fact there were two others. One who was a bit older than myself had been raped by his uncle since he was thirteen and had only just started to come to terms with it. He had still not reported his uncle to the police. We all told him he should. The other chap was a lot older, in his forties. He had been to a club, met a couple of blokes and went back to a party with them. It turned out that it was a very similar set up to what I had found myself in, but this time with no hint of consent. He had eventually woken up in Broad Street in Birmingham with no idea where he had been and no idea what he had done. However, his anus was badly torn and he was bleeding badly with cum oozing out of his arse. Unfortunately, he was so embarrassed by the situation he did not seek medical help till a few days later, when going to the toilet became a major issue. By that time, it was too late for PEP and he had HIV. Big lesson, don't waste time before getting on PEP.
All in all, I found the sessions quite useful and they made me feel a lot better about myself. I still was not up for talking about what had happened but nobody was really pushing me to, with the exception of Maddie. Oddly enough she did not want to know about what happened, just what I could remember about the place. Like how long the drive was and how high was the gate.
At the end of September, I gave Tom a hand to move into his new flat. He was doing his master's and hopefully doctorate at Birmingham University, but it was on a research project in which his old tutor at Aston was one of the leads, so he would be going to both from time to time. As a result, he had got himself a flat close to the city centre. The flat was the first floor of an old Victorian house a couple of miles from the university but with good transport links to both the university and the city centre. What was surprising was that it was a two bedroom flat, though the second bedroom was quite small. What was even more surprising was the rent; it was less than I knew some people were paying in Cromford for a one room studio.
"What's the catch?" I asked.
"Well, I do have to do the garden for the old dear downstairs," Tom replied.
"Are you any good at gardening?"
"Well, I've been helping Stephen with his. That's how I got the flat. Seems she is some sort of relative of his and she was complaining that she could never get a good gardener."
"Well, at the price you are paying for this place I think she deserves a Chelsea Show Garden."
Tom laughed. "Not sure I can quite go that far, but it has some potential."
After we had unpacked his stuff and arranged the flat we went down and looked at the garden. When we got there the old lady was sitting at a table out on the patio having a cup of tea. Tom apologised and started to turn to go back round the building.
"Don't bother about me boys, come and join me. Ages since I have had anyone to natter to." We stopped, I nodded to Tom and we walked over to the table.
"Now you," she stated, looking up at Tom, "must be Thomas. Little Stevie described you well." It took me a moment to realise little Stevie must be Stephen Meadows. "You though," she stated, turning in my direction, "I have no idea about you, though you look a nice boy."
"I'm Leo," responded.
"Short for?" she queried.
"Leonidas," I answered. Tom gave me a look. I realised I had never given him my full name.
"One of your parents studied Greek history?" she enquired.
"No, but mother loves Mary Renault. We have all her books."
"Probably one of the best ways to learn about Ancient Greece. Now Leo, if you go through the patio doors and then take the door on the left you will find my kitchen, such as it is. The cupboard on the left has cups and saucers in it. Bring a couple; spoons are in the drawer to the left of the sink. I have only just made this pot and there is plenty in it." I looked at the pot. It probably could have filled twelve cups.
I went and got the cups. When I returned Tom was already seated, so I put the cups down and took the other seat.
"Good. By the way I am Alice Meadows," she stated, as she started to pour the tea. "Sugar?" We both indicated two; "milk?" again we affirmed the option. "Now, Thomas, Stevie is my nephew. I have no doubt he has given you strict instructions on keeping an eye on me." Tom blushed, but nodded.
"Thought so; just because I'm ninety-two he thinks I am infirm. I can assure you I'm not. I have a fit body and a keen mind and I intend to keep both going as long as I can. Now tell me about yourselves." We did. Talking with Alice was refreshing and amusing. She made witty, penetrating comments at various points. At the same time, she had some deep and insightful questions about the area of research that Tom was going into.
Suddenly she stopped mid-flow in one of her comments and looked at her watch.
"How thoughtless of me, it's gone half six and I bet you boys haven't eaten, have you?"
We admitted we had not. Once we had both confirmed we liked Indian she was on the phone to a local take away. What was surprising to me was she was talking in what I thought was an Indian language; there were a few Indians in Cromford and it sounded like what they spoke in the local take-away. When she put the phone down I asked her what it was.
"Bengali. My partner, Adhip, was from Bengal, she came to England in nineteen-sixty for an arranged marriage when she was only fourteen. The marriage did not work and she applied for a job as my housekeeper. It was the best thing that happened for both of us. We soon became lovers and were together for forty-five years.
"Of course, for most of that time we could not declare our relationship. To the world we were the English spinster and her Indian housekeeper. In the end, though, we had a civil partnership and were wife and wife. She died three years ago. That's when Stevie got me to convert the house; he said it was far too big for me on my own. Afraid I would fall down stairs more like."
The meal arrived and I helped Alice lay it out on the kitchen table. She informed me that once they had a dining room and Adhip would never allow them to eat in the kitchen. "'Only servants eat in the kitchen,' she would say." Alice got some beers from the fridge. Tom said he had better not have any as he had to drive me home.
"Do you have to go home tonight?" Alice asked.
"Not really," I responded.
"Then stay. Have a meal, get drunk and go upstairs to your flat and make love. That is what lovers like you should be doing."
"But we're…" Tom started to say.
"Forget it, boy," Alice interrupted. "You are clearly in love with Leo, I can see it in the way you look at him. As for Leo he looks at you in exactly the same way, so the two of you need to get this sorted out and you might as well do it here and now." I must have flinched or something because she turned and looked at me. "Leo, I don't know what your problem is but I can tell you that the best way to solve it is to be held in the arms of somebody who loves you.
"So now let's eat and you can both drink, though not more than two bottles each. Making love when you are merry is fine, making love when you are drunk is a disaster." So we had our meal then went back upstairs. I called home and left a message on the answerphone that I would be home in the morning. Tom came up and put his arms around me from behind.
"You're sure you want this?" he asked.
"Yes, but I'm scared."
"What of?" he asked.
"Of being fucked. Don't think I can cope with that."
He turned me round and kissed me. "Then, Leo, we won't fuck. There is a lot more we can do and to be honest a lot of the time fucking is over-rated."
That night and over many subsequent nights Tom taught me just how many ways there were of making love. After that I started to go up to Brum every Friday night, returning home on Sunday afternoon to be at school Monday morning.
My family were fine with it, though mother was a bit worried by the age difference. Tom's family was a different matter. Although they said they had not objected to Tom being gay they also said they preferred that he did not flaunt his ways in front of his brothers. When Maddie heard this she laughed for ages, then proceeded to tell Tom about the sexual antics of his brothers. It seems that the two of them were something of a legend amongst the girls.
"Of course it's not only girls for David," she stated.
"You what?" exclaimed Tom.
"Your little brother is most definitely bi. He has definitely had at least three boys in the lower sixth," Maddie informed him.
"But he's not sixteen yet," Tom stated.
"Well, did that ever stop you?"
"No, I suppose you're right, but I need to have a word with him."
"Is that wise," I asked.
"Yes, I'd better tell both of them about safe sex and where I keep my stash of condoms. Found a place I could buy them by the gross." That got both me and Maddie laughing.
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