by Rafael Henry
The conclusion……..where fact and fiction meet……….
Max has the final say……………it's May, 2014…………….
I'm writing this on my pc quite early this morning, even for me. It's just turned five thirty on a sunny morning. It's a bank Holiday Monday so there's no work to go to this morning. My wife is not an early riser but I am, and consequently in the evenings I'm little use when she's wide awake. But this pattern does give me the chance to write at will for an hour or so completely uninterrupted. On lovely sunny mornings I can't help thinking about Mr Raphael Kelly. I know what he'll be doing this morning. He'll be out on some coastline somewhere, almost certainly in his beloved Norfolk, painting yet another picture. He's done thousands of them and they must be all over the place hidden in houses somewhere. He's still teaching of course…..something that he's always loved doing. If you had read what he's written, you would know why. I'm an estate agent for my sins…..which are many and various……but nothing too serious.
I'm thinking back to that time in Blakeney twenty years ago now…..and that day I completely 'lost it' as they say. Well, you know the story up to then of course. I'll make the tea in an hour or so. Oh yes, I 'lost it' big time.
You will remember Tom, my best friend from school? He used to come home with me on Saturdays after games and spend the Sunday with us quite often as his people lived quite far away. It was the one word that Tom said that set me off that day…… trust .
Someone once said that the Norfolk air makes you randy, and it did us, that's for sure, and me in particular. Aged twelve, I couldn't get enough of it….and was having something of a relationship with Raf as you know, but I could never understand why we never went further than we did……..because more was what I wanted. Oh yes, Raf would go so far and no further. When Tom said that it was all about trust, or rather the lack of it, I completely flipped emotionally. I can barely remember the rest of that day, only that I descended into a seriously bad mood and was completely obnoxious to everyone and anyone I was in contact with. I was completely vile, rude to anyone unlucky enough to cross my path and very very upset. There were periods of crying followed by remorse and anguish, with a bit of rage thrown in for good measure….followed by more crying. Oh dear………it wasn't good. Not good at all.
My grandmother ran Tom and I back to school that Sunday evening, eventually. Quite often Raf would take us, but not that night. No, he was persona non grata as far as I was concerned. I hated him and never wanted to clap eyes on him ever again.
That night in bed, I realised the extent to which I had embarrassed myself that afternoon. Tom was good, as ever bless him, trying to put things into their proper perspective and trying to make me see reason. I did see reason in time…quite quickly in fact. I loved Raf then, and I still do……but in a different way now. We talked about it later…….Raf and I………and needless to say it all became perfectly clear. After my little performance…….immediately afterwards in fact………we made love in a new way, with lots of lovely tears and not without some laughter too. It was a supreme moment in my life thus far. It was all made possible by the word 'trust'…..and I was in love……..me with Raf……and he with me in his own way. It was all an unrealistic relationship for him, but for me it was the most intense experience. I think he felt guilty because he had allowed himself to get so involved with me, and deep down he knew he had let his feelings get the upper hand. His experience told him it shouldn't have done. As for me, I don't regret anything that happened….not then, and not now.
By four that Sunday afternoon, both Tom and I were back in our uniforms, having changed out of the makeshift outfits that 'did' when nothing much was happening. Tom had nothing other than his uniform, so I'd kit him out as I wanted him to look which was quite fun. He was such a sweet little boy, but quite determined in his own way, and my mother loved him. Indeed, most people loved him that knew him…..he was that sort of a boy. I could say so much about him still, and of course he was the one that came out with that magic word, trust, that…..well, I'll come to that in a moment. I was still terribly upset about what Raf must have thought of me…what he thought I was…..an immature twelve and thirteen year old who could not be trusted. So…..this was my way……my way of resolving the situation……..bringing it to a head. I don't think I'd consciously planned it. I'd got Tom dressed……yes, I'd dressed him . He always liked that when we had the opportunity, and it was a little ritual we had, and if we hadn't had a feeling recently, we did during the process, or rather at the end of the process usually when we were both fully dressed…….very naughty, but a very nice finale to the weekend. I can smell the wool of his jumper now, and feel his warmth. He was the very best friend to have, and such fun to be with, but there was no finale that afternoon…..not with Tom.
About four thirty, Mum told me to go and see Raf. When Tom and I had left him earlier, he was obviously upset at my rude outbursts. I remember him saying as we left his place in the High Street that we couldn't leave things like this……we needed to talk. I was in no mood for talking that's for sure. I have a manipulative streak in me and I'm sure subconsciously I was already planning his defeat.
I left Tom with Mum and set off for Raf's place minus my blazer, but in every other respect, ready for my return to the city. As usual the back door at the top of the wooden stairs was unlocked and I walked in to find him in his bedroom. He was lying on his side facing the window. When he heard me, he turned onto his back and looked at me with an expression of……….a mixture really…….concern………trepidation……..expectation……..I don't know what it was really, but I can see it now, all those years later. I do know that my own tears were flowing freely. I knew that this was in some way our moment of truth. I went up to him, got onto his bed and knelt beside him.
'How could you………….why Raf? How could you think of me like that? You don't do you. I know you don't!'
You can imagine his reaction. I don't doubt that he really did love me in his own way……….I'm sure he did.
'I don't what Max?'
I told him what . I told him quite calmly about how I felt at that moment, and how I thought he saw me as a person…..someone not to be trusted.
Looking back as I can now, and knowing what we constantly read about in the newspapers, I can completely understand why he couldn't trust me. People are emerging out of the woodwork with all manner of stories concerning goings on for the last fifty years or so, or even further back than that. The past is never far from the surface and can reappear at any moment. I know that. Basically he would be entrusting his life to me, a thirteen year old boy. To me, he was a wonderful person from whom I wanted love, both platonic and physical. He gave me that love in the only way that he could.
It took almost an hour to resolve things between us, but we did resolve them. In the end I had convinced him and we held each other as we had never held each other before…….I think our souls merged that afternoon. Of course he was safe from harm, and he always will be.
Raf was always reverential towards my body. Tom, and latterly Jonathan, always said I had a nice body which was kind of them and rather pleased me too. When Raf undressed me it was a wonderful ritual which always turned both of us on bigtime. Tom loved it too, making it into an exciting game of 'you can't get me' and then 'oh yes I can!' sort of thing. It was all done very gently in the end and formed the first important part of the kind of loving we wanted……that kind that boys enjoy with each other with no strings attached. I wanted Raf to expose my body that afternoon, which he did.
'Do you like it Raf…….I mean, do you really like it?'
They say actions speak louder than words.
'Does that convince you Max?'
He leant forward, took my head in his hands, and kissed me gently on the forehead.
I knew the story couldn't end there. The ultimate recognition of the trust that now existed between us, was to come much later.
Neither Tom nor Jon came back to Blue Cottage for the rest of that first term. My Saturday nights and Sunday mornings were for Raf and myself to enjoy.
Tom and Gabriel were busy with each other, discreetly and in a very sweet and special way.
Later, in January………
I was there when Raf's phone went, and I instinctively knew it wasn't good news. He went visibly grey as he listened to the person at the other end of the line. He must have listened for what seemed to me to be an eternity. At the end of the conversation he turned to look at me and I knew. He was leaving.
It took me a month to get over the fact that he was gone. I threw myself into my school work. In a strange irony, everything improved. I suddenly realised that I had grown up somewhat. I was different now.
Essentially, the person that took over Raf's job was not a success and he'd left without any warning or notice……basically he'd not come back at the beginning of the Spring Term and that meant under the original agreement that Raf would have to go back to his school.
We were both devastated, perhaps him even more than me as he was acutely aware of the damage the suddenness of it all might do to me. My mother explained away my state of mind to the school with some well-chosen fibs to do with family problems and the like which was in many ways quite true. I recovered my composure pretty well outwardly at least, and yearned for the next all too brief visit Raf would make late on Saturday evenings once a month, leaving again to be back in Essex by the Sunday afternoon. Jonathan knew what had happened, but of course he knew none of the details of my relationship with Raf. No one could ever know that……or will ever. Jonathan was so kind to me. Any hint of sex was gone with both him and Tom as I embarked on my mercifully short road back to composure.
Over the years our relationship changed as we both knew it had to, but essentially we are the same even now as I write this…….and guess what? Yes…….I have a brother, Dylan, almost thirteen years my junior, and of course that's another story. One morning I heard my mother being sick. I was worried of course. I heard her 'phone Raf. He came round a half hour later, but kept me out of their conversation. They sent me upstairs but I could just hear snippets of their conversation. I distinctly heard the word…pregnant. I was crying with the worry of it, and went downstairs. It was true, They hugged me when they told me…the three of us together. Lovely little Dylan was on his way!
It's a different kind of love now, but love it still is. I have one particular reminder of the old love we had……..a beautifully bound volume of black and white photographs Raf took of me in those wonderful weeks we shared, taken on his ancient Rolleiflex camera……the one you look down into that real photographers used for weddings and the like . Many are of me in everyday situations….one or two with my mother, and one or two of us taken by her……..and many others of a more intimate nature. I love them for their tenderness and innocence. It is a gift from him to me……with love. The Day Thou Gavest Lord is ended? No it isn't I'm glad to say…….not for a long while yet.
This morning I received an invitation. I have been invited to spend the weekend with Raf and his wife at his school near Windsor. I've accepted by 'phone. Apparently, he's left with a couple of kids who can't go home at weekends like the others.
'So you're stuck with them every weekend then?'
'Yes, pretty much.'
'Who are they then Raf?'
'Oh, there's one lad called James….he's quite a bright chap…very easy going. The other is a boy called Alfie. He's an interesting fellow……..I think you might like him.'
Please feel free to comment on what you have read at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will always reply.
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]