The Go-Between

by Rafael Henry

Act 1

'What the hell is that Otta…..or rather who is that?'

'Never mind Dick. It's of no interest to you….anyway you shouldn't be looking.'

'Oh, sorry. Who is it anyway?'

The two boys, Otta and Dick, occupy the back seat of the coach. It would accommodate at least five bodies but seeing as there were exactly twenty four boys and two masters on the fifty three seater coach, there was plenty of room to spread themselves out. The two masters sat at the front so they could chat generally about the cricket matches they had just umpired, and whatever else entered their heads I suppose.

'I reckon Jones will come good by the end of the season. Good attitude that boy……good prospect. You got any rising stars in the under fifteens Bill? Hampton's done pretty well for you I hear.'

That sort of thing. Mr Upton would have lit his pipe, but of course that was impossible on a team coach….boys present and all that. I don't suppose anyone would actually have complained, officially, but it still wouldn't do…..no, not in front of the boys.

In actual fact the boys couldn't care less if Mr Upton started a bonfire on the coach. That would have definitely amused them. The older ones were not necessarily strangers to tobacco smoke, and would have no doubt rather enjoyed the whiff of pipe tobacco as it curled its way along the aisle between the rows of seats.

The First Eleven are almost always paired with the Under Fifteens for away matches. They had been to Colchester. My advice is never go there in a car. It has the worst traffic system in the world….some say worse than Agra, and believe me, that's saying something.

The coach had gradually woven its tangled way out of the ancient town, the oldest in England according to the notice as you entered that bird's nest of a road system. The boys had settled down to an expected two hours of tedium of the journey from Essex to Norfolk, some already with their heads against windows attempting to sleep. It had been a warm afternoon and following morning school, they were tired bunnies. At least they had missed the last lesson of morning school. The coach had to leave by twelve thirty.

Otta always carried that photograph in his wallet. He looked at it every so often just to remind him of Tom. I suppose it was the wrong moment to take it out and look at it once again….on the coach sitting next to his friend Richard…..or Dick as he was generally known.

'Well go on then Otta…….who is he? Do tell.'

'Never mind. It's private actually….none of your bloody business is it?'

'Oooh, touchy eh? Sorreee.'

'Well then.'

It was true….it is a sensitive subject….quite personal in fact. Otta put the photo, cropped so it fitted his wallet exactly, neatly back into its usual place and out of sight. He looked out of the window at the passing Suffolk countryside. Finally they had escaped Colchester and had crossed the border into Suffolk. He knew he'd be back again for the rugby next term……but that was next term…..not a thing to be pondered over in July. Let's get this term over first shall we?

He felt his eyes misting over as he carefully replaced the fragment of photographic paper, no longer in pristine condition. This emotional reaction is not unusual for the sensitive Otta. He cries easily….always has done, right from when he was a little boy, and in weaker moments he still does. Otta's life has not been the easiest by any stretch of the imagination, what with all the goings on at home, but the relative stability of a boarding school has been a good thing generally. Yes, all in all he liked the life and was reasonably happy with the cards he had been dealt.

Some things he's never shared with his old friend Richard. Of course the obvious stuff Richard knows about…..family circumstances and all that, and a bit more besides. They had shared their bodies from time to time, usually in the changing cubicle at the public open air swimming bath in the outskirts of the City, reached by bicycle after school or at the weekend. Bicycles parked, the boys couldn't wait to pay the fee, run along to a vacant cubicle, bolt the stable door, and get undressed and into their trunks. If Otta had his way, it would happen before they swam, but it wasn't always that way. Sometimes Richard insisted.

'Oh come on Otta, not now. Afterwards. I want to get my lengths done first.'

Of course Otta gave in, but was privately disappointed. He'd thought about the prospect all the way from the City to Lakenham, some four miles away, and even the pedalling uphill in places didn't interfere with his train of thought. He had a secret fear that one day his best friend wouldn't want to play that game anymore.

But that day Richard was happy to submit to Otta's devices and desires…. after they had completed their lengths.

No one would see what they were doing. Even boys, wandering along the long line of brightly painted doors looking for a spare unoccupied cubicle would have no inkling of what the two boys were up to, Otta twelve and Richard a little older, as they stood naked behind the wooden door, feet and shoulders visible, but not those important bits in between. They faced each other to start with, fondling soft and sensitive prepubescent balls in Otta's case, and his penis, easily hardened but as smooth as silk, gently, until it was time. They knew when they were ready. When the time came Otta would turn Richard around and move into his back. His left hand would do the rest…..his right hand exploring the older boy's buttocks. The favour would be duly returned. The two boys had enjoyed it, but it was soon over and done with……history as they say, at least for that day. Both had wanted it….needed it even, and it was very much part of their friendship…at least for now.

A year later it wasn't happening any more. They would remain best friends but having Otta do nice things for him wasn't on the agenda. Not now. Not now Richard had other ideas…..and there are no prizes for guessing what was about to replace Otta as his sexual preference.

Richard realises that his demand to know about the photograph that Otta had withdrawn from his wallet was an uncalled for intrusion on his privacy.

'I'm sorry Otta. That wasn't kind of me. Sorry.'

'That's ok.' Otta replies, but still looking at the passing landscape.

'Will you look at me please Otta?'

'No.'

The coach had reached the roundabout on the outskirts of Ipswich…where the road becomes the A14. It lurches left, following the signs for Norwich. Otta reads the words on the sign, white on a green background, and feels something in his tummy turn over at the sight of that place name. He reaches for his wallet, his fingers locate the thin rectangle of photographic paper, and he gently eases the photograph of Tom from the small leather pouch. He rests the image in his lap knowing that Richard will see it. In a way he wants him to. Otta stares at the image of the two muddy…..very muddy boys. Tom is holding the ball while Otta stands with his arm around Tom's shoulder.

'Is that you Otta? Who is the other chap?' Richard enquires.

'Yeah, that's me. The other boy is Tom.'

'Tom?'

'Yes…Tom.'

'Looks like you had a good time in the mud bath, if I may say so.'

'I had a rugby ball for Christmas. Tom and I used to go to the park in Hove for a kick around…..practice place kicking……tackling…..all that stuff. His mother and my mother were friends. He stayed over at mine sometimes. I'd known him virtually all my life….kindergarten and then prep school. We were best friends.'

'Ah. So who took the photo?'

'A complete stranger to us. This bloke was passing by and asked us if he could take a photo of us in that state. He thought it was funny presumably. We laughed and said he could if he wanted to. So he did. About two days later this envelope drops through the letter box with this little print in it.'

'So how did he you know where you lived?'

'He asked me for my address so I told him.'

'That was a bit naïve wasn't it? I mean…..a man asking a boy where he lives?'

'I didn't think about it….I just told him.'

'Hmm. Did he ever try to make contact with you?'

'No, of course not. Why would he?'

'Ok, good question. Why would he indeed.'

Otta's mother naturally wasn't thrilled to see the two boys in the state they were in. It's a ten minute walk from the park back to the house.

In the kitchen, the boys peeled off the sodden shorts and tops, plus long dark blue socks….black boots and the rather slimy ball, the word 'GILBERT' barely visible on it, left outside the back door.

The boys were used to sharing the large bath tub. They sat facing each other making little attempt to wash the mud off themselves. This was playtime, not wash time…at least not until the water became sufficiently cooled to encourage the two boys to get out, and when they got out they had to be clean, or at least as clean as two ten year olds were expected to be. No, this was playtime.

Otta would put his legs out straight, and with Tom's knees bent, his legs would fit nicely in between Otta's. It was a rather simple game. Tom would tickle Otta between his legs, touching all the interesting places with his big toe. The boys giggled as everything went according to plan. It always did, whether it was in the bath or when they shared Otta's bed. It was all very gentle. The boys, knees drawn up now, would admire their handywork. They had realised in the course of their friendship how pleasurable it was to make one's penis metamorphose from little to large….or as large as a ten year old penis gets I suppose. Neither boy knew how to stimulate their perky little organs to orgasm, or even knew that such a pleasure was possible. They had a good idea where babies came from of course, but it was all theoretical rather than practical knowledge. Sex was a great cloud of mystery that hung in the ether waiting to pounce on their young minds and consume them like a wolf devours its prey, and it had to do with their penises…that much they did know.

For Otta, going away to school was a revelation, not quite on the scale of the ones experienced by S. John, but a revelation all the same. By the time he settled down to his first night away from home, angry and upset at his parents cruelty, but oddly comforted by the presence of the other boys who are to suffer the same fate as him, he had experienced his first orgasm. He had been given a book about growing up. His mother had given it to him to read before he went away…..some three weeks or so before in fact. Long enough to put theory to a practical test. Around about page thirty in this small blue book was a paragraph concerning the practise of what it referred to as self-abuse. A day or so after his mother had presented him with the book, she asked her young son how he was getting on with it……like has he read it at all? Answer…….

'Yes thanks mum.'

'Well…….do you understand it Otta? Does it make any sense to you?'

'Yes mum….of course I do. What's self-abuse?'

She did her best, but it has to be said that her explanation could be described as clunky at best. But there was no avoiding Otta's tricky question.

'It's something that men…..or boys do…..or both really…..but not together of course. It's to do with your penis darling……what it does .'

'What do you mean…what it does ?'

'When it grows darling……you know……when it expands rather…..like it does when you're on the beach?'

'On the beach?'

' Yes darling. It can happen on the beach….to you…..quite often?'

'Can it?'

'Haven't you noticed darling?'

'Oh that…..and it always there when I wake up.'

'Yes I know darling. A bit of a jolly nuisance isn't it. Anyway, it all to do with that…the getting bigger part of it. It's what happens after that. That's what it is.'

'When it's in an excitable state then? That's what the book said. It said that when you get an erection your penis is ready. What happens then?'

They were in the kitchen. The next thing Otta's mother does, ever practical, is to extract a carrot from the fridge. She brandishes the full-on orange object.

'Imagine this is your penis darling.'

'It's nowhere near that big mum. Is it supposed to be that big? Mine's nowhere near that big. Should we go to doctor about it?'

'No of course not darling….this represents your penis.'

'So will it be that big……when I'm older?'

'I do hope so darling……I mean probably…or maybe. I really don't know darling. I imagine they come in all sizes. You could always ask your father.'

'Don't you know? Do I have to ask Dad?'

'No darling, not if you don't want to.'

'So what happens next then? It mentions in the book….gentle friction? Does that mean rubbing it up and down?'

'Basically, yes darling….but not too hard. Just enough.'

'For how long? It didn't say in the book.'

'For……..as long as you need to darling.'

'And then what happens….when you've done it for as long as you need to?'

Poor mother is speechless by this time. She draws her beloved son to her bossom and holds the boy against her. She is close to tears. Her feelings for her son are so intense that she can barely control herself. Her love for her beautiful boy has no bounds, and at that moment she decides that he has a right to know the truth, so she tells him. She sits him down at the kitchen table and tells him.

Five minutes later Otta thanks his mother. She deserves it….such bravery in the line of duty.

The next morning, when Otta comes down to breakfast, his mother takes just a little more notice of her son.

The previous afternoon he's made good progress with the little blue book, but he kept returning to one or two of the more engaging passages……around about page thirty…..the bit about self-abuse. That evening, in bed, he had put the covers down over his thighs so he could study his penis. He knew that as he got older he would have hair around it, but at this moment he had none. He wasn't entirely sure if he wanted any or not. He knew what he did want though. Sometimes he went to bed wearing a pair of his brief underpants…the simple type that you could feel everything through easily, rather than those other ones that were more complicated and frankly, rather unattractive, at least to him if not his mother.

He began the great adventure. He felt his penis and testicles through the soft cotton, gently moving his fingers up and down, and in and around. Thoughts began to drift into his mind. He thought about Tom for a while, and then abandoned the idea of him because he might not like to be thought of in that way. In the end he didn't need anything more than the sight of his own, and now fully operational penis. That proved to be a sufficient stimulus. He remembered the book. Apply gentle friction….

At one point, about five minutes into the project, he thought he would have to stop. He imagined that what he was doing was wrong…not immoral or anything like that, but wrong because it felt wrong somehow. While he was thinking these thoughts, he found that he had almost lost control of his hand as it moved along the smooth shaft of his erection. He found it felt better in certain places, or to be specific, in one particular place. He found that if he used his other hand, he could hold his testicles in his fingers. He had often played with them.

He stopped briefly for a rest, and wondered if he should carry on. He squeezed his penis several times. A tiny bead of clear liquid appeared. He touched it with the tip of his index finger. It felt slippery. His breathing became faster as he realised that what he wanted so badly, whatever it was, might actually happen. That was the first sign…the stuff he had just produced. That meant it was going to happen surely?

He began to move the skin that surrounded his penis. It moved nicely as his fingers enclosed it. He moved his fingers a little higher to that part he had found earlier.

It was a mixture of panic, elation, surprise and euphoria all rolled into one. The process Otta had begun had moved inexorably towards orgasm.

Otta has Shreddied Wheat to start with….with just a small spoonful of sugar sprinkled over it…bowl half full of the organic milk his mother insists upon, and delivered by a local co-operative. Otta makes a start , one elbow on the table.

'Darling, are you alright?'

'Yes mum, I'm fine thanks.'

'Are you sure darling? Didn't you sleep well?'

'Mum…I'm fine. Please mum, don't.'

Otta looks up at his mother, his green eyes just under the uncombed mid brown hair that falls forward over his forehead. His hair will need a trim before school next week. It's just a little ragged around his ears. His mother looks back at her beloved son. Otta smiles at her again, spoon poised.

'Mum, I'm fine. It's fine too….if you must know.'

Flushing vivibly, she turns towards the stove, pretending to adjust the position of two stainless steel cooking pans that she will use later, probably. She remaks to herself that they will need a proper clean soon….Ajax will do it. She knows that her son must grow to be a man one day and she will, in one sense, lose him, but please God…not yet….and something else…..please let puberty be painless.

Otta replaces the spoon in the bowl. He stands as the chair scrapes the vinyl floor covering noisily. His mother, not oblivious to the moment, turns to face her son. His face is asking the question and she responds in the way she always does and always will do.

Otta finds her arms around him a comfort, albeit something she must never do in public. He is certain of her love, and he knows that is unconditional. He will survive boarding school because of it.

END OF ACT ONE
NOW PLEASE READ ACT TWO

This two part story has a voting section for the Inspired by a Picture: Cold, Wet, and Muddy writing challenge. Please read the second act at the end of which the voting appears.

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