The Observer

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 19

James is excited. Playing the church organ is a new and exciting challenge for him. I love the sound of that instrument, and what a joy it was when I heard that bell-like voice of his, in times past, standing as he did amidst those angels, beneath more angels carved in stone.

Elliot had waited until the end of James' organ lesson, sitting quietly at the back of that magnificent church, now half the size of King Edward's original. The grave of Spike Milligan stands opposite the entrance near the road, the grass beaten down by visitors who want to read the Greek inscription on the simple stone…..'I told them I was ill'. Such a tortured genius.

Jane and I chat rather aimlessly over post coital coffee, waiting for the boys to return. I'm thinking about what I have left inside her. Maybe she's thinking about that too, but neither of are about to discuss it. I would have come out of her, but she held me in her. She made sure that I could not escape. Very clever madam. Part of my body may soon be part of hers.

The boys are back.

'Can I go to Rye later Mum? Elliot found something for me. It's at Watchbell Street. Can I?'

Watchbell Street. It's unusual for James to be away for the night when his mother is at home. She's away so much these days. From time to time, the lure of Mathew took him away from her, so Mathew could indulge himself freely with his compliant boyfriend. Indulge himself he did too. I have listened, shamefully, through a wall, and my own fulfilment was unseen and unknown.

James undoes the little flat package that Elliot has given him. The three of us are in the kitchen as Elliot's gift is revealed. James' reaction is typical……..

'Oh wow! These are lovely Elliot. Thanks!'

It's a collection of drawing pencils, and a rubber which we now apparently we have to call an 'eraser', and a pencil sharpener. Elliot stands against the wall, hair unkempt and interestingly abandoned, with a big smile on his face. James walks over to him. He looks upset, his face flushed, eyes visibly watering. Arms are around Elliot now. He hugs him hard, and not letting him go. Elliot's arms were behind his back. Now they too respond to James' gesture. So sweet.

I have a little surprise too. I knew what Elliot had bought for James, so to complete matters, I presented James with a new sketchbook.

'There…….no excuse now James.'

Elliot sits at the kitchen table with James opposite him. Ten minutes later, James has completed his first drawing of Elliot. It's a portrait, and it's a nice one……..loose and impressionistic. He's acquired these skills from school. All credit to his art teacher for encouraging such an explorative approach. It took me years to get where he seems to be in just weeks.

Elliot, elbow on the table, is looking down with his head against the palm of his hand. It has everything of James in it…….undemonstrative, thoughtful, and sensitive.

Elliot is expected home by one o'clock. I take James home shortly after Elliot leaves the house. I haven't seen Elliot's mother since last week, but on my way back from parking the car, I run into her. Rye is a busy place, and one tends to say hello to someone you know, and just keep walking. She stops, which means there will be a conversation. The High Street pavement is full, so we turn the corner into the quieter West Street.

'Otta, I wanted to ask you about Fairlight. How was it? Elliot seemed to enjoy himself.'


She laughs.

'Yes, it is isn't it. Do you think you'll go back some time?'

There is a definite edge to her question. I know what her husband does for a job. Elliot told me. He works in London for an investment bank. Usual thing…….the train to Ashford, and then up to 'town' from there. In the winter it's out of the house before dawn, and back in the dark. In the summer, it's not so bad. It's late August now, and the days are already shortening as a new year at school looms for those unfortunates. I answer her question……

'Possibly, but it's quite hard work don't you think…..all that posing on the beach naked?'

'Umm. Best not to think about how you look. Just do it. Who cares anyway?'

'Quite. You can't do that at Camber can you?'

'Up to a point, you can. You have to hide yourself up in the dunes. It's no problem, and it's not so far to travel.'

That's true. Fairlight is a ten mile journey by car, plus the hike to the beach. I'm sensing an invitation here, so I respond positively……..

'Maybe we can join you at Camber sometime?'

'Of course. Tomorrow? Elliot's at a loose end. The forecast is good I think.'

I tell her that James isn't at a loose end, because his mother requires his presence at home tomorrow. That's a pity.'

I now know Elliot's mother's name. It's Ellie. Elliot and Ellie? I picked them up from their house. Elliot and I followed her with all the kit from the expensive car park at Camber to her favourite spot, about twenty yards back from the beach and up into the dunes. I know the place very well, but didn't let on to her. You can get away from it all up there if you want to, or need to. If a woman wants to take her top off up she can with impunity. You might get seen by a passing child exploring the narrow tracks that run up and down the dunes, but that's all. If you organize a couple of wind breaks around you, one's privacy is nigh on complete. Some people just don't bother about privacy, or behaving badly in public. I once saw at Camber, high up in the dunes, a girl masturbating her boyfriend quite openly. I walked on…….of course. When I was over the brow of the next dune, I stopped and looked back. The couple were about fifteen yards away at a guess. She had her mouth over the young man's penis. She withdrew a couple of times to inspect him. I assume he'd just come. I found that little surprise hugely erotic.

At Camber that morning I learnt a good deal about Elliot's family setup. I got the distinct impression that Ellie wouldn't be averse to a little extra-marital activity, but I could be totally wrong about that. She was flirting with me, and I was quite flattered by that. She must be one of those bored housewives you hear about. That's suits me. Sex is a rare commodity for me, so I'll take anything within reason that's on offer, but I'm not in the business of interfering with someone else's marriage. Suffice it to say, she did give me the benefit of seeing her bare chest for three hours, and if one puts one's preferences to one side for a moment, a very nice chest it is too………small and cutely girlish, with nicely pronounced very post-pubertal nipples. She did keep her bikini bottoms on, which left little to the imagination. In return, I wore brief swimming togs, which likewise leave little to the imagination. From time to time, when Elliot was doing this and that, the containing efficiency of my trunks was put to the test. Ellie made no sign to me that she had noticed, but I'm sure she had, at least I hope so. It's all part of the game. Elliot, post bathing, slipped into something more comfortable , as they say. For once, he had come prepared with a fetching pair of brief cotton knickers that seemed to have a life of their own, riding up nicely between his buttocks. His mother ensures that the newly exposed pale skin is treated with sun protection. Elliot squirms in irritation at this assault on his bottom. He lies for a half hour on his tummy. He has no book to read, so has to be contents with his thoughts. When he turns over, it's towards me. He's twelve years old…nearly thirteen in fact. His mother is buried in her book. Elliot glances up at me. I smile. He smiles and looks down. I raise my eyebrows in that way one does, with an air of amused disapproval. Then he turns onto his back with closed eyes. I look at his mother. She looks sideways at her son. Her glance lingers for a few moments, and then she returns to her book. Proud mum. Ten minutes later……

'Can I go in again please?'

'Not now darling. Why don't you play in the sand for a while? Try not to get sand all over you.'

Elliot gets to his feet. He slips off his pants, drops to his knees, and begins playing with handfuls of warm soft sand. My sketchbook is at my feet. I've already been busy, but here's a great pose.

'Do you mind if I sketch Elliot?' I enquire of Ellie.

Of course she has no objection. I have five minutes maybe. In that time I get a reasonable result.

Elliot with wet hair, playing in the sand at Camber

Elliot with wet hair, playing in the sand at Camber

I'm sitting close enough to Ellie for Elliot to be out of earshot. She's curious……

'I gather your wife is no longer with you? I think I met her at one of the Rye Festival events. Her name is Amy isn't it?'

'Yes, and you did probably. We're not divorced. Just separated.'

'So…do you have a social life these days?'

'No, not really. You know about James I assume?'

'Yes. How did you get involved with that situation?'

'It's a long story, but basically, he's the son of a friend…….a single parent. She is a professional musician in a large orchestra, so she can be away quite a bit. James stays with me when she's not at home. We don't want him there alone. He and my son Mathew were very good friends.'


'Yes. They were best friends for ages, then poor old James got dumped a week or so ago. He's a bit upset about it.'

'What about you?'

'You mean, am I in a relationship?'


'In a word, no, but looking after James is my priority until he leaves school I suppose…..and Mathew of course. Having said that, I'm not ruling anything out……if something came along.'

'Elliot is very fond of James. It worries my husband.'

'Why? Is he intolerant of……boys being a little different?'

'No, not really. Disappointed is probably a better word. Anyway, they're not , are they?'

'I don't know. Elliot's very young still. If they are, then it's a fairly meaningless thing at his age.'

'What about James?'

'I would think it's almost certain that he will grow up to be a gay man, but an extraordinarily kind and loving one. Please don't think that he's bad for Elliot. He would never do anything to hurt or influence a younger boy.'

'I know. He's lovely. If anything happens, physically speaking, it's Elliot's choice. I'm pretty liberal. Most of us have been in a situation, if that's the right word, at one time or another. Have you?'

'Yes, once or twice.'


'Fairly recently. What about you?'

'Some time ago, but since I was married. Shall we leave it that?'

We did.

Elliot has tired of his sand play. He looks hot and bothered, and covered in sand.

'Can I go in now ?'

Elliot will be gone some time. There's more time to talk. Ellie is still curious…….

'Would your wife mind if you started a relationship?'

'No, not at all. I would find that difficult because I'm rather dedicated to James' welfare. I support him financially as well.'

'Like another little wife?'

She meant that as a joke, I think. I must have looked a little hurt…..

'Sorry Otta, that wasn't funny. Sorry.'

Another pause in the conversation. Then………

'You're very eligible , if I may say so…….or don't you think so? A man in his thirties and in good shape. Why not?'

'A few reasons I suppose. I am suffering a bit though. I admit that.'

'A man needs to release tension from time to time don't you think?'

'Yes I do, and……..I do.'

Ellie laughs…….

'On your own?'

'Mostly, although I have seen James' mother a few times.'


'And………we both relieve our respective tensions. It's all a bit cold if you must know. My heart isn't really in it.'

'So where is it then? Mathew is at boarding school I understand. Does James stay with you when he's not there?'


'Does he have his own room?'

'He shares with Mathew, or did.'

'So what happens now? He won't share with him now surely?'

'I suppose not, but that situation hasn't arisen yet, but it will do soon.'

'So you have James in with you. Why not? It's obvious that you're close to each other. Have you any qualms about that?'

'None at all.'

I see no reason for deception. I wanted her to know about the present. Ellie goes on……

'And Elliot is so fond of James. He bought him a present. Did you know? And there's a reason why he did. He's been a little selfish I think. I have a suspicion you told him. Is that right?'

'Yes I did. I thought it would be good for their friendship.'

'Thank you. I'd like them to be friends…….proper friends. Elliot is desperate for James to use him as a subject, hence the present. And you too. I saw what you did just now. Elliot would love that.'

I'd had the idea in the back of my mind for a while.

'James was thrilled with his present. What would you say if James asked Elliot to sleep over one night?'

It was risky, but worth it in my view. Ellie's reaction to my question was all I could have hoped for.

'Brilliant idea. Elliot would be ecstatic. His bedroom is being redecorated next week. Perfect timing.'

Indeed so.

Elliot found two friends on his way back from the water. He joins in with their game. There is no physical space now between Ellie and I. With Elliot preoccupied down on the beach, hopefully for ten minutes at least, I'm hoping Ellie will make a move on me. I'm sure she's working up to it.

'You poor man. Can I not help? No one's going to be hurt Otta. No one will know. Won't you let me try to make you feel better?'

'I feel fine Ellie.' I lie.

'No you don't. Why don't you let me try? You don't have to do anything . Can I ask you a personal question, while we're on the subject?'

'Of course.'

'You're on your own these days. How regular are you?'

'In terms of what?'

'Release. My husband said you need to ejaculate at least four times a week to keep healthy. He said his doctor told him. Use it or lose it he said. So….do you?'

'I think he's probably right…and I'm not going to argue.'

'How often then?'

'Once, or maybe twice a week.'

'On your own?'

'Yes unfortunately.'

'Well what about James? He's not involved presumably.'

'No. Of course not!'

'Why ever not? He's a very attractive person, and very beautiful.'

I'm not falling for that one. Some things must remain private. I'm going to protect James, as far as I'm able, but none of us are perfect human beings.

'So……will you allow me ?'

'What, now?'

'Yes, now , you dope! I'll keep an eye out for Elliot.'

'Oh……well…….that's very kind of you, but I can't guarantee anything. They say it's all in the mind.'

'That's true. Can I try? This is not a man thing…….you're not a performing seal. Just shut your eyes and think of England…..or anyone you want to. Is there anything I should know about you, health wise?

'No. You're not at any risk.'

As a schoolboy, it never happened. It would have been considered so deviant and unacceptable behaviour. Maybe it did happen but just not to me.

Ellie asked me if there was anywhere that I didn't want touched. I said I would enjoy anything she did. As it happened, she guessed right. It was off-limits for Amy, but Ellie had no such inhibitions. We lie facing each other. Her hands tease me with her gentle touching, and I'm responding nicely. I watch her face as works around my body. Now she plays with my penis. She gathers saliva on her fingers and anoints me. That's nice…..very nice. I'm getting more confident that it's going to work.

I'm lying on my back with my legs spread wide apart. I draw my legs up, and open a wide gap between my knees, hoping she would take the hint. She did. I feel her fingers slip under my balls. Suddenly, I'm in heaven.

Heaven came nearer and nearer that afternoon.

It's a job to get the sand off Elliot. That's the trouble with Camber. The sand is great, but it gets into everything. Between us, we get our boy more or less sand free, gently dusting it all off with dry towels. We look at the result. Just in our shorts, we start our walk along the beach to the car park. It's a short drive back to Rye, with that marvellous view of the town to our left, where the citadel rises out of the surrounding marsh, lit by the lowering sun. I drop them off at their Military Road house, drive on and garage the car. That evening, I have more to think about. I like Ellie. If she was free, I'd start something with her, but she's a married woman with two sons. It's not an option as far as I am concerned. Her husband is a lucky man. I imagine she is, if this afternoon is anything to go by, a good lover. Her treatment of me was effective and complete, and totally unexpected. She has also made me think about James in a new light. He's sixteen now, and willing, wanting in fact, to share his feelings with me. He does already, up to a point. I can't be selfish about this. If he can develop his relationship with Elliot, and I think he can, then that's the direction he should go in. Observing the development and fruition of that liaison would be enough for me. Just before we reached the house, I had a question for Ellie……

'You said Elliot's bedroom was being redecorated next week. That's an odd time to do that isn't it…….the last week of the school holidays?'

'It's the only week the contractors had available. No choice. It needs doing badly. Any chance?'

'Any chance of what Ellie?'

'Any chance that James will be with you? Elliot needs a few things for school, but other than that he's free all week. They could spend time together. I'd like him to stay over at yours if you wouldn't mind?'

Mind? I think not.

Jane is home next week, so that means James will be in Winchelsea with her. If you've ever been to that place, it's unlikely that you saw anybody. It's a pretty village, but deathly quiet. Teenagers will move heaven and earth to escape, by day, and by night. I think Jane will be quite happy if James spends some time in Rye. It's back to school the week after, and all work for James and Elliot, not to mention Mathew, whose academic future is definitely on the line, unless he pulls his socks up pretty quickly. We've hardly seen him the whole holiday. James is convinced he's experimenting with a girl, or girls. Well, fair enough. Each to their own.

In bed in a very quiet house is an opportunity to reflect at my leisure. I'm thinking about the generous gesture afforded to me by Elliot's mother. I like her and her refreshingly liberal attitude to life, and sex in particular. She didn't object to our taking Elliot to a nudist beach for the day, and Elliot was perfectly happy to prance around naked in public. I like that. Now she's suggesting that the boy stays over next week to avoid the smell of paint while he sleeps. I noticed in their house, quite a lot of art work. Very sensible. I also think she's keen for Elliot to model for James, and for me to supervise, and join in should I be so moved. I daresay I will be.

A sixteen year old boy argues with his mother. And so it is with Jane and her son James. She has to practise her chosen instrument several hours a day to make sure that when she performs with the BSO, she knows the pieces inside out and backwards. She is in demand as an instrumentalist these days, and that's down to me in a way. I look out for James, which relieves the pressure of parenthood on her. She's still on a guilt trip to some extent, but less than she would have been I fancy. Let's face it, we're all on guilt trips of one sort or another. As a result, if James wants to stay in Rye these days, she agrees fairly readily. He's coming on Sunday evening, and Elliot is signed up for Monday. It's our swansong….our last tango in Rye.

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