The Natural Couple

Chapter 7

By Richard Campbell

The two constables recognised Jimmy instantly and after an astonished glance at the dashboard clock which was registered after two in the morning got out of the car, approached Jimmy and Jon and started to question them expecting to hear that they were related in some fashion. The minute they understood that Jon was one of Jimmy's teachers, one of them got on to the patrol car radio and was told to bring them down to the local police station immediately. Jon who had been expecting this for months, found that the reality was no easier to endure just because he had told himself it was going to happen one day.

Jimmy was in a state of shock and unable to think at all. Nothing in his experience had prepared him for this, and he had never really believed in his heart of hearts that it would ever happen. He had been afraid before on various occasions of course, but it was nothing compared to the gut wrenching, numbing, panic, that gripped him now.

They were not allowed to speak to each other and on arrival at the station were separated, searched then taken to different interview rooms for questioning. From that point on, the nightmare for Jimmy grew steadily worse until his horrified and extremely embittered parents took him home at five o'clock in the morning. By then, the damage was done and he had, without realising it, convicted Jon of a crime that carried the possibility of one of the longest sentences that could be imposed under English law for any crime, up to and including murder.

It had been done very skilfully. When they first started to question him, the two police officers involved had deliberately used a tone that was by turns, bullying, disgusted, scornful, hectoring and sneering. Jimmy had never been spoken to like that in his entire life, and certainly not by anyone who took care to give him the impression that they had complete control over him. He kept his mouth shut but it was only with difficulty that he prevented himself from crying as they trampled over his emotions, sneered at his masculinity, assured him that they knew exactly what he had been up to, and demanded the details in the crudest possible terms. Noting his white face and shaking hands, they decided that he was sufficiently softened up, left him to stew on his own for half an hour, and sent in two very different officers.

The contrast between these two and his previous tormentors was amazing. They brought him a cup of tea, talked to him quietly and sympathetically and finally suggested discreetly and quite untruthfully, that although they knew all about the affair, they didn't take it too seriously. They had soon realised that he wouldn't fall for the 'we know you were the innocent party so if you admit it, it will be all right for you' ploy, and gently began to suggest that if he simply told them what he and Jonathan Melton had been doing, it could all be sorted out quickly and they would both be able to go home.

"It is a bit more serious for your teacher," one of them told him with pretended sincerity that Jimmy was too distraught to see through. "But I don't see why we can't sort it out once we have all the facts. In the long run it would be easier for him too, because we wouldn't have to spend too much time or effort on the case and this is bound to affect a judge's decision if it comes to court. Think about it Jimmy,"

The first pair had called him James, when they called him anything at all.

"It will make it easier for everyone, including your mother and father when they get here," he went on.

In fact his bewildered parents had arrived at the police station a good twentyfive minutes earlier but had been carefully taken into the Duty Officer's room, 'for a little chat', solely to give pair as much time as possible to work on him.

Insensibly his resolution began to waver and when he was asked sympathetically if he loved Jonathan, he broke down completely. Already suffering an anguish of guilt, desperately hoping to avert at least some of the consequences to Jon, with no experience and no-one to advise him, he fell for it. The whole story came out and as soon as they had his signed statement, they sent his parents in to him and went into conference. It appeared to be an open and shut case, but while waiting for the police surgeon to arrive, they went to try their luck on Jonathan.

He though, with more knowledge of the law than Jimmy, refused to say anything until his solicitor arrived. Using the same technique that they had used on Jimmy, they delayed calling Brian for as long as they thought they could get away with, and confronted him with Jimmy's statement. It was at this point that Jon made a damaging remark that would haunt him for the rest of his life and lead ultimately to his death.

"I may be guilty," Jon told them, "But I'm not making a statement until my solicitor is here." And from this stand, they couldn't budge him.

When the doctor arrived, both Jimmy and Jon had to endure one of the most humiliating episodes either of them had ever encountered. Samples were taken from their genitals and rears by a physician who made no pretence of hiding his distaste, and to add to their degradation, it was done in front of several policemen who were acting as witnesses.

For Jimmy's parents, who had been told in clinical detail what the doctor would be doing, this was the final crushing blow. All their lives they had been over-proud of their handsome son, and the thought of his private parts being handled by a stranger and even worse, the thought of what he had been doing with those same private parts, left them in a state of disgust and anger that he had brought this shame on them. His mother was especially affected. When they were finally allowed to take him home, both of them directed a storm of abuse and recrimination at him both during the journey and after they entered the house.

He made no attempt to defend himself. After the emotional traumas of the day, he was so numb that he was unable to react any further during the tirade. In fact he was so worn out that he fell asleep in the middle of it, an act that his furious mother took as a deliberate sign of defiance and contempt, and a personal insult to both she and his father as well. Shaking him roughly, she told him to go to bed in the coldest voice she had ever used to him.

After he had left the room they spent a fruitless hour before going to a sleepless bed, going over every possible aspect of the situation with the sole exception of the physical side. That they couldn't bring themselves to talk about. Their chief concern was if there would be any publicity when the case came up. They had been told that Jimmy's name could not be revealed, but it hadn't taken them long to realise that the press would be on to the case like a horde of scavengers as soon as Jonathan Melton was charged. It would not take long for two and two to be put together when it was known at which school he had been teaching and of course, they agreed bitterly, everyone at the school would know instantly.

Determined to present an appearance of normality for as long as possible, his mother got Jimmy up at the usual time in the morning and sent him to school, though she was unable to face the thought of going to work herself.

Jimmy virtually sleep walked through the day, looking so drawn and ill that every teacher who saw him immediately asked him if he was all right. His replies were so contradictory and disjointed that it was assumed that there was trouble of some sort at home until the headmaster called a meeting after school was over to explain the absence of Mr Melton, and to prepare them for the presence of the police the following day. Those who had noticed the close relationship between Jimmy and the teacher without even thinking about it, now discovered that they had known all along that something was up, but were careful to keep this to themselves in case they were blamed for not bringing it to somebody's attention.

Of the entire staff, only two teachers felt any sympathy for Jimmy, and only one of those had any for Jonathan.

Had Jimmy been in any state to notice, the attitude of his teachers to him changed overnight. Where he had been popular and felt to be a good influence in the school, most now thought him to be a danger to the others, and it was decided that he was to be carefully watched during the remaining weeks of the term. Fortunately, he didn't even notice this as he was missing Jon terribly, and was in any case, far too wrapped up in his misery and guilt.

Within three days the story, battened onto by an ecstatic press, was all over the school and whereas with some exceptions, his school fellows were generally indifferent apart from a prurient interest in the details natural to their age, he was not given too hard a time by them. What he did find hard and it was one of the few things that temporarily jolted him out of his depression, was to be called into the headmaster's office and warned that he was to keep his hands to himself. The school would be watching him and if he approached any of the boys, in or out of school, with sexual intent, he would be expelled.

He lost his temper.

"I don't think, sir that it's any of your business what I do or who I do it with outside school," he said furiously, adding sarcastically, "But I promise I won't screw anyone in school time or on school premises."

The head, extremely angry at the adverse publicity the school was getting and severely criticised by his Board of Governors, informed Jimmy icily that apart from the times when he was actually writing exams, his presence in the school was no longer required.

His parents were notified in a curt letter of the reason for his virtual expulsion and after a meeting with the head, knew that there was nothing they could do about it. There were only a few weeks left of the term in any case, so they decided that his mother would take time off work to keep an eye on him. At least Jonathan Melton had not been granted bail when he appeared in the magistrates court, so there was no danger of the two of them meeting. But neither parent trusted him any longer.

When idols are discovered to have feet of clay, the fall from the pedestal is spectacular. And irreversible.

It was not a happy arrangement. Mrs Evans was coldly angry and bitterly resentful at the position that Jimmy had put them in, particularly after the humiliating interview with the head. Jimmy was sullen at their lack of understanding and his inability to make them realise that he loved Jonathan. They refused to believe that his love was just as deep and genuine as that in any heterosexual relationship, considered it to be a perversion of the worst order, and of course, one of the most serious of mortal sins in the eyes of the church. From there it was a short step to deciding that he had consciously and deliberately selected a loathsome way of life, and one which encompassed acts so depraved that his soul was inevitably headed for perdition. He had perversely chosen to do evil, and after all their care of him too! The fact that he had not the slightest choice in the matter of his sexual orientation, any more than someone disabled, black or Chinese chooses to be born that way, was a conception that was completely out of their range of experience or thought.

Their one attempt to get the parish priest to talk to him, was a disaster. As soon as the man walked into the house, Jimmy swore at him, told him to get out and take his God with him, then walked out of the house himself when the priest tried to reason with him. He didn't return until late that night.

He did at least manage to escape occasionally to Jon's house for which he still had his key. It was one of the few things that he had managed to keep from the police and everyone else, and it was his only solace in the weeks that followed. The first time he went there, he found that after the police had searched it, they had left it in a total mess. Jon's possessions had been shoved back any old how if at all, and he spent several hours tidying it up as a labour of love. It helped until he started on Jon's clothing when completely overcome, he threw himself onto the bed and cried as if his heart would break. Facing the inevitable inquisition when he got home, he said coldly that he had been walking and thinking. His mother was not satisfied with this answer but was unable to pry anything further out of him.

He wrote his exams indifferently, though his first class memory and Jonathan's excellent coaching served him in good stead, but would not have bothered with them at all had not been forced into going to school by his mother. He arrived just before each session started and left immediately it finished, knowing that he was under observation the entire time and wondering cynically if he would be escorted off the premises like a criminal. But I am one he thought later, and was slightly comforted at sharing even this small thing with his lover, and went into a fantasy of them sentenced to jail, and sharing a cell together for the rest of their lives. This had it's inevitable effect on him and he received some small comfort from masturbating twice. The comfort was fleeting however, and he was soon back in a state of profound depression.

Then two days before his last exam he received a phone call from Brian Masters asking him to come and see him. Brian gave him no further information, but he knew that it could only be about Jon and insensibly his heart lifted. He'd had no news of him since the report of his first court appearance.

The call came while his mother was shopping and he said nothing about it on her return. If both parents were still angry with him, he was just as angry with them, and had already told them during one of their daily arguments, complaints and recriminations, that as he hadn't asked them to have him in the first place, they could bloody well put up with him. This hadn't gone down well, and their relationship was deteriorating at an ever increasing rate.

In their pettiness as he saw it, they had confiscated his Building Society account book but he knew where it was and simply collected it before going to school to write his final exam. He indifferently handed in his papers well before any of the others had finished, then went to the Building Society and withdrew everything except the small sum required to keep it the account open. The young cashier was very helpful because she rather fancied him, but he was too excited about the impending appointment to notice.

It was while he was waiting for Brian to finish with a previous client that he began to worry about what his attitude would be. He knew that Brian had been a close friend of Jon's since their school days, and could well be blaming him for what had happened. But as it turned out, he was the first person to give Jimmy any sympathy since Jon's arrest and Jimmy was so overcome that he burst into tears. He had been carrying a very heavy burden on his own for far too long, and couldn't help himself. Brian got him a cup of coffee and let him cry himself out putting in a calm word now and then as the story of the last few weeks came out.

He had liked Jimmy at their first meeting and even if Jon had not asked him to keep an eye on him, his heart would have gone out to him at that moment. Though angry at the total lack of support from Jimmy's parents, he felt it better not to say so and concentrated on calming him down. He did make a mental note however, that if he had children of his own one day, no matter how they turned out or what they did, he wouldn't treat them the same way.

Once Jimmy was calm enough to take it in, he gave him Jon's message of love and reassurance and was glad to see his spirits lift a little. He thought Jimmy looked thin and ill and in a pause in their conversation, rang Tim Lake and asked him to look him over. Tim told him to send Jimmy round when they had finished and asked Brian to ring him as soon as Jimmy left the office to bring him up to date.

One of the reasons that Jon had been refused bail, apart from an extra touch of punishment by the magistrate, had been to make sure that he had no contact with Jimmy, so it wasn't possible for Brian to carry any letters between them. But he had no qualms about passing on any verbal messages and made a careful note of all that Jimmy wanted him to tell Jon. Basically it amounted to the fact that Jimmy was desperately sorry for what had happened, and loved and missed him more than he could say. This took rather a long time but boiled down to a short note on Brian's pad.

When Jimmy had talked himself out, Brian asked him to go into details about his questioning at the police station. He felt that there might be grounds here for having the case thrown out. The police had skated very near the edge of the law but he was well aware that they were never over scrupulous in their treatment of homosexuals, especially when a child was involved, and most judges were the same. However, he didn't want to raise Jimmy's hopes unnecessarily and as he was fairly certain that Jon would receive a prison sentence whatever transpired, kept his thoughts to himself. His estimation of Jimmy went up another notch when Jimmy asked him if he could give evidence in court.

"You see Brian," he said, "I know that it was all my fault. Not just when I was questioned and gave everything away, but because Jon would never have touched me if I hadn't made him. I love him," he added, his voice catching momentarily, "And I want to, no ... I have to do anything I can to help him now, to make up for it. Will it help do you think ?"

"I don't know Jimmy," Brian answered carefully. "It might, but on the other hand it could make things worse. It would depend on who the judge is."

"What do you mean?" Jimmy asked. "The law is the law isn't it, what difference does it make which judge it is?"

"Judges are human, Jimmy. There are good ones and bad ones and many have the same prejudices as ordinary people, I'm sorry to say. It could make a considerable difference to Jon."

"But that's not fair," Jimmy burst out. "A judge is supposed to be ..." he hesitated, searching for the correct word, "Impartial. And what about the jury?"

"There isn't going to be a jury, Jimmy."

Jimmy looked at him. "Why not, it's a big case isn't it?"

"Yes it is. But Jon is going to plead guilty."

Jimmy came out of his chair with a rush. "No!" he said urgently, "No! He can't do that. You mustn't let him!" He leant over the desk, supporting himself with both hands.

"There's no other choice, Jimmy. He confessed to it. All we can do is bring up any mitigating circumstances and try to get as short a sentence as we can." He looked sadly at the panting boy, wishing that he had been able to prepare the ground in advance. "He's going to go to prison Jimmy, whatever happens. You have to accept that."

Jimmy stood completely still, unbelieving for a moment. Then he brought his hand up and hammered his fist against the wall, harder than he had ever hit anything in his life. Fortunately the plasterboard partitioning absorbed most of the force. He stood there looking dazed. Brian came round the desk rapidly and held his arms for a moment.

"Stop it, Jimmy. Calm down," he commanded in a voice that brooked no argument. "It's not going to help anyone if you put yourself into hospital, and it's certainly not going to help Jon."

Jimmy relaxed suddenly and allowed himself to be pushed gently back into the chair. His hand was starting to hurt and he wondered vaguely if he had broken anything.

"I'm sorry, Brian," he muttered, "I don't know what came over me."

"It's all right, don't worry about it." He waited a moment then said, "Do you understand what you would have to go through if we call you as a witness? We would ask you questions of course, but the prosecutor and judge could also ask you for some very intimate details you know, and you'd have to answer them." He stopped as he saw Jimmy's lips tighten, then went on, "And from what you've told me I don't think your parents would like it much."

"Do you think I care about that?" Jimmy asked. "It's Jon who's important, not them or me."

"Are you sure about it?"

Jimmy nodded, "Yes," he said with decision, "I'm sure."

"Good," Brian said approvingly. "If the barrister approves, we'll go for it."

He spent the next hour going over things with Jimmy, made an appointment to see him the following week, promised faithfully to pass his messages to Jon, then sent him off to Tim Lake in a happier frame of mind than he had been since his world fell apart. He gave Jimmy his home as well as his office number, made him promise to telephone if he had any problems that he couldn't cope with, and also offered to look after the remainder of his Building Society money. Jimmy had no faith in his ability to hide it from his mother, who was increasingly walking unannounced into his bedroom simply, as he told himself bitterly, to look for evidence of what he'd been doing.

Tim, brought up to date by Brian, greeted him calmly and gave him a thorough check over, including his hand which was sore and beginning to swell. Apart from bruising, there was nothing much wrong with it though he would find it difficult to use it for a couple of days. About Jimmy's emotional state he was less happy, but there was little that he could do about it himself. What the boy needed was someone to talk to, but gentle and discreet probing revealed that although he had been very popular, Jimmy had never had any particularly close friends, and the one person who could really have helped was not available.

He too told Jimmy to call him if he needed him, and told him to come and see him after his next talk with Brian. He was touched when Jimmy offered to pay him for his services, but told him not to worry about it, he was doing it as much for Jon as for Jimmy himself. Jimmy almost broke down again, but managed, by clenching his teeth hard, to avoid anything more than suspiciously shining eyes. Tim gave him a hug, sent him home then rang Brian and invited him to supper the next night and that evening had a long talk to his wife, Marion.

It was late by the time Jimmy got home to face a barrage of questions from his angry mother. She appeared so convinced that he had been out having sex somewhere, although she never actually put it into words, that he was tempted to make up a story about being picked up by a sailor and taken to a hotel. Fortunately his talks with Brian and Tim had done him so much good he was able to suppress the impulse, and he fobbed her off with his usual story of just walking and thinking.

With no further studying to do, he had a lot of time on his hands and although he spent hours dreaming about Jon and thinking back over their moments together, found himself becoming bored, and as the relationship with his mother worsened, began to think seriously about leaving home. With this in mind, he got a part time job in his small local supermarket, stacking shelves, and the relative freedom this gave him did him a great deal of good. He quickly discovered however, that getting even the pokiest of furnished rooms was well beyond his means, and had to resign himself to the fact that he'd have to live at home for the forseeable future..

It was a sign of his growing maturity that he tried to make peace with his parents by offering them something towards his keep, but they would have none of it. He decided, quite correctly, that they felt it gave them another hold over him, rather than a desire for him to keep what he earned. They still had hopes of leading him, a repentant sinner, back into the arms of the Church

In the meantime, Marion, Tim and Brian had got together and talked over the entire situation. On Brian's insistence, they had faced the fact that Jonathan was not going to be with them for some years to come and they concentrated, as he had asked them to, on what best to do for Jimmy. When Brian had seen Jon and passed on Jimmy's messages, Jon had had tears in his eyes. He loved Jimmy deeply and having given up all hope for himself, his only concern was to make sure that the boy suffered as little as possible. With this in mind he had given Brian his power of attorney and begged him to do what he could for him.

Jon had been both surprised and upset by Mr and Mrs Evans' attitude. That they should hate and blame him he could understand, but the way they seemed to be taking it out on their son was beyond his comprehension.

It was he who came up with a solution to the most pressing of Jimmy's problems. Brian had been about to end the lease on the house but Jon asked him he keep on paying the rent for the time being as a bolt hole for Jimmy if he needed it. Brian agreed and Jon was returned to his cell happier than he had been since his arrest, at even this second-hand contact with his boy.

Of his own situation, he deliberately refused to think. He was already experiencing the type of remarks that he supposed he would have to get used to as best he could. Although in a cell of his own, there are no secrets in prison and there were plenty of opportunities for homophobic remarks and taunts from those on both sides of the cell doors. Some of the muttered remarks from the prisoners made his blood run cold, and he realised that it was going to be far worse once he was sentenced, and in prison properly. To prepare himself, he had questioned Brian closely about the possible length of his sentence and realised that he was facing the possibility of five years. In fact it would turn out to be far worse than either of them had imagined.

The case was heard three weeks later by an elderly judge who considered that he had a mission to clean up the cesspool (his own word) that Britain had become. The advent of an extreme right-wing government some years previously under a cold-hearted woman who had never in her life admitted that she was wrong, and had no intention of doing so once she reached the pinnacle of power, had reinforced the judge's belief. He would never have admitted, even to himself, that he was looking forward to the case, but as he made his way to the courtroom, there was a certain spring in his step, unusual in one normally so staid. The clerk of the court who noticed everything, remarked on it in his mind and privately pitied the poor bastards who would be coming up for sentencing that day.

His Lordship, poker faced, quickly set about dealing summarily with the first offenders on his list. Jon, waiting in a holding cell for his turn fortunately did not see the look his barrister exchanged with the clerk as three felons were swiftly despatched to their fates.

"Christ," the clerk whispered, "All the bugger needs is a black cap and a gallows in the courtyard today."

Brian who had been sitting with Jimmy in the witness room, going over the procedure again, came in at that point and his heart sank. He knew the judge by reputation.

Jon was brought in, the case began and he pleaded guilty as charged in a low voice. The judge, ordered him to repeat it in a louder, on the grounds that no one had been able to hear him the first time. It was to set the tone of the rest of the case.

Until then, Jon had been able to remain fairly calm by simply not thinking about it but his detachment deserted him as the prosecutor started her submission. She was young as prosecutors go, exceptionally ambitious and this was a very important case. She was determined to make the most of it. In this she was ably, if subtly, aided and abetted by his Lordship. As Jon had pleaded guilty, she had no need to do anything other than state the bare facts and let them speak for themselves. But the press were present in force and her immediate superior was in the body of the court to see how well she did, so although the conviction was secure she went all out for the most severe sentence possible in order to make her mark. Her name was Martha Jackson.

As she went into the details she used language that intentionally turned something that had been tender and loving between Jon and Jimmy, into a sordid sexual romp of an older person who should have known better, cynically taking advantage of and seducing a boy hardly into his teens. That, this older man had done it once was bad enough, but to continue the affair, culminating in him offering himself to the teenager for anal intercourse over a period of months, proved him to be a pervert in a guise that she had never before come across. She spoke fluently and extremely well, as she painted a picture of Jon as a ravening sexual monster. So skilled was her drawing of the scenes that 'this older man' had indulged in with the boy, that those in the public gallery gazed at Jon with a sort of fascinated, though prurient, horror, and muttered among themselves until curbed sternly by the judge. When she finally sat down, the judge though outwardly impartial, inwardly agreed with her every word. The case seemed clear cut to him, the verdict was of course a foregone conclusion, but he waited with interest to see what the defence would have to say.

Jon's barrister took his time before he called Jimmy, his first and only witness. The public who had been hoping that they would see him, gave a gratified sigh at the sight of his blonde good looks, and many of them, male and female alike, wondered exactly what secrets were hidden under his neat clothes. Jimmy had eyes for no-one but Jon, and stumbled slightly while entering the witness box because of it.

The first sensation came when he refused to take the oath, telling the judge in his clear, attractive voice that he had no belief in God, and therefore would not consider it binding. This was not the first time it had occured in his Lordship's court, but it was certainly the first time that one so young had defied the normal procedure. It did Jimmy no good at all in his eyes. He allowed him to make an affirmation instead, but warned him severely of the consequences of perjury.

"I want you to understand very clearly what will happen if you do not tell the exact truth," he said in cold, measured tones.

Jimmy looked at him for a moment, seeing with the clear sight of youth, someone who enjoyed his power.

"I know what truth is and I know what it means," he said quietly. "I'm not ashamed of saying it here."

The judge nodded gravely, confirmed in his belief that modern youth was exactly what he thought it was. Impertinent and badly in need of discipline. It was a pity that national service had been abolished, that took the stuffing out of them quickly enough (he had not, for medical reasons, done it himself). Jimmy had turned back to Jon as soon as he had finished speaking, trying to signal with his eyes, don't worry, I know what I'm doing.

Neither Brian nor Michael Swain, Jon's barrister, had indicated what line of questioning they had planned to take, feeling that it was better if it came as a surprise to Jimmy. "We don't want to give the impression that we have set this up," the barrister had said in one of their early discussions.

"Jimmy," the barrister said in a conversational tone, "You appear to be a very independent minded young man. Is this true would you say?"

Jimmy turned reluctantly away from Jon, thinking about it. "I suppose I am, I never really thought about it."

"But you have obviously thought enough to know that you don't believe in God?"

"Yes sir, that's true."

"Were you brought up to believe in God and religion generally?"

"Oh yes," Jimmy replied. "Both my parents are very religious and I always went to Mass on Sundays."

"How long is it since you stopped believing?"

"Since I was about twelve. I started thinking about it when ..." he broke off.

"Since when Jimmy?"

Jimmy looked at him worriedly. "I'm not sure if I want to say this out loud," he said quietly.

"Is it something you are ashamed of?"

"Oh no. But it's private. About me," he added.

"Yes I understand," the barrister said equally quietly. "But I would appreciate it if you would tell us all the same."

Again Jimmy looked at him, wondering what point he was trying to make. He wished they had warned him about this, he would have been more careful what he said. But looking at the imposing figure in wig and gown in front of him he thought, well he's on our side, so he must know what he's doing.

"Well," he said slowly, "It is private but I'll tell you." His tone excluded everyone else in the courtroom. He took a deep breath. "It was when my voice broke and I found out about wan ... I mean masturbating," he corrected himself hurriedly. He coloured slightly as he added softly, "I did tell you it was private."

"Thank you Jimmy, I know that this is hard for you, but you did promise to tell the truth. You're not ashamed of it? "

"Of course not," Jimmy said rather scornfully. "Everyone does it. Even all the people in this room. Though maybe not for a long time," he added thoughtfully, to the amusement of the reporters, one of whom whispered to a colleague,

"Probably the best remark of the day and we can't print a word of it!"

"Why in particular did this start you thinking about the Church?"

"Well it all seemed so stupid. What they said, I mean. So, so illogical. They kept telling me it was wrong even to think about it let alone do it and why? Just because some book written thousands of years ago told a story about a man who spilled his, his stuff on the ground and suddenly it's a sin for everyone forever. I mean, it doesn't make sense. The guys who wrote the book, who's to say they even got the story right? There was a man who said in about 1900 I think, that something heavier than air would never be able to fly. If he had written that in the bible two thousand years ago, it still wouldn't be true, would it? Even if he had written it ten thousand years ago."

"Just answer the question, please," the judge said coldly.

"Yes sir," Jimmy said, then turned back to Michael Swain thinking, I'll say what I like if it helps Jon, just try to stop me.

"I would like to ask you another personal question Jimmy," the barrister smiled at him.

Jimmy braced himself, but the question when it came was an easy one.

"Are you homosexual?"

"Oh yes, sir," Jimmy answered casually.

"How long have you known this?"

Jimmy smiled slightly, "Since I was, oh ... about six or seven I suppose."

"Six or seven years old?" interposed the judge sharply.

Jimmy turned to him. "Not in a ... in a sex way," he replied thoughtfully, "But I knew that I was different from other boys, even if I really didn't know why."

"When did you find out, in a sexual sense?" the barrister asked.

"That was when I started wan ... er, masturbating. I used to think about boys I liked. Not girls. That's when I really knew."

"And you were about twelve at the time?"

"About that I think, because I had only just started my second term in secondary school."

"Have you ever slept with a girl or a woman?"

For the first time, Jimmy looked uncomfortable "Yes, I have. Once," he replied, second guessing the next question.

This boy is even sharper than I anticipated, the barrister thought, as he framed his next question, "How old were you at the time?"

"I was fifteen."

"Did you enjoy it?"

Jimmy shrugged. "It was okay."

There was a stir in the public gallery which he ignored.

"Why just 'okay', Jimmy? Most boys your age would have been delighted if it had happened to them."

"Yes sir, I know. But for me it was ... well, she was sort of flabby. Not like a boy at all. When I did it to her, it was okay, but not as good as when I was with another boy. That was much better."

"So before you met Jonathan Melton, you had had sex with other boys?"

Jimmy nodded.

"Answer the question out loud," the judge said sternly then after Jimmy’s 'yes sir' turned to the barrister and said in an impatient voice, "Mr Swain, is all this necessary to your defence?"

"It is your Lordship. I am trying to show how the relationship came about."

"Very well, you may carry on."

The barrister said quietly, "Thank you," then turned again to Jimmy. "I will come back to that question again in a minute, but I want to go back to the episode with the woman. How did it happen? What I mean is, did you initiate it?"

"Oh no sir. I hadn't even thought about it," then added in a burst of candour, "I was watching another boy and thinking that he was really good looking and, and wanting him when I looked up suddenly and saw her looking at me. Looking at my trousers. I was embarrassed because I had a ... " he broke off for a minute, his face red, then continued, "Well anyway, she came over to talk to me, it was at a wedding you see. And we went out into the garden, it was big and rather wild and ... and then it happened," he finished with a slight shrug.

"How did it start Jimmy, did you start to kiss her, or touch her first?"

"Oh no sir. She did all that. She started kissing me, then she put one of my hands on her tit, I mean breast, and it just went on from there."

"Did you enjoy being kissed?"

"Not very much. Her lipstick was greasy and I didn't want it on my face. Also I didn't like her tongue in my mouth."

"What happened after that?

"Then she ... well, she touched me."

"Where exactly?"

Jimmy gulped. "Here sir," he said, putting his hand on his crotch.

"On your genitals?" the barrister asked quickly, forestalling the judge before he could order Jimmy to speak out loud.

"Yes sir," Jimmy replied, relieved that he wasn't going to have to say, 'on my cock'.

"I see. Now, I want you to think about this next question very carefully and to answer it absolutely truthfully. I know it might be embarrassing for you, but it is important."

Jimmy looked at him seriously, "You can ask me anything sir. I'll tell you the truth."

"Right Jimmy, thank you. Now, you said that after kissing you, the woman put her hand on you." He paused to make sure that he had everyone's attention then said, "When she did that, did you have an erection?"

Jimmy went scarlet. Oh Christ, he thought, I can't answer this, not in front of all these people. Then he thought of Jon, of Jon depending on him, and looked up, unconsciously squaring his shoulders. "No sir, er, not then."

The delighted people in the public gallery stirred and whispered. His face still bright red, Jimmy ignored them, looking only at the barrister.

"But you achieved one later didn't you?"

"After she had, er, taken it out and played with it. I couldn't have done it to her otherwise," he added thinking defiantly, 'fuck you, you pricks', at the people in the public gallery.

"Thank you Jimmy," said the barrister, giving him an approving nod and taking a sip of water to give Jimmy time to recover his composure.

"Now you told us earlier that you had had sex with other boys before the episode with the woman and before you met Jonathan Melton. Is that correct?"

"Yes sir."

"How many boys?"

"Jeeze sir, I don't keep count. Maybe six or seven."

"And how old were you the first time?"

"I was twelve."

"Why do you remember that?"

"Well it was before my voice broke, so I must have been twelve."

"Did you take the lead?"

"No sir, I didn't know what it was all about then."

"But you let him touch you?"

"Yes sir. He was older than me and I liked him very much. I also wanted to see what his ... I mean what he looked like."

"He brought you to a climax?"

"Yes sir."

"Did you enjoy it?"

"It was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me," Jimmy said sincerely.

"Did you go looking for boys to have sex with after that?"

"Well sometimes they came to me, but mostly I was the one who started it."

"Did you enjoy it each time?"

"Yes sir. In a way, each time seemed better than the one before. I, I loved it."

"What did you do with these boys Jimmy? What I mean is," he went on when he saw Jimmy's slightly puzzled frown, "What type of sexual acts did you do?"

Jimmy's face cleared. "It was just masturbation," he said with no trace of embarrassment.

"Was it mutual?"

"Yes, sir. Only one of the boys didn't like doing it to me. He liked it a lot though when I did it to him."

"Did you enjoy touching him?"

"I loved it," Jimmy said firmly.

"Did you ever do anything other than mutual masturbation?"

"No sir. I wanted to try, other things, but none of the boys I went with would let me."

"Did you try to persuade them?"

"Not after they said no," Jimmy answered, shaking his head. "I wouldn't make anyone do something they didn't want to."

"Thank you Jimmy, you have been very honest with us. Now I would like to get this absolutely clear. Since you were twelve, you have had sex with six or seven boys and with one woman. You enjoyed it tremendously with the boys, but not very much with the woman. Is that correct?"

"Yes sir."

The barrister walked towards his table and pretended to consult with Brian to allow time for this to sink in. What he actually said was, "This boy is very bright, he's saying exactly what I wanted him to."

"I knew he would Michael, or I would have advised against calling him," Brian replied.

The barrister smiled faintly and walked back to Jimmy who had taken the opportunity to turn to Jonathan and smile at him.

"Jimmy, when you were with those six or seven boys, how long did it last. Did you have sex with each of them only once?"

"No sir, it was lots of times. I didn't count."

"So these affairs lasted for more than a day or two?"

"Yes. The longest one was about, four months maybe."

"And the shortest one?"

"About four weeks I suppose," Jimmy answered after a moment of thought.

"And your affair with the woman, she was older than you I imagine ?"

"Yes sir, she must have been at least twenty seven," Jimmy replied in the tone of one speaking of a female Methuselah.

"How long did the act take?"

"I don't know," Jimmy replied uncomfortably. "Maybe ten minutes, perhaps fifteen altogether."

"Would you agree then that your affairs with other boys lasted for several months over a period of about three years, and your affair with the woman lasted about fifteen minutes?"

Jimmy gave it some thought. "Yes sir, that seems about right."

"Tell me one more thing Jimmy. Apart from the sex with the woman that you have told us about, have you had opportunities to have sex with other women or girls?"

"Yes sir. A few times."

"But you didn't actually do it?"

"No sir."

"Why not?"

"I didn't want to."

"Why didn't you want to, Jimmy? Most boys would."

"I thought I explained that. I'm gay," Jimmy said in a slightly puzzled tone.

"How do you know you're gay?" Swain said sharply.

Jimmy looked at him rather helplessly. "Well, it's because I like boys and I want to have sex with them. I like girls too but only as friends, and I don't want to have sex with them. When I look at a girl nothing happens to me like it does to most of my friends. But when I look at a boy then I get, that is, you know, things happen to me like it does to them."

Jimmy are you absolutely sure that you're gay?"

"I'm sure," Jimmy answered positively.

"Do you think you will always be that way?"

"Yes sir," he said, even more positively. "I don't want to, to sleep with a, female ever again. Once was enough."

"Thank you Jimmy. I want to move on now to the time you met my client."

Having laid the groundwork, he took Jimmy rapidly through his school career, up to the point where Jonathan joined the school, took on the badminton team and their growing friendship.

"Did you like Jonathan Melton right from the beginning?"

"Yes sir. He seemed," he hesitated for a few seconds, searching for the right phrase, "He seemed almost like a, a dream to me. He was kind, and fair with the team and I know all his classes liked him. Also," he added a little shyly, "I thought he was the most beautiful person in the whole world. It's funny because I know that he's not, really. I just thought so then, and I still do," he finished quietly, smiling lovingly at Jon.

"Did you want him, sexually?"

"Christ yes," Jimmy said in a heartfelt tone. "I wanted him so much I couldn't think straight. I dreamt about him at night and I made up stupid ideas about how we would go away together and just live on a desert island somewhere with no people except us. It nearly drove me mad."

"Did you love him straight away?"

"I think so, yes," the boy replied soberly, thinking back. "I think the very first time I saw him, I knew. I'd thought I'd been in love once before, but this was different. The other was really just, just wanting sex. It was exciting and great, but it wasn't love, I knew that when I met Jon. When I was with him, I felt as if I would be able to do anything I'd ever wanted to do. And when I wasn't with him, I was never completely happy. Not sad, but as if, as if a part of me wasn't working properly. Like a car only firing on a few of it's cylinders. It didn't feel right and all the time I knew it was because of him."

He stood absolutely motionless for a moment then shook his head slightly bringing himself back to the present. "Yes sir, I loved him. I loved him then, and I love him now," he turned and looked directly at Jonathan in the dock and said, "More than I ever told him."

The barrister stood still allowing Jimmy's quiet words to drift through the court room. Only when he felt that the Judge was about to intervene did he speak.

"Jimmy," he said very quietly, "Did he ever make any sexual advances to you?"

Jimmy turned slowly away from Jon and said with deep sincerity and total honesty. "Never sir. I was the one who did it. I loved him and I wanted him and I thought about it and planned how I would bring it about. I was determined to have him and I just never gave up, even when I thought that he wasn't interested in me. It was one of the hardest things I ever did, but I knew somehow that he loved me too, and that made me more determined than ever. So I kept on and on, not letting up because I knew that my happiness, our happiness depended on it. If I had left it to him, it wouldn't have happened because he would never have started anything. It was me all the time and I've felt so bad about it ever since. Not because of loving him and what we did together but because if it hadn't been for me, he would never have been in this trouble. It's all my fault and I'm desperately sorry about it." His voice broke, and tears spangled his long eyelashes as he turned to Jonathan. "I'm so sorry Jon, so terribly sorry."

Jonathan looked at him and mouthed, don't worry love, it's all right. He didn't trust himself to speak which was fortunate because the judge would have pulled him up sharply had he done so.

As it was the judge broke the spell by telling Jimmy in an irritated voice that he was here to answer questions, not to make speeches. Jimmy took out a tissue, blew his nose hard and glared at the judge, but limited himself to an angry "Yes, sir," before turning back to his questioner.

"Jimmy," Michael Swain went on, "We have heard the prosecutor describe the progress of your affair in rather blunt terms and I have no intention of asking you about the actual details. What I do want to ask you is how you felt at the time. You have told us that you initiated the first sexual contact which took place in the shower room of the gymnasium. When you made that first move, did you love Jonathan?"

Jimmy looked at him slightly puzzled. "Yes sir, I did. I've already told you that I did."

"I want us all to be very clear about this. You were in love with him at the time?"

"Yes sir. I had been in love with him for ages."

"Are you quite sure that it wasn't just sexual desire?"

Jimmy looked down at his hands for a moment, thinking back, then raised his eyes to Michael Swain's. "I'm sure." he said slowly. "Of course there was desire as you said, but that's part of love isn't it? At least that's what everyone says and I don't see why I should be any different. I did love him, that's what made it so good. For both of us."

"You had a relationship for five months. Did you ever stop loving him in that time?"

"No, sir. Never."

"You didn't get tired of him or want to go with someone else, another boy for instance?"

"No," he shook his head and said wonderingly. "That's what was so strange and so great. Once I had met him, I didn't want anyone else. I didn't want sex with anyone else, I didn't even want to be with anyone else. Only with him. That's what I felt then and, and it's what I feel now."

"You love him still?"

"More than ever," he almost whispered, "And whatever happens to him or to me." He turned to Jonathan and said in a voice that echoed through the courtroom, "I love you Jon. You're the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm proud of loving you. And I don't care who knows it!"

"Thank you Jimmy." Michael Swain said and nodded to the prosecutor.

Martha Jackson stood up slowly. She was sure of her conviction but the brazen attitude of the witness had irritated her. The facts of the case had been bad enough but to have this boy defiantly describing what she considered to be unspeakable acts, and glorying in them really did deserve some punishment. Originally it had not been her intention to question him at all, feeling that as he had been victimised by the accused there was no need to humiliate him further. But as the questioning had continued, she had been getting steadily more and more angry, and by the time she faced him, she was in a cold rage. However, she was far too astute to let any trace of this appear in either her face or her voice. Nevertheless she was determined that he was going to regret what he had said.

"I would like to ask you just one question James," she began.

Jimmy who was seldom called by his full name stared at her and looked impossibly insolent. She decided to plunge straight in instead of building up to her point gradually as she'd planned.

"Did you know when you indulged in those, practices, that they were wrong, and that you were both breaking the law?" she snapped.

If she had hoped to intimidate him, she missed her mark.

"I didn't believe that they were wrong then, and I don't believe they were wrong now," he replied, then went on before she could speak. "As for your second question," there was a titter from the public gallery which inflamed her further, making her flush slightly. "As for your second question," he repeated, enjoying it, "It's the law that's wrong. Not what Jon and I did."

Martha noted the judge's reaction to this out of the corner of her eye and determined to pin him down. "Will you repeat that please?"

"I said that it's the law that's wrong," Jimmy said in a clear, carrying voice.

"Have you studied law?" she asked in a cold voice.

"No, of course I haven't. But I don't have to have to be a lawyer like you to know hypocrites when I see them."

Martha saw at once where this was heading, but she knew her judge, and knew he would come down heavily on the side of the law, so she decided to pursue it. Michael Swain certainly would if she left it now she decided, regretting that her irritation had betrayed her into questioning the boy in the first place. She had underestimated him considerably, but might still be able to trap him into some damaging admissions if she were careful.

"Nevertheless in spite of what you think you know," she said with a trace of sarcasm, "Will you please answer my second question which I will repeat. Did you know that you were both breaking the law when you indulged in your so called affair? Please answer yes or no."

"Yes, I knew. But as I said the law is wrong."

"Young man," the judge said sternly, "I am aware of your youth but I warn you I will not tolerate any impertinence from you. This is a court of justice, not a school debating society."

Jimmy looked at him and said politely, "Sir, if this place is supposed to be for justice can't I say what I think?"

"You, are a witness in this case. You are not on trial. Carry on Mrs Jackson."

"I have nothing further to ask the witness," she replied, returning to her seat. Jimmy grinned. He felt euphoric. For the first time since the nightmare began he felt that he was fighting back and he considered that the prosecutor had come off worst.

"Mr Swain?"

"Thank you. Jimmy, will you tell us why you think the law is wrong please."

"Mr Swain," the judge said ominously, "I have been extremely indulgent with you in your handling of this case because of the youth of your witness and because of the seriousness of this affair. Do not try my patience too far. I can see no reason for you to pursue this line of questioning. The witness's views of the validity or not of the laws pertaining to the case are of no relevance to this court."

"With respect My Lord, I take the view that they are of the utmost importance. On his own admission the witness was the prime mover in this affair and he has admitted that he knew that he was breaking the law. It seems to me that it would be of interest to the cause of justice to allow him to tell us why he feels as he does."

The judge was silent for a moment then said reluctantly, "Very well, Mr Swain, you may continue."

"Thank you My Lord. Now Jimmy, please tell us why you feel the law is wrong."

"It discriminates against me because I'm a boy. I'm sixteen and I was sixteen when I fell in love with Jon. If I was a girl, I could have an affair with anyone I liked and no-one could say anything about it, or do anything about it. And if I had sex with a girl, provided she was sixteen too it would be the same. But because I'm a boy, I have to wait five yearsbefore I can have sex with who I want to. It is unfair, and it is hypocritical, and it is not right, and it is not just! I don't think that any other group of people is discriminated against like this because of the way they are born. People like me don't choose to be the way we are. It just happens and for people to be prosecuted like this for the way they are born is the sort of thing that happened hundreds of years ago. I think it's time it was stopped. That's why I think the law is wrong."

"Is there anything else you would like to add?"

"Just one thing, sir," he said ignoring the judge's irritated movement. "I was doing a project on the second world war at school last term and I found out that boys just a year older than me were called up to fight and I realised that if we had a war again, I could be sent to fight and probably killed in a few months time when I turned seventeen. The government that makes the laws can send boys to fight knowing that lots of them will die while they sit safely in parliament, not doing any of the fighting and not taking any chances themselves. I would be old enough to be killed according to the law, but I would not be old enough to choose what sort of sex I can have. I can vote when I'm eighteen, but I can't choose what sort of sex I have. I'm responsible enough to drive a car when I'm seventeen which can kill lots of innocent people if I'm not careful, but I can't choose to go to bed with a boy or a man. A type of sex that does no harm to anyone, is more important than dying for my country or killing people on the roads! If that isn't wrong and if that isn't hypocritical, I don't know what is."

There was silence for a minute when he finished. He was panting slightly and a lock of his dark blonde hair had fallen over his forehead. Jonathan felt his heart turn over with love, and marvelled at how much he had grown up in the months that they had known each other.

Michael Swain, looking at him with admiration, thought that Jimmy's plea might have been better put, but could not have been more heartfelt. It remained to be seen whether the judge had been moved by it.

"Thank you Jimmy," he said gently. "I have nothing more to ask you."

"Mrs Jackson?" queried the judge.

"Nothing further my Lord."

"You may leave the stand," he said coldly to Jimmy.

Jimmy, reaction setting in, found himself shaking as he made his way to the seat set aside for him just behind Brian Masters and next to Tim Lake who gave his arm a squeeze. I've done my best, he thought. Thank God that's over.

"Do you plan to call any more witnesses, Mr Swain?" the judge asked.

"No My Lord." the barrister replied, standing up. He had agreed with Brian that he would decide this at the last moment, depending on how things had gone with Jimmy, and had come to the conclusion that after the boy's astonishing and deeply moving statement, that anything further would be an anticlimax. It was a pity that it was going to have so small an effect on the outcome.

The judge nodded to the prosecutor, "Mrs Jackson."

Martha rose from her seat still smarting from her encounter with Jimmy.

Her own performance in it's way was as good as his had been. She had taken careful notes to which she referred continually, and with considerable skill managed to reinforce her portrait of Jonathan as a conniving and conscienceless seducer of innocent youth, betraying the trust that society, the parents and the school had placed in him. At the same time she managed to imply that Jimmy's defence of him was attributable to nothing more than misplaced loyalty. Jimmy's avowals of love she dismissed scornfully as juvenile fantasy. What, she remarked, could a sixteen year old know of love? It appeared to her, on the boy's own admission, to be nothing more than adolescent lust and that of a perverted and unclean type at that.

As for his claim to be the instigator of the entire sordid affair, that hardly stood up in the light of the age difference between them. No man of twenty five would have been so easily influenced by a person so much younger than himself, or submitted so easily to the pleas the boy claimed to have made. The story did not hold water and while recognising his loyalty to someone who had no doubt, been kind to him, on the surface at anyrate, the boy had been too inexperienced to recognise that it was simply a means to an end. That end being his own seduction. Even if the victim in this case was as self possessed and adult as he appeared to be, she did not believe that any sixteen year old would be so brazen as to attempt the seduction of one of his own teachers.

In fact, despite the foregoing and In spite of the boy's rather puerile views on justice, to which she made a contemptuous acknowledgement in passing as 'interesting', this was an extremely simple case and there had been no need for the defence to drag it out as they had done, and certainly no justification for putting the victim through the traumatic experience that had taken place earlier. The crux of the case she said forcefully, rested on one simple question. Had the law which forbade any sexual contact with or between males under the age of twenty-one been broken, or not. Every other issue was immaterial. And the facts of the case were that the defendant had admitted that he had indulged in repeated acts of a homosexual nature with an underage boy. This was something which the defence had not disputed. In fact, the defendant himself had pleaded guilty to the crime at the start of the case. It followed therefore that the law had been broken, and there had been no need to bring forward further evidence of this. The prosecution, bearing in mind the welfare of the boy concerned, had not wanted to exacerbate an already unpleasant situation for him.

Even if the boy had been so depraved and vicious as to have been the instigator of this distasteful affair, it made no difference to either the facts of the case or the outcome. The law stated clearly that no-one under the age of twenty-one could indulge in any type of homosexual practice whatsoever. The defendant had admitted the crime in his first statement to the police and had pleaded guilty to it in this court. It only remained to establish if there were any extenuating circumstances.

She could find none, in fact just the opposite. Jonathan Melton although well over the age of twenty-one himself had indulged in the ultimate of unnatural practices with a boy of sixteen, five years below the age at which he could legally give his consent, and a boy moreover, who as a pupil of his, had been entrusted to his care and protection. Which protection, she continued, he had grossly and cynically abused.

His guilt was an established fact, and in view of he youth of the boy he had so viciously introduced to vile acts that filled all normal people with disgust, she asked for the most harsh penalty the law could apply.

She sat down, conscious of a job well done and glancing at Jimmy's white face a slight smile crossed her lips and she nodded infinitesimally as if to say, 'well boy, how did you enjoy being on the receiving end this time?'

And in that instant, Jimmy's aversion for her changed to pure, unadulterated hatred.

When Michael Swain stood up to make his final plea, he knew that the case was already lost and that all he could do was to try to limit the damage. In contrast to Martha who had become rather loud and dramatic towards the end of her discourse, he spoke easily and quietly enough to make sure that he had everyone's attention.

He sketched Jonathan's schooling, university career and teacher training course and cited his excellent record as a teacher. As soon as he felt that he had set the scene, he moved on to Jon's affair with Jimmy. He kept it brief, not wanting to try the Judge's patience even further than his lengthy questioning of the boy had done earlier, but he emphasised over and over again in an extremely subtle and skilful fashion, that it was Jimmy, a boy of sixteen certainly, but very assured and at ease with his homosexuality, a boy moreover who had had no compunction admitting that fact in this very courtroom, who had led the way in every moment of their relationship. He acknowledged that his client should have resisted his advances but how many heterosexual men in the same position would not have been tempted and given way to temptation in a similar fashion? And if that had happened, there would have been no crime, no case to answer, and no prosecution could have been brought. The only difference was the fact that Jimmy Evans had the bad luck to be a boy and not a girl. This was a case of clear discrimination and this fact should be taken into account. Because a law was on the statute books did not necessarily make it a just law and as there was no fixed penalty in this case, any sentence imposed was at the discretion of the court. He asked the judge to take this into account.

The other point that he expanded on, was that this was a crime with no victim. No physical harm had been done to the boy, and certainly no mental harm. The boy had on his own admission, welcomed every act between them and his only regret was that through those acts he had brought trouble, pain and suffering to the person he loved. If there was no victim, could there be a crime?

He had shown in his questioning the deep love between them, he reminded the court and no need say no more. It had been amply demonstrated as had the boy's own maturity, which was astonishing in a person of his age. Anyone who felt that here was a youth incapable of making up his own mind and sticking to it, would be deceiving themselves. His self possession would be unusual in a man twice his age. Bearing all this in mind, he finished quietly, he asked for the lightest sentence possible for his client.

The judge, who during his plea, had not looked at Michael Swain once, adjourned the court for ten minutes and during the break, the barrister spoke quietly to Jon.

"Don't expect too much," he warned, "That boy did his very best for you and did it extremely well, but I don't think you should get your hopes up too high."

Jon looked at him steadily. " How long do you think?"

"I think you should expect at least three years, it might be less, but I doubt it," he replied sadly. "But whatever happens," he went on, "You should be very proud of Jimmy. It took a lot of courage to say what he did, but he did it for you. It is a compliment that very few people get in this life, and even fewer have someone who loves them deeply enough to do something like it for them."

Jon's face softened. "I know," he said softly, "And I love him for it more than ever. Will you tell him so for me please? I don't suppose I will be able to?"

Michael shook his head. "I'll tell him," he said and gripped Jon's hand briefly as the clerk signalled the judge's return.

Jon looked sadly at Jimmy, trying to memorise his features so that he would have a clear picture of him in the years ahead, and his heart turned over as Jimmy mouthed silently 'I love you', and he formed the words 'me too' before standing to face the Judge.

"Jonathan Melton. You have admitted to committing a crime at which ordinary people feel the utmost horror and disgust. Your attorney has suggested to me that it is not a crime and that the law discriminates against you because your victim was a boy and not a girl. I disagree. In my opinion there is no comparison between the two and this is borne out by the fact that parliament, representing the people of this country, which frames the laws has not seen fit to treat boys and girls in the same fashion. You deliberately indulged in perverted acts of lust with a person many years younger than yourself, and one moreover, who would not be able to give his consent to such acts for another five years. As for your attorney's claim that the victim himself incited and welcomed those acts, even if this had been true, you as the older person and moreover, the person entrusted with the boy's care and welfare, had both a moral and a legal duty to resist his blandishments and report his behaviour to the appropriate authorities. However, I am not convinced that a child of his age could, or would, act in the way he has described and therefore I do not intend to take it into account."

He stopped to take a sip of water then continued, "I can find no extenuating circumstances whatsoever in this case and therefore it is my intention to make an example of you to discourage other men who might be tempted to commit similar crimes. You will go to prison for twelve years, this being the maximum sentence that I can impose."

For a moment, there was a stunned silence. Jonathan gripped the rail in front of him, while Michael and Brian stood beside him unbelievingly. Even Martha seemed shocked before she smiled slightly and nodded her head. Before Tim Lake realised what was happening, Jimmy had jumped to his feet, his face white with rage.

"You fucking bastard!" he yelled, his clear voice ringing shockingly through the silent courtroom. "Have you got a hard-on now after saying that, like that Judge Jeffries used to get when he sentenced people to death? You fucking prick!"

Tim stood and grabbed him by the arm before he could hurl himself at the judge as he seemed on the verge of doing. Jimmy didn't even to see him. Tim was simply an obstruction holding him back from attacking.

"Jimmy, stop it!" Michael Swain came hurriedly round to assist. "You're not helping anyone by doing this. Keep quiet. Now!" he commanded.

Jimmy struggled briefly then the authority in Michael's voice got through to him. With an effort of will that was quite visible, he controlled himself but the look he fixed on the Judge was not a pleasant thing to see. He shrugged off their hands and said in a low clear voice that was such a contrast to his previous yell that the people who had begun to talk and whisper were silent.

"Don't think that I'll forget this, and don't you ever think that you're going to get away with it. I'll make you sorry even if I have to kill you," he said to the Judge in a voice that held such venom that it reached every corner of the room. "And that goes for you too, you bitch," he said, turning to Martha Jackson. His voice carried complete conviction.

"Mr Swain, if you do not get that boy under control and out of my sight this instant, you will both regret it," the judge interposed in a furious voice. "This court is adjourned."

During the confusion, Jonathan had been hustled out, down the steps and into a small room with Brian.

"Jonathan, we don't have much time but don't worry about this. That sentence was outrageous and I am going to lodge an immediate appeal. Do you understand me?"

Jonathan who had not said a single word nodded wordlessly.

"You must hold on in there. Don't give up and don't let it get you down. I'll be able to see you very soon so just hang on, understand? Hang on, no matter what happens. Jimmy loves you. He loves you, Jon. Hold on to that and never forget it, even for a minute. That boy loves you."

Jonathan clenched his teeth for a moment then relaxed slightly. "Tell him I love him, please," then walked to the waiting escort. He didn't look back.

By the time Brian joined Michael Swain in the hallway outside the courtroom most of the participants had dispersed. He spoke briefly to the press, telling them that there would be an appeal but refused to be drawn any further. Eventually they managed to get away and went into a quiet pub a few streets away.

"How is he?" Michael asked Brian as he led the way to a table.

"In shock. Not taking anything in."

Michael nodded. "The best way for him to be at the moment. I hope it lasts, but it won't."

"And Jimmy?"

"Much the same. After he threatened the Judge and that damned woman, he virtually collapsed. Tim has taken him home and he and Marion are going to keep him with them for a couple of days. There's no point in him going home to his parents, the bloody people didn't even bother to come with him today. You know Brian," he said after a pause, "He's a very intelligent boy, and he frightens me. The way he spoke to the Judge at the end, well it worries me whenever I think of it. The words and the threat were childish. But the tone of voice he used! It carried absolute conviction."

"I was too busy with Jon to hear what he said. What was it?"

Michael told him and added, "What's going to happen to him, now?"

"Jon has made provision for him. He can go to College or University if he wants to and can acquire the entrance qualifications, but I'm much more worried about Jon himself at the moment. Christ Michael, that sentence was monstrous. He can't get away with it!"

"The climate isn't good at the moment, but if we come up before a better judge, we have a good chance of getting it reduced."

"We could hardly come up against a worse one," Brian said bitterly. "You know Michael, I have a feeling that Jimmy was right."

"About what, the hard-on? It wouldn't surprise me at all. If the fucking bastard, to use Jimmy's words, had had a black cap, he'd have put it on. And enjoyed it."

"He'll certainly sleep well tonight," Brian agreed. He shook his head admiringly, "That kid! Imagine asking, at the top of his voice too, a senior judge if passing sentence had given him a hard-on!"

For the first time that day, Michael Swain smiled. "With a bit of luck, for the rest of his career he'll be known as Mr Justice Hard-on. Our Jimmy might have a better revenge than he ever dreamt of!"

Talk about this story on our forum

Authors deserve your feedback. It's the only payment they get. If you go to the top of the page you will find the author's name. Click that and you can email the author easily.* Please take a few moments, if you liked the story, to say so.

[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 (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) 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. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead