by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 10

What To Wear?

On Saturday Edgar filled the minibus with fuel, oil and water and drove it up to the cabin, curious to see what they'd done to his place. He was more than delighted. Overawed was his exact word, then for an hour he relived old pleasures by skinny-dipping with the two young men in the pool before Jarek drove him home so Edgar could be sure he knew all the idiosyncrasies of the vehicle.

While he was away, Zeno took an old white T-shirt and, starting with the hem, carefully cut two, twenty-centimetre squares. After threading string through the tube created by the hem, he gathered together and tied off the other end tightly with a shorter piece of string, creating a pocket. The longer piece was then fastened round his hips with a simple loop and knot. After his genitals were tucked into the pouch he pulled the short string between his buttocks and fastened it to the waistband. A quick look in the washroom mirror satisfied him, so he made another for Jarek.

Jarek hooted with laughter when he returned. 'Codpieces! How'd you come up with that idea?'

'Sebastian took me to Noosa Beach last year and we forgot our togs, so he hacked up his T-shirt like this and we wore them. Got loads of wolf-whistles, several threats of physical abuse from alpha-males with their girlfriends, and someone went over the road and came back with a cop who said although he couldn't see anything wrong, in the interests of public safety would we mind moving to the western end of the beach were there were fewer families.'

'Did you?'

'Of course. We're not troublemakers. Come on, put it on.'

To his surprise Jarek discovered it was comfortable. He was admiring himself in the mirror when the phone rang. It was Stephen asking if it was OK to bring Cador the following day. Afterwards Jarek took another long look in the mirror.

'Stephen's bringing a kid up tomorrow. Cador. A good kid. Can't imagine what he'll make of these things—they don't hide much.'

'They don't hide anything; that's the point isn't it?'

'What point?'

'We're all males together so we shouldn't feel we have to cover our bits and pieces. Otherwise it means we're ashamed to be male.'

'In an ideal world, Zeno. Not the world we inhabit, unfortunately. We'll let Stephen and the kid decide.'

'What's his name again?'

'Cador. Do you know him?'

'Not the name. Probably by sight. I hope he's not some pathetic wimp.'

'No, he's an excellent kid. Year ten. First eleven cricket.'

'A team player... yuk.'

'Don't judge too soon.'

Zeno and Jarek's minimal attire startled Stephen and visibly shocked Cador when they arrived the following morning. The lad wasn't sure what to think, so he said nothing.

'You're both looking fit and well. Do you know Cador, Zeno?'

'By sight. Gidday, Cador. Welcome to paradise.'

'Yes, welcome, Cador.'

The youth shyly took Jarek's outstretched hand, shook it and whispered, 'Thank you, Sir.'

'Call me Jarek. Here we're all equal.'

'I've just made coffee, fancy a cup?' Zeno asked to break the silence.

'Yes, please.'

While Zeno fetched the thermos and mugs, Jarek led the way to a bench in the shade of a gigantic benjamina fig tree. When small talk and coffees were out of the way Jarek and Zeno stood, turned, then feeling increasingly uncertain, asked Stephen what he thought.

'Before I answer that I want you to read this,' Stephen said, producing a newspaper clipping and handing it to Zeno. 'Read it aloud.'

'Three Shire Councils will now ban the wearing of speedos and similar brief male swimwear in Public Pools,' Zeno read. 'A spokeswoman for KOCS, [Keep Our Children Safe] Ms Irma Medlar, a respected secondary teacher, congratulated the councillors for their brave stance, saying it was intolerable that men should still be asserting their domination over women by wearing clothes that revealed the shape of their sexual organs. Children and teenagers should not be exposed to such anachronistic displays of male aggression and supremacy. If nothing is done, men will soon be demanding a return to the days of female slavery and exploitation.'

Zeno handed the paper back to Stephen 'Surely it's a joke? They can't be serious?'

Jarek's laughter was tinged with fury. 'Bloody Irma! Not content with supporting Nimffo and forcing you to expel Zeno, she now wants to turn us all into eunuchs! Well, that puts the kybosh on our codpieces.'

'On the contrary, Jarek! This makes them even more important! Ms. Medlar is an exceedingly dangerous woman who, like all bigots, thinks her opinions should be law. Someone has to stop this nonsense and clearly you're the men for the job. Those things you're wearing will be the perfect counter to that evil bilge. They cover your bits with nothing to spare—and yet you look clean, fit, healthy and decent. Who made them?'

'I did, from an old T-shirt.' Zeno admitted.

'They look preofessional, and as long as you're comfortable in them, I want you to wear them as an antidote to Medlar's vile notions that are making men and boys ashamed to be men. We can't change society overnight, but you two have the opportunity to teach sixty youths, by example, that to be ashamed of your manhood is to be less than a man.'

'Seriously, Stephen?' Jarek sounded less than convinced.

'I admit I was a bit startled at first, they leave so little to the imagination, but that's the point! Don't you agree, Cador?'

'What point?' Cador whispered, flushing deeply at being asked to look at, let alone comment on the skimpy things.

'That men must be proud, not ashamed of their manhood.'

'I don't know,' the poor youth whispered, unable to believe his teacher would wear something that clearly showed the shape of his genitals. He opened his mouth, shut it, shook his head and swallowed, unable to speak.

Taking pity on him, Zeno asked, 'Would it look better if I shaved my pubes?'

'Definitely not!' Stephen snapped. 'Females and prepubescent boys are hairless. Men have body hair. Encouraging men to shave their bodies is a feminist plot to infantilise them. These foolish women feel threatened by a real man who's proud of his hairy chest and legs, because that makes him different from them. I think there's a fair bit of jealousy there too, because they don't dare show themselves in their natural state. Without depilation, hair dye, make-up, plucking and preening, few men will give a woman a second glance. Until the rise of feminism in the nineteen seventies, heroes in films often had hairy chests. Now men who remove their shirts look like overdeveloped eunuchs.'

'At this point I'd better confess I'm not totally natural,' Jarek said, his face a picture of contrition. 'I run clippers with a fifteen millimetre spacer over everything including my head, otherwise my hair gets shaggy and takes too long to dry after a swim or shower.'

'Trimming is not shaving, you great galah, it's personal hygiene and desirable in this case because we don't want to frighten the kids, merely educate them. You've exactly the right amount of hair left to prove you're a real man.' He turned to Cador. 'Do you agree?'

Again Cador failed to respond. He was on the verge of panic and didn't know what to do with his erection. Since birth he'd been taught that decent men showed as little of their bodies as possible in order not to offend Allah. Nudity was akin to blasphemy—a perversion, and a man's private bits were never to be even spoken of, let alone seen! Compounding the problem, one of these men was his teacher! Cador was torn between the desire to bury his face in Zeno's groin, and run away.

Observing the youth's alarm Stephen decided to force the issue. Inability to accept his homosexuality had caused Cador months, if not years of misery, fear and shame, eventually leading to a suicide attempt. Acceptance that he wasn't evil for being gay had already transformed him, so there was no point in pandering to idiotic religious brainwashing about nudity. 'Cador, you're only a year older than the boys who're coming tomorrow, so I want you to tell Jarek what you reckon their first reactions will be when they see these two dressed like this.'

'Come on, Cador,' Jarek encouraged, 'don't be shy. It's important for us to have your opinion. Be absolutely honest because tomorrow morning the ten boys from Mrs. Jonsin's Year Nine class will arrive for what we hope will be five days of fun and excitement. The success or failure of the next six weeks is in your hands.'

'Mrs. Jonsin's! They're loose-lipped, smart-arse brain-boxes. Racist and homophobic too. Always mocking kids they think are gay. I'm glad I won't be here!'

'Yes, they can be a handful, but I think it's a form of self-preservation,' Stephen said diplomatically. 'This is a racist, religious, bigoted town and clever kids are often on the wrong end of bullying. I think they've figured its better to get in first before they're got at. Without the other year nine kids around I'm pretty sure they'll let their guard down. They're sharp and perceptive and, if treated as equals, they'll be fine. But you haven't said what you think, or what their reaction will be.'

Cador swallowed, took a breath, and frowned. 'I won't tell you what I think.' His eyes sparkled giving his audience a glimpse of the irreverent urchin that dwelt within. 'Instead I'll act out what some of the kids are going to say. OK?'

'Exactly what we need.'

Cador's voice changed to a nasal drawl. 'Faarck, did ya see Jarek Schwartz's fat bulge!' In another voice he replied. 'Yeah, but Zeno's dick's longer' 'Yeah, but Schwartz's balls are bigger.' 'You're joking. They only look bigger because they're tight, Zeno's hang low.' 'Don't ya reckon it's a bit gross?' 'No way, they look tough like those two warriors in Conquerors of the Maidan.' 'Yeah. Not so muscly but just as tough!' Sneering. 'You reckon they're tough? What's tough about showing your hairy ring when you bend over?' 'Ah! Now we know. Johnny's interested in Schwartz's arsehole.' Cador lowered his head and blushed.

The three men clapped.

'You've a future on stage, Cador,' Stephen announced in delight.

'Yes, an excellent performance. So, what's their verdict?'

'That depends. If I'd wandered through here and accidentally seen you two looking like this, I'd have raced away. You look sort of wild and a bit crazy. Too sexy. Dangerous anyway. With my background even if you'd seen me and been pleasant I'd have imagined the devil had arrived to tempt me and been too scared and embarrassed to stay. If I hadn't been with Mr. Noble I'd have run for my life. But if he stands beside you and tells the kids he thinks you're the ideal men for the job—that sort of thing, then in five minutes they'll get used to you like I have, and start dragging their togs into their bum cracks to be like you. Like I said, you look feral.' Cador stopped, looked down as if embarrassed, then leaped off the bench and danced around Jarek and Zeno. 'I feel… I feel so… so free telling you this as if my chains are off. I can't explain.'

Jarek grinned. 'You don't have to. Zeno and I felt something similar last Monday. You've given us good advice along with some delightful flattery, for which we thank you.'

'That's exactly right, Cador,' Stephen exclaimed. 'I keep an eye on the computer games boys play, and there's always an alpha-male hero or two, superbly, if unbelievably muscled, frequently wearing next to nothing, who overcomes evil and saves his men. I've not met one youth who wants to see females saving the planet, not because they don't like girls, but because instinctively, and sensibly, healthy boys seek healthy male role models. However, what do they see around them? Suits and ties and unfit men in baggy shorts and T-shirts. Fat gutted by the time they're twenty-five. To add insult to injury, feminists have successfully knocked sportsmen off the list of heroic role models by insisting they act like sensitive, new age guys. Everything about men and maleness, sex and sensuality has been sanitised to passionless tedium.'

Jarek nodded thoughtfully. 'I was disgusted at the judgement on that footballer recently who was prosecuted for having sex with a girl who forced her way in to his motel room, sat on his erection and then decided she didn't want it after all so- charged him with rape. The judge made him look like a pathetic criminal pervert, instead of the fine young man his club declares him to be.'

'Exactly! Jarek. That's why adolescent males spend their time with fit, powerful, healthy, computer-generated heroes who are proud to be men. They're symbols of primitive dominance, which is why they are usually partially naked, fighting with swords and fists. No sane young man wants to be a nerd directing drones to bomb innocents from a safe bunker in the USA. As Cador suggested, you two fit the heroic mould.'

Cador smiled shyly and looked at Zeno, who winked, causing Cador to blush.

'While flattery will get you just about everywhere, Stephen,' Jarek said seriously, 'and I thank you for those kind words, I'm worried our results might not come up to your expectations.'

'Don't be silly. I don't expect miracles in five days. Whatever you do will be better than nothing, but I can't help feeling it's going to be great. You both look tough, fit, and... awesome, I think is the right word. The kids will be so relieved you're not neat, prim teachers in pressed shorts and T-shirts, expecting them to be good little civilized boys, they'll be over the moon at having an adventure with two real heroes. All I want is for the boys to have fun, excitement and challenges in a natural setting where there are no examinations or any form of competition with each other—only with themselves.'

Silence. No one was tempted to laugh at Stephen's innocent sincerity, because all three would love to live in a more interesting, natural and challenging world; if only for a few days.

Hesitantly, Cador broke the silence. 'I understand. I understand completely. You two look totally brilliant. Like honourable warriors dedicated to truth and integrity. Here in the forest I feel transported back to ancient times.' He blushed slightly at his candour.

'Ah, Cador, your hours spent playing interactive computer war games have infected your vocabulary, but your sentiments are admirable and exactly the breath of fresh air I needed,' Stephen said with a smile. 'He's right, you two, so stop doubting yourselves.'

'Yes, Sir. May we swim now, Sir?' Jarek asked with a naughty grin.

'Certainly, boy. You've earned it.

'Well, get your gear off you two. You didn't swim with us last time, Stephen, you're not getting out of it again.

They removed their pouches while Stephen carefully removed shorts, shirt, sandals and underpants and folded them on the bench. Cador, after a few moments hesitation while he considered and rejected his god's injunction against nudity, threw off the shorts and T-shirt that Edgar's son had outgrown, then stood, hands covering his groin, immobilised by embarrassment.

'Hands on head, Cador!' Jarek ordered.

The youth bravely raised his arms exposing an erection that no one commented on, and followed the finest pair of buttocks he could imagine down the narrow winding track overhung by trees to a sunny beach, pool, and a dense rainforest backdrop.

Stephen sighed happily. 'Ah, it's always so perfect. What do you think, Cador?'

'The youth was gazing around, mouth agape in awe. 'I didn't know such places existed so close to town. It is almost too beautiful.' He stared in surprise at Jarek and Zeno. 'It's crazy, but you both look much better without the pouches,' he shook his head as if to clear it. 'Seriously! You look more approachable, less mysterious—less sexually suggestive. With them on I couldn't stop wondering what was underneath. Now I know you're no different from me I can think about other things. I seriously think you shouldn't wear them.'

'That's what I suspected,' Jarek sighed. 'It certainly feels better without them, but the law says, No.'

'I agree, Cador,' Stephen said sadly. 'But as Jarek says…'

'You're brilliant, Cador.' Zeno laughed. 'It's great to have someone here my own age and intelligence. Being with old fogeys like Jarek twenty-four seven can get pretty dull.'

Jarek whipped Zeno's arm up his back and deftly kicked away his leg. Zeno dropped onto the grass, rolled onto his knees and launched a tackle. They wrestled for a bit before helping each other to their feet and apologising to still grinning Stephen and an open-mouthed Cador. 'Now we're dirty and sweaty. Come on!'

They threw themselves into the water, climbed the rope, dived and splashed, swam and clambered onto the boulders on the far side and dived back in. After a while Jarek and Stephen lay in the shade on the sand, leaving Cador and Zeno to explore down stream.

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