by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 11


Cador wandered into a shaft of sunlight beside a small pool, then stood and gazed dreamily around, eyes unfocussed, a slight frown the only indication of unease. Zeno watched, captivated. Unable to find fault with this slim youth whose face, framed by straight black hair, looked simultaneously vulnerable and dangerous. Lips slightly apart revealing sharp teeth. Eagle's beak nose. Determined jaw. Straight, uncompromising eyebrows. Would Cador be a risky person to cross? Zeno wondered. He decided to find out.

Cador turned his head and looked at Zeno as if afraid, then blurted, 'Don't be mad at me for asking, but… are you and Jarek lovers?'

Surprised, Zeno hesitated. If Cador wasn't gay then this was bloody rude, so he countered with a question of his own. 'Are you gay?'

Cador blushed. 'Yes.'

'Good. No, we're just good friends. Have you a boyfriend?' Zeno managed to sound unconcerned, but his heart was hammering nervously.

'Not really. I've kissed Terry Alcott and sucked him off a couple of times and he fucked me once, but that's all.'

This was news indeed! Big, tough Terry Alcott! Who'd have thought? 'He's very handsome. Do you love him?'

'No way! He's not handsome in bed. He's rough and selfish. When he's satisfied he loses interest in me.'

'I'd never lose interest in you,' Zeno said without thinking. Then having made the statement he thought he might as well continue. 'You're the most handsome and sexy person I've ever met and I want to kiss you.' There, he thought. I've done it. He'll either tell me to stuff off, or take me on.

Cador didn't respond immediately. He gazed at the other youth for several seconds then lurched forward and wrapped his arms around Zeno's waist, burying his head in his chest and sobbing as if his heart would break. Zeno stroked the coarse black hair, caressed the cheeks and led the weeping youth to a mossy log where they sat, arms around each other. Then, as abruptly as they started, the sobs ceased, Cador stood, blew his nose into the stream, splashed water over his face, then stood directly in front of Zeno, hands at his sides.

'The first time I saw you in the playground I thought you were sexy. You walk so tall, head high, sure of yourself and your place in the world. I'd been having a tough time at home, hiding my problems about sex with Terry... and other things. You looked so secure I wished I had you instead of Terry. Now I'm in a mess again it wouldn't be fair to get you involved.'

'What sort of mess?'

'My father kicked me out. Mr. Noble's looking out for me… I'll tell you more later. I don't want to think about it and spoil this place.' He frowned slightly.

'I don't mind getting involved. Stephen and I are mates.'

'If you kiss me, won't Jarek be jealous?'

'Of course not. Like I said, we're just friends and it's embarrassing to admit, but you've had more sexual experience than either of us. We only discovered we're gay a week ago, and all we've ever done is kiss and cuddle and jerk each other off.'

'That sounds exactly what I'd like to do.' Cador pulled a wry face. 'Terry doesn't like to kiss and… and just be nice together. He says it's queer. I'm not going to see him again. I was so lonely, you know? Thinking I was the only fag in school.' He looked away and said softly. 'If you still want to, I'd really like you to kiss me.'

Taking advantage of the young men's absence Stephen told Jarek about Cador's problems and his own plans to leave his wife immediately on retirement. Before Christmas he hoped. He had no idea what he'd do, but whatever it was it wouldn't be in this area. Jarek admitted he also had no idea what to do next. He'd saved enough to see him right for at least a year, and by then hoped to have found something that interested him.

'Something in nature,' he stated firmly. 'Never again a small town full of right-wing bigots, or a school full of females. I've become paranoid about lack of privacy; being recognised by the kids and their parents wherever I go. I think I'll become a hermit.'

'I'm sure you'll love the next six weeks, Jarek. Boys this age have fertile imaginations and from what you've told me of your plans I know they'll be transported to a land far removed from their normal lives. A place of magic and mystery where they survive by their wits and skills. I guarantee within two hours you'll be their undisputed 'lord' and they your loyal henchmen, scouting through the forest, spying and setting traps for the unwary, learning about the stars, the land, their own strengths and their dependence on others… and I'm raving and repeating myself, aren't I?'

'Yes, but I need to hear your dreams again, Stephen. Just when I'd begun to think life was a boring rut, you made me excited about tomorrow and the next weeks. Well, I guess it's time for lunch. I wonder where the others are. I'll go and check they're OK.'

He returned smiling. 'They've found each other.'

'What do you mean?'

'I now understand what you meant after seeing Zeno and me on the bed last Monday. To secretly watch two young men gently exploring each other's bodies is a beautiful experience.'

Stephen frowned. 'You aren't jealous?'

Jarek laughed. 'I love Zeno as a friend, the best friend I've ever had, but it's a huge relief to see him in lust with someone his own age. I was worried he wanted to have a permanent relationship with me, something I'm not only not ready for, but when I am it will be with someone my own age. It's certainly not something I'd want to lumber myself with next year with all its uncertainties.'

'Are you sure it won't interfere with your working relationship and therefore the camp?'

'On the contrary, it will make it much easier. I won't be always worried things are becoming complicated.' He sighed happily. 'Now this place is indeed paradise.'

Before Stephen left, Zeno handed him the assignments he'd completed during the week, and extracted a promise that Cador could spend every weekend at the cabin, promising in return that he would not slack off in the preparations for the following week, and he and Cador would both do all their homework.

Stephen, secretly pleased to be relieved of responsibility for his young charge at the weekends, happily agreed, and was about to enter his car when Zeno blurted, 'Jarek's coming to my grandmother's for Christmas, Stephen, and I'd really like Cador to also come and stay with me and then we could go to the same school next year.'

'Is that what you want, Cador?'

'Yes! Yes! Yes! I want to be normal like Zeno!'

Stephen knew it wasn't going to be easy to pry a son from his father, despite their differences, however he saw little point in being a prophet of doom. 'Well, there are still six weeks to sort out the details,' he said cheerfully, 'but it certainly seems like a good idea. Now, tomorrow evening at seven, Jarek, don't forget to come to the information evening and persuade the parents of all the other boys to send them here for a week.'

'I'll be there—I promise.'

That evening while Jarek and Zeno were making last minute preparations, Stephen Noble, Edgar and Angus were marvelling at Cador's aptitude for Contract Bridge. After only one lesson he was already bidding, finessing and counting trumps like a pro.

On the other side of town, Bindi was trying not to yawn during the Sunday night meeting of Women's War, where Mrs. Noble was proudly trumpeting local feminist successes.

'Next year, the last male teacher in pre-school education will be gone,' she announced proudly, 'thanks to the efforts of almost every kindergarten teacher. The Brisbane chapter of Women's War International have received an assurance from the Education Department that they will consider their proposal that no child under the age of ten should be taught by men, as they can't be trusted with girls and are completely unsuited to the task of instructing boys to become socialised and sensitive to the special needs of women. It is envisaged that very soon males will be restricted to teaching Years six to twelve. However, that is merely an interim measure while we regroup before pushing for the removal of males from all teaching positions at all levels of pre-school, primary and secondary education, apart from specialist staff for boys' sports. Our own High School is the State leader in this campaign, having only three male staff members, all of whom are leaving at the end of the year.'

Clapping and assorted congratulatory noises gave Violet time to take a few sips from her tumbler of water.

'Strong lobbying of the Education Department has proved so successful that, according to my contact in the Department, my husband's position as High School Principal will be filled next year by Irma Medlar, whose campaign to ban men from public pools if they are wearing swimming costumes that reveal the shape of their genitals, has been so successful. She will ensure that the replacement for Mr. Jarek Schwartz, a living example of the dictum, all men are rapists, will be an older married man with no interest in promoting assertive masculinity. Mr. Adams, who decided yesterday to retire at the end of this year, will be replaced by a qualified female.'

Nods and murmurs of approval

'You'll agree we've come a long way, and I don't think I'm mistaken when I predict victory in our war against male aggression towards females. Thank you for your attention.' She nodded to her audience, smiled and sat down.

'Thank you, Violet' The President gushed. 'Your close association with the principal of the secondary school, and unstinting behind the scenes work with the school secretary to remove the CVs of male applicants from consideration, has been the primary reason for our success in that area. Now Bindi has a timely warning for those of you wondering if some males are worth bothering with. The male in this case is Jarek Schwartz, the teacher Violet Noble just mentioned.

Bindi's nervousness evaporated as she enlarged on Jarek's treachery in first agreeing to an engagement, and then without any discussion, dumping her in front of a stranger, causing great embarrassment and emotional distress. If it hadn't been for Irma's support she didn't know what she might have done. Her tale evolved in the telling and the roles became reversed, leaving her audience convinced she had been the perfect homemaker, picking up and caring for an ungrateful, messy slob. Such was her sincerity she convinced even herself, and the performance culminated in a genuine sob at the wickedness of men in general and Jarek in particular. She sat down to sympathetic applause.

A further denunciation of Jarek was then offered by Irma Medlar who related the abuse and insults she had been subjected to by both Schwartz and one of his loathsome pupil acolytes when Jarek broke his promise of marriage to Bindi. This was followed by even more inventive anecdotes about his disrespect for both female pupils and staff at the high school that aroused audible sighs of sorrow from her audience at the inexhaustible perfidy of men. The fact that Jarek taught no girls and never mixed with the female staff wasn't mentioned. It took all Irma's will power to keep the promise she had made to Adele not to tell anyone about the alleged rape, so instead of reviling Zeno, she launched into a paean of praise for her dear friend Adele, their beloved ex-secretary who had died so tragically. She missed Adele deeply and was determined someone should pay for the death that she refused to believe was an accident.

After a short fictional film depicting male depravity and female decency that had been unsuccessfully entered in the Queensland Premier's Short Film Awards by a graduate from the university school of cinema, the meeting ended.

Bindi was so flattered by Irma's support she invited her for a coffee after the meeting. While her hostess was working out how to use the espresso machine and noisily grinding beans, Irma made a practiced sweep of the house and was alarmed to discover a drawer full of condoms beside the bed. Dildos and other aids to female orgasm she heartily approved of, but condoms? Surely such revolting reminders of erect penises should have been tossed out with Jarek? This needed further investigation!

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