by Rigby Taylor

Chapter 10

Fee Approaches the Problem Rationally

After school Con drove to the Backpacker Hostel where Guapo had been staying and explained that the young photographer had suffered a fatal accident. He was his nearest relative and had come to collect his things and pay any outstanding charges. The half-dressed young woman on duty unplugged earphones, asked him to repeat himself, shrugged her indifference and, as Con was able to describe in detail the pack and it's contents, handed everything over in exchange for the money owed; not bothering to ask for identification or a receipt for the goods claimed.

Back at his place, Con began instructing his lover in a not very gentlemanly form of self-defence. Essentially, it involved using any means available to do the maximum damage possible to one's assailant in the shortest time with the least chance of being seen. The finest and lightest of Con's collection of flick knives, a folding truncheon that looked like a fat souvenir ballpoint pen, a set of ultra light, non-metallic knuckle-dusters, four sachets of capsicum dust, and a pair of innocent looking boat-shoes with concealed blades in their toecaps that drew blood with a light kick, were some of the gifts he bestowed on the love of his life, along with several useful tips learned while paying for his university studies by working for his debt collector uncle in Sydney.

Reginald's mother was as obese as Sebastian's was scrawny, and of an equally opposite temperament. Although neither woman would admit the truth, it was only their god's promise of brownie points in the hereafter if they were pleasant to someone they detested, that kept them from scratching each others eyes out whenever they met. Mrs Blackthorn welcomed Sebastian with a garlic scented hug and insisted they wash down a large slice of home made fruit cake with a glass of fresh milk. It was the first time Sebastian had been inside Reginald's house and the first home made cake he had ever eaten. It seemed so cosy and homely he felt like crying, but had no idea why.

'I was just saying to your mother, Sebastian, that it would be so lovely if you and Reggie came to church one day and let god into your hearts.'

Sebastian felt like crying again, but for a different reason. Unable to stop himself he smiled brightly and asked, 'And which god would that be, Mrs. Blackthorn?'

She shook her head in confusion. 'What do you mean, dear?'

'Well, humans have worshipped about twenty-thousand different gods over the last hundred thousand years, so I'd better find out which one you worship before I put my foot in it.'

'Why, the one true god.' She said sweetly. 'All the previous gods were merely parts of the one true god. Jesus came and taught us that. We 'Holy Followers of the Invisible Superman in the Sky', worship the god who encompasses all the others in one supreme being.'

Sebastian's smile was beatific. 'Gosh! And you think he'd take an interest in me?'

She patted his head. 'Of course he does, Sebastian.' She turned to her son. 'Reggie darling. Be a dear and take the tea things to the kitchen.'

Reginald sighed and did as he was told.

'I'm so pleased you are Reginald's friend,' Mrs. Blackthorn said as soon as her son was out of earshot. 'You're so manly, but are you sure you're not cold?'

'No, why?'

Dragging her finger lightly over his firm young chest she giggled, 'You've no shirt and only those teensy weensy shorts. I can...' She simpered coquettishly.


'See your…'


Mrs Blackthorn's simper became an embarrassed twittering of delight. 'Oh you youngsters—so uncomplicated.'

You can only see the shape, just as I can see the shape of your breasts.'

'She giggled again excitedly, dragged her eyes away from Sebastian's crotch and whispered conspiratorially, 'Sebastian, you're obviously a healthy, normal young man so I need your help. Reggie tells me he's gay. This is of course impossible, but I can't change his mind. Please can't you persuade him to stop this nonsense.'


'It is dangerous for his eternal soul!'

'Dangerous? How?'

'God has decreed that those who fail the tests he sets can never enter the kingdom of heaven.'

'What tests?'

'Everyone is born with a cross to bear—something they must overcome, to prove they deserve to enter the kingdom of heaven. Some people have a tendency to stealing, to violence, to…'

'Obesity?' Sebastian cut in ruthlessly.

'If you are a real friend of Reggie,' Mrs. Blackthorn continued as if he hadn't spoken, 'then please persuade him to change his ways.'

'Don't you like him the way he is?'

'Yes! Of course I love him, it's only that…'

'You love your Invisible Superman more?'

'Yes. No!'

'Homosexuality isn't a choice, you know, it's fixed, like eye colour and all the other things that make us individuals.'

'So they say. But that doesn't mean he has to…to do it!'

'And if your god decreed that blue eyes were bad, you'd close your eyes and refuse to see?'

'It's not the same thing.'

'You're right, it isn't. What you are demanding of Reggie is much, much worse. The need to love someone and share sexual pleasure with them is the most powerful human instinct, and the source of a sense of self worth, happiness and contentment. You want to deprive your son of the joys of loving, sharing and caring for another person. This is the cruellest thing anyone can do to a fellow human! Not only will I have no part in it, but I will do all I can to persuade Reggie that to follow your demands is the path to misery and probable suicide.'

Sebastian turned abruptly and left the house, followed closely by Reginald. They cycled to a park and sprawled over the grass, watching clouds scudding across a yellowing sky.

'It's going to rain; possibly a cyclone.' Sebastian remarked.

'Probably.' Reginald was distracted. 'Sebastian, I listened to what you were saying to Mum just before we left. Thanks. But how on earth did you come up with all that stuff?'

'Internet chat. She thinks I'm 'normal' and can talk you into heterosexuality.'

'I know, she's always on about it.'

'Does her nagging affect you?'

'I try not to let it but…' Reginald shrugged hopelessly.

'I thought my mother was bad enough, selling my body and sexuality with videos and photos, but that's nothing compared to yours! I know most people would say what's happened to me is child abuse, but I think it's a hoot; an ego booster as long as the guys are lookers and the wrong people don't see it. But what your mother is doing is psychological abuse of the worst kind! If I'd stayed any longer I'd have been really rude.'

'You were perfect. Thanks. I know I'm not evil and sinful, and I know her god stuff is a load of crap, but it does get me down occasionally.'

'Well, not any more! You and I are never going to be victims of supernatural bullshit! Together we'll put the world to rights.'

'All of it?'

'Well, our bit at least.'

Desolé was irritated at their lateness but managed to conceal it beneath somewhat scatty chatter and a feigned interest in the boys' doings. Determined to seem totally open and innocent they told her about their day, making it all sound like fun, even the fracas on the street before school. She appeared amused at the idea of her son spending the morning naked, her sole concern being that he hadn't picked up a bug from the seats and had showered properly.

While they secretly congratulated themselves on a sterling performance, Desolé was pleased to have her suspicions confirmed. Sebastian was never normally so open and easy. This sudden candour had to be a facade to cover his snooping around. Well, she'd seen through his little ploy and was now even more delighted at the prospect of his departure. And the gangly Reginald could follow suit!

After watching the News, Sebastian and Reginald turned on the outside floodlight and went for a swim, horsing around in front of the cameras, then lying on the grass watching the stars, kissing and fondling as if they were being paid for it. After doing their homework they put on an even more explicit show in which each explored every inch of the other, their bodies positioned for the best possible camera angle. Each managed three orgasms—one in a mouth, one in their lover's hand, and one sitting facing each other, erections tied together with red ribbon.

'That was brilliant, Seb,' Reggie panted once the lights were out. 'What do you say we hire ourselves out as performers?'

'You're kinky Reginald Blackthorn, you know that?'

'Mmm. And one day soon I…I want you to fuck me.'

Despite Reginald's apparent enthusiasm, it was obvious to Sebastian that he was not looking forward to the activity with unadulterated delight, so he answered with a vague, 'Okay, if you want.'

'Don't you want to?' Reginald asked in ill concealed relief.

'Not especially, probably because I don't want it done to me.'

'But...I thought all gays did it. That you had to fuck up the arse otherwise you aren't really gay?'

'If so, then I'm not really gay. I just like being with you, playing around and sleeping with you. Apart from that I'm not queer.'

Reginald snuggled into Sebastian's side. 'That's a relief. I didn't really want to, but thought I had to, you know, prove I really love you and would do anything for you.'

'Reggie, what I want most in all the world is one friend I can trust to be himself. I don't want someone who is ready to go against his own principles and ideas because he thinks I might want it. If we're both true to ourselves, then nothing can go wrong because we'll always know what the other really wants. And all I want is you, exactly as you are.'

'As Polonius said to Laertes, "To thine own self be true, it then must follow as the night the day, thous canst not then be false to any man."'

'Sort of, except we have to be false to just about everyone else because the world hates queers. Never forget that. Law changes have made no difference. More and more people are getting the religious disease like our mothers, believing the hatred spewed from pulpits.'

'I can't believe you've thought all this stuff through so well. Like how you spoke to Mum! I feel so ignorant.'

'I spend a fair amount of time alone here on the internet. It's full of useful information about us.'

'Show me some time. I'm not allowed to go on the internet at home now, Mum's decided it's a tool of the devil.'

'How does she cope with your father's job? Aren't performing artists and strippers sinners?'

'Not if Dad can make money out of them. Mind you, Dad's hardly ever home any more. At least that means they don't argue all the time. I reckon becoming religious is a bit like furnishing a house, you go to the salesroom and take the bits that suit you and leave the rest.'

On that piece of wisdom they fell asleep, waking far too late to do anything except grab breakfast, tell Desolé they'd be going for a long bike ride after school and wouldn't be back till dark, then heading off to school; Reggie in his usual jeans and tank top, Sebastian in knee-length torn off hipster jeans.

Before assembly Sebastian sought out Con.

'Sorry, Con, I can't make it to wrestling after school, Reggie and I are visiting Papa and his Frau.'

'Fee? She's lovely. How about lunchtime then? I need to talk.'

'That'd be great. I hate missing a session. See you then.'

After a quick check to ensure he wasn't watched, Sebastian let himself into the room under the stairs. Con was already there, stripped and ready.

'What'd you want to talk about,' he asked as he removed his jeans.

'Guapo's gone back to Melbourne to prove to his family he's not dead. I told him to stay there until this mess is sorted. The fact that your mother pretended he had gone with Farzdbuk means he is in danger here. I want to help you guys get to the bottom of it, Okay?'

'Sure thing, Con. We might need your muscle.'

'It's yours. Also, I've learned a few tricks over the years that might be helpful.'

'You're brilliant, Con. I'll tell Rex tonight and let you know everything tomorrow. Meanwhile, I guess you're missing Guapo?'

'I'm a total mess! I'm in love, Seb. Can't imagine what on earth I was doing shagging that slut when I could have been enjoying glorious sex with a handsome man. I guess I was just too busy being the alpha butch male to admit the truth about myself.'

'But you suspected?'

'Of course. Why do you think I offered to continue wrestling instruction for just one kid?

'Sebastian laughed aloud. 'Conias Achilles! You fancy me!'

'Not in that way! I like you enormously. And you seemed, I don't know... sort of vulnerable. I had... have this urge to protect you. Sounds pathetic, but I'm not a chicken stealer. I never thought of sex—although you're very sexy.'

'That's a relief, you're a bit old for me.'

'Cheeky bastard!' He laughed self-consciously. 'I can't believe I'm talking to one of my students like this.'

'Why not? Relationships and friendships are important, and if you're not wanting to make babies surely sex is just a fun thing to do with someone? No different from playing a game of pool or wrestling together. It's not necessarily anything to do with love, although it's much more enjoyable doing it with someone you love. I love Reggie and we're great together, but that doesn't stop me playing tennis with someone else. Hell, I'm only seventeen! It's too soon to become a boring old husband.'

'You talk like a text book.'

'Reggie said the same thing yesterday when I ripped shit out of his mother for telling him he'd never get to heaven if he was gay. I log on to a dozen forums and these things are discussed all the time.'

'Even so… I must be going bonkers telling you all my secrets.'

'Not at all. We're mates, aren't we?'

Con was silent, not trusting himself to speak. Guapo had been the first man in his life he could call a real friend—someone he could be completely himself with, and now this strange but wonderful youth was offering his friendship. He swallowed away the lump in his throat and said softly, 'Sebastian, to be your friend would give me great pleasure.'

'So formal, Con? Surely you knew I liked you?'

'Yeah, but I assumed we were just wrestling mates. I didn't dare hope for friendship.'

'I've had only one real friend in my life,' Sebastian said reflectively, 'and never expected to make another. And then…' he stopped, wondering why tears were springing. 'It's just that... I've realised that you're soft as well as tough and… and you care for me and I don't know why, but I care for you too. I trust you and… Oh fuck! This is getting sentimental. Let's wrestle.'

Refreshed by the exercise, there was just time for a quick wash in the basin before the bell for afternoon school.

The ride to Rex Trovert's house in the hills above Mooroobool tested their thighs as it was uphill most of the way.

'Be great coasting down on the way home,' Reginald called over his shoulder, watching Sebastian struggle to make the hill. 'Come on kid, I thought you were fit.'

With a sudden spurt Sebastian passed him and arrived at the gate first.

'Wassamatter, old man? Too much for you?'

A short driveway under Poinciana trees led to a blank wall and a heavy wooden door. They knocked and it opened to reveal a slight woman in a simple flowered shift. Her eyes were black, hair a mass of loose black curls, arms and legs slim, and skin so dark if she stood in deep shade she'd be invisible. A set of perfect white teeth smiled and she welcomed them inside.

'Rex said the one with the fewest clothes would be my step son, so I guess you're Sebastian, and you're Reginald?'

'Right first time.'

'I'm Fee. Fancy a cool drink after that ride? You're very fit, the pair of you!'

'Thanks, a drink would be great.'

The small entrance hall opened to a large lounge room with windows on each side. On the right a view across trees to the city and sea several kilometres away. Opposite the view, French doors were open onto a private pool and trees. Not another house to be seen. The furniture was old; not antiques but good second hand stuff built to last. Several leather armchairs, a rattan-backed sofa sprinkled with colourful cushions. Several bluish Afghan carpets adorned the varnished wooden floor and white walls were almost covered in paintings; abstract and representational, European and Indigenous.

'Come through to the patio, it's cooler.'

'You've a shade cloth over it, we should have one too. The water gets far too hot in summer. Can we swim?'

'Of course.'

'Need togs?'

'No. Here are your drinks.' She handed each a long glass filled with fruit juice, which they downed, then stripped and dived in.

'Ah! cool at last. I thought I was going to melt by the time we got here. Come and join us, Fee.'

'I'm feeling shy.'

'Of us? Two queers? I sure hope not. Hurry up or I'll come and get you.'

Fee shrugged off her shift revealing a slim, boyish figure, and dived cleanly into the pool, swimming two lengths under water before surfacing.

'You're like a fish.'

'Pisces is my sign.'

'Mine too. Are you also left handed?'

'Ambidextrous.' She turned to Reginald with a shy smile. 'Reginald, you haven't said a word since you arrived. What are your interests?'

Once started on his passion Reginald chatted happily about the local flora and fauna until Rex arrived and joined them in the pool. By the time they reluctantly climbed out, Sebastian had learned that his great grand father was a Kanaka, kidnapped from the Pacific Islands and forced to work in the cane fields as an indentured labourer. Fee had been born in the bush two hundred kilometres north west of Camooweal. A scholarship to Brisbane Girls Grammar led to university where she majored in IT and learned to live among white people without becoming too depressed. She and Rex had met at university during an anti racist rally and, unable to discover anything important on which they disagreed, they moved in together; refusing to marry because they were unwilling to be part of a social system from which, despite academic and other successes, they both felt alienated.

'We stay together because we want to, not because we've signed a contract,' Rex said softly. 'And we don't want kids because there are quite enough already and the future doesn't look too promising. But you're already here,' he said responding to Sebastian's worried look. 'So we've got the best possible arrangement. The joy of an intelligent son without the guilt of having bred.'

During dinner Sebastian's solitary life was laid bare. Speaking distractedly as if he were talking about someone else, he told about his irritable mother of whom he was so ashamed, never inviting anyone home, his rebellious nudity and sexually promiscuous behaviour that had been encouraged by his mother, who made a healthy profit from exploiting it.

When questioned, he swore he had no idea where the money came from to buy the house or to sustain their life style, especially as Desolé was only the part time manager of a small employment agency.

Rex and Fee remained sympathetically silent, letting Sebastian choose his own pace to speak about Jack and the 'guests', the private hospital where they recovered and Sebastian's health was tested monthly, and to wonder why, despite becoming friends, none of the young men had contacted him after leaving. Finally they learned about Guapo's escape, Desolé's pretence that he was with Mr. Farzdbuk, and the discovery of the porno magazines and internet videos fed by hidden cameras.

'If I hadn't met Reginald at high school, and Mr. Noall hadn't been so understanding, I'd be dead by now. I was a weird suicidal mess with a mad mother and no friends. Several times I bashed my head against a wall till I lost consciousness. Once I drank kitchen cleaner and couldn't speak for weeks from throat burns, that's why my voice is sort of husky.'

'Sexy,' murmured Reginald.

Sebastian grinned happily. 'And then, by a pure fluke I learned I have a father after all, and he is the nicest teacher in school.'

'I thought Con Achilles held that position.'

'He's a beaut guy and a good friend, but not father material. By the way, he knows all about me and the situation and wants to help us. He's in love with Guapo you see, and he can't come back till it's settled.'

'You mean… Con's gay?'

'Yeah. He dumped his fiancé when he met Guapo.'

'This is excellent news! He's one tough guy! Just the muscle we might need.'

'Reginald's a force to be reckoned with too, you know.'

Reginald blushed.

'He saved me from a bashing the other day. Nearly killed the blokes, and is staying with me from now on.'

Reginald blushed again and stuttered. 'Yeah, well… I didn't tell you, Seb, but after what you said to Mum she said you're a bad influence and I was never to speak to you again.'

'So, what're you doing here?'

'When I said she could take a running jump she gave me an ultimatum; either stop being gay or get out. So I got out.'

His three listeners gazed in astonishment and Reginald's bravado began to slip. He couldn't stop a trembling lip so turned away to hide what he feared was his weakness.

Sebastian grabbed hold of Reginald's shoulders and hugged him. 'Reggie! That's terrible! You should've told me! Where are your things?'

'"I stormed out with only my school books.'

'No worries, you can have my clothes and we'd already decided you'd be staying with me.'

'You haven't got any clothes,' Reginald said with a sad, wry smile.

'Then you can have some of mine because from now on this is also your home, Reginald,' Rex said softly. "You're as welcome here as Sebastian, so that's settled.' He turned to Fee. 'We now have two sons.'

'Much better than one,' she said with a huge grin. And there's a double bed for you both in the spare room. So no worries.'

Reginald swallowed and managed a smile.

'Right,' said Fee brightly, 'now it's time to make a list of what we don't know, and ideas for action. Rex, pencil and paper. Reginald, check his spelling.'

'Yes, Ma-am.'

'We need answers to these questions: What happened to the young men? Why were the heavies who beat up and imprisoned Guapo, in the van with Farzdbuk when they arrived at Sebastian's place? What were they planning for him? Where is this hospital? Who runs it? Who were the people at the white house when Sebastian and Guapo arrived there after their weekend hike up the mountain. Why was Guapo instructed to have sex with one? What other activities are they involved in?'

'Hang on! I'm getting behind.'

'And you're a librarian,' laughed Reginald, astonished at his daring. It was a novel experience for him to treat adults as equals.

'Does your mother have a mobile phone, Sebastian?' Fee asked.

'She bought one of the simplest models but still couldn't work out how to use it; forgot to keep it charged, and hated being available every minute of the day to whoever felt like phoning; although she phones me any time she wants to—so I turn mine off. That really bugs her. Also, she likes to think about things before answering and reckons on the phone people demand instant decisions and responses. We've a landline that goes to the answering machine so she can listen to callers and decide whether to respond.'

'Must be hard for her boss and staff.'

'Everyone emails her. When she's home the internet's always on and when an email arrives a little alarm sounds. It's efficient and it means she has a written record of everything.

'Sounds sensible,' Fee nodded. 'I also don't like being available all the time, so I switch the phone off unless I want to use it. What sort of internet connection?'

'Satellite to router and ethernet to computer; wireless to mine.'

'What are the seven monitors connected to?'

'The computer.'

'So either she records directly onto the computer, then cuts DVDs to send on, or the ones you saw are copies for herself, and she sends the videos directly over the internet. Where does she work?'

'In an employment agency for young women, on James Cook highway. It's called Gopher Girls.'

'Got that, Rex?'

He nodded.

'What employment does Desolé find for the young women, and where's Farzdbuk' s hospital?'

'No idea about the girls, but the hospital's south about ten kilometres, then turn into the hills. I'll draw you a map.'

'What's it called and why does he need a hospital?'

'As far as I know it doesn't have a name, we just call it Farzdbuk's hospital, and why he has it I've no idea.'

'Very suspicious.'

'But they do a good job on the guys.'

'After first damaging them,' Reginald said bluntly.

'Indeed!' Rex agreed.

'What's your mother's email address?'

'DS at ourserver dot net. She reckons she's part French and if you say D S like the French do, it means goddess.'

'For years the largest Citroen was called the DS for that reason,' Rex volunteered, but no one was listening. Fee jumped to her feet.

'Come with me.' She led the way to her office where Reginald gasped.

'Fee! All this electronic gear! What's your job?'

'I freelance for several banks; annoying hackers.'

'D'you work for the cops too?'

'And have them come one night and beat me up because I'm black so must be a dumb crook? No thanks.'

'What're you going to do?'

'Create a fake, no-reply, untraceable email address, so I can send an attachment to Desolé that when opened will instruct her computer to send a copy of everything she uploads or downloads, to my computer.'

'A virus?'

'Not really, it won't harm her computer.'

'Can I watch?'

'Of course.' Her hands flew over the keys and she sat back. 'What do you reckon?'

'Ever-young Cosmetics Ltd.' Reginald read. 'Dear Desolé Sanspere, we are delighted to inform you that you have been selected to take part in a six-month free trial of the entire range of our beauty care cosmetics. Simply open the attachment and follow the link to claim five hundred dollars worth of exclusive crèmes and lotions. Sincerely, Esmé d'Antin, Senior Executive Officer, The Phoebe Foundation of Beauty.'

'Not bad,' Sebastian laughed. 'She uses tonnes of makeup. Does the link work?'

'No, all she'll get is a message telling her the address can't be found.' Fee smiled as she attached the link and pressed send. 'Let's hope she reads it soon.'

'When will we know?'

'When this computer starts beeping. That'll mean she's opened the link and there's incoming information.'

'How many computers have you?'

'Two powerful ones for my work, a laptop for private.'

'Sorry to interrupt,' Rex broke in, 'but it's already dark and you don't want to arrive home suspiciously late. Stick your bikes in the back of the wagon and I'll drive you home. There's no moon and you've no lights on your bikes.'

'When can we come back?'

'The welcome mat's out twenty-four/seven. From today this house is yours. And the minute this is cleared up you're both coming to live with us. School holidays start on Friday and we'll work solidly on it then. Okay?'

Sebastian gave Rex an impulsive hug, and Fee a kiss on the cheek then ran from the room before they could see his tears. It was all too good. Something was going to go wrong. Nothing good ever lasted. He was silent all the way home, leaving Reginald to talk quietly with Rex and agree to return on Saturday with Sebastian to stay for a few days, telling Desolé they'd be going camping.

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