The New Broom

by Rigby Taylor

'I didn't know this place existed. What is it?'

'The old gymnasium. It's used by the weight-lifting club and there's a lot of sports stuff stored here. And Spry's office is over there.'

'Are we allowed to just wander in?'


'So it's out of bounds! You know I'm on my last warning. Spry could walk in and catch us.'

'Calm down. He was umpiring tennis when we went past. He'll be ages.'

Clovis gazed disconsolately around. 'This is a dump. Can't see why we came in.'

'For these.' Reginald led him to a corner where a couple of heavy ropes were suspended from a beam.

'You want me to hang myself?'

'Idiot. Just do what I do and you'll understand.'

Reginald took off his shorts and tossed them aside, then grasped one of the ropes and hoisted his feet just off the floor where he hung while slowly drawing his knees up as close to his belly as he could, then slowly lowering them. Slowly up. Slowly down…

'Why do I have to take my shorts off?'

'You'll find out.'

Clovis shrugged, tossed his shorts on top of his friend's, then did his best to imitate him.

'This is hard work! I'm not as strong as you…. Hey! You've got a hard on.'

'Shut up and concentrate. You're distracting me.'

After a short minute of gentle grunts Clovis giggled, 'It feels funny between my thighs. I've also got a boner.'

'That's what I….ahhhaaaaaaaaaaa.' With a sigh of pleasure Reginald hung limply for a few seconds then dropped to the floor and sprawled on his back. 'That was very, very, very nice.'

Clovis's grunts morphed to soft growls then a strained, 'Oh fuck. Oh fuck I'm…. Yeeesssssssssss!'

Half a minute later he was sprawled beside his friend. 'That was amazing; I came without touching it. Unreal. That deserves a kiss.' He leaned over and lightly brushed lips with his boyfriend.

Reginald grinned. 'It was unreal watching your cock spurting.'

'I missed yours; concentrating on the feeling.'

'We'd better clean it up, cum really sticks when it dries.'

'Yeah—I'm going to use it to stick the pictures in my history assignment,' Clovis giggled.

'Good thinking, and if you run out you've got more on tap.' Reginald laughed.

Using a rag they found in a corner, they wiped sticky blobs off the polished floor, then replaced their shorts.

'How'd you discover this place?'

'Spry took the cleaning squad last week and let me choose between sweeping the quadrangle or this place. While waiting for him to return I tried the ropes and this happened. Sprayed the inside of my P.E. shorts. Took ages to wash out after it'd dried.'

'Why haven't you shown me before?'

'This is the first time I've seen the place open. Usually it's locked.'

'Then we'd better go; I like Spry and want him to think I'm a good boy—not a rule breaker.'

'He wouldn't. He's human; not like the other teachers.'

'I'd love to have his body—lean and strong.'

'And sexy,' Reginald laughed. 'Admit it, you've got the hots for him.'

'So have you. You're always talking about what a great guy he is.'

'Well he is, so if you want to put muscles like his on your arms and shoulders, prove you're a man and race me to the top.'

'Of the rope? You're kidding, there has to be another way.'

'Nope. The only way is up.'

'You're on!'

They grasped the ropes and began energetically enough, but after a couple of metres, stopped.

'My arms are killing me.'

'Me too.'

'Give up?'


The outside door slammed and the P.E. teacher walked briskly towards his office, whistling tunelessly.

Three months earlier, the fatal heart attack that disposed of the previous physical education teacher, had been greeted with relief and quiet celebration by students and staff alike. However, their relief was short lived when it proved difficult to find a replacement. It seemed that being the sole Phys Ed teacher in an insignificant boys boarding school with falling rolls on the edge of a dying town, wasn't an alluring prospect, so the headmaster wasn't optimistic when he gave Edgar Spry, a young man fresh out of university, a tour of the facilities.

'This is a relatively new gymnasium,' Mr. Spry remarked, 'but it's in a terrible state! Where's all the gear a gymnasium's supposed to have? And why were the boys so aggressive when you told them I might be the new Phys Ed teacher?'

'The previous incumbent was a sadist,' the headmaster explained. 'An incompetent, lazy, obese, violent bastard kept in place by a contract we were unable to break. Fortunately, his heart revolted. I imagine the lads are suspicious of anyone who wants to take his place and were letting you know they won't accept a similar situation without a fight.'

'Didn't parents complain about him?'

'Most of the pupils come from families that are unwilling, or sometimes unable, to take responsibility for their offspring. There's been no shortage of money for the Phys Ed department, only a desperate shortage of professional competence, kindness and compassion. You're exactly what we need—a fit and healthy young man who is interested in his work and genuinely cares for his charges. Someone like you would turn the entire school around.'

The young man could scarcely refrain from laughing. 'While I'm not saying you're wrong, I must say I'm impressed at your ability to read my character after such a short acquaintance.'

The headmaster laughed pleasantly. 'Put it down to wishful thinking. I love this school and the kids. But I do think I'm a pretty good judge of character. It wasn't me who hired that last Phys Ed teacher, I hasten to add.'

'Mmmm… I like the location and that I'd be the only Phys Ed teacher, but…' he shook his head. 'The state of the gym… and everything…'

'Here's what I can offer; if you'd like to rescue a hundred and thirty-two young lads from a future devoid of health, fitness and pleasure, I guarantee you a free hand and as much money as you need to make whatever changes you think fit.'

The young man hesitated. Bit his lip then stated as if for confirmation, 'I can make whatever changes I like.'


'Even the uniform?'


'I'd better warn you I'm not into rewards, punishment and competition, I think they destroy pleasure and inhibit learning.'

'I tend to agree.'

'Will I have to be a housemaster?'

'No. You'll be too busy with after school activities as well as in the gym.'

'Where will I sleep?'

The headmaster smiled his relief and took the young man to view the almost luxurious apartment with all facilities and a pleasant view across fields to a forest.

'It smells of paint.'

'I had the entire place stripped, steam cleaned, refurbished and repainted, and all furniture is new—your predecessor left it in an even more disgusting state than the gymnasium.'

Mr. Spry's health and physical symmetry guaranteed him admiration from all except dyed-in-the-wool misanthropists. His love of teaching and the pleasure he took in his pupils, however, were viewed with some caution by those who considered his youth and inexperience an impediment.

As well as bringing the gymnasium and sports equipment up to scratch, he replaced the Phys Ed uniform of plimsolls, long baggy grey shorts and coarse singlets, with shiny little running shorts in the school colours. Singlets and other underclothes, he insisted, prevented sweat from evaporating, soaked it up and then chilled the body once activity ceased. Sporty tracksuits, on the other hand, prevented chills after exercise, and the boys loved them. As for sweaty, fungus-harbouring plimsolls—all outdoor surfaces including tennis courts were grass, so bare feet were in every way healthier.

For boys responsible for their personal laundry, no longer having to clean muddy plimsolls, and having only one easy to wash and dry article of clothing instead of four that took ages to clean and dry, elevated Mr. Spry to the level of "Hero who can do no wrong."

Unlike his middle-aged predecessor who would stand at the edge of the field in shoes, slacks, food-spotted shirt and battered sports coat, smoking, shouting abuse and slapping detentions and his cane on unwilling lads, Mr. Spry wore the same uniform as his charges; demonstrating, encouraging and inspiring in every activity while remaining somewhat reserved—intuitively understanding that familiarity breeds contempt. He wanted to be a respected teacher, not "one of the boys".

His educational philosophy was simple: create a happy, non-competitive environment, freeing boys to concentrate on their personal health and fitness.

'If a hundred boys compete for something,' he explained at a staff meeting, 'we end up with ninety-nine losers. And as no one likes to lose, they lose interest in the activity. While I'm in charge of sport and health, there will be no school records kept of the results of any activity—individual or team, although each student will be required to keep a private record of their personal progress, using a set of graduated health and fitness tests. Pupils are of course free to organise their own individual competitions, but the Phys Ed department will not become involved.'

'What about team sports?'

'As an individualist, I dislike them, but will support any teacher who wishes to organise them.'

Within two months of Mr. Spry's appointment, physical education and sport had become the most popular subject, along with a noticeable increase in fit, healthy, alert lads, keen to learn and a pleasure to teach. Matron reported a hundred percent decrease in the number of malingerers seeking exemptions from physical exercise. Classroom behaviour had improved to the extent that detentions were now a rarity.

But still useful, thought Spry, who at that moment was standing, hands on hips, eyes slits, glaring up at two lads dangling from a pair of ropes in muscle-twitching agony.

'Why are you wearing those bloody great bloomers, Reginald?'

'So I wouldn't get my good shorts dirty, sir.'

'Floppy clothes get in the way when doing anything other than simply hoisting yourself up by your arms. They make gripping the rope between your legs less secure. You could catch your heel in those great bags! Rope climbing is a dangerous sport.'

'Yes sir. Can I get down, sir, my arms are coming out of their sockets.'

'Not till you've explained the plimsolls! They're equally dangerous. Bare feet are essential because you feel with your feet. They place the rope exactly where you need it and can grip a bit, helping to brake you! He gave a sigh of despair. 'And those socks! Why?'

'We're this week's paper and plastic picker uppers under the trees on the boundary, sir, so we need protection from thistles and cutty grass,' Clovis explained, puppy-dog eyes wide in mute appeal.

'You've scraped your knee, Clovis. Has Matron seen to it?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Right. If you two are not standing in front of my office in twenty seconds flat, I'll make a wax models of you both and stick pins into them.'

Risking rope burns they slid down, ran to the office door and stood meekly.

'Stand up straight!' Mr. Spry snapped. 'And stop rubbing your arms.'

'Can you really do voodoo, sir?' Clovis asked innocently.

'Yes, Clovis, and I can also read minds. Stop giggling Reginald. Entering an out of bounds area and using forbidden equipment is a serious matter!'

'Yes, sir.'

Mr. Spry gazed solemnly at the two miscreants, letting them imagine a dire outcome. Then asked, 'Why are you two always together as if you're joined at the hip?'

'I wouldn't mind if we were,' Clovis said dreamily.

Spry frowned. 'Stop being ridiculous.'

'Clovis is an incurable romantic,' Reginald explained.

'And you, Reginald?'

'I'm more pragmatic, sir, reluctantly accepting that I live in a very imperfect world to which I have to adapt, as there's no possibility of it adapting to me.'

'I see… I think... So… what adaptations to your world would you like to make?'

'It's better that I don't tell you, sir. Teachers dislike fourteen year old boys who hold opinions, especially opinions that run counter to theirs.'

'Have I been guilty of that?'

'Yes, sir. Two weeks ago I said it was unfair to force every pupil to run the same length school marathon, because some people have more Type 1 slow twitch muscles that can contract for a long time without much effort, so they have an unfair advantage over those with more Type 2 fast twitch muscles that are stronger but quickly tire. And you told me to shut up because I was just trying to get out of running. And then you made me run twice more around the field. My legs ached all night.'

'Mea culpa.' Spry frowned as if unsure what to say, then shrugged. 'You were right about the different muscles.'

'I know. So will there be different length marathons?'

'No, because the range of musculature differences is not clear-cut—it's more of a continuum. And why shouldn't those with type 1 muscles have the advantage for a change? The type 2s have an advantage in sports requiring short bursts of energy. That's why you're a sprinter and not a long distance runner, and why you'll be able to climb ropes more easily than Clovis. Should we make the ropes shorter for him?'

'Mmmm… I suppose there's something in that.'

'So… what's another change you'd you like to make?'

'I'd like to have a bit of privacy in my cubicle. When Clovis visits we have to leave the door open wide. I'd like to close it.'

'And what would you do behind the closed door?'

'Nothing that would harm any other person in any way.'

'Perhaps it might harm your emotional development?'

'Tell me, Mr. Spry, how would kissing Clovis harm my emotional development?'


'And please explain to me , sir, why teachers think it is bad for two boys to love each other,' Clovis interrupted bravely.

'They don't—in principle. At least none I know.'

'Then why are kissing and holding hands and… other things banned?'

'Because sexual desire is one of the most powerful human urges, and can quickly get out of hand. It's responsible for far too many criminal acts in people without the moral strength to control their lusts and desires. Humans in groups seldom behave rationally. You two are both fit and handsome, so I can easily imagine other boys wanting to be your lovers. And before long there'd be jealous fights, unpleasantness, dastardly deeds. Oliver Smellie, who I've noticed is always hanging around you, Clovis, might grab you and glue his lips to yours and claim you'd encouraged him.'

'Yuk!!! sir. That is horrible!'

'But it isn't the worst thing that could happen in the hot-house atmosphere of a hundred and something testosterone inflamed young men constantly thinking about sex.'

'Yessssss…. I see what you mean, I think, but when Reggie came to stay with my Aunt last mid term, we slept in the same room, closed the door and did as we liked.'

'But there weren't fifteen other boys just outside your door imagining what you're doing and planning how they can also get so lucky…'

'So,' said Reginald thoughtfully, 'compulsory celibacy and lack of privacy is the price we pay to maintain stability in a boarding school. Huh! So much for treating us as individuals and fostering self-reliance and all that garbage. You simply presume we're all incapable of self-control and force us to bottle up our most noble sentiments so we become either impotent, or sex-crazed loonies once we're free of our shackles and living in the real world.'

Mr. Spry smiled, unintentionally inflaming Reginald's ire. 'You've been reading up on the subject, Reginald, well done.'

'You might think it's a joke, sir, but…'

'Leave it, Reggie,' Clovis whispered nervously. 'There's no point, and if Mr. Grey is looking for us. He'll be annoyed. We have to go!'

'Tell Mr. Grey I kept you,' Mr. Spry said calmly, gazing into Reginald's eyes as if assessing his worth. 'I do not think it is a joke, Reginald,' he said softly before turning to Clovis. 'Would you like to be kissed by Reginald in his cubicle if the door were closed?'

'Yes, sir. Very much.'

'Is there nowhere else you could do it?'

'Not without going out of bounds.'

'So why don't you do that?'

'Because if my parents get one more complaint from the school, I'll be spending all the next holidays with my grandmother.'

'Don't you like your grandmother?'

'She drinks more than my aunt and makes me do all the housework, won't let me have friends, and I have to serve afternoon tea to her bitchy friends when they play bridge. And I hate her latest boyfriend.'

'Ah. Serious.'

'Yes, sir. So please don't make a complaint about today.'

'I won't.'

Clovis smiled his thanks.

Worried that Clovis might start revealing secrets, Reginald interrupted, 'sir, why are there ropes in here but none in the other gym? We both want to get powerful shoulders and arms like you, so can we use these?'

Spry laughed. 'I think you should leave the flattery to Clovis, he's more convincing. The reason for no ropes is an incompetent architect who didn't include provision for them in the plans. The headmaster is working on getting some. I put these in myself, that's why they're new, to help me keep fit. Rope work is one of the best upper body exercises.'

'Can you show us how to climb safely—and other stuff?' Clovis asked guilelessly.

'Other stuff?'

'You know, clever, hard things that most people can't do because they're too weak.'

'Yeah, please sir,' Reginald added. 'We're seriously interested. It felt great climbing the ropes this afternoon; the little bit we did.'

'You'll think I'm showing off.'

'No we won't! No one ever thinks you're showing off—and we won't tell anyone. Promise.'

'A private performance? Okay, but keep it under your hat.'

The two lads stood entranced as the teacher reached up, took hold of the rope in both hands, let his legs hang loosely, then with a series of movements so fast they became a blur, he pulled himself up, let go, swiftly raised both hands, grabbed the rope, pulled himself up and repeated this until seconds later was at the top, where he flipped over, hung upside down for an instant, then let the rope go and dropped straight down, stopping only centimetres before slamming his head into the floor. Without pausing he flipped over, splayed both legs out perpendicular to the rope, then swiftly hauled himself to the top hand over hand before doing what looked like a series of forward rolls all the way down to the bottom, landing on his feet with a wide grin.'

His gobsmacked audience stood speechless, eyes and mouths wide with astonishment.

'Sir! I thought you were going to kill yourself! That's unreal. You are so strong and you're not even panting.'

'Thanks, Reginald, it wasn't as difficult as it looks.'

'Do your muscles get hot, sir? Can I touch them?' Clovis whispered.

Mr. Spry bent forward. Clovis ran his hand over a powerful shoulder.

'It's only warm. And huge! When I look at you all together your shoulders look normal, but up close they're enormous. Five times bigger than mine, and so hard.' He ran fingers down the biceps and squeezed. 'Do you think I'll ever have arms like yours?'

'If you work at it.'

'Why do you want to be so fit and healthy, sir?'

'It makes me feel good, and as one day I hope to share my life with someone who is also fit and healthy, then I'd better keep it up or they'll find someone else more attractive.'

'You're very attractive to me, sir.'

'Ah, Clovis, you're such an ego-booster. But now it's your turn. This is the way to climb until your muscles are stronger.' He hung on the rope, pulled himself up with both hands, wrapped his legs and feet tightly around it, swiftly released both hands letting his legs keep him in place for the brief second until both hands had gripped it again a little bit higher, then repeated the movements.

'Okay, your turn. But only raise your hands a few centimetres each time until you are stronger and used to it.

After several tries, both youths were ecstatic.

'It's much easier lifting myself with two hands. I thought you had to just go hand over hand. But you're right; legs and feet do half the work and stop the rope from waggling everywhere. Thanks, sir.'

'Yes, thanks, sir. But we'd better go.'

'Yes, you had…' the teacher paused as if to think, took a breath, let it out in a soft whistle as if unsure, then said seriously, 'You both seem genuinely interested in climbing ropes, so I have a proposition… Reginald, you did a good job of sweeping this place the other day, so how would you and Clovis like to keep a check on things here? Pop in for a few minutes every now and again, check the gear's away, the floor's clean, the front door's locked… that sort of thing… not much work, but important, I think you'll agree?'

'Yes, sir. Extremely important. But if the door's locked, how do we get in?'

'There's a back door that I usually leave unlocked in case of emergency. I'll give you a list of the times this place is used, so you can come when it's empty and won't disturb people.'

'Sounds great, sir.'

'But it would be best if it remained an unofficial job—no need to get anyone else involved—they only ask questions… you agree?'

'Definitely, sir! Thank you.'

'Thank you for accepting the responsibility. The back door is just behind this partition… I think it'd be a good idea to leave that way now, and when you come to perform your tasks, promise not to climb higher than your shoulders until I've checked your progress, so when you fall you won't kill yourselves—that would be somewhat inconvenient. And wear nothing but your Phys Ed shorts.'

'Yes, sir. We promise.''

'Right—off you go.'


This story is part of the 2021 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: The Only Way is Up!". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 26 March to 15 April 2021 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

2021 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - The Only Way is Up!
Gymnastics at Ila school By Leif Ørnelund / Oslo Museum, License: Attrbution-ShareAlike CC BY-SA 4.0

The New Broom

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