The Saturday Boy
Chapter 9 - We can't go on Together with Suspicious Minds
"I Think you should leave!" Dean said, abruptly
"Dean, where are your manners, behave yourself." Sarah said, scolding him.
"Yeah Dean, Joey is your friend, stop being so silly." Vince added.
"Silly…you think this is silly dad, He's just pretty much admitted he's a fag!"
"Dean! I will not have that word used in this house, tell him Vince."
"Your mother is right Dean, it's a nasty word, please don't refer to gay people as fags."
"I'm not gay," I blurted out, trying to get a word in over everyone else.
"Then what are you?" Dean hissed at me again.
"I…I don't know Dean, why are you being like this."
"You know what, you can stay here, but I'm not."
Dean slammed his knife and fork down on to his half eaten dinner and pushed out his chair, almost knocking it over, before storming past us and upstairs. We all jumped as his bedroom door was slammed shut, indicating that any conversation with Dean tonight, was over.
"Don't worry sweetheart, I'll talk to him, he's always been a bit sensitive about homosexual matters, and I know he doesn't get it from us." Sarah said, tapping my hand.
"I didn't even mean for the word to come out, it just slipped." I said, shaking my head.
"Joey, you're at that age where things can become confusing for a young man growing up, most boys go through it, and whatever side of the fence you wanna dangle your tackle, it shouldn't really matter. I said it shouldn't matter hey Vince."
"No love," replied Vince, slurping on his stew.
"I need to try and talk to him Sarah; I can't leave it like this."
"Finish your dinner first, give him some time to cool off, you know how hot headed he can be, it's the hormones I reckon. That's what you said eh Vince…you said it was the hormones right?"
"Yes love, the hormones"
She sighed, looking at me. "There was a time when Vince's hormones used to rage through his veins, but now they just float around in some stagnant pond."
"Thanks love, I'm sure Joey wanted to know that," Vince remarked.
I carried on eating my dinner out of politeness really; I had long since lost my appetite. I could have really kicked myself for saying what I did but there was no way to take it back, rewind the clock. I honestly didn't even mean to come out with the word, I don't know why I did, it's not like that was what I was thinking all the time, it was just a word that flew through my mind as I thought about him… at that moment. It was a surprise to me as it was to all of them, but it told me something. It told me that deep down that Jack was something else to me, something other than the Saturday boy at my parent's pub.
Maybe I had known that for a while and just denied it to myself, or perhaps it really was a turning point and I had just discovered the way I really saw him…cute. He was cute, but in a gay way? I didn't know.
My mind was far away, the sound of clattering cutlery and Sarah talking to Vince far off in the distance. It was consumed with what I was going to say to Dean. A small part of me was defiant though, I mean, what the fuck was his problem? It's not like I had jumped over the table and put my tongue down his throat.
I placed my knife and fork down having chewed the last mouthful on my plate. "Thanks Sarah that was amazing."
"You're welcome Joey, would like anymore?"
"Oh god no, I couldn't, I'm stuffed, but thanks for the offer."
"So I guess you'll want to be having that chat with Dean now yes?"
"Yeah I should go up and see him. I'm sorry if I caused him to freak out, I don't even know why I said what I did, it meant nothing," I reiterated.
"Maybe it didn't, maybe it did Joey, but there is no shame in admitting you like someone, no matter your sexual preference. I must say though, when Vince tried to anally probe me, I did scream, so you might wanna have a think about that part." She said, putting her hand to her mouth to muffle a high pitched laugh.
"Sarah, for god sake," Vince cried, almost choking on his drink.
"What? I just want the poor lad to be prepared." I just sat there speechless, my face lit up like a red traffic light.
"Uh, I'll go see Dean now," I remarked, before slipping away. I walked down the hallway and up the stairs walking straight into Dean's room, this time without knocking.
"The whole time Joey," was the first thing he said.
"Dean, look whatever I said…"
"The whole fucking time Joey," he said again, cutting me off. "Not cool man, not cool at all."
"Hey for once, just shut your fucking mouth and listen to me."
"No you fucking listen Joey! How long have we been friends? Forever right, and I'm sitting here thinking what a fucking idiot I've been for not seeing this, an idiot for telling you that stuff about girls and how I fucked them, and the thing with James, and all the time you've probably been getting off on it. I'm an idiot for letting this…I mean you, you have this double life, and this life involves liking cock."
"What the…have you lost your fucking mind? What, so you think because I accidently said the guy was cute, you think I'm some gay sex fiend who goes home and jerks off with the thoughts of your seedy episodes with girls and the images of your brother screwing you? Well, don't fucking flatter yourself. For your information I'm going through a hard time at the moment with my feelings for Jack, and if you were half the friend that Shaun is then you would start looking further than your own fucking nose!"
"Shaun…Shaun knows about this? Oh fuck me sideways, this just gets better, well thanks a lot Joey, nice to see you two getting along so well without me."
"Dean, do you ever wonder why? All you do is judge people. If they don't act and think like you they're just odd aren't they, because everyone has to fit into your one dimensional box."
"Then why have we been friends so long, if I need everyone to be like me, because you sure as hell have never been."
"After today Dean, I don't know why we've been friends for so fucking long; it's hardly been something to celebrate has it."
"Well, why don't you just go then!"
"Is that what you want, because if I do, our friendship is over for good, because this shit aint worth it. If we are friends…and I'm struggling to see that we are, then I need your support. If I don't have that then I'll go and we can forget we ever entertained the idea of friendship."
"Are you blackmailing me?"
"No Dean, I'm just sick of you being…being you! You always attack everything, everyone. You never compromise with anything or anyone, you just sit there and judge judge judge, and I'm fucking sick of it."
Dean sat there in silence, and I wondered if the penny had finally dropped for him. But I needed to say all that I had, he needed to hear it, and I was sick to the fucking back teeth of backing down to him, simply because it was him…because it was Dean, because it was always expected of Dean to be… Dean.
We stared at each other for what seemed like ages. My heart was beating so fast, and I expected his was too looking at his body language. I refused to say anything more, feeling that I had said all I needed to, to win this argument, probably the first one ever.
"You would really walk away from our friendship," he finally said, his voice quiet and calm.
"Yeah Dean, I would. Even if what I said downstairs about Jack held any weight, and I don't think it does, I should not have to be berated and shouted at by you, because you're supposed to be one of my best friends."
"I just…after all that I've been through, the trouble I've had dealing with gay people, James, and then you drop a hint or suggestion about yourself, tell me how I am supposed to react Joey."
"I don't know Dean…I don't know how you're supposed to react, but like I said to you down at the lake, Jack is not your brother and nor am I. We are no threat to you whatsoever.
"So you admit it then, that you're gay?"
"I can't admit it Dean, because I don't know myself. Like I said, I'm having a hard time dealing with that part of my life right now, and you didn't really help matters with your display downstairs."
"What do you mean you don't know, do you like guys or not?"
"No I don't like guys, like that, it's just Jack…there is something about…"
"Please spare me the details; I don't think I can deal with an explanation."
"Look all I'm saying is, I have never looked at another guy and thought, oh wow, I really wanna have sex with him, if that's what you're thinking."
"So what's different about Stanton then?"
"I thought you didn't wanna hear it."
"I don't, I just want to understand, so I can try and get my head around it."
"Truth is Dean…about Jack, I don't understand it either. I don't know what I feel. It's not like an easy feeling I can describe, like hate, love, like, lust or whatever."
Dean bit his bottom lip. "So…so If, uh…if he asked you to um…to uh, go to bed with him, would you?" he asked, tentatively. I stood and stared at him, a rush of images passed through my mind relating to just that, Jack and me…having sex. The images, in complete clarity in my mind confirmed the answer to his question.
"Yeah Dean…yeah I think I would."
"Oh fuck man!" Dean muttered, shaking his head, before putting it in his hands.
"I'm sorry it wasn't the answer you were hoping for."
"Yeah, you and me both."
"So, shall I go?"
"Why Joey, why now?"
I shrugged. "Who knows, I didn't." It was all I could say, because it was the truth, I didn't know why, and why now.
"How much does Shaun actually know about all this?"
"About as much as you know now, and as much as I know. Like I said Dean, I don't have all the answers."
"So what are you gonna do about Stanton?"
"What about him?"
"Well, you gotta get rid of him yeah, tell him to stop working at the pub and all that?"
"Why? What do you mean why, so you can get over this."
"What if I don't want to, what If I wanna just go with it, and find out how I really feel?"
"You mean go all the way with him?"
"Maybe, if it comes to that. Maybe it won't, maybe it's just a phase and it will pass. But I need to know…I need to know for myself, and if our friendship is made up primarily of what way I'll eventually swing, then I see no reason to continue it."
"A choice Dean. It's yours to make. I'll be going now so you can think about what I mean to you."
I didn't wait for him to respond. I just left his room and went downstairs and let Sarah and Vince know I was going. I made it quick just in case he came down to talk to me. I didn't want to talk to him. I didn't want to explain anymore. I had made it as clear as I could. I had been honest and open as my brain allowed me to be. The ball was in his court now.
I arrived back at the pub thoroughly miserable. It felt like I was running out of places I could go where someone wasn't judging me. Dean had freaked out and now I had to go back to the place where I was caught jerking off by my mother. I could go to Shaun's but he was just acting weird, and Jack…well, we all know that would not be a bright idea, especially with his father being trigger happy with his fists.
I walked through the door taking a deep breath. My mother eyed me as I walked along the bar, but she didn't call me over. Maybe she wasn't very happy that I had basically told her I was going out without waiting for permission. Or maybe she was still just as freaked out as I was about the whole jerk off thing, but was not admitting it. I wandered upstairs to the apartment and entered the lounge, finding my dad sitting on the sofa reading the paper.
"Hey Joey," he said, looking over the top of it.
"Hey dad," I replied, sitting down on the sofa opposite. "On your break?"
"Yeah, what have you been up to?"
"Oh, I just went to Dean's, they gave me dinner."
"That's nice of them, how are Sarah and Vince?"
I shrugged. "You know… the same."
He chuckled. "Yeah, you'll never get another couple like them."
"Yeah, I guess not."
"So, your mother said she caught you pulling the pudding today. I just thought I would get that out in the open."
"I think I'm gonna vomit that you got that out in the open. I just thought I would get that out in the open."
"Well, just so you know, it's no big deal. I'm supposed to sit here and talk to you about it, but I know you want to do that as much as I probably do, so if your mother ever brings it up, we talked ok?"
"Yeah, you got my vote on that."
"Fine then, we'll say no more about it, its forgotten." He slapped his paper down on the table between us and got up. "Well, back to work, thanks for the talk son."
"Yeah, no worries dad." I replied, following him with my eyes as he left.
Did that just happen?
I got up and went to my room. It needed a tidy so I started to walk round picking up all my clothes that I tended to just throw on the floor whenever I was done with them. Getting in to a rhythm, I decided it was probably time for my sheets to be changed as well, no not because of what you're thinking, but because of normal reasons.
Picking up a pillow to take it cover off I found my trusty porno mag lying on top of my second pillow. I dropped the pillow and the cover to the floor and sat on my bed, taking the magazine in my hand. For some reason it didn't give me the usual urge to jack off. Maybe I was just bored of it, but a niggling thought crossed my mind that recent 'events' had something to do with it.
I took one final look through the pages before placing it in a black rubbish bag, along with four coke cans, sweet wrappers and a cup that had some science experiment growing in it from being left so long.
As I went round cleaning stuff up and pulling off my sheets, thoughts of what Dean had said to me came into my head. The main one being that I should get rid of Jack. I found it hard to believe that the feelings I had for him were anything serious enough to warrant sacking him, and besides, I didn't do the hiring and firing, that was down to my parents. Furthermore I wanted to explore those feelings for Jack, more than I needed a friend like Dean. Sacking him was out of the question. I wanted him here.
I started to wonder why I had been friends with Dean all this time. Sure, he was great at times, and I had a brilliant relationship with his parents, they treated me like a son almost. But Dean was such a primitive person, who acted on such black and white raw emotion it really didn't seem compatible to someone like me who always liked to explore all the options of a situation. Like Shaun, I'm a live and let live kinda guy; I try and get on with everyone, but Dean? He's a live like me or die.
I tried to put myself in his situation sometimes, and I always came to the same conclusion…that I would never act like him, have the same reaction. There was one time when he was playing football and one of the players accidently kicked the ball and it hit me in the face while I watched. I didn't think anything of it, but Dean grabbed him by the throat and head butted him for it.
It was the same today at his parents. Just because I accidently said the word cute instead of something else regarding Jack, he flips out. Would I have done the same to him if the shoe was on the other foot?
I threw my bed sheets and the remaining clothes I had found down the side of my bed into the hamper in the bathroom. As I returned to my room my phone was buzzing on my computer desk. I picked it up and looked at the screen seeing it was Dean. About to ignore it, not really having the energy to listen to what he had to say, I started to put it down again. But I knew he would just turn up if I did that, so I picked it up again and answered.
"Dean if you're about to start giving me a hard time again I'm gonna hang…"
"Is camping still on?" he asked. The question brought an ever so wry smile to my face. It took me a while to respond. "Joey, are you there?"
"Yeah Dean I'm here."
"So is it?"
"Not sure, are you gonna freak out if I tell you I'm in love with Matt Damon?"
"Fuck, are you?"
"No Dean, it's called sarcasm…look I just don't want us to get into another argument. If we go camping, we go to have a good time."
"Yeah I know, so are we still going?"
"Is this the Dean way of apologising?"
"Don't make me say it Joey, I don't see why I should."
"Ok, I'm gonna hang up now then."
"Ok wait…shit, look, ok I apologise. I apologise for freaking out that my best friend might just fancy guys."
I took a deep breath and sighed. It was the best I was going to get, even if there was an untrue dig on the end of the apology. "Fine Dean, forget about it, just please try and control your anger next time."
"Yeah sure Joey, so are we friends?"
"I don't know, are we?"
"Yeah we are, but just stop dropping these bombshells on me."
"What bombshells…and don't talk to me about bombshells, I just found out the other day you got screwed by your brother." I sighed. "Shit look, I didn't mean that, just…look, fuck Dean, let's just try and support each other through things ok."
"Yeah right, whatever, I'll see you at school." He hung up on me. I wasn't surprised. But, at least maybe, just maybe, he had seen he was out of order.
Downstairs in the cellar I was pulling out a couple of empties from the cooling room. I rolled them out one by one to the drop-door, and stood them back up. A new real ale had been delivered today. It was called Jerico X, Apparently, according to the leaflet it had a woody taste and was five point two per cent strength. We called these guest ales, as they were not permanently available at the pub. We sourced guest ales from all over the country and they would change every two weeks with Jerico X being our latest. I put the leaflet down and moved the barrel to the ale rack and I started to get it ready for settling.
Unlike lagers, real ale had to stand for a minimum of sixteen hours to be at their best, this was partly because the hops were left inside the barrel and contained sediment which had to settle to the bottom before the ale could be pumped. Another difference was that real ales needed no gas as they worked by a vacuum system, which is also why they don't taste fizzy.
I took my rubber mallet and knocked a new tap in the end before setting the new barrel down. I then popped the plug in the side and replaced the hole with a cork, lifting the back up slightly to give the casket a slight tilt. As the previous guest ale had run out two days ago I took the line from the old barrel and placed it in a bucket of line cleaner I had made up earlier.
I went back upstairs to the bar and started to pull the cleaner through the line from the pump in the bar. I continued to pull until the liquid ran clear, before going back to the cellar and replaced the cleaner with plain water. returning to the bar I repeated the pumping process until I was satisfied just water remained in the pipe. I then had to take a test glass back down to 'my lab', as I called it, to ensure no line cleaner was present. I used a special hand held machine that had a spike on the end and placed it in the glass. The reading came up zero zero zero point one. In other words it was quite safe.
Walking back through to the cooling room I took the line from the bucket of water and attached it to the new barrel, and the setup was complete. Happy customers could now try the new Jerico which would be available tomorrow night.
Of all my chores in the pub, servicing the real ales was the one I didn't hate. The barrels were small and manoeuvrable and it was easy to do, none of the lifting, scrubbing, rolling and pulling, that most of the other jobs I had involved.
I checked the temperature in the room, recorded it on my flipchart, and shut the door, heading back upstairs to the bar. Christie had just started her shift when I got up there and she greeted me with a smile.
"Hey gorgeous, how are you?"
"Fine Chris, you must have just missed me, I was up here a minute ago."
"I just got in, so what you been up to?"
"Ah, you know, this and that…and here of course."
"Bless, hey I've been meaning to ask you, how was your holiday?"
"Seems like a life time ago, but yeah it was good, we had a lot of fun."
"Pick up any nice girls?" she asked. I blushed at the question, making her laugh.
"It wasn't really that type of holiday Chris, but I still had a really nice time, the villa was well classy."
"Aww, I'm glad. Oh, I met the new guy, Jack, he seems like a nice lad, you two getting on?"
"Yeah, it's hard not to with him, he's so laid back."
"Yeah he seems that way, very good looking too, shame, I'm old enough to be his mother," she said laughing again.
"I don't think you would be his type Chris," I remarked grinning.
"Oh thanks Joey, lovely of you to say."
"Oh…erm no, sorry I didn't mean it like that, what I mean is he's gay."
"Really? Wow, my gaydar must be broken, I would never have guessed."
"Yeah, he's been out for a while. If you spend enough time with him, there are little things you can pick up, but yeah I agree with you, it's not obvious."
"Oops, better go, that customer up the end looks a bit fidgety."
"Yeah I'll let you get on, don't wanna get you in trouble."
"See ya gorgeous," She said, giving me a little wave with her fingers. I left the bar and went back up to the apartment.
I slowly opened my eyes from a dream I'd been having, it was still pitch black. I fumbled around for my cell on the floor before realising it was still on my desk. Getting out of bed I switched on the small lamp beside my bed and looked at the clock on the wall. It was three AM and I was suddenly wide awake.
I pulled on my door and opened it before heading to the bathroom. Perhaps that's what woke me up, as I did need to go quite badly. I had gone to bed pretty early unusually, and now I knew it was gonna be impossible to get back to sleep. The apartment was hot and stuffy as it was still the height of summer and as I finished peeing, my first action when I got back to my room was to open my window…wide.
I pushed it open and leaned out sucking in the cool air through my nose. It never ceased to amaze me how alive London stayed whatever the hour was. Like right now, at three AM, there are cars queuing at the lights, enough people still on the sidewalks to make them move out the way of each other and a few people still eating in restaurants that surrounded the area. They were mostly Indian and Chinese, but there was a McDonald's just down the street that was open all night.
I listened as a young couple, obviously in love walked alongside the pub beneath me chatted about their upcoming wedding. They kissed every so often and it made me feel a little envious that they had each other. I know what you're thinking…I have plenty of time to have that, but I have felt for a while now, how nice it would be to wake up with someone you love. The only one I have to spend the pleasures of life with is my right hand. Yeah I'm young, but I feel older than my years…at least intellectually. I was just like Shaun in that respect, where as Dean was trailing behind, but that never mattered. Now Jack…he was on my level, and I felt like I could chat with him for hours.
I pulled myself back from the window and got into bed, sufficiently cooled. I laid there with the covers just round my ankles and gently played with myself. I wasn't expecting an erection because it wasn't one of those kinds of plays. You know how sometimes you just sit there with your hand down your pants for something to do, well I was just doing that, but nonetheless, my cock came to attention. I was in two minds to rub one out, but was still having waking nightmares about my mum catching me again.
I did it anyway!
I walked into school catching up with Shaun on the way to my locker. "Hey buddy how 's it4 hanging?" he asked grabbing my neck and pulling me into him as we walked.
"Yeah fine thanks." I said, sighing.
"Ok what's up?"
"Hmm, the pub, school, Jack, Parents, Dean…"
"Bingo," I blurted, stopping him.
"Anything new? or just Dean being Dean."
"I'll tell you at later."
"Sure thing… hey have you seen Jack?"
"No why?" I asked, looking at him curiously.
"You've been just wondering about him a lot lately, what's going on with you, are you like, into him or something?"
"Pfft, don't be stupid," he said, laughing my comment off. I didn't know what to think of that answer, but I knew Shaun, and there was something suspicious going on.
"So why do you keep asking about him, I didn't know you two had become such good friends all of the sudden."
"We better go, don't wanna be late," He replied, totally avoiding my question.
"Shaun?" It was too late, he had already walked off. I was getting fucking tired of this. I made a mental note to find Jack, get him on his own and find out what the hell was going on between those two.
I got to my locker and took out my books for today's lessons before slamming it shut and banging my forehead on the door in frustration. Walking to Geography I ran into Toby, a guy I used to run with until I moved away. Fucking unreal!
"Hey JC, how goes it."
"Tobe, fucking hell, good to see you man, you moved schools…I mean what the fuck are you doing here?"
"No I just came here for the day," he said, giggling. "Of course I've moved schools. I was planning to look you up, but I see that won't be necessary, hey are you still running?"
"Naa, Not since the rents brought the pub, they keep me too busy. Listen, I gotta run, but we must catch up yeah…you need to tell me what you're doing here."
"You bet we will, it's so good to see you, I'm sorry we didn't stay in touch."
"Yeah me too, hey, push your cell number into my locker, its number one zero five seven."
"Cool, sure thing JC, enjoy you're class," he sniggered, before waving and heading away from me. I looked back in awe, not believing he was actually here.
Walking through the door to my class, I went to the back and found my usual seat. Since I had no real friends in Geography I sat next to a girl called Hayley, but we hardly spoke to each other.
"Quiet down people," The teacher shouted as he came into the room, plonking his bag down the desk. "Quiet!" he shouted again, and the room faded to a gentle mumble. He went and sat at his desk and started roll call, before asking us to take out our text books.
"Turn to page three four two of your books, today we are going to have a discussion on…"
That's was all I heard before drifting off into my thoughts. Before I knew it was the end of the lesson and I had somehow written two pages of text in my book.
The bell went for lunch and I headed to Jack's locker and waited. He normally came past to put his morning books away to lighten his bag, unlike me who just dumped my books at the end of the day. It was handy that he did that, at least it was easier to find him if I needed to. Sure enough I saw him walking towards me…with Shaun.
"Hey Joey, you waiting for me?" he asked, as if it wasn't obvious. I nodded and then looked at Shaun, in a way that was just enough to let him know I was slightly suspicious.
I was pissed now because I needed to get rid of Shaun to find out from Jack what was going on with Shaun. I was certain that whatever it was had something to do with him and I was determined to get to the bottom of it.
"So are the three of us going to the cafeteria," Jack asked, looking at us both.
"Actually, I wanted to talk to you Jack, it's about work."
"Oh my god, am I fired?" He said, his eyes wide.
"No don't be stupid, it's uh…its just about some new stuff we need to do." I said, seeing his shoulders relax. Shaun just stood there and I realised this wasn't working.
"Well can we talk while walking, I'm starving," Jack said, starting to head off. Shaun and I both followed and I was getting more and more annoyed, clenching my fists as I walked.
"Are you ok?" Shaun asked, obviously noticing my posture.
"Fine Shaun, how come you're with Jack again, didn't you have Science?"
"Yeah, but the teacher let us go a little early for lunch."
What a cheap fucking lie, I thought. In all the years I had been going to school, not one fucking teacher ever let us go early; in fact it was often the case we got out late. I just looked at him like he was crazy and carried on walking. He knew I was starting to ask more questions about his time with Jack, and he was feeling the heat. He would crack soon, that's just Shaun.
Plan B. "Listen, don't worry about the chat regarding the pub, I don't wanna bore you through lunch, why don't you come by later after school."
"Yeah sure Joey, be glad to." He replied. I looked at Shaun out of the corner of my eye, he looked slightly uncomfortable. We walked into the cafeteria and grabbed our trays, moving along the rail as the dinner ladies asked us what we would like before putting it on a plate.
"Hey, I saw Toby today Joey, did you know he was coming here?"
"Yeah I saw him too, it was like seeing a ghost, and no, I didn't"
"Yeah I'll bet, so you'll be spending some time with him."
"I'll probably catch up with him at some point, yeah," I replied, uncommitted.
"Toby?" Jack remarked.
"An old friend I used to go running with after school."
"Hmm, a runner… sounds hot."
"Oh Jack, you're so shallow," I laughed.
"Don't worry I'm holding a candle for someone else anyway."
"Oh? Who's that then?" Shaun asked, casually.
"I couldn't possibly tell you, it's a secret."
The answer looked to slightly irritate Shaun, while I smiled to myself knowing exactly who the person was.
"What's up Shaun, don't like little secrets?"
"No not really." He replied, shrugging.
"No, me neither," I remarked, shooting him a knowing look, and then winking.
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