Bees, Red Admirals, Ants and Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Quantum Physics

by Andrew Foote

Chapter 3

For me, life began to take on a completely different and thoroughly enjoyable perspective. For his part, Gabriel relished every opportunity to push me along the road of, as he liked to phrase it, finally nailing the bastard's bollocks to a fence post.

Oh, there were hiccup's along the way, - there had to be, but for the first time that I could remember, I was able to touch living, human tissue without foaming at the mouth in terror, like the time I went and delivered a copy of The Spectator magazine rather than The Economist.

Now, that was awful!

You see, I'd never bothered to take note of each individual collection of newspapers I delivered to each individual household. That, I assumed was Mr Carruthers' responsibility. He owned the shop, he made up the rounds, therefore it was he who carried the can if it all went tits-up. But that particular morning, however, the gods had definitely conspired against me.

I had delivered what turned out to be an incorrect order to the right address, that being 76 Arborfield Road, Sonning, Berkshire RG12 7PP (not that the full address and postcode is written on any newspaper I delivered, because Arborfield Road Sonning is the only road I deliver to on this particular round, - see?)

Anyway, Mr Mason, my customer, the one who resides at number seventy-six Arborfield Road, Sonning, was rather of the mind that I should return the unwanted copy of The Spectator magazine from whence it came, but despite repeating a number of times, that it wasn't my responsibility to do anything of the sort, and how it was seriously beyond my paygrade to imply to Mr Carruthers that he was perhaps not the type of individual to hold down such a mega and überly-highpowed position as the owner and proprietor of a busy newsagents shop, he grabbed my wrist and attempted to shove s aid Spectator magazine into my hand.

Glowering at me.

All the time.

With malice-aforethought.

At least, I thought he was, you know, glowering all the time complete with malice-aforethought, when actually, I found myself distracted, and my time was otherwise taken up wondering about how best to deal with the brain haemorrhage I thought I was having.

I got a ticking off from Mr Carruthers, because it turned out that between the time after I'd fled the immediate area of conflict and subsequently returning some minutes later to rescue my bike, Mr Mason had phoned the shop to cancel his paper order.

I had thought about not doing a paper round the following day (Sunday), in the belief that it might be wise to let the dust settle for the day, and maybe normal service could be resumed safely by Monday. Mr Carruthers was having none of it, and then went on to say that Mr Mason was a sad old piece of horse shit and The Spectator mag was a far better read than ever The Economist was, so hence, he believed, my actions were entirely justified.

Billy Makepeace, another paperboy, (nice enough kid and a right laugh but not my type), told me that it might've been better if I'd simply told him to fuck off and leg it away from the scene of the crime a touch sharpish.

I could see his point.

Having showered and broken fast, I called Gabriel, but my call went straight to voicemail.

An hour later, and I tried again, but with the same result.

Half an hour on, and with no answer, I gave up.

Another hour on, but this time it was Gabriel who called me.

"Where on earth have you been? I was starting to think you might have dumped me?"

"Sorry, I thought I'd told you. Confirmation classes are held following the church service."

"What are those all about?"

"Being confirmed is a ritual or service that, as a Catholic, I have to go through before I'm accepted as a full church member."

"And they have to teach that stuff?"

" They think so, yeah, but most of it was covered over the ye ars by Sunday school. I really don't know why they bother to be honest?"

"Okay, so let me get this straight. Being confirmed is like the Catholic's version of Bar Mitzvah then."

"Err…… I guess? You're not Jewish, are you? Not that it matters. I'd probably like you anyway!"

"Gabriel? Do I look Jewish?"

"You might do if I knew what a Jewish boy looked like, yeah?"

"Tackle department. Jewish boys are cut. Their foreskins get sliced off at birth!"

"Ouch! Poor sods. Don't ever introduce me to a Jewish boy, because no matter how cute he is, either my eyes will water or I'll end up giving him a hug and telling him how sad I feel for him. Perhaps both."

"I have mates at school who are Jewish, and they don't seem to give a damn one way or the other. Maybe it's like, what they've never had, they don't miss."

"Maybe. Listen. I called you for two reasons. The first being, what you up to for the rest of the day, and the other, to ask you if you'd come to my confirmation on Thursday evening."

"Answer one? I did phone earlier to ask if you wanted to hang out together, go to the pool, or just…… do something else. As for this confirmation gig, what happens there, where does it happen and when exactly."

"Nice! Hanging out sounds like a plan. Meet at the pool then decide what to do. Oh, and the confirmation. It's like a church service, but one where us kids who attended confirmation classes get blessed by the Bishop. After that, because we've been accepted into the church as full members, we take our first ever Holy Communion, right? Oh, and there's a party afterwards. You'll probably be that bored that all you wanna do is take a nap, but for me, please will you come?"

"I'll come for you…… I mean, I'll be there for you!"

"Ha-ha! Thanks! How well do you know the village of Hainswick?"

"I know where it is."

"Good enough. The Church of St Mary and All Saints at six-thirty, and wear something smart or smart / casual rather than Speedos and flip-flops."

"Are you telling me that my Sunday Sp eedos aren't good enough for you?"

"For me, they'd be perfect, but I can't vouch for the Bishop. You never know, he might be more into swimming shorts!"

"I won't let the side down, I promise. I'll be in collar and tie, a nice suit and black leather shoes.

One…… two last questions. What time today, and where should I sit in church."

"Just as soon as you can, and either I wait for you, or you wait for me. And if you can get to the church fifteen minutes before the start of the service, I'll introduce you to my parents. You can sit with them."

"Dad? Would it be alright if I went out somewhere on Thursday evening?"

"That all depends on where you want to go, and why?"

"See…… I've made friends with this boy. I met him at King's Croft Pool. He's really nice, you'd like him and stuff. But he's asked me over to Hainswick for the evening, yeah? You know, like this Thursday?"

"Oh, I see. Boyfriend material, is he?"

"Dad! He's really nice, and……"

"So you keep saying."

"Yeah. Well. If you'd let me get a word in edgeways, maybe you'd understand."

"I think I do understand, Rhys . There's no need to spell it out to me, you know?"

"This time I think I'll have to. His name is Gabriel and he's just a couple of months younger than me. He's great, and he's helping me with my Haphephobia, so like I'm sort of there with this shaking hands thing."

"Really? A thirteen year-old boy has done more to help you than almost ten thousand pounds worth of Psychoanalysts? Sounds as if he's quite a catch!"

"Look! He's getting confirmed Thursday evening, and he's asked if I'd like to go to the service! Why is it that you just assume that all I'm trying to, I don't know, is get off with every boy I come across! Just because I'm a gay kid, doesn't mean I'm a slut?"

"No, it doesn't, and I apologise. Yes, of course you can go, and, I'll drop you over. Getting you home might be a challenge as we're expecting to take delivery of a vintage Pontiac, but whatever. If I'm unable to collect you, I'll give you enough cash so you can call for a taxi.

Want to shake on the deal?!"

Sunday afternoon, and the pool rocked!

We changed together and used the same locker. Not through any pervy reasons, like allowing our clothes to have sex with each other, in the dark, and out of sight, but more because they were in great demand. I mean, seriously now. I'd never seen the place so heaving with talent!

Taking up our now normal pose, like belly-down on our towels in case of disturbances from below, we fell into conversation.

"I never saw you as being the religious type, so are you excited about being confirmed?"

"I'm not religious. I'm doing this to please mum and dad as much as anything. Thing is, I don't get how it connects with the world we live in. Chanting, throwing smelly, might even be carcinogenic, maybe even hallucinogenic smoke around the place, the clergy dressed up like they'd just dropped in for a quick cup of tea and a chat on their way back to the thirteenth century, might make for good box office revenue, but it's hardly believable, is it? I'm more inclined to go with Mr Gordon and his theories. At least they make some sense."

"Not having anything to compare it with, means I'm not in the best position to make a judgement call."

"Then what you'll have to do, if you can bring yourself to concentrate, is listen carefully to everything going on during the service. Listen to the prayers, see if you can figure out the meaning behind the hymns, the lessons, and the readings from the gospels, then decide which of the two, - Catholicism or The World According to a Whacko, makes for a better understanding of life."

"I could try I suppose. Yeah! It might be fun! Thing is, aside from the odd wedding or two, I've never been to church. I'm not sure if that's because no-one in our family thought it important to seek enlightenment, or whether it was that Sunday was the one day of the week where Dad had the space to get the business accounts straight."

"That's interesting. See, my par ents almost never go to church, but every Sunday morning, regular as clockwork, I'd be packed off to Sunday School. Then once I was older, they'd pack me off to church. I mean, there I was, dressed in my Sunday finest, trotting along to wherever, in the fervent hope I'd find Jesus, yet they, hadn't even bothered to get dressed!"

"Look, I might only be thirteen, but even I know why that was?"

"Do you?"

"Yeah! Talk about obvious? How long were you out of the house for?"

"Fifteen minutes either way followed by an hour for the service, so one and a half hours, give or take."

"Well, there you go then! An empty house for an hour and a half is plenty enough time to like, get it on!"

"What? I mean no! Don't be disgusting! That really doesn't bear thinking about!"

"So, what do you think you are then? The Immaculate Conception or something?"

"Yeah! I mean, NO! Deep down, I realise that they must've…… at some point…… Oh God…… you know…… done it? I just don't want to imagine it!"

"I think it's rather sweet! After all those years? Like, your mum and dad? Still in love?"

"Well, if I'm ever going to be able to look them in the eye, like ever again? That's the way I'm going to have to process it!"

We lapsed into a silence for a while. This was due, as much as anything, to me and by big mouth having shattered Gabriel's illusions concerning his parent's Sunday morning activities.

I concluded that perhaps watching boys playing around down at the shallow end was, by and large, safer territory, and maybe it might be wise to keep my thoughts to myself, at least for a while.

I detached my eyes from the sight of a rather cute kid wearing black swimming trunks containing what could only be described as The Bum From God , and looked across instead to see Gabriel laying with his arms crossed under his chin as he watched the same two men as always, ploughing their way up and down the pool.

I sneaked my left hand across and placed on top of his right, feeling his soft, warm skin, almost as if I were able to feel his suntan.

He looked up at me and smiled.

"Those two men over there, the two going up and down the pool. The one in the front of the queue just smiled at us, like a real smile. Do you reckon he was like, hitting on me?"

"No, I wouldn't have thought so. They're always here. Always doing lengths, and they've never come on to me before, so maybe he was just being friendly. No law against that, so far as I'm aware?"

"No. It's not right though. I mean, is it? Not so much for us, but for them. All this talk about stranger-danger and whatever else, kind of takes away their fun."

"Meaning what exactly?"

"Meaning, it's perfectly okay for us to lay here and watch boys, all the while having seriously impure thoughts, but just as soon as someone their age takes a peek, it's wrong, and they could find themselves in all sorts of trouble."

"Let them look, I say. If they get their jollies by looking at me, why should I care? Bring it on even!"

"But what if he did come on to you? What then?"

"That's different, because while I might understand why he'd want to, it wouldn't be right. Same as if I came on to one of those kids down there. He, like that one in the black trunks with an arse like two ripe melons, might well see me salivating over him. He might even appreciate me looking, perhaps he might give me a grin back knowing I liked what I saw, but if I tried to chat him up, he'd like, run the one-minute mile out of here."

"Hmm…… yeah! He does have a nice bum, doesn't he!"

"Yeah, he does, but there's an even sexier one, and nearer to home!"

"Is there? Point him out! Point him out!"

" This, is my idea of the world's perfect bum."

I lifted my hand and traced a line down his back, - hovered next to the waistband of his Speedos, then going for broke, I reverently stroked perfection.

"Oh, sweet Jesus, that feels good!"

I smiled at him. I couldn't have put it better if I'd tried.

"You can have no idea how good, Gabriel. Never in a million years!"

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