An Overheard Conversation

by Ivor Slipper

Chapter 5

It was strange how the time when we were cycling home after school had become a time for significant conversations between us. However, there wasn't any real opportunity to talk at school, especially now our lunch break was no longer solitary. It did give us a chance to talk about things without the possibility of being overheard, or indeed giving my parents the idea that we were keeping secrets from them.

"Ethan, I think you need to tell your father about the conversation Willy overheard."

"Yeah, I've been thinking about that. I'm sure if most of the staff are looking for us to take a tiny step out of line it won't be long before they find something. But I don't want him to go charging in there now as that'll only make things worse."

"You're willing to get your butt busted then?"

"Willing perhaps; keen to, definitely not." I felt that twitch in my butt cheeks again. "But I don't see what we can do unless he either decides to paddle us for something for which he isn't allowed to, or he starts picking on us two."

"Sounds like he already is picking on us."

"Yeah, maybe. But there's no proof. Only an overheard conversation which we can't quote and which they'd deny ever happened anyway. Plus, if we did quote that, it would put Willy in his sights too."

I waited until after we'd had dinner before I told my parents that we wanted to have a talk with them. I saw mom and dad exchange glances and it occurred to me that perhaps they thought we wanted to talk about our relationship. That wasn't on the agenda tonight, but might be at some future point.

We moved into the family room, got comfortable and I relayed to them what Willy had overheard. After I finished my dad sat there for a couple of minutes thinking over what I'd said.

"Ethan, I'm beginning to wish I'd never taken the transfer I was offered and moved us here from California."

"Don't say that, Dad," I said loudly.

He smiled. "I don't really mean that, son, but it would have avoided this situation. The obvious option would be to take you out of that school and move you to another one, even a private one."

I hardly let him finish, before I said loudly. "That's not going to happen, Dad. I won't let you do that and leave Wayne on his own there to face the music. If you move me you'll have to move Wayne too." We were sitting next to each other on the settee and as I finished that sentence I, without thinking, stretched out my right hand to hold his left.

"Ethan, moving Wayne would be almost impossible as he isn't our son. We know you've become very good friends in a remarkably short time, but it's you we have to worry about."

"You can't do it. I won't let you!" I almost shouted in response. "Say something Wayne."

He looked surprised at being drawn directly into the conversation, but then said, "It's true I've only known Ethan a short while and perhaps he's the only real friend I've ever known. But, I survived before I knew him and I expect I'd do so again if I had to."

"Ain't gonna happen, Wayne. We're in this together. It was me who came up with the cleaver idea of getting our hair cut like this," I took my hand off his and ran it across his hair instead, before placing it back again. "If I hadn't suggested that, you'd just have had a normal cut and there would have been no consequences."

"So, what do you suggest Ethan," my father asked.

I took a deep breath before replying, "From tomorrow I start going to school in jeans, that's what."

I heard my mom gasp and saw her hand go to her mouth.

"Sorry, mom but I have to do this. At some point, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe next month, I'm gonna find out what it feels like to have my butt paddled. I'm not looking forward to it having seen Wayne's butt, but I sure ain't gonna let him do it to me when I'm wearing just a pair of shorts. Oh, and you'd better get some more of that cream, just in case."

I saw both my parents smile slightly at my last comment and now started to believe I was going to get my way on this. We discussed the matter further, but in the end it was agreed that there would be no more talk of moving me to another school, but that I needed to tell my father as and when anything happened. He'd then check to ensure it was done in accordance with the school rules, adding that if it wasn't he'd raise merry hell with the school board.

I couldn't remember the last time I'd gone to school in jeans. Where we lived in California the weather was rarely cold enough to make it necessary. Thus it did feel odd cycling to school the next morning. I also missed seeing Wayne's brown legs pedalling alongside me.

One of the announcements Mr Reynolds made during home-room was that trials for the swim team would take place after school on Friday. I'd been in the swim team at my old school and from our times in the pool in my garden I knew that Wayne was quite a good swimmer too. I'd asked him once where he'd learned and he'd told me that when he was younger his father used to often take him to a nearby lake and that was how he'd learned. Thus when we were at lunch I suggested to him that he should come with me to the trials. His response was to the effect that they wouldn't want any breed in the team. I found that impossible to believe so told him we were both going – no excuses would be accepted. I also told Coach when we were doing PE as our last lesson of the day, that we'd both be coming to the trials tomorrow.

School passed without any problems, apart from feeling hot wearing a pair of jeans all day. It was strange how thoughts often occurred to me while cycling home after school and today it happened again.

"Wayne, it's none of my business I know, but you said your father had been in prison for what, three years now. When was the last time you visited him?"

He stopped his bike, turned and looked at me. "The last time I saw him was when he was sentenced in court."

"What! You've never seen him since?"

"No. My mom went a few times at first, but she wouldn't take me with her. Said it wouldn't be good for me to see him there. After a while she went less and less and then stopped going altogether."

"What about your grandparents. Do they go?"

He shrugged. "They've got no transport, so can't get there."

"But you do hear from him?"

"Yeah, I get a little letter every now and again and I write back, but there's not much to say. I can't tell him what's going on with mom. I have to make out everything's normal, although I expect he knows it's not."

The more I found out about Wayne, the more I realized how tough his life was compared to mine.

"Would you like to visit him?"

"Course I would, but it won't happen until I can drive in a couple of years and perhaps by then he'll be out anyway."

"What if my father would take you?"

I saw his mouth drop open in surprise and a moment later his right hand went up to rub his eye. "Why would he do that for me?"

"Because you're my friend and I asked him."

"Ethan, I don't deserve you. I can't ever pay you back for all you've done."

"You can start when we get home by rubbing some of that cream on my butt." I replied with a laugh.

"Race you there!" he answered and started pedalling.

The first time you experience something is always special, but having Wayne's fingers rub that cream into my butt felt virtually as good the second time. The only real difference was that this time when he finished he delivered a stinging slap to it.

"Ouch! What was that for?"

There was a gleam in his eyes as he said, "Thought I'd better start getting you prepared for a paddling."

"You asshole!" I responded as I rolled over and pulled him down onto the bed. We were of course naked, apart from our socks and as his hands were a bit slippery with the cream, I did have a slight advantage. We were both of similar height and build; I had muscles from swimming and other sports I played while his had almost certainly come from physical work. But we were a good match for each other and we rolled around on the bed for a while, both laughing and enjoying ourselves until I managed to pin his shoulders and back to the bed. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the tube with the cream, reached out, grabbed it with one hand and slid down the bed to expose his dick.

"Ethan, you don't have to..."

"Thought I'd best check I didn't break it yesterday," I said giggling.

"Oh, it was working earlier," Wayne replied. I gave him a puzzled look and he started to laugh, "No, I haven't jacked off in the toilets. I meant its usual use."

"So it still needs testing?" By now we were both giggling like a couple of naughty schoolboys but that soon stopped when I squeezed some of the cream onto my fingers and started to gently rub it on his dick. Today he lasted a lot longer before he came, but he still produced a lot. He wanted to return the favor and I wasn't going to object, so we swapped places while he brought me to an enjoyable end.

We ended up sitting in the family room again after dinner. I'd told my parents while we were eating that I had something important we needed to discuss. My father had asked if I'd been summoned for a paddling already, but I quickly assured him that wasn't going to be the topic of conversation.

Once we'd settled down in the same places as the previous night, I made a point of taking hold of Wayne's hand before I started speaking. My parents both noticed and I saw the glance that passed between them. On my mom's face I though I could detect a faint trace of a smile.

"Dad, Mom, I don't believe I've told you that Wayne's father is in prison." Nothing like jumping in the deep end I though to myself as I said those words.

"Ethan, I suspect that is one of many things about Wayne that you've not told us, but unless he is there for murdering someone, I doubt it will make any difference to us and how we view him and your friendship with him," said my father.

"No, it's not for that, but I'd best let Wayne explain."

He hadn't expected me to say that. I was sure he'd thought I was going to relate the story, but I'd decided it was right my parents heard it in his own words. I tightened my grip on his hand, leaned over and whispered in his ear 'You've got this.' He turned and smiled at me, mouthing, 'Here's goes nothing...' He then proceeded to tell them what he'd told me earlier. When he'd finished my father asked a few questions to try and find out some more details of exactly where the fight took place, how is started and how badly the other men were injured.

After he'd finished with his questions and Wayne had answered those he could, he said, "Thanks for telling us, Wayne. It can't have been easy for you to tell us that. From what you've said it sounds as if your father got a rough deal."

"Our sort always do," Wayne said in a scathing tone.

"I'm starting to see that Wayne. Things seem to be very different here in Texas to what they are in California."

"Dad," I put in, "Wayne has never seen his father since he went to prison. That's about three years now."

"What!! How could that happen?"

Wayne explained, telling them what he'd told me earlier.

"But you want to see him?" Wayne nodded. "And no doubt your grandparents want to see their son?" Wayne nodded again.

My dad walked across the room to where we were sat on the settee, knelt down, placed a hand on Wayne's knee, looked him in the face and said. "Son, I promise you that tomorrow morning I'm going to find out what needs to be done for you and them to visit him and when it can be done. At the first opportunity, I'm taking all of you to that prison. And I'll take you back as often as you want."

I knew my father and it was the sort of thing I'd hoped, no, expected, he would say. Even so I felt myself tearing up. Wayne just broke down and started crying. Next thing I knew my mom had come over, sat on the settee next to him and was hugging him to her chest.

When things had calmed down and my parents had returned to their chairs, Wayne used the bottom of his t-shirt to dry his eyes and wipe his face before speaking. "Mr Berenson, Mrs Berenson I soon realized how lucky I was the day Ethan came and talked to me. I know now where he gets his caring side from. I've never had any real friends, certainly no white friends. My sort are treated worse than trailer trash round here."

"Wayne," said my mom, "you're Ethan's friend. Whether you are white, black, brown, blue, yellow, green or any mixture of those, doesn't make any difference to us. You're welcome in this house as often and as long, as you want."

That almost started him crying again, but I think he was about cried out. Instead he leaned into me so I could put my arm round his shoulder and draw him closer. 'I don't believe what just happened' he whispered.

Although we both had mom's sandwiches we went to our usual table in the cafeteria to eat them. I did buy a soda for both myself and Wayne, plus one for Willy which I gave him when he arrived saying it was a small 'thank you' for what he'd told us the previous day.

As I did that, Jerry said, "I think you might need to buy me one every day next week."

Naturally that got my attention. "Why's that Jerry."

He sighed, "This could get me in trouble if it got out, but I like you two and I don't like what they've got planned for you."

"Who's 'they' and what have they got planned, Jerry?"

"My brother Lance is a senior and he's on the swim team. He has second lunch so he doesn't know that I've started to sit with you. If he did, he wouldn't have told me and if he finds out I told you, my life won't be worth living. He's bad enough as it is because he's the big jock and I'm the little nerd, but this..."

Luckily the others who had joined us for lunch today were down the far end of the tables we'd put together, so couldn't hear what was being said.

"Okay, I understand, Jerry. Anything you say won't go beyond us, I promise.

"Last night he was bragging to me that coach had told the swim team captain that you two – or as he termed it, the breed and his friend – were coming to the trials today. They'd agreed that provided your times weren't awful, you'd be told that you'd been accepted into the team and told to stay once the trials were over. As soon as it was just the team, coach would conveniently disappear somewhere, and you'd be told that there was a little initiation test you had to pass – a bit like joining a frat."

"Those fuckin' assholes," whispered Wayne. "I can almost guess what sort of initiation it would be."

Jerry grinned. "They're devious for sure. Not sure you know quite how devious though. You'd be told to swim another length and then when you got out of the water, they'll tell you the test is to have your butts paddled."

"Fuckin' assholes is spot on, Wayne. Either we agree to be paddled by them or if we refuse the word goes round that we wouldn't take the test, no doubt without saying what it was."

"I wonder if Jackson is behind this?" asked Wayne. "It sounds like the sort of scheme he'd dream up."

"I doubt if he's directly behind it, but you heard what Willy told us. He's asked other staff to look out for anything we do that can be referred to him. This is as good as that, better even, as he has nothing to do with it."

"So, what are you going to do?" asked Jerry.

"The only thing we can do, which is not go to the trials."

"How do we explain not turning up?" Wayne asked.

"Difficult at such short notice, but we aren't gonna get our wet butts busted by those dickheads. I'll go and find Coach now, tell him that Wayne has changed his mind and I didn't want to do it without him. Not very good I know. Probably start rumors flying about the pair of us, if they aren't already. If those do start at least it keeps Jerry well out of the picture. But, unless anyone else has a better idea..."

I stood up and then sat back down again. "Listen Jerry we owe you big time. We'd have walked into that trap like flies to a spider's web. Somehow we'll find a way to pay you back."

I stood up again and went to track down coach. I found him in his office. When I told him neither of us were coming to the trials and why, he looked disappointed. "That's a shame. I'm sure you'd be a big asset to the team."

I noticed the way he emphasised the 'you' when he spoke.

"Maybe there's something to the rumors I've been hearing about you two. Sorta stuck together these days. Hmm, I wonder what with..."

I was seething, but also concerned at what might happen if there were indeed such rumors and they spread widely. Based on what I'd witnessed of the local attitude to Wayne as a breed, I felt sure gays wouldn't be treated any better.

Luckily I managed to control my response. "We're not stuck, Coach. When I started at this school nobody made any attempt to be friendly with me, so I decided to try and make friends with the one kid who also seemed to be an outcast. We help make each others school day a bit more bearable. That's all."

Speech delivered, I turned and walked out of his office.

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