Love - Existentially

by John Teller

Part 23

Book Six - When Englishmen were boys

Cameron Begbie.

Sunday 4 pm. The journey back from Abingdon is an easy drive with not too much traffic on the road. Stuart's phone call to tell us that he wasn't going to leave home has been the highlight of our weekend and Anne wept when I told her what was happening. But the situation is becoming easier now we have two confidantes in the shape of Peter Shawcliffe and his partner John. They had been more than willing to house Stuart and Michael in the barn conversion at the rear of the house that they'd turned into a self-contained apartment. I'll need Peter's advice if the liaison becomes permanent, which I very much suspect it will. Stuart is like his mother: he rarely opens his heart to anyone, but when he does, he will take some shaking off. His mother was like that. It was she who orchestrated our love affair from the moment we met, and I can see Stuart doing exactly the same thing with himself and Michael. And Michael? Well, he's built of the same stuff. In fact, in some ways, Michael reminds me very much of me at his age, and I'm in no doubt that he loves Stuart as much as I loved Anne when first we met. Stuart has chosen well. Michael may come from a poor background, but he has great potential to be a someone. He's like an unpolished diamond, and the people he's gathering around him, or, to put it better, the people Stuart has manipulated around him, are skilled in the ways of life enough to do the polishing. The more I think about it, the more proud I am of our son.

I know where Michael and Alex live. I've made it my business in the past to drive past the place and get the layout of it, and I park the car by the front door. I look at Anne. "Are you ready for this?"

Anne tidies herself. "I'm nervous. I hope that dog doesn't bite."

I laugh. "Trotter hasn't got a bite in her. She might lick you to death."

I rap the elephant door knocker, and wait. I expected Michael or Alex to answer the door, but it's Stuart who opens it. His face is alight when he sees us, and, unusually, he goes into Anne's arms and hugs her. And then he gives me a hug. This love affair between him and Michael is changing our son from the non-tactile young man he used to be into one who is not ashamed to show his affections, and we now have an open invitation to invade his personal space.

The parlour, although tiny, is spotlessly clean and tidy and the smell of beeswax pervades the air. We go through the door that leads from the parlour to the small living room, and Alex is standing, waiting to greet us with his customary grin on his face. "Hey up Boss! Good to see you. Hello Mrs Begbie."

Michael is more reserved and shyly shakes my hand, and then kisses Anne on the cheek. "Hello. Take a seat." He beckons us to sit in the two easy chairs in front of the ancient, highly polished fire-grate.

Stuart settles himself, cross legged, on the home-made hearth rug in front of us and beams his best smile. "Did you have a good weekend?"

I grin at him. "It was fine. No grumpy kids around. Bliss, eh, Darling?"

Anne laughs and leans right forward to ruffle Stuart's hair. "You spoiled my weekend. I've spotted a lovely house we could live in, but your Father says we won't be leaving now. I wish you'd make up your mind!"

Stuart screws up his nose in the lovely way that's a sign that he's amused. He points at Alex. "Blame it on that bully, Mother. Would you like to meet Trotter?"

Anne looks alarmed. "Will it bite me?"

Michael laughs. "No, Mrs Begbie, but she might jump on you."

The discussion comes to an abrupt halt as Alex opens the back door and Trotter comes tearing into the room, her little bottom wriggling and her stunted tail wagging like mad. She dives on Stuart who falls over backwards, and she licks his face as if she hasn't seen him for months. Stuart is giggling, and so are Alex and Michael. The more Stuart tries to fight her off, the more excited Trotter becomes, and soon, Stuart is laughing fit to burst as she burrows her nose under his arms that are protecting his face. Anne is laughing, too, and so am I.

Michael comes to the rescue; he picks up Trotter and cradles her in his arms. Stuart, still giggling, sorts himself out. I look at my son and my heart is filled with love for our boy who has discovered this whole new world of a different kind of happiness, and whatever tiny, niggling doubts I had in my mind, now vanish completely. Our son has found his true place in life, and it happens to be with a man he loves from a disadvantaged background. Damn fine job, too.

Michael and Alex become background figures as Stuart makes us at ease in the house. He teases Anne by picking the dog up and trying to put it on her knee, but she recoils, yelling; "It will get hairs all over me!"

Without asking permission, he opens the china cabinet and takes out Mr Johnson's medals, and proudly gives them to us, proclaiming that; "These are Dada's Medals." That single statement makes me realize that this is now, in Stuart's eyes, his new home and Michael and Alex are his new family. Strangely, I'm not jealous. In fact, it puts me at ease. He is still very young for us to be losing him, but I know that our acceptance of his sexuality means we will never lose him. Anne and I are his mother and father, and although a little premature, as it should be, we are taking our rightful place in his life: we are his parents who he loves, and who he will always love if we treat him properly, but parents who he will gradually leave behind as he makes his way through life.

It's six o' clock when we take our leave, but we are without our son. During our conversation, I suggested that he might like to spend a few more days with Alex and Michael if they didn't mind putting up with him.

I laughed at Alex's response. "No! Take him away! He makes my life a bloody misery here!"

I laughed more at Stuart's retort. "You can always go and stay somewhere else if you don't like it!"

Alex pointed a finger at him. "Don't expect me to do your washing for you!"

Stuart licked his tongue out. "Michael will do it, won't you Michael?"

Michael laughed and then said, "Leave me out of it! I don't get any peace and quiet with you two bickering at each other. The only sane ones in this house are me and Trotter! Leave it off, will you!"

Stuart pulled a face at Michael. "Right! I'll go home then!"

Michael shrugged his shoulders. "Please yourself. Trotter and I won't miss you, will we Girl?"

Stuart decided to stay and I would drop him off some more clothes tomorrow.

Anne looks at me as I drive through the city. "Are you sure it's a good idea for him to stay the week?"

I take her hand. "It will make life for you and me easier in the long term. He's going to be difficult to deal with when Michael goes to Oxford. The least we can do is to grant them a few days together before the enforced absence. I wish our parents had been as considerate as we are being. It wasn't pleasant being away from you back in the old days."

Anne squeezes my hand. "No it wasn't. You're quite right; it was awful."

Stuart Begbie.

Alex yells at me. "Don't you dare let it go!"

I'm giggling as I cling to the ladder, struggling to hold the last asbestos corrugated roof sheet firmly in place as Alex hammers the nail to secure it. I grin at him. "Is that it?"

He smirks at me. "That's it, Lover Boy. One garage almost completed and fit for your Alex's new Land Rover. Just the doors to fit now. Let's hope you and Kiddo got your dimensions right!" He points a finger at me. "God help you both if you didn't!"

Michael, naked from the waist up, as are both Alex and I, is leaning against the Land Rover parked in the backs, drinking the last dregs of his mug of tea. He looks up at me and grins, and then winks. "You've done a mighty fine job there Boy!"

Although his words are said in jest, I accept them as a great compliment. All week we've been building the garage. Just Michael and me during the daytime, and then all three of us when Alex came home, working late into the evening to get the job done while the weather is warm and fine. I can't recall doing anything so rewarding. Bit by bit, from the concrete foundations Michael and I laid on Monday, the garage had begun to take shape. I've never worked so hard, and my hands and fingers are cut and sore.

Mother and Father called a couple of times during the week and I proudly showed them what we were doing. Mother was alarmed at first, but Father pooh-poohed her comments that a young boy my age shouldn't be doing such heavy work. 'Good for his character', Father had said.

But it was tiring work, and Michael spent the week giggling that I could only do our special loving at half speed, and on Wednesday, I even fell asleep before we could do anything.

Michael amazes me. Not only can he do what I want when we go to bed, he makes it look easy when he's working on the garage, and he never misses his morning and evening run. I find it a great turn on when I'm kissing his body to know that it's capable of such stamina, and I begin to realize how he managed to beat everyone in England at cross-country. While we were working, we chatted, and he said he would love to try his hand at rowing and try to make the team for the Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities. I told him that he could do anything if he set his mind to it. In fact we talked about lots of things, but it was mostly about our future. Michael is enthusiastic about becoming a politician... and I'm just as keen to join Father's company when I've finished university. I'm most pleased he hasn't made a song and dance about using my family's wealth to create the first rungs to our success; a far cry from the shy, proud young man who refused to accept my offer to pay the fees if we joined a cycling club. It's as if our 'betrothal' by the school railings has changed his thinking.

Also during the week I've met many of the members of this small community. It's not like being at home. I know the people on the left of us are named Purcell, but apart from them, I don't know any of the people who live near us. It isn't like that here. Everybody knows everybody. In fact, almost everybody knows me by the end of the week. I'm 'Stuart; Alex's boss's son who is spending the week with us because he fancies a bit of rough living and he's becoming part of the Johnson family'. Not one single person has questioned my presence. It's enough for them that Alex or Michael say it so matter of fact, so why should they not believe them? What is there to hide? I'm taken at face value: a rich kid slumming it because his dad says getting to know how the other half live is good for the soul. Mrs Friar at the chip shop calls me 'Little Lord Fauntleroy', and the old man who lives across the other side of the backs, Mr Bennett, has shouted me a couple of times to go and get him a packet of Woodbines and a box of matches from the paper shop, and he's offered me a penny each time I go, which I refused and said it was a pleasure to help him. And then there's Mrs-Degg-with-curlers-in-her-hair, three doors down from Old Mr Bennett, who, together with Mrs-Riley-with-the-fat-legs who supplies us with lots of home-made lemonade and home-made egg custards, sit on chairs in the backs all day. Sitting with them is Mr Reynolds. He's blind, and half his face is scarred purple. He was the rear gunner in a Lancaster Bomber who only just made it back, and when he did, he was shot up and badly burned. He asked me to go close while he felt at my face. And then he said what a nice looking boy I was, and how lovely it was to meet me, and then I shook his hand firmly and told him that it was an honour to meet him. He nodded his head and said his sacrifice was not in vain if England produced wonderful, respectful young men like me. It's a good job he didn't feel my face after he said that, because I couldn't help tears escaping from my eyes.

Yes, it's been a wonderful week, and I think I've grown up more spending one week here than a year spent in my sheltered, isolated life at home. What's more, being here has educated me why Michael wants to be a politician. These people, although not wealthy, and the men enjoy a few pints of beer every day, are the backbone of our society. In just these two rows of back-to-back houses, the ethics of the working classes is tangible. There are miners who come home from the day shift just after lunch; and the steel workers who come home just after six in the evening; and the smells of cooking are almost constant. And then there are the kids; many with holes in their trouser backsides and shoes, but they are happy kids, and the grown-ups don't tell them off when they're kicking a ball about or when it goes into somebody's garden. The grown-ups just throw the ball back to them and they begin again. One little fellow, Henry Sawyer, who's about eight years old, is dead cute, and the most loving little boy I've ever met. He's sort of attached himself to me while we're working, and he treats me as if I'm a grown-up. But Henry is going to have problems in his life: he was born with one leg shorter than the other and he has to wear special shoes with big thick soles and heels to even up his stance.

Michael puts his empty mug on the bonnet of the Land Rover and heaves up one of the doors that are lying flat on the red-ash dirt of the backs. I go to him and we carry it across to the end of the garage where Alex is waiting for us. We place it into position; Alex slips a few screwdrivers and chisels under the door to keep it clear of the concrete base, and then screws the hinges into position while Michael and I hold it closed. When he's done, he removes the screwdrivers and chisels and swings the door open and shut. Michael heaves the other door up and we repeat the process... and the doors fit perfectly.

The three of us, all sweaty and dirty, go and lean back on the Land Rover and survey the finished product: one garage, hand built by Alexander Johnson, Michael Johnson, and Little Lord Fauntleroy Begbie. I'm in the middle, and Alex and Michael have their arms on my shoulders as we study the building. Suddenly, Alex begins to giggle. Michael and I look at him and wonder what he's giggling about. He doesn't tell us, but Alex's giggling, even though we don't know what he's giggling about, makes us giggle. And our giggles turn to laughter, and the laughter becomes hysterical, and when I look at Alex and see the tears rolling from his eyes, making streaks down his dirty face, which makes him look like a clown, I hold my crutch and dance around to stop me peeing myself.

Old Man Bennett is leaning on his gate, smoking a Woodbine, and he begins to laugh, and then he says, "You three are bloody nuts! What the bloody hell are you laughing at?"

Eventually, Alex manages to gurgle, "If Dada was here, he'd think we'd made him a new pigeon loft for his birthday."

And then it hits home to me. While Michael and I had been working before Alex came home, I'd noticed a couple of times during the day that his eyes were sort of misty. I didn't say anything because I thought he might be thinking the same things I'd been thinking; about us having to part soon. I look at Alex and ask, "When was his birthday?"

"It was today."

The laughter has gone now, and Michael walks off up the yard to the house. I look at Alex again, and he nods to me to go after him.

When I go into the house, Michael is in the kitchen, leaning over the sink, sobbing, and I realize that he's been holding all this in while we were working. I go to him and pull him away from the sink and bury myself in his arms, and he hugs me fit to burst, and I hug him as tight as I can to try and take away the hurt he's feeling. Eventually, he gathers himself and blows his nose on the tea cloth before smiling at me as he stares into my eyes. "Sorry," he says.

I pull his head down and kiss him softly on the lips, and ask, "Are you okay now?"

He grins a half grin. "Yes. I'm okay now. We'd better get cleaned up. Alex can put the tools away."

I grin at him. "Are you going to give me a bath?"

Michael's eyes are half closed as he stares into my eyes and gives me a silly look. "Yes. I'll give you a bath."

He puts his hand on my shoulder, and as we walk out of the kitchen, the grip on my shoulder becomes tighter as he leads me into the yard. Suddenly, I realize what is about to happen and I try to escape. But Michael is too strong for me, and he holds my waist in a vice-like grip as he yells for Alex to help him to give me a bath.

Alex comes up the yard with Trotter, and when he sees Michael unfurling the hose pipe, an evil grin crosses his face. "Just hold him Kiddo, and I'll do the business."

The 'business' is just a small matter of stripping me of my shorts and underpants and socks and pumps before Alex turns on the cold water to full blast, and Michael ignores the fact that he's also getting soaked as he lathers me up with the bar of soap Alex has fetched from the kitchen, and all the while they're scrubbing every single part of my body, including everything that is supposed be private, I'm screaming with laughter and Trotter is bouncing about like a rubber ball with excitement, and then she's yelping like a mad dog when Alex turns the hosepipe on her.

I've gone past the stage of trying to hide my modesty by the time they're finished and stand laughing at me while the water drips from me. But now it's time to get my own back. I snatch up the hosepipe and turn it on to full blast, and direct the jet of water at both of them. In their eagerness to get away from me, Alex slips on the soapy yard and falls down, and I give him the full works. He's stopped trying to get away now and just lies on the floor, laughing, as I wash him down, and then he gets up, strips off all his clothes and washes himself while I'm hosing him, and he even tells me to direct the hose at his genitalia after he's lathered them up.

When he's done, he looks down the yard at Michael, who is still laughing, and he crooks his finger at him. "Your turn now Kiddo!"

Reluctantly, Michael wanders up the yard, and by the time he's standing in front of me, I've already half drowned him. And then he surprises me. Without prompting, he drops his shorts and underpants, slips off his shoes and socks, and washes himself as I hose him down.

Old Man Bennett has been watching all this while he's leaning on 'our' gate, and he shouts up to me, "You've missed a bit, Stuart. Stick it up his arse!"

Michael doesn't wait for me, he turns, bends over, and from three feet away, I blast the crack of his bum, and after a while, I shout down to Old Man Bennett, "Will that do?"

He grins at me. "That's better."

Michael Johnson.

It's so warm that Stuart and I have just a single white cotton sheet over us as we lie in bed, side by side, kissing each other. When we'd dressed after the fun in the yard, and after we'd had a late fish and chip supper, Alex said he was going to the pub for a couple of pints, and he's not come back yet. I'm glad he hasn't, because Stuart and I have just spent a fantastic time satiating our lust. There's a permanent smile on his face as I stroke his hair and kiss his lips, and I ask him, "What are you grinning at?"

He giggles. "I'm not telling you."

I giggle and twist his cute nose. "Tell me!"

I feel Stuart's fingers trace down my back, and he sticks his fingers in my bum crease. "Stick it up his arse!"

I laugh. "Old Man Bennett will be giggling about that for weeks."

Stuart laughs. "I would have laughed more if he'd asked you to do it to me."

Now we're both laughing, and then our laughs turn to smiles, and then to kisses, and then to whisperings of sweet nothings, and then we both fall asleep in each other's arms on Dada's birthday.

Stuart Begbie.

Saturday night; our last night together. Alex went to North Wales this morning to supervise the assembly of a new machine in a slate quarry and he won't be back until tomorrow lunchtime. I'm lying on top of Michael and we're kissing as we lie naked in bed. He runs his hands through my hair and down my back to my buttocks, and pulls me to him. We've been making love for two hours, and I'm sexually sated. It's what Michael does for me.

The whole day has led up to our making love. Touches; knowing looks; sad smiles... a quiet evening sitting on his knee listening to the wireless and talking about how we'll cope being apart. Then Michael brought the tin bath into the living room, filled it with warm water and bathed me without bringing me to a sexual climax. I did the same for him, and then we went to bed.

When we first went to bed, I lay back listening to Michael talking to my body parts; kissing them; loving them, and then he was above me and his beautiful eyes were staring into my own. He kissed my tears away and our loving began; Michael's way; soft and long and gentle loving, and as wave after wave of sexual satisfaction surged through my body, I was transcended to a higher plane of devotion. Each climax was filled with the profound love I have for Michael. During our lovemaking, Michael climaxed three times, and at the peaks of our special moments, I wept.

I look down into Michael's eyes, and he stares into mine. No words, but our souls are communicating. It's what we do. It's why we're so special together. Our eyes have been the conduit to our love since the day of the Magic Cap. We can speak the words; we can do the touches, but neither of those things is as meaningful as when we look into each other's eyes.

Michael Johnson.

Stuart is above me, looking into my eyes. I love his eyes more than any other part of him. They bewitch me. The deep blue contrasts perfectly with the soft, downy, blond hair of his head and eyebrows. Only his long eyelashes are dark, and now, some are stuck together in places because of the many tears he's shed while we were making love. He lowers his head and brushes my lips with his, and then draws away to look some more into the depths of what I am. While I'm looking into his eyes, I stroke the softness of his small body above me. This is not sexual; this is love... pure homosexual love that is as beautiful as any other on this earth. Fate brought us together; two homosexuals who are destined for a lifetime together. Of that I'm sure. Tomorrow he is going back to his parents, and on the following day, Alex is taking me to Oxford. Stuart and I will be apart in body, but spiritually we will always be together.

My hands reach his soft, round buttocks, and I squeeze them gently. He smiles. I run my fingernails up his spine, and he grins.

"Do you want more?" he asks, looking slightly puzzled.

I shake my head. "No. I just wanted to see that grin."

"Do you love my grin?"

"Uhuh! As well as everything else about you. What do you love most about me?"

Stuarts grins even more. And then he kisses me; a long passionate kiss. "Everything. Shall we clean ourselves up and go to sleep now? I want to be snuggled into you."

I give him a lopsided grin. "You like being snuggled, do you?"

He nods. "It's the only time I don't feel a need for anything else."

"Not even a Dansette record player that cost twenty three guineas, and has legs?"

Stuart laughs, and bites my nose. "Except that. Come on. Let's get cleaned up."

Stuart Begbie.

Sunday. 6 pm. The moment I've been dreading all week. Father is here to pick me up and take me home. Alex is back now. He fusses with my bags to make sure I've got everything. Michael has sort of melted into the background by the sideboard. I pick Trotter up and give her a big cuddle. She licks my nose. I put her down and say, "Right, we'll be off then." I look at Michael. "I'll see you next weekend." Michael nods. I go through the parlour with Father, and we get into the car. Michael has Trotter in his arms, and Alex is standing just behind him in the doorway. Father starts the car and puts it into gear. I look into Michael's eyes. He smiles. I smile back at him and wave as Father drives away. I feel empty.

Father drives in silence for a while, and then he speaks. "A week won't be a long time. We'll have you all week, and you can spend your weekends with Michael. How does that sound?"

I stem my tears when I say, "Thank you, Father."

Tears are flowing from my eyes as I stand in my dressing gown at my bedroom window, looking in the direction where I know Michael's house is. My Dansette with legs, and which cost twenty three guineas, is playing Jesse Belvin; Goodnight My Love. It's our song. I know every word off by heart.

Goodnight my love.
Pleasant dreams and sleep tight my love.
May tomorrow be sunny and bright,
And bring you closer to me.

Tomorrow, Michael will be going to Oxford. The beginning of a new phase in our lives. It's not the end of the world; it's a new beginning for us. I love you Michael, and I know you love me, and nothing will ever come between us.

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