Love - Existentially

by John Teller

Part 27

Book Eight - My Son Shall Rise in the East
(From some far distant land.)

Michael Johnson

Somewhere west of Istanbul in November 1970.

Life is a maze; a conurbation of events and circumstances and fate. The little man sitting in the passenger seat of the cab of the left hand drive truck I'm driving is testament to that. Hamzah Bousaid is about thirteen and a half years old, and his life has seen more twists and turns than most people see in a lifetime. Born in Haifa; orphaned in Beirut; he found me on the truck park below the Harem Hotel in Istanbul. I recall the exact date. It was October 25th 1969.

With the massive growth in oil and gas reserves being tapped, the Middle East has become a lucrative market for Western goods. They can't get enough - or quick enough - and that's why so many road haulage companies have started up just to transport goods to the Gulf States and elsewhere in the Arab world. The ancient city of Istanbul (formerly known as Constantinople), lying on the junction between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara that leads into the Aegean and onto the Mediterranean Sea is like an hourglass neck separating Europe from the Arab world, and consequently, every night the truck park is crammed with vehicles from all over Europe and is a living and breathing entity all of its own. Whatever you want, anything, you'll find it on the truck park in Istanbul. But I was not prepared for what I did find that night of October 25th 1969.

I'd journeyed from Doha in Qatar and was on an overnight stop on the truck park. As usual, I was with a convoy of other trucks from Western Europe. Numbers are strength when you're traversing the Middle-East run. It's no picnic when you break down or puncture so many tyres on terrible roads that you have to borrow if you've run out.

I was with my own kind... mostly guys from The Midlands of England; the lads who carry lavatories and urinals made by Twyfords to wealthy Arabs whose education has been in England's finest public schools, and who, once back in their own country, refuse to shit in holes in the ground. So they built lavish palaces and imported England's finest lavatory furniture and gold plated everything. Although I also run from England, my load is never bogs for wogs as the truckers call this run. (Forgive me readers, but this was the vernacular of the time and I am loathe to change it.) I'm employed by the Qatar Embassy, and this truck and I have diplomatic immunity. The diplomatic immunity is how Hamzah became my truckbuddy, and I used my position to smuggle him everywhere when we first met... when it all began.

When it all began. We Midland lads and a couple of others who enjoyed our stupid sense of humour were all sitting round a camp fire on the hard clay car park below the Harem Hotel, cooking whatever; eating whatever; drinking whatever, and at the same time trying to fend off a herd of boys begging by whatever means they could, selling everything, including porno books and videos and fruit, as well as themselves, or else entertaining us with dancing bears in chains. After a while, and knowing the few coins we threw them were all they were going to get, they disappeared into the night to bother somebody else.

I was lying back on one elbow, swigging from a half bottle of whisky and chewing on a piece of dried goat meat when Hamzah first became known to us. I wouldn't have seen him if Popeye hadn't chuckled, and said, "I think we got company, lads." Popeye was looking behind me, so I followed his gaze. Unlike the others, Hamzah had nothing to sell, and just sat cross-legged, watching us intently, about ten yards away. It was dark, and the light from the fire was reflecting on his little face. One thing I have learned in life is that boys are clever little creatures. Especially the streetwise ones. Especially my little Hamzah. I looked at him a little too long, and he'd snared me, and he knew he had. I couldn't help it. Hamzah was as cute as a pearl button despite his raggedy clothes. That's another thing about boys. You can dress them in the finest silks, but if they're not cute... they're not cute. The opposite also applies. If a boy is cute, you can dress him in rags and he'll still be cute. That's why I looked at Hamzah a little too long. A couple of minutes later, Popeye said, "He fancies your goat, Major." (The lads knew I'd spent some time in the army as an officer, and that was the nickname I'd acquired.)

Of course, the double entendre in his comment made all the lads laugh. Me too, and perhaps taking courage from the fact that we were laughing at him and had not banished him like others, like a cur dog eager to be accepted into the pack, but taking his time so as not to be booted away, Hamzah kept getting closer. I looked around, and Hamzah was now only five yards away from me. So it became a joke, and the lads were giggling their heads off as the little boy kept getting closer and closer, until, eventually, he was sitting right behind me... by my right shoulder. I'd half eaten the piece of spiced dried goat meat, so without looking, I put it over my shoulder so Hamzah could take it if he wanted. Grinning at the lads who could see what was going on behind me, I felt the piece of meat being pulled from my fingers, and the lads started laughing. So it became a game of me being the conduit to feeding Hamzah. To much hilarity, for the next fifteen minutes I fed Hamzah beef sausages, and even half a tin of corned beef that Smiffy passed me via the circle of laughing truck drivers. Hamzah had become our late evening entertainment, so it was decided that he had to have a pudding to finish it all off. Dingle Joe said he had a tin of rice pudding in his cab, so he was told to get it. When he came back, he opened the tin and passed that around. More laughter because Hamzah was using his fingers to get the rice pudding out. I looked around at him a few times, and each time I did, he gave me a big grin. So he should. I was his only point of contact between food and himself. When the lads decided that he'd had enough to eat, Popeye, who had become the instigator of all this fun, said, "He looks thirsty. Give him a drink of your whisky, Major."

I giggled. "Don't be a bastard! Tailgate... throw me one of those bottles of orange juice!"

(Tailgate is a Swedish lad who drives one of the best rigs on the route: a Kenworth K100 with Detroit engine. He's covered in tattoos and looks every bit an animal, but he's a gentle giant. He never touches alcohol, and because he drives a refrigerated container, he's the supplier of cold drinks.)

I watched him flip the top off one of his bottles of orange juice in the crate beside him, and he passed it around. I put it over my shoulder, and it slipped away. I was looking at Tailgate, who was grinning, and after I heard the gurgling noise from behind me stop, he sent another bottle around. That one went the same way, and I heard a burp. That's when I looked behind me at the small urchin with a wide grin on his face. That's when I fell in love with the little man who was to become a massive part of my life. No, not that way! He was just a lovely little boy who was beautiful, and he was too young and disadvantaged for me to have designs on him as I normally would with a cute young man. He was no Alain. He had a round face with short cropped dark brown hair, and his eyes were blue rather than brown. That was unusual for a boy from the Middle East, so I thought maybe he'd inherited a gene from a Western slave centuries ago. Whatever... he certainly stole my heart. But I had a reputation to uphold. None of the guys knew anything of my past life, so I had to pretend to ignore Hamzah at that point and concentrate on the half bottle of Highland Whisky I wanted to finish before I bunked down in the sleeper cab. A year and more after Stuart and I broke up, although I'd halved my intake, I was still drinking half a bottle a day, including while I was driving. It had become my comforter; my refuge from the heartbreak of our parting.

As the late evening wore on into night, Hamzah was almost forgotten. Not by me. The little monkey had snuggled close and was curled up in a ball right beside me. He'd fallen asleep on the hard clay of the truck park.

Only Tailgate and I were left by the dying embers of the fire when I decided it was time to turn in. I was wondering what to do with Hamzah when Tailgate said in his broken English, "Can you give him bed? He be run over in morning you leave him there. I take him if you not want him, then I throw him out in morning."

I looked at the shapeless bundle beside me. If it had been anybody else except Tailgate, they would have ignored Hamzah. In fact, they already had. Hamzah was just one of hundreds of waifs and strays hugging the highways and byways of Turkey and Iraq and Jordan and Saudi and Qatar. But this one was close-up and personal. Had we not fed and watered him, he would probably have wandered off and found himself a billet somewhere. But Tailgate was right. If any of the lads decided to have an early start, they could easily mistake him for a bundle of rags and run over him without knowing. I nodded to Tailgate. "I'll give him a bed. He'll be safe then."

And so began my life with Hamzah. I woke him up, made him take a pee, pushed him into the cab, and then into the bunk bed behind the seats. He was so tired that it was difficult settling him, and then I got in beside him, fully clothed, took another couple of swigs from a fresh half bottle of whisky, wrapped an arm over him, and went to sleep cuddling my little truckbuddy.

All that was more than a year ago, but now he's asking one of his many questions as he sits beside me. "Why we use word beef to make a point? What does beefing mean?"

Despite having trouble with a tonka (a 4X4 flatbed truck) loaded sky high with animal skins in front of me that has been holding me up for the best part of a mile as we climb this long incline just after we've crossed the border into Hungary, I look across at Hamzah (who is reading a Boy's Own Annual), and do what I do often... correct his English. "Why do we use the word beef to make a point?! Now say it!" (I hadn't missed his use of the possessive `we'. He now never thinks of himself as being a foreigner. (Hamzah is British, and he has a passport to prove it!)

Those beautiful blue eyes sparkle with amusement when he says, "Why – do – we – use – the – word – beef – to – make – a – point?"

I chuckle, and then ignore him as I pull over to pass the tonka while I have a clear three hundred yards in front of me. The tonka driver has two chances: slow down and let me pass... or he'll be off the crap narrow road. He's a wise tonka driver. He chooses the former, and because I'm light-loaded, all ends well, so I concentrate on catching Brummie, who is about a half mile in front of me. Now I can give my full attention to Hamzah, I answer him. "As you know, beef is cow meat. It is good food. It builds muscles and gives you stamina. In your case, it might make that little todger of yours a bit bigger when you're older." I grin at him. "I'm not so sure with you though. I saw a blackbird looking at it when we were having a shower. It thought it was a little worm. (Hamzah giggles.) Anyway, eating beef means you become strong, so when we say beefing something up, we mean making it stronger. Now do you understand?"

I might as well be talking to a brick wall. Now he's got the answer to his question, as usual, he's blanked me and is reading the book again. He loves his books. Especially he loves English children's books. They give him an insight into a life he could only dream about before he met me. But that's the best way to teach children. Give them something that will excite them and they'll fly through it. Had I given him Homer's Odyssey to teach him English, then he'd still be a dummy now. It was my brother Alex who taught me that.

I've caught Brummie up, and go into thinking mode.

I should have thrown Hamzah out that morning on the car park below the Harem Hotel when I woke up, but I didn't. Why didn't I? I know why. He touched something inside that made me want to care for him. Perhaps it's my psyche: the underdog rising to the fore again; that chip on my shoulder which makes me a rebel when I see inequalities. Only three people in my life have ever understood me. No, four actually. I can add my schoolteacher, my second father Mr Bourne to Dada and Alex and Stuart. (Mr Bourne. He's retired now. I really must go and see him soon. Although I've spoken to him on the telephone a few times, I haven't seen him since me and Stuart split up on Saturday 18th May 1968... two and a half years ago.)

When I woke that morning, the first thing that hit me was the smell. Hamzah stunk! Because of the rich food we'd fed him, he'd shit himself. I've nearly done it a dozen times since with the trouble he's caused me, but that was the first time I thought of giving him the boot. He was a very lucky boy that day! If the lads hadn't been laughing at me as they watched me gasping for fresh air as I almost fell out of the cab while they were drinking coffee made on a Camping Gaz stove, and if there hadn't been a rest room where I could scrub him clean, and if gypsies hadn't set up stalls so early in the morning, then he probably would have been given the boot. But I took the lads' laughter as a challenge; dragged the stinking Hamzah by his tatty tunic to the washroom; stripped him completely, swilled off the shit that was over his arse and all down his legs, scrubbed him from head to foot until he was shining, wrapped him in a towel, and threw his filthy clothes in the trash. I was dragging him out of the washroom when he went berserk... screaming like a stuck pig that he wanted to go back and I wondered what the hell was up with him, so I let him go back, and when he rummaged in his old clothes in the trash bin, he pulled out a string of Hindu prayer beads and clutched them tightly to his chest. (What connection an Arab boy had with Hindu prayer beads puzzled me. The hint of an answer would not come `till much later.) Only then would he come with me when we wandered over to the multitude of stalls to buy him some decent clothes, and then dressed him and bought us both some food from the stalls that were up and running by then. During all that time, I hardly spoke a word to him. Well, how could I? His English was restricted to you give me?; me Hamzah; can I have?, you want me?, and you take me? So I told him my name was Michael, discovered his name was Hamzah, and took him home with me.

Took him home with me. When he was scrubbed, dressed, and fed and watered, and like a Siamese twin sitting beside me while we all drank coffee and the lads were making rude remarks that I now had a pretty little girl instead of a tatty boy because he looked so handsome in his new clothes, I pointed at the truck, and said to Hamzah, "England. You want to go?"

(The lads laughed.)

For a moment, Hamzah stared at me and gave me a really puzzled look, and then something must have clicked in his head, because he said in his strange treble voice, "Ingerland?"

(The lads laughed again.)

I nodded, pointed at the truck again, and said, "Ingerland!" I pointed at myself. "With me!" I pointed at the truck again. "Me... Michael... Hamzah... Ingerland! You... want... go?"

(The lads were in stitches.)

His mouth dropped, and he said, "Hamzah... Ingerland?" Then tears formed in his eyes when he almost yelled, "Arjuu-ka!!! Arjuu-ka!!! Arjuu-ka!!!"

I knew enough Arabic to understand him. Many of the beggars used the same phrase. It means, I'm begging you! Although the lads were laughing again, I wasn't. Little Hamzah's eyes were filled with tears, and my heart was filled with pity now this little boy had become close-up and personal. I knew I was taking a chance that it might not work out, but the thought that I could give Hamzah a new start in life overcame any inhibitions I might have. It wasn't a spur-of-the-moment decision to ask him if he wanted to go to England. The idea had grown on me ever since I scrubbed him in the washroom, when he was naked and washed and dripping with water and crying. While I was drying the little imp, all I saw and felt was compassion for a little boy who needed someone to care for him; someone to fill his little tummy with good food to make him healthy, and someone whose arms he could relax into and feel completely safe when he shit himself. I had flashbacks to the time when Alex and I had been put into care when I was a nipper, and I remembered how I had clung to Alex because I was so scared. I hadn't got a clue how Hamzah came to be a road-boy, but I was pretty sure his circumstances had been far worse than mine. I had Alex: Hamzah had nobody. That's a horrible place to be: alone. I couldn't put right all the wrongs of the world, but I could put one right. That's why I grinned at the lads when I hugged Hamzah to me, and said, "Any bets from you lot that I don't get him to England?"

When they realised I was dead serious, the mood changed. I was called all sorts of an idiot, but by the time we all set off, Hamzah had got himself a convoy of guardians. But I knew he would have. I'd been with some of these guys for a year, and they were much like army lads: loyal and willing to do anything to help a buddy out.

I remember that journey with Hamzah as if it was yesterday. Almost three thousand miles of fun and subterfuge. Bless Tailgate. At a roadside stop in Germany, just before he parted company with us to do the ferry run up through Denmark to his home country of Sweden, he put his hand on my shoulder, and said, "Major, you are good man. Not many men give little boy chance of good life. You need help anytime, you ask me. Tailgate always help you."

It was a lovely gesture, but I didn't need his help. Well, not to get him home. This truck is well-known at all the border crossings, and because of my diplomatic immunity, they never search it. So, while he was hidden under the bed at every check-point, I smuggled little Hamzah all the way home through every one of them and onto the Calais-Dover cross-channel ferry, up to the depot in London, and then took him home to Cornwall in the red Jaguar XK 120 drophead I'd recently bought. And when I took him into the house, he clutched his precious lucky-charm Hindu prayer beads to his chest, threw himself into my arms and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed until he eventually fell asleep in my arms while I held him on the sofa. And then I took him to my bed and stripped him, placed his Hindu prayer beads on the pillow beside him, and he slept for almost twenty-four hours. I was with him. After I'd eaten, I bathed, put on clean pyjamas, went to bed, wrapped him in my arms, and kissed the back of his head continuously until I fell asleep, finally relieved of the tensions bringing him home had caused me. It was only when he was snuggled into me that I realised how much this little urchin meant to me. Hamzah Bousaid was now my little boy and nothing but death would ever stop me from caring for him. And I fell asleep only after recalling the entire journey that fate determined would throw us together and begin A New Life For Hamzah. (This video will also show a picture of the beautiful boy he was to become.)

Diplomatic immunity. One of life's amazing twists and turns.

Stuart relocated to Paris to be with Isabelle. His father's business has become international, so it was easy for him. After our meeting in Paris, I rarely saw him, but I often spoke to him on the telephone. I make the best of a bad job. I'm not a jealous person, but my psyche is steeped in loyalty. Of his own volition, Stuart had chosen not to be with me, so it didn't sit well with me. No matter which way I tried to look at it, I'd been jilted in favour of a woman he'd fallen in love with. I still loved him. I still do, but life had served me up a dose of Love – Existentially, and I had no option other than get on with things. I did accept the offer to take up residence at The Grange. I thought about returning to my roots, and Alex, but I had this strange feeling that I didn't want to return home as a failure. I wanted to be sorry for myself, but that didn't work either. I tried. A bottle a day of Lagavulin took me there sometimes. So I lived at The Grange on my army discharge allowance and from the savings I had in the bank.

I suffered a real bout of depression. It's a horrible thing; a pit of blackness that no amount of cajoling and kind words can get you out of. Then something brought me back from the abyss. Well, it wasn't a something... it was a someone: Alain d'Evreux.

I'd never forgotten him, and while I was at The Grange I saw both him and Archie a few times, and every time we met our eyes were drawn to one another's, and we both knew exactly what the other was thinking... of that special night in Paris where we made mad, passionate love, and discovered certain feelings that existed between us. Those feelings were not tainted by emotional affection; they were of pure lust. I looked into his beautiful green eyes and remembered them filled with intense desire, looking up at me while we were coupled; I heard his sweet voice and heard the cries of satisfaction that I had pleased him so; and I saw in everything he did that he wanted to repeat the wonderful experience. I could sense the vibes, and the pheromones of our lustful feelings were so strong that I was never fully relaxed when I was with him. Then he took the initiative and came to visit me.

It was September, two weeks after Alain's sixteenth birthday, a mid-morning when I heard a vehicle draw up by the front door, and when I went out, Alain was paying the taxi driver. I later discovered that he'd plotted and planned for the visit, even telling Archie and the school the same story: that he had an appointment with one of his father's colleagues to sort out some details of his situation in England. He told them that the meeting was in Plymouth, but when he left the school at ten in the morning, he took a taxi to The Grange.

Just over one year since we first made love, and we did it again, but our second time was even better than the first. From the moment I closed the door when he was inside until he left at four in a taxi, we outed our lusts and desires so openly and mutually that we had nothing left to give to one another. Alain was another year older; another year more experienced, and I was starved of that which we both desired, and that's why, without silly introductions and hesitation, we were naked in my bed and I was in tears confessing my love for his beautiful body, and he was in tears of lustful appreciation that I could give him what he most desired: to be taken any way I wanted and without feelings for his welfare. Although our needs were different, we shared a voracious appetite for unfettered sex, which is perhaps the greatest drug known to mankind. It transcends anything: loyalty; kinship; conscience; love. He told me that no other man in his life had ever filled him with so much desire, nor left him so completely satisfied, and I told him the truth; that he was utterly beautiful and that his body was so sensual that it drove me wild with hunger for it. Honours even, and when we had each taken from the other all we wanted, we were damned good friends.

After that meeting, I felt the weight of depression beginning to fall away, and I never again returned to the real depths of blackness. But it took a while. In fact, it took a few more visits from Alain before I was able to live a half-reasonable life.

(Food for thought. Perhaps a boy's seed contains massive doses of Serotonin? Maybe a scientist should look into it. I can give them a few tips. I would recommend that it has a viscosity of around 70,000 cP; must be served hot and in doses no less than 10 ml, and I would suggest they use a French strain.)

Not only is Alain beautiful, once he's been well and truly served, he's great company. He's also a clever little bugger. After a number of visits that were becoming more regular, he brought with him a copy of The Times newspaper he'd picked up from the reception area of the school, and after our desires were done with, he showed me an advert in it which he'd seen when the taxi was delivering him to The Grange. But that's Alain. He has a brilliant mind, and even though he would have been filled with lustful need on his way to see me, he could still think laterally. In this case, he was thinking of our welfare.

I was chuckling when he showed it to me. He'd poured me a double scotch when he got off the bed and went to the dresser where he'd left the broadsheet newspaper, flipped through the pages, got to the place he wanted, folded the newspaper three times, returned to the bed to his favourite position of lying on top of me so I could caress the parts of him he liked being caressed when we were relaxing, placed the newspaper on the pillow next to me, and pointed at the advert he wanted me to look at when he said, "That would suit you."

I went on my side, which made him slip off me so he was lying on the bed on his tummy, and looked at the advert. Then I started laughing. Because it was quite a large one, the advert must have cost a fortune, and, as usual, the advert was termed in almost indecipherable gobbledygook when all they wanted was a truck driver... they being the Qatari Government. So I gave Alain's bottom cheeks a really sharp smack, and asked, "Why would it suit me? Are you trying to get rid of me?"

Alain rested his head on his arms and stared at me for a long time; his gorgeous green eyes unwavering as he looked into me, and then he nodded slowly. "If you don't go, I'll lose Archie."

I was both puzzled and surprised at his reply, and said, "Explain yourself, young man."

Again his eyes bored into me when he sighed deeply, and said, "What we do. I need it. I need it so much that unless you go away, it will become so powerful that I will want to leave Archie just to have it. I never want to do that. I love him. If you don't go away, then I'll have to return to Paris."

I knew exactly what he meant: lust transcends anything: loyalty; kinship; conscience; love. And Alain had arrived at the moment when he knew he had a choice to make. He was making that difficult choice, and I knew he was completely serious when he said he would leave if I didn't. He had chosen to preserve his love for Archie above all things, even that over which he had no control, and I found that utterly beautiful. It wasn't just Alain who was under the powerful influence of the drug of lust: so was I. Under the influence I'd betrayed my friendship with Archie and had hardly given it a second thought. I was so consumed by this beautiful French boy with his amazing, magnetic green eyes and a youthful body that satisfied my deepest carnal desires that I think I may even have betrayed Stuart to possess him. I couldn't get enough of him, and he couldn't get enough of me, and the only way to stop this madness was for us to be so far apart that it couldn't continue. It would be cold turkey, but that was better than the alternative of maybe destroying both our lives if it didn't stop. That's why I decided to make things easy for both of us, and I picked up the newspaper and studied the advert seriously.

To this day I don't know if Alain used his father to sort things, but the interview and the ease at which I got the job was completely seamless, and two months later, having been afforded diplomatic immunity and dual British/Qatari citizenship because Qatar was still a British colony at the time, after a celebratory last fling with Alain that lasted all day, I began the first of my month long 8,600 miles round-trip journeys from London to Doha. The salary was almost executive, which made it easy for me to pay the rent on The Grange to keep as my home in England, and to buy a fast sports car to carry me back and forth from London to Cornwall.

Alain and I did have another get together during the first year of my employment, and we both agreed that an annual meeting was sustainable. It happened when Archie was away for one night on business, and it had to happen at Archie's place so Alain was at home when he telephoned. That twenty minute phone call was the only break we had in ten hours of the most fantastic sex imaginable, and afterwards, Alain said it would suffice until the next time. I was not so sure. Alain was maturing into a perfect specimen of desire. He was still small for his age, and he had not lost that cuteness of boyhood, but he had developed a six-pack that rippled like water when he was making love, and he brought me to the heights of desire by using just those muscles when he was on a roll and using my presence to fulfil his own insatiable needs.

But then I met Hamzah, and everything changed.

Stuart asked me the same question, and in a roundabout way, so did Alex. But it was to Alain that I explained everything. His question wasn't unexpected. During the first three months when Hamzah was with me, I sensed a change in Alain's attitude towards me whenever we met. I knew why. He thought I was using Hamzah.

It was between trips, and me and Hamzah were invited to dinner at Archie's place. After dinner, Archie asked if he could take Hamzah for a walk along the cliffs. He said he would take him about halfway to Barret Zaun, which was about two miles away. That left me and Alain alone, and it wasn't five minutes after they left that I looked into Alain's eyes and asked him if we could have a quickie. He stared back into mine, and asked, "Is Hamzah not satisfying you?"

I smiled at him. "It's not like that with me and Hamzah. I've never touched him."

He looked puzzled. "But you sleep together."

I nodded. "We do sleep together, but I'm in the process of changing things. I've already asked the boss if he'll have the rig converted to a double bunk outfit, and me and Hamzah have begun making changes to The Grange so he can have his own room. But until those things happen, we still sleep together." I chuckled. "Sometimes it's awkward. I need my releases thinking about you, but it's difficult when Hamzah is sleeping with me."

Alain smiled. "But how does Hamzah manage?" He grinned. "Doesn't he know what it's for yet?"

His question made me laugh. "Yes, he knows what it's for. In fact, on the second night he slept in my cab, he asked if I wanted to use him. He even took hold of it."

Alain chuckled. "What did you do?"

"I moved his hand away and told him to get off to sleep. Well, made signs that he should. He couldn't speak English then." I grinned at Alain. "You're such a sexy sod that if it had been you, then I wouldn't have moved your hand away, even if you were only ten years old. But he's not you. Nobody is you! Are you sure you don't want a quickie?"

Alain glared into my eyes. "You know I do, but I want to know about you and Hamzah!"

"Are you jealous?"

"Yes! Does that make you angry?"

I stared into his eyes. "No, it just makes me want to fuck you. It's driving me crazy just looking at you! I want you!"

Alain wanted me too, and that's why he got up and walked to the bedroom. I followed him, and even though both of us were scared that Archie and Hamzah might return unexpectedly, we were too worked up not to take this moment of opportunity. Fifteen minutes was all we had, but those fifteen minutes were crammed with our crazy desires, and we were both left breathless and visibly shaking at the explosion of our lustful exertions.

Back at the dining table, Alain was still nervous and his face was flushed when he looked right into my eyes, and said, "You're crazy. I was right to send you away."

I nodded. "I know you were. But it takes two crazies to tango. Now you know why, even if I wanted him that way, Hamzah could never take your place. Who knows what might happen in the future, but nobody ever has, or ever will be able to provide what you give me."

"Not even Stuart?"

I stared into Alain's eyes, and the words stuck in my craw when I said them, but I was telling the truth when I replied, "Not even Stuart."

Alain looked right into me, and asked, "And why is that?"

I held his gaze. "You know exactly why. You don't love me. I don't love you. Love gets in the way. I want you because you're the most desirable creature I've ever met on this earth, and you want me because I can give you what you need. You need a man to dominate you and ignore your welfare when we're having sex. You know you're the sexiest boy alive, and you need someone who appreciates exactly that. Does that answer your question?"

Alain shrugged his shoulders. "I'm not sure. Sometimes I daydream that you and I go away to a desert island, away from everybody, and just do crazy things. Other times I wish I would never see you again. You get in the way of my ordinary life."

I looked into his eyes. "Ordinary life. That can be very beautiful. Treasure it. I think it's better than what we have."

"You still miss Stuart, don't you?"

I couldn't look at Alain when I answered him. Instead, I looked down at the table, and whispered, "Yes."

Alain got up, came round the table to me, and wrapped his arms around my neck. "I understand. I may not love you, but I do care for you. That's why I'm going to do everything in my power to try and make you happy." He kissed my ear, and whispered, "But I don't want you to be too happy. Part of what we have is because you've been hurt. I love it when you take your frustrations out on me. Now we'd better wash up before Archie and your little Arab boy get back." He giggled. "We need to let them know we've been busy."

When Alain was leaning over the sink as he was washing the dishes, I went behind him, pressed myself firmly against his buttocks, bit the lobe of his ear, and whispered, "I need you again."

He giggled, but carried on washing up. Then he said, "Little boys become big boys, and I suspect Hamzah is not as ignorant as you think he is."

"What do you mean?"

He giggled again. "We boys understand things you old men don't. He knows about me and Archie."

"And how do you know he knows?"

"Because he's asked me what it's like doing it with a man that you care for. I asked him if he'd ever done it with a man. He told me he had, to put food in his tummy. I asked him if he'd ever done it because he liked it. He didn't answer me. I knew by his silence that he had. So now you can work it out for yourself."

"And when did you have this chat?"

Alain chuckled. "Last time you were here. When you and Archie were talking about the pot I'd made for the exhibition in London. Do you really like it?"

I bit his earlobe again. "It's a toss up what you're best at: making pots or driving me crazy. Which do you like doing best?"

Alain laughed. "Neither. I prefer you dry the dishes before Archie and your sexy Arab boy get back. Now get on with it!"

I began to dry the dishes, and I was chuckling while I was doing them, and when Alain asked me why I was, I told him, "Your sexy Arab boy."

He grinned, and then winked at me. "Do you want a bet that it won't happen before his fourteenth birthday?" Then he became serious, and said, "We need to get Hamzah a proper passport. I suggest we get him a British one."

I stopped drying the dishes, and looked at him. "Did your father have anything to do with me getting the job?"

Alain didn't look at me when he replied, "He was quite concerned about me."

"And why is that?"

Alain looked at me in the eyes. "Papa is my best friend. He understands me better than anyone. Leave it at that please."

So I did, and even I, who was familiar with skulduggery after serving in the army, was surprised how things turned out.

I'm pleased we've arrived at Calais for the ferry crossing. Despite having almost complete dominance over what blares out from the Blaupunkt radio and the cassette player, Hamzah is becoming bored. Except for a few days in Doha while they're sorting things, for a month the cab of the Volvo is our living room; our bedroom; his playroom, and his schoolroom.

I began life as his tutor on the journey home when I first picked him up, and he's come on leaps and bounds. He loves to learn, and being well-educated myself, there are very few things I cannot do to educate him to a reasonable standard. My first task was to teach him how to speak English, and there's no better way than one to one and constant dialogue. At first it was like teaching an exceptionally clever toddler, and on our first full round trip together I loaded up with every book I could think of that would help him: ABC... 123... picture books with names under the pictures. I taught him by pointing at objects as we were travelling, and telling him in English what they were. He soon picked that up, and he'd even sing the words to his lovely middle-eastern musical tilt. It wasn't just one-way. He'd tell me what things were in Arabic, so I learned how to speak his language too. Now he speaks very passable English, and I speak half-decent Arabic.

There's a long queue of trucks waiting to board a ferry, but I ignore it and go past them and directly to customs ready with the necessary TIR carnets and our passports for priority boarding. They won't search us. The trailer is locked and sealed. Even I don't know what's in it on the run out and back. That's part of how I got the job. They wanted someone trustworthy, and my military record showed them that I'm reliable and honourable and responsible. (It also helped that the army provided me with a driving licence which entitles me to drive everything from a motorcycle to a Chieftain battle tank if I could drive one a hundred yards.) I'm not interested what's in the trailer. When I get back, I'll park the truck in the warehouse at Shepherd's Bush, go home in the Jaguar (Hamzah loves it when I've got the soft-top down), and wait for a phone call to tell me when I'm needed again. And unlike most of the lads, when I pick it up, I don't have to stock up on anything. It's all done for me: all the victuals I'll need for the round trip; Camping Gaz refills; £3,000 in a small safe under the passenger seat that I'll need for refuelling or repairs; or to ease passage through some of the more hostile border crossings, and all necessary documentation. My contact at the embassy is Imaan. He's a great chap, and was the person who interviewed me for the job. He's about my age; very westernised, and just laughed when I told him I'd got a truckbuddy to accompany me after I picked up Hamzah. (He's another one who thinks Hamzah is my fuckbuddy and not my truckbuddy, and despite my protestations that he's not, he always says, with a chuckle, that he's put a few special things in to keep my `bedfellow' contented.) But, because I never have any need to go to the embassy, Imaan has never met Hamzah.

Hamzah. Because we're now on the boat and the trailer has been lashed down because the English Channel is a bit rough, and we're on our way, he's excited. He's always like this when we're going home. Ferry crossings are the times when I lose him. One of the downsides to this job is that I have to stay with the rig at all times when we're travelling. I've never asked, but I suspect the stuff I carry is too sensitive to trust to air conveyance, and I was a bit alarmed when Imaan told me I carried a L1A1 SLR weapon in an easily accessible compartment in the roof lining at the front of the cab. That was another ace up my sleeve when I was interviewed: I'm very familiar with the weapon. The British army have used the semi-automatic self-loading rifle for years. So, I could be carrying anything from millions of dollars for bribes, to office furniture. I just don't know, and to be honest, I don't care.

After half an hour sitting in the cab, Hamzah looks at me with his beautiful blue eyes. "I go on deck now Michael."

I grin at him. "I'll go on deck now Michael!"

He laughs. "You can come with me if you want to."

I give him the two fingers, and snort, "Just be careful you don't fall overboard. Have you got any money?"

He nods. "Do you want me to bring you anything?"

I decide to tease him. "Yes. Bring me a bacon sandwich."

He looks at me in disgust. "I will not upset Allah – Peace Be Upon Him. I will bring you chicken."

(I will not upset Allah. Hamzah is a Muslim, but he always refuses to talk about religion except when he wants to tease me. Although he's not told me everything, I know a lot about his past, so I'm not surprised he's chosen a secular path in life. But he will never touch produce that comes from pigs. But one thing does puzzle me... those Hindu beads he always has on his person. He always says they're his Raji Beads and then shuts up and won't tell me anymore about them.)

I grin at him. "Chicken will do. And a coffee. Off you go! And be careful!"

When he's out of the truck, he comes across to the side I'm sitting before he makes his way through the line of trucks, and I lean out of the window to watch him walking away.

He's grown since I first picked him up, and I'm reminded of Alain's teasing words: Do you want a bet that it won't happen before his fourteenth birthday? Although Hamzah doesn't know the exact date of his birth, he told me he was twelve when we first met. All the documents relating to him have a date of May 1st 1957 as his birth date. So, `officially', he's now almost thirteen and a half. I grin to myself. Alain might yet win his bet. Look at him now. He's grown about four inches, has filled out, and the bottom I can see in his jeans is a really cute one. We've had a couple of close shaves that way.

When, if you're like me, queer, and have known the delights of a beautiful boy, it is rather difficult when you're in bed and you find a warm, soft one wrapped around you, and it takes quite a lot of willpower to deny yourself that which you know will pleasure you. But since that night when he put his hand on me to do what he thought I required for adopting him, and I rejected his advance, never since has he done it. But I can't help it if I wake up in the morning and he's spooned into me and my morning wood is nestling between his bum cheeks. He has either clothes or pyjamas on, but the situation is sensual. And I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Masturbating has become a secret affair for both of us, and we never talk about it. I usually wait until Hamzah has gone to sleep, and then release my pent-up frustrations whilst thinking of Stuart or Alain or the boy under the wild olive tree. When we're on our travels, Hamzah pretends to be asleep in his seat, curled up and facing away from me, but I've often seen what he's doing. (I always know when he's really asleep, and when he's not.) His secret takes him about five minutes, and then he's wide awake again with a big grin on his cute face, and his beautiful blue eyes have an extra sparkle to them. I never say anything, and chuckle inwardly that he's pleasured himself. And I've noticed of late that he does it more often. His hormones are definitely kicking in.

But a couple of times recently, when we're at home in our bed (because he said he didn't want to sleep alone, we never got round to sorting him his own room at The Grange, and neither has the rig been modified for two bunk beds), when I've woken up and my hardness has been nestling between his bum cheeks, he's been exerting pressure on me while he's been relieving himself. I haven't disturbed him, and have allowed him to complete the task. But his actions are food for thought. As he's grown older, my feelings for him have also begun to change. During the adopting process, they were entirely platonic, but now they're not. Like just... when I watched him walking away from me and I was admiring his cute bottom. He's becoming desirable, and I would be telling a lie if I said I have never thought about him while I was relieving myself. At the moment, I've contained my growing attraction for him that way to fantasy, and that's because I've never veered from my normal modus operandi: I never take unless it's offered to me on a plate, and up to yet, Hamzah has not done that. I don't know how I'll react if ever he does offer himself, but I have given it some thought. Our relationship would change completely, and it might ruin everything. So my thoughts have been very serious ones. But I still don't know what I'll do if he is ever serious that he wants a sexual relationship.

So, I have seven more months to win my bet with Alain... or lose it?

Hamzah Bousaid.

Although I know some of the people around me, I've decided to sit alone to drink my coffee. I want to look through the large window to see the White Cliffs of Dover. I never tire of seeing them. England is my home; with the man I love. My Michael.

I've always loved him, ever since he looked at me when we first met. There was more than just pity in his eyes when he looked at me. I know when someone wants me and when someone has affection for me. Tailgate loves me like Michael does. I've never discussed it with Michael, but if Michael were ever to abandon me, I know Tailgate would have me. But I don't feel the same way about Tailgate as I do about Michael. Some things are too rare to be duplicated. (I love that word. It took me ages to get my tongue around it, but once Michael had taught me how to say it, I was using it all the time, and it made Michael laugh because I could find so many places in our conversation to use it.) That's how I know what me and Michael have can't be duplicated for me

Michael. He's a homosexual. He won't talk about it much, but I know about him and Stuart. I also know about him and Alain. I can tell by the way they look at one another. It makes me angry sometimes, but I can't do anything about it. I've tried. When we're in bed together, I've pushed myself against Michael to let him know that I want to be his boy that way, but he never does anything.

Only with my beautiful Raji Khan have I done it willingly, but before I met him I did it quite a few times to survive. I had to unless I wanted to starve. I was once so badly violated by a fat Turk that I was ill for a month afterwards, and only when Raji found me and cared for me did I get better.

My own country. It was so long ago, but I remember it all. My father hated them... the Zionists who had taken over my country and who stole the lands my ancestors had for centuries. I hated the British then. It was all their fault. Or so father said. They took our lands and gave it to the Zionist hordes: men in stupid black hats and long beards. Father took us north; to Lebanon; to Beirut; to the camps. That was worse than living with the Zionists. Arabs killed Arabs there. Father killed two of them, so they shot him, and then came with guns in the night, firing them everywhere, killing two of my brothers, and we fled. We were like a disturbed nest of rats, fleeing in all directions to evade the bullets. That was the last I saw of my family: my mother and my four sisters and my five remaining brothers. I had nothing; not an identity card; not a passport; and that made me a nobody. That's when I became a thief; an eight year old beggar-boy; a seller of my body to those who desired it. And there were plenty of those on the long journey to Istanbul. The Q'ran says that homosexuality is a sin, but taking a boy is not a homosexual act. That applies only when a boy is old enough to be a man. I am approaching that time, but I am no longer a follower of Islam. No just God would subject a small boy to the horrors I have been through. I reject all Gods. I despise religion. I have faith only in myself, and now Michael, who I met after I arrived in Istanbul on the spare wheel of an English truck, and the spirit of Raji Khan who resides within me, and will for evermore.

Michael has told me that when he first saw me, as well as knowing immediately that I was special and I touched his heart deep inside, he also saw a poor waif of the road.

But what is a poor waif of the road? I have never told Michael what one is. I think it would break his beautiful, gentle heart. He could not even begin to comprehend the survival techniques required to be a poor waif of the road.

Stealing is easy if you're nimble footed. Stealing puts food in your belly. Begging is far more difficult. Nobody likes a beggar. You'll starve to death if you only beg. Entertaining is the most fruitful way of existing. But it's dangerous. I have known young boys to be murdered after joining a boy-dancing gang. Especially the pretty ones who pretend to be young girls. I kept clear of gangs. Gangs are dangerous. If the men don't get you, other members of the gang will. You become an item to be used by everybody, and after you have become a slave to opium, there is no escape. Better a death on the road than that way to Hell. Better to become a lone waif of the road.

That's when I discovered that father was wrong when he said the British were, after the Zionists, the worst people on earth. Some can be a little brutal at times, but most I have been with have treated me well. If they require payment for some food and a few coins, then most are gentle. I have known some whose greatest joy was to feast on my body for hours, and only after they knew I was satiated did they require simple relief. And it was from those; The Gentle Ones, and from Raji, that I began to discover myself.

There is one placeThe Gentle Ones went, and Raji was invited to, that disturbs me. It has been taken forcibly many times, and I have never enjoyed that, but, if done gently and with love, it can be the most delicious experience. It's what I think about when I'm with Michael; it's why I'm jealous of Stuart and Alain; it's why I sometimes become angry that Michael will not treat me like he has them. It is almost two years since I was pleasured that way, and now I am changing from a boy to a man, it is becoming more and more difficult for me to contain myself. Michael knows my body intimately. We are never shy together. Spending an entire month on each journey to Doha and back, how can we be? He will have noticed the change in me. He joked earlier in our relationship that a blackbird would have pecked it off, but he knows that it is now big enough to fend off starvation for a vulture. And Michael, despite his drinking, has a superb body. Of late, each time I look at him when he is naked, I am aroused, and when I am snuggled into him and he is pressing against me, I am released so quickly because I am fantasising that he is more sensual than anyone - except Raji - who has used me in the past. But it has not happened for two reasons: I don't know whether he sees me as he sees Stuart and Alain, and I am afraid of promoting it because I do not want to lose him. There is one other who I would like to do it with. Michael's nephew Alexander is beautiful and sensual and I am disturbed emotionally when I look at him whenever we visit Michael's brother and his family. But he has made no move on me and I am terribly afraid to reveal my feelings just in case it upsets the ambience of our visits.

The White Cliffs of Dover. I can see them at last! Time to take Michael a coffee and his chicken sandwiches. I smile to myself. I know what his first words will be when he sees me.

Michael Johnson.

I've been getting worried for about twenty minutes when I see Hamzah making his way between the line of trucks, and when he sees me, he gives me one of his best, broad miles that display his beautiful, even, white teeth. (That's something that has always puzzled me. Despite the hardships in his young life, he has the most amazing set of beautiful teeth.) He climbs in and hands me a coffee in a cardboard container and a pack of chicken sandwiches. I glare at him. "I thought you'd fallen overboard!"

He roars with laughter, and says, "I knew that was the first thing you would say to me."

Dawn is just blossoming in the east behind me as I drive over the Saltash Bridge at Plymouth and cross from the County of Devon into the County of Cornwall. Just eight miles and we will be home. Hamzah is asleep in the passenger seat. He's used a pillow propped against the window to rest his head, and now it's becoming light, I can clearly see his profile. He's beautiful, and in different circumstances I would be thinking of how much more beautiful he would be if, when we got home, I could strip him down to his nakedness and make love to him. It always happens when I'm going home... it's psychological. I associate The Grange with sex and hot young bodies desperate for what I can give them, and what I can get from them. But not since the last time I did it with Alain has that happened, and that's a long time ago. Too long! I'll be seeing Alain again if he's in England, but even then I may not get to see him. It's difficult containing myself these days. I look across at Hamzah again. No way can I tell him how I'm beginning to feel about him.

I have watched him growing from a boy into a young man. I teased him about his boyhood earlier in the trip, but he is no longer a boy. There's a tiny amount of peach fuzz upon his lips, and I have seen a few wisps of pubertal hair growing just above the base of his boyhood. They are not pubic hair yet, but they soon will be. His testicles are beginning to develop nicely and fill his ballsac. Occasionally, I've seen him aroused, and I know that if I were to pleasure him that way, he would need to enter my throat to be completed. If I was depressed, and if I was prepared to do it, I'd welcome the chance to test my theory that a boy's seed could be a cure for a lack of Serotonin. Perhaps Arab semen is more powerful than French semen? If it is, and if I did, then I might over-ventilate, because Alain's occasional doses of semen has almost cured the depression caused by losing Stuart.

It's a chilly morning, and as I stop the Jaguar in front of the portico, I'm hoping Jenny the housekeeper has done as I asked her when I telephoned her yesterday, and has switched on the central heating. I get out, stretch my arms and legs, and look around me at the familiarity of my home. As always, I am filled with mixed emotions. There will be no Stuart to greet me, and yet I will be in the one place in the world where I feel comfortable. The Grange is my home, and I cannot see a time when it will not be. I go to the front door, unlock it, switch on the hall light, and then go into the kitchen and switch the light on in there. Only then do I smile that Jenny has done as I asked, because the place is lovely and warm.

I go back out, get the four large travel bags that contain our gear from the boot of the car, take them into the hall, and go back out to wake Sleeping Beauty. He's already awake, and is struggling with it, so I help him out of the car, and with an arm around his shoulder, I escort him into the house and close the door behind us. The light makes him squint and rub his eyes, and then he smiles. Then he does something that surprises me. When we're in the kitchen, he turns to me and hugs me, so I wrap my arms around him and hug him back, and ask, "Are you okay?"

I hear a mumbled, "Uhuh," and then a very tired, "I'm glad we're home."

I kiss him on top of his head, and say, quietly, "So am I. I'll make us some scrambled eggs with tea and toast, and then we'll go to bed. I don't know about you, but I reckon I'll sleep for twenty four hours in our comfortable bed."

He chuckles. "You can bring me breakfast in bed the day after tomorrow morning, because I can sleep for two days."

I'm chuckling as I lead him to the kitchen table and sit him in his usual place before going to the kettle, fill it with fresh water, light the gas ring underneath it, and then light the grill for toast. In twenty minutes, I serve up breakfast, and we sit quietly eating it. This is unusual for Hamzah. Even though he's tired, he usually chats like a monkey when we're eating, and I'm worried that he may not be well, so I ask him, "Are you okay?"

He looks right onto my eyes, and smiles a strange smile. It's strange because of the length of time he looks into my eyes. He seems to be telling me something, and I'm not sure what it is. (If I was fully awake and aware, I might have recognised the signs. But I'm too tired, and they pass me by.) Then he says, "Is the water hot enough for me to have a bath?"

I nod at him. "Yes. Jenny switched it on. The tank will be full. I'll run you one when we've had breakfast." I smile at him. "I'll have a shower while you're having a bath, then we'll both have washed the road off us."

I've done my ablutions, showered, brushed my teeth, have put on my pyjamas, and am in bed when Hamzah comes into the bedroom. I expected him to have put on his pyjamas, which were in the airing cupboard, but he's holding them in his hands in front of him when he comes into the bedroom. It's not unusual to see him naked in our bedroom, but I know something is different this time. And it's even more unusual when he puts them on the floor by his side of the bed and gets in naked after he's switched off the light, which was necessary because I've drawn the thick lined curtains to keep out much of the daylight while we sleep. For a few moments, he lies on his back, and then I hear him say in a quiet voice, "Michael, will you hold my hand please?"

I'm in my usual position; on the right hand side of the bed and lying on my left side. Hamzah usually takes up the same position when first we get in bed, and it's only after a night's sleep that we find ourselves close together and he's spooned into me, usually with my arm over him. So, because he's now lying flat on his back, it's easy for me to find his hand, which is by his side. The moment I hold his hand, I feel his clutching mine tightly. I'm not a fool. The events tonight are for one of two reasons: Hamzah feels he needs to reward me for looking after him, or he actually does want to be with me. But despite the fact that he's got into bed naked, I'm not in a position to do anything. Although I am beginning to desire Hamzah that way, I will not take anything from him if his reasons are that he feels a need to reward me. That's why I say to him, "Hamzah, this is not necessary."

"What do you mean?"

"I need no rewards for loving and caring for you."

I feel his hand squeezing mine even more tightly, and then he says, "I know that. If I thought rewards were what you wanted, you would have had them a long time ago. I need to ask you something Michael. Do you ever think of me the same way you used to think about Stuart?"

Still I'm not certain what he means, so I ask him, "Are you talking about the love part, or the other part?"

Then Hamzah surprises me when he asks, "Are they not the same when two people are the same?"


"And if I was like your Stuart, would you still think that I was rewarding you?" Hamzah turns his head to look at me, and almost in a whisper, he says, "I am like your Stuart, but I'm frightened that you don't find me attractive like you do him."

I smile at him. "A year ago I would have said I wasn't, but I can't do that now. Yes, I do find you attractive as I do Stuart, but I have a golden rule that I will never do anything with anyone who does not really want to do it with me. So I'm now going to tell you this... if there's any hint of rewarding me, I don't want it. I will be more hurt by that than I ever will by not doing anything."

Hamzah grins at me, "So you really do want me?"

I grin at him. "I'd be stupid not to. You're gorgeous. Sometimes I feel like kicking you out of the cab when I get worked up when I see you playing with yourself."

Hamzah giggles. "When is that?"

"When you turn over and pretend you're having a nap, and you're not."

His eyes are blazing with amusement when he says, "I feel like doing the same when you do it when you think I've gone to sleep. Have you been thinking about me when you're doing it?"

I grin at him. "Well, what else would I think about when your cute bottom is a few inches away from me?"

"Do you really like my bottom?"

I giggle. "I was admiring it when we were on the ferry and you were going to get me a sandwich. I thought then that you had a really cute bum that needed lots of kisses."

Hamzah's eyes widen. "Kisses!?"

"Uhuh... kisses. You're only a baby, so there isn't much else I could do to it."

Hamzah roars with laughter, and then suddenly stops. He looks into my eyes. I look into his. The hand that I'm holding relaxes and he unfurls our grip, and then, holding my wrist, he pulls my hand across him, over the softness of his thigh, and pushes it not too gently onto his raging passions. For a brief moment, while I'm gently caressing him, we stare into each other's eyes, and then he turns on his side facing me, wraps his arms tightly around my neck, closes his eyes, and his soft lips find mine. I release his raging passions, wrap my arms around him, and crush him to me as I explore the soft contours of his delicious body whilst our lips and tongues are performing the dance of love that always ends in Nirvana if two souls really are compatible.

My sun shall rise in the east,
So shall my heart be at peace.

My sun is close by my side,
And speaks in far ancient tongue.

Nirvana. It is welcomed with tears and kisses and love, and complete compatibility.

Just hold my hand and we're there;
Somehow we're going somewhere!

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