A Boy Named James,

by Jolyon Lewes

Chapter 4

November 1963

A rather curious relationship began to form between James and me. He didn't want anyone to know I was helping him with his physics so we never spoke about it within earshot of any other boys. Later it was biology as well as physics. He wasn't cheating, he just wanted to use my more advanced knowledge of the subjects to make more sense of the questions he'd been given for prep. He'd originally asked me to 'jot down the answers' but I soon stopped doing that. Instead I discussed the questions with him and explained a few things and let him compose the answers. To do this we had to meet somewhere in private so as his dormitory or the common room weren't suitable he came to my study-bedroom after school or in the evening in the hour before lights-out.

In my room we could have a cup of coffee or cocoa while we talked science and I discovered him to be polite, quietly-spoken and grateful, so different from the sneering, sarcastic youth I'd seen in earlier months. These little sessions were beginning to help my own studies because I'd swat up on the topic James would be asking me about and that helped me to understand it better.

Three days before the end of term the carol service took place. Most boys like a good sing-song and I enjoyed belting out the carols, especially my favourite, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, which has always sounded to me like a call to the pub. Of course the 'hard boys' hated to participate in such jollity so stood sullenly in a group. heads down, lips barely moving. James stood with them, his attractive face fixed in an ugly sneer.

Next day we held our last tutorial, as I was beginning to think of them. Up till then we hadn't spoken of personal matters so I had no idea where he lived or whether he had brothers or sisters. All I knew was that he liked rugby, loved cricket and was crazy about tennis. Before he left my room he had a question about my home life.

"I know you're not very sporty and nor are your brothers, so what do you do at home? Do you like cycling?"

"Well, this time of year it'll be board games and our railway layout. There's bound to be visits to relations too, cos my parents are moving to Germany next month. Yes, I do like cycling. Do you?"

"I don't have any brothers, Jolyon. For me it will be having to be polite at parties for grown-ups and visits to relations and church and probably the dentist. But I'll get a few games of squash and a few bike rides. Do you cycle by yourself or with your brothers?"

"By myself. Almost always."

"Me too, I'll think of you when I'm on my bike."

A strange, warm, tingly feeling rose in my chest when I heard those words. Beneath his 'hard man' image he was really a very nice boy.

On the last day of term the whole school gathered in the great hall for the traditional address by the Headmaster and the singing of the hymn God be With You Till We Meet Again . It was the signal for friends to look at each other. Usually I didn't look at anyone in particular but just this once I glanced over to where I knew James would be standing. As I'd expected he was standing motionless, his mouth firmly closed but he was looking intently at me! Disarmed, I hastily looked away but couldn't resist a sneaky look about twenty seconds later. He was still staring at me. Our eyes met and he gave the tiniest of smiles.

You won't be surprised to read that I made a couple of solo bike rides during the Christmas holidays. I thought of James and hoped he'd be thinking of me, as he'd promised. Yes, I wore my old Sunday suit but kept it concealed within cold-weather clothing until well clear of my house. I managed on each occasion about an hour of cycling with very bare legs but to be sensible I wore gloves and scarf and a bobble hat. In dry but freezing weather it was enervating, to say the least. I wished I was only fifteen, like James, and in his class and in his dorm but however hard I tried I'd never be any good at sport so he and his so-called friends would have no time for me and I'd be shunned. Maybe I was better off to be my actual age, seventeen, a prefect and part-time mentor to James.

It gave me a kick to know that pedalling along in my old Sunday suit I must have looked only about fourteen, my pale and hairless legs testament to my youth. A few drivers hooted their horns but nobody stopped to interrogate me and it was too cold for jeering youths to be about, so I was left to complete my dare in peace.

I wondered if James cycled about in shorts, maybe PE shorts or those highly revealing rugby shorts. Probably he was far too sensible and had proper clothing suitable for winter hill-walking or something similarly energetic. Maybe I'd find out next term, always assuming he still wanted my assistance with his sciences.

For the first time in my life, I looked forward to going back to school after the Christmas holidays. My parents drove my brothers and me back, our cabin trunks somehow crammed into the back of the little estate car and the boys were deposited at their boarding houses in time for them to have what was called supper. That left me in the senior school before the older boys arrived and of course one of them was James. He looked no happier than usual but at least managed to give me a little wave when he saw me and for a brief moment replaced his sneer for a little smile. He was surrounded by hard boys so I didn't go up to speak to him.

The term had begun on a Thursday so only two days later we boarders were all getting changed for Saturday afternoon games. I was doing cross-country which, although a repulsive activity, didn't involve being in a team so there was nobody to let down. James was in his rugby kit and his dark blue shorts looked more revealing than ever. To put it bluntly, they weren't big enough to cover the whole of his bottom. There'd be more teeth marks on that bottom before the day was out, I reckoned. As he wasn't allowed any form of underwear I wondered what arrangement, if any, he had for keeping things in order inside the front of his shorts. Several boys had PE shorts from which their wedding tackle made frequent escapes but the other rugby fanatics had shorts much longer than James's. Perhaps his wedding tackle was relatively undeveloped but as I'd never seen it I didn't know. Nonetheless, considering the way you get manhandled in rugby he must have been in almost mortal danger. I remembered that time he was hit in the balls by a cricket ball

I was glad James asked to continue our little physics tutorials and a couple of times a week he'd come up to my room with his books and I'd make some coffee and we'd spend maybe half an hour on the topic of the moment. He'd be taking his O Levels in the summer because, although he was only a Fourth-Former he was in the express stream and would miss out the Fifth Form altogether, going straight into the Sixth Form in September. He'd then be sixteen.

He was a bright boy and I don't know that he really needed my help but he seemed to like my company and over time I saw that his sneering, sarcastic attitude was just a facade, intended to make him appear streetwise and a bit of a yob and to fit in with the hard boys. Unlike a lot of other prefects I didn't ask him why he acted so obnoxiously, nor why he did stupid things that would get him caned. He began to tell me a bit about his home life. It didn't take me long to realise he was anything but streetwise. He didn't mention any friends at home but said he loved playing tennis. He usually played with his mother and two older sisters. My own problems in my early teens when I'd been teased and bullied had somehow turned me into a good listener. I suppose I assumed most boys had suffered like I had so needed a friendly person to speak to in confidence. I became that person for James and over the course of my life, to many more young people.

My parents moved to Germany for a couple of years. My brothers and I would go there for the main holidays but for half term holidays we'd be farmed out to various relations. The next half term break was in late February, around the time of my eighteenth birthday. I told James about Germany and how much I looked forward to going there, especially for the summer holidays. I was indeed looking forward to it as it meant no dreary English seaside holiday when I'd be forced to wear those horrible little khaki shorts. I didn't tell him a major attraction for me would be the sight of handsome German boys in those tiny leather shorts for which they were famous. James said he'd never been beyond England.

Our tutorials involved less and less science and became cosy chats. I made us coffee and toast and James became more and more relaxed in my company. With no need to consult text books he took to lying on my bed while I sat in a shabby old armchair I'd pinched from the common room. Out of the blue he asked me if I'd like to spend half term at his house. He'd already told me his parents were a bit formal but I had good table manners so that didn't bother me. I accepted his offer at once. James was intriguing me more and more and I could learn a lot about him if I stayed with him. His home wasn't far from Cambridge.

Next day one of my classmates said I looked like the cat that got the cream. I hadn't realised but my mood was much brighter than normal and I put it down to the exciting prospect of half term with James and with no hard boys for miles. I was falling under James's spell. From the moment he asked me to help him with his physics prep back in November it had been he who'd been calling the shots. Lying on my bed as we chatted, while I busied myself with the catering duties, he was acting the master with me as his servant.

I didn't realise any of this at the time, of course, and hung around with James's classmates, picking up the nicknames they had for each other and their curious expressions and mimicking their attitude to some of the more weird members of staff. I, a soon-to be-eighteen-year old, was choosing to mix with boys of fourteen and fifteen. It probably didn't look very clever.

On the Sunday before half term James asked if he could come up to my room at about eight for a chat. I was surprised not to see him in chapel that evening but went up to my room immediately after the service, got my coffee percolator going, sat at my desk and waited for my beautiful young guest. It wasn't long before I heard footsteps rushing up the stairs. There was a knock on my door and in came a breathless James. He was in PE kit.

"I've been for a run and it was dark and I didn't see the brambles. Look, I've got a big scratch."

He'd turned side-on and pulled up the right leg of his shorts. I found myself staring at his right hip and at a red gash starting about five inches below his waist and slanting down to just below where his bottom met his thigh. I could see some blood.

"Horrible!" I said. "Is it hurting badly?"

"Not now but it did when I ran into the damned stuff."

"I'll clean it up a bit," said I, grabbing some tissues. "You'd better stay standing and I'll sit on my chair. Hold your shorts as high as you can."

I set to work on James's wounded flesh. Apart from the occasional shake of the hand I'd never before touched him and now I was about as up close and personal as it was possible to be. I could hardly believe I had both hands on his right buttock and with his full consent. He flinched a couple of times as I attended to his wound. I didn't have an Elastoplast long enough to cover the scratch but the bleeding had stopped so all I needed to do was to clean the affected area with some wet tissue and then to pat it dry, which I did, lovingly. Then I applied a little Germolene ointment and that made him flinch again. When I'd finished he released the leg of his shorts, which covered only the upper half of the gash.

"Thanks, Jolyon, you'd make a great doctor," said James as he perched on the edge of my bed. That coffee smells nice."

"You really should wear something more substantial if you're going to go running about in the dark," I said.

"These shorts give terrific freedom of movement, much more than the Victorian things you wear!"

My PE shorts reached nowhere near mid-thigh. I didn't think they looked remotely Victorian.

"You weren't in chapel," I said, changing the subject and pouring the coffee.

"Couldn't be bothered. Thought a run would do me more good. You won't tell on me, will you?"

"Course not, James. I hope no-one else will or it could be another caning. Why don't you sit properly on my bed? Fancy a Jaffa cake?"

"Yes, please. And thanks for being so decent."

"It's only a Jaffa cake, James."

"No, I mean thanks for the way you handled my scratch. Most boys would've tried to give me a grope."

"Would they?" I felt my hard-on stiffening. I was reminded of the time Martin had told me how some boys would try to stroke his bare thighs. I wondered if these boys were the same ones who were after James's wonderful thighs.

"It's not just boys at school," said James, "but I get it at home as well! You'll see why when you come to my place for half term."

A question was begging but before I could ask it James had more to say.

"Yeah, and one boy in the rugby set even likes to sink his teeth into my bum! Not to draw blood, mind you."

"Crikey!" I said, not prepared to say I'd already heard of this activity. "Maybe you should wear longer shorts."

"If I did he'd probably wait till I was getting changed and then go for me. Or he could just pull my shorts off in the scrum. It does happen, you know."

"Crikey!" I repeated, wondering whether I should spend more time watching rugby. "What's this bugger's name?"

"Orford, the bloke that looks like a lorry driver. Ugly as sin."

I knew who he was talking about. "Yes, I know who he is and I think you're insulting lorry drivers - he's hideous!"

The thought of that monster getting anywhere James's bottom filled me with revulsion but before I could say that James stood up, moved close to me and pulled up the right leg of his shorts, revealing a hefty portion of his buttock.

"Has that scratch stopped bleeding?" he said. "I can't see it myself."

"Yes," I said, my willy now frantic with excitement. "Looks horrible but all dry now. You could say it's another cane mark."

"Could do, but the hard boys would probably want to lick it."

He let go of the hem of his shorts and turned to face me, then took two paces back. Standing with feet slightly apart, he put his arms by his side and looked down at me as I sat on my chair in an ever increasing state of agitation which I hoped he wouldn't notice. The palms of his hands rested on bare thigh, the hems of his shorts level with his wrists. He looked slightly worried.

"Some boys say I've got good legs. Do you think I've got good legs, Jolyon?"

What could I say? I was looking at the most stunning pair of legs I was ever likely to see. Neither skinny nor chunky but perfectly proportioned, entirely hairless with skin as smooth as glass and just a hint of last year's tan-line an inch or so below the hems of the white cotton PE shorts.

I tried to be non-committal. "They're a bloody sight better than mine."

"How would I know?" said James, smiling at last. "I hardly ever see you in shorts and when I do you're in those floppy pantaloon things. Maybe I'll get you in proper shorts at half term and then we'll see."

"Some chance!" I said, laughing. "Look, it's nearly ten. You'd better get to your dorm."

After James had left my room I wondered if by what he'd called my decency I had condemned myself to never being able to touch him. And if I did touch him would he shun me and terminate our friendship? Or, by saying how other boys liked his legs and enjoyed groping his legs, was he daring me to do something I'd later regret? Oh, seeing him sitting so winsomely on my bed, how I would love to have given him a gentle grope! I concluded that I'd just have to admire his beauty from a distance. I knelt by my bed and sniffed the depression he'd made by sitting there. It smelt faintly of Germolene.

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