A Boy Named James,

by Jolyon Lewes

Chapter 20

Autumn 1965

Back in Wolverhampton, I had a horrible, empty feeling. I was unable to get out of my head my last sight of James, giving me that sad little wave before rejoining the others in the narrow boat. I wrote to him, saying how much I'd loved my couple of days on the boat with him and suggesting a meeting, somewhere, around Christmas. I said I hoped he'd enjoy his final year at school and looked forward to hearing any news. My parents were due to return home from Germany in a few months time and I gave him our home address.

Sad though I was, I was motivated to do well in my job. I needed to repay James's father and Dr Leahy for their faith in me and getting me the job in the first place and I needed to show my parents I wasn't a complete waste of space. The firm offered me day release to attend a local college one day a week in order to gain paper qualifications that would lead to promotion and more pay. The biggest motivation of all involved, inevitably, James. If I could earn enough to take driving lessons and buy a car, my dream of taking him to the Black Forest might be realised.

He wrote to me at my digs just before he went back to school.

I've played tennis with Sam (very nice) and with Sarah (utterly terrifying). CPS came for supper and looked very annoyed that I wasn't in shorts but the next day I had to wear the Continental suit to the dentist! My mother thinks you have to dress smartly not just for church but also for the doctor and dentist but not for the barber, thank God! I'm positive the dentist was having naughty thoughts about me.

I meant it when I said you've got smashing legs and I hope you'll wear the old prep school shorts I gave you, if only in private. You won't be surprised to know I still have to wear them at home most days. They're getting tighter and tighter and I hope I can destroy them all before long. The sooner the better. Yesterday the Rashleigh kids came to tea and saw me in my little grey shorts. Sarah kept patting my thighs, like she does and the Runt teased me nonstop. It was excruciating

Back to school tomorrow and I'm actually looking forward to it but it won't be the same without you. Hope you're still getting naughty thoughts.

I replied at once, writing to him at school. I said reading his letter gave me very naughty thoughts and that I was jealous of his dentist. I said I'd retrieve my old Sunday suit when my parents were back in England and I promised to wear it on a future adventure but only if he wore his Continental suit too.

It was a month before I heard from him again. It was a short letter and he mentioned rugby but not much else. I got the impression he was depressed. He'd be going home for half term soon and I wondered if there were horrors ahead, like a fancy dress party, supper at the Rashleighs or a night with CPS.

He didn't reply to my next letter and I grew very worried. Had he found another best friend? In desperation I wrote to his father, ostensibly to tell him how my career was progressing but really to learn what James was up to.

Mr Ellis was kind enough to reply but all I learnt about James was that he was enjoying his rugby and had a busy social programme at Christmas, what with a grand ball at the Rashleighs and a dinner dance for the young of the County Set somewhere else. I could see poor James dreading it all.

Then I received a postcard from James.

Sorry, Jolyon but it's going to be difficult for me to meet you at Christmas. James

Was I being given the heave-ho? I suspected as much. He'd addressed me as Jolyon, not Jols. With only a few days leave at Christmas it was impractical for me to visit my family in Germany and I had been hoping for an invitation to James's, even for just a couple of days. I'd kept in touch with my trusted friend Pete and was pathetically grateful to be invited to his home in Coventry from Christmas Eve to the day after Boxing Day.

Without Pete's kindness I'd have spent the loneliest and most miserable Christmas ever. He sympathised with me when I told him I thought James had left my life but there wasn't much he could suggest that might help me.

Winter/Spring 1966

At work, people were friendly - well the West Midlands are known to be one of the friendliest regions in the country - and my career was progressing. I had a small pay rise in time for my twentieth birthday but I had no social life. I watched TV with my landlady or played my classical LPs in my bedroom. I was becoming a fan of the BBC Home Service, which had some excellent comedy programmes. I'd found the grey cord shorts that James had burst out of back in February and took them to bed every night for a cuddle. I told myself they still smelt of James.

As the year went on I achieved a few aims. I learnt to drive and passed my test. I was promoted to the next grade of research assistant. I made friends at last with my father when I visited my family, now back in England. I secretly removed my old Sunday suit from my old bedroom and took it to my digs. I was amazed and a bit thrilled to find it still fitted. The shorts seemed shorter than ever. I'd sometimes sit in my bedroom in my Sunday suit and imagine James was sitting beside me in his Continental suit and I'd have pretend conversations with him. It gave me many naughty thoughts.

Time passed. In 1967 I bought an old and rather dilapidated car. It was pretty unreliable but gave me the feeling of independence I'd long been craving. A year later I upgraded to a second hand Morris Mini Traveller.

I'd joined the school Old Boys Association on leaving the school and treasured the Summer 1966 edition of the magazine for it had a photo of the School Tennis Team. James was standing holding his racquet in shorts of truly sensational brevity. Even though we'd lost contact it was nice to know that he still hadn't graduated to shorts of a more normal length.

It was through the Old Boys Association that I heard about the 1968 Reunion Dinner and that he'd booked to attend it.

September 1968

Having left the reunion early because I was so disappointed that James wasn't there, I returned to my B & B in the village and climbed the stairs to my bedroom. Opening the door of the darkened room I was baffled to hear music playing. I must have left my transistor radio switched on. I put the light on and there, lying on one of the twin beds, was a young man. It was James!

"Is it you?" I gasped. "James?"

"Who else?" he replied, with the sweetest of smiles. He was in a polo shirt and extremely brief, fawn-coloured shorts. "Are you pleased to see me?"

He stood up, tugged down on his hems and looked me up and down.

"Pleased? I can't believe it! And you've hardly changed at all!"

It's true; at twenty he was the same, beautiful James he'd been at seventeen. No taller, no stouter and he didn't even look as if he needed to shave.

"And you look pretty good, too," he said. "Come here, Jols!"

We met in an urgent and passionate hug, our cheeks touching and arms tightly around each other. I squeezed and he squeezed and it was the most wonderful feeling I'd ever known.

"You've got a hell of a lot of explaining to do!" I said. "For nearly three years I've been wondering what happened to you."

"Don't know where to start. I'll give you a clue. Sarah Rashleigh. I've got some wine here so let's sit down and talk."

I had to sit down as I was feeling dizzy. I was too excited for words.

"I've been keeping up with you but at a distance, Jols. My father tells me how you're getting on at work and Gus Harrington, the Under Bursar here, is a friend of mine and knows about you and me. He knew I had no intention of going to the reunion so putting my name down tor it was really to trap you into coming and when he told me you'd booked I was so happy. It was his idea. He arranged this accommodation for us but kept it secret from you that I'd be booked in here as well."

"We owe him, then," I said.

"Yeah, definitely. He likes a bit of a grope, does Gus."

"I know, he did a bit on me when I was a new boy."

"Did he?" said James. "Must have been your smashing legs, Jols. He did a bit on me in my last year here. He'd just become Under Bursar and is keen on squash so we played together and afterwards he did a bit of groping. Nothing more, mind."

"It helps to have friends in high places. Are you going to tell me what happened to you?"

"It's a long and horrible story of blackmail, lust and lies. I'll start with the good bits. I saw you looking at my left hand and no, I'm not married and I haven't caught a nasty disease. I'm about to start my third year at Bristol. My parents are well and my sisters are both happily married.

"Now for the bad bits. You remember my mother was hoping I'd make a match with Sarah Rashleigh?"

"How could I forget?"

"Yeah, well, Sarah's parents were very keen and so was she. I hated the idea. You saw how she treated me, like a plaything. If we'd married you can guess who'd be wearing the trousers."

"Yes, you'd definitely be in shorts, full time."

"Ha ha, very funny, Jols. Well, that Christmas of 1965 I had lots of parties to attend and dances and awful things like that and every time I had to partner Sarah. People kept asking me why I wasn't in micro-shorts and she'd say although I didn't look it I'd soon be eighteen. Then there was a lunchtime drinks party and I had to wear the bloody Continental suit so that got Sarah slapping my thighs and her little brother the Runt going round saying I liked wearing short shorts because I was queer.

"Lady Rashleigh got to hear about this and decided on drastic action. During the Easter holidays she invited me for tennis and to stay the night. I thought I'd have one of their many spare bedrooms but I had to share with Sarah! Needless to say, I couldn't do anything and it was the worst night of my life. Sarah must have spoken to her brother because he started going round saying I had a tiny penis and was incapable of making love. Soon I was the laugh of the county and I couldn't wait to get back to school."

"This is shocking stuff," I said. "I wish I'd known. I'd have killed the Runt."

"No need for that, he was convicted of criminal damage to a library and now he's doing two years in borstal. He's so pretty he probably gets raped on a daily basis.. More wine, Jols?"

He stood up, tugged down on his hems and went to get the bottle.

"I see you still tug down on your hems when you get to your feet."

"It's a habit I can't get out of, even when it's not necessary, like with slightly longer shorts like these."

"Well, it's a very endearing habit, James."

He filled our glasses and sat down again. "I wanted to get in touch with you, Jols but my mother said let things cool down a bit. We knew you were safe and that your parents had come home again. The Runt was going around saying I had a boyfriend two years older than me and some people knew it was you. It was all very depressing.

"Despite all this I still had to go to tennis things in the summer holidays and Sarah still wanted to partner me but not in bed, thank God. I even had to wear the Continental suit once more, at a function in our garden like Joan's twenty-first and sure enough, bloody CPS was there. I was eighteen!

"Oh and another thing. Two of the photos taken at that bloody prize-giving ended up in Tatler . In case you don't know, it's a magazine for people like the Rashleighs, full of articles about high society. There was a big photo and a little photo. Guess who was in the big one."

"Might it have been you and Sarah?"

"Absolutely right! It took up half a page! We're doing that silly twirl. My parents bought a copy and kept it on the coffee table for over a year to show guests. Oh God, I knew those starched shorts were revealing but I'd no idea just how revealing!

"It gets worse. Someone recognised my school blazer and the bloody magazine found its way to the Senior Common Room at school. You can imagine the comments I got!"

I wanted to ask James if he had the photo to show me but thought better of it and let him carry on.

"I got very depressed but next thing was university and it was a breath of fresh air. Nobody knew me there and I didn't have to go to functions I didn't want to. I've made a few friends there but no-one's very special. Oh and Sarah's married some bloke who owns lots of land. I've never forgotten you and you are very special. The last time we spoke, by the narrow boat, I said you were very precious to me and I meant it. And you still are. Well you have me back?"

"You mean we can see each other again?" I said. I was in a state of great excitement. James smiled at me and nodded.

"My parents have given me their blessing. They're very fond of you."

"Fantastic!" I said. "I've got a car and Bristol's not far from Wolverhampton. There's a new motorway being built - we could meet every weekend!"

"Steady on, Jols, I've taken up golf and still play lots of tennis. But once a month, does that sound doable? We could go to places where nobody knows us. And no grown-ups, of course."

"Yes, yes, let's do it!" I said.

"Am I forgiven?" said James, pretending to look sad. "I have sinned against you and I must atone for it. I can scourge my flesh by wearing my horrible tweed shorts and letting you see me in them."

The thought of seeing James fidgeting and scratching in that fearsome tweed brought on a wave of Schadenfreude and in no time I had a hard-on.

"You can wear them on our trip to the Black Forest," I said, "and you can bring your little brown micro-shorts for when we go out to restaurants."

"Your wish is my command," said a beaming James.

"I see your legs are as gorgeous as ever and still with not a hair to be seen. I'm in urgent need of a grope."

"And I can see you're having very naughty thoughts, my sweet Jols. Come and sit beside me."

"Thank you, my sweet boy."

How wonderful it was to feel that lovely, smooth skin beneath my fingers again. We agreed we'd need only one bed that night.

"It would be nice to get hold of Gus Harrington tomorrow and buy him a beer or two to thank him," said James.

"Yes, I'm in no hurry to leave. I hope he won't want a grope as well."

"Jols, yours are the only hands I want touching my body."


Our trip to the Black Forest took place in 1970 and was a great success. James did indeed wear his tweed shorts when so instructed. For once it was I who called the shots. There was much spilling of seed in my little pup tent.

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