Losing Tim

by Nigel Gordon

Chapter 7

Black Country 1963

I had maintained a strict separation between my growing involvement with Timmy from Chris and the world of boy sex for money that I inhabited with him. This was never a conscious decision on my part, it was something that just happened. It was as if I somehow felt that the two worlds were not compatible.

In the weeks that followed until the end of term, my relationship with Timmy deepened. A couple of times he stayed overnight. Once after the Scouts' Swimming Gala, where I came first in the under fifteen backstroke and Timmy was second in the under thirteen freestyle. The other time was when Bill, Timmy's father was taken ill and rushed to hospital. Timmy was down with us, I was helping him finish a model for his science project and his mother phoned from the hospital and asked if he could stay. He ended up being with us for three nights.

Although we were very affectionate with each other frequently giving each other hugs and often in the evening lying together on the settee, my arms around him, as we watched TV, there was nothing overtly sexual in our relationship. Yes, we frequently showered together but that was more a case of saving time and saving hot water, of which there was a limited supply.

I, of course, was fully aware of sex and male sexuality but it was something that was outside my relationship with Timmy. Sex and the whole of that scene was something from my life with Chris, which I was keeping well clear of Timmy. For Timmy, the idea of some form of sexual involvement with me just did not occur, though we had talked about sex. That was only to be expected, he was experiencing puberty and though he had two older brothers they were both much older and neither now living at home. I filled in the part of the older brother for him who could inform and advise about those embarrassing things that he could not talk to his parents about. Though I did get the impression that he was able to talk to his parents, especially his father, a lot more and a lot freer than I could, at times I found myself wishing that I had had somebody like myself around when I was at that stage of development.

It was of course not totally possible to keep the two worlds apart and at times one did intrude upon the other. At first, it was simple matters of timing which caused problems, like Jock wanting me to go to a client who had specifically asked for me on a Saturday afternoon when Timmy wanted me to take him to the pictures. Availability issues were never a problem with Jock, if you let him know you would not be around on a certain day, he would give no problems. Timmy though always wanted to know why I could not go with him and where was I going. That became somewhat difficult to deal with, well you can't really tell your twelve-year-old friend that you are going off to suck some blocks cock, can you?

One Saturday morning I had arranged to go into Wolverhampton with Timmy, I needed to get some Uranium Salts for my photography and Timmy just wanted to tag along. Generally, I was careful never to go anywhere with Timmy where there was a possibility of bumping into any of Jock's boys in general or Chris in particular. I was rather perturbed, therefore, to come out of the photographic store and walk almost straight into Chris and Terry who were getting off the bus from Stourbridge. I knew that they had a regular client over there but also that they usually got picked up from and taken back to West Bromwich by car. Though there had been at least one occasion when I also knew that had not happened. I had never thought though that they might come into Wolverhampton, the logical way back for them would have been Dudley then to West Bromwich.

"What 'uo doing 'ere?" I asked. Chris looked at me a bit puzzled and I realised I had dropped into the local accent, something I usually avoided.

"Worked late, only just finished and got another job in Walsall this afternoon." That explained why they were coming through Wolverhampton. Chris looked at Timmy. "Who's this?" For some reason, I felt reluctant to divulge any information about Timmy, at least to Chris.

"Family friend, he's staying with us for the weekend." Anyway, that statement was true, Timmy was staying with us that weekend, his father was back in hospital and my father did know his father, so they were family friends. "Anyway, sorry can't stay to chat, we have to meet his brother and we're already late."

That though was only partially true, yes one of the reasons he had come into Wolverhampton with me was so he could see his oldest brother who worked on a market stall every Saturday in the indoor market, there was though no set time for us to see him, we could have turned up anytime between eight and four and he would have been there. As it was though it gave me an excuse to get away and I quickly ushered Timmy down the street, Chris called after me that he would see me at Jock's tomorrow. Shit, I had forgotten about that, I'd agreed to do a show for Jock, and it was tomorrow afternoon, that was before Timmy's father had gone into hospital. I went into the first phone box I found, leaving Timmy outside wondering what was up, and phoned Jock to explain that a family situation had cropped up and I would not be available tomorrow.

After that, we proceeded down to the market Timmy wanted to know what that had all been about.

"Who were those boys?"

"Oh, some friends."

"Yea but which friends?"

"That was Chris and Terry."

"The Chris you spend so much time with?"


"I don't like him."

"You don't know him." If I had my way he never would.

"No, but he looked at me funny." I knew exactly how funny that look had been, Chris had virtually been undressing Timmy with his eyes in the street. For the first time ever, I felt uncomfortable about something Chris had been doing.

That evening mother suggested that as Timmy was going to be with us for a couple of days it might be a good idea to finish setting up my darkroom in the coal shed. We had finished painting it matt black the previous weekend and dad had got one of his mates to put an electric supply and water in for me. Now all I had to do was move all my photographic gear from the built-in cupboard in my room to the coal shed.

After tea, we watched the Avengers then played chess in my room till it was time for bed. Actually, it was well past Timmy's bedtime when he went to the spare room. I got changed into my pyjamas and slipped into bed drifting quickly into sleep, only to be woken, what seemed like a moment later, by Timmy bouncing on my bed telling me to get up. I looked at the clock and saw it was half-past eight.

"Cum on, get up, your mother's cooking breakfast." I wondered what was up; we never had a cooked breakfast on Sunday, at least only when there was something special and as far as I knew nothing special was planned for today. Grabbing my dressing gown from the chair by my bed I pulled it on, drawing it round myself as I got out of bed, effectively hiding my erection that was tenting my pyjamas from Timmy. It was a totally illogical action, Timmy had seen me get erections a number of times, when we were in the shower together and when we were changing at the baths, never had he made any comment about them or given any sign of noticing them. I quickly made my way to the bathroom and had a piss, which got rid of the erection and a quick wash, then returned to the bedroom to dress. Timmy was still sitting on the edge of my bed looking at me.

I put my dressing gown back on the chair, then dropped my pyjama trousers, did not wear a top, and kicked them onto the bed. Timmy grabbed them and started to fold them. I pulled some clean pants from the draw and put them on and proceeded to dress in what I had been wearing yesterday. Looking back at it now the whole thing was stupid, I was embarrassed to let him see my morning erection but had no problem stripping off and dressing in front of him.

When I got downstairs to the kitchen, with Timmy close behind me, mother was just dishing up a breakfast of bacon, eggs, tomato, fried bread, black pudding and mushrooms. I asked what was special, she then informed me that she and dad were going to visit my Aunty Rhoda, who was not well. It was about an hour and a half drive away and they would be gone most of the day. Mother said that breakfast would keep us going till they got back as dinner would not be till late. She also told me she had made up some pancake mix so I could do us some lunch while they were away.

Once my parents had left, we got down to setting up my darkroom. First, we had to move a table and a set of shelves from the workshop to the darkroom so that I would have something put my stuff on. Then we had to move the stuff from my bedroom cupboard to the darkroom and sort it out so that I could use it in situation. The main problem was the enlarger, it was big and heavy and to move it we had to totally disassemble it then carry it down part by part and reassemble it in the darkroom.

In all, it took us most of the morning.

I cooked the pancakes for lunch and then we went up to my room to finish tidying it up.

One of the main reasons my mother had wanted the stuff moved outside to the darkroom was so I would have the cupboard back to store stuff in. My room was littered with shoeboxes full of negatives, piles of magazines and books. My father had got a set of metal shelves which just fit into the cupboard and after lunch, we spent a good hour putting them together in situ. Then it was a case of moving all the stuff that was lying about onto the shelves.

Timmy was picking up the boxes of negatives and placing them on the shelves, I was pulling piles of magazines out from under my bed to put onto the shelves. As I did so I fell back bumping into Timmy who flew forward dropping the box he was carrying which fell and burst open spilling negatives over the floor. Timmy bent down to start to pick them up then stopped, eyes wide open.

"But that's..."

Of all the boxes that had to be dropped it had to be that one. Of all the people to drop it and then pick up the negatives, it had to be Timmy. Most people when faced with a negative, especially when it is encased in a negative strip filing sheet, cannot make out the image without a lot of careful study. There is a knack that photographers develop of being able to convert a negative image into a positive image just looking at it. In the last few weeks, Timmy had been helping me with my photographic processing and printing, he had clearly developed the knack quite quickly.

"Yes, it's Chris." I knew without looking what he was looking at, it was a series of nudes I had taken of Chris a few months ago. We had talked about selling copies to some of his clients, they were quite suggestive, but somehow, I never got around to printing any off. It was as if I did not want to share my image of him.

"He's beautiful." It was a simple comment. Timmy bent over and picked up the negative filing sheets and put them back in the box, then came over and knelt down by me. "Is that how you want to photograph me?"

I looked at him, questioningly. In the last few weeks, I had taken a number of photos of Timmy. Recently without his shirt on swinging on a rope swing from the branch of a tree in Kings Hill Park or lying on the grass sunbathing. Also, I had done some of him in his swimming trunks when we had been to the swimming hole over in Moxley. It had never occurred to ask him to pose nude for me but now he mentioned it the idea appealed.

"Would you like to be photographed like that?" He thought for a moment, then nodded.

"If you were taking the photos, yes, so long as they are just for you."

"They would be."

"So, do you want to do it?" he asked, standing up and starting to take off his shirt, I grabbed my camera and started to take shots whilst he undressed. Then proceeded to take a sequence of what I think were the best nude shots I ever took. They were not suggestive or erotic, they were just Timmy. I took photo after photo until I ran out of film, then reloaded and took a whole set more, until I had no film left to reload with. I total I must have taken over two hundred photos, photos which nobody but Timmy and me ever saw. I think he only looked at them once and that was when we developed the film later that day.

After we had finished, we went back up to my room, I carefully filed the negatives away and put the box back on the shelf. Shutting the cupboard, I went and sat on the bed, Timmy came and sat beside me.

"Well, am I better than Chris?"

"You're nothing like Chris; I can't begin to compare you."

"You seem to prefer him to me."

"No, it's not that simple, things are different with Chris than they are with you. I've known Chris longer and we do things to together that I don't do with you."

"Like sex?" I must have looked surprised because he laughed at me. "You know before they moved out, I shared a bedroom with my brothers. When they were your age, they used to play around with each other when they thought I was asleep."

"Yes, I have sex with Chris."

"What about the other boy?"

"Yes, with Terry and there are some others too."

"But not with me." That was a statement.

"No, do you want to have sex?"

"I don't know. I like it when I am naked with you, and I like it when you are holding me but I'm not sure about the other stuff, it seems gross." I put my arm around him and drew him up against me. He leaned back on me and I fell back onto the bed, with a load of Timmy in my arms. For a moment or two we lay there, then we sorted ourselves out and lay side by side on the bed, my arm under his neck, his head resting on my shoulder.

"That's fine. You're my friend, a special friend, we do things together and we help each other. I don't need to have sex with you, if I want sex there are Chris and Terry and a whole load of men, I can have sex with. I don't need you for sex, I need you for being Timmy."

"But Chris will give you something I don't, and he might take you away from me."

"No, he won't."

"I keep thinking that he will, that I'll lose you because of him." I shook my head in disbelief not knowing then how close he was to the truth.

London 1966

It was through James that I was introduced to Alfie. He was one of those people who always seemed to be around but was always on the edge of the group, never really part of it. We had been at Sheba's and James invited everybody back to his place for drinks. For some reason, he was not going back to the country seat this weekend.

Six of us piled into Alfie's two plus two sports car making our way from the Haymarket up to Edgeware Road, followed by a couple of taxies with the rest of the crowd in them. Paul Dulce, who acted as some sort of secretary to James was with us as was his girlfriend. We had not been at the flat for more than about fifteen minutes when the phone rang, James asked Paul to get it. He went out into the hall coming back a few moments later.

"My Lord, it's your mother." James' face went ashen and a quiet fell upon the whole party. James went out and took the call. There was a strange emptiness about the whole room, and I felt that something was very wrong but did not know what. After a couple of minutes, James returned and walked over to Alfie.

"Alfie, Peter's got a place in Islington, could you take him home please, it will be a devil's job to get a taxi to go there this time." He then turned to me, "Sorry Pete, I have to get back to the old pile, Mother is sending a car for me, it should be here in an hour." It looked as if he was on the verge of tears. Alfie came over and quickly ushered me out. Once we were down at the car, I asked him what was going on.

"His father and brother are dead." It was a simple statement, but I was shocked.

"How do you know, he did not say anything?"

"Paul called him My Lord. For James to have that title both his father and brother must have died. Come on we better get you home." I told him where I lived; it turned out to be just around the corner from where he lived with his partner. However, they lived on one of the more fashionable squares rather than on one of the back streets. He asked if he could come in for a coffee, said he did not want to go back home smelling of drink. I said yes and he followed me up to my bed-sit. As he came in, he saw the photo of Timmy I had on my wall, it was one of him shirtless, reaching up to catch the swing rope as it swung back into place. For a moment he stood looking at the photo then asked who had taken it. I told him I had. He asked if I had any more, he could look at.

So, I made some coffee and pulled out a portfolio of photos I had put together in the hope of applying to Art School, a distant hope I had found that yes, I could get in but there was no funding available for the courses I wanted to do. Over coffee, Alfie sat leafing through the portfolio.

"These are bloody good, they all your own work?" I nodded. "Look, kid, I know what you are," well who didn't in that crowd, "but these are bloody good, and I could get you some work if you wanted it."

"What sort of work?"

"Photographic, I'm I fixer." I looked at him blankly not knowing what the term meant. Alfie noticed. "I work in the independent film sector, if somebody wants something for a production, I find it for them, if they have a problem, I sort it out, all for a fee of course.

"There are a lot of people in the industry who need good photos, but they can't afford the prices the big boys charge and let's be honest what most high street studios turn out is crap. If you can take photos like this, you can do better than them. I can set up the customers for you and sort out the location and fees, all you need to do is take the photos. Deal?" I nodded.

Actually, it took a bit more time to sort things out, Alfie came around the following morning, just after I got up, and sat down with me to go through the costs so he could work out how much to charge. Fortunately, I had the use of the darkroom at the publishers where I worked, when it was free, which was most of the time. So long as I supplied my own chemicals and materials, I could use it as much as I wanted. In fact, Mr Paul, the boss's son, often asked me to develop films and print films for him that he did not want his father, who was the main photographer as well as the owner, to see. Having seen those photos, I could well understand why.

Alfie told me that I needed to put together a portfolio of work that he could show round. We spent some time selecting images from the collection I had, though he insisted that I had to get them all made up as ten by eights and I had to include the picture of Timmy. I told him that it would take some time to sort that out as most of the negatives were up at my parents. He told me there was no rush as it would take him a few weeks to get the word out in the right quarters.

The following day I was able to read in the Sunday papers the details of the accident that had killed James's father and brother. His other brother had died earlier in the year following complications after an appendix removed. Late that afternoon a telegram arrived:

Letter and funds on its way. Get Friday off. I need you. James."

On Tuesday a letter came by first post arriving just as I was leaving for work, taking it with me to read on the Tube as I travelled into the West End, I found it contained ten five pounds notes, a letter telling me to get myself a black suit and tie and to meet James at his flat on Friday at eight a.m., with suit and tie. I guessed this was for the funeral.

When I got to James's flat on the Friday, I did not know what to expect. Paul let me in and told me that James was in the dressing room. James was sitting by the window, he looked awful. I went over and put my hand on his shoulder, he turned and looked up and me, giving me a weak smile.

"Thanks for coming. I wasn't sure if you would."

"What! After everything you have done for me, of course, I would come."

"Sorry it's just everybody seems to be avoiding me at the moment."-

"Well, Paul is not avoiding you."

"It's his job to be here, I suspect he would rather be a long way away if he could."

"Then it is just as well that I am here. Now let's get you sorted out, what is happening today?" I had guessed it was the funeral but there had been no announcements of it in the Times or so far as I knew anywhere else, only the briefest notice of the deaths.

"They are being cremated at ten thirty, strictly a private ceremony, it was my father's instructions. There'll be just mother, my sister Agatha, you have met them both, Justin's wife, a widow now and his daughter and John's wife."

"What about your grandfather?"

"He's too ill to travel, had a seizure when they gave him the news."

With the help of Paul, I managed to get James cleaned up and properly dressed for the funeral. A car arrived at nine-thirty and Paul, James and I were driven to the family London house in Russell Square. There a small cortege assembled which then proceeded to Golders Green Crematorium. The service was quick and efficient, soon we were all on our way back to Russell Square. There we all got out of the car, apparently, we had to make our own way back to James's flat.

James went over to speak to his mother, from what I could see she appeared to be asking him to come in with her, but he was clearly declining. Agatha came over to me and asked me to look after him and said he was taking it hard. At the time I did not understand why James had not gone into the Russell Square house with his mother, it was only years later I learnt that at seventeen James had a massive argument with his Grandfather when he refused to go to Sandhurst and into the family regiment. The argument had ended with his Grandfather informing him that he should leave the house and not return until he was prepared to do his duty. As far as I know, James never did return to that house, when the old man died, he sold it and it is now part of the University.

James, Paul and I started to walk up Tavistock Street towards Euston Road. James seemed to be a bit of a zombie but when we got to Euston Road he turned to Paul and told him to go home to his girlfriend. Paul looked a bit doubtful, but James added that he would be all right as he had me with him. With that Paul turned and made his way up to St Pancras, James hailed a taxi and we set off for Edgeware Road.

When we got to Edgeware Road, I settled James down in the living room and went into the kitchen. It was past one and I was fairly sure James had not eaten any breakfast, so I whilst the tea was brewing, I knocked up a couple of plain omelettes for the two of us. Fortunately, James's housekeeper kept the larder well stocked with the essentials.

After we had eaten James said he wanted to lie down for a bit. I was not surprised as I had gathered from Paul that he had hardly slept since he got the news of the deaths. I went through with him to the bedroom and helped him undress and get into bed, just as I was about to leave, he asked me to get in and hold him. So, I stripped and crawled in beside him taking him in my arms. He put his arms around me and hugged me for a moment and thanked me for being there. Then he started to sob, it was as if he had finally decided to open a door to the pain and anguish of the last week and let it out. The sobs gave way to floods of tears as I held him and gently comforted him. Eventually, the tears subsided, and I held him as he drifted into sleep. I must have drifted off as well for the next thing I was aware of was the newspaper vendors calling the late edition for the Evening News.

I was about to disentangle myself from James's arms when he opened his eyes and looked at me.

"Leaving me?"

"I need to piss my Lord".

"Don't call me my Lord, especially when your fucking me."

"Am I fucking you?"

"I sincerely hope so, I want that in me now."

I spent the next half hour obliging his Lordship then we went for a shower together before going out for a meal. Fortunately, I had had the foresight to bring a bag with me with a couple of changes of clothes in it, in the expectation I would probably be there overnight if not for the weekend.

In the end, I did stay for the weekend and obliged his Lordship by fucking him a number of times. I think in those three days we had more sex together than we had had in the whole of the previous year. What neither of us could know at the time was that it would be the last time we had sex together.

Over the weekend James opened up to me how the death of his brother had destroyed his plans. He told me that he had wanted to be a medical researcher and indeed had got a job offer to go and work in Denmark, he would have been going in the new year. He also told me that he had been going to ask me to go with him saying that I could have been his secretary. Now he had to stay in England and run the estate, also he would have to marry and get a son so the title could continue.

I told him what Alfie had to say about my photography and the possibility of work. James looked worried about that.

"Peter, be careful of Alfie."

"Why is he a danger?"

"Alfie's not and if he says he can get you work he will be, it's just that some of his friends are not very nice. In fact, some of them can be downright nasty."

Sunday James had to leave for the estate, but he said he would be back midweek and we arranged to meet up on Friday. I went with him in the cab to Euston, he was talking again about going to Denmark, trying to work out a way that he could make it happen, he again mentioned me going with him. I did not have the heart to tell him that would not happen, there was no way I was going to leave Timmy.

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