Blessed Be the Merciful

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 4

Sally always did the fetching and carrying to Jamie's school. The family car was looking its age these days, but finances were never going to stretch to one of those smart Peugeot Estates one of the parishioners had, and parked it ostentatiously in the lane by the church lychgate rather than in the designated car park behind, the land generous given by the farmer next door who thought that the gift might ensure his place in heaven. Sally knew that such an indulgence would never work, but the gift was very acceptable.

She had pressed Peter's school shorts that morning and transformed them from a creased bundle he had extracted from his official school rucksack hurried filled with the wrong things the previous day after games was over and the car was waiting. He had no spare pants, a fact that would have annoyed his mother, or his nice new pyjamas, red, with elasticated waistband which he had to pull down, like his pants, to do a pee. Most of the other boys could find their penises through a hole in their pants, and commented on the fact that he couldn't. Despite that, he liked the new more fashionable style but recognized that the boys thought them 'girly' and referred to them as 'knickers'. Peter rather liked their reaction and thought it very likely that a couple of them were jealous. At the end of the last term, he'd gone home with fewer than he came with, and wondered why two of his pairs of pants were missing. The two pairs were duly replaced by Sally, with four, just in case.

Last night, after their bath and their experiment with sex and moisturizing lotion, mugs of hot chocolate, toothbrushing with borrowed equipment, a pee together, a pulling of the old-fashioned lavatory chain and sound of crashing water, the boys made off for the bedroom. There had been no sign of the Reverend Peter Simpson, or a television screen that evening. They had played games of draughts on the drawing room floor for a couple of hours in their insecure dressing gowns with nothing underneath. When the cord holding the garment came undone, they tied it up once more, but after the sixth time neither boy bothered. Sally, knitting, sat in the nearby armchair. The boys' exposure, rather than making her feel awkward, amused her in Peter's case, as she noted the appearance of a circumcised penis which she had never seen before. What did cause her face to flush was the sight of Jamie's mid-pubescent parts. She had not seen her own son naked for two years or so. Then, she had needed something from the bathroom cupboard and Jamie was lying full length and relaxed and thoughtful in the comfortingly warm water. It was the last time she had got him out of the bath and dried him with a large towel, carefully avoiding touching his slender and not very long hardened penis. What she saw then was very different to what she can see at this moment. What a difference two years can make. There's a small quantity of dark hair either side of the handsome organ which is double the size it was back then, with a large vein visible, the foreskin no longer sufficient to hide the bulbous head like it used to. The colour is different too, redder, blue veined, not the pale creamy colour it was then. Now the slitty bit in the middle looks bigger, wider and more open, gaping almost. She tried not to think what might happen later that night when they were all safely tucked up in bed, Jamie in his own and Peter next to him, fast asleep after some playfulness on the makeshift arrangement she had put together for the sweet little friend of her son.

For her it would be a familiar story. A quiet read before Peter grunts his usual 'goodnight dear' and then the 'I'm putting my light out now' statement, and then eventually, sleep. In the morning Peter would not be there, fearful probably, that she might ask for some simple comfort like a cuddle for a couple of minutes, and then want more. No, Peter would be in the church as usual, in the vestry actually, with his music playing…….boys singing, one young man singing on his own perhaps, but there will be boys…….definitely young men, and boys.

Jamie and Peter have tired of draughts. There's a limit to how long you play it before it gets tedious. The floor is not the most comfortable place to be for that length of time. The boys understandably are fidgety, on their knees now, on their sides for a few minutes, and cross-legged even.

All standing for the formalities, Jamie kisses his mother, and his mother turns to take Peter by the shoulders, and kisses him lightly on his forehead. It's a nice gesture of surrogate motherhood which touches Peter. As she lets go, he smiles and his head drops slightly out of mild embarrassment. He liked her gesture which makes him feel more a part of her son's life oddly……in the family almost. Jamie had seen, and had thought the same as Peter had. He knew that in a very short time from now, he would have Peter in his arms. He wanted so much to tell him he loved him. He wanted to tell his mother too, that he loved Peter more than words could say.

Peter looks up at Mrs Simpson, and thanks her for their meal and their evening. She smiles back into the radiant face of the boy with the flaxen hair, and watches as the boys leave the room. She turns and makes for the stairs to her bedroom.

They arrived at the school in the late afternoon, Sunday, with that grim prospect of another week of toil beginning the next day. It's always a downer for Jamie, despite being a relatively academically able boy. The Simpsons' elderly Cortina Estate was the only car in the carpark which was a mild relief for Jamie, and shamefully, for Peter too, but he'd never say. The place smells of course, more noticeable at this moment because of where they've been for twenty-four hours. They've been in a normal house, albeit ancient and worn out. School is not a normal place, but necessary for the furtherance of one's life, one assumes. There's commotion everywhere, a different smell of food being prepared, something cheap cooked with fat, and then a bell sounds and hearts sink to the sound of pattering feet.

In bed that night, an uncomfortable one made from steel tube and steel wires joining steel springs together that squeak, Jamie can reflect with some pleasure on the very recent past. He looks to see if the other boys in his room are, if not actually asleep, in the process of. He had worried about taking Peter home, but in the end it had worked well. That Sunday morning, just yesterday, his father had had a quick word with him, Peter not present.

'He's quite a bit younger than you Jamie. You know that has difficulties if one is not sensitive and sensible about things. You need to be kind Jamie. You will be won't you…….in all senses of the word? My impression is that you are rather fond of him. If you are, that's alright. Am I right?'

'Yes Dad.'

That's all there was to it, but what moved Jamie, almost to tears, was his father's sudden warm and caring attitude to him. What Jamie didn't know is that his father had been instructed by his mother to look in on Jamie and Peter before he retired to the bedroom, about eleven o'clock last night. Both boys were fast asleep on the mattress, bare shoulders, and lying so close, like two spoons, to wipe away any lingering doubts in his mind. Like most of his innermost thoughts, he had no intention of sharing them with his wife.

He had stayed several minutes to survey that intimate scene, and to take in all that it implied about his son. He found that he had no concerns, other than the welfare of Jamie's bedfellow. He had been quite moved by the whole thing. He made a mental note to add their friendship to his prayer list for the following morning. He had seen more of the sleeping bodies on the mattress, not so much more than he wanted to, but more than he ought. There had never been any doubt either, that the boys would share the bed for a good while, but Jamie's intention was to sleep in his own bed when the fires had died down. Deeply relaxed and happy, sleep had almost instantly overtaken them both.

Peter had come first. He'd taken Jamie's hand in no uncertain terms, leaving his partner in no doubt as to what was required. There's saliva over Peter's chest and tummy, and another playful hand under the boy's bottom. Jamie, by his own hand, kneeling over Peter, his balls in Peter's fingers, splashes everywhere, and collapses breathless, to make one entwined and deliciously slippery tangle of bodies, holding on. When morning comes, early, like the hot stove that has slept in the night but is not dead, the embers are easily rekindled into flames.

She never knew quite why she does it, but Sally always checks the sheets before placing them in a bundle in the twin-tub. She would have left the ones on the mattress as they had only been used the one night, albeit by the two boys. The attempt to make it look like Jamie's bed had been slept in hadn't fooled her. The boys had dragged the mattress, black and white striped, bendy and hard to handle, back into the dingy room next door to Jamie's, and left the sheets folded. That didn't work either. Leaving them in a bundle might have. Holding one up by two corners, Sally couldn't mistake the evidence. In the heat of the moment, or moments, and un-prepared, matters were not dealt with by Jamie and Peter.

The how's and the why's didn't matter now, but the questions remain. What other consequences might there be? Would she be held responsible for what has happened? Has Peter been made to do something he didn't want to do? She pushes the sheet deep into the twin-tub washing machine, flicks down the red switch on the wall, and the water will wash away their sins.

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