by Rafael Henry

Chapter 8

All change

It's always a shock going back at the beginning of another school year. This one isn't a particularly vital one for me, academically. It's one of those in between years; between a foundation for the real thing, and the real thing. We all come back with our happy memories of the long summer holiday, if not happy particularly, then at least we weren't suffering privations here. Actually that's just a little unfair as school does provide me with certain privileges I don't get at home; until this last holiday is concerned.

We know we will all get moved around different sleeping rooms, so the boys either side of us at night are likely to be different from one term to another. One thing hasn't changed for me however. Robbie's still next to me, albeit we are in a different room; a smaller one with just the four of us in it. I do have happy memories of a holiday, admittedly all spent at home, but with LL, the Lovely Lael.

The downside of our little room is that we have lost our upstairs bath and shower room which served only three rooms; some eighteen boys. Now we have to trek down to the large ablutions area and share with all and sundry; lots of bigger boys than us, and lots of smaller ones too. Swings and roundabouts they call it. Everything is timed to the minute, morning and evening. It's pyjamas off, and then one has to walk in one's dressing gown, nothing underneath of course, carrying your towel. Hang up your dressing gown and towel on one of the hooks on the wall in the waiting area, and stand there like a lemon waiting for the last lot to exit the showers before it's your turn to under the warm water; if not hot. There's nothing else to do other than stare into space, or look at the other boys as we wait our turn. There are generally two aspects of a boy worthy of note, one being his face and possible new hair do, the other being his nether regions, just to see where he's got to, development wise. Robbie appears to have grown a couple of inches, but definitely not in the genital department. Likewise my good self, apart from some embarrassing minimal hair grown which I have summarily got rid of with the scissors and a razor borrowed from a sympathetic older boy I know. There are hairy boys and ultra-smooth boys on show as we wait our turn, now ordered in by a particularly hairy example of older teenhood, dressing gown undone at the front, a sight that both intrigues me and disgusts me at one and the same time. I dread the day when I look like that .

Robbie stands next to me. There is a rule of silence as we line up against the cold wall waiting our turn to shower, but I doubt if Robbie can go the five minutes without breaking this rule. He looks down and examines himself in the absent-minded way boys do this. I watch him fiddling with one finger and his thumb, head down. I glance at our sixteen-year-old minder and I notice he's looking too. Dirty sod. I give him a disapproving glance and look away.

There's a sharp command uttered from another older boy, out of sight around the corner, sound emerging from the steamy atmosphere. Then a procession of dripping shining bodies appears, hands held together under chins, one or two hiding loins, as they march around the corner past us to collect their towel and dry themselves. They are all new to our House, just moved up from the Junior Department, all as smooth as silk. I watch as the boys, some very tanned from their exotic foreign holidays no doubt, walk past us. We all have a good look at what the system has provided for us this year; the new intake, the new crop of talent to admire, if any. Two years ago I was one of them under scrutiny. This lot look pretty average, and just a couple of them ahead of the game by the looks of things . A circumcised boy, like Robbie, is rare it seems nowadays. Circumcision seems to be out of fashion. But there is one here, apart from Robbie. I do not believe it. His sleek body is still shining from the water, his hair smoothed like a dark helmet as he turns to reach for his towel, I'm fixated by the two white globes separated by a deep shadow, contrasting with the pale golden flesh that is the rest of him. I have seen him. He's here, in the here and now, under our roof, my roof even, living and breathing our air!

I'm last in the line so I have a few precious seconds to take in this apparition that I have seen running around in the playground so many times. Apparition? Oh yes, he's appeared in my dreams quite a few times, to be replaced by the gift in the form of Lael. Lael is now a memory, but what a memory.

I'm trying to rationalize why Robbie Madrigal is still with me, nightly, and next to me in our new smaller room. The only explanation I can come up with is that Management think I'm a good influence on him, and generally speaking, I think I am. He's headstrong and usually engages mouth before brain. He's academically pretty ordinary, and I'm not exactly Einstein either. But he's a handsome devil to whom I'm naturally attracted with his pale brown hair with those curious blondie streaks which make him just a little different. He's a deep sleeper who has to be shaken hard to wake him up in the morning after first bell, a task that I've taken on. Cruel me. I start by giving him a good 'feel' to begin the process. He always responds straight away to this little treat, so by the time his bed covers are drawn down and he's sitting on the edge of his bed removing pyjama bottoms, he's a sight to be seen with his sculpted skinless pecker upright and pleading for more attention. Hard luck Robbie. No time now. He's down to showers like that, and he's still like that back in the room afterwards pulling up his standard and rather unattractive classic whites with that 'door' at the front.

But there's a change in Mr Madrigal, Mr Robert Madrigal this brand new year. He's gone quiet for some reason. Last year, all we heard about was girls. This girl, that girl, the other girl; and all the things they got up to in the bushes. Not this year. He's long suspected that girls are not at the top of my wish list; not that boys are either. I have never let on about my preference for the delights of a boy's mind and body to anyone, and hitherto, no one has accused me of even thinking that way. Apart from Robbie, who, let's face it, has had my undivided attention at least every other night, albeit limited to my active hand. Thus I'm curious as to why we are not being treated to holiday stories involving him and a coterie of young and willing girls, drawn to his good looks and tanned body as he flaunts himself on some sun drenched beach in his far too revealing swimming briefs. It was all rubbish of course. He never did the things he claimed to have done with these girls.

'What was that girl's name again? Samantha did you say Robbie? Are you sure it wasn't a Sam; as in Samuel?'

Oh dear. I've said the wrong thing there. Robbie is not amused. He pushes my hand away and turns over. But by the morning, remembering his little spat, he apologizes.

'Sorry Jon; about last night.' He says, half dressed, sitting on the edge of the bed opposite me, as I sit on mine. I'm tying my tie, trousers not yet on. The other two boys have dressed and gone down already, hair noticeably un-combed.

'That's ok Rob. It might be a good thing if you started to tell the truth once in a while. It's just us Rob. No one else needs or wants to know what you and I think; or do.'


'Yes; do . Think about it Robbie,' I say, looking hard into Robbie's expressionless face.

'You wouldn't mind then?'

'Mind what Rob?'

'Would you mind if I told you?'

'Would you mind if I told you Robbie?'

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