by Rafael Henry

Chapter 23

A deeper meaning.

Out of the one hundred and twenty-four takers for the courses, twenty boys will be residential. We have no facilities for the girl 'campers' so we can only cater for boys. Simpler that way. I have absolutely no objection to the girls being here, but between you and me the boys might be more fun. The age range of our resident 'campers' is from eleven to sixteen, using six of the twelve rooms normally occupied by us lot, so four or six bodies to a room, and a spare empty bed between those occupied. One of the first jobs Otta and I have is to label the bed ends with names. My bed will be occupied by a certain Freddie Smith. Next year that bed won't be mine. I'll be in another room and not next to now defected Robbie. That I do know.

I touch the pillow where Freddie's head will rest for six nights, and wonder who he will be? Well, his name doesn't really fire the imagination, but I might be pleasantly surprised. As they say, you never know.

I arrived back here at school yesterday, having had just four days at home. Mum thought it a great idea to come back and help out with Otta as there's nothing much on offer at home, and with her working as usual throughout my holidays, I would have nothing much to do other than hang out at home. A rather dull prospect. Last summer I had Lael to play with, but this year the Language School have not offered us anyone. I think mum is upset about that as the foreign students pay well. It also means that I'm a redundant host too.

Apart from all the mundane domestic tasks we will perform during the camp fortnight, Otta and I have specific roles to play as the boys and girls arrive, but more specifically to help the resident campers find their feet. As a competent swimmer, I will be based at the swimming pool, whereas Otta, a reasonably competent musician, will be in the Music School. We won't see each other much during the working day, but we are to share the Hut for sleeping purposes. The Hut looks different now, all kitted out for us. Still no curtains so the light might wake us early. We can use one of the bathrooms in the house that Roger and his family live in, just a minute's walk through the unkempt garden from the Hut; or just pee in the grass like Tim seems to like doing. That always amuses me if I can catch him at it, knickers down. I was always of the opinion that you can't pee when your penis is stiff, not that I've tried to. It seems that Tim can, or what looked like it. But I have noticed that if I want to go badly, I tend to lengthen. Maybe that's it with Tim, plus the info I've got from Otta who says he's an annoyingly big boy down there. I have to agree.

The garden is Tim's private world where wild animals run and flying creatures screech their conversations with him, like some sort of naked Mowgli in an Indian jungle. The garden is a wonderfully intimate imaginary world to play in, he blissfully unaware of us, the world beyond his, as we observe that enchanted universe.

The 'campers' arrive tomorrow morning. We'll be on hand to show our residents the ropes; where their activity bases are, where the food is served, where they will wash their bodies, and where they will sleep.

I've organized Freddie Smith, the boy who will sleep in my bed. My first impression of him is positive, and he's nice enough with his red hair and unusually pale blue eyes. A curious combination.

'I'm Jonathan. Arrange everything on the bed Freddie and I'll show you where to put it all.' I say calmly, quite liking my unfamiliar role as Freddie's advisor and guardian. Freddie is relieved that someone is on hand to help him. New and unfamiliar situations can be quite frightening for a young boy who knows no one. It's odd to see a stranger sitting on my bed like this. But there's no need to worry Freddie. I'll make sure of things. Freddie smiles nervously.

'When are the others coming?' Freddie asks. 'Will you be here?'

Yes of course I will be. He tells me he's in the Aqua Sports Group. Great. I can keep an eye on him there. He shows me his swimming kit, trunks, scarlet, and a spare pair in a much more suitable colour for a red head, blue, both nicely streamlined; cap, goggles and a large tube of sun protection. Very sensible.

'You can shower with us Freddie. I'll come and get you each morning. Is that ok?'

He looks at me, non-plussed.

'Is that what you do normally; at home Freddie?' I ask rather assertively. I want him to agree.

'Yes. Every morning.'

'Good. That's decided then. I'll come along at eight. If you're still asleep, I'll wake you up. Alright?'

So that's alright then. I've got my own way with him. I rather like him. He's fresh and different.

There are some other changes in the Hut. The space under the bed is now an empty space. No mysterious thin black wires and tiny blinking red light. The Beginners Guide to Gay Loving is back in the bookshelf at home, its return hopefully unnoticed by my mother; and the plastic carrier bag containing Otta's controversial items has gone too, safe in a cupboard at his home now. Pity. Later this evening I will see Otta as we prepare for bed. I will be closer to him than ever before. I will begin to know him in ways I have not known him. Good ways. Roger Manning, our school Chaplain, has put us together knowing that we will get on well, which we shall; which we have done. Robert Harry Madrigal has gone, and so has Lael. Otta is here, and so am I. Love divine, all loves excelling. He's having a different effect on me than either Lael or Robbie had, and there's yards of his character unrevealed as yet. That's what I think anyway.

I know that I'm ready to love again. That's what Lael would want for me, and frankly Robbie couldn't care less what I did. By now he's on a beach somewhere on the lookout, but not the one at Antibe. He lives in Chichester. That's not so far from a sandy beach. A nice one too. West something. I've been there. It has a lovely view of the Isle of Wight where I've never been but would like to. There you are.

I found out tonight that Otta lives with his grandmother. I didn't him ask why, but it does explain why he was so keen to be here, and possibly why he wanted me here too. I think he finds it quite difficult living, albeit just in the holidays, with a relatively old person, as kind as she sounds. He needs, in my opinion, the love of a young person. I can and want to give him that. I think I'm getting that old feeling again; you know, that 'here we go again' feeling.

Otta is sitting on the bed in the Hut looking a bit lost. He turns his head towards me and shoots me little glances to see if I'm looking. I'm sure he knows the score here. I can see his tongue touching his lips which tells me he's feeling very sensitive there. Then he looks out of the window, and back at me. Now he bites his lower lip. Again he glances over. He looks delightful in his summer shorts; yes, shorts . They are, and just a teeny bit transparent; enough to see what I want to see. I can't wait, but the age-old problem is here again; judging the thoughts of a potential partner. But how is he feeling?

He looks over at me again, and I'm sitting in the deep chair, quite wide with its curved arm rests.

'This chair is big enough to sleep in. You can have the bed if you want it Otta?'

And very quickly came his answer.

'No. I thought we would share it Jon? I thought……..' The lovely treble voice tails off. Oh, the look of panic. The boy looks away and I know I've managed to upset him. Right, action needed. Get over there now Jon.

I'm standing by the bed as Otta turns away from me on his side, both of his hands up to his face, knees bent, almost foetal. I sit on the narrow space available and begin to stroke his back. There's some tantalizing bare skin visible. I'll aim for that. Warm flesh against the warm palm of my hand.

'I'm sorry Otta. I thought it would be wrong to assume we'd share. Of course I want to. Do you want to?'

'Yes,' the boy says through his fingers, nodding, open mouthed, worried half to death that I'm not going to. How wrong could he be.

'You have a lovely back Otta.' I say rather thoughtlessly, continuing to stroke the soft skin under the white tee he's wearing, right up to his shoulders. He's liking this as he can't help moving his body. So am I. Things are beginning to move in me, but I'm not sure about him. If I can get him to turn over my way?

'Are you going to make room for me then?'

The boy turns towards me, whilst shifting his body further back on the bed giving up the space for mine to lie next to his. There's that lovely smile I haven't seen for hours. He moistens his lips with his tongue. It's not an intentional gesture at all. It's his natural reaction to the situation, instinctive even. They're a deep red colour, that mouth just a little open in anticipation.

'I've been thinking about you Otta.'

'Have you? What were you thinking?'

'How good you are. You know, musically……and in other ways.'

'What ways?'

'Oh, how you are with me. You're kind. Warm. Just nice really.'

'So are you. I'm glad you're here Jon. Really glad.'

'Good. So am I. I love being with you. Did you know that?'

'I hoped you would. I mean……will be.'

'I'm with you now. Can I say something you might not like?'

'Yes. Go on.'

'You look very nice. I mean your face…….and everything. All of you. Like something a person might want to touch. You know, feel. I like you a lot Otta.'

'Me too. Go on then. I wouldn't mind. I want you to. What you said. I feel like that about you too.'

The smile has faded now as I move closer, my hands still under my chin. Our eyes are open wide, mine looking into deep pools of blue. Now feel his hair Jon. He says it's ok to touch. Run your fingers through it; again and again, and then a few more times. Feel the softness of those cheeks, and lightly touch his eyebrows, breath him in, soft breaths touching your face. Ears too. Don't forget the boy's ears, but don't tickle. That's annoying. Oh yes, he likes that. That's making him smile. He's not turning his head away from you Jon. That's good sign. Look at his lips, mouth just a little open. Remember Lael when he looked at you like that? And then what happened?

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