by Rafael Henry

Chapter 44

loose ends and tight corners.

Wulff's on the beach playing. Roger and I are on the veranda of Point Cottage observing our boy for the umpteenth time on his knees with his bottom in the air and a hand down an ever-deepening hole. My mug of tea has gone cold due to the distraction.

'Haven't you ever been tempted Jon?' Asks Roger.

'To do what Roger? Anyway, thinking is not doing Roger. We've tried to make his life simpler, not more complicated.'

'Quite. It's a curse isn't it.'

'Yes it is. Thinking of which, I still have the audio visuals Roger.'

'Oh, you never got rid of them? I thought you would have done by now.'

'No. It's a question of how to. But Otta has not been privy to the contents.'

'Why not? Do you think he'd wobble about it?'

'No. Perhaps I should show him.'

'He was an integral part, and the longer you leave it Jon? Maybe start with the audio? In bed one morning? Where do you keep it?'

'With all my teaching notes. It looks like the rest of the stuff. I've marked it Macbeth 1, Macbeth 2, and so on. Wulff's been asking a lot of questions lately…….about Otta and I. How it all started and what do we do with each other. He's been coming in to our bedroom lately, unannounced. I think he's trying to catch us at it.'

'He's just curious Jon. He knows doesn't he? How it's done?'

'Oh yes. I'm sure he's thinking about finding a friend.'

'You mean a proper friend?'

'Umm. A girl………or a boy.'

'And you're hoping it's a boy?' He says with chuckle.

'No, I have no view on that one Roger. But I think he's ready to dip a toe in the water now.'

'Everything functioning then?'

'Yes, and how. I'm getting fed up picking up after him.'

'Oh, how nice for you.'

'Yes, if he manages to find something before it's all too late.'

'Oh how ghastly for you. I bet you hate that, having to deal with all that side of things. How simply ghastly for you dear boy.'

We laughed. As Woody Allen remarked, decent sex has to be messy if it's any good, even if it's just you.

Mothers and decent fathers wipe their son's bottoms often enough when they need to, or asked to. So the same principle applies to their careless teenagers I would have thought. I'm sure I forgot to pick up that soggy sock once or twice, or left a cold and damp tissue under the bed a few times. I've proudly picked up for Robbie, Otta and now Wulff, and others in my time, and felt very happy for all of them that they had the pleasure of some other person, albeit not with them at the time, but in their fertile imaginations. The thing about fantasies is that they can be organized exactly how you want them. So long as you have some information about their appearance and character, preferably sans clothing and with a clear memory for the interesting bits, you're away. He will, when asked, come to the bedroom with you, or anywhere else of your choice, and do your bidding. The fact that in real life he would be horrified at any such suggestion is quite by the bye.

Roger says 'Maybe you could re-label those tapes and let Wulff find them? Sex education for teenagers? He wouldn't recognize you both as the protagonists. That'll teach him all he needs to know surely? I thought my electronic arrangement was rather clever.'

Indeed it was. Two angles, one directly above the bed, and the other at the far end of the room, and the sound effects are positively inspirational, to die for, or something else. I did work out what those wires were for and the fact that the intermittent tiny red light wasn't anything to do with possible intruders, but never said anything to Otta on the grounds that such knowledge might inhibit his performance, and as his performance was so utterly wonderful it would have been a personal disaster.

'Could you watch live Roger? Or should I say, did you?'

'Yes, if I was in the house, or later, and as many times as I wanted. I never had your rather golden opportunities Jon. I never had a Robbie, an Otta, or any of those delicious creatures you knew, one way or another. You have to remember that.'

'I don't begrudge you for one moment Roger. It wasn't ever going to do anybody any harm. What the eye doesn't see and all that. Wulff came to us from Holland House with a little history.'

'What kind?'

'Other boys Roger. He had a reputation.'

'To keep up?'

'No. He was looking for love Roger.'

'And now he's found it.'

'We'll do our damnedest.'

'Oh. Then one day he's going to pop the question. Can I bring a boy home to tea with you? Then after tea, they can make an excuse to go off to the bedroom to help each other with their homework? Pity you couldn't electronically monitor what goes on in there.'

'But I could Roger.'

But I wouldn't. Not ever, even if I had Roger's electronic skills. He'd taken a very big risk, but if what you desire is never to be had, then I suppose you might. Thinking about it, current possession is a big risk. I'm thinking there's only one way to resolve the problem. A small bonfire.

A long pause while we both thought about my last remark. I had never considered doing anything so downright sneaky before. Roger did, and I still have the evidence. I should destroy it, not that's it's going to fall into the wrong hands. But if it did? That possibility doesn't bear thinking about.

'Look down there on the beach Jon. Wulff's attracted a little helper. The one in the dark blue. Why are you smiling? Have you seen that boy before?'

I'm not answering that question. One of those strange shivers goes down my spine. In fact every time I think about the Turn of the Screw, Peter Quint, and Miles, I wonder what will be, and what was with that whole exciting and ghostly episode. I know what Quint did to Miles. He did wait for him, and in the end Miles did go to him, just as it was suggested he did in the opera, but not for more than a few seconds. One of the lighting crew saw them kissing and Quint's hand down the front of Miles's shorts. No real harm done I suppose. That bastard Quint.

'Look Jon. He's come with his own spade too. Very forward thinking. Where's his mum then? Very pretty hair. By the way, how's school going for Wulff?'

'He's behind in most things, apart from his practical music, and drama. But he'll catch up. He comes in with me in the mornings and then makes his own way back in the afternoon when I have meetings or an activity. It works well.'

'And the fallout from the Screw? That guy I introduced you to was from RADA. Did you realise?'

'Yes. He was very encouraging. Wulff's signed up for another of their regional workshops later on this holiday. It's in Canterbury. Last week in August.'

'And Sixth Form in a couple of years?'

'Or a specialist drama school.'

'And no sign of his brother yet?'

'Not yet, but Peter up at Holland House has got the ball rolling. Our status has changed now we have Wulff. We are regarded as a family now, not just a disqualified co-habiting gay couple.'

'That's nice. So will it happen, ever?'

'I really don't know. I have never given up hope. I often think about him and how he might be faring out there.'

'But that rejection was at least two years ago now?'

More than that.

I dreamt I had a brother, just like that one in the picture.

Roger left the veranda to fetch two glasses of water. The temperature must be in the low eighties by now. Hot and humid. He sets the glasses down on the table and looks out over the beach. Wulff is on his way back up to us, spade in hand looking sweaty.

'Where's the other boy gone Jon?'

'I've no idea Roger. He was there just a minute ago.'

He was there.

Behind the cottage, I threw some water over a naked Wulff to rinse the sand of his body while he stood there, hands to his sides. Then a second bucket, and a third. I towelled him off. He looks down while I gently dry his genitals. Such lovely things they are too. He loves the feel of that towel. A comfort for him.

'Do want to sit with me Wulff?' I say, holding his shoulders, his wet hair tickling my hands.

'Yes please. Can I come like this?'

'Yes of course. You don't mind Roger do you?'

He smiles. As if he'd mind.

'No.' Says Roger.

'Yes, just as you are then Wulff.'

I lay back in the wicker armchair and Wulff arranges himself in my lap, his legs either side of mine, his head resting sideways under my chin. To stop his body drifting downwards, I have to hold him in his groin, my palms flat against the inside of his thighs. He wriggles against me to get himself comfortable. I look across to Roger, who raises his eyebrows in grateful appreciation. Don't say I don't do anything for you Roger. Wulff is of course aware of his vulnerability but wouldn't be in least bothered by that. Poor Roger. It really is a curse.

Wulff wanted the last half hour on the beach. With Wulffy gone off to play, the coast now clear, Roger beckons me over to his chair. So I stand in front of him. I know what he wants. He's been hinting at it all day.

'I suppose I still owe you Roger?'

'No. Only if you want to. It's been a tricky last half hour hasn't it?'

'For you. I'd suggest bed but there isn't time.'

'There's time for something Jon, surely?'

It has been a tricky half hour with Wulff in my lap, but nothing untoward.

I knelt beside Roger's chair which meant he can reach me nicely with a dangling hand. Lael's lessons from long ago are not forgotten. Ten minutes into my work, I'm as excited as Roger is. I'm fully intending to do the job properly, with nothing left to concern us at the end. Nothing left to deal with. With the heat of the afternoon, it felt unusually hot when he came into my mouth, the results sharply aromatic and not at all salty. Like sweet tasting Lael. He has large squeezable balls which I like, and something good to occupy a hand while I work on the main item on the Roger's agenda, and mine. Otta's are smaller, much more like a teenager's, or younger still. That's nice too. My tongue kept him hard for some time after. Always a good thing. With Lael, Robbie, and Otta too, I could keep the engine ticking over, so a second helping, in due course, was always a possibility. How that perfume lingers.

Wulff looks up and waves at us from the beach. Perhaps he saw us, not that he'd be worried. He wouldn't be.

When we got back to Vermont, our house in Broadstairs, Otta is in the shower. Wulff has already been in. I can hear it running. There's a letter in a white envelope on the hall table addressed to me. It has that official look about it. My stomach does a flip when I look again at the white shape. I've been expecting news but one is never ready for such momentous things.

A naked Otta appears in the hall with a small towel, dripping. Wulff hears our voices and he's here too, trying to get one leg into those horrible green pants of his.

'Well aren't you going to open it?' Says Otta, working the towel over his wet hair.

It was from their Embassy in London.

Dear Sir, Further to your application dated……….I'm am pleased to invite you for interview etc etc.

I showed Otta the letter. He read it open mouthed, looked up and showed it to Wulff.

'What's this about?'

I said quietly, 'It's about us Wulff. Me, Otta , and you sweetheart.'

I went into our bedroom and lay on the bed, Otta following, and then Wulff joins the party. We both cuddle Wulff who responds by burying himself into Otta's bare tummy, then raising his head. He kisses Otta full on his mouth. It's not one of those deeply sexual kisses, nothing like one of those that plumb the depths, the one he didn't enjoy with that devil , Quint, but just a joyful gesture of being unmovably connected to us both now. The boy turns to me and I get the same lovely mouth on mine. He's such a grabbable boy. Finally, he settles between us as he looks up at the ceiling.

'It's my brother. He's coming isn't he?'

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