by Rafael Henry

Chapter 49


Otta has led Wulff by the hand all the way through his artistic journey, literally by the hand, the piano playing, the singing, the drama courses, everything; so it was a natural progression to see him settled in London with him, at least during the week. After two interviews, Wulff has been accepted early for a one year full-time RADA foundation course at just seventeen and a half. Then at weekends they could return to Vermont, our house in Broadstairs, if there was nothing else pressing to be at in Town or to do. There might be a show worth going to, or even a dinner date. Otta had taken a small one-bed apartment for them, just a short walk from the Academy. Wulff's not a child any more. I asked Otta if there was more than one bedroom at the apartment. He hesitates before answering my question, as if about to lie to me, knowing full-well the meaning of it. No, just one bedroom. Just one bed in it too. Things have not been brilliant for us, as a couple, of late. The gilt seems to have worn off. Just a temporary thing maybe. Maybe not. It happens, but life must go on. As every minute of every day passes, Petroc gets bigger, not only physically, but in my mind too. It's a strange kind of love I have for him, and some of it I have to leave in another room in this metaphorical mansion we inhabit, along with that curse. I have to remind myself, and Otta, of our primary responsibility towards our charges, and their well-being.

The boy appears again, caught in the light of life, early morning fire kindled. I look back at him from my bed. This time he's not going back. He's holding a photograph I didn't know he had found, fallen from the ashes, unconsumed.

'This is him, isn't it? You and him?'

'Goodness. Yes it is Pet.' I say, taking the image from his hand. It's of Lael and I in the garden. My mother took it. I distinctly remember that hot afternoon. We had been paddling in the inflatable pool to keep cool, our clothes discarded nearby. Lael stands, upright, cool, so fair and beautiful. It's not a smile, neither is it without expression. It's just him . I kept staring at the image, stirred.

'I found it just below the veranda in the sand.'

Somehow, the breeze maybe, it had escaped the fire.

'Can we talk about him please?'

'Not now darling. Perhaps after school this afternoon?'

Fair enough. He's heard the name mentioned several times no doubt in the last three years. Now he's found an image of the boy. No wonder he's curious. I was very careful not to mislay any material destined for the flames. That's so strange.

Otta and Wulff are in London. They'll be back on Friday night. It's Monday afternoon now, and I'm waiting for Petroc to appear. We have an hour of quiet time after our school day before I want to think about making dinner. The first thing we want to do is get out of our school clothes and into something we feel comfortable in, so I'm in my bedroom and Petroc is in his. Miraculously I've no marking to do this afternoon, or evening, nicely organized, so I can talk about Lael to Petroc; who he was and why I remember him so vividly, whilst avoiding some of the truths about our love for each other. Tricky.

There's no sign of Petroc, so undressed down to my pants, I go to his room. He's lying on his bed, his and Wulff's, still in his school uniform.

'I thought you wanted to talk Pet?'

He nods, pulling at his tie. 'I do.'

'Come on then. You can do all that in our room.' Our room, being mine and Otta's.

I'm sitting on the edge of our bed as Petroc enters the room, still in his uniform, still looking surprisingly immaculate after his day in various classrooms, blue shirt, tie still tied, grey jumper, grey long trousers, grey socks.

'Not changing then?' I ask.

'Yes. Can I stay with you for a while?'

'Of course darling. Go and change first please.'

'Can I do it here?'

'Yes, if you want to.'

How many times have I dressed and undressed him. Many times, but not in the last two years. In the early days, yes at bath time and on the beach, but not for a long time now. He would have let me, wanted me to quite possibly. And then that simple request.

'You haven't for ages. I'm tired Jon. You do it please.'

I haven't discharged any sexual tension for days now, so cursed that I am, I shall find this task difficult. Well, difficult in one sense. Easy in another. I sense that we are both standing at the crossroads here.

The boy raises both his arms, the universal gesture of compliance. I pull his jumper over his head; it catches on his ears, and place it neatly to one side on the bed. Then it's the tie, and, if I may codify into Latin, the boy's tunica , similarly folded and placed to one side. A bare chest. Round dark eyes set in an unsmiling face.

Robbie loved this ritualistic process of revelation, giving me a big smile when finally and magnificently undone, I can inspect closely his compact clunes hiding the boy's culus , just, and turning him around for an inspection of his diminutive cute little vermis . And then, later on, a new friend, Otta with his charming verpa exposed, bare acorn tipped, so beautifully upright and ready.

Petroc's spontaneous arousal that has nothing to do with any sexual thought I assume, because it's so common amongst boys. His little pippina is stiff inside his brevia subligar , as I gently ease the garment down his thighs, initially caught by the waistband, and then his vermiculum erectus is released like a coil, springing to attention. It's quite comical so we both laugh. The glans slowly becomes exposed, that little nut-like fruit, as the boy eases back the praiputium . That's another thing boys seem to revel in, at least the ones I have known who have not had it cruelly removed, as if it's some alluring and magical revelation designed to drive you wild. It did. I'll rephrase that; it does.

'You're so like Lael Petroc. It's uncanny.'

'Uncanny? What does that mean?'


'But I don't look like him.'

'Of course not. You're from very different parts of the world darling. But that's not what I'm saying.'

The boy looks down into my lap and smiles. Neither Otta nor I have ever gone out of our way to hide our state of mind, or ever deliberately let them see us in that way, but if they did, or do, then that's all part of life's rich pattern. We are all human.

'Did Lael see it like that?'

'Yes. We loved each other, so we acted out our love. You know what that means don't you?'

'Yes. Did you sleep in the same bed?'

'Quite often, usually when my mother wasn't looking. Until a bit later. Then she said we could. All the time. Every night. In the day time too.'

'Did you make love; like you do with Otta?'

'Yes we did, often.'

'Was it nice?'

'Yes, very. As I said, we loved each other.'

'So it's alright, when you love someone?'

'Usually, yes it is.'

'Can I come in?'

'Yes, if you want to.'

'Do you love me?'

'You know I do. Silly boy.'

A re-arrangement takes place. He's on his side, hands together under his chin, his eyes observing, taking stock.

'Will you tell me more about Lael please?'

'Yes, if you're quiet and can stay still.'

'Close to you?'

'Ok. Close to me.'

'Like this, so I can feel you close to me?'

'Ok, like this.'

'Or like this?'

'No, not like that darling.'

'Why not? I love you.'

'I know you do.'

'Well then. I can.'

'No darling, you can't.'

'Yes I can .'

I told Petroc that I have kept the faith. Love will never die, not for him, or for the boy that lies beside me now.

I knew that Lael would find a way.

They found the plane, and Lael's lies at peace. The book is closed now, but this is what he has made.

He's brought me Petroc.

The story concludes.

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