Remembering Ryan

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 7

I went to sleep like some exhausted lamb last night, snuggled up to Lucien. I do enjoy being snuggled up to someone. It's one of life's pleasures. It's a time, I find, to contemplate one's sexuality, not that I'm very confused about mine. I think Lucien's is quite complicated. He has ambitions with regard to me, a boy still, but I'm not so convinced with regard to him. But nature intervened last night fortunately, so no difficult decisions to make for either of us. The first thing I hear this morning, blending in with the dawn chorus is Lucien's voice, along with a moving hand on my bare back.

'Are you awake Simon?'

Well I am now. I just about heard Lucien's question, but I'm feeling his heat close to my body, and his warm breath on my cheek. I don't answer.

'How are you feeling this morning?'

As if he didn't know. I'd been having a rather nice little waking reverie as it happens. David had come back to Padstow, alone, and we were having a very pleasant session in bed together, so you can imagine how I was feeling. Shall we say that David was at least half way there. I'm looking up at his face, eyes closed, mouth open and breathing hard. I love these moments, just waiting for him to complete the job. Quite wonderful. But this lovely visual fantasy fades as Lucien's words wash my dream away leaving me bereft, sans my loving boy.

I put my head down and wedged it under his chin. He's bristly. Those dark prickly bristles on his chin. The bed covers are down to our tummies. I put my hand on him as a gesture of friendship and acceptance I suppose. It's ok for him to warm and sooth my flesh. My eyes are shut but I can feel hair on his body. I move my hand lower and there's more of it. The edge of the black forest! If I moved lower still I'm sure I'd be confronted with that thick rooted hard stump, wanting. I hate all that hair.

'Regretful?' Lucien ask, after a lull.

'Of what? Should I be?'

'I thought you might be. That's all.'

'No. Apart from my story not being finished.'

'Not every story has a happy ending you know.'

'True. What's your story…….right now?'

'Ongoing but I'm trying to think of an ending.'

'A happy one?'

We laughed at that.

'Do you want to get up now?'

'Certainly not! Do you?' I ask with a smile. 'We could think of an ending for your story couldn't we?'

'Like yours yesterday?'

'You know I didn't; did I?'

'I think so.'

'Oh. Are you sure?'

'No but I'm suspecting. Unless I was seeing things.'

I remember now. He might be half right. A very odd feeling indeed, deep inside. It can happen that way, according to David. He read about it somewhere. Our bodies are so amazingly clever.

'Why do you want to finish my story Simon?'

'Curiosity I suppose.'

'I'm not going to stop you being curious sweetheart.'

'So what's so fascinating about me then?' I say, changing the subject slightly.

'You might understand one day.'

'I think I already do Lucien.'

'Do you think it's so dreadful; that I think this way about you?'

'No I don't. I don't suppose you chose to think that way. It's not just me is it. And I don't mean David. I can't believe you'd think that way about him. You wouldn't would you?'

'Of course not! But I do admit that you are just one of a breed. It's a quirk of the wiring perhaps. Shall I take my hand away?'

'No. You can put it where you like.' I said wearily.

'A little help then?'

'Please… I'm tired after all the excitement.'

'What excitement; exactly?' He says, gripping my shoulder.'

'I was having a dream when you woke me. It's the not knowing what happens. It's very tiring.'

'Well, my tired boy, I'm here to help you as and when.'

I'm not vulnerable, either physically or psychologically. I know Lucien's attentiveness gives him considerable pleasure, and me too in a way. I know very well what he'd like to do with me. I agree with him, it must be very difficult.

'Where are you going Simon?' He asks as I leave him lying there.

'Things to do.' I answer.

'I'll be five minutes. Is that enough for you?'

I took myself off to the bathroom, still tingling, and my body sexually expectant. I don't want to be there with him at this moment. Better to leave Lucien alone with his thoughts. I've told him.

Ten minutes I was in there, ablutions done, and a couple of minutes under the shower. All clean now, and those disinterested thoughts faded away. Danger time, but I'm so curious. Eight minutes gone.

I go back into Lucien's bedroom where I spent the night with him. He lying on his back, the covers no higher than his knees. A wave of warmth for him fills me so I lie beside him again, the palm of my hand on his stomach, and everything still so warm between my fingers. It's a gesture of solidarity I suppose. A man and a boy, and friends together. Yes, that's it but no more than that. They talk about a boy falling in love with a man. No, that's not for me. A boy falling in love with a boy? Now that's a different matter entirely. I have fallen in love with a boy, all of him, his mind and his body. We know about sex by now; well most things than give us such deep and lasting pleasure, and we do it because we like it and it enhances our experience as friends. That's what it's for.

We had to walk fast down the hill if we were not to miss the number 56 bus to Porthcothan. Anyway the bus was late so it wouldn't have mattered. The lanes are so narrow, the bus has to stop constantly for oncoming traffic in the middle of the road. That always adds time to the journey despite the allowances the bus company makes for those inevitable delays. We sat on the back seat, my shoulder against the window. There was time this morning. As I think about what might have happened in the bedroom, and to some extent, what did happen, the tingling returns deep inside me. A sort of longing feeling. In these lightweight summer shorts, there's no hiding place for a thing that has a mind of its own as every boy mid-puberty knows. I had to smile.

'I'm finding it very difficult to keep my hands off you Simon.' Lucien remarks quietly.

'I had noticed.'

'Do you mind? We're on public transport.'

'So we are. On the back seat too. And no, I don't mind at all.'

He calls them my girly pants. He likes all that stuff just as I do. We are out of sight at the back of the bus. These little shorts don't hide anything. Lucien slips his hand below as I breathe in allowing him access inside my pants. His ahnds are not large, rather like the rest of him.

'May I be naughty Simon? Lucien asks.

'What? Here? Now?'

'Yes. No one can see, so long as you can keep quiet?'

How many boys have pulled their pants down on the back seat of a bus? Quite a few is my guess. I have to say I never have, but it must be quite fun, to expose on the back seat of a bus. Lucien wants me to. Ok. I pull the waistband of my play shorts and pants down and my constricted dickie pops up. And then a little lower still so my two little ovoids appear, with their tiny veins. I love these little boy, pocketless shorts. So sexy. I slip the skin back and apply an amount of bubbly saliva and move the skin back up. We're not far from the Harlyn Bay carpark. As the bus draws to a stop I turn my head sideways and look down and see a family group waiting at the bus stop. Not unusual. Two women and two boys. Long brown legs and short shorts. Lovely. Just my cup of tea. The bus stops and I'm looking at the older boy waiting, holding a beach bag. He looks about twelve. Cute. A blondie. That beautiful butter coloured hair, slightly curly and in need of the barber's attention. Lucien has his arm around my back, gently rubbing it. The boy distracts me. He turns and fiddles for a moment with the front of his shorts, as young boys absentmindedly do. When the hand moves away again I can see his winkle pressing into the flimsy shiny ice-blue material. That does it for me. Very suddenly I'm almost there. I keep looking down out of the window as I raise my hips using my imagination. The boy has another fiddle, and when he takes his hand away the image is even clearer now. He's as pretty as a picture.

It starts somewhere in my bottom and works its way underneath, between, up and along, and right up to the end; and out. It's somewhat unexpected and a lovely strong one. Sometimes it's all too fast and ends up as a damp squib, so to speak. There's nothing damp about this one.

'That was good timing.' Says Lucien, not without a hint of sarcasm. 'I didn't know you were going to do that .'

'Is it noticeable then?' I ask, looking at the front of my tee, one patch, about a square inch, looking decidedly gooey.

'Well look at it Simon. That was very naughty of you.'

I'd come in less than sixty seconds. I did it in a public library once, looking at a very interesting book on photography. I can see the image now that caught my imagination so perfectly. Two boys kissing. The image didn't show their bits, but their nakedness was strongly implied. That's art as far as I'm concerned. By the time we get there the evidence of my sin will probably have gone. I'm a very naughty boy. What am I? A naughty boy, yes, but hardly all my fault?

I looked down at my tee shirt again. Buggeration. A pale blue one. No chance of that disappearing in the next ten minutes. Lucien dabs away at the worst bit with his hanky as I watch the group below. I feel like a boy who has just dribbled his ice cream down his tee shirt and mum has to see to things. You should be more careful Simon. Just look at you!

'Not too bad now.' Says Lucien.

'Does it matter?' I answer.

No, not really. I felt the patch. Cold now. To hell with it. That's life isn't it?

The smaller boy chooses a seat just in front of us, but on the right-hand side, followed by the elder object of my desiring who gives me a pleasing image as he works his way onto the seat next to his chum, or brother or whatever he is. Boyfriend even. With restricted legroom, the elder boy's left leg won't fit so it's stretched out into the aisle. A beautiful limb indeed with a flip-flop at the end of it. With his bottom right on the edge of the seat, I can conjecture upon what he's wearing underneath. It appears to be very satisfactory in my opinion. What lovely hair he has, deliciously unkempt and butter coloured. He must know I'm looking into the back of his head because he turns around and sees me looking straight at him. He turns his head away immediately. I wait for a few more seconds for the thought to sink in, then he turns his head towards me again. I'm still looking at him. I give him a half smile as he turns away again, quickly. As we descend the hill towards the Porthcothan bus stop, one of the women just in front of him tells the boy to ding the bellpush just above him. Ding, it goes, and the sign at the front of the bus lights up. Stopping . Our stop too. Porthcothan Bay. It looks like I haven't seen the last of this boy. Excellent. Unexpected entertainment in the offing, perchance?

Lucien wants his coffee at the shack, as usual, despite the poor quality. The two mums, or whatever they are, pass us by on the sandy pathway, making their way over the set of low sand dunes and then down the steep slope onto the beach. I keep my eyes on the taller boy and get more than a fleeting glance from him. He's definitely noticed me. I can always tell. As he passes, I look for the evidence I'd quite to see. Yes, I'm right. His shorts are fitted enough to tell and made of that semi-transparent material that can't hide what's underneath. What is underneath is not bare flesh, but plain, not patterned. Good lad. Colour? Pale of some sort, but not white sadly. Everything has to be a colour or a pattern these days, it seems.

'The tide will be up in one hour Simon.'

Lucien is a reliable tide table reader. Good. We'll all be together at the top of the beach, on the sand that the tide doesn't ever reach. I just have to pick our vantage point. The best place to study the human form at my leisure and for my deep pleasure.

There's a vacant area a few yards behind the two boys and their minders who are still standing by all their beach paraphernalia. The ladies make the decision to stay where they are, and with the help of the two boys, they begin arranging a blanket on the sand.

'Over there looks good Lucien.' I say, pointing to the right.

'Ok, that looks good. Aren't they the boys on the bus?'

'Oh, they might be.' I say with an air of nonchalance. Would that be a problem? If they were the boys on the bus? Lucien looks at me, eyebrows raised and gives me a painful tweak on the shoulder.

'That's what beaches are for, aren't they?' I say, hauling the rucksack a little higher onto my shoulders.

' You might say that Simon, but I couldn't possibly comment.' Lucien says, in that camp way of his.

'What's your name. Margaret Thatcher?' I say back with a smile.

The smaller boy is soon down to his underpants, vile fulsome ones with childish motifs all over them, and large enough for a boy years older than he is. But the older boy, a good eighteen inches taller, is another matter altogether. With shorts and top off, they look like the new speedo swimming kit every boy needs, but they aren't. What next? A towel held around him to hide his modesty?

He hasn't noticed us, at least he's not looked in our direction; yet.

Now the boy looks up and towards us. It was just a quick glance. So far so good.

The younger boy holds the defensive towel around the elder of the two, but it's an ineffectual gesture. There's a pair of buttocks on show, the very pale skin being confined to his bottom and his ankles where short socks had been. He's done some sun bathing this summer, as the weather allows, so he's almost certainly a local. He's probably got one of those lovely Cornish accents. The boy, now holding the small towel behind him to prevent boys like me seeing an intimate part of him, bends double to reach for his speedo-style trunks, but his weak strategy is perfectly ineffective. Gosh! A fleeting and unexpected delight as my eyes have a momentary insight right into one of the more shadowy parts of the human anatomy.

I drew a deep breath and waited for the next instalment.

Disappointment. I watch as the boy yanks up his trunks with one hand, never an easy operation, without any consideration for my hopes of seeing the rest of him. Bad boy!

He helps the younger one with his preparations. Sweet, and better luck this time. With his hands on the taller boy's shoulders, he steps, naked, into his beachwear, sideways on to Lucien and I. He's young enough for no one to worry about his nudity. This time I can see all, nicely in profile. The slightly bulbous tummy and the pointy, skinny winkle that curls over a seemingly total lack of anything else. They must be in there somewhere. Clad now in tiny swimming kit, the boy grabs his spade, plonks himself down on the sand and begins to aimlessly dig. The other boy stands and observes the younger as he idly works away at the hole he's making. He's facing us now as he begins to fiddle again, tweaking it this way and that. I'm sitting between Lucien's legs, my knees up and Lucien's hands on my thighs. He's providing a makeshift armchair for me. A good time for a mini-fantasy I think.

The boy has mastered the art of self-pleasure, and practises the art every morning. This morning there wasn't time, thus that teasing denial is on his mind right now. He goes on fiddling, looking down at the boy.

He looks up and sees me, remembering the glances on the bus, and later. After a few words with mum, he wanders off down the beach. I follow him some twenty yards behind. He stops to examine an interestingly shaped pebble. As I walk past him he looks up. I stop and ask what he's found. We talk for a couple of minutes. Didn't I see you on the bus? Yes you did. Do you want to stroll down to the water? Yes, that would be nice. How old are you? I thought so. Those caves look interesting don't they. Yes they do. Shall we investigate? Your swimsuit is a nice colour. Mine is too? Oh thanks. You've got some sand on your shoulder. Can I brush it off for you? And there too. And there's a little bit of sand in your hair. Can we be friends for a while? Just for today? Just for now?

There's a rock over there at the back of this cave, and in the sun. It looks just like a seat. No one can see us back there. Do you want to sit there for a while?

We talk about nothing much, giggling at this unexpected liaison, next to one another, our legs touching as we sit, our feet paddling in the pool below us, his hand straying onto my thigh, mine now on his. We look at each other and smile.

Do you mind that? My hand on your leg? No, it feels nice. Yours does too.

What do you want to do now? We could do anything we want, he says. No one can see us here.

I pull at the thin white cord that's tied in a neat bow at the front of his trunks. It comes undone easily. I pull the waistband forwards and look inside. It's lying sideways and already quite swollen. He's looking down, watching as I arrange my fingers under the boy's penis. He leans into me, finding mine now, our breath combining, feelings combining, our immediate future assured. A few more words are exchanged between us. Yes, that would be nice.

He responds just as I do. Our mutual playfulness continues.

I can feel Lucien's hands massaging my shoulders, my head under his chin. He's not shaved again. The boys have gone down to the water's edge, paddling.

'What are you thinking about Simon?' Lucien asks.

'Nothing much.' I lied.

'Yes you are. Go on admit it.'

'Not much.'

'I could hea r your thoughts a while back there Simon. Why don't you go down and join them? Strike up a conversation?'

Eventually I did. I stood near him at the water's edge. When I say near, probably ten yards away, but my presence is noted but we don't speak. Early days Simon.

After our sandwiches just after twelve, Lucien suggested an ice cream from the shack. For me, not for him.

I'd ordered a strawberry flavoured ice from the small window at the back of the wooden building. When it arrived, I paid with the coins Lucien had given me, and as I turned, he was there, right beside me.

Remember that song…….the first time I ever saw your face?

His eyes were almost turquoise in colour, his hair matted with salty water, half dried, and his face slightly tanned with grains of sand scattered over it, stuck. There was a little downy golden hair on his top lip. I looked, shocked, straight into his eyes, and he looked back at me. I looked down at his mouth, slightly open, and then back at him. The exchange of glances couldn't have lasted more than five seconds, and I just said what came into my head. Just say something Simon.

'The strawberry's nice.' I blurted, brandishing the ice cream cone in my hand having taken a couple of licks.

That look; and a faint smile, and I reckon, a bit of a blush. Even behind that lovely pale tanned face, there was a hint of pink.

There's a bench at the top of the dunes overlooking the beach. We sat there. Not then with our ice cream cones, but later. It was about three o'clock by then.

Lucien had been talking to the ladies about books and beckoned me over. I was playing with nine-year-old Rex and his spare spade. The elder boy whom I now knew to be Felix, had taken himself off, tired of entertaining the demanding Rex probably. I was looking for an excuse to detach myself from Rex too.

'Simon….' One of the ladies asks, 'Why don't you find Felix? I think he headed that way.' She suggests, pointing behind her to the low dunes at the back of the beach.

He was sitting on the bench that overlooks the beach and the receding tide beyond, and the little river of fresh water flowing off the hills behind us and through the middle of the very uneven sand all the way to water, quite hard to walk on, gradually fanning out wider and wider as it found its way to the sea. He didn't look at me as I approached the bench.

'Do you mind if I sit here?' I ask politely. He still doesn't look at me, but gives his head a couple of shakes.

'Thanks.' I plonk myself down next to him, with a few inches between us. I thought making small talk isn't going to be easy.

'That is your mum down there isn't it?'

'Yes, and her friend. Rex isn't my brother.'

'Thank goodness.' I say, guessing.

'Yes. He's a pest.'

'No one else to play with then?' A masterstroke, I thought, but he ignores my question. Keep going Simon.

'Are you on holiday?'

'Yes, sort of.'

'Why sort of ?'

'Just school holidays, but I live here.'


'No. Padstow. We often get the bus to one of the beaches.'

He turns towards me.

'Who is that you're with?'

'My friend David's dad. Lucien. He's really nice.'

'Where's David?' He asks, looking hard at me.

'He had an appointment so his mum has taken him back to Bristol. That's where we live. He's coming back in a day or so.'

'Where are you staying?'

'In Padstow. Fentonluna Lane. Do you know it?'

'Yes of course.'

'So, are you near there?'


I said jokingly 'We might have been friends then; if I lived here all the time.'

'But we're not……are we.' He said back.

Was that a question? And where exactly does he live? We sat looking at the sea, about a quarter of mile away now, and I know I need to keep things going.

'That's a nice name. Felix.'

Looking down, he smiles for the first time but says nothing. Until…….

'David. Is he your best friend?'

An emphasis on the best.

'Yes. I've known him for ages. He's…….'

'What is he? You were going to say.'

'My friend. Yes, my best friend. We do everything together.'

'What things?'

'You know, all the nice things that boys do together.'

I'm looking straight out at the sea, white horses gathering, rolling in on the refreshing breeze. I'm allowing Felix a few moments to consider my last remark. The nice things boys do together. If he's at all 'that way inclined', as I am, he'll be wondering. He might be thinking that this boy is queer and I need to steer clear, or the opposite. This boy is queer and he's sitting here offering his hand in friendship. Go for it Felix.

Felix's face tells me something. It's in his expression. He's thought it through and he's not going to reject me. So I'm going to lead the way now. Anyway, if I volunteer, maybe he will. Time to offer more info.

'David and I got on from the start. We live together, sort of. We're boarders at a school. Some boys you know you want to know and have as a special friend. He was like that , if you know what I mean. So am I. But we both have; can have, other friends too.' I say, looking at his face looking into mine. I discern good progress made.

'How long are you here for?' Felix asks.

'Two more weeks.'

'Is David your boyfriend?'

That question took me by surprise. Boyfriend. That implies something else doesn't it? This conversation has just taken another turn for the better. I'm excited.

'In a way, yes he is; but not quite the same way these days. We call each other friends.'

'Is it a secret then?'

'No, at least not from the people we are close to.'

Do your parents mind?'

'Of course not. Why should they? They want all of us to be happy.'

'Do you have other best friends?'

'Yes, sometimes. We're not married Felix. We can have as many friends as we want. How would you feel about another boy liking you?'

No answer. I think he's naturally a shy boy. Lovely. A shy boy who needs a little helping hand to move his feelings forward. To where he'd like them to be be but can't quite work up the courage to accept his own longings.

'I think you're lucky Simon.'

Leaning forwards, Felix looks down at the sand, moving it around with his feet, his hands on the edge of the bench. And then another question.

'What's he like, David? Is he like you?'

'In lots of ways he is like me. In other ways he's very different.'

'What's it like at boarding school?'

'Good in some ways, but you have to get used to being all together. You know, not much privacy at times, like getting washed and changed. Going to bed together.'

Felix stops fidgeting and looks at me very directly.

'Do boys ever sleep in the same bed? Are they allowed?' He asks with a slight frown.

'No Felix. Sorry, I meant getting ready for bed. We see each other with nothing on all the time. No one minds. It's just how it is. Would that embarrass you Felix? Having to get out of bed all excited?'


'Yes. Like in the mornings. Your body. Down there. Don't you ever get excited……down there?'

No answer to that one but I can see he's thinking about it.

'Have you ever slept in David's bed?' Was the next big question.

'Yes, lots of times.'

'Here, in Padstow?'

'Yes. Here in Padstow. There's a double bed in the spare room where we sleep. We have to share it.'

'Do you want to.'

'Of course we do. It's a lovely thing to do when you're friends like we are.'

'I wish I was someone like David.'

Great. We're on the same page here. I thought so from the moment he looked around at me on the bus.

'There's something else Felix. David has found his first proper girlfriend.'

I thought I'd drop that one in at this point. There's a long pause while the cog wheels slowly turn.

'Does that make you feel sad Simon?'

'No, not sad at all. It doesn't change our friendship.'

What it does change, which I don't mention to Felix at this point, is the way we conduct our friendship. On occasions it pleases my best friend that I become his proxy girlfriend when the real one isn't around. Funnily enough I can go along with that very comfortably. I'm more than happy to fulfil a certain function when he needs me to. I loved David from the moment we met. He can have whatever he wants from me for as long as he wants it.

Felix has gone quiet on me. He's thinking again. I'll try another tack.

'Are you sad about something Felix? Please tell me if you are. We could talk about it.'

'You wouldn't want to.'

'Yes I would.'

There. I've touched upon something. Something very personal that's bothering him. My lovely shy boy with the butter coloured hair and pretty face.

Lucien is enjoying his conversation with Felix's mother whilst Rex continues his sand castle building, watched by his mum. I want to take Felix for a walk, and with an hour and a bit before we get the four-fifteen bus back to Padstow, there's time.

'Be back by four at the latest Simon.' Says smiling Lucien, with a wave of his rather hairy hand.

We took the path along the edge of the cliff leaving the beach far below us as we head westwards. There's a bench up there no more than a ten-minute walk. On the back of it is a small plaque to the memory of a boy. There were two women already sitting on it, so we walked further on, found a spot well away from the path and not too close to the edge of the rocky and obviously very dangerous cliff edge. We lay on our backs side by side in the warm dry grass, still with a spectacular view eastwards over the bay and beyond to the white lighthouse perched on the high point at Trevose. Then Felix moves onto his side and I follow suit, inches behind him. It's clear that conversation is over for a while at least. I can see bare lightly tanned skin between the top of his ice-blue satin effect shorts [a bit naf in my opinion] and the bottom of his yellow tee shirt. He bends his knees so the gap widens. The grass has seeded of course, so I pick one strand. The tickle makes Felix use the back of his hand to itch the bare skin on his back.

'A fly landed on you Felix.' I explain, lying, and knowing Felix wouldn't believe my far-fetched story. Another tickle. Another rapid movement from Felix. He gropes and finds my hand holding the strand of dried grass. Then he lets go. Another tickle with the purple soft flowery seed head.

'Sorry Felix. Shall I stop teasing you?'

No answer as he finds my hand again and places it on his bare skin; more of it visible now. My tentative yet intimate enquiry is not answered, but neither is it rejected.

With one hand on his shoulder, I gently pull, suggesting he might turn onto his back once more, but he won't budge. I've touched him for the first time without permission and I'm not rejected. That was just his shoulder. His back would mean much more if he allowed me that. He does allow me. Ten minutes gently comforting the boy's light brown back, with all it's beautiful places, has had its effect, just as it has on me. The bonding has begun in earnest.

'Shall we look at the clouds Felix?' I whisper in his ear.

At last. He smiles and looks up at the white summer clouds moving by, above us in the heavens. He's moved onto his back now. I glance downwards. I was right. He looks at me too, and smiles.

Now I want to tell him about Ryan.

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