by Rafael Henry

Chapter 4

I have a key to Bobbie's room for the reason being that it gives me more privacy. Basically I persuaded him. He normally keeps his door locked of course, but if I want to go in there I can now. It's like having your own room that no one else knows you have. The masters are so busy, he won't be in here until way after school ends so at odd moments I can let myself in and have a lie down on his bed in the corner and have a 'think'. If he happens to come back for something that's fine too. They have what they call 'free periods' which are lessons times they are not teaching. About four or five each week I'm told. I know when Bobbie's are, but I'm in lessons anyway so sadly I can't avail myself of the facility at any time during the teaching day. He's never in his room at lunchtimes or in the hour and a half after lessons end in the afternoons.

Rather naughtily I've had a snoop around Bobbie's room, more than once. I'm curious as what his belongings are like. Yes, very naughty. This little activity excited me beyond measure the first time. There's one fitted cupboard in here and a couple of simple pine chests of drawers. Everything is very ordered, something I like to do. Another thing we have in common. Small items of clothing in neat piles for example. Personal stuff. This is what really interests me. Reading matter too. A few paperbacks in a stack on the shelf above the fireplace, and other genres of printed matter too, but in far less obvious places. In the corner there's wash basin and underneath a small cupboard with what one might expect to find in it, spare face flannels, a bar of soap, as well as one item I can only speculate as to it's use. But…….given its shape and character, I can be in no doubt. Next to it is a tube of something that certainly isn't toothpaste. I read the small writing on the tube and then held the black object in my hand. There's only one place you might want to put it if you were a girl; well two places I suppose. But if you're a male of the species, there's only one alternative, I assume. I slowly undid the little white cap on the tube and very gently squeezed it, and took a tiny amount of the contents between my thumb and index finger. So that's what it is.

I lay on the bed and thought about it with the object in my hand. Apart from its colour, an unlikely pink hue, a very convincing reproduction, ultra smooth in texture and slightly flexible, and uncannily similar to sweet Philip's Honourable Member for Groin South, albeit a couple of inches longer.

I slipped off Bobbie's bed and went back to one of the chests and opened the bottom drawer carefully. Underneath everything, it was there, the text in what might be Dutch or Danish. Anyway, one of that type with odd marks under and over certain letters. There were plenty of photos to pore over, and due to a certain naivete in these matters, be educated by. I had a suspicion, but could never get my head around what was obviously something they did to produce the goods for their partner. Oh lordy! As for the pink thing I'm holding in my hand as of this moment, it will make a pretty decent substitute, as the need arises, coinciding with no available consenting partner that evening. Most boys must have explored their bottoms at some time or other, but this thing?

There were precisely six of these publications, two in English, and almost all of the images featured teenaged models, sixteen plus by the look of them, doing their thing together. There was one boy in particular that tickled my fancy bigtime, or would have done very nicely, shown in several positions with his boyfriend. Under, on top one way and then about turn, and another couple of the boys doing something mentioned in one of Lou Reed's albums I particularly like. I never really knew what those words in the lyrics actually meant . Until now. I think I need a talk with Philip at the very first opportunity.

Philip was in one of his happy moods when I saw him after school as usual around three forty-five. We'd had Games this afternoon, so we went into tea still dressed in our sexy kit. Boys notice when another boy is not dressed in uniform. They look. They always look at Philip with his long legs and sexy shorts and his sticky outness at the front. I quietly told Philip the plan; to use my key to Bobbie's room.

We're safe together. That's how it feels in here. Safe to be in his space like this. On someone else's bed, and allowed to be there for our sake. A great kindness and privilege too. Philip and I, warm and safe and happy and sleepy now. I suppose I was in one of those moods. You know, wanting something badly. Just the usual simple pleasure, together. He'll always see me right with that if I want him with me. I love him so…. differentl y. He helped me straighten out the bed afterwards. I could smell Bobbie on the sheets, at least I thought I could. Next year neither of us, none of us in our last year, will be here. But what a time we've had. I stopped kissing Philip just before his moment came; to watch. There's nothing like it; watching the event, the boy with his head back, his body and soul about to be swamped with emotion…….and everything else. Fantastic. I can just see him now, surrounded by his loving children at Christmas time. Good for him. Like me, he needs sex all the time. We're just like that, him and me. We can do it anytime, whenever, wherever.

Next term Philip's going to a school in Suffolk. He doesn't need to pass his Common Entrance like I have to. I have three papers next week, each one hour in length. There are six of us taking it and the night before all the candidates, eight of us, have been told to go to the office of the Director of Studies to talk things through with him. I'm not sure why we have to do that but we do. Talk through what? What is there to talk through? We either know what we need to know or we don't. Exams have never worried me, but I'm lucky like that. I can remember facts and figures easily. There are tricks in maths. And English? Well, English is English isn't it? Science? Complete rubbish. And then there's the Latin. That's tricky, but just another puzzle really; after you've learned the various declensions and conjugations plus a few pronouns and adjectives. I'm reliably informed that examiners will allow you quite a few mistakes and still pass you.

We used Bobbie's room again that afternoon. I wish he was still in our dorm still. That would have been much easier. Clean sheets by the look of things. I thought Philip had gone to sleep but he hasn't. He's pretending. He seems to spend quite a bit of time asleep, or looking like he is, or wants to be, but that's ok. I can go on playing with him. He's smiling at me again. I know that smile and what it means, the teasy boy. We don't take anything off apart from our shoes of course. More fun that way. He's turned onto his tummy now thinking I can't get to him. Silly boy. I can. He's teasing me. Bad boy. Then he curls up, giggling, and then onto his back. His skin feels so smooth as I pass my hand over it and then it creeps up his trouser leg until I reach that thing . Sure enough his winkle feels excited. Great. And then the smile drains away and I know he's ready. There's still time before Tea. It's always him first, and just after, I'll tell him what to do, and then when he's done it for me, I'll tell him I love him. That will bring the smile back to his face.

I looked at the line of white exam papers for the four different subjects, carefully arranged on the long oak table in his office. There were two of each, opened up so you could see all the four pages. We were lined up and given two minutes to look at each one. I was the last boy in the line. I was told to stay a little longer after the others had left. Some of the questions, particularly the science ones, looked quite hard, but most of the others were easy. We then had two hours to revise the questions we had seen. No one was allowed to write anything down. I could remember most of the questions, and looked them all up in my text books. I thought it rather an odd system; to show us all the questions before the exam? I think a lot of schools worry about their reputation, and consequently, their finances.

A week later we had sat all the tests, and I thought I had done reasonably well. The night after our last exam, Bobbie Elmer came into our room and told me he wanted to ask me how I'd fared in the tests. Our light had been out for over an hour but he didn't need to wake me up. Liam was in bed and gently snoring so he didn't see me leave the dorm. Bobbie checked, so that's ok. I slept in his bed all night. At no time did I feel unsafe in his arms. Nothing felt wrong or unnatural. Everything felt right, bathed in the light of mutual affection. Regrets, I have none. I just slept in his bed, that's all. I was exhausted after all the mental strain of the test and went straight to sleep. Really.

I woke at six thirty looking into a smiling face. Everyone else would still be snoozing.

'Are you alright Tom?' He asks, running his fingers through my hair.

'Uhuh. Fine thanks.'

'You need a haircut boy. Shall we run?'

'Do we have to?'

'No. Do you want to go back to your own bed now?'


'Are you happy to stay here for………'

He looks at the clock on the bedside table.

'For another forty minutes? Then you'll have to go back.'


'Do you want to go back to sleep now?'


'What then? Talk for a while?'

'Yes. Can we?'

My exam papers were sent off, I'm told, to my first-choice school to be marked. Three days later I was summoned to the Director of Studies office. He told me that my parents wanted me to sit another exam the next day. I asked him why I had to do that. He just shrugged his shoulders and said nothing, apart from……

'Just do as you're asked please Tom. There's a good boy. Off you go. It'll be at nine tomorrow morning in Room 12, so don't go to your normal lessons. And don't forget to bring two pens, a pencil, a rubber and a ruler. Have a look at these sample papers before you go. Read, mark and inwardly digest. Just like the last time. Good luck!'

And that was it. Do as you're told Tom. I looked through all the questions, made a few notes on the paper he provided, and set off for the library to look up all the relevant information. As I said earlier, the reputations of schools like this rely on good exam results to survive. Enough said. All's fair apparently, in love, war, and scholarship successes. Hardly.

Around four thirty I went to see Bobby to tell him. I lay on the bed with him and then he let me lie on top of him, his arms around my back, my legs either side of his, my face just below and to the side of his. I'm in one of those loving moods. I can feel his breath on my head. Warm and comforting. With my hands I can adjust my position, in fact I need to, just a little higher. It takes me a few seconds before I've worked my way into the perfect place.

'Are you comfortable now Tom?'

'Yes, now I am. Are you?'

'Yes thanks.'


'Yes, thanks. Do you have to do that Tom? Can't you keep still for a minute?'


His hands are either side of my hips now, and he's right, I can't stop wriggling; or whatever you'd call it. With my head on one side and my hands over his shoulders, I'm looking at his bedside clock. Ten past four. I've just come from an exam room so I haven't changed into play clothes and nor has he. I thought he would stop me but he hasn't. It takes me several adjustments but, after a short period of linear expansion, shall we say, I finally adjust myself directly over Bobbie, perfectly aligned, perfectly compatible one with the other. Bobbie stops complaining about the weight on top of him as his grip on my hips tightens. A perfect alignment indeed.

'Tom. What are you doing?'

I don't answer. I just keep doing it.

I'm looking at the clock again. I've had my eyes shut for the last fifteen minutes. A quarter past five now. I'm thinking about what I've just done. Will this herald the end of our friendship, another dreadful telling off, or the beginning of a new and even more exciting relationship? A different kind?

I'm lying next him, and have been for a while. Everything is quiet now, the very recent past gone. Everything back to normal as if it had never happened.

'Tom?' He says, turning my head towards his.

'I'm sorry. Again.'

'That's ok. Shall we call it an irresistible determination?'

Thank goodness. He's not angry with me.

'I'm not thinking straight. Sorry. I've got to do another exam tomorrow. Two in fact.'

'Really? Nothing like changing the subject then?'

I laugh while he gently turns me so I slip onto my side, but still so close to him. He turns away from me. I can imagine why. What's good for the goose and all that. He doesn't want me to see him. Fair enough, but I'd like to see him. Just curiosity I suppose. I'm not so naïve that I don't know what happens with older boys. He has his back to me so I can put my hands on his shoulders. They feel strong and curiously hard. He seems preoccupied with something

'Can I come in with you tonight? Just for a bit?' I ask quietly. There's no response, but a few seconds later…….

'Are you sure?'

'Umm. Liam's letting the others talk and lark about for ages after lights out. I need to get a good night. I can set my alarm for nine just in case.'

There were two other boys in the examination room. The tests were harder this time than the other ones but I could do them. Several of the questions I had revised came up, in fact most of them. But I had to think harder than usual. Tired by the end I badly needed to see Philip. I just had to tell him what's going on with Bobbie. He's completely trustworthy. I'm on some sort of euphoric cloud right now about Bobbie. And it's about those exams too. I have this fear that I've done rather well. It's a scary feeling.

I know that Philip and I are close to the end of our lives here in this place and we both need to see as much of each other as we can. I just want to feel him close to me, my day time date. I just want to touch his body and feel its warmth against mine, his skin against mine, all of him. I just want to be with him. I just want to give him the pleasure he gives me so wonderfully. To kiss his lovely mouth, to lick his skin with my tongue, to rub him warm, to hold his hands in mine, to lie down with him……..everything.

My parents came over and took me out to dinner tonight. I love Indian food so we went to the Taj Mahal restaurant in the town. Not the real one! I had a chicken dhansak, as usual. Apparently I've always enjoyed spicy food. That might just be a consequence of being born in India. You grow up with hot food there. My favourite Indian ice cream is a kulfi, to finish off the meal. Mango flavoured preferably.

'You've saved me some money for the next few years son.' My father says, leaning back in his chair. I looked at him, shocked by the sudden thought that I might have passed.

They've had a 'phone call from my first-choice school and I'm, or rather they, want me to go to next year. Inexplicably, I have done well enough in all three papers. Hence the treat. I'm not sure how I managed this unexpected bonus for my father, but I have. I've never considered myself particularly intelligent; more artful, deceitful, manipulative perhaps, but of an awkwardly loving nature, and dare I say it, emotionally responsive since day one, according to mum. One morning, I can distinctly remember, my mother was getting me dressed, not long out of my new 'big boy's' bed. I had a very tickly erection inside my pyjamas which was normal for me. I asked my mother why my otherwise little round headed 'worm' got so big like this? I didn't listen to her explanation, more concerned with the lively object between my legs at the time, but I remember her saying I had this phenomenon from a very early age. I put my finger on the end and pushed the rigid object downwards and then let it go. The way it sprung upright again amused me greatly, apparently.

'Don't keep doing that darling, you'll hurt it.'

I think I had my first proper 'feeling' at an early age. And quite by accident, but I can still remember it clearly. One morning in bed I was playing with it as usual. It felt incredibly hard, hot, and very sensitive. Unusually so. It felt different this morning. Ultra sensitive. I kept on gently rubbing the whole length of it as the tingling gradually became more intense. The sensation got stronger and stronger until I came. I remember being shocked not only by the depth of the feeling inside my tummy and most of all, right inside my penis, but also by the realisation that I had never experienced anything like that before. I had been warned by my mother that this may happen at some point, but I was still unprepared for the actuality. Of course a boy doesn't know what to expect until it happens. I lay in bed thinking about what had just happened to me. Ten minutes later I tried again, and for a second time I orgasmed. I'd made my poor little winkle quite sore by this time, my thumb on the top had made a deeper pink place, so gave up on thoughts of a third attempt. I guess that was the beginning.

'You look pale this morning darling.' She asks as I sit down for some breakfast cereal. I don't answer.

'Has something happened darling? This morning?'

'Yes mum.'

'Was it the thing we talked about?'

'Yes I think so.' I replied, looking up at her sheepishly.

She came over and gave me a big hug. She's a good mum. I'm sure she thought I'd had what she called a wet dream. It wasn't that at all. It was all induced by my good self. The shape of things to come, you might say?

Gradually I began to link that orgasmic experience with friendships. They were either that kind of friendship or the other kind where sexual thoughts would never be on the agenda. I began to see the other boys around me as attractive in that way , or just as attractive personalities that would be fun to know and associate with. Things changed between my mother and I too. Since my first admission to her that I had had an intense sexual pleasure, conversation on the subject became much easier. In the bath I would previously turn onto my tummy if had an erection that I'd rather she didn't see. If that happened subsequently, I'd take a curious pleasure in letting her see it. I wouldn't touch it but I'd let her see what her son was made of. Sometime later, as she had warned me, I began to ejaculate immature semen. I made no secret of it, leaving damp squares of lavatory tissue under the bed for her to find. A gentle way of telling her about changes to my bodily functions I suppose. Her little boy was growing up.

One day I told her, responding to a casual but probing question, that I thought I preferred boys to girls, generally speaking. Her response to that was……

'Oh, that's lovely darling.'

She may have been disappointed at the time, but now she still loves me for what I am and will always be. When she took me in her arms to tell me once more, of course I cried. But not from any regret, but from joy. From that point on I actively looked for like-minded boys to enjoy sex with. It was now very much part of a friendship; an essential part. Some boys need that element in some of their relationships, and for others, it's entirely different. A boy standing innocently in the dormitory pulling up his pants to cover his very handsome erect penis is a joy for me to behold. For others, just nothing. The discovery of one or two of Bobbie Elmer's secrets opened doors in my imagination. I never said anything about what I had seen to Philip. Loyalty is everything in my book.

Saying goodbye is never easy. I'm not going to say, 'slept with' in the context of Bobbie Elmer, I'm going to say, 'slept in his bed'. That has far fewer dark connotations. So, yes, I've slept in his bed several nights now. I have felt his arms around me, his bare skin next to mine, and we've kissed at length with more than a little eagerness. That's as far as I can go, in truth. We said our goodbyes in bed together, which is a good place to get stuff like that over and done with. We both wept, just as we knew we would when the time came.

'You know I'm going to cry don't you.' I say as a matter of fact.

'Yes, knowing you. And that'll start me off. We're all going to miss you Tom.'

They were welling up when I said cheerio to Liam, bless him. Dutiful Liam. He was far too stoic to weep. I made a point of seeing Liam alone because I knew I would indeed shed a few tears. I didn't want to embarrass him. I held out until he gave me a hug. That did it.

My father had warned me, only after I'd been at my Devon Prep School for two years, [probably a bit too late] that masters in those places could 'give their emotions and desires rather too much freedom'. His very words. I suppose that sums up the young and handsome Bobbie Elmer. He then quoted some words from the diary of Vita Sackville West's son. Vita had various affairs with women friends, before her marriage, during it, and later.

I did not know that Vita could love like this, had loved like this, because she would not speak of it to her son. Now that I know everything, I love her more, as my father did, because she was tempted, because she was weak.

I'm sure that many of the boys here are easy to love, and to accept [rather than seek] their friendship is not an evil act, as Bobbie accepted mine.

My father went on to say that sex, and he used that word, and thoughts associated with it, were powerful and can tilt rational thinking the wrong way, and that a good man can be tempted to risk his reputation and freedom if he lets his affection for his pupils dominate his judgement. But……genuine love and affection need not necessarily be rejected by anyone from anyone. I guess he was leaving the door slightly ajar, very possibly from his own experience. But I have no hard evidence for that view. Just the odd hint. Occasionally my father makes good sense.

I have to admit that Bobbie and I had our moments of irresponsibility, but I'm equally certain that neither of us should feel any shame. We did nothing shameful. It was something we both wanted, coming at it from opposite directions, and meeting in the middle, so to speak. Well. Not quite. Shall we say, tantalizingly close.

I decided that saying goodbye to Philip had to be different, childish even. His people were in the drive on the last afternoon to collect him and his trunk and tuck box. He looked as beautiful as ever, so cute in his uniform, long brown legs and arms, and shorts up to his neck as usual, his skin enriched from all the numerous outdoor activities we did almost every day. He was about to get into the car, the door held open by his mother, when he saw me standing some twenty yards away. We had already said our farewells earlier [with a final clandestine meeting of our minds and bodies, over far too soon]. He ran over to me and stood in front of me, very close. Kissing mouths and bodies was second nature to us. It was always our first thought when alone and unobserved. We took one another's heads in our hands and shared one of the deepest embraces that two boys together could ever achieve. I've no idea who witnessed this tumultuous outrage, in public, and I don't care. It was the most fitting end to our friendship I could imagine.

And then the big Rover car disappears, purring down the gravel drive, and gone. I quickly bolted for the back of the nearest building, hoping not to lose control before I could be in private, to have one of those cries when you can't control your shoulders. It was the most powerful and heartfelt outpouring of a boy's grief at the loss of a dear friend.

Haywards Heath isn't the most exciting place to spend the next seven weeks until I'm off again to Big School, but this time it's not south Devon, but an elegant town in Gloucestershire. The Heath is commuter country, with it's easy connection to London and The Office , as so many fathers refer to their place of work, just like mine does. As regular as clockwork they go early each morning from platform 1 at the station, suited and spurred on by the thought of The Pension at the end of it all. A Ministry of Education Pension in his case. The train line is the best escape as it leads in forty-five minutes in one direction northwards to The Metropolis and all the interesting things that has to offer, and in the other direction southwards, to Old Ocean's Bauble…….lovely old Brighton-on-Sea, just twenty minutes away, and all those other things it has to offer a quite acceptably looking pubescent boy dressed to kill.

'Can I go down to Brighton today mum?' The boy asks. He's thirteen like me.

'Yes darling, but you will be careful won't you? Make sure you won't need the lavatory darling.'

Good advice. The place has a reputation. Even on the train going down there. My father took me to a football match at Brighton last season. Someone had lent him season ticket in the main stand next to the directors' box. The shorts the players wore were short. Barely anything of them. It's the fashion now; very short shorts. There's a competition amongst the boys to see who can get away with the briefest and the tightest, just covering what's underneath. The girls have been wearing them for years, so why should us boys miss out on all the fun? Only to some extent was I allowed by my mother to show off like that.

'Can I have these mum?' I ask, holding them up with both hands, stretching the waistband to make them look bigger than they are.

'No darling. These are much nicer…….don't you think darling?'

No I don't.

I had three letters in the second week of the holiday, two weeks before our own family holiday to North Yorkshire where my father came from and where we had relatives. We go up every year. It will mean long walks in the middle of nowhere for a week. For this mandatory period of purgatory, my mother always buys me a new book. She had asked me what I'd like this time. I asked for something from a new writer I'd heard of; Patrick Gale. I'd seen a poster for it in a tiny bookshop in the Lanes in Brighton. He writes romantic fiction in a setting that I thought interesting. On the poster there's the image of a boy on a beach which looked like Devon or Cornwall, and a lighthouse. I could imagine myself there, with that boy, being friends with him, crying for the loss of a drowned man. You see, I'm a teenager now, imaginative, emotional and romantic, and vulnerable. I'm excited by all the possibilities , and easily hurt. Philip didn't abandon me; our parting was written in the script, that's ok, but Bobbie did.

The first letter was from my Headmaster in Devon. A standard thing they must have sent to all the leavers wishing them good luck at their new school [not mentioned] in September. Thank you very much Sir. How kind.

The second, a long white envelope with three French postage stamps in the corner, contained three photos of Philip which I had asked him for before we left Devon for good. I asked him for a couple of holiday snaps. I knew he was going on a beach holiday in France. He's sent three nice ones. My mother saw me opening the envelope, so she looks over my shoulder as the contents of the envelope are revealed.

'Is that Philip darling?'

'Yes mum.'

'What a lovely looking boy. The elder of the two I assume?'

'Yes. That's his little brother.'

'Oh, how sweet. You were very good friends weren't you darling?'

'Yes mum. Very.'

'Do you miss him very much?'

'Yes mum. A lot.'

'You poor darling. There will be others I'm sure.'

'Do you think so?'

'Yes. I'm quite sure. Have faith darling. You must believe.'

I turned away from her. She knew why, and left me, very alone.

My mother listens to a Sunday service on the radio. She listens whilst preparing the Sunday roast for lunch. My father has no interest in church going, but I went a few times during a 'belief' period, aged around eleven, coinciding with my growing awareness of the beauty of boys. With these emerging thoughts growing ever more significant in my mind, and interesting bodily developments, I feared the wrath of God. So I went to church with her, and prayed. Every time I prayed, I was terrified I would weep and people would see me. I'd had a couple of conversations with our school chaplain in Devon, a nice middle-aged man who we knew a Rev. Quentin [his Christian name] and was the vicar of the local village church. I'd mentioned the problem I had when I tried to pray, as my mother had taught me. He said that prayer was an attempt to 'connect'……and this connection was a very intimate time. Best not to attempt it in church, in my case perhaps, but just listen to others, and choose another time and place when one can be alone, sincere, and honest, and pour your heart out alone with Him. The last time I saw this admirable person in a dog collar was the Sunday after I'd spent a good chunk of the night in Bobbie Elmer's bed, a fact that I decided not to mention. As I left his room, he raised both hands and smiled, and said one word……..Immanuel. Later that day Philip asked me where I'd been for the last half an hour. I told him I'd had a quick chat with the Chaplain, and mentioned his parting word to me.

'What does that mean Phil?'

Of course he knew what the word meant, being a boy who walks as close to God as is possible in my opinion, but definitely not in his. Anyway, he told me.

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