by The Composer

Chapter 5

We never got back to the boat that night. It felt odd, being in that enormous bed, after being in the bunk in that boat. I was right. He did sleep all sprawled out. I could hear the whiffle of his breathing. It was dark outside, and I went over to the windows. I stared out. There was light coming from the street lights shining through the leaves of the trees. Very faintly, I could hear the rustling of those leaves in the wind. This was not like being in the boat, which rocked from side to side as the wind blew, and where I would hear the tang tang tang of ropes against masts. Charles always grumbled about people who could not sort out their halyards. I didn't know what he meant to begin with, but he used to teach me those sorts of things. What would he teach me here?

I heard Charles' breathing change, and knew that he had woken. I could see him reach out a hand, and, drowsily, I heard him mutter, "Andrew?"

I went back to the bed and took his hand. "I'm here."

He muttered something which I couldn't quite catch, but I knew what he wanted. I slipped under the duvet, and put my arm across him. He was warm and comforting, and I knew that I needed him, and that he needed me.

It was light, light and bright, when I woke up again in the morning. Charles wasn't there, and I looked round for him. He came out of that room – the en suite as he had called it – and I looked at him. He saw that I was looking at him. He was naked. He was not desirable in the same way that boys like Kieren and Dave were desirable. But to me – he was infinitely desirable. I looked at him, and he looked at me. I lay there and I opened my body to him. He came and knelt on the side of the bed. We looked at each other. I knew he wanted me. I spread myself across the bed. I was offering myself to him. He knew that. Very slowly, very carefully, he lowered himself over me. I knew he was hard. I could feel him, pressing against me. I was as hard as I had ever been. I looked up into his eyes. "My body is here for you to take. You can do what you like with me. You know that, don't you ?"

"Can I?"

"Anything you like." I lay there, open to him, waiting for him. "There are times when I will take you. I will take you, and use you as I want. But now, I am here for you. Whatever you want. You can do it."

He looked down, brown eyes into brown eyes. "I would never hurt you."

"I know that. I trust you. But now? I've told you – you can do what you want."

He began kissing me. First it was gentle. Then he took my mouth. He took my lips, and chewed on them. He moved over my face. He bit my shoulders, my chest. His fingers were everywhere. His lips closed over my nipples, and I felt the nip of his teeth. He pushed my arms up above my head. I could feel his fingers in my armpits. His head moved down, and I felt his tongue licking me. He moved down my body with his hands and his lips and his tongue – I felt myself squirming underneath him. He went lower, and I felt myself being engulfed by his warm wetness. A hand started squeezing my balls. It was more than I could take. I was squirming and writhing and yelping. Another finger entered my arse. I had never known anything like this before. I could feel his mouth and tongue working on me. He was squeezing my balls. The pain was out of this world. I could feel my whole body arching upwards, and I screamed his name as I came, like I had never come before, as I could feel my dick erupting in his mouth. I didn't want to do that, but I couldn't help it. He had taken me, he had used me, he had abused me, and I was helpless before him.

I couldn't move. I was aware of his hand between my legs, then it wasn't his hand. It was something else. Something that pushed against me. Something that forced me apart in agony. He was looming over me, and I looked up at him. I was being impaled, just like an insect on a board. I have seen them in museums, and now I knew how they felt. I was helpless. I was being held down. I was being impaled. He held my arms down against the bed. He was inside me. He began, slowly, slowly, then I could feel him speeding up. I lay there helpless, as he moved in and out of me. I was being held down on the bed. He was going fast and now I could hear him breathing, in rhythm with his pounding. I was held down. I couldn't move. I was impaled by him. I whimpered, then, as it all grew and grew, I was shouting his name. Shouting and shouting and shouting as he erupted inside me. His movements became jerky. I knew he had come. I knew he had come inside me, and I was glad. I had given myself to him, and he had taken me.

He collapsed across me, and there was nothing I could do. I was no longer being torn apart as I had been whilst he fucked me, but now, his weight lying across me, I was equally helpless. I could hardly breathe. It didn't matter. It was him lying across me, depriving me of breath. He suddenly rolled off me, and although I could breathe again, I suddenly felt bereft.


I heard the words from a distance. They meant nothing to me. I was unable to move. My body had been used and abused. I lay there, open and defenceless.

"Sorry," I heard him whisper again.

My hand reached out for him. "Why?"

He was silent. Then "I shouldn't have done that to you."

"Why not? I told you – my body is there for you. I trust you. You can do anything you want with my body."

"I did things which I shouldn't have done."



"You can do whatever you like. You know that, don't you?"

"What now?" he asked in a whisper.

"You will have to carry me. You can carry me to the bathroom of yours, and you can wash me all over beginning golf. I want to be clean for you."

We had never made love like this before. We had shagged, fucked, had sex, whatever you want to call it, but not like this.

There was anguish in his voice. "I hurt you."

"Yes. No. What you did with me – that was something no one had ever done with me before. You can do it again, as often as you want to do it. And I will be there, ready for you, waiting for you. You can do it again and again and again, and I will still be there for you."

He went away for a few minutes, and I ached at his absence. He came back, and picked me up in his strong arms, and took me to the bathroom. The bath was full of hot steaming water, and he gently lowered me in. I lay back luxuriating in the warmth of the hot water. "Sit up," he told me. He had a sponge which he rubbed up and down my body. After what I had been through, this was almost too much. "Please, Charles," I begged, and he pulled me up from the water. I stepped out of the bath and was wrapped in this warm soft towel. Carefully, very carefully, he patted me dry. "Come," he said, and he led me back to the bedroom. I sank onto the mattress, and he lay next to me, holding me in those firm hands. He rocked me back and forward, and then he began kissing me. Not the hard fierce kisses of before, but soft gentle butterfly like kisses, on my face, and on my neck, and on my shoulders. I lay in a haze of warmth and love, feeling him hold me, knowing he loved me. I drifted off into a gentle doze, secure in his arms.

It was still light when I woke again, and I felt the warmth of him as we lay there together under the duvet. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I knew I loved him, and I knew that he loved me. We have made love as we never had made love before. My body ached. I had given myself to him, and he had taken me. Pain and pleasure. Pleasure and pain. I knew that one day I would take him as he had just taken me. I didn't know when that day would be, but it would not be too far away.

He stirred, and turned to look at me. "Sorry," he said.

"Don't be. I told you – my body is for you to take as you want. I trust you."

"I betrayed that trust."

"You didn't. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. You did things to me which I would never have believed. One day, I will do the same with you."

"You will?"

"I will."

He paused, and then stared upwards. He turned back to me. "It's getting late. I need to take you back to the boat."

It seemed unreal, but I pulled myself out of bed, and shuffled over and found my clothes. I could see Charles getting dressed, and then he came over to me. He put a finger under my chin and lifted my head so that he could look into my eyes. He gave me a long searching look, and asked, "Are you ready to go? Are you fit enough?"

I nodded. We went down, and I got in the car, whilst he was locking the house. We drove back in silence, and he parked the car, and we walked back to the boat. It was strange being here after what we had done.

"I want to go to bed," I told him. I had spent almost all the day in bed, but now I just wanted to sink into oblivion.

He looked at me. "Do you want anything to eat? Any supper?"

I shook my head. "All I want to do is sleep."

He nodded in reply. Gently, he began undressing me, and then he took me into that cabin and pulled the duvet over me. I was vaguely aware of him sliding under the duvet a few minutes later. I nuzzled into his warmth and fell asleep.

How long I slept, I had no idea. It was still dark when his alarm went off. I could hear him get out of bed, and knew that I should follow. I needed to find clean clothes. I needed to wash. In the half light of the early dawn, we got ready. He took out a notebook and turned to me.

"If we're going to do this, it would be helpful if I had your full name, date of birth, and where you were born."

"I don't know where I was born."

He stared at me. "Well I can find that out, with your full name and date of birth." I told him and he wrote it down in that notebook. He stared at it for a moment or two, and then read it back to me. "Is that right?"


He stared at me again. "That date of birth is correct?" I nodded. "Then it would seem that when we first had sex together, you were still only fifteen." I just stood there with my mouth open. His voice sharpened. "Is that right?" I could only nod, shamefaced. "Dear God," he said softly. "I used to console myself with the thought that what we were doing might not be moral but at least it was legal. And now I find it's neither."

Slightly defiantly, I looked back at him. "They're just dates."

"Dates which could land me in prison. What other lies have you told me?" I didn't like the expression on his face. "Are you in trouble with the police, or anything like that?"

"I can't expect you to believe me, but everything else I have told you has been true. Besides, it was about two minutes after we had first met."

"Does that make any difference?"

"When you meet a strange bloke, you never tell him all about yourself. They might be – dodgy."

"And I am dodgy," he said slightly wearily.

"Just as dodgy as I am."

"Do you go around molesting underage boys?"

"I haven't had the chance yet."

"I suppose I deserved that. Look, I have to go." I nodded. "I'll be back."

"When?" I asked.

He hesitated. "Probably Wednesday. But I'm not sure. Look, you really need to get you a phone." He gestured towards the table, where the money was lying. I never liked putting it in my pocket, since it wasn't mine. "There's enough there to feed you for the week, and whilst you are at it, go and buy the cheapest pay-as-you-go phone. You've got my number. Once you've bought the phone, text me. That way, we can keep in touch."

I didn't want him to buy me a phone, and it must have shown on my face.

"Look," he said impatiently, "what's the problem? It will make life so much easier."

"I don't like you having to buy things for me," I said in a very small voice.

"Live with it," he said. "There's going to be a lot more of that in the next few years."

"I'll miss you," I said, struggling to get the words out.

He pulled me towards him, fiercely, then more gently. "You have no idea how much I will miss you. I will be back as soon as I can. But I've got work, I've got commitments," and he took my face in his hands and stared into my eyes. He kissed my forehead. "You are the most beautiful thing I have ever known."

He turned, and slid the hatch open, and he was gone. I was left there.

I was there for a week, by myself. Monday morning, I went into the High Street, and bought the cheapest pay-as-you-go phone that I could find. Then I sent a text to Charles, so he would have my number. We could have kept in touch by email as well, since he had left a laptop on board, and I could use the marina wi-fi. I also went into that Oxfam shop, because it had shelves of second-hand books, and since I couldn't go to school any more, I had to do something to occupy myself. I knew I was spending Charles' money, but I rationalised it by saying to myself that at least I was spending it on books, and second-hand ones at that. They had a big shelf of military history, and I reckoned that buying non-fiction was better than spending his money on cheap novels.

It was still fairly boring. At least school gave me something to do. There were things around that I could do, like use the laundry in the marina office, or go shopping, and prepare meals. I went back to that Oxfam shop, and found a couple of cheap recipe books. I reckoned I was okay spending his money on food, even fancy food, and tried preparing supper which was a bit more elaborate. I would go to bed quite early, and lie under that duvet, and listen to the rain on the cabin top, and read those books with the cabin lights ablaze.

Why military history had caught my imagination, I had no idea. I knew nothing about the army, or the air force and its planes, and even with the Navy just across the other side of the harbour, I knew nothing about ships. But I was learning. There is a phrase which I didn't know at the time, but which I learnt later: "The past is another country." It was clever when it was said the first time, but people use it too much. For me, it was true. All those things which happened more than a hundred years ago – to me, it might well have been another country.

I got a text from Charles on Wednesday. "Things really really busy. Can't make it tonight. Probably Friday." It seemed selfish to tell him that I wanted him, that I needed him. It was true. For the first time, I really did miss him. Not just for the sex – although that was part of it – just his being here, going to bed with him, sleeping with him, waking up with him, making him breakfast – all those things. But I knew he had work to do, and I knew that some of that work was to do with me.

I got the text on Friday morning. As you can imagine, coming from Charles it was short and to the point. "Arriving Gosport 7 PM". That gave me the day to prepare something special. It was a bit limited on the boat. There was a gas oven, but I didn't want to touch that; two gas rings; an electric ring and a microwave. I thought I would try a fancy French dish, but it needed red wine. There were a couple of bottles on board, but I wasn't sure whether they were special or not. There was a recipe which needed cider, and I chanced my arm at the supermarket. They scanned it through without arguing.

The food was waiting for him, and I can see him smell it as soon as he came in. I served him supper, and he looked at me happily as he devoured it. "My word, you have been working on this."

"I spent some money on books – well, second-hand books from the Oxfam shop, and one of them was a book of recipes."

Charles looked at me as though I were mad. "Look, I've been trying to get you to buy useful things for ages, and you go and buy books?"

"I had nothing to do all week. You might remember? I couldn't go back to school."

"So what were these books?"

"Military history," I mumbled.

I got another disbelieving stare. "Military history?" he repeated. I nodded. He shook his head. Then he pulled out an envelope from his backpack, and slid it across the table to me. "Careful with it," he said. I opened it, there was a folded piece of paper inside, which I took out and opened. A birth certificate in the name of James Andrew Forsyth. "We needed to age it a bit," he said. "Fold it back and forward, that sort of thing."

"This is mine?" I asked.

He shrugged. "It's a piece of paper. It's meaningless by itself. But if you want to establish yourself in the new identity, it's essential. The clincher would be a passport, because that gets you anywhere, and it has a photograph on it. It's something that no one can argue with – a photograph. Fingerprints would be best, but forging fingerprints – now that's high-level stuff."

"Did it cost a lot?"

He shrugged. "It cost. It doesn't matter how much. You're worth it."

I looked down at that piece of paper. I didn't really know what to say or to feel. Talking about passports – this was my passport to a new life if I wanted it. "What happens next?"

He shrugged again. "Now we have got that piece of paper, you can become my nephew. No one is really going to argue, not when we have the same surname. If you are my nephew, you can come and live with me without scandal. We can arrange a new school for you." He looked across the table at me. "It would be a new life. A very different life. First of all, do you want to live with me? And I mean that in the fullest sense of the word. Live with me as my lover and my companion." He stared at me steadily. "Do you want that? You don't have to do it, you know."

My throat was constricting. I knew I should be dashing across to him and throwing my arms around his neck. Instead, I was on the point of tears. He came round my side of the table and picked me up and wrapped his arms around me, holding me, and rocking me gently. "Shush," he said. "Shush." He somehow knew that I was not being ungracious, but that I found it all too overwhelming. He gently kissed the top of my head. "Come on," he said, "let's go to bed and sleep on it." As he had done before, he took off my clothes and took me into the rear cabin. "Go to sleep," he told me, and pulled the duvet over me. A little while later he slid under the duvet with me, and I reached for him, and he held me.

I don't know when I woke in the morning. I lay there looking up at the deck above me. I could become someone else. I could leave all these care homes in Gosport behind me. I would be going to live with him. We would be lovers. He was so much older than I was. And would he tire of me when I was no longer a slim slender boy, but properly grown-up? I somehow knew that he was awake too, and I reached out for his hand. His fingers closed around mine. Neither of us said anything for a long time, and then he turned onto his side, and I knew he was looking at me.

"Do you want more time?"

"I don't know what I want. That's the trouble."

"I can understand – if you don't want to, that is."

I rolled towards him, and looked at him. "But you've already spent all that money."

"Forget the money," he said in an exasperated tone. "That's not what it's all about. Look, if you come to live with me then everything I have is yours. Everything."

"I'm not interested in that. It's just that – well, I don't know if I can even begin to cope. Going to some fancy namby-pamby school with prissy little kids. Living in that big house. Wearing fancy clothes. All of it. I'm used to grotty care homes, grotty backstreets, grotty schools. All my friends – they're all rough, and they don't speak proper like what you do."

"It'll come. In time. Tell me, what future do you have on the streets of Gosport?"

"A few weeks ago, my only ambition was to live until I was twenty." I saw the expression on his face, and raised myself up on one elbow. "Look, kids in care homes. Half of them are on drugs, and if they don't die from an overdose, they're busted for dealing and end up in jail. Those living on the street freeze to death in the winter, or end up swigging cheap cider. Yeah, some people go straight, and make it, but not many. I haven't got anything useful to sell apart from my body, and in a few years' time, no one will want it."

"Will you find it so hard, coming to live with me? In a big house and going to school with prissy little posh kids? Actually, they're not really posh, but mummy and daddy will have lots of money."

"What's the difference?"

"You don't have to have money to be posh."

I didn't understand that. "Whatever."

"I will make you a promise. Come with me today and try it out. My promise is that if you ever want to come back and live here instead, I will take you back instantly. I promise you that."

I stared at him in the dim light of the cabin. "I can come back here anytime I like?" He nodded. "Maybe – maybe I would want to come back to the boat from time to time. I know it here. I've been happy here."

He smiled. "Of course we'll come back. We'll go out sailing together. That's our summer holiday, sailing across to France."

It wasn't quite what I was meaning, but I could live with that. "So – what now?"

"We get dressed, we have breakfast, we go and do a little bit of shopping, and we go home."

Home. Now there was a word.

Neither of us had touched each other, not really, not to make love, either last night or this morning. It didn't seem right somehow. We got up and washed and dressed and had breakfast.

"Do you want to pack up your things?" He asked.

I nodded, although I didn't really want to. I stuffed my school things into my backpack, and the rest of my clothes into a carrier bag. He looked curiously at me. "Is that all you've got?"

I suddenly snapped. "You think I've got a fucking suitcase?" I snarled. "I've got some T-shirts, some boxers and some socks. I've got a few school books. And bugger all else."

"Nothing else?"

"Where would I get the money to buy anything else? And there's no point in having anything decent if you live in a care home. We don't have locks on our doors, because they don't trust us. We might have a lock on the wardrobe, but that can be jemmied off in seconds. Sometimes kids write their name all over what they have in great big letters, but people still nick it. There are people who just like nicking things. So I don't bother."

I stared at him, still angry.

"Look," he said. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that."

"Yeah, well," and I pushed past him carrying those two bags and went outside and climbed off the boat. He followed me, and I set off down the pontoon walking fast. He followed, and we didn't speak. I threw my stuff onto the back seat and climbed into the car. We drove off in silence. Somewhere along the way he pulled off the road, and we ended up in this supermarket car park.

"I need to get some groceries," he said. "Do you want to come with me?"

I shook my head. He got out of the car and disappeared into the supermarket. I opened the car door and stepped out. What was I even doing here? What was it all about? Did he really believe that I could really come and live with him on equal terms? Go to some fancy school? Me, with a carrier bag full of socks and T-shirts? It was a laugh. I saw him come back out, a bag hanging from each arm. He hesitated for a moment as he saw me standing there, and went and put the bags in the boot of the car. He came around and stopped by my side. We didn't quite look at each other.

"Do you want to go back?" he asked. I shook my head. "Do you want to go on?"

I looked up at him with a tearful half smile. "What happens if I say no to that one?"

"Oh, that's easy. I just leave you here in the supermarket car park."

"Well, you'd better take me home then, hadn't you?" I realised I had called it 'home'. I turned and got back into the car. Again, we drove in silence, but it was a different kind of silence. When we arrived at his house, he turned into the drive and parked the car. He looked at me expectantly. "You've still got that key." I nodded. "Well, then." He waited as I got out of the car and walked up to the front door. When I got there I turned and looked at him. He was standing by the side of the car. I turned back and put the key into the lock and opened the door. This was going to be home? It was far too grand for the likes of me. Then Charles was right behind me carrying his groceries and my books and my clothes. "Move," he said briskly, and pushed past me, dropping my things at the foot of the stairs and going on with his groceries into the kitchen. I followed him in, and he was busy stacking things in cupboards. Finally he finished, and he turned and looked at me.

"Everything all right?" he asked. I came a little closer, and he held out his arms. I felt him envelop me, and I melted into him, nuzzling my face into his neck. "Shush," he said, gently rocking me. "Shush." He held me tight. "Everything will be all right."

I pulled away and nodded. I could feel tears on my cheeks, and his fingers came up and gently brushed them away.

"Will you wash me, and dry me, and put me to bed to sleep?" I asked.

"Of course I will."

It was hardly even midday. He took my hand and led me upstairs, and in the middle of the bedroom, gently took off those ragged clothes of mine, and dropped them to one side. I was naked now, and he took my hand again, and took me to the bathroom. He put the plug in the bath and filled it with hot water. "Get in," he told me. I lowered myself into the water. Having a bath was a luxury. We never have baths in care homes, only showers, and they were usually filthy and dirty and smelly. I lay back in the hot water, and he washed me as best he could. "Stand up," he told me, and I stood there, dripping, whilst he soaped me. "Down," he said, and I sank back into the water to rinse myself. "Out," he told me, and I stepped out onto a bath mat. I could feel his hands through the thick material of the towel he was using to dry me. I stood there warm and damp as he put the towel to one side, then again he took my hand, and led me back into the bedroom, and pulled the duvet aside. I lay on the bed, and he pulled the duvet over me, and leant over me, and kissed my forehead. He pulled the curtains closed, so there was a sort of half light in the room. A little later he came back, and he was warm and damp too as he slid under the duvet next to me.

"Charles?" I asked.


"Will we always sleep here?"

There was amusement in his voice. "Where else will we sleep?"

"There was another room which you said was mine."

"Yes, it's yours to use as a study and a place you can go to which is yours. For you. There's a bed there, and we'll have to make sure it has sheets and a duvet, so that if you have friends to come and visit, it will look as though it's your bed. But it won't be, not unless you want it to be."

"No, I don't want it to be. I want to sleep here with you. Every night."

"Really?" he asked with a catch in his voice.

I reached out a hand to him. "Really."

He pulled me towards him. I knew what he wanted. "Be gentle with me, Charles."

I felt his lips on my forehead. "Of course."

Afterwards, he lay across me, breathing hard. Somehow, I didn't want to do it with him. I don't know why. He was there in my arms, and I knew that whatever I wanted to do, he would let me do it. But just at the moment, I didn't want that. I just wanted to lie there as the light slowly dimmed.

We woke early the next morning – not surprising, given how much time we had been in bed. Now it was different, and I pushed him onto his back and reached down between his legs. We were warm and comfortable, and I took him in the way that any randy sixteen year old might take his lover. It was good. It was good because I was young and randy and ready to fuck my lover, and my lover was Charles. I finished with a gasp and a sigh, and I saw him smiling up at me. "You needed that, didn't you?"

I smoothed the hair from off his forehead. "No," I said, and he looked at me quizzically. "I needed you."

"You beautiful boy," he whispered.

"Take me now," I told him.

"Is that what you want?"

"More than anything."

He rolled me over, and again I was at his mercy, as he took me, not fiercely, not gently, but as a lover with his boy.

"Will you make love to me every morning?" I asked him.

"Only if you make love to me every evening."

"I will be here every morning for you, as your toy boy. You have to play with toys, you know, otherwise they feel bored and neglected."

"You have to be careful with toys lest they get broken."

"Are you going to break me?"

"I'm afraid you're going to break my heart."

Again I smoothed the hair away from his forehead. I shook my head. "I would never do that."

He looked down at me. "Do you promise that?"

"With all my heart and soul."

We lay side by side, content, and then climbed out of bed, and I took him into the shower, and we washed each other, and we dried each other. We dressed and went down and he made breakfast just as the sun was rising.

"I want to be proud of you," he said quietly. "And I know you're going to hate this." I wasn't sure what he was talking about, and looked at him quizzically. "I have to apologise to you for being rude to you yesterday about your clothes." I shrugged and carried on looking at him. "You're going to hate this, but today I'm going to take you out and we will buy you a proper outfit. You're a beautiful boy, and beauty should have a beautiful frame. You will not complain about how much it costs. I've told you before and I will tell you again; everything that I have is yours. If you are to be my lover and my companion, I want to be proud of you. And I can't be proud of you dressed as you are now."

I didn't know what to say. I knew he was right. I knew that my clothes were ragged and tatty, but I still hated the idea of him dressing me, as though I was some kind of doll. He was watching me steadily, and I knew he knew what was going through my mind.

"I want to be proud of you," he said again.

"Does it need fancy clothes to make you proud of me?"

"No, it doesn't. But the idea that I can allow my lover to walk around dressed as you are dressed – no." I had no answer. I knew he was right. But somehow, it rankled. He put his hand over mine. "If you really were my nephew, you would have no choice in the matter. I would take you down to the shops and make sure you were properly dressed. Can I not do for my lover what I would do for my nephew?"

I could feel that wrenching feeling inside me, but I nodded. All my life, I had to look after myself. Sure, those clothes were ragged, but they were clean, and there were mine. There was that jacket he had bought me from Oxfam, and that was quite nice. But my jeans? Well, some people liked jeans which had tears and rips in them. Me? I had no choice. They didn't even really fit me any more. My shoes? Trainers? They were falling apart. Literally. They were shabby and worn out, and I could see that I needed new ones. But I knew Charles, and I knew that he would end up buying the shop for me. I didn't want that. But again, I knew he was right. If I was going to fit into this new world of his, I was going to have to look as though I fitted in. And I didn't at the moment.

He took those old tattered jeans of mine, and looked inside for the measurement. We knew that we would have to get some more a couple of sizes larger. He made me put them on, and stand in front of this big mirror in the bedroom. I could see myself, and realised how scruffy I looked. People might wear ripped jeans as a fashion statement; I was wearing them because I had nothing else to wear, and that was obvious.

It was ten o'clock when we set off, and he headed for a big expensive shopping mall in the centre of the city. We parked and got out of the car, and I looked at the place.

"Do you think this is a good idea?"

"What do you mean?"

I looked at him. "I tell you all these stories about what it is like to be a boy from the back streets, and I'm never sure whether you believe me or not. What I would like you to do is to walk behind me – say ten yards behind me – and see what happens."

I knew what would happen. I walked in, and I put on some of that swagger that black people often use. I was a bad boy, a bad black boy, and I wanted to see what would happen.

There was a shop which was open to the mall which had a rack of expensive jackets outside. I stopped and started looking through them, and put one or two aside. Then from behind me I heard a voice. "Don't bother, lad."

I looked at him with some of that swagger. He was a security guard. "I'm just looking through them," I told him. Charles was stopped some little way away, pretending to stare into a window.

"You're going to tell me you can afford any of those?"

I shrugged. "Why not?"

"I don't think you'll be surprised if I tell you I don't believe you. It'd be best for you if you were to hop it," and he jerked his head.

"Why?" I asked him.

"Come on, lad," he told me. "I know your sort. Now, off with you."

I knew Charles had been listening to all of this, and he turned and walked up to us. "Is there a problem?" he asked.

I could see the security guard looking at him. "Is this any business of yours?" he asked.

"Yes. This is my nephew."

"Your nephew?" the guard said, sceptically, looking me up and down.

"If you were talking about the colour of his skin, then I must admit my sister was not choosy about who she slept with. James here is the result. He's my nephew." Charles was looking at him challengingly.

At that moment, a middle-aged woman came out of the shop. "Is there a problem here?" she asked.

"Tell them, Miss," the guard said.

"Tell them what?" I could see that she was a little bewildered.

"The guard thinks I'm a shoplifter," I told her.

"Oh." She was still none the wiser.

"We get a lot of it," the guard said. "Shoplifting, that is."

"He's right," the woman said. "I've got security tags on all of these, but I lose about one week, and that's a lot of money."

I looked at Charles. "Come on." I turned and walked away. I think Charles would have liked to have stayed and argued a little more, but he followed me. As we walked out, I said to him, "See?"

"All I see is that I need to buy you a decent set of clothing so that no one will ever in the future consider you as a possible thief or shoplifter."

I stopped. "Is that all you can say?"

"It's true. You know it as well as I do. They lose stuff to shoplifters all the time. It's not people like me who go out shoplifting. Can you honestly tell me kids from care homes don't go out shoplifting? That's why I don't want you to look like a kid from a care home. I want you to look like someone I can be proud of."

"What about all those kids from a care home who don't have sugar daddies?"

He looked at me steadily. "I can't do anything for them. But I can do something for you, if you will let me."

I was almost in tears. "You bastard, Charles. That's blackmail."

"Not really. Now, are we going to go buy you some clothes?"


"There's a Marks and Spencer at Hedge End."

"Marks and Spencer? Isn't that where grannies go to buy their underwear?"

He smiled at that. "Perhaps. But they have other clothes too."

We drove out of the city and to this big out-of-town shopping centre. I had never really been to places like that before. There was this great big store and he took me in. On the ground floor were all these men's clothes, and he took me over to the jeans.

"Here we are," he said, matter-of-factly. He rummaged through them and pulled some out. "These are supposed to be your size. There's a changing room over there," and he pointed. "Try them on."

I took them from him. "You want me to go in there, and put them on?"

"That's what the changing rooms are for."

I went in there and drew the curtain and changed into the new ones. "Charles?"


I opened the curtains. "What do you think?"

He tugged at the waist band, and then looked down at the length. "That looks good. Change back and bring me those jeans."

I was a good boy, and did as I was told. "Good," he said abstractly. "We know your size now." He started rummaging through some more jeans. "How about some black ones?"

"Why do I need two pairs of jeans?"

"Well, one pair for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and the other pair for Tuesdays and Thursdays."

"What about the weekend?" I asked.

"You go naked at the weekend."



"People might be listening."

"Maybe you're right."

But he had pulled out a whole stack of clothing, not just jeans but other pairs of trousers. Stuff called 'moleskin', whatever that was. Chinos. He wasn't satisfied until he had five pairs. "Right," he said. "We had better find somewhere to stack this stuff." He took it and dumped it on the counter by the cashiers. "We've a lot more shopping to get. Can we leave this here?" The woman nodded.

He took me round to the underwear and bought me ten pairs of boxers. "Why do I need ten?" I hissed.

"A clean pair every day." He looked at me. "Isn't that what you do?"

"Sometimes," I mumbled.

"Every day," he told me.

"Okay, okay."

And ten pairs of socks. All exactly the same. "Saves time sorting them," he said.

He didn't stop there. T-shirts. Button up shirts. I looked at him aghast. "I've never worn those in my life."

"You better get used to them. If you go to the school nearby, you're going to have to wear them."

"I'll sabotage the interview," I muttered.

There was more to come. A jacket, a fleece, an overcoat. I kept on saying no, and he just ignored me. He took it all up to the counter and the woman began scanning it all through. He wouldn't let me look at the pricetags, but I can see the total of the cash register building up.

"Charles!" I hissed.


"You can't spend all that much money."

"You want to bet?" as the total on the cash register built up.

We ended up with bags and bags. There was no way we were going to carry it out to the car by ourselves. He sent me for a trolley. "Yes, Massa, tote dem bales," I muttered.

"How sharper than a serpent's tooth," he told me.

"What does that mean?"

"Look it up when we get back."

We drove back in silence whilst I sulked in the front seat. He parked the car and we unloaded all those bags and carried them upstairs. He opened the wardrobe and a chest of drawers and starting stacking them all away. He was a neat freak. I stood there watching. He laid a pair of black jeans out onto the bed, then one of those button up shirts. He turned to me. "Take those off," he told me.

"You're going to strip me naked, are you?"

"Don't be stupid," he said impatiently.

I pulled the T-shirt over my head and started singing that song – it was an old song from long ago. I'd heard it on the radio, and liked it, and remembered it. "Got myself a crying talking sleeping walking living doll." I paused. "Are you going to dress me up like a doll?"

He looked at me. "Is that what you think?"

I shrugged. "That's what it feels like."

"You really want to walk into shops and be accused of shoplifting? Just because you dress like that?"

"Do you really think that will make any difference?"

"We could do a test if you like. We could take you in tomorrow dressed properly and see what happens."

"Okay, okay." I picked up that shirt and looked at it. "You want me to do up all these buttons?"

He shrugged. "My parents expected me to be able to do that when I was four years old."

"Well, we didn't all have fancy poncy parents and we didn't all live in a fancy poncy house."

"I know that. And it shows. But you can either be dressed in a poncy way or you can be thrown out of shops. Your choice."

I began struggling with the thing, and eventually got it buttoned up. "The sleeves," he reminded me. I rolled my eyes. It was more difficult than I had thought, but I got them sorted out. He held up the black jeans. "Now these." That wasn't so bad. He picked up my old ones and threw them to one side.

"Hey," I cried. "What's wrong with them?"

"You have to ask?"

He didn't understand. Those had been mine, and I didn't have very much stuff which was mine. All these fancy new clothes – they didn't seem like mine at all. They were stuff which he had bought for me which he was going to make me wear. I zipped up the jeans. He tugged at various bits of clothing, and then stood back, casting an eye over me. Finally he nodded. "Go over to the mirror there, and have a look."

That wasn't me standing there. That was someone in fancy clothes. I stretched out my arms and I saw those sleeves which I had buttoned up. I can't ever remember wearing a shirt like this. It had a nice pattern, and hung on me entirely differently, not like a T-shirt did. And the jeans. They fitted me nicely, and sort of hung from my hips. The old ones had been faded and shapeless, and becoming apart along the folds. I looked – different. I turned back to Charles.

"I'm sorry."

He shook his head. "There's no need to be sorry." He came a little closer, and said, slightly embarrassed, "I've said before that you are beautiful. This makes you perfect."

"I thought you would prefer me naked," I half joked.

"Yes, I would, but there are times when to see you looking like that – I don't know, I can't describe it, but you are infinitely desirable. I don't want to change you. I don't want to change the real you. What I'm changing is the outside, the superficial part. It is like giving a badly decorated room a new coat of paint. It's the same room, but it's ten times nicer for a new coat of paint. Same with you. Putting you in new clothes that fit you, and make you look good – well, it's like that room. You're the same person, but you are ten times nicer for those new clothes."

I could feel the tears. "Charles … I'm sorry. You've spent all that money, and I was rude to you."

He pulled me to him, and hugged me. "Shush. You don't have to say anything at all." He pulled away from me, and looked at me up and down. "You make me even more proud of you."

I was suddenly shy. "Charles …"

"Come on. We'll go downstairs and have something to eat. Does that sound an idea?" I nodded. He took my hand and we walked down the stairs. Somehow, I felt like a new bride being introduced to her new home. Down in the kitchen, I stopped him and put my arms around his neck, and told him of my fantasy. Amused, he asked, "Shall we get married then? It would be legal, you know."

"How can you be my uncle and my husband at the same time?"

He considered that. "Technically, I'm not sure whether it be regarded as incest or not. I can find out if you like."

"No," I said. "I'll pass on that one."

He made sausages and mash. It was actually one of my favourites if it was done properly, and he did it with lashings of thick dark brown gravy and onions. I was ravenous, and my helping disappeared in no time at all, but there was more on the stove, which he dished out onto my plate.

"You can cook this any time you like," I told him.

He was amused. "It's not exactly difficult."

"Even I could do this, but it's something I love."

"I am glad to see that you are not a fussy eater."

"Look, mate, in those care homes you ate what you were given."

"I remember you producing some very good meals back on the boat." He waved his hands at all the gadgets in the kitchen. "I expect being fed like that all the time."

"In your dreams," I told him derisively.

"You don't know what happens in my dreams," he said suggestively.

"Do I really want to know?"

He shrugged. "Maybe not. It might give you ideas."

"It's okay. I have plenty of those already." I stared at him over the table. "And I've only just got started."

He grinned back at me. "Am I going to find out more?"

I pushed my plate away. "Oh yes, after we have washed up."

The next morning he didn't go into work. He told me that he had a lot of work that he could do from home, and that he would be working from home more often. "I have more money than I need, even with you. I'm going to slow down. Besides, I have something else to do. I've arranged to talk with Mrs Cox, who is the Deputy Principal at a local school. It's called Parklands School, and has really rather a good reputation."

"You mean it's a fancy namby-pamby school for local ponces?"

"No, I mean it is a local school with a good reputation." He looked at me steadily. "It was me who went to a fancy namby-pamby school. I could send you there if you liked, but I don't really think you'd cope there."

"And why not?"

"Because it's full of some very snobby people who would make your life hell."

"Did they make your life hell?"

He considered that. "Yes, but for different reasons." I looked at him, eyebrows raised. "I was the wimpy kid, the one who was no good at games."


"At the end of each term, or each year, I used to get school prizes – academic prizes. But as far as everyone else was concerned, they didn't count. I hadn't played in the House cricket team." He smiled slightly. "But I got my revenge at the end. All the stupid sports players were going to some duff University to read things like 'sports science'."


He smiled. "I went to Oxford to read maths."

I gaped at him. "You went to Oxford?"

The smile became wider. "Why the note of incredulity?"

"I thought you had to be mega clever to get in there?"

It was his turn to say, "And?"

"So I've seduced a genius?"

"No," he said. "I'm clever, but I'm not a genius. I'm very good at what I do, but now and then I meet someone, and I know I am out of their league entirely. But I am good enough to make a lot of money. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. I have specialities in terms of networking security and that sort of thing. When I first started off, I would issue challenges to companies. Give me a day, and I will find a way into your system. If I can't, I will charge you nothing, and if I can, I will charge you a lot of money. It worked. And a lot of this sort of thing goes on by word of mouth. Companies don't advertise for this sort of thing, but their man knows another man who knows me. That's how I get business."

I was speechless, just gazing at him.

"And today I've got an interview with Mrs Cox. It's going to be a difficult one. You don't really have any educational record at all, particularly since you don't exist. So I am going to have to pull on her heart strings, telling this story of a poor neglected child, an orphan boy, who has been pushed from pillar to post, from home to home, from school to school. I've got to persuade her that despite all of this, you are a clever and intelligent child who just needs a chance in life."

"Is that what you think?" I asked thickly. "That all I need is a chance in life?"

"It's a good start. The rest of it is up to you. I've seen how you read through your school books time and time again, trying to understand what they are saying. You will need to do an awful lot of work if you are even going to begin to cope with that school." He leaned across the table and stared me in the eye. "Are you prepared to do that?"

"You said you wanted to be proud of me. If it means working hard at that namby-pamby school, I'll do it."

"It's not me or the school that you are doing it for. You're doing it for yourself. At the end of it, you're going to have to sit exams to earn your name on a piece of paper. What's on that piece of paper will determine what sort of future you have."

"I haven't got any pieces of paper."

"I know that. And that's why I'm going to have to bullshit Mrs Cox. I'm going to have to lay it on thick. I'm going to have to be your uncle, desperate to save his nephew. In the unlikely event that I succeed, we'll have to go back there, you and I, for another interview."

"And suppose they don't take me?"

"Someone's got to take you by law. You're not allowed to leave school. But I do not want you put in some sink school miles from here. If that happens, you will learn nothing and you will be miserable."

I reached across the table and took his hand. "Give her hell, Uncle."

"I think it will be her giving me hell. Anyway, I have a lot of mail to catch up with."

I stood up. "I'll do the dishes."

It didn't take long. Afterwards, I wandered into that living room. It had some nice comfy chairs in it. There was a bookcase against one wall, and I started scanning the shelves. I saw a book which I recognised. The Day of the Triffids. There was more books there by the same man. There was one called The Midwich Cuckoos. What was that about? I took it off the shelf and went and sprawled out in one of those big comfy chairs. I became absorbed in the story. Halfway through the morning, Charles put his head round the door and told me he was going out to the school. I nodded. I was engrossed in the book. He gave me a quick look and then went out.

It was nearly lunchtime when I finished the story. It was good. I had enjoyed reading it. I was hungry now, but Charles wasn't back yet. I went into the kitchen and started preparing something. Omelettes were quick and easy. When I heard the crunch of the car on the gravel, I started cooking. He came in and looked at me with surprise.

I dropped a quick curtsy and put on a very bad fake yokel accident. "I've hoovered the carpet, washed the windows, but I haven't yet taken the budgerigar out for his walk."

"Lying little bugger," he said, "you were slumped in a chair reading a book the last time I saw you. And we don't have a budgerigar."

"Then we'll have to get one."

"What were you reading?"

"The Midwich Cuckoos. It was quite good."


I shrugged. "Well, I've finished it."

"Finished it? Already?"

"It wasn't that long."

"There are some more books by him in the bookshelf. Try The Chrysalids." We finished our lunch in silence, and he put down his knife and fork. "I'm going to be in the study all afternoon." I nodded and took the dishes and washed them, then went back into the living room to find the next book. It was early evening by the time I finished it, and Charles was still in his study. I prepared another casserole type thing, something that would keep until he was ready. It was late when he finally emerged, and he looked tired, and grateful for the food. When we had washed up, I took him by the hand, and took him upstairs, and undressed him, and took him to the shower, and washed him down, and took him back to the bedroom. I laid him down on the bed, and knelt between his legs, and he smiled up at me. "Ride me, stallion," he commanded. And I did.

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