Sense of Doubt

by William King

Chapter 8

The Message.

My phone buzzed, a message. I grabbed it from the bedside table and held it up looking at the screen. No name and I didn't recognise the number. I opened it and read: "Watch this." There was a video attached. Curious as to who was sending me videos, I opened it. I watched as the camera jolted and jumped about, then focused. It seemed obvious the person taking the video was holding the camera. But it was who he was filming and what they were doing which I couldn't quite take in.

It was definitely Matty, no mistake. The camera captured his face from the side and he looked straight into it. He was bent over naked and the guy holding the camera was fucking him. It jumped, jolted, and blurred a bit, but there was no doubting what I was watching. The camera focused for a couple of seconds, like a porn movie, it was very clear. It cut to black.

I was stunned. I jumped up out of bed and replayed the video, once, twice. I stopped it when Matty looked into the camera. It was him and this wasn't faked. I took a shower and stood under the jets of water looking up and letting them hit my face. What the fuck was going on?

Turning off the shower I grabbed a towel and started drying myself. Just then the door opened slightly, it was Michael.

"Get out!" I shouted at him. "Can't you see I'm in here?"

"Sorry," he replied.

I was so angry, but I shouldn't have exploded at Michael. Did I even have the right to be angry with Matty? But who the hell was it. Of course, you couldn't see the guy holding the camera, there were no clues.

After I got dressed I went down to get some breakfast and found Michael at the table eating toast.

"Sorry I shouted at you," I said.

He looked up, nodded, and went back to eating.

I got some instant coffee and a bowl of cornflakes and desperately tried to think about what to do. I half wanted to phone Jonathan, but that I thought would be taking too much of his time, we'd only yesterday talked all about me and my relationships. Anyway, what would he say?

I finished eating and put the bowl and coffee mug in the dishwasher. I went back upstairs and lay down on my bed, staring at the walls and ceiling. Why would, who ever it was, send me a video? What for? To hurt me? To say that Matty was gay? And Matty, he'd only just got back here. So was the guy in the video even from here or was it from before. But what was the point? Nothing made much sense. I couldn't even say Matty was cheating on me. Certainly, no more than me with Jake.

Picking up the phone, I juggled with it, then played the video again. It didn't matter how many times I played it, it was not going to suddenly explain everything to me. I was planning to call Jake and say hello . Like it would be rude not to after Friday night. Except, should I tell him about this? I didn't know. What's he going to say anyway. I picked up my jacket, put my shoes on, and called out to Michael.

"I'm going out for a bit. Need some air."

I heard him reply, "okay," and I headed off in no particular direction, but up towards the park. The sun was out and it was a nice day, birds were chirping, but otherwise the street was quiet. As I walked I tried to reason things, think logically, place all the possibilities on the table, or at least get things clear in my mind.

Whoever this guy was he had my number. Matty doesn't have a phone and hasn't had one for a while, so whoever it is didn't get my number from Matty. Who has my number ? I got my phone out and scrolled through my contacts. There were quite a few people. A nyway, this person probably wasn't on my contacts list. It's possible they got my number from someone I know, so it's possible they are a friend of a friend, or not even a friend. It might be anybody. "Can you give me Alex's number I need to call him?" Nobody would think too much about that, at least not if the request was from someone at school. Edmund has my number, Michael, I think maybe I gave it to Max. Shit, not everyone who has my number is on my contacts.

This was going nowhere. I sat down on a bench in the park, looking out down the hill over the city. I remembered being in this very same place with Matty. I needed to talk to him, quite obviously he knows this guy. But did I really want that confrontation? I know what Matty would do if the tables were turned, and perhaps I should do the same. Actually, that was a plan. A good plan even. I would try following Matty after school, see if he goes home. In fact, I decided, why not start right now.

I got up and headed off downhill in the direction of Matty's house. When I reached his street I started walking slower, I had no idea what I would do, but finished up hanging around on the opposite side of the road a few houses down. Glancing from time to time across the street, I tried to look like I was doing something. I attempted to be inconspicuous, but I doubt I was. Anyone taking an interest would wonder what I was doing, it probably could have looked suspicious. Luckily no one was about.

As I was telling myself this was a waste of time, and as I was going to leave, I saw the front door open. Matty appeared and beckoned to me. I quickly crossed to his house and met him at the front gate.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" He asked angrily.

"I need to see you."

"Shit, not here. Are you crazy? My parents are inside. If they see you..."

"Sorry, but I really have to see you."

"Go to the park and wait. If I can slip out I'll meet you. Wait a while. Okay. I can't promise. Now go. Get out of here."

I smiled sadly and turned, leaving quickly. Glancing back over my shoulder I saw him slip inside his front door. When I returned to the park I followed the path back up the hill and sat on the bench waiting. I kept thinking what he would say when I showed him the video. When had it happened, and with whom?

It was more than thirty minutes before I saw him jogging across the park towards me. He arrived, a little out of breath.

"I don't have long. So be quick," he said.

I brought up the video on my phone and hit play. I passed it to him and watched him watching it. His expression was fixed, a frown across his forehead. He handed back the phone and looked at me. I stared up at him.

"Who was that?" I asked quietly.

"Does it matter?"


"Forget it. It's nothing. How did you get it anyway?"

"Sent anonymously."

He nodded. "I've got to get back," he said, and turned to leave.


"It was a while ago. Okay. I can't explain it now. You trust me or you don't."

He started to walk away.

"I trust you," I called after him, and watched him disappear back towards his home.

I sat there for sometime, none the wiser about anything. Except I had convinced myself that the guy in the video was Ryan. It fit. He had rea son on to get back at Matty, he had reason to send the video to me, and if he wasn't gay, he was probably bi. Not too difficult to work out. I stood up. My mind was made up, I would confront him, and then smash his fucking face in.

I knew where he lived. Not far away. I turned and headed in that direction. The closer I got to his house the more angry I became. I was entering his street when my phone buzzed. Pulling it from my pocket, I saw it was a text from Jake.

U coming over?

I considered it for about a second, before tapping out a reply.

Cant something came up. Sorry.

It buzzed again.

If you change your mind.


I replied.

Now I was outside Ryan's front door. I rang the bell and waited. There was no answer. I rang again, keeping my finger on the button, letting it ring. I don't know why, it was evident no one was home. Frustrated, I turned around and left, walking back up the street. It was then I saw him. Looked like he had just said goodbye to somebody and he was coming my way. As we drew close he looked at me quizical.

"Alex. What you doing here?"

"I came to see you." I was fuming. It was all I could do to not punch him in the face.

It must have shown, because he asked. "You okay?"

"I have to show you something," I told him. I was making it up as I went along, but I didn't want a fight on his doorstep, even if nobody was home.

"Show me something ? " He repeated li k e a moron.

I reached out and grabbed his arm. "It's not too far to my place. Come on," I said, pulling him along.

He didn't resist, and we walked together in relative silence for the next fifteen minutes. As we entered my street he suddenly asked. "What have you got to show me?"

"Let's go inside, there's nobody in," I replied, and he followed me in. "Come upstairs," I said, kicking off my shoes.

Ryan took his own shoes off and left them in the hall. He followed me up the stairs and into my bedroom. We stood there facing each other as I pulled my phone from my pocket. In a repeat of earlier, I opened the video and handed the phone to him. As he took the phone and looked at it, I moved around him and closed the bedroom door.

"Play it!" I almost shouted at him.

He looked down at the screen.

"I know it's you. You bastard. Why'd you send it? Fucking gloating or something?"

He looked up and stood there, still, like a statue. The colour seemed to drain from his face. I was ready to let loose on him. I tightened my my hands into two tight fists and grimaced.

"Wait!" He said, loud and clear. He was looking at my arms which I held straight at my side.

"That's not me." He looked directly at me.

"Fuck off!" I spat out the words.

"No, Alex. It's not me in the video. Ask Matty. Ask him. If he's saying it's me, he's lying."

"I'm gonna fucking kill you," I screamed and moved towards him.

He grabbed at my arms as I went to hit him, and flailed about trying to land a punch, but he held hold tight. As we jostled around, he twisted sideways. I lost my balance and we fell together over the bed. Ryan was quicker to react and regain control. He was sitting astride me, pinning back my arms.

"Listen, Alex. For a minute. It's not me in the video."

Our eyes locked. I was still squirming around beneath him, trying desperately to wriggle free, but his weight was pressing down on me. He was almost lying on top with his whole body keeping me fixed there.

"Whatever Matty told you he's lying. I can prove it!"

I stopped struggling and stared at him.

"If I let you up, you're gonna be calm?"

I gave a little nod. He jumped off of me and moved across the room, as if he was getting ready to make a dash for it. But, he didn't. He stood with his back against the door. I guess he just wanted some space between us.

"Play the video." He nodded towards the phone which had fallen onto the floor.

I moved to sit up on the side of the bed. "I've played it dozens of times," I glared at him.

"Maybe you were too..." He seemed to search for the right word. "Shocked. Too shocked to see the detail. Look at the guy's cock."

"What!" I screamed stand ing up and moving towards him.

He visibly grew tense. "That guy is cut. He's circumcised. Do you wanna see my cock?"

I bent down and picked up the phone. I don't know what was going through my head. I played the video, and played it again. I stopped it on a blurred frame, but it was clear enough. The guy filming had taken a close up. Probably wanted to make the point, or... never mind, it was clear. The guy was circumcised. I'd seen Ryan enough times in the showers, especially that one time he tried to come on to me. It wasn't Ryan. I sat back down on the bed, put the pho n e aside and lowered my head in my hands.

After a bit, Ryan joined me. We sat side by side, in silence.

Finally, he spoke. "You're gay then," he said very matter - of - factly.

There was no point denying it now, although Ryan is not the person I would have chosen to co m e out to. I mean, a year ago, I nearly did, but that was different. He is about the best looking guy in the year, but he's not gay. I stayed silent, even then I didn't confirm it.

"It doesn't matter to me," he said quietly. "Actually, you know, I've always fancied you."

I looked up, shocked, and turned to face him. Did he just say what I heard? The shock must have been written across my face, because he smiled broadly.

"I like guys too," he said. Tentatively, looking at me, but not directly, he put an arm around my shoulder. "I'm sorry ."

"For what?"

"Everything. All the stuff between us. What's happened. That," he nodded towards the phone.

"Yeah, I'm sorry to. Sorry I nearly punched your lights out."

He laughed. "Do you think you could have?"

"I don't know. Maybe, but you were quick."

"You were too emotional, but I understand that."

I looked at him and he returned my gaze. I don't know what happened in that moment, but something changed between us. The memory of our encounter in the showers flashed into my head. Suddenly I was getting hard.

"I'll help you sort it out. Promise," he said.

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