Sense of Doubt

by William King

Chapter 9


I called Jake, we had a long talk about things, I told him some, but not all, of what was going on. He asked me to come over and I couldn't help wondering if that was a good thing, but like always, I was led by my cock and not my brain. We spent the evening together and not talking about Matty, Ryan, or that mystery guy.

I saw Ryan, Monday morning, we exchanged nods, as if now we were suddenly best buddies. I remembered just how that nearly was the case, what seemed like ages ago, when John-boy had asked me to talk to him. At lunchtime I found him again and we had a little chat.

"I'm gonna follow him," I said, talking about Matty. "I want to know who this guy is." I gestured with my phone.

"And what'll you do if you see him?" Ryan asked.

I looked at him. Given how I'd very nearly punched his face in, he was probably asking if I was going to do the same to this other guy.

"I don't know."

"Don't get suspended, or worse, expelled. Maybe that's what this guy wants. You ever thought about that?"

I hadn't, but why would he?

"Matty told me there was someone following him, so I'll just hang back and see if I see anything."

"Let me know if you do. Like I said before, I wanna help." He smiled and walked off.

I watched him, my eyes lingering on his shape, my thoughts returning to last night at Jake's. I was hard thinking about that and wondering about Ryan. My tongue played across my lips as I turned towards the school labs. I had a meet arranged with John-boy, he wanted to talk about the rugby team.

Monday afternoon, Tuesday and Wednesday, I discretely followed Matty home, and saw nothing, nobody. By Thursday I was ready to confront him about the video. He had not been very forthcoming at the weekend and I wanted to know who this guy was and what was going on. One person knew and that was Matty.

I saw him near the end of lunch and told him to meet me at the little garden around the corner from school. We didn't say more than a few words, but I noticed he didn't look too happy. Still, he agreed.

Then something happened which changed things. We had a free period, because a teacher was absent, last period of the day. Normally, I'd have skipped off home, but I had arranged to meet Matty. Anyway, Ryan came over, he sat on the desk next to me. The classroom was mostly empty, nearly everyone had headed home.

"I've got something to show you," Ryan said, looking down at m e from his position on the opposite desk.

I glanced up and my eyes lingered on his legs, my thoughts lingered on something else, before I mentally slapped myself. "What?" I asked.

He slid his phone from the pocket of his blazer and handed it to me. "Take a look at this."

I held up the phone and peered at the screen. It looked like the changing rooms. There was, it seemed a fourth year boy on the floor, naked. His towel was across the floor. Another older boy was leaning over him.

"What am I supposed to be looking at?" I asked him, handing the phone back.

"Me!" He replied. "That was taken when I cornered Edmund in the showers to get him to give up the facts on telling his sister about me."

"It could be anybody," I said. It wasn't possible to distinguish who the two boys were.

"Yeah, but it isn't. But that photo was text ed to me. Anonymously."

The cogs in my brain whirled and clicked into place. I retrieved my own phone, found the message with the video.

"From the same number?" I read out the unknown number.

Ryan looked at his text. They were the same.

"The only person who came into the changing rooms that day, was Enzo." Ryan looked straight at me.

"Enzo?" I found it hard to believe the guy taking photos, the guy screwing my boyfriend, was Enzo.

"Yeah. The only guy who never got the message that the class was cancelled, was in the changing rooms when I was on top of Edmund."

"And he took a photo?"

"There are more," Ryan stared at me.

"So why? What does he want?"

Ryan shrugged.

"No, I don't buy it. Enzo's a dick and follows Stew and James around, but I just... And if he stumbled into the changing rooms, no. I mean think about it. He walks in there, sees you on top of Edmund pulls out his phone, snaps away, you don't notice any of this. Nah. Not possible."

"There was no one else there and I wasn't looking at what he was doing."

"You've been a real prick, Ryan. You know that?"

He gave me a little smile. "And you haven't?"

I actually found myself liking Ryan, despite all the stuff that had gone down between us. There was no doubt he was very attractive and had attracted me. I guess I was disappointed to find out he was going out with my cousin, but the situation was a bit different now. We all do crap things and act like idiots. Me, Ryan, and I reckon Matty too. No one is like a perfect teenager, the words perfect and teenage don't go together. It's more like getting thrown around in the drum of the washing machine, everything colliding, you just hope the stains get washed out and you step out looking reasonably clean. Although you can't forget getting dirty in the first place, if you see what I mean.

"I'm meeting up with Matty after school. Come along. I'm gonna ask him. This whole thing is stupid, the one person who knows is Matty."

"Okay, you're on. I'll meet you in the carpark at going home time."

I nodded and smiled at him, watching him sling his bag over his shoulder and exit the classroom.

Forty minutes later Ryan and I were chatting in the school carpark, standing near the gates, when Matty rolled up. He glanced at Ryan, then turned to look at me. Frowning, he asked, "What's he doing here?"

"Ryan got sent some photos. He wants to know who sent them. And I want to know who this guy is. That's why we're here."

He didn't look pleased, but we headed off together out through the gates.

The little garden with the bench in front was as deserted as the first time I'd talked with Matty, we sat down. Matty and I sat on the bench, Ryan sort of stood and then perched on the arm.

"So?" I looked straight at Matty, but he avoided my gaze.

Matty was looking down at the pavement, Ryan was staring blankly at nothing. I watched Matty.

"Enzo," he said, which made Ryan jerk his head and I was, surprised.

Yes, surprised. I had already dismissed Enzo. Mostly because of how Ryan had described how he entered and left the changing rooms when he was on the floor on top of Edmund.

"You said you thought he was following you, but why did you never say anything about this before?"

Matty looked up. "It was blackmail. Either I let him... or he was going to expose you."

"How did he even know about us?"

"That's down to me," Ryan said.

We both turned our attention to him. "Yeah, I heard you were spreading rumours."

"I'm sorry, right. What can I say, the spotlight was on me, I didn't like it. I shifted it to you. So it's me who told Enzo you're gay." Ryan was looking at me sheepishly.

"This is all so fucked up," I said.

"No more than you and Jake," Matty replied.

Ryan looked at me, but said nothing.

"But you and Enzo," I stared hard at Matty.

"There is no me and Enzo. You know why I left here to live with my aunt?"

"Because your parents wanted to get you a long way away from me."

"Yes and no." Matty shifted around, looking from me to Ryan. "I hated you for trying it on with Alex in the showers. So I guess I kicked all this off."

"Yes and no, you said. What does that mean?"

Matty looked back to me. "I needed to get away."

"Enzo didn't take this." Ryan passed his phone to Matty.

"Why not?" Matty was looking at the photo.

"Because..." Ryan couldn't say why, he didn't know.

"You walked out when Enzo came in. You probably would never have noticed if he had his phone in his hand and clicked a few photos."

I knew it was possible, because if it wasn't Enzo, then there was another person in all this. I started thinking about maybe James. They always hung around together, shared the same class of course. So what if James was there, but wouldn't Ryan have seen him? Maybe not, he wasn't exactly looking.

"My question is: 'Why did Enzo send me the photo of you and him?'"

"He didn't. I did," Matty said.

"What! Why?"

"Guess I was pissed with you seeing Jake. I must be a jealous guy. Jealous of Ryan, jealous of Jake."

I pulled my phone out, found the message and called the anonymous number. After a second or two it rang and so did the phone in Matty's pocket.

"So you've got a new phone?" I was now wondering where this left Matty and I.

He nodded and pulled it out. "I got to go," he said.

I didn't know what to say.

"But it wasn't me who sent you those photos," Matty told Ryan.

"They came from the same number," Ryan told him.

"But, I never sent them. I've seen them before, but I never sent them to you." Matty insisted, even though it made no sense.

"Then someone used your phone?" Ryan stood up off the bench.

"Edmund," Matty said. "I really have to go." He started to walk away, then stopped. Turning back, "You can't say he didn't have reason."

Ryan and I watched him walk off down the road. Then I looked at Ryan. He returned my look, and something once again passed between us.

"Tomorrow, you free?"

"Friday night?" Ryan asked.

I smiled. "Yeah, tomorrow's Friday."

There was a little lingering silence before he too smiled. "I can be."

"Come over to my place."

"What for?"

"I don't know yet," I told him. "But I'm sure you can think of something."

With that thought in mind we headed off together to catch the bus home. The journey was a silent one, we sat together, Ryan next to the window.

"You think he's telling the truth?" I asked. I wasn't convinced myself.

"About what? Being jealous, sending the photos?"

"All of it," I looked at him sideways.

"Jealous, yeah, maybe. Sending me those photos, no. Who took those pictures, that's the big question."


That got Ryan's attention. He turned towards me and our eyes locked. For a minute I thought he was embarrassed. If he was, he covered it well.

"I never saw or heard anyone other than Enzo."

"You were occupied elsewhere. Holding onto Edmund, looking at Enzo. Could say You had your hands full."

"You're a funny guy, Alex. But I'm sure if there was someone else in the changing rooms I would have known."

"Sixth sense," I joked.

"What about you and Matty? You're a couple." He raised his eyebro w

"I don't know anymore."

"Who's Jake."

"You want my life story or something?"

"Something," he smiled.

I got up and rang the bell. It was my stop.

"Tomorrow," I said, and walked away.

I looked up at the window as the bus pulled out. Ryan was looking back at me, still smiling, I thought.

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