THE JIGSAW PUZZLE
by Pink Panther
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With the first paper of our CGSE maths exam on the day we return to school, and end of year exams the following week, the half term break isn't just a holiday. But there's no panic. A couple of hours revision each day will be more than enough.
The best time is straight after breakfast. I'm not one for lying in. Even at the weekends I'm always up by eight o'clock, so getting up by 7:45 is no hardship, especially at this time of year. Allowing forty minutes to get showered, dressed and have my breakfast, I can have my revision done by half past ten. After that, the rest of the day's mine.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
It's Thursday. Over the last few days, things could hardly have gone better. On Sunday morning, Patrick came over so we could run together. It was great. We were both going well, and the weather was warm and sunny so we stopped at out hiding place on the way back. You could say it was the icing on the cake.
We ran together on Tuesday too. Right now, I'm waiting for him to arrive. I've finished my revision for the day. I don't want to sound cocky, but there's not much more I can do. It's ten past eleven when he shows up.
"Damian's taken Claire to Stratford," I say, giving him a knowing grin, "so we can come back here."
"Cool!" he says. "If that's what you want."
He's never actually said, but I think he likes doing it in the woods. I like it well enough, but it is a bit restricting. In any case, there's something I want to try. With our run completed, we head up to my room.
"Can I have a shower?" he asks. "I'm all sweaty."
"Sure, no problem!" I say. "I need one too. Shall we . . . ?"
We do, shower together that is. Mum would go bananas, but she's not around, is she? And it's very erotic! After quickly towelling ourselves dry, we snuggle up on my bed. Foreplay with Patrick is heaven! He kisses better than Dean. He sucks too, which Dean wouldn't do at all. Almost before I know it, I'm so horny I hardly know which day of the week it is.
"Are you ready?" he asks, withdrawing his finger from my bum.
"Yeah, but I want to try something different."
"Lie on your back. You'll see"
I kneel astride his chest, carefully lowering myself onto him.
"Jesus!" he groans, his eyes as big as saucers. "Did you do this with Dean?"
"Sometimes. Let me do the work, yeah?"
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
I gently ease myself clear. I crawl forwards. Patrick lifts his head and shoulders, supporting himself on his forearms. His mouth opens invitingly. I give him what he wants. It doesn't take long. It never does. He sinks back onto the pillow, his eyes glazed over.
"That was un-fuckin'-believable!" he moans.
I sit on his tummy, smiling down at him, his scrawny chest rising and falling.
"You make beautiful spunk," he adds, licking his lips.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
We're sitting on my bed, chatting idly about this and that. I check my watch. It's half past three.
"Ready for round two?" Patrick asks.
"Sure!" I whisper.
In barely a minute we're back on my bed. More exquisite foreplay; Patrick might not be the cutest kid on the planet, but he's sexy as all hell.
"What d'you want now?" I whisper, my index finger right inside him.
"Same as this morning, only the other way round."
We get into position.
"Now it's my turn to do the work," he says, grinning down at me.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
That was totally wild, the sensations just amazing. My balls feel like they've been put through a lemon squeezer. Patrick lifts himself off, crawling towards me. I push myself up on my elbows. In just a few seconds he's given me everything he's got. I flop back down, completely spent.
"You were right," I gasp, barely able to speak. "Un-fuckin'-believable!"
For several seconds I just lie where I am, slowly getting my breathing under control. He lies down next to me. We snuggle up again.
"Your spunk's pretty tasty too," I tell him.
"What are you doing tomorrow?" he asks.
"Anthony and I are going to London for the day," I tell him. "We're going to see a couple of exhibitions."
"Oh, right," he says absently.
"Saturday afternoon, meet me by the main entrance to the park at half past two, unless it's raining, of course."
"Cool!" he says, smiling.
"It's better if you don't come here first," I explain. "I don't want Mum getting suspicious again. She's still paranoid that I might be having sex."
"No problem!" he says, giving me a knowing grin.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
It's Friday, a quarter to ten, and I'm on my way to Anthony's house. As you might imagine, Mum was not at all keen on the idea of me going to London with Anthony. She insisted on speaking to his dad about it before she finally agreed to let me go.
It's weird. She's never taken to Anthony, but she likes his dad. Of course, she doesn't know that he's gay. Anyway, he convinced her that despite his somewhat outlandish appearance, Anthony is actually very sensible, which he is, and very good at keeping himself out of trouble.
I walk up the short front path and ring the bell. A moment later, Anthony appears. He's dyed his hair again, reddish-brown with pink highlights. I'm not keen. I prefer it blond, much closer to his natural colour. He's wearing a pair of snug-fitting tan knee-length shorts, the latest style and colour, and a red and white hooped muscle shirt. I don't think that suits him either. It makes his arms look too skinny. But that's Anthony.
"Are you ready?" I ask.
"Yeah," he confirms, stepping outside. "Jayden's just left. He's got to get back to his exam revision."
Right! No prizes for guessing what they've been up to!
He closes the door and we set of towards the station. He's carrying a shoulder bag. I guess it fits with everything else. It's not an effeminate look exactly, but definitely gay.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
The train reaches the outskirts of London just before twelve. We take out our packed lunches, finishing them a few minutes before we reach our destination. I'm buzzing! Being in London with no adult supervision is so exciting.
Two short tube journeys bring us to Tate Britain, near Vauxhall Bridge. We spend the next hour going round the Picasso exhibition. There's loads of stuff I've never seen before. It's brilliant! After that it's off to the National in Trafalgar Square for the Pre-Raphaelites. This was Anthony's idea, of course, but I have to admit, I'm beginning to understand what they were about and why they were so important. We leave just after three.
"Are you hungry?" I ask.
"Starving!" Anthony responds. "Let's go to the Gay Village, it's not far. We can get something to eat there."
The Gay Village? I've heard of it, of course, but I've never been there. I can't wait! It feels sort of naughty, like it's somewhere we shouldn't go. I mean, there's nothing to stop us going there, but I don't think I'll be telling Mum and Dad about it. We stroll up Charing Cross Road, cutting across Leicester Square and onto Wardour Street. We cross Shaftesbury Avenue and continue for another hundred yards or so.
"This is it," Anthony says, "Old Compton Street, the centre of the Gay Village."
We stroll along. Not all the shops and businesses are gay, but quite a few of them are. We pass a group of guys drinking outside a bar called Comptons. They're all way too old for me, but they're obviously gay. That is so exciting! Anthony points to a bar across the road.
"A few years back, that place got bombed by this right-wing extremist," he tells me. "I think there were nine killed and a load more injured."
I'm horrified. "Did they catch the guy?" I ask.
"Oh yeah," Anthony says. "He'll be in jail for the duration. He'd bombed a couple of other places too."
We stroll on. The atmosphere is amazing! There are gay guys all over the place. Some of them look us over. I guess they don't often see boys of our age wandering through here. It doesn't compare with the beach at Newquay, but there are a good few hot young guys around. We pass a couple holding hands. Wow! I hadn't expected to see that!
Just beyond the second intersection there's a café. We go inside. Anthony picks a table for four, ushering me into the seat by the wall, facing the window. He sits down next to me. We order the all-day breakfast. For several minutes we chat about this and that, waiting for our food to arrive. Nobody seems to take any interest in us.
Our meals are placed in front of us and we begin eating. Right now, this is exactly what I need! We're about halfway through when a guy comes over to us.
"Is it okay if I sit here?" he asks, indicating the seats on the far side of the table.
"Sure," we say.
I guess we could have said no, but Anthony didn't and I'm not cheeky enough. He orders a cup of coffee. I check him out; mid-thirties, I'd guess, in good shape, not bad looking at all. He's wearing expensive clothes and a very expensive watch.
"So where are you guys from?" he asks.
"The Midlands," Anthony tells him, "not far from Birmingham."
"So what brings you to the wicked city?" he queries.
"We've been to a couple of exhibitions," Anthony says, "Picasso at Tate Britain and the Pre-Raphaelites at the National."
"Oh, I see," he answers, smiling. "I'm Brad, and you are?"
"I'm Anthony and this is Ian."
Brad's coffee arrives.
"We'd both like to study here when we're older," I add, feeling a bit left out. "I want to do architecture. Anthony wants to do fine art."
"So how old are you?" Brad asks.
"I'm fourteen, Ian's fifteen," Anthony replies, in between mouthfuls.
"I'd have got that the other way round," Brad says.
"That's what everybody thinks!" I say, giving him a wry grin.
Brad leans across the table.
"Would you be interested in coming to my flat to chill out for an hour or so?" he asks quietly. "I live near Warren Street. We can be there in ten minutes."
I am seriously alarmed. I never expected him to be as blatant as that! Of course, Anthony isn't fazed at all.
"Sorry," he says calmly. "We'll have to catch the train soon."
Actually, we've got nearly two hours, but he's obviously not going to tell Brad that.
"Couldn't you catch a later one?" Brad suggests.
"We'd love to," Anthony says, smiling, his eyes locked on Brad's, "but the `rents will ask awkward questions if we're not back when we said."
"I guess I'd better let you go," Brad says, glancing down at the table. He finishes his coffee. "Nice to have met you. Have a safe journey!"
He gets up and leaves. Anthony and I burst out laughing.
"You were brilliant!" I whisper. "You stared him out!"
"Oh," he says, smirking, "I'd have been disappointed if somebody hadn't tried to pick us up."
"Weren't you scared?" I ask.
"What of?" he queries. "He couldn't have done anything with all these people around, could he?"
He's right, of course. I give myself a mental kick. We were never in any danger so why did I get my knickers in a twist?
"He'll go home and wank himself stupid," Anthony says quietly, "thinking about what he'd have liked to do with us. I reckon that's what Saunders does after he's been perving on us in the showers."
"Last summer I saw Saunders pick up a boy outside the park, you know, where the art gallery is."
"Bloody hell!" Anthony shoots back. "You kept that quiet! Are you sure?"
"Totally. Remember I told you about the first boy that I went with? I was walking up Birmingham Road on the opposite side to the park. I saw him standing there, like he was waiting for someone. Just then, Saunders' car came along. It stopped right next to him. A couple of seconds later the car pulled away and he was gone. And it was definitely Saunders' car. With the wheels and the paint job you can't miss it."
"So how old was the kid?" Anthony asks.
"He'd have been fifteen, but he was still quite small so he looked younger."
"And he lives in the council flats behind the park, yeah?"
"I reckon Saunders must be paying him for it," Anthony says thoughtfully. "He probably thinks it's safer than going with someone from school."
I'm pretty sure he's right. It just seems to fit. We finish our meal and make our way out into the afternoon sunshine. We stroll east, heading for the British Museum.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
I'm waiting outside the main school hall, along with the rest of the top maths group. There's little conversation. Everyone's too focused. I'm confident, but for all the preparation I've done, there are still butterflies in my tummy.
At twenty past nine we're ushered inside, following the Year Eleven guys. I sit at the desk with my name card on it. As instructed, I fill in the front of the exam paper. Then we wait. The silence is unnerving, the tension in the air almost palpable.
Mr Bentley gives us some final instructions. The minute hand on the large clock at the front of the hall moves round to half past.
"You may begin," he intones.
I open the exam paper. The first question is straightforward. I answer it and move on. Now that we've actually started, the nerves have gone. I work steadily and carefully. Most of the questions are routine, stuff we've seen on the past exam papers we've been doing. There are a few that need me to think a bit, but there's nothing that has me stumped. Some of the questions Mr Bentley dreams up for us are way harder.
I complete the final question. The clock shows that there are just over thirty minutes left. I go back to the beginning and check what I've done, looking for any mistakes that I might have made. I only find one, which I correct. With the whole paper checked, there are still ten minutes to go. There's no more I can do. I sit back in my chair and wait. On Thursday, we'll do Paper Two.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
In the afternoon, we're back to normal. Our final class is physics, in one of the labs on the top floor of the science block. We're doing practical. As always, I'm working with Dean. We have a problem getting the wiring right, so the experiment takes longer than it should have. When the bell sounds for the end of school, we've barely finished.
"Shit!" Dean hisses. "I'm supposed to be meeting Rebecca now!"
"You go," I tell him. "I'll put everything away."
"Thanks!" he says, smiling.
He disappears through the door. I take my time. There's no hurry.
"Hasn't Griffiths stayed to help you?" Mr Harrison demands.
"He had to go sir," I say. "He had an appointment."
"With young Miss Cawley, no doubt," he says acidly.
"I don't know sir," I lie, feigning innocence.
He retreats into the prep room. I finish putting the equipment away, pack my bag and head out to the waiting area. I hear footsteps coming up the stairs. I look through the glass partition that separates the waiting area from the staircase. A boy I'd guess to be in Year Seven appears on the small landing one flight down and goes into the boys' toilets.
Alarm bells ring in my head. School finished more than five minutes ago. There are plenty of other toilets, including some further down. So why has he come all the way up here? I decide to wait, see what happens. Seconds later there are more footsteps. I stay where I am, able to see down the stairs, but well enough hidden that the person coming upstairs is unlikely to see me. The owner of the footsteps reaches the small landing. It's Zav. He follows the other boy into the toilets.
I thought there was something going on. Now I know there is. I give them thirty seconds. They're both still in there. I creep down the stairs, my heart pounding. I quietly open the door, popping my head round to take a look. Neither of them is at the urinal and the stall door's locked. I slip inside. There are quiet slurping sounds coming from the stall.
In total silence I get down onto the floor and look under the partition. I can see two pairs of feet, one much smaller than the other. The owner of the smaller pair is clearly sitting on the toilet with the other boy facing him. It's obvious what's going on. I get hard in an instant.
Suddenly, the larger feet move back. I'm just about to jump up and leave when the other feet move too, turning around so that they're both facing the toilet. The larger feet move forward again. There are different sounds now, still very quiet but quite unmistakeable, laboured breathing interspersed with high-pitched whimpers. You don't need to be a genius to work out what they're doing.
Entranced as I am, I know I can't stay there. I stand up, leaving the toilets as quietly as I entered. I return to my vantage point outside the physics lab. I hope Mr Harrison doesn't come out and ask me why I'm here. The seconds tick slowly past. Suddenly the toilet door opens. Zav emerges and hurries down the stairs.
I give him time to clear the building. His bus leaves at twelve minutes past four. If he misses it he has to wait an hour for the next one. He's got barely five minutes. So what am I going to do? I'm still rock hard. I'd like to speak to younger boy, but that's risky. He could tell Zav. There's no knowing what might happen then.
I'm still agonising when the lad emerges from the toilet, following Zav down the stairs. Well that's it. If I wanted to speak to him, I've missed my chance. My brain is a mess! If the older boy had been anyone but Zav, it wouldn't have bothered me. But it was Zav, and I know what he's like only too well.
The strange thing is that there was no hint of him having forced the kid into it. I've no idea how he does it. It's like Dean told me. He seems to have a way of sucking people in. What I am sure of is that somewhere down the line, the boy's going to get hurt.
And I have to be honest, I'm jealous. Here I am, looking forward to seven weeks of no sex, while that arsehole's got himself a cute younger boy to fuck. Oh, I know I'm not really interested in boys as young as that, but it still grates on me. It's not fair!
But it's irrelevant now. I fluffed any chance I might have had. I don't even know who the kid is, and I'm not going trawling round the playground trying to find him. I wander out of school and head to the bus station.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
It's half past five. I've been home for an hour and I just can't get it out of my mind. I pick up my phone and call Dean.
"Hi, man!" he says. "What's up?"
"There's something I need to tell you," I respond, before recounting what happened after school.
"Zav's taking a big risk, having sex with a kid that young," Dean says. "He'll get locked up if he's caught. You're not thinking of ratting on him, are you?"
"No, I can't very well," I answer. "I don't even know who the younger kid is. Anyway, it didn't look like Zav was making him do it. He might say I was making it up."
"Yeah," Dean agrees. "You're better off staying out of it."
"Yeah, thanks!" I say. "Right, I'll let you get on."
We end the call. It sorted one thing out for me. I'm glad I'm not into younger kids. It could get me into no end of trouble.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
Our end-of-year exams have just finished. Of course, we're expected to work right up to the end of term, but for the moment, the pressure's off. We're sitting waiting for registration. I turn to Louise.
"Are you going to your place in Portugal again this holiday?" I ask.
"Yes," she confirms. "It's where we always go. We'll be there for five weeks."
"Is that on the Algarve?"
"That's where we're going. We've not been there before. We're flying out on the Monday after we break up."
"Where are you staying?" she asks.
"We're renting a villa near Portimao."
"That's not far from where we are!" she says excitedly. "We're in Albufeira. Will you have a car?"
"Yeah, I think so," I tell her. "We usually hire one."
"You must come over!" she insists. "It's only about forty kilometres. We'd love to see you!"
"Yeah," I agree. "That'd be great!"
"Get your mum to phone my mum," she suggests, "so they can sort it out."
"Cool!" I say. "I'll ask her."
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
Dean is the county schools' four-hundred metres hurdles champion. This morning he was called out in assembly to have his winner's medal re-presented. Everyone applauded. I was happy for him. He's worked very hard for it. What else can I say?
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
My exam results the best I've ever achieved. Mum and Dad are delighted. After I came out, Mum got the weird idea that I'd go off the rails. Well I haven't. I still don't think she's totally come to terms with me being gay, but doing well at school certainly helps.
"Mum," I say, "You know we're going to Portugal? Louise's family have their own place out there, in Albufeira. They go there every year. She suggested we might go to visit them. She says it's only about forty kilometres from where we'll be staying."
"Oh, I think that's a wonderful idea!" Mum gushes, her eyes lighting up.
"Sounds good to me," Dad agrees.
"Have you got their number?" Mum asks. "I'll call them now."
I give her the number. She bustles into the kitchen to make the call. I'm a bit taken aback. I hadn't expected her to be so enthusiastic. Then it hits me. It's because of Louise. Shit! I hope she hasn't got the wrong idea. A few minutes later she's back.
"Mrs Kirby was really nice," she says, beaming. "I've arranged for us to go there on the Thursday after we arrive. That'll give us a couple of days to get our bearings. They're going to email some directions to us so we can find them."
My heart sinks. I know what she's thinking. I can see it in her face. I almost wish I'd never mentioned it.
0 o 0 o 0 o 0
Term's almost over. Today's our final athletics match. It's being held on a proper athletics track in Solihull. It's sort of springy, which helps you to run faster; that's what the other boys say. As there are separate events for each year group from Year Seven to Year Ten, for the first time I'm actually in the team.
After what seems like forever, it's time for us to warm up. That's when it hits me. I'm a scoring member of the team, so this matters, not to me, maybe, but definitely to the other boys. I've improved by a couple of seconds since the first race, but Patrick's improved even more. Last time he ran four minutes twenty-eight.
Twenty minutes later, we're stripped off down to our running kit. The starter calls us to the line. The gun sounds and eight of us surge along the back straight. Patrick goes straight to the front, setting the pace, just like he always does. After two laps he's still there. I'm some way behind, but still in a good position and feeling better than I have in my previous races.
But this is the hard part. This is where I need to dig in. We run round to the bell. I'm still doing okay. As he begins the last lap, Patrick's got clear of the field. I just have to keep focused, forget about how tired I am and how much it's hurting.
Somehow, I manage to keep it going and amaze myself by finishing in fourth place. I'm so light headed I hardly know where I am. I drop to my knees, my head down on the track, trying desperately to get my breathing under control.
Eventually, I make my way back to the start. As I'm taking off my spikes, Mr Saunders bustles across.
"Well done, lads!" he says excitedly. "That was excellent! Patrick, you ran four twenty one, which is a school record. Ian, you got a personal best and won the `B' race; wonderful, both of you!"
"Thanks, sir," I acknowledge.
I've got very mixed feelings. I'm pleased I didn't let the team down, and I'll get some brownie points from Dad, which is good. But it was one of the most painful experiences I've ever been through. I thought my lungs were going to explode.
And let's get real. The `personal best' I got was almost half a minute slower than Patrick ran. The bottom line is that I don't like track running; I'm just not quick enough. If I had the choice, I wouldn't do it. But I haven't, have I?