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by Charles Lacey

It was a filthy wet day. It felt as if it had been raining non-stop for weeks. Two of the games pitches at school were so waterlogged that they were unusable, and the other two, which were slightly better drained, were reserved for matches and for the First and Second teams' practice. Well, that suited my book well enough, as I disliked ordinary football and loathed the Rugby variety. The alternatives on games afternoons were athletics in the school gym, swimming (on a strict rota as space was limited in the municipal baths) and cross-country running.

I elected to do running. I was reasonably fleet of foot, and wasn't particularly daunted by rain. The exercise kept one warm and it was easy enough to have a shower and change into dry clothes. Around the school there were several feasible routes, varying from two to five miles, and old Timberdick – I beg his pardon, Mr Woodcock, the games master – usually sent fourth form boys on the second longest.

There were three of us who usually ran, though in a reasonably leisurely way, together; Chris Cattermole, Jim McDonald and myself. Chris was lanky and long-legged with no spare flesh and would have been good looking but for the permanent outbreak of acne which decorated his face and shoulders. He tried every possible diet and goodness only knows how many ointments and medications, but nothing seemed to cure it. Jim was short and chunky, with rather a plain, blobby face. His real name was Hamish and he came originally from Glasgow. We'd Anglicized his name and quickly abbreviated it. They were both good chaps. None of us were academic high flyers, but we were normally placed in the upper half of the 'B' stream.

We normally ran the same route, as I say. From the changing room, along the side of the main road for a few hundred yards, then right onto Bracey Road, along the path through Bracey Woods, over the stile into the five-acre meadow (always going around the edge, of course, as there were usually growing crops there), over the next stile into Parkinson's Acre, through the gate to the churchyard, and then back along Toddington Road. Not a bad route, about four miles altogether, and with enough along the way to take an interest in.

The girls' school was located on Toddington Road and Jim in particular used to peer hopefully through the fence in the hope of catching a glimpse of some of the 'wee gir-rlies'. Though his family had been in England for some years he still retained his rich Glaswegian accent. He was obsessed with 'gir-rlies' and on a couple of occasions as we passed the girls' school he would manage to catch the eye of one and have a few moments of earnest conversation across the fence.

Poor Chris would also have liked to find a girl-friend but with his disfiguring spots had little chance of one finding him attractive. This made him rather awkward and shy in their presence. At events such as the Rugby Club dance, held termly to raise funds for the Rugby Tour, he would volunteer to be on the bar staff rather than try to dance and risk making a fool of himself.

As for me… well, a very different story. Girls just didn't cut it for me. While Chris and Jim were good mates, good for running together, helping one another with homework and so on, I didn't fancy them in the least. There were one or two I did fancy, though. There was Isidore Abrams, who, as was immediately obvious when we changed for games, was Jewish. He had a neat, compact figure, dark curly hair and enormous soft brown eyes. There was Tom Brooking, in the year above me. He had the most luscious peaches-and-cream complexion with fair hair. It was a good thing he was not in my year as if I'd seen him in the shower I think my body would have given itself away.

Showers! Of course in those days we all showered naked, in a long concrete trough with shower heads at intervals above it. As old Timberdick was always in a hurry to get home we were pushed through in batches and told to 'get a move on'. Since the showers were never more than tepid we were happy to keep the experience as brief as possible anyway.

In general I avoided looking at the others as a) any obvious study of another boy's equipment would have drawn immediate cat-calling and b) my own body might well have responded in which case the cat-calling would be far worse. I had no desire to hear words like 'pouffe' hurled at me, or 'queer boy' inscribed on my locker with marker pen. So I hurried through, keeping my eyes to myself and dressed as quickly as possible.

I remember that it was on the 24th January, a cold, crisp, frosty day, that the three of us ran our usual route. It was hard underfoot, though that was far better than the mud which was usual in the winter. Jim had managed to attract the attention of one of his favourite 'wee gir-rlies' and was chatting with her across the fence; Chris and I were hanging around waiting for him, rather impatiently as it was damned cold. Eventually one of the mistresses noticed this going on and called the girl over, gesturing to us to go away. We set off again. As we started, a boy, most unexpectedly, emerged from the school gate.

He was lovely. He was stunning. Dark brown hair, not curly but with a gentle wave, worn rather long. Skin a light olive colour, and perfect, with no spot or blemish anywhere that I could see. He was slim, willowy… utterly delectable. Except that he was walking with crutches. He was wearing ordinary trousers so I couldn't see whether he'd been injured or was wearing a leg brace or something. I thought probably the latter as in those days the plaster cast used to immobilize a broken limb was too bulky to fit into an ordinary trouser leg.

He caught my eye, and nothing in the world could have prevented the smile from coming to my face. He smiled back. That is to say, his lips, cheeks and eyes rearranged themselves into the most luscious, welcoming, happy expression ever seen on a human countenance.

But, due to Jim's wasting time with his 'wee lassie', we were running late, and I had to sprint for a few moments to catch up with the other two. But that boy! Who was he? I wondered. What was his name? and why was he coming out of the girls' school? I mean, he was obviously a boy, no girl ever born had a chest or hips that shape; besides, there was a small, but quite clear, package in the front of his trousers. Well, I thought, that was the nicest bit of scenery ever to decorate our cross-country run.

The following week we again went on the run, same group, same route. I admit I was hoping to see Mr Gorgeous again, though it seemed improbable. I mean, what was a boy doing in the girls' school anyway? And, let's face it, not only were the chances of him being… well, the same kind of lad as me, infinitesimal, but even if he were, he'd be very unlikely to be able to be open about it. But I wondered about his crutches, too…

So it was a mighty surprise to me to see him again the next Wednesday. We were running through the woods and there he was, crutches and all, walking towards us. He caught my eye and smiled.

"Hi there." His voice was light, slightly husky, probably recently broken.

"Hello," I replied cautiously.

"Fancy seeing you again. Do you come here every week?"

"Not every week, but quite often except in the summer."

"Come on, slowcoach," put in Chris, impatiently, "we'll be late back."

"Aye," agreed Jim, "And I want to see if that wee lassie is there again."

"Go on, you two," I said, "I'll catch you up in a minute."

Chris and Jim ran off and I said, "How about you? D'you come here often?"

"Not usually," he replied, "but I'm off school at the moment.

"Where do you go to school? I've not seen you at St Augi's."

"No, I'm normally at Embleton. It's a boarding school in Worcestershire. But I've been away because of being in hospital."

"Oh," I replied, "why were you in hospital?"

"I've had something called Potts' Disease. Sounds silly, I know. It's affected the bones of one leg, and I've had an operation to strengthen them by putting in metal supports. But it's very infectious – it's a form of tuberculosis. But don't worry, I'm not infectious now. And I am supposed to walk every day to strengthen the muscles."

I was silent for a few moments, digesting this information. Then I remembered my manners. I put out my hand.

"Well, hello anyway. My name's Adam."

He held out his hand and we shook. "My name's Veejay."

"That's a nice name. Are you Indian?"

"No, I was born just down the road from here, though one of my grandmothers, on my mother's side, was from India. That's why I'm quite dark haired."

Actually I couldn't have cared less if he was from England, India or the planet Mars. I just wanted to get to know him. But I knew old Timberdick would be getting in a tizz if we were late in, so I had to explain and then get moving again.

That night when I was engaged in my usual pre-going-to-sleep relaxation I thought about Veejay. It had a curious effect upon me. I thought, No, he's too special. I can't just come off thinking about him. So I changed over to one of my usual heart-throbs, Simon Gipps-Kent. I'd got videos of several films with him in, though my favourite was David Copperfield.

The following Wednesday I was on my own. Chris had got an appointment in the hospital skin clinic. They were going to have another try at doing something about his acne. A good thing, too. Poor lad, he really did suffer. It wasn't our form that was the problem, but some of the 'C' stream mob really gave him a hard time, calling him Pustule and asking if he'd got syphilis. I was surprised they'd heard of syphilis, they were such an ignorant bunch.

And Jim had got pulled into the second fifteen Rugby team. He wasn't much of a player, but an outbreak of 'flu in the area had depleted their numbers and he was fast on his feet, if not excessively brawny. But he was something called their 'fly half', whatever that means. It sounds as if it needs speed.

So I was on my own. Timberdick had told me to take the usual route and he would trust me not to cheat or cut any corners. And there in the woods, as I'd hoped all week, was Veejay, this time with only one crutch.

His face broke into a great big smile when he saw me. "Hi, Adam. Where are your friends?"

"I'm on my own today. They both had other things to do."

"Well, it's great to see you. Not being at school, I don't get much chance to meet anyone my age. Well, boys my own age. My mother's the headmistress at St Anne's Girls' school – it's the sister school to St Augustine's. That's why I was there, the first time you saw me."

So that explained that puzzle.

"How much time have you got?"

"Not a lot; I have to be back at the changing room on time or the master in charge gets all agitated."

"Oh. Can I meet you after school?"

My heart got up and danced.

"Sure. How about the Milk Bar, in town? Five o'clock?"

"That'd be great. See you then."

"See you."

I don't know if you remember the Milk Bars. They were very common in the 'sixties and 'seventies. They did a range of soft drinks, milk shakes, sodas and the like, with buns and snacks. There was one in Mouseborough, where I lived, and it was a very popular place for young people to meet. Let's face it, there weren't many other places, until you were old enough to go to pubs.

I arrived at about five to, but Veejay was already there. He was wearing a soft top, very dark grey, which set off his dark hair and eyes to perfection. I noticed his eyes specially now, in the brighter light. They were a very dark green, with great big pupils. I had to force myself not to gaze into them.

We talked of this and that, mainly our schools and families. We both had younger sisters and agreed that they were thoroughly irritating. Veejay's parents were divorced; he saw his father only when compelled to as he disliked him. By all accounts he was a shocking bully. I was glad neither of my parents was a teacher; it struck me that Veejay had a tricky time of it. My own parents were very ordinary. Dad worked in an office for an insurance company, Mum was mostly a housewife but had a part time job as a hairdresser. Fortunately she didn't insist upon doing mine! Most of her customers were old ladies.

But Veejay's school sounded much better than mine. Not surprising, perhaps, given the fees they charged. Like me, he wasn't specially academic, though he kept up reasonably well. They sent work for him to do each week, and it got checked by his mother when he'd done it!

"What about friends?" I asked Veejay.

"I've some good friends at school. And one special friend, he's a couple of years ahead of me, but he's great. He lets me come to his study and make toast. But I don't know anyone in this area. We only moved here two years ago and I was already at Embleton."

I'd read Stalky and Co., of course, and some of the books about Greyfriars by Frank Richards, so I had some idea what he was talking about. But he did sound a bit lonely.

"I tell you what," he said suddenly, "How would you like to come to my house for tea next Wednesday? You could come straight on from school. It's my birthday and I am sure Mum would cook something nice for us. Do you have any favourite foods?"

Zowee! I thought, Great idea! But I just said, "Thanks, I'd love to. And I eat almost anything, but I do like a steak and kidney pie." Well, I was a growing lad and needed my food.

Veejay told me his address, and we parted, as Victorian novels liked to put it, 'with many expressions of mutual esteem'.

Mum and Dad made no objection to my going to my friend's house next week, on condition that I did my homework properly. Being a Wednesday there was normally only one subject set; it was maths, which I was reasonably good at. I did most of it over the lunch break, just leaving a little bit to do when I got home from Veejay's.

I popped home to change from my school uniform into something a bit livelier. I wore flared jeans and a floral shirt. Well, in the 1970s that was what all teenagers, male and female, wore. And very nice too, much pleasanter than today's teenagers who seem to want to look as scruffy as possible, and hide their faces in hoods.

Mum took me to Veejay's house in the car. It was mid-February by now but still pretty chilly. I got there about five and Veejay answered the door. I was glad to see that he had got rid of his crutch and looked to be walking pretty normally. He, too, was wearing flared jeans and a colourful shirt with vertical stripes of blue-green and cream. It went well with his colouring, and especially his eyes.

"Hi, Adam. Come on in. Mum wants to meet you."

He took me through to the kitchen, where his Mum was making dinner. I was surprised; I didn't think headmistresses did housework! She was a bit austere, but quite welcoming. Jane, Veejay's sister, was helping her. She rather turned up her nose at me. I didn't mind; I was sure my sister – my little blister, as I called her – would have done the same to Veejay. He and I went through to the lounge. It was not dissimilar to ours, though a bit bigger. The TV was on and we watched the News. The Russians had just launched the Luna 20 mission to the Moon and we found that quite exciting, though the rest of the news was pretty dull. Lord Widgery had just gone to Northern Ireland to try and sort out something or other, and there was the usual run of politicians rabbiting on about nothing in particular. Edward Heath, the Prime Minister, about the most boring old fart I'd ever heard, was making a shambles of running the country.

The Steak and Kidney Pie was excellent, and so was the marmalade flavoured bread and butter pudding that followed it. When we'd finished, Veejay said, "come up to my room. I've got some models you might like to look at."

The models were very good. We were lucky in Mouseborough as there was an excellent shop called 'Toby's Models' where I bought most of my kits. Veejay had a big table in his room where he did his model making; he borrowed a spare chair from downstairs and we sat side by side, comparing notes on different aircraft and ships. I'd done a few of the same ones at home, so I wasn't totally ignorant. But I must admit that sitting so close to Veejay was having a tightening effect on my underpants. Or rather, it was having a tightening effect in my underpants. A couple of times Veejay shifted in his seat, and then when he thought I wasn't looking he slid his hand under his waistband and adjusted something inside. We carried on talking models for a few minutes, and then suddenly stopped and looked at each other.

"Veejay," I said, with sudden inspiration, "Tell me about your special friend at school."

"Well, his name's Laurence Bell; I call him Laurie. He's really nice. I go to his study most afternoons to do my Prep – that's the same as homework, except that we do it in school, including the day boys. Then we usually have something to eat – toast and jam in the winter, sometimes cake if he's had one from home, and then… "

There was a silence. I thought it best to just keep listening.

"And then… Look, Adam, can I trust you? Really trust you, I mean?"

"Of course you can."

"Well, for God's sake don't tell my Mum this, but… look, Adam, you're the same as me, aren't you?"

"Yes. That is… well…"

"When we've done our prep and had something to eat, we usually have sex."

I looked at Veejay and smiled. "Yes, I am the same as you. But don't tell anyone, please…"

"That's OK then. Our secret… on both sides."

This time, the adjustment of his underpants was much more open, as was my adjustment of mine. Veejay stood up, crossed over to his bed and sat on it, his arms held out.

I sat next to him and he leaned in to me and kissed me on the lips. For a moment I was a bit shocked. I thought only married couples did that! But then I realised I'd liked it and kissed him back. His hand slipped into my shirt and started moving around, stroking, caressing, occasionally nipping. I realised that he'd had a lot more sexual experience than had come my way, and let him take the lead.

One piece at a time, our clothes came off. Without his shirt on, his torso was mine to look at and feel. The skin was silky-smooth, hairless except for a tiny, enticing dark fuzz below the belly button. Then off came our trousers.

I could see the difference in his legs. One was much thinner than the other, and had several long scars, still a little red in places but turning white. Moments later, we were completely naked. Veejay's foreskin was shorter and looser than mine and the head of his cock was almost completely exposed. But we were both rock hard. I wanked him for a little while, and he me. Then he said, "Have you ever sucked anyone off?"

"No," I replied.

"Please do it for me. I suck Laurie often and he says it's much nicer than being wanked."

For a moment I was almost disgusted. What, take another boy's cock in my mouth? Then common sense asserted itself and I realised that Veejay was perfectly clean and fresh. I slid my lips over his organ and my tongue ran around the head and then slid under the foreskin. At the same time he was wanking me.

What happens when he comes? I thought. I hope I don't puke or something. Then I remembered that I'd tasted my own sperm more than once and it hadn't caused any problems for me.

I don't know exactly what Veejay was doing with his hands and my cock, but it certainly had the desired effect. I shot, copiously and hard, and with one of the most intense orgasms I'd ever had. That did it for him and he came into my mouth. It wasn't nasty in the least, in fact quite the reverse. The actual taste was pretty similar to mine. But it was the fact that it was his that made all the difference. I swallowed it, and then we lay side by side on his bed, arms around each other, cocks slowly deflating. My first time with another boy. And it wasn't disgusting, or unnatural, or any of the other negative things we'd both been told about. It was lovely, and the loveliest thing wasn't the sex itself, good though that was. It was the closeness, the sense of sharing ourselves.

Well, of course we met again several times and I had my first experience of being sucked, and very enjoyable it was. But not long after that Veejay went back to boarding school, and we only saw one another occasionally in the holidays. Inevitably, we went our separate ways, though we always kept in touch. I met my partner, Dominic, and Veejay met his, Paul. Occasionally we all meet up for dinner and Veejay and I are still best friends. We both went through traumatic 'coming out' experiences, though in the end both his mother and my parents accepted it and are friendly towards our respective partners.

But on that first occasion that I went to Veejay's house and made my first discovery of another male body, he did have one other surprise for me. It came just as I was leaving. Mum had called for me, and Mrs Jones shouted up the stairs, "Val, your friend's mother is her to collect him."

I looked at Veejay, and just said, "Val?"

"Oh yes," he replied, "Sorry, I thought I'd told you. Mum's the only person that uses my given name. Everyone else just uses my initials. They're V. J., not Veejay. What's the date today?"

"February the fourteenth. What's that got to do with it?"

"What's special about today?"

"It's your birthday."

"And what else?"

I suddenly realised what he was getting at. He grinned at me.

"V. J. Valentine Jones. What else could they have called me?"

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