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Finding Tim

A Fourth Alternate Reality

by Charlie
With editorial assistance from Dix and John


This is Auggie. Fred has asked me to continue this story, as I was the closest observer of Perry and Norman as their relationship developed.

Perry looked at Norman as they sat in their room, Perry still with the computer open to the email from me about the 49er wing. "You think your father might be able to get us a 49er wing?"

"Anything is possible. I'll call him."

Perry thought a minute and told Norman, "Look, Norman. I don't care who you talk to to get a wing for a 49er. But don't tell me. In particular, don't tell me you're going to talk to your father. Rather, tell me, 'I'll try to get hold of a wing, or find one.' If you work through your father, your uncle, a guy you met on the waterfront in Portsmouth, or the man in the moon, it doesn't make any difference. But as far as Fred's Sports and I are concerned, we're dealing with you."

"I understand. OK, I might be able to help you get hold of a 49er wing. Let me make some telephone calls."

He sat at the phone and made several calls. One, obviously, to his father, and the others to people his father had suggested he call. After about four calls, he said, "That"s all I can do now. I expect a few call backs later this afternoon."

Perry then got on the phone and called me. I'd made a few calls and had no luck finding a wing. I had Andy on it, and he was having no luck. He'd called Ovington, but since we'd bought the boat used and not from Ovington, they couldn't put us on their priority list. They estimated about three to four months. I told Perry, "Look, we have one good boat, and only one team is critical. This isn't a killer."

"I know, but you and Goose like to sail, and you like trading off with Tim and Charlie for training. And the second boat is a backup, and now we don't have a back up. I'm working on it from this end. We'll see."

They went to dinner and cancelled all of their plans for the outback. They needed to stay in touch. That meant that they couldn't even leave the area of the hotel, as driving the long distances in Australia put them out of touch, and Perry didn't want to lose touch with the situation. He already felt guilty for being in the Australian outback and not on site in Illinois. They went back to their room, and not much later the phone rang. It was for Norman, who came to the phone immediately. He identified himself, listened intently, took a pad of paper and made some detailed notes, thanked the caller and hung up. The he let out a shout for joy and said, "We got one. It's in Fukuoka, Japan. We need to arrange a bank transfer of funds to their account in Tokyo. They can ship it to wherever we want it as soon as the money is confirmed."

"You're kidding!"

"I wouldn't do that to you. We got one. Call whomever you need to call and give them these numbers to wire $3,400 dollars to the account in Tokyo. That'll cover the wing and the shipping, and we may get some little refund when they have an actual number for shipping. These things are so scarce that we can't quibble over the price."

"Who's quibbling? You're a hero. You're going to make me a hero. Do you have any idea the reaction we're going to get back in Chicago when I call them and give them this information. And I'm going to tell them who the real hero is."

"You'd better not. The real hero is my father. But we aren't talking about that, says you."

"Says me indeed. You and I both are going to be heros in this. Believe me."

I got the call from Perry about fifteen minutes later. It was about eight in the evening in the Northern Territory of Australia, which meant it was about 5:30 a.m. for me in Chicago. Tim and Charlie had gone back to North Dakota after a weekend of sailing, and I was stewing in my own juices about the loss of a boat. "Hello."

"Hi, Auggie. It's Perry. Take some notes, Norman and I have located a wing for you. I need you to arrange to wire some money to Japan."

"You're shitting me, Perry."

"I'm not shitting you. I've got a wing. Instead of me giving you this information, why don't I call Andy as soon as I hang up. I'm sure that he has 24 hour banking connections in New York. I want this money wired immediately, before they sell it to someone else."

"I don't believe it. I was convinced we weren't going to get a wing for months."

"We got one. I'll have them ship it to Darwin. That's the next place you'll be sailing. Curtis will arrange to have the boats shipped here, now that your weekend practices with Tim and Charlie are over."

"You're fantastic, Perry. Fred picked a winner."

"I picked the winner; it's Norman. Auggie, I want to add him to the team-to handle procurement."

"Ask Andy, but I'm sure he'll say, 'Yes.' Hell, he's already earned a year's salary, maybe two years worth."

I called Andy, waking him. He was excited and just as disbelieving. He said he'd arrange the wire transfer, and he also confirmed that adding Norman to the team was a wonderful idea. "I don't need to talk to Fred about that; neither do you. It's within your scope of authority."

"OK, but I thought I might be pushing my authority to expand the team, so I thought I should ask. By the way, Norman has an American passport, and I assume Social Security number. I'll get the details to you. If he'll accept the job, we'll pay him what we're paying Millie."

I should note that we'd simply kept David, Curtis, Gene, and Millie on the Fred's Sports payroll, at their same salary. Millie, as the newest employee of the four wasn't paid as much as the others, but she got a good salary-particularly since food and housing were covered. Since Norman wasn't yet out of high school, paying him equal to the lowest other salary in the team seemed more than fair.

Norman had let Perry alone to make the phone calls, and he soon came back to the room. Perry said, "Norman, we have to talk."

"This sounds serious. Am I in trouble? I thought I was a hero?"

"You are, you are. Here's the deal. I'm authorized to offer you a job with the Fred's Sports Sailing Team. You'll be part of the support crew, with a special expertise in procurement, but you'll share all the jobs with all of us. It'll last until the Sydney Olympics, or a year sooner if Tim and Charlie don't make the US team. I can virtually guarantee you continued employment with Fred's Sports, somewhere, if you want it."

"Come on, that's ridiculous."

"And just why is it ridiculous?"

"I'm not a procurement specialist."

"If we have a crisis like this again, we'll look to you to make appropriate phone calls and solve the problem. You've earned your position."

"It wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that we're having sex at night?"

"Maybe as far as I'm concerned, but not as far as Fred's Sports is concerned. All they know is you solved a critical problem, in a remarkably short period of time. I get credit for finding you, and putting you to work on the problem. You get credit for solving it. If you were here and knew about the problem because we are sexually involved, score one for sex. Hell, score two or three for sex. I'm all for it. Now, do you want the job? It pays $28,500 per year (which is basically $14.25 and hour), and we cover all expenses. We'll consider Portsmouth your home base, so when we're there you won't get expenses. You will everywhere else. Of course, you and I'll be sharing hotel rooms."

"That last is interesting. The job is going to last almost three years, and you're talking about sharing hotel rooms for that period of time. That sounds like a rather permanent arrangement."

"I like the sound of that, let's think of it as a permanent arrangement."

Norman was quiet for a while and then said, "Up till now its been blow jobs and hand jobs. Tonight I want to fuck you and I want you to fuck me. It'll be a new experience for me, and I consider it a symbol of our permanent love. I like that word, permanent."

"Norman, we have to talk about a couple of things. First, you won't be the first person that I've fucked, and you won't be the first to fuck me. Someday, tomorrow if you like, I'll share all of the gory details with you. But you have to know you aren't first."

"Thanks for being honest. I guess I'd like to have been first, but I wouldn't have wanted you to lie to me. I love you just as much. I guess that some of the Gang got to you first. And I'm also guessing that they may be coming after me at some point. Would I be right?"

"Only if you want. Nobody gets pushed beyond their comfort zone."

"I think I have a pretty big comfort zone. In any case, you're inside my comfort zone tonight. You said two things; what's the other?"

"We need to talk about AIDS. Is there any chance that you're HIV positive?"

"I don't see how. I've never had anal sex, never touched a drug needle. As I understand it, oral transmission is rare to impossible. What about you? You say you've been fucked."

"The Gang's very careful. I've only played around with the children of the Gang. I'm safe. And so are you."

They made love more than once that night. By the next morning, both of them considered the relationship to be permanent-a lifetime commitment-marriage, if the world would only think in those terms.

The next morning they headed back to Darwin. Perry made arrangements for the wing to be shipped in care of the Dockmaster at the Darwin Sailing Club, and assured them that he'd cover their handling and storage costs. While Perry was taking care of that, Norman made a critical call to his parents.


"Mum, it's Norman. I've got some important news; can you get Dad on the line with you?"

"News. What...?"

"Get Dad first, Mum."

"Hi, Son, its your dad on, what's up?"

"So much has happened in the last two days that I can hardly keep track. Fred's Sports is unbelievably happy that I was able get them a 49er wing. Gee, Dad, you really made me a hero out here."

"I'm glad son. I didn't do much. You made all the calls."

"But you told me who to call."

His mother cut in, "Norman, I'm sure that you called with more than a thank you in mind."

"Yes, Mum, I did. Fred's Sports, well really Perry, but he's acting on the authority of Fred...."

His dad interrupted this time, "Fred? As in the Fred of Fred's Sports?"

"Yeah. Perry knows him really well. That's how he got the job he's got."

"There had to be some kind of an explanation for a teenager with that kind of responsibility."

"Believe me, he only got the job because they believed he could do it. As I've watched him, he's really good at it. Manages his crew of four with great skill."

"So, Fred's Sports what?"

"They've offered me a full time support job on the Fred's Sports Sailing Team. It's for at least two years, and maybe three. If I do well, and I will, I'm assured a regular job with the corporation."

His mother said, "Honey, you just dropped out of school. You have to finish."

"Mum, Perry did the same thing for this job. He plans to go straight to university. He's sure that I can do the same thing."

"How can he be so sure?"

"Remember, the two sailors on the team are Tim and Charlie. Tim's the President of the University of North Dakota. It bodes well for an admissions decision."

"An American university?"

"You know that I told you a lot had happened to me in the last two days. Well, I haven't told you the biggest news yet."

His father posited, "You're going to tell me that you and Perry are madly in love."

"Dad, how did you guess that?"

"Then I'm right?"

"Yes, you're right."

"Well, you certainly had your eyes on Perry from the first time you met him. He must've had the same thing in mind when he invited you to go with him to Australia."

"He sure did."

His mother said, "Well, you are a little young. But you've been lonely as a gay boy in Portsmouth. Ever since you told us, we've worried about how this would end up. Are you sure that you aren't just reacting to your loneliness; that you really do love Perry?"

"Oh, God, Mum, I'm sure. He's wonderful. We may be young but we're very mature. Just ask Fred's Sports. Look at the job they gave Perry, and now me."

"Do you suppose that they think you two are lovers? Aren't they going to suspect Perry has personal motives in offering you this job?

Perry admits it, and says that Fred will think that's great. Evidently he has a gay partner, too. Mum, I'm learning an awful lot about the crowd that Perry grew up with. If only a tenth of the stories Perry tells are true, they are fantastic people. I can't wait to meet them."

"Norman, we were talking about you and university."

"I know. If my partner is an American, and I'm legally an American, I guess I'm going to go to school in America. Will that disappoint you?"

His mother continued, "No. But there is a family business, you know."

His father said, "Zenna, we both know the family business is going nowhere. We'll be swallowed up by some big guy, like Fred's Sports. If it makes me a decent living till I retire I'll be lucky."

Norman said, "Dad, they're going to pay me $28,000 a year. Less than half of that will allow you to hire a part time clerk to replace me at the chandlery."

"I can't let you do that."

"You didn't have any problem with my working in the store to help out. We'll I still want to help out, and I can. We won't argue about that, but you need to hire a clerk."

"We'll talk about that, Son."

"Dad, please do it. Don't make me make a special trip back to England in order to push this. Just do it. Promise me."

His mother said, "That's wonderful, Norman. I'll make sure your Dad accepts."

"So when are we going to see you again?"

"I don't know. I don't think Perry knows. Auggie works out the sailing schedule, and I don't think they have it worked out beyond the week they're going to be sailing here."

"They're sending their entire team to Australia, moving two boats, for a week of sailing? That's nuts."

"I guess so. But money isn't an issue in this group. According to Perry, Fred makes more money than he has any idea what to do with, and doing nice things for his friends, especially Tim and Charlie, is what he likes best about having money. I can't wait to meet him."

Everybody was silent, till Norman asked, "So you guys are all right with this? Right?"

"Yes, Norman, you have our permission. You write often, hear?"

"Mum, you have to get an email account. Dad has email on the computer in the chandlery. Get a computer at home. I'll buy it for you for Christmas, but get it now."

"I'm too old to learn all that, Norman."

"You're not. Just do it."

Not much more of substance passed down the lines on that call. Norman came away feeling wonderful. He knew he had great parents, but that they'd absorbed all that, and been agreeable to it, was more than he dreamed. He thought that, at the least, there'd be a long verbal battle down the wire. He worried that he might even have had to defy them, but he was very reluctant to do that. And it had all turned out well. He couldn't wait to tell Perry.

Perry received the news with relief, because he'd had the same worries as Norman. He hadn't known for sure whether Norman was out to his parents. Coming out over the transoceanic telephone would've been a little tough.

They had a celebratory lunch in the hotel dining room. After lunch they had photocopies made of Norman's passport and Social Security card and sent them off by FedEx to Andy so that his employment could be finalized. The other information needed could be sent by email.

At dinner they talked about what they'd do next. The trip into the outback had been fun, even though it was cut short. They didn't see any purpose in going back out into central Australia. They remembered Alston's other suggestion, that they head to the Great Barrier Reef for scuba diving.

"Have you ever scuba dived?" asked Perry.


"Alson said that he had. I remember in the car he got talking and mentioned that he was a scuba instructor."

"Why don't be invite him to come with us to Cairns?"

"Think he could get time off?"

"He could, if you were the one to ask Mr. Feiffer."

"I have a better idea, said Perry."

"And that would be?"

"Let's tell Feiffer that we want the hotel to furnish a guide for our trip to Cairns, specifically Alston. We pay the hotel, the hotel pays Alston. He misses no work. Everybody's happy."

They talked to Feiffer that evening, and the next morning when he reported for duty, Alston found a message that he was to call Mr. Feiffer at home at 6:00 a.m. sharp. The manager on duty that gave him the message didn't have any idea what it was about. At six, sharp, he made the call.

"Good morning. Feiffer here. I assume that this is Alston Gidding."

"Yes, sir. I was told to call."

"May I ask your relationship to Mr. Weeks and Mr. Crosse?"

"They're both about my age. I took bags and meals up to their room, and we started talking. The other afternoon I drove them around the town. They bought me a couple of meals and I furnished the car. I haven't seen them since; they were headed to Alice. Did I do something wrong?"

"No, your being with them when off duty is your own business. They seem to like you."

"Are they back from Alice?"

"Yes, they had some kind of emergency, which has passed. They want to go to Cairns and go diving. They know you're a diving instructor, and want to have the hotel send you with them as a guide. Would you like that?"

"What? I don't understand."

"They want to hire a guide, through the hotel, and they specifically want you. I can't direct you to accept that assignment, but I'll assign you to guide Mr. Weeks and Mr. Crosse if you'd like that. We would pay you your normal hourly wage for thirteen hours each day you're away. That assumes that you sleep eight hours, eat three hours, and are on duty the rest of the time. We will bill Mr. Weeks for your services. Does that interest you? We would, of course, cover all of your expenses, although I assume that Mr. Weeks will pay your expenses as you go, rather than have us bill him, and add on a percentage."

"You aren't kidding, are you?"

"Not at six in the morning. Maybe in the evening."

"Mr. Feiffer, you do have a sense of humor."

"May I assume that you are not so foolish as to turn down this offer? You'll make good money; the hotel will make good money; and Mr. Weeks doesn't seem to care how much money he spends."

"When do we leave?"

"I haven't the slightest idea. I'm sure that they'll order breakfast in their room. You take it up, tell them you accept the job, find out what they have in mind, set a schedule, and have a good time. Turn in a time sheet immediately when you get back."

"Thanks, Mr. Feiffer."

"Don't thank me. Thank Mr. Weeks."

"Uh, his name's Perry. I don't think it would go over very well if I called him Mr. Weeks."

"I don't care what you call him. Just make sure he's happy when he returns to Darwin. Whenever he returns."

The breakfast call came very soon after, and Alston took up their breakfast-again enough food for three. But the order had requested settings for three as well. Alston pushed the tray-cart in and set up the room table for three, looking around for the third person. Norman saw him and said, "You're the third person."

Perry sat down and asked, "Have you talked to Mr. Feiffer?"

"Yes. What the shit is going on?"

"You're going to be our guide for the next week or two. We need a guide, we need a scuba instructor, and you can't afford to take off work for two weeks to come along on our trip. So we got Mr. Feiffer to send you with us, and pay you for your trouble. I hope he gave you a choice, and didn't simply order you to go."

"I had a most unusual conversation with Feiffer this morning. At first I thought I was in trouble for fraternizing with guests. Then he told me about your request, and asked if I'd like the job. Of course, I would. But you guys don't have to pay me to come along. I could get time off and we could have a great time together in Cairns. I can't accept this arrangement."

"We understand that you've already accepted to Mr. Feiffer."

"Well, yes. But you know what I mean."

"Look, Alston. Let's just forget the money issue. We're all three going on a nice trip to the Great Barrier Reef. We're going to scuba dive, swim, maybe sail, enjoy nightlife in Cairns, play, and enjoy being footloose teenagers. We won't be employer-employee, just friends. But we can't, and we won't, ask you to give up income for the trip, and thus delay your walkabout. Understood?"

Alson started to protest and Norman cut him off, "Look, Alston. I was just hired by Fred's Sports to be part of their team. I'm working for Perry as well. It won't get in the way of our friendship, and the same is true for you. Just enjoy the trip. We're going to have a ball.

Perry said, "After breakfast, go back to work for the day. Tell Feiffer your work with us starts tomorrow. We have almost 3,000 kilometers to drive, will that take us three or four days?"

"Four, and we need to leave early in the morning. I'll see you guys at five in the morning. I'll bring the breakfast cart."

"We'll camp out on the trip. Do you have a sleeping bag? We have everything else we'll need."

"I have a bag and other personal gear."

"We'll stock up on food this afternoon."

They also took the Land Rover to the dealer and asked him to check it out for a trip as far as Cairns and back. With an oil change, new rear brakes, and some minor engine work, it was pronounced, "fit," and, once they had a real shopping spree behind them, they were ready.

The first day's driving was back down the same road toward Alice, On the second day they turned east to Queensland, the coast, and the road north to Cairns. Two more nights camping and they reached the Coral Sea, an arm of the Pacific Ocean. Then north along the coast to Cairns.

OK, you want to know about sleeping arrangements in that tent, don't you? Reasonable question. To the readers of this story, more than a reasonable question! On the first day, driving south down the Stuart Highway, watching the miles, well, it's Australia so kilometers, go by, Alston was sitting in the front passenger seat. Perry was driving and Norman was in the back, sitting not very comfortably on the best the rear of a Land Rover has to offer. They'd all been quiet for a while, when Alston spoke. "Are you guys gay?"

Perry looked over at Alston and made a quick decision. "It's time for lunch. I sense a serious conversation coming, and I don't think trying to do it over the noise of the road is that good of an idea.."

"I'm sorry. I should've waited for a better time."

"No. Questions like that need to be asked when they come to your mind, and while you have the courage to ask them. I can guess that you've been trying to screw up your courage to ask that for quite a while, perhaps for days."

He pulled the Land Rover about fifty meters off the road and stopped. There was nothing around but barren, red dirt. Norman tossed out the three camp stools from the back, and Perry moved around to the back, opened the cooler and announced that lunch would be ham sandwiches and canned peaches. They all fixed sandwiches and sat, eating. Between bites Perry said, "You know, if you're going to be upset by being told that we're gay, you're in kind of a tough spot. We're about 350 kilometers out of Darwin, with almost 6,000 to go. So, is a, "Yes," answer to that question going to upset you? Or is it the answer you're hoping for?"

Alston grinned rather sheepishly and said, "It's what I'm hoping for."

Norman said, "Good, 'cause it's what you got.'

"Are you two a couple?"

"Yes, but just since we arrived in Australia."

"Holy shit."

"Or, something like that."

"We're all going to sleep in one big tent tonight, aren't we?"

"Nope. We're all going to sleep in a fairly small tent tonight."

"What's going to happen?"

Perry said, "That's kind of up to you. What do you want to happen?"

"Holy shit."

"You said that. Say something new."

"Are you guys willing for something to happen?"

Perry said, "You know, Norman and I are kind of new to this. We haven't talked about this situation. So the answer is, 'I'm willing, ask Norman'."

Norman said, "You don't have to ask, I'm willing."

Alston asked, "So just what does this mean?"

"It means, my dear Alston, that whatever you paid for that sleeping bag was a waste of money. As to what else it means, we'll have to wait until tonight and find out. Now, if we don't get rolling either we're going to have to run at night, or it's going to take us five days to get to Cairns."

They did run till it was almost dark, and then they pulled about a half kilometer off the highway, again in the middle of barren, red dirt. They easily found a flat, clear spot, parked, set up their tent, got out their petrol stove, and were ready for dinner. Dinner was sirloin steaks, Minute Rice, and canned corn, with an instant butterscotch pudding for dessert. They sat around with Cokes and talked about their day, clearly avoiding the subject of the forthcoming night. Finally, Perry said, "OK, let's talk about the elephant in the room. Alston, I assume from the conversation this afternoon that you're gay. Would that be right?"

"I know this sounds stupid, but the answer is, 'I don't know'."

"No, that isn't stupid at all. I think that's how I'd answer the question. I think Norman would likely give you a straight answer of, 'Yes.' Isn't that right, Norman?"

"Yes." He saw Perry grin and start to ask a question. "Don"t go there. Yes as in, yes, that's right, and as in, yes, I'm gay."

Perry continued, "So, Alston, explain your, 'I don't know'."

"I had a couple of mates at school that were gay. They were sure that they were a lifetime pair, but after high school one of them went walkabout and the other went to university, so I don't know what's going on. But in high school they were fucking each other like bunnies. They got a few other kids involved, I don't know who. They had the good sense to be very discrete. One of them lived with his mum, and she worked regularly till six every day. They'd invite me over after school from time to time, and I always knew what that meant. I didn't join in the fucking, but I got and gave a lot of blow jobs. Sometimes we'd just watch each other wank."

Perry asked, "Wank?"


"Never heard the word wank."

Norman said, "It's standard British."

"We generally say jack off, jerk off, or beat off. There are a lot of other expressions, but at least in Michigan those are the most common."

Alston said, "It really doesn't matter what it's called, I hope that tonight we're doing other things."


Perry said, "Look, I need to give you guys a little background. I grew up in a very open family-we could talk about anything, and we did. Not only that, I had a bunch of uncles and aunts-close friends of my parents, not blood relatives-that were as open as my parents. The all called themselves the Gang, and we kids called ourselves COGs-Children of the Gang. Adult-child sex was taboo; and I don't know of a single instance. On the other hand, almost anything else was OK. But there were a few rules-never ones that anybody specifically enforced, they didn't believe in that. But we all knew that our freedom came with responsibility."

"We're both curious. What were the rules?"

"First, talk first, act second. More bluntly put, we were told that if you can't talk about cocks, cunts, clits, and fucking, then you shouldn't be playing with them or doing it. Second, was the adult-child rule, and they used your 18th birthday as a line. The only exception was that two kids that grew up together and had sex as kids could continue on between their 18th birthdays. Third, don't push anyone out of their comfort zone. There was one more, but it always came from the kids, never the adults: No fucking till you graduate from high school-and that meant boy-girl fucking, not gay fucking. The adults were likely to put that rule as: Make damn sure no one gets pregnant."

"That doesn't make much off limits, does it? But, we have a problem."

"What's that?"

"I'm eighteen, and I don't think that either of you are."

Perry said, "We know, but we also looked into the age of consent in Australia, and at 16 we're legal, with each other and with you."

Alston said, "Just so you know. Queensland is funny about anal sex. The age of consent for that is 18, regardless of gender. Not that anybody's going to be checking."

"We'll keep it in mind. Maybe."

Alston thought back to Perry's description of the Gang's rules. "They weren't worried about gay sex?"

"Too many of the Gang are gay for that to be an issue. There's another thing, but it isn't a rule. This is always attributed to Tim, but it really seems to speak for all of them. They believe there's at least a little gay and a little straight in everyone. You don't have to be all gay to be gay, or all straight to be straight. You're bi if you really don't have a preference." Perry continued, "By that definition, I'm gay."

Alston said, "I think all three of us are."

Norman agreed, but continued, "But you weren't certain you were gay. I guess that means you have explored your straight side."

"I like the birds."

"Had much experience?"

"Couple of girls in the neighborhood during high school. We'd known each other for years. We must've been about fourteen or fifteen when this story took place. One afternoon we were alone at one of their houses and they started giggling. They whispered back and forth a little and then one of them said, 'We'll give you ten dollars if you'll take your clothes off. Right here, right now. We get to look at everything.'

"I said, 'How about we forget the money and we all just take our clothes off?'

"'The offer is ten dollars.'

"'Show me the money.' They did. I picked it up and took off my clothes. It was an easy way to make ten dollars."

Norman asked, "Was that the first time you were naked with a girl?"

"Yep. Then they said, 'We'll give you ten more dollars if we can play with it.' They showed me the money; I took it; and they played. Eventually they were wanking me. Clearly they knew what they were doing. I came; they giggled and told me to clean myself up and put my clothes on. It turned out that they had a fifty dollar bet between them. One said I'd do it, and the other said I wouldn't. They'd never tell me who bet on which side. It was all pretty friendly. The next time we were together I told them that they were never going to get my clothes off again until theirs came off. They were both naked in a flash, daring me to get mine off. They were good fun for a year or so, but they graduated a year ahead of me and they both moved to Queensland. I haven't seen either of them since. But it was fun while it lasted. We did just about everything but fuck, but they wanted to be absolutely sure they didn't get pregnant. They didn't."

"Any other girls?"

"A couple. No stories worth telling. No fucking, just blow jobs."

"Did you use your tongue in their cunts?"


"I don't think I could do that," said Norman.

Perry said, "Its fun, and titillating if you approach it right. But there are no cunts here, so it isn't an issue. Besides, we don't push beyond anyone's comfort zone."

Norman said, "So let's get our clothes off. It's a beautiful starry night, we'll have gay sex under the Southern Cross. He pointed skyward, and asked Alston, "That is the Southern Cross, isn't it?"

"Sure is. And this is a southern cock. Look at one, play with the other."

How much do I need to tell you of the adventures of three horny teenagers as they crossed northern Australia and spent seven days scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef? They had a ball. Alston was an experienced diver, and was, in fact, a certified instructor. He could rent the needed equipment and buy the air they'd need. He also told them that if the trip went well, and they covered the required material for scuba certification, he could sign certificates for them.

The first day at Cairns they went on a glass bottom boat tour of the Reef. Alston told them, "When we dive we'll be seeing a very narrow part of the whole Great Barrier Reef. The boat tour will give you an overview on a larger scale. It extends about 1,400 kilometers, and it varies a lot through its length. But you'll get an idea of the scale and variability of the reef. Then we'll dive.

There were three diving options-they could go as part of a larger group off a big boat; they could rent a little boat and go on their own, but only two could dive at once, because they'd need a person topside in the boat; or they could charter a small boat with a captain and dive master. Then the three of them could dive together. Alston warned them that the last option would be expensive. Perry was undeterred, and that's what they did for five days. The diving was exciting, the coral lovely, the experience priceless.

Instead of diving on the last day they decided to take a drive and see some of the territory around Cairns. Their first thought was to drive north up the Cape York Peninsula, but there were two problems with that. The distances were great, and most of the national parks up the peninsula cannot be reached by road. Instead, they decided to leave a day early, giving themselves five days to get home. They chose an alternate route, heading westerly from Cairns to Normantown. From there they took a side trip to Karuma, Queensland, one of only three places on the Gulf of Carpentaria (the water on the west of the Cape York Peninsula) that you could drive to. It was a sleepy fishing port, but an interesting drive. From there they headed to Burketown, also on the gulf, following what's called The Great Top Road. Calling it a road is a very generous definition of a road, but they'd soon learn that "roads" in Australia are simply places that from time to time accommodate a car. There was a caravan park in Burketown, which was quite willing to let them pitch their tent, with a lovely view of the gulf. That was their second night out.

From there they made the serious mistake of continuing west on the dirt roads that were available, trying to connect to Borroloola. They did, but it stretched a planned five day trip home to seven, and severely tested the Land Rover. Luckily, they were warned of the shortage of places to buy petrol on the route, and they added five five-gallon cans to their inventory of goods carried in the Land Rover. These were carefully strapped on the back.

They finally made it safely back to Darwin, but only the day before I was to arrive with Goose, Tim, and Charlie. David had arrived two days ahead, and all was ready. Perry had been able to find Internet connections along the way (the outback takes communications seriously) and so his delay in returning wasn't a big deal.

The day the other sailors and I arrived, Perry asked me to go to dinner with him, alone. I was pretty sure that he wanted to talk about our forthcoming sailing, and I was right. He started off with, "Auggie, first I'm sorry that our trip home got delayed."

"Perry, don't worry about it. You kept in touch and covered all your bases. That's exactly why you wanted a team of five. I'm sure that you weren't thinking of delays in the Australian outback, but we all knew something would come up, and it'll happen again. You must've had a spectacular trip. Tell me all about it."

"I will, but I want to talk about the coming ten days."

"Everything is ready, as I understand it. And we have the wing. I don't know how the Hell you and Norman pulled that one off. It had Andy buffaloed. By the way, now that you've had two plus weeks with Norman in fairly close quarters, are you still enamored with him."

"Oh, Auggie, yes, yes, yes. We consider ourselves fully committed."

"That's great, Perry. Some people are going to say you're too young to make a decision like that, but I sure as Hell can't! So what're we talking about regarding sailing this week?"

"I have a suggestion."

"I'm all ears."

"Previous times you've worked Tim and Charlie's asses off. But you can't actually do that, because they're the hardest working two sailors you'll ever find. And they've become damn good sailors. I'd like to suggest that these ten days be fairly relaxed. Don't worry, Tim and Charlie, especially Tim, are incapable of truly relaxing, they'll keep up a furious pace. But let's make this more of a vacation than a training camp. It'll give us a chance to let this group of eleven people develop into a team. They all really need that, and as things get more intense in the coming years, the team-building effort will pay off."

"It goes against my grain to let up, but I think you may be right. We'll try it. Ten relaxed sailing days aren't going to affect their skills in the long run. We don't have anything to lose."

The eleven of us had a glorious ten days in Darwin, sleeping late (7:00 a.m. instead of 5:00), relaxing over meals, often cruising when we sailed instead of always racing for the fastest times, and taking time in the evening for some games that involved the entire group. The group all got along smoothly-never a cross word that I was ever aware of-and did develop as a team. And Perry was right, that stood us in good stead in the coming months of pressure.

When they got back Perry talked to Mr. Feiffer about Alston. "He did a magnificent job, was a delight to be with [Perry decided that Feiffer didn't need the details], and was a superb representative of the hotel." Feiffer was delighted, and Perry followed up by asking that Alston be assigned to service the entire team during their stay at the hotel. Feiffer was pleased to arrange that. It meant overtime, but more reasonable hours for Alston. And guess what? He spent several nights at the hotel (guess in which room).

At this point Charlie plans to leave the boys and girls sailing and playing in the waters of the Timor Sea off of Darwin, Australia. The choice of words, boys and girls, was deliberate. Though I liked to think of myself as a man, a married man, no less, I was still a teenager, as were Perry and Norman. Except for Charlie and Tim, the rest weren't that far away from boyhood or girlhood. And if you watched Tim and Charlie sail away in the Freddie, you'd be hard pressed not to think of them as boys. No two teenagers ever had as much fun sailing a little sailboat as those two did. So, the story will leave the eleven of us having a ball in Australia, and will return to the formerly flooded city of Grand Forks.

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