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The Elephant in the Room

by Hamster

Chapter 3

The Next Day

Yes, I got to sleep in. At least a little. But I was pretty excited about meeting John in the afternoon, so I woke up earlier that I might have done.

I did all the normal things teenage boys do in the morning (sex, shit, shower, sausages) and got dolled up in the church clothes. And we were off.

And, yes, Church went just as I expected. It's another really thrilling thing to do during the vacation. It's not that my Dad is particularly religious, but it is sort of required (I would prefer to say "de rigueur" just to show off my wonderful French but then maybe you would not understand). Everyone goes to be seen and show what honest and upright citizens they are, then they go to the pub for drinks and forget all the rules of Christian behaviour until the next time Sunday rolls around.

Also, and especially the first Sunday of the summer vacation, I am required to go. This gives my Dad the chance to show off in front of his friends and neighbours: if he were to speak he would say something like 'here is my really handsome son, in his really impressive upper class boarding school uniform, which shows how much taste I have as a father, and how much money I make so I can afford to send him to this great and historic institution of which I am an old boys as seen by the tie I'm wearing specially for the occasion…. Blah blah blah'

Of course he does not need to say this because everyone can read all of the signs correctly. So after the service I get to be the center of attention of all his friends and neighbours.

"Oh, Michael, how you have grown!"

(Yes, this is true. It happens when you are a teenager and there is nothing you can take credit for here, except by remaining alive long enough to reach these formative years. By the way I hate being called Michael. Everyone, including my Dad and teachers and friends all call me Mike)

"Well hello you handsome thing! I bet all the girls are all fighting to get hold of you!"

(The first part is correct. I am, in all modesty, very handsome. People should be grateful to be in the presence of such handsomeness. I love looking at myself in the mirror. The second part is not accurate. First, we have no girls at our boarding school, thank God! That, added to the fact I'm gay, means that girls have zero interest for me. Now, if it were a bevy of handsome boys, then they should be fighting over me, but I think today I'm the only male teenager in the entire congregation.)

"What a fine son you have, Frank, you must be so proud of him."

(Yes, this is what my Dad dragged me here for. Must be some client who owes him money or some favour, and he is merely trying to wheedle his way into Dad's good books. Fat chance, Dad has no mercy when it comes to work. But he will be thrilled with the compliment even if all he does is pay the school to be my surrogate parent).

This all goes on just long enough for the pub to open its doors after which all church related social niceties come to an abrupt halt and we all troop off at a sort of dignified stampede for the joys of beer, gin and tonics, and for me, some form of crappy juice.

Oh, about the gay bit. Please don't tell my Dad about that. This might not go down too well even though he says he is quite liberal when it comes to personal choices. To be honest I think he already knows but at least he has the decency not to call in the Spanish Inquisition to find out about my sex life. We'll come to that bridge when I'm ready, and I'm not ready yet.

I think it best to wait until I get a proper boyfriend who can support me when we get to the big showdown. So far I really don't have a boyfriend. I do have a 'friend with benefits' at school, and we mess around when we can. But that is fairly common at the school, nobody thinks it is gay or anything like that. It all based on the proven fact that having someone else do it for you feels a hell of a lot better than doing it by yourself. Teenagers know that instinctively. But there is no emotional attachment. It is sex for the sake of sex. Which is an excellent philosophy to pursue.

There are a few openly gay kids at the school, and they don't get hassled too much. The main reasons I am not one of them is that I have not found anyone worth outing myself for (yeah, I know, if I said I was gay maybe someone would turn up), and the fact that they all tend to hang out together most of the time, and I like more diversity in my friends.

I have friends who share some of my diverse interests (French, football, Maths, video games, opera, geology….so I'm weird but that's OK by me) so if I was in with the gay kids conversation would be much less interesting. But the sex might be better….

I digressed. I do that all the time. It drives my teachers crazy, but that's the way my mind works. I'm a teenager, after all.

After lunch in the pub (good Thai food), I told Dad I was going for a bike ride because I need to keep in good shape for the swimming season coming up next term at school. I'm on the Under-16 swim team.

I was so nervous I could hardly ride. I hoped I was not reading too much into this but I was sort of desperate for a friend while I was on holiday. I locked my bike and went into the shopping centre, found the Costa place and looked around. He wasn't there. I know I was a few minutes early but I was really disappointed. So I walked around the shopping center a bit. After twenty minutes I was about to give up on him. Then I saw him running towards me, and gasping for breath he started explaining.

"Oh,Mike, I am so sorry I'm late. I bet you thought I was never coming. My stupid parents took us all out to lunch and my Dad forget to book ahead, and it took ages to get a table for six, and the service was really slow, and I thought you would have gone home, and I'm so sorry. But here I am."

"OK, OK, I admit I was a bit disappointed when you were not there. But now you can relax and calm down. Let's go. My treat."

He wasn't wearing his little brown shorts but he looked great in some khaki shorts and a Brighton and Hove football jersey. We got some coffee and snacks (yes, I know, we just had lunch but we are teenagers and we need food all the time).

And suddenly we had spent almost two hours talking and laughing and getting to know each other. We only had to leave because the place was closing.

"Do you want to get together tomorrow?" he asked.

"I'd love to! What shall we do?"

"Well, you said you were on your school swimming team, just like I'm on the Under-15 team. Shall we go to the Leisure Center, and see whose faster?"

"Sounds good to me."

"Well, here's the thing. I'm in a summer camp at the pool from nine to ten. We do training and laps and stuff, and then afterwards we stay at the centre and mess in the leisure pool, and have lunch and hang out. If you came at ten I'd be finished with training."

"OK, but I'm supposed to do laps to keep in shape before the next term. If I came at nine would they let me train as well?"

"No idea. Why don't you turn up and we will see. They reserve four lanes for the swim camp, and others people do laps in the other lanes. Bring Speedos for training if you have any, and some swim shorts for the other stuff. OK?"

"OK. Can't wait"

And then I shook his hand (Wow, that felt good, and I think the handshake went on a little bit longer that it was supposed to. I mean teenage boys aren't supposed to touch each other, well not in public anyway) and we got on our bikes and went back to our own homes.

We texted back and forth before we went to sleep. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have made a friend for the summer. Life was looking good.

If you are reading this as part of the Writing Challenge, "May I Help You?" it is a multi-chapter submission. The voting happens at the end. Please do get to the end and answer the survery there.

If you are reading this in the ordinary course of events, you may wish to know the tale was created as part of a challenge. You are probably not reading it during the survey period of 18 October 2016 to 8 November 2016 inclusive. So please enjoy the tale and email the author with your thoughts anyway

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