That summer it so happened that Paddy and I were each progressing through the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme, the culmination of that term's activities being the 3-person, 2-day hike, which meant walking about 25 miles and camping at roughly the halfway point. I'd no idea who my partners would be but one day Paddy said I'd be with him and a boy from another House called Hairy. The hike would be in late June.
"It was Wilmington who picked the teams," said Paddy, giving one of his rare smiles.
"So that's why I'm teamed up with you!" said I before adding rather nervously "Does that mean you'll want me to share your tent?"
"Yeah, of course. And Hairy's a tight-fisted Yorkshireman so he'll want to sleep in the other tent with all the food, just so we can't nick any."
And that was how it happened. My verruca had gone away again. Mr Wilmington drove us to the rural spot in Northamptonshire where our walk began. It was a beautiful morning. As hikes go, it wasn't physically demanding but needed some nifty map-reading. By five o'clock we'd reached our destination for the night, in the grounds of a stately home in Rockingham Forest. As Paddy had predicted, Hairy insisted on having all the provisions in his tent, pitched beside the one Paddy and I'd be sleeping in.
I'd brought my transistor radio with me. It was the size of two bricks and very heavy but I loved it and we whiled away the evening with plenty of food and plenty of pop music. One of the top songs in the hit parade was A Picture of You , by Joe Brown and the Bruvvers. It was a great little song and for those two days seemed to come on every time I switched on my radio.
It was never going to get properly dark that night but Hairy said it was time for bed and went to collect fresh water for the morning. I rummaged in my rucksack.
"You won't be needing those," said Paddy when he saw me unpacking my pyjamas.
Slightly alarmed, I replied "But it might get cold."
"It won't, I promise," he said, giving me a wink. He crawled into our tent and emerged a couple of minutes later in his football shirt and pale blue Continental-style shorts. "Don't tell me you didn't bring any shorts, Jerry!"
I said no. He dived back into the tent and came out with a tiny pale blue package.
"These are for you. One size smaller than mine. Wilmington got 'em for you!"
"But does that mean he knows we're ...?"
"Mates, Jerry, just mates. He calls you my fan club, remember?"
I felt myself blushing but took the pair of shorts from him. "Must I?"
"Yeah and I'm not wearing anything underneath so you won't need to either."
"But what will Hairy think?" I asked, feeling very nervous.
"Does it matter? He won't care."
Tingling with apprehension I went into the tent to take all my clothes off. My pulse was racing, not through exertion but through what I can only describe as excitement. The little blue shorts were tight but had a lovely feel to them, the material being soft and light; so much gentler on my skin that the scratchy woollen swimming trunks I had to suffer for swimming lessons.
Then I put on a red T-shirt and lay there for a while, trying to muster the courage to go and present myself to Paddy. I heard him talking quietly to Hairy and wondered if they were talking about me. So I spread out Paddy's sleeping bag next to mine and went out to face the music.
"Well, hello, sexy!" said Paddy in an American drawl.
Hairy looked me over. "I never knew you had such nice legs," he said..
He came over and patted my bottom. "You're right, Paddy, he is a cute little one! I hope you two get some sleep tonight. We've got sixteen miles to do tomorrow." Chortling to himself, he retired to his tent.
The sun had set but the sky was golden, the warmth of the day only slowly waning. I assumed Paddy would want us to turn in without delay but what was he planning to do with me? In my nervousness I plucked at the legs of the little shorts but all that did was confirm that the shorts left my legs completely bare. My throat felt dry.
"Coming in, then?" Paddy knelt at the entrance to the tent and beckoned me to join him. As he crawled in I was presented with a good view of his bottom, not entirely covered by his shorts. My cock twitched. I crawled in after him and we lay side by side on our sleeping bags. Paddy was looking at me and I could see he already had a tent in his shorts. Was he hoping I'd make the first move?
"It's ten. Shall we listen to the news?" I said, reaching for my radio.
"Yeah, why not?" said Paddy, ruffling my hair.
"Killjoy!" That was Hairy, two yards away in his tent.
So I turned on my radio and when the news was over switched to the Light Programme and as if on cue, Joe Brown was singing his little song again. It began:
In the night, there are sights to be seen
Stars like jewels on the crown of a Queen
But the only sight I wanna view
Is that wonderful picture of you
"Got your camera, Paddy?" said Hairy, from the next door tent when the song had finished. "You could take a wonderful picture of Jeremy tomorrow."
"Shut up, Hairy," said Paddy.
I turned off the radio and unzipped my sleeping bag but Paddy indicated I should just lie there. He'd raised his knees but I could still see his sizeable erection. I lay on my back looking alternately at the roof of the tent and at the other tent, the one in the front of his shorts
"It's not going to get cold," he whispered. "Not yet, at least. I want you to put your hand under my bum, like at the high jump."
And with that he plonked himself very close to me, grabbing my right hand and pulling it under his bottom. It seemed natural for my fingers to indulge in some exploration. His shorts had retreated so far that I was touching bare flesh, rather a lot of bare flesh. For a muscular boy like Paddy, his bottom was surprisingly soft and yielding and he grunted, presumably in approval of the way I was tickling his smooth, silky flesh. He had his left hand on my tummy and with his other hand he was pressing down on his cock. Was he about to masturbate in front of me?
Well, he did nothing of the sort - and the night was still young. It wasn't long before he straightened his knees and rolled to face me. My right hand was now touching his left hip which was much firmer than his bottom. In fact my hand was now trapped.
"You can roll over towards me and change hands, if you want," said Paddy, quietly.
But not quietly enough. "You dirty buggers, "said Hairy. "I know what you're up to!"
"Just relaxing, Hairy," said Paddy. "We're just relaxing, that's all."
Paddy's idea of relaxing was an interesting one. It involved us lying face to face with some of my sleeping bag scrunched up and keeping our tummies apart while I had both arms around his shoulders drawing his face close to mine. Now he could whisper to me without Hairy eavesdropping.
"I wanna touch your bum," said Paddy. Not very subtle was our Paddy.
So he put his right hand on my thigh and gently stroked. I wasn't cold but a shiver ran up my spine for a second or two and I tensed up until I realised he wasn't going to hurt me. Nobody had ever done this to me before except for Paddy, that time beside the high jump. It felt good.
"Such nice legs," he whispered. "So smooth. D'you like the shorts?"
"Yeah," I murmured, feeling myself being transported into a world of eroticism that was entirely new to me.
Nobody'd ever said I had nice legs before and now not just Paddy but even Hairy had said so. I tickled Paddy's ears and he grunted in what I assumed was pleasure. Then his area of exploration moved from my thigh to inside the exciting little shorts and I felt his hand caressing my bottom. He was pressing down on my flesh but not too hard and it certainly wasn't hurting. I'd stopped tickling his ears and was clutching him firmly around the neck, aware that my cock was fully rigid and straining against the little shorts.
Paddy's hand was soon probing the cleft between my buttocks but the shorts wouldn't let him get his fingers to what was presumably his target zone.
"Shorts off," he whispered and withdrew his hand from inside my shorts.
I was enjoying this treatment and wriggled enough to let him pull down my shorts as far as my ankles. Then he really got to work on my bottom, his right hand stroking and squeezing each buttock in turn and then letting his fingers get properly into my cleft until I could feel I was about to be penetrated. There were times in later years when this particular process filled me with a sort of disgust but that time, that very first time, it was thrilling. I was writhing about a bit and my cock was now free to nestle into the folds of sleeping bag and I sensed it wouldn't be long before there'd be an explosion of stickiness.
I was entirely under the control of Paddy; he was in total charge. Was it coincidental that he'd not pulled my shorts off but left them round my ankles? With my ankles effectively bound together I felt even more in his power, as if I was in bondage and presented solely for his satisfaction. Strangely, I found this exciting and hoped he'd soon mount me and pin my body down. I'd be helpless and he could have his way with me in any manner he chose.
This feeling of helplessness was further heightened by my breathlessness. As well as being highly excited, I was now having difficulty breathing normally because I'd tugged Paddy's head so close that my face was firmly pressed against his right cheek.
"Kiss me!" he whispered. I jerked my head back far enough to draw breath and then slapped my lips back on Paddy's cheek and did as he'd commanded. It wasn't an unpleasant sensation and was something I'd wanted to do ever since those cold afternoons watching him being a goalkeeper. In fact it was a lovely s ensation, nearly as lovely as the feeling of his fingers probing my bottom.
"Hairy's snoring," whispered Paddy, straight into my right ear. "Can you hear 'im?"
"Mmm," was the only reply I could make with my lips locked onto Paddy's cheek.
"So he won't hear what we're doing," said Paddy, in his normal voice and pushing himself away from me to lie on his back.
I took my cue from him, let go of his head and rolled onto my back, wondering what would happen next. It was light enough to see he had his right hand on the gigantic tent in his little blue shorts. With my shorts around my ankles, I had no clothing to cover my cock and I grabbed some of my sleeping bag and pulled it over my front, holding it tight over my cock. Even through an inch of kapok it had never felt so big and so rigid.
Paddy began to move his hips and I saw he was pulling down his shorts. "Mustn't muck up these," he said. "Got to have 'em nice for the weekend."
I didn't have a chance to ask him what he meant because as soon as his shorts were off he spoke again.
"Sorry I frightened you that night in the bathroom but I don't think you're so scared of my cock now and it wants to get to know you!"
His cock, standing vertically and looking like a sturdy tent-pole, was a daunting sight and I felt a pang of fear. What did its owner want to do next? Surely he didn't want to put it where his fingers had been so thoroughly exploring?
Thankfully, he didn't. He didn't tell me to roll over onto my tummy. He just pulled the sleeping bag away and rolled towards me, then pulled me bodily over until our tummies were touching, trapping between them our very excited cocks.
"Let's just do what comes naturally," he said, with a fetching little giggle.
He shoved his knee between my thighs and manoeuvred me until I was on top of him and then grabbed me round my waist and instinctively we got into a rhythm of pelvic thrusting and general writhing, our rigid cocks sometimes touching as they jumped about between our tummies. Very soon the jumping became pumping as we enjoyed a mutual ejaculation. The sticky mess I'd anticipated had happened at last.
We quietened down after that and lay in a strong embrace as our breathing got back to normal. Had I really allowed all this to happen? Had I any choice? Was it good? You bet it was! But I was glad he hadn't tried to get his cock inside me and that I didn't have to use my hands on it. It was a mighty beast and frankly rather frightening!
Looking at my watch I realised it was nearly six o'clock. The sun was shining brightly and the light in the tent was made a vivid green by the thin fabric of tent and fly-sheet. Paddy and I were no longer wrapped in each other's arms so we must have moved apart in our sleep. With a stab of guilt I remembered the things we did with each other, six, seven hours earlier. Then I looked at Paddy's sleeping face, his fair hair all tousled and his lips slightly open as if about to whisper something. Something naughty, I thought, my guilt being replaced by rather pleasing memories.
For a few minutes I just lay on my side, looking at his face. There was something sad about it, as if he was having an unhappy dream. Then there was a clatter of mess tins and Hairy was outside the tent, rousing us.
"Wakey wakey, you little love birds! Prise yourselves apart and get ready for the day!"
I wanted to leap out of the tent and present myself to Hairy as a picture of innocence but quickly realised my shorts were still around my ankles so I had to wriggle about pulling them up, not a swift job as they fitted so tightly round my bottom. Paddy, completely naked, was stirring and gave me a nice little grin as I made my way out of the tent to stand in the sunshine, looking at Hairy as if I expected him to be ready to serve breakfast.
"Morning, Hairy," I said. "Did you sleep well?"
"Better than you did, I'm sure."
He'd boiled some water for tea and I busied myself getting some food ready - but not until, at his command, I'd washed my hands in the nearby stream.
"And mind you do 'em properly," he'd said. "God knows where they've been these last few hours!"
Paddy emerged from the tent, in his little blue shorts and T-shirt. He looked a bit bleary. He came and stood beside me.
"You're a right pair," said Hairy. "I hope you're fit enough to walk all the way back to school. I s'pose you're going to wear those shorts an' all."
"I don't think so," said I, tugging down on the hems of my shorts. "I think I ought to look a bit more decent."
"You do look decent," said Paddy. "I want to wear my shorts all day and if I do you should do as well."
"But I think my bottom's showing a bit," I said, still fidgeting with my shorts.
"It is, " said Hairy, "and very nice it looks. You look as cute as anything, Jerry."
I found myself blushing .
"So that's fixed then," said Paddy, tousling my hair. "Shorts it is for both of us, till a mile from school. Now then, where's breakfast?"
The sixteen-mile walk back to school we completed at four o'clock. With a mile to go Paddy and I pulled our trousers over our little blue shorts so we wouldn't get too many catcalls from the other boys. With shorts as tiny as the ones Paddy had given me I had never before exposed so much bare flesh below the waist but although I felt self-conscious whenever strangers passed by I received frequent comments from Paddy and even Hairy about how good I looked. Feeding on these remarks gave me a sense of self-confidence I'd rarely felt before. I wasn't the sort of boy who was often told he looked good - cute, even - except by his mother and aunties.
Each time we stopped for a break I switched on my radio. It was uncanny but every time I did it we heard Joe Brown and his song. Hairy said it ought to be our theme tune.
Part of the third verse ran thus:
I saw you there on the crest of a hill
An' I took a little picture of you
Out came my camera and I took a photo of Paddy and Hairy leaning on a gate, then Hairy took one of Paddy and me, arms round each other's shoulder. We were on what in Northamptonshire counts for a hill and I got Paddy to stand on the crest while I knelt down and photographed him with behind him a blue sky and little white cloudlets. He'd tugged up his shorts like he'd done in his goal and his thighs were bare to the top and a little beyond. I had the now-familiar erection.
When we had only a couple of miles to go Hairy nipped behind a hedge for a pee and Paddy and I walked slowly on.
"Fantastic, last night, wasn't it?" he said.
"Wanna do it again some time, Jerry?"
"You bet, but where are we going to get enough privacy? Couldn't do it in the dorm."
"Oh, I've got a few ideas and it must happen before end of term, or I'll spend the summer holidays pining for you."
"And I'll miss you, Paddy. I never want to do it with anyone else."
"I've got a big favour to ask."
"Your wish is my command," I said, causing Paddy to slap my bottom.
"Okay, could you cover for me on Saturday night and Sunday morning? Say I'm in the bathroom when Briggs comes to do lights-out. Tell them at breakfast that I'm not well. That sort of thing, Can you do it?"
"Yeah, course. But where're you going?"
"Big secret between you and me. Wilmington wants to take me away to do some boating or something and we're staying in a hotel."
"So is that why you didn't want to mess up those shorts?"
"Yeah, he'll want me in these shorts the whole time but for God's sake keep it to yourself."
"Course I will, Paddy."
"Thanks. I trust you completely and you're the sexiest thing on two legs - I wanna cuddle you to bits!"
"Hey, you two!" shouted Hairy as he caught up with us. "Stop holding hands - you look like a pair of fairies!"
I hadn't even realised we were holding hands and I quickly withdrew my hand from Paddy's grasp.
After lessons on Saturday morning Paddy met me in the lunch queue. "Look, mate, I'm slipping away straight after lunch. You still happy to cover for me?"
"Course I am, Paddy. See you tomorrow evening. Don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
"Can't promise that, Jerry. I'll miss you though."
Those were Paddy's last words to me. I covered for him for the rest of Saturday and all of Sunday but he never returned to school. On Monday at breakfast the Headmaster announced that 'for personal reasons,' Mr Wilmington had left the staff and would not be seen at school again. When I went to the dorm after lunch I saw Paddy's bed had been stripped, leaving just a bare mattress. All his kit had gone and his locker was bare. He seemed to have been spirited away.
After tea I asked the Housemaster what had happened.
"Pearson won't be coming back. He was taken home and is out of action for the time being. Something to do with meningitis, I think."
In the queue for supper I heard one of the prefects say he'd heard Wilmington had been arrested for buggery. "Mind you, it's probably Pearson's fault, the bloody flirt. He probably put him up to it."
"I hear they found hundreds of photos of boys in Wilmington's room," said another prefect.
I felt bereft. My little world had fallen apart and there was nobody I could talk to about it . Hairy was in another house so wasn't easy to contact. I kept remembering Paddy's last words to me: 'I'll miss you though.' Was he missing me now? Did he have an idea of what lay ahead for him? As for meningitis, surely he'd have been taken to the local hospital, not sent all the way home, wherever that was? No, I didn't even have his home address.
None of the other boys mentioned Paddy again and of course, he never had a chance to compete at the high jump on Sports Day. I so wanted to talk about him but how could I tell anyone about the things we'd done together? He and Wilmington had been airbrushed away as if they'd never existed. In the main corridor a framed photo had been removed. It showed the Second Eleven and Paddy as its goalkeeper.
I couldn't help thinking that everyone knew something and I was the only one not to know it. Had a dreadful crime been committed? Had he died? I knew I had to keep my secret but it was a heavy burden and my mind was in turmoil for the last couple of weeks of term. To make matters worse, A Picture of You seemed forever to be on the radio and it made me cry.
Spending the summer holidays in the bosom of my family, I tried to forget about school and Paddy. I even began to think our night in the tent had just been a dream. But I still had the little blue shorts and although I never wore them again, I kept them and some nights in bed I'd fold them and brush them against my cheeks, trying to remember those extraordinary times with Paddy.
The roll of film in my camera was processed and I tore open the package to see the colour slides. My heart beating frantically, I found the ones of Paddy and me. At first glance they looked OK and I studied them through my little viewer but would only be able to see them in all their glory when I could use Dad's slide projector and for that I had to wait three agonising days.
My chance came when my parents went out for the afternoon. I set up the projector and within seconds Paddy and I were side by side, at nearly half-size, on a blank piece of wall. Then I slotted in the slide of Paddy by himself. It was perfect! The sun was highlighting his wavy, fair hair and glinting on his pale blue shorts. There was strong contrast between light and shade on his long, beautiful and totally bare legs and on his handsome face a slightly sad smile. I began to cry.
On cue, the kitchen radio played the song and I bravely tried to sing along with it but when it got to the third verse I crumpled:
It was last summer, I fell in love
My heart told me what to do
I saw you there on the crest of a hill
An' I took a little picture of you
Matters got even worse when the fourth verse began:
Then you were gone, like a dream in the night
With you went my heart, my love and my life ...
I turned off the radio and poured myself a glass of milk. Then I moved the projector into the passage and soon I had an image of Paddy on the far wall that was life-size. I stood and stared lovingly at my friend, singing through my tears:
I'm left with a picture of, oh yeah
That wonderful picture of you
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