Sandy had reached a crisis point. He'd just been thrown out of catering college and his parents weren't slow to show their disappointment. Despite a promising school career in his early teens he'd gone off the boil in his sixteenth year and had achieved no GCSE passes. His father's hopes that he'd follow him into business were proving fruitless, as were his mother's hopes that he'd find a girlfriend. Sandy was wondering what to do. Once such a bright and hard-working boy, he now looked destined for menial work. His father said he'd have to pay his way if he were to continue to live at home.
"You're nearly seventeen, boy. At that age I'd been at work two years, sending my mother money to repay her for scrimping and saving to give me a good start to life. You've given us nothing! You've had a private education and every luxury a boy could want and look at you – can't even hold down a place at a bloody cookery school! Sort yourself out!"
It was 1991 and there were plenty of opportunities for the young people of Britain. You could even get letters after your name for learning golf course maintenance. Sandy had been destined for a proper degree at a proper university but now he couldn't even scrape a catering diploma.
One day in May his mother's unmarried brother paid a visit. Sandy had always liked his Uncle Ken and happily spent an hour with him before supper. They sat beside each other in the garden, Uncle Ken with a large whisky and Sandy with a Coke.
"You're a fit young lad," said Uncle Ken. "Have you thought of joining the forces? The army, maybe, or the Navy?"
"Couldn't take the discipline, Uncle and anyway I'm a bit of a pacifist. I think it's wrong to kill people, even if they're your enemy."
"Hmm, but does getting away from home appeal, not for ever, of course but just for a year or so? Getting some worldly experience under your belt."
"You mean like running away to sea?" said Sandy. "Sometimes I think I'd like that but I don't think it's possible these days."
Uncle Ken looked at Sandy, a boy with clear skin, a mop of fair hair and brown eyes that still had the lustre of earlier years. He sipped his whisky and remained silent for a minute, responding to Sandy's remark only with a pat on the boy's thigh, just below the fashionably-frayed hem of his cut-off jeans.
Sandy liked the pat on his leg. Uncle Ken had never said anything critical to his nephew and had always been a sort of friend. When Sandy's parents had been cross with their son Uncle Ken had lightened the moment with a crafty wink, a joke or indeed, a pat on the leg.
"Now that's got me thinking, Sandy. D'you fancy a clean break, getting away from home, being paid to work with other young people and to do it at sea?"
At supper, Sandy's parents were surprised by their son's attitude. For once he was chatty, polite and even smiling. He was almost like the son they'd known before he'd turned sixteen.
Afterwards Sandy's father had a word with his wife.
"If your brother's put silly thoughts into the boy's head I'll not be pleased. I want a word with him. Why don't you get your son to help you clear up?"
Sandy's mother didn't like the way her husband referred to Sandy as 'her' son. Was he trying to blame her for Sandy's decline?
In bed, Sandy's father told his wife what Uncle Ken had in mind for her son. Uncle Ken was on the board of a company on the English south coast, at a resort called Timbury Regis. The company operated pleasure cruises along the Jurassic Coast and within the broad estuary of the River Tim. The cruises were aimed at naturalists, bird-watchers, photographers and anyone interested in spotting seals and other marine residents of the English Riviera. The boats were crewed entirely by young people. On-the-job training, uniform and accommodation were provided.
"I know your brother has certain friends I don't approve of but this cruise company sounds OK and the boy's quite keen. It could be the making of him."
Sandy's mother agreed but privately thought a life on the ocean wave wasn't likely to expose Sandy to potential fiancées. She sighed. And why, for heaven's sake, couldn't her husband use Sandy's name? He'd always done so until recently.
Sandy was in bed, stroking his silken thighs, for the past two years a favourite pastime of his and one which invariably led to a juicy wank. He thought of when Uncle Ken had patted him. Nobody'd touched him for ages, let alone patted his legs and he'd liked it. He'd felt a further tingle of excitement when Uncle Ken had admired his shorts.
"Nice cut-offs, Sandy. They suit you. Could do with being very much shorter but that seems to be going out of fashion, sad to say. But not everywhere, thank goodness."
That last remark had puzzled Sandy. What did Uncle Ken mean?
Three weeks later Sandy went to the London offices of Timbury Cruise Lines for an interview and medical examination. For Uncle Ken's sake he'd tried hard to look smart and his turn-out certainly impressed the two men who interviewed him. He said he didn't know much about ships and the sea but was prepared to learn.
"Well, Alexander, the company believes in on-the-job training. It's vital you get on with the rest of the crew and show respect at all times to the passengers. Your skipper and his bosun will give you all the support you need, especially at first. As you're not yet eighteen your father will need to sign the contract handing you into our care and agreeing to any corrective training necessary."
After a few more questions Sandy was sent through to the company doctor, an androgynous youth of twenty-six with delicate features and the tightest trousers Sandy had ever seen. A surprised Sandy had to strip completely and lie on a bench beside the doctor's desk for his body to be examined in great detail. After a while the doctor got Sandy to turn onto his tummy so he could inspect his bottom, which he did with surprising intimacy. He then told Sandy to stand up and put his hands on his head.
"You've very nice legs," said the doctor, who'd removed his surgical gloves and was stroking the front of Sandy's left thigh. "You don't shave them, do you?"
"No, sir, of course not!" said Sandy, feeling a stirring in his groin.
"Hmm, that's good," said the doctor, moving his fingers round to Sandy's inner thigh. "We don't want hairy young men in the company."
He looked at the semi-erection now sported by Sandy and smiled. "You've passed your medical, young man. Put your hands down and get dressed."
Sandy smiled back. The doctor left to speak to the interview board, leaving our hero to ponder on his now-rigid penis. The doctor's fingers had felt so nice as they'd probed Sandy's bottom and stroked his thigh, far nicer than Uncle Ken's had felt three weeks earlier. And Sandy thought the doctor was gorgeous. He'd never felt that about another male. But he hadn't felt that about a girl, either.
"An excellent specimen," said the doctor to the interview board. "Physically immature for seventeen, so just what we're after. Fantastic legs and perfect bottom. Almost certainly a virgin. A winning smile, too. I'd recommend he be appointed to Jack's crew. I'm damned sure he's one of us. He appeals to me greatly."
"And judging by that gigantic bulge in your trousers," said one of the interviewers, "I can perfectly believe it! I suppose you'll want to go down to Timbury to help settle him in."
"Oooh yes!" squeaked the doctor. "Such a nice change from my day job at A and E in St Thomas's."
"Jack'll be delighted to have some nice new crumpet under his command!" said the other interviewer. "I'll send the contract to Alexander's father to sign."
In his smartest clothes Sandy travelled by train to Timbury Regis. He wore a navy blue blazer as he wanted to look nautical. At Timbury Cruise Lines a pleasant young man in a suit bade him welcome and pointed to a two-storey building opposite.
"That's the accommodation block. It's two to a room but we're a friendly lot so I don't think you'll have any problems. We usually eat at the café or get take-aways so you won't starve. Your skipper's Jack and he'll be along to meet you as soon as he's brought his boat in. But first I'll take you over to your room."
On his bed Sandy saw a parcel which presumably contained his uniform but he'd no time to open it as the merry tooting of a horn indicated the arrival of Jack's boat.
It was a jaunty little two-deck vessel in blue and yellow, named Samantha. The wheelhouse stood towards the forward end of the upper deck and behind it was an open-air seated area with about eighty passengers. Sandy saw a boy about his age leap onto the jetty to grab the rope thrown to him by a larger boy standing amidships. The boys were in white shirts, blue shorts and sandals. The boy on the jetty fastened his rope to a bollard then went towards the after end of the boat to grab a rope passed to him by a girl, also in white shirt and blue shorts. Sandy was struck by the extraordinary brevity of the shorts worn by the boy on the jetty.
Sandy watched as the passengers disembarked and once they'd all gone, he saw the girl go to the company's offices and the two boys descend to the lower deck of Samantha. He moved away from the window and was about to open the parcel on his bed when into the room came another young man, one whom he hadn't seen before. He was in the Timbury Cruise Lines uniform but on each shoulder of his shirt was a gold stripe.
"You must be Sandy," said the newcomer. "I'm Jack, your skipper. Welcome to Timbury Cruise Lines and to my ship, Samantha! You're sharing this room with Aaron. This is his second season with us. We all live in this block, except Sally, who lives in town. I'll introduce you to my crew in an hour so I suggest you get into uniform. You'll find it all in that parcel. Catch you later!"
Sandy opened his parcel. Six white shirts, six pairs of blue shorts, two pairs of sandals and six pairs of tiny white briefs. Lifting up a pair of shorts he began to shake with nerves. Surely he wasn't expected to wear shorts as short as that? He suddenly remembered that puzzling remark of Uncle Ken's.
A sense of foreboding struck Sandy and he was extremely reluctant to get changed. Then into the room came the boy he'd watched on the jetty, the boy in extraordinarily short shorts. He wasn't as tall as Sandy and looked a bit younger. He had a cheeky little face and beautiful, blue eyes.
He seemed pleased to find someone in his room. "Oh – you must be the new boy – I'm Aaron."
Sandy shook Aaron's hand. "I'm Sandy. Got here an hour ago. Nice to meet you."
Aaron rubbed his bottom and stood facing Sandy, taking in his slim build, fair hair and sensuous brown eyes.
"You should fit in pretty well here and I can see the camera doesn't lie. Do you know anything about seamanship?"
"No, not really," said Sandy.
"You learn on the job," said Aaron, still rubbing his bottom. "And if you're like me you'll get loads of encouragement! I need a shower."
Aaron took off his shirt then put on a cotton dressing gown before stooping to remove his sandals, shorts and briefs. Grabbing a towel, he left the bedroom and made for the washroom. Sandy looked at Aaron's discarded clothing. The shorts had inseams of barely 4 cm, even less than on the shorts Sandy had been given.
Sandy again found himself shaking with nerves. He remembered Jack's instruction to be in uniform for the meeting with the crew. With great apprehension he took off all his clothes. 'What have I done?' he wondered as he put on the tiny briefs and then the white shirt. Looking in the full-length mirror, he took a deep breath and stepped into the shorts and began to pull them up. When the waistband was halfway up his thighs the lower hems were above his knees. Up and up went the hems until they stopped not far below his crotch. His heart was beating very fast as he stared in horror at the mirror. His long, smooth legs were almost entirely bare!
The door opened and in bustled Aaron, towel around his waist.
"Christ! The Bosun's gonna love you! A yard of gorgeous bare leg – just what he likes!"
This made Sandy blush and he turned to Aaron.
"Why? Is the Bosun a pervert or something?"
"You'll find out soon enough, mate!"
Sandy looked at Aaron and was struck by how good-looking he was. He felt a surge of sexual arousal which was quickly replaced by apprehension when he turned to see again his own image in the mirror.
"I try not to look in that mirror," said Aaron. "It reminds me how obscenely short my bloody shorts are. You're lucky – your bare bum doesn't peep out like mine does."
"Why d'you wear 'em so short, then?" asked Sandy.
"Bosun's orders. I have no choice."
Sandy thought he'd better change the subject. "What do we wear in cold weather?"
"Company policy to wear this uniform all season," said Aaron. "In rain we have a waterproof jacket and if it's cold we wear gloves. Makes handling the ropes bearable. But mostly it's just what you're wearing now. Meant to give the passengers the illusion of perpetual summer – and for some of the men, a raging hard-on. Your legs will soon get an all-over tan." Look at mine! He threw his towel onto the bed and stood naked, facing Sandy.
Sandy looked at Aaron's delightfully hairless legs and saw a marked tan-line at the very top of each. He noticed Aaron was semi-erect. He blushed again.
"We're having a crew meeting soon," said Aaron, "so I'd best get dressed and I'll take you there." Without turning away from Sandy, Aaron donned his tiny briefs and forced his penis inside, with some difficulty. "Like what you see?" he asked, having noticed where Sandy was gazing.
Sandy blushed even more deeply and looked away.
When Aaron had dressed he took Sandy downstairs and across the road to the Timbury Cruise Lines offices. Jack the skipper was there, as were Sally and four young men Sandy didn't recognise. All were in the company uniform. Jack's shorts were the longest, reaching almost to his knees and the other five had shorts of varying length but much shorter than Jack's. None were even nearly as short as Aaron's.
Jack opened a bottle of Cava and poured the contents into eight glasses. He offered a glass to Sandy, who was blushing again.
"Here's to our new crew member," said Jack. "Welcome to the crew of Samantha, Sandy and here's to many happy voyages with us!"
Everyone raised a glass to Sandy and he nodded in their direction and gave a shy little smile. After some small talk Jack made another announcement.
"Now Sandy, I'll leave you with Sally, our catering manager, while I brief the rest of the crew on the trips we've got in the next four days."
Sally came forward, shook Sandy's hand in welcome and guided him to the far end of the room where sat an unopened bottle of Cava. Sally was a big girl.
"I'll open this when I've filled you in on who's who," she said, touching the still-blushing Sandy gently on his forearm. "If you feel self-conscious in your uniform don't worry too much. Everyone feels conspicuous at first but remember, you were picked for your good looks as much as your personality. And you've got fantastic legs! The longer you serve in the company the longer your shorts can be – unless your name's Aaron. Look at Jack's – he's been with us four years.
"Under Jack is Dan, the Bosun, that tall, blond one with legs to die for. He's twenty-two, second-in-command and in charge of training us crew members. He's the one who gives corrective training to you boys. The little dark boy is Sammy, the engineer. We hardly ever see him cos he's down below with his beloved engine. That divine redhead is Rufus and standing next to him is William, the one in tiny shorts. He's a real sweetie; he runs the bar and helps me with the catering. The cute little one in even tinier shorts is Aaron, your room-mate. Would you believe he's just turned eighteen? Sammy apart, we take turns at whatever needs to be done. I steer the ship when Jack answers the call of nature. Sometimes I even get Dan to serve drinks. It's all very friendly and good fun."
"So what does Aaron do?" asked Sandy, noting that Aaron was still rubbing his bottom.
"Gorgeous, isn't he?" said Sally. "He's the Bosun's Mate. General dogsbody, to you and me. He's Bosun's Mate in more than one way cos Dan's really fond of him, even though he's always having to discipline him. Have you seen his latest cane marks?"
"N-no," stammered Sandy, feeling again that surge of fear. "Cane marks, like marks made by a cane?"
"Yes, darling, didn't you know? Corrective training means getting caned by Dan!"
Sandy felt weak and clutched at the table, making the bottle of Cava wobble.
"Oh, poor dear," said Sally. "You need another drink. I'll just open this bottle."
Sandy fortified himself with his second glass of Cava. It went quickly down and Sally had to refill his glass again.
"D'you mean Dan can cane us?" said he, trying to stop trembling.
"Yes, darling, except for me, of course, or Jack, obviously. Didn't you agree to accept corrective training when you signed your contract?"
"My dad signed it cos I'm only just seventeen. I didn't realise it meant caning!"
"Look at Aaron from behind when you get the chance. Two nice red marks on his sweet little bottom which his shorts can't hide. And probably more further up. Shorts like his can't hide very much at all...."
Thinking his own shorts didn't hide very much at all, Sandy put down his glass and tugged at their hems to try to make them cover a little more flesh.
Sally noticed and said "Oh, you sweet little thing! William was always doing that when he first joined and oh – how the passengers loved watching him! Honestly – you boys are so self-conscious! The passengers like to see young, healthy bodies like ours. Makes 'em feel young again. Or so I'm told."
Sandy now felt sick with fear. What on earth had he let himself in for and what did his Uncle Ken know about all this corrective training?
Jack's briefing was over and the whole crew went to eat in a nearby restaurant. Sandy had been starving but fear had demolished his appetite and he could only pick at his scampi and chips. By now all the other boys had chatted to him and he felt welcome but scared. Dan told him he'd be under his command for four months. Back in the accommodation block a slightly inebriated Aaron led Sandy to the room they shared.
"So what's Dan like?" asked Sandy. "Is he as hard as he looks?"
"Hard, yes. But fair as well. He's not a bully, if that's what you mean."
"But he can cane us. Sally said he canes you a lot."
"Yeah, he does. I usually deserve it and it bloody well hurts. D'you wanna see what he did today?"
As Aaron bent forward and put his hands on his knees Sandy saw the blue shorts ride up to expose an inch or two of Aaron's bottom where there were three slashes of livid red.
"How many can you see?"
"Three," said a shocked Sandy. "They look incredibly painful." Despite his best efforts, he was feeling a strange surge of desire.
"I'll take off these stupid little shorts so you can see the rest," said Aaron, standing up, releasing his shorts and easing down his very skimpy briefs to reveal two more slashes on his bottom.
"It's terrible," said Sandy. "Looks so painful. You must have been in agony!"
"You can say that again!" said Aaron. "Dan caned me just before the last trip. We had some retired schoolmasters on the boat and I could see 'em training their binoculars not on the bloody sea-life but on me! I don't s'pose they realised I'm eighteen. Is there any blood?"
"Yes, one of them's still weeping," said a horrified Sandy. "What can I do to help?"
"You could sooth my poor bum with a wet flannel. I'll lie on my bed."
Sandy was eager to please. He felt revulsion at what Dan had done to Aaron and felt great tenderness for Aaron, finding himself with a growing erection. He wet a face flannel and placed it on Aaron's bare bottom and patted it gently.
"Ooh, that feels nice!" murmured Aaron, wriggling a little.
Sandy soothed Aaron's bottom, admiring the smoothness of each firm, white buttock and noting how the cane-marks stood proud of the sumptuous flesh, forming angry ridges in every shade of red. He was careful not to touch them but just to press gently with the cool flannel. He was shocked to find his rigid penis had escaped his little white briefs and was poking out from the left leg of his blue shorts. He was wondering what to do about it when Aaron stopped purring and made to raise himself from his bed. That was when Sandy saw that Aaron also had a raging erection.
"Thanks, Sandy, you've got a magic touch. Maybe I can do it for you some time? Oh – I see you enjoyed it as much as I did! Occupational hazard in shorts like these! Look – I've gotta go. Dan's expecting me, for sex. I'll be back much later and I'll try not to wake you up."
In only his flimsy dressing gown, Aaron left the room, leaving Sandy wondering how his room-mate could bear to go to the bed of the man who only hours before had caned him so severely. Sally had said life in the company was 'all friendly and good fun' but to Sandy it looked nothing of the sort.
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