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Nick Park

by Mark Driver

Part 3

Return to Me

Into our third year of weights and exercise, Colin came up with a new wrinkle: Wardlow's Boxing Club. Mom was horrified. "Oh honey, no." I explained how Wardlow restrictions kept us safe. The punching had to be within a certain zone. A strict protocol was followed, I promised. Dad thought it might be good for me.

Colin was a natural. We were assigned to be sparring partners. Colin landed plenty of punches but never made it sting. The instructor Mr. Phips commended him. "Great stance Mr. Bright. Nice form." One time one of the older boys took a good fight to me. I was a bit shaken. Colin saw it. Mr. Phips had us switch, and now this older boy gave Colin a try. Somehow Mr. Phips must have looked the other way. The boy ended up on the floor. "Watch yourself," Colin said to him. With Colin there, the boy never took a fight to me again.

It was mid-term when Nick showed up at Boxing Club. Julian Trask mentioned the rumor he was coming back, to Wardlow. I knew it was him. Even with his head gear partially obscuring his face, and the way his body had matured, there was no mistaking my Nick. I went to him. We touched gloves. "Hey Nick." We kept them touching and continued looking at each other. "It's me. Remember me, Nick?"

NIck gave my gloves a shove and smiled. "Dad said it would be good for me. Boxing."

I grabbed him and lifted him up. I didn't want to let go. Mr. Phips shouted at us to spar. "Mr. Kimbolton, let's spar. You! Mr. Park. Spar with Mr. Kimbolton."

As we went at it I winked at Nick and asked if he remembered how we used to wrestle.

"And other stuff. Yeah."

Phips yelled at us to stay on the basics, meaning no talking. He eventually had us switch back.

I couldn't help stealing glances at my Nicky. Colin was annoyed. "Eyes on me, John. Let's spar." I wilted like a flower when Colin's hard blow struck me. He'd never hit that hard before. "Watch yourself."

After practice Colin left without me. Nick disappeared too, before I could learn his schedule or what dorm room he was assigned.

Later on I spied Nick behind the music building playing with a yo-yo. It appeared to be the same World Fair souvenir from 1965.

I ran to my dorm room to retrieve mine and surprise Nick that I'd kept it. But when I returned Nick was gone. I practiced a few tricks but stopped when there was a tap on the window. I assumed it was Mr Franz reminding that yo-yos were frowned upon. I looked up the see Nick along with Mr. Franz motioning me in.

"Mr. Kimbolton, if you make a habit of that yo yo I'll have to take it from you." All the while Nick was displaying some amazing tricks right behind him. Please Mr. Franz, not my yo yo. I showed it to him, and then Nick reached over and displayed how his matched mine.

"Oh. I see. Well let's keep your yo yo period to 10 minutes a day. Will that work for you two?"

"Yes sir Mr. Franz," we both responded.

"Very good boys. By the way, I'm counting on you at choral society. Keep me in mind. We need you Nick. You too Mr. Kimbolton." Mr. Franz went back to his desk.

"Do you like him Nick?"

"Yeah I trust him."


"I'm sort of on probation. But he's nice."


Nick shrugged. "I have to stay low."

"What probation?"

"My parents."

"What do you mean?"

Nick started up his yo yo. "This one is called AROUND THE CORNER." The yo yo went down, behind and then over Nick's shoulder from behind, so fast I barely caught the trick until Nick repeated it a few times. Then Nick tried a version where he stood with his back against my chest and sent the yo yo behind me, on up my back and then over both of our shoulders.

I felt the yo yo whizzing what seemed too close to my head. The incredible trick thrilled and scared me enough that I lowered my chin safely onto Nick's opposite shoulder, out of harm's way while he kept that thing going back and over, again and again until we saw Mr. Franz reappear, now with a quizzical look on his face. "Five minutes boys."

I started a basic throw and catch, but kept snagging the string on the catch. Nick had started up a forward pass, but transitioned to the throw and catch, patiently throwing it over and over for me to observe until I got it right. Then Nick went back to a forward pass, except now he covered his his eyes with his opposite hand. I laughed at him. "You're a card."

"OK boys. Time to get ready for the dining hall. You'll get me in trouble in here."

We headed towards the residence hall to get dressed.

"What did he mean get him in trouble Nick?"

Nick shrugged again.

"Oh man!" I grimaced. I was supposed to lift weights with Colin before dinner.

"Uh oh. Is it too late, John?"

I looked for Colin before heading over to eat. He wasn't in his room and hadn't arrived for dinner yet, but Nick was there alone, so I joined him.

After dinner we ran into Colin in the Quad. I apologized for ditching him. Colin wasn't angry, just resigned.

By then Colin was ready for serious coaching for rowing anyway. Not long after that he dropped boxing. I lifted with him less and less, but always acknowledged him when we were both at the weight room.

The next week at Boxing Club Colin was already gone. The older boy that bothered me before was at me again and I was took a beating. I could see Nick was furious, but changed his attitude when Mr. Phips switched the boy to him. I protested, suggesting I'd only just started my try with that boy. I dreaded what he would do to Nick.

Nobody knew unless perhaps Mr. Phips did. Nick had been sandbagging. His two years of personal training at Swindon's Royal Boxing Club, afforded by his parents wealth, a way to toughen him, gave an advantage this older boy had no hope against. The jab and counterpunch were lightning fast, and the hook that finished the boy off made everyone stop and look. He went down. Nick and Colin. My champions. As it was Mr. Phips had this boy sent home for repeated violation of gentlemanly protocol. We never saw him again.

That night after dinner Nick and I wandered back behind the the music building with our yo yos. I asked Nick to show me is variation on AROUND THE CORNER again. Nick pressed back against my chest. This time his butt was against me. I felt the yo yo whiz by my head again, and again I lowered my head onto his opposite shoulder. Nick kept it going. I wanted to stay like that. I couldn't stop thinking about how he knocked that older boy down. I reached my hand around his waist and held him snug. Nick reeled in the yo yo and stopped. I kissed Nick on the neck and whispered "thank you Nick." He smiled. We stayed like that for a minute until Nick insisted he had to go study. I held Nick's hand a bit and then he pulled away and left. I noticed a shadow pass near the window. I wondered if it was Mr. Franz, so went inside to find him.

I found he was sorting music for choir and joined to help.

"You and Mr. Park are good friends."

"Yes Mr. Franz."


"Mr. Franz?"

"Yes. John."

"Is Nick in trouble?"

Mr. Franz looked at me. "John we mustn't talk about the other boys behind their backs."

"Yes sir. I'm sorry Mr. Franz. I didn't mean to be disrespectful."

"I know that John."

We continued working in silence, Mr. Franz handing me stacks of sheet music to sort.

Finally he stopped and looked at me. "We just do what we can do John, don't we?"

"Yes sir, I do want to Mr. Franz," responding in a way to let him know how much it all meant to me.

All the way back to my room I thought about what Mr Franz said to me, and when I arrived concluded I would look for anything that I could to for Nick, whatever he needed, however to help him, I would find a way. I didn't want him in trouble.

I didn't see Nick again until next week at Boxing Club.

Phips assigned Nick to spar with me again. I had to whisper to avoid scrutiny.

"Are you hiding from me?"

Nick countered each question with a devastating round of jabs and counterpunches, accented by his own effective sound effects of huffing and grunting that made it sound like I was getting the stuffing beat out of me even though NIck was barely hitting me. It was all I could to not to laugh at his carrying on.

"OK but it's your loss, Nicky boy."

Another round of even more fierce sound effects.

"Because you know….you're still tops with me Nick, no matter how you ignore me and break my heart."

Then Nick let one of mine slip by. He took it hard in the gut, or at least that's how Nick made it sound, as if I had potentially done some damage.

"Easy Mr. Kimbolton. Let's spar. Not fight."

We both amped up our technique, followed by a clinch that Phips noticed and finally decided to end with his whistle. Boys you're good for today. Hit the showers or get out of here.

Muffin Man

Nick and I both had a change of clothes along so we headed back to the shower. I stripped off and gathered my soap and cloth.

"You're quite a muffin man."

"What?" I looked over at Nick.

"Your body. Sweet and curvy."

"Oh yeah?" The compliment made me feel good and a little excited

Nick walked towards me. He touched my biceps and pecs. "Like here. And here," reaching down to give my ass cheek a quick squeeze.

"Hey!" I looked around to see if anyone saw us.

"I mean your body is … you're a hunk."

"So I'm a muffin man?"


I walked into the shower room. Nick followed me in and took the stall directly across from me.

I hadn't seen him naked since we were 13. He was still on the small side compared to me. Boxing had made him lean and hard, like boxers look. He looked nice.

"Nick?" I flashed my ass cheek at him. "Bite me."

"I will. I will."

Nick smiled at me. I nodded back and shrugged my shoulders as in "what are you waiting for?"

We didn't say anything while we toweled off and dressed. I didn't ask Nick where he was going next. I hoped he would just let me come along for a while. But he didn't.

"I need to get going John."

"Oh yeah. Let 's meet up later then."

"Later?""How about behind the music building after dinner?"

I didn't see Nick at dinner and waited behind the music building, but he didn't arrive, so I went inside.

"Good evening Mr. Franz.""Good evening John."

"How are you?"

"I'm well thank you. You look a bit down I must say."

"Oh? Yes sir."

"Everything OK?"

"I hope so."

"Don't we all, John. Don't we all."

"Can I help with anything?"

"No. I'm about finished here."

"Oh." I must have sounded disappointed because Mr. Franz suddenly found something that needed my help.

Nick can you wash the chalkboards for me? It's time they had a good cleaning.

"Yes sir, Mr. Franz. I'd be happy to do that."

Ten minutes into the task Nick walked in.

"Look John. Here's your Nick. A stroke of luck I'd say. Welcome Mr. Park."

"Hello Mr. Franz." Nick walked over and picked up another sponge and launched into helping me quickly finish.

"Boys I need to ask a big favor. I have a personal matter to attend here at my desk. Would you mind stepping into the storeroom for about ten minutes while I take care of this?"

I grabbed Nick by the hand and started towards the storeroom door. Mr. Franz came behind. "Now if you'd rather just look out the window, you can switch this light off here. Mr. Franz switched the light off once and then back on. Or, if you'd rather do what I think you want to do….Did you bring those yo yos? Now you won't make too much racket, will you."

Mr. Franz shut the door behind. I turned the light out, grabbed Nick and walked over to the window.

Nick leaned against me. "This is nice."

"Yeah Nick. Nice."



"Why did you kiss me last week."

"I just wanted to."



We continued looking out.

"Where do you go when I don't see you. Are you OK?"

Nick slipped his arm around my waist.

"It's just that I never knew where you went three years ago, and now….."

Nick looked up at me.

"Can I kiss you Nick?"


Ian Bartlett

So many memories were coming back as I sorted through the box. Helen was busy attempting to organize and catalog various artifacts as I contemplated all the faces. "So John, you haven't told me enough about Nick. And what about Julian Trask and Ian Bartlett. They were both at the wedding. What can you remember about these fellows?

"I'm afraid Ian is no longer with us. It was HIV."

"Oh dear."

"Ian and Julian were strict Christians and planned to do missionary work. Ian ended up going on his own and stayed for years, even getting married over there. Burma, or Malaysia or one of those places. I forgot. Anyway he was in a bad car accident. A blood supply thing. Was a tough go back then. Around five years after our wedding. Julian flew over."

"Very nice of Julian. He seemed such an interesting fellow at the wedding, as did Ian."

"I was hoping Ian would sing at our wedding. But I hedged my bets on Nick for too long, and by the time I realized I'd better try for Ian, he wasn't certain whether he could arrange to attend so that was when your cousin was drafted."

"Ah yes. And what about Nick."

"Well Nick and Julian became roommates, which you might not have guessed from the Wardlow debate fallout."

"Certainly Ian and Julian were more suited."

"They were for a while. But Julian strayed from the church. And Ian went on to his mission."


"Turned out Julian's younger brother was being molested by one of the clergy each week. When a complaint was aired, there wasn't much one could do back then to help Julian's brother or to keep the priest from other kids. Amazing how all that got swept under the rug for so long, but Julian wasn't having it. That all hit a nerve with him, so he turned to the Maharishi Mahev Yogi, even went to India and to gatherings in the UK and Netherlands. Seemed like every time I stopped at Julian's flat he was playing Donovan and burning incense."

"Did he smoke marijuana?"

"No, that crowd was anti-drug, though the media seemed to have an agenda to promote they were stoners. Julian meditated a lot."

"Then Nick hit a rough patch and Julian took him in. Ian had gone to mission by then. Funny how after Julian divorced himself from the church, then turned around and did what Jesus would have done, showing compassion to someone like Nick, someone Julian always considered a great sinner."

"We all have our blind spots to overcome."

"Except you Helen."

Helen smiled. "Always the sweet talker."

"Not always." I thought about Nick.

"So Nick actually met the Maharishi once. The story goes how there were 100,000 followers out in a field somewhere in the Netherlands. There was a rumor that this great seer was mostly a great seer of beautiful young men and women, and Nick was always a looker, so was plucked from the crowd and into a white tent for wisdom from the great Maharishi."

"John! That's amazing, I guess."

"Eventually Nick ended up in America, due in part to his following the teachings, and once there he eventually put down roots you could say."

John took a deep breath, put his hands behind his head, stretched his shoulders back, and looked up. He slowly exhaled.

Helen poured more tea. So the great Nick Park became an American. Did you hear from him or know where he was?

Out of Wardlow

Mr. Franz was a genius at allowing Nick and I to spend quiet time together, whether evenings in the music building storeroom, bunking at guest houses in surrounding towns during choral performances, impromptu stops at his flat to retrieve anything he could think of that sounded plausible. I suppose he remembered how it was when he was young. He wanted to help two boys. All he required was our extreme discretion, to avoid suspicion from the likes of Ian and Julian, and as it turned out, Nick's parents and their spies. Funny thing was how Julian and Ian were often nearby to the covert rendezvous made possible by the very man Julian referred to as a poor old queer. The two stalwart Christians rubbing shoulders with our sinful natures. The joke was on Julian and Ian really. It was brilliant.

During one of the overnights, Nick and I were bunking together in a private home, I drew up close behind Nick and brought an arm around. I loved the feel of stroking his chest and his stomach under his pajama. We'd lay like that for the longest time just talking, me stroking his body. That was when Nick finally admitted that his mother had always been difficult, how she controlled the family fortune, hence controlled Nick's father and convinced him when Nick should be removed from Wardlow, when he should attend boxing training, the terms of his return to Wardlow, and so on. The Parks had given a great deal of money to Wardlow and in return wanted a detailed account on Nick's activities. More than a report card. They wanted personnel to act as detectives, creating reports Mrs. Park could review. Some might credit her with caring so much about her son. But it seemed creepy and abusive to me, and Nick hated it. Somehow Mr. Franz was tuned into that mess, and was looking out for Nick.

Mrs. Park often made veiled threats about running Nick out of the family and leaving everything to his sister. Nick was sick of it. When I think back to it, I'd consider how Nick turning out so well around a mother that was a nightmare is proof that there is a God that looks out for us. It's not surprising how Nick enjoyed staying at our home.

That night I let my hand drift down into Nick's pajama bottoms, running it along his thighs and across his butt and around his cock. There was always the concern of what to do with the jizz. Leaving that kind of mess in a private home was unthinkable. But that night I was determined that Nick would have his release. I told him I'd take care, if he would let me know before he was going to shoot. I eased down, and put my lips around as the ropes of semen shot out. I still remember how it felt, my buddy ejaculating inside me. The feel of the warm spunk squirting across my teeth, hitting the roof of my mouth. Swallowing it down. I considered it an ultimate act for Nick. He deserved it. Like Mr. Franz said, we just do what we can do. For Nick.

I always loved the way his face looked when he came. The orgasm face isn't exactly regarded as pleasant. But somehow it was on Nick. After he shot, I'd tousle his hair. "Did you enjoy it Nicky?"


As graduation approached we realized a separation would come. All of us did. Colin would pursue rowing scholarship at Cambridge. Ian and Julian were talking about the missionary initiative. William Carter was headed to drama school. I'd been accepted in a journalism curriculum. Poor Nick was still battling his demon mother, and her attempts to remain marionette over my boy.

By then I'd discovered how girls in many of the towns our choral society sang had fancied me. I learned to appreciate their attention, and also noticed how I admired their look and nature more and more intently. By the time I was at college, I found the variety of willing girls irresistible. The charms of so many young women boosted my pride and fed a kind of lust I wasn't much aware of at Wardlow, which might not be a surprise considering there were no girls there. When I understood how to play along, where to find a bit of fun and which ones were looking for it, I jumped at it.

I still kept on with Nick. That was still fun as ever. But I came to know women's bodies, how they offered so much that Nick couldn't.

Life changed with college. I didn't see Nick as often. I had less time for him. With women came this perceived honor. With Nick our acts brought a sense of risk and guilt. Like the old saying, curses are like chickens; they always come home to roost. I considered how my carnal knowledge of a boy might pose problems at some point. Anal sex with Nick was new and exciting. But a small resentment grew. The stigma of gay sex grew tiresome. When I think back, I grew tiresome, how my own head became a bit too big.

Then came my second year at college and Miriam Richards. She had talents I'd never experienced before, talents that made her an effective teacher in that she was a textbook example of how an aroused young females vaginal opening should always perform, becoming heavily lubricated and tight around my erect cock as she became more and more excited. I loved pounding it into her like no other girl I'd fucked. She would even roll over and offer me exactly what Nick did. The icing on the cake was her willingness and eagerness to taste my cock. Her lips on me were a new feeling that once I had it, wanted as often as possible, though I realized was not a universally accepted practice by my sex partners. Nick had never tried.

Miriam admitted she found my physique quite tempting. All the years of lifting and boxing left me appealing in that way and capable of going quite a while when bedding a sexual athlete like her. We were a good match, having a go as often as we could make room for it.

I returned to my room one night after a long evening of poking Miriam every which way. I needed to relax and was desperate to get some studying done before bed.

I found Nick had arrived and was waiting there for me. I was polite at first but also honest with him I needed some quiet time and he'd have to leave. Nick slipped his arms around me and gave an extra long hug. I grew short with him and explained I really needed him to go but without much effect. He tried to draw me closer and buried his face into my neck. I was suddenly angry. I blew up at him telling him I was done. "I can't do this anymore, Nick." But the thing was, I could have done it more. I could have kept picking him up in my arms and squeezing so tight just to hear him pretend to plead for mercy, to let him go and feel him collapse against me, wrapping his legs and arms tightly around. I could have kept on caressing his beautiful jawline leaning down to kiss is lovely lips. I could have kept on fucking his cute little ass. I could have happily slept next to him many nights to come.

But Nick wouldn't let go of me then. I yelled for him to get the hell out of my place, that I was sick of it. Then I went for a piss. I was smart enough to realize by the time I'd finished what a shit I'd been, and came back to apologize. He'd gone. I ran outside but couldn't find him.

That's not the kind of story to tell my wife, how I dumped on the dearest boy you could ever hope to meet, when Nick had just arrived to share how his parents had increased the pressure on him, given him a small amount of cash and turned him out of their house. He just needed me to console him for a bit. How fucking hard would that have been? Helen, I sent my poor Nicky away, I could say. He was the only thing that ever came close to how I love you, and I shit on him, Helen. What do you think about that?

Helen came back with another tray. "So let's hear about your Nick!"

"Well…..Nick was a special friend to me that I loved a lot."

"I'm not surprised you say that."


"Well, at the reception, Ian, Julian, Stanley and Colin all asked about Nick, whether he was coming. I knew he must have been important to you."

"You see I had a falling out with Nick that was my fault. I never did the right thing after. Life got in the way. And yet now, I regret it terribly."

"We try to do right by our friends, but sometimes we fail. John it sounds like most of the time you've done right."

"I've tried. I just didn't get this one right, and this one counted more."

Julian's Flat

I called Julian to see if he'd heard from Nick after I dumped on him, and he had. Julian immediately made space for him as Ian had cleared out and left for Asia. Nick was sleeping, or at least Julian said so. I'd have to call another time.

I eventually resorted to waiting outside Julian's flat to see Nick. When he showed up, he was dressed up in cottons and wools, back from some play. He looked romantically delicious. I wanted to crush him against me. I ran up to him. He was a bit surprised of course. Nick accepted my apology. I gave him money and told him to call me when he needed more. But I learned he wouldn't be calling me again, that he was leaving for America, to follow the great seer to the middle part of the country. I questioned what sense that made, and recommended he wait. I wanted to talk to him about it. I wanted my parents to have a chance to see him. I wanted this. I wanted that. How ridiculous I must have sounded! Nick was pleasant about it, but just like the night I sent him away, I was being sent away now, not being invited inside, not able to kiss him one more time, hold his naked body next to me, feel my cock slip into his tight hole. "It's not really my flat John. We weren't expecting anyone tonight."

"I see Nick. Of course."

So all that was left was our good-byes. I shook Nick's hand, then pulled him to me and kissed him on the cheek. That was it.

About a year later I heard from Julian that Nick had come back and was staying temporarily at his flat again and to give a call if I planned to be in touch, how Nick might appreciate that.

I was in the middle of final exams and wasn't finding a workable schedule to get over there, but planned to call back in the next few days. In the end, over a week had gone past. I felt foolish calling then, but in the back of my mind I knew how much I wanted to see Nick again, that at some point I certainly would. Continuing to put it off wouldn't help. My boy was back.

Julian seemed upset when I called, how I'd taken my sweet time about it, and I'd better hurry. I got there later the next day. Julian opened the door. He had a serious look on his face. 'You've missed him. He's gone John."

I didn't want to believe it. I missed him how? Back at his parents? "Where can I find him?"

"He's with a friend and they plan on heading to American, Nick."

"What do you mean?"

"This fellow came….an American….with his little son. They came looking for Nick. I felt uncomfortable when this stranger just showed up here. But he was very insistent, John. His boy was tired. This man kept imploring me to let them wait for Nick, how he would cause no trouble, that they'd come all the way from where Nick was in America and they just wanted to see him, how they had sent Nick a letter they were coming.

The little boy ran to Nick when he arrived. Nick picked him up, and hugged and kissed him. I haven't seen Nick smile like that since…..Julian stopped and looked at me...since you and Nick had your falling out up at college. So then this boy's father approached Nick and reached for his boy with one arm and put his other arm around Nick. The way he looked at Nick and held him so close. I'd never seen two men hold each other like that before. So ardant. I wanted to turn away. I would have been repulsed except it was our Nicky. And I could tell what it was. The way he looked at Nick. It was love. In a way it made me uncomfortable but also made me jealous, a love like that. Then the man set the boy back down and put both arms around Nick and whispered things in his ear. Nick closed his eyes and listed to it all. I'm not sure what they talked about but it was something Nick must have wanted to hear. And finally the man held Nick's face and tenderly began kissing Nick on his mouth, in a way that seemed they were kissing for the first time, and just testing the waters. That went on and on. I could tell Nick was impressed by all of it. This man was the reason Nick had left America, but somehow he was able to set everything right with Nick right here in my flat. So Nick is leaving. This big, muscular American with his Prince Valiant looks came in here and swept Nick off his feet. They're heading back to America, John."

"Where are they now?"

"I don't know. The boy wanted to visit castles. When I see them I'll tell Nick you were here in case he needs to get in touch."

"Yes please have him call."

The back of my throat was so hot that it hurt. I had an ache in my chest. I sat on the curb in front of Julian's flat. I lost my Nick again. I thought about all the years. All we'd done. Shining the torch on him in my bed. Holding hands in the dark, inside the music building storeroom. How he'd punched out that older boy. How he cried that first time I fucked him. And then he agreed to it again the next time we were together.

I reached into my back pocket as my eyes flooded.


During the wedding ceremony the minister said something about not letting passion overtake reason, and after all the years of regret, it hit me that's what I had done and really was why Nick wasn't my best man at my wedding. I knew I'd never want that kind of mistake with my sweet Helen. If there is a reason for pain, I guess one could say this was it. I still hurt over it when I thought of Nick, but with Helen at least, the joy never stopped.

Helen poured the last of the tea. "John remember what Marylou said about memories, how they can help us learn. They have purposes. But that doesn't mean we should carry a torch forever. The past is the past. People try to move on. They can write poems and letters to serve some cathartic purpose, maybe resolve some transgression.

"Helen have I been good for you?"

"You still are John. How many our age are still...well...satisfied physically. We've had our sweet children. You provided for our children and grandchildren. You are the man every woman wishes to spend their life with."

"Helen, it's just how special Nick was is all."

"But John there is something I don't think you realized enough, something I see in the black and white picture, and what I heard at the wedding from your classmates, how much Nick treasured you of course, but also how much everyone at Wardlow did. You were a prized friend John."

Helen looked deeper in the box and pulled out the World's Fair yo yo.

"Ah, look at this John. From the World's Fair Here you go!"

I carefully cradled the deluxe yo yo in my hand. I couldn't remember the last time I played with it, but likely not since the last time Nick and I had them out. I thought back to us standing outside the music building with Mr. Frantz old auto plate in the window, wearing our school uniforms, a coat and tie. Nick practicing his skin the cat, walk the dog and so on. I'd be struggling with the basics, Nick returning to the catch and throw, patiently demonstrating, smiling at me how it was perfectly fine sticking to the basics, then Nick going back to the forward pass, his other hand over his eyes. I wondered if he still had his deluxe World's Fair yo yo and velour carrying bag with the Unisphere pattern. I told myself he certainly must. And whenever he ran across it he would think of me wouldn't he? What a brilliant boy he was and a fine man he became. Helen continued digging through the box, carefully pulling out one artifact after the other. My eyes wandered from the fireplace up to the ceiling and all the way over to corner of the room. I gripped the yo yo a bit harder. My eyes defocused, my chest slowly rising and falling mouth dropped slightly open…..


This story is part of the 2017 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Black and White Boys?". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 11 March to 1 April 2017 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the competition home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

Black and White Boys

1 Colin Bright, 2. Algy Kennedy, 3. Nigel Otway, 4. William Carter, 5. Dick Aldridge, 6. Stanley Emerson, 7. Ian Bartlett, 8. John Kimbolton, 9. Nick Park -hidden- 10. Julian Trask.

Please rate Nick Park with the impressions it left you with

Either while reading this story, or afterwards, I found it to be/had/made me (Tick all that apply)

An emotional read
Written with rhythm and pace
Thought provoking
Well laid out (paragraphs etc)
Technically well written
Written with good use of grammar and syntax (this does not mean pedantic use)
Easy to read
It invited me in
I could not put it down
Cheering (made me happy)
I identified with at least one of the characters
It felt like it was about me. I know it wasn't, but it felt like it
The plot was tough to read. (a tough [good] experience, not hard to read)
Not just prose, but almost a 'tone poem'
There could be spelling/grammar/punctuation improvements
Interpreted the picture well

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[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address (it goes directly to your clipboard without having the courtesy of mentioning that to you) to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. Note: If the email address pastes or arrives with %40 in the middle, replace that weird set of characters with an @ sign.]

* Some browsers may require a right click instead