With hindsight my little tantrum, or 'hissy fit' as Tony likes to call it, over the incident with my ball was worth it as we now realise we are more than just good friends. Mind you it was worth it just for that make up, or should that be make out, session we had with the samosas.
There are a few days before school begins again and back to uniforms instead of our usual sweat pants and tees. Mum is still making sure I am in the habit of getting up early. Tony agrees with her and not just because I have told him that is the safest thing to do. I think he actually understands her logic. I wish I did. Tony has decided to get up early as well so we now have a standing arrangement to meet in the park for a kick-about first thing. Partly, it's our cunning plan to get us out the house before our 'rents can think of chores to give us. A plan that doesn't always work. I also have to fit in my morning lesson on Indian cuisine with Raj and Naveem's mother at the corner shop.
When we are in the park we often see Mervyn Sproat in his shorts doing his morning jog. Tony laughed when I told him I had been busted that day when I was checking out Mervyn. Tony does agree he would be worth a second look if we were his age.
One morning, Tony and I are enjoying a hug as we meet up, when Brussels, to give Mr Sproat his totally original nickname (Sproat - Sprout - Brussels. Keep up!), jogs by. He gives us what Tony describes a lascivious grin. Tony likes big words. I think I know what he means but I must look it up.
We are running late one day and are still in the park when Paul arrives.
"Hi guys!" he says, "I haven't seen you around much. Are you back together?"
"Yeah, solid!" Tony and I chorus as we give each other a one-armed hug.
"Where have you been then?"
I explain our strategy of getting up and out early, and Tony persuades Paul he should join us by reminding him he was often late in to school and was even known to fall asleep in the first lesson.
At first Paul arrives half asleep, but after a couple of days the new regime must be working as he is more awake. Whatever state he is in our kick-about always seems to end in a wrestling session and Paul taking time out in the bushes while Tony and I stand on watch. Clearly Paul is not yet getting up early enough to take care of things before he comes to the park. Somehow I don't see him being any better at dealing with his problem when school starts again.
I know Brussels sometimes sees us wrestling. I think he knows what Paul is up to as we get one of those grins when he spots us on guard duty, Paul's blonde head just visible through the greenery behind us.
The new school year begins, like any term, with the usual assembly. The Head gives his address welcoming us all back and assuring the new kids that we are all one happy family. That gets a few cynical smiles from some us older hands although we know it could be worse. It certainly was before Mel's friend Virginia sorted out Roger 'Presscock' Prescott, the worst of the seniors. Now Tony and I have each other's backs and Mel is always there for us.
It looks as though Paul is going to be a good friend too. He knows we won't embarrass him and he can't embarrass us over his little problem. Well not so little. Although Paul looks about the same height as me, in spite of being nearly a year older, Tony and I both know he is a big boy where it counts. We know what we have felt when wrestling and we won't deny we have copped a look when Paul has been in the bushes.
The Head drones on with some basic administrative stuff before dismissing us. At least he seems in a good mood. Later the word in the corridors is that he has scrounged some extra funding from somewhere. That would explain the good mood.
We check our schedules. We have got Mr Sproat for PE. We also have him for some sort of drama group. Tony gets an exemption from that because he plays the guitar. He has to do music group instead.
Brussels has pinned a notice on the board. Our first class is to be held in the gym, (where else?) but we have to bring a towel and to be in shorts and vests, not sweat pants and tee. What is that about? We have always been allowed to play football in sweat pants before.
We will find out soon enough.
Our first PE class of term always starts with us in the changing room having our height and weight recorded. With that formality out of the way Mr Sproat looks round our group of bare-kneed boys.
"Hello everybody." he says. "You will be wondering why I have asked you all to turn up in shorts. Well, we have managed to get a small grant to enable us to offer something other than the usual skins versus shirts football. We have always been aware that not everyone is good at team games, never mind those who don't enjoy them."
Paul, Tony and I are standing together and smile at that first bit. We might enjoy kicking a ball around but that doesn't mean we are any good at football. Next to us, a boy known as Donny blushes at the second bit. We nod encouragingly in his direction. The kid is hopeless at football, so hopeless that he never gets to touch the ball, and hates the whole idea. He would sooner be running or swimming.
Brussels continues: "So we thought you might like to try wrestling! As with any sport I expect some of you will show a natural ability..."
Why is he looking at the three of us?
"...and the rest will soon get to grips with it." He smiles as he waits for the groans to die down.
"I found it was very popular in schools in the States when I was there on placement during my training. Contrary to what you might think, the biggest guy doesn't necessarily win, he just falls the hardest. Skill is more important than brute strength.
"I still have my contacts in the States and I have been in touch with the British Wrestling Association who are very supportive. For those that are interested their website has some useful information and quotes from students and teachers. I particularly liked the comment of one teacher, I quote: 'Wrestling has been a life changing experience for many pupils, particularly for those with challenging behaviour. It's taught discipline, respect and has allowed them to believe that they can succeed.'. Not that I think we have anybody with challenging behaviour do we?"
At that, Mr Sproat smiles and looks round the room. I swear his eyes stayed longest on me!
"I also said you should bring towels. You are too old not to shower after exercise. My colleagues do not want to teach to the smell of sweaty adolescents and I don't want their complaints. So you will shower and I will be there to make sure. Don't worry, you will only be embarrassed the first time!
"Two other things. One: if anyone gets an erection, it doesn't mean they are gay and fancy you, it's just a spontaneous demonstration that things are in working order and, two, something you won't have been taught in biology, size is less important than what you can do with it. So I don't want to hear any disparaging remarks on either count."
Tony whispers to me that that was more explicit than we normally get from our teachers!
"Finally, before we go out and get started," Brussels says, "We are using the far end of the gym as the girls are also trying out wrestling this end."
I nudge Tony and nod in Paul's direction, whispering; "If Susie is there, I can think of at least one erection in the shower, if he can hold off that long."
We parade past the girls. Judging by the looks we are getting some of them haven't seen a boy's legs since kindergarten. Of course the looking is not one way. Although I am more interested in Tony, I can see some of the girls are flatter in the boob area than usual. They must be wearing sports bras to keep things under control. Tony says he saw Mel looking at them when his dad took him to buy a jockstrap - we boys have to keep our bits under control as well. I'm wearing my speedos under my shorts.
Sir explains the basic rules and how most matches are won by scoring points and not a pin-down or fall as might be expected. Yours truly gets picked as his demonstration partner. He is showing some moves and at one stage has his arm between my legs.
"Oi, Sir! No groping. That's reserved for someone else!" I hiss at him.
"Do I need to guess? Now hold this pose for a minute." he whispers back before addressing the class a whole using the pose as a teaching point on what is and what is not acceptable.
Later he splits us up into groups of four. We work it so that Paul and Donny are with Tony and me. We are to take it in turns to wrestle each other, each bout will only last a minute or two, and the pair not wrestling are to watch, try to judge and make sure nobody is deliberately hurting their opponent.
Donny and Paul are on first. Donny seems to be winning when suddenly he blushes and the fight goes out of him. I can see why. Donny has got Paul in that hold Brussels was demonstrating with me. Paul's shorts are a bit baggy and have ridden up and Donny's arm has made contact with bare flesh. At least Tony and I are blocking the view from the front, but if any of the girls are looking this way, they will see more leg than they bargained for. We award the win to Donny.
Tony and I are up next and we can hear Paul apologising to Donny. What I can see as they stand over us confirms that Paul is not wearing anything under his shorts. The view distracts me enough for Tony to pin me down. That's my excuse anyway. I tell him to let go before the idea of being pinned down by my boyfriend leads to anything inappropriate.
Tony stays on the mat for his round with Donny and I get a chance to talk to Paul.
"Hasn't your dad told you to wear a jock or something under your shorts?" I ask.
"No. He couldn't. He is away working on a contract."
"I suppose your mum would be too embarrassed to mention it even if she thought of it. You do know you've had everything hanging out on full view?"
"Oh shit, Have I? I thought it was just Donny who could tell what had happened."
"Nah. Tony and I could see, but we think we were blocking everyone else's view."
"Gawd, I hope so."
Donny comes off the mat with another win and a grin on his face.
"This is much more fun than football, at least I am getting some action!"
"More than I am." Grouses Paul as he looks across towards Susie at the other end of the gym.
I don't think he means the wrestling.
It's now my turn with Paul and I can tell he is getting plenty of exposure. Those shorts are just too baggy not to have anything on underneath. Grappling with me with thoughts of Susie in his head soon lets me know he is still not getting up early enough in the morning to take care of things before school.
"I'll have to let you win." he whispers "Pin me down then take your time getting up, so I can go down."
As I get up, he rolls face down, before slowly rising onto his hands and knees. Tony, Donny and I take up positions to screen Paul if he has still not calmed down when he stands up.
If he got away with his bits hanging out in his first bout, he hasn't this time. Raj and Naveem are in the group on the mat next to us and we can tell they must have seen something by their smiles.
Mr Sproat must have seen too. He is wearing a grin and is headed our way. Except Miss Crawley, the girls' games mistress, heads him off. She says something to him which makes him lose the grin. Oh Dear! It looks like whatever was on show could be seen at the girls' end of the gym.
"Paul! You need something under those shorts! Why aren't you wearing a support?" Brussels asks when he comes over to us.
"A support, Sir?"
"Yes. A jockstrap, if you want me to be blunt about it!"
"I haven't got one, Sir."
"Well, you had better go and put your underpants on. I hope you wear briefs, not boxers. You would probably hang out of boxers."
"I haven't brought any, Sir. I was late getting up so I didn't have time to find any in my room."
I am not surprised Brussels rolls his eyes at Paul's remark.
"It's not your day is it Paul?" He turns to me. "You had better lend him yours, assuming you have any. You will have to wear your speedos for the rest of the day. Go to the changing room and get him sorted."
Paul and I have to walk past the girls. I can feel them looking at us and I hear a giggle or two.
I get my briefs and hand them to Paul.
"Here you are. Clean on this morning." This is too good an opportunity so I have to say something more. "I suppose this is the closest I can expect to being in your pants?"
He swats me round the head with my underpants.
"You've got Tony, haven't you?" He pauses to put my briefs on under his shorts before continuing. "Mind you if I don't get anywhere with Susie soon, I might be more than tempted to take you up on your offer."
He is having a bad day, so I can't bring myself to make it worse by telling him he is wasting his time chasing after Susie. As far as I know she has never agreed to got out with him, and he has totally blown any chance with this morning's display. I saw her deliberately turn her back on him as we were walking past.
"You know where to find us."
"Us?" he asks.
"You don't expect me to leave Tony out do you?"
For good measure I blow him a kiss. I get the expected hand signal and we head back out past the girls to finish our wrestling sessions.
Donny has definitely got the idea as he beats me to win three out of three. I don't think we have ever seen him as happy in a PE session before.
Paul manages to beat Tony. Paul says my underpants are a bit small for him but at least they kept everything under control when his usual problem arose.
Before he sends us to the showers, Mr Sproat says the session was successful in spite of one or two incidents. Paul colours up, but Brussels pointedly looks at a couple of the other boys. Very diplomatic says Tony. Did we all enjoy the session? Nobody says no. Brussels says we will have another couple of sessions and, depending on the level of interest either carry on or set up an after school club for those who want to carry on wrestling.
As we get undressed for the shower, Paul puts my briefs in his bag.
"I'll get them washed before I give you them back"
"Oh. Ok." I say, resisting the temptation to ask for them back so that I can sniff them. That would gross him out.
Paul's problem stands up again when he is in the shower. Some wag tries to be funny and asks if Paul is queer. Time to defend my friend and get a rise out if him (to use an expression my dad uses) at the same time. I turn and face the offender.
"Nah! You'll have to look for someone else. He's not gay. He just forgot to have a wank this morning." Success: two red faces!
I can see that Brussels has been watching the exchange, ready to step in if necessary. He smiles at us as Paul and I walk past him to get dried off and dressed. Tony and Donny soon join us.
"I'm having a party Sunday afternoon next week. It's my birthday and you two are invited." Paul says, pointing at the other two. He then looks at me "I'm not sure about you, after your comment in the shower." Thankfully I can see he is joking.
"I was right though, wasn't I?"
"Perhaps you won't forget in future." I say.
"And don't forget your support in future either!" A voice says from behind me. It's Brussels. He must have heard us talking and I bet he guessed what I meant. Poor Paul looks as though he wants to fall through the floor. When he has recovered enough we leave for our next class and as we do, we get a rather odd look from Mr Sproat.
The first chance I get to catch up with Tony on his own is at my house after school. We have a little private display of affection and then settle into a cuddle when I tell him about how frustrated Paul is getting, not having a girlfriend and not likely to get one judging by Susie's reaction this morning.
"When I made a joke about me getting in his pants, he said if things didn't improve he might take me up on the offer." I say to Tony.
"You're not thinking of going with him are you?" Tony sounds a bit hurt, so as I still have my arms around him I tighten my hug.
"Of course not!" I say. Then I think about what else I said to Paul and break into a giggle.
"I did tell him, he knows where to find us!"
"That's what he said! Yes, us. I'm not going to do anything without your participation."
"Not sure I fancy a threesome." Tony's voice trails off, as though that decision is not final, and I can see he is thinking about something. Then he gets that grin on his face, the one I can't resist.
"Mind you Paul is rather cute. I could go for him if I wasn't with you." he says.
"My thoughts, exactly." I reply.
We change our positions so that I have my head in Tony's lap.
"Did Paul give you your briefs back?" he asks.
"Nah. He said he would take them home and get them washed."
"Pity, we could have had a sniff."
"That's gross!" I say, not wishing to admit I had the same idea myself. I turn my head and bury my nose in Tony's crotch.
"The only knickers I want to sniff are yours." I mumble into his flies. I get a swat round the head for that and told not to be such a pillock.
We do settle down to do our homework, but not before we have decided what we would say to Paul if he ever did come for our help with his problem.
Tony is about to go home, when I think of something that bothered me earlier.
"Did you see that look on Mr Sproat's face as we left the gym?" I ask him.
"Yeah. Odd. A bit like the grin we got from him that time he caught us having a hug in the park but not the same though."
I had not made that connection. Perhaps we can get a better idea of what it means if he gives us the same look next time.
There are five of us at our lunch table the next day. Mel and Virginia are sitting either side of Paul, opposite Tony and me. Paul is giving us a bit more detail of what should be a fun party. Because his dad is away his parents do spoil him a bit. They have got one of those big above ground pools put up for him in the garden. I thought that would cost a bit but Paul said not. He did say it cost almost as much for the sand and other stuff and workmen to prepare the ground so that the liner did not get damaged. So as well as the usual food and drink there will be swimming. Paul generously says we are not to bring presents, his parents have bought him more than enough. Coming to his party will be our presents to him.
That is a nice thought, but it seems a bit unfair not to acknowledge him somehow. I get an idea. We didn't do anything special for my birthday a couple of months ago so I will try and persuade the 'rents to take Paul to the new Indian Restaurant in town.
Paul asks Mel and Virginia if they will come to the party and they agree. Unfortunately he forgets the two girls' habit of plain speaking and asks them if he should invite Susie. Mel lands the first blow.
"You've got no chance. Susie said you had been trying to get her attention. Yesterday's display got her attention alright. Her comment to me was: 'He can forget it if he thinks he is coming anywhere near me with that thing!', and she wasn't the only one."
Poor Paul looks at Tony and me for support but we can only shake our heads in agreement with Mel. Virginia, as usual, goes for the kill.
"Paul, you know, the best thing you can do is go home and have a wank."
Ouch! That hurt and it was not even aimed at me.
"Alright." she continues, "You think I am being a bitch, but I'm making a serious point here. After I dumped Roger, his grades improved. He stopped wasting his time chasing after me and got on with some work. Miss Rutherford even told me it was the best thing I ever did for him as he was heading to fail all his courses. So knuckle down and do some work, it will be a better long term investment than chasing girls. Later, if you make enough money it will be them chasing you!"
Mel and Virginia both put an arm around Paul to hug him from either side. They both give him a kiss on the cheek.
"We are sorry to be so hard with you," says Virginia, "but it is the only way to make sure the message is sinks in."
She then huddles us all in so we are less likely to be overheard.
"And if D-I-Y gets boring, I'm sure these two gay boys will be happy to help you out, no strings attached."
At least our red faces get a bit of a smile from Paul.
"Oi, don't Out us. We're not hiding it, but we don't want to make a thing of it either." I grumble at Virginia, "Are we that obvious?"
"Not really," she says, "but watch this."
She moves round to be next to Tony and puckers up as if to kiss him. Where he was red a few seconds ago, he is now deathly white. Virginia moves back to Paul saying "I rest my case" as she sits down.
Judging by his giggles Paul has recovered from the girls' blows.
I try to persuade the parents to take Paul and me to the Indian. Surprisingly dad has what is a better idea. I can take Paul and Tony on our own. Something about old enough and sufficiently sensible to be allowed out unsupervised. He did say that meant he wouldn't be there to buy us a celebratory drink with our meal the way his dad had done when he was my age. When I mentioned that to mum she said he had got his facts wrong. The licensing laws changed about the time I was born and he can't buy me a beer in a restaurant until I am 16. In this case they were both wrong. When dad rang up to book for us for the Saturday before the party, he was told the license had not been approved yet so they were not able to sell alcohol at all. I could take a bottle if I was over eighteen.
The week flies by and it is PE day again. I have changed into my speedos when Paul comes over, looking worried.
"What's the problem?" I ask.
"Brussels caught me pulling my shorts over my boxers. He told me boxers aren't sufficiently supporting to hold everything in place. Can I borrow your underpants again?"
"I'm not sure. You haven't given me back the pair from last week yet."
"Haven't I? Er. I wonder if they are still in my bag."
Paul wanders off to search through his bag. A minute or so later I see him hold up my briefs in triumph. I bet they are gross, festering in his bag all week, but no matter how bad they are I decide I want them back after this class.
The wrestling seems to be going well, although when I find Paul is listed to fight Tony straight after me, I wonder if I am still going to want to take my briefs home unwashed. Paul assures me it will be alright, he has taken care of things this morning.
At the end of the session Mr Sproat announces that we will do wrestling again the next week and then we can decide if we want to continue with it in class or as a school club. He did say a club might be a good idea as it should give us a bigger pool of sparring partners with the kids from other years.
We hit the showers with less embarrassment over showing it all. There are a few ribald remarks, but nothing nasty, when a couple of the lads pop boners. No. Paul wasn't one of them. Of course, we all check each other out. It must be something instinctive for guys. I do notice that Mr Sproat is closely supervising the showers. Does he have the same instinct?
Brussels gives us that strange look again as Tony and I leave the changing room. Tony thinks it is a bit wistful, almost as though we have something Brussels hasn't got or can't have. We do notice the look changes, loses some softness, when he looks at Paul and some of the other guys.
Paul tells us he invited Raj and Naveem to the party, but they said they had to take their turn in the family shop on Sundays since they didn't work there in the evenings any more. I thought that odd as they always used to do evenings during school terms and days during the holidays. Paul says Nav went into a sulk when told Virginia would be at the party, and he couldn't. Raj told him to suck it up and not rock the boat - any hint of interest in girls might put their parents in the matchmaking mood again - and threatened him with those female cousins in Birmingham.
We find out why the boys are not doing evenings at the shop when we go to the restaurant with Paul on the Saturday evening. They are there waiting on. They seem much happier than when they were at the shop. I ask Raj about it when he comes to our table.
"It's great." he says, "The uncles, cousins' cousins actually, are busy doing the cooking, so when we are here we basically run the front of house. We haven't got mum and dad jumping down our throats all the time. We are good for the business too. We understand the locals better than the uncles especially on the phone, and a lot of the customers know us through school or the shop. It's going really well."
I must admit it is busy. There is a steady stream of people coming for take-away and the tables are full.
"Are you getting paid?" I ask as I know this was a sore point when they worked at the shop.
"Er, no." says Raj, obviously not happy with the situation, "Still family exemption: dad's name is on the lease and he is listed as a partner." But then Raj brightens "We get to keep all the tips, dad objected but the uncles said that was only fair. On a good day that can be worth more than the minimum wage. Dad insists we keep the proper records though. He doesn't want HMRC coming around. He says one of the Birmingham lot got caught for under declaring cash receipts in their business. HMRC had sent in a mystery shopper who watched what was going on, then did the sums. It wasn't just the VAT people. They were followed up by the Income Tax and Payroll/Minimum Wage guys. Cost them a fortune. Dad was thankful his bit of the family wasn't involved or they might have come for him as well."
Raj and Nav make a fuss of us and advise us on how to make a balanced selection of the dishes and what extras go well. The meal is excellent and we are having a good time. Nav comes over to ask if everything is alright. We thank him and tell him it has all been great. I cannot resist teasing him a bit.
"Has Virginia been in yet?" I ask.
"Yes she has. With her family. And I managed to maintain a professional attitude all the time they were here." Nav says with an air of wounded pride, that I should suggest he would be anything else but professional. Then he smiles."I didn't drool over her if that's what you mean. It was ruddy hard though."
"I'll bet it was!" I say.
"Yup! But all under control. Not like some people." He looks at Paul. "Raj said he didn't want me making an exhibition of myself and went on line and bought me a dancer's jock. Much more controlling than a normal sports model. He makes me wear it when working here. I definitely needed it the night Virginia came in."
With the thought of Virginia Nav gets a far away look.
"Do you think I would stand a chance if I asked her out?"he asks.
"Nah," says Paul, "She would probably tell you to go home and have a wank, like she did me!"
Well, it's Paul's story to tell.
Dad has given me some cash to pay and told me one way to avoid a group such as mine arguing over the bill is to go to the loo then call at the desk on the way back. It is a good job I do. It's not Paul and Tony arguing over the bill, but Raj and Naveem. They don't want me to pay as a thank you for giving Raj the idea for the business. I am about to concede defeat, when I realise they are doing me out of the pleasure of giving to my guests. Put that way they back down gracefully and I pay including a hefty tip for good service. I don't tell them it is dad's money.
I go back to our table and we are getting ready to leave when Raj comes over, apologises to Paul and Tony and asks me to come with him into the kitchen to meet the uncles.
They are all over me, holding my hands, thanking me for getting them the restaurant when the rest of their family hardly talk to them, saying I can have free meals whenever. Eventually they calm down enough to let go of my hands and we agree that I can call in after school anytime I want for some samosas and to come to the back door if they haven't yet opened the front. I make a mental note to be sure I pay them at least cost price if I do call for a snack.
I get dragged over to the door into the restaurant and we look out through a little window across to where Tony and Paul are waiting.
"Is that your boyfriend? The cute one with the dark hair?" asks one of the uncles.
"Yes." I mumble. Does everybody know?
"Aah." the other uncle sighs."He's the one who came for the snacks the first day we opened. Such a nice boy. You're so lucky. Every one round here seems so accepting."
It is then I notice that the uncles are holding hands. Maybe they are like us. That might explain why the rest of their family don't talk to them.
Sunday is a nice day. Really warm for the time of year. It means we will be able to enjoy the pool at Paul's party.
The gang have all arrived when Tony and I get there. We got delayed in his room when I called for Tony on the way to Paul's. We claim it is because Tony couldn't find his digital camera. Paul tells us everything is set up outside: tables for the food, the pool, and a couple of old mattresses to bounce around on. He shows us where to get changed into our speedos.
"You don't want to borrow my briefs again?" I ask when I see he is in those revealing shorts. I hope he isn't going to go in the pool wearing those.
"No, I can change now everyone is here and I don't have to open the door any more."
We change and are just heading out to the pool when we hear Paul's mum call out that he has another visitor. Being nosey we hang around and see that it is Mr Sproat. What is he doing here?
"Hi, Paul. I hope you are having a good day. I've brought something for you to try on." he says as he hands a package to Paul. "It should be the right size and hopefully will stop things hanging out."
Paul thanks him but is a bit embarrassed that a teacher has apparently turned up not only to wish him 'Happy Birthday' but to bring him a present as well.
Paul's mum chivvies him out to get changed and asks us to take Mr Sproat through to the pool.
"It's alright. You will understand when Paul comes out." he says when he sees the puzzled look on our faces.
Paul soon arrives to amused cat calls and whistles from those nearest. He wearing what look like a pair of tight fitting boxers held up by over the shoulder straps like my grandads' braces but all one piece. Although he blushes at his reception, Paul gives us a twirl so we can see what it is like all round. He says it is very comfortable and gives him a sense of security as the whole thing is made of stretchy lycra and grips round the top of his legs. No chance of bits hanging out.
Brussels calls for quiet and explains it is a type of wrestling leotard or singlet.
"Before you all think I am showing favouritism towards Paul," he tells us, "they only arrived yesterday. They are a present from the school I was at in the States. They have changed the style of singlet they use to one with higher side panels showing less flesh and harder to accidentally get a foul called for pulling on your opponents clothing.
"They have very generously said we can have their stocks of the old design for free although I have had to pay for shipping. There should be enough for all those who continue with wrestling to have one. I will hand them out next week to anyone who signs up to carry on.
"I just dug one out for Paul to demonstrate as Paul's mother had asked me to come round and act as life guard for the pool as Paul's father is not able to be here."
Tony tells me he suspects Paul's mother also hopes Brussels' presence will stop us all getting too excited and doing stupid things, especially anything that might damage the pool.
Brussels has come prepared and strips down to his shorts. Paul and I have a giggle trying to guess if he is 'supported' under the shorts. Tony has wandered off to take some pictures.
Somebody asks about the accidental clothing foul, so Brussels calls Paul over and asks him to kneel with his elbows on one of the mattresses.
"It's easy to to get your arm caught in the straps. See!" Brussels shows us by slipping his hand and arm under the backstrap of Paul's singlet.
"If you then try and pull away you will probably drag on the singlet and upset your opponent's balance giving you unfair advantage. You could even lift your opponent if, for some reason, he is slow getting up off the mat - like this." He grabs the strap with both hands and pulls up. Although the lycra stretches, Paul looks worried that he is about to be carried off like a giant handbag. Before Brussels lets go, I hear the soft click of Tony's camera.
Nobody has gone in the pool yet. They have all been waiting for Paul to go first, but he has been kept busy greeting people and modelling the singlet.
Donny is itching to get in the pool as he loves swimming. While Paul is still on the mat after his uplifting experience, Donny nudges me and whispers.
"On my call, you get one side, I'll get the other, we'll grab him and launch him into the pool."
I am not given the chance to object before he shouts "NOW!"
We grab Paul and, like weightlifters, hoist him as high as we can. Donny starts a chant of 'Pool, Pool, Pool.' as we walk that way. Paul has the sense not to struggle, if he did we would probably drop him.
We are holding Paul high enough that we can launch him into the pool in a shallow dive without him touching the sides, which we have been told to keep off. We have to get in using special ladders.
As soon as we let Paul go, Donny is off over the ladders. He is in the pool almost as soon as Paul surfaces from his dive. He swims over and gives Paul a hug.
"I'm sorry Paul." he says,"I just couldn't wait any longer." With that he swims off, totally at home in the water.
I turn and see that Mr Sproat has been watching, ready to step in if it looked as though we were going to drop Paul or damage the pool.
Everybody has a great time. Even Mr Sproat seemed to be enjoying it.
As things start to wind down we thank Paul and his mum then go back to Tony's house. He wants to download the pictures he has taken. There are some good ones of everybody there.Tony says he will select the best and print them off as an album for Paul. He says he will probably do a double page spread of the one of Donny and me about to launch Paul into the pool with a bemused Mr Sproat looking on.
The one we like but are not sure if it should be included in the album is the one of Paul being lifted by Brussels by the back of his singlet. It will get printed off though. Tony and I agree that it is worth studying closely. We've already noticed that Paul wasn't wearing anything under the singlet and hasn't been wearing anything while sunbathing either - no tan line! As for those fine blonde hairs showing up against his tanned back... We close the picture down before we get too into it. We've got school in the morning.
With that thought in mind Tony asks if I noticed that Mr Sproat always seemed to be looking at the boys and not paying the girls much attention. Virginia didn't catch his eye and even we can see she is eye-catching, especially in that bikini she was wearing. I have to agree. Maybe Brussels is like us, but hasn't got a partner and that look we get is sort of guilty desire for the unobtainable. As a teacher he cannot risk getting involved with his pupils even if they were of legal age. That would be why he was so careful about explaining why he was at the party today.
I give Tony a goodnight hug and go home.
The school term plods on and from the talk between classes it seems some of the other guys have guessed Mervyn Sproat is more interested in the boys than the girls. Although he might supervise the changing room a little more closely than strictly necessary, he has never done anything inappropriate. The guys are not really worried if he is perving on them, they just want his cover blown so he knows we know.
They have decided that with Brussels little talk about erections in the showers at the beginning of term they can make the punishment fit the crime with a synchronised display next time he shows a little too much interest.
Tony and I have a feeling we ought to be defending him as a fellow gay, but, hey, he is a teacher and they are always fair game. Aren't they?
© pedro 2017, All rights reserved
This story is part of the 2017 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Just Hangin'". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 30 November to 21 December 2017 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated in an overall category on the challenge home page.
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