The journey back to Kai's house was a lot more comfortable. Besides themselves there were hardly any other passengers on the bus. Timmy sat on the inside of the seat near the window wondering how he would be greeted by Kai's parents and felt that it would be better when they alighted from the bus if he made an excuse and went straight home. He was grateful for being taken out and didn't want to be an embarrassment to Kai.
"Huh?" he responded, his train of thought being broken by the question.
"Why the silent treatment, Timmy?"
"I was wondering if it would be better if I go home when we get off the bus." Frowning Kai asked why. "Umm, dunno, just…" the smaller boy said, shrugging his shoulders. Getting a bit concerned Kai said
"Come on Timmy tell me. I'm not going to chew your arse off." Twisting in his seat to face his companion Timothy blurted out "Do you think your parents will like me?”
The taller of the two, although a month younger than the diminutive boy that sat beside him, laughed,
"Bloody hell, Timothy. If I like you then, I'm sure my parents will as well."
"You really like me and you're not doing all this because you feel kind of responsible for what happened to me at school?”
"If I didn't want your company, I wouldn't have asked you to accompany me to the mall or come home with me." Smiling Timothy relaxed saying
"Okay then, but I can't stay till too late, otherwise my parents won't like it."
"You can phone them from the house and ask them what time they want you back. That way you'll know when to leave."
"No, no, I can't do that. I'll just leave about four o’clock. That way I'll be home well before our evening meal."
"Okay, suit yourself, but if you phoned and they let you stay longer, then you could eat with us."
"Oh no, I can't do that. They'd get mad with me saying I'm accepting charity."
"Shit! You must be joking, Timmy. We're not dishing out charity. We're inviting you to eat with us. You leave it with me. I'll phone your parents and ask them. Then if they want, they can have a go at me."
"Oh God, Kai, don't do that," Timothy pleaded. "Please don't do it."
"Don't worry about it. You were scared to let me ask your mum to let you come out with me and you see, she didn't get annoyed at all and she didn't even tell you what time to be back."
Reluctantly Timothy had to agree to what his friend had said and he sat staring out of the window thinking what would happen when he eventually returned home. Kai, sensing the smaller boy’s mood, put an arm around his shoulder and squeezed him into his body saying
"Don't worry, Timmy. It will be okay and what's more, I'll come home with you just to see you get back all right." The smaller of the two boys, who was enjoying his first social outing, was quite impressed by the building when they arrived at Kai's house, a rather large detached property with quite a bit of land surrounding it. Pulling a key from his pocket and opening the front door, and after ushering Timothy inside and slamming the door behind them, Kai yelled
"Mum, I'm home."
"I'm in the kitchen, Kai," came the response. “Your father is in the garden shed having a cigarette. Don't know when he's going to realise that he's not fooling anybody when he says he's given it up."
"Mum, I've got Timothy with me. He's staying to dinner. We're going up to my room." There was a shout of
"Wait a minute, Kai Webster. I wish to speak to you." There were footsteps and a woman came into sight.
The last time Timothy had seen Mrs Webster was very briefly when she'd given him a lift and mostly it was the back of her head that he saw. Now face to face with her there could be no mistaking that this was the mother of the boy that stood beside him. The resemblance was so remarkable.
"Hello, Timothy," she said, smiling and walking towards them, and then turning to her son "You were supposed to be gone for half an hour. It's been two hours now, so what have you been doing all this time?”
"Umm, I went to the mall with Timmy."
"Do you realise that you’re still suspended from going out anywhere except when given permission. You were allowed to visit Timothy and then you were meant to return home. So what excuse have you got that will…” and Mrs Webster was interrupted by Timothy saying
"I think I had better go home, Mrs Webster.” Then turning to Kai he said "See you in school on Monday." He opened the front door and stepped out of the house.
"Thanks, Mum," Kai said. "You could have at least waited till Timothy had gone home before having a go at me. Now besides embarrassing me you've made Timothy feel bad."
“I'm sorry, Kai. You're right. I should have done it in private. Run outside and see if you can coax Timothy back. Tell him he's welcome to eat with us."
He was out of the door in a flash and running down the driveway. He hurdled the gate, turned left and seeing Timothy not too far away yelled Timmy. The small boy turned and saw his friend gesturing with his hand for him to return. He paused for a moment and after seeing Kai gesturing more frantically with his arm walked back towards the Webster house till he was standing beside his new found friend.
"Come on, Timmy. Mum is sorry for having a go at me in front of you," and grinning said “She'll wait till tonight before giving me a mouthful," and the two boys made their way back to the house.
Inside the house Kai's mother wasn't to be seen. So they went straight to his room. Kai made straight for the bed and crashed out onto it. Seeing Timmy still standing in the doorway, he patted the bed beside him inviting the smaller boy to join him. Sitting down beside the boy that was sprawled across the bed Timothy looked around the room.
"You've got a really nice room." Kai sitting up and resting on his elbows said
"Anything you want to do? We can watch a movie or television or go online." Timothy shrugged his shoulders. "I don't mind. Whatever you want to do is okay with me." Kai trying to get the smaller boy to open up said
"What about some music? Do you like Kid Rock?”
"Who?" Timothy said with a bewildered look on his face.
"Okay, you haven't heard of him. So who do you like?"
"I don't know any names of singers. I only listen to music when my parents put the television or CDs on."
"Why can't you put on your own music?"
"Haven't got anything of my own and anyway I'm not allowed to touch any of the remote controls unless my parents tell me to."
"So you mean to say you don't know any songs?"
"Yes I do. I memorise a few songs I like that my mum plays. She plays music every day and mostly the same songs."
"So who are the artists then?"
"I don't know. I'm not allowed to touch the CDs, but I can hear the music when she plays it because she turns the volume up quite loud."
"Okay then, hum or sing a number that your mum plays and I'll see if I've got it."
The small boy fidgeted. “You're not going to laugh, are you?”
"I promise, Timmy, no laughing."
Timothy cleared his throat and the next instant Kai's jaw hit the floor as the boy's voice engulfed him and he heard the lyrics and tune of Stardust for the first time in his life. As the song ended there was the sound of clapping from the door and the boys cast their eyes toward the sound to see Kai's mother standing in the doorway smiling.
"That was absolutely wonderful, Timothy. Where did you learn the song? It's a very old one?"
"My mum plays it quite often. That's how I learnt it."
"What's the name of the song, Mum, and who sings it?" Kai asked.
"It's called Stardust and just about everybody has recorded it. It was still very popular right up till the early seventies and then sort of died off. Actually I only came up to ask Timothy if he eats spaghetti bolognese as that's what I've cooked for the evening meal."
"Yes, that's fine, Mrs Webster, but I'll have to ask my parents if I can stay."
"All right, Timothy. If you are staying, you and Kai can eat whenever you want to. Now I must be off to wash up the dishes.” And she left the two boys to themselves.
Kai quickly went to the door shutting it, then made his way over to Timothy who was still standing in the middle of the room.
"God, you gave me goose bumps when you sang that song.”
"Why? Didn't you like it?"
"Like it? You were brilliant. You sing that song to any girl and she’ll fall into your arms." Timothy was silent, just looking at the boy that had befriended him. Kai, feeling awkward as Timothy continued to stare at him, drew closer to the boy till their bodies were almost touching and said
"What's wrong?" Timothy moved away, sat on the bed with his head bowed and said
"I suppose I'd better tell you now so you can make up your mind whether you still want my company. I'm not attracted to girls, never have been. So if you want me to leave I don't blame you. I should have told you earlier before you invited me home." Lifting his head and seeing the look of disbelief on Kai's face he stood up. "Okay, I'll go home. Thank your mother for the offer of dinner and just tell her my parents wouldn't allow me to stay or the truth whichever suits you."
He made his way out of the room and downstairs followed by a quiet Kai. At the front door he turned to the silent boy standing behind him.
"Thanks for taking me out. See you sometime," and Timothy Clarkson's one day of socialising was at an end as he made his way home.
"Where's Timothy?" Kai's mother asked as she saw her son making his way back from the front door.
"He had to go home. His parents wouldn't allow him to stay for dinner."
"What's the problem?" Elizabeth Webster asked noticing the worried look on her son's face. “Anything I can do to help?"
"He's a queer, Mum. That's the real reason he went home. I just didn't know how to react when he told me."
"That's a rather derogatory term to use for someone that you invited into the house. At least you can appreciate that he was honest with you and didn't hide behind lies just to maintain your friendship." Kai blushed, then blurted out
"Yes that's true, but it’s best this way. I don't want anything rubbing off on me, Mum," and Kai made his way to his room.
Announcing that he was back home Timothy, after telling his sister he would play with her later, went to his room and lay down on his bed. His thoughts went directly to what had taken place at Kai's house and the look of disbelief on his face when he'd admitted that he preferred boys to girls, not that he'd ever had any experiences with any other boys. He just knew inside of him that he was attracted to other boys sexually. He regretted that the friendship had ended so suddenly, but felt that telling Kai the truth was the right thing to do. If he'd waited and told him sometime in the future the reaction might have been even worse. The only other regret he had with the disclosure of his sexuality to Kai that was making him feel really nervous, was if Kai decided to relate his secret to the other boys in the school. If he did, then his school life would get a whole lot worse.
Monday morning and Timothy made his daily two mile trek to school. There was a very fine fall of rain that got everywhere when blown by the wind. He tried wrapping his mac tighter around his body and walking with head bowed hoping to prevent the fine rain blowing into his face, but it was to no avail. By the time he reached school he was soaked. He made straight for the toilets and into one of the cubicles and started unravelling the toilet paper and using it like blotting paper to soak up some of the water from the lower part of his trousers and he also wiped his face dry. After using up nearly half a roll, which he put in the bin rather than trying to flush it down the toilet, he made his way to his locker. Surprisingly he had a trouble free walk there, none of the normal barges or elbows, or even oral abuse, from boys passing him in the passageway. After collecting his books he headed for the maths classroom to find Mr Beardsley already at his desk with five minutes still to go before the start of lessons.
The moment the teacher saw him he called out "Clarkson," and Timothy walked over to the teacher. "How are you?" Mr Beardsley asked as the boy stood beside his desk, noticing the wet state of the boy.
"Okay, sir. I get a bit of pain when I cough or bend over suddenly, otherwise no problems. The only other thing is the doctor at the hospital gave me a note saying I shouldn't do any PE for at least a week," and Timothy handed over the note to Mr. Beardsley.
"Okay, Clarkson, I'll attend to this. Take your seat and it's good to have you back."
"Thank you, sir," and Timothy went to his seat. He took a quick glance in the direction where Kai sat and saw that he was sitting down lifting his feet showing off his new trainers to the others near him. Guess he went back to the shop on Sunday and bought them, he thought and took his seat, taking out his books for the start of the lesson.
At the first break, as the rain had stopped, they were able to go out into the school grounds. Timothy went to his usual spot away from the other students, sipping his drink. He'd noticed that Brian Hunter wasn't in school, but the rest of his gang were and right now he could see three of them making their way towards him. The moment they were within speaking distance Adam Fletcher spoke.
"So you've decided to return to school, poofter?” He was startled at the term the boy used. Had Kai already told them about his homosexuality? Then Fletcher grabbed him by the shirt. Oh God, not again, he thought. Kai who had seen the three boys making towards Timothy had come up behind them. He could see the fear in the smaller boy's eyes when grabbed by the shirt.
"Leave him alone, Fletcher.” Adam Fletcher swivelled his head to see who had warned him off. Seeing who it was, he released his grip asking
"Why? You feeling sorry for the queer?"
"No, but if he gets hurt again, who do you think Beardsley is going to question first?” Fletcher pushed Timothy so that he lost his balance and ended on the floor.
"Yeah, I suppose you're right. We had better leave the little dip shit alone." Then he and his two mates, Blake and Robertson, took off followed by Kai who looked over his shoulder at the boy getting to his feet. He wanted to go and help him up, but thought better of it, not wanting to let the other boys think that he was friendly towards the boy that everyone in the school seemed to belittle. So he turned his back on Timothy and walked away.
Timothy was grateful that Kai had stopped Fletcher from roughing him up and also thankful that the derogatory terms about his sexuality were used just as insults rather than a statement of fact. The rest of the day went well and though the weather was dull with grey clouds blocking out the sunlight, the rain held off so that at the end of classes he reached home dry and with no further threats to his person.
Inside the house he made for his room, but was halted at the bottom of the stairs by his mother's voice as she appeared in the sitting room doorway enquiring
"Will your friend be visiting again this evening?"
"No, Mum," he said turning to face his mother. “He only came around to see how I was after my injury at school. I don't think he'll be visiting again." Before she could respond she was interrupted by the phone ringing.
Roger Beardsley was in the school secretary's office and with her permission and collaboration he was phoning Timothy Clarkson's home number. When the phone was answered, he enquired
"Is that Mrs Clarkson, the mother of Timothy Clarkson? This is Mr Beardsley speaking. Mrs. Clarkson, it has come to the school’s attention that your son has not got a bus pass and walks to school in all weathers. It's very commendable that he walks to school, but it is not in his best interest to be sitting in his classes in wet clothes all day. Being of school age Timothy is entitled to a free bus pass. It's not charity, Mrs Clarkson. Even if you were a millionaire, Timothy would still be entitled to a free bus pass. It is his right by law. Now if you don't have the time, then the school or the local children welfare offices can arrange for a pass to be issued in his name. [Pause] Oh, I am glad to hear it, Mrs Clarkson. Nice talking to you," and Roger Beardsley hung up and smiled across at Ms Singleton saying "Job well done. Clarkson should get his bus pass in a couple of days."
Timothy heard his mother pounding up the stairs and then burst into his room.
"Did you speak to Mr Beardsley about a bus pass today?"
"No, Mum, I only mentioned that the hospital had said I wasn't to do PE for at least a week."
"Then why did he just phone me about getting you a bus pass?”
"Dunno, mum," the boy said shrugging his shoulders. “Maybe he noticed that my shoes were dripping on the floor when he spoke to me."
"Well, tomorrow I have to go out and get your bus pass. You're beginning to cause me a lot trouble, first ending up in the hospital, now having to go to the local education authorities to get your pass. If you cause me anymore problems, I'll send you back to Manchester to live with your aunt." She gave her son a withering look and left the room.
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