For Your Eyes Only
by Eliot Moore
Chapter 1 (July 2001 and June 2004)
It’s hard to pick a place to start. Sometimes I think it all began when I was maybe nine and Kevin Stonechild invited me over for the night. We were only passing friends. Star Stonechild was my mother’s friend; apparently their shared adolescence was legendary. My father, who only heard the stories second hand from my uncles, liked to tease her with them over dinner. My older brothers and sister must have been particularly attentive to the stories, because they became convenient riposete in the verbal fencing over their own dubious behavior. Kevin and I were therefore obligatory friends as it were, thrust together by our mothers. We got along well enough. The dancing was Kevin’s idea.
We had been shuffled off to Kevin’s room in some vain parental hope that proximity to beds would result in sleep. By ten thirty, two pillow fights and a wrestling match had been quelled and we were at loose ends exchanging views on the starting line for the St. George Warriors. Kevin’s younger brother Spencer peered at us from his top bunk. He would echo Kevin’s remarks while we ignored his presence. Our knowledge of the local junior hockey team was just sufficient to confirm our male credentials. While we talked, Kevin toyed with a lavender scarf. He ran it through his fingers and veiled his face. This last gesture caught my imagination and I suggested he looked like a belly dancer.
Kevin giggled at the suggestion, but it prompted him to rummage through a few drawers. I watched as he produced an assortment of costume jewelery. Kevin draped chains of pearls around his neck and twined tarnished links around his wrists. He produced heavy rings. He looked something like rap artist Litefoot going through a bad bling phase. The rapper effect vanished when Kevin dropped his blue cotton pajama bottoms. I remember watching with a growing excitement as Kevin turned his black briefs into a thong slung low on his hips. When he pulled his pajamas up, he rolled the elastic waist down so that it hugged his hips and rested on the small mound of his crotch. I remember absorbing the jeweled neck and the curved back ending in two prominent cheeks exposed above the fabric as Kevin turned his back to select a song. When the music began Kevin began a provocative scarf dance in the heat of his bedroom. I admit I was an appreciative audience. Kevin and I laughed together as he boldly experimented with vaguely lewd poses. Spencer watched for a while before slipping out the door unnoticed.
The exhibition ended abruptly. Kevin and Spencer’s father poked his head in the door, took in his eldest son’s gyrations and quietly called his son out of the room. I recall the sense of guilt I felt. While Kevin was away, I turned the music off and slipped into the sleeping bag on the floor. Spencer came back first and climbed up to his bunk without comment. A subdued Kevin returned stripped of his costume. He also slipped into his bed silently. His father checked to see if we were settled and then left the room. Kevin and I never spoke about the incident again. I was left with two indelible memories: the oppressive guilt following discovery, and the unusual excitement that coursed through my belly as I watched Kevin’s jeweled body dance for my pleasure.
Jesse Dietrich comes to mind. The summer I was turning twelve I was finally recruited into combat. Our St. George neighbourhood flanked a shallow gully park. A minor branch of the CPR main line cut a path straight through the center of St. George and bluffs of shrubbery and trees, long narrow ponds and fields of brittle crabgrass provided a buffer on either side. I lived in The Heights near where the crest of the larger valley slopes down to Lake Mōsocāpiskan [MOH so TSAA pis GUN] the glorified slough created during the depths of the Great Depression. Across the shallow gully park lay Sunnyside, a marginally newer and more affluent neighbourhood and the territory of our natural rivals. The park ground between Laurier Street on the south and Meighen Street on the north was no man’s land. It was a good natured rivalry fought on the basketball court, diamond and outdoor rink between us. Halloween dwarfed everything and from time out of mind, summer nights were given over to Flag Tag.
It was a boy’s game mostly since the rules tended to discourage the girls. They said the games were massive in the sixties and seventies. I think the fathers who remembered those times thought us an effete lot. By the time I was allowed to join, the popularity of the game had dwindled. A plethora of gaming platforms and the internet made strong inroads. Even so, on any given night the adventurous were out searching for one or the other of the bases that mushroomed along the gully slopes. Lest all this lurking and chasing seem too pussy, we dispensed with the niceties of socks and rags. Our Flag Tag was full contact. You took your opponent with a flying tackle and after that you worked for a wrestling pin. That tended to discourage the girls.
Jesse Dietrich slinked across the tracks and into our territory at twilight. I caught his profile before he slipped down our side of the railway embankment. It must have been my third game and I took it very seriously. Jesse was likely fourteen that year. He was a bit more than I could hope to manage but we younger boys tended to move in packs. It was early in the game, but one of our boys apparently gave the flag’s position away in exchange for a turn at Tony Hawke’s Underground. Sunnyside’s prisoner of war camp included Xbox and free sodas in Fred Stenson’s garage. It was a form of psychological warfare that we found hard to resist. With our flag’s position compromised Sunnyside was pressing in. Three of us moved in on Jesse. He was a swift antelope dogged by three skinny coyotes. He tossed me off his shoulder before my companions were able to wrestle him to the ground ten meters from where our flag lay hidden in a stand of aspen and poplar. I joined the pile. The three of us worked to turn Jesse on his back so we could make the pin. He was strong and came over slowly. I straddled his hips finally and pushed at Jesse’s shoulder while one companion sat on the fourteen-year-olds left arm and the other wrestled with his right arm. Jesse tried to buck me off before he collapsed. My companions fell away laughing and panting. I was left across Jesse with my hands pressing his shoulders into the grass.
I became conscious of the bulge of his groin pressing into my bottom. It precipitated a tightening in my own crotch. At close to twelve, I think this was the first time I associated this new feeling with physical contact. It was something of a revelation to me and the smile we shared seemed to acknowledge a shared response. I sat back on Jesse’s hips letting my hands casually trail down his chest. “You’re my prisoner.” I was sensitive to the movement of his body against my flesh. I remember feeling reluctant to get off him. Jesse relaxed on the grass and watched me. My companions finally broke the spell. It was time to take our prisoner to the prisoner of war camp.
When Jesse made it to his feet he looked at me and challenged us, “I know I’m a prisoner, but I bet you three can’t catch me a second time.” We took his challenge and gradually brought him to his knees again. He collapsed more quickly the second time and once again I ended straddled across his hips with a triumphant grin. He allowed me to hold him pressed against the earth as I felt him through the stretched fabric of my shorts. Jesse taught me something new about myself: I loved to press him down and feel his body and he liked it too. Jesse and I faced each other a number of times before he drifted out of the game. I caught many boys and many boys caught me, a few girls too, but the feeling never returned.
I find a lot of what you know about yourself comes from looking back. At the time these things happened, I am not sure I would have recognized the significance as I do now. So I guess Kevin and Jesse simply foreshadowed what would unfold. I guess it really begins that late August evening the summer I turned fourteen, a week before I started ninth grade at Central, and the day I met Pino and Glyn. The day Pino and I started our private war.
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