For Your Eyes Only
by Eliot Moore
Chapter 5 (November 2006)
I didn’t see Pino for a month and thanks to Brittany I didn’t really talk to Glyn for three weeks. The night after Halloween Brittany informed me that we were officially broken up. I was surprised how little I cared about that. It was clear Brittany was interested in someone else. It was not until I saw her talking with Glyn in the hallway that I understood what had happened. I think Glyn didn’t know how to deal with me. He was into Brittany in a way I never was I guess. He must have imagined I was upset. I was still worried about Pino and the distance he had shown in the night. I went to the extent of writing Pino an email asking him how he was. He simply replied he was fine.
I didn’t see much of Glyn around the school. In our classes he kept a distance. He signalled this new arrangement in drama by sitting a few seats away from me. If I had not been so unsettled by this I would have laughed at our classmates efforts to adjust to the new seating arrangement. At the end of the week our design was installed in the cabinet outside the office just as we had dreamed. We stood side by side staring at our creation as the principal and our teacher gushed. It was a beautiful creation but the joy we should have shared was stripped from the moment. We replied to their questions in painful monosyllables each afraid to antagonize the other. I imagine the picture they took of us was grim.
This went on for three weeks as the frosty weather, matching the turn in our nascent friendship, dipped to freezing. Justin and Nate pushed a few girls in my direction, but my heart was not in it. A group of us went to the theatre on the weekend. I was content to go stag. Brittany stopped to say hello to me with Glyn in tow. Nate and Justin stood nearby with the girls. She asked me how I was and we made small talk while we waited for a chance to buy our tickets. I remember thinking she must be reassured in some way to see me by myself. Glyn watched mutely behind her. I smiled at Glyn and then she pulled him away.
After the weekend Glyn decided to follow me home from school. Nate and I were walking with a few others. Glyn was half a block behind. I sent them on, stopped and waited for him. He stopped a distance from me and we looked at each other. “I’m sorry Simon. It just sort of happened. We really like each other. I know it was hard for Brittany to tell you.” He stopped and just looked at me sadly. I considered what to say.
“I think you tried to tell me. I wish you had.”
“I’m sorry Si.”
“I meant what I said Glyn. She and I were not that big a deal.” It was hard to say this to Glyn, but I pushed on. “The truth is, the only thing I’m upset about is you stopped talking to me. I guess that hurts.”
“I didn’t think you wanted me around.”
I shook my head. “I was just getting used to your company Glyn.” He smiled then and suddenly I knew we were okay. If Brittany had any brains she would cling to him until he eventually scraped her skanky body off with a pry bar. I thought I knew her better than that. She would move on and leave him bewildered. I grinned back at him. “The SiGlyn Theatre looks pretty damn good in front of the office doesn’t it?”
“But there is no power for the lights.”
I shrugged, “That’s okay.” Finally he came close to me.
“But all the time we put into those lights man.” Glyn looked grieved. We could pretend we were smiling about our hard-won triumph, but we were smiling with relief that we were still friends.
We started walking again. Simple words healed the silence that had laid between us over the last weeks. Glyn and I were fourteen year old boys that fall and the drama of girlfriends paled in importance with how we felt about each other. My life revolved around the boys who knew and liked me. At fourteen, girls were a side dish. The late day seemed brighter as we walked together. A joke or dig would prompt one or the other of us to bump or push. The contact was reassuring. “Do you want to come over?” Glyn asked.
“Right now?” he nodded. I thought about Pino and the shambles that had resulted from our final game. “How about coming over to my house instead?” I didn’t know how to tell Glyn that things between his little brother and me were not going well. The reminder cast a shadow over my joy.
“I guess, sure.” We continued on toward my house, for a time we walked in silence. Pino was apparently on both our minds because Glyn asked “Si, could you do me a favour?”
“Could you talk to Pino and tell him that things are okay? Tell him you aren’t mad at me or upset? He’s been barely talking to me.”
“Well maybe something else is on his mind.” I thought of Pino in the bathroom ashamed.
“No, I know you said you were okay with all this.” Glyn stopped walking and put a hand on my arm to stop me. He sighed deeply. “I stole her from you.”
“She dumped me Glyn; don’t worry about it so much. Justin is already trying to set me up.”
“I know you say that, but Pino’s worried about you. He thinks you’re mad at us. He thinks you are torn up about losing Brittany.” He checked my face. I suppose he was so taken with Brittany he could not quite believe I let her go so easily. I smiled and shook my head to reassure him.
He thinks you’re mad at us. It was Glyn and Pino, a package deal. I swung at Glyn’s head trying to get him into a headlock. We struggled for a bit losing our bags in the process. Our giggles mingled with grunts as we tangled. Glyn tripped me onto a damp lawn strewn with yellow leaves and I pulled him down with me. We grappled; and while the watching neighbourhood might think us two well matched enemies trying to best each other, we were simply friends and my heart sang as I tested my strength against him. Glyn pinned me and then fell away. I rolled over to look at him huffing beside me. Our pants and coats were wet with autumn dew and bracken clung everywhere. Glyn’s hair was a damp tangle festooned with leaves. He looked like some teenage elf transported from Middle Earth. I liked him very much.
“You’ll talk to Pino right?” I nodded. I wanted to talk with Glyn’s brother. Perhaps Pino was ready to talk to me.
Brittany drew Glyn and me closer together. At the time I imaged that she disliked Glyn and my friendship. Now I realize it was of little consequence to her. Glyn made her feel secure and she thought her and my friendship would naturally continue on a different footing. Glyn and I had never phoned each other or even sent an email before Brittany broke it off with me. After our conversation on the sidewalk we began talking every day. Glyn loved Facebook. His list of friends was predictably long. He made me join. We had no internet at the house; dad imagined there was no point when we had it at the store. Glyn had to phone me if there was something on his mind, and he did that first night. We talked for a while and then he insisted I speak with Pino.
I could hear them argue briefly as the phone moved back and forth between them. That discouraged me a little. It was hard to believe Pino wanted to talk. Finally Pino came on the line. I felt anxious. “Hey,”
“Hello Simon.” His voice was cautious. It reminded me of Glyn standing on the sidewalk just out of arm’s reach. I asked him how he was and he replied that things were going well.
“I want to see you.”
“You do?” He seemed uncertain. “Well maybe the next time you come over…”
“Pino, I want to see you alone,” It wasn’t a package deal to me, “soon.”
“We don’t have to talk about it Simon. It’s not important. I don’t want you to think… don’t punch me Glyn!”
“Do you still have the necklace on?” There was a long pause. I could hear Glyn asking questions in the background. He was worried I had not reassured Pino that I was fine. Pino replied with some asperity that he understood. I tried to wait patiently.
“Then the game is not over is it Pino?” He didn’t answer. “It’s pretty simple 004, either you see me or I take your head off.”
“After school tomorrow?” his tone had changed. It was lighter.
“Dad wants me at the store.” I was not sure Pino would want to meet me there again. “We could meet at my house after supper some time?”
“I’ll see you at the store.”
“I’m probably done at 6:30 okay?” We left it at that.
I went back to my room and lay down on the bed. It was not hard to remember Pino shaking in my arms as he came in his briefs. I was hard. I slipped a hand down my pants and ran my fingers over my engorged penis. I think I may have been hard from the moment I heard his voice at the other end of the phone.
Our game was the most exciting thing I had ever experienced. My shirt came off and I tugged at the bookshelf pulling it back into my room. It rolled easily on the wheels my dad had used when he first decided to close off the hallway. Beyond there was the landing that branched off to a stretch of wall dad thought he could remove. Behind that barrier wall was the bathroom. A narrow staircase led to the third floor. I pulled the bookshelf back in place to keep my room as warm as possible. There should have been a door, but dad had his own plans for the space.
I shivered in the cold as I made my way up the stairs. Dad planned to turn two of the second floor bedrooms, the bathroom and the large third floor space into an apartment. It was understood that I would have to move to another room whenever this happened. The first step was replacing the outside door and fixing the fire escape up the west side. Not much had been done. The third floor was my hideaway till all this happened. The ceiling had collapsed along one side exposing the stained boards of the roof and dad had covered the radiators. I had cleaned up the mess and brought in some chairs I found in the alley. Only a few of my friends had been up there.
I pulled my pants off in the dark and slouched in a wooden chair. I stroked myself slowly as the November cold chilled my bare feet and sent curls of steam around my face. I thought of my penis sheathed in the moist folds of Brittany’s vagina; her moisture lubricating my flesh better than the light flow of liquid seeping from the tip of my organ. I thought of Glyn covering Brittany’s body, her long legs curled around his thighs. I imagined Glyn’s muscles flexing as he drove himself deep into her. His buttocks would tense and quiver from the excitement. I worked flesh and squeezed my scrotum. In the murky center of the room I imagined Pino sitting on one leg resting his head on his upraised knee. The mound of his crotch would reveal what I had felt between my thighs so many times now. Cold as I was, I remembered Pino’s heat against my body. The friction became painful but I didn’t stop. When the semen pulsed across my chest and belly I thrust my hips out offering it to a young shadow lover.
Glyn sat beside me in class. Our teacher must have known the thing between us had been resolved. She smiled when we partnered on the day’s assignment. Glyn found me after lunch and Brittany sat, a hand twined in his as we talked. Through afternoon classes I daydreamed about seeing Pino and tried to ignore the distraction of Justin hounding me into an evening out with Jessica Prefontaine. After school I went down to the store.
Wallace Books sat two blocks off Alexandra Avenue on the corner of Haultain Avenue and Dewdney Street in an old building my great grandfather had purchased in the 1940’s. It had been Wallace Books since 1963 when my grandfather gave up on men’s clothing and started a book store. Back then Grandpa Peter lived upstairs and my dad and my uncle shared a room in the two bedroom apartment. The upstairs was rented out now. My mom teased dad that he was a slum lord. Business was adequate but we needed the rental income in the same way dad needed the slave labour from his children. I might have been the only Wallace child who didn’t resent that.
I was straightening shelves and waiting for dad to wander back from a break when Pino bounced in the front door. It was 4:15 PM. He must have come directly from school on the bus. He returned my smile, but there was a reserve there that signalled we still needed to talk. I suggested he surf a bit on one of the computers. He asked if he could help me instead. I was pulling books off the shelves and dropping them into boxes. We talked about the shop while we worked. I told him I wanted to leave the ones in better condition on the shelves. They didn’t always sell, but they looked smarter and I dreamed the store could be something else. We sold new books, but we couldn’t compete with the box stores and chains so our niche was used books now and more people wanted to sell books than buy them. I was harassing dad to sell them on line. Grandpa Peter never had to compete with the internet. We had a basic web site that was little better than an advertisement.
I told Pino a little about my dreams while we waited for dad. “You can’t make a living off of used books. Dad said he used to sell four times the volume. We just take books in trade. Sometimes a title comes our way that is really valuable, but look at all this crap!” I tossed five copies of the same romance novel at Pino. “The place looks tired and dusty. People step in, take a quick look around and get out in a hurry.” Dad frustrated me. “I think we could push the coffee and stuff. It makes some money during the day and if we stayed open later we might get people in the evenings. We’re not going to be Tim Horton’s, but I’ve seen the other places.” I rotated with my arms out framing the space. “This place has atmosphere. This place is old man; a hundred years old. It was a bank.”
“The front is awesome. That brickwork and the front steps. I bet people just step in to see what it looks like.” Pino kicked at the rough Tarrasa floor. “I would have liked to see it when it was nice.”
“It could be fixed up again. He has it wrong; dad I mean.” I paced the space as I talked. “See he has the books out front and the coffee and tables in the back. You can’t even see the computers from the door. Most people bring their laptops, but who would know we have wireless.” I looked back at Pino. His eyes reflected my excitement. “He should flip the whole arrangement, take out this drop ceiling – you should see the ceiling – knock a big-ass door in this wall here and use the lot for a summer patio.” I could see it in my mind. I glanced at Pino again and deflated a little. I shrugged at him apologetically. It was just another game like I played with Pino or dad’s fantasy about what the apartment in my room was supposed to look like after dad and Peter finally got their act together. I was just fourteen and the business was going so bad Wallace Books and my dream would be gone before I was old enough to know what had to be done to make it real.
“I can see it Si.” Pino smiled at me and I realized how glad I was he had come. The buzzer rang when three university students pushed through the copper front door. They looked like they had been out of high school a few years. Two of them scanned the shelves while the third approached me. Pino faded back a little.
“Any chance you have a used copy of McShane, Canadian Organizational Behaviour?”
“I think you need to try the U.S.G. book store. Check the bulletin boards I guess. We don’t get many textbooks here.” He looked me over as if I had just confirmed my total incompetence. I tried out dad’s obsequious shopkeeper’s smile on the young man. It was apparently wasted on him.
“So what good are you?” He was something of an asshole, but he was a big asshole and I was only fourteen.
“But you do have Four Theories of the Press by Siebert?” One of the other young men held up a green and white paperback. “How did this find its way here?” He had a quiet voice and a nice smile so I returned it.
“Let’s go Greg,” my disgruntled customer suggested.
“Hang on,” the friend turned back to the shelves. The other two looked at loose ends. I turned back to Pino and waved him back to the shelf where I had been working. I was anxious for dad to return so Pino and I could go talk somewhere. I kept an eye on the three young men as I went to work. I expected them to push on, but the blond with the green and white book tucked under his arm kept looking. The other two poked around while they waited for their companion.
“You make coffee?” I paused and looked at angry man in search of McShane. He had found his way back to dad’s half hearted attempt at a Cappuccino Bar. I hated his smirk and the shabbiness of dad’s effort. I nodded. “I’ll have a black coffee I guess.”
“Sure,” I went behind the plywood bar and poured a mug of coffee. I had made it fresh when I arrived so I hoped he would approve of this at least. I paused before handing it over, “I’m sorry, did you want that to go?” He glanced at his friend now rifling through some old stacks of piano sheet music and shook his head. I was bothered a bit by his skepticism so I called over to Pino, “Hey Pino, would you like a Cappuccino?”
“Sure” He came over to watch as I made it. After I poured the froth I carefully drew a leaf with a tooth pick. It was the only decoration I could do, but Pino was delighted with it. He carried the large bowl carefully to a table and sat with it. Our eyes met and then he blushed and busied himself with the drink. His hair was only a little longer than when we had met that summer. The bone necklace was loose about his throat. He would never believe me, but I liked the way his glasses transformed his face. The glasses always drew my attention to his bright eyes. I couldn’t help smiling at him and his pail cheeks seemed to just get brighter. I caught the guy with the book under his arm watching me. I mean he was really looking at me. Most men his age passed right over me the way I ignored some six-year-old. It’s nothing personal. Younger kids don’t matter. Something about me mattered to him. That flustered me. I turned self-consciously back to the coffee machine and cleaned up.
Dad finally came back. He glanced at the three young men and identified the potential customer in the young man with the book and two pieces of sheet music. The university student glanced between Pino and me and then turned his attention to my dad. Relieved to have him back, I nudged Pino, grabbed the half filled box of books and headed for the basement. I was halfway down the stairs before it came to me that Pino might be uncomfortable following me down to where our game slipped out of control. I dropped the box next to the other discards. When I turned around he was at the bottom of the stairs watching me.
“I’m sorry Glyn stole your girlfriend Simon.”
“I told you, it doesn’t matter. Brittany and I were not that serious. Tell me you haven’t been avoiding me for four weeks because I lost my girlfriend.” Pino studied the floor between us. “I told you not to worry.” I felt uncomfortable. “I don’t know what to say Pino. It is just a little goofing around isn’t it?” I read a few spine labels on the shelf next to me as I wished we could switch back to the fun we had together.
“You’re not grossed out by what happened?”
“Simon, I asked you.” There was exasperation in his voice.
“No Pino I’m not.” I didn’t know how to tell him I found him exciting. The thought of his arousal continued to consume me. I wanted to see where our game would go next. I didn’t want him to stop. I wanted to touch him again. I lifted a palm to my face as if I might catch a scent of his sweat. Sometimes I just don’t understand myself very well. Maybe Justin was right. I needed a new girlfriend. “Don’t be embarrassed Pino. It was both of us, not just you.”
“It wasn’t you creaming yourself.”
“Well you were the prisoner.” I chanced a look to see how he took that. There was the barest flicker of a smile on his lips. “It’s natural don’t you think for me to use all the weapons at my disposal. If you’re my prisoner then I have to try just about anything to get you to talk. Sometimes it would be psychological stuff. Make you do things to break your spirit. I mean, you may have to suffer further before you learn the secrets of my cave.”
“Oh you think so do you?” Pino stretched his arms up to the door jam. “And if I was your prisoner then I would just be forced to go along with it even if I didn’t want to. I’d have to endure anything you tried.”
“For Queen and Country”
“Right, for Queen and Country”
“Till you talk”
“If I talk”
“You’ll tell me everything.”
“I might; we’ll see.”
“I’ll make you eventually.” I came over to him and grabbed a fistful of his shirt. I pulled him into the room gently. He came willingly. He let me swing him slowly around in an arch and then back him against the rough shelving. Pino draped his arms on the shelves and let me run my hands from his hips to his hard belly. I tugged on the front of his pants as if to pull them down. I stared at his face for a moment struck by the contrast between Pino and Glyn. Glyn’s face was heavier. I think it was because he was a little over a year older than Pino. Pino had a slender face. Glyn’s hair was long and it softened his face. I’m sure the girls loved it. I’d sit next to Glyn in class and wonder if I should grow mine out. I’d wonder if it would help me catch some girl’s attention. Some girl I could get really excited about for a change. Pino kept his hair very short. It made him seem a little tougher, a little stronger, a little more exciting. He It was different from his brother Glyn, but I imagined the girls found his looks very appealing.
“What are you thinking?”
His question pulled me back. I smiled and combed my fingers once through his hair. “I like your hair.” I tried to say it lightly. I shrugged apologetically for making such a thing of it. “It looks good on you.” Pino was really looking at me. It suddenly reminded me of the young man upstairs. Pino was totally focussed. I let go of his pants and sought some distance. We had come to talk, not play the game. “I don’t like to hurt you Pino. The wax – that was probably not a good idea.”
“It was nothing Si. It doesn’t hurt when you do it right. It just adds something to the game for me. Like getting tied up for real, I’m always curious what you’re going to do when you are in control.”
“Maybe you should have a turn some time.”
“Maybe, but I think you like to be the boss.” Pino was kidding himself. I always felt he was in charge. “The game is more fun when you play the bad guy.”
“I’m the bad guy?” I gave him a mock frown. “You can call me the bad guy after killing Wasim’s sister Marwa? Wasim has declared Jihad on you for that. ”
“I really must remember to kill Wasim the next chance I get.”
“Then who would keep me warm at night?” That comment left an awkward pause between us. I had a sudden thought. “Hey”
“I want to show you something.” I pushed Pino back up the stairs and stole the keys out of the lock box in the store room. Dad was haggling with a middle aged man about a box of books. The man was well dressed and the books I could see were not the sort we usually got. I paused to rummage through the box quickly and frowned at my dad and then gave him a small nod. He rolled his eyes at me. After that I grabbed Pino’s sleeve and pulled him toward the front door. He followed me up the broad stairs to the second floor. I stopped him at the top with a hand to his chest.
“What was the deal with the books?”
“Oh dad has to buy them. I know that guy’s type. He’s doing something like cleaning out his mom’s library. She’s probably not even dead yet and he just wants it all gone so he can chuck her into a home and get on with his life. I saw some fancy books there; really good stuff. If I’m lucky he has boxes of them.” I realized my hand was still on Pino’s chest. I was starting to be accustomed to touching Pino. I put my hands in my pockets to keep them where they should be.
Pino brushed against me as he passed. “You really like selling the books don’t you?” He was examining the scarred oak doors in the hallway that ran from one end of the building to the next.
“Not as much as making the coffee and playing with the computers. I’m not really a book worm Pino. They are just what we sell.” I pounded on the first door and leaned my back against the wall while I waited for a response. After a minute I unlocked the door and gestured for Pino to follow me.
The upstairs had been offices at one time. I think my great grandfather had rented them out. Now there were two small apartments. “Sometimes I think about what it would be like to live here.” I wanted to share a bit of my dream with Pino. “Nobody wants my grandpa’s business except me. I don’t even think dad likes it. That’s probably why he doesn’t push Peter, Paul or John to work here anymore. I think it would be cool to run a coffee house and live up here. My friends and I could party downstairs and then we could crash up here.” I looked at the mess on the bed and shuddered. “Jesus, this place is disgusting.”
“Smells like someone pissed here.”
I nodded. “Come here, let me show you something.” I led Pino over to the window. Below was a narrow strip of scarred earth littered with neighbourhood refuse. He stood and watched as I slammed my palm on the window frame trying to force it up. It wouldn’t budge so I just pointed to the space below. “That’s ours too.”
“Wow! Must be worth something,” He leaned past me and I put a hand on his warm shoulder.
“Sure, if this was Medicine Hat, or Saskatoon. Imagine if this was Edmonton or Calgary. It’s not worth so much here. It would make a nice patio in the summer time.” Pino walked back to the kitchen. The sink was full of crusted dishes. I felt depressed. “Let’s get out of here.” Pino turned back and looked at me. “Anyway, I know it’s stupid; you spend enough time here with nothing to do and ideas pop into your head. Nobody listens to me. I’m just spinning here.”
“It’s a good dream Si. Some guys dream of playing for the NHL. Some guys want to be doctors or something. We all have dreams.” He just stood there peering at me through those glasses. He jammed his hands in his pockets. “Don’t give up on your dream Si. I guess I haven’t given up on mine.”
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