The boys ran down the steps by two’s. Miles knew every inch of the house by heart. They only rearranged the furniture when they were upset with him. Miles snatched Jamie’s hand again and came in to the kitchen. He paused only a moment and knew Uncle Chet was in his place. Auntie Margaret had her food also, but she was busy at the stove. He smelled again and said, “You sit here, it has the apple juice.”
“How do you do that?” Jamie sat in amazement, trying his best not to make eye contact with either of the adults, but he could feel all eyes on him. Auntie Margaret dropped two sausages on his plate, fried potatoes and eggs. And sourdough toast with strawberry Jam. As she handed him the plate with his toast, he reached to take it, but she didn’t release it. His eye met hers.
“Hard, just like you like it.” With a huge smile, she released the plate. Then, sucking the tip of her thumb like Miles had done, she watched as his face turn eighteen shades of red. He felt a lurch from under the table.
“Better eat those bangers before they get any colder. They just won’t be the same. They would have been hot if you hadn’t stopped for a wee bit of a knee truggler this morning, but hey, I understand, I was young once myself.” Chet said grinning.
Jamie wasn’t sure what he just said, but he was thinking it had something to do with fucking. He remembered the man standing overtop of them as they finished their climactic orgasm. He had to have been there for a bit. That thought made him sit up and breathe heavy as he stared off into nothing, watching the pictures of what he thought they saw. He could feel his face flush again as he took a bite of sausage.
“Well, what do you think?” Auntie Margaret asked.
Still thinking about the things they must have seen, “I still think I’m dreaming and will wake up locked in my cellar alone, cold and in the dark. This can’t be real.”
Uncle Chet and Aunt Margaret both froze, troubled by the boys statement. Brushing it off, Auntie Margaret smiled, “Well, thank you. You should try them when their hot!” And she busied herself at the stove fighting back tears for the boy that found Miles’ heart in the dark. They didn’t know.
Jamie realized that she was asking about the food and blushed again. The table got very quiet. Miles was in his own little world of thought at the moment and as long as there were the right sounds going on around him he didn’t need to resurface. Not being visual, he missed some things, like dragging his sighted friend naked in front of his family. But the quiet got his attention.
“The food is excellent Auntie Margaret,” Jamie said shoving in another bite of eggs. He grabbed the toast and took a bite, “Especially the toast.” And for this line, he watched her with her back to him. “I like it very hard, and hot.” She chuckled, still with her back turned to him. She spun on him, smiling, and swooped over and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Hey, watch out now. This one’s mine.” Miles said, reaching out to find a hand. Jamie moved his to meet Miles’. He snatched it and turned toward him with a smirk.
“So what’s the plan for today then? Another snogging session, I suppose?” Chet said, grinning at Jamie.
“Oh, yes assuredly so.” Miles said smiling. “He’s quite good at it actually. And I’m quite keen to learn. I thought we might also sneak down to the pool and go for a dip.”
“A splendid idea, that pool sits there all year round indoors, heated and never gets used. At least if you use it I’ll feel I’m paying for a good reason! And I’m sure your Jamie here will really enjoy it.”
“Great! Then we’ll nap a bit and maybe listen to some music and let our food digest. Don’t want cramps now, do we?”
“Can I help with the clean up?” Jamie asked, picking up his plate and Miles’ and headed for the sink.
“No. But how sweet of you to ask.” Auntie Margaret said smiling.
The boys excused themselves to his room.
“Miles,” Jamie asked as they laid down to listen to some classical music. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Let me see if I’m really psychic too, uh . . . Why am I blind?”
“Yeah, what happened? If you don’t mind me asking. If it’s too personal, I understand.”
“Jamie, I just let you shove your Willie up me bum. I don’t think anything can be more personal than that. Of course you can ask me what ever you want.”
Miles began like he had the speech memorized. “I was five. Riding with me mommy and daddy in the auto. They were arguing over something, I don’t remember what, when another auto ran through a signal and hit us from the side. Mommy and daddy’s heads hit each other and they died. I was in the middle and hit my head on the dashboard. There was no permanent damage except that I can’t see. They don’t even know why.”
“They said it is something called hysterical blindness, meaning that I saw something that in my mind was so horrible, that my mind has blocked it out and made me blind. They said that someday when my mind works through it, I may see again but the longer it takes the less likely that is to occur. It has been nearly seven years. If it hasn’t happened yet, then it is not likely to. I don’t understand it though. I mean, I’m not hysterical about anything now. Why hasn’t it come back?”
“Wow, I’m sorry. That must have been terrible. To lose your Mom and Dad and your colors. How did you ever deal with it? I don’t know that I could have. So the smell thing, is that like God compensating for your eyes?”
“Heavens no. That old wives tale is a load of rubbish. I’ve always had a keen sense of smell. Maybe I just pay closer attention to it now that it’s needed more. As far as coping with it, what choice did I have? I have seen every kind of doctor and mind manipulator there is. I’ve seen psychologist, psychiatrist, ophthalmologists and even a few witch doctors and healers. After a while, I just said enough is enough. It’s not so bad. You get used to it I guess. Except the loneliness and the lack of someone touching you. I never got used to that. I never realized how tactile mother and father were. I’ve missed that so.”
“How about what you asked me about. How did you see that?”
“I don’t know. Sometimes when I touch someone I see things. Sometimes it’s more like a knowing. I can’t control it, it just happens.”
“You were right.”
“Of course I was. About what exactly?”
“You are a freaky little blind kid. But you’re my freaky little blind kid.” Jamie moved over against him and spooned him, placing his arm over him and holding him tight. “You’re mine now. I don’t ever plan on letting you go.”
Miles grabbed his wrist with both hands and tucked his hand up under his chin. They drifted off for a nap.
“Hey sleepy head. Can I have that back now?” Jamie said, as he gently pulled his hand away. “Those bangers sit like a rock, don’t they? Come on. Let’s go for that swim.”
Getting to his feet, Jamie noticed that Miles was once again standing tall before he ever stood up.
“Dude, do you stay that way 24/7?” he said, brushing his hand against his wood.
“Seems like a recent development. I think I like it, however. I’m not rolling off the bed while I’m sleeping anymore, am I?” He said with a devilish grin. “Be back in a mo, I need a trip to the loo. Unless you want to come and help? I think I’ll be pissing up a wall anyways. Thank God for the douche,” and he went out the door.
“Hey Miles?” Jamie called, bringing him back into the room.
“I’ll wait here.” He said with a chuckle.
“You’re a shit, you know that?” Miles said, heading out of the room again.
“I don’t really like the pool that much because of the chlorine. It deadens my nose senses. Seems like everything stinks or doesn’t smell at all afterwards. That’s why I wear a nose binder. Makes me breathe through my mouth but I can still smell when I get out. Here, just put your stuff in this locker and there should be a stack of towels over there someplace. Do you see them?”
“Yeah, I see them. I’ll grab a couple on the way in to the pool. Shouldn’t we like, be wearing trunks, or something?”
“Look, it’s a senior townhouse association. No one ever comes down here. They just let me live here because I’m an invisible kid. You know, I’m disabled, so I’m not a bother. You really worry too much.”
“Still, I better grab four towels. Two for a wrap if someone comes, two to dry with.”
“Well, just one for me. I don’t really give a shit if they see me naked or not. At their ages, they should be thanking me for the show. Are you ready yet?” He said, reaching a searching hand to see if he was still wearing shorts.
Miles paused, “I can take my cane but the chlorine isn’t good for the elastic, but I don’t know this area well.”
“No worries, I can guide you, there’s no one here. Leave your cane. Hey, watch what you’re grabbing there. We’re in, like, public. Shit, now look what you did!”
“What! What?” Miles pleaded
“Fuck, and I’ve been trying to keep it down too, then you had to go reaching for it. Come on, let’s get in the pool.” He led the way, grabbing three towels on the way and wrapping one around his waist and tucking it in.
There was a glass wall that separated the pool and the work-out room. The locker room was connected to the exercise area. The door to the pool was at the far end from the locker room.
“Looks like it is a straight path, if you stay against the glass. Only one spot you have to worry about, a weight bench sticks out into it a bit… It’s right here. It’s about five steps from the pool door.”
“Right, got it.”
Jamie opened the door and Miles winced. “Oh shit, forgot,” putting his nose binder on and speaking in a nosed pinched voice. “Oh, that’s much better,” and he stepped through the door.
“Here, there’s a bench right here, next to the door. I’ll put our towels right here on the corner. It’s about 3 paces from the pool and there is a ladder to your left about six feet.”
Again in his nose pinched voice he said, “Lets see six feet is about to here.” He mumbled to himself. He put a hand out and felt for the railing where it should be. Finding it, he hung on to it and tipped his toes into the pool. “Ooh, its warm.”
Just then he felt a push that sent him sailing into the air. He was panicked. Jamie saw it and dove in to get him. Surfacing with his arms around him he said, “I’m sorry. I thought you could swim!”
“I can swim, but when I’m pushed by surprise I loose my orientation. Which way do I swim? It’s just scary until you figure it out.”
“I’m sorry, I won’t do that again. I didn’t know.” Jamie said, holding his body against his and pulling him back to the shallow water.
“Oh dude, you are not getting off that easy. Paybacks are a bitch. Just remember.” It was hard not to laugh at the way he spoke and Jamie did smile. The British accent and the stopped up nose were quite the combination.
They played for a while. Miles was surprisingly good at Marco Polo but didn’t quite excel as much at water volleyball. He could play catch fairly well, and was accurate at throwing a ball towards the voice he loved so much to hear. Jamie let Miles stay in the shallow end by the towels and he took the deep at the other end.
All of a sudden the exercise area filled with kids, boys and girls in Speedos. It looked like a swim team. And one of the coaches, a very good looking young man, came into the pool area followed by the team. He leaned over the edge and said, “Excuse me but our pool is down getting re-plastered, we rented this pool for our practices until they are done. Is that your friend over there?”
Miles thought for a moment and grinned, this is worth losing the sense of smell for, and he unplugged his nose binder, “Well, no, we’re not together at the mo. I’m blind and he’s a real pest. He even thought it would be amusing to depants me. Do you think you could stall him long enough to get some distance between us?”
“Well, if he’s bothering you, perhaps I should call the police.”
“Oh, no let’s not do that. He’s a friend of my Aunties – *whispering* `g a y I think.’ Just give me a bit of a head start, won’t you?”
“Sure. Go ahead. Do you need a guide to the locker room?”
“No, I can navigate it well. No worries. Thanks so much. Would you mind handing me one of those towels there on the end?”
“Sure, here.” He said handing it too him.
Miles pushed out of the water and set his butt on the side. Taking the towel, he covered himself up as he stood, wrapping the towel around his waist and tucking it in. Jamie saw him getting out and started after him to leave too.
He turned towards the pool where he knew Jamie was. “Nice talking with you, ta ta!”
As he exited the door for the pool area, he reached down and snatched the other two towels and made like a bandit for the locker room.
Jamie got to the corner of the pool and saw him exit with both towels and a huge smile on his face. “Wait! Give me a towel!” Jamie yelled.
The coach reached down and grabbed Jamie by an arm and helped him out of the pool.
“Young man, it’s not nice to take advantage of a poor blind kid. I have a notion to call your parents. And why are you without a suit?” The room had erupted in cat calls and wolf whistles. Jamie covered himself up as best he could as he started to shiver. He also started to notice how packed the coach’s Speedo was.
“Do what you want, but take your hands off me.” Jamie said, turning from embarrassed to angry as he pulled away and headed for the locker room in tears.
He opened the locker room door, snatched a towel from the pile, and made his way to their locker. There was Miles, stretched out on one of the changing benches giggling like a little girl. Jamie, still in tears, ripped open the locker and grabbed his shorts and pulled them on without saying a word to Miles and ran for the door.
Miles was suddenly aware that this wasn’t funny to Jamie. He got up trying to pursue him, but he wasn’t sufficiently familiar with the area to run. As it was, he banged his shins twice and almost fell getting to the door and up the steps.
He emerged from the gym’s steps into the sunlight. “Jamie!” He called out. No response. “Shit!” Miles said. He made for home, moving his stick as he went, listening for any sign of Jamie. Then he heard it and he stopped. It was just a sniffle. Miles flared his nostrils, shit, fucking chlorine. “Jamie,” he said, “is that you?”
“Go away. Isn’t this enough for one day?” He sobbed, turning his face to the wall of the building he was leaning against. Miles zeroed in on his voice and moved to him, placing his hand on his shoulder tenderly.
“Jamie, I’m so sorry. It was a joke. I was getting back at you for pushing me into the pool. Why are you so upset? Look, I’ve been all over this body of yours and I have to tell you, there is nothing for you to be embarrassed about. So a few people saw you naked, so what.”
“SO WHAT! SO WHAT! I kissed a boy at school and my world went to shit! Worse than shit! I live in a dirty basement! I have no family. I work in a fucking vegetable market so I can have food. I’m labeled a homo at school and even the janitor turns his back on me. Now you set me up to be some kind of fucking perv in front of the schools swim teams, boys AND girls. Now, the coach and everyone else think I molest blind kids too! Miles, there were probably 50 people between the two teams and all of them from our school. I will probably be found beat to death by some God damn, sister-fucking red neck and all you can do is giggle and say `so what’! I thought we had something. I thought I finally meant something to some… one. Miles, why would you hurt me like this?”
“Oh, shit. Jamie, you have got to believe me, I didn’t know there were that many people there, and I couldn’t see they were from our school. It was a fucked up joke and I am so fucking sorry. I didn’t think. I just didn’t think. You have to believe me. Come on,” Miles took his hand and pulled him and started back towards the pool.
“No fucking way I’m going back in there. No, let me go, no!” Jamie pulling back with all that he had.
“Stop fighting me. I’m going to straighten this out. Please, trust me on this. YOU don’t have to say anything, just stand there and listen. Please give me a chance. Please.”
He felt Jamie’s resistance stop and he went forward, pulling him with him. White cane in hand, he pulled him through the locker room and then the exercise room and into the pool area. When he opened the door the smell of chlorine almost took his breath. “Hello!” he screamed. There was still noise, “MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE!” Miles shouted. Jamie stayed right behind him looking down at the floor and wishing he was dead.
“A little while ago I played a very mean trick on someone I care very deeply for, not knowing how badly it would hurt him.”
“. . . You mean the faggot!” a voice shouted out.
“I mean Jamie, the boy I have grown to love very deeply. And your hurtful words show your ignorance.”
“Great, another faggot, just what we needed.”
“Who said that? Present yourself.” Miles said. He heard no movement. “What, are you a coward as well as ignorant? Afraid of a freaky little blind kid? Step up if you have the balls.” He heard water moving and a figure crawl out of the water in front of him.
“I’m not afraid of any faggot!” The boy said loudly.
Miles snatched his wrist and it was like a bolt of lightning. “Well, I’m sorry for you. And I’m sorry that happened to you, but my friend didn’t have anything to do with it. There’s good and bad in every group of people.”
“What the fuck are you talking about? You’re sorry what happened to me? Nothin’ happened to me . . .”
“Oh?” and his voice went almost to a whisper. “Don’t you remember your mother’s boyfriend, Rodney? So sad that he liked you more than your mother. Even more sad that he forced himself on you like he did.”
“What? You . . . you’re . . . you’re making this up. . .”
“The truly sad part,” he whispered, turning his head so that only the boy could hear, “is how it made you feel, because it felt good.”
The boy just looked at him and his eyes welled up.
“Look, it’s alright. Talk to me away from here sometime. I can help you sort it out. But stop what you are doing to my friend. His life is hard enough.”
The kid recoiled as step, “You nothin’ but a fuckin’ freak dude,” and dove in the water, back towards his friends.
“Look everyone, I messed up big time. I set him up. He’s not a perv. He’s just the boy I love and it was a blind kid’s ignorance that did the damage. Thanks for listening and I’m sorry I misled you and most of all, embarrassed and hurt him.”
He turned to leave, dragging Jamie behind him, up and out of the building.
“What did you say to that kid? Why’d he look at you that way? What could you say to make a bully like him start to cry?”
“I told him what I saw when I touched him. I explained his hate. You think you have it bad. Imagine getting molested by your mother’s boyfriend and liking it. That poor kid is so screwed up. It took a horrible experience to show him he is gay. And he’d rather die than become what he pictures his attacker as being.”
“Wow, that’s so fucked up. Almost makes me feel lucky. Look, did you mean what you said in there?”
“Yeah, for all the good it did. I doubt the kid will ever come talk to me. I could help him sort it, I’m sure I could.”
“No. I meant that other part, you know. The part about me being the boy you ah . . love?”
“Never more serious about anything in my life. I am sooo in love with you. See, this is all part of the madness of it. I’ve never known someone this way. So, I’m kind of flying blind here, if you’ll pardon the pun. I love it when you laugh and I’m afraid that if I don’t keep you entertained that you’ll . . . fade away like all the rest. Our lives are not the most compatible you know. Braille books don’t come out for several years after the originals. I’m still waiting for Harry Potter 3 for crying out loud. I’m just afraid that I’ll lose . . .”
But he was cut off. Jamie grabbed his arm, spun him around and kissed him, and kissed him well, passionately. And Miles melted into his embrace, right there on the street. Miles kissed him back as he felt Jamie’s tears trickle down his cheeks too, drawing his embrace tighter.
“Look, you’ve got to stop dragging me out in front of everyone I meet naked. I mean, my God, I think Auntie Margaret got wood and she’s ill equipped!” The boys laughed back to the townhouse.
Auntie Margaret made them fish and chips for dinner. “Hmmm, real fish and chips. Auntie Margaret I love you! How did you know I was missing them so much?”
“Oh good. Got it in one, did I?” She smiled and gave him a peck on the cheek. “Are you hungry?” she asked Jamie.
“Are you kidding? My stomach thinks my throats been cut.” He said, inhaling deeply the wonderful smell.
“I’ll take that as a yes then,” she said, digesting the euphemism. “Wash up. Oh, and Jamie? Here, would you put this in, upstairs. I think a little bit of light in the loo might be a good idea.”
“And Miles, I have a special treat. Do you think your friend might like some spotted dick for sweets tonight?”
At this, Jamie’s jaw dropped and he just looked at Miles. Miles smiled huge! “Oh yes, that would be wonderful. And it’s not even the holidays. I’m sure he’ll love it. You’ve never had it, have you Jamie? Spotted dick?”
Jamie was stunned, looking back and forth between the two. He finally cupped Mile’s ear and whispered, “Before you, I’ve only kissed. And there’s no light in your room, so I don’t know if yours has spots, stripes or checkerboard!”
At this Miles even blushed and started to laugh. Seven shades of red later, he managed to get out, “It’s a sweet silly. We usually only have it at Christmas time.”
Auntie Margaret had caught on and was nearly in tears when she figured it out. Jamie was more red than ever and could feel the heat from his face, but managed to laugh and find the humor in it too.
The boys washed up and ate fish and chips until they were coming out of their ears and helped clean up the dishes. They sat, listening to the news, Uncle Chet chewing on his pipe.
“Jamie,” Auntie Margaret said, “Do you need to check in with your mum and dad? Let them know you are alright?”
The smile vanished off the frail young boys face. “No ma’am, I expect they are glad not to have to put the plate on the steps for me tonight.” His eyes welled, “Excuse me, I’m tired.” And he ran up the steps.
“Auntie Magaret, Uncle Chet, Jamie’s family has all but disowned him for being gay. It’s not accepted here even as well as it is at home. They lock him in the basement at night, won’t allow him to see his little brother and they pretend for the most part that he no longer exists. His mother and father have not hugged him, or said `I love you,’ for over a year. He works at the market for lunch money. If he isn’t in the basement by ten, he is locked out and the plate of food and the change of clothes is removed from the top step. They didn’t even move his mattress to the basement, they merely threw blankets and pillows down the steps. There is a side entrance to the basement. That’s the one they lock nightly at ten. The entrance to the house remains locked. Auntie Margaret, Uncle Chet, do you realize if there was a fire, he would die there, unable to get out.”
As Miles got up to follow Jamie upstairs, he paused, still with one hand on the banister facing the steps. He wasn’t sure what their reaction was because they remained silent. “You should also know that I quite love him. I guess that makes me gay too.” Nothing was said, but he could swear he heard a sniffle from his uncle and a whimper from Auntie Margaret. He moved up the stairs to comfort his friend, his lover. The one he knew would be a life-long mate. Even at twelve.
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