Paul, London 1985
I quickly learnt that the way to get Jeremy to do what I wanted was first to get him so over-excited that his little-brain out-voted his natural shyness. That was how I got him to accept his first blowjob when we were twelve. I would have loved him to have returned the favour, but I knew that if I asked he would start to lose interest in what we were doing. I learned not to push it. It was better to get what he wanted to give than fail to get what I really wanted.
I loved Jeremy, and upsetting him with demands for things beyond his range of desires served no purpose… It isn’t love to get what you want by upsetting the other person… is it? I don’t think so anyway!
Thirteen brought semen, we didn’t need to call it “white-stuff” anymore… We were growing up. Jeremy seemed a little bit more adventurous than he had been. Perhaps it was just that when you make such a mess over your best-friend there’s a lot less point in being shy.
I could almost always get him to rub me to a climax, lying like a boy and girl, rubbing against one another till the mess was considerable. He didn’t like to be the girl. He preferred to be on top. I thought that was just our relationship.
Perhaps… perhaps I should have thought it through more.
He liked to lay me face down and rub in the valley of my bottom. He called it “happy-valley” and doing it was “doggy-style”. I wore my hair long in those days, and he loved to play with it. He would sometimes call me “darling” when we did it that way… I probably never really understood how complete his fantasy was.
I thought that I had cracked it on his fourteenth birthday. I gave him a twelve pack of extra-strength condoms as his silly-present. I had written, “From your doggy to his master.” on the label. I didn’t want him to miss what I expected from him.
That night we had a birthday sleepover. Even though we still lived next door, our mums had finally given up on logic. It might not be necessary but the sleepover was a natural end to festivities.
He said. “Who’s a good-doggy?”
“Roll over then!” He said.
“Don’t forget your present, I want you to enjoy it!”
God it hurt… I thought I was on fire… we had no lube other than that on the condom.
I didn’t want to break his mood while he was still willing to do it. So I lay there with tears in my eyes, while he enjoyed his birthday present. That was the only time I didn’t cum first while he did it. Ever after we used the lube that I quickly added to the scene.
He had become quite a big lad and could reach the right places.
I loved being his darling doggy style as much as he did. I never ever suggested we swap places, I knew his limits, even if I didn’t fully understand them.
It wasn’t that many weeks later. We hadn’t actually finished the twelve-pack. We mostly used the condoms to satisfy a modest boy’s need for cleanliness. I suspect that Jeremy also included putting on the condom in his fantasy that he was with a girl.
So ten condoms into the packet I had my bright idea to spice things up…
Jeremy said, “Good doggy, roll over.”
I said, “I’ve got a better idea,”
I stayed on my back, swung my legs either side of him and brought my heels to rest on his shoulders.
“The missionary position! Give it a go.”
His eyes were tight shut while he fumbled to locate my pussy in its new position.
Then he was in and I thrust up to meet him.
The new position was good for both of us. We kissed. His cheeks were hot, his breathing became ragged… his eyes were tight shut.
Then, just as he was getting to the short strokes… trusting his little-brain to make things OK… I said…
“I love you Jer!”
He stopped dead. He looked stricken, devastated.
“Don’t! That’s not funny!”
“It wasn’t meant to be.” Was all I could think of to say.
Then he was out of bed… and gone.
I was devastated. The confession of love that I had expected would complete us, had ended us.
I cried myself to sleep.
Next day I was still curled up in bed well after midday. Mum brought me a sandwich and when it had gone uneaten, she brought me Dad instead.
He sat on the edge of my bed and stroked my hair like he did when I was a little boy. I rolled into his arms and sobbed on his shoulder. He patted me gently, saying…
“It’s OK, Paul, everything fixes itself. Give it time.”
“Did you quarrel with Jeremy?”
“But you must have upset him. He looked awful when he left. Do you want to go next door and make things up with him. Would you like me to try for you?”
“It’s too late for that. I blew it completely… I just didn’t know.”
“That he isn’t gay like you?” He asked gently, and hugged me even tighter.
“Yes of course. We’re your mum and dad, we’ve known for a very long time.”
“… and Jeremy?” I asked.
“That’s been our worry for the last year… You obviously adored him but he wasn’t aware of it. He was your best friend, but he obviously didn’t feel it in the same way. He didn’t look at you the way you looked at him… We were afraid you would get hurt when he found a girl.”
“I was his girl!”
“Yes, I think that was it… it was a dream, and last night you woke him up?”
“Yeah, I guess I woke him up!”
They were brilliant, Mum and Dad were. Every time I was down there were cuddles or a trip to town, even a few secret driving lessons… just about anything that would distract me and lift my mood.
Over the next few months things got better, even if relations with Jeremy never improved. He changed schools when his family moved away. His mum was nice. The day they left she hugged me goodbye and whispered… “I’m so sorry Paul, you were so good together.”
That made me cry, but it was nice that she could see it for what it was.
Things got better. I could concentrate on school work. I was less distracted. Sex became just a stress release at bedtime. Things were going well, Mum had enrolled me in a gay boys club in town. It was discreet and a nice way to see the variety there was among us. There were wildly camp ones and to my astonishment even the prop forward from the rugby team at our rival school.
“I would never have guessed!”… “Me neither!”
That was when Dad had his bright idea that we should all go on holiday together. He took us to a Greek island, so that we could be miles from civilisation.
It was so remote that he even packed a full medical kit…
“You never know. We shall be miles from the nearest hospital.”
How right he was, and that was how he crashed my world!
It was the one time I had known my Dad to have been wrong. There are indeed things that can go so badly wrong that they can’t be fixed. Jeremy was one, but that was nothing compared with losing Dad.
I tried to be strong for Mum. At fifteen I was now the man of the house. It was my job to cheer her up when she was down, and it was my job to not get her down in the first place.
The gay club was a great release. The men’s room was out of bounds for other than its proper purpose, but we could date and Mum was good about stray friends staying over.
“The company is nice, and you choose well”, was all she said when I asked if she minded.
School was very good too… I got a lot of support. When they realised that my way out of the doldrums was work they came up with the idea of “extra-art”. The sixth formers that were doing advanced level art had a club that met two evenings a week. The school found a specious reason to enrol me. I was good at drawing but my science specialisation had cut me off from my artistic side. So, they said it would be good to get me back at an easel. I didn’t often make it to the club twice a week but always once.
I think that the staff had briefed the sixth formers because they were incredibly supportive. It was confusing at first. Some of them were so nice that I thought I must be cuter than I realised. The art master sensed me flirting with a couple of his more hunky students, and gently headed me off.
“I’m gay too,” he said “and my gaydar says you are barking up the wrong tree with those two.” I was shocked that he knew, but I was grateful and said so… Jeremy had been a disaster of misunderstanding that didn’t need repeating this lifetime. He had said it very quietly, and he had winked and grinned. I was pretty sure that my secret was still safe… unless it had been just as obvious to anyone else. I vowed to be more careful!
After the funeral Mum had difficulty coping with Dad’s things and asked me to pack up his study before it became a shrine. I had already joined St John’s Ambulance so she said I could take any medical books I wanted. She knew I was keen to become a doctor, so she suggested I box up the rest and put them in the attic until I needed them.
That left a corner cupboard in his study that I had never seen opened.
It took ages to find the key.
I found it when packing his clothes for the charity shop. It was in the inside pocket of an old suit that looked as if it dated from early in the 40’s or 50’s. It must have been from when he was really quite young because it certainly wouldn’t have been tall enough for him as I knew him. The suit had the broadest lapels and trouser cuffs imaginable. I was keeping it back, partly because even a charity shop wouldn’t be able to shift it, and partly because one day when I was a little bit taller I would be able to use it for fancy dress parties!
There in the inside pocket was the key.
When I unlocked the study cupboard, I found some very old clothes and an ancient clasp-knife. There were some photographs in an album, and a small pile of pass-books. The pass-books were in German and dated during World War Two. The photographs in them showed that they were for children, issued to Hans, Solon, David, Jan and Martin Kersten, presumably my father and his brothers…, but why did he have them and not his brothers?
I opened my father’s passbook. It was curious… as well as the usual stuff it had a couple of endorsements. It took a good dictionary to decipher the German. One said “circumcised-Aryan” and the other said “Refer enquiries to office of Reichsfuhrer-SS.”. That seemed pretty weird, especially as the latter was signed very formally by “Gauleiter Hamburg”. Without Hitler’s own signature things couldn’t get much more senior I thought!
As well as the papers, there was a uniform, quite a small uniform, one that would fit someone my age or slightly younger. I searched for a name tag, and there it was again “Hans Kersten”. So my father as a boy in Germany in World War Two had worn a uniform. The shoulder flash said “Jugend” and I knew that meant membership of the Hitler Youth, the Nazi equivalent of the boy-scouts of its day. That was a bit chilling, but not a surprise. If he had grown up in Germany then I supposed that membership of the Hitler Youth was more conventional than surprising.
I slipped the jacket on. There was something in an inside pocket.
I drew out two things…
What I was now holding made no sense. My search for understanding had begun.
One was a medal on a ribbon… an Iron Cross, but whose?
The other object was absolutely impossible to accept.
The thing I was holding was a military pass-book. It was made out… clearly made out with no room for misunderstanding… and I had an immediate need to be able to misunderstand!
It was made out in the name of: SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Hans Kersten
My father… a Sturmbannfuhrer in the SS… I couldn’t believe and couldn’t accept that my father… that I adored and who was not around to explain or defend himself… I couldn’t believe that the Hans Kersten in these documents was my Dad.
I didn’t examine the cache any further. There was nothing it could tell me that I wanted to know. I quietly packed them all away on the top shelf of my bedroom cupboard and tried to forget what I had found.
I did go so far as to find an encyclopaedia and look up SS-ranks. It gave the rank of Sturmbannfuhrer as equivalent to Major. It had the literal meaning of “leader of a shock assault group”. It was quite a senior rank. That just left me more confused than ever. How could my father, I calculated that he was 16 at the time, how could he be a Major in the SS?
It made no sense… but the paper was old and there was really no reason to believe that it was faked.
I was now suffering the grief of losing him a second time, if you see what I mean…
The nightmares took a long time to ease off.
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