Paul, London 1987
I saw Ben every night that week.
I asked his father what subjects he enjoyed at school and then went to his favourite subject’s teacher and collected his homework. I explained that just at the moment Ben was a bit of a basket-case, but that perhaps doing some homework would distract him. Each day I added a teacher or varied the mix. They were all very good about it. Some even made up interesting tasks if they thought the actual curriculum homework was too boring… how cool was that!
My Mum was good too. I felt guilty about leaving her alone, but when I said so she laughed…
“I have lots that I can do… I haven’t been doing them because I didn’t want to leave you on your own!”
Suddenly she found an arts class, a cookery course and a concert that she could attend. She also made some cakes and biscuits… They were a great temptation in my locker all day at school. Mum had to pack them in airtight containers so that the smell wouldn’t attract the famous Year 9 locksmiths.
I took my homework with me, and Ben and I sat on his bed or at his desk and worked side by side. If he stopped and became quiet I found some reason to ask questions or make a drink… anything to break his introspection.
Occasionally it didn’t work, and I would realise that tears were falling on his work. Then I would lead him to his bed, and cuddle him till he fell asleep. I always woke him before leaving though… I didn’t think it would be right for him to wake unexpectedly and find himself alone.
Sometimes the cuddles involved a kiss. I was the first boy he had kissed! It was nice when it happened, but we were cuddling because he was sad so it wasn’t the norm. What did always happen though was a long kiss when I arrived. He seemed so pleased to see me that I knew that the kiss was as much for my arrival as for me. You could see his mood visibly lifting as I came through the door.
That I could have this effect on the most beautiful boy in the school was very special. I didn’t feel I deserved him, but I wasn’t about to complain!
His dad was wonderfully discreet. After that first day he never came upstairs when we were together. He would wait for my footsteps on the stairs, to ask if we needed anything, how Ben was… just how he could help me with his son, my friend.
Ben too allowed his father a few minutes alone with me. He seemed to know that his dad needed some company, and probably that he also needed my reassurance that his son was still with us, even that he was making progress. Whether he would be ready for school on Monday was another matter. What bothered both his dad and me was how Ben would cope with having to catch up on missed school. I looked on the bright side… hard work had helped me… hopefully it would do the same for Ben.
Meanwhile of course, Friday night was fast approaching!
We hadn’t told Ben what we planned. We were afraid that he would be stressed by the potential for embarrassment… his first sleepover… knowing that his dad knew… the whole five-yards. I was certain that it would all go fine, on the night. We just wouldn’t have a rehearsal so we would have to play it by ear. His dad and I were agreed that taking him by surprise was the right way to do it.
So, Ben and I planned what we would do when I came round on Sunday. We had agreed that Friday evening we could relax and not worry about homework. His father promised to get a couple of DVD’s in for us. He said we could stay up late and that he would run me home afterwards… with a quiet wink in my direction…
I had the grace to blush!
The problem was that I knew that his dad knew, that he quite clearly fully understood the potential result for his son… It was knowing that he was mentally picturing his son in my arms, in his bed, maybe his cock in… no… don’t let’s go there! I couldn’t begin to comprehend how his dad could be so calm about it!
I also couldn’t see how I would be able to look him in the eye when I arrived on Friday after school… with my overnight bag… ready to sleep with his son!
Friday afternoon, his dad told Ben that I needed to call in at home first and that I would be an hour later than usual. He asked him to help in the kitchen, getting the meal ready. They were making the simple parts of the meal, to be supplemented by the more advanced contributions from the ladies of the congregation, his wife’s friends… We were not going to go hungry!
I arrived at their door just on sunset. His father was waiting, and said
“Well timed Paul… perfectly timed… let’s go and tell the lucky boy!”
Needless to say, I was mortified and blushed furiously. He grinned at my embarrassment…
“Don’t worry so much… just distract him tonight… it’s going to be a long weekend. Whatever happens will be a huge improvement on how you found him last weekend. It’s down to you that he has found something to look forward to.”
He paused, then he said…
“Think of it as a bonus if anything more than that…”
Then, embarrassed by revealing what he had thought about us… he too had the grace to blush!
He quietly took my bag and put it in his office. Then he shouted up the stairs for Ben to come down to greet me. He came down the stairs two at a time, beaming, and threw his arms round me in a huge hug. This was not the boy that I had first seen last Sunday. He might well be sad while on his own, but he certainly seemed pleased to see me. Then he relaxed into the hug, his hips met mine… I felt proof positive… I could now be certain that he was pleased to see me!
Meanwhile his father had disappeared.
When he had finished hugging me… and that wasn’t any time soon… Ben took me by the hand and dragged me up to his room. His father had been there ahead of us. The bed now had four pillows instead of two, a guest towel was neatly folded on the one nearer the door, and on it was a yarmulke, the small round hat that Jews wear.
Ben stood there… gob-smacked…
Then his dad entered, holding my overnight bag.
“You’ll need this.” He said, with a gentle smile.
“Ben, show Paul how to wear a yarmulke. He is going to break bread with us. It will be nice that he’s properly dressed for Shabbat. The meal will be in thirty minutes, give or take a kitchen crisis or so.”
Then he withdrew, leaving his son to gather his wits.
Ben asked… “Did you know?”
“Yes, we thought you’d panic if we told you, and neither of us felt up to searching the woods, so we left it as a surprise… a nice one?”
“Yes! A nice one! It’s definitely a nice one!”
“Did Dad tell you what time to arrive?
“No. Why? Was I early?”
“No. It’s absolutely perfect, Shabbat started a few minutes before sunset, and that’s exactly when you appeared!
He started to rush about, clearly excited… He went to the drawer of his desk, looking for something.
“Now, I must fix your yarmulke. Dad’s bald so he’ll have forgotten to leave hair-grips!”
How many of my school-mates can find hair-grips in the desk drawer in their bedroom? The lucky ones I suppose… Sorry! That’s my mind in the gutter again!
Ben said we should check that the candles were lit on the dinner table.
“They should be lit before Shabbos starts, to avoid working.”
Then he laughed…
“Except it doesn’t matter tonight, our Shabbos goy can do it for us!”
“He’s a gentile, to do things on Shabbos that we aren’t allowed to do for ourselves.”
“We’re Reform, so we are more than a bit lax, but … Dad had a rough time in the war, so he likes to observe Shabbat… out of respect for the ones who can’t”
“So I am to be your Shabbos goy… young master.”
“Oh no… he isn’t a servant, you have to benefit from the act, we can only give you gifts… ”
“You’ll have to work out what gift I really want then.”
“I think I know the answer to that…” Ben said shyly.
We both looked a bit embarrassed, and hurried to the kitchen.
His dad said “The food can cook itself. It’s all on timers. It’s a good thing we’re Reform or carrying it to the table would be work.”
“Reform or not, you can both go and sit down at the table. Your Shabbos goy will bring the food through for you. Tonight you can do it properly!”
His father smiled, Ben looked pleased, and off they went. I found serving-dishes and emptied the cooking pots, made it all look good, and carried them in, all very formal.
As we sat, father and son held hands and started to sing. During the second song they started to cry. The performance was a trifle wrecked but they struggled through.
Ben sniffled and then said…
“The first song welcomed the Shabbat angels, but the second was to thank the woman of our home for looking after us…”
He cried a bit more while we both held his hands. It had been a song too far in his fragile state.
His dad blessed the wine and bread and then we tucked into a fine meal.
In this Reform home we had done the Sabbath eve proud. It was good to have been able to take part… even if only by humming along when the singing got a bit ragged.
Ben said that it was late and he needed to bathe, so in the spirit of the evening I offered to run it for him. He smiled and said I could also save him the effort of washing his back. I said that he was pushing his luck, and that he should have a good soak. While he did that I would keep his father company. He smiled sadly, and nodded. I went… while I still could. His request had been terminally tempting!
His father was sitting in the living room, with a couple of glasses and the remains of the wine. I poured him a glass, and then raised an eyebrow in question…
“Yes, of course… join me… Shabbat shalom!”
We touched glasses and I settled into a deep arm-chair.
“You have been very accepting of Ben’s… orientation… and mine. Doesn’t it cause you any problems… with your religion?” I asked.
“No, not at all… his mother was sad that she would see no grand-children, but that’s last week’s problem. This week? No! I have no problems… maybe it draws us closer.”
“I ought to explain just how simple the situation is…” he said.
I cut in…
“But Deuteronomy… man should not lay down with man…” I quoted a trifle erratically. His dad smiled.
“Paul, Paul… do you really think God is interested? That’s why Ben and I belong to the Reform wing of our faith. We take the best of Judaism and pretty much reject all the… historical baggage that scholars have littered our faith with. We Reform are pretty liberal. Even if I wasn’t, I would still have very little to feel bad about in your affection for Ben. You are clearly good for him. I can see that you love him. No. I have no doubts, no reservations… You have my unconditional blessing.”
I sat there stunned by the generosity of his position. If the people who wrote Deuteronomy and Leviticus could be this reasonable and generous… well we Christians had a lot of catching up to do!
I felt so grateful that the only thing I could think to do was to go to him and hug him… in a gruff and manly way, I hasten to add!
“Call it the wisdom of Solomon.” He laughed.
“In fact, please call me Solomon, Sol if you like, saying Mr Weinstein will lose its novelty, trust me.”
“Thank you… Solomon it is then. I have never known a Solomon!”
Ben, reappeared shortly after that, and offered me a bath. I thought it a nice idea to face all their expectations squeaky clean. When I in turn reappeared glowing from the hot bath, I said…
“Here I am ritually clean!”
“How did you know it’s traditional?” said Solomon.
“I must have been here before.” I said with a grin.
Solomon smiled back…
“Maybe you have… ”
We sat quietly, listening to music and eating homemade biscuits. It was the most relaxing Friday evening I have ever spent, despite the stress of the occasion… Believe me, chatting to your boyfriend’s dad about the acceptability of sleeping with his son, is most definitely stressful!”
At last Solomon said.
“If I don’t go up to bed I shall fall asleep here, and you will feel obliged to keep me company. So I wish you goodnight. I shall see you in the morning… not too early. Sleep well.” He kissed Ben and gave me another hug.
I said to Ben…
“That was nice of him. He saved us the embarrassment of leaving him, hand in hand.”
“Or, he denied himself that pleasure.” Ben said wistfully.
I suspect he now knew his father better than I did. Maybe he now knew him better than he had a week ago.
“Are the lights on timers or shall I turn them off?” I asked.
“Turn them off by all means, only the cooker’s on timers!”
“Do I need to carry you upstairs? I shall benefit from doing it so it’s OK”
“That would be very kind” He said, so I swept him up in my arms and headed out the door. I had my hands full so he turned the light off as we went past. Reform has its advantages!
As we got to the bedroom door, he said rather urgently…
“Put me down now… please.”
I did, and he said…
“One day you may want to do that for real, so we shouldn’t just do it as a joke.”
I thought that was the sweetest thing he could have said, squeezed his hand and kissed him.
We were quite shy undressing in front of each other. I laid out my pyjamas and went into his bathroom to clean my teeth and take a whiz. When I got back my pyjamas had disappeared. I didn’t say anything but dropped my shorts and slipped into bed.
Ben too was naked. The feel of his bare skin against my chest and under the arm I had put around him was tender beyond my experience. I had slept naked with boys before of course, but never one that I loved, or one whose good mood was so fragile that I knew I could shatter it with a careless move.
He must have felt my reticence because he said…
“Let’s not rush things. Just cuddle me please… that’s what I would really like.”
I can’t say that it was easy at first, but then the warmth and a feeling of love took over. I found that my cock had agreed with my gentler mood… my erection had faded.
Ben took my hand and while he gently kissed me he wrapped my hand around his soft jewels… and so we lay there, platonic lovers whose raging teen hormones were taking second place to a tender love.
The boy who had been a wreck a week ago was sleeping gently in my arms.
I stayed awake for as long as I could, partly to enjoy the moment, but also revelling in the knowledge that it was young Kersten, Paul of that line, that had rescued young Weinstein, Benjamin son of Solomon.
Well, it was Shabbos, so sounding a bit “Abou Ben Adhem” seemed appropriate.
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