Life in The Village, through the eyes of Tom Grant, the only teacher at the remote school.
This is an original work of pure fiction (just an expression of a fantasy)
by Robert A. Armstrong (a pseudonym)
(re-written from my 2013 version)
The resemblance of the characters by action, name, location or description to any real person is purely coincidental.
If it is illegal, or offensive, for you to read stories involving interactions of a sexual nature between adults and youths, then what are you doing here?
From Chapter 20
I look at Will. The tears welling up in his eyes trigger my own.
“Tom, Will,” Uncle Bill says, “I want you to know that despite any fears that you may have, because I can read them, right now, on your faces, I will be totally supportive of you both in whatever difficult times lay ahead for you. And, I want you to feel confident that I will never repeat my thoughts or any of this conversation to another living soul, if that is one of your fears. Be assured that what is said in this car, stays in this car.” This is eerily reminiscent of Marty”s comforting `House Rule”. Thank you, God.
“This is just between the three of us – a secret between a father and his two sons. I will love you both and my wish for your lives is `happiness” and that you will not live in fear and pain. I will do everything within my power and resources to help that happen for you. And I will be there to support you if you want to tell somebody else. And there are some people whom you should really tell. And soon!”
He retrieves two handkerchiefs from somewhere and hands one each to Will and me. “Is there anything that either of you would like to tell me or ask me?”
I try very hard to hold in the tears and to maintain my now-fragile composure. But I lose the battle.
Chapter 21 – Rigatoni and Rigoletto
Uncle Bill opens his car door, gets out, and beckons both Will and me to him. I mop my entire tear-saturated face with the handkerchief, and blow my nose. He won”t want this handkerchief back!
Being on the same side of the car, I reach him first and he envelops me in a loving, comforting embrace. I cling to him and feel my years of frustrations and fears flow out. At last! Somebody knows! And he hasn”t abused or rejected me.
Will joins us in a 3-way hug. I can feel his apprehension and, at the same time, his love. Uncle Bill has his arms around our shoulders while we have our arms around his, and each other”s, waist.
Uncle Bill rubs my back, and Will”s. Will and I squeeze each other in comfort and encouragement. No words are spoken until a seagull looking for some tasty morsel, squawks close by. Uncle Bill says, “That reminds me, we”re having lunch. Let”s go!”
We clamber back into the car, only this time I sit behind Will where, leaning forward, I can reach his shoulders and the upper part of his chest, both of which I rub. He covers my hand with one of his own.
The wind in my hair and on my face help to dry my tears and I begin to feel… (how can I express it?) unburdened.
Will lifts his hand and gently interlaces his fingers with mine; periodically we squeeze each other”s hand. I ponder, `Here we are, Will and I, holding hands – in public, in the company of our dad. How wonderful this feels.”
Uncle Bill glances at us occasionally and smiles, then says, “You guys OK?”
I reply, “Yes, thank you. But, at the same time, I”m still feeling very vulnerable… `Shit scared!” actually, if you”ll pardon the expression.”
Will squeezes my hand and my eyes mist up again at the joy of his caring for me. I squeeze back and hold tight. “I”m not looking forward to what might lie ahead, but I”m so grateful for your support, Uncle Bill. Thank you, so, so much.”
Will adds, “For the supposedly mongrel-of-a-dad (according to my mum) that I never knew until last night, you”re a pretty cool guy! You know, I”d never even given much thought to my future, until I met Tom. I was only ever going to be a fatherless gay guy hiding away in a little village. Then all of that changed. And now, I”ve not only met my father, but he likes my paintings and is OK about me being gay and having his other son as my boyfriend.”
It doesn”t escape me that Will has innocently and openly disclosed two bits of information – admitting to somebody that he is gay, and telling his dad that he has a boyfriend – me! It”s interesting that he said `boyfriend” instead of `brother”.
My part in his life has changed dramatically. For months, I have been his teacher, and his housemate which progressed to his sexual playmate. Then, for a few hours I was his cousin and then his brother and lover. Now, I”m the `boyfriend”!
It dawns on me that the only thing that has changed, moving forward, is the `cousin” bit. I will forever be his brother and, hopefully his boyfriend and playmate and lover. And, if Uncle Bill doesn”t steal him away, I”m still going to be his teacher, at least for the remainder of this year.
The complications of this many-faceted relationship begin to hit home. How can I resolve this? How can WE resolve this? Can we rely on Marty”s support and secrecy? Or will he be jealous because, I suspect, that he wants to develop a relationship with me himself? Yet, he did say that he would be OK if Will and I wanted to `do stuff” together, didn”t he? And, what about Karl and Kurt? I”m sure that Karl wants Will, and it”s obvious that Kurt has taken a `liking” to me which, I”m beginning to admit to myself, is reciprocated. Will and I definitely need to discuss `us”, and those twins!
I can”t imagine that Anna, `Mum” O”Brien, Reg, Di and Jane would be too happy about Will and me `being together”. And I”m unsure about Marty”s brothers, Sean, the ambulance guy and Chad, the cop. And what would happen if Will”s mum, Lilly, were to `turn up” again? I”m definitely going to need Uncle Bill”s counsel on my life. Make that `WE…, on OUR lives”, Will and me – the brothers – the gay brothers – the gay teacher and his gay student/lover.
But there”s almost two weeks before we have to face the reality of life, and the people, back in The Village again. In the meantime, there will be some delightful distractions, not the least of which will be the steamy sex sessions at night. I start to bone up even at the thought of Will and I loving each other to sleep, exhausted.
And then there are our new surfer-dude friends…
Cute young Andy, about the same age as (or a touch older than) Karl and Kurt, who seems to be relatively na�ve, but perfectly capable of popping an adolescent woody and dealing with it.
White Speedo”d, `sand-in-the-arse” Joey, who reminds me of Jake in age and all his proportions but who seems far less inhibited.
And then there are Simon and Luke who seem to be relatively experienced sexually, at least with each other. They appear to be of similar age to Will; either a bit older or younger.
It will certainly be interesting getting to know them all better, and who knows where that might lead?
And last, but not least, there”s Sam at the motel on our way home. Another person with whom Will established an immediate sexual rapport. Sam, ordu escort who asked Will whether I would like to play computer games with both of them (I could willingly interpret that as a 3-way. LOL).
This time, it is the stopping of the car, rather than Will”s voice or Amelia”s snapping fingers that brings me back to the present.
“Here we are boys… Verdi”s, my favourite Italian restaurant around here. The owner, Giuseppe, is a great friend of mine. Have you heard of Giuseppe Verdi, Tom?”
Is this one of Uncle Bill”s trick questions? `Giuseppe Verdi”, indeed! I can play that game too.
I choose my words carefully. “Giuseppe Verdi… wasn”t he the composer of `Rigatoni” or does he specialise in cooking `Rigoletto Boscaiola”?”
Uncle Bill laughs, “Very funny! You”re smart, as well as good-looking… like me!”
Will looks puzzled and grunts out a `huh?”
Uncle Bill explains. “Will, Giuseppe Verdi was a famous Italian composer. One of his operas was called `Rigoletto”. However, `rigatoni” is a type of pasta and `boscaiola” is a creamy bacon and mushroom sauce. Tom swapped the opera and pasta names. He was joking!”
“Oh, OK,” is all that Will can muster, seemingly unimpressed by the humorous combination of culture and cuisine.
“Bongiorno, mi amico. Come stai?” comes from the rotund Italian dressed in black and white, complete with bow-tie.
“Bongiorno, Giuseppe. We are very well, thank you. I”d like you to meet my two sons, Tom and Will.”
He shakes our hands, bowing slightly in respect. “Ooh, I did not know, Signore Grant, that you have any children. And these are such handsome young men. Many girlfriends, I think! Luck boys! Lucky girls!” and he gives Will and me a wink.
Will and I force a polite smile and Uncle Bill cuts this discussion short. “A private booth, please, my friend.”
When we are settled with Will and I on one side of the booth and Uncle Bill opposite us, I say, “See! That”s everyone”s expectation of us, isn”t it? Boy plus girl! How do you think he would have reacted if I”d said to him, `actually, we are lovers”?”
“Are you?” Uncle Bill asks without any emotion in his voice or face, simply handing us a menu each.
I can”t believe that I”ve so readily just let the cat out of the bag! I feel the blood drain from my face, at the same time sympathising with Will for his previous faux pas! Some stuff just slips out!
I try to cover my tracks by saying, “Umm, it was just, umm, hypothetical!” My stumbling words are a dead giveaway that I”m lying.
“Really?” Uncle Bill raises his eyebrows. With my elbows resting on the table I drop my head into my hands
“Actually, Dad, yes, we are, and last night was the first time that we, umm, went all the way.” Will”s innocence is disarming and I am ashamed… that he has more courage than I do.
“Thank you, Will. Guys, I”ve pledged you both my total support. All that I ask in return is your honesty with me. I won”t pry into anything personal, but I”ll certainly be here to listen if you ever want to tell me anything or ask me any questions or for my advice.”
“I”m sorry, Dad, I mean, Uncle Bill. It”s hard to switch around so suddenly and not continue to be so sensitive and defensive about everything. “
“Tom, let me ask you just one question, if I may. When are you going to tell your Mum and Dad?”
There it is! The very heart of my anxiety! It”s hard to uncover my face and look at him directly. “I don”t know. I think Mum picked up on some stuff at breakfast and she has been looking at me strangely ever since. I can even feel her eyes boring into the back of my head when I”m not looking at her.”
“Well, I”m not surprised, considering the signals you two have been giving off!”
Will gives his Dad a full account of what happened at the breakfast table, culminating in his question about the need for a `couple” to be a boy plus a girl.
“You can”t avoid her for the next week and a half. You know that, don”t you? She”ll be keeping an eye on you like a hawk watches a mouse. Then, at the moment when you”re the most vulnerable, she”ll swoop!”
“What if I always have Sis or Will with me? What would she do then?” I realise that I sound like a little kid trying pathetically to negotiate a punishment for some major indiscretion.
“She”ll be even more suspicious, Tom! Your mother”s one smart cookie. She was always able to see through my brother and me – which is why she decided to marry him even though I asked her first. If you want my opinion…” He stops with an upwards inflexion, inviting me to actually ask for it.
“OK, Uncle Bill, what is your opinion of what I, umm, that is, we, should do?”
“Considering what you”ve told me, I think that she already `knows” in her own mind, and is now merely seeking confirmation. If I were you, I”d tell her, and clear the air. Otherwise you”ll be a nervous wreck by the end of the week – if you even last that long!
“Shit! I”m dead! She”ll hate me! So will Dad!”
Will cuts in, “It”s OK, Tom. We really need to do this. I”ll hold your hand while you tell her.” He reaches for my hand. His attempt at humour, and the brazenness of his suggestion at first annoys me and I pull away from him. Then I see the hurt look on his face. My heart melts. I extend my hand towards him and lay it palm-upwards on the table. He places his own palm gently on mine and our fingers interlock. He gives me a squeeze and we continue to hold hands, while the discussion continues.
“Would you like me to be there?” Uncle Bill calmly asks with concern in his voice.
I look at Will. “What do you think? Do you want to be there with me for the `fireworks”? And should we have Uncle Bill, I mean your dad, there too?” I”m aware that Will has a vested interest in Mum and Dad”s response, but I couldn”t bear him to be denigrated or humiliated by them in the process.
He replies, “Tom, I think we are going to face worse situations than telling your Mum and Dad. Let”s do it together, and get used to it – maybe it could be a rehearsal for telling Marty, which we WILL have to do, you know.”
“Bravo!” Uncle Bill says encouragingly, reaching across the table and laying his hand over ours. “And, would you like me to be there for moral support, or to lay a bit of groundwork for you?”
“What do you think, Tom?” Will asks. “You know how they”re likely to react better than I could even guess.”
I turn to Uncle Bill. “What do you mean by `groundwork”?”
“Well, I don”t exactly have a script prepared for the occasion!” he smiles. I can”t help but smirk back. “But, if you just trust me, I”ll try to `soften the blow” for you – but you”ll have to do the actual telling.”
Will squeezes my hand. Instead of squeezing back, I release my grip and wrap both arms around him, and hug him to me. I”m tempted to kiss him too, but I resist.
At that very moment I open my eyes, look up and see Mr Verdi standing beside us. How embarrassing! I release my embrace and pick up my menu, scanning it intently, as much as hiding behind it.
He appears not to want to intrude on our private moment so speaks directly to Uncle Bill, “My son, he likes one of his male cousins. They always hug osmaniye escort each other.” He turns to me and Will then he winks, “…And more. I think he gives me no grandchildren, but he is happy. And, if the bambino is happy, then the papa is happy.”
I am encouraged, and relax a little. “Could I have rigatoni with a boscaiola sauce, please, Mr Verdi.” How could I order anything else?
Uncle Bill explains the menu items to Will and they both order.
Uncle Bill adds, “Grazie, mi amico.”
Then he turns to us. “OK. When? It should be ASAP. The longer you leave it, the more miserable you”ll be, believe me! Best to get it over and done with! What about dinner tonight? I”ll invite myself – they”re used to me doing that.”
He gives me no time to have second thoughts or to back out. He takes out his mobile phone, rings Mum or Dad (I can”t tell which) and politely tells whomever it is that they will have the pleasure of his company again tonight.
Replacing the phone in his pocket he says, “Well, that”s tonight planned. Right now, let”s talk about Will”s future. But first, I really want to hear about his last 17 years.”
Will briefly relates his younger years, the isolation of The Village, his friends and then the pain of the `Little Willie” persona, in relation to the `Big Willie”. Uncle Bill laughs, “I”m usually talked about for my photographs rather than that. Does your mother still live there, in that little house?”
Will tells him of the fire and Lilly”s sudden `disappearance”. “That”s why I”m living with my cousin, Marty and with Tom. I”m so glad that Tom came along. The first time that I saw him I knew that we had some sort of connection. I just didn”t know what it was, or what it would be. And, how he spoke to me was so kind that his words even made me cry.”
“Who owned the house?” Uncle Bill asks Will. “Was it your mother”s? When I was there, she gave me the impression that it was just an old house that she was staying in because she didn”t want to live with any of her brothers or sisters.”
“I didn”t know that,” Will replies. “I always just assumed that it was hers.”
Uncle Bill takes out his smart phone and enters some text. “Hmm. Interesting!” is all that he says.
“OK. So, what do you want to do? Your talent is too amazing to hide it away. I still can”t believe that you”ve never had any formal training. You are a natural! But, maybe, training would destroy that uniqueness that I see in your work – the way that you are able to capture people”s expressions and your use of light and shade and colours is something that many art students never achieve. It”s hard enough to get it in a photograph, let alone a drawing or painting! I know people who will definitely want to see your work, and not just see it! I know some who will want you to exhibit it. You understand what I”m saying? They will want to organise exhibitions of your work in galleries throughout the country, perhaps even overseas, for everyone to see! I know that when people see it, you will be in great demand and they will want to buy your paintings and drawings. They could earn you a lot of money!”
Will looks shocked. Uncle Bill”s statement is packed with things I”m certain that Will had never considered. Nor had I.
Will deals with things separately. “Dad, I just draw and paint what I see, because I enjoy it. I never thought of selling my pictures. I don”t know if I could let other people have them. I have given away a couple as presents to some special people, like Marty”s mum and Tom”s parents, but that”s all. The rest are either here in my folder or back at Marty”s.”
“So, you still have the majority of your work? Marvellous! One option that I see is that I could organise some limited-edition prints, a specific number of high-quality copies. That would probably make the originals even more valuable – especially when you become famous. Let me look into it for you. I know the directors of all the major galleries in Australia, and many overseas. And the people that they know are the most well-connected of art buyers and agents. I won”t even have to do a `hard sell” on them once they see the uniqueness and quality of your work.”
I cannot believe what I”m hearing. The possibility of having a father who is himself a world-famous photographer, and also a little brother whom Uncle Bill considers will one day be an equally-famous artist, is difficult to comprehend. I suddenly feel very insignificant. So, what about me? What should I do? Take an art appreciation course?
Then Will continues, “How can I leave The Village? What about Tom? How can I leave him? Could he come with me? What will he do? How would we survive if Tom”s not teaching and nobody buys my pictures?”
And I think of Marty. He”s relying on me for the money that I pay him each month to stay there. How could I go with Will and turn my back on Marty? He”s been so good to me. Will also raises another issue that is on my mind…
“I also have some very special friends who would be lonely and miserable if I left. Karl and Kurt are sort-of like my own little brothers. They mean a lot to me.” Will smirks at me. “If they were unhappy, I think that it would be all my fault for leaving The Village and going somewhere else to get famous. And then there”s Jake. But, I suppose, he”d be OK.”
If Will went away with his dad, I”d be heart-broken, even though Marty and Kurt could fill a certain emptiness in my life. And if I was to leave now with Will and Uncle Bill, who would replace me as the school teacher, and what would they be like to my cherubs? And what would happen to Marty and the twins? And how would Will cope – a young gay boy with a very hetero dad? Would anybody try to make advances and take advantage of him? Could Will resist them, knowing his high libido? Why are such seemingly-good things so complicated? I express aloud my own concerns, adding to those already aired by Will.
Uncle Bill suggests, “Boys, why don”t I just do some homework on this, and leave you two to work through things between you? Let”s not do anything to upset your lives until, perhaps, the end of the year. In the meantime, we can plan everything that we could, and might want to, do.”
Will”s face broadens into a beaming smile that is matched by my own. We”ll still be together and we won”t have to leave the guys in The Village! We hug excitedly just as, wouldn”t you know it, Mr Verdi returns with our meals.
Setting down our plates he wishes us `Buon appetito”, then addresses Uncle Bill, “Signore Grant, your sons look happy together. They are very lucky boys!” then he whisks himself away.
Over a sumptuous lunch with many side dishes, there is much discussion of Uncle Bill”s travels, work and contacts. He hints at his significant wealth and assures us of his total support in our (uncertain and complicated) future lives. He wisely avoids any discussion of his love life, which might inevitably have included Will”s mother. I ponder whether Will and I are his only children.
It”s well into the afternoon when we leave, after too much coffee and the sampling of many delicious Italian desserts. The tiramisu and cannoli were my favourites. I wonder ostim escort if Jake could add these to his cooking repertoire – after he masters custard tarts, of course!
On the way home, Uncle Bill discusses a brief strategy – get Mum and Dad by themselves and get it over and done with before dinner. There will be just the five of us – Amelia is not invited to listen in!
We pull up outside the house and I am trembling at the thought of what is about to take place. I feel hot and cold at the same time. My hands are clammy and my heart is beating faster than usual – pounding actually. I can feel it in my neck and my temples.
As we head up to the front door, Uncle Bill gives me a quick, reassuring, one-armed hug around the shoulders. “It”ll be OK, Tom. If either of them picks up a kitchen knife, they”ll have to deal with me first. I”ve had fencing lessons, you know!”
“Very funny,” I blurt out, half laughing and half crying, but thankful for a break in the tension, even if it is only in my mind. I feel Will”s fingers slip into mine. He gives my hand a squeeze and then releases me as we enter the house.
Mum and Dad are in the lounge. Amelia is peeling vegetables in the kitchen. “Perfect!” Uncle Bill whispers to us. Then he says, “Susan, Harry, can we talk for a bit – maybe up in your study?”
Mum looks at Will and me, seriously, then inquisitively at Uncle Bill. Dad must know his brother well enough by now not to ask `Why?”, and simply says, “Sure, Bill.”
He walks past us and heads up the stairs. Mum follows, calling, “Amelia, honey, when you”ve finished with the potatoes, could you please also do some pumpkin?” Will and I follow Uncle Bill.
There are only 3 chairs in the study – Dad”s office chair behind his desk and two solid leather armchairs. Mum sits behind the desk. Uncle Bill and I each sit in one of the armchairs. Will positions himself next to me on one of the thick, padded arms. Dad leans his backside against the front of the desk, half-sitting.
“So, what”s up? Why the family meeting, Bill?” Dad starts. Mum is staring directly at me, but glancing to Uncle Bill and Will on either side of me. I know that she”s gonna disown me!
“We had a great lunch at Verdi”s, so I think I won”t be as hungry tonight as I usually am.” Uncle Bill jokes. That brings nothing but a nod from Dad and grunts of agreement from Will and me. OMG! I feel sick! The tension is incredible. He continues, “We talked a lot about Will”s background and especially his future.”
The expressions on Mum”s and Dad”s faces beg curiously why a private meeting is necessary to talk about Will, their nephew. They glance at him.
Uncle Bill adds, “But, it”s a little complicated.” Am I sweating? I know that I need to pee… badly! He goes on, “There are some things that the boys want you to know that affect both of them.”
I feel Mum”s stare intensify which has the effect of tightening the knots in my stomach. There is silence. This is the moment! Uncle Bill reaches across and pats my arm, both as a sign of support and a signal to start talking. I feel Will”s hand slide down and rest on my back. I gear myself up for it mentally, “Don”t cry, Thomas. Don”t be a wimp! Just tell them! Now! 3-2-1-…
Amazingly, I recall Mr Verdi”s words about his son. I think, `Thank you, God, for my memory today!” I take a deep breath and start, “Mum, Dad, there”s something that I need to tell you…” My mouth is so dry that it”s difficult to speak. I clear my throat and gulp. “I know that you”ll be disappointed, but I need to tell you that… I won”t be able to… give you any grandchildren.” The latter words are rushed out.
It”s easier to look at Dad”s face than at Mum, but she speaks first. “Why, Thomas? Are you sick? What”s wrong?”
Dad adds, “I hope you haven”t suffered an accident, like I did at your age.” This comment is mainly for Will”s benefit, I think, because of the story we concocted about my conception.
However, that gives me a cue to follow. “Dad, the only accident here seems to be one of nature. What it is, is… I”m not attracted to anyone who would…, to anyone who could…, to anyone who might… Aargh! Hell, Dad! I”m just not attracted to women.” Dad”s eyes widen and he stares as my utterance impacts his mind. The squinty expression on Mum”s face, even without words, tells me, `I knew it! You”re gay!”
I need to say something to break the silence and the tension but, once again, Will beats me to it. “Me either!” Mum and Dad turn their attention suddenly to him and look shocked. I can see the wheels turning in their minds, connecting the two of us, joining the dots; two gay boys, sleeping in their house… in the same bed, and doing who-knows-what!
Uncle Bill pours some oil on troubled waters. “Harry, Susan, it took a lot of courage for you to share some of your personal information with Thomas yesterday, but I believe that it”s taken him even greater nerve to share this with you, today. Wouldn”t you think so? Is any of us without sin, to cast the first stone?”
Dad moves off the desk towards me. Is he going to punch my lights out, then attack Will? As I cringe a little, he offers me both of his hands and helps me to stand. He envelops me in a tight, loving embrace. I burst into tears and cry out, “Dad, I”m gay. I”m sorry. Please don”t hate me!”
He quietly replies, “Grandchildren aren”t all they”re cracked up to be!” Then he adds, “Son, I don”t hate you. I love you.” He releases one arm from me and indicates for Will to join us.
Will”s stoicism suddenly leaves him. “And I love you too!” he cries as he throws both arms around my neck and begins to sob. Dad puts his arm around Will”s back to comfort him.
“It”s all right, boys. I”m not angry or hateful. Thank you for telling us. This must have been incredibly hard for you both.”
Mum eases herself out of the chair and heads for Uncle Bill. “Thank you, Bill,” is all that she says, hugging him. Then she joins the three of us. She manages to peel Will off me and hugs him, and kisses him. “Will, darling, welcome to the family,” she says in a line reminiscent of a mother having just been introduced to her son”s fianc�e. She offers her handkerchief and Will dries his face.
“Thank you, Aunty Susan, for not hating Tom, and not hating me.”
Mum replies, “I was right at breakfast, wasn”t I? And so were you – one doesn”t need to be a boy and one a girl. I could see it in your eyes.”
Uncle Bill says, “Let”s talk later. Amelia will be wondering what”s going on up here. If she asks any questions, let me do the talking, OK? And let”s give the boys some time to compose themselves before they come down. I hug him. So does Will.
They close the door behind them, leaving Will and me in each other”s arms, smiling and trying desperately hard not to continue crying. Will gently dabs my face with Mum”s handkerchief, mingling my tears with his own.
“I love you,” is all that is said.
(to be continued)
There is a parallel version to this story, told through the eyes of Kurt.
Find it at https://www.//gay/adult-youth/kurt-series/
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