A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

The two boys make plans for the next day


There was friction in the tent as night fell and the August moon sought a way through the tent flap to enable the two boys to see the shadows of each other. And Ricky didn’t know why there was any friction. After all, he was Taylor’s best friend, wasn’t he? Maybe, he thought a tad spitefully, maybe Taylor’s only friend. In the end, with the enduring silence too tangible for him, he had to contribute to the friction. There was little else for him to do.

It’s not that girl that’s got at you, is it?” he asked.

Taylor was in no mood for idle chatter because it was that girl.

What girl?” he asked.

You know,” responded Ricky.

You won’t understand,” Taylor told him, “you’re not into girls!”

What are you trying to say?” In the darkness Ricky couldn’t help blushing because he had a dark secret and didn’t know what to do about it. And Taylor was right. He wasn’t into girls. It wasn’t that he didn’t like them, some were really very nice, some helped him with his homework if they thought he needed help … Amelia was good for that, and he didn’t think she asked for anything in return. But there was other stuff that some of the lads bragged about that horrified him. Stuff he knew he would never want to have anything to do with. Stuff that to his mind just wasn’t natural.

Nothing,” grunted Taylor, though deep down he knew that he was really trying to say something. He, Ricky, as well as all the lads at school were fifteen and rumours went around, rumours about this, that, the other and most importantly of the way Ricky hung around in the changing room after games. Like he was curious. Like a mirror wasn’t good enough for him but he wanted to see what other lads looked like after a shower, when they were still wet, dripping hair, shining faces with the mud of the rugby field washed off. Like something was very wrong with him.

It’s not true,” mumbled Ricky, lying because that was all circumstances had left for him to do. “I don’t … I’m not … queer.”

There is was, out in the open. He had a new Raleigh and he wasn’t queer. And yet he’d barely spotted the girl who was sending his mate Taylor dizzy even though she’d gone back to where she belonged and nobody even knew her name.

I never said you were!” snapped Taylor, knowing that thinking something isn’t the same as saying it.

What’s up, then?”

It was that gorgeous girl,” sighed Taylor. “You must have noticed, that hair, her tennis dress and the way it hung on her, those lips just begging to be kissed, and mostly her eyes, her beautiful dark brown eyes… and when she came near to take the photo, the smell of her, the roses and bright yellow flowers smell of her!”

Ricky almost snorted. “I must have been looking the other way,” he said, shortly, “you know, when she was pointing the camera, I was making sure that nothing got in the way, things can get in the way when you’re taking photographs and you said there were only twelve exposures on the film, it would be rotten to waste one because something got in the way...”

Sure,” sighed Taylor and he wondered if he dared take his trousers off because it had been a tiring day and he wanted to climb into his sleeping bag. It wasn’t nice, wondering where Ricky’s eyes might find themselves if he took his trousers off. But he’d have to watch things because some people smirked when they talked about Ricky.

I’m going for a wee,” Ricky told him. “Then I think I’ll get into my bag when I get back. We’ve pedalled a long way today and Im shattered.”

Right,” said Taylor, and he swiftly stripped off while Ricky was splashing in the hedgerow. “Be careful that nobody sees,” he added mischievously, “there might be some girls around!”

I’m not a show-off!” retorted Ricky as he returned to the tent, “you have to be careful when you go,” he added, “there’s stinging nettles waiting to stab you.”

What are we doing tomorrow?” asked Taylor when they had both pulled themselves into their sleeping bags and a kind of easiness had replaced the tension of earlier.

There’s a small boating lake,” said Ricky, “with two-man rowing boats that can be hired. We could go for a row and see what there is to see.”

As long as we don’t end up in the sea!” joked Taylor, but Ricky’s mind was elsewhere.

I don’t want you to think I’m a wuss, but I’ve never been totally happy with water,” he admitted. “My dad drowned, you know. One day he was the famous man overboard that sailors shout about, and he wasn’t even a sailor, just a passenger on a river boat..

Your dad?” asked Taylor, “isn’t that your dad who bought you your new bike?”

My Raleigh? No, that’s my step dad. My mum was all forlorn and lonesome, she says, and she found him and married him because she said she needs a man about the house and I was only four when my real dad drowned.”

Oh. I didn’t know.”

So if we go for a row in a boat we’ll have to be careful,” sighed Ricky, “I don’t want to follow my old man into Davy Jones’ locker!”

He seems okay, your step dad,” ventured Taylor.

Mum likes him, sometimes I reckon she likes him too much. The way she is with him has put me off women for life!” muttered Ricky, “I’ve caught them at it more then once when they’ve thought I was out. They do it everywhere. The kitchen table, the sideboard, various bedrooms, even on the back lawn under the sun...”

They do? Do what?” asked Taylor who honestly hadn’t a clue what his friend was talking about.

Sex,” grated Ricky, almost savagely, “and they’re dirty with it! That’s why I’m careful when I’m anywhere near water. I wish my real dad hadn’t drowned. I wish he was still alive and with us. But he isn’t and his death has put me off women for life!”

I suppose it does explain things...” ventured Taylor, “I mean, you not falling head over heels when that girl took the photo of us… she was gorgeous, you know, and we’ll probably never see her again. Gone, she has, like a dream in the night… But she’s left a shadow of her loveliness on my heart...”

Aw, shut up, Taylor. You sound like a flipping poem!” giggled Ricky, “are we better now, you and me?”

We always were, silly. It was only me mourning for the loss of a girl I never knew.”

I tell you what. We’ll take a boat out on that small lake and you can pose until your heart’s content around as many girls as we see. Let them think you’re a great sailor, a seafaring champion. But don’t rock the boat and make me fall overboard!”

© Peter Rogerson 06.08.19

© 2019 Peter Rogerson

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Added on August 6, 2019
Last Updated on August 6, 2019
Tags: photograph, plans, drowning, death, step-feather


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..