Jon and Kit Stories
4: Friday…part one
Cycling along the canal towpath Kit locked his mind in tactile gear, concentrating on the sound of the wheels turning, the whir of pedals, the breeze as it lifted his hair and moulded itself around his body, the green-brown rush of scenery, the intermittent sweet scent of dog rose, the flash of quicksilver sunlight on brown-green water, the satisfying trickle of sweat down his spine as he covered distance at speed under a hot blanket of sky.
Hedgerow suddenly opened up into wider space as he came to a lock and he recklessly dismounted, tipping the bike sideways and letting it slide from under him. Leaving it on the canal bank, its back wheel still spinning, he went into the Lockkeepers Arms to get himself some refreshment.
The pub interior was pleasantly cool and dim. Kit carried a pint of cider to a corner table, sat down and downed the top half of it in one long appreciative gulp. Thirst quenched he set the glass down and wiped a satisfied hand across his mouth discreetly catching a belch at the same time, drinking cider with haste built up air bubbles. He sipped the second half of his pint more decorously letting his attentions wander lazily around the pub. Being early in the evening it was relatively quiet. It would gradually fill up as people made the most of the fine weather and came out after work to enjoy a drink, maybe a meal while watching the holiday narrow boats cruise the waterway.
He, Jon and Colin had often talked about hiring a canal boat for a week, but it had never transpired, one thing after another getting in the way of practical fulfilment of the Jerome K Jerome idea of three men in a boat. Kit smiled as the book sprang to mind, he was more a fan of fantasy comic books than of literature per se, but he’d enjoyed the JKJ tale when Jon had read it to him as a form of distraction when he lay miserably ill with flu in the winter. He’d been captured by the humour and fresh style of the book, hardly able to believe that it had been penned back in the nineteenth century. Unlike Jon and Colin he wasn’t particularly well read having spent most of his schooldays simply surviving the experience of being a schoolboy. His teachers had consequently written him off as a daydreamer with little academic ability. If he’d spent less energy fighting acute self-consciousness he would have done better at his studies and maybe left school with worthwhile qualifications. Instead he’d done the minimum and opted to escape academia at the earliest opportunity.
Both Jon and Colin said there was nothing wrong with his intellect, all he lacked was confidence in himself, with Jon adding in private that his lack of confidence was backed up by a fair dose of what the narrator in three men in a boat claimed as liverishness, but which in fact was a good dose of laziness, a vice that earned the narrator the odd curative clump to the side of the head. In Kit’s case the curative clump to the head was replaced by a slap to the backside.
Picking up his pint he wandered over to the jukebox, setting his drink on top of it and viewing the eclectic array of music up for hire. He selected Golden Brown by The Stranglers because he liked the amalgamation of words that made little sense with music that played evocatively on the senses, so that all in all they had a kind of emotional clarity. There was also a line in the song about being tied to a ship mast that turned his knees to water. Being tied to a ship mast was something that featured regularly in more than one of Kit’s sex fantasies along with dominant Captains and a sprinkling of rough pirates who threatened unspeakable depravities against his helpless body before the dominant Captain came to his rescue. Punishment for having gotten himself in a position of danger was followed by consensual depravities of a deeply satisfying nature. He gave a small sigh of artistic frustration, if only he could draw. It would make a great fantasy comic strip of the pornographic kind.
Kit suddenly twigged that he had become an object of interest to three girls who were sharing a table on the other side of the room. They kept glancing at him and then talking amongst themselves and giggling. A flush of mortification spread from his toes to the tips of his ears. Why did girls always have to giggle like that? It was unnerving. It made you wonder whether you had a speech bubble above your head and they were reading your inner thoughts and viewing your perverted fantasies. Either that or your fly was open and as a result of the perverted fantasies your periscope was up and showing.
Jon said women found him attractive, but Kit didn’t believe it, he wanted to, everyone wants to be attractive, even if not attracted back to the one attracted to you. It’s pure human vanity. He didn’t feel attractive though. His interior view of himself never tallied with the exterior view of others, except Jon’s. Only when Jon told him he was beautiful did he believe it. He knew for certain that he was beautiful to Jon, just as Jon was beautiful to him; it was an aspect of their mutual trust. Outside of his relationship Kit’s self image would always be of an awkwardly shy, slightly overweight youth with bad acne, someone who suffered a daily round of derision, not least from his brother who had always found him lacking in every respect. Simon had been dealt all the ace cards and didn’t he know it. He had it all, looks, intellect, confidence. Never mind that Kit’s skin, aside from the odd pock scar was now clear and while he’d never be skinny, regular cycling and running, at least until his knee trouble flared up, had given an athletic firmness to his body. He felt a flash of pride. Jon said he had great legs and a drop dead sexy arse.
The girls sly attention became too much. Quickly finishing his cider he took his glass to the bar and had it refilled, taking it outside to drink, tightening in his already flat stomach as he passed the giggling girls in case they were making mockery of his figure. Old habits die hard.
After berthing his bike more appropriately Kit found a quiet spot in the shade of a tall hedge and sat cross-legged on the prickly sun dried grass to drink his cider. He hadn’t really meant to buy another one. He shouldn’t have bought any at all in the circumstances, but the rebellious first once bought and drank weakened his resolve and led to the buying of the second. If Jon smelled alcohol on his breath he’d be in real trouble. The cheeks of his drop dead sexy arse would be blushing as a result of something entirely the opposite of spousal admiration. He would have to make sure and gargle with TCP when he got home. Its pervading scent masked a multitude of culinary sins from garlic to alcohol.
Thoughts of Jon caused the last vestiges of the exhilaration he’d felt as he cycled furiously along the canal bank to wane. It was replaced by a depression rooted in guilt as well as resentful self-pity. He picked at the grass wishing he were at home in bed, where he was supposed to be. He was being unfaithful to his relationship and it rested uneasily with him.
His knee began nagging along with his conscience, telling him that he’d been a bloody fool for not putting on his patella brace. It would only have taken a minute to do. Straightening out his legs he gently massaged his right knee, grimacing as he did so. Neglecting to wear the support was another thing that Jon would skin him for if he found out about it. That was probably the reason he’d done it, another rule defiantly broken in order to satisfy his anger over what had happened the night before. Work had been miserable because of it. Diane had ignored him all day, bitch that she was. Jon was right about her, she took a lend of him and it wasn’t fair. Still, he plucked another handful of grass crumbling the dry blades between his fingers; he would have looked after the rabbit kits gladly, even if it weren’t his job to do so.
The moment he walked into work Diane had taken a perverse pleasure in telling him that two of the kits had died, knowing how much it would upset him. He always got upset when animals died. He’d been angry, blaming Jon, imagining that if he’d had care of them none would have died, but of course that was absolute nonsense, not to mention vanity and wishful thinking. Hand rearing newborn rabbits was a tricky business even for someone with experience. A good percentage nearly always perished, especially if the litter was a big one.
The kits mother had died shortly after giving birth to a sixth baby and her distressed owners had brought them into the vet’s surgery, not knowing what else to do with them. Tanya, the vet, had managed to track down a rehabber experienced in the arduous task of hand weaning orphaned small animals, but she was unable to take them until Friday afternoon, which meant the kits needed to be cared for in the meantime. Strictly speaking it was Diane’s job as veterinary nurse to undertake the feeding and care of the bunnies overnight. Kit wasn’t trained. He had no qualifications. He was merely the receptionist and general assistant at the vet’s surgery.
Diane, who had social plans, wasn’t too suited at the prospect of staying in the surgery overnight doing two hourly feeds on the incubated babies. Usually jealous of her professional role and unwilling to share her skills with the lowly assistant she went out of her way to show him the procedure for handling and feeding the tiny creatures. Before he knew it, Kit had agreed to care for the tiny namesakes, which meant bedding down in the surgery care room overnight.
“Hurry it up, Sam, move your lazy arse!”
Kit started, his stomach knotting unpleasantly, as the name sprang at him through the warm evening air. He looked up. Thank God, he released his stomach muscles. It wasn’t ‘the Sam.’ He watched as a good-looking young man jumped from the canal boat that he hadn’t notice approach the lock. The man’s pretty looks were slightly marred by a sulky droop to his mouth. He obviously wasn’t keen on the thought of manual labour…opening the lock required some effort. If Colin were here he would have gone over to lend a hand, dragging Kit with him and engaging in easy banter with the ship’s crew.
There were four male occupants on the canal boat. Kit studied them, instinct and insight telling him that they were gay couples or possibly even casual four way fuck mates, not everyone was into neat domestic pairings. Boating was the kind of holiday that seemed to appeal to a gay clientele, the boat offering a more enclosed and exclusive kind of privacy than a hotel. An older man disembarked and after the exchange of a few words the younger one’s sulky look vanished. He got back on the boat with a decidedly lighter step than he’d gotten off it, leaving the older man to help open the lock. It was easy to read that relationship: spoiled toy boy of older lover.
Kit suddenly wondered if people looked at him and judged him to be the spoilt young partner of an indulgent older lover. They’d be wrong. He scowled. Jon was not the type to indulge or spoil, not often anyway. Colin had been apt to spoil Sam though. It just proved that judging on appearances wasn’t a safe practice. He would never have believed that Colin would fall for a butterfly type like Sam, but fallen he had and fallen heavily. He forced away an image of Colin’s face, as he gently handled the ridiculous teddy bear that had belonged to Sam. After checking his watch he got to his feet and headed back into the pub, leaving the gay mariners to their own affairs.
copyright Cat/Fabian Black 2010