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The Seventeenth Summer (Ch 4)

A time for sun, surf and self-discovery . . .

By Mark 'Ponyboy' PetersPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 13 min read
Original image by Janan Lagerwall on

Chapter 4

The boys enjoyed their morning with Jake, who produced the promised beers, which he and Nate sipped, while Danny selected a Coca-Cola. They were given a good look at the car, got to stick their head under the bonnet and inspect the 253v-8 motor and all its chromed bits and bobs, sit behind the wheel in the soft bucket seats with the motor purring, then put their foot down hard on the accelerator, which deafened them. The plumes of dust billowing out from behind the van, obviously churned up by the twin downward curved chrome exhausts, was icing on the cake.

Nate and Danny could tell that Jake was certainly proud of his wheels, keeping it in immaculate order, but they could also see that he was happy seeing someone else get some enjoyment from it as well. Vehicles like this were built to serve a purpose, but they were also made to be enjoyed, and judging by the looks on Jake’s his new friends’ faces, he could see that they were certainly enjoying it.

When Jake opened the door at the rear of the van, with half folding up and half folding down, Danny was gob-smacked by just what the vehicle contained.

They hadn’t been able to see what was in the back when they were sitting in the front, as there was a heavy purple curtain hanging behind the front seats, but when the doors opened they couldn’t believe how much was packed into what they thought wasn’t a very large space. There were racks containing Jake’s paintings, along with cupboards containing all his supplies, several metal trunks, a suitcase filled with clothes, and still enough room to stack Jake’s bedroll and the gear he had under the canvas cover which kept him dry.

‘I can squeeze a fair bit in here, but if I want to cart anything else around with me it looks like I’ll have to get a trailer of some sort . . . but that just wouldn’t look cool behind the beast, or at least I don’t think it would.’

‘No, definitely not,’ Nate agreed, as Jake unclipped a lock and pulled out one compartment of the racks which contained Jake’s artworks.

Immediately the boys were taken aback by the splashes of colour they could see on the first canvas to come into view.

‘I promised you I would show them to you,’ Jake said. ‘What do you think of this one?’

It was a vibrant beach scene, done in a style all of its own. There were blues and reds and greens, interspersed with splashes of bright yellow. The palm trees and the people, the waves and the beach and the ocean, they all seemed to jump out from the canvas.

Jake put that canvas aside and pulled out another one, which was equally vibrant and exciting, and then another.

‘Oh, wow!’ was all Danny could say. ‘These are fantastic.’

‘Thank you, my young friend. I’m actually quite proud of some of these . . . but there are still a few in there that I think I need to burn.’

The next painting to be produced was a nude portrait of a young man lounging on a beach, spread out and propped up on one elbow, his flaccid penis hanging loose across the top of one thigh, while he was shading his eyes from the sun with one hand.

The style was totally different to the other paintings, and while Nate could only giggle at the sight of it, Danny felt his throat go dry and the blood rush to his cheeks . . . and other extremities. He thought the painting was simply stunning.

‘What do you think of that one?’ Jake asked the boys.

‘I sure hope he had some sunscreen on,’ Nate giggled.

‘I painted it from a photo I took. His name is Phillip.’

‘One of your boyfriends?’ Nat enquired.

‘Just a friend.’

‘You seem to have a lot of those,’ smirked Nate.

Jake ignored the little dig, instead he turned his attention back toward Danny. ‘So, what do you think of it?’

‘I . . . I don’t really know what to say,’ Danny answered. ‘I’ve n-never seen anything like it before.’

‘But do you like it?’ Jake insisted.

‘Yeah, I do,’ Danny replied. ‘It’s just so . . . so real.’

‘Thank you.’

‘If you take photos of naked guys, where do you get them done?’ Nate enquired. ‘Isn’t it embarrassing, or even against the law or something, going into a photo shop with them?’

‘There are places where you can get them done easily enough,’ Jake replied.

‘I just bet there is.’

‘What’s wrong? Do you have something against naked people? You were born that way, remember?’

‘Yeah, but we get covered over for a reason, don’t we?’

‘But why? The human body is something that can be just so beautiful . . . especially while we’re in our younger years . . . so why should we hide it all the time?’

‘Well, you’re obviously not afraid to let it all hang out,’ Nate shot back.

‘And nor should you be! I don’t want you to think I’m a dirty old perv or anything, and I’m certainly not going to hit on you . . . a guy could get in trouble for that . . . but you’re a good looking guy, Nate; you shouldn’t be afraid to be seen in your birthday suit . . . you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.’

‘No, he hasn’t!’ Danny butted in, chuckling as he said it. ‘We’ve all been skinny dipping together,’ he added, earning himself a reproachful glare from Nate.

‘Well, there you go. Maybe it’s just around strangers that you’re bashful?’

‘It’s okay . . . I think I’ll just keep my shorts on,’ Nate grinned at him.

‘Well, suite yourself . . . I guess it’s not for everyone. Maybe you just need some more practice?’

‘We’ll see,’ said Nate.

‘So, guys, what do you think of the idea of me trying to sell some of these paintings around here? Like setting up a stall at some markets or something . . . you do have those around here, don’t you?’ Jake asked.

‘That sounds like a good idea,’ said Danny.

‘Yeah, they have a market for crafts and vegetables and stuff every month,’ added Nate. ‘I think the next one might even be next weekend, before Christmas, so maybe you could try it.’

‘That’s great to know. I’ll have to try and find out about it then . . . it has worked for me in some other places and I usually put all the money from what I sell into a special bank account so I have some for later. It’s not much, but it’ll all add up.’

‘That’s smart thinking,’ Danny replied.

‘It might even give me some present money for when I go home to the folks over Christmas,’ Jake added. ‘Now, Danny, did you bring some of your other works out to show me?’

‘Yeah, I grabbed a couple of my sketch books,’ Danny said. ‘They’re in my backpack.’

‘Well, then, lead on my man. Let us see what delights you have created.’

Danny and Nate both chuckled. There was something about the way that Jake sometimes spoke which was different to what they were accustomed to out here in the sticks. They liked it, even if they didn’t quite understand it. They figured it was probably something to do with the way he was brought up and the fact he went to a toff school.

The three of them headed once more for the canvas shelter, but not before Jake returned his paintings to the safety of the van, then pulled out a large portfolio with a zipper which ran around three edges. When they settled back down Danny opened his backpack and pulled two sketch pads from it, then handed them to Jake.

‘They’re not very good,’ Danny said, rather modestly, as Jake flipped the top pad open.

‘Says who?’ Jake remarked.

‘He’s always saying things like that,’ Nate interjected. ‘Even our art teacher tells him he’s better than everyone else in our class, so you’d think that would count for something.’

‘Well, your art teacher is right. You should consider making art your career,’ Jake enthused. ‘There are lots of commercial options for talented artists that you could possibly consider.’

Danny felt himself blushing once more. Being praised wasn’t exactly something he was used to . . . and if he was being perfectly honest, it was actually something which embarrassed him, even if he was beginning to like the sound of it.

‘How about painting?’ Danny heard Jake ask. ‘Do you do much of that?’

‘A little,’ Danny replied. ‘I like using acrylics, but there are some water colours in the back of the other pad . . . I was just experimenting with adding some washes to the drawings.’

Quickly Jake closed the first pad and started shuffling through the second one, pausing every now and then to study one or another, to look at Danny and raise an eyebrow, before flipping on to the next.

‘See . . . I told you he would like these too,’ Nate whispered.

‘Yeah, I like them very much,’ Jake said. ‘Some could do with a few little finishing touches . . . but overall they are really good.’

‘Thank you,’ Danny mumbled. ‘What sort of finishing touches do you think they need?’

‘Only minor things really. How about I give you a hand fixing a few up?’ Jake suggested.

‘Would you?’

‘Yeah, of course. It’d be my pleasure,’ Jake replied.

‘Okay then, if you two are going to get all arty-farty in here, I’m going for a swim,’ Nate declared, as he stood up and stripped off his t-shirt, revealing a body that was nicely tanned and toned, which certainly didn’t go un-noticed.

Danny looked up at him and grinned. ‘Why don’t you leave your shorts behind too?’ he cheekily suggested.

‘Fuck you!’ Nate spat, but the grin that followed quickly put paid to any suggestion of there being tension in the air.

The others watched, grinning, as Nate headed outside, before turning their attention back to Danny’s sketch book.

‘How about I grab my water colours and we have a bit of a play with one or two of these?’ Jake suggested.

‘Ummm . . . okay.’

‘Just give me a minute then and I’ll grab my gear.’


When Jake left him and went outside Danny looked once more at some of his water colours, trying to figure out what it was that Jake had been referring to, but despite looking over each of them several times he still couldn’t figure out what he had meant.

A few moments later Jake returned, sporting a grin as wide as could be and carrying out in front of him a pair of blue shorts.

‘These aren’t yours, I take it?’

Danny looked up and smiled. ‘That sly dog! Where were they?’

‘Lying across the bonnet of the van.’

‘He’ll be pissed when he gets back and they aren’t there.’

‘Quite possibly,’ Jake said, chuckling as he did so. ‘Now, I have my paints, so how about we get to work?’

‘Okay then.’

For the next hour or so they went through Danny’s sketch book and took a good look at each of the sketches that he had coloured. Jake pointed out the little things that he thought could have been touched up, which were almost exclusively things like shadows and shading, which would give the finished paintings much more depth. Together they worked on some of the existing ones and touched these up, sitting side by side, their knees and shoulders rubbing together, with neither wanting to move away.

Every now and then they would glance up at each other and smile.

For Danny this was a first . . . he had never worked so closely with someone, while feeling such a connection with them, as the butterflies in his stomach seemed to be multiplying and his palms were growing damp. And for Jake it was almost the same. He was seeing Danny not as a boy, but an attractive and talented young man, and one that he too was feeling a connection with.

He was also fully aware that Danny was young and impressionable, and so he knew he had to tread carefully, lest it might be seen as something other than a genuine attraction.

As they began working on another sketch, with Danny beginning to colour the sand of the beach, Jake reached forward and closed his hand over that of Danny’s, the one which at this moment held a paint brush.

‘You don’t have to be so gentle,’ Jake instructed, as he gently shook Danny’s hand, making the brush jump around on the paper. ‘Make it a bit rough if you like . . . it adds a little depth and character to the scene . . . see!’

Danny glanced up at Jake’s face, but all he could see was Jake studying what he was doing, with his hand still holding that of Danny’s. When Danny looked back at the painting he could see exactly what Jake had meant, but he wasn’t thinking about that though, he was thinking about the hand that was holding his . . . the hand he didn’t want to pull away from, the hand he didn’t want to let go of him. He liked the feel of it and the feelings it gave him.

‘So, does he know about you?’ Jake asked quietly.

‘About what?’

‘About your liking guys . . .’

Danny looked up suddenly at his new mentor. Ordinarily he would have been petrified of someone knowing this, or of ever admitting it to anyone, but with Jake things felt different.

‘H-h-how did you know?’ was all that Danny could think of saying.

‘Guess it takes one to know one,’ Jake replied with a smile.

Danny smiled back. For some reason it felt good, now that someone else knew, that he had been able to share his secret, almost as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

‘I . . . I had a feeling that you would know,’ Danny eventually said. ‘I thought that if ever anyone found out I would just . . .’

‘Just what? Want to curl up and die?’

‘Yeah, something like that.’

‘Yeah, I’ve been there,’ Jake replied. ‘But it’s so much easier when you know that there are others like you . . . not to mention what it is like being able to share the feelings that come with keeping it a secret for so long, of having to hold that inside with a fear of anyone ever finding it out.’

Suddenly Danny looked down at his hand, which was still being held by Jake’s.

‘Yeah,’ Danny said, as he studied the soft hands of Jake, which had splashes of paint here and there, while wondering what it might feel like to have those hands touch him in other places.

He moved his thumb and let it brush over Jake’s thumb, just a gentle touch, but one that he hoped would be a signal to Jake that he felt comfortable with what was happening . . . even if his heart was suddenly pumping at a rate never before attained.

‘I thought I would be petrified of telling anyone, or of anyone ever finding out . . . especially someone like Nate, or the other guys . . . but with you it’s different.’

Jake let his thumb brush over Danny’s also. His own heart skipped a beat when the younger boy smiled up at him. He wanted this kid to like him, just as he was beginning to like Danny. This was something totally different to his usual connections and the people he met with. With those it was purely sexual, but right here and right now, Jake was feeling a connection of a totally different kind. He felt that Danny was someone with whom he could share so much more, if only they could have the chance to get to know each other better, and the more he gazed into the handsome young face that was looking back at him, the more he wanted them both to have that chance.

‘You know, it’s not easy being like we are,’ Jake whispered. ‘Especially when there is no one else to talk to. I’ve been through all that . . . I live through that every day . . .’

‘Maybe if you hang around here for a while it won’t be like that . . .’

‘I think I’d like to do that, but I don’t know if I can, Danny. I have plans. I want to see the country. I want to paint it, and photograph it, and I want to meet all of its people.’

‘So you’ve got it all worked out then?’

‘Not all of it,’ Jake replied. ‘But I do know what I want to do with my life . . . at least for the next couple of years . . . unless something else comes up.’

‘Something like what?’

‘Oh . . . I don’t know . . . maybe something like meeting someone special who I want to spend some time with. Maybe then I could change my plans.’

Danny smiled up at him once more. For the first time in his life he saw in his own mind what it was that he too wanted to do, but more than that, he felt a connection with someone who could possibly be more than just another friend. Those thoughts scared him, yet at the same time they excited him in a way that he wouldn’t have been able to explain had anyone asked.

‘Can I ask you something, Danny?’

‘I . . . I guess . . .’

‘Have you ever been kissed by another guy?’

Ever so slowly, Danny shook his head, while carefully watching Jake.

‘Would you mind if I kissed you?’

‘I . . . I guess . . .’ he replied, his heart now pounding faster than ever before.

Jake smiled then leaned in closer, reaching as he did so and placing a hand on Danny’s cheek. Gently he brushed his lips across Danny’s, before doing it again, and then again, with each touch lasting just a little longer than the previous one, before finally their lips met in a lasting kiss.




This story will be updated with a new chapter each week, but if you don't want to wait that long you can always purchase the completed novel as an e-book, here . . .

Thank you for your support! :)

Young Adult

About the Creator

Mark 'Ponyboy' Peters

Aussie, Queer & Country

LGBT themed fiction with an Aussie flavour, reviews, observations and real life LGBT histories.


E: [email protected]

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