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The Seventeenth Summer (Ch 5)

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

By Mark 'Ponyboy' PetersPublished 6 months ago Updated 5 months ago 17 min read
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Original image by Janan Lagerwall on Unsplash.com https://unsplash.com/photos/8NuDsZegIpQ

Chapter Five

The first thing Jake and Danny heard which told them Nate had returned from the beach, was an extremely loud cry of, ‘You rotten pair of bastards! Where the fuck are they?’

The next thing they heard was the sound of Nate cursing as he hot-footed it over the scalding sand, coming toward the canvas shade where they were still sitting. When they looked up they noticed a naked Nate, standing at the entrance to the camp in all his glory, except for the fact his hands were trying to cover his manhood, all the while looking just about ready to kill someone.

Danny looked at his friend and grinned.

‘Okay, you got what you wanted . . . I’m naked . . . so now can I have my fucking shorts back?’ Nate fumed.

Jake reached to one side and picked up the shorts he had found on the bonnet of his van, then seemed to look at them, as if he was weighing up whether he was going to give them back.

‘You know, I kind of like seeing you just like you are . . .’ Jake began to say, but then he relented and tossed Nate his clothing.

‘What the fuck was that supposed to mean?’ Nate fumed while pulling on his shorts.

Danny wasn’t sure what was going on, nor was he feeling particularly comfortable with what Jake was saying, especially after their having just kissed. He wondered about where this conversation seemed to be going.

‘Please, just hear me out,’ Jake said. ‘And you too Danny . . . I don’t want either of you thinking I’m that monster that your parents are so sure I am.’

Nate and Danny looked at each other. They had no idea what Jake was talking about.

‘What the hell are you on about?’ Nate demanded.

‘What I’m on about, is that I would like to paint you . . . both of you,’ Jake said. ‘And like how you just were,’ he added, as he motioned toward Nate with an outstretched hand.

‘W-w-what?’ Danny stammered.

‘You want to paint pictures of us naked?’ Nate asked, obviously while finding it difficult to hide his displeasure at the idea.

‘No. What I specifically want to paint is a picture of two friends . . . naked, yes, and together . . .’

‘Fuck no!’ Nate said. ‘You’re not going to get your jollies from me like that.’

‘It’s not what you’re thinking, Nate. You saw the painting of Phillip . . . all I want to paint is the beauty and innocence of youth! Capturing a mateship . . . a beautiful friendship. It’s art, not pornography!’

‘Doing what, exactly?’ Danny ventured.

‘I don’t know . . . something casual . . . maybe lounging around on the beach, or mucking about like kids do, like wrestling . . . or jumping off a jetty into a river or something like that. All totally innocent, I promise.’

Once again Nate and Danny looked at each other.

Danny was beginning to understand what Jake was saying, and he was beginning to warm to the idea, although he felt certain that Nate wouldn’t see it that way. The painting of Phillip, which Jake had shown them earlier, was simply beautiful. Could Jake do something like that with the two of them as well? Immortalising them in their youth?

‘And I haven’t told you the best bit yet . . . I would pay you both for doing it . . . just like I paid Phillip and the others whom I have painted so far. I would just take a few photo’s then that would be it. And like I said, this isn’t about someone getting off . . . it’s about showing the beauty of youth, and about showing friendship.’

He saw Nate and Danny look at each other once again and sensed that they might just be thinking about it, so he continued.

‘It would be a part of a series I intend to do,’ Jake continued. ‘It’s going to be my grand masterpiece . . . and I promise you that absolutely no one will see the finished painting until the series is totally finished and put on display some place in a gallery in one of the cities . . . so it’s not like anyone will ever even know you posed, and by the time it eventually gets displayed you’ll probably be thirty years old anyhow, so the chances of anyone even being likely to recognise you will be about zero!’

As Nate sat down beside his best friend, looking thoughtful, Jake decided he shouldn’t push the point any further. He had made his offer, so he would simply let the boys think about it. That usually worked best, he found.

As for Danny, well, Jake couldn’t be sure what might be going through his mind right now, but he hoped that Danny’s artistic nature would see the offer for what it was; a desire to fill the world with beauty, rather than a lurid attempt to see the two of them naked. He suspected that Danny would see the merit in the idea, but whether he would be able to convince his friend to participate, that would be another matter altogether.

Jake watched as Nate picked up one of the paintings that he and Danny had been working on.

‘Hey, that one looks better already,’ Nate said to his friend, trying his best to ignore Jake for the moment.

‘Yeah. Jake sure knows a lot about this stuff. He’s been really helpful. I think I’ve learnt heaps already.’

For the first time since he had sat down Nate ventured a glance at Jake, while wondering to himself just what the guy was up to. Jake had already told them he was . . . what’s the word they all seem to be using these days . . . gay! He had even shown them a painting of a naked guy that he had done . . . and now he wanted to see the two of them naked as well. But what did that mean? He hadn’t tried to touch them, or do anything remotely weird with them . . . apart from hiding Nate’s shorts; which he gave back anyhow. Was he really someone they needed to worry about, or be wary of? Was he one of those guys that their mothers had all warned them about? Or was he just what he said he was, an artist looking to find the inspiration to paint his grand masterpiece?

As the three young men sat beneath Jake’s makeshift tent all of them clearly had things on their minds. With Jake’s arrival in this sleepy town, each of them could now see change coming in their future. This was especially the case with Danny, whose eyes had suddenly been opened to a lifestyle he had only ever seen in his imagination. For the first time in his young life he had just been kissed by a guy! He liked it . . . and in particular, he liked the guy who had done it. Would this be the start of something monumental, he wondered? Was Jake the guy who would take him away from this town and show him the world? Or was that just a continuation of the dream he’d been playing in his mind for several years now?

For Nate, he was in two minds as to what might happen. He knew that Jake was a free spirit, a guy who could travel anywhere he liked and do anything he pleased, and he could only ever dream of having a life like that, but just what would Jake’s presence here mean to both him and Danny? And what would happen if they accepted his offer to paint them?

Nate decided he would talk to Danny about it all later, after they left here. He felt sure that Danny would have some idea, or at least an understanding of just what it was that Jake was trying to do. Hopefully he would also have an opinion on whether they could trust him, seeing as Danny had already spent some time alone with the guy.

As Nate pondered these thoughts Danny reached out and picked up his sketch pads, before stuffing them inside his backpack.

‘I guess we better get going,’ Danny said. ‘My old man will be wondering where I am . . . he’ll probably have a heap of things he wants me to do this afternoon.’

‘Well, if you want any help with your artwork, or want to practice anything we worked on today . . . or even just want to talk . . . you know where to find me,’ Jake said. ‘We should have a go at colouring that sketch of the two little kids on the beach, which you showed me the other day. I think it would come up looking really nice.’

‘Th-th-thanks. That’d be good,’ Danny said, while getting to his feet, desperately hoping that Nate didn’t pick up on the electricity that Danny thought he could feel in the air.

Nate stood up also, then Jake smiled and did the same. Then, with a hand resting on Danny’s shoulder, he began to show the boys out.

‘I’m sorry about hiding your shorts like that, Nate,’ Jake said. ‘But I’m glad to see you gave it a try!’

‘Yeah, well, I guess I didn’t have anything to lose . . . and it’s not like I hadn’t done it before,’ he grinned.

‘That’s kind of what I figured when I saw your shorts sitting there.’

The boys picked up their bikes and threw a leg over, getting ready to head off.

‘I guess I’ll see you around then, boys. Just remember you’re welcome out here anytime you feel like coming out.’

‘Thanks,’ Danny replied. ‘I’ll bring some more sketches out.’

‘That’ll be fine. I’m only too pleased to help.’

Danny pushed off and Nate was about to follow, but just then he remembered something.

‘Say, you didn’t tell us how much are you offering?’ he said to Jake.

‘Fifty bucks . . . each.’

In nineteen-seventy-five, fifty bucks was a lot of money for a sixteen year old kid.

The ride back along Beachside Lane was a quiet one for Nate and Danny. Their morning had been one of new and odd experiences for each of them, and because of that they were both in a contemplative mood.

‘Did you hear him?’ Nate eventually asked, as they passed an old farmhouse on the left. ‘Fifty bucks, just for letting him take our photo.’

‘Yeah, but it’s our naked photo,’ Danny reminded him. ‘Doesn’t that kind of bother you?’

‘Well, I guess . . . yeah . . . especially if someone we knew happened to see it . . . but he promised that wouldn’t happen. So if it’s only you and him who will see it, what will it matter? You and me have seen each other naked before, and now him and me have seen each other naked, so what’s the big deal?’

‘So, what, does that mean you’re actually interested?’ Danny asked, as he slammed on the brakes of his bike and skidded to a stop in the gravel.

Nate skidded to a stop beside him and smiled at his friend. ‘I dunno,’ he said with a grin. ‘But I’ve never had fifty bucks in my hand before. Have you?’

‘No. Never.’

‘So, what do you reckon? Are you game? And do you think we can we trust him?’

‘I . . . I think so,’ replied Danny. ‘What about you?’

‘Well, I guess that provided he doesn’t try any of that funny business on us it should be okay . . . I mean, I don’t care that he’s a queer . . . there seems to be lots of them around, but I just ain’t like that. So if he keeps his hands to himself, and keeps his word, then yeah, I guess I’m game if you are.’

‘And if he doesn’t keep his word?’

‘Well, we both know where the cop shop is, don’t we?’

For a moment or two Danny thought about it, then he smiled. ‘Yeah, what the hell. I'm in,’ he replied, while silently thinking that some funny business probably wouldn’t worry him too much at all. ‘So, it’s all settled then. Will we come back out tomorrow and tell him?’

‘Yeah, that’ll do . . . and I can spend tonight dreaming of how I’m going to spend my fifty bucks!’

Danny grinned at his friend. They money didn’t worry him so much . . . it was what they were going to do, and why they were going to do it that was beginning to get him excited. For a young guy who was just coming to terms with what it means to be attracted to guys, there was just something about it that was both forbidden, yet enticing; something that sent a shiver through his body and left him with a feeling deep down inside him which was kind of exciting, and wanting more.

With the decision now made the boys headed for home, finally bumping fists as they said farewell at Danny’s street, after having arranged to meet the following morning to go back out to visit with Jake.

It was around lunch time and Danny’s mind was still back on Hidden Beach, with Jake’s lips touching his, when he finally wheeled his bike into the shed and propped it against the wall. He was feeling like a different person entirely to the one who had left the house earlier that day; one who had finally seen what his future may hold. He didn’t hear the approaching footsteps behind him until it was too late.

Spinning around he found his step-father standing there at the shed door, leering at him.

‘And just where the fuck do you think you’ve been all day?’ Brad demanded. He knew that the pleasantries of last night were nothing but a memory now . . . it was back to the same old routine . . . nice as pie when he arrives home and gets some, then once he gets a few beers into him the dark side emerges.

He had seen it happen way too many times before.

‘I . . . I’ve been with Nate,’ Danny replied, as he tried to back away from his father. He could smell the beer on his breath, and the unpleasant odour of sweat on his body.

‘I just bet you have,’ his father replied, advancing upon his step-son, before making a grab at his shorts; actually managing to cop a feel of Danny’s manhood, which wasn’t exactly in a state of hibernation given the events of the morning and the thoughts that had recently been on his mind. ‘Yeah, I just bet the two of you have been practicing together?’

‘Jesus! What the fuck are you doing? Back off!’ Danny yelled at him, as he swiped his step-father’s arm away, suddenly wondering if the guy‘d had something like this in mind while being so nice last night.

Danny took another step backwards, but soon found himself backed up against the cupboard. He quickly realised that he was fast running out of places he could go to get away from his step-father’s clutches. This was a side of him he hadn’t seen before, and Danny dared not think of what might happen should he actually get his grubby hands on him.

For a moment it appeared as if Brad was going to have another go at grabbing him, but just like that, in the instant following Danny pushing his man’s arm away he saw something change in his step-father’s expression. His eyes seemed to glaze over and he just stood there, as his shoulders slumped and one hand went to his face, before then looking blankly at Danny.

It was weird, Danny hadn’t ever seen him do anything like that before, but he didn’t care about that. All he was worrying about was getting his arse out of that shed and as far away from the old man as he could.

As Brad stood there Danny seized his chance, quickly grabbing his bike, pushing past his father and then straight out the open doorway. For a few yards he ran alongside it, before jumping straight on and jamming his feet down onto the pedals, looking back just once and seeing his step-father now at the doorway and watching him ride away.

‘Fuck you, and fuck the Kenworth you rode in on!’ Danny spat into the wind, not caring whether the man had actually heard him or not. ‘That sure was some weird shit, pop!’

Pedaling down the driveway as fast as he could, he zoomed out onto the road in front of their house, and just kept going. He had no idea where he was headed, he just knew he needed to get away, and quickly. When he reached the main road which ran through the centre of town a car came around the corner too sharply in front of him, so he had to swerve sharply to the left to miss it. This put him on the road back out of town, but he wasn’t thinking about that, he was still in panic mode, just pedaling as hard and as fast as he could, wanting to put daylight between him and his father’s lecherous hands.

After a little while he slowed, and it was only then that he realized he had just passed the sign at the edge of the town. Up ahead of him he could see the signpost for Beachside Lane, where he and Nate had only just come from.

Finally he smiled to himself. Jake was out there. That’s where he would go.

It was only moments later when he turned off onto the gravel road he had already travelled that day and started pedaling faster. As he got closer a feeling of happiness came over him. A feeling of safety. A feeling of belonging somewhere. Or to someone.

Was that so strange, he wondered?

And how would Jake feel about him when he got there? After all, he was just a kid . . . and what cool twenty-year-old with his own car would want a kid hanging around with him all the time?

Fuck! Life was suddenly getting complicated now that hormones were involved.

But still, he pedaled on, despite the doubts that were creeping into his head. He was never going to find out what might happen unless he got there, so he just had to keep going!

One by one he passed the landmarks he remembered. The old farmhouse on the right. The bends in the road. The other farmhouses on the left. The gateway into where the old crazy lady lived. Then quite soon he came to the turn off into the picnic area where Jake was camping.

As he rode across the car park he could see Jake sitting outside his tent. He was still wearing the same shorts from this morning, and with no shirt on, and it looked like he was working on a painting. When he looked up and noticed Danny approaching after hearing the sound of wheels on the gravel he appeared quite surprised.

‘Danny! Back so soon!’ he said as he stood and faced the boy.

Danny had stopped just short of him and was standing there with both feet on the ground, straddling his bike and gasping for air.

‘I . . . I . . .’

Instantly Jake knew something was wrong and put down his brushes, quickly going to his new friend.

‘What’s happened?’ Jake asked. ‘Where’s Nate? Did something happen to him?’

‘N-no, not him,’ Danny stuttered.

‘C’mon then, mate, how about we get out of the sun, then you can tell me all about it.’

With a nod Danny stepped off his bike and let it fall to the ground, with Jake then leading him toward his shelter. With Jake’s arm around his shoulders Danny felt good. He felt safe. And as odd as it seemed when the thought first struck him, he felt like he was in a place he finally belonged.

When they were beneath the shade of the canvas they both sat down on Jake’s bed-roll. Jake leant over to his cooler and retrieved two cans of Coca-Cola, then passed one to Danny. They opened their cans and took a sip.

‘Okay, then,’ Jake said. ‘How about you tell me what happened?’

.

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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 . . . https://books2read.com/u/mg1dyv

Thank you for your support! :)

Young Adult
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About the Creator

Mark 'Ponyboy' Peters

Aussie, Queer & Country

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

W: https://ponyboysplace.wordpress.com/vocal-media-index/

E: [email protected]

https://www.facebook.com/mark.p.peters/

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