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Subject: “Stephen’s Story” —————————————————————————- STEPHEN’S STORY keating101 —————————————————————————- DISCLAIMER: This story is pure fantasy. It is not meant to imply anything about the sexual orientations of the celebrities after whom the characters are named —————————————————————————- It was his day to meet a friend. Today it was Ronan. The last time it had been Tony, and before him, Jeff. Or it might have been Ryan. Stephen couldn’t be sure now, nor did he mind. He was not even sure who it would be next time. But today, he knew, it was Ronan. They had set the meeting place: the wooden bench by the lagoon at the west lane park, with the letters “B.Z.”-etched maybe by a prankster of a boy who surely deserved a spanking-on its back. He was wearing a body fit white top that day when Ronan said to “see you next week.” “See you next week.” Now what was the reply he gave? He couldn’t, how often he replayed the scene in his head, remember. There was a lack somewhere, a silence that reminded him a bit about empty places: “Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast / In a field I looked into going past…” Stephen found it odd that he could remember bits from his twelfth grade poetry classes but not what he had replied just a week ago. It might have been the sun, for that had been a bright, almost blinding day at the park when Ronan asked to “see you next week.” The lagoon was glinting from the sun, and Stephen’s eyes were smarting at the sight of ripples like shards of broken glass. And (he remembered this bit) he was tilting his head up to Ronan as the latter talked, for Ronan was taller than he was, with hair that looked golden in the sun. Yes, it must have been the sun. “The sun that leaves no shadows…” There he was again, recalling a bit of his twelfth grade but hardly anything of last week. For sure, he must have said yes, for here he was dressing up to see Ronan at the park, to sit on the wooden bench by the lagoon with the letters “B.Z.” carved on the back. He was standing in front of the mirror-he had been doing so for almost a quarter of an hour-adjusting a black top. He had been debating on whether to wear white or black. (Initially, it was whether to put on slacks or jeans.) The black, he decided finally, would make him look fairer, and it was black like the black of his hair. The shirt hugged him, and was, it seemed, tying limb and torso together tightly. The black hid his nipples-at least better than his white top could-so that kızılay escort one had to look closely to trace them struggling against the stretch of fabric as he breathed. A light brush of the hair, sometime ago tumbling a little wildly down his forehead but now tamed by a whiff of styling gel, each strand (even that long stray one dangling before his right eye) in its appointed place-and he was off. The park wasn’t too far away from his flat, and walking down T- road, he hummed old show tunes. It was a relief from six days of toadying to the ladies at the shoe store, this easy Sunday stroll. It had become a habit since when he left school to audition for a band. He was noticed, but he didn’t quite make it. The talent scouts had found him a tad too short-though “remotely good looking”-and his voice, a little too soft, too whiny. “It wouldn’t sound good on the mic,” he was told. He knew he tended to let his voice out through his nose, especially when the notes were high. When he was a boy soprano, the notes would glide easily out of lung to throat to mouth. But when his voice began to crack, he had to resort to other means to coax them out. They were like the last bits of spread at the bottom of the bottle. You scrape and scrape, with spoon and knife and stick, but they cling stubbornly to the bottom rim-sometimes you wouldn’t know the bottle was nearly empty with the cap on-until you drown them in water, and then they are no good. Parks are better than spread. They are always good for something, even if it’s just for taking a lazy stroll or meeting a friend on a Sunday in. At 22 and living by himself in the city, Stephen found the park treat enough, especially on clear days. On a clear day he knew he could see forever-that was the song he happened to be humming-but today it was just blinding, like that afternoon when he and Ronan met. He checked the time and found that he was already over a minute late. Vowing never to fuss over wardrobe again, he quickened his pace, and his chest heaved and fell as quickly, and proudly the nipples stood under the shirt. A while later, he was by the lagoon and sat on the bench with the letters “B.Z.” carved on its back. Ronan hadn’t come. Across from him, two boys were fighting apparently over a toy. The bigger boy easily had the advantage, and was pushing the smaller one away. The scene reminded Stephen of Big Shane, who used to rag him at twelfth grade. It was as though he had made it his task to humiliate him. Then, Stephen’s eyes would quiver and glimmer. “Does sissyboy want another slap in the mouth? You want it, you little keçiören escort bugger?” What was the reply he made Shane? But of course, it was a rhetorical question, so answers weren’t necessary, and neither would they signify. At a game, Shane broke Stephen’s nose. The referee called the foul, Shane’s last for the game, but even as he made his way to the benches he was smirking at Stephen, for he was close to crying again. He was tasting a mixture of snot and blood. Stephen could see that the smaller boy’s nose wasn’t bleeding, but the boy was sobbing a little. The bigger boy had the toy now. He held it like a prize before the smaller one and then snatched it away. Shane had held the ball that way, too, after he had charged at Stephen and caused him to fall. “You want this ball, sissyboy? Can you handle it, you little bugger?” Eloy saw what had happened and glared at Shane. He was probably Stephen’s only mate in school. He was big for his age, very quiet, and a little clumsy maybe because of his size. It was a mystery to everyone why he wanted to be friends with Stephen, frail Stephen, or why Stephen was drawn to him. It was partly gratitude on his part, certainly, but that didn’t explain why he had looked forward to seeing Eloy when they scarcely had anything in common. Eloy wasn’t the type to sing. When Eloy saw Shane smirking, he seemed poised to stab him with a pocketknife. How savagely boys fight, Stephen thought, and fight they will, whether they’re in twelfth grade or anywhere else. Left alone in a remote island, surely they will kill themselves, or at least that’s what he read in a novel. “Kill the pig! Cut his throat! Kill the pig! Bash him in!” “I’ll bash his head,” Eloy told Stephen. “I’ll bash his head if he hurts you again.” Stephen had seen Eloy with his pocketknife carving words on walls, chairs, and desks, but not stabbing anyone with it. He knew it was wrong to stab anyone, even Shane, but the thought of Eloy stabbing Shane with a pocketknife filled him with morbid fascination and fear. “Do you want me to stuff this up his-” Someone coughed. He turned to where it had come from, but it wasn’t Ronan. Two young men, one in red and another in black, were sitting at the opposite end of the bench. They looked familiar to him, but they were strangers nonetheless. That’s another use of parks, specially neighborhood parks. They allowed company without intimacy. Stephen returned to the little boy. He was still crying. He had no Eloy to stab the bigger boy for him. What had happened to Eloy, he wondered. When Stephen auditioned for the band, he left escort ankara Eloy at the old town. He thought, as he was boarding the 5.15 to the city, that he saw a slight quiver on Eloy’s lips. Eloy had been especially quiet with him days before the audition, and as Stephen boarded the train, Eloy stood at the station completely immobile, save for that quivering lip. Viewed from the cabin window, he was almost tiny, and grew tinier as the train chugged away. It wasn’t like the Eloy he had known, and Stephen felt the urge to tell him… but what? And what reply would Eloy have given him? It suddenly occurred to Stephen that he had never hugged Eloy, even at the station. He would tell Ronan about Eloy. But Ronan hadn’t come. Stephen began to wonder whether Ronan might be the type who arrives a hour late for an appointment, shyly grinning and ready with some lame excuse which you don’t pay much attention to because he is grinning ever so shyly, twinkling his eyes and exposing a hopelessly crooked row of teeth? “You mean, he knew?” It was the man in black. “Found out,” said the other, with a slight shake of the head, and almost in an exaggerated hush. They were quiet. Stephen remembered Frost again. Some folks had already left the park, and the little boy had found something new to amuse himself with. But Stephen felt he was being crowded in. He shifted a little further away from them to the other end of the bench. “But seriously…” “Yes.” Then, after a snicker: “The little bugger.” The two men were laughing at the opposite end of the bench. “Found it up his-” “-And that’s why he never went back.” “The little bugger.” “-all the way in.” “The little bugger!” Stephen was suddenly aware of the glint from the lagoon. The pool had been a quiet glow, but now it glinted menacingly and stabbed his eyes. He stood up, thought to stroll around the lagoon, but found himself walking away towards his flat. By a lamppost he paused and realized that-for how long?-he had been breathing heavily, his nipples struggling against his shirt. Then he thought he saw a figure approaching the bench. He was too far away to be sure, but he thought the man’s face would probably look golden in the sunlight. He seemed to be looking for something, appeared to ask the two men a question, then sat on the bench. For a moment, Stephen wanted to walk back, but he realized that it was getting late, and he walked home to catch the news-he could make it if he hurried-the taste of something salty in his mouth. —————————————————————————- t h e e n d —————————————————————————- An earlier version of the story is posted at IPG’s Boyzone Dreamworld (http://www.geocities/SunsetStrip/Backstage/6927/) and at Boyzone Funzone (http://www.geocities/mia_gately/index.html). Comments are welcome. Please send them to hoo

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