Ten o’clock on Christmas day, and if I’d had a family, a wife and kids, like the people next door, with their friendly big black Labrador and their sleepy ginger cat and shouts of ‘howzat’ as they all played cricket together, I’d be opening presents and exclaiming over the socks from Auntie Min and the boring jocks from Uncle Hector. But I was alone.
Oh, I could have been at a gathering with all my gay friends, too familiar and too close friends to be attractive. We’d have given each other presents. The year before last year (or was it the year before that, before David?) Jack had given me a cock ring and a series of butt plugs from small to, well, huge, “Just,” he said, “to keep you in practice.” Yeah, well, it was kindly meant. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be seeing them all for New Year’s Eve, and get tipsy and tearful. But this year I wanted to be alone for Christmas.
Dave was killed last year in a smash with some drunken bogan just before Christmas. Gods, how I miss him. It’s hard at my age to find a new lover. It’s not as if he was a puppy, to be replaced the next day with a new one from the pet shop. Some people even suggested something like that. How remarkably tasteless and thoughtless! As if Dave could ever be replaced.
At the staff Christmas party, a few had asked me what I was doing this year (too embarrassed to mention Dave), and some had even invited me over to join their Christmas. That would have been intolerable. To have to put on a polite face for virtual strangers, to make them be polite with me. No.
Jim Kantavetes, one of my staff (I’m the big boss makulu of a small firm with fifty plus employees), had come up to me as I was standing irresolutely at the drinks table that Mrs van Swetering always set up in the board room (“We don’t want this lovely furniture to be damaged, do we, Dr Forstmann?”) wondering how soon I could decently go home and grieve alone, and asked me what I was doing.
“Oh. Alone this year, I think. Just me, you know,” blethering, not wanting to go into details.
“No one should be alone on Christmas day.”
Idiot. C’mon, what am I supposed to do? I just looked at him, noticing the thick curly brown hair and the soft chocolate eyes and the warm full lips, an inheritance from his Greek immigrant parents. Stop ogling your employees, I told myself firmly. “Will you be spending Christmas with your girlfriend?” I asked, in the special royal voice I used when I wanted to be polite but distant.
He’d shaken his head, looking a bit down.
“Ah. Well, Jim, let me wish you a happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.”
“Thank you, sir. And you too.”
Call me Wolfgang, I almost said. Wolfie – or when he was feeling like some sex, Volfie – was Dave’s name for me. Dammit, I’m crying. Sorry.
Anyway, ten o’clock on a warm Christmas morning, and my mobile rings. I didn’t recognise the number.
It was Jim. Jim Kantavetes. What the…?
“I just wanted to bring you a present, Dr Forstmann, sir.”
“Well, no, in an hour or so. Just wanted to check whether you’ll be home.”
“But, Jim, I’d really rather…”
“I won’t stay long, sir.” And he ended the call.
I didn’t know what to think. Was I too soft with my staff? Did the people working for other CEOs have equally impertinent and presumptuous employees? Was he trying to take advantage of me? I made it no secret that I was gay. Was he just sorry for me? (That was worse, in a way.) Well, this ‘sir’ business would have to stop. It made it all seem too Victorian, as if I were Mr Scrooge.
Eleven o’clock. It was a zinging hot day, thirty degrees already and likely to just get hotter, though the weather bureau had forecast a late afternoon thunderstorm. It certainly felt muggy enough for one. I decided to go for a swim. There are perks to being the CEO of your own company, and the nice house in Macedon (in the mountains an hour from Melbourne) with a swimming pool and beautiful gardens maintained by Weed-Be-Gone gardening services came with the executive salary and the fat divvies from my shares in the company.
I’d swum just a few lengths when I heard the sound of a big motorcycle, a mix of a throaty gurgle and the fine whine of an expensive sewing machine. I went to the gate of the walled-off swimming pool area in time to see a monstrous black bike crunch across the white gravel of the driveway towards me. The driver squeezed the brakes and the bike stopped abruptly, scattering gravel. It was Jim, dressed in all-in-one black leathers with silver sickle-shaped patches along each hip and down each leg. He was so slim. His brown eyes regarded me for a moment through the visor of his helmet, and then he took it off.
“Happy Christmas, sir.”
And he stuck out his hand to shake mine. It felt weird to shake someone’s hand when they’re wearing leather gauntlets.
“Oh, sorry,” he said, taking off his gloves. “There.”
His hand was warm.
I’d intended to tell him off, or anyway, gently rebuke him. I didn’t want company. But this vision in black, on a corking hot day, just… took my breath away. “Aren’t you hot in that, Jim?” I asked, suddenly aware that I was in my swim shorts, dripping.
“Uh, yes, sir. Cooking.” He gave me a wry grin.
“Well, for goodness’ sake, come in and have a swim.”
“I didn’t think to bring any bathers, sir.”
“I can lend you some. And Jim, while we’re here, or anyway, while we’re out of the office, call me Wolfgang.”
“Actually, wait a minute, sir, I mean Wolfgang, I brought these, uh, this.” He lifted his rucksack and took out a badly wrapped parcel.
“Oh,” I replied, discomforted, “I haven’t got you anything.”
“Well, how could you? You didn’t know I was coming.”
“Why did you come?” I wondered aloud.
“No one should be alone on Christmas day, sir, um, Wolfgang.”
He looked at me and coloured. I must have had a totally skeptical look on my face.
“Open it,” he urged.
It was a pair of scarlet Speedos. I stared at them, bemused.
“Christmas red,” he mumbled.
“So I see!” I said. I hadn’t worn swim briefs for thirty years. Not that I didn’t have the physique for it. I work out every day, more because it relaxes me and takes my mind of the office than because it’s good for me. I’m abstemious in my food and drink, because I’m terrified of getting fat. I was good-looking once, but these days, my blond hair is more white than golden, and my face bears all the scars of a long life. I shook myself mentally. “Well, thank you. Um, very much.” I was tongue-tied. Me, suave and polished, capable of putting anybody at their ease, from government ministers to the tea lady! “Let me get you some bathers and a drink, Jim. What’ll you have?”
“Uh, just a Coke, sir. I have to drive back soon.”
“Nonsense!” I said briskly. “You’ve ridden out all this way. You must at least stay for lunch. How does a glass of white sound?”
I brought out from the house a bottle of chardonnay, two glasses, and a pair of Dave’s Speedos. I thought they’d fit Jim. He was about Dave’s size. When I’d taken them out of the drawer I’d had to brush away the tears. Ah well. It would be a shame not to use them. I’d give them to Jim. I’d kept on postponing going through Dave’s things. No longer. I’d do it as soon as Jim left.
He’d unzipped the top half of his leathers and taken off his boots when I returned. His torso was nice, not overdone but muscular and trim. He had thick dark hair across his chest and a line trailing down between the zip edges to his groin. For the first time since I’d heard the news about Dave’s accident, I felt desire rise in me and had to turn away quickly so that it wouldn’t show in my new Speedos. How grotesque! At my age – to be lusting after a twenty-five-year-old! And one of my staff too!
But then David had been fifteen years my junior. And it had always seemed absolutely right, us, our relationship.
I threw him Dave’s bathers, suddenly wishing he’d go away. “There’s a change room there.” I pointed.
He came out in the short blue and white swimmers looking stunning, his proportions just right, his skin olive thickly trickled with dark hair. He dived into the pool without a word and vigorously swam several lengths. Young men. All that energy. I wondered what had happened to the girlfriend. He shook his head like a dog as he climbed out of the water.
He sipped his wine, dripping onto the cement under his deck chair. Jim glanced at my cozzie. “They look good on you, Wolfgang.”
“Yes,” I replied dryly. “They fit very well. You guessed my size correctly.”
He turned scarlet.
What? I thought irritably.
“I looked, sir,” he mumbled, staring at the far side of the pool.
I waited, not knowing whether to laugh or snap.
“In your gym bag.”
He looked at me and saw the smile in my face. “I didn’t know. I didn’t want to guess wrong. Look, maybe I’d better go.” He stood up.
“No, don’t. Please stay. I’m glad you came. Have another glass.”
We sipped in silence for a moment or two. At last I said, not wanting to push but finding the whole thing rather strange, “You could have brought your girlfriend.”
“We broke up a few weeks ago.”
“It’s OK.” He was silent for a few heartbeats, then asked, quietly, “Do you still miss your guy a lot?”
I nodded, not angered by his question. There was so much sincerity and compassion in his face.
“You’ll find someone,” he said.
He looked so sad and caring, I swallowed, and felt my eyes mist up.
“Maybe, one day,” I said.
He sipped some more wine. I was beginning to feel a little tipsy. And reckless.
“Thing is,” he said, both of us on our third glass and the bottle now empty, “I was alone too. Today.”
“So it wasn’t just for you I came today, but for me too.”
“But you have friends, don’t you?”
I looked at him. There’s a beer scale of looks. You know, is he a one-beer or a four-beer bloke, reflecting how much you must drink before he seems attractive. I was way past that. Jim had been attractive when he arrived. He was even more attractive now. A dilemma. He had to go. What I wanted to do to him was quite inappropriate. But he’d had too many to ride a bike and stay upright.
I’d stopped listening.
“Wolfgang?” The question was shy, careful. “Are you OK?”
“Yeah. It’s just…” I looked at him. I started to get a huge hard-on.
He looked at the bulge in my Speedos and got out of his deck chair and kissed me hard. He began to rub me with his hand through the thin fabric of my swimsuit, his lips and tongue frantic.
“I’m going to come,” I said, panting, not wanting him to stop.
His mouth quieted my cries as I climaxed, as I squirted jism into my cozzy. Just as well. The neighbours…
After a few moments, he said, with satisfaction, “I’ve been wanting to do that for weeks.”
Is that so? Interesting. “You haven’t come yet,” I said, reaching for him.
“No it isn’t. Come on.” I led him inside.
Dave always maintained I gave the best head. Jim obviously thought so too. After a while, I reached for the lube and some old pre-Dave condoms. “You ready for more?”
We lay in the warm twilight of the bedroom, the summer muslin curtains drifting in the breeze, Jim’s head on my chest, our bodies sticky with sweat. Outside it grew dark and the threatened thunderstorm began, with huge drops drumming on the tin roof. In the dark, as the thunderstorm passed overhead, we went nude through to the sitting room.
“I’m sorry,” I apologised. “No Christmas tree. I didn’t want to… Dave always did that. He was a romantic.”
“Me too,” Jim said. “We can get one next year.”
We? Well, why not? I could feel Dave’s smile in the dark and knew he approved.
© 2014 Nikolaos Thiwerspoon. All rights reserved.