Usual disclaimers, we're all fictional and all over eighteen. In particular I did a Google search for Acme East Talent agency and they don't appear to exist. If one does then I can assure you that the one featured in this story is, like all the characters, purely fictional and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
Secondly, this is a story about pony boys. Unless reading about pony boys rocks your boat then, well, you're not going to find too much here for you. Hey, don't let me stop you reading it, like Ben, you never know until you try, but you have been warned!
"You have got to be joking!" I said in amazement as Andy told me about Jason's latest exploits.
"No, straight up. That's what he said and, you know Jason," Andy replied, "he'll exaggerate for the sake of a good story but he never actually makes things up."
I did indeed know Jason. He was the most flamboyant member of our little circle and, like the rest of us, in his second year at college. A drama student, he treated his life as one big drama and he felt sure that it was only a matter of time before he was 'spotted' and whisked away to a life of fame in the West End, of possibly Broadway. The rest of us were somewhat less convinced of his Thespian abilities but he was fun to have around and his skill as a mimic often had us in stitches.
Anyway, it appeared that Jason, in his eternal search for a way onto the stage, had applied to what he thought was a theatrical agency. However, when he had gone for an interview, it had turned out that what they were recruiting for was only theatrical in the very broadest sense of the term.
"So, let's get this straight," I said, seeking confirmation of what I had heard. "He goes to this place and it turns out it's a front for pony boy racing? What the fuck is pony boy racing?"
"I'm just telling you what Jason told me. I gather they wanted him to dress up like a pony and then they enter into races."
"And I assume we're not talking pantomime horse, here," I laughed.
"Well if we are then it's an 'X' rated pantomime. Jason said that the 'costume' was little more than a few bits of leather strapping and absolutely nothing was left to the imagination."
"Sounds a bit kinky to me," I commented.
"Well, duh! Of course it's kinky. That's what it's all about. It's nothing more than a way to give dirty old men an excuse to watch young men parading around naked. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose. However, there must be plenty of people who are prepared to pay for it. Jason was saying that he was offered a ton for a night's work."
"A ton! A hundred quid! For one night! Mind you, you'd have to pay me a lot more than that before I'd parade around buck naked in front of a load of pervs."
"Yeah, even Jason felt it wouldn't exactly enhance his CV."
And that, we thought, was the end of it. We had a good laugh and assured ourselves that we would never, ever, do anything like that, whatever the money.
Or so I thought.
You know the way it happens. It never rains but it pours. First it was the car which failed its MOT test. The garage said it needed a new exhaust and tyres before I could put it back on the road and the bill was horrendous. Then my laptop decided not to boot and needed its hard drive replacing. That didn't come cheap either. And then, with my finances reeling, Andy came to me with this plan to go to the Far East for the summer vac. He'd found this fantastic deal which would save us a fortune but he needed a deposit of two hundred quid and he needed it pretty pronto. Two hundred or two million, it didn't make any difference, I simply didn't have it. On the other hand, the thought of missing out on all that fun was unbearable. Maybe if I lived on beans on toast and stayed away from the Union Bar I might be able to find the money and survive until the end of term. Living off beans on toast was just about manageable but my social life revolved around the bar and if I couldn't afford the occasional pint.... No, it simply wasn't an option.
I tried phoning my folks but the old man had made it clear that paying my tuition had already pushed him to the limit and there was no way he would cough up for something as frivolous as a holiday. There was the usual guff about learning the value of money and all the other things dads say but what there wasn't was the cash. Was I really going to be the only one who couldn't afford it?
But, that raised the question of exactly where I was going to find the money. All the suitable jobs in the local area were taken by other students in a similar position and I didn't really have anything I could sell. And then I remembered my conversation with Andy and my own words came back to haunt me. I remembered the conviction with which I'd said 'You'd have to pay me a lot more than that before I'd parade around buck naked in front of a load of pervs'. Well, that was then and this was now. Suddenly a hundred quid seemed a lot more enticing. I mean, I wasn't going to rush into anything but it had to be worth checking out After all, a hundred quid is a hundred quid and, with two nights work, I could have my holiday.
The first difficulty was finding out the name and address of the agency but I had a good idea how I could do that. Jason was always fond of the sound of his own voice and it wouldn't take much prompting to get him to retell the story about the time when he found himself applying to be a pony boy by mistake. That very night I made sure I bumped into him in the bar and, as ever, he was full of himself. I guided the conversation around to the agency.
"So, didn't the fact that it was called 'Pony Boys International' give you a clue?" I joked.
"It wasn't called anything like that, dummo," Jason retorted. "How was I to know that Acme East Talent Agency was anything other than legit?"
And there I had it. Acme East Talent Agency. I stored it away in my memory and got on with the rest of the evening.
The very next day I was on the internet and it wasn't hard to track them down. They didn't have their own web page but they were listed in a directory which gave me an address and a phone number. I stared at the screen of my laptop. Suddenly this had all got very scary. Was I really going to do this? I took a moment to do some on line banking and the state of my accounts was all the persuasion I needed. After all, I was just enquiring, I wouldn't actually do anything unless... unless... unless.... Well that depended on the outcome of my enquiries.
I rang the number and, after a couple of rings, the phone was answered.
"Acme East," a female voice said curtly.
"Ah, good morning, my name is Ben. A friend told me that you might have work for... for... pony boys." There, I'd said it.
"Did he, indeed." The voice at the other end of the phone was full of suspicion. "Did he also tell you that we only deal with personal applications? Because if he didn't he should have done. Office hours are ten 'til four, Monday to Friday."
And with that the phone went dead. Evidently Acme East weren't prepared to discuss things over the phone. I had two options: either I had to forget the whole thing or I was going to have to go down there in person. I nearly bottled it but, after another check on my dwindling bank balance, I ended up driving down to Acme East's offices.
When I got there it turned out that Acme East was just one of many businesses run from a single office located above a bookies. As I climbed the stairs my heart was pounding and a whole bunch of butterflies were leaping around in my stomach. I knocked on the door and when I entered I found a young woman, presumably a secretary, sat behind a desk. She looked up and gave me a long slow look.
"Can I help you?" she asked after a while.
"Is this Acme East?"
She didn't answer but continued to look me up and down with an amused half smile on her face. In terms of birthdays she probably wasn't more than a couple of years older than me but in terms of street smarts she was in a different league. She didn't say anything but I got the feeling she wasn't over impressed.
However she didn't send me away either and, after a moment or two, she picked up the phone and pressed a switch.
"Harold," she said into the phone, "we've got a young lad asking about Acme East. Doesn't look like old bill. Doesn't smell like old bill either. Do you want to have a look?" There was a pause as she listened to Harold before she put down the receiver. "OK, you can go on through," she said, pointing at a door behind her.
I went on through to the back office which was much larger and brighter. The room was dominated by a huge desk and, sat behind it, was Harold, a corpulent middle-aged man whose disastrous comb-over completely failed to conceal his receding hairline. I stood in front of the desk and he looked me up and down in much the same way that his secretary had done. By the look on his face he seemed to come to the same unflattering conclusions.
"So, you're the young man asking about Acme East," he said after a while.
"Yes... yes, sir," I replied, fighting down my nerves.
"And do you know what sort of agency Acme East is?" he asked.
"Pony boys?" I said cautiously.
"And what would an innocent young thing like you know about pony boys?"
"That you pay one hundred pounds a night." There, I'd said it.
Harold just laughed but he did seem to relax a bit.
"So, who are you? You're not part of the usual crowd." He asked.
"I'm just a student. Thing is, I need some cash and, well, I heard from a friend that you pay well and I wondered..."
"I'll bet you wondered," Harold cut across me. "And did your 'friend' tell you what you have to do to earn that hundred pounds?"
"I'm not sure but he did say something about races."
"That's part of it. They're actually sulky races -- a bit like a rickshaw. And did your friend say anything more?"
"No, but I've googled pony boy on the internet and I think I know what's involved. The 'pony boys', they pull these sulkies, isn't that it?"
"That's the bunny. And that's what you want to do, is it? You want to be a pony boy and compete in sulky races?"
"Well, it's more that I need the money but yes, I guess so."
"You guess so? Well you'd better be bloody well sure. Look, sonny," Harold seemed almost angry, "I'm not mucking about here. This is serious business with serious money involved. If you want to be a pony boy then I might be able to use you but I've got no room for time wasters. Either you do or you don't, no guessing. Now, I'll ask you again, do you want to be a pony boy?"
"Yes, yes please," I replied.
"OK, here's the first test. If you're so sure you want to be a pony boy then, before we go any further, I have to check over the goods."
"Check over the goods?" I could feel myself starting to panic again.
"God save me from idiots! If I'm going to pay you for prancing around in the all together then I have to know what I'm going to get for my hard earned cash. What's more, if you have problems stripping off in this office then you're not going to be any use to me. What's up? Don't tell me you're shy?"
I didn't dare answer. All my confidence had drained away. The reality of what I had let myself in for was just beginning to hit me and the butterflies in my stomach had turned it up to eleven. On the other hand he had a point. I was applying for a job where I would parade around all but naked so it did seem a little strange to be pleading shyness in the relative privacy of his office. However, I found myself unable to move.
"I really haven't got time to muck around," Harold said firmly. "Kit off or get out, your choice."
It was make your mind up time. I thought about the desperate state of my finances and the lure of Malaysian beaches and compared it to being Billy No Mates stuck behind in England for the summer. If I walked out now then there was no way I could raise the cash. I had no options so I gathered up all the resolve I could and, shaking like a leaf, I took off my jacket and put it over the back of one of the chairs that he, noticeably, hadn't offered me. Harold gave me a look as if he had read every bit of my lack of resolve.
"Come on, son, all of it," he said by way of encouragement.
My shirt followed my jacket and then my shoes, socks and, rather reluctantly, my jeans. I stood there in just my boxers and looked at him, pleading with my eyes. However he just stared back at me and shook his head gently. I knew what I had to do. I pushed my boxers to the floor and stepped out of them. When I straightened up I was as naked as the day I was born.
He motioned with his hand that I should turn around so I did so, pirouetting in front of him.
"OK, that'll do," he said at last as I came to a stop facing him. Now give me your hands. He took them, turning them back and forth so that he could look closely at my arms. "Actually, that will do very nicely. Even if you can't run you'll be a nice bit of eye candy. It will make a change to have pony that isn't covered in prison tats and track lines. Now, we need to get a few details."
"Can I get dressed now?" I asked, reaching for my clothes.
"Not so fast, sonny Jim, not so fast. We're far from finished here. The first thing you need to get used to is standing around naked and the second thing is doing what you're told. First off we need to get you measured. Now stand still with your legs apart and your hands behind your head."
I had no fight left on me so, despite the rather demeaning pose, I did as I was told. He reached forward and pressed a button on his phone. Moment's later the secretary arrived at the door carrying a notepad and a tape measure. Horrified I spun away from her and covered my prick with my hands.
"Oh, how precious! He's embarassed in front of a lady!" the secretary exclaimed. "And he's the one who wants to be a pony boy. Are you sure he knows what he's letting himself in for?"
"He's as innocent as they come but he'll learn fast enough," Harold replied before turning to me. "Now, get back in position. Tracy has to measure you for your harness and she can't do that with you all scrunched up like that. First up, what's your name?"
"Err... Ben," I replied as I rather reluctantly put my hands back behind my head. Tracy gave me a smile as she put down her notepad and stretched out her tape measure
"I won't ask Ben what. I don't need to know. However, I will need a mobile number."
I gave him my mobile number and Tracy wrote it down on the notepad. As Harold was interviewing me she was busy measuring my chest, my waist, my thighs, my everywhere. I tried to concentrate which was far from easy when a young and reasonably attractive woman is putting her tape measure around your upper thighs.
"I won't ask if you've done anything like this before?" Harold said. "We both know that that's a 'no', isn't it. Well, here's how it works. We'll contact you a few days before the races using the number I've got here. We then tell you where and when the pick up point is. Your job is to get there and don't be late. We won't wait for you so if you're late you won't get to race and you won't get paid. We then take you to the wherever the race is being held where you'll be put into harness and set up ready for the off. Make sure you wear a decent pair of trainers. No trainers, no racing and, more importantly to you, no cash. I'll pay you eighty pounds just for turning up and twenty pounds for every race you compete in. It's a knock-out competition so the faster you run the more races you win and the more you earn. If you go all the way to the final you get a fifty quid bonus. Gives you a bit more of an incentive.
"Because, trust me, it's not just about you prancing around with your dick out. If you've not out there to win you're no good to me. My customers want to see fast, competitive racing and any pony boy who doesn't try doesn't get paid. There's quite a bit of betting on the racing and any suggestion that the races are in any way fixed does not go down well. I know you think I'm some kind of sleazeball but I provide my customers with what they want and I make more than enough from the betting to have any need for race fixing. And that goes for you as well. If someone comes suggesting that you throw a race then you come and tell me. Don't be tempted, whatever the money. Some of my customers are very serious men who do not take kindly to being cheated. Do I make myself quite clear?"
"Yes, sir," I replied.
"Don't bother with the 'Sir', sonny, I'm Mr H, that what all the lads call me."
"Yes, Si... Mr H."
"And then there's the other side of things."
I could guess what was coming next but even so I was still a bit surprised when Mr H stood up and came round from behind his desk. Tracy had finished taking my measurements and she stood, leaning against the side of his desk, watching as he came up and stood behind me. I felt his hand grab my backside and Tracy smiled at my little squeak of surprise.
"My premium customers pay premium prices to get access to the centre enclosure where the ponies are rested between races. They expect, and pay for, the right to inspect the ponies closely so as to assess their form and capabilities. Some of them like to inspect the ponies very closely indeed, if you get my drift." He reached round and I felt his hand grasp my prick. Oh my god! He'd got his hand on my prick! He's... he's wanking me off!All I could do was stand there, keeping my hands behind my head. My breathing was shallow and my heart was going nineteen to the dozen.
"Are you going to have any problems with this?" he asked as his fingers played with me.
"No, Mr H, not at all, Mr H," I squeaked in reply. Of course I had millions of problems but I knew that 'no' was the only answer I could give. What's more, to my horror, I could feel myself getting hard. I glanced up at Tracy and could see that she was more than amused with my discomfort. She glanced down at my ever growing erection and then looked me straight in the eye and gave me a wink.
"Well, you better get used to it because this is part of what they're paying for and all ponies are expected to fully cooperate," he continued. "You're there to please the customers, that's your sole purpose, never forget that. What's more, customers like to tip and those ponies who please the most tend to get the more generous tips. I take twenty five percent of all tips, you keep the rest.
"That's during the racing," Mr H went on. "After the racing, some of my customers, if they find a pony who takes their fancy, like to make er... more private arrangements and you'll be expected to cooperate there as well. Make the customers happy, that's what your job is and the happier the customers is the happier everyone else is. Now, cards on the table, do you still want to be a pony boy?"
I stood there, stark naked, with Mr H still playing with my now rigid prick, and I thought over what he had said. The real nature of the job had just become clear.
"I'm not sure...." I started. In my mind I could see Malaysian beaches but, really, what they were asking....
"They're not paying for shy virgins," he warned me. "I provide a place where my customers can meet pony boys and where pony boys can meet people who like pony boys." He let go of me, came round and stood next to where Tracy was leant against his desk. He looked at my prick which was now jutting out in front of me. "Actually, they might just pay for shy virgins, well this one, anyway. That might be your USP."
"USP? I'm sorry, Mr H, I don't know what you mean."
"Unique selling point. Most of the little tarts I get are up for anything, well, anything as long as someone is paying enough. On the other hand, for some of the punters, that makes them a bit too easy, if you see what I mean. If you start winning a few races and you won't put out it's going to drive the punters crazy. They'll end up tipping more and more as they try and get you to change your mind. This just might work out OK. Now, the interview is over so you'd best get you kit back on."