The Wall and Goat Ch. 08bysexuscumlupus©
Chapter 08: Jesse
All day I hadn't been able to stop staring at him.
I'd woken from a deep sleep in which all I felt was the presence of Maxie and some calm and soothing feeling I did not name; and I had been filled with a sense of peace the likes of which I had never known. Reading poetry through he all had seemed a perfect way to start the day. Once I'd been sharing the same air as Maxie though, the confidence had taken a back seat to desire.
I'd never wanted anything this much, not least when Maxie had taken off his shirt and I had allowed myself to stare, slack jawed at the awesomeness of his body. How did he not know he was beautiful?
After Mina's slight interrogation at lunch I felt buoyed, Maxie's confidence rubbing off on me. Maxie went off towards Work, for his creative writing class, and I headed towards the changing rooms.
Ian was waiting for me. His nose had a simple tape over the bridge and his eye sockets were still sort of dark, but other than that he looked OK.
"Hey," I put down my kit bag and smiled at Pete, who, half dressed, came to stand with us, "Look I'm sorry for breaking your nose."
Ian seemed to consider this.
"I shouldn't have said what I did." He shook his head, "And Pete says I have to forgive you." I smiled at the chubbier boy. Yeah, Pete was sort of cute, but Maxie held all my attention even when he wasn't there. "Plus cross country is coming up and we need you, it'll take the pressure off everyone else."
The air cleared, the dingy changing room with filled with 'light and sound'. I breathed easy, let imagined strains of Maxie's music wash over me. 'And friends who said they had your back/But they just turned and ran and let you fight'. I had listened that album a lot, along with others, in the long days that Maxie had been away at school. I sang the songs in my bedroom, wandered all around the house drifting in and out of music that reminded me of him. I hummed as I got changed, and realised that tonight everything was going to change. Better or worse, something would be different.
'The ground is uneven/You stumble from day to day/You tread where it's easy/Although your feet are like lead/And you gotta get underway.'
'Drag your heart up to the starting line/Forget the ghosts that make you old before your time/It's too easy to get left behind/I know you've been kicked around/But tie up your thoughts and lay them down on me.'
During the lesson let myself be distracted by the immediacy of sport and exercise, the burn of muscles and joints: push ups, star jumps, sit ups, laps. Then basketball: weaving, passing, jumping, throws. We were all sweaty by the time we were sent in for showers and the flood of endorphins could not stop the roaring of blood in my ears. I stood under the cold showers, my skin turning to ice, knowing that if I allowed myself even the shortest reign that my cock would leapt to attention. As easy as Ian had forgiven me, he was not above teasing, and I wasn't so sure of my self-control not to knock him for six again.
Maths was the last lesson of the day, and equilateral equations held no distraction for me. It wouldn't be long until I was walking the road with Maxie, not long until I would be in his house. A little nagging voice told me I had to get through a family dinner first, with people I had never met, and mum was no doubt going to be her most skittish and stressed.
I waited for Maxie at registration. Miss Shin had made scones for her year seven class and had extra's for those of us who arrived on time. I munched my way through the baked creations, trying not to glue my eyes to the door. Maxie was late, inexcusably messy, his uniform ruffled and dishevelled. How he had ever made student leader I would never understand. Other prefects were smooth, supple creatures. Neat and precise, for teenagers, and generally unruffled. But none of it mattered, because my heart started trying to flap right out of my chest when I saw him, and the smile that spread across his face was the sun in the morning.
'You'll follow me back with the sun in your eyes...'
Maxie refused a last remaining scone and slipped into the chair next to me.
"I wish I had your metabolism. You skinny bastard."
"I missed you." I kept my voice low, not that the rest of our tutor group were ever anything other than raucous.
We were dismissed for the weekend with the instruction to 'be good; and if you can't be good, be safe; if you can't be safe, just don't get arrested' and Maxie and I hung back as everyone flooded out of the school towards their exciting weekends. I had no idea what my weekend held. I couldn't think past tonight any more than I could keep my eyes off him.
We walked along shoulder to shoulder, and it struck me that apart from Paul at the café, we were probably the tallest people in town. We must have made quite a sight walking so close together as to form a wall across the street. Maxie told me about his day. He wrote poetry in creative writing class, and song inspiration seemed to be a common theme this week. As we walked, turning towards our street he handed me a crumpled piece of paper, ink stained and smudged. Everything Maxie handled was crumpled. I made sure to touch his hand when I took it, the contact like a cattle prod, electricity up my skeleton. I looked into his soft toffee eyes and wished I could take the chance to close the distance between us.
Those two short kisses seemed so close, yet so long ago, like the past viewed through a microscope. I wanted desperately to touch him again, scared of him, scared of myself. Why was it so easy to give in with Maxie when I had fought these feeling so many times before? The oxygen between us was warm and wet with a recycled texture to it. One of us was going to have to break away. It was Maxie.
"I have to help mum get ready."
"Dress for dinner."
"Yes." I stood at my gate and watched Maxie walk up his path, shoulders shaking to keep from running. I unfolded and flattened the paper scrap in my hand. These were Maxie's words, I knew instantly that they were not from a song or poem, not quoted, but written just for me.
Before I found you, I was fine, now
I'm half a world away from where I was.
I never knew I needed you.
I had found mum frantically cleaning an already sparkling kitchen and guided her to the calm dulcet tones of the television. We weren't due at Maxie's for some three hours and somehow I knew that there would be no conversation through the wall tonight. I showered, stretched, shaved the hair above my pubic bone, touched up my chin and scrubbed at my skin with one of mum's flowery exfoliants until I was pink. Wrapped in a towel in the steam of the bathroom I wiped the mirror and saw myself quickly in the glass before the condensation clouded over.
How could Maxie want me? Near naked in the bathroom I felt wrong, damaged. Ghost bruises flared in my mind where He had touched me. Maxie was so...pure, refreshing. He was better than me, that was certain. I had never been true or honest to anyone or anything in my whole life; I shook and wiped away the steam again to stare at my reflection. Dear god but I was going to try. Gay or straight seemed to have nothing to do with it. I knew, looking at myself in the mirror, that I had fallen for Maxie, and fallen hard.
I dressed in deep navy chinos, straight cut and pressed with a turn-up at the bottom; yellow socks and blood-brown brogues; a clean white shirt under a checked shirt in four shades of blue with mother of pearl buttons. I dried my hair and brushed it with my usual side parting and made sure the soft wave feel exactly where I liked it. Then I spent a half hour getting my mother changed from jeans and raggedy jumper. She came down stairs in the sequinned ball gown and I returned her to her closet, finally coming out with an A-line red skirt and cream blouse, a mustard coloured scarf and matching belt. Sensible black shoes with a gold buckle. Suitably presented and with mum holding a plate of her best brownies we went next door.
I knocked. My hear pounded in my chest, I wanted to break and run and burst through the door to see him all at the same time. I forced myself to breath, Maxie's voice through the wall flooding my skull; 'to the place of his birth/with a gift for his brother.'
Maxie's grandmother opened the door and I stuttered out my one practiced Turkish word;
"Merhaba! Iyi akshamlar Jesse. Küçük! Buradalar!"
Beside me mum looked shocked at the onslaught of language. Then Maxie appeared on the stairs and my heart stilled.
He was wearing bootleg black jeans that fitted through the hip to knee before they flared softly, tucked into them was white dress shirt with wide lapel collars and chunky cuffs that made his cocoa skin glow like the setting sun. Thick fingers fumbled on the last button, still a good hand span from the hollow of his throat and I gulped audibly. Maxie sat something in Turkish to his grandmother and turned to us.
"Good evening, come in." He chastised his grandmother as we stepped across the threshold, "Babaanne! You can't just do that. You'll scare them away."
"Oh nonsense Küçük, you run along to the kitchen and help your mother. And don't get your shirt dirty." She turned to us as Maxie gave me a soft smile and vanished, "That boy. Do come in won't you, I'm Maxie's grandmother. Everyone calls me Babaanne. You must be Jesse's mother."
"T-Tamsin," mum has a way of stuttering when she's really nervous. Dinner at the next door neighbours with her son and the boy he beat up had to be pretty high up that list. "It's so nice of you to have us over."
"We would have had you earlier," Babaanne lead us into a dining room much bigger than our own because the wall through to the kitchen had been knocked through to create a stylish island-cum-breakfast bar with enough space for a six seater dining table, "But the boys had to work out their horns first huh?"
The decoration in the room was soft, clean whites and pale blues with riotous colour thrown by the richly knotted rugs on both floor and walls and the blue glass evil eye's which hung everywhere. Maxie commanded my attention, moving around the kitchen, laying the dining table with a variety of dishes the likes of which I had never seen. The food smelt and looked amazing but every time Maxie passed by me the scent and shape of him drove all thoughts of food from my mind. I tried to think of snow, of anything that wasn't going to make me lose it there in the dining room. Finally everything was ready and everyone sat down and the richly laden table.
Maxie's mother was as different from his as could be imagined, apart from the height. She was pale, blond, willowy thin, with the kind of look favoured by actresses who played stars-who-fell-to-earth and elves. She smiled and greeted us in perfectly normally accented English.
"I'm so glad you could make it over, and those brownies smell amazing. Thanks so much for bringing them."
"They're mum's specialty," I answered quickly, stopping mum from saying something stupid. You never can trust parents, "and this all looks wonderful."
We were served couscous; little shaped domes of oily white and brown rice mixed together; a lamb tagine with honey, prunes and apricots that smelt of cinnamon and made my mouth water; there were wedges of sweet potato in butter and pepper; a salad thick with long pale green grilled peppers which were not as spicy as their shape suggested; a pile of flat breads the height of my school book stack, smelling of garlic and scents I didn't recognise; and a dish of marinated chicken in deep red spices and fried to within an inch of its life. It was divine.
Maxie sat across from me and I couldn't touch him. The near-farness drove me mad as I ate, watching him laugh and talk, chatting and eating, picking lamb from the hot tagine with hid fingers. He looked so relaxed, but every time or eyes met I could see that it was a second skin, a mask over the boiling rolling heat under our skin. We talked of school, neatly skirting around the fighting issue, moving houses and London. Babaanne told of us of her hometown, we all discussed the food, the recipes in snippets of conversation. Mum loved the decoration, the blue glass and tapestries; I was enchanted by the play of light against Maxie's skin when he swallowed.
I jumped up to help Maxie clear plates, and in the not-privacy of the kitchen our arms touched as we stacked and rinsed plates and bowls. Maxie's fingers caught the edge of my waistband and I didn't breathe for so long I wondered if I'd died right there and then. Our families discussed us like we weren't there, trading academic achievements and anecdotes as we brought platters of baklava and Turkish delight to the table, followed by giant blue and purple meringues and the plate of sumptuous brownies drippy with chocolate and nuts.
Maxie got crumbs everywhere, nearly dropped the sleeve of his shirt in honey syrup and I realised that his messiness was intrinsic. By the end of the meal the area around his plate was speckled with all colours of crumbs and splashes and drops. Mine was still pristine and white. I could only imagine the ruin of his bedroom.
Once dessert was eaten and coffee was fetched Maxie turned to his mother and asked if we might go to his room. As got up mum grabbed my arm and hissed at me.
"Be nice!" I smiled, thinking that fighting was going to be the least of the sounds they might hear from Maxie's room. I didn't know what I was going to do when I got there but I knew no one was getting punched tonight.
I followed Maxie up the stairs with a stomach full of food and butterflies, a heart full of jumping beans and kangaroos and I was unable to tear my gaze from the shape of him, tightly muscled and dense despite his huge frame, as I ascended. I knew where to turn in his hallway, to the wall the other side of my own. Just as I had suspected, Maxie's room was a mess. It had obviously been cleaned, or at least tidied, but the edges of the floor were littered with odd socks and discarded bit of clothing. The desk was a riot of papers and books, the keyboard half buried under all the art materials. Unlike my own books, Maxie's were piled, stacked, arranged haphazardly on two shelves and then arranged in seemingly random piles all around the room. A stack by the bed were serving as a beside cabinet for his alarm clock and what I instantly thought of as 'our' copy of 'The Dead Sea Poems'. His desk chair was covered in clothes leaving the bed the only place to sit. Neither of us sat.
I stared at the Strange Land poster on the wall by his bed, the same one I had, in the same place, and I knew that here was where this boy I desired lay at night and spoke to me, shared secrets and whispered poetry. The words I had spoken had flown through that wall into this room and my secrets were no longer private. I remembered telling him about...that, in the bathrooms at Hyde Park. Those words had entered this room, and I felt crushed by the oppressive weight of the memory. And then music, soft and familiar, filled the air.
'Many's the time I ran with you down/The rainy roads of our old town/Many the lives we lived in each day/And buried altogether...
'Don't laugh at me/Don't look away...
'You'll follow me back/With the sun in your eyes/And on your own/Bedshaped/With legs of stone/You'll knock on my door/And up we'll go/In white light...'
"Jes." The way Maxie said my name made me shiver as he stepped towards me. "Thanks for coming tonight."
I couldn't think of a single thing to say that would have come out right, so I took a half step forwards and found him looking up at me. I was tall, but Maxie could look me nearly straight in the face and I desperately wanted to touch his dark caramel skin. We breathed in tandem, out and in, sharing the oxygen between us until the air was hot. I became lost in his eyes, a swirl of gold better than the riches of any palace anywhere. I flinched as my hand touched his, because I hadn't meant to move.
"Maxie..." my voice was hoarse, broken with wanting.
"He..." Maxie made a little half chuckle, and one strong thick fingered hand pushed into me hair and right through my defences. I felt myself begin to melt, his other hand on the skin at the back of my neck, and I heard his voice rasp as he spoke in my ear, "His coat was suede and soft/and chamois to the touch..."
My breath hitched, my lungs suddenly working against me in this moment where I could think of nothing but the heat of his skin on my own, the emptiness of my hands, the pounding of my heart like the forges of Hephaestus in the sky. I touched the silk of his shirt, so white and crisp it almost didn't look right on him despite its obvious beauty. The hardness of his muscles under my hand, the jump of his abdomen fascinated me and we were standing toe to toe on Maxie's terracotta and cream rug. His hand in the back of my hair tilted my face to look at him and our lips met. Touched and pulled away, a jolt like electricity that ran through my groin. And then were kissed.
His lips were dry, soft and closed on mine with a deliberate slowness. I had no desire to pull away and tightened my fist in the cloth of his shirt as his fingers wound into my hair. Lips parted, and his mouth was warm and wet and perfect. Teeth clashed painfully, a weird chuckle, I tilted my head and then his tongue was moving against my own and we were both everywhere and nowhere between tongue and teeth and lips. I had no idea how I had survived this long without him. I wrapped my arms around the strong muscles of his back and by degrees we worked closer until there was no space between us, pressed together from chest to knee. A new hardness lay alongside my own familiar erection, and we olnly parted lips when the desire to breathe outweigh the desire to kiss him.
"Yeah," Maxie's breathing was laboured, his pupils blown, and his heart beat against my chest as hard as his fists had, "Wow."
I didn't want to voice anything further, but now that we weren't kissing I felt like I had to say something just to take the edge off.
"What do we do now?"
"Go running?" Maxie's grin was rueful, "Big dinner like that..." he must have seen the admonished look on my face, "Hey Jes, it's OK." Arms tightened around me to make my ribs creak, "We've got time."
"How is it that you know everything?" Maxie's confidence was dazzling.
"I'm a god." He shrugged, "They're going to call for us soon. We've been ages."
I let my brain tune into the music, and focused on clock. We'd been kissing for well over half an hour.
'Were too old to just stand here waiting to break apart/Drag your heart up to the starting line'
"I wanted..." I stopped, having no frame of reference to explain what I had wanted. Every fibre I had burned for him, but I wasn't sure how, or even why.
"We have the wall," Maxie said, "Somewhere only we know."
I nodded, too scared to speak. I couldn't stand to be away from him, not to touch him. Maxie slipped his hand into my own and I swear my heart fell right out my chest and into his hand.
Then Babaanne was calling up the stairs, and I knew I was going to have to let go.