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Innocence Waning - 11. Chapter 11

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I started my now annual road trip around Europe for the summer and I stopped editing this finished work. I have since started again and have edited the next four chapters so they are in the queue to be posted. Thanks for being patient! If you want to read about my road trip around Europe, check out my website. :) XX

The marble dining room table is being used for feasting instead of being danced upon for a change. The medium-rare lamb is as succulent as Austin’s lips and almost as tasty when paired with the local red wine. Fine dining at the Morrison household usually involves robust discussion about politics which ultimately devolves into calling various leaders, both domestically and internationally, obscene names which always is amusing. Tonight, around the table, the chatter plays out as per the nightly script. In between the words Austin chooses to compliment Mel on the meal and repeatedly nodding his head, we collectively attempt to solve the nuanced problems of the world with a knife and fork in each hand. Austin noticeably is restraining himself in fear that if he dares to contradict Daniel or Mel’s right-wing conservative beliefs that he will be admonished, or worse, I feel. Mel aptly slices meat from the leg of the lamb that we have named Dolly in between gulps of wine from the large crystal glass. Dolly was sacrificed to fulfil our dietary requirements and when matched with the hearty rich dark gravy, it tastes wonderful. After finishing two large glasses of Bailey's Shiraz, I notice the ghost of the Australian bushranger, Ned Kelly, now dancing on the table as our discussion of political politics becomes more enthusiastic.

Austin dramatically raises his hand which immediately silent my father. "Daniel, my mother wants to know if you are going to Kelly's wedding." Austin knows that I do not speak with my mother, and at first, I find it appalling that he would ask Daniel a question that could potentially cause outrage. My shock quickly morphs into curiosity as I tap my glass of wine against my nose and wait for an answer. I wonder if Austin has been affected by the spirit of Ned Kelly. His ghost stops dancing on the table long enough to take an interest in the question also.

The room goes silent for a noticeable period and I chew on a morsel of lamb for much longer than I need to. Daniel gulps wine from his glass and abruptly places it on the table. "Austin, please don't take this the wrong way as I am happy to discuss anything and everything with you, and I sincerely hope that you will forgive me for saying this, but you need to tell your mother that she needs to stop stirring shit up. Her life seems to be a daily audition for The Real Housewives of Melbourne who just feeds off conflict and drama. Honestly Austin, I don't know how your father puts up with her." Daniel takes a drink and I hope with it, his honest assessment of Julie McGuire has finished. Mel continues to eat her twice baked potatoes with lamb reduction and judging from the look on her face, appears to be amused. "What I find fascinating about your mother is that she could have called me, sent me a text, e-mail or all the above which I know she can do, and frequently does by the way, as she is always sending spam and trying to guilt people into donating for whatever cause she is championing. Instead, she uses you as her pawn to try to stir some shit up here. Julie knows goddamned well that I am not going to Kelly's wedding. Hell, I only found out about it today when Chezdon sent me a message about it. Do you think either one of us is counting the goddamned days down with giddy anticipation?" My father is obviously agitated and takes another gulp of wine. I feel like I need to interject or else his soliloquy will continue all night.

Interrupting my father is always a risk and seeing how much Mel is entertained by his diatribe, that and how mortified Austin looks, calls me to arms. "Austin, that sums it up really. Voldemort is not loved too much around this place, so I guess you can tell Julie the answer is no." I reach to grab the wine bottle and extend my arm as far as I can to refill my father's glass and strategically attempt to distract him. "So, dad, are you going to China anytime soon?" I hope by mentioning Asia, he will become distracted and begin to provide expert commentary as to what he really thinks of his subordinates there.

Daniel takes another drink. I close my eyes as I wait for him to start to speak again waiting for him to utter the first word to see if my subterfuge was successful or not. "Kelly and your mother should both keep auditioning for The Real Housewives of Melbourne as they will have something to do with their lives instead of trying to fuck around with me." My father was friends with Austin's dad until a few years ago. Obviously, my mother and Julie McGuire have stayed in touch and remain close, probably just to irritate my father if you subscribe to his opinion on our family dynamics. The adults were best mates of sorts when my parents were married even before I was friends with Austin. Thankfully our friendship developed independently of our respective parents' squabbling and having a falling out.

"My mother is a drama queen, I know." Austin looks frustrated. He will not let this topic go and I know he is quite aware that if he continues, he is going to get another unsolicited assessment of Julie McGuire. "Sorry, but my mother told me that I need to tell you something as this information should come from someone that you actually like, and not via e-mail or anything like that." I assume that my father likes Austin after his positive reaction to my earlier revelation that he is my nearly one-day-old boyfriend.

My father appears intrigued and picks up the wine glass and begins to swirl its contents around. This is a habit that I have also recently acquired, which leads me to believe that I would look rather sinister doing it. Daniel looks quite menacing as his mouth appears distorted as I stare at it through the crystal. "Okay, I will bite. What important information do I need to know?" Daniel takes another drink. His curiosity got the best of him, much like the fabled cat.

Austin delicately places his fork on the plate and then wipes his lips with the black cloth serviette that was previously resting on his lap. "Your ex-wife has M-S." Austin is interrupted with his mouth still agape. He has more to say.

"What the!" Mel exclaims. Mel rarely says anything about my mother as it just leads to unnecessary tension. Since she handled my parents' divorce proceedings she feels she should not get involved in any discussion involving Kelly. "Whether it is true or not, oh Jesus. Christ." Mel appears lost for words and as a Barrister, I am surprised. I pause to take note of this moment so that I can give her a hard time later. I will remind her that she was so shocked that she could not speak but then the horrible news registers in my mind belatedly. Voldemort is going to die. After scratching my eyebrow a few times, I consider what to say next as I am now also speechless.

Austin picks up his fork again and is about to poke a morsel of lamb before he decides it is time to finish the message from Julie. "My mother says that she is getting married. It is all rush-rush because the doctors expect her to be in a wheelchair full-time shortly. Kelly doesn't want to be pushed down the aisle. That is all I know, so don't shoot the messenger."

My father looks exasperated and continues to inhale the air from the depths of his large empty wine glass. "Sorry Austin, I hope I didn't come across like a dickhead. My anger and frustration with those women have nothing to do with you, and it doesn't do much good for me to talk rubbish about your mother, so I apologise. Please tell Julie that you passed on the message and that we are giving it the attention that it deserves."

Feeling confused, I want more information. "Isn't M-S what Michael J. Fox has?" I consider his character in The Good Wife which I watch with Mel every week religiously.

"No Chez, Fox has Parkinson's. M-S is short for Multiple Sclerosis and it is a disease of the nervous system. It really doesn't end well so I wish her luck." Mel utters and starts to swirl the wine in her glass as vigorously as when I last masturbated. My thirst for red wine intensifies and I pour another glass. Without thinking, I raise it in the direction of the ghost of Ned Kelly who takes notice and beings to dance on the table near Daniel.

"Wow, that it is a bit tragic." I mimic my father and inhale the air from the wine glass and think about getting Austin off. The tragic news about my mother strangely doesn't bother me and in fact, it is distracting me from enjoying the amazing meal.

"What do they have you reading this term? Have you been told yet?" Daniel puts an end to the topic of mortality and fortunately, does not provide any parting comments about either of the maternal figures in our young lives.

Austin and I are in the same English Literature class and he appears relieved that the topic has changed. I let him answer whilst I first look at the deep hues of the wine that is left in my glass and then enjoy a taste. "The first tale is called The Metamorphosis by a bloke called Kafka."

Immediately, begins to start laughing hysterically. At first, I surmise that he going to fall off his chair and more alarmingly spill his wine on the floor as he buckles over not bothering to try to control himself. When the amusement passes, which takes a few minutes and gives me the opportunity to enjoy a few mouthfuls of the twice cooked potatoes and pungent yet aromatic gravy, I pause to stare out the window at the Melbourne skyline and wonder what it would feel like putting my penis inside Austin's arsehole. My wild imagination rapidly gets me hard and I hope that the spirited conversation which will commence soon will distract the table long enough, so I can adjust my painful erection which is pushed awkwardly behind the black denim.

"The irony is really amusing me Austin. I pay good after-tax dollars for Chezdon to go to a private school. Jesus Christ!” My father raises his voice and holds the empty glass of wine to his side. “What a load of shit and I can’t believe that school is making you read that garbage. I can sum up that assignment quickly boys, so make some mental notes and you will be guaranteed a high distinction for anything you write about bloody Kafka. The main character in that novella is really a caricature of your father, Austin. The Metamorphosis is about a depressed salesman who undergoes what some people think is a horrifying yet surreal transformation." I don't think anyone notices me rolling my eyes as my father steps back on his soapbox which gives me the opportunity to force my hand into my jeans under the table and adjust my cock without anyone noticing.

Since Daniel associated the main character of this novella with Austin's father, I am looking forward to reading the story now as it seemed very boring judging from the synopsis on the back cover of the book. My father fills his empty glass with wine before educating us further. "Kafka is from Prague, which I had the displeasure of visiting not long ago after I had to go to Budapest to get the dodgy Hungarian office in line. Prague is not only gloomy but claustrophobic. However, the Czechs celebrate Kafka like he is a national hero that repelled the invading German armies, when all he was, is a social outcast that spent his days brunching, much like what your father does these days Austin."

Half-way through Daniel’s damning assessment of Kafka and after having a go at Austin's father, Mel sets her glass of wine down, covers her mouth and begins to chuckle. She continues long past my father finishes his rant about Kevin McGuire, what is being taught at Melbourne Grammar and poor old Kafka who I assume is dead and buried. My father takes another drink of wine and snickers. "The Czechs even built a museum to honour old Kafka. What is in it that would be interesting? Who would know though as I would think it would be as boring as the man himself. What I found fascinating though is outside of the museum is a piece of art by another Czech bloke that features two men urinating into a pond in the shape of the Czech Republic. If you send a text message to a number that is advertised near the installation, the statues will move their bronze cocks and spell out the number with their urine. That sums up the Czech Republic." I feel the need to relieve my bladder after the sublime description of a country that I doubt I will ever visit.

Mel continues to cackle. Even I find the humour in this nonsense. "Austin, welcome to the Morrison family." I reach for my wine glass and then make a standing offer. "Join us for dinner whenever you want, it is never dull." Daniel finally resumes eating his meal. "You mentioned earlier that you should do some reading tonight. Are you going to get stuck in the Kafka now? I know I am intrigued by this assignment." I now want to read about this tragic yet depressed salesman and see what sort of transformation he undergoes and further understand the graphic description associated with Kevin McGuire.

"No, I don't think I have much desire to read tonight. You are a funny guy Daniel. You should open for Josh Thomas at the Melbourne Comedy Festival." Austin decides he wants more wine and picks up the bottle not knowing it is empty. Mel is quick to stand up and source a new vintage from the wine refrigerator whilst continuing to giggle. I am vexed as to whether Austin is being serious. I assume that the descriptions of Austin’s parents are accurate considering he knows them both well. A depressed salesman and a mother that is suited to star on a local reality television program. Austin glances at me curiously, no doubt wishing that he could read my mind. "What a great meal and it was certainly a lively conversation. This sort of thing never happens in my house. To be honest, we hardly ever sit down and eat together as a family, so I really appreciate this."

Mel twists the screwcap off a new bottle of Baileys Shiraz and fluidly begins to refill Austin's glass and then hers. She still has a smile on her face. "There is never a dull moment around here, believe me." She raises her glass. "A toast. To Austin. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to give some shit to the cops. That woman copper was such a bitch. She wouldn't even look at me when we were outside. Don't worry Austin, we will not be telling your parents about what happened earlier. Not like we speak with them anyway." Glasses meet in the air; multiple chinking sounds resonate throughout the room.

"Really? I would never have thought." Austin takes a sip of wine and rolls his eyes

Obviously amused, my father begins to chortle. Not at the same volume that he achieved when he first heard about Kafka being taught to our impressionable minds courtesy of his after-tax income though. He harshly wipes at his mouth with his serviette and then slaps Austin on his back with enthusiasm. "You are a good kid Austin. I am glad you can manage to put up with my only son. You are certainly quality compared to those parents of yours." I believe the wine is starting to affect my father and he is no longer measuring the full impact of the words he spews. The look on his face immediately changes and it appears he immediately realised that he may have crossed the invisible line. "Do me a favour. Take that cricket bat you beat up that bloke with home with you as a souvenir of this momentous day. Not only can it be a symbol of lessons learned all around, but it can also serve as an icon symbolising a positive and happy way forward with Chezdon. Every time you see it, know that you have a family in Southbank that you can always depend on. Is that okay with you Chez? I will get you another bat signed by Michael Clarke. Hell, I will get you one signed by the whole goddamned team."

"Yeah, that is cool. Will you take it Austin?" Even though I am buzzed, I know what my father is doing. Earlier Austin commented that I can play mind games with people but my father is the master manipulator. By sending the bat home with Austin, he is effectively sending a message to his parents saying that he has essentially won and will always be one-up on them. At least, that is what I assume.

"Yeah sure. I don't even like cricket, but I am sure it will be valuable some day since Michael Clarke signed it." Austin smiles.

"Spoken like a true capitalist. Kafka will be turning in his grave." Daniel pats Austin on the shoulder and then wipes his mouth for the last time with the black serviette before standing up. "That was amazing Mel, thank you." He walks over and grasps Mel's shoulders. He leans down and kisses her gently on the cheek. I know this is all a show for Austin as the adults never engage in any sort of display of affection in front of me. He will certainly report all of this newly discovered intelligence to his mother when she asks him one thousand questions.

"That was so good Mel. Thank you!" I follow my father's example, wipe my mouth briskly with the serviette before abandoning it. I then walk around to the other side of the table and kiss Mel on her right cheek. Mel will not mind being used as a pawn to advance our happy family narrative and ham it up a bit, which I know will please my father. I excuse myself to go to the restroom, leaving Austin and Mel alone at the table so they can talk about what I assume will be James and everything else that I no longer want to think about. The full stomach of food and wine has given me courage and I am not too concerned what is said about me any longer after having earlier confessed to my father that I am gay. Nothing else that is said now can even come close to the magnitude of that revelation.

After I finish urinating, I am conscious to wipe my arse. I rub the Nivea sports deodorant chemical around the holiest of holes and roll some of the chemicals under my ball sack, as I want to feel clean, fresh and confident, knowing there is a high probability I will be spending the night in the same bed as Austin. With all the walking around today, I decide I should change my underwear also. The cotton has absorbed a fair amount of sweat and should I get into a vulnerable position later, I don't want any horrible odour of my private areas to deter Austin should he be motivated to get on with sexy times. I consider taking a few minutes to masturbate but instead reserve my hot load as I am hopeful that I can deposit it somewhere inside Austin later.

After getting dressed, I abandon my shoes and then notice my phone resting on the bed comfortably. I have been separated from it for what seems to be an eternity. With one of the most dramatic days of my life nearly over, I casually grab the device, quietly wondering what has been happening outside of Southbank. Ten missed calls and forty new messages greet me after waking up the display. The vast majority of the text messages are from Jayden who is concerned that I have been kidnapped. There are a few missed calls from the dreaded private number and my frustration level increases immediately as I remember that someone keeps ringing and hanging up on me. I immediately tap out a message to Jayden and tell him to calm down and then write that I left my phone in my room whilst I was dealing with some family stuff, which is true. I explain in a few words that Voldemort announced that she is getting married and it caused a stir in the happy Morrison household. A follow-up message explains that my father has been on his soapbox and telling us the way things should be in the world. My best mate will certainly understand the comments regarding my father since he is my one friend that goads him on and has heard his spiel many times. Jayden also things that Daniel is hilarious. I toss my phone back on the bed next to Austin's. Thoughts of what I want to do to Austin immediately flood my imagination and I lose track of time staring at my bedsheets, only to have my lurid thoughts interrupted by Austin as he walks into my messy bedroom. I lift my head and smile. "Hey, hottie." I don't know why I chose that term of endearment, but it appears to please him as he smiles.

Austin puts his hands on my thighs and softly kisses my cheek. After withdrawing his hands, he walks towards my bathroom and slides the mirrored doors closed. "What a day!" I hear him shout. The toilet flushes not long later and the two mirrored doors open once again. Before leaving, he spots the small bottle of Nivea deodorant that I recently applied to my groin area near the sink. He grabs it, removes the cap off and then pulls up the left side of the shirt that he earlier borrowed and rolls the chemical on his armpit. He then repeats the process on the other side of his body.

"What are you doing mate? Are you going to hang out here, go home or what?" I sit on the bed and then quickly realise that action may be too suggestive. I quickly stand up and then sit on the chair at my desk. I cross my legs and attempt to look relaxed and uninterested.

"I will just stay here if that is okay. Mel said she will make up the spare room." In my mind, I curse the bitch for thwarting my evil and lustful plans. I will have a hard word with her, and I predict that she is expecting it, which will entertain her to no end. Everyone is playing a game and I hope to win Austin as the prize.

"That is cool." I casually say and then focus my attention on my laptop. I feign some interest in the Windows login screen, but I never type my password. "We can watch a movie in here if you want. You can sleep in here also, that would be cool. Like you did on Saturday. It was nice waking up next to you. Nothing has to happen."

Austin walks over to the bed and lays down on it. He reaches out to grab his phone, makes some swiping gestures on its display and then looks at it intently for a few seconds, which encourages me to turn my attention back to my laptop. I log in and appear disinterested and scroll through countless unwanted e-mail. I spend a few minutes deleting spam messages whilst Austin re-connects to the world digitally. Eventually, I hear an ominous sigh and a light thud. I turn around and notice that Austin has tossed his phone onto the bed. It is out of reach and he is laying down with his hands interlocked behind his head. He appears relaxed for the first time all day. "I just messaged my mother and said I am staying here tonight."

My heart begins to beat faster, and I can hear the dull thudding sound as it beats inside of my chest. I press both the windows icon and the 'L' key simultaneously which locks my laptop and after closing the bedroom door, I join Austin on my bed. I reach for the remote control and power on the Samsung television and we both get an idea of what is playing by looking at the Smart Hub summary screen. "Do you want to watch a movie? Looks like it is just rubbish on free-to-air."

"Sure."

I press the 'source' button which allows me to wirelessly connect to the media centre in the living room which gives me access to the collection of movies, recorded television and music. I deftly place the remote control on Austin's chest. "Happy one day anniversary. Your choice."

Austin presses the down arrow and scrolls through the 'Movies' folder. Whilst he considers various titles to play, I decide it is time to reveal something about myself. "Not to bring up a bad memory, but I am happy that you shared the tale of the home invasion with me earlier. Thanks for trusting me."

"No worries." Austin continues to scroll through the list of cinematic masterpieces saved for all posterity. “What do you want to watch?”

Not caring about watching a movie, I ignore the innocent question. "I also have a scar that has a story, and I pretty sure that you haven't seen it." This piques Austin's interest. He stops pressing the 'down arrow' button and turns his head to look at me. "Really, where is it?"

"Well, first the story." Austin appears interested and I attempt to find my words which is proving difficult because of the wine. As my mouth is dry, I roll off my bed and walk to the bathroom. I quickly swallow water from the sink tap before returning to take my previous position next to Austin before commencing with story time. "Do you remember last year at school when Jayden and I were mucking around; when I picked him up and injured my back and missed a week of school?"

Austin looks confused again, no doubt trying to associate my back being pulled out with the concept of a scar. “The story I spun last year was a lie. Nothing happened to my back. Originally, I thought there was something wrong with it, but it was something more fucked up. My ball rotated in its sack and twisted up after that physical exertion. As it didn't untwist fast enough, I ended up in the emergency room the following night and the doctors at the Alfred Hospital removed my left nut as it had died. It was strangled to death if you can believe it. I was out of school for the next week as I couldn't walk and needed time to recover. Nobody obviously knows this trivia as it is embarrassing. I was in so much pain and doped up on codeine that I wasn't even in the mood for Nandos."

"Jesus man. Why didn't you go to the hospital after it happened?" Austin appears shocked and is hanging on every word I have to say. “Fuck me.”

"It had happened before, but after I took some painkillers in the past, it always sorted itself out naturally after a few hours of pain. I just thought this was normal, but the next day when I couldn't walk, and after a fair number of painkillers were not working, I told rang Mel and she took me to the hospital. They told me if I waited much longer I would have ended up with blood poisoning and probably died. That was scary."

"Are you fertile? I mean, would you be able to knock up a chick?" Austin is really interested in the specifics. “Fuck, that is awful.”

"Of course, I still have one working nut. I just seem to make less of a mess. My father thought that my voice would change after the surgery. I think he was surprised when it didn't." Austin laughs. I feel like I am manipulating Austin in a way, and decide to see how far I can go with it. "Want to see the scar?"

"Um... sure." Austin’s go wide, and his eyebrows disappear behind his fringe again. I first unbutton my black skinny jeans and proceed to unzip them. I carefully pull the denim off me, being careful not to pull off my clean boxer briefs off in the process. Once the jeans are clear from my feet they are discarded on the floor. Looking truly captivated, Austin props himself up and rests on his elbow facing me.

"I just figured I would tell you this now as if we ever have an intimate moment-" I pause. "I hope when we do, and you notice that I am missing a nut, or that I have a scar on the sack, I don't want the intimacy delayed for question and answers."

"Fair enough." Austin is certainly interested in my own tale of woe. “Jesus.”

I consider just pulling my blue Bonds underwear down exposing my junk and closing my eyes, so Austin can have a look at the whole box and dice. I think back to the painful recovery period after the emergency surgery and the pain that I experienced walking, which quashes any hope for my cock to suddenly become engorged and really embarrass myself during this vulnerable time. Instead, I roll onto my side and face Austin and rest my head on a pillow. I strategically grab the cotton fabric of my underwear that is between my legs and pull it out and then to the right, liberating my slightly hairy testicle. Austin moves his head very close to the prize and touches the fine scar tissue with a single finger. "Jesus, that must have hurt." Feeling self-conscious now that I have shared my embarrassing loss with Austin, I banish the sheath of my manhood back into exile back behind the safety of the blue cotton briefs.

"It was a bitch. The first day after the surgery was horrible. My father literally had to drag me to the toilet when I needed to use it. He also had to put my arse in the bathtub, so I could clean myself. Strangely, I didn't feel self-conscious at all after that as I guess the pain and immobility were far more important to me, unlike now." I roll back onto my back and interlock my hands behind my head. "After that near-death experience, I thought that you have to live every day without having any regrets." I roll back to the right and grab Austin and try to sit on top of him, but he pushes me away. I make another attempt to break his defences by first kissing his ear and then biting his earlobe before I try to force my tongue into his mouth. He thwarts my efforts again and pushes me away, this time force.

"Can't we just chill out? You can hold me or my hand if you want, but I am not in the mood for anything else. It would be nice to be with you and not have you just try to molest me every third minute. It has been a long and ridiculous day and I am tired. I told you before I am not going to have sex with you on our first date if you can even consider today a date. God, we only got together this afternoon and look at everything that has happened. You must be drunk if you think you are going to fuck me right now." Austin starts to pull back the sheets and slides his body under them still clothed. He makes a fair point and I really don't think that if I was questioned by the police for an assault that I would be up for sex. I follow Austin's lead and get under the sheets and then slither next to him slowly. I push my arm under his pillow and put my other arm on his chest. After a few seconds and he doesn’t push me away, I slide my hand in between his shirt and navel and then try to pull his shirt off him.

"Jesus Christ, can you please calm down and just lay next to me." Austin pulls his shirt down, covering his exposed naval. “Fuck.”

"What is the big deal? I thought you just slept in your underwear. At least you did the other night."

"Just stop Chezdon. I promise I will not ask you for much, but just this one time, do this for me. Just relax and chill out." His eyes go wide again so I oblige and reason with myself that patience is indeed a virtue. I will get what I want in time and relish in the buzz that I am experiencing from the wine. I sit up and pull my shirt off. I toss it on the floor next to my discarded skinny jeans. Ignoring Austin who is staring at me intently, I find my phone and then sit back and start to read messages. First, I ignore the ones sent by Jayden and intently focus my eyes to read the words that Bryce sent. After a few minutes of reviewing messages, all similar in length of text that Kafka has written, I chuckle. Austin jerks his head and stares at me. "What?"

"Do you remember Bryce telling us about his father shaking his mother and her getting pissed off and going to their holiday home?" I shouldn't be laughing as this is tragic. Tragically funny though.

"No, I don't."

"Oh yeah, you weren't with us at the time. He told us about this over lunch on Saturday. Well, his father likes to hold his mother when they sleep and she has a habit of farting on him and waking him up. He got pissed off the other night and shook her after it happened, so she got pissed off, packed a bag and went to their house in Sorrento. Anyway, it seems she came back earlier and now wants a divorce. Bryce is devastated." Judging by the frown on Austin's face, he doesn't seem amused.

"That is sad and really sucks, and you laughed? You are a monster without a heart." I didn't think Austin would react in such a way so I must backpedal.

"I only laughed because I thought of the original story and how he told it. I think it is cool that a married couple sleeps like that. I really hope that years from now, I am holding you all night. I don't care if you fart on me and wake me up. It does suck that she is leaving though. I feel bad for Bryce." I smile and raise my eyebrows, but that doesn't placate Austin.

"Violence against women isn't a laughing matter." I need to put an end to this conversation as soon as this isn't very positive pillow talk.

"I totally agree. Absolutely. One hundred per cent. Violence against boys isn't a laughing matter either, and I would never do that to you." Hopefully, that statement mollifies Austin however he still appears agitated.

"Great conversation to have in bed, Chez, only hours ago, I beat up some bloke. Open mouth. Insert foot. Anything else you want to say?" Now is the time to say nothing. I know Richie Benaud would say the bare minimum.

"Sorry." I revert my attention back to my phone and send Bryce a message expressing my manufactured outrage. I then ask if he wants to catch up on Saturday for lunch, which is turning into a weekly engagement. Austin finds the remote control and resumes the task of scrolling through movies available on the media centre. I respond to Jayden's messages and detail some of the highlights of the day. Instead of providing a one-line update about the relationship status between Austin and me, I instead activate the camera, extend my arm and take a photo of us next to each other in bed. Austin is holding the remote and I am in a state of undress under the duvet. I send the photo to Jayden knowing his reaction will be as timeless as the wind.

"What are you doing?" Austin stops scrolling through the selection of movies and attempts to grab my phone from my hand.

"Just messaging Jayden, I sent him a photo of us. Look." I tap the photo that is part of our messaging dialogue. Austin looks intently at the display.

"Well, I guess people were going to find out about us eventually. So much for keeping my sexuality under wraps." Austin seems defeated and looks exhausted.

Seconds after sending the message, my phone begins to vibrate as I grasp it in my hand. "It is Jayden. He rarely rings."

"Of course, it is. I really don't think he is ringing to ask you if you read any of the Kafka tonight." Austin must be settling down and feeling more comfortable as his sardonic wit is on display again. "Just answer it or he will hassle us all night."

"Hola, amigo." This is the first time that I have ever answered the phone using a Spanish greeting. Jayden immediately begins speaking and doesn't stop talking for at least a minute. Periodically he uses blasphemy strategically. He expresses his shocked indignation as reading into the meaning of getting a photo of Austin and me in bed on a Monday night like some old ‘married couple’ begins to ask questions that I am not given an opportunity to answer. Commentary ensues and after he repeats the word 'shocking' ten times, I decide that it would be funny to respond with, "can you repeat that? You broke up for most of that."

Austin begins to giggle as he is aware that I heard every word that Jayden spewed. He was shouting so loudly over the phone that not only his neighbours but his father who lives 3,000 kilometres away would have heard him. Jayden proceeds to use more colourful language, repeating most of what he originally uttered verbatim and just before he runs out of breath he ends his commentary. "I was only joking the other day when I said that the two of you would be hot if you hooked up. How did this happen? I am so confused. I just saw you last night and now you in bed with Austin? What happened to James?"

Finally, being afforded the opportunity to say something, I articulate to the highlights of my date with James, the subsequent rendezvous at his dirty flat, Austin's confessional at Nandos, James making his unplanned visit to shake me down for thirty dollars and how Austin eventually knocked him down with the cricket bat. I finish the comprehensive update by explaining how the courtroom drama that played out in my apartment with the police and Mel. "Did I catch you up mate? Now you see why I have been a bit distracted and not paying attention to my phone since leaving school today. Oh yeah, my mother is getting married and has M-S also."

"Jesus Christ mate. So much drama, this is so fucked up that it all must be true. You should write it all down and sell it as a book. You would make a fortune." I ponder that statement for a few seconds as I do believe it would make for a good story but my writing skills are not my strongest asset. "I have heard enough. I think I am going to go steal one a Valium from my mother, so I can chill out after hearing all of this shit."

"You do that mate. We got stuck into the wine with the parentals earlier, so maybe you should too. Oh, Bryce's mother is asking for a divorce. I forgot to mention that to you."

"Jesus. It is all happening. Well, I am going to go now and read some more of this Kafka bullshit. What a loser." Suppressing my laugh is futile and I erupt into hysterics. Tears quickly form in my eyes as I attempt to convey some of the random facts in between breaths that my father muttered about Frank Kafka. Austin begins to laugh. "I think you need my mother's Valium mate, I don't know what you find so fucking funny."

My laughter subsides to the point that I can speak coherently. "When you rang, Austin said you certainly weren't calling to talk about bloody Kafka. He was fucking wrong."

"Go do whatever you are going to do with Austin. Go see if your father has a drawer of Valium's and have one, you need a few, mate. Talk to you tomorrow at lunch. Later." Jayden doesn't give me the chance to fare him well before ending the call.

"Are we going to watch a movie, or are you going to gossip all night?" Austin has stopped pushing the down button on the remote and appears to be ready to play one of the Harry Potter movies. The face of Voldemort flashes before me and I momentarily feel a sense of sadness knowing that my mother is going to exit this life in pain. Within minutes of the movie starting, both the stressors of the day and the wine overwhelms me and I fall into a deep sleep.

Copyright © 2018 Chezdon Mitchell; All Rights Reserved.
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