As he drove round Hampstead Heath, Richard sang:
My oh my, what a wonderful day!
Plenty of sunshine heading my way
Richard parked in Highgate, in Pond Square. He noticed a bonfire, a pile of dry autumn leaves and twigs, crackling merrily. Municipal maintenance was clearly in hand, but the sweepers had equally clearly knocked off for an early lunch, leaving the bonfire unattended. Richard looked into an estate agent's window out of curiosity and caught sight of his own reflection. Normally this was a cause of satisfaction: not, however, on this occasion.
I look too smart, thought Richard, for what I want to do next. He drove to the Highgate Squash Club, where the attendant knew him, although he was not a member; he had sometimes played there with friends. He asked to use one of the changing rooms. He produced a holdall from the boot of his car; then he went inside and stripped. His smart blazer and flannels, carefully folded, went into the bag with the shirt, tie and polished oxfords. Presently Richard reappeared, wearing close-fitting belted jeans, a blue open-necked shirt, which disclosed a gold chain and pendant round his neck, trainers and a brown leather bomber jacket. He locked the bag and his valuables in the boot of his car. Then he drove to Highgate Ponds and parked. With a couple of rough khaki army towels under his arm, he strode over to an enclosure surrounded by bushes and a high corrugated-iron fence: the men-only bathing place. He pushed open the gate. Inside the enclosure, out of the breeze, it was private and quite warm. Some rusty weights and barbells lay scattered about. On one wall a large old, rust-spotted mirror was fixed, so that hard men could exercise and watch themselves doing so. No-one was using the equipment that afternoon. A few young men were lying about on towels, stark naked. More than one of them looked up when Richard came in.
Cheerfully aware of their interest, Richard stripped to his minimal burgundy-red briefs. At a pinch, they would just-about pass for swimming trunks, which was why he tended to wear them. You never knew when you might get the chance to have a swim and it was not always possible to do so naked. Richard checked himself in the mirror and was happy with what he saw. He got a few more admiring glances. The briefs covered his genitals but did not completely cover his buttocks. He passed through another door, giving onto the swimming pond. He ran along the jetty and dived in. He went deep. Near the bottom of the pond, with weeds tickling him, he turned on his back and looked upwards.
He was the only swimmer, that fine autumn day. The water was clear and chilly; there had been frost, which had killed the algae. Richard was able to see a lot underwater when he opened his eyes. This included fish moving about and the legs of waterfowl swimming on the surface. The water was bone-chillingly cold, but Richard enjoyed that. It made him feel alive. The cold is good for my sperm-count, even if it is causing my cock and balls to shrink dramatically just now, he thought. Due to the force and speed of his dive, his briefs had worked loose; almost ready to come off. Unlike proper trunks, they did not have a draw-string. He pulled them up.
How much better it would be if I were allowed to swim here fully naked. Why are the Brits, except for us soldiers, so prudish about some things? Richard surfaced and struck out across the pool with an energetic crawl. It was not a day to linger in the water. After his invigorating swim, he hauled himself out and walked back into the enclosure. He stripped off his briefs, wrung them out and took a shower. Then he dried himself vigorously and stretched out on the dry spare khaki towel, in surrender to the afternoon sun. He was bollock-naked, apart from the bandage on his left hand and his gold chain and pendant. Damn, I've got my bandage wet, thought Richard. I'll need to put on a clean one when I get home.
Most of the young men had now left, so Richard had the place almost to himself. One man remained and Richard sensed that he was seriously interested. This guy was very fair. He looked tough and muscular. Probably runs and works out, said Richard to himself. The young man had frowning, attractively ugly features and full, sensual lips. A British other-ranks type, thought Richard. His nakedness was total; like Richard, he had shaved his body completely, apart from the close-cropped gingery-blond hair at his groin. His very fair, silky head-hair was short, with a floppy quiff in front. His eyebrows and eyelashes were pale blond against the ruddy skin; almost albino. Although he was sunbathing now, he clearly did not do so often; his skin was fair and rosy. Probably he did not tan easily.
Richard pretended to be unaware of the other man's interest. He had no sunglasses with him, so he folded his arms over his eyes and seemed to go to sleep. He parted his legs, one knee bent; the other leg extended straight. "Snowy" as Richard had mentally christened the unknown man, would get an eyeful. Soon he became aware that Snowy had silently moved closer. What would he do next? Snowy did not look like a subtle or sensitive man, but he was uncertain and nervous. Glancing cautiously from half-closed eyes, Richard could see Snowy crouched tensely near him, staring obsessively, plucking up his courage and trembling slightly, like a greyhound before a race.
The pass, when it came, was surprisingly gentle; quite unlike the approach that Richard would have expected. He felt a light touch on his balls, as Snowy teased them with his fingernails, which he evidently kept slightly long. This went on for several minutes. When Richard had made no move and raised no objection, Snowy got bolder and grabbed Richard's cock, which had started to get hard. Snowy squeezed it. Still Richard said nothing. Snowy, throwing caution to the wind, got down on his knees between Richard's legs and took the roseate glans between his lips, like a honeyed plum. Richard did a trunk-curl and looked down at him. Snowy looked up at Richard with forget-me-not blue eyes; Richard's cock was still in his mouth. There was something irresistibly submissive and vulnerable about his glance, despite Snowy's tough looks. Richard patted his head soothingly. Snowy ran his tongue along the shaft of Richard's penis. Then, feeling bolder, he started to suck Richard's testicles: first one, then the other. Inevitably, he tugged at them while doing this; it hurt a bit. Richard, who was no stranger to pain, and sometimes even enjoyed it, began to get seriously aroused. He seized Snowy, pulled him on top of him, grabbed his head and kissed him aggressively, repeatedly thrusting his tongue into Snowy's mouth. Then he rolled them both, so that he was now on top; kissed and gently bit Snowy's lips and throat. Snowy was whimpering with desire. He's less experienced than he looks, thought Richard happily: I could amuse myself by extending his education!
Just as Snowy was getting really excited, Richard called a halt. "Whoa!" he said. "We could get into trouble if the attendant or a member of the public caught us like this. D'you know a place we could go?"
Snowy did. In an Essex accent, he said "I got a flat in Camden. You got a car?"
"Yeah", said Richard, also speaking Essex. "It's near here. Let's go!"
Snowy was impressed by the sports-car. "That must have set you back a bit! Is it second-hand?"
Damn! I should have thought of that, thought Richard. No average Essex boy has a car like this unless he's inherited a pot of cash or won the Pools.
"Neither," said Richard. "I couldn't afford to run a car like this. It's my employer's. He lets me drive it when he's out of the country: I'm a good driver. In fact, I drive him." This was literally true, given that Richard was self-employed and drove himself.
"Wow! He must trust you!"
Of course I do. I hardly trust anyone else.
They drove to Camden. Snowy was wowed by the car, by Richard's driving skills and by his ability to deal with other aggressive drivers. On one occasion the driver of a small white van, whom Richard had earlier cut up, pulled up alongside them at the traffic lights; wound down his window; leaned over and swore at Richard. Richard swore back with interest: his curses were vulgar and biological. He suddenly produced from the glove compartment what appeared to be a Luger pistol, which he now pointed at the van driver with a fiendish grin. The man went ashen; probably wet himself; seemed about to suffer a heart-attack; and then, to cap it all, his engine stalled. At that moment the lights changed. The gun was in fact a water-pistol, but was full of some evil-smelling liquid. Richard gave the van-driver a faceful, and then charged off, leaving the traumatised driver swearing, dabbing his eyes, gasping for breath and desperately trying to re-start his vehicle, while being hooted at by other motorists behind him, who wanted to move on before the lights changed again.
"Bingo!" chuckled Richard happily. "He's in all sorts of trouble. Serves him right!" as they sped away.
The sounds of motor horns and expletives faded into the distance.
"You're not like a driver," Snowy said, caressing Richard's knee.
"You mean I'm not a very good driver?" teased Richard.
"Nah! I mean that you aren't like anyone's chauffeur," said Snowy.
"What am I like?"
"Like a toff; like you're used to giving orders."
Shit! So much for my Essex-boy accent and so much for my disguise, thought Richard. He thought rapidly:
"You're not far wrong," lied Richard. "My Dad was in the Air Force. He was a Sergeant and he gave orders all right!"
"Maybe that's where you get it from," said Snowy. "You're a slightly scary guy."
Richard laughed happily. "That's the first time anyone's ever called me that!"
This was not true. Many people had called Richard scary, and worse, over the years. They included some of his closest friends.
Snowy's flat consisted of two rooms, plus bathroom and kitchen, in a Victorian family home that had been converted into apartments. The rooms were big and high-ceilinged but appallingly cluttered. Every inch of every wall was covered with pictures, some of which proved to be sepia photos of a more youthful Snowy, in some cases in the nude. There were a few autographed photos of film stars and other celebrities. Every surface was occupied by ornaments; serious antiques crowded by the trivial and the sentimental. There was quite a lot of dust, as though Snowy had not got around to cleaning the flat for a few months. It would be a herculean task. Heavy velvet drapes, probably from some grand house, darkened the windows. In the case of the bedroom, it appeared that they were seldom if ever opened. In the living-cum-dining room, they were open but the space between them was obscured by lace curtains and a large potted aspidistra. There was a pervasive smell of potpourri.
How camp; how Pooterish, how geeky, thought Richard. Snowy's not as macho as he looks. He's a camp magpie. I bet he watches the Antiques Road Show.
A life-sized, coloured ceramic bust of Mary, Queen of Scots, looking martyred, dominated the bedroom. There was a four-poster canopy bed, with Laura Ashley hangings. There were a large number of crucifixes and religious images among the dense array of bric-a-brac; even in the bathroom, as Richard discovered when he went there to relieve himself. Could Snowy be a Papist? I believe he might be, thought Richard.
The flat was hot and stuffy. Snowy fussed around in the kitchen, getting them mugs of tea. Richard, who had other things to do that day, decided to speed up the action by stripping off completely while he waited for Snowy to come back. He sprawled on the sofa, legs apart. Knowing that he had a very appetising, rosy cock, which Snowy had clearly appreciated, Richard peeled back the foreskin and exposed the succulent glans. Knowing that the male throat is an erogenous zone, he stretched back his head and stared at the ceiling. It worked: Snowy, on his return, almost dropped the tea tray.
"Oh wow!" said Snowy. Then, to Richard's amusement, he flushed with embarrassment. I don't believe this! He's turned all shy! Richard laughed silently. It did not occur to him until much later that he probably represented all Snowy's best wet dreams ever, rolled into one and given human fleshly form on Snowy's sofa. I'm going to have to seduce him all over again. Oh well, 'Like a virgin...'
"Sit here, Snowy," said Richard roughly, indicating the sofa.
"My name's not Snowy: it's Eamon!"
"That sounds Irish!" said Richard.
"It is. Well, my Dad's Irish, from West Belfast. Mum was English," said Snowy-Eamon.
"Really?" said Richard. He added insincerely, "I love the Irish!" That is not literally true. Actually, after seven duty tours in Northern Ireland, I hate most of the murderous vermin, thought Richard. That explains all the crucifixes and bondieuserie. No doubt Dad insisted that you be brought up as a Catholic, the superstitious nong! At this rate you'll soon be admitting to being a member of the IRA! If so, I won't be answerable for my actions.
Richard could have easily killed Eamon with his bare hands. The hands in question were around Eamonn's throat on three occasions, but only in erotic play. He suddenly reached across, wrapped Eamon in his powerful arms and kissed him on the lips. They became locked in an intense embrace and were soon both naked. Eamon had never had full, penetrative sex with another man; he found the idea of being fucked frightening. He was destined very soon to know all that there was to know about that. Richard took complete control, changing positions and location: on the floor; in the bathroom; in the kitchen. Just for fun, in the kitchen Richard thrust a cucumber deep into Eamon's man-hole. Finally, Richard fucked him senseless. It hurt like hell: Eamon's cry was probably audible in Belfast. Eamon was bruised, sore and exhausted. He collapsed beside Richard on the carpet.
Richard kissed Eamon, rolled off him and, breathing heavily, he closed his eyes for a few moments. When he opened them again, Eamon was squatting cross-legged beside him, examining him. Richard's breathing had returned to normal.
"Who are you? What are you?" Eamon asked. "I don't even know your name!"
"It's Tom," said Richard. English infantry soldiers are called Toms.
"Tom, you've got some interesting scars. What's that?" Eamon ran his finger along a pale mark on Richard's side.
"Sword cut," said Richard truthfully, "a sabre."
"Sabre! Was you fencing?"
"Why wasn't you wearing armour like the British fencing team? I've seen them on the box."
"It was a serious fight. We were stripped to the waist. We damaged each other. There was a lot of blood. Someone called an ambulance."
"What do you think it is?"
"I'd say a bullet wound," said Eamon, "a graze, really; not a deep one, fortunately."
"Yup, and how would you know about that?"
"I know what they look like."
"I'm sure you do," said Richard. He looked at Eamon with interest.
"And why is your hand bandaged like that?"
"I was in a fight. You ask a lot of questions, Snowy - Eamon, I mean!"
"Look, you've just fucked my brains out, and I don't know even who you are!" shouted Eamon. "Don't I have the right to know who did that to me?"
"Nope," said Richard laughingly. "You should know that a fuck does not amount to a formal introduction."
Eamon looked baffled, then hurt. "Sometimes I can't follow you at all. Does that mean I'll never see you again?"
"You never know your luck," said Richard, cheerfully and non-committally. He kissed Eamon a quick farewell. He pulled his shirt over his head, zipped up his jeans - he was now going commando - and hunted for his socks, trainers and jacket. Eamon made no attempt to get dressed. He was getting more emotional and more Irish by the minute.
"How can you just stand there and say that, you fucker? Does this afternoon mean nothing to you for Chrissake? Anyway, I have seen you before. I just remembered; it was in a pub. It was an Irish pub. You were in a fight, punching everyone in reach in the face. You had two friends with you. You caused the fight! I don't believe for a minute that you love the Irish! And I noticed your khaki Army towels. I don't believe that you're anyone's driver and I don't believe that you're called Tom, either!"
Gently, Richard placed a hand over Eamon's mouth. "Not another word, Eamon. Don't push your luck. You might be right: maybe I'm not who or what I seem to be. But you don't want to know what I'm really like; believe me, you don't. And if you started to make serious inquiries... well, I don't know what might happen. Just forget you ever met me!"
Tears started to trickle down Eamon's face again: Real ones or crocodile tears? Richard wondered. Is he emotionally involved already, after a single fuck? That could be trouble. Could he become a nuisance? Maybe I should kill him now. No-one knows I'm here; it's miles from my usual stamping-grounds. He probably wouldn't be found for ages. Not until the neighbours noticed the smell of putrefaction above that awful, overpowering musky potpourri...
Wickedly, Richard sang softly from the Bee Gees' hit "Emotion:"
"And where are you now, now that I need you?
Tears on my pillow wherever you go
I'll cry me a river that leads to your ocean
You never see me fall apart
In the words of a broken heart
It's just emotion that's taken me over
Tied up in sorrow, lost in my soul
But if you don't come back
Come home to me, darling
You know that there'll be nobody left in this world to hold me tight
Nobody left in this world to kiss goodnight
Richard added insensitively as an afterthought: "Anyway, I've had you."
"Fuck off! I hate you! Get out!" shouted Eamon.
I'm doing well today, thought Richard cheerfully as he ran down the stairs. He drove off fast. It had been a mistake to pick up Eamonn. I'd better give Highgate Ponds a miss for a while. Pity: I've had a few good adventures there. Nothing beats a bit of rough in the bushes...
Then Richard suddenly remembered: Bombardier Guards regimental dinner in St James's this evening! Bloody hell, should I wear dinner jacket or mess-kit? If so, which mess-kit? Para or the other? Whichever he finally chose, Richard was guaranteed to look, in one of his own favourite expressions, "spiffing". Uniform suited him. Pondering this important decision, honking frequently and impatiently at other road-users, Richard drove towards Kinghtsbridge. A bibulous and potentially fun-filled evening lay ahead. Who knew? Richard might even end up in bed with some fun new person.