Cologne: Eau d'Orange Verte by Max Markham

The first time that it happens to you is a defining experience. Although I am now middle-aged, I still meet young men in bars for whom I am "too young" because their first sexual experience was with a much older man. They are therefore only able to experience erotic fulfilment with a silver haired "daddy." Sometimes, shockingly, they tell me after a few beers that it literally was with their father or another close older male relation.

I lost my ass-virginity deep in Salisbury Plain, that vast tract of land round Stonehenge that is, and has been since the early nineteenth century, reserved for military training; Battleshire, as it is nicknamed. So it is not the resplendent uniforms of the Household Division or the cavalry that turn me on, much as I enjoy military ceremony. It is disruptive pattern (DP) combat kit; the Army's working dress, that does it for me. If I, more often than not, end up in bed with a soldier or an airman, and if my heart beats faster when some proud regiment back from Afghanistan marches down the road with the dust still on their desert boots and their desert-coloured uniforms, this may be because my first and most memorable experience was with a handsome soldier. I've never forgotten him; my rough-and-tumble lovemaking with his successors is surely an attempt to recapture the pain and excitement of that first surrender. And somehow it never quite succeeds. How could it? 

My first time was completely unexpected. I was nineteen years old and studying at Durham University. I spent my spare time training with the Territorial Army (TA); the Army Volunteer Reserve as it would be called in other countries. This could, all being well, lead to a Reserve Commission. However, like a number of my friends, I had secret ideas of going Regular, and with that in view I attended a course for platoon commanders at a military training school in southern England. We were each assigned a Tutor, who was one of the lecturers, and with whom we would have face to face sessions to discuss our particular challenges and aspirations. Mine was Captain James Graveney.

James was a conspicuous figure. He would have been in his late twenties, perhaps as much as ten years older than me. Well over six feet tall and powerfully built, he seemed to blaze through the depressing cold, wet spring of that year like Baldur the Shining God, with the promise of a brilliant season to come. He always looked ruddy, tanned and healthy. His hair was barley-blond; he wore it with a high, Rupert Brooke parting. Despite the miserable weather, he usually walked, or jogged, about the school in an open-necked khaki shirt with sleeves rolled up and DP combat trousers. Fine golden hairs glittered on his forearms. His eyebrows and lashes were darker, but still fair. Judging from his physique, I was not surprised to learn that he played rugby for his regiment and the Army. His face was classically handsome, distinguished by a cheerful grin, which gave him a boyish, enthusiastic air; perhaps seeming younger than he really was. A brightly-coloured feather hackle adorned his regimental beret. I sensed that he was happy in his work. He was a born leader and instructor; definitely a hundred-percent manly man. I was also uncomfortably aware of being attracted to him, as I had been to handsome prefects and sporting heroes at my school. "You are supposed to have outgrown this," I told myself firmly. "You're twenty next birthday."

My first one on one session with James was to take place in the evening study period, after dinner. He asked me not to come to his office at the school. He rented a cottage in the nearby village and would prefer to see me there.

"It'll be more relaxed. I can even offer you a drink, which I could not in my office."

It was therefore in civilian clothes that I marched briskly down to the village that evening. Handy, spandy, jack-a-dandy in my double-breasted blue blazer, college tie, carefully pressed flannels and carefully shined shoes, neatly barbered; I looked, I hoped, every inch the aspirant Young Officer. I was satisfied with my appearance as I checked my reflection in the window of the general store and post office. I found the cottage without difficulty, walked up the path and rattled the knocker. As this was a military occasion, I arrived five minutes early. After a few moments, James opened the door. It seemed that I had arrived too early.

"Gosh," he said, "You're punctual. Never mind. Come in and sit through here; I'll join you shortly. As you can see, I'm just out of the shower."

That much was evident. He was clutching a towel. His blond hair was damp and tousled; he smelt of some pleasantly scented cologne; I afterwards learned that this was called eau d'orange verte. His impressive rugby physique was on display. He was naked apart from a small pair of black briefs, which were fashionable men's wear at that time. Like a body-builder's posing suit, they had almost no sides; a minimal front, which barely hid his heavy genitals and did not cover his dense, reddish-fair pubic hair; the back only half-covered his buttocks. The effect was if anything more erotic than full nakedness and left me feeling weak at the knees. In the small drawing room he poured me a beer and found me some salted peanuts. The physical desire that I felt for him was exquisitely painful. I wanted him to stay and talk, to postpone the moment when he would put on his trousers, yet at the same time I feared that he might notice my interest; even my erection. Thank heaven my blazer was double-breasted and covered that area.

Not for long.

"Please," he said, "leave off your blazer and tie. Open your collar. This is supposed to be friendly and informal. I should have made that clearer. Jeans and a T-shirt would have been fine."

Obediently, I hung them over a chair.

"Might as well take off your shoes, too: the chum I rent this house from put in this cream coloured carpet. It shows every speck of dirt and shoe polish. And I dare not offer you red wine. Completely impractical, though it looks rather nice. I'll lend you some slippers."

Then he retired to his bedroom to dress, leaving the aroma of eau d'orange verte behind. Presently James reappeared; his hair neatly combed, in jeans and a clean, white, T-shirt. Somehow I had not expected this. He wore no socks but a pair of Kilim slippers. He had a spare pair for me. His pale blue jeans fitted closely, were stretched over his thighs and fitted snugly round his crotch and buttocks, leaving nothing of his muscularity or potency to the imagination. This too was the fashion of the day. It struck me that in private, and apart from his short hair, James was more fashionable and contemporary than his appearance during daytime might suggest.

"Right! Let's talk about you," he said.

And we did, for quite a long time. That is, I did-talk about myself. He watched me intently. I scarcely took my eyes off him. I hoped that I was shining conversationally, although once or twice I was disconcerted by a quiet flicker of amusement at what I had not intended as a funny remark.

"Your problem," he said eventually, "is one of attitude. You are nineteen and still playing around. You are not committed to anyone or anything. Yet, in three years at most, you will be out in the world, trying to start a career. You think that you might like to go into the Army, for no better reason than that several of your friends and relations have done so or are thinking of doing so, and it seems quite a fun thing to do. Well, the course that you are on at present may help you to make up your mind about that. At present you come across as flippant and uncommitted. Some words of advice: Do not pepper your conversation with expressions in Latin, French and other foreign languages. Your Army interlocutors may not understand them and they might resent that. Private soldiers certainly won't comprehend. When you have your interview with the Course Commander, General Jones, do not make the sort of jokes you have made here this evening. I have a sense of humour but he does not. He would not appreciate your joke about Viscount Montgomery, because he served under him and reveres him. I agree with your view that Monty was a prig and probably anally retentive as well, but be assured that the General will not. Likewise, jokes about the regiment that you hope to join are not on; they would get back to the Colonel, who would not accept you. It may be true that they ran away at Majuba, but they do not dine out on it."

"Really, why ever not?" I responded with fausse-naiveté.

He sighed. "That's what I mean. That attitude and that sort of remark can dish you." I must have looked momentarily worried, so he went on smoothly. "Don't worry; I shall not be putting that advice in writing. I intend to give you as good a report as I honestly can. You are clearly much more intelligent than the average Young Officer, although that admittedly is not saying a lot. I see a hell of a lot of YOs. And I personally enjoy your cockiness. In fact, I find it amusing. But a lot of other people will find it simply irritating. So, for the General, be serious and keen. Cultivate gravitas, if you can."

"I'm not sure that I am capable of it," I said sadly. "I seem to be cast in life as a jolly little jester. That is how someone once described me. Perhaps I should give up now."

"Of course you are capable. You can act. You're doing it now. And underneath it all, under your 'jester' pose, you are actually damned arrogant. You know that you are intelligent and think that it will see you through most situations with a minimum of work and preparation. I would guess that it has seen you through, to date. But in the real world it will be different. Intelligence only gets you so far, if you don't have the drive and discipline. Think of the highly intelligent men who drift into school-mastering and get stuck there. You've met them; I've met them. You need waking up, in every sense of that expression. You really need a short, sharp shock for your own good. The General would happily administer it; I have seen young men leave his office in tears. But I do not think that would be very helpful. There must be another way."

He paused. We were sitting on the sofa. He suddenly reached across, wrapped me in extremely powerful arms and kissed me on the throat, then on the lips. We became locked in a very physical, passionate embrace and, several minutes later, we were naked. I had never had sex with another man. I had never before met anyone as handsome as James, nor one whose tan extended all over his body. (Later it emerged that James had spent his summer leave in Sweden, where swimming trunks are seldom worn and an all-over tan is the norm.) This was a great turn-on. His mixture of physical strength and sophisticated technique was impressive. Never for a moment were we still; he took complete control, so we were constantly on the move, changing positions and location: on the sofa; on the floor; in the shower room; on the staircase. If I showed signs of flagging, he would deftly and sharply bite some sensitive part of me, and my erection would revive instantly. The really perverted part was my knowing, and enjoying, the fact that I was struggling in the arms of a man who, had he wished to, could have forced me to do anything he liked, or even easily have killed me with his bare hands. In truth, I enjoyed nearly everything he did, and made me do, even though it scared me at the time.

"Give me head," he commanded.

He had to explain that to me. No problem. His cock was beautiful; large, perfectly proportioned, with a delicate roseate glans. "Soixante-neuf?" he asked. Again, I had no idea what he meant. He did it. It was shocking - and great.

Finally he bent me over. He had one of my hands tightly gripped in his and held in a lock in the small of my back. With the other hand I was supporting myself on the floor to keep from falling right over, so I could not resist. I remember that my floppy fair hair, which I had carefully slicked back earlier in the evening, fell forward over my eyes at this moment. Then he forced his way into me and fucked me senseless. We climaxed simultaneously. It hurt like hell, felt wonderful and I have never forgotten it. He said afterwards that my yells at the moments of penetration and orgasm were probably audible in Salisbury. The true shock was the realisation that now someone knew me completely. He had been physically and mentally inside me, as no-one else had ever been. He knew my sexual orientation, my margins of pain, fear and everything else. I was bruised, sore and exhausted. I collapsed gasping beside him on the carpet.

Lying on our sides, facing one another, his keen blue eyes were a few inches from mine. I was resting on his right arm, which was round my shoulders. His left hand was resting lightly on my genitals.

"Was that a good, short, sharp shock?" he asked.

"It was shocking, all right. However your weapon, Sir, is not short; nor, thank heaven, sharp." I answered.

"Oh, very witty. Are we still feeling cocky and arrogant, by any chance?" His hand tightened perceptibly on my scrotum.

I looked at him. Some devil made me respond: "Yep, still cocky. Still captain of my soul!" His hand closed on my testicles and my mouth jerked open in a scream.

"Still cocky, are we? In that case, you need some more of the same."

This time, he got me on my back, legs apart and in the air, and hammered into me. I was now hurting in earnest, but he didn't stop. I was doing my best not to say anything, not to scream again. I was not going to give him that satisfaction. Or so I thought. Suddenly, when I least expected it, the moment of catharsis came.

"I surrender!" Tears were trickling down my face; mainly from the pain.

He stopped. Suddenly he became tender and solicitous, hugging me warmly. "Good," he said. "You're learning. It's late. Let's have a shower and then you can go to your well-earned rest." He smiled. "You'll feel fine tomorrow. You've passed the test."

"How's that?" I asked.

"You were rather brave. You never tried to escape. You only screamed a couple of times and that was understandable. The first time always hurts and is always mind-blowing, whoever your partner in sin may be. And you coped with it. You'll cope with blood, wounds, and pain, no problem. You've learned something about yourself. You entered into the spirit of the thing and even tried cockily to provoke me after I had done all that to you. I was quite cruel: a bastard to you, in fact!" He chuckled reminiscently. "Do you hate me, by the way?"

"No, I don't, though I'm sore all over. I needed...what you did to me. It's what I am. I wanted it, even, without actually knowing much about it. It was an adventure."

He smiled. "I guessed all that. I can read you quite easily. And I can be a gentle and considerate lover if the circumstances are right. Members of both sexes have been very satisfied; I've had excellent feedback! Tim, your surname's Sparrow, isn't it? That's appropriate: Cocky Sparrow." He chuckled. From that point, strictly in private, I was always Cocky to him. In class we remained Mr. Sparrow and Sir.

A thought struck me. "James," I asked him, "have you ever been fucked?"

"Of course I have," he replied. "There's an etiquette among gentlemen. Basically, anything I do to you, you're allowed to do to me!"

This was interesting. "James, what are you doing tomorrow evening?"

He laughed boisterously. "Cocky wants his revenge, a return match! Well, it'll have to wait. I am tutoring some of your colleagues-and I mean tutoring, no extras, I don't do this to students very often-so tomorrow evening is not on." Then he thought. "There are two things that we could do. If you want to spend some quality time with me, get yourself down here for five AM. I go running then, every day, off-base, regardless of the weather. You can come too, if you like. Shorts, not track suit. And are you free next weekend?"

I was. I had no classes in Durham until the Monday afternoon. James nodded.

"Come up to London with me. I'm leaving by car on Friday, straight after lunch, at the end of the course. Better still, let's miss lunch and set off earlier. I'll meet you here. We can eat at some pub on the way. I have a small flat in Kensington. We can have the weekend together. Tonight was Cocky's submission. The weekend could be Cocky's equaliser!" He laughed again. "You'll be all right."

As he predicted, I felt like a million dollars the next day, although I had to be careful when sitting down.

He was taking a great risk, although it never crossed my mind to report him for what he had done. I was technically a minor; the age of consent for homosexual relations was still twenty-one. It was completely illegal under military law, regardless of age. Moreover he was in a position of authority over me. I like to think that this showed that I was growing up fast. Given that it was a rite of passage that I had to undergo and had, deep down, wanted to undergo, that would have been a monstrous - a deeply ungentlemanly- thing to have done. I am happy to say that James was never found out.

Running with James was exhausting for more than one reason. Although built like a wrestler, he could achieve a startling turn of speed; keeping up with him was not easy. His chavvy streak of sexual exhibitionism showed on these occasions. Although it was tracksuit weather, he wore the shortest and lightest of shorts, slit up the side, usually in bright colours like red or yellow. His legs were completely bare and, running at speed, his muscled buttocks were sometimes partly exposed as well. James's legs were the most exciting that I had ever seen. So I charged along, trying to keep them in sight. His favourite run went through dense woodland, where we would often pause for a mid-run rest, to do some press-ups or stretching exercises, and usually ended by having strenuous sex on the forest floor. ("Drop your shorts, Cocky. Quickly, now, we don't have all day"). Looking back, we were running a hell of a risk. We could easily have been caught in flagrante delicto by an early dog-walker. Unquestionably the runs did me good; I kept up the practice back at Durham, though without the dessert of sex. One day, after a particularly vigorous "workout" with James, I was cantering back through the campus to my quarters to shower and change. It was raining steadily. I was soaked. A car pulled up beside me. Inside was General Jones, beaming benevolently.

"You're a keen young fellow. How far did you run today? You look like a drowned rat. You got awfully muddy, too!" Well, of course I had. James had rogered me all over the clearing.

"Good morning, Sir. About five miles. I took a tumble. It's very muddy and slippery underfoot."

"Good for you. Physical fitness is very important. But be careful. You don't want to pull a muscle. It's easily done on a wet surface in this foul weather, and a real pain. You look flushed."

Crikey, he doesn't miss much, I thought. "I'll be all right after my shower and breakfast, Sir."

"Good man. It's Mr. Sparrow, isn't it? We have our interview tomorrow. See you then."

Just as well that he could not know how I had really got covered in mud. Sherlock Holmes however would have noted that the boy inside them was considerably muddier than the shorts and singlet that he was wearing. I had been naked when I was smeared with mud.

James guffawed when I told him. "You could have said that you'd been mud wrestling. It would not have been far from the truth. However, on reflection better not. Mud wrestling is not an Olympic sport and it's not British. The General would not have approved."

Finally the course was over. James had given me a reasonable report and, by following his advice to the letter, I seemed to have made a good impression on General Jones. What he thought he knew of my early morning exercise habits had probably helped. The weather had taken a sudden turn for the better. The last Friday dawned sunny and even slightly warm. James and I were both on a high as we raced up to London in his car, which, needless to say, was a soft-topped sports car, resembling a horizontal Thermos flask. Needless to say, it was painted electric blue. Needless to say, it had a customised silver mascot of an eagle or osprey on the bonnet. James looked handsome in a blue open-necked shirt and chinos. We were laughing at nothing in particular and singing along with Glenn Miller on the car's cassette player:

"Oh, it happened in Sun Valley, not so very long ago, There were sunbeams in the snow and a twinkle in your eye I remember-oh so clearly-how you nearly passed me by..."

I remember it very clearly indeed. It was a fine spring day, with surprisingly little traffic. The countryside was awash with cow parsley. It seemed natural for James (illegally), on quiet stretches of open road, to put his arm round my shoulders from time to time, while he steered with one hand only, and for me to rest a hand on his left leg. I still recall my thoughts as we sped eastward: The eagle soars in the summit of heaven and I am at a summit of human happiness. If I were to die now, I would die a truly happy man. It cannot last; please, ye gods, let me enjoy it while I can. Love you James; love you, Triumph Spitfire; love you, fair King Richard's land; love you, resplendent bird of youth.

Eventually we came to an isolated old inn. "A village inn without the village," as James said. It was supposed to be haunted. It served good pub food and mild beer. James drank little, as he was driving. We ate in the garden, under some old fruit trees, which were now laden with blossom, as were the hawthorn hedges. There were no other guests, at least none who cared to sit outside. We hardly spoke, but smiled quite a lot. Speech did not seem necessary. Once or twice our hands touched across the table, as though by accident. A light breeze brought the scent of flowers from the surrounding fields. Bees were already at work, humming busily around. I wondered what James was thinking.

It was late afternoon when we reached London. James's flat was high up in an old building near the Albert Hall. Inside a grand Victorian shell were small, anonymous modern flats. James's had two and a half rooms: a drawing room with dining area; a bedroom dominated by his large bed; and a cubby hole that was fitted up as a study-office. Without being unfriendly, it was a bit impersonal, like a hotel suite. The walls were painted white. There was a modern, imitation fireplace with an electric grate. Two abstract paintings graced the walls of the drawing room. Such ornaments as there were turned out to be scientific objects: a brass mounted Victorian microscope, a sextant, celestial and terrestrial globes. Two large bookcases contained works in several languages, mainly about travel and exploration. Everything was very neat and orderly. Like a cabin on board ship, the space was used as efficiently as possible, with a lot of built-in storage. A detective would not have learned much about James if he had gone over the apartment. The view from the windows was over chimneys and rooftops in the direction of Kensington Gardens.

"It's small, but it's very central and convenient for the Albert Hall, the Royal Geographical Society and things like that," said James. "In fact, we're going to the Albert Hall this evening. It's the London Symphony Orchestra, playing works by the Viennese Classicists. So unpack your blazer. I have a box organized. We'll have supper there, so no need to make anything here. I see, however, that Mrs. Roche has put some sandwiches in the kitchen, in case we feel peckish meanwhile. And tomorrow evening we are going to a reception at Sir John Soane's Museum, which has just re-opened after a lengthy restoration. There will be a special tour for the lucky possessors of tickets, including us. You see, Cocky, your cultural education shall not be neglected."

Culture had not been uppermost on my mind while we were driving. Although I tried to look blasé, I was impressed by the prospect of a box at the Albert Hall and the casual mention of the Royal Geographical Society. I had no idea who Sir John Soane was. Although I did not admit it to James, I had rarely been to London in my life. My few visits had been to see special exhibitions and people, usually for a day only, and rapid transits en route for somewhere else. I gathered that James's parents lived in rural Worcestershire. He had struck me as a countryman; he loved country sports. However, he also seemed very much at home among the pleasures of the capital. I was to be even more impressed when I discovered that the box at the Albert Hall was owned by a relation of James's. It was let to a City company, who used it for corporate entertaining. However, that night they were not using it, so James had borrowed it. In the private drawing room behind, a cold supper would be delivered at the interval, with champagne on ice. That, however, was for the evening.

"Now," said James, "I think that I need to lie down. Do you want to join me?" He nodded toward the bedroom door and smiled mischievously.

"Good idea," I said cautiously. I suspected that the siesta would not be very restful.

"Get your kit off, Cocky," said James.

"Is this going to be Cocky's equalizer?" I inquired.

"Nope," said James. "It is still Friday. Cocky's equalizer comes at the weekend. I'm still in charge at the moment. There's one thing that I have not yet done to you."

After the usual kissing and grappling, James gave me head until I was erect and hard. He greased himself. Suddenly he knelt astride me and slid onto my erection. He then rode my cock like a cowboy breaking in a stubborn stallion. He was aggressively in charge and only eased off when I had shot into him several times and he had splashed his semen over my face.

"That's called a facial," he remarked. "It's good for your complexion."

I was sore and drained but curiously laid-back. "And what is what you just did to me called? Rape?"

"It's called Taking It like a Man," he laughed. "Now look," he said, "let's take five to recover, then showers, then we're off to the concert."

The concert, which featured Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, lived up to expectation; my interest in serious music dates from it. Prior to that, my most intellectual taste had been Gilbert and Sullivan. Even so, sex raised its head in the interval. We seemed unable to keep our hands off each other and emerged after a heavy session on the sofa of the private drawing-cum-dining room, flushed and cheerful. At midnight I finally got to fuck James back at the flat; Cocky's equalizer. He oiled us both, lay on his back, spread his legs for me, and I was in. Even then he was really in control; his ass-muscles were as strong as all the others. He could take my cock prisoner for minutes at a time, while I begged for mercy. Finally, he let me come. I emptied my balls for the second time in twenty-four hours. They were now aching dully. I felt shattered.

Our powers of recovery now seem miraculous; then we took them for granted. Nor did sex go away the following day, Saturday. James had decreed that our early morning runs should continue. There were parks nearby, but they tended to be locked at five AM. This was no problem for James, who knew ways into all of them; a loose railing that could be removed; a short-cut through a private garden. So we had the parks to ourselves, which was just as well, given our tendency to have impromptu, alfresco sex at the drop of a pair of shorts.

Once James looked up and hissed "We're being watched!" I was petrified. "Look above you," he said. In the tree below which we were having an erotic workout, an owl was regarding us with what appeared to be wide-eyed, shocked surprise. I could see its point of view. It was not accustomed to this sort of abandoned behavior. As we jogged back to the flat, James observed, "Let me buy you some new running kit, Cocky. You need better shoes than those. Running in the city is terribly hard on the knees. Also, I want you to wear matching shorts and singlet like mine. Those baggy things you wear are ridiculous. Shorts should be short. And your legs will certainly bear exposure. That's one of the things I like about you, Cocky: your marathon runner's legs." It was to be maximum exposure for Cocky, evidently. And it was; I still wear the shortest running shorts, like James.

"Just think," I joked as we passed Kensington Palace, "If Princess Margaret had looked out of her window, she might have seen us going at it."

"I'm fairly sure that she did not," said James. "She would not have objected; far from it. The old nymphomaniac would have come racing out and insisted on joining in the fun." We fell about laughing. "I've never actually seen HRH when I've been running here," James continued. "But early one morning, when I was getting a bit amorous with my then running partner Dave, I was challenged by one of her security men. He was clearly Army or ex-Army. He was out having his run when he noticed two interlopers near the Palace. That was us, of course. It could have been a bit awkward, but I got us out of it'.

"How did you manage that?"

"Well, he tried to read us the riot act, talking darkly about a public order offence. However, despite his gruff manner and very short hair, he was clearly one of us and could not keep his eyes off me, in particular. It was a very warm summer's morning, so I was not even wearing a top. And, as you have noticed, I like to wear the shortest shorts. So, the simplest thing was to give him what he so evidently needed. I made a pass at him. He offered no resistance, although he gasped and looked a bit shocked. Not that he could have done much about it. I was considerably bigger than him. While Dave took five, I got the shorts off that security guard and gave him the barrelling of his life against a convenient tree. He became quite friendly after that. He even gave me a big hug and said quietly, 'Thanks a lot, Mate, and I mean that. I won't be troubling you further." I got the impression that he hadn't had it in months. Then he went away. Dave called it my good deed for the day."

My fling with James had started something that is still going strong today. He gave me the courage and confidence to face up to what I was and to enjoy it. I suspect that he did this for quite a few young men. If so, good on you, James. I hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did. All the evidence suggests that you did. I did not become a soldier in the event, although I continued to train as a reservist for a few more years. I saw him some more times, but then he was posted abroad and gradually we lost touch, although, as I have said, I have never forgotten him. Occasionally I would get news of him.

I have reason to think that James is a very happy man. I learned on the regimental grapevine that he had married and fathered three fine sons, who all look like him and all play rugby. I am pretty sure that I have encountered one of them. It was in a smart shop in the Burlington Arcade in London, not so long ago. I was choosing some cuff-links. Suddenly I seemed to see James, not as he is now (presumably gray-haired and distinguished) but as he was when I first saw him; young, blond and muscular. Something caused the floor to move unsteadily under me. I could not stop looking at him. The piercing blue eyes met mine for a moment and then cut away. No, I don't know you. But as he turned away I caught the unmistakable aroma of eau d'orange verte. He was using the same cologne or after-shave as his father.

But what could I have said? "I say, are you one of James Graveney's sons? This is a pleasure. I'm Tim Sparrow: your father fucked my brains out back in the nineteen seventies!" I don't think so. I watched him walk off down the arcade. He didn't look back.


Max Markham


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