The Aussie/English/American is not a hindrance. I just ran over this today and I have to say mate.....
page one is a box of birds.
My tired arse demands a break but I will have caught up mid weekie. Okay
The Aussie/English/American is not a hindrance. I just ran over this today and I have to say mate.....
page one is a box of birds.
My tired arse demands a break but I will have caught up mid weekie. Okay
hahahaha that cracks me up. So funny.
I have no idea what you just said !!!!!!
Which under the circumstances of your themed reply is 10 times funnier.
Um I'll take it as a compliment (I think)
maybe i should have written rlrlrlrlrl.
“Paul, it’s me Alex” he implored.
Paul stood still as though weighing up his options. The seconds ticked by, then he turned for another look and it was as though he gave way. “Alright, you can come in” and added “I don’t care”.
Paul led the way into a darkened room somewhat like a living room but with a rolled up foam bed in the corner. He faced Alex without any expression on his face. “Just say what you want to say … then you can leave”.
“Paul, this is not easy” replied Alex.
“Get it over with, that’s what you came for”.
“Fine, we’ll just stand here and say nothing……”.
“Paul, there’s a lot of people worried … they care you know … I care …”.
“Yeah, Yeah lots of people care. So what! … It’s not going to change anything”
“It could” shot back Alex.
“... yeah? Is that what you think? You don’t know shit either!”
“Paul” implored Alex. “I could help”.
“What if I don’t want you to? What if I’ll do this on my own?”
“You don’t have to do anything on your own. I’m here and want to be. We …”
“Don’t you get it? There is no we!” spat Paul. “You’re the worst thing to ever happen to me! I wish we never met. If it wasn’t for you I’d still have a family”.
“I don’t believe you” countered Alex. “The lake, remember the lake?”
“Yeah what of it?”
“It was without a doubt the best day of my life. It was the day I changed. I learned to trust someone for the first time, I learned what it was like to love someone and have someone love me back. That was you Paul. I can’t stop loving you. It hurt like hell when you sent me away and again at the stadium. I love you Paul, I always will, even if you don’t want to be with me.”
“It doesn’t have to be, it could be the basis for a new beginning. Come with me. What could you possibly lose? Either it works out or we can agree to let it go”.
“I’ll think about it. No promises”
“That will do me” smiled Alex.
“You can go now”.
“Next weekend … I’ll come visit ok”
How sad! Paul is really in a bad state. However, I think Alex has reach a part of him whether he wants to admit it or not. I can't wait for the continuance, which I feel will be almost as cold as this meeting, but I hope not. Thanks, Michael.
I looked around and finally deduced (sadly) that it was me you didn't understand.
Granted, American can be difficult to translate.....
What I said was......
1. no language barrier...had to re-read a bit once or twice, but a little logic and
deductive reasoning resolved any potential problems.
2. had not seen your writing prior to 02 Jan 11.
3. box of birds....phrase courtesy of NZ JAG meaning GREAT. and of the 4 pages posted, I have completed page 1.
4. my ass got tired from the prolonged sitting and I needed to do some shit.
5. will be caught up to current by Tuesday, the 11th of January.
6. please buddy, continue writing this excellent story.
Does that read a bit more clearly?
Lefty the enigmatic.
hahahahaha i now need a new acronym rotfwl = rolling on the floor with laughter - so ...
or maybe pmsl = pissing my self laughing
You are hilarious, what a hoot - is your real job a comedian?
I love it - it's an aussie trait to enjoy it when someone is taking the piss out of you (figuratively)
Are you sure you're not australian?
As for" lefty" is your surname wright? now that would clearly be an australian approach to names.
Clearly I love your comments eh! You rock.
I added an avatar - the beach of course because i am an aussie surf life saver. I added pics to my profile but haven't discovered how to let you see them yet without being on public display.
I'm caught up. And, I was right - I DID post previously, lol.
Angst, fear of further rejection of losing his mom after he's already lost his dad.
Methinks we need to take his dad aside and give him a very LARGE, LONG Enema - to flush all the shit that's up to his eyeballs, out. His eyes might turn blue again, instead of the shit for brains brown they are now.
How to ruin a kid's life in one easy lesson. In this day and age?
Unfortunately, all too frequently.
I have my own thoughts as to how this might proceed, but I will keep my thoughts to myself, as Craiger has, so the full flavour of your fantastic fable forms from your forehead.
And, yeah, Lefty is a hoot. Not everyone "gets" Lefty.
We play in some threads with some regularity - to the point that some people thought we hated each other from our backhanded humour.
I'm looking forward to your next installments.
I'm sorry to hear that you've had the familial health issues. I'm glad the prognosis is favourable.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
Alex didn’t know what to do. For a great deal of his life he was in danger of physical harm and neglect; he had learned the skills to cope – the principal behaviours being to stay unnoticed, never be involved and fight if he had to. As for friendships and emotional stability – he still had a long way to go. Since the time on his own he had kept people away blocking them out for self preservation. Paul had managed to get inside to his true self. It was Paul who had listened while the tears flowed and who had patiently coaxed the reluctant barrier into receding albeit briefly. To Alex anything physical had meant pain until Paul brought his body alive. It was Paul he slowly learned to trust and then what? It was Paul who rejected him, deliberately threw shit in his face by cruel displays with another guy, and now claimed he hated him. Why the fuck was he doing this? Just a year ago they were in love and to have that shredded was tough to comprehend. It truly did feel as though their love had been turned into hate. Why did it have to be that way? Quite simply he did not know how to deal with the situation with Paul, he was not even sure he wanted to. Everything said run and stay well away. Did he owe Paul? Did he love Paul? Did he just care for him as a friend? Alex was not capable of sorting out his feelings. He was confused and yet he would try, he would do the best he could, however, doubt kept creeping into his thoughts.
The rest of his life was straight forward. Alex was doing well in his subjects as the academic year came to an end, his combination with Letisha was topping the class, he was maintaining a Distinction average and the Rattlers season was excellent - just one game short of their all time record wins for the season. Just as well personal relationships did not count towards an academic transcript. Physically he was healthy, mentally he was as tough as ever but emotionally he was still a minnow.
Dulcie had offered him a summer job in the diner and a much better room to live in. Alex took her up on it and quickly settled into the routine of working in the diner. He was close to where Paul lived and made a point of calling in when he could. Each time he would bring some food on the pretext it was left overs from the diner, which wasn’t quite true. Paul was tolerating his existence, but, the warmth of their union had not returned. On his day off Alex suggested a drive up to the lake to the places they explored during their time together.
Paul still had his sedan - so on this day Alex came around armed with provisions and they loaded up the sedan and drove in a reasonably comfortable silence, broken occasionally by a remark or two. It was pleasant. They drove around the lake stopping here and there, occasionally pointing out this feature or that. This was very pleasant as well.
The sedan slowed to a stop not far from “the jetty” not just any jetty it was “the jetty”. The scene of a dramatic major change in both their lives! They walked to the end of the jetty where Alex cautiously kicked the mooring rope curled on the right. His deep blue eyes flashed towards Paul registering their recognition. Alex walked to what he thought was “the spot” the place Paul had electrified his body for the first time.
“I think this is the spot” offered Alex gently.
“Really? What spot?”
“Here, the first time we kissed, and made love”.
“Oh so that’s what this is about.”
“No No I ….”
Paul began stripping his clothes off as Alex flustered was unable to get his words out coherently.
Paul stood in front of Alex completely naked. “So are we going to fuck!” … and with that he pulled at Alex’s belt and though meeting some resistance slid his jeans down exposing his cock.
Alex was confused and had absolutely no idea how to respond, he just went along and let Paul do as he pleased. His cock grew whether he liked it or not and Paul took advantage pushing him to the ground with his jeans around his ankles and his t shirt raised. He straddled Alex, held his cock pointing to the sky as he lowered his ass and pushed the long thick cock inside. Paul rode thrusting his hips and forcing his ass up and down on the stunned Alex. It was fast, hard, furious and aggressive. It was over almost as quickly as it began. Paul stood, took 3 steps towards the lake and stood there naked staring vacantly at nothing.
Alex shrugged out of his clothes and came up behind Paul slowly wrapping his arms around him. The fight was over. There was no love today in that act. Was there any hope? He had no idea.
The long, slow, torturous fight to make things right between them, again. Paul is at the "do whatever you want with me, I don't care (BULL SHIT!) stage.
Here's hoping Alex can get through that thick skull of Paul's, and help him see that, yes, there IS still love in Paul's life.
I still want to have a "talk" with Paul's father. . . .
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
I think the bitterness Paul has within him is founded in his father's rejection, but as so often happens, he is taking it out on Alex. It seems we always hurt the one we love. At least I would like to think that is what this situation is all about. As confused as Alex is emotionally, he will find the strength to endure Paul's reactions and be able to bring Paul back to reality. It's just that there is the conflict between his love for Paul and his love for Jason that he has to sort through. Love this story.
Mate, I'm loving this story. If I ever see you on my local beach I'll definately owe you a beer.
Nice comments guys, I totally agree - see Craiger you could write some for me!
and yer Aussie Chub i'd love a nice cold beer
Just started reading this tonight. I love the story and It appears to be still going. How lucky is that
They stood facing the lake. Alex’s arms protectively wrapped around Paul - their nudity not an issue. Neither one moved for a full 30 minutes. Then Alex heard a sharp intake of breath and felt the warm trickle of a tear dropping onto his hand. Paul’s thin body shuddered. He placed his hands on top of Alex’s hands and leaned back into him finding more comfort. Paul sighed. Alex sighed.
Alex turned Paul around to face him. He put his hand up to close Paul’s eyes and softly kissed each one then sought Paul’s lips with his own. He held Paul close. He gently lay Paul down on the rug and placed his own body beside so they were touching. The heat from their bodies shared as the minutes ticked past. Time has no master and despite wanting the moment to last forever the afternoon wore on, the shadows growing longer and the air cooling around them.
Reluctantly Alex dressed and helped Paul into his clothes. Alex held Paul’s hand and carried their basket down to the end of the Jetty. They sat on the end, watching the sun sink towards the mountains, with their feet dangling just above the surface of the water as they shared the meal Alex had brought. It was as if the uncaring carnal act from earlier in the afternoon had not happened. They even managed to laugh when Alex dropped half his sandwich into his lap with his mouth poised open for a bite and a comical look on his face.
“Alex” began Paul, “I did blame you. I hated you so much”.
Alex turned his face so that his deep blue eyes searched Paul. “I know”.
“But ... it wasn’t you was it? I mean you did nothing … it was me all along. I forced everything onto you ...”
“Haha no don’t say that!” Interjected Alex.
“Hear me out, ok!”
“Well - I know how it felt … the magic of this place … you and me … it was good wasn’t it? Don’t answer that, I know it was! I know it was love, that we were both in love. This thing now … you and me … it could work out and we could be happy, we could work at it, I know we could. I could apologise to my Dad and my family could be whole again but … I know he would never truly accept you and me. It’s like I have to choose between my family and us. My mom is ok … but, to be whole we all need to be ok. What I learned is that it doesn’t matter how much I hurt myself … when I weigh it up I’d rather have that than hurt my family. I can’t and won’t hurt my family.”
“But, what about us why hurt us?”
“It has to happen”.
“No I could talk to him, your mom … she told me she was ok about us”.
“I know she is”.
“He’ll come round, he’ll get used to the idea”.
“Not in any hurry he won’t”.
“So that’s it then? Is that what you’re telling me?”
“It is. I still love you and always will. I have a choice to make and I have made it”.
“I can’t believe this is the end of the line. It can’t be true”.
“Can’t this just be a pause? Can we still be friends? … and maybe one day …”
“Do you know the story of the bird? … how the one who truly loved it set the bird free from the cage! It’s like that Alex. I am setting you free”.
“Maybe I don’t want to be free, maybe I want you”.
Paul reached out to Alex’s face and held his hand gently there. “Let’s give it some time, ok. I have some apologies to make, a family rift to heal and some applications to send away for courses”.
Alex sat looking at Paul’s face memorizing every pore. “That’s all I ask of you… a chance and until then friends”.
“Yeah, ok a chance. In the mean time friends sure – we will be at the same university anyway”.
“Yes really! I might back down to heal the rift in the family but I am doing this for me – I’ll be doing Teaching starting at the beginning of term. Hopefully we will see some of each other. Until today and what happened I never understood. Now I do, I see it clearly! It really is up to me to make this my life. I see you and think if you can do it so can I. You’re a much bigger inspiration than you realize. We both have so much potential”.
“Hahaha the last time we said that we had the best love making session ever”.
“This time we’ll just hold hands ok.”
…and so they sat watching the sun go down literally, but, was it going down figuratively as well?
A poignant re-beginning?
Friends for now . . . but always much more than that.
Paul apologizing to his father - for angry words spoken in anger of the heat of the moment?
Here's hoping Paul's father will see what his attitude has done to his son, and what Alex coming home, searching Paul out, healing him, has done. Maybe he will see the greater good and love.
But, that remains for our master story teller to tell.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
That was a beautiful chapter. Sad, but beautiful. To know that Alex has reached Paul's inner being and Paul's realizing the love is still there is a joyous feeling. The sad part being it's just as friends now. But time will tell how this relationship will progress. As Paul said, they both have potential and hopefully that love will grow. Paul's father will have no way of overshadowing such a love. I worry now about Jason. He is such a wonderful character as well.
The first thing Alex did when he got home that night was turn on his computer. As expected an alert for a new email message came up, he knew it would be from Jason. He clicked the icon to open it and began to read.
You will never believe what I have done so I might as well tell you straight away.
The first thing is unbelievable. Have you ever heard of “ironman”? In Australian Surf Life saving an Ironman is a race in which the participants have to complete three legs the first leg is a swim around a course, then the second leg is to paddle a board around and the third leg is to paddle a surf ski around the course - first across the finish line wins. It’s a little more complicated because the surf conditions vary, the legs are sometimes in a different order and in between each of the legs is a transition run on soft sand. Ok so now think elite level and imagine the best of the best meaning the top 30 competitors in the country. There is a series here, it’s sponsored with great prize money and televised nationally so it’s a really big thing.
What’s that got to do with me? I put my name in, but, wait, it gets better there was a preliminary competition with the top five places qualifying for the series. I AM IN can you believe it! I am so excited and bursting with the news – I can’t hold this in despite being told to keep it quiet and low key for a few weeks until it is officially announced.
Second news – I have deferred university for 12 months so I can give the Ironman my best shot. I have so much training, competing and travel- there just isn’t the time to study as well. This is such an opportunity.
I have something to ask as well. Please can I beg you to come down under! When you have your Christmas break can you take two weeks, come to Australia and watch me do an Ironman. I have it all planned – a place to stay. If you can just pay the airfare I can look after the rest. Please come! If you do one thing for me make it this!
How is it going with Paul? No change yet? Is he still pretending you’re not there? Any person who has you caring like that for them must be one heck of a guy, I hope he realizes how lucky he is. If it was me, well it isn’t me so I will leave out what I think. Just be happy ok, please be happy. On another tack how is Jerome? Hey maybe they could come here too. That would be very kool.
I miss you so much and can’t think of anyone I would rather be with to celebrate right now. Grins.
Cheers Alex and loads of love from me in Australia mwahhh!
XoxoxoxAlex smiled as he read the message and opened a window to post an immediate reply.
Wow Jase, that is really something. This is great news. I’ve never heard of Ironman I always thought that it referred to the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon. I’ve heard of the Surf Life Saving of course mainly through you. Is it aerobic or more of a strength related activity? Do you guys really wear the speedos when you compete? If so it might be good to watch hahaha. Is there anywhere I can read up on this?
I don’t know about coming to visit, I’ll have to check schedules, exams, and of course the Basketball program because it’s reasonably certain I’ll stay on the Rattler’s roster and remain on the scholarship program. If it works out I will let you know. Best I can do buddy!
Paul? Well I still don’t know really. He doesn’t hate me anymore so that’s good. He says we can be friends and I believe him. The best way to describe it is to say it is poised to go one way or another. He has some family stuff to sort out and has swapped his course to do Teaching. He always wanted to do that. I am starting to believe he will be ok.
Jerome is not around at the moment – I think he is visiting family in LA. When I see him I’ll tell him you said hello. I’ll also mention the invite – we can see what happens.
It’s late and I need to shower before bed.
Congratulations Jase this is fantastic.
Love from Alex.
Try this link http://surfironmanseries.com/videos that will give you the best idea. This is my competition and some of the people I compete against. As for the speedos yeah of course it’s a must. Would you like a pass to the change area? Hahaha! Would that make sure you do come? Btw My cap will be white with a green stripe in the middle and either side a thin black stripe. It represents the club I belong to. As for the physical aspect, it’s definitely aerobic but add to that surf skills, reading the conditions, and there’s a lot of strength as well. Definitely an endurance aspect to the sport as well.
Do your best about trying to come visit. I’ll understand if you can’t: please try. Bring the boys ok. Let me know soon as you can.
No pressure tho - I would love to see you play basketball again, maybe once the surf season is over I could come visit you again. Like, if you’re back with Paul I can stay somewhere else, if not, it’s on mate and I mean body to body haha. Sorry but it’s how I think.
It sounds like Paul has thawed a bit. That’s good for you eh!
Say hello to Jerome for me.
Love from Jason, friends forever.
hahaha Craiger do you seriously think Jason is out of this? Come on you know how twisted I am. I'm thinking you're just guessing which l go with them. So guess!
A) Alex likes Australia and stays with Jason
B) Paul meets Jason and they really hit it off
C) Jason is eaten by a shark
D) They all have wonderful group sex with Jerome
E) Alex can't decide so he has them both
Hahaha come on make me laugh.
I think I like these quizzes.
You aren't dragging me into one of your quizzes. Nuh! You have a distinct advantage being the writer! I wonder if a love triangle or quadrangle is workable. Nuh.
An interesting e-mail exchange, indeed.
Jase sounds very upbeat, and perhaps willing to get together with Jerome if Paul and Alex are back together.
Could be a very interesting Christmas break, if they can all swing things -
Watched a bit of the Ironman - pretty intense competition.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
Yeah I was hoping some of you might use the link. Extrapolating further I was enabling you to put yourselves in Alex's shoes so that you could see through his eyes it. Give it a go I reckon.
I've checked the choices over and over and I have decided that I will let Alex have Paul. I'm not sure what to do with Jerome, But, I certainly know what to do with Jason.... I will travel to Australia and take my place watching Jason in the Ironman. After he wins we will escape to an undisclosed hideaway and he will wrap his hunky Australian arms around me and have his way with me........
Being as prim and proper as I am, I will leave all the rest to your imagination. The only thing I will say is that we will live happily ever after.................................Now, on with this exciting and titillating story.
Have you finally given up your pursuit of Rawiri, over on the Island?
Did Dave, Mate, win out?
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
I couldn't break up such a wonderful team... And Matt isn't quite available, so Jason is it. I love that downunder accent not to mention the speedos.
Back at Uni. Have my old room back!
Paul is in a dorm on the other side of the Science buildings. Having dinner with him tonight. He likes the idea of a trip to visit. So does Jerome so as long as the dates fit together you might have all three of us. Come visit here if you can.
I did some reading about Ironman – sounds tough.
Short of time – will email later this week.
That room brings only good memories for me! Remember the time you came down the pool and we went back to your place? That was the best time for me ever. Nothing can come close to beating that – except maybe the time I ambushed you and took you to the park bench. I so want to visit.
Having the guys come is fantastic – I hope you can manage this. Please let me know because I am going to plan something special – no hints ok but it is summer after all and beach stuff is part of it. I’ll chat more when I know for sure you can come.
Is it going well with Paul? I have a few burning questions to be asked but need some kind of permission before I do. So am I permitted to ask ANYTHING? The first refers to how it is with his family the second is something more private.
Just so you know. There are 6 events in the ironman calendar. The distances vary and I think my best shot at a place finish is the endurance event. The guys in ironman are seasoned competitors and I don’t think I have a chance in the shorter races. So I’m concentrating on the longest race which is race 3 and the one I want you to see. A lot of the events have video footage online so between my emails and the internet you will get to see how I go. I am both scared and excited. The first race is 2 months away on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. It’s a sprint format series. Three sprint races in total, 10 drop out after the first sprint race, another 10 after the second and the final 10 competitors slog it out in the third and final sprint – there’s a 25 minute break between sprints. It won’t suit me much but I’ll still give it a go.
How’s the basketball shaping up? What are your subjects like? Any more news?
Heaps and heaps of love from Jason.
Of course you can ask anything! I am surprised you needed assurance.
I think I can guess what you wanted to know so I’ll say it and get it over with. No I am not having sex with Paul. We go out now and then and have nice chats, sometimes dinners. We are just taking things easy and enjoying being with each other. It suits me because with the basketball training and new courses there isn’t a lot of free time.
Paul did reconcile of sorts. His mom was always ok. He went round and they had a family talk. He apologized and his dad accepted the apology. They sort of both compromised. The important things are that his dad agreed to Paul doing teaching and coming here but was adamant that a relationship with me had to stop. Paul agreed with that but said that after he finished University he could do as he liked and would be independent. I’m respecting that. So that’s why we are friends only for now. When you meet him I know you will like him.
My studies? I’m studying anatomy, the effects of drugs and medications on the body, cellular biology and human movement. I’m liking them all so far but 4 weeks is not quite enough to see how well I will do.
Jerome got onto the team at State – looks like we will face up against each other – that should be fun. We’re keeping in touch, I’ll give you his email.
Bye for now, love from Alex.
Did you see the pics from Jason? Bro is he serious?
See the one of his family? That ain’t right man.
Jerome has got y’all covered man!
Hey yourself Jerome
Yep I saw them. I see what you mean. But I’m not asking.
How’s training? Did you see the roster? I asked about the break and got the all clear. Can you do the same? I just need to check the exam roster then if it’s still clear I can get tickets.
An interesting way to advance the story line - via e-mail.
Why not, that's almost what we're really doing!
The interpersonal dynamics are going to be verry interesting.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
This is going to be very interesting with all the boys together in Australia. I am a bit jealous, but I can live with it... Keep it going, Michael.
I’m free from the 16th December through to January 5th. Paul is free as well. What about you? Do you want to come down and get tickets with us? How about Friday?
We got our passports sorted out yesterday, they should arrive next week. Exciting huh!
Did you see the video footage of Jason on the internet? He was right up there in the swim, board and run eh! Just getting through the first 2 elimination rounds was tough. I bet he’s putting a lot of work into the ski leg. Still 10th was good, but, I wonder what he thinks. I haven’t congratulated him yet, but, I will.
Oh yeah my man!
Sounds fly to me! Already got my passport! I’ll come over Friday – probably be there around 11. Hell yer I saw it – How does he do all that? He’s a crazy man! Be something to see that live.
I had my first race and made it to the final but then came last in that. So in effect came 10th. That was a good result for me - so I’m pleased how it went. Did you see any? Any word on whether you can come?
I’ll email tomorrow cos right now I am so tired I can’t keep my head up and eyes open.
Love you from Jason
That was crazy. You are a machine! I watched it but don’t believe it. Not bad bro!
Awww Jerome thanks.
No No No and Yes
I’m not crazy, I’m not a machine, you better believe it and – yer I think it wasn’t bad at all.
Am I dreaming? Is this truly happening? I can’t wait till you guys come.
The semester seemed to pass slowly but it only seemed that way because Alex, Paul and Jerome were excited about their first overseas trip and catching up with Jason. Paul although having never met Jason in person was also following the results and joined in on the emails flashing back and forth across the Pacific.
Alex was continuing his impressive rise through the ranks of college basketball. Every game he gave his best and that best was sheer brilliance. He missed Sam at point guard but had good combinations developing with Jack and Eric who were sharing the role now. His courses were going well too.
Paul was improving too. He was back in control of his life and doing the course he had always wanted to do in the first place. Tutoring Alex in Math when they were back in school was the tip of the iceberg that confirmed this was what he wanted to do. He could look in the mirror and not have to glance away at the person he saw.
Jerome was solid in his role playing for State. He played 5 at centre or 4 and always contributed to the game.
The clash between The Rattlers and State was looming and would be played as a Rattler’s home game that was already sold out.
Meanwhile Jason continued to train and competed in the second event of the series. He placed 12th in another short course format held this time in Victoria a south eastern Australian state.
The momentum was gathering and events would unfold quickly. The big game, Alex versus Jerome, would be followed by semester finals and then it would be “adios amigos” as the date to fly out neared.
The game day arrived. Alex met with the rest of the team at 9:00 am in the Snake Pit for a light training session to get the cobwebs out, timing accurate, his shooting movement nice and sharp and the game plan more familiar. This time was important for team bonding in a relaxed atmosphere that could not be achieved closer to game time. Coach Brown was instrumental in Alex’s development and their bond was one of complete faith in each other and mutual respect. Tonight Coach Brown would run the team in the absence of the head coach due to illness, so, in essence this was a step up for him.
The team session finished just before noon and the players made their way out to go home and relax till coming back early around 6:00 pm for the game. Alex exited the doors and was surprised to see groups of people making a day of it with picnic lunches dotted over the lawn and under the trees. He waved to some familiar students and headed home for some relaxation.
At 5:30 Alex grabbed his already packed sports bag and headed towards the Snake Pit. People were already lined up waiting to go in despite tip off being another 90 minutes away. Leticia was there and called out to him. Alex strode over for a quick chat and kissed her lightly on the cheek. She wished him well. He recognized quite a number of the people in line and soaked up their greetings and good wishes for a great game.
The security guards let him in the door with further greetings. He then walked across to the player’s corridor and down to the Rattler’s change room. Once inside he went straight to his locker opening it to find his uniform fresh and folded in the usual place. He took off his shirt, folded it neatly and placed it on the second shelf. Next he took off his shoes and socks, they were placed on the top shelf. These were soon followed by his newish blue jeans and finally his underwear which were also placed on the second shelf. Is was part of his preparation he needed to be naked, it was the first step in his transformation to become “the snake man” almost as though he was putting on a new personality along with the uniform. The uniform on and the persona of the snake with it Alex moved to the team area for final words from Coach Brown.
At 6:30 the team shuffled casually down the corridor arriving to the fanfare of the band and the cheers of a full stadium. No time was wasted as the team launched into warm up drill, then it was back to the bench for introductions to the crowd. The announcer bringing out the State team first player by player then the Rattlers over the roaring cheers of the crowd. Back to the final huddle and last words then hands in the middle and “rattlerssss go”.
From the tip the game was close, hard and fair. Neither team able to make the critical break from the other. Each surge from one side matched by a surge from the other and the scores never than five points apart but mostly even with the lead exchanging sides frequently. So it was no surprise that at full time the score was even at 78 – 78. Jerome was having a fantastic game at centre and Alex was arguably the best player on court from either side. Extra time followed but even then it was even at 86 – 86. Another period of extra time was required to determine a winner.
The defining moment came in the last 30 seconds of double extra time. The Rattlers were one point in front as State took a time out with the ball in possession. Coach Brown spoke as the players listened intently, he asked for composure in defense and told the players to guard against the 3 point shot, no fouls, and that even if we give away 2 points we will have possession and can win it. If they don’t score we run the clock down, if they do we’ll use our time out and make a play. State took the ball in from the half way line, the ball quickly moved around the perimeter to the left then it was spun back through point to the right, back to point again then into Jerome at low post. The defense collapsed but Jerome faked inside right, swiveled left and shot on the board – 2 points. The referees whistle blew – Time Out, the rattlers were 1 point down and 15 seconds to play. Coach Brown’s calm exterior belied the true strength of the adrenalin coursing through his veins, he was as nervous as hell behind the mask of his face.
“One shot ok! We milk the clock and go for the win. His eyes fixed on Alex. “You’re the goto man Alex – call the shot”.
Alex responded breathily “they expect us to milk the time, no prob there, they expect me to make a play so I say send the ball deep in the left corner and I will – I’ll drive but I’ll dump to the elbow – Eric be there - take the shot”.
“Big call Alex” said Coach Brown “but be flexible ok – if you have the shot or milk a foul take it Alex if not dump”.
The ball was put into play and Eric did exactly what he was told. He dribbled the ball, bouncing it in centre court waiting for the clock to wind down. At five seconds Alex cut hard to the left, received the pass then did a cross over going left then right as the State defense expecting exactly that collapsed, Alex dumped to the free Eric at the elbow who went up for the jump shot. The ball hooked on the side of the rim then bounced out to a flurry of outstretched arms but it was Alex who soared highest and who put both hands on the ball simultaneously putting it back up onto the backboard from where it dropped in and then the buzzer sounded to end the game.
The crowd erupted with a deafening roar and everyone stood with a standing ovation for two outstanding teams who had put on the finest display of College basketball at its best. The Rattler’s bench flooded the court congratulating the team but Coach Brown just picked Alex up giving him a bear hug in his euphoria.
“I am so proud of you son” was all he could say. He was proud of all of them and told them so one by one.
Alex walked over to Jerome and they shook hands without words, they weren’t necessary right now. Basketball was the true winner today.
Finals started with Alex spending hours pouring through his notes and referring to his text frequently. Then on the morning of December 16th he sat his last task in Anatomy finishing just as the instruction for pens down was called. Once outside he text messaged Paul then hurried to his room, grabbed his travel documents, his packed suitcase and some bottled water then bolted downstairs and out the doors headed to where both Jerome and Paul were waiting in a rental car for the short drive to the airport. Their flight to LA took only 90 minutes but even so they still needed to hurry to find the check in counter for their flight to Australia. The long queue of passengers had already passed through by the time they arrived so their wait was minimal.
Paul smiled at the middle aged lady behind the counter and asked “excuse me miss is there anyway my friends here can have a seat with leg room? They’re college basketball players and this is a long flight. Anything you can do would help”.
“You should have come earlier, it would have been easier then”.
“I know but exams and all, we only just made it here”.
“I’ll have a look and see what I can do” she said as she tapped keys on the computer keyboard and glanced at the screen.
“It’s ok if you can’t but anything you can do to help would be appreciated” added Paul smiling the whole time.
“The flight is very full already and I don’t have three seats together, but I think I can help you. Would you mind waiting over there for me? It will only take a minute”.
They stepped aside to wait disappointed that they might not be able to sit together while the lady spoke into a telephone. They saw her tap a few more keys on the keyboard, spoke again into the phone and then watched as she listened, finally she nodded and called them over.
“You’re in luck boys” she smiled.
“That’s great” responded Paul.
“It seems we have an older couple who require tickets on this flight but were originally booked on a later flight. I can fit them in and my supervisor said to upgrade you to Business Class at no extra charge. Are you willing to accept that arrangement?”
“That’s fantastic” beamed Paul as all three flashed smiles.
They very happily booked their luggage and received their boarding passes for the long flight ahead.
Almost 20 hours later the pilot’s voice came over the intercom system advising passengers that they were “commencing descent into Sydney Airport and would arrive at 6:15 pm local time the temperature being a pleasant 22 degrees” then finished by adding “please remain seated and fasten your seat belts”.
Jerome drawled “I thought 22 degrees was cold - better wear your coats boys”.
“It’s Celsius” laughed Paul “so that’s more like 75 to us. We better get used to things being different”.
“So will they have kangaroos at the airport?”
… and at that point they all laughed.
Going Business Class they were through the luggage area well before the Ecomomy Class passengers had exited the plane. Even customs was easy. They took a luggage trolley, put their gear on it and pushed towards the exit down a long corridor then around a corner. A large crowd was gathered at the spacious meeting area as they scanned the faces. Jason help his hand high waving it so they could see him and it was Alex who was first to notice. “There he is to the left” he told the others who glanced across and saw him grinning.
Finally they were together. Jason could not contain himself he hugged Alex, patted his back before moving onto Jerome and finally Paul “great to see you guys” he spluttered. “…and you Paul finally we get to meet. Welcome to Australia guys”.
Jason ushered them through the arrivals lounge across the pedestrian crossing and into the multistory car park where his car was parked. The luggage safely stowed away in the boot (trunk but it is called boot since they are in Australia). Jason told Jerome to sit in the front so he could have more room then laughed as Jerome went to open the car door. Jerome looked up frozen in time with his hand on the door handle looking at Jason. Paul caught on first and started laughing too then Alex but Jerome still didn’t get it. “Ok lets go” laughed Jason, and so they went to get inside the car.
Jerome finally got the joke! “Ok ok ya got me that time” he laughed then proceeded to close the driver side door and went across to the left side front passenger seat!
Just as well Jason drove out the airport and onto the streets of Sydney, the sensation of being on the left of the road felt really weird. Jason’s hotel was in town opposite Hyde Park, the drive taking around 20 minutes. Once they went through hotel check in they went up the elevator to the 8th floor and along to their triple room with three single beds. “I hope this is ok” chirped Jason “my room is down the corridor in 821 - I need to be in a separate room tonight and tomorrow and in bed by 8:30. Tomorrow I have a sponsor’s breakfast then after that we’ll relax a bit if it’s ok because I don’t really want to use up too much energy before race day. I’ll leave you to get settled and be back in an hour, I can hardly believe you’re here at last”.
It was more than ok and very generous of Jason to look after all the accommodation for them. The room was fine, the bathroom spotless and the view through the window across the park very pleasant. “Look at that building” said Jerome the one with the skinny column and a space ship on the top”.
“I wonder where the Opera House is” mused Paul.
“… and the harbour” added Alex.
Good as his word Jason was back after an hour and took them all downstairs in search of food. He took them down towards George street past an amazing range of cuisines from all over the world. “Does anything in particular interest you?” asked Jason.
“It all interests me” chimed Jerome which was followed by laughter from the others.
“You choose Jase” said Alex. “We’ll go along with anything, won’t we boys”. The three nodded.
“Ok well, how about keeping it simple tonight, would Subway be ok or maybe Kebabs?”
“Kebabs?” asked Paul.
“Yeah, why not” agreed Alex.
So they made their way into a nearby shop where Jason commenced the orders. Jason ordered a chicken kebab served inside Lebanese bread with tabouleh, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, grated carrot, cheese, houmous and hot chilli sauce. “That sounds good to me I’ll have the same” added Paul.
“Yeah the same for me too” chimed Alex.
“Make mine beef instead but otherwise the same” added Jerome
Jason asked for take away and when ready took them up to the park and along to benches near the fountain. The kebabs were good, really good. To the others it seemed so weird to be here eating outdoors – back home it might even be snowing and the wind would be cold.
Jerome pointed up towards the building he noticed earlier. “What’s that building” he asked.
“It’s called Centrepoint Tower, we’re going there tomorrow for lunch.
Half past eight came too early and it was only part way to dark as well. “It’s bed time for me guys. The race is coming up day after tomorrow so I have to be strict with preparation. If you guys want to look around feel free ok but I have to go back. I’m up at 5 for a light swim then the sponsor’s breakfast so I’ll come pick you guys up at 10:00 am ok, if you’re awake that is”.
“Yeah sure Jason, we probably should try sleep and get over the jet lag” responded Paul.
They headed back together each looking forward to what the next day would bring. Jet lag or not Alex, Paul and Jerome were a lot more tired than they realized and were soon asleep.
Right on time at 10:00 Jason knocked on the door to find them all dressed and ready to go. He led them out the hotel and into the underground railway at Museum Station, he purchased city circle tickets and bundled them all into a train then out again at Circular Quay. The Opera House loomed large and spectacular on the right but it was the ferries that Jason was interest in. A morning tour of the harbour would be relaxing and spectacular. This was followed by the short walk to the Opera House forecourt and plenty of pics standing on the steps with the building behind them. Next it was back on the city circle train for Martin Place and the speed elevator to the top of Centre Point Tower where they first went on the observation deck and then into the revolving restaurant with superb views over the harbour, eastern suburbs and city. The meal was almost as good although to be honest the view was what really made it spectacular. Back on the street again a short walk to the Queen Victoria building where Jason took them to an Australiana shop where he had already organized special presents and collected three canvas bags he had organized previously. This was followed by a monorail ride, above the city streets and across to Darling Harbour, then back around to the stop closest their hotel. Jason once again taking his leave to go back and rest while the others continued to explore the city on foot.
Once back in their room, where Jason had placed the canvas bags on each bed, they found cards inside envelopes and addressed to each one. Alex opened his and read Jason’s words.
Alex thanks for coming. Your presence means a great deal to me. I am inspired every time I see you or talk to you and feel blessed you are part of my life. Enjoy the gifts.
The first gift was a black beach towel with Jason’s surf club logo in the centre. The second was a new pair of surf club speedos with the name Alex on the back. Next was a multicoloured and patterned pair of boardies. This was followed by a very kool boomerang painted with aboriginal motifs and finally a rolled up canvas which when unrolled was a vibrant painting composed of lots of little dots (later he would learn this was a traditional aboriginal painting).
Paul opened his card.
Paul I am really happy you came. Alex loves you and that’s enough for me. I hope we become really good mates and look forward to the many years of knowing you better. I hope you enjoy the gifts.
Jerome opened his card as well.
Hey Bro glad you came. Be good to have you in my corner for the race. I’m looking forward to being friends forever. Hope you like the gifts.
The bags were more or less the same only the boardies, the paintings and the boomerangs were different.
“This is kool” exclaimed Paul as he held up his boomerang, “I wonder how you make them come back”.
“He said to expect beach stuff so maybe it has something to do with that” added Alex. Then added “Jerome in speedos - what was he thinking?”
“Fly for a white guy” joked Jerome.
The next morning Jason woke them early for breakfast they drove out to Bondi. Jason parked the car in a marked car place then walked up the hill to a vantage point where he could stand and survey the surf.
“What are you looking for?” asked Paul.
“I’m trying to read the waves and currents, maybe see where the rips are”.
“Ok I get it - to see which parts to avoid”.
“No the rips can help me get out easier”.
“um .. I thought rips were dangerous”.
“They are but we can use them to get out through the break quickly. Waves break on the beach one after the other and the build up of water has to go somewhere, usually it spreads along the beach and then feeds into a rip that flows back out away from the beach. It’s more or less like a cycle – if you get caught just conserve energy, float and put your arm up to indicate you need help – don’t fight against the current ok”.
“Can you see any?”
“Yeah sure down towards the south, see the discoloured water moving back out to sea … That’s Backpacker’s Rip - it’s called that because the backpackers who know nothing about surfing go in there for a swim then get carried out and the life savers rescue them. It happens a lot. The event today is in the middle of the beach but see the surf – there’s a fair sized swell on … and to the left of the cordoned off area can you see the rip? I might be able to use that. The tide is full now but on the way out so when the race starts the waves might stand up on the sandbank a bit – that could be interesting.
“Have you got some sort of game plan?”
“I do yep” replied Jason. “The course is longer today, each leg is longer and instead of going around once with each leg we have to go back around a second time and in between the two courses is a 2.5 km beach run on the soft sand. My plan is to stay just behind the lead pack around the first three legs, then press a bit on the run to tire them out a bit and take the advantage in the second time around. I don’t know the order yet but hopefully the board and swim will be first two, that would suit me”.
“Where do we go to watch?”
“I have passes for you guys in the reserved area – see it marked over there with the red rope”.
Jason scanned the surf again to be sure then led the way back down towards the beach and over to two guys dressed in club colours. “Hey dudes what do you know? These are the guys I told you about Alex, Paul and Jerome meet Bluey and Lanky”.
Alex looked confused trying to figure out which name belonged to which person. Jason laughed explaining that Bluey had the red hair and Lanky was the short guy. Like huh! Oh well it is Australia!
Jason addressed Alex, Paul and Jerome “Guys I need to do some race talk for a while, these guys are handling my surf craft today. Here’s the passes I’ll catch up with you after the race”.
“Good luck” offered Alex and Paul simultaneously.
“Fly my man” offered Jerome.
I'm dying of anticipatory nausea. I hope he wins
Love your story!
A very interesting and educational chapter.
The camaraderie is strong and building.
The IronMan Lifesaving Competition is very interesting event.
I understand the need for the strong lifeguards in the active waters off your coast.
On a side note, I hope things are starting to work back down in Queensland and any areas savagely hit by the flooding.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
The beach was absolutely packed by race time. People were everywhere trying to find the best spot to see the stars in action. Alex, Paul and Jerome were in the roped off area reserved was for sponsors, family and friends but even that was crowded too. They had positioned themselves near a corner adjacent to the roped off shute the competitors would run through in their transition from the surf around the roped off reserved area and then back out to sea again. The finish line was 50 metres to their left and 15 metres back behind them as they faced the ocean. It was a prime place to see the action. The start however was down on the beach to their left and they knew Jason would be there somewhere.
Jason looked around him in the marshalling area and took in the snapshots of his rivals. No, that was unfair they didn’t deserve to be called rivals, he had received nothing but encouragement from any of them. Caine, for example was his hero and a real champion having won the overall title 4 times already despite being only 27. Yet, Caine always had taken the time to give him tips in training and even today had pointed out the best approaches out to the marker buoys and the best way back in and then warned him to be careful with the sandbank. They were all like that, so calling them rivals wasn’t the truth. They were friends, fellow competitors, highly trained athletes doing their best to win but with a special bond. Sometimes he felt humbled to be among them Caine, Cameron, Shannon, Tye, Phil and Darcey these guys were legends who had taken him as one of their own. Today he couldn’t think that way, he was here to try and win the thing, he had done the training, he was fit, skilled and had the mind set that said he could win. The race marshall called them over and repeated the race instructions despite not really needing to - today the order as drawn from a hat would be swim, board, ski then run followed by the second swim, board ski then finish.
The competitors walked across to the starting line, Jason had drawn 25 which would be his position. The competitors edged up to the line drawn in the sand. Jason put his left foot forward to toe the line and relaxed his muscles ready for the start. The starters gun went off and the competitors ran down the beach, then lifted their knees high to run through the shore waves, followed by diving porpoise like out to deeper water. Jason veered slightly left along with Caine and four others. He commenced swimming and soon got into a rhythm with a nice trail behind someone’s feet to conserve some energy.
Alex heard the gun and looked to his left eventually seeing the mass of flesh rushing towards the surf. He could not pick out Alex until Jerome pointed towards the cap. It was hard following exactly where he was because the waves would hide him from view until another rise came and he could be seen again.
Jason had a nice rhythm going despite the decent ocean swell. He looked ahead and saw he had about another hundred metres to go to the first turning buoy. He kept his body straight and relaxed back into his stroke. Nearing the buoy he positioned for an easy turn, he knew he was in a pack but had no idea how many were there or how many were in front of him.
From the beach Alex followed the position of the white striped cap and saw that Jason was fourth around the first marker.
Jason smoothly swam right around the buoy and was now lateral to the beach, he was still positioned behind someone’s feet getting a drag that was conserving his energy. The swim was feeling easy. He turned at the next bouy and took a sneak peek to his right, there were a lot of swimmers behind him. He was swimming back towards the beach. A wave came and he kicked to get a run from it’s energy then relaxed back into his stroke as it passed. He swam slightly right away from the kicking legs in front and looked behind to see what the surf was doing. The swell had picked up a bit and some of these waves were coming through around 2 metres wave height. He neared the sandbank and felt the pull of a wave coming. He glanced behind and decided to go for it increasing his tempo to match the wave and holding his back rigid. He felt its lift and kicked hard as his body planed down the face of the wave body surfing it towards the shore. He glanced left then right to see another five on the same wave, Caine was there and Shannon. The wave slowed as it neared the beach so he took a breath, put his head down and kicked hard to get more out of its momentum. He stood in knee deep water and began running up the beach towards the shute.
Alex watched Jason body surf the wave and stand near the beach. He counted the number and came up with six, Jason and five more were in the lead. Go Jase he shouted as they came through the shute turned right, along then right again down to where their surf rescue boards were lined up along the sand.
Jason relaxed into the run getting the blood circulating back into his legs and was content to follow the others through the shute and down to his board. He dipped and picked up the strap lifting the board and carrying it down to the beach. He slapped the board down held it firmly with one hand on each side and pushed down on it while galloping with his legs through the white wash. Then he jumped onto the board in a kneeling position and dipped his hands and forearms into the water like paddles. Both hands striking the water simultaneously and going no deeper than his elbow as he pulled his arms back and the board skimmed the water. He veered left again and headed out towards the board leg’s turning buoy which was set further out than the swim. Caine and Shannon had also gone left with someone he couldn’t quite see in front and they settled into an easy rhythm using the wash of the front board. Still six in the lead pack and the next pack about 10 metres behind.
Alex watched the lead group on their knees with their asses high in the air and the bobbing motion of their strokes. Paul made the comment about this being a great spectator sport, he was quite enjoying the fit bodies, tiny speedos and right now the hot butts raised high.
Jason lay on his board and used his arms in alternate strokes to control the turn, then back to his knees and on back to his tummy again as he turned right back towards the beach. Half way in a good wave came and he lifted the tempo to catch it and ride it to the beach. He sucked in some breaths, relaxed as the wave did the work then looked across to see four more on the wave. Someone missed it, Caine and Shannon were there.
Alex, Paul and Jerome watched in awe of the skill on display. “How good is this” claimed Alex. He saw Jason get to the beach jump off his board pushing it to Bluey and run back up the shute. He was definitely in this, and right now fourth. He watched them run back down to the beach where their surf skis were lined up. They were really quick on the skis and out through the surf into the green water easily. The ski turning markers were the furthest from the beach and the flurry of paddles was really obvious. The leading pack of five turned around the marker back towards the beach and were lucky to catch a wave quickly widening the gap between them and the next group.
Jason threw his paddle towards Lanky and pushed his ski up the beach then set off up the shute. There were five in the lead. As promised he pushed harder in the run knowing he had an advantage with his light frame. He soon forced a gap with five becoming three and by the end two as his relentless pace across the sand was too hard for the others to keep up. He led Caine back down to the water for the second swim leg.
Alex, Jerome and Paul watched the drama unfold as Jason and Caine went for it full pelt with the gap between them and the next competitors widening. Level again after the final swim and level again after the board - despite the swell making the large waves stand and dump as they came onto the sandbank. The final ski leg would make the difference. Alex cheered as the two skis rounded the final turn. Jason paddled slightly right and Caine paddled slightly left. Neck and neck this would be a great finish. There were no waves so the two paddled hard towards the beach. A rogue wave came up behind them, it was huge and over three metres high, a massive wave. It was unavoidable, they were trapped right on the verge of the sandbank, the wave sat up increasing its height as its wall of water loomed dangerous and menacing while Jason paddled futilely against its drawing power which sucked him into its dangerous crash zone. Thump it thundered down engulfing everything with white, Jason and his ski was lost in the churning white water until his ski was projected vertically in the air then came back crashing down again to be swept to the beach without its rider. Alex’s heart stopped beating as his frightened eyes searched everywhere. Jason no! Oh no! Please no! He just wasn’t there. Alex gripped the rope panicked unable to breathe.
Oh shit! I hope Jason's ok!
This has been a great story!
Are you trying to give us all apoplexy? These cliffhangers are going to have to end..............now............. I too fear for Jason. Remember, he is my choice so no harm must befall him.
I once again marvel at your ability to make basketball and the Ironman sound so authentic. Even though you have told me you don't have a background in the sports, I can't believe that you aren't some secret sports agent..... Also, I think you must be a travel agent. I feel as though I have been to Sydney in just the last few minutes.
No to the basketball
Yes to the surf life saving - check my gallery
Sydney - yes it's an wonderful city
Bondi is iconic to every australian and most visitors too
As for Jason sorry I thought you wanted me to get rid of him - at least I didn't use the shark munchies idea (i was kind).
You are wicked!
In an ocean of Life Savers competing - I KNOW Jason will surface - the question is whether under his own power or with help.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
The massive crowd of spectators was stunned into silence. Alex was frozen his knuckles white from squeezing the rope so hard. No … oh Jason no no no. It was so long but then a head popped up followed by the rest of a slim body. “Yes it’s Jason” yelled Alex and the crowd spontaneously applauded as he lifted his knees high and began to run towards the finish line. He couldn’t be beaten.
“He did it, he did it” shouted Paul excitedly.
“Go Jason” screamed Alex.
Jerome just screamed “Gooooooo”.
Alex watched as Jason turned his head and saw he would win then punch his fist in the air.
When he saw the wave coming Jason muttered shit and paddled as hard as he could to get over the sandbank. He felt the pull of the wave and the sensation of paddling without moving as the wave stood up and the crest began to curl – fuck fuck fuck he muttered as the powerful wave crashed behind him then engulfed him. He sucked a lungful of air just as the force pushed him off his ski and down into the churning mass of white water. He could do nothing other than hold his hands in above of his head to protect his neck. His body felt like it was being torn apart and crashed into the sand over and over again pinning him under the surface forever, he thought he would die, then, he sensed the force lessening and kicked his legs as hard as he could. His head came out enabling a breath and his legs found the sandy bottom as he stood and looked at the finish line. He glanced around, saw that he was alone and lifted his knees to run out of the water and take his win. He punched the sky “yeah”. This was his dream being fulfilled.
He looked back to see where the other competitors were. Then unbelievably turned back into the surf from which he had just emerged.
Alex watched him turn. “No Jason, this way” he yelled, thinking he was disoriented.
But .. Jason dived under the next wave. He stayed under as the next two competitors, oblivious to what was happening, rode the wave to the beach then ran to the finish line. Jason’ head came up then he dived again and resurfaced clutching a weakened Caine who coughed and spluttered - Jason dragged him onto the sand with his arm around his shoulders and Caine’s right arm around his neck then half carried him up the beach stumbling towards the finish line. Once there he pushed Caine’s body across the line then followed to complete the race.
It was surreal. Nothing made sense. Jason had no idea what was going on around him. A sea of colours swam together in whirling patterns as he staggered then clutched at the side ropes to stop himself falling. Hands held him up and through the fog he heard someone say something unintelligible, felt something being held on his face and the sweet coolness of air. His head began to clear and he realized he was being given oxygen through a face mask someone was holding. His sanity returning quickly he grabbed the mask and sucked more of the precious oxygen as another voice the voice of an angel he knew to be Alex said “take it easy buddy, you’re in one piece”. He closed his eyes and knew he would be ok.
He had no idea how long it took but he was aware of the people around him. He looked around removed the mask and coughed “I’m ok, where’s Caine?”.
“Caine’s ok he’s on the oxygen too”.
“My friends? Please?”.
“Ok, hold on they’re just outside the barrier”
He heard squish of feet on sand and looked over his shoulder to Bluey and Lanky followed closely by Alex, Paul, and Jerome.
“Fuck Jase that was scary” swore Bluey.
“Fucking stupid” added Lanky “you were winning, they would have got him”.
Jason looked up to see their mouths moving but not really hearing the words. “Guys can I catch you later?”
He reached out to Alex’s hand drawing him near and whispered in his ear “Get me out of here” pleaded Jason “I just want to go … please”.
Alex replied with his eyes and a nod imperceptible to anyone else. Then he muttered in Paul’s ear who responded quickly with Jerome in tow close behind.
Minutes later Paul drove the car up and Alex quickly led a weary Jason wrapped in his towel up steps then bundled him into the front seat.
“Jason can you give me some directions” asked Paul.
“Yeah I’m ok, just drive - I have to get away from here”.
Jason was lucid and gave the directions as Paul negotiated the streets of Bondi and the eastern suburbs back to the city and the hotel car park. Between them Alex, Paul and Jerome whisked him into the hotel elevator and up to their room. Jason knew where he was but allowed them to lead him. Once inside and the door closed behind them Jason looked about hopelessly unaware of what to do. His glazed eyes brimmed with tears as his hands spread out searching for something to hold onto – Alex stepped up to be that something and held him as Jason’s body shook.
“I am so sor…”
“Hush it’s ok you’re safe”
“No I .. I mean ..”
“The race …”
“Shhh not now ok”
“Caine …” squeaked Jason.
“He’s ok thanks to you”.
“But am I …”
“Enough ok, don’t”.
Jason did not want Alex to let go but his towel fell to the floor to be picked up by Paul who tenderly draped it around Jason’s bare shoulders.
“Paul I …”
But … Paul placed his finger on Jason’s lips to silence him. “
Jerome came over and said “let me get some of this shit” then unceremoniously took over from Alex to hold Jason tight. “That’s the bravest thing I ever saw man, you’re a hero to me”. Jason looked up to Jerome’s face and realised he was being very serious, he said nothing back but felt very protected in Jerome’s strong arms even though the towel slipped to the floor again.
It seemed like they all wanted part of the action so Jason called Paul over for his share of the hug and as the four of them clung together he realized that they were more his family than his own family back in Piper’s Point and he felt truly happy.
“Ok what’s the smell?” laughed Jason to break things up. “Oh it’s me! I need a shower bad huh” and they peeled away laughing. Then he went to the bathroom, turned the shower on but left the door open, not quite ready to be alone.
Wow, Michael. That was really intense. I knew you would protect Jason for me. I want to be in on the big hug. Not many people would give up the chance that was available to Jason, but it goes to show that friendship is ten times more important than a win or award. Jason will get his reward in a much greater way. More, More!
That was a great turnaround - from shark bait to Lifeguard to the Ligeguards, extraordinaire.
Is anyone going to offer to scrub his back for him?
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
hahahaha no sexuality this time he's just insecure right now
Having someone there to scrub your back and give you an up close full body hug in a nice, warm shower is very good for reinforcing security and well-being.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
Good on ya Jason. Your rewards will be greater having made the sacrifice. You might just get your boy back
Jason came out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist, his tanned body lean and defined, glistened with droplets of water - “hey I was wondering if I could stay with you guys tonight … here I mean … I don’t really want to be in my room … by myself … I mean … I can bunk down on the floor somewhere … besides … early start tomorrow and someone has to get you guys up”.
“Have my bed” offered Alex then added “what’s on tomorrow? You haven’t given us any details about where we’re going yet”.
“Be easier to put two in my bed … share with me … no need to use the floor and our bodies are smaller so we’ll fit” Paul chimed in “… and yeah I wouldn’t mind knowing what we’re doing”.
“Well” started Jason “I was going to keep it a surprise but now you’re all here … what the heck! Tomorrow we’re flying to a resort in Queensland for 3 nights then we’re coming back to where I live in Piper’s Point for the until it’s time to back in Sydney for flights”.
Paul pulled the bed cover and top sheet down then casually mentioned “see Jase we can manage ok … and a resort huh! That must cost a packet”.
“I fixed it up ages ago, and thanks … yer it’ll be better than the floor eh!”
“We can help pay some” offered Alex.
“I’ll take you up on a few drinks but no I already paid for a package deal including meals. It’s not every day I can show you guys some hospitality”.
“Where’s the resort?” asked Jerome.
“It’s near Cairns and you definitely need those new boardies”.
“Kool … what’s the deal”.
“Come on let me keep some secrets, it’s a resort ok … we get to do resort stuff”.
“Y’all have something secret going down right”.
“I do but it’s a surprise … it will be good though”.
They chatted away on every topic bar one. The race was the one topic they knew to avoid.
Jason yawned – he had been up since 5:00 am, and the yawn soon became contagious. He was still wearing the bath towel and realized he had nothing to wear. “Um … I got nothing to put on”.
“Trust me Jase that is not going to be a problem … just get in the bed” laughed Paul.
Jason giggled shrugged his shoulders, dropped the towel, lay on one side of the single bed and pulled a sheet up halfway to cover the parts that were meant to be private. He was so tired he was asleep almost instantly.
By 3:00 pm the next day they had already moved into their rooms at the resort, changed into T shirts and boardies, and found the pool. Dinner wasn’t until 6:30 pm so they held back getting ready till the last moment. Around 7:00 they walked down to the dining room and were seated at a table next to an open window. The meals were served and Jason held up his drink proposing a toast “here’s to a good time”.
They held up their drinks and toasted “a good time”.
They got on really well together and had a relaxed fun time playing tennis, swimming in the pool, a massage, a trip through the rain forest and sumptuous feasts. On their second day Jason unveiled his secret surprise. Up nice and early and more reliable at getting them roused than any alarm clock, Jason had them breakfasted and ready to go by 7:30 am. First was a helicopter ride along the coast and then east over the ocean towards an island location. From there it was a walk to a beach hut and out along a jetty to a yacht. Life vests were issued as a compulsory safety standard and soon they were sailing around the island. A crew member attached a net to two long poles and lowered the poles to a horizontal position little more than half a metre above the water, they climbed out into the net for a sensational ride through the swirling water. Alex was reticent at first but soon relaxed and enjoyed the fun. Rounding the last bend of the island the poles and net were stowed away and the sails taken down as the yacht was put at anchor.
This time it was face masks, flippers and a snorkel as they took the opportunity to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef. It was unbelievable! It’s one thing to see the reef on TV but nothing comes close to actually being there and seeing it. The spectacular reef and all it’s inhabitants provided the highlight Jason had intended it to be and was easily the best and most memorable activity they had ever encountered. Alex and Jerome overcame their fears to enjoy the amazing, mind blowing moment and Paul loved every minute. They stayed snorkling for well over an hour then came back onboard the yacht which moved out a bit further from the reef. The crewman came along and announced that lunch would be served but they had to catch it first. He handed out fishing lines to each of them and they soon had a go trying to catch a fish for dinner. Jerome was the first to haul in a fish it was a huge red reef fish only to be disappointed to find the flesh was not edible and poisonous. Alex was next but his catch was a protected species of blue groper. Then Jerome and Paul brought fish on board simultaneously. Paul’s fish was a monster and big enough to feed everyone including the crew. The crewman took it downstairs to the galley where the cook was preparing lunch. They continued to fish having a great time but letting their catches go. After a brilliant lunch featuring Paul’s fish they decided to have another snorkel and following that the yacht set sail back to the mainland.
“How good was that” stated an obviously happy Paul as he lazed back sipping a cold juice. “Jason I had no idea how incredible the reef was and I’ll remember this day forever. Thanks Jase that was a piece of magic I can’t imagine a day more perfect!” His statement summarizing how they all felt.
The next night was their last at the resort and Jason arranged transport into town. The driver suggested the best place for them to have a celebratory last night and drove them to a packed hotel bar. It was filled with a noisy assortment of locals and holiday makers, mostly young people and had a stage jutting out from one wall. It was payback time for Jason who was not allowed to buy drinks tonight so Jerome went first and ordered a round of drinks – first up nice cold beers for everyone. The night wore on and even more people fit inside.
A manager came around handing out slips of paper. He came up to their table and handed the slips out saying “it’s wet t shirt night guys … you can enter yourself or nominate anyone you like … and guys are wet undies too … biggest cheer gets free drinks for the night. They thought nothing more about it till 20 minutes later and the manager came back to say “some ladies have nominated you guys … so how about it?”
“Hold on a sec what do we have to do” asked Jerome.
“The girls go first ok, they come out in t shirts and get doused with water we just cheer for who we like – it’s a Friday night tradition here. Then it’s the guys wearing T shirt and jocks – biggest cheer gets free drinks – oh and if you pay 20 bucks you get to spray the water and the money raised goes to the local kids sporting clubs tonight it’s the Basketball Club. Come on boys you’re nominated so how about it!”
“Not me” said Alex opting out – he was least likely to want to be noticed.
“Nor me – but you guys have a go” added Paul.
“I’m fly with it … come on Jase …with me on this – it’s for the kids” said Jerome.
“Yeah ok” replied Jason “Jerome and me ok, where do we go?”
“This way boys said the manager as he led them behind the stage.
Ten minutes later they were ready to start. As promised the girls went first and a busty black haired girl brought the whistles and hoots out from the crowd. She was an easy winner.
Then it was time for the guys. Behind the stage were eight guys. Jerome was number 6 and Jason was number 8. First they stripped down to their undies which for Jason was his speedos because he had no clean underwear left. Then they put on clean but thin white t shirts that were supplied. The first guy went on stage – he was a flabby sort of guy but the sound of the cheers that came through the thin wall were loud, he came back down dripping water. One by one they went out and the crowd cheered.
Number 6 was next. The manager announced Jerome, who then walked out centre stage and stood on the marked spot. He already had raucous cheers from a table of girls to the right and he hadn’t even started yet. It was no surprise one rushed over waving a $20 note. She took the sprayer, asked if he was ready then started spraying his t shirt. It might have been because of his dark skin, his height or even because of his muscles but the t shirt was practically invisible as every inch of his great body was now evident. The girls were going wild. Then she sprayed his undies and it was pandemonium as everyone saw his massive log pointing sideways to three o’clock with it’s helmeted head stuck to the thin material and on show for everyone to see. It was too much for some who simply threw dollars onto the bucket by the stage. When Jerome turned around the girl happily sprayed water over his back down to his magnificent ass and Jerome played up to it by performing an excerpt from a booty shake. The manager looked at his sound meter and wrote down the result. Whoo hoo he got a good cheer.
Backstage while number 7 had his turn Jason was getting nervous and wondering if this was such a great idea.
Oh no number 8 was called. “Suck it up” he said to himself.
The manager announced “last but not least we have Jason … come on folks round of applause for Jason”.
The table to the right certainly did.
“Ladies do we have a sponsor?”
A girl from the centre front ran forward just narrowly beating a girl from the table to the right.
She didn’t even bother asking if he was ready, she just went full into it spraying Jason with the water. It felt like he was having a shower. Jason’s body was of course much slighter but more defined, and … he had the advantage of very slim hips with his athletic chest and shoulders. There were plenty of cheers, maybe not so may as Jerome. Then he turned around and a weird thing happened. There was a noticeable lull in the din, followed by something that seemed like whispers and Jason thought something was wrong, but the din was replaced by some clapping, then more clapping which steadily became louder … it was a different noise altogether - he turned to see the whole place giving a standing ovation.
“What the f…” muttered Jason.
He had no idea what was going on.
He just waved, left the stage and got dressed as soon as he could.
The manager brought them out fully clothed to read the result. “and the winner is … wait for it … it’s number 6 Jerome!!! The cheers were back again. “… and lets hear it again for our Aussie hero Jason Smyth!!!
Jason was stunned. His eyes wide like saucers wondering what was going on. He could not get off the stage quick enough.
“What the fuck was that?” he asked Alex and Paul when he dodged his way across the room to find them.
They had no answer for him.
But, just then a guy came up and shook Jason’s hand “Good on yer mate” he said.
“Thanks mate but I don’t get it” said Jason “where’d that come from”.
“Mate ur just about the most popular person in Australia right now”.
“Mate it’s everywhere. News, internet, twitter, papers everyone wants a part of it. Come off it you gotta know”.
“No way what’s it all about”’
“Mate the race! You’re big news. Everyone wants a piece of you but no one knew where you got to till now. They’re all trying to find you”.
“What? Me? Why me?
“Cos of what you did mate”.
“I don’t get it and how did everyone know it was me?”
“Your face is everywhere man. You made headlines everywhere overseas as well. I saw CNN footage from the states, and the BBC from London. I heard the video footage on the internet has had 15 million hits already. You’re like … famous …”
Alex and Paul laughed “and … like … it’s plastered over your ass when you turned round …the speedos … kind of hard to miss that”.
That much at least dawned on Jason but he still didn’t see the fuss. He was about to say something more but let it drop because Jerome was back with the manager and four trays of free drinks. Jason told the guy to call his mates over to help down the drinks, then settled down temporarily uneasily to enjoy the night. I was a fun night as the jokes flew back and forth and if points were awarded for humour then Paul excelled and would have won, but, after consuming more beers everything was funny whether it was meant to be or not.
A great chapter - lots of fun on a vacation of vacations.
Jason - could it be his rescue of his fellow competitor?
That was pretty newsworthy to me.
Going above and beyond.
And I know, if I'll only be true, to this glorious quest . . .
Great chapter, Michael. The boys are having the best time ever and all thanks to Jason. Which reminds me, you keep Jason out of Paul's bed... That was some description of Jerome and his appendages... I'll have to go to more wet underware parties............
After a tiring and uneventful flight south followed by a long drive Jason pulled into the car park of an all night supermarket in Maxton. The others were snoozing in the car and he told them he was going in to get food supplies. Paul decided to help out and came with him. Forty minutes later with the car boot laden from the contents of a full trolley Jason drove to his home town Piper’s Point. He drove through the Main Street then turned right towards the beach and surf club and then left along a road running behind the beach. The houses gave way to natural bush land that was part of the National Park but the road itself was a legacy from the days of sand mining. The road continued towards a rocky headland. Jason drove past a popular surfing spot and its beach car park on his right to a locked gate with a warning sign.
He used a key to unlock the gate, drove through and then went back to lock the gate behind them. The road turned left away from the beach heading inland, then right across a small rise and right again thereby going around to the other side of the headland, then he turned left and into a clearing. To the right was a house, to the left a garage and a locked storage shed. Jason drove up to the back of the house and cut the ignition. He left the car headlights on so he had some light to help him use his keys to open the door at the back of the house then returned to douse the headlights and rouse the tired passengers. Once inside he made sure they were comfortable in beds and went to the kitchen to unpack their supplies. Once finished he switched the lights out and fell onto his bed exhausted.
Alex woke to the steady sound of waves breaking along the beach and the sun streaming through his window. He hardly knew where he was. He opened the bedroom door, found a bath room to his right, then went along a small hall to a large open plan space with areas for kitchen, dining and living/lounge. The table was already set up with cereals, milk, juice, fruits and a note saying help yourself. Alex chopped up some fruit on top of cereal, added some milk and took his breakfast out to the porch where he sat and looked about as he ate his breakfast. This seemed to be the front of the house and faced the beach. He watched Jason down on the beach running down the sand and into the water, swimming 10 or so strokes then coming back in to do it all again. It looked like he was doing reps of 10 in a set, then doing the same with a surfboard in and out, pauses between and sets and then repeating the whole again and again. Alex really liked the way Jason moved. His lithe body so deceptively strong but oh so graceful. Jason’s physique was different to his own, even to Jerome’s and Paul’s. They all had good bodies but Jason had the economy of movement that made him smooth and magnetic to watch. In terms of Jason’s body Alex liked the cut abs and his cute little butt the best.
The door opened behind him and Paul stood stetching
“Morning” he yawned.
“Hmm this is nice”.
“Yeah the scenery is good”.
Paul’s eyes followed where Alex was looking and he laughed gently “I see what you mean I quite like it too”.
Jason looked up and waved. He carried his board up to an outdoor shower and washed his board then stuck his head followed by his body under the cold spray. He glided up to the porch and gave his enormous grin.
“What do you think of the place?” he asked.
“It’s fantastic” replied Alex “is this home?”
“Sort of, I mean I do live here, but, it’s not mine”.
“Wow” added Paul “It’s sensational”.
“There is a story behind it … I’ll tell you soon … but what about breakfast”.
“Already had some” replied Alex.
“I’ll put some on … might as well eat out here eh!”
“I though you might like to learn how to ride a board today”.
“You mean surf … as in a surf board?”
“Yeah sure … it’ll be fun”.
Jason put the coffee on, roused Jerome from his slumber, made sure they all had breakfast, cleaned up then took them out back to the storage shed. “I have six surf boards in here, come take a look” he said and led them inside. “These longer ones are Mals, that’s short for Malibu or as we call them planks. They’re longer and wider which makes them easier to ride but not as quick to change direction. The shorter ones have more fins and are a lot more maneuverable. Um … well Jerome I think you should take this red mal it’s wider and longer and will be more stable for your height and size, it’s a 6’ 8”. Alex you probably should choose between these two the white striped one is wider but the green is longer.
“Which do you think is best?” Alex asked.
“Pretty even really but maybe the wider one is more stable for you”.
“Paul this one is my favourite board” said Jason pointing to a patterned blue and white board. “It’s not as easy to ride but I think it will suit you and is a lot more responsive”.
He led then down to the beach and with the boards facing away from beach towards the house demonstrated how to paddle onto a wave and push up to standing position. He got them to “dry run” several times and announced they were ready to surf.
The waves were a bit under a metre in height and reasonably good for beginners. Jason caught a wave to show how it was done then sat on his board watching them have their first turns at surfing. It took a while before anyone could stand up and surprisingly it was Jerome even though it was only for a short ride before he fell off. Next was Paul who was doing really well and started to weave his board. Alex with his aversion to most water sports took the most time to stand up but eventually managed to have the longest ride even though his body looked tense and awkward.
In the evening Alex prepared salads and a delicious barbeque of marinated steaks. He handed them drinks to have out on the porch and went back in to chop up some peaches and throw some strawberries in a blender then took his dessert of peaches with strawberry crush sauce out to them.
“Damn that is good” cussed Jerome.
They all agreed even Jason.
The evening breeze was just cool enough to make it pleasant to be outside. Jason lit two citronella candles to keep the mosquitos away and they lapsed into pleasant evening of conversation and cool drinks to the sound of the surf in the backround. Jason and Alex walked down to the sand and along the beach in the moonlight.
“So tell me the story behind the place” ventured Alex.
“It’s a bit vague but the land once belonged to a sand mining company and the house was built as the manager’s residence. Years after the sand mining was finished the company sold all its property here to someone I don’t know. The purchaser held onto this property, which is about 50 acres and gave away the rest of the land to add it onto the National Park. An agreement was made with the Government - so apparently this property can’t be touched by government or subdivided even though it is totally inside the boundaries of the park. Like I say I don’t know who owns it but I do know who manages it. Millie is a really nice old lady in town who used to run the best café. She practically raised me and is the person who has management control of the property. In a way it’s mine but I don’t own it. It’s an odd set up for sure but that’s the truth. Oh and no rent! Bills yes but rent no! I get an allowance to live here. It was too hard to live … well it’s better here ok.
“It’s your parents isn’t it” suggested Alex.
Jason looked away. He turned to look directly into Alex’s face. “I won’t lie to you Alex … it is”.
“You’ve never talked about it”.
Silence followed. “I don’t mind telling you but have no idea where to start”.
“We have all night”.
“Maybe later ok”.
“Yeah sure … but … the list of things not to talk about is starting to grow”.
“What do you mean?”
“The race, your parents, and I’d add us to that list. It’s like you cut the conversations short and don’t want to get into it”.
“Yep you do!”
“So what do you want to hear?”
“All of it”’
“Well where do I start?”
“Start with your parents, what’s that about”.
“Ok well … it’s not a good story …”
“… and …” prodded Alex.
“As far back as I can remember they just didn’t want me, like … ignoring me wasn’t so bad but it was a lot worse ok … if it wasn’t for Millie … I’d probably be locked up somewhere by now”.
“Is it painful?”
“Yeah, it is a bit!”
“So you don’t get on?”
Jason laughed. “That is an understatement. As far as my mother is concerned she has one son”.
“Is it that bad?”
“Yes, she loathes me”.
“Is there something you did?’
“Yeah … I was born”.
“You’ll meet them Saturday night at the surf club. Unavoidable really and they will stand out!”
“Ok change topic”.
“Thank heavens for that”.
“I don’t see what the fuss is about”.
“You gave up on your dream”.
“Maybe … but put it this way … what is the dream worth compared to making sure a friend is safe? I had the race won I know that, but, I saw Caine floating face down and knew he was in trouble. I’m a life saver Alex, I can’t ignore that. What would have expected me to do if it was YOU? I proved to myself I could win … and anyway I came 4th so it was a good result.
“Actually I would not have expected any less of you. You are the most amazing person I know. I don’t have your strength of character”.
“Pffft … you do!”
“You’d do anything as well … except …”
“Damn it Alex do I have to say everything?”
“If you want me to understand you do!”
“Love me … Alex, I want you to love me”.
Alex stopped abruptly, grabbed Jason’s arm and swung him around to face him.
“Do you? Then why aren’t we doing something about it!”
“I am head over heels in love with you Alex. I am crazy about you. I’d give anything to spend the rest of my life with you … but … I’m not so sure you love me enough to want me too”.
“It’s more complicated than that”.
“Not for me it’s not”.
“It is and you know it! … what about Paul!”
Jason shrugged his arm free and paced off along the beach “I want to be alone for a while” he spat.
Alex watched the angry retreat and felt a wrench inside his heart. It felt bad knowing you were hurting someone.