The Year We Grew Up – Chapter Eighteen.

Using People.

We wanted to go out and do something on Saturday, go somewhere, do something different with some friends, just to get away, escape if you like, from everything that had been going on. Zack said he could call Tom and I thought that was a good idea, “Let’s see what he’s doing,” I said, “maybe he wants to come round.”

“Yeah, let’s see, we could just hang out together,” Zack replied, “or he might even come up with something to do, something to take our mind off things.”

A lot of stuff had happened recently, some good like me meeting Zack, some not so good, my dad’s accident and Josh. I liked Tom and so did Zack, he was new, fun to be with and without bagage. You know what I mean by that, he didn’t make any demands and there was no history there. I admit that at first I was caught off balance when Zack said we could sleep together, the three of us, but it worked out, for now anyway, and why wouldn’t it carry on like that?

Perhaps you could look at this relationship as if we were using him, but it wasn’t at all like that, we had become friends, we hadn’t seen too much of Tom, but like I already said, a lot of stuff has been going on.

He told Zack that he would come over and he was really pleased we’d called. You see, it was always us, not he was pleased Zack called or it could have been me, no whenever I had talked to Tom it was like he looked at Zack and me as one entity, one person. It was so cool, because there was no jealousy, no idea of a third person fracturing our relationship, he wanted to be with both of us and we liked being with him.

It was around 2 o’clock when he showed up and we had just finished eating, I was doing the dishes. We sat down, Zack and Tom on the bed, and me taking the big floor cushion after I’d put away the last plate. The light shone through the tiny velux falling on the top of his head, looking at Tom sitting there next to Zack, his blond hair and smile, just his way of being is so… so ephemeral, as if he floats through life without a care in the world.

We were drinking coffee and just talking about this and that when Zack came up with the idea of going for a sauna. Now that was quite appealing to me, the idea of total relaxation, not to mention being naked together, which is also very appealing. Tom though, immediately asked, “Is it a gay sauna?”

“Does it matter?” Zack replied.

“Yeah,” I added, “I’ve never been to a gay sauna.”

“Well…” Tom was hesitant, looked like he didn’t know what to say. “The only problem is, they’re very strict about letting you in.”

“Uh, so?” Zack asked.

“You’ve been before then Tom?” I thought he must of if he knew they had a strict entrance policy.

“Not exactly,” he was looking sort of sheepish. “I mean… yes, I went once, but they didn’t let me in.”

I guess both Zack and I were a bit slow on picking up the clues about what Tom was trying to say.

“Oh listen,” he finally spilled the beans, “I went once and they check your ID and I’m not 18.”

“Your not 18,” I repeated, surprised, though thinking about it I shouldn’t have been, but when we met Tom I just assumed.

“They let you in the club,” Zack said, “without any problem.”

“That’s different,” Tom was fidgeting on the bed next to Zack.

“Why’s it different?” Zack asked him.

“I don’t know,” he replied, “it just is. They never asked for ID and now they know me coz I go there often.”

“So how old are you?” I was thinking he can’t be too young, but you know when I met Lucas the other day I thought that him and Tom could easily be about the same age, and it seems I was pretty close to the truth there.

“I’ll be 17 at the end of next month,” Tom said, looking first at me then at Zack. I got the impression he thought we might be annoyed, kick him out or something, he looked a bit worried. That’s normal, because although he hadn’t lied about his age he’d never actually told us either. Still that’s no different to what I’d been doing for years by never coming out and saying I was gay, exactly the same, not lying about it just not telling.

“OK,” Zack said, Tom looked over at him. “Nevermind, we can go to the sauna at the sports hall…” he paused, Tom looked relieved. Then Zack smiled and ruffled Tom’s hair, “But you’ll have to wear a towel!”

I laughed, “We’ll have to wait till later to see you naked.” I added, and now we were all laughing.

Finally, Zack said, “It’s no big deal, 16 or 17, whatever, now we know.”

* * * * * *

The sauna was hot, well it’s meant to be, Tom kept throwing water on the coals, filling the cabin full of steam. We actually had it all to ourselves. There was one other guy of about 30 something who was already in the cabin when we arrived, but after about 10 minutes or so he got up and went out, he didn’t come back.

When Tom had finished playing about, well when Zack threatened to treat him like a naughty boy if he continued to act like a child, then the three of us could sit back and relax in the steamy heat. Of course Zack was joking and Tom found that amusing, I think he was tempted to play along, but I told them to ‘cool it’, pretty funny thing to say in a sauna.

After a period of silence, that was one of the things I liked about being with Zack and Tom, we could joke around, talk, and we could be silent, it didn’t matter at all, we enjoyed each others company. Tom asked about Josh and I told him briefly, skipping all the details, that he’d left to find some peace with his cousin and was staying at his guest house in Ireland.

Tom had a weird look on his face, that is from what I could see through the steam, although the steam was thinning out it was very foggy.

“I want to tell you guys something about Josh, but I don’t know how,” he started.

Zack glanced at me with a puzzled look and I looked back kind of blankly. “You only met him once,” I said.

“Yeah, I know,” Tom replied, “at the club. Thing is… I’m sure I saw him in a vid, online.”

“What do you mean, you saw him online?” I was curious about how Tom could have seen a video of Josh online. Josh wasn’t into the social media stuff, he wasn’t a person who posted his life online, he was way too private for that.

“Don’t please take this the wrong way,” he said shifting about on the wooden bench. Whenever Tom was nervous he couldn’t keep from fidgeting. “I’m more or less sure I saw Josh in a porn video posted on PornTube.”

If he wasn’t talking about Josh I could have made a big joke out of Tom looking at online porn, but it was a bit too serious. “How could you be sure it was Josh?” I asked, Zack was totally silent.

“I can’t be, but it sure as hell looked like him,” he added.

“No Tom, you only met Josh that one evening you wouldn’t be able to recognise him, not for certain, not after one meeting,” I told Tom that, but I’m not sure I believed myself. It was like he’d sown a seed in my brain and despite not understanding, maybe not wanting to understand, the seed was growing.

“I shouldn’t have said anything,” he continued.

“About what,” I replied. “Watching porn online or thinking you saw Josh?”

It wasn’t really a question and I regretted saying it like that, I was attacking Tom because he’d made me worried about Josh. I remembered how previously I’d thought there was more to Josh’s disappearance than what happened between him and Adam, but I never thought it might be anything like this.

“I’m sorry Tom,” I said. I could see he looked hurt, a bit like I’d hit him. “I shouldn’t be blaming you, I’m sorry.”

Zack put an arm round Tom’s shoulder. “It’s good you told us,” he said to Tom. “Mikey and Josh are best friends, you have to forgive him, it’s just because he’s worried about his best friend and what might have happened to make him go away.”

Tom nodded and tried a half smile. Zack still with his arm around him, got up. “Let’s get out of here,” he said. “Maybe you can help throw some light on things. Would you do that Tom… Help us. Show us the video?”

Tom cheered up, he was back to being his usual self. “Sure,” he replied. “If I can help, of course.”

* * * * * *

Back at the attic Zack gave his tablet to Tom and asked him if he could try to find the video. Tom had been eager to help before, but now he seemed hesitant and I was wondering why.

“Look Tom,” Zack said. “We all look at porno, jeez, I used to get off on watching porn, especially when I was younger, but even now. So just do a search, really we’re all the same, don’t worry, no embarrassment.”

Tom started his search which he admited would have been quicker if he had noted down the video title and not just the website. Anyway, it wasn’t that long when he looked up and announced: “That’s it, I got it!”

Zack and I squeezed in next to him, one each side, on the bed. “Put it on full screen” Zack told him. We peered in at the screen as the video started. There was no sound, no talking, and you couldn’t at first see who either of the two guys were. We watched attentively, but as there were no face shots and we were 3 minutes in, I started to question how Tom could have recognised Josh.

“It’s coming up now,” Tom said. We paid attention to the image on the little screen, I mean even full screen it’s not that big, plus it wasn’t HD, so not that clear. One guy was on his knees on the bed facing away, the other guy was putting on a condom. There was a cut and the guy was standing behind the one on the bed. He placed his cock next to the guy’s ass, the camera zoomed in to a close up, then back to a wide shot, and that was it the guy kneeling on the bed turned his head to look at the other guy.

“Pause it! Pause it!” Zack said, but the scene had moved on, the guy who was about to fuck the other one smacked him several times on the ass. Tom paused, but it was too late.

“Take it back,” Zack urged.

“Yeah, you need to stop it when he turns his head,” I added.

It took several replays before he managed to pause with a view of the guy’s face. “You see, see,” Tom said, “it’s Josh.”

“I don’t know, it could be, it’s not that clear,” I replied.

“Make it bigger,” Zack said.

“I can’t,” Tom replied, “it’s not a picture, you can’t zoom it and anyway it’d just blur.”

It was frustrating, because it looked like Josh, but it’s just a couple of seconds on a video, it could easily be just someone who resembled him.

“There’s more,” Tom said, “you see his face again later.”

“OK,” Zack replied, “play it through, because really that could be anyone if you ask me.”

So we watched the next minute and half of the guy fucking the other guy and yes he turned his head to look behind, but it was still difficult to identify if it was Josh or not, even if Tom was convinced.

We were getting near the end of the video when Zack shouted, ” Stop, stop, there!”

Tom paused again, but he hit the pause on a close up of the guy being fucked. “Too late,” Zack told Tom. “Just before the camera moves around a bit to the side, before the zoom, you can see the other guy reflected in the mirror by the side of the bed.

Again after several failed attempts Tom managed a pause on the mirror shot. Zack said, “That looks like Adam.”

“Whose Adam,” Tom asked.

“They shared my old apartment, Josh and Adam.”

next – it’s all about Adam…

Chapter Nineteen – If You Can Talk It’s Good