It was such a fucking relief when the school exams were finally over… like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
"Hey," Kyle observed, "you're all chatty this morning."
"Carol and I got all sweaty on Saturday night."
"Is that the only reason?"
"Not really. When I put my pen down after that last science paper, I felt like I'd just been released from fucking hell."
"Hey, you wanna come with me to my house after school, then to yours? We can get changed and have a few beers at the local."
"There's no surf. I've already checked with one of the guys."
"You wanna argue with me?"
I was right. The pub was just across the road from the beach, and a convenient hangout for surfers. The joint was packed with guys and chicks getting wet on the inside instead of on the outside. It was a totally cool atmos, though. There was something about surfers that made you chill. I guessed it was 'cause of the lack of aggro… they all had something in common… surf. But, unlike other sports, such as football, there was no squabbling about which team was better than another. The ocean belonged to everybody. There was a camaraderie about surfers that was unique. It brought generations and cultures together like no other activity. On the other hand, I was conscious of my not being one of them, and of getting the odd stare.
Kyle and I took our beers to the verandah overlooking the beach, and found a spare table. "I guess surfers can tell when another guy's not a surfer, huh?"
"Don't get me wrong, Kyle, I'm not schizo, but I've noticed people looking at me."
"Tell me about it! You're one helluva head-turner, dude."
"Mark, get real. They're gawking at you 'cause… jeez! You walk in here with your t hanging loose over your jeans, and your pecs are showing 'cause the cotton's all stretched and clinging. I mean, what the fuck do you expect?"
"I'm the only dude here with pecs? C'mon, Kyle."
"It's also your face, Mark. You're helluva good looking."
Fortunately, the beer eventually drowned any self-conscious feelings I'd had about being on show. I'd never been comfortable with attention from strangers. Kyle's convo also helped. It was obvious that he was feeling the same kinda elation I was. No more exams! Woohoo!
What exactly we'd talked about, I couldn't remember, except that it was a rave convo, and we were laughing a helluva lot. We hadn't realized just how much beer we'd downed, but we were aware of the fact that we were eventually acting a bit stupid.
"Hey, man, time to hit the road. I'm feeling trashed."
I walked Kyle to his place but declined to stay, especially when I saw Wingnut hop the fence. I had to laugh. That kid must've been hanging all afternoon for Kyle to arrive home, but he was gonna be disappointed. Like me, all Kyle wanted to do was hit the hay. In my case, I didn't wake until next morning.
We were allowed to wear our civies to school that day, mainly 'cause a bunch of us had planned a hike up the mountain. We walked up to a place called Cave Peak, then went potholing. Kyle took an unusual interest in an area where a small stream formed a fairly large pool before it continued down the mountain. "I was a little Kyle when my dad first brought me here," he explained. "It was my first trip up the mountain, and my dad was telling me that it was a pixie river, and that, at night, the pixies would come out and dance under the trees here. Jeez, folks can lie," he laughed, "but it's something I'll always remember. It was my mom and dad that first got me interested in my mountain."
"Yeah. That's how I feel about it. My mountain. Paul and I used to come up here a stack. It was our special place."
"Cool." Actually, I felt quite honored that Kyle had shared his boyhood secret with me.
For a lotta the guys from school, it was their first trip up the mountain, and they couldn't believe just how fantastic the panoramic view over Cape Town was, or how the smell of everything was just so damn fresh and unpolluted. Carol and I had been on walks, but had never ventured up this far. It was an awesome experience for me, too. But there was more to come.
Kyle took me and a couple of other guys into a cave called Boomslang, which, when translated, was Tree Snake. Inside, there was a large, central cavern, with a whole lotta circular tunnels that began and ended in the cavern. After the other guys had wandered off to investigate one of the tunnels, Kyle asked me if I wanted to get naked, so that we could act like cavemen. My reply not only surprised him, it also surprised me!
"Yeah, then we can go down one of the tunnels, and you can blow me."
"Huh?" His eyebrows disappeared under the hair tumbling over his forehead.
"Stop getting a fucking boner." My voice reverberated around the cavern, and sounded kinda spooky. "I was joking."
"Not much… check your tent."
He was right. I also had a boner. "It's 'cause I need to piss, Kyle. Stop getting fucking ideas."
"Yeah, well, when you're serious, lemme know, and you can do me too."
I cracked up totally. "Fuck you!" At the same time, I was mindful of how my reaction to a comment like that would've been in the early days of our friendship. I would've rearranged his face without a second thought.
"Hey," he continued as he studied the bare, stone walls of the cavern, and its apparent isolation from the real world we'd left behind only minutes ago, "just imagine, though, that it was just you and me up here, and there was nobody else on the planet."
"I'd run and hide, Kyle," I grinned. "And so would all the damn dinosaurs and monkeys. Mind you, the damn monkeys would probably relate."
At that moment, the other guys emerged from their tunnel expedition, and we all went back outside where we stood for a while in the intense heat to gaze at the surf far below."That's where I'd like to be right now," I said. "It's so damn hot up here."
"It's total slop. Wind's blowing the wrong way. Are you disappointed to be up here?"
"Nope. Actually, it's fucking wicked. Not like I thought. It's a whole new world."
For the next ten minutes or so, Kyle answered all my questions about the mountain, the pools, the scenery, and where we'd be going when we came back up here for the main hiking/camping trip with the guys from the swim team. The more he talked, the more enthusiastic I became, and the more I realized why he called Table Mountain his mountain. It was a part of his very being. If you wanted to know where Kyle was coming from, you had to understand two things: the mountain, and the surf. But that still didn't explain where I fitted in. Why me?
"Hey, have you heard the latest about Steve?" I asked as we headed back down the mountain. "He's going with a new chick."
"He's always going with a new chick."
"This one's different. She's a real bitch… a nympho. Carol knows about her, and she told me. Half the school's been through her."
"I obviously belong to the other half."
"Likewise. Anyway, she's not happy unless she's on her back, and controlling the guy. Steve met her on Friday night when we were clubbing, and that damn bitch got right into his pants, straight up."
"I don't blame her."
"I mean, he's a hunk, and he's fucked just about everything in town." It occurred to me that Kyle may have been including in 'everything', but I kept my mouth shut, and let him continue. "The only prob is, I hope Steve doesn't get involved like he did with his ex, 'cause she ran his fucking life for him. His prob is, as long as she'll let him fuck her, he'll probably stay with her."
"Does that bother you?"
"Not really," he shrugged, but I sensed that he was evading the question.
Next afternoon at home, I was thinking about Kyle and what he'd said at the pub about my pecs and my face. I wasn't unaware of my looks or physique. Hey, I had eyes. It's just that I wasn’t used to parading them… except for that one time when I did the strip thing with the swim team for the girls, but that was basically 'cause I wanted to be accepted by the guys.
So people really did like the way I looked? I thought to myself as I studied my bod in the mirror. To hell with it, I'd rock over to Kyle's place shirtless. People could gawk if they wanted to. Besides, if they came on to me, or invaded my space, I could always punch their fucking lights out.
On the way, I kept my eyes straight ahead, as if I were oblivious to other people. They weren't oblivious to me, though. I could feel their eyes burning holes in my sweating skin. On the one hand, the attention made me feel uncomfortable. On the other, it appealed to my ego. I wasn't just any dude walking down the street. I was Mark. Yeah, it felt kinda cool to be noticed, so long as they kept their fucking distance.
I shouldn't really have been surprised when it was Wingnut's grinning face that greeted me at Kyle's front door. The kid was dripping wet, and wrapped in a towel. "Hey, Mark! Cool! Kyle and me are having a swim. C'mon in!"
As I walked through the back door, the grommet yelled to Kyle, "It's only Mark," then ditched the towel and dove in the pool.
"Thanks for the fucking compliment, Wingnut. You guys naked?" I'd noticed that Kyle also had a towel wrapped around his waist.
"No, dork," he grinned, "I'm wearing my skin-colored Speedos." Then my bud dropped his towel, which became a crumpled heap around his ankles. "So if you don't mind us seeing your winky, you can get naked as well."
Hey, I was outnumbered! Besides, what choice did I have? Leave my shorts on and be called a wuss? Or get naked like they were? As I dropped my shorts, I thought about how much I'd changed since knowing Kyle. He was definitely the most uninhibited dude I'd ever met, and his inhibition was always accompanied by a broad, mischievous grin. Not so long ago, I would've creamed the dude if he'd asked me to drop my shorts. Then I would've been outa there like a shot. But now?
Anyway, it was a wicked afternoon. Most of the time, we just lazed in the sun on the lawn, and chatted about shit. At one stage, Wingnut volunteered to rub suntan lotion on our backs. It relaxed me so much, I thought I was gonna doze off. So I rolled over, leaned back on my elbows and let him rub it all over my chest and contracted abs which, I had to admit, were standing out like hotcross buns.
The kid seemed to be in total awe of my bod as his hand smoothed the oil over my tanned skin. And he wasn't the only one. Kyle was making no secret of the fact that he was gawking big time. Maybe I was just being big headed, or maybe it was wishful thinking, but I couldn't shake the feeling that those guys, and particularly Kyle, thought I was some kinda god. And the way they were ogling my semi, they must've thought I had a dick to match.
I had to smile to myself when Kyle rolled onto his stomach. He tried to make it appear as though he was casually changing positions, but I knew it was an attempt to hide his boner. Fact was, I had to wish mine away, too. Normally, it wouldn't have been a major prob, but the grommet was there.
Was I proud? Yeah, I was proud. It was impossible not to feel pumped up when a couple of hunkies were giving you their undivided attention, and treating you like you were something totally special. Not even Carol could make me feel that damn good, or that damn important. It was a guy thing.
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