With winter coming on, I was back into boxing training in the gym before school each day, and Kyle was there with me, sparring in the ring. He was a tough little bugger… no match for me, but I had to admire his persistence. In the showers, I asked him why he was such a sucker for punishment.
"I like looking at your bod."
"Fuck off, Kyle. Be serious."
"I am serious. Anyway, you're my bud."
"Are you saying that you wouldn't spar with anyone else?"
"I don't know anyone else who boxes."
"If you did."
"But I don't."
"So you're here because I'm here."
The thing I couldn't understand about that spiky-haired dude was why he wanted to hang with me as though his fucking life depended on it. All his other friends, like Wingnut, Steve, and Steph hung around him. He didn't seem to go out of his way for them like he did for me. It was almost like he felt some kinda responsibility toward me… as if he sensed that I needed him.
The weekend was cool. Friday night, Kyle, Steph, Carol and I played pool at Stones, and we pretty much behaved ourselves. Carol had talked me into giving Corners a miss for a while… she didn't want me getting into more shit with those larnie school friends of Steve's. Besides, my face was still looking kinda messed up after the beating, but it was getting better.
Saturday night, Carol and I went to Kyle's place for a barbecue. His folks had invited some of their friends, so I guessed Kyle didn't wanna be the only teen amongst a bunch of adults. Steph was there, of course, and so was Steve, but this time without a girl. Wingnut had taken Candy to the movies.
I'd always liked Kyle's folks, and had become even closer to them after the trip up the Garden Route for the school hols. They were almost like family, and treated me like a son. It was a totally different feeling to being at home, or even at Carol's place. I felt a genuine warmth and sense of belonging when I was at Kyle's… surrounded by lots of friendly faces and smiles. It was kinda weird to think that I felt more at home when I was at Kyle's than anywhere else.
On the walk home from school on Monday, Kyle was sneezing so much, he was driving me fucking insane. "Will you shut the fuck up? It's like you're allergic to something."
"Yeah… I'm allergic to your deo. That Brut stuff gets right up my damn nose."
If he hadn't looked so damn shitty, I probably would've thumped the cheeky fucker. Anyway, he wasn't at school the next day, so I figured he must've been sick. When he didn't show again on the Wednesday, I thought I'd better give him a call after school.
"You don't sound too good, buddy."
"Being sick is the total fucking pits! I don’t think I've ever felt like this! When I got home on Monday, I thought my damn head was gonna fall off."
"Could be an improvement."
"Shuddup. Anyway, when I started doing my homework, my damn nose was running like a damn faucet, and still is. And it feels as tender as anything 'cause of all the blowing. Not that kinda blowing. I have to use toilet paper now 'cause I just blow holes through the soft tissues."
"Spare me the fucking details, Kyle."
"And I can't handle carrying a snot-filled, cotton hankie in my pocket…"
"… 'cause you always end up putting your hand on the slimy bits when you take it out."
"Jesus! Anyway, I called in case you wanted me to rock around with the latest homework from school."
"That'd be cool, Mark. Thanks a stack. I was starting to worry about how the fuck I was gonna catch up."
It was way cool to see my bud again, even though he was looking pretty crappy. I spent two hours with him in his room just going through the lessons he'd missed. We talked about school and shit.
"You're in a wicked mood tonight, Mark."
"Yeah… must be 'cause you're glad to see me."
"I think you're the one who's glad to see me, dude. Your leg's been rubbing against mine all fucking night."
"I can't help it if I've got a small desk. Anyway, I've been reading some totally cool books. I've just finished reading Clive Cussler's The Serpent, and now I'm reading The Testament by John Grisham. I read The Bretheren before that. Wicked story. You read it?"
"You don't seem the type to read books."
"I dunno. You're too much of a damn rebel. And you're hardly ever outa the fucking water."
"They haven't invented waterproof books yet. Anyway, there's nothing much else to do when you've got the fucking flu. I still find time to jack off, though," he grinned.
"You've got no fucking shame, Kyle. No fucking shame."
I was back in Kyle's room the next night with more notes from class, plus an assignment that had to be done by the following Monday. I was wearing my jeans again, and a loose-fitting sweat top. "What are you gawking at?"
"Nothing. It's just that you could wear a fucking sack and still look hot."
"Don't you ever think about anything else?"
"Not when you're around. You don't seem to realize..."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Cut the fucking crap. I guess you're grounded tomorrow night."
"There's no way my folks will allow me out after being off school."
"I guessed that."
"So what are you guys gonna do?"
"Not sure… maybe take Carol to a movie or something."
"Ah, fuck, man! What movie?"
"There's a cool Gladiator movie starting tomorrow."
"I saw that advertised… fuck, I wanna see that!"
"So maybe Carol and I can go see something else… and, on Saturday night, we can all go see Gladiator."
"Have you heard the joke about some guy who ate out a chick's pussy and said he was glad 'e ate 'er?"
"Jeez, Kyle, you are sooooo fucking gross!"
"Anyway, check with Carol first 'cause I'm still feeling like shit… and I know my folks. They won't let me go if I'm not hundreds."
I couldn't help laughing at Kyle's comments, as well as the look on his crazy face.
"What's so funny?"
"You and the relationship you have with your folks, man."
"Well, I know a lotta guys who'd cock their folks, and fuck off to wherever without getting their folks' OK."
"Yeah, well, maybe I'm just a wuss."
"That's not what I mean, Kyle. I think you have a good thing going with your folks. It's just that so many guys show their folks no respect, and don't give a shit whether they upset them or not. I think it's pretty cool that you still give them an ear."
"You and your mom are cool, though."
"Yeah… but she wouldn't give a shit if I went out every single night… even if I was sick and off school."
"Maybe it's just 'cause she doesn't like upsetting you. You and your damn short fuse."
"Maybe. You seen Steph?"
"Nope. She's been phoning, though. I think she's horny. Maybe I should send Wingnut over there."
"Fuck, Kyle," I laughed. "You treat it like a joke now, but that little guy is gonna turn fifteen or sixteen one of these days, and he's gonna steal any girl you're with."
"Of course! He's good looking, and you're ugly, dude."
"That's why I hang with you… two ugly guys together."
"That's spelt H U N K Y, right? Me, that is. You should get a job as a circus clown, Kyle. They could save money on the red nose."
"Don't joke! My nose is fucking tender!"
I surprised myself when I'd spelled out the word 'hunky'. It wasn't something I would've normally said about myself, but, dammit, Kyle was always making such a fucking fuss of me and my bod, that it kinda slipped out. Anyway, it was kinda cool to be admired, especially by another guy. Well, one guy. I was pretty sure that if any other dude paid the same kinda attention to me as Kyle did, he'd be on the receiving end of a flurry of fists. But Kyle was different. Very different.
It wasn't just that Kyle liked me, it was that he had the courage to admit it... and how!... which was something most guys, including me, had a lotta difficulty with putting into words, or even contemplating, for that matter.
After we'd finished with homework, I chatted with Kyle's dad for quite a while about fishing. He was telling me about the fish the local guys had been catching off the rocks. Kyle's dad was the coolest guy, and it was obvious to me why Kyle had so much respect for him, and didn't wanna go against his wishes.
"I've never been surf fishing before."
"I'll give you a shout next time I go down, Mark. If you're up to it, you can come along. It'll be a Friday or Saturday night, though."
"Oh… well, I kinda hang with Carol on weekends. I don’t think she'd be too impressed if I went fishing. And I don't think she'd wanna sit on the beach while I was fishing at night."
"Yep," he smiled. "That's something that wives and girlfriends have in common. Well, maybe one weekend when Carol's away with her folks or something. And if we catch anything, I'll leave the cooking to you. You did such a damn fine job when we were on holidays. Delicious!"
In many ways, Kyle's dad was like an older version of my bud, and, on the walk home, I wondered if Kyle and I would still be friends in years to come. I figured a guy would have to be damn lucky to have a bud like Kyle all through life… someone who knew you inside out… someone who knew all your faults but liked you anyway. There were things that you could share with your best bud that you couldn't share with your girl… or maybe your wife, like Kyle's dad had said about the fishing, and wives and girlfriends. It seemed to me that life wasn't complete without a best bud, and I wondered if Kyle's dad had one. Kyle had mentioned a few times that his dad had a friend he'd go fishing with. Were they best buds? Kyle hadn't elaborated, so maybe they weren't. Maybe the kinda relationship that Kyle and I had was rare. Maybe Kyle was rare. Yep, that had to be it. He was fucking unique, and I was lucky enough to have found him.
I knew that Kyle would be totally pissed off on Friday night about having to stay home, so Carol and I popped in to his house for a few before we went to the movies, just to let him know that we were thinking about him. I told him that we'd save the Gladiator movie until he was better, and that we could all go see it together.
"You wouldn't have done that for anyone else," Carol said as we walked down the street.
"That's 'cause he isn't anyone else."
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