Wingnut had been training furiously for the upcoming cycle tour, and I'd been spending a bit of time with him cycling in the mornings. Puff, puff, puff. Took me forever to get the old bike back in shape. I hadn't used the damn thing for ages.
When Mark phoned on the Monday night, I told him about the cycle tour and how Wingnut was all excited about it. I also gave it to him in the neck about not phoning more often.
"Yeah, well maybe our friendship means more to me than you," I bitched.
"Oh, for fuck sake, Kyle, don't start now. OK?"
"You know what I hate? I hate that I can never contact you. What's happening about the fucking cell phone?"
"I haven't got one yet."
"So what's your number there?"
"I don't want people phoning me on this number."
"Why? You scared fingers is gonna hit on me or something?"
"I just don't want guys phoning me here, Kyle." And then: "Ah... fuck... I'm off."
"Wait for fuck sake!" I pleaded, knowing that I'd pushed him too far... again. "I'm sorry. What have you been up to?"
"Working my ass off over here. But it's cool. Went to a club in in Sandton with Candy on Saturday night."
"That's cool. Sounds like you're getting into the Joburg scene."
"Candy and I have a few friends, but during the week I work all day and night so we really only have weekends together."
"You really must stop that!" Mark demanded. "I almost called him fingers the other morning by mistake."
That cracked me up totally. "You still getting morning coffee in bed?"
"Yeah, he hangs around me whenever he's here."
"No ice in your boxers yet?"
"No shit, Sherlock. I think he knows what would happen if he tried that. He started wrestling with me the other morning. He's a strong fucker, too."
"Hope you were dressed."
"He started to tickle my ribs while he was massaging me. He wouldn't stop, so I got up and grabbed him. I was still in my boxers for fuck sake."
"Bet he enjoyed that."
"So fucking what? It was cool. It's almost like having a dad."
"'Cept your dad wouldn't get a boner when he fights with you."
"Hey, can we have a normal convo here? Just for a fucking change?"
"How can we have a normal convo when I'm not normal?"
"That's for fucking sure," was the pissed-off reply. Then he proceeded to give it to me. "What do you expect, Kyle? Huh? I phone you to have a convo and catch up on how it's going, but everything with you has something to do with sex. Oh, fuck, I've gotta go."
"Did he hear what you just said?"
"Was he just standing there listening to your convo?"
"Not sure... so I've gotta move. I'll phone later in the week."
"I'm missing you here. Love ya, bud."
"Same here. Cheers."
As I hung up, and stared at the silent phone, I was wishing I hadn't said some of the things I had. How fucking dumb. But there was a problem I couldn't control. Everytime I spoke to Mark on the phone, I'd feel depressed about his being so far away. Sure it was cool to hear his voice and everything, but I'd get a little bitchy, which would upset him. That was the last thing I wanted, but it just kinda happened. Damn!
Fortunately, I had plenty of things to keep me occupied, like helping the swim coach. Wingnut and Jason were still dissing each other at training, but at least a fight wasn't looming. If I'd been the coach, I'd have put those two grommets in the ring and let them sort it out once and for all. But that was my style, I guessed.
Nevertheless, there was no denying that I was missing Mark, big time. During the week, I eventually gave into temptation and phoned Mark's old work place in Cape Town. I asked them if they knew how I could get hold of him, and whammo!
As I punched in Mark's Joburg phone number, I knew I was taking a big risk, but just had to do it. I loved the guy, dammit. And I wanted to apologize for the stuff I'd said on the phone the other night.
After a couple of rings, some guy answered my call, then called for Mark.
"Kyle?" came the surprised answer. "How the fuck did you get this number?"
"I've got spies everywhere."
"No seriously... it's cool that you phoned, but who gave you the number?"
"Your old boss."
"OK, so you're not just a pretty face. Actually, you're not even a pretty face."
"Har-de-har. I'm sorry about the other night. I just miss you. And I won't call this number again. Promise. And I promise I won't talk about sex. I'll just jack off while I'm talking to you and you won't even know about it."
"Have you got any idea just how fucking disgusting you are?" But it was a huge relief to hear him laughing.
"Sorry. What's that? I can't hear you."
"'Cause you're not concentrating."
"OK, so seriously," I asked, "how's it going?"
"It's actually going pretty rad. The work is good. I finish up late at night covered in dirt... and the best part is having a shower, then just chilling with a beer before turning in. I've lost some weight 'cause of the heat in the warehouse."
"Warehouse? I thought it was like on some farm place."
"Not quite a warehouse. More like a huge shed covering the boat. It's gotta be broken down into pieces to get the damn thing outa here when it's finished."
"So you're getting all skinny now?"
"Nope. Actually, I've buffed up. But I've lost any extra weight I might've had."
Extra weight? Yeah, right. Mark had always been lean and mean... fucking perfect... and I couldn't help visualizing his awesome bod as we spoke. "You had no extra weight. You were all muscle."
"Well, even I can see that I'm more cut now. The work here is helluva physical, but it's really, really cool. I wish you would make a plan and come up here for a short while, Kyle, if you can get some time off or something. You'll be pretty impressed with this yacht."
"Yeah... 'cause they've got a good guy working on it." I felt like saying that the yacht wouldn't be the only thing I'd be impressed with... but I managed to bite my tongue.
"Yeah, well, you always did work hard."
"How're things there with you?"
"I'm coaching the junior swimmers at school."
"That's pretty cool. And the shop?"
"Yeah, well, I'm picking up some hassles with some of the guys 'cause they fuck around and I just keep on working, so they think I'm ass creeping."
"Fuck them. Just do your thing."
"I am. Got a buddy there, Graham, who's pretty cool. Likes to jack around though, but he does do some work."
"Don't even talk about that. My manager hasn't even been [SCUBA] diving in ages now, and he's talking about going to Thailand or some fucking place with his family, and they're gonna be doing some diving there. How are things with Candy?"
"We're very good friends and lovers, but we're not committing ourselves to anything. She's pretty much a career person. Also works late. But we get along really well, and we're always hanging to see each other on weekends. You'll like her. How are your folks and Steph?"
"Folks are cool. My dad gave me a hard time about my drinking the other night but I think he was aggro about something... just a downer mood. He told me I'm a bad influence on Wingnut."
"Wingnut's a lighty, man. He can be such a toss sometimes. Hey, if it weren't for you, he'd be a fucking crackhead by now."
"He's a cool lighty... just needs someone to talk to. I think his folks are helluva straight, and don't discuss anything with him."
"So now you're his dad? C'mon, Kyle."
"Hey, you know what Wingnut's like, and how he looks up to me. I like to be there for him."
"Yeah? Next thing he's gonna be getting you to check his homework instead of his folks doing it."
"Yeah, right." Oops! I figured Mark would gimme a hard time if I admitted that I was already helping the grommet with his school work, so I didn't volunteer any more info on that touchy subject.
"And how's it going with Steph?" my fav voice continued. "Still putting a smile on her face?"
"Yeah," I laughed. "Steph's rad. She misses you, though."
"She said that?"
"She misses the old times, I think... all of us hanging together."
"She and Carol still an item?"
"Yeah, they still hang together, but Carol does her own thing on weekends. She's got a real cunt of a boyfriend."
"Yeah... you said. Shane's OK, though."
"Listen, I'm gonna have to hang up. This call is gonna cost. I've really enjoyed this convo."
"Me too, man. Thanks for phoning."
"Is it cool if I phone you again some time?"
"Hey, you've got the number now, so...... Just remember I work late, though. So it might be best for me to call you, else your folks are gonna end up with one helluva bill."
"See ya, Kyle. Bye."
How fucking cool was that? He wasn't mad at me for getting his number. Woohoo! And he actually said he loved me!
I was on a high after such a cool convo with my best bud, and to hear his awesome voice, so I went to Wipeout where I met up with Ross and had a couple of beers. He was also on his own. It was just a laidback evening. Well, I would've laid back for Ross if he'd asked. :-) Nah. Just joking. We rapped about all sorts of shit. A couple of other guys from school were also there, playing pool. Anyway, it was great to have Ross's company. It was just what I needed right then. A friendly face to fill the void - or at least part of it - that Mark had left behind. I guessed I was pretty lucky to have the friends I did.
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