NEW BLOKE (1)
The bloke at the end of the bench was new.
Adam recognized him.
His name was Thomas Siedentrop. Even Adam had heard about the winning goals he’d scored in two grand finals. His team, called officially Roundbush after the upper-class suburb where it had been founded a hundred years before, but popularly known as Archbishops after the ecclesiastical palace in its middle, had consequently become the winners for the second grand final in a row. And the great Thomas had secured the victory both times. He was married to a beutiful model, lived in a Toorak mansion, and was frequently seen on the party circuit.
He was drop-dead gorgeous.
The gym changing-room was usually empty at this time, midway between lunch and the five o’clock rush. That’s why Adam came then – because there were no crowds and no long waits for the equipment. The mornings, when it was almost as deserted, weren’t so suitable, for he often had meetings with clients or colleagues. The mid-afternoon visit to the gym had become an essential part of his day.
Because there were so few clients then, they came to recognize each other, and the strict gym etiquette, ‘Don’t look, don’t talk’ was by tacit mutual consent relaxed. They didn’t go beyond a smile and a “G’day”, on the whole, but there was a camaraderie, a shared mateyness in the face of the need to push themselves a little further each day in the struggle against sag and flab.
Adam didn’t know which position Siedentrop played because he knew almost nothing about footy. He followed it fitfully, only for the men – they were dazzling, satisfyingly muscled, fat-free, handsome. He used to daydream about thick tree-trunk thighs wrapped around his waist, of chiselled arms slung around his shoulders. He liked the Aussie Rules football gear – snug, tiny shorts, much more revealing than the baggy bloomers worn by soccer players; and sleeveless tunics, which allowed the play of shoulder muscles and biceps to be admired. And footy players somehow seemed more human than the sort of guys who played rugby, though rugby players had nice shorts too. It didn’t bother him that rugby fans from the northern states think footy is effete or that northern and southern states unite in their contempt for soccer, fit only for wogs. He wasn’t interested in it for the sport.
But footy is Melbourne’s religion, and Adam was glad. It was acceptable, even de rigueur, to stare at the photos in the sports pages. Everyone assumed it was because you were interested in the sport, and a more clandestine interest could be concealed. Adam had no illusions – he knew that footy players were all straight. But then, sports homophobia being what it was, it was unlikely even if they weren’t that any footy player would ever come out. All that macho strutting in the locker-room wouldn’t have survived it – not to mention the lucrative sponsorship agreements.
Adam decided to pay absolutely no attention to the newcomer. He was determined not to be a groupie, wetting his knickers because he was in the presence of someone famous and good-looking. Anyway, this way he himself couldn’t be slighted. He was quite sure that someone as beautiful and illustrious and rich as Thomas Siedentrop wouldn’t even notice someone as unfashionable and ordinary and plain as himself. Averting his eyes, he left the change room and went through to the weights room.
He and Tom finished about the same time, and again Adam resolutely ignored the other man. This was part of the etiquette anyway – a newcomer was left alone for two or three weeks until familiarity allowed a brief manly nod. Adam was not going to make the first move. So he was surprised when Siedentrop, as he stripped off his soaked t-shirt, asked him how his workout had gone. For a moment Adam wasn’t sure that he was being addressed, as the other man was looking straight ahead at the wall.
Despite Adam’s determination not to be taken in by the glamor, his mouth was a little dry when he answered, and he smiled too broadly. Hating himself, he quickly looked down.
“Tom Siedentrop.” The hand appeared under Adam’s face, and couldn’t be ignored without offence.
“Adam Hopkinson. Pleased to meet you.” He sneaked a look at Tom’s body, the almost girlish waist, the vee of sculpted muscles flowing down into his shorts, the furred thickness of his thighs and calves. He didn’t look him in the eyes, afraid of blushing, fearing also that Tom would see what he was and stop being nice to him. By reflex, he scanned his own body. He was in the presence of a god, and he was very conscious that he had at least four inches too much on his own stomach.
Ignoring each other after their introduction, except for a quiet ‘see ya later’, they went back to their offices and their jobs.
That night, Adam went without supper, having decided to lose five kilos, and woke with a low-blood-sugar headache in the morning. Old Foss, his ginger Burmese cross, didn’t help by deciding to lie on his head at five a.m. and purr loudly, kneading his scalp, until he got up to feed her. Two panadols and two coffees later, he felt better, but only scrambled eggs on thickly buttered toast from ‘Il Giardino’ restored his equilibrium. He didn’t know why he had breakfast there – ‘Violet’, the owner, was an old queen who was nice enough, but always asked for details of his love life in a carrying voice which worsened headaches, and made everyone in the café a party to any shared confidences.
“Leave me alone, Vi,” he muttered, nursing his pounding head, wondering whether his liver would stand another two panadols. Of course, as usual, there was nobody in his life. Might as well be a frigging virgin, he thought bitterly, at least then I wouldn’t know what I was missing.
When it was his usual time to go to the gym, he hesitated before setting off, debating with himself whether he shouldn’t start going at another time. He recognized only too well the danger he was in, with the thinking part of his mind, but when Tom wasn’t at the gym he was disappointed, and was forced to smile ruefully at his contrariness.
On the Friday, Tom and Adam were the only two clients in the gym. Tom was talking to one of the instructors who was smiling and voluble. They were probably discussing footy. Adam thought that Tom looked a little edgy, as if he wanted to escape, but was too polite. Adam avoided them both and went to do his sit-ups, twice as many as usual, without visible effect on his stomach.
A little later, while he was working on his triceps, he heard a voice just behind him. “You’re doing it wrong. Here, let me show you.” And a warm tanned hand grabbed each of his elbows, and pressed them closer to his sides. “If you hold them too far out, it doesn’t work the right muscles.” Tom was right behind him. Adam could feel the warmth radiating from his body.
He started to get a hard-on.
This was beyond embarrassing. He prayed to just quietly die, right there, before Tom noticed. Tom held Adam’s arms only as long as gym custom permitted, the few seconds that were allowed to the instructors when they were explaining an exercise, and then he let go. Adam’s skin tingled for another ten minutes where he had been touched. Effing straights! thought Adam. Why do they have to make it even harder for us?
In the change rooms Tom went off to shower, modestly wrapped in his towel. Adam was sardonically amused by this modesty. They were all men together. Then a darker thought came to him: did Tom guess that he was gay? And if he did, why had he touched him in the gym? Why was he so friendly? Adam held his towel in front of his groin and chose a cubicle at the far end from Tom’s. He took his usual quick shower, and was finished a minute or so before Tom. When Tom came back from the showers, his skin glowing and his hair spiky and shining, Adam was already half-dressed.
Tom dropped the towel and pulled on a woman’s lace g-string. Adam could barely keep his eyes off it. It wasn’t frilly or ultra-feminine, but it was unmistakably a woman’s undergarment. The sight of the pristine white triangle against tanned stomach under its thatch of wheaten fur was intoxicating. That this macho, utterly male man wore a woman’s g-string threw everything that Adam had assumed about him into disarray. He looked away quickly in case Tom caught him staring. He stood up to put on his tie. Tom pulled on some designer label jeans, and turned his back to Adam as he did it, not from modesty, but just because that’s the way his backpack and gear were situated. Adam sneaked a look at the perfectly rounded buttocks, neatly divided in two by the white thong of the undies, and thanked the Lord that he himself was wearing briefs not boxers so his woody was kept in check.
He zipped up his sports bag, and said, “Seeya later, Tom,” his erection aching, dizzy with desire, glad that his voice still managed to sound so normal.
“Wait a sec,” said Tom, “I’ll come with you.” Why? thought Adam, puzzled and a little paranoid.
In silence, they walked for a block in the same direction. Adam’s office was in the stock exchange building, Tom’s in the Rialto Towers. Adam suddenly remembered that Tom had given up professional football at the end of the season, and had joined some arty-farty firm. PR? Advertising? Something equally glitzy and unreal, their office on the fiftieth floor with a stunning view over the bay.
“See you tomorrow,” said Tom, with a smile, his teeth white in the tanned planes of his face, his short-cropped hair lightening as it dried to a straw shot through with gold, his eyes blue and friendly.
“Yeah. Have a good one, Tom.” Adam watched as Tom walked away, strongly aware of the delicious curves of Tom’s buttocks, knowing what was pressed against his most intimate parts. Then he went to the toilets, on a different floor to his own, just in case anybody were to catch him at it, and pulled his wire. As he cleaned himself up, he reflected that on occasion, fantasy might be better than the real thing. Since, in his case, he didn’t ever get the real thing, fantasy was way better, especially as it allowed sex, if only make-believe, with utterly straight men, the kind Adam preferred.
That night, in bed, he repeated the experience, imagining Tom’s cock thrusting deeply into his butt, Tom’s hard, flat stomach rubbing against his own cock, sending shivers of pleasure all through him. He ignored Old Foss’s sardonic gaze. “Go away, you old cow,” he told her fondly. She started to purr noisily, almost as if she knew he was happy, and rubbed her cheeks against his hand as he drifted off to sleep, leaving it reeking of cat spit.
On Saturday Adam normally wouldn’t bother to go into the city to use the gym. Saturday was for long, slow breakfasts, at ‘Il Giardino’ if he could face Vi, and somewhere else if he couldn’t. But he was so determined to lose those five kilos and four inches that he broke with custom. In fact, his flat on Lygon St was only a twenty-five minutes tram ride from his office, so he had no real excuse not to go, not even the need to pay court to a significant other. He smiled sadly to himself – there was no significant other, and hadn’t been for years. Yet when he put on his jeans after his ninety minute session, he rather thought that they felt a bit looser. Life was definitely looking up.
That night he felt buff enough to go out, for the first time in months. He decided to go to one of the pubs in Brunswick St, which weren’t specifically gay but were pretty tolerant. He hated gay bars – too direct and depressing, with all their flawlessly gym-toned bodies and perfect tans and expensive haircuts and clothes.
There were many same-sex couples on the streets, some of them hand-in-hand. He had dinner at the ‘Veggie Bar’, cheap and healthy, then spoilt it all by having too many beers. As he came out of the fourth pub, buzzing with the alcohol, and starting to feel just a little sick, he saw Tom. His first instinct was to duck back into the bar and hide. But he didn’t move fast enough, and Tom saw him.
The smile on Tom’s face was genuine, almost too genuine. Adam mistrusted charm, but like most people, nevertheless remained susceptible to it.
“Adam!” Tom walked over the road to join him, his whole body showing his pleasure at the meeting.
© 2014 Nick Thiwerspoon. All rights reserved.
Romantic m2m novels and short stories