Editors Note: This is Part 23 of the series, you may wish to read the previous parts of this story first.
While Matt Strickson's PowerPoint presentation was unremittingly dreary, the way his arse flexed and rippled in the back of his tight grey trousers every time he turned towards the whiteboard was more than enough to keep me entertained.
Most people betray at least some signs of nervousness when they're giving a presentation - especially when they're standing up in front of their own colleagues, who can be among the most critical of audiences. Not Matt. He breezed through his talk like he was chatting casually with his mates in the pub. If he was aware of how dull his slides were, he didn't seem to give a toss. He just stood there, strutting his stuff, wiggling his arse and flaunting the bulge of his crotch, like he was loving the attention.
Which he probably was.
He kept flashing smirks over at me as if he knew full well how hot I thought he was.
Perhaps he could read my mind.
Now there was a thought.
What if he could peer into my head and was able to see what I was imagining him doing: his cock poking out of his fly hammering back and forth as I bent down in front of him with my trousers yanked down Or squatting over my eager face, slamming that firm round butt of his down onto my eager and outstretched tongue.
I smiled back at him, wondering if he would like what his mind was able to discern.
And wondering how big his erection would grow as he bucked his hips up and down against my face. Whether his balls would hang low enough to slap against my throat every time he -
"Do you agree, Rob" someone was saying.
"Do you agree that we need a rear guard action" It was the MD. He was staring at me over the top of his specs.
"A rear guard... what.."
"A rear guard action. Clearly we need to do something now that the bottom has fallen out of the market."
I glanced around. Everyone seemed to be looking at me.
"Bottom... oh... er... absolutely."
What the fuck was he talking about
Matt was just grinning at me, offering no clue. The slide on the screen behind him was equally unhelpful: just a bullet-pointed list in the most boring of fonts - Death by PowerPoint.
The MD went on, "I assume, Rob, that you'd like to get behind Matt in -"
At that moment the door opened and Alison, one of the least squawky of the secretaries, apologised for the interruption and told me she'd just received a call from my son's college and I was needed there immediately. Fearing some kind of accident had befallen Jake, I must have blanched in horror because she assured me that it was "just a bit of trouble". I quickly got to my feet and grabbed my jacket.
"You know how young men can be," she said with a smirk.
Not as much as I would like to, I thought, smiling over at Matt as I headed for the door.
The receptionist offered me a chair in a small foyer outside of the Assistant Principal's office door. Jake was already sitting there, looking as exaggeratedly glum as only an eighteen-year-old can. He barely acknowledged me as I sat down and just stared at the floor with a thunderous demeanour.
I said, as calmly as I could muster, "It's okay, Jake. Whatever it is, we'll get it sorted."
He kept staring at the floor, his eyes blank and his lips tight, and I tried to figure out if he was more angry or more upset. His expression at such times was difficult to read, rather like his mother's.
I tried, as reassuring as I could muster, "Come on, son. Nothing's unfixable."
He muttered, "He's going on about my university place. Saying he has a 'duty' to tell them."
He glazed the word 'duty' with a heavy coating of ridicule.
I asked, quietly, "What is it you've done Is somebody dead"
He looked up at me and his eyes betrayed momentarily that he was more upset than angry.
"They didn't tell you"
I shook my head. "They just said I had to come to the college. That there'd been some trouble that they needed to talk to me about."
He countered, with adolescent huffiness, "It's not that serious. It's just them making a big deal of everything, like they always do."
I threw him a small sympathetic smile even though I knew that, officially at least, I had to be seen to support the college in censuring whatever misdemeanour he'd apparently committed.
I said, "It's serious enough for them to pull me out of work, Jake. They haven't done that in quite a while."
I said it like I couldn't remember exactly when they last had, but I knew full well that Jake had been at primary school, just after his mother had walked out on the two of us. He'd lost his temper with another boy during a maths lesson and had attacked him with a compass. Although I'd joined the headmaster in giving my son a strong telling-off heavily laden with threats and warnings, given Jake's emotional fragility at the time and the cruel things that the other boy had said to him, I'd privately thought that his adversary had actually come out of it rather lightly.
He said, "They found a drawing I'd done. Someone must've put it up on the noticeboard."
"What kind of drawing"
Jake shrugged. "You know... the rude kind."
I was rather surprised by that because, although Jake was a prolific cartoonist and used his art to document much of what went on in his life, his cartoons these days - or at least the ones I spotted among the papers on his desk - weren't usually explicitly sexual but tended to be more humorous in the choice of subject matter.
He'd gone through a phase, a couple of years earlier, of drawing cartoons which had verged on being pornographic. Perhaps he'd had a hormonal surge or it had suddenly dawned on him why girls and boys were different; whatever the reason, for a few months at least, he'd been compelled to express his sexual feelings as explicitly as he could within the artwork he'd had a talent for since childhood.
For a short time his desk had become littered with page after page of female figures: grinning caricatures of voluptuous femininity with ballooning breasts and splayed legs revealing surprisingly accurate, albeit ludicrously exaggerated, sexual anatomy. Soon they were joined by their male counterparts whose grossly inflated musculature and implausibly chiselled physiques were matched in their absurdity by the sheer scale of the erections they so proudly sported.
At first I had simply accepted that he'd found a creative outlet for the sexual cravings which were, if my own tumultuous puberty had been any indicator, tormenting him as they increased in intensity. His talents were undeniably admirable: the women always looked so aroused and enticing with their nipples poking outward like bullets and the suggestion of an alluring wetness between their legs. The men, for their part, were always grotesquely endowed with pumped-up phalluses looking almost painfully excited. Their impossibly thickened shafts were criss-crossed with prominent knotted veins and they flaunted huge shiny helmets slick with the ooze that always seemed to be dribbling from the slits. Their distended testicles hung low in their stretched scrotums, heavy and over-ripe, like bloated fruits dangling pendulously between their tree-trunk thighs.
"You haven't drawn that kind of stuff for quite a while, Jake," I observed.
He nodded, still looking down. "The drawing was meant to be satirical. I mean, it was pretty sexual... yeah... but it wasn't really about that."
"Who was in it" I asked, expecting that it would be one of the girls in his year-group or a woman from television.
"The Principal and Assistant Principal," Jake replied quietly.
"Ah..." I said, as the nature of the drawing began to dawn on me. "They're both men, aren't they"
"And, in the drawing, these two men were... well... doing something intimate"
Jake glanced up at me, his eyes telling me all I needed to know.
"Oh God," I said quietly. "And now we're going to have to face one of them..."
I wasn't especially worried about sitting across from some jumped-up teacher listening to him doling out his threats and punishments: I was more worried that, given that he'd likely be waving around Jake's drawing in all its gritty realism as he did so, I might laugh.
And I knew full well that some of Jake's drawings could be extremely realistic.
One day, towards the end of his period of drawing naked figures, while I was putting his clothes away in his room I noticed that some of the figures in his cartoons had started coupling up. When I saw how vividly Jake had portrayed the intertwining bodies of the men and women in his drawings, I decided that my son and I should have words.
As we'd leafed through the cartoons that evening sitting alongside each other at his desk, I'd asked him if he found it exciting to draw such caricatured figures engaged in sexual acts. I knew that he could tell that I was infinitely more embarrassed than he was to be having this conversation and he'd smiled at me almost sympathetically before agreeing that he did.
I'd asked him, as I glanced at each cartoon in turn, if it was the process of drawing the sketches which he enjoyed most, or whether he mainly liked to look at them afterward. He'd replied that he mainly enjoyed himself while he was drawing them and from my blushes and his salacious grin it was patently clear that we both understood their purpose. I'd coughed and muttered that in that case he should hide them away privately after he'd finished with them.
"You could make a scrapbook," I'd started suggesting, "Or maybe -"
My words were cut short when I came across a drawing which was spectacularly different from the others. This drawing had two men in it, both graphically muscular and obscenely well-hung like the other male figures Jake had drawn. However, what I had momentarily assumed to be a wrestling hold, with one man behind the other, transpired to be something surprisingly more intimate.
"What's this, Jake" I'd asked.
He'd laughed at the drawing and said, "Oh, that's just funny!"
I'd asked him what they were doing, even though it was explicitly clear from the way Jake had angled one guy's backside that the gratuitously thickened shaft of the other's erection was deeply penetrating his bowels.
"Come on, dad," he'd giggled. "You can see what they're doing!"
I'd looked at the next of his drawings which showed another two men, again both inconceivably muscular, in the characteristic pose of doggy-style anal sex: one guy on all fours with the other kneeling upright behind him, his hands grabbing his partner's hips. I noticed that in this cartoon the man being penetrated had a long, curving erection with a finely-drawn mushroom-shaped head which was issuing a copious spray of seed into a thick, gloopy puddle. I'd asked him, "Are they doing what I think they're doing"
He'd laughed and said, "They're having bum sex!"
I must have stared blankly at him because he went on to explain, with much amusement, "The guy behind is doing the guy in front! That's how it works when it's two men, dad! They don't have a woman's hole to do it in, so one guy has to push his dick up the other guy's butt!"
He grinned at me as if he expected me to suddenly get it and then laugh.
But I just threw him a quizzical look and said, "I know how it works, Jake. I just don't understand why you're drawing it."
"Like I said, it's funny! I mean, why would anyone want to do that Use another guy's butthole for sex!"
Without venturing an answer, I looked at the next drawing. In this one the two men were standing up, once again one behind the other. The man in front had one leg raised with his foot on a barrel, the outline of which was only loosely sketched in comparison with the sinewy detail of the men's bodies. By raising the leg of the man being penetrated, Jake was able to flaunt his large erection and heavy nuts which would otherwise have been hidden behind his thigh; however, I suspected its main purpose was to reveal in graphic detail the act of anal sex which the men were enjoying.
And enjoying it they were! Their arms were ravenously grabbing at other's sweat-soaked bodies, their postures contorted to suggest passion and movement, while their faces were turned so they could grin towards one another as they revelled in their pleasure.
"How did you know that men could do this kind of stuff with each other, Jake"
"Come on, dad... I'm not a kid anymore!"
"Okay... so how are able to draw it so clearly Don't you normally only draw stuff you've seen"
He'd nodded and grinned: "I have seen it!"
Before I could ask him why he'd been looking up this kind of stuff online, he laughed and went on, "I told you ages ago! Me, Dan and Craig saw a couple of the older lads at the scout hostel doing it one night. I thought it was a joke - that they were just having us on and once they knew we were watching they'd burst out laughing or something. But they kept doing it, deadly serious, one lad on top of the other and sort of grabbing him around the chest. They got faster and faster until the top guy started whimpering and the bottom guy spunked up."
I remembered him coming out with that story on his return from camp. I hadn't really believed it - I'd presumed Jake was elaborating some tale his mates had made up or was just trying to elicit shock from me as he often did - and even now I was sceptical.
"Dan said they were bumming," he grinned, emphasizing the word 'bumming' which he knew I didn't like. It was true that he'd brought that word home from scout camp with him: I'd had words with him about its inappropriate usage on several occasions.
"If that actually happened," I'd said, emphasizing the word 'if' which I knew he wouldn't like, "then what those young men were doing was just a natural expression of their curiosity."
"Well, that's all these pictures show," he retorted with a shrug. "A natural expression of these guys' curiosity."
"Hmm..." I'd said, looking again at the very cleverly drawn picture of the two men enjoying a carnal moment together in a standing position. I wondered how long it had taken Jake to sketch the two of them in such an animated pose: probably not long given how confident he was with a pen.
I'd turned to the last of his cartoons and found that it also depicted a well-muscled male couple. This time their bodies were drawn from the front, with one man, wide-eyed and broadly grinning, squatting his backside down onto the other's upright and once again preposterously large organ. The man being penetrated was gripping his own exaggerated erection, which was so swollen by his arousal that he could barely get his fingers around it, and motion lines above and below his bulging forearm showed how frantically he was rubbing it in his almost uncontrolled excitement.
Jake had drawn the man behind reaching around to grab his companion's large ball-sack, lifting his church bell testicles up from between his legs. I thought at first that he had drawn it like that to heighten the sense of intimacy between the two men. However, when I noticed how attentive Jake had been to what was going on between the man's legs, just below his raised balls, it dawned on me that his main motivation for moving the scrotum out of the way was to reveal the full extent of the sexual act which was taking place. He had fastidiously illustrated the thick, veined shaft of the cock sliding up into the stretched and yet delicately puckered ring of the anus in explicit - and, to my eyes, rather sordid - detail.
After putting the cartoons back on his desk, I'd concluded, "You know I'm open-minded about sexual stuff, Jake, but... these are... well... a bit graphic."
"I was only drawing what I saw!"
"Come on, Jake. I don't honestly think -"
"That's what it looks like, dad! Have you ever seen two men having sex together One man doing it... you know... to the other's butt"
I hesitated before lying, "No."
"Well, that's what it looks like! Believe me, I saw it!"
He turned back to one of the earlier cartoons and pointed at the thick spray of liquid squirting out from the man being buggered.
"That's what happened to the guy at the hostel; the one on the bottom. He shot his load without even touching himself! Can you believe that"
Jake grinned at me, staring at my face to see my reaction. I think he expected me to be shocked - which, actually, I was - but I was loathe to show him anything but mild curiosity.
I asked him, "Even if that's true, Jake, it doesn't explain why you drew these. Did drawing them excite you like the other pictures"
He laughed incredulously. "No! Of course not! I just think they're funny. I mean, why would anyone want to put his dick up another lad's shitter! I mean - God - it's so rank!"
"It's better to say, 'backside'. What you said was crude."
While I was uncomfortable about Jake drawing such lewd cartoons, whether straight-orientated or gay, I accepted that they were, for him, a way of diarising his life and observations the way that another boy might keep a daily journal. I conceded that it was healthy for him to have an outlet into which to direct his creative urges, even though I would have preferred that he restricted his artistic talents towards more fully clothed figures.
He agreed that he would, in future, keep the more lurid of his drawings hidden away from view and that it, if he felt he had to document sexual acts, it would serve as a more meaningful challenge to his abilities to focus on passion and movement rather than merely accentuating the anatomical mechanics of the act.
A few mornings later, just before I was going to leave to go to work, I came across the drawings of male figures again stashed away under Jake's bed as I was checking for absconded laundry. After retrieving a few unpleasant-looking socks and two or three pairs of scrunched up underwear which he must have kicked under there, I took another look at the drawings in the privacy of the quiet house.
As I leafed through them a second time, my scepticism that they had been inspired by something Jake had seen at scout camp increased further. There was no way that he could have witnessed sex between two males in the hostel in a way that was so frank and uninhibited.
I knew that Jake's generation took a far more liberal view of sex than mine had, but I also knew that attitudes hadn't developed to such a point that two young men at scout camp would feel able to flaunt their sexual curiosity with so little regard for who might be watching. Any such experimentation between the boys would surely, as in my day, have been furtive and concealed: a few quick thrusts and grunts under the cover of a shared sleeping bag; a rapid slapping of flesh against flesh behind the locked door of a shower stall. Even if the two of them, as shown in one of Jake's cartoons, had managed to wriggle into a doggy position during their escapades, their few moments of gasping buggery would still have been obscured among the folds of hastily yanked down underwear in the darkness of the room.
I'd be the first to admit that I don't know what goes on after lights out between the lads at scout camp, but the idea that anal sex between them would be paraded so unashamedly and enthusiastically by its older occupants was, to say the least, ridiculous.
If Jake really had seen homosexual activity at the hostel, he had through his artwork elaborated a few momentary glimpses into something far more lucid and expressive. He had obviously found himself fascinated by the idea that males could have sex together by using the anus for penetration and for some reason he'd been compelled to explore his interest by illustrating as unambiguously as he could the crude physicality of homosexual intercourse.
Pausing on the drawing of the men in the standing position, I marvelled at the anatomical detail Jake had invested in these caricatured men. They had a certain indefinable appeal, with their grotesquely bulging musculature and disproportioned genitals. Their unbridled virility was vividly overstated, beyond the point of excess, and yet I was drawn into the intrigue that Jake obviously felt that their rampant sexual energies were directed towards each another rather than being targeted at their natural opposites.
There wasn't a shred of femininity in any of the drawings - the parading figures were all unequivocally male with oversized phalluses and heavily swollen testicles - and yet in spite of that, or perhaps because of that, the drawings were surging with lust and desire. I found this recurrent subtext of the drawings - this male-focussed yearning which fed so hungrily on its own kind - interesting although I wasn't sure why.
I looked again and the most graphic of the drawings: the one showing the man ardently masturbating as he squatted his backside down onto another man's erection. Again the emphasis of the drawing was towards the male extreme, with both men looking as aroused and as full of testosterone as it was possible to be. The sexual activity they were so flagrantly sharing was a brazen expression of this unrestrained masculinity: confident, physical and unashamedly rough.
These guys were fucking: there was no other way of putting it. They weren't making love or enjoying relations or hiding behind any of the other euphemisms we're used to couching sex in. The two of them were fucking - two men intimately joined as one - and their faces showed that they were revelling in that fact.
The guy on top, for all he was being penetrated by the other, seemed very much in control of his situation: he was the one dictating the pace and rhythm of their sex as he thrust his bowels up and down the length of his companion's thick shaft. His partner, despite being the man whose organ was being anally pleasured and who one might automatically assume to be the more dominant of the pair, was reduced to the role of the passive participant; his enjoyment determined completely by the man he was inside.
It had never occurred to me that homosexual sex could be expressed in such terms and, just as Jake evidently had when he'd dedicated so much thought in creating the drawing, I found the concept intriguing.
I felt myself being drawn into the cartoon as I stared at it, becoming more and more captivated by the two men it portrayed. I could almost smell the sharpness of their sweat and testosterone; for some reason, the sheer macho passion of the drawings, both in how these guys looked together and how I was imagining their scent might be, was starting to excite me. As I stared at the two men enjoying their sexual union - at the slickened shaft of one guy's cock sliding upwards into the straining ring of the other's arsehole - and imagined the heady, musky odour they were exuding, I touched my own steadily growing organ through my work trousers.
I couldn't understand why I was getting turned on by the drawing; why this exclusively male version of sex sketched in my son's heavy pen-strokes was so arousing me. I moved my face closer to the drawing - towards the enticing place where the two men were joined together - and inhaled their imagined scent. I could almost smell their cocks; sharp suggestions of piss and precum, more cloying traces of sweat and semen. The thick, clammy musk of their hairy balls as they bobbed up and down. And behind those strongly male pheromones there'd be a fuller, richer and coarser odour: the heavy, earthy hints of the cock pumping in and out of the arse; the stark, pungent odour of their frenzied intercourse.
I rubbed myself through my trousers as the smell of their sex seemed to fill my nostrils. My cock was growing thicker and longer at the intoxicating aroma I was revelling in: crude and animalistic; a heady mixture of lust and squalor.
Abruptly, I realised that the strongly male odour which was arousing me so intensely wasn't just in my imagination: it was the powerful whiff of Jake's dirty socks and recently-discarded underwear which were lying on his bed, next to the drawings and just inches from my face. A glance at the least-attractive stains on his boxer-briefs made it clear where the more piquant odours were coming from. Horrified that I had been a very short step from masturbating at the smell of my son's heavily-discoloured undershorts, I quickly stuffed the drawings back under the bed and hurried downstairs to fill the washer.
My reverie was broken by the Assistant Principal coming out of his office and apologising for having to call me at work.
"We should be able to deal with this matter quickly," he anticipated, gesturing for the two of us to enter his office, "so we won't need to detain you any longer than is necessary."
I felt rather like a schoolboy myself, entering the teacher's office to hear the telling off he had in store for us. I wondered for a moment if we'd be made to stand in front of his desk looking at our feet while we waited for our punishments to be doled out.
But he motioned for us to be seated as he walked around and sat behind his desk.
I vaguely knew Troy Barrowman from having seen him at various parents' events I'd attended since Jake joined the college. I thought he was probably a slightly older than me, but he had a young face and a tall, athletic physique which took quite a few years off him. I noticed he was wearing a wedding ring and there was a framed picture of three children of various ages pushed slightly askew by his chaotic desk tidy.
I dreaded to think of what position Jake had drawn him and the Principal in. Assuming the subject matter to be satirical as well as sexual, my main concern remained that I might not be able to maintain a straight face when the cartoon was pushed under my nose. I could imagine it showing the Assistant Principal being comedically taken from behind by his boss, his trousers yanked down at the back and his face melodramatically aghast in the best traditions of Kenneth Williams. I had seen Nick Clegg drawn in a similar position as a way of depicting the inequitable arrangement he'd got himself into with his own boss, David Cameron.
Barrowman sat down and apologised again for having to bring me in.
"Your call came during one of our strategic development meetings," I told him. "Believe me - I'm not missing much..."
He smiled politely, and explained, "I just wanted to show you in person, Mr Furlong, what it was that one of the cleaners found pinned to the notice-board in one of the students' common rooms."
"I gather it's one of Jake's cartoons," I said, glancing at Jake who blushed and looked downward.
Mr Barrowman nodded. "His choice of subject matter is deeply..." He paused to consider his choice of words before settling on: "inappropriate."
He took a sheet of lined file paper out of the file in front of him which I assumed bore the offending cartoon. Even though it was angled away from me it seemed likely, from the deep indentations on the back of the paper, that it was one of Jake's heavy-handed sketches.
He stared at the drawing, his face impassive, and said, "The drawing depicts me and the College Principal, Graeme Hines. You might know Mr Hines"
I nodded. He was a youngish guy - a little too young to be running such a large college, in my view - with dark red hair and an expensive taste in cars. "The drawing shows the two of us," Barrowman went on, "in a... shall we say... intimate pose."
I glanced over at Jake who continued to look downward.
Barrowman made to pass me the drawing and then pulled back as if having second thoughts.
"You're likely to find this cartoon extremely offensive, Mr Furlong."
"I've been around a bit, Mr Barrowman."
He glanced up at me, his eyes showing a flicker of interest, and then handed me the drawing across his desk.
I could immediately see that it was indeed one of Jake's. The anatomical style and caricatured facial features were recognisably his and it had his usual distinctive shading patterns.
The drawing showed Mr Barrowman and another man who I assumed to be Graeme Hines, the College Principal. Both men were dressed in what I assumed to be their typical work suits, with Hines drawn from behind, bending forwards with his trousers pulled down around his ankles and a pair of saggy white Y-fronts stretched between his knees. Barrowman was kneeling behind him with his eager face extended towards his boss's bared backside. A droplet of saliva twinkled from the outstretched end of Barrowman's tongue, tantalisingly close to the gaping hairy crack of Hines's arse. Hines was grinning, his face a parody of glee, as he prized his buttocks apart with his fingers to reveal a small delicately-drawn oval tucked away among the dark tangle between his cheeks.
I shifted in my seat uncomfortably and managed to say, "Ah."
This wasn't at all what I had expected.
In the drawing, the fly of Barrowman's trousers was open and his cock and balls, looking absurdly small in relation to the rest of his body, were exposed through the zip. His finger-sized erection was pointing straight upwards, while his tiny balls, like two hairy marbles, were barely visible within the folds of the material.
The bean-like head of Barrowman's cock was bared and glinting with a slick shininess, as a single rivulet of precum trickled from its slit. He was gripping its pencil stalk between his finger and thumb while motion marks above and below his wrist made it clear what he was supposed to be doing to himself as his tongue homed in on its forested prize.
The Principal's genitals were also visible through his open legs, and, in contrast to Barrowman's almost infantile proportions, they were grossly exaggerated in their sheer enormity. His tree-trunk cock, the shaft of it coursed with throbbing veins, was directed forwards, suspended in mid-air by its own aching hardness. Strings of gooey precum dangled from its fat, bloated head in thrilled anticipation of what the Assistant Principal was about to do. His hairy scrotum was drooping low by the weight of his balls, dangling comically between his knees and looking even more stretched and painfully heavy than mine often do.
I looked up and saw Mr Barrowman staring at me, waiting for my reaction.
I said, "I can see why you called me in, Mr Barrowman. This is... well... quite something."
"You don't seem as shocked as I expected, Mr Furlong," he said, flatly.
I looked straight back at him and allowed him a small smile. "Like I said, I've been around a bit."
His eyes didn't flicker. "Indeed."
I looked back at the picture. Under different circumstances I might have found it erotic, such was the sexual fervour between the two men which Jake had managed to convey. Here was rimming at its most graphic and electric: a drooling tongue reaching towards its murky trophy, the recipient's massively pumped-up cock dribbling and throbbing with excitement, his bloated bollocks so swollen with semen that they looked about ready to burst.
My son had created an impressive homage to that most carnal of pleasures - the thrill to be had by two men when tongue meets arse - and had probably done so, knowing Jake's skill with a pen, in a matter of minutes. The exquisiteness of the pose and the attention to detail made me wonder, momentarily, if Jake perhaps shared my interest, albeit on some subconscious level, in the activity he'd depicted.
In spite of his protestations of disgust about the idea of two men doing such a thing together, was it possible that he had been aroused when he'd so graphically drawn the very same act taking place There was simply too much passion in this cartoon to make it the work of a moment's boredom. Might Jake have fondled himself - as I would have done - when he'd drawn Hines's arse-crack, with its dark, thick hair bristling so coarsely around his tight, puckered hole Had he masturbated when he'd drawn Barrowman's tongue, extending so keenly towards its pungent pleasures
And yet, in spite of the obvious appeal of the cartoon, there was within it a more troubling subtext which was less about gratification and more about power. Both men were enjoying what they were about to do, that much was abundantly clear, but there was, behind the blatant sexual focus of the picture, darker connotations that were rather more disturbing.
Jake had drawn the Principal's body to be subtly larger than his colleague's, his genitals were colossal and his stance, flaunting the cheeks of his arse while using his hands to thrust his anus towards the other man's face, was depicted as dominating and authoritative. Barrowman, in the picture, was clearly eager to be the underling and to receive his master's offering: the desire on his face and the stiffness of his tiny phallus bore witness to that. And yet, there on the underwear which was stretched between Hines's ankles, what I'd initially taken to be sketched lines to suggest a fold or seam was more likely, on closer examination, to be the darker stain of something less innocent. And around Hines's crack, areas of shading which I'd at first taken to be hints at flabbiness, might have been intended as something rather more crude.
There was, it would seem, distinctly more to this sketch than originally met the eye.
Mr Barrowman broke the silence. "I can't understand why Jake would draw such a - how can I best describe it - monstrosity. He refuses to enlighten me about what on earth might have been going through his head. Perhaps you could ask him"
I glanced over at Jake without repeating the question.
He kept looking down and eventually said, his voice quiet, "It was meant as a joke."
"Isn't it somewhat sick and twisted to be regarded as a joke" Mr Barrowman retorted, raising his voice a little. "Perhaps I might see the funny side if I wasn't one of the participants in such a foul illustration, although I rather suspect not."
Jake remained silent and I felt for his shame. I was, to a rather large degree, complicit in this and I had to throw him a lifeline if I could.
"As I was telling Jake before you arrived, Mr Furlong," the teacher went on, "this isn't the sort of material that our universities want to have fluttering around their campuses and being daubed on their buildings."
"Let's not be too hasty about how we deal with this," I intervened. "There are a few... er... circumstances in Jake's favour."
Barrowman glanced up at me. "What circumstances What an earth could have given him such a repulsive idea for a drawing"
Jake looked over at me, his eyes burning. He'd never forgive me if I didn't speak out. Whatever defence I was going to make, I had to do it now.
"What I'm saying is, I don't think this is entirely his fault," I began. "It's his cartoon... yes... I mean, I don't dispute he drew it. But I've got to take at least some of the blame for the... er... subject matter."
Barrowman stared at me and I felt my face blush. Now I really did feel like a schoolboy in trouble.
"I have, I'm afraid, exposed Jake... purely accidentally, you understand... to certain materials which he wouldn't otherwise have been aware of..."
"Materials like this" Barrowman asked, throwing a disdainful look at the cartoon.
"Not exactly," I said, struggling find a way to couch my confession in language which might make it sound as natural and reasonable as I could. "But, I think, if it wasn't for an interest which I've recently developed, Jake wouldn't have been aware that such things exist between... er... men..."
"I'm not a little kid!" Jake snarled.
Barrowman continued to stare at me and I felt my cheeks burning.
"I should have been more careful," I went on, "to keep my... well... curiosities, I suppose... discreet..."
"I think it would be helpful, Mr Furlong," the teacher suggested, "if you and I could have a few moments to discuss this privately."
I nodded and glanced over at Jake who was glowering at me and seemed oblivious to the hint.
"Jake," I said quietly. "Do you want to give Mr Barrowman and me just a few minutes to talk about this"
He scowled at me. "If you're going to talk about me, I think I have the right -"
"Jake," I cut in, "seriously, it'll be better this way. Believe me."
In spite of his qualms, he must have recognised that I might just have the potential to be able to resolve this for him. He stared at me for a moment, his eyes still full of distrust, and then, after looking over at his teacher, nodded and left the room.
When he'd closed the door, Barrowman looked over at me curiously. I decided I would tell him the whole story; otherwise, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to him.
"A couple of months ago," I began, "Jake and I went to a football match with a friend of his and his friend's dad. To cut a long story short, the act depicted on Jake's cartoon actually happened between me and the other man in the hotel room."
I looked up at Barrowman, assuming he would be appalled by my revelation, but he just stared at me, nodding slowly.
"Unbeknown to me," I went on, "my son overheard us from the next room. That, coupled with a stupidly left browser history in the weeks afterward when I was trying to figure out what I'd done and why I'd done it, led Jake to find out far too much about stuff he really shouldn't know at his age. And that's why you have that cartoon on your desk now."
Barrowman continued nodding slowly but didn't say anything.
I concluded, "I'm sorry for my part in it, and I sincerely hope we can keep this between ourselves. It really wouldn't be fair to punish Jake for something which he... well... kind of found himself drawn into."
In the silence which followed, I wondered if Barrowman was going to tell me that I was disgusting for doing such a thing to another man, accuse me of being a bad father to Jake for exposing him to such material or curtly inform me that it didn't matter what blame I was trying to take from my son, Jake was still in deep trouble.
But he didn't.
He got up and walked around his desk and then came to sit alongside me in the chair Jake had just vacated.
And he surprised me further by telling me, in a quiet voice, "The first time I did it, I thought I was going mad."
What was he talking about The first time he'd found a lewd cartoon of himself The first time he'd had to punish a student for drawing such a thing
"I couldn't get the excitement I'd felt out of my head... I couldn't figure out why I'd felt that way."
It suddenly dawned on me what he meant. I said, stupidly, "You... er... rimmed a guy"
He nodded, his face a little sheepish from his admission.
After a moment, he said, empathically, "I know what you've been through, Robert. Or at least some part of it. Being married all these years - always into girls and women since I was a kid - and then... that. It knocked me for six."
I shrugged and threw him a nonchalant smile. "I've kind of got my head around it now. I'm dating a woman - a very nice woman, actually - but I've accepted that I have... well... other interests."
He smiled back at me and then asked, "How did it happen Between you and this other guy" I told him of the night in the hotel room - the story now almost becoming formulaic by repeated retellings - and was careful not to mention who Jake's friend was so that Barrowman couldn't work out who I'd done the dirty with. Not that I suspected he would use the information maliciously, but it wouldn't have felt right to divulge Guy's identity in such a way.
"It must be incredibly embarrassing to have Jake know about this," Barrowman said after I'd finished my account.
I smiled. "Just the teeniest little bit, yes."
He chuckled. "Jake must have seen me staring at Graeme's backside one day... I must admit, I do sometimes find myself looking at other men like that. Perhaps finding out about you somehow sensitised him to be able to spot other men with the same interest."
"He's handled what has happened very well, considering," I observed. "It must have been difficult for him, but he's tried hard to be supportive and not to show his disgust too openly. Maybe the cartoon was his way of unloading his true feelings."
"The drawing is surprisingly... er... graphic. I was quite shocked by it... slightly upset, if I'm honest."
I nodded. "I am sorry for that. It was, I suppose, inevitable that he'd want to express himself in that way. I should have expected it - should have looked for it. He documents just about everything with cartoons, though normally they're not so explicit."
"I did find it troubling that he would depict one man licking another's bum in such overtly sexual terms... it would not occur to most lads his age that such an act could be in any way arousing."
"I'm glad you can relate to why this has happened. How did you first find out you enjoy doing this kind of stuff"
He chuckled. "That's quite a long story." He looked over at his clock. "Look... let's get Jake back in and wrap things up with him and then maybe you and I can go and have a bite of lunch somewhere I've got some more questions I'd like to ask you, if that's okay."
I glanced at my watch. It wouldn't matter if I was a little late back: they'd just think matters were taking a while to resolve over here.
So I nodded, getting to my feet to invite Jake back into the room. "That'd be good."
When we'd all sat down again, Barrowman resumed his hard-man routine with Jake. It was interesting to see how he could flip between his two personas, almost like an actor call on to perform two roles in quick succession.
He repeated how disappointed and appalled he was by the cartoon - not only by its crude vulgarity but also by its "deeply unpleasant subtext of subjugation". It seemed as if he was talking himself into doling out a serious punishment for my son. However, in typical teacher fashion, after painting the most damning of pictures, he abruptly veered back towards leniency and declared that, "in view of your father's part in the matter and the... er... transition he is currently going through, I can see there are valid reasons behind why you felt the need to express yourself in such an outrageous manner, although I would thank you never to draw me or any other member of staff at the college in this way again."
He tore up the offending cartoon, which I think upset me more than it did Jake, and scrunched up the shreds into his wastepaper basket.
And that was that.
Jake glanced over at me, as if waiting to be told what his punishment was going to be and, when none was forthcoming, I stood up and thanked Mr Barrowman for being so understanding about things.
When we got out of the room, Jake whispered, "How did you wangle that"
I shrugged. "I just told him about... well... what's been happening with me and how maybe drawing the cartoon was your way of handling it."
"Yeah, well it was meant to show what an arse-licker that guy is to the Principal - that was all. I guess it suits him more to convince himself that I have issues." He said the word 'issues' like he was some dope-smoking summer camp counsellor.
He turned to walk down the corridor, and then looked back at me when I didn't follow him.
"Aren't you going back to work Now that you've swooped in and saved the day"
I smiled at his sarcasm. "Actually, I'm going to grab of bite of lunch."
He looked confused.
I added, "With... er... Mr Barrowman."
His mouth broadened into a leer.
"Oh right... it's like that, is it He's into it too, is he Yeah... I knew it!"
"Actually, it's not like that at all, Jake," I refuted.
"What is it with you guys Is it like some kind of brotherhood Have you got a secret handshake"
"I'm just being friendly with him and... you know... whatever I said to him has kind of worked in your favour, hasn't it"
He grinned. "I'll leave you to it. Enjoy your tossed salad, or whatever it is you guys are gonna have together."
He wandered off down the corridor, chuckling at his own wit, and I went back to see where Troy Barrowman was going to take me for lunch.
Next story: Troy Story