CHAPTER TWELVE: THE ORDEALS OF ADULATION
It’s two weeks later and Peter has almost stopped looking for the boy with no name, and Peter’s on an excursion down to the Harbour Centre Mall, and the boy sails past him on a skateboard. Peter turns and follows, he has to run, and there he is standing by a kiosk with two other skateboarders.
“Hi! Remember me? I’m Peter, we met up on the hill.”
“Hi! Yeah I remember. How’re you doing?”
“Jist fine.” Peter beams.
“These are my friends, Miles and Geoffrey.” Cursory greetings are exchanged. “You sure look different.”
“Oh yeah, my mohawk. Lots of kids are getting them.” Peter had been temporarily unaware of it and he’s not sure if the boy likes it.
“Do yuh like it?”
“Well I wouldn’t want one.” The boy’s being polite.
“Looks like it’s off a broom.” Miles volunteers.
“What do you pay for one those anyway, Kid?” Geoffrey asks.
“You could get a real good set of trucks for that.” Geoffrey observes.
“Trucks? What are trucks?”
“These,” the boy picks up his skateboard turning it over, they give flexibility to the wheels.”
The boy lets him hold the board, Peter admires it reverently. “It’s sure a nice skateboard you got.”
“It’s a Tony Alva. Want to try it?”
Peter desperately wants to impress the boy and get to know him, but he’s never even had a board in his hands before. “How do you work it?”
“Like this.” The boy takes off maneuvering amongst the pedestrians, loops around the next kiosk and returns. He takes a minute to explain the finer points and hands the board back to Peter.
The fall wouldn’t have been a bad one if Peter hadn’t hit his head on the ornamental lamp pole. The SHOCK, the PAIN, and just as he is inhaling to scream, the boy is there. Peter converts to “FUCK”, mainly with anguish, “Fuck,” more anger this time, “Fucking pole,” He’s controlling himself. “Why’d they put these fucking poles all over the place?”
“I don’t know.” The boy laughs and his friends are amused. Then everybody notices that Peter’s head is bleeding, they find a small scalp cut, probably from the fluting on the pole. The boy goes with him to the men’s washroom to help him clean up. “You always seem to have your problems when I’m around.”
“Well I never been on one before, not even skates.”
“You should be more careful then.”
Peter quietly rinses out the collar of his jacket while the boy cleans up the blood around his ear. “How come you don’t go up to the hill anymore?”
“I told you I don’t go up there very often.”
“But I’ve been looking for you.” Peter doesn’t mean to say it quite that way.
“Well kid, Peter,” he seems to be thinking about what to say, “I spend a lot of time helping my dad, and when I can I usually come down here or to the parkade behind Eaton’s.”
Peter seems satisfied. “Is it OK if I come and watch you skateboard sometimes?”
The boys leave soon after. Peter light beartedly trips back through the mall, only a slight hesitation in his step and small movements of his hips betray his imaginings. A few quizzical glances from passersby bring that to a halt. He stops at the bus depot newsstand and buys a copy of Thrasher, which Geoffrey told him was the best skatezine, and Peter does find the name interesting. He has no money left for the bus and walks home reading the magazine. Still reading he fashions a meal from a can of cold beans, bread, bologna and peanut butter cookies, and retires to his room still engrossed.
Periodically he gets up from his bed and practices motions in his mirror using a volume of his Collier’s encyclopedia as a board. And he and the boy with no name and his friends go sailing off and around the streets of the city, weaving effortlessly amongst pedestrians and obstacles, and later they a indulge their camaraderie in scenes plagiarized from Pepsi commercials.
Family affairs, TV and Mom’s experiment with a peach pie, not bad intervene for an hour or so, before Peter returns to his devotions. He reads all the ads, absorbing brand names, claims and specifications. And his vocabulary increases phenomenally in a matter of hours, he mouths words aloud, “ramp ripping, Andrechts, kick turns, frontside ollies”, and always the boy with no name is there, beside him, in front of him, showing him the way. A few more sessions in front of the mirror and Peter undresses and goes to bed. But he can’t sleep. Curtains drawn and lights on he poses again, two volumes now with a small book under, so it wobbles, and he comes in for a brake stop.
Peter is just lamenting the lack of more ripples on his stomach when he sees it. “A HAIR!” He quickly grabs his desk lamp and turns it on, thrusting his pelvis forward and examining himself closely. Five, and they’re nice and dark too. They are not very long however. Peter leaps over to show ’He’ gyrating his hips in a fucking motion, and then he proceeds to rape his mirror, fogging the glass. Roland is softly indifferent but Peter prances around his room, joyously raping all large objects, “Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh.” And finally at greater length he does it to his already devirginized pillow, throwing in aahs, moans and heavy panting for effect. Then lying back, eyes closed and mouth agape, he sets himself to serious masturbation, and savours the orgasm when it comes. He’s been forgetting to do it everyday.
Peter starts going downtown regularly early evenings, even though it usually means walking twelve long blocks through a part of town he does not feel comfortable in. And the boy’s name is Lars. Peter seems to think it’s a dreamy name from the way he voices it aloud to himself. “Lars… Laaahrrs.” It’s like a Viking’s. And he tries to fit the name back into the time they first met.
Peter gets to know the boy’s comings and goings, he hangs around and watches them skate, He learns and cautiously begins trying. And he hangs around. Occasionally Lars tells him to split, but they become friends in a boyhood sense, almost buddies. But Peter seldom gets what he wants most, and which accounts for much of his efforts and enthusiasm, and that is to be alone with Lars and have him to himself. Peter wants Lars as His Friend.
And he also wants a board of his own. And it just so happens that Peter meets Bill again, he does not share Peter’s delight in his hairs and both agree after that spurs are not a good idea, but nevertheless funding forthcomes. Peter wants a new one but Lars decides a better quality used board is the best buy, and it makes it easier for Mom to believe him when he says, “It only cost five dollars.” Peter wishes it had. He starts getting around on his board and as his mind quickly learns the new geography of slopes and banks and smooth new pavings his routes adjust.
Lars gets hold of this booklet on placer mining which has maps
of several places nearby where they used to mine GOLD, and There’s still some there. A minor gold fever sweeps Lars and infects Geoffrey, and they plan an expedition taking dad’s old pickup, and most importantly Peter. They all study the maps, there’s a canyon where it’s still easy to find colour, and a few miles further on an old ghost town. They settle on next Saturday when the private logging roads are open to the public. At the last minute Geoffrey can’t make it and Lars and Peter set off with lunches and woks for gold pans. They take a circuitous route to approach the canyon from the back, as the bridge on the lower road is long since gone. The final branch road has not been used for years, alder brush over three feet high swaths the way. The truck makes it almost to the saddle of the ridge when an old washout stops its advance. Lars checks the maps and decides they should leave the road and go straight up the hill.
Climbing over tangled windfalls and through dense salal they reach the top of the divide. Peter knows naught of the bush and trustingly follows Lars where he goes. Then the going becomes easier as they enter an old second growth stand with moss and ferns beneath. And Lars is dead on, the slope flattens, and through a break in the trees they see the remains of old shacks and low cabins, their moss clad roofs collapsing. The floor of the first gives way as they gingerly step inside. Lars judo chops the remains of a post and a cloud of dust, splinters, droppings and bugs settles to the ground. Peter, becoming, the Incredible Hulk puts his fist through a rotten plank wall. And together with bare hands, being careful of the nails, they demolish a small out building. Peter poses with flexed arms in mock triumph.
They proceed up the creek, crossing and recrossing the low summer flow, stopping in likely places to pan for gold with their woks. Boulders are dragged aside to get at the supposedly rich gravel in the eddies. No gold. And Peter’s platinum flattens between Lars’s thumbnails, the remains of some hunter’s lead shot. Farther up the creek towards the canyon in an open gravelly area they find an old sluicebox, still fairly solid.
“Let’s kung fu it!” Peter eagerly suggests.
“Naw, we should leave it, it may be historic. They’re fixing up things like this for tourist attractions these days.” The argument is irrefutable. Peter’s restraint ennobled, he watches as Lars removes the moss from behind the riffles checking for forgotten gold.
Beyond a jumbled log and boulder dam they come upon a large pond just above the sluicebox. Lars figures it was originally a diversion pond for the sluicebox, but that log jams and gravel washed down have made it bigger. The water is proverbially crystal clear and they look down to the bottom to a tangle of logs, sticks and stones, all covered with a fine whitish silt. They wander out on a huge log that spans the deepest part careful of their balance.
“Looks great Pete, you going to take a dip?” Lars has started stripping.
Peter hasn’t told Lars that he can’t swim and his feet already know the water is cold. “Yeah.” he tries to say matter of factly as Lars gracefully stretches his limbs in a ballet pose. He undresses, piles his clothes neatly beside Lars’s on another log, and stands there self conscious of his scrawny physique as his beautiful demigod plunges into the water.
“It’s great, fine… a little refreshing.” Lars calls out merrily splashing around as Peter crouches on the log. Lars pulls himself out, his body sparkling with droplets in the brilliant sun, “Aren’t you going to go in?”
Peter rises, sees a shallower spot nearby and hesitates. And whether it’s because he blanks out part of his mind or simply finds some sort of faith, it doesn’t matter, he pushes off. He sees with slow clarity of detail, such as one experiences with an impending accident, the water come up to him and feels it envelop his body like some very cold fire. Down, down, it’s deeper than he thought.
And Panic’s just a comin’,
Flashes from the Dream,
Something like paralysis,
And he can’t scream,
But a foot finds the bottom,
And his arms strike out,
His head breaks the surface,
And it’s more of a shout.
“HOEE, HO, huh, huh, huh.” Peter is gasping, holding onto a snag he’s reached.
“You OK?” Lars is concerned.
“I ... I just, just didn’t think it was THAT deep.” The rush has passed but the adrenaline lingers on. Peter smiles bravely at Lars and paddles awkwardly back to the log, he probably could have walked around.
“Not bad when you get used to it.” Lars comments as they crouch side by side.
“No.” Peter lies with hidden pride. With that Lars gives him a shove on the shoulders and they both tumble in. His ordeal is not over. But it even becomes fun for a while as they frolic in the shallows. Lars dunks Peter a couple of times, Peter takes it. And on the second dunking he deliberately takes long seconds longer than necessary to gain his air again. And Lars flips him over his shoulder to a head first splash, but Peter gets even. He grabs Lar’s legs and holds him under upsidedown. Soon they are both too chilled to romp and with Peter’s teeth chattering they climb out to bask in the sun.
Afterwards they have their picnic lunch. Lars has brought gouda cheese and sprout sandwiches, oranges and granola bars, while Peter provides a large bag of pizza flavoured tortilla chips, two smaller bags of Cheezies and a couple of Oh Henry bars. A later downstream expedition proves unrewarding, and with the sun getting low they decide to head back up the hill to the truck. They take their time leisurely tramping the bush, being extra careful crossing a ravine full of poisonous devil’s club, and find the overgrown road and follow it down to the truck. Peter’s tired and relieved as Lars starts the truck and it cautiously backs up.
Then it happens. As Lars is easing the truck around a fallen rock the road’s shoulder under the left front wheel gives way. Lars stops immediately, tries to go forward, but they’re stuck. They get out to examine the situation. They can move the rock with some effort, but the main problem is to get the wheel back on the road. Lars says it would be no problem if they had a jack, but they don’t. He thinks if they build up the embankment again, and scrape away where the axle is caught, that will do it. But first they should move the rock, a foot will be enough. It takes them twenty minutes with levers and smaller rocks, and the hardest physical labour Peter has ever allowed himself to do, to budge it. He collapses exhausted when it’s done.
“Now we got to build up the embankment.” says Lars sweating and breathing heavily himself. Peter almost suggests that they leave the truck and walk out, but he knows it’s fifteen miles to a main road and it will be dark in less than two hours. Laboriously they begin carrying in rocks and boulders to fill in the embankment where it has slipped. Lars labours strenuously himself and prods and encourages Peter to unprecedented efforts. “We need bigger boulders to make it solid.” Lars decides. “There should be some in the bottom of that gully.” Peter makes trip after trip down and up the slope hauling the biggest that he can, stopping only momentarily to psyche himself up and goad his drained body. Lars fits them into place and tamps smaller rocks and gravel in between. It’s done. Peter, dirty, sore and stiff, his arms and hands raw, his chin covered with drool he can’t be bothered to wipe off collapses once again. Lars starts the engine, slowly creeps forward, wheels hard to the right, but the embankment gives away again and the front starts to slip to the left. Lars throws it in reverse, spinning the wheel around, and seems to be making it when the embankment under the rear wheel crumbles, and the whole truck slides sideways, almost as if in slow motion, and comes to rest at forty five degrees against a tall fir. “Well we’re going to need a winch now.” Lars states calmly.
“What are we going to do?” Peter asks anxiously.
“Wait, there’s nothing else we can do, unless you want to walk out. I told my dad where we were headed but it may take him a while to find the right turn off in the dark… There’s nothing to worry about, we just make ourselves comfortable for the night.”
Peter numb but aching with fatigue, remains sprawled out on the opposite bank while Lars checks their supplies, fetches water from the trickle in the gully and moves the bench seat into the box, propping it so they’ll have a reasonably level place to sleep. There are no matches so Lars lights a small fire using gasoline and a spark. Peter hobbles over to enjoy the warmth and after a while makes it down to the trickle to clean himself up before it is completely dark. He’s feeling much better.
It’s getting cold, Peter has only a T-shirt and they are both tired so they clamber into the tilted box and go to bed. Lars wraps his windbreaker around the two of them and pulls the tattered remnant of a plastic tarp over them, the only other thing they have. Peter snuggles his backside into Lars’s front, and Lars holds him around the chest on the not wide enough bench seat. Peter’s comfortable and soon warm. He likes being close to Lars and being held by him. He nestles his mohawk under Lars’s chin and wiggles to feel his presence better. He furtively runs his nose and lips along Lars’s forearm so he can feel the hairs and sniff the skin. He’s pretty sure Lars is not asleep. And he realizes he’s got a hardon and it’s bent over and he has to adjust it. He wiggles his ass to see if he can tell if Lars has one too. Doesn’t seem like it. Maybe if I wiggle some more? It would be nice if we fooled around just a little bit, like if he played with me and I could touch him. And I’d even let him do it to me if he wanted, ’cause he’s my friend. Peter wiggles his ass encouragingly a few more times, but then it seems that Lars must be asleep, and Peter contentedly follows.
The sun is not yet up when Lars’s father, Einar arrives. He and his foreman Mac have blankets and a thermos of hot coffee. And in little over an hour Peter is home. Mom had been frantic despite Einar’s assurances the night before that Lars knew how to survive in the bush. Her boy was lost. She’d wanted to bring in the Mounties and Air Sea Rescue. And oh… Does she ever make a fuss over Peter.
Peter’s never had such a real true adventure to talk about before. Mom listens sympathetically, happy because Peter is so thrilled, and Alex is also interested and asks questions. And when he’s finished his story Peter goes on about Lars, Lars this, Lars that, until he knows himself he’s babbling. Finally Mom suggests he might be tired and Peter lies down on the sofa to watch TV. But he keeps thinking about Lars, not knowing that the way he feels about him, others might describe as love.
It’s several days before Peter gets to be alone with Lars again. Peter has come over to his place to borrow the use of some wrenches to put new ’rad’ wheels on his skateboard, and the rest of Lars’s family is off on some junket to Vancouver. Reclining in front of a blazing fireplace, after a vigorous workout at ping pong, Peter, Pepsi in Hand, directs, the conversation towards girls and Sex. All he learns is that Lars has a cousin Helga in nearby Lumberton, whom he can use as a date when he needs one for a dance or something. And she wears glasses and has medium brown hair. In desperation, cognizant of the unique opportunity available, Peter resorts to, “Do yuh ever jack off?”
“Oh yeah. Used to a lot, every week when I was younger. But you pretty well grow out of it after a while. Lars leans closer and intimately counsels, “Like Pete, I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you.”
That was perhaps not the kind of answer that Peter was hoping for. Like with Lars you do all sorts of things, you go places, you have lots of fun, you’re Buddies… But THAT’s ALL.
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