My first day back at school was like totally weird without Kyle and Mark there. I'd kinda gotten used to those bullies giving me a loada shit. Like Mark being on gate duty as a prefect, ordering me to straighten my tie and tuck my shirt in. Or Kyle forcing me to swim a billion training laps in the fucking pool. I also missed walking to school in the mornings with Kyle, then walking home in the afternoons with him and Conan. So much had changed in such a short time.
But it wasn't all bad. I'd made some new friends on the swim team, and I played cricket during the breaks. So I kept myself pretty busy.
That afternoon, I couldn't wait to tell Kyle all about my first day back at school. It was about 3:30 when I breezed into his room, where he was sitting at his desk, and flicking through a surf mag. I sat on the side of his bed.
"Hey! We had swim squad training today."
"I really miss that. I used to love swimming at school."
"Then come back! Repeat a year!"
"Can't do that, Wingnut. That's all in the past now."
"Darren was there. Varsity hasn't started yet, so he was helping the coach sort out the good swimmers."
"You one of them?"
"You're kidding, right? 'Course I am!"
"I need to give Darren a call... been a while. He's a totally cool guy."
"Yeah, all the guys on the team think he rocks. Hey, Kyle? You gonna swim for the old boys' team at the Swimming Gala?"
"I guess... if I can get there."
"Tell Conan, too... that would be so fucking cool... having both you guys there for the meet."
"I hardly see Mark."
I was aware that Mark was thinking about leaving for Joburg, so it was a kinda touchy subject at the mo. "Yeah, well when you do see him. Our new senior team is gonna whip your asses."
"Probably," Kyle shrugged. "We haven't trained."
"So you're already making excuses... whimpy!"
"I'll kick your ass. Where were you this last weekend?"
"Friday night I went with Candy to a movie. Saturday night we went to a friend of Candy's house party. Got myself totally slaughtered, so I slept over. Candy's friend wanted me to stay 'cause she was totally into my pants. But I just passed out. Damn! Could've gotten into her easy."
"Yeah, well, I think Candy's the best thing for you."
"Yeah... we're in love. Serious, Kyle. Me and Candy are gonna get married. We've already spoken about it. We're gonna hang right through 'til we've finished university or whatever."
Kyle turned another page of the surf mag as though he wasn't really paying any attention to me. "My girlfriend also said that to me when I was thirteen."
"Yeah... but then you got all ugly. What are you doing tonight?"
"Going 'round to Steph's to see how her first day back at school was."
The following night, I hopped the fence, but Kyle was helping his dad fix the car. It was gonna take all fucking night, so I split.
Things between Kyle and me weren't the same any more. And it wasn't just 'cause he was no longer at school. His job at the shop took up a lotta his time. And the whole thing with Mark leaving for Joburg was affecting my bro big time. I didn't need to be a genius to figure that out. So I was wondering if Kyle was losing interest in me. Maybe it had something to do with his being eighteen, and not wanting to hang with a grommet. I wasn't sure. But I missed him a stack.
My group of friends was cool, though. We had a lotta fun surfing, skating, partying, and whatever. And my relationship with Candy was fine. She was a great chick, and fun to be with. But there was something about Kyle that couldn't be replaced. He wasn't like anybody I'd ever met before. I couldn't talk to my buds like I could talk to Kyle. Well, Brian and I got along pretty well... jacking and stuff. We'd even practiced blowing each other once or twice. But it still wasn't the same as being with Kyle. I had to figure out a way to get him involved with something new... something we could share.
"Hey!" I said as I waltzed into his room, and plonked my ass on his bed. "Still got your old bike?"
"'Cause you're gonna need it."
"Yeah... this guy at school had a pre-paid entry form in the Argus Cycle Tour around the Cape Peninsula, and he gave it to me. Pretty cool, huh?"
"That's 104 kilometers! Hectic as hell! Over 30,000 cyclists!"
"I need a practice buddy. You wanna ride with me in the mornings?"
"I'm outa cycle condition."
"Cool... so I can whip your ass."
"And my bike needs a whole service. Haven't used it in years. I'm gonna have to dismantle the whole damn thing!"
"Cool. So when are you gonna start?"
Sometimes, I figured it was a good idea to boss Kyle around, even though he was five years older than me. Anyway, he needed a good kick up the ass 'cause he was feeling down about Mark's new job in Joburg. My bro needed to keep busy, and to keep his mind off Mark as much as possible.
"So what you been up to?" I asked.
"Met a bunch of Swedish dudes who were touring. They wanted to visit some of the surf spots, and were looking for someone who knew the local conditions."
"I didn't even know they surfed in Sweden."
"Sure they do. And it was totally cool. They paid for everything. Bought me lunch, then gave me 500 bucks on Tuesday arvie." [About 50-60 USD]
"Five hundred bucks? Woohoo!"
"There were five of them, but only two spoke English that I could sorta understand. One of the dudes who did speak English was only seventeen years old. The other was nineteen. And the rest were in their early twenties. They were pretty cool, and one of the older dudes was pretty... uh..."
"That's not what you were gonna say."
"Well... he was... kinda... hunky."
"Hunkier than me?"
"Almost. Anyway, they're working their way up the coast, then returning to Cape Town, and they wanna connect with me again. Pretty neat, huh?"
"What do you mean almost?"
"Anyway, I found out that my boss got some cash for lending me to the Swedish guys. Kinda makes me feel like a slave," he laughed. "He reckons this could be a big thing... taking tourists on surfing safaris. So I told him to pay for me to get a driver's license. He's thinking about it. Hey, can you imagine me getting paid to go surfing? Woohoo!"
"Did you hear me?"
"You said almost."
"Jeez, Kyle! You said the Swedish dude was almost hunkier than me!"
"So we drove past this one beach, Llandudno. Wicked shore break. But these Swedish guys were only packing shorty wetties... with short arms and legs, and two ml neoprene." Kyle cracked before he continued. "They totally shat themselves when they dove into that icy Atlantic. I don't think ice pools in Sweden are that cold."
"You said almost!"
"So what do you want? A fucking medal?"
"Am I really that hunky?"
"Checked yourself in the mirror lately?"
"Yeah, but it's not the same as having somebody else tell you."
I guessed Kyle knew that I was fishing for compliments. I really didn't need them, though. Candy thought I was a hunk, and all my buds thought I was cool. Not that they'd said anything to my face, but I just kinda knew. I was automatically the leader of the group. It was a kinda mutual understanding thingy. Nobody voted. But it was understood by everybody that I was the main man. Why? 'Cause I hung with Kyle, which was pretty impressive. I told all the guys that Kyle was my big bro. I was also taller than most of the other guys, and I had a bigger dick. That was the most impressive thing of all. Anyway, I had to be tougher than those guys 'cause a lotta them wanted to move in on Candy, and I had to make sure they knew that they'd be on the wrong end of my fists if they tried anything.
During the few days after Mark had left for Joburg, there was like this giant black cloud hanging over Kyle's head. The spring in his step had gone, and his eyes were always downcast. I breezed in and out of his room from time to time, but I didn't stay long. His excuse was always that he was busy or something. I didn't wanna take his offhand mood personally, but I couldn't help it. I was supposed to be his bud. I was his little bro. Hmmm. Was I gonna take this lying down?
I saw Kyle at the movies with Steph on Saturday night. He seemed pretty chatty, and gave me his usual big, cheesy grin. So I figured I must've been back in his good books. It was 5am next morning when I hopped the fence, breezed into his room like I owned the damn joint, and woke the lazy bugger.
"Hey, Kyle! Wake up! We're going cycling."
"Wha...?" He rubbed his bleary eyes, and studied his wristwatch. "Do you know what time it is?"
"Yeah. It's late. Get up."
I felt a bit guilty as Kyle staggered outa the room toward the shower. But before he disappeared, he turned around and checked me out as if he'd suddenly realized something. "New shorts?"
"Yeah," I beamed. "Cycling shorts. My folks bought them for me. Pretty cool, huh?"
Kyle was taking for-fucking-ever in the shower. "Hey! You gone back to sleep in there?"
Anyway, we got going at about 5:30, and cycled up the back roads through the forest, then up a fucking steep mountain pass called Ou Kaapse Weg, which would be part of the cycling tour route. I couldn't believe how Kyle was handling the ride. He was supposed to be outa cycling condition but I had a helluva time trying to keep up with the fucker. By the time we reached the top of the mountain pass, my legs were burning like hell. After that, though, it was a long downhill run, which was welcome big time. Woohoo! Then we pedaled around the suburbs, and back along the coastal road. By the time we'd arrived home, we were both pumping. The veins in our arms looked like blue spaghetti, and our hearts were thumping like they were trying to break outa our skins.
Kyle's folks were awake, and asked me to stay for breakfast, but I'd already made arrangements to connect with some friends... we were all going surfing for the day at Long Beach.
"Promised some neighbors I'd do their garden for them. Maybe I'll catch you at Long Beach later."
"Hey, for an old guy you're still pretty awesome on a bike."
"I don't think you're too far behind me, Wingnut."
Later in the day, Kyle arrived at Long Beach with his dad. It was way cool to see them both trotting down the sand toward the surf with their boards tucked under their arms. More like buds than family. Totally stellar.
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