“You bastard!” shouted Brad.
“Easy, dude… It’s just a game!” laughed Leroy, grabbing his drink bottle from the side of the court.
“I just wish that I could beat you occasionally!” laughed Brad, picking up his towel to wipe the sweat from the back of his neck. “I can’t even seem to score a point today.”
“You do seem a bit distracted…” acknowledged Leroy. “Is everything okay?”
“Yeah, it’s fine, I guess…” shrugged Brad. “Come on, let’s go get a shower. I’m going to have to be back in class soon.”
“What do you mean, you guess?” asked Leroy, following Brad through to the locker-room of the racquetball court. “What’s going on?”
“Well, it’s just that Blake’s lost his job…” explained Brad, as they started peeling off their sweaty t-shirts, stripping down for a post-match shower.
“Fuck, that’s a bit of a kick in the nuts…” acknowledged Leroy. “What happened?”
“They told him that they were down-sizing… Paid him a week’s notice, and that was it…” shrugged Brad. “He never liked working there anyway, so maybe it’s the push he needed to go and figure out what he really wants to do.”
“So, it’s a good thing?” asked Leroy, hanging his towel on one of the nearby hooks and turning on the shower to let the water run hot.
“I’m just a bit worried about the money side of things…” admitted Brad. “If he doesn’t get another job soon, I’m just not sure how we’re going to pay the bills. Obviously my salary is nowhere near enough to support us both.”
“Fair point…” acknowledged Leroy, soaping himself up — the white suds of the soap contrasting sharply against his dark skin. “Has Blake started looking for work?”
“He says he has…” shrugged Brad. “But he doesn’t seem to be making much progress. I’ve been thinking that maybe we should try renting out our spare room for a while, just to bring in some extra cash.”
“Really?” asked Leroy. “Like, a lodger or something?”
“I guess so…” nodded Brad. “Although, I haven’t really thought it through. I’m not even sure where we’d advertise for one. I guess there must be websites or something.”
“I’ve got an idea…” said Leroy. “You know how I work with that charity… Big Brother Little Brother…”
“You talk about it all the time…” smiled Brad. “Obviously I know about your work with Big Brother Little Brother…”
“Well, sometimes we’ve got some of the older kids who we need to try and find accommodation for…” explained Leroy. “Once they’ve left school, we have to try and help them get a job, sort out somewhere to stay, and try and get their lives on track.”
“Where are you going with this?” asked Brad, turning the shower off and grabbing his towel to start drying off.
“Why don’t I see if there’s any of the older kids who are looking for somewhere to stay?” suggested Leroy.
“We need to make some money to pay the bills…” protested Brad. “I’m in no position to be handing out a free room to a homeless teenager.”
“That’s my point…” insisted Leroy. “The charity would pay the bill. They’d pay the rent on the room as part of helping the kid find his feet and get started in the workforce. This way, you’d be doing a good deed and bringing some cash in to help make ends meet.”
“Oh, that does sound like a pretty good option…” considered Brad. “Let me talk it over with Blake tonight and I’ll let you know tomorrow. Wouldn’t they need to screen us or something? Don’t they need to check that we’d be a good influence on whichever kid comes to stay with us?”
“Usually there’s some kind of screening process…” confirmed Leroy, pulling on his clothes as they both started getting dressed. “But I’ll be able to vouch for you, so we’ll be able to fast-track the whole thing.”
“It would be weird to have some young guy in the house…” mused Brad. “I’d feel a bit responsible for him… Like we’d have to set a good example or something.”
“It’s not like you’d have to babysit him or anything…” laughed Leroy. “Whoever they place with you is going to be old enough to do whatever he likes, but the charity just wants someone who can provide a stable and supportive environment.”
“Cool, I think we could manage that…” decided Brad. “Actually, it might be good for us. You know how I keep dropping hints to Blake about maybe getting married, or starting a family or something… Maybe having a younger guy around the house for a while might trigger a few paternal instincts in him.”
“He’s still not interested in getting married?” asked Leroy.
“I think it’s a bit of a lost cause, to be honest…” admitted Brad. “Any time I make any sort of suggestion about it he puts me on blast for being a victim of the heteronormative construct…”
“That’s a bit of a boner-killer…” grinned Leroy.
“Don’t get me started!” groaned Brad. “We haven’t had sex once since he got fired. I’m fucking climbing the walls!”
“I thought you chubbed up pretty quickly in the showers…” teased Leroy.
“You’re not wrong…” confirmed Brad. “I’m on a hair trigger at the moment… the slightest things sets me off. It’s been getting a bit awkward in class, to be honest.”
“You know, I’m always ready and willing if you need a hand to blow off some steam?” suggested Leroy, his eyes locking with Brad’s.
“Fuck… right now there’s nothing I’d like better…” nodded Brad. “But you know that Blake and I have agreed to be monogamous. I don’t want to screw up everything we’ve got just because I couldn’t keep my dick in my pants.”
“I get that…” nodded Leroy. “But, you know I’m always here for you, buddy, and that offer is still on the table if you ever need me to step up to the plate.”
Can I call you Uncle?
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“Why are you limping?” asked Hamish, as he met Charlie for drink after work. They met in Howl At The Moon – it was busy with the after-work crowd.
“It’s a bit embarrassing…” mumbled Charlie, taking the pint of Guinness that Hamish had bought for him.
“A fisting accident?” asked Hamish.
“Nothing like that…” dismissed Charlie. “I’ve got a new job.”
“That’s great news!” said Hamish. “Why is that embarrassing? How is this related to you limping?”
“Um… well, I’ve taken a job with Sweatbox…” explained Charlie.
“Sweatbox?” repeated Hamish. “Sweatbox in Soho? Sweatbox the sauna?”
“Yes, exactly…” nodded Charlie. “They’re renovating at the moment. They called me in for what I thought was some training before they re-opened, but it turned out that the place is still a total building site so I spent the day lugging heavy boxes up and down stairs. Obviously, I’m not really used to manual labour, so now everything hurts. Everything.”
“Back it up…” said Hamish. “What do you mean you’ve taken a job with Sweatbox? What sort of job?”
“Um, just a general kind of team-member job…” shrugged Charlie.
“What the fuck?” laughed Hamish. “Why would you take a job like that? Are you that desperate for money?”
“Pretty much…” nodded Charlie, taking a long drink from his pint of Guinness. “It’s not just that – I thought it would be good for my writing and stuff, but mostly it’s for the money.”
“You are full of surprises…” grinned Hamish. “Wait, isn’t that going to be kind of awkward if I go to Sweatbox and I see you working there?”
“Why would that be awkward?” asked Charlie.
“Because I’m going to be in a towel, about to get my rocks off, and you’re going to be swishing around with a mop and bucket!” exclaimed Hamish. “It’s going to kind of kill the vibe a bit if I know that it’s you who’s going to have to wipe up my cum.”
“When you put it like that, it is a bit awkward…” agreed Charlie. “How often do you go to Sweatbox?”
“Not that often…” shrugged Hamish. “But probably more than you might expect. When do you start?”
“Not sure, to be honest…” replied Charlie. “I think they’re hoping to have it all open by the start of February. Anyway, how was your day?”
“Not bad…” said Hamish. “I spent most of my time working on Brexit-related stuff. Then, this afternoon, I had a meeting – I guess he’s technically my client, but he feels more like my boss. Without the money I get from him, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills.”
“He’s definitely your boss…” decided Charlie. “How did the meeting go?”
“I don’t know, it was weird…” shrugged Hamish. “He just kept saying how tired he was. How stressed he was. I’d gone in there thinking that I was pitching for more work and more money, but he just spent 30 minutes talking at me, telling me things that I already knew. After 30 minutes, he stopped, like he’d run out of things to say. So I said, is there anything else that you need from me today? And he said no. Total waste of time.”
“That’s probably how Theresa May feels…” said Charlie.
“Do not compare me to Theresa May!” declared Hamish, slapping the palm of his hand down onto the bar to emphasise the point. “Are you going to be able to get me a friends and family discount at Sweatbox?”
“I don’t know, to be honest…” shrugged Charlie. “I guess so. They give free entry if you’re under 25.”
“Are you suggesting that I could possibly pass for being younger than 25?” laughed Hamish. “You’re as delusional as Theresa May!”
This is the latest episode of the serial, Hoxton Street.
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