Authors: Sean Kennedy
Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Gay
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 2
THE FIRST SUPPER
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 3
Text Copyright © Sean Kennedy, 2012
Cover by Catt Ford, © 2012.
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 4
A couple of years ago I wrote a
Tigers and Devils
short as a Christmas freebie “thank you” to readers. I intended to do it the next year, making it a sort of tradition, but about the only thing I do properly in life is procrastinate. Not so this year!
I have to admit it’s fun going ‘back in time’ to revisit Simon and Dec at various points in their lives, and giving little slices of life that couldn’t be covered in the books. It does make me wonder about the three years in between
Tigers and Devils
I hope you have wonderful holidays. Please feel sorry for us Aussies as we swelter in the heat and can only dream of a white Christmas.
And thank you, once again.
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 5
MY FATHER’S FORK bounced off his plate as he threw it down. “You’re…
honestly… trying to tell me that you think Ron Barrassi is the greatest coach of all time?”
It had come down to this. Dec and I had been outed as a couple for two months and our parents had all never been in the same room together. Until now.
We thought it was a necessary thing to do before Christmas. Not that Dec and I had made any decisions about Christmas yet, especially with the fact that he would be having his operation before then and would most likely have limited mobility during the festive season.
I had already started hanging up my decorations even though it was still November. My parents sat beneath a banner that had seen better days, with a Santa that looked infirm and a Rudolph who was missing a nose. Dec’s parents were faring better, with a wreath that was home to a lopsided red breasted robin. My decorations were like my house, ramshackle and in need of some work. Having so many parents witness to it all made me see them for what they were, and I resolved that I would have to pull out the big bucks and shop for new ones.
But back to my father. Patrick Murray’s face was contorting not unlike that of Linda Blair in the seminal film classic - Roller Boogie. Believe me, trying to act on roller-skates is much more challenging than playing a demon-possessed inappropriately-masturbating teenager.
Everyone at the dinner table was frozen, awaiting Declan’s father’s reaction. In total contrast to my father Barry laid down his fork carefully and folded his arms. “I would suppose you’d think it was Kevin Sheedy.”
“You’d be right!”
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 6
Barry snorted. “You’re not displaying any Essendon bias there at all.”
“A fact’s a fact, that’s all I’m saying.”
“Yeah, he was so good they had to sack him in the end.”
The neck of the wine bottle crashed against my glass as I refilled it, making everyone jump. Five sets of eyes now focused upon me. I took a hasty gulp, knowing it was up to me to get the subject off the one man both my parents would willingly kill for. “Mmm, I detect a hint of licorice, if I’m not mistaken. Maybe cardamom?”
“He always has to be the centre of attention,” my mother said apologetically to Dec’s mum. Thankfully, Rae sat on the fence and didn’t commit to public opinion on the matter.
I rolled my eyes at Dec, and he grimaced.
Thankfully, however, my near breakage of glassware stopped the great debate of AFL
Coach Supremacy for the moment. Everybody started eating again, making the appropriate polite noises but not embarking upon any new topic of conversation. It was probably for the best.
“Jack Hafey.” The words were out before I could stop them. I actually heard Dec groan beside me.
“Don’t bring Richmond into this,” my dad warned.
“Jack Hafey was a brilliant tactician,” I said.
“I’ll give him his dues,” Mum agreed. Kindly on her behalf, I’d venture to guess. She really did love me.
“It was also the last time you ever had any success as a team,” Dec’s dad said.
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 7
I could feel my blood surge. Maybe I was more like my dad than I thought. “Our time is coming again.”
Hearty laughter burst around the table. I was half expecting the wine glasses to shatter under the sudden pressure.
But at least it had temporarily raised the white flag between both fathers.
“I am so sick of football talk,” Rae said.
Spoke too soon. It was now her turn to have the eyes of doom fall upon her.
“I’m just saying…”
“Anyway,” I said, desperate to put an end to this once and for all (even though I had started it again in the first place). “When Dec eventually gets the opportunity, some point when he’s retired---”
Dec was now giving me the evil eye.
“---which I’m sure will be many years from now, he will be the best coach ever of whatever team he chooses. Surely we can all agree on that.”
This pleased his parents, and even my parents had to graciously accept that nice little dream, but the man himself still didn’t look very pleased.
“You’re drunk, Simon.”
“Not enough,” I murmured, although not as quietly as I wished.
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 8
Rae gave me a small smile above the rim of her glass. I smiled back, but I think it was more of a gargoyle visage.
Some people just can’t take a compliment.
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 9
“THEY’RE ONLY FIGHTING about the football.”
I was sculling another glass of wine, having fled to the relative safety of the kitchen. I could still hear the buzz of parental units talking from the other room, but it didn’t sound like anybody was sword-fighting with butter knives. Maybe with the next round of drinks and footy talk.
Dec took my glass before I could refill it. “Slow down, tiger.”
Now he was a comedian. “So you’re saying it could be worse?”
“It could always be worse.”
My legs felt rubbery, and the room was spinning slightly. I let myself fall upon the floor, and Maggie poked her head out from where she was hiding in the laundry. A raucous laugh boomed out of the dining room and she darted back into hiding again. Declan hovered over me, looking impossibly tall while framed by the kitchen light.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Do I look okay?” I wanted another wine.
“You look… melodramatic.”
I waited for him to continue with the obvious and say that was my normal look, but when he didn’t I reached up for his hand and dragged him down beside me. He narrowly missed whacking his head against mine as he landed on his elbow and lost his balance.
“So I’m melodramatic,” I said. “Sue me.”
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 10
“There are other things I would rather be doing to you.” His breath was hot against my ear, but he was trying too hard to distract me.
“Our parents are in the next room!” I yelled. “They can probably hear you!”
Dec winced. “I don’t think it’s me they’re hearing right now.”
“The captain of the Hindenburg would think this was a disaster.”
He chuckled to himself. “I’ll add hyperbolic to your list of character traits, shall I?”
I couldn’t help but grin. “You’re defying the footballer stereotype again with your two dollar words.”
Giving a little groan as he fully settled himself beside me, he rubbed his knee.
“What are you doing?”
“Sitting with you, dummy.”
“Yeah, obviously, but what about your knee? You’re rubbing it.”
“It’s a bit sore.”
I didn’t even want to think about it. He would be going under the knife soon, and the thought of that scared the shit out of me. It wasn’t a life threatening operation by any means, but the doctors loved to scare you nowadays by convincing everyone you would possibly die on the table so your family couldn’t sue the hospital afterwards. I had so far managed to go through my life without anybody close to me requiring serious medical attention and my imagination was going into serious overdrive. Even more so than usual.
Dec caught my obviously troubled expression. “Hey, it’ll come good.”
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 11
“Yep. The family, the knee, everything.”
The buzz of the alcohol was wearing off; I had sobered myself due to simple morbid thoughts. Or possibly I could have just been drunker than I thought and every emotion was amplified.
Dec’s body warmth enveloped me as his arm settled around my shoulder and I automatically leaned in further. He kissed me just above the ear, and I felt the anxiety of the evening begin to drain from me. It was funny how he could do that.
“You stress far too much,” Dec whispered. “They seem fine, and really, what could we do if they didn’t get along?”
“Your Zen approach is annoying.”
“Lucky you love me, then.”
“Lucky for me it goes both ways.”
We were just about to kiss when somebody cleared their throat.
“Is it getting a bit too much for you in there?”
We both jumped, and looked up to find Dec’s mum had entered the kitchen. Damn, she needed a bell and a collar. Maggie could learn a thing or two from her about sneaking around.
“We’re fine,” Dec said.
She reached for my bottle of wine and poured herself a glass. “Is that why you’re both hiding on the floor? I needed to escape or else I would have been sent off field.”
THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 12
“We’re not hiding,” I lied.
“No. We weren’t. But Simon was,” Dec said, dobbing me in. “I’m just here for moral support.”
“Honey, your knee,” his mother chided him.
I don’t think Dec was even aware he was rubbing it again. I hid my smile behind my hand. It was nice to see him being mothered.
“My knee, my knee,” Dec mimicked. I elbowed him in the side, a warning to be nice. “Ow, my ribs.”
“It’s not going too badly, is it?” Sheila asked. “I think we’re all on our best behaviour. As long as nobody mentions Fitzroy becoming Brisbane, that is.”
“Good thing Roger isn’t here, then,” I said. I could only imagine the fallout from that nuclear blast.
She smiled, and looked like she was about to say something, but stopped herself.
“Oh, mum, spit it out,” Dec sighed. I was in the dark, not having learned her subtle body language yet.
“No, it’s okay, I told you nobody would be embarrassing anybody tonight.”
“Except for Drunk Simon.”
“I’m sober now,” I grumbled.
And I became aware that Dec’s arm was still around me. This was the first public display of affection we had showed in front of any of our parents. Well, except for the whole THE FIRST SUPPER: A TIGERS AND DEVILS SHORT 13
photoset of our kiss in the gardens of St Vincent’s Hospital that was published in the Herald Sun. If you wanted to get technical about it, it was our first live PDA.
We were just so caught up in our own bubble at that moment we hadn’t even been aware of it. And Dec was allowing his arm to continue resting there, as if it was only natural to be hugging his boyfriend in front of his mum. Of course it was natural, and I was pissed off at myself for thinking of it in that way first off, but it was still a surprise.