I Escaped, But Only Just - Part 9: Crisis
Meanwhile, Les continued to call on us at the house.
'I'm off on my paper round, 'he said, leaning against his bike. 'Do you want to come?'
I had a rare headache and was feeling low, so I agreed. Robin joined us. The three of us wandered up the hill, Les pushing his bike along.
He stopped by a post box and took out a packet of cigarettes. 'I smoke. But you're not to say a word to anyone. Promise?'
'Yeah, all right then,' I said, yawning.
In the past I'd had the occasional puff of a cigarette, finding it awful and heady. I was fifteen now. Surely, one cigarette wouldn't hurt.
'It might make me sick.' I'd heard some stories of kids chucking their guts out after a few cigarettes.
'It's up to you,' he said. 'But if you're not going to smoke the cigarette, give it back.'
I lit the cigarette and enjoyed it. From then on, Les kept us in a regular supply of cigarettes. We would go to his house on Thursday evenings to smoke and watch the TV, his influence over us deepening with each visit.
'Just popping over to Les' with a book he asked me to return,' I said.
'Well, don't be long,' my mother called. 'Its Friday night. I don't like you two boys going out on Shabbos.'
'I'm not going,' Robin said.
'Oh? Have you and Les fallen out?'
'No, I have stuff to do upstairs.'
'See you later,' I said, and ran off with the book. I hurried down the side path at the end of the row of terraced houses, across the clearing to Les' backyard. The house was dark. I let myself into the yard and banged on the door. 'Your book,' I said when he answered.
'Cheers,' he said. 'Coming in?'
'Yes, okay then, ' I said, following him through to the lounge where a slim pale face lad with pimples was sitting on the couch, aged around fifteen or sixteen.
'This is Dennis.'
'Hi, ' I said.
'I've run out of cigarettes,' Les said.
'And I've used up my pocket money. Dennis hasn't got any money either. We're f****'
'Not to worry. Another time.'
'Dennis is staying the night,' Les said.
'Are your parents not in?' I said, noticing the stillness for the first time.
'Gone to see a show. Trude's spending the night with her best friend.' Les nodded at an armchair. 'Sit down and make yourself comfy. I want to talk to you.'
'Dennis here thinks you're gay,' Les began.
'Yes, you look like a gay person,' Dennis said.
'I've already told you, I'm not gay.'
'How do you know you're not?' Dennis said.
'Because I know I'm not.'
'Some people are both, ' Dennis said.
'I'm not either. I mean, I'm not gay or bi.'
'We've been talking,' Les said. 'Isn't that right, Dennis?'
'Yes,' he said, leering at me.
'And we've decided that it's impossible to know you're straight unless you've tried it with another boy first. Do you know what I mean? Maybe you're secretly gay or bi. I think you are.'
Les and Dennis exchanged a glance. 'My parents won't be back till late,' Les said.
'Ready?' Les said.
'I blocked out the experience. Pretended to be elsewhere while it was happening. Dennis watched in silence, his expression giving nothing away. Then, it was over and I hurried away into the night.
'Don't say a word to anyone,' Les called after me.
Btw - for years, I believed that I'd given in willingly; that I should have said 'No', or walked away. But life isn't like a game's board, life isn't black and white - at the time, I had no understanding of boundaries or assertiveness. What took place that night meets the legal requirements for rape, as manipulation cancels out Consent - and Detectives in the UK agreed with this.
The next post shows how truly deadly Les could potentially be.