This is the story I originally wrote for the Alternate Voices anthology, but changed my mind. However I would still like it to be read so share it here.
Parents should be warned that there is an M/M love scene in this story. Not suitable for prudes, especially not of the homophobic variety.
Author note: This story takes place in December 1990 on the day when the courthouse was bombed during the Heir to Misfortune case. DS Fox was only a uniformed constable back then, but this story tells of the first time he set eyes on James Lyle.
Also note that James is only nineteen at this time and not prepared to admit to himself that he is gay. Sex between him and Thomas would have been a criminal offence in the United Kingdom at this time since James was under twenty-one.
PC Thomas Fox stood by the police cordon. The wind was like a knife cleaving to his very marrow so he was grateful for the warm coat he was wearing.
All around him there was shouting, bewilderment and unrest.
PC Fox watched as the walking wounded were escorted from the building and checked over by paramedics. He had some idea of what had happened; someone had thrown a bomb through the courthouse window aiming to kill Ashbeck City Councillor Robert Kenyon who had been in the process of pleading Guilty to the murders of Alex Carnegie, nephew of a local entrepreneur, Council security guard Anthony Sawyer and DS Mike Tavernier, on loan to Ashbeck CID at the time of his murder. Kenyon was also pleading not Guilty to the possession of indecent images of minors. He was a nasty piece of work and no mistake, PC Fox thought, privately wishing the bomber had succeeded in their intentions. However he knew from what he had heard amongst the cacophony of raised voices and aftershock that Kenyon had not even been injured and been detained in the courthouse cell block. Being only twenty-three years old PC Fox did not have teenage daughters, but he loathed men who preyed on young men or women with a passion.
PC Fox shivered and stamped his feet to try and get warm. The bright winter sunshine was hurting his eyes.
He knew that there were fathers here, and PC Fox privately wished that the courthouse security would just hand Kenyon over to the lynch mob and save the taxpayer the cost of a trial and subsequent incarceration.
Bit by bit he had pieced things together and he was concerned for his colleagues, DI Lyle, DI Ward and DS Redfern who had been overseeing things.
DI Ward had a long term girlfriend and DI Lyle was married with an adult son and pregnant wife. As far as PC Fox knew there was no one waiting at home for DS Redfern, which he related to because he didn’t have anyone special either.
“PC Fox,” came a voice he knew. He half turned to see Di Lyle being escorted out of the building by a paramedic. DI Lyle was covered in shards of glass and his trousers were ripped exposing blood.
“Guv, are you okay?”
“I’ll live. Look, this is fairly major which means it will be on the local lunchtime news. My wife and son may well come looking for me. I want you to tell them I’m alright.”
“Of course, Guv, but are you really?”
“Mild shock, but I got off lightly. DS Redfern’s legs are cut up badly and DI Ward is in deep shock.”
“Come on please, DI Lyle. We need to get you looked at so that we can have that glass removed and the wound cleaned up,” a female paramedic coaxed. It was a strange pairing as she was almost a foot shorter than DI Lyle
DI Lyle held up his hand and obediently climbed the steps to the back of the ambulance. Given his six feet three inch frame he had to almost bend double to get in and sit down. The ambulance doors closed with a swishing sound and the vehicle moved off.
PC Thomas Fox and his sister, Rosemary, had been raised by their uncle Barry, their father’s identical twin, after their parents had died in a house fire when Thomas was six and Rosemary only four. Dr Barry Fox was the Ashbeck District Coroner so PC Fox was excused from attending inquests as far as possible, owing to their personal relationship. This suited him. Some officers were somewhat squeamish when it came to post-mortems while Fox had a strong stomach.
However Fox and his beat partner and mentor, PC David Delaney, had had no choice but to attend the inquest into the death of Alex Carnegie as they had found his body outside the Ashbeck City Council offices one night shortly before Christmas. They were currently helping Ashbeck CID and PC Fox saw it as a chance to impress and move on into CID permanently. PC Delaney was not so keen on getting on, to him it was just a job and a means to put food on the table and keep his young daughter, Natalie, in memorabilia for whatever latest teenage craze gripped her interest. But for young PC Fox it seemed like a calling, a genuine vocation in the name of truth and justice. Delaney admired the lad’s sharpness and keen interest, but privately thought he was a bit too young. What he did not know was that the previous year an event had forced young PC Fox to grow up too quickly. He had told no one about what had happened to him that freezing night. He had not yet met the right person in whom he could confide.
People had tried to get past the cordon, but PC Fox had stopped them, as was his duty. He realised that some people might be concerned about relatives who would have gone to the court to hear Kenyon plead, but effectively the courthouse was a crime scene and any entry by the public would contaminate and destroy evidence.
PC Fox longed for a cigarette and a cup of tea, but such things were not permissible while on public duty. PC Delaney was a thirty a day smoker, but PC Fox indulged only rarely, usually when stressed. One packet of twenty could last him a month or more.
A woman walked towards him, she was heavily pregnant and Indian, wearing western clothing. She was pretty if you liked that sort of thing. With her was a young man.
It was the young man who caught PC Fox’s interest. He was taller by a couple of inches, with short cropped blonde hair and intense blue eyes. Thomas had to force himself to concentrate, but the young man’s proximity was making his body respond in ways he’d sooner it didn’t while he was on duty. The hairs on his forearms and neck bristled and sweat trickled down his back. He swallowed hard, his mouth was dry. He was aroused and hoped it wasn’t obvious. None of his Ashbeck Nick colleagues knew that he was gay and that was the way he preferred to keep it. The police force was still a somewhat macho institution. WPC Paula Mahon knew, but she was hardly likely to out him since she was a lesbian herself. His Uncle Barry, Aunt Sylvia and sister, Rosemary knew, but they were absolutely fine with it. Aunt Sylvia had been a bit weird at first, but she’d never liked his previous boyfriends. Thomas knew that often it was mothers who had more of an issue with gay sons and Sylvia was the closest thing to a mother he had. He barely remembered his own mother, Yvonne or father, Matthew, Barry’s twin. He had often wondered what they would have thought about him being gay.
Thomas was tired of coming home to an empty flat, of not having someone to drink beer and watch TV with or make love to. He wanted a gorgeous young man to rock his world. This stranger was doing things to him he could not contemplate at that point in time. He snapped out of his adoration and forced himself to concentrate.
“You can’t go beyond here.” He said. “This place is a crime scene.”
“My dad was here,” the young man said, “This is my step-mother, we’ve come to look for him.”
“You’re DI Lyle’s son right?” Thomas smiled.
“Yeah, I’m James. This is my step-mum, Jayseera, known as DC Lyle in Ashbeck CID.”
“I’m PC Thomas Fox. He thought you might be looking for him. He said to tell you he was okay, but they took him to Ashbeck General to get checked over.”
“Is he badly hurt?” DC Lyle asked.
“A few cuts and bruises, plus mild shock, but he’s walking wounded like most of them.”
He did not tell her about DS Redfern and DI Ward since she probably knew them fairly well being in CID.
Both PC Fox and James were aware of the sharp exiting breath of relief from Jayseera.
“I’m helping CID with this enquiry,” Thomas said, hoping he wasn’t sounding distracted or nervous. Inwardly he was deflated because he knew that DI Lyle’s son was only nineteen, “My beat partner and I found Kenyon’s first victim a few days before Christmas.”
James was very aware of Thomas and glad that Jayseera was otherwise distracted by worry over his dad. James felt aroused in a way he hadn’t done since he was sixteen and then it had been a man who’d aroused him too. He knew that he was gay but as yet had not admitted it to himself. He found himself wondering what it would be like for PC Fox to kiss him, remove his clothing and caress his naked body. But James was only nineteen so sex with another man would be a criminal offence. He wanted him though. Even though it was bitterly cold he felt like he was burning up with lust.
“Come on Jayseera, I’ll take you to Ashbeck General.” James said. He was torn between wanting to stay and chat to Thomas and going to see the father he idolised.
“Thanks,” she said.
Thomas watched James walk away into the crowd with his arm around Jayseera’s shoulders. He sighed deeply.
James was relieved to find that the father he loved was relatively unscathed. Jayseera was concerned that DI Ward was being kept in; he had not been badly injured physically, but suffering badly from shock. Six months before joining Ashbeck CID from the fraud squad in nineteen eighty-seven DI Ward’s home had been firebombed by the relative of someone he had put away. Thankfully DI Ward and his girlfriend, Diana, had not been home at the time, but DI Lyle suspected that the memory of what had happened then would have been exacerbated by that morning’s events in the courtroom.
They took DS Redfern home on their way. His hands had been cut so he was not allowed to drive.
Jayseera was tired so Frank made tea for them. James ate and then went to his room saying he had to finish an essay.
But once in his room James lay down on the bed. He knew he would not be able to concentrate because his mind was filled with thoughts of PC Thomas Fox. Once again he wondered what it would be like to be kissed and touched by the gorgeous young copper with those incredible dark eyes that James had felt sure he would drown in if he’d looked into them deeply. He entertained hot fantasies of being strip-searched and was relieved that no one had appeared to notice that he was so hard. He was sweating as he closed his eyes and pictured Thomas in that uniform.
James had met several young women who were considered attractive both at university and college, but his prick didn’t even stir if they brushed past him in the corridor or student union bar. Being nineteen and knowing you were gay was inconvenient because, even if some guy felt the same he could not have sex without committing a criminal offence, which would have meant the end of James’ aspirations to join the Crown Prosecution Service. He had no idea how old PC Fox was of course and he could not ask his dad too many questions.
When James had been sixteen he had gone on a school camping trip to Wales. His friend, Bryn, had also gone. Bryn had not been sixteen yet. They and three other boys had sneaked off at night to visit a ruined church with a supposedly haunted crypt and one of the boys had dared them to spend the night there. At one point all their torches had gone out and Bryn had clung to James in the darkness. James had gotten a huge erection. The next day they’d been allowed free time so had gone for a walk. They’d kissed but never really talked about their feelings. When they left school Bryn had gone to work with his father at the same funeral director’s firm and James had gone to do his A-Levels. They had exchanged the odd Christmas card but not seen each other since.
James wondered about going to see Bryn, he had to talk to someone else who, like him, was sexually attracted to men but unable to act on it legally. None of his straight male friends would understand. Bryn had been rather cute, with a mop of unruly dark hair and brown eyes. He’d also had a Welsh accent to die for. Bryn and Thomas became mixed up in his head and he had fevered wet dreams that night. He always slept naked and wondered if Thomas did too.
James finally fell asleep with a smile on his face..
PC Thomas Fox was exhausted when he got home that evening. Long hours of standing in the cold had made him numb.
He ran himself a hot bath and soaked for a while, washing his hair and ridding himself of a five o’clock shadow. He then pierced the film on a microwaveable fish pie and nuked it for ten minutes. He ate without really tasting it.
He sat down and flicked through the TV channels but there wasn’t anything on that he wanted to watch. There was one person consuming his concentration and that was James Lyle. Now he was alone he could let his fantasies run wild. He was consumed by thoughts of undressing the gorgeous young man, running his hands all over James’ body, of kissing him. His prick throbbed painfully. James was probably straight, but he could not know for sure. Thomas wanted to hold him close. After the bad experience last year he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to manage anyway. The idea of physical and emotional intimacy with someone frightened him at that time because he was still emotionally raw and would find it hard to trust someone enough to let him get close. His career in the police meant everything to him and to have that taken away because of an indiscretion seemed harsh, but he was under no illusions that that was what would happen if he was known to have bedded a man under twenty-one. It seemed crazy that James was old enough to drink, but not have sex. Well he could legally have sex with a woman over sixteen, but not a man. He didn’t know why he felt so tense and uptight about this, after all they had only spoken for the briefest time. But those few moments had left a lasting impression on him.
Frank had already gone to work when James came downstairs the following morning. Jayseera was in the kitchen drinking tea.
“Do you want breakfast?” She asked.
“I’ll make it, you take it easy.” James replied.
While he’d been in the shower that morning, imagining what showering with Thomas would be like, James had done a lot of thinking.
He trusted Jayseera, she was a wonderful woman who loved and respected his dad. But he wasn’t sure how she’d react if he confessed to fancying men. He knew that Hindus had no problems with homosexuality and Jayseera was broad-minded. But she was a copper and James didn’t need to be reminded that he was legally too young for a sexual relationship with another man.
James was pretty sure his dad would not have a problem with him being gay, but somehow he had a feeling that his mother, Sarah, might not be so accepting of the fact. No, he would say nothing. He’d go and talk to Bryn, he’d understand better than anyone else could.
James made himself a bacon sandwich and cup of coffee. Jayseera could not drink coffee due to her pregnancy, the taste made her nauseous. She’d been owed leave so she’d given up work at six months and intended to return to work a few months after the baby was born. James looked forward to having a half brother or sister. His older step-brother, Jez, was in prison for murder and they’d never been close mainly due to the age difference.
“So do you want a boy or a girl?” James asked.
“I don’t mind as long as the baby’s healthy, although with the case your dad’s investigating at the moment part of me hopes it’ll be a boy.”
She sipped her tea.
“So what are your plans for today?”
“Oh I ran into an old friend from school the other day and we agreed to meet, catch up sort of thing.”
“That’s nice. Is your friend at university?”
“No, Bryn’s dad is an undertaker so he followed him into the business. Bryn isn’t stupid by any means, but he didn’t think he was cut out for college.”
“It’s not for everyone.” Jayseera said, “Your dad didn’t go and he’s done pretty well for himself. Bryn, is that a Welsh name?”
“Yes, he’s from Swansea originally, but he’s lived in Ashbeck since he was about seven.”
“Don’t tell your dad, but I used to melt over Welsh accents when I was younger.” She grinned.
.”The girls at school used to go a bit gaga over Bryn’s.” James said.
James finished his breakfast and did the washing up.
He left soon after, he was sure where he would find Bryn if he wasn’t at the Asquith, Lloyd and Evans funeral parlour.
It was a Sunday. Ashbeck County Court did not usually function on Saturdays, but with the New Year holiday fast approaching and the Kenyon case being a matter of intense public interest, the elected judge, Justice Henry Moran, had agreed to preside. It would be a feather in his cap to get Kenyon into custody so that everyone in Ashbeck could start the New Year with a feeling that justice had been done.
James didn’t know if undertakers worked on Sundays, he knew that no funerals were held then. Sure enough he found the premises of Asquith, Lloyd & Evans locked up.
He went to Bryn’s house. He had been there several times during their schooldays. They used to do homework together and play video games.
The door was opened by a short lady with dark curly hair like Bryn’s.
“James, we haven’t seen you in a long time. How are you?”
“I’m fine thanks Mrs Evans, I wondered if Bryn was at home?”
“He’s in the bath at the moment, but please come in and wait, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to see.”
James went inside and Mrs Evans offered him tea. He accepted as it was still very cold out.
“So what are you doing now?”
“I’m studying Law in Reading,” James said.
“You always were the brighter one. Bryn isn’t stupid see, but he was never that good at book learning.”
“An undertaker is a noble profession, I’m not sure I could do it.” James said.
“I would have thought you’d have followed your dad into the police.”
“I haven’t totally ruled it out, but I thought if I got a degree under my belt it would give me more options.”
“No, mainly walking wounded as far as I can tell. No one was killed at least.”
Talking about the previous day made James tense because he was recalling every detail of his encounter with PC Thomas Fox.
A voice came from upstairs
“Mam, have you any clean towels?”
“I just put some in the airing cupboard Bryn love,” she called back.
“Thanks.” Bryn called back.
Moments later Bryn walked into the kitchen in a clean pair of tight black cords and a white t-shirt. His hair was tousled and still looked wet. He stopped short when he saw James.
“My God, I didn’t think I’d ever see you again. How are you?”
“I’m good thanks Bryn,” James smiled.
“Well I’ll leave you boys to it,” Mrs Evans said, “I have to go shopping,” she smiled at James, “Bryn and his dad eat enough to feed two armies see.”
They laughed. Mrs Evans put on her coat and moments later they heard the front door shut behind her.
“Is your dad in?” James asked.
“Aye, but he’s in his study doing paperwork.”
“I need to talk to you about something,” James swallowed, “I can’t talk to anyone else about this.”
“We’ll go up to my room,” Bryn said, grabbing a large bag of potato chips, a pot of salsa dip and two 500ml bottles of Coke. Bryn was by no means overweight so James guessed he must have good metabolism. He wondered if PC Fox ate a lot or if he worked out.
They settled in Bryn’s room and James surveyed the walls. There were a couple of posters of George Michael, who had always been Bryn’s number one celebrity crush, and one poster of a dark haired guy with dark eyes. This guy was shirtless and wearing tight shorts which left little to the imagination.
“I’ve always wondered, what might have happened after that trip to Wales, if we’d been older.” Bryn said.
“So have I, but it wasn’t to be. We were too young then and we still are now, that’s the way the law is,” James sighed.
“I had some well dirty thoughts about what I’d like to have done to you though,” Bryn grinned.
“I did too.” James said.
“I went out with a guy earlier this year, just for a couple of drinks and to the cinema. He fondled my cock and it, well it drove me crazy.” Bryn said, “Most of the time though, soon as they find out I’m only nineteen they don’t want to know and I can’t say I blame them for that.”
Bryn sipped from his bottle of Coke.
“James, is it only full sex that we can’t do? Are two men allowed to give each other blow jobs if they’re under twenty-one?”
“To be honest I’m not sure and don’t think I’m gonna ask my dad.”
“Does your dad know that you like men?”
“My Dad and I are close, but I don’t think he suspects anything. I’ve been in denial since what happened in Wales, I’ve tried really hard to fancy girls but I just can’t.”
“So what is making you come here to talk to me about it now?”
“My Dad was injured in the explosion at the courthouse yesterday. My step-mum and I went to look for him after hearing about it on the lunchtime news. Guarding the cordon was a cop who was male perfection personified. Oh God Bryn, he’s got me in a right lather and when he realised who I was his face crumpled, like he realised my age., I know my dad talks to his colleagues about me because he’s proud.”
“It’s so unfair because, if you’re nineteen and gay, you can have a drink, but you can’t have sex whereas straight guys younger than us can have sex with girls and it just doesn’t seem fair.”
Bryn moved close to James and James didn’t push his hand away when it caressed the top of his thigh.
“I still want you see,” Bryn whispered making James shiver at the sensation of warm breath in his ear.
“I want to know what it’s like,” James whispered.
“We can experiment a bit, apart from the real thing,” Bryn said, “Then, in two years time, we won’t seem so inadequate.”
“It would be classed as gross indecency,” James warned, “But I don’t see how touching a perfect male body can be indecent. Why don’t young girls who go around wearing next to nothing get done for gross indecency?”
“If we did get caught I suspect we may get cautioned,” James said, “But who’s going to know?”
Bryn locked the door. Sitting back besides James he slid his hand in James’ track pants and inside his boxer shorts. James moaned as Bryn began to fondle his cock which was hard in moments. Bryn quickly put the radio on to drown out any sounds.
Bryn pulled James trousers down and knelt on the floor. James felt sweat drench him as Bryn’s hand and mouth began to work his cock, licking and sucking from tip to shaft and back again. Bryn fondled James’ balls until James shot his load into his friend’s mouth.
They undressed and lay on the bed naked. Bryn sat on James, licking his nipples and caressing his muscular form.
James was panting.
“Talk dirty to me Bryn, caress my ear with that accent of yours, it makes me so hard.”
Bryn whispered his fantasies in his friend’s ear. He had wanted James for years and even if they could not go all the way no one would know if they went some way to satisfying each other’s lust for male flesh. James greedily sucked Bryn’s cock imagining he was going down on PC Fox.
“What’s your fantasy cop’s name?” Bryn asked.
“Thomas,” James said, He indicated the poster of the barely clad young man, “He looks a lot like that actually, in the face I mean because obviously I’ve never seen him shirtless.”
“More’s the pity eh?” Bryn said.
“Yeah,” James sighed.
“Well, for years I’ve fantasised about what you look like naked and I’m happy to say the reality beats every expectation hands down.”
“I’m glad you approve,” James laughed slapping Bryn on the shoulder.
They held each other for a time but James knew that Bryn was listening out for activity elsewhere in the house.
“Will you wait for me, James?” Bryn asked, “Until we’re old enough. I mean?”
“Bryn, I can’t make promises like that.” James sighed, “Who knows where we will both be in two years from now. I don’t know for definite if Thomas is gay, although I felt like he was checking me out. Mind you that could have been wishful thinking on my part.”
“Thanks for being honest with me, James,” Bryn swallowed and blinked away the tears beginning to well up in his eyes.
“I know you love me,” James said, “But I’m not sure how I feel about anything right now. Coming to terms with being gay is a scary and confusing thing, as I am sure you realise.”
“Well at least I’ll have the memory of this.” Bryn said, “Go, go now. I’m sorry but I can’t deal with this right now.”
They didn’t speak as they got dressed and finished up the chips and dip.
They went downstairs just as Bryn’s mum came back from the supermarket.
“Won’t you stay and have some lunch with us?” Mrs Evans asked.
“I can’t I’m afraid, I have a mountain of coursework to get done.” James apologised.
James left and felt the raw chill of the wind. He was more confused than ever. The previous day a fit young cop had made a lasting impression on him, for days afterwards it would be the lasting memory of a young man with a tear-stained face whose heart he had good as broken that would haunt him.
James wished he had not gone stirring things up, but Bryn had been in the same position as him, being gay and unable to legally act on his desires. He doubted he’d ever see PC Fox again and did not dare ask his dad for more information about the young copper.
“I really should not have done any of that,” James berated himself all the way home.
But the lasting impression of PC Thomas Fox was to linger in his mind a lot longer than the impression of Bryn’s emotional distress. James had been as honest with Bryn as he could and Bryn had thanked him for that. He had to hope it would be okay.
Somehow though he had a feeling it would be, in all respects. Bryn would get to twenty-one and find a handsome boyfriend of his own and James would be a distant memory.
He hoped that the impression he had given Bryn of his nakedness would be just that, an impression which did not last.
Juliet B Madison is the author & creator of the DI Frank Lyle Mystery series
She has published five full length DI Lyle Mysteries, three volumes of novellas and one single novella.
Juliet is single and has no children by choice. She has had Type 1 Diabetes since August 1979.
When not writing Juliet enjoys spending time with friends, messing about on Facebook and reading crime novels.
Like DI Frank Lyle, Juliet is also a huge fan of American singer/songwriter Joan Baez.