Fic: The Boy and the Box

Viggo lied, when he said he’d be out. On the bench in the kitchen, the empty glass jug is set beside the coffee maker, bottom tinged glossy amber; charcoal sticks pepper a torn-out page of a spiral parchment pad. Through the door to the lounge room, a thin jacket lies across the arm of a chair.

Orlando’s beach sandals slap as they strike the floorboards. He calls down into the narrow corridor to the rest of the house. There is no answer.

Down the corridor Orlando goes. He looks out through the glass door out onto the deck, and there is Viggo, with his elbows on the rail, solid back curved comfortably.

It’s getting on in the afternoon, as well you’d think, the way Orlando’s arms ache from paddling against the rip and his sinuses itch with dried salt water — even the backs of his thighs have decided to smart from sticking to the vinyl in the back seat of Billy’s car. The line of Viggo’s turned jaw is sharp with slanting sun. Viggo has no drink sitting on the rail, nothing with him — he is merely looking out over the grass.

Orlando imagines what Viggo would say if Orlando asked what he were looking at, and his sinuses itch more.

Instead, Orlando says, “Here you are.” Viggo’s jaw cuts the light and lets it fall; he smiles.

 

There are more lies. The weekend before last, when Orlando came by, Viggo did not answer the door either, but when Orlando tried the handle on the screen, it gave way. He pushed through the striped bars of dust motes into the innards of the house, and found Viggo reading, stretched out silent and still on the couch.

Viggo blinked and looked up, and said, “Hey.” And a moment later, as Orlando stood by the door, hands in pockets, “I made some coffee a while back.”

So Orlando went into the kitchen. A single plate, a knife, a fork and a glass shone clean in the dish rack. The light was out on the coffee machine, and when gingerly he touched the glass of the jug, it was quite tepid. Curling both his palms around its girth, he found the afterimage of warmth.

He went back into the lounge room and sat in the armchair across from Viggo. Viggo turned the page, and there was the twang of a spring deep in the couch. Viggo had couch cushion hair, though it wasn’t terribly different to his normal hair.

Orlando got up and clambered over Viggo to look at the book, knee sinking deep between the cushions, aside Viggo’s hip. It was all js and ks and circles over the letters — which had to be Danish. Orlando said, “Whatcha reading?”

Viggo said, “Nothing much.” Except his eyes wandered back to the page while he was still saying, “thing.”

Orlando stayed there. At last Viggo looked up and said, “You’re, uh, looking to drag me somewhere?”

 

Early on, he had gone for a day hike with Viggo. They had got through the rocky bits under the trees and then Viggo had taken his boots off to walk on the grass, though Orlando hadn’t. Viggo had tanned feet.

And then Viggo laughed as Orlando foundered, wading across the shallow crossing of the stream, and got his jeans wet up to the thigh. Viggo helped him up as well, and got the hem of his own shorts wet. Viggo’s palm was firm and leathery against the inside of Orlando’s wrist; the weight of his braced body was steady. By the time they got to the other side, Orlando was smiling again.

Viggo strode off up the next rise, and when he got there, Orlando saw him stop, and stand, and look. Then Orlando got up there, and Viggo touched Orlando’s forearm.

Orlando said, looking out, “That’s really fantastic, that is.”

Viggo’s hand dropped, and he looked down. When he looked up again, he smiled, and they went on.

On the spine of the next rise they stopped again, and Orlando made himself start counting to ten in his head before he said anything. But Viggo just swigged from his bottle and said, “Nice, huh?”

The third time they stopped was in the dimness half way up another rise, beneath trees heavy overhead. Orlando looked and looked, but there was barely a line of sight to anywhere, and he couldn’t tell what they were looking at.

Viggo said, “I gotta take a piss.”

He had crashed off into the undergrowth. Orlando had waited, wet denim clinging to his thighs.

 

When Viggo has been lying a lot, it makes Orlando think about things. Today, driving back from the beach, Orlando was on the side in the back seat and Dom’s heavy, salt-bristly head kept lolling onto his shoulder, and on the other side Elijah was lolling onto Dom.

When they got back to the sealed road and the suspension stopped jolting, Orlando pushed Dom gently away toward Elijah, until Dom resettled over his centre of gravity. Orlando said, “Bah, come on, wake up, you bastards.”

But Billy looked at him in the rear view mirror and said, “Ah, let the poor lads sleep. You can keep me awake.”

“Try and stop him,” Dom said blearily. He leaned toward Elijah, and Elijah put an arm around him and let him settle his head against his shoulder.

“Aw, love you too, man,” Elijah murmured, eyes still closed.

“Piss off,” Orlando said mildly to Dom. He shifted to unstick his thigh from the seat. “You still whinging about me talking during the news? What do you care about bloody wheat tariffs for, anyway?”

Dom grunted softly.

“I talk during the news at home, anyway,” Orlando said. “You don’t have to watch it just because it’s there. If there’s something my mum wants to hear, she’ll just say, ‘Give it a rest, love.'”

“Then I s’pose you go outside and talk to the clothesline,” Dom said, muffled in Elijah’s t-shirt.

“Actually,” Orlando said, “sometimes when I got home from school and there was no one to talk to, I used to go outside and talk to Maud.” He itched his leg to get some sand off it. The seaside scrub was giving way to forest proper, so he took his sunglasses off. He said, “Now there’s a conversationalist. None of the bitching and moaning you get with some people.”

“Bloomin’ Christ!” Dom said. “Not even the dog is safe!”

“Eh, eh, eh!” Billy protested from the front seat. “That’s a bit rough.”

“Yeah,” Orlando said, not without feeling. He twirled his sunglasses. “You know you love it, anyway.” He knocked his knee into Dom’s.

 

The first time wasn’t Viggo’s idea. It wouldn’t be, would it.

There was something in the way Viggo said, “Well, good night,” outside Orlando’s trailer as the trees shifted darkly overheard, a gentleness that in daylight, in company, might have made Orlando’s diaphragm tighten, his nose wrinkle. But Orlando was warm and buzzy and beery, and he hugged Viggo, leaves scuffing underfoot as he craned. Viggo gave an mmph.

Viggo had that older men’s sweat smell: faintly meaty, and there was the sheer, solid breadth of his torso when Orlando wrapped his arms around it, and Viggo’s face was just there, his mouth right there, and Orlando kissed Viggo, wet and messy. He dragged up Viggo’s shirt up at the back; hooked his leg around Viggo’s solid thigh.

His stomach lurched from thinking about what Viggo was about to do, what Viggo was about to say, but his body seemed to have lost all its vocabulary except for lurches, and all of them were forward-ways.

Viggo was very still, if it were possible to be different degrees of still, which Orlando thought not, and also that he was going to be sick.

Viggo wasn’t still after all. His mouth was finding a rhythm with Orlando’s and he was giving quite another sort of mmph.

Viggo’s hands ran along Orlando’s back, and over his arse, and then he was rubbing high up under the thigh Orlando had hooked around him, terribly high up and under, and his beard was prickling under Orlando’s chin, wet with saliva, and over his voice box, and around under his ear, and Orlando had his fingers tight in Viggo’s hair.

And the trees made night rustles, and the breeze flickered and died and flickered again, and it went on, and Orlando’s skin felt hot and twitchy all over like embarrassment only not.

Viggo said, his voice soft and throaty, “Come inside.” And what? — because it was Orlando’s trailer. But Viggo was holding his chin to look at him, and the light above the trailer door glinted off the wet surface of Viggo’s steady eyes, and Orlando felt as though he had just eaten fruit pie.

 

Orlando came by, eating felafel last weekend, and leant over Viggo at the table. The food must have loomed too close over the glossy book — Viggo caught and held Orlando’s wrist.

“Boy, with waxed cup,” Orlando titled himself, his wrist firm.

Viggo looked up. “You need an egg, a checked cloth and a fork, in diagonal sunlight.”

He got up and took the felafel cup from Orlando and put it down on the bench, and then took both Orlando’s wrists and began to pose him. Orlando did not fight so much as he resisted, stiff.

Viggo put one of Orlando’s hands above his head; curled one slowly behind his back. Then he stretched Orlando’s straining arms straight out to either side. Then he brought Orlando’s elbows in to his chest and put Orlando’s hands over his eyes.

“As if you’d stand still for long enough, anyway,” Viggo laughed.

Orlando pulled his hands away from his eyes. Viggo’s eyebrows went up. Viggo went to move his wrists again, and Orlando resisted hard, and Viggo pushed hard, and Orlando resisted as hard as he could, so hard his muscles shook. Viggo was not pushing as hard as Orlando because Viggo was not shaking and his breath was not catching, but Viggo was stronger than Orlando, and calmly, geologically slowly, he pushed him back against the bench.

When there was nowhere further for Viggo to push Orlando, they stood rigid, breathing on each other’s faces. Viggo’s breath smelled of coffee.

At last Viggo said, “It’d work better nude, I think.”

Orlando said, “I haven’t finished my felafel.”

He pushed back against Viggo. The rod of tension down his back sang, and the muscles in his arms twitched and jumped, but Viggo was made of stone.

Viggo craned forward, and Orlando retreated, bending back over the bench, and at that angle he couldn’t push back at Viggo properly, and Viggo pushed Orlando’s hands down onto the bench and kissed his neck.

“As if you’d want to look at me for that long, anyway,” Orlando said, and stopped straining.

Viggo made a sound in his throat that was maybe a protest or maybe a laugh, and kissed Orlando on the mouth, eyes open.

 

Viggo is a box that Orlando is not sure if he wants to open, but by God the locked clasp craps him off.

Here is Viggo out on the balcony, when he said he’d be out. Orlando was wrong when he thought Viggo had brought nothing outside with him: there’s a book on the wooden railing, page marked with a thick blade of grass. It’s the same nothing, bound in matte navy on heavy stock, that Viggo was reading the weekend before last. And if he asks Viggo what he’s looking at in the sun out on the grass, Viggo will answer with his back already turned to the view, and if he asks Viggo what he’s been up to today, Viggo will say, “This and that.”

In point of fact, when Orlando says, “Here you are,” Viggo merely says,

“Yeah.”

A little bit later, Viggo offers him tea, but Orlando says, “Viggo, you old hippie, I need beer.”

Viggo says, “No you don’t. You’re sunburnt.”

“Am not,” Orlando says. But Viggo finds the sunburn on Orlando’s scalp: he leans to reach and touch, and says, “Here,” and creates the prickling tightness out of nothing.

Viggo’s dangling hair threatens to brush Orlando’s jaw when he leans, and Orlando fends it off. Viggo catches his hand. Before Orlando can think about it, he’s done it — he growls.

“Make my day, punk,” Viggo says, and Orlando thinks he might.

He whips Viggo’s fly down: he wrenches the box open.

And this is all that’s there — he can enclose it in the curl of his fingers. He kneels, and when he glances up, Viggo is looking right at him. The arc of burn lights up across his scalp, brilliant.

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. Michelle January 11th, 2012 7:10 am

    I thought this would go in a totally different direction, but I’m so happy I was wrong:)

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