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three pairs of lovers with space



The following short story by American writer Kevin Esser was published in the fourteenth issue, December 1982, pp. 10-12, of Pan, a magazine about boy-love, published by Spartacus in Amsterdam.

The drawing accompanied the original story.


Nicky is back ... again.

I watch for him daily from my lifeguard’s perch above the beach. At first his visits were erratic; but for two weeks now he has appeared each day without fail, sauntering with the easy grace of a young prince, every lean, supple inch of him glowing a deep reddish brown, like dark copper. I've never seen such a gorgeously tanned boy. Never.

Today - as always - he is alone, and wearing the same skimpy yellow briefs that first quickened my breath more than a month ago when he appeared (it seemed) from nowhere and dropped lightly to his knees in front of my chair. He couldn’t, I guessed then, have been more than thirteen years old, yet was without a companion, and as perfectly at ease as a lone pup out for a bit of a romp. I was intrigued. I climbed down, walked slowly toward him. And as my shadow touched his cheek he turned, grinning, and said simply, “My name’s Dominic.”

I crouched next to him, watching his buttocks bouncing lightly against his smooth calves as he scooped sand into a pile. Then he glanced back around and added, “But you can call me Nicky, OK?” with a crinkle of his sun-pinkened nose.

OK ... and so it began. But we talked little that first day: I had my duties to perform, and was forced, after returning to my chair, to watch from a distance as the boy constructed a very crude castle, then stood up and moved down the beach. I hoped as he wandered off that he might turn and confirm our bud of friendship with a smile or a wave. But I hoped in vain….

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Did he come back the next day? Or was it the day after? Time becomes jumbled ... plays tricks. But he did return: silhouetted against the sea's sequin-sparkle, ambling towards me kicking gently at the sand. When our eyes met he smiled. And as I smiled back and climbed down from my chair to greet him his glossy brown hair stirred in feathery wisps about his ears.

“Back again?” I called.

“I like it here,” Nicky answered, one hand turned backwards and resting lightly on his hip.

“Where are your friends?”


"Well, you must come here with somebody."

“No ... nobody.” Then, pointing vaguely up the beach, “My aunt lives over there. But she’s old! She never comes here.”

“Your aunt?”

Nicky glanced away at the foaming surf with the faintest of sighs and shifted his weight from right foot to left. “I stay with my aunt ... all the time.”

Enough. I inquired no further. Perhaps I should have.

Of course I should have.

It was a week before I saw him again. I was surprised - even then - at the violent catch of breath in my throat as he roamed into view. I’d forgotten, somehow, the dark, graceful beauty of him.

He waved, then broke into a fluid trot, his feet kicking up sand in golden plumes as he approached grinning. Was it eagerness that prompted his haste? Joy at seeing a friend? Or merely an eruption of boyish energy? I watched, and wondered.

“I’ve been gone,” he announced, slightly winded now and panting softly gazing up at me squinting with jade-green eyes into the sun.

“I know … I missed you.”

“I had to go to the city with my aunt and see a judge.”

I nodded, waiting.

“And he said my aunt’s too old and gets sick too much so I gotta go live with  somebody else.” He shrugged, weary of the world and its peculiar ways.

“With who?” A stab of ... what? Grief? Fear? Sorrow?

“I don't know. They gotta find somebody.” He smiled and pointed (I thought) at me. “Can I use some of that?”

Pan 14 11 cleaned

I looked down. “This?” and picked up my bottle of suntan lotion.

He nodded, and lifted a hand to shade his eyes.

“I don't think you really need any, do you?”

“I like the way it smells,” he replied rather cryptically.

“OK,” I said, “catch,” then tossed him the bottle, which he grabbed with both hands against his chest.

“I want it on my back!” he pointed out, sitting down onto the hot sand as I ventured from my perch and knelt beside him.

I squirted the white lotion onto his freckled brown shoulders. He flinched as it dribbled cold down his back. “That feels funny!”

I spread it gently, letting my hand slip in slow, slow circles. “So you'll be moving  away pretty soon, hah?”

“Yeah, I guess ... but I don’t mind too much. I’ve moved a million times since my mom died last year.”

“And your dad?”

“Never knew him,” Nicky shrugged, then jerked as I squirted a bit more lotion between his sharp shoulder blades. Lulled by my stroking hand, he lowered himself slowly onto his belly and lay resting with his cheek flat against folded arms. “That feels super,” he sighed ... then giggled as I drizzled the cold lotion onto first one thigh, then the other, smearing it with a hand nearly trembling now feeling the hard young muscle tensed as I stroked lower to the soft hollow behind the knees, lower still to the lean calves tanned dark and silky without a hair.

At the feet I stopped - breathless. “Do you want me to do your front?”

He rolled over, nodding. “Yeah, I do …” then stared with an odd wide-eyed intensity as I began a slippery massage of his chest and belly and slender brown legs, letting my hand slide down to the ankles then up again slowly to the knees and up farther farther as Nicky spread his thighs welcoming my hand with a soft moan. I glanced around at the nearly-deserted beach while my hand continued its timid exploration feeling a swelling now between the boy’s legs as I pushed my fingers beneath the yellow elastic past soft damp hair to where I found him hard and warm.

Then, quickly, I withdrew my hand. “I’m sorry,I murmured [sic], apologizing to the youngster for starting what couldn’t be finished - not there, not then.

Nicky (my patient, sweet-tempered boy) nodded understandingly and sat up. “That's OK,” he said, and I think he smiled.

Wiping a trickle of sweat from my cheek, I caught a whiff of him sharp and sweaty on my fingers.

“I’ll come back later,” he said, already springing to his feet. “After supper ... OK?”

“Definitely OK,” I replied, then laughed in joyful amazement as the boy (heedless of the sunbathers around us) gave me a quick hug before loping away up the beach ... a hug that I could still feel warm around my neck when at last he reappeared on the empty beach like a sprite in the golden evening sun. I laughed in an echo of my earlier joy as he wrapped me again in his arms, an embrace which I now freely, eagerly returned.

Then, high-spirited as a little colt, he pulled away smiling. “Let’s swim for a while ... you wanna?” And as I watched he wriggled the snug yellow trunks down his legs past the knees and stepped free. “Come on!” he waved, and together we plunged into the gleaming surf, where I frollicked [sic] in ways forgotten since childhood until our fatigue brought us finally stumbling and laughing back to the beach.

I trailed (reverently) behind the boy as he trudged naked through the wet sand up into the dunes. His body was burned a ruddy brown everywhere but his sweet little rump glinstening [sic] white as ivory flexing smooth as I stepped closer and cupped it softly causing Nicky to turn and show me with a gentle smile the evidence of his desire bobbing pink and pretty between his thighs.

“Now,” he whispered, then purring deep in his throat like an eager little kit sank slowly to his knees dragging me down with him onto the warm bed of sand ...

 ...and as he approaches now I smile and wonder how much longer we must wait before the judge awards me custody. I've been assured there are no problems. It is, I’m told, merely a matter of time. My patience wears thin now and again, but Nicky reassures me. There is, he says, no rush….

We have the rest of our lives.