Is he as fascinating as he finds his puzzle?
A Boys on Trains story
Last week I was waiting for the bus from town. When the bus arrived some kid pushed to board in front of me. He should have had more respect for someone old enough to be his father, but I let it ride. There had been no queue as such. It was raining and we passengers had been loitering in shop doorways. The bus stop gave no protection from the elements.
I would get my payoff. He would be seated first and I could choose a place that let me enjoy the view of him.
But first I had to wait while he yanked the driver’s chain trying to pay with a fifty. Stood on the step in front of me while he argued, I had a good eye level view of how his tight grey jeans showed off his narrow hips and small backside and I saw how his white sweatshirt contrasted nicely with his pale olive complexion.
Once seated, I got my chance to study him some more. Perhaps fourteen, there was no denying he was exceptionally good-looking but, like Cassius, ‘he had a lean and hungry look’. As I watched, he turned and put his feet upon the seat, giving me a better view. It was not long before I decided he was self-centred to the point of arrogance. At least it made him unaware that I was observing him.
I was content to watch his flawed beauty for the rest of my journey but I had lost my desire to know more of the boy. It’s nice, pleasant, amenable boys I like. They are much easier to engage with.
Today I took the train to the city to meet someone. Now I am on my way home. The train is busy, busy enough that one sits where one can find a space.
The seat I find is with my back to the engine. I am lucky though, as facing me in the seats across the aisle is someone to watch.
It is a young man I am sure is over sixteen, sitting next to an older woman. It would be ungentlemanly of me to suggest she is about my age. The boy has an attractive air about him: pleasantly good-looking but not exceptionally so. He displays a measure of self-confidence but no arrogance.
The woman is attending to her phone. The boy, to occupy himself, takes out that retro-toy, a Rubik’s Cube, and commences his attempt at solving it. If he does he will be a better than me. It is a toy of my own youth and I remember secret hours of frustration attempting a solution. In order to leave it complete, I always had to cheat and take the thing to bits and rebuild it.
I am not so gauche as to watch the two all the time. I do look round at others on the train and through the window at the passing scenery.
One time when I glance at them the woman has finished on her phone and is looking over the boy’s shoulder as he works the cube. From her interest, I suspect she too had one in her younger days.
The next time I look, I see they are engaged in conversation. By the way he is holding the cube it appears he is explaining the theory of how to solve the fiendish thing. Unlike the boy last week, who I suspect would have flipped her off with some snide remark, this boy is friendly and, judging by his smile, is happy to talk with the woman. Their interaction seems so natural that, for a brief second, I wonder if the woman is his mother.
Captivated, I watch him, seeing a personality as pleasant as his looks. This boy I want to take home with me.
The train begins to slow for a station and the boy looks up. I know he has seen me watching him so I smile. I get a knowing smile in return. The boy rises from his seat as the train draws to a halt and heads for the door. Passing me, he touches my shoulder. I look up at him.
“Come, Tio,” he says. “This stop.”
Remembering where I am, I blush, but I know I am unable to resist his invitation.
Ignoring the looks of other passengers, I rise and follow him.
And so I should, for he is my sister’s boy, come to stay with me for a week, while she goes away for work. Watching him talk to the woman, I had forgotten ours was the next stop.
He always makes me proud to be his Uncle Peter, his Tio Pepe, as he teasingly calls me after the fino I sometimes drink. He brings more sunshine to my life than I could ever find in a glass.
Soon he will meet someone who’ll bring sunshine to his life. If that someone turns out to be another boy: so be it. Whatever happens he should know he will always have the support of his Tio. I love him as if he were my own son.
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