The Tale of Jack

Chapter 3

His first few steps down the staircase were unsettling in the extreme. The clouds crowded in around him and the bulky shapes of the coins in his pockets made his legs feel awkward. He felt out every step with his toes, almost blindly, clutching with his short fingernails at the bark of the tree trunk. And then, as he went…somehow his fear, his thoughts, faded. His body just kept moving, step after step, past the clouds, past the tree tops, and by the time his feet touched solid, grassy ground, it felt like barely any time had passed at all.

The sun was still bright and clear, the day still morning-cool and fresh feeling. He checked his watch and, to his astonishment, saw that it was true; barely twenty minutes had passed since he’d first started his climb.

“Holy shit!”

How had it happened? He looked back up at the tree; perfectly real. Nothing out of place. But his legs were tired from the climb, his pockets were spilling over with worn gold coins, there was still a faint taste of apple on his tongue. And he could still feel Finn’s touch against his stomach.

Jack set off for home.


His Mama was taking a bath when he got in. He knew that he could get in the house and back out without disturbing her if he was careful; the bathroom door was thick. He slipped into his bedroom and pulled an old shoebox from the wardrobe. It still had a scrunched up bunch of tissue paper in it, and he pushed most of the coins in underneath. That much gold, hopefully he could stretch it out into two batches, keep a little back for an emergency. He had nineteen coins in total, so he put ten in the box and stuck it underneath his bed, then scrabbled through his dresser drawers until he found the tiny drawstring bag that he’d bought his watch in. It was a little crappy and had the logo of the discount outlet stencilled on the side, but it would look better than just carrying them around in his pocket.

Back out the house, down the road into town, then a ten minute wait for the bus into Green Meadow. A couple of people looked at him disapprovingly as he got on the bus, but the driver didn’t seemed bothered, and he took a seat right at the back. An old lady in a weird little round hat was looking suspiciously at him, like she expected him to try and infect her with something. He ignored her as best he could.

At least he knew where he was going now; there was a little jeweller’s shop in the town centre of Green Meadow, an old fashioned sort of place that doubled as an antique shop. Not long after Dad had died, Mama had gone to sell her mother’s wedding ring there, trying everything to avoid selling their little fields. The jeweller had been really nice, quiet and professional, and had given them more money for it than he could have gotten away with, especially in such a swanky place where the two of them had stuck out like sore thumbs.

The bus ride was long; as he went the other passengers disembarked and new people got on, people who didn’t know him this time, or at least ones who didn’t notice him. He wondered how many people around him were aware of what a luxury it was to simply go unnoticed.

Nearly an hour later, the bus pulled up on a side street in the town centre; there weren’t any bus stops on the main street, not enough room among the sports cars and SUVs, he guessed. Maybe he should try to do some business around here. His memory was pretty good and he found the shop easily, a charmingly faded sign hanging above a wide window filled with cases of jewellery and delicate objet d’art. A bell above the door dinged cheerfully as he entered the dimly lit store, and the owner, a serene looking elderly man, stepped through from the back room, and took his place behind the counter.

“Can I help you with anything young man?”

“Uh…yeah. Yes, ah, do you deal in coins?” Jack said awkwardly, gesturing with the bag.

“Hm. On occasion yes. I assume they’re antique coins?”

“Oh yeah, but…I’m afraid I don’t know much about them. They belonged to my Grandfather, I never really got into coin collecting.”

“Hmm, well, let’s take a gander.”

Jack nodded, hoping that fate wouldn’t strike him down for lying to the nice old man. He undid the draw string on the little bag and slid the thick gold discs out onto the counter.

The old man’s eyebrows went up.

“Those are… my goodness, they really are very old, aren’t they!” he said in astonishment.

Jack felt a little touch of panic in the space between his shoulder blades. “Uh, like I said, I don’t really know much about-”

“I think I know of several collectors who’d be interested in these. Goodness, I may even know of a museum who would want them! Let me get the catalogue.”

The old man bustled off into his back room, murmuring cheerfully to himself, excitement having overcome his salesman’s cool. Jack looked at the little pile of coins. Did they look stolen? The old man seemed okay with them, but maybe he was covering, maybe he was back there calling the police.

The door swung open and he came back out, carrying a huge phone-book-like tome in both arms. “This will only take a minute or two,” he assured Jack, and set the book on the counter, where it fell open and several slips of paper fell out. “Oh dear.”

Jack waited agitatedly while the shopkeeper leafed through the thin pages of his catalogue, occasionally making little notes on a pad next to him, picking up a coin every now and then and studying it, before shaking his head and returning it to the pile. Finally;

“Ah! I knew it would be in here! Here we are, take a look.”

Jack leaned over as the old man turned the book, and looked carefully at the article he was pointing at. It took a moment for his eyes to make sense of the tiny, faded text, clustered in among several sketchy diagrams of what were obviously his coins. But when the words started to sink in, a few leapt out at him.

Like ‘doubloons’.


‘Seized by the navy’.

‘Thought lost’.

These damn coins had been on more adventures than Indiana Jones.

“Are…are you sure it’s the same coins?” he asked warily.

“Oh yes, yes absolutely. You see, there are several from the same source in the Museum of Antiquity in the city. I’ve a friend who works as a sub-curator for coins there, and I’ve seen them several times. Are you sure you want to sell them? You could make a small fortune exhibiting them.”

“I don’t really know how to do that,” Jack admitted sheepishly. “We just really…need the money.” He felt his cheeks colour a touch.

The shopkeeper nodded sympathetically. “Let me go and make a phone call,” he said, and went back through the doorway. Jack heard him speaking on the phone; it sounded like he was getting passed between different people, trying to get hold of whoever it was he wanted. After a few minutes, he greeted somebody enthusiastically and started telling them rapidly about the coins.

Jack had been idly looking at the display of silver pillboxes in the cabinet underneath the counter, when the man came back into the shop with a cordless phone pressed to his ear.

“I’m utterly certain, Audrey, they look exactly like your sketches in the catalogue…of course!...No, no he said they were his Grandfather’s. He doesn’t know where they originally came from, but they’ve been in the family for some time.”

He glanced to Jack for confirmation on this, and Jack nodded. A part of him wanted to come clean at that point, but as pleasant as the man was, he didn’t think he’d buy ‘they were scraped off the boot of a giant man who lives at the top of a magic tree’.

Still talking to his friend, the shopkeeper took a ruler from under the counter and measured the diameter and thickness of each coin, dutifully reciting the numbers down the phone. Then out came a little brass scale and some weights, and he weighed each one carefully, then weighed them all against each other to make sure they were all the same. Finally, his friend had him pick each up individually and study them for lettering or symbols on their worn surfaces.

Eventually, he gave the lady a cheery goodbye and turned his attention back to Jack.

“Well young man, it’s good news; they’re real. Or as far as the country’s best coin expert can tell!” He was beaming broadly, and Jack hoped desperately that a phone discussion was enough to convince this expert that they were real; he’d been looking at the article again while the coins were being inspected, and he spotted the selling price of the ones in the museum; they were worth far more than their weight in gold.

“My friend has asked me to buy them from you on her behalf, with a view to adding them to her exhibit. Now these are in a rather more worn state than those she has already acquired, so I won’t be able to offer you quite as much money per coin, but I’m sure we can make a good deal.”

And there came the part where Jack got had, didn’t it. This nice old man was going to smile and tell him they weren’t really worth that much, and he’d get screwed over yet again, and probably never know how much money he really could have-

“Would you be willing to accept two fifty? Per coin that is.”

Jack swallowed hard.


“I realise it seems low, after the price quoted in the catalogue, but I’m afraid with their condition, and the level of interest that coins get in the antiquities field nowadays, I-”

“No! No that…that seems very fair,” Jack replied hastily. Two hundred and fifty times nine was…two thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars! More money than he and Mama had had at one time since she’d had to give up work! He could keep some back, for emergencies, maybe even start a saving account for it. Perhaps he could even give himself a break from work, go job hunting again…

The shopkeeper had brought a cash box through from the back room and was busily counting out notes. Jack flinched when he saw them, and the old man looked up.

“Um, I know it sounds weird but…do you have anything other than hundreds? I kinda feel they’re…unlucky.”

And because he was a genuinely nice man, he didn’t even complain that it took every fifty and twenty dollar bill in the store to pay Jack for the coins.


Jack had a spring in his step and a bright smile on his face when he walked in through the front door. His Mama poked her head out of the living room door and smiled at him warmly.

“Can I assume you’ve had some luck, sweetheart?” she asked, hopefully.

“I sure did, Mama. You aren’t going to believe it. I got more than I expected, turns out it was in pretty good shape for all that the outside was banged up.”

“Oh Jack, that’s wonderful!”

Jack took an envelope that the antique salesman had given him from his pocket. He’d put three hundred and fifty dollars in there, as much as he thought she’d buy for the car’s price. The rest he’d hide in his room and …well, he’d decide what to do with it later.

His Mama accepted the envelope and looked inside smiling, then with her mouth open wide in astonishment, she took out the sheaf of bills and gasped.

“Oh Jack, honey, however did you do it?! This is amazing, oh honey…” She trailed off and Jack tilted his head to see her face properly…

She was trying not to cry.

Immediately he rushed over to her and put his arms around her. She sniffled and laughed a little, trying to fake that she hadn’t been upset.

“Mama, what’s wrong?”

“It…it’ll be okay Jack, really. Just, this was a really tight couple of months for us, you know? Even with your job, there’s so many bills, and so much left to pay off from…from what your father left. I really thought…”

“What Mama?”

She was quiet for a long moment, her hand placed against Jack’s chest as if she was trying to work out whether or not to push him away.

“I thought we’d have to…I don’t know, go to the city maybe. I thought we’d have to leave our…our home, Jack.”

Jack shivered and opened his mouth, but couldn’t find any words.

“We still might honey, I can’t lie to you about this. We’ve got a lot of problems and if we have to leave this place and go somewhere we can get better jobs, well, we’ll just have to, Jack. But we can’t give up on our home for no reason.”

“We’ll keep trying,” Jack agreed. “I’ll keep hunting for a better job, Mama, and I’ll find one, you’ll see! And in the meantime, who knows, we might find ourselves with money from… somewhere!”

She smiled up at him, her eyes still wet.

“Okay honey. That’s what we’ll do. We’ll hope for the best.”

Jack kissed her, and went into his bedroom to give her a few minutes to compose herself. He hid the money with the coins, tucked up safely in the scratchy grey tissue paper. Then he changed his clothes, a tight t-shirt that rode up a little on his stomach and a pair of too-big jeans that hung low on his hips. No underwear, which always made him feel embarrassed but was only practical, and a jacket over the top so Mama wouldn’t see how he was dressed.

He went back out into the living room, where Mama was sitting at the little table, writing a check.


“Yes sweetheart?”

“I’m going to work.”


It wasn’t quite dark yet in town when he got there, which limited his options a little; most of his usual haunts were a little too visible for comfort before dark. The moon was clear in the deep blue of the sky, looking fragile and impossibly far away. Jack trudged through the quiet evening streets towards the bar he had in mind for the evening. The owner didn’t usually care what his customers got up to as long as it didn’t stop them drinking, so he mostly tolerated Jack’s presence. This evening though, Jack had barely opened the door into the rowdy bar when a familiar face appeared before him, smiling drunkenly and shooing him back out with one hand on his shoulder.

Jack didn’t know the man’s name, but he’d gone with him before once or twice. He was okay, not particularly attractive, but then again how many guys who had to pay for it were? He wasn’t too demanding though, and he never tried to get away without paying.

“You ready for me, Jackie?” he drawled happily, leaning into Jack a little more heavily than he probably meant to.

“Sure am, are you?” Jack replied, aiming them for the gap between the bar and the building next to it.

The guy patted his crotch and snorted. “Don’ matter ‘f I’m drunk. ‘S always ready. Hah!”

Jack couldn’t help but laugh a little with him, though it didn’t feel quite right, sounded too harsh, like an old man’s laugh. They rounded the corner into the yard behind the bar and to Jack’s relief it was empty. There was a stack of wooden pallets stuck in a corner near the door to the bar’s basement, which ought to be the right height for the guy to sit on.

“You wanna sit on those?”

“Sure. ‘S what I like about you, you remember what I want. Good….somethin.” He fumbled his wallet out of his pocket and Jack could see a few twenties poking out. He wondered if the guy realised how easily Jack cold have just made off with his whole wallet, probably max out his credit cards before he even realised…but he wasn’t that low. He was still his Mama’s son.

The guy sat down and opened his pants with a drunken flourish, then leaned back on his hands making the pallets creak and grinned dizzily up at Jack. Jack knelt down and took his cock into his mouth. Contrary to his customer’s confidence, he was only halfway hard, but a few seconds of careful sucking brought it to its full size and Jack drew back a little, figuring out how to settle the guy’s erection comfortably in his mouth.

He tended to keep things simple when he did this; most of the men he serviced would be thinking of somebody else anyway, no need to ruin their little fantasies by doing something ostentatious that would draw their eye to his face. He took the slightly stale-tasting flesh in as deep as he could, drew back, bobbed a few times and found a good rhythm, a good pressure, making the guy above him grizzle in his throat and slap his palms on the pallets. One hand found its way into Jack’s jacket and slid over his shoulder and into the sleeve a little way, cupping the bare skin of his lean triceps.

The touch of Finn’s fingertip against his wet stomach flashed through him and made him flinch.

With a grunt, his customer came, spurting semen into Jack’s mouth, then onto the ground as Jack pulled back. He spat, discreetly, and got to his feet, letting the hand that had been settled on his arm slide away.


“Yeeeah. Oh hell…” the guy warbled, cheery and sleepy “Good…good cussomer service, that’s the thing.” He picked up the wallet from where he’d set it, just by his hip, and pulled out two twenties, Jack’s usual fee. Jack accepted it with a nod, stuck it in his own pocket, and headed off. The guy would probably sit there for a while then go back in the bar, but Jack wouldn’t be there when he did. It wasn’t like anyone cared enough to get territorial about him or anything, but he always felt awkward about going back into a place where he’d picked somebody up to try for someone else. It was truly night time now, he could find plenty of other places. One of the other bars in town was a fairly reliable spot, and he could go wash his mouth out in the bathroom before he went on the hunt again. He guessed he was pretty prudish for a whore, but he hated talking to people with the smell of some other guy’s spunk on his breath…

“Hey Ja-aack!” called a sing song voice from behind him, and Jack froze, his stomach squirming unpleasantly. No use trying to get away. Footsteps came thunking along the sidewalk behind him with smug slowness, assured that he would wait right where he was.

“Hi Mr Golightly,” he said quietly as the other man stopped next to him.

“Hi Jack, how’s my favourite ex-student tonight? Busy?”

“Never too busy for you, Sir,” Jack replied, remembering the lines his old teacher liked to hear by rote. This was met with a mean, shark-like grin, and Jack found himself being led down the street to the old motel.


About forty minutes later Jack was feeling about as low as he could get. It wasn’t any big surprise; Mr Golightly always wanted the same thing from him, and it always went the same way. He’d tell Jack to strip, spread both their clothes out on the bed, then make Jack get down on his hands and knees on the floor and fuck him from behind, hard and fast, panting out dirty little questions all the time.

Do you like it?

Do you want it harder?

Isn’t it big?

Do you love it?

All of which Jack had to answer with a chipper ‘yes Sir!’ or…well, Mr Golightly had only ever hit him once. Jack wasn’t exactly weak, but he’d never had the kind of sturdiness necessary for a fighter. He’d had to make up a hell of an excuse to explain the split lip to his Mama.

But this, now, was the worst part. Rolling over onto his back, feeling lube dribble from his sore asshole onto the thin carpet, and Mr Golightly was sitting on the bed wearing that same cold grin that Jack had first seen when he realised his confession of a crush had been overheard. The first time he realised that this nice, friendly teacher may not be all he seemed.

“Go on Jack, show me how much you enjoyed that,” came the words from that sneering mouth, and Jack winced. Always the same; Mr Golightly wouldn’t let him leave until he came. Feeling pitiful, he closed his hand around his cock and thought of the money; if nothing else, Mr Golightly was at least a regular source of income. He paid a little more than Jack usually asked for, even, though Jack was hard pressed to figure out why. It certainly wasn’t kindness; he’d had it made clear to him, many times and in many ways, that Mr Golightly didn’t like Jack, and didn’t want to be liked. He wondered if it was some sort of pride thing, making himself feel big by assuring that Jack came, by giving him plenty of money. Whatever it was, Jack sorely wished he wouldn’t do it.

He couldn’t get hard this time. Usually it took him a few minutes, even with his eyes closed he could feel that mean grin crawling over his skin. But this time, nothing. Every sexy image and sordid act he usually called into his mind to spur him on had failed him and now he could hear Mr Golightly shifting on his perch on the mattress, no doubt getting impatient, getting angry

And then there was the touch of Finn’s finger against his damp belly and the feel of his warm, sweet smelling breath…

And he was getting hard, stroking himself as fast as he could without hurting, clinging to the lovely picture of Finn sliding his clothes off his shoulders, beaming at him from his seat at the table, the feel of the thick, smooth hairs on his arm as Jack leaned back against it…

He grunted and came, finally, and a harsh croak of laughter spewed from Mr Golightly’s mouth, snapping Jack out of his pleasant reverie.

“You did enjoy it that time, didn’t you Jack. Was I particularly good? Tell me what you enjoyed the most.”

He was so smug, so fucking pleased with himself, and Jack couldn’t stop the grimace from forming on his face, the prickle in the corners of his eyes that threatened to become tears.

“You must have liked it, ‘cause look how much you came. Why, you shot it halfway across the room. Look at this!” He ecstatically brandished the pair of tweedy pants that had lain on the bed next to him, and showed the splatter of Jack’s semen across one leg. Jack winced.

Mr Golightly leaned down to him and scratched his fingers sharply through Jack’s hair. “Come on now, tell me how much you enjoyed it.”


“Good boy, come on.”

“…liked you fucking me…” he’d had to force the words through gritted teeth, but they were out. With a crow of laughter, Mr Golightly got up from the bed and grabbed his wallet from the dresser, pulling out a small envelope and tossing it into Jack’s naked lap. Jack winced, then picked it up and heaved himself to his feet. Suddenly he couldn’t bear the room any longer, and he grabbed up his clothes and struggled back into them, not caring that he was dirty and sticky. He just wanted out.

“Where you going, Jack? Aw, aren’t I being kind enough?” teased that hated voice, and Jack felt his shoulders tense, his fists clench.


“What? Tell Mr Golightly, he can fix it.”

“I…fucking hate this! I don’t want to do it again, you got that?! I won’t!” He turned as he spoke, and saw Mr Golightly’s smug grin turn sour and angry. The other man raised a hand, ready to slap him, but Jack dodged sideways and darted for the door. He got it open and dashed through, and thank fuck that not even Mr Golightly would chase a guy naked through a motel.

Next thing he was running past the dopey looking receptionist, and then out into the street. The sky was still clear and the moon still bright.

Jack felt sick.

He wished now that he hadn’t thought about Finn. Now that lovely memory was dirtied and ruined. He still had the envelope in his hand, a hundred and fifty dollars inside, enough to give his Mama for half a weeks worth of made-up shifts at the packaging depot. Or… he could leave it. He had the money from the coins, and more coins left besides. That would carry them over for a long time, even without the regular money from Mr Golightly. Clenching his jaw, Jack scrunched up the envelope in his hand and dropped it on the ground, stepping on it once for good measure.

Striding away down the street, he felt bold and headstrong. So what if things were tight? So what if they had to do without a few things? They had their house, they had their home in this town. They’d be okay. And if things went wrong then they’d move to the city and start over. It’d be hard, but they’d settle, and eventually it’d all come good.

It’d be okay to be in the city, to be where there were jobs and apartments, and…

It…it would break his Mama’s heart.

Feeling his face strain with the threat of tears once again, Jack turned and walked back the few steps to the envelope, picked it up, stuffed it into the pocket of his jacket.

Defeated, he began the long walk home, his backside hurting and his heart weary.

He wanted Finn.  



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