The Tale of Jack

Chapter 6

The days passed quickly as Jack approached his job hunt with a new fervour. Each morning he got up as early as he could bear and left the house, a folder full of photocopied resumes under his arm, and set off for anywhere he hadn’t already tried. Stores and offices, cafes and workshops, busy places all…but not one with a job for him.


Sorry, we’re not hiring right now.


Sorry, you don’t have the necessary qualifications.


Sorry hun, I don’t think you’re the right guy for this.


You didn’t even finish high school? Are you kidding?


No luck.


Every night he was out working as hard as he could, wearing himself out, and always, always dreading the sound of Mr Golightly’s voice or a cruel hand grabbing at him as he walked through the dark streets. It hadn’t happened, or at least not yet. So far Jack had managed to stay out of his way, but he knew Mr Golightly wasn’t done with him. It was more than a hunch; he knew, he knew all about it in awful detail.


The school had had his address on record, of course, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to him that Mr Golightly had known where to send his little notes. So far, it was a huge relief every time that Jack saw the post mark on the envelopes that meant each letter had been mailed rather than delivered by hand, that the creep hadn’t actually been over to the house. He could hardly bear to think of that bastard being within a yard of his Mama, even if there was a thick brick wall between them.


Thank heavens his Mama respected his privacy; every letter had been placed on his bed, unopened, for him to read when he got home each day. Their presence there made him want to change his sheets each time, but he couldn’t ask his Mama to leave them somewhere else without sounding crazy, so he bore it. But those damn letters…the language, the descriptions, the hideously imaginative threats which he knew, just knew where intended to put him on edge and keep him there, chipping away at his nerves…


They were working.


He knew his Mama had noticed his tension, knew that she was worried about him. But what could he tell her that would make her feel better? Were there any words that could calm her without telling the truth and without compounding these damned lies he told her every day?


And any time he stopped thinking about Mr Golightly, it was only to make way for worries about money. Money, money Goddamned money! Every time he thought he’d made progress, every time he thought he’d managed to move them a little closer towards the black, something popped up and dragged them back. A final demand that they’d had no warning about ate up a whole week of Jack’s ‘wages’, along with the rest of the money from the coins. He’d had to go into Green Meadow again and sell the rest of them. He probably should have gone to another store or tried to find out if somebody would auction them for him or something, but he didn’t have the time or the knowledge. Luckily, the nice man from before had been even more delighted at Jack’s discovery of another stash of coins among his ‘Grandpa’s’ boxes of attic stuff, and told him how pleased his friend was with the last batch. Jack left the store with a thick wad of cash in his wallet, a promise to come again with any new discoveries on his lips, and a little light of hope in his heart.


The hope lasted until he got home and found, along with a shiny new Mr Golightly letter, a message from the bank about what they owed on the house, from when they’d had to remortgage. The coin money paid that problem off, Jack managing to get back out of the house and into town to deal with it before his Mama even realised he’d been back, it even got them to a place where they wouldn’t have to worry about that particular debt for a couple of months. But still, it was a drop in the ocean.


Then he’d found the newspaper pages, hidden under the seat pad of his Mama’s armchair. The job pages. Two little articles circled, both part time office jobs. Both ones that Jack had applied for only a couple of days before. She could still barely walk a lap of the yard without getting out of breath, no way in hell he was letting her go back to work! Given half a chance, she’d put herself last on her own list of priorities until it killed her and Jack was damned if he was going to let his own mother suffer.


Night after night, he’d been stalking the town’s streets, like an animal hunting, approaching people himself now, where before he’d have let them come to him. Guys he’d been with before seemed to like it for the most part, taking it as a compliment, like they didn’t know he was fucking desperate for money. He had again considered going bareback, like so many guys asked him for, but the shock of relief when Dr Atieno had given him back his test results, told him he was clean, had been so startlingly profound that he knew he wouldn’t be able to bear it.


Comfort was hard to come by. He’d been trying to avoid thinking about Finn too much, especially after what Dr Atieno had said. He wasn’t sure if he loved him, and even if he did, it wasn’t like it solved anything. He couldn’t have him. Every time the notion of it crept into his thoughts, it made his teeth clench and his chest hitch with the unfairness of it, and so every time the memory of Finn’s sweetly smiling face or his rumbling, tender voice crossed his mind, he determinedly turned his thoughts to something else.


But after so many long, long days of work and worry and - yes, if he was honest – sorrow, he was ready to think about him.


Oh God, he wanted Finn so much he could practically feel the warmth of his breath on his face.


These thoughts were tracking through his mind as he trekked slowly back home after a relatively productive evening. A couple of blowjobs and a pocket stuffed full of ten dollar bills, and it was all he could face for the day. This time of summer, the sun wasn’t quite all the way down yet, the sky shining black on one side of town and fading through orange and into purple and red on the other.


As soon as Jack saw the start of the path through the woods, lit by the fading daylight, he knew that he didn’t have the willpower to resist. His feet were carrying him through the trees before he even acknowledged what he was going to do, and he felt lighter with every step. The last bird calls of the day rang in the air above him, the scurrying steps of small animals rattling the branches of the ferns around his feet. The light of the setting sun threw deep shadows across his path, but it was still clear to him, as clear as day.


It was fully dark by the time he reached the tree, but the moon was high, shining glassy light down onto the steps at the foot of the trunk. He hadn’t thought about this part; the climb was disconcerting enough in the daylight, but now… he could only hope that the usual feeling of disconnection would guide his feet up the steps. And, sure enough, before he was even out of sight of the moonlit ground, his mind was in the clouds.




He had vaguely wondered several times if the place at the top of the tree had night and day like on the ground. The way time never seemed to pass while he was up there, it was hard to figure out. But as he stepped out of the mists at the top of the tree, he saw that the moon shone here too, gilding the shoots of Finn’s crops and the uneven, tilled ground. There was a faint light shining in one of the small windows of the cottage, a slight chill in the air. Jack wrapped his arms around himself and set off along the path.


As he had that first time, he squeezed in through the mail flap, letting it clunk closed behind him, and took in the room with a look. Some misshapen candles were lit on the table, dimly illuminating the room, leaving the corners of the cottage eerily dark. Finn was sitting on the edge of his wooden bed, the blankets pushed down as if he was just about to get in. He was just about to get in it seemed. He looked up, surprised when he spotted Jack standing on the floor by the door, and crossed the room smiling broadly.


Butt naked, which was nice.


He crouched down right in front of Jack, providing an interesting view, and held out a hand for Jack to climb up onto.


“Hello Jackie,” he said, and his voice was as warm and sweet as cocoa. “It’s good to see you again.”


“You too. I missed you,” Jack replied, hugging Finn’s thumb as tightly as he could. Finn lifted him and held him near his face, and Jack reached out to wrap his arms around his stubbly jaw, craned up to kiss his chin.


Finn kept him close as he crossed back over to the bed, held him in cupped hands as he reclined, then propped him comfortably on his furry chest.


“So, little Jack,” he asked, “What’s been going on out in the world.”


It was on the tip of Jack’s tongue to spill everything, to pour out his heart about the whole mess…but he couldn’t. He couldn’t push Finn’s kindness again, couldn’t let him think that he only wanted him as a sympathetic ear.


“Things still aren’t great,” he admitted, “but we’re doing okay. The money from those coins you gave me was a huge help. Thank you.”


“You’re welcome,” Finn replied, looking just a little pleased with himself. “You know, there are more-”


“No! No…I…don’t think I’m not grateful Finn, ‘cause I really am. But I don’t want to be a charity case, you know?”


Finn stared at him, studying his face carefully for a moment or two, before nodding. “Well, it’s your call Jackie, but the offer’s there still if you change your mind.”


“Thanks,” Jack replied, relieved, snuggling happily against Finn’s warm skin. Silence for a minute or two, delightful comfort of the rise and fall of Finn’s chest.


“Any more trouble? From that guy?”


Oh shit, how much to tell him? He didn’t want to lie, but…


“He’s been bugging me a little more, but not for sex. His wife found out he was sleeping with me… well, not me specifically. She’s leaving him though, and he says it’s my fault. Nothing I can’t deal with.”


“Sure?” asked Finn worriedly, then added “not like I could do anything about it if you weren’t, but-”


“I know. Thanks for asking. I’m okay though, really,” Jack said, with a tone of ‘let’s move this conversation on to better places’ in his voice. He kissed Finn’s chest and rubbed at his fur a little. “You know, you’re naked, and I…I could easily be naked too…”


Finn laughed happily, inadvertently shaking Jack up and down on top of him until Jack was helpless with giggles. Rolling onto his side, still laughing, he yanked off both his shoes, then peeled off his socks and tucked them inside, only realising then that he’d set the shoes down on Finn like he was the floor. He glanced up and Finn was grinning at him.






“Gimme those, if they get in the blankets we’ll never find them.”


Jack placed his shoes in Finn’s outstretched hand, then managed to stand up on the slope of Finn’s right pec and took off his shirt. Finn was staring at him, happy and dopey eyed. That was a good look on him. Jack turned himself around and wiggled a little as he slipped off his jeans, which raised another little chuckle, this one hastily squashed, so as to avoid knocking Jack off his feet and sending him rolling down Finn’s stomach.


Jack handed him the rest of the clothes, sat again while Finn leaned over to place them on the floor next to the bed, and then, once Finn had laid down again, flumped himself forward to spread himself over Finn’s warm skin, arms outstretched. “This okay?” he asked.


“Yeah, this is just sweet.”


“Yeah,” Jack murmured back.


He just lay there for a few minutes, enjoying himself, enjoying the feel and smell of Finn. A huge warm hand settled next to him, radiating heat, and Finn’s thumb stroked up and down his back. The skin was deeply calloused, but the sheer expanse of the skin made it feel ripply rather than rough. Felt good. How nice it was to feel that warming spread of arousal without the worry of what a person would want from him. How soothing it was to know that he was safe with this man who made him feel so good.


He dragged himself away from Finn’s touch and knelt up, then turned to look down, along Finn’s relaxed body. His cock was hard, which was quite gratifying given that all Jack had done was wiggle his butt and then hug him.


“You mind if I…go exploring?” he asked, gesturing towards Finn’s groin. Finn smiled.


“You do whatever you wish, little Jackie. I doubt there’s a thing you could do that wouldn’t raise my spirits.”


That was sweet enough that Jack felt his cheeks colour, and he carefully made his way down Finn’s chest and stomach, minding not to put his feet and hands anywhere tender. He probably needn’t have worried, Finn’s body was all firm muscle, like walking on a brand new mattress, and once he got as far as his abdomen Jack was able to stand up and walk properly, his own excited dick bobbing along in front of him. He was grinning to himself when he reached his target.


Finn’s cock lay almost against his belly, the foreskin about half peeled back and a glossy droplet of liquid nestled in the slit. Glancing back up at Finn’s lazily smiling face, Jack reached out to run a hand from the base of the glans and down, over silky skin, feeling the thump of blood through the veins beneath. There was a pleased sounding murmur from Finn’s end of the bed, so Jack sat himself down and settled in to touch and feel to his heart’s content. He ended up sitting with his legs splayed to either side of the huge damn thing, the swollen head practically lying in his lap. Grinning to himself, half his mind was questioning his own sanity and the other half was wondering how he’d gone so far in his life without ever feeling so damn turned on as he was now.


Seriously, it felt like something was going to burst.


He spread his hands over the surface of the head, edging his fingers under the foreskin and helping to ease it back just a little more. The drop of fluid squeezed out of the slit and slid down until it dropped to land on Jack’s thigh, making him flinch at the heat of it. Shivering, unable to wipe the grin off his face, Jack slid his hands until his thumb touched the slit, pressing at the firm, slightly yielding flesh until another droplet began to well. Slid his thumb around in the slippery fluid.


Slid his thumb into the slit, and actually saw a little tremor run through the muscles in Finn’s legs. Took that as a good sign, and pulled it out, only to slide his index and middle fingers in. Finn gasped, and Jack looked back over his shoulder, to see Finn’s eyes, wide and bright, staring at him.


“That’s good, little Jackie,” he breathed.


Jack grinned, curling his fingers to feel the snug flesh flex around them. Slid them out and dipped his hand in the thin, ribbony stream of liquid now dribbling from the slit, and slid them back in, easing in his ring finger and then his pinky, and then the rest of his hand, in as deep as he could before the shape of his thumb got in the way. He flexed his hand, spread his fingers, wiggled them around and Finn groaned behind him, the sound reverberating through Jack’s body. He could feel Finn’s cock throbbing where the insides of his knees rested against the shaft. Suddenly, he had the perfect idea, and just went for it, did it before he thought too much and chickened out.


Keeping his squirming fingers in place, cupping his free hand on the curved surface of the tip, he slid his body down, raised his legs, and wrapped himself as best he could around the hot, solid shaft.


Finn yelled.


Both legs curled around the throbbing flesh, ankles hooked together, Jack discovered a new advantage to this; his own dick was pressed firmly against a particularly perfect expanse of smooth, smooth skin. His shoulders were on Finn’s abdomen, his hips hitched up into the air as he squeezed and thrust with his legs, his arms cramping as he kept his hand working at Finn’s slit, and the world was fucking perfect, absolutely perfect.


Panting like a dying man, Finn shifted under him, reached down, the sudden appearance of his hands taking Jack by surprise as one slid underneath him, holding him in place, and the other gripped the base of his shaft, fingers brushing against Jack’s ass and thighs as it stroked and squeezed…


And then semen was pouring out between Jack’s fingers as he pulled his hand free, pumping onto his face and dribbling down his chest, splattering over Finn’s stomach. Jack kept his legs tightly wrapped, feeling the shaft twitch and jump, until it was over. Finn lifted him away with trembling hands, holding him with such care, such tenderness, that Jack’s desperation only increased. He’d never needed to come so badly, he was almost sobbing with it.


But he was lifted away from Finn’s cock and, carefully stretching out his strained legs, lifted towards Finn’s handsome, flushed face.


“Oh Jack, oh you lovely creature Jack,” he breathed.


Jack knew he wasn’t lovely; he was red faced, panting, shaking and dripping with semen. But the lazy heat in Finn’s eyes told him that Finn saw something different entirely.


Something good enough to taste apparently.


His lips caressed the inside of Jack’s calf, followed by his tongue, which slid up his thigh, over his hip, his stomach, lapping the warm come from his skin at every turn. Up his chest and his neck, and Jack closed his eyes and mouth as Finn delicately cleaned his face.


And then, thank heavens above, Finn got down to business, stroking the tip of his tongue up the shaft of Jack’s cock, over and over, stopping infuriatingly, only to tilt Jack in his hands and tongue at the crack of his butt, squirm the tip behind his balls, then start on his cock again, making him pant and howl and clench his hands as hard as he could around Finn’s fingers. When he finally came it was with a huge sigh of relief, feeling his body relax beatifically, for the first time in what felt like months, and he peeled his eyes open to see Finn’s staring back at him, eyes clear and gleaming with happiness.


How in hell was he supposed to leave?




Finn let him lay there for a while, a few long, precious moments to pull himself together after what was undoubtedly the best sexual encounter of his entire life. Not that there was much to compare it to, all things considered. But still, it deserved the accolade.


And then came that nasty, wrenching moment when Finn moved. He set Jack gently on the bed and crossed the room to fill a pot with water and put it on the stove, poured it into two bowls when it was warm, and then picked Jack back up again and dropped him into one of them with an indulgent smile. Jack couldn’t help but giggle, just a bit, and dunked himself under the water. When he came up, Finn was slowly washing himself, half-heartedly rubbing a cloth back and forth over his stomach. He looked…sad.              


“Finn?” Jack said softly, not quite sure what he was asking. Finn stared evenly at him for several long seconds, then pulled out his chair and sat down by the table, leaning forward so he was as close as he could get to face-to-face with Jack.


“Jackie…” Finn’s eyes left Jack’s face to search corners of the room. Jack stayed silent, stretching out his legs in the water so he could raise his face above the edge of the bowl.


“Jackie, I worry that I’m…making you worse. Your situation.”


Jack felt struck dumb. “Wh… how! You…you’re the best thing that’s happened to me in so long Finn, and-”


“And it can’t be, Jack,” Finn replied miserably, and Jack’s heart turned a sickening flip in his chest.


“I…I realised a long time ago, you know. That I’m stuck up here for good. And I know that I pretty much deserve it. And you…you’re…”


He faltered there, rubbing his hand over his face briefly, before turning his shining eyes back on Jack.


“I wouldn’t ask my worst enemy to live up here Jack. And every time you’ve come here, even though I’m so fucking happy to see you I could cry…I keep thinking, what if you get stuck here too? What if that thing in the tree closes and you can’t get back, what if that extra minute we spend lying together, or talking, or walking around costs you your whole fucking life.”


He rubbed his face again, tears rolling down his cheeks now. Jack could feel tears of his own, cold in the corners of his eyes, trickling down into the warm water.


“You…Jack, I hate it but…I think you shouldn’t come up here anymore.”


Jack couldn’t hold it back any longer and let out a damp sob, averting his eyes from the worried flinch he knew crossed Finn’s face at the sound. It was true, it was all true, and it was sickeningly clear to him now; he was in love and it couldn’t be.


Finn’s hands slipped into the cooling water in the bowl and cupped around him, holding him so gently, so comfortingly, how the hell was he supposed to leave? How!?


“You’re right,” he replied finally, looking up at Finn’s sorrowful face. “I hate it too, but you’re right.”




It felt so much darker when Finn opened the cottage door, like the earlier darkness had been amateur nightfall, and now they had the real thing. Jack sat on the edge of the table, dressed again now, waiting for Finn to come back from checking that the tree was…open or whatever. A minute or so passed before he returned, a sad look on his handsome face that told Jack that, yes, everything was as it should be and, no, he wasn’t happy about it.


“I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever come back,” he offered quietly, as he crouched by the table to look Jack in the eye. “You ever need me, I’ll help you as best I can. I’ll always be here Jackie.”


“Thank you,” Jack replied. It didn’t sound like quite enough, but he wasn’t sure he could speak much more without ending up in tears.


Finn looked worriedly at him for a few moments more, then sighed and ran his hands over his hair. “Do me a favour, huh?” he asked.


Jack hadn’t been expecting that. He looked up at him and nodded.


“Okay, so maybe two favours. Stay the hell away from that Golightly guy, alright? Be a total fucking coward if you have to, just don’t let him near you.”


“I won’t,” Jack promised, and raised one hand to draw a little ‘X’ over his heart. Finn accepted this and continued.


“Second thing is…will you…could you take Goldie with you?”


“What, seriously?”


“Seriously. Up here she’s all alone and pissy all the time. I mean, maybe pissy’s normal for a goose, I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem right. If you’ve got her she could have, like…”


“A gander?” Jack suggested.


“Yeah. And she could have babies or something. A flock maybe. What do you say?”


Jack didn’t really have to think about it. Nobody should turn down the opportunity of a gander and a flock. “Sure.”


“I mean, I know it’s asking a lot because you can’t really-”


“It’s okay Finn, of course I’ll take her. But are you certain you want me to?”


“Of…of course. Yeah.”


Neither of them had to say it, but the thought was there; then Finn really would be all alone.


Finn went outside for a few minutes, and Jack heard him calling out ‘goldiegoldiegoldie’ in the distance. Cried a little more into his hands and had to wipe his face on the collar of his t-shirt.


Then Finn returned and handed the confused and squirmy Goldie to Jack, picked the both of them up and set off down the path towards the tree.


Holding the goose carefully in his arms, Jack leaned up to press a last too-small kiss on Finn’s face, before Finn set him down by the top of the steps.


It was all he could do not to look back.




As usual, thinking didn’t really happen while he was on his way down the steps, but by the time he reached the bottom and stepped back onto the path, his face was covered in tears and his sinuses were hurting. Goldie was still but fretful in his arms, and he paused on the path for a few minutes, stroking her feathers and whispering wordlessly to her until she seemed to calm.


What was he going to tell his Mama about her? He couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t raise far too many questions. He guessed that he’d just have to hope something distracted her. On the plus side, Goldie was behaving herself pretty well, or at least as far as Jack could tell she was. She could have just been tired, or maybe in shock even, but she sat sensibly and quietly against his chest as he carried her, occasionally craning her long neck to look at the woods around them.


By the time he got home, she was definitely sleepy, her head nodding with the rhythm of each step he took. He was half convinced that she’d start honking or flapping or something the minute he got through the door, and his Mama would rush out of her room and freak.


But no, she stayed silent, until he got into the kitchen and set her down on the floor. Even then, the only sound she made was the slapslapslap of her big flat feet on the linoleum as she wandered around the room, poking her beak into corners. Jack got himself a glass of water and watched her explore for a few minutes. Only then did it occur to him that he had no idea how to care for a goose.


Water for a start, right? Everything liked some nice fresh water. He found an oven dish that was too solid for her to knock over and filled it from the tap. That had been a good move, because as soon as he put it down on the floor, she pattered over to it and stuck her nose in.

Okay, good start.


Did geese sleep on nests? He hoped so, because otherwise he just had no damn idea.


He got a big, round, shallow Tupperware box that his Mama used for taking pies to baking contests back in the day, and set it on the floor near the water bowl. A clean dish towel would make a comfy lining, he decided, with a layer of torn up newspaper underneath, in case she peed in it. This marvel of animal care assembled, he looked around the room and briefly considered putting down newspaper for her to do her business on, but then decided that the only way to make that work was to paper the whole floor, and he was too damn tired. If she did anything, he’d clean it up in the morning.


Patting her feathers gently, he said goodnight to her and switched out the kitchen light, watching for a moment to make sure she didn’t panic, but she was perfectly calm. Sleepy calm.


So Jack closed the kitchen door and went to his bedroom.


Got undressed and got into bed.


Cried himself to sleep.  



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