I can't!" blurted Simon at once. Freaking hell, there was no way he was going to the Urologist today!
"What do you mean you can’t? Why not?" During breakfast, still buoyed up by her appointment coup, his mum was amused as though anticipating he was about to crack some clever joke.
"I was planning on going round to Toby's."
"Toby's?" She rolled her eyes and her expression took on a flavor of, 'Jeez...is that the punch line?' She waved it off. "Well I'm sure he's quite capable of surviving without you for a couple of hours."
"Can't you book it some other day?" he pleaded. "I don't want to go today!" Not only hadn't she seen what Toby had done to his pubes, he didn't want to go to the Urologist, full stop!
She peered across at him, moving on from the joke angle as if to check whether he looked ill, then inquired, "Because?" A little cooler now, her expression communicated that wanting to go play at Toby's didn't cut the mustard. As he failed to come up with anything better, she stated her case. "Your father and I want Dr. Tiberius to make sure you don't have the same…issue as Luke. It's for your own good and—"
"—What about next week?" Interrupting his mum was never a good approach, but then again, she didn’t know what was at stake.
"Don't be silly." Her eyes narrowed, becoming unimpressed. "He didn't offer us an appointment for next week. We're going today."
More desperately, he searched for a quite sensible alternative. "Well, what about after the summer, then? Just not now..."
"Simon..." His dad's tone carried a not so subtle warning.
"But Dad...if we can just leave it a few months, I..."
"Enough already!" And by the very different tone in her voice now, she certainly meant what she said! "Just stop it! You need that appointment. It's today. Not next week or next month. Today! And we'll listen to whatever Dr. Tiberius advises. End of!" She dumped a plate in front of him with enough force that it was surprising it stayed in one piece. During the ensuing silence, Luke glared in his direction, angry at him for creating such a ruckus when he’d barely gotten up.
Five minutes of subdued breakfast later, she said. "Toby will be here soon. Go brush your teeth." It was quite clipped, and he could tell she was still irritated.
Sullen, he pushed his plate to one side and hurried upstairs. He headed straight for the bathroom and, with a lot more desperation than earlier, tried every soap they had to try to get rid of the orange color that had turned his developing pubes the color of a highly spiced chicken tikka. Compared to the previous day, the whole look didn't feel so hot anymore! Yet, however hard he scrubbed, it wouldn't shift; the shade was permanent.
The Summers were doing the school run that morning, and Toby arrived in time to get the pointy end of Simon’s temper. Just before they got into the car, he had time to say one thing to his boyfriend—who was apparently in a better mood than he deserved to be—and hissed, "You stupid shithead!"
They rode along in silence in their van, and it wasn't until they got to school that they could speak freely. After explaining to Toby in no uncertain terms that no, he wasn't just over-reacting, he was shocked at Toby's shrugged reply. Aghast, he cried, “What do you mean you haven’t got any left?” His last hope in the time that he had, had been to get hold of the color removal gel he'd been promised. Yet now Toby was saying he didn’t have any!
Toby shrugged again, and didn’t seemed to get how fucking catastrophic this was. “I don't know what else I can do?" he said. "Sorry, but I used it last night.”
"What do you mean you haven't got it?" Simon screeched. ‘What the hell happened to it? You told me you could get the stuff out!”
“Keep your voice down!" Toby threw a cagey glance around about them. "Look, I said I'm sorry, alright. I used most of it to take the red out, so I could try blue." He shrugged. "Maybe there's bit left…not much…”
”So what the hell am I going to do now?” Simon was furious, and sick with worry. “This was your idea, so there’d better be enough to fix it before I have to go to the clinic this afternoon!”
"Don't get fucking mad at me, just because you don't want to get cut!" Toby fired back, referring, yet again, to Simon’s determination not to be circumcised. "It's not my fault you've got a problem!"
Simon glared. "For the millionth time, I haven't got a problem!"
"Sure?" Toby's entire mood was dark now. "You need to get it unhooded! Even I think that. So who cares if your dick hair is orange? Just trim it off, for God's sake!" With that, he stormed off leaving Simon fuming.
This was a disaster, and there would be no time to get to the store to buy what he needed before having to drive to the clinic. What the hell was everyone going to think when he took off his underwear and they discovered his orange pubes - or none? It was hard to know what was worse! Toby just didn’t get it. What if they put two and two together and decided he was queer? What then?
The whole day, he felt completely sick, and no amount of hiding in the toilet stalls and rubbing his curls with spit and toilet roll made the slightest difference. The last day of term was meant to be a party, but for him, it was turning into a nightmare! The hours ground by slowly, and Toby was hardly talking to him—and vice-versa.
Once he got home, he didn't even bother to get changed before grabbing his bike to get to Toby’s as quickly as he could. He had about thirty five minutes before his dad had said they would have to leave to drive in to the clinic. Fifteen to get there, ten back. It didn't leave much time.
Luke caught him on the driveway, cutting into his time even more. “Where are you off to? You know what Mum said. Dad’s gonna be here soon.”
Simon pushed past him and growled. “Just piss off. There’s something I need to do first." He pedaled off the drive and down onto the road without offering more.
Luke’s voice called a warning after him. "Well, you’d better not be late!”
Legs burning, he made it up the long hill in twelve minutes, arriving hot and sweaty at the Skerrit house. “Okay, where is it?” he demanded.
They went straight up into the tree house again, and his eyes flicked out of the window to where he could see Grace sunning herself and relaxing on the back deck, sipping from a long glass. “I’ve got about then minutes to get this put right," he pleaded, checking his watch, desperate to believe something could be done.
Toby lifted up a small tube. “Like I told you, this is all there is.” He squeezed as hard as he could and a small pea appeared at the end. It was useless.
Simon kept his voice low. “Fucking hell! What have you done?”
Toby’s anger boiled over again. “Come on—you’re the one that agreed to do it in the first place!”
“Only because you made me!”
"Oh, right." He was fuming now. "It's always my fault with you, isn't it!" Angrily he threw the tube and it bounced off the end wall.
He continued to glower until Simon said, “Okay, I'm sorry." He looked around the tree house, hopeful to spot some yet unnoticed secret potion. "Have you got anything else that would work?”
Toby was short. “Like I said before, if you don't like the color, then shave it off.”
It was the last straw, even though he'd guessed it might be coming. He hissed through clenched teeth. “Shave it off? Are you mental? Don’t you get it? I have my doctor’s appointment today!”
Toby remained just as angry. “Do you want my help of not? Look, I’m sorry, but it’s not my fault that your mom changed your date. At least if you shaved it off, you could pretend you hadn't started growing them yet—” He trailed off, acknowledging that it was pretty weak. "Or because you thought it was necessary for the operation..."
"I'm not HAVING an operation!" Simon spat back defiantly. No way was that happening. But in the end, he knew that of all the options he had left, being orange was not one of them. He looked at his watch. “Look, I’ve got less than ten minutes. Where’s a razor? And some soap or something.” It would be best to do it now rather than go home and start searching there. Toby stood there as if he was in another world, and Simon raised his tone several notches. “NOW!”
That put Toby in a sulk as he left by the ladder to go find a razor. Alone up in the branches, Simon waited, fretting and trying to decide how to best explain why he’d felt the need to shave off all his pubes for what he assumed would be just a quick examination.
Fucking hell - why the hell did it have to be now?
The minutes ticked by as he stared out of open door towards the kitchen door, waiting for Toby to return. As he watched, Grace stood from where she'd been sitting on the deck, and went inside the house. He wondered about going down and asking for her help.
Finally Toby appeared, crossed the grass, and scrambled back up the ladder as fast he could climb. He was breathing hard when he pulled in through the door.
‘So,” Simon demanded, searching Toby’s hands. “Where is it?”
“I couldn’t find a razor,” muttered Toby, not meeting his demanding gaze. “I looked, but if Mom has them, I don’t know where.” He shrugged awkwardly. “Maybe she's run out. Then she was wandering around,” he added quickly. “So I had to hi-tail it out of her room. All I could find was this.” Out of his pocket he pulled a packet.
“WAX THEM?” Simon stared in shock. “Fucking hell, you’ve got to be kidding!”
Toby shrugged again. “It’s all there is.”
With a fevered expression, Simon looked at his watch. Six minutes, and even that was pushing it. He was out of time, and with that, options. Without a word he pushed down his trousers and briefs. “This is going to fucking hurt, isn’t it…”
If Grace had still been in the garden, she might have been surprised by the series of agonized squeals that erupted from inside the tree house!
>* * *
Luke’s dad was out the back of the house, enjoying reading the paper under the shade of the big parasol. He looked up when Luke poked his head through the door. "So where was Mum going?” Luke asked. It would have to have been important for her to leave all this to their dad.
Geoff turned a page of the cumbersome newsprint, straightened out the creases, and replied. “She's taken Anne Kear out for a coffee, I think. They planned it a while back."
Luke smirked. “A grilling you mean?” And he didn’t mean anything related to meat! His dad chuckled. “So how are they doing?” Luke added.
“The Kears?” Geoff turned another page. “No idea. I guess we’ll find out later.” He straightened the paper and then checked his watch. “So where's that brother of yours? We should be going soon.”
Where was Simon? That was a good question! He did his best to cover for his brother, hoping he wouldn’t let him down."Oh, he just popped out," he replied airily. "Not sure where. He promised he’d be back in time.” He didn’t expect a no-show from his brother—in fact he didn’t even expect Simon to be late. It just wouldn’t be like him at all. However, from the mood he'd been in all day, it looked like Simon was going to be difficult. He approached the problem with his dad.
“Do you want me to come too?”
His dad looked up again from his paper. “To the docs you mean? Got nothing better to do now you’re on holiday?"
Luke rolled his eyes.
His dad grinned and then continued. "I thought it would be just the two of us, but you can if you like." Despite the banter, Luke could see that he looked relieved. “At least you know the way and what to expect during the op," he added. "Honestly, I haven’t a clue!" He closed the paper. "Is it just me, or do you get the feeling that your brother's not that keen.”
“Keen?" About as enthusiastic as a guy being strapped to an electric chair! Simon had resisted the idea of having anything done to his dick the whole way. "No, not really," he agreed. "But at least it’s only a checkup.”
"Well, maybe not." His dad's tone became more circumspect. "From what Mum said, the plan seems to be that, if he needs it, the doc is going to go ahead and get it done there and then. I’ll just need to fill in the forms.”
Luke frowned. He'd kind of suspected from the phone conversation that that was where it was heading. If so, it meant trouble.
"I mean she's probably right," Geoff continued, folding up the AJC at last and dropping it on the low drinks table. "If Simon has the same condition you had..."
"Phimosis," Luke prompted.
"That's the one. So if he has that, then Mum's right. It's better to get it sorted out, like you needed."
"Maybe," he allowed. "And if he takes it badly?" It didn’t bode well and he knew Simon certainly wasn’t—pun unintended—going to take it lying down.
His dad frowned. "I know. I guess we face that when we get there."
Luke nodded. “I really had better come then.”
Through the kitchen, they heard the cash of the front door bang shut. It sounded angry. It had to be Simon. However, rather than coming through to the kitchen, they heard him going upstairs. A bedroom door banged as well, and Luke could see the questions in his dad’s eyes. Sidestepping them, he stood. “I’ll just go let him know we're about ready to go.”
Trotting up the stairs, he first knocked at, and then opened Simon’s door. Si was sitting on the bed and his face was tight. From the door, Luke pondered him. “Are you okay?” he asked.
Simon snapped back. “Why shouldn’t I be okay?”
Luke's eyes scanned the room, but there were no clues, though he had no doubt that the upcoming appointment had a lot to do with Simon’s mood.
“Do you want me to come with you to the clinic?” he tried. His brother knew they would have be leaving in a few minutes. “I mean I don’t mind,” he offered again when he was met with a stony silence.
“No, I don’t want you to come!”
Luke evaded the rejection patiently. Now wasn’t the time to let Si know that he would probably end up walking out of the surgery that evening with a Klamp welded to his wanger. But when he did discover that little bit of news, he'd be glad of a friendly face. “Look, it’s not that bad, honest.”
Simon growled back. “How the hell would you know?” He sounded fraught; a lot more than he needed to be for what he thought was going to be a checkup. And, as Simon was well aware, Luke did know a whole lot about what was coming. No, there was something else going on here that didn’t make sense, and his hackles rose.
"Si, what happened?" Luke tried to piece it together. "Did Toby hurt you?”
“You’re not fucking wrong!” Simon spat back, and Luke was shocked by the language. This wasn’t like his brother at all. What the hell was going on, and what the hell had Toby done?
Abruptly, Simon stood and pushed down the front of his school pants, and then his boxers.
“Shit, Si!" Luke's mouth dropped. "What the hell did you do?”
It didn't compute. Scraped had drawn itself out weeks ago. In the intervening time, bushes had begun to grown back—or least for most. A surprising number—including some he knew well—had apparently got a taste for keeping it short! He'd let his own pubes grown back in, and maybe it was because of teen growing spurts, but his were now at the point where he was considering a subtle trim.
“It’s bloody better than being orange!” Simon sat down on the bed again and looked miserable. “It was a fucking stupid thing to do. What the hell is Dad going to say when he sees that!”
Luke was still struggling to piece it all together. “Orange? What was orange? You don’t mean your pubes?” Across from him, Simon flushed a deep red, and he knew he was right.
“We were just messing around," Simon muttered, his ears burning. "But Toby didn’t have the stuff to take the color out again.” He looked so ashamed of himself, it was hard to watch. “But with going to the docs now, I had to do something.”
“So you shaved them off,” Luke hazarded.
“Kind of.” Simon looked hunted. “Actually we waxed them." He stopped, seeing the horrified look that Luke couldn't mask, and then hurried on. "It wasn't my idea. It was all there was!" He looked desperate and his eyes flicked warily to the door as he hissed, "What's Dad going to say?"
Knowing how the appointment was likely to play out, Luke suspected their dad would be pretty likely to end up behind the curtain. Would he put two and two together? Would he start asking questions about Simon and Toby? He got why Si was so alarmed. A lot was at stake!
"I thought maybe I could tell them that I thought I needed to do it for the checkup or something," said Simon, agitated and beginning to pace. Abruptly once more, he sat down. "Fucking hell...what am I going to do?"
Luke kept his thoughts to himself. This was getting ridiculous! He had lots of questions, but most were none of his business. “Listen, don’t sweat it.” He tried to sound encouraging. “I’ll think of something, I promise. Come on—it’ll be fine.”
“God, I feel such an idiot!” said Simon, though Luke could tell there was a hint of relief in his voice now. There was also no more talk of Luke not coming along for the ride.
From downstairs, their dad’s voice called. “Okay, you two. Time to go!”
They took their dad’s car with its comfortable leather seats and smart trim. The aircon ran comfortably cool and their dad drove smooth and fast onto the perimeter highway, confidently easing his way through the kind of traffic that he had to deal with daily. In the back, Simon remained up tight and silent. Luke tried to make up for it as best he could.
“Just along here," he said at last, spotting the McDonalds on the opposite side. Despite the Friday afternoon traffic, they'd made the journey remarkably quickly, and he finally pointed across to the parking lot that was coming up on the right. “There it is. Just pull in there.”
It felt strange to be coming back to the familiar Medical Centre yet again. The parking lot was surprisingly busy when they stepped out of the car into the warm, late-afternoon sun. Their dad was upbeat as he keyed the four-door lock and studied the imposing brick edifice. “Okay,” he said, slipping his sunglasses into this top pocket. “Show us the way!”
So it was with a weird sense of nervous anticipation that Luke led his dad into the foyer of the Center. Dragging his feet and carrying a taut expression, Simon came in behind them.
Inside, Luke took his bearings. Frankly, it wasn’t anything like he remembered! Not that it didn't look the same. It did. He was surrounded by the same plush carpet and comfortable waiting area, and at the same central desk was a competent—and quite pretty—receptionist. He wasn’t quite sure whether he wanted to see Ella, the doctor’s daughter, or not, but either way, he could see straight away that it wasn't her manning the desk that afternoon.
However, it was different because it felt different. It dawned on him that what made it that way was...well, him—and he realized that none of what had previously consumed him mattered in the same way quite so much anymore. It was a surprising insight.
That day, the waiting area was also full of people, though why the hell people choose to be sick late on a Friday afternoon on the last day of school and just before a great weekend was beyond him. Couldn't they wait until Monday? A low hum of chatter filled the foyer, and past them all, he now recognized the girl at the desk as being the one that he'd handed his notes to, just before he'd left the last time. He stepped up to her and smiled.
"Oh, hello there!" She smiled back and seemed to recognize him as they approached the counter. He grinned back, feeling like a regular. "Simon Summers," he offered. His dad seemed happy to let him drive, so he got on with it.
She checked her book to confirm, nodded and picked up the phone.
“Hello… Yes... Yes, Simon Summers is here.” She paused and listened, and then added, “I will, thank you.” Putting down the phone again, she handed him a clipboard. “Doctor Tiberius will be out shortly, Simon. In the meantime you and your parent will need to fill out a few forms. It's all on here."
"No, no." Maybe he wasn't that memorable after all! "I'm not Simon."
"You're not?" She seemed confused, and studied her book again. "Mmmm...it says here that the appointment seems to be for a Simon."
Oh for heaven’s sake! He couldn't believe they were having the conversation. Surely she wasn't about to tell him to make a proper appointment?
His dad stepped in. "No, this is Simon," said Geoff, smoothly edging Luke’s younger brother to the front.
The girl seemed relieved and recovered quickly. "Of course it is," she said. She beamed as she passed Geoff the papers that needed completing. His dad took the pen and, while Luke and Simon watched, started scribbling. Working down the page, he frowned.
“Crikey! Some of these are tough!" Geoff looked thoughtful. "Middle name?” He glanced at Simon questioningly, but you could tell he was joking around. “Mum really fancied ‘Chloe’. Let’s go with that.”
Simon wasn’t to be drawn out of his mood, but the girl giggled.
Geoff continued. “There’s more here…” He looked up again, appearing serious. “You’ve not had heart surgery the last couple of days have you?”
Simon glared. “No!”
Geoff ticked a box looking satisfied, and continued down the list of what was clearly some medical history form. “Okay…drugs.” He looked at Simon again. “Are you on drugs?”
“Dad!” Finally a smile cracked Simon’s face.
Geoff continued to appear perplexed. “Luke, is he on drugs?”
“I don’t think so.” Out of the corner of his eye Luke could see that most of the waiting room seemed to be following along, many grinning openly too. His dad was on a roll, and the girl at the desk was giggling steadily by now. What a flirt his dad was!
“Okay, I think we got it now.” Geoff passed the clipboard back and pointed helpfully at the first question. ”It’s Chloe, with an ‘h’.”
“DAD!” Simon rolled his eyes, but was saved from any more teasing when Luke heard a familiar voice.
“Well, hello there, Luke!”
Luke turned to find the imposing figure of A. Jonathan Tiberius looking as large as life. Despite feeling he knew him, Luke still felt a little intimidated by the physician. Tiberius reached out his hand and Luke shook it politely. “Hello, sir.”
His dad, however, seemed as at ease with Tiberius as he had been with the receptionist. He stepped forward and held out his hand. “Geoff Summers.”
“Mr. Summers…Jonathan Tiberius.” Tiberius beamed, shaking firmly. “Good to meet you. How's your dear wife.”
“As you can see, Doctor, she left me with the short straw today! And call me Geoff.” He smiled and his eyes had a knowing look. “We’re depending on Luke here to steer us in the right direction!”
Tiberius nodded and seemed in a good humor. “And this must be Simon,” he said. Perhaps he recognized the taciturn signs in the still rather brooding face of Luke’s brother and continued on smoothly. "So, why don’t we all go through to my office?”
He held the door for them and Luke found himself leading the way as Tiberius and his dad followed on behind, chatting as they walked. At the door to his office, he and Simon stood to one side and waited for Tiberius to lead them in.
Entering, the recollections surfaced. It was probably a mixture of the smell and the familiar sofa as the memories of the previous times he’d been there suddenly flared into life.
It seemed like yesterday!
He smirked to himself as he recalled how he’d gone head to head with his mum over his insistence to get cut, and her just as strong determination that he should not! It seemed peculiar to have his dad with them now—like someone who came to the party late. On the other hand, he didn't actually feel delighted to be there either, not when he was trying to close a chapter.
Still, Simon needed him, so they settled on the sofa and Luke wasn’t surprised to see that, on the table, along with the traditional bowl of fruit, a couple of copies of the circumcision booklet rested.
After they’d made themselves comfortable, Tiberius took the lead. “So, Luke," he said. How’s it been?”
There didn’t seem any need to ask what ‘it’ was! “Oh…really good, thanks," Luke replied. He tried to gather his thoughts and kicked himself. He’d been thinking so much about Simon, SmartKlamps and orange pubes, he couldn't believe he hadn’t anticipated the fairly obvious question that would naturally come his way. What a total dork! Quickly he gathered himself.
“Well, like you said, it was a bit…errr…sore at first…but now it’s good.” Sore would do—sensitive didn't feel quite appropriate. For his brother's sake he tried to sound as positive as he could. “It’s great. I’m really happy with how it’s turned out. Thank you!”
His mind went into overdrive. Hell—now it was on the table, there were actually quite a few questions he did want to ask. But it was only things he that he would want to get into if it were just him and Tiberius, one-on-one. Stuff like how long did it take the glans to fully dry out? How quickly would the sensitivity diminish? Would it remain as tight as it was when he boned up, or would it loosen over time?
Tiberius’ eyes twinkled, and in the end, all he got was, “Then I'm delighted to have another satisfied customer!
“And what about you, Simon?” Tiberius switched to where Simon was perched, looking acutely uncomfortable on edge of the sofa. ”Can we assume that you know at least a little bit about the procedure from your brother?”
Simon didn’t immediately reply, so Geoff answered in his stead, “I think the whole family went through quite a steep learning curve on that one, Jonathan.”
“Simon and I talked quite a lot about it,” added Luke. “Didn’t we, Si?”
This time Simon nodded.
“Well, good then.” Tiberius seemed satisfied. He glanced at Geoff and winked. “Luke seemed to know his stuff even better than me! Still planning on Med School, Luke?”
“Med School?” Geoff was genuinely surprised. “Really? I didn’t know you were considering that.” There was a parental gleam in his eye.
“Just something I was thinking about,” said Luke, squirming a little. “Ella’s at Med School.”
“Ella’s my daughter,” added Tiberius for clarification.
Luke could see the gleam in his dad’s eye sharpen. “She’s nearly finished,” he said quickly. Crap, not THAT again!
“Literally only a couple of weeks to go,” confirmed Tiberius. He looked at his watch. “Actually, she’s been in exams all day." He shot Luke a wry glance. "If you do go to Med School, Luke, they can be pretty relentless with those. Not like in my day, I’m thankful to say!"
The doctor's eyes flicked to Simon again. “What about you, Simon?” he probed. “Is medicine your thing, too?”
Simon shook his head.
“Simon’s a bit of math whizz,” said Luke on his brother’s behalf.
“Ah.” Tiberius had a knowing look. “So you appreciate logic and certainty, and hate being late!”
For the first time, Simon’s face cleared. Sullen became puzzled and then intrigued. He nearly smiled. “How did you know?”
Luke grinned. Right there, Tiberius had just described his brother to a tee!
“I’m married to one, I’m afraid. My lovely wife teaches math. She solves quadratic equations in her sleep and I, as Luke knows, can’t even use a computer properly!" He smirked. "We get on like a house on fire!”
At that, Simon giggled. The room lightened considerably, and Tiberius took them forward. “Well, Simon, as you know, your parents think you might have the same Phimosis problem with your foreskin that Luke suffered.”
Simon shrugged, but seemed willing to talk now. “So mum said. I don’t want an operation though, whatever anyone says.” Again his face took on a hard look.
Tiberius didn’t seem put off. “Well, why don’t we at least have a look? I can tell you what I think, and we can take it from there?” It did seem logical and Simon nodded.
“Good,” said Tiberius. He stood and Luke's eyes followed to where he gestured toward the medical couch in the corner. “Why don’t you take your shoes off and then pop yourself up on there for me?”
Simon stood too. He looked uneasy, and is eyes flicked towards Luke as he pulled at his shoes. The message in them was desperately clear. Help!
Luke had been thinking about this a lot and had several options to solve Simon’s problem of the missing bush—none of them brilliant. He already knew there would be no way out of Simon ending up on that couch and being required to push his pants down. From experience, that was going to be unavoidable. So, Plan A had to be to minimize the fallout.
Probably assuming that his attendance was required, he felt his dad begin to shift position ready to stand too, so he spoke quickly. “Dad, maybe you and I should just wait here and let them get on with it?”
It had to be better than nothing. Simon still had to show his bare skin to Tiberius, but the man was a professional, and Si could probably just brazen it out in the knowledge that he’d not have to see much of the guy again anyway, after today.
It would remain a secret.
He caught the look in Simon’s eye just before the curtain closed, blocking off the view. His brother looked worried, but at least their dad had stayed this side. For his part, their dad didn’t seem at all put out that he’d been excluded from the show. He and their mum were like chalk and cheese in some things!
In the end Luke hoped it would be win-win!
From behind the muffling curtain, he heard Tiberius say, “Just slide your pants and underwear down a little for me, Simon.” There was the sound of shuffling and then. “Perfect—thank you. Okay, let’s see what we can see…” Luke was relieved that nowhere in that was a ‘OH, GOOD GOD YOUNG MAN! What have you done with your pubes?’
Alongside him at the coffee table as they waited patiently while Simon was being examined, Luke's dad reached forward and picked up one of the circumcision booklets. Studying him ad out of the corner of his eye and semi-guessing what was to come, Luke wasn't too surprised to see his eyes widen as he flicked through the pages. In defense of the awkwardly explicit manual, he stepped in and tried not to smirk.
“Everyone gets that,” he said, watching his dad scan the gallery of happy—and not so happy—penises! "He uses it to explain about circumcision and Phimosis." Not to forget all the other dick diseases stashed in there!
“Goodness,” Geoff breathed, as he ended up on something that looked particularly painful. “Did your mother see this?”
“Afraid so.” This time, Luke couldn't stop a grin.
“It’s enough to give a guy goose bumps!” His dad shuddered and put the booklet back on the table. "Why anyone would want to be a urologist beats me!"
Luke didn't blame him. Some of those pics were pretty gruesome. Despite Ryan's teasing, he didn't particularly aspire to urology either!
Changing the direction of the conversation, his dad's eyes flicked to the curtain through which they could hear the to and fro of the examination. Geoff leaned forward and lowered his voice considerably. “You know that this isn’t going to go well if Simon needs to have it done?"
Luke chewed his lip as the type of questions and answers drifting out from behind the curtain made that outcome—at least in his experience—increasingly likely. On the other hand, nobody could really force Simon to have an operation…not even their mum. On top of that, he didn't think Tiberius would buy into it either. Simon wasn't exactly a kid!
"And if he refuses?" Surely his dad had to know it was a possibility.
There was no time to get an answer as the curtain suddenly swished back. Luke twisted and looked across to see the couch upon which Simon was still sitting, staring back stoically. His brother had covered up, but he still didn't look too happy.
Still wearing a pair of medical gloves, Tiberius didn't hang around in delivering his verdict. "Well, the Phimosis isn't as pronounced as with Luke, but I can see that Simon is definitely suffering from the same condition.”
Geoff stood, apparently ready to take the bull by the horns. “Well, I guess if that’s how it is, then the best will be to get it done as soon as we can," he said. His tone was finely balanced between condolence, encouragement, and a determined attempt to do the right thing. "Lucy said that you would probably be able to fit one of the same SmartKlamp’s that Luke wore and do it this afternoon.”
If he still hoped that it might be that simple, he was sorely mistaken!
“NO WAY!” squeaked Simon immediately. “I’m not having it done. Not today. Not any day. End of!” He slipped off the bed quickly, as if worried that Tiberius might try to Klamp him while he was distracted!
Geoff pressed on sounding reasonable. "Simon – Mum thinks…”
“I don’t care what Mum thinks,” Simon interrupted. “I told you, I…”
“Could I perhaps suggest a different course of action?” In the midst of the friction, Tiberius seemed to maintain his usual calm demeanor.
“I don’t want to have anything cut off! It’s my dick, isn’t it?”
“Simon!” Geoff’s voice held a growled warning, and Luke tried not to grin as Simon let it all hang out.
“I understand, Simon.” Tiberius didn’t seem put out by the classroom vernacular. “Now that we've got a good idea of the problem, it's my job to try to advise you, and offer options if I can. And there may be several."
"Alternatives?" Simon remained cautious. “Such as?”
Tiberius turned to the stack of drawers on which his box of sterile gloves was resting. Pulling out one of them, he retrieved an instrument sealed in a sterile bag, and declared, “This is called a ‘Glansie’."
Nobody was any the wiser—even Luke—so he continued, “Like I said, Simon’s case of Phimosis is nowhere near as acute as it was with you, Luke. And with Simon being a little younger, I’m hopeful that a little judicial stretching might be all that’s needed to enable him to retract his foreskin properly.”
“Stretching?” Simon looked hopeful. “Just stretching it is all I need? No SmartKlamp or cutting or anything?”
“Well, it’s an option. Let’s give it a go, shall we?”
"What? Now?" Simon brightened, though his tone still remained cautious. "You can do it now, and that would be it?”
Tiberius shook his head. “I can show you what to do now—some simple exercises—but it will take quite some time before we might see the kind of result that’s needed." He raised his hand to indicate caution. "We can't be one hundred per cent completely sure that it will do the trick, but the outcome is greatly improved the more diligent you are working at it on a daily basis.”
“I can do it!” Simon seemed elated at the news and didn’t seem to care what the specifics of ‘it’ even were. “Show me what to do!” He hopped back on the couch again.
Simon's head was clearly somewhere else as, watching from the sofa, Luke saw it all coming, even before his brother did. As it all played out in Luke’s head, their dad moved closer.
"A Glansie?" Geoff repeated, studying something that Luke vaguely recognized.
"Yes. It's one of the instruments we use," said Tiberius as he broke the seal on the packet and drew it out. "I'm going to show you how to properly use it Simon, and you need to watch carefully. We don't want you doing any accidental damage."
"Damage?" Their dad had now joined the party at the couch. He'd decided it was important for him to watch and learn too. He spoke lightly. "We'd better make sure we know what we're doing then!"
Poor Si. Luke could see the terrible dilemma of it play across his face as he realized he was caught between a rock and a hard place. There seemed no way out as Tiberius waited expectantly for him to get it all out again. Being offered a stretching option, it was by far the lesser of two evils, but there was still a price to pay, and it led to Simon shuffling once more out of his pants and boxers. Flushing an intensely awkward red around the nape of his neck, he waited.
He didn't have to wait for long.
"So, Jonathan, how does—" began Geoff. Abruptly he stopped and Luke took his cue to slip off the sofa and join them. Just in time for, "...for goodness sake, Simon, what happened to you?"
Luke cringed, but couldn't blame his dad. It wasn't just the fact that poor Si had been completely stripped of his 'short and curlies', but he could see more of what he'd missed earlier. One side of Simon’s pubic area was angrily red and it looked like the waxing had caused quite a bit of bleeding where his hairs had been ripped out by their roots. If there happened to be a safe and proper way to wax, Simon—and presumably Toby, too—hadn't discovered it!
One thing had to be true…it must have hurt like crazy!
Simon's color deepened further and he sounded tightly uncomfortable as he said, "I thought I had to shave it for the checkup." His eyes flashed a terrible look of desperation in Luke's direction.
Luke stepped up to the plate. Time for Plan B!
"Oh...I'm afraid that's my fault," he muttered, trying to look, and sound, as shocked and guilty as he could. "It was just meant to be a joke, Si!"
"What was meant to be a joke?" Their dad sounded genuinely confused. "What the heck are you talking about?"
" I...errr...well you're actually meant to trim if you're having a SmartKlamp fitted." Luke shrugged. "Well, I might have told him that the booklet said you had to shave everything off..." He trailed off. "Still, it must have been a pretty useless razor." He hoped he sounded remorseful enough that they would buy it. "Sorry, I didn't actually think you'd go ahead and do it."
"You told him he had to shave?" His dad sounded incredulous. "For heaven’s sake, Luke, why the heck would you do that?"
"WHAT?" Willingly playing his part, Simon looked furious.
Luke shrugged again and tried to look sheepish. "Sorry, Si. It just seemed funny at the time..."
His dad rolled his eyes and then flicked an exasperated glance between the two of them. "What are you two like!? I'm not sure who's the biggest idiot, you for talking him into it, or you for believing him!" Geoff said, glancing back and forth between them.
"I can put some cream on there before we've finished, Simon," offered Tiberius who, like in most things, was taking it all in his stride. "It does look a little sore."
Sore? Luke hated to think how painful the ripping of those orange hairs must have been to leave that amount of damage.
Tiberius seemed ready to move on and balanced the metal tool in his hands. "Simon, it's all about increasing the circumference."
"Pi D," returned Simon immediately. The math reference seemed to draw him out again, as he flicked a grateful glance Luke's direction. The color around his neck subsided.
“It was two Pi R in my day, but let’s not quibble,” smirked their dad, apparently happy to move on, too. “But if stretching is going to solve the problem, then we’re up for that, aren’t we, Simon? So how does that little puppy work?”
That was the thing about their dad, Luke mused. He had this easygoing way about him that made everyone feel good. He probably didn’t even know he was doing it, but you always knew he was on your side. And watching his dad work that magic now, Luke thought Harry Potter would have been proud of him, and it was as though he had cast a Petronus spell that had the power to banish the fears that had been plaguing Simon with the mess he'd got into with Toby, and his worries about having to face a circumcision operation as well.
The normal Simon reappeared, brightened considerably, and he become expectant. He didn’t even seem to be bothered he had a crowd staring at his groin anymore! "It's a Glansie, Dad!" he grinned. "Not a puppy!"
"Glansie it is, sunshine!" Geoff smiled and then held up his hands defensively. "Help me out here, Jonathan. I'm a bit out of my depth. You should probably give me a quick refresher."
Tiberius slid the Glansie tool back into its wrapper and placed it on the worktop. He went into teaching mode, something Luke felt he did pretty well.
“Well, as you probably know,” Tiberius replied, warming to his task, “the problem with Phimosis is with the tight band here.” Luke watched with interest as the doctor performed the same maneuver on his brother as he had on himself that day he’d come in for his own checkup. Holding Simon firmly at the base, Tiberius attempted to retract him.
Luke felt just a tad awkward at standing there watching. Even though it was a case of ‘been there, done that’, it was after all still another guy’s dick that they were all studying! Simon on the other hand seemed remarkably unfazed by the whole procedure as, in exactly the same way that it had with Luke, his foreskin wedged against his glans. It was tight, but with his practiced eye, it appeared to Luke to go back a little bit more than it had with him. Their dad’s eyes widened, and he had an appalled look on his face, which mirrored their mum’s when she first saw this. For his dad, who appreciated what it meant, maybe it was even worse.
“Ouch! Wow…” Geoff was still smiling encouragingly, but his voice was as pinched as the skin covering his son’s little pecker! He paused and looked awkward and, for once, seemed at a loss for words. “Mum told me about it, but… I guess we should have picked up on this a long time ago.”
“It’s okay, Dad,” said Simon quickly. You could tell he didn’t think anyone was at fault. “It doesn’t hurt or anything.”
"However," intervened Tiberius, "I'm afraid there is the likelihood that when Simon is sexually active, this tightness can be quite painful."
Luke kept any reaction out of his face. Maybe Tiberius had to have this conversation with parents and their sons on a regular basis, but he seemed remarkably at ease with being able to reflect on the concept that little Jimmy—or whatever their name was—would soon be rolling in the sack and pounding some chick!
"Ah...yes...I see..." Like their mum, his dad didn't appear quite so comfortable with the issue.
"So this is a Glansie," Tiberius repeated, picking up the tool once more and sliding it out of its pack. "Let me show you how it works."
Luke watched Simon's eyes widen as Tiberius poised the ‘Glansie’ at the tip of his brother's dick.
“It’s quite simple, Simon,” the doctor said, though Simon visibly squirmed as the end of what was effectively a pair of pliers looked like it was about to be inserted up the place from were he usually peed!
“It won't hurt – will it?”
Luke studied the chrome-steel instrument and felt Simon had a valid question.
On the face of it, it was a pair of pliers—but with a few differences. First, the ends had been turned at an angle and were smooth and partially flattened. At least they looked blunt! The handles were joined by some kind of ratchet system allowing them to be closed, and the beaks could be opened notch by notch. In his mind’s eye, he could already visualize what would happen. At the same time, it reminded him vividly of the time Tiberius had slid a cold metal spatula in a similar place during one of his own visits. That had been grim!
“I guess you didn’t get them from Home Depot?” quipped Geoff, also eyeing the tool cautiously.
Tiberius smiled politely, but otherwise ignored the wisecrack. “No, it won’t hurt Simon,” he said. “And if it does, it’s a sign that you’re trying to stretch too hard and too fast. Here, let me show you.”
The room went nervously silent as Tiberius advanced the blunt beaks though the end of Simon’s foreskin, edging the instrument forwards and beginning to open the ratchet smoothly until the beaks reached the point of the bend. Simon squirmed, though it was hard to know if it was hurting or not.
Notch by notch, Tiberius open the ratchet against the tightness of the restricting band. “And that’s it,” he said, reaching a point that he felt was right. "You should be able to feel it stretching without hurting."
Simon nodded. "And that's all it is?" He seemed relieved as Tiberius held the tool in place on the end of his dick, which gaped like some hungry worm.
"That's all it is. Yes." Tiberius released the ratchet and withdrew the tool. He passed it to Simon. “Okay, why don’t you try?”
Simon’s attempt was more fumbled than Tiberius had been, and it probably didn’t help to have everyone watching him as he took the proffered instrument. But, several in-and-outs later, he seemed to have got the hang of it.
“You’ve got it,” beamed the Doctor. “Now just click through the ratchet until you can feel it becoming tight, but stop before it hurts.”
“For how long?”
“Oh at least twenty minutes each time. And several times a day if you’re able. The more committed you are to stretching that little band every day, the quicker it will become loose enough for you to retract. Morning and night at the very least.”
Luke smothered a grin. A boy being given permission to play with his dick as frequently, and for as long as he could? God…could life get any better than that?
“But…don’t rush it, either,” added Tiberius. Simon looked up too, as they all heard the distinct warning tones. “Firstly, only tighten to the point where you can feel it stretching the skin. It's a fine line. You need to take it to the place where it's tight enough to be a little uncomfortable, and then hold it like that for as long as you can. But don't stretch to the point where it hurts. It's a point only you know by feel. Does that make sense?"
Simon nodded. He inserted the tips again, more certain this time. "Well, just now," he said, concentrating, " it's..." He operated the ratchet and they watched the circumference edge wider, "...just about there." He beamed in the knowledge that he'd cracked it.
"Perfect! Over the next couple of months, you should be able to notch it wider as the time goes by."
“Months?” Simon seemed a little deflated by the time scale.
“Months,” repeated Tiberius. “It’s not a quick fix, Simon, but if you stick at it, then I’m hopeful that in your case, we can resolve the condition without surgery. What’s really important is that you don’t try to force your foreskin to retract before there’s enough loose skin to do it safely. If you do that too soon, you risk the danger of an acute Paraphimosis.”
“That’s not good,” put in Luke, smug with the knowledge that he seemed to be the only one who knew what Tiberius was talking about. He turned and retrieved the booklet from the table and showed them the right page; some kid who’d retracted and it had become angrily swollen. “This is Paraphimosis, isn’t it?” It was pretty gruesome! It also seemed important that Simon knew what the stakes were!
‘Exactly right, Luke,” confirmed Tiberius. “It’s rare, but let’s not risk it. Just take your time Simon. No rushing. In fact we’ll make a follow-up appointment for about six weeks from now to check your progress.”
"So, we can keep this one?" Geoff hazarded.
"Of course you may." Tiberius took the instrument from Simon, wiped the blades with something from a bottle and slid them back into the packet. "Just keep it clean with soap and water, and wipe the ends with a little antiseptic before you use it." He passed the packet to Geoff who had that look of, 'thank God we don't have to go out and buy one!'
Fifteen minutes later, they were back on the perimeter and driving home, with Simon in a rather better mood than on the way down. In the back, he was playing with the Glansie. He called through to the front. "Dad?"
Geoff glanced back through the mirror. "Yep?"
"You won't tell Mum, will you?"
Luke smirked. He already guessed what Simon meant!