The Jungle Book
Well, it made me smile, coming to it afresh after twenty-odd years. A line or two in it needs editing, like many early stories: understatement is an art I didn't employ enough in the early days, but it's hard to resist the appeal of such an ucompromisingly happy Bodie and Doyle, even so...
The young explorer looked up from his butterfly net with some astonishment to see a large male crashing through the foliage, dressed only in a tigerskin loincloth and swinging towards him on a long creeper. He landed heavily right in front of him.
Raymond Doyle, gentleman, twenty-nine years old with a mop of tawny curls and a sunny equitable nature, looked his new companion over thoughtfully, seeing a dark serious-eyed creature with bare feet firmly planted apart, and long dark hair caught behind and tied with a thin strand of jungle grass. The tigerskin loincloth was perhaps a trifle eccentric, but it was indeed hot -- he himself was feeling limp and flushed under the weight of his tweed knickerbocker suit, and could well imagine that such an outfit would be comfortably cooler, even if it did not quite conceal that which it ought.
Averting his eyes from that area, he wiped his hand on a large kerchief, extended it, and said:
"Dr. Livingstone, I presume? My name's Raymond Doyle; I've come to join your expedition."
The other young man was looking him over with careful attention. He didn't reply. A little uncomfortable under the intense scrutiny, Doyle tried a lopsided grin, running his hand through hot curls. He continued:
"I sent you a letter to inform you of my intended arrival. But they did say the service was pretty uncertain -- some problem with crocodiles, I believe -- the name's Doyle," he said again.
The other man spoke at last on a questioning note. "Doyle?" He had a deep voice which seemed to rumble up from the pit of his brown-skinned stomach.
Doyle nodded emphatically. The man had done some remarkable work; one had to make allowances for his unusual manner. "Yes. Doyle."
The powerfully-built jungle dweller threw his head back to expose the long taut tendons of his throat, his eyes half-shut. Then his chin slowly descended and he met the explorer's gaze once more. He jabbed a finger into his own chest. "Me -- Bodie," he said slowly, with heavy meaning; and then the finger prodded the other man. "You -- Doyle."
Doyle felt a twinge of unease, watching those dark eyes, like a midnight storm, travel over his face and body with passionate interest. Still, it was perfectly natural that a native should be interested in him, he reasoned to himself.
"I'm so sorry. Have I got hold of the wrong chap?" he said, with cheerful British phlegm. "Perhaps you could give me Dr. Livingstone's direction?"
"Me Bodie," interrupted the other man impatiently, as if this was all that mattered. "You Doyle."
"Quite right, but -- "
Then a sweet appealing smile lit the other's handsome face, and the midnight storm passed, melted into velvet night-sea peace.
It was such a very sweet smile that Doyle, enchanted, quite lost his fears, even when Bodie swept him up under one strongly-muscled arm, hoisted them both up the creeper, and took off again through the trees.
"Novel way to travel," he observed, somewhat breathlessly as they swung over thick jungle vegetation at speed. Bodie was yelling again, a loud yodel of triumph and joyous celebration that made Doyle smile to hear it -- the man must surely have recently enjoyed some unexpected fortune while hunting, or something like that. Then, with a thud and a jolt, they landed, not as Doyle had expected on solid ground, but on the ledge of a wooden cabin high in the trees.
He stood where Bodie had gently set him down on his feet, still panting a little from having his ribs squeezed in that bonecrushing grip, and took stock of his surroundings. The cabin had three walls of wooden stakes, and a curtain of hanging vegetation at the front. As Doyle watched with interest, Bodie neatly tied the creeper they had arrived on to one side; then he took Doyle's hand gently in one large paw and led him through the curtain of swinging vines.
Inside it was pleasantly cool, and surprisingly comfortable. There was a carpet of sorts over the floor of lashed wooden struts which looked like lionskin; then there was a heap of pressed rushes which obviously served as a bed. There was one, very dogeared book too, which seemed a little out of place. His new friend seemed concerned that he should admire the habitation, leading him around still with that hand gently entwined with his, pointing out this and that.
After he had been thoroughly shown around and had made many admiring noises, Doyle sat down crosslegged, mopped his face with his handkerchief yet again. "Well, this is all very nice," he said courteously. "Kind of you, to find the time to show it to me."
He thought wistfully of a cup of tea, but didn't quite like to ask. As if reading his mind, Bodie magically produced half a coconut shell filled with sweet milk which Doyle drank down thirstily, and he soon got used to the way Bodie insisted kindly on holding the makeshift vessel for him as he drank, one hand tenderly laced through the curls at the nape of his neck, those beautiful eyes gazing right into his the whole time. When it was finished, Bodie brought him some fruit, laid out carefully on large flat leaves, and, ignoring all attempts Doyle made to take it from him, popped sweet juicy chunks into Doyle's mouth, waiting patiently until he finished each before he slid the next between the parted lips. It was almost like some kind of ritual, thought Doyle amused; he would look it up in his book of native customs. Lord, but they were friendly. He'd heard different tales indeed of the fierce tribes that roamed this jungle; so to be confronted with this courteous man with the beautiful eyes attending to his every need with loving attention was something of a surprise... why, Bodie had even guessed his affliction with the heat and was undoing his boots, sliding them off -- that was better -- socks, too -- now his shirt -- wonderful --
When Bodie's hands reached for the trouser fastening, Doyle stalled it.
"If you don't mind, I think I'd rather leave those on."
The other man, squatting on his heels, paused and looked at him, clearly puzzled.
"Leave them on," Doyle explained, louder. "I come from England; we don't go in for loincloths, you see."
Bodie still didn't seem to understand. He stroked one hand down Doyle's bare arm, then his chest; holding one bare foot tenderly cupped in the other hand. He gesticulated at Doyle's cloth-clad legs with a little, questioning sound.
"Yes, I know it's ridiculous," agreed Doyle, smiling, touched by the native's easy, uninhibited behaviour -- there was certainly something to be said for the untrammelled Native way of life, Doyle himself as a child had been made to bath in a nightshirt lest he catch sight of his own naked body -- but there were some things one just could not do. "I'd really much rather be like you," he said with placatory charm, "you must be so delightfully cool -- oh, good heavens -- "
His eyes widened as Bodie wrenched away the concealing tigerskin and stood dramatically naked, proud and erect, his dark eyes flashing, breathing through arrogantly flared nostrils, the corded muscles in his powerful thighs standing out, clearly displaying himself for Doyle's admiration.
Doyle recovered a measure of poise quite quickly. "It's all been very nice, but I really must be on my way now," he said firmly. Bodie, coming down to earth, radiated non-comprehension. So Doyle pointed to the outside world and then to himself. "Me -- go."
"Go?" repeated the other man, and then shook his head. Seeing that Doyle in his turn did not understand, and frustrated by his inability to communicate, Bodie turned to the old book propped in one corner and hunted through it until he found what he sought, with a grunt of satisfaction.
He laid it carefully on Doyle's lap; it was opened at a page with an illustration.
Doyle stared down. The picture was of a man with his arms around a girl. It was a perfectly chaste picture, nothing like the ones his reprobate uncle had brought back from a visit to Paris and insisted that he look at them -- the very memory was enough to bring a hot flush to his cheeks even now -- and it brought Doyle no instant enlightenment. He looked up at Bodie, puzzled.
Bodie smiled down into his eyes, tender and content. He draped an arm around Doyle's naked shoulders, caressing the soft skin. "You," he purred deeply, pointing at the picture, "Me."
The penny dropped.
Doyle's jaw did, too.
"Ah. Yes. I see," he began, valiantly ignoring the faint tremor in his voice, running a hand through his hair, "Well, I think there's a little misunderstanding here -- "
Bodie had both strong arms around him now, cuddling him gently.
"The thing is -- "
Bodie nuzzled the side of his throat with velvet-soft lips, feeling immensely proud, and loving. Bodie had long been searching for a mate, ever since the heady sap of surging spring had risen singing in his veins one morning as he watched the playful antics of mating chimpanzees; and returned to the solitude of his lonely cabin in a thoughtful silence, to stare at the picture in his book with brooding eyes. Yes, he had known what he wanted; and the instant he had come across the curly-headed creature with the absurd coverings that did not quite conceal the lithe beauty of his form, and the eyes like the cool sparkling lilyflowers that adorned the surface of the lake Bodie knew that here at last was his mate.
Doyle moved restlessly within his grasp. How to deal with this was a definite omission in his manual of jungle survival; he resolved to write a letter to the editor on his return.
"Yes; yes I see what you mean," he began again, "but there is a small problem -- small, but insurmountable -- you see -- " His finger jabbed at the page with more desperation than he'd meant; Bodie's softly stroking lips and tongue were arousing the oddest sensations in him. "This is a girl. Girl," he said with emphasis, darting a quick look up at his affectionate companion to see if there were any signs of dawning comprehension -- none --
"I'm a man. You -- man. Me -- man," he said slowly and clearly.
Bodie just shook his head with tender amusement at this strange disposition of his new mate's to jabber incessantly away when there were far more interesting things to be done. He stroked a finger along the delicate curve of his cheek, glorying in the sweet feel of the damp skin, tracing the appealing line there that softened into a dimple when he grinned; slid a gentle hand behind his neck, rubbing fingers through soft curls. He smiled down into the hot, serious face with half-shy delight.
Doyle shivered. However could he get his point across? A little tremor of wistfulness ran through him as he studied that happy face, the pleasure-creased eyes: he really didn't want to be the cause of making that sweet smile disappear...
He hardened his heart. It just wasn't possible; Bodie would see that when he --
Inspiration struck; and, resigned to an unorthodox step, he rose to his knees, disengaging himself gently from the other man's warm hands. He fumbled with his unwieldy breeches, finally achieving his purpose.
"There!" he cried, and waited for the implication of similarity to sink in.
Bodie thought this was more like it. At last his precious new mate had seen fit to divest himself of the encumbering cloth, holding out his sex and uttering that cry of prideful invitation. Well, if Doyle wanted admiration, Bodie was only too ready with it. He took him gently by the bared hips, and gazed adoringly down at the rosy object Doyle held cradled in his own palm. Both hands being occupied, he bent his head to nuzzle the soft warmth with his mouth and nose, sent a gentle lick sliding over it with his flickering tongue. Doyle gasped, and swayed. Bodie too knelt up, slipping both arms around the identically positioned figure, and pressed his own hardness against Doyle's softness, nudging encouragingly until it began to stir and rise forth from the nest of soft dark hair to duel with his. It all felt dizzyingly wonderful to Bodie who had been a virgin for twenty-six years. With a groan he bore them both down, but careful to keep Doyle on top, lest his fair-skinned new love should find the rushes a discomfort.
Doyle, who had been a virgin for even longer despite the offer of the reprobate uncle to take him to a house of ill-repute as a birthday present, knew he was in deep trouble. He had known it ever since Bodie -- he shivered and grimaced to think of it -- had leant over in that engagingly uninhibited way and pressed his lips to Doyle's maleness in an act that seemed almost one of worship. However, the feelings those soft warm lips, that damp flicking tongue had aroused in him were far from holy.
"I'm extremely sorry," he said politely as he was pulled to lie on top of Bodie, firm hands pressing him down and close, "but I'm afraid you're going to find that this really isn't possible -- "
" -- you see," he managed after a long, searching kiss which had made it rather difficult to think, let alone talk; and Bodie's hands were running wild all over his back and buttocks, Bodie's damp breath panting rather touchingly into his collarbone, "I really would like to oblige you, I hope you believe that, because I think you're a very pleasant sort of chap, but -- "
The very pleasant chap was almost purring now, moving Doyle on him in a sweet, dark rhythm of slick slow pleasure.
" -- but you have to understand," Doyle continued with mounting desperation, "it -- "
" -- just -- "
" -- isn't -- "
"possible; can't be -- "
" -- done -- "
And Bodie, sharing ecstatically in his lover's panting, whimpering spurting delight, joined his own to it, and showed him that it was, and could, and had.
They loved and lazed and loved again far into the chattering, squeaking, hooting jungle night.
Doyle was awakened by a touch. He opened his eyes to see his new friend leaning over him, wearing nothing but a curvy, boyish grin. He put up his lips for a sleepy kiss, his insides slowly filling with melting happiness, and contentment, as he recalled the heady night of newborn love that had passed. He felt as if in some strange way they had known each other a lifetime, always belonged together. As he half- sat up, Bodie slipped an arm around him and he leaned into the wordless lifelong commitment without a second's hesitation.
Bodie smelt fresh, his skin faintly damp. Doyle felt as if he, too, would benefit from a dip. Time for everything. He turned his face into Bodie's broad shoulder, bit him lightly.
"I imagine Dr. Livingstone will manage well enough without me."
"Hmm?" Bodie enquired, puzzled. He licked Doyle's eyelashes delicately, moved across to the other.
And Raymond Doyle abandoned for the last time every trace of thoughts about taxable accounts, the pressures of being nine and twenty and still unwed, the tedious London living; set that other life behind him as if it had all been a dream. All he needed was here in his arms. He kissed the top of the sleek, sunwarmed dark head; hugged him tight.
"Have to teach you to talk," he commented absently, eyes searching around the tiny cabin critically, "though I must say you do very well on touch alone; and organise a little order and comfort in here -- " their home --
Bodie was listening to every word of this, eyes devotedly wandering over the body of his lifelong mate, returning again to feast lovingly on the beautiful face and haunting green eyes of his love. Doyle succumbed, drowning in tender blue.
He snapped out of it suddenly. "Must go. Fetch my bag. Towels in there -- shaving things -- " He cast an interested eye over Bodie's smooth skin, wondering how it was done; hoped his bag was still where he'd left it, back at the spot where he'd been swept off his feet with such devastating, far-reaching results...
"Come on." He snapped his fingers, scrambled to his feet, but Bodie stopped him. And presented him, shyly, with one of the two gifts he'd been working on while Doyle slept, his attention frequently wandering from the skins on his lap to study the curled-up form with a kind of wonder.
Doyle took the loincloth from him, and donned it. He said nothing; but Bodie read his pleasure and his gratitude the more easily in his silence, in the look that crossed his face, suffused his eyes with warmth.
The other gift was outside. Now there hung two creepers tied there, one at each side of the platform. That visible affirmation of Doyle's permanence here pleased both men, and sheer exuberance was a good excuse for another cuddle.
"...mmm..." murmured Doyle at last, lips against Bodie's, "you're lovely and I can hardly bear to let you go for the barest second, but I want that bag." And, not without trepidation, he bravely took hold of his creeper, waiting for Bodie's signal. Together, they jumped.
" -- pleased to meet you, Stanley," drawled Livingstone in reply, briskly shaking his hand. "Pleasant trip?"
"Funny thing is," remarked the venerable explorer in a languid tone, "I was expecting a chappie named Doyle. You didn't run into the fellow by any chance?"
"Probably been eaten by one of the blasted natives," chuckled Livingstone, and put Raymond Doyle out of his mind forever.
In another part of the jungle, twin figures crashed through the foliage on long creepers, dressed only in loincloths, having the time of their young lives; and emitting the time honoured cry in unison -- "Aah-eeah-eeah..... "
-- THE END --