Journey through Europe

“You did knock properly on their door so they would hear you, didn’t you?” Jeff asked his friend Michael as they left the stairs at deck seven and headed for the breakfast restaurant in the direction indicated by the signs. “If they’re still asleep they’ll miss breakfast.”

“Yes, I banged on their door. They’re weren’t in there,” replied Michael.

Despite both turning in for an early night soon after their evening meal in the ship’s main dining room the previous evening, both twenty-eight year old Michael and his similarly aged friend Jeff were bleary-eyed after the uncomfortable night spent attempting to get as much sleep as possible in cramped bunk beds on a somewhat choppy sea on their night crossing from Newcastle, England, to IJmuiden on the Dutch coast. Their slightly younger friends Kevin and Tom, who were sharing another cabin, had the luxury of both being non-drivers on this holiday tour of Europe which the four British friends were taking together. For that reason, and probably also because Tom had felt that Kevin needed cheering up after a mishap which he had suffered on boarding the ship, the younger pair had stayed up into the evening after Jeff and Michael had retired to their cabin.

“Kev was okay by the time we left them, wasn’t he?” said Jeff, a concerned tone in his voice.

“No reason why he shouldn’t have been,” replied Michael. “He got showered and changed. Anyway, we did all we could for him, didn’t we?”

“Yeah, well you certainly did,” replied Jeff drily, exchanging a sly grin with his friend as the two of them rounded the corner to the breakfast bar and handed their prepaid breakfast tickets to the crew member on duty there.

The incident to which the two of them were referring had occurred the previous afternoon when the four of them had boarded the ship in their car. The long journey to Newcastle and its ferry terminal had taken its toll on the bladders of all of them, but the subsequent lengthy wait before being allowed to drive onto the ship had proved too much for twenty-five year old Kevin who, having only revealed his extreme desperation to his companions moments before they were finally able to drive aboard, had then completely wet his underpants and jeans shortly after getting out of the car on board the ferry and before he could get himself to a toilet in time.

All three of Kevin’s friends had helped him as best they could, Jeff and Tom actually returning to the car deck to extract a dry pair of jeans from Kevin’s luggage in the car. Michael, however, had stayed behind in Kevin and Tom’s cabin to help the distraught Kevin undress and shower, and it was this act of kindness to which Jeff was referring now.

Within a couple of minutes, both Jeff and Michael had loaded their trays with food, orange juice and coffee from the breakfast bar and were scanning the restaurant for any sign of their friends. “Over there!” exclaimed Jeff suddenly, nodding towards a table in the corner. “Hallo, they’ve got company,” he added.

As Jeff and Michael approached the table carrying their trays, they were gradually able to size up the unfamiliar young male who was sitting on the opposite side to Tom and Kevin and gesticulating with both hands as he recounted some story to them. He looked to be in his early twenties, he had a confident-looking, even slightly macho image, and he was evidently expecting summery weather on the European continent if his red T-shirt and white half-length cotton shorts were anything to go by. His T-shirt was emblazoned with the text “SUPER-COOL GUY SEEKS HOT CHICK”. His voice, in full flow as Jeff and Michael approached, had a distinctive Australian twang.

Tom took his eyes away from the young Australian guy long enough to spot Michael and Jeff approaching, and he grinned and waved as he saw them. This attracted Kevin’s attention too, and the stranger in the white shorts paused in his animated spiel and turned round to look at the two new arrivals.

“Well, you two seem to be up bright and early,” said Jeff as he set his breakfast tray down and slid onto the bench next to the Australian lad, ignoring him for the moment and regarding his two friends inquisitively. “Did you have a good night?”

Michael added his own tray to the crowded table, added “Shove up, guys” to Kevin and Tom as he sat next to Kevin on their bench, then added a question to Kevin before either he or Tom had had a chance to answer Jeff. “You feeling okay now, Kevin, after what happened yesterday?” Michael accompanied the question with a glance at Kevin’s crotch. If he honestly thought that Kevin might have somehow have managed to wet himself again in the light brown jeans which Tom and Jeff had brought up for him from the car the previous afternoon, his answer was provided by the evidently bone dry condition of those same jeans which Kevin was wearing now.

Kevin flushed and nodded his head wordlessly in reply to Michael without making any eye contact. Tom reprimanded Michael slightly by saying: “He’s fine, there’s no need to mention that.” He did not add, but clearly meant, “…in front of other people”.

All eyes now turned to the unfamilar guy on Jeff’s side of the table who was listening to this exchange without understanding it. Tom filled the silence. “Michael and Jeff, meet Neil. Neil’s touring Europe just like us. But he’s come all the way from Sydney.”

Neil rose slightly from his seat to lean over the table and shake hands with Michael, then greeted Jeff next to him in similar fashion. “Hi, guys,” he said affably. “Kev and Tom told me all about you two blokes in the bar last night. I reckon you’re all a decent group of guys from what I’ve been hearing. Good to meet you.”

“Ditto,” replied Jeff guardedly as he removed his hand from the Australian’s hearty grasp and attacked one of the bread rolls which he had taken from the breakfast buffet.

“What happened to Kevin yesterday, then?” asked Neil, in an effort to keep the atmosphere light. Tom and Kevin’s two mates seemed a little restrained in their attitude to him for the moment, and Neil had good reason to court their friendliness, as would shortly become apparent.

“Doesn’t matter,” replied Jeff hastily before Michael had any chance to answer. Kevin had been very upset and embarrassed about wetting his pants, and the last thing he needed now was someone outside their own circle being told about it. Jeff knew that Tom, who was Kevin’s best friend, would have kept quiet about it for Kevin’s sake. But Michael was not always so discreet. Jeff followed up his cut-off response with a question of his own. “Where are you heading then, Neil?”

Jeff’s question, asked in a disinterested tone before stuffing a large piece of bread into his mouth, was quite evidently intended merely as a way of changing the subject and taking Neil’s attention away from Kevin. But Neil beamed at Jeff nonetheless and responded warmly, clearly anxious to endear himself. “Well, I’m not as ambitious as you guys. I’m just trying to get to Frankfurt today, then maybe head for Munich tomorrow. There are some decent budget youth hostels in both places. But what you blokes are doing is incredible, heading right down into Switzerland on your first day on the continent. I mean, wow! That’s quite a journey, isn’t it? Tom and Kev were telling me about it all last night. Weren’t you?” Neil smiled across at the two lads whom he had befriended the previous evening, looking for confirmation.

Tom grinned back at Neil. “Yeah, but we’ve got our own transport. That does make a difference.”

“You’re going by train then?” Michael asked Neil.

“Nah, can’t afford it mate,” replied Neil. “I’m doing Europe on a shoestring budget. If I don’t watch the money I’ll run out. Your two mates here have just very kindly bought me my breakfast.” He smiled at Kevin and Tom again as he acknowledged their generosity. “If they hadn’t I’d be going hungry. Anyway, I’m hitch-hiking my way across Europe, hoping to get some decent rides from drivers who might appreciate my company. And for now, …” Neil paused and glanced slightly apprehensively at Jeff before voicing what he evidently realised could be a dodgy subject. “…I’m … er … hoping I’ve already got my lift to Frankfurt sorted out.”

Jeff stopped munching on his breakfast and glanced back sharply at Neil. Kevin interjected “We’re passing close by Frankfurt today, aren’t we Jeff?”

“Well yeah, but…” began Jeff, his mouth full.

“Please, Jeff, can Neil come with us?” clamoured Tom. “He’s a nice guy, and there’s space in your car for one more, isn’t there?”

“Well, hardly,” replied Jeff. “Unless you three are happy squashed together like sardines in the back for hours and hours. And anyway, there’s absolutely no room for any more luggage.”

“This is all I’ve got, mate,” said Neil, indicating a small hold-all beside him on the bench. “I travel light as you can see. And I’ll just balance my bag on my lap in the car. Please, mate, you’ll be doing me the most enormous favour if you just drop me off in striking distance of Frankfurt. I’m not asking you to take me into the city itself. I’ll hitch a ride into Frankfurt from one of the locals. I know you lot have a long way further to go today so I won’t impose on you.”

“Well, we can’t really oblige with what you’re looking for,” said Jeff drily, indicating the bold letters on the front of Neil’s T-shirt. “Wouldn’t a car full of chicks be more up your street?”

Neil laughed good-naturedly. “No way, mate!” he exclaimed. “You don’t make any progress with girls in the car because they keep having to stop to pee! I’ve learned that the hard way. Hitching a ride and picking up chicks are two things which just don’t go together.”

Michael latched onto this at once. “Don’t you have to pee as well when you’re hitch hiking?” he asked.

Jeff rolled his eyes to himself in inner exasperation as he observed his best friend’s predictable interest in this subject, scowled briefly and tucked into his second bread roll. Michael’s question was accompanied by a stare straight into Neil’s groin opposite as Neil sat there on the bench next to Jeff, his legs splayed wide open in his white shorts. His friend would hardly have been much less subtle if he had reached over and groped Neil, thought Jeff, a pang of jealousy welling up inside him.

Neil, however, did not seem to notice that Michael’s gaze was directed well below eye level. “Well, yes, of course I do,” he replied easily, “but not like every twenty minutes like most girls seem to have to. And I wait until the others in the car have to pee as well, instead of insisting on a stop just for me. That’s how it should be, isn’t it? Stop when everyone wants a rest, not just for one person. It’s called efficiency. Synchronicity, even. Piss altogether, then you only have to stop once. Honestly guys, you lot are a godsend to me. Four cool blokes, all on a tight schedule to get to Switzerland by nightfall. No messing about, no pee stops every twenty minutes, just good fast driving. Just what I need!”

Neil drained his large coffee mug, setting this down next to the equally empty tall glass which had contained his orange juice, and beamed confidently at Jeff and Michael, seemingly in no doubt that he would win them both round as he had managed to do with Tom and Kevin the previous evening. Jeff, glancing up from his breakfast, still looked doubtful. “And you really don’t mind being squashed for hours on end with Tom and Kev on the back seat of my car?” he asked. “It’s not that roomy, you know.”

“No worries, mate,” replied Neil. “I don’t take up any space.” He grinned at Jeff next to him in as friendly and disarming a manner as he possibly could, evidently realising that Jeff was the one who was having the most difficulty with accepting an extra passenger and still needed winning round.

Jeff grunted non-commitally. While not yet relieving Neil from his suspense by agreeing to take him to Frankfurt, Jeff had already realised that he was outnumbered in his reluctance and would have to let Neil come along. Tom and Kevin obviously liked the lad and wanted his company for half of their journey to Switzerland despite the cramped conditions on the back seat which that would entail. And Michael, clearly turned on by Neil’s brief mention of pee stops or lack of them, definitely wanted him in the car if the gleam in Michael’s eye was anything to go by.

Jeff knew that gleam very well. Jeff loved it when it was directed at himself, but now he could feel only jealousy. Of the four friends, Michael was the only one who was gay, and this was known to all of Tom, Kevin and Jeff, none of whom had the slightest difficulty with it. There was also, however, an extra dimension to Michael’s sexuality which only Jeff was allowed to know. And Jeff, despite being an otherwise unremarkable, straight, married young man, was frequently heavily involved in this himself. Michael was turned on by another guy finding himself in situations where that other guy needed to urinate but was forced to wait for an opportunity. He especially liked this to lead to the unfortunate man having no choice but to wet his pants.

Jeff, in turn, had his own secret which he shared only with Michael and which not even his young wife, let alone Kevin and Tom, were allowed to know: he would get a tremendous kick out of being desired by another man and being the subject of that man’s sexual fantasies. An occasion several years before, when Jeff and Michael had been sharing a flat together, and when Jeff had arrived home from a pub crawl one night with soaking jeans because he had accidently peed himself on the last bus home, had led to one thing and another. To this day, Jeff would still sometimes deliberately get desperate for a leak in front of Michael because he knew it would turn Michael on, which in turn gave Jeff something which his wife could not provide.

This tour of Europe which the four friends were now undertaking, while Jeff’s wife was staying for a few weeks with her mother, might have provided ample opportunity to continue with the fun if Jeff and Michael could keep this reasonably discreet from Kevin and Tom. But the previous day’s journey from home to the North Sea ferry had unexpectedly resulted in Kevin accidently wetting himself which, naturally, had resulted in Michael going crazy over Kevin instead of him, Jeff. Jeff had felt so jealous about the whole situation that he had lain awake for much of the night listening to Michael’s breathing in the other bunk bed of their shared cabin, almost succumbing to the urge to crawl into Michael’s bed with him. In the event he had not done so, but now that Michael’s attention was again on someone else, this time a complete stranger who would be sharing their car space, Jeff wished he had seduced his best friend the previous night after all.

Now, here at the breakfast table, Neil returned to a general banter with Michael, Tom and Kevin opposite him while Jeff ate in morose silence. Some time later a multilingual announcement was made over the public address system, and when the initial Dutch was replaced by English, Neil briefly stopped his monologue and everyone listened.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Netherlands. The ship has now docked. Would all foot and train passengers now proceed to the gangway on deck five for disembarkation. All car drivers and their passengers should wait in the public areas for further instructions. I repeat, only foot and train passengers are required to disembark via deck five. Passengers with cars are expected to be called for disembarkation in approximately fifteen minutes.”

The announcer then switched to German. The five lads looked at each other and especially at the reluctant Jeff. Neil was the first to speak. “Well, I don’t know if that applies to me or not,” he said with a slightly plaintive, hang-dog smile at Jeff. “Do I have to go down now with the foot passengers, or do I have a car?” Kevin and Tom both stared at Jeff too, silently pleading with him to allow Neil to travel with them.

Jeff was still non-commital. Instead of replying to Neil, he looked across at Michael with an expression which clearly gave his best friend the final say.

Michael smiled at Neil again, or rather at Neil’s crotch, and broke the silence. “I think you’ve got time for another big mug of coffee, Neil,” was his verdict. “You’ve got fifteen minutes before you squeeze into the back of our car.”

Jeff shrugged his shoulders and nodded. Tom and Kevin both beamed at Neil. Neil was delighted. “Oh, cheers guys!” he enthused. “Oh thanks ever so much. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this.”

“You two will want some more coffee too I guess?” said Michael to Tom and Kevin. “Come on, you can have as many refills as you want since we’ve all pre-paid.” Kevin instantly shook his head and pushed his still half-full mug emphatically away from him, clearly deciding that enough was enough. Tom, who had finished his coffee, hesitated and then said “Just half a cup, thanks Michael,” indicating the frugal nature of his requirements with a half open finger and thumb.

Since neither Jeff nor Michael, who had arrived significantly later than the other three for their breakfast, had even started on their own mugs of coffee, the total order was one and a half mugs. Nevertheless, Michael returned to the table a few minutes later bearing three full, large mugs of black coffee together with a handful of wrapped sugar and powdered milk, and then proceeded to set the mugs down in front of Neil, Tom and Kevin. “I told you I didn’t want any,” said Kevin in some irritation.

“Why not? We’ve got a quarter of an hour to wait, and now’s your last chance to drink anything for hours till we stop for lunch,” replied Michael.

“No,” replied Kevin firmly, pushing the mug away from him. Then, evidently interpreting Michael’s warning in a slightly different way, and remembering what had happened to him the previous day at the end of the long wait in the car to board the ferry, Kevin stood up and pushed past Michael to get out. “I’m going for a piss,” he announced as he set off out of the restaurant.

“Do you want his coffee, then?” Michael offered to Neil. Neil, still exuberant over his success at sorting out easy transport to Frankfurt, nodded gratefully. “Yeah, why not?” he replied, accepting the extra mug and depositing the contents of a sachet of sugar into both of his new coffees. “This should set me up,” he added, bringing one of the mugs to his lips.

“I’m sure it will,” replied Michael.

Jeff glanced at Neil’s empty glass and mug together with the two full ones, met Michael’s eye and pulled a face. The unspoken communication was clear to Michael – “what are you trying to do to him?” – but Michael reacted with a mock-innocent expression and with just a trace of a glint in his eye. Jeff shook his head in resignation, realising that he, Jeff, had absolutely no chance of getting the attention from Michael for which he craved until they finally dropped this Australian hunk off in Frankfurt. Meanwhile Neil and Tom were oblivious to this exchange, Neil chugging away on his fresh mugs of coffee and chattering away to Tom who sipped at his own mug rather more cautiously. By the time Kevin returned to the table, fingering the fly of his brown jeans as he sat down, Neil was deep in conversation with all of the others about the European cities he hoped to reach on his travels. Before they knew it, it was time for the five young men to go down to the car deck.


“Now, no complaining from any of you three about being squashed in and not having enough room,” warned Jeff ill-temperedly as he replaced his driver’s seat which he had pushed forward to let Tom, Neil and Kevin into the back seat of his car, and took his place behind the steering wheel. “It’s what you wanted so it’s what you’re getting.” Neil had sat down in between Kevin and Tom, and his bag was also taking up valuable leg-room in between his feet on the floor since there was no room for it with the other four guys’ cases in the car’s luggage space.

“We’re not complaining. Lighten up, will you?” replied Tom who was starting to tire of Jeff’s bad mood.

“No worries, mate,” added Neil to Jeff. “We’re all snug as a bug in a rug here.”

Michael turned round in the front passenger seat to look at the three in the back, his gaze resting appreciatively on Neil’s bare legs which were hanging slightly open, one foot in each footwell to either side of his bag on the floor, his knees resting in close proximity to the thighs of the two lads he had befriended the previous evening. “Sit tight, then, sardines, it’s a long journey” he said lightly before turning back round to face the front where they could all see numerous other groups of people returning to their cars all around them and various crew members removing chocks from vehicle wheels and preparing to lower the ramps ready to herd everyone off the ship.

There was a silence in their three-door hatchback car for a few more minutes as the young men watched the proceedings. Neil, who had been chatting almost non-stop during the breakfast about his travel plans, had gone suddenly quiet as they waited, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. Tom and Kevin both spread out slightly on the back seat as they made themselves as comfortable as possible in the cramped surroundings, and Neil, conscious of his status as outsider and non-paying guest traveller, shifted his legs as best he could to make more room for them. Then Jeff, who had put his key expectantly into the ignition but had so far had no cause to start the engine, suddenly adjusted himself through the crotch of his grey sweatpants, looked around uncertainly at the goings-on on the car deck, then muttered something to Michael next to him. Michael nodded. “Yeah,” he replied to his best friend. “I guess you’ve probably got time. But you’ll have to be quick. They look almost ready to open the ship doors to me.”

Jeff hesitated and then, evidently making up his mind, undid his seatbelt decisively and opened his door. “Right, I’ll be two minutes at the most!” He jumped out of the car.

“Actually that’s a good idea, I’m going too while we’ve got the chance!” said Neil suddenly, the disarming Australian twang in his voice accompanied by a grin at his new friends. “Always pays to be cautious. How do you put the seat forward?” He was pushing ineffectively at the driver’s seat which Jeff had just vacated and making to climb over Kevin to clamber out of the car.

“What are you talking about?” said Kevin who made no move to let Neil past him or even to release the catch of the seat to push it forward. “Jeff’s just doing the headlights.”

“Oh… um…” replied Neil in some apparent confusion.

Tom filled in with some information. “Jeff’s got it all under control. Apparently you have to put special stickers on the headlights before driving on the continent so you don’t dazzle other drivers. They drive on the right here, you see.”

Neil looked at Jeff through the windscreen. Kevin and Tom were right. Instead of leaving the car deck and dashing back up the steps they had recently descended together for a last minute pee, which was what Neil had been expecting him to do, Jeff was kneeling down in front of one of the headlights and placing something there while following instructions from a piece of paper which he had laid out on the bonnet.

Kevin continued where Tom had left off. “I reckon most people don’t bother, but Jeff thinks of everything. He’s got this trip all planned to perfection. He’s even got hold of the pass we need for Swiss motorways all ready for the trip. Most people just buy that at the Swiss border, but not Jeff.” Kevin indicated a small green sticker with a motorway symbol which was already stuck to the inside of the windscreen in preparation for their arrival at the German-Swiss border some ten hours later.

“Yeah, it all has to be planned in advance with Jeff,” Tom filled in. “And we all have to do everything his way. He’s even mapped out where we’re stopping for breaks and meals and which of him and Michael will be driving each stretch.” Tom seemed to be enjoying this light slagging-off of the guy who was currently crouched down in front of the car, fastidiously affixing the plastic stickers which had been carefully bought in advance. “Do you know,” Tom continued to Neil, “both Kev and I have perfectly good driving licences, but the only other person Jeff trusts to drive his precious car is Michael. Kev and I are confined to the back seat for our entire tour of Europe. Jeff’s a great guy, don’t get me wrong, but you do need to keep on the right side of him and do everything his way.”

“You’re part of his master plan, yeah,” said Kevin to Tom. “He let you come because you’ve been in Switzerland and Italy before and you know where we can go.”

“Yeah, and you’re only allowed with us because you speak German,” replied Tom to his friend.

“Just a bit from learning it at school,” replied Kevin modestly. “Anyway, you must have done something right with him, Neil” he added. “Perhaps he thinks you know how to fix the car or something if we break down. I wasn’t at all sure he was going to let you ride with us. That wasn’t part of his master plan, and he doesn’t like changing the plan.”

“Yeah, don’t ask him to change the master itinerary, whatever you do,” chuckled Tom. “Everything’s planned out, including where we stop and how long we spend at each stopping place. If anyone asks him to change that he goes bezerk!”

“What did you want to get out for, anyway?” Kevin asked Neil. “We’re setting off any moment, you know.”

Neil turned back round from where he had been looking at the door to the car deck through which a few late travellers were still emerging and hastily returning to their cars, then seemed to abandon his momentary uncertainty. “Oh, nothing,” he replied lightly. “Why didn’t Jeff put those headlight stickers on before you left the car here yesterday if he’s that careful about preparing everything in advance?” he asked Kevin by way of changing the subject.

This time it was Kevin’s turn to avoid the question. He made no reply, cringing inwardly. Tom also looked away from Neil, evidently equally unwilling to supply any answer to this question. Michael, though, turned in his seat and filled the silence by providing a partial explanation: “We were in rather a hurry at the time, as far as I can recall,” he deadpanned. A glare from Tom successfully dissuaded Michael from saying anything more than that if he had been intending to. Explaining further that they had all been desperate for a piss would have been truthful and would have kept the atmosphere light, but the fact that one of them, Kevin, had actually done it in his pants in front of friends and strangers alike, on his fruitless dash towards the nearest toilet, made the whole subject absolutely taboo.

By the time Jeff had finished attaching the beam benders to his satisfaction and returned to his seat behind the wheel, all occupants of the car were sitting in somewhat oppressive silence once again. Some cars were already moving off down the ramp through the open ferry doors ahead, but it was impossible to tell when their own row would start to move. The atmosphere only returned to its normal joviality some ten minutes later when Jeff was finally called on to start the engine and drive their heavily laden car off down the ramp and out of the ship. All that now lay between them and the freedom of the open continental roads was the queue for passport control and official entry into The Netherlands.


“Thankyou, have a pleasant journey,” said the uniformed border control officer in a light Dutch accent as he finally handed the five passports back to Michael through the open window of the passenger door. All five lads drew a sigh of relief as Michael took them back and Jeff pulled the car away from the passport control area and out onto the open road. Michael switched on the small electronic route planner which was attached to the windscreen just above the dashboard, muttered “Straight ahead for now, Jeff, then left turn shortly”, and various lads relaxed once again in their seats after the anxious minute of scrutiny to which they had all been subjected after some twenty minutes of queueing in the car. The officer had seemed to find it odd that Neil was travelling on an Australian passport while the other passports were British, he had paid particularly lengthy attention to checking the validity of Neil’s visa, and he had asked all of them various searching questions about where they were heading and what the purpose of their trip was to be. This moment of freedom was then particularly exhilarating for all five as they set their sights on their respective European touring holidays.

Neil, who had sat in complete silence for the last ten minutes of the wait, seemed particularly relieved. As soon as Michael had paused in his directions to Jeff and they were clearly on their way, he spoke up. “Thank Christ, I thought we’d never get through that,” he said, shifting his position between the other two in the back and sitting slightly forward ready to spring out of the car. “Jeff, could you pull over and let me out for a moment, mate? I need a quick pee.” He was already disengaging the lap seatbelt which had been confining him for half an hour since entering the car back on the ship, squeezing his thighs together as he strained to hold on for the last moments before he would get relief, and almost over-balancing onto Kevin as he readied himself to jump out.

Michael turned round and stared at him. “How can you possibly need a pee already?” he demanded.

“Sorry, I um…” Neil trailed off, unsure how to answer the question.

“There’s nowhere to go here. It’s all concrete and shipping areas. Put your seatbelt back on!” said Michael.

Jeff had completely ignored Neil and was concentrating on the unfamiliar surroundings. “When do I go left?” he asked Michael who turned back round.

“Wait, it’s lost the satellites,” replied Michael, his attention back on the TomTom. “Just carry on for the moment,” he added. “Follow any sign you see for the motorways.”

“Well is that it? Where do I go!?” Jeff was stressing out as they reached a road junction whose signpost displayed only unknown Dutch words.

“Just keep straight on for now,” said Michael. “I think that’s just a shipyard.” Then he turned round again. “Neil, I said put your seatbelt back on!”

Neil was still poised to jump out of the car. “Guys, sorry, I’m bursting for a leak! Can you pull over?”

Jeff lost his temper completely, swung the car off the road into a bay next to a concrete pavement on his own side and slammed on the brakes. Still ignoring Neil for the moment, he glared at the TomTom which was now displaying the message ‘recalculating route’. “What’s the matter with the stupid thing?”, he demanded. “Just when you really need it, it decides to hang up on you!”

Kevin, sitting behind Jeff, cut in at once. “Jeff, could you let Neil out? He needs the toilet.” It was clear that Kevin was tuned in to Neil’s frantic squirming next to him and knew what was happening to him.

Michael turned round in his seat and stared at the desperate Aussie lad once more. Jeff yanked the handbrake up furiously and then turned round in his seat as well. Where Michael had been firm but still on the right side of politeness with Neil in the previous half minute, Jeff now let the stress of getting his bearings in a foreign country get to him and raised his voice, venting his frustration on the hapless Neil. “Why the hell didn’t you go before we left the ship?” he demanded. “There’s nowhere to go here!” Then, seeing that Neil’s face was betraying even worse stress than he was feeling himself, he turned back, undid his seatbelt and flung his door open. Jumping out onto the barren concrete where they were stopped, he threw his seat forward and then unnecessarily added “Get out!” to Neil who was already clambering over Kevin, his legs trembling as they supported his weight and his hand fumbling with the fly of his shorts.

Neil’s pee stream cascaded noisily over the pavement as he stood there, his back to Jeff who was still standing by his open car door glaring at him. The other three were silent for a moment as they watched. Various cars full of people approached from behind in quick succession, all of them having cleared the passport control moments before, and one of the vehicles gave a couple of hoots of the horn as it passed by. Laughter could be heard through its open windows. Neil was evidently in full view.

After a few moments Jeff left the still forcefully pissing Neil, sat back down in the driver’s seat and turned to Michael. “Shall we just leave him behind?” he asked.

“His bag’s still here, Jeff,” said Tom at once before Michael could answer. “And stop being mean, will you? He only needed a piss. It’s hardly surprising after all that coffee he drank at breakfast.”

“Jeff, do you want me to drive the first leg?” said Michael, ignoring Jeff’s question. “You’re too stressed. Maybe you should get some more sleep.” As the noise of Neil’s cascade continued unabated from outside the car, Michael accompanied his soothing words to Jeff with a gentle squeeze of Jeff’s grey sweatpants-clad thigh.

Jeff’s angry expression softened at once. The wounded jealousy he had been feeling, which had been caused by Michael’s obvious fascination with Neil and consequent disinterest in him, Jeff, now melted away as he felt his best friend’s touch on his leg. He nodded his head. “You’re right. I didn’t get much sleep in the night. Thanks.” He made to move across to the passenger seat as Michael opened his door to get out.

Michael couldn’t resist glancing at Neil’s dick as he walked round the front of the car to take Jeff’s seat. Neil was still squirting a few isolated remnants from his bladder out onto the pavement, but he hastily stopped this, stuffed his soft, fleshy organ back into his slightly damp underwear and pulled the zip of his shorts back into place when he sensed Michael looking. “You all done now?” said Michael to him. Still standing in the open doorway and barring Neil’s return to the back seat, Michael’s eyes were lingering on a small wet spot which the white shorts were displaying to one side of the zip.

“Yeah, sorry about that, I just had to go,” muttered Neil in reply. Then, suddenly overcome by the sheer embarrassment of the whole situation, he covered the damp area on his shorts with one hand until Michael had raised his eyes again.

“Right, well our first rest stop is a couple of hours away, shortly after we cross the border into Germany.” Michael turned to push the driver’s seat forward and let Neil back in. “Jeff’s getting some sleep now, so don’t disturb us again until then,” he added firmly. “We all pee together. That’s efficiency and synchronicity, making sure we make good headway, just like you said earlier.”

Neil made no reply but hastily clambered back across Kevin to resume his slightly cramped seating position in between the two friendlier lads, one leg either side of his bag as before. He was rewarded by supportive grins from both Tom and Kevin who seemed anxious to compensate for the evident intolerance, bordering on hostility in Jeff’s case, from the two co-drivers. “Bet that feels better,” said Kevin.

Neil nodded and grinned back, relieved both at having been able to deal with his full bladder in the nick of time and at the fact that he was still obviously welcome as far as Tom and Kevin were concerned. “Much better out than in, yeah,” he replied.

Michael ascertained that the TomTom was now displaying the required route, put the car into gear and pulled out into the road. The other occupants of the car went quiet, watching the progress for a while as Michael efficiently bypassed the town and joined the motorway network which would take them via the central city of Utrecht towards the East of the country and from there into Germany, and then closing their eyes for a snooze in an attempt to correct for their short night of sleep on the rough sea crossing.

An hour and a half passed by.


“Neil, you’re doing it again!” Tom’s frustration was in marked contrast to his earlier friendliness and was the result of being woken up from his sleep for the third time in half an hour. “Why can’t you just sit still instead of pushing into me everytime I’ve just got off to sleep?”

Neil, who had already on several occasions apologised to both Tom and Kevin for inadvertently waking them up and had by now run out of ways to say sorry, made no reply this time but removed his knee obediently from where he had just pushed it into Tom’s thigh, shifted his weight slightly towards Kevin on the seat and then attempted to sit up straighter. Kevin, similarly roused from his own attempted slumber by this altercation, sighed heavily and moved in response to Neil’s shifted position. Neil, the only one in the back who had not even been trying to sleep during the previous hour, stuffed his hands between his legs, on which his bag was now balanced, and stared anxiously out of the window once again.

“So you lot are too squashed in the back after all?” said Jeff who had also recently woken up from sleep. “I said you would be, didn’t I?”

“No,” replied Tom firmly. “We’re fine if we all just give each other enough space and stop fidgeting about! That means you, Neil.”

“Say, don’t you guys ever need to pee?” asked Neil, taking advantage of the fact that everyone was now awake and attempting to broach a delicate but important subject which had been worrying him steadily more and more during the last forty-five minutes and was now at the stage where he was unable to think about anything else. Normally the subject should not be particularly delicate, certainly not amongst other males of his own age, but the way his unscheduled stop after the passport control had been received by Jeff, together with Michael’s warning when he had got back into the car after relieving himself, made it distinctly problematic. However, realising now that waiting for the scheduled stop in Germany would not be possible, Neil knew he had to do something. During the last ten minutes he had resorted to holding and massaging his privates through his shorts with one hand under the bag on his lap, and while this was still helping to some extent, it could not be sustained much longer.

“No,” replied Michael from the driving seat. “We’re not human. We’re robots who never have to pee. And we’re kidnapping you and taking you to our evil lair. Next silly question?”

Neil managed to put on a friendly sounding laugh despite his racing heartbeat and the sweat which was running down his back as he tensed his exhausted bladder muscles once again. He then made to broach the subject and his need more explicitly, but he was cut off by Jeff in the passenger seat who now directed his attentions and general irritability away from the three squashed-together lads in the back and towards his best friend in the driving seat next to him. “For chris’-sakes Michael, why don’t you either overtake him or drop back? If he brakes you’ll go into him!” Jeff was referring to a lorry in front of them which Michael was now following at a distance which would cause him to fail any driving test.

“No I won’t go into him. Calm down, will you? I’m trying to overtake but there’s no gap,” replied Michael, hastily transferring his attention away from the Australian lad in the middle of the back seat, whom he had been observing in the rear-view mirror, and onto the road.

A clod of mud thrown up by the lorry splattered finely over part of the bonnet and windscreen. Jeff swore angrily and then rounded on Michael again. “You’ll be washing that off as soon as we stop! And what if there had been a stone in that…” continued Jeff as he warmed to his theme, taking out his general stress and fatigue on Michael.

But he was interrupted by a voice from the back. “Actually I need us to stop…”

“…then that would have been my windscreen shattered and you would have had the job of sorting that out for us before we went any further…!” continued Jeff, ignoring Neil and drowning him out.

“Oh shut your mouth,” interrupted Michael as he hastily grabbed a chance to pull out and overtake the lorry. Despite the stress of now being on the receiving end of one of Jeff’s temper tantrums in addition to driving on an unfamiliar road in a foreign country, Michael still glanced once more at the Aussie lad in his mirror, feeling his aching erection twitch as he did so. Neil still had the pained, anxious expression on his face that Michael had been observing for at least half an hour, and now Neil’s anxiety seemed to be more like panic as he leaned forward, trying to interrupt him and Jeff in their developing argument. “You know, you’re behaving like an old hen at the moment,” he continued to Jeff, apparently spoiling for a row with his best friend but in reality expertly timing his remark to drown out Neil who had opened his mouth to speak again.

“No, I’m just concerned that we all get to Switzerland in one piece tonight!” snapped Jeff angrily in reply.

“Guys, can we just…” began Neil again from the back.

“If it’s because you’re tired out from the short night, then why don’t you just go back to sleep instead of taking it out on me!” retorted Michael with another glance in the mirror at the desperate expression on Neil’s face as he neatly interrupted him once more.

As Jeff launched into a reply to the effect that he would gladly go back to sleep if he could depend on Michael to drive safely, Kevin put his hand on Neil’s arm and attempted to push him gently back into his seat. Kevin was under the misapprehension that Neil was trying to intervene in the argument. “Just let them argue it out. It doesn’t mean anything, and they’ll soon…” he began.

Neil recoiled slightly at Kevin’s touch and added the hand which had been planted on the back of Michael’s seat to his other hand which was buried in his lap under his bag, groaning faintly under his breath as he did so.

Unlike Kevin, Tom had picked up on Neil’s problem and now interrupted his friend on Neil’s other side as he spotted Neil now raising his knees, with his bag and all, up to his chest and grimacing. “You need the toilet, right?” he asked the scrunched-up lad in the “super-cool guy…” T-shirt next to him, then added to his best friend: “I think he needs to piss again.”

“Yeah…” began Neil.

“Well it’s not long now till we stop,” replied Kevin. “Jeff said our first break’s soon after the German border. That’s not far now.”

“I think he’s a bit desperate,” said Tom who had gradually, during the last few minutes, been working out why Neil had woken him up several times by squirming and banging his leg against him.

Neil nodded to confirm this and turned to Tom, gratefully seizing the chance to use Michael’s and Jeff’s friends to break into their squabble in the front, which was still showing no signs of abating, and get his urgent message across to them. “Could you make them pull over for me, please, mate?” he asked him. “I’ve gotta make a quick run into the bush.”

Tom grinned at him supportively, joking: “This isn’t the Australian Outback, you know!” but hastily added “Okay, sure” and leaned forward to addess Michael when he saw from Neil’s expression that his new friend’s normal light heartedness, which had endeared the lad to both him and Kevin the previous evening, was no longer in evidence. Neil’s face showed only stress and tension.

“Michael, could you pull over for Neil…?” began Tom.

But this attempt to break into the argument going on in front was as unsuccessful as Neil’s earlier ones has been. “…You’ve got that right!” Michael was retorting to Jeff’s latest tirade. “You’ll be driving for the rest of the holiday, and then don’t try coming back to me with your pathetic moans about being tired, or your back hurts, or this, and that, and going on and on and…”

“Guys, guys, please!” interrupted Tom forcefully. “We’ve got a problem. Neil’s got to go to the toilet.”

“Yeah, could you pull over as quickly as you can, mate?” interjected Neil breathlessly. “Just for a quick piss in the trees.”

“No, we’re not allowed to stop here,” replied Michael at once.

Jeff swung angrily round in his seat and directed his foul mood at the hapless Australian. “How can you possibly need to go again? You were told where we’d be stopping! Wait till then and stop messing us about!” he snapped.

“Jeff, he can’t wait,” said Kevin who had by now fully cottoned on to Neil’s squirming next to him and was just as aware as Tom was of the lad’s plight.

“He’ll wait if I tell him to!” replied Jeff. “Look, What’s-your-name, when I agreed to let you come with us it was on the understanding that you didn’t disrupt our journey. What do you think you’re…?” he continued.

Neil let out a groan and tensed himself again as the slightly older guy in the grey sweatpants berated him. Tom attempted to interrupt Jeff. “Jeff, please, can’t you see he’s…?” he began.

“…playing at, making us stop all the time for you when at breakfast you were going on and on and on about pissing together and synchronicity and…!”

“Jeff!” interrupted Kevin forcefully. “Calm down will you?”

Jeff stopped shouting and stared at Kevin. Tom filled the silence, saying simply: “We’ve got to stop, or he’s going to wet himself.”

“Please, just let me out,” whimpered Neil. “I can’t hold it.”

“Michael, pull over!” said Kevin.

Jeff now looked back at Neil incredulously, then snarled: “Don’t you dare piss in my car!” As Neil grunted in agony, Jeff then reached over and grabbed Neil’s bag off his lap, throwing it into the foot well in front of him, and then stared hard at Neil’s crotch, evidently checking that the lad’s white shorts were still dry. “If you wet my seat I’ll bollock you so hard that…”

“Michael, pull in at the picnic area!” Tom successfully interrupted Jeff’s aggression as he spotted a sign depicting a picnic table, a couple of trees, the letter ‘P’ and a distance indication.

“Yeah, in fifteen hundred metres!” confirmed Kevin as he read the sign which Tom had seen. “Hold on, Neil,” he added encouragingly as the lad next to him moaned again. “There’s a stopping place just up here.”

Jeff had resigned himself to the necessity of a second minor disruption to his carefully planned schedule. “Fine, we’ll just delay our journey even more then because super-cool chick-seeker here has to piss again,” he sighed, adding “You’re a real nuisance, you know that?” to the desperate hitch hiker as he turned back in his seat to watch for their unscheduled turn-off.

Neil made no reply. The belligerence was replaced by a silence as Michael moved the car into a gap between vehicles in the inside lane in anticipation of the expected picnic area. Tom glanced uneasily at Neil. He wanted to try to compensate for his older friend’s hostility by showing Neil some support, but the Australian’s gaze was fixed on the road ahead, obviously trying to see where they would be stopping, and the evident tension in his body was not going to be relieved by any friendly pat on the shoulder or back. As Tom watched, Neil pressed his legs tightly together and moaned softly.

“You concentrate on your driving!” snapped Jeff suddenly at Michael. His general foul temper was now being further fueled by a return of his jealousy as he spotted that Michael was making unnecessarily lengthy glances in the rear view mirror, obviously watching Neil. “And don’t try any funny business either,” he added, knowing his best friend’s fantasies all too well. “If you drive past that parking spot without stopping and he pisses himself, you’ll be paying for new upholstery for my car seat!”

Michael dealt with Jeff’s sourness by ignoring it and addressing Neil. “You alright there, Neil?” he asked.

“No, can you just pull over here? Please, mate? I can’t hold it,” was the gasped reaction.

“Now look here…!” began Jeff, turning his angry attentions back to Neil.

“I need a bottle!” interrupted Neil, ignoring Jeff and looking frantically at his two new friends to either side of him. With his right hand he started fumbling with the fly of his shorts.

“We’re stopping in a moment, Neil,” said Kevin.

“A cup, anything!” continued Neil, then groaned loudly in agony.

“Stop, Michael, anywhere!” said Tom. He had spotted a wet area spreading out to the side of the bulge in Neil’s shorts and knew that Neil was losing it now.

Kevin, too, was watching Neil and agreed with Tom. “Pull over, Michael, he’s wetting his pants!”

“I’m stopping, aren’t I?” replied Michael. He was indeed pulling into the deceleration lane which they had by now reached. They were evidently approaching the picnic area which had been announced on the sign a minute before.

“Just stop here, mate, please, I can’t make it!” Neil, who had by now undone his seatbelt and clambered so that he was partially perched on Kevin’s leg and was pushing at the back of Michael’s seat, as if he thought getting out of the still speedily moving vehicle was an option now, could see that the exit from the motorway was leading to a narrow lane with as yet no obvious parking area in sight. Kevin gasped and grappled with Neil for balance as he felt the lad’s weight on his thigh, but Neil was oblivious to the physical contact with Kevin and simply bombarded Michael with further pleas. “Stop here, please! Just here at the side, please, please. I can’t hold it. Just stop here! Please, just stop!”

Jeff turned back round and stared furiously at Neil who paid him no attention. Kevin attempted to pull his leg back from underneath Neil’s quivering body and move his other leg so that Neil would be able to scramble out of the car as soon as Michael had the driver’s door open. Michael ignored Neil’s continued pleading and drove calmly on into the narrow lane. As they rounded a corner, a clearing came into sight. The area was laid out with several wooden picnic tables, a large parking area, and a dense clump of trees to one side. It was deserted apart from one parked car and a group of four young people of roughly the same age as the lads themselves, two males and two females. The group could be seen seated at one of the picnic tables at one edge of the parking area and sharing something to eat and drink as they chatted in the morning sunlight.

“Let him out!” barked Jeff at Michael as their car drew into the clearing. “Stop!” agreed Tom. Kevin was temporarily winded and unable to speak as Neil, now moaning incoherently, planted his whole weight on him ready to jump out through the driver’s door the moment Michael let him. All three of Jeff, Tom and Kevin had by now registered the wet stain which was showing on Neil’s shorts to one side on the front and inner thigh, and all of them could tell that this leakage was being added to in uncontrollable fits and starts as Neil continued to try and hold back the floodgates. The focus on getting the car stopped, and Neil out through either front car door to direct his leaking waterworks onto the ground instead of through his pants and in the car, was now the utmost priority on everyone’s mind. However instead of stopping at once Michael, for reasons best known to himself, drove smartly straight towards where the group of young strangers was seated and pulled up onto the concrete close to their table before engaging the handbrake and jumping out through his door.

The conversation at the picnic table died as its four occupants turned and stared at the speedily arriving three-door hatchback. The stares continued as the driver, who had got straight out of the car right by their table, was seen to throw his seat forward and pull another young male in a red t-shirt with printed text and white shorts out from the middle of the back seat. Then jaws dropped as, accompanied by a loud splattering noise, liquid poured down and through the lad’s white shorts and formed a puddle on the concrete next to their table.

Neil stood stock still by the car and helplessly wet himself as the four strangers and Michael all stared at him and his other three new friends got out of the car and surveyed him too. Several streams of his pee ran towards the seated group causing the nearest young woman to move her feet to avoid the liquid as it threatened to run under the picnic table. The previous dumbfounded silence was then broken by a babble from the strangers, incomprehensible to the English speakers but nonetheless perfectly clear in their astonished tone (“Wat krijgen we nou!?”, “Jeetje, hij pist!”, “Verrek! Hij plast in zijn broek!”).

Michael, after watching for a few more seconds as the puddle continued to form on the concrete under Neil’s dripping shorts, suddenly grabbed his arm and pulled him away from everyone else. “Come on, man, do the rest in the trees!” he exhorted, guiding the devastated Australian lad away and bringing him to a trot in the direction of the group of trees to the side of the car park. Under the stunned gaze of the other seven people at the scene, Michael and Neil then jogged away side by side to the privacy of the dense conifers, Neil’s dripping shorts leaving a visible trail of spots on the ground as they left.

Jeff turned his horrified gaze away from the fleeing pair and looked first at Tom and Kevin, then at the puddle on the concrete by the car door with its rivulets still running down towards the picnic table, and finally glanced apprehensively at the four seated strangers whose foreign language babble of astonishment ceased as they stared back at him. Jeff felt himself flush red with embarrassment and turned to Kevin who was still staring at Michael and Neil as they disappeared into the trees. “Well, you speak the language, don’t you?” said Jeff brusquely to his younger friend. “Apologize to them!”

Kevin collected himself, glanced abjectly at the two guys and two girls at the table, gestured pathetically at Neil’s puddle next to the table, and began awkwardly: “Erm… Entschuldigung, es tut mir Leid…”

The young woman who had moved her feet to avoid Neil’s stream interrupted him with a weak smile. “You can best speak with us in English,” she said in a light Dutch accent. “We’re Dutch, not German.”

“Your friend has peed in his pants, or so?” said the young male opposite her with an apparently sympathetic air.

“Is he okay?” asked the girl sitting next to him.

The other stranger, another young man, snorted slightly as he evidently tried to stifle a laugh, successfully removing the smirk from his face as he and his three friends all listened while Kevin started an explanation in English. “Yes, I’m so sorry we’ve disturbed you. He needed to pee and we couldn’t stop the car in time…”

As Kevin continued his explanation and apologies to the young Dutch group, Tom ascertained that the sopping wet Neil was now out of sight in the trees with Michael and then turned his attention to Jeff. “Can I have a quiet word with you?” he asked his slightly older friend in whose car they were all holidaying together. Jeff stepped away from the conversation at the picnic table and moved over to where Tom was standing. Tom wasted no time. “I’d like you to apologize to Neil and shake his hand when he comes back, please.”

Jeff glanced at Tom guiltily then returned his embarrassed gaze downwards at the ground where the evidence of Neil’s disaster was still oozing in all directions. “Yeah, okay.” he muttered.

Back at the table, the lad who had been stifling a laugh was heard to ask Kevin: “What are those words on his shirt? Something like ‘Cool guy wants a chick’?” Several of the others at the table were tittering nervously. “Yeah, something like that,” Kevin could be heard confirming.

Tom had not finished with Jeff despite the latter’s acquiescence. He continued in a calm but nonetheless emphatic voice. “If I was Neil I’d be reporting you to the police for threatening behaviour. He probably won’t do that because he’s a nice, easy-going lad. But there really was no excuse to be so aggressive with him as you were in the car. He was dying to go to the toilet. He was obviously so desperate I’m amazed he held on without wetting the seat. And all you could do was give him hell while he sat there trying to hang on till we stopped. Now he’s going to be really upset that he’s done it in his pants. The least you can do is tell him you’re sorry for shouting at him, give him a pat on the back, or a hug or something, let him know it’s alright.”

Jeff flushed with shame. “Yeah. Sorry.”

“No, don’t apologize to me. Say it to Neil. And make it up to him.”

Jeff nodded, completely chastened. “Did he wet the seat?” he asked after a pause.

“He might have done a bit,” replied Tom. “He was leaking before he got out, just in spurts I think. Check the seat yourself if you’re worried.” Satisfied that his friend in the grey sweatpants had got the message, he turned away from him and moved back over to where Kevin was still in conversation with the group at the picnic table. Jeff, relieved that Tom had finally let the subject go, opened the back door of his car and leant in, feeling the seat and sniffing cautiously where Neil had been sitting. Embarrassed about the way Tom had had to speak to him, and unwilling to join Tom and Kevin with the Dutch strangers, Jeff took his time in the back of the car. Some raised voices finally alerted him to the fact that Michael and Neil were returning from whatever they had been up to in the trees.

“Hey, are you alright, mate?” Tom was saying, obviously to Neil.’

“Hi, hallo, hi there…” the Dutch group was saying in greeting to Neil and Michael.

Michael, under the gaze of Kevin who was watching him suspiciously, was fussing with the demoralised, speechless Neil, lifting the front of his shirt up and gesturing and prodding at the soaking white shorts in the same manner as he might if he was assessing the damage to a vehicle after a different sort of accident.

The lad at the table who had been amused by the text on Neil’s shirt was now focussing on that rather than the sopping wet garment beneath on which Michael’s attentions were focussed. “Super-cool guy seeks hot chick” he read out loud and laughed nervously. The other guy at his table spoke directly to Neil. “Yes, you are so su-u-uper cool,” he informed him, stressing the first syllable comically. “Here are two hot chicks for you, super cool guy,” he added, gesturing at his female companions.

One of the girls frowned and berated her two male companions in Dutch. Tom cleared his throat and changed the subject, speaking loudly so that Jeff, who was still hidden from view in his detailed examination of the back seat of the car, could hear too. “Jeff’s got something to say to you, Neil. Haven’t you, Jeff?”

Neil pushed Michael’s hand away from it’s unnecessary proximity to his wet groin, lifted his sad face to look at Jeff, and registered that the guy who had recently been so angry with him was just getting out of the car after examining the seat where he, Neil, had been sitting. As Jeff stood up and turned towards him, Neil instinctively and involuntarily threw up his hands and yelped softly, parrying the expected punch to his face. Another spurt of pee, which must have collected in his bladder during the few minutes since it had emptied itself, shot straight out into his sodden underwear and shorts. A drop of the warm urine ran down his still damp left leg, tickling his ankle as it nestled inside his wet sock. Neil shivered slightly as the momentary warmth of the fresh spurt of pee around and underneath his privates was replaced by the cold, uncomfortable dampness of before, and then lowered his hands as he realised that Jeff was not attacking him.

“Don’t be silly, I’m not going to hit you,” Jeff was saying in a tone which he had not used before when speaking to Neil.

Neil gradually registered that Jeff was looking him in the eye, his expression gentle and concerned, his right hand extended towards him. “I’m sorry Neil. Sorry for getting angry with you,” the young man was continuing. As Neil shook his hand in bemusement, he felt Jeff’s other hand pat him gently on the back in a half-embrace. Jeff continued to apologize, blaming his behaviour on his poor night’s sleep but saying that it was still no excuse for being so unpleasant. Gently he lead him away from the Dutch strangers towards the car, and Kevin, Tom and Michael all joined them with a parting wave at the Dutch group who were finally continuing their picnic after its extraordinary interruption.

Neil sat on his bag to protect the seat and attempted to relax in his wet, clammy clothes as Michael drove away from the picnic area and rejoined the motorway. Jeff fell silent and stared vacantly ahead at the road. Kevin leaned towards Neil and spoke quietly to him, motioning to Tom on Neil’s other side to lean in and listen too. “Neil, was Michael touching you in the trees? You know, down there?” asked Kevin, gesturing at the Australian lad’s soaking wet groin.

Neil avoided Kevin’s eye and looked down, overcome with embarrassment, merely nodding his head to confirm what Kevin already knew.

“I thought so. He did that to me yesterday evening too after I got caught short waiting to get on the ferry and pissed my jeans…” continued Kevin.

Tom, Kevin and Neil all talked quietly and earnestly amongst themselves for the next twenty-five minutes until they crossed the border into Germany and stopped at Jeff’s originally planned service station for a pee, a short break in the journey and, in Neil’s case, a welcome change into dry underwear and jeans from his bag.


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