The following morning, I had to shower in my wetsuit; it was a new experience. I could only actually wash my exposed hands, feet and head, of course. Still not having the nerve to go down for breakfast, I sneaked out of the building when no one was looking and went for an early morning walk on the esplanade. The keener surfers were already out on their boards and I went down on the beach and as close to the waterline as possible. That way I could perhaps pretend to be part of that community and not be as mortified by my new look. I splashed around a bit in the sea — at least wearing a wetsuit was appropriate for that.
When it got to about quarter to nine, according to the clock tower on the front, I made my way to the PHI building. James was already there, waiting, and Nick arrived shortly after I did. We didn’t have that long to wait until Andrew showed up to let us in. He said to go through to the locker room; he’d be along in a minute to unlock us for our morning bathroom break. As I hadn’t taken a leak since the previous day and had been swimming in the moderately cold Channel, my bladder was starting to complain bitterly! It was a relief when the supervisor came and applied the release tool to the crotch zip on my suit and I was able to drain myself with a contented sigh. After being locked up again, Andrew distributed biodegradable rubbish sacks and those mechanical litter-picking gadgets (to avoid having to bend down to retrieve items of detritus). Then he assigned us sections of the beach to patrol. Mine was the stretch from the lifeboat station as far as the yacht club. He, Martin or Ian would be along later to check how we were doing. We set out to make a start.
Since Nick’s allocated area was beyond mine, we walked together to the dividing boundary between the two. That way, if we set out in opposite directions and zigzagged our way back and forth across our respective “beats”, we could meet up periodically for a chat (assuming the “Boss” didn’t object). We compared notes on the previous night. I said I’d been too scared to venture out into the town and had stayed in. Nick had been braver, having eventually got fed up with his hotel room. He’d gone out for a walk — after it had got dark, mind you. He’d not been hassled, except for once, when he had attracted the unwelcome attention of a gang of local youths on bicycles, who’d taunted him and made ribald comments. Fortunately, they had dispersed on seeing a community support police officer coming the other way. Discretion being the better part of valour, they had cycled off lest they have a run in with the Law and find themselves in the same predicament as Nick.
“What do you think of these wetsuits then?” he asked. I hesitated a moment before replying.
“It’s strange. Part of me is embarrassed at being the obvious centre of attention and humiliated in it, but part of me is… well, turned on by it, actually,” I confessed.
“Hmm, that’s how I feel too. It’s kind of…sexy, in a way.”
I bit the bullet. “Um…you’re gay, right?”
“Yeah, but how did you know?”
“I guessed yesterday, when James came out wearing that skintight wetsuit. I saw your reaction.” Nick blushed. “No worries, he had the same effect on me!”
“Do you suppose he’s gay, too?”
“He’s cute, though, isn’t he?”
We arrived parallel with the slipway at the yacht club and decided we’d better make a start on our respective parts of the beach. It was not a particularly onerous duty. As yet, the sands were not crowded with holidaymakers, so there wasn’t much litter to collect. All one had to do on encountering a crisp bag or coke can was to reach down with the claw, remotely grab it and lift it into the rubbish bag. Presumably, it would become ever more mind-numbingly tedious as the week progressed. I made my way back and forth in “stripes” — like mowing a lawn — from the top of the beach right down to the water’s edge, periodically meeting up with Nick, who was doing the same.
Mid-morning, I passed Ian, sent to keep an eye on us, I expect. He acknowledged me with a small wave and carried on along the sand. The rest of the morning passed uneventfully and, rather to my surprise I found it was getting on for lunchtime. Since I was already heading in that direction, I walked back to base. Turning my head I saw Nick some way behind, following me in.
There was a coffee and a coke machine in the lecture room we could use, or we could go up to the esplanade and buy some sandwiches from a kiosk, if we wanted. After lunch, Martin brought the special “key” and unlocked our lower zips so we could visit the gents. Nick and I didn’t see much of James during our lunch break — he’d apparently gone shy on us and was keeping himself to himself, pretty much. Our thirty minutes were soon up and Martin returned to make sure we were all zipped up again.
The afternoon shift followed practically the same pattern as the morning, except there were now more people about and consequently more rubbish to dispose of. We could either bring the full sacks back to the PHI offices or leave them at the top of the slipway from where the Council bin men would collect them later. It was a hot day and I was glad the wetsuit was protecting me from the sun, but it was also starting to make me sweat. On the plus side, I figured that after a week of this, including the extra exercise, I would conveniently loose a few pounds in weight. The side effect of sweating in such tight fitting suit was that it lubricated the smooth inside surface of the neoprene. As I walked, it rubbed my private parts, massaging them and making me horny. From time to time, I was throwing involuntary boners and anyone looking closely would have been able to see exactly what was going on! I desperately hoped no one would notice and tried to keep my mind off what I was feeling in an effort to suppress the physical effects.
One of the nice things about having to do this almost robotic task was it left ample opportunity to view the activity offshore. By the middle of the afternoon there was a lot going on — sailing, surfing, windsurfing, a couple jet-skiing and even one guy kitesurfing. Pity I couldn’t join them; there was nothing to stop me watching, however.
By 5pm I had covered a good few miles and was ready for a breather. We gathered back at base for our final toilet break of the day, before clocking off. I thought I might be able to bear the ignominy of being seen about town in a wetsuit if there was someone else with me, so I arranged to get together with Nick later on that evening. Out of courtesy, we invited James to join us, but he declined the offer.
At seven, I met up with Nick in front of the clock tower and we decided to try and hit some bars, to see what would happen. We got politely, but firmly, asked to leave the first one — whether it was because we didn’t meet their dress code, or whether the owner had seen our bizarre beachwear and jumped to the conclusion that we were “undesirables”, I don’t know. Either way, we found ourselves being turfed out.
The second establishment was more accommodating. It turned out to be a gay pub, in fact. Our entrance caused quite a stir, the background level of conversation dropping significantly as the clientele turned and saw two guys in garish wetsuits walk into their bar. We got quite a few admiring looks, not to say several envious ones too. Somewhat self-consciously, we made our way to the bar and ordered two pints of beer. Gradually, the hubbub returned to its former intensity, though I kept seeing guys stealing surreptitious glances in our direction. All things considered, it was very agreeable and we ended up staying there the whole evening. Both of us got chatted-up, while I was away getting in the next round. I was still uncomfortable with the idea of having to pee in my wetsuit, so I was cautious about having too much to drink.
On returning to our table, discreetly (as far as possible) in a corner, Nick said, “You know, it’s just occurred to me, but this compulsory wetsuit business is an effective way to cut down on drunkenness.” It echoed what I had already been thinking. I also recalled the reason why he was here in the first place. “A bloke’s going to think twice about downing half a dozen pints if he knows he’s going to have to piss himself later!” he went on. We both reflected on this for a while and managed to make our drinks last the rest of the night.
The next morning my bladder was really protesting, but I managed to avoid embarrassing myself (further). I was however, first to get to our place of work and first in the queue to have my relief zip unlocked. I was never so relieved to be relieved! The day panned out much the same as the one before. The three of us set out to do our bit for the environment.
During the afternoon I caught up with James, whose patrol was the nearest to the office. Our transects had coincided and we arrived alongside the lifeboat station at more or less the same time. I was starting to get tired and bored with the task in hand and paused to have a chat with him. We sat on the sand for a rest.
“How’s it going?” I asked him.
“Oh, okay, I suppose. It’s rather boring, to be honest, but I guess we’re not here to have fun,” he said glumly.
“Cheer up. At least your bit of the beach isn’t that busy, so I presume it’s not been too hard work.” We got onto the subject of how we’d spent the previous evening. “Went out for a drink with Nick last night,” I said. “We found a place where wetsuits are most acceptable!” I grinned at him.
“I didn’t have the nerve to go out — just stayed in my room,” he responded sadly.
“It’s easier if you’re not on your own. Safety in numbers and so on…Tell you what, why don’t I have a word with Nick and we all go together tonight. I should warn you, the place we went to is a gay bar.” I still didn’t know whether he was gay or straight and I didn’t want him to think I was coming onto him — at least, not until I was sure. “Is that a problem?” He looked at me a little dubiously.
“Not really…” He paused nervously. “…I thought I was straight — I have a girlfriend — but…” I put a hand on his arm.
“But…?” I encouraged, smiling kindly. He swallowed and came out with it.
“The day before yesterday, when you emerged from Andrew’s office and you were wearing the same kind of tight wetsuit I was, I found myself thinking conflicting thoughts. You have a good body and skintight rubber really shows it off. I was strongly attracted to you.” He went red. “Oh, I don’t know, I’m so confused! That’s why I was avoiding you and Nick yesterday.”
“I see. So now you’re not sure whether you’re straight, gay or bisexual?”
“I guess that’s it.” This had never been a problem for me — from an early age I had known I was gay. I tried to put myself in his position.
“Just for information, both Nick and I are gay. Look, why don’t you come with us for a drink later anyway — just as friends? It’s got to beat sitting around in the hotel brooding!” He smiled ruefully and nodded.
“All right then, I will.”
Neither of us had noticed, but as we were talking, Ian had come up to us on his tour of inspection.
“Oi, you two! You’re supposed to be working!” He laughed good-naturedly, so evidently we weren’t in for a major chewing out. We got to our feet, looking sheepish and went on with our litter patrol. Ian went with me, since we were both now travelling in the same direction and we chatted because it seemed the social thing to do. I discovered a fair bit about our “jailers”. Andrew, for example, had been (and still was) an avid surfer and had taken this job because it meant he could afford to stay in his hometown and continue to indulge his hobby. Ian himself was just doing it because it paid the rent while he was trying to decide what he wanted to do long term. He didn’t really know why Martin had signed up. At the yacht club, he continued onwards to supervise Nick, while I doubled back with my gradually filling bin bag. Another hour or so and it was time to knock off for the day. We made arrangements for the evening.
Just before seven, I made my way to our agreed rendezvous under the clock tower. Nick was already there, waiting. We hung around for a bit for James. It was ten past. Just as we were thinking he wouldn’t show, he finally arrived.
“We were beginning to think you weren’t coming,” I said.
“I nearly didn’t. But then I thought, what the hell, why not?” The pub was only a couple of streets away. As we made our way there, there was a shout from across the road and Nick was assaulted by a flying, overripe tomato. It landed on his upper arm with a splat! I guess that mob mentality hasn’t changed much since the fifteenth century. Fortunately, he was wearing rubber and the squashy projectile didn’t stick. With great reserve, he wiped the juicy mess off his arm with his other hand and coolly carried on, as if nothing had happened. Clearly, his unknown assailant had been expecting more of a reaction and went away disappointed, because nothing more ensued. We got to our destination without further incident and James and I staked a claim for a table while Nick went to get the drinks.
I should explain how we were able to carry things like money about on our person, despite not having any pockets. During the day, we each had a locker where we could store keys, cash and personal items. At night, it was possible to keep some money literally up our sleeves, which were tighter than a miser’s wallet! Nevertheless, it encouraged paying exactly the right money whenever possible, as loose change was a lot less comfortable than bank notes.
Thinking back to the previous night and that morning, I reminded James of Andrew’s admonition against too much drinking, that first day. It was before 8pm, so they were still serving hot food. We ordered meals, since both James and I were avoiding the dining rooms back at our accommodation. Nick had decided it didn’t bother him any more.
“Though, this morning at breakfast there was a minor episode,” he explained. “There was a family eating at the next table. The little boy — probably only three or four pointed at me and asked his parents, ‘Why is that man wearing funny clothes?’ There was a moment’s silence as some of the other diners looked, before the mother pointedly told him to finish his breakfast, saying, ‘It’s rude to point.'” We all laughed.
Over the next couple of days we got to know Andrew (who now said we could call him Andy), Martin and Ian quite well. During a lunch break I endeavoured to chat to Martin, the least talkative of the three. Eventually, while he was unlocking me for a pee, I wheedled out of him why he was working there. It turned out he was mainly doing it because he liked the sight of athletic male bodies in wetsuits and this unusually assignment let him get up real close to them! Kinky!
To be continued… In part 3.