Dr Wallace's Casebook 4

(Part 1 from 4. Fiction.)

ALL YOU CAN EAT

When he first walked into my surgery, Shaun appeared to be a pretty typical teenager. He seemed to revel in looking sullen and throwing curt, disinterested quips back to almost every question. He wore clothes that looked as if he'd picked them up from a jumble sale even though they most likely had cost him dearly. His hair, which was an off-blond colour, was carefully strewn and tousled to make it look like he'd just staggered out of bed.

As soon as he slouched through the door of my surgery I felt like I knew him. So many other versions of him had been to see me over the past couple of years that he seemed almost like family.

And yet Shaun was a little different.

First of all, he surprised me by telling me his mum had made him visit me. Most young guys of his type wouldn't admit to that: they'd either have pretended they'd wandered in of their own accord, or otherwise would have lied to their mothers that they'd been to see me having found something more interesting to do.

But Shaun didn't seem to mind appearing like a dutiful son: "Yeah, she made me come. She said I 'ad to." His voice, with its thick Yorkshire drawl, was unusually gravelly for a lad of seventeen.

He fiddled with a long chain which hung from his left trouser pocket.

I asked, "Why did she want you to see me?"

Shaun threw me a guarded look. I noticed that he was trying without a lot of success to nurture the few wispy hairs on his chin into a goatee beard.

Eventually, he said, "I just wanna know that, if she phones, you'll tell her I came... that's all..."

I nodded. "Reception will confirm that to her. But if she asks what we talked about, neither I nor they will tell her about that."

He looked at me more intently. He must want to know he could trust me.

I explained, "What passes between us is completely confidential. Unless I feel that you or someone else is in danger, and even then I wouldn't tell your parents."

He nodded slowly.

I smiled. "So if you want to tell me... well... this is pretty safe territory."

He smiled back tentatively. It was a warm and genuine smile; a smile that betrayed there was a human being behind the stereotyped image he'd encased himself inside.

He said, "Okay. But I don't think there's anythin' wrong with it. It's just..."

He tailed off and I nodded, leaving the space to finish his sentence in his own time.

After a few seconds he went on, "To be honest, I was gonna make somethin' up about exam stress or wha'ever. Just so there'd be a record o' me bein' here. I knew you couldn't tell me mother what I was here about..."

Again he tailed off as if waiting for me to intervene.

I didn't, and so he continued, "But... I dunno... I think I must 'ave been expectin' some old guy."

I smiled. I'm only twenty-nine but most lads of Shaun's age tend to think of the gap between our ages as something approaching a geological aeon.

"The problem... put basically..." Again he tailed off, and took a couple of seconds to find the right words. "Well... basically, it's the way I wank."

I tried to form a facial expression that conveyed my lack of surprise and my understanding that what he'd just said something quite difficult for him.

He added, quickly, "You know... masturbate or wha'ever you call it..."

I realised he'd thought I hadn't known what he meant.

I suppressed a smile. "The word 'wank' existed when I was at school, Shaun. I was just giving you the space to continue. Perhaps you could tell me why your mother has become concerned about... your technique?"

He nodded.

"Well, my sister caught me doin' it one day. I didn't know she was 'ome and I was doin' it in me room. She just barged in on me..."

"And what did she see?"

He bristled at the memory and again seemed to struggle to find the right words. Eventually, he tried to avoid the question: "It wasn't like I was doing anythin'... you know... like pervy or anythin'. And to be honest, I'd thought my folks must know what I can do. The amount o' jokes my mates make and stuff. I thought 'alf the fuckin' neighbourhood knew "

"Whoa whoa slow down!"

He blushed and said, "Sorry. It just sorta slipped out. I just meant that I thought a lot of people knew about me."


I smiled. "I wasn't shocked at your language, Shaun. To be honest, I don't care how you express yourself and I'm not here as some kind of moral judge or you. I just meant you'd lost me."

He nodded.

I went on, still smiling in what I hoped was an encouraging way: "Now what do you mean about the half the neighbourhood knowing about you? What's so special about the way you masturbate? Or wank, if that's what you want to call it..." I added that last part just so he'd know I wasn't going to cower behind formal terms.

He looked down at the floor and thought about his response. After what seemed like about ten seconds, he blurted, "Basically, I can suck me own cock."

He looked up at me as if he expected me to be shocked beyond comprehension.

I just shrugged. "Actually, I've seen a couple of guys do that. When I was at school. It looked pretty... er... well, amazing, actually..."

He smiled. Again, there was a lot behind it: his eyes betrayed the first signs that he might actually consider me to be a worthy confidante.

He said, "That's what me mates 'ave always said. And I've never seen anythin' wrong in it."

I nodded. "So what you're saying, Shaun, is that and forgive me if I've misunderstood you when you masturbate wank you like to suck yourself?"

He shrugged. "Sometimes. When I can be bothered..."

"When you can be bothered?"

"It's not an easy thing to do... you know..."

"Oh right," I said. "So you save it for special occasions...?"

"Sort of. It's just... you know... too much faff to have to do it every time. But sometimes... when I fancy it and when I can be arsed..."

I nodded. "Okay. So how did your mum find out about it?"

"Like I said, me sister walked in on me. She must 'ave told 'er."

"You were sucking yourself when your sister walked in on you?"

He shrugged and jangled his chain again. Clearly this was something he did when he felt uncomfortable. "I suppose so."

I leaned forward across the desk and spoke more softly. "Shaun, there wasn't anything wrong in the fact you were enjoying yourself in your bedroom when it happened. It was your space and she was the one who was invading it. Don't feel guilty about that..."

He looked straight into my eyes. "It's just... I dunno... I must 'ave freaked her out. For her to tell mum..."

"How old is your sister?"

"She's a couple o' years younger than me. She knows about sex and stuff, but."

"Clearly she must have been a bit surprised, yes. But it wasn't as if you were doing anything unnatural, and in any case, she should have knocked."

"I should've checked she wasn't in."

"But you didn't and it happened. Stop blaming yourself it wasn't deliberate and it's not going to have any permanent impact on her..."

"Do you think?"

I smiled. "I think siblings have been through a lot worse than that and come out the other side..."

He looked unconvinced, but went on, "Well, me mother said I had to see you. Well not you especially, but a doctor."

"Why?"

He shrugged. "She said what I was doin' wasn't normal. That I was probably injurin' me back or me neck or somethin'. Or that I'd catch a disease from it. That kind o' stuff."

I considered what he'd said. At length, I said, "Is it painful on your neck and back when you do it?"

He shrugged. "A bit. But only like it is when you stretch a bit too far, you know..."

I nodded. "Do you find you get a lot of mouth ulcers or has the dentist mentioned anything about gum disease?"

He shrugged again. "I dunno. I don't think so."

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