The small rotund man looked over his shoulder, one last check to make sure the coast was clear. The alley way he was walking down was dank and dark, and a scurrying sound from behind one of the bins caught his attention for a second. He approached the door at the end of the alley, its paint peeled away, and the small frosted window was cracked. His heart felt as though it was in his mouth, as he raised his hand, he hesitated for a second. Should he go through with it? he still had time to turn and walk away. Return to the warm bosom of his wife, safe and clean and wholesome, but he simply couldn’t resist, this desire burned away at his very core, his limp attempt at denial was futile, something compelled him to rap three times on the door.
His heart rate quickened even further as he heard footsteps approaching the door. It slowly opened, and from the darkness within, a whispering voice said. "Password please."
"Er…….I’m sorry, I don’t know it, I’m new you see, I have……. er, never done anything like this before."
Even though he couldn’t see the man behind the door, he could somehow tell from his voice that he began to smile. "Ah, new blood, excellent. Come in."
The door opened with a creak, and the man stepped into a long hallway. Small lights struggled to light the length of it, and as he followed the stranger down the hall, he tried to wipe the nervous sweat away from his palms.
"How did you get to hear about us?" said the stranger without looking at the man.
"Er, well, you get to hear, you know."
The stranger laughed and turned to the man. "Well it doesn’t matter how you found us, just that you did, mmm?"
"Yes, I suppose so." Said the man as he giggled nervously.
The stranger opened the door to a large room. Inside men of all ages, sizes and denominations sat facing forward. In front of them was a large white screen, and an almost overwhelming sense of anticipation crackled in the air. The hushed conversations stopped as the two men entered.
"Brothers, a fledgling fly’s among us. Welcome him like he is one of our own. Brother. Your name please……."
The man’s eyes scanned the room nervously; he swallowed hard and said "Derek."
The entire congregation greeted him, and simultaneously did the secret signal. Derek had only heard rumours about this, and now he knew for certain that it was true. At last he had seen it with his own eyes. Everyman in the room clenched his fist, and raised it into the air. Then they all pulled their fists down twice, as if pulling on an imaginary cord.
"The stranger looked at Derek……."Brother?"
Derek felt the pride well up within him. He slowly clenched his fist, and as every set of eyes in the room fell upon him, he raised it into the air, and pulled it down twice.
"Toot toot," was the simultaneous response from the gathering.
The stranger smiled and said "Well done brother Derek, well done."
He ushered Derek towards the front of the assembly, and said, "You can sit with me tonight brother, just until you find your feet."
Derek sat down on a rickety chair, and the stranger walked to the front and stood before the screen.
"Brothers, welcome to one and all, let me just take this opportunity to welcome brother Derek into our little fold, and hope that his time here with us is an enjoyable one. We can deal with the formalities later brother, paper work etc. but now it is time to welcome our glorious leader. Please be upstanding for Brother Stephen, our Grand Master."
Every man in the room stood to attention, Derek followed suit. From the left of the room, a tall silver haired gentleman strode purposefully into the room. He turned and stood before the congregation, and gave the toot toot salute. All the men responded, Derek included. Derek had never felt so excited, he had never felt so at peace with himself, and he had never felt so ‘as one’ with a bunch of human beings as he did right now.
The man that had originally greeted Derek shouted "Gentlemen, SHIRTS OFF." All the men ripped open their shirts, and threw them into the air.
Never before had Derek been greeted with such a sight. It was truly magnificent, something to behold. The men were all different shapes and sizes, some had hairy chests, and some were clean shaven, some fat, some thin, but they all had one glorious thing in common. They all proudly sported bright shiny golden nipple clamps. And hanging between the clamps was a gold chain, and hanging from that gold chain was a guard’s whistle. Tears welled in Derek’s eyes, and even though his chest was clamp free, he still puffed it out, and held his head high.
"Step forward brother Derek," said Master Stephen.
Derek walked proudly to the front, and stood before the Grand Master. Derek looked down, and there laying upon a scarlet velvet cushion edged with gold braid, was his very own clamps. They shone as bright as the brightest star, and he couldn’t wait to feel the cold metal clamped firmly onto his erect nipples.
"With these golden clamps, I bestow upon thee brother Derek, the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon any spotter. We welcome thee into the fellowship that we call the 'Clamptits'. May thy clamps for ever shine, thy chain forever flow freely, and thy whistle forever toot. Look after them brother Derek, and they will serve thee well. Gentlemen, I give you…….Brother Derek."
The congregation all said "Brother Derek" together, then gave the toot toot salute. Derek looked deep into the Grand master’s eyes as he felt the icy cold clamps pinch his erect nipples. He almost felt a stirring in his loins as he felt the chain brush his chest. He felt the whistle swaying to and fro. He held it between thumb and forefinger, and raised it to his lips. With two powerful puffs, he let out a shrill toot toot into the room, the gathering raised their whistles and tooted back in recognition of their new member.
"Please be seated Brother Derek" said the Grand Master, "It is now time for the main event."
From behind him, Derek heard the whir of a projector, and on the large screen in front of him a grainy film of the unmistakable 'Flying Scotsman' burst fourth. Sighs of appreciation could be heard all around the room, and the air of excitement rose to fever pitch. Derek couldn't believe he was now one of them, one of the steam train enthusiasts clan. He had waited for this moment for so long, and now he was finally here.
He looked around him, and could see his fellow spotters were most definitely excited. He had felt a stirring himself, but wondered if there was some kind of etiquette. Just at that moment the Grand Master stood up sporting his own obvious excitement, and bellowed......"ALL ABOARD".......then blew his whistle. All around the room one could hear the sound of release. Tears welled in Derek's eyes once again. For so many years he had had to appreciate steam trains in private, his little guilty secret that he kept from his wife. Stolen moments when she was at her Mother's, those secret password locked folders on the computer, containing thousands of images of beautiful beautiful steam trains. How he would appreciate them, as he watched picture after picture flash before his eyes. The steam bellowing from the funnels, the beautiful lines that shaped every locomotive, the fires that burned deep within their beating hearts, but now he could appreciate them guilt free, here, in this place, he was complete.
"STOKE THE BOILERS GENTLEMEN, STOKE THE BOILERS" shouted the Grand Master, his face ruddy and sweating. Whistles swung violently to and fro, as the appreciation reached a crescendo. As the 'Flying Scotsman pulled into the station, it released a huge plume of steam, at this point, every man in the room raised his whistle to his quivering lips, and with a heavenly synchronicity, tooted as loudly as they could. The release was audible and simultaneous.......
The image on the screen flickered, and eventually ceased. Whistles fell from lips, and swung gently to a halt. The Grand Master slowly stood and removed his nipple clamps, "Same time next week gentlemen?".......
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