I’m so bored of tragedy, so sick of heartache. This is the last sad story I want to tell. You have to make room in your heart for someone new, for love, for life; ghosts take up a surprising amount of space and time.
I’m angry, really fucking enraged, it’s grown since I started writing this but the show must go on, the curtain must fall. Even anger is attachment. I know I have to let go, I’m almost there but the truth is that I now want him to suffer, I want him to feel just a fraction of the pain that I have felt, that he caused. It might not be the most evolved of reactions, just the current one, the human one.
I want to punch him in the heart so it bleeds. I want him to feel it. I want him gone.
I’d pace up and down until midnight, that’s when his pizza-delivery-round would end. We devised a system using our newly acquired analogue mobile phones: If he was coming I’d receive a missed call of two ‘rings’ to be replied to with one, that is if I was still up and it was OK for him to come over. I was always up, It was always OK. This is how I mostly spent my year-out after college, before Uni.
We’d stay-up half the night watching Live TV, Bravo or just those girls gyrating to phone calls from the morbidly obese. We’d talk about everything and nothing, mostly nothing.
Emily eventually left him, reluctantly, she immediately regretted it; I had never been happier of course. It was 2001 and I was at Uni now, he came straight up to see me the day that it happened, he played his usual deviant tricks and I clapped my hands. My happiness was short-lived however, he met Carla one week later, she was much smarter than the last. We loved and hated each other so deeply it was grotesque. She got what I wanted, I got what she wanted, no one was satisfied but him. The day he called to tell me about Carla I had to pretend a friend had died to explain my morbid tone. I was just heartbroken and somehow knew this one would stick.
Uni was a great respite, I could fake a life on both sides, it was over far too soon, so abruptly. As I returned to Brighton so did my desperation, it was getting harder to fake the smiles and mask the jealousy, especially around her. I despised her. She was such a lovely person which only deepened my hatred.
One day I popped over to show Tim a new computer game that I had found called ‘Slut Fighters’ where big-boobed pixelated whores would fight for the chance to be bedded by the ‘King Dong’. The truth is that I had waited for three days to see him, so when he finally called I came running. I knew he’d love the game, he’d have to be impressed this time.
As I walked in to the house I quickly realised that Carla was there which immediately filled me with a murderous rage, he’d assured me we’d be alone this time. I was about to walk out, but Tim grabbed my arm and told me not to be a prick, that it was fine, she was in a good mood.
After scowling at him for some time I popped my head round the dining room door, walked in tentatively, then said hello to Carla, she was washing some dishes at the sink with her back to me. I saw her recoil at the sound of my voice, then a shudder that seemed to convulse her whole body, brief stillness, then she smashed all the dishes. After a moment and some heavy breaths she came over and gave me a big hug, her hands were bleeding, they left a mark where she perhaps would have rather stabbed me.
Tim was upstairs.
Time passed, nothing changed.
Both Tim and I were mutual friends with a guy called Martin, he asked us both to be best men at his wedding. Martin had been called by God to go to Bible college (he failed his ‘A’ Levels and didn’t know what to do, so the church, seeing his vulnerability, stole him). Tim and I decided to take Martin and his saintly posse to a big ‘school disco’ night in Hammersmith, for the Stag do. He said that we could take-over a spare dorm on the campus so we could stay out all night.
The second we entered the club I had two girls in-tow, as was customary, I’d picked them based on Tim’s preferences seeing as I had none. It wasn’t noted by him unfortunately, they were promptly dismissed so they could return to their slaggery. I watched him the whole night, I wanted him, he saw me looking at one point, he stared back blankly then looked down.
That early morning we stumbled back to the dorm, the other guys had passed-out in the various hallways, only me and Tim were awake. We sat on our individual beds for a while chatting, until there was a silence that I will remember for the rest of my life. After what felt like an age he spoke softly, with a slight quiver that I had only heard once before.
“You love me don’t you?”
I lay there stunned, wounded, exposed. I said nothing.
“I’d let you suck me, you know? I don’t know if I’d enjoy it but I’d like to think I would..I’d do that for you..”
I mumbled something then pulled the covers over my head as I disappeared in to the depths of my own shame. I should have gone over there, I should have just done it and got it out of the way, it would have saved me the endless lust, longing that I would feel for the next decade. Instead I did nothing.
There was a reason I had only been attracted to the straight ones, it was a form of self-protection, and denial of course. They were never supposed to let me in, I should never be allowed, it could never be OK, This didn’t mean I was gay did it? I couldn’t be gay. Anything but gay. But him knowing that before me? Devastating.
How could he have known something that had been so obscured from me for so long? What did it mean? Did I really love him? It was all suddenly so fucking clear. Down, down, I sunk in to an emotional coma.
The next morning we both acted as if nothing had been said, neither of us ever mentioned it again, I had hoped that he was admitting something to me, that he would come to me perhaps over time, but nothing else ever happened. I’ll never know his true feelings. The days following the wedding were the darkest that I had ever experienced, up until then. It was too much for my already wounded psyche. I broke down, completely.
It’s 10 years since I ran away to Japan to get away from him, from us, from me. I ran as far as I could, but you catch up with yourself eventually. I’m the Usain Bolt of misery. In Japan I found myself with a guy, fell in love and for the briefest of times forgot about Tim. Since then I have re-lived my story so many times, through so many straight guys it makes me sick to think of it. Each time I would briefly forget, until they showed they were no match for him.
I distanced myself after returning from Japan, I even told him that I had tried gay sex, he was intrigued but nothing more. He would visit a few times a year, more out of loyalty than kinship, I tried many times to talk about the past but he would just switch off or plead ignorance. I could always see the fear in his eyes, the same fear I once had. Two years ago he had a child with Carla, and I knew then it really was the end. During those two years I have come out to myself over and over again, to my family and to the world. I needed him physically gone so that I could live. Now it’s time for the ghost to leave.
There is no lonelier place than the closet, especially with him standing by the door, holding it shut, peeking in. One by one we come out to change the world around us, to try and survive whilst others would take away our love, our freedom, our lives. One by one we return to innocence, back to the beginning, to the child with his eyes wide and heart open.
Next time he’ll be worth it, I swear. My name is Pete and I am a love addict.
I can still remember his scent, a unique mixture of whatever detergent his Mum used and Tim, for men. Once when he was on holiday with Emily, the selfish bitch, I found an excuse to go round to his place, his Mum welcomes me in with smiles and fairy dust. I tell her I have to get some things from his room, so she leaves me to it.
I sit on his bed then slowly get in, I can smell him instantly, it sends shivers down my spine and blood to all the wrong places. I jump out, catching myself briefly, wondering how far away I am from complete obsession, for Tim. Looking down I can see the clothes that he had worn on a night out a few days before. He’d looked so goddamn sexy that night. At one point he’d actually grabbed my hand and put it on his crotch. He now always made a point of showing me his dick when he was drunk.
Before I knew what I was doing I’d wrapped myself up in his clothes, breathing him is as deeply as I could, my hand sliding down to finish the job. As I lay there staring at the massive Blur poster on his ceiling, pants down, soiled, ashamed, I realised that something wasn’t quite right.
It’s New Year’s Eve 1998.
“What the fuck we gonna do now then?”
We’d been ejected from a rather mediocre club earlier on in the night because Tim had managed to get too pissed too early. Emily told him to go fuck himself, knowing he would only get worse; this was enough for him to get kicked-out by a bouncer who clearly had ambitions of filling the vacancy. Bouncers were cocks in the 90′s. I followed him out, his trusty dog.
We decided that we would walk back along the seafront so he could sober-up; it’s there that we were mugged by a group of sub-human homogenised youth.
They mainly mugged me, I suspect it’s because I looked foreign, like. Halfway through the mugging I smashed a bottle over one of their heads, which threw them briefly. As they realised what I had just done they reached for what we assumed were their knives, needless to say, we ran.
“Faster, you fat fuck!”
“They kicked-me-in mate, fuck you, and thanks for the support!”
“I beat the shit outta that one“
“What, the invisible one? Cheers ‘mate’”
“Shut the fuck up and run, you spastic!”
He was right, about the running at least, the truth is that there were far too many of them for him to have done much anyhow.
We ran until we threw up, which was far enough but an alarmingly short distance. We both collapse on to a bench facing the sea as it begins to thunder. He sees a tear run down my face but instead of taking the piss, he wraps his coat around me and strokes my leg softly. Neither of us spoke for a few minutes. To this day it’s perhaps the most tender moment of my life.
“It was pretty cool when you smashed that bottle over that prick’s head.”
“You wanna stay over at mine? Got the place to myself, you don’t want your folks to see you like this..”
“Yeah that would be cool, cheers mate”
He helps me up then we stumble back to his. Once we get there he throws me a towel and some clothes, he picks some up for himself and we head to the bathroom. I look in the mirror to assess the cosmetic damage, it’s pretty bad, he jumps in the shower.
He doesn’t pull the curtain across this time, he just showers in front of me. It wasn’t intended to be sexual I don’t think, but it was certainly intimate. As the water tricked down his torso, finding the most prominent path, I couldn’t help but look and admire. He didn’t say a word.
He finishes off, then wipes-up slowly, loosely.
“Your turn mate, jump in”
I hesitate at first, checking I’m not giving anything away, then strip, it’s agony.
“Ahh fuck, that really hurts..”
He helps me get my shirt off, then I do the rest. I shower in front of him in the same way. At first he only looks slyly, but by the time I was washing the nethers he was looking as freely as I had.
As we dress and leave the bathroom the banter returns.
“Thought you said yours was bigger than mine, because it’s brown an’ all!”
“You haven’t seen it hard mate, you can never tell when it’s soft, I’ve seen it on the net..”
“yeah right, mines much bigger than yours..”
“Fuck you mate, get it hard then come compare..”
I was mostly joking but partly hoping, he squints at me briefly then runs upstairs to his bedroom, I follow, my heart pounding like that day once, at church.
He puts some porn on without asking, we both sit there for a few minutes, motionless. He’s the first to unzip, I mirror him, soon enough we are both exposed and working. After a few tense moments the mood lightens.
“Mine’s still bigger though, look!”
He stands up and so do I, close enough so that we can compare but far enough so that we aren’t quite touching. For a few minutes the porn disappears and it’s just me and him. I can feel his breath on my neck, he’s so close. At one point it’s almost as if he wants to kiss me but instead he sits down and furiously finishes off the job. I do the same. Legs touching, eyes ahead.
After his breath returns he begins hurriedly cleaning up, then dressing, whilst not looking at me at all. After a minute or so he stops then turns abruptly.
“Don’t ever mention this to anyone, OK? Not even to me..”
Sledgehammer to the heart and balls. Pause, deep breath.
“Same goes for you, mate”
We both went to bed, separately, in silence. I was up the whole night thinking about what had happened, thinking about him. I didn’t stop wanking about it for days, months, years.
Things were about to get very complicated indeed.
Have you ever dreamt you are moments away from marriage, only you don’t know the bride/groom? The terror. I used to be plagued by them. Not surprising seeing as my Parents’ marriage was semi-arranged and my Dad is an Evangelical minister.
Every time I had that dream, Tim would be there, in the front-row, crying. Once he called out for me, once he ran up and saved me.
“I’m not straight..”
My heart almost stopped. Gulp.
“I mean, I don’t think anyone is like, 100% straight, we all did ‘stuff’ when we were kids..”
I didn’t do anything with him, who did he do this ‘stuff’ with? So jealous. So many questions, maybe this could be my chance..
“You fucking gaylord!”
I don’t know why I said it, actually, I do now, but not then. Then I wanted to die. Looking back I was the most homophobic person I have ever known. Not outwardly, no, others could be gay that was fine, but me? Never! I’m not sure I have words enough to explain how much I didn’t want to be gay.
It was becoming harder to deny my urges. I simply couldn’t keep my eyes from straying to his crotch, like, all the time. I look him in the eyes, he blushes, then punches me quite hard on my right arm.
“Nah, fuck off! As if! Of course I’m not a gaylord, you know I only like girls, yeah? Just saying that people do stuff, ya know, when they’re kids..”
It’s true, some ridiculous percentage of kids will have played some kind of naked game with those of the same gender, before society steps in to threaten them in to boxes with pink armbands.
“Ah yeah I remember when you tried to get me to mess around with you when we were younger! You little queer! Only kidding, I know what you mean. Who did you ‘play’ with anyway?”
My voice was all trembled and weak, my legs were shaking and my heart was now pounding so hard i could barely hear myself speak. He turns as red as a stop sign then clears his throat a little.
“Nah, not fats! Ozzy John..”
“Ah yeah, him? You could have done better mate..”
He seems relieved as he tells me what he had done as a child, what almost every child does yet grows to be ashamed of and sometimes despise.
I feel it’s time to own-up myself, maybe this could bring us closer together?
“You know, I did a similar thing too mate..before I came to Brighton..with a friend..”
“I knew it! You fucker! I knew you did, you told me something..once..”
We compared notes then vowed silence on the matter. We were now bound by our mutual secret, but that would be the last time he would ever acknowledge being anything other than completely straight. We were about to turn 17.
We both picked up the sports equipment, packed up the hall then left the Church, as we did twice a week, every Sunday. We were being trained/groomed to be youth leaders. Church is a hotbed of fraternisation.
In the spring of 1997 disaster struck. Tim met his first girlfriend – Emily. She was a cute little thing with all the right bits, apparently. In retaliation I also acquired a female, a superior model, then began my first charade. Her name was Becca. She was beautiful, sexy even. I was a willing face for a beard, and she had Daddy issues. I regret how I treated her, but I won’t feel guilty anymore.
I hated Emily for taking Tim from me, that she had unlimited access to his body. She hated me for having unlimited access to his heart, we should have swapped places but that didn’t suit Tim, unfortunately. I didn’t stop for one second to think about Becca’s fragile heart, or body for that matter, only my facade. A facade does not have a conscience, it functions like a corporation.
Becca loved me, she used to stare at me, adoringly, for no reason at all. I hated it.
“What are you looking at?”
She would giggle seductively like the Cadbury’s Caramel bunny. I wanted to smash her face-in. She was so beautiful.
“Stop looking at me like that, it makes me feel weird..”
I didn’t have the words when I was 17.
“But I love you! Don’t you love me? Look how cute I am!”
She would fake-cry then wrap her arms around me, I could barely conceal my repulsion, the dread as her hand slid down my shorts, my daily exam, it was only a matter of time before I failed.
“No..we have to get ready, got to meet the others soon..”
Suspicion, raised eyebrows, disapproval.
“You know which others..”
Stern voice, frustration, anger.
“Yeah, and the others..”
“Tim, Tim, Tim! Can’t you go without him for one day?”
“I love you too you know..”
Chemical warfare should always be a last resort. It generally works.
Misery gets passed down endlessly unless we are mindful and honest. I hope she is blogging now. I hope she is happy.
I had sex with Becca before Tim had sex with Emily, just so I could brag about it and hopefully undermine him. I used to tell him mine was much bigger, because I was brown, which was complete nonsense of course.
“Mate, will you get me some condoms?”
“Get them yourself!”
“Please mate, please!”
“Get them yourself, pussy!”
“Come on, I’ll let you watch if you do..”
That’s all he had to say. I went in and got the worst condoms I could find, pleasure wise, then handed them over reluctantly.
“It better be a good show!”
“You’re not allowed to wank though, not when looking at me, OK?”
“Up yours! As if I’d be looking at you anyway!”
I ran home, connected up to Tim’s webcam and watched the whole thing. I wanked more that day than any other in my life, and of course it was all for him, on him, in him.
I had never seen him completely until this time, I was not disappointed, only I became more desperate for him than ever, the power-balance had changed, he was now firmly in control.
It’s been just under two years since I last saw Tim, in person; he’s often present in my mind. My addiction to him is as strong as that of any drug, but giving up has been far harder, with never-ending withdrawal. I crave him every single day.
We met at church Tim and I. He was always small, slight, but determined. He had a strange, cute face, like some kind of baby animal, maybe a seal. His eyes were so green, they’d put spring leaves to shame. I could lose myself in those eyes, I did lose myself. I never found anyone big enough to fill his tiny shoes.
I’m not sure how to write this one.
In another world we probably would have been together. What a cliche, but it feels true. I know lots of people say things like this, but I’m certain that he loved me, or at least he wanted to, either way – I loved him more deeply than anyone had ever loved. I hated him so fiercely he could feel it from the other side of the world, I know he could, did, I mean, I wanted him to, it felt that strong.
It’s possible he didn’t feel a thing.
It’s so fucked that I will never know what he really felt or thought, whether the years of dedication meant any more to him than servitude or life-support. I’m not alone am I? Did someone ever steal your heart so completely that you lost your mind? I still feel lost sometimes, and insane.
I used to stay over at his house when we first moved to Brighton in 1990, we were 10 back then. It was the first time I had experienced houses that had more than just functional rooms. They were so tidy, such overwhelming order. It was bright, the colours all matched and complimented; it smelt like peaches and potpourri. The only thing my family did better was food, by a light-year.
His family did stuff together, activities, fun things and none of it seemed ironic at all. I remember scanning all the photos hung fondly on the dining-room walls. Such enviably sickening montages of happy holidays to Norway or Australia, all smiles and contentment. They just seemed like the perfect family, but more than that – they were interested in me. I was so attention starved that I couldn’t help but get swept along by them.
Did I want to be white as well as straight when I was younger? I guess the white/straight/male world is a little easier than the brown/gay/sometimes ambiguous one. Either way, it’s noted.
I loved Tim’s Mum, so soft and kind, almost ethereal, I thought she was the nicest, kindest woman in the world. She would make me toasted cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise and we’d chat about things, all kinds of topics, she engaged me in a way that no one else had. Often as we chatted, the Carpenters would be playing softly in the background, or perhaps the Moody Blues. The truth is that I wanted her to be my Mum, I felt so safe there, like a child probably should but I rarely had.
It was like they had a glow in their home and their hearts that we simply didn’t have. I didn’t understand it; it all seemed normal yet completely alien. I was standing outside in the cold, pressed against their warm window whilst they waved at me from the open fire.
It’s only now I have remembered and made sense of the masses of pharmaceuticals in the bathroom, the bedroom, kitchen and even in the secret space under the stairs. Even I can manage an ethereal glow, given the right medication.
When we were about 11, I remember Tim suggesting we get naked together and mess around, as kids do, it was probably phrased as some game at the time. Having been caught-out a year or so before by my Dad I reluctantly declined. There would be more offers in the future, but spread over some years, the complexities becoming deeper as age and society raped us of our innocence.
We didn’t see each other much outside church between the ages of 12 and 15, different friends and interests. I’d been tied to James for a while at this point, but as things soured with him I found myself drawn back to my oldest friend, Tim; he had grown up nicely, in the areas that mattered.We became inseparable once more.
One night we both admitted to each other that we regularly wanked, up to three times a day in winter and up to six in the summer, then divulged our preferred stimulus. The best he could do was a porno mag he found in the park, hidden like an elephant under the bed.
“Have you not seen the Internet yet?”
“What the fuck’s an internets?”
I kid you not, that was the reply, it was the earlyish Nineties though and most people had not heard of the Internets, to be fair.
“Mate! It’s got all the porn in the world on it!”
“Do what?! No Way! What on the computer like?”
It would now seem like a piss-take; the cock-filled woman took an age to appear in her full VGA glory. It was the most erotic ten minutes of my life, line by line we became more and more excited. I looked across, it appeared Tim now had a one-man festival going on in his shorts. Mine was pretty much the same. We looked and giggled.
It was at that point that the obsession with his body began, that exact image has etched itself in my memory as my first consciously sexual thought followed by a definite impulse. This was the only time, other than when he was drunk years later, that we both looked at each other equally.
He looked at me, I looked at him, anything was possible.
He looked like some kind of filthy angel, piercing blue eyes, legs spread – jeans on, for now.
I’d met him on top of a mountain in Arizona, we had both turned up to film the same family living in the Navajo/Hopi reservation on Big Mountain. He instantly admitted that he had never filmed a thing in his life, I immediately offered all future footage, my total love and devotion and perhaps a hand job in the outhouse; he accepted the footage, I could work on the rest.
It was strange to bond over a genocide, especially one the ‘Free World’ has barely even acknowledged. As the Grandmother, 91, showed us how far she has to travel to get clean water, reenacting a syphoning method that would shame even the most advanced of scallywags, I couldn’t help but notice how boy-like he was. Very chatty, tall, rugged, God..I could fall for this one.
As the once meth-addicted daughter interpreted slowly for her Mother, I noticed him staring at me. I was almost certain he blushed, my reaction was somewhat more subterranean. It was a very strange situation, was it wrong to be hard in a Grandmother’s hogan?
About a month before this I had been asked to accompany some friends on the trip, they own a Native American (themed) shop here in Brighton, I was to be the designated camera guy. It’s strange because I had actually sold all my camera equipment in a fit of change some months before, certain that I would never come back to it. My Native-American-British friends stepped-in and bought my kit, perhaps with some foresight. When asked to go I felt slightly conflicted, after all I had opted out of that career, should I be so easily swayed back in to a role that had taken me so long to shed?
I don’t think I really made a conscious decision to go, rather I went with the alleged flow, which was surprisingly Zen of me. On the lead-up to the trip I began to question my sanity, I was still dealing with the remnants of an anxiety disorder and had no idea what I would be doing, or where – for three weeks in the baking-hot sun.
Either passivity or determination led me there, I’m not sure which. By the time I found myself crying on an airplane it was of course too late. I had been here before. As I popped my second traquiliser of the flight, tears reluctantly streaming down my face then in to my ‘beef bourguignon’, I hoped for the best but feared the worst, the reality would be somewhere in-between.
Once the filming had been completed for the day, and by completed I mean staged (the term ‘documentary’ is relative after all), we sat down for lunch in the Grandmother’s small house. We all ‘ummmmed’ with audible delight at the first meal of the day, served at 2 pm. It turns out that meal times and portions are not universal.
After the meal we parted. Before leaving, he told me that he lived near Gallop where we would be the following week to purchase jewelry for the Brighton shop, and asked if we could meet up to transfer the footage. Realising that the transfer would need to take place in our hotel room I gladly agreed. It was at this point that the fantasies started.
I wanted him. I thought it might be a safe and opportune moment to exercise my powers of attraction, it was time to ‘Secret’ me up some cock. I set my intention, tested it out in the shower each morning, then again in the evening, until the day finally came. As my companions set out for their daily jewelry acquisition I toyed with the various seating options in the hotel room, settling with me perched on the bed and him on the massive wooden chair that looked like a wagon.
He arrives with six beers and a motorbike helmet, I sit him down and we begin to chat, he’s incredibly chatty, which makes a nice change. We start talking about relationships, he tells me about his girlfriend and I tell him I’m gay.
“What? No. Really? Cool, man. I have lots of gay friends actually..”
It doesn’t surprise me one bit, although I had no idea gay people actually existed in Arizona. I smile.
“Well that’s because you’re a very attractive, masculine man who likes to chat..you never been tempted to try then?”
I laugh, he looks at me then smiles slyly.
“Well..sometimes I have felt like I should try? like I owe it to them or something? But I have never really wanted to..”
“I never do anything I don’t want to, well rarely..but let me be completely honest – I have been wanking about you day and night since I last met you and rather than hide that from you, and the fact that I am trying to seduce you right now, I thought I’d just let you know..”
“Well that’s very honest of you Pete..I don’t know what to say..”
He blushes and downs his current beer, I feel free.
“All you have to say now are all the things you have never told anyone, I mean your darkest secrets, We will probably never see each other again so why not just be completely, unashamedly honest?”
He giggles like a boy briefly then scratches his chin, I light a cigarette and smoke it out the hotel window. I decide that I should start the honesty.
“Last week I nearly strangled a woman with a solar-light recharging cable..I mean, I didn’t , and I don’t think I would have but the woman hadn’t stopped talking for three fucking days, we were at 9,000 ft altitude and I was very dehydrated..she demanded that I help her set up the light for her and for one murderous moment it nearly went round her neck..”
“Shit man, what happened?”
“I hugged her instead, but it was a hateful hug..”
He laughs then clears his throat.
“Last year I got so crazy, and I mean fuckin’ loony tunes man, that I had to throw my laptop in the bath and fill it up with coke..”
“Just because I lost it..much better now though, and no one ever knew, I was just so sick of the emails and Facebook, you know?”
“Yeah mate, I know..”
We chatted for hours, we traveled the world, I told him all my filthiest secrets and he did the same, we laughed more than either of us had for a very long time. Eventually we did some work, once completed we returned to the confessional.
“So man, do you feel nothing for girls now, like if there was some hot fuckin’ chick offerin’ it to you right now, nothing?!
“I can appreciate beauty, and if I rub my cock up against most things it will get hard, but I reckon the best I could manage with a girl now is the equivalent, pleasure-wise, of a mediocre wank..”
He laughs so much he cries.
“You make me fuckin piss myself..let me try and say that in your cool British accent….’a medicore wank’”
The laughing ends and there is a brief, rare moment of silence. I look him in the eyes then smile.
“Can I see you naked? I don’t need to have sex with you, although that would be amazing, but I want to get the fantasy right at least..”
He looks back at me frowning slightly at first, slowly fading bright red, his blue eyes glinting like a ‘manga’ character from some fucked-up Japanese cartoon. Looking down he slowly undoes his jean buttons, slides them off, shuffles out then sits there in his underwear. His legs were even more impressive than I had imagined, he was rugby personified.
Next his top comes off revealing the perfect amount of chest hair, he then jumps up and puts his hands on his hips.
“Ready?” He asks cheekily, I nod enthusiastically; within a flash he is standing naked in the middle of the hotel room, it’s a beautiful sight. He turns round wiggling his hips, I can barely contain myself, in fact I am not containing myself at all.
It was like all my birthdays, Christmases, Hanukkahs and Ramadans come at once. Fade to black as I move down slowly.
Sat at my desk I looked out of the window as the Suntory sign reluctantly flickered to life, I knew the next lesson would begin in two minutes; sigh, grunt, kick. All the others had a free period, I hated being penalised for being the best English instructor on the 13th floor, the only reward the Japanese could offer me was more work. A blimp passes the Nova tower, advertising what appears to be pedophilia, it carries my attention with it until it disappears in to the dusk.
Gazing across the polluted Osaka skyline I found it hard to remember life back home; so easy to forget what you were running away from, too easy perhaps. As Big Ben signals the start of the next lesson I see the French guy sat opposite me. Thick tree-trunk legs, separated enough to display a very pleasing bulge. I always started with the bulge – crotch, eyes, arse was the standard assessment. His shirt was black, tight-fitting, open more than usual at the neck - verging on chest, I could see Christ dangling freely in his hair.
Some people are disgustingly good-looking, Fabien was vomit-inducingly handsome. At the time I was reluctantly bisexual, but this man had momentarily gayed me, I would have let him do anything to me, just about. I catch his blue eyes and questioning smile just as my lesson begins, I nearly piss myself with embarrassment. A Japanese student appears on my screen, I adjust my hair and tent, smile broadly then turn on the camera.
“Good evening! My name is Pete, what is your name?”
I offer my hands to the camera, which are now appearing on the student’s TV screen somewhere outside Toyko, this was cutting-edge multimedia teaching a la 2003.
“Erm my name is Izumi..nice to meet you Pete!”
“Nice to meet you too Izumi..”
Smiles and laughter, I look over to the sexy amphibian and notice that he has his hand near his crotch and is looking directly at me smiling coyly, it’s almost too much to handle and I freeze. The student notices.
“Pete, hello? Is there some problem? You aren’t moving..”
I pretend that there is a technical hitch then carry on with the lesson, today it’s about shopping. It was an easy job, a maximum of eight forty-minute lessons per day, although often it would only be six or less. The free periods would be spent in the ‘refresh room’ with the other purple tags, we were the bottom rung of the brothel, the language whores. Our immediate overlords were the green tags, westerners that had been in Japan a little too long, they bridged the gap between purple and blue. The blue tags were Japanese.
We were taught to use Japlish, a combination of English words with Japanese gesture. Saying “OoooooKaaaaay” whilst making the OK hand gesture always signaled the start of a new exercise. I hated doing it, it made me feel like dying, but the fat Irish bitch had insisted, we called her Cammy due to her chronic camel-toe. It goes without saying that she was a green tag.
“Please look at this video and remember which items each person buys..”
I look up as the video plays, hoping to continue the flirtation but his head is down, immersed in his job, how tedious. Sat behind him is a girl called Natalie, American, she is playing with her hair and looking directly at me, smiling like a face-fucked porn star. It’s very confusing. Perhaps she thought the earlier glances were for her? I smile back, she makes a bored face and pretends to hang herself, I pretend to find it amusing, we both ‘laugh’. Time passes.
“So Izumi, today we learnt about shopping in the supermarket, the shopping mall and..?”
“Erm, in the record shops?”
“That’s right! Well done, great lesson, have a good night and I hope to see you again soon!”
Waving and laughing, I turn the camera off as Big Ben drones in the background. I look up, Natalie is standing above me, I can hardly see her face over her hijacked breasts.
“Heeeey you, how’s it going? I’d love to have you as a teacher, you sound so kind, and your accent…”
She seductively/moronically plays with her hair. I put on my best ‘Hugh Grant’ and reply.
“Why, thank you m’lady!”
Awkward silence, strange smell. We both look at each other suspiciously then look down in synchronicity.
“OH MY GOD! Is that shit??”
She screams, she’s not wrong.
“I think it is..what the fuck? That smells awful..”
“But..how? Why? Who did it?”
She looks accusingly at me.
“It wasn’t me, look it’s coming from that booth..”
We hear a scream from the other side of the room of similar sentiment. We follow a trail of turd that runs from the empty booth next to me to the security door at the far end of the room; in total there were fifteen solid pieces of shit. It was the most disgusting thing I had ever experienced. A member of the Japanese technical team runs past, slipping on a turdicle then crashes in to a wall. He looks down in shock then straight in to my eyes, I had never seen anyone so horrified, disgusted and confused in all my life.
“Nani? NANI? Dog?”
“No..I don’t think a dog could get in here without a security pass, and a forefinger..”
“I don’t know..look it comes from here..”
Natalie screams again then grabs hold of me, she starts to slide her hand up my thigh and breathe on my neck, I look at her sternly then remove the hand, she concedes. The blue tag calls for others who also come running then recoil in disgust. Second by second more instructors catch sight of the poo trail, there are gags and screams, slides and falls. Nothing in life can prepare you for shit on the teaching floor. Big Ben sounds amidst the chaos, we are all urged back to our seats to begin the final lesson of the day. We bewilderingly obey, such is the Japanese work ethic.
As we struggle to block out the madness and pungent aroma whilst teaching our lessons, the Japanese staff cover each blob of evidence with paper towels, it looked like some kind of fecal genocide. We all leave the teaching floor as quickly as we can when the lesson ends. We recount the tale to those on other floors, within a couple of months the story has become Nova mythology.
I never did find out who the culprit was, although I had my suspicions. I organised a poo tour for those who were not present, it was a little like the London Dungeon tour but far more macabre.
God, I miss Japan.
My brother’s sixth child has just been squeezed in to the world, through a canal of blood and chord, out of a tired and mangled vagina. It’s a girl, she’ll scream and shit herself for a while then make fake alluring smiles that turn out to be gas, which make me look well stupid as I force a ‘coo’ and smile back. Oh then there will be the obligatory holding of the child, we each take our turn, willing her not to cry as she reaches us, but she does of course – such rejection, such pity.
The magic years are between two and six, you can lose yourself in their crazy perception of the world for a while and even learn from them, I’d stay there if I could but by seven or eight all that’s gone, replaced by ego and self awareness and it’s then downhill until they’re old enough to buy you a drink.
What a miserable way to announce the birth of a niece, I was going to delete it but I found it too funny, which is simply terrible right? The truth is that I am a little indifferent to the birth of my sixth underling, she mostly represents a life that is totally foreign to me that I have generally been forced in to. There will be the mandatory Christian ceremony accompanied with the sheer horror of my sister-in-law’s family. They are awful, I despise them. Self-important, money-driven, racist, classless inbreeds. It’s not my little niece’s fault, but it is my brother’s and his child-addicted wife’s.
The first three were a novelty but by number four I was overcome with annoyance at my brother’s ongoing intrusion, you see I am expected to care, not asked to care. I don’t believe in default, and relatives are relative. Aside from anything else I resent all the events that I am supposed to attend and spend money on when they are so offensive to me and often leave no one satisfied. Ergh, how they cry when they don’t like the present I spent ages choosing for them, everyone once again looking at me with pity.
“Well, we did say he doesn’t like Thomas..”
As if I should fucking care about which fictional cartoon train character a five year old prefers, fuck off. When I was young we were taught to be grateful for every gift we received, and some of them were a piece of fruit, so shove that in your station and smoke it/how do you like them apples? Sometimes I want to kick them, but that’s only because the parent’s idea of discipline is shouting endlessly, aimlessly, hoping they get the right name and misdemeanor. It’s all just so noisy and unnecessary.
Six is a lot of children though, right? But maybe this one will cure AIDS? Cancer? Or the common cold at least. I guess my brother has made it easier for me, perhaps he’s taken my share, I have no current impulse to procreate, the words of Philip Larkin forever in my mind, I have spent most of my life dealing with the bullshit passed on to me by my parents. This is a delightful conversation I once had with my mother:
“Your stupid brother always expects me to look after his kids, I’ve only just finished raising my own! Don’t I have enough on my plate?”
“Yes of course Mum, and you know that you don’t have to do any of it? Just say no!”
“Ah it’s not that easy, I’m the grandmother, he’s always judging me against his mother-in-law..you know that he calls her ‘mum’ too?”
“Yeah I heard that last time and found it very strange..”
“Kids, kids, kids that’s all I get…when are you going to have children Peter?”
“What’s the point in you then?”
Lovely. It just slipped out of her mouth but she meant it, at this point she had no idea that I was gay, not that it would make a difference, but it certainly hurt. I will not define my life by someone else’s, she had no choice. It’s strange that my parents would wish me the same life as them; I often notice how misery is an acceptable and expected form of currency in my family.
I have no doubt that at least half my brother’s children will grow up to resent him deeply, he’s had so little time for them individually. The irony is that he is yet to deal with his childhood and parental issues. I’m guessing that’s why some people end up having children so early then never stop, desperately trying to create a childhood that they didn’t have, trying to forget but not let go, holding on tightly to their resentments as a misguiding light.
It’s never bad children I resent, just bad parents. I’m a bad uncle, but I’m fine with that.
I had forgotten about James.
He’d been catapulted back in to my conscious mind as I entered my friend’s house just before Christmas.
“What is this music? I need to know! What is this called?”
“It’s on Classical FM..have a look on-line they usually have track listings..”
I frantically searched to no avail, in desperation I emailed the DJ.
At around 7 pm this evening you played a kind of Gregorian chant that I have been trying to find for years, it’s not on your playlist – please help!
I apologised to my friends for barely greeting them before becoming possessed, they were very understanding, a little amused. I explained that the last time I had heard it I had been 15 years old, sat on James’s bed prodding his nose as he scowled at me at the end of a long summer.
The next day I received a reply from the radio station.
It was Miserere mei Deus by Allegri.
I find it on Youtube instantly and press play, my emotions don’t quite know what to do with themselves, I cry a laugh. Just like that I’m 15 again.
Walking up a path in the woods we made our way to the pissing tree, we’d got in to a habit of walking there together after admitting to each other that it was a little scary alone. Secretly I just loved being that intimate with him. I couldn’t help but glance down and across, it looked so beautiful to me and I would take every opportunity thereon in to be in his (and its) presence. He asked me to move in to his tent so we could talk that night, I happily agreed.
He had such a soft face, it was actually pliable; his eyes were the brightest green. He always seemed so calm, affable but with a hint of sadness behind the eyes that perhaps only I could see. We stayed up all night chatting , laughing and finally confiding. I felt a warmth and hunger that I had not ever experienced before, he was my first crush.
We were not typical teenagers, far from it. The camping trip that we were on was being run by our church, we attended prayer meetings, sang in the church band and even read the Bible together. I didn’t know what I was feeling, all I knew was that I wanted to be with him, always, everywhere. We became inseparable.
I liked his life, it was white and clean, there was order and interest from parents who adored me, their new son. I wanted to be part of their world, his world, so desperately. Summer of ’95 was spent half at his and half at mine, I didn’t care as long as he was there. One night as we chatted we both admitted that we masturbated but always felt awful about it. We decided to create a codename for our sinful wanks – ‘Baileys’.
“Where have you been?”
I asked him after waiting 20 minutes for tea. He hung his head low and looked up at me with his green glowing orbs.
“I had to have a Baileys over the Kays catalogue..”
“That’s ok, I had a Baileys while you were ‘getting tea’ “
“What were you thinking about?”
I told him it was Becca but it was all and completely him. We prayed for forgiveness and for more strength in future, the Lord obliged and wiped our slates clean.
“Dress me in white so that I need not be ashamed, please forgive me, renew me, make me whole once more”
No one will ever love me the way Jesus once did.
I was the happiest I had ever been, it truly was my summer of love. It makes me cry just thinking about how simple it was, how bright-eyed we were, so beautiful and innocent, not yet jaded by disappointment or crippled with knowledge. For one moment in time I experienced love in it’s truest form. It’s just a shame that he didn’t like boys too.
I would watch him sleeping sometimes, just stare as he breathed softly. I began to want more. One night whilst he slept I picked up his shirt and breathed in deeply, before I knew what I was doing I found myself having a furious Baileys inspired purely by his scent.
Another night our Bible reading lead us to the story of David and his close friend Jonathan. These are some quotes from the book of 1 and 2 Samuel.
“And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and belt.”
This would almost definitely have left him naked in front of his friend.
“David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together..”
“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother, you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”
Finally I understood our relationship, it had been affirmed in the Bible itself, based on my interpretation of course. I began to write James what can only be described as love letters. I knew I loved him and that it was OK, only that it really wasn’t. He didn’t know what to make of my increasingly romantic scribblings, I could see they made him uncomfortable but I just couldn’t help myself.
Long silences now punctuated our once flowing stream, I felt that I was losing him and I couldn’t understand why, then the dark moods started. Sometimes when I saw him it would make me so angry I couldn’t say a word, we’d just sit there and listen to music. I would start to poke his plasticine face and nothing more. It was weird. We’d reached an impasse but neither of us could admit it. I hated that he couldn’t be more to me, especially as the Bible had given permission.
The last time I ever stayed at James’s house I had watched him shower through the crack in the door, he knew I was there but he pretended he didn’t, I saw him get aroused. We drank together for the first and last time, there was Baileys everywhere.
That night we hardly spoke, he told me he would put on some relaxing music. ‘Miserere mei Deus’ by Allegri. As we sat there listening to the haunting sound of the all-male choir we both started to cry, we said our last bed-time prayer and I breathed him in deeply as he faded away.
It was a blueprint that to this very day I have to be mindful of, it was my first experience of love and it would repeat itself endlessly throughout my life. It’s hard to revisit heartbreak, but the patterns must end, you have to see them first, be aware. Sometimes we just don’t want to let go, sometimes we forget.
“In your fucking face!”
Ryu’s roundhouse smashed-in Ken’s pathetic head – one, last, time.
I smile, the smuggest I can muster, his controller crashes to the ground, justice is served like a tepid McDonald’s. We’d been playing for about four hours this session, but really the game had lasted 6 years. The others were dancing, designing, DJ-ing or just sitting there with blank smiles, cigarette in-hand as it had probably been for some hours and would be, most likely, for hours to come. It was Easter.
Mephedrone is traditionally taken at Easter, it was Christ’s drug of choice you see. Back in those days it was more commonly known as ‘body’ or ‘bread’. Sensing an opportunity, the Roman authorities, who were facing huge opposition at the time decided to insight a moral panic as means of distraction. Suddenly ‘body’, which had been a relatively unknown, safe and unscheduled substance, was the cause of all society’s ills.
John the Baptist or ‘Johnny B’ had apparently eaten his own grandmother and testicles whilst high, or so it had been reported by the ‘Daily Toil’, the people’s newspaper. New laws were subsequently rushed through and the substance was declared enemy of the people, all those in possession were to be flogged, dealers crucified. They all raised a full glass on hearing the news at the Senate, then went home to beat their wives.
JC, knowing the freedom that his Israeli substance had brought to his disciples defied the authorities. He knew that time was short so he threw one last party, he gave freely of his bread, his body and they all went proper mental for one last night. As many of you will know, he was then betrayed by a close friend, his flatmate actually who was just sick to death of the smell of the stuff which at best was likened to bleach, at worst – cat piss.
Jesus was captured, tried, sentenced then crucified, the papers however reported his death was due to a fatal overdose of the substance which was now known, at least to the media, as ‘bread rolls with cheese and pickle’. They all raised a brimming 8% glass on hearing the news at the Senate, then went home to slash some bunny rabbit throats, and of course, beat and abuse their daughters and wives, as was customary.
“One more game? Come on man! One more, then I’ll beat you!”
Silly boy, he must have known that I would stop and settle at victory, I’m not like some men who compete for competition’s sake, no, no. I win, then I quit, it’s called knowing when to stop mate, it’s called fucking success! I moved on to the next of many activities and he played Need for Speed, or weed or some piece-of-crap racing game that I hate.
Sitting back I lit my limp cigarette, took a deep drag and exhaled, I felt free. It was nice to be the cause of so much pleasure once more, the drugs had all been placed in a bowl on the black glass table in the centre of the room, all had free supply and free reign. With great drugs comes great responsibility – choose your activities, your loves, your life – well.
The reason for the celebration, aside from it being a Christfest, was to commemorate a weekend 3 years previously when I had set myself free in every conceivable way; it was a very similar affair, the drugs were in abundance, only legal back then, great realisations were made and pleasure was Lord. Thanks be to him.
I remember on the third day of the party, the resurrection, I had stepped outdoors to survey the land and had found my own life wanting in comparison to the everyday man. I was a victim of my own career, faith and cowardice. It was the weekend that finally changed my life completely and forever. Praise be to me, amen.
The nicotine rush heightened my current sense of achievement, this was a symmetry that invoked much pleasure and satisfaction. I looked at my reflection with kind, excited, child-like eyes. I turned my head and saw myself for what I am.
“I love you mate, you’re my fucking hero”.
Noticing a change in light, I looked out to sea as the sun rose over Brighton beach, I remembered all the sunrises, the parties, daybreak liaisons, the endless drama and obsession. I had been reluctant to let go in fear of mediocrity. In letting go, however, I had got it all back, only this time I was wiser, more honest. The long exhausting winter was over; I declared spring.
As the morning progressed it was time to choose a lover, I was in need of some refined debauchery, the kind that only I had mastered. I hummed ‘Nobody Does it Better’ by Carly Simon as I took myself in-hand and lead myself off in to the horizon. Fade to white.
A year ‘out’, time really flies when you’re being de-constructed. It’s been a year since I trembled up to my parents house, gagging, to shatter the illusion and break free. A year used to feel so long and contain relatively little, this year has flown by and a lifetime’s worth of change has transpired.
The dust is finally settling, the world did not end by means of prophecy nor overdose; the future now looks appealing, life almost seems real. I feel things now, normal, everyday things. I’m glad to be present, experiencing life first-hand.
It’s not been smooth sailing, but what valuable journey is? Hushing the nagging whispers of self-loathing and disapproval is an on-going struggle, especially when feeling low.
“Why are you such a fucking idiot?”
Is not a measured response to me forgetting something unimportant.
“Why are you such a fat fucking pig?”
Is not how you should greet yourself in the morning.
I’ve learnt that it’s not the world, the parents, the job, the relationship that makes me unhappy – I do. Simple. In fact I go out of my way to make life as difficult as possible for myself, conveniently blaming it on others or circumstance. I could spend the rest of my life looking for excuses but the truth is that I am the only one who can ever make myself truly happy.
I decided to be consciously good to myself, not as easy as it sounds. The mind twists reality and projects the most unpalatable aspects of ourselves on others, that way we get to hate ourselves vicariously. How tedious. I had to wage war on myself, the problem was I knew all my own tactics.
Breakdown – Breakthrough.
Old persona’s die hard, and grudgingly. There are points during this past year that I have desperately missed myself, the old ‘straight’ façade, often convinced that life was easier from the periphery, my private box. But then I’d wake up and realise I miss it like an ex-con would miss prison, there’s just a lot more to navigate outside the closet.
Courage and bravery pave the way for lasting change, that and hard work. First you have to justify spending that much time on yourself, no one else will help in that regard, only you, the world doesn’t value intangible, unaccountable self-improvement and neither will many of your old friends. Sometimes you must be your own muse and master.
“Be a light unto yourself” the cards would tell me time after time, and it stayed with me. A solitary figure, alone but not lonely, a light guiding him from within. Along with the harsh lessons have been moments of joy I could only have dreamt of in the past.
I learnt to relax this year too, not realising that forcing myself to look relaxed is not quite the same, it did take a few severe anxiety attacks to come to this conclusion, but it was certainly worth it. It’s important to relax, even more important to have fun. So important feel alive and not just survive, to experience the present with no regret from the past or fear for the future.
This year was also marked by a strange belief that I was dying of many cancers, or liver failure or some kind of brain problem, I have been faced with mortality sans Christ. Challenging.
“I think I’m dying..”
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, I just feel like there are lots of things going wrong inside, like this metallic taste in my mouth that never goes away, this pain in my side and the unpredictable bowel movements, do you think it’s cancer? I think it’s some kind of cancer. Or weird brain problem? Cancer right?”
“Have you been searching for symptoms on the internet by any chance?”
“All roads lead to cancer on the internet..what’s been going on in your life generally?”
“Well..it has been a tough year..I came out to my really, really religious parents, I said goodbye to my old faith, a close relative died…”
“That sounds like a lot to deal with..”
“Do you think I have IBS? I think I have some kind of IBS..”
She prodded me and I pissed for her, she thanked me, rightly so.
“I think we need to test you for just about everything, if only to relieve your very troubled mind. We should also test for HIV…”
“What? AIDS? Is it the tongue? Fuck..”
“No, just standard when we know that a patient is gay, it’s not compulsory but advised..”
Six vials of crimson later, all I can do is wait. And wait.
“What she’s not back for 3 weeks? Can’t you just tell me? Please? Ok, FINE I’ll call back then (you useless bitch from hell)”
Worry. Insomnia. Panic. Anxiety disorder.
Turns out it was stress, of course the added worry of HIV to my already monumental number of life-threatening conditions and psychological damage from the past was a little too much and my brain finally caved in. For a couple of days I wondered if I’d ever come back, but I did, thankfully. I had reached my limit, God knows I’d pushed for it, not that he existed any more.
The physical signs of anxiety would start on my tongue, a creeping metallic pulse rendering my taste buds dormant, a tragedy for a food-obsessive . I would feel a pain on my right side, my brain was clouded but worst of all – no weed could get me stoned. My comfort blanket cruelly snatched away, what bastard illness takes away all of life’s pleasures?
Blood results were all fine, I found out after having a panic attack on the phone to yet another belligerent nurse, which was nice for my dignity. It was harder to accept that my own mind had been attacking me all along, well not attacking exactly, more like warning. You can only put yourself off for so long.
It was time to stop. I couldn’t make the decision for myself so my body forced me in to submission. It was time to regroup and rebuild and finally integrate. The past had to be let go of completely, it was now time for many difficult conversations, some that I had put-off for a lifetime.
First I had to be honest with myself, then I could finally be honest with others. I was forced to be honest as any postponement would result in an anxiety attack, my mind was training me to face up to everything as it happened, there was no more room on the back burner. It worked. The more direct and honest I became the less the attacks would come. I started to become a real person, with direct, immediate emotional responses and a healthy level of selfishness; no more people pleasing or misplaced affirmations. Self-affirmation, self-realisation, growth.
It was time to party, and I did, hard. Nothing like pure, adulterated hedonism to clear the cobwebs and invigorate the soul.
So here I am at the end of that first year, it’s been hard but I regret nothing, especially now that I’m cured of all my terminal delusions. Life is too short and wonderful to waste in a closet, besides, this is how we change the world, one exit at a time. It may be the most important thing that you do in your life, you can change the world, all that’s required is that you be yourself, your true self.
I know that much of this may appear to be negative or uncomfortable but it’s a story of real, lasting change, often the most important transitions are painful. My aim is this: to enter every situation as if it were the first time I had ever experienced it, no more echoes of the past or mirages of the future, to be child-like not childish, to be free yet secure, for lasting happiness, maybe even true love. I’ll fight as long as it takes, I’ll settle for nothing less.