|FANDOM: Queer As Folk
TITLE: In This Quiet Little Room (1/4)
PAIRING: Stuart Alan Jones / Vince Tyler
DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to Russell T. Davis / Red
Productions / Channel Four (except for the anonymous therapist which
belongs to himself alone...)
SPOILERS: A few for QAF#1
TIMELINE: Several months after QAF episode 1.1
IN THIS QUIET LITTLE ROOM
Stuart Alan Jones (a:30) First tape - transcript.
Mr. Jones was never going to be an easy patient, though I'm not one
to judge people by their first words on coming to see me. But I am
rather partial to judging them by their silences - in particular when
they last ten minutes out of 55 in a session. Must remember to order
new calendar. Silence broken at the eleventh minute.
"I'm not sure I want to be here."
"And why is that Mr. Jones?"
"You'll be wanting my dad... I'm Stuart"
"Tell me about your father."
"He's not very interesting. Didn't make me take part in satanic cults
you know? Never molested me, never beat my mum. Some other time, OK?"
"As you wish."
"You're not saying anything."
"What would you like me to say Stuart?"
"It's not like that, though, is it? Don't you have questions?"
"Why did you think of therapy? Why does it no longer seem the right
thing for you?"
"That's more like it! I don't suppose you'd want me to cut a long
"No, we're not into that sort of denial Stuart..."
"Denial Stuart. I like it. That could be me. My brand new name for my
brand new fucked up life!"
"What fucked it up? You?"
"No! ... Well... I was to blame for most of it yes, but I wasn't the
"Meaning there was one... Who?
"Vince. My partner. My friend... Vince."
"Yeah. I guess. That's part of it somehow."
"Part of why you are here?"
"How long have you known Vince?"
"All my life... At least, that's how it seems. Since we were about
fourteen... School mates, best friends... I don't remember him not
being there, you see?"
"Not being there or not being there for you?"
"Oh yes. He was always there for me. Or I wouldn't feel bad about the
way I treated him..."
"I see... In the past, you mean?"
"In the past I was blind. I wasn't sure he loved me. I was... I was a
"Why a female term?"
"Is there a male one? Let's say it's not gender-specific, OK? Or
maybe you can call me a male slut!"
"I'm not calling you anything, Stuart. Yet."
"Oooh I'm really impressed now..."
"Let's get back to Vince, shall we? So you treated him roughly in the
past? Roughly describes it, I take it?"
"Roughly is possibly understating things, but yes, it'll do for the
"The present... Yes. There's that. Now all that is behind you?"
"Being a slut and blind and not sure of his love for me... Oh yes,
all that is over. I'm still not treating him like I should, though -
like he deserves."
"Do you feel that perhaps he is too good for you? To good to you?"
"No 'perhaps' about it. He is! ..."
"And what was it exactly that made you think of coming to me?"
"What are you afraid of Stuart?"
"Dunno. Lots of things."
"And they all brought you here? All your fears? All at once you
decided it was time to handle them, face them, manage them?"
"Manage them, yes. No. Not all my fears. Most don't bother me enough
for me to bother about them..."
"Tell me about the ones that do bother you."
"Being alone forever."
"And the mirror one?"
"Being with a particular someone forever?"
"Yes. That, too."
"That most of all?"
"No. I don't think so. They're about equal... And they are plotting
to drive me mad!"
"Why do you say that?"
"Why do you only have questions for me?"
"Did you come here looking for some answers?"
"That is still a question..."
"Humour me. Did you?"
"I suppose so."
"I would do my best to give you some... But I'm not exactly certain I
understand what your questions are."
"OK, let's go back. You're good at questions, I'll give you that..."
"Thank you. So why did you say those two fears were driving you mad?"
"Well because they are. Vince is waiting for me to respond..."
"Vince is waiting for me to commit myself to our relationship. To
exchange vows. To go on honeymoon and live happily ever after! ..."
"And you don't find that a possibility, happiness?"
"Not forever, no."
"And commitment. Does it scare you? Does it appeal to you at all?"
"Of course it scares me. Of course it appeals to me. I'd love to be
able to believe Vince could be by my side forever..."
"Is it him you don't trust? Or is it you?"
"I don't trust life."
"That sounds all encompassing. Could you be more specific?"
"You bet! I'm afraid he'll die first and I won't be able to survive
without him but will anyway and live years and years in hell before
actually getting there."
"So you believe in hell on earth? How about after that?"
"Don't care. Don't know. Why? Do you?"
"Are you a Catholic Stuart?"
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Don't tempt me."
"If by Catholic you mean were you splashed over with water before you
could reason and were your parents subjected to the same than the
answer is yes. But that's not who I am or what I believe in. That's
just where I was born."
"I see. It's a geographic term, not a religious one... But do you
have religious beliefs?"
"No. I don't... Not articulate ones, no... And I'm not trying to
avoid anything I just happen to think this is not a helpful approach."
"Fine. How are things between you and Vince? Sexually, I mean."
"That's very succinct. Would you care to elaborate?"
"What do you want to know? Positions we use? Lots. Am I passive or
active? We're both very versatile... Is the sex getting boring? No,
we're too imaginative and too much in love for that to happen. Get
the picture? Need details?"
"No. I get the picture. Will it always be like that, do you think?"
"I expect I'll be changing with the years. We both will. You can't be
passionate all your life can you? At least passionately in love with
someone all your life..."
"You don't believe that to be possible."
"It's not a question of believing or not. I don't think it is
"Do you consider yourself to be always very rational?"
"Sorry. No, not at all. I don't know what's come over me today..."
Time is over.
"I'll look forward to our next session Stuart."
"Is this my cue to exit?"
"I'm afraid so."
"Don't take it too hard. At least I got to ask you something and
actually get a proper answer..."
"Not all questions are that simple. They don't all have proper
answers. Goodbye Stuart."
"I know. Goodbye."
Stuart Alan Jones (a:30) Second tape - transcript.
"Did you have a nice weekend?"
"I don't do nice, doc. Can I call you doc?"
"As in Bugs Bunny?"
"As in 'The Shining'. "
"Better call me by my name then..."
"See? You do have a sense of humour. I knew it... I'll decide what to
call you later on..."
"You seem very cheerful today."
"Cheerful? Yes, I suppose cheerful about covers it..."
"So tell me about your weekend."
"This is so... bizarre. Don't you sometimes get hit by how bizarre
this whole notion is?"
"Therapy? Yes. I often think that... But don't tell."
"I won't. You know, it just occurred to me that you're probably only
adjusting your mask to fit my mood... Is that it? Because it doesn't
"If I was doing that it was not a conscious process. Aren't you going
to tell me why you seem so happy?"
" 'Seem' is good. 'Happy' ? Not so much."
"Content? Resigned? Touched?"
"Touched. Definitely touched. Touched by Vince."
"Very amusing, doc..."
"Well, did it?"
"Let's just say it is temporarily off-stage."
"Does it feel good?"
"It feels... restful."
"And what brought about this momentous change?"
"I love it when you talk dirty to me doc!"
"Sorry. I'll try. But try to loosen up a bit."
"You object to my terminology?"
"Yes. And to your tie."
"Fine. Removing tie now."
"That's much better. Now I can tell you all about my father, I seem
to remember you showed some interest in him, as all you guys do...
But maybe you forgot."
"Good! Let's do this then. Shoot."
"Describe your relationship with him. General outline sort of thing,
we'll get to the juicy bits later - if there are any, that is..."
"Good adjustment, cool mask. Thanks. Now let me see... a general
outline. I'd say we get along pretty well, considering he doesn't
know I'm gay."
"Meaning you haven't discussed your sexuality with him?"
"Meaning he doesn't know! I'm sure he doesn't."
"Very well. Go on."
"Ask me something then."
"I don't feel like it."
"You heard me. I don't think you're ready to discuss your parents
yet, so I won't pursue that path."
"I see. What will you pursue then?"
"The reasons for your earlier cheerfulness. I presume there were
"Oh, fine. As you please. Yes there were reasons. I got engaged this
"Anyone I know?"
"Funny. You kill me. Vince."
"Engaged... That's a commitment, isn't it? A big one I should say."
"You mean you should think. Think, not say. And I agree that it is a
good advice to you in general."
"Thinking before I say something?"
"I'll try. Who took the initiative?"
"Vince, of course. But it was in such a sweet, romantic way that all
my fears just..."
"I'm beginning to like you... Isn't that also typical?"
"Yes. And I'm supposed to let you like me / hate me / whatever, you
know? Because hate usually follows. If we do this right..."
"I'll look out for the first danger signs. I'm a mean bastard even to
people I love, imagine what I might do to you if I came to hate
"I don't believe you are a mean bastard to those you love. And I'm
positive you wouldn't do anything too terrible to someone you
"You presume to know me better than I do myself?"
"I do. Part of the job description, I'm afraid: be conceited, smug
and all-knowing all the time..."
"OK, I'll believe your version of how I act. Sounds much better than
"Don't turn this into a case of low self-esteem Stuart. Because it
"You're right, of course - but how can you tell? You've spent just
little over an hour with me... One and a half sessions. How can you
tell? Do I exude self-confidence?"
"Something like that, yes. I'm not about to reveal professional
"It's not scientific then? Intuition?"
"It's not 100% scientific, no... About your engagement?"
"Oh! Right. Beautiful ring. Look!"
"It's very beautiful. Do you think of yourself as being very
"I do. These last few months, anyway."
"And before that?"
"Promiscuous, remember? Not much romance in that. No time."
"Didn't you romanticise your friendships?"
"Vince? I never thought of it like that... I guess I did. A bit."
"And you knew he loved you? And that you loved him?"
"Yes, but not love as in... I don't know. It just wasn't sexual at
all. Come to think of it I'm not even sure it was a romantic kind of
"Not even a bit, as you said?"
"A bit, maybe... But it was a different love."
"Not so deep?"
"I don't mean that. It was... Chaste. Pure. Unsoiled..."
"Yes... You're very good at this, you know? Virginal..."
"So what 'soiled' it? What tainted it? Sex?"
"I'm not sure it was the sex thing. Might just as easily have been
something else. But it doesn't... It's buried. Doesn't come to the
surface... So that probably means it was the sex thing..."
"Not necessarily. Sometimes you just have to give it... Well, time, I
"But what about Vince? Was his love for you also like that?"
"I think so. But that had a lot to do with the fact that he had such
a low self-esteem. He didn't think I could possibly love him - except
as a friend. So he made do with that. But he loved me much more...
"I expect so, yes."
"But you can't be certain?"
"I think he loved me sexually but not as I would have... A gentler
love. That's Vince. Sweetest person I ever met."
"And now? The two of you have similar sex-drives?"
"Now is now. We have, yes. But there's no comparison with... with
"Yet you say you are a very romantic guy now. Unlike...before?"
"I don't have to be coherent or consistent, do I?
"It rather depends on what those words mean to you?"
"Don't they mean the same to everyone?"
"No. Humpty-Dumpty was quite right, you see? A word means what you
want it to mean..."
"Is that the best you can come up with in quotations? Lewis Carroll?
"Let's say I'm picking my lines to fit my audience..."
Laughter. On both sides.
"I deserved that..."
"You did. So, you weren't romantic before? Or you were and aren't
being consistent or coherent - and what does that mean to you?"
"God I hate Words!"
"Lovely explosion. I could hear a capital 'w' in there..."
"Could you? I'm that transparent am I? I'm shattered..."
"You know, we're running out of time for today."
"Are we? Didn't seem we would be... I hardly said anything at all. Or
"You said... something. But you managed to avoid saying much about
why and how the engagement lightened your mood..."
"That's a relief. Wouldn't want to run out of subjects, as well. See
"See you Stuart..."
Stuart Alan Jones (a:30) Third tape - transcript.
"You're late Stuart."
"You're lucky I bothered!"
"To show up? It would have been only a minor inconvenience..."
"Putting me in my place, I take it? OK..."
"Were you thinking of missing just one session?"
"Of course not. You know me - I never do things by halves... I would
never have graced your premises again. Never sailed past the crossbar
of your door."
"If you prefer. I don't go in for thresholds."
"No. There are many things you don't go in for."
"Say something you fucker! What are you being paid for?"
"I'm sorry doc... I haven't been well..."
"One of your little tricks, is it? You can't possibly infer that from
"Well either you had trouble sleeping or you over indulged on the
makeup. Especially the blue pencil rings under your eyes... And are
those little wrinkles applied?"
"I'm smiling now, OK? So let's cut the crap. Yes I haven't slept at
all these last two nights."
"Now why would you want to introduce Vince at this point?"
"The engagement is off..."
"The engagement you never really told me about... I see."
"You're right. How could you see? I haven't given you much to work
on, have I?"
"It depends on how much work you want me to do."
"I find all this very tiring..."
"Therapy? My person?"
"No. The language. We seem to be always circling the issues with
words so as not to dive into them!"
"Do you have any suggestions on how we might achieve that?"
"I'm very tired... Mind if I just babble?"
"Oh yes, Babylon. 'That was the life that was'... "
"Never mind... I was just getting started on the babbling bit."
"Vince moved out this Saturday morning. That's when... It's since
then I haven't slept. We didn't even have a proper row. He never
would, I guess. But he looked so hurt... God! He looked so hurt! ..."
Sob (one). Tears (streaming). Pause.
"I should go back, shouldn't I? To how it was that I accepted
his 'proposal' in the first place, right? But I can't. It's all
blurred. It'll come to me, I know - but all I can think of now is why
"So it wasn't just a matter of breaking up the engagement? You are
actually... hmmm... separated?
"Well, I broke the engagement. Vince broke up with me... And left. He
"Haven't you talked with him since then?"
"I've tried... He doesn't want to. He won't let me into his house, he
won't take my calls. He says I've spoiled it all for both of us and
don't even realise it... That was the last thing he said to me on
"And have you?"
"Realised it? I'm beginning to..."
"I mean have you ruined both your chances or both your lives?"
"Because no one stopped me! I was afraid and no one stopped me being
afraid. You didn't teach me how to handle fear! So I couldn't manage
it and it came and it leapt at Vince and hurt him so badly and I
could watch myself doing it but didn't know how to stop!... I didn't
know how to stop..."
Sobs. Violent convulsions.
"I'm sorry to hear that Stuart. I am. Do you feel I can still be of
any help to you? Or to Vince for that matter?"
"I don't know... I... Maybe I'll think of something. Some way to go
"Going back is not always an option. In fact it hardly ever is."
"Can you at least make an effort and try to tell me why you called
the engagement off?"
"Lovely way of putting it, doc. Makes it sound as if I was in
"Well weren't you?"
"On the surface you might think so, yes."
"So tell me how it came about."
"I can't put the words together. I can't present the story to you
neatly wrapped up, you know?..."
"I'm not asking you to do that..."
"I can only think of... Fear. Fear is the only explanation."
"I think I might be able to understand that a little better if you
could tell me how you overcame that fear before... You said Vince
proposed to you in such away that your fears were temporarily... 'off-
stage', I believe you said. Why was that?"
"Maybe because he made me feel... so loved. Needed."
"Hadn't he before?"
"Not in so many words, no."
"I thought you found words inadequate."
"Not when Vince speaks them to me. Not his words, never. He told me
all through the years he felt his life was incomplete, lacking
something - he believed that something was love for someone... But
now he said he knew it was me. I made him complete now that we were
together... I was the part missing from his life since the very
beginning... I'm not putting it so well as he did. I just... I had
never felt so... complete, in fact... And I told him so. And it felt
good and warm and everlasting. Unbreakable. Impossible to destroy, or
poison or corrupt. So when he said it would mean the world to him if
we could put all these feelings into words - words of our own, you
see, no one else's - I agreed and I felt that he was speaking for me,
as well. It felt as if we had always been halves. Unhappy halves. And
now we'd be one forever but still ourselves... Not making any sense
"On the contrary. I'm very... honoured that you trusted me enough to
share this much because I think it is very personal and very
beautiful. And gives me a very helpful insight, too..."
"You're not supposed to say it's beautiful, are you? But I'm...
grateful you said it... So, do you think you can help me?"
"I believe we can work out a way. A way back into that feeling of
warmth and togetherness."
Time over minutes before.
"A way back into Vince's life? Forever?"
"I think I prefer 'for good'... I'm sorry we ran out of time again. A
few minutes ago, in fact."
"I like that quote much better. We're progressing from Lewis Carroll
to James Hilton... From looking-glass world to Shangri-La. I can
hardly wait for your Proust to come pouring out... I'll be seeing you
"I'll count on it."
Going Back - Saturday Last
"Why are you being like this?" - Vince simply could not understand
the change in Stuart. Like some cornered animal he was fighting in a
blind panic. And all the blows were words and every word was aimed at
"Because I am sick of you! I am sick of all this! We should never
have... It was wrong, all wrong!"
"You don't mean that... You're just, well, insecure..."
"Don't tell me I don't mean it you bastard! I mean every... abuse I
hurl at you, you sad, sad creature. I despise what you stand for!
Conventions. Commitments! How did you ever manage to trap me you
Vince could not believe that all this rage was triggered on just by
fear. Stuart had said he didn't felt comfortable about the
engagement. Then it escalated into not wanting any ceremony, any
exchanging of vows... Vince had said that if it was going to be like
that he wanted nothing more to do with him. What he wished he had
said was the truth - that he needed time to rethink their
relationship and only then make any decision. Now he wished he had
said nothing at all and let the whole issue blow over, hoping that
Stuart was only getting cold feet and all that would go away if given
enough time. But he had precipitated things. He saw that now, but it
was too late to be anything but proud and desperate and hurt.
"I never... 'trapped' you Stuart. I'm sorry you didn't tell me before
how much you hated the idea and how much you despised me... But I'm
glad you said it in time for me to leave."
Stuart stopped yelling at him. And then a series of "Get out!"
and "Bugger off" accompanied Vince's exit. At the door Vince stopped
and turned to Stuart. He wasn't crying. But he was pale. Deadly pale.
"You probably spoiled this for us. Life, you know? Love. And it won't
be long before you see it."
Then he was out. Stuart sat on the floor and screamed. This time in
genuine agony. The agony of irreparable damage inflicted. The agony
Going Back - The Previous Saturday
They were in bed. After noisy sex and noisy orgasms Vince had fallen
asleep. Stuart looked at his beautiful companion and felt blessed.
Love and Sex and Friendship - they were the real Holy Trinity. They
were the only religious feelings he had ever harboured and it was
He reflected on the day's events. Vince's proposal, Vince's
declaration of Love. He wanted to capitalise Love forever. He wanted
to feel this high that didn't go away. It had kicked in violently,
but it would not slip away. He was certain of that.
He wanted to write poems about Vince and paint them on every wall of
every street in town. He wanted to compose love songs. Corny ones,
hopelessly gauche ones. And sing them in public places so that
everyone would know. He wanted to rename the stars, the
constellations. Vince was the Universe. There would be no more dying
and no more being afraid. He wanted to cover his lover's body in
kisses and dreamed that each kiss turned into one exquisite flower
after another - and the flowers would never wither away...
He wanted to adore his newly found deities. Deliver himself in their
hands. Consecrate all his being to Love, Sex and Friendship. Let his
body be their temple.
THE LABOURS OF LOVE
Stuart had been miserable all week. Mondays meant therapy, however -
and he brightened at the thought of being helped. It was short-lived,
though. His brow clouded over in no time. But all the same, it was
significant that this formerly self-sufficient Stuart had changed
into a Stuart that recognised the possibility of outside help - even
if he had yet to taste its fruits.
His self-sufficiency had only been skin-deep. But that was only
obvious to himself now, and at the time probably not to anyone.
Unless Vince had guessed it. He might have. Vince. Nine days since he
had gone, This was the ninth morning after Vince and sleep was still
something Stuart could only induce artificially...
He had spent this last week trying various stratagems to get near
enough to Vince to be able to... apologise, he supposed. Though the
word didn't even begin to describe all the depth of his feelings. The
word. Again that nasty impossibility to convey things by telepathy.
Maybe Vince had never been 'one' with him. If they had been, surely
they would have found some way of communicating that went well beyond
these useless inventions. Or maybe not. He couldn't be certain about
things anymore. Things in general, all things, even the very tiniest
The session brought nothing new. He had avoided certain issues,
disguised a few answers and his host had probably seen the lies and
tried to guess beyond them - unsuccessfully. It was leading nowhere.
Back home he made yet another attempt to reach Vince. He managed to
get Hazel to tell him Vince was going there for dinner. He did not
receive an invitation. He did not get words of encouragement. Hazel
was polite - but no more. Stuart hung up, bit his lip until he drew
blood and decided to go there and who gave a fuck anyway...
"Hazel you told me yourself he'd be coming. I know he's here."
"And I'm telling you he's not. So kindly sod off, will you?"
"Hazel, please... Look, I really need to talk with him."
"Think that'll do any good to Vince?"
"I don't know... But I can't leave things as they are, can I?"
"Can you not? And how exactly are things Stuart?"
There was an uneasy silence. Stuart wasn't too clear about how things
were himself... Hazel was in no mood to wait.
"I'm asking you nicely - fuck off! Never come back here! Do us a
favour and go hang yourself!"
Taken aback but not defeated Stuart tried to effect some sort of
forced entrance. He knew Vince was there only too well. Hazel called
out for Bernie and the two of them secured Stuart and dragged him to
his jeep, all the time indicating in colourful vocabulary what they
thought of him as a human being. Stuart kept shouting Vince's name
and struggling to break free. This whole scene came suddenly to a
"Let him in!"
Vince was standing in the doorway. He looked worn out. Older, much
older. Hazel and Bernie let go of Stuart - reluctantly. Vince
motioned Stuart upstairs. They were in Bernie's room, Vince's old
room. Vince locked the door behind them.
Stuart was still panting. He sat down on the bed and tried to find a
way to let love speak for itself. Vince was having none of that. He
craved for words.
"Did I say you could sit on my bed? Did I?"
Stuart looked more attentively. Vince was not well. He was trembling,
he seemed to have developed a kind of twitch underneath his left eye
and he kept fumbling about with his hands. Stuart got up in a
murmured "I'm sorry" and began.
"I think we need to talk... don't you?"
It wasn't supposed to be happening like this. Vince was supposed to
respond with something like an overture to this attempt to reach out.
He obviously wasn't going to. Change of plan.
"What do you feel for me Vince? Do you hate me? Despise me?"
An answer was forthcoming. But not the right answer.
"Have I... I know you can't forgive what I said, those..."
"Nothing to forgive. I don't remember much. I don't believe I even
remember you very well..."
That was a nasty one. Stuart recoiled.
"Vince, I am so sorry. I... I just panicked. Can you at least see
"Don't matter. Makes no difference."
"Yes? Was this all you wanted to say? If it was I think you'd better
go now. I'm a bit tired and all."
Stuart believed that last statement - impossible not to, really, as
it was so visibly true. Vince was still trembling something awful and
sat down on a chair besides the door.
"Go away Stuart. Just go..."
"Don't be like this, please. Do something! Tell me how mad at me you
are! Go crazy on me, beat me up, call me names, say you feel
something for me..."
Stuart had come closer to Vince and had fallen on his knees. His
hands were holding Vince's, trying to soothe him, trying to make
amends... Stuart laid down his head on Vince's lap and kissed his
hands and tried not to cry...
"Don't... Stuart, don't..."
But the barrier had broken down. Words got in the way terribly.
Stuart only said "Please" in such a way that it needed no more. Vince
was ready for a relapse. Ready to fall back in love all over again.
He stroked Stuart's curly hair and then raised his head and kissed
"I love you...bastard..."
Tears were followed by laughter and furious love making and something
akin to reconciliation. Wounds heal, don't they?
Well, don't they?
There was a good deal of explaining to be done. Hazel and Bernie took
things at face value. Vince seemed happier, But caution was now
Hazel's motto in her future dealings with Stuart.
Therapy was abruptly terminated by a phone call from Stuart. No
Stuart moved in with Vince this time. Starting from scratch.
Engagement rings firmly on their fingers - and much might have been
made of the fact that neither of them had even considered for one
second throughout their miserable time apart the possibility of
A MISCARRIAGE OF TRUST
The new life that Stuart and Vince had set out to build needed very
solid foundations indeed. They had got it almost fatally wrong last
time. Neither was willing to chance such a thing ever happening again.
Now he is to be cherished as I never cherished him before. I love the
way the morning sun breaks in and dances on our bed. His face is like
a child's and I don't want to be any place else in the world. I
remember when we were sixteen and he came to spend a week at my
grandmother's house. A whole week in Ireland with me with nothing to
do and everything could have been said there but I was so unworthy
and still am.
He is waking now. I always like to kiss him at this moment so that I
am in the very first conscious moment of his mornings as I pray I am
in the very last of his dreams. Why would I say pray? I keep
borrowing symbols and words when I should concern myself with
preventing fires from burning themselves out.
We're having coffee now. His skin still glistening. He has finished
his coffee and stands beside me. He touches my hair and I catch his
hand but it slips away and he goes off to work and so should I and I
will very soon but now I am his alone and I can't think of where I'd
be if he never walked through that door again.
Love should preserve us. Young, ageless, something. But I feel the
years weighing me down, time falling down on me like Spring showers.
I hate being old and yet I am sinking once again into a happy
numbness that whispers things will always be right.
I used to drive much faster than this. Wild days, wild one. Pretence.
Cunt. I used to drive much slower. Meat market. This night's menu.
Vulture. Cunt. Now I am reasonable and my driving is reasonable and I
get to the office in time and all their mockery has long since died.
They think I'm a grown-up now. I think they're probably right but why
should that be so humourless at times?
I can't figure out what the client wants. I keep remembering Richard
E. Grant promoting boils to promote anti-boil things. I keep
remembering Dawn French working in a stupid office like mine
going "It's happened again! It suddenly hit me how trivial this is!
There's no meaning in it. Nothing..." and someone no doubt told her
to "chill out, woman!" Well, chill out yourself old man! Clients like
this will come and go and I'll still be here doing my trivial, empty
thing that I'm good at ages and ages hence. Oh yes, my roads diverged
once upon a time. But I cowardly took the one most travelled by and I
suppose there's nothing to be made of that except crying alone in
empty beds before Vince walked in so smoothly and so definitely. I
can't risk losing him. It's a huge account and the agency won't stand
for it. Let me try to listen to what he's saying and pretend it makes
I could tell myself the old lies. They're still currency among
management. I'm supposed to be management. At least it's an essential
thing to be peddling. People must eat. Clean themselves. Their homes.
Look after their pets and possibly their babies. If only it would
stop at that. But it never does. Marcia was a good soul. I've come to
like these victorian expressions. Uncharacteristic of me? No... Not
if you think about it. And I do, though not as I used to. I worried
myself sick over little nothings. I didn't go to her funeral, though.
I never could. Every exception I ever made turned against me in some
way at some point. I am wiser than that now.
I should be thinking of what Stuart said on the phone right now. He
calls me twice a day to say he loves me. He shouldn't. Makes me feel
bad that I don't have a similar need. Guilty that maybe I don't love
him all that much. Furious at myself that I might be taking him for
granted and why the hell shouldn't I if that's what he appears to be
demanding of me?... What was that again? Taking him for granted?
Never! I am wiser than that now.
If only they could see themselves as I see them. Perfectly simple.
Transparently easy. Easy to mend when it breaks. Easy to break once
it is mended. Nothing in it. Nothing to it. Nothing... Nothing...
ACT TWO - SYNCHRONISED
Should I be worried? Should I let him get away with a last minute
message to say he got stuck at... work, was it? I forget. I'll pour
myself some whiskey. I'd lost the habit. But it's a good thing to
have about. Like robots going around in circles. He has the remote,
he has control. And he can send me spinning and he can make me drink
and he is not coming home until God knows when. Vince. Vince who
loves me so much and that should be all life's answers rolled into
one but life keeps thinking up new questions everyday.
Everyday questions are the worst. When will I learn to relax? At what
time will he come home? Will he be too tired for sex? Routine
interrogation I put myself under. My place is before my judges and I
Not done this in ages. Not done this ever that I can recall. I'm
having dinner with some handsome stranger and it feels good to live
in peace and sometimes I wish I hadn't gone in so deep.
What about Stuart? Stuart can wait. He must. I left him no choice.
Poor Stuart who I've loved all my life and now I don't know what's
wrong only that something is. Stuart who loves me with passionate
despair and I don't want to be loved like that... No. That's not
true. I want him to be desperately in love with me though I only met
him today and this is our very first date together but he'll partake
of this bread and of this wine and we'll be in bed in no time
And Stuart? Stuart who keeps bending to my every wish faster than I
can formulate them. Stuart who is kind and gentle to me and I don't
want him to because I love him so much more than this. This stranger.
This table. This is my soul, my body, my ritual deliverance. I am
delivered into his hands. Unfamiliar hands. Stuart who I abuse and
can't live without me. Stuart who I hate because he should be here in
this bed and not him...
He never said a word. Dawn was breaking and I didn't sleep and he
knew it full well and did not say a word... I had every right to be
angry and ask questions, But I was afraid to wind him up only to
watch him go - so I let him lie beside me and touch my face as if he
was still pure and I was still forgiving.
But something rotten crept under our skins last night. Today. And the
rot will spread and then what will I do?
He's calling me to coffee. Is coffee going to help us?
He can't look at me properly and that makes me wonder if I should
feel ashamed. Because I don't. Nor guilty. He won't have coffee. He
thinks I've poisoned it no doubt but I would never do that. Still, I
suppose I have poisoned it in a way. And coffee I might know what to
do with. Not this. Not betrayal. Huge words. Stuart's words as they
pour out of his beautiful mouth and fall on the floor. Wankers. Every
single one of them. I will get up and leave now if you don't mind and
let you reconsider your harshness.
And I do get up and leave. And poor Stuart is on his hands and knees
trying to swallow back all his angry words, his huge words. Betrayal.
I could put us both out of this misery. I call all the shots now,
don't I? The shots. The words. The stranger's smell is still with me.
And I feel no need of forgiveness and have no use for regrets.
He left, he really left. And he was hurt and I was hurt though I
ached for us both and he didn't care a toss for my pain. Where is my
sweet lover, my sweet friend, my Vince? Was he ever mine? Only before
I wanted him to be. Wrong one. Treacherous road, this one I've chosen.
I won't go to work. I'll call in sick. Which I am.
No heart. He has no heart at all. Just his own agenda and I'm not
sure I'm part of it any longer...
I'll crawl and beg and plead. I've learned to late in life and I
can't unlearn it now. Maybe it'll work. It usually does.
The house was enveloped in silence. Mist had began gathering at early
evening and now hang in threads, like candyfloss tracing erratic
patterns in the dying light.
Within the silence remained unbroken. Stuart and his thoughts
inhabited the closing of another day - inaudible, unuttered.
Vince took his time that evening. He didn't even go straight home
from work. He didn't bother to call. He was too busy. Indulging in
self-pity on account of all the deeds that tarnish the neat images
we've had of ourselves... There was no way to neatly sneak back to
the conjugal bed this time. Not that the guy from the other night
mattered. He was already a shadow, a vacant something with only the
power to haunt - no longer to hurt or entice. But he reflected on
their love and their love looked... not so good. Vince was at
something of a loss to understand Stuart's non-reaction, much as he
was puzzled as to his own behaviour. Was this what it felt like to
kick your lover and keep him down? If it was, Vince was terrified.
Because he had enjoyed it. Enjoyed every single moment of it.
The streetlights had an unfamiliar glow in the fog, like secondary
characters in cheap horror movies. As he parked his car Vince knew he
could still save their relationship, but it would emerge as something
very different... The quality of mercy was not with him. But a
pleasant excitement made his pulse race.
"Where've you been?" was delivered in as neutral a tone as Stuart
could muster "Why didn't you call?"
Vince donned his new role. It felt smooth.
"I wanted to give you as much time as possible to think about your
"Yes Stuart, your actions. Such as that little scene this morning...
What was that in aid of?" his voice was raised - not in anger, much
too cold for that
"I... I guess I got jealous... I had no reason to be... I'm sorry."
Humbled? Yes. Not humbled enough, though.
"You're too fuckin' right! There was no reason to be jealous. I can
spend the night with whomever I see fit. Doesn't mean I'm not coming
Stuart was stunned.
"You really were with someone then? You bastard! Who was he? What the
fuck were you thinking?"
It was the right reaction to display before Vince - if only it had
come earlier. Now it also played right into Vince's hands but in a
very different way. He walked across the room, and with the raw
strength that iciness brings he kicked Stuart. He aimed at the
genitals and got them. Stuart grabbed himself bent in half with pain
and surprise. Vince kicked him again. Stuart fell on his knees. Vince
continued. Stuart was too much in shock to speak coherently, he only
emitted shrill cries of pain. Gradually they turned into words.
"Stop it! Stop! Please! What are you doing?"
"You heard me!"
Vince punched him before he could get up. Than he caught his arm and
twisted it. Stuart's sharp cry of agony was like sweet music. He
still wasn't playing the game right as good boys must...
"You're out of your mind!" was the last thing Stuart managed to get
out before Vince knocked him out with another hit below the belt.
Before Stuart could regain conscience Vince undressed him carried him
to bed and made good use of all the nice new toys he had bought
before coming home... Handcuffs to restrain his hands, nice heavy
chains on his ankles. Heavy metal bar in between forcing his legs
apart, spreading him open wide. He hesitated and decided not to be
too hard on the nipples just yet... He taped Stuart's mouth and stood
back in adoring contemplation. Oh yes, this would be fun...
"Time to wake up!" Vince was pouring melted wax on strategic places
all over Stuart's beautiful body.
Stuart came to himself. Terror in his eyes as he realised he couldn't
free himself. Pain. His cries were muffled until Vince removed the
tape and stopped pouring wax over his lover.
"I said time to wake up! There's a set of new rules we must agree
upon if this relationship of ours is to work."
"What... are you doing? Let me go!" Stuart was still only half-aware
of his condition.
"First rule: you don't speak until you're spoken to, got it?" Vince
let another drop of wax fall over Stuart's chest. "Got it?"
Stuart yelled his pain out loud. No good.
"Good! Second rule: you will address me as Sir. Understood?"
Stuart's cock raised its head in approval before Stuart's brain could
"Very wise of you. If you keep behaving like an obedient little boy I
might release you for the night... Now let's try on this present I
bought just for you..."
Out came a collar and a leash. Far too large for any dog... And by
this time Stuart was under no illusion...
The collar was a perfect fit. Vince released Stuart and walked him
around the house, occasionally kicking him to remind him of his new
place in the scheme of things. After na hour of this they were back
in the room. Vince's brand new cat o'nine tails couldn't go unused.
He flogged Stuart with it until his back and his ass and his legs
were bright red. Stuart had kept quiet as promised. He knew it would
be much worse for him if he didn't. By the time Vince finished Stuart
had slipped to the floor...
"Now I'm going to remove your collar for the night. And you're free
to do as you please. You can run away, if you want to... If you don't
you can expect more of the same tomorrow as soon as we both come from
work. I'll drop you there and pick you up. No point in taking
chances, right? And I promise our weekends will be even funnier. Do
you understand all I'm saying?"
"Good, And will you stay or leave?"
"I'll stay... Sir."
Vince removed the collar and helped Stuart to get up. He took him by
the hand to the living room and they sat side by side on the couch.
Stuart began sobbing. Vince held his naked body and kissed the
redness on his back, and peeled off the wax and soothed him by
licking his every wound. Then he kissed his lips, his eyelids, his
hands, and let him cry on his lap. Stuart wept for ages. He was still
weeping when Vince fucked him that night.
By the following morning Stuart had been thoroughly broken down.
Vince made him use a cock ring and he attempted to protest. But the
will had left him... He was tired and in love. Too much in love.
Vince dropped him off at work. Stuart was trying not to show the pain
he felt all over his abused body and the humiliation... He probably
"It's good to see you back Stuart. But I am rather puzzled..."
"You mean what brought me back?... I have been having these dreams,
"I guess you could call them that, yes."
"I don't like you, doc!... OK, Vince is in them, yes. But it's the
things I let him do to me that have me worried..."
"What sort of things"
"He... He enjoys humiliating me, hurting me... He derives great...
pleasure from it."
"Have you discussed this with him at all?"
"No... But he can see I've not been sleeping well. He worries... I
can see he does. He's really very loving that makes it all the more
difficult to understand..."
"Has he ever indicated any liking for...?"
"No! Of course not! He's not like that, I tell you!..."
"How about you? Have you ever fantasised about it?"
"Well, maybe a long time back... But not with Vince, not this degree
"And were you...submissive in these fantasies?"
"I was a teenager!"
"Is that your answer?"
"No. I wasn't submissive, I was always the Master... But the point is
I never actually did anything!"
"So what do you think triggered these dreams of yours?"
"I was hoping you could help me with that one... I really don't know.
It came out of the blue, I mean it's not me - and it certainly isn't
"Why were you unable to talk about this with Vince?"
"You don't mince your words now doc... I don't know that I was unable
to do it..."
"But you certainly didn't do it."
"I certainly didn't."
Extremely long pause.
"You'd let me stay here and not say another word, wouldn't you? You'd
actually let the hour end and see me go out and not say a fuckin'
word, wouldn't you?"
"There is nothing I can say. You're still holding back too much.
Probably it wasn't a good idea for you to interrupt these sessions..."
"You think? Well I know it was no fuckin' good coming back..."
Gets up. Heads for door.
"Will I see you around here again Stuart?"
"Sure. If I'm desperate, sure..."
"You look desperate now..."
"Not that desperate."
He had another one of his ghastly dreams last night. Nightmares. And
I could swear I'm in every one of them and being horrible to him in
some way... He doesn't say... He never says anything. And eventually
he lets me hold him and falls asleep in my arms so gently... But
before he lets me touch him there's always that hesitant tensing up
of his body. Those beautiful eyes seem to avoid looking at me
properly. He is always so tired in the morning. Helpless. Like a
child scared of the monsters in the dark... And I want to kill the
monsters and turn on every light so that he can feel safe. But I have
nothing to go on. He never tells me anything and I'm afraid of
asking. I'm afraid of knowing what terrible things I'm doing to him
in those dreams... I'm afraid he'll stop loving me and I need his
love so badly... Why won't you trust me Stuart? I want to slay all
the monsters... even if one of them is me... Let me love you Stuart,
I wake up. There are no chains. No blood. No pain. Only sweat- Cold.
Hot. I shiver. He's by my side. Must have woken to my screams - I'm
sure I screamed. My throat is so dry... He's reaching out his hands
to me... No! Please, no more pain! Don't hurt me Vince! Please! His
hands caress my face. He kisses my forehead. Promises everything is
fine and it was just a bad dream... I let him hold me and I fall
asleep against the warmth of his body... the warmth of his soul... My
loving, sweet, gentle Vince... And I can't help the tears because he
is so good to me and I must be going wrong in the head and all these
nights are wearing us both down. I don't want to drag him down. He's
strong. I want him to survive this slow erosion of my mind. But he
won't let me, he's always there for me - and I haven't got the
strength to even try to push him away because I am so tired and I
need him so much... Vince... Help us...
I try not to be angry with him... But I had to ask him and I did. No
good. He throws a tantrum, then he implores me not to ask anymore
then he goes crazy on me and accuses me of being... dirty and evil
and of wanting to destroy him... He says he hates me and even though
I can see he doesn't mean that it still hurts...
Later he begs me to forgive him. I'm still hurt so I take more than a
minute... It's enough to send him into a panic of tears and terror
and pleas of help. I reassure him, I try to calm him down but he's in
such a state... God, what's happening to my Stuart?...
"I wasn't at all certain you'd be coming back... I'm afraid I was
inconsiderate last week. I am sorry."
"It's okay. You're only human, right?"
"So, does this mean you're desperate? Still having those
"Yes. To both questions..."
"Still not talking to Vince on this matter?..."
"Sort of... He finally asked, you know? Can't say I blame him, I was
keeping us both from sleeping for most of the night. Every night..."
"I take it you weren't completely open with him..."
"Open? How could I? Open... I jumped on him and called him names and
then regretted it the next moment... He was even more confused. I'm
so scared of losing me. You must help me! Please... Help me!"
"Shhh... Calm down... I'll do my best to help you. I promise."
"Do you always... keep your promises doc?
"I never promise things I can't deliver or don't intend to.
"Yes. You're doing just fine on my book..."
"I'm glad you can still smile. Much better."
"Making a pass at me, doc? I'm spoken for, you know? Mad and all he
loves me... He still does, anyway..."
"Try not to upset yourself with the future. It may sound impossible
but please give it a try. Your best effort. Vince is not going
"You sound as if you know him better than I do."
"I know him through you. You don't give yourself enough credit,
that's all... You know him much better than you probably think you
"Could be, I suppose."
"Are the dreams changing in any way? Changing at all? Or their
"They seem to last longer, but in real time they're the same. The
contents haven't changed much, except that Vince tends to abuse me
verbally more than before."
"Does that mean less physical abuse?"
"No... He... He uses me as a toy. He lets other men pay him to use
me. He doesn't seem to care, in fact he seems to be enjoying himself
all the time. He makes me go out on the streets looking for men.
Sometimes looking for women. He makes me... He makes me have sex with
them, too. Then all those I picked up on the streets go away and he
begins punishing me for being such a dirty slut..."
"He refers to you using the word you once used to describe your
sexual behaviour before you entered a relationship with Vince..."
"So he's really me...? I thought you'd be deeper than that doc..."
"Sometimes there's no need to go very deep... But you are right, it
isn't that simple. I just thought it curious."
"Vince must suspect what these dreams are about, surely?"
"That's what's so frightening... I think he believes he's in my
nightmares and being mean to me... but I think... I hope he doesn't
have a clue of how cruel he is. It would kill him. It would hurt him
more than anything I could ever do to him in real life, because I
don't believe he could help thinking that was the way I really saw
"Hasn't he tried to ask you again about the dreams?"
"He wants to. All the time. I can see it. But he's afraid of how I'll
react, he probably thinks I'm either going mad or going to take off."
"And what do you think? Are you going mad?"
"I'm certainly not going to leave him... And I wish you could help me
answer that other one..."
"As I said, I will do my best... As long as you don't give up on me."
"I won't. I can't afford to. You're my only hope of understanding
myself... if I don't I can tell you that I will go mad. For certain."
"I don't think you would... But I feel much happier knowing you'll
"Happy? Have I told you before how very unprofessional you sound at
"You have implied it, yes. Well, anything to get a smile out of you."
"Not a pass?"
"No time. Time is up. Next week?"
"If you promise to be chaste and icy."
"I promise to be chaste. Fair enough?"
"I guess... See you doc."
"I certainly hope so. And Stuart?"
"Try talking to him. Even if you think it'll hurt him it will be
nothing compared to what he's suffering now, thinking you don't trust
him enough, don't love him enough."
"If only I could be sure... I'll try. I will."
We can't go on like this. Stuart isn't getting any sleep at all now.
For two nights. He's much too scared to go to sleep. He stays up, he
takes pills, he makes endless cups of tea... I realise now that this
is all my fault. How could I sleep with that guy? It seemed so
easy... I hoped Stuart would stand up and pay attention... I
shouldn't have done it. I guess he must have known - but I never
admitted he was right... I'm too much of a coward for that. And what
would be the point of telling him now? It would only add to whatever
horrific things I inflict upon his mind... Forgiveness is what I
yearn for. But it's a trap because he'd have to suffer even more so
that I could be easier in my heart. So I won't. I'll try to help him.
I only wish he'd tell me how.
FOR WE ARE RIVERS
Hell must be like this only I don't believe in it. Not going to sleep
ever again. Not being able to face Vince who wants so desperately to
save me from myself and I don't see how he can... I had dreams for
us. We had them together. Daydreams of happiness future. Well this is
the future and all my dreams are at night and it's a slow procession
of blows until the final agony. Via Crucis of the soul, of my soul.
Each station weighs me down and I am the cross upon my back and the
thorns that crown my head. How long will it last? How long will I
last? There is no God but Love and Vince is Its name... Help me God
because there is no road I have not tried and they all lead back to
darkness and I'm afraid of the dark. Mum used to tell me how brave I
was. As a child I never feared the night and later I welcomed it but
now it is torture and Vince tries to hold back the night for me but
he can't because the night is beyond God's reach and we lesser gods
never stand a chance and must do its bidding.
I used to kiss him all the time. Now there are the same dark circles
under his eyes that I see under mine. And they all come from not
loving him enough or too much because that is really the same at the
end of the day. I don't want the day to end ever again. Keep it
burning for my sake Vince! Don't let the sun give up and surrender
and sink from sight... Unless it makes no difference and all the
nightmares start coming in the day, I dare not try it. Sleep.
He is brave and good and it still isn't enough to shelter him. I must
be his harbour. I must be the quietness he seeks. The water spraying
his front. His home where no evil can reach him. But he is restless
and doesn't know how to take what I offer because he doesn't think I
love him all that much only I do and I blame myself for every minute
I forget to tell him out loud that he is all my life. He says that
there is no meaning to life for any of us. He is saying it now. So I
get closer to him and tell him it's not true because he gives meaning
to my life. He won't believe me. "What makes life worth living?" and
I tell him "You make my life worth living" and he starts to cry and
tells me he loves me and he's sorry he asked and I am the meaning and
the reason of life for him but maybe he's only being kind because he
may be dying but he has never been so loving... so fragile... so far
Now I believe him. There is love for me in everything he does and I
should have seen it there long ago. I slept well tonight in his arms
in his soul in his love. If I am to survive it'll be through him. I
feel better. Happier.
He fell asleep in my arms tonight. His body couldn't take it any
longer. He collapsed into sleep. It was mercifully deep - dreamless,
probably. He's too weak to remember. Should that be a good thing? Or
is he beyond help?
The dreams have been gone for a whole week. "No more endless cups of
tea?" Vince says to me and I laugh... I laugh. He comes rushing into
the room and starts dancing around me like a madman and I can't help
laughing even more so he says he'll never stop dancing... We laugh...
I had forgot the sound of it. Happiness is this. Stuart's laughter.
Me acting silly. In love and outside and it's bright again. Both of
No need to go looking for each other ever again. We flow together now.
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