October 12, 2014

If Only – by Drew Payne

(c) Drew Payne, June 2010.

The bed was uncomfortable, the traction holding his broken leg restricted his movement, and his leg was hurting. Tony knew there wasn’t any point in calling for a nurse, he still couldn’t have any more painkillers, but he considered it. Max, the short blonde, male nurse, was looking after him today; Max was handsome and caring. He could do with Max’s attention.

He hated being in hospital.

If he hadn’t gone out that night he wouldn’t be in here. Jackson’s Field was a piece of common ground that had been neglected for years, but ideal for cruising. He’d been lonely and frustrated, hoping for a little company, so he’d gone there.

If he hadn’t followed that guy, Tony wouldn’t have been led into an ambush by a bunch of queer bashers. Four men had fallen upon him, blows and insults raining down on him. It had seemed to last forever, eventually they did stop and walked away; but he couldn’t move or call for help, the pain made it impossible. It wasn’t until the next morning that he was found and taken to hospital.

If his relationship with Alan had survived then he wouldn’t have needed to go out cruising on Jackson’s Field, but it hadn’t. He’d had to return home, when his father had his second stroke, and that had finished his relationship (His brother “couldn’t” look after their father). They had tried a long-distance relationship but Alan had soon grown tired of it. Tony would have waited forever, not Alan.

If his father would agree to go into a home, but he wouldn’t. Tony was stuck with looking after his father’s shop and his father, as the old man’s health and mind failed. As his father’s mind deteriorated the homophobia poured out of him. Tony was now “you little queer”, no warmth left there.

If only he was straight, like his brother, he wouldn’t be in this mess. But that thought was crazy. His brother, with his five sullen children and his needy wife, was no ideal. His brother had had three affairs but still his wife wouldn’t leave him, Tony didn’t want that life, but was his any better?

Then Max appeared in his room, cleaning his hands and smiling.

“How are you?” Max asked.

“My leg’s bad,” Tony replied.

“Then we’ll have to do something about that.”

The next moment Max was busily tending to him, making him more comfortable in that bed. Just getting more comfortable seemed to ease some of the pain. He smiled his thanks to Max. This man, in his soft and caring way, was obviously gay, yet Max seemed happy.

If only he was like Max, happy and attractive, with a life he enjoyed, Tony wouldn’t be in this position.

As Max checked his chart, saying something about painkillers, Tony wanted to reach up and touch Max’s face, just brush his fingers over Max’s smooth skin.

But he didn’t…

 

~~~~~~

Drew Payne 

  • I have had stories published in the anthologies, The Monster in My Closet (Sullivan Publishing House), Image Out Write 2012, Eros at Large (Paradise Press), Boys in Bed and Finished by Hand (Both Xcite Books). My essay, More Then Just Making Beds and Emptying Bedpans, was published in the 2010 anthology Nurses on the Run. I have had short stories published in the magazines Chroma, ScotsGay, Creative Week, ‘Indie Scene’andGazebo Magazine; and on the websites Gay Flash Fiction, Velvet Mafia, Thick Jam, 1000 Words and The New Flash. I am also a regular contributor to FS Magazine, a National Men’s Health magazine, NRC, Nursing Times and Nursing Standard, Britain’s leading nursing publications, and for the Nursing Standard I have three times been a guest editor. Sketches I’ve written have been performed in the Treason Show, the Brighton based satirical review show, and the London based Newsrevue, the world’s longest running live comedy show.

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September 28, 2014

FLASH – by Karl Patrick Jager

(c) 2014 Karl Patrick Jager

He told me his name was Sam but I never was sure. Somebody had told me that Sam had died but, sure enough, here he was.

“I’m Sam.” He’d said.

“Sam D’Alessandro?” I’d asked.

“Yes,” he’d said. And that was that.

The next day I told everybody I’d been fucking Sam D’Alessandro. The claim was met with a pale disinterest, a wave of the hand. None of the guys really cared, but Jay stared at me and held my gaze. The conversation moved onto other things but Jay’s intense glare never wavered, his eyes narrowed and, when everybody got up to get more drinks or smoke outside, Jay shuffled over towards me.

“You know you shouldn’t really say things like that,” he said, softly.

“I knew you’d say something like that.” I laughed, shaking my head and lining up the damp cardboard coasters on the table. I watched him from my peripheral vision, waiting for him to get up and leave but I could tell he was crafting some more disapproval.

“Sam D’Alessandro is dead, we’ve been over this.” Jay’s voice was calm and measured, lower, softer than usual. He sounded serious and upset and ever so slightly jealous. He sounded like he was trying to keep himself together.

“How to you even know?” I said, turning to face him, “Because you read it somewhere? You don’t know that. It’s not something you know.”

“Everybody knows he died in the fucking eighties.”

“He’s here, he walked right up to me and I took him home, Jay. I fucked Sam D’Alessandro and you’re jealous and now you’re playing the old Oh-Sam-D’Alessandro’s-Dead card.” Jay stared at me slack jawed as if he hadn’t expected me to say anything. I shook my head, pitifully, and said, “So, so sad.”

That night Sam called, he said he wanted to come over and that he’d been writing about me and wanted to show me. He said he was excited and that he’d been writing a whole novella, a flurry of creativity, a speculative long-form prose poem about me.

I spun around, giddy, full of love. My chest hurt. And once I’d showered and fixed my hair I picked out a cool T-Shirt, a Cramps or a Blondie, something a little punk. Everybody thinks not caring about things is cool, but punk is about caring very much, about the right things. So I carefully stacked a pile of important magazines and papers on the coffee table. A Vice and a New Scientist and some zines and some small, very cool little indie literary press things. Graphic things, political things, things about sex and b-movies, all the cool stuff.

My place smelled like incense and I worried about that a little, but just as my anxiety began to tremor from inside me the buzzer shook the flat and snapped me into the present. I picked up the telecom and said, “Hello?”

After a crackling and a muffled cough, a deep voice said loudly, “Hey, It’s Sam.”

I wiped the sweat off my brow and buzzed him in.

Sam said that writing is, mostly, about putting on a voice, wearing a mask, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. “You need to really understand someone,” he said to me in bed, later that evening.

I stared into his eyes and at his hair. I wondered if he’d use anything he’d written about me. I didn’t ask, not wanting to appear desperate, but he showed me some old magazines and we watched some documentaries on YouTube, the laptop propped up on a stack of books on the dresser at the foot of the bed. He smoked, solidly and consistently and I loved it. He told me about nihilism and philosophy and astrology, and read some of his short stories out loud. He didn’t sign my copy of his book, though, he said it was tacky.

I told him what Jay said, and as soon as I did he sat up, straight and stiff. Suddenly wide-eyed and serious, he held my face in both hands and, with hot beer breath, said, “They’re jealous. They don’t understand. They don’t know what they’re talking about.” He seemed angry, and he shook as he said, “People are crazy. It’s a myth. How can I be dead when I’m sitting right here talking to you?”

“I know, I told them, I told them.” I could feel my eyes filling up, and he held me as I sobbed into his chest. He held my head and told me it would be OK. “They’re just jealous.”

I watched him as he slept. I thought about taking pictures as he slept but I was terrified he’d find out. He didn’t look anything like his author picture but, as he said, it was taken a while ago. People are crazy, and the internet made people crazier.

His hair smelled like cigarette smoke and I breathed him in, holding the scent in as long as I could, just in case.

~~~~~~

Karl Patrick Jager is a writer based in the South West of England

Contact

~~~~~~


August 30, 2014

DOCTOR SNAP – By Cristina L White

It was written on the sideboard menu in white chalk: PLAIN BELGIAN WAFFLE. As opposed to what, I wondered. Fancy Belgian waffle? Or maybe it wasn’t about plain or fancy. Could one order a plain Bulgarian waffle? What the hell is a Belgian waffle anyway? And why would I care? Please take note: Rachel Sutton doesn’t care about waffles, plain or fancy. Oh, sure, I thought. As if anyone out there is taking note of what I care about. Once upon a time, Angie would have taken note. No. Better not think about that. She had moved on; I should do the same. It was over.

I sipped my coffee. It was black. Bitter. I liked the taste of it, the heat of the liquid. I closed my eyes and listened to the chatter and clatter around me in the café. The noise of the place was soothing. It occurred to me that I might be focusing on plain Belgian waffles in order not to think about my plain old misery. My plain old apartment, barely big enough for two, but Angie and I had made it work. That was then. Now, it was the place where I lived alone, with my plain old solitude for company.

“Purple toothbrush! Purple toothbrush!”

It was a child’s voice. I opened my eyes and saw her—a toddler wearing an Army green baseball cap and a pink dress. The kid definitely had her own style. I found myself grinning, and realized it was the first time in days—maybe weeks—that I had found anything funny. Me and my deep-down funk: my girlfriend gone, my sense of humor nearly smothered by self-pity.

Screw it, I thought. This little girl in her Army baseball cap had the right idea.

“Purple toothbrush,” she said again.

Yeah. Color. That’s the ticket. Mix it up.

I got up and went to the sideboard. I put sugar and cream in my coffee. Sampled it. Good. Nice creamy color. I remembered my red baseball cap. Bright red. And didn’t I have a Pink Martini tee shirt somewhere? Yeah, I’ll wear that. Pink tee shirt and red cap.

The waitress walked by, and I signaled her. She had poured my coffee, but this time, as she came toward me, I noticed her eyes. Beautiful blue eyes. And on her right shoulder, a sexy rose tattoo. How had I missed that?  “Could I get one of those plain Belgian waffles?”

“Sure,” she said.

“And a side dish of blueberries?”

She smiled. “You can get strawberries too.”

“Sounds good.”

“Plain B with a red-and-blue side, coming up.”

I watched her walk away, then went back to my table and settled in again. The purple toothbrush toddler was drumming on an empty chair while her mother looked on. She seemed amazed at the kooky human being she had brought into the world.

“Great kid,” I said.

“That she is. Keeps me on my toes.”

“What’s her name?”

“Ellie.”

“Hi, Ellie.”

Ellie looked up at me. “Hi,” she said.

I lifted my cup to her. “I like your style, Ellie.”

She considered this. “Hi,” she said again.

“Exactly. High style.”

Ellie tilted her head, made a “popping” sound with her lips, then went back to her drumming.

I drank my coffee, feeling at one with my surroundings. I wondered what Ellie would grow up to be. Maybe a therapist with unconventional methods. Today, in my book, that’s what she was—Doc Ellie, A.K.A. Doctor Snap. As in: Snap-Out-of-It-Already. I leaned back in my chair, awaiting the arrival of my not-so-plain Belgian waffle, and the girl with the sexy rose tattoo.

—End—

  (c) Cristina L. White, 2014


Cristina L. White writes fiction, memoir, and plays. Her most recent work, Sex and Soul: A Memoir of Salvation, is due for release fall 2014.

 Author Contact  |  Blog   | Website (coming in October ’14)

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