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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Author: gayflashfic

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4 thoughts on “If Only – by Drew Payne”

  1. oh yes, the horrors of cruising, especially when and if isn’t utilizing an auto. tony was just starting to wake up, perhaps, by not making an advance on Max, realizing that anonymous sex is but a band-aid at best and is taking the easy way out, instead of dealing with the countless wounds of gay life, indeed!


  2. There’s so much basic humanity in this story. I felt the fact that the characters were people, not plastic … whatevers. I think that at its heart, this is a brilliant story about trying to be a person in a world that would rather have you be a label.


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