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Drew Payne

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About Drew Payne

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  1. Drew Payne

    Easter Witness

    Thanks for your feedback, it means a lot. I always thought that Jesus was Queer, even when I was an Evangelical Christian and didn't even know what Queer meant. I am sure Jesus would be tending to the victim of queerbashers and not marching against other people's human rights (The Christians who protested against Marriage Equality here used such vile slogans). As I said above, I wanted to write about how alienating their tacts are, how they demanding their "victimhood" by demanding the right to discriminate against others isn't winning them any friends, but I do wonder how many of those right-wing Christians will ever read this story.
  2. Drew Payne

    Easter Witness

    Thank you for such on the nail feedback. I grew up in this environment and it still scares me how desperate for power they still are. It also makes me angry at how quickly they will distort facts and the truth to win their arguments. In the next breath, I know many Christians who are nothing like this, whose Christianity is about doing good. I wrote this story as a reaction to all those Christians demanding that they are being persecuted, to show how alienating their actions are being.
  3. My short story Easter Witness is up and can be read here:


    Next Sunday is Easter Sunday, to mark that here is a story set on Easter Sunday but it has a very different theme than the setting would suggest.

    Happy reading.

  4. Easter Sunday 2011 This year was double the number of marchers then usual, singing loudly but tunelessly Onward Christian Soldiers, as they made their haphazard way along the High Street. I sat in the window of my flat’s sitting room and watched the marchers below. My flat, being above the laundrette, on the corner of the High Street, gave me a good view of the march and I could look out for my sister but I wouldn’t be seen. It was their yearly tradition, their “March of Witness” on Easter Sunday morning. They would leave St. John’s Church, the local parish church, walk up the length of the High Street, around the traffic island at the north end, and then back along the High Street and into St. John’s Church. My sister had told me, they saw it as their “witness” to our local community. As if marching along the High Street, once a year, would turn us away from our wicked ways. This year they had changed their Witness March into a protest march. The tiny congregation from St. John’s was joined by those of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Pentecostal church on the Fowler Estate. Many of them were carrying placards that proclaimed: “Equal Rights for Christians”, “We Will Not Give Up Our Beliefs” and “The World Needs God Not Human Rights”. It was chilling to watch them, the anger and energy that had suddenly poured out of them. They were reacting to a persecution that to me was almost imaginary. None of those church goers were ever attacked and beaten up when they left church, the way my friend Joe was when he had left a gay bar in Brighton (he’d only just been discharged from hospital, two weeks after he was attacked). “We’re the most persecuted minority in the country,” my sister had announced, the night before at my mother’s dinner party. I’d actually choked on a mouthful of wine when I heard this but it didn’t stop her continuing, “Our beliefs are always ignored for Political Correctness. We have no rights in this society. Homosexuals and immigrants have more rights than us. Only last week a Christian woman was threatened with the police when she refused to let a homosexual couple stay in her B&B. It was her home and she didn’t want her children exposed to all that sin,” “Nonsense,” our mother snapped. “As a solicitor I’ve had a lot of enquiries about this. The law says that if you’re offering a service to the public you can’t pick and choose who you offer it to. You can’t turn someone away because they’re gay or they look gay.” “Yes, but homosexuals get all these protections ahead of everyone else,” my sister complained. “We Christians don’t get the same protections. Anyone can be prejudiced towards us and get away with it. When we stand up for our beliefs we’re called bigots and snacked down,” “You bloody little fool!” I could see the annoyance on my mother’s face. “The Equality Bill, the one you hate so much, extended protections to lesbians and gay men that were already enjoyed by Christians. It’s against the law to deny someone a public service because of their religion. Now it’s the same for sexuality...” My sister didn’t reply, for once, she just pursed her lips and looked away. Later that evening my sister cornered me in my mother’s kitchen and started her explanation without any promoting from me. “We just want to stand up for our fundamental beliefs before they’re taken away from us. No one respects us anymore. They never listen to us and when we stand up for our beliefs they call us prejudiced. This March of Witness tomorrow is to show how much everyone needs us Christians and to stand up for our rights.” “Tell it to someone who cares,” I replied. “God still loves you and he can cure your homosexuality.” I didn’t reply, I just pushed past her and walked back into the dining room. Much later, as I was leaving for home, my mother kissed me on the check and quietly said: “The trouble with your sister is she wants to save the world from its sins, the shame is that the world no longer needs saving.” “I wish she’d stop trying to save me,” I replied. Now, looking down on those marchers, part of me actually felt sorry for them. They had lost all their influence and power, the world no longer needed them, yet they couldn’t see that. They still wanted the deference that they had long ago lost. They were quite pathetic creatures, a joke to many, yet they couldn’t see it. They were so sad, out of touch with everything and they couldn’t make themselves relevant. Then I saw it, the placard carried by a squat man in a suit too tight for him, it read: “The World Needs Salvation Not Sodomy.” All my pity vanished. They were bloody bigots just trying to hang onto their age-old prejudices. The sooner they all died out and their churches closed the better. I stood up and walked away from the window, those marchers could freeze to death in a blizzard for all I cared, and headed towards my kitchen. I had an Easter breakfast to prepare. Since his discharge from hospital Joe had been staying with me, caring for him and looking after him was now far more important to me than those sad and bigoted people outside.
  5. Another reader of The First Night of Spring suggested that the original ending of the story was weak. This is the re-write ending, and in true Fairy Tale style, the wicked get punished.


    Happy reading.

  6. Oops, I've been caught. Actually I based it on a case from years ago, when a man used a gay dating app to find his victims to rob. I file all this stuff away in my computer-like mind, and on my computer.
  7. Thank you for your feedback, it means a lot to me and is very helpful. I grew up in an environment that told me the most important relationship you can have is that with your family (Even when your family was as dysfunctional as mine). As an adult, my most important relationships aren't with my family members, they're with people I have no blood relationship with, it is with the people I have chosen to call friends and my husband. For so many LGBT people, the people we gather to us are far more important than our blood relationships. That was one of the things I wanted to write about here, plus being a "parent" to someone and you don't even know you're doing it (Such as Tom and Joel's relationship). When I was slightly older than Joel, I was told the Devil had possessed me that was why I was gay. Now I'd say, what bullshit!
  8. I have published another short story, The Boy from Bootle, read it here:




    Bootle is the suburb of Liverpool where I grow up, but this story isn’t about me, its about the families we make for ourselves.


    Happy reading.

  9. As soon as I walked in the door, I saw that Joel had dyed his hair purple. He was slouching on the sofa, watching some music video on the television, but all I saw was the bright purple hair. It didn’t suit him, the bright colour made his face seem even more paler than usual, unhealthily pale. When I’d left for work, that morning, Joel’s hair had been a sandy-brown. He might not have been the most outstandingly handsome young man but neither had he been a plain wallflower. Now, all I could see was that bright purple hair, which put the rest of him into shade and clashed horribly with the orange tee-shirt he was wearing. “Hi Tom,” Joel said as soon as he saw me stood there. “Hello,” I replied. “You’re home early.” “Friday, I’m owed time back,” I said, but my mind was screaming about that horrible purple hair. “Do you like my new style?” He said as he pushed his hand through that hair. “It’s very striking,” I said. The shock had pushed out any other comments. “I think it’ll get me noticed,” he said. “I’m sure it will,” I replied. “Where’s Frank?” “He’s out in the garden,” Joel told me as he fell back onto the sofa. Not bothering to go and change out of my suit, I rushed through the house’s kitchen and out into our garden. There I found my husband, Frank, throwing a ball for our dog Buster. I rushed straight up to Frank and demanded, keeping my voice low so that there was no chance I was overheard: “Have you seen what he’s done to his hair?” “It’s purple, not my first choice,” Frank said, throwing the ball for Buster, who ran off in the wrong direction. “It’s horrible,” I hissed. “He’s seventeen, he’s exploring his own image. You dyed your hair blond when you were his age.” “It was different. I was nineteen and blonde is a natural colour, sort of.” “Joel is making his own fashion mistakes. The dye will grow out.” “I wish he wouldn’t dress like a rent boy, with all those skinny jeans and tight tee-shirts,” I protested. “He dresses like that because the boy band he likes does,” Frank replied. “I bet they’re all rent boys, none of them can sing.” “Ah, are we having a mid-life crisis?” Frank leant over and kissed me on the forehead. “I just want him to be happy.” “And he is and will be. He’s not living with your bloody-bitch-sister now. Don’t worry. The dye will grow out, he’ll find a boyfriend, get a job he likes. He’ll calm down. He’s only seventeen, let him be a normal seventeen-year-old. God, we never had the chance to be teenagers when we were seventeen,” Frank said. “I just worry about him.” “Which is normal,” Frank said. “Go and have a shower and read your emails. I’ll start dinner in a minute or so.” Buster ran up to us then, carrying in his mouth a red ball I’d never seen before. As I showered, the hot water easing my tense muscles, I knew that Frank was right, he was the Mental Health Nurse, but I still worried about Joel. I couldn’t stop myself. My sister is an Evangelical Christian, living in the Liverpool suburb of Bootle, and her whole life seems to be filled with her Christian beliefs. Her husband left her when Joel was two, which she blamed on the Devil “tempting” him away. She allows her church to decide on everything for her; she’s certainly adopted all their homophobia. Ever since I came out to her, twenty years ago, she’s been telling me that she’s praying for me to become “normal”. Even meeting Frank and us two getting married hasn’t stopped her wanting me to “change” but I stopped listening to her years ago, she just says the same thing. I never thought her homophobia would go this far though. Six months ago, on a wet Sunday morning, I got a call from Joel. Very nervously he asked me if he could come and stay with Frank and I. Naturally, I said yes and that’s when he told me he was already at Euston Station, he’d caught the first down to London, from Liverpool, that morning. The night before his mother had through him out for being gay. She’d gone onto his laptop, the one I bought him, and found gay links and gay pictures and emails to gay groups on it. She’d confronted him and, to his credit, Joel hadn’t denied being gay but my ignorant sister had through him out of her home for it. He turned up at our house looking like a lost soul and had broken down into tears as soon as he was safely in our sitting room. There was no question but that he would move in with us. Since then he’s barely said anything about what happened. Instead he’d thrown himself into being gay. The handful of new friends he’s made are all gay, he only goes to gay places, even the part-time job he’s found is gay (working in the warehouse of a gay online store). He hasn’t found a boyfriend, nor seems interested in finding one, but he isn’t celibate. He’s slept with so many different young men, most only once. He is almost the stereotype of the shallow gay man, only interested in partying and sex. When I’d ask him about his mother, he’d just shrugged it off, as if she no longer existed. It worries me. Frank is right, too, Joel is only seventeen, but I worry about him because my sister is such a fuck-up I dried myself off after my shower, put on a pair of sweat pants and a tee-shirt, before going into the kitchen to read my emails on my laptop As I watched the emails falling into my inbox the one from my sister stood out like a sore thumb. She always writes in all capitals, like she’s shouting at me from her email. This one was a long and badly written email all about how marriage equality, or GAY MARRIAGE as she called it, was destroying “REAL” marriage, threatening society and would see all Christians being thrown into prison just for their beliefs. It was her usual bullshit. I’d stopped answering them years ago. “Fuck off you bitch,” I muttered as I deleted it. Even with his purple hair and skinny jeans, I knew Joel was better off away from that woman.
  10. Thank you. This is one of my favourite stories of mine, especially as I set it were I live. I also love the idea of a fantasy world living just under or just to one side of our real world.
  11. Tonight will be the Spring Equinox, so in honour of that here is my short story about The First Night of Spring. Read it here:




    Happy reading.

  12. Dog Rose moved silently across the neatly trimmed grass of the park, heading towards the locked gates on Manor Road. Tonight, he would take his route around the Victorian terraced houses that lined the streets there. This was one of his favourite routes but he hadn’t travelled it for several nights. He liked to vary the routes he took, never to be seen in the same place two nights on the run. When he reached the locked gates, Dog Rose simply gave a shiver of his body and passed right through them. For a fairy like Dog Rose it was easy to shift the reality of his body and pass through any solid object; but that was barely one of his talents. The humans were still arguing about when spring actually began and had been so for centuries now, they still couldn’t agree when it was. But the fairies, like Dog Rose, had always known when spring began, and tonight was that night. Dog Rose intended to mark the night with something special, something he had been searching to do for so long. This area had been his territory for centuries now. He had lived here ever since he’d been brought into this life. Back then there had been an entire community of fairies living here and he’d relished their company. Back then this all had been open countryside and farmland full of long narrow fields with thick hedges, even orchards full of trees. Over the following decades and centuries Dog Rose had watched the city slowly and relentlessly cover over this area. He saw the fields turned into factories and streets of terraced houses. Now the only open areas were the patches of grass and neat parks in the east end of the city. As the area changed, swallowed up by the city, the other fairies had left or drifted away. They had said the city was no place for them but Dog Rose didn’t agree. As the city grew around him, he found his new environment fascinating, there were so many new opportunities here, so many more chances for mischief as more people came to live here and the new buildings went up. As the other fairies left, increasingly Dog Rose found himself on his own, and the more he found himself alone, the less pleasure he found in creating mischief. For the last handful of decades, since he had been the only fairy in the area after White Daisy left to find herself the countryside again, he had barely committed any mischief, there was no pleasure in it anymore. In the company of other fairies, he could revel and laugh as the humans tried and searched for the cause of his mischief; alone it just felt pathetic, as when he had been a human child and had been forced to play alone. Though he hated to admit it, Dog Rose was lonely and longed for company of his own kind. It had been raining during the day before and the pavement Dog Rose moved over still had the odour of moisture, there were still the occasional puddles to reflect the clear night sky. Even at this late hour of the night, the streets were still not dark, light poured out onto them from the houses and down from the street lights that lined them, but still Dog Rose was not concerned. He could easily make himself disappear if a human was wondering along those streets. The boy called Ryan was there again, sitting out on the flat roof of the extension to his home, the last house on Livingstone Street. The boy was still staring up at the night sky, his legs pulled in front of him as his whole body was pulled down in sadness. Dog Rose had seen him many times before, over many nights he had even struck-up a kind of friendship with the boy, though Dog Rose had appeared to the boy in the guise of another youth. Unseen, Dog Rose drifted up to the flat roof and then with a shiver of his body turned himself into his disguise, the one the boy had seen before. Then he walked around the roof to the boy and sat down next to him. “Hello,” Dog Rose said. The boy turned towards him and Dog Rose saw that the boy’s face was swallowed with a large and angry bruise. Seeing Dog Rose, the boy’s face broke into a smile, though the corner of his mouth was pushed down by that bruise. “You came back,” the boy said. “I haven’t seen you in days.” “I’ve been occupied, you know how it is, but I’d never not come back, not to you. What happened to your face?” “My dad found another gay mag in my bedroom. He said he’d beat the gay out of me, this is what I got, and the kicking to my back. God I hate him, I wish he was dead or I was dead or a million miles away from here. I hate it.” A tear appeared in the corner in his eye as he spoke. “Why don’t you leave, run away?” “I’m sixteen and I’ve got no money and nothing. I ain’t got a job and he takes what benefit money I get. I’m stuck here until I can get a job or something.” “You could run away with me?” Dog Rose said. “You’re no older than me, you got any money or anything?” “I’ve got something better?” With a shiver Dog Rose cast off his disguise, his body falling back into its true form. His skin glowing silver, his blonde hair falling over his tunic with its matching britches, and his translucent wings rising out of his back. His body slipping down to its real size as his wings lifted him up into the air. “Oh God,” the boy whispered, his face filling with delight. “Come with me,” Dog Rose said. “Yes,” the boy replied. Dog Rose lent forward and placed his mouth over the boy’s. In a deep and passionate kiss Dog Rose drew out the human spirit of the boy and breathed into him new and magical life. It was a kiss of love and new life, the same kiss that Dog Rose had received when, centuries ago, he was first drawn into this life. **** Dog Rose led Lichen, his new companion and the first new fairy in this area for over a century, back up Livingstone Street, at an almost break-neck speed. With delight rushing through his body, Dog Rose was taking Lichen to start a night of mischief. They would light this area up with their pranks and humour and Dog Rose could feel Lichen’s excitement already bubbling over as they rushed along hand-in-hand. Lichen was already chattering away about getting his revenge on the man who had been his father, making the man’s life a living misery, and Dog Rose smiled broadly back, sharing in his new companion’s delight. **** Arthur Riches walked back along Livingstone Street, heading back towards to his house. It was six-thirty in the evening but he could still feel everyone in the street, from behind their window and curtains, judging him. He had been living with those accusing and judgmental looks from everyone for three weeks now, ever since the body of his sixteen-year-old son, Ryan, had been found on the flat roof of their house’s extension, that Thursday morning. He’d spent four hours being questioned by the police that morning, and they’d had him back for questioning twice more since then. It was always with the same two coppers, the man and the smart-arsed woman, was the police full of women now he kept wondering, and always they pressured him, saying they knew he’d killed Ryan. The second time they questioned him they’d confronted him with evidence of the beating he’d given Ryan, with the bruises and old injuries they’d found on the boy’s body. He’d had to admit the truth, even though his solicitor had hissed to keep silent, that he’d given the boy the odd beating to knock the queer out of him. No kid of his was being queer. The woman copper had ruffled her feathers at that, women did but it was the truth. After his third questioning, his solicitor had told him that the police had no idea what had killed Ryan. Great, Arthur Riches thought, all the money his solicitor was costing him and this was the best the man could do. His life had quickly been flushed down the toilet since Ryan’s death, everyone acted like he was the one who had killed the boy, as if the odd beating could kill the boy? Arthur Riches had lost his job, his boss said it was because of the turn down in orders, but Arthur Riches knew the real reason. The man couldn’t look him in the eye as he sacked him, he thought Arthur Riches was some sort of child killer. Two days after the boy death’s Tracy, his wife, had left him. She too blamed him for the boy’s death and she couldn’t keep her fat mouth shut. Even his other two kids, Shame and Gemma, older than the boy and already moved out of his house, were refusing to talk to him. No one would speak to him now, they just looked at him like he was some kind of killer. Since he’d lost his job and Tracy had left, Arthur Riches found himself so short of cash. No longer could he afford a night out at his local pub, even if no one there would talk to him, so he now had to go to the local office licence for his drink. Tonight, all he could afford were four cans of lager, carried in his left hand now, though the Polish woman behind the counter had sneered at him as she sold him them. He wanted to shout at her to go back to her own country, but the last time he’d done that he’d found himself on the end of a police caution. As he neared his own front door, his next-door-neighbour’s door opened, and Cecelia Dwamena stepped out onto the pavement. The black woman’s hair was covered with an elaborately coloured scarf, and her stout body was covered by her dull green, woollen coat. She turned and walked straight towards him. As she drew level with him, she had glared angrily at him and sucked in the air through her teeth. The resentment broke inside of Arthur Riches and he snapped: “What you staring at!” “Something that should be in prison for child murder,” Cecelia Dwamena shot back at him. Arthur Riches felt his right fist clench in anger, but he didn’t dare strike the woman. Cecelia Dwamena had a mean right fist on her, and he’d seen her use it. “I didn’t kill the boy, I didn’t!” He shouted back at her. “Tell it to the judge because the jury don’t believe you,” she replied, her voice dripping with disbelief. “I didn’t! I didn’t do it!” Arthur Riches shouted. “And God is punishing the whole neighbourhood with this poltergeist making our lives miserable because of your sins,” Cecelia Dwamena told him, before pushing past him and stomping off down the street. He stood there for a moment, looking up at his own house. There had certainly been a lot of vandalism around here of late. Every night someone would ring his front door bell and run off, usually in the early hours of the morning. Over the past two weeks a half brick had been thrown through his living room window and the window on his front door, both were now boarded up. Every night something was spilled or thrown over in his backyard. Then there were all the broken street lights, over turned bins, car alarms set off nightly and weird graffiti appearing all everywhere. Was this the poltergeist that Cecelia Dwamena claimed? Arthur Riches shuck his head, that woman had got to him again, and turned to push his key into his front door. As he did so he felt someone staring at him and could have sworn that he heard those two voices laughing at him. He turned around quickly, to shout at them to leave him alone, but the street behind him was empty. God but he needed a drink, he told himself as he pushed his way into his house, but he could only afford four cans of lager to last him to the end of the week.
  13. Dementia is such is such a cruel and nasty trick of nature.
  14. This story, like so much of my writing, is taken from reality. Nearly 20 years ago I nursed a woman with severe dementia. She was being cared for by her second husband but, because of her dementia, she had forgotten who he was but she remembered her first husband (who had been a bastard to her) and she would chatter on about him. The pain I saw in her second husband's eye when this happened was heart-breaking. I changed it to a gay couple because dementia, in gay relationships, is even less talked about than in straight couples.
  15. Thanks, I love a little twist in the tale.
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