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    Drew Payne
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Days Like This - 25. Wednesday (Afternoon)

This chapter takes place on the same as Chapter 24, a week after the events of Chapter 14, two weeks after the events of Chapter 7 and three weeks after everything that happened in Chapter 1.

 

This chapter also contains spoilers for the movie Brokeback Mountain.

The cinema seat wasn’t very comfortable, but Simon found that if he pushed himself right back into it and didn’t slouch down then he was comfortable. He had thought the place being called The Fire Station was just a gimmick, but when the four of them had arrived he saw that it actually was an old fire station. A set of bright red, large double doors dominated the front of the building. They were obviously the doors that were once opened to let the fire engines leave the building. Now they were firmly closed, and they had entered through a set of glass double doors cut into the right hand side red door. It looked strange, the bottom of the door transparent and the top of it bright red, polished wood.

Inside was a bright, airy and white space. On the ground floor there was a café, that greeting them as they entered, a bookshop, and a little gallery. The café was furnished with chrome and glass tables with matching chrome chairs, and it all felt very stylish to Simon. The upper floor housed the cinema.

After they had bought their tickets, they’d climbed a spiral staircase up to the cinema, where the film was due to start in a few minutes. At the top of the stairs they’d entered a small foyer, with a thick blue carpet on the floor and cream walls lined with glossy film posters. Simon recognised some of the films advertised on the posters. Sitting on a wooden chair was a young woman, only a few years older than them, reading her phone. When she had seen the four of them walk into the little foyer, she’d sighed slowly and heavily to herself, and equally slowly stood up from her seat.

“Sit anywhere you like, you’re the only ones here,” she had said, barely glancing at their tickets.

Entering the cinema through double doors that were decorated with more film posters, they found it ready in darkness. Simon couldn’t even see the colour of the carpet, only that it was dark. There only seemed to be just over a dozen rows of seats, and Freddie had hurried them into the centre of the cinema and claimed a row for them, even though there was no one else there. There was a narrow aisle running down the right hand side of the cinema, and the rows of seats filled the space between it and left wall.

“You get the best view from the centre,” Freddie announced as he claimed their row.

Simon was surprised the rows were made up from old cinema seats, the kind of seats that were seen in nineteen-fifties and nineteen-sixties films whenever a character would be in a cinema. They were wooden seats, all linked together in rows, and had tip up seats with backs that arced in an almost geometric half circle. The seats and backs were covered in a red corduroy material. When he’d sat down on the seat his buttocks sank down into it and he could hear a metallic squeak from the springs inside it. And the padding on the back of the seat was so thin he could feel the curved wood through it.

Simon was given the seat nearest the wall, with Jeff next to him, Vee on the other side of Jeff, and Freddie took the seat nearest the aisle. Freddie had been very insistent that they sit in that order, and Simon had thought nothing of it. Freddie often organised how they sat around the canteen table or around a table in The Steaming Pot of Coffee. He just thought it was one of Freddie’s things, and thought no more of it. Freddie liked to organise things, and he was good at it.

The next moment the cinema had fallen into further darkness. It had been dark enough when they’d taken their seats, but suddenly it felt as if what little light there was had gone.

Before the film started they were greeted with the showing of three adverts for local businesses. The first one was for a large, used car seller, that had a huge car lot near the March Valley Retail Park (Simon remembered that place too well. In the burger restaurant there that he’d accidentally come out to his dad). The second was for a large function hall that promised it could house any function viewers wanted to hold. The last advert was for a chain of three French restaurants around town, that boasted they were “family owned and run” which had been little more than a slideshow of images of the restaurants with a lack-lust voice-over and instantly forgettable synth music. Simon that been struck by the poor quality of all three adverts. There were none of the slick, expensive and epic adverts that the multiplex cinemas blasted out before a film. He reasoned that this was a small and very independent cinema, and therefore only could only afford the cheapest of adverts.

When the film finally began Simon pushed his body back into his seat, readying himself to enjoy it.

He was surprised by the slow pace of the film. Fine images filled the screen, but there seemed to be little or no explanation about what was happening. The two leads, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, were hired to look after a huge flock of sheep, so were more shepherds than actual cowboys. Simon felt his interest in the film rapidly waning. It only picked up again when Heath Ledger’s character stripped naked to wash, though not in close up.

The first part of the film was taken up with the two men kind of falling in love as they tended the sheep, though neither of them seemed to be able to really express their feelings. There was a very darkly lit love scene in a tent, so dark that Simon couldn’t see what was supposed to be happening. Then the men left working as sheep cowboys, but of instead of trying to make a life together, they parted company, only years later to be reunited.

The main expression of their relationship seemed to a two week fishing trip together once a year. Both of them married women, though neither seemed to have anything like a happy life. They both seemed so deeply unhappy, almost lost. Then Jake Gyllenhaal’s character died, beaten to death by a bunch of queer bashers, though his wife denied it. The film ended with Heath Ledger’s character, middle-aged and lonely, living alone in a mobile home. He still kept the shirts the two of them had worn while looking after the herd of sheep at the beginning of the film. He kept the two shirts hanging together on one hanger, one shirt tucked inside of the other. Simon thought the image was heart breaking, but it also made him angry. Was this what Hollywood thought gay relationships were like? The film had been set in the nineteen-sixties, but he’d read about gay life in the nineteen-sixties. Even then, even with all the homophobia that existed in those days, gay men still managed to live their lives. And many of them were able to live together as couples. This film painted being gay, even back then, as so negative and full of sadness. It wasn’t the life he wanted to live.

Freddie had raved about the film. Simon had read online that this film had been denied an Oscar for best film, but he couldn’t see why people considered it to be so good. The film looked very good, it was well acted, but the story was so depressing. He didn’t like it, and he hated the sad ending.

As he was watching the film something else happened. About a quarter of the way through Jeff’s arm had pressed against his own. Jeff was sitting on the right-hand side of him. Simon had both his arms resting on the armrests of his seat. As Heath Ledger’s and Jake Gyllenhaal’s characters were falling into their kind of romance he’d felt Jeff’s upper arm press against his own. Jeff also placed his arm on the armrest between them. Normally embarrassment would cause Simon to move his arm away when this happened, even if it was with someone he knew. But something made him keep his arm on that shared armrest. Was it because it was Jeff’s arm pressing against his? He suddenly found himself enjoying the presence of Jeff’s arm against his own.

Sometime later in the film, as the characters’ lives seemed to move further apart, Jeff’s forearm had pressed against his, and Simon had felt a rush of excitement. He was wearing a short sleeved shirt and Jeff had rolled up the sleeves of his own shirt, so that their naked forearms were now pressed together, skin against skin. He could feel the fine hairs on Jeff’s arm brushing against his own, the warmth of Jeff’s skin, and the slight movements of Jeff’s arm causing it to almost caress his own. It was so exciting and warm sitting like that. He could feel his cock swell with excitement inside his underwear, pressing against the material. He felt a blush of embarrassment prickling at the back of his neck. He shouldn’t be enjoying this contact the way he was, because he and Jeff were only friends. But he was enjoying it. And he was enjoying it far too much to move his arm away.

Later still in the film, when Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal’s characters took their last camping trip and went skinny dipping together (in another frustrating long shot), Jeff’s hand had closed over his own. Jeff’s hand just came to rest over his own hand. He hadn’t wanted to move his hand, even though he thought maybe he should. He was enjoying the warmth of Jeff’s hand, the pressure of it against his own, and the very slight movements of Jeff’s hand, which rested on top of his. They didn’t exactly hold hands, but it was still very exciting. He could feel his cock swelling with excitement. Part of him was enjoying this thrill but another part felt embarrassed, prickling embarrassment creeping up his neck and around his throat. He and Jeff were just friends, and yet he was getting so excited over this. He reckoned Jeff was probably being just friendly, same as he always was. He was always so free with his hugs and physical affection, but Simon was enjoying it too much to pull his hand away and end it all.

Max had never been this affectionate in the weeks he’d had been seeing him. The only times Max had been affectionate was when he wanted to have sex, which was every date, and then the affection was only to initiate sex, barely more than brief foreplay. In all the weeks he’d been seeing him, Max had never held his hand for this long. Jeff was just his friend and he was more affectionate than his so-called ex had ever been.

When the film ended, with the image of Heath Ledger’s character left all on his own in a mobile home park with only his dead lover’s old shirt for comfort, Jeff’s hand had discreetly slipped from his and his arm had retreated off their shared armrest. Simon had felt a moment of regret. He'd enjoyed their prolonged moment of affection. They were all getting ready to leave the cinema, so of course Jeff wouldn’t carry on holding his hand.

As he stood up from his seat, following Jeff, Vee and Freddie, he remembered his mum’s comments he’d overheard the night before. For the previous two hours or so he hadn’t thought about what she’d said. Her words had been replaying in his mind all day, dragging down his mood each time he remembered them. He still couldn’t believe his own mum had actually said that, and he didn’t know what to do about it. Her words just kept repeating themselves in his head. He gave his head a slight shake to try and shake those memories from it, and followed the others out of the cinema.

As they walked through the doors and into the foyer, Freddie loudly announced:

“Coffee everyone!”

“I could kill a cup,” Vee said.

“I just want to drink mine,” Jeff replied.

“Ha, ha, funny boy,” Vee said.

Simon saw that the young woman was still sitting on her woollen chair in the foyer with the same bored expression painted across her face. When she heard Freddie’s announcement she rolled her eyes with an exasperated expression. Was she bored, he wondered, or was she being homophobic? Freddie couldn’t be “not gay”, even if he tried. But as he followed the others down the stairs he glanced back. She’d returned to reading her phone, that bored expression back on her face, with her body slumped down on her chair. More likely she was someone who just hated her job, he suspected.

They bought themselves sandwiches and drinks in the café below. Simon got himself a diet coke, not being able to face something as strong as coffee, and they sat down at one of the empty chrome and glass tables. As they sat around it, with their seating arrangements again arranged by Freddie, Simon found the chrome chair even more uncomfortable than the cinema seat. Why did people make uncomfortable chairs? What was the point of them?

“God, that was amazing. Even seeing it for the third time on the big screen, it’s still amazing,” Freddie announced.

“It looked so beautiful and stunning,” Vee agreed. “Ang Lee does know how to capture an image. Heath Ledger looked so beautiful, too.”

“Shame he kept mumbling his lines,” Jeff said.

“He could mumble my name any day,” Freddie said.

“You remember he’s dead, don’t you?” Jeff asked.

“Yes, of course I do, but a boy can dream, can’t he?”

“Anyway, he was mumbling because he was in character," explained Vee. "His character just couldn’t express himself. I think that’s what’s so sad about it all, how those two men weren’t able to really express how they felt.”

Simon began to pick at the corner of his chicken salad sandwich. He didn’t know how to join this conversation. He hadn’t enjoyed the film the way the others had, but he didn’t know how to say that.

“And the only time his character was able to express a deeply personal feeling was when he told that story of being shown the dead body of another gay man, by his own father, when he was just a kid,” Jeff said.

“And his father probably killed that gay man. So fucked up,” Vee added.

“And God, that ending,” Freddie said. “When Heath Ledger opens that wardrobe door and there’s his shirt and Jake Gyllenhaal’s one hanging one inside the other. God, it gets me every time.”

“What did you think of it?” Jeff asked, turning his attention to Simon.

“I… I…” He wanted to say he’d liked the film because they’d all wanted him to see it. But he didn’t want to lie to them.

“I didn’t like it.”

“Why?” Freddie’s voice was full of shock.

“What didn’t you like?” Vee asked, her face holding an expression of gentle concern.

“It was all so negative and depressing. Their relationship was so unhappy and doomed."

“But it’s set in the sixties, and in the Southern USA. It was so homophobic and bigoted then. It was reflecting that,” Jeff said.

“Yes, but why did they have to make a film about a gay couple set then?”

“Because that’s when the book was set, the one it was based on,” Vee said.

“It’s all so negative and depressing,” Simon continued. “Those two men loved each other but they were never together. They both got married to women but they were really unhappy and then one was queer bashed to death. It was all so sad and negative. They chose to make a film like that about two gay men. What does that say about how they see us? As sad and pathetic, who don’t deserve to be happy? The best we can hope for is to die alone, or else we’ll be queer bashed to death? I hated that. I hated what they thought about us by making that film. I don’t want to be like that.”

He stopped speaking there. Suddenly he had that feeling that he'd said too much again. They had wanted him to see this film. They'd been so good to include him in this trip to see it, and here he was pissing on their kindness. He bit down on his lip, as if he was able to silence himself.

“You won’t be like those two men, none of us will be. We can make sure we won’t be,” Vee quietly said.

“We’ve got so many opportunities that those men then didn’t have. We’ve come so far,” Jeff said.

“God, we’re here and openly talking about the film,” Vee added.

“Sorry, I just didn’t like what that film was saying. It was so depressing,” Simon told them.

“Maybe it wasn’t the best first gay film to see,” Freddie said. “Maybe we should have gone to see Call Me By Your Name.”

“And that film’s ending isn’t much better. It had me wanting Prozac,” Vee replied.

“Fuck me, I can’t win,” Freddie said.

Maurice had a great ending. I loved its ending. It was so, fuck you to the homophobia back then,” Vee said.

“And fuck there was loads of male nudity, and full on,” Freddie gleefully added.

“Trust you to remember that,” Vee said.

“And it isn’t being shown anywhere. I don’t think it’s even been on the Film 4 channel in ages,” Jeff said.

“I’ll lend you my DVD of it. It’s amazing still,” Freddie said to Simon.

“And it jumps whenever it comes to any scene with any male nudity in it because Freddie has rewound and freeze-framed so many times at those scenes, he’s worn out those tracks,” Jeff said, smiling broadly.

“You bitch!” Freddie shouted back, but laughter plain in his voice.

“You can’t damage DVDs doing that. I’ve done it enough with my copy of Blue Is the Warmest Colour,” Vee said.

“What’s that film about?” Freddie asked.

“Two hot, French girls shagging a lot, I can’t be arsed reading the subtitles. I prefer Carol for lesbian lover story. And that one had a happy ending,” Vee said.

“I don’t know any of those films,” Simon said.

“We’ll have a gay film day at my home, one Saturday, and watch all these films together," suggested Jeff. "We’ll bring our favourite DVDs and watch them together. And we won’t be at the cinema so we can talk all through them.”

“I’m not watching Blue Is the Warmest Colour with you boys. It’s my special film,” Vee said.

“Too much information!” Freddie shrieked. “Now we need to concentrate on real life. Hades is two days away, and we need to find Simon a boyfriend.”

“What?” Simon said with surprise. Was Freddie going to set him up with someone he knew? Was he ready for it?

“Don’t panic,” Jeff said, “I’ll protect you from Aunty Freddie’s Matchmaking crap.”

“Aren’t you a Prince,” Freddie replied, sarcasm heavy in his voice.

You are, Simon thought as he quickly glanced at Jeff. But that thought made a flush of embarrassment rush up the back of his neck. God, could Freddie, Vee and Jeff see it, see his stupid behaviour?

“And I’ll protect you too,” Vee said. “So far Aunty Freddie has tried to set me up with two straight girls and one psycho ex-girlfriend. Not much of a track record.”

“I’ve got to get it right sometime, law of averages and all that shit,” Freddie laughed.

Simon smiled back at the other three and bit into his sandwich.

A big thank to Marty Cooke (@Marty) for all the hard work he has done proofreading and editing this story. Find out more about him at his profile here

Copyright © 2019 Drew Payne; All Rights Reserved.

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Great chapter. The guys had there afternoon at the cinema and when discussing the film afterwards over drinks Simon was able to tell the other guys what he thought of the film, when they asked. In the cinema Jeff seemed to hold Simon's hand whilst they where watching the film.

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Good for Simon speaking his mind. I remember reading the book and feeling emotionally thwacked by the story. His take on the film has important truth to it. On the other hand I do hope the story of Simon and Jeff might have a happier ending. Thanks for this chapter.

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I had a similar reaction to Simon.  I didn't like it at all.  I just got angry as I watched the film.  I kept waiting for something redeeming, something more than the "life sucks, then you die" vibe that permeated it... that plus the idea that you can have anal sex with a virgin with no lube without screams took me out of my suspension of disbelief.

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2 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Great chapter. The guys had there afternoon at the cinema and when discussing the film afterwards over drinks Simon was able to tell the other guys what he thought of the film, when they asked. In the cinema Jeff seemed to hold Simon's hand whilst they where watching the film.

Thanks, your feedback does me so much good.

I wanted this chapter to bring the four friends together, and to have Simon really involved with them, not just sitting on the side-lines. I always wanted this chapter to be Simon beginning to explore gay life, starting with a gay film with friends. And of course, Jeff holds Simon's hand to "comfort" him in the dark cinema (Large wink).

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I liked the different responses to the film. I have to admit I do not understand Simon's reponse at all; not every film is the Sound of Music and as for that scene with the shirts that was one of the most amazing demonstrations in any movie of the deepest love between a couple.

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2 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

Good for Simon speaking his mind. I remember reading the book and feeling emotionally thwacked by the story. His take on the film has important truth to it. On the other hand I do hope the story of Simon and Jeff might have a happier ending. Thanks for this chapter.

Thanks, my goal in writing this is to try and show Simon developing his own gay-identity, and his friends are an important part of this. Another important part is how he reacts to homophobia. At the beginning of the story he blames himself when he's faced with homophobia, he blamed himself for his father's shitty reaction to his coming out. Now he's beginning to see it as something external, not his fault. When he overhears his mother's crass comment, wishing he was straight, he doesn't blame himself but wonders how she can say that when she's bisexual. He is tying himself up in knots but only because he doesn't know how to talk to her about it.

Now this is a spoiler free zone, but I can promise that Simon and Jeff will not end up like the lovers in Brokeback Mountain. I couldn't write an ending so hopeless as that one, and I wrote a story were a man commits suicide at the end of it.

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1 hour ago, xleroc said:

I had a similar reaction to Simon.  I didn't like it at all.  I just got angry as I watched the film.  I kept waiting for something redeeming, something more than the "life sucks, then you die" vibe that permeated it... that plus the idea that you can have anal sex with a virgin with no lube without screams took me out of my suspension of disbelief.

Thanks for your comment, I was worried that readers would get annoyed at me for Simon's response to this film.

When I was planning this story, I just picked Brokeback Mountain out of the air when I was thinking of a film for them to see. I am glad I did though because it gave me the chance to show Simon stepping up in confidence in himself, saying he didn't enjoy the film, especially after Freddie had raved all about it, and with Simon looking up to Freddie. I have enjoyed developing Simon's character.

I hadn’t thought about the anal sex scene in the film. Well, they must raise them tough in Texas.

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24 minutes ago, Canuk said:

I liked the different responses to the film. I have to admit I do not understand Simon's reponse at all; not every film is the Sound of Music and as for that scene with the shirts that was one of the most amazing demonstrations in any movie of the deepest love between a couple.

As I said, I just picked Brokeback Mountain out of the air for this chapter. But before writing this I re-watched the film (I hadn't seen it in years) and I was struck by the very negative/tragic attitude to the lovers (I'm not saying homophobia but the story is a tragedy). I then filtered it through the eyes of a sixteen year old young man, who is desperate for positive gay role models (Simon). He's reacting to the negative nature of the lover's story. Brokeback Mountain doesn't have a happy ending, or much happiness for the gay lovers, and that is what Simon is reacting to. At this time in his life, he needs a positive portray of gay lovers, who get a happy ending. As Jeff suggests, maybe they should have gone to see Maurice (If anywhere is still showing it).

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Another lovely chapter, Drew.

As first gay films go, Brokeback Mountain wasn’t a bad choice. A heavy film to be sure but one that lends itself to conversation over coffee afterwards. I don’t quite remember my first gay film but Get Real rings a bell. It’s My Party does as well but for entirely different reasons. (Unless you consider ugly crying a spectator sport, only watch it in private.)

Simon’s take on the film didn’t surprise me. He's got a fairly straightforward way of looking at things and sometimes glosses over the subtler details. It’s understandable he’d focus on the oppressive mood of the film over the underlying love story.

Love, Simon may have been more his speed. He and Jeff could see that together — you know, on their first date. I kept hoping Simon would turn his hand over and lace his fingers with Jeff’s. They’re already so cute together. If you ask me, it’s time to draw up the anchor, unfurl those sails, and send this ship off toward the horizon and its happy ending.

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Drew Payne

Posted (edited)

On 3/7/2020 at 3:35 AM, Danners said:

Another lovely chapter, Drew.

As first gay films go, Brokeback Mountain wasn’t a bad choice. A heavy film to be sure but one that lends itself to conversation over coffee afterwards. I don’t quite remember my first gay film but Get Real rings a bell. It’s My Party does as well but for entirely different reasons. (Unless you consider ugly crying a spectator sport, only watch it in private.)

Simon’s take on the film didn’t surprise me. He's got a fairly straightforward way of looking at things and sometimes glosses over the subtler details. It’s understandable he’d focus on the oppressive mood of the film over the underlying love story.

Love, Simon may have been more his speed. He and Jeff could see that together — you know, on their first date. I kept hoping Simon would turn his hand over and lace his fingers with Jeff’s. They’re already so cute together. If you ask me, it’s time to draw up the anchor, unfurl those sails, and send this ship off toward the horizon and its happy ending.

Thanks for your feedback, it does me so much good.

I think I picked Brokeback Mountain because it was the first gay film that came into my head at the time of planning this story, but looking back it was a good choice. It is the type of film that would still being seen in Art House cinemas, especially as a matinee showing. The majority of other gay films can only been seen on DVD, once their cinema run is over, and I wanted the four of them to see the film together, in a cinema. It also gave me the chance to have Simon asserting himself, saying that he didn't enjoy the film, not simply agreeing with his friends because that's what he thinks they want to hear.

Simon's reading of Brokeback Mountain is straightforward but he's only sixteen. When I re-watched the film, I tried to watch it through the eyes of a sixteen year old looking for positive gay role models, which the film certainly isn't. I could have gone into a lot about the homophobia in American culture driving so much of the film and its characters, but that would have been so wrong for Simon, he's just not at that level (I certainly wasn't at sixteen).

The first gay film I saw was Victim, starring Dirk Bogarde, and I was about Simon's age and it was shown on late night television. It blow my mind, but for all the wrong reasons. I was scared that that was what was in store for me as a gay man.

I have a special affection for Get Real. I saw the original production of the play it was adapted from, What's Wrong With Angry? It was such an angry and raw play, challenging institutional homophobia, with such a defiant ending. At the time, it was a theatrical breath of fresh air, and its lead who wasn't afraid of his sexuality.

As for Simon and Jeff going off on a date together? But they're just good friends, well that's what Simon keeps telling himself, but what does he know? He thought his first boyfriend Max was being honest with him.

My comments are a spoiler-free-zone, but I can give away one spoiler, I'm in the final phase of this story. There's only five more chapters left, and I hope people will like the ending, but we need to let Simon reach there himself. 

Edited by Drew Payne
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Marty

Posted (edited)

8 hours ago, Drew Payne said:

As for Simon and Jeff going off on a date together? But they're just good friends, well that's what Simon keeps telling himself, but what does he know? He thought his first boyfriend Max was being honest with him.

Ten chapters or so back we learned that Jeff's last relationship ended somewhat disastrously. His partner (Karl, if I remember correctly) was a year above him in the same college. I'm wondering if this is what's stopping Jeff from directly asking Simon for the date @Danners mentions below:

 

17 hours ago, Danners said:

He and Jeff could see that together — you know, on their first date.

My gut feeling is that Jeff is interested but feels that, should he ask Simon out, he might just be taking advantage of him for the few months that they would still be at college together. Also remember that Simon's already told the others that he doesn't know if he wants a boyfriend just yet...

We know Simon's interested in Jeff. The problem is that he's had no previous real-life experience in the dating game. He met Max through a dating app. He's only 16 and his only other experience of dating didn't go well at all. 

And Jeff's only 17, remember.

And they've really only known each other about 2 weeks.

Two boys: the older perhaps worrying the about taking advantage of the younger; the younger maybe feeling the older is simply out of his league. Will their hesitancy prevent them getting together? Will one of them finally say something?

Will they, won't they?

Who knows?

Well I don't know, anyway.

I suppose we could try asking the author, but he keeps telling us this is a no-spoiler-zone as far as his comments are concerned, so that wouldn't likely do us any good. ;) 

Oh! Before I forget... Are the gang ever going to go to Hades? And what about the planned trip to the Valeside LGBT youth group?

Edited by Marty
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Drew Payne

Posted (edited)

On 3/7/2020 at 8:47 PM, Marty said:

I suppose we could try asking the author, but he keeps telling us this is a no-spoiler-zone as far as his comments are concerned, so that wouldn't likely do us any good. ;) 

Oh! Before I forget... Are the gang ever going to go to Hades? And what about the planned trip to the Valeside LGBT youth group?

Oh. My. God (!!).

You so understand my characters, I'm lost for words.

My writing style is that I'm a planner. I like to work out who my characters are and where they are going before I start writing. I first write out the plan of a story before I start writing. Now the plan can change as I write, which this one certainly did (as I wrote this story the plan changed as the characters evolved, Simon's mum is a case in point), but the ending has always remained the same. I have spent a lot of time thinking about Simon and the other characters here, and I want them to behave realistically, as much as possible. This story is set over only four weeks, so it might seem that things are moving slowly but think about how things move in real life.

What I have tried hard here to do is always remind myself that Simon is only sixteen and is only starting out on his gay life. He isn't sophisticated and worldly wise (I hate fiction were teenagers and children behave like little adults, the unnaturally wise child is such a cliché), he met his first boyfriend online and even then didn't he realise Max was interested in him at first.

No spoilers but I don't want to set things up, earlier in a story, and then just ignore when I get to the end. Besides, the Vale Side Youth Group and Hades nightclub are far too good a chance to play around with the characters here and to write about who they are.

Edited by Drew Payne
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There is an awful lot in here to discuss, including a whole list of gay films and what people thought of them, in no order: Pride, My Beautiful Laundrette, Beautiful Thing, Another Country, yes, I like British films, but not exclusively.

The 1960's, Simon reckoned gay couples still lived together, it wasn't all depressing, but I think it was a pretty negative period. Homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967. Imagine living with another man and in the back of your mind knowing the police could burst through the door and arrest you, you could end up in prison! Even worse than thinking a nuclear bomb would wipe you out. That was the period, Vietnam War for the Americans, not great!

The touching arms in the cinema was very well done. I know from experience how a touch like that comes as a complete surprise, a revelation almost, and at sixteen you get an instant hard on. What's difficult is how do you handle that? I think Drew is doing a tremendous job in conveying these feelings, emotions, and inner turmoil. It could not be more real. And one reason it works so well, is because it's so simple and ordinary, touching arms and hands in a cinema. Brilliantly described.

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1 hour ago, Talo Segura said:

There is an awful lot in here to discuss, including a whole list of gay films and what people thought of them, in no order: Pride, My Beautiful Laundrette, Beautiful Thing, Another Country, yes, I like British films, but not exclusively.

The 1960's, Simon reckoned gay couples still lived together, it wasn't all depressing, but I think it was a pretty negative period. Homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967. Imagine living with another man and in the back of your mind knowing the police could burst through the door and arrest you, you could end up in prison! Even worse than thinking a nuclear bomb would wipe you out. That was the period, Vietnam War for the Americans, not great!

The touching arms in the cinema was very well done. I know from experience how a touch like that comes as a complete surprise, a revelation almost, and at sixteen you get an instant hard on. What's difficult is how do you handle that? I think Drew is doing a tremendous job in conveying these feelings, emotions, and inner turmoil. It could not be more real. And one reason it works so well, is because it's so simple and ordinary, touching arms and hands in a cinema. Brilliantly described.

Thanks for your feedback, again I blush but also it really helps my writing. I worry that what I want to say isn't coming across. I am also acutely aware that Simon is only sixteen and I need to give him a sixteen year old's view of life. I'm not sixteen and I need to keep remembering back to then to write this.

There were so many films I could have chosen and they would have created so many different reactions but I'm so happy with the reactions here, as I've said, it gave me the chance to move Simon's character forward.

I've been studying gay life in Britain in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Yes, being gay was illegal but during the 60s there were many gay couples who still lived together. Also, in the 1960s many men shared a home together for economic or social reasons, and two men living together weren't automatically seen as a gay couple. I've just been reading about two gay men, and Drag Queens, who lived openly together as a couple in the East End of London during the Second World War. As Drag Queens, they regularly entertained people during bombing raids and were accepted and celebrated by their local community. History is another country but it's also a complicated country that doesn't always behave the way we think it should.

The arm touching was a challenge to write, I wanted to make it realistic but not porn. I also wanted it as the opposite to how Simon was feeling about the film, to challenge him too. He isn't enjoying the film but he is enjoying the physical contact. I am so relieved that it all worked and you enjoyed it.

 

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Brokeback Mountain isn't a movie meant for young guys trying to get an idea about what it means to be gay. It's a movie made for straight people (particularly their moms) to make them understand how bad homophobia is, and how the expectations of society and 'traditional' values can destroy love and the lives of gay guys.

Simon's objections are valid and interesting, and it was good he felt confident enough to express them. But the most important part of going to the movie was sittting next to Jeff. Sadly, his reaction to Jeff's closeness and the hand holding did not lead to what we - and probably Jeff - hoped.

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56 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

Brokeback Mountain isn't a movie meant for young guys trying to get an idea about what it means to be gay. It's a movie made for straight people (particularly their moms) to make them understand how bad homophobia is, and how the expectations of society and 'traditional' values can destroy love and the lives of gay guys.

Simon's objections are valid and interesting, and it was good he felt confident enough to express them. But the most important part of going to the movie was sittting next to Jeff. Sadly, his reaction to Jeff's closeness and the hand holding did not lead to what we - and probably Jeff - hoped.

It was a fluke that I picked Brokeback Mountain but I'm glad I did because I was able do so much with Simon's reaction and show Simon moving forward in himself.

When I re-watched it, I was shocked at how negative and depressing the film was. There was so little joy in the lover's lives, they were so beaten down by all the homophobia around they and didn't even try to escape it. But I couldn't write about how I felt because I'm not Simon, I would have summed up that film so differently, I would have been questioning Hollywood's homophobia.

As for Jeff's hand-holding not leading to anything. Please remember, Simon is still very naive and he can't read other people. He's only sixteen.

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Timothy M.

Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, Drew Payne said:

IAs for Jeff's hand-holding not leading to anything. Please remember, Simon is still very naive and he can't read other people. He's only sixteen.

Oh, I'm not blaming Simon for not getting the hint or daring to believe Jeff is interested in him. but we can still be sad about it.

Edited by Timothy M.
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8 minutes ago, Timothy M. said:

Oh, I'm not blaming Simon for getting the hint or daring to believe Jeff is interested in him. but we can still be sad about it.

Thanks. That's nice.

It also does me good to hear that people care about my characters.

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Timothy M.

Posted (edited)

6 minutes ago, Drew Payne said:

Thanks. That's nice.

It also does me good to hear that people care about my characters.

You get the credit as author for convincing us to care about your characters. And I meant 'not getting the hint' of course - I've edited the comment.

Edited by Timothy M.
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11 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

You get the credit as author for convincing us to care about your characters. And I meant 'not getting the hint' of course - I've edited the comment.

Thank you, that means a lot to me. :)

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