athens7 as Jack (font: Courier New)
and mazaher as Patrick (font: Verdana)
Needing, wanting, searching
Jack leaves, Jack goes to Patrick (Jack’s POV)
stand. I walk out. The heavy door closes on my back and sheer panic sets
upon me, as if the quiet creaking of the hinges rotating upon themselves
released a catch in my mind, and the significance of everything that
happened this night rushes out, hitting me so hard that my lungs feel
What shall I do? What will become of me?
But, on second thought, who cares? The real question is (is it not),
what will he do?
I can’t think about it, not now. I feel tired. I need to sleep.
Dawn feels so unnatural and eerie, here in London. This silence is not a
natural state, and it scares me. I want to see people, I need to hear
voices. I need to know that, despite everything, life carries on.
can’t let him go. I can’t. There must be a way to make him accept me
again. He must take me back, for both of our sakes.
Why all these doubts, then? What is this fear of failure?
I have always prided myself on the fact that I know him, I know
him, like no-one else in this world. Even during all those years spent
apart, the almost religious certainty that I had done the right thing,
letting him leave, because I understood what he wanted, needed, better
than he did himself, was the only thing that actually kept my
mind functioning and my body moving along its pre-established patterns.
As long as I know that he is safe, I can take everything.
But now, to have this sense of doubt growing inside me, that maybe my
actions have hurt him or worst, have contributed to his isolation... Oh
Lord no, don’t make me think about these things. It is too much. I’ll go
mad if I think about it. I can’t. I can’t.
January ends and February arrives, and Spring feels closer. It is time
to stand in the light again.
I’m engaged in my daily shaving routine, when I see something flicker in
my reflected eyes. And it’s that fateful night all over again, and
Patrick is looking at me, and I know. I remember.
The hand holding the sharp blade hesitates, stops, and for today the
lonely tuft of hair under my lower lip is spared.
“Sir, I must protest! You know as well as I do
that this is highly irregu-– “
By the time the attendant at the Diogenes Club manages to finish
his protest I’m in the reading room.
Insolently ignoring the deadly glares addressed in my direction from the
almost entirety of the occupants, I hastily scan the hall, searching for
the only pair of eyes that could ever have any chance to kill me.
A-ha. There he is.
He most probably did not notice a thing, as his chair faces the wall
opposite the entrance.
I cross the few feet between us, and lean over the back of the seat
until my mouth almost brushes his hair.
(Contrary to the poor butler’s beliefs, I’m totally able to recall the
rules of this place, especially when they provide me with a perfect
excuse for stealing a caress without suspicion.)
“Sir, I am mortified for interrupting your readings, but your presence
is urgently requested elsewhere” I murmur.
I’m positive there would never be enough pounds in all the Empire to buy
a photograph of his expression when he hears the words and realises who
is speaking them.
He straightens from his languid sprawl with a jerk that could be
described only as comical (yes, I’m talking about my Patrick!), almost
dropping his journal to the floor; he turns around, and the catch
in his breath is a sound sweeter than any greeting or melody.
A lifetime would not suffice to analyse the mercurial behaviour of his
eyes. When he’s angry or focused or simply in one of his meditative
moods, they deepen until reaching the same soul-shattering, promising
shade of the sky right before dawn. But on those rarest times when he
allows himself to feel surprise or pleasure, they widen and brighten
like a blooming bud and I can get a glimpse of the innocent child he
once was and I never had the chance to meet.
This is the look he’s bestowing upon me, and if I had any doubts left
about the righteousness of my decision, by now they are thin dew
evaporating with the first rays of morning.
He opens his mouth but no sound comes out, so he soon closes it.
I press my forefinger against my lips in mute command, and wink towards
He nods, just once, and stands.
As soon as we are in the entrance hall, and so exempted from the vow of
silence, the attendant approaches me again.
“Do not be so upset, Jeeves” I smile amiably, cutting him off, “I got
what I came for and now I’m leaving.”
And now we are out, standing on the footsteps, inhaling fog and evening
A heartbeat passes, two.
Then, “I... I am afraid you have just gained me expulsion from one of
London’s most respectable clubs” he murmurs, staring at the tips of his
polished boots, coat and hat hanging loosely from his hands.
I can’t help it. I start laughing, loud and unstoppable.
Because, no matter what happens to us, how badly we lash out at each
other every time, in the end it is all reduced to this, is it not? To
this fundamental clash of personalities and self-imposed barriers and
unsolved repression of feelings.
We are two little, pathetic hedgehogs, that cannot survive through the
winter of this unrelenting existence without the other’s presence, and
cannot avoid hurting one another with their sharp spines.
After all this time, one would think we should have learned to
accept it already; to stop floundering around so fearfully and go with
Who knows. Maybe we will get there, some day.
The newly-found prospect fills my heart with such bittersweet
anticipation that I can almost taste it on my tongue, in the back of my
throat, like the remnants of a bite of dark chocolate.
“And I am as much afraid that I feel no remorse about my actions” I
reply at last, shrugging and slipping my hands in my trousers’ pockets
in a carefree pose refined through years of practice.
“You don’t need this place of self-indulgent misanthropy anymore” I add,
looking at him. “From now on, whenever you feel that your disgust with
this world is too much to contain, you will come to me.”
“It should prove to be an easy task for you, my dear personal Atlas.”
“Now, is that supposed to be a compliment? No, don’t answer, it is of no
importance. What I wanted to say is... Shall we go home?”, and I offer
him my elbow.
“I... I had assumed we were waiting for a cab”.
Great Scott, my appearance must have shocked him indeed. Since when has
he become so obliging?
“A daily dose of deambulation is good for the circulation, you know.
Besides,” and I make sure he’s seeing through the mask as I say these
next words “this way you can sneak away whenever you want.”
He smiles, slowly but confidently; grabs my forearm, his touch sliding
sure and strong over the fabric of my coat.
“Checkmate” he whispers, probably more to himself than me.
And now we are standing in my study, the sixty-year old pendulum clock
on my desk ticking away the seconds and our fading uncertainties.
We face each other. Our eyes meet.
This is the moment for truth.
In Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Greek Interpreter
the Diogenes Club is described
by Sherlock Holmes to
Dr. John Watson
as containing the “most
unsociable and unclubbable men in town”, with the further caveat that
“no member is permitted to take the least notice of any other one. Save
in the Strangers’ Room, no talking is, under any circumstances, allowed,
and three offences, if brought to the notice of the Committee, render
the talker liable to expulsion”. Sherlock’s brother Mycroft is also
mentioned as member and co-founder.
Tearing down the barrier,
one layer at a time