Never Say Goodbye
Never say goodbye.
Never grow attached.
Keep cool, and alone.
Better this way.
He was alone now. Cool and detached. Hadn't said goodbye, to anyone.
He was also tied so tight he couldn't feel legs or arms anymore. How long has it been? Days. At least it felt like. Hunger was a pale flickering in his stomach, thirst was a cruel demon poking at his cracked lips. Smell...he didn't want to think about it. No light, whatsoever. Oh, but he was cool, was he? And miserably alone.
How long would it last? His estimate was getting mistier by the minute.
Not a glimpse of faith, in him. He wished he had said it. He wished he had said goodbye. At least to him. Where was he now? Searching the city, in a mad, bloody frenzy? Searching for him? Or maybe he had given up already. Maybe his mate was wallowing in drunken stupor, toasting his memory. Maybe he was crying. Maybe not. He couldn't remember. What were those last words they'd exchanged? Something terrible; something better left unsaid....
"I don't want to know!" he said again, stubbornly, determinedly. Cruelly.
"Bodie, it's important." Doyle pleaded softly, for once. Even more determinedly.
They were sitting in the car, a car parked oddly on the kerb after Bodie had abruptly pulled off the road.
It was dark, a world of their own inside the car, a world in which a lifetime of communion was shattering in front of them--all because one of them felt too much, wanted too much, asked too much.
Bodie's hands tightened on the steering wheel, his knuckles whiter than his face.
"I don't care. I don't want to know," he repeated, his personal mantra of the last hour. A vast hidden river of floating doubts was swallowing him inside, and in that coldness there was no space for anything else; and he was scared, scared as hell, scared of the dark all around them, scared of being so close to Ray and yet so far, far away. In a different world, another universe, strangers among themselves. Ray so close, so near, he could feel the heat of his body, the rustle of denim on soft skin, the warm scent of another day's work, spent risking their life once again...and the scent of blood. Blood that was rushing in their veins, giving them life, blood that someone else had lost, taking away the life from them. Blood smeared on their clothes, once more. Blood that could pound in his head, hurtfully, rhythmically, in a primeval call to get near his prey, to hunt and be haunted by memories and desires. His mantra kept him on the line, kept him alert, and he refused, once again.
"I don't want to know!" And suddenly, he knew Ray was going to talk again, to try and convince him. Ray was going to sweet-talk him into it, and he didn't want to, he didn't want to hear it again. Ray was smart, and bloody convincing, and once he had set his mind on something, nothing could stop him. Ray wouldn't let it go. Ray wouldn't. Ray was going to open his mouth, his broken tooth flashing in the dark, his voice a smooth, constant melody; hypnotic, forceful. Everyone said that Doyle could do everything with him. Everyone said that he was wrapped around Doyle's finger. He just knew that Ray was going to talk again and he didn't want to hear.
In a flash, the briefest moment of time, an invisible pause in the music of the world, he leaped out of the car, leaving the false, warm nest it represented....
...The pain was slowly receding.
His legs were still broken, he knew that.
No miracles for him.
The broken bones, the white splinters were there to see, if he wanted to. His body had been smashed and crushed, a toy to break for pleasure and business. Dark, dark, all was dark, and he would die happily sooner if he could just see a small, faint glimpse of light. The palest shade of blue would do, for him, or even a shallow grey. He didn't dare to wish for the pearlish pink of dawn, the delicate and soft yellow of hope.
No hope for him.
Dark his soul, as the dark of the anonymous walls around him, as the rough bricks that were becoming one with his broken back. The pain was receding, because mercifully, pitifully, life was slowly leaving him, easing him gently in a numbness devoid of the physical urgencies of his body, all liquids flushed and done away with, all spent voluntarily or involuntarily.
Even the cold was now a friendly presence, someone he could talk to, someone that was enfolding him in a creeping hug. It was as if arms were going around him, slowly and sweetly, whispering to him to surrender, to give in.
He hadn't yet. He hadn't given in to the kicks, to the baseball bat, to the chains. He hadn't given in to the drugs, even when he knew he was talking; even when he knew the questions were important, his words had had meaning only for him, and for those who loved him. He hadn't given in yet, because he wanted to remember first, something he hadn't done, something he had forgot, something that was important.
He hadn't said goodbye. Not properly, anyway. Not even in the letters, dismissed as a necessity, a formality you had to oblige with, without really believing in it. Formal, useless words to say something so intimate as goodbye forever. To those you loved, to those you cared and lived for, maybe. And died for, too. The silence and the cold were hugging him, making him wish for other hugs, other, longed-for, warm arms around him....
..."C'mon, touch me. You were more than eager just a moment ago. You've changed your mind?"
"No. No. I want you."
"Then move. I'm burning."
Hands frantically unzipping, undressing, mouths closed one on the other, lips crushed, tongues hungry and daring. It was dark, in the bedroom, but light was not a welcome guest in this meeting, an encounter born of tension and desire, and helped along with one too many drinks.
It had been badly needed, the alcohol, because after all was said and done, still what had come out of the daring bet, the silly jokes, the light mocking...well, it was something so scary, so frightening, something you didn't talk about, something you didn't even dare to whisper in the solitude of your mind.
It had started as many really important things start, as a joke. A word with more than one meaning. Then another. A hint. A glance. And slowly, slowly, it had become imperative. A need so strong it had crushed away all sensible thoughts, all ideas, all concerns about safety, everything. A force that was devastating them, their hunger for the other's naked skin wilder after each day, after each night, after each breath.
So they had come to this, suddenly, forcing the liquor down their throats with such avidity that it shone in their eyes, stalking each other with fury, like two snarling wolves circling one another, waiting for the first sign of defeat, the first crack in the walls.
Who was the weakest? The hungriest?
Who would be the one to get down on his knees and pray for it?
Who would be the first to beg for the lightest touch on the hypersensitive groin?
But in the end, it didn't really matter, because the hunger was all that counted, and they were both more than starving for each other.
"Suck me." It was not a request, not a plea, but a need, an absolute demand. "Suck me, c'mon, Bodie, do it. I want to put it in your mouth, want to fuck your mouth, Bodie, your beautiful mouth, want it...."
Kneeling was easy, shame and desire all tangled together in the sweating of passion. Bodie went on his knees and sucked, as if his life depended upon that act, as if he were drinking from the fountain of eternal youth or of infinite pleasure. Strong hands grabbed his head, pushing him closer, owning him, owning his soul. His tongue licked and caressed the hot, throbbing, swollen flesh, his lips around it as if it were the most precious thing in the world, a precious gift, that like the phoenix could only live and fly and happen and burn away in glory just once in a lifetime. Just once in their lifetime.
"That's it, Bodie...deep down in your throat...yeah...."
And then it was more, hands and fingers exploring, wanting, demanding, sheets and blankets thrown away in fury, because nothing, nothing was to come between their bodies. Hurting for being together, yearning for completeness with harsh cries of pleasure, they rubbed against each other, and then it was not enough, suddenly even that was not enough. Eyes stared into eyes, mute, astonished, not able to see clearly in the dark, but perfectly aware of the other, finely attuned as fingers of the same hand, knowing the question and what the answer would be.
"Fuck me, Bodie. Take me, do me...."
There was no time to consider, no time to judge if it was lust or more. The alcohol burning in their veins was a pale, spent flame compared to the heat that was burning their souls, consuming them from inside, blinding them to the pain and the sobs that would come. Ray spread his legs for him, but Bodie turned him, bent him, held him by his hips, and then rammed into him, hard and deep, again and again. Frenzied murmurs of delight and crude words tinted by the ravishing need, all followed one another, rolling away in the dark, deep secrets never to be shared again, never to be mentioned again, never to be again. Until it was too much, for both of them, until they could only hold to one another and ride the storm and the heat together, together lost....
...Time was running short.
He knew that. His body was sending signals to him, slow beatings of his heart, slower pulses in his veins, highways to his blood, which was now lost on his clothes. Which was now dried on his clothes. So, yes, he knew that time was running short; of the few things he remembered, of this one he was sure. It took a lot of time to die from a beating, and it took a lot of time for all the blood to flow away.
A chuckle escaped from his lips, painfully, swollen and bruised as they were. A rough coughing broke the chuckle. What was there to laugh about, he wondered. And then he knew that along with his life, his sanity was leaving him; that right in the last hours-minutes-seconds of his damned life, he was losing it. Yes, that made him laugh. Silently. The images came to keep him company: black ghosts from the past, blacker ones from the future, and pale, sickly white ones from the present. They all sat down around him, and he thought about begging, "please, untie me." But he knew better. Of all those ghosts, only a couple would have done it for him, only a couple. But they were ghosts from the present, so they were not really there, they came all from his mind. They couldn't help him. The others...those empty orbs fixed on him, those predator jaws gnawing in the darkness, waiting...now, you were expected to pay your debts, before dying. He knew that, and another thing he remembered; yes, he had lots of debts to pay for. Fear? No, he was far beyond fear. But regrets, he was full of those. In a body that he couldn't feel anymore, in a soul that was preparing to give in, only his heart kept on fighting, kept on wishing, kept on praying. Because there was something that was hurting him infinitely more than the crushed bones, something he was leaving unfinished, something that he wanted to remember, yet he knew that recalling was only going to hurt more, and then, then it would be time, time to go away. Forever, without saying goodbye....
...Bodie leaped out of the car, leaving it behind, trying to leave it all behind.
He heard a car door slamming shut, quick footsteps after him, and he broke into a run. The sound resonated in the dark alley, in the dark night, in the dark of their souls. It was too late, Bodie realised, and stopped running, just as Doyle's hands were reaching for him, grabbing and stopping him by sheer force. Close again, yet so far from each other, Bodie thought. And there was no way to run. No way, with Ray so damned close to him.
"Bodie, please. Listen." Doyle was so calm, so controlled, so determined.
Damn bloody fucking sod, he thought he knew it all, he had it all planned out, but where was he, Bodie, in the picture? Where was his say-so about the matter? He was not going to listen, Bodie decided. Not going to, simple as that.
"I said, Ray, I don't want to hear it."
"It will work. Even if you feel like that about it, well, I'll work it out, I promise."
"It's wrong!" Bodie exploded, voice as shaken as his soul.
"No, it's not! And you know it!"
But words, words, were not enough. Words were only sounds, and in the dark, sounds could come from deceitful mouths, from twisted souls. In the dark, they couldn't see each other, they could only feel themselves, one trying to reach out, the other avoiding the pain and the fear.
Was it so difficult to accept love?
Was it so easy to refuse it?
And yet again, they were circling around one another, one too eager, the other too rational, and words, only words, were between them.
Or against them.
Maybe, if one of them had been brave enough to kiss the other...but there was no moon, and no lamp light, and only dark secrets trapped inside, building up a spiked wall made of fear and turning it into rage, and furious words.
One of them did reach out, at last, but it was with a fist, after an insult born of pain.
Another blow came from anguish, and another from fear. One more from rejection, and another from misunderstanding.
And then, more of them, one after another, fast and hard, from confusion and delusion and loss.
For what it could be, and one of them wouldn't allow to be.
For what it could be, and one of them was afraid to lose.
For what it could be, and both of them were fighting for it.
For a fight it had been, between men trained to kill. Which they didn't, no, not each other, but worse, so much worse. The bruises were flaunted and unaccounted for, ignored and silently cared for. Questions were side-stepped, glances frozen and curiosity shattered by hostile silence. But there were no more words. And then, it seemed it was too late....
...And too late, he remembered.
Too late, because now there was no time left to do what he should have done since the beginning.
Saying goodbye properly.
To those he had been afraid of, and those he had hated. To those he had hurt and run away from. To those he had cared for and those he had loved.
The ghosts in the dark were moving closer, looming over him. And he thought he could hear them shifting along the heavy weight of his sins, because he was sure there were many of those. And he was sure that he was going to carry them on his shoulders for eternity and more. But one sin, one alone finally stood so bright in his mind, sparkling like the fiery eyes that he remembered so well, now.
The one and only sin he really regretted frightened away even the ugliest of ghosts, and shattered his heart in a thousand pieces.
The one awful sin that no past dark soul wanted to carry and give to him. Because it hurt so much, so that his soul was yelling and screaming all the way to where it was going, craving and crawling and crying, and yes, begging, he was begging and pleading and imploring, that he be given a last chance, a couple of minutes, a flicker of time, to make it right before fading away in the dark. A chance to not lose his soul forever. To not be alone forever.
When the agents found him, it was too late. His body was cold, and had been for days. Raymond Doyle sat on the floor, in the small stinking cellar where Bodie had been held and left to die alone.
He sat there long after the body had been taken away, long after Cowley had tried talking to him, long after Murphy had sat silently just outside the door, waiting for him.
Doyle just sat there, eyes empty, soulless.
And then, a dancing beam of light penetrated the dark room from outside, freed by those who had come too late, and in anguish had opened doors and windows to see what was left.
And he saw it.
Doyle imagined the finger tracing the words in the dirt: uncertain, trembling, painfully, laboriously, dipping in his own drying blood for ink, searching the heart for words. Doyle imagined the aching hand, twisting against the ropes, straining obediently to accomplish the task.
Doyle wept, silently, feeling Bodie's love coming to him in huge waves, waves in which he was drowning, waves that sheltered him from the pain and the anger, forever.
The dancing ray of sun bent to kiss the mud and the dirt, and the letters lovingly written with blood glimmered in the light.
-- THE END --
Originally published in Roses and Lavender 3, Allamagoosa Press, October 1999