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by Charles Lacey

Chapter 5

After I lost Jay, I didn't want to risk another heartbreak, so I didn't look for any other guys. Eventually I met one who was a couple of years older than me. Matt was very good looking and a real sexual thrill. We were together on and off for about eight years, but he was, shall we say, a serial heartbreaker. I'd left school – with some good A-levels, went to university, and landed a job in, of all things, an auction house. Eventually I gave Matt the push, he'd let me down too many times, playing away. And I thought, I'll just keep my options open. I went to a gay club in Brum from time to time and usually found one or two playmates. But nothing serious. I'd left home and was living in a little flat in Aston, though I usually visited my parents once or twice a week.

Then the auction house I worked for sent me to London with some small items of jewellery which needed to go to their head office, they were reckoned too valuable to sell in Brum, so they were to go to the London house. I had them in a briefcase, very ordinary looking but with a secret chain from the handle up my wrist. Getting off at Euston I remembered meeting Jay, as I always did when coming to London, and wondered how he was getting on. I thought about that wonderful afternoon we had spent in his bedroom in London, and then the second one where we had to leave quickly.

I delivered the briefcase to the London office, which was just off Piccadilly, and thought, well, while I'm in London let's have a look round. So I stepped into Green Park and walked along a bit, and spotted a man sitting on his own on a bench. He was well dressed but looked somehow hangdog. I looked again and thought, don't I know you? And then it hit me. It was Jay. He looked older, and somehow defeated, as if he'd been having a seriously bad time. As indeed it turned out he had.

I went up to him and said, Jay? He looked at me, and his eyes opened wide as they had that first time we met. He hesitated and then said Drew, can it be you? What are you doing here? Oh, I said, I am only here on business. But what has happened to you?

I sat next to Jay, and wanted to put an arm round him, but thought I'd better not as I was sure he would have a boyfriend. He told me that after being expelled from Uppingham he had been sent to a tutor in Surrey, and then to one in Switzerland. His father had beaten him several times, but he'd his revenge by having an affair secretly with the tutor in Switzerland. I knew Jay and his Dad didn't get on that well, but I was shocked. My parents never hit me, even when I did something seriously bad.

It turned out that after coming back from Switzerland his Dad thought he'd been "cured" of being homosexual and produced a string of "suitable" (i.e. upper class, rich or both) girls for him to choose from. Eventually he married one, his second cousin, and they settled down to life together. Jay hadn't been to university, his father thought there would be too many temptations, so he got a job in the family business, and they bought a small house in a place called Fulham.

But Jay found sex with Emily very difficult. He said that he could only get a usable erection by fantasizing about a boy. Before long, their sex life more or less ceased. Emily started nagging, and in order to cope Jay started drinking. He was also getting casual sex from time to time when the pressure of married life got too much for him. But the guilt that this induced made him drink even more, and then one night when he was plastered he let out that he'd had sex that day with a man.

Well, that was the end of that marriage. Emily slept in the spare room from then on, and the next day went to her solicitor to start divorce proceedings. Poor Jay had a very sticky interview with his dad. He was too big to beat by then, but everything else went to the same pattern as before. He wrote to Emily's solicitors to say that yes, he had had various homosexual encounters and no, he was not going to contest the divorce, and as far as he was concerned she could have the house, but he'd no money. And then he went on a spectacular bender, boozing heavily and, when he was sober enough, grabbing sex where he could find it.

Eventually he ended up in hospital suffering from malnutrition, ulcers, exposure and chronic alcohol poisoning. Fortunately he was seen by a sympathetic doctor who arranged for him to go to a specialist hospital to be "dried out". And now, here he was, sober, unemployed, living in a house he was likely to lose when the divorce came through, and with zero prospects of improvement. He had no degree, no qualifications and only the dole to live on.

He told me all this, sitting on that bench in Green Park. We sat in silence for a while, then I said, let's get a coffee and a bite to eat. So we went to a little cafe in a side street off Piccadilly, and I told him a bit about what I'd been doing since we last met. And all the time I was thinking, I can't let this go on, I have to do something, if only for old time's sake. And then I saw his sweet brown eyes, still with those beautiful long lashes, but looking so sad and lonely. I said, very softly, "Jay, you were my first love, and I still think the world of you. Come back to Brum with me."

He looked at me for a long moment, then he said, "Drew, do you really mean it? After what I did to you, are you still prepared to help me?"

So we went to Euston and caught the train back to New Street, and it was as if ten years rolled back all in a day. Jay slept on the sofa for a couple of nights, while I got my head around having him back. And then on the third evening, we were having a meal together, and he said, "Your cooking is as good as I remember your Mum's." Something broke into little pieces in my chest, and I said, "Do you still think my arse is as nice as it was, too?"

When we'd finished eating I went to wash up the dishes, and Jay dried them, and then suddenly our arms were around each other, and our lips met, and ten years were gone, and we were teenagers again, in love for the first time, and before long we were together in my bed, and I realised that even Matt, fond though I had been of him, was as nothing to me in comparison with Jay. He was still my one beloved and there was no-one else in the world I wanted. We'd been meant to be together from the start, and it was a cruel fate that had kept us apart. Well, actually it wasn't just fate, it was his mistake in shagging another boy at school, and his father's cruelty, and my timidity in not going to find him, and society's prejudice against homosexuals, and a dash of sheer bad luck.

Well, we are together again now, permanently. He is my man, and I am his. We're sad that we can't actually be married, but we are going to have a civil partnership as soon as it's legal. Hopefully not too long now.

Jay couldn't find a job, but he's studying full time at the University, and we are sure that he will find something once he's qualified. Once a week we go to my parents' house for dinner, and once a week they come to the flat. They weren't sure what to think when I told them that I had found Jay again, but once they had met him again they were happy to accept him as one of the family.

And as for me? Well, I found the love of my life when I was fourteen, and lost him, and found him again. That makes me luckier than most.

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