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stranger

Sometimes…

thoughts can be just too delicious…

8am
graham called out
“naith
i’m goin’ now”

from somewhere deep in the house
probably the kitchen

“see ya”

graham picked up his brief case and headed out

feeling good

pushed the screen door open and smiled as the warm spring air hit
temperature 26c
he’d put his tie on when he got to the office

outside

perfumed honey suckle draped across the rusting bull-nose veranda permeated the yard

undid another button on his shirt
wanted to feel the breeze over his body

threw a wave at the old lady next door

remembered his lunch
‘fuck!’
it was an effort to go back
he put the case down and headed to the kitchen

nathan was there
as expected
in his jocks
leaning over the sink

graham spoke
“why don’t you just leave those”
the words sounded tired and betrayed annoyance

“i’ll do them when i get home”

didn’t mean it of course
just knew that he had to say something for the moment
nathan was slow to respond
a bad sign

without looking up
“it’s OK… i’ve got time, you just go to work”

arguments often erupted over the household division of labour
one or the other not pulling their weight around the place

today it was passive aggression
and graham’s turn to cop it

no verbal sting
but the signs were there
no eye contact
short replies
the screaming silence

exasperation palpable
“goodbye nathan”
stepping out words like knives

walked back out the front
his mood had dropped markedly by this time
he picked up his briefcase and headed for the bus

on the hard wooden slat bench
looked at his watch
looked around

good
alone at last

he stared into space hoping to get into a better zone in his head
too early for the bus but…
‘better here than home’

he sat transfixed on the vacant bench at the bus stop across the road

without realizing
his eyes focused on a stranger who now sat opposite him

he was startled by the guy’s looks

‘fuck!’

one glimpse and he was hooked
‘probably straight
but Jesus what a face!’

graham looked away

GUILTY!!!!

‘if I turn back now
you’ll probably catch me looking
you’ll know I wanna fuck you’

graham felt desire exposed him
made him vulnerable
the weight of it
spurred him to question his own logic

‘how would he know what I am thinking if I just glanced in his general direction?’

he felt stupid
‘because i’d be staring that’s why!’
he’d remembered how a straight guy once mentioned to him that
“you could tell a poofter by the eye contact.…it’s all in the eyes”

searching

graham wanted to look again

thoughts of nathan were now completely dismissed
he chanced another look
ran his eyes over the stranger
even from a distance he liked what he saw

he was intrigued by the strangers slouch

‘gotta be straight!
wonder what this guy looks like without clothes?’

several naked images flashed by
a car horn broke his train of thought
he glanced at his watch
10 minutes

his focus meandered back to nathan
skimmed first date images
movie

dinner

sex

a standard date
nothing unexpected
the sex wasn’t exceptional and 10 years on still together

loneliness always lingered close to the surface for graham

loneliness had driven him onto the gay scene in the first place

anger too

didn’t fit the straight world

fuck a women
make a family
it’s your job young man!!!

didn’t feel right about fucking strangers from gay bars either

he pictured having his own kids
a lazy sunday
a park
kicking a ball

thought dismissed…… ‘impossible!’

graham’s heart sighed for missed opportunities

10 years

why didn’t he feel complete?

this thought unhinged him
graham felt sure there was an answer lurking somewhere
just had to uncover it’s hiding place
the question had burned a million times over
again he felt anger boiled inside
‘why don’t I belong?’

tension lapsed, he countered and chuckled to himself
’what’s belonging mean anyway?

surely i’m not so different?

to be understood, that’s all!’

emptiness

he ran his eyes back over the stranger
studied the way he impatiently looked at his watch
then back to oncoming traffic

graham understood impatience too well
an affinity?
he knew he was clutching at straws now

emptiness drove graham’s life these days
it seemed of the utmost importance to believe that someone else on the planet could understand him intimately

he felt desperate for approval
and wrestled himself for an answer

the stranger stood up
walked over to the yellow bus stop pole and leaned a shoulder against it
checked his watch

graham noticed the stranger looked tall and gangly
he liked that
nathan was shorter than graham

‘nathan doesn’t really know me’

he knew he had changed whilst with nathan
but didn’t know for better or worse

or which of them caused it?

he hated to admit it
but good or bad
he was scared to lose nathan

he desperately searched for an anchor
just couldn’t think of any at the moment
instead
recycled scenarios – petty arguments
in abundance

graham fought to preserve himself in arguments
for a split second he pondered naithan’s view
‘did nathan do that to too?’

again the dirty dishes

graham let go of any control of his thoughts and imagined…

rushing at nathan
overpowering him
choking him
watching him lose oxygen
change colour

graham tried to shake the images from his head by focusing on the stranger
but dived back in for more

there he was
standing over a blue fitting body
screaming full voice
‘fucking get off my back you cunt!’
tears streaming

he rewoke startled
and tried to focus on the stranger

the day had begun so well too!

graham looked up
azure blue
white streaks in the distance

he tried to deny murderous thoughts but couldn’t
they were just too intriguing…

saliva dribbling from the corner of nathan’s mouth
shocked dying eyes looked up at him

an even more viscous thought took hold

nathan

standard pose

in jocks
kitchen sink
getting a drink

angrily telling graham it was his turn to do the dishes

(why they didn’t just get a dishwasher I will never know)

in an instant
graham caught a paring knife from the kitchen table

screamed like a banshee

‘fuckin’ bastard’

lunged the knife towards nathan’s abdomen
nathan’s entire body convulsed fear then pain
no time for defense
nathan feebly lifted a hand in protest
…and whispered

‘…no…’

the knife connected
efficiently parting skin
intestines spilled out
blood sprayed them both
pain crushed nathan to the floor
he grabbed wildly at his intestines

(hoping to put them back i s’pose)

writhing
until his life force passed

nathan pissed himself

dead

in a pool of piss and blood…

graham jumped

physically

he looked around
anyone notice?

two old women sitting next to him
both layered in black

the closest
clutching beads
and crucifix
their language – gibberish to graham

instantly
and in perfect english
‘someone walk over your grave?’
the closest woman offered

nathan dead
witches
i must be tripping!

the other leaned forward to scrutinize him

‘maybe’ – he replied
raven’s – he thought

wiped sweat from his forehead and top lip
‘warm today don’t you think?’
the woman continued
yeah
he managed, in a tone designed to dissuade her from any further communication

breathe

’i’ve gone too far
it’s only thoughts’

graham tried in vain to comfort and protect himself from the crime scene
‘jesus!
could I ever really do something like that?’

police hovering
graham slumped in a corner of the kitchen
questions flying
sobbing – he would feebly offer

‘he made me do it…’

men in uniforms everywhere
ambulance
police

flash photos
every angle
indiscernible voices
the stench of piss and blood

…hanging

and nathan

like meat

graham looked around

daylight

bus stop

ravens

nathan ok

…relief

the stranger back on the bench now
uncrossed his legs
shifted a backpack between his feet
graham strained to see the shape of the bulge between his legs
trousers too loose
damn

the stranger looked directly back at graham

‘shit’

graham quickly overcompensated and looked down the street

’damn…

sprung’

graham waited for a few seconds then looked in a window directly behind the stranger at shop mannequins
the stranger looked back to see if graham was still watching him

‘see…
i wasn’t looking at you!’
justified thoughts

graham feigned interest in the mannequins
graham wanted to keep his thoughts out of the realms of the dark and strange
keep them in the here and now
he strained to make out the colours of the mannequin’s clothes
dark
drab
patterns from the 50’s

it was an old charity shop he and nathan enjoyed perusing from time to time for vintage finds

graham noticed the paint peeling from around the window and wondered if he and nathan should offer to repaint

he’d tell naith they should offer tomorrow

the exchange of rings
‘why did I do it?’
pressure most likely
graham mocked the ceremony

‘i graham…
solemnly declare that i will stay monogamous until my dick falls off with boredom
…so help me god’

it seemed farcical now
how embarrassed he felt having a straight couple there
political correctness and all
they were friends of nathan’s
all that pleading!
but nathan was adamant they were to witness ‘the act’
graham thought of the words ‘the act’
freudian slip?
well
it sure felt like an act
it set the tone

graham chided himself

what about this guy sitting opposite him now?

bet he’s got a wife and kids.
a little family
picture perfect
sundays tending their garden
man
wife
kids
it spoiled the image he wanted to create

the stranger makes an excuse
‘gotta walk the dog now honey…
won’t be too long’

then nicks off to see graham for fast impersonal sex

‘yeah!’

bodies together
the warmth of the stranger’s naked skin pressed against him
kissing hard
desperate
graham imagined their eyes locked together
unspoken words
’i’m gonna fuck you now’
graham felt movement in his groin
side glance
the ravens
he crossed his legs

an affair
what if he caught a disease?
he’d have to tell nathan
‘fuck!’

didn’t work last time

lusting over a guy from the next office for months

they finally spoke at a local pub work christmas party
his voice – so wrong
fantasy shattered

how could he tell nathan if he brought home a disease?
too hard
then wickedly he thought
why not blurt it out!
‘hun…
we gotta talk’

and while nathan reeled
casually throw in
‘he never really meant anything to me hun!’
in his best marilyn monroe breathy voice

more absurdity
a shrug of the shoulders and
‘oops…
sorry…
but I might have given you something!…
my bad’
as he skipped out the door

graham chuckled to himself
remembered the women next to him
resumed the glazed look

graham didn’t really want to hurt nathan
and wondered if he could really go through with an affair and then stay with nathan?
‘could nathan do it?
nah!’
he disparaged
‘naith wouldn’t do that’

he thought of nathan’s excitement over jerry lewis movies
especially – visit to a small planet
graham hated that movie
hated jerry lewis for that matter
but somehow it was comforting to see that in nathan
he remembered times nathan made breakfast in bed
toast and coffee
too much margarine
‘yuk’

connection!
he remembered walking up behind nathan when he was shaving over the bathroom sink
pushed him forward into the mirror with one hand
with the other hand
gently reaching around
getting him hard
and slowly wanking him
‘oh yeah!’

graham remembered smelling soap as he planted light lingering kisses across nathan’s back

that was nice
graham shifted uncomfortably on the bench
cautiously eyeing the ravens
hoping they didn’t notice

peter

a previous partner
what a bastard he’d turned out to be
graham had called to his god in a dark ravenous moment
‘all I want…
is a fucking stable relationship…
with a stable man!…
is that so fuckin’ hard?’

the joke was on him now
graham had that and still wasn’t happy
his mood darkened deepest
was it even possible to find happiness with men?
the religious bigotry he was pummeled with as a child
gave credence to these thoughts as a divine punishment for being gay

he fought it

then nathan
graham’s thoughts thrashed the extremes
10 years
still not sure
hollywood movie romance
somehow he felt ripped off

friday night dvd
predictable
comfortable

chasing nathan through the house naked with the vacuum cleaner hose
pretending to have an elephants trunk
they had rolled around the kitchen crying with laughter for ages

same kitchen floor he had used minutes ago to create a blood splattered canvas

5 minutes till the bus
exhausted
and a full day ahead

and his day had started off so well too!

on the other side of the road the bus collected the stranger
graham watched

the man entered
scanned his ticket
the bus lurched
the stranger fought to steady his steps
half running to the rear within the momentum

graham watched as he made a grab for one of the poles that connect to the seats
the force swung him around and sat him down in one unstoppable motion

the bus pulled away from view

well that was a fucking draining exercise in self abuse!

graham’s bus came into view
he stood to hail it
the reality of now

’better ring naith from work

just…to say…’

distraction

connection

Currently unavailable for purchase



I wrote and published this piece in 1998, it seems fitting to revise it and present it to a wider audience given the world has changed significantly since then.

please be warned- this piece is not for the faint of heart

but i do believe it is fundamental to all relationships. Thoughts can get way out of hand for anyone. Thoughts can capture even the most humble and sedate of us and take us to darkest of places in the blink of an eye. Not autobiographical in content but my mind is a whirligig place, I guess that happens with creative types, we think too much.

Comments

  • butchart
    butchartover 6 years ago

    wow……….. a whole life here…. excellent writing…. i was graham… i was naith…. i was the stranger across the street…. the knife….. and the dvd…………………. beautiful chris………….b

  • Christopher Birtwistle-Smith
    Christopher Bi...over 6 years ago

    b thanks so much
    you know i appreciate your comments well i hope you do,
    i personally am glad to get rid of it,
    I have so much more to write now,
    3 novels in the works but havent touched them since 1999,
    so baby steps it is
    this place is a great place to test myself pll c xx

  • eXposure
    eXposureover 6 years ago

    absolutely brilliant read … had me the whole way through!
    wow fantastic work

  • thank you so much eXp, i was thinking this might alienate a big bunch of people yet i think we all have the propensity to let our thoughts, fears and doubts run away with us, your comments mean a lot to me and encourage me to write from the heart. xx

    – Christopher Birtwistle-Smith

  • handprintz
    handprintzover 6 years ago

    Gay or straight l think most can put themselves into this scenario somewhere! Great read Chris,wonderful work………….T

  • thank you T i am so pleased you took the time to read this, I am testing my wings here, baby steps for me, but just knowing that some people like yourself understand what i am trying to say means i am bursting to get into more writing. your comments are appreciated more than you can imagine! xx

    – Christopher Birtwistle-Smith

  • handprintz
    handprintzover 6 years ago

    Definately keep at it Chris it had me in and could relate on so many levels,beautifully done!

  • thank you so much Trudi, my writing is where i think i take my biggest risks, I am very glad you could relate to it, i think we all suffer the little rollercoasters we set off in our heads and mostly thanks for your encouraging words. c

    hey and ive even worked out how to reply properly now LMAO!

    – Christopher Birtwistle-Smith

  • Sally Omar
    Sally Omarover 6 years ago

    Chris, An excellent piece…I truly enjoyed it…this so clearly indicates all relationships…straight
    or gay…Sally xxxooo

  • thank you so much for taking the time to read my work here Sally, I really appreciate your encouragement and open mindedness! c

    – Christopher Birtwistle-Smith

  • Jaybe
    Jaybeover 6 years ago

    Wow Chris……I think many of us have been in a Graham and Naith situation and have never had the guts to spill our thoughts. Bravo! This applies to all sexes, all sexual preferences….and certainly makes me think….thankyou…..

  • thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment j, i really appreciate the encouragement, its comments like these that make me want to take more risks with what i write.
    c xx

    – Christopher Birtwistle-Smith

  • chasingsooz
    chasingsoozover 6 years ago

    Intriguing, rivetting writing.

  • thank you so much cs, i am just starting to feel my passion for writing return after many years. words of encouragement like you have written here, give me such a thrill, that my work resonates in some way with people. makes me feel i could write the moon! ….c xx

    – Christopher Birtwistle-Smith

  • Colleen Milburn
    Colleen Milburnover 5 years ago

    Wonderful writing, Christopher – I was in your moment the whole time. Honest, raw, vulnerable. Well done, indeed! :))

  • thank you so much colleen, i had to re read this before getting to your comment, i wrote this over 10 years ago, i have just started a second draft of a novel i wrote at the same time, a friend has recently read it and she is the first person to read it for me, she said she couldnt put it down. long story short, your comment here means a lot while i am trying to convince myself to go forward with my novel.

    – Christopher Birtwistle-Smith

  • Colleen Milburn
    Colleen Milburnover 5 years ago

    You’re most welcome, Chris – it was a fanastic read, superbly written – all the best with your novel! :)))

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