We kidnap him, me and the two Polish bouncers. They’re big guys, 6’3″, maybe more, and broad, chests like fucking barrels, and we shove the little guy into the back of the van, just him there with the two bouncers, and me up front at the wheel, and we keep heading East. The plan was that I’#d drive the two bouncers back to their place in Walthamstow. So we’re on our way there from The Pit in Shoreditch – where we work – and we spot this little guy walking home, or wherever, alone on the street, so we pull up and Polish Guy #1 grabs him up and throws him into the back of the van. I can hear him whimper, so Polish Guy #2 picks him up, the little guy’s feet dangling in the air, and the other guy punches him in the stomach, just like that, bam, and the guy howls like a fucking animal, like his insides have been ripped out. Beautiful. I almost miss the fucking green light, so I speed up and we’re heading for somewhere quiet. The Poles have this place they sleep in on some fucking industrial estate in Walthamstow. We’re sticking to the plan. It’s four in the morning.
“Please let me go,” the guy says.
I’m barking at him.
The Polish Guys laugh and slap the little guy across his face, one slap each; you’d think they fucking rehearsed this shit. Wack. Wack.
“That’s better,” I say.
“Please,” the little guy says.
He can’t be more than 5’4″, more or less a fucking midget, but his body is lean and slim and he has that cute floppy blonde hair and the kind of face that makes you think he hardly ever shaves. He can’t be more than thirty, but with a body that hasn’t changed since the guy was fifteen, probably. Polish Guy #2 takes off his top. It’s the beginning of summer and the evenings are warmer now and it’s fucking boiling in the van. We keep the windows closed for obvious reasons. He grabs the little guy’s head and brings it to his nipple; it’s one of those big red fleshy nipples, and his chest has this mat of dark brown hair all over it. Most Polish guys are smooth – and Polish Guy #1 is – but this guy is more like a Vulcan model. Polish Guy #1 is more of a Bel Ami porn star whose got in with the rough crowd, and now works out like crazy, and generally doesn’t give a fuck who he fucks. The thing is, sometimes, when he’s alone and you catch him off guard, not trying to be with hard bouncer he’s paid to be, the guy is fucking beautiful. But he knows how to fight and he knows how to cause pain, so he takes the little guy by his arse and fucking lifts him in the air, but the little guy’s not letting go of the hairy Pole’s tit.
“You like that, don’t you?” I say. “We fucking own you now, you cunt. Three fucking cocks you’re going to get, one after the other, two evil fucking Polish cocks and this big fucking hairy cock, we’re going to fuck you till you bleed, boy. You’re going to suck your own blood off our cocks. We’re going to fuck you and leave you there, boy.”
The Polish guys give me the thumbs up.
“Strip him,” I say.
“I’m just a little guy,” he says. “Please,” he says. “Don’t hurt me.”
Polish Guy #1 grabs him and pulls him to him and holds his face up to his own face and spits at him then takes his one hand away from the guy’s face and punches him, just like that, smash, in his fucking nose. It’s so fucking unexpected I want to come on the spot.
“You’re a piece of shit, boy,” I say. “That’s what you need to learn.”
I can see all this in the rear-view mirror. I can see the muscles stand out on the smooth Polish guy’s chest. I can smell them both. I know that smell. We’ve been working together for a couple of months now. These guys don’t wash on a regular basis, unless you call once or twice a week regular. It’s the smell of sweat and filth and a bit of aftershave, and the smell of unwashed cocks that like to fuck and jerk off. And the little guy’s going to suck them. Two fucking uncut stinking Polish cocks.
But the little guy has come already and his breathing has peaked and is now slowing down. Before the line gets cut off he says “Cheers, mate” and I keep going, pressing “1” over and over again until I find someone to come with.
Afterwards, in those few minutes before sleep takes me, I think about the Iranian guy in the sauna a few days ago. I’d been at the sauna by Waterloo Station, chilling out in the small dry sauna room at the far end, opposite the bar, talking to this cute English guy. We were talking about The Proiry, where he works, and when an Australian guy came in, he asked the English guy if The Priory was the equivalent of the Betty Ford Clinic in the States.
“I guess,” the English guy said. “More or less.”
“What’s your equivalent?” I said, though I can’t remember what his answer was.
The Iranian guy came in about then and sat down next to the Australian guy. I didn’t yet know he was Iranian. He was about 5’10” and, unlike most guys at the sauna, he had a towel draped over his shoulders, in addition to the towel around his waist. I’d seen him in another part of the sauna earlier – maybe upstairs, or maybe by the bar, I can’t be sure.
“No, no, no,” he said, his voice surprisingly high, almost falsetto, offended. “I’m sorry. No, I’m sorry.”
“I wasn’t doing anything,” the Australian guys said, for he had been accused of touching!
“I am only…”
“What?” the Australian guy said, still a bit on the defensive. “You only here for the steam.”
“No sex,” the Iranian guy says. “I am just… It is my first time in a place like this.”
“Are you from Tehran?” the Ozzie says to him.
“How do you know?” The Iranian guy sounds genuinely surprised, shocked.
“I heard you talking in the jacuzzi.”
A conversation happens between them. The Australian had friends who worked in Tunisia, one of who almost got arrested. He said the police have to investigated if a Tunisian reports that someone tried to pick them up. He says his friends were scared. The Iranian guy says he’s not scared, that it’s okay for them to do what they want in their homes, that he can call up his friend and ask him to come over for sex and they can have sex.
“But what if you get caught?” the Australian says.
Hanging is the exception. But you can get fined, or put in prison, or lashed. The Iranian guy talks in a tone that is almost matter of fact, though it is hard to sound matter of fact when your voice is high and your intonation – camp. He says he has never seen a place like this, never seen men have sex like this. He says he just wants to watch.
“I am sorry,” he turns to me and the cute English guy. “If my conversation is disturbing you.”
And for a moment I think: Yes, you have been disturbing me, any talk in the areas where sex is cruised for is disturbing, detrimental to the hunt. It’s an awkward moment, a moment that exposed my homophobia and sissyphobia and my monomania when it comes to sex. The longing for physical contact can blind us, can paralyse our capacity for compassion, for empathy. It can stop us from listening to a story that is placed before us, a story that we have never heard before from someone who has survived a horror, and will soon return to it. And there was something about the way the Australian listened to him, with the arrogance of a Westerner who has travelled to many places, who has friends who work in similar places around the world, who feels that because he has been to some places in the world he can talk about these horrors of homophobia in a matter-of-fact way, that he does not need to be humbled by the storyteller, by the human being, who has lived to tell his tale.
Crossing Blackfriars Bridge on my way home I stopped halfway across the bridge, right above the Thames… the sky was a luminous blue, it glowed at the edges, as if there was an edge to it. All along the London Eye, that big wheel that turns and turns at an almost invisible pace, the wheel that will some day come down, strips of flourescent lighting turned from red to blue to green. It was a glorious night, and I was free to stop or to go. I was free. I am free. I am free.