25 December 2006

A Gay Christmas Carol (Part 2 - An unexpectedly ghostly gentleman caller)

Fog and frost hung about the black old gateway to the tenement building where Ebenezer Scrooge lived, a place so depressing that it would have been quite appropriate to find the music of Leonard Cohen drifting from one of the apartments above, or –even more depressing- to find the man himself sitting on the threshold, alone in mournful meditation.

Up that dark lonely stairwell Scrooge went, and even though he had a lifetime of experience finding whatever he wanted in the dark, and even though he knew every stone in that filthy stairwell, even he was fain to grope with his hands… knowing what had been splashed on the wall over the years. In any event, he needed both hands to stop his companion from falling over backwards, and so he continued uncertainly to the top.

Reaching his apartment door, there ought to have been nothing at all peculiar about the knob; it had never elicited any comment other than it was very large, and Scrooge had used it night and morning during his residence. Let it be explained how it was possible that Scrooge, having put his key in the lock and fumbled around for the knob- bearing in mind that he had as little of what is called imagination about him as any gay man in the city- discovered that the knob had shrunk until it was resembled… something quite unsatisfactorily tiny.

Scrooge pulled out and lit a cigarette lighter, looking fixedly at this phenomenon and blinking… to discover that it was a larger-than-normal size doorknob again.

To say that Mr Scrooge was not startled by all of this would be untrue, but nevertheless he put his hand upon the key, turned it sturdily and walked into his apartment. While he did pause before shutting the door, it was only to bring his companion inside: he didn’t look cautiously behind the door or anything (in any event, there was nothing there.)

A loud bang from the door shutting resounded through the building like thunder, and every cask in Scrooge’s private wine cellar appeared to have a separate peal of echoes that night. But he was not a man to be frightened by echoes, any more than whisperings about his character disturbed him: he simply fastened the door and walked across the hall.

As already mentioned, Scrooge was familiar with making his way in the darkness; darkness had the advantage of being cheap and always available, one of many reasons why he liked it so. With the heavy door of his apartment shut, he passed on through his private rooms to see that everything was right. Sitting-room, bedroom, all as they should be: a typical gay bachelor flat, sparsely and elegantly furnished with low-maintenance items from Ikea, with all surfaces shiny (easier to wipe clean) and dark (easier to hide stains) He found nothing remarkable: no one that he had forgotten about lying comatose under the bed, as had happened on more than one occasion; there was nobody in the closet (there hadn’t been anyone in there for years); and of course there was nobody in his cashmere dressing-gown, hanging with a few rather suspicious stains… everything appeared as usual, in other words.

Quite satisfied, Scrooge returned to his companion, who he’d left slumped at the door, and double-locked them both inside; such which was his custom whenever he had company. Thus secured against any unexpected entrances or exits, Scrooge deposited his companion in a comfortable armchair underneath his Christmas tree, rubbing his hands at the thought of the fun he was going to have.

To get himself in the mood, Scrooge decided to open a bottle of champagne. He put on his dressing-gown and slippers, and by the time he returned to the living room he had polished off most of the bottle.

Almost upon entering, a terrible noise made him turn around: it was a noise that might have lasted half a minute or a minute, but it seemed an hour. Scrooge had no idea what it was, but it sounded so horrible that he even wondered if Dannii Minogue had been in a recording studio to produce a Christmas cover version of a Madonna b-side. Even as he stood there, this alarming noise was succeeded by a loud groaning- a noise that both Scrooge and his neighbours were quite used to hearing, but Scrooge found that the young man he’d brought home remained quite motionless on the armchair, having passed out… so what caused that noise? Suddenly, the door flew open with a boom, and footsteps on the floor outside his room were to be heard coming straight towards him.

Scrooge’s colour changed when a figure entered his room… an excessively handsome man, who stood before him with a wry smile. Although conscious of the chilling influence of this stranger’s death-cold eyes, Scrooge was struck by how attractive he was.

"This is a…surprise!" he said.

“In your dreams, you old bugger!” the phantom replied. “Put all thoughts of fabulous porn-star sex out of your mind right this minute: look, I’m a ghost!”

The young man proceeded to walk back and forth through the furniture, skipping playfully as if he were dancing at a gay venue. Incredulous, Scrooge watched him… unable to help admiring his fine body.

“Are you sure?” he blurted. “I mean, aren’t ghosts able to make object move? Surely that means that if you really wanted to have sex… I mean, haven’t you at least tried?”

"Yes, I’m quite sure,” said the phantom. “It’s not possible: I know Sigourney Weaver managed in Ghostbusters… but that was fictional.”

“But none of this is really happening!” said Scrooge. “Look, we’re in a blog called-”

“Scrooge, I haven’t come to get existential with you, any more than I’ve come to talk about having sex with you… or have sex with you.”

“In that case, what brings you here?"

"You don’t recognise me, do you?"

"Should I?" said Scrooge, taking a closer look at the young man.

"Ask me who I was."

"Who were you then?" said Scrooge, raising his voice.

"In life, I was called Robert Marley."

“Robert… Do you mean to tell me that you’re the legendary Bob Marley? I’ve certainly heard your name, but I’ve never been into reggae-”

"Do I look like a Jamaican?”

“Er…no.”

“We actually know each other, Scrooge; in the biblical sense of the word. We had a more intimate acquaintance.”

“Are you quite, quite sure?” asked Scrooge, looking doubtfully at him… before discovering a line from Dickens that made him smirk. “Can you - can you sit down?"

"You don't want to believe that we’ve met, any more than you want to believe in my existence," observed the Ghost.

“Maybe that’s the case,” said Scrooge. “After all, I’ve got a highly attractive man who is not a ghost right here, ready to play with… so if you don’t mind leaving, I’ll-”

"What evidence do you have of my reality beyond that of your senses?" asked the Ghost.

"None," said Scrooge.

"You’ve never doubted your senses before, have you?"

"Yes, I have. On several occasions. Drugs and alcohol affect them. I’m sure that if we were intimately acquainted, as you claim, that I’d have had you more than once, because you are quite eminently shaggable… in which case I’d certainly remember. But as you see, I have been drinking and so this is probably all one of my delusions," said Scrooge, pointing at the empty bottle of champagne on the table. “None of that makes sense, does it?”

“Perhaps this will refresh your memory, Scrooge,” said the Ghost, leaning across to pick up the champagne cork.

He held it between his thumb and forefinger for several minutes, twiddling to and fro while Scrooge continued to shake his head, until at length the Ghost brought the champagne cork lower and lower… down to his crotch where he started to twiddle it around, raising his eyebrows when at last it finally dawned on Scrooge.

“Oh – my - God!” said Scrooge. “YOU!”

“Yes, me,” said the ghost of Bob Marley. “If I remember correctly, on my last visit you muttered something about how it was going to be a cold day in hell before you were ever in the same room alone with me again… and here we both are. It has been a little chilly today, hasn’t it?”

While Scrooge was in the habit of cracking jokes as a means of distracting attention from his own deficiencies, in truth he didn’t feel so amused just then. Yet he tried to quip, in order to keep down his terror, because in truth the spectre's voice disturbed the marrow in his bones.

"It took me a minute… only because you’d chosen a champagne cork," said Scrooge, hoping to divert the vision's stony gaze from himself by taking some out of his pocket. “If you’d asked for this toothpick-”

At this, the spirit raised a frightful cry, such a dismal and appalling noise that Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face.

"Stop!" he said. "This is worse than listening to Madonna live. Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me? It’s hardly my fault that you’re not endowed like a true Jamaican!"

"Man of worldly mind, do you believe in me or not?" said the Ghost.

"I do," Scrooge replied. "But why have you come… I mean, why are you visiting?"

"Not for my own pleasure, I assure you," the Ghost returned. "But if a spirit goes not forth to make the most of life, it is condemned to do so in death, doomed to wander through the world -- oh, woe is me! To witness what cannot be shared, but might have been shared on earth, and turned to happiness!"

Again, the spectre raised a cry, shaking his chain and wringing his shadowy hands.

"Will you stop that infernal racket?" said Scrooge. "Why are you wearing that stupid chain around your neck? Does everyone wear one in the afterlife? Is gangsta rap the next big thing?"

"I wear a chain of misery that I forged in life, Scrooge: I made that chain link by link and yard by yard; I girded it of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you? Would you know the weight and length of the strong coil you bear yourself, full as heavy and as long as this?”

“Coil? Isn’t that a form of contraception for women?”

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed!” wailed the Ghost. “Not to know that any human spirit working kindly in its little sphere- whatever it may be- will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness and good! Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunity misused! Yet such was I!”

“Thank you for sharing all of that,” said Scrooge. “Now if you don’t mind, perhaps you might go and wail somewhere else?”

“Mankind was my business, just as it is yours, Ebenezer Scrooge!”

“Men, certainly… men of a certain kind… but mankind in general?”

“The common welfare was my business, as it is your business. Charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence are all our business."

Scrooge was dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate.

"Don't be so… flowery!” he said, staring at those fixed glazed eyes. “You’ve completely lost me!"

"Hear me!" cried the Ghost. “You don’t remember how you treated me on the first night I visited apartment, but your reaction-”

“I can imagine!” said Scrooge.

“Do you have any idea of the damage that you caused? It took me several years to recover from the experience: I still carry scars that will never heal.”

“Well, there’s a first time for everything!” said Scrooge. “On a second visit, a few men mentioned that they have hurt for a few days, but never scarring-”

“That’s not what I’m talking about! I’m trying to make you appreciate the emotional damage you caused that night. It was the first time that I’d ever gone back to someone’s apartment to have casual sex; that young man sleeping under the Christmas tree is in exactly the same position, but too embarrassed to tell you!”

“No!” said Scrooge, genuinely dismayed. “Do you mean that he’s… hung like you? Have you come to warn me?”

“Scrooge,” said the Ghost, shaking his head in despair. “In my case, you knew it was my first time with a man… but that didn’t stop you treating me like a disposable object, made and designed for your own amusement. You showed no respect for my feelings. That night obviously meant nothing to you, but I needed someone to talk to… even just a kind word, so I didn’t feel so alone in the world… a kind word, a little advice about safer sex… anything! I got nothing… but derisive laughter, at a certain point in the proceedings. I was devastated… more devastated by how you treated me. It took several years for me to regain confidence to approach another man… several years before I trusted another. Of course, meeting anyone prepared to give me a chance was made difficult by the fact that whenever I set foot in a gay venue, there you were… telling everyone about me.”

“Impossible! How could I tell everyone about you if I didn’t even remember your name?”

“You pointed, Scrooge.”

“Oh!”

There was an awkward pause.

“So you’ve come to make me feel bad, is that it?”

“This isn’t about you, Scrooge: it’s about the young man sleeping under the tree, and all of the other men yet to pass through your sweaty hands.”

“Have you seen the future?” said Scrooge excitedly. “You know how many more men I’m going to have sex with?”

“Scrooge, I’ve come here in the hope that you’re still capable of learning to respect other human beings... or at least treat them with respect, which is not quite the same thing. Invisible I have followed you for many and many a day, and I am here tonight, offering a last chance of escaping a terrible fate, worse than my own.”

What?” said Scrooge, for this was not an agreeable idea. “Do you mean to tell me that something is going to happen to my own…”

“No, Scrooge; this isn’t about your dick.”

Scrooge wiped the perspiration from his brow.

“Although I did suggest to the other ghosts it would be the simplest way of dealing with the menace you present.”

Other ghosts?”

"Yes, Scrooge: you are to be haunted by Three Spirits."

Scrooge's countenance fell.

"Is that the ‘last chance’ you mentioned?" he demanded. If that’s the best you can do, Bob, well I think I'd rather not bother."

"Without their visits, you cannot hope to be saved. Expect the first tomorrow, when the bell tolls one. My time is nearly gone."

"Couldn't all three of them visit at once, and get it over with?" hinted Scrooge.

"A little ghost orgy, you mean? No, Scrooge, that’s not possible. Expect the second on the next night at the same hour, and the third upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate. You will see me no more; for your own sake, remember what has passed between us!"

When it had said these words, the apparition walked backward, beckoning Scrooge to approach, which he did. When they were within two paces of each other, Marley held up its hand, warning him to come no nearer. Not so much in obedience as in surprise and fear, Scrooge stopped. He became sensible of confused noises in the air outside his room, incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret, wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. The spectre, after listening for a moment, joined in the mournful dirge and floated out upon the bleak, dark night.

Scrooge followed to the window and looked out, desperate in his curiosity. The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in a restless haste, moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains; some linked together; none free. Many of them were gay men that had been known to Scrooge in their lives: he had been quite familiar with one old ghost, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw below upon a door-step… although Scrooge jumped to the conclusion that he was trying to usher them off the doorstep in question.

Clearly- to everyone but Scrooge, that is- the misery with all the phantoms was that they sought to interfere for good in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.

“Hideous!” Scrooge cried, slamming down the window. “Worse than listening to all of the Cliff Richard Christmas Number One singles played at once!”

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or the mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. It was warm and quiet inside his own comfortable apartment, and the spirit voices faded and the night became as it had been. Fatigued from the emotion he had undergone- a long night at the bar, not to mention his glimpse of the undead – Scrooge decided to lie down before waking his companion. Before he went to his bedroom, he examined the door by which the Ghost had entered, making sure that it remained double-locked and that the bolts were undisturbed.

"Humbug!" he said. “Bob Marley… what the hell was I drinking!”

And with that, he went straight to bed without undressing, falling asleep upon the instant.

4 comments:

APrivateShow said...

I got a good Laugh Thanks

Anonymous said...

Hello there!
Just complaining about your Leonard’s Cohen opinion. I don’t find it depressing at all, actually I’m listening him meanwhile my gorgeous partner is sucking me off and enjoying very much (both).
LOL

X

Ms C Qrisp said...

Dear aprivateshow,
Gracious thanks for visiting my humble bloguette... my mind boggles as to how some people end up in a depraved little corner like this one.

And I'd like to state for the record I got LOTS more than I bargained opening your (ahem!) profiles!

Ms C Qrisp said...

Dear Anonymous,
Gracious thanks for visiting my bloguette.

Oral sex while listening to Leonard Cohen, with both of you enjoying the experience? Well, one hardly wonders at your decision to remain anonymous!

I am even more seriously concerned that anyone feels impelled to listen to Leonard Cohen while receiving oral sex AND reading my bloguette! Why, in those circumstances, surely one ought pretend to be enjoying one's boyfriend's attention to the exclusion of all other pleasures?

But of course you're forgiven for sneaking a peak at my bloguette; quite natural!

Kind regards

Ms C Quisp