Life changing moments - it seems I've had maybe more than my fair share - and some like this one I'm about to recall, didn't always leave a pleasant memory. Years ago, when I was but a lad, quite naive but thinking I was worldly-wise I made a mistake that would change forever how I looked at life and some people I thought I knew. Years later I wrote about it, but gave it a happy ending as per my publishers wishes. My story didn't have an HEA - turned out the bastard was married - and although I might be called many things, a cheat is not one of them.
Just a little set up to the tale. At the time I was a nightclub singer in London. My sister was pregnant and going through a rough time with her soon to be ex husband. This is a true story, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent. LOL.
UNDER THE LAW. J.P. BOWIE
It was a dead night at the Lido Club. Located on Frith Street, just off Old Compton Street, it was generally a lively spot, picking up some patrons from Ronnie Scott’s jazz club after they’d closed for the night. But for some reason, there were few people about as Peter got out of the taxi and ran down the long flight of stairs that took him into the dimly lit, smoky club. He’d been performing there for over a year, and he didn’t mind the place since it happened to be within walking distance from his flat. Even late at night, he’d never had a problem getting home from this notoriously seedy part of the West End.
After saying hello to the trio, he ran to the mens' room and tidied up. Some of Dinah’s face powder was evident on his jacket lapel, and his hair needed combing. He sighed as he gazed at his reflection in the pockmarked mirror and hummed a few bars of There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This! Denny Forbes, the comedian who preceded him, had seen him come in and was starting to introduce him, eager to get away from the non-receptive audience.
“No peace for the wicked,” Peter muttered, straightening his jacket and walking onstage, all smiles. Grabbing the mike from Denny, he was about to start his first song when he spotted Detective Inspector John Reed sitting by himself at a corner table. Well, well…maybe there would be something better than this, after all.
His set finished, he wandered over to where John sat, a big smile on his face.
“Hello again,” Peter said, sitting opposite him. “This is a nice surprise.”
John’s smile got even bigger. “I think I’m becoming your number one fan. You’re really very good, you know.”
“Thank you.” Peter returned his smile with a shy one of his own. “I’m trying not to blush.” Their eyes met, and to Peter’s amazement, John covered his hand with his own.
“I wouldn’t have thought you guilty of false modesty.” He squeezed Peter’s hand gently, and Peter did blush as his cock hardened at the other man’s touch. John’s hand was dry and warm. Strong.
Peter shivered as a sudden vision of John’s naked body pressed to his flashed into his mind.
Oh, my god, control yourself.
“I ordered you a drink,” John said, still holding Peter’s hand.
“You don’t have to get me drunk, you know.”
“That’s good.” He looked up and released Peter’s hand as the waiter arrived with the drink.
“But I think I need one right about now.” Peter chuckled then took a long sip. He winked at John. “You’re a man of many surprises, aren’t you?”
“Well, sending me drinks, showing up here alone, holding my hand—which by the way, felt very nice.”
“Yes, it did.” John’s smile was slow and sexy. “Can I surprise you some more with a confession?”
“I can’t wait.”
“I think you are the most attractive man I have ever met.”
“Now I really am blushing,” Peter said, laughing.
“I mean it. Those green eyes of yours are a distinct turn on.”
“Well, thank you…” Peter reached across the table and touched John’s fingers. “So, what happens now?”
“Don’t you live just around the corner?”
“Inspector!” Peter laughed. “What are you suggesting?”
John grinned at him and ran his fingertips over the back of Peter’s hand, sending shivers all through the young man’s body.
“I think you’re not that naïve.”
“No, I’m not.” Then his smile faded as he remembered. “Damn.”“What’s wrong?”
“My sister…oh, shit…she’s staying the night. Her bastard husband has been smacking her around. She’s pregnant, and—”
“Wait.” John leaned across the table, staring into Peter’s eyes, his own now hard and cold. “Has she reported this to the police? Beating up a pregnant woman, any woman for that matter, is a criminal offence.”
“Believe me, John, I’ve tried to get her to go to the police. She won’t hear of it. The sad thing is she still loves the oaf.”
John shook his head. “The times I’ve heard that one.”
“And now that I’ve remembered her—and feeling like a complete shit for not doing so earlier—I have to go.” Peter rose from the table. “I’m sorry about this, John.”
“I’ll walk you home.”
“Oh, there’s no need.”
“Yes, there is.” He gave Peter a quick smile. “And don’t ever argue with the law.”
“Sorry ossifer,” Peter joked.
John threw some pound notes onto the table. “Let’s go.”
Peter had to admit it felt good having John’s tall, wide-shouldered presence striding along at his side as they made their way through the darkened streets. He stole occasional glances at the handsome man and smiled to himself. Damn, but John was attractive.
“So, you walk this every night?” John asked.
“Uh huh. I’ve never had an escort before.” That wasn’t exactly true as Scott used to sometimes meet him at the Lido and walk back home with him—in the days when Scott cared enough to do that.
“These streets can get rowdy some nights.”
“Yes. I’ve been lucky, I suppose,” Peter remarked. “A friend of mine was chased up Charing Cross Road one night by a knife-waving thug.”
John chuckled. “And what d’you suppose your friend did to deserve that kind of attention?”
“Ah well, he wouldn’t say exactly. But knowing Terry, it was probably something quite outrageous. Here we are,” Peter said as they stopped at an imposing oak door with Victorian carvings. He pulled his door key from his jacket pocket. “I’m sorry I can’t ask you up.”“So am I.” John produced a notepad from inside his coat. “What’s your phone number?” He scribbled down the number Peter gave him then stowed the pad back in his pocket. “Can we step inside for a moment or two? I’d like to say goodnight properly.”
Peter’s hand trembled from anticipation as he inserted the key into the lock. A goodnight kiss. John’s lips on his. That plump, full, lower lip to nibble on. He was hard again. He pushed open the door, and suddenly, he was wrapped in John’s arms, his mouth covered by a moist, sexy warmth that brought him an instant brain meltdown. He was dimly aware of the door slamming shut behind them, then it was all John and only John he could hear, and feel and smell.
So in that moment I fell for John's quiet charisma and charm and in the next few months was led in a merry dance of lies and ultimate heartbreak. Of course I was young and eventually regarded it as a lesson to be learned and never repeated...Well, like I said I was young.
Isn't it funny, sometimes not haha funny, but how we think we're so world-wise, making the decisions, often mistakes, that continue to contribute to our education. Hopefully, that never stops, because we learn until we go away. The way time is set up for us to experience the dimension, we get to analyze afterwards, not to practice beforehand.ReplyDelete
Writers are lucky in that we get extra mileage out of these life lessons. That doesn't mean they don't still hurt, but we can get a perspective on them through writing that we wouldn't otherwise.ReplyDelete
Funny, when I wrote that story I felt kind of distanced from the whole affair, but having just used it for this post, there was the bitterness again. Damn.ReplyDelete
But we were all young once, and there's lessons all around us. Life is balance. For every time you feel that indescribable thrill of falling for someone, there's the unbearably painful moment when it's over. What's the alternative? Float along like a raft on the waves of life, letting the winds buffet you where-ever? Or do you take the oars and steer, knowing you'll find either pain or pleasure everywhere, but determined to experience the panoply of what the human experience can be? I choose the latter. And later in life, it makes for more entertaining memories...and for authors, more grist for our muses.ReplyDelete
We all have our betrayals, JP. I used to write poetry about mine.ReplyDelete
I had no idea you were a night club singer, though. What a great source of story ideas that must be.
I always think it's strange how raw my emotions can be many, many years later. That said, I agree with Lisabet -- I'd love more details about the nightclub singing. :)ReplyDelete
What an interesting life you've had, JP. I'm sorry to read about the jerk who betrayed you, but it made for a good story.ReplyDelete