Streetlamp light on the cold stone cobbles

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Gay and Lesbian  |  House: Booksie Classic
A project. This short story is the end to the next two I will write.

The story takes place in Victorian London, and a gentleman by the name of Arlen Fingal stops by the dark back alleys for a regular visit searching for pleasure. However, this time something unexpected happens, as he meets the socially comprimised yet enigmatically handsome Nathaniel Gillienspie. Romance ensures, before a sudden and quite mysterious turn for the worst.

The next two stories I will write after this will cover the stories of the two different characters separately, and everything will make sense in the end.

Warning - Has mild innuendos, blood, romance and tragedy.

Submitted: November 19, 2011

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Submitted: November 19, 2011

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In the grim dusk, a grey, untidy road was dimly lit by a few streetlamps glowing sepia-yellow, which struggled in the nebulous atmosphere of London air. Amongst the few shops many opium dens could be found, and shady buildings which masked the secretive activities that were contained inside them.

Through the thick fog, amongst the multitude of voices and clamor came the familiar sound of horse shoes clattering against rough and misplaced cobbles.

Behind the equine was a hansom, and behind the leather curtains of the hansom there was a man.

“Master Fingal, sir. Would this be the place?” Came the disembodied voice of the cab driver behind.

“It is. Thank you.” replied Arlen Fingal, handing him two shillings and a sixpence for the fairly long journey to the back alleys of London, in the fine hansom cab. His favorite choice of transport.

He stepped out of the hansom, making no eye contact with the driver, and pulling his wide brimmed hat down over his face. He did not want to be recognized – every person wizened to the worn paths of the streets knew of the few reasons a man would feel the urge to visit such dark areas of the city as these.

And although Arlen did not particularly care for opium smoke, nor many of the other delights which the location provided, there was one thing that he did want, which he knew he could find here.

He had made the journey his habit, but the yearning was not a choice.

Perhaps one day he could find true love, not just pleasure on streets such as these. However, for now this was his only choice – society did not permit such relationships as he desired them. In some ways, this current option was quieter and for now at least, satisfied his longings, however inadequately.

Arlen, being well dressed and with an air of dignity about him, a rare find amongst the usual squalor, was becoming the center of attention, as he did increasingly following his numerous visits to the street and so began pacing towards a place he recognized, a smaller public house next to a less popular opium bar. As a result, it was nearly alwaysempty. However, Arlen knew it well, and there always seemed to be a different gentleman waiting when he arrived.

Remembering this, he put his hand to his pocket and checked that enough money was still in his possession after having paid the hansom driver. Satisfied, he continued his walk until he came to the old, chipped black door and, not hesitating, stepped inside.

The same old bartender stood there, smiling to Arlen as he handed him a shot.

“You're becoming quite a regular, I see.” the man said, glancing at Arlen, who swallowed shamefully and looked away.

“Oh, don't feel guilt. Especially not in front of the likes of me. I was as busy as you are in my youth too. I'm just too old for such frolics now, no matter how much I pray that I could live again those golden days.”

Arlen looked at the man, but seemed no more consoled.

“But I'll tell you this – if it's God you are afraid of, do not fear, for if the eyes of a God can not see beauty then it is truly He who is the devil. However, be it a woman you are afraid of, then God help us all, be He Devil or not!” The bartender chuckled, clearly reflecting on those “golden days” he mentioned.

Seeing that he was the only customer at the place at that time, Arlen decided to perhaps engage in a conversation with the like-minded bartender.

“I used to have a wife. I never really loved her though. I wish I had loved her, but I simply could not bring myself to. It just did not feel right.”

“We've all felt like that, my boy. That's why we're here, working in streets like these, broken like a lame carthorse by this world.” responded the old man woefully.

It was then that the door creaked intrusively, and in walked a young man, of a short height, who looked noticeably different from the usual visitors to the bar.

Whereas all the men he had seen before looked very local to the area, and looked like they had lived at least three or four long, working decades, this boy was different.

He still possessed some of the haunted look of the ostracized, mentally beaten, yet he still had the sprig of untamed youth in his eye he thought he had forgotten, as well as his rather unusual features. He had a delicate face and bright yet deep green-hazel eyes, and although Arlen thought he preferred those with fairer hair, the dark raven colour gave the young man an enigmatic air, and the style was shorter than Arlen's longer, combed bohemian locks. He was dressed in a smart jacket with dark breeches, and looked impeccable.

This boy was the epitome of youth, and stood out amongst the dull setting like a spring flower in amongst dead autumn leaves. Arlen was captivated by him, being so unlike the others native to the area.

“Hello there son! Haven't seen you here before.” The bartender nodded at the recent entry. “There's a room upstairs should you need it. Very cheap for using for as long or as short as you want, the other lucky fella goes free...”

“I shall not be of it's need, good sir.” The youth said in a polite but firm manner.

There was silence, and the bartender chuckled. “Then whatever are you here for?”

“Just for a drink. Nothing more.”

The bartender raised his dark eyebrows.

“Alright then my lad. What would you like?”

“Just some cider please sir.”

“Oh, of course.” The elder man swiftly prepared the drink, and the youth exchanged some coins for the beverage.

The young man perched on one of the stools by the bar next to Arlen. He glanced at him, then leaned over Arlen's own small drink and wrinkled his nose.

“Absinthe?” He asked at the familiar smell of the pungent liquid.

“Yes.” Arlen replied.

From the dry attempt the boy had tried at starting a conversation, it seemed that he wasn't exactly used to the concept. Although in actuality, he seemed quite nervous.

“How long was your journey here? Hopefully not as drawn out as mine, it was treacherous even in a Hansom.” This casual conversation made the young man noticeably less anxious, and he gradually relaxed.

“Quite long, indeed. Not as long as yours though, I'd imagine.” He replied.

For a moment their eyes met, and there was silence until the younger man turned away, looking towards the wood of the bar, and coughed.

Arlen felt determined, however, to succeed in the nearly impossible task of at the least having a meaningful conversation with the boy. So he went back to the very first step, and decided that this time he would try to begin with more basic questions.

“So... What is your name?”

“Nathaniel. That's Nathaniel Gillienspie.” He paused for a few seconds. “What do you go by?”

“My name is Arlen Fingal.”

More silence.

Arlen began again. He looked at Nathaniel.“I don't usually give out my real name to anyone here.”

Nathaniel's eyes seemed to light up. “Oh. “ he blushed. However, hethen looked down and nervously ran his palms over the back of his hands.

Arlen was puzzled by this, so smiled at the young man to try and console him, whatever his worry was about. The bartender had left the room, maybe trying to find some other work to be done in the chamber that was connected to his area behind the bar, or perhaps rather trying to avoid the awkward situation.

However, Arlen was not going to leave any time soon. He had met many men at this bar, but none were like this one, and he wasn't going to let him escape so easily.

Nathaniel had calmed down, and seemed a little more relaxed. “I like your hat..” He smiled.

“Thank you.” Arlen replied and forgetting that he still had it on, slipped off the hat. “So... Is a gentleman like you doing anything tonight?”

Nathaniel furrowed his brow in despair, “Great Scott! I have nothing to do, and nowhere to go.”

“But where will you stay?”

“I have nowhere.” he shrugged.

Hearing this, Arlen began to stand up from his stool, and looked hopefully at Nathaniel, and then to the door which lead to the upstairs room which the bartender had mentioned upon his arrival. Nathaniel, however, seemed oblivious to his actions.

Arlen began to lose hope. He sighed. “Look... I have money.” He said.

“What? No!” Nathaniel saidreflexively.

Arlen began to leave, quite distraught.

“Wait! Don't leave!”

Arlen turned to see Nathaniel, who looked at him desperately. Arlen was confused by him – this strange man didn't seem to know what he wanted – but nonetheless he aborted his short journey to the door and sat beside Nathaniel again.

“Sir, please – I don't understand! What do you want?” Arlen said, face contorting with confusion and annoyance.

Nathaniel sighed, looking down at the dusty floor. A solitary tear moved delicately down his cheekbones. His brow furrowed as his eyes became cold and expressionless. After a second of contemplation in this way, Nathaniel glanced up at Arlen.

“I desire the same as you. But...You simply can not understand...” He said as his gaze seemed to pierce the gate to Arlen's inner being, sending shivers through his neck, cascading like currents of frozen flame down his spine. As if those eyes were trying to tell him something.

Suddenly and with no warning, Nathaniel buckled in pain and gasped. He stumbled off of the stool, a layer of hot tears streaming from his green-hazel eyes, through the old door and out on to the polluted street. The bartender dropped the bottles he was carrying and hurried to the scene. Arlen rushed after the young man, only hesitating to notice thick, fearsome-looking blood around the area.

It was dark outside, the sun had rested many hours ago, and the dull fog hindered Arlen's desperate search. He sprinted down the cobbled street. People were shouting meaningless, fervid words, horses screamed and their hooves and wheels clattered as Arlen disrupted the usual flow of the road.

Just when Arlen's throat was beginning to burn like an inextinguishable lamp, he could make out the figure of a man. An injured man, keeled over on knees in the road. As he came closer, he knew it was Nathaniel. Soaked and partially surrounded by a terrible wash of fresh blood.

Arlen's eyes widened, and his pulse quickened as a wave of nauseous dread spread it's cold tides over the sands of his soul. He crouched down and gently rolled Nathaniel's back on to his knee. As he did, he heard the distinctive clatter of a metallic object strike the stony cobbles. A sharp-bladed knife, like the dreadful tooth of some unspoken beast, riddled with slim threads of dark blood, had fallen from Nathaniel's pale hand. Blood covered most of his body, as though it was appearing from more than just the rapidly increasing red patch below his ribcage.

Tears fell from Arlen's face, many landing on Nathaniel's below.

Arlen looked into Nathaniel's eyes for a last time. They had become glassy and glazed, yet seemed to be more emotive than ever.

Arlen began to whisper, “why” but was cut short by Nathaniel's passionate kiss. The boy's now frail arms, with one last strength, caressed Arlen's head and brought his soft, warm lips further down to Nathaniel's porcelain face.

In that moment Arlen could taste the bittersweet salt of their tears entwined. All sound merged into a single background noise, and he closed his eyes in a mysterious combination of passion and grief.

Nathaniel's embrace weakened, and this jolted Arlen back to time and reality, turned sour.

He knelt holding Nathaniel's lifeless body, himself now saturated in the young man's blood, and with one shivering hand behind the head ran his cold fingers over the delicate face, and closed the now painfully vacant, dead eyes of a man he had only met not long ago, but nonetheless felt like he had loved for a life time.

For a moment he stared at the lifeless features with disbelief, and then closed his own eyes and bent over Nathaniel's bloodied body, holding the boy's head to his own.

* * *

Some people stopped for a moment, looking on with curiosity. Others sneered and muttered about the scene they had just witnessed. A few looked away with a glimmer of empathy, before continuing down the street.

* * *

In the grey light of the early hours, a dark, soundlessman extinguished the struggling flames of the streetlamps and a while after, Arlen finally raised his aching head and blinked to clear his blurred eyes. The sun appeared bright white from behind the buildings, and for the first time in a life time the sky was clear and blue with the promise of a new day.


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