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Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.

All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.

Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!

15.12.09

Completing The Puzzle (a winter fable)

Jinx knew a lot of things. He knew that his local football team would never make it to the top of the league, but he supported them regardless. He knew he wasn’t good looking in a drop-dead gorgeous kind of way. By the same token nor was he ugly. He was an ordinary boy-next-door type with a sweet smile and neat ears, so his grandma had told him anyway.

He knew he preferred thin cut breakfast marmalade to thick cut, something his mother just couldn’t seem to get her head around, so that when he visited home he’d have to stoically chew on what felt like strands of bootlace because he knew she’d bought the marmalade especially for him.

He knew that his father was a man called Harry Coulter, but he’d never actually met him. In fact his mother had only met him once, at a friend’s wedding. It was a relationship that was caught like the bride’s bouquet at the height of a happy moment, but which expired before the bridal blooms had even wilted.

He also knew that the nickname Jinx would be with him until the day he parted company with life and his legal name, David Jenkins, appeared on the brass plaque on his coffin lid, thus confusing his friends and leading them to exclaim, who the hell is that? Are we at the wrong funeral?

Childhood nicknames are hard to shake off and sometimes Jinx doubted that he had another name in any concrete sense. His bio father’s surname had been Coulter, but Jinx had never shared it. His mother’s surname was Trent before she married Eddie Jenkins, the man who subsequently adopted David at the age of six. He became David Jenkins and finally Jinx to differentiate him from the three other Davids he shared a classroom with, one of whom he had a secret crush on throughout his school life.

Being in possession of a nickname early on in life had its advantages. It meant that when it came to creating an email account he had a ready made ‘emaily’ sort of name and didn’t have to invent one. He was Jinx101. Occasionally he harboured a regret that he hadn’t chosen something more fantastical, like the email addies chosen by blokes whose genitalia had taken over their lives and become an entity separate from the person that transported it around. Names like Wellhung, Everhard or 9andahalfinches. Yeah, Jinx knew a lot of things. He knew that a bloke whose email address was 9andahalfinches was probably seven at the very most.

Jinx knew other stuff. He knew that in order to get ahead you needed to get an education. So he studied hard and went to university and he had a good time, too good in his first year. He almost got kicked out because he disregarded the golden rule about fitting in a few lectures and essays between partying and screwing. His chosen university had an active gay social scene and Jinx was determined to take full advantage of it. For a while he lost control of everything but his groin region. Not that it complained or anything, but complaints were made, mainly by tutors when papers failed to be submitted.

That was the point in his life when he met Jim Chambers. Jim was a student counsellor. Like Jinx he was gay, and he could remember what it was like to go through those euphoric days of self-discovery and existing from the waist down only. He counselled Jinx wisely. He helped him organise his social and work schedules, so that one didn’t cancel out the other. Consequently Jinx wasn’t booted ignominiously out of university with only an STD to show for his endeavours.

Jim was a few years older than Jinx but they got on well together and once the official counselling sessions were over they became good friends.

During Jinx’s all-important final year his stepfather died suddenly, a heart attack. It came out of the blue one Saturday afternoon, while he’d been in the midst of cheering on his local football team. The St John Ambulance volunteers did their very best to revive him, but to no avail. He was gone.

Jinx was surprised by the grief that engulfed him for the quiet man who had married his mother and given his name to a child that wasn’t his own, a man who had staunchly been there during the lego years, the seaside days and the acne moments. He hadn’t realised how much he wanted that man to be proud of him and how much he had been looking forward to him being present when he received his degree.

It’s funny how you never really know what you’ve got until it’s gone. Jinx regretted all the words of gratitude and affection left unspoken for the quiet man whose name, he now understood, he carried with pride and love. That was when Jinx, who as a student already drank too much, began to drink way too much in order to dull the pain of unsaid words.

Jim helped him through it. He was a shoulder to cry on, someone who listened and comforted. He was also the man who physically hauled Jinx out of The Star And Garter the night before an important exam. He walked him miles in the fresh air and made him drink enough water for it to fall under the category of torture. He then stayed with him all night to ensure he woke up sober and got to his exam.

He was also the man who solemnly promised Jinx that if he got that drunk again before his finals were over, he would tan his foolhardy backside. In fact if he ever resorted to the bottle instead of friendship in the event of any future problems, he would do the same. Jinx had blushed at the threat, but not really believed it. Still, he made sure that he didn’t get drunk again until his exams were over.

Jinx got his degree, with honours, and landed a good job in the same city as the university he got it from. Life was sweet. He and Jim remained firm friends. They met up at least twice a week for a meal or to go to the cinema or just to chat over a pint in the pub. When something bothered Jinx he called Jim to talk it out and knew he could rely on getting honest advice. They sometimes messaged online during work hours and all in all they were part of the warp and woof of each other’s lives.

The days shaped themselves into months and seasons that flowed one into another, and the years fell from the calendar.

There was something that Jinx didn’t know. He didn’t know that he was in love with Jim. He thought they were just great friends, but they weren’t. They were lovers in all senses but sex. Did he but know it, Jinx had begun the process of falling in love in his second year at university, on a fine day in mid October when they were sitting by the river watching a kingfisher dive. He had shivered as a cool autumn breeze wrapped itself about him. Draping an arm around his shoulders Jim had pulled him close against his side and shared body heat with him, as they talked and laughed.

On the other hand Jim knew that he was in love with Jinx. He first suspected it one autumn day, as the leaves turned ruby-gold on the trees, and a kingfisher dived in and out of a fast flowing river sparking aqua diamonds from its wings, while Jinx nestled snug and warm against his side.

The suspicion was confirmed not long afterwards, on a winter’s day, as they walked on the Cleveland Hills. Jinx had clutched at his hand and exclaimed in spontaneous wonderment, as the sun went down on the frost kissed fields of the sheep wash, turning white to sparkling pink before their eyes. He told Jinx that he loved him. Jinx had hugged him and said he loved him too. Jim knew that he had chosen to interpret the declaration as one of close but uncomplicated friendship, and a shadow touched his heart.

Jim met Victor, a Canadian who came to the university to do some research for a year. Jim liked him. They got on well, more than well. Vic asked him to take a sabbatical from work and go back to Canada with him to see how they got along as a couple. Jim said yes, because he was lonely. Sometimes friends and family are not enough. Jinx was seeing someone, a stockbroker called Nigel, a smug individual with certain knowledge of his own worth. They were talking about setting up together. Jim wanted to set up with someone. The days of his life were slipping like sand through an hourglass and he didn’t want to spend the remainder alone.


Excerpt from ‘the Tsavorite Stream’ a short story collection.

GLBT Bookshelf.

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