Friday, September 29, 2006

The Straighteners

The couple were sitting on a bench in a dark corner of the elaborate civic gardens. They hadn’t known each other long. They had been on a few dates where sexual contact had been limited to a few awkward kisses.

It was a warm summer night; the air hanging heavy after a long hot, cloudless weekend. The sky was fading to a hazy half-light. It was a dream-like light, where shadows contorted and secrets seemed to hide themselves just beyond the line of peripheral vision. Secrets like the tryst between the young man and the young woman, co-workers already involved in separate loveless relationships.

It was an affair furtively played out in the open spaces of the chaotic city in the summer. For some reason, it could only happen in the summer, a time for reinvention and freedom and snatched hours wandering together hand-in-hand, long meandering walks and innocent clinches in city squares and avenues and parks, where the seeds of their intimacy were sown in shadows. It was a freedom that felt impossible in the long dark autumn and winter.
The gang entered the park at the far corner. There were five of them.
Walking with a collective swaggering menace, each harboured their own undeveloped individual philosophies, all variants based on ignorance and prejudice, but suited to their own limited life experiences.
The unspoken and undisputed leader was Gus. By virtue of his dominant personality, physical presence and limitless aggressive streak, it could only ever be this way.

Gus wore work jeans, a tight muscle vest and sported a well-groomed trucker’s moustache that he smoothed down with his fingers when deep in thought. His hair was cropped and he had a tattoo of a large erect cock on his bicep, an arc of spunk spattering up his should and across his back. Gus was a sadist and borderline sociopath, a feared figure in the hardcore resistance underworld. His crew had made their presence felt in the city with random acts of extreme prejudice.
His followers were similarly attired, a modern piratical crew of urban soldiers reared on conflict, violence and rough gay sex.

Together they were a fearsome crew whose late-night activities had already been reported in the papers. There was a hopelessness and desperation to them - but then it is always the desperate who are always the most kamikaze-minded.

The young couple were bathing in the silence, her head on his shoulder, his arm around her, one strand of her long dark hair idly wrapped around his forefinger, when the gang appeared before them silently.

Gus spoke first.
“Well, what have we here? A couple of fucking perverts.”

The crew formed a crescent around the bench.
“A pair of filthy fucking nonces…”

The young man wondered whether maybe this was some sort of joke. Like maybe there was a camera crew hiding somewhere. He fleetingly, guiltily, considered the irony of being discovered cheating because of television.

But there was no camera crew, no mischievous presenter waiting in the wings - just Gus and his militant, muscle Mary’s, the five of them captured in repose, in silhouette, before him and his lover.
He went to speak but in a flash Gus stepped forward and back-handed him. Hard.
The other offered noises of encouragement – little whoops of growing sexual excitement. Gus felt his big prick stirring into action in his tight jeans; the familiar stirrings of violence. It was like the semen in his balls were galvinising themselves, ready for action, for release.
The man took in a sharp intake of breath and the girl gasped in disbelief at this unexpected intrusion and the casual accuracy of the slap.

One of the crew grabbed her by the hair and pulled her head back.
“Shut it bitch-cunt. I fucking ‘ate straight people….”
“Yeah,” said Bepe, a small, wily half-Mexican character with one milky-eye – the result of a fight in a Detention Centre some years ago. “If God had wanted straight people he would have created Adam and Eve, not Adam & Steve. It’s you nonces that are littering the place with your mewling children, your pathetic weddings and your self-righteousness.”

The girl’s fingers walked their way to the man’s hand and held it tightly.
“Urh!” grunted the fag who had spoken before – a big, vacant lug who made good money as a rent-a-gimp on the scene. “Look at them - they’re fucking disgusting. I bet they don’t even arse fuck.”
“Well, what do they do exactly?” said Bepe.

His question went unanswered.

The man went to stand, but was backhanded again. He fell back into seat, wondering how far they were away from salvation, whether anyone could hear them away from the hustle and bustle of the promenade.
“Please,” said the girl, for the first time. “We’re not doing anything wrong – we’re just – “
“Nothing wrong?” said Gus with a laugh, his mouth twisting into a snarl.

The way his eyes suddenly changed scared the young man. He had read the stories of the random attacks on heterosexual couples. Now he remembered. He had heard about the extreme violence and sexual degradation. He had read the editorials muttering about the possibility of sexual revolution, but had paid little attention. Now he knew he was soon to be a minority. Perhaps he already was. Perhaps things had happened quickly without him even realizing it. Either way, it all suddenly felt very real. Fear filled his stomach and his bowels burned. His anus involuntarily flexed.

“You should be strung up,” said Gus, reaching into his back pocket.
“What are you going to do?” said the man, wincing as his heard his own voice. It was high-pitched, whiny. It elicited no sympathy.
“We’re the 4th Avenue Straighteners, motherfucker,” hissed the one who hadn’t spoken. His voice was a sinister lisp, snake-like and equally as weighted with venom.
“Haven’t you heard?” said Gus sarcastically. “There’s a revolution going on’. It’s time to wash the scum from the streets. It’s time for your conversion…”

He pulled a small bottle out of his pocket.
He unscrewed the lid and took a big hit as the boys moved in.
“You should be thankful you haven’t go Guido’s 14th Avenue crew,” said Gus, his cheeks flushing scarlet, his eyes widening. His voice sounded deep and flat, as if it had come from some dark place for away inside of him, from his blackened centre.
“Those boys don’t even lube up.”

Then the shadows moved in and the night narrowed down to a dark greasy passage to the centre of the earth.

Ben Myers

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