Tag Archives: LGBTQ+

Footing the Bill

Alex let himself into the flat, his fingers slick with sweat on his key.  Still a little winded from his run, he pulled off his trainers and headed to the bathroom.  His path was intercepted by Graham, eyebrow arched.  Alex recognised the look.  His breath caught in his throat.

“A word,” said Graham, looking down his nose.

“Can’t it wait until I’ve showered,” Alex tried to dodge past but Graham countered.

“Now,” he snapped.  “This can’t wait.”

From behind his back he pulled out a pair of top-of-the-range headphones.  Alex’s mouth twitched.

“Found these under a cushion on the sofa,” Graham droned.  “Which I wouldn’t have done if you’d taken your turn on the cleaning rota.”

“I was going to get around to it.  After my run.”

“It’s not about the cleaning.  Well, not this time.”  Graham brandished the headphones.  “Where did these come from?”

Alex’s shoulders twitched out a shrug.  “Amazon.”

Graham exhaled in impatience.  “I don’t mean where did they come from.  I mean how can you afford them?”

Alex pulled a face.  “They were on offer –”

“That’s not the point.  I’ve noticed some other things too.  Those trainers you’ve left so haphazardly on the floor where I might trip over them.  They’re new too.  This lycra top you’re sweating through.  I haven’t seen that before.”

Alex threw up his hands.  “What have you been doing, taking inventory of my stuff?”

Tears welled in Graham’s eyes.  “You’ve got someone else, haven’t you?”  He pressed the headphones against Alex’s damp chest.  “A sugar daddy!  Buying you treats!  But what’s he getting in return, eh?  That’s what I want to know!  Or rather, I don’t.”

Before Graham could meltdown completely, Alex placed his hands on his boyfriend’s upper arms and forced him to make eye contact. 

“There is someone,” he admitted.  Graham wailed.  “But it’s not like that!  Come on, I’ll show you.”

He dragged the sobbing Graham into the bedroom.  On the dresser was a laptop – a new model, but Graham hadn’t noticed that – Alex opened it.  His fingers danced on the keyboard.  A website lit up the screen.  “Here!”

Graham squinted at it, not understanding what he was seeing.

“Feet?” he sniffled.

“Yes!  Feet!  I send in pictures of my tootsies and men send me money or buy me things off my wish list.  Imagine!  My scrawny plates!  But someone’s getting off on them.”

Graham was horrified and fascinated in equal measure.  “And that’s all it is?  Your feet?”

“Yes.  They never see anything else.  They don’t even know my real name.  And I know nothing about them.”

“How peculiar!  You’ve got horrible feet.”

“Not according to the users on this site.”

“All veined and bony.  And your toes are too long.”

“All right, all right, I’m not asking you to pay to see them, am I?”

Alex dropped into a crouch and pulled a box from under the bed.  “Here.  For you.”

“What’s this?”  Graham eyed the package with suspicion.

“That console you wanted.”  Alex pulled him into an embrace.  “I really can start paying my way now.  As long as there’s weirdos in the world.  I’m sorry I didn’t tell you from the start.”

Graham grimaced.  “You stink.  Go and get in the shower.  And I might join you…”

Alex laughed.  “But no free peeks at my money-spinners!”

“Oh, no,” Graham chuckled, chasing Alex into the bathroom.  “My mind is on higher things.”

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Filed under LGBTQ, Short story

I’ll Have What You’re Having

“Robbie?”  The slender figure on the post office steps stood up straight and waved from behind the railings.

Robbie faltered.  Damn it.  He knew he shouldn’t have crossed the road.  He should have kept walking.  Pretended to be on a phone call or something.

The guy was too tall, for one thing.  His profile had not mentioned he could tower over the average basketball player.

Robbie felt trapped.  He would have to go through with it.  One drink.  Just one drink and then he’d nip to the Gents, text Shona the signal and five minutes later, she would call with an ‘emergency’ he just had to attend.

“Frem?” Robbie approached.  “Am I saying that right?”

“Yes, very good.”

“Is it Dutch or something?  Where are you from?”

“Oh, a long way away.  You wouldn’t have heard of it.”

Frem smiled and Robbie noticed how smooth his date’s skin was.  Unblemished.   Unwrinkled.

Frem came down the steps to shake Robbie’s hand.  His palm was dry but cool—cold, almost.  Probably from holding the railings, Robbie reasoned and, now they were both on the same level, he found he could look the stranger in the eye.  He and Frem were exactly the same height.  Must have been an optical illusion, Robbie thought.  Perspective, or something.

“There’s a decent pub on the corner,” Robbie smiled back.

“Sounds good.”

Odd, thought Robbie.  I’ve only heard him say a few words but his accent seems to have changed.  He sounds local.  He sounds like me.

They strolled to the pub in an awkward silence.  Inside, Robbie suggested Frem find a table while he got the drinks.  It was only fair, if he was going to duck out after the first round.

“I’ll have what you’re having,” Frem grinned, moving to a quiet corner. 

Robbie ordered two pints then he had to scour around to see where Frem had gone.  Frem waved from a table near the fireplace.  “Over here!”

Robbie frowned as he set the glasses on the table and took his seat.

“Your hair.  It seems darker in here.  Perhaps it’s the lighting.”

“Perhaps,” smiled Frem.

In synchronous movement, they sipped their beer.

“So, what do you do?” Frem asked.

Robbie’s nose wrinkled.  “Nothing exciting.  I’m an office junior.  You?”

Frem’s nose wrinkled.  “Same.”

They sipped again.  It looked almost choreographed.

They chatted about trivial things.  Favourite films, music and so on.  Frem seemed to have identical tastes.  Robbie began to suspect something was going on.  He asked what was Frem’s favourite book.

Frem pursed his lips and Robbie noticed a mole on his cheek.  Just like mine…

Watership Down!” Frem said decisively.

Robbie gaped.  “That’s mine too!”

So, Frem wasn’t just repeating what Robbie had said… Robbie started to relax, feeling like they really had a lot in common and perhaps they could make a go of it…

His phone flashed.  A text from Shona.

“R U OK?”

“Excuse me.”  Robbie got to his feet and hurried to the Gents.

“Fine,” he texted back.  “He’s v. nice.  Could be the One.  I’m getting good vibes.”

“B careful,” came the reply.

“Yes, mum!” Robbie sent, adding a winking face.

He spruced himself up in the mirror, stopping to peer at the mole on his cheek.  What a coincidence that Frem has one too.  In the exact same spot!

He went back to the table and stopped short.  Sitting on Frem’s chair was a perfect replica of Robbie.  Every detail down to the way he had only just primped his hair.

“Sit,” said Frem in Robbie’s voice.

“No!” Robbie panicked.  He turned to run and found another copy of himself blocking his way.  His eyes darted around the bar.  Everyone looked exactly like him, even the barmaid. 

Robbie fumbled his phone, speed-dialling Shona.

“Help!” he screamed.  “You’ve got to help me!”

“There, there,” his own voice spoke in his ear.  “Everything’s going to be all right.”

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Filed under horror, Short story

A Drink with James

“Is something wrong?” James’s forehead wrinkled with concern.  “Have I got something on my nose?”

He released Jonathan from their handshake and self-consciously wiped his fingers across his face.

“No, no!” Jonathan laughed.  “I apologise for staring.  It’s just that—”

“What?”

“You look exactly like your profile picture.”

“And that surprises you?”

“Well, yes!  I’ve turned up for dates and been confronted with some doddery old geezer whose profile picture was taken thirty years ago.”

“So, you prefer younger men.  Is that what you’re telling me?”

James gestured to a nearby table.  They sat.

“No!” Jonathan gasped, turning red.  “I prefer honest men.  That’s what I’m saying.  I don’t care how old they are.”

“As long as they’re old enough, right?”

“Yes!  Of course!”

James chuckled.  “I’m teasing you!”

He pulled out his smartphone and began tapping away.

“Oh.”  Jonathan sat back.  “If I’m boring you…”

James laughed.  “Will you relax?” 

He showed Jonathan the screen.  “This place has an app.  I’m just ordering drinks.  Better than all that jostling at the bar.  They bring your order directly to you.  You feel like a king!  What’ll you have?”

“Erm… Do they have any of that designer cider?  You know, it comes in different colours.”

James scrolled through the menu.  “They do.  It comes in red, pink or purple.”

“Um, purple.  Please.”

James placed the order.

“I don’t know, in my day we just ordered cider and blackcurrant.  But it’s all marketing now, I suppose.”

“I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“When?”

“Just now.”

“It’s all marketing.  Dressing things up so they can charge more for them.”

“No.  Before that.”

“Did I?”

“You said ‘back in my day’ or something to that effect.”

“Did I?”

“What do you mean by that?  When was ‘your day’ exactly?”  Jonathan peered closely across the table.

“What are you staring at?”

“I’m trying to see if you’ve had work done.  Grandpa!”

James was aghast.  “Work done!  I haven’t had any work done!  How dare you!  Cheeky varlet—I mean, whippersnapper—I mean—”

He clamped his mouth shut as Jonathan got to his feet.

“Look, I’m not sure what game you’re playing,” he tossed a five-pound note to the table.  “That’s for the cider.  I’m done.”

He strode away.

James slumped.  A barmaid approached, bearing a tray.  She set two glasses of purple cider on the table.

“You all right, love?” she chirped.  “Can I get you anything else?”

“No,” said James, bitterly.

He’d be having words with that travel agent.   Come to the future, they’d said.  It gets better, they said.  It’s easier for gays to find love, they said.

What a load of bollocks.

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Filed under Short story

Pride in my work

Many of my protagonists are gay, but their stories are not about the problems of being that way.  They have plenty of other stuff to deal with!   Here’s a brief look at my gay heroes, without giving too much away, I hope.

DETECTIVE INSPECTOR DAVID BROUGH – The Brough & Miller series.

Throughout the series (currently running to ten books) D I Brough has a couple of serious relationships and also periods of being single (hello, hook-ups; hello, internet pornography!)  He has to deal with turning 40, which is like Death in gay terms, and he has to come to terms with loss, domestic violence, and even a spot of conversion therapy.  All of this while solving bizarre murders.  He is handsome, prefers his hair long, and keeps himself in shape, but he can also be pedantic and snitty. 

OCTAVIUS MINT – Octavius Mint and the Indigo Dragon

Octavius is quick-witted and promiscuous.  Pansexual, I suppose you’d call him (in fact, one reviewer complained they couldn’t tell if he was male or female because of his attraction to both of those genders!  How narrow their world-view must be!).  He spends most of this sci-fi adventure searching for his love interest, ‘Love Interest’, while navigating a life that keeps resetting itself, like a video game.  He can’t understand asexuals at all.  To him they are the opposite of what he believes in (unbridled hedonism, and hey, perhaps the bridle is OK too) and so he tends to see them as the villains of the piece.

HECTOR MORTLAKE & CUTHBERT – The Hector Mortlake series

Victorian fop Hector meets Cuthbert on the Orient Express of all places, in their first adventure Kiss of the Water Nymph.  He employs the younger, more athletic man as his valet – or at least, that’s the facade they present to the world as they bonk their way through some outlandish adventures in exotic locations.  Hector is louche, vain and insecure, while Cuthbert is cheeky and chirpy and, dare I say it, handy with his fists.  There is nothing Cuthbert hasn’t done, nowhere he hasn’t been, it seems, in his short life.  Hector is lucky to have him.

DAMIEN DEACUS – Trapping Fog

Poor Damien!  He is too embroiled in the grisly murders of sex workers in Victorian London to do anything about his proclivities.  He is probably the least queer thing about this book, which I describe as ‘a slice of steampunk’ but he does have a nice line in Cockney rhyming slang.  

PAUL BEECROFT – Poor Jacky

Best-selling author Paul is haunted by his past.  Perhaps if he hadn’t fancied his co-worker at the time, there wouldn’t have been the inciting incident that triggers his torment for the rest of the book!  This is my most Stephen King-like novel, so of course, the protagonist is a writer.  I don’t think Mr King has ever had a gay writer as his leading man, but I’m ready to be proved wrong about that.

SPARAFUCILE – The Assassin and His Sister

Pronounced ‘sparra-foo-chee-lay’, this character was inspired by Verdi’s Rigoletto, but don’t let that put you off.   My Sparafucile is dapper and dashing and ultimately too kind and/or incompetent to be an effective assassin.  Good job sister Mad is on hand to do the necessary.  Sparafucile suffers the pangs of love, but it’s not all pain without pleasure.  He’s one of my favourites, bless him.

CARADOC SPRAT – Space Pickle

Captain of space liner, The Merry Widow, Caradoc Sprat is what Captain Kirk might have been like if he were gay and indecisive and involved in Customer Service. Hooking up with an irresistible passenger is just the start of his problems.

QUENTIN QUIGLEY – Quoits & Quotability

What if the protagonist of a Jane Austen novel were a young gay man? That was the question I set out to answer in this Regency romp. Quentin is pretentious, petulant, and proud, infatuated with the local doctor and wary of the impertinent stable boy who seems to dog his every step. Oh, and a lesbian features quite significantly too. Forget Bridgerton; this book would be fabulous on Netflix!

DOMINIC and SEBASTIAN – The Rough Rude Sea

A gay pirate love story fantasy adventure. What more do you want? Inspired by the song Gay Pirates by Cosmo Jarvis, this rollocking, romantic romp puts our two leads through the mill and then some. Bonus points if you can identify the Shakespeare play I nicked the title from.

There is more LGBTQ+ representation in other books.  Banishing The Bogwitch for example (but that would be telling!)  I don’t think queer stories have to be about coming out or homophobia – other people have already written those stories countless times, and probably better than I could.  My characters’ queerness is a facet of their identity, just like mine is of me.  I write books that I would like to read, in the hope that someone else will like them too.

You can look up my books here. They’re all available to download, and some are out in paperback too, for you traditionalists.

Happy Pride Month to all my lovely readers, whatever lights your candle.

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Filed under On Writing, Update

The Bottle

Derek arrived home after six weeks away to find suitcases stacked in the hallway.  “Petal?” he called, dropping his keys into the dish on the side table.  He went through to the kitchen, the living room.  There was no sign of his partner.  He called up the stairs.

“Are you up there, Petal?  What’s going on?”

There were muffled sounds, hushed voices.  Derek bounded up the stairs and into the bedroom.

Petal was in bed.  Alone.

“Taking a nap?” Derek smiled but his eyes darted around the room.  The wardrobe doors were open, revealing half-empty shelves and hangers.  “What’s with all the bags?”

Petal sniffed and blew his nose into a tissue.

“I’m leaving you.”

“What?  No!”

“I’m sorry but it’s true.  The cab should be here in a few minutes.”

Derek sat on the bed and put his head in his hands.  “What did I do wrong?  Tell me.  I’ll make it right, whatever it is.”

“Oh, baby, you haven’t done anything wrong.  In fact, you did something right.  If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have met Black Bartholomew.”

“What?” Derek stared at his partner.  “Who?”

“Not my usual type,” Petal reached for a brush to tidy his hair.  “But we’ve got to know each other lately, while you’ve been away on your dives.”

“What are you talking about?  Who is this guy?”  Derek’s eyes widened.  He dropped to the floor and checked under the bed.  “Where is he?  My God, were you two… when I came home?  In our bed!”

Petal chuckled.  “What can I say?  I’m in love!”

Derek stalked across the room and yanked the curtains aside.

“I don’t get it.  You never go out.  You never meet anyone.  Is it someone you found on an app?  Some sleazy pick-up that’s put these stupid ideas in your head?”

“No!” Petal looked shocked.  “I would never!  Listen, it all started after you brought that bottle home.”

“What bottle?  What the hell are you talking about?”

“You know.  The green one with the barnacles.  And the tiny ship inside it.  You said it might be worth something, but I said let’s keep it.”

“And?  What?”

“Well, off you went, diving for something else God knows where.  Little did we know, you’d already brought me my treasure.”

Derek stared.  “I don’t get it…”

Petal laughed.  “I opened the bottle!  Some water trickled out and a puff of green stuff.  But then, that night, there he was, standing at the end of the bed like you are now.  Large as life.  Larger, truth be told!”

Derek blustered.  “So who is he, this Black Barnaby?

“Bartholomew, actually.  He said he was a pirate but he was made to walk the plank because of his… proclivities.  They treated gays badly in those days, you see.”

“So, what you’re telling me is you’re leaving me for the ghost of a gay pirate?”

“Yes.  If you put it like that, I am.”

“Petal,” Derek took both his partner’s hands in his.  “Listen to me; you haven’t been taking your medication.  I know it’s not easy for you, staying here all alone while I’m away, but it’s going to be worth it.  One day I’m going to find something that will set us up for life.”

A car horn tooted in the street.

Petal sprang out of the bed.  “My cab!  Toodles!”

“Oh no,” Derek moved to block the door.  “You’re not going anywhere.  I’m calling the doctor.”

“Don’t be silly,” Petal swatted him aside.  He tripped lightly down the stairs and opened the front door to give the cab driver a friendly wave.

“Shut the door,” Derek said from the top of the stairs.  He was holding the green bottle above his head.  “Shut the door now or I’m smashing this bottle.  You’ll never see your pirate boyfriend again.”

Petal whimpered.  “You wouldn’t!”

“Oh, no?” David snarled.  “Watch me!”

He was about to dash the bottle to the floor when a glowing sword appeared through his sternum.  Gagging and coughing up blood, Derek toppled forward and plummeted down the stairs.

Petal clapped his hands.  “Oh Bart!” he called up to the ghostly outline of a figure on the landing.  “It looks like we’re staying after all.”

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Filed under ghost story, humour, Short story