As we work, I tune in … and I see when you first met Shigem, Kim, three months ago. You’d gone to a party called Jungle, on a Monday at a club called Busby’s on Charing Cross Road, with your friend Robert plus a friend of his. The three of you were sitting in an alcove on the left, when another friend of Robert’s came over and greeted him. You took little notice but went to the dance-floor. A few minutes later you saw this new arrival dancing near you, glancing at you. You made recognition signs. He leaned towards your ear, but then said nothing. Flattered and amused by his shy approach, you smiled at him. “Can I buy you a drink?” he asked. You were attracted to him, no question. Everything was easy. “Yes,” you replied. You felt his arm go round your waist, and his long black hair with its blond highlights spilling past your shoulder. His presence was permeated by gayness, somatically engrained—a luscious quality that spread, sleek and fluid as a dancer, through every move and every word of his, as blood pervades a body. The chemistry between you was enormous and immediate. With absolute naturalness, you both were embracing by the time you’d reached the bar. With such unholy speed did your relationship start: there never was a thing between the two of you, except it.
Memories of the very early evenings spent at your place have a golden glow already, just three months on. You kissed the brim of his glass before you handed it to him. Candle-light on bookshelves and cabinets, enchanted conversation, wine glasses filled and the evening and night ahead. Food, wine, cigarettes, the sharing of music and books, then making love, then sleep (or lying there awake as you stared at the sweep of passing headlights on the darkened bedroom ceiling, while Shigem stirred in sleep and then became still again), while the London rain pattered on outside … simple, inevitable, joyful incunabula of this relationship.
You spent hours entwined, not only in bed but in most other places too. Wherever you went, there was a powerful pull to hold each other close, whether talking or silent, serious or giggling. You spent so long entwined, it was as if you were catching up on lost affection, making up for all that lost time when you didn’t know each other. Shigem was so attracted, needing, gentle, wanting always to be with you, that you were wary sometimes of the strength of his need. But you returned it, exulting in the warmth and the comfort and the friendship and the love.
There was that graffito on the wall by the café where you used to meet: “Meanwhile a dwarf is passing out in downtown Detroit.” Much excited dialogue, talking on the phone and meeting every day. Together in the photo booth in Earl’s Court station, while it thundered outside; spitting rain, wet streets, wet umbrellas and the Underground. Sex on the mattress on the floor of the cold Friern Barnet room: the curtains always drawn, the electric bar-heater and the television playing, with the chair-legs black across the screen, from where you lay.
And there among the housing in a cramped grey corner of a stretch of the city was another room where you and he sailed away—the room where he was staying with some others, in a council estate down in Elephant & Castle. You laughed out of wonder and anxiety, wanting this emotional adventure with Shigem of course, yet fearing it. His friends were always barging through or idling in the room—except they weren’t real friends, just temporary roommates who shared the same nightlife. The blond one, Fred, would flounce around, prattling on and borrowing clothes and making mugs of tea for the three of you. He’d do a fashion show with a towel for the whole room—the two of you—and you would both hold each other, there beneath the bedclothes, and squeal, to encourage him and also because, in your excitement and happiness, anything was funny if you wanted it to be. You slept on a mattress on the floor, at the head of which, right where a headboard should have been, was a scalding radiator; so you couldn’t sit and lean back against anything, but had to recline on your elbows or lie upon your side on one elbow or sit cross-legged leaning forward. Through a long low window was a dim court, half-enclosed between blocks of flats in brown brick with walkways. The London spring outside was wet and cold, so near the window it was cold, but near the radiator too hot; below the duvet too hot, but too cold above it.
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