The Wall and Goat Ch. 15bysexuscumlupus©
Chapter 15: Jesse
I was sure of my decision and full of self-confidence for the length of time it took me to walk to the train station, get on the train and actually think about what I said to Maxie. And then I broke down.
I had one good thing in my life. One. I had Maxie, Maxie my boyfriend, Maxie who understood me as best he could, who tried and cared and was beautiful and talented and confident. And then I threw it all away. I stood, wanting to run back, and the train left. It left without my heart and soul on it.
I had no idea what I'd done.
I'd woken up from a dream where my attacker had killed Maxie. Again. And he hadn't been there. I'd wanted to hold onto his body, let the warmth of him wash the dream away and he hadn't been there. It had been damned selfish of me, and I'd panicked. Regardless of that, I knew I was a reprehensible little shit for walking out on him.
He didn't pick up his phone, and after I'd tried once, the shame of what I'd done stopped me from trying again. He wasn't home all week, and mum had found the hole in the wall and filled it with expanding foam.
Maxie wasn't in school, and then I wasn't.
The closer I had gotten to Maxie, the fewer the nightmares had become, but when they'd come they had been awful. Now I dreamt every night. And they were not the same dreams as before.
Maxie was walking away. I ran after him through a brown desert landscape, but no matter how my legs pumped and my chest burned I couldn't catch up, couldn't keep up. I screamed, but he never turned around.
The first night I woke seven times, each time soaked in sweat and shivering violently. The lack of Maxie on the other side of the wall was palpable in the darkness. Each and every night the dream came, each and every night I woke screaming his name. Wednesday after half term I didn't go in to school, and took the train out to do what I needed to.
Chaime and Alec were not best pleased to see me. Chaime looked like he was about to go totally postal, the anger in his eyes was a sharp stabbing reminder of what I had done to Maxie. Alec was softer, and sent his lover and the dogs to go for "a bloody long walk. Get out Chai" while we talked.
I enjoyed talking to Alec. He was small and pale and so completely unlike Chaime that it was hard to see what they had in common at first. But that was what they had in common. Chaime was expressive and loud, and Alec had half a heart, so he couldn't be any of those things. He needed Chaime to big loud and forthright and Chaime needed him to be reflecting and gentle. They worked so well together when I finally saw it. For those hours I had sat in bed in shock and Alec had talked to me, he had told me all about him and Chaime. They had fallen in love when Alec had still been school, he'd been younger than us. They were meant to be together. Now as Alec sat me down on the sofa and went to make tea, I realised that the hole where my heart had been wasn't heart shaped. It was Maxie shaped. I had to get him back.
"So I'm not that surprised to see you Jesse. You want to tell me why you're here?" Alec sat crossed legged in a leather wingchair, folding his feet under his slender frame. His eyes, watercolour sky pale blue pinned me where I sat.
"I need help." I swallowed. Anyone else would have made some glib sarcastic comment in that pause, but not Alec, "I broke up with Maxie because I thought that I couldn't be with him if I wanted to try and get better. And I was really really wrong."
"You weren't all wrong." Alec was like a numbing wave of calm. Sea fog rolling. "You do need to try and get help. What happened to you was awful, a terrible thing, and you kept it a secret for a long time Jesse. It nearly destroyed you. And the fact that you didn't want to talk about that either worries me. But Maxie loves you, you didn't need to leave."
"I know that now," I wanted to explode at him, but Alec was patience incarnate, I couldn't throw a fit in his perfectly arranged living room like a typical teenager, "But I don't know what I can do now. He must hate me."
"Call him. Undo it."
"I'm scared." I put my head in my hands so I wouldn't have to look at the honesty in Alec's face. "I'm scared of my dreams, of...of the flashbacks." I breathed, my chest tight, "There was a moment when I thought....but it wasn't him. I'm so screwed up. Maxie deserves better."
I was surprised to find Alec holding my hand, more surprised to find myself in tears.
"Let Maxie decide what he deserves. Here," Alec handed me a card, "I think you should go and talk to my friend. He has a standing appointment booked for you. If you take the bus now you'll get there in time."
"But..." How could I tell my secrets to a stranger? It had taken me ages to even think of telling Maxie, and I was in love with him. Even in my head the words hurt. I was in love with Maxie, and I walked away from him. How was I going to explain anything to a total stranger?
"Trust me. Go." Alec stood and took my cold un-drunk team "Come back after. I'll make you some lunch."
I sat on the bus, rolling towards the sea, and words I heard only in Maxie's voice played and replayed through my head. 'And I won't fight through the rising tide If that's the way it has to be/Sea fog comes, like a river rolls a stone It's rolling me/Sea fog rolling' I drifted along the sea front, looking for the number on the card. It was a blue building, nothing special, and I rang the buzzer with my stomach in my throat. I wanted to bolt and run. I fought to stand there and stay.
The man who answered the door looked almost but not totally completely unlike what I expected. In my head I'd held pictures of shrinks from films, but this man was perfectly normal. He was in his mid-thirties, he had brown hair and a crooked nose. He looked normal. His smile was soft, as soft as Alec.
"Hi," I fingered the card in my hands, the only thing I'd ever twisted the edges of until it looked as dog-eared as one of Maxie's paperbacks, "Are you..." I checked the card, "Cameron Laydon?"
"Yes," the nice looking normal man who was a psychiatrist held out his hand, "You must be Jesse. Alec said you were tall. Come on in." Dr Laydon led me into a little square foyer with black and white tiles and then opened the door to his left. His office-cum-therapy room was neat and soft and sort of manly. There were a couple of tall glass fronted bookcases with little lead lined windows; a big leather arm chair; a desk, maybe oak of some other traditional material. There was no a traditional therapists couch, but a selection including a giant red sofa bean bag, a chaise and an overstuffed squishy sofa.
"Where would you like to sit Jesse?" I picked the chaise, and Dr Laydon dragged the desk chair around to sit facing me. He folded his arms in his lap, one ankle crossed onto the other knee and looked at me.
"What am I supposed to do now?" I fiddled with my fingernails, pulling gently at my cuticles. I felt the weight of expectation on me. I had no idea what to say.
"Jesse, you don't have to do anything." Dr Laydon smiled softly at me, "This is your time Jesse, we can talk about whatever you like."
"Really?" I was surprised, and grateful. My cuticle bled and I popped the finger into my mouth.
"Really really," Dr Laydon leant back in his chair, "We can just talk. Do you want me to sit here? I can sit out of view if you'd prefer."
I shook my head.
"No it's fine." I fiddled with the hem of my school jumper. I'd never known myself to be such a fidget, "What did Alec tell you about me? Am I allowed to ask that?"
"You can ask whatever you like," Dr Laydon smiled, "This is somewhere you can ask or say whatever you want Jesse. Alec and I went to university together, he called me last week and told me about you. He said you were a friend of one of Chaime's connections. He told me about the shock the other week. Do you want to talk about that?"
I tapped my knuckles twice against the chaise, then realising that Dr Laydon had no idea what it meant, I shook my head.
"Two knocks for no."
"Where did that come from?"
"Me and Maxie. We used to talk through the wall. One for yes, two for no."
"Would you like to talk about Maxie?"
I smiled to me lap.
"He's my boyfriend. He was my boyfriend. I screwed it up." I sighed, but apparently Dr Laydon didn't feel the need to fill the silence that I left. I did. "I panicked and I thought I needed to be alone to try and get better. I really fucked it up. He hates me." I worried that I shouldn't have sworn, "Sorry."
"Why are you sorry?"
"I have this feeling that you should say 'fuck' in a therapists lounge."
"Jesse you can say whatever you like. Fuck is a fine adjective and well as a noun and verb. What's Maxie like?"
"He's beautiful, and really tall, nearly as tall as me. He's Turkish and he eats cheese and honey for breakfast, which is really odd. And he's really messy and I love him." I stopped and stared at Dr Laydon, "I know it's stupid, all teenagers think that they're in love."
"That doesn't make it any less true, less real."
"Thanks. We didn't really start off as friends, even though I thought he was beautiful. I didn't want to admit that I was..." I paused. I still didn't want to say it out loud.
"It's OK Jesse. You don't have to say anything."
"But why is it so hard to say?" I thumped my leg, frustration bunching my muscles, "Why can I say that I love him, and need him and want to kiss him and yet it's so hard to just say 'Hi I'm Jesse and I'm-' see?"
"You'll get there Jesse, you will. Tell me how you met."
"I hit him."
Laydon raised an eyebrow, but he allowed me to go on. I told him about leaving London, moving in next door to Maxie, and about the wall. He thought the wall was interesting, I didn't try to understand why. I'd gotten up to the bit where we woke up in the paddocks, and realised that I had spent nearly two hours talking to a complete stranger about my life. Laydon hadn't made any notes, hadn't fiddled or fidgeted, or interrupted. The only time anyone allowed me to speak without interrupting was when I spoke to Maxie.
"Do you feel better?"
I considered this. I missed Maxie, my heart hurt for him, and I wasn't sure if I'd screwed that up forever. It was too painful to think about.
"On average, yeah."
"Would you like to come back and see me tomorrow?"
I thought of all the money that my mum had wasted on shrink's after I'd cut myself. Either I hadn't been ready or they hadn't been nearly as nice as this guy was.
"I can't. I can't afford it."
Laydon waved a dismissive hand.
"There are ways of taking care of that in situations like yours Jesse. Don't you worry about it. I would like to give you this though." He passed over a slim yellow covered volume, "A journal. For dreams, musings, thoughts, questions. If you ever want to ask anything, or tell me anything you can't quite put into words, you write in there. Or scribble. I've gotten quite good at deciphering half-asleep pictograms. Come see me tomorrow, about ten o'clock."
"Thanks," I stood, and Laydon walked with me to the door of the house. On the step outside I stopped and turned back to him, "Dr Laydon?"
"Can I be fixed?"
Laydon smiled, the same soft smile that Alec wore, the smile that Paul had when he doted on Nuka and Maxie.
"Well Jesse. That's sort of up to you."
I ate lunch with Alec and did by usual trick of managing to find plenty of things in the house to tidy, clean and organise. Alec joked that Chaime was going to arrive home one day to find all the tools in the garage lined up in alphabetical order.
I phoned home, which was painful. Mum went ballistic at me down the phone. I tried to explain, tried to tell her I was getting help. And when she raged about 'what did her only son need help for' I clammed right up again. Alec prised the phone from my fingers and used a tone I could easily imagine made both the dogs and Chaime fear him to quell her. I was going to stay with Chaime and Alec for the rest of the week. She was not happy, but eventually, with the promise of daily phone calls, she relented.
Going back to the apartment I had shared with Maxie was painful bordering on impossible, so Alec installed me in the bedroom next to the dog's room. The bed was more normal sized, and once Chaime got home with the dogs I ended up sharing it with Hahn. I'd never been a natural dog person, but Hahn jumped up onto the bed liked he owned it. He looked like a wolf, all grey fur and yellow eyes, but he licked my face and decided to follow me everywhere like a loyal pup.
That night I lay on the bed with Hahn breathing on my hands having pushed his big fluffy head under my arm to be involved and flipped open the journal Laydon had given me. All the pages were really blank, it was scary, but I liked neat black handwriting on white paper, so I started with just one sentence.
My name is Jesse Newall and I am gay.
In my dream I was walking through Hyde Park with Hahn at my side. He was bigger, a wolf somehow the size of a lion, but he padded along like he was made of air. The sky was blue, the grass we green, and everything was perfect. I needed to piss, so I left Hahn waiting and stepped down into the recently refurbished bathrooms, all cream tiles and Victoriana around the borders. At first I thought that there was no one in the bathrooms, but there was a noise coming from one of the stalls. I went to look.
There was a man, his face was turned away. There was a boy beneath him, bleeding from his head. He looked like me. Perspective tried to snap, to make me the victim instead of the observer. I fought it. Then the man turned around to pin me with flat, hard, dark brown eyes and it wasn't Maxie.
It wasn't Maxie.
I still woke in a cold sweat, Hahn pushing his nose against me, a soft whine to show he was awake, and concerned about his pet human. I remembered the dream with vivid clarity. Well that had been slightly sick, and probably largely meaningless. I turned to the wall, to tell Maxie, and realised he wasn't there. Loss struck painful harmonics in my chest. I had to get him back, and I had no idea how.
Every day that week I took the bus into town to see Laydon. We ended up missing lunch lots. There seemed to be no official end to our sessions. Laydon sat in his chair and let me talk, about pretty much anything I wanted, occasionally asking questions, wanting clarifications. I told him about Strange Land and the poetry, about the hole in the wall that Maxie put there and about our fights. I told him about Ian's nose. On the fifth day he asked me which poem reminded me most of myself, and the answer was out before I tried to stop it.
"I Say, I Say, I Say. It's about attempting suicide." Laydon raised an eyebrow and waited for me to go on, " 'Anyone here had a go at themselves for a laugh?/Anyone opened their wrists with a blade in the bath?' It was a craft scalpel actually, left over from when I used to make up those airfix kits, you know with the planes and things. I threw them all away when we moved."
"Why did you throw them away?"
"I'm not a kid any more. I wanted a fresh start."
"Then why not throw everything away? That would be a real clean slate."
I scowled and got up, pacing the room.
"There's nothing here to analyse Laydon! They were just toy planes! There is no deep meaning in getting rid of them, " I paced across his room, wanting throw a strop, so frustrated at how dense he was being, and here I though therapists were supposed to be intuitive. "I can't believe you'd hook onto the only bit of that sentence that didn't matter. I tried to fucking kill myself because I got raped, and you got stuck on why I threw old toys away." I stopped, my brain pedalling like mad to catch up with my voice, "Oh...shit..."
I turned, but Laydon did not look like a self-satisfied manipulative prick, and that was kind of annoying all by itself. He didn't even have the good grace to look smug.
"I don't suppose there's any way we can just put that back in the box and not talk about it is there?"
Laydon gave a tiny half shrug.
"Only if you really really want to. And something tells me you don't."
I paced. Turned. Paced. Stared out of the window. 'You think you've done your journey/Then you stumble and find that there's such a long way to go'/I paced around the room, avoided looking at Laydon/'Drag your heart up to the starting line/It's too easy to get left behind'/I turned, stared, sat down again/'You wanna be lost but now you're found/Drink to the bad times/Lay them down on me'
I took a deep breath, and began at the beginning.