A Boy Who Came In from the Cold Ch. 19bySadieRose©
"Well... the end has come at last. It's taken me a little over a year to write this story and I'd like to say a big thank you to all the kind people who have read A Boy Who... in its entirety (some of you, amazingly, more than once!) You've been very patient with me, and I'm so grateful for all the wonderful comments and e-mails you've sent. It just makes me happy to know that you've taken some pleasure from Rayne's sorry tale and that makes all the hard work worth while.
I wrote A Boy Who... for my friend Ant, who originally wanted a role in a vampire tale. This epilogue is for him. It's a strange little piece, written as a bridge between Rayne's life and his Unlife. I hope I've done him justice.
A Happy New Year to you all!
TEN YEARS LATER:
(LONDON -- SEPTEMBER 1999)
It was already dark outside when Mr. Wright left the cinema on Shaftesbury Avenue. A steady drizzle made the pavements gleam in the coppery glow of the streetlights. He turned up his collar, dissatisfied with the cinematic fare, which overzealous reviewers had tried to work up into some kind of priapic orgy when in truth it was nothing more than a fairly tame rom-com with a bit of full-frontal nudity thrown in to piss off the censors. He walked back up to Piccadilly in search of a cab, reflecting ruefully on warmer days and sunnier climes. In a few weeks he would be off to Cornwall to spend a short break on one of his boats with some close friends, but for the time being he would have to be content with this business trip to the Capital.
It had been several years since Ant had last lived in London. When it finally became too expensive to moor in Greenwich he upped anchor and moved up the Grand Union to Oxford, spending a year or two on the outskirts of the bustling academic town before finally settling in the Black Country. His businesses there and in Cornwall now yielded enough income to purchase a house and add to his collection of sailing vessels. One was the yacht down in St Mawes, where he was currently looking forward to some well-earned R+R. The other was a restored restaurant boat moored on the Canal du Midi in France. Currently Terry Goodwill was minding the latter for him. He hoped the old bastard had not managed to sink it during some wild party.
Terry had barely known what to do with himself in the eighteen months since Daniel Leland's death. Although they had never been lovers, he and Leland had been a virtually inseparable couple for nearly twenty years. Ant felt sorry for his old friend. The boat got Terry out of Ambonne and kept him busy. There were still boys there every weekend, even though Goodwill was in his sixties now. Ant could almost hear him chuckling; "You can keep a good man hard but you can't keep a hard man down, Rosie!"
He felt guilty at having missed Daniel's funeral. Terry had brought his body back to Dulwich, where apparently the old man still had surviving family. It had been quite a send off, by all accounts, though he wondered what the blue-rinsed, well-to-do relatives thought of the glamorous porn starlets gathered at the graveside, and vice-versa! Ant had been over in Ireland on holiday at the time. He did not find out that Daniel had passed away until after his return to England, although the news still saddened him. Leland could be a contrary old so and so but he was a loyal friend. He had never turned Ant away from his door in times of need. Even though they had not seen one another for nearly five years, he still felt the sorrow acutely. In some ways he had been closer to Dan Leland than to his own kin.
The memory of Leland and the glorious summers spent at Port Ambonne turned his mind unexpectedly back to that bizarre time, nearly ten years ago, when he had fled to the Cap with Rayne Wylde. Jesus Christ! His friends still refused to believe that story; that he had once dipped his wick into the sweet, hot flame that was rock band Whipsnade's crazy, beautiful, screwed-up lead singer. The band were in all the magazines and Wylde was on the front cover of the tabloids at least six times a year for some form of riotous behaviour, usually being escorted from restaurants and clubs, or the back of a police car.
Last week he had seen the boy in action for the first time since Ambonne. Okay, so Rayne had been performing with his band on Top Of The Pops, but apart from pictures in the press and on the worn sleeve notes of ancient porn videos, he had not set eyes on the little hussy since Rayne ran out on him in 1989. It had been a revelation.
He was quietly aware that the boy -- no longer a boy now -- was the singer with a well-known band, but had not realised just how successful they were until he tried this week to get a ticket for one of their upcoming concerts in London. The helpful girl on the sales counter told him apologetically that all five nights at the Roundhouse had been sold out since February when the shows went on sale.
Ant would have been the first to confess that he knew nothing about pop music but Whipsnade had invaded his consciousness over the past twelve months. It had been a shock the first time he opened a magazine (one of the Sunday supplements, he thought now) to see that achingly familiar face staring insolently back at him. Initially he refused to believe it was the same boy he had dragged out of the snow all those years before but as his brain assimilated the accompanying interview he was forced to accept the truth.
At least the young man was no longer hiding behind a pimp or an alias these days. He hoped, with only a hint of bitterness, that this meant he was 'finally' comfortable with his identity. From the interview he did at least glean enough information to know that Rayne had not yet settled down. He coyly fielded enquiries about potential girl/boyfriends, although he was candid about his assorted addictions and the trouble they had got him into over the years. The magazine said he was 25. Mentally Ant calculated that the singer had to be at least 29 years old if he had been telling the truth about his age back in Agde. He looked pretty good for a man approaching thirty.
Watching him on TV last week, Ant saw some of the same defensive aggression behind his wide, kohl-ringed, emerald eyes. Rayne Wylde might be ten years older and spelling his surname differently but he still seethed with latent anger. His voice was stronger than Ant remembered from that long-ago gig at the Camden Falcon. It swung from a sweet falsetto croon to a crowing snarl as he swamped the microphone and stared challengingly into the camera. Poised on the edge of the sofa, unable to take his own eyes off the screen, all Ant could think of was the memory of that soft, sweet mouth wrapped around his erect cock.
It made him hard then and there, and he had no way of explaining to Elaine that once he and Wylde had shared the pleasure of that stiffening flesh. Like the rest of his friends, she would not have believed it, for a start.
Ant had been with Elaine since the spring of 1996, when he bought his house. Elaine worked for an estate agency, and whilst he did not actually bring her any business, for some reason the pretty branch manageress did accept his invitation to come out for a drink. A drink led to a meal and then a couple of pleasant days out and a weekend on his boat in Cornwall. Elaine shared his bed on that trip. Two months later she sold her own flat and moved in with him.
He loved her soft, sensuous curves, the fall of her dark hair and the swell of her gorgeous breasts, overflowing his caressing hands as he sank down onto her and into her. Elaine had the sweetest, wettest cunt he had ever tasted and he loved to lose himself inside her. He had not yet told her of his appetite for boys, nor did he think he ever would. It was not that he feared her disapproval, more that they were two separate parts of his life now. A part of the thrill of coming to London alone was about the secret cruising. It allowed him to do something daring and forbidden; something for himself, never to be spoken of in the polite circles Elaine moved in. Although he loved her and he enjoyed the time he spent with his girlfriend, the thrill of doing something dangerous still turned him on like nothing else.
Piccadilly Circus was oddly quiet in the gathering gloom of this rainy evening. He pushed sodden hair out of his eyes and scanned the streets for a taxi, but the black cabs he spotted were either occupied or running empty. Instead he set off on foot along Piccadilly itself. Even the whores around the Circus Plaza were unappealing tonight.
Outside the Ritz Hotel, one of many glamorous venues dotted along that famous thoroughfare, he was forced to swerve out into the road to avoid a sudden throng of people. He crossed to the opposite side where he was able to observe from the kerb with a little more detachment. They swarmed like bees or feeding pirhanas, converging on the colonnaded entranceway with a single-minded determination. He saw cameras flash as someone came out into a cordoned area beneath the portico but it was only a doorman in a top hat and long tails and the air of tension holding them together relaxed briefly.
Ant spotted a cab with its light on just then and abandoned his brief spectator's role, stepping back into the road and waving a hand to attract the driver's attention. Fortunately the vehicle was slowing to navigate around the throng that spilled off the opposite pavement and it stopped for him at once. As he opened the rear door to let himself into the warm, dry, black leather interior, the swarm began to buzz again, more urgently this time.
"King's Road, please," he told the driver with a sigh of relief at escaping the rain and the chaos.
And then the other door of the cab opened and admitted a howling, baying scene like some Dante-esque vision of Hell.
RITZ HOTEL, LONDON -- SEPTEMBER 18TH 1999
"This is not good!" The tall, impossibly-skinny, blond-dreadlocked youth, who had been pacing back and forth across the foyer for the last fifteen minutes, as near to the doors as he dared, now stared aghast at the growing pack of restless reporters trying to shelter from the rain beneath the portico of the Ritz Hotel. There was not much in the way of space out there and he was visibly unhappy with the situation. What had begun, earlier in the evening as an informal round of civilised interviews with the broadsheets in the Palm Court Tea Room, was now turning into bedlam as those elements deliberately excluded as a result of recent hostilities between the band and the press in Dublin got wind of the game plan. Now the press-pack was growing by the minute. "Not good at all. Can't we call the police?"
The polish concierge, who had been hovering by his shoulder for a little while, wearing a polite and would-be-helpful smile, shook his head.
"They say that they have right to be there."
"This is your doorstep," the lanky, blond fellow told him irritably.
"Technically, no," his companion pointed out. "I am only employee here."
"But you can make them go away," the blond insisted more adamantly. "This is ridiculous."
"If you go out and talk to them, maybe they go away," the little man answered him as diplomatically as he knew how.
"If we go out there now they're gonna kill us," the taller one pointed out to him, shaking his head until his long, honey coloured rat-tails of hair swayed like the thongs of a whip. "You've seen them! They're savages!"
"They cannot kill you. That would be crazy," the concierge told him soothingly.
"They are paparazzi! They are not sane men!" the blond shouted at him. He wheeled away irately, clutching his head in both hands. "For Christ's sake, where the hell is Chaz?"
He glanced at his watch again and paced back across the foyer to the group of bemused looking people waiting on a circle of velvet upholstered sofas near the bar. They were a dissolute looking bunch for sure, but not -- he considered -- worthy of a full scale press riot outside one of London's most prestigious hotels. If it had not been for the Dublin incident earlier in the year none of this would be happening.
"What's the score, Matty?" That was Ciaran Hartney, their laconic Irish bass player, who was sprawled with his feet up on an oriental lacquered occasional table, a half-empty pint glass in his hand, looking probably the least concerned of their tribe. Ciar stood a towering six feet three inches and was possessed of a fearsome Celtic stare that would probably have cowed the most determined journo. Maybe he should go out and talk to the press, Matt Greening thought grimly.
He had been managing this band for too long. Whipsnade were doing well in the charts and they were making money, in spite of the insane amounts that went on their 'excessive' rock lifestyle but Matt was exhausted from running around after them. It was like managing children sometimes, which was ridiculous too. With the exception of guitarist, Sean Courtney, they were all older than him. It was not fair, he decided with another shake of his head. Why couldn't someone else be the sensible one for a change?
"We can't go out the front way," he declared now, wishing he had agreed to be an accountant like his brothers. Wishing Rayne hadn't taken it into his head to deck that mouthy photographer last month in Dublin. "They want our blood."
"Correction..." That was pink-haired Noriko Mori, official band mother and keyboard genius. The curvaceous Japanese-American girl was perched on one arm of the long sofa, with the band's maverick singer Rayne Wylde draped languidly at her feet smoking a roll up and looking smug. "They want his blood!"
She pointed one long, magenta talon straight down at the top of Wylde's dark, tousled head.
"Great thinking! Throw Mouth Almighty to the press and we'll make a run for it out the back door!" Ciaran chuckled, raising his pint to her appreciatively.
"Thanks a bunch, you lot!" The singer blew out a long streamer of smoke, aiming it upward into Noriko's face. "I'll remember this!"
As she was waving the smoke away, looking unconcerned, the other two members of their party returned from their brief reconnoitre of the rear of the building. Their drummer, Simon Hathaway ran a hand through his short, spiky auburn hair and slumped down on a vacant chair shaking his head. Little Sean tugged fretfully on his chestnut ponytail and stared at the throng beyond the main doors with an anxious frown.
"No joy," Si exhaled. "They're out the back as well. I think Chaz tried to get round that way but he can't get near."
"He's driving a 20 foot, bullet-proof Merc!" Rayne exploded incredulously, swinging himself into a sitting position so that he could glare at his oldest friend. "What's his fuckin' problem? Run the bastards over!"
"It's that kind of attitude towards the press that got us in this situation to begin with," Sean reminded him tersely.
"They started it!" Rayne countered.
"You broke that guy's nose!" Sean was staring at him now, his blue eyes wide and openly hostile.
"He shouldn't have invaded my personal fucking space then, should he?" Wylde was shaking his head again irritably.
"I do not believe you, sometimes!" their young guitarist huffed, turning his back and staring miserably out towards the seething rabble beneath the portico.
Several hotel guests occupying the bar were now glancing warily in their direction, monitoring the heated exchanges between the band members in case something interesting kicked off. At least two of them were reporters from their earlier, prearranged press conference in the Palm Court Tea Rooms, who had hung around to see what would happen now that their tabloid brethren had arrived. Matty was conscious of this, and also of the fact that Rayne was beginning to loose his cool.
"It'll be all right," Matt heard himself say distantly. "They'll get bored with this in a while. We'll have another drink."
As he spoke one of the unfortunate doormen stumbled back into the foyer looking rather less composed than he had a few moments before. The doors closed smoothly behind him and the brief chorus of howls that followed him was swiftly muted again. A camera flashed hopefully just before the press were shut out.
"Call the cops!" Ciaran remarked from his deep, comfortable armchair in the foyer, utterly unconcerned. "We're being harassed here!"
"They'll bill us," Matt reminded him gloomily.
For a moment all eyes moved back to the ashen face of their singer-singwriter, stretched out on the sofa opposite Ciaran's chair. Clad in black from the high-collar of his Alexander McQueen coat to the tapered toes of his ebony, cuban heeled boots, Rayne Wylde was a brooding shadow. The rumpled sable bangs of his shoulder length hair and the darkness of his snug-fitting attire were only alleviated by his pale, heart-shaped face; leached of colour by a recent mystery illness that had stalled the band's European tour midway through. Currently he could barely talk, let alone sing. The press alleged that he was in rehab. Rayne Wylde insisted it had been pneumonia. The flashpoint of this argument had been the punch up in Dublin. At the moment it looked set to culminate here in the Ritz Hotel.
"I'm serious," he croaked.
"I know, babe," Matty soothed. "Kris'll go ballistic though."
Kris Speddings, the head of SOLD Records had been less than impressed about having to bail out his primary asset in Dublin. The police were already in talks with Whipsnade's gig promoters about the cost of manning the upcoming shows in London. Then, twenty-three days ago, Rayne lost his temper and punched out some wisecracking arsehole from the Daily Mail in the foyer of Dublin's Point Hotel. The scumbag had asked for a knuckle-sarnie, to be frank, but about five photographers got a good shot of the knockout blow and it made the front page of most of the tabloids the next day.
'Whipsnade Beast Goes Wylde!'
Hilarious... Not! At least, Kris and the Board of Directors did not seem to think so.
"Not bad for a half-dead junky, yeah?" Rayne had remarked insouciantly when he saw it.
"No publicity is bad publicity," Matt had valiantly reminded the Board, but this only earned him a 'look' from his generally tolerant Boss that warned him his head was in danger of winding up on a spike outside the record company's Notting Hill Gate offices.
"What's gonna be more expensive? Cops or getting' a couple of rooms here until they get bored and piss off to hassle someone else?" Rayne stretched out wearily on the sofa, tilting his head back into the cushions and closing those pale, tired eyes again.
He had a point, Matt conceded. Plus he had seen the pin-prick pupils of those eyes. Rayne was completely wrecked and the younger man was just thankful that he had managed to hold it together for the actual interviews and the formal photo session. Matt could not even remember letting him get out of sight, but someone must have got to him. Briefly Matty experienced another surge of irritation, tinged with envy that Rayne could get off his tits so easily and not even share with him. Things had been a bloody sight easier before the band got this big. He remembered promoting their first album with a surge of pleasure and pride. Back then everything had been fun. He and Ray fucked each other every chance they got. High on life and no small amount of illicit substances, they enjoyed every minute.
Now their relationship was almost exclusively business. Matt Greening could hardly recall the last time Rayne had been straight enough or horny enough to get inside him. It did not help that his former lover was still so fuckin' gorgeous. Even wasted, exhausted and desperately ill, he was beautiful to Matt's stinging eyes.
"Like I said, we only need to get 'him' out. It's 'him' they want."