By Martin Clement
Unless otherwise noted, this story is Copyright 2008 by Martin Clement for Clement & Boule Associates. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, published, distributed, displayed, performed, copied or stored for public or private use in any information retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any mechanical, photographic or electronic process, including electronically or digitally on the Internet or World Wide Web, or over any network, or local area network, without written permission of the author. No part of this story may be modified or changed or exploited in any way used for derivative works, or offered for sale, or used to construct any kind of database or mirrored at any other location without the express written permission of the author. Thank you for respecting the intellectual property rights protected by the copyright laws of Canada, the United States and International Copyright Treaty.
This story is a work of fiction. All the events and characters depicted in this story are parts of the imagination of the author only. Any similarity to real people, living or dead, or any event that might have occurred in reality should be considered as purely coincidental.
"Can you tell me why we are here again?" Patrick Ayward asked his agent as the butler left with their trenchs.
"It will be good for your career, Patrick."
"I don't really mix well with these snobbish people and I'm not comfortable in that penguin suit. And why do you think coming to this party would help my career? I'm a football player. This is the house of a nerdy writer."
"This, Patrick, is the place where the jet set meets. Being here means meeting important people and possibilities of sponsorship. Don't you realize how lucky we are that mister Kensworth invited us to his party? Didn't you see all these people outside begging the security guys so they would let them pass? That girl outside was short of showing off her breasts so she could get in. Well we're in. Should at least take the better out of it, don't you think? And by the way, I would relly like to engage a conversation with mister Kensworth. There is something I would like to discuss with him regarding your future."
"Yes. Trust me with that."
Patrick sighed in defeat.
"Okay," he mumbled, knowing too well that his agent was right. The football player followed his agent through the crowded foyer, through the whispers of the rich and famous and all the crowd of wannabes.
"Henry! I'm so glad you could come!" A middle aged man dressed in suit and bow tie greeted, shaking hand with the agent, giving him a wide smile.
"We wouldn't have missed it for anything, Richard!" Henry replied, returning the smile. "I want you to meet my protégé, Patrick Ayward. Patrick, Richard Mansfield."
"Oh yes, the Jet!" Richard exclaimed, extending his hand to the young man. "But where are my manners... would you like something to drink?" He waved a waiter and handed both guests a glass of champagne.
"Thank you," Henry said. "So may I ask you where mister Kensworth is?"
"Alexander was here earlier, but I am afraid he has retired for the night."
"It's sad," came Henry's reply as Patrick tried to contain a relieved sigh. "I was hoping I could have him sign my copy of Hidden Truth."
"Well, how about you hand it to me and I'll leave it to your office sometime over next week?"
"Of course! Alexander will be enchanted to sign it and as my office is only a couple of buildings away from yours, I don't see any problem in walking a couple of blocks. My doctor doesn't stop bugging me about the fact the exercise would be good for my heart." Richard casted a quick glance at the football player who seemed bored with the exchange before resuming. "But I suspect the main reason you accepted this invitation is not so you would have your book signed, my dear Henry."
"Why wouldn't I?" Henry feigned hurt.
"Oh please, Henry! You are not a reader. You may know the stories in Alexander's books, but only because you have seen the movies they shot about them down in California. "No I presume your reason to be here with your star player has more to do with these two shoemakers over there," he said, cocking his head in the direction of two elegant elder gentlemen talking loudly to a crowd of bystanders. "It seems as though everybody in the house has come here to show off their protégé so they would appear in one of their ads. Tennismen, models, wannabe actors... I wonder how they all knew they would be here tonight. You have any idea?"
"You make it sound as though we were all some kind of suckers..."
"Stop acting as a teenager in quest of drama, Henry," Richard patted the manager's back. We are in the same kind of business here, remember? You manage sportsmen's careers, I manage writers'. Let's face it, the whole concept of these house parties we host here is about marketing. Alexander writes his stories, and it goes without saying that he does pretty well in that matter. As for me, I manage. Alexander does not even appreciate these evenings. Me neither, may I add. He will show at the beginning of each gathering, shake a couple of hands then will disappear without his absence being noticed. Then it is my duty to entertain people so they have the night of their lives and so they leave with rolodexes full of the important visit cards. Contacts. It's all about them. And by coming to these parties every week, those important people bring other important people, and we all find our own profit in these little get-togethers. But you know about that, don't you?"
"I know, but you are mistaken in one point here," Henry said.
"And what might it be?"
"I am not saying that I am not interested in getting these gentlemen from Partridge Sportswears to meet Patrick, since they actually are here, but the main reason we agreed to your invitation is so we could settle an appointment with mister Kensworth."
"Why? You could have called my office for that."
"I know very well, Richard, and I have tried, but there seems to be a problem in getting to meet mister Kensworth."
"I admit Alexander's agenda does not seem to meet everybody elses'. But you have to understand that he is working hard on his books and does not want to let his inspiration slip away while meeting some people who are not going to help his work. We are talking about an artist here, not another marketing specialist. That is mainly why I am his agent. Everything that is not remotely involving information for his writing I deal with."
"I understand. But would it be too much for him just to meet us for a couple of minutes?" Henry pleaded.
"I wonder why you, a sportsmen agent, would be interested in meeting a writer. Alexander does not do in sport writing, he writes fantasy books."
"I know. And as weird as it may seems, I do have read Hidden Truth."
"Yes, and I may add that even though Gherrick's character is a work of fiction, and a very good I may add, he resembles very much my protégé, if you know what I mean."
Henry's smile fell, quickly replaced by one of horror.
"So you're here to blackmail Alexander?" he hissed.
"It's not like that, Richard."
"Well explain because the way you said this, I must admit that it is exactly what I am thinking about. Let me set this clearly, Henry. It is stipulated that this is a work of fiction and that any resemblance to any real people is purely coincidental. Never in this book is it mentioned the name of mister Ayward."
"That is where you are wrong, dear Richard," Henry said, browsing through the book, then handing it to the literary agent. "Here, on page 648, in the middle of the page, when he depicts the sexual scene between the two guys..."
Richard cut him.
"It has nothing to do with eroticism. Alexander does not do into porn. Don't forget his major fan club is constituted of teenagers, Henry."
"Well it is very close to. But my point is not about the way he describes the relationship that revulses me, but the fact that in every page, he describes a bit of Gherrick's body, then on page 648, he gives a very graphic description of the tattoo Patrick has on his right buttock. Then, as if it were not enough, that faggot of a writer of yours has forgotten to change the name so instead of it being written Gherrick, as it is everywhere else, it is Patrick's name that is written black on white." Henry said, his face now as red as peonies while Patrick gasped, his whole face flushed.
"Okay..." mumbled Richard. "So you said you were not here to blackmail Alexander... but I guess, hearing your tone and your bigoted derogatory word, that is exactly what you both are doing here!" he added, his eyes narrowing on the two men standing in front of him.
"Take it the way you want, Richard," Henry snickered. "I don't give a damn. But I won't let this faggot destroy Patrick's career."
"Oh please, Henry, cut being the drama queen a moment..."
"Don't you fucking dare calling me a queen, you stupid fag enabler!"
"I won't let you use such a vocabulary inside this house, Henry. We are in Alexander Kensworth's house here, don't you forget it," Richard said, sensing his diplomacy leaving him.
"I don't care what you say. And I could care less what this little fudge packer does with his dick, as long as he doesn't endanger my clients' career!"
"Stop it or I will call security."
"It won't be necessary. We are leaving, since you don't seem cooperative. But you will hear from us very soon."
"Are they gone?" asked a soft voive coming from one of the tall armchairs facing the flaming fireplace.
"They are," Richard answered as he cautiously let himself inside the library.
"I should have been more cautious."
"Perhaps I thought he would not have known I was talking about him," Alexander whispered, dreamily rolling the cognac in its glass between skinny fingers. "If only I could have seen this mistake before it went to press... I have never wanted him to know..."
"Patrick. I have never wanted him to know that I used to have a crush on him.
"You knew each other?"
A hurt laugh escaped Alexander's lips as Richard put a hand on the back of his seat.
"I thought you could tell after seeing them."
"Why didn't you tell me?
"Tell you? Why? It is not as if it were any of your business, may I say."
"Well I guess it is my business now."
"That is why I am telling you now," Alexander answered matter of factly.
"So... could it be of any help if you told me more about that?"
"I doubt it. But I guess, now that it is all out in the open, that I owe you as much so you will be prepared to what is coming our way."
I have always been what you could call a bookworm, which never brought me many friends. And not having any friend tended to push me inside of my own little world even more. I have never complained about it and am not about to, considering where I stand now as a best selling author. I definitely owe this to my years of studying Bernard Werber or Isaac Asimov while taking a part of their quests as one of their characters. I was as you could hear if you ever made literary studies, what is called a romantic reader, which is a reader who tries to enter the story by becoming one of the characters. While other kids of my own age were still engrossed in comic strips, I had already disserted Werber's Empire of the Ants in more than one aspect. Adults always considered me a genius since my logic was way ahead, my philosophy was way ahead also, as I entered highschool at ten years old, two years ahead of everybody, but my peers only saw in me a threat, I think. I've always been small and thin, even compared to kids my own age, so for these people in my grade, I was a child. I couldn't fit in. I was shoved in locker rows, called the last one for team sports in physical education and so on. Only people looking my way and trying to befriend me were girls in search of someone they could control. So I did what was best for me and went back to my fantasy lands. At first, I lived the lives of authors' characters before I started building my own imaginary worlds and put them on paper.
In my stories, there always was some kind of super hero with lots of muscles, and I must admit the main character of my stories always found its source in one of my fellow students, my one and only crush all through highschool, the quarterback of the football team, the tall, muscular, manly and absolutely handsome, Patrick Ayward. I know I should have felt ashamed by this infatuation since I know for reading so many gay stories on the Internet, that people tend not to feel as though they were normal by being gay and feeding this fary tale of them about muscular and obviously hetero men. But this was not my case. As the genius I was, I had shuffled through so many pages of information about being gay that I actually accepted my lifestyle as it was. Even though I had learned by numerous articles and stories that I had to keep it secret, I could go unaffraid of my infatuation about Patrick Ayward since I knew I would never have acted on my feelings. I was invisible to everybody.
Well, that is what I thought.
Until that infamous day in the locker room when, as though I had tried to keep my eyes cast down, Tommy Rewer caught me staring a bit too long at a blue, yellow and red gargoyle that was displayed on Patrick's right buttock.
"Hey kid! What the hell are you looking at?" Tommy yelled at me, shaking me out of my trance.
"Nothing..." I muttered.
That is the moment Patrick chose to turn around and look at me. I found myself lucky I was sitting on the bench or I know I would have fainted.
"What?" he asked, seeming oblivious to the whole situation.
"Dude, this sicko was staring at your butt!" Tommy exclaimed, a look of disgust on his normally cute face.
"I... was... not..." I stuttered, knowing too well that I had been caught. I knew there was no way out of it.
"Shit, Pat! He's blushing, the little fucker!"
To say I was embarrassed would be the understatement of the year. Patrick's deep brown eyes were digging holes in my head as I felt all my hidden truths being shoveled outside of my brains.
"I was not!" I said a bit louder this time, trying to break this connection and stop my whole body to shiver. But by doing so I had sold myself short when at the same time, a sob escaped from me.
I never knew why at this exact time when it was out for the whole world to see I was queer for Patrick, that his eyes broke contact with mine, turned to face Tommy, slapped his hand on his shoulder while laughing dismissively and told him, "Get off your high horse, you paranoid! He was not watching my ass, he was watching my tattoo!"
Maybe it was out of pride but I am not so sure what it really was that got me off the hook but I surely was relieved. So as I was dismissed and did not want to attract more attention to myself, I curtly grabbed my discarded clothes and left the locker room.
When school was over, though, as I was closing my locker in the deserted row, Patrick approached me.
"We both know what you were looking at," he said in a somber voice while pinning me to my locker and towering over me.
When he punched me in the stomach, it was as if all the air had suddenly vanished from the whole school. The last thing I remember before falling unconcious was the lock being closed as I was left to think of my actions of the day in the darkness of my locker.
When I woke up, finding myself locked in this tiny space, I thought I would die there, so I became hysteric. I was found by the janitor team somewhere around eight o'clock. My parents had gone berserk not seeing me coming back home for dinner so when the police drove me home after the incident, me still in a state of shock, I told them everything that had happened.
I was lucky the officers were still there.
That night was the last one I saw my parents, my father full of rage at having a homosexual as a son, my mother too caught in her own little self to acknowledge of my sudden change of personna.
I was sent to live in a group home in upstate New York.
Please do not feel sorry for me since this group home did not have anythig in common with what are described in stories. I know what it is like, I am a writer, and the proper way to write fiction so it could reach the readers' attention and catch it is to exaggerate the facts so the story does not bore everyone to death, which only leaves a little part of hidden truth.
We were three fifteen years old teenagers, one girl and two guys. The staff cared about us as much as my parents used to when they did not hate me. Of course, I had to deal with my social worker who came to visit me at the house once in a while. But as I was not your typical trouble maker, her visits were casual and she never crowded my agenda. I also had a consellor assigned to me the first couple of months, but as he realized I was doing okay, that my grades had not dropped dramatically, he left me to my own experience with the assurance that if and whenever I needed to talk to him, I was welcome to call him. In this house, because it really was a house and not some kind of cell block, we all had our own room in which we had total privacy. Not even the staff members were allowed in them if there were no strong suspicions about finding narcotics or anything that would threaten our safety. I have experienced with a couple of beers, a couple of joints during my time there but as nothing seemed obvious since I was never addicted to any of them, the staff just let me be. Anyway, they almost always knew where to find me, which was in front of my laptop writing my fantasies.
I finished writing my first novel in July, two weeks before my sixteenth birthday and asked Jenny and Francis to proofread my work. We had become somewhat friendly together after my arrival eight months before. They were closer to any kind of friendship I'd ever had. Jenny was a bit pushy and nosey in the beginning, trying to decorate my room or change my whole look, annoying things some girls do so they can think they are so important... I guess it had to do with culture telling women they are so much better than men for the last thirty years... But I must admit that after I told her to mind her own damn business, she finally backed off, realizing that even though I was smaller than most, I was not to be bossed around. Yes, I think being locked in your locker, despised by your parents and sent to fend for yourself in an odd house do that to you. Well it did for me. Seeing that the two seemed to really enjoy themselves by reading my attempt at a novel, Matthew, one of the staff members, asked me if he could read it.
And so that's the way the day I turned sixteen, Matthew left me in front of the building where I was to attend a meeting with Richard Mansfield from the tandem Mansfield & Laramee Agency who soon was to get me signed with Hachette Books which gave me a comfortable advance for my next novel that was to become a Barnes & Noble exclusive later. This money made of me an emancipated teenager. Hachette bought me an old edwardian row house in Manhattan as a congratulatory gift. I started university at New York University in september the same year and graduated in literary studies four years and four more novels after.
I've never known what happened to Patrick up until the day I heard Francis, who was engrossed in football, speaking to Matthew and saying that he had joined the ranks of the Jets in the middle of his first college year.
"Tell me Alexander, are all of your main characters based on this Patrick Ayward?"
"So this is how this tattoo and the name came to appear in your book?"
"What do you mean by that?" Richard said, taking a seat on the other side of the fireplace.
"Well, you know, this event with Patrick happened to me when I was fifteen, which means that it occurred seven years ago. I don't think I really was thinking about him when I wrote Hidden Truth. I was stressed with the deadline when I wrote that part. So my first jet was basically just flowing from me as it sometimes happens but it seemed as though when I read it again, I didn't see anything abnormal with Gherrick. I actually thought he was well done, since I've never had to come back and modify him. Everything seemed to work, so I left him at that. He was Gherrick, that's it. I don't know how Patrick's name found its way there. Probably my subconscious played a trick on me. Then, the book was edited but nobody saw the mistake or they would have said something."
"I did not see it either. It looks as though that name was hidden inside your book."
A lonely but strong laugh escaped the young man's throat.
"You mean, a hidden truth?"
Which brought Richard to laugh also at the absurdity of the situation.
"I would guess so."
I do not believe in any truth in books. Reality is always twisted in them. When
we start believing what has been written by mankind and start believing it as
though it was the hand of a divinity writing it, then it becomes faith which is
ignorance and leads to the control of the minds of the ignorants. Just take as
an example the Bible. What people don't see are the hidden truths showing the
real mind of its authors, the mentality, the bigotery. But still, there is
nothing divine in them, only human words with a hidden message. A hidden truth.
A sectarism in process. The Bible, the Coran, the Mein Kampf, all men's work
with a hidden message to control the others. But the hidden truths contained in
these books are slowly but surely showing their real faces in this world of
information where humans are no longer ignorant. Today, it seems as though my
own private hidden truths are about to play a trick on me as they are now in the
light because of that simple fantasy book which shows the hidden messages in
writings. What an irony!"
Alexander drank the remaining of his cognac before standing. "Will you
show these... hum! ladies and gentlemen to the door before leaving? I need to
rest. I guess we will need all of our energy to face whatever storm that is
Alexander drank the remaining of his cognac before standing. "Will you show these... hum! ladies and gentlemen to the door before leaving? I need to rest. I guess we will need all of our energy to face whatever storm that is coming."
"Of course I will. Good night, Alexander."
"Good night, Richard. Give my respect to Sarah."
To be continued.
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