Now Am I In Arden

A story by Ivor Sukwell and Kyle McKenzie. A story about a boy and a man with all that such entails. The setting is modern and based around the theatre, Not your thing? Sorry about that, we're sure you'll find something that is. Whatever your choice, please remember Nifty needs your donations.

Now Am I In Arden

Chapter One


"There is no other description for the Royal Acting Company's interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream than a triumph. From the staging to the direction this production comes as close to perfection as practically possible, and all involved should be rightly proud of what they have achieved.

However, amongst the stellar cast it is the relative newcomer Jacob Wills who stands out as the undoubted star of the show. Barely 14 he brings Puck to life as a beguiling force of nature, full of excitable, chaotic and, while it feels illicit even to say the word, sexual energy. His initial appearance as a classical fawn, stripped to the waist with a delicate pair of horns fixed to his forehead may bring motherly coos, but Wills slowly strips away Puck's choir boy-esque mask as he infuses the imp with a devious, ambiguous, sexuality A skilled acrobat, Wills is forever writhing around not just the scenery as he rolls and tumbles across the stage but also wrapping himself around his co-stars as he delivers his lines, eliciting murmurs of disquiet from the audience as he writhes and grinds against some with his features twisted into a leer. Indeed, with his bright green eyes and elfin features Will already possesses a hint of the otherworldly, and several of his co-stars seems almost afraid of the final animalistic howl of frustration he gives as Puck is ordered to remove the asses head from Bottom.

It is a mesmerising, if often deeply uncomfortable, performance and has attracted criticism from some who believe such a young actor should not be directed in this manner and that his overtly sexual interpretation should not be allowed in such a prestigious setting.

For his part Wills has answered his critics in a thoroughly modern, and unassuming, way pointing out that anyone can find things a thousand times more sexual in under ten seconds on the internet. Already tipped for great things, Wills has been signed up for upcoming season of Shakespeare's classics, including As You Like It and The Tempest, which will be performed by an all male cast as per the original C16 staging of these works. After that Hollywood surely beckons..."

Excerpt from the review of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

'And that's the boy I have been lumbered with,' I moaned to myself. 'Forty years directing, every play in the Bard's canon and I get landed with an all male As You in Elizabethan drag at the bloody Globe! Doubt if the boy can even act!'

"Stop reading how great you are Jacob, we're here." I grinned and clicked my phone closed as we pulled into the driveway of the large house.

It was a long way from the terraced London house mum and I lived in. Dad had left when I was a little kid, not that I missed him, and Mum had started me at drama club mainly to get me out from under her feet. That had led to parts in the local theatre company and one day to being scouted by a national acting agency which had got me the part in Twelfth Night.

Although the show had closed two weeks ago I was still reading the reviews for my performance, giddy at how well it had been received. The first time I had read Puck's parts in the run up to rehearsals I knew he wasn't just some silly fairy, instead I saw him as a creature who got his joy from making others feel uncomfortable, and what better way was there for someone my age to make an adult feel uncomfortable than to let them know we also liked sex.

The first time the director had seen it he had gone crazy, threatening to fire me if I didn't tone it down and play Puck as a cute little fairy. Shouting back I had dared him to fire me, and had been backed up by the man playing Oberon who had said he had never seen anything like it. Of course it had helped that I had already seen how he, the biggest name in the show, looked at me as I writhed against him, and felt which parts of him got hard as our skin brushed. I made sure I used that to my advantage, making sure I had to use the shower in his dressing room and letting my towel slip at the perfect moment, so when the Director tried to insist on my firing he was faced by losing not just me but his biggest star.

That's the thing, no-one likes someone my age to be 'sexual' but they are happy to pay good money to tut us when we are. And my performance made sure the Theatre was full every night. Getting out of the car I followed Mum up to the house clutching my holdall. The man we were about to see was the Director of the next series of Shakespeare plays I was set to 'star' in, and while my appearance had been agreed by my agency and the production company he had insisted on having the final say.

One thing I have always hated and that's having to deal with boy actors. Not that I've come across a boy who can act yet, but the world's full of ones who think they can.

Can't speak properly, move like puppets and think they're all God's gift to the theatre. Well, not theatre, I suppose, because film and fame is all they think of, and you don't need to be able to speak or act for film do you!

Only one thing worse than boy actors, I consoled myself, and that's girl actors. At least I wouldn't have to put up with any of them in an all male cast!

Oh, well, I sighed, put on a smile and pretend to look interested in the creature when he gets here. Final say, they said I could have; well, no chance of that was there! Producers had decided this little sod would drag in the punters and I needed the cheque, so it was put up with him or find another way of paying the tax man.

"So pleased to meet you, Jacob is such a fan!" Mum gushed a greeting as we were ushered inside. I had indeed heard of my next Director, every actor had, but to be honest I hadn't been impressed. A load of old 'art house' films ages ago, the sort of stuff people pretended to like but hadn't actually bothered watching, and mostly theatre. He would do for now but I was more interested in getting into films than doing Shakespeare for the rest of my life.

Kicking my shoes off in his hallway after a look from Mum I gave him a look and couldn't help but give, what I hoped, was a shy grin. He was tall and, while old enough to be my dad, still in good physical shape. His hair might be going to grey but that's how I like guys and my cock gave a little strain against my skinny fit jeans.

That's the thing, while I've become a bit of a pin up for girls my age I actually like guys. Men old enough to be my Dad to be specific.

"Hello, Mrs ......" whatever your name is, I thought but tactfully didn't say, "And hello to you, Jacob, is it?"

I looked at the boy, trying to be professional and not let my distaste for creatures young show. He was, to be fair, a good-looking boy, the sort of androgynous, elfin looks that would enable him to be a reasonably convincing girl.

Thank God he wasn't a girl! That I could definitely not have coped with!

"Can you speak?" I asked him without any preamble, "Speak words so they can be understood?"

"Err yes," I was a little taken aback by his directness. Most adults tip toed around actors my age, not wanting to get a reputation as a child hating ogre, but clearly this man had no such concerns.

While I was a bit annoyed to be taken by surprise I also quite liked his refusal to pander to me. Since becoming the flavour of the week everyone had been falling over themselves to lick my arse, and his abruptness was quite refreshing.

"I can speak," I told him again thinking that umming and erring wasn't the best way to prove it, "Guess the question is can you direct?" Mum pursed her lips and gave me a look, but he had enjoyed putting me on the spot and I wanted to do the same to him.

"A reasonable question," I gave him my best 'you have no right to even be on this planet and even less right to think you can tell a director from a camel' look, "And a question that can only be answered by an actor who can act. I have certainly done some crap in my time, but who hasn't? But don't you worry, young lad, the name of Richard Williams will give the play a decent chance, however bad you happen to be in it."

He did look a little surprised by my answer and his mother, if that's what she was, looked positively shocked, but that bothered me not the least.

"I asked if you could speak and you answered me with an 'Um.' Hardly an encouraging beginning to our relationship."

"Maybe you should give him time to rehearse!" Mum snapped back and I shuddered. If there's one thing someone my age likes less than being told off by a boring old man it's your mum standing up for you in public!

"Don't you need to be going Mum?' I was supposed to be staying here for the weekend so Mr Williams could put me through my paces but if he and Mum really got into it I doubted I would be staying five minutes. Mum didn't look happy to be leaving me with someone who she clearly thought was an ogre but my interruption broke the tension long enough for her to kiss me goodbye and head off down the driveway.

"You surprised me, that's all." I told Williams when we were alone. I guessed he didn't like young actors probably thinking them wooden and annoying, and if he had met any of the stage school tossers who make up that category I had starred with I couldn't blame him for forming that opinion. I had always gone to a normal school so had missed out on a lot of the lessons they seemed to rely on, and didn't try and 'act' my characters but bring them to life as I read them.

"As an actor," I stressed the word 'actor' in such a way as to imply that he was anything but, "Should you not be used to surprises? Do you always get the right cue? Do the others on stage with you always occupy the space they are supposed to occupy? They do if I am directing, but not everybody is as concerned with detail as I am.

Now, I asked if you could speak. Give me one line of Puck's, just a single line and I'll decide if there is any hope for you at all. Give me "Oh what fools these mortals be,"

I gave him the line with no stress saying it as though it may have been a railway timetable.

I smirked at him and, pulling off my hoodie, shook out my arms and legs.

"Captain of our fairy band," I started, beginning at the start of the speech to off-foot him, my face a picture of innocence.

HIs hallway was long and wide and I swirled around him, reciting the speech in a light innocent voice:

"Helena is here at hand, and the youth, mistook by me,"

At the cue I wrapped my arms around him and dropped my face into a far from innocent smirk.

"Pleading for a lover's fee," at that I dropped off him on to one knee, my eyes never leaving his.

"Shall we their fond pageant see?"

"Lord, what fools these mortals be!" I infused the word 'lord' with a lingering swirl of my tongue around my lips and, before he could react, back flipped away from him giggling as if I had played an amusing joke.

It was the version of the speech I had given in the recent run of Midsummer, though even I hadn't dared add the tongue licking to that.

The boy had spirit, I had to grant him that, and he had made something of the little scene he had given, something that the groundlings of Shakespeare's time would have fastened on and loved, overt sexuality radiating from him.

But, and it was a big but, he had acted, quite well admittedly, the words, using his actions to give them meaning. Fine for film, but not fine for a Shakespeare stage.

"Lord, what fools these mortals be," I imitated his delivery. What in your expert opinion, is the most important word in that little sentence? Is it 'Lord' or is it 'mortals' or perhaps even, 'be'?

"Its all three," I told him, trying to out smart-Alec him.

"The Lord is important because Puck doesn't really believe that he has a lord. Oberon might be the King but Puck wants to do whatever amuses him. That puts them in conflict.

"The mortals is important because it shows the players are different, they are just there to be toyed with. And Puck likes toying!

And the `be' is important because it shows Puck thinks he is cleverer than them, and makes them fair game. The thing about Puck is that he thinks he is cleverer than everyone, he isn't just a cute fairy. He's more like the devil, tempting people because it amuses him. You know medieval people thought Puck poured madness in people's ears when they were asleep? He isn't nice at all!"

I had enjoyed playing Puck, revelling in the chaotic, slightly evil persona I had given him and wanted to show Mr Williams I wasn't just some dumb kid.

"Fascinating," I sighed, determined not to let the boy know that he did indeed, impress me more than a little, "But you are dealing with an audience made up of mortals and the vast majority have no idea if Puck was a slightly evil spirit or a dandelion. They probably know the text word for word in many cases, so you can't try to fool them, and neither can you ask them to concentrate on three important words in a line of only six words. Pick one and one only."

"If you have to choose its Lord," I told him a little sulkily when he wasn't impressed by my analysis. "It tells the audience what the relationship between Puck and Oberon is, and how you deliver it tells them about that relationship."

So fucking basic I huffed inwardly. If this was this guy's level then I was half tempted to ring my agent, have a tantrum and get a better gig.

"So the fact that the mechanicals, and indeed the audience, are mortals is of little importance?" I asked with a slight smile, wondering if he was astute enough to know where I was leading him.

"Of course it is, that tells them the relationship between the gods and the mortals and that they are different. But you said chose one so I chose."

I deliberately sounded huffy, expecting him to soften up and be nice to me.

"Try it this way," I suggested, being now a Director giving an actor a note to help him get on the right lines,

"Lord," I gave the word in a long, exasperated sigh, "What fools." with emphasis on the 'f' so the word would not be missed. "These mortals be," and there I made sure to pronounce clearly the 'm', 't' and 's' of mortals, and sighed again on the 'be'.

See how that works for you, I told him.

I tried it exactly as he had suggested and was surprised at the results. In my version Puck had made it clear that he did not view Oberon as his Lord, but now they were co-conspirators, plotting to fool the mortals.

Another run through and I tried to give it some movement, writhing around him and delivering the lines so I was mostly facing away, only speaking the final line while looking up at him from one knee like a mischievous servant ready to do his Lord's bidding.

"Different, yes?" I said when he'd done as I suggested, and, by doing that, earned some respect from me. He was only a boy, but he was certainly a boy with some talent and may even be reasonable to work with.

"Don't worry too much about trying to act the words," I told him, "In Shakespeare the words dictate the actions for much of the time, and we'll sort out how we want them to sound and seem.

Now, you have read 'As You', I expect?

"Of course," I told as if it was a stupid question.

I was more than a little annoyed by his seeming lack of interest in me. Richard Williams had never married, and while he had also never been seen with a boyfriend, I had believed the rumours that he was gay.

But if he was he seemed to have no interest in me. I had known I liked cock since I had first started exploring the darker corners of the internet at 12, and was pretty sure that I was attracted to older men. Part of me was therefore disappointed that my little performance didn't seem to have warmed up this particular cold fish.

"Will you include it in your season?" I asked earnestly, wondering what part he had in mind for me.

"As to that I have no choice," I shrugged, "My contract is to direct 'As You' and 'The Tempest', a strange combination I agree. The only thing they have in common is their pastoral setting, but mine not to question but to do.

As for you, I am expected to give you a leading role, so it's Celia or Rosalind for you."

My intention was to give the play as it had been originally given, an all male cast and sexual ambiguities flying all over the place, and this boy was, I had to admit to myself, perfect for that!

The problem was, could I manage to do it? I said I dislike boys, but, when I'm either drunk or being soberly honest with myself, the reason I dislike boys is because I like them. Like them in a way I should not like them.

It's a liking I have kept hidden, hidden as deep as it can be hidden, and hidden mostly from fear. In my profession being gay is all too common, and if I were normally gay I suppose I would have shacked up with some actor or other long ago. But I'm not normally gay, my gayness extends only to boys and boys, in this day and age, are far too dangerous to be interested in.

I was therefore, and knew I was, on very dangerous ground when I said to young Jacob, "Can you recall what name Rosalind chooses for herself when she becomes a boy in Arden?"

"Ganymede," I told him smugly. I had read all the plays my agent had told me would be included in the season before this meeting, and while the Director could technically change them the Director could also be changed.

"So I will be a boy pretending to be a girl who pretends to be a boy?' I asked him, smirking slightly at the idea. In truth the idea of being a bit more feminine excited me, and I was interested to see what I could do with the role to make it more exciting.

"Good," I actually smiled, though I tried to dispose of it quickly. "And have you done any research as you did for your Puck? Do you know who Ganymede was and, more importantly," and this was where the ground became very dangerous, "What that name meant to the people of Shakespeare's time?"

"Of course, he was the most beautiful boy in the world. He was sort...." I looked at him not sure if I should continue but then a sly thought crossed my mind. He had made me uncomfortable when we had first met so now I would do the same to him.

"He was so beautiful everyone fancied him, even men. And people in Shakespeare's time would have known that Greek's did gay stuff, so it would have been a sort of dangerous name to use. Like if Ganymede was around today his maths teacher would definitely be looking at his arse in his school trousers."

I knew that nothing made grown men more uncomfortable than suggesting that they could fancy a boy my age, and I gave Mr Williams a little smirk as I spoke.

The boy's choice of words made me think he would definitely be a suitable Rosalind.

I knew he was trying to shock me, but shocking me would take a lot more than he'd managed so far!

Indeed, Ganymede was beautiful," I smiled, "And I wouldn't know about his maths teacher, but he attracted the attention of Zeus, so the god took him, made him immortal and kept him as his 'cup boy'.

There are different names for that position nowadays, but the people of Shakespeare's time stuck to 'Ganymede,' A Ganymede was, what I believe is referred to in this day and age, a rent boy.

So Rosalind, when she calls herself 'Ganymede' is, in effect, saying she, or rather, he, is, I believe it is described as being 'on the game.'

You still want that part?"

I smirked at him again, wondering if there was more to him than met the eye. He might play the miserable old man but underneath I wasn't so sure.

"Of course, its the best part in the play." I told him airily as he led me into his lounge.

"So how do you want me to play her?" We were seated in his lounge now, him looking at me while I spoke.

"I was thinking that being a boy would let her be free, girls back then couldn't have boyfriends so once she became a boy she would be able to do more stuff. And if people thought a Ganymede was a rent boy maybe I should really play up to it, make her really horny?"

I looked at him as I spoke the last word, still hoping to shock him.

"You rather miss the point, I believe," I hid another smile by searching for my cigarettes and lighting one, and then, as though it was an afterthought, played my own 'shock him' game. "Would you like one?" I asked very innocently. "I believe the modern boy smokes, though I understand from the press that he prefers to flavour his tobacco with cannabis or some such weed, That's when he isn't swigging vodka neat from the bottle or snorting, is that the right word? cocaine or stabbing a needle in his arm. All that before going out to stab something else in some other teenager who he happened to take a dislike to."

I could see he was struggling not to let his jaw drop and his mouth hang open and I felt I had won the who can shock who most round. The first one, anyway.

"Sure," I shrugged as if it was no big thing and took one of the proffered cigarettes.

"Modern boys get up to all sorts of shit," I swore deliberately to show that he did not intimidate me, "not like when you were a kid and the most fun you could have was jacking off over a dirty mag."

He had to light the cigarette for me and I coughed as I took a puff. Like most people my age I didn't smoke, thinking of it as dirty and no fun. Still, I didn't want to fail what I had come to see as a test.

The boy was, however, not to be so easily defeated and, despite all my common sense and knowledge of the consequences, I found myself beginning to actually like him.

"The point is," I said, rising from my chair and crossing to the cabinet where I kept my booze, "That you have no need to try to be 'horny' as you put it."

I poured myself a large malt and said, over my shoulder, "I prefer malt to vodka, but I do have a bottle of that stuff here if you want to swig from it." And, without giving him a chance to reply to that and still not looking at him, I continued, "Simply by announcing yourself as a rent boy should be enough, surely? No need to strip and bend over as well, is there? That would be rather overdoing it, don't you think?"

"I guess," I smirked, lounging back in the chair.

The cigarette really wasn't to my taste but I puffed on it anyway not wanting him to think I had been defeated.

"You know if Mum finds out you gave me fags and booze she will go running to my agent, and they will go running to the producers and they won't be happy with you at all."

I gave him a smirk then to show I was joking, though in truth I also wanted him to know the power I had over him. I wouldn't use it, but the knowledge that I possessed it was still exciting.

"So how do you want me to play her? All girly and silly like we're a fucking panto?"

Clearly, young Jacob was not a cigarette smoker and I was sure he'd never raised a bottle of vodka to his lips either, but he was trying, trying so very hard to impress me with his worldliness.

How does a boy of scarcely fourteen impress an aging been there and done it all man with his worldliness? He can't. He can impress his with his boyness though, and young Jacob was certainly doing that in spades. "We play it as it was meant to be played," I shrugged. "The lad who was the original Rosalind did. no doubt, supplement the pittance that he earned as an apprentice player by selling his arse and whatever else it is that boys have to sell. He had no need to pretend, he did it for real.

All I am asking of you is, can you play a boy like that?"

"I think so," I told him, getting out of my seat and approached him. Taking a deep breath I thought for a moment then walked forward slowly and surely. While Puck was all nervous energy Rosalind would be a noble, so much controlled.

"I pray you do not fall in love with me," I spoke in a stage whisper, loud enough to fill the room, stroking the back of my hand down his cheek as I stared into his eyes, "for I am falser than vows made in wine."

I was close to him now, so close I could smell him, and before he could react I reached past him and took a swig of the vodka from the bottle.

It was a neat scene, only spoilt by the sudden coughing fit the vodka elicited from me as it burnt my throat.

"And men have died from time to time, but not from love," I couldn't help grinning now, "Though boys may die from neat vodka, it seems to me. Especially if they've never tasted the filthy stuff before and are having some trouble not coughing themselves hoarse from their first cigarette."

"That little rendition, though, would have had Kit Marlowe begging for your favours," I grinned widely at him, "And is not a bad starting point. My idea is to give this play as it was originally meant to be given. The title itself should be enough to say what that is. However you like it, we've got some of it here for you, is what the audience is being told. But I want to try to go a bit further, a play surrounded by a play. I want my Rosalind to be a boy who sells himself, just as I want Jaques to be a man who has seen it all and found nothing he wants to see again. Except, perhaps, Ganymede and that frightens him.

We have two days to see if that is possible, and if you feel too much is being asked of you, then say so now."

"I don't want to do silly kids films," I told him when I had finally finished coughing. "That's why my agent got me this."

"So how would you have Rosalind deliver that line?" I asked as he took a swig of his drink and I stood in front of him. Part of me thought he wanted me, and I would gladly let him take me, but another part thought he was just testing me, trying to see if I fitted his idea for the play.

"As if you meant it," I answered his question. "No, that's not right. Not 'as if' you meant it because you do mean it. You are a rent boy, you sell an imitation of love and you really are falser than vows made in wine. You make a man believe in love when he beds you, but when he has finished, then you forget him. You are saying nothing but the truth, and the way you say it will depend utterly on the boy you are, the boy you know yourself to be."

I took a healthy gulp of malt; I needed it. This was dangerous, too dangerous. Here I was, an aging man with a repressed longing for boys asking a wonderful example of boy to search within himself and discover his true sexuality. It mattered not a jot if Jacob was gay or straight, or still simply a boy; it mattered only that he must come to see and understand if he would sell himself or not.

Did I have the right to ask him, or any other boy, to do that? Even under the pretence of dragging out a performance from him, did I have the right to ask him to search so deeply into himself?

I needed more malt.

I breathed in deeply, before approaching him again.

"I pray you do not fall in love with me," Stroking his face I injected the stage whisper with a hint of sadness this time, as if the seduction was not my first and unlikely to be my last.

"For I am falser than vows made in wine." I spoke the last part of the speech in a lower whisper, as if sad that my love was false. I imagined my Ganymede as a boy who did indeed sell himself, but only because his love was not allowed in his time just as my love was not allowed in my time.

As my hand fell from his face I took his wrist and guided his hand to my bum cheek, pressing myself against him as I did so. I was acting the part as a rent boy, warning his client about the limits of their relationship.

"You almost meant it that time," I paused my reloaded glass half way to my mouth, "But only almost. There is something more; something you are not convinced of perhaps.

I am old fashioned, a dinosaur in modern theatre. Stanislawski was my god and I still believe in him.

No," I swigged malt to keep me going, "Not in the New York Studio version, not in method acting. That works for film, but not for stage. Some great film performances, Heat of the Night for example, but you can't method on stage. Method wants you to become the character, Stan said you needed to find something within yourself that was that character. Stay you, but be the character you play at the same time. Play a part, but play yourself while you do it.

Am I making sense, or do I need more malt? Something was not you in the way you spoke then."

I drained my glass and helped myself to another.

"I can, but I need something to play against." His hand hadn't seized my bum like I had expected, and I assumed he didn't find me attractive. Probably too cold and hard find anything attractive!

"I pray you do not fall in love with me," I told him again, toning down the sadness and raising my head proudly, not ashamed of what I was.

I wrapped my arms around him, guiding his left to my rear so he could grip if it if he wished, "For I am falser," I stood on my tip toes and lent my face close to his so our lips were almost touching, so close I could feel his breath on my face, "than vows made in wine."

The kiss was delivered to his cheek, though I kept my arms wrapped around him. I was a Ganymede I thought, and while my body might be available for a man who could pay, my mouth was for those who loved me.

"Stop trying to fucking act!" I snarled at him. "This ain't fucking Hollywood and I just told you that method gets you nowhere on a stage. Too wooden, too false, too much a puppet on a string. Let the fucking words do the talking, damn you! What are you trying to do? What do you want? No, not fucking Rosalind or bloody Ganymede, you. What do you want?"

Three large malts in quick succession had done nothing to help me keep my inhibitions intact and I knew I had already gone too far, but I was going further still, not stopping now.

"You come here, knowing it all and pretend to be a tart and haven't the faintest idea of what a tart is. I don't want a tart. I want a boy who sells his arse because he needs the money and why is he telling some poor sod not to fall in love with him? Why's he doing that, eh? Because he's being all nice to the poor sod, or because he's scared shitless himself that he might fall for the guy, and where's he gonna be then? Eh? Tell me that, where's he gonna be if he does something really stupid and falls in love himself?

I drained my glass again, reloaded it again, and half drained that.

"Oh I'm not fucking acting!" I told him angrily, "in fact I think I'm the only person in this room who ISN'T pretending to be something he isn't!"

He could witter on about method acting and all that all he liked but I could see, plain as day, that he was the one acting. Acting as if he didn't want to touch me, acting as he hated to be around me and hated to have me touch him.

"You want a tart?" I asked sarcastically, pulling off my t-shirt and jeans so I just stood in front of him in my snug CK boxer briefs.

"Put fifty quid in here if it makes you feel better." I pulled open the front of my boxers so he could get look at the shaved patch above my cock. Watching too much porn had made me assume that everyone got rid of their body hair, and I had been a bit surprised to find that some people kept it.

"But maybe not every Ganymede was a straight boy who just did stuff for money. Maybe some were like that, but maybe some liked men anyway and lived like that because that was the only option back then. People thought the stuff they did was wrong, so maybe they had to be Ganymede's to survive."

"And am I seeing the real boy at last?" I looked pointedly at his shaved pubic area and, to my dismay, liked what I saw.

"Back then," I swallowed hard, trying to remain focussed and not think only of Jacob's shaved pubes and what that may imply, "Back then it was no more legal to go with a boy than it is now. But men did, and did openly, walked around with their catamites on their arms. A boy could rise in life through the bed of a wealthy man.

Same now, I suppose," I said sarcastically, "A boy with no talent can rise to the top of the cast list of he chooses the right casting couch to bend over."

That was unkind of me, more than that it was vicious. The boy did have talent, but so do hundreds of other boys, boys who never got the chance to bend over on a casting couch, boys who never made it.

I had no idea if that was how Jacob had landed the part of Puck, but seeing his shaved pubic area, the way he had made blatant sexual advances towards me, made me think it was a certainty.

That didn't bother me, why should it? It was a long and honoured theatrical tradition, since Shakespeare's time itself you landed the best parts by sleeping in the right beds.

What angered me, what made me hate him at this moment, was that he had brought to me the reality of what I wanted and had for so long denied. I could have had hundreds of boys during my career, but always steered clear. Now this fourteen year old had made me lose that control. He knew I wanted him and he knew that frightened me.

That's why I was trying so hard to hurt him. trying to protect myself from myself.

So that's what he thought! I was angry, no furious, and I grabbed my clothes from the floor.

"For your information I've never done that to get a part," I told him picking up my belongings from around the room. "And not that's it any of your business but I don't go to some fancy stage school or get Mum to bully people into giving me parts either! People cast me because I'm good, so fuck you and fuck your play!"

Angrily I stormed out of the room slamming the door behind me. If he didn't want me in his play then it was his loss I decided, I would go make films like my agent wanted me to.

I had hurt him and I felt a glow of satisfaction that I had.

I let him storm out the room, he could storm out the front door if he wanted, but he'd have to crawl back in again because he was here for the weekend, here, in the middle of nowhere, and I helped myself to another malt while I waited for him to creep back.

Outside in the hallway I struggled back into my now creased jeans and t-shirt. I wanted to call Mum and tell her to pick me up, knowing that she would head straight over and get me from someone she had taken a pretty much instant dislike to.

Problem was that would be admitting defeat. And anyway, why should I be the one to walk out? If he wanted me off his play he would have to fire me, and explain to the production company and my agent why he was firing the hottest young actor in the country.

But the other problem was that I didn't want to go back in the room with him right now. That also felt like defeat, and right now I didn't want to see his face, much less talk to him. Instead I grabbed my holdall angrily started to climb the staircase before clattering back down and barging back into the lounge.

"Going to bed, where am I sleeping?"

I asked him haughtily, not bothering to wish him good night.

"Third door when you reach the top of the stairs," I called to him, smirking to myself. "Mine's the first, so don't go making a mistake."

And, of course, I knew I had told him where to go if my thoughts about him were anywhere near correct.

"I'd rather die," I told him with a straight face, slamming the door again behind me.

I would rather die, I thought to myself as I changed into my sleeping shorts and tee shirt. I might have fancied Robert Williams when I first met him but right now I would have gladly choked the old git.

Tossing and turning I tried to get to sleep, but kept running the evening's events over in my head. I thought my performance had been good, maybe I had been playing it a bit tarty but that's because I thought that's how he wanted the character to be. It wasn't my fault he couldn't cope with the results!