This story is totally fictional. Like in life, there is unhappiness as well as love here, there is treachery, there is death, and there is sex. Eventually.
However, love is the key word in this story.
The author apologizes for possible lapses in idioms and grammar, but English is not his native tongue. His origin will become apparent in the story.
No living creature was harmed and no tree was cut down to produce this story.
Constructive feedback will be gratefully received at . Flamers will be ignored.
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MY BLOOD SINGS IN BENDIK
We came into the world like brother and brother;
And now let's go hand in hand, not one before the other.
We're in my father's car on our way to his house. Bendik is slumped in the back seat, tired and hurting from surgery. Behind the clear plastic cover I see a sliver of his new eye between the swollen and stitched lids.
My father seems cheerful and lighthearted. Every now and then he watches Bendik in the rear view mirror.
- I found out what you wanted to know, he says. The boy is
placed at the reception center, waiting for his case to be dealt with. That's going to be tricky, since he has no ID. On the other hand, they can't send him back to Albania without papers. So I bet the whole thing will drag on for some time. You can visit him later, I think he would like that.
Bendik stirs in his seat. He wasn't afraid of me. Strange, huh?
Dad smiles into the mirror.
- I'm sure he could tell you wouldn't hurt him. Even in his drugged condition he must have recognized your compassion.
Bendik smiles weakly back at him.
- Maybe it's because I gave him my sweater. I mean, I dressed him instead of undressing him. That must have been a novelty.
We're off the highway and on to the exit ramp, in ten minutes we'll be at my father's house. Well, Bendik's house as well. Not mine, though. There's a question I've been meaning to ask, but haven't got around to yet.
- Why did he take out your eye? That guy. I figured he went for your heart?
Bendik sighs. Because I fell to my knees while he was at it.
* * *
Bendik wants to lie down in his room for a nap, his painkillers make him drowsy. I take my small overnight bad into the guest room. I sit down on the wide bed, feeling remote, feeling like a foreigner, wondering why I feel so incomplete and dissatisfied. It's surely not the house. I've been here before, but I never felt so out of touch before.
Maybe it's just a reaction after these two weeks of emotional upheaval. The emptiness that follows an all-consuming event, the hollow aftermath of a revelation. The sadness of not having to look after Bendik anymore, like losing your dog, is that it?
So, you're not needed in his life anymore, I think. Wanted, maybe, but not needed. So what? I can just go back to my life of auditions, aspirations, ambitions and eager hopes and dreams, I've lived perfectly happy like that until now, so what's changed? Nothing, except that there's this ache in me, this hole that I don't know how to fill. Oh hell, why can't I stop being maudlin and feeling sorry for myself?
I try to shake off the gloom and decide to go for a walk. On my way I look into Bendik's room, his door is ajar. I sneak in. He's there on top of the bedcovers, peacefully asleep, mouth half open, a little drool from the corner.
I glance around the room. There sits his huge teddy, once headless, head now crudely stitched back on, dressed in my shirt from ten years ago.
I tiptoe out.
* * *
I pass Dad on my way out.
- Sit, he instructs me, then sees my face. Ok. Sit, please.
So I sit. What?
He folds his arms across his chest, his tightly closed lips move up and down a few times. And then he speaks.
He speaks to me of his life. Fragments and short anecdotes, quandaries and dilemmas, mistakes and deficiencies. His worries, his anxieties, his pain. His inability to adapt, his refusal to give in to conventions, his unwillingness to interfere with other people's lives and choices, including his children's. He speaks a confession, he speaks an apology, he speaks a plea. He speaks like he wants to make up for every Talk to you later throughout our history.
I listen. And it's awkward, it's demanding, it's clarifying, it's brilliant. I hate him, I envy him, I admire him, I love him.
His soliloquy comes to an end. My mind is packed, full to the brim.
- Why are you telling me this? I ask. Why now?
He doesn't need time to think up his answer.
- I want the impossible, he says, - I want you to see a parent as a person, which might be even harder than for a parent to view a child as anything but an extension of himself. Herself. I want you to look behind the blinds and find me. Even like me. It is important for what I have to tell you later.
This is getting heavy. I need a way out, I need some air, I need some lightness.
- I do like you. Every now and then. I'll get a T-shirt with your mugshot on it to prove it.
He laughs. Not a happy laugh. There's a bitterness in his laugh that suddenly awakens all the resentment and anger that has piled up in me over the years.
- Oh, fuck you! I almost cry out. How can you expect me to like you? You just put a lot of responsibilities and expectations on me, and you saw my struggles, and my failures, but did you comfort me? Advise me? Guide me? Dammit! Shit!
He watches my face burn. I flinch. I recoil. Somehow my outburst has made me feel exposed, denuded. I can't hide.
- You could be right, he reflects. I may well have read you wrong at times. But you always seemed to be the strong one. The one who didn't need ... whatever. You never asked for advice. You never asked for either cuddles or lectures. And you know, I've never felt good about butting in unwantedly in anyone's life. But don't you ever think I didn't see you.
He is getting tense, sinews stand out on his neck. Like announcements, like warnings.
- To you, he continues, - I may have been a shadow. You know, there, but not real. Or you may have seen me like so many others see me: Aloof, thoughtless, inconsiderate. And you may have felt you got the short end of the stick, because Bendik needed me so much more.
He squares his shoulders, exhales heavily, and relaxes.
- Your question. Why? Why do I tell you this? Why do I wish for you to listen to me, to like me, even consider me real?
He has my full attention now. I feel my body tingle, my brain sharpen, like something unexpected and peculiar is about to happen.
- Because I will now do precisely what you accused me of never doing: I will comfort you, I will advice you, I will guide you.
I'm abruptly aware that my jaw hangs open. I close it, teeth clicking.
- Magnus. My handsome, clever, but confused Magnus. I have seen you grow, I have seen your determination, I have seen your strength. I have seen your weaknesses, and I have seen your failures. But what I see most of all right now, is how you try to run away from yourself.
He jerks his head backwards, indicating the back of the house.
- He's in there. Your defeated, wrecked ... your broken little brother. And you are here, struggling, fighting, trying to drown feelings you don't think you should have. And Magnus, believe me, I have seen this, seen you run away from Bendik, all your life. Literally and metaphorically. And I know why.
This may sound weird coming from a father, but thank God I've never been hampered by stupid conventions or mindless moral limitations. So Magnus, don't deny your feelings. Don't fight your love for him, because then you also deny your brother a chance to heal. He needs to be whole again, and I know that no surgery, no therapist, or no father for that matter, can heal him. But you can. He's been in love with you, he has been waiting for you, all his life. And Magnus, honestly, you're no different. You need him as much as he needs you.
So please drop your fears, lose your acquired preconceptions of what's proper and what's not. Love him the way he needs to be loved. Free him from his demons.
My mind is jammed. My brain is in a turmoil, everything is in uproar, disorder, mayhem.
- Are you telling me to go and fuck him?
I regret the words as soon as they're out. He looks at me, disappointed.
- No need to be crude, he answers. Anyone can fuck, I'm talking about love. Sometimes the body is the right way to express love, but it's not the only way. But I know one thing: In Bendik's mind, he has always belonged to you, body and soul. I'm just telling you to get rid of your unnecessary boundaries.
I have no more words. I have no thoughts. I'm sliding down a steep slope, faster than I want, no brakes, no steering wheel.
- Listen, he says. Be happy. Be beautiful together.
* * *
We sit at table together, Dad has made us cheese omelets and possibly the blandest green salad ever. I'm still in Limbo from our conversation earlier, my thoughts are milling around in circles, my perceptions are closed, my awareness is trapped.
I'm jerked into reality by Bendik tapping my arm with his finger, cautiously watching me. What's wrong, Magnus?
- Wrong? Nothing's wrong. I smile. Unconvincingly, I guess.
Dad breaks in to save me. Asks Bendik if he wants beer, or perhaps a glass of wine? Bendik shakes his head, he wants water. I tell my father I want what he's having. So we have wine.
Dad eases Bendik into conversation. Much for my benefit they repeat the story of how Bendik got the boy out, took him to the hostel where he had stayed before the involvement with the sex sharks, to a room he now had the money to pay for, and hid him there. How he had to explain himself to the receptionist, how he finally got her over to his side.
Bendik is in a light and jovial mood, trying to amuse us with descriptions and gestures with how the boy and he tried to communicate, neither of them understanding a word of what the other said. But then he gradually falls down in spirits, his face darkens as he recounts the dilemma of his rash decision, how on earth he could possibly hope to bring them out of the hole they were in. And his anguish when he woke up in hospital and realized he had betrayed the boys trust.
I'm thankful for the diversion, but I feel bad for Bendik. I know only too well how destructive the knowledge that you've let someone down can be. I want to hoist him up from the pitfall of shortcoming and failure, I want to kiss away his dark and foggy self-contempt. But I feel helpless and frightened and lost in this love that I don't know what to do with, where to go with, how to deal with.
I brush my finger lightly over his hand and tell him I know. He pulls his hand back, and that heartbreaking look of lost dreams and shattered hopes are back in his face, the look I remember from our childhood, the look I can never escape.
* * *
I'm wakened by a scream. I'm jolted up in my bed, ears pricked up, all senses suddenly alert. Footsteps, doors open and close, a murmur of voices seeps through. The darkness in the room is tight and oppressive.
I fall back on the pillow, blood thumping in my ears. I want to go back to sleep. I need silence. I need nothingness. I need peace.
The door opens. Silhouetted in the rectangle of light my father appears, carrying Bendik in his arms, like a pietà. His steps are purposeful and assured as he carries my brother in and carefully bends down and puts him on my bed next to me. He unbends and looms over us a moment.
- Now, he says. He walks out and closes the door behind him.
I lie dead still. Panic surges through me, every hair on my body stands on end. I breathe as deeply as I can, I muster all my might to chase away the fear that threatens to congeal my blood.
- Bendik, I whisper into the darkness. Do you really want to be here?
There is no movement. Then I hear him whisper back: - Please?
My mind is clearing. My goosebumps persist, though. I want to ... I want to ... I want ... I get up, I draw back the heavy curtains. The street lamp from across the front garden bathes the room with soft, soft yellow light.
He's there on my bed, sketched in shadow and light, naked but for his shorts, skin almost shimmering, scars like from a painter's brush, not angry and red, but warm and dark like his nipples. His marred beauty sends shivers down my back and threatens to explode in my chest. He hides his face behind his hands as I stand over him, gazing down at him, filling my vision, saturating my heart.
Yes, I think. It is now.
I don't ask anymore, I don't question anything. I lay down naked beside him and then I reach out and draw him to my body until I feel his skin touch all of my skin. I pull his hands from his face, careful not to disturb his eye cover, and I turn us until my body is on top of him and covers him. A choked gasp escapes him as he wraps his arms and legs around me and pushes against me as if he can't get close enough. And there we stay, glued together, unmoving, holding, feeling.
My lips move to his lips, touch them lightly, then cover them. I hold still and let the softness of his lovely mouth just be there, be there for me, and I shudder as I feel the tip of his tongue quietly explore my lips, then seek to enter between them. And then we are deep into each other. I take his hands and cover my ears, I hear inside my head the song of tongues and spit and thumping blood. I moan into his mouth and he moans back.
I break the kiss, lift my head. Bendik, I say softly, - you're not puking.
He pulls my head back towards him, my lips close to his scar.
- Take my shorts off, he whispers.
I do. He's mine now, all of him, like I am his. There is nothing between us. Our lips meet again, our tongues dance together, his fingers entwine with mine, our cocks meet and silently speak together like twins do.
This is all we need. We stay like this, stuck together, slowly moving and rubbing, mouth to mouth, hand in hand, cock to cock, until I feel him tense, arch his back against me, and I'm carried away with him as we shoot our seed up between us like a fountain of beauty and joy.
And I know I'm home.