For this week we have a short story, the characters and events are fictional and not based on anyone or real events.
‘Next time you cuddle me I will set fire to your Fur Coat!’
Exclaimed Jack. He was fed up, he was fourteen, he was determined to stop his Mothers Gay friend from cuddling him anymore.
He had been brought up by his mother, his Dad had never been interested, he had not really ever known him. It had always been him and his Mother against the World. His Dad didn’t want to know, this meant he was needed to look after his mother more and he did this so very well.
His Mother was a very independent lady, she had fallen pregnant with Jack during her final year of an English degree. Although the relationship with Jack’s father had been far from perfect she had never thought about not having the baby. She had wanted him and adored him from the moment he was born. His Father was off the scene and out of touch before Jack was old enough to blow out his solitary candle on his first Birthday cake. His mother was left struggling with a child on her own trying to pick up bits of copywriting work on the back of an English degree which doesn’t really pay back in financial terms.
Everything had been great between Jack and his Mother growing up, a normal Mother, Son relationship, boundaries, but equally freedom to grow and explore. Then at the age of fourteen everything changed for Jack. His Mothers gay friend, Gary, from her schools days, turned up fur coat in tow. He had needed somewhere to live so his mother had said he could come and stay with them for a bit, which transpired into indefinitely.
So the two-way Mother son relationship became a mother, son and mothers gay friend relationship. Jack’s former habitat of a few of the lads back after football practice turned into don’t ask anyone back in case they meet Gay Gary and it was social suicide for a fourteen-year-old. But things were not as simple as that, Gay Gary way in no way a conservative homosexual. When Jack would return from school he would often be sitting there wearing only his pants and his fur coat, often getting stones and watching daytime TV while Jack was trying to make a start on his homework. He had told his mother about this, she had raised the matter with Gary but he had managed to sweet talk her, as he had been doing since their school days.
Jack’s mother rushed between publishing houses getting bits of work here and there and the odd article published trying to bring in enough money to keep them in food and clothes. Jack thought about getting a part-time job to help out but realistically he would need to wait until he was sixteen before he could really get any work. So as his Mothers weekly grind in the world of printed media, Jack would try and help out with jobs like taking out the rubbish, Gay Gary would laze on the sofa, often too stoned to do anything. Gary had the odd mobile hairdressing job come in, but any money he earned seemed to go on a night out for himself and nothing seemed to go towards Jacks mother. Then Jack began to ask Gary questions about why he had been chucked out of where he used to live. Gary was reluctant to answer Jacks questions, so he waited until he was really high and asked him again. Gary had cashed a housing benefit cheque which was meant for the landlord and ended up being evicted.
Even worse than that, Gary kept cuddling Jack to his dismay. He was always putting his arms right around his shoulders then rubbing him up and down and clasping him into himself. Jack had tried telling him to ‘Get off’ and that he didn’t like being fondled but it was to no avail. He was a tough kid, he had grown up hard and tried pushing Gary off him, but short off a full-scale fight there didn’t seem much that he could do. Then Jack came across a beautiful idea, Gary came home late one evening after going out for a few drinks funded by hairdressing job. It was fireworks night and he was complaining that his fur coat had been singed by a banger going off near him. He insisted that Jack inspected the former animal skin for damage. He, nor his mother when she got back from an evening meeting could see any signs of fire damage. From this Jack plotted his next move, he waited for the next time Jack came up cuddling him then he told him directly:
‘Next time you cuddle me I will set fire to your Fur Coat!’
Gary stopped immediately, taken aback as his coat was his most prized possession. This tactic worked for the next few months, Gary backing off with the thought of his manky mink being cremated.
Ultimately, threats can only go so far until they stop working. For Jacks mother’s Birthday, they decided to hold a party in the house. They invited old and new friends and the house was full. Jack was in the kitchen trying to pour out some more drinks for some of his mother’s friends. Gary came in, he was drunk and being more friendly than normal. When he stretched out to cuddle Jack he reminded him of the potential fate of his furry friend. In his inebriated state, Gary would not listen, his arms going all over Jack, his arms caressing him, even when he tried to squirm out he would not stop petting him. Jack eventually broke free almost ran out the kitchen and made his way to the safety of his bedroom, blocking the entrance to his bedroom door just in case.
The next morning Jack got up early and began to clean up the cans and the empty bottles of wine while plotting his next move. In putting out the rubbish he had a look around the back garden and he found some semi-rotten stakes. He hammered one into the ground, the top reaching up to around the height of his shoulder. Taking a second stake he lashed it to the main post, creating a cross shape. His next move was to prep for his intended action, he got the barbeque lighter fuel ready and laid out the long length matches. Next, he crept very carefully up the stairs, avoiding the squeaky step, then towards Gary’s room. He opened the door very delicately, ajar he could see that Gary was asleep, his pants sprawled across the room. Avoiding looking at them his eyes scanned for the manky mink. Spotting it by the window he crept over, top of his toes, then plucked it from the window sill.
Finishing the setup, Jack positioned fuzzy form on the cross and laced it with lighter fuel. Biding his time he went back upstairs he waited for signs of Gary joining the waking world. As he sat there he thought about Abby, a girl in his form class at school. He remembered how she had looked on the non-uniform day, tight curly hair, small but perfectly formed breasts tucked inside a cropped ‘The Vamps’ tiny T Shirl, she was his favourite girl, the Vamps were his favourite band. He finally heard Gary lighting either a cigarette or the remains of a joint and he knew he was awake. He returned to the garden and he set fire to the Fur, flames formed slowly but surely, he returned inside, after knocking on Gary’s door he told him to look out the window. Gary screamed when he saw the fur fueled fire, running downstair and outside wearing only his underpants. He shrieked and tried to waft off the flames to no avail. He then began to take off at Jack, but he was laughing so hard he couldn’t hear him.
Gay Gary never cuddled Jack again.
Narrative and Illustration from Alison Little