PRIDE, CHAPTER 1
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The city lights beam out across the clear night sky, bouncing playfully off the dark calm waters in Darling Harbour.
The night air is thick and hot, as it always is this time of year. Summer hit furiously in mid-October and now it seems to have settled in to stay. With the night air comes a feeling of anticipation and excitement. The city is a hub of people from all walks of life enjoying the al fresco dining that has made the Harbour famous for what it has become. Electricity fills the air and affects all it touches; the smiles on the faces of diners and drunken patrons are a testament to that. This is Australia after all. Where stress and hardships are forgotten for the few days that are the weekend. Where prostitutes become businessmen, and businessmen become rebellious teenagers. It’s stood through the test of time and is now firmly planted in the genetics of all who live on this great land. Laughter and loud music is lifted across the city, mingling with the slow murmur of the traffic across Sydney Harbour Bridge and off into the sparkling dark blue ocean and beyond. A Whales tail slices up over the water and hangs momentarily as if to catch the energy of summer. Seawater glistens down the magnificent mammal’s tail sparkling like precious jewels in the full moonlight.
MATTHEW PRESTON TAKES ONE last drag from his cigarette and closes his eyes, relishing the cold hard sting of tobacco as it stretches through his lungs. He releases the smoke slowly, as if to savor every last memory and give thanks for its life. The blue smoke curls and dances within itself lingering momentarily until it is caught by a sudden cool breeze and pushed away into the ether. Matthew watches it sail away, almost mournfully, knowing he will never again view the dance that he just created. After all it is the night for it. For letting go of things only to move onto others. He takes one last look at the smoke that is no longer there and steps back into the apartment.
The swell of the party atmosphere hits him almost instantly and he smiles. Not a big smile, for Matthew never really did anything big. But a knowing smile, almost thoughtful, whimsical. He loved this apartment and all who were there that night.
It was a night of celebrating. A celebration of another year gone and an expectation of better things to come. Maybe he would meet her this year. Matthew hoped so. For even though he was surrounded by the best of people and truly had a great life, he still wanted more. He wanted her, whoever she was. He didn’t care. He just knew he would love her with every part of his being. And she would love him equally. And even though every year he thought it, every year he gave up smoking, and every year that would pass she had not come, they had not met, he knew they would. And that knowing made all the other shit he was dealing with worthwhile. Life’s too short for wishing and hoping, Matthew knew that. But he also knew that even if it was just one day, he would love her as if it were lifetimes. He was amazed that he could hear himself think, although it was becoming increasingly more difficult to do so. He swerves in and out of the partygoers and into the kitchen where he opens the fridge door and grabs himself another Corona. The liquid is cool and refreshing as it slides down his throat and he again closes his eyes enjoying the new sensation it gives him. He never before has taken Ecstasy. With all the talk he has heard where you just have a sensational need to touch and be touched, Matthew didn’t find it. Instead, for him he loved his own time alone in a crowd full of friends and strangers. Every sensation felt new and exhilarating and he didn’t want to share it with anyone but himself. He once again takes a long gulp of his beer, knowing he should take it slower but again not caring. He loved this feeling. Loved his life. Loved the sound of music and laughter and most of all loved the party lights that danced around the room and inside his head. They were beautiful and loved him just for who he was. The thought crossed his mind that maybe Ecstasy just didn’t work for him like it did for others. He didn’t feel any different at all. He did love his new dinner setting though. And the silk shirt he was wearing felt like the material was touching him like a gentle lover. Matthew sighed loudly. Not a bored sigh by any means but one of contentment. He had never before felt so exhilarated yet so at peace with himself. He finishes his beer in three large gulps and leaves the empty bottle in the overflowing sink, which is precariously close to toppling over on the floor, and moves into the large loungeroom to mix and mingle with the other partygoers. If Matthew was truthful to himself it actually was to get closer to the small strobe light that seemed to beckon him towards it, pulsing and vibrating to the rhythm of his very being.
BRETT HAD BEEN KEEPING A close eye on his brother all night. Not too close to cramp his own style mind you, but close enough to see to it that his big brother wasn’t in harm’s way. Not that there was any cause for concern. But Brett knew the signs. He had been there himself so many times before. He himself was looking to take a party favour or two that night but when he caught a glimpse of Matthew accepting and taking the E he thought better of it. No. This can be Matthews’s night. There will be other nights, Brett was sure of it, as there always was. He loved his brother dearly. There was an unspoken bond of respect and adoration between them that most he knew where jealous of, but Brett didn’t pay heed to jealousy. He was too confident in his own skin for that. He and Matthew had always been close. As close as any two brothers could be. In a certain kind of light you couldn’t tell them apart. Although Brett was better looking. He was sure of that. And although Brett had a slighter build and moved with confidence, some say even grace, Matthew had the air of vulnerability that made him attractive to both sexes. And one knew that they had it going on if the same sex wanted to fuck you. Not that Matthew noticed. He was a bit blind in all things to do with attraction and flirting.
But then again both brothers have never been lucky when it came to love. But where Matthew still clung to his unwavering faith that he will one day find his soulmate, Brett was quite content on fucking any man that showed him interest. He got bored easily. That’s what he would tell people. But truth be told he was scared to death of being alone – just like Matthew. Matthew’s acceptance of Brett’s lifestyle and friends was the one thing he loved most about him. Even the word ‘acceptance’ seemed too crude a word. Matthew was the first that Brett ever came out to. There was no fanfare, no tears or long D and M’s. Just two brothers sitting on the balcony one balmy night years before. Matthew gulping his Corona, Brett sipping his daiquiri. And then it happened. A simple question and a simple answer.
”You fuck guys hey?”
Matthew reached over and tapped his beer to Brett’s cocktail glass. The clinking sound the glasses made summed up the conversation beautifully. Simple. Quick. And with a hint of pizzazz.
Brett was having a great time himself. Matthew was easy to watch over once he had turned on the mini laser strobe light. Brett could now turn his attention on to more pleasant things. His name was Rick. Or Damien. He really wasn’t paying attention. Names were meaningless unless you had them in your cell phone, or they shouted the cab ride home. And even then it didn’t mean much. You could be whoever you wanted to be, when you wanted to be. That’s what he loved so much about his life. That’s why he loved his job so much. Sydney’s most illustrious gay club and headlining the drag cabaret show ‘Bottoms Up’ was more then he could have hoped for. Gay by day, drag by night. And frocking up gave him the perfect excuse to be a bitch. Oh who was he kidding? He was a bitch during the day as well.
Brett reaches down and plucks a Jell-O shot from one of the many waiters’ trays. The heels he was wearing made him tower over many of the people that were there that night. After all you have to be seen. The boys really outdid themselves this year. Just the right touch of femme and glam. They were sure to once again be the ‘party that you should have been to’. They held the title for the past five years and this year Brett knew would be no exception.
Of course inviting the closeted gay editorial writer from the prestigious Sydney paper doesn’t hurt your chances either. Ahh it’s not what you know it’s the people you do that do other people that gets you a step up in this town.
Just as he is downing his fourth Jell-O shot in as many minutes, Brett notices Matthew on the other side of the room talking with a striking blonde. Good for him. He raises his glass silently to his brother and tips up the glass, sliding the rubbery substance into his mouth. Then stops mid suck. Or chew. Brett still wasn’t sure of the etiquette for Jell-O shots, but he sure as fuck knew that that was no striking blonde Matthew was speaking to. He quickly throws the shot glass over his left shoulder not caring where it lands, for he was all ready half way across the room and heading straight towards Matthew.
Marilyn laughs gingerly and using a well-manicured finger provocatively pulls a strand of her fringe away from her mouth. Matthew stares transfixed by her movements. He smiles drunkenly. ”You’re beautiful”
Marilyn puts her hand to her chest in mock exasperation. ”You noticed”. Matthew nods enthusiastically and leans in for a kiss. He normally doesn’t work this fast but tonight he was doing things differently. Marilyn puts her hands to his chest and pushes him away playfully. ”Slow down there stud. Aren’t you going to offer me a sip of your beer first?” Matthew eagerly offers Marilyn his beer and watches her take it to her ruby red lips. His eyes grow wider as she begins taking the entire neck of the bottle into her mouth and slowly swallow. ”Wow. I like you!” Marilyn releases the bottle slowly and stifles a giggle wiping her lips slowly with her fingers. ”I’m sure you do honey”. Matthew can’t believe his luck. Maybe this was the one he has been waiting for all his life. Beautiful with a hint of nasty girl mixed in just to keep it interesting. He couldn’t wait to get to know her more. There was just one thing that was bothering him, even in his wasted haze. ”You sure do have a deep voice for a girl though” Marilyn rolls her eyes and curls her ruby red top lip up and sighs loudly. ”Oh shit. I thought I finally turned you, pity you’re so pissed though”. Marilyn looks Matthew up and down briefly and smacks her lips together. ”On the other hand” She reaches over and grabs Matthews’s hand putting it over her left breast. ”Go your hardest sweetheart”
Brett knew he looked striking in his Amazonian woman outfit. Even though Matthew was in dire need of rescuing he couldn’t help admiring himself strut across the floor, keeping one eye on Matthew and the other on the floor to ceiling mirrors that were positioned throughout the loungeroom. He stands in between Matthew and Marilyn. Marilyn looks disgustingly into Brett’s face. ”Slut” ”Fag” Marilyn looks around the room as if bored by the whole ordeal. She never did have the stamina for a bitch fight. Brett knew this was his chance. He grabs Matthew firmly by the hand, steering him in the opposite direction. ”God! And our parents are worried about me! Honey, if you want to change teams for the night try not to go for the disease infested mascot!” Matthew looks up drunkenly into his brother’s face, reaches his hand up and pulls Brett’s head down towards him and kisses him on the cheek, then unceremoniously burps in his face. ”And they call me the slut! C’mon Romeo I think you have had enough for the night”
Matthew likes the feeling of being led, until he begins to realise he is being led down the hallway of their apartment. He’s words slur badly. “Where we going?” “WE are not going anywhere. YOU however are going to bed”. Matthew struggles to pull his arm free from Brett’s tight grip, staggers, trips and crawls up the hallway towards the loungeroom. Brett stands back and watches as Matthew continuously runs into people’s legs and then in one last gesture reaches his hand up and then unconsciously falls to the floor. Brett stands with his perfectly manicured hands on his slender hips. “Oh for fuck sake”. Grabbing the back of Matthews’s shirt, Brett moves the crowd aside as he drags Matthew unconsciously behind him. After finally putting Matthew in his bedroom and closing and locking the door behind him, he flicks back his hair, raise one eye-brow and walks up the hallway, walking past Marilyn as he does so.
Marilyn draws back a harsh breath and turns away from Brett, he smirks pushing past her roughly and steps back into the party hoping that he can at least get drunk enough to enjoy it.