He’s passed out four times so far. I had a go at him for not sleeping well the night before, not eating properly. He answered with narrow eyes. Had a performance to do. Twenty feet of slick black tarp and he still managed to spit blood on the cream coloured carpet. While he was slumped on the incline (the second resignation), I cut a thin triangle from under the bed and replaced the bloody patch. Never leave your DNA if you have any choice in the matter. I had a fleeting thought of keeping the bloody patch, but I’ll burn it. In any case, it seared a string of words into my memory. “From pillow lips a livid stream in languor disembogues.” I’ll have to use that somewhere. I suppose I just have.
I fed him earlier, food I brought with me to avoid the snags of room service delivery. Cuts from a bit of cold, rare steak, a few pieces of bread with Irish butter, some raw tomato and thin slices of red onions in balsamic vinegar and salt. I didn’t want to spike his sugar, but he needed some nutrients. I’ve been dripping bottled water into his mouth throughout. He’ll need a spot more food later, but especially some sodium chloride and potassium chloride when he wakes up to rebalance lost electrolytes. It was hotter in here than we’d anticipated, but I had to close the windows about an hour in. I hate using gags unless it’s for punishment.
When he arrived, he was dressed in a cropped French military jacket in dusty drab, a pair of black piped, high waisted trousers tucked into a pair of hard leather riding boots, a white shirt and black slim tie. I felt vindicated for having chosen military doctor for my look, called him soldier, which made him grin.
His body is surprisingly unmarked, or was. Weeks ago, I gave him a quick formula for muscle building. He’s on week eight of his regime and though he’s arguably undernourished, he wears it well. Wiry muscle structure, visible bones in all the right places. The only very soft spot on him is his mouth. He keeps it that way with a mixture of natural solid oils and a custom blend of scents. His breath smells of it, and cigarettes and whisky at the moment. He’s been smoking the last of his store of American cigarettes, an entirely white paper, no brown filter like their English counterparts. When he’s unsure of himself, he touches the back of his head when he takes a drag, looking down. He swings a leg when he’s sitting on a high surface. I purposely didn’t bring a camera, the Tibetan approach. No matter how much work goes into the positioning and creation of a work of art, it is impermanent. There are only two exceptions, but everyone has to figure that out for themselves.
He claimed I’d reached his limit, but I didn’t listen. I watched instead. I had my hand around his slim, pale throat and told him to keep still. He may have wondered why I wasn’t applying much pressure, probably thought I was just demonstrating control. That was one aspect. I was taking his pulse, actually. All systems steady, eyes cloudy but still sparking. What this signaled was a change of tactics, not leaving him there to let the pain dull and settle into his psyche. Listen, you’re too far into the hole, I can’t let you stay there. He looked at me. I picked up a thin blade and his expression changed. You need the sting. A thin, sharp pain. Ride it back. He licked his lips, eyes clearing. There’s the hunger. On your back. His motion was fluid, none of the jittering he’d had only seconds before. I carved shallow designs, four parallel lines that curled at the ends, zigged and zagged diagonally over his chest, ending on the opposite side, under his ribcage. The result was a sash of bloody calligraphy and he wore it so well I wanted to howl. I led him to the white tiled bathroom and stood him in front of the mirror to show him how beautiful he looked. He ran his hands over them, back arching. After everything he’d been through, everything he’d handled with as much composure as one can demonstrate while they’re screaming, that was what did it. He wept, head bent, and I stared at the muscles shaking between his shoulder blades, put my hand there to feel it. The bloody handprints are still on the sink. I haven’t the heart to wipe them away yet.
I told him to say everything that leapt to mind right there while I cleaned the cuts. After some hesitation, he blurted it all out. It’ll remain unwritten.
When he wakes up, after a feed, we’ll watch Titus and I’ll tint his hair white. Wash him down, make him up, mess him up again. Though not in quite the same way. The first night was Beethoven. The second is Mozart. I brought the latter at the last minute, an afterthought. Such a relief to trust instincts again.
On the way to the train, I’ll buy a new sim card for my phone, a new number. I don’t have his. The Tibetan approach.