There’s a street without a name on an estate without any lights where, in a house without any rules, God talks to me. He says, Robbie, why you thinking about Paul, and not the football?

But I don’t want to hear it, so I grab my coat from the banister at the bottom of the stairs and go out. A piece of fiber-board is nailed to the bottom half of the door, where some git kicked it in. I take out my cigarettes. Blue smoke billows from my mouth, making me look hard. I use my thumb and first finger to hold the cigarette butt, because that’s how proper lads are meant to do it.

Because I’ve no money in my pocket, me and Paul are pissing about on the riverbank. Paul has my rolled-up coat under his head. He’s wearing a yellow t-shirt that makes his skin look nice. We’re watching the lines aeroplanes draw across the pink sky, guessing where they’re going. “Spain?” he says.

“Wrong way,” I say.

“How d’you know, mate?”

“Just do.”

Every now and again his arm pushes up against mine. I like it so much it hurts. Feels like if I stay right by his side I’ll throw-up. That’s when I roll away and say, “We should go to Spain.”

Paul hops up off the grass. “You wanna go swimming?” He hustles to the water’s edge.

“Nah,” I say, watching him strip off. His arse is moon white. I close my eyes when he turns around. The colours on my eyelids change from red to blue and back again. When I open my eyes, he’s gone.

“Stop messing about.” I light another cigarette. “Paul—”

There’s a ripple in the muddy black water where he was a few seconds ago. I’m waiting, begging for him to come back up. But it’s useless. God hates me.




Jon Ransom is a queer writer living in Cambridge.