Monday, November 14, 2011

Junction X excerpt by Erastes

Set in the very English suburbia of 1962 where everyone has tidy front gardens and lace curtains, Junction X is the story of Edward Johnson, who ostensibly has the perfect life: A beautiful house, a great job, an attractive wife and two well-mannered children. The trouble is he’s been lying to himself all of his life. And first love, when it does come, hits him and hits him hard. Who is the object of his passion? The teenaged son of the new neighbours.

Edward’s world is about to go to hell.

Junction X
Cheyenne Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-937692-06-3 (print)
ISBN: 978-1-937692-07-0 (eBook)

Excerpt:

One Tuesday I had an early meeting out of town, so I used the Bentley, though I didn’t enjoy driving the big car in and around London. By the time I came off the main road, my shoulders aching, I was glad to see the final roundabout at the end of the dual carriageway. As I turned into The Avenue, a leggy figure in a black blazer ran across the road in front of me, hurrying slightly as he heard the engine. It was Alec and, by the quick glance he gave the car as he scurried by, it was obvious that he’d seen me. I remember willing my foot onto the accelerator so I could drive by, but my feet were no longer under my control. Instead, I braked beside him and rolled down the window.

“Need a lift?”

He grinned, his teeth white in the dusk, and hurried around to the other side while I unlocked the door.

“Thanks.”

“I don’t make a habit of kerb crawling, you know.”

“I believe you.”

The ride was too short. In no time at all, we were pulling up outside our respective houses. “Thanks,” he said again, but he made no move to get out. His fingers moved restlessly over the handle of his briefcase, making a fist and then opening out to stroke the brown leather. Brown-white-brown went his knuckles and I couldn’t stop staring at them.

“You’ve got ink on your hand,” I said. “You’re late home.” I sounded like a schoolmaster.

“I’ve joined an evening club. Extra coaching.”

“Do you need it?”

“For Oxford I will.”

“Oh. I didn’t know. What subject?”

“Maths.”

I didn’t say ‘Oh,’ again, like some kind of idiot, but I was surprised. I’d known a lot of mathematicians and they didn’t have faces like Alec’s. Mostly they looked like ferrets in corduroy.

“Where did you go?” he asked, twisting on the seat. I tried to will myself not to look at him, but I had my first lesson in the effects of Alec on my will power that evening. I learned that I didn’t have any. I turned and looked him full in the face and my stomach did that flipping thing again, leaping straight up and kicking me hard in the diaphragm. His new haircut had snipped away those recalcitrant white curls but the shortness around his ears suited him, brought his cheekbones into relief and accentuated the slenderness of his neck. His shirt was undone, his tie stuffed casually into his jacket pocket. I could see a glimpse of collarbone that made my breath burn. He wasn’t wearing anything beneath the thin white shirt that I could see. I knew I should feel uncomfortable even noticing that, but I didn’t, and I felt rebellion surge through me.

“Me? Uni?” He nodded, and his lips parted, which caused my groin to stir. I coughed and shifted uncomfortably. “I did Engineering at Queens.” I braced both hands against the steering wheel and pushed back against the seat.

“Not very useful, in your job.”

“That’s an understatement.” I shrugged. “But then I wasn’t expecting to be a wage slave. I was going to build things. Bridges. Airports.”

You had different dreams.” His voice had changed, and when I looked at him again, he’d turned away and was looking out of the off-side window.

“Oh, I don’t know,” I lied. “I shouldn’t have been surprised that life included a wife and family. Life generally does. It’s not as if I thought I was going to be Isembard Kingdom Brunel.”

The words were out of my mouth before the old dream hit me hard. I had. I had wanted to be Isembard Kingdom Brunel. I realised that I hadn’t admitted that to myself for a long time. I wondered where my life had gone.

“Or anyone like that,” I ended, lamely, wishing I hadn’t said Brunel’s name, wishing I hadn’t tainted Alec with my failed ambition.

He was silent for a while and then said, “Yeah—you’re right. Thanks for the lift.” He opened the door, dropped a leg into the road and waited for a car to pass.

My chest got that tight feeling again and I caught hold of his right arm. “Alec,” I said. He turned to me with an expression that looked like the children on Christmas morning, and I was still too stupid to read it. “I’ve been thinking. There’s the toy fair in Aliston on Sunday the fourteenth.”

He pulled his leg back in and shut the door. “Yeah, I know. Dad can’t go. He has to work.”

“The twins might want to.” I couldn’t help but smile. It seemed conspiratorial. Secret plans being made in a Bentley. It was worthy of Bond.

He grinned a little, the corner of his mouth quirking up. “Would they?”

“Probably.”

“No golf?”

“Of course not. Not if they wanted to go somewhere else.” I made myself sound like Super-Dad, and with that, Alec and I were back to that easy banter. It seemed natural, and I enjoyed talking to him so much, that I hardly cared anymore that he was half my age. It was addictive; I’d not had this with anyone else, not with Valerie, not even with Phil. I wanted more of it.

“I’d like that.” He got out, then stuck his head back into the car and said, “Thanks.”

I think that was the first time that we weren’t awkward with each other. From then on—apart from a few rare notable exceptions—the way we spoke was almost intuitive, sometimes not even needing to finish sentences, or questions.

I sat and watched him walk down the path to his front door, my knuckles whitening as I gripped the steering wheel. I knew then what I was, how I felt and what was wrong-not-wrong with me. For about thirty whole seconds, I didn’t bloody care. My blood was on fire and my skin tingled. I was warm and complete. I felt like a boy who’d just asked the girl of his dreams out on the best date he could afford.

Thirty perfect seconds. Then the real world crept back and the colours bleached a little. Elation is a bubble that lasts for tiny tiny moments but leaves something of its memory in scents and sounds so that later, when you need that boost, you can close your eyes and remember happiness.

Gay Historical Fiction
www.erastes.com
http://cheyennepublishing.com/books/junction.html
available from - http://cheyennepublishing.com/where.html
To purchase, click here

3 comments:

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

I read a pre-publication version but it sure it nice to read again. Great job Erastes!

Rick R Reed said...

I loved this book so much that after reading it I bought it in print for the bookshelves at home, something I rarely do these days.

Jardonn Smith said...

The stomach flip with a kick to the diaphragm. I can count on one hand the number of times in my life another person's done that to me. It's frightening, and exhilarating... and described perfectly here by the author. Well done, Erastes. Thank you for your excerpt.