It’s funny, isn’t it? We never expect to find ourselves on the roof and nothing can prepare us for when it actually happens. I don’t even know what I’m doing up here. No, that’s a lie. I do know why I’m up here. I don’t think I’m ready to tell you yet.
Come on, take a deep breath, focus. Not you, I was talking to myself. Don’t give me that look this isn’t some fucking freak show. I can feel the wind on my back. I can see for miles. Everything is so much clearer up here. I can even taste the rain in the sky. Anyway, why did you come?
So, that’s why. Huh. I figured it would be because of…well you know who I’m talking about. I’m glad you came. There, I said it. I fucking said it. Stay where you are mind, I don’t need you tripping over your shoelaces or something stupid. See, I still care. Hey man, I’m not even laughing, I swear I’m not! Okay, maybe just a little.
Did you know buildings sway in the wind? You don’t notice these things on the ground. But up here, with my legs hanging over the edge, I can really feel it. It sways from left to right and right to left. Okay, okay, I get it. You want to know why I’m doing all of this. I need you to promise me something. Shut up, let me finish. I need you to promise that you won’t try to stop what’s going to happen. There’s that stare again. Trust me I don’t have to look to see it.
I guess it all started with a guy. Hey, let me have my Disney Princess moment! Shut it you know I’m the better princess. Wait, where the fuck was I? Do you remember the party? Mandy’s house? Yeah, of course you do. That’s where I met him. I’d been feeling kinda down and I guess I went to the party as some kind of stupid gesture. It was getting late, I was fucked and you…well you were passed out on the couch snoring your little head off. Fuck knows where Mandy was. I remember somebody crying. That was probably her.
Anyway I was off my face in the kitchen having a fag. It’s a wonder I even remember any of this. Just call me Superman I guess. So this guy approaches me from outside. Don’t ask me why he was outside, how the fuck should I know? He was outside and then he was inside. He approaches me and I offer him one of my cigs. He takes it and starts twirling it between his fingers. And we start talking. And I’m saying whatever shit comes to mind. I keep expecting him to realise. Surely he’s gonna suss me and get the hell out of there? But he doesn’t.
He puts his hand on my face. I’m a little thrown, you know? I don’t move his hand. Suddenly I’ve got my hand on his waist and I’m drawing him towards me. Neither of us are talking any more. What is there to be said? I can feel a monster in my chest screaming, pounding, wailing. It’s tearing my insides apart just to be free. So, I kiss him. And he kisses me back. And it feels…amazing. The monster in my chest is purring. It’s like taking a fistful of ecstasy. No, it’s much, much better than that. He gives me his number and tells me to call him.
I waited a week. I don’t know why but I guess I didn’t want to seem too keen. Ha, I saw you laugh there. Don’t think I didn’t notice! I call him and it rings six times before he answers. He recognises my voice. I can’t remember the last time somebody recognised me from my voice. We talk for an hour. Maybe it was two. Suddenly I’ve got the courage and I’m asking him out. Nothing fancy. A walk down at the pier.
It’s Friday evening. I’m waiting beside the Pier Café. Where we arranged. He arrives on time. We go for the walk. Right to the end of the pier. At the end I climb on to the granite wall and just sit there watching this brilliant purple sunset. He climbs up beside me and puts his arm around my shoulder. And then I’m holding his other hand in mine. We watch the sun fade from the sky. I know people are staring at us. Look at the queers I hear some drunk slur as he staggers past clutching his alcoholic can. Nothing can touch us. We felt invincible.
It’s properly dark by now and we’re still sitting on the pier wall. I haven’t even moved my hand from his. I kiss him. Just on the cheek. Nothing fancy. We get down from the wall and start to walk back up to the café. It’s almost pitch black. We go past the café and turn on to a narrow road. There’s no light here either except for that old flickering streetlamp. We don’t care. It’s fun in the dark. It’s sexy. It’s dangerous.
And that’s when they came. Out of the dark. And we’re pulled apart. I’m screaming. He’s yelling. A hail of baseball bats rains down on him and knock him to the ground. I’m cowering on the pavement with my head in my hands not daring to even look. I hear laughter. I hear drunken celebrations. They don’t even touch me. They never touched me. Their voices fade away and I finally summon the courage to lift my head. And I see him just lying there. His eyes are open. Staring. There’s a streak of still wet blood down his right cheek where only half an hour ago I’d kissed him. I know he’s dead. I know there’s nothing I can do. But I have to do something. So, I fumble in my pocket for my phone.
They told me. Down at the hospital. He suffered a brain haemorrhage from the first blow. He was already dead and they kept hitting him and hitting him and hitting him. Who does that? He was targeted. I know that now. They left me because I was nothing to them. Just another closeted poof he’d picked up. He was the real prize. I know one day it’ll be my turn.
You think I’m going to jump, don’t you? You think that’s why I’m sitting on the edge. I wish it could be that simple. Look, my hands are trembling. I can’t even hold this cigarette steady. It’s been six months. If I was gonna kill myself I would’ve done it by now. I’m too much of a coward even for that. Oh, but it would be spectacular, wouldn’t it? All I have to do is push forward and I’m falling. You wouldn’t even have a chance to stop me. I’d be falling and then, just like that, I’d slam straight into the ground extinguish my fucking worthless life.
But, no, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to give them that satisfaction. What would my obituary even say? Depressed loner throws himself off building. Hardly the way I wanna go. When I go there’s gonna be fire. There’s gonna be splendour. There’s gonna be a fucking party! That’s how I’ll go.
Well, here we are. I’m sitting here. You’re standing over there. I guess it’s time I actually looked at you. When I said I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction what I really meant was I didn’t want to give you the satisfaction. That’s right, I saw you. You may not have hit him yourself but you were there. You were with them. And that’s what I really can’t get my head around. You’ve known all this time and you’ve never once asked how I am. You’ve never once had the fucking courage to tell me why. So, now’s your chance to put things right.
I guess I never really expected you to admit it. I never thought you’d break down and cry and beg for forgiveness. You weren’t one for surprises. You made a mistake that night. That’s easy, we’ve all done that. I want to see a way forward. For you. I want to forgive you. I’m not there yet. One day, maybe. So, you just keep standing there. Watch the sun set and the moon rise. Watch the street life down below. Watch the mum’s push their buggies. Watch the queers hold hands and laugh and joke and smile. Watch all of that. And know that I have never felt so alive as I do right now, here on this roof with you. You see I’m not afraid of who I am any more. You’re afraid. You’re terrified. You don’t know what you are. You have no idea at all. Who am I? I’m just another queer. And you can’t bring me down.