Home » Featured, Fiction, General, Headline, Titles

Friday Fiction – Profundis

2 January 2015 2 Comments

A night out with two famous poets and a disapproving old friend. Could it prove the end of a scandalous relationship?


© 2015 Jodi Lee, all rights reserved
Image credit – pochmahone via Free Images

profundisFinn ducked down the alley only a few steps ahead of his close friend. “Hurry up, Bosie. We’ll never catch him if you keep dawdling. Wyndham will never let us get past it if we don’t beat him back to the pub.”

Alfred Douglas, ‘Bosie’ to his closest friends, picked up the pace. Although drunk and blurry-eyed, he managed to pass Finn, directing him into another alley. “Shortcut.” Finn followed, gasping for air, ignoring the spittle flying from his mouth. Taking only a brief second to keep from tripping over the outstretched legs of the destitute sleeping behind the pub, he and Bosie exploded through the back entrance, and flopped into their chairs a full five seconds before Wyndham stumbled through the front.

“Your round, Windy!” gasped Finn, still catching his breath. He was getting too old for this game of Round the Block to settle who would buy the next round of ale.

The younger man, resigned to parting with his coin, signalled the barmaid before he put his head between his knees, and vomited three hours of drink onto the floor at his feet. Bosie and Finn laughed.

* * *

Several hours later, the maid delivered a meagre dinner to the table, and the three picked at the bread as the stew cooled. Finn finally informed them of a visit he’d had, barely at dawn that morning; one Marquess of Queensberry, Bosie’s father. A hush settled over the table. Wyndham knew the Marquess’ temper was unrivalled, controlled only in the boxing ring where he had to submit to his own rules.

“What are you going to do then?” Wyndham asked. “He may be smaller than you, Finn, but you’d never take him in a fight.”

“Well I can’t very well leave the love of my life, now can I?”

Bosie ducked his head to his bowl, hoping no one saw the flush creep up over his cheeks. For once, his flamboyance was softened; he had not meant to land Finn in a quarrel with his father.

“I suppose not, but the two of you could be a little less… well, open. Why not spend more nights at home, with Constance?”

Finn laughed, tipping his chair back and really letting it go. “Are you mad? That woman has cast me out of her bed and her life – my sons lives – since she found out about Bosie. I believed her to be of open mind, but obviously I was wrong.”

Wyndham looked to Bosie for assistance. Finding none, he tried again. “Alright, what about cooling it off between the two of you for a week, better still, a month?”

Finn cocked an eyebrow. “Why, Wyndham, are you looking to steal your way into my heart?” Picking up his spoon, he tucked in, ignoring the look of shock and mild disgust that flitted over his friend’s delicate features.

Clearing his throat, throwing his napkin over the bowl, a wobbly Wyndham rose to leave. “I won’t be party to your madness any longer. Alfred, if you wish to give your father some time to cool his rage, you know where you can stay. Finn – Oscar – I wish you well.” That said, he attempted to stride off in a huff, managing only a tipsy exit, slamming the door as he left.

“Finn, that was entirely unnecessary. He is simply trying to help.” Bosie reached out, clasping the older man’s hand between his fingers. “You know how I feel for you, you must by now. But that does not mean I won’t simply find someone else, somewhere else, to be until this blows over. My father will not rest until he sees you jailed, or worse.”

Finn sighed heavily. Staring into Bosie’s eyes, he could see the truth of it. The walls had gone up, his friends were beginning to close themselves off, shutting him out to protect themselves. Now was the time for truth, for the honesty he yearned to share with the world. The world, unfortunately, was not ready for that, and certainly not from someone like him. Perhaps, if he were someone else…

He sighed a second time, and nodded. “Alright, Bosie. I’ll stay at the club for a few days. You should stay with Wyndham, he can keep the gossips at bay.” Rising from his chair, he threw a handful of coin on the table and left without another word.

In another life, another world, he could take the mask off and live the lie. For now, he would hide and tell the truth. The mask of the poet, the husband, the father, hid what had to be the lie; the love unspeakable.