It started out as just another Saturday night – me, Terry, Jezza and a few other lads going out into Luton for a few beers and a bit of fun. Then Terry mentioned some gay celebrity he’d seen mincing about on TV before he came out, and we were into the usual shared rant about how queers were taking over, and soon it’d be compulsory to take it up the arse.
I’m Chris Turner by the way, and I’m from a small town about 30 miles north of London. I was 22 at the time; I’m six-feet-one, lean but muscular, with close-cropped blond hair, blue eyes, generally considered pretty good looking. I want to make it clear right from the start: I was never a fascist. I’ve always considered the British National Party and their like to be a bunch of scumbag racist wankers, and I had several mates who were black or Asian. I wasn’t even that bothered about poofs, I just thought they shouldn’t be doing their nancy-boy routines in public: if they wanted to suck each other’s cocks they should do it in private and not ram it down everyone else’s throat – so to speak.
Anyway, Paul Murphy came out with the story he’d told us half a dozen times about how his little brother had been supposedly raped by a queer, then someone mentioned the Moonlight Lounge. It was a cocktail bar in Luton well known as a gay hangout. I’m not sure how, but somehow we decided to go down there and cause a bit of a ruck. I wasn’t keen, I’d rather have stayed in the pub drinking, but if all the others were going I couldn’t just sit there like Johnny no-mates drinking on my own, could I?
The Lounge was down a narrow dimly-lit back street near the station, and we lounged about on a corner. It all seemed pretty quiet for a while, then two blokes came out. They gave each other a peck on the lips and headed off in different directions. The one coming our way was on the other side of the street but, led by Jezza, we crossed the road and blocked his path. His head was down and he didn’t seem to notice us until he was a couple of feet away, then Jezza jeered “Oi, queer, d’ya fancy givin’ me a snog too?” We all looked on and laughed.
He looked alarmed and, mumbling “Excuse me”, tried to go round us. Jezza banged shoulders with the guy then, before he got past us all, someone punched him in the gut and he dropped to his knees, wheezing. That seemed to set off a feeding frenzy. Have you ever seen those wildlife programmes on TV, where a pack of hyenas all descend on an injured wildebeest? That’s what it reminded me of. Terry brought up his knee under the guy’s chin and sent him sprawling in the road then boots were flying in and blokes were stamping on him as he tried to roll away, or curl into a ball to protect himself, or something. At first I just stood back feeling horrified. I’d been involved in a few fights at soccer matches, but always on the fringes – you get the odd kick in, maybe take a punch in the head, and it’s all something to laugh about in the pub afterwards while you tell your mates what a big man you are. What was happening to this bloke was serious violence that could do permanent damage.
As I say, I didn’t really get involved, but then one of the lads was staring at me so I closed in and had a kick – not with the toe of my trainer, more a shove at the bloke’s chest with the sole of my foot really. A glint caught my eye and I turned sideways to see Paul Murphy closing in on him with a Stanley knife. The poof had seen it too, and his eyes were locked onto it, with a look of pure terror. That was getting too heavy for my liking, and without even thinking about it I kicked Murphy, hard, in the back of his leg. He fell to one knee and dropped the knife in surprise; I kicked out at it and it skittered across the road. At that point we heard a siren rapidly getting closer and we scattered in all directions.
I found myself with Murphy and Terry, and as soon as we were clear I slammed Murphy against the wall – he’s a good six inches shorter than me – and snarlingly asked him what the fuck he’d been playing at with the knife. He muttered something about cutting out the queer’s heart and giving it to his brother – wanker! We stood glaring at each other for a few seconds then Terry pulled me off him and eased the tension a bit by saying, “Yeah, well, it was worth it just to see that arse bandit piss hisself.” Terry suggested we head back to the pub to join up with the lads again, but I really wasn’t in the mood so I mooched off home. I didn’t sleep well that night.
By the morning I’d managed to convince myself we really hadn’t done the guy too much damage, that it had looked worse than it was. Then in the afternoon I was slumped in front of the telly waiting for a live football game when a regional news bulletin came on first. As the opening picture came up I sat bolt upright in my chair and literally dropped the can of lager I was holding. I didn’t even notice the beer soaking into the carpet as I listened to the newsreader speaking behind the picture.
“A 34-year old lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire was viciously attacked in Luton last night in what the police are describing as a shocking unprovoked incident. Stephen Rose was just leaving a popular nightspot when he was set upon by a gang of youths at around 10.30pm. He is in the Intensive Care Unit at Bedfordshire Royal Infirmary, where his condition is described as stable. A knife which was used in the attack was recovered from the scene and a 20-year old man is being held in custody. Police are studying CCTV footage from the town centre and have appealed for witnesses to the incident.”
I switched off the TV; I was suddenly no longer in the mood for football. I felt as if I wanted to throw up. The guy had looked as if we’d pummelled him with baseball bats – one eye swollen completely shut, a cheekbone caved in, lips swollen and tattered, and his whole face a mass of bruises. I reckoned the one in custody must be Paul Murphy, identified from his fingerprints on the knife. Knowing what a little shit he was, I wasn’t even surprised when I saw a police squad car drawing up in the street outside an hour or so later. The coppers gave me just long enough to pack a bag with a change of clothes, collected the clothes I’d been wearing the previous night, then whisked me off to the police station, leaving my mum weeping on the front step and curious neighbours standing outside their front doors, staring.
The next few hours passed a bit like a dream. I’d never had trouble with the police before. I was photographed and breathalysed, then taken into a small room with dirty walls that had once been white, and a big scarred table screwed to the floor. A uniformed officer took my fingerprints and rubbed a cotton swab inside my cheek. Then two detectives came in, switched on a tape recorder and started to interrogate me. That didn’t last long: even if my brain hadn’t been addled I wouldn’t have denied being involved in what had happened to Stephen Rose. They asked if I wanted a solicitor but I said I didn’t need one. They took me through what had happened then said I was being formally charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm and I was put into a cell for a while. Some time later I was taken back to the interview room where they read my statement back to me and some tam lawyer they’d called in on my behalf, and I signed a typed copy. After that I had a few minutes alone with the lawyer then I was put back in the cell. I spent a restless night, seeing Stephen Rose’s ruined face floating before my eyes, worrying about what was going to happen to me, and wishing the drunk next door would fuck off back to Glasgow since he’d already sung 45 times that that was where he belonged to.
I was up before a magistrate by 9.30 the following morning. The whole thing lasted barely five minutes. I confirmed my name, a clerk read out brief details of the offence I was charged with, and I was told I was being released on police bail. In the cells below the court someone in a suit went through the conditions of my release and I was back on the street, feeling punch-drunk and bewildered. The first thing I did was buy a copy of a daily paper to read more about the incident. Stephen Rose had a fractured leg, broken cheekbone, a couple of broken ribs, wire holding his jaw in place, and various other injuries. A number of his colleagues and students were quoted, all saying what a great bloke he was. I was in a complete daze when I arrived at work shortly afterwards. I told my boss at the decorating business why I was late; he looked at me as if I was something that wouldn’t flush away down the toilet and told me to get out and never come back.
The following day, of course, my name was in the papers as having been formally charged with the assault. We spent the day with journalists constantly phoning and ringing the doorbell, and from then on every time I left the house I had people staring at me. One bloke came up to me in the street and told me I should be proud of having given a queer a good kicking: that made me feel so sick it took all my self control not to thump the old bugger. We even had shit smeared on our door one night, which was nice. It got so bad that after a few days I insisted that my mum go and stay with her sister in Kent till it was all over.
I felt haunted with guilt over what we’d done to Mr Rose. I would have liked to visit him in hospital to apologise, but I didn’t have the guts. Instead I wrote him a long letter saying how sorry I was and how wretched I felt, and gave it to one of the coppers to pass onto him. I’d been told it could be ages before my trial, but as it was a high profile case some strings must have been pulled and within a few weeks I found myself standing in the dock in a suit I hadn’t worn since a wedding three years earlier, with the too-small jacket straining across my back. The police had got all eight of us who were involved in the attack, but only three of us were pleading guilty so it had been decided to try us separately. Paul Murphy and a kid called Jimmy were represented by one barrister, but the solicitor I’d been assigned had felt it would be sensible for me to have my own brief separate from theirs.
As the day progressed I sat feeling physically sick, hanging my head and clasping my hands. Murphy and Jimmy sprawled back in their seats looking quite pleased with themselves. The whole thing didn’t last long. A cop gave evidence about being called out to the scene, then the detective who’d interviewed each of us gave his evidence. That took up the morning, then first thing in the afternoon Mr Rose was called to the stand. His face looked a lot better but I felt my gut twist as he hobbled across the court, leaning heavily on a stick and in obvious pain. He said that most of the attack was pretty much a blur. But when he was asked if he remembered any of us in the dock he answered firmly and clearly. “Yes. The one on the left, Murphy, was the one coming towards me with the knife. I was looking straight at him, and I’ll never forget the look of hatred on his face. The boy on the right, Turner, was the one who stopped him attacking me with it. He kicked Murphy, then grabbed him by the collar and dragged him back. Murphy had fallen on his knees after Turner kicked him. But for that I’m convinced I wouldn’t be standing here now.”
I felt myself flushing with shame and embarrassment. I’d been involved in the brutal beating of this intelligent, cultured man, and there he was apparently trying to help me with his evidence! He went on to talk about the letter I’d sent him, and read a couple of lines from it. At that I heard Murphy swear in disgust under his breath. The court broke up for a few minutes after that, and I only just made it back to the cells before I fell in front of the toilet and spewed my guts up. The rest of the afternoon was taken up with character witnesses called by our lawyers. My ex-employer said I’d been a steady and reliable employee for four years, never caused any trouble, and that what had happened seemed totally out of character for me. I was grateful for that, but I felt even worse afterwards, feeling that in some way I’d let him down.
We spent the night in Bedford jail, which scared the shit out of me, then next day the court heard social reports on us. I’d had an interview with some social worker in preparation for the trial, and he was first up. He said that I had no previous criminal convictions, and that my school reports had all been quite good. I was the only child of a single parent, by an unknown father, and my mum had led a ‘wayward lifestyle’ in my formative years; I was grateful he didn’t explain that mum was a street hooker in her youth and that my ‘father’ was one of her punters who’d raped her. I’d agreed to appear for the prosecution against the other lads who’d taken part in the assault when their trial came up. On interviewing me the social worker had been impressed by the genuine remorse I’d shown for my part in the attack, and believed that I wouldn’t re-offend. A custodial sentence would be more likely to do more harm than good, and I was the only available support for my mum, who wasn’t in good health. As the guy left the dock Murphy leaned across to me and hissed “You lucky bastard”. I thought he was being sarcastic, but he actually meant it; he came from a nice middle class family and didn’t have any ‘social excuses’ for his involvement.
The judge broke for lunch and said he would deliver sentence in the afternoon. I couldn’t eat a thing and sat staring at my food trying not to throw up over it and petrified at the thought of going back to Bedford nick, or somewhere worse. After about half an hour later my barrister came in, all smiles, and told me that the judge was considering giving me a restorative justice order, if I would accept it. I had no idea what that meant, so he explained. “Well, it’ll involve an element of community service, cleaning up litter in the park, that sort of thing. But part of that will be taken up with meeting the victim, talking to him about the crime, and seeing what you can perhaps do to directly help him cope with the ramifications of it.” I was more than happy to agree to that if it meant no jail time, but I wasn’t sure how Mr Rose would feel about it – in his position I would have wanted to see my attackers properly punished. But my solicitor assured me that the victim had said I deserved a second chance and was keen on the suggested sentence.
When we returned to the dock the other two looked a lot less smug. I soon found out why, as the judge sent Murphy to prison and Jimmy to a young offenders’ institute. Then it was my turn. His Honour made some positive comments about my attitude, then announced that I was being given 200 hours community service, tied to the restorative justice order. The next couple of weeks were a blur as I met with the social worker and people from the council and a couple of charities to sort out my community service. Most importantly, I also met with Stephen Rose.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so nervous about anything in my entire life. He lived in a nice modern terraced house on the outskirts of town. I sat in the social worker’s car for a good five minutes before I finally plucked up the courage to get out and walk through the garden gate. About 30 seconds after I rang the bell the door opened and Mr Rose invited us in with a smile. He was quite slightly built, five-nine tall and slim, with sandy brown hair, a long face, friendly brown eyes, a thin pointed nose and a thin lipped mouth, partly covered by a short thin beard and moustache he’d grown since…that night. All in all he reminded me a bit of a younger version of that actor, John Hurt.
Still using the walking stick he led us into the lounge and offered coffee, but the social worker tactfully disappeared to the kitchen to make it, leaving the two of us alone. After a few seconds embarrassed silence we both started talking at once. I apologised but he waved to me to continue. Clearing my throat I started. “Mr Rose, this is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but I really do mean it when I say how sorry I am for what we did to you. I feel like complete scum, and I feel sick every time I think about it. You must hate me. If I was you I couldn’t even stand to have me in your house, and I wouldn’t blame me if you picked up that stick and beat the crap out of me with it.”
He laughed soundlessly at that and, shaking his head, said with a slight Manchester accent, “I don’t hate you Chris – can I call you Chris? I just want to try to understand why you did what you did. I mean, everything I’ve found out about you suggests you’re a bright lad, you had a steady job, you’ve got a City & Guilds certificate in painting and decorating…why would someone like you want to go out queer bashing with that bunch of losers you were hanging out with?”
I had to take time to get my thoughts together before I answered him. I didn’t really know why myself. I mean, I’d been friends with a couple of the lads since my first day at school, and there’s nothing wrong with going drinking with your mates, but that couldn’t explain why I’d gone along with them in finding someone to beat up for a personal lifestyle choice that had no impact on me whatsoever. I suppose I’ve always been a follower rather than a leader. I was this lofty blond geek, and I just didn’t want to stand out from the crowd. At first I found it difficult to say anything to him; once I started though, I couldn’t stop. I barely noticed the social worker bring the coffee in; I didn’t even notice myself drinking it. When I glanced at the window I was surprised to se that it was getting dark and the street lights had come on. I’d been talking for the best part of an hour, with Stephen just interjecting the occasional comment or question.
As Stephen stood to switch on the room light the social worker raised the question of what I could do for him to help make amends. He shrugged as he sat down. “I don’t think I really need anything. It’s just been nice to meet Chris and hear what he has to say.”
That was when a thought occurred to me. “Look Mr Rose…sorry, Stephen…like you said, I’m a trained decorator. No disrespect, but this place looks like it hasn’t been done for a while. I could re-decorate it for you, top to bottom.”
The social worker looked delighted at the idea. Stephen looked momentarily surprised, then stared around the walls as if he’d never seen them before. “Well, I suppose…I wasn’t thinking of it but, now you come to say it I suppose the place has seen better days.” We spent most of the next hour talking about it. I told Stephen I could get him top drawer discount on materials, and we walked from room to room and discussed what he wanted in each place. When we finally left I felt emotionally drained, but strangely satisfied that I might actually really achieve something for him.
We’d agreed that I’d do the work over a couple of weekends and I turned up bright and early on the Saturday. I worked hard for several hours until Stephen insisted I stop and eat some sandwiches he’d made for me. We talked for a few minutes then he left me to eat in peace. As I did my eye was caught by a book lying on the coffee table. It was about social anthropology, and out of curiosity I picked it up. We’d never really had books in our home, and I wasn’t in the habit of reading anything much beyond the daily paper. I opened this book at random though and started reading. I couldn’t have explained why, I’d never seen anything remotely like it before, but I immediately found it fascinating. I didn’t understand everything I was reading, but when Stephen came in a few minutes later he found me intent on the book, a half eaten sandwich still on my plate.
I jumped in surprise when I heard him laugh and he said, “Sorry, that’s me bringing my work home with me.” He told that he was a lecturer in social psychology. That didn’t really mean much to me, so he explained that it was the study of the relations between people and groups, and how they impact on society. When I said that sounded pretty straightforward he laughed again, not unkindly, and said, “Yes, doesn’t it. But there are few more complex subjects, and if we understood it perfectly there’s be a lot less conflict in the world. For example, you said you don’t really know why you attacked me with your mates. Well, this is the subject that can tell you.”
We talked about it for a full hour, and I asked him about several of the things I’d read in the book. I suddenly remembered what I was there for and jumped up, apologising for slacking on the job. Stephen said, “Look, when you go, why don’t you borrow this book, and have a read of it? In fact, better still, take this one” – he stepped to a tall bookcase and pulled out a slightly dog-eared paperback – “and see what you make of it”. The book was an introductory one, and I thanked him and tucked it into my bag to take home with me. I took it out at home to read over my dinner before settling down for a night’s telly, and was still sitting at the dinner table at one in the morning ploughing through it.
The whole thing was fascinating. I learnt about the herd instinct, and peer pressure. I’d never heard the term before, but I started to understand not only what I’d done to Stephen, but how millions of perfectly decent Germans could follow a small bunch of madmen on the road to hell simply because everyone was too scared to stand out from the crowd and risk being the one the mass turned on next. I had so many questions that I started taking notes, and when I turned up at Stephen’s place the next day I quite shyly asked him if we could spend a bit of time talking about it. I felt embarrassed – after all, he’d been doing nothing else all week at work – but he laughed and said he was happy to do so. We sat down after I’d finished working and were still there three hours later talking over questions and answers.
After that I started visiting Steve, as he told me to call him, a few nights a week. I’d borrow a book, consume it, then we’d sit together and talk it through, sipping a nice wine or even a brandy. I didn’t have a computer at home and he showed me useful websites and downloaded documents for me as well. He joked that I was rapidly becoming an A student, and I should sign up for the university. It felt to me as if someone had put built extra room into my brain; I’d never really thought before about why people do the things they do, but once I’d discovered the subject it absolutely captivated me, and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Steve didn’t just educate me about social psychology. At his home I saw quality TV programmes, mainly documentaries, that I’d never heard of; he played me classical and jazz music which was a revelation to me; he even cooked my dinner for me on occasions. Giving evidence in court identifying the other blokes who’d attacked Steve wasn’t easy for me, and it was him who helped me through it. After a couple of weeks I’d finished the decoration, inside and out, but I continued to visit regularly. I felt terribly guilty even thinking it, but it occasionally occurred to me that being convicted for assaulting Steve was the best thing that had ever happened to me!
One evening after he’d cooked me a delicious spaghetti Bolognese I was sitting on the sofa reading an article in a psychology magazine. As Steve flopped down beside me I made some negative comment about something the author had said and Steve chuckled. I thought I’d made a prat of myself but he shook his head. “On the contrary, you’re quite right, I agree with you. You’re really progressing very fast you know.”
I gradually became self-conscious, aware of Steve just sitting alongside me gazing at me, his arm lying casually along the back of the sofa. He shuffled closer, his hip resting against mine and, feeling my face flush, I continued to read. After perhaps a minute he lazily reached out a hand and pushed down the magazine. I turned to look at him and our eyes locked for a few seconds. Then he leant in and, very gently kissed me on the cheek. He eased back and peered at me as if gauging my reaction. I looked away, my face burning. There had been no hint that this was coming, not the slightest indication of anything beyond Platonic friendship between us; yet, if I searched the depths of my soul, I couldn’t honestly say that it was a complete surprise…nor was I running screaming from the room.
I jumped slightly as Steve’s hand fell lightly on my thigh, inches from my groin. I turned to say something to him, I’m honestly not sure what, but as I did he kissed me full on the lips. His beard tickling against my skin felt strange, but not unpleasant. My mouth opened slightly in surprise and Steve took advantage, slipping his tongue between my teeth and stroking it across my own tongue. At the same moment his hand slipped from my thigh onto the zip of my jeans, and after a moment’s fumbling I realised he was undoing them. I gasped into his mouth as supple fingers teased out my rapidly stiffening cock and curled around it.
Steve continued to kiss me for a few seconds as I sat passively accepting it, my arms hanging by my side. Then he broke the kiss and gave me another appraising look. I’m not sure what he saw in my eyes, but I watched in dumb amazement as he ducked his head towards my groin. A moment later his mouth slid down the length of my cock, taking me into its warm wetness. A couple of girls had sucked me off over the years, but they had been rank amateurs compared to Steve. His soft lips slid up and down me, his hand following them along my shaft. As his tongue dragged teasingly along the sensitive underside I knew I couldn’t last long, and moments later the damn burst and I shot my load deep into the back of his throat. He continued to suck on me, and burrowed his hands beneath me, gripping my buttocks through my jeans and pulling me even more firmly against his face as my hips bucked and he drained me.
Steve sat up beside me again and I shuddered with emotion as big tears rolled down my face, my mind in total confusion. He put his arms round my neck and buried his face against it for a moment, then whispered, “Will you come to bed with me?” I was too choked to speak, but found myself nodding.
As he led me up the stairs it felt as if I was standing outside myself watching. A thought ran through my mind: “I’m going up to the bedroom of a homosexual man I was involved in beating up, in order to have sex with him.” On one level the whole situation seemed completely alien to me; but on another, much deeper, level it somehow felt right, as if it was something I’d secretly wanted to do for a long time but I hadn’t known it until that point. The turmoil I was experiencing is difficult to describe.
When we reached his room Steve quickly took off his clothes then turned to me and efficiently stripped me, while I stood passively cooperating, just lifting an arm or a leg as required. I’ve got very little body hair, but Steve had a mat of hair on his chest which extended all the way down to his thighs. His circumcised cock, half erect but noticeably smaller than mine, stood out from a thick forest of brown curls.
When we were both naked he eased me onto the bed and lay beside me, then took me in his arms. He stretched a leg over me, pulling our bodies close together, and a tremor ran through me as I felt his cock and balls rubbing against mine. He kissed me and, automatically, my mouth opened up to him. Almost without realising it I slipped my arms around him and sucked on his tongue, then kissed him back. Within moments my cock was hard again, as stiff as I could ever remember it. Steve broke the kiss just long enough to mumble, “Oh Christ, I’ve been thinking about doing this with you for so long Chris.”
After a couple of minutes he reached behind him to a bedside cabinet and picked up a small tube of lubricant gel. I assumed he wanted to fuck me, but to my surprise he smeared the cold clear gloop down the length of my cock then, turning his back to me, slid his hand into his own backside and spread it around. Then he pushed back against me and positioned my dick at the very edge of his anal passage. I asked if he wanted me to use a rubber but he shook his head and, my heart pounding, I reached my hands around his belly and pushed into him. His arse felt surprisingly tight, more snug around me than the few pussies I’d shagged, and as I began to slide my hips backwards and forwards he sighed and pushed even more firmly back against me. He started to stroke his cock but, seemingly instinctively, I pushed his hand aside and wrapped my own around him. He closed his fingers over mine and guided my hand as I pumped his dick even as I fucked him. Within seconds he shot a stream of hot sticky liquid onto the bed and a few moments later, with a last big thrust, I fired my jizz into his arse.
Naturally I stayed the night. After a while we showered, and had a mutual wanking session as we soaped each other. Before we fell asleep Steve screwed me. The feeling of a hard rod pushing into my arse was weird at first, and slightly painful, but at the same time it felt as if he was scratching an itch that had been bothering me for a long time. During the night I woke up and got my first taste of cock, swallowing his jizz as he’d swallowed mine. In the morning, as I lay in Steve’s arms with my head on his chest, he stroked my hair and murmured, “I hope you don’t mind, Chris, but I think I’ve fallen in love with you.” I tried to answer, but instead I started sobbing like a toddler.
Steve and I live together now; with my re-decorating he got a good price for his old place and we managed to get a mortgage on a tiny cheap flat in the East End of London. We both thought staying in Luton wasn’t a good idea. Steve’s joined the faculty of the University of Greenwich and I’ve started a course in social anthopology at East London uni, where my lack of formal qualifications wasn’t a problem. My mum decided to move in permanently with her sister. As far as she’s concerned Steve and I are just friends, which she thinks is a really nice outcome to the whole thing. She just wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain the reality of our situation to her. Sometimes I don’t really understand it myself. I’m not even sure if I am truly gay or not; all I know is that Steve and I love each other, and he’s the best thing that’s ever happened in my life.