Benjamin Hewitt’s New Short Story – COLIN


COLIN

prison-bars

by

Benjamin Hewitt

Colin has no personal investment in the advertising agency that he work[ed] for, but for some bizarre reason he actually expected to succeed at his job, and other various miscellaneous things in his life, in spite of this initial – painfully preventable – motivational failure.

Colin is mostly gay and his partner is mostly gay, but they were introduced to one another by a mostly straight guy. Colin doesn’t get much time to think, but after some extremely brief consideration he believes this manner of introduction has always been at the root of his and his partner’s relationship problems.

Though, saying that, things weren’t the same ever since Colin’s partner did a paper for his PhD, on the Kinsey approach to sexuality, and they became mostly gay rather than one hundred percent-ers. They started to put a lot of otherwise-needed mental energy into browsing the Internet for women who looked like men and maybe vice versa sometimes, and eventually having uncomfortable sex with one another to androgynous porn that neither one of them was really that into.

The mostly straight guy who introduced them is no longer a mutual acquaintance of theirs, only Colin’s, which also seems weird to Colin but he never mentions this. Colin can’t have actually thought though, that a gay relationship could have been any more likely to succeed than a straight one. He can’t have projected that arguments and uncomfortable regretful sex weren’t ever going to happen.

The advertising agency that Colin work[ed] for made him redundant, as a direct result of his supreme, shocking lack of personal investment in them. He didn’t go to a single social, and had packed his bag every day by six PM. These were two of the primary points brought up by his line manager during the de-brief, who – embarrassingly for Colin – mentioned as a side-note that Colin should have counted himself lucky to have a job in such hard times.

This is actually something that had to be said to him, like it wasn’t blinding or obvious or whatever.

Outside Colin’s window at home right now – the window by the desk where he’s now looking for other jobs at three AM because he refuses to go on JSA – outside this window, there’s a cobweb all frosted and shit by the cold, and it’s pretty, and inside the house simultaneously it’s emotionally cold, so at least that’s a nice metaphor.

His partner is very well off financially, but they have an excellent agreement that they each pay half for everything, and this is set in stone, no matter what.

His partner is in bed upstairs and Colin is sat at the desk, not really reading the Universal Jobmatch webpage, confused suddenly by this moment of being alone at night. He realises in this confusion that he has no real sense of identity, mainly because it has been so long since he has been alone in a room, any room. His day has always been work, the train and his self-employed partner-filled house. No gaps.

Even on weekends he would wake up next to his partner and then go outside and there would always be people there because he lives in a big expensive block of flats in Brighton city centre.

In the room right now Colin actually nearly has an identity crisis breakdown or something of this sort, because at the age of thirty-five he still doesn’t know who he is, like that’s actually normal. A second later though he realises that it is more of a prolonged, deep, thoughtful moment, that could at any second either descend into a crisis or evolve into enlightening realisation. This is an exciting thing.

Colin thinks he actually has problems but he hasn’t read enough books to know what a problem is, and he definitely doesn’t know what physical hardship is. Mental health is a complete lie, it just does not exist, but Colin actually does not know this fact at the age of thirty five.

All things considered, they are okay, him and his partner, actually, in a very objective sense, from a very movie-like external-facing-in perspective. They are getting by. Colin has about two months left of savings to pay his half of the rent until he has to go on JSA. He probably won’t get housing benefit though with his partner’s income, but this is absolutely not a problem. He doesn’t think it’s strange that he and his partner each pay exactly half of the rent. It’s not really.

Colin always thought he would borrow money from his father in this situation, but his father is in prison and needs his money to buy things there, as if prison isn’t meant to be a punishment or whatever. Unfortunately for Colin, though fortunately for the taxpayer, his father is a bit of a loose cannon and cannot be controlled, so he doesn’t get any free privileges inside. His father actually thinks he has a mental health disorder, or that he is actually the victim of a poor socio-economic situation that Colin has managed to work his way out of.

Colin sometimes agrees with his father on this, but hopefully he is just humouring him. Luckily Colin will usually come back around and see the mistake in the deeply flawed logic that his father spat at him for years like bile or spit or oil or something. Luckily Colin will often realise that his rejection of the welfare state laziness that plagues everyone is a reason for celebration, and is at the root of his success, however small.

It is likely a good thing that he does not have much contact with his father any longer. At this desk in the middle of the night – during this prolonged, deep thoughtful moment, that could at any second descend into a crisis or evolve into enlightenment, as he already knows – this realisation about his father comes to him as a very filmic thought, which he knows that so many men of thirty-five will have had throughout the ages. Father issues are a very genuine human thing, and Colin is a human, and this feels good and exciting.

Outside the window a spider crawls into the centre of the frozen web, which seems amazing, especially as it is night and probably minus ten degrees outside. The spider unwillingly carries tiny pieces of frost on its round, hairy back.

There are always people and things and animals and whatever, that are in worse situations than you. This wonderful conclusion springs out of the deep, thoughtful moment he has been sharing with himself and with the room, like a jack in the box, as if tonight has built up to it.

Colin wonders now with a sly bite of his lip whether he might actually be able to celebrate tonight by going upstairs and initiating some life-affirming enlightened sex with his partner, and that this might solve their relationship problems, as if they were actually something that could actually be solved, as if his partner would want to touch him, as if they weren’t just doomed to failure from the second that the mostly straight guy or whatever introduced them.

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Main Photo by:

http://thecookimonster.deviantart.com/

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