Back to Berlin - Thursday night to Friday morning by Liam Heitmann-Rice

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Back to Berlin - Thursday night to Friday morning

His name was Hans and he gave me red wine.

The apartment was pristinely clean, mostly white, its floorboards smooth and bleached; everything stripped of dust or colour. Dimly lit, it was a space occupied by the quiet personality of the man who owned it. He was forty-two and his name was Hans.

I sat, sank deep into the sofa, its plush whiteness softened by the wine swirling inside my head. I asked where I should go that evening. As he assured me, the place to be, was Bassy’s cowboy bar.

***

I am among my kind.

At the bar stand two men in long dark red gowns, their sequins glittering in muted lights; others sit along the wall, surveying the crowd in their tight t-shirts; boys prowl the bar, throwing glances over their shoulder. We may have been wearing clothes but every man in the room has been undressed by someone else’s eyes.

Four steps lead down into the dancefloor, the pantheon of twirling men suspended in bursts of coloured light. Somewhere in this red flashing darkness, I find JJ. I do not recall our activities in this hot, raucous vice-pit, but I know that my lips kissed more than the rim of a glass.

I do not remember leaving at 05:30. I do not remember what I said, or what I did. I do not remember the tram stop from where we walked to his apartment.

The front door closes. My memory restores itself here: inside, pulling off shirts and shoes, both his and mine.

He is twenty-four, his skin made of silk and miracles. Every part of his body toughened by exercise, and every inch of it bewitchingly smooth. Short wavy curls of chestnut hair perch at the top of his forehead and kiss the back of his head. He has thick dark eyebrows, held incuriously over large brown eyes. Clean-shaved, spotless, faultless, flawless. He is the boy made of hot pink velvet.

He falls asleep in my arms, drowsy with sex and cannabis. I comb his curls with my fingers, whispering thanks to whichever god it is that has led me along this sublime path lined with liquor and satin. The soft, regular hiss of JJ’s breath feels like a feather brushed across the back of my hands. I spread my palm over the firm grooves of his abdominals and hold him tight against me, inhaling the warm perfume of sweat, seduction and tobacco smoke.

I did not sleep for I was already dreaming.

***

He made me tea and scrambled eggs at noon. Outside it was bright and cloudless, and the day had begun to fester in his small cluttered apartment.

As the textures of my reality tingled with the promise of a hangover, JJ stood at the stove in his boxers like a diamond eclipsing the sun. The darkness of his eyes had sunk into the skin above his cheeks, purple pools of lost sleep. His expressions were quieter and tinted with weariness, his hair a sparkling wave of brown cotton deformed by my hands.

I wrote my name on a piece of paper before I left, and have heard nothing since.


Liam’s Biography

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Born in Western Australia, Liam is a final-year Creative Writing student at the University of East Anglia. On account of his German heritage, he wishes to settle in Berlin, a city that he reveres as the Capital of the World, and where many significant experiences in his life have been had. Besides travelling and writing prose fiction, Liam’s interests include photography, the films of Martin Scorsese, and minimalist composers such as Philip Glass and Steve Reich.