Smoke Gets In Your Eyes


Niel dreams of standing up against his father.

He's ten years old and just come home from school, wearing a shit-eating grin on his face because he's won an important game. His captain even says that – if he goes on like this – he might get the MVP of the year award. It's usually just a crummy trophy and fish and chips at some inexpensive diner, but it's still an honour: legends have started out this way, and Niel plans to rise all the way to the top.

And that's why he's going to tell Daddy about it today. He wants to hear those words: "I'm proud of you."

And maybe: "You're everything a father could ever want in a son."

But that never happens, because Daddy's drunk like a fish, his cheap brand of Polish vodka all over the dining table. He's a fucking mess: two buttons of his shirt already undone, his cuffs rolled up and his eyes bleary, bloodshot.

Niel can smell the alcohol on his breath from a mile away.

But he still steps closer, hoping. "Dad, I wanted to tell you – "

His father grabs the hem of his shirt. "What do you want?"

Niel's grin fades. He takes a step back, nearly colliding with the bookshelf that's stacked with nothing but unread volumes of classical literature, collecting dust.

"I said, what do you want?!"

As always, Niel sees the strike coming seconds before it connects, but that does nothing to stop the pain as he topples to the floor.

And it hurts, and it never ends. His father hits him again, and again, so hard that he leaves an imprint on Niel's cheek – of his wedding band, the one he's not taken off because it cost a bloody fortune and that bitch of a mother of yours would haunt me from beyond the grave if I ever stopped wearing it.

Niel lets out a sob, and his grabs him by the hem of his shirt, shaking him like a rag doll before shoving him aside. "Get out of my sight, you little twat."

Niel locks himself in his bedroom, with nothing but the sound of his own sobs to console himself.

A week later, he quits playing football.

Niel dreams of shooting his father.

He's fifteen, and has just discovered the beauty of his gender: the tight feeling he gets in his trousers when he sees toned muscles and lithe torsos, the strange need he feels building up inside of him when Jonathan Six-Pack from Class D smiles at him, winking when they're in the shower stalls after gym class, standing naked next to each other –

(He fantasizes about kissing Jonathan and licking off the water dripping down his chest. He'll go lower then, to his navel, and then to his groin, until he's face to face with his cock, already hard and just waiting for him to – )

He buys himself a magazine, from one of those forbidden stores (a mate told him where). But it's not one filled with ladies, but men: men with beards, men without them; bulky men with broad shoulders and huge cocks, feminine ones with slim builds and tight arses to die for.

Niel lets out a heavy breath. He flips through the pages in his bedroom, feeling the front of his trousers turn a little tighter. His breath comes out in hot puffs, and his cheeks glow with excitement.

He pushes a hand down his trousers, thinking of Jonathan, of his gym teacher, of the cute twink staring back at him from the page of the magazine he's got open, of every cute boy or man he's ever met.

His father throws open the door.

"…You –" He's so red in the face, so angry that he can't seem to find words anymore. Niel's father grabs him and yanks him up by his hair, before kicking him in the stomach, once. And again.

And then another time.

Over and over.

Niel doesn't cry out. He doesn't make a sound. He just allows himself to be wrapped up in the nothingness of this daze, letting it comfort him, pretending he's not here while his father continues bearing down on him.

He's not here, not even when his father brings out the belt, not even when blood trickles down his forehead, forcing his right eye shut.

He doesn't exist.

(In a year, he'll turn sixteen, and that's when he'll be free.)

Niel dreams of buying a gun: one of those German ones, so he can blast everything to bits and pieces.

This is his last day in this fucking shithole, so he brings Robert Blue-Eyes, a random bloke he picked up at a bar, back home with him. They're making out the moment they step into the house, laughing while stumbling over antique furniture, and making faces at portraits of Niel's grandfather (fucking bastard had a stick shoved up his arse even farther than his father does now).

Robert pulls away, and whistles. "Impressive."

Niel chuckles, and leads him to the master bedroom, a holy sanctuary he's not supposed to enter.

"Let's do it here. It's my father's bedroom."

Robert raises an eyebrow. "He won't mind?"

Niel snorts, giving Robert an 'oh please' look. "I don't give a shit." In fact, he'd burn the place down if he could, but he doesn't say that aloud.

"Got a grudge against your old man, eh mate?" Robert laughs.

Niel doesn't answer that. He just grins before he going down on his knees, tugging Robert's zipper down with his teeth.

"I'm going to suck you off right here," he whispers, "and then fuck you in my father's bed."

Niel is a man of his word.

It's a blur after that. It's Robert's cock in his mouth, pulsing against the back of Niel's throat just before he spills. It's Robert on his hands and knees, his tight ass waiting for Niel. It's him finally positioning himself, prodding against Robert's entrance, thinking of Daddy dearest.

(He's not the only manwhore here: he knows all about the secretaries Daddy's fucked, even when Mum was groggy from the chemo.)

When Robert leaves, Niel basks in the smell of sex, sweat and gin. He lights himself another cigarette as he pulls his jeans up, and he smirks. He wishes there was a video camera installed in this room, just so he can raise his head, stare right at the lens, and show his father what he really thinks of him.

He imagines his father's face as he closes the door behind him. He can see the old man's disgust, the horror from having his precious bed dirtied with the seed of sin and sodomy. Niel grins, because this is his parting gift, because Daddy dearest was such a good and kind father to him.

He hopes the bastard dies of a heart attack.

Niel wishes he could just forget his father.

He's nineteen. He's just met the love of his life, or better said, he's met a guy who isn't just the shag of the night or a random fuck for three weeks and a half when he's got nothing but sex to pass the time with, because he's run out of clients to sell drugs to.

No, this here is the real thing, and Alex is better than Niel deserves.

"Tell me about your father," Alex says, curling up next to him, his eyes shining with amusement. "You never talk about him. Just your mum."

Niel sighs, and takes a drag of his cigarette. A plume of smoke drifts upwards, and he follows it with his eyes until it vanishes. "Nothing to talk about."

He doesn't want to tell Alex that he wasn't always as good at brawls as he is now. That there was a time when he used to hide in his bedroom as a little boy because he was afraid of his father's belt.

He's not a wimp, after all. He is Alex's hero.

"Hey – "Alex shifts, and straddles Niel's hips. "You don't have to." He licks the shell of Niel's ear. "I'm here with you now. Put everything behind you."

And Niel does, his eyelids fluttering shut as he runs his hands through Alex's soft hair and pulls him close. He smells like soap and mint gum, his skin feels unmarred and his mouth is hot.

His story has a happy ending. He'll never have to go back to being that angry, sad, scared little boy again.

Niel no longer has any reason to dream.

Happy endings don't exist after all. At some point or the other, life fucks you over until you've got nothing left but a five-pound note to your name.

Six years later, he's standing in a deserted alley that reeks of piss, holding a crumpled newspaper in his hand. His shoulders begin to shake.

The headline reads: 65-year-old Millionaire Philanthropist Perishes in Fire. Below it: Heir missing for nearly ten years. And in the tiny blocks of print he only skims: family fortune something-something, sum of so-and-so much now kept in the bank until the heir shows up, et cetera.

"Goddammit." Niel grits his teeth. "Fucking hell."

And then he laughs and laughs.

"Fucking asshole. You… weren't supposed to go like this."

Niel doesn't understand it, but he's crying. Or he's laughing and crying. Maybe he's dying. It doesn't fucking matter, all he knows is that he feels sick, and that if he doesn't go and get blasted right now right now, he'll probably shove a gun down his throat.

Maybe it would be better that way. With Alex (no longer the man he used to be, all drugged up and pathetic now) and his entire gang (shot down, painted the walls red) gone, he's got nothing to live for anymore. And with his father now rotting in the deepest pits of Hell, he's got no one to spite.

Fucking hell.

Niel chuckles again, and lights himself a cigarette. It's his last one. He gazes up at the night sky and sees only darkness staring back at him, a few stars here and there glowing like fat fireflies.

He remembers another night like this, when he was just as alone and just as hopeless. He was a sixteen-year-old runaway then, stupid, with nothing but condoms in pockets. He could've died back then, too, Wouldn't have been hard; maybe he should have.

But he hadn't. Somehow he'd managed to pull himself together, again and again, struggled to survive because it's better being a street rat than being roadkill.

If there's one thing Daddy taught him, it's how to suck it up (hah) and move on. So no matter how often he fucks up, no matter how many times he gets screwed over and blindsided and stabbed in the back by people he'd trusted once upon a time, Niel decides he won't give up. Because he knows that that bastard is still watching him from Hell, and that he's still judging and sneering at everything Niel does.

So Niel won't disappoint. He'll become twice the man Daddy was.

He'll give him one hell of a show.

Notes: For the May 2014 Writing Challenge Contest: "Some people burn bridges running from monsters. (And the flames, well, they're pretty too.)"