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The Slave Show (30)

Life sometimes just flies by.  You think you’ve got all the time in the world, you think you’re in control, you think you’ve got it made:  our business continued to boom, Dan and I could easily have sold up and retired, but we enjoyed the life – enjoyed going to slave dealers, of showing the slaves (which continued to give us the opportunity to be together in bed), and Dan particularly liked being part of “the establishment” now.  He was one of the stewards and judges at Crufts, and each year enjoyed being there, immaculately turned out (as only a man who has the benefit of slaves to take care of his clothes can be), strutting around organising things generally.

Shane, recognising his footballing career was going to be short, had always taken an interest in “other things” and even in his early years had agreed to take part in quiz shows and “celebrity” games on TV, and wrote an “inside football” column for one of the Sunday papers.  So it was  almsot “obvious” that the BBC would choose him to front their sports coverage generally, and I don’t think he minded all that much when he had to hang up his boots as his new career provided all the excitement and travel that he liked – in one of our occasional “candid” conversations he told me that it was good to be part of the general cultural life of the country as when he and Jason had dinner parties he could now always get the “great and the good” to attend, which lightened the after dinner conversation a  bit.  “The trouble is, Steve”, he added, ” is that all Jason’s colleagues are just so fucking bright that they don’t understand even each other, so what chance do I have?”

“But you’re still happy with Jason?”

Shane gave me a very funny look.  “Steve, it must be difficult for you, I know, as you’ve never found a real soul mate.  So you probably just can’t understand how it is for Jason and me….”

I felt so sad as he said this as of course I had indeed  got Dan – well, I suppose, realistically, a share of Dan.  But if that was all there was on offer, that had to be enough.  And I wished that I could share with Shane how I felt, but there was just no way that I could shatter his illusions about his parents, was there?

Shane went on, though “It’s like Liam, I guess…. Who’d have thought that after all that screwing around he did when he was young that he’d turn into such a dull bloke?  That job as a corporate lawyer, the house in Weybridge and the commuting, the two kids….  He was always the wild one, and now he’s the pillar of respectability and, frankly, he’s boring.”

“I reckon you can’t judge people on the outside, Shane.  Who knows… He’s a pillar of rectitude as far as his colleagues and the world in  general is concerned, but at night, in bed…..”

We both laughed, and Jason went on “You know, Steve, I reckon you’re a bit like that – on the outside you’re the big, tough slave trainer, always fucking a new slave personally even though you could give that job to Andy now, and still sleeping around with the slaves generally….. I reckon you’re the opposite of Liam: on the inside, you’re conservative, and you’d really like just one partner to live with permanently….”

I had to turn away, as a huge wave of sadness swept over me.  Of course I wanted that, I wanted that more than anything on earth, but it just wasn’t available to me as Dan was already spoken for.  Still, later, when I thought about it, I reckoned I was at least lucky to have found the love of my life, even if I couldn’t have him totally.  Some men never even get that far.

It was only a couple of days after that conversation, though, that the lives of all of us were shattered. As luck(?) Would have it, Dan and I were at a big show at the NEC, and were lying in bed together when his mobile went off – his personal mobile, that is, the one that was only used by Julie and me, not the one he had for business.  It was very late, and he leaned over me, avoiding my hands as I playfully grabbed at his naked body, and muttered “Why’s Julie calling me now?”

As he answered the phone, though, he changed:  his body went rigid, and I heard his voice falter as he gave a series of “Yes”, and “Daniel” and “She is….” And then “Where?”  And “I’ll come right away….”

He got out of bed, and was almsot stumbling around. He was white as a sheet, and in response to my alarmed questions finally managed to stammer out that it had been the police:  Julie had been in an accident on the M11 and they had found his number on the frequent callers list on her phone.

We threw our clothes on, I stopped briefly at the slave trailer to tell Andy to take charge, and then we drove across country to Cambridge, where Dan had been told Julie had been taken.  I drove, as Dan was incapable of it, sitting there totally rigid and white as we raced through the night.  It was too late, though:  when we got to the hospital Shane and Jason were already there, and Shane threw his arms around his father and managed to get out “Dad, mom’s gone…..”, before both men broke down.  Jason took me aside, and muttered “Julie was coming home from a friend’s silver wedding…. There was an accident ahead, and she stopped.  But then some bastard in a heavy lorry simply failed to see it all, and ploughed into the back of the stationary traffic…. There’s about ten dead…. She wouldn’t have felt anything, they say…..”

I never want to live through anything like the next few weeks again.  Dan was in a very strange state – at one level, he was icily calm, doing some regular business, attending to all the formalities of Julie’s funeral, going to the inquest….  And at another level, he was wrecked – hurting inside so much that he couldn’t talk about anything other than “business” matters.  I wanted to hold him, to hug him, to tell him that it would all be all right in the end, that he’d get through this, and come out the other side…. But I couldn’t.  Every time I even tried to have a non-work conversation with him, he simply shut me up. And there was absolutely no way we could even think of being in bed together, where we might have been able to hold each other and talk about things like this.

The funeral was private – there was a lot of coverage in the papers because of the “carnage” on the motorway, and because of Shane’s fame, and some of them even published pictures of Dan, Shane, Jason, Liam and his wife, and me, just standing there outside the Chelmsford crematorium, but mercifully they didn’t intrude too much on our grief.  We took Julie’s ashes back to our place, and, watched by the slaves, who had all liked Julie, scattered them on the small hill where all those ears ago we’d buried Joe.

The house seemed empty when we went back to it. Although it was a cold, raw Essex winter day, the heating was blazing away and the temperature was normal, but it seemed cold and we all stood around so terribly conscious that Julie wasn’t with us.  We had a late lunch – and all of us looked stricken when Dan said that the last time we’d all sat down “as  a family” like this was only two months ago, at Christmas…. We all remembered how much Julie liked the traditional festivities, and how she relished being surrounded by “her boys” and Liam’s family.

Liam and his wife, and Shane and Jason, then had to leave to go home, and in the hall Shane gave me a hug.  “Look after dad, Steve…  He’s pretty cut up still.”

“You know I will.”

“Yes, Steve.  Ever since you were freed , you’ve been here for them, for mom and dad….  Call me if there’s anything you need…”

“I think we’ll manage – you and Jason have your own lives….”

We hugged again, they left, we heard the cars pulling out of the drive, and then we were alone.

Dan was just sitting in front of the fire, on the sofa, as he had done for so many years, and I went and sat by him.  I went to put my arm around his shoulder, but he shrugged me away.  “No, Steve…”

“Dan… Please…. We’re alone now….”

“No, Steve….  It isn’t right….”

I wouldn’t be put off, though, and in spite of his protestations and attempts to ward me off, I wrapped my arms around him and held him close.   “Dan, please…. You loved Julie, I know that.  But she’s gone, Dan – not in your heart, of course, you’ll always remember her.  I’ll always remember her.  But she’s not here now, Dan, and never will be again….”

“Steve, you don’t know what it’s like…  I can’t forget her, Steve….”

“Of course not!  Nether will I.  But now the funeral’s over, we’ve got to get back to normal…  You’ve been so strange these last weeks, which is to be expected, but you’ve got to pick your life up again….”

Dan just sat there, silent and unmoving in my arms.

“Dan…. You know I love you….  Let’s go upstairs, let’s…..”

“No, Steve!”

“Dan, why not?”

“I can’t, Steve.  Not here.  Not in this house, Julie’s house….”

“She’s not with us any more, Dan.  You know that. Now, come on, mate – let’s hold each other, let’s comfort each other….”

“No, Steve.  I still love Julie, you know.”

“And I still love you, Dan, just as I always have. Doesn’t that count for something?”

As always, though, whenever I mentioned love, Dan just shut up and closed himself off.  After a few minutes he said quietly “I’m OK, Steve, really I am.  You always think of yourself as the tough one, but I’m strong too, you know.  And I will get through this, but it will just take time – so give me time, Steve. I’m going to start working properly again tomorrow, and we’ll take it from there….”

He stood up then and went to the stairs, gesturing for me to stay behind.  I reckon I was wrong, then:  I should have followed him, should have held him, should have forced him to let me undress him, and make him hold me close all night, and I should have fucked him as we always did even if he wasn’t ready for it (I was, after all, physically stronger than him).  And if I had, things might have been very different – we might have started a totally new relationship then, one where we were together all the time.  But I didn’t – I watched him climb the stairs slowly, and with a heavy heart, and my body slumped in misery and defeat, I made my way over to my own place, stripped off, and just lay alone in my bed, totally unable to sleep.

The next morning we did indeed begin work again – there’s always more than enough to do, Enough to do, especially as we were in the middle of the show “season”, and Dan seemed to be functioning properly.  And, to my surprise, when he made reservations for the hotel for the Great North Show, he booked us only one room as usual.

Incredibly, the established pattern of our lives resumed – we worked together, ate together (all the food now being sent over from the slave kitchens), and then each night I went across the yard back to my own place.  But at shows, in our hotel, we slept together, and fucked, and everything was as before, except for Julie not being there.  At first I felt like shaking Dan, screaming at him that we could be properly together now, but somehow I never did.  I couldn’t even really talk to him about it,  as it somehow seemed to be so “normal” just to let things run their course and continue as usual.

Was I happy?  Yes, I suppose I was.  I mean, I had Dan, and I had our life together much as it always had been.  But what could it have been?  How much better could it have been if only I’d really had the courage to tackle Dan, to demand that we began to live together fully and completely.  Perhaps I was scared, though, that Dan was not ever going to make such a commitment to me, and worried that if I pushed him too hard I might lose that part of him that I did have.

What can I tell you about those few years?  Not much, really, as we had our “routine” of work, and attending shows, and buying and training slaves.  We watched Shane on the TV, we had occasional visits from he and Jason, and from Liam and his family.  We were all growing old together, I suppose, and, as it does, life’s pace seemed to slow.  We took pleasure from the familiar, rather than from the excitement of doing new things.  We had our family, we had our favourite slaves working for us – Andy and Reb now mostly ran the place themselves; and of course we had our memories, of Joe, Julie…. and of pleasures and excitements that we now hardly bothered with.  We were content with the safe familiarity of our house and our work, and as our fame had spread, we had no financial worries (and, indeed, I suppose we were actually rich, I suppose).

Fate has a way of intervening in these things, though.  And I was soon to discover that I was not going to continue to grow old gracefully with Dan at my side.

He’d been complaining about not feeling well generally, and of pains and aches in his belly, and at first I’d laughed and told him that it was because he never did enough exercise – I know I didn’t, but at least I still ran the course occasionally, whereas Dan sat in the office most of the time.  Finally, after it had been going on for weeks, I think I almost lost my temper and said I was sick and tired of listening to his moaning and whinging, and that he should go and see the doctor.

He finally did, but seemed strangely quiet that evening as we sat together watching Shane host a sports quiz programme, and now I see he deflected my questions about what was wrong with him in the way he did when he didn’t want to talk about things.  But after a second visit, a week later, he came home and called me into the office.

We’d always been able to separate our “private” and “business” lives, I suppose, and it was therefore interesting that Dan chose to talk to me there.  He began to discuss our partnership, about how well the business was doing, about our assets…. And then said, quietly, “Steve, I’ve decided to leave my half of the business to Shane and Liam.  It’s not that I don’t think you deserve it or anything, and we go back a long way, and without you there wouldn’t be a business, but family is family….”

His voice trailed off, and I nodded.  “Sure.  That’s no problem.  They’re going to get my half too, one day – I’ve always thought of them as kind of like my sons, too.  But that’s a long way off – and it’s not as if they need the money, is it?  Shane’s coining it in, and Liam is a partner in his firm now….”

“Steve, no, it isn’t.  It’s bad news, I’m afraid.  I waited until the tests came back….”

He said it so calmly, but at once my heart began to race.  He saw the look of alarm on my face, and went on quietly “Those pains…. It was cancer of the prostrate, and it’s spread into my pelvic bones. There’s no cure.”

“No!  Look, let’s sell everything, go to America, get the best people….”

“Steve, it’s no good.  There really is nothing they can do once it’s in your bones.  They can’t always control the pain all that well, either.  But it won’t be for long….”

He saw me looking horrified, and went on “I’ll be able to do Crufts, I think, but that’s it.”


“Yes, Steve.  I’m afraid that’s it.”

“No, you can’t leave me…. There must be something….”

He got up, and came around the desk and put his arms around me.  “Hey, big tough slaves don’t cry, remember?  And it’s me that’s leaving…..”

I was just sobbing.  I couldn’t bear it.  Dan was everything to me, I knew.  I’d had little enough of him during his life, really, and now there was going to be nothing.

He carried on comforting me.  “Come on, Steve… We all die eventually – it’s the only sure thing in this life.”

“…but not yet, Dan….!  I wanted more years together….”

“And sometimes fate plays unkind tricks on us, Steve. And you and me, well, we haven’t even got the heaven thing to look forward to, have we?  There’s no big place up in the clouds for you and me, as neither of us believe any of that mumbo-jumbo.  One day we’ll have to say goodbye, and that will be that….”

He hugged me again and went on “But , you know, I’m strangely calm now that I know what the problem with me was.  And I can face dying, but you’ve got to be strong for me, Steve.  I can’t do it without your support….”

It’s too painful, still, to recall all that conversation, and we talked for not much more than half an hour.  I wanted to tour the world, go off with Dan to all those places we’d never seen, spend every minute with him, but he refused.  He somehow knew that the next few months were going to be tough for him, that things would get worse and worse, and he wanted the dull familiarity of our routine, of our home, and our business, around him to help him through it.

As it so happens Crufts was a triumph for us that year, as one of our best young slaves was “best in show”.  I ought to have been delirious with happiness at winning there again, but seeing Dan walking so slowly, but with such dignity, towards the judges to collect the cup almost broke my heart.  And in bed together that night, Dan was so introspective.

We lay together, with my body spooned against his and my arm over him, the flat of my hand resting on his belly.  It was good that we weren’t facing each other, as I would have hated him to see the tears streaming down my face as he told me quietly “This is where it all began, really, isn’t it, Steve?  I wonder what our lives would have been like if I hadn’t thought I could win some money by borrowing you from the site and showing you?  I’d probably still be a project manager or something, although I might have retired by now, to a little house in a village somewhere…. And you… Well, although you were supremely fit and strong then, it’s a relatively short life for a construction slave as once you get into your forties you just can’t do all the stuff as well as a new, young slave…. So you’d have been sold off somewhere – to a factory, perhaps… Who knows!  But here we are….”

“Yes, here we are….”

“It’s been a good life, Steve.”

“It’s not over yet, Dan….”

“Steve, let’s not fool ourselves.  You saw me today – I don’t want to go on like this.  I want to go now, whilst I still have some dignity left.”

“No, Dan, don’t say things like that… I can’t bear it, I can’t lose you….”

“You were always strong, Steve, always brave, always in charge.  Now you’ve got to carry on like that. I’ve made my mind up, Steve.  This is the last night we’ll be together – I want to die at home, Steve, and my mind’s made up.  I’ve a few last things to do in the office when we get home, and then tomorrow night….”

I protested.  I begged him.  I told him we should see more doctors and get better pain control drugs.  And then finally he turned around in my arms, wiped his fingers tenderly down my cheeks, feeling my tears, and said “Steve, my mind’s made up.  Let’s to waste our last night together.  Let’s pretend it’s the first time, let’s pretend we are young and strong and happy again…..”

And we did.

I was numb on the drive back home the next day, unable to speak as Dan talked away on his mobile, making arrangements for this and that.  And when we got back he called all the slaves together and congratulated Andy and Reb on the superb work they’d done in preparing young Carl for winning best in show, and even declared a half day’s holiday.  It seemed almost surreal as he carried on working in the afternoon, putting his papers in final order, and when we sat down to dinner together it was all so normal that I thought he must have changed his mind.

We sat together on the sofa as we had done so many times before, and then Dan looked at me.  “You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, Steve.  You’ve given me more happiness than anyone I’ve ever known….”

“More even that Julie?”

Dan looked thoughtful.  “Oh Steve, does that still hurt?  No, not more than Julie, Steve, just different.  I’ve been blessed with having two people who loved me….”

He paused for a moment, as if about to say more, but then his expression changed.  “But now you’ve got to do one more thing for me, Steve…. I’ve taken all the stuff the vet leaves with us in case a slave gets injured on the course and put it into this one syringe.  But it needs to be into the muscle, Steve….  Help me…. Inject it, will you?”


“Steve, you love me, remember?  And I ask you to do one last thing, one thing that I can’t do myself….”

“No, Dan… I can’t…. I love you….”

“Then do it, Steve.”


Dan looked at me, seeing my whole body trembling with emotion.  He felt in his pocket and brought out my slave collar.  “On your knees, Steve!”

Almost in a trance, I did as he commanded, and felt once more the icy chill of the metal as he fastened it around my throat.  “Now, you fucking slave, do as you’re told!  Take that syringe, and inject me!”


Dan slapped my face.  “You’re a slave, Steve.  You always were.  A slave who loves his master, but one who can be disobedient.  Now, you fucking slave, just for once, do as you’re commanded….”

I was sobbing and crying almost uncontrollably now, but there was something compelling me to act.  I gently turned Dan half over, and plunged the syringe into the big muscles of his bum.

“Steve, thank you…”

“Oh Dan, if only you loved me as much as I loved you….”

“I do, Steve….”

“You never said….”

Dan’s life was ebbing away as I watched, and he mumbled “You were a fucking disobedient slave sometimes…. And I was always having to tell you how stupid you were.   Don’t you know anything, Steve….?  That when you really love someone, you don’t have to keep saying it…..?  Don’t you know that….”


But he was gone, a faint smile of contentment on his face.

I went through the next two weeks on autopilot.  I was functioning, but not reasoning.  I know I removed the syringe, and our faithful vet never queried the new order we placed for more strong painkillers..  There was no inquest, as Dan’s doctor simply signed the death certificate, knowing how far his cancer had progressed.

The funeral was even worse than Julie’s, and afterwards Shane and Liam wanted to come with me and scatter Dan’s ashes on the small hill where we’d left Julie.  But Jason, seeing my look of utter bleakness, whispered to them that he thought that I needed to do this alone, and after hugging me, they left me.

I wasn’t alone, though, as when I stood there, looking down on our life’s work, about to open the container and say a final goodbye to the man I’d loved for so many years, there was a faint rustle in the bushes and Andy appeared.   “I remember how I felt when we said a final goodbye to Joe…”, he murmured.  “…and I didn’t want you to be alone.”

“But I am alone, Andy, and I always will be from now on.”

“He was good to me, Steve.  Better than a slave has any right to expect.  But it was different for you, wasn’t it?  You and he…. Well…..  I know when I lost Joe, how I felt… And I think…”

“Don’t say it, Andy….”   I fumbled, and the last physical traces of Dan blew over the course that had so shaped our lives.

They found me in my bed the next morning, curled up, in a foetal position, unable to function.  Andy called the doctor, who said it was “overwork” and “stress” and “shock”, and gave me pills and stuff.  And for weeks Andy and Reb ran the business, whilst I sat by the fire with my memories.

It was Jason who saved me.  On one of their visits he shooed Shane out of the room, and came and sat by me. “I can only imagine what you’re going through….”

I remained silent.  “If I lost Shane, I’d be like you are.  And it’s worse, infinitely worse, for you, as no one ever really knew what Dan meant to you, did they?”


“You and he….  Were close….”

I looked at him.  “There’s no one left to hurt now, with Julie gone.  We weren’t just close, we were lovers.  I’ve lost….”

“Shhh…. I know, Steve.  And I think Shane does, too, although we’ve never discussed it.  But we could tell, by the way you looked at him, by the way you always listened to what he said….”

“I loved him, Jason, loved him more than I can say… I can’t get him out of my head….”

“…and you wouldn’t want to!  But you’ve got to find some way of carrying on living, Steve!  He wouldn’t want you to be this dreadfully unhappy and depressed, would he?”

“No, of course not.  The doctor wants me to take even more pills and stuff….”

“…and you don’t want to, do you?  That famous ‘Steve’ thing, always proud of your body, and the way you could make it do anything you wanted…”

“Jason, sometimes I think you ought to have been a psychiatrist, rather than a mathematician…”

“Well here’s what you do then, Steve.  Write it all down!  Sit there and write the story of your life with Dan.  Write about the life you had together.  Write about the love you had….”

“But we weren’t like you and Shane, or Andy and Joe, or….”

“Love isn’t like that, Steve.  It’s different for everyone.  Write it all down, and you’ll see.  Write it all down, and then read it again and treasure those years.  Write it all down, and you’ll begin to get better.”

So I did.

And this is it.

– The end –

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