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  • Ronnie took solace
    in a separate existence,
    that would not be denied
    despite all his resistance.
    He'd repress his real self,
    let it twist up inside,
    until shamed and frustrated
    become one with the night.
    Swigging bottles of vodka,
    seeking out seedy nooks,
    he'd seek comfort in strangers
    and quick, desperate fucks.

    If he'd had friends who'd accept him,
    or a father that could,
    he'd be holding hands proudly
    in his own neighbourhood
    with the man of his dreams.
    He would curl up at night,
    held tight in strong arms
    until the morn's early light.
    Then they would whip up full breakfasts,
    let the wicked aromas
    make homes of their houses,
    make lovers of loners,
    make families of freaks,
    be accepted not feared,
    and feel safe from those judgements,
    could be proud to be queers.

    As it was those that loved him
    would not understand,
    made jokes about homos
    with limp-wristed hands.
    Their knowledge would change him,
    make him less than he is,
    would forget to invite him
    to nights out on the piss.
    But despite that he loved them,
    so kept up the pretence,
    and made jokes about homos,
    at his own damned expense.

    It was a culture of judgements
    which they'd grown in together.
    They'd learned hate from a young age,
    as mundane as bad weather,
    and as frequently occurring,
    in the streets of their town,
    as teens bearing children
    and hard drugs handed round.

    But one night feeling lonely,
    sick of hating himself,
    he went out on Canal Street
    for that evening he felt
    like he needed to let go
    and let loose just this night,
    couldn't hide any more,
    saw a chance that he might
    find a world that could love him
    for the real man he was
    not to cower in corners
    of clubs and/or bars.

    That night he met Daniel
    and they chatted together
    about real things that mattered,
    not the mortgage or weather.
    Ronnie instantly liked him,
    found a spirit so kindred
    that he wanted to take
    Daniel home to his bed
    and continue the discussion,
    or do other things instead.

    One last dance to the three Yeahs,
    then they took to the streets.
    Holding hands they meandered
    with the world at their feet.
    Ron felt free as a bird then,
    forgot about Jack
    who he'd loved since fourteen
    he who'd never love him back.
    And as Ron looked into Dan's eyes
    he could no longer resist
    and leaned in for a long
    sweet and lingering kiss.
    Held the sharp taste of apples
    and Red Bull and hock,
    on his tongue like a key
    to the life he'd unlock,
    full of wonder and beauty
    that he'd never known,
    forgot all else existed
    til the first rock was thrown...

    It bruised Ronnie's shoulder
    then he saw the aggressors,
    who were hurling projectiles
    as their prey stood defenceless.
    “Oy faggots,” they barked
    and they started to run
    towards Daniel and Ronnie.

    One carried a gun.
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