Sewn Together

Robert Astrid collected a roll of sellotape, a scalpel and all the things that were needed and moved them into the cluttered back room that doubled as his artist’s studio. On a desk piled high with magazine cuttings he was using to make a collage of an East End street scene, he placed two cameras - one Polaroid, one digital, and a large pair of scissors. He returned through the kitchen to the bedroom and struggled with the battered trunk. It was too heavy to lift, so he took the handle at one end and dragged it along the floor until he reached the gripper rod between the kitchen and the back room, at which, it lifted frayed, mildewed carpet, unhousing a family of silverfish. “Bloody things.” He stamped on them and tugged the man-size trunk into the studio and set it down at the edge of the room. Then he emptied its contents onto the floor: props, costumes, toys, a collection of DVDs, a leather harness, lubricant. From the DVDs he chose one that would set the tone for the night.


Outside, on the opposite side of the street, wearing his favourite black leather jacket, Jonathan was looking up at Robert’s first floor window. The flat in Goswell Dwellings was on a narrow street bordering a typical East-End square. It adjoined a converted pub, which had, when Jonathan visited ten years ago, been home to an array of gangsters, pimps and filth, with half of them staggering out on to the street. To think he used to find all this charming. Hardly where you’d expect a famous artist to live. Though, even now, with the pub sign painted over and its notorious street-peddlers gone, Old Shoreditch Road had not lost its otherworldly appeal to him.

The anticipation of seeing Robert again had sharpened his senses. Jonathan felt his heartbeat quicken beneath the fabric of his shirt. He remembered the first time he got out of a black cab on this street, the prostitute with the pink nylon wig, who always stood on the pub corner, and the sound of East-End lads singing along to karaoke tracks inside. For a second, the pounding in his chest almost became too much and he thought of turning back, but these memories triggered his addictive need to take one more look at what had been haunting him. He inhaled deeply though his nostrils and took a step towards across the road. Images from the past flooded his head.

He wished his life could be less complicated. He wanted it to be just him and his wife, Maxine; the life they shared, the meals they cooked together, holidays, family. That was what mattered to him. Only he wasn’t free to enjoy it. He knew he had to tear himself away from what he had been tethered to all this time. It didn’t feel right anymore. He just had to come just one more time. To buy another moment together, he’d lied to Robert, lied to himself even, that everything was the same; that they could continue where they left off, before all the trouble started.

To read the complete story please follow the link to: Polari Magazine


illustration - Bryon Fear