Fabian Black: The Christmas Wreath

Note: this short story is now included in the 'Bittersweet Seasons' anthology

A haunting short story

It's Christmas Eve and seventeen year old David Delaney has incurred the displeasure of his mentor and guide Patrick Bell by behaving irresponsibly, he did so deliberately, but the question is why?




The Bell End Café is situated at the very tip of Canal Street or Anal Street, as it’s more commonly known on account of it being the main street of a bustling city’s gay village. The most unusual feature of the café, the thing that sets it apart from the rest of the pubs, shops and bars that cluster it, is that it isn’t a café, not anymore. The Bell End ceased trading when one of the owners inherited a fortune from a distant relative and no longer needed to make a living from the sale of coffee, cake and sandwiches.

Michael End could have moved away when riches came his way, but he didn’t. He chose to stay at the café with his partner Patrick Bell. Their status changed from commercial renters of a grade-two listed building to its proud owners. They spent many happy hours together planning its conversion into a small but attractive residential property. What had been a Business with living accommodation became a full time home. They retained the painted wooden sign that bore the name of the café for sentiments sake, and because it made them smile. It still hangs above the front door, creaking a little when the wind blows.

Michael and Patrick had always loved the hustle and bustle of Canal Street and with wealth came time to enjoy it at their leisure. There was no more getting up at six in the morning and retiring after midnight, no more slaving all day just to turn a small profit. They walked hand in hand around the shops and lunched in the bars and bistros talking and laughing with friends. They made love in the afternoons, taking pleasure in each other’s bodies. On an evening they curled up together on the couch in their tiny front room and watched television or read to each other.

Happiness didn’t last. Michael broke Patrick’s heart by going away.

Patrick channelled his heartbreak into writing. He isn’t a brilliant writer and he knows it. He’ll never produce a gay ‘Gone With The Wind’ or write a homoerotic ‘War And Peace.’ He writes for his own pleasure producing erotic short stories, which occasionally get published. He also writes an advice column for a gay publication, trotting out words of wisdom on gay sex and relationships. He often wonders whether the advice he gives is heeded. People who seek advice are often loath to accept what is given. He knows for definite of one young man who recently disregarded his advice - one David Delaney.