Chapter 1: (Part One)
Vyvyan yawned and wiped his eyes before adding more ketchup to his cornflakes. It was about twelve o’clock by his estimate (he might have been mistaken - he never did get the hang of telling time) which was earlier than usual, but not early enough. He’d missed his morning lecture. Not that it mattered - despite what his housemates might’ve thought, he was fairly good at his course work. In fact, his lecturers were often surprised by just how good Vyvyan was, and weren’t opposed to making allowances for him. True, his bedside manner left a lot to be desired, but his knowledge, skill and accuracy all had the makings of a brilliant doctor. Perhaps even a surgeon. And as long as he did the assignments and showed up for the labs, he reckoned he was alright. It was just him down for breakfast that morning; Mike was already off at the Kebab, and Neil was out in the garden. Vyv wasn’t quite sure where Rick was. Still in bed, probably. That was where he’d left him.
Vyv shoveled another mouthful of cornflakes into his gob and took a moment to appreciate the solitude - something he never seemed to get enough of lately. It felt like everywhere he turned, Rick was there. Spotty prick’d probably follow him into the lavvy if he didn’t always manage to shut the door in time.
Vyv would’ve been lying if he said he didn’t like it. He loved that Rick wanted to spend time with him. Loved that he wouldn’t leave him alone. And not just because it could - if Vyv played his cards right - lead to a good shag if not a quick grope, though that was always appreciated. It was also nice to have the company. Someone who would stop and listen when he had something to say, and do it out of genuine love and affection rather than fear. He liked that Rick was always there to gel the back of his mohawk into place or straighten the studs on his vest. The poet had once even bent down to retie Vyv’s shoes, lest he trip while chasing Neil with a pickaxe down the stairs. It was these little things that helped their relationship tick along after all this time. They rarely fought in the proper sense. They had scraps, of course, but not to the same violent intensity that had defined their tumultuous “friendship”, and they mostly led to sex. There were also occasional tiffs over minor issues; who got control of the television remote, for example. But there was no real drama . No proper screaming matches about making eyes at some bloke in the pub or forgetting to call when one of them came home late. Honestly, neither of them seemed to have the time, patience, or the attention span to carry an argument on for longer than the three-minute mark, anyway. Really, they were becoming quite horribly domestic. Boring. Vyv should’ve hated it.
Instead, he bloody loved it. He grinned into his cornflakes and resisted the urge to crawl back into bed. No, the silence was good for the minute. A nice break from Rick’s constant, furious screeching. A break from Trotsky, Marx and bloody Cliff Richard. He’d earned one, hadn’t he? They’d been joined at the hip for months! But just as he was about to sink back into the quiet and begin to truly appreciate it, he heard a familiar shriek from somewhere overhead, followed by the sound of Rick’s socked feet banging on the stairs.
“Right!” He yelled, “Where are they? What have you done with them, you bastard!”
“Done with what?” Vyv asked. Rick came over to the table in his bathrobe, hands on his hips.
“You know perfectly well what!” He snapped. This was true, but Vyvyan shrugged anyway.
“Sorry. Haven’t the foggiest.”
“My Cliff Richard albums! Come on, come on! Where are they?”
“Oh, those . Yes, um, I’m afraid I took them to the tip, Rick.”
“You did what? ”
Hmm. Perhaps Vyvyan was being a little presumptuous when he said they hardly ever argued. He could certainly feel a storm brewing.
“I took them, to the tip.” Vyv replied, “Oh, don’t bloody look at me like that! I got sick of listening to them all the bloody time! Young ones this, summer holiday that! Honestly Rick, it’s nauseating! I dunno why I didn’t do it sooner!”
“Vyvyan, it took me years to collect all those albums!”
“Well, now you can collect them all again, can’t you? Think how much fun you’ll have.”
“I can’t believe you! You utter bastard! After everything I’ve done for you!”
“Oh, after everything I’ve done for you!” Vyv mimicked, “God, you’re such a whiny girl . They’re only vinyls, Rick. Cliff Richard vinyls, at that. They’re ten a bloody penny at every charity shop in London!”
“That’s not the point!”
“Look, is all this yelling gonna lead to a shag? Cause Bastard Squad’s on in ten, and I’d quite like to watch it.”
“Oh, don’t you worry about that , matey. Your program won’t be interrupted by us shagging any time soon, let me assure you!” Rick flipped his boyfriend the V’s and stomped back up the stairs. He was blind blimmin’ furious - more upset than he was willing to let on - but he absolutely wasn’t about to let Vyv see him cry. Not twice in a week, anyway. Certainly not over Cliff Richard albums. Vyv watched him go, briefly, then returned to his cornflakes. If Rick was going to sulk about it, and he definitely wasn’t going to get a shag, then he really would rather watch Bastard Squad.
“What a poof.” He muttered. It was Rick’s fault, really. Rick’s fault for playing the bloody things non-stop at all hours, constantly repeating the same singles on a loop until Vyv had to puncture his eardrums with Neil’s knitting needles just to keep himself sane. What was the bloody fascination with Cliff Richard, anyhow? It seemed to have worsened in the past year or so, becoming more like an obsessive fixation than a genuine appreciation for the music. There was a time when Rick was quite happy to sit and listen to Dexys, or even Echo and the Bunnymen, but Vyv hadn’t heard him put one of those albums on in months. What, did he fancy Cliff or something? Or was it just that Rick had always been rather sheltered, and had never properly heard anything of value, apart from the occasional music act that set themselves up in the drawing-room? Could his taste in music be changed? Rectified? Altered into something more palatable? Vyv smiled at the thought.
“Are you still pissy, prick?” Vyv called through Rick’s closed bedroom door. The response came almost instantly, so loud and shrill that Vyv had to cover his ears to try and preserve what was left of his hearing.
“Yes I bloody well am! I can’t believe you did that, Vyvyan! It's absolutely inexcusable!”
“Look, just come out here, would you? I’ve got something to show you.”
“No!” Rick paused, “...What is it?”
“Come out and see.”
Rick opened the door a crack - he must have been standing behind it - and peered out at Vyvyan suspiciously.
“I don’t see anything.”
“It’s in my room.” Vyv held out his hand, coaxing Rick the way one might coax a frightened animal. Rick had to admit the punk had piqued his interest - neither of them had been in Vyv’s room in months. But he knew better than to blindly trust Vyvyvan, especially after all they’d been through.
“...Is just some sort of trick to get in my pants, Vyvyan?”
“No, it’s a trick to get you out of them. What would I want to get in your pants for? They wouldn’t bloody fit.”
“Vyvyan! Be serious!”
“No! Now get your girly bottom into my bedroom before I knock you out and drag you in there myself!”
Rick chose the lesser of two evils. He shuffled out of his room and followed Vyvyan across the hall, head down, shoulders slumped. Vyv opened the door for him, (surprisingly considerate) gave him a hard shove when he moved too slow (less considerate but far more Vyvyan-like) and kicked his way over to the desk in the far corner of the room. Rick watched with mild curiosity as Vyvyan got down on all fours and started to rummage through the piles of clothes, vodka bottles and various pieces of medical equipment. Finally, he emerged with a battered old milk crate full of records. He grinned at Rick, set it down on a relatively clean patch of carpet, and gestured for the poet to come join him on the floor.
“Right.” Vyv said, “ This , is real music. You can borrow them for a bit, if you want. Gives you something to listen to while you’re replacing all your poofy Cliff Richard albums.”
Rick snorted, “I don’t want any of your ghastly metal music, thank you Vyvyan. I’d rather listen to a live recording of Margret Thatcher, or a deluxe Leonard Cohen album, or Genesis, or-”
“Fine! I’ll take them back then!” Vyv reached for the milk crate but Rick snatched it first, looking much more eager than he’d intended.
“No, no. I suppose it gives me something to do, doesn’t it? I’ll just...I’ll just have a quick flip through, see if there’s anything that takes my fancy.”
“Please yourself.” Vyv shrugged. Rick rocked back on his heels and sat, knees bent, legs tucked underneath him, on the floor next to the punk. He thumbed through the records with caution, under the assumption that Vyv would murder him if anything happened to his vinyls. A hypocritical assumption, certainly, and an entirely incorrect one. Vyv wouldn’t have killed him, just started one hell of a fight.
“Black Flag, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, the Ramones - are all of these punk?”
“Course! What did you think they’d be? Classical? Easy listening? ”
“Well, I don’t know!” Rick snapped, “You hardly ever talk about the music you like!”
“I do, you just don’t bloody listen.”
Rick wanted to say that Vyvyan definitely didn’t talk about it, because he was very much in the habit of hanging off the punk’s every word, but he kept quiet. He continued to flip through Vyv’s records, wading through violent cover art and aggressive titles, wondering not for the first time why Vyvyan wanted to listen to anything so blimmin’ angry . He flipped past a particularly distasteful album that depicted the queen with a safety pin through her nose, and was about to give up altogether when one record caught his eye. The album was entirely blank - no name, no title - just a white brick wall on both sides of the sleeve. It was the oddest thing Rick had ever seen. How were you supposed to know if you wanted to listen to it if you didn’t even know who it was by? It felt like a conspiracy, somehow. A secret he wanted to be let in on.
“What’s this?” He lifted it out of the crate and held it up for Vyv’s inspection. The punk stiffened.
“Oh. Erm...that’s the Wall.”
“The Wall? Never heard of them. That’s an odd name for a band, isn’t it?”
“No, poof. The album’s called the Wall. Band’s Pink Floyd.”
“Oh. Oh...I have heard of them. I didn’t know they were punk.”
“Ah, yes. Well, they’re not, really. They’re more...rock. Erm...experimental? Sort of, psychedelic-”
“Psychodelic? You mean like the shite Neil listens to?”
“No! Well, maybe he does. I dunno! It’s not...look, just put it back, alright? You wouldn’t like it.”
“Can I borrow it?”
“Why do you wanna borrow it? I just said you wouldn’t bloody like it!”
“Which is why I want to borrow it. And you said it wasn’t punk, didn’t you? So it can’t be completely awful.”
“...Yeah. I spose you can borrow it. For a bit.”
“Can I go listen to it now?”
“I spose.” Vyv replied, “Make a nice change from Listen to Cliff! ”
Rick ignored him, even though Listen to Cliff was one of his all-time favourite records, “Do you want to come listen to it with me?”
“...Yeah, alright. But not if you’re gonna complain and talk over it the whole bloody time!”
“I’ll be quiet.” Rick said, “...But only if it’s not completely blimmin’ terrible.”
“It isn’t.” Vyv replied, though Rick still looked doubtful. They got up in sync and walked across the hall together, shoulder to shoulder, record pressed between them.
Hello hello! I told you I'd get there eventually, lmao. And yes, before you ask, I absolutely did write an individual drabble for every single song on this album. Told you I have no life.
Here are some trigger warnings: Abuse (emotional and physical) mentions of suicide, discussions of hospitalisation, descriptions of thought processes immediately prior to suicide, period typical slurs, general depressing content. This is the Wall, after all. And it is Vyvyan Basterd. And it is me, the lord of angsty content.
Still, hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
In the flesh?
So ya, thought ya, might like to go to the show.
To feel the warm thrill of confusion.
That space cadet glow.
Well, there was one good thing about listening to the Wall with Rick - for once, the twat actually shut up and listened. And not just out of politeness, either. Obviously, something about the abum, or maybe Vyv’s reaction to it, had inspired him or captivated him in some way. From the first track he was attentive, genuinely interested. He sat on the floor with his ear glued to the turntable, while Vyv sprawled out on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Christ . He’d forgotten how good this album was. From the first track he could feel the adrenaline in his veins, the excitement and passion in his chest. Yeah, he was a punk, and he still bloody loved the pistols and the ramones. That music spoke to him, understood him, but this...this was on another level. No album had ever outlined what he was feeling as clearly and articulately as the Wall had. Which is why he was pleasantly surprised when Rick piped up at the end of part one, his voice soft and conspiratorial.
“This reminds me of you.” He whispered.
Tell me is something eluding you, sunshine?
Is this not what you expected to see?
“Ay?” Vyv replied, “How’d you mean?”
“About, having to look through his disguise to find out what’s underneath. It’s a bit like you, and how you’re different from how everybody sees you.”
Vyv snorted, “Shut up, poof.”
But he was sort of touched, in a way. Touched that Rick had bothered to look closer, he supposed. God knew nobody else ever had.
The Thin Ice
Don’t be surprised when a crack in the ice
Appears under your feet
You slip out of your depth and out of your mind
With your fear flowing out behind you
As you claw the thin ice.
Thin Ice. Hmph. What did Roger bloody Waters know about it? Vyv had been skating on thin ice for most of his bloody life. He’d like to have known what Waters would’ve thought about Vyvyan’s childhood, if he thought his was so bad. At least he had a home. Had a bloody mother who cared! Waters was probably just another privileged little swot, like...well. Like Rick.
...Like Rick, who had gone all quiet again, listening to every lyric as if it were gospel. Who often went out of his way to please Vyvyan, and make him feel loved. Who somehow understood, despite never having experienced the worst of it himself.
...Like Rick, who sometimes let slip some bizarre little anecdote about his supposedly privileged childhood - an anecdote that often suggested things weren’t as rosy and carefree as Rick wanted them to appear. Rick, who had perhaps...had perhaps done a bit of skating himself, whether he wanted to admit it or not.
Hmph. Maybe...Maybe Waters had known something about it after all.
Another Brick in the Wall (Part 1)
Daddy's flown across the ocean
Leaving just a memory
The snapshot in the family album
Daddy, what else did you leave for me?
“You never knew your father, did you Vyv?”
“Hmm.” Rick replied, “...I don’t know that I ever knew mine either, really. Not properly, anyway.”
“At least he was there.” Vyv snapped. Rick shrugged.
“...Not exactly.” He acknowledged, but - surprisingly - would say no more.
Daddy, what'd'ja leave behind for me?
All in all it was just a brick in the wall
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
When we grew up and went to school there were certain teachers who would
Hurt the children any way they could
By pouring their derision upon anything we did
Exposing every weakness, however carefully hidden by the kids
But in the town it was well known when they got home at night,
Their fat and psychopathic wives would thrash them
Within inches of their lives...
“...I never thought of it like that.” Rick muttered.
“The teachers. That maybe they were having a hard time of it at home.”
“The one’s in the song, Vyvyan! Aren’t you paying attention?”
“I know that . You just made it sound like you had trouble with the teachers at school.” Vyv said, “Not that I care . I just wondered what you were running your girly mouth about this time.”
“...I suppose it doesn’t matter.”
“Probably not.” Vyv agreed, “Are you gonna talk all the way through this bloody album?”
“ I might .” Rick sneered.
“Hmph.” Vyv replied. But secretly...well. Secretly he was more than a little bit pleased.
Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)
We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
“I’ve heard this one before.” Rick said.
“Then you don’t have to put forward any of your poofy running commentary.”
“Oh, charming .” Rick snapped, “I’ve never heard it properly, you know. It’s very anarchic, isn’t it?”
“...It reminds me of when I went to school.” Rick sniffed. Then sniffed again. Vyv frowned...was he?
If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding
How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?
“...I didn’t know you were gonna cry about it.” Vyv muttered.
“It just...I just...Ruddy flip. It’s stupid, Vyvyan. I’m sorry.”
It was stupid, but Vyv felt compelled to say something anyway, to try and...not necessarily get his mind off it, but to help in some way. And Rick was always on about expressing feelings, wasn’t he? He probably wanted to talk about it, even if Vyvyan wouldn’t have.
“...You get beat up a lot at boarding school, Rick?”
Rick hesitated, then nodded.
“Hmph. Explains a lot, doesn’t it? Still, I spose you probably deserved it. You’re an annoying bastard at the best of times. If I had to board with you, I’d probably give you a good thumping every so often.”
“You do board with me, Vyvyan.”
“And I give you a good thumping, don’t I? Besides, the shagging makes it easier.”
“Yes, well. That’s hardly relevant, is it, Vyvyan? Anyway, it wasn’t the students that were the problem. They couldn’t get away with it, you see. But the teachers...” Rick shuffled over to the bed and put his hands on the quilt - palms down - for Vyvyan’s inspection. There were faint, criss-crossed scars across his knuckles. Vyv wondered why he’d never noticed them before.
“Willow switch.” Rick clarified. Vyv grabbed hold of the poet’s hand and squinted, running his thumb over some of the more defined cuts.
“Sloppy work.” He said, “Did these even bleed, poof? If I’d done it, you still wouldn’t be able to bend your fingers!”
“Oh, shut up! The least you could do is offer me a bit of sympathy!”
Vyv shrugged, “Well, you probably still had it coming. What did they get you for, then? Wanking in the lavvy between classes?”
“I was only six , Vyvyan. And they did bleed, actually. I had to have stitches. They’ve just, faded a bit now, that’s all.”
Well, that brought Vyv up short.
“Yes, six. And not that it matters , but I got the switch for crying too much. I was homesick.”
Vyv tried to imagine Rick as a small, snotty six-year-old. Perhaps in a uniform that was a bit too big. Frightened and crying, because he wanted to go home. It broke his heart. Vyv might’ve fit the definition of a psychopath, but beating a crying child - especially to the point of stitches - was a line crossed, even for him. His gaze softened.
“ What ?”
“I’m sorry. For taking the piss. Shouldn’t have. You erm...you don’t...you didn’t...well. They were bastards. For...for doing that to you.”
“...you think so?”
“Yeah. Erm… I would’ve...stood up for you. If I’d been there.” He lied.
“...Yeah.” He climbed down off the bed and onto the floor to put his arm around Rick’s shoulders. Rick leaned in and rested his head on the punks chest. It was...nice. Nicer than Vyv wanted to admit.
Hush now baby don't you cry
Mama's gonna make all of your
Nightmares come true
Mama's gonna put all of her fears into you
Mama's gonna keep you right here
Under her wing
she won't let you fly but she might let you sing
Mama will keep baby cosy and warm
Of course Mama's gonna help build the wall
“...Can we skip this one, Vyv?”
“Skip it. Can we skip it?” Vyv leaned across to look at Rick’s face. He’d been too caught up in his own dark memories to pay the anarchist much attention. He shook off the prickly feeling on the back of his neck and turned his attention to his boyfriend. It took him a minute to realise Rick was crying, again .
“Bloody hell, poof! Now what?”
“It’s too...It...It makes too much...it’s too real, Vyv! My mother...she...she used to, and I loved her, but...But…” He sniffled and buried his face in the punk’s chest.
“Alright, alright. Jesus.” He picked up the needle and dropped it again with skilled expertise, landing it exactly where Mother ended and the next track began.
Goodbye Blue Sky
“...I used to listen to that track - mother - to erm...to try and...feel better about me mum.” Vyv muttered. He didn’t like opening up - wasn’t very good at it, really - but something about the album, or possibly Rick crying about the album - seemed to draw it out of him.
“Did it work?”
“Not really. See...she wasn’t...she wasn’t very attentive. So the album just sort of...made me angrier. I wished I had a mother like Pink’s.”
“It isn’t much fun.” Rick replied, “They always make you feel helpless, like you can’t do anything right.”
Hmph. The same way Vyv’s neglectful mother had made him feel.
Did you see the frightened ones?
Did you hear the falling bombs?
The flames are all long gone, but the pain lingers on
“...Did Pink’s father die in a war?” Rick asked.
“...Oh.” The poet hesitated, as if trying to find the words, “...Mine died when I was quite young.”
“No he didn’t. He died in a car crash, didn’t he? Same as your mother.”
“No, ah. Hmm… that...was my stepfather.”
“You never told me that.”
“Well, it hardly seemed very important. He died when I was four. Mummy remarried when I was about five or six. I don’t remember anything different. And my stepfather was...good to me. Mostly.”
“What do you mean, mostly?”
“Ssh, Vyv. I’m listening.”
What shall we use
To fill the empty spaces
Where we used to talk?
How shall I fill
The final places?
How should I complete the wall?
Vyv’s mother had hated the wall. Or maybe she’d liked it at first, and grown sick of it over time after Vyvyan played it non stop at all hours of the day. It was impossible to tell. Honestly, he should have known she was going to leave him for good. She’d left him alone quite a few times before, bored with his antics - or perhaps just far more interested in somebody else’s - she would disappear for days at a time. But she was always chatty and attentive before she went, and always even more attentive when she came home. Feeling guilty, probably. Perhaps that was why he didn’t realise she was going to leave. Because she wasn’t attentive and doting before she left. Just cold, distant, disinterested. The mother he’d come to accept. Perhaps she did it on purpose, just to hurt him a little worse. Just to cut him a little bit deeper than before. Perhaps -
“-On him?” Rick asked.
“Pink’s wife. Did she cheat on him?”
“Oh, erm. Yeah, yeah I think so. Yeah.”
“Cliff, he really is having a bad time of things, isn’t he?”
“...Yeah. Yeah, he bloody well is.”
I am just a new boy
Stranger in this town
Where are all the good times?
Who's gonna show this stranger around?
Ooh, I need a dirty woman
Ooh, I need a dirty girl
“You’ve never been with anyone else, have you Vyv?”
“What kind of a bloody question is that!”
“Well, have you?”
“You know I haven’t. Anyway, what does it matter?”
“I don’t know.” He paused, “...I kissed a girl once.”
“I did !”
“You’re a bloody liar!” Vyv slid down so that he was lying on the floor next to the turntable, then grabbed Rick and pulled him on top.
“I did, I did! I swear I did!”
“In secondary school. We had a mixed dance with the girl’s academy.”
“And you kissed a bird?” Vyv asked.
“Well, she kissed me. Sort of. I think she might have been aiming for someone else, and I sort of...got in the way.”
“That’s a bit more believable.” Vyv grinned, “What was it like?”
“Wet.” Rick grimaced, “Cold. She tasted funny. I didn’t like it very much.”
“Because you’re a poof.”
“Well, that probably didn’t help things.” Rick acknowledged, “I like it much better with you.”
He cupped the side of Vyv’s face and kissed him for emphasis, and Vyv had to try very hard not to grin. He gave up in the end, and rolled Rick onto his back with a smile before attacking the soft skin at the nape of his neck.
One of My Turns
Day after day, love turns grey
Like the skin of a dying man.
And night after night, we pretend it’s all right
But I have grown older and
You have grown colder and
Nothing is very much fun anymore.
And I can feel one of my turns coming on.
“Oh.” Rick said. He was still on his back, blazer half torn off his shoulders while Vyv bit a mark into his throat.
“What?” Vyv asked as he ran his tongue over bruised skin.
“One of your turns. That’s what you call your...your episodes, isn’t it?”
“...Yes.” Vyv said.
“Do you want me to skip it?”
“No, it’s alright. Just…” He frowned, “The album, erm. Helped. When I was a kid. That’s why I call them...that.”
Rick nodded, “...Do you think it would help if I put it on, next time you’re having a funny turn?”
“...I dunno.” Vyv shrugged, “It might. Do...my turns don’t bother you, do they poof? They don’t...put you off me or anything?”
Stupid question. Stupid question. Stupid bloody question.
“I don’t think anything could put me off you, Vyv. Especially not if you’re going to keep doing... that .” He ran his fingers over the fresh marks across his neck. Vyv grinned and started on a new one.
“That’s alright then.”
Don’t Leave Me Now
Don't leave me now
Don’t say it’s the end of the road
She must have done it while he was at school. Must’ve been planning it for a while, he supposed. Because when he got home, everything was gone from the flat. Well, not everything . His things were still there, but all of the furniture, the food in the fridge, her clothes from the wardrobe. That was all gone. The only real pieces of furniture she hadn’t taken were SPG’s cage and the turntable. Vyv was only about twelve. He’d holed up in the flat for days listening to the wall, crying constantly, throwing things at Special Patrol Group, and listening to the almost deafening rumble of his stomach. Must’ve been a solid week before social services found him. Maybe even longer.
Don't leave me now
How can you treat me this way?
Why are you running away?
Another Brick in the Wall (Part 3)
I don't need no walls around me
And I don't need no drugs to calm me
I have seen the writing on the wall
Don't think I need anything at all
No, don't think I'll need anything at all
“So Pink’s building a wall to keep everyone else out ?”
“...Not a real wall?”
“No, stupid. A mental wall!”
“Right, yes. I knew that. And all the things that have happened to him are bricks in the wall?”
“God, you catch on quick, don’t you?”
“Shut up, Vyvyan! It’s very deep and poetic. I’m taking my time grasping the sheer magnitude of the concept!”
“No, you’re just thick.” Vyv snickered.
“ You’re thick.” Rick replied, and proved his point with one swift movement, deftly unzipping Vyvyan’s fly.
“You’ve got a bloody one track mind.” Vyv sighed as he moved towards Rick’s touch.
“And you don’t ?”
“...Well. I never said that.”
All in all it was all just bricks in the wall
All in all it was just bricks in the wall
Goodbye Cruel World
Goodbye cruel world
I'm leaving you today
Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye
“He’s not going to kill himself, is he Vyvyan?” Rick asked.
“You’re not going to stop what you’re doing, are you Rick?” Vyv replied, “Because you’ve left me in a bit of a desperate bloody situation!”
“Right, yes, sorry.” The poet resumed his fast-paced strokes, but it was obvious his mind was elsewhere.
“No, he’s not gonna bloody kill himself.” Vyvyan replied, in the hopes it might help him regain Rick’s attention. He was about to try and explain what was happening on the album, but a thought intruded out of nowhere and damn near winded him with its impact. What track was this? How many more to go until that song? Two? Three? What would he say? He couldn’t necessarily ask Rick if they could skip it. It was a bloody brilliant track for a start, so that’d be a crying shame. But it was also...well, he supposed it wasn’t hugely important to the story. He could always fill Rick in. But Rick would want to know why , and what was Vyv supposed to tell him? Christ. Maybe listening to this album wasn’t the best idea after all…
“Vyvyan? Vyvyan, are you alright? Do you want me to stop?”
“Don’t you bloody dare!” Vyv replied, trying to keep his voice light. Rick’s face was the picture of concern, but at least he had his attention again. And it was certainly worth it when Rick tried to chase the far-away look off Vyv’s face with his tongue.
Hey you, out there in the cold
Getting lonely, getting old
Can you feel me?
Hey you, standing in the aisles
With itchy feet and fading smiles
Can you feel me?
Vyv did see his mother once, after she left. Just the once, mind. Crossing the street and walking into a pub, her skirt hiked up around her waist and holes in the knees of her stockings. Vyv had been eighteen at the time, loitering on the street corner, looking for kids to pickpocket. SPG saw her first. He was perched on Vyvyan’s shoulder, and grabbed the punk by the ear when he caught sight of Mrs Basterd.
Vyv froze to the spot, a cold sweat breaking out across his skin. Christ, look at her . Did she even know where he was? Did she care that he’d been taken away? Did it matter to her at all?
He wanted to go up to her, scream at her. Ask her what the bloody hell she was playing at, leaving him to starve on his own. SPG seemed to share the sentiment, still tugging on his ear lobe frantically, as if to steer him in the direction of the bar. He even got a few steps in the right direction before he lost his nerve. Turned on his heel and took off in the other direction, pausing only to crush his hamster against the nearest wall when he started to berate the punk for cowardice.
But it was only fantasy
The wall was too high
As you can see
No matter how he tried
He could not break free
And the worms ate into his brain .
When he did talk to her, years later at the Kebab and Calculator, he wouldn’t have the guts (or the time, really) to say all the horrible things he’d wanted to say. He’d opt for being nice to her instead. Forever desperate for his mother’s approval.
The shame of it still haunted him.
Is There Anybody Out There?
“It just doesn’t seem like your kind of album, Vyv.”
“Well, I was young when I bought it. First one I ever bought, as it happens. Wasn’t a punk yet. Not really.”
“Hmm.” Rick frowned, “Did you, erm...listen to it a lot? Growing up?”
“Loads. Couldn’t afford new vinyls. Got this one with my birthday money one year and...I dunno. I was happy with that for a while.”
Rick smiled - another precious little scrap of information. Cliff, Vyv was always so bloody guarded.
“Well, I like it. Even if you’re too punk to appreciate it these days.”
“...I spose it’s sort of punk.” Vyv replied, “It’s sort of an anti-establishment, anti-fascist type statement, really.”
“It gets that way later on, yeah.”
“Right on .” Rick grinned, “Is that why you hung onto it?”
“I hung onto it cause it meant something.” Vyv replied, then immediately regretted it. Rick knew better than to comment, but the irony of it all still wasn’t lost on him. Vyv didn’t bloody need an album called the Wall. He’d already built his own.
I've got a little black book with my poems in
Got a bag with a toothbrush and a comb in
When I'm a good dog, they sometimes throw me a bone in.
“No...erm. It’s a bit spooky. Reminds me of when my parents abandoned me at boarding school.”
“Ah.” Vyv said.
I got amazing powers of observation
And that is how I know
When I try to get through
On the telephone to you
There'll be nobody home
“Reminds me of the boys home.” He admitted, though that was an understatement. If he listened to it too closely, it’d take him straight back to the boy’s home. More specifically, to the chilly corridors where he’d stood in front of a payphone, praying his mother would answer and come to get him.
“...I suppose that would have been much worse than what I went through.” Rick chuckled nervously. Vyv shrugged.
“I spose.” He wasn’t used to Rick being...what? Sympathetic? Empathetic ? Talk about spooky.
I got elastic bands keepin' my shoes on
Got those swollen-hand blues
I got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from
I've got wild staring eyes
And I've got a strong urge to fly
But I got nowhere to fly to
“...It also reminds me of the ward.” Vyv muttered.
“...the erm...psychiatric facility.”
“I...Oh. I didn’t...I didn’t know.”
“Bet you assumed, though, didn’t you?”
“Well...I suppose it had crossed my mind once or twice, when you were throwing me through walls or coming at me with an axe.”
“I wasn’t in there for anything like that.” Vyv replied, “That would’ve been much more bloody interesting.”
“...What were you in there for, then?”
“None of your bloody business.”
Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn?
Remember how she said that
We would meet again
Some sunny day?
What has become of you
Does anybody else in here
Feel the way I do?
Vera Basterd was many things. A loving mother, clearly, was not one of them. So why did much of Vyvyan’s tumultuous adolescence revolve around a constant, never ending desire for her love? Or at the very least, her presence in his life. Because instead of buildings connections, trying to fit in or at the very least, behave himself so that one of his many constant foster homes might somehow turn into a permanent placement, he spent vast amounts of time acting out. Making things difficult. He couldn’t get adopted into a new family when his mother was still out there somewhere, could he? His mum still wanted him. Needed him. There had just been some kind of horrible mistake! And no amount of solemn conversations with case workers, or “heart-to-heart” chats with foster carers, or loud screaming matches with SPG could convince him otherwise. Nothing could possibly have convinced him otherwise, until that bloody boring day where he’d found her working in the pub down the road. He never mentioned it to any of his flatmates (especially not Rick, who back then surely would have used it against him) but he’d spent that night shut up in his room bawling his eyes out with only SPG as a tissue/companion. He’d listened - through headphones - to every Sex Pistols and Black Flag album he’d owned in a desperate attempt to turn his agony into rage. He could deal with rage. It was the bloody depressing sadness he couldn’t cope with. In the end he’d put on the wall and listened exclusively to Vera, sticking the needle back at the start whenever it slipped towards the next track. He bloody hated her. Christ. But he’d loved her, too. Before that day at the Kebab and Calculator, even after he caught sight of her as a teenager, he’d loved her unconditionally. But the realisation that she’d not given a toss about where he was came as a shock. It shouldn’t have, but it did. And from that day on, bloody hell. He didn’t just hate her. He fucking despised her.
Bring the Boys Back Home
Bring the boys back home
Bring the boys back home
Don't leave the children on their own, no, no
Bring the boys back home
Rick might not have remembered his father, but he certainly remembered how he died. He remembered the day, anyway. Remembered playing in the garden with some of the neighbourhood boys while their nannies watched on. Their fathers were all on some sort of hunting trip together, only an hour or so away. It wasn’t unusual - they’d gone lots of times before. Weekends away to shoot helpless animals for no reason other than amusement. Perhaps it was these trips that spurred Rick into being a vegetarian in later life. It was certainly that particular trip that turned him into a borderline pacifist.
And how on earth was a four-year-old child supposed to grasp something as complex as death? Certainly the death of someone so important, so fundamental to his existence that the possibility of life without them had not even entered into his head?
“...How’d you find out?” Vyv asked, because somewhere along the line Rick had started talking about it, and hadn’t been able to stop. He’d never told anyone. Not anyone , ever. He’d never even talked about it with mummy. But maybe he’d always needed to.
“Well, that was the really awful bit.” Rick said, because it was.
It had all happened so quickly, as well. One minute he was minding his own business, building sandcastles with his friends, and the next minute a group of men were hauling his father up to the house in a makeshift stretcher. Nannies ran to cover their charges eyes. Children cried. Their mothers screamed from the drawing room, where they were all sat around having tea. And they hadn’t wanted Rick to see, but he saw it all perfectly well anyway. In a brief glimpse, he caught sight of his father’s pale face, open eyes, a flash of red.
It was a stray bullet. Common mistake. Happens to the best of us, so they all said. Rick wasn’t so sure that was true. He’d never thought much of it at the time. Vyv took his hand and held it tight.
“I think they all sort of...forgot we were out there. In the garden, you know. All of our nannies went inside to try and help. We must have stayed out there for hours before somebody noticed.” He frowned, “...It’s not something you forget in a hurry.”
“I wouldn’t have thought so, no.” Vyv replied. Rick looked...different, somehow. Or maybe Vyvyan was only just starting to see him properly. Starting to see him as something akin to an equal. Someone who had struggled, hurt, and come out the other side. Just like he had.
Food for thought.
“Erm...poof. Do you mind if I...I sort of need to...leave the room. For this next one.”
“I just...I don’t really...oh, Christ. Nevermind. I spose it’s about time I heard it again.”
“Look, just shut up, alright? Be quiet for a bit.”
“Okay…” Rick mumbled.
Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone at home?
Vyv had that look in his eyes - the look he got when he was having a turn. And the poet only became more concerned when Vyvyan’s hand slipped into his and clung onto it for dear life. He paid special attention to the lyrics, trying to understand why this track had got him more worked up than all the others.
Come on now
I hear you're feeling down
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again
Vyv, on the other hand, tried not to think about any of it. He tried not to recall the distinctive smell of mould and mildew that had dominated the communal bathroom in that particular block of council flats on the day of the worst funny turn of his life. Or the feel of the lukewarm water as he lowered himself into the tub.
There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying
And then there was the lightheadedness he’d felt courtesy of the painkillers nicked from a neighbour. The cold, sharp edge of the razor blade against his skin. This song , crackling away in the corner. Stuck on a tired old turntable he’d brought into the room with the help of a number of extension cords. That very brief moment, just before he lost consciousness, where he’d panicked and changed his mind, and tried to call out for someone to help him.
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb
It was a blessing that Rick didn’t mention the tears that started to pour down his face. A mercy that he didn’t pass out when his breathing went from slow and relaxed to rapid, shallow gasps for air. Rick put his arms around him and rocked him back and forth like a child, and perhaps the greatest miracle of this whole situation was that Vyv allowed him to do so. It wasn’t an act he usually would have tolerated.
Who had found him, in the end? A neighbour, he supposed. Probably the same one he nicked the bloody pills from. It got him hospitalised, in any case. Got them to try and get a hold of his mum. Nobody could reach her. Or maybe she just wouldn’t come. And that had made him cry, hadn’t it? It shouldn’t have - he should have known better - but it did , god. It had hurt .
When I was a child
I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I have become, comfortably numb.
The Show Must Go On
And if he’d known trying to top himself would get him hospitalised, Vyvyan would have bloody well thought twice. Three weeks on a ward under an inpatient program didn’t necessarily gel with his overall life plan (to die, mainly) and it also meant someone else had to look after SPG. He reckoned it must’ve been his case-worker - little bastard was fat and spoiled when Vyv finally got him back. Bloody typical.
There must be some mistake
I didn't mean to let them take away my soul
Am I too old, is it too late?
All that time spent marching up and down the halls in an uncomfortable uniform. No gel in his hair or studs in his forehead. No ring in his nose, no laces in his shoes. There was a good possibility that the attempt would affect his ability to get into college the following year, or so his shrink told him. Doctors needed to be mentally stable. Vyvyan, clearly, was not. But what did that matter? How could he be expected to care about his future when it was blatantly obvious that nobody else did?
So don’t do it fer anybody else, laddie. Do it fer yerself.
It was the only piece of advice SPG had ever given him. He spoke it in a harsh whisper not long after Vyvyan was released, and they were back to squatting in council estates, carrying around their belongings in black bin bags. The bastard had a point. Perhaps that was when the wall had really started to go up; when Vyvyan decided to start making some vague attempt at carving out a life for himself. He started telling himself he didn’t care about anyone or anything, not even himself. Not even SPG necessarily, though that was a rotten lie because he kept feeding the little shit and keeping his cage relatively clean, in between arguing with him and hurling him against the nearest wall. And it still stood to reason that Vyvyan didn’t particularly care for anyone or anything - especially now that his hamster was dead.
Where has the feeling gone?
Will I remember the songs?
The show must go on
In the Flesh.
So ya thought ya might like to go to the show
To feel the warm thrill of confusion, that space cadet glow
“...We’ve already heard this one.” Rick muttered. Vyv was just grateful he didn’t ask any questions. Rick might have been an annoying git at the best of times, but he was certainly good in an emotional crisis.
“No, we haven’t.” Vyv replied, “Listen. This is after Pink turns into a crazy psychopath.”
I've got some bad news for you sunshine
Pink isn't well, he stayed back at the hotel
And they sent us along as a surrogate band
We're gonna find out where you fans really stand
“Oh.” Rick nodded, “Like you did?”
Perceptive little bastard.
“...Yeah, poof. Like I did.”
Are there any queers in the theater tonight?
Get them up against the Wall
Now there's one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me
Get him up against the Wall
Who let all of this riff-raff into the room?
There's one smoking a joint, and another with spots
If I had my way, I'd have all of ya shot!
“...There’s not going to be anyone left in the audience after he does away with all that lot.” Rick said, “Blimey, he really has gone potty.”
Vyv laughed, “That’s got to be the poofiest way of putting it I’ve ever heard.”
“Well, you’d know, wouldn’t you Vyvyan? Hmm?”
“Only cause I’m dating the poofiest poof that ever lived.”
“And what does that make you?”
“The second poofiest poof that ever lived.” Vyv replied, “Tell anyone, and I’ll kill you.”
“I think everybody already knows, Vyv.” Rick said, “You’ve been loudly shagging me against every available surface for months, now, after all.”
Waiting for the Worms
Sitting in a bunker here behind my wall
Waiting for the worms to come
In perfect isolation here behind my wall
Waiting for the worms to come
Would you like to see Britannia
Rule again, my friend?
All you have to do is follow the worms
“Bloody hell! He’s turned into a fascist dictator!”
“No, he sees himself as a fascist dictator. I thought you were supposed to be good at all this symbolism bollocks!”
“What do you mean he sees himself as a fascist dictator? How can anyone see themselves as a fascist dictator!”
“That’s how much he hates himself, obviously.”
“Well, that’s silly. He hasn’t done anything wrong! It’s everyone else whose treated them terribly.”
“...I think he knocked his wife around a bit, poof.”
“We knock each other around.” Rick pointed out.
“Yeah, well. That’s a bit different. But aside from that if everyone treats you like shit for your entire bloody life, it stands to reason that eventually you’ll start to believe them, isn’t it?”
Rick snorted, “ No . Everyone’s horrible to me, but that’s their fault. I’m great!”
“That’s because you’re a self absorbed only child, Rick.”
“Oh, oh! So you think I’m self centered , do you Vyvyan? Well, that’s a ruddy nice thing to say about your boyfriend, isn’t it? I’ll have you know-” Rick paused, “...Vyv, you don’t hate yourself, do you?”
“God, you’re dense, aren’t you? Are you only just starting to work that out?”
“But...but why? Vyv, you’re- well, you’re more than great. You’re blimmin’ fantastic!”
“You are! You’re also a complete and utter bastard most of the time, but that’s part of your charm. It’s one of the reasons why I lo-” He cut himself off just in time. He could see Vyvyan starting to close himself off already. He tried again, “You shouldn’t hate yourself, Vyvyan. I think you’re just about the greatest person who ever lived.”
“Apart from Cliff Richard.” Vyv replied.
“No, Vyv. I think you’re even better than Cliff Richard.”
“...Bloody hell, poof.”
The worms will convene outside Brixton Bus Station
Good morning, Worm your honor
The crown will plainly show
The prisoner who now stands before you
Was caught red-handed showing feelings
Showing feelings of an almost human nature
This will not do
“...This is my favourite track.” Vyv said, with some reluctance.
“Oh?” Rick immediately sat up and leaned closer to the player.
I always said he'd come to no good in the end your honor!
If they'd let me have my way I could have flayed him into shape!
But my hands were tied
The bleeding hearts and artists
Let him get away with murder!
“Well this isn’t very fair, is it? Shouldn’t he get a lawyer? Someone to defend him?”
“He’s got his mother.” Vyv pointed out.
“That’s not saying much!”
“It’s only in his head, Rick. He’s hardly going to make up a bloody defence for himself, is he? And how do you defend a mad bastard like that, anyway?”
Toys in the attic, I am crazy
Truly gone fishing
They must have taken my marbles away
“Because he isn’t a mad bastard! He’s hurt. But he’s not a bad person. He obviously cares, Vyvyan. He’s not a blimmin’ monster.”
“I spose.” Vyv shrugged.
“What do you mean you spose ?! He’s torturing himself for no reason!”
The evidence before the court is incontrovertible,
There's no need for the jury to retire!
In all my years of judging
I have never heard before
Of someone more deserving of the full penalty of law!
“What else is he supposed to do, prick?”
“Someone should blimmin’ well help him!”
“There isn’t anyone who can.”
“Only because he put up this stupid bloody wall!”
Since, my friend, you have revealed your deepest fear
I sentence you to be exposed before your peers
Tear down the wall
Tear down the wall!
Rick held his breath as the wall was destroyed, listening to the plaster crumble with an ironclad grip on Vyvyan’s arm. Anybody’d think it was a real bloody wall collapsing, with all the fuss he made. Vyvyan looked on solemnly, wondering what it would feel like to rip it all down. Wondering if it would help, or if it would only put him back where he started.
Outside the Wall
All alone, or in two's
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall
Some hand in hand
And some gathered together in bands
The bleeding hearts and the artists
Make their stand
“...What did you think, then?” Vyv asked. Rick was crying again, and the punk wasn’t sure how to address it.
“I think it’s bloody devastating.” Rick sniffed, “...Did he tear down the wall, do you think? Do you think he’s alright?”
“What does it matter?” Vyv asked, “He’s not bloody real, you know! It’s only a story.”
“But you’re real.” Rick replied, “...And...and you built a wall too.”
And when they've given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall
“Oh, Christ. Don’t get all bloody sappy on me poof, or I’ll never talk to you about anything again.”
“That’s the whole point of the blimmin’ album, Vyvyan! You should talk to me. You should want to bloody talk to me! You...you should tear down the wall.”
Vyv looked at him, at his snotty face and red eyes. At the pleading look on his face. That desire to be let in. To help. The same look Vyv had seen on the faces of god only knew how many social workers, foster parents, lawyers, judges, doctors and nurses. People who had tried to break through and given up, understanding that he was a lost cause, that he would never let them in. That he was broken. Unfixable. A waste of time.
How long before Rick decided the same thing?
“...He’s not alright.” Vyv said, “Pink, I mean. The album loops right back to the start. Outside the Wall feeds right into In the Flesh. It’s a cycle. He never breaks out of it.”
“Well.” Vyv shrugged, “Like I said, poof. S’only a story.”
Isn’t this where we came in?
He stood up and brushed the dirt and dust off his jeans while Rick stared at the crackling turntable, as if he was willing the outcome to change.
“I’m going down to the pub.” Vyvyan announced, “You coming?”
So ya, thought ya, might like to
Go to the show
“No. I think I’ll stay here.” Rick replied. Vyv shrugged.
Tell me is something eluding you, sunshine?
Is this not what you expected to see?
“I’ll be home in a bit.”
Really, he was bloody relieved. He stomped out of the house as quickly as he could, hoping Rick wouldn’t change his mind at the last minute. He didn’t, thank Christ. Vyv wasn’t sure he wanted to do any more talking , or bonding , or whatever the hell had happened in that room under the guise of listening to Pink Floyd. If Rick wanted to sulk about an imaginary bloke on an old album, that was his business. But Vyv wasn’t going to sit there and watch. He certainly wasn’t going to sit around and wait for Rick to try and fix him. Because that was where it had been headed, surely. Vyv didn’t need fixing. Well, alright, maybe he did . But he didn’t bloody well want to be with someone who thought he needed fixing. He wanted to be with someone who liked him the way he was. He thought Rick might’ve been that person.
But maybe he wasn’t.
Maybe he was just another brick in Vyv’s wall, after all.
If you want to find out what's behind these cold eyes
You'll just have to claw your way through this disguise
Poor, poor Vyv. And poor Rick. He's like that meme - you know the one where the guy's at that gate screaming to be let in? Yeah, that one. That's Rick, up against Vyvyan's stupid bloody wall. I promise the next update will be out...soon-ish? Should I take on fewer projects at a time? Probably. See you soon!
Chapter 3: (Part 3)
oh my goddddd I can't believe how long this took guys. I'm very sorry but I am physically incapable of working on one thing at a time. But still, it's here now, and I hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Vyvyan had expected some kind of backlash after he stormed off to the pub. An argument, maybe. Or a night spent in his own room instead of curled up in Rick’s bed. But surprisingly, no such backlash occurred. Things went on more or less as normal. Or perhaps even better than normal, since Rick’s introduction to the Wall had left him with a newfound respect for Vyvyan’s musical taste. Not only did the poet hang on to Pink Floyd, and continue to play it on a semi-regular basis, the punk also noticed that a number of other records made their way into his rotation. It wasn’t uncommon for Vyvyan to come home and hear the faint sounds of Never Mind the Bollocks or Love It To Death coming from Rick’s room. In any case, it was certainly a welcome change.
But there was a slight shift in their relationship dynamic. Minute, barely noticeable, but definitely there. For starters, Vyvyan was somewhat on edge. Restless. Ever so slightly suspicious of Rick’s intentions. Waiting for the other boot to drop, he supposed. Waiting for Rick to give up and get sick of him.
Fortunately, being cagey, guarded and paranoid seemed to be having the opposite effect. If it were possible, Rick was even more attentive than usual. He hung off Vyvyan’s every word, catered to his every whim and tolerated every suspicious glance or snide remark. It was as infuriating as it was endearing, but if Rick was trying to get him to open up, he was barking up the wrong bloody tree. Each time the poet tried to get closer, Vyv immediately pulled back, as per his signature strategy. People gave up on him. People were unreliable. That was undisputed fact, and Rick would be no different.
The cycle repeated for weeks. Then dragged on into months.
Well , it did as far as Vyv was concerned, anyway. Discouraged and frustrated by Rick’s unconditional lov-
...unconditional affection , the punk had resorted to childish, stony silence. Sometimes he went hours, even days, without saying a word to Rick. Pushing, pushing, always pushing. And Rick just...wouldn’t be pushed. He chattered on into the silent void as if nothing at all was the matter, or sometimes sat contentedly in the quiet, reading a book or doing his coursework, allowing Vyvyan the space he needed.
And if Rick was at all bothered by the sudden lack of physical affection, or in the rapid decrease in time spent together, he never once complained. Christ knew he complained about everything else. College, Thatcher, the abysmal conditions and plights of the working class. But the boy who had once sulked for three days when Vyv forgot to kiss him goodbye was now suddenly - bloody remarkably - being the more mature one of the two. He didn’t have a bad word to say about the deterioration of their relationship, and honestly, Vyv didn’t much care for it. He didn’t want things to carry on as normal! He wanted a fight! A screaming match. A violent, messy break up to justify his theory. Stupid poof couldn’t even get that right.
And then finally and at long last, reached some sort of crescendo towards the Christmas break, when Vyv decided he’d better get things started and dump the spotty poof, since Rick was obviously in some ridiculous state of denial.
So, they were walking down to the Kebab & Calculator together, side by side and a good few inches apart, when Rick stopped dead in his tracks outside the video rental place. Vyv kept walking, still fuming, planning out what he’d say once he was in the pub with Dexys blaring at full volume and a pint of lager in each hand. Probably something really horrible and awful, along the lines of Piss off, I’m bored with you, don’t talk to me ever again. He never did get the chance.
“Vyv, look !” Rick tapped the glass on the front window like an excited child, then pressed his face up against it with a grin.
“What?” Vyv grunted.
“The Wall! Look, they’ve made a film of the Wall!”
“Oh. Yeah, I erm...I know.” He shrugged, “So? What’s your point?”
“Have you seen it?”
“Then let’s rent it!”
“No, come on. I need a drink.”
“Don’t be such a snooze fest, Vyvyan! We can go to the pub any time.”
“But-” But what? But I don’t want to break up with you on a street corner without the aid of intoxicating substances? But I’m a big yellow chicken who won’t be able to cope with you crying all over the place unless there are people watching? Vyv had backed himself into a corner, and he bloody well knew it. So much for dumping the git in a neutral location. It would have to be back at the share house, after all. Not only that, it would have to be back at the share house while watching the bloody Wall. Christ .
“We haven’t got a player.” Vyv muttered.
“We’ll rent one. Like we did when you and Mike bought that horrible... sex film. It’s quite simple , Vyvyan.”
“Argh, fine! Fine, just be quick about it, would you? I haven’t got all bloody day.”
He’d fully intended to wait outside. To glare at Rick through the glass and go back to rehearsing his speech. He’d never had to break up with anyone before. Things had never got this out of hand. But it was a sure-fire way to push Rick back for good, wasn’t it? He could hardly keep up his cheery morale when he’d been dumped faster than last night’s lentil casserole. But then Rick’s hand was on his arm, warm and gentle and stupidly girly and soft, and Vyv found himself being led into the store despite his reservations, loitering awkwardly around the aisles while Rick made his selections. It was exactly what Vyv hadn’t wanted to happen, and it was breaking his fucking heart.
“I thought we were just getting the Wall, poof.” He mumbled.
“We are.” Rick replied, “But I thought we could get some others too, since we’re taking the time to rent the blimmin’ player anyway. Might as well get our money’s worth.”
“We could have a lazy weekend in.” Rick continued, “Bit of a marathon. What’s your favourite movie, Vyv?”
“Haven’t got one.”
“What do you mean you haven’t got one ? Everyone’s got one, Vyvyan!”
“And neither did Joseph Stalin. Now pick a ruddy film!”
“What do you care?” Vyv snapped. He was trying very hard not to cringe at the copy of Grease Rick had tucked under his arm.
“Because when I was younger and I used to get... upset about things, mummy would take me to the video store to rent a film. It always seemed to help.”
“I’m not upset.”
Rick sighed, “I’m not stupid, Vyv. I only want to help.”
“Look, you can push me away all you like, young man, but you’d better start to realise I’m going to ruddy well push back!”
“You’ll throw in the towel eventually. Everybody always does.”
“Well I’m not everyone!” Rick yelled. Finally, he was bloody furious . The few remaining patrons in the store were exchanging worried glances, trying to make a hasty retreat towards the exit. Rick took no notice. He had his hands on his hips and that pompous posh boy look on his face, and all at once Vyvyan realised that he might have been underestimating the vast stubbornness of the sociology student.
“I’m Rickolas Richard Flasheart Pratt! The People’s sodding Poet! I don’t throw in the towel , Vyvyan! Not when it’s bloody important. Not when it’s you . So you’re going to tell me what your favourite film is, and then we’re going to pay for our bloody rentals, go home, plug the TV into the bedroom, sit in bed and watch the Wall. And then we’re going to watch whatever ridiculous piece of filthy low brow cinema you’ve chosen. And then we’re going to watch Grease, because I ruddy well like Grease! And I like you! And I won’t let you ruin the best thing that’s ever happened to either of us just because you’re scared!”
“I’m not scared!”
“You ruddy well are! I wasn’t born yesterday, Vyvyan! I know perfectly well why you wanted to go down to the pub.”
“Yes, oh . And if you think breaking things off with me is going to make me stop caring about you, or make me stop looking after you or worrying about you, or checking to see if you’re alright, then you can just blimmin’ well think again. So for the last time, what’s your favourite bloody movie! Because otherwise Vyvyan, I swear to Cliff Richard and Roger ruddy Waters, I will tear this place apart looking for all the horrendous, sappy musicals I can find, and I’ll blimmin’ well make you sit through all of them!”
Vyv stared open-mouthed at the red, sweaty face of the people’s poet. He wasn’t sure he’d ever seen him so...so...passionate. Furious. Bloody determined. And that was saying something. Vyv wasn’t even sure he had a response for the frankly terrifying outburst he’d just witnessed. His mind drew a blank.
“...Your...your full name is... Rickolas ?”
“... Yes ? Is that alright with you?”
“Rickolas Richard Flashheart, yes. It’s an old family name.”
“Your mother looked into your eyes when you were a baby, and called you Rickolas? ”
“You’re hardly one to pass judgement, Vyvyan . Now, are you picking a film, or am I?”
“...I spose I am.” Vyv muttered, “But you won’t like it.”
“Doesn’t matter. If it’s your favourite, I want to see it.”
“I have two.”
“So we’ll watch them both. Come on, come on! Out with it!”
“Erm... A Clockwork Orange , and erm... Texas Chainsaw Massacre .”
“Right. Do they have those here?”
“Well, not over the counter, no. They’re sort of...video nasties. But I know the bloke at the counter. He has them out the back.”
“Well then go talk to him!” Rick said, “And get him to ring these up while you’re at it.”
“...I’m not watching Grease , poof.”
“You’ll watch it and you’ll bloody well like it!” Rick snapped, “It’s a classic!”
Vyv didn’t...how could he possibly argue? Rick had already gone up in his estimations proving himself as a...Christ, as a caring individual? And he was still shocked by the outburst, by the knowledge that Rick had known what he’d been planning to do, that he had absolutely no choice but to go and fetch the bloody movies. No choice but to go home and watch them. And when they got in, and Rick instructed him to unplug the telly and carry it up to the bedroom, he still couldn’t find the strength to argue. He hooked up the TV and plugged in the VCR, and...reluctantly, very reluctantly, climbed into bed beside him.
Of course, they started with the Wall.
Somewhere towards the end of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Rick fell asleep. How anyone could fall asleep to the tune of Texas Chainsaw Massacre was beyond Vyvyan, but honestly, he was just relieved he wouldn’t have to watch Grease.
And of course, Rick had cried all through the bloody wall. Sat inches away from the television during every animated sequence, eyes wide with awe. He marvelled at massive crowds that appeared for Pink’s fascist rally, sniffed and snivelled with every quiet moment in Pink’s lonely hotel room. At the climax of the trial he grabbed onto Vyv’s arm and clung to it for dear life, buried his face in the punk’s shoulder when the wall came down. And Vyv had sat beside him, rigid and unsympathetic. Bored. Uncomfortable. It was all much too close for his liking. So the credits rolled and he braced himself for another lecture, another argument. Possibly the last one.
It never came. Rick got up, wiped his eyes, smiled warmly. Without a word he rewound the tape, took it out, put A Clockwork Orange on in its place. No stroppy tantrums about wanting to watch Grease. No angry insistence that Vyvyan’s tastes in film, music (anything really) were violent, punkish, ridiculous. Rick wanted to watch what Vyv did. Wanted to break through, still, and get across to the other side of the wall. Wanted to know something - anything - about him. Why ?
Rick had gone to sleep on his arm. There was a puddle of drool forming on his bicep. With his free hand, Vyv reached over and gently brushed the hair out of the poet’s eyes. Cupped his face, stroked his cheek. Relented, kissed his forehead.
“...I’m bloody well stuck with you, aren’t I?” He whispered. Rick murmured in his sleep, rolled over so that he was pressed even closer to the punk’s side. It would have been quite a touching moment if there weren’t violent screams and chainsaw squeals emanating from the television.
“Hmph...Vyv? Did I fall asleep?”
“Yeah. What’s the matter, poof? Ugly, bloody massacres too boring for you, now?”
Rick smiled, “You seem a bit more cheerful.”
“Do I?” Vyv replied, “I can’t imagine why.”
“Is the movie almost over? Can we watch Grease after?”
Vyv grimaced. Hesitated. “...Put it on now, if you want.”
“Sure, poof. Whatever you want. I’m bored with this one, anyway.”
“...Alright.” Rick got up with a stretch and stumbled over to the VCR to change tapes. On his way back to the bed he shrugged out of his blazer and jeans, figuring he’d much rather be comfortable if he was going to fall asleep again. Vyv helped him with the buttons on his shirt and pulled him back into bed. Under the blankets and into his arms. Rick sighed contentedly, but made no comment. He was happy enough knowing that things were back to normal. Vyv, however, was not.
“I erm...love you. You know.”
“Course!” Vyv snapped, “But...I thought I’d better say it anyway. Just in case...just in case you didn’t know.”
“I love you too, Vyv.” Rick reached up and planted a kiss on the punk’s cheek before curling into his side and getting lost in the film. Vyv tightened his grip around the poet’s shoulders and sat through Grease with gritted teeth. It was the least he could do, after all.
Neither of them technically heard the wall come down. They felt it, in the soft rumble underfoot and in the warmth that passed between them. In the gentle way Rick put his arm around Vyv’s waist and rested his chin on his chest. The lingering pressure when Vyvyan took the poet’s hand and pressed his wrist to his lips. No, they didn’t hear it. But it was there. They both knew it, though neither of them felt the need to actually bring it up. The bleeding heart had made his stand, and surprisingly, the mad bugger had taken the hint. That night they slept in the rubble, curled between the bricks and mortar, wrapped in each other’s arms. There were no fights. No yelling. No cold, uneasy silences. Just the punk and the poet, and a calm, easy sleep.
All alone, or in two's
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall
Some hand in hand
And some gathered together in bands
The bleeding hearts and the artists
Make their stand
And when they've given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall
And there you have it :) that wasn't TOO angsty, was it? Thanks for all the comments, kudos and general support, lovelies. Means the world <3