When Phillip slides his shirt off in the evening, the scratch marks are long and red, swooping in loops over his back. Brandon’s nails put them there, in a dirty session of braindead rutting, hands and teeth and tongue going everywhere.
Their apartment is fashionably old, there’s one or two gas lights remaining, although most are electric. The light in the bedroom is a gas light. At night, Brandon dims it, and it flickers when it’s dim. Phillip is waiting for him in the bed, he’s always to be waiting for Brandon. Brandon likes Phillip to be waiting for him, but he hates waiting for Phillip. So Phillip always goes to bed first, and waits for Brandon.
Brandon will walk in, in his striped pyjamas and robe, and Phillip will sit up at attention in his nightgown. Brandon will twist the dimmer, and the room will darken. The shadows will hang unnaturally from each object in the room, looming and waning as the light flickers, and Brandon will laugh as Phillip pulls the quilt closer.
“Paula,” Brandon will say; a joke about the picture in the cinema, with Ingrid Bergman. Phillip won’t find it funny, but Brandon will find that even funnier. And then he’ll saunter up to the bed like he owns the room (and he does, he pays for the apartment), and lay himself down next to Phillip, propped up by one elbow. Most nights he’ll kiss the other man, most nights he finds it funny, when Phillip is like putty in his hands, whimpering in pleasure, to suddenly bite, or scratch, or slap him.
Phillip doesn’t mind. Brandon is a bit like a wolf among sheep. If Phillip is on his side, he knows he won’t be dinner.