Ralph always did confide in me. It drives Sandy wild—though, God knows, for all the reasons I may have given him for jealousy, he has no reason to blame Ralph, who’s my past. There’s no bloody reason to be jealous of the past! The future: well, that’s uncertain for all of us, except that there’s a war on and our lives will be constrained and shaped by the needs of the nation, regardless of our own wishes. So yes, I can see someone (meaning Sandy) being anticipatorily jealous. As for the present: well, yes, I have to admit that I’ve given Sandy reason to be jealous. Why queers should be faithful eludes me. It’s not as though there are dependents to think of.
Actually, now I think of it, I’ve carefully not given Sandy reason to be jealous: up till now, I’ve kept damn secret about most of it, if not quite all. He manages to invent jealousies out of the whole cloth. Just look at his dramatic suicide attempt on my birthday! Mind you, I think it was more for show than not, though you’d think, in that case, he’d know better than to cut so deep. Then again, if he hadn’t, it would have been obviously fake, and I wouldn’t take it seriously. Also, he knows I have the skill to sew him up—that is, if I have the wherewithal, which I hardly keep around the flat. So Ralph has to come to the rescue, which ought to rub salt in the wound, if there were any logic in the matter at all, which there isn’t.
Did I say Ralph did confide in me. He still does. Frankly, I could do without it. Now back when we were together, that was different, obviously. And his letters, which I still keep, are hardly personal. In the end, I let Sandy read them just to shut him up; and I think he saw what I meant. When a relationship is over to the point of staying friends, then it’s over for good. But at Dunkirk Ralph saw Laurie on his ship—this is before it was sunk by the Germans—and it brought back all the feelings of his school years. Not just the attraction to a boy he never touched, but the shame of involvement with that Hazell chap, the horror of his expulsion, his parents … the whole thing. Not that I hadn’t heard most of it before, of course. However, his grief (for there’s no other word for it) when his letter came back and he believed Laurie dead: that was new, and more than a little embarrassing for both of us. I don’t expect to have a man literally cry on my shoulder; and I’m reasonably sure Ralph was mortified afterward by his loss of self-control. He’s a man whose notions of control are rigid to the point of cracking; and someone should tell him the story about the oak and the willow. He’s no willow, Ralph, that’s certain; so I’d say he cracked to the quick. He was flat-out weeping (talking of willows!) that night when he told me. Of course, he was still technically a patient at the hospital himself; also, he’d just learned that his injury would keep him off the active list, at least as far as getting another ship was concerned. So it’s fair to say that he was at low ebb. Still, mortified he was. No doubt about that.
And then Sandy walked in. (His timing is atrocious.) Of course, he took it wrong. And, even more “of course”, I couldn’t fully explain. Most of the story isn’t mine to tell, after all. So Sandy got the stick by the wrong end, and promptly waved it around. Leastways, I assume that’s the real—meaning psychological—point of taking an overdose of phenacetin. If you don’t plan an actual suicide, you do it to make a point. Or to force someone else’s hand. Meaning mine. So I dealt with the immediate problem, i.e. the overdose; and then I dealt with the jealousy in the best way I know, i.e. in bed. In the long run, it didn’t work. (But that’s old news.)
In one sense, I’m glad Laurie turned up again: Ralph lit up like a Roman candle at the very sight of him. If it all works out, then that’s marvellous. Of course, it probably won’t. (How often does it? With queers, I mean. And that’s without taking the war into account.) But let’s suppose it does work out, not just between them in the personal sense, but in terms of their figuring out some modus vivendi that keeps the law off their backs. In the meantime, there are some very practical circumstances to consider. I don’t mean the fact that Laurie’s still in the Army, and still in hospital, and far from recovered. All that they can work out between themselves. I mean Bunny.
Bunny is not to Ralph as Sandy is to me. This isn’t a lecture on logic: this is the real world and real people. Sandy hurts himself. Bunny lashes out. His vicious ways pay high dividends, one way or another. I swear half the Bridstow scene favour his side of the story. He knows how to play the pity card: loyal, loving Bunny dumped by Ralph for the latest novelty. I might buy the tale myself if I didn’t know the people concerned.
So Ralph confides in me, damn him. Apparently Laurie has some boy at the E.M.S. hospital. I gather it’s all very romantic, if not flat-out Platonic. As far as that goes, the three of them have got to sort it out themselves; it’s nothing to do with me. However, Bunny decided to play the villain and … God, I’ve no idea what he thought he was after, but what he actually found was this boy. And passed himself off as Ralph, made the worst of the situation (of course), and flounced back to Bridstow. Assuming, I suppose, that all this would somehow get him Ralph back.
I got the gen from Toto: it’s doing the rounds. I doubt I’ve got the full story; but I’ve certainly got the gist. Bunny’s the villain of the piece in my book; but knowing that doesn’t exactly help a lot.
At any rate, the E.M.S. boy wrote all about it to Laurie. Who got the letter and took it at face value, accused Ralph (who denied all), called him a liar, and then did a flounce himself.
And now I’ve somehow got to clear the whole mess up. God, I hate this. I’m a doctor, not a bloody Agony Aunt; but there you are: someone has to do it. I’ve been up all night with Sandy, I’ve got rounds, I’ll probably have surgery, and now I’ve got this.
But Ralph confides in me, you know.