Warnings: none, well prostitution obviously
Summary: The rent boy remembers Oscar Wilde
A/N: I saw this film once, a long time ago and to be honest missed Orlando in it, so the portrayal here is not based on anything much about him in the film, which was not very much anyhow. I do however know a fair bit about Oscar Wilde, though I have struggled with some of his poetry, not being Classically educated. He was a stunning brave and compassionate man, stood up for what he knew to be true and wrote not only some of the wittiest but the most inciteful things I have ever read. I could go on and on, but I won't. I couldn't write about sex here, because it seemed wrong. Not that Oscar would have minded I am sure, he was promiscuous and proud. But he also knew about deep love, for lovers, friends and his wife too, that there were different sorts of love, the loss of his heart in the end killed him. He died a few years after his release from gaol, in Paris, a broken man, but not in vain.
He never ‘did it’ to me that Mr Wilde, though I swore a statement as to his intent. The Marquis of Queensbury, don’t you know, who was very persuasive, very persuasive and very rich said that we had a choice- a hefty sum or a court case of our very own. Well let me get this clear- HE didn’t say anything direct to us, he looked like he would rather sleep in the gutter than come within speaking distance of our type, but Bosie’s father wanted ‘that foul sodomite’, as he called him, banged up where he belonged, in Gaol. What he wanted from us was a statement for the police that said Mr Wilde had, now what was it? ‘Solicited and incited boys unknown to commit sodomy and other acts of gross indecency and immorality’. Funny enough the Marquis hadn’t wanted to shake on it neither, when I agreed. Those bleeders are all the same. Its all hoity toity once they have what they came for, before they run back to their wives, wiping the memory from their skin.
Mr Wilde though, didn’t want to do it anyway. Once inside the gilt edged room somewhere near Pall Mall, I started as I always do, a little brush against his cock, making it clear that he could have whatever he wanted, no sense in dragging these things out, but he just stepped back and guided me into the drawing room with something of a wince
“Oh Oscar! Please...call me Oscar dear boy!” and that’s how it went. Him arranging me on the divan while he talked about his travels and his literary endeavours, all the while smoking his cigar, dropping ash all over the carpet like some proper Aristocrat, enacting scenes from Salome parading around with the head of John the Baptist on a plate and all manner of things. Didn’t seem to matter neither that I hadn’t the foggiest who he was on about- Michael Angelo and some Greeks, he would laugh out loud and touch my face and begin again in his way. He said me mouth would inspire an Ode to Beauty! Listen, here he sent me this bit of poetry before he was arrested
Enough, enough that he whose life had been
A fiery pulse of sin, a splendid shame,
Could in thy loveless land of Hades glean
One scorching harvest from those fields of flame
Where passion walks with naked unshod feet
And is not wounded, -- ah! enough that once their lips could meet (from Young Charmides)
Like I said, I didn’t have a clue, I just smiled and he seemed to like that.
“So are we going to get on with it then?” It had been an hour or so and that French wine had begun to make me brash so I asked him. I was engaged in a service as it were, providing for those who for reason of their fame and standing felt the need for more discreet liaisons. Only Mr Wilde wasn’t discreet was he? He flounced about in them furs and odd colours, writing things that scandalised the gossip papers and society apparently. The thing was he said out loud that men loving men wasn’t a crime, on the contrary, he said it was a beautiful thing.
“Oh! Be still my heart!” he was fond of what you might call ‘over zealous gestures’ and he let out a loud guffaw at my suggestion, his hands clutched at his chest and with a big sigh from his large mouth he feigned collapse and denial both “You delightful thing! But you need not be concerned with that - all that wretched huffing and puffing and unseemly noise! You should be entwined with a nubile; an Adonis to match your beauty, to be otherwise would be to scorn nature herself. Oh what an image! Perhaps Whistler would consent to a private portrait for my rooms…” he took a moment to think on that I don’t doubt before looking at me with sad old eyes that I can’t quite get out of my head to this day “But as to the physical, no. I fear I am lost to Bosie in that regard” and he squeezed my knee by way of emphasis. Lord Alfred Douglas, Bosie to those who knew him, well you could see why Mr Wilde was taken with him, that blonde hair and those delicate features. He had the arrogance of Birth and that which came from adoration.
Bosie had other appetites too I had heard, and that was true enough as it turned up, the stained sheets that they talked about in the court room never got like that when I was there that night, of that I can swear truthfully. Rumour was that the parties started after Mr Wilde left in his carriage- wine, some of that Moroccan hashish and the sort of boys that Bosie liked, and he had liked a lot. Mr Wilde, he was off home to his wife Constance before the clock struck 12, and me, I was back at work.
The trial was all over the newspapers, his book The Picture of Dorian Gray pulled apart to show his desires and depravity, our statements presented to prove how he had procured a whole baker’s dozen of boys and therefore how he committed both adultery and sodomy in one foul swoop. I stayed away from the court house, I didn’t want to have him look at me with disgust, rather have him throwing his head back to laugh and imagining me on the wall of his study, but in any case the evidence was about damnation.
Those few weeks of the trial was like London in shock and then the panic set in. People said the ferries leaving for France were full of men with hardly a trunk packed between them, the clubs were quiet and dark that’s for sure and it seemed to me that the Marquis locked up more than Mr Wilde.
I wish to God I never signed it now, not that He is going to listen to me I don’t suppose. The court of course found Mr Wilde guilty, and maybe that was what he wanted, he never lowered his head once but stood there solid in the dock, he never said he was sorry. And for that the rest of us owe him a debt that we cannot repay.