Spreading the Word

by Rigby Taylor

Sebastian gazed irritably from the verandah into the sun filled garden. As usual a zillion thoughts had jostled aside his attempts to attain a state of Zen-like meditation. With an impatient sigh he sat up, dusted a few crumbs from the divan, rearranged the pillows, then lay back with his hands at his side. Yogic breathing—that would do the trick. He managed to hold his mind still for at least three seconds before a large spider constructing an intricate web among the rafters caught his attention. He was already on his feet to get a broom when he remembered, and slumped back.

'Your tendons will never repair if you're always on the go,' the slim young doctor had snapped only an hour before. 'Why can't you just lie back and relax?'

'Because it's not my nature,' Sebastian had answered with a fetching sigh. 'Now if you were to massage me…?'

'And risk Reginald's wrath? Not bloody likely.'

'Wouldn't it be worth a broken arm?' Sebastian grinned.

'Not even you are worth that, Sebastian. Shut up and let the soporific sounds of nature lull you to somnolence.'

But Sebastian couldn't.

Time plodded.

He began to fidget.

Struggled to his feet and leaned over the balcony rail. Turned and smiled at his reflection in the lounge-room windows, then returned to the divan that Reggie had dragged out onto the verandah, and arranged himself in an artistic pose. Not much fun when there was no one to admire the result. Where was Reggie?

The whine of a vehicle crawling up the steep drive sounded promising. Raising himself on an elbow he watched an iridescent blue car turn in under the trees and fall silent. The humid air throbbed to the raucous stridor of a million cicadas.

'Reggie,' he called to a rustle in the shrubbery, 'we have visitors. Stop massacring those plants and make them welcome.'

A few minutes later, his virility artlessly accentuated by torn-off jeans, heavy work boots and bare chest, Reginald was trailed onto the verandah by a middle-aged, portly gentleman in a wide-brimmed straw hat, grey suit, white shirt and dark tie. Scarlet and white trainers on tiny feet rendered the vision ridiculous rather than eccentric. Panting audibly, the man gazed back towards his car and dabbed his forehead with a large, damp handkerchief.

Fallen arches, Sebastian surmised, wondering what surprises were in the briefcase the fellow was clutching to his sweaty bosom.

The flat-footed man's companion mounted the steps.

Sebastian sucked in his stomach, arched his neck ever so slightly and beamed a winning smile at the dark, slim, handsome and hatless youth in white cotton slacks and open-necked shirt, whose sun-dazzled eyes were blind to the apparition in deep shadow at the rear of the verandah.

Reginald waved the guests to low wicker chairs. Before they could sit, however, a discreet cough from the shadows made them jump and peer into the gloom where a young man sprawled elegantly. A tiny wisp of silk covering his groin, fluttered in the light breeze like a turquoise butterfly impatient to escape. As an ornament to accentuate the golden hue of Sebastian's satiny skin it was perfect. As a garment to conceal his manhood it failed exquisitely.

'Lovely weather,' Sebastian murmured, lavishing a seductive smile on the startled youth. 'How thoughtful of you to visit us. Forgive my not rising to greet you, but I have a gammy leg. Are you lost? Tourists? Selling something?'

'No… no… we're…' Apparently mesmerised by his host's groin the young man's voice faded to a whisper.

'We're not selling anything—we're giving it away!' flatfoot interrupted, eyes studiously avoiding the piece of anatomy from which his companion seemed unable to drag his gaze.

'Why? Isn't it any good?' Sebastian's smile was innocent.

'On the contrary! It is the greatest gift ever offered to mankind.'

'My mother told me never to accept gifts from older men,' Reggie growled. 'They always want something in exchange.' He gestured impatiently. 'Please! Sit down, both of you.'

The youth failed to conceal a grin and dropped gracefully onto the soft cushions of the low chair.

The older man lowered himself suspiciously into his, coughed twice, stood up and gazed around as if checking the exits, appeared satisfied, sat again heavily, clutched his briefcase to his chest, stared fixedly at Reginald and announced, 'I am referring to the gift of joy one experiences when one truly knows and lives with God.'

'That must be you,' burbled Sebastian to the handsome adolescent. 'You're like a young god.'

'No… No I'm only William.'

'Well, Only William, I'm Sebastian and this is Reggie. Do you live with God, William?'

'Yes… No… I mean… yes but… I live with Dad.' He nodded towards the older man.

'Your mother must be exceptionally good looking.'


'You bear no resemblance to your father.'

William had time to flash a smile before succumbing to an apparently serious cough.

'My name is Henry Shatter,' the homely and sweating father announced brusquely, 'and we are here to offer you everlasting happiness.'

'How nice of you, Henry.'

'Now, let's see if I've understood everything,' Sebastian said with a frown of concentration when Henry finally stopped talking. 'When God's sick of watching us muck everything up, he'll let us live in peace, love, health and harmony with everyone and everything for ever and ever... as long as we belong to your gang.'

'It's not a gang—it's a congregation. But…yes.'

'Imagine, Reggie, you and me—lovers for eternity.'

Reginald's expression was enigmatic.

Henry turned an unattractive shade of grey. 'No, no! There will be none of that!'


'Sodom and Gomorrah!'

'Blessed if I know them.'

'Cities of evil punished by God!'

Sebastian leaned forward and patted the old man's knee. 'No worries, Henry, we're not evil. You'd be hard put to find anyone more law-abiding and honest than us. Isn't that so, Reggie?'

Reginald rumbled assent.

'You may be honest and law-abiding, but you've just admitted you are a homosexual!' Henry paused and pulled a face that suggested merely saying the word had somehow polluted his throat. 'It is against God's law.'

'So god hates us?'

'No! He loves you but hates your actions.'

'Goodness! Then why did he make us like this?'

'To test you. To see if you could overcome your affliction and be worthy of his love.'

'I don't feel afflicted.'

'God sends troubles to test our worth.'

'Like plagues, pestilence, war and death?' Sebastian smiled brightly.


Sebastian's smile dissolved into a frown. 'Are you sure he's a loving god, Henry? Maiming, laming, murdering and spreading dread-diseases—just to test us? To see if we are worthy of his love?'


'Did you hear that, Reggie. God sits up in heaven organising his own snuff-movies.' Sebastian turned to a drop-jawed William. 'Doesn't it strike you as the teeniest little bit perverted, Only-William?'

'I… don't think it is meant to be...'

'We are not here to question God's works!' thundered Henry. 'The bible says that homosexuals may never go to heaven.'

'Homosexual is an adjective, not a noun, Henry, and it carries such a lot of baggage. Reggie and I are same-sex-oriented men.' He smiled winningly. 'And remarkably fine specimens—don't you think?' He stretched and the wisp of blue silk trembled precariously. 'Also, Henry, a statement that begins 'All homosexuals…' will be both false and meaningless.'

'It won't.'

'No? Are you the same as all heterosexual men?'

'Of course I am!'

'Most murderers and child molesters are heterosexual.'

'Well... yes.'

'That one word, heterosexual. Does it adequately describe you, Henry Shatter?'

'I repeat, God hates the sin, but loves the sinner.'

'Parried like a politician. So, you love me, but hate what you think I do?'


'What do I do?'

'All homosexuals are unhappy because they reject god's love, subvert young boys into their foul practices, undermine family values, indulge in promiscuous sex with multiple partners like… like dogs!' Henry glared at his silent hosts, paused indecisively, then, drawing strength from faces which were the picture of concentrated interest and credulity, He dared the final lunge—'and then God punishes them with AIDS.'

An appreciative silence, then….

'Does that describe us, Reggie?'

'Nope! Always preferred it from the front, myself. Never cared for the 'doggy' position. Like to see who's doing what to whom.'

A thoughtful silence followed this revelation.

'You will never attain eternal life and happiness unless you renounce your evil ways and beg God's forgiveness,' Henry asserted with only slightly less conviction.

'Oh, Reggie, we can't go to heaven, 'Sebastian wailed, whipping off the tiny bit of silk and dabbing at his eyes. 'It's unfair, Henry. You must have misunderstood God's intentions.'

Henry shrivelled back into his seat. William slithered forward.

'Cover yourself!' Henry ordered. 'God hates perverts!'

'Oh, but so do I! We only indulge in good clean fun, don't we, Reggie?'

'Sexual congress with another man is unnatural!'

'It's perfectly natural for me! Don't forget Christians were stoning left-handed people not so long ago and burning women who spoke in church.'

'Sex between men is wrong!'

'Poor Henry. You're obsessed with sex! Don't you know the Bible has no sexual ethic? But it does have a 'love' ethic. What do you mean when you say you 'love' me, Henry?'

'I love you as Jesus loves—in purity.'

'According to Luke, Jesus told us 'to judge for ourselves what is right.'

'You think that you, a sinner, can ever know God's intentions?'

'Know thy enemy, Henry.'

'God's purpose for sexual union is children.'

'Is William your youngest?'


Sebastian turned his brilliant smile on William. 'How old are you, William?'


'Then, Henry,' gasped Sebastian in horror, 'you haven't had sex for over nineteen years! Poor darling!'

Henry's eyes glazed. 'William! We are going.'

'But, you can't go! You came to save us!'

'You must want to be saved.'

'I do!' cried Sebastian, leaping up. 'I do! I do!'

Henry struggled to his feet.

'I insist you save me,' ordered Sebastian petulantly, placing both hands on Henry's shoulders and pressing him firmly back into the chair. 'Especially since you have accepted our hospitality.'

Positioned directly in front of the older man, hands on slim, evenly bronzed hips, Sebastian stared sorrowfully at the averted eyes of his guest. 'Do you realise, Henry, that hundreds of people regularly pay a great deal of money to see me like this, and you are turning away your gaze? What on earth's the matter with you? Don't you like God's handiwork?'

'You have sold yourself to the devil and are perverting God's plan. A good man would cover his unclean parts.'

'Speak for yourself! I showered minutes before you arrived. You despise God's handiwork and are obsessed by sex, whereas I am content with the life God gave me.'

'You twist my meaning. God doesn't hate you, he hates your actions.'

'I am my actions, just as you are yours.'

'No! You can be changed. You can become like me, pure in mind and body.'

'Quite frankly, the offer doesn't appeal. I think I enjoy this world rather more than you, and certainly do less harm to my fellow men.'

'How dare you!'

'How dare you? Your assertion that my life is evil, is an attempt to destroy my self-respect, contentment and love of life!'

Sebastian's voice had attained the cutting edge of a practiced tub-thumper. In vain did Henry plug his ears. 'Everyone is different, Henry. You surely didn't choose to be a creepy fat maggot. Reggie didn't choose to be a gorgeous hunk, and William was born cute, curious and lively. Unless you accept people as they are you are doomed to die as you live - a moral and mental cripple.'

Sebastian paused for effect, threw himself onto the divan in a pose evoking Michelangelo's Adam receiving the gift of life, and beamed a winning smile. 'No offence, Henry, but I hope you rot in hell for a thousand years for every young man who kills himself because of your mind-poisoning lies and malignant dissemination of guilt.' He sighed sorrowfully into the ensuing silence and, with a sensuous stroke of flanks and a fluttering of lashes at William, threw back his head, the better to expose a fine neck.

Henry, as thick-skinned as the next salesman, took up the gauntlet. 'Guilt is it? The guilt is in wrong action! I point out the action to allow the sinner to meet God!'

'Let God tell me himself.'

'I am his messenger.'

'If God is infinitely smart, then he would choose someone infinitely more attractive than you as his messenger.'

'St. Paul, in his letters to the Romans...'

'According to Gore Vidal, St Paul was bonking Timothy and, preferring his young men cut, had him circumcised. A dangerous operation at that age. He made him Bishop of Antioch as a reward. No! Don't interrupt!'

Henry subsided in horror as his inquisitor stood again and leaned over him.

'Even you, Henry, must know that the Bible's a tendentious translation from Greek and Hebrew texts. The word homosexuality was invented in the nineteen-fifties. Prurient pastors, no longer able to rail against women and other races, turned their persecutory talents to sexual orientation, rendering millions miserable and causing thousands of suicides.'

With a supreme effort Henry surged forward knocking Sebastian back onto the divan, grabbed his son's wrist and hauled him down the steps and along the leaf-strewn path to his car.

'Oh well, can't convert 'em all,' sighed Sebastian philosophically. 'Pity about William, though.'

'Henry was in such a rush to escape contamination he left his briefcase,' Reginald observed with a quiet grin.

William ran back and, smiling shyly, bravely faced Sebastian who was standing at the bottom of the steps with the briefcase.

'One day you may want to talk to someone,' Sebastian murmured, slipping a card into William's hand. 'That's our address and phone number. We'd be delighted to see you—any time at all.'

William took the briefcase and lightly brushed his host's fingers before racing back to God's messenger of mercy and grace.

If you enjoyed this story, you might also like the novel, Sebastian, the bizarre tale of his and Reginald's youth.

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