Blessed Be the Merciful

by Rafael Henry


In those moments waiting for Sorin, I have grown up. Forget the selfishness of the artist, the generosity of my patron Henry, when I'll get fucked again, going to the pub to talk rubbish and think myself clever, lie in my cosy bed too long in the morning, cut college for the day, or two days, the pomposity of a Private View, knowing that Henry will make sure there is always sufficient cash in my bank account, not bothering to think about my dying father……not being responsible .

The School accepted Sorin which was fabulous news and down to Henry, largely. At the interview Sorin certainly won their hearts, despite his dodgy English. I'm sure they recognized his needs and a natural intelligence and sensitivity. Leon sent him over for a good reason. His potential. He plays our old Steinway, and plays Chopin's 'Raindrop' Prelude better now than he did, far better in fact. Leon taught him that piece. One month on, his teachers say he might make a half-decent musician one day. The other boys seem to like him, and Sorin has taken to them too. He plays football and has begun to find silly things funny now. He has always slept in my bed, right from the first night, but not with me. There, but not there. That's very different you will understand. Not with me.

Being responsible. That's the joy of it for me. Getting a bit more grown up about people and things…….little important things like preparing proper food for a growing boy. Seeing that his clothes are laid out in the morning, shorts ironed for Games, shirts ironed, tie tied properly for school, black shoes polished, homework done, finger nails cut, a sock found and reunited with the other one, stories of the day listened to, who are the boys he likes, which teachers does he like, crying with him when he needs me to, and more.

There are other things for Sorin, our sunshine boy, to learn about…….using the London Underground system, money for the bus, opening the heavy front door to the house with the large brass key, using the telephone, sharing uncomfortable thoughts with someone else, understanding why there's a wet patch on the sheet, being allowed to feel anxious or unwell, allowing the doctor to examine him and feel his genitals, being punctual, accepting well-meant affection, learning to trust again, learning to be loved, to know that he is loved by me, not hiding his naked body, that enjoying his body is ok and normal for boys and girls, knowing now that masturbation is not a sin.

'Who is that boy over there?' Sorin asked, weeks ago now. Sorin, just out of the bath and naked, points to the plaster cast of Day in the corner of the room.

'That's a body cast of a real boy who lives in a town in Cornwall. That's a place a long way from here. He's the son of a friend of ours. Do you like him? You can touch him if you want to? He won't bite.' I say, lightening the moment.

I'm interested in how Sorin will react. He walks over to the pure white figure and begins to examine the boy's body, walking around the figure, his fingers hovering close to the gleaming surface.

'It's beautiful Jamie. How old is he?'

'About your age darling.'

'I like him. May I touch him?'

'Of course. He'd like that. If you met him, he would like you too.'

Sorin runs his fingers and hands around the figure of Day, pausing here and there. It was as if the inanimate object was alive and real to him, standing there inviting the boy to touch him so intimately. The fingers, like feathers are light and sensitive, as if the boy was alive to his touch.

Sorin looks back at me, mouth open, eyes alight, his body shining with drops of moisture, untouched. He turns back towards the still white figure bathed in light. The boy looks down, and then back at me as his fingers gently come to rest on the animate flesh, which turns towards the face of the sun boy and smiles.

I'm holding the bath towel waiting for Sorin to face me, and be enclosed by warmth and comforting security.

There are first times too…….the first notes played on the cello Henry has bought him, the first advances from a friend , a first telling off at school, being naked in front of others, being naked in front of me, erections in the shower, the man in the park who spoke to him, talking to adults at social occasions, losing a treasured possession, singing on his own, singing in a group and loving it, wearing long trousers, choosing his own clothes, going to a concert, caught smoking, attending my father's funeral and crying with me, reading letters from Leon, being read to in bed by Henry, and understanding why Henry and I are lovers.

It had taken another two hours to reach the house in Tite Street from the airport. I wanted to know what Sorin had in the satchel he had carried, apart from official papers, all the way from Bucharest. He emptied the contents onto the dining table in the studio. A tiny gold chain falls out with a cross on it, a small teddy bear, its fur worn smooth in places by a previous loving owner, a small black and white photo of Leon and I together on a beach, smiling with arms around backs, and a card with words, the Beatitudes, carefully inscribed with a calligraphy pen in black ink by Sorin himself, commanded by a Jesuit priest, with one of the lines underlined……Blessed be the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.

The story concludes.

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