Now let us imagine that he wishes to take matters one step further, that he wants, having sized you up and liked the size, to give you a try, to try to spark a story which, even if it turns out not to need a formal ending, even if it dwindles halfway, which sometimes can be way enough, nonetheless warrants, in his opinion, the benefit of the doubt, the chance of a start. Well, then, he's going to have to catch your eye-however falsely-bright the lens may be upon your iris, however dilated the pupil at its crux, however retracted, however shot your deadened white may be with blood-he's going to have to catch it; he must. For it is with the eyeball that all stories of this order, since forever in our history, have started, and, despite all the setbacks, continue to start.
Whatever scrutiny may have led up to this moment has been but preparation, research, vague hypothetical wanky musings akin to scanning the contact mag that I described. Incidental; largely irrelevant. Because here, not over there where he stands and peers, is where he needs to be. He can't hope to engage you from afar. We're not at the spacious Savoy Grill now, nor at the empty crush bar during boring acts at the Opera House, much less flying to Sydney, First Class, for Mardi Gras, with time and space and lots of champagne to hand. No. We're in the very underworld, and the place is packed. So he's going to have to come out for the thrill, in for the kill, and he'd be wise not to hang about.
I know that no one likes to sin of over-eagerness, but nor should he, the man, prolong his game too much: for if he takes what seems like undue time to you, and makes you begin to fear that you're being messed about, or not wanted enough, and it all begins to rattle you, you might feel forced to pull yourself together and start to epitomize the only useful word in the French language; and you'll perform that word to perfection, like a star-among-stars, which you are, because you, after all, and after all the hard practice, can act it up and act it out and act it all the way to bloody oblivion. And the word, the word is this: In-sou-ciance.
And such is yours, so subtle and chilled and acquired, like an oyster, that by the time that he, the miracle of miracles, deigns to materialize, he may find himself forced, retching very slightly, to swallow his pride. For by then, which is sorry-too-late, he may find that your eye, your vital historical eye, is otherwise occupied, or pretending so to be, or closed (which is just about allowed), or so close to the eye of some other man that it can no longer focus, never mind bequeath upon the former Mr Sexual Salt the favour of a sideward glance. Because you, my dear, are not cross-eyed but cross. And he, less fucked than fucked right over. But let's not be petulant at this late hour, three thirty, four, can't make it out; and who cares anyhow: you know it backwards-the hour when you must score even if it kills you, when you would trade for the germ of triumph, which is greedier and deadlier than the germ of lust, every racing corpuscle in your power. Admit: who wants to go on and on and on and on, living endless, unsuspected, undetected, unrequited, single-handed love affairs alone, night after night after night? Not you, you swear, no longer, no more. In which case, look at the whole thing another way, more dreamily, more bravely now, and put your precious untouchable dignity on the line for once. Reel back, rewind to the point where the target of your desire deserves, even as he stands apart from you, to know where he stands; for he has seen you and, as you have seen, passed by you and then observed you from a distance and liked you-yes, liked you-and he's decided, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, in sickness and in health, to come to you, and he has not a thing to lose and whole firmaments to gain and he's going to catch your eye, which darts like a comet, and he's going to entrap it and hold onto it, and devote to it the total, undivided best of all his stuff, till death or daylight do you part. And as far as he's concerned, which concerns you utterly, the rest of the club can die. And this is the point at which you have to banish all defensive foreign tongues and concentrate upon another word-trickily English this time, and murderous to enact-a word which yields and tugs and yields and tugs like the very valve that drives you, and the word is: Compromise. So do it. Now. And smile. And don't look sarcastic. And remember that just possibly, remotely, maybe, if you could see yourself from where, and as, you are now, you too might want to love you. And relax.
Which, of course, you don't. You can't. It may be late and you may be drunk and you may still, marginally, be drugged, but as for smiling, well, you'd rather swill down a long glass of saliva. Yet you do manage, and without edge for once, to look at him as he advances: hotly, directly you look, and long enough to verify that although he doesn't smile either, he hugely stares back, as if ravenous. And you think to yourself that this is a man who could stand on a cliff and place his open palm beneath the small of your back and raise you like the feather of a gull and send you flying. And you see, as he draws away his can of beer and his Adam's apple gulps, you see the outline of the shadow of the orb of the back of his head, which in your mind's eye you have already sculpted a thousand times, tilt back, as if in agony. But you cannot help or redeem him. You have expired. And then, as you begin to turn your neck minutely away, by two degrees, in sheer black terrified panic, he does that thing which strong, modern, hopeful lovers do with their mouth, and he does it pointedly, unmistakably and without question at you, aiming at the outer ridge of your right, bared, clavicle. He blows. Like a god bringing you to life, he blows. And then he blows again. And that's when you know that you've won. Which is the very instant of your loss. Again and again.
Excerpted from The Abomination by Paul Golding. Copyright © 2002 by Paul Golding. Excerpted by permission of Vintage, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.