In a bar overlooking the beach at Salema, my brother met a gay man called Francisco who wanted plutonic love. My brother was seventeen and he had not been home for a while. He wanted to dance all night and he was frightened to be sober. He would let the old queens at the bar paw over his body if they bought him drinks. Maybe I am dramatising this story somewhat, for my brother’s life was easy and his unhappiness was banal. Francisco, however, insisted on my brother’s beauty and dignity. He took him away from Salema, to live with him in a huge draughty mansion beside the sea. Francisco did not have a television, he never put the central heating on, and he was often away for weeks on end on business trips. My brother remembers the nights when Francisco was away, and he recalls with a shudder his furious, desperate attempts to get the heating to work, or to find a novel on Francisco’s bookshelves that was written in English. He would eventually wrap himself in coats and try to sleep.
When Francisco was home he would sometimes wake in the night and cry for my brother. He just wanted to be held, and in this blind need he was reduced to something imbecilic, frantic, and ugly. There were times when he and my brother quarrelled. My brother wanted to get a tattoo but Francisco disapproved. Francisco thought that it would be healthy if my brother got a proper girlfriend. My brother wanted to go out to bars and cinemas where there were young people, but Francisco was increasingly unwilling to leave his mansion, and he claimed that the crowds and music made him sick. He sometimes brought home ecstasy and heroin for my brother, but I guess that it’s not so much fun if you take these things by yourself.
After the crying and desperation, and when Francisco had settled down and was finally asleep, my brother would fish the keys for Francisco’s sports car out of the tray by the side of the bed, and he would drive around the hills above the sea until the morning broke over the coast. Every night he would get a little nearer to the lights of the city, but he always turned the car around to make it home before Francisco awoke. One morning he arrived back at the mansion to find Francisco dead. The old man had been frail and too fond of painkillers. With no wife or children, he had left my brother the mansion and various companies, bank accounts, and shareholdings together worth about thirty million pounds sterling.