There were many drunk nights in Hollywood.
They were hot nights- nights when your sweat cooled your skin at first, then heated it as the night went on, until everyone around you shone and glittered with droplets reflecting the coloured lights on the ceilings of the nightclubs. Martin loved those nights.
He’d been raised in a small-town area of America by English parents- he’d been laughed at by the other children because of his accent, laughed at because of his tendency to burn. They’d continued laughing until he because a teenager and then they stopped looking at him and looked to themselves, wondering why they suddenly noticed his beauty. Martin was beautiful, in truth. He’d never thought of himself as such until the day it was confirmed by his uncle who whispered such things to him in the close heat of his bedroom at night, when it was dark enough for debauchery to be hidden.
Skin, pale despite regular burnings, angular face made more so by the lack of money in his family and his mother’s inability to get a job and not spend money on alcohol. Piercing eyes, but lazy eyelids that would remind anyone looking into them of a deer, or a goddess lying draped over a sunny rock and watching the sea wash over her fingertips. His mark was his hair- fiery red until he turned eleven, at which point it went dark auburn, burnished copper, un-sanded wood. Long neck, too- long body, long arms, fingers, feet. Beautiful.
Had Martin ever cared for such terms, he would have deemed what he did at the age of sixteen ‘looking for his fortune.’ He took money from his mother’s dresser, packed a bag with clothes and a tin of baked beans, and hitchhiked out of his birthplace to unknown shores.
Then there had been the days on the road- hard days, dodging people who saw his beauty and wanted it for themselves, avoiding police, sleeping in ditches and hiding from those who didn’t care for looks- only blood.
Then, the lights- piercing eyes met piercing brightness and the word was scoured into his mind, scorched into his subconscious- Hollywood. The place where he could live and not just survive. The place he could discover his dream, find perfection by overturning pebbles.
Alcohol always was a distraction for the young and beautiful who lived there then. Martin began to follow in the family footsteps, drinking endlessly, forgetting to eat, becoming thinner and yet somehow more beautiful each day.
There were many drunk nights in Hollywood, and on one of them he met Oliver.
It was on the first night Martin had ever been given drugs. Sweat obscured his vision, but he felt lighter than air, lighter than helium, lighter than the emotions that were sweeping him away. He was ecstatic- life was perfect. Beautiful people never starve in the place where beautiful people are valued above all others. Martin had an apartment of his own, girls fawning on him day and night, boys whom he could tuck dollar bills into and be taken away for a night, to stranger and more exotic things.
There wasn’t anything beyond the drugs he could see until Oliver stepped into view.
Martin had a very specific view for perfection, and Oliver filled all requirements. He grinned at him, fuelled on a high he’d never felt before, and to his delight, Oliver had looked back. Looked at him. Smiled.
Martin felt something inside him as Oliver approached, fighting through the crush of dazzling people. It uncoiled and lurked, like it was a monster and the combination of drugs and heartless love was its awakening call.
Martin reached out to Oliver and pulled him aside, towards a fire escape. He couldn’t tell if Oliver was resisting- he didn’t care. Why should he care? Beautiful people like him didn’t have to care.
He shut the door on them, enclosing them in artificial light that was no longer disguised with beautiful colours. Martin couldn't understand English by that time- he smiled and nodded, edging closer and closer, until finally Oliver closed the gap between them and the beast inside Martin let out a yowl of victory.
They’d led each other to a hotel nearby, checked in, only just staggered up the stairs by leaning on each other, fell back into a dream of what perfection should be like for a person.
Oliver had tasted the drugs on Martin’s tongue, and liked the way they felt. But Oliver had nothing inside of him that was truly evil- he was a person, had an identity, understood that beauty was truly in the eye of the beholder.
When he’d woken up the next morning, his fingers had searched for warmth next to him, searched for comfort against the light that dashed through the blinds and stung his eyes, but Oliver had gone.
Martin sat up and his eyes raked the room, finally falling upon a small, dropped card that had fallen out of the pockets of jeans, cast hastily aside in the throws of anticipation.
Oliver Smith’s name echoed inside Martin’s head- the unobtainable had been his for one night, and the beast inside of him whispered insanely to him, devilishly, seductively, that it could be more. Maybe it had been love. No, no- it had been love.
Martin didn’t flinch as the edge of the card slit a gash in his finger. He let it fall to the bed in front of him, white against white. The blood welled from the cut like a heart lying loose on a bed of cotton, pumping life around it, doing what it was designed to do and killing itself in the process.
Martin licked his finger, and liked the way it tasted.