Want

Several years ago I wrote a trilogy about Depeche Mode. This part, 'Want', is the second, from 2012. When I finished the first, 'SPAL (Sex. Pain. Angel. Love)', I thought that Alan's character was left uncovered, looking a typical anti-hero. But stereotypes are something I do not like, so I decided to show the situation described in SPAL from Alan's viewpoint: what and who he saw as right or wrong, with the benchmark switched.

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2. Chapter 2

 

Is simplicity best
Or simply the easiest
The narrowest path
Is always the holiest*
So walk on barefoot for me
Suffer some misery
If you want my love
If you want my love

Man will survive
The harshest conditions
And stay alive
Through difficult decisions
So make up your mind for me
Walk the line for me
If you want my love
If you want my love

Idle talk
And hollow promises
Cheating Judases
Doubting Thomases
Don't just stand there and shout it
Do something about it

You can fulfill
Your wildest ambitions
And I'm sure you will
Lose your inhibitions
So open yourself for me
Risk your health for me
If you want my love

*Matthew 7:13  “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.”

  Alan always thought that this song was about Martin. The best song about Martin he had ever heard. Even Martin would probably agree. At that time he even took a new nickname to сheck into hotels while touring - “Mister Iscariot”. But at first Martin didn`t recognize himself in Alan`s setting of the song. Well, Martin actually rejected it hard and coldly. He didn`t like it at all, although Alan thought his version was truly genius. It reminded him…California...probably, yeah. Midday. Lazy, passive, and relaxing July midday. Melting air over the fields. Everything seems so good,  but you find it terribly impossible to breathe; you feel totally scared of this alarming tranquility. It seems you are just to have fun, but even birds have stopped singing. The only thing you can hear is sunrays scorching the last life out of the half-dried grass and probably several roulades of a lonely cicada gone nuts because of the heat. Strange, unnatural, somnambulistic, almost pre-apocalyptical tranquility. Nobody knew what was going to happen - either a storm or a tornado, a hurricane or maybe an invasion of locusts that were like horses prepared for a battle, with their men-like faces and women-like hair, or what the hell John the Revelator had promised. Anyway, in that painfully relaxed cheerful midday one felt less optimism than in the maddening calm of a threshold of a terrible storm. 
   Pre-apocalyptical pathological calmness. Martin was radiating it. Alan thought that the song arrangement…it was some kind of a strange impressionistic sound portrait by him, “The picture of Martin Gore”. Probably, that`s why Martin was too mad to acknowledge this fact. Alan was younger at that moment; perhaps, he should have had excused Martin, but he never thought about it. It is unlikely that this heavy burden was that easy for him to carry, and Martin would unlikely ‘talk about it’, as psychoanalytics would say. Just because he never had a choice. Just because he`d already chosen it for himself. It was the way that he was led by his talent, that made him sacrifice himself and sacrifice those miserable bastards who were foolishly led by him. Then again, would they get right with him if they`d thought he wasn’t strong enough to accomplish his goal? Of course not.
   They would never forgive him his weaknesses, and he never dared to fall down in their eyes. He never dared to fall down in his own eyes. He was just moving forward weighed down by this burden. Switching off  his senses and emotions, fighting everything that was humanlike in him, because he was afraid of breaking. And he had nothing humanlike at that time. Dave regarded him as God. Alan thought he was a mechanical toy with a painted-on grin. In fact, they were both wrong. He was just a man trying to survive, and he did survive despite all the losses and wounds he had had.  Although all of his wounds were self-inflicted. They all were great at the ability to tear their flesh apart at that time. But they all survived, by the way.
   Still, Alan couldn`t see it then. He was sitting in the eye of a hurricane and couldn’t know it was destroying everything around. He just thought that Martin was an arrogant bastard, who couldn`t be grateful for what Alan did for him – him, who worked his guts out and could hardly excel himself in that genre another time in his life. Alan started laughing, hiding his face in his palms:
  ‘’Idiots, Dear God, what idiots we’ve been!’’ he said and stood up from his chair to take a shower and change his clothes.
  He was laughing about that itching sense of shame he still felt, recalling how hard they struggled with Martin that time. To tell the truth, Martin really impressed him. Fanatic pedantry of his nature in their work had never manifested itself so vividly. Martin forgot his gentleness and pliancy, and pushed Alan with all the power of a typographic press; he stood his ground and refused to give the Enemy even a single inch of his scorched land. In his turn, Alan stubbornly pushed him to do what he knew was better for them all. They had shouted at each other for good eight hours. Flood, their sound-producer for Songs of Faith and Devotion, tried to reconcile them but got hit from the both sides, took offence, went downstairs into the basement, and locked himself in the Laundry room. Fletch asked them to hush the fuck up their roars, but Alan recommended him to go and learn to clap his hands better, because they`d be on tour soon, and Fletch was paid as a fully functional musician.
“Exactly. And it would be better for you not to forget who I am!” Fletch replied gloomily, looking at him over his glasses.
   Then came the Dave whom they hadn`t seen for two days as he never got out of his room. He asked them to stop shouting because it made him nervous. It was mere his bad luck that he got Martin`s fist in his face. Martin should never even shout at Dave. It was absolutely forbidden. Ever. Everybody could, but Martin couldn`t. 
   Dave reminded a sheep dog to Alan sometimes. Especially at that exact moment. Like for any purebred dog, very proud and sensitive, hearing his Master scolding him was a real shock for Dave. He was stunned with fear to believe that his beloved Master raised his voice and hand to him; he failed to recognize what he had done wrong because he was just trying to please him…then came the tears. Drugs did their job, although it was always hard for Dave to manage his emotions. He came up with a hysterical breakdown. Normally, Martin would apologize several million times and try to console him.
   But that time only some black fire flashed inside his eyes, then he clenched his teeth and said he hated them and let them do what-fucking-ever they wanted, and left for the pub.

  Martin was still sitting there, leaning against the bar and swinging his legs on a high stool. It was just that fucking dude who was now blithely sitting near Martin in Alan`s place. As it could be seen, communication held them, Martin and the kinky guy in leather сap and cross-harness, in a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Alan came from behind and took Martin's neck into his hook-bent elbow, making it impossible for him to breathe, and pulled him back so that Martin was lying on him now:
“I sincerely do hope I interrupt you, gentlemen,” Alan informed them through his clenched teeth.
  Martin hissed something untranslatable, grabbing Alan`s arm with his hands and obviously fighting to breathe. The kinky Leather Dude was alarmed by Alan`s aggressive possessiveness and disappeared quickly.
“Home. Now,” Alan said to Martin, who was trying to clear his throat. 
  They went upstairs to the front door, then got out to the street in complete silence. Martin didn`t say a word about what had happened. Alan kept silent too. Not that he was mad at Martin now, but he was worried about the strength of the rage attack he felt when he saw Martin talking to someone else. He almost strangled him, and he was worried about it. 
“What`s wrong with you?” Martin finally asked him as they walked down the street to the Thames. 
“What`s wrong with you?” Alan retorted grimly. 
“Listen, it`s just…we were talking…”
“As I am Charles, the Prince of Wales.”
He grabbed Martins arm, dragging him aside.
“Where are you taking me?” asked Martin rather calmly, following  Alan to a solitary construction site. They felt crunched pieces of fallen plaster, boards, glass, metal, and some other garbage, unidentifiable at night-time, under their feet. 
“To talk…” Alan replied through his clenched teeth.
  Martin`s face held a strangely smug expression, either from alcohol or by nature. He was surely impressed by Alan`s outburst but not in the sense Alan would be happy to know. Alan looked askance at Martin; he was surprised that even in the dark he saw that his eyes were green. They were glowing with bewitching green light right from their depth, fatally mesmerizing Alan like some sort of will-o'-the-wisps. To see the will-o'-the-wisps was a bad sign in the land where Alan was born, but it seemed that to meet Martin was even a worse one, so he had nothing to lose.
   Alan grabbed Martin`s shoulders, turned him around and pressed him against the wall with all his heart. Exactly against the motto “Kip Britin Vait!” written over the painted “SHARP” emblem of antiracist skinheads. He didn`t give Martin a chance to realize what was going on and dug his lips into Martin`s mouth, clumsily biting his lip at first because he was too scared to miss it. 
  Alan`s heart was beating so fast and loudly in his ears that it almost hurt. He heard nothing, even his own heavy breath and Martin`s gasps, only this fucking ‘boom-boom-boom’; he was too scared to open his eyes. When he realized that the dice had been cast, fear paralyzed him. In fact, it was the worst kiss in his life. His worst nightmare came true. He almost bit the lad`s lip through, too scared to stop the kiss because then he`d meet the consequences. He hoped that Martin`s adequate reaction would come before them, but the time was passing, and his breath was almost over, as well as his ignition.
  Martin stood still. 
  He didn`t move a fucking musсle.
  Absolutely. He didn`t even grab Alan`s arms, although he should have done it instinctively out of fear to fall back when Alan pushed him up to the wall. Now all Alan wanted was to die. He wished Divine Powers would struck him down with the Thunder from Heaven on that shitty construction site right then and turn him into dust under those glowing green eyes. Because Martin was just staring at him silently. Alan felt like Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo; in simple words…totally fucked up. It was an epic fail. What the heck should he do now?
“You don`t like me?” Alan asked in a husky voice. Well, now he really had nothing to lose.
“I do like you…I believe…” Martin said calmly.
  Alan felt cramp at the back of his head from both sides. He put one hand on the right from Martin`s head and the other on the left, pressing his palms against the brick wall. He was glaring at the lad darkly. He wanted to ask Martin if he was sure he knew what to do when kissing, as he became tired to be the one and only idiot here. But his sense of humour left him completely.
“The things you do…I think I…like them too.”
“Oh no, really?” The sort of metallic sound in Alan`s tone was indescribable.
  Instantly another idea struck him. Oh, what a fool he had been. What if…
“Dave?” he asked.
“Dave - what?” Martin replied quickly. Too quickly.
“Well, you and…Dave...is there something going on between you two…er…I don`t know…some kind of relationship? Are you, like, you know…together?”
“Oh, obviously, we are not,” Martin sighed.
  If Alan was more clever at the time, he would notice that Martin almost betrayed himself with this “we are”. He should have understood that Martin and Dave were “we” even then. He would run away from that construction site, hurrying like a bitch from hell, but he was too young, too dumb, too inexperienced; he was tired and horny, also drunk and mad, and his mind was focused on solving the problem of Martin resisting to kiss him back. So, Alan heard only one word: “no”.
“Why don`t you kiss me back then?”
  Martin shrugged; he was sure it was a complete answer. Alan had never been as close to murdering a man as at that moment. Without saying a word Martin stood up on his toes, touched Alan`s angry face with his both palms softly, and gently placed his lips on Alan`s. It was too hard for Alan even to unclench his teeth. The idea to kill Martin still seemed more attractive to him than kissing, but the lad became surprisingly persistent. Slowly, tenderly, somewhat pedantically gently he was placing short soft kisses on Alan`s upper and then lower lip. His tongue was teasing him and it was almost ticklish, so Alan even opened his mouth to say that to Martin…but the latter just used the advantage to deepen his kiss. He did even more - he used Alan’s distracted attention to turn him around and press him against the wall with his own body, continuing his slow and gentle kiss. Oh, you fucking bastard, you can kiss, Alan thought. Martin really liked to kiss and wasn`t afraid to show his interest. Alan started to melt. He fucking liked it. Maybe it was even better that he hadn’t killed Martin? Alan laughed at his own thought.
    He made some clever movement to return Martin to the original position. Despite his expectations, Martin neither resisted nor defended his active position - he was willingly accepting Alan, catching his lips with his own and moving towards. Alan felt he was desired for. It was a turn-on. A fucking turn-on.
    He put his hands underneath Martin`s sweater and felt the burning heat of his skin. Martin almost jumped with Alan`s touch because his hands were as chilly as ice. The night was pretty cold, so was the brick wall from which his palms took in the chill, but he forgot about it.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Alan bowed his head in shame.
“I probably would,” Martin laughed.
  Their lips entwined with a wet juicy sound, and the feeling of unity absorbed them both. They were here in the street alone; they were together. It was like the world outside never existed. Their kisses became shorter; their breath was rushing, and their heads were turning. Alan`s hands slid up then down Martin`s back and became as hot as his skin. Alan moved his palms to Martin’s navel and up and stopped on his chest, holding his sweater up to his armpits. 
    Martin groaned and arched his body forward, pressing his thighs into Alan`s, unambiguously hinting at his body’s reaction to Alan`s treatment. Alan seemed to have missed the moment where they`d stopped kissing and started to make love. And he never would if some drunken bum hadn’t appeared from nowhere and cursed them:
“Go `way, fockin` fags!”
  They`d forgot all decency.
  Alan jumped away from Martin like a scalded cat. 
“Holy shit!” Alan thought his heart would jump out of his chest from the infernal mix of fear and desire.
  He thrust to the right corner, pulling Martin with him, as a glass bottle slammed against the wall where they stood a moment ago.
“We are fucked!” 
“Ha-ha-ha-ha,” Martin expressed his opinion of the situation and followed Alan on a short path over the fence.       
  When they ran far enough, they stopped on one of the main streets which was lit sufficiently. Alan bent over, leaning against his knees, trying to catch his breath:
“ If...if…”  he spat on the sidewalk in a bad manner. “Holy Cunt, Lord Almighty, if I survive tonight...”
“You will, ha-ha-ha,” Martin said. "You won’t get off so easily! HIS sense of humour is too twisted. What’s the point in killing you now if He could laugh more later?» 
   Martin made Alan laugh out loud. Alan was still fighting for his breath. Martin, however, seemed quite pleased with what had happened. For a “good  boy” he liked to appear he was too calm and confident in such an extreme situation. Apparently, it was a part of his struggle with boredom. Alan began to suspect that the stories about the rednecks beating the shit out of Martin and Fletch almost every weekend were not the complete truth. Well, Martin`s smile was too wide. Some of the chavs probably survived. And damn, Martin apparently missed less physical training lessons at school than Alan. He was walking around him impatiently:
“So what are our further plans for tonight, Al?” Martin said grinning. "Let`s go to the skins; there`s such a nice place to make out.”
“Oh, please go ahead, you can do it without me,” Alan stood straight now. “I`ve had enough for today.” 
“I need to drink,” Martin said, “I am almost sober. And I have three more hours until work. Not enough time to sober up completely, so I believe there is no point in stopping.”
“Reasonably,” Alan agreed, “if you will be able to understand what to do at work.”
  Martin shrugged.
“I…can`t actually say I understand what I do there every single day, so nobody will probably notice any difference. We`ve got three hours to kill.”
  Alan laughed.
“Let`s go to my place then. I guess we`ll find something to do.  You`ve got nothing to lose anyway, mainly…if you are still drunk.”
   Martin`s loud laughter cheerfully announced to the surroundings that he was there.

***

 Alan had never ever waited for Miller so impatiently. His mind had overworked itself. He was weighing the pros and cons. At first he decided to say yes to any of Miller`s proposals. Then that authentic and oh-so-familiar ill-mannered chuckle he`d heard on the other side of the phone line somewhere near his producer started haunting him. He became aware that he would look like a happy dog who ran hurriedly to his master`s call, and it killed his mood. Obviously, Dan discussed all the details with HIM, as he would never ask if it hadn`t been HIS will. It was absolutely sick to think about it and to be so nervous, but the situation looked equally bad from both sides. If he refused, he would look like a shitty coward, but if he agreed…he would give himself away.
   Alan started to call Miller, but the latter didn`t answer, as if he knew everything about Alan`s doubts. Then Miller left him a voice mail:
“Hi, this is Dan Miller. And you, Wilder, don`t you fucking even dare. See you at the tea party in my office this Tuesday. Don`t try to bring any biscuits.”

***

I want you to call me on your drug phone.
I want to keep you alive so there is always the possibility of murder later.

Alan put a liter of Jack Daniels on Miller`s table.
“Well done, well done! Good boy!” Miller said.
“I am so touched, Dan.”
“Sit down, please,” Daniel pointed to the armchair beside the low coffee table. “Drink yourself?”
“I am driving. Besides, I hate whisky. Do you have white spirit? Or some screen wash? Makes no difference for me.”
“Like I will jump and run to find you some white spirit! I need to talk to you, so eat what you are given,” Dan was kidding, but he said it without any trace of a smile on his face; he even put his cigar out of his mouth.
  It might be really important to him. Alan didn`t want to upset Miller or to show any disrespect for him.
“Do you want to get me dead drunk and take the advantage over my weaknesses in that state?” Alan joked, leaning back in a soft leather armchair.
  It seemed that the talk would be long. Ok then, he could leave his car there and call a taxi.
“Indeed,” Dan wasn`t smiling even politely, just at all. 
  Alan nodded. Instantly he felt like a little boy, though Dan didn`t even push him anywhere. Yet.
“You won`t find enough white spirit here,” he replied.
  Miller generously poured himself a glass of whiskey and a second one for Alan. He drank almost to the bottom.
  So did Alan - not to stutter. 
“So, you saw Mart…Martin?”
“How do you know?”
“Because of Santa Barbara`s phone code.”
“You know Santa Barbara`s phone code by heart?”
“No, I`m just a smart shit. I had checked afterwards. When I heard that painfully familiar “ha-ha-ha”, I was worried where my producer was hanging around - and here I am. He was with you when you called me?”
“Ah, ok then, yes, I was visiting Martin. Just business, but I also wanted to see his new house after his divorce and to talk like good friends, something like that…you know.”
  He refilled their glasses.
“From that time I can`t drink vodka any more. So thank you very much for the whiskey.”
“You are free to choose your poison,” Alan laughed.
“Mart said that he believed it could be incorrect to work on remasterings of the old DM material if you, Mr. Wilder, disagreed to take part. Because of the respect to your creative contribution and input. So, Alan, you should know you are stealing my money if you even try to disagree. I know you don`t need any money for yourself,” Miller was trying to make it sound like a joke, but Alan was just staring bluntly at the wall, so Miller continued, “but Martin insisted that I asked you first, Mr. Wilder.”
“Mr. Gore could call me by himself,” Alan`s voice sounded quite bitchy, “as far as he nicely decided to be that gracious.”
“And why is that? Fancy to ask him out to lunch?” Miller was not impressed by his tone. “No problem, Al, I can call him for you right now. By the way, what time is it? Oh, I believe it might be morning at Mart`s place.”
“No!” Damn, Alan sounded so hysterically that he felt really embarrassed.
  Miller started laughing.
“At the current stage of our relationship I am not ready for this yet. Shall we see each other?”
 “Well, I guess if you feel the NEED to…then, of course, you can meet each other for God’s sake! The most important thing is - for God’s sake only. You two are adult men, and you have families and kids, so who am I to judge you? Actually, I thought you were better than that, Al. No, I was pretty sure about Dave when I saw him first. But, Alan, YOU?!” 
“Fuck it, Dan! It`s not that funny as it seems,” Alan commented wistfully.
“You don`t say so!” Dan laughed again. “It does seem quite funny for me, old boy!”

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